Life's Broad Sea: biological conservation; prosecuting insider-trading; ordering designer clothes

Alumni in the spotlight.
October 2, 2012

Paula Ehrlich ’84 may be the only foundation leader whose expertise includes environmental planning, equine surgery, bone physiology, corporate and academic research, and preclinical translational drug discovery and development.

In her new role as president and CEO of the E.O. Wilson Biodiversity Foundation, Ehrlich will use her diverse scientific expertise and leadership skills to guide the foundation’s efforts to promote worldwide understanding and preservation of the Earth’s biological heritage. Despite the daunting task at hand— the widespread destruction of fragile ecosystems, the alarming and accelerating loss of plant and animal species—Ehrlich says she is eager to forge multi-stakeholder collaborations and educational projects “that improve our global understanding of the nature and diversity of all of life on Earth and why it must be conserved.”

Earth in the balance: E.O. Wilson Foundation president and CEO Ehrlich wll promote worldwide understanding and preservation of planet's biological heritage. [Credit: Jon Gardiner]

One of the foundation’s primary educational tools is E.O. Wilson’s Life on Earth, an interactive digital textbook designed for high-school students. The forty-one chapter, multimedia resource makes introductory biology come alive, from the micro (a 3D exploration of the inside of a cell) to the macro (changing landscapes and animal migration patterns over time). Morgan Ryan ’82 is the Life on Earth project director.

Many of the textbook’s lessons draw from and document the ongoing work the Carr Foundation is doing in Mozambique’s Gorongosa National Park to restore and protect ecosystems that were devastated during the country’s protracted civil war. A lesson on the succession of grasslands into forest, for example, is delivered by the park’s chief scientist. And Edward O. Wilson—biologist, researcher, naturalist, and Pulitzer Prizewinning author—delivers lessons on evolution and ecology from the savannah where humanity emerged.

While a portion of high-school students who become immersed in Life on Earth will go on to become tomorrow’s leading conservationists, biochemists, and environmental policymakers, Ehrlich says that the foundation’s broader mission is to make every citizen an informed and careful steward of our natural surroundings.

“We want to help people understand biology and science in a way that changes how they live their lives,” she says. “We want that understanding to be part of our cultural DNA.”

 

Assistant U.S. attorneys Richard Tarlowe ’97 and Reed Brodsky ’91 successfully prosecuted one of the most significant insider-trading trials in history.

Meet the prosecution: Tarlowe, left, and Brodsky outside the federal courthouse in Manhattan [Credit: Robin Kuntz]

Rajat Gupta, former global chairman of McKinsey & Company and member of the board of directors of Goldman Sachs and Procter & Gamble, was found guilty of providing inside information he learned as a board member of Goldman Sachs to his friend and business partner, Raj Rajaratnam, who ran a multi-billion-dollar hedge fund and placed stock trades based on information Gupta provided.

Tarlowe and Brodsky, working on behalf of the U.S. Attorney’s Office in New York, were the sole members of the prosecution. Goldman Sachs and Procter & Gamble covered the nearly $30 million spent on Gupta’s legal defense, which was headed by U.S. litigator Gary Naftalis, who had successfully represented Salomon Brothers and Kidder Peabody in high-profile securities cases. It took the Gupta jury less than a day to return a guilty verdict on four of the six counts of insider trading.

 

Aslaug Magnusdottir LL.M. ’98 has been named one of Fast Company magazine’s “100 Most Creative People in Business” for 2012. She is cofounder and CEO of Moda Operandi, which lets customers preorder luxury clothes and accessories directly from leading designers. Magnusdottir and partner Lauren Santo Domingo, a contributing editor for Vogue, attend runway shows and industry showrooms and post photos and videos to modaoperandi.com. Customers then have a short window of time, usually less than a week, to order from online trunk shows—including exclusive pieces that will not be mass-produced for department stores.

More than 250 designers have signed on; the average purchase is $1,400. Magnusdottir and Santo Domingo raised $36 million in venture capital to launch their company, including backing from RRE Ventures, IMG, and LVMH Moët Hennessy Louis Vuitton.