Campus & Community

Radcliffe Institute to honor women of achievement

6 min read

The Radcliffe Institute for Advanced Study at Harvard University will honor a molecular biologist, a neuroscientist, and an award-winning director, writer, and producer, among others, at its annual Radcliffe Day celebration on June 11.

Recipients of the Alumnae Recognition Awards, Graduate Society Medals, and the Jane Rainie Opel ’50 Young Alumna Award will participate in a symposium titled “Freedom and Constraint: Human Responsibility in a World of Conflict,” to be held at the Loeb Drama Center from 10:15 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. In addition, distinguished service awards will be presented.

The Alumnae Recognition Awards – presented annually to Radcliffe and Harvard alumnae – honor those “whose lives and spirits exemplify the value of a liberal arts education.” This year’s recipients are as follows:

Nancy Hopkins ’64, Ph.D. ’71 is the Amgen Inc. Professor of Molecular Biology at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (M.I.T.). Since 1995, she has been working on equity for women in science through her service as the founding chair of the Committee on Women Faculty in the School of Science at M.I.T. In 2000, she became co-chair with Provost Robert Brown of the First Council on Faculty Diversity, and she also serves on the Academic Council, the dean’s group, and the Promotions Committee, all at M.I.T. Her work over the years has explored gene expression in the bacterial virus lambda, DNA tumor viruses, and insertional mutagenesis in zebrafish, all of which have medical implications. Hopkins earned her bachelor’s degree from Radcliffe College and her doctorate from the Department of Molecular Biology and Biochemistry at Harvard University in 1971.

Ann Martin Graybiel ’64 is the Walter A. Rosenblith Professor of Neuroscience, a principal investigator at the McGovern Institute for Brain Research, and an affiliate of the Center for Learning and Memory, all at M.I.T. With her group she discovered chemical compartments in the striatum, a key basal ganglia structure that is implicated in the control of movement, cognition, and habit learning. On the basis of this work, Graybiel has been elected to the National Academy of Sciences, the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, and the Institute of Medicine. Graybiel received her B.A. from Radcliffe College with magna cum laude and Phi Beta Kappa distinctions.

Mira Nair ’79 is an acclaimed motion picture director, writer, and producer. She was born in India and educated at Delhi University, Harvard, and Radcliffe. Nair began her film career as an actress and soon began directing documentaries, such as the award-winning “So Far From India” and “India Cabaret.” Her first feature film – “Salaam Bombay!” – won a nomination for an Academy Award in the Best Foreign Language Film category in 1988, a Camera d’Or, and the Prix de Publique at the Cannes Film Festival. Her next film, “Mississippi Masala,” won three awards at the Venice Film Festival, including best screenplay and the Audience Choice Award. Nair has continued to gather accolades for subsequent films, among them “The Laughing Club of India,” “My Own Country,” and “Monsoon Wedding.” She continues to work on feature-length films, and her production company, Mirabai Films, expects to open an annual young filmmaker’s lab in East Africa and India this year.

Graduate Society Medals are awarded annually to alumnae of Harvard and Radcliffe graduate schools, and Radcliffe’s fellowship programs, for outstanding contributions to their professions. This year’s recipients are as follows:

Mary Rosenthal Lefkowitz A.M. ’59, Ph.D. ’61, Bunting Institute ’73 is the Andrew W. Mellon Professor in the Humanities at Wellesley College, and one of the best-known classical scholars in the United States. She is the author of many books on the ancient world, including “Lives of Greek Poets” (1981) and “Women in Greek Myth” (1990), both of Johns Hopkins University Press, as well as articles and reviews for the New York Times Book Review, the Wall Street Journal, and the New Republic. Lefkowitz is co-editor of “Black Athena Revisited” (University of North Carolina Press, 1996), and author of “Not Out of Africa” (Basic Books, 1996) and “Greek Gods, Human Lives” (Yale University Press, 2003).

Jane J. Mansbridge A.M. ’66, Ph.D. ’71 is the Adams Professor of Political Leadership and Democratic Values at the Kennedy School of Government. She is the author of “Why We Lost the ERA” (University of Chicago Press, 1986) – a co-recipient of the American Political Science Association Gladys M. Kammerer Award and the American Political Science Association Victoria Schuck Award – and has co-edited several volumes. Her current research includes work on representation, trust, the relation between coercion and deliberation in democracy, the public understanding of collective-action problems, and the interaction between nonactivists and social movements, as derived from recent interviews with low-income women about feminism. She serves as the faculty chair of the Women and Public Policy Program at the Kennedy School.

The Jane Rainie Opel ’50 Young Alumna Award is named for the former Radcliffe College Alumnae Association executive director and is presented annually to an alumna in the 10th reunion class for an outstanding contribution to the advancement of women, to her profession, or to the institute. This year’s recipient is Nana Amma Y. Twum-Danso ’94, M.D. ’98, associate director of the Mectizan Donation Program of the Task Force for Child Survival and Development, and a clinical instructor in the Department of Family and Preventive Medicine at Emory University School of Medicine. She is board certified in public health and preventive medicine. Her work in international health has spanned onchocerciasis control and lymphatic filariasis elimination in Africa, emergency and disaster preparedness in the United States and the Pacific Islands, and polio eradication in Pakistan. In 2000, Twum-Danso founded the Harvard African Students Alumni Network, of which she is currently president and chair of the board of directors. She is a member of the American College of Preventive Medicine, the American Association of Public Health Physicians, the International Society for Equity in Health, and both the American and Royal Society of Tropical Medicine and Hygiene.

This year’s Distinguished Service Awards will be presented to A’Lelia Bundles ’74, Claire Martin Fairman ’54, Norma Glazer Markson ’54, Mary “Honey” Jacobs Skinner ’79, Nancy Fisher Smith ’54, and Lynne Yerby ’79 for their outstanding service and contributions to Radcliffe.