Monthly Archives: August 2015

August 31, 2015


Part-Time Educator at the MIT Museum Sep. 2015 – Jun. 2016

Are you interested in teaching or science outreach? Are you interested in informal education? The Museum is seeking graduate students to facilitate STEM workshops for middle and high school students from September 2015 through June 2016. Three-hour shifts will be available Monday to Friday between 9:30 am and 4pm. The ideal candidate should be flexible, interested in learning teaching best practices, and available 1-2 days a week. Visit our website for more information. To apply, send a cover letter and resume to Photo by Trevis Rothwell

August 31, 2015


Yu: Searching big data faster

For more than a decade, gene sequencers have been improving more rapidly than the computers required to make sense of their outputs. Searching for DNA sequences in existing genomic databases can already take hours, and the problem is likely to get worse. Recently, Bonnie Berger’s group at MIT’s Computer Science and Artificial Intelligence Laboratory (CSAIL) has been investigating techniques to make biological and chemical data easier to analyze by, in some sense, compressing it.

In the latest issue of the journal Cell Systems, Berger and colleagues — first authors Noah Daniels, a postdoc in her group, and William Yu, a graduate student in applied mathematics, and David Danko, an undergraduate major in computational biology — present a theoretical analysis that demonstrates why their previous compression schemes have been so successful. They identify properties of data sets that make them amenable to compression and present an algorithm for determining whether a given data set has those properties. They also show that several existing databases of chemical compounds and biological molecules do indeed exhibit them. Read the full story at MIT News

August 31, 2015


Singapore Student Society Welcome BBQ Sep. 13

MITSSS welcomes all new students to MIT this Sunday September 13! Come and enjoy delicious BBQ food and mingle with other fellow students. We will be setting up the pit from 5pm at the Kresge BBQ. Contact: Sponsored by GSC FB and ASA LEF. Photo by John Liu

August 28, 2015


Sid-Pac Cultural Festival 2015 Aug. 29

Enjoy delicious food, music, dance, arts, and more from different cultures! Great opportunity to learn about the heritage and society of many different cultures. Come to the Sidney Pacific Mark MP Room between 12pm-3pm on Saturday August 29th. Many student groups will be present. Sponsored by ASA ARCADE LEF. Contact: Photo by Casper Zoethout

August 28, 2015


HST Faculty Poster Session Sep. 24

Students and faculty are warmly invited to participate in HST’s annual Faculty Poster Session–designed to inform MD and PhD students about research opportunities and to allow faculty to recruit new students to their labs. This year’s session will take place: Thursday, September 24, 2015, 5-7pm at Harvard Medical School, TMEC Atrium. Refreshments will be served. Posters may take any form in a 4′ by 4′ format, ranging from an overview of an entire research portfolio to sample results of a recent research project. Faculty and students may register a poster. If you have any questions, please write to Learn more here. Photo by Eden, Janine and Jim

August 28, 2015

Chan EECS Research

Chen: Crash-tolerant data storage

In a computer operating system, the file system is the part that writes data to disk and tracks where the data is stored. If the computer crashes while it’s writing data, the file system’s records can become corrupt. Hours of work could be lost, or programs could stop working properly. At the ACM Symposium on Operating Systems Principles in October, MIT researchers will present the first file system that is mathematically guaranteed not to lose track of data during crashes. Although the file system is slow by today’s standards, the techniques the researchers used to verify its performance can be extended to more sophisticated designs. Ultimately, formal verification could make it much easier to develop reliable, efficient file systems.

Nickolai Zeldovich, an associate professor of computer science and engineering and his colleagues — Frans Kaashoek, the Charles A. Piper Professor in MIT’s Department of Electrical Engineering and Computer Science (EECS); associate professor of computer science Adam Chlipala; Haogang Chen, a graduate student in EECS; and Daniel Ziegler, an undergraduate in EECS — established the reliability of their file system through a process known as formal verification. Read the full article at the MIT News Office

August 27, 2015


Medical Device Development Oct. 29, 30

Now accepting applications for Harvard Catalysts Medical Device Development course. This two-day course happening October 29-30, 2015 will provide an introduction to medical device innovation, development, and translation. This course is tuition-free for Harvard-affiliated institutions [Includes MIT Postdocs and Graduate Students] and will take place at the Sheraton Commander Hotel, Cambridge, MA.  For more information and a detailed description of Medical Device Development, please visit our website or contact us at with any questions. Apply here by September 18, 2015! Photo by Ekso Bionics

August 27, 2015

MIT Alum and Zip Car founder, Robin Chase

MIT alum and Zipcar founder, Robin Chase, book talk at Orientation Sep. 14

Robin Chase, co-founder/ex-CEO of Zipcar and one of Time’s 100 Most Influential People in the World, illuminates the potential of the collaborative economy to address broader issues such as climate change and income inequality.

An MIT alum, Chase will give a book talk, with Q&A and signing of the book Peers Inc., open to current MIT students, alumni, and friends, Monday, September 14, 6–7 pm, in Building 10-250.

Admission is free, and will be followed by an intimate dinner with Robin at 7:30 pm, for which admission is by lottery at the event.

Contact: Alex Hamilton Chan

August 27, 2015


Tang Hall Orientation Olympics Sep. 3

Come join new and old grad students from Tang and other grad dorms to play different sports in teams in a relaxed atmosphere. Events will include Soccer, Basketball, Athletics, Badminton, Volleyball, Waterballoon fights. The date of the event is Thursday September 3rd from 2pm to 7pm. The primary location is the Z-center.  Sign-up here so we can contact you to get your T-shirt size and indicate your sports preferences. Contact: Photo by Dee’lite

August 26, 2015


Consider Entrepreneurship in the Waste space D-LAB

Understand the multiple dimensions of the global waste challenge. Learn from experts working in the field including researchers, waste-pickers and city planners. The course focuses on studying some of the multiple dimensions of waste generation and management. Topics are presented in real contexts through case studies, field visits, civic engagement and research and include consumer culture, waste streams, waste management, entrepreneurship and innovation on waste, technology evaluation, downcycling/upcycling, Life Cycle Analysis and waste assessment. Labs include building low-cost, small scale technology, field trips to waste-related institutions and businesses, art workshops and e-waste scrapping taught by practitioners, artists and waste enthusiasts. Opportunities for IAP or summer travel.

Instructors: Kate Mytty (‘15), Master in City Planning 2015, Pedro Reynolds-Cuéllar, Instructor, MIT D-Lab. Fall 2015, 9 units, Lecture: MW 10-11:30, Lab: F 2-4 (hands-on) Prerequisite: None. Limited to 16 students. Contact: Photo by Greenpeace India

August 26, 2015


Volunteer at Graduate Orientation 2015!

Be a part of the largest student-run orientation in the nation! Have fun, make friends and meet future colleagues. Volunteer at one of many events running from Monday, Aug 31st to Saturday, Sep 12 all over campus. Questions? Email Sign up now!

August 25, 2015


GAME Water Day Aug. 27

This Thursday, August 27, 4-7 PM at the Sidney Pacific Courtyard (NW86), join us for free food cooked fresh on the grill and sweet snacks. Participate in Water balloon battles, Sponge relays, and Slip-n-slide races against your friends and enemies alike. Expect good company! Questions? Contact: Photo by Gordon Tarpley

August 24, 2015


Increasing Diversity of People and Ideas at the Media Lab Through MSRP

MSRP brings undergraduates from schools across the country to MIT to prepare and excite them for the graduate school experience. The program seeks to provide underrepresented minorities with access to opportunities for research and discourse with STEM faculty, postdoctoral fellows, and graduate students. This challenging summer program demands a great deal from its participants, somewhat aiming to recreate the graduate school experience. It gives students a sense of whether an advanced degree is something they would want to pursue, and if so, if MIT (and in this case the Media Lab) is the right place for them.

Taken a step further, by increasing the number of students the Lab hosts through MSRP, we are increasing the range of people who have access to (and ultimately interest in) the work that we do. This summer, the Media Lab hosted six MSRP interns, Randi Williams, Claudine Humure, Pedro Colon-Hernandez, Elizabeth Gallardo, Ziv Epstein, Hayley Hinsberger, the most we have ever hosted at once, in four research groups: Biomechatronics, Fluid Interfaces, Object-Based Media, and Social Machines. The Media Lab community had a lot to learn from the interns, too; this is a group of students with a vast range of life and research experiences. They each brought their own take to the work, seeing it through a new and unique lens. Not to mention, this was a great mentoring and learning opportunity for the graduate students and postdocs that supervise the interns. Read Monica Orta’s full story at the MediaLab on

August 24, 2015


Two Day Intensive Tango Bootcamp for Complete Beginners Sep. 5 & 6

Attend an intensive two day introduction to Argentine Tango designed to get you from no dancing to tango in two quick days. No dance partner or experience needed. Space is limited: the bootcamps have been wildly popular in the past so be sure to sign up now! Workshop will be held September 5 and 6, from 1-5pm at the Walker Memorial, Morss Hall. MIT students & alumni: $30 Light refreshments provided. Contact: with any questions

August 21, 2015

Policing SexTrafficking

Thakor: Policing sex trafficking in the digital age

Since 2013, AMBER Alerts — broadcast on television and radio since 1996 — have also been sent automatically to every mobile phone number in the United States. As a doctoral student in MIT’s Program in History, Anthropology, and Science, Technology, and Society (HASTS), Mitali Thakor is in tune with the pulse of technology and how it affects our lives — in particular, how it affects sex work and sex trafficking. Thakor, who majored in feminist studies and anthropology as an undergraduate at Stanford University, was initially interested in how sex workers themselves utilize emerging technologies. But over time, her focus has shifted to the opposite end of the spectrum: how sex work and trafficking are policed using digital tools. Her research has now spanned three countries — the United States, the Netherlands, and Thailand.

Earlier this year, Thakor, who ultimately aims for a career in academia, taught her first anthropology and gender studies class, called “Human Trafficking and Modern-Day Slavery.” For 19 MIT undergraduates, she built a curriculum around some of the very tensions in her research: Rather than only requiring reading from experts in the field, she also asked students to read prose and poetry from non-experts, and to look at art that engaged the topics of sex work, trafficking, and policing in the digital age. To read the full article on Thakor’s innovative research visit MIT News.

August 21, 2015

healthcare lab

Register for Healthcare Lab, 15.767 or 15.777

An action learning course open to all MIT students. Work in teams on projects in health including operations management, IT, strategy, marketing, etc. Work on real-world problems for health organizations. Projects are in the Boston area for 15.767 or may be international for 15.777. Learn about the challenges of US healthcare delivery from leading experts in health organizations such as payers, providers, IT, startups, etc. Classes meet MW, 10:00 – 11:30 beginning Sept. 9, 2015, E62-250 Contact: Photo by

August 21, 2015


TED Talk Social with REFs Aug. 24

What keeps us motivated in life, grad school and careers? Join the REFs for a fun and relaxing social where we reflect on these important questions! The event is this August 24, 5:30-6:30pm, building 32-124. Food and snacks will be provided! Contact: with any questions. Photo by JD Hancock

August 21, 2015


Celebrate Chinese Valentine’s Day with ROCSA Aug. 22

Chinese Valentine’s Day is coming! ROCSA is going to celebrate this special day with you.
Join us for a chill-out dinner party at the Sidney Pacific Seminar Room (NW86) from 6pm to 8pm on Saturday August 22 with delicious Taiwanese food from Dolphin Bay Boston. Please RSVP Contact: Photo by Shuwn Hsu

August 20, 2015


NSE’s Boyd and Dykhuis win 2015 Innovations in Fuel Cycle Research Awards

Graduate students William Boyd and Andrew Dykhuis of the Department of Nuclear Science and Engineering (NSE) have earned 2015 Innovations in Fuel Cycle Research Awards, which are sponsored by the U.S. Department of Energy’s (DOE) Office of Fuel Cycle Technologies.

Boyd, a PhD student, has been awarded a first-place prize in the category of nuclear science and engineering. His award-winning research paper, “The OpenMOC Method of Characteristics Neutral Particle Transport Code,” was published in the Annals of Nuclear Energy last June.

Dykhuis, a PhD student and research assistant in NSE, has been awarded a second-place prize in the category of advanced fuels. His award-winning research paper, “HOGNOSE: A New Model for Corrosion in PWRs,” was presented at the American Nuclear Society Annual Meeting this June. Read the full article at MIT News

August 20, 2015


Commencement Focus Group Sep. 2nd

Participate in a focus group relating to graduation arrangements and scheduling. The session, which will be led by Professor Marc Baldo, takes place 12-1:30 pm on Wednesday, September 2. Lunch will be provided and space is limited, so please confirm your participation online. Please note that this conversation does not impact Commencement 2016. The valuable input you share with us will be synthesized for use by the Commencement Committee in the fall. Contact with any questions. Photo by jl_noguer

August 20, 2015


Grad Hillel Shabbat Dinner Picnic Aug. 21

Want to enjoy a delicious Shabbat picnic dinner with an awesome community of MIT graduate students on Friday August 21st at 7:00pm? Join us at Killian Court. RSVP by sending an email to This event is sponsored by Hillel at MIT and the MIT GSC. Photo by feministjulie

August 19, 2015

Mitali Thakor-Policing sex trafficking in the digital age

As MIT graduate student Mitali Thakor speaks about her research in a Cambridge coffee shop, an AMBER Alert from Abington, Massachusetts, lights up her iPhone, interrupting her midsentence as she describes her studies of anti-trafficking efforts in the digital age. Continue reading on MIT News.

August 19, 2015


Long-Distance Networking

Networking is about building relationships. It isn’t the impatient, somewhat smarmy “What can you do for me?” exercise that many novices see it as — and if you’re doing it that way, it probably isn’t doing much for you. If, instead, you approach networking as a long-term investment in creating meaningful connections, it can help you build the career you want. For Ph.D.’s seeking to pursue a nonacademic career, networking can be especially challenging, particularly if you are targeting an industry that is not uniformly distributed geographically.

For instance, I live in San Diego, home to one of the large hubs of biotech companies. That gives me a natural advantage when looking for a job in the biotechnology industry, and, indeed, my local network is full of people in that industry. Even when I was in graduate school, I knew people who worked in biotech, and the only reason I didn’t know more was that I didn’t put much effort into networking. Furthermore, the natural migration of people over the course of their careers has created geographic offshoots in my network, so even if I wanted to relocate to one of the other biotech hubs, I would have contacts already in those cities. Read Melanie Nelson’s full article at Vitae


August 18, 2015


Nuts & Bolts of an Academic Job Search Aug. 20

Are you considering an academic career? Wondering how to mount a successful job search in a highly competitive academic job market? This Thursday, August 20, faculty panelists will discuss an effective search strategy and discuss important elements of the process – finding opportunities of interest, preparing a strong application, the role of your advisors, interviewing, negotiating, and how the increasingly competitive job market is changing the faculty search process. Panel starts at 2:00 – 3:30 p.m. at 32-123 (Stata Auditorium). Snacks and refreshments will be provided! Questions? Contact Jake Livengood with MIT GECD – Sponsored by the MIT Graduate Student Council, MIT Global Education and Career Development, and Office of the Vice President for Research.
Read more

August 18, 2015


Quantitative Research Roles at Jane Street, Deadline Aug. 19

Jane Street is a quantitative trading firm that uses innovative technology, a scientific approach, and a deep understanding of markets to guide our business. We are a global liquidity provider and market maker, operating around the clock and around the globe, out of offices in New York, London and Hong Kong. The markets change rapidly, and we need to change faster still. Every day, we come to work with new problems to solve, new systems to build and new theories to test. We’re always looking for people to join us and help come up with that next great idea.

We’re going to be at MIT on August 24 to interview PhD candidates for positions at Jane Street. The interviews will primarily focus on our Research role, but our Researchers often walk the line between Quantitative Trading and Software Development as well. You can learn more about Research, Quantitative Trading, and Technology at Jane Street on our website. If you’re interested in interviewing for a position at Jane Street we encourage you to apply through CareerBridge by August 19th! Photo by dirkcuys


August 18, 2015

hermes robot

Ramos, Wang: A bipedal robot with human reflexes

Deep in the basement of MIT’s Building 3, a two-legged robot named HERMES is wreaking controlled havoc: punching through drywall, smashing soda cans, kicking over trash buckets, and karate-chopping boards in half. Its actions, however, are not its own. Just a few feet away, PhD student Joao Ramos stands on a platform, wearing an exoskeleton of wires and motors. Ramos’ every move is translated instantly to HERMES, much like a puppeteer controlling his marionette.

Ramos and his colleagues, including PhD student Albert Wang and Sangbae Kim, the Esther and Harold E. Edgerton Center Career Development Associate Professor of Mechanical Engineering, will present a paper on the interface at the IEEE/RSJ International Conference on Intelligent Robots and Systems in September. Read the full article at the MIT News Office

August 18, 2015


Become a 2015–2016 MIT Grad Community Fellow!

Join a cadre of graduate students who work on projects and assignments that enhance the graduate community at MIT! Openings are available for 2015–2016 Graduate Community Fellows. Receive a monthly stipend while you gain experience. Positions will be filled on a rolling basis. Open positions include:

  • Institute Community and Equity Office
  • Graduate Orientation
  • Language Conversation Exchange
  • Programs for Women (Fall 2015 only)
  • Violence Prevention and Response

Photo by rashida coleman-hale

August 17, 2015


MIT faculty share best practices in graduate student advising

On May 7, in a discussion open to the entire MIT community, a panel of seven faculty members from across the Institute came together to share their insights on the topic of graduate student advising. In response, a new pamphlet, “Best Practices in Graduate Student Advising,” evolved, and is now available by request to members of the MIT community. The initial event was organized by the Office for the Dean of Graduate Education (ODGE) and the Graduate Student Council (GSC), as part of their Advising Initiative, to provide a rare opportunity for cross-department dialogue on advising between MIT’s various schools.

In discussing how students should voice their concerns about the advising relationship, panelists offered advice to the faculty. Entering an advisor’s office is inherently intimidating for students, Randall Davis, professor of electrical engineering and computer science explained, and faculty needed to remind themselves of that when listening to the concerns of advisees. After having a discussion with a student about the advising relationship, or after offering any advice, professor of brain and cognitive sciences, Kay Tye recommended that advisors ask for feedback from students on their own performance in advising. But when evaluating anyone’s actions, Davis reminded the audience to “assume incompetence before malevolence.” Professors and students are both burdened by obligations and proliferating piles of unread emails. Students were then reminded of the importance of not allowing problems to fester, and of providing advisors with advance notice about additional time commitments.

The content of the brochure is now offered on the ODGE website as printable 8.5″ x 11″ documents, under “Student and Faculty” and “Institute” roles. Those interested in the printed “Best Practices” pamphlet should contact Sarah Goodman or visit the ODGE headquarters in MIT Building 3-138. Read the whole article on the panel event at the MIT News Office

August 17, 2015


Learn about Conflict Management – Fall CM Training Application is Open!

Learn more about Conflict Management! Lessons are divided into 3 tiers. Participants can choose a tier which most suits their interest. Training is free for graduate students! We will convene on campus for half day on Fridays (8:30am-12:30pm) in the fall semesterApply here! For more information, visit our website or contact Photo by Adam Arroyo

August 17, 2015


GCWS-MIT Fall Courses Deadline Aug. 24

The GCWS is one of the finest options graduate students have in the greater Boston area, providing intellectual, professional, and networking opportunities that are unparalleled and unique.  We will be accepting applications until our deadline: Monday, August 24th, 2015. Please find detailed course descriptions on our website.  If you have any questions about our courses or application process, please contact Andi Sutton at

Workshop for Dissertation Writers in Women’s and Gender Studies, Tuesdays, 5:30 PM – 8:30 PM, Understanding the Pornographic and the Obscene, Tuesdays, 2:00 PM – 5:00 PM, American Motherhood and Mothering: Theory, Discourse, Practice, and Change, Wednesdays, 5:00 PM – 8:00 PM

August 14, 2015


Join the GSC OneMIT Board Deadline Aug. 21

Join the GSC OneMIT Board! This new funding board will work to fund proposals that bring together the students from all five schools. We need one School Representative from each school. We are looking for representatives from Science, Engineering, Management/Sloan, and Architecture/Planning. Apply here, the deadline is August 21, 2015. Email or with any questions. Photo by Howard Lake

August 14, 2015


Souillard-Mandar: Could a pen change how we diagnose brain function?

For several decades, doctors have screened for conditions including Parkinson’s and Alzheimer’s with the CDT, which asks subjects to draw an analog clock-face showing a specified time, and to copy a pre-drawn clock. But the test has limitations, because its benchmarks rely on doctors’ subjective judgments, such as determining whether a clock circle has “only minor distortion.” CSAIL researchers were particularly struck by the fact that CDT analysis was typically based on the person’s final drawing rather than on the process as a whole.

Enter the Anoto Live Pen, a digitizing ballpoint pen that measures its position on the paper upwards of 80 times a second, using a camera built into the pen. The pen provides data that are far more precise than can be measured on an ordinary drawing, and captures timing information that allows the system to analyze each and every one of a subject’s movements and hesitations. Some of the machine learning techniques they used were designed to produce “transparent” classifiers, which provide insights into what factors are important for screening and diagnosis. “These examples help calibrate the predictive power of each part of the drawing,” says first author William Souillard-Mandar, a graduate student at CSAIL. “They allow us to extract thousands of features from the drawing process that give hints about the subject’s cognitive state, and our algorithms help determine which ones can make the most accurate prediction.” Read the full article at the MIT News Office

August 14, 2015


Indian Independence Day celebrations Aug. 15

Celebrate the Indian Independence day with friends this 15 of August at 10:30 AM! We will have a flag hoisting and an address by the chief guest at the Student Center, Sala de Puerto Rico. This will be followed by Indian lunch and I Day trivia games! Contact: Photo by Sanyam Bahga

August 13, 2015


Versatile PhD Social Hour Aug. 13

Versatile PhD is convening this Thursday, August 13, 2015 6:00 PM at the Grafton Street Pub & Grill, 1230 Massachusetts Ave Cambridge, MA 02138. This meet-up will offer graduate and PhD career information provided by professionals who have made the transition from working in academia to working in industry. Join the Versatile PhD professional network at the MIT Global Education and Career Development webpage, sign up for the meet-up group and learn more about the event. Photo by Peter Clark

August 13, 2015


Adib, Kabelac: President Obama invites MIT entrepreneurs to give demo at the White House

Researchers from MIT’s Computer Science and Artificial Intelligence Lab (CSAIL) were part of a select group of entrepreneurs that gave President Obama an in-person demo about their innovation — a device that uses radio waves to detect, predict, and prevent falls among the elderly. The live-streamed visit was part of the White House’s first annual Demo Day, which is aimed at fostering greater diversity in technology entrepreneurship.

Professor Dina Katabi and CSAIL graduate students Fadel Adib and Zachary Kabelac presented “Emerald,” a system that can monitor breathing, heart rate, and changes in gait and body elevation with such precision that it may soon be able to predict declines in health and increased risk of falling. Read the full article at MIT News

August 13, 2015


How to Find an Impactful Postdoc: A Panel Discussion Aug. 14

This Friday, August 14, 2015 from 2:00 – 3:30 at 34-101, find out more about the skills required to land a postdoctoral position in academia or industry. Learn about the search process, interviewing and tips for how to be most successful. Bring along your questions and friends. Co-sponsored by the MIT Graduate Student Council, MIT Global Education & Career Development and the MIT Office of the Vice President for Research. Refreshments will be provided. Register here!

Read more

August 12, 2015


How a Grad Student Couple Lived Within Their Means

I never expected to look back on my seven years in grad school as a financially prosperous period of my life. But thanks to some careful planning and budgeting, my husband and I actually managed to stretch our $25,000 stipends to live well and increase our combined net worth by more than $100,000 during those seven years.

How did we accomplish that? The (not-so-secret) secret to avoiding debt and saving money is to live below your means — but there’s no one way to do that. You have to determine what matters most to you; then set financial goals and make money-management choices accordingly. In this post, I share our constellation of choices from our last year of grad school (2013-2014), when we were most effective at living within our means. Read the full article by Emily Roberts at Vitae

August 12, 2015

Y Chromosome Research

Godfrey tackles a chromosome that half the world has — yet few understand

Alexander Godfrey, a PhD student in biology at MIT, is acutely fascinated by the Y chromosome, which confers maleness. This chromosome is often considered a genetic castaway — because its complexity makes it very difficult to study — but Godfrey is undeterred. Four years into his degree, he continues to push forward, attempting to get to know a chromosome that 50 percent of the population has, but few understand.

Composed of repeating DNA patterns, the Y chromosome is especially difficult to study. DNA is usually understood by breaking it up into pieces, and figuring out how active certain genes are by locating where the pieces came from — so if all of the pieces look the same, or very similar, the process becomes nearly impossible. Godfrey likens it to a puzzle full of pieces that are nearly indistinguishable: Putting the puzzle together, and seeing the big picture, is extremely difficult. Determined to contribute to an understudied field, he has delved into answering an enormous question: How do genes in the Y chromosome that are active throughout the body lead to differences between men and women? Read the full article at MIT NEWS

August 12, 2015


Outing to Greater Boston Food Bank Aug.12

Help sort donated food that at the Greater Boston Food Bank, which supplies all the regional food pantries this Wednesday Aug. 12, 4:30–8:00 pm. This is an fun outing that we (GAME, SidPac and TBP) lead once a month (usually on the first or second Wednesday) at the Greater Boston Food Bank @ 70 S Bay Ave, Boston, MA. There will be free pizza for dinner, and if you travel with the group, transportation via the MBTA will be covered! Sign up today! Contact: Photo by

August 11, 2015


John Belcher, “Committed to Caring” honoree, receives Oersted Medal for physics teaching

John W. Belcher, the Class of 1922 Professor of Physics and a member of the MIT Kavli Institute for Astrophysics and Space Research, has been awarded the 2015 Hans Christian Oersted Medal of the American Association of Physics Teachers. The award was given in recognition of Belcher’s “tireless work with TEAL (Technology Enabled Active Learning) and Massive Open Online Courses (MOOCs).”

Belcher’s research interests are within the areas of space plasma physics, in particular the interaction of the heliosphere with the local interstellar medium. He was the principal investigator on the Voyager Plasma Science Experiment during the Voyager Neptune encounter — the end of the Planetary Grand Tour, which sent Voyager probes to planets in the outer solar system. Belcher is now a co-investigator on the Plasma Science Experiment on the Voyager Interstellar Mission. The Voyager spacecraft are still returning data, 37 years after launch, with a predicted demise in 2031.

The Oersted Medal recognizes those who have had an outstanding, broad, and lasting impact on the teaching of physics. It is awarded annually by the American Association of Physics Teachers, a nonprofit organization founded in 1930 to “enhance the understanding and appreciation of physics through teaching.” Belcher is also one of the first two faculty members honored by MIT’s Committed to Caring! initiative, which began in 2014. Read the full article at MIT NEWS

August 11, 2015


Futrell: How language gives your brain a break

Here’s a quick task: Take a look at the sentences below and decide which is the most effective.

(1) “John threw out the old trash sitting in the kitchen.”

(2) “John threw the old trash sitting in the kitchen out.”

Either sentence is grammatically acceptable, but you probably found the first one to be more natural. Why? Perhaps because of the placement of the word “out,” which seems to fit better in the middle of this word sequence than the end. In technical terms, the first sentence has a shorter “dependency length” — a shorter total distance, in words, between the crucial elements of a sentence. Now a new study of 37 languages by three MIT researchers has shown that most languages move toward “dependency length minimization” (DLM) in practice. That means language users have a global preference for more locally grouped dependent words, whenever possible.

“People want words that are related to each other in a sentence to be close together,” says Richard Futrell, a PhD student in the Department of Brain and Cognitive Sciences at MIT, and a lead author of a new paper detailing the results. “There is this idea that the distance between grammatically related words in a sentence should be short, as a principle.” The paper, published this week in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, suggests people modify language in this way because it makes things simpler for our minds — as speakers, listeners, and readers. Read the full article at MIT NEWS

August 11, 2015


Contra Dance with live music by BiCoastal Aug. 11

Contra dancing is a high-energy dance, directed by a caller and accompanied by exciting live folk music. It’s easy to learn, and you’ll get to twirl your partner and everyone else’s! Tonight’s dance features live folk music by BiCoastal: Julia Hartman (fiddle), Jean Monroe (piano), & Bonnie Insull (flute). Beginners welcome. No partner necessary. Time: 8:00p–10:30pm Location: W20-Lobdell, Dining Hall, Student Ctr 2nd floor. Visit our website! Event is open to the general public and the cost is free for MIT and Wellesley students. Optional suggested donation $3 other students, $6 general. Sponsored by the Folk Dance Club. For more information, contact: MIT Folk Dance Club Photo by macguys

August 10, 2015


MIT Ventureships Club Fall 2015 Start-ups Recruitment Deadline Aug. 10

MIT Ventureships Club connects MIT students with MIT start-ups. Students in our 1-semester long program work with CEOs selected from MIT start-ups. The students will work closely with the CEOs on market research, fund raising, technology development, etc., all of which are essential to the start-ups. Requirement 1: The company should have at least 1 co-founder who is an MIT affiliated student, staff, or alumni. Requirement 2: The company should have a well-defined one semester project for the students. Apply now before August 10th. Contact: ventureships_ Photo by andresmh

August 10, 2015


Hernandez: The fashion for wearable technology may get rid of the need for passwords

Watches and spectacles were “wearable technology” long before the marketing maven who dreamed the term up was born. But now that some of these devices are fitted with gizmos which let their wearers monitor and record their lives down to the millisecond, many technologists are asking what else the data thus generated might be used for. One such is Javier Hernandez, a P.h. D. candidate at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT). He thinks Apple Watches, Google Glasses and their kin might provide a solution to the problem of password inflation.

Ever longer, ever more numerous, ever more complicated passwords are a curse of modern life. Unless such passwords are used frequently, remembering them is close to impossible. So they get written down, obviating the point of their complexity. One way around this is to use unique bodily characteristics, known as biometrics, to identify people. Fingerprints and iris scans, in particular, have been tried, but both require special equipment. Mr Hernandez’s work offers an alternative that does not: ballistocardiography. Read the full article at The Economist.

August 10, 2015


MIT List Visual Arts Center announces 2015-16 exhibition schedule

The MIT List Visual Arts Center is pleased to announce its fall program of exhibitions and events. This year’s exhibiting artists use film, sculpture, photography, and installation to engage with issues such as the material qualities of cinema, the internet ‘s effects on popular culture, and the online portrayal of women. This year the MIT List Center dedicates it’s exhibition season in honor of former director Jane Farver, who sadly passed away last April.

Student Loan Art Program Exhibition
September 1 – 13, 2015
Through this annual loan program, individual students and student groups may borrow original works of art from the List Center’s Student Loan Art collection for their private rooms and communal spaces. A highlight of this year’s exhibition is the addition of the MIT List Center’s 30th Anniversary Print Portfolio which features artists: Adel Abdessemed, Nairy Baghramian, Cai Guo-Qiang, Ping Chong, Ralph Cobrun, Robert Cumming, Ann Hamilton, Runa Islam, Gyorgy Kepes, Michiko Kon, Ken Okiishi, Otto Piene, Kay Rosen, Tavares Strachan and Sarah Sze. These artists were selected by the List Center’s four directors – Kathy Halbreich, Katy Kline, Jane Farver, and Paul C. Ha as a small example of the many exceptional artists presented at the List over the last thirty years. MIT students are eligible to borrow a work of art from this portfolio for the first time this year.

Read more

August 7, 2015

biotech career survey

Take the MIT Biotech Group career survey

Are you interested in a career in the biotechnology industry? Tell us about your needs! MIT Biotech group wants information about your career interests and attitudes about career exploration resources at MIT. Data obtained from this survey will be used to help MBG design programs and events, as well as communicate with MIT administration. Take the survey here. If you aren’t already an MBG member please sign up for our mailing list
Contact: Photo by Engineering at Cambridge

August 7, 2015


Pillai: Object recognition for robots

John Leonard’s group in the MIT Department of Mechanical Engineering specializes in SLAM, or simultaneous localization and mapping, the technique whereby mobile autonomous robots map their environments and determine their locations. Last week, at the Robotics Science and Systems conference, members of Leonard’s group presented a new paper demonstrating how SLAM can be used to improve object-recognition systems, which will be a vital component of future robots that have to manipulate the objects around them in arbitrary ways.

The system uses SLAM information to augment existing object-recognition algorithms. Its performance should thus continue to improve as computer-vision researchers develop better recognition software, and roboticists develop better SLAM software. “Considering object recognition as a black box, and considering SLAM as a black box, how do you integrate them in a nice manner?” asks Sudeep Pillai, a graduate student in computer science and engineering and first author on the new paper. “How do you incorporate probabilities from each viewpoint over time? That’s really what we wanted to achieve.” Read the full article at MIT NEWS

August 7, 2015


Spain@MIT world cup BBQ Aug. 9

Join us for a BBQ to celebrate the end of our very own MIT world cup and to congratulate the winners.The event is co-sponsored by Spain@MIT and the GSC Funding Board. The BBQ is this August 9th, 5-8pm @ the Sailing pavilion Contact: with questions. Photo by Marcus Buchwald

August 7, 2015


Singapore National Day Celebrations Aug. 9

Come and celebrate Singapore’s 50 years of independence! The event will be held at the Mezzanine Lounge (W20-307) this August 9th at 7pm. The celebration is sponsored by GSC Funding Board. Contact: See you there! Photo by Mike Behnken

August 6, 2015


2nd Round Call For Applications: Serve on an Institute Committee for 2015-16

The Grad Student Council is seeking applicants for Institute Committee positions. Make an impact on community and student life issues. Shape MIT policy on graduate programs, corporation matters, and more! Develop relationships with peers, faculty and administrators from all across the Institute. Submit your applications and find out more information on Institute Committees. Applications are due due Friday August 14th. Contact Daniel Smithwick with any questions at Photo by Stewart Morris