Into the deep

March 1, 2021 0 Comments

first_imgOn the third floor of Cambridge Rindge and Latin School (CRLS), a student leaned forward and asked: Will the future of deep-sea technology be human or robotic?More than 1,000 miles away, in the Gulf of Mexico, Bruce Strickrott stood next to the Alvin, the deep-sea research submersible, and answered simply: both.Comparing human and robotic exploration was unfair, said Strickrott, the chief Alvin pilot with the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution, because both have great value. But, he added, “Every time I’ve taken someone down in the submarine who’s only worked with [marine robotics], they always say, ‘I never knew it looked like that.’”Rindge and Latin students in Cambridge were communicating with Harvard researchers and scientists who were in the Gulf conducting a “verification cruise” — the first of its kind — on the Alvin sub, which had undergone a comprehensive upgrade over the last three years to expand its capabilities.Commissioned in 1964 as one of the world’s first deep-ocean submersibles, the vehicle had been out of service since December 2010. Having already completed more than 4,600 dives, Alvin’s upgrade now allows the sub to safely operate to more than 14,000 feet below the surface, 2,300 feet deeper than it could previously. Able to carry two scientists and a pilot on dives lasting up to 10 hours, the Alvin has located lost hydrogen bombs, explored hydrothermal vents, and surveyed the wreck of the RMS Titanic.With its new upgrade, the sub now has “all the bells and whistles,” said Peter Girguis, a professor in Harvard’s Department of Organismic and Evolutionary Biology.  Girguis proposed the verification cruise, which was funded by the National Science Foundation. Joining forces with Paul McGuinness, the marine biology teacher at Rindge and Latin, Girguis gathered Alvin researchers, scientists, and crewmen to talk with the students about their work and discoveries, even sharing new images and videos not yet released to the public.Speaking in an interview a week prior to the Gulf expedition, Girguis stressed that “we need to begin doing a better job of engaging students” in marine science. “By the time students go to college, many see some career paths as impractical. We want to show [them] that marine science has many viable career options, not just being a professor. We need ocean engineers, captains who can pilot the ships, researchers who work in fisheries. We want to give students an unprecedented opportunity to engage with the people who are doing those jobs.”“The opportunity for all kinds of students to talk face-to-face to the people on a vessel like that, answering questions in the moment, is really valuable,” said Caspian Harding, a Rindge and Latin senior and an intern with the Girguis lab through the CRLS Marine Science Internship program at Harvard. “It shows you can be a pilot, an engineer, a videographer. All these options are open. It shows you really can pursue what you love.”The verification cruise included six to eight dives over several days. The trip tested the sub’s new upgrades and allowed researchers to complete “incidental science,” exploring the Gulf’s diverse ecosystems and further examining effects from the Deepwater Horizon oil spill in 2010.Responding to a student asking about “the next big questions” for marine science, Harvard graduate student and Girguis lab member Heather Olins said the possibilities were endless. “It’s a hard question to answer,” she said. “We know so little about the floor of the deep sea that all the questions are big questions.”At the end of the day, “out here at sea, a lot of people pitch in to help,” Girguis said. “The fact is, it really takes a team of people working together to get things done.”This collaboration is one of many between Harvard and the Rindge and Latin.  To learn more about the University’s partnerships with local schools, visit Harvard Community Connections on the Web.last_img read more

Large asset managers fail think tank’s climate engagement test

September 29, 2020 0 Comments

first_imgThe think tank said its study was the first study to analyse the nature of asset managers’ engagement with companies with regard to climate change, “highlighting the fact that the global leaders’ shareholdings and relationships give them huge leverage to drive corporate action to support the Paris Agreement”.O’Neill said previous research had either looked at asset managers’ portfolios or their voting behaviour.“I’ve never seen anyone take an eclectic look at the sum of the engagement activities of the asset managers,” he told IPE.2020 Stewardship Code as benchmarkThe organisation used the UK’s new Stewardship Code – which takes effect from January next year – to benchmark the quality of asset managers’ engagement.The engagement score that InfluenceMap assigned to asset managers has many components. The think tank defines engagement as referring to all investor actions undertaken to influence the management strategy of investee companies, including: questions at AGMs and other company meetings, comments in the media or public fora, and filing of shareholder resolutions and voting.A spokeswoman for BlackRock said the firm “put a priority on engaging with a company on addressing climate-related issues” and engaged with 370 companies globally on the topic of climate risk in the past two years. She also noted that BlackRock had the largest stewardship team in the world.O’Neill said leadership was shown by organisations such as Legal & General because they had “sophisticated frameworks and enforcement mechanisms to transition the behaviour of companies towards Paris alignment”.“BlackRock appears to engage with a large number of companies, pushing them on disclosure and climate risk management,” he said. “This is reflected in our online scoring of BlackRock, which was shared with them.”The BlackRock spokeswoman also pointed to the firm’s activities away from company engagement, saying it offered product choices to investors that wanted to avoid specific sectors, and invested heavily in research demonstrating the relationship between sustainability issues, risk and long-term value creation.Asset owners nextInfluenceMap said the methodology applied by its ‘FinanceMap’ team was developed in consultation with leading global asset managers, with O’Neill naming Hermes Investment Management, LGIM and Sarasin as having provided input.He also said the think tank “iterated” its approach with the wider market, having approached all of the asset managers it ended up identifying in its report and obtaining “a high level of feedback”. “We would have adapted the methodology if we thought we got something wrong,” said O’Neill.O’Neill also told IPE that InfluenceMap had input from individuals at asset owners such as the Church of England Pensions Board (CEPB) and Sweden’s AP7.AP7 brought the perspective of a universal owner, which was at the heart of InfluenceMap’s work, said O’Neill.In its report, the think tank said it recognised asset owners’ important and growing role in shaping portfolios and driving the corporate engagement process and would probably expand its finance project to cover asset owners.The Principles for Responsible Investment recently said institutional investors were not making the most of the powerful tool of stewardship, and has launched a programme to promote more positive investor action.InfluenceMap’s report can be found here. Large asset managers are “collectively failing” to do enough to drive corporate action in support of international climate goals, according to a think tank.According to UK-based InfluenceMap, of the world’s 15 largest asset managers only Allianz, Legal & General Investment Management (LGIM) and UBS Asset Management “strongly and consistently” engage with investee companies about aligning their business models to meet the Paris Agreement goals.Some other European managers, like AXA, were not far behind in performance on climate engagement, the think tank wrote, while US firms such as BlackRock and Vanguard “call on companies to consider climate risks but do not drive behaviour change around climate models or policy lobbying”.Thomas O’Neill, research director of InfluenceMap, said: “If global asset managers wish to support the Paris Agreement and remain invested in the automotive, power and fossil fuel industries then they must engage robustly with companies in these sectors to accelerate their switch to low carbon technologies and ensure their policy lobbying supports climate targets.”last_img read more

Magic Johnson joins Los Angeles 2024 Olympic bid team

August 26, 2020 0 Comments

first_imgThe panel says they add expertise in sports, business and labor relations to LA’s Olympic bid.The International Olympic Committee will select the 2024 host in 2017.Los Angeles is competing against proposals from Paris, Rome, Hamburg, Germany, and Budapest, Hungary. Hall of Famer and former Olympian Magic Johnson has been named vice chair of the group trying to lure the 2024 Olympic Games to Los Angeles.Johnson, who won five NBA titles with the Lakers, says in a statement that Los Angeles is “the best sports town in America.”The Los Angeles 2024 committee also said Wednesday that prominent labor leader Maria Elena Durazo would join Johnson as a vice chair of the board. Four-time Olympic gold medalist Janet Evans was named a vice chair in September. Newsroom GuidelinesNews TipsContact UsReport an Errorlast_img read more