Monthly Archives: October 2015

October 30, 2015

work life seminar series fall

MIT Work-Life Center Fall Seminar Series, Oct. – Dec.

We are pleased to announce the launch of the MIT Work-Life Center’s Fall Seminar Series.  The presenters, who are experts in their fields, will share research-based strategies, tips, and information on more than 25 topics, including:

  • Student loan repayment strategies
  • Developing your negotiation and communication skills for challenging conversations
  • Eating healthy and staying active on your own schedule and budget
  • Buying your first home
  • Parenting
  • Eldercare

All seminars are free of charge and open to the entire MIT community and their families; however, registration is required.  Photo by Nan Palmero

October 30, 2015

cho control bubbles electric charge

Cho: controlling the bubbles of boiling water using a small electric charge

Boiling water, with its commotion of bubbles that rise from a surface as water comes to a boil, is central to most electric power plants, heating and cooling systems, and desalination plants. Now, for the first time, researchers at MIT have found a way to control this process, literally with the flick of an electrical switch.

The system, which could improve the efficiency of electric power generation and other processes, is described in a paper by Department of Mechanical Engineering Professor Evelyn Wang, graduate student Jeremy Cho, and recent graduate Jordan Mizerak ’14, published in the journal Nature Communications.

This degree of control over the boiling process, independent of temperature, Wang says, has not previously been demonstrated despite the ubiquity of boiling in industrial processes. Other systems have been developed to control boiling using electric fields, but these have required special fluids rather than water, and a thousandfold higher voltages, making them economically impractical for most uses.  Read more

October 30, 2015

introduction to spoken sanskrit workshop

Introductory Spoken Sanskrit Workshop, Oct. 31

Join us on October 31, 2015 10 am – 4:30 pm in 1-242 for an introduction to our weekly Sanskrit Beginner classes.  This free workshop will be a great opportunity to get introduced to the Sanskrit language.  Listen to, speak and learn the first things about the language through the language itself.  No prior knowledge of the language needed.  Lunch will be provided.  Please RSVP here.  Contact:  Photo by Paul Simpson

October 30, 2015

day of the dead celebration

Day of the Dead celebration, Nov. 2

Come celebrate the Day of the Dead (Día de los Muertos) on Monday, November 2, from 10 am – 4 pm in Lobby 10!  We will be setting up the altar at 10 am.  We will have traditional bread (pan de muerto).  Contact:  Photo by Señor Codo

October 30, 2015

mit convoy boston halloween bike ride

MIT Convoy to Halloween Boston Bike Ride, Oct. 31

Boston’s most anticipated and spookiest bike ride is back! Join PN2K and 400+ other cyclists on the annual Halloween Boston Bike Ride on October, 31 at 6:30 pm!  On Halloween evening, meet our convoy at the MIT Student Center front steps; we depart at 6:45 pm sharp. Don’t be late!  Check out the facebook event for MIT convoy here.  Be ready with your own bike, bike lights, helmet, costume, and make sure to dress warmly!  To learn more about what PN2K does (and donate to get a helmet) visit this site.  Contact:  Photo by William Warby

October 29, 2015

IDEAS global challenge

IDEAS Global Challenge Deadline: Oct. 29

Working on an innovative project that makes a positive change in the world?  Enter it into the IDEAS Global Challenge by Thursday, October 29, at 6 pm, for a chance to win up to $10k per team!  Submit a one page Scope Statement to apply for a Development Grant here.  Teams must be led by a full-time MIT student and demonstrate that MIT students have made a significant contribution to the innovation.  Contact:  Photo by Fatima

October 29, 2015

founder of 4Girls GLocal Leadership

GWAMIT Fall Leadership Conference, Nov. 2–5

The 2015 GWAMIT Fall Leadership Conference, takes place next week. This year’s theme is “Making an Impact.” A full week of exciting events and speakers, all across campus, occurs November 2–5, 2015.  The keynote address is given by Jin In, founder of 4Girls GLocal Leadership, Monday, November 2, from 6–7 pm in 32-141. The full schedule is available at  All events are free. Anyone who wants to help setup, cleanup, or take photographs at an event, please email

October 29, 2015

water innovation dinner

Water Innovation Prize Generator Dinner, Oct. 29

Learn about water innovation at MIT and in the community on Thursday, October 29, 6-9 pm in the Lobdell Dining Hall (W20-208).  Pitch your water-related solution or challenge.  Network and find teammates for the competition. Catered dinner provided!  For more info and to RSVP for the dinner please visit this site.  Contact:  Photo by Christine und David Schmitt

October 29, 2015

mit grad students faster optimization algorithm

Lee, Sidford, Wong: A faster optimization algorithm

Optimization problems are everywhere in engineering: Balancing design tradeoffs is an optimization problem, as are scheduling and logistical planning. The theory — and sometimes the implementation — of control systems relies heavily on optimization, and so does machine learning, which has been the basis of most recent advances in artificial intelligence.

This week, at the IEEE Symposium on Foundations of Computer Science, a trio of present and past MIT graduate students won a best-student-paper award for a new “cutting-plane” algorithm, a general-purpose algorithm for solving optimization problems. The algorithm improves on the running time of its most efficient predecessor, and the researchers offer some reason to think that they may have reached the theoretical limit.

But they also present a new method for applying their general algorithm to specific problems, which yields huge efficiency gains — several orders of magnitude.

“What we are trying to do is revive people’s interest in the general problem the algorithm solves,” says Yin-Tat Lee, an MIT graduate student in mathematics and one of the paper’s co-authors. “Previously, people needed to devise different algorithms for each problem, and then they needed to optimize them for a long time. Now we are saying, if for many problems, you have one algorithm, then, in practice, we can try to optimize over one algorithm instead of many algorithms, and we may have a better chance to get faster algorithms for many problems.”

Lee is joined on the paper by Aaron Sidford, who was an MIT graduate student in electrical engineering and computer science when the work was done but is now at Microsoft Research New England, and by Sam Wong, who earned bachelor’s and master’s degrees in math and electrical engineering and computer science at MIT before moving to the University of California at Berkeley for his PhD.  Read more

October 29, 2015

johnny gandelsman bach

Johnny Gandelsman musical performance, Oct. 30

Acclaimed violinist Johnny Gandelsman will be bringing his powerful interpretation of J.S. Bach’s complete Sonatas and Partitas for Solo Violin to MIT on October 30 at 8 pm in MIT Kresge Auditorium (W16). Payment is $20, $10 for students outside of MIT, and free for students with MIT ID’s.  Please reserve/purchase your ticket here.

October 28, 2015

effective CVs GECD workshop

Effective CVs for the academic Job, Oct. 29

The CV is used for the academic job search and in some cases for PhDs seeking a research position in other settings. This workshop will be held on Thursday, October 29, 3-4:30 pm in 4-153 and will cover the important elements of a CV, including strategies for how to showcase your particular knowledge and experiences effectively. We will also discuss some aspects of the academic job search such as writing a research or teaching statement, or obtaining letters of recommendation. It’s helpful to bring a copy of your CV or a draft with you to refer to as we go through the material in the workshop. Advanced registration requested via CareerBridge.  Photo by Eric Robinson


October 28, 2015

ICMECT 2016 Conference paper deadline

2016 Intl. Conf. Material Energy & Control Technology: deadline Nov. 19

The 2016 International Conference on Material Energy & Control Technology (ICMECT 2016) will be held on January 11-13, 2016 in Sousse, Tunisia.  And the deadline to submit a paper for consideration is November 19, 2015.  All accepted papers  will be published in the proceedings of ICMECT’ 2016.  The  proceedings will be indexed in science citation databases that track citation frequency/data. Extended versions of selected papers of the conference will be invited to submit to ISI journals.

The 2016 MECT International Conference invites paper submissions from diverse communities, including researchers from: universities, corporations, government agencies, and standardization bodies. Papers are sought that address solutions to problems in all areas of material energy & control technology and the 2016 MECT International Conference is interested in a list of topics accessible here.

Papers should be typeset by using the general typesetting instructions  available on this site.  Submissions are to be uploaded to the submission/evaluation web site portal

Deadlines and dates:

  • November 19, 2015:  Submission of Papers (see instructions)
  • December 20, 2015:  Notification of acceptance (+/- 2 days)
  • December 30, 2015:  Final papers and Registration for Authors of Accepted Papers
  • January 11-13, 2016: The 2016 International Conference on Material Energy & Control Technology (ICMECT’ 2016) in Sousse, Tunisia

Contact:  Photo by David Gilford

October 28, 2015

Rigol: Making banking more effective for the poor

Graduate student Natalia Rigol has followed an unusual path to MIT: Her childhood in Cuba was tainted by poverty, and then her entire family received hard-to-come-by visas, enabling her to live out her elementary and middle school years in Russia and the Czech Republic — but with little understanding of the local languages.

When she was 13, Rigol’s family settled in the United States, where she finally had access to a middle-class life and a more stable education. Now, she is finishing up her PhD in economics, focusing on the use of finance to help poor individuals break the cycle of poverty.

“I often feel that I’m the product of extraordinary circumstances,” Rigol says. “But you shouldn’t have to be extremely fortunate, like I have been, just to live a decent life.”

Through field research in India, Rigol is hoping to devise alternative ways to deliver financing to poverty-stricken communities. For someone who’s still relatively young, she’s been at it for a while: Her work in this discipline—which she classifies primarily as “development work,”  and secondarily as economics—has been ongoing since 2007, when she was an undergraduate at Harvard University. Read more.

October 28, 2015

macbeth ensemble

MIT Shakespeare Ensemble presents Macbeth, Oct. 30–Nov. 7

Macbeth has a noble goal—or does she? All she wants is power, . . . by any means necessary, including the sword. A prophecy that she shall rule the kingdom sets in motion a bloody chain of events. All hail Macbeth!  Come see the MIT Shakespeare Ensemble’s production of Macbeth (performance dates below), directed by Edward Eaton.

Performance Dates:

  • October 30, 8 pm
  • October 31, 8 pm
  • November 1, 4 pm
  • November 5, 8 pm
  • November 6, 8 pm
  • November 7, 8 pm

All shows are in the MIT Stratton Student Center in La Sala De Puerto Rico.

Reserve your tickets here.  Please arrive 15 minutes before the performance to claim your reservation. Seating is first come, first served.  ​Contact:​



October 27, 2015

Paula Hammond faculty talks chemical engineering

‘Getting from Here to There’ faculty talk: Prof. Paula Hammond, Oct. 28

Want to know how your professors went from being students to accomplished MIT faculty members? On Wednesday, October 28, at 5:15 pm in 6-120, come hear Prof. Paula Hammond talk about her journey from MIT undergrad to leading a nanotechnology lab that devises new drug delivery systems, to heading MIT’s Department of Chemical Engineering.

October 27, 2015

aditi verma nuclear policy

Verma: A multidisciplinary take on nuclear policy

Aditi Verma’s first encounter with nuclear policy was nearly her last. She represented Germany at a high school version of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), and was frustrated by the debate on her group’s topic, nuclear waste. “We had to pass resolutions, but without a science and engineering background, people couldn’t really negotiate,” she recalls.

Today, Verma wonders if this experience paradoxically sparked her interest in the field. A doctoral student in nuclear science and engineering, Verma has spent her academic career acquiring the expertise in science, engineering, and the social sciences required to make sense of complex policy questions that arise around nuclear energy. Her studies have included an internship at the actual IAEA.

Verma’s dissertation, entitled “Towards an International Nuclear Safety Framework,” highlights her distinctive, interdisciplinary approach. She draws on sociology and political science theory and practice, as well as quantitative analysis, to solve what she calls an “empirical puzzle”: how the U.S., French, and Russian nuclear programs developed different safety practices despite starting with similar technologies — and in the case of France, a reactor design identical to and originating from the U.S. (a type of pressurized water reactor).  Read more

October 27, 2015

joan jonas lynne cooke discussion list

A conversation with Joan Jonas & Lynne Cooke, Oct. 28

Join us on October 28 at 6:30 pm in the Bartos Theater (E15-070) to hear Joan Jonas reflect on her work in the 2015 Venice Biennale. She will be in conversation with Lynne Cooke, Senior Curator, Special Projects in Modern Art, at the National Gallery of Art, Washington D.C. For more information, visit this site.


October 27, 2015

no mas bebes film screening

“No mas bebes / No more babies” film screening, Oct. 27

MIT GSL and WGS  present the “No mas bebes” film on Tuesday, October 27, 2015 at 5:30 pm in 32-155.  It is a story about forced sterilization, women of color, and the medical sciences.  The screening will include a Q&A with the filmmaker, Renee Tajima Peña.

Summary: They came to have their babies. They went home sterilized. The story of immigrant mothers who sued county doctors, the state, and the U.S. government after they were prodded into sterilizations while giving birth at the Los Angeles County-USC Medical Center during the 1960s and 70s. Led by an intrepid, 26-year-old Chicana lawyer and armed with hospital records secretly gathered by a whistle-blowing young doctor, the mothers faced public exposure and stood up to powerful institutions in the name of justice.  View the trailer here.

October 26, 2015

Schoellhammer ultrasound drug delivery

Schoellhammer: Using ultrasound to improve drug delivery

Using ultrasound waves, researchers from MIT and Massachusetts General Hospital (MGH) have found a way to enable ultra-rapid delivery of drugs to the gastrointestinal (GI) tract. This approach could make it easier to deliver drugs to patients suffering from GI disorders such as inflammatory bowel disease, ulcerative colitis, and Crohn’s disease, the researchers say.

Currently, such diseases are usually treated with drugs administered as an enema, which must be maintained in the colon for hours while the drug is absorbed. However, this can be difficult for patients who are suffering from diarrhea and incontinence. To overcome that, the researchers sought a way to stimulate more rapid drug absorption.

“We’re not changing how you administer the drug. What we are changing is the amount of time that the formulation needs to be there, because we’re accelerating how the drug enters the tissue,” says Giovanni Traverso, a research affiliate at MIT’s Koch Institute for Integrative Cancer Research, a gastroenterologist at MGH, and one of the senior authors of a paper describing the technique in the Oct. 21 issue of Science Translational Medicine.

“With additional research, our technology could prove invaluable in both clinical and research settings, enabling improved therapies and expansion of research techniques applied to the GI tract. It demonstrates for the first time the active administration of drugs, including biologics, through the GI tract,” says Daniel Blankschtein, the Hermann P. Meissner Professor in Chemical Engineering, who is also a senior author of the paper.

Robert Langer, the David H. Koch Institute Professor at MIT and a member of the Koch Institute, is also a senior author of the paper. The study’s lead author is Carl Schoellhammer, a graduate student in chemical engineering.  Read more

October 26, 2015

stuopis mit medical director

Stuopis ’90: named director of MIT Medical

Cecilia Warpinski Stuopis ’90, who is now vice president and executive medical director for accountable care at the Dartmouth-Hitchcock health system in New Hampshire, will join MIT later this year as director of MIT Medical.

Israel Ruiz, MIT’s executive vice president and treasurer, announced the news today in an email to the MIT community.

Stuopis became vice president of Dartmouth-Hitchcock earlier this year, adding to her role as the health system’s executive medical director for accountable care since 2012. She previously served as chair of the Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology at Dartmouth-Hitchcock Nashua from 2001 to 2012, and as a clinical informatics physician.

Stuopis earned her BS in aeronautics and astronautics from MIT in 1990 and her MD from the University of Nevada School of Medicine in 1996. She completed her residency in obstetrics and gynecology at the Ohio State University College of Medicine in 2000, and currently holds an appointment as a clinical adjunct associate professor at Dartmouth’s Geisel School of Medicine. She will be completing a master’s degree in health care delivery science at Dartmouth in 2016.  Read more

October 26, 2015

student committee openings

Rolling Applications for Institute Committees: deadline Oct. 31

Serving on an Institute Committee as a graduate student provides you with an unparalleled opportunity to significantly impact decisions made by the Institute. You will become a voting member of a committee alongside other students, faculty, staff and administrators. Issues range from student life, education and curriculum, policy, health and community, and matters of the corporation. This is also an invaluable opportunity for personal and professional development that goes beyond your lab, department, and school. Whether you are considering an academic, professional or industrial career, the experience gained by serving on an Institute Committee will prepare you with a unique skill set and a network of diverse collaborators to take on broad challenges.

The following committees have openings this month:


Visit this page for more information on the committees.

To apply to be a graduate student representative on an Institute Committee, please fill out an application form on the GSC website. Applications must be submitted by 11:59 pm on Oct. 31.  Photo by Matylda Czarnecka

October 26, 2015

mit police lunch

MIT Police Awareness Lunch, Oct. 28

Captain Cheryl Vossmer (MIT Police) will be leading a session on safety and awareness when walking around a college campus on Wednesday, October 28, 12–1 pm. Food will be provided.  For more information and to register for the event, please visit this site.  Photo by J J

October 23, 2015

john fernandez esi head architecture

Fernandez named new leader of MIT Environmental Solutions Initiative

John E. Fernandez, a professor of building technology in the Department of Architecture, has been named as the new director of MIT’s Environmental Solutions Initiative (ESI), a campuswide initiative launched in 2014. Fernandez succeeds Susan Solomon, the Ellen Swallow Richards Professor in the Department of Earth, Atmospheric and Planetary Sciences, who has served as the Initiative’s founding director.

“I’m honored to be taking over from such an eminent scientist,” says Fernandez, who has served on the MIT faculty for 16 years. “It’s really humbling to hear her talk about her work and be given the opportunity to extend the reach of the ESI.”

Fernandez’s appointment was announced today in a letter to the MIT community from Provost Martin Schmidt and Vice President for Research Maria Zuber.

“Professor Fernandez approaches this role as a world expert on high-performance, sustainable building materials, as a leading scholar on the resources and infrastructure of cities — home to more than half the human population — and as a practicing architect who has led the design for more than 2.5 million square feet of new construction in cities from Washington, D.C., New York, and Los Angeles to Jakarta, Tokyo, and Shanghai,” Schmidt and Zuber wrote. “A member of our faculty since 1999, he founded and directs the Urban Metabolism Group, a highly multidisciplinary research group that studies how intelligent design and technology can reduce the resource intensity of cities.”  Read more

October 23, 2015

automate big data analysis kanter

Kanter: Automating big-data analysis

Big-data analysis consists of searching for buried patterns that have some kind of predictive power. But choosing which “features” of the data to analyze usually requires some human intuition. In a database containing, say, the beginning and end dates of various sales promotions and weekly profits, the crucial data may not be the dates themselves but the spans between them, or not the total profits but the averages across those spans.

MIT researchers aim to take the human element out of big-data analysis, with a new system that not only searches for patterns but designs the feature set, too. To test the first prototype of their system, they enrolled it in three data science competitions, in which it competed against human teams to find predictive patterns in unfamiliar data sets. Of the 906 teams participating in the three competitions, the researchers’ “Data Science Machine” finished ahead of 615.

In two of the three competitions, the predictions made by the Data Science Machine were 94 percent and 96 percent as accurate as the winning submissions. In the third, the figure was a more modest 87 percent. But where the teams of humans typically labored over their prediction algorithms for months, the Data Science Machine took somewhere between two and 12 hours to produce each of its entries.

“We view the Data Science Machine as a natural complement to human intelligence,” says Max Kanter, whose MIT master’s thesis in computer science is the basis of the Data Science Machine. “There’s so much data out there to be analyzed. And right now it’s just sitting there not doing anything. So maybe we can come up with a solution that will at least get us started on it, at least get us moving.”  Read more

October 23, 2015

Community Giving Annual Book Sale

MIT Community Giving annual book sale accepting donations

MIT Community Giving has hosted many events, including the MIT Charity Comedy Night, and will continue hosting events. Next up is the 10th annual used book fair, on Friday, November 13 in The Bush Room and Monday, November 16 in Memorial Library.

Drop off your used books now through November 10. Collection box drop locations include Whitaker Lobby in Bldg. 25 (MIT Medical), the Credit Union in Bldg. W20 (Student Center), CopyTech in Bldg. 11-004 (basement just off Lobby 7), and others.

Proceeds from the book sale go to United Way, the Margaret Fuller Neighborhood house in Cambridge, and the MIT Community Service Fund.

Other activities coming up include the CASPAR Drive hosted by The Division of Comparative Medicine, The Matching Gift Fundraiser hosted by The Media Lab, and the Science Club for Girls School Supply Drive hosted by The MIT Physics Department. To find out more about community giving activities, read more.

October 22, 2015

ask for help mit

Make an “Ask for Help” sign in Lobby 10, Oct. 22

Drop by to make a poster of your own Asking for Help Message.  For a minute or 5, this Thursday, October 22 from 10 am-2 pm in Lobby 10, use your mind, your hands, and your heart to write MIT a message that it’s okay to ask for help—any time! We’ll be making posters to add to a growing body of #askforhelpMIT messages. We’ll have student reps from various wellness groups.  Please come say hi! We are stronger together!

October 22, 2015

tpp open house

MIT Technology & Policy Program Fall Open House, Oct. 26

The Technology Policy Program (TPP) fall informational open house will be on Monday, October 26, from 3:30-5:30 pm in room E40-380.

TPP is a research based two year master’s program that is housed in the Institute for Data, Systems, and Society within the MIT School of Engineering. In addition to coursework in subjects such as policy making, leadership, law and economics; TPP students conduct research in labs, research centers and working groups, thus developing a dual competency in their respective field and that of policy. Since the format of TPP is that of a standard School of Engineering masters degree, it can often be done as a dual degree with one single thesis satisfying both programs.

TPP graduates enter fields in industry, government, regulatory agencies and consulting, and they help to guide in technology development and deployment. TPP fills a gap that traditional policy or science programs leave behind.

If you are unable to attend the open house, TPP hosts informational webinars throughout the fall. To RSVP for a webinar, please visit our TPP web site.  Photo by Jeff Kubina

October 22, 2015

Community Service

Community service work-study jobs

Community Service Work-Study (CSWS) connects Federal Work-Study (FWS) eligible undergraduate and GRADUATE students to paid off-campus community service with public and private nonprofits; it’s not necessarily “direct” service. Some examples include designing a new website for a community organization, developing a PR campaign, doing environmental research, helping a small agency with fundraising events, and assisting with a GIS mapping project.

Some benefits of CSWS include being connected to diverse cultures and communities, other students, potential employers, professional networks, and people who share your passions and interests. It makes you feel good as you give back and make a difference, to pay for your education and have fun! It helps you build your career by developing skills, exploring careers and job fields, reflecting on interests and values, applying problem solving skills to real-life issues, and getting references. It’s an opportunity for personal growth, reflection on values and beliefs, and embracement of flexibility and change.

FWS eligibility is listed as part of your financial aid package. Not all students with financial aid are FWS eligible. International students do not qualify for FWS. To find out if you are eligible, contact

October 22, 2015

Eastgate and Westgate Childcare Providers

Eastgate/Westgate childcare provider sessions, Oct. 22, 23

Of particular interest to residents of Eastgate and Westgate, and especially to spouses and partners, four information sessions coming up in October address “Becoming a Licensed Family Childcare Provider” in the new MIT Campus Family Childcare network.

Once providers have taken the training and become licensed, planned for about January 2016, the childcare network will host infosessions for MIT grad students in need of affordable campus childcare options.

The October sessions are for anyone interested in the process of becoming a provider.

  • Wed. Oct. 14 at 10 am, in Westgate Lounge
  • Thu. Oct. 15 at 3 pm, in Eastgate Lounge
  • Thu. Oct. 22 at 3 pm, in Westgate Lounge
  • Fri. Oct. 23 at 10 am, in Eastgate Lounge

Licensed MIT Childcare providers in the network will run their own business and set their own fees and contracts, earning about $8-10 per child per hour. The sessions will explain the financial assistance available for start-up costs and technical assistance provided to you to help you through the licensing process with the Massachusetts Office of Early Education and Care (EEC). You will also learn about the professional trainings, marketing materials, and referrals that this program can provide. There will be ongoing assistance and networking with other Family Childcare Providers. Bring all you questions to the session. RSVP to Nina Dickerman at: or 617-603-4644.

October 22, 2015

beem artificial whisker

Beem: Artificial whisker models harbor seal’s prey-sensing ability

Engineers at MIT have fabricated and tested a large-scale model of a harbor seal’s whisker, and identified a mechanism that may explain how seals sense their environment and track their prey. The team found that a seal’s whiskers serve two main functions in sensing the environment: first remaining still in response to a seal’s own movements through the water, and then oscillating in a “slaloming” motion in response to the turbulence left by a moving object.

In their experiments, the researchers observed that once the fabricated whisker enters the wake left by a passing object, it starts vibrating at the same frequency as the wake’s passing vortices. Careful visualizations show that the whisker “slaloms” among the vortices, like a skier zigzagging between flags. The research shows that this slaloming allows the whisker to extract energy from the wake, causing it to vibrate at the precise frequency of the wake — a mechanism that may give seals a clue to an object’s path, its size, and even its shape.

Michael Triantafyllou, the William I. Koch Professor in MIT’s Department of Mechanical Engineering, says that biologically inspired sensors, modeled after the harbor seal’s whiskers, may aid underwater vehicles in tracking schools of fish, as well as sources of pollution — a goal that he is currently working toward.

He and former graduate student Heather Beem, whose PhD thesis formed the basis of the work, have published their results in the Journal of Fluid Mechanics.  Read more

October 22, 2015

Kelly Hopkins, Soprano

Kelly Hopkins, soprano, with Yukiko Ueno Egozy, piano, Oct. 23

MIT Artists Beyond The Desk Presents: Kelly Hopkins, Soprano with Yukiko Ueno Egozy, Piano, Friday October 23rd at noon Killian Hall (Building 14W-11).

Kelly A. Hopkins, soprano, is a graduate of the voice program at Boston University and a former student of Robert Honeysucker. She has been a soloist and featured performer with The Back Bay Chorale, The Providence Singers, The Seraphim Singers, in the Music at Mission concert series, Marsh Chapel Music, Philovox, The Boston Bach Ensemble, Ensemble St. Germain, Trinity Church Copley Square, and many other groups.

Yukiko Ueno Egozy is a Boston-based pianist and teacher. She has served as the pianist of the Handel & Haydn Society Vocal Quartet, which presents interactive lecture-concerts to urban school districts. As an accompanist, Yukiko performs regularly for instrumental and vocal recitals at schools and universities in the metropolitan Boston area.

October 21, 2015

gecd international interview workshop

Interviewing for International Students workshop, Oct. 22

Learn how to develop and enhance your interviewing skills!  This GECD workshop on Thursday, October 22 from 1–2:30 pm in 26-168 will cover topics such as types of interview questions, appropriate dress, and important tips to think about before, during and after the interview. This session will focus specifically on challenges many international students may face when interviewing in the US.  Please registration in advance here.  Photo by Alex France

October 21, 2015

effective presentations workshop gecd

Effective Presentations workshop, Oct. 21

Do you present your work to your lab, at conferences, or to hiring committees? If so, this workshop is designed to provide you with strategies for delivering an effective presentation.  The workshop will be held in 3-370 on Wednesday, October 21 from 2:30-4 pm.  Discussions will include room set-up, proper dress, room management, and actual professional delivery to your audience. All GECD events are open to MIT undergraduates, graduate students, postdocs, and alumni. Advanced registration is requested via CareerBridge.  Photo by kris krüg


October 21, 2015

App to manage food waste by Sloan MBAs

Malina and Ashenfelter: App to manage food waste by Sloan MBAs

Spoiler Alert, founded by Emily Malina and Ricky Ashenfelter, while working toward their Sloan MBA’s last year, has launched an app to address food waste issues. The app helps organizations and companies manage their surplus food and organic waste by connecting them with organizations that can use them.

With the Spoiler Alert app, the store with the surplus vegetables can post what is available, and nearby food rescue organizations can respond and pick up the food in time to provide the still-fresh items to people who could use them.

“It is designed to seamlessly connect all aspects of the food supply chain,” Ashenfelter says. The app is available through iTunes, and businesses can sign up on the company’s website. Malina and Ashenfelter’s work made headlines this summer in The Boston Globe, Fortune,The Economist, and Tech Crunch. to name a few. The team is currently working on a Web platform as well and is building a version that will be compatible with Android devices. Read more.

October 21, 2015

keith ellenbogen A Window into the Underwater World

“A Window Into the Underwater World” photography seminar, Oct. 21

Please join us on October 21, 5 pm in Physics’ Cosman Seminar Room, 6C-442 for A Window Into the Underwater World: Framing Fish at the New England Aquarium, the next seminar in MIT CAST visiting artist, Keith Ellenbogen’s underwater photography series.  Presentation and discussion by Ellenbogen and Steve Bailey, Curator of Fishes New England Aquarium.  Photo Keith Ellenbogen

October 20, 2015

meet the mit emts

Meet the EMTs, Oct. 22

Come to meet the EMTs that staff and work the MIT Ambulance on Thursday, October 22, 8-9 pm in 5-134! Learn about the service and how you can receive your certification for free through MIT-EMS. Food will be provided.

Also make sure to apply online for the free IAP class.  The deadline is October 31. For other questions, vist the EMT site.  Contact:  Photo by Colleen Lane

October 20, 2015

biotech finance andrew lo

Andrew Lo and the importance of finance in biotech, Oct. 21

Are you a life sciences researcher? Are you considering in a career in biotech?  Come listen to Andrew Lo shine light on the financial side of the biotechnology industry!  The talk will be held on October 21 at 4 pm in the Broad Institute First Floor Auditorium.

Afterward, there will be a reception in the Broad Institute Lobby. Contact:  Photo by Novartis AG

October 20, 2015

larry susskind lecture dinner

Lecture & Dinner with Prof. Lawrence Susskind, Oct. 21

The MIT Sidney-Pacific Presidential Fellows Distinguished Lecture Series cordially invites you to a lecture and dinner with Prof. Lawrence Susskind on Wednesday, October 21 at 6:30 pm in the Sidney Pacific Multipurpose Room. The topic of the lecture is “The Theory and Practice of Conflict Resolution: From Global Conflicts Over Climate Change to Disputes in the Lab.”

Larry Susskind is Ford Professor of Urban and Environmental Planning in the Department of Urban Studies and Planning.  He is also the co-Founder and Vice-Chair of the Program on Negotiation at Harvard Law School and consults for resource disputes around the world.

All attendees must RSVP in advance. Contact:

October 20, 2015

dalca alzheimers brain

Dalca: Predicting change in the Alzheimer’s brain

MIT researchers are developing a computer system that uses genetic, demographic, and clinical data to help predict the effects of disease on brain anatomy.

In experiments, they trained a machine-learning system on MRI data from patients with neurodegenerative diseases and found that supplementing that training with other patient information improved the system’s predictions. In the cases of patients with drastic changes in brain anatomy, the additional data cut the predictions’ error rate in half, from 20 percent to 10 percent.

“This is the first paper that we’ve ever written on this,” says Polina Golland, a professor of electrical engineering and computer science at MIT and the senior author on the new paper. “Our goal is not to prove that our model is the best model to do this kind of thing; it’s to prove that the information is actually in the data. So what we’ve done is, we take our model, and we turn off the genetic information and the demographic and clinical information, and we see that with combined information, we can predict anatomical changes better.”

First author on the paper is Adrian Dalca, an MIT graduate student in electrical engineering and computer science and a member of Golland’s group at MIT’s Computer Science and Artificial Intelligence Laboratory. They’re joined by Ramesh Sridharan, another PhD student in Golland’s group, and by Mert Sabuncu, an assistant professor of radiology at Massachusetts General Hospital, who was a postdoc in Golland’s group.  Read more

October 20, 2015

improv comedy public speaking

Improv comedy workshop to improve presentation skills, Oct. 22

Have you had that awkward moment in a presentation where someone asks a really weird question?  Do you fear what a committee member may ask in your thesis defense?  This improv workshop, held on October 22, 3-4:30 pm in 4-153, will help develop skills to respond to such situations and think on your feet.  We will be doing improv comedy exercises to develop a comfort with engaging others. Participants should expect to participate actively.  Please sign up here.  Contact:  Photo by John Morrison

October 19, 2015

mit canadians research symposium

MIT Canadian Research Symposium , Oct. 20

The Canadian Club is hosting a research symposium on October 20, 6 pm to bring together Canadians and all friends of Canada! Everyone is welcome!  The event will begin with a keynote talk by Dr. George Kenney (3-333), board member of the Canadian Entrepreneurs of New England.  Following the talk, students will showcase their work during a poster session mixer (5-234)! Refreshments will be served.  Poster presenters will be invited early to enjoy dinner before the keynote!  Please RSVP to attend and let us know if you are bringing a poster here.  Contact:  Photo by Steve Richardson

October 19, 2015

mass awis science writing panel

Writing in Science, career panel, Oct. 20

Interested in a career in science writing? Having trouble finishing up that final paper? These panelists have seen and heard it all! Attend an intimate panel discussion with some of the industry’s top science writers hosted by MASS AWIS. The discussion will be moderated by Dr. Janice Kranz and will be held on Tuesday, October 20, 6-8:30 pm, in The Broad Institute, Monadnock Room (415 Main St. Cambridge 02142).  Please register for the panel here.  Photo by Kirsten

October 19, 2015

david hill computational models

Hill: Enhancing movement with computational models

It’s not every day that graduate students get to test out their research on their advisors. But MIT’s David Hill, a PhD student in media arts and sciences, builds computational models of human locomotion, which are the basis for designing ever-better prosthetics—and his advisor, Hugh Herr, an associate professor of media arts and sciences, is a double amputee.

Hill says living in the world of theoretical models can be somewhat insular, so having a real-life example of someone who can benefit from—and pilot—some of the work he does is part of what helps him stay focused. “I don’t ever want to do research that doesn’t benefit someone else’s life directly,” Hill says.  Read more

October 19, 2015

Screening of FAUST on Oct. 30

There will be a film Screening of FAUST on October 30, at 8 pm at Killian Hall.  FAUST is  a 1926 Silent Film by F. W. Murnau, with live musical accompaniment, created and performed by Martin Marks, with soprano Divya Pillai (G).  Photo by Insane Focus

October 16, 2015

voigts How the brain controls sleep

Voigts: How the brain controls sleep

MIT neuroscientists have discovered a brain circuit that can trigger small regions of the brain to fall asleep or become less alert, while the rest of the brain remains awake. The circuit originates in a brain structure known as the thalamic reticular nucleus (TRN), which relays signals to the thalamus and then the brain’s cortex, inducing pockets of the slow, oscillating brain waves characteristic of deep sleep. Slow oscillations also occur during coma and general anesthesia, and are associated with decreased arousal. With enough TRN activity, these waves can take over the entire brain.

The researchers believe the TRN may help the brain consolidate new memories by coordinating slow waves between different parts of the brain, allowing them to share information more easily. “During sleep, maybe specific brain regions have slow waves at the same time because they need to exchange information with each other, whereas other ones don’t,” says Laura Lewis, a research affiliate in MIT’s Department of Brain and Cognitive Sciences and one of the lead authors of the new study, appearing in the journal eLife.

The TRN may also be responsible for what happens in the brain when sleep-deprived people experience brief sensations of “zoning out” while struggling to stay awake, the researchers say.

The paper’s other first author is Jakob Voigts, an MIT graduate student in brain and cognitive sciences. Senior authors are Emery Brown, the Edward Hood Taplin Professor of Medical Engineering and Computational Neuroscience at MIT and an anesthesiologist at Massachusetts General Hospital, and Michael Halassa, an assistant professor at New York University. Other authors are MIT research affiliate Francisco Flores and Matthew Wilson, the Sherman Fairchild Professor in Neurobiology and a member of MIT’s Picower Institute for Learning and Memory.  Read more

October 16, 2015

igrad financial literacy

Securing Graduate and Postdoc Fellowships, lunch workshop, Oct. 20

The next workshop in the ODGE Financial Literacy for Graduate Student series is fast approaching. On October 20 from 12-1:30 pm, in 68-180 Scott Tirrell, Manager of Graduate Fellowships will lead a workshop on securing fellowships.

During the workshop he will walk through the application process, provide tips on personal statements and research proposals, and give an overview of the types of resources available. Students who have received fellowships will also be available to discuss their own experiences. And there will be time for answering participants’ questions as well. October–November is fellowship deadline season, but this presentation is not just for those looking for funding now.  Those who are planning for the future are also welcomed and encouraged to attend.

 It is suggested that interested students RSVP here (Free pizza!).  More information on the ODGE Financial Literacy Initiative can be found here. Read more

October 16, 2015

diversity towards institutional transformation panel

NRMN forum on diversity best practices, Oct. 16

The National Research Mentoring Network to Diversify the Biomedical Workforce (NRMN), headquartered at Boston College, invites you to a forum where outstanding leaders who have led innovative initiatives to address this issue on their campuses for undergraduates, graduate students, postdoctoral fellows and faculty, will discuss their programs.  The forum will be held on Friday, October 16, 12:30-4 pm in the Murray Function Room, Boston College.  This presentation will allow for an open discussion on the best practices and how you might implement change at your institution to create a more inclusive environment. Participate in our panel discussion about the challenges and opportunities of diversifying the science workforce, and network with other leaders committed to institutional diversity and inclusion in New England.

Following the panel presentation, one of our panelists Dr. John Matsui from the University of California, Berkeley and a recent awardee of the Presidential Award for Excellence in Science, Mathematics and Engineering Mentoring will present a Keynote talk on his journey.  Please make sure to RSVP here.  Photo by tylerhoff

October 15, 2015

Path to Professorship workshop

Path of Professorship 2015 Workshop: deadline Oct. 15

Path of Professorship is a 1.5 day workshop that provides women who are considering academic careers in science, technology, engineering and math with insights, tools, strategies and insider information that will help them to be successful in their job search and on the tenure track.  Over the course of the workshop, participants will hear from more than 20 extraordinary women faculty from diverse institutions, and they will have an opportunity to network with approximately 70 women with similar aspirations.  Preference is given to graduate students who are within 2 years of degree completion.  Applications for the workshop are due by October 15, 2015 and the workshop will take place on Friday, November 20th, and Saturday, November 21.  Visit this site for more information and to apply to the workshop.
Attendees learn:

  • Key strategies for applying and interviewing for academic positions
  • The importance of networking and how to manage networking with peers and superiors
  • Insights from deans and department chairs about what to negotiate for once you have the offer
  • Advice from faculty on things you can do now and during your hire to make your tenure-track years as smooth and successful as possible
  • Characteristics of different types of universities
  • Advice on maintaining a balanced life, in light of the rigorous demands of a career in academia

Note: materials and meals will be provided

October 15, 2015

mit gecd linkedin lab

LinkedIn Lab, Oct. 15

Join the MIT GECD in the LinkedIn Lab on Thursday, October 15, 2:30-4 pm in 5-217.  Find out how to go beyond the basics and learn how to build an online portfolio, how to reach third and fourth degree connections, and how to engage effectively with contacts. Please create a LinkedIn profile before hand and bring a laptop.  Advanced registration is requested via CareerBridge  Photo by Sheila Scarborough


October 15, 2015

hong brain identify objects

Hong: How the brain identifies objects

When the eyes are open, visual information flows from the retina through the optic nerve and into the brain, which assembles this raw information into objects and scenes.

Scientists have previously hypothesized that objects are distinguished in the inferior temporal (IT) cortex, which is near the end of this flow of information, also called the ventral stream. Anew study from MIT neuroscientists offers evidence that this is indeed the case.

Using data from both humans and nonhuman primates, the researchers found that neuron firing patterns in the IT cortex correlate strongly with success in object-recognition tasks.

“While we knew from prior work that neuronal population activity in inferior temporal cortex was likely to underlie visual object recognition, we did not have a predictive map that could accurately link that neural activity to object perception and behavior. The results from this study demonstrate that a particular map from particular aspects of IT population activity to behavior is highly accurate over all types of objects that were tested,” says James DiCarlo, head of MIT’s Department of Brain and Cognitive Sciences, a member of the McGovern Institute for Brain Research, and senior author of the study, which appears in the Journal of Neuroscience.

The paper’s lead author is Najib Majaj, a former postdoc in DiCarlo’s lab who is now at New York University. Other authors are former MIT graduate student Ha Hong and former MIT undergraduate Ethan Solomon.  Read more