This is one in a series of profiles showcasing some of Harvard’s stellar graduates. Read our full Commencement coverage.Not long ago, Elizabeth Strong ’15 was carving a path toward the rarefied field of professional sports. The Colorado native had attended the Vail Ski and Snowboard Academy, a high school for elite alpine skiers and boarders where classes were sandwiched among training, practices, and competitions. To prepare for the long ski season, Strong and her classmates trained in South America in the fall and then traveled to Canada and Europe for races in winter.While many of her classmates went on to pursue Olympic glory, Strong, a coveted collegiate recruit, came to Harvard confident in her skiing ability (her twin sister, Anne, will captain the Dartmouth College ski team next season), but less certain how her academic life would unfold.“I had no idea what to expect coming here, and it was definitely intimidating” to come to Harvard from a high school where athletics were the top priority, she said. “But it’s been really exciting, and it’s really fun being in the middle of something where everyone is really excited about what they’re doing.”As a competitive skier, Strong regularly rose before dawn and made her way from Cabot House to Harvard’s athletic facilities in Allston to make the two-hour trip to New Hampshire with her coach and teammates for practice. By the time she disembarked at the Science Center for her first class of the day, it would be early afternoon. On weekends, Strong left town to compete in collegiate and international races during a ski season that ran from October to April. That grueling schedule made it difficult for her to be fully immersed in her new and growing passion for mechanical engineering. So this year, she chose to set competitive skiing aside.“I came here as a fully dedicated athlete. It was the only thing I knew how to do,” Strong said. But “each year academics became a bigger and bigger part of my life.”In summer, Strong worked in a materials science lab, and designed beams, roofs, and a building foundation for a local structural engineering firm. She also helped study the structural integrity of beams holding up an old Boston wharf. “That was really fun, and I realized I wanted to figure out why something is working instead of designing something to work,” she said.Strong’s senior thesis looked at the link between the shape and the performance of bird beaks on Darwin’s famous finches. Using finite element analysis, fine CT scans of the beaks were converted into complex computer models. The models were then tested to see how stress is distributed throughout the beak when force is applied, in the hope of learning if beak shape affects what the birds can eat (it does) and whether form does indeed follow function (why, yes, it does).“More broadly, what I’m interested in is the idea that nature has already solved a lot of structural problems, so if we can look at natural solutions, maybe we can learn something that we can engineer ourselves,” Strong said.Strong will enter graduate school at Massachusetts Institute of Technology in the fall to begin work on a Ph.D. in mechanical engineering.“What’s been amazing for me is to follow her evolution,” said Strong’s thesis adviser, Katia Bertoldi, the John L. Loeb Associate Professor of the Natural Sciences at the School of Engineering and Applied Sciences (SEAS). “She came here with the goal to be an awesome skier — and she did — but then she’s grown, and now her dream is to be a faculty member. It’s been fun to see.”
A few months ago I splurged on a ski cabin to take my winter-loving boy to the slopes. His favorite season is winter (admittedly sometimes I look at him and wonder if he’s really my son, as my attitude tends to surviving more than enjoying the colder months). Southern Appalachia’s fickle weather makes it impossible to predict whether a day in February will be in the twenties or sixties.Nevertheless, I took a gamble and made plans for a snowy long weekend. We’d hone his turns on the blue trails and in the evenings we’d ice skate or hit the tubing hill. Plenty of hot chocolate breaks would warm him up and then there’d be the fireplace and hot tub back at the cabin to unwind after a cold day outside.The forecast didn’t corporate. Temperatures hovered around forty with a hundred percent rain. Some friends canceled, others decided to stay in the cabin and save skiing for better weather.My son wouldn’t hear of not skiing. He’d been counting down the days until we headed to the slopes. I forced a smile and packed rain jackets and pants to wear over our thermals.We purchased our lift tickets and patches of mud greeted us as we stepped into our skis. The lift lines non-existent, we shuffled right to the front and lowered the bar. We ascended into the fog as rain beaded up on our clothes.The rain had washed away the snow and in breaks in the fog, we played I Spy , pointing out Mardi Gras beads, stray gloves and a tree tenacious enough to grow out of rock.That day we had the mountain all to ourselves. My son pointed his skis toward the barest patches of earth or the longest stretches of ice and skied right over them, laughing. I imagined that he was triumphant, that despite the weather he was enjoying himself. His example of squaring up and skiing right over unpleasant conditions made me realize that he was improving his skiing by getting comfortable dealing with ice and mud.I was reminded of a lesson I learned not skiing, but sailing. When the wind was too strong or nonexistent, when the wind blew in the exact opposite direction I wanted to go, I would repeat the age-old saying.Sail the winds you have.We could no more wait for better snow than we could have waited for the perfect amount of wind blowing in the right direction.So when it’s too hot or too cold, too wet or too dry, I’ll resolve to make the best of it.
The leadership of the National Association of Caterers (NUU) held a meeting with Deputy Prime Minister and Finance Minister Zdravko Maric on Thursday (July 02nd), during which they submitted a list of measures they deem necessary to preserve their industry in the crisis caused by the coronavirus epidemic and resumption of normal operations upon completion of the same. The participants in the meeting agreed that a broader agreement is needed on the direction in which catering will develop, as it is an activity that connects domestic producers of quality food products with consumers, but also an industry that has made great strides in business transparency. Also, the leadership of the National Association of Caterers expressed its support for combating the gray economy and enabling equal market competition by the state. The meeting ended with an agreement for further meetings with key persons from the Ministry of Finance with whom they will discuss the resolution of individual requests of the National Association of Caterers. The caterers pointed out the example of the project “Five cows”, Which they initiated and presented to the public last year. As part of this project, catering facilities are classified depending on the share of quality domestic products in the offer, which turns caterers into holders of domestic quality placements, and in this project they hope for support, joint development and implementation with the future government. Photo: rougemarin.hr Among other measures, NUU representatives requested that the deficit or surplus in the treasury be classified as minor tax offenses, the abolition of consumption taxes at the national level, vouchering for workers according to the model that exists in agriculture, the abolition of various parafiscal levies and for economic operators. As key problems that need to be urgently addressed, the representatives of the caterers stated the unavailability of favorable funds for liquidity in the financial market te too high a VAT rate on beverages and beverages, which is 25%. The National Association of Caterers assessed this long-awaited meeting as positive, expressing mutual desire for a quick solution to burning problems. The NUU leadership states that there is a national consensus on the need to introduce a preferential VAT rate in the hospitality industry in order to maintain competitiveness in the long run, encourage investment and preserve jobs.