Wolfe may take Harvard job
By Jeremy Hylton
Associate Professor of Brain and Cognitive Sciences Jeremy M. Wolfe PhD '81 may accept a research position in vision sciences with the Harvard Medical School next fall. If he accepts the position, Wolfe would teach Introduction to Psychology (9.00) as a visiting professor next fall.
Last year, the council of the Whitaker College of Health, Sciences, and Technology voted to deny Wolfe tenure, despite a unanimous departmental recommendation.
Wolfe is negotiating with the Center for Clinical Cataract Research at Harvard Medical School. "We're looking for a psychophysicist in the Division of Opthamology at Brigham and Women's Hospital to do opthamology research," according to Judy Friend, research administra-
tor at the center.
The center has not officially offered Wolfe the position. "The position is open and we're talking to Jeremy Wolfe," Friend said. Other people are interested in the position, she noted.
"This will give me the opportunity to do some clinical research that I have wanted to do for some time," Wolfe said. Working in a clinic would allow him access to patients for his research. "It's something you can't really do in a university setting," he said.
Wolfe cited several other factors that made the position attractive, including Harvard Medical School's strong reputation. In addition, he would be able to stay in Boston, where he has lived for most of his life.
Wolfe also noted that his wife has a research job in Boston.
During a recession, he said, it's "hard to find two research jobs in the same town."
"I expect I know what I'll
be doing by the middle of next week," Wolfe said. Purdue University has offered Wolfe a position.
A Harvard researcher initially contacted Wolfe to ask his help in finding someone to fill the position. "The people [at the Brigham] called me and asked me if I knew anyone," Wolfe said. After some consideration, Wolfe told the researcher that he could take the job.
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The position at Harvard would not involve teaching or advising undergraduate students, according to Wolfe. He sees this as "the part that makes it less than absolutely perfect in my mind."
"If I go to Harvard, I will teach 9.00 as a visiting professor," Wolfe added.
Wolfe earned popularity with students at MIT as the lecturer for 9.00 and head of the Program in Psychology. Twenty percent of last year's freshman class enrolled in 9.00, which has been oversubscribed in recent years. Wolfe also won the Baker Foundation Teaching Award for excellence in undergraduate teaching.
In an interview last year, Wolfe estimated that he devoted 50 percent of his time to undergraduate education, and noted that he teaches "more undergraduates than the rest of my department put together."
Students protested the decision to deny Wolfe tenure several times. Last fall, student activist Rebecca D. Kaplan '92 staged a demonstration in Lobby 7, arguing that the Institute should create a department of psychology.
Though he would continue to teach 9.00, Wolfe felt the psychology program will be affected by his departure. "I think that the psychology department was reasonably marginal when I was taking care of it. . . . If I leave, it will become even more marginal," he said.