‘Body of Work’

first_imgThrough her art and articulate explanations of her own struggle with an eating disorder, artist Judith Shaw explained the internal experience of victims of anorexia. “My work takes a mental illness,” she said, “and turns it into something concrete. An eating disorder has little to do with what you eat or how much you weigh. It speaks to feeling not good enough and to self-hatred. For most people, it’s an internal thing.”Members of the Harvard community gathered at the Student Organization Center at Hilles (SOCH) on March 1 to view pieces by Shaw and student artists that focus on themes of self-perception and bodies. During the opening reception of “Body of Work,” Shaw spoke with visitors and gave a talk on her work.“The essence of an eating disorder is more complex. For me, it was a belief that I was unacceptable. Restriction and self-denial were second nature,” said visiting artist Judith Shaw.Kristen Cronon ’12, the student curator at SOCH, said the collaboration with Shaw coincided with an existing initiative to create a student exhibit about bodies with the Harvard peer-counseling group Eating Concerns Hotline and Outreach (ECHO), which exhibit curator Zuri Sullivan co-coordinates.“Many attribute today’s obsession with thinness to the media and cultural toxicity,” Shaw noted in text provided with her work, “Battle of the Brush.” “The essence of an eating disorder is more complex. For me, it was a belief that I was unacceptable. Restriction and self-denial were second nature. To exercise restraint was empowering. It was easier to get my head around doing without, even if I felt desperately deprived and wanting.”Through “Battle of the Brush,” Shaw explores the motives of anorexia and her feeling that most victims of eating disorders fight their own insecurities and fears — not messages in the media. Her insights on the subject accompany found objects that she has transformed into artwork depicting her experience of living with and recovering from anorexia. Shaw hopes her art will inform not only the general public but also health professionals on the experience of having an eating disorder.Shaw transforms found objects into artwork depicting her experience of living with and recovering from anorexia.Years ago, at an exhibition in St. Louis, a viewer suggested Shaw bring her work to medical students. Shaw found the students were desperate for information on eating disorders. “It’s not something you can learn about from a textbook,” she said, “and people who have disorders don’t talk about them.”Her own experience showed Shaw why teaching physicians to recognize anorexia was important. While most people are diagnosed with eating disorders in adolescence or their early 20s, Shaw’s feelings of worthlessness and insecurity began to manifest themselves physically after she left her job at a New York public relations firm to be a stay-at-home mother to her two sons. For 15 years, she exercised to exhaustion and developed strict eating habits such as eating only “safe” foods. Her doctors joined her friends and family in praising her for her commitment to fitness. Shaw explains, “People thought it was cool that I was getting thinner, smaller. I thrived on the attention.” A doctor once told her that she looked like she needed to “eat a cheeseburger,” but most attributed her symptoms to aging and failed to recognize her disorder.While Shaw’s work provides a narrower insight into eating disorders, the student works in the exhibition focus more broadly on the body. Submissions ranged from photographs of men wrestling to a pencil drawing of a skeleton that was part machine to a self-portrait of one student’s lips.Submissions ranged from photographs to a self-portrait of one student’s lips (as seen in this detail).Following the reception, Shaw and student artist Sara Lytle ’13 spoke about their experiences with eating disorders and how art aided their recovery process. “Photography is a way of being totally connected with the world, totally aware, totally present, and separated by only a lens,” said Lytle.The exhibit, which is co-sponsored by Eating Concerns Hotline and Outreach, the Office of Sexual Assault Prevention and Response, the Peer Contraceptive Councilors, and Sexual Health Education and Advocacy Throughout Harvard College, is open to Harvard ID holders through March 10. SOCH is located at 59 Shepard St., Cambridge. The general public is welcome to arrange a visit to the exhibit by contacting Cronon at kcronon@fas.harvard.edu.last_img read more

The ‘last Renaissance man’

first_imgPlacing Thomas Jefferson in the intellectual life of his times may best be understood by quoting the third U.S. president himself on the character of the first, George Washington, according to an American historian:“His mind was great and powerful, without being of the very first order; his penetration strong, though not so acute as that of a Newton, Bacon, or Locke; and as far as he saw, no judgment was ever sounder.”“Thomas Jefferson has been called the last Renaissance man,” said Wilson J. Moses, the Ferree Professor of American History at Pennsylvania State University, as he kicked off “Mammoths, Meteors, and Mulattoes.” The Wednesday lecture was the second of three on “Thomas Jefferson and the Notion of Liberty,” part of the Nathan I. Huggins series sponsored by the W.E.B. Du Bois Institute for African and African American Research.“It’s been said Jefferson was the last man to engage with success all the knowledge of his time,” as a statesman and student of letters, language, architecture, religion, philosophy, mathematics, astronomy, and natural sciences, Moses said.He was also “certainly a character of flexible values, like Niccolò Machiavelli,” and has been unavoidably and problematically tied to racism. The man who wrote that “all men are created equal” owned hundreds of black men throughout his lifetime and compared them to orangutans in his only published book. But Jefferson also suggested that “there is a moral instinct and the black people are not lacking in this,” Moses said, and knew from Volney’s “Ruins of Empires” about the “race of men now rejected from society for their sable skin and frizzled hair [who] founded on the study of the Laws of nature, those civil and religious systems which still govern the universe.”A detailed record-keeper, Jefferson left notes of what he saw, read, and heard, though his papers offer little critical analysis — even of his political contemporaries, on whose ideas his commentary “was scanty and often superficial,” Wilson said. His reading tastes reflected a solid grounding in the classics. He enjoyed music, and would have known that “The Marriage of Figaro” was based on a play that dealt with institutionalized rape and that the text of “Don Giovanni” addressed the kind of sexual exploitation and class conflict familiar to him in Virginia.Jefferson’s mind was “brilliant and inquisitive” but lacked the military and financial acumen that contributed to Washington’s success, the practical knowledge of Frederick the Great, or the scientific expertise of Benjamin Franklin. Jefferson “is rightly praised for having overcome the isolation and provincialism of his early life,” Moses said. He was placed in a Latin school at the age of 9, and later developed close relationships with supportive professors. At 17 he met Patrick Henry, a rapid intellect accepted to the Virginia bar after only six weeks of study, and was both entranced and appalled by the older man.“I suspect Jefferson was always somewhat jealous of Patrick Henry,” Moses said. Henry’s brief, best-known phrases — “If this be treason, make the most of it” and “Give me liberty or give me death” — may have contributed as greatly to the philosophy of the American Revolution as Jefferson’s more thoughtful words.And although Jefferson became “the symbol for all ages as the author of the Declaration of Independence, regardless of how despotically he exercised his powers as the master in Virginia,” his contribution to the work may have lain more heavily in drafting than in theory.Moses said Jefferson’s only book, “Notes on the State of Virginia,” still commands respect, “although it reveals patterns of thinking more traditional than revolutionary,” like discomfort with the idea that species such as the North American mammoth could become extinct or that meteors could fall from the sky. Such questions, Moses said, did not conform to the Newtonian idea of an orderly universe.The Newtonians were also troubled by the relationship of nature to God. Moses said Jefferson rejected portions of the New Testament that were inconsistent with his own theories, but nonetheless believed in the deity and thought that only “a revolution of the wheel of fortune” had given white men control over Africans.“Indeed I tremble for my country when I reflect that God is just; that his justice cannot sleep forever,” Jefferson wrote.“Thomas Jefferson and the Notion of Liberty” concludes today with “Private Vice and Public Virtue” at 4 p.m. in the Thompson Room of the Barker Center, 12 Quincy St., Cambridge.last_img read more

Organs-on-chips evaluate therapies for lethal radiation exposure

first_imgA team at the Wyss Institute for Biologically Inspired Engineering at Harvard University has received a $5.6 million grant from the United States Food and Drug Administration (FDA) to use its organs-on-chips technology to test human physiological responses to radiation and evaluate drugs designed to counter those effects. The effort will also be supported by a team in the vascular biology program at Children’s Hospital Boston.The multiyear project will investigate whether organs-on-chips — tiny, microfluidic devices that are lined by living human cells and mimic complex organ physiology — can be used instead of animals to evaluate the efficacy and safety of medical treatments for radiation sickness, or acute radiation syndrome (ARS). Animal models often fail to accurately predict human responses, and human subjects cannot be tested with exposure to lethal radiation.ARS occurs when the body receives a high dose of radiation, usually over a short period of time. Symptoms range from loss of appetite, fatigue, fever, nausea, vomiting, and diarrhea to seizures, coma, and death. The project is part of the FDA’s Medical Countermeasures Initiative (MCMi), which it launched in 2010.“One of the fundamental goals of the MCMi is to ensure that we are prepared to respond effectively to acts of terrorism that may involve radiological or nuclear attacks, and to incidents such as the Fukushima nuclear disaster in Japan in 2011,” said Luciana Borio, head of the FDA program. “We have a lot to learn about the human physiological response to radiation, and are excited to explore the potential of the Wyss Institute’s novel human organs-on-chips in filling that knowledge gap in a safe and cost-effective way.”,Combining microfabrication techniques with modern tissue engineering, lung-on-a-chip offers a new in vitro approach to drug screening by mimicking the complicated mechanical and biochemical behaviors of a human lung. This extended version of the video includes Wyss Institute findings when its researchers mimicked pulmonary edema-on-the-chip.[/gz_video]Earlier this year the institute’s lung-on-a-chip received the 3Rs prize from the U.K.’s National Centre for the Replacement, Refinement, and Reduction of Animals in Research (NC3Rs). The award followed a landmark publication in Science Translational Medicine demonstrating the team’s success using the lung on a chip to model human pulmonary edema (commonly known as fluid on the lungs) and to test potential new drug therapies under development.“We currently have over 10 different organs-on-chips in development, and are excited to work with the FDA to explore a new way to rapidly identify radiation countermeasures without having to rely on animal studies,” said Wyss Institute Founding Director Donald Ingber, who leads the organs-on-chips effort at the institute.The FDA-funded project will study three organs on chips. The three devices mimic the structure and physiology of human bone marrow, gut, and lung. These organ systems are the most susceptible to the toxic effects of radiation in humans, because of exposure to airborne particulates in the case of the lung, and extremely high cell turnover rates in the cases of the gut and bone marrow.“Our organs on chips enable us to investigate how specific human cell types and organ systems respond to radiation — something very difficult or impossible to mimic in animal studies,” said Wyss senior staff scientist Anthony Bahinski, who is helping lead the project. The effects of radiation and organ-level responses to potential radiation therapies can be observed in real time; the microdevices, about the size of a memory stick, are made of a clear, flexible polymer and can be attached to sophisticated imaging equipment.The lung-on-a-chip re-creates the way the human lung physically expands and retracts when breathing, and the gut on a chip mimics the peristaltic motions of the gut. This ability to replicate the physical microenvironment of living organs enables the organs on chips to recapitulate functions with a fidelity not possible in conventional culture systems, and it represents a key advantage of these novel bioinspired microtechnologies.The bone marrow chip employs a unique approach to organ-chip design in which the team uses tissue engineering to form a whole bone with an intact marrow in vivo — and then surgically removes it and places it under microfluidic conditions in the laboratory. From there it can undergo testing in response to radiation and radiation therapies.“We should have a much better understanding of how our bones, intestines, and lungs respond physiologically to radiation and radiation therapies at the conclusion of this project,” Bahinski said.In addition to the FDA, the Wyss Institute acknowledges support that led to the development of the organs-on-chips technology from the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency and the National Institutes of Health.last_img read more

Gaining traction

first_imgIt’s a tumultuous, exciting time in the field of education, an era when traditional notions about effective teaching and learning practices are undergoing massive shifts, in large part because of rapid-fire advances in science and technology. Stepping into this maelstrom a year ago as new dean of the Harvard Graduate School of Education (HGSE) was James Ryan, a soft-spoken, steady administrator and teacher. A leading national authority on education law and policy, Ryan came to Harvard from the University of Virginia Law School, where he had been a distinguished professor and served as academic associate dean from 2005 to 2009.In announcing Ryan’s appointment, President Drew Faust called him “an outstanding scholar, teacher, and academic leader with a deep passion for improving education and for enhancing the interplay of scholarship, practice, and policy,” while noting that she was “impressed by his seamless integration of the intellectual and the practical, his warm and open personal style, and his evident talent for drawing together people from different backgrounds, disciplines, and points of view.”Ryan’s research focuses on educational opportunity and how law and policy decisions shape schools, administrators, teachers, and students. His 2010 book, “Five Miles Away, A World Apart,” probed many of the defining issues in education — economic inequality, desegregation, school choice, standards, and testing — through the lens of two economically and racially disparate high schools in the Richmond, Va., area.In a wide-ranging interview, Ryan reflected on his first year as dean, his priorities for the new academic year, and how HGSE will navigate the rapid changes happening in education.GAZETTE: How has life changed for you and your family since coming to Harvard?RYAN: It was a big change, as you might imagine. We had been in Charlottesville for 15 years, and we have four school-age kids, now 17, 15, 13, and 8. Everything was new — new school, new house, new job for me, new job for my wife, Katie — and it was a pretty difficult transition at times, to be honest. The first six months were fairly rocky. In addition to all these changes, we had this odd series of calamities occur just completely coincidentally: a tree branch fell on our car, one of our dogs ran away, another dog needed an operation, our son broke his wrist, our daughter was bit by a dog and needed stitches, and my father-in-law needed his hip replaced. It was a fairly tumultuous first six months [laughs], but everyone has settled in and I think to a person is quite happy that we’re here.GAZETTE: Culturally, I would imagine there were some adjustments?RYAN: Katie grew up outside of Boston, so this has always been home to her, and I grew up outside of New York City. We have been coming up to Essex, Mass., for the last 11 summers, in part to be closer to Katie’s parents, who live in Hamilton. So we’re both familiar with the area, and our kids were also familiar with it. So it wasn’t as much of a culture shock as it would have been if we had moved to someplace where we’d never spent any time. Still, leaving our friends in Charlottesville was difficult for both our kids and us.GAZETTE: What were some of your worries or expectations about living here?RYAN: I was mostly worried about our kids’ transition into school and their leaving one set of friends and making a new set of friends. The social part of the transition went much better than I expected and was fairly seamless. They all play sports, which is a very easy way to get to know a group of kids pretty quickly. The academic part of it was trickier, in part for our oldest because a number of courses are sequential — language courses and math in particular — and where they finished in Charlottesville and where they were expected to be here was different, there was a gap for some of them, and that proved a little challenging.GAZETTE: Have you had much chance to explore Boston/Cambridge and New England yet?RYAN: Yes, a fair bit. We moved to Lincoln because it reminded us of Charlottesville, and some of our favorite places are right in Lincoln, including the deCordova [Sculpture Park and Museum] and Drumlin Farm. In the city, we’ve spent time at the Aquarium, which I really like, the Swan Boats, which I still adore, and Fenway [Park], which I love even though I’m a Yankees fan. Katie and I are also runners and huge fans of the Boston Marathon, and this was our fourth year in a row running it.GAZETTE: How was that experience in the aftermath of the Marathon bombing?RYAN: It was really a magical experience. It was obviously emotional given what had happened the year before. The crowds are always incredible at the Marathon, but even more so this year. There were so many more people watching, and everyone was enthusiastic. It was especially nice for me to see some of my colleagues and students on the course. It was one of those instances where I felt like, “OK, this is home.”GAZETTE: What has surprised you so far about the job?RYAN: I would say three things have surprised me. One is how many people were eager to help me as I started the job and as I continued on during my first year, from people in this office all the way up through and including Drew Faust. The outpouring of support was not something that I expected, and I’m immensely grateful for it. I work with an incredible team in my office. My faculty colleagues and the staff throughout the School are phenomenal. And it was obvious that they all were interested in helping me make the transition. That was also true of my fellow deans throughout the University, who were an incredibly welcoming group and filled with great advice. And both [Provost] Alan [Garber] and Drew have been enormously helpful. But in addition to that, a whole series of alums and friends of the School made it clear that they were invested in my success, and that was a really pleasant surprise.The second is how quickly I felt at home here. I think it’s in part because of the offers of help, but in part it’s because this is just a genuinely warm and welcoming community that cares deeply about education. I’ve been interested in education for so long and have cared about it for so long, to be in a place where everyone else is as interested and passionate about it as I am made it seem like the right place to be quite early on.Third, I’ve been surprised by how many meetings I have to attend [laughs].GAZETTE: Even though you’ve been in education for a long time?RYAN: [Laughs] I have been in education a long time, but the difference between the number of meetings a faculty member needs to attend and the number of meetings a dean needs to attend is quite significant.GAZETTE: Let’s talk about some of your highlights during this first year.RYAN: The student orientation at the very beginning of the year and graduation at the end of the year were two highlights. At the orientation, the dean gives a welcoming address. It was my first major public address and the moment where I realized that this was really happening and I was really the dean. Just the view from the podium looking out into the crowd of the 600-plus students brought home how significant this job really is, how I really did have a responsibility for a large number of people, and that they were counting on me to do the best job possible.Fast-forward to graduation. It was a remarkable occasion, full of pageantry, which brought home the magic of the University. To see everyone collected onstage and everyone out in the audience, the students and their incredibly happy families. I was as nervous there as I was at the orientation, even though I only had to say three lines. But it was still a nice moment to pause and reflect on the first year.In between, I would say one highlight was learning from students, faculty, and alums just how deeply they care about this place and how much it’s meant to them over the years. This is a place that inspires a great deal of loyalty. It was great to learn that about this community.GAZETTE: There are a lot of changes happening in the field of education right now. What makes this such a critical time, and where is HGSE in all of this?RYAN: One of the reasons it’s such a critical time is that we’re witnessing this amazing intersection of need and opportunity. There is a widespread recognition that education in this country needs to improve, and recognition that education across the globe needs to improve, in addition to increasing access. At the same time, there are opportunities for improvement that haven’t existed before, which makes it an exciting moment. Advances in neuroscience are shedding light on how the brain develops and functions, which in turn sheds light on the best way to teach students across a range of capacities and abilities. Advances in learning technologies offer the opportunity to individualize education and increase access to high-quality education across the globe. The very fact that there’s such widespread recognition of the need to improve education — and interest in doing so — itself creates opportunity to address longstanding problems.We’re trying to have the biggest impact possible through our teaching and research. Through teaching, we’re preparing students to be leaders in the field, because leaders will be able to affect and influence a large number of individuals. With respect to research, our faculty is interested in identifying ideas, policies, and programs that work. There is still a big need for better and more reliable research on what works in education.GAZETTE: What are some of your top priorities for the upcoming academic year?RYAN: I have five priorities for this year. The first is faculty hiring; the second is the public launch of our capital campaign; the third is solidifying our presence online and devising a strategic plan going forward for what we will do online; the fourth is furthering some initiatives started this year, [such as] creating a Harvard teacher fellows program that will enable undergraduates to get into teaching through the Ed School, and Usable Knowledge, [a] project devoted to disseminating the research that’s conducted here to those working in the field; the fifth is to continue to enhance the intellectual life and community on campus.In faculty hiring, we have a number of searches planned for the year. We are at a key moment in the history of the School. A lot of our senior faculty have retired recently, and others are planning to retire in the next five to 10 years. This means we’re at a point of generational change among the senior faculty, which is a poignant moment because our senior faculty are a phenomenal group. It’s a huge loss to see them go, but it’s also a remarkable opportunity to shape the future of the School. The heart of any school is its faculty, and so my very top priority is to make sure that we attract the very best faculty in the world to this School, and that once we attract them, we retain them.GAZETTE: What have you learned from faculty and students about what their needs are and how they’d like to see the School evolve?RYAN: I think faculty are interested in their work having an impact and interested in receiving the help and guidance necessary to make that happen. Research takes a good deal of time and a great deal of effort, and you hope that if you have produced a good idea or a paper that provides a reliable evaluation of an existing program that the news will get out. But often it doesn’t. And faculty don’t really have the time to spend making sure their research is disseminated. It seems to me one thing that we can do as a school institutionally is make that effort — in partnership with faculty — in order to ensure that their work is disseminated as widely as possible.For students, I’ve heard a few recurring messages. One is that they would like more opportunities to focus on and prepare for working in diverse contexts. For students going to work in urban school systems or suburban school systems, they would like more opportunity to talk about how to work and thrive in a diverse setting and more opportunities to have sometimes-difficult conversations about race and gender and sexual orientation. We’re going to have a common theme this year focused on the issue of diversity, and we’re calling it “Fulfilling the Promise of Diversity.” There will be a series of book talks, workshops, lectures, and the like, all revolving around this issue, which I think will enhance the sense of intellectual community. From doctoral students, there’s a need for more funding to support research, and from both doctoral and master’s students, there’s a desire to have more opportunities within courses to dive deeper into topics.GAZETTE: Your campaign launches this month. What are some of the financial challenges the school now faces?RYAN: Two of the biggest challenges are financial aid for students and funding for research. I would like to increase the financial aid available for master’s students because I think many of them are graduating with too much debt. It’s imperative that we continue to provide generous funding for our doctoral students. Our goal should be to attract the most talented students that we possibly can and make cost not a factor in their decision about whether to attend. I don’t know if we’re quite there yet. Federal funding for research has generally declined, and that doesn’t seem like it’s going to change anytime soon, which means we also need to be looking at alternative sources for funding research.GAZETTE: Education sometimes gets criticized for being a series of reform initiatives that don’t deliver on their promises. Is that a fair knock, and if so, what’s the cause of the ineffectiveness?RYAN: I think that education itself as a field, as opposed to education reform in particular, has suffered from what you might call faddishness for a long time. There’s a great deal of churning from one policy or practice to another. I think that is often driven by the impatience on the part of policymakers. A new policy or practice will be developed, touted as the Next Best Thing, and lo and behold two years later, when it hasn’t produced a miracle, it’s dropped and something else is tried. I think that breeds a good deal of cynicism and suspicion among principals and teachers. If you look at systems that have been successful — Massachusetts is a good example — what you’ll find generally is consistency in the leadership.In some respects, success entails picking a program or policy that is sound to begin with, one that is based on research, implementing it faithfully, and then sticking with it even when you hit some bumps — even if the gains don’t come as quickly or as dramatically as you’d hoped. One of the key factors is consistency in leadership, which is crucial to success. Unfortunately, in a lot of urban school systems, you see exactly the opposite. The typical tenure of an urban superintendent is roughly three years.GAZETTE: Isn’t the problem driven in part by political pressures to have instant results?RYAN: Exactly. The relevant time frame for someone who’s in political office is pretty short, and often too short to see whether reforms will actually work. So you’re exactly right: There’s this immediate pressure to prove that a reform has had a dramatic impact in a very short period of time and anything that falls short of that — which most reforms will because it takes a little while for the reform itself to take — are often just tossed aside, even though, if given more time, they could very well have worked.GAZETTE: In the past, the School has had a reputation for being somewhat less rigorous than other [Harvard] Schools. What do you say to that criticism?RYAN: I know that ed schools generally are often considered not as rigorous as other schools, and I think that there’s some truth to that, depending on the school. But it’s also just a function of the fact that the education profession is, unjustifiably, not as respected as other professions. The only thing to do in response is to provide the very best education program you can, and that will be proof itself. Opening up Ed School classes to the wider Harvard community is also a great way to correct that perception to the extent it still exists. Kay Merseth teaches a general education course that’s open to Harvard undergraduates, and it is both one of the most popular courses and one of the most highly rated. Our quantitative-methods classes draw graduate students, not only from across the University but also from MIT, who come here to learn how to do quantitative research.GAZETTE: What skills and knowledge should graduates leave here with?RYAN: That’s a great question and one that I’ve talked with faculty a lot about over the last year. At the moment, we don’t have a single set of courses that everyone needs to take, and that’s in part because the master’s program is just one year. Students come to the School with a great deal of experience, wanting to do a number of different things. The belief has been that students should be prepared for the role they want to play and that will require particularized knowledge.I recognize that, but there is a part of me that thinks we should nonetheless identify a basic body of knowledge that we would expect everyone to know when they graduate. That would include things like a basic knowledge of human development; of how students learn; of schools as organizations, including knowing about school governance and finance; and how to be, at the very least, sophisticated consumers of research, so understanding some basics about research methods. This doesn’t necessarily translate into a set of required courses, but it’s at least a start in thinking about it. I also think that there are some common skills we should expect, including the ability to use evidence to make decisions, which again means the ability to consume education research. But beyond some core skills and knowledge, I do think students need the opportunity to prepare specifically for the roles they hope to pursue when they graduate.This interview has been edited for clarity and length.last_img read more

The era of climate responsibility

first_imgWith climate change a settled a fact among the great majority of scientists, people are entering an era of “climate responsibility,” during which the actions they take — or fail to take — will lead to a dramatically different world for future generations, a leading climate expert said Tuesday.Chris Field ’75, co-chair of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change’s Working Group II and founding director of the Carnegie Institution for Science’s Department of Global Ecology, said the coming decades will provide an opportunity to curb emissions drastically and to begin efforts to counter risks from changes already “baked into the system” by past emissions.“We can think of the next few decades as an era of climate responsibility,” Field said. “During this period, the actual evolution of temperature is very different between a world of continued high emissions and a world of ambitious mitigation.”“We can think of the next few decades as an era of climate responsibility,” said Chris Field. Kris Snibbe/Harvard Staff PhotographerOver the past century, Field said, the globe has warmed about 1 degree Celsius, and even the most optimistic emissions scenarios have it warming by that much again by 2100.That means a wide array of effects are already unavoidable, he said, ranging from more-extreme weather events, to longer and more severe heat waves and droughts, to shifting environments for many plant and animal species, to strain on the global food supply, to disappearing global ice, rising seas, vulnerability to insect-borne disease, and more.Keeping climate change to that level, however, will require dramatic changes to global carbon emissions. From 1970 to 2000 these rose at about 1.3 percent annually, but from 2000 to 2010 they rose 2.2 percent a year, meaning that carbon emissions are increasing, not decreasing.If those increases are not curbed, Field said, the globe could warm as much as 5 degrees Celsius by 2100, with effects that will be much greater and more difficult to counter.“The risk of future impact goes up dramatically as the amount of climate change goes up, with increasing risk of impacts that are severe, pervasive, and irreversible,” he said.Field, who also serves on Harvard’s Board of Overseers, was the opening speaker Tuesday at the Geological Lecture Hall for the two-day, 10th annual Plant Biology Symposium. The gathering was cosponsored by the Plant Biology Initiative at Harvard University and by the Harvard University Center for the Environment. Field was introduced by Andrew Richardson, associate professor of organismic and evolutionary biology.Though much work remains to be done, Field said there are hopeful signs that needed shifts are occurring. He cited as examples the recent announcement by California Gov. Jerry Brown that the state would further tighten greenhouse-gas emissions standards and the U.S.-China agreement last November on curbing carbon emissions.The changes may not be good news for the fossil fuel industry, Field said, but could mean economic opportunities for many other sectors. Billions of dollars will have to be spent to renew aging infrastructure across the globe in the coming decades, and with the renewal will come opportunities to incorporate sustainable innovations in design. In addition, he said, there are already signs that governments and their people are taking existing threats seriously and making early steps to mitigate effects and adapt.In the Netherlands, he said, new flood control infrastructure is an example of a top-down governmental approach against rising seas. Meanwhile, on the island of Tuvalu in the South Pacific, communities are seeking to buffer the impact of rising seas and storms by planting mangrove forests.These efforts “are unique in that they’re specifically deployed to provide protection from a changing climate, and they’re intended not as final solutions but as initial efforts to provide … learning experiences to build on moving forward,” Field said. “They all represent baby steps from which we can learn.”The extent of the mitigation and adaptation efforts undertaken, he said, will depend in part on the risks from climate-driven events and the degree to which people, businesses, and governments determine their risk tolerance based on their vulnerability to impact, its potential for damage, and its likelihood.Asked whether he had any advice for today’s college students, Field said the challenges are many and he can’t imagine a field where the efforts of talented individuals won’t be needed.“What I hope is one of you guys are going to be the CEO of ExxonMobil, and that’s what’s really going to make the difference, or … governor of Massachusetts, or president,” Field said. “I actually can’t think of any future endeavors that are not involved with climate … The opportunities for contributing solutions to the climate problem are everywhere.”last_img read more

Professor’s book selected for Canto Classics series

first_imgDuring the turmoil in Uganda after the fall of repressive leader Idi Amin Dada, political scientist Robert Bates was in the field. At the time, he was widely known for his astute public policy analysis of agricultural decline in Africa. His war-zone experience led to the great concern of the latter part of his career — the study of political violence.Now one of his books on the subject, “When Things Fell Apart: State Failure in Late-Century Africa” (2008), is being published by the Cambridge University Press. It was selected for the Canto Classics series, which features the most influential titles over the past half-century. With the inclusion, Bates joins intellects such as literary critic C.S. Lewis, Austrian physicist Erwin Schrödinger, British anthropologist Jack Goody, and Harvard University colleague Theda Skocpol, the Victor S. Thomas Professor of Government and Sociology and a faculty associate at the Weatherhead Center for International Affairs.A deep commitment to fieldwork has been paramount for Bates, the Eaton Professor of the Science of Government and professor of African and African American Studies at Harvard and a faculty associate at the Weatherhead Center for International Affairs. On his office door he has a picture of himself in long white beard and Panama hat, looking, as he does, like a restless scholar ready to set out on expedition.Since arriving at Harvard in 1993, Bates has conducted fieldwork in Brazil, Tanzania, Rwanda, Kenya, and Ghana. His scholarship has been steadily funded by the Weatherhead Center, the largest international social science research center within the Faculty of Arts and Sciences. His awards have included a Weatherhead Initiative grant of a half-million dollars for interdisciplinary work on Africa.“You can’t just apply some theory that everybody is talking about in Cambridge or London or Paris. You’ve got to get there and walk the ground and look,” Bates said. “Research support from the Weatherhead Center started, I’d say, as soon as my toe hit Cambridge soil. And it has been absolutely pivotal.”Bates was born in Brooklyn and raised in a family committed to Civil Rights and racial integration. As a high school student at the Pomfret School, he traveled to Africa for the first time. Many years later, in an essay for The Annual Review of Political Science, Bates remembered: “I came back from the trip knowing that I had connected with something that had changed me. When I left Pomfret, I knew what I wanted to do with my life: to think hard, to work in Africa, to focus on politics.”After attending Haverford College, Bates did his graduate work at MIT in behavioral approaches to the study of politics, which emphasized habits that are inculcated in people, such as traditions. When his early field research led him to reject that thinking, he grew interested in economic reasoning and models. Fortunately, his first faculty position at the California Institute of Technology drew him into an atmosphere in which colleagues were looking at the intersection between neoclassical economics and politics.His books, including “When Things Fell Apart,” have modeled his belief that, “It is crucial to have a dialogue between the nature of the problems we study and how we characterize them on the one hand, and what we see and touch on the other.”In this book, Bates locates the origins of insurrection in the actions of the government. Too many scholars and policymakers mistakenly focus on rebel insurgencies without paying better attention to the behavior of those whom they seek to drive from power, according to Bates.In Africa, he wrote, the reasons for political violence included a widespread fiscal crisis, the authoritarian nature of its states, and their rulers’ penchant for preying on the public. He said of the rulers, “By rendering their people victims, they provoked insurgencies.”Focusing on the sub-Saharan region of Africa, Bates developed data on roughly 40 countries. He combined systematic inferential work with qualitative insights. He studied many of the countries in depth — some down to the village level. “You have to go there and lift up the hood and see what’s going on to generate the numbers. That’s the only way as far as I’m concerned,” Bates said.He employs game theory, an approach for which he is known: “So what you want to do is look at the behavior that you’re witnessing in the field and figure out the logic behind it,” he said. “When you return from the field, you write the game down as you understand it and see if your theory is right. In equilibrium, do people behave the way you think you observe them behaving? If so, you may have the right game. If not, you throw that understanding away and try again.”Today Bates would like to see more of his colleagues approach contemporary political violence with a greater emphasis on the factors that lead states to breakdown. “Everybody in the academic world is looking at these insurgent groups — ISIS or al-Qaida and other groups — as if they were spontaneously assembling themselves. But they were the product of failing states. It was the way Syria was run or the way Iraq was run that made it rational for people to pick up guns and protect themselves and their families and their businesses,” he said.“When I look at what my colleagues are doing, they’re still studying these groups sui generis — as in, you know, let’s get inside them and see how they work. I hope somebody will do that but I also think if you want to understand where they are coming from, you have to step back in time and look at what drove people to that,” he said.last_img read more

How Zika infects the growing brain

first_img Related “We knew that organoids are great models for microcephaly and other conditions that show up very early in development and have a very pronounced effect,” said Kaykas. “For the first few months, the organoids do a really good job in recapitulating normal brain development.”Historically, human NPCs have been difficult to study in the lab because it was impossible to obtain samples without damaging brain tissue. With the advancements in induced pluripotent stem cell (iPS cell) technology, a cell reprogramming process that allows researchers to coax any cell back into a stem cell-like state, researchers can now generate these previously inaccessible human tissues in a petri dish.The team was able to produce human iPS cells and then, using gene-editing technology, modify the cells to knock out AXL expression, said Michael Wells, a Harvard postdoctoral researcher and co-first author. The scientists pushed the iPS cells to become NPCs, building the 2-D and 3-D models that were infected with Zika.The Harvard/NIBR collaborators started working with the virus in mid-April. The unusual speed of the research reflects the urgency of the challenge, as the Zika virus has spread to more than 70 countries and territories.“At the genesis of the project, my wife was pregnant,” Eggan remarked. “One can’t read the newspapers without being concerned.”The collaboration grew out of interactions at the Broad Institute of MIT and Harvard’s Stanley Center for Psychiatric Research, where Eggan directs the stem cell program. His lab already had developed cell culture systems for studying NPCs in motor neuron and psychiatric diseases. The team at Novartis had created brain organoids for research on tuberous sclerosis complex and other genetic neural disorders.“Zika seemed to be a big issue where we could have an impact, and we all shared that interest,” Eggan said. “It’s been great to have this public-private collaboration.”The researchers are studying other receptor proteins that may be open to Zika infection, in hopes that their basic research eventually will aid the quest to develop vaccines or other drugs that defend against the virus.This research was funded by the Stanley Center for Psychiatric Research and the Harvard Stem Cell Institute. Paper disc can quickly detect Zika virus in the field Around the world, hundreds of women infected with the Zika virus have given birth to children suffering from microcephaly or other brain defects, as the virus attacks key cells responsible for generating neurons and building the brain as the embryo develops. Studies have suggested that Zika enters these cells, called neural progenitor cells (NPCs), by grabbing onto a specific protein called AXL on the cell surface. Now, scientists at the Harvard Stem Cell Institute (HSCI) and Novartis have shown that this is not the only route of infection.The scientists demonstrated that Zika infected NPCs even when the cells did not produce the AXL surface receptor protein that is widely thought to be the main vehicle of entry for the virus.“Our finding really recalibrates this field of research because it tells us we still have to go and find out how Zika is getting into these cells,” said Kevin Eggan, principal faculty member at HSCI, professor of stem cell and regenerative biology at Harvard University and co-corresponding author on a research paper in the journal Cell Stem Cell.“It’s very important for the research community to learn that targeting the AXL protein alone will not defend against Zika,” said Ajamete Kaykas, co-corresponding author and a senior investigator in neuroscience at the Novartis Institutes for BioMedical Research (NIBR).Previous studies have shown that blocking expression of the AXL receptor protein defends against the virus in a number of human cell types. Given that the protein is highly expressed on the surface of NPCs, many labs have been working on the hypothesis that AXL is the entry point for Zika in the developing brain.“We were thinking that the knocked-out NPCs devoid of AXL wouldn’t get infected,” said Max Salick, a NIBR postdoctoral researcher and co-first author on the paper. “But we saw these cells getting infected just as much as normal cells.”Working in a facility dedicated to infectious disease research, the scientists exposed two-dimensional cell cultures of AXL-knockout human NPCs to the Zika virus. They followed up by exposing 3-D mini-brain “organoids” containing such NPCs to the virus. In both cases, cells clearly displayed Zika infection. This finding was supported by an earlier study that knocked out AXL in the brains of mice. Inexpensive method could slow spread of outbreak, future pandemic diseases last_img read more

Harvard Extension Student Assn. receives Coop Grants for Public Service Award

first_imgThe Coop Community and University Relations Committee recently named Harvard Extension Student Association (HESA) one of its 2017-2018 Coop Grants for Public Service Award recipients. Alexis Williams, HESA Director of Finance, states, “the Coop’s continued support reinforces the educational value of Harvard Extension School (HES), and the contributions of its students to the local Cambridge community and the international community through numerous academic and volunteer engagements.”HESA Director of Finance adds, “Harvard Extension Student Association (HESA) sponsored events, and activities accentuate Extension School student’s academic repertoire through exposure to industry leaders, networking and career opportunities, educational seminars, and leadership conferences. Contributing organizations such as the Coop will ensure the viability, and continuous diverse palate of Harvard Extension Student Association (HESA) events, and clubs for Extension School students to partake. Harvard Extension Student Association (HESA) looks forward to the Coop’s continued support and collaboration.”last_img read more

Film shows how doctors can make a difference

first_img ‘Epidemics are optional’ “I couldn’t find a hospital that would tell me what kind of illness I had,” says a former patient in the film “Bending the Arc.” “The only thing they did was prepare my will and my coffin.” A grainy still shows the speaker with pleading eyes and a skeletal frame, then a shot of him being carried on a stretcher into a small clinic in Haiti in the 1980s cuts to the same man today — gray-haired, robust, smiling, and talking about the trio of physicians who saved his life.It is just one of many dramatic stories in “Bending the Arc,” the award-winning 2017 film presented at the inaugural Harvard Business School (HBS) Documentary Night in Klarman Hall on Wednesday, along with a panel discussion featuring Paul Farmer, the Kolokotrones University Professor of Global Health and Social Medicine and head of Harvard Medical School’s Department of Global Health and Social Medicine, and Ophelia Dahl, both co-founders, with physician and anthropologist Jim Yong Kim, of the NGO Partners In Health, which now works in 10 countries around the world to build capacity and strengthen health systems. Because of them, the man says later in the film, “I am alive today.“The mission of Harvard Business School is to educate leaders who make a difference in the world,” said HBS Dean Nitin Nohria. “If you think about Paul Farmer and Ophelia Dahl and what they’ve done with Partners In Health, you could not think of more inspiring examples. We hope that through this film, and events like this, we can inspire another generation of people to think about the most challenging problems in the world and how they might exercise their leadership to make a difference.”David Fialkow, one of the executive producers of “Bending the Arc.” The film has raised more than $20 million for Partners In Health. Photo by Evgenia EliseevaThe event marked a new series conceived to inspire the HBS community through the medium of film. “Film holds an extraordinary ability to develop empathy, of which the world is in deep and desperate need,” said Nohria. “This is an experiment of inspiration, of empathy, of giving people an opportunity to meet and experience leaders who we think truly are examples we can all learn from.”David Fialkow, one of the executive producers of “Bending the Arc” and co-founder of the venture capital firm General Catalyst, introduced the trailer and discussed the innovative distribution method pioneered by his wife and co-producer, Nina Fialkow.“Nina said to me, ‘Anybody can sell a movie to Netflix or another company,’” he recalled. “‘Let’s do something epic. If we self-distribute it, it could be a platform for philanthropic giving, and Partners In Health could benefit.’” The resulting screenings, held in homes and schools, have raised more than $20 million for the organization.Following the trailer, Michelle A. Williams, dean of the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health, introduced the evening’s guest panelists, Farmer and Dahl, and offered context for the 20-minute film clip.“Three young individuals created Partners In Health with the mission of bringing the benefits of modern medical science to those most in need of them, and for that delivery to serve as the antidote to despair,” said Williams. “When others had to be encouraged and implored to care for HIV-AIDS patients, three young individuals, barely completing their training, were running toward helping those in need.”The clip told the moving story of those first several years, beginning with Farmer, about to enter Harvard Medical School, meeting Wellesley College-bound Dahl, daughter of actress Patricia Neal and noted children’s book author Roald Dahl, on a 1983 volunteer trip working with the poor in Haiti. Over the next several years, Farmer, Dahl, and Kim, a classmate of Farmer at Harvard Medical School, traveled to Haiti on weekends and breaks, delivering medicine and eventually establishing a small clinic and a network of community health workers in Cange.The film then follows the team’s move to Peru, where they discovered an outbreak of multiple drug-resistant tuberculosis (MDR-TB) in an overwhelmingly poor population. Organizations such as the World Bank and the World Health Organization argued that poor populations could never adhere to a strict medical protocol, but through persistence, data, and activism, the partners succeeded. The clip ends with a moving shot of Kim witnessing the transformation of another near-death patient into a healthy, resilient man. “The mission of Harvard Business School is to educate leaders who make a difference in the world. If you think about Paul Farmer and Ophelia Dahl and what they’ve done with Partners In Health, you could not think of more inspiring examples.” — Nitin Nohria, HBS dean A faith in global care Following the clip, Farmer, Dahl, Williams, and Nohria had a wide-ranging discussion about the meaning of partnership, the organization’s fight for hope against skepticism, the qualities important to leadership, and the value and limits of data.“It’s difficult,” Farmer said about coping with skepticism in the face of overwhelming data. “It’s uncomfortable.“I’m less afraid of Ebola than I am of arguments,” he added with a laugh.“There is no question that the data we’re amassing today is important,” Dahl said, “but it doesn’t necessarily sway people. We need to emphasize the collection of data and the ability to translate that to narratives that are persuasive.”Responding to a query from Nohria, Dahl said the leadership quality he looks first for is “The ability to love complexity. Most of the people who join us in this work are enthusiastic, smart, and have a ton of resources available to them. But people can get incredibly flummoxed when they get in this murky mire, and the people who really succeed are those who say, ‘Bring it on, let’s do this,’ and who have the versatility and nuance to navigate the complexity.”Describing their current efforts to bring a biocontainment unit to Lima and fight tuberculosis outbreaks in India, Farmer quickly pointed out that there is still an overwhelming amount of work to be done. “We have new, better-tolerated drugs and more resources, but these are still huge problems,” he said. Linking the ongoing struggle with leadership qualities, he added that the ability to stick with problems was critical. “It’s frightening. These diseases are communicable and lethal, and it’s a long, long time from discovery to delivery. How are you going to go all that way?”The panel then took questions from the audience, ranging from how Farmer and Dahl structure narratives to sway skeptics (become allies, know which battles to fight, and keep working on it) to how they balance health and dignity with the cost of delivery (education and basic care make economic sense) to the potential problem of disease dissemination from the refugee crisis (there is a strong, often unheard network of citizens in receiving countries working toward vaccinations and preventive care).Nohria concluded the evening by thanking the panelists for their time and vital work, and invited the crowd to the evening’s reception in the Spangler Center. “We hope that this conversation will inspire everybody in this room to find their own way of making this world more healthy,” he said. The Haitian partnership Paul Farmer, Partners In Health founder, was inspired by liberation theology Related Panel discusses how Harvard affiliates have become part of the quake crisis response More medical care could greatly reduce Ebola fatalities, Farmer says last_img read more

Breaking down ‘Beowulf’

first_img ‘Beowulf,’ as it was told Oberon to host reading of the ancient epic poem about monsters, a dragon, and a hero You say John, I say Paul. But what does stylometry say? Using those metrics, Krieger said, the team combed through the “Beowulf” text, and found it to be consistent throughout — a result that supports the theory of single authorship.“Across many of the proposed breaks in the poem, we see that these measures are homogeneous,” Krieger said. “So as far as the actual text of Beowulf is concerned, it doesn’t act as though there is supposed to be a major stylistic change at these breaks. The absence of major stylistic shifts is an argument for unity.”The study is just the latest effort to pin down the poem’s mysterious background.“There are two big debates about ‘Beowulf,’” Krieger explained. “The first is when it was composed, because the date of composition affects our understanding of how ‘Beowulf’ is to be interpreted. For instance, whether it is a poem near or far in time from the conversion to Christianity is an important question.”The second debate among “Beowulf” academics, Krieger said, is the one he and his colleagues were considering.“The first edition that was widely available to the public was published in 1815, and the unity of the work was almost immediately attacked,” Krieger said. “From high school, everyone remembers the battle with Grendel and Grendel’s mother, and maybe the dragon, but if you go back and read the whole poem, there are weird sections about, for instance, how good Beowulf is at swimming, and other sections that go back hundreds of years and talk about hero kings that have ostensibly nothing to do with the story. So the way we read it now … seems very disjointed.”One piece of evidence that has factored into debates about unitary composition can be seen just by looking at the text.“The handwriting is different,” Krieger said. “At what I would call a random point in the poem, just mid-sentence, and not really an important sentence, the first scribe’s handwriting stops, and somebody else takes over. It’s clear that the second scribe also proofread the first scribe, so even though currently nobody really thinks that these two guys were different poets, or were joining together parts of a poem at this random midsentence location, it has helped contribute to a narrative according to which the writing of ‘Beowulf,’ and maybe its original composition, was a long and collaborative effort. “Arguments based on the poem’s content or its author’s supposed belief system are vital, of course, but equally important are arguments based on the nitty-gritty of stylistic details. The latter also have the merit of being testable, measurable.” — Madison Krieger In the 19th century, the prevailing view among academics was that the poem must be the work of multiple authors. It wasn’t until the early 20th century that another author — one whose name is all but synonymous with epic storytelling — began to challenge that idea.His name? J.R.R. Tolkien.“Tolkien was one of the greatest champions of single authorship,” Krieger said. “He was a very prominent ‘Beowulf’ scholar, and in 1936 he wrote a landmark piece, ‘Beowulf: The Monsters and the Critics,’ that really revived the idea that it was the work of a single person.”At the heart of Tolkien’s argument, Krieger said, is the way in which Christianity is reflected in the text.“The Christianization of ‘Beowulf’ is very interesting, because every single character in it is a pagan, even in these odd digressions,” Krieger said. “Beowulf is from southern Sweden and goes to Denmark to help other pagan Germanic peoples fight monsters … but it’s overlaid throughout with a Christian perspective and infused with Christian language.” Computational evidence from the study supports Tolkien’s view from a new perspective. “Arguments based on the poem’s content or its author’s supposed belief system are vital, of course, but equally important are arguments based on the nitty-gritty of stylistic details. The latter also have the merit of being testable, measurable.”Though he acknowledged it’s unlikely the new study will end the debates about the poem’s authorship, Krieger believes it can shed important new light on English literary traditions.“If we really believe this is one coherent work by one person, what does it mean that it has these strange asides?” he asked. “Maybe one of the biggest takeaways from this is about how you structured a story back then. Maybe we have just lost the ability to read literature in the way people at the time would have understood it, and we should try to understand how these asides actually fit into the story.”Going forward, Krieger and his colleagues are hoping to apply the stylometry tools developed for the study to other literary traditions and other landmark works.“Even works as well-studied as ‘The Iliad’ and ‘The Odyssey’ have yet to be analyzed using a full array of computational tools,” Krieger said. “The fine-grained features that seem to matter most have never been examined in a lot of traditions, and we’re hoping to spread these techniques that we think could change the way similar problems are approached.” Krieger also hopes to use the techniques to understand the stylistic evolution of English across history.“Putting Old English in context is the springboard,” he said. “This is the birth of English literature. From here we can look at what aspects of style evolved — not just grammar, but at the cultural level, what features people enjoyed, and how they changed over time.”Aside from their ability to shed new light on works of literature, Krieger suggested the stylometry tools used in the study might also have some thoroughly modern uses — including spotting troll farms and fake news online.“In retrospect, we know many thousands posts on Facebook were written by the same Macedonian troll farm during the 2016 election,” he said. “If we had some way to identify that posts were likely written by the same author, that would obviously be very useful in deterring misinformation campaigns.”Ultimately, though, Krieger believes the study is a prime example of how ancient texts still hold secrets that can be uncovered through the use of modern tools.“This is the first step in taking an old debate and refreshing it with some new methodology,” he said. “It’s a new extension of the whole critical apparatus, and it’s exciting that an area probably assumed to be very traditional can in fact be at the cutting edge of work that spans the humanities and sciences.”This research was supported with funding from a Neukom Institute for Computational Science CompX Grant, a National Endowment for the Humanities Digital Humanities Start-Up Grant, a New Directions Fellowship from the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation, a National Science Foundation Graduate Research Fellowship, and a Neukom Fellowship. Related A monstrous passion In ‘Beowulf’ and other dead-language texts, junior finds enduring inspiration It’s been a towering landmark in the world of English literature for nearly a millennium, but for two centuries “Beowulf” has also been the subject of fierce academic debate, much of it revolving around the question of whether the epic poem is the work of a single author or was stitched together from multiple sources.In an effort to resolve the dispute, a team of researchers led by Madison Krieger, a postdoctoral fellow at the Program for Evolutionary Dynamics, and and Joseph Dexter, Ph.D. ’18, a Neukom Fellow at Dartmouth College, turned to a very modern tool — the computer.Using a statistical approach known as stylometry, which analyzes everything from the poem’s meter to the number of times various combinations of letters show up in the text, Krieger and his colleagues found new evidence that “Beowulf” is the work of a single author. The study is described in an April 8 paper published in the journal Nature Human Behaviour.In addition to Krieger and Dexter, the study was co-authored by English Professor Leonard Neidorf of Nanjing University, an expert on “Beowulf” whose numerous studies include a book on the poem’s transmission, as well as Michelle Yakubek, who worked on the project as a student at MIT’s Research Science Institute, and Pramit Chaudhuri, associate professor of classics at the University of Texas at Austin. Chaudhuri and Dexter are the co-directors of the Quantitative Criticism Lab, a multi-institutional group devoted to developing computational approaches for the study of literature and culture.“We looked at four broad categories of items in the text,” Krieger said. “Each line has a meter, and many lines have what we call a sense pause, which is a small pause between clauses and sentences similar to the pauses we typically mark with punctuation in modern English. We also looked at aspects of word choice.“But it turns out one of the best markers you can measure is not at the level of words, but at the level of letter combinations,” he continued. “So we counted all the times the author used the combination ‘ab,’ ‘ac,’ ‘ad,’ and so on.” Harvard lecturer helps provide research-backed answer on authorship of Beatles classic Related The Daily Gazette Sign up for daily emails to get the latest Harvard news.last_img read more