Austin, TX’s own blues and rock guitarist Gary Clark Jr. has announced a batch of summer tour dates ahead of his forthcoming studio album, This Land, due out on March 1st, 2019 via Warner Bros. Records.Following a performance at Japan’s Fuji Rock Fest, Gary Clark Jr. will open up his late-summer tour at Rochester Hills, MI’s Meadow Brook Amphitheatre on August 4th, followed by stops at Council Bluffs, IA’s Stir Cove, Harrah’s Council Bluffs Casino & Hotel (8/8); Minneapolis, MN’s Surly Brewing Festival Field (8/9); St Louis, MO’s Fabulous Fox Theatre (8/12); Kansas City, KS’s Crossroads KC (8/13); and Asheville, NC’s Highland Brewing Company on August 19th.Gary Clark Jr. Tackles Southern Racism In New Video For “This Land” [Watch]Following a brief break, Clark will kick things back up the following month with a headlining performance at Morrison, CO’s iconic Red Rocks Amphitheatre on September 4th followed by shows at Vail, CO’s Gerald R. Ford Amphitheater (9/5); Missoula, MT’s Kettlehouse Amphitheater (9/8); Vancouver, BC’s PNE Forum (9/10); Troutdale, OR’s McMenamin’s Edgefield Amphitheater (9/13); Bend, OR’s Les Schwab Amphitheater (9/14); Reno, NV’s Grand Sierra Resort & Casino (9/15); Aspen, CO’s Belly Up (9/17); Phoenix, AZ’s Comerica Theatre (9/24); Santa Barbara, CA’s Santa Barbara Bowl (9/27); and a final performance at Los Angeles, CA’s Hollywood Bowl on September 29th.Clark will also make his performance debut on Saturday Night Live this Saturday, February 16th.Tickets for Clark’s newly announced summer shows go on sale this Friday, February 15th. For more information on tickets and a full list of Gary Clark Jr.’s upcoming tour dates, head to his website.Gary Clark Jr. 2019 Summer Tour Dates:AUG 04MEADOW BROOK AMPHITHEATREROCHESTER HILLS, MI, USAUG 08STIR COVE, HARRAH’S COUNCIL BLUFFS CASINO & HOTELCOUNCIL BLUFFS, IA, USAUG 09SURLY BREWING FESTIVAL FIELDMINNEAPOLIS, MN, USAUG 12FABULOUS FOX THEATREST LOUIS, MO, USAUG 13CROSSROADS KCKANSAS CITY, MO, USAUG 19HIGHLAND BREWING COMPANYASHEVILLE, NC, USSEP 04RED ROCKS AMPHITHEATREMORRISON, CO, USSEP 05GERALD R. FORD AMPHITHEATERVAIL, CO, USSEP 08KETTLEHOUSE AMPHITHEATERMISSOULA, MT, USSEP 10PNE FORUMVANCOUVER, BC, CANADASEP 13MCMENAMIN’S EDGEFIELD AMPHITHEATERTROUTDALE, OR, USSEP 14LES SCHWAB AMPHITHEATERBEND, OR, USSEP 15GRAND SIERRA RESORT & CASINORENO, NV, USSEP 17BELLY UP ASPENASPEN, CO, USSEP 24COMERICA THEATREPHOENIX, AZ, USSEP 27SANTA BARBARA BOWLSANTA BARBARA, CA, USSEP 29HOLLYWOOD BOWLLOS ANGELES, CA, USWITH MICHAEL KIWANUKA AND DJ AARON BYRDView All Tour Dates
Music and entertainment fans across America are still swooning over the on-stage chemistry displayed by Bradley Cooper and Lady Gaga during their live performance at the Academy Awards on Sunday night. Their hit remake of A Star Is Born was one of the more talked-about films going into this year’s awards season, and will even return to movie theaters with 12 minutes of unseen footage and a new song beginning on Friday.The movie has become so popular, in fact, that Korn singer Jonathan Davis took his turn at portraying the fictional story by starring in a parody video—appropriately titled A Star Is Korn. The clip is a shot-for-shot remake of A Star Is Born‘s original trailer. The storyline for the updated trailer was written by comedians Anna Salinas and Heather Alarcón Higginbotham, and features Davis acting as Lady Gaga’s character. The parody trailer even uses the original trailer’s audio throughout most of the video—that is until Korn’s “Freak On A Leash” comes in like a bat out of bell beginning at the 1:30-minute mark. Fans can enjoy the entire trailer for A Star Is Korn as well as the original on which it was based below.A Star Is Korn – Parody Trailer [Video: Pickle Films]A Star Is Born – Official Trailer[Video: Warner Bros. Pictures]Korn will head out on tour this summer for a run of co-headlining dates alongside Alice In Chains and Underoath beginning on July 18th in Austin, TX. The hard rock band is also scheduled to perform at Flordia’s Welcome to Rockville in early May, as well as the inaugural Epicenter Festival in North Carolina the following weekend. Fans can head over to the band’s website for ticket info to all of their upcoming 2019 performances.[H/T NME]
As a boy in northern England, David C. Parkes was upwards of 12 when he got his first computer. It was an Acorn Electron, beige and clunky, with 32KB of memory and one sound channel. He used it to program his own adventure games, set in mythical lands where visitors hunt for objects like gold or keys.Parkes has the keys to his own kingdom now, or at least to an office in Maxwell Dworkin, where he is the Gordon McKay Professor of Computer Science at Harvard’s School of Engineering and Applied Sciences.The academic world he inhabits is not a mythical land exactly, but contains mysteries enough for most of us. Parkes specializes in the arcane mathematical regions where economics and computer science intersect. “If you are working on both,” he said of the two disciplines, “the problems become extremely interesting.”Parkes is an expert on combinatorial auctions, the bidding and buying of complex packages of goods that is one of the hidden algorithmic underpinnings of electronic commerce.Combinatorial auctions inform a hybrid branch of economics and computer science that was pioneered in a 1982 paper about landing slots at airports. What a designer is after in such auctions is “optimization” — getting the most efficiency and value from a decision in which possible choices might number in the billions.It’s no accident that Parkes is interested in operations research too, a branch of complex mathematical decision-making that rose out of Allied logistical demands during World War II. All of his Ph.D. students study it, along with economic theory, computer science, and artificial intelligence.Operations research is all about “making operational decisions about how to allocate resources — for example, how an airline decides to fly which plane where and when,” said Parkes.Such complex decision-making challenges a classical idea in economics: that markets are controlled by rational agents. “Humans are not the rational economic actors we like to theorize about,” said Parkes. So his research aims at designing markets that promote simplicity of interaction for market participants.“We’re in the business of how to solve coordination problems and optimization problems that span boundaries,” he said, and there are many self-interested agents.Parkes wants to construct mechanisms that simplify the decision making that agents have to do. That requires an intersection of computer science and economics. “The Internet itself is at once a computational system and an economic system,” said Parkes of the complex algorithms that underlie modern life. “You have to understand both.”Coordinating decision making in the realm of the Internet may prefigure what he calls “a market of minds.” This future ensemble of connected computer systems would be “like an artificial social system,” said Parkes, and provides structure to the idea that intelligence is modular.Then there is what artificial-intelligence futurists call “singularity,” a point in the future when machines acquire general intelligence that is superior to human intelligence. That may be just 30 years away, said Parkes. “There are all these questions that sound like science fiction.”In the meantime, he added, scientists have to begin thinking of the ethical implications of such shifts.Parkes still has the old Acorn Electron in his home office — a reminder perhaps of the happy accidents that he said have made the past two decades a “whirl” — from a state school in his home village of Holmes Chapel, to an engineering science degree at Oxford University, doctoral studies at the University of Pennsylvania, and a post at Harvard since 2001.“I had this very early introduction to computers,” said Parkes, whose father is a physicist and whose mother a one-time dental office radiographer. “But I never thought that it was an academic trajectory.”And yes, there is life outside computer science. Parkes is an avid cook and gardener, and is refurbishing an old Victorian house in Cambridge with his partner, Robert Carr, an artist and architectural enthusiast. “It’s a work in motion,” Parkes said.
A stunning photograph of a centipede-inspired robot (called a centipede millibot) developed by Harvard School of Engineering and Applied Sciences (SEAS) graduate student Katie Hoffman and faculty member Robert Wood was chosen as an Honorable Mention (tie) by Science and the National Science Foundation in the Photography category in the 2010 International Science & Engineering Visualization Challenge.Of their selection, the editors wrote:Imitating insects is all the rage in robotics right now. Graduate student Katie Hoffman based this 12-legged, segmented robot on the body morphology of a centipede. The top view shows the actuators that control each leg, the reflection shows the flexible connections between the segments, and the penny gives a sense of the robot’s size. Hoffman says most robots that size mimic cockroaches, which have only six legs and much more rigid bodies. By modeling a centipede, she hopes to study how flexibility and body undulations enhance locomotion.Wood, an Associate Professor of Electrical Engineering at SEAS and a Core Member of the Wyss Institute for Biologically Inspired Engineering at Harvard, oversees one of the world’s leading labs on microrobotics. The centipede millibot is part of the lab’s efforts in advancing ambulatory microrobots.Hoffman explained that the photo was not edited in any way, but came straight from the camera. Each of the legs is etched with the words “Harvard Microrobotics Lab” in 150-micron wide text.See the centipede millibot in motion.
Harvard faculty, experts, and President Drew Faust welcomed the families of third-year undergraduates to campus and gave the Class of 2012 advice on preparing for life after college during the Junior Parents Weekend (JPW) program, March 4-5. More than 560 students and nearly 1,200 of their guests attended the annual event.Faust greeted an enthusiastic crowd in Sanders Theatre on Friday afternoon for the program’s official welcome. She recalled that the first time she addressed this group of parents and students in 2008, she urged the new freshmen to explore and move beyond their comfort zones. Now, she asked parents if their children had stretched their boundaries enough to have failed at something during their three years at Harvard.“If not, they haven’t been adventurous enough,” she said. “The good news is, there’s still time.”While she acknowledged students’ anxiety about the economy and the job search that lay ahead, Faust urged them “not to leave Harvard with your heads before you leave it with your bodies.” She said that the 14 months remaining in their college careers was a long time and encouraged parents to help keep their children focused on the present, even as they consider what to do next.President Drew Faust asked parents if their children had stretched their boundaries enough to have failed at something during their three years at Harvard. “If not, they haven’t been adventurous enough,” she said. “The good news is, there’s still time.”Faust’s advice was echoed by a panel of college seniors who followed her address and shared wisdom gained during their time at Harvard. All said that experiences outside the classroom had been influential in shaping their college experience and their plans for the future. Senior Romeo Alexander shared a path that took him from Africa to New York.“I went to Ghana to study the history of slavery after my freshman year,” he said. “I visited the slave castles and learned about my own history and the history of the world. After my sophomore year, I did the Princeton in Ishikawa Program in Japan, in a home where no one spoke any English at all. Last summer I was in Tokyo with Deutsche Bank. Next year I’m going to New York. I’ve got a job helping to sell Japanese stocks.”Earlier in the day, parents piled into Science Center and listened as Harvard’s Office of Career Services (OCS) staff listed ways that third-year students could prepare for graduate school, work, and other opportunities: Take the GMAT and GRE now, while you’re in school mode; study hard, because graduate and professional programs look for a strong GPA; apply for fellowships early in the fall of senior year.Then, OCS’s undergraduate advising guru Nancy Saunders uttered three words that were music to the ears of tuition-payers. “Senior job search,” she said, savoring each syllable. “How good does that sound?”Saunders said that the process of finding a job often begins with an internship during the summer after junior year. She recommended that parents and students visit the OCS website to find out about opportunities. Saunders plugged the Crimson Careers portal, on which OCS has posted 9,679 internships and 4,000 full-time jobs since July 2010. She also urged juniors to look to the fall of their senior year and book one-on-one appointments with OCS career counselors, who see seniors almost exclusively during the first month of the semester.“Not everyone knows that they want to be a banker,” she said. “Seniors are welcome to come in and meet with a counselor, to take the Myers-Briggs personality test, to have a conversation, and to brainstorm.”OCS Director Robin Mount acknowledged the desire of parents to see their children enter the world of work, but said that Harvard undergraduates have broad interests and many different skills, which can make the decision to commit to a career path challenging. She told parents not to be concerned if their child wants to take some time off before applying to graduate school “since 75 percent of Harvard College graduates will eventually get a graduate degree.”On Saturday, parents and students considering a career in business heard from Rakesh Khurana, the Marvin Bower Professor of Leadership Development at Harvard Business School, on the history and future of business education.Khurana noted that business education has expanded dramatically in the past 60 years. This year, for instance, U.S. business schools will award more than 120,000 master’s degrees in business administration, up from only 3,000 M.B.A.s in 1950. At the same time, business schools — originally brought to the university in the early 20th century to professionalize the occupation, standardize the knowledge of practitioners, and tie the action of firms and corporations to the common good — have increasingly become places for students to acquire a credential and to build networks that will further their careers.Khurana said that, to reconnect business education with its founding values, institutions should have an honest conversation about what students need to know and then raise the standards of the curriculum. Moreover, business education should be lifelong. Managers should come back to school frequently to refresh their knowledge.Later on Saturday, parents and undergraduates addressed the common good more directly at the public interest careers discussion, hosted by the Phillips Brooks House Association. Travis Lovett, interim director of the Center for Public Interest Careers (CPIC), led the informal session. He said that Harvard undergraduates can receive funding for public service in two ways: They can come to CPIC with an idea for a public service project and apply for direct funding, or they can use CPIC as a liaison to one of the more than 600 nonprofits that have a relationship with the center.“Our postgraduate fellowship program works with nonprofits in six major cities including Boston, New York, and Chicago,” he said. “Students can see a catalog of job listings on our website. If they’re interested in one, they can apply through us. We interview them and give them feedback. Based on the interview, if we feel they’re a good fit for a particular organization, then we recommend them for the position.”While no one in the audience expected to get rich through public interest work, many were glad to hear that each organization that lists a job with CPIC must pay a living wage and offer benefits.“Most of our positions are between $30,000 and $45,000,” he said. “Commitments are typically one to two years, because many of our fellows go on to graduate school. Some are offered a continuing position, though, and stay on.”Response from parents and students to the weekend’s events was positive. Detroit’s Jeannie Wonders, parent of junior Grant Wonders, said that she appreciated the workshops and information she got during JPW. At the end of the day, though, she said that the best part of being in Cambridge was seeing her son and his friends.“It’s nice to come and see Grant in this environment,” she said. “I got to chat with his roommates. The energy of the youth on campus is invigorating. He can come home and tell us about what it’s like to be at Harvard, but it’s not the same as being here.”
Harvard stem cell researchers at Children’s Hospital Boston (CHB) have taken two important steps toward development of a new way of treating melanoma, the most virulent form of skin cancer.In two letters featured on the cover of this week’s edition of the journal Nature, the researchers, led by Leonard Zon, chairman of the Harvard Stem Cell Institute’s (HSCI) governing committee and a professor in the University’s Department of Stem Cell and Regenerative Biology (SCRB), report isolating a gene that hastens the growth of melanoma tumors, and using an already-approved drug, in combination with a drug now working its way through the federal Food and Drug Administration (FDA) approval process, to uncover new potential therapeutic targets in melanoma.Zon, who is also the Grousbeck Professor of Pediatrics at CHB and who heads the hospital’s stem cell program, said his group is now waiting for FDA approval of a drug that blocks the function of the gene BRAF, which has long been known as a melanoma promoter, and is “planning on starting clinical trials within six months of that approval. We’ll be doing the trials at Massachusetts General Hospital and Dana-Farber Cancer Institute.”The path toward the new findings began in 2005 with the development by Zon’s lab of a zebrafish model of human melanoma, Zon said. It was further accelerated, said Richard White, lead author of the drug-related paper and a postdoctoral fellow in Zon’s lab, by researchers’ use of novel genetic and chemical approaches — including drugs already approved for other purposes — that are uniquely available in the zebrafish system.In the White letter, the researchers report that early in melanoma development, the BRAF gene causes the cells to become more “progenitor”-like, resembling a type of embryonic cell called neural crest stem cells.“We asked what happens in the early stages of melanoma to the cells that acquire BRAF mutation,” White said. “What we figured out pretty early is that one of the things that BRAF does is cause the animal to have too many embryoniclike neural crest cells. So we developed a chemical screen to find molecules that would suppress the neural crest cells.”They then screened a library of 2,000 chemicals in zebrafish embryos to find ones that eliminated these neural crest cells. “We have a common strategy: We look for drugs that are used for something else, and ask whether they can then be used” for the disease being studied, White said. This strategy has the obvious advantage that a compound found to be effective in initial studies can be moved directly to human trials, because it already has FDA approval.The chemical, called lefunomide, was found to inhibit a gene called DHODH. This drug was previously approved for treating rheumatoid arthritis. To make sure this wasn’t only effective in zebrafish, they asked Sean Morrison, a stem cell researcher at the University of Michigan, to test lefunomide on rat neural crest stem cells and found that it interfered with the process of self-renewal. “So at that point we had two really good pieces of evidence — in zebrafish and rats. So we said, ‘This looks really good; now let’s test it in human melanoma,’ ” White said.By combining lefunomide with a drug awaiting approval that blocks the BRAF gene, they magnify the effect of two drugs that taken alone have a smaller effect. Together, said White, the drugs completely knocked out melanoma in several human cell tests, and reduced tumor size in melanoma cells transplanted into mice as well.A second team in Zon’s lab, led by postdoctoral fellows Craig J. Ceol and Yariv Houvras, looked at a chromosome segment that was known to be amplified in human cancer, but it wasn’t obvious which gene was causing melanoma growth. By using a genetic screening approach in adult zebrafish, they were able to pinpoint a single gene, SETDB1, that accelerates the onset of melanoma. “Now that it’s known that SETDB1 is a cancer-causing gene, the question is how to find drugs that block SETDB1. Also, this may be a new prognosticator for the development of melanoma — tumors with SETDB1 may be more aggressive,” White said.
Nicholas Artamonoff was a college administrator, a public works official, the son of a Russian general and military attaché, and an amateur photographer. A private man, he also became an unlikely champion at the center of a new online exhibit created by researchers at Dumbarton Oaks.The Nicholas V. Artamonoff Collection, presented by the Image Collections and Fieldwork Archives (ICFA) at the Dumbarton Oaks Research Library and Collection, in Washington, D.C., features more than 500 photos that Artamonoff took in Istanbul and at archaeological sites across western Turkey from 1935 through 1945.The photos document sites and monuments, many of which have since fallen into disrepair or have disappeared entirely, which adds to the collection’s historical value.To Günder Varinlioğlu, Byzantine assistant curator of ICFA, the body of work reveals a talented amateur who was intensely interested in photographing his surroundings. Although Artamonoff was not formally trained as an architect or art historian either, the images he captured through his lens are the work of a man who was dedicated to his craft and who had a profound understanding of historical monuments.Varinlioğlu and intern Alyssa DesRochers worked last year to organize the collection, while researching both Artamonoff and his photography. Their efforts have resulted in a new online exhibit. The collection’s photos can be browsed or searched by title, location, or key word.Photographed by Artamonoff in 1935, the Ottoman courtyard with an old cypress tree, Istanbul, Turkey.The images show 1930s Istanbul, a dynamic and romantic setting steeped in antiquity and well worth preserving for posterity. Jan Ziolkowski, director of Dumbarton Oaks, described Artamonoff as a “Casablanca figure,” and his Istanbul as a center of “multicultural, polyglot espionage types.” Even though Turkey is across the Mediterranean from Morocco, Ziolkowski said that the latter “has been in a similar position by being sometimes the edge of a tectonic plate between empires, and sometimes an imperial tectonic plate in its own right.”Invoking tectonic plates calls to mind both the constant gradual change and periodic violent change that affect historic cities such as Istanbul. The relentless sun has faded aged frescoes, and the rhythmic waves have eroded sea walls, while successive iterations of urban renewal have claimed such important sites as the Aqueduct of Valens.Varinlioğlu singled out Valens as an example of the urgency of archaeological preservation. The aqueduct, newly surrounded by a neighborhood in Artamonoff’s 1936 photograph, “represents the dynamism of a major center of population like Istanbul, as reflected by the fresh debris of recently demolished buildings. The urban fabric is like a living organism. Its transformation is inevitable, but it should not proceed in an uncontrolled manner at the expense of the cultural heritage.”In later decades, the neighborhood surrounding the aqueduct made way for a highway. The landscape is sure to change further, but the researchers at Dumbarton Oaks hope that this photo collection encourages the preservation of visual and cultural memories, as well as the thoughtful restoration of monuments.The photos document sites and monuments, many of which have since fallen into disrepair or have disappeared entirely, which adds to the collection’s historical value.In the meantime, there is more work to do. Varinlioğlu and DesRochers continue to research Artamonoff’s life to enrich the collection’s context. They have identified additional Artamonoff works in the archives of the Smithsonian Institution’s Freer Gallery of Art and Arthur M. Sackler Gallery Archives. In addition, there are more images from the ICFA inventory that may be by Artamonoff. The exhibit organizers hope that viewers may help determine their authorship. They also hope that scholars, local residents, and others may recognize some of the many unidentified ruins and individuals in the photos.
6Shaomin Chew ’13 leads a yoga class in the Lowell House Tower Room. Katie Sylvan ’13, Eli Martin ’13, Jerry Tullo ’12, and Johnny Motley ’12 hold a pose. Jon Chase/Harvard Staff Photographer 7Members of an intramural House crew team lift their scull into the Charles River. Stephanie Mitchell/Harvard Staff Photographer 18The Lowell House “Blue Man,” otherwise known as Steven A. Soto ’14, strikes a pose as he is carried through the crowd on Housing Day, an annual tradition where all the upperclassmen meet in the Yard to wake up the freshmen and tell them which House they will live in for the next three years. Jon Chase/Harvard Staff Photographer 2Sol (from left), age 6, the son of resident dean Jill Constantino, relaxes under a tree while the children of Cabot House Masters Rakesh and Stephanie Khurana, Jai, age 9, and Nalini, age 12, have an impromptu running race on Radcliffe Quadrangle on move-in day at Harvard University. Rose Lincoln/Harvard Staff Photographer 19Dan Bruder ’12 (from left) and Seth Pearce ’12 do ballet in the Yard on Housing Day, an annual tradition where all the upperclassmen meet in the Yard to wake up the freshmen and tell them which House they will live in the following three years. Rose Lincoln/Harvard Staff Photographer 12George Kenty manages the Eliot House Woodshop, where students come to create anything from doorstops to Adirondack chairs. Stephanie Mitchell/Harvard Staff Photographer 13Baristas Anna Menzel ’15 (from left), Marie-Fatima Hyacinthe ’14, and Nicolas Jofre ’13 serve coffee at the Cabot Cafe in the basement of Cabot House. Rose Lincoln/Harvard Staff Photographer 5Eliot House residents who participate in the Eliot Boat Club, the intramural crew program, arrive at the boat house launch along the Charles River. Members of a women’s team, including Caroline Cox ’14 (from left), Brianne Corcoran, Zuzanna Wojcieszak, and Elizabeth Fryman ’12, board the scull before heading out on the water. Stephanie Mitchell/Harvard Staff Photographer 10Nicole Sliva ’12 (from left), Quincy House Co-Master Deborah Gehrke, and Amy Sun ’12 enjoy “Deb’s Paint Bar” inside the master’s residence in Quincy House. Kris Snibbe/Harvard Staff Photographer 9High Table dinner at Lowell House.Twins Danielle ’14 (left) and Arielle Rabinowitz ’14 perform a piano duet before a black-tie High Table dinner at Lowell House. Jon Chase/Harvard Staff Photographer 8Nicholas Galat ’13 works out in the fitness room inside Quincy House. Kris Snibbe/Harvard Staff Photographer 3Luchen Wang ’14 reads under the imagined shade of a tree that casts its branches along the mural decorating the walls of the Quincy House basement. Kris Snibbe/Harvard Staff Photographer 4Michelle Haan ’12, who lives in Pforzheimer House, enjoys the sun and sounds from her iPod on the Radcliffe Quadrangle. Rose Lincoln/Harvard Staff Photographer 16Quincy House students Catherine Shiels ’13 (bottom, from left), Scott Yim ’13, and Lydia Chung ’14 welcome new House residents during Housing Day inside Annenberg Hall. Kris Snibbe/Harvard Staff Photographer 17Lowell House Masters Dorothy Austin (center) and Diana Eck (right) are joined by Ellie Brinkley ’13 as they display a House flag on Housing Day in Harvard Yard. Jon Chase/Harvard Staff Photographer 15Cabot House students, along with their House Master Rakesh Khurana (wearing scarf), storm the Yard on Housing Day, an annual tradition where all the upperclassmen meet in the Yard to wake up the freshmen and tell them which House they will live in for the next three years. Rose Lincoln/Harvard Staff Photographer 11Caroline Lowe ’12 works in the Quincy House pottery studio. Kris Snibbe/Harvard Staff Photographer 1Through the ornately decorated gate, one catches a glimpse of the Eliot House courtyard. Stephanie Mitchell/Harvard Staff Photographer 14Musician and former Lowell House artist-in-residence Livingston Taylor (right) plants a kiss on the cheek of Maurice Pechet, former researcher and professor at Harvard Medical School. Pechet, who passed away in March 2012 at the age of 95, spent 70 years at Harvard, and mentored generations of students and biochemists. Jon Chase/Harvard Staff Photographer 20Eliot House graduate Oscar Zarate ’12 is congratulated by his family after he receives his degree on Commencement Day. Stephanie Mitchell/Harvard Staff Photographer Silhouetted against the morning sun, a House crew hoists its boat high overhead at dockside, ready for a practice row on the Charles. Inside a master’s residence in Quincy House, amateur artists expand their creative horizons at a “paint bar,” working side-by-side with fellow students, offering encouragement and critique. High in the tower of Lowell House, a small group of yoga devotees stretches skyward in unison as a thin beam of late afternoon sun slices across the room, adding a mystical touch.These are but a few of the images depicting House life at Harvard, a system started by President Lowell in 1929. Whether the activity is throwing pots, or performing an opera, or gathering in a basement café for coffee and spirited conversation, the Houses provide a smaller-scale “home” environment that is intimate and personable. Here in the Houses students are encouraged to pursue new pathways, to stretch themselves in ways both physical and intellectual, and to bond with their Housemates as they develop skills and friendships that complement their academic education.— Jon Chase
Scientists are already working to develop treatments that can be tailored to an individual’s genetics, but what about tailoring treatments based on the genetics of the trillions of microbes that live in a person’s gut?The idea might not be as far-fetched as it sounds, said Peter Turnbaugh, a Bauer Fellow at Harvard’s Faculty of Arts and Sciences (FAS) Center for Systems Biology.In a recent paper in Cell, Turnbaugh and co-authors Corinne Ferrier Maurice and Henry Joseph Haiser, both postdoctoral fellows at the Center for Systems Biology, show that, as drugs are administered, the activity of human gut microbes can change dramatically. Understanding how those changes affect drugs could one day help researchers to design drugs that work more effectively and antibiotics that more specifically target pathogens.“The big question is: To what extent do the benefits and side effects of different types of drugs depend on the microbes in our gut?” Turnbaugh said. “For decades, we have known they can play some role. The microbes inhabiting our gut are able to change the structure of drugs in ways that can contribute to toxicity, or to activate or inactivate compounds. In almost all cases, however, we don’t know the particular microbes that are responsible, the genes they may be using, or the factors that promote or inhibit these activities.”Previously, Maurice and Haiser could examine how the microbes in the gut reacted to various treatments. However, they wanted to know exactly which microbes were there, and whether all were equally active.To get at that question, they turned to a technique borrowed from aquatic microbial ecology.They first marked cells with a series of three stains designed to highlight whether and how severely cells were damaged, and how active the cells were, based on the amount of DNA and RNA they contained. Using a flow cytometer, a device that uses lasers to count and sort cells precisely, they were able to determine how many of each type of cell were present in the samples.“Our initial view suggests that the gut microbiota is quite active relative to other environments, and there’s also a substantial percentage — around 30 percent — of damaged cells,” Turnbaugh said. “We also found that both the active and damaged groups were primarily made up of Firmicutes, one of the two major groups of bacteria in the gut. That suggests that the Firmicutes may be more highly active than other members of our gut microbial community.”Armed with that data, researchers used next-generation sequencing to study how the gene expression of the bacteria changed as six drugs and eight antibiotics were administered.“We know that at least some members of the community are able to change these drugs. Our hope was that finding changes in gene expression would give us a clue as to who is responsible and what genes they might be using,” Turnbaugh said. “We were able to identify a variety of changes in gene expression, many of them consistent with the known biochemical changes to each compound, providing a starting point for more mechanistic studies.”For the various antibiotics they tested, Turnbaugh said, colleagues were surprised to see different responses between individuals and for each individual on different days.“The main goal of antibiotics is to eliminate pathogenic bacteria, but we’re learning that there are many side effects that these drugs have on the microbes that are normally found in the gut, which may have negative consequences,” he said. “There has been a great deal of emphasis on personalized medicine in recent years, and the standard way of thinking about that is understanding the human genome and trying to predict how a given drug will react inside your body. I think this paper emphasizes that it may be equally important to think about how your particular gut microbiota will interact with a given drug.”
Boston will soon have its first new mayor in 20 years. Longtime state legislator Martin J. Walsh defeated City Councilor John R. Connolly in Tuesday’s election, leveraging the support of labor groups and a significant cross-section of residents throughout the city. He will take office in January.Steven Poftak, the executive director of Harvard Kennedy School’s Rappaport Institute for Greater Boston, talks about Walsh’s victory and what this means for the city of Boston.QUESTION: Are you surprised by the results?POFTAK: These results are not surprising. The race was close and competitive throughout. During the last few weeks, it felt like the momentum was moving toward Walsh. His campaign seemed to be controlling the narrative and they seemed to be attracting large numbers of enthusiastic participants to their events. Plus, he had a significant advantage in spending on his behalf, close to $1 million more than Connolly with outside groups included. More critically, spending on behalf of Walsh was more efficient, spread across the weeks in between the preliminary and the final, not concentrated in the final two weeks.On Election Day, the Walsh ground troops were everywhere and it suggested that this was Walsh’s day.QUESTION: What unique qualities will Martin J. Walsh bring to City Hall?POFTAK: Walsh brings a very personal narrative to the office — son of immigrants, working-class roots, cancer survivor, recovered alcoholic, shooting survivor, union leader, state representative, and, now, mayor. Voters clearly connected with that narrative and found Walsh personally appealing.QUESTION: What are the biggest challenges facing the new mayor?POFTAK: Continuing the trajectory of education reform will be an important challenge for the mayor. There are persistent pockets of underperformance in the Boston Public Schools that need to be addressed. In addition, the district is facing a facilities planning problem, with under-capacity in the lower grades and overcapacity in the upper grades, as well as implementing a new school assignment system. Walsh will get to appoint a new superintendent to grapple with all these issues.Another challenge will be to nurture continued economic growth and innovation, while also promoting that growth across the neighborhoods. Walsh ran on a platform of equity, so I would expect to hear a lot about this.Lastly, Walsh’s policy proposals have a lot of detail and new programs but every mayor grapples with limited revenues, with little statutory power to change that. He will be challenged to find a balance between fiscal stability and developing new programs.QUESTION: How will Walsh govern?POFTAK: Walsh’s public-sector experience has been in the legislative branch, so it will be interesting to see how that transfers over to an executive position. One of his most striking traits is his ability to build bonds across different interest groups, particularly for a white, Irish guy from a historically conservative section of Dorchester. A key to Walsh’s victory was a string of key endorsements from other preliminary election candidates that gave him great credibility across many neighborhoods that were not his original constituency.Walsh also faces the challenge of taking over for a long-serving mayor who has been in charge while the vast majority of city workers were hired. It remains to be seen how aggressive Walsh will be in replacing appointees with his own people.QUESTION: How will Walsh differentiate himself from Mayor [Thomas M.] Menino?POFTAK: Many of Walsh’s major endorsers appear poised to take positions in the new administration where they would be high-profile public figures. This would contrast with the more centralized style of the current mayor.However, I think Walsh will continue to take an active, neighborhood/constituent service-focused mayoralty that has been a signature of Menino. This election did not represent a repudiation of any ideology, but rather a transition in leadership, so I would not expect Walsh to dramatically differentiate himself.