John Harvard's Journal
Significant works from three collections—Fogg, Sackler, and Busch-Reisinger— come together for the first time in the Harvard Art Museum exhibit Re-View, at the Sackler. Although prompted by construction and renovation at the Fogg’s 32 Quincy Street site (top), curators have found opportunity in juxtapositions of art from distant cultural traditions. The influence of Classical works on representations of the human body can be seen in later Western paintings in the fourth-floor gallery: here, ancient Greek and Classical Revival depictions of the hunt share space with a hickory bow of native Nipmuc or Wampanoag origin.
Bioengineering Gift, Nobelists in Chemistry
On October 7, Hansjörg Wyss, M.B.A. ’65, gave Harvard $125 million for bioengineering research and professorships. The next day, Martin Chalfie ’69, Ph.D. ’77, and Roger Y. Tsien ’72 were named two of three recipients of the Nobel Prize in chemistry. For more on both stories, see harvardmagazine.com/web/breaking-news.
The Broad Institute of Harvard and MIT, a joint venture established in 2003 to apply human genomics to biomedical research by fostering collaborations among the two universities’ scientists and those from affiliated hospitals and the institute itself (www.broad.mit.edu; see “Genomic Joint Venture,” September-October 2003, page 75), has received $400 million in endowment funding from founding supporters Eli and Edythe Broad. They earlier gave two $100-million gifts, with like support from the universities, for 10 years of operating funding. The endowment will transform the Broad Institute into a permanent, separate nonprofit organization. Separately, the institute was one of nine institutions to receive a grant from the National Institutes of Health—in the Broad’s case, $86 million during the next six years—to identify small molecules that can probe cellular proteins and signals critical to life processes. Broad-affiliated scientists have been leaders in this field (see “The Chemical Biologists,” March-April 2005, page 40).
Senator Charles Grassley (R-Iowa) has continued to stump for higher payouts from private universities’ endowments (see “Endowments—Under a Tax?” July-August, page 65). With Representative Peter Welch (D-Vermont), he convened a congressional discussion on September 8 about “Maximizing the Use of Endowment Funds and Making Higher Education More Affordable.” As the title suggests, the legislators focused on tuition and financial aid. Representatives of academia spoke in turn of their institutions’ broader missions. Princeton president Shirley Tilghman, appearing also as vice chair of the Association of American Universities, emphasized that “endowments are not ‘rainy day’ funds or ‘piggy banks’ being saved for another day; the income that is earned through investments is the ‘working capital’ that we use every day to support our programs of education and research, and importantly to provide substantial amounts of student aid.” In discussion, she said of the growth of knowledge, “When Princeton made the commitment to create a genomics institute, we did not turn around and cancel the department of classics.” Welch may propose legislation mandating a rate of endowment payouts (such as that governing grantmaking foundations), and Grassley made clear that he will continue to monitor and speak out on the issue. Harvard was not an official participant in the discussion.
Interim engineer. Franklin professor of applied physics Frans Spaepen has been appointed interim dean of the School of Engineering and Applied Sciences, during the search for a permanent successor to Venkatesh Narayanamurti, who stepped down in September (see “The Liberal Art of Engineering,” September-October, page 59). Spaepen, Ph.D. ’75, was elected to the National Academy of Engineering earlier this year.
MacArthur fellows. Five Harvard affiliates have been awarded $500,000 MacArthur Fellowships: Wafaa El-Sadr, M.P.A. ’96, an AIDS specialist at Columbia’s Mailman School of Public Health; Susan Mango ’83, a developmental biologist at the University of Utah who has been appointed professor of molecular and cellular biology at Harvard effective next July 1; Adam Riess, Ph.D. ’96, professor of physics and astronomy at Johns Hopkins; Alex Ross ’90, music critic of The New Yorker (profiled in these pages in “An Argument for Music,” July-August, page 13); and Rachel Wilson ’96, assistant professor of neurobiology at the Medical School. In addition, fellowship winner Kirsten Bomblies, a biologist currently at the Max Planck Institute, will join the faculty next summer.
Sustainability studies. With the appointment of Christoph Reinhart as associate professor of architectural technology, the Graduate School of Design has initiated a sustainable-design concentration within its master of design studies program (which serves professional, advanced-degree students). Subjects range from lighting design to studies of buildings’ life-cycle energy demand and broader environmental questions.
Research policymaker. Pathologist David Korn ’54, M.D. ’58, has been appointed vice provost for research, effective November 15. He will be responsible for developing and implementing policies on the conduct of research, especially in the sciences. That has proven challenging as the University promotes interdisciplinary scientific collaborations, involving Harvard faculties and colleagues at the affiliated hospitals, who are often governed by different standards and practices. Korn’s experience as dean of the Stanford University School of Medicine from 1984 to 1995 may prove useful. Doyle professor of cosmology John Huchra has been serving as the provost’s senior adviser for research policy.
International affairs education. The Harvard Kennedy School has introduced a concentration in international and global affairs for its master in public policy students who seek to address challenges in security, human rights, energy, the environment and natural resources, and other global issues. Ford Foundation professor of science and international affairs Ashton B. Carter chairs the faculty group overseeing the new program.
Eating green. Harvard University Dining Services has published a “sustainability report” detailing its use of local produce (apples, eggplant, parsnips), composting of food waste, and efforts to reduce use of materials and energy. Copies are available on line at www.dining.harvard.edu (use the “About HUDS” tab).
Honorees of note. Professor of genetics Gary B. Ruvkun was named a co-winner of the 2008 Lasker Foundation’s Basic Medical Research Award, one of the signal recognitions in international biomedical science, for his work on discovering microRNAs and their role in regulating gene function.…Robert M. Greenstein ’67 has received a Heinz Award, recognizing his work as founder and executive director of the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities, Washington, D.C. The center analyzes fiscal issues and programs that affect low- and moderate-income individuals and families.…Technology Review’s annual list of 35 top innovators under the age of 35 includes assistant professor of chemistry and chemical biology Theodore Betley; Loeb associate professor of the natural sciences Donhee Ham; assistant professor of stem cell and regenerative biology Konrad Hochedlinger; instructor in medicine Jeffrey Karp; and assistant professor of electrical engineering Robert Wood. (For more on Wood’s tiny robots, see “Tinker, Tailor, Robot, Fly,” January-February, page 8.)
Miscellany. Brett C. Sweet, M.B.A. ’00, has been appointed dean for administration and finance in the Faculty of Arts and Sciences. He had been serving in a similar capacity at Baylor College of Medicine, in Houston, following work at Boston Consulting Group. With Sweet’s appointment, interim executive dean (as the position had been called) Robert L. Scalise resumes his responsibilities as director of athletics.…Alan E. Guttmacher ’71, M.D. ’81, has been appointed acting director of the National Human Genome Research Institute, part of the National Institutes of Health.…R. Nicholas Burns, who was U.S. undersecretary of state for political affairs from 2005 to 2008—and the highest-ranking career diplomat in the department until his retirement—has been appointed professor of the practice of diplomacy and international politics at the Harvard Kennedy School.…Faculty members at Harvard Medical School, Stanford, and other institutions will provide content to “Medpedia” (www.medpedia.com), an on-line medical and health encyclopedia being developed for launch later this year. Entrepreneur James P. Currier, M.B.A. ’99, of Ooga Labs, based in San Francisco, leads the effort.
On September 8, this year’s Radcliffe Institute Fellows moved into newly renovated Byerly Hall (formerly the home of undergraduate admissions)—giving the fellows a central location, with offices, studios, common spaces meant to foster intellectual interactions, and all the “green” comforts of geothermal heating and cooling.