Events

    Lecture: Frontiers in Evolution

    Location: 

    Geological Lecture Hall, 24 Oxford St., Cambridge

    New approaches to studying evolutionary processes, from genomics to big data, have revolutionized the study of organisms across geological time and geographical space. Join us for a series of short “flash” lectures presented by Harvard graduate students and learn about the range of questions that scientists are asking today about evolution.

    Learn more about Lecture: Frontiers in Evolution.

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    Lecture: Self-Domestication in Bonobos and Other Wild Animals

    Location: 

    Geological Lecture Hall, 24 Oxford St., Cambridge

    Domesticated animals such as dogs, pigs, and horses often sport floppy ears, patches of white hair, and other features that are unknown in their wild ancestors. These traits—collectively referred to by scientists as a “domestication syndrome”—are the result of breeding less aggressive individuals.

    Drawing from his new book, The Goodness Paradox (2019, Pantheon Books), Richard Wrangham will show that our cousin apes, the bonobos, also exhibit a domestication syndrome, making them the first clear example of a “wild domesticate.” Self-domestication in the wild now seems...

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    Living with White Sharks

    Location: 

    Geological Lecture Hall, 24 Oxford St., Cambridge

    The Cape Cod white shark population has increased in recent years in response to the dramatic increase in the seal population. Shark sightings—some close to popular swimming and surfing beaches—are becoming more frequent and negative interactions between sharks and humans have become a real concern.

    Gregory Skomal has studied and tracked white sharks in the Atlantic for more than 30 years. In this lecture, he will examine the behavior, ecology, natural history, and population dynamics of this species, and how scientific research can help sharks and humans coexist in the Cape...

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    Viruses: The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly

    Location: 

    Geological Lecture Hall, 24 Oxford Street, Cambridge

    Viruses are the tiniest but most numerous inhabitants of Earth. Although notorious for causing deadly epidemics, not all viruses are bad. Many are beneficial to their hosts and several play key roles in maintaining the health of ecosystems.

    Paul Turner (Elihu Professor of Ecology and Evolutionary Biology and Microbiology Program Faculty Member, Yale University) will discuss the “good, bad, and ugly” effects of viruses, from how they invade organisms and wreak havoc in biological systems to how they are used to control pests and develop cancer treatments, among other medical...

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    Genetics and Ethics in the Obama Administration

    Location: 

    Radcliffe Institute for Advanced Study, Knafel Center, 10 Garden Street, Cambridge

    Alondra Nelson, president of the Social Science Research Council and professor of sociology at Columbia University, will discuss the Obama administration’s Office of Science and Technology Policy and, in particular, the evolution of the Precision Medicine Initiative (PMI).

    If “health is politics by other means,” as Nelson has argued, how does the good biocitizen understand the PMI and endeavors like it, especially given the explicit efforts of its organizers and emissaries to better address racial and ethnic differences in the gathering of data and distribution of research...

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    Lecture: Two-Color CPA Laser Development for Nonlinear Optics

    Location: 

    Physics Department, Jefferson 250, 17 Oxford Street, Cambridge

    This lecture is part of the 2019 Loeb Lectures in Physics, delivered by Donna Strickland, Professor, Department of Physics & Astronomy, University of Waterloo; Nobel Laureate, Physics 2018

    There are a host of nonlinear optical experiments requiring two synchronized pulses having different frequencies. Professor Donna Strickland will discuss how University of Waterloo has developed two-color Chirped Pulse Amplification (CPA) laser systems to carry out some of these nonlinear optics experiments. Currently, they are studying Multi-frequency Raman generation...

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    Making the Earth and Moon

    Location: 

    Geological Lecture Hall, 24 Oxford Street, Cambridge

    Earth formed 4.5 billion years ago in a series of giant collisions between other planetary bodies, the last of which produced the Moon. The fingerprints of this process can be seen in the chemical compositions of Earth and the Moon, which are remarkably similar. Mathematical models of Earth’s growth, the Moon’s formation, and their evolution to form metallic cores with rocky mantles and crusts offer greater understanding of these observations.

    Rebecca Fischer (Clare Boothe Luce Assistant Professor, Department of Earth and Planetary Sciences, Harvard University) will look at...

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    Lecture: Investigation of Multi-frequency Raman Generated Spectra

    Location: 

    Physics Department, Jefferson 250, 17 Oxford Street, Cambridge

    This lecture is part of the 2019 Loeb Lectures in Physics, delivered by Donna Strickland, Professor, Department of Physics & Astronomy, University of Waterloo; Nobel Laureate, Physics 2018

    Since the advent of lasers, many different nonlinear optical techniques have led to shorter, higher-intensity pulses. University of Waterloo is studying Multi-frequency Raman generation (MRG), which efficiently generates a large number of Raman orders spanning the spectral region from the infrared to the ultraviolet. The bandwidth of the Raman orders is sufficient to generate...

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    Lecture: From Nonlinear Optics to High-Intensity Laser Physics

    Location: 

    Physics Department, Jefferson 250, 17 Oxford Street, Cambridge

    This lecture is part of the 2019 Loeb Lectures in Physics, delivered by Donna Strickland, Professor, Department of Physics & Astronomy, University of Waterloo; Nobel Laureate, Physics 2018

    The laser increased the intensity of light that can be generated by orders of magnitude and thus brought about nonlinear optical interactions with matter.  Chirped pulse amplification, also known as CPA, changed the intensity level by a few more orders of magnitude and helped usher in a new type of laser-matter interaction that is referred to as high-intensity laser physics...

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    Evolution Matters: David Quammen and Carl Zimmer

    Location: 

    Geological Lecture Hall, 24 Oxford Street, Cambridge

    Celebrating the tenth anniversary of the Evolution Matters Lecture Series, two of the world’s best-known science writers will engage in a lively and wide-ranging conversation. From a discussion of their latest books on heredity and the history of life on Earth to the story of how two English majors became award-winning practitioners of scientific non-fiction, they will explore the most important idea in biology—evolution.

    Learn more about Evolution Matters: David...

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    Designing Living Things

    Location: 

    Geological Lecture Hall, 24 Oxford Street, Cambridge

    Biology can be a design medium: scientists can now “write” DNA and manipulate microbial behavior. In the future, they could also reshape entire ecosystems. Christina Agapakis is a synthetic biologist, writer, and artist who collaborates with engineers, designers, artists, and social scientists to explore the many unexpected connections between microbiology, technology, art, and popular culture. In this lecture, she will discuss current and potential uses of biotechnology in various fields from agriculture and medicine to consumer goods and renewable energy.

    ...

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    Twins in Space

    Location: 

    Radcliffe Institute for Advanced Study, Knafel Center, 10 Garden Street, Cambridge

    Spaceflight poses unusual stressors to the human body. To ensure that astronauts can perform under daunting conditions, NASA investigators have been studying the effect of long-duration spaceflight on crew members. This lecture will present the findings of the NASA Twins Study, which evaluated twin astronauts in different environments for one year: one in space and one on Earth.

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    Combating Antibiotic Resistant Superbugs across Diverse Habitats

    Location: 

    Radcliffe Institute for Advanced Study, Knafel Center, 10 Garden Street, Cambridge

    Disease-causing bacteria are becoming increasingly resistant to all available antibiotics, causing approximately 700,000 annual deaths globally and costing the US economy $55 billion each year.

    Gautam Dantas will discuss how new genomic and computational technologies are enabling a deeper understanding of how antibiotics affect diverse microbiomes, including the evolution and spread of antibiotic resistance across diverse habitats. These insights enable the design of novel diagnostics and therapeutics for maintaining healthy microbiomes and preventing and treating future...

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    Early Science from the Transiting Exoplanet Survey Satellite (TESS)

    Location: 

    60 Garden Street, Phillips Auditorium, Cambridge, MA 02138

    Sam Quinn, Postdoctoral Research Fellow, Smithsonian Astrophysical Observatory

    NASA's Transiting Exoplanet Survey Satellite (TESS) began science operations in July 2018, and over the next two years will survey most of the sky in search of small planets transiting the nearest stars, the brightness of which enables studies of planetary compositions and atmospheric properties. These will likely be the planets on which we focus our search for life through the detection of biosignature gases in the planets' atmospheres. However, TESS is not just an exoplanet mission; by monitoring...

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    Exhibition Opening: Measure

    Location: 

    Radcliffe Institute for Advanced Study, Knafel Center, 10 Garden Street, Cambridge, MA 02138

    Anna Von Mertens is an exhibited artist who uses the structures of quilting and drawing to explore the frontiers of human understanding. Her new exhibition "Measure" explores the life and work of Henrietta Leavitt, one of the women “computers” hired to study glass-plate astronomical photographs at the Harvard College Observatory a century ago. Leavitt’s findings provided a unit of measurement for galactic distances. Reimagined in meticulous stitches and intricate graphite marks, Von Mertens examines our current understanding of the size and shape of...

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    The Secret Lives of Roots

    Location: 

    Hunnewell Building, Arnold Arboretum, 125 Arborway, Jamaica Plain, MA 02130

    The Arnold Arboretum is full of spectacular specimens from around the world that any visitor will appreciate. However, what they observe is only half the story. How a tree uptakes water and nutrients, stays grounded in place, stores energy, and sometimes even propagates itself, is all thanks to its roots. Join horticulturists Andrew Gapinski and Conor Guidarelli as they unearth these questions and more during an exclusive look into the extraordinary world of roots.

    ...

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    Next in Evolution

    Location: 

    Radcliffe Institute for Advanced Study, Knafel Center, 10 Garden Street, Cambridge, MA 02138

    The Next in Science series provides an opportunity for early-career scientists whose creative, cross-disciplinary research is thematically linked to introduce their work to one another, to fellow scientists, and to nonspecialists from Harvard and the greater Boston area. The focus of this year’s program is in the study of evolution. In this program, two leading researchers will explore the genetic impact of Neanderthal interbreeding with modern humans and consider how people migrated, adapted, and mixed over the course of human history. Two...

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    The Undiscovered

    Location: 

    Radcliffe Institute for Advanced Study, Knafel Center, 10 Garden Street, Cambridge, MA

    To paraphrase Louis Pasteur, sometimes luck favors the prepared mind, as when Alexander Fleming discovered penicillin by noticing that mold growing accidentally in his lab seemed to kill bacteria. This 2018 Radcliffe Institute science symposium will focus on how scientists explore realities they cannot anticipate. Speakers from across the disciplines of modern science will present personal experiences and discuss how to train scientists, educators, and funders to foster the expertise and open-mindedness needed to reveal undiscovered aspects of the world around us.

    ...

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