Harvard News

Shape-shifting structures can take the form of a face, antenna

Shape-shifting structures can take the form of a face, antenna

October 2, 2019

What would it take to transform a flat sheet into a human face? How would the sheet need to grow and shrink to form eyes that are concave, a nose that’s convex, and a chin that protrudes?

How to encode and release complex curves in shape-shifting structures is at the center of research led by the Harvard John A. Paulson School of Engineering and Applied Sciences (SEAS) and the Harvard Wyss Institute of Biologically Inspired Engineering.

Over the past decade, theorists and experimentalists have found inspiration in nature as they sought to...

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First video of viruses assembling released

October 2, 2019

For the first time, researchers have captured images of the formation of individual viruses, offering a real-time view into the kinetics of viral assembly. The research provides new insights into how to fight viruses and engineer self-assembling particles.

The research is published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

“Structural biology has been able to resolve the structure of viruses with amazing resolution, down to every atom in every protein,” said Vinothan Manoharan, the Wagner Family Professor of Chemical Engineering and Professor of Physics at the Harvard...

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Harvard researchers to receive prestigious NIH grants

October 2, 2019

Sixteen Harvard scientists are among the 93 researchers who have been selected to receive grants through the National Institutes of Health’s High-Risk, High-Reward Research Program, which funds innovative study addressing major challenges in biomedical science.

Jason Buenrostro, assistant professor of stem cell and regenerative biology; Brian Liau, assistant professor of chemistry and chemical biology; Sichen Shao, assistant professor of cell biology; Brian Edlow, assistant professor of neurology,...

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Study finds gut microbes adapt quickly to changes in food preparation

Study finds gut microbes adapt quickly to changes in food preparation

October 2, 2019

How we prepare food matters to us, surprisingly deeply, it turns out.

Scientists have recently discovered that different diets — say, high-fat versus low-fat, or plant-based versus animal-based — can rapidly and reproducibly alter the composition and activity of the gut microbiome, where differences in the composition and activity can affect everything from metabolism to immunity to behavior.

“What we didn’t know was whether the form of the food also mattered,” said Rachel Carmody, assistant professor in the Department of Human Evolutionary Biology. And the answer is apparently yes...

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Police officer Chuck Marren’s biggest rival: John Harvard

September 26, 2019

Depending on whom you ask, the most photographed Harvard institution is either the John Harvard Statue, Massachusetts Hall, or Harvard University Police Department Officer Charles Marren.

“I might be more photographed than the statue,” said Marren with a grin.

Why, you ask? The 19-year police force veteran is tall, fit, very friendly, and very helpful. And then there’s that gleaming white HUPD Harley Davidson.

Marren was immortalized on a digital camera for Crystal Wang ’23 and her family on their tour of Harvard 15 years ago. She was 3 years old when her father, Jim, newly...

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Harvard legal and political experts explore the thorny legal and political implications of trying to unseat Trump

September 25, 2019

Citing what she called a “betrayal of his oath of office, betrayal of our national security, and betrayal of the integrity of our elections,” Speaker Nancy Pelosi opened a formal impeachment inquiry in the House Tuesday evening into President Trump. The move followed disclosures that he withheld military aid for Ukraine and pressed that nation’s new president to launch a corruption investigation into former Vice President Joe Biden, one of his leading 2020 election rivals. On Wednesday the White House released a memo summarizing a July phone call between Trump and Ukrainian President...

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How a biofriendly fertilizer could offer a greener way to grow plants

How a biofriendly fertilizer could offer a greener way to grow plants

September 24, 2019

Every year, a “dead zone” the size of Massachusetts sprawls across the Gulf of Mexico. The Mississippi River, which travels through the nation’s farm belt, sweeps excess fertilizer and dumps the chemicals into the Gulf, where they feed rampant algae, deplete oxygen, and kill marine life.

Across the U.S., smaller versions of similar dead zones infect lakes, ponds, and rivers. In years with higher rainfall — like 2018 — Massachusetts’ Charles River collects enough pollutants from...

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Electronic chip can perform intracellular recording from thousands of connected neurons simultaneously

Electronic chip can perform intracellular recording from thousands of connected neurons simultaneously

September 24, 2019

How our brain cells, or neurons, use electrical signals to communicate and coordinate for higher brain function is one of the biggest questions in all of science.

For decades, researchers have used electrodes to listen in on and record these signals.  The patch clamp electrode, an electrode in a thin glass tube, revolutionized neurobiology in the 1970s with its ability to penetrate a neuron and to record quiet but telltale synaptic signals from inside the cell. But this tool lacks the ability to record a neuronal network; it can measure only about 10 cells in parallel.

Now,...

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New art-making space in Allston opens its doors to the public

New art-making space in Allston opens its doors to the public

September 17, 2019

So where can teachers and students, academics and artists, musicians and dancers with different backgrounds and areas of expertise come together to find and explore the fresh perspectives required to breathe life into new works?

Visit Harvard’s newest laboratory this week to find out.

Located on North Harvard Street, the ArtLab is the University’s latest Allston laboratory devoted to creative inquiry, research, and experimentation. Drawing on Harvard’s myriad artistic makers, the ArtLab will foster interdisciplinary collaboration, investigation, and connection within the community...

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