Monthly Archives: May 2012

May 30, 2012

Philip Wolfe

Philip Wolfe to Participate in World Student Organizing Committee

In March 2013, Philip Wolfe, a research assistant in PARTNER Lab at MIT, will attend the Education Without Borders international student conference as a member of the World Student Organizing Committee (WSOC). EWB is a biennial student conference that brings together the world’s most innovative students and leaders with the intention of understanding and developing solutions for some of the world’s greatest challenges. This opportunity covers airfare and accommodation costs for members of the WSOC, and requires preparation prior to the conference, co-ordination during the conference, and action as a liaison after the conference has concluded. Wolfe will assist with planning of conference activities, co-ordinate with the UAE Student Organizing Committee, act as a leader to student delegate groups during the conference, and provide feedback for future conferences.


May 29, 2012

Brian Taylor for The Chronicle

Bad Brain Days

Most days I don’t think about my hair. Maybe I’ll brush it in the morning, but to be honest, often I forget. Then there the days I wake up and notice that it’s too long or too frizzy. On those days I spend way too much time thinking about my hair, and worrying about all the things I’m not thinking about when I’m thinking about my hair.

Having a bad brain day is like that, only worse. With hair, I can convince myself that my identity is not dependent on the shininess of my locks. When my brain isn’t working right, it’s a different story. I know a bad brain day is under way when I reread what I’ve written and it all seems obvious and dull. The sentences clunk and creak. I think: This is no good. I am no good. Those days cloud my mental sky and send my confidence running for cover.

Read the rest of the article in The Chronicle.

May 24, 2012

Mediation@MIT Offering Course in June: Applications due May 30

A training course in mediation will be open to MIT staff, faculty, students and affiliates in June. The workshop will help develop mediation skills and teach a structured conflict resolution process. Lectures will be followed by exercises, role plays and structured debriefings, which will develop expertise through practice and reflection. This training fosters skills that people use daily, whether it be in a dorm, office, student group or regular interactions.

The deadline for applications is May 30th. For costs or information on smaller workshop or direct mediation services, please visit the Mediation@MIT website, or email

Workshops will be held on:
Monday, June 18: 9am-5pm
Tuesday, June 19: 12:30-5:30pm
Wednesday, June 20: 12:30-5:30pm
Monday, June 25: 9am-5pm
Tuesday, June 26: 9am-5pm

May 22, 2012

Team LiquiGlide

Team LiquiGlide Ends Violent Ketchup Bottle Shaking!

We’ve all been there. You get a bottle of Heinz ketchup from your cupboard or in a restaurant ready to dress up those fresh-cut fries. When you open it up, however, the bottle is nearly finished and you have to keep tapping the neck of the container to get the last bits to flow out. That, or you can keep shaking and pray the ketchup won’t end up everywhere. Instead, reseachers from Varanasi Research Group developed LiquiGlide, a non-stick coating for food packaging that will help substances flow out of the containers more seamlessly. Team LiquiGlide was bestowed the honor of the popular vote at the May 14th 100k finale presentation, with audience members texting their favorite pitch to the contest organizers to vote. The team, with Mechanical Engineering graduate students Dave Smith, Brian Solomon, Adam Paxson, and Chris Love, as well as postdoc Rajeev Dhiman and advisor Prof. Varanasi, was a WildCard Round winner and one of the 8 teams to make the final round. Read more and watch a ketchup video on

May 18, 2012


Shoebox Tour: A Juggling Show on May 20th

Shoebox Tour, a modern juggling show that has played in Canada, Ireland, Finland, Sweden, Japan, and Iceland, returns to MIT on Sunday, May 20th.  The show will begin at 7:00pm in Wong Auditorium, MIT Tang Center (E51-115).  Tickets are $10 at the door, cash only (all general admission).  The name “Shoebox Tour” refers to smaller venues visited in locations straying off the beaten path; the tour brings juggling to audiences that normally do not have access to the variety arts.  View a short trailer for this year’s show!  International Jugglers’ Association Gold Medal winners Wes Peden and Jay Gilligan created and perform this year’s show.  Erik Nilsson provides a live original soundtrack on acoustic and electronic drums.  Jay Gilligan has performed in 26 different countries, and is the head teacher of juggling at the Swedish National Circus School.  Wes Peden began his career at the age of 3, and has been voted the best juggler in the world for 3 years by the online juggling community.  Erik Nilsson, a graduate from the Royal Academy of Music in Stockholm, toured with Robyn, Dido, and Coldplay and played at the Royal Wedding of the Princess of Sweden in 2010.  Visit for more information.

May 17, 2012


L. Rafael Reif selected as MIT’s 17th president

L. Rafael Reif, a distinguished electrical engineer whose seven-year tenure as MIT’s provost has helped MIT maintain its appetite for bold action as well as its firm financial footing, has been selected as the 17th president of the Institute. Reif, 61, was elected to the post on May 16 by a vote of the MIT Corporation. He will assume the MIT presidency on July 2. Read the rest of the MIT News story.

May 16, 2012


4 new Fulbright Scholars will travel abroad

Four current and former graduate students at MIT have received Fulbright Scholarships to study abroad in 2012-13. The prestigious Fulbright Scholarship program, which enables American students to spend eight months pursuing research in a foreign country, was created in order to promote cross-cultural understanding and send young Americans as academic ambassadors abroad. Read more

May 15, 2012

2012 Grad Student Awards recipients

Celebrating graduate achievement at the 2012 MIT Awards Convocation

The 2012 MIT Awards Convocation was held on May 9th, where students and faculty were recognized for their accomplishments on behalf of graduate students with six different awards for entrepreneurship, visual arts, excellence in teaching, mentoring, and contribution to the MIT community.

Read more

May 14, 2012

Grad Fellows

2 Openings for Graduate Community Fellows: Deadline June 1st!

The Office of the Dean for Graduate Education has 2 openings for Graduate Community Fellows beginning in the Summer of 2012.  Graduate Community Fellows are a cadre of graduate students who work on projects and assignments that enhance MIT graduate community in unique ways.  Each Fellow reports to a staff member in the Office of the Dean of Graduate Education or in a partner organization, and focuses on a specific project.  Fellows receive partial stipend support for the length of their appointment period.  Positions include Graduate Orientation (Fellow serves June 15 through October 15th only) and Graduate School Clinic (Fellow serves July 1st through May 31st, 2013).  Please visit the ODGE website for available assignments and an application form.  Applications are being accepted now through June 1st for these positions.  Additional positions will become available on June 30th.

May 11, 2012


How to Be Succinct

Succinctness usually eludes me. The Chronicle of Higher Education a few years back proposed that I post two 500-words blogs per week. I’ve seldom managed to keep them under 1500 words. My dissertation ran nearly a thousand pages. The publisher of my book, Diversity, deemed it long-enough at 300 pages and orphaned five chapters. Last week a put-upon reader posted a comment to one of my articles, “Could you please write more succinctly and clearly.” Read the rest of the article in The Chronicle of Higher Education.

May 10, 2012

Robinson wins Stewardship Science Graduate Fellowship

In April, Mareena Robinson was one of five students awarded the prestigious Stewardship Science Graduate Fellowship (SSGF), which is sponsored by the Department of Energy’s National Nuclear Security Administration. Robinson is a first-year doctoral student in the Department of Nuclear Science and Engineering, with a focus on nuclear security. This fellowship program provides four year of benefits and opportunities to students pursuing a PhD in areas of interest to stewardship science. Continue reading this article on MIT News.

May 9, 2012


Matthew Hutson to speak on 7 Laws of Magical Thinking on May 14th

Matthew Hutson (Science Writing SM, ’03) will read from his book The 7 Laws of Magical Thinking: How Irrational Beliefs Keep us Happy, Healthy, and Sane on May 14th at 7:00pm in Room 32-141 (Stata Center).  A discussion will follow.

May 8, 2012

The Right Track

On the Right Track: Preparing for Tenure

Many faculty candidates and graduate students look on a tenure-track job as their ultimate goal. Of course, getting tenure is usually their ultimate goal, but given the small number of tenure-track openings, just getting a job is a victory. However, getting a job is no assurance of being awarded tenure, as many of us know from painful personal experience or the experiences of our friends or colleagues. I conduct workshops on the tenure-review process for aspiring and new faculty members and I’ve been struck by the number of them who lack a clear understanding about what they must do to get tenure. It’s crucial, I believe, for tenure-track faculty members to prepare for their review from the start of their appointment, if not before, and in my workshops I outline several steps that can help. Continue reading the article in The Chronicle of Higher Education.

May 7, 2012


Life in Between Forum on Graduate Spaces on May 8th

The GSC Task Force on Graduate Community Space is hosting their final event in their year-long project gathering information and facilitating opportunities for engagement in the planning process.  The Life In Between Event, a forum on graduate student spaces for interaction and relaxation, will take place on Tuesday, May 8th, from 5:30pm to 7:00pm, in Room 32-124.  The key themes of this forum include intellectual and social community building, creating opportunities for both planned and fortuitous interactions across disciplinary lines, mental health and necessary spaces for re-energizing, environments that facilitate effective interactions, and spaces that inspire collaborative ingenuity.  Help make MIT a better place to live, work and play for today and future generations!

May 7, 2012


You Will Not Reject Me. I Will Reject Me.

The other day I got a frantic call. “I need your help. It’s been too long. I know they aren’t going to give me the job; they must have someone else in mind. I’m going to pull out first, but don’t know whether it’s better to call or to send an e-mail. What’s proper etiquette? You know these things; what should I do?” There are no good answers to bad questions, and this was a bad question, indeed. “Phone versus e-mail?” was not the right question. The real question was, “What do you hope to accomplish by withdrawing from a search for a job you really want?” So, I asked it.  Read the rest of the article in The Chronicle of Higher Education. photo by Tim Foley

May 4, 2012

Mobile Phone

Mobile Devices: The New Target for Data Theft

Millions of people now own mobile devices, so it’s no surprise that cyber criminals have ramped up their efforts to steal data from them. Cell phones, smartphones, and tablets can hold personal data, including location, home or work address, contacts, email correspondence, SMS or text messages, passwords, and other sensitive or risky information. These devices are relatively easy to lose or steal, since we carry them in our pockets and bags. But that’s not the only concern: data can be stolen even as you use your device. An aware user is a secure user. Regardless of the make or model of a device, or whether it’s your own or one provided by an employer, keeping data secure comes down to how you use and maintain the device. Here are best practices for keeping your data safe (courtesy of IS&T News).

May 4, 2012

Time Management

Monitoring Productivity Increases Productivity

Recently, I read Willpower: Rediscovering the Greatest Human Strength, by Roy Baumeister and John Tierney, which I found to be a very enjoyable read. One of the things that resonated with me was the fact that in many experiments when they asked subjects to monitor their own behavior (such as eating or studying habits), that behavior improved. I’ve found this to be true for myself too. I used to keep a spreadsheet where I recorded my daily word count, and what papers I read. But at some point I got tired of keeping up with the spreadsheet and abandoned it entirely—and my writing and scholarly reading went down, too. The book mentioned a program called RescueTime that will monitor how you spend your time on your computer automatically. Continue reading the article in The Chronicle of Higher Education.

May 3, 2012


Robinson wins prestigious Stewardship Science Graduate Fellowship

In April 2012, Mareena Robinson was one of five students awarded the prestigious Stewardship Science Graduate Fellowship (SSGF), which is sponsored by DOE’s National Nuclear Security Administration. Robinson is a first year doctoral student in the department of Nuclear Science and Engineering, with a focus on nuclear security. She is also a former participant in the MIT Summer Research Program. This fellowship program provides four-years of outstanding benefits and opportunities to students pursuing a PhD in areas of interest to stewardship science. “The holistic focus on developing students into skilled and insightful researchers in the area of stewardship science is what initially intrigued me about this fellowship.” said Robinson.  “My goal in my graduate and broader professional career is to continue to advance my technical and political intuition through diverse experiences.”  Read more about Robinson in MIT NSE News.

May 2, 2012


May 17th picnic to honor President Hockfield: All faculty, staff, and students invited

On Thursday, May 17th, the MIT community is invited to gather for a celebration picnic in honor of President Susan Hockfield, who announced on February 16th that she would step down as MIT’s 16th president.  Hockfield has served as president since December 2004 and will continue to serve until the next president takes office. The picnic will be held from noon until 2 p.m. on Killian Court; all faculty, staff and students are invited for food and fun and a chance to say thank you to Dr. Hockfield for her leadership of MIT.  Questions about the event may be directed to the Office of Institute Events ( Read the MIT News article.  photo by Dominick Reuter

May 1, 2012


So You’re Defending Your Dissertation Tomorrow!

Congratulations: It’s a BOOK! Your 273-page volume–the weighty, serious, mighty tome–is sitting in the center of my cluttered desk. Since it’s bigger than everything else around it (how small and slight those 20-page student papers look in comparison!), I can’t miss it. It’ll be there tomorrow when we all meet to perform the one-to-two-hour ritual during which you “defend” your work to your advisers, your committee members, and your colleagues. One of my favorite New Yorker cartoons, photocopied and given away to friends and students so often over the years I no longer have a version, was of a woman reaching across a seminar table and socking a guy in the eye in front of six well-dressed adults, with one of them commenting to the group “Excellent defense. Let’s give her the doctorate!” It won’t be like that tomorrow, I promise. You’ve already won this race; now there’s nothing to do but enjoy the scenery as you cross the finish line. Continue reading the article in The Chronicle of Higher Education. photo by Flickr/CC user suran2007

May 1, 2012

Joshua and Rebecca

Dillon and Levinson to attend Meeting of Nobel Laureates and Students

Joshua Dillon, PhD candidate in Physics, and Rebecca Sobel Levinson, 4th year PhD student in Astrophysics, have been selected to attend the 62nd Annual Meeting of Nobel Laureates and Students in Lindau, Germany, July 1st through July 6th.  Since 1951, Nobel Laureates in Chemistry, Physics, and Physiology/Medicine convene annually in Lindau to have open and informal meetings with students and young researchers.  The Laureates lecture on the topic of their choice in the mornings and participate in less formal, small-group discussions with the students in the afternoons and some evenings.  Students and young researchers are nominated and selected by sponsoring agencies and organizations.  Dillon’s research involves the development of a new cosmological probe that has the potential to make the biggest ever 3D maps of the universe. Levinson is studying aberrations from gravitational lensing and telescope optics.