Editor’s Note: All Roads Lead to Brevia

Brevia is a platform for popularizing and democratizing the research that defines our campus.

World-class debates at the Oxford Union end in an age-old tradition: to vote in favor of or against the motion, members of the audience exit through one of two doors, marked “ayes” or “noes.” Across the Atlantic, a similar phenomenon occurs in Annenberg hall, where over and over again, a question is up for the freshmen vote. Which Annenberg exit, North or South, would provide the shortest trek to the Science Center? Soon after I switched over to using the North exit, my choice was questioned by a South exit patron. She insisted that the South route was shorter, and not to mention, it had superior scenery. Without quantitative evidence, I realized our dispute would never resolve itself. As a result, I conducted a short study with the Google Maps Distance Measurement Tool.

South Exit
South exit to Science Center entrance distance measurement: 138meters
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North exit to Science Center entrance distance measurement: 154.5meters

From initial measurements, it would seem that my friend was correct. The South exit is a shorter walk by at least sixteen meters. The experiment would have been a shameful defeat by numbers, had I not taken a second look at the methodology, realizing that the fairest starting point of measurement is the Annenberg dish room, not the exits themselves. This story is not so straightforward after all. Walking to the South exit after dropping off dishes adds another twenty-two meters to the South exit route, which tips the scales in favor of the North.

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Across Annenberg: dish room to South exit: 22.5 meters

Whether or not a twenty-two meter difference is worth sacrificing the comforts of habit or the alleged beauty of an afternoon walk would be a question for further study. My experience suggests that impactful research can be done by anyone with the curiosity and the right tools. Brevia is a platform for popularizing and democratizing the research that defines our campus. We are so proud to present our opening issue, a showcase of primary research and stories of how researchers found their passions. In our researcher spotlight section, Khin-Kyemon Aung ‘14 tells us how she went from mobile clinic to assistant editor at a faculty member’s new journal, Health Care. David LeBoeuf ‘13 reflects on how Vietnamese and Liberian immigrants in his hometown define democracy for themselves, and Adam Mitchell ’13 recounts how he came face-to-face with the lives of beggars in northern China. Among our submissions of primary research, William Simmons ’14 reveals how a punk photographer’s work challenges what it means to be queer. Samita Mohanasundaram ‘13 searches for links between pesticides and leukemia, and Olivia Angiuli ’15 explores why some people are more resistant to HIV than others. Never before have Harvard undergraduates had such timely, pithy, and intimately accessible research at their fingertips. Whether you favor Annenberg’s North or South exit, or have already moved on to tackle Quad shuttle schedules and treks from the River, we hope that Brevia will be a travel companion for your journeys in research—from Convocation to Commencement and beyond. Thanks for reading. Brevia cofounder Ryan Lee ’15 may be reached at siyiryanlee@college.harvard.edu, editor-in-chief Rachel Wong ’15 may be reached at rachelwong@college.harvard.edu.