Harvard presented six honorary degrees during Thursday’s Commencement ceremony in Tercentenary Theatre.
Jennifer A. Doudna
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 pioneering work on CRISPR-Cas9, a high-precision technology that enables targeted changes to the genome, with widespread applications across biology and medicine. Raised in Hawaii, she received her B.A. 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 Li Ka Shing Chancellor’s Professor of Biomedical and Health Sciences; professor of biochemistry, biophysics, and structural biology; and a Howard Hughes Medical Institute Investigator. She is a founder of the Innovative Genomics Institute, which deploys genome engineering to address problems in health, climate, and agriculture. Her many honors include the Breakthrough Prize in Life Sciences, the Gruber Genetics Prize, the Canada Gairdner International Award, the Japan Prize, the Kavli Prize in Nanoscience, and the Wolf Prize in Medicine. She is co-author of “A Crack in Creation,” a personal account of her research and the social and ethical implications of gene editing.
Thomas Jeffrey Hanks
Doctor of Arts
Tom Hanks is a renowned actor, producer, writer, director, and humanitarian, affectionately known as “America’s Dad.” A Hollywood icon, he has appeared in scores of movies over more than four decades, including romantic comedies, riveting dramas, and everything in between. His credits include Oscar-winning roles in consecutive years in “Philadelphia” and “Forrest Gump,” as well as award-winning performances in “Apollo 13,” “Cast Away,” “Saving Private Ryan,” “Sully,” and “The Post,” among many others. He is also an acclaimed producer of 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 raise support for AIDS and cancer research, space exploration, and the national World War II Memorial, among other causes. He is campaign chair of Hidden Heroes, which supports military caregivers’ work with veterans. His honors include the American Film Institute’s Life Achievement Award, the Hollywood Foreign Press Association’s Cecil B. DeMille Award, a Kennedy Center Honor, and the Presidential Medal of Freedom. He is the author of a short-story collection, “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 messenger RNA, Katalin Karikó is a professor at the University of Szeged and adjunct professor of neurosurgery at the University of Pennsylvania’s Perelman School of Medicine. A native of Hungary, she received her bachelor’s degree and Ph.D. from the University of Szeged. She worked at the Hungarian Academy of Sciences before immigrating to the U.S., where in time she 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 produce desired proteins after being introduced into mammalian cells. This innovation propelled the COVID-19 vaccines developed by Pfizer-BioNTech and Moderna and holds promise for treatment of many other diseases. One of Time’s 2021 “Heroes of the Year” and Carnegie Corporation of New York’s 2021 “Great Immigrants,” she has received the Japan Prize, the Canada Gairdner International Award, the Breakthrough Prize in Life Sciences, the Lasker-DeBakey Clinical Medical Research Award, and the National Academy of Sciences’ Kovalenko Medal. She served as senior vice president of BioNTech from 2013 to 2022.
David Levering Lewis
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 his magisterial two-volume biography of the sociologist, author, and Civil Rights activist W.E.B. Du Bois. Each of the volumes earned a Pulitzer Prize; the first was also recognized with both the Bancroft Prize and the Francis Parkman Prize. His wide-ranging expertise encompasses 20th-century U.S. social history, 19th-century Africa, 20th-century France, and Muslim Iberia. 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 (B.A.), Columbia University (M.A.), and the London School of Economics (Ph.D.), he went on to become the Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Professor of History at Rutgers University, where he served for nearly two decades before moving to NYU. Past president of the Society of American Historians and a former MacArthur and Guggenheim fellow, he has been honored with the Biographers International Organization’s highest award and the National Humanities Medal.
Hugo Noé Morales Rosas
Doctor of Humane Letters
Hugo Morales is a pathbreaking figure in public broadcasting and a lifelong advocate for elevating marginalized voices. He is executive director of Radio Bilingüe, which he founded in 1976 in Fresno, California, together with agricultural workers, community activists, and others. Radio Bilingüe, the National Latino Public Radio Network, encompasses numerous public radio stations in California and the U.S. Southwest, as well as many affiliated stations across the U.S. and in Mexico. It produces and provides news and talk shows as well as musical and cultural programming aimed especially at traditionally underserved audiences. An Indigenous Mixtec immigrant from Oaxaca, Mexico, who grew up working in the farm fields of California, he earned his A.B. and J.D. degrees from Harvard. As a student, he was a founder of Harvard-Radcliffe RAZA and launched an innovative bilingual Chicano-Boricua radio show on WHRB. Co-founder of the Central California Hispanic Chamber of Commerce, past trustee of California State University, and former MacArthur Fellow, he has received 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 Prize for Cultural Freedom.
Michael Glenn Mullen
Doctor of Laws
Adm. Michael Mullen, U.S. Navy (retired), 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 armed forces through a critical period of transition. Among other things, he sought to mitigate an array of global security risks, advocated for international partnerships, advanced methods to combat terrorism, and oversaw the end of the policy barring military service by openly gay, lesbian, and bisexual individuals. A graduate of the U.S. Naval Academy and the Naval Postgraduate School, he served in numerous leadership roles before becoming chairman of the Joint Chiefs, including vice chief of naval operations, commander of U.S. Naval Forces Europe, commander of Allied Joint Force Command Naples, and chief of naval operations. Since retiring 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 supporting veterans and their families. His honors include the Defense Distinguished Service Medal and the Navy Distinguished Service Medal.
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