Support on the cutting edge

first_img“Jamie Star challenges and enables us to do something important, without being prescriptive about how it’s done,” Douglas Melton, the Xander University Professor and Thomas Dudley Cabot Professor in the Natural Sciences, said Tuesday about the Star Family Challenge for Promising Scientific Research.At the inaugural awards ceremony for the challenge, Melton, who chairs the committee behind it, related an important dinner conversation with its founder, James A. Star ’83. Melton said the two discussed the need to fund interdisciplinary research, and the result was a clear target.“We want to fund research which would not otherwise be funded, research that would be new, and that would have large potential impact,” Melton said. “This kind of research often happens when you look between fields.”The challenge was established by Star and funded at his direction with a $10 million grant. Given biannually to Harvard faculty members, the awards range from $20,000 to $200,000 and are determined by a committee of senior FAS members.At the ceremony in a packed University Hall, this year’s four winners presented research with jaw-dropping potential. Charles Lieber, the Mark Hyman Jr. Professor of Chemistry at the School of Engineering and Applied Sciences (SEAS), is researching ways to use nanoscale technology to create electronics that could be injected into the brain and become fully integrated with neural networks. The results could someday be used to treat diseases and traumatic injuries, Lieber said, citing epilepsy and Parkinson’s disease. Such “injectable electronics” would be much less invasive than surgery.Lieber also described his “ultimate dream”: “injectable closed-loop systems for the detection, monitoring, and treatment of diseases.”Richard Lee, a professor of stem cell and regenerative biology at Harvard University and professor of medicine at Harvard Medical School, said a simple question lay at the heart of his research: “Can DNA tell time?” He followed with another: “Why is it that a dog keeps track of time seven times longer than we humans do?” The mechanism by which DNA tracks time is “one of the great unsolved mysteries of science,” said Lee, and the answers could help fight disease.Lee noted that people with muscular dystrophy die at about age 20, and those with cystic fibrosis die at about 30. “We’d like to extend this time,” he said. “Could we slow down time within the muscles of MD patients or within the lungs of CF patients?” He added in a later interview, “I am a physician, so thinking about patients with diseases is all that I do. I dream about being able to slow down diseases, or delay their onset.”Conor Walsh, an assistant professor of mechanical and biomedical engineering at SEAS, is developing wearable technology — “soft wearable robots” that could someday help people with limited mobility walk with their normal gait. His interdisciplinary research combines robotics, engineering, and biomechanics.Bernardo Lemos, assistant professor of environmental epigenetics at Harvard School of Public Health, studies the extraordinary resilience of microanimals called tardigrades. “These organisms can be boiled, frozen, desiccated, sent into space, subjected to radiation, and yet still remain alive,” Lemos said. His research has potential in biotechnology, materials science, and public health. “Those of us in public health worry about pollution, lead paint, heavy metals, and how all the toxicity they spread impacts us. Well, tardigrades are barely impacted at all by these things,” and knowing why could advance research, he said.After hearing from the four winners — selected from more than 60 submissions — Star said, “These were phenomenal presentations. I’m so glad to be supporting such cutting-edge research.”The challenge will continue to encourage submissions from both the natural and social sciences at Harvard, and work to help close the funding gap faced by researchers.last_img read more

IBM employees donate more than four tons of food to local food shelves

first_imgSource: IBM GlobalFoundries,Employees of IBM in Vermont collected more than four tons of food ‘ 8,110 pounds ‘ for food shelves in Vermont and New York.  The food drive was part of IBM’s annual Employee Charitable Contribution Campaign, an employee-run fundraising event that offers employees the opportunity to contribute to non-profit charities.  This year, IBM employees pledged $971,000 to support Vermont United Ways and other charitable organizations. The food drive was one of several campaign activities that extended the employees’ contributions.  To promote the program, employees held a ‘food sculpture’ contest, in which employee teams built displays out of the donated boxes and cans of food.  Subjects included a full-size park bench, model rockets, a giant-size soup bowl and the SpongeBob SquarePants cartoon character. Food donations were distributed to the following organizations: ‘ Addison County Community Action, Middlebury, VT ‘ 540 pounds of food ‘ Chittenden Emergency Food Shelf, Burlington, VT ‘ 3,580 pounds of food ‘ Central Vermont Community Action, Barre, VT ‘ 540 pounds of food ‘ Duxbury Elf Food Shelf, Duxbury, VT ‘ 750 pounds of food ‘ Franklin & Grand Isle Community Action, St. Albans, VT ‘ 540 pounds of food ‘ Lamoille County Food Share, Morrisville, VT ‘ 540 pounds of food ‘ Milton Family Community Center, Milton, VT ‘ 540 pounds of food ‘ Waterbury Area Food Shelf, Waterbury, VT ‘ 540 pounds of food ‘  Joint Council of Economic Opportunity of Clinton and Franklin Counties Food Pantry, Plattsburgh, NY ‘ 540 pounds of food In addition to the cash pledges and food donations, IBM employees donated 37 bicycles and helmets from a bicycle build competition to the Marine’s Toys for Kids of Vermont program and the Franklin/Grand Isle United Way, collected hats, mittens and scarves for distribution in Chittenden County, and contributed the equivalent of more than 40 eight-hour days of volunteer time to 30 projects for 19 area agencies. last_img read more

Fish and Pick Festival Draws Anglers and Music Lovers to the Maury River

first_img John Woody, iEDIT•HD John Woody, iEDIT•HD John Woody, iEDIT•HD John Woody, iEDIT•HD “Come on, Gunner. Come on, boy, let’s go over here!” insisted Emma Jo Williams, age five. Gunner, a gunmetal gray Weimaraner that easily outweighed Emma Jo by at least 50 pounds, happily obeyed and loped over to the new location before plopping down on the grass. Now at the new location, Emma Jo, in a pink shirt, purple shorts and tall rubber boots, urged Gunner to a new location just a few yards away. Emma Jo began tugging on the leash, but Gunner, content to just lie on the grass, shot a patient but long-suffering look in her direction. “Honey,” Josh Williams called out to his daughter from a fly-tying bench located beneath a small tent, “you might want to give Gunner a little break. You keep moving him from spot to spot. Besides, you need to come over here and finish eating lunch.” Emma Jo gingerly pulled on Gunner’s leash, and her faithful friend obediently trotted back toward the tent, perhaps hoping to finish off Emma Jo’s hotdog himself.Once there Emma Jo sidled up beside her father, a well-known fly angler and fly designer from Roanoke, Virginia. Josh Williams, owner of local fly fishing guide service Dead Drift Outfitters, was seated at his fly-tying bench surrounded by curious onlookers. They marveled at his ability to take hooks, thread, and a few feathers to create the remarkably lifelike patterns that fly anglers use to tempt trout and other species into biting. Williams, Emma Jo, and the rest of their family were flanked by about 50 campers, all within easy walking distance of their tent. Some of the surrounding tents had humble setups with pickup trucks and makeshift campfires, while other sported elaborate recreational vehicles with retractable awnings, full kitchens, and bathrooms. The entire area was abuzz with activity, especially from anglers who seemed to be everywhere.BRO Goes to Fish and Pick from John Woody on Vimeo.The First Annual “Fish & Pick,” held on May 20-22, 2016, at Glen Maury Park in Buena Vista, Virginia, had something for everyone. Nestled in the bucolic Shenandoah Mountains and adjacent to the famed Maury River, the newly created event was a chance for visiting families to enjoy the outdoors and spend time together in a location unknown to many. Spearheaded by Brian Brown, Director of Economic Development for Buena Vista, the event introduced outdoor enthusiasts to new outdoor opportunities that the region offers but are sometimes overlooked. “We believe there are many reasons why people would be drawn to an event like this,” said Brown. “We’re providing children and those who are young at heart a chance to get in touch with nature and enjoy the outdoors in a family-friendly environment.” At this year’s inaugural event, dozens of anglers in hip boots or waders, carrying spinning gear or fly rods were lined up along the banks of the Maury River, which had been stocked with a thousand feisty rainbow trout. Successful anglers of every age were proud to show off their day’s catch. Those too young or not equipped to enter the Maury River visited a stocked pool near the river bank. There was no additional fee to fish, and all gear was supplied for those children willing to give it a try. For those who weren’t interested in fishing, there were other ways to relax. Nearby food trucks sold barbeque, french fries, homemade lemonade, and kettle corn. By early evening the sounds of bluegrass music from Junior Sisk and Rambler’s Choice, the Deer Creek Boys, and Plank Road Express filled the air. John Woody, iEDIT•HD John Woody, iEDIT•HD Small Virginia cities like Buena Vista and Lexington are primarily known for their history, and with good reason: The area was a hotspot during the Civil War. Venerable institutions of higher learning, Washington & Lee and Virginia Military Institute (VMI), are both local. Attractions include Natural Bridge, which was surveyed in the 1700s by a young George Washington. History lovers can also visit monuments to Virginia native Sam Houston, who went on to great fame in Texas, and the less well known favorite son Matthew Fontaine Maury. The polymath Maury taught at VMI and was so struck by the local waterway’s beauty that he asked that his ashes be spread in Goshen Pass along what is now the Maury River. Nicknamed “Pathfinder of the Seas,” Maury is today acknowledged as the father of modern oceanography. The United States Naval Academy in Annapolis, Maryland, has a hall named after this amazing man.           The region has never suffered a dearth of history buffs; events like Fish & Pick hope to impress upon tourists that the Old Dominion offers tremendous recreational opportunities as well. “Rockbridge County is the southern gateway to Virginia’s Shenandoah Valley,” says Patty Williams, Director of Marketing for Lexington and Rockbridge Area Tourism. “With easy access to 64,000 acres of National Forest lands and the Maury and James Rivers, outdoor enthusiasts of all ages and skill levels can hike, bike, fish, paddle, climb and camp right here.” Don’t care much for fishing? Then why not consider kayaking or canoeing the local rivers, or taking advantage of the myriad hiking options like Woods Creek Trail, Chessie Trail, Laurel Run Trail, or the Buena Vista River Walk?Planning an event as large as Fish & Pick was a daunting task, and Brown is the first to insist that he didn’t do it alone: “We had a lot help from committed folks and sponsors alike,” he said. “Thanks to fine folks like Valley Auto Group, Rockbridge Regional Tourism, Virginia Tourism Corporation, Devil’s Backbone, and our wonderful volunteers, we had a successful event. We thought Glen Maury Park would be a perfect venue for this because it’s so close to the river, and because of the camping facilities. It turns out our predictions were correct.” Weekend rain dampened attendance, but Brown was still pleased. “There were kids here that caught their first fish this weekend,” he said. “That made it all worthwhile for me.”Emma Jo Williams and Gunner certainly had a blast and are eager to return. Good news for them: plans for the Second Annual Fish & Pick are already underway. For more information on fishing in the area, contact Josh Williams at Dead Drift Outfitters ( Check out Rockbridge Outdoors   ( for a listing of area trails and activities.Beau Beasley ( is the author of Fly Fishing Virginia and Fly Fishing the Mid-Atlantic. He’s a regular contributor to Blue Ridge Outdoors.last_img read more

Financial literacy alone won’t fix your money problems

first_imgUnless you were born into riches, you’ve probably dealt with money troubles. Financial problems can be a struggle, and “financial literacy” is the go-to solution to building good money habits. Create a budget, learn some basic rules, and poof! Our money woes are cured. That’s not all it takes to improve your finances, though. Not by a long shot.Financial literacy is, in a nutshell, understanding how money works. It’s very important, and it’s not difficult to learn. In fact, there are a handful of free resources to help you learn all about money. Those lessons can be helpful tools. However, if it were as easy as learning some basic math and rules, we’d all be awesome at money. Less of us would struggle with debt, live paycheck-to-paycheck, or overspend on stuff we don’t need.Many people assume financial literacy is the key to fixing these problems, though. For example, we recently wrote about the first thing you should do to get your money in order (figure out why you want to get it in order). Many of you had other ideas, like: continue reading » 18SHARESShareShareSharePrintMailGooglePinterestDiggRedditStumbleuponDeliciousBufferTumblrlast_img read more

Digital optimization is banking’s next big battle in fintech war

first_imgAs the dust begins to settle on the worst of the COVID-19 shutdowns and the Paycheck Protection Program, many financial institutions are rethinking their digital strategies. Fintechs observe this reset of strategies. And they either see their business imploding or exploding, since financial institutions continue to look at digital and digital transformations as a set of capabilities, offerings or products that help them compete.During my many visits to financial institutions, one thing has become clear in my talks with executives: Financial institutions would rather copy proven offerings than innovate.Digital Transformation: A Beginning, Not a DestinationWhile the institutions’ IT teams are trying hard to modernize their way of working, old-fashioned mahogany still rules the boardrooms. This difference in attitude causes a disconnect when it comes to digital transformation.Neal Cross, former Chief Innovation Officer at DBS, couldn’t have said it any better: “Everything we didn’t get around to, was tossed in a bucket and now that we are forced to address the bucket, we call it digital transformation.” continue reading » ShareShareSharePrintMailGooglePinterestDiggRedditStumbleuponDeliciousBufferTumblrlast_img read more

At least two injured in rollover crash in the Town of Maine

first_imgTOWN OF MAINE (WBNG) — Emergency crews were responding to a one-car rollover in the Town of Maine early Monday morning. The crash happened around 1:45 a.m. on East Maine Road, near the intersection of Pollard Hill Road. The Broome County Sheriff’s Office, New York State Police, Union Volunteer Emergency Squad, and the East Maine Fire Company all responded to the scene. A 12 News crew on the scene watched two people being loaded into the back of ambulances on stretchers. We’re working to learn the extent of the injuries.center_img The cause of the crash is still under investigation. This is a developing story, stay with 12 News for further updates.last_img

Holy trinity

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Farmers sow seeds of independence

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ING pension fund abandons plans to divide into two schemes

first_imgInitially, the pension fund of ING indicated that a split might enable it to improve communication and to provide a more balanced approach to the two employers and their different stakeholders.It suggested that indexation for the two groups of participants would diverge, as the sponsors could introduce different pay rises.“A higher indexation for one group would mean a disadvantage for other groups, as indexation would come at the expense of the pension fund’s coverage ratio,” it said.However, the pension fund, with 71,000 participants in total and a funding level of 136%, has now concluded that continuing as a single scheme is a good alternative.It said it would seek to co-operate with the two new pension funds – ING CDC and NN CDC – within the existing structures, aimed at efficient pensions provision, joint communication, and joint policymaking.It added that it would also look at the options for simplifying pension arrangements and their implementations. The €27bn closed pension fund ING has decided not to divide itself into two schemes in the wake of its sponsoring company splitting.ING Group split into banking arm ING and asset manager and insurer NN Group in 2014.On its website, the pension fund said that, after two years of deliberations, it had concluded that there was insufficient reason for such a move, as this would come at the expense of efficiency.Since the division of ING – required by the European Commission, following government aid in the wake of the financial crisis – the two new companies have each set up new collective defined contribution (CDC) schemes for their staff.last_img read more

Dutch political party proposes cap for pensions sector salaries

first_imgDutch socialist party SP wants to limit pay for pension fund trustees and service providers’ staff to no more than the salary received by the Netherlands’ prime minister.Bart van Kent, MP for the SP, said he would attach an amendment to legislation implementing IORP II to cap pay at €187,000.He argued that the cap fitted with the EU directive’s explicit reference to “appropriate remuneration”.Currently, this cap – known as the WNT, or Balkenende standard – applies to pay at semi-public organisations, such as hospitals, schools and public broadcasters. Dutch socialists want pension sector workers to earn no more than prime minister Mark RutteHe said he also wanted pension funds to demand that asset managers comply with the WNT rules through a clause in their contracts.The Dutch parliament will debate the IORP II legislation on 26 September.In other news, Gijs van Dijk, MP for the labour party PvdA, has asked the Dutch government why bonuses at pensions providers have risen, while many of the country’s pension funds have been unable to grant inflation-linked increases.He argued that performance fees should only be paid if pension funds granted inflation compensation.His questions were triggered by the recent publication of a costs survey from consultancy LCP, which revealed that asset management costs had risen by almost €1bn, while schemes’ returns had dropped considerably. In Van Kent’s opinion, the pensions system was a special kind of social security in which high salaries were not appropriate, “as the money has been deposited by workers, and most pension funds can’t grant inflation compensation”.The MP also noted that pension funds paying high salaries didn’t perform better than schemes with more modest remuneration policies.last_img read more