Bill Lee to join Harvard Corporation

first_imgWilliam F. Lee, A.B. ’72, a Boston-based intellectual property expert and former Harvard Overseer who leads one of the nation’s most prominent law firms, has been elected to become the newest member of the Harvard Corporation, the University announced today (April 11).Co-managing partner of Wilmer Cutler Pickering Hale and Dorr, and recently the Eli Goldston Lecturer on Law at Harvard Law School, Lee will assume his role as a Fellow of Harvard College on July 1, 2010, when James R. Houghton, A.B. ’58, M.B.A. ’62, steps down from the Corporation after fifteen years of distinguished service.“Bill Lee will be an outstanding addition to the Corporation,” said Houghton, the Corporation’s senior fellow since 2002.  “He’s wise, he understands complex organizations and academic culture, he’s immensely thoughtful and engaging, and he knows and cares a great deal about Harvard.”“Bill is just an extraordinarily able, energetic, smart, and dedicated person, someone all of us on the search committee considered a natural choice,” said Robert D. Reischauer, A.B. ’63, who chaired the search committee and will succeed Houghton as senior fellow. “He has interests and experience that range from law and education and public service to science and technology and medicine.  And he’s stayed closely involved with Harvard across the years — as an Overseer, a visiting instructor, a parent, an admired local alumnus, and someone people turn to for good judgment and advice.”“I’ve considered it a privilege to come to know Bill Lee the past few years, and I look forward to his joining the Corporation,” said President Drew Faust.  “His wisdom and experience, his intellectual curiosity, his feel for people and situations, his deep sense of how institutions can adapt to changing times — those qualities and more have made him an exceptionally valuable member of our community, and will make him an excellent member of the Corporation.”“No institution means more to me than Harvard, and no institution has greater potential to transform people’s lives,” said Lee.  “I’m grateful to have seen and served Harvard from many different perspectives, and I’m looking forward to coming to know the University and its many people and parts even better.  I feel honored and humbled by the opportunity to serve Harvard in this new way, especially at so consequential a time of change, and I will do all I can to serve well.”Lee began his legal career at the Boston law firm Hale and Dorr in 1976, rising to become senior partner in 1984 and managing partner of the firm in 2000.  He played a central role in the firm’s 2004 merger with the Washington-based firm Wilmer, Cutler & Pickering and has served since then as the co-managing partner of the combined firm, familiarly known as WilmerHale.Beyond his experience in managing a firm with some 1,000 lawyers and twelve offices in the United States, Europe, and Asia, he has risen to the front ranks of intellectual property practitioners nationwide and regularly appears on lists of America’s best lawyers in his field.  In 2009, the publication Managing IP named him as U.S. Intellectual Property Practitioner of the Year.  His numerous trials in the federal courts have focused on such diverse matters as laser optics, video compression, cellular communications, remote data storage, secure Internet communications, pharmaceutical products, high-speed chromatography, medical devices, and genetically engineered food.Both before and after his service as a Harvard Overseer, Lee has taught at Harvard Law School, where his courses have included intellectual property litigation and the innovative problem-solving workshop introduced in January 2010.  (For more on the workshop.)  Active in public service, he has served on advisory committees to various United States courts, as well as the nominating committee for Massachusetts state judges.  He went to Washington in 1987-89 as associate counsel to the independent counsel for the Iran-Contra investigation, and also led an investigation of alleged incidents of racial bias in the state courts at the request of the Massachusetts Attorney General.As an elected member of the University’s Board of Overseers from 2002 to 2008, Lee chaired the board’s committee on finance, administration, and management for three years and was vice chair of the executive committee in 2007-08; he was also an active member of the committee on natural and applied sciences.  He was one of the three Overseers on the 2006-07 presidential search committee, and he served throughout his six-year Overseer term on the joint committee on inspection, the University’s audit committee.Lee has been a member of the visiting committees to both the Law School and the School of Engineering and Applied Sciences, and he served on the committee convened in 2008-09 to consider the relations of the Harvard University Police Department with the broader University community.  He was vice chair of the Boston area gift committee for his 30th Harvard College reunion and served on the Boston committee for the most recent Harvard Law School campaign.  In addition, in recent years he has seen Harvard through the eyes of a parent and uncle:  One of his daughters has attended the College, the Kennedy School, and the Business School, another has attended the Law School, and four of his nieces have attended the College.Beyond his roles within Harvard and his service within the legal profession, Lee has served on the boards of a range of other scientific, medical, and educational organizations.  He was invited to be one of the founding members of the board of the Broad Institute, a collaboration focused on genomics and medicine that brings together researchers from Harvard, MIT, Harvard-affiliated hospitals, and the Whitehead Institute.  He has previously served as vice chair of the board of University Hospital (a Boston University affiliate), a trustee of the Boston Medical Center, an overseer of the Museum of Science in Boston, and a member of the Cornell Law School visiting committee.  He has also chaired the board of trustees of the Tenacre Country Day School, an elementary school in Wellesley, Massachusetts.In his student days at Harvard College, Lee was active with Phillips Brooks House and served as a student representative to the joint faculty and student committee on undergraduate life.  After graduating magna cum laude in 1972, he studied at Cornell, where he received his J.D., magna cum laude, and his M.B.A., with distinction, in 1976.  He and his wife, Leslie, live in Wellesley and have three grown children.The seven-member Harvard Corporation, formally known as the President and Fellows of Harvard College, is Harvard’s executive governing board and the smaller of Harvard’s two boards, the other being the Board of Overseers.  In addition to President Faust, the current Corporation members include Houghton, chairman emeritus of Corning Incorporated; Nannerl Keohane, L.L.D. (hon.) ’93, Laurance S. Rockefeller Distinguished Visiting Professor of Public Affairs at Princeton and past president of Duke University and Wellesley College; Patricia King, J.D. ’69, Carmack Waterhouse Professor of Law, Medicine, Ethics, and Public Policy at the Georgetown University Law Center; Reischauer, president of the Urban Institute and past director of the Congressional Budget Office; James Rothenberg, A.B. ’68, M.B.A. ’70, chairman, principal executive officer, and director of Capital Research and Management Company and treasurer of Harvard University; and Robert Rubin, A.B. ’60, L.L.D. (hon.) ’01, co-chairman of the Council on Foreign Relations and former U.S. Secretary of the Treasury.In accordance with Harvard’s charter, the Corporation on Sunday (April 11) elected Lee as a Fellow of Harvard College, with the consent of the Board of Overseers.last_img read more

Read More

Political science, in his marrow

first_imgDaniel Ziblatt may have been born with political science in his DNA. Even if he wasn’t, his fate was sealed to enter the field during a year abroad and a memorable night with a glass of bubbly.The California native was fascinated as a child by tales about his grandfather, an immigrant from Eastern Europe. He spent the year after high school in southwest Germany amid an era of political upheaval and transformation. Only months before his arrival, the Berlin wall had tumbled amid celebration and shocked surprise.Then, on Oct. 3, 1990, Germany, after decades of partition, officially reunited.“I remember this vivid scene. Everyone came outside, and we were toasting with Champagne. It was such an amazing time, and it really got me excited about studying this part of the world,” said Ziblatt.Later, a ride through the countryside with a friend, past villages that seemed out of the 1920s, helped to crystalize his sense that history could be a vital window to the past, present, and future. “You could see the legacies of the past were so present there, and there was so much to understand about where these places came from.”Using history as a lens to explore future political trends has been a constant throughout Ziblatt’s career and informs his work as an author, educator, and researcher. The Harvard professor of government says he likes to delve into “major, and sometimes understudied historical puzzles that make one rethink big theories in political science.”He did that with his 2006 book “Structuring the State: The Formation of Italy and Germany and the Puzzle of Federalism.” Ziblatt wondered how Italy and Germany, two countries that shared so many characteristics and were both forged as modern states in the 1860s, could have turned out so differently: Italy was formed as a centralized unitary state, while Germany became a federal one. His research showed that some well-developed institutional systems long in place in Germany forged the building blocks of federalism. In Italy, those systems were missing, and federalism failed.“The answer,” he said, “led to fundamentally new paradigms for understanding how states form.”In his forthcoming book he turns his attention again to Germany, comparing its development with Britain’s embrace of democracy. Ziblatt hopes to show how the disposition of conservative parties helps to explain why “Germany’s path of democratization was so murderous and disaster-filled, while Britain’s was relatively smooth.“In large part, you have to look closely at authoritarian incumbents and how they cope with the process of democratization,” said Ziblatt. “If there are elements inside the regime that are willing to compete with the opposition, democratization has a chance.” People often tend to overlook such political players because they are considered the losers of the democratization process, or opponents to democracy, said Ziblatt. But they are powerful actors who often play pivotal roles in determining a country’s future.“In a way, the conservative parties are the hinges as to whether or not democracy is stable.”Can such political lessons be applied to the current situation in Egypt? Ziblatt thinks so. If the old-regime elites who previously served ousted leader Hosni Mubarak are able to reorganize themselves politically and agree to free and fair elections, he said, the democratization process could take hold. Only time will tell.Ziblatt forged his path to political science around a lively dinner table that included heated conversations about politics. His grandmother was a leader in the Democratic Party in the ’50s, his father was a political scientist at Sonoma State University, and his mother and two brothers all studied political science in college.“I was doomed from the start,” he said, laughing.He majored in political science and German in college and received his Ph.D. from the University of California, Berkeley. Then he headed east to Harvard.When not teaching, researching, writing, or traveling, Ziblatt spends extra time with his wife and two young daughters. In the future, he hopes to get back to his other love: music. In his office, works by Beethoven, Mozart, and Chopin sit piled in a corner. He studied the piano for years, and for a time considered a degree in music.“There were too many interesting political things going on to spend eight hours a day playing and missing out on everything.”last_img read more

Read More

Researchers find drug that could halt kidney failure

first_imgA drug approved for the treatment of rheumatoid arthritis may also turn out to be the first targeted therapy for one of the most common forms of kidney disease, a condition that almost inevitably leads to kidney failure. A team led by researchers at Harvard-affiliated Massachusetts General Hospital (MGH) is reporting that treatment with abatacept (Orencia) appeared to halt the course of focal segmental glomerulosclerosis (FSGS) in five patients, preventing four from losing transplanted kidneys and achieving disease remission in the fifth. The report was issued online in the New England Journal of Medicine (NEJM).“We identified abatacept as the first personalized, targeted treatment for kidney disease and specifically for FSGS, a devastating and largely untreatable disease” said Peter Mundel of the Division of Nephrology in the MGH Department of Medicine. “We also identified a biomarker that helps us discern which patients are most likely to benefit from therapy with abatacept.”Mundel is senior author of the NEJM paper and an associate professor of medicine at Harvard Medical School (HMS).FSGS is characterized by the formation of scar tissue in the glomeruli, the kidney’s essential filtering units. Some forms of FSGS are inherited and some have no known cause, but the vast majority of cases develop in individuals with hypertension, obesity, or diabetes. Although the underlying mechanism is unclear, FSGS disrupts the function of podocytes, cells within the glomeruli that are crucial to kidney function. While treatment with steroids and some immunosuppressive drugs helps some patients, the drugs’ side effects make long-term use problematic.Previous research by Mundel’s team found that the expression on podocytes of an immune molecule called B7-1 signaled the breakdown of the kidney’s filtering function, leading to protein leakage into the urine (proteinuria) and ultimately to kidney failure. Currently approved to treat rheumatoid arthritis and being studied for other conditions, abatacept inhibits the activity of B7-1, a molecule that is not expressed in healthy podocytes. After in vitro tests indicated that abatacept blocked the primary pathogenic effect of B7-1 expression in podocytes, the team tested treatment with the drug in five FSGS patients, four with recurrent disease affecting a transplanted kidney and one with treatment-resistant disease who was at high risk for kidney failure.In all five patients, abatacept treatment induced remission of FSGS-caused proteinuria. Two of those with recurrent disease have remained in remission for three and four years, respectively, after a single dose of abatacept. The other two required a second dose when proteinuria reappeared a few weeks later and have been in remission for 10 and 12 months, respectively. The patient with high-risk, treatment-resistant disease, who is being treated at MGH, went into remission for the first time in more than a year, continues in remission a year later, and has resumed a normal lifestyle.  While she still receives monthly doses of abatacept, she no longer needs the high-dose steroids and immunosuppressive drugs she had depended on, some of which actually increase the risk for kidney failure.Mundel explained that, while a large-scale clinical trial is needed, he and his colleagues are hopeful that abatacept will prove an effective treatment for kidney disease characterized by B7-1 expression on podocytes. “We have a decade of good experience with the use of abatacept for rheumatoid arthritis, so we have every reason to believe that it will be an excellent long-term option for the treatment of all B7-1-positive diseases, including FSGS and perhaps diabetic kidney disease.”Harvard Medical School researchers at MGH have also identified a key molecule involved in kidney failure. To read more, visit the HMS website.last_img read more

Read More

A challenge from the deans

first_imgHarvard’s deans and the University’s provost have announced a new competition, challenging students to propose sustainable ideas that would improve urban life by 2030.The Deans’ Design Challenge: Urban Life 2030, hosted by the Harvard Innovation Lab (i-lab) and chaired by Harvard Graduate School of Design Dean Mohsen Mostafavi and Harvard School of Engineering and Applied Sciences Dean Cherry Murray, calls on students to work collaboratively across disciplines.“Urban populations are expected to grow by more than 50 percent in the next two decades, creating significant challenges to existing urban systems, infrastructure, and quality of life,” said Mostafavi. “Harvard is the ideal place to develop creative solutions to these problems, solutions that can only come from imaginative and entrepreneurial thinking. Today, we are challenging all Harvard’s students to bring their considerable energy to bear on these problems and together to imagine the future.”The challenge includes four topic areas: responsive cities, urban metabolisms, aging in place, and the future of consumption.  Organizers hope that the topics inspire a variety of projects and approaches, from installations or landscape plans to new business models and social and organizational changes. Any idea that would create change in a topic area is suitable.The challenge mirrors other deans’ challenges in structure.  In fall and winter, the i-lab will support team-building and provide programming, including a kickoff event at the i-lab on Dec. 3.  After an initial submission deadline in February, a judging round will take place in early spring.  Six teams will be selected as finalists and will receive $5,000 in seed money, mentorship, and tailored programs to further develop their ideas in advance of a “demo day” in May. A grand prize purse of $50,000 will go to one winner and up to three runners-up.“The deans’ challenges are an important outlet for the creative energies of entrepreneurial students who want to undertake projects with real-world impact — and to do them while they’re still in school,” said Provost Alan M. Garber. “We’re seeing more proposals, and they’re becoming more ambitious and more impressive. There is every reason to believe that the Deans’ Design Challenge will continue that trend.”“We hope the challenge prompts students to change the way they think about the world around them and to imagine and develop systems and structures that have real impact,” said Murray. “Just like nearly every global challenge, the problems that plague the world’s cities today and in the future will require solutions that combine technological approaches and an understanding of societal and cultural conditions. Bringing these perspectives together to solve real-world problems is at the heart of a Harvard education.”This challenge resembles the President’s Challenge, now in its third year, and the Deans’ Challenges for Cultural Entrepreneurship and Health & Life Sciences, each in its second year. The new challenge fuels growing interest in entrepreneurial programs that cross disciplines and studies.“Most studies at Harvard — like design, engineering, medicine, and business — lend themselves to cross-disciplinary collaboration. Entrepreneurship is a tool that students can leverage as they look to apply their ideas and grow their ventures,” said Gordon Jones, the i-lab’s managing director. “We’re thrilled to be bringing i-lab resources to the Harvard student community via the design challenge.  I look forward to seeing the ideas and projects that result.”last_img read more

Read More

Yogurt may reduce type 2 diabetes risk

first_imgA new study led by Harvard School of Public Health (HSPH) researchers found that higher consumption of yogurt was associated with a reduced risk of type 2 diabetes. Other forms of dairy were not found to offer similar protection.Drawing on health data from more than a 100,000 participants in three long-running studies — the Health Professionals Follow-Up Study (1986 to 2010), Nurses’ Health Study (1980 to 2010), and Nurses’ Health Study II (1991 to 2009) — the researchers found that a daily serving of yogurt was linked to an 18 percent lower risk of type 2 diabetes.Senior author Frank Hu, professor of nutrition and epidemiology, told Forbes that the mechanisms behind this finding “are not well understood at this point. One hypothesis is that the probiotics in yogurt may help to improve insulin sensitivity and reduce inflammation, but this hypothesis needs to be tested in randomized clinical trials.” Read Full Storylast_img read more

Read More

Ash Center and OpenGov Foundation announce #Hack4Congress winners

first_imgThe Ash Center for Democratic Governance and Innovation at the Harvard Kennedy School and the OpenGov Foundation today announced the winners of last weekend’s #Hack4Congress competition to create common-sense solutions that would make the U.S. Congress more efficient, effective, and accountable to citizens.  The two-day event drew more than 150 students, software developers, academics and everyday Americans from across the country, leading to 13 innovative proposals to tackle 5 major threats to the future of democracy in America.The overall winner of #Hack4Congress was Team HillHack for its proposal, Congress Connect, which is designed to facilitate more productive face-to-face conversations between every-day citizens and their members of Congress. Congress Connect, designed by Taylor Woods, Chris Baily, Kat Kane, and Jessie Landerman is a platform where constituents can directly request meetings on the Hill or in their district office, access tutorials to prepare for their meeting, and connect with other constituents who share their advocacy goals.last_img read more

Read More

The road trip of a lifetime

first_img 15Jermont Haines (from left), Tukoya Boone, and Aaron Abdulmalik wear lab coats inside the Biology Labs at Harvard. Pictured in the background is Zion Edwards (from left), Tukoya Boone, Halle Bohner, and Bianca Nfonoyim ’15. Kris Snibbe/Harvard Staff Photographer 12Brendan Shea, the manager for American Repertory Theater’s Community Education and Community Programs, gives a behind-the-scenes tour of Harvard’s Tony Award-winning theater to show how professional artists and designers work with Harvard students to create their shows. Assistant Props Master Rebecca Helgeson works in the foreground as students pass by. Rose Lincoln/Harvard Staff Photographer 14Mott Hall Bridges Academy students Aaron Abdulmalik (at microscope) and Jermont Haines learn about the uses of zebrafish. Kris Snibbe/Harvard Staff Photographer Scholars from Mott Hall Bridges Academy in Brooklyn, N.Y., were thrust in the spotlight when photographer Brandon Stanton, the founder of the popular blog “Humans of New York,” featured eighth-grader Vidal Chastanet describing his admiration for principal Nadia Lopez. The post went viral and a fundraiser was launched to bring the students on a tour of Harvard.The students arrived on the Harvard campus Thursday for a slate of activities built for them. In coordination with Harvard College Admissions and Financial Aid and Project TEACH, an early college-awareness program at Harvard that demystifies higher education and advocates that it is an affordable and attainable aspiration, the scholars got a sense of what college life is really like, exploring hands-on learning activities across campus, from the American Repertory Theater to the Harvard Museum of Natural History. 4Mott Hall Bridges Academy principal Nadia L. Lopez addresses the crowd. Stephanie Mitchell/Harvard Staff Photographer 13Graduate School of Arts and Sciences student Tessa Montague (far left) shows Mott Hall Bridges Academy students Tukoya Boone (from left), Ashanti Taylor, and Sincere Cisco how zebrafish are used to research embryonic development inside the Biology Labs at Harvard. Kris Snibbe/Harvard Staff Photographer 17Kimberly Maddy (from left), Davon Barrett, and Kern Purchas take in a talk inside the Harvard Museum of Natural History. Kris Snibbe/Harvard Staff Photographer 6Photographer Brandon Stanton, the founder of the popular blog “Humans of New York,” listens to speakers during the welcoming ceremony inside the Harvard Art Museums. Stephanie Mitchell/Harvard Staff Photographer 1Scholars from Mott Hall Bridges Academy arrive on the Harvard campus for a slate of activities built for them. Stephanie Mitchell/Harvard Staff Photographer 9Students pack Agassiz Theater to hear Harvard College Dean Rakesh Khurana. Rose Lincoln/Harvard Staff Photographer 7Scholars climb the stairs to Agassiz Theater to hear Harvard College Dean Rakesh Khurana speak. Rose Lincoln/Harvard Staff Photographer 8Sixth-grader Kayla Speller listens to a talk by Harvard College Dean Rakesh Khurana. Rose Lincoln/Harvard Staff Photographer 11Alice Hu ’18 leads a group of Mott Hall Bridges Academy scholars on a tour starting in Radcliffe Yard. Rose Lincoln/Harvard Staff Photographer 5Harvard President Drew Faust welcomes the Mott Hall Bridges Academy students. Scholars raise their hands. Stephanie Mitchell/Harvard Staff Photographer 2Scholars from Brooklyn’s Mott Hall Bridges Academy, including Lakiyah Berry (from left), Madelyne Martinez, and Aniesha King, arrive in the Harvard Art Museums’ Calderwood Courtyard. Stephanie Mitchell/Harvard Staff Photographer 10Davon Mahki and Micah Witherspoon, sixth-graders from Mott Hall Bridges Academy, are pictured inside Agassiz Theater. Rose Lincoln/Harvard Staff Photographer 18Kadeem Gilbert of the Graduate School of Arts and Sciences gives a talk on plant-insect interactions to Mott Hall Bridges Academy students inside the Harvard Museum of Natural History. Kris Snibbe/Harvard Staff Photographer 3Inside the Harvard Art Museums’ Calderwood Courtyard, Jesus Moran ’16 (from left), Dominic Ferrante ’15, and Rabb Curatorial Fellow Chris Molinski welcome scholars from Brooklyn’s Mott Hall Bridges Academy. Stephanie Mitchell/Harvard Staff Photographer 16Jermont Haines (from left), Tukoya Boone, and Aaron Abdulmalik get a lesson in zebrafish from Graduate School of Arts and Sciences student Tessa Montague. Kris Snibbe/Harvard Staff Photographerlast_img read more

Read More

Ahead of her time

first_imgThis is one in a series of profiles showcasing some of Harvard’s stellar graduates. Read our full Commencement coverage.Saheela Ibraheem was accepted to Harvard College at age 15, and arrived at 16. She took ultra-tough Math 55. She was a teaching fellow for Harvard’s largest class, CS50. She introduced President Barack Obama at a reception in March. Now, she is graduating at just 20.So she’s planning a well-earned rest.Ibraheem is a Quincy House neurobiology concentrator with a computer science secondary and an aim for a career in academia. That means graduate school is in her future. But first she’s taking a gap year and, for once, has no specific plans for it yet.Ibraheem, who grew up in Piscataway, N.J., has long been in the spotlight for her academic achievements. At 16, she was named to a list of “The World’s 50 Smartest Teenagers,” which got the attention of the White House. She was invited to Washington, D.C., in early March, where she introduced the president and first lady at a reception to kick off Black History Month.“She’s like the State Department and the National Institutes of Health all rolled into one,” Obama said during a short speech. “Young people like this inspire our future.”Ibraheem became interested in neurobiology in high school — which she entered after skipping sixth and ninth grades — when she picked up a copy of “Gray’s Anatomy” at the school library. She fed that interest at Harvard not just in class, but also in the laboratory of Emery Brown, who investigates the neurobiology of anesthesia and holds appointments at Harvard and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, including the Warren M. Zapol Professor of Anaesthesia at Harvard-affiliated Massachusetts General Hospital.Ibraheem’s parents are both numerically inclined. Her father is a quantitative analyst for a New York bank, and her mother is an accountant. She has three younger brothers, two of whom are in their first years at Yale University and Dartmouth College. Lest her academic accolades give her a big head, one brother reminds her occasionally that he got into Yale, and she didn’t.Being younger than her Harvard classmates didn’t prove too difficult, Ibraheem said, though she recalled that one first meeting with a classmate devolved into an argument about how old she really was. Other than that, she said that being too young to buy some cold medicines or to see R-rated movies were the most significant obstacles.At Harvard, Ibraheem has been a member of the Harvard Islamic Society, and worked with two other student groups: the Science Club for Girls, which provides after-school mentoring at the Amigos School in Cambridge, and, Dreamporte, which uses 3-D technology to teach geography and world culture to foster children.When asked what advice she had for incoming students, Ibraheem said that they shouldn’t shy away from challenging classes, but that they also shouldn’t sacrifice sleep and free time just to study endlessly.“There are so many new people. Meet as many as you can. Maybe try out extracurriculars you didn’t [try] before,” Ibraheem said.Ibraheem said her Harvard experience transformed her from a shy person to someone comfortable meeting people, talking with them, and listening to them.“[It was] definitely enlightening, transformative, unique,” she said.last_img read more

Read More

Putting an artist in her place

first_imgIn 1962, a commercial illustrator from New York rocked the art world with his first one-man show. Some viewed the Los Angeles exhibit as little more than a clever novelty; others mocked its use of commercial subject matter as fine art. But for many, including one artist from a nearby Catholic order, Andy Warhol’s “Campbell’s Soup Cans” was a revelation.From the moment she visited the Ferus Gallery, where Warhol’s 32 paintings were on display, Sister Mary Corita (later Corita Kent) found it hard not to see the world through the lens of those captivating cans.“Coming home,” said Kent, “you saw everything like Warhol.”Kent’s own work, informed by social activism, would soon begin to reflect that vision. “She was exposed to this avant-garde art practice right at the very beginning,” said Susan Dackerman, the former Carl A. Weyerhaeuser Curator of Prints at the Harvard Art Museums and current consultative curator of prints. “And she is totally open to it.”Susan Dackerman, who curated the Harvard Art Museums’ new exhibit “Corita Kent and the Language of Pop,” examines the artist’s 1967 print “handle with care.” Photos by Stephanie Mitchell/Harvard Staff PhotographerDackerman is the curator of “Corita Kent and the Language of Pop Art,” an exhibit opening this week at the Harvard Art Museums that positions Kent and her work as central to an art movement famous for celebrating kitsch and consumer culture. For years Kent has been looked on as something of a footnote in pop discussions, overshadowed by male artists such as Warhol, Jim Dine, and Roy Lichtenstein. But the Harvard show places Kent in the middle of the conversation, calling attention to her influences, her contributions, and her unique perspective.“What we wanted to do was actually look closely at her work, and look at it in a broader cultural, art-historical context,” said Dackerman, “and put it into the art-historical discourse.”The exhibit features a selection of books and films about the artist, and alongside 60 Kent prints includes for comparison 60 works by her contemporaries, among them a print by Jasper Johns. In his 1962-63 work “Red, Yellow, Blue” Johns plays with the definition of color, spelling out the work’s title in black and white. His artistic choice “strips the words of their meaning,” said Dackerman. Similarly, Kent divested words of their original intent in her prints, “but what she does then is reinvest them with other meaning.”Kent’s “handle with care,” an eye-catching green and orange print, incorporates a popular Chevrolet slogan that referred to one of the company’s many car dealers. But for the Catholic nun, the words “see the man who can save you the most,” clearly carried a deeper significance.In Kent’s hands, Dackerman said, the salesman offers you “a Chevy, and salvation.”For Kent, any text was fair game. Lines from the Bible, poems, and even Beatles songs made their way into her prints. One of her richest sources of inspiration was the world of advertising, said Dackerman, who spent years researching the show and writing its catalog with Jennifer Roberts, the Elizabeth Cary Agassiz Professor of the Humanities, and several Harvard grad students. “She also used the ads in Playboy. She was a nun, but she was out there in the world.”That meant Kent was tuned in to the artistic currents as well as the social and religious movements of the time. The Harvard show explores how the reforms of Vatican II, the Catholic Church’s effort to catch up with the times, affected Kent’s output. (Among the many reforms, priests saying Mass could both face the congregation and speak in a language other than Latin.)“Characteristics of pop art and the aspirations of Vatican II overlap; they merge simultaneously,” said Dackerman. “Pop art is also looking for a broader audience. Pop art also turns to vernacular subject matter.”Pop artist Ed Ruscha’s 1968 depiction of the famous Hollywood sign, titled “Hollywood,” helped transform the sign itself into an iconic pop symbol, said Susan Dackerman. Similarly, Corita Kent’s design for the Boston Gas Co. tank on I-93 gave Boston its own pop landmark.Kent saw in both movements an important artistic overlap. Her screen print “the juiciest tomato of all,” borrows from Warhol’s tomato soup cans, and from a letter by a professor who described the Virgin Mary in modern terms that included the repurposed Del Monte slogan “the juiciest tomato of all.” Her resulting work evokes the daily and the divine.“She’s just a really smart artist,” said Dackerman.Born Frances Elizabeth in 1918 in Fort Dodge, Iowa, Kent grew up in Los Angeles and joined the Order of the Immaculate Heart of Mary as a teen, where she took the name Sister Mary Corita. She graduated from Immaculate Heart College in 1941 and began teaching art at the school in 1947. From the beginning, her classroom and studio were hubs of creativity, where students and fellow nuns assisted her with her work. “It’s not really that different from Warhol’s factory,” said Dackerman, “except everyone’s dressed a little different.”Kent’s reputation for innovation attracted some of the era’s brightest stars.“Buckminster Fuller, John Cage, they were all there and they gave lectures and they talked to the students,” said Dackerman. Kent even made the cover of Newsweek in 1967 as an example of the modern nun. But history, said Dackerman, has failed to “put her at the center of anything.” The curator hopes the new show moves the artist “back into that art-historical conversation.”That effort began in earnest several years ago when the museum acquired approximately 70 works by Kent. It was a move aimed at making Harvard a focal research site for scholars interested in the artist, said Dackerman, by adding Kent’s work to Kent material already at Harvard. Between 1990 and 1991 the artist’s estate donated her official papers to the Schlesinger Library, which is currently hosting an exhibit of material from its collection. “Corita Kent: Footnotes and Headlines” is on view at the Schlesinger through Sept. 18.Perhaps Kent’s most enduring images are those at the extremes — her smallest and biggest. In 1985 she created her “Love” postage stamp, bright horizontal strokes of color that hover about a purple “love,” and resemble Robert Indiana’s love stamp from 1973. Her largest piece is represented in the Harvard show by a wall-sized photomural and a 7-inch high model. Many have glimpsed the real thing, but only at high speeds — the giant rainbow swash painted on the gas tank along Interstate 93 in Boston. (Kent left the order in the late 1960s and moved to Boston, where she lived and worked until her death in 1986.)Corita Kent liked to strip words of their initial intent, then “reinvest them with other meaning,” said Susan Dackerman. In Kent’s “handle with care,” the artist uses the 1960s Chevrolet slogan “see the man who can save you the most” to evoke both a deal on a car, and salvation.For Dackerman, the gas tank represents the culmination of Kent’s work in the pop movement, and calls to mind Ed Ruscha’s famous depiction of the Hollywood sign. By sprucing up the broken letters, relocating them to a ridge, and highlighting them against a brilliant orange-red sunset, Ruscha’s print infused the sign with new life and meaning. His revitalized image “becomes this iconic example of pop art,” said Dackerman, “and then, in the wake of that, the Hollywood sign itself becomes this iconic pop symbol and this city landmark.”Kent, who spent much of her life living not far from the sign, couldn’t have missed this transformation.“Corita grows up essentially in the shadow of this sign and she sees this transformation take place,” Dackerman said. “So that in 1970, when the Boston Gas Company says ‘Do you want to paint this tank?’ I think what she does is actually make a pop art landmark for Boston.”“Corita Kent and the Language of Pop” opens Sept. 3 and runs through Jan. 3 at the Harvard Art Museums.Corita Kent and the Language of Pop Art Video by Harvard Art Museums.last_img read more

Read More

Funding the future

first_img 3-D material changes shape as it prepares for next task How unhappy cities attract new residents Creatures of habit A new effort to image the sources of gravitational waves. The development of meta-materials with previously unexplored properties. Using computers to survey urban environments as a measure of economic evolution. Advancement of computer models to help understand how the brain interprets shape. Monitoring brain activity over weeks or months as animals learn complex behaviors.The ideas may sound like science fiction — but with support from the Star Family Challenge for Promising Scientific Research, they might one day be science fact.The Star Family Challenge, whose creation and funding were directed by James A. Star ’83, makes grants annually to high-risk, high-reward research efforts that might not receive funding through other programs.“I’m grateful to challenge chairman Doug Melton and his fellow prize committee members for the rigor and intellectual curiosity they have brought to the selection process,” James Star said. “This is the third year in which prizes have been awarded, and the quality of the winning projects remains extraordinary.”As part of the challenge, the five faculty members selected for the awards — Edo Berger, Katia Bertoldi, Edward Glaeser, Talia Konkle, and Bence Ölveczky — made short presentations to a standing-room-only crowd in the Faculty Room of University Hall.“The Star Family Challenge is remarkable in several aspects,” Dean of Science and Mallinckrodt Professor of Geophysics Jeremy Bloxham said. “First, it brings together faculty from different corners of Harvard. Each time I’ve been to this event, it’s been a treat to hear about areas of research that I don’t think about everyday.“This event is also noteworthy because it’s important today to have funding for people who are generating good ideas, rather than funding for people who are writing grant proposals that meet the particular description of the program they are applying to,” he continued. “This program gives us an opportunity to recognize people who are thinking outside the box and generating truly imaginative ideas, and gives them a boost in research funding so they can explore the full potential of what they’ve been working on.”Edo BergerFor Professor of Astronomy Edo Berger, that potential includes the chance to get a first-ever look at the cosmological events — like the collision of black holes — that create gravitational waves, or ripples in the fabric of space-time.Researchers made headlines earlier this year with the first confirmed detection of such ripples, Berger said, but some information — particularly their exact location — can only be obtained by imaging their source using more traditional techniques.“The first gravitational waves were detected in September 2015 … but when the detectors reach their full sensitivity a few years from now, we will be able to detect these events about once per day,” Berger said. “If we have this new way of seeing the universe, why do we want to combine this with more traditional observations?“Gravitational wave data provides completely unique and new insights into black holes and neutron stars, but it doesn’t give us the complete picture,” he continued. “One key thing that’s missing is the precise location in the sky where this occurred. Without a precise position, we can’t get a measurement of the distance, so we don’t really know the full energy scale of the system. We don’t have an understanding of the material that is present in the system after the merger is completed. Does this merger cause an ejection of material or produce new jets of radiation? We don’t have the full context of this event.”With support from the challenge, Berger said, his plan is to rapidly image regions where gravitational waves are detected, and use computer algorithms to analyze the data in real time to sift through thousands of astronomical objects and identify the subjects of their search.Katia BertoldiThey’ve been hailed as the key to making science-fiction gadgets like cloaking devices a reality, but the development of new meta-materials — materials with properties not found in nature — has been limited by the challenge of controlling stress waves in solid materials.To overcome such challenges, designers of electrical systems have introduced an exciting new model for this kind of work by using topology — a concept that emerged from quantum physics — as an organizing framework. Researchers design foldable material that is versatile, tunable, self-actuated Motor cortex is critical to learn new skills, but may not be needed to perform them, study says The price is right Typically, he said, such experiments are done in a fragmented fashion — researchers develop a task for an animal, and record brain activity as it performs the task, often recording from different neurons on different days.“We build up little snapshots of what’s going on in the brain, but this process is fundamentally continuous,” Ölveczky said. “As a consequence of learning new skills, the circuits in the brain are reorganized. We want to be able to follow this process at the level of single neurons.”To do that, Ölveczky and colleagues plan to turn to another project supported by the Star Family Challenge — injectable electronic meshes developed by Charles Lieber, the Mark Hyman Jr. Professor of Chemistry, chair of the Department of Chemistry and Chemical Biology.“We want to incorporate this technology into our setup with the hope of being able to record from hundreds of neurons continuously as an animal learns a task,” he said. “We will be able to monitor processes that occur on long time scales. What happens after brain injury? How do the neural circuits compensate for lost brain tissue? What happens in neurodegenerative disorders like Parkinson’s or Alzheimer’s? When we put all this together, I think it will be transformative for the way we think about neuroscience and the brain.” “One of the biggest challenges is measurement,” Glaeser added. Because many poor nations aren’t well-governed, very little — if any — work gets done to quantify economic activity infrastructure or even public health.But while it may be difficult to obtain traditional statistics from some regions, images are another story. The question, Glaeser said, is whether researchers could use computers to extract information — such as median income — from images of a particular city.Using street-level images from Boston and New York City, Glaeser and colleagues developed a machine-learning algorithm that examines images and predicts median income levels with high accuracy.Going forward, they plan a pilot study in Indonesia using several thousand images, and hope to expand the work to India, Pakistan, and Bangladesh over the next year.“We want to able to use images to let us measure median income levels,” Glaeser said. “But a whole lot of other things can also be measured — where sewers are open, poverty, and changes in urban development.”Star Family Challenge award recipient Assistant Professor of Psychology Talia Konkle explained her research during the ceremony. Rose Lincoln/Harvard Staff PhotographerTalia KonkleIt may appear easy to recognize everyday objects, like a table, chair, or telephone, but in fact it’s one of the most complex processes in the brain — and one that scientists still don’t fully understand.“When we look at the world, our cognitive system is putting an organization on whatever we see — those are all cognitive constructs,” said Assistant Professor of Psychology Talia Konkle. “The question is, how does the visual system take in light and recognize those things? We can’t possibly have pre-existing representations for all the things we see in the world in our brain, so how do we organize all that?”While researchers understand that the visual cortex extracts information about edges from the images it receives, it’s still unclear how that information is processed into shapes, and then into recognizable objects.“How do you parameterize shape? What basis do you use that contains all possible shapes?” Konkle said. “We don’t know how that works.”In the hope of providing some of those answers, Konkle’s project would use insights from mathematics to develop a model based on curvature, and then rely on behavior and neuroimaging studies to test it.“There are two avenues where this can have an impact,” she said. “The first is just in providing a formal way to predict shape perception, which is a problem we’ve been looking at for a long time. The second is this will provide an immediate, multi-disciplinary tool that can be used in a wide variety of research.”Bence ÖlveczkyImagine trying to understand a film if you only watch one minute every half-hour and you begin to understand the challenge many neuroscientists face, said Bence Ölveczky, the John L. Loeb Associate Professor of the Natural Sciences.While researchers have long been able to use electrodes to record the activity of neurons in the brain, over time electrodes can move slightly, making it all but impossible to record from the same neurons over longer times.“If you want to understand behavioral and mental processes that play themselves out over weeks and months — for instance, I’m interested in understanding motor-skill learning — the ability to record from the brain and see how the brain changes would be very important,” Ölveczky said. Related Taking that framework as inspiration, Katia Bertoldi, the John L. Loeb Associate Professor of the Natural Sciences, and colleagues plan to design, fabricate and characterize new mechanical metamaterials that encode topological properties. If successful, this work could create new possibilities for impact and blast mitigation in engineering, or even pave the way for entirely new technologies.“The idea here is to use ideas from topology to design a system in which we can control the propagation of elastic waves in the material,” Bertoldi said. “That is very difficult to do now … it’s our hope that this will also allow us to explore other properties of mechanical metamaterials.”Edward GlaeserFor much of human history, Fred and Eleanor Glimp Professor of Economics Edward Glaeser said, being poor and being rural were virtually synonymous. These days, however, the rise of urbanization has created a new type of poverty that is notoriously difficult to gauge.“Cities are great pathways from poverty to prosperity,” he said. “But they also create challenges, because just as urban proximity can speed the flow of ideas and commerce, it can also speed the flow of various forms of contagion and lead to increased crime.­ Related Relatedlast_img read more

Read More