Enhancing Science and Engineering at Harvard


Enhancing Science and Engineering at Harvard The Preliminary Report from the University Planning Committee for Science and Engineering


Here are some Allston-related excerpts:

Recommendation #6: Establish Allston as an interdisciplinary science and engineering research, education, and cultural center that helps the surrounding communities and the world at large.

The Allston campus can influence the University and community at large through multidisciplinary research, education, and cultural activities. Allston should bring together faculty spanning a range of disciplines in the sciences and engineering, from biology and medicine to chemistry, physics, mathematics, and engineering. Together they could tackle basic and applied problems at the interface of the life sciences, medicine, physical sciences, and engineering.
The UPCSE vision for Allston includes three linked components:
1) Integrating elements of biology, chemistry, engineering, and physics to uncover the fundamental principles that explain how cells integrate a myriad of internal and external signals to survive and reproduce in variable environments, understand how these principles explain evolutionary plasticity, and exploit them to manipulate cells for research and medicine;
2) Bringing biology and medicine together to develop the new field of regenerative biology and tackle infectious diseases; and
3) Establishing a strong capability in multidisciplinary and computational analysis, in particular addressing our current weakness in research computing.
We recommend that a critical mass of collaborative science be located in Allston to fulfill the vision. This could include the Harvard School of Public Health, Regenerative Biology and Medicine, the Harvard Institute for Biologically Inspired Engineering (HIBIE), Microbial Sciences, Systems Biology, Chemical and Physical Biology, Innovative Computing, and significant portions of Quantitative Analysis. While professional school faculty have teaching responsibility in their schools, we recommend that all Harvard faculty members located in Allston would have a firm commitment to the University’s teaching mission.
In addition to strengthening interdisciplinary science and engineering research at Harvard, Allston should provide a cultural and educational gateway to the community. We recommend a major effort in community outreach and education in Allston, including relocating the Harvard science museum complex and the Graduate School of Education (GSE) to Allston and establishing a Harvard Science Outreach group to coordinate educational efforts.
Allston also represents an extraordinary opportunity to improve the living arrangements and support for graduate students, post-doctoral fellows, and junior faculty. The creation of living quarters and daycare facilities would enhance careers in science and engineering and provide a valuable framework of child care and support.

We foresee two costs of establishing a critical mass of intellectual activity in Allston: 1) Onetime capital construction costs, much of which can be debt-financed, and 2) ongoing operatin costs of essentially indefinite duration. In calculating these running costs, the University must take into account the true cost of adding more faculty, such as additional graduate student and administrative support. We present below a framework for estimating the full costs of a major expansion.

The first building in Allston be occupied in 2009.

Allston represents a rare opportunity to bring together multi-disciplinary activities, across the life and physical, as well as social, sciences. Such efforts will not only include some of the most exciting science and engineering, but will often focus on topics that have potential to influence community and world at large. The creation of a new campus offers the chance to build a community dedicated to teaching and research and to encourage a campus-wide commitment to interactions both within the campus and between it and other campuses that are stronger than the institution’s historical norm. In addition to exciting research, there exists an opportunity to use these groups of scholars to enhance and reform science and engineering education at all levels, including pre-collegiate. Similar to the opportunities in broadening Harvard’s research and education mission, Allston provides a unique cultural and educational gateway to a wider community.

First Wave of Buildings in Allston
Creating a critical mass of intellectual activity is essential for science and engineering initiatives in Allston to be successful. While the first science building for Allston has now been approved and will be occupied in 2009-2010, it is highly likely that the range and mix of activities we recommend will require a second science building of comparable size. Further, the HSPH will require an additional building of comparable footprint and assignable square feet. We strongly recommend that a three-building complex be planned as a coherent cluster and implemented as part of the first wave for Allston.

We recommend a major effort in community outreach and education in Allston, including relocating the Harvard science museum complex and the Graduate School of Education (GSE) to Allston and establishing a Harvard Science Outreach group to coordinate educational efforts. A team of area-specific coordinators under a program director should be created to work with the GSE and local schools to develop science curricula that can be tested with local schools and the Crimson Summer Academy. This would require a strategic shift in the GSE’s faculty and curriculum since the GSE has not traditionally focused on science and engineering education at the elementary school levels. K-12 education efforts in Allston could include science fair days and exposing Boston-area secondary school students from under-privileged areas to modern science. Building on local successes, Harvard should aspire to shape U.S. science education more broadly. The University should explore collaborations with interested parties including the Museum of Science, the public school systems of Boston, Cambridge, and nearby communities, and other groups interested in K-12 science education.
As Allston science and engineering facilities have not yet been built, it also represents an extraordinary opportunity for Harvard to improve the living arrangements and support for graduate students, post-doctoral fellows, and junior faculty. The creation of living quarters and day care facilities would enhance careers in science and engineering and provide a valuable framework of support.

As the University strives to establish a vibrant community in Allston, we note the merits of building office space that could be leased to commercial, scientific, and technical clients. This would help cultivate an entrepreneurial spirit in Allston, and would provide near-term cash flow as Harvard builds its Allston presence.

Allston’s success will depend heavily on how well Harvard’s activities interact with the cultural, educational, and business concerns of the Boston area. Links to the biotechnology and pharmaceutical companies in the area, connections with Boston area museums, and work with Boston-based K-12 schools will all strengthen the intellectual community that can be built in Allston. Creative approaches should be explored to develop joint ventures and collaborations. Similarly, strong connections with HBS, KSG, and HLS should emphasize the financial, business, political, and legal implications of the research conducted at Harvard and will help scientists and engineers understand their roles in the wider world.

We think that the intellectual excitement of new science, the expansion of science capacity in Cambridge and Longwood and the development of the Allston campus will generate philanthropic giving opportunities. The physical plant and program costs of new faculty will be unsustainable without unprecedented giving. Although plans for a University-wide capital campaign have been put on hold during the current leadership transition, new research, new faculty, new facilities and innovation and leadership in emerging areas of scientific inquiry will challenge alumni and friends of the University on a scale which we have not yet seen.

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