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Bio profs to Harvard: Build in Allston or we're outta here

The Crimson reports one biology professor is quitting Harvard - and another one is thinking of doing so - because of the recently announced slowdown in plans for a new science center in Allston.

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Comments

If Harvard's new science and research center doesn't get built in Allston, so be it.

Frankly, I think it's disgusting that new biological research centers, hotels and convention centers
continue to be built not just here in Boston, but throughout the country generally, while our infrastructure is crumbling and badly in need of rebuilding.

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That Harvard should build roads instead of research centers?

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Well, Harvard does own a stretch of the Mass Pike running through Allston.

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Seriously, Adam... must you always take what I have to say out of context? You're totally missing my point, Adam. Harvard, like all the other universities in the area, should stop expanding deep into neighborhoods nearby, whether it be for college dorms/apartments, or for research buildings.

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AND they should make good on their plans instead of pulling the plug on the construction project alltogether. Contractors and suppliers ready and waiting to work have to continue to wait, plus the fact that now there's a big hole in the ground after they bulldozed buildings and stores.
Please, it's not like Harvard is on the verge of bankruptcy.

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Contractors and suppliers ready and waiting to work have to continue to wait

They're not contractually restricted to only supplying or working for Harvard. Besides, none of those contractors or suppliers work on only one project at time...which means other construction is going at a faster pace.

plus the fact that now there's a big hole in the ground after they bulldozed buildings and stores.

...which if anything, helps landlords who are affected by high commercial property vacancy rates, believe it or not. Irregardless, it would be years before that property is back on the market- so at the moment, nothing is lost.

Please, it's not like Harvard is on the verge of bankruptcy.

http://www.universalhub.com/node/23439#comment-74229

In short: waiting now means Harvard can afford to support the complex LATER, because it is dependent on the profit generated by the endowment, not the endowment itself.

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you MUST be a harvard grad, because you really went out of your way to rip THIS simpleton a new one in such an intellectual way. thank's brett, thank you for helping me see the light.

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Brett can be an asshole.

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Fighting fire with fire, are we?

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Necessary? Probably not. But true as in above.

You're ok with Brett calling SouthBostonGuy a simpleton but not with me calling Brett an asshole for doing it? Regardless, I take your point. Next time, I'll spend more time to make my case and an effort to be more civil.

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I don't have a problem with it. Thanks for the backup anon

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I have a feeling Brett works for Harvard some how, because evertime someone dares to question their choices in Allston Brett starts the personal insults...

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...is that with the slowdown in Allston they'll be placing the new research labs in already existing, vacant buildings at Harvard's main campus. In other words the research could start happening sooner than if they had to wait for a fancy new building to be constructed. And with the slowdown Harvard FAS will have the money to retain and hire staff to actually work in these labs. Silly, selfish professors.

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It sounds like theres a bit of an issue of lab space and technology. Sure you can do research in any old building, but if its not designed for that then its not quite as good. I honestly think they should have focused on empty space they already had in the first place, but also understand that when your dealing with the tops of their fields you run head first into these massive super egos. Its worsened by the fact that everyone and their uncle would love to steal a professor from Harvard, especially one on top of their field. Look at how the African American studies department delfated a bit a few years ago over professors wanting more then what they had (im not judging on wheter they are right or wrong, Im just stating that they wanted more and the university said no.) It must be very hard to be the ones who have to deal with the egos at all levels that comes with having Harvard in your name.

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I can't speak for FAS, but I'm generally pleasantly surprised by the faculty I deal with at the medical school. The really nice people vastly outnumber the hyperinflated egos. (In my non-Harvard experience, having "M.D." after your name is the most efficient ego inflator there is.)

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Harvard isn't able to locate things in a sprawling and abandoned warehouse district like MIT has been able to. When I was at HSPH 5 to 10 years ago, we had lab equipment on racks over other lab equipment and had to use ladders to get into the upper freezers, etc. before a space in the former blood bank opened up on Huntington Ave. Even then, a rumor went around the neighborhood that we were using anthrax and smallpox, because my boss had advised the government and given interviews about how to limit risks of such things.

We were lucky to get that space, too - there was pretty much a knockdown drag out faculty cage match to decide who had the turf. My boss joined forces with another guy who also had a lot of R01 CDC funding, needed some future space, traded some office space, and combined grant forces to secure it. 1/2 mile from the main campus, we were at the mercy of a phone company that didn't care that we needed reliable service and an electric company that couldn't fathom why we would want notice of power interruptions during the work week and when we had -80C freezers that needed to be reset. It was very challenging to keep from losing a lot of work and irreplaceable specimens when dealing with marginal infrastructure and utilities that didn't get the most basic of requirements.

Laboratories cannot locate just anywhere, and there are good reasons for that. They can't just set up shop in any empty storefront or ancient building. They need ventilation, climate control, and utilities that are appropriate. Space is EXTREMELY tight in HMS, HSPH and the biolabs on the Cambridge campus. To say there are lab space issues is the understatement of the year.

p.s. To say "they should have focussed on existing empty space" is highly amusing ... THERE ISN'T ANY! Hasn't been for years.

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The massive Northwest Science Building is almost completely vacant and is brand new. Four floors above ground and four floors below and tucked in cozy Cambridge. Looks like a good place for stem cell research.

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Harvard is competing with schools in other parts of the country, where campuses were built on old farmland, and they can put up new buildings any time they want. Space is a big selling point. Do you want a tiny office that looks like a prison cell, with a window looking out on a brick wall, or a spacious office that overlooks a beautifully landscaped garden? A large, well-lit lab, or a cramped, dark dungeon of a room in the basement? Companies lease space in skyscrapers for a reason. they could do the same work underground, but they'd rather live the good life when they work long hours.

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Biology is what you do when you don't have the math for real science.

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Like physics is real science anymore ... oh, but look! I made a new squiggle today! Everybody worship my socially dysfunctional self!

Couldn't hack the math it takes for biology, eh nuke boy? Try a factor analysis necessary to sort out the joint and separate effects of several combinations of genetic polymorphisms involved in inflammatory response. Oh, but that has to do with the real world - can't deal with that! It isn't theory! It isn't "real" science if it is applied! It isn't pure!

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XKCD beat you to it and did it better:

IMAGE(http://imgs.xkcd.com/comics/purity.png)

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"All theoretical chemistry is really physics;
and all theoretical chemists know it." -- Richard P. Feynman

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