Harvard will present six honorary degrees during today’s commencement ceremony at the Tricentenary Theatre.
Doctor of Science
Jennifer Doudna has dedicated her career to understanding the molecular structure of RNA and thereby improving the human condition. With Emmanuelle Charpentier, she received the 2020 Nobel Prize in Chemistry for her pioneering work on CRISPR-Cas9, a high-precision technology that enables targeted changes to the genome, with widespread applications in biology and medicine. Raised in Hawaii, she received her BA from Pomona College and her Ph.D. from Harvard. She served on the Yale faculty until 2002, when she moved to the University of California, Berkeley, where she is the Provost Li Ka Shing Professor of Health and Biomedical Sciences; professor of biochemistry, biophysics and structural biology; and a Howard Hughes Medical Institute investigator. She is the founder of the Innovative Genomics Institute, which implements genomic engineering to address problems in health, climate, and agriculture. Her many honors include the Breakthrough Prize in Life Sciences, the Gruber Prize in Genetics, the Canada Gairdner International Prize, the Japan Prize, the Kavli Prize in Nanoscience, and the Wolf Prize in Medicine. She is the co-author of “A Crack in Creation,” a personal account of her research and the social and ethical implications of gene editing.
doctor of arts
Tom Hanks is a renowned actor, producer, writer, director, and philanthropist, affectionately known as “America’s Dad.” A Hollywood icon, he has appeared in dozens of films over more than four decades, including rom-coms, riveting dramas, and everything in between. His credits include back-to-back Oscar-winning roles in “Philadelphia” and “Forrest Gump,” as well as award-winning performances in “Apollo 13,” “Cast Away,” “Saving Private Ryan,” “Sully” and “The Mail.” , among many others. He is also an acclaimed producer of feature films and television series, including the Emmy-winning miniseries “From the Earth to the Moon,” “Band of Brothers,” and “The Pacific.” A devoted philanthropist, he has helped to raise funds for AIDS and cancer research, space exploration, and the National World War II Memorial, among other causes.He is a campaign chair for Hidden Heroes, which supports the work of military caregivers with veterans.His Honors include the Life Achievement Award from the American Film Institute, the Cecil B. DeMille Award from the Hollywood Foreign Press Association, a Kennedy Center Honor, and the Presidential Medal of Freedom.He is the author of a collection of short stories, “Uncommon Type” , and a new novel, “The Making of Another Motion Picture Masterpiece.”
Doctor of Science
An intrepid biochemist fascinated by the therapeutic potential of mRNA, Katalin Karikó is a professor at the University of Szeged and an adjunct professor of neurosurgery at the University of Pennsylvania Perelman School of Medicine. Originally from Hungary, she received her bachelor’s degree and doctorate from her. from the University of Szeged. She worked at the Hungarian Academy of Sciences before immigrating to the US, where she eventually joined the Perelman School of Medicine to investigate how RNA could activate the immune system. With Drew Weissman, she discovered how to engineer mRNA so that it can be used to make the desired proteins after being introduced into mammalian cells. This innovation prompted the COVID-19 vaccines developed by Pfizer-BioNTech and Moderna and holds promise for the treatment of many other diseases. One of Time’s 2021 “Heroes of the Year” and Carnegie Corporation of New York’s 2021 “Great Immigrants”, he has received the Japan Prize, the Canada Gairdner International Prize, the Breakthrough Prize in Life Sciences, the Lasker-DeBakey Clinical Medical Research Award, and the Kovalenko Medal of the National Academy of Sciences. She served as BioNTech’s Senior Vice President from 2013 to 2022.
doctor of laws
An eminent historian and biographer, David Levering Lewis is the Julius Silver University Professor. Emeritus at New York University. He is best known for sociologist, author, and civil rights activist WEB Du Bois’ masterful two-volume biography of him. Each of the volumes won a Pulitzer Prize; the former was also recognized with the Bancroft Award and the Francis Parkman Award. His extensive experience spans 20th-century American social history, 19th-century Africa, 20th-century France, and the Muslim Iberian Peninsula. His books include biographies of Martin Luther King Jr. and Wendell Willkie, as well as works on the Dreyfus Affair, the Harlem Renaissance, European colonialism and African resistance, and Islam and the making of Europe. A graduate of Fisk University (BA), Columbia University (MA), and the London School of Economics (Ph.D.), he became the Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Professor of History at Rutgers University , where he served for nearly two decades before moving to NYU. A former president of the Society of American Historians and a former MacArthur and Guggenheim fellow, he has been honored with the highest award from the International Organization of Biographers and the National Humanities Medal.
Doctor of Humane Letters
Hugo Morales is a pioneering figure in public broadcasting and a lifelong advocate of elevating marginalized voices. He is executive director of Radio Bilingüe, which he founded in 1976 in Fresno, California, along with farmworkers, community activists and others. Radio Bilingüe, the National Latino Public Radio Network, encompasses numerous public radio stations in California and the Southwestern US, as well as many affiliated stations in the US and Mexico. It produces and provides news and talk shows, as well as music and cultural programming specifically targeted at traditionally underserved audiences. An indigenous Mixtec immigrant from Oaxaca, Mexico, who grew up working in California farm fields, he earned his AB and JD degrees from Harvard. As a student, he was one of the founders of Harvard-Radcliffe RAZA and launched an innovative Chicano-Boricua bilingual radio show on WHRB. Co-founder of the Central California Hispanic Chamber of Commerce, former California State University Trustee and former MacArthur Fellow, recipient of the Corporation for Public Broadcasting’s Edward R. Murrow Award, the National Endowment for the Arts’ Bess Lomax Hawes National Heritage Fellowship and the Lannan Award for Cultural Freedom.
doctor of laws
Admiral Michael Mullen, US Navy (ret.), is a decorated military leader who served for 43 years, ultimately as Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff. As the nation’s highest-ranking military officer from 2007 to 2011, serving under presidents of both parties, he guided the military through a critical period of transition. Among other things, he sought to mitigate a number of global security risks, advocated for international partnerships, advanced methods of combating terrorism, and oversaw the end of a policy that prohibited openly gay, lesbian, and bisexual people from military service. A graduate of the US Naval Academy and Naval Post Graduate School, he held numerous leadership positions before becoming Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, including Deputy Chief of Naval Operations, Commander of the US Naval Forces. in Europe, commander of the Allied Joint Forces Command in Naples and head of naval operations. Since he retired from the Navy, he has served as a faculty member at the Naval Academy and Princeton University, as president of MGM Consulting, and on the boards of organizations that support veterans and their families. His honors include the Defense Distinguished Service Medal and the Navy Distinguished Service Medal.
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