In one of its best-attended years to date, the Harker Research Symposium attracted about 800 visitors from across the Harker community to recognize the school’s dedication to the sciences and encourage sustainable lifestyles and policies.
Sustainability was the main theme of this year’s event, which fittingly began with upper school vocal groups Cantilena and Camerata performing J. David Moore’s “We Belong to the Earth” under the direction of music teacher Susan Nace. The first keynote speaker was Max Holmes, deputy director and senior climate scientist at the Woods Hole Research Center, whose talk detailed how the behavior of rivers around the world can offer insight into global climate change.
Sustainability themes also were prevalent at the exhibitors area at the Nichols Hall atrium, which remained a popular attraction throughout the day. A student-run booth detailing the ways in which people can make their lives more environment-friendly greeted visitors as they walked through the front doors of Nichols Hall, alongside booths showcasing marine life, new technologies and the crucial role bees play in our daily lives (as well as the dangers presented by their decreasing populations).
At the Nichols Hall auditorium, a panel of Harker graduates shared their career retrospectives, including how their time at Harker influenced their trajectories and crucial lessons learned through their experiences. “Your career path is going to be windy and you’re going to be meeting a ton of…different people along the way,” said Shephalie Lahri ’05, associate director of marketing and reimbursement at the genetic testing company Natera. “Carve your own path and make sure you have the right advocates and champions,” she advised. The Nichols Hall rotunda was also busy, as upper school students at the Stem Buddies stations showed young science lovers how to purify water, create a DNA helix and find microplastics in ocean water.
The auxiliary gym once again hosted middle and upper school poster presentations, as students explained and answered questions on their research on a variety of topics, including zoology, physics and social science.
Surbhi Sarna ’03 returned to the Harker Research Symposium as this year’s alumna keynote speaker, giving a talk on her journey from being a patient at the age of 13 to becoming a medical technology entrepreneur and developing a device for early detection of ovarian cancer. Her company, nVision Medical, was purchased by Boston Scientific for $275 million last April.
This year’s afternoon keynote was given by David Haussler, an investigator at the Howard Hughes Medical institute and distinguished professor of biomolecular engineering at the University of California, Santa Cruz. Haussler took the afternoon audience on an “Odyssey in to the Human Genome,” examining the field of genomics and how the human genome has evolved.