Monthly Archives: December 2012

December 27, 2012

Danielle Guichard-Ashbrook presents at NAFSA Conference

Danielle Guichard-Ashbrook, MIT Director of the International Students Office and Associate Dean for Graduate Education, presented at the NAFSA Association of International Educators Regional XI Conference on “Guiding Internationalization” on November 14th in Portland, Maine. Her presentation, titled “Entrepreneurs, Investors & Inventors- How Can They stay in the U.S.?” explored the different options international citizens have to seek employment, education, and business opportunities in the United States. Director Guichard-Ashbrook presented along with Richard L. Iandoli and Madeline Choi Cronin of Iandoli, Desai, and Associates.

December 21, 2012

SDM student establishes MIT’s first mining club

Shortly after Juan Esteban Montero began MIT’s System Design and Management program (SDM) last January, he looked for students who shared his passion for the natural resources industry. Seeking out ways to meet other MIT students interested in mining led Montero to create MIT’s Mining, Oil, and Gas Club (MOG). “The club is doing very well thanks to a great group of leaders. We started with just five students from MIT Sloan and mechanical engineering and now have 120 members from all five schools at MIT,” Montero said. “We started with small events and then created a lecture series to bring experts to campus. Many MIT students are now learning about the challenges of the natural resources industries and at the same time, these industries are interested in the projects and research MIT students are working on.” Continue reading the article on News@MITSloan.

December 19, 2012

From Advisee to Peer

A friend of mine and I were talking today about what it’s like to be newly minted Ph.D.’s, working on our first jobs. We became more independent of our Ph.D. advisers throughout graduate school and the postdoc period, but we’re curious about what comes next. We’re both still involved with them in co-authored projects. However it feels a little odd since we’re more like peers with our advisers now than we were as graduate students.

What does it mean to be more equal? Do we play different roles? What’s the norm, and how big is the range? It used to be that we had “a right” to demand our advisers’ time since we were paying students. Do we have those same privileges now? Continue reading the article in The Chronicle of Higher Educationphoto by Mark Shaver

December 18, 2012

Bryant and Collins receive EPA Research Fellowships

Jessica Bryant, graduate student in marine sciences, and James Collins, graduate student in oceanography, have received research fellowships from the United States Environmental Protection Agency.  Both were awarded 2012 Science to Achieve Results, or STAR, fellowships.  These fellowships encourage leadership in environmental science, research, restoration, pollution prevention and sustainability.  Bryant’s research involves interactions between plastic debris, persistent organic pollutants and microorganisms in ocean surface waters.  Collins’s researched is focused on characterizing the transformation & metabolism of anthropogenic organic matter in estuaries using intact polar lipids.

December 18, 2012

Write an article for The Graduate on finances by Jan. 11

The Graduate is looking for article submissions for its next issue, “FINANCES,” that provide tips to help graduate students deal with the financial difficulties that come with being a graduate student.  The Graduate staff will give a $15 gift card to the author of an article the staff chooses to publish.  Articles must be around 600 words, and if possible, an accompanying photo should be submitted as well.  The deadline for submissions is Friday, January 11th, 2013.  Visit the GSC website for more information.  Email with questions and submissions.

December 17, 2012

In the Thick of It: Searching for a Job

I remember September. I recall staring at the postings on H-Net and bemoaning the absence of jobs. Now it’s November, and oh, how I long for September. My friends who went on the market last year complained about applying to 60 or more jobs, but by late August I could count only 15 or so that I could reasonably convince myself were suitable—not because the others were too far away, or the teaching load was too heavy, but because I couldn’t conceive of any way to assert that I was a good candidate. Where, I wondered, would those many additional job ads come from? The month of October, that’s where. Readers, life has been busy. Read more about Eunice William’s search for a job in The Chronicle of Higher Educationphoto by Brian Taylor

December 17, 2012


Our hearts and thoughts are with Newtown

The ODGE joins a virtual candlelight vigil for the families and loved ones of those affected by the tragedy in Newtown, Connecticut. Our hearts and thoughts are with you. Let’s come together and reach out to those around us who may need consolation and support. The following are recommended resources for graduate students:

MIT Medical

Office of the Dean for Graduate Education (ODGE)
RM 3-138, (617) 253-4860

Chaplains at MIT

December 17, 2012

Register for the 2013 Institute Diversity Summit

The 2013 Institute Diversity Summit will take place on Wednesday, January 30, 2013 from 8:30am to 4:00pm in various places on campus.  The Summit, a collaboration among faculty, students, and staff, will be an opportunity to hear perspectives from various members of the MIT community, as well as leaders beyond MIT.  Come to learn and discuss this year’s theme, “Meritocracy and Inclusion at MIT: Principles or Practice.”  Online registration is available until January 23, 2013.  Walk-ins are welcome on a space-available basis.  Advance registration is strongly encouraged.  Registration includes all sessions on Wednesday, January 30; lunch; coffee breaks; and any meeting materials, as well as a couple networking sessions.  Register here.


December 15, 2012

James Ankrum is Taking Inspiration from a Porcupine’s Quills

Anyone unfortunate enough to encounter a porcupine’s quills knows that once they go in, they are extremely difficult to remove. Researchers at MIT and Brigham and Women’s Hospital now hope to exploit the porcupine quill’s unique properties to develop new types of adhesives, needles and other medical devices.

To explore the possibility of making stronger adhesives, the researchers created a patch with an array of barbed quills on one side. They found that the energy required to remove this patch was 30 times greater than that needed for a control patch, which had quills but no barbs.

The system could also be tweaked so that it penetrates tissue easily but is not as difficult to remove as a porcupine quill, enabling design of less-painful needles for injections. “If you can still create the stress concentrations but without having a barb that catches tissue on removal, potentially you could create something with just easy insertion, without the adhesion,” says James Ankrum, a graduate student in HST, an author of the paper, and a Hugh Hampton Young fellow. Read the article on Science Daily.

December 14, 2012

Present at the Cambridge Science Festival! Submit by Dec. 16

The Cambridge Science Festival is April 12th through 21st, 2013, ten days of hundreds of events engaging the public around science, technology, engineering, and math.  The Science Festival is looking for engaging lectures, performances, games, activities for families, exhibits, tours, debates, workshops, or creative new ideas.  If you would like to provide one of the mentioned activities, sign up your idea here to help out with STEM outreach in the community and learn how best to communicate your science to the public.  Larger events looking for activities and demonstrations are: Carnival of the Sciences, Robot Zoo, Science of Sports, Rocket Day, and Earth Day.  Contact Sung Kim ( with questions and/or ideas!  The deadline for initial proposals is December 16th, 2012.

December 14, 2012

Ashdown Brunch on Dec. 16

Enjoy pancakes, chocolate croissants, sausages, scrambled eggs, bread & cheese, French toast, yogurt & granola, home fries and fruits at the Ashdown Brunch on Sunday, December 16th, 2012, from 12:00pm to 2:00pm in Hulsizer Room, Ashdown House (NW35).  Please bring your own plates and eating utensils.  Also, contact if you would like to volunteer.  This event is sponsored by the ODGE, Ashdown House and GradRat, who will also be present at the brunch.

December 13, 2012

Winter Sweets, Hot Cider, and Good Cheer – “Winter Break” on Dec 13

To celebrate the semester’s end and the start of the holiday season, come to “Winter Break,” a community event with delicious refreshments and live music.  “Winter Break” will take place on Thursday, December 13th, 2012, from 1:30pm to 3:00pm in Walker Memorial, Building 50.

December 13, 2012

MIT presents Kendall Square zoning concepts to Cambridge Planning Board

Last Tuesday night, MIT officials presented a preview of the Institute’s rezoning petition for the redevelopment of Kendall Square to members of the Cambridge Planning Board, who responded very favorably. The meeting was attended by members of the MIT administration and faculty. Since this summer, MIT Provost Chris Kaiser has sought faculty input on MIT’s Kendall Square proposal through a task force whose report Kaiser made public in October. The report recommended that MIT file a rezoning petition — but also that it address faculty concerns about the plans for development.

“It is very important to all of us at MIT involved with plans around Kendall Square — whether we serve on the faculty or the central administration or work for the MIT Investment Management Company — that we make clear that our work is by and for our entire community,” Kaiser said. “This planning is designed to serve ‘One MIT,’ as well as our neighbors in Cambridge.” Read the rest of the article on MIT newsimage by Elkus Manfredi Architects

December 13, 2012

Pet a Puppy on Dec. 14!

Petting a puppy is a great way to suppress stress, and now, you’ll be able to do it yourself.  In acknowledgement of ENGINEERyourHEALTH Suppress Stress month, come pet a furry friend on Friday, December 14th, 2012 from 3:00pm to 7:00pm in Zesiger Center Lobby.  Contact for more information.

December 12, 2012

Dressed for success − in her own line of clothes

Growing up, Aminata Kane, MBA ’13, listened to her mother’s advice. Her mother, an entrepreneur, encouraged Kane to follow her passion, take risks, and start her own company. Kane knew that MIT Sloan would be the best place to launch Fula & Style an African, urban-chic clothing company that uses vibrant colors and prints in its designs.

Kane devised the idea over January break and developed the company over the summer. Her goal is not only to make great fitting clothes for the people in her country of origin, Senegal, West Africa, but to also create jobs, and have a positive social impact on the African continent. Fula & Style clothes are stylish, affordable, and can easily be fitted to any woman, regardless of her body shape. Its new product, to be available soon, is a semi-sewn version of the company’s best-selling clothing, so the client can take them to a local tailor for the perfect height and hips fit. Read more about Aminata in News@MITSloan.

December 12, 2012

Global Fellows Program Info Session Dec. 13

There will be a Global Fellows Program Information Session, sponsored by the Office of the Dean for Graduate Education (ODGE), the Dean for Undergraduate Education (DUE), and Global Education and Career Development, on Thursday, December 13th, 2012, from 2:00pm to 3:00pm in MIT Room 4-163. MIT and Imperial College London are jointly offering an intensive 4 day Global Fellows Program for PhD students in the Boston area.  Through presentations, interactive work and hands-on activities, PhD students from Imperial (20) and MIT (20) will develop professional skills required to launch and manage a successful research career.  Emphasis will be on creating and sustaining successful international research collaborations.  The program will take place from June 24th to June 28th, 2013 in Sharon, Massachusetts.  PhD students are eligible, preferably those who have passed qualifying exams and have a few years remaining before completing their PhD program.  The application is due on Monday, February 18, 2013.  The Fellowship covers the cost of travel, the program, and most meals.

December 12, 2012

MIT Music in HD! on Dec. 13

MIT Music in HD! is an hour-long program featuring a montage of music performances from the MIT150 Convocation: A Rhumba for Rafael Reif composed by Institute Professor John Harbison for President Reif’s Inauguration; the open rehearsal of the MIT Symphony Orchestra conducted by Gustavo Dudamel; performances by the MIT Festival Jazz Ensemble; and the premiere screening of a documentary and live concert performance by the MIT Wind Ensemble of Awakening, a piece composed by visiting artist and MIT alumnus Jamshied Sharifi in recognition of the Arab Spring.  The screening will be on Thursday, December 13th, 2012, beginning at 4:00pm in MIT Room 10-250.  Hosted by MIT Music and Theater Arts and AMPS MIT Video Productions, this event is made possible in part by the Council for the Arts at MIT.  There will be light refreshments and popcorn.

December 11, 2012

Alumnus Henry receives $3.6 M to develop high-efficiency solar reactor

Researchers from the Georgia Institute of Technology have been awarded three grants totaling more than $9 million from the U.S. Department of Energy’s Advanced Research Projects Agency – Energy (ARPA-E) to develop energy technology solutions.  The three new awards are for projects involving solar fuel generation, power generation from vortices of solar heated air and energy storage.  Asegun Henry, assistant professor in the Woodruff School of Mechanical Engineering as well as MIT Mechanical Engineering alumnus (MSME and PhD) and MSRP alum, will receive $3.6 million to develop a high-efficiency solar reactor to produce solar fuel.  Using liquid metal, the reactor transports heat away from the sunlight-collection point to a chemical reaction zone, minimizing the loss of solar heat.  This system could enable cost-effective solar fuels that would be used for transportation and continuous electric power generation. 
Read the entire report in the Georgia Tech Newsroom.

December 11, 2012

The Art and Design Circle; forum on Dec 12

The Art and Design Circle is a monthly forum for exchange on art/science/engineering projects and ideas.  This month, it will be held on Wednesday, December 12th, 2012, from 5:30pm to 7:00pm.  The forum consists of brief presentations and discussion; participants are encouraged to bring work, images, video clips, etc (these will be open to all present) as well as friends.  This is open to MIT and the broader communities.  Contact for more information.

December 10, 2012

Christmas Party/Carol Service Dec. 10

The Graduate Christian Fellowship is sponsoring a Christmas party and carol service to celebrate the end of classes and remember the birth of Jesus over 2,000 years ago.  As part of the festivities, there will be Christmas carols, appetizers, and desserts.  Everyone is welcome to join in the singing and eating on Monday, December 10th, 2012, from 7:30pm to 9:30pm in the MIT Chapel (W15).  Contact for more information.

December 10, 2012

Register Online for IAP PE Courses

Register for IAP Physical Education Courses online starting on Monday, December 10th, 2012 at 8:00am.  Courses include Downhill Ski and Snowboarding at Nashoba Valley, SCUBA, Country Ski, Skate, Broomball, and so many more.  Graduate student online registration opens on Monday, December 10th, 2012 at 8:00am, and runs through Wednesday, December 12th at 1:00pm.

December 7, 2012

Precisely engineering 3-D brain tissues

Borrowing from microfabrication techniques used in the semiconductor industry, MIT and Harvard Medical School (HMS) engineers have developed a simple and inexpensive way to create three-dimensional brain tissues in a lab dish. The new technique yields tissue constructs that closely mimic the cellular composition of those in the living brain, allowing scientists to study how neurons form connections and to predict how cells from individual patients might respond to different drugs. The work also paves the way for developing bioengineered implants to replace damaged tissue for organ systems, according to the researchers.

Demirci and Ed Boyden, associate professor of biological engineering and brain and cognitive sciences at MIT’s Media Lab and McGovern Institute, are senior authors of a paper describing the new technique, which appears in the Nov. 27 online edition of the journal Advanced Materials. The paper’s lead author is Umut Gurkan, a postdoc at HST, Harvard Medical School and Brigham and Women’s Hospital. Other authors of the paper are Yantao Fan, a visiting graduate student at HMS and HST; Feng Xu and Emel Sokullu Urkac, postdocs at HMS and HST; Gunes Parlakgul, a visiting medical student at HMS and HST; MIT graduate students Jacob Bernstein (former Hugh Hampton Young fellow) and Burcu Erkmen; and Wangli Xing, a professor at Tsinghua University. Read the rest of the article in MIT Media Relations.

December 7, 2012

Maria Zuber appointed vice president for research

Maria T. Zuber, the E.A. Griswold Professor of Geophysics, will become MIT’s next vice president for research, President L. Rafael Reif announced today. Zuber chaired MIT’s Department of Earth, Atmospheric and Planetary Sciences from 2003 to 2011, and has held leadership roles associated with scientific experiments or instrumentation on nine NASA missions over the past two decades. Claude R. Canizares, who has served since 2006 as MIT’s vice president for research and associate provost, has been tapped by Reif for a new vice presidential post with responsibility for MIT’s major international partnerships. Read the rest of the article on MIT news photos by Donna Coveney

December 6, 2012

Your Unofficial Job-Application Checklist

The “unofficial” part of your application is what exists about you online.  Social media have become ubiquitous, and new platforms and technologies, like Pinterest and Instagram, have emerged. Social media have also permeated the academic profession, especially among younger scholars, and have become a much more positive factor in hiring. In my own field it seems that almost every job ad seeks someone with strengths in “digital” or social media. William Pannapacker reported in these pages from the digital-humanities frontiers, “No DH, No Interview.” He was intentionally exaggerating, but the trend is real. When you see a job ad for “Medieval and Early Modern European History and Digital Humanities,” you know something new is afoot. To read the rest of the article, visit The Chronicle of Higher Educationphoto by Brian Taylor

December 6, 2012

MITSO Concert and Rambax Senegalese Drum Ensemble on Dec 8

The MIT Symphony Orchestra will be playing a concert on Saturday, December 8th, 2012 starting at 8:00pm in Kresge Auditorium.  Excerpts from Tchaikovsky’s Nutcracker will be played, along with Debussy’s Prelude to The Afternoon of a Faun and Peter Child’s Down-Adown Derry.  Admission is free in advance (register on Eventbrite) or $5 at the door.

Also on Saturday is the Rambax Senegalese Drum Ensemble with co-directors Lamine Touré and Patricia Tang.  This free event begins at 8:00pm in Lobdell, Stratton Student Center.

December 5, 2012

Photo finish: Two Sloanies team up to create Bounce Imaging

David Young, MBA ’13, never dreamed that co-teaching an Independent Activities Period (IAP) class on military leadership would lead to the creation of a device that could save lives. But it did. Bounce Imaging was incorporated last April, just a few months after Young met Francisco Aguilar, MBA ’12, in his IAP class, “Leadership Lessons Learned from the Military.” Aguilar interviewed Young, an Army Captain now in the Reserves, for his Master’s thesis at the Harvard Kennedy School of Government, but the conversation focused mainly on a baseball-sized, low cost camera Aguilar was designing.

Aguilar’s inspiration for the idea came from the situation following the 2010 Haiti earthquake. Although he was not in Haiti, Aguilar knew that people were trapped in the rubble, and that search and rescue teams could not easily find their locations due to the complicated fiber optic cameras they had. He knew there had to be a better way to find the victims – and that’s when the idea came to him for a throwable, ball-shaped camera. Continue reading the article on News@MITSloanPhoto courtesy of Bostinno

December 5, 2012

Nominations for MLK Leadership Award Open Until Dec. 15

On Wednesday, February 6th, 2013, MIT will mark the 39th anniversary of its annual Martin Luther King, Jr. breakfast and program, which serves to honor Dr. King’s legacy with a yearly breakfast and by hosting an event the evening before to recognize a broad range of committed people who embody his ideals in service to the community.

Consider nominating an individual or group for the Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Leadership Award.  All of MIT’s alumni/ae, undergraduate and graduate students, faculty, and staff are eligible for nomination for this award.  Both individuals and groups, including living groups and student and professional associations, may be considered.  “Service to the community” is defined in the broadest sense and includes academic, research, religious, and secular contributions in which integrity, leadership, creativity, and positive outcome are apparent.

Nomination letters must be submitted by Saturday, December 15th, 2012, to Acia Adams-Heath at or in Room NE18-985.  For questions, contact Mrs. Adams-Heath or Professor John de Monchaux.  Both are members of the MLK, Jr. celebration subcommittee and would be happy to assist.  The MLK celebration subcommittee of the Committee on Race and Diversity will select all awardees, and the awards will be announced at the celebratory breakfast on February 6.

December 4, 2012

Singer and Veysset test materials that could lead to better armor

Providing protection against impacts from bullets and other high-speed projectiles is more than just a matter of brute strength. While traditional shields have been made of bulky materials such as steel, newer body armor made of lightweight material such as Kevlar has shown that thickness and weight are not necessary for absorbing the energy of impacts. Now, a new study by researchers at MIT and Rice University has shown that even lighter materials may be capable of doing the job just as effectively. The key is to use composites made of two or more materials whose stiffness and flexibility are structured in very specific ways — such as in alternating layers just a few nanometers thick. The research team produced miniature high-speed projectiles and measured the effects they had on the impact-absorbing material.

The results of the research are reported in the journal Nature Communications, in a paper co-authored by former postdoc Jae-Hwang Lee, now a research scientist at Rice; postdoc Markus Retsch; graduate student Jonathan Singer; Edwin Thomas, a former MIT professor who is now at Rice; graduate student David Veysset; former graduate student Gagan Saini; former postdoc Thomas Pezeril, now on the faculty at Université du Maine, in Le Mans, France; and chemistry professor Keith Nelson. The experimental work was conducted at MIT’s Institute for Soldier Nanotechnologies. Read the rest of the article on MITnews.

December 4, 2012

Avoid the Fiscal Cliff!

Going off the so-called “fiscal cliff” will have major consequences for MIT graduate students.  Potential losses in tax deductions for higher education will have a sweeping effect on low and middle class students.  Sweeping cuts to education funding will deeply erode several programs in the sciences, the humanities, and other fields.  Projected reductions of funding in various could result in thousands of fewer grants with an estimated $12.1B loss in federal research and development.  Cuts to the NSF alone could dramatically affect the more than 140,000 people supported through their funding.

Ultimately, this means fewer people employed at universities, less research taking place, possible increased costs for graduate student loans  and long-term effects on the economic prosperity and innovation capacity of this country.  Stand with the MIT Graduate Student Council and sign the petition to protect America’s investment in graduate student research.  The GSC invites you to get the word out (write your colleagues, you classmates, your friends, your Facebook, your tweets, etc.) to help avoid the fiscal cliff.  Join the 3.8 million graduate and professional students in this country, and make our voice heard!

December 3, 2012

Cok and Wang help eliminate structural flaws in polymers

Within polymeric materials, there are structural flaws at the molecular level. To form an ideal network, each polymer chain would bind only to another chain. However, in any real polymeric material, a significant fraction of the chains instead bind to themselves, forming floppy loops. “If your material properties depend on having polymers connected to each other to form a network, but you have polymers folded around and connected to themselves, then those polymers are not part of the network. They weaken it,” says Jeremiah A. Johnson, an assistant professor of chemistry at MIT.

Johnson and his colleagues have now developed, for the first time, a way to measure how many loops are present in a given polymer network, an advance they believe is the first step toward creating better materials that don’t contain those weak spots. Huaxing Zhou, an MIT postdoc, is the lead author of a paper describing the new technique in this week’s issue of the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. Other authors are visiting researcher Jiyeon Woo, chemistry graduate student Alexandra Cok, chemical engineering graduate student Muzhou Wang, and Bradley Olsen, an assistant professor of chemical engineering. Continue reading the article on MITnews.