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“I would drink this salsa, if I had a straw," A Zoom HSURV Kick-Off to Remember

Updated: Jul 15, 2020

By: Felicia Ho, PRISE, Harvard College '23

Event Date: June 15, 2020

“Your generation is the generation of light going forward, and I believe in you so thoroughly. I’m excited to see what you are bringing to the table,” says PRISE director Greg Llacer as he opened the (virtual) 2020 HSURV kick-off with several comments on the current state of the world.

While HSURV has evolved and changed greatly over the years, in the current situation of a global pandemic it has shifted entirely online with all members of the community conducting remote research from all over the world. Even in these “surreal” times, Greg notes, he has great hopes that not only will fellows continue to find great discoveries in their research this summer, but also support important movements and instigate change - sustaining anti-racism efforts and continuing to stand with and support the Black Lives Movement, for example.

After brief remarks, Greg turned the “microphone” over to the other directors in HSURV to say hello: Jennifer Shephard, for BLISS; Maryna Zhauniarovich, for PRIMO; Thomas Spencer, for SHARP; and Emily Maguire, for SURGH. All welcomed the open participation of HSURV fellows - regardless of their program - to many of their respective events.

De facto faculty deans Howard and Ann Georgi then introduced themselves; former faculty deans of Leverett House, they are longtime supporters and advocates for undergraduate research and are excited to be embarking on this new adventure of virtual HSURV. Ann, a football fanatic, shared a wonderful story about how she got her nickname, “Coach,” and Howard his, “Chief,” and welcomed fellows, as she had welcomed Levrett students for many years, to call them by these names.

“There is the cultural stereotype of the solitary nerd, but the actual situation is much more appealing. Outstanding people are spread throughout the world, but they have a common fascination of solving important problems… PRISE,” and HSURV at large, “is remarkable and unique in offering aspiring young scientists a preview of this,” notes "Chief" in his remarks drawn from his address to the first PRISE cohort in 2005.

Chris Kabacinski, the HSURV administrative coordinator, then introduced himself (contact him for any questions about the stipend, Slack, gcal issues etc.!) and the rest of the supportive team of proctors and program assistants.

As Greg notes, there will be “no shortage of ways to communicate with each other this summer.” Bella Beckett, the lead program assistant, and Gabby Escalante (ask her about flamenco dancing!), the lead proctor, and the rest of the undergraduate staff of HSURV are deeply committed in developing a healthy and caring community remotely through exciting events they have planned throughout the course of the program.

There will also be many distinguished speakers featured in a PRISE lecture series open to all, from Rob Lue to Pardis Sabeti to Roxanne Beltran (who will be speaking about her research on elephant seal pups!) and more, along with a PRISE research writing workshop series starting June 25th to help teach you the tips and tricks of scientific writing.

As we begin an unprecedented summer of remote HSURV, what better way to kick it off than with lots of ‘HSURV love,’ 146 participants (on the Zoom call) strong? We can’t wait for the enormous party we will have when we meet each other in person back on campus at some point - let's hope Greg will bring some of that Mateo’s salsa he’s been raving about (and quote, from Greg, “I would drink this salsa, if I had a straw”) to share with us all… maybe he’ll even have sealed a sponsorship deal by then!

Follow us on instagram (@hsurv_2020) for memes and more exciting content…

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