Monthly Archives: September 2012

September 28, 2012

Submit a Health & Wellness Article for The Graduate by Oct 15

The second GSN issue of the academic school year will be entitled ”Health & Wellness,” to be released sometime in mid-November.  The Graduate encourages writers to submit an article about health and wellness issues, about living a healthier and more balanced life at MIT.  If your article is chosen for publication, you will receive a $15 gift card.  The article must be around 500 words; an accompanied photo is encouraged to be submitted along with the article.  Please note that the deadline for submission is Monday, October 15th, 2012.  More details, including submissions suggestions, are available here.  Contact the GSN editor ( for more information and to submit your article.

September 28, 2012

Applications for Lemelson-MIT Student Prize Due November 30

The application for the 2013 $30,000 Lemelson-MIT Student Prize is open until Friday, November 30th, 2012.  Individual inventors and/or key contributors to a team project, or who have otherwise demonstrated a portfolio of inventiveness, are encouraged to apply.  Applicants become a part of a cohort, benefiting from events, networking, and other opportunities.  In addition to monetary support, winners (and up to two finalists) gain national media attention, enabling them to further develop their ideas and/or entrepreneurial ventures.  Eligibility information is available here.  For more information, contact Shannon O’Brien at or (617) 258-5798.

September 27, 2012

Path of Professorship deadline extended to Oct. 4!

The Office of the Dean of Graduate Education has opened this year’s application for the Path of Professorship workshop.  This workshop is designed to provide graduate and post-doctoral women with information about academic scientific careers and the application process.  Path of Professorship will run from Friday, October 26th, 2012 at 1:00pm through Saturday, October 27th, 2012 at 5:00pm and cover topics ranging from “What Institution is Right for You?” to “The Tenure Process.”  For more information, visit the Path of Professorship webpage.  The application for Path of Professorship will close on Thursday, October 4th, 2012; selected applicants will be notified shortly thereafter.  The ODGE strongly encourages all women with an interest in academia to apply.

September 27, 2012

We Met in Graduate School

I had never considered Kenny Loggins an instigator of reflection until I watched several generations of academics and their relatives gyrate to “Footloose” at a recent wedding reception. My wife and I, American historians and tenured at the University of Notre Dame, bounced vigorously on arthritic knees and rickety ankles, glad that the music hid our creaks. Next to us, several twenty-somethings boogied with a fervor born of cake, beer, and the special innocence that comes from not having been alive when people actually danced to “Footloose” with a straight face. My 8-year-old daughter completed the age-group tableau, pinballing through the crowd doing twirls and a move that resembled an impact lawn sprinkler. My thought? In an atmosphere of extreme peril for those seeking academic employment, two of my graduate students had gone and upped the level of difficulty by getting married. To read the rest of Coleman’s article, visit The Chronicle of Higher Education.

September 26, 2012

“Border Crossing: Citizenship, Race, and Gender” Symposium on Oct. 13-14

“Border Crossing: Citizenship, Race, and Gender,” a two-day interdisciplinary symposium, will be taking place on October 12th-13th, 2012 in the Stata Center in MIT (Building 32, Room D-461; 32 Vassar Street, Cambridge).  Panels begin at 10:00am, and keynotes begin at 4:00pm.  The event is free and open to the public. The Borders Research Initiative in Women and Gender Studies at MIT brings together an interdisciplinary group of MIT faculty in the humanities, arts and social sciences as well as experts from outside the academy (including lawyers, activists, and artists) in order to examine issues of border-crossing and citizenship, especially as they intersect with gender, sexuality, race, ethnicity, class and religion. This initiative seeks to understand national borders and border crossings in historical perspective, in order to explore how concepts of citizenship, identity, gender and race have evolved over time, and to gain clarity on the contemporary manifestations of these issues. For more information, including the list of panelists and events, visit or email

September 26, 2012

Rishabh Jain Lead Author on All-Carbon Solar Cell Paper

About 40 percent of the solar energy reaching Earth’s surface lies in the near-infrared region of the spectrum — energy that conventional silicon-based solar cells are unable to harness. But a new kind of all-carbon solar cell developed by MIT researchers could tap into that unused energy, opening up the possibility of combination solar cells — incorporating both traditional silicon-based cells and the new all-carbon cells — that could make use of almost the entire range of sunlight’s energy. “It’s a fundamentally new kind of photovoltaic cell,” says Michael Strano, the Charles and Hilda Roddey Professor of Chemical Engineering at MIT and senior author of a paper describing the new device that is being published this month in the journal Advanced Materials. Read more of this article at MITnews.

September 25, 2012

Making Peace with Food and Body Image Fall 2012

MIT Medical is hosting a group devoted to talking about eating concerns and pressures like body dissatisfaction, “free food” on campus, and stress eating.  The group provides education, support, and practical strategies to manage food and body stress.  This is a 10 week group led by Zan Barry and Audra Bartz that meets on Fridays from 3:30pm to 5:00pm at MIT Medical.  For more information, contact Zan at

September 25, 2012

Got an Embedded Design? Compete in the Cornell Cup USA!

Would you like a chance to prove your innovative embedded design ideas on a national venue? Cornell Cup USA, presented by Intel, is a very open competition to design, build and demonstrate your greatest invention ideas. The competition is open to both Undergraduate and Masters students, forming teams of 3-5 students in either engineering or computer science, with at least one faculty advisor from your university. The project is designed to highlight the professional design process that leads to an innovative end product. Significant support is made available to all teams who apply and are accepted to the final round of the competition.  The deadline to apply is Wednesday, October 17th, 2012.  Approximately 20 teams will be accepted to the final round where they well get free HW, access to Intel and Cornell technical support, $2500 cash,  and an invitation to the final event on May 3-4, 2013 at Walt Disney World.  The grand prize is $10,000.  For more information, visit the Cornell Cup USA website and fill out the Team Interest Form.

September 24, 2012

Siebel Scholars Foundation announces 2013 Scholars

The Siebel Scholars Foundation recently announced the recipients of the annual Siebel Scholars awards.  The Siebel Scholars program recognizes the most talented students at the world’s leading graduate schools of business, bioengineering, and computer science.  Today, nearly 800 Siebel Scholars are active in a program that nurtures leadership, academic achievement, and the collaborative search for solutions to the world’s most pressing problems.  This year’s honorees are: Senthil Balasubramanian, MBA ’13; Sriram Emani, MBA ’13; Matthew Kasenga, LGO ’13; Elena Schrum, MBA ’13; and Adina Taylor, MBA ’13 (MIT Sloan School of Management), and Francisco Felijó Delgado, Peter DeMuth, Stephen Goldfless, Miles Miller, Yvonne Joy Yamanaka, Rachel Chasin, Ningren Han, Anirudha Majumdar, Rohit Singh, and Tao Yu (MIT School of Engineering).  The 2012 Siebel Scholars conference will be held October 12-14, at the University of California, Berkeley, to debate the root causes of class conflict, social, and economic trends fueling disparities in income among other topics.  Read the rest of this article on News@MITSloan.

September 24, 2012

Interested in Research Outside Your Area? Check out DUET Sept. 27

The first lecture of the Dean of Undergraduate Education Talks (DUET) is scheduled for Thursday, September 27th, 2012 from 4:00pm to 5:00pm in 13-2137.  DUET is a monthly series emphasizing current research on learning, cognitive psychology, educational technology, machine learning, neuroscience, and educational assessment, among other topics.  DUET’s goal is to provide the MIT community with the latest research in education and to contribute to efforts to enhance student learning both in residence and online.  It’s an excellent opportunity to hear from research groups outside your area! Pawan Sinha (Professor of Vision and Computational Neuroscience in the Department of Brain and Cognitive Sciences at MIT) will be giving this lecture, titled “Learning to See Late in Life,” discussing ‘Project Prakash’ (Sanskrit for ‘light’), an effort to provide sight-restoring surgeries to congenitally blind children as well as the studies conducted on their subsequent progress to derive clues about brain plasticity and learning mechanisms.  photo by Ed Quinn

September 21, 2012

Location, Location, Location

I still remember the post office where I made the biggest mistake of my life. In the fall of 1996, I stood in its outer room holding a manila envelope in my hand, shifting it from hand to hand. To mail or not to mail? That was the question. It was my second year on the academic job market, and although I had been fortunate enough to obtain a postdoctoral fellowship my first year out, I knew how rare it was to find a job ad that fit you. But this one clearly described me: It was seeking a Ph.D. in British history who could also teach the history of science, with a preference for a medical historian who specialized in women’s history. What were the odds of my ever seeing a job ad like that again in my lifetime? Read the rest of the article in The Chronicle of Higher Education photo by Brian Taylor

September 21, 2012

MIT President Reif to hold office hours and listening tour

Starting in October, MIT President L. Rafael Reif will set aside two hours each month for 15-minute meetings with any member of the MIT community.  Interested members of the MIT community can submit their name, email address, phone number and topic through a sign-up form.  Dr. Reif has also scheduled a dozen open sessions to meet with groups of faculty in all five Schools and is in the process of identifying other opportunities to meet, formally and informally, with students and staff.  Additional information regarding these listening activities can be found at

September 20, 2012

2012 Great Glass Pumpkin Patch @ MIT on Sept. 29

The 2012 Great Glass Pumpkin Patch @ MIT will feature 2,000 hand-blown glass pumpkins on Kresge Oval, MIT.  Proceeds from this event benefit the MIT Glass Lab, where the MIT community can learn and practice the art of glassblowing.  The preview date is Friday, September 28th, 2012 from 5:00pm to 8:00pm; pumpkins will not be avaliable for sale until Saturday, September 29th, 2012 starting at 10:00am and going on till 3:00pm.  The rain date is Sunday, September 30th, 2012 from 10:00am to 3:00pm.  Visit the website here.

September 20, 2012

Diane Baer and Andres Cubillos of Microbiology Receive HHMI Fellowship

Two MIT doctoral students in Microbiology nominated by the ODGE, Andres Cubillos and Diane Baer, were among 50 students from 25 different research institutions and from 19 countries chosen to receive the International Student Research Fellowship from the Howard Hughes Medical Institute (HHMI).  The HHMI International Student Research Fellowship is highly competitive and supports doctoral students in their 3rd, 4th, and 5th year of graduate school.  Read the HHMI press release here.

September 19, 2012

Enhance Student Life! Apply for a GSLG by Oct. 26

The Graduate Student Life Grants program invites graduate students, spouses, faculty, or staff to submit creative, community building ideas for possible funding.  The program encourages you to apply for funds, especially in collaboration with other students or student groups.  Proposals may address a specific constituency such as families; they may cross departments or focus within a discipline; they may target several residence halls, or a variety of student groups.  Their purpose should be to explore the role and relevance of community in creating a more balanced and fulfilling graduate experience.  Previous successful grants include Weekly Wednesdays at the Muddy Charles, Greek Cooking Class, Science Policy Bootcamp, the FamilyNet website, and “An Evening with Tom Chapin.”  The application deadline is midnight on Friday, October 26, 2012.  Proposal authors will have the opportunity to answer any questions from the selection panel; funds will be released after December 7, 2012. For more information, visit

September 19, 2012

Get Your Flu Shot Sept 28 and Oct 11!

MIT Medical is offering walk-in flu shots for adults and MIT Students on Friday, September 28 and Thursday, October 11, as well as to children and families by appointment on Tuesdays & Wednesdays, October 1 through November 30.  Walk-ins must bring their MIT ID card and insurance card to the MIT Student Center, 3rd Floor, between 10:00am and 4:00pm.  Walk-in flu shots are available to MIT Medical patients, all MIT employees, MIT students, and retirees, while appointment-based flu shots are available to MIT Medical pediatric patients ages 6 months and older and their parents and siblings (call 617-253-4865).  For full details, visit

September 18, 2012

Yuchun Guo is deciphering the language of transcription factors

The leading method for determining how transcription factors behave in living cells is to chop up the DNA from millions of cells and use protein antibodies to extract the fragments that have a particular transcription factor attached to them. While the DNA sequence that a transcription factor binds to consists of only about six to 12 DNA letters, the fragment extracted by the antibody could be a couple of hundred letters long. Sequencing the fragments can determine where in the genome they came from, but it offers little information about where on the fragment the transcription factor is attached.

David Gifford, a professor of electrical engineering and computer science and director of the Computational Genomics Group, his graduate student Yuchun Guo, and Shaun Mahony, a research scientist in the group, developed a new algorithm for analyzing millions of experimentally identified fragments and inferring the precise locations at which transcription factors bind to them. The rest of the article is available on MIT news.

September 18, 2012

A love letter to MIT

I received my bachelor’s from Wellesley College (‘06), master’s from Boston University (‘08), master’s from Harvard University (‘08), and will be receiving my doctorate from Harvard; but it’s you, MIT, that has made the biggest impact on my life — academically, socially, and personally. And for that, I love you. You have succeeded in making a positive impact not just on your immediate family members, but you have touched the lives of people who are only a mere part of your extended network. You made yourself an open playground. Literally, your buildings are always open. You can easily find an open classroom for students and friends to gather to brainstorm startup ideas. This is quite different from Harvard where even if you are a student, you are often met with locked doors…  To continue reading this opinion piece by Debbie Liu, a graduate student at Harvard University, go to The Tech Online Edition.

September 18, 2012

Cohen-Tanugi and Prof Find A New Approach to Water Desalination

The availability of fresh water is dwindling in many parts of the world, a problem that is expected to grow with populations. One promising source of potable water is the world’s virtually limitless supply of seawater, but so far desalination technology has been too expensive for widespread use. Now, MIT researchers have come up with a new approach using a different kind of filtration material: sheets of graphene, a one-atom-thick form of the element carbon, which they say can be far more efficient and possibly less expensive than existing desalination systems. Read more of this article on MITnews.

September 17, 2012

Around the Dome Campus Quest on Sept. 22

The Around the Dome Campus Quest scavenger hunt will take place this Saturday, September 22nd, 2012 from 11:30am to 1:00pm beginning at the Kresge Oval.  Participants should create teams of around three to eight people and will be able to test their knowledge of MIT lore, debunk MIT urban legends, explore new parts of the campus, and complete some fun challenges.  The team leader should have a fully charged smartphone the day of the quest because this event will be using the SCVNGR app to play.  Afterwards, there will be a Global BBQ starting at 1:00pm.  There will be food, live music, and various activities to partake in, and at 2:00pm, the Campus Quest winners will be announced.  Register here.

September 17, 2012

Reading by Junot Díaz on Sept. 27

Pulitzer Prize-winning author and MIT Creative Writing Professor Junot Díaz will be reading from his new book This is How You Lose Her, which O Magazine says “Exhibits the potent blend of literary eloquence and street cred that earned him a Pulizer Prize … Díaz’s prose is vulgar, brave, and poetic.”  Born in Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic, Díaz was raised in New Jersey.  A graduate of Rutgers College, he is the author of Drown and The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao which won the John Sargent Sr. First Novel Prize, the National Book Critics Circle Award, the Anisfield-Wolf Book Award, the Dayton Literary Peace Prize and the 2008 Pulitzer Prize. He is currently the fiction editor at the Boston Review and the Rudge (1948) and Nancy Allen professor at MIT. The reading will take place on September 27th, 2012, at 7:30pm in the MIT Stata Center (32-123); this event is free and open to the public, with a reception and book signing to follow.

September 14, 2012

MIT ranks as #1 university in the world

Cambridge has lost its place as the number one ranking university in the world, with the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), the US university that specialises in science and technology, taking over the top slot. MIT came first, while Cambridge, which topped the list in 2011, came second and Harvard third in the QS World University Rankings, published on Tuesday. The QS table is based on measures of research quality, graduate employability, teaching and how international the faculties and student bodies are. To read the rest of the article, visit The Guardian.  To read more coverage of this story, visit Business Insider or BostInno.

September 13, 2012

Alec Rivers and Colleagues Develop Precision Router

Anyone who has tried to build a piece of furniture from scratch knows the frustration of painstakingly cutting pieces of wood, only to discover that they won’t fit together because the cutting was not quite accurate enough. That’s exactly what happened to Alec Rivers, a PhD student in the Department of Electrical Engineering and Computer Science (EECS), when he attempted to build a simple picture frame using woodworking equipment he had inherited from his grandfather. Despite measuring and aligning his tools as best he could by hand, Rivers found that he could not produce shapes with enough precision to make them all fit together. “I was getting incredibly frustrated, because just as with any home project I would cut things out and they would look about right, but none of the pieces would line up,” Rivers says. Read more of this article on MITnews.

September 12, 2012

Minding Your Manners for the Conference Interview

It was a heady time for a graduate student at his national conference as he rushed from one job interview to another. Late to one and out of breath, he quickly began his introductory talking points: how he was just the right fit for the position, the department, and the university. The members of the search committee sat in silence until the student paused, allowing one of them to interject politely: “I think you’re in the wrong room. You’ve been talking about another school.” Read the rest of David D. Perlmutter’s article in The Chronicle of Higher EducationPhoto by Brian Taylor.

September 12, 2012

Sarah Stewart Johnson Explores New Worlds

During her final year in the Department of Atmospheric and Planetary Science at MIT, Sarah Stewart Johnson received the 2008 Hugh Hampton Young Fellowship. The fellowship opened her opportunities during graduate studies, giving her time to take on a side pursuit: Johnson joined the Energy and Environment Advisory Committee for the Obama ’08 campaign. When Obama won the election, this led to a position as a policy analyst with the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy. Her time in public service gave her a different sense of her future career path than she would have had otherwise, she says. Read more at MIT News.

September 11, 2012

Autonomous Robotic Plane Flies Indoors

For decades, academic and industry researchers have been working on control algorithms for autonomous helicopters — robotic helicopters that pilot themselves, rather than requiring remote human guidance. Dozens of research teams have competed in a series of autonomous-helicopter challenges posed by the Association for Unmanned Vehicle Systems International (AUVSI); progress has been so rapid that the last two challenges have involved indoor navigation without the use of GPS. But MIT’s Robust Robotics Group — which fielded the team that won the last AUVSI contest — has set itself an even tougher challenge: developing autonomous-control algorithms for the indoor flight of GPS-denied airplanes. At the 2011 International Conference on Robotics and Automation (ICRA), a team of researchers from the group described an algorithm for calculating a plane’s trajectory; in 2012, at the same conference, they presented an algorithm for determining its “state” — its location, physical orientation, velocity and acceleration. Read more at MITnews.

September 10, 2012

“What’s at Stake? Economic Issues in the 2012 Presidential Election” Event with Prof. Romer on Sept. 13th

The MIT Sidney Pacific / Presidential Distinguished Lecture Series is hosting the event “What’s at Stake? Economic Issues in the 2012 Presidential Election,” a lecture and dinner with Professor Christina Romer (MIT PhD ’85, former chair of President Barack Obama’s Council of Economic Advisers, currently Professor of Economics at the University of California, Berkeley and co-director of the Program in Monetary Economics at the National Bureau of Economic Research) on Thursday, September 13th, at 6:00pm in the Multipurpose Room of Sydney Pacific (the lecture begins at 6:30pm).  If you are planning to attend both the lecture and dinner, you need to RSVP here (those only attending the lecture do not have to RSVP).  She will speak on the current state of the American economy, and the important economic policy issues facing the country in the upcoming election.  You can read more about Christina Romer in The Economist here and here.

September 7, 2012

One-Molecule-Thick Material has Big Advantages

The discovery of graphene, a material just one atom thick and possessing exceptional strength and other novel properties, started an avalanche of research around its use for everything from electronics to optics to structural materials. But new research suggests that was just the beginning: A whole family of two-dimensional materials may open up even broader possibilities for applications that could change many aspects of modern life. The latest “new” material, molybdenum disulfide (MoS2) — which has actually been used for decades, but not in its 2-D form — was first described just a year ago by researchers in Switzerland. But in that year, researchers at MIT — who struggled for several years to build electronic circuits out of graphene with very limited results (except for radio-frequency applications) — have already succeeded in making a variety of electronic components from MoS2.  Read more on MITnews!

September 6, 2012

Have an opinion? PTAC wants to hear it!

The Presidential Transition Advisory Cabinet (PTAC), made up of students from around the Institute, has been charged with providing the student persepective to MIT’s 17th President, L. Rafael Reif, as he develops a vision for the Institute’s future; to do this, the PTAC needs to hear from students.  The PTAC will cover several topics during its 6-month process, the first being the MIT educational experience.  To collect student input, the PTAC has created a concise, accessible, and anonymous form for students to complete at (under “Feedback”) and are also committed to holding one-on-one meetings with any student at MIT that wants to share their perspective (further details can be found on the website).  Photo by Dominick Reuter

September 5, 2012

Jennifer Apell Wins First Place in Earth Day Challenge

Earth Day has been reinvented at MIT. The Institute has a long history of Earth Day fairs, film series, colloquia, and other activities designed to celebrate the day and spread information about energy and the environment. This year marked a shift from providing information to providing an organized program to motivate green action within the MIT community with the pilot of the MIT Earth Day Challenge. MIT students and staff participated in the Challenge to “take action, earn points, and win prizes”.

Between April 1 and April 25, nearly 100 participants engaged in 151 individual green actions. Participation in the pilot program surpassed the Challenge organizers’ expectations and established an excellent foundation for future Earth Days. Read about the winners on MITnews.

September 4, 2012

Chookajorn and Murdoch on Stable Nanocrystalline Metals

Most metals — from the steel used to build bridges and skyscrapers to the copper and gold used to form wires in microchips — are made of crystals: orderly arrays of molecules forming a perfectly repeating pattern. In many cases, including the examples above, the material is made of tiny crystals packed closely together, rather than one large crystal. Indeed, for many purposes, making the crystals as small as possible provides significant advantages in performance, but such materials are often unstable: The crystals tend to merge and grow larger if subjected to heat or stress. Now, MIT researchers have found a way to avoid that problem. They’ve designed and made alloys that form extremely tiny grains — called nanocrystals — that are only a few billionths of a meter across. These alloys retain their nanocrystalline structure even in the face of high heat. Read more on MITnews.

September 3, 2012

Celebrate the Inauguration of L. Rafael Reif on September 21!

The Corporation and Faculty of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology are proud to celebrate the inauguration of L. Rafael Reif as the Seventeenth President of MIT. We hope that you will join the celebration, which includes academic symposia September 19-21  in Kresge Auditorium as well as the inauguration ceremony on September 21st at 2:30PM in Killian Court. All are invited to these events; no tickets will be required. Dean Christine Ortiz will Chair a session on “MIT and On-Campus Education” at 10:30am on Friday morning, which will include remarks on MIT culture, fostering future leaders, and what’s happening to the lecture as a teaching tool. At the inauguration Friday afternoon, participants will hear greetings from the Academy, Professor Reif’s inaugural address, and music composed by MIT professors for the occasion. Senior Associate Dean Blanche Staton of the ODGE will Marshal staff colleagues (including Dean Ortiz and other members of the ODGE) with Eric Evans of Lincoln Laboratory in the Inaugural Procession. The ceremony will be immediately followed by a reception for the whole community.