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From preschool to Harvard

From preschool to Harvard

November 4, 2014

When the trees explode into hues of crimson and gold, we know fall has arrived in New England; yet that’s only one signal of a seasonal change.

As a college freshman, the crunch of leaves under my feet in Harvard Yard reminds me of the passing of the torch, as high school seniors all over the world focus on the admissions process for the class of 2019. With the decisions by admissions committees pending, I cannot help but identify with the anxiety and fear that have become rites of passage for high school seniors everywhere.

As seniors, we are told that college...

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A hidden risk

A hidden risk

November 4, 2014

It helps mothers bond with their newborns, passes critical antibodies from mother to child, and contributes to infants’ psychological well-being. The benefits of breast-feeding are well understood by many mothers.

Unfortunately, it might also harm some children, particularly in disadvantaged countries and cultures. A new study conducted by S. Allen Counter, clinical professor of neurology and director of the Harvard Foundation, shows that high levels of lead, as well as other toxic metals such as mercury and cadmium, can pass from mother to child through breast milk. The...

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Toward genetic editing

Toward genetic editing

November 3, 2014

As potential next-generation therapeutics and research tools, few life sciences technologies hold more promise than genome-editing proteins — molecules that can be programmed to alter specific genes to treat or perhaps cure genetic diseases.

There’s at least one catch though. Getting genome-editing proteins into cells, where they need to be to access the genome, is a major challenge, especially in live animals or human patients.

Conventionally, researchers have delivered the DNA encoding these genome-editing proteins into cells and then relied on the cells to...

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Lone Star assembly

Lone Star assembly

October 31, 2014

The Harvard Club of Dallas and the Harvard Club of San Antonio marked their centennials at a Texas-sized Your Harvard celebration last Friday with a gala dinner, bluegrass and piano performances, and remarks from Harvard President Drew Faust.

“A few years before the Dallas and San Antonio clubs were founded, one option, some would say an unthinkable option, existed: the Harvard, Yale, Princeton, and Columbia Alumni Association of Texas,” Faust told the crowd in Dallas. “But even then, in the words of one alumnus, ‘...

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From Mexico to Texas to Cambridge

From Mexico to Texas to Cambridge

October 30, 2014

As they visited Mexico and Texas, Harvard President Drew Faust and Vice Provost for International Affairs Jorge I. Domínguez reinforced the University’s deep and longstanding ties there, met with alumni and faculty, and, in Dallas, promoted the continued value of higher education.

Highlighting Harvard’s scholarship in Mexico, Faust toured the archaeological digs at Teotihuacan, a nearly 2,000-year-old temple complex outside Mexico City, with Bill Fash, the Charles P. Bowditch Professor of Central American and Mexican Archaeology and Ethnology, whose work has helped alter...

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Harvard’s ‘haunted’ Houses

Harvard’s ‘haunted’ Houses

October 29, 2014

Clark Schuler finds it funny to tell the story of the Wadsworth House ghost, and not just around Halloween.

“If weird experiences come up in conversations,” said the IT specialist, “or if someone new starts, I like to add my two cents about it.”

Schuler has been at Harvard for more than 20 years, and his work with computers has carried him across the campus. But that night in Wadsworth resonates.

“It was late, maybe 8 or 9 o’clock, wintertime. I was the only one in the building, in the downstairs offices, with the door right behind me,” recalled Schuler. “But...

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Forgotten Jewish fighters

Forgotten Jewish fighters

October 28, 2014

Klara Grigorievna Rinkina is 91 years old and lives near Boston. She is 5 feet tall, with silver hair and a pleasant, round face. Rinkina is also a war hero, having served as a Red Army medic during what Russians still call the Great Patriotic War. On special occasions she wears a sweater pinned from neck to waist with medals.

One of those special occasions came this month, during an exhibit opening at Pusey Library. Rinkina and five fellow veterans were there — all Jews, whose presence in the Red Army is a...

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Status shift for whale pelvic bones

Status shift for whale pelvic bones

October 28, 2014

For decades, scientists assumed that the relatively small pelvic bones found in whales were simple remnants of their land-dwelling past, “useless vestiges” that served no real purpose, akin to the human appendix or tailbone.

A new study, co-authored by Erik Otárola-Castillo, a fellow in David Pilbeam’s paleoanthropology lab in the Department of Human Evolutionary Biology, suggests that the bones, in fact, have a very specific purpose — particularly when it comes to making baby whales and baby dolphins. The research is described in a recent...

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Birds everywhere

Birds everywhere

October 27, 2014

“I’m staggered by the diversity still,” said Maude Baldwin, looking into the display cases along the walls of the balcony in the Harvard Museum of Natural History’s Great Mammal Hall.

Inside are not mammals, but birds: some 750 specimens, cleaned and brightly lit, displayed in all their variety and splendor.

There are rails and wrens, hummingbirds and hawks, parrots and plovers, representatives of more than 180 families covering nearly all the world’s bird diversity. “Birds of the World,” a permanent exhibit, opened in September after months of design. It replaces...

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