Cynthia Friend May 2014

Cynthia Friend—May 1, 2014

Director Cynthia Friend

 Spring is a time for renewal in all of New England, including at the Rowland Institute at Harvard. We welcome new Rowland Junior Fellows (RJFs) and congratulate two who crossed “the pond” to take positions in the United Kingdom. Chris Richards (2009 RJF) joined the Royal Veterinary College to continue his work on structure-function relationships in vertebrate swimming propulsion (  Chris moved his frog locomotion device, designed and developed at the Rowland, to London.  Laurence Wilson (2010 RJF) has moved to the Physics department at the University of York as a Lecturer (similar to Associate Professor) where he will continue to develop novel imaging tools to study microorganisms.    Although we will miss both Chris and Laurence, we celebrate their success and wish them well in their new challenges.

Dr. Jim Foley, a Rowland Senior Fellow, who worked directly with Dr. Land both at Polaroid and the Rowland Institute, elected to retire from his Senior Fellow position. We are fortunate that Jim will retain an affiliation with the Institute by advising and mentoring RJFs.  His knowledge about dyes is unparalleled and we are pleased that his expertise will remain a resource for our community.

We are fortunate to welcome three new Rowland Junior Fellows who will be joining us in the September 2014.  Robert Brucker, from Vanderbilt University, has done ground-breaking work studying the effect of microbial communities in insect guts.  Robert’s research will complement that of 2013 RJF, Alvaro Sanchez, who studies the evolution, ecology and behavior of microbial communities.  Jennifer Li and Drew Robson, two neuroscientists completing their graduate work at Harvard, investigate learning in zebra fish larvae.  The addition of these new RJFs will strengthen our efforts in neuroscience and be synergistic with the work of 2012 RJF Liz Kane. 

One of the unique aspects of the Rowland Institute is the superb technical staff who play a critical role in the advancement of the RJFs’ research.  The incredible engineering expertise available through Win Hill (who literally “wrote the book” on laboratory electronics), Chris Stokes (an incredibly versatile engineer and inventor who seems able to solve any problem in the lab), and John Chervinsky (an expert in vacuum techniques who has provided great support for electron microscopy), plays a major role in the innovative work and success of our Rowland Fellows.  Staff scientists, Diane Schaack and Linda Stern, bring an understanding of biology to RJFs interested in applications of physical tools in the biomedical arena and provide support for biologists at the Rowland.  Alan Stern is an expert in mathematical modeling and computing that support our research.  This superb technical staff, directed by Michael Burns, Associate Director for Science, facilitates innovation by the Rowland Fellows and sets their work apart from others.

This has been an exhilarating few months for me personally as the incoming Director.  The Rowland Institute is a special place that still embodies the spirit of Dr. Land.  We are looking forward to new research breakthroughs in the coming year and an anticipated new fellowship competition in the fall of 2014.