Monthly Archives: August 2012

August 31, 2012


Grad Dental Plan Enrollment Sept 1 – 15

The graduate student dental plan will open on September 1 and continue through September 15. This year there are two dental plan options:

1. The Delta Dental PPO Value Plan (see linked plan summary). This plan is also known as the MIT Graduate Student Dental Plan and is administered by MIT. General questions regarding this plan can be directed to Idalia Cuevas ( in the Office of the Dean for Graduate Education. Questions on coverage, network dentists and ID cards should be directed to Delta Dental at 800-872-0500.  The Group Plan Number is 009998-9005.  Please have the number handy when you call Delta Dental. Read more

August 30, 2012

How Children Learn: Hyowon Gweon on Childhood Cognition

When you try to read other people’s thoughts, or guess why they are behaving a certain way, you employ a skill known as theory of mind. This skill, as measured by false-belief tests, takes time to develop: In children, it doesn’t start appearing until the age of 4 or 5. Brain and Cognitive Sciences grad student Hyowon Gweon helped MIT neuroscientist Rebecca Saxe to show that in adults, theory of mind is seated in a specific brain region known as the right temporo-parietal junction (TPJ). Saxe and colleagues have now shown how brain activity in the TPJ changes as children learn to reason about others’ thoughts and feelings. Read the rest of the story on MITnewsAlso, check out Gweon’s Student Snapshot and video on the Office of the Dean of Graduate Education website!

August 29, 2012

Israelsen of Biology Department is One of Lead Authors on Paper Appearing in Nature Chemical Biology Online

Unlike ordinary cells, cancer cells devote most of their energy to reproducing themselves. To do this, they must trigger alternative metabolic pathways that produce new cellular building blocks, such as DNA, carbohydrates and lipids. Chemical compounds that disrupt an enzyme critical to this metabolic diversion prevent tumors from forming in mice, according to an MIT-led study appearing online in Nature Chemical Biology on Aug. 26. Read the rest of the article on MITnews.

August 28, 2012

Ivy Plus Symposium Student-Graduate

2012 Ivy Plus Symposium & Workshops for Diverse Scholars

This year’s Ivy Plus Symposium will take place at the University of Pennsylvania in Philadelphia, PA from October 4th through 6th, 2012. The symposium is specifically designed for students interested in learning more about graduate study in Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics fields at some of the nation’s leading research universities. The Keynote Address will be delivered by Valerie Petit Wilson, Deputy Division Director for Graduate Education at the National Science Foundation, and there will be more than a dozen panel sessions with faculty from the nation’s leading universities. The symposium will provide a strategic opportunity for undergraduates to: Read more

August 27, 2012

Donghyun Jin Awarded the ISPSD ’12 Charitat Award-Runner-Up

Electrical engineering and computer science graduate student Donghyun Jin was awarded the ISPSD ’12 Charitat Award-Runner-up at the 24th IEEE International Symposium on Power Semiconductor Devices and ICs (ISPSD), which took place June 3-7 in Bruges, Belgium. Jin was cited for a paper titled “Mechanisms responsible for dynamic ON-resistance in GaN high-voltage HEMTs.”

Jin is a graduate student in Jesús del Alamo’s research group at the Microsystems Technology Laboratories at MIT. His research is motivated by the global interest and need for a new generation of ultra-efficient power transistors for electrical power management. Gallium nitride (GaN) is a semiconductor material with a wide band gap, affording it special properties for optoelectronics, high-power and high-frequency device applications. GaN transistors are being investigated for a new generation of electrical power management systems in everyday electronics such as personal computers, home appliances and electric cars. Worldwide energy demand continues to drive the need for far greater efficiency in all of these applications. Read more about his research on MITnews.

August 24, 2012

MIT Students Reach Out, Reduce Waste

Anna Gross, Kevin Kung, Dietmar Offenhuber and David Lee, four graduate students, have been working towards a similar goal in the past year. Each has been working on projects internationally to help deal with health and environmental problems caused by waste. Anna Gross of Urban Studies and Planning has been working with Stree Mukti Sanghatana, a women’s organization in Mumbai, to use anaerobic biodigestion to process urban waste. This decomposition in the absence of oxygen produces methane gas that can then be captured and used as fuel. Kevin Kung of Biological Engineering has been working in Kibera, outside of Nairobi, to engage local waste-management cooperatives to mobilize slums to turn in their waste. The organic waste can then be turned into coal, a valuable local fuel of great scarcity. Dietmar Offenhuber and David Lee of Urban Studies and Planning have been working alongside catadores, people who collect 90% of recoverable materials near São Paulo, Brazil, to develop a better recycling cooperative and develop recycling infrastructure. All of these students are bettering the strategies used to deal with waste in growing cities, transforming the way waste is handled by putting it to better use.

August 23, 2012

Are This Guy and His Robot Manufacturing’s Future?

Bloomberg Businessweek visits Steven Levine, a graduate student at MIT’s Computer Science and Artificial Intelligence Lab, to peek at the future of manufacturing robotics.  Levine has programmed a robotic arm that will work along with humans in manufacturing settings. Click more to check out the video featured on Bloomberg TV! Read more

August 22, 2012

QPR: Suicide Prevention Training Sept. 12

On Wednesday, September 12th, from 11:30AM to 1:00PM, QPR Suicide Prevention Training will be held in W20-407 (Stratton Student Center, 4th Floor). QPR stands for Question, Persuade and Refer – three simple steps that anyone can learn to help save a life. Just as people trained in CPR and the Heimlich Maneuver help save thousands of lives each year, people trained in QPR learn how to recognize the warning signs of a suicide crisis and how to refer someone to help. The presentation will be made by Zan Barry, Senior Program Manager at Community Wellness in MIT Medical. It is free and open to the MIT community. Xiaolu Hsi, Psychologist from Mental Health and Counseling Service, will be available to answer questions about MH&C services. This program is co-sponsored by Active Minds@MIT.

August 21, 2012

5 Grad Students to Attend Global Young Scientists Summit@one-north

Five MIT graduate students and three post-doctoral fellows were selected to attend an international multi-disciplinary research summit in Singapore. The Global Young Scientist Summit@one-north is an international meeting of bright young researchers, Nobel laureates and eminent scientific leaders, providing a great professional development opportunity for participants. This year’s theme will be “Advancing Science, Creating Technologies for a Better World.” Participants will attend lectures and plenary sessions with scientific leaders and then engage in small group interaction sessions and masterclasses with speakers. There will also be opportunities for cultural events. This year’s invited participants are: Agata Wiśniowska in Health Sciences and Technology; Nirmala Paudel in Biological Engineering; Qinxian (Chelsea) He in Aeronautics and Astronautics; Tea Zakula in Architecture; and Wen Sang in Mechanical Engineering. The post-doctoral fellows consist of: Thomas Crouzier in Biological Engineering; Erik J. Wilhelm in Mechanical Engineering; and Huaxing Zhou in Chemsitry.

August 20, 2012

Present at Grad-Alumni Poster Reception: Register by August 31

Were you in lab for the hot summer? Do you have some cool stuff worked out? Show it off at the Grad-Alumni Poster Reception! On Friday, September 21st from 6:30pm to 8:00pm, the Alumni Association will be hosting this awesome event where MIT graduate students can present their research to returning alumni, new graduate students and other current graduate students. Get a chance to practice presenting to a non-expert audience, network with alumni and attract new students to your group! All presenters will get feedback from attending alumni and students, and there will be an opportunity to cement connections with alumni through a mentor/mentee program. As a presenter, you’ll even be entered into a raffle for a variety of gift cards! If you are interested, please register before August 31st. By registering, you are confirming that your poster will be on time and you will be ready to present on September 21st. Brought to you by the Academic, Research & Careers Committee; the Graduate Student Council and the MIT Alumni Association.

August 17, 2012

Cornejo Shares Data Links in Networks of Cars

Wi-Fi is coming to our cars. Ford Motor Co. has been equipping cars with Wi-Fi transmitters since 2010; according to an Agence France-Presse story last year, the company expects that by 2015, 80 percent of the cars it sells in North America will have Wi-Fi built in. The same article cites a host of other manufacturers worldwide that either offer Wi-Fi in some high-end vehicles or belong to standards organizations that are trying to develop recommendations for automotive Wi-Fi.

Two Wi-Fi-equipped cars sitting at a stoplight could exchange information free of charge, but if they wanted to send that information to the Internet, they’d probably have to use a paid service such as the cell network or a satellite system. At the ACM SIGACT-SIGOPS Symposium on Principles of Distributed Computing, taking place this month in Portugal, researchers from MIT, Georgetown University and the National University of Singapore (NUS) will present a new algorithm that would allow Wi-Fi-connected cars to share their Internet connections. “In this setting, we’re assuming that Wi-Fi is cheap, but 3G is expensive,” says Alejandro Cornejo, a graduate student in electrical engineering and computer science at MIT and lead author on the paper. Continue reading this article on MITnews.

August 16, 2012

GWAMIT Mentoring Program Mentee Application is OPEN!

Are you a female graduate student looking for some direction from a mentor on campus? The GWAMIT Mentoring Program is now accepting applications from women graduate students interested in being mentored by a female faculty/alum! Mentorship can be sought for a variety of areas ranging from careers to personal matters. Mentees will be responsible for meeting with their mentor each month for a minimum of one hour and attending beginning and ending socials. If you are interested in this great opportunity, please submit your application using this form by August 19th! Spots may be limited, so sign up as soon as possible. For more information, please contact Xuwen at or Ricarose at

August 15, 2012

Eric Price Awarded Simons Foundation Graduate Fellowship in Theoretical Computer Science

Graduate student Eric Price has recently been awarded a new fellowship: the Simons Foundation Graduate Fellowship in Theoretical Computer Science. Price is a third-year Ph.D. student in MIT CSAIL and is interested in algorithms. The Office of the Dean of Graduate Education nominated a single student to Simons after hosting an internal competition. The new Simons fellowship includes two years of support, and will eventually grow to fund 10 students annually (choosing 5 new students each year). Please see the Simons Foundation Fellowships page for more information.

August 14, 2012

Black and Team Puzzle Over River Networks on Titan

For many years, Titan’s thick, methane- and nitrogen-rich atmosphere kept astronomers from seeing what lies beneath. Saturn’s largest moon appeared through telescopes as a hazy orange orb, in contrast to other heavily cratered moons in the solar system. In 2004, the Cassini-Huygens spacecraft — a probe that flies by Titan as it orbits Saturn — penetrated Titan’s haze, providing scientists with their first detailed images of the surface. Radar images revealed an icy terrain carved out over millions of years by rivers of liquid methane, similar to how rivers of water have etched into Earth’s rocky continents. Read more on MITnews.

August 13, 2012

Don’t Blow Your Cover Letter

Search committees often place a great deal of importance on cover letters when they’re reviewing candidates, but I’ve yet to meet a job seeker who has received much training or mentoring on how to write one. So what differentiates good cover letters from weak ones? I’m sure readers of The Chronicle have a lot of wisdom to share on this topic, but here are a few suggestions to get things started. Read these suggestions by Katharine E. Stewart at The Chronicle. Photo by KayVee.INC 

August 10, 2012

MIT Fall Career Fair: Sept 21, 2012

Are you looking for a full-time job or summer internship? Do you want to meet representatives from over 300 companies and have your resume accessible by all of them? Then register today for the MIT Fall Career Fair, the largest recruiting event of the fall semester! It will take place in the Johnson Athletic Center on September 21st. Simply submit your profile and upload your resume at Career Fair @ MIT. Companies are already asking for access to the resume database, so don’t delay! Contact with any questions.

August 9, 2012

Sanchis-Ojeda Leads Research on First Exoplanetary System

Our solar system exhibits a remarkably orderly configuration: The eight planets orbit the sun much like runners on a track, circling in their respective lanes and always keeping within the same sprawling plane. In contrast, most exoplanets discovered in recent years — particularly the giants known as “hot Jupiters” — inhabit far more eccentric orbits. Now researchers at MIT, the University of California at Santa Cruz and other institutions have detected the first exoplanetary system, 10,000 light-years away, with regularly aligned orbits similar to those in our solar system. At the center of this faraway system is Kepler-30, a star as bright and massive as the sun. After analyzing data from NASA’s Kepler space telescope, the MIT scientists and their colleagues discovered that the star — much like the sun — rotates around a vertical axis and its three planets have orbits that are all in the same plane. Read more about this research on MITnews.

August 8, 2012

MIT Cycling Team Rides to (Another) National Championship

The MIT Cycling Team, made up of undergraduate and graduate students from MIT, began  the road-racing season with a week-long training camp in Borrego Springs, California. In May, the team found themselves on the top step of the podium at the USA Cycling Collegiate Road National Championships in Ogden, Utah. This has been one of the most successful racing seasons in the history of the club, built on the successes both on and off the road for the past several years. MIT was well-represented in all races and categories at each of the nine Eastern Collegiate Cycling Conference weekends. Thirty-seven individuals raced for the team from freshmen to graduate students and ten riders were selected to race in the National Championship event: Katie Quinn, Yuri Matsumoto, Chris Birch, Laura Ralston, Adam Bry, Spencer Schaber, Zach Ulissi, Andrew Lysaght, Sebastien Gauthier and Joe Near.  To find out more details about the riders’  accomplishments, please read the original article on the MITnews website.

August 7, 2012

Winstein is Lead Developer of Mosh, Remote-Login Program

The Secure Shell, or SSH, is a popular program that lets computer users log onto remote machines. Software developers use it for large collaborative projects, students use it to work from university servers, customers of commercial cloud-computing services use it access their accounts, and system administrators use it to manage computers on their networks. First released in 1995, SSH was designed for an Internet consisting of stationary machines, and it hasn’t evolved with the mobile Internet. Among other problems, it can’t handle roaming: If you close your laptop at the office and reopen it at home, your SSH session will have died; the same goes for an SSH session on a tablet computer that switches from a Wi-Fi connection to the cellular network. Read more of this article on MITnews.

August 6, 2012

“Dear Sir”: Dealing with Micro-inequalities

I am often asked by other female academics whether—and how—they should respond to the “micro-inequities” that many of us face in our professional lives. Should we object to each and every sexist remark and demeaning incident? Or should we just let them pass because it is too exhausting to respond every single time, and doing so might do more harm than good? Read more of this article by Female Science Professor at The Chronicle.

August 3, 2012

Ragan-Kelley and Team Make Writing Graphics Software Easy

Image-processing software is a hot commodity: Just look at Instagram, a company built around image processing that Facebook is trying to buy for a billion dollars. Image processing is also going mobile, as more and more people are sending cellphone photos directly to the Web, without transferring them to a computer first. At the same time, digital-photo files are getting so big that, without a lot of clever software engineering, processing them would take a painfully long time on a desktop computer, let alone a cellphone. Unfortunately, the tricks that engineers use to speed up their image-processing algorithms make their code almost unreadable, and rarely reusable. Adding a new function to an image-processing program, or modifying it to run on a different device, often requires rethinking and revising it from top to bottom. Read more on MITnews.

August 2, 2012

Mentor an Incoming Graduate Student! Mixer on August 31

Would you like to mentor an incoming graduate student? Are you interested in helping new students in getting up to speed on life, tips and opportunities around Boston and MIT? The Graduate Student Council and MIT’s Alumni Association are pairing up MIT alums and current graduate students with incoming international students in order to help facilitate a smooth transition. The Mentorship Mixer will take place on Friday, August 31 at 6:00pm in Morss Hall. There will be international food and cultural performances! Please sign up by August 15 at this link, or email Francesco ( or Kevin ( if you need help accessing the form or have any questions.

August 1, 2012

Have You Tried Being Likeable?

Last weekend, my local public-radio station ran a 2009 interview with Don Sobol, author of the Encyclopedia Brown series. Sobol talked about his 10-year-old mystery-solving main character and said that one of his most important tasks was making a really smart kid likeable to his readers. That caught my attention because I am constantly on the prowl for strategies to help really smart grownups be likable. Read more of this article by Allison M. Vaillancourt at The Chronicle.

Also, read her follow-up post, What Does Likeable Look Like?