Earth is home to a vast diversity of organisms that collectively define the modern biosphere. How did this diversity come to be? Javier Ortega-Hernández will discuss his approach to answering this question by studying organisms that lived more than half a billion years ago in the Cambrian Period (485–541 million years ago). By focusing on the earliest-known animals—some of the most versatile to ever exist—Ortega-Hernández aims to reconstruct the early evolutionary history of major animal groups and contribute to our understanding of Earth’s biodiversity.
Drawing on narratives from hundreds of Black, Latinx, and Indigenous individuals, Ebony Omotola McGee examines the experiences of underrepresented racially minoritized students and faculty members who have succeeded in STEM. Based on this extensive research, McGee advocates for structural and institutional changes to address racial discrimination, stereotyping, and hostile environments in an effort to make the field more inclusive.
Center for Astrophysics | Harvard & Smithsonian—Online
Join the Center for Astrophysics | Harvard & Smithsonian for a virtual Public Observatory Night with guest lecturer Donavan Moore, author of "What Stars Are Made Of: The Life of Cecilia Payne-Gaposchkin."
It was not easy being a woman of ambition in early twentieth-century England, much less one who wished to be a scientist. Cecilia Payne-Gaposchkin overcame prodigious obstacles to become a woman of many firsts: the first to receive a PhD in astronomy from Radcliffe College, the first promoted to full professor at Harvard, the first to head a department there. And, in what...
Online—Harvard Division of Science, Cabot Science Library, and Harvard Book Store
Rita Colwell, a pioneering microbiologist and the first woman to lead the National Science Foundation, will talk about her new book, A Lab of One's Own: One Woman's Personal Journey Through Sexism in Science. The book is a memoir-manifesto about the entrenched sexism in science, the elaborate detours women have taken to bypass the problem, and how to fix the system.
In this webinar, Rachel Kyte (Dean, Fletcher School, Tufts University) will discuss a potential green recovery from the pandemic—how recovery efforts might be leveraged to accelerate the transition to a clean and sustainable energy system—in the United States and globally.
Apps for health, wellness and disease management are increasingly common across the healthcare ecosystem. Health systems, biotech and pharma, payers and pharmacy benefits managers are just a few of the industry sectors actively using digital tools to try to improve care delivery and outcomes.
This webinar will discuss emerging lessons and concepts from this space. What is the practical significance of the designation “digital therapeutic?” What are the current regulatory pathways? How does reimbursement actually work? Megan Jones Bell, MD, Chief Science Officer for Headspace,...
Mars was once similar to Earth, but today there are no rivers, no lakes, no oceans. Coated in red dust, the terrain is bewilderingly empty. And yet multiple spacecraft are circling Mars, sweeping over Terra Sabaea, Syrtis Major, the dunes of Elysium, and Mare Sirenum—on the brink, perhaps, of a staggering find, one that would inspire humankind as much as any discovery in the history of modern science.
In her beautifully observed, deeply personal book, The Sirens of Mars: Searching for Life on Another World, Georgetown scientist Sarah Stewart Johnson tells the story of...
Mauro Petriccione (Director-General for Climate Action, European Commission) will discuss approaches to ensuring that Europe’s economic-recovery packages advance a green agenda—reduced greenhouse-gas emissions, reduced air and water pollution, and long-term sustainable development on the basis of a circular economy.
Three decades after the fall of the Berlin Wall and the breakup of the Soviet empire, the West faces a new era of East-West tensions. Any vision of a modern Russia integrated into the world economy and aligned in peaceful partnership with a reunited Europe has abruptly vanished. Two opposing narratives vie to explain the strategic future of Europe, one geopolitical and one economic, and both center on the same resource: natural gas. In The Bridge, Thane Gustafson, an expert on Russian oil and gas, argues that the political rivalries that capture the lions share of media attention...
Charles Darwin is commonly cited as the person who “discovered” evolution. But, the historical record shows that roughly seventy different individuals published work on the topic of evolution between 1748 and 1859, the year that Darwin published On the Origin of Species. These early thinkers, now almost entirely forgotten, included biologists, geologists, horticulturists, physicians, clergymen, atheists, philosophers, teachers, and poets.
William Friedman will discuss the ideas of these pre-Darwinian evolutionists, place Darwin in a broader historical context, and...
Ancient Maya civilization suffered a major demise between the tenth and eleventh centuries. The causes continue to be investigated and debated. Paleoenvironmental research over the past twenty years has revealed that the demise coincided with a prolonged, intensive drought that extended across the region, providing compelling evidence that climate change played a key role in the collapse of the Maya. Billie Turner will examine this evidence and the complex social and environmental conditions that affected Maya societies.
The sense of smell plays a critical role in human behavior, from warning us of potential dangers to attracting us to certain foods, places, and people. Harvard scientists Catherine Dulac and Venkatesh Murthy study the molecules, cells, and brain circuits that underlie olfaction and the social behaviors that aromas can elicit. In this program, they will engage in a conversation with internationally recognized olfactive expert Dawn Goldworm to discuss how neurobiological research on olfaction relates to our everyday experiences.
In this lecture, David Altshuler, the chief science director of Vertex Pharmaceuticals, discusses the promise of precision medicine and gene-editing therapy to potentially cure serious genetic illnesses.
The Tasmanian devil is the world’s largest living carnivorous marsupial. This species was once abundant in Australia, but today is only found on the island of Tasmania, where it is at risk of extinction due to two rare, contagious cancers. Mark Margres will discuss how this species is adapting in response to these diseases, whether there is any hope for the Tasmanian devil to avoid extinction, and what can be learned about human cancers from studying the disease in other animal species.
The social and environmental values underlying artisanal chocolate production have become increasingly important in its marketing. Good taste is paramount, of course, but how does one measure "social goodness," and what additional value does it add for the consumer? Chocolate makers’ interests often diverge from those of cacao producers, and industry stakeholders have not clearly addressed these concerns. Carla Martin will examine the cacao-chocolate industry and highlight the often conflicting goals that can create gaps in social and environmental responsibility.
Radcliffe Institute for Advanced Study, Knafel Center, 10 Garden St., Cambridge
From Botox to bionic limbs, the human body is more upgradable than ever. But how much can we alter and still be human? The award-winning documentary Fixed: The Science/Fiction of Human Enhancement explores the social impact of human biotechnologies. Fixed rethinks “disability” and “normalcy” by exploring technologies that promise to change our bodies and minds forever. Join us for a discussion about the ethics of gene editing and disability.
Radcliffe Institute for Advanced Study, Knafel Center, 10 Garden Street, Cambridge
Xenotransplantation is a promising strategy to address the shortage of organs for human transplantation, though concerns about pig-to-human immunological compatibility and the risk of cross-species transmission of porcine endogenous retroviruses (PERVs) have impeded the clinical application of this approach. In this lecture, Luhan Yang, cofounder and chief scientific officer of eGenesis will explain how CRISPR is being used to create pigs with advanced immunological modifications to address immunological and functional compatibility issues.
Online webcast from The Forum at Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health
Nearly 40,000 people died from gun-related injuries in the U.S. in 2017 -- the most in 20 years. And while mass shootings grab headlines, they account for a small part of gun-related murders in the country. Urban gun violence remains a tremendous -- and too often overlooked -- burden on underserved communities. And suicides persist as accounting for the majority of U.S. gun deaths. As the seventh anniversary of the Sandy Hook Elementary School shooting approaches, this Forum event will examine contrasting facets of gun violence in America. Seeking to move the discussion past...
Radcliffe Institute for Advanced Study, Knafel Center, 10 Garden Street, Cambridge,
The Internet of Things (IoT) is a deeply interconnected ecosystem of billions of devices and systems that are transforming commerce, science, and society. IoT technologies can be used to disrupt, exploit, bias, bully, and intrude as well as to make our lives safer, more efficient, and more convenient. Join Francine Berman, Edward P. Hamilton Distinguished Professor in Computer Science at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute, in an exploration of the larger social and environmental ecosystem needed to develop an IoT that maximizes benefits, minimizes risk, and promotes individual protections...
Online webcast from The Forum at Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health
In the last decade, Americans’ relationship with cannabis has transformed: today, dozens of states have legalized marijuana for medical or recreational use and American farmers can grow hemp on an industrial scale. Meanwhile, shoppers can find cannabidiol (CBD), which is derived from cannabis but does not produce a “high” like marijuana, in everything from oils to vapes, chocolate bars, cosmetics—even dog treats. Some say CBD can relieve stress, pain, anxiety, and more, with no side effects. But the evidence for many of these claims is limited, and state and federal laws around the sale...