The prospect of hearing 10 top Harvard instructors lecture for 10 minutes each on the subjects that they care most deeply about drew an overflow crowd to Sanders Theatre on Thursday (Feb. 11).Harvard Thinks Big, a student-organized discussion that paired leading lecturers with eager listeners, attracted these great minds to help explore and inspire new ways of thinking, in the first session of what organizers hope will become an annual experience.“It’s an effort to epitomize what’s best about Harvard and [remind people] why we came here in the first place: to hear incredible professors talking about the things that they know best, and to be inspired,” said senior Derek Flanzraich, who conceived of the event along with Peter Davis ’12.The format was based on the popular Technology, Entertainment, Design (TED) talks, lectures given at the annual TED conference that follow the same tight format, and which have become online sensations.Before the series of 10-minute talks began, a line of students extended out to the Science Center, patiently hoping to get into the theater, undaunted by a long wait on a cold night.Gaining a lucky seat close to the front, sophomore Avinash Joshi was eager to listen to his Currier House master, Richard Wrangham, the Ruth Moore Professor of Biological Anthropology in Harvard’s Faculty of Arts and Sciences, as well as the other speakers.“I think the coolest idea is that they have to explain what they are most passionate about in 10 minutes … what they really care about, deep in their hearts. It’s going to come out tonight, and that’s why I am here.”Hundreds of students put their studies aside for the two-hour-plus discussion that touched on a range of topics, including violence, evolution, fairy tales, fire, religion, and hip-hop.Presentation styles ranged from subdued podium deliveries to ones infused with drama, such as the one by Andrew Berry, lecturer on organismic and evolutionary biology, who moved around the stage in a brief “drunken” stumble to help illustrate the confused arc of an important genetic mutation in human evolution.Lecturer on computer science David Malan ripped a phone book in two at one point, and worked up a sweat as he paced in front of the crowd, discussing the magic of making “machines do your bidding.” He encouraged students to explore fields that they might never have considered, the way he did as a Harvard undergraduate when he took a computer course outside his original government track.Diana Eck’s big idea was pluralism. Eck, professor of comparative religion and Indian studies and director of Harvard’s Pluralism Project, said she was there to recruit students to study religion, particularly pluralism, the broader engagement and understanding of other people’s faiths.“The ‘we’ in ‘we the people’ has become far more complex than ever before,” she said. “It will require stretching exercises. It will require all of us to know a lot more about each other.”For Daniel Gilbert, global warming isn’t happening fast enough to prompt a strong human response. The professor of psychology told the crowd that the reason the world is so slow to act on climate change is because the danger it poses isn’t intentional, immoral, imminent, or instantaneous. He outlined his theory on how the human brain responds to threats. If, in keeping with his “immoral” theory, “eating puppies” caused global warming, Gilbert said, people would be massing in the streets.Timothy McCarthy, lecturer on history and literature, adjunct lecturer on public policy, and director of the Human Rights and Social Movements Program at the Carr Center for Human Rights Policy at the Harvard Kennedy School, delivered an impassioned talk about the future of protest. He challenged students to embrace the protest spirit of people like Harvard graduate and Civil War Col. Robert Gould Shaw, the commander of the all-black 54th Regiment, who died and was buried with his men.McCarthy pointed to Gould’s statue in the hall and encouraged the students to “transform their privilege into passion.”“Brothers and sisters, if we are to have a future filled with freedom and hope and equality, rather than hatred and fear and exclusion, we must act now. Let us rededicate ourselves to [Abraham Lincoln’s] ‘better angels of our nature’ and bring about a new birth of protest.”The speakers were chosen largely by student request as part of a survey distributed to all undergraduates by the College Events Board in the fall. Harvard Undergraduate Television recorded the event and will post it on the studio’s Web site. Harvard’s Undergraduate Council also helped to plan the program.Davis and the president of the Undergraduate Council, Johnny Bowman ’11, hosted the evening, and Dean of Harvard College Evelynn M. Hammonds, the Barbara Gutmann Rosenkrantz Professor of the History of Science and of African and African American Studies, encouraged the students in the audience to explore their own big ideas.“All of us here want you to find your own passion.”One noticeable absence from the lineup was Michael Sandel, a popular speaker and the Anne T. and Robert M. Bass Professor of Government. He was unable to attend because of a prior engagement. He is a speaker at this year’s TED conference in Long Beach, Calif.
The University of Georgia is partnering in a biopharmaceutical innovation institute that aims to boost market production of cell-based therapies and develop a skilled workforce to work in the biotechnology and pharmaceutical industry.The new public-private partnership, called the National Institute for Innovation of Manufacturing Biopharmaceuticals (NIIMBL) will focus its efforts on driving down the cost and risks associated with manufacturing advanced cell and gene therapies for biopharmaceutical production.Steven Stice, director of the UGA’s Regenerative Bioscience Center and D.W. Brooks Distinguished Professor in the UGA College of Agricultural and Environmental Sciences, is the UGA lead in the partnership, which is coordinated by the University of Delaware.NIIMBL represents a total investment of $250 million, including $129 million in private cost-share commitments from the NIIMBL consortium of 150 companies, nonprofits, educational institutions and state partners across the country, combined with at least $70 million in federal funding from the U.S. Department of Commerce.NIIMBL is the 11th institute under the Manufacturing USA National Network for Manufacturing Innovation initiative created to advance manufacturing leadership and restore jobs to the U.S.This recent success follows an announcement in 2016 by the U.S. Department of Defense that an MIT-led team involving UGA was selected for funding as the eighth NNMI institute.“We are pleased to have UGA participate in these high-profile public-private partnerships that are aimed at advancing U.S. leadership in key manufacturing sectors,” said UGA Vice President for Research David Lee. “We are eager to assist industry partners in meeting their goals through the development of new and existing intellectual property, and the training of an appropriate workforce.”Biopharmaceuticals are increasingly showing promising results in treating some of the most prevalent and debilitating diseases affecting human health. But manufacturing of biopharmaceuticals is not without large-scale operational and technological challenges, Stice said.These biologically sourced drugs are different from traditional small molecule, synthesized drugs. For example, he said, the synthesized drug ibuprofen can be precisely copied and characterized, and result in varied generic versions. In contrast, biopharmaceuticals like vaccines are much more complex and rely on the use of a biological transformation. As living cells, they are highly sensitive to their conditions and surroundings.Technical projects, which will be designed by the industry partners of the institution, will be selected through a competitive process and funded via subaward agreements with NIIMBL members.Stice, a Georgia Research Alliance Eminent Scholar, will facilitate team assembly for response to the project calls, leveraging years of collective experience in regenerative medicine and technology development. He is also co-director of the Regenerative Engineering and Medicine research center, or REM, a collaboration by Emory University, the Georgia Institute of Technology and UGA. “There is a crippling regulatory gap, which is commonly referred to as ‘the valley of death’ in moving biotech products from discovery to commercialization,” Stice said. “What NIIMBL presents is an opportunity to help improve government regulation, minimize failure, create job growth and improve health care quality, all while reducing costs in the U.S.”For more information about the role UGA’s Regenerative Bioscience Center plays in developing biotechnology that will shape the future visit www.rbc.uga.edu.
CLEAR LAKE — A Clear Lake man facing a life prison term on sexual abuse charges has entered into a plea deal with prosecutors. 40-year-old Edric Morris was arrested on February 14th on one count of third-degree sexual abuse and one count of lascivious acts with a child. Authorities at the time said both charges were Class A felonies since both were second or subsequent violations. The charges stem from a complaint received in late January of this year involving a child under the age of 14. Morris had previously been convicted for lascivious acts with a child in Cerro Gordo County in 2012. Morris recently entered an Alford plea to two counts of third-degree sexual abuse and one count of lascivious acts with a child. With an Alford plea, a person does not admit guilt but acknowledges there is enough evidence for a likely conviction. All three charges are Class C felonies, punishable by up to ten years in prison on each charge. Morris is scheduled to be sentenced on September 1st.