“All of a sudden there’s a song – there in your hotel room playing your guitar – and you write it, and two or three years later it will come true. It keeps you on your toes.”These words, spoken by Townes Van Zandt, support a popular notion of the songwriter in American popular culture: A rambling man, on the road with a band, playing venues both squalid and splendid, creating songs from thin air with little more than a beat up guitar, bottle of booze and hotel notepad.And there’s no doubt that countless great tunes have been written in such a manner. But there’s another question worth asking: In 2017, are most songs written that way?To find out, we spoke with six songwriters who will be at the ninth annual Rooster Walk Music & Arts Festival over Memorial Day weekend (May 25-28) in Martinsville, Va. These six artists: Paul Hoffman (Greensky Bluegrass), Anders Osborne, Andrew Marlin (Mandolin Orange), Lyle Divinksy (The Motet), Marcus King, and Wood Robinson (Mipso) bring different backgrounds, hometowns, experience levels and genres to the craft of songwriting.Perhaps unsurprisingly, they write songs in different manners.Read on to catch a glimpse into the daily songwriting process of Anders Osborne. Then, catch his nighttime set at Rooster Walk 9 in Martinsville, VA.Editor’s Note: This is the fourth story in a six-part “Road to Rooster Walk” series about the craft and process of songwriting. Previous installments featured The Motet, Greensky Bluegrass, and Marcus King.Called “the poet laureate of Louisiana’s fertile roots music scene” by Guitar Player magazine, Anders Osborne has released 15 albums since arriving in New Orleans in the mid-80s. His songs have been recorded by artists ranging from Keb’ Mo to Tim McGraw.Despite touring roughly nine months a year, Osborne is an ardent proponent of daily writing as habit.“You’ve got to be grabbing at the stuff every single day, or I do. I have to grab at it every day, because I think the way I look at it is that inspiration and the muse is always dancing. And ideas are always out there. And if you miss it on a Thursday in February, I don’t think it shows up again, you know, in August. I think you missed the opportunity to write that song,” he said.Due to his heavy tour schedule, Osborne often writes from the back lounge of his tour bus, and he typically begins with a guitar in hand – rather than a pen or keyboard.“I try to find something (on the guitar) that gets me inspired or that emphasizes the mood I’m in emotionally. And then if I find something that works – maybe a couple lines come out, or an idea of the lyrics – usually I work off that. And then another thing I do is I try to have several songs going at the same time, so I keep ‘em fresh. Sometimes I’ll have different sheets of paper in a circle around the room where I usually write. And then I kind of rotate, going from one to the other, keeping it fresh, and that way I don’t get stuck too much.”Though he knows what it’s like to catch lightning in a bottle and write fully-realized songs in one sitting – he wrote hit song, “Marmalade,” from the 2013 album “Three Free Amigos,” in roughly 2 minutes’ time – the songwriting process often takes several days or weeks. He likes to use the voice recording app on his smartphone to record a song idea when it hits him. Then, he develops, tweaks and refines it over the coming hours or days until it’s nearly finished. Only then will he record it a second time.“About 4 or 5 years ago I started to put down the initial musical idea. So let’s say there’s a progression or a melody that comes out, I put that on the phone, like on the little demo voice recorder, and what I try to do is to not keep recording it as I write it,” he explained. “That way I can always go back to what it was I liked the very, very first time I had the idea. And what that helps me with, and this is something I’ve been doing pretty consistently, it helps me not forget or change the original inspiration, if that makes any sense.”Osborne tries to complete at least one new song per week. And while “Marmalade” may be the quickest one he’s written, “Can You Still Hear Me?” from the 2016 album “Space Dust and Ocean Views,” might be the longest.“That (song) started probably a few months after my mother died. I started to write some stuff and then I couldn’t finish that. And that was 2001, and then I finished it in 2015, so that took 14 years,” he said. “… I forgot about it, and then my old saxophone player (Tim Green) died, and then it all sort of made sense and it came back.”Songwriters who influence Anders: Townes Van Zandt. Stephen Stills, Neal Young, Cat Stevens, Black Sabbath (“I don’t know who wrote those but there’s a lot of sort of riffy, rock stuff that I get from that.”). The melodic compositions of Cannonball Adderley, John Coletrane and Miles Davis.Song: MarmaladeNext Week on the Road to Rooster Walk: Mandolin Orange[Photo by J. Mimna Photography]
Chris Robinson Brotherhood have announced 30+ headlining dates scheduled for this October and November. Currently in the middle of an extensive summer tour, the newly announced tour will take them across “Freak America” with two sets and three hours of music a night.Chris Robinson Brotherhood’s fall tour will kick off at Higher Ground in Burlington, followed by a handful of dates in the Northeast. Next, they’ll blanket the Midwest, making stops along the way at Majestic Theatre in Madison, First Avenue in Minneapolis and Delmar Music Hall in St. Louis. From there the tour heads to the Southeast, highlighted by shows at Variety Playhouse in Robinson’s former hometown of Atlanta, The Orange Peel in Asheville and two nights at Lincoln Theatre in Raleigh. They conclude the run back in the Northeast, including appearances at the 9:30 Club in Washington, DC, two nights at Ardmore Music Hall just outside of Philadelphia, and their first-ever performance at the new(ish) Brooklyn Steel in Brooklyn, NY.Additionally, new music from the Chris Robinson Brotherhood is on the way. Barefoot In The Head, the band’s sixth full-length record, was recently completed at Brotherhood Arts Laboratory in Unicorn, CA and is set for a 2019 release. Plans are also being finalized for the 4th edition of the CRB live recording series ‘Betty’s Blends’ captured and produced by legendary recording engineer and Grateful Dead-archivist Betty Cantor-Jackson. Read Live For Live Music’s interview with Cantor-Jackson and Robinson about how CRB helped Betty rediscover her love for recording live music here.Check out the new dates below, followed by the full tour schedule for Chris Robinson Brotherhood 2018. For more information, or to grab tickets, head over to the band’s website.Chris Robinson Brotherhood New October-September DatesOctober 3 – South Burlington, VT – Higher Ground BallroomOctober 5 – Holyoke, MA – Gateway City ArtsOctober 7 – Homer, NY – Center for the Arts of HomerOctober 9 – Fort Wayne, IN – The Clyde TheatreOctober 11 – Grand Rapids, MI – The IntersectionOctober 12 – Madison, WI – Majestic TheatreOctober 13 – Minneapolis, MN – First AvenueOctober 14 – Peoria, IL – Monarch Music HallOctober 16 – St. Louis, MO – Delmar HallOctober 18 – Chattanooga, TN – Walker TheatreOctober 19 – Nashville, TN – 3rd & LindsleyOctober 20 – Atlanta, GA – Variety PlayhouseOctober 21 – Charleston, SC – Charleston Music HallOctober 23 – Asheville, NC – The Orange PeelOctober 25 – Raleigh, NC – Lincoln TheatreOctober 26 – Raleigh, NC – Lincoln TheatreOctober 27 – Norfolk, VA – The NorVaOctober 28 – Charlotte, NC – Neighborhood TheatreOctober 30 – Columbus, OH – Newport Music HallOctober 31 – Millvale, PA – Mr. Smalls TheatreSeptember 1 – Tuolumne, CA – Strawberry Music FestivalSeptember 6 – Pensacola, FL – Vinyl Music HallSeptember 7 – New Orleans, LA – Joy TheaterSeptember 8 – Birmingham, AL – Avondale Brewing CompanySeptember 9 – Oxford, MS – The LyricSeptember 13 – Jackson, MS – Duling HallSeptember 14 – Houston, TX – White Oak Music HallSeptember 15 – Austin, TX – Scoot InnSeptember 16 – Dallas, TX – Canton HallSeptember 18 – Tempe, AZ – The Marquee TheatreSeptember 20 – Anaheim, CA – House of BluesNovember 2 – Ardmore, PA – The Ardmore Music HallNovember 3 – Ardmore, PA – The Ardmore Music HallNovember 4 – Brooklyn, NY – Brooklyn SteelNovember 6 – Portland, ME – Port City Music HallNovember 8 – Charlottesville, VA – Jefferson TheatreNovember 9 – Washington, DC – 9:30 ClubNovember 10 – Boston, MA – Paradise Rock ClubNovember 11 – Clifton Park, NY – Upstate Concert HallNovember 13 – Lancaster, PA – Chameleon ClubNovember 15 – Hartford, CT – Infinity Hall HartfordNovember 16 – Norfolk, CT – Infinity HallNovember 17 – Buffalo, NY – Town BallroomNovember 18 – Detroit, MI – St. Andrew’s HallView New Tour DatesComplete Chris Robinson Brotherhood Tour DatesJuly 24 – Providence, RI – Fete Music HallJuly 26 – Asbury Park, NJ – The Stone PonyJuly 27 – Patchogue, NY – Stereo Garden LIJuly 28 – Beverly, MA – The CabotJuly 29 – Plymouth, NH – Flying Monkey Movie House & Performance CenterJuly 31 – Baltimore, MD – Rams Head LiveAugust 2 – Richmond, VA – The NationalAugust 3 – Wilmington, NC – Greenfield Lake AmphitheaterAugust 4 – Maryville, TN – The Shed Smokehouse & Juke JointAugust 5 – Cincinnati, OH – 20th Century TheatreAugust 7 – Indianapolis, IN – Deluxe at Old National CentreAugust 9 – Milwaukee, WI – Turner HallAugust 10 – Kalamazoo, MI – Bell’s Beer GardenAugust 11 – Kitchener, ON – Kitchener Blues FestivalAugust 18 – Big Sky, MT – Moonlight MusicFestSeptember 21-22 – Big Sur, CA – Freaks For The FestivalOctober 3 – South Burlington, VT – Higher Ground BallroomOctober 5 – Holyoke, MA – Gateway City ArtsOctober 6 – Burlingham, NY – Catskills Wine & Food FestivalOctober 7 – Homer, NY – Center for the Arts of HomerOctober 9 – Fort Wayne, IN – The Clyde TheatreOctober 11 – Grand Rapids, MI – The IntersectionOctober 12 – Madison, WI – Majestic TheatreOctober 13 – Minneapolis, MN – First AvenueOctober 14 – Peoria, IL – Monarch Music HallOctober 16 – St. Louis, MO – Delmar HallOctober 18 – Chattanooga, TN – Walker TheatreOctober 19 – Nashville, TN – 3rd & LindsleyOctober 20 – Atlanta, GA – Variety PlayhouseOctober 21 – Charleston, SC – Charleston Music HallOctober 23 – Asheville, NC – The Orange PeelOctober 25 – Raleigh, NC – Lincoln TheatreOctober 26 – Raleigh, NC – Lincoln TheatreOctober 27 – Norfolk, VA – The NorVaOctober 28 – Charlotte, NC – Neighborhood TheatreOctober 30 – Columbus, OH – Newport Music HallOctober 31 – Millvale, PA – Mr. Small’s TheatreNovember 2 – Ardmore, PA – The Ardmore Music HallNovember 3 – Ardmore, PA – The Ardmore Music HallNovember 4 – Brooklyn, NY – Brooklyn SteelNovember 6 – Portland, ME – Port City Music HallNovember 8 – Charlottesville, VA – Jefferson TheatreNovember 9 – Washington, DC – 9:30 ClubNovember 10 – Boston, MA – Paradise Rock ClubNovember 11 – Clifton Park, NY – Upstate Concert HallNovember 13 – Lancaster, PA – Chameleon ClubNovember 15 – Hartford, CT – Infinity Hall HartfordNovember 16 – Norfolk, CT – Infinity HallNovember 17 – Buffalo, NY – Town BallroomNovember 18 – Detroit, MI – St. Andrew’s HallView All Tour Dates
[Video: Rolling Stone] As part of Rolling Stone‘s “Song Breakdown” series, the media outlet has released a brand-new video featuring comedian and The Late Show host Stephen Colbert. In this new video, Colbert analyzes Chance The Rapper‘s “Favorite Song” featuring Childish Gambino, which was released back in 2013 on Chance’s sophomore mixtape, Acid Rap, which was given away for free and helped catapult him into stardom. In the video, Colbert breaks down a verse of the song, analyzing the rhythm pattern of one of the verses and drawing on unexpected references to the Victorian-era playwright duo, Gilbert and Sullivan as well as the iconic fantasy series, Lord Of The Rings.After singing some of the lyrics from memory (starting off with “Bang bang bang, skeet skeet skeet/She do that thing for three re-tweets”), Colbert first notes that “that rhythm right there, that was just like a worm in my brain. I couldn’t stop listening to that song, and it’s something about the rhythm of that second verse, which repeats again two verses later.” He continues, “I didn’t know what it was until I was like, ‘Oh wait, that’s Gilbert and Sullivan’s rhythm,’” moving on to show how both mirror one another.Talking about the relative rarity of the rhyme scheme used “because it’s got a lot of internal rhymes within the line,” Colbert adds “The only other place I know besides ‘My Favorite Song’ and Gilbert and Sullivan, habitually, is—and this is because I link everything back to J.R.R. Tolkein—it’s actually from the ‘Song of Eärendil’.” With Colbert diving on his apparently encyclopedic knowledge of Lord Of The Rings, the famed comedian offers context on the little-known poem that influences Tolkein’s Middle Earth universe.You can watch Stephen Colbert’s song breakdown of Chance The Rapper’s “Favorite Song” featuring Childish Gambino for Rolling Stone below.
BUKU Music + Art Project is an annual New Orleans celebration that hosts a number of big-name musical acts each year. In 2019, the festival will return to N’awlins on March 22nd and 23rd, taking over Mardi Gras World in downtown New Orleans. Described as an “urban music and art festival meets epic warehouse party celebrating the progressive subculture of New Orleans,” BUKU has released one of their biggest lineups yet.On Friday, March 22nd, the 2019 BUKU Music + Arts Festival will be headlined by Lana Del Rey, Excision, Kevin Gats, and RL Grime. On Saturday, March 23rd, A$AP Rocky, Dog Blood, GRiZ, and Louis The Child will lead the charge.While the daily lineups haven’t been fully announced, BUKU Music + Arts Festival has also confirmed Ella Mai, NGHTMRE B2B Slander, $UICIDEBOY$, Playboi Carti, Dashboard Confessional, Gunna, Claude Constroke, Fisher, and many more to perform over the late-March weekend.You can check out the full lineup thus far below, and snag tickets on BUKU’s website here.
Official band photographer Rene Heumer took this unique opportunity to attach a GoPro to Mike Gordon’s bass headstock. Gordon has shared some photos from the mini camera, as well as a video of the team suiting up before going on stage. But now, you can see the video from Mike’s bass (with isolated strings) while flying through the MSG sky. What a fun perspective! Phish rounded out their 2018 with a stellar four-night New Year’s run at Madison Square Garden. On Monday, December 31st, the band orchestrated yet another memorable New Year’s Eve performance to cap off 2018 and mark their 60th show at the fan-favorite venue. MSG, often referred to be fans as a “spaceship” when Phish plays in it, was transformed into “space” minutes before the clock struck midnight.Related: 3 Heartwarming Soundcheck Stories From Phish’s NYE Run That Will Make You Love Them Even MoreThe set opened with a theme-appropriate “Mercury”, complete with ten acrobat performers who were all lifted up into the air while wrapped in elongated silver streamers, and surrounded by gravity-defying smoke machines. The group of suspended aerial performers, in “unbreakable nets,” danced and swayed while Trey Anastasio drew inspiration from their incredible talent. The arena was greeted by a NASA-sounding announcer that counted down from “T-minus 30 seconds,” prior to wishing everyone a “Happy New Year.”For the 12th time at Madison Square Garden, Phish flipped to a new calendar year with the traditional “Auld Lang Syne”, as a deluge of silver balloons and enormous shiny streamers—like the ones attached to the acrobats—fell from the ceiling. The four-piece then charged forward with Kasvot Växt favorite “Say It To Me S.A.N.T.O.S.”, with Anastasio and Mike Gordon rocking their white instruments that were first unveiled along with the Kasvot songs at Phish’s MGM Grand Arena Halloween run. With headset wireless microphones on their heads, Anastasio and Gordon were shot up into the air suspended by cables, literally dangling in midair. As if the silver-soaked chaos off stage wasn’t enough, dozens of dancers with various pool floats jumped on stage to join in on the shenanigans. This was rock and roll at an entirely new level, and the four members of the world’s most theatrical rock band will always remember where they were on December 31st, 2018. Watch it all go down in pro-shot video below:Phish – “Mercury” > “Say It To Me S.A.N.T.O.S”[Video: Phish]Setlist: Phish | Madison Square Garden | New York, NY | 12/31/2018Set One: The Moma Dance, Stray Dog, 555, Sand, Lawn Boy, Steam > Chalk Dust Torture > What’s the Use? > Play by Play, Waste, Ass Handed, Run Like an AntelopeSet Two: Down with Disease > Farmhouse > Seven Below > Twist > Harry Hood > Passing Through, Harry HoodSet Three: Mercury > Auld Lang Syne, Say it to Me S.A.N.T.O.S., Simple, Saw It Again > Limb By Limb > Rock and Roll > Suzy GreenbergEncore: The Lizards, Character Zero
Today, Moon River Music Festival and host band Drew Holcomb & The Neighbors have announced the lineup for their 2019 event, set to take place in Chattanooga, TN on September 7th and 8th.Leading the charge at Moon River will be headliners Jason Isbell and the 400 Unit and Brandi Carlile. In addition, the event will include performances from Goodbye Road (featuring Drew Holcomb & The Neighbors, Johnnyswim, and Penny & Sparrow), St. Paul & The Broken Bones, Moon Taxi, Drew & Ellie Holcomb, The Wood Brothers, Johnnyswim, Josh Ritter, The Oh Hellos, The Lone Bellow, Joy Williams, Rayland Baxter, The Band Camino, Sister Sparrow & The Dirty Birds, The Suffers, and more.Previous buyer pre-sale tickets for Moon River Music Festival 2019 will go on sale tomorrow, Tuesday, February 12th, at 10 a.m. EST, or while supplies last. General on-sale will begin on Wednesday, February 13th at 10 a.m. EST. For more information, head to the festival website here.
The first-ever Phish Studies Conference will take place May 17–19 at Oregon State University. For much of the Phish community, scholarship is a foreign idea. The enigmatic world of academic conferences and peer-reviewed journals is something that only those in academia are privy to. But for those academics participating in the conference, the chance to blend their livelihoods with their passions is nothing short of a dream come true. For the rest of the Phish community, this is their chance to witness something monumental: the birth of a new academic discipline to validate the deep level of thinking in which this community regularly engages.It was only a matter of time before this happened. The Phish community grew out of east coast college students in the 80s and 90s who eventually had to pursue greater goals beyond Phish tour when the band began their series of hiatuses. This is an intelligent group of people who, for the most part, participate in complex and intellectually inspiring conversations about the band all the time. Fans use their college-born skills to dissect every nuance of the band and this community because, well, because Phish is our life, and who doesn’t want to delve into a conversation about the meaning of life?In fact, there is even a whole discipline dedicated to Fandom Studies. These scholars explain how fandom enhances our lives by allowing us to participate in meaningful discourse, similar to academic communities—which, essentially, are the only places that adults are able to consistently engage in the philosophical engagement that many crave. The fans participating in the conference, a group of the most non-traditional scholars you will ever meet, are men and women who have used the band and the community as case studies for their disciplines of choice in order to gain status as PhDs.This is no easy feat. Academics are stuffy by nature and have very particular views about what constitutes an acceptable area of study. Most do not see modern day jam bands as a good example of groundbreaking research. But why not? We all agree that Phish stands out as a leader in the jam band community, with the unique way they have brought together a neat little community of people who have dedicated a large chunk of their existence to participation in the rituals that are required to be a fan. Ask a fan his or her opinion on a show, a set, an individual jam, and you are likely to receive a dissertation-like response that can rival any peer-reviewed publication. There is no doubt in any Phish fan’s mind that documenting the actions of this band is essential to preserving this cultural anomaly, a band that changed the rules and continues to grow with new fans and new ways of communicating to and inspiring those fans to join the ranks of their dedicated base.In this respect, Phish allows us to hold up a mirror to a culture and reflect upon the ways in which we situate ourselves in the world. As you can imagine, Phish fans are hella-smart, and their papers reflect an engaging look into their various areas of study, which makes it a great way to digest interdisciplinary studies (see: academic buzzword). This is why, in November of 2018, a group of eight scholar-fans participated in a panel of presentations about their individual studies related to the band at the 104th National Communications Conference. Stuffy academics, beware! Scholar-fans are here to shake things up.The conference at OSU is the vision of Dr. Stephanie Jenkins, the philosophy professor behind the online course “Philosophy of the School of Phish”. In fact, this past summer, she brought a group of her students to The Gorge as the lab portion of the class and staged the first ever academic colloquium at a Phish show. Eight scholars presented their research for the students, along with a host of curious fans who braved the sweltering heat in order to debate the concept of the “wook” and the statistical formula used to predict the rating of a Phish show on Phish.net. It was a glorious afternoon, and a clear indication of how hungry Phish fans are for a deeper and more intellectual view into how they spend their free time. Remember the saying, “If you do what you love, you’ll never work a day in your life?” Well, welcome to early retirement.While the concept of an academic conference about a jam band may raise some questions, as in “whose tax dollars are supporting this?”, it is essential to contemplate the implications of such an innovative proposal. Besides the obvious ability to poke some holes in the academic bubble that is disconcerting for aspiring PhDs these days, there are other benefits to this formula. Firstly, this academic conference will host a panel of students who will have the opportunity to learn how to present at a conference. In addition, they will be connected with existing academics to mentor them in their aspirational studies. This concept aligns with our community as a place where like-minded people are welcome to participate in and be accepted by others who may have more expertise and are willing to share their knowledge. In other words, we must support a deeper level of intellectual engagement in a more public arena in order to expose the nuances of the theories that already guide our lives. An academic conference on Phish Studies, which can attract an audience of non-academics, can illuminate the need for more exposure to bigger ideas which inspire the enlightening conversation that we so desperately need today. There is no better community to support this endeavor than the Phish community.So what can you do? For starters, we can start this dialogue, make it an ongoing, productive conversation that will inspire action where we need it most—the places that Phish fans converge in their views of the world. The financial and emotional support of this community can do wonders for the field of academia that is currently in a precarious place, and the Phish Studies Conference is an excellent place to start.Currently, there is a small price tag for students to attend the conference (academics can generally get some support from their universities). There are also opportunities to sponsor a student’s academic endeavors. Non-phans are also encouraged to come and check out the thought-provoking insights on the fan base with which we’re so familiar. We can do our due diligence to document this amazing world we are privy to, in order to ensure future generations can learn from it. We know that it’s not just about the music. Why not prove it to everyone else?Registration for the Phish Studies Conference at Oregon State University on May 17–19 is now open. For a tentative list of presentations at the conference, click here. You can also click here to learn more about how to make a donation or sponsor a student, or head here for more information.
Minor league baseball franchise the Brooklyn Cyclones have announced their annual Grateful Dead night, scheduled to take place at the team’s game against the Aberdeen IronBirds on Saturday, July 6th at Brooklyn’s MCU Park. The stadium is just a stone’s throw away from the Coney Island boardwalk and has a history of its own within the music world, having hosted performances by Furthur featuring Phil Lesh and Bob Weir, in addition to shows by Phish, Daft Punk, and others.For the Cyclones’ upcoming Grateful Dead-themed game night, in addition to a ticket to the ballgame, Deadheads will receive tie-dye caps and be entered for a special giveaway package. A special “BasebALL You Can Drink” package will be also available for purchase, which includes unlimited beer, wine, liquor, and soft drinks during designated hours.The Cyclones join fellow baseball teams the Chicago Cubs and St. Louis Cardinals, as well as the Detroit Red Wings and Florida Panthers, and more in celebrating the Grateful Dead and their music this year at sporting events.Tickets for the Brooklyn Cycles Grateful Dead night go on sale Wednesday, April 10th.Head here for more information.
Harvard Medical School (HMS) and Ecole Polytechnique Fédérale de Lausanne (EPFL) in Switzerland have established a joint research and education program thanks to a contribution from the Bertarelli Foundation. The Bertarelli Program in Translational Neuroscience and Neuroengineering is a collaborative exchange aimed at improving quality of life for people with neurological disabilities.The agreement was presented today (Oct. 29) by Bertarelli Foundation Co-President Ernesto Bertarelli, Dean of Harvard Medical School Jeffrey S. Flier, and EPFL President Patrick Aebischer, in the presence of Didier Burkhalter, the head of Swiss Federal Department of Home Affairs and minister of health, science and culture.The initial $9 million donation also includes an endowment of the Bertarelli Professorship in Translational Medical Science. The inaugural incumbent will be William Chin, currently executive dean for research at Harvard Medical School. Chin will oversee the development of the new joint program, which creates a pathway from device design at EPFL to clinical testing at HMS and builds a bidirectional exchange for students and researchers from the two institutions.Flier applauded this new partnership: “Thanks to the Bertarelli family’s tremendous generosity and vision, we will be exploring an area of cutting-edge science that will lead to exciting discoveries, particularly in the field of neurotechnology, for both our institutions. I look forward to working with the Bertarelli Foundation and our Swiss partners in this new venture.”EPFL and HMS already collaborate on translational neurobiological research, notably on the visualization and simulation of the brain, headed by the EPFL Signal Processing Laboratory. In collaboration with Massachusetts General Hospital, Harvard and EPFL have recently published results in a joint paper in PNAS about the structure of the brain in children between 2 and 18 years of age.“This is a great scientific opportunity to translate our bioengineering advances in neuroprosthetics into clinical studies,” said Aebischer.Bertarelli, who is a Swiss entrepreneur and philanthropist and two-time winner of America’s Cup with his team Alinghi, has already funded significant research in translational neurosciences at EPFL’s Neuroprosthetics Center within the Institute of Bioengineering. There, research in cortical and spinal implants is envisioned, while noninvasive man-machine interfaces and neural coding devices to aid in movement and machine control are already under way. EPFL scientists also hope to explore optogenetics — the use of light as a biological switch for gene expression — to create second-generation implants for the hearing-impaired.To further future collaboration, a Bertarelli Grant program will be established in 2011 for research projects at the forefront of neuroscience and neuroengineering by students and scientists from the two faculties. Results from novel coursework and research will be shared at a joint symposium to be held annually in Boston and Lausanne, alternatively.“Since studying at Harvard, I have remained involved with the School and I also have close ties with EPFL,” said Bertarelli. “I thought it would be an interesting idea to bring both faculties together to join forces in common projects, where each entity could contribute with its own core competences, the neuroengineering developments for EPFL and the experience in medical application to patients for HMS. This project once again shows that Europe and America can collaborate to have a very competitive impact in the advancement of science,” he added.
Forty-six faculty members have elected to take advantage of Harvard’s faculty retirement program, with longer phased retirement options the most popular choice.The results of the program are detailed in the Office of Faculty Development and Diversity’s (FD&D) 2010 Annual Report released Monday (Nov. 15), which highlights many of FD&D’s programmatic initiatives and presents up-to-date data on the composition of Harvard’s ladder faculty. Of interest are the measurable changes in faculty composition that result directly from the University’s move to a tenure track system.“We are happy to be able to support faculty renewal and provide an opportunity for long-serving faculty to make plans for the next stage of their career,” said Judith D. Singer, senior vice provost for FD&D. “At the same time, phased retirement helps us better anticipate future faculty needs. I see this as a win-win for everyone.” Last December, five Harvard Schools announced a customized voluntary retirement program, including the Faculty of Arts and Sciences (FAS), the Harvard Medical School, the Harvard School of Public Health, the Harvard Divinity School, and the Harvard Graduate School of Education.Eligibility was contingent on having at least 10 years of University service and being 65 or older on Sept. 1, 2010. Across the University, 176 faculty members were eligible for the program. Of the 127 eligible in FAS, 32 (25 percent) signed up; of the 49 eligible across the participating graduate and professional Schools, 14 (29 percent) signed up.The programs were designed in response to interest from faculty members, and were crafted with the understanding that they seek in retirement to maintain relationships with their departments, their Schools, and the University, while exploring new opportunities for personal and intellectual renewal.Each School designed its one-time program to meet the needs of its faculty members, some of whom were already contemplating the next stage of their careers. Older faculty members were the most likely to sign up, and the median age of participants was 70. In addition to the program, 10 more faculty members in these Schools had previously signed other retirement agreements, including nine in FAS.More than half of the participants elected to take an option that offered two years of half-time teaching and service for full-time pay. Another third took an option that offered four years of half-time teaching and service for full-time pay in the first year and half-time pay in subsequent years, plus additional cash payments to help compensate for diminished retirement contributions. Less than 10 percent of participants took the option that offered retirement after a one-year paid sabbatical.Because of the program’s success, the FAS, along with several of the professional Schools, is developing a new steady state faculty retirement program. Details of it, which will build on lessons learned in this program, will be announced later this year.The retirement program results were just one component of the annual report, which highlights many of FD&D’s programmatic initiatives and presents up-to-date data on the composition of Harvard’s ladder faculty.This year’s report also includes the first measurable changes in faculty composition that result directly from the University’s move to a tenure track system.Harvard has 1,497 assistant, associate, and full professors, up 6 percent from seven years ago. This year, the University welcomed 64 new faculty: 44 assistant professors, 7 associate professors, and 13 full professors.The entire increase in faculty size has been in the tenured ranks, which grew by 14 percent over the past seven years. During this period, the number of junior faculty has decreased slightly, a result of increased internal promotions and reduced junior hiring. University officials anticipate that the results of the recent retirement program will boost junior faculty hiring in the future.The percentage of female faculty is at an all time high of 27 percent, up 56 individuals, or 16 percent, from seven years ago. As with the general faculty trends, the entire increase in the number of women has been in the tenured ranks, which grew by 34 percent during the same period. The University has also made modest gains in increasing the number of minority faculty. About 18 percent of the Harvard faculty are minorities, up 64 individuals, or 30 percent, from seven years ago.In an effort to increase the pipeline of well-qualified students entering academia, FD&D helps to inform, motivate, and prepare undergraduates, graduate students, and postdoctoral fellows interested in pursuing academic careers. In addition to its flagship Summer Research Opportunities at Harvard program, last summer FD&D began working with 17 undergraduate research programs across the University, serving more than 300 students, to provide a more standardized and supported experience.