Writing Portfolio

Cover stories and feature articles written for Colloquy, the quarterly magazine for the Graduate School of Arts and Sciences.

Colloquy Cover Story: The Mentoring Program of the Harvard Graduate Women in Science and Engineering (HGWISE). Spring 2011 Colloquy. Download PDF.

The Harvard Graduate Women in Science and Engineering (HGWISE) Mentoring Program, launched in 2008, matches PhD students with women faculty across the scientific disciplines. It has seen demand for its services nearly triple in the three years of its existence; this year, 65 PhD students are participating in the program, meeting regularly in group or one-on-one sessions with one of 44 faculty mentors who’ve signed on as mentors.


Q&A with Harvard alumna and filmmaker Valerie Weiss. Spring 2011 Colloquy. Download PDF.

Valerie Weiss first felt the lure of the performing arts as a child; by the time she was at Harvard – perhaps ironically, pursuing a PhD in biophysics – the call was irresistible. As the founder, filmmaker-in-residence, and festival director of the Dudley House Program from 1999 to 2003 (she got her PhD in 2001 but stayed around to develop the program), she juggled two passions that, in many people, might each form a single-minded obsession. Now a full-time filmmaker who has written, directed, and produced her first feature-length film, LOSING CONTROL – an offbeat romantic comedy about a female scientist who wants proof that her boyfriend is “the one” – Weiss is happy to bridge the gap between the arts and the sciences. The film, now in negotiation for a distribution deal, premiered as the closing night screening at the Vail Film Festival this spring.


Cover stories and feature articles published in The Bulletin, the monthly newsletter for the Graduate School of Arts and Sciences.

April 2012 feature article on Margie Li, a Chemical Biology PhD student whose creative and artistic background informs her doctoral research. View article or download issue PDF.

In an era of declining commitment to arts education in this country’s public schools, Margie Li, a second-year PhD student in chemistry and chemistry biology, has just the kind of story that arts advocates might like to hold up as an example.


September 2011 feature article on PhD student Carla Martin, whose blog, bittersweetnotes.com, examines the history and cultural significance of chocolate. View page or download PDF.

“Chocolate is my truest dessert love, and I’ve had a hopeless sweet tooth for as long as I can remember,” Martin says. Martin developed her blog (www.bittersweetnotes.com) not only to celebrate “the beauty and creativity of chocolate making,” but also to explore issues of “racial and socioeconomic injustice, responsible ecological development, (and) honesty in production and marketing.”


May 2011 cover story on the 2011 Harvard-wide Mendelsohn Teaching Awards. View page 1 and 2 of article, or download PDF.

The awards, presented on April 12, celebrate faculty who go out of their way to mentor GSAS students, supporting them professionally and personally in ways large, small, and always meaningful – doing everything from inviting them to collaborate on papers and critiquing their talks to inviting them home for Thanksgiving.


Feb 2011 cover story on the Thinking with Technology Workshop series. View page 1 and 2 of article, or download PDF.

For researchers in the humanities, adapting to new technologies – assessing their potential influence on one’s own research and collaborative relationships – opens exciting areas of possibility, even as it challenges traditional academic practices. Last fall, a student-run graduate workshop in the English Department navigated the fast-changing landscape of the so-called digital humanities, exploring a range of new ideas and forms of scholarly discourse.


Nov 2010 cover story on innovative technology in Harvard classrooms. View page 1 and 2 of article, or download PDF.

They still rely on the time-honored tools of pegagogy, but an increasing number of Harvard teaching fellows are bringing new forms of technology to the classroom, turning students into bloggers or filmmakers to create new kinds of assignments, intensify classroom discussions, and build community.


Final article: PhD alumna Valerie Weiss (Biophysics, 2003) releases her first feature film. In: April 2011 GSAS Bulletin. Download PDF of final article or entire newsletter.

Valerie Weiss had always been as passionate about theater and film as she was about science, earning a dual degree in molecular biology and theater as an undergraduate at Princeton. In the end – even after completing a PhD in biophysics at Harvard in 2001 – it was film that won the day.


GSAS student group “Science in the News” explores, clarifies, and debunks modern scientific news, discoveries, and research. In: March 2011 GSAS Bulletin. Download PDF of final article or entire newsletter.

Allegations about vaccines and autism, robots that mimic bugs, how memories are formed (and lost) – these are just some of the subjects explored by Science in the News, a public service organization founded by PhD students in 2006. SITN produces a monthly e-newsletter and a popular fall seminar series that look beyond the media reports to delve more deeply into modern science, discussing issues of broad importance to our wellbeing and understanding of the world.


Final article: WeBeasties, a science blog run by GSAS students, was picked up by ScienceBlogs, the largest online community devoted to science. In: Dec 2010 GSAS Bulletin. Download PDF of final article or entire newsletter.


Copyediting of The GSAS Bulletin, 2010-2011.

Copyediting, Sept 2010 GSAS Bulletin. Download PDF.


Feature articles in the Harvard Gazette, the bi-weekly magazine of Harvard University, and Colloquy, the quarterly alumni magazine of the Graduate School of Arts and Sciences.

May 24, 2012. Harvard Gazette Commencement Issue. Profile of Harvard student Catherine Musinsky, graduating from the Harvard Extension School.

One of Catherine Musinsky’s greatest challenges may have been how she has overcome illness by transforming a devastating experience into art. In 2006, she was diagnosed with Stage III breast cancer. After her treatment, Musinsky struggled to come to terms with her life and body. A friendship with documentary filmmaker Brynmore Williams prompted her to explore her experience through a documentary film which has now won multiple awards.


May 24, 2012. Harvard Gazette Commencement Issue. Profile of Commencement Director Grace Scheibner.

Imagine spending an entire year coordinating a centuries-old, internationally broadcast event, hosting world-renowned leaders and more than 32,000 people in attendance. Now imagine there’s no dress rehearsal. For 20 years, Commencement Director Grace Scheibner has planning and executing of Harvard University’s annual Commencement exercises.


May 24, 2012. Harvard Gazette Commencement Issue. Profile of Harvard student Laura Ricci, graduating from the Graduate School of Education.

Laura Ricci always suspected she would follow in her family’s artistic footsteps. But Ricci, who is receiving a master’s degree from the Harvard Graduate School of Education, never expected that she would become a professional therapeutic clown.


Dec. 1, 2011. Harvard Gazette Staff Profile: Knitting Toward a Purpose. View page or download PDF.

After working as executive assistant to Harvard College Dean Evelynn M. Hammonds for two years, Marie Dach is now in a similar post with the provost. But it’s her new position as a resident tutor for Harvard’s Pforzheimer House that is having a broader ripple effect, not only for house residents, but also for those in need in the Harvard community.


Nov. 10, 2011. Harvard Gazette Feature Article: The Year Up Program at Harvard University. View page or download PDF.

In Year Up, high school graduates and GED recipients ages 18 to 24 years old are provided with six months of training in professional skills and education, followed by six-month internships at one of Year Up Boston’s 50 corporate partners, including Harvard University. For Muhammed Konneh, a refugee from Sierra Leone, the internship has been a welcome change from the chaos and instability of his childhood.


Oct. 13, 2011. Harvard Gazette Staff Profile: Earning Her Education By Degree. View page or download PDF.

When Barbara Elfman was 18, she had a difficult decision to make. She wanted to pursue her bachelor’s degree, but needed to begin earning an income. “I worked as a nurse for 10 years, got married, and started my family. But I always felt this loss at not having a bachelor’s degree,” Elfman said.

After leaving nursing to raise her children, Elfman returned to her undergraduate studies at Wellesley College in 2001 – when her children were then 8, 11, and 15 – and graduated with a B.A. in art history in 2005. When she joined the Harvard Graduate School of Design (GSD) as administrative director of the Advanced Studies Program in 2006, Elfman was intrigued by the opportunity to pursue her master’s degree at Harvard.


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