Harvard Students, Alumni Publish Guide to Science Research

A group of current and former Harvard students have banded together to guide a younger generation to success on the science fair circuit.

In January, five Harvard students and alumni published their book, titled “Success with Science: The Winners’ Guide to High School Research.”

The book, published by Research Corporation for Science Advancement, was written by Shiv M. Gaglani ’10, Maria Ellen De Obaldia ’08, Scott Duke Kominers ’09, Dayan “Jack” Li ’11 and Carol Y. Suh ’11 and features a foreword by Nobel Laureate and Harvard professor emeritus Dudley R. Herschbach.

The main goal of the book, the team says, is to inspire a younger generation of students to discover a love of science and to become involved in science research.

All of the authors were involved in science research and competitions in high school.

Gaglani, the main author, conceived the idea for the book when he was a senior in high school, he said. In the spring of 2008, he began recruiting writers from the Harvard College Undergraduate Research Association, an organization he founded in 2006.

Gaglani said he chose each of the authors for their expertise in different areas of science research and understanding of science competitions.

“We hope that ‘Success with Science’ will promote and guide young students to actively engage in scientific progress and technological innovation, since those are the main forces driving our economy,” Gaglani said.

In addition to the five authors, the book features contributions from over fifty other people, including at least twenty faculty members and students associated with Harvard, such as Herschbach, Assistant Professor of Chemistry and Physics Adam E. Cohen ’01, and Physics Professor Lisa J. Randall ’84.

For Suh, meeting other students with similar passions at science fairs was her favorite part of high school. The ability to help other students excel at the fairs was one of the factors that attracted her most to the project, she said.

In addition to selling “Success with Science,” Gaglani said, the team is also distributing books to high schools in underprivileged areas in order to reach out to students who might otherwise be lacking guidance.

Gaglani said he began work on the book while at Harvard in part because he recognized the benefits of having a big research community impart knowledge to younger students.

Gaglani and Kominers both emphasized the benefits of having a close-knit science community. Without Herschbach, they said, the project wouldn’t have been the same.

“It was really special,” said Kominers. “This was a student-driven project serving high school students, with Nobel Laureates on the Harvard faculty helping. It was the sort of incredible thing that can happen at Harvard.”