Notable moments from Harvard's 2021-22 academic year – Harvard … – Harvard Gazette

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For many, the past year was one of perseverance, camaraderie, and optimism. All over Harvard’s expanding campus we welcomed students back to in-person classes, on-campus activities, and the advancement of scholarly work.
This year saw innovations in teaching and scholarship, medical breakthroughs and collaborations, the continued fight for equity and justice, and a much-needed refresh of several buildings across the University.
Despite the challenges and transitions, bonds between members of the Harvard community grew stronger, the commitment to service endured, and the University remained steadfast in its dedication to the pursuit of Veritas.
Here are some of the highlights from the 2021-22 academic year.
Harvard School of Dental Medicine and the World Health Organization teamed up to address critical oral health challenges in Africa, which worsened during the pandemic.
A team of researchers from the Wyss Institute found a way to embed synthetic biology reactions into fabrics, creating wearable biosensors that can help diagnose COVID-19.
 
The wFDCF face mask can be integrated into any standard face mask. The wearer pushes a button on the mask that releases a small amount of water into the system, which provides results within 90 minutes.
Photo courtesy of Wyss Institute at Harvard University
Leading coronavirus scientist Kizzmekia Corbett joined Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health to continue her vaccine development research.
Harvard Business School announced that Terrill L. Drake had been named the School’s first chief diversity and inclusion officer.
Harvard Graduate School of Education announced the launch of its first online master’s degree, Master’s in Educational Leadership, a two-year, part-time program for those looking to build on their career path.
Nancy Coleman was named the next dean of Harvard’s Division of Continuing Education.
 
Dean Nancy Coleman speaks during the virtual ceremony for Harvard's 370th Commencement, featuring degree-conferring exercises for the Class of 2021.
Kris Snibbe/Harvard Staff Photographer
A team of physicists from the Harvard-MIT Center for Ultracold Atoms and other universities took a major step toward building large-scale quantum machines with their programmable quantum simulator capable of operating with 256 quantum bits.
Dolev Bluvstein (from left), Mikhail Lukin, and Sepehr Ebadi developed a special type of quantum computer known as a programmable quantum simulator. Ebadi is aligning the device that allows them to create the programmable optical tweezers.
Rose Lincoln/Harvard Staff Photographer
Professor, priest, and Harvard community member Matthew Ichihashi Potts was named Pusey Minister and Plummer Professor of Christian Morals.
Counseling and Mental Health Services opened a new 24/7 mental-health hotline for Harvard students, called CAMHS Cares.
Harvard Medical School’s Program in Global Public Policy and Social Change was awarded a grant from the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation for their focus on equity-centered COVID recovery.
The Mark I, one of the world’s first programmable computers, moved from Harvard’s Science Center in Cambridge to the new Science and Engineering Complex in Allston.
The Harvard Mark I, a 77-year-old electromechanical computer designed by Harvard mathematician Howard Aiken moves from the Science Center, its home since 1959, to the recently completed Science and Engineering Complex.
Video by Kai-Jae Wang
Harvard College students were overjoyed as they moved into their Houses or dormitory halls in the Yard.
 
Alexis Rodriguez Mejia '23 (left) shows his cousin, Sebastian Lozano, '25 around Harvard.
Rose Lincoln/Harvard Staff Photographer
A study by Harvard Forest senior ecologist Audrey Barker Plotkin and colleagues found that carbohydrates were the reason why some oak trees in our region had survived a recent severe outbreak of invasive moth, and some had not.
Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health’s Marc Lipsitch and Rebecca Kahn were selected to establish a new center at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention that would focus on advancing the use of forecasting and outbreak analytics in public health decision making.
Harvard Law School announced a new School shield, which was the result of an extensive community outreach process over the past year.
 
Researchers from the Wyss Institute, MIT, and Boston-area hospitals created a simple, inexpensive, saliva-based diagnostic that tests for multiple variants of the SARS-CoV-2 virus.
 
An accompanying smartphone app analyzes the fluorescent readout on miSHERLOCK, giving users a clear “Positive” or “Negative” result.
Photo courtesy of Wyss Institute at Harvard University
Houghton Library reopened its doors as a more welcoming and accessible space, after closing its doors for two years due to renovation and the pandemic.
 
Lewis Day (pictured) speaks from the new reading room desk.
Stephanie Mitchell/Harvard Staff Photographer
Philanthropist, entrepreneur, civic leader, and former U.S. secretary of commerce Penny Pritzker ’81 made a $100 million gift in support of the Department of Economics. The gift will help create a new home for the department and enable it to pursue dynamic new approaches to teaching and research.
Thousands of Harvard alumni, affiliates, and guests came together for Unity Weekend, a three-day virtual conference to discuss issues at the intersection of identity, inclusion, and impact, led by — and in celebration of — Harvard alumni of color.
The John Harvard Statue in Harvard Yard got a restorative facelift from a team of public monuments restoration specialists.
 
Video by Stephanie Mitchell/Harvard Staff Photographer
Harvard Professor and economist James H. Stock was named the University’s inaugural vice provost for climate and sustainability, a position that will guide and further develop Harvard’s strategies for advancing climate research and its global impact.
Harvard Library gained access to 13 million items held by four different libraries through the shared collection of the Research Collections and Preservation Consortium. Four million volumes from Harvard Library are now part of the shared collection.
Environmentalist, author, and Divinity School Writer-in-Residence Terry Tempest Williams led a series of online conversations exploring grief, compassion, and resilience in response to climate chaos.
 
Author and activist Terry Tempest Williams.
Kris Snibbe/Harvard Staff Photographer
The Harvard School of Dental Medicine opened its doors to veterans for free dental care and consultations during the School’s first Give Veterans a Smile event.
The Harvard Graduate School of Design selected its inaugural Racial Equity and Anti-Racism Fund projects which included exploring equity in digital spaces, the current and future state of Latinx creative practices, and how disadvantaged communities can gain access to political and economic resources.
Swartz Hall, Harvard Divinity School’s main campus building, added a multifaith space, improved accessibility, and updated classroom tech in the 110-year-old building.
 
In Harvard Divinity School’s new Swartz Hall, student Minahil Mead (from left), Hindu monk Vandan Ranpurwala, and student and Buddhist monk Mahayaye Vineetha meet in the multifaith space. With movable seating, the chapel in Swartz Hall was redesigned to provide space to pray, reflect, and engage.
Photos by Kris Snibbe/Harvard Staff Photographer
Maria Ressa, a Harvard Kennedy School fellow, was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize for her courageous and innovative work in journalism.
Krzysztof Wodiczko, professor in residence of art, design, and the public domain at Harvard Graduate School of Design, added marginalized members of society to famous statues and buildings in his newest exhibition at the Harvard Art Museums.
Harvard Graduate School of Arts and Sciences launched “Colloquy,” a podcast exploring some of the most pressing challenges of our time through the lens of the scholars and thinkers of Harvard’s Ph.D. community.

The Loeb Music Library and the Harvard-Radcliffe Institute collaborated to honor Eileen Southern, Harvard’s first tenured African American woman professor. The symposium explored her legacy as a musicologist and educator and featured a film about Southern by Harvard students and a digital library exhibit on Southern’s life and work.
 
Uzo Ngwu '23 directed a short film on the legacy of Eileen Southern.
Stephanie Mitchell/Harvard Staff Photographer
The Schlesinger Library welcomed its new executive director, Petrina D. Jackson.
The Harvard Museum of Natural History, the Peabody Museum of Archaeology & Ethnology, the Harvard Museum of the Ancient Near East, and the Collection of Historical Scientific Instruments welcomed visitors back for the first time since March 2020.
Inspired by her family’s history of legal work, Samantha Maltais became the first member of the Aquinnah Wampanoag tribe to enroll at the Law School, where she planned to focus on Indigenous rights and environmental justice.
 
Samantha Maltais.
Kris Snibbe/Harvard Staff Photographer
Harvard Business School celebrated the 100-year anniversary of the case method with a look back at the first case and an exploration of how this enduring teaching method might evolve.
To celebrate the Arnold Arboretum’s sesquicentennial and its Harvard connection, dawn redwood trees were planted at Elmwood, President Larry Bacow and Adele Fleet Bacow’s residence.
 
Adele Fleet Bacow (from left), President Larry Bacow, Conor Guidarelli, Andrew Gapinski, and William (Ned) Friedman helped plant the three trees at Elmwood.
Stephanie Mitchell/Harvard Staff Photographer
Trailblazing biologist and beloved mentor E.O. Wilson died. He was a leading expert on ants, insects, and biodiversity, pioneering the field of sociobiology, which sought to explain the evolutionary basis behind social behavior.
 
“One of the qualities I really admired about Professor Wilson was his ability to really listen and engage with whomever he was interacting with,” said Corrie S. Moreau, Ph.D. ’07, who was one of Wilson’s final advisees.
Kris Snibbe/Harvard file photo
Director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases Anthony Fauci delivered the Harvard Chan School’s 173rd Cutter Lecture on the state of the pandemic and possible future mutations.
The Harvard Chan School of Public Health and the Tsinghua Vanke School of Public Health in Beijing announced a collaboration on educational and research initiatives, which came on the heels of the launch of a bilateral exchange program in clinical research and education with Zhejiang University School of Medicine in Hangzhou, China.
The Harvard Ed Portal’s fifth annual Allston-Brighton Winter Market went virtual, with shoppers browsing the online shops of 41 local artisans. Products included artisanal candies and sweets, fine art, and handmade dolls and toys.
Woodworker Tim Rice and fabric artist Oyinda Oyelaran display the goods they sold at the Winter Market.
Jon Chase/Harvard Staff Photographer
Harvard College accepted 740 students to the Class of 2026 from a pool of 9,406 who applied under the early action program.
Harvard University launched the Kempner Institute for the Study of Natural and Artificial Intelligence, a new University-wide initiative exploring the intersection of neuroscience and artificial intelligence funded by a $500 million gift from Priscilla Chan and Mark Zuckerberg.
Harvard Medical School graduate Pamela Chen, M.D. ’20, created the “Women Before Me,” exhibit to honor Harvard Medical School alumnae to inspire future generations of women in medicine.
 
Willy Lensch and Dan Callahan hang the portrait of Raquel Cohen, M.D. '49. Pamela Chan, M.D. '20, poses with the portrait she painted of Yeu-Tsu Margaret Lee, M.D. '61.
Photos by Gretchen Earth
The Harvard Art Museums’ ​​major renovation and expansion was awarded the 2021 Boston Society for Architecture’s Harleston Parker Medal, which recognizes “the most beautiful piece of architecture, building, monument, or structure within the City or Metropolitan Parks District limits.”
Harvard Graduate School of Arts and Sciences announced the 2022 Harvard Horizons Scholars, selected as representatives of the extraordinary researchers who make up Harvard’s Ph.D. community.
In a new book, “Civil Rights Queen: Constance Baker Motley and the Struggle for Equality,” Radcliffe Dean Tomiko Brown-Nagin turned a light on a lesser-known yet central player in the Civil Rights Movement and women’s rights pioneer.
 
Radcliffe Dean Tomiko Brown-Nagin found little scholarly work on Constance Baker Motley, who became the subject of her newest book.
Stephanie Mitchell/Harvard Staff Photographer
Harvard Graduate School of Education students signed up to be substitute teachers in the Greater Boston area as the pandemic surge caused major staffing shortages.
President Biden nominated Harvard Law School alum Ketanji Brown Jackson ’92, J.D. ’96, to the Supreme Court of the United States. Confirmed in April, Jackson is the first Black woman to serve on the nation’s highest court.
 
Ketanji Brown Jackson '96 speaks after her nomination. President Joe Biden and Vice President Kamala Harris stand behind her.
Carolyn Kaster/AP Photo
Paul Farmer, a Harvard Medical School global health physician and medical anthropologist who dedicated his life to improving and providing health care in some of the world’s most underserved countries, died from an acute cardiac event in Rwanda.
Harvard Graduate School of Education announced endowed scholarships for students in the new Teaching and Teacher Leadership master’s program thanks to a $40 million gift, the single largest in HGSEs history.
Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern of New Zealand was announced as the principal speaker at Harvard’s Commencement ceremony for the Class of 2022.
New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern, pictured at a press conference in 2021, has earned international acclaim for her response to the pandemic.
Robert Kitchin/Pool Photo via AP
A new startup licensed stem cell and 3D bioprinting-based kidney regenerative technologies that were engineered by researchers at the School of Engineering and Applied Sciences, the Wyss Institute, and Brigham and Women’s Hospital.
Harvard students rallied to show their solidarity for Ukrainians in the days just after the Russia invasion, including collecting donations and creating a website to pair hosts with refugees.
EdRedesign at the Harvard Graduate School of Education received a grant and a gift to establish an Institute for Success Planning to help communities redesign their systems of support and opportunity for children and youth.
Harvard and Boston University were awarded a grant from the State House to support the development of next-generation robotics and wearable technologies.
U.S. Attorney General Merrick Garland ’74, J.D. ’77, was announced as the principal speaker at Harvard’s Commencement ceremony for the Classes of 2020 and 2021.
Merrick Garland is the 86th attorney general of the United States.
Kevin Lamarque/Pool via AP
The Alumni of Color Conference celebrated its 20-year anniversary. The hybrid conference included Harvard Graduate School of Education’s first major in-person event since February 2020.
Two-term U.S. Poet Laureate Tracy K. Smith ’94 was selected as the featured speaker for Harvard Alumni Day.
Tracy K. Smith is professor of English and of African and African American Studies in the English Department.
Stephanie Mitchell/Harvard Staff Photographer
The report of the Presidential Committee on Harvard and the Legacy of Slavery described Harvard’s history with slavery, which includes more than 70 people enslaved by Harvard presidents and other leaders, faculty, and staff. The report offered a series of recommendations — already accepted by Harvard President Larry Bacow — and a $100 million fund for immediate use and to establish an endowment to sustain the work in perpetuity.
Boston mayor and champion for inclusion, Michelle Wu ’07, J.D. ’12, was selected by the Harvard College Class of 2022 to address the graduating seniors as part of the annual Class Day celebration.
Arts First returned as an in-person event for the first time in three years. The annual arts festival featured theater, dance, music, and spoken-word performances, along with interactive public art.
 
The Harvard University Band performing in the Science Center Plaza.
Rose Lincoln/Harvard Staff Photographer
The new Program for the Evolution of Spirituality at Harvard Divinity School held a conference on “Ecological Spiritualities,” which explored the evolution of Earth-based spiritual traditions and highlighted innovative spiritual practices emerging in response to the painful realities of climate change, mass extinction, biodiversity loss, and the disruption of local and global ecosystems.
Lead trial counsel William F. Lee ’72 and chief diversity and inclusion officer Sherri Ann Charleston discussed what’s at stake in the ongoing legal challenge to Harvard’s race-conscious admissions policies as part of a forum hosted by the Office of Equity, Diversity, Inclusion, and Belonging.

Video courtesy of Harvard Equity, Diversity, Inclusion, and Belonging
Katherine N. Lapp, Harvard’s executive vice president since 2009, announced that she will step down from the role. Leading Harvard’s administrative and operational functions, Lapp played an integral role in managing the University’s response to the COVID-19 pandemic, including testing and tracing, the technology infrastructure that enabled remote learning, and the return to campus.
Executive Vice President Katie Lapp.
Jon Chase/Harvard Staff Photographer
Led by scientists at the Center for Astrophysics | Harvard & Smithsonian, an international team produced a second portrait of a supermassive black hole, this time lurking 27,000 light-years away at the center of Earth’s galaxy.
The Harvard Graduate School of Design announced the Master’s in Real Estate, a new degree program for individuals seeking to learn how real estate can advance beneficial spatial, social, and environmental outcomes in cities and metropolitan areas worldwide.
Tribal historic preservation officer for White Earth Nation, Jaime Arsenault presided over a ceremony at the Peabody Museum of Archaeology and Ethnology that returned two sacred scrolls and a pipe tomahawk to White Earth, which is an Anishinaabe nation (and its ancestors part of Anishinaabe spiritual and communal life).
The Harvard Alumni Association’s new president, Allyson Mendenhall ’90, M.L.A. ’99, is committed to creating inclusive alumni experiences.
Harvard University celebrated the Classes of 2020, 2021, and 2022 with live ceremonies, featuring principal speakers Merrick Garland and Jacinda Ardern.
Video by Cooper Hardee/Harvard University
 
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Harvard photographers document vibrant return to campus life after two years of pandemic restrictions
Michael VanRooyen, director of the Harvard Humanitarian Initiative, on navigating a world of conflict and need
Highlights from another year of discovery at Harvard, where inquiring minds are the norm
View all of Commencement 2022
The first in-person Baccalaureate in two years brought seniors into Tercentenary Theatre instead the traditional stop at Memorial Church.
Rose Lincoln/Harvard Staff Photographer

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