Learning about research

first_imgWith the help of her faculty mentor, Debra Chang ’12 discovered during the summer that good research sometimes requires a little dancing.Chang, a sociology concentrator, participated in the new Behavioral Laboratory in the Social Sciences (BLISS) program for the chance to work on a research project with a member of Harvard’s Faculty of Arts and Sciences (FAS). She was paired with Nicole Newendorp, a lecturer and assistant director of undergraduate studies in the Department of Social Studies, on a study of elderly immigrants in Boston’s Chinatown neighborhood. Newendorp sent Chang — who speaks Mandarin — out to collect data from a number of social groups, including one for retirees who enjoyed ballroom dancing. She soon found that the best way to get the seniors to agree to interviews was to join them on the dance floor.“I always wanted to learn ballroom dancing at Harvard, but because I was doing this research, I decided to sign up for a summer class,” Chang said. “I went back to Chinatown every week and danced with the people there to get to know them. Then I would ask if they would like to be interviewed. I got to ballroom dance with all the people that ended up speaking to me for the study.”Chang and nearly 150 other Harvard undergraduates spent 10 weeks last summer learning the nuts and bolts of academic research — from ethnography to techniques for culturing living tissue — from faculty in three immersive programs: BLISS, the Program for Research in Science and Engineering (PRISE), and the Program for Research in Markets and Organizations (PRIMO). Harvard College Dean Evelynn M. Hammonds says that the programs give students the same type of close interaction with faculty in the lab and library that freshman seminars provide in the classroom.“Like the freshman seminars, the summer research programs allow undergraduates to have formative experiences working with faculty,” Hammonds said. “Because there are no term time responsibilities, students can focus on the research enterprise itself and collaborate with some of Harvard’s leading scholars. In so doing, they learn about the sciences and social sciences and also get a view of Harvard that is different from the one they get in the classroom.”The growing emphasis on an intensive faculty research experience for undergraduates began with PRISE in 2006. The program was created in response to the 2005 report of the Task Force on Women in Science and Engineering, which recommended the development of a summer residential community for undergraduate scholars in the sciences. Any undergraduate in good standing may apply to PRISE, and admitted fellows receive room and board on campus, as well as a small stipend. Faculty and investigators from FAS, Harvard Medical School, and other allied research enterprises across Cambridge and Boston work with students in astronomy, physics, chemistry, biology, computer science, and many other fields.Greg Llacer, director of the Office for Undergraduate Research Initiatives and of PRISE, said the goal of the program is to expand students’ academic interests by placing them in a “lively and energetic community of scientists.”“PRISE gives undergraduates the opportunity to work closely with faculty and peers and to focus on research, which is very conducive to having a positive experience in the sciences,” he said. “It allows students to pause and to think about what they may want to pursue. As a result, we now have PRISE fellows who have gone on to graduate school who may have not taken that road if they had not worked with faculty in research.”Alice Li ’14 spent last summer working with Professor Lee Rubin, director of translational medicine for the Harvard Stem Cell Institute, on ways to improve stem-cell therapies for older patients. She said the most valuable research skill she developed during PRISE was the ability to ask better questions.“I learned to ask questions the way that a good scientist would,” she said. “Poking my head around my postdoc’s desk to ask why a particular molecule would be our best choice for positive control was just as much a learning experience as, for instance, my practice with tissue culture techniques. I also got to see how Professor Rubin posed questions. He made me feel both challenged and inspired at the same time. I wanted to continue research long after the summer had ended.”Students have responded enthusiastically to PRISE — which included more than 120 undergraduates in 2011 — and expressed high levels of satisfaction with the program on surveys. In light of this success, the College last year launched BLISS and PRIMO to offer immersive research experiences with faculty in the social sciences and at Harvard Business School (HBS). Participants in the new programs dine at Dudley House with their cohorts in PRISE, and join them for the popular faculty lecture series, open to all summer research students. But whereas PRISE fellows leverage faculty expertise and support for their own research, BLISS and PRIMO participants are matched with faculty on existing projects.Newendorp, Chang’s BLISS faculty mentor, said she accompanied her student into Chinatown each day, teaching her the techniques of ethnographic research, and helping her to get acquainted with the community. In return, Chang gathered data from immigrants who spoke Mandarin Chinese that complemented Newendorp’s data collection from those who spoke Cantonese.“In general, the seniors we met liked Debra, who reminded them of their own grandchildren” Newendorp said. “One time, however, a woman criticized Debra’s Chinese, saying that it wasn’t fluent enough. Debra turned that criticism into a learning moment by sticking with the conversation and finding out in the process that this woman was very upset that one of her sons couldn’t speak Chinese. Another time, a man involved in the ballroom dancing group found it easier to talk about his migration experience with Debra, as someone of Chinese descent, than with me, the Harvard professor and outsider.”The opportunity to work with bright young students such as Chang was one of the reasons that HBS partnered with the College to launch PRIMO, according to Mihir Desai, Mizuho Financial Group Professor of Finance and senior associate dean for planning and University affairs at HBS.“We created PRIMO to give students exposure to academic life in business schools,” Desai said. “More selfishly, our faculty has benefited from interacting with a remarkable pool of talent in the undergraduate population, and we hope we have addressed our longer-run problem — the scarcity of talent from which we can draw the next generation of business academics. So far, PRIMO has far exceeded our expectations.”Stephanie Havens ’14 said she didn’t know what to expect when she applied to PRIMO last spring. Then the economics concentrator met with HBS Assistant Professor Eugene Soltes, who told her about his ongoing project on business ethics. She was hooked. Havens partnered with Soltes and did intensive background research for the project, which centered on the former CEO of a major U.S. corporation. She said that her most memorable experience of the summer came when she accompanied Soltes on a trip to meet and interview the CEO — in prison.“There were barbed wire and motion detectors,” Havens remembered. “It was kind of surreal. A lot of times, research feels a little remote. You’re looking at this information, and it doesn’t have really strong context. It feels far off. Meeting with this CEO in prison brought the work into the real world and gave meaning to what we were doing.”Soltes — who graduated from Harvard College himself in 2004 — said that Havens’ work over the summer was so strong that he asked her to continue her involvement with the project during the academic year.“Stephanie spent a lot of time getting an understanding of our subject’s experience at the firm,” he said. “She also spent a lot of time in the Business School and Law School libraries. It’s because of the fantastic job that she did that I’ve asked her to continue her efforts on the project this fall.”Although BLISS and PRIMO will stay small — between 12 and 18 students each — during the second year of their pilot phase in 2012, College officials say they hope eventually to put the programs on equal footing with PRISE and establish all three as an ongoing summer research village.“The success of PRISE, BLISS, and PRIMO demonstrates the value of developing a community of researchers from a wide range of academic disciplines,” said Hammonds. “The fact that many students carry on with their work during term time, and even into graduate school, is an indication of the programs’ impact. Our hope is that, one day, every Harvard College student who wants to explore research will have the opportunity to participate in an intensive summer program.”last_img read more

In Search of a Common Shield

first_img Interview with Brigadier General Kenrick Maharaj, Chief of the Trinidad and Tobago Defence Staff Shootings between gangs and drug trafficking vendettas in Trinidad and Tobago, home to the most joyous carnival in the Caribbean, forced the government to declare a state of emergency during the summer of 2011. Still, from that unfortunate event came about an unprecedented link between the country’s Police and Defense Forces, both of which worked together to put an end to a crisis that was draining the island nation. A year-and-a-half after the emergency in Trinidad, is the Military still collaborating with the Police to avoid another episode like the one in 2011? During an interview granted to Diálogo during the Caribbean Nations Security Conference (CANSEC), in December 2012, Brigadier General Kenrick Maharaj, Chief of Defense of Trinidad and Tobago, answered these and other questions about regional cooperation in the security realm. Diálogo: Last year, during CANSEC 2012 in St. Kitts and Nevis, we had the opportunity to speak to you about the security and defense challenges faced by Trinidad and Tobago. What’s new in the security and defense panorama of your country? Brigadier General Kenrick Maharaj: What was significant over the last year was the change in the leadership of the Ministry of National Security, and the new minister, the Honorable Jack Warner, brought some new perspectives to the national security landscape in terms of his leadership style and his priorities. We have had to engage some additional rules and responsibilities to further our support to agencies within Trinidad. The new minister has placed to a higher level the importance of social interventions. So, in support of the Police, we have been engaged over the last few months in treating with some of the social issues and some of the high risk communities in Trinidad and Tobago, more so in Trinidad, with our targeted efforts on the youth. It has been interesting to actually have a new engagement that speaks to one aspect of crime prevention. Diálogo: During the state of emergency in Trinidad, in 2011, the Defence and the Police Forces worked together. Have you continued with that model of cooperation? Brig. Gen. Maharaj: I must admit to you, without having to be politically incorrect, that the relationship between the Trinidad and Tobago Police Service and the Defence Force is an excellent one. There is really an open forum for discussions on any issue as opposed to 10 years ago when there was a clash of cultures in the way the Military did business versus the way the Police did business. We understand each other better now than we did previously, which makes for a more amicable relationship not just at the executive level, but at the ground level. There is a greater level of comfort working side by side in joint patrols, mobile patrols or foot patrols. Diálogo: How do you manage to work together without overstepping your boundaries? Brig. Gen. Maharaj: We had to craft very robust rules of engagement coming out from the experience of the state of emergency we had between August and December last year [in 2011]. My legal officer at the Defence Force has been very engaged in crafting rules of engagement and ensuring that there is a level of accountability and transparency in the way in which business is done by the Defence Force in support of the Police. And I want to extend that to include our involvement in social programs, since working with civilians requires a different type of engagement. Notwithstanding the fact that we have put more resources into social programs, the Defence Force has done well maintaining the security posture in the air and maritime environments, so our border security is not compromised in terms of allocation of resources, understanding the nature of the national security environment today and our commitments to the region as well. It is not just about Trinidad & Tobago. Thankfully we are now utilizing all of our air assets; the four Augusta-Westland 139 helicopters that were recently acquired are now all operational. They do maritime surveillance, search and rescue… The land force continues to be engaged within borders and all the other efforts that I already outlined. And our Coast Guard continues to grow. Our Coast Guard is in the process of acquiring long-range patrol vessels and is doing extensive repairs to our interceptors. We are now in the process of acquiring new engines and acquiring long-range patrol vessels so that we can provide support in the region, as well as that deterrence in our exclusive economic zone and in our littoral waters in general. Diálogo: Are you working with other countries in the Caribbean to create that common shield to protect each other against transnational organized crime and other threats? Brig. Gen. Maharaj: While we are a small island-state in general, there are some islands that are smaller than others, and they have limited resources. Trinidad and Tobago is one of the strong economies, and therefore we have greater capabilities. So far collaboration is about getting the best bang for the buck, in regards to the available resources. Trinidad and Tobago has had to take the lead there so our coastal surveillance has been extended up to Saint Lucia. We have radar coverage in Saint Lucia, Saint Vincent and the Grenadines, Grenada, and what is already installed in Trinidad and Tobago. Generally speaking, the CARICOM member states relate very well. It is just that we have a challenge with respect to resource availability. While Trinidad appreciates the assistance it gets from international partners, as well as from regional neighbors and partners, we do have to understand and appreciate the levels of capabilities that exist within the region, and provide the type of assistance that will ensure that generally speaking, the shield that we seek to establish in the region is on the basis of mutual support, and who has the resources to help in that regard. Diálogo: How would you say is the relationship between the Trinidad & Tobago Defence Force and the United States Military? Brig. Gen. Maharaj: We have many years of a strong friendship with the United States, with Canada, and the United Kingdom, with international partners. Over the 50 years of our independence that relationship has only strengthened, we have crafted many mechanisms for corporation. During the 2007 Cricket World Cup, which I tend to describe as a precipitating event, a number of legislative instruments were crafted to strengthen regional collaboration and to extend far beyond the regional collaboration between the CARICOM region, and with the United States, Canada and the United Kingdom, just to name three international partners. I don’t want to remove France and other countries from that discussion because they are all partners, as far as Australia, South Africa… they are all very strong security partners of ours and we intend to continue to move from strength to strength in that regard. Diálogo: During one of your interventions at CANSEC 2013 you mentioned the importance of looking at the model created for the security of the Cricket World Cup in 2007 that took place in venues over several Caribbean countries. Can you please elaborate on that? Brig. Gen. Maharaj: I will preach the gospel of the Cricket World Cup of 2007 until I die. The legacy that came out of the Cricket World Cup, not all of those benefits remain today. At the end of the event those pieces of legislation were shelved. I do hope that sometime in the future we review those pieces of legislation because that is what constituted the success story of the Cricket World Cup of 2007. It was a willingness of the region to come up with some common agreements on how we treat regional security. So, that precipitating event that the Cricket World Cup 2007 was, mobilized regional, unified regional support. I would really like to see the spirit of that commitment return to the table. It must not necessarily be restricted to only an event, it must become part of the landscape, part of a thought that defines who we are in the context of the region. If we need to re-craft legislation to support or strengthen cooperation and collaboration, then so be it. If we have to draft new memorandums of understanding, no problem. So the residual effects of that success story live with me, and will continue to live with me until I die, as a citizen of the region, more so than a citizen of the republic of Trinidad and Tobago. Diálogo: How do you see the spirit of collaboration among the countries participating at CANSEC? Brig. Gen. Maharaj: As Mr. Francis Forbes [interim Executive Director of CARICOM IMPACS] said during the conference, there are idiosyncrasies that reside within the region, but that does not mean that we don’t have the conditions to continue the mutually respectful engagement. Those conditions are there, and the region does have a history of cooperation, so we rely on our very friendly partners, we are communicating to ensure that we can convert that into the success that we can achieve on any issue of regional importance. By Dialogo January 16, 2013last_img read more

Migrant Families Were Confused When U.S. Expelled Children Into Mexico

first_img– Advertisement – – Advertisement – The transfer was contrary to both U.S. policy and an outstanding diplomatic agreement with Mexico, which do not allow children from other countries who are traveling without adult guardians to be expelled into Mexico. But it is now becoming clear that a number of children have been improperly expelled after the Trump administration shut down the border to most asylum applicants because of the coronavirus pandemic.Since The New York Times reported last week on an internal email that warned border authorities about the improper transfers, Ms. Acuña, who asked that her sister be identified by her first name to avoid immigration repercussions, is one of several Central Americans who have come forward saying they were anxious and confused after their children and young relatives were sent without any adult to accompany them into a country that is not their own. Lawyers from KIND, an immigrant advocacy organization, said that they knew of several Central American children who were expelled into Mexico and that some of them were still in custody there. And the Young Center, another such group, confirmed it had appealed to American authorities in two additional cases — two Salvadoran girls, ages 11 and 15, who were expelled into Mexico and eventually allowed into the United States after legal interventions.“We shouldn’t be encountering these kids at all,” said Jennifer Nagda, policy director for the group. “We have no idea how many cases there are because we’re getting them through word of mouth.”Some parents have had to wait days or weeks to find out that their children had been sent without their knowledge to Mexico.Lenis Manzanarez Suazo, a Honduran who has also been waiting in Matamoros for the American border to reopen, said she watched as American immigration authorities walked her 7-year-old daughter, Samantha Manzanarez, into the United States on Sept. 23. She waited for news, assuming that the girl would be reunited with relatives in Florida. Just weeks after Esther crossed into the United States, a Honduran woman named Paola walked with her 5-year-old son Nahum to the edge of the international bridge that leads into the United States. (She also asked that she and her son be identified by their first names for fear of retaliation from American immigration authorities.)The two had been living for months in a shelter in Matamoros, Mexico, waiting for the border to reopen so they could pursue American asylum petitions. But Paola said she had reached her wit’s end about the conditions they had been living in, and the fact that her son had not been to school in more than a year. She decided to send Nahum to the United States, hoping American authorities would allow him to join his grandfather and uncles in Los Angeles.She said she walked the boy to the bridge on Sept. 5 and watched U.S. immigration officials usher him into the American port of entry. Scared that something might go wrong, she said, she stood on the bridge waiting for news. But after about five hours, she was dismayed to see a Mexican government van drive past her with Nahum inside. Eva Acuña spoke with her teenage sister Esther by phone early on the morning of Aug. 15, about an hour before Esther planned to enter the United States near the Mexican city of Ciudad Juárez and ask for asylum — the end of a long journey from Esther’s home in El Salvador.Ms. Acuña, a legal permanent resident in the United States, expected to hear next from American immigration authorities about her sister’s status. But instead, about eight hours later, she received a call from the authorities in Mexico. Instead of taking her sister into custody, the U.S. Border Patrol had delivered the girl back to Mexico, where she was in a children’s shelter.- Advertisement – A U.S. Border Patrol official raised alarms about the practice in the internal email that came to light last week. Brian Hastings, chief of the Border Patrol’s Rio Grande Valley sector, confirmed the practice had been occurring, and said border agents had been directed to contact the Mexican consular office each time an unaccompanied child who was not Mexican was expelled.Five people have told The Times that their children or young relatives were expelled into Mexico after entering the United States, in violation of the agreement between the two countries.center_img Mexican officials declined to provide her, as well as Paola, with documentation showing that her child had been improperly expelled by the United States into Mexican custody.A.B., a 17-year-old from El Salvador who asked to be identified by his initials because he did not want to face retaliation in his pending asylum case, said he crossed the border near El Paso on July 14 but was expelled back to Mexico and held in a shelter there for two weeks.The American officer who processed his case, he said, told him that if he had tried to cross the border before the pandemic, he would have had more success. “We’re sending you back to Mexico,” he said the official told him. “Maybe next time.”Ms. Acuña’s sister Esther, who is 15, was transferred to a second shelter after being sent back to Mexico, then a third. She was eventually allowed into the United States after American lawyers, working in concert with the Salvadoran consulate, successfully argued that the expulsion had violated both U.S. policy and the diplomatic agreement.She arrived at a U.S.-operated children’s shelter in Arizona on Oct. 23, about two months after she had been sent back to Mexico.Eventually, Ms. Acuña said, the family hopes she can be released to family members in Houston. But when that will be, no one knows. “We waited for a call from a family member or something for three, four days,” Ms. Manzanarez Suazo said. “I was nervous. A week passed and still nothing.”Finally, about eight days later, Ms. Manzanarez Suazo sought help from an immigrant advocacy organization called Every Last One that contacted the Mexican child welfare agency on a hunch that Samantha had been expelled. The hunch was correct. Samantha was in one of the agency’s shelters. Working with American lawyers, Paola contacted Mexico’s child welfare agency and learned that her son had been sent back into its custody. She pleaded to see him, but three days went by before she was allowed to pick him up.Shipping young people back and forth between foreign governments is a sensitive matter, in part because of the bureaucratic red tape that can lead to delays in their release, even in cases like Paola’s, when the child’s parent is waiting in the same country.It is unclear how many non-Mexican children have been expelled into Mexico, because both the American and Mexican governments have declined to provide data on the number of cases. U.S. government officials have cited a legal challenge against some of the expulsions that have occurred under the pandemic to explain why they cannot elaborate further. In a tweet on Friday, a spokesman for the Mexican secretary of foreign affairs said that “at the moment” it had no record of minors entering Mexico without accompanying relatives.“The Mexican government, along with civil society and multilateral organizations, will continue with due investigations,” the statement said. In some cases, including Esther’s, there were no other family members in Mexico to aid the children. – Advertisement –last_img read more

EDITORIAL: September 11 continues to take its toll

first_imgCategories: Editorial, Opinion“It remains inconceivable that now, 18 years later, we’re still losing our loved ones because of the attack this day.” ~Daniel Nigro, fire commissioner, FDNY.For those of us who watched in horror on that beautiful, sunny Tuesday morning in 2001 as the planes crashed into the Twin Towers, we will never forget. The terrorist attacks that killed nearly 3,000 innocent people that day in New York City, Pennsylvania and Washington, D.C., shattered our collective sense of security, made us question our own mortality and rallied our patriotism.But when it was over and the shock had died down, most of us were able to go back to our lives, shaken but not broken.That’s not the case for the heroes of 9/11, both those who died trying to help others that day and the heroes who came in after, searching for victims, helping recover the bodies, investigating the site and cleaning up the damage. Among the thousands of tons of debris that fell on the city that day was dust containing toxins and carcinogens. The people who worked at the site or who worked and lived around it in the immediate aftermath of the attacks breathed in that dust.Many have since suffered from chronic health problems, respiratory illnesses and cancer — tens of thousands of people.Many have died, and continue to die, from their exposure.And now it’s even possible that fetal development issues related to the toxins may be affecting a generation of Americans that wasn’t even born on September 11, 2001.   Among those who helped in rescue and recovery operations and who died years later of cancer as a result of their efforts in the wake of 9/11 were State Trooper Brian Falb of Morrisonville, Trooper Michael J. Anson of Colonie and Sergeant/Station Commander Charles R. Salaway, who was stationed in Wilton and Greenwich.The events of 9/11 had an enduring effect on all of us who lived during that time.In a sense, we were all victims. But there were those who paid a much higher price than the rest of us. The people on the planes. The people in the Twin Towers and the Pentagon. The first responders who rushed into danger and never came out. And the many others who suffered and died from diseases in the aftermath.Today, we remember all of their sacrifices, and pray that something like this never happens again.More from The Daily Gazette:EDITORIAL: Find a way to get family members into nursing homesEDITORIAL: Thruway tax unfair to working motoristsFoss: Should main downtown branch of the Schenectady County Public Library reopen?EDITORIAL: Urgent: Today is the last day to complete the censusEDITORIAL: Beware of voter intimidationlast_img read more

PREMIUMChild protection advocates fear spike in child marriages during pandemic

first_imgLOG INDon’t have an account? Register here Experts and the nation’s child protection agency are urging the government to prevent a spike in child marriages during the COVID-19 health crisis, which they fear could exacerbate the problem.The director of the University of Indonesia’s Child Protection and Wellbeing Center (Puskapa), Santi Kusumaningrum, said the pandemic had “multiplied preexisting vulnerabilities”, including the issues of poverty, school dropouts and unplanned pregnancies that have driven child marriages in the past.“With life difficulties increasing and schools being closed, you can imagine that various risk factors are becoming more and more [present] around children,” she told The Jakarta Post.Limited social opportunities due to the pandemic could also make young girls see marriage as a “way out” without understanding the risks of child marriages, she ad… Linkedin Facebook Forgot Password ? Topics : Log in with your social account Google child-marriage #COVID19 #ChildMarriage COVID-19 ChildMarriagelast_img read more

Kentucky implements civics test requirement for graduation

first_imgLexington, Ky. — Beginning in July of 2018, high school students in Kentucky must pass a civics test before meeting graduation requirements. Kentucky lawmakers passed the bill and governor Matt Bevin signed it promptly into law.The law asks the Kentucky Department of Education to develop and administer a 100 question test, students must get 60 percent of the responses correct in order to get a regular diploma.Some requirements of the law are:Local boards of educations will determine how the test will be givenStudents my take as many retests as necessary to passA student who has taken a similar test in the last five years do not have to take it againThe naturalization test and study materials are available online.last_img