MIT News - National relations and service MIT News is dedicated to communicating to the media and the public the news and achievements of the students, faculty, staff and the greater MIT community. en Tue, 21 Apr 2020 15:15:01 -0400 Professor Daniela Rus named to White House science council CSAIL director and MIT Schwarzman College of Computing deputy dean of research will serve on the President’s Council of Advisors on Science and Technology. Tue, 21 Apr 2020 15:15:01 -0400 Adam Conner-Simons | MIT CSAIL <p>This week the White House announced that MIT Professor Daniela Rus, director of MIT’s Computer Science and Artificial Intelligence Laboratory (CSAIL), has been selected to serve on the President’s Council of Advisors on Science and Technology (PCAST).</p> <p>The council provides advice to the White House on topics critical to U.S. security and the economy, including policy recommendations on the future of work, American leadership in science and technology, and the support of U.S. research and development.&nbsp;</p> <p>PCAST operates under the aegis of the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy (OSTP), which was established in law in 1976. However, the council has existed more informally going back to Franklin Roosevelt’s Science Advisory Board in 1933.</p> <p>“I’m grateful to be able to add my perspective as a computer scientist to this group at a time when so many issues involving AI and other aspects of computing raise important scientific and policy questions for the nation and the world,” says Rus.<br /> &nbsp;<br /> Rus is the Andrew and Erna Viterbi Professor of Electrical Engineering and Computer Science at MIT and the deputy dean of research for the MIT Stephen A. Schwarzman College of Computing. Her research in robotics, artificial intelligence, and data science focuses primarily on developing the science and engineering of autonomy, with the long-term objective of enabling a future where machines are integrated into daily life to support both cognitive and physical tasks. The applications of her work are broad and include transportation, manufacturing, medicine, and urban planning.&nbsp;<br /> &nbsp;<br /> More than a dozen MIT faculty and alumni have served on PCAST during past presidential administrations. These include former MIT president Charles Vest; Institute Professors Phillip Sharp and John Deutch; Ernest Moniz, professor of physics and former U.S. Secretary of Energy; and Eric Lander, director of the Broad Institute of MIT and Harvard and professor of biology, who co-chaired PCAST during the Obama administration. Previous councils have offered advice on topics ranging from <a href="" target="_blank">data privacy</a> and <a href="" target="_blank">nanotechnology</a> to <a href="" target="_blank">job training</a> and <a href="" target="_blank">STEM education</a>.</p> Daniela Rus is the director of MIT’s Computer Science and Artificial Intelligence Laboratory (CSAIL), deputy dean of research for the MIT Schwarzman College of Computing, and the Andrew and Erna Viterbi Professor of Electrical Engineering and Computer Science at MIT.Photo: Jason Dorfman/MIT CSAILIndustry, National relations and service, Policy, Government, Public service, Technology and society, Faculty, Computer Science and Artificial Intelligence Laboratory (CSAIL), Electrical Engineering & Computer Science (eecs), School of Engineering, MIT Schwarzman College of Computing, Artificial intelligence Robert Langer named 2018 US Science Envoy Institute Professor chosen to help forge connections and identify opportunities for sustained international cooperation. Mon, 18 Jun 2018 14:45:01 -0400 Melanie Miller Kaufman | Department of Chemical Engineering <p>Robert S. Langer, the David H. Koch (1962) Institute Professor at MIT, has been named one of five U.S. Science Envoys for 2018. As a Science Envoy for Innovation, Langer will focus on novel approaches in biomaterials, drug delivery systems, nanotechnology, tissue engineering, and the U.S. approach to research commercialization.</p> <p>One of 13 Institute Professors at MIT, Langer has written more than 1,400 articles. He also has over 1,300 issued and pending patents worldwide. Langer's patents have been licensed or sublicensed to over 350 pharmaceutical, chemical, biotechnology and medical device companies. He is the most cited engineer in history (h-index 253 with over 254,000 citations, according to Google Scholar).</p> <p>Langer is one of four living individuals to have received both the United States National Medal of Science (2006) and the United States National Medal of Technology and Innovation (2011). He has received over 220 major awards, including the 1998 Lemelson-MIT Prize, the world's largest prize for invention, for being "one of history's most prolific inventors in medicine."</p> <p>Created in 2010, the Science Envoy Program engages eminent U.S. scientists and engineers to help forge connections and identify opportunities for sustained international cooperation. Science Envoys engage internationally at the citizen and government levels to enhance relationships between other nations and the United States, develop partnerships, and improve collaboration. These scientists leverage their international leadership, influence, and expertise in priority countries to advance solutions to shared science and technology challenges. Science Envoys travel as private citizens and usually serve for one year.</p> <p>Previous Science Envoys with connections to MIT include Susan Hockfield, president emerita of MIT, and Alice P. Gast, president of Lehigh University and former chemical engineering professor at MIT.</p> Institute Professor Robert LangerImage: Science History Institute/Wikimedia CommonsAwards, honors and fellowships, National relations and service, Global, Chemical engineering, Invention, Faculty, School of Engineering, Koch Institute, International initiatives 3Q: Institute Professor John Deutch on maintaining US leadership in technological innovation Putting limits on foreign students or technical publications would be counterproductive, write Deutch and Condoleezza Rice. Fri, 15 Dec 2017 00:00:00 -0500 David L. Chandler | MIT News Office <p><em>MIT Institute Professor John Deutch, who has been on the MIT faculty since 1970, has served as a department head, dean of the School of Science, and provost, and has published over 160 technical publications as well as numerous publications on technology, energy, international security, and public policy issues. He served in the U.S. government as director of central intelligence from 1995 to 1996, as deputy secretary of defense from 1994 to 1995, and in other posts in the departments of Defense and Energy. He is a member of the nonpartisan Aspen Strategy Group, which is composed of current and former policymakers, academics, journalists, and business leaders whose aim is to explore foreign policy and national security challenges facing the United States. The group</em> <em>has just released its annual report, and it includes a chapter co-written by Deutch and former U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice, about how the U.S. should deal with the risk of losing important intellectual property rights regarding technological innovations, in the face of efforts by China to acquire such technology through underhanded means. </em>MIT News<em> asked Deutch to describe the potential risks and remedies for such actions that he and Rice outlined in their report.</em></p> <p><strong>Q: </strong>What was the challenge that you and Prof. Rice, now at Stanford Business School, were asked to address in this piece, and what conclusions did you reach?</p> <p><strong>A: </strong>This year the subject [of the Aspen Strategy Group’s annual report] was the future challenges we see for policy. There was a lot of talk about China and what its relationship with the United States is likely to be, and in the course of this there was a lot of discussion about national security and the tremendous emphasis in China's new five-year plan on technology, in key areas such as robotics, artificial intelligence, and machine learning. There also was a great deal of discussion about nefarious activities by some in China, including trying to get certain Chinese nationals who live here to provide information to the Chinese government to help them acquire this advanced technology. As a result of that, there's been a hint of a new set of proposals from some elements of the natonal security community to, first, control information in the United States from leaving the country, and, second, restrict Chinese nationals from participating in certain kinds of research projects. Condi and I decided to write a short piece about the danger of these proposals.</p> <p>Basically our view was, yes, the Chinese are putting a greater emphasis on technology; they are growing very fast and they're increasingly competent, and so we should expect greater competition. And yes, they are performing illegal acts against the U.S., especially theft of intellectual property. The U.S. should do everything it can to push back on that effort and prevent it if possible. But the idea that we should respond to this threat by either restricting access to U.S. universities or keeping our ideas in the United States is completely wrong. We'll lose the tremendous advantage we have of an open university system if we do that. The only answer is for U.S. universities to do even more in pursuing their great record of being innovative and creative.</p> <p><strong>Q: </strong>Do you think it's possible to maintain academic freedom of information in the context of dealing with people who may not share our commitment to protecting intellectual property?</p> <p><strong>A: </strong>In such a situation, we need to recognize that we will have some losses. But there will be more severe effects on our innovative enterprise, which is the best in the world, if we start trying to stop these losses by applying restrictions. Universities aren't very good, first of all, at assessing the nature of the risk [of intellectual-property loss] and, second, at deciding what restrictive measures should be put in place. So, both my co-author Condi and I believe, keep the system open. Recognize that you will have some losses, but do what you do well.</p> <p>Universities should make sure that our scholarly efforts and our educational efforts permit advances in key areas where fundamental research and practical application come together, in health, energy, and environment, including an emphasis on innovation. And we see that happening. By the way, much as the Chinese universities are improving, they do not have the kind of ecosystem that is so strong here, in terms of promoting innovation, creativity, and getting important things implemented in the private sector.</p> <p><strong>Q: &nbsp;</strong>So are there specific measures that universities should be taking to address these efforts to exploit U.S. innovations, or is your advice that they should avoid taking any special measures?</p> <p><strong>A: </strong>My answer is no, there are not specific measures they should take, but it is very important that the administrative leadership of the university understands the concerns in Washington, appreciates the risks, and doesn’t enter into joint projects that could really lead to a loss of sensitive technology.</p> <p>The universities should try and explain to the government that we think the proper response here is better performance by U.S. universities, rather than trying to keep people out or keep our ideas in.</p> <p>I think one should expect that the technical competence of China will continue to improve, because of the capabilities of its people and the significant amount of resources the Chinese are putting into technology leadership in a variety of fields. We should expect that. How much of an advantage is given to China by their quite sustained illegal efforts to acquire technology from both the United States and Europe? I think it is helpful but by no means the most important or the determining factor in their advance.</p> <p>This short piece with Condi Rice is not so much directed to U.S. universities; rather it is directed to the government and the national security community, to say to them, be cautious here — don't throw the baby out with the bathwater.</p> MIT Institute Professor John Deutch Image: Donna CoveneyFaculty, Intellectual property, Invention, National relations and service, International relations, Innovation and Entrepreneurship (I&E), China, Government, Policy, Technology and society, Chemistry, School of Science New institute will accelerate innovations in fibers and fabrics National public-private consortium led by MIT will involve manufacturers, universities, agencies, companies. Fri, 01 Apr 2016 00:14:59 -0400 David L. Chandler | MIT News Office <p>An independent nonprofit founded by MIT has been selected to run a new, $317 million public-private partnership announced today by Secretary of Defense Ashton Carter.</p> <p>The partnership, named the Advanced Functional Fabrics of America (AFFOA) Institute, has won a national competition for federal funding to create the latest Manufacturing Innovation Institute. It is designed to accelerate innovation in high-tech, U.S.-based manufacturing involving fibers and textiles.</p> <p>The proposal for the institute was led by Professor Yoel Fink, director of MIT’s Research Laboratory of Electronics (RLE). The partnership includes 32 universities, 16 industry members, 72 manufacturing entities, and 26 startup incubators, spread across 27 states and Puerto Rico.</p> <p>This is the eighth <a href="">Manufacturing Innovation Institute</a> established to date, and the first to be headquartered in New England. The headquarters will be established in Cambridge, Massachusetts, in proximity to the MIT campus and its U.S. Army-funded Institute for Soldier Nanotechnology, as well as the Natick Soldier Research Development and Engineering Center.</p> <p>This unique partnership, Fink says, has the potential to create a whole new industry, based on breakthroughs in fiber materials and manufacturing. These new fibers and the fabrics made from them will have the ability to see, hear, and sense their surroundings; communicate; store and convert energy; monitor health; control temperature; and change their color.</p> <p>The new initiative will receive $75 million in federal funding out of a total of $317 million through cost sharing among the Department of Defense, industrial partners, venture capitalists, universities, nonprofits, and states including the Commonwealth of Massachusetts. The initial funding will cover a five-year period and will be administered through the new, independent, nonprofit organization set up for the purpose. The partnership, which will focus on both developing new technologies and training the workforce needed to operate and maintain these production systems, also includes a network of community colleges and experts in career and technical education for manufacturing.</p> <p>“Massachusetts’s innovation ecosystem is reshaping the way that people interact with the world around them,” says Massachusetts Gov. Charlie Baker. “This manufacturing innovation institute will be the national leader in developing and commercializing textiles with extraordinary properties. It will extend to an exciting new field our ongoing efforts to nurture emerging industries, and grow them to scale in Massachusetts. And it will serve as a vital piece of innovation infrastructure, to support the development of the next generation of manufacturing technology, and the development of a highly skilled workforce.”</p> <p>“Through this manufacturing innovation institute, Massachusetts researchers and Massachusetts employers will collaborate to unlock new advances in military technology, medical care, wearable technology, and fashion,”&nbsp;adds Massachusetts Lt. Gov. Karyn Polito. “This, in turn, will help drive business expansion, support the competitiveness of local manufacturers, and create new employment opportunities for residents across the Commonwealth.”</p> <p>Announcing the new institute at an event at MIT, Carter stressed the importance of technology and innovation to the mission of the Department of Defense and to national security broadly: “The intersection of the two is truly an opportunity-rich environment. These issues matter. They have to do with our protection and our security, and creating a world where our fellow citizens can go to school and live their lives, and dream their dreams, and one day give their children a better future. Helping defend your country and making a better world is one of the noblest things that a business leader, a technologist, an entrepreneur, or a young person can do, and we’re all grateful to all of you for doing that with us.”</p> <p><strong>A new age of fabrics</strong></p> <p>For thousands of years, humans have used fabrics in much the same way, to provide basic warmth and aesthetics. Clothing represents “one of the most ancient forms of human expression,” Fink says, but one that is now, for the first time, poised to undergo a profound transformation — the dawn of a “fabric revolution.”</p> <p>“What makes this point in time different? The answer is research,” Fink says: Objects that serve many complex functions are always made of multiple materials, whereas single-material objects, such as a drinking glass, usually have just a single, simple function. But now, new technology — some of it developed in Fink’s own laboratory — is changing all that, making it possible to integrate many materials and complex functional structures into a fabric’s very fibers, and to create fiber-based devices and functional fabric systems.</p> <p>The semiconductor industry has shown how to combine millions of transistors into an integrated circuit that functions as a system; as described by “Moore’s law,” the number of devices and functions has doubled in computer chips every couple of years. Fink says the team envisions that the number of functions in a fiber will grow with similar speed, paving the way for highly functional fabrics.</p> <p>The challenge now is to execute this vision, Fink says. While many textile and apparel companies and universities have figured out pieces of this puzzle, no single one has figured it all out.</p> <p>“It turns out there is no company or university in the world that knows how to do all of this,” Fink says. “Instead of creating a single brick-and-mortar center, we set out to assemble and organize companies and universities that have manufacturing and ‘making’ capabilities into a network — a ‘distributed foundry’ capable of addressing the manufacturing challenges. To date, 72 manufacturing entities have signed up to be part of our network.”</p> <p>“With a capable manufacturing network in place,” Fink adds, “the question becomes: How do we encourage and foster product innovation in this new area?” The answer, he says, lies at the core of AFFOA’s activities: Innovators across the country will be invited to execute “advanced fabric” products on prototyping and pilot scales. Moreover, the center will link these innovators with funding from large companies and venture capital investors, to execute their ideas through the manufacturing stage. The center will thus lower the barrier to innovation and unleash product creativity in this new domain, he says.</p> <p><strong>Promoting leadership in manufacturing </strong></p> <p>The federal selection process for the new institute was administered by the U.S. Department of Defense’s Manufacturing Technology Program and the U.S. Army’s Natick Soldier Research, Development and Engineering Center and Contracting Command in New Jersey. Retired Gen. Paul J. Kern will serve as chairman of the AFFOA Institute.</p> <p>As explained in the original call for proposals to create this institute, the aim is to ensure “that America leads in the manufacturing of new products from leading edge innovations in fiber science, commercializing fibers and textiles with extraordinary properties. Known as technical textiles, these modern day fabrics and fibers boast novel properties ranging from being incredibly lightweight and flame resistant, to having exceptional strength. Technical textiles have wide-ranging applications, from advancing capabilities of protective gear allowing fire fighters to battle the hottest flames, to ensuring that a wounded soldier is effectively treated with an antimicrobial compression bandage and returned safely.”</p> <p>In addition to Fink, the new partnership will include Tom Kochan, the George Maverick Bunker Professor of Management at MIT’s Sloan School of Management, who will serve as chief workforce officer coordinating the nationwide education and workforce development (EWD) plan. Pappalardo Professor of Mechanical Engineering Alexander Slocum will be the EWD deputy for education innovation. Other key MIT participants will include professors Krystyn Van Vliet from the Materials Science and Engineering and Biological Engineering departments; Peko Hosoi and Kripa Varanasi from the Department of Mechanical Engineering; and Gregory Rutledge from the Department of Chemical Engineering.</p> <p>Among the industry partners who will be members of the partnership are companies such as Warwick Mills, DuPont, Steelcase, Nike, and Corning. Among the academic partners are Drexel University, the University of Massachusetts at Amherst, the University of Georgia, the University of Tennessee, and the University of Texas at Austin.</p> <p>In a presentation last fall about the proposed partnership, MIT President L. Rafael Reif said, “We believe that partnerships — with industry and government and across academia — are critical to our capacity to create positive change.” He added, “Our nation has no shortage of smart, ambitious people with brilliant new ideas. But if we want a thriving economy, producing more and better jobs, we need more of those ideas to get to market faster.” Accelerating such implementation is at the heart of the new partnership’s goals.</p> <p><strong>Connecting skills, workers, and jobs</strong></p> <p>This partnership, Reif said, will be “a system that connects universities and colleges with motivated companies and with far-sighted government agencies, so we can learn from each other and work with each other. A system that connects workers with skills, and skilled workers with jobs. And a system that connects advanced technology ideas to the marketplace or to those who can get them to market.”</p> <p>Part of the power of this new collaboration, Fink says, is combining the particular skills and resources of the different partners so that they “add up to something that’s more than the sum of the parts.” Existing large companies can contribute both funding and expertise, smaller startup companies can provide their creative new ideas, and the academic institutions can push the research boundaries to open up new technological possibilities.</p> <p>“MIT recognizes that advancing manufacturing is vital to our innovation process, as we explored in our Production in the Innovation Economy (PIE) study,” says MIT Provost Martin Schmidt. “AFFOA will connect our campus even more closely with industries (large and small), with educational organizations that will develop the skilled workers, and with government at the state and federal level — all of whom are necessary to advance this new technology. AFFOA is an exciting example of the public-private partnerships that were envisioned in the recommendation of the Advanced Manufacturing Partnership.”</p> <p>“Since MIT’s start, there has always been an emphasis on ‘mens et manus,’ using our minds and hands to make inventions useful at scales that impact the nation and the world,” adds Van Vliet, the director of manufacturing innovation for MIT’s Innovation Initiative, who has served as the faculty lead in coordinating MIT’s response to manufacturing initiatives that result from the Advanced Manufacturing Partnership. “What makes this new partnership very exciting is, this is for the first time a manufacturing institute headquartered in our region that connects our students and our faculty with local and national industrial partners, to really scale up production of many new fiber and textile technologies.”</p> <p>“Participating in this group of visionaries from government, academia, and industry — who are all motivated by the goal of advancing a new model of American textile manufacturing and helping to develop new products for the public and defense sectors — has been an exciting process,” says Aleister Saunders, Drexel University’s senior vice provost for research and a leader of its functional fabrics center. “Seeing the success we’ve already had in recruiting partners at the local level leads me to believe that on a national level, these centers of innovation will be able to leverage intellectual capital and regional manufacturing expertise to drive forward new ideas and new applications that will revolutionize textile manufacturing across the nation.”</p> <p>“Revolutionary fabrics and fibers are modernizing everything from battlefield communication to medical care,” says U.S. Congressmen Joe Kennedy III (D-Mass.). “That the Commonwealth would be chosen to lead the way is no surprise. From Lowell to Fall River, our ability to merge cutting-edge technology with age-old ingenuity has sparked a new day for the textile industry. With its unparalleled commitment to innovation, MIT is the perfect epicenter for scaling these efforts. I applaud President Reif, Professor Fink, and all of the partners involved for this tremendous success.”</p> <p>The innovations that led to the “internet of things” and the widespread incorporation of digital technology into manufacturing have brought about a revolution whose potential is unlimited and will generate “brilliant ideas that people will be able to bring to this task of making sure that America stays number one in each and every one of these fields,” said Senator Ed Markey (D-Mass.) at the MIT event. “The new institute we are announcing today will help ensure that both Massachusetts and the United States can expand our technological edge in a new generation of fiber science.”</p> <p>A wide range of industries are expected to benefit from these revolutionary fibers and textiles, including apparel, consumer products, automotive, medical devices, and consumer electronics. “Fibers and fabrics are ubiquitous,” Fink says. “Our institute will go everywhere a fiber and fabric goes.”</p> Professor Yoel Fink, director of MIT’s Research Laboratory of ElectronicsPhoto: M. Scott BrauerSchool of Engineering, Materials Science and Engineering, Electrical Engineering & Computer Science (eecs), Technology and society, Computer science and technology, Department of Defense (DOD), Government, Industry, Manufacturing, Nanoscience and nanotechnology, NASA, National Science Foundation (NSF), President L. Rafael Reif, Provost, National relations and service, Research Laboratory of Electronics, internet of things, DMSE Susan Hockfield chosen to serve as AAAS president-elect Former MIT president to begin three-year term on AAAS Board of Directors in February. Wed, 16 Dec 2015 10:00:00 -0500 News Office <p><em>The following is adapted from a press release issued today by the American Association for the Advancement of Science.</em></p> <p>Susan Hockfield, president emerita of MIT, has been chosen to serve as <a href="">president-elect of the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS</a>). She will begin her three-year term as an officer and member of the Executive Committee of the AAAS Board of Directors on Feb. 16, 2016, at the conclusion of the 182nd AAAS Annual Meeting in Washington. She will retain the role of president-elect for one year, followed by a term as president in 2017 and a term as chair of the AAAS Board of Directors in 2018.</p> <p>Hockfield served as president of MIT from 2004 to 2012 and continues to hold a faculty appointment as professor of neuroscience and a member of the Koch Institute for Integrative Cancer Research. Hockfield, whose research focuses on the development of the brain and on glioma, a deadly form of brain cancer, pioneered the use of monoclonal antibody technology in brain research.</p> <p>As president of MIT, she oversaw the launch of numerous scientific initiatives, including the MIT Energy Initiative, the Koch Institute for Integrative Cancer Research, the Institute for Medical Engineering and Science, and the Ragon Institute of MGH, MIT, and Harvard.</p> <p>Hockfield earned her PhD from the Georgetown University School of Medicine. She was a National Institutes of Health postdoc at the University of California at San Francisco and a member of the scientific staff at the Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory in New York before joining the faculty at Yale University in 1985. At Yale, Hockfield was later named the William Edward Gilbert Professor of Neurobiology. She also served as dean of the Yale University Graduate School of Arts and Sciences and as provost of the university until joining MIT in 2004.</p> <p>“Importantly, in all of these roles I came to appreciate the responsibility of academics to communicate their discoveries to the non-scientific community and to bring their perspectives into policy decisions,” Hockfield said in a candidacy statement.&nbsp;</p> <p>She became a member of AAAS in 1975 and was named an <a href="">elected fellow</a> in 2005.</p> <p>At the close of the 2016 Annual Meeting, Barbara Schaal will begin her term as AAAS president. Schaal is the dean of the faculty of arts and sciences and the Mary-Dell Chilton Distinguished Professor in the Department of Biology in Arts and Sciences at Washington University in St. Louis. The current president, Geraldine Richmond, will become chair of the AAAS Board of Directors. Richmond is currently the presidential chair in science and professor of chemistry at the University of Oregon.</p> Susan HockfieldPhoto: David SellaSchool of Science, Brain and cognitive sciences, National relations and service, MIT presidency, Administration, Faculty, Koch Institute, Awards, honors and fellowships Consortium including MIT awarded $110M national grant to promote photonics manufacturing Partnership of government, industry, and academia will pursue integration of optical devices with electronics. Mon, 27 Jul 2015 15:00:00 -0400 David L. Chandler | MIT News Office <p>MIT is a key player in a new $600 million public-private partnership announced today by the Obama administration to help strengthen high-tech U.S.-based manufacturing.&nbsp;</p> <p>Physically headquartered in New York state and led by the State University of New York Polytechnic Institute (SUNY Poly), the American Institute for Manufacturing Integrated Photonics (AIM Photonics) will bring government, industry, and academia together to advance domestic capabilities in integrated photonic technology and better position the U.S. relative to global competition.</p> <p>Federal funding of $110 million will be combined with some $500 million from AIM Photonics’ consortium of state and local governments, manufacturing firms, universities, community colleges, and nonprofit organizations across the country.</p> <p>Technologies that can help to integrate photonics, or light-based communications and computation, with existing electronic systems are seen as a crucial growth area as the world moves toward ever-greater reliance on more powerful high-tech systems. What’s more, many analysts say this is an area that could help breathe new life into a U.S. manufacturing base that has been in decline in recent years.</p> <p>The public-private partnership announced today aims to spur these twin goals, improving integration of photonic systems while revitalizing U.S. manufacturing. The consortium includes universities, community colleges, and businesses in 20 states. Six state governments, including that of Massachusetts, are also supporting the project.</p> <p>MIT faculty will manage important parts of the program: Michael Watts, an associate professor of electrical engineering and computer science, will lead the technological innovation in silicon photonics. Lionel Kimerling, the Thomas Lord Professor in Materials Science and Engineering, will lead a program in education and workforce development.</p> <p>“This is great news on a number of fronts,” MIT Provost Martin Schmidt says. “Photonics holds the key to advances in computing, and its pursuit will engage and energize research and economic activity from Rochester, New York, to Cambridge, Massachusetts, and beyond. MIT faculty are excited to contribute to this effort.”</p> <p><strong>An ongoing partnership</strong></p> <p>MIT’s existing collaboration with SUNY Poly led to the first complete 300-millimeter silicon photonics platform, Watts says. That effort has led to numerous subsequent advances in silicon photonics technology, with MIT developing photonic designs that SUNY Poly has then built in its state-of-the-art fabrication facility.</p> <p>Photonic devices are seen as key to continuing the advances in computing speed and efficiency described by Moore’s Law — which may have reached their theoretical limits in existing silicon-based electronics, Kimerling says. The integration of photonics with electronics promises not only to boost the performance of systems in data centers and high-performance computing, but also to reduce their energy consumption — which already accounts for more than 2 percent of all electricity use in the U.S.</p> <p>Kimerling points out that a single new high-performance computer installation can contain more than 1 million photonic connections between hundreds of thousands of computer processor units (CPUs). “That’s more than the entire telecommunications industry,” he says — so creating new, inexpensive, and energy-efficient connection systems at scale is a major need.</p> <p>The integration of such systems has been progressing in stages, Kimerling says. Initially, the conversion from optical to electronic signals became pervasive at the network level to support long-distance telecommunication, but it is now moving to circuit boards, and will ultimately go to the level of individual integrated-circuit chips.</p> <p>“Europe is ahead in industry coordination right now,” following a decade of government investment, Kimerling says. This new U.S. initiative, he says, is “one of the first of this kind in the U.S., and the bet is that the innovation and research here, combined with the manufacturing capability, will allow our companies to really take off.”</p> <p><strong>Leadership in technological innovation</strong></p> <p>Within the new alliance, MIT will lead technological innovation in silicon photonics. That task will be managed by Watts.</p> <p>The evolving integration of photonics and electronics will have a great impact on many different technologies, Watts says. For example, LIDAR systems — similar to radar, but using light beams instead of radio waves — have great potential for collision-avoidance systems in cars, since they can provide greater detail than radar or sonar. Watts has worked to develop single-chip LIDAR devices, which could eliminate the moving parts in existing devices — such as tiny gimbaled mirrors used to direct the light beams in a scanning pattern — replacing them with fixed, electrically steerable phased-array systems, like those now used for cellphone tower antennas.</p> <p>“LIDAR systems that exist today are both bulky and expensive, because they use mechanically scanned lasers,” Watts says. But doing the same thing at the nanoscale, using phased-array systems on a chip, could drastically reduce size and cost, providing high-resolution, chip-scale, 3-D imaging capabilities that do not exist today, he says.</p> <p>There are many other areas where integration of photonics and electronics could lead to big advances, including in biological and chemical sensors that could have greater sensitivity than existing electronic versions, and in new kinds of medical imaging systems, such as optical coherent tomography.</p> <p>“The goal of this initiative is to lower the barriers to entry in this field for U.S. companies,” Watts says. It is intended to function much like a major public-private initiative that helped pave the way, decades ago, for the development of electronic chip manufacturing in the U.S.</p> <p>Significant photonic chip manufacturing capabilities have been developed at SUNY Poly, in Albany, New York. That facility has already made the world’s largest silicon-based photonic circuit, a chip designed at MIT, and built using industry-standard 300-millimeter-wide silicon wafers, Watts says.</p> <p><strong>Contributions in education and training</strong></p> <p>MIT will also host AIM Photonics’ program in education and workforce development, which Kimerling will direct. This will include developing educational materials — ranging from K-12 through continuing education — to prepare future employees for this emerging industry, including teaching on the design of integrated photonic devices. MIT will also lead workforce development, with an emphasis on including veterans, underrepresented minorities, and other students, by developing a variety of materials to teach about the new technologies.</p> <p>MIT will work to support internships, apprenticeships, and other forms of hands-on training in a national network of industry and university partners. The effort will also support an industry-wide roadmap to help align the technology supply chain with new manufacturing platforms.</p> <p>Kimerling says that a significant issue in developing a robust photonics industry is the need to develop a trained workforce of people who are familiar with both electronics and optical technology — two very different fields. Educational programs that encompass these disparate fields “are important, and don’t exist today in one organization,” he says.</p> <p>One expected impact of the new initiative is the development of a corridor along Interstate 90, from Boston to Rochester, New York, of industrial firms building on the base of new technology to develop related products and services, much as Silicon Valley emerged in California around companies such as Intel and their chip-making technology.</p> <p>Other major members of AIM Photonics include the University of Arizona, the University of Rochester, and the University of California at Santa Barbara. In addition to the Department of Defense, federal funding for the project will come from the National Science Foundation, the Department of Energy, the National Institute for Standards and Technology, and NASA.</p> <p><strong>Roots in the Advanced Manufacturing Partnership</strong></p> <p>Today’s news flows from the work of the Advanced Manufacturing Partnership (AMP), a White House-led effort begun in 2011 with the aim of bringing together industry, universities, and the federal government to identify and invest in key emerging technologies, with the idea of stoking a “renaissance in American manufacturing.”</p> <p>AMP was inaugurated with former MIT President Susan Hockfield as co-chair; MIT President L. Rafael Reif subsequently served in that same capacity as part of “AMP 2.0.” Those groups’ work led to President Barack Obama’s commitment to establish a National Network of Manufacturing Innovation, to consist of linked institutes such as the one announced today.</p> <p>“Massachusetts’ strong role in the AIM Photonics team stems from a collaboration involving MIT and many other partner organizations across the Commonwealth: universities, community colleges, and large and small manufacturers throughout the integrated photonics supply chain,” says Krystyn Van Vliet, a professor of materials science and engineering and biological engineering, and MIT faculty lead for AMP 2.0. “The support of Gov. Charlie Baker and Secretary of Housing and Economic Development Jay Ash was key to the success of the AIM Photonics team, and we appreciate their efforts. This manufacturing institute will help Massachusetts inspire and prepare the next generation of integrated photonics manufacturing careers, businesses, and leaders.”</p> <p>“Today’s announcement is a testament to the outstanding team of industrial and academic leaders assembled by AIM Photonics and its plan to establish the U.S. as a global leader in this emerging technology,” says Michael Liehr, AIM CEO and SUNY Poly executive vice president of innovation and&nbsp;technology and vice president of research. “This would not have been possible without the critical support of Gov. Andrew Cuomo, whose pioneering leadership in establishing New York state’s globally recognized, high-tech R&amp;D ecosystem has enabled historic economic growth and innovation and secured our partnership with the state of Massachusetts. SUNY Poly is excited to be working with partners such as MIT on this initiative, which will be truly transformational for both the industry and the nation.”</p> Associate Professor Michael R. Watts (left) and Professor Lionel C. Kimerling (right).Photo: Bryce VickmarkPhotonics, School of Engineering, Materials Science and Engineering, Electrical engineering and computer science (EECS), Technology and society, Computer science and technology, Department of Energy (DoE), Government, Industry, Manufacturing, Nanoscience and nanotechnology, NASA, National Science Foundation (NSF), President L. Rafael Reif, Provost, National relations and service, Research Laboratory of Electronics, Microphotonics Center Putting research in the spotlight Senior research officers from MIT and universities across the U.S. met with the press to discuss the future of the research enterprise. Fri, 17 Jul 2015 16:48:01 -0400 Kate Stoll | MIT Washington Office <p>In a world with constant streams of media covering everything from Hollywood to local news, research rarely gets a chance to tell its story. But on July 15, research leaders gathered at the National Press Club at the “All Things Research” media roundtable to tell stories of exciting opportunities on the horizon. They spoke of exploration beyond our solar system, advanced materials to enable clean and abundant fusion energy, the development of drought resistance plants to ensure a secure food supply, optical technologies to detect cancer, and more.</p> <p>Maria Zuber, MIT’s vice president for research, spoke of the importance of a broad portfolio of research — from basic to applied, surefire to high-risk-high-reward, across all fields of science — to achieve national prosperity and advance knowledge.</p> <p>The increasingly constrained federal budget has led some in Congress to propose limiting funding to only the science that is “in the national interest.” Some have targeted specific areas, like social science and geoscience, for defunding. To that notion Zuber responded, “Outstanding science in any field is in the national interest.”</p> <p>Cautioning against political interference, Zuber added, “The best decider of how [science] funds ought to be apportioned is the science community.” All the research leaders in attendance agreed that the solutions to some of the world’s most pressing problems, from terrorism, to drought, to healthcare rely, in part, on social science research.</p> <div class="cms-placeholder-content-video"></div> <p>David Wynes, vice president for research administration at Emory University, echoed Zuber’s comments, and urged policy makers to trust the peer review system. Scientific advances, he said, come from funding the best science.</p> <p>The conversation turned to the threat of an innovation deficit — the impact of the widening gap between the federal government’s investment in research and what is needed if we are to maintain U.S. leadership in science and innovation.</p> <p>Gloria Waters, vice president for research at Boston University, conveyed the frustration of researchers who are working on the cusp of great new discoveries — perhaps more so than ever in history — yet are constrained by the absence of funds needed to make those discoveries and innovations possible.</p> <p>MIT recently issued a report, “<a href="">The Future Postponed: Why Declining Investment in Basic Research Threatens a U.S. Innovation Deficit</a>,” to highlight 15 exciting opportunities in research with great potential for innovation. Zuber said the report was motivated by the funding constraints posed by sequestration and budget caps.</p> <p>Because we can’t know the answer to a certain problem in advance, we have to cast a wide net and invest broadly in science and engineering, says Zuber. We must support creative, interdisciplinary research — such as the convergence of the life and physical sciences — and invest in all fields of science to address society’s most pressing challenges and drive the next big discoveries.</p> <p>The All Things Research media roundtable was sponsored by the American Association of Universities and The Science Coalition. A video of the event is posted at <a href=""></a></p> MIT Vice President for Research Maria ZuberRachel CouchGovernment, National relations and service, Research, Policy, Technology and society, Innovation and Entrepreneurship (I&E), Funding, STEM, Special events and guest speakers New MIT report details benefits of investment in basic research Authors highlight 15 research opportunities that could help boost the U.S. economy, benefit society. Mon, 27 Apr 2015 00:00:01 -0400 Abby Abazorius | MIT News Office <p>Last year was a notable one for scientific achievements: In 2014, European researchers discovered a fundamental new particle that sheds light on the origins of the universe, and the European Space Agency successfully landed the first spacecraft on a comet. Chinese researchers, meanwhile, developed the world’s fastest supercomputer, and uncovered new ways to meet global food demand.</p> <p>But as these competitors increase their investment in basic research, the percentage of the U.S. federal budget devoted to research and development has fallen from around 10 percent in 1968 to less than 4 percent in 2015.</p> <p>Today MIT released <a href="" target="_blank">a report</a> in which faculty and other researchers detail specific impacts, within their fields, of this declining federal investment in basic research. The report — “The Future Postponed: Why Declining Investment in Basic Research Threatens a U.S. Innovation Deficit” — was prepared by a committee of MIT researchers and research administrators. Examining how funding cutbacks will affect the future of scientific studies in the U.S., the report highlights opportunities in basic research that could help shape and maintain U.S. economic power, and benefit society.</p> <p>The report was publicly unveiled during an event in Washington sponsored by the American Association for the Advancement of Science, the Association of American Universities, the Association of Public and Land-grant Universities, the Information Technology and Innovation Foundation, the Science Coalition, and MIT.</p> <p>Marc Kastner, the Donner Professor of Physics at MIT and president of the Science Philanthropy Alliance, says that the report looks at challenges facing the U.S. and the world in a variety of fields — from cybersecurity and robotics to plant biology and infectious diseases — and details the potential benefits, in each, of increased U.S. federal government support for basic research.</p> <p>“Although the benefit of any particular scientific endeavor is unpredictable, there is no doubt that investing in basic research has always paid off over time,” Kastner says. “Economists tell us that past investments in research and development account for a large fraction of our current GDP, and even if the future payoffs are not as large, there is no doubt that we will suffer if we do not keep up with those nations that are now making bigger investments than we are.”</p> <p>In “The Future Postponed,” MIT researchers discuss 15 discrete areas in which government support is needed, highlighting potential opportunities within these fields. For example, the report cites the need to expand research in neurobiology, brain chemistry, and the science of aging to develop new treatments for Alzheimer’s disease.</p> <p>“The comparison between Alzheimer’s disease and cancer is sobering,” explains Andrew Lo, the Charles E. and Susan T. Harris Professor at the MIT Sloan School of Management.&nbsp;“Between January 2012 and March 2015, the [Food and Drug Administration] approved 27 new cancer drugs, two of which target breast cancer, an affliction that affects 2.9 million women in the U.S.&nbsp;In contrast, no new Alzheimer's drugs have been approved in more than a decade, despite the fact that more than 5 million Americans suffer from this disease.”</p> <p>Chris Kaiser, the Amgen Professor in MIT’s Department of Biology, highlights the importance of expanding university-based research into new types of antibiotics to tackle the growing health threat posed by antibiotic-resistant bacteria — an area where commercial incentives to invest are lacking. He also notes that funding is needed to investigate the molecular mechanisms and structure of specific viruses in order to develop effective vaccines and drugs to prepare for future viral epidemics.</p> <p>Ron Weiss, an associate professor of biological engineering and electrical engineering and computer science at MIT, and research associate Jonathan Babb argue that synthetic biology research could lead to customized treatments for genetic diseases, engineered viruses that can identify and kill cancer cells, or climate-friendly fuels — but a lack of investment in laboratory facilities is leading to a migration of top talent and research leadership overseas.</p> <p>The report’s authors also cite expectations that global population will grow from 7 billion to 9 billion by 2040, while a lack of arable land will necessitate a 50 percent increase in the efficiency of food production. While innovations in plant science will be necessary to meet global food requirements and address malnutrition, Mary Gehring, an assistant professor of biology at MIT, writes that U.S. investment in basic plant-related research and development is far below that of many other scientific disciplines, despite the fact that agriculture is responsible for more than 2 million U.S. jobs, and is a major source of export earnings.</p> <p>Another case study examines cyberattacks, which Howard Shrobe, a principal research scientist at MIT’s Computer Science and Artificial Intelligence Lab (CSAIL), explains are not only a nuisance, but also pose a threat to national security. Shrobe notes that investment is needed to support the redesign of computer systems to eliminate major security weakness in areas such as computer architecture and access authorization.</p> <p>Additionally, the report’s authors emphasize that the U.S. has an opportunity to take a global leadership role in areas including fusion energy research, robotics, and quantum information technologies.</p> <p>Kastner explains the importance of supporting basic research by noting that such research endeavors often bring about unexpected, life-changing results — as in the case of the basic research in science and math that led to the development of magnetic resonance imaging, or MRI: “With complete unpredictability, basic science research sometimes gives us a gift of new technology that changes our world,” he says.</p> Illustration: Christine Daniloff/MITGovernment, National relations and service, Policy, Technology and society, Innovation and Entrepreneurship (I&E), Research, Funding, STEM Interdisciplinary medicine Senior Yiping Xing’s view of health care draws upon research, public health, and policy. Mon, 09 Feb 2015 00:00:01 -0500 Julia Sklar | MIT News correspondent <p>Since day one at MIT, senior Yiping Xing has been interested in exploring medicine from different perspectives. Already, the biology major has co-authored two scientific papers, including a <a href=""><em>Nature Nanotechnology</em> paper on siRNA delivery research</a>; co-led a project in Ghana to convert organic waste into animal feed; and participated in national health policy through an internship in the U.S. Surgeon General’s office.</p> <p>Xing was born near Beijing, in one of China’s most polluted industrial cities, but moved to Cleveland at age 6 when her father, a physician-scientist, accepted a job at the Cleveland Clinic. The move offered her an early opportunity to question how environmental differences impact global health disparities.</p> <p>“It snows a lot in Cleveland, and my first big impression of the U.S. was how clean and white the snow was,” Xing says.</p> <p>Since then, she has become a strong believer in the notion that “health extends beyond hospital walls, and is very much related to your environment.”</p> <p><strong>Familial inspiration</strong></p> <p>Working with graduate student James Dahlman in the lab of David H. Koch Institute Professor Robert Langer at the Koch Institute for Integrative Cancer Research, Xing is part of a team studying a drug-delivery system that combats diseases, including lung cancer, from a genetic angle.</p> <p>The system can use small interfering RNA (siRNA) to turn off genes known to play a role in the development of cancer. The liver is a natural destination for many nanoparticles, but a major challenge has been engineering delivery systems targeted to other cells or organs. Last May, Xing co-authored the <em>Nature Nanotechnology</em> paper describing a successful delivery system targeted to pulmonary endothelial cells, which are implicated in lung cancer —&nbsp;marking the most potent siRNA delivery and RNAi gene silencing to date outside the liver.</p> <p>“Seeing China’s environmental degradation, and its public health consequences, have been major influences in my perception of what’s important in my research, and lung cancer is a disease that has affected my family very personally,” Xing says. “I’m a very impact-based person, and if I can see the larger picture of my research, that’s what motivates me.”</p> <p><strong>Improving public health in Africa</strong></p> <p>After the initial move to Cleveland, Xing’s family relocated to Oklahoma, then New York, and then Columbus, Ohio. Although moving was always difficult, she says the experience ultimately made her more adaptable, flexible, and open-minded — traits she deployed as part of a service project in Ghana.</p> <p>Xing’s project, Hope in Flight, is based in MIT’s International Development House (iHouse) and aims to tackle the public health challenge of organic waste accumulation while also creating opportunities for local entrepreneurship. She and her teammates initially designed a waste bioconversion system made entirely of wood — which they chose so that farmers could build it with cheap, natural, and local products — but it didn’t catch on with Ghanaians, and she had to roll with the punches.</p> <p>“When we went there, people in the community said, ‘Are you nuts? You can’t build a system out of wood here, the termites will eat it within a year!’” she says. “We were so shocked, and had to redesign our whole system while we were there.”</p> <p>Winning funding from the MIT Public Service Center’s IDEAS Global Challenge in 2013 — and this time relying on feedback from locals — the team redesigned their converter using plastics and metals that could be bought cheaply from local markets. They also raised the system off the ground so it would be out of reach from free-roaming goats — one of the Ghanaians’ biggest concerns.</p> <p>The process itself relies entirely on natural resources: black soldier flies and the sweltering Ghanaian sun. Fly larvae are added in specific ratios to a converter containing agricultural, kitchen, human, and animal waste. As the larvae mature, they feed off the waste, converting it into their own high-protein body mass. At the pre-pupae stage, they can then be dried under the sun and sold as animal feed.</p> <p>This feed is nutritionally comparable to fishmeal, the current global standard, which is becoming less accessible to rural farmers, as it rapidly rises in cost. And since black soldier flies lack mouths, they can’t spread disease, a major concern with many other insects. In fact, their presence actually deters most disease-carrying insects from buzzing around the waste converters.</p> <p>“I believe a lot of solutions can be found in nature,” Xing says.</p> <p><strong>The power of policy</strong></p> <p>Although there are still some kinks to work out, Xing and her teammates have been working with universities and commercial farmers in the area to implement the project with a greater degree of local autonomy.</p> <p>“I want these communities to really take ownership of this technology,” she says. “If we could leave for five years and then come back to see that the local community is still using it, I would call that a success.”</p> <p>After participating in both research and international development, however, Xing realized that many of the issues she wants to tackle could best be approached through government policy. Through the MIT Washington, DC Summer Internship Program, she landed a spot last summer working in the office of Boris Lushniak, then the nation’s acting Surgeon General.</p> <p>Xing attended most of Lushniak’s local speaking engagements and meetings, and experienced research based more on reading and writing than on lab work. Throughout the summer, she was also exposed to the positive ways that effective policy can address social determinants of health. Now, as she positions herself to start medical school in the fall, she envisions her path leading her initially to clinical work and research, but then ultimately back to government policy.</p> <p>“I think there is an underrepresentation of scientists and physicians in government,” she says. “But the only way to change that is by being one of the scientists who’s willing to put themselves out there, and to work towards bridging the gap that often exists between science and policy.”</p> Yiping XingPhoto: Allegra BovermanResearch, School of Science, Biology, Cancer, Developing countries, China, Ghana, Development, Environment, Government, International development, National relations and service, Policy, Politics, Volunteering, outreach, public service, Students, Undergraduate, Profile, Nanoscience and nanotechnology Report details steps needed to accelerate innovation at MIT New Innovation Initiative aims to reshape the role of the university in the 21st-century economy. Wed, 03 Dec 2014 14:05:00 -0500 David L. Chandler | MIT News Office <p>Innovation in the service of society has been at the core of MIT’s mission since the Institute’s founding more than 150 years ago.</p> <p>Now a preliminary report, leading up to the launch of an MIT Innovation Initiative, is proposing a series of steps aimed at fortifying MIT’s culture of innovation — suggesting a suite of resources, programs, and facilities to aid in bringing significant innovations out of the labs and into the daily lives of people around the world, and to do so faster and more effectively.</p> <p>Compilation of the report was led by the co-directors of the Innovation Initiative: Vladimir Bulovic, the Fariborz Maseeh Professor of Emerging Technology, and Fiona Murray, the William Porter Professor of Entrepreneurship. The two professors are associate deans for innovation in the School of Engineering and the MIT Sloan School of Management, respectively.</p> <p>The effort was initiated in October 2013 by MIT President L. Rafael Reif. In his charge to the advisory committee, established to define the scope and goals of the new Innovation Initiative, Reif wrote, “With an interdisciplinary attitude and an appetite for hands-on problem solving, we define compelling new questions, attack them in novel ways — and bring our students with us every step.”</p> <p>The report reflects contributions from a 19-member faculty advisory committee, led by Bulovic and Murray, and including representatives from all five of MIT’s schools. The report, based on substantive research and input from stakeholders both inside and outside MIT, outlines a set of priorities to help the Institute in supporting innovation, and a set of proposals to be prioritized and implemented over time.</p> <p>“At MIT, our mission directs us to advance knowledge and educate students in service to the nation and the world; this profound work will always be our central focus and inspiration,” Reif wrote in a letter to the MIT community introducing the preliminary report, and welcoming feedback. “But our mission also compels us to bring knowledge to bear on the world’s great challenges — a good working definition of innovation as we practice it at MIT. With this new initiative, we have an opportunity to deliver better solutions to the world — and in the process, to deliver to the world a better MIT.”</p> <p><strong>A legacy of innovation</strong></p> <p>The preliminary report, titled “The MIT Innovation Initiative: Sustaining and Extending a Legacy of Innovation,” observes: “MIT will always be defined by its central focus on education and research. Yet more and more, innovation belongs to our mission as well.”</p> <p>MIT’s forthcoming Innovation Initiative, the report adds, is focused on “providing a forum and a framework for enhancing the Institute’s innovation engine in ways that accelerate our community’s ability to transform brilliant ideas and fundamental research into positive and substantive social and economic impact.”</p> <p>The report outlines a series of steps to foster these goals; some could be implemented immediately, while others will require further study and discussion to refine their details. The recommendations encompass four broad priorities:</p> <ul> <li>strengthening and expanding MIT’s innovation capabilities;</li> <li>cultivating communities that connect across campus and engage MIT with broader worldwide innovation needs;</li> <li>developing additional, transformative hands-on infrastructure; and</li> <li>formalizing, studying, and promoting the science of innovation through a new Laboratory for Innovation Science and Policy.&nbsp;</li> </ul> <p>The report emphasizes that these steps represent a continuation of MIT’s longtime approach to education and research: Already, the study says, the Institute offers more than 50 courses specifically related to innovation and entrepreneurship, across all five of its schools, enrolling more than 3,000 students. Other programs and competitions, including undergraduate research opportunities and MIT’s annual $100K Entrepreneurship Competition, have involved thousands more students in activities related to innovation.</p> <p><strong>Growing demand</strong></p> <p>While such programs are an established part of MIT’s culture, the report notes that they are so popular that the Institute cannot meet current demand for them — either in terms of physical facilities, or in financing for such things as prototyping facilities and support for entrepreneurial projects. In addition, the report says, there is a clear desire for more ways to facilitate collaborations across schools and departments, and for more ways for MIT’s innovators to interact with communities around the world.</p> <p>“We need to get better at recognizing and responding to the sorts of global challenges that exist,” Murray says. “We need to ensure that MIT’s solutions actually reach the people who need them by designing the right kinds of organizations and policies to ensure they reach impact.”</p> <p>Specific proposals in the preliminary report include education with greater emphasis on learning that goes beyond traditional academic knowledge and research — specifically, encouraging solutions to real-world problems, scaling them up, and delivering them where they are needed. Toward that end, the report suggests creation of an undergraduate minor, a graduate certificate in innovation, and programming for postdocs.</p> <p>“Our students are driven to make a positive difference in the world,” Bulovic says. “While at MIT, we need to enable them to hone their skills in translating ideas to innovations, so they can go on to provide solutions that scale rapidly and achieve broad positive impact.”</p> <p><strong>Opportunities on- and off-campus</strong></p> <p>The establishment of vibrant, small-scale global innovation communities to expand MIT’s innovation footprint is described in the report as another priority. These might bring together alumni, students, faculty, outside entrepreneurs, policymakers, and funding sources, all of whom could work together on problem-solving and implementation of solutions. The report states that by engaging with stakeholders around the world there is an opportunity to build on the long tradition of “science diplomacy” that forged mutually beneficial relationships among scientists around the world to inspire an era of “innovation diplomacy” On campus, specific suggestions include better coordination of MIT’s many hackathons, festivals, and competitions related to innovation, as well as a student leadership council to help coordinate the activities of the more than 40 existing student groups and clubs focused on innovation and entrepreneurship.</p> <p>The report proposes a significant expansion of infrastructure, such as spaces for scaling up innovations, and the development of new sources of funding — such as new faculty innovations fellowships, visiting partnerships, and innovation advocates who could work with on-campus teams to help develop innovative ideas. Dedicated innovation spaces, situated in various locations around campus, could provide facilities and equipment specifically geared toward the development of both inventions and the teams to carry them forward. Expansion of the present research seed-grant programs, and establishment of new ones, would support dedicated research time for translating ideas into prototypes, accelerating their path to scale-up and impact.</p> <p>Another key goal of the report: fostering and developing a “science of innovation.” The report notes, “We believe that the drivers and outcomes of innovation warrant rigorous, multidisciplinary analysis that increases our understanding of how to generate innovation more constructively, efficiently and effectively.” The report also proposes creation of a Laboratory for Innovation Science and Policy to “develop new knowledge of the innovation process; promote new data, methods and metrics related to innovation science; and translate evidence-based insights into practical recommendations for industrial and policy partners.”</p> <p>Bulovic and Murray welcome thoughts from all members of the MIT community on the framework and scope of the activities outlined in the report. They will host several community briefings; the first of these will occur Monday, Dec. 8, from 3 to 4 p.m. in Room E14-633. Feedback may also be sent to</p> Photo: Dominick ReuterIndustry, Manufacturing, National relations and service, Policy, Research, Technology and society, Community, Innovation and Entrepreneurship (I&E) Hacking health care PhD student Andrea Ippolito improves health care through engineering, entrepreneurship, and systems design. Wed, 19 Nov 2014 00:00:00 -0500 Zach Wener-Fligner | MIT News Office <p>For as long as she can remember, Andrea Ippolito has known that she wanted to be an engineer.</p> <p>What she couldn’t have predicted was what, precisely, the scope and scale of her work would turn out to be.</p> <p>Ippolito began her career at Boston Scientific after getting bachelor’s and master’s degrees in biomedical engineering from Cornell University. Back then, she worked on drug-coated medical devices and studied how they interfaced with the surrounding cells of a patient.</p> <p>She liked working on those systems, but also began fostering an interest in health care engineering on a more macroscopic scale: Rather than one device, one human, or one interface, Ippolito wanted to look at the entire health care ecosystem.</p> <p>“I was drawn into the strategy of the technology as well as the technology,” she says.</p> <p>It was that newfound fascination that brought her to the MIT System Design and Management (SDM) program in 2011, and then to the Engineering Systems Division (ESD) PhD program in 2013. Today, Ippolito is a second-year graduate student in ESD, expecting to earn her PhD in 2017.</p> <p>Ippolito’s initial research focused on the use of “telehealth” — treatment via video chat — and in particular on the treatment of post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) within military health systems. The problem is that when members of the military return from deployment, they often do so in large numbers. As a result, the health care providers that administer PTSD screenings are overwhelmed with work.</p> <p>Telehealth treatment could make it easier to spread out workloads for overall better care and more predictable scheduling. It could also enable the standardization of certain health care best practices, a boon for a complex health care network like that of the U.S. military.</p> <p><strong>Presidential honor</strong></p> <p>Earlier this fall, Ippolito was named by the White House and General Services Administration as a <a href="">Presidential Innovation Fellow</a>, allowing her to work directly with the Department of Veterans Affairs to improve some of its processes.</p> <p>“The Presidential Innovation Fellowship program is a wonderful opportunity to reimagine new ways of approaching complex, system-level challenges facing our country through the stage of the federal government,” Ippolito told the website Medtech Boston last month. “I am thrilled to be working with the Department of Veterans Affairs to help serve our nation’s veterans, who have sacrificed so much for our country.”</p> <p>“As a member of the team at the VA Center for Innovation,” she added, “I am excited to work on the design, planning, and initial execution for a VA Innovator’s Network intended to resolve the challenges restricting in-depth collaboration across the [VA].”</p> <p>As her research progresses, Ippolito continues to focus on how technology can enable a better, cheaper, and more navigable health care system. Last fall, she worked on a project evaluating the Massachusetts Health Information Exchange, the network by which patient records are shared among health care providers and other members of the health care ecosystem.</p> <p>“I got a great bird’s-eye view of all the different entities and got to really understand the complexity of our health care system,” she says.</p> <p>“There’s such an imperative right now to contain costs and improve access,” she adds. “I’m interested in how to accelerate that trajectory.”</p> <p><strong>Deep roots in engineering</strong></p> <p>Ippolito has admired the practices of scientists and engineers since she was a young girl. It’s in her blood: Her father was a mechanical engineer, and her mother was an electrical engineer who designed space suits.</p> <p>During recess while in grade school, Ippolito would play on the playground like the other kids — but her favorite spot was a big rock in the schoolyard, which she would pretend was her own personal laboratory. In sixth grade, she dressed up as astronaut Sally Ride for Halloween — no doubt inspired, in part, by her mother’s work — and did most years after that.</p> <p>“I was really lucky I had such a positive role model in my mom,” Ippolito says.</p> <p>Ippolito always wanted to go to space camp, too, but her mother said it was too expensive — “which it sort of is, for a little kid for five days,” she concedes. So after she graduated from MIT SDM, she and her mother celebrated by finally going to space camp.</p> <p>Ippolito might not have ended up in the field of health care were it not for several biology teachers and mentors she encountered during high school in Burlington, Mass. In particular, she recalls attending a national leadership forum on medicine one summer in Philadelphia. At the forum, she met a biomedical engineer from Shriners Hospital for Children who ran a “gait lab” — attaching sensors to kids with motor disabilities to study and try to improve their gaits. Ippolito was fascinated, and asked the engineer about his work.</p> <p>That was the first time she heard the term “biomedical engineering”; several years later, she had a degree in the discipline from Cornell.</p> <p><strong>Pursuing innovation on all fronts</strong></p> <p>Ippolito is working on improving health care systems through entrepreneurship as well as her research.</p> <p>She’s a co-lead of the MIT student organization Hacking Medicine, whose goal is to apply agile, disruptive thinking to big problems in the health care sphere. So far, Hacking Medicine has held nearly 20 hackathons in the United States, Spain, Uganda, and India.</p> <p>Often, these health care hack days spark new startups. One of Ippolito’s favorites is PillPack, an online pharmacy that provides medications pre-sorted into packs grouped by when the medication should be taken. PillPack has raised nearly $13 million in funding.</p> <p>Ippolito’s own startup, Smart Scheduling, also resulted from a Hacking Medicine event. Smart Scheduling was born from the realization that patient no-shows are a giant inefficiency, and a burden on doctors. Doctors fight no-shows by overbooking patients, which is not ideal because if patients do show up, there’s not enough room to fit them in the schedule. Smart Scheduling uses machine learning to identify potential no-shows to take better care of patients by providing better appointment access and schedule flexibility.</p> <p>Overall, Ippolito is applying every tool in her toolkit — entrepreneurship, system design, and engineering expertise — to her obsession with improving the health care ecosystem.</p> <p>“I just think that being an engineer in health care, there’s no better place to be to make an impact,” she says.</p> Andrea IppolitoPhoto: Allegra BovermanSchool of Engineering, Sloan School of Management, Government, Health, Health care, Medicine, National relations and service, Policy, Engineering Systems, Alumni/ae, Entrepreneurship, Graduate, postdoctoral, President Obama, Profile, Students Dresselhaus and Solow win Presidential Medal of Freedom Two Institute Professors are among 19 new recipients of the nation’s highest civilian honor. Mon, 10 Nov 2014 22:48:46 -0500 Steve Bradt | MIT News Office <p>Institute Professors Mildred Dresselhaus and Robert Solow are among 19 new winners of the Presidential Medal of Freedom, the nation’s highest civilian honor.</p> <p>The honors were announced today by President Barack Obama. Dresselhaus and Solow, both of whom are Institute Professors Emeritus, will receive the awards at a White House ceremony on Nov. 24.</p> <p>“I look forward to presenting these 19 bold, inspiring Americans with our nation’s highest civilian honor,” Obama said in a White House announcement.</p> <p>The Presidential Medal of Freedom is presented to individuals who have made especially meritorious contributions to the security or national interests of the United States; to world peace; or to cultural or other significant public or private endeavors.</p> <p>“From activists who fought for change to artists who explored the furthest reaches of our imagination; from scientists who kept America on the cutting edge to public servants who help write new chapters in our American story, these citizens have made extraordinary contributions to our country and the world,” Obama said.</p> <p>"Millie Dresselhaus and Bob Solow have been recognized with extraordinary professional honors in their respective fields, including the rank of Institute Professor Emeritus, the highest distinction granted by the MIT faculty," MIT President L. Rafael Reif said. "But the Presidential Medal of Freedom is different: In receiving it, Millie and Bob demonstrate that their approach to scholarship — bold, rigorous, highly creative, and actively applied to the problems of the world — represents citizenship in the highest sense. We could not be more grateful for all they have given us, and the world, as scholars, teachers, colleagues, and friends."</p> <p>The White House called Dresselhaus “one of the most prominent physicists, materials scientists, and electrical engineers of her generation. … She is best known for deepening our understanding of condensed matter systems and the atomic properties of carbon, which has contributed to major advances in electronics and materials research.”</p> <p>“Robert Solow is one of the most widely respected economists of the past 60 years,” the White House said of the MIT economist, who received the Nobel Prize in economics in 1987. “His research in the 1950s, 1960s, and 1970s transformed the field, laying the groundwork for much of modern economics.&nbsp;He continues to influence policymakers, demonstrating how smart investments, especially in new technology, can build broad-based prosperity, and he continues to actively participate in contemporary debates about inequality and economic growth.”&nbsp;</p> <p>Atmospheric chemist&nbsp;Mario Molina, an Institute Professor Emeritus&nbsp;who was on the faculty of the Department of Earth, Atmospheric and Planetary Sciences from 1989 to 2006 before moving to the University of California at San Diego, won the Presidential Medal of Freedom last year. The late Harold "Doc" Edgerton, then a professor of electrical engineering, won the honor in 1946 for his contributions to the American victory in World War II — specifically, for advances in night aerial photography that were crucial to the success of the Normandy invasion.</p> <p>In addition to Dresselhaus and Solow, the other new Presidential Medal of Freedom recipients announced today are:</p> <ul> <li><strong>Alvin Ailey,</strong> choreographer and dancer</li> <li><strong>Isabel Allende, </strong>novelist</li> <li><strong>Tom Brokaw,</strong> journalist, newscaster, and author</li> <li><strong>James Chaney, Andrew Goodman, and Michael Schwerner,&nbsp;</strong>civil rights activists in the “Freedom Summer” of 1964</li> <li><strong>John Dingell,</strong> congressman from Michigan</li> <li><strong>Ethel Kennedy,</strong> activist for social justice and human rights</li> <li><strong>Suzan Harjo,</strong> writer, curator, and Native American activist</li> <li><strong>Abner Mikva,</strong> public servant in all three branches of federal government</li> <li><strong>Patsy Takemoto Mink,</strong> congresswoman from Hawaii</li> <li><strong>Edward Roybal,</strong>&nbsp;congressman from California&nbsp;</li> <li><strong>Charles Sifford,</strong> professional golfer</li> <li><strong>Stephen Sondheim,</strong> theater composer and lyricist</li> <li><strong>Meryl Streep,</strong> actress</li> <li><strong>Marlo Thomas,</strong> actress, producer, author, and social activist&nbsp;</li> <li><strong>Stevie Wonder,</strong> singer-songwriter</li> </ul> Mildred Dresselhaus and Robert SolowDonna CoveneySchool of Science, School of Engineering, SHASS, Physics, Electrical Engineering & Computer Science (eecs), Economics, Faculty, National relations and service, Awards, honors and fellowships, Government, President Obama Will the new industrial city work? At MIT symposium, promise of advanced manufacturing suggests new ways to reshape urban space. Wed, 29 Oct 2014 09:30:00 -0400 Peter Dizikes | MIT News Office <p>The renewal of manufacturing is not an abstract economic issue: It is very much an urban issue. American manufacturing, for instance, rose in cities, and those cities grew around industries from automakers to steelmakers to textiles. Today, with innovation-based manufacturers helping to spur a revival in the sector, the geography of manufacturing is again at stake: Can new manufacturing fit in with the ongoing evolution of cities, and if so, how?</p> <p>That question was at the heart of an MIT symposium, held Monday, that highlighted distinctly promising news about manufacturing, and distinct challenges for urban planners. The promise is that many varieties of high-tech manufacturing have emerged in recent years, in areas including nanotechnology, medical devices, advanced materials, and digital production. Those industries often take smaller-scale forms that could be adapted to existing urban spaces, helping to revitalize cities.</p> <p>“There’s this huge opportunity for those of us working on advanced manufacturing technologies to think about technologies which can allow production at small scale, local to where innovation is occurring, and then allow a path to scale up,” Martin Schmidt, MIT’s provost, said.</p> <p>In recent decades, Schmidt noted, many older manufacturers have downsized their research divisions and outsourced production capacity in an effort to please investors — leaving a large opening for newer firms to emerge. Schmidt’s own research group works on micro- and nanoscale fabrication of devices, sensors, and systems; as an example, he noted that it is possible that enterprises could take advantage of such advances to manufacture semiconductors at smaller scales.</p> <p>“If we’re successful in doing that, what we’re going to enable is a whole set of semiconductor factories in Kendall Square that are in a 100, or 200-square-foot room on a 10-foot table, that have a lot less environmental impact. … We’re going to unlock a huge array of innovation, and we’re really going to speed up innovation in this space,” said Schmidt, who was a faculty participant on MIT’s multiyear study of the sector, Production in the Innovation Economy (PIE).</p> <p>Schmidt also served as faculty lead for MIT on the White House’s Advanced Manufacturing Partnership (AMP) 2.0, a project intended to renew industrial innovation in the U.S. The AMP 2.0 steering committee, which was co-chaired by MIT President L. Rafael Reif, <a href="">delivered its final report</a> on Monday to U.S. President Barack Obama.</p> <p>If cities have an opportunity to import new, smaller, cleaner manufacturers, however, politicians and planners in many cities will still have difficult decisions to make about precisely where to place them, and on what terms. Many cities could experience a new round in “the conflict between commerce and housing,” in the words of Neil McCullagh, executive director of the American City Coalition, a nonprofit group backing neighborhood-scale growth initiatives, and one of several symposium participants voicing that concern.&nbsp;</p> <p>The renewed growth of manufacturing also comes during “almost a decade of pure angst” in society due to an economy that plummeted in 2008 and is still “relatively sluggish,” MIT economic geographer Amy Glasmeier said. As she noted, adult labor-force participation in the U.S. is currently 63 percent, down from a high of 84 percent for males, and it will take considerable economic growth to restore jobs.</p> <p>“We’re going to hope we have organizations that grow and create jobs,” Glasmeier said.</p> <p><strong>Growing around intellectual capital?</strong></p> <p>The symposium, “<a href="!symposium/c22uo">Industrial Urbanism</a>,” was hosted by MIT’s Department of Urban Studies and Planning (DUSP), and held at the MIT Media Lab. Its co-organizers were DUSP chair Eran Ben-Joseph, and Tali Hatuka, head of the Laboratory for Contemporary Urban Design at Tel Aviv University. Among the event's essential questions, as Ben-Joseph noted in his remarks: “Is there a way to design in an industrial city while also nurturing livability and quality of life for residents?”</p> <p>In the case of new manufacturing, some participants noted, there is a logical aspect to city planning: Place matters, and for startups and other firms growing out of research labs and academia, that means proximity to universities is important. For many firms, there is a “need to be tightly connected” to intellectual resources, noted Fiona Murray, an associate dean and professor at the MIT Sloan School of Management.</p> <p>But the idea of planning urban growth around intellectual capital is never entirely straightforward, and involves nuts-and-bolts questions about industrial building stock, for instance. As several conference speakers noted, new industrial structures tend to have high ceilings to allow triple-stacks of standardized industrial pallets to be moved in and out by forklifts. Beautiful older industrial buildings may not be perfectly suited to adaptation for new manufacturing, leading to a variety of planning and design quandaries.</p> <p>Some participants also suggested that the ideal planning perspective for new manufacturing is regional, and not just urban.</p> <p>“We have to be talking about advanced manufacturing not just from the central city perspective,” said Elizabeth Reynolds, executive director of MIT’s industrial performance center. Reynolds examined eight advanced-manufacturing industries in Massachusetts; while several of these are concentrated in the eastern part of the state, productive machine shops are actually scattered throughout the state, meaning that growth businesses can be located “in older industrial landscapes.”</p> <p>The symposium also included talks on the potential for more far-reaching changes in urban form. Sanjay Sarma, MIT’s director of digital learning, who as a mechanical engineering professor has extensively worked on RFID technologies and supply-chain logistics, suggested that automated delivery technologies — from drones to vehicles — will grow more prevalent in the future. That could change logistics and urban infrastructure, Sarma noted, adding that a key question is: “How much can we ensure that [transformation] is in service of the needs of the city, rather than being thrust on the city?”&nbsp;</p> <p>The question of urban growth around advanced manufacturing is hardly peculiar to the U.S.: In countries with less established manufacturing, there may be more opportunities to integrate industry in metropolitan areas, since “latecomers can start from scratch,” said Calestous Juma, an expert in African innovation who is the Martin Luther King Jr. Visiting Professor of Urban Studies and Planning at MIT, and professor of the practice of international development at the Harvard Kennedy School. He added: “African countries have this unique opportunity to rethink the character of their cities.”</p> Industry, Manufacturing, National relations and service, Policy, Government, School of Architecture + Planning, Urban studies and planning, President L. Rafael Reif, Special events and guest speakers Reif briefs Obama in White House forum on the innovation economy Advanced Manufacturing Partnership 2.0 delivers report on developing innovation-based growth. Tue, 28 Oct 2014 15:00:00 -0400 Peter Dizikes | MIT News Office <p>Delivering recommendations from a presidential committee he co-chaired, MIT President L. Rafael Reif addressed a forum on the future of manufacturing in the U.S. hosted by President Barack Obama at the White House on Monday.</p> <p>The President’s Council of Advisors on Science and Technology issued a report from the committee, known as the Advanced Manufacturing Partnership (AMP) 2.0, outlining a series of recommendations for renewing advanced industrial production in the U.S. The proposals deal with new ways of enabling innovation, training workers, and aiding the U.S. business climate, in an effort to address the loss of manufacturing production and jobs that has occurred over most of the last three decades.</p> <p>“To reverse that trend, and to compete in an intensely globalized world, we need to take a big leap forward, fueled by innovation — and we need an innovation system that can deliver new manufacturing technologies and processes to get us there,” Reif said in his remarks to Obama.</p> <p>Three Cabinet-level officials — Secretary of Commerce Penny Pritzker, presidential science advisor John Holdren, and National Economic Council director Jeff Zients — also participated in the event.</p> <p>The White House also announced on Monday that it will take new measures to implement concepts outlined in the report, which describes three “pillars” for assisting in industrial growth. The first calls for prioritizing the development of advanced manufacturing technologies; creating a standing university-industry consortium to guide federal actions; developing better standards and information-sharing mechanisms in manufacturing; and establishing a strong governance structure for the growing National Network for Manufacturing Innovation.</p> <p>The second facet of the report outlines measures to build a skilled workforce, from new programs in skill certification and job training, to a campaign to refurbish the image of contemporary manufacturing, in an effort to attract talent into the field.</p> <p>The third part of the report involves a pair of measures to improve business conditions, especially for smaller and midsize manufacturers. One would help companies scale up operations through better access to capital and tax incentives, among other things; another would improve the flow of information about technologies, markets, and supply chains.</p> <p>The new actions the White House made public on Monday include an additional $300 million of federal government funds in three advanced-manufacturing fields: production of advanced materials, advanced sensing and control, and digital manufacturing. The administration also announced a forthcoming $100 million grant competition to spur apprenticeship programs, and will develop, through the Department of Commerce’s Manufacturing Extension Partnership, a $130 million, 10-state pilot program to help small manufacturers adopt innovations and bring new products to market.</p> <p>While manufacturing has shrunk as a part of the U.S. economy in recent decades, it has added more than 700,000 jobs since February 2010, the fastest pace of job growth in the sector since the 1990s.</p> <p>In recent years, MIT has actively engaged with the policy side of advanced manufacturing. Former MIT President Susan Hockfield co-chaired the first iteration of AMP, from 2011 through 2012. The Institute hosted regional AMP meetings in November 2012 and May 2014, convening leaders and experts in academia, industry, and government to examine ways of bolstering the innovation economy and, in turn, economic growth.</p> <p>“I know we are eager to continue to play our part in this vital effort to secure our nation’s future,” Reif added on Monday. He also discussed the subject later in the day, in a public forum at the National Academies.</p> <p>Reif has co-chaired the steering committee for AMP 2.0 with Andrew Liveris, the president, chairman, and CEO of Dow Chemical Co., who has been actively involved in the effort to rebuild U.S.-based manufacturing.</p> <p>A related, MIT-wide project, Production in the Innovation Economy (PIE), released a major report on the links between innovation and manufacturing in September 2013, drawing on broad research conducted by faculty and other scholars over the previous two years.</p> President L. Rafael Reif, Industry, Manufacturing, National relations and service, Policy, Government, President Obama, Public service Science school for judges MIT and the Broad Institute open their doors to the judicial community for a workshop at the intersection of science and the law. Tue, 20 Sep 2011 04:00:00 -0400 Emily Finn, MIT News Office Last week, tucked away in a second-floor teaching space at the MIT Museum known as “the cell,” students huddled together in a dark corner of the room labeled “nucleus,” where they laboriously snapped together LEGOs — in this case representing nucleotides — to match a long chain of genetic material in front of them.<br /><br />Then, clutching their strands of messenger RNA, they were ushered toward the center of the room by their instructor, Kathy Vandiver, who sat them at small tables marked “ribosome” and set them off building proteins out of additional toy bricks.<br /><br />But these weren’t primary school students. They were judges from all over the country who had come to MIT for Judges’ Science School, a crash course in scientific information and methods for legal professionals.<br /><br />Sponsored by the Advanced Science and Technology Adjudication Resource Center (ASTAR), a professional organization funded by the U.S. Department of Justice, Judges’ Science School convenes six to eight workshops each year with participants selected by chief justices in 47 U.S. jurisdictions. This session, the first ever held at MIT, was on “Gene-Environment Interaction in Health and Disease.” <br /><br />That’s where the LEGO came in. “We wanted to make the session very hands-on,” says Vandiver, the outreach director for MIT’s Center for Environmental Health Sciences (CEHS), which hosted the event along with the MIT Museum and the Broad Institute. The activity was intended to help judges visualize DNA’s structure and function, so they could better understand how mutations in the molecule lead to cancer and other diseases.<br /><br />The theme is a timely one. Scientists are increasingly answering the decades-old question of “nature versus nurture” — that is, whether our health and behavior are determined by our genes or our surroundings — with a resounding “both.” New discoveries show that the risk of everything from criminal activity to skin cancer is mediated by the complex interplay between a person’s environment and his or her genetic predispositions. <br /><br />But this interaction makes it difficult to establish true causation, something that’s critical in the courtroom. “If I experience adverse radiation exposure at a certain site and I develop cancer, whose fault is that? Is anyone to blame? Who pays?” asks Franklin Zweig, a senior fellow at ASTAR and director of the event.<br /><br /><strong>The ‘X’ factor</strong><br /><br />The consensus among the CEHS presenters — Leona Samson, the Uncas (1923) and Helen Whitaker Professor of Toxicology and Biological Engineering and CEHS director; and Bevin Engelward, an associate professor of biological engineering — was that for any given individual, those questions are very difficult to answer. Radiation and other environmental toxins cause mutations in DNA, which are known to lead to cancer — sometimes. But mutations can be caused by a number of other factors we wouldn’t ordinarily consider toxic, and they also occur spontaneously over the natural lifetime of a cell. On top of that, some individuals are genetically blessed with an increased capacity to repair their DNA, meaning that two people exposed to the same quantity of radiation over the same period of time may be at different risks of developing cancer.<br /><br />Over the three-day workshop, the judges gained an appreciation for this tangled web of cause and effect. “It’s obviously very difficult to say with any degree of certainty that factor ‘X’ was the causative one — that without it, the disease wouldn’t have happened,” says Paul Kapalko, a civil court judge in New Jersey.<br /><br />Of course, judges aren’t left to make those calls entirely on their own; most cases that hinge on scientific or medical evidence invoke the testimony of expert witnesses. But just who qualifies as an expert? Judges need a basic knowledge of science so they can sniff out testimony that seems based on flawed research, or out of line with what’s generally accepted by the scientific community. Kapalko describes this role as the “gatekeeper” of information in the courtroom.<br /><br />“All we can do is help ensure that something that’s not truly science doesn’t get in front of the jury,” he says. “Our job here is to understand the science better so we can perform that duty.”<br /><br /><strong>Getting things right </strong> <br /><br />To that end, much of the event was devoted to giving judges tools to evaluate scientists’ methods and conclusions. Participants toured labs at the Broad Institute and heard from researchers about how they analyze and interpret data. They got a chance to learn firsthand how scientists correlate genetic mutations with specific diseases by donning gloves and pipetting samples of DNA into gel for separation in the teaching lab of Megan Rokop, the Broad’s outreach director. Jane Beckering, a judge on the Michigan Court of Appeals, called the program “absolutely fabulous.” <br /><br />“Science is developing at an incredible rate, and we need to do our best to keep up. This is the kind of evidence we’re going to see in years to come,” she says, adding that she’d had two recent cases — one involving toxic mold, the other an overdose of radiation in a cancer patient — in which she felt she would have benefited from a better understanding of genetics and environmental health factors.<br /><br />Zweig says the best way for judges to stay current is through direct interaction with scientists themselves, who appreciate both the complexity of the work and what’s at stake in applying it to real-world cases.<br /><br />“The justice system depends on the ability of the court to get things right, and the ability to get things right depends on objective, even-handed information,” Zweig said. “So we go to places that have [that information] and can dispense it.”<br /><br />For their part, the MIT and Broad researchers were eager to do just that. “At CEHS, [an event like this] is part of our will and obligation,” Samson says. Engelward adds that she was impressed with the judges’ receptiveness and the quality of their questions. She says she also appreciates how this type of training can benefit society as a whole: “As judges, they have such influence, so this was an efficient way to touch a much larger population.”<br /><br />Timothy Henderson, a district judge in Wichita, Kan., echoes that sentiment. There were 32 judges at the MIT session of Science School — very few, considering that 28 million cases were filed in the U.S. legal system last year alone. But Henderson says the participants will share their new scientific knowledge with their colleagues. “We don't live in an ivory tower in the courtroom,” he says, adding that he has regular interaction with other judges, legislators and lawyers through his state bar and his service on various committees.<br /><br />Building on a concept he’d learned earlier that day — through LEGOs — Henderson offers a metaphor: “Maybe we are the mutation within the judicial community.”<br />Graphic: Christine DaniloffBroad Institute, Education, teaching, academics, Environment, Health sciences and technology, MIT Museum, National relations and service, Special events and guest speakers, Technology and society Lindquist receives National Medal of Science President Obama presents nation’s top science awards at White House ceremony Wednesday. Thu, 18 Nov 2010 05:00:03 -0500 News Office President Barack Obama on Wednesday presented Susan Lindquist with the National Medal of Science, the nation's highest science honor, during a White House ceremony.<br /><br />Lindquist, a member of the Whitehead Institute for Biomedical Research and an MIT biology professor, received the award “for her studies of protein folding, demonstrating that alternative protein conformations and aggregations can have profound and unexpected biological influences, facilitating insights in fields as wide-ranging as human disease, evolution, and biomaterials.”<br /><br /> <object width="560" height="350"> <param name="movie" value="" /> <param name="allowFullScreen" value="true" /> <param name="bgcolor" value="282828" /> <param name="allowscriptaccess" value="always" /> <param name="flashvars" value="config=;path_to_plugins=;path_to_player=" /><embed type="application/x-shockwave-flash" width="560" height="350" src="" allowscriptaccess="always" allowfullscreen="true" flashvars="config=;path_to_plugins=;path_to_player=;share_url="></embed> </object> <br /><strong> This year's National Medal of Science winners are presented with their awards during a ceremony at the White House</strong>.<br /><em> Video: White House</em><br /><br />The National Medal of Science, which is awarded annually, was established by Congress in 1959 as a presidential award honoring those who have made “outstanding contributions to knowledge in the physical, biological, mathematical, or engineering sciences."<br /><br />Susan Lindquist receives her National Medal of Science from President Barack Obama.Photo: Ryan K. Morris Photography, National Science and Technology Medals FoundationAwards, honors and fellowships, Biology, Faculty, Howard Hughes Medical Institute (HHMI), National relations and service, President Obama, Whitehead Institute 3 Questions: Walt Henry Facilities engineer discusses how MIT is leading the way for universities to practice what they preach on energy efficiency. Wed, 20 Oct 2010 18:22:11 -0400 David L. Chandler, MIT News Office <em>This year, MIT became a member of the Global Superior Energy Performance (GSEP) Partnership, a nationwide collaboration that aims to find, quantify and share the best methods for universities, businesses and industries to save energy and reduce greenhouse-gas emissions. MIT is the only academic institution represented in the group, which also includes the Cleveland Clinic, retailers Walmart and Target, and industrial companies Nissan, 3M and Dow Chemical. Walt Henry, director of the Systems Engineering Group at MIT’s Department of Facilities, discusses the implications of this collaboration and the ways MIT aims to implement its goals.</em><br /><br /><strong>Q. </strong>How were the members chosen to be part of this initiative, and what does it mean for MIT to be part of it?<br /><br /><strong>A. </strong>They were chosen because they have substantial programs of their own already underway, as does MIT. The thought was that this initiative would help them take it to another level, and then share that with others in their sector. It was pretty clear it was a good idea. What we have committed to do is to take the programs we have already begun, and revise those programs a little bit to conform to a new ISO (International Standards Organization) standard that is in the process of development. The intent is to create a framework for institutions to build their energy programs around. So we will take all the documentation we have created for our program and reformat it to match the requirements of the ISO standard, which is expected to be issued next year.<br /><br />The benefit for MIT is that we now have a much more robust description and documentation of the program, developed in an internationally accepted way.<br /><br /><strong>Q. </strong>Once we document what MIT is doing, what’s the next step?<br /><br /><strong>A. </strong>The second step is implementing the program according to the procedures outlined in that description. We will find some example projects we can carry out in compliance with that document. Right now we’re working on things like installing energy-efficient lighting, and improving the compressed air system, but we’re looking for projects that are somewhat more complex. For example, we’re working on improving the temperature difference in our chilled-water system (used for cooling buildings). We send water out at a certain temperature, it goes through the buildings, and it comes back at a higher temperature. If you can get buildings to perform so that each gallon of water absorbs more heat than it does now, you improve the efficiency of the system, because you can pump less water to get the work done. That’s the kind of thing we’re looking for. We’re hoping to demonstrate some creativity and ingenuity. We will also continue to work with the “Walk the Talk” Campus Energy Task Force, organized by the MIT Energy Initiative.<br /><br /><strong>Q. </strong>Are there specific goals or targets that members of this collaboration are expected to achieve, or at least aim for?<br /><br /><strong>A. </strong>We have talked to the Department of Energy about that. Whatever we do should be able to give a 15 percent improvement. But there isn’t a specific criterion we have to meet. We will talk about some goal that will be specifically related to a given project. The important point is that we have to measure, we have to document everything. One of the things that gives us an advantage here is that we knew that measurement and verification would be important for our program with NSTAR (a recently announced collaboration to reduce MIT’s electricity use by 15 percent over three years). Our goal is to ensure that whatever project we do with DoE does advance our commitment to NSTAR as well. Peter Cooper (manager of sustainability engineering and utility planning for the Department of Facilities) has created a very robust measurement and documentation protocol and had that reviewed by faculty members, including Leon Glicksman and Les Norford, to be sure the methodology we’re following is rigorous enough. The idea is to provide a national standard for people to verify their energy savings claims. For example, if we improve the lighting in a building, [the standard] would have us measure at the building level the energy used by lights, and then measure again after the new lights are installed. In newer buildings, we’re able to do that. For example, in the Stata Center, it is set up so we can measure [the energy used by lights] directly. So we’re measuring where possible, and in older buildings, we’ll use industry standards to extend this to things we can’t directly measure.<br /><br />We’re not afraid to experiment and take appropriate risks. We had some LED lighting applications that didn’t work out as we had hoped, but that technology is developing at an amazing rate, a rate we’ve never seen before. We’re mindful of the economics of these things, particularly in lighting — there are a number of opportunities with a payback in one and a half to three years, and some things probably closer to one year.<br /><br />Walt Henry, director of the Systems Engineering Group at MIT’s Department of FacilitiesCampus buildings and architecture, Energy, National relations and service, Technology and society Susan Lindquist wins National Medal of Science The Whitehead Institute member and MIT biology professor is one of 10 chosen to receive the top U.S. science honor. Fri, 15 Oct 2010 19:29:23 -0400 Whitehead Institute and News Office President Barack Obama on Friday named Susan Lindquist, a member of the Whitehead Institute for Biomedical Research and an MIT biology professor, a recipient of the National Medal of Science, the nation’s highest scientific honor.<br /><br />Lindquist was cited “for her studies of protein folding, demonstrating that alternative protein conformations and aggregations can have profound and unexpected biological influences, facilitating insights in fields as wide-ranging as human disease, evolution, and biomaterials.”<br /><br />The National Medal of Science, which is awarded annually, was established by Congress in 1959 as a presidential award honoring those who have made “outstanding contributions to knowledge in the physical, biological, mathematical, or engineering sciences.”<br /><br />In announcing this year’s 10 medalists, Obama stated, “The extraordinary accomplishments of these scientists, engineers, and inventors are a testament to American industry and ingenuity. Their achievements have redrawn the frontiers of human knowledge while enhancing American prosperity, and it is my tremendous pleasure to honor them for their important contributions.”<br /><br />Lindquist, whose primary affiliation is with the Whitehead Institute, where her laboratory is located and all her research is conducted, said she reacted with “stunned surprise” upon learning of the honor.<br /><br />“I’m just absolutely thrilled,” she said. “When I started out in science, I thought having a bench in the corner of someone’s lab would be about the best I could hope for. It never occurred to me that I could have my own lab, let alone achieve an honor like this.”<br /><br />Lindquist, who is also a Howard Hughes Medical Institute investigator, credited her family — and her husband, Edward Buckbee, in particular — for supporting her remarkably successful career. She said Edward and daughters Eleanora, 23, and Alana, 21, couldn’t be more delighted.<br /> <br />“They’re just so proud and excited and sweet about all this,” she said, adding that her daughters can’t wait to visit the White House to watch their mother receive the medal. Long an advocate for women in science, Lindquist said she hopes this latest achievement will further demonstrate that it is possible to succeed in a scientific career while balancing a family life that includes children.<br /><br />Whitehead Institute Director David Page applauded Lindquist for scientific leadership that has had significant impact locally, nationally and internationally.<br /><br />“I couldn’t be more excited for Susan over this recognition of her incredible scientific imagination and creativity,” Page said. “It’s also very exciting for me that Susan is such an integral part of the scientific mix here at Whitehead Institute. The energy she brings to her lab’s pursuits permeates the Institute as a whole, and the place is so much richer because of it.”<br /><br />Lindquist earned her PhD in biology from Harvard University in 1976 and joined the biology faculty at the University of Chicago in 1978. She left Chicago in 2001 to become director of the Whitehead Institute, a position she held until 2004. She was elected to the American Academy of Arts and Sciences in 1997, the National Academy of Sciences in 1997 and the Institute of Medicine in 2006.<br /><br />She is expected to receive the medal from President Obama at a White House ceremony on Nov. 17. Lindquist is the Whitehead Institute’s second National Medal of Science recipient; Founding Member Robert Weinberg, also an MIT professor of biology, garnered the honor in 1997.<br /><br />In addition to Lindquist and Weinberg, six current members of the MIT faculty have won the National Medal of Science. A list of current and former MIT community members who have won the award can be seen here: <a href="" target="_blank"></a><br /><br /><br />Susan Lindquist, a member of the Whitehead Institute for Biomedical Research and an MIT biology professor, has been named a recipient of the National Medal of Science.Photo: Johnson and JohnsonAwards, honors and fellowships, Biology, Faculty, National relations and service, Whitehead Institute, Howard Hughes Medical Institute (HHMI) President Obama lights up MIT Calls for America to lead the world in clean energy. Fri, 23 Oct 2009 18:41:34 -0400 David L. Chandler, MIT News Office President Barack Obama, in a historic visit to the MIT campus, praised the Institute's commitment to energy research and issued a strong call for the nation to lead the world in the development of new, efficient and clean energy technologies.<br /><br />"Nations everywhere are racing to develop new ways to produce and use energy," he said in remarks delivered to a packed Kresge Auditorium. "The nation that wins this competition will be the nation that leads the global economy. I'm convinced of that. And I want America to be that nation."<br /><br />Before delivering his speech on "American leadership in clean energy," the President was escorted by MIT President Susan Hockfield and MIT Energy Initiative Director Ernest Moniz on <a href="/newsoffice/2009/energy-researchers-find-obama-an-eager-student.html">a tour of MIT laboratories</a> conducting energy research. <br /><br />"Extraordinary research [is] being conducted at this Institute," Obama said, citing work that could lead to windows that generate electricity, batteries that are grown by viruses rather than being built, highly efficient new lighting systems and ways of storing energy from offshore windmills so that it can be delivered when needed. <br /><br />"You just get excited being here, and seeing these extraordinary young people," he said. "It taps into something essential about America," he said, asserting that the nation has "always been about discovery. It's in our DNA."<br /><strong><br />'Heirs to a legacy of innovation'</strong><br /><br />Obama's talk came as Congress gears up for hearings on clean energy legislation and as negotiators from around the world prepare for December's U.N. climate talks in Copenhagen. <br /><br />The President said that the clean-energy research he saw in the labs is "a reminder that all of you are heirs to a legacy of innovation, not just here but across America, that has improved our health and our well being and helped us achieve unparalleled prosperity." But Obama indicated that this prosperity was in jeopardy, threatened in part by the very force that drives it. <br /><br />"The system of energy that powers our economy also undermines our security and endangers our planet," he said.<br /> <br />Discussing energy legislation that is presently working its way through the U.S. Congress with some bipartisan support, including a bill jointly sponsored by Republican Senator Lindsay Graham and Democratic Senator John Kerry, the President said he believed a consensus was growing. <br /><br />"We are seeing a convergence," he said. The naysayers, the folks who would pretend that this is not an issue, they are being marginalized." But, he added, "the closer we get, the harder the opposition will fight."<br /><br />Young people, he said, "understand that this is the challenge of their generation."<br /><br />Indeed, Forgan McIntosh, co-president of the MIT Energy Club and an MBA student at the MIT Sloan School of Management, said before the event that he hoped the President would use his occasion to jump-start progress on redefining Washington's role in the energy sector and its leadership position in the global race for clean energy competitiveness. Reached after the speech, McIntosh said he was not disappointed. <br /><br />"The President used his speech to express a solid commitment to leading the global clean energy race for both economic and climate concerns,"  he said.<br /><br /><strong>'The go-to place'</strong><br /><br />President Obama's visit to MIT was only the second in the Institute's history by a sitting president, following President Bill Clinton's appearance for a Commencement address in 1998. This was the first such visit to include a tour of laboratories and meetings with MIT faculty members.<br /><br />After taking the stage in Kresge, Obama began his talk with a few quips about MIT, initially describing it as "the most prestigious school in Cambridge Massachusetts." The graduate of Harvard Law School quickly backtracked, adding, "well, in this part of Cambridge." Then, referring to MIT's tradition of hacks, he said "I might be here for a while — a bunch of engineering students put my motorcade on top of Building 10."<br /><br />Following the speech, Moniz said Obama was "truly thrilled with the work he saw and the scale of the commitment he saw here." Robert Armstrong, deputy director of the MIT Energy Initiative, said the fact that the President chose to come here for this talk illustrates the fact that "MIT is becoming the go-to place for work on clean energy."<br /><br />Hockfield, in her remarks before the President's talk, said that "President Obama has articulated a powerful vision for restoring economic growth, creating jobs and counteracting climate change by investing aggressively in clean energy research and development."<br /><br />Hockfield hailed the historic significance of the visit, saying the fact "that President Obama has come to MIT to talk about America's potential to lead in clean energy is a tribute to the groundbreaking work of our faculty and students, including many in this room."<br /><br />She added that "we share President Obama's view that clean energy is the defining challenge of this era. To meet the doubling of global energy demand by 2050; to drive new patents, new products, new industries and new jobs, and to mitigate climate change, clean energy is the only avenue."<br /><br />Chancellor Phillip L. Clay said that the President's visit "signals that the administration understands the very important leadership contribution that MIT is making on the energy problem," and shows the President's commitment to "applying science and technology to solving problems such as energy." Personally, he said, "I'm just so pleased and proud — there's no place on my body left to pinch."<br /><br /> <iframe frameborder="0" height="380" src="" width="560"></iframe>Energy, MIT Energy Initiative (MITEI), President Obama, Special events and guest speakers, Staff, Students, MIT Administration, National relations and service, Policy Letter to the community regarding President Barack Obama&#039;s visit President will deliver address on America&#039;s leadership on clean energy Tue, 20 Oct 2009 19:45:48 -0400 News Office President Barack Obama will visit MIT on Friday, Oct. 23. Details of the event were described in an e-mail sent this evening to the MIT community from Kirk Kolenbrander, MIT's Vice President for Institute Affairs and Secretary of the Corporation. The letter follows.<br /><br /><hr><br />It is my great pleasure to announce that on Friday, October 23, President Barack Obama will be visiting MIT, where he will deliver an address in Kresge Auditorium on clean energy after meeting some of the MIT faculty and students whose work centers on energy. The President will be joined by Massachusetts Governor Deval Patrick.<br />&nbsp;<br />President Obama’s decision to speak about energy from our campus is a high honor — and one that can truly be shared by the entire MIT community. Students, faculty and staff at the Institute are helping to frame the national policy debate on energy, push the frontiers of energy research, and revitalize energy education. With our flagship energy initiative — MITEI — MIT is bringing real-world solutions to the most challenging problems in energy.<br />&nbsp;<br />President Obama and President Hockfield both believe that the leading minds in science and technology must bring their talent squarely to bear on creating transformational energy solutions. We are thrilled to see MIT recognized as central to that historic effort.<br />&nbsp;<br /><b>Logistics of the Visit</b><br />A great number of us would love the opportunity to see the President speak in person. However, as is common with Presidential visits, seating for the address will be extraordinarily limited and will be by invitation only. The tickets MIT has for the event will be allocated in such a way as to be broadly representative of the Institute — and weighted to favor students. I am working with the deans of our five schools to extend invitations to a small number of students, faculty and staff. In order to allow as much of the community to share in this visit as possible, we will webcast the address live to various locations around campus.<br />&nbsp;<br />Details on the locations of the webcasts, as well as any further information about the day of the visit, will be made available tomorrow at <a mce_href="" href=""></a>.<br />&nbsp;<br />The visit will begin in the late morning on Friday and end in the early afternoon. Of course, any Presidential visit to MIT involves security measures that may cause significant interruptions to the ordinary life of the campus. On Friday morning, <a mce_href="/newsoffice/2009/obama-parking.html" href="/newsoffice/2009/obama-parking.html">please expect vehicle and pedestrian traffic to be disrupted on various parts of our campus.</a> Those who are likely to be directly affected (as with the temporary closing of a parking lot or a part of a building) will be notified as soon as possible. Once President Obama has departed our campus, we will swiftly restore normal operations.<br />&nbsp;<br />Friday’s visit will be a great source of pride at MIT for years to come. We look forward to sharing that special day with you all.<br /><br />President Barack Obamaflickr, via creative commonsSpecial events and guest speakers, Faculty, MIT Administration, National relations and service, Policy, Staff, Students, Leadership Two from MIT elected to the Institute of Medicine Professor of Economics Amy Finkelstein and Tyler Jacks, director of the Koch Institute, join arm of the National Academies of Science. Mon, 12 Oct 2009 14:01:00 -0400 Peter Dizikes and Anne Trafton, News Office MIT Professor of Economics Amy Finkelstein and Tyler Jacks, director of the David H. Koch Institute for Integrative Cancer Research at MIT, were elected today to the Institute of Medicine, an arm of the National Academies of Science. <br /><br />Election to the institute is an unusual distinction for an economist. Finkelstein, whose work has illuminated the complex social effects of health care programs, is one of only two economists among the 65 new members admitted to the Institute of Medicine this year. Of the 27 current MIT faculty who have been elected to the Institute of Medicine, Finkelstein and Jonathan Gruber are the only economists. <br /><br />Jacks, the David H. Koch Professor of Biology, studies the genetic events that contribute to cancer and led the transition of MIT's Cancer Research Center to the new Koch Institute, which brings scientists and engineers together to develop new ways to detect and treat cancer.<br /><br /><b>The economist is in</b><br /><br />Finkelstein, who described herself as "pleasantly surprised" by the news, has tackled many questions surrounding health care and insurance markets. One of her most influential papers, "The Aggregate Effects of Health Insurance: Evidence from the Introduction of Medicare," published in 2007 in the Quarterly Journal of Economics, outlined the complex and nuanced results of the introduction of Medicare in the United States in the 1960s. <br /><br />Among other things, Finkelstein's work found that Medicare's launch was associated with increases in health care spending, including the adoption of new medical technologies, but also had positive financial effects on the program's recipients. <br /><br />"A lot of people have focused on the costs of Medicare," says Finkelstein. "But there have been benefits as well." While health care is a politically charged issue in public life at the moment, Finkelstein sees her role as an economist as an effort to simply "try to uncover the facts. There are people with certain proclivities or ideologies who may look at our work a certain way, but we are trying to contribute to the state of knowledge." <br /><br />Finkelstein has also written extensively on the complex ways health-insurance markets function. Currently she is part of a group of researchers from MIT and Harvard examining the effects of health care insurance that has been granted to a randomly selected group of Oregon residents. <br /><br />These areas of research, she thinks, are being increasingly valued. "It's quite gratifying to the see the prominent role being played by health economists today," Finkelstein says. "Health care is medical in nature, but it's fundamentally an economic problem as well."<br /><br />Finkelstein completed her PhD in MIT's Department of Economics in 2001, under the supervision of James Poterba, the Mitsui Professor of Economics. She joined the faculty in 2005 and was promoted to professor in 2008. "I'm a product of MIT," says Finkelstein. "My intellectual development and intellectual life is basically attributable to MIT."<br /><br /><b>Tracing cancer's development</b><br /><br />Jacks said he is honored to become part of the Institute of Medicine, which advises government officials on medical issues. "It's tremendous to be recognized in this fashion, and I'm extremely grateful," says Jacks, who is now serving a one-year term as president of the American Association for Cancer Research.<br /><br />Jacks has also distinguished himself as the leader of the Koch Institute. Under his guidance, the institute is moving into a new 180,000-square-foot building, scheduled to open in December 2010, which will house a unique mix of cancer biologists and engineers. <br /><br />Research in Jacks' laboratory focuses on the genetic events that lead to cancer. His lab has engineered novel mouse strains that accurately mimic human cancers, allowing researchers to explore the root causes of the disease and seek potential new treatments. <br /><br />The genetically engineered mice develop tumors that resemble human cancers both in their genetics and their symptoms, and are also used by labs around the world to study different types of cancer, including lung, pancreas, colon and ovarian cancers. "Our work has help to define new approaches to studying cancer in the whole animal," Jacks says. <br /><br />He also studies the effects of the tumor suppressing protein p53 and its role in tumor resistance to chemotherapy.<br /><br />Jacks is a member of the National Academy of Sciences and has won several prizes for his cancer research, including the 2005 Paul Marks Prize for Cancer Research and the 2005 Simon M. Shubitz Award. <br />Economics professor Amy Finkelstein, left; and Tyler Jacks, the director of the Koch Institute for Integrative Cancer Research, were elected today to the Institute of Medicine.Koch Institute, Cancer, Economics, National relations and service, Awards, honors and fellowships, Faculty, Biology A capital achievement In White House ceremony, President Barack Obama presents JoAnne Stubbe with the National Medal of Science in recognition of enzyme research that led to cancer drug. Wed, 07 Oct 2009 04:00:00 -0400 Anne Trafton, MIT News Office President Barack Obama today presented MIT biochemist JoAnne Stubbe with the National Medal of Science during a White House ceremony.<br /><br />Stubbe received the nation's highest science honor for her work in understanding the mechanisms of enzymes that play an essential role in DNA replication and repair. The research has had significant impacts on fields ranging from cancer drug development to synthesis of biodegradable plastics.<br /><br /><object height="453" width="560"><param name="movie" value=";rel=0&amp;color1=0xb1b1b1&amp;color2=0xcfcfcf&amp;hl=en&amp;feature=player_embedded&amp;fs=1"><param name="allowFullScreen" value="true"><param name="allowScriptAccess" value="always"><embed src=";rel=0&amp;color1=0xb1b1b1&amp;color2=0xcfcfcf&amp;hl=en&amp;feature=player_embedded&amp;fs=1" mce_src=";rel=0&amp;color1=0xb1b1b1&amp;color2=0xcfcfcf&amp;hl=en&amp;feature=player_embedded&amp;fs=1" type="application/x-shockwave-flash" allowfullscreen="true" allowscriptaccess="always" height="453" width="560"></object><br /><br />Stubbe was among nine researchers selected to receive the award this year, and Obama thanked the group for their contributions to fields as diverse as medicine, energy, computing, genetics and neuroscience. "They have fostered innovation that has saved millions of lives and improved the lives of countless others," he said. "This nation owes all of them a debt of gratitude far greater than any medal can bestow."<br /><br />After returning from Washington, Stubbe said that the East Room ceremony was an emotional experience. Before the ceremony, the medal recipients took a tour of the White House, and Stubbe noted that "the whole atmosphere in the White House, with all the young people he has working there, was so upbeat."<br /><br />Stubbe's studies of ribonucleotide reductases (RNRs), which play a key role in DNA copy and repair, have led to the design of a drug, gemcitabine, which is now used to treat pancreatic and other cancers. She also discovered the structure and function of bleomycin, an antibiotic used as a cancer drug.<br /><br />Before beginning his official remarks, Obama joked that he had an ulterior motive in inviting the distinguished group of scientists to the White House. "Sasha has a science fair coming up," he noted. "I was thinking you guys could give us a few tips. Michelle and I are a little rusty on our science."<br /><br />Stubbe, who joined the MIT faculty in 1987, is the Novartis Professor of Chemistry and a professor of biology. She is a member of the National Academy of Sciences, the American Academy of Arts and Sciences and the American Philosophical Society.<br /><br />In addition to Stubbe, this year's winners include MIT alumnus Rudolf Kalman of the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology in Zurich. Kalman earned his bachelor's and master's degrees in electrical engineering and computer science from MIT in 1953 and 1954, respectively.<br />DNA, Bioengineering and biotechnology, Chemistry and chemical engineering, National relations and service, Awards, honors and fellowships, Faculty Asteroids honor and motivate young scientists Since 2001, MIT Lincoln Laboratory’s Ceres Connection program, in conjunction with the International Astronomical Union, has celebrated more than 1,500 science fair winners by naming minor planets in their honor. Tue, 06 Oct 2009 15:53:34 -0400 Dorothy Ryan, MIT Lincoln Laboratory Lincoln Laboratory's Lincoln Near-Earth Asteroid Research (LINEAR) program has discovered more than 200,000 space objects, 30,000-plus of which have been numbered and made available for naming as minor planets. To the discoverer of these minor planets (often referred to as asteroids) go the rights to recommend names for them. <br /><br />In 2001, the Laboratory decided the best use of the naming rights was to seek to reward exceptional science students and their teachers with asteroids named in their honor. Thus, the Ceres Connection program was born. Since then more than 1,500 students in middle and high school have been honored for their success at science competitions such as the International Science and Engineering Fair (ISEF).&nbsp; <br /><br />This year, a 2007 recipient of the honor turned "her" asteroid into an award-winning 2009 science fair project. Read about Caroline von Wurden and the asteroid-inspired project at <a mce_href="" href=""></a>. <br /><br />The Ceres Connection also expanded its reach this year by honoring two graduate students who were awarded the IEEE Student Humanitarians Supreme prize in the IEEE Presidents' Change the World Competition. Read about them and the invention that won this honor at <a mce_href="" href=""></a>.Space, astronomy and planetary science, National relations and service, Students, Awards, honors and fellowships Biochemist JoAnne Stubbe wins National Medal of Science Nation&#039;s top science honor goes to MIT biochemist for her role in helping reveal the mechanism of enzymes involved in DNA replication and repair Thu, 17 Sep 2009 19:11:49 -0400 Anne Trafton, MIT News Office MIT biochemist JoAnne Stubbe will receive a National Medal of Science — the nation's top science honor — for her work in understanding the mechanisms of enzymes that play an essential role in DNA replication and repair, President Barack Obama announced Thursday. <br /><br />Obama will present the award to Stubbe and eight other scientists during an Oct. 7 White House ceremony.<br /><br />"Professor JoAnne Stubbe is a scientist's scientist: fiercely intelligent, doggedly curious and unbending in her pursuit of truth," said MIT President Susan Hockfield. "We are extraordinarily proud that she has received the National Medal of Science for her pioneering work in advancing our understanding of the chemistry at the root of life."<br /><br />Stubbe, who learned about the award in a late Tuesday night phone call from John Holdren '65, SM '66, Obama's science and technology adviser, said she is excited to make the trip to the White House and meet the president.<br /><br />"It's a little overwhelming, and a great honor," said Stubbe, the Novartis Professor of Chemistry and a professor of biology. "For the first time, everybody in my family is excited about what I do," she joked. <br /><br />According to the award citation, Stubbe was honored "for her groundbreaking experiments establishing the mechanisms of ribonucleotide reductases, polyester synthases, and natural product DNA cleavers — compelling demonstrations of the power of chemical investigations to solve problems in biology."<br /><br />"These scientists, engineers and inventors are national icons, embodying the very best of American ingenuity and inspiring a new generation of thinkers and innovators," Obama said in the announcement. "Their extraordinary achievements strengthen our nation every day-not just intellectually and technologically but also economically, by helping create new industries and opportunities that others before them could never have imagined."<br />&nbsp;<br />Stubbe's work over the past four decades has had profound impacts on fields ranging from cancer drug development to synthesis of biodegradable plastics.<br /> <br /> One of her major accomplishments is unraveling the mechanism of ribonucleotide reductases (RNRs), which play a key role in converting nucleotides to deoxynucleotides — thereby allowing DNA to be copied and repaired. Her studies in this area have led to the design of a drug, gemcitabine, which is now used to treat pancreatic and other cancers.<br /> <br /> MIT chemistry professor Stephen Lippard, who won the National Medal of Science in 2004, describes Stubbe as "one of the top few mechanistic biochemists of her generation." Stubbe spent a sabbatical in Lippard's lab in 1983 before joining the MIT faculty, and he has long admired her dedication, critical thinking, and relentless pursuit of the truth. "There are few people with her drive for understanding and insistence on accuracy in experimental work," he says. "It is a pleasure to be her colleague."<br /> <br /> Stubbe also discovered the structure and function of bleomycin, an antibiotic used as a cancer drug. Her research team, in collaboration with the laboratory of John Kozarich at ActivX, revealed how bleomycin damages DNA, killing the cancer cell. They also identified the structure of the DNA damage.<br /> <br /> Stubbe is now working with MIT Biology Professor Anthony Sinskey to use bacterial enzymes to produce biodegradable thermoplastics, which could be a potential alternative to traditional oil-based plastics. They were the first to isolate one of the enzymes, known as PHA synthases, and to define how the plastic polymers form. <br /><br />The National Medal of Science was created in 1959 and is administered for the White House by the National Science Foundation. Awarded annually, the medal recognizes individuals who have made outstanding contributions to science and engineering. Nominees are selected by a committee of presidential appointees based on their advanced knowledge in, and contributions to, the biological, behavioral/social, and physical sciences, as well as chemistry, engineering, computing, and mathematics.<br /><br />Stubbe is a member of the National Academy of Sciences, the American Academy of Arts and Sciences and the American Philosophical Society. She has won the National Academy of Sciences Award in Chemical Sciences (2008), the Kaiser Award (2008), the Nakanishi Award (2009), the Alfred Bader Award in Bioorganic and Bioinorganic Chemistry (1997), the Repligan Award (2004), the Pfizer Award in Enzyme Chemistry (1986), the ICI-Stuart Pharmaceutical Award for Excellence in Chemistry (1989), the Cope Scholar Award (1993), the Richards Medal from the Northeastern Section of the American Chemical Society (1996) and the Prelog Medal (2009), among others. &nbsp;<br /><br />She earned a bachelor's degree in chemistry in 1968 from the University of Pennsylvania and a PhD in organic chemistry in 1971 from the University of California at Berkeley.<br /><br />Stubbe joined the MIT faculty in 1987 from the University of Wisconsin at Madison, where she had been a faculty member since 1983. She has also taught at the Yale University School of Medicine (1977-80) and at Williams College (1972-77) and was an NIH postdoctoral fellow at Brandeis (1975-77) and a postdoctoral researcher at the University of California (1971-72).<br /><br />Other current MIT faculty who have won the National Medal of Science include Ann Graybiel (2001), Robert Langer (2006), Stephen Lippard (2004), Alexander Rich (1995), Phillip Sharp (2004), Isadore Singer (1983) and Robert Weinberg (1997). Emeritus faculty who have won the award are David Baltimore (1999), Mildred Dresselhaus (1990), Gobind Khorana (1987), Daniel Kleppner (2006), Paul Samuelson (1996), Robert Solow (1999) and Kenneth Stevens (1999).<br /><br />In addition to Stubbe, this year's winners of the National Medal of Science include MIT alumnus Rudolf Kalman of the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology in Zurich. Kalman&nbsp; earned his bachelor's and master's degrees in electrical engineering and computer science from MIT in 1953 and 1954, respectively.<br /><br />National relations and service, Awards, honors and fellowships, DNA, Bioengineering and biotechnology, Chemistry and chemical engineering, Alumni/ae, Faculty A fabric with vision Researchers create flexible lensless camera from web of light-detecting fibers Wed, 08 Jul 2009 05:00:00 -0400 Elizabeth A. Thomson, News Office <p>Imagine a soldier's uniform made of a special fabric that allows him to look in all directions and identify threats that are to his side or even behind him. In work that could turn such science fiction into reality, MIT researchers have developed light-detecting fibers that, when weaved into a web, act as a flexible camera. Fabric composed of these fibers could be joined to a computer that could provide information on a small display screen attached to a visor, providing the soldier greater awareness of his surroundings.</p><p>The researchers, led by Associate Professor Yoel Fink of the Department of Materials Science and Engineering (DMSE), emphasize that while such an application and others like it are still only dreams, work is rapidly progressing on developing fabrics capable of capturing images. In a recent issue of the journal Nanoletters, the team reported what it called a "significant" advance: using such a fiber web to take a rudimentary picture of a smiley face.</p><p>"This is the first time that anybody has demonstrated that a single plane of fibers, or 'fabric,' can collect images just like a camera but without a lens," said Fink, corresponding author of the Nanoletters paper. "This work constitutes a new approach to vision and imaging."</p><p>Our eyes are a great example of Nature's approach to imaging: they involve a highly sophisticated and localized organ made in part of a delicate lens. Technologists have mimicked this approach in cameras, telescopes and even microscopes. </p><p>But lenses of natural or man-made origin have a limited field of view, and are susceptible to damage, leading to the loss of the imaging or seeing capacity altogether. Optical fiber webs, in contrast, provide a distributed imaging capability provided by the entire surface of a fabric, which is in principle much more robust to damage and "blindness." If one area is damaged, other fibers can still function, extracting the image.</p><p>"We are saying, 'instead of a tiny, sensitive object [for capturing images], let's construct a large, distributed system,'" said Fink, who is also affiliated with MIT's Research Laboratory of Electronics (RLE), the Center for Materials Science and Engineering (CMSE) and Institute for Soldier Nanotechnologies (ISN).</p><p>"While the current version of these fabrics can only image nearby objects, it can still can see much farther than most shirts can," he added.</p><h5>Nested Detection Layers</h5><p>The new fibers, less than a millimeter in diameter, are composed of layers of light-detecting materials nested one within another. </p><p>Those layers include two rings of a semiconductor material that are light sensitive, each ring only 100 billionths of a meter across. Four metal electrodes contact each of the rings, extending along the length of the fiber, for a total of eight. Each semiconductor ring with its attached electrodes is in turn encased in rings of a polymer insulator that separate it from its neighbor.</p><p>The team starts with a macroscopic cylinder, or preform, of these elements. That preform is placed into a special furnace that melts the components, carefully drawing them into miniscule fibers that retain the original orientation of the various layers. The process can produce many meters of fiber.</p><p>Fink's team demonstrated the power of their approach by placing an object - a smiley face - between a light source and a small swatch of fabric composed of the fibers that was in turn connected to an external amplifying electrical circuit and computer. </p><p>The individual fibers measure the intensity of the light illuminating them and convert it to an electrical signal. Importantly, they are also designed to differentiate between light at different wavelengths or colors. A mesh of fibers is then deployed to measure light intensity distribution at different wavelengths across a large area.</p><p>In the current work, the smiley face was illuminated with light at two separate wavelengths. This generated a distinct pattern on the fabric mesh that was then fed into a computer. From there, an algorithm described earlier by the Fink team in Nature Materials assimilates the data to create a black-and-white image of the object on a computer screen. </p><p>First author Fabien Sorin, a postdoctoral associate in RLE, DMSE and ISN, said that as the individual fibers become more sophisticated, it is possible to envision fabrics with more intriguing and complex functionalities, such as ones capable of producing crisper images in color.</p><p>"It is exciting to merge nanotechnology, which is at the forefront of modern science, with textiles and fabrics, one of man's oldest technologies," Sorin said.<br /> <br />Sorin's and Fink's colleagues on the work are Ofer Shapira, also a postdoctoral associate in RLE and ISN; Ayman F. Abouraddy of the University of Central Florida; Matthew Spencer of MIT's Department of Electrical Engineering and Computer Science; Nicholas D. Orf of RLE, DMSE and ISN; and John D. Joannopoulos, director of the ISN and MIT's Francis Wright Davis Professor of Physics.</p><p>This work was supported by the Army Research Office through the ISN, the National Science Foundation through the Materials Research Science and Engineering Center Program, the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency and the Department of Energy. </p>A Micrograph showing the cross-section of a new optoelectronic fiber.Courtesy / Fink Lab, MITElectrical engineering and electronics, Innovation and Entrepreneurship (I&E), Materials science, Nanoscience and nanotechnology, National relations and service MIT Public Service Center awards Wed, 03 Jun 2009 05:00:18 -0400 <p><strong>Public Service Center Grants - Summer 2008</strong><br />- Coco Agbeyibor '11, Alexandria, Va. <br />- Adnan Esmail '10, Bangalore, India<br />- Mustafa Dafalla '09, Bridgeview, Ill.<br />- Hattie Chung '10, Chapel Hill, N.C.<br />- Michael Gordon G, Cherry Hill, N.J. <br />- Fatima Hussain '11, Frederick, Md.<br />- Pallavi Konwar G, Guwahati, Assam, India<br />- Renaldo Webb '10, Harvey, La.<br />- Kendra Leith G, Holden, Mass.<br />- Zahir Dossa G, Irving, Texas<br />- Justin Cannon '08, Kansas City, Mo. <br />- Viriginia Flores G, Los Angeles, Calif. <br />- Kendra Johnson '09, Madison, Wis.<br />- Benjamin Power G, Miami, Fla.<br />- Juan Diaz '11, Mirimar, Fla.<br />- Jennifer Logan '09, Naperville, Ill. <br />- Paul Nikandrou '09, Nicosia, Cyprus<br />- Lauren Vegter '11, Niskayuna, N.Y. <br />- Jessica Laviolette '09, Ortonville, Mich. <br />- Kathleen Li '10, Plano, Texas<br />- Liying Bernice Huang '09, San Diego, Calif. <br />- Abigail Clark '09, Springfield, Va.<br />- Samuel Clark '09, Springfield, Va. <br />- Shanti Kleiman G, Takoma Park, Md. <br />- Andrew Bishara '09, Toledo, Ohio<br />- Rebecca Gould '11, Westport, Conn. <br />- Seema Kacker '10 <br />- Jaime Mateus G, Brazil and Portugal<br />- Ingrid Chaires '11, Katy, Texas</p><p><strong>Public Service Center Grants - Fall 2008</strong><br />- Robert McQueen '12, Barrington, R.I.<br />- Amos Winter G, Chesterfield, N.H.<br />- Chris Benson '10, Denver, Colo.<br />- Swetha Kambhampati '10, Irvine, Calif.<br />- Gil Zamfirescu-Pereira '09, New York, N.Y. <br />- Manish Bhardwaj G, Panchkula, Haryana, India<br />- Sarah Nielson G, Portland, Ore. <br />- Sonal Sodha G, Potomac, Md.<br />- Somani Patnaik '11, Rourkela, Orissa, India<br />- Regina Clewlow G, San Jose, Calif. </p><p><strong>Public Service Center Grants - IAP 2009</strong><br />- Yang Jiang G, Beijing, China<br />- Folkers Rojas '08, Cambridge, Mass.<br />- Samantha O'Keefe '09, Carlisle, Mass. <br />- Manvi Goel '09, Centreville, Va.<br />- Sean Liu '10, El Dorado Hills, Calif. <br />- Manjula Amerasinghe G, Kandy, Central Province, Sri Lanka<br />- Arjun Mehta '10, London, Middlesex, U.K.<br />- Angelica Weiner '09, Malboro, N.J. <br />- Sarina Siddhanti '09, McLean, Va.<br />- Andre Thomas '11, Mt. Vernon, N.Y. <br />- Hrishikesh Ballal G, Nagpur, Maharashtra, India<br />- Mary Masterman '10, Oklahoma City, Okla.<br />- Fernando Funakoshi '09, San Antonio, Texas<br />- Rebecca Smith '09, St. Johnsville, N.Y.<br />- Mahalia Miller '09, Stevens Point, Wis. <br />- Yi Wang '09, Woodinville, Wash.<br />- Elizabeth Basha G, Woodland, Calif. <br />- Katherine Thomas '09 <br />- Libby Putman G </p><p><strong>Public Service Center Grants - Spring 2009</strong><br />- Wendy Chen '09, Boston, Mass. <br />- Danielle DeLatte '11, Ellicott City, Md. <br />- Karina Pikhart '09, Granada Hills, Calif. <br />- Lisa Tacoronte '10, Miami, Fla.<br />- Jacob Wamala '12, Milford, N.H. <br />- Sayaka Hill G, Schaumburg, Ill.<br />- Anne Runkle '11 <br />- Jacinda Shelly '10 <br />- Shammi Quddus '10 <br />- Siraj Ali '12 </p><p><strong>Public Service Fellowship - Fall 2008</strong><br />- Forrest Funnell '09, Palos Verdes, Calif.<br />- Debmalya Guha G, Kolkata, India<br />- Jeremy Flores '09, Corpus Christi, Texas</p><p><strong>Public Service Fellowship - IAP 2009</strong><br />- Anupong Tangpeerachaikul '12, Bangkok, Thailand<br />- Fatima A Hussain '10, Frederick, Md.<br />- Kendra Johnson, Madison, Wis.<br />- Lisa Rayle G, Ann Arbor, Mich.<br />- Alexander Goldenberg '10, Miami, Fla.<br />- Christine Hsieh G, West Windsor, N.J.<br />- Tanguy Chau G, Brussels, Belgium<br />- Amy Qian '11, San Jose, Calif.<br />- Raqeebul Ketan '11, Uttara, Dhaka, Bangladesh<br />- Somani Patnaik '11, Surat, Gujarat, India<br />- Forrest Funnell '09, Palos Verdes, Calif.<br />- Natasha Scolnik '10, Waccabuc, N.Y.<br />- Sameer Hirji '11, Dar-es-salaam, Tanzania<br />- George Waithaka '10, Mombasa, Kenya<br />- John Hilliard '09, Candor, N.Y.<br />- Katherine Clopeck '09, Medfield, Mass.<br />- Sara Ziff '09, Santa Cruz, Calif.<br />- Mangwe Sabtala '11, Yaounde, Central Cameroon</p><p><strong>Public Service Fellowship - Spring 2009</strong><br />- Xuelin Lu '09, New York, N.Y.</p><p><strong>Public Service Fellowship - Summer 2009</strong><br />- Rutuparna Das '12, East Brunswick, N.J.<br />- Helen D'Couto '12, Austin, Texas<br />- Danielle Delatte '11, Ellicott City, Md.<br />- Yang Jiang G, Beijing, China<br />- Raqeebul Ketan '11, Dhaka, Bangladesh<br />- Katherine Kuan '09, Belmont, Calif.<br />- Richard Mancco '11, Silver Spring, Md.<br />- Lauren Vegter '11, Niskayuna, N.Y.<br />- Sunaree Kim Marshall G, Sacramento, Calif.<br />- Harrison O'Hanley '11, Ipswich, Mass.<br />- Karina Pikhart '09, Granada Hills, Calif.<br />- Kelli Pointer '10, Flossmoor, Ill.<br />- Shomon Shamsuddin G, Baltimore, Md.<br />- Ting Shih '09, Rockville, Md.<br />- Graham Van Schaik '12, Columbia, S.C.<br />- Spencer Williams '11, San Diego, Calif.</p><p><strong>Paul and Priscilla Gray Value-Added Internship - IAP 2009</strong><br />- Nahathai Srivali '10, Baltimore, Md.<br />- Hannah L. Farrow '11, Lakeland, Fla.<br />- Laurie Denyer G, Toronto, Ontario, Canada<br />- Ting-Chih Shih '09, Rockville, Md.<br />- Danielle Martin '09, Somerville, Mass.<br />- Elizabeth Chimienti '10, Cambridge, Mass.<br />- Gregory Snyders '10, Santa Fe, N.M.<br />- Srilata Kammila G, Markham, Ontario, Canada<br />- Christiana Obiaya '10, Cleveland, Ohio</p><p><strong>Paul and Priscilla Gray Value-Added Internship - Spring 2009</strong><br />- Caroline Huang '10, Newark, Del.<br />- Kathleen Li '10, Plano, Texas<br />- Emma Brunskill G, Edmonds, Wash.</p><p><strong>Paul and Priscilla Gray Value-Added Internship - Summer 2009</strong><br />- Ruben Alonzo '11, Crystal City, Texas<br />- Mehul Jain G, New Delhi, India<br />- Katie Pesce '10, Chattanooga, Tenn.<br />- Mary Masterman '11, Oklahoma City, Okla.<br />- Cecilia Scott '10, Springfield, Mo.<br />- Lisa Schlecht '10, Lexington, Mass.<br />- Anna Waldman-Brown '11, San Francisco, Calif.<br />- Alice Yu '11, Richfield, Ohio<br />- Tracey Hayse '11, Lexington, Ky.</p><p><strong>NOLA Fellowship - 2009</strong><br />- Bernadette Baird-Zars G, Austin, Texas<br />- Aditi Mehta G, Needham, Mass.<br />- Anna Brand G, Chicago, Ill.<br />- Jacquelyn Dadakis G, Cambridge, Mass.</p><p><strong>Public Service Center AmeriCorps Student Leaders in Service Education Award</strong><br />Scot Frank '09, Holladay, Utah<br />- Teresa Gomez '11, Vancouver, Wash.<br />- Caroline Huang '10, Newark, Del.<br />- Grace Lee '10, Potomac, Md.<br />- Christie Lin '11, Rockville, Md.<br />- Robert McQueen '12, Barrington, R.I.<br />- Amit Sarin G, Boston, Mass.<br />- Tish Scolnik '10, Waccabuc, N.Y.<br />- Anila Sinha '10, Nashua, N.H.<br />- Vivian Tang '09, Chelmsford, Mass.<br />- Tony Valderrama '11, The Woodlands, Texas<br />- Yi Wang '09, Woodinville, Wash.<br />- Alia Whitney-Johnson '09, Leicester, N.C.<br />- Lucy Wu '09, Oakland, Calif. </p> <p /> <p> <em>A version of this article appeared in <a href="/newsoffice/techtalk-info.html">MIT Tech Talk</a> on <a href="/newsoffice/2009/techtalk53-27.1.pdf">June 3, 2009 (download PDF)</a>.</em> </p> Awards, honors and fellowships, National relations and service, Volunteering, outreach, public service Moniz named to Obama&#039;s science and technology advisory council Mon, 27 Apr 2009 05:00:03 -0400 <p>MIT Energy Initiative Director Ernest J. Moniz is among the 20 leading U.S. scientists and engineers selected to serve on President Barack Obama's Council of Advisors on Science and Technology (PCAST). </p><p>PCAST will advise the president and vice president on science issues and help formulate policy. As announced in December, the group will be co-chaired by John Holdren '65, SM '66, assistant to the president for science and technology and director of the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy; Eric Lander, director of the Broad Institute of MIT and Harvard and one of the principal leaders of the Human Genome Project; and Harold Varmus, president and CEO of Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center, former head of the National Institutes of Health and a Nobel laureate.</p><p>"This council represents leaders from many scientific disciplines who will bring a diversity of experience and views," Obama said in a statement issued Monday, April 27. "I will charge PCAST with advising me about national strategies to nurture and sustain a culture of scientific innovation."</p><p>Moniz, the Cecil and Ida Green Professor of Physics and Engineering Systems, is director of the Laboratory for Energy and the Environment at MIT. His research centers on energy technology and policy, including the future of nuclear power, coal, natural gas and solar energy in a low-carbon world. </p><p>Moniz served as under secretary of the Department of Energy (1997-2001) and associate director for science in the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy (1995-1997). </p><p>Other members of the council include Maxine Savitz PhD '61, retired general manager of Technology Partnerships at Honeywell Inc., and Shirley Ann Jackson '68, PhD '73, president of Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute and former chair of the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission.<br /></p> <p /> <p> <em>A version of this article appeared in <a href="/newsoffice/techtalk-info.html">MIT Tech Talk</a> on <a href="/newsoffice/2009/techtalk53-23.pdf">April 29, 2009 (download PDF)</a>.</em> </p> Ernest MonizPhoto / Donna CoveneyAwards, honors and fellowships, Faculty, National relations and service, Staff A life of research and service Symposium marks Deutch&#039;s leadership in teaching, administration and government Fri, 17 Apr 2009 05:00:00 -0400 David Chandler, MIT News Office <p>Even before he had completed his PhD work at MIT in the early 1960s, Institute Professor John Deutch was already getting calls from Washington asking him to step away from academia and enter government service, says his former thesis advisor Irwin Oppenheim, professor emeritus in the chemistry department.</p><p>"While he was writing his thesis, I remember spending most of my time fighting with the Pentagon, they kept saying they needed him," Oppenheim said Thursday, after a symposium in celebration of Deutch's 70th birthday that featured several high-profile speakers from government service, academia and industry.</p><p>Deutch had attracted the attention of national leaders by doing a study that questioned - "quite correctly," Oppenheim said - the value of the Skybolt missile system then under development, which was cancelled as a result.</p><p>Deutch did eventually get called to Washington service, both in the 1970s and the 1990s, serving four presidents in a variety of posts in the departments of defense and energy and as director of central intelligence - but only after he had already achieved tenure on the MIT faculty.</p><p>In addition to his government service and his teaching and research duties, which included 140 published papers in chemistry, Deutch has held important administrative posts at MIT. He served as head of the Department of Chemistry, dean of science, and provost under former President Paul Gray. In 1993, he was selected as an Institute Professor, the highest honor available to professors here.</p><p>Speaking at the celebration were longtime friends and colleagues including professor George Whitesides of Harvard, former Secretary of Defense and Secretary of Energy James R. Schlesinger, former Secretary of Defense Harold Brown, former National Security Advisor Brent Scowcroft, former Assistant Secretary of Defense Richard Perle and former White House Chief of Staff John Podesta, former congressman Phil Sharp, Washington-based lawyer Linda Stutz, and Deutch's son Philip (who described himself as "Deutch 2.0" and whose talk featured a picture of his own two children, or "Deutch 3.0").</p><p>Whitesides, a longtime friend and colleague of Deutch, described him as "a person of gravitas" who has significantly helped to shape the course of academic science in this country, from "just working on puzzles, to working on important problems" that affect society.</p><p>In addition to several talks, the symposium featured two panel discussions on subjects related to Deutch's government positions: energy and national security.</p><p>Deutch himself, commenting at the end of the symposium, referred back to comments Schlesinger made during the energy discussion, talking about the limitations of solar and wind power. "The wind does not blow all the time, and the sun does not shine all the time," Deutch said. "But the wind always blows and the sun always shines on me here at MIT."</p> <p /> <p> <em>A version of this article appeared in <a href="/newsoffice/techtalk-info.html">MIT Tech Talk</a> on <a href="/newsoffice/2009/techtalk53-23.pdf">April 29, 2009 (download PDF)</a>.</em> </p> Institute Professor John Deutch and wife Patricia were surrounded by wellwishers at a symposium in honor of John's 70th birthday. Family, MIT colleagues, and friends like Harold Brown and Brent Scowcroft from his years in public service were all in attendance.Photo / Donna CoveneyChemistry and chemical engineering, Faculty, National relations and service, Special events and guest speakers At MIT forum, Markey announces energy bill hearings Congressman says energy research could address jobs, climate and security Mon, 13 Apr 2009 05:00:06 -0400 David Chandler, MIT News Office <p>At a policy forum hosted by MIT on Monday, April 13, Rep. Edward Markey (D-Mass.) announced that he and Rep. Henry Waxman (D-Calif.) will begin a series of high-level hearings next week in Washington to help refine the details of a clean energy bill they introduced two weeks ago.</p><p>The legislation, which was the focus of Monday's forum, aims to spur the development of clean energy and reduce global warming emissions by establishing national standards for renewable energy and energy efficiency, and by putting a cap on carbon dioxide and other heat-trapping emissions.</p><p>"Our planet is sick, and there are no emergency rooms for sick planets," Markey said at the opening of the MIT event. He added that the hearings are due to begin next Tuesday, and three members of President Barack Obama's cabinet will be among the initial witnesses.</p><p>President Susan Hockfield, in introducing Markey at the event, noted that the new bill "frames the problem vividly and proposes the kind of comprehensive, large-scale, market-based answers that the situation demands." She added that it contains "powerful levers for change" that "we hope will support clean energy research, development and deployment."</p><p>Given that solving the intertwined issues of energy, climate change, security and economic growth represents what is "perhaps the greatest challenge of this century," Hockfield said MIT is an especially appropriate place to be launching such a discussion.</p><p>"At MIT, we like hard problems," she said. "We are ready and eager to help in the invention and implementation of solutions."</p><p>The event also featured remarks by John Holdren '65, SM '66, Obama's new director of the Office of Science and Technology Policy, and by Carol Browner, Obama's assistant forr energy and climate change. They were joined by bestselling author on energy issues Daniel Yergin, and by MIT Energy Initiative Director Ernest J. Moniz.</p><p>Holdren said that "the world is getting most of the energy it requires from sources that are wrecking the environment it requires." But he added that "the energy challenge we face is actually a more difficult one than putting a man on the moon was." </p><p>Already, he said, carbon dioxide emissions and concentrations, temperatures and sea level "are all rising at rates at or above those of the IPCC's 'high' scenarios," based on the 2007 report of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change. "Disastrous results could occur sooner rather than later," he said.</p><p>While it is already too late to "stop climate change in its tracks," he said, measures to slow its progress and adapt to the now-unavoidable impacts are essential. "Some of these are win-win: things that would make sense to do even without climate change." These include improvements in energy efficiency in buildings and vehicles that would, over time, pay for themselves through the energy they would save.</p><p>To address these issues, the new energy bill contains provisions to promote energy efficiency in buildings, appliances, transportation and industry, Markey said. It will also provide funding for research in cutting-edge areas such as carbon capture and sequestration, low-carbon fuels, electric vehicles and electricity transmission.</p><p>Browner stressed that climate change issues are often framed as a false choice between economic interests and environmental ones, but said that in fact each depends on the other, and improvements in energy technology provide great economic opportunities. "A new energy future and reduced global warming are two sides of a coin," she said.</p><p>Browner said that while renewable energy now accounts for about 3 percent of U.S. electricity production, "we hope we can double that in the next three to four years." And the new energy bill would help to make that possible.</p><p>But such rapid growth in new technology presents a big challenge, Moniz said. To make a dent in climate change, "these technologies must go to very large scale very quickly," he said. That means it's essential to be working on a multiplicity of options, and it will also be essential to bring about "better integration of the entrepreneurial community with the existing energy companies. We need to get scale-up on a timescale much shorter than has tended to be the case."</p><p>Hockfield also said that "Congressman Markey's bill takes direct aim at climate change by pricing carbon, an approach that we anticipate will provide a sustained source of funding for the R&amp;D needed for new energy technologies… We will never make it to a carbon-free energy landscape as long as carbon is free."</p><p>At the colloquium, Markey was asked whether this pricing, which is based on a cap-and-trade program for greenhouse gas emissions, should include auctioning of all emission permits as a way of raising funds for energy initiatives, rather than issuing some of the permits without cost to existing greenhouse-gas emitters. He stressed that such a system would initially put critical U.S. industries, such as steel and paper manufacturing, at a disadvantage in relation to companies in China and other nations, unless such a plan were universally adopted.</p><p>While he aims to get the new energy bill through Congress before the summer recess this year, he said, the details can evolve over time. As for the cap-and-trade component, "the goal would be over time to move toward, at the end of the process, 100 percent" auction-based system, he said. However, "we have to begin somewhere."</p><p>Right away, he said, this legislation "will create jobs by the millions, save money by the billions, and unleash energy investment by the trillions."</p> <p /> <p> <em>A version of this article appeared in <a href="/newsoffice/techtalk-info.html">MIT Tech Talk</a> on <a href="/newsoffice/2009/techtalk53-22.pdf">April 15, 2009 (download PDF)</a>.</em> </p> President Susan Hockfield and Rep. Edward Markey of Massachusetts answer questions from press after an MIT clean energy policy forum on April 13.Photo / Donna CoveneyEnergy, Environment, National relations and service, Special events and guest speakers John Deutch to be honored Institute Professor feted for 40 years of service Mon, 13 Apr 2009 05:00:04 -0400 <p>On the occasion of his 70th birthday, Institute Professor John Deutch is being honored with a symposium this Thursday in 10-250, featuring talks by leading figures from academia and government who have worked with him through the years.</p><p>In addition to his 40 years as a member of MIT's faculty, initially in the Department of Chemistry (which he chaired), and then as dean of science and as provost, Deutch served several stints in government, most notably as the director of central intelligence during the Clinton administration. He also has held leading posts in the Department of Defense and the Department of Energy. He earned his SB and PhD in chemical engineering from MIT.</p><p>The symposium in his honor, running from 2 p.m. to 5:30 p.m., will include talks by academics and former government officials including Professor George Whitesides of Harvard, former Secretary of Defense and Secretary of Energy James R. Schlesinger, former Secretary of Defense Harold Brown, former National Security Advisor Brent Scowcroft, and former White House Chief of Staff John Podesta.</p><p>The event will be followed by a reception in the Bush Room, and is being sponsored by the Office of the Provost, the School of Science, the Department of Chemistry, and the MIT Energy Initiative.</p> <p /> <p> <em>A version of this article appeared in <a href="/newsoffice/techtalk-info.html">MIT Tech Talk</a> on <a href="/newsoffice/2009/techtalk53-22.pdf">April 15, 2009 (download PDF)</a>.</em> </p> John M. DeutchChemistry and chemical engineering, Energy, Faculty, National relations and service, Special events and guest speakers When will it end? MIT experts reconvene to examine economy six months later Fri, 27 Mar 2009 05:00:00 -0400 News Office Several MIT financial experts will discuss the current economic climate and how it has changed in the last six months during a talk titled "The U.S. Financial Crisis — Is There an End in Sight?"<br /><br />The talk, which builds on a similar event held in October, will run from 4-6 p.m. on Tuesday, March 31, in 10-250. Since the October event, the stock market has continued to plummet, the U.S. rate of home foreclosures has soared and unemployment has reached levels not seen in decades.<br /><br />Tuesday's event will include the same experts that discussed the crisis in October -- Ricardo Caballero, the Ford International Professor of Economics and the head of the Department of Economics; Bengt Holmstrom, the Paul A. Samuelson Professor of Economics; Andrew Lo, the Harris &amp; Harris Group Professor in the MIT Sloan School of Management; James Poterba, the Mitsui Professor of Economics; and William Wheaton, professor of economics and director of the Center for Real Estate.<br /><br />All members of the MIT community are welcome to attend the event.<br /><br /><br />A panel of MIT faculty experts convened in October to discuss current economic news. The same panal will reconvene Tuesday, March 31 to discuss the economic climate and how it has changed in the last sixth months. From left are William Wheaton, Andrew Lo, Ricardo Caballero, Bengt Holmstrom and James Poterba.Photo: Donna CoveneyBusiness and management, Economics, National relations and service, Special events and guest speakers Hockfield, Obama urge major push in clean energy research funding Mon, 23 Mar 2009 05:00:02 -0400 David L. Chandler, MIT News Office At a press briefing at the White House on Monday, MIT President Susan Hockfield joined U.S. President Barack Obama in calling for a "truly historic" new level of federal funding for clean energy research.<br /><br />The event came as Congress prepares to take up the president's budget, which calls for dedicating $150 billion over 10 years for a new clean energy R&amp;D and technology fund. This initiative represents "the largest and most important investment in science and technology" by the U.S. government since the Apollo moon-landing program in the 1960s, Hockfield said. <br /><br /> The federal investments made during the Apollo era "spawned a set of technologies that have transformed our lives and workplaces," she said. "The R&amp;D and technology investments that President Obama proposes have equally profound potential as an economic catalyst. That would be good news in any economy. But of course today, it provides a lifeline." <br /><br /> The value of such investments was underscored by a 1997 report from the President's Council of Advisors on Science and Technology, which was chaired by the new White House science advisor John Holdren, Hockfield said. That report showed that "every government dollar invested in energy R&amp;D returns 40-fold to the economy — in energy efficiency, energy savings and in new technologies — a 40-to-1 return on investment," she said. <br /><br /> The new clean energy technologies to be developed through this research and development funding "will power our long term prosperity," Obama said at the briefing. With this new funding proposal, along with $39 billion in clean energy research funding and $20 billion in tax incentives that were included in the economic stimulus package, Obama said, "we have achieved more in two months in support of a new clean-energy economy than we've achieved in perhaps 30 years." In addition, he said, the initiative will help the nation "end, once and for all, our dependence on foreign oil." <br /><br /> Also speaking at the White House briefing was Paul Holland, who is on the board of a new company called Serious Materials that has re-opened manufacturing plants shuttered by the housing downturn and is using them to produce what Obama described as "probably some of the most energy-efficient windows in the world." <br /><br /> <object id="cspan-video-player" classid="clsid:d27cdb6eae6d-11cf-96b8-444553540000" width="500" height="610" codebase=",0,0,0" align="middle"> <param name="allowScriptAccess" value="true" /> <param name="movie" value="" /> <param name="quality" value="high" /> <param name="bgcolor" value="#ffffff" /> <param name="allowFullScreen" value="true" /> <param name="flashvars" value="system=;style=full" /><embed type="application/x-shockwave-flash" width="500" height="610" src="" name="cspan-video-player" base="" allowscriptaccess="always" bgcolor="#ffffff" quality="high" allowfullscreen="true" pluginspage="" flashvars="system=;style=full" align="middle"></embed> </object> <br /><br />Hockfield said that the kinds of new breakthroughs likely to be spawned by this federal investment in R&amp;D are exemplified by a variety of projects already under way at MIT. These include innovations that could turn windows into efficient, cost-effective solar cells, new materials that make batteries long-lasting, safe and rapidly charging, "quantum dot" light bulbs that are 500 percent more efficient than incandescent bulbs, and methods for using benign viruses to make clear, non-toxic, lightweight batteries. <br /><br /> Hockfield said that in addition to the economic impact of these research funds, "these same investments also offer the only route to the breakthrough technologies required to address the daunting challenges of energy security, rapidly accelerating energy demand and climate change. And, as an added bonus, solving these challenges has captured the imaginations and ambitions of young people -- students at MIT and across the country, young scientists and engineers passionately committed to inventing a bright, clean energy future." <br /><br /> <em>A version of this article appeared in <a href="/newsoffice/techtalk-info.html">MIT Tech Talk</a> on <a href="/newsoffice/2009/techtalk53-20.pdf">April 1, 2009 (download PDF)</a>.</em> <br /><br />President Susan Hockfield speaks at White House briefing on energy and new technology spending.Photo / Brendan Smialowski / UPIEnergy, Environment, Administration, MIT presidency, National relations and service Understanding Our Blind Spots Leading economist Andrew W. Lo discusses the challenges and opportunities the current economic crisis presents Mon, 23 Mar 2009 05:00:01 -0400 <p>Economists and policy-makers alike are trying to assess why risk-management systems and regulatory constraints didn't kick in before the global economy became so weak. To most, this situation is a shock.</p><p>Economist Andrew Lo is less surprised. A professor at the MIT Sloan School of Management, Lo has studied the connections between financial decision-making, neuroscience and evolutionary psychology. His ideas about human behavior in financial markets have attracted the attention of policymakers in Washington who want not only to sort out the current crisis but also to head off future destructive events.</p><p>Testifying before the House Oversight Committee last November, Lo discussed how credit crises have been regular occurrences over the past 35 years. "Financial crises are an unfortunate but necessary consequence of modern capitalism," he explained. Financial losses, he added, are a byproduct of innovation, "but disruptions and dislocations are greatly magnified when risks have been incorrectly assessed and incorrectly assigned." </p><p>Lo believes that "behavioral blind spots" -- evolutionarily hardwired reactions to perceived risks and rewards -- are particularly dangerous during periods of economic extreme. That is, during both bubbles and crashes.</p><p>Lo recently shared his thoughts on the financial crisis.</p><p><strong>Q.</strong> What's the most important implication of the financial crisis? </p><p>A. For CEOs and other corporate leaders, the single most important implication is about the current state of corporate governance. Many corporations did a terrible job in assessing and managing their risk exposures, with some of the most-sophisticated companies reporting tens of billions of dollars in losses in a single quarter. How do you lose $40 billion in a quarter and then argue that you've properly assessed your risk exposures? I don't think it's credible to say it was just "bad luck." If troubled companies want to explain away 2008 as a "black swan," then someone should take responsibility for creating the oil slick that seems to have tarred the entire flock! The current crisis is a major wake-up call that we need to change corporate governance to be more risk-sensitive.</p><p><strong>Q.</strong> What allowed this crisis to happen? How could so many seemingly smart people be so blindsided? </p><p>A. The very fact that so many smart and experienced corporate leaders were all led astray suggests that the crisis can't be blamed on the mistakes of a few greedy CEOs -- in my view, there's something fundamentally wrong with current corporate governance structures and the language of corporate management. We just don't have the proper lexicon to have a meaningful discussion about the kinds of risks that typical corporations face today, and we need to create a few field of "risk accounting" to address this gap in GAAP [Generally Accepted Accounting Principles]. </p><p><strong>Q.</strong> Now that the financial landscape has been rearranged, are there things that corporate managers can do to capitalize on the current environment? </p><p>A. One of the things companies are surely going to have to deal with over the next year or two is greatly reduced liquidity in the capital markets. Borrowing costs are going to go up, and it's going to be much harder to finance new ventures, so companies will have to be much more creative about rebalancing their pension fund obligations and raising capital to fund operations. Managers should be prepared for some tough times. </p><p>At the same time, there's going to be tremendous interest on the part of, say, pension funds in finding new ventures. My guess is that starting this summer, pension funds will begin increasing their allocations to private equity, hedge funds and other alternative investments -- assets will be flowing back into risky ventures with a vengeance. The money that's currently in T-bills has got to go somewhere -- and anybody who has cash is going to be in a great position. Companies are going to have to find creative ways to tap into these nontraditional sources of financing. </p><p><strong>Q.</strong> What kinds of new market opportunities do you see emerging -- things that aren't typical? </p><p>A. Well, if you think about the kind of dislocation that's affected financial markets, you'll see that much of the current crisis stems from the fact that it's very difficult to get information about the value of certain mortgage portfolios because they're so heterogeneous. </p><p>What if there was a service like eBay Inc. that provided a price discovery mechanism for these mortgage pools? An eBay for mortgages or mortgage-backed securities -- something that's easy to use and that allows users to value these illiquid securities quickly -- could be an extraordinarily valuable service, particularly if it gains any kind of market share (like eBay). It would allow holders of mortgage-related instruments to post their securities online and allow investors to bid on them. It would show prices on a historical basis so bidders could see how a portfolio of mortgages from a particular region of the country traded four months ago. Like eBay, it would provide a wealth of information and, ultimately, liquidity -- that's the key. </p><p>This interview is adapted from "Opportunities Brought to You by Distress" by Bruce G. Posner and Michael S. Hopkins, which appeared in the March 23, 2009, edition of Business Insight, a joint publishing venture between the MIT Sloan Management Review and the Wall Street Journal. The article is also available at <a href=""></a>.</p> <p> <em>A version of this article appeared in <a href="/newsoffice/techtalk-info.html">MIT Tech Talk</a> on <a href="/newsoffice/2009/techtalk53-20.pdf">April 1, 2009 (download PDF)</a>.</em> </p> Andrew W. LoPhoto courtesy / Andrew W. LoBusiness and management, Economics, Faculty, National relations and service MIT-trained economists bring pragmatic approach to Obama administration Tue, 17 Mar 2009 05:00:01 -0400 Stephanie Schorow, MIT News Office American presidents have famously raided universities to build their policy teams. President John F. Kennedy sought foreign policy advisors from his alma mater, Harvard. President Ronald Reagan relied on economists steeped in the laissez-faire school of thought from the University of Chicago.<br /><br />President Barack Obama has tapped a number of MIT-trained economists to craft a response to the worst economic downturn in generations. These economists represent no particular ideology or canon. Instead, they reflect the eclectic, practical approach of the Institute's Department of Economics.<br /><br />James Poterba, the Mitsui Professor of Economics, former head of the MIT Department of Economics, and president of the National Bureau of Economic Research, says the MIT crew is part of a "dream team of economic advisors" in the Obama administration.<br /><br />"They are realists and pragmatists who are looking for what will work to address the particular problems we are facing," Poterba says. "I think these folks are very much problem solvers in the MIT tradition."<br /><br />"Of course," he adds, "on the economic front, they have lots of problems to solve."<br /><br /><strong>'Dream team'</strong><br /><br />MIT's Department of Economics has trained many leading central bankers. In addition to U.S. Federal Reserve Board Chairman Ben Bernanke PhD '79, the bankers with MIT ties include Mario Draghi PhD '77, governor of the Bank of Italy, Stanley Fischer PhD '69, an emeritus member of the MIT faculty and governor of the Bank of Israel, José de Gregorio PhD '90, governor of the Central Bank of Chile, and Athanasios Orphanides '85, PhD '90, governor of the Central Bank of Cyprus.<br /><br />In Washington, Lawrence H. Summers '75, former secretary of the Treasury and Harvard University president, leads President Obama's National Economics Council. Christina Romer PhD '85 heads the Council of Economic Advisors while Austan Goolsbee PhD '95, who served as Obama's senior economics advisor during the campaign, has been nominated to serve as a member of the Council of Economic Advisers and is chief economist of the President's Economic Recovery Advisory Board. Harvard economics professor Jeremy Stein PhD '86 is a special advisor to the secretary of the Treasury. Additionally, Xavier de Souza Briggs, associate professor of sociology and urban planning in the Department of Urban Studies and Planning, has joined the administration as associate director of the White House Office of Management and Budget.<br /><br />The MIT-trained economics appointees bring different skills and points of view, following no single "party line," says Robert Solow, Institute Professor emeritus. Their primary strength lies in their ability to deal with data without a lot of presupposition, he says.<br /><br />"They have all been very productive in research and every one has been concerned with economic problems that are closely related to policy issues," Solow says.<br /><br /><strong>Problem solvers</strong><br /><br />Romer, an economic historian and macroeconomist, has studied the causes of the Great Depression and the effect of U.S. monetary and tax policies on the recovery from that economic disaster. "Her research positions her very well to tackle the problem of designing an economic stimulus package for an economy that is sputtering," Poterba says.<br /><br />Summers' research spans both microeconomics and macroeconomics, which gives him a broad range that is especially helpful in handling the many issues that come before the NEC. More importantly, as Treasury secretary under the Clinton administration and as a World Bank economist, Summers has had a hands-on role in addressing world economic crises, such as the Mexican monetary crisis of 1984 and the Russian market crises of 1998, Poterba says. "He has a tremendous amount of experience at trying to fashion policy remedies for the kind of crises we're experiencing."<br /><br />Goolsbee is known for his research on how tax policy affects the behavior of high-income households -- a topic likely to be central to tax and budget discussions after the current economic downturn abates. Stein's academic research focuses on corporate finance and financial intermediation.<br /><br />While some observers have characterized the Obama economists' ideology as Keynesian (in reference to John Maynard Keynes, who championed greater government spending as a way to lift an economy out of recession), Solow says that is only because the economic field has been almost monolithically anti-Keynesian in recent decades. He prefers to characterize the group as "eclectic Keynesians."<br /><br />Certainly, most economists have some ideological tilt, Poterba says. "There are some people who would never, ever consider nationalizing a bank. There are others who are prepared to consider that," he says. "I don't think [the MIT-trained economists] are going to stand on ideological principle. If they think something is going to work, they're going to try it."<br /><br />Which is, he notes, no guarantee of success in the face of tough economic problems that have caught many economists by surprise. "This is not like baking a cake where if you just follow all the recipe directions, it is supposed to turn out perfectly," Poterba says. "We're not quite sure what works in this situation."<br /><br /> <em>A version of this article appeared in <a href="/newsoffice/techtalk-info.html">MIT Tech Talk</a> on <a href="/newsoffice/2009/techtalk53-19.pdf">March 18, 2009 (download PDF)</a>.</em>Ben BernankeEconomics, Alumni/ae, National relations and service, Social sciences 3 Questions: Kosta Tsipis on nuclear proliferation Tue, 03 Feb 2009 05:00:03 -0500 <p>"3 Questions" is a series from the MIT News Office that gives members of the community the opportunity to sound off on current events in their field of expertise. In this installment, Kosta Tsipis, former director of MIT's Program in Science and Technology for International Security, discusses the threats posed by nuclear proliferation. Tsipis is also a longtime member of the Pugwash Conferences on Science and World Affairs, a group that works to reduce the threats posed by nuclear weapons.</p><p><i>We want to hear your feedback and suggestions. Please contact the News Office at <a href="" mce_href=""></a>, and be sure to write "3 Questions" in the subject line.</i></p><p><b>Q.</b> How much should the new Obama administration focus on stopping nuclear proliferation? Should it be a top priority?</p><p>A. Nuclear Proliferation has two forms: 1.) The de novo acquisition of a nuclear arsenal by a Nuclear Proliferation Treaty signatory state like Iran. 2.) The acquisition of a nuclear explosive, or the needed fissile material to construct one, by a nonstate group such as a terrorist organization.</p><p>The Obama administration apparently considers nuclear proliferation a top priority. It appears to be involved in robust dialogue with Iran regarding the latter's nuclear intentions. Over the past year a group of U.S. nuclear nonproliferation experts, including William Perry, past U.S. Secretary of Defense and a member of the Obama campaign's national security working group, have held a series of meetings in the Hague and Vienna with Iranian officials, under the auspices of the Pugwash group (Pugwash, founded in 1957 by an international group of scientists close to their national governments, received the Nobel Prize for Peace in 1995 for its persistent efforts to limit the threat of nuclear war and the elimination of nuclear weapons). In such meetings, Pugwash scientists participate in their private capacity but then they inform their respective governments about the outcome of their deliberations.</p><p><b>Q.</b> How have the risks associated with nuclear proliferation evolved over the past two decades, as we have moved beyond the Cold War and into the post-9/11 era?</p><p>A. During the Cold War, the concern was the limitation of the unbridled proliferation of the number of nuclear weapons in the arsenals of the United States and the Soviet Union. By the late 1960s, the United States and the Soviet Union possessed several thousand nuclear weapons, some of them in hair-trigger readiness for their use. Vigorous nuclear arms control efforts and the resulting Limitation Treaties between the two nations stemmed the quantitative arms race and reduced the risk of a nuclear war. Now the dominant proliferation risk is the acquisition of nuclear explosives by parastate or nonstate entities such as a terrorist organization. So the goal is to deny them access either to ready nuclear explosives or to fissionable material, enriched uranium 235 or plutonium 239. Therefore the nonproliferation efforts of the Obama administration must focus on how to safeguard such items and how to disrupt the efforts of terrorists to acquire, transport and detonate a nuclear explosive in a populated area.</p><p><b>Q.</b> What can and should be done to minimize the risks of nuclear proliferation?</p><p>A. There is a wide-ranging number of mutually reinforcing antiproliferation measures that can be undertaken immediately:</p><p>1.) Secure existing nuclear explosives, and enriched uranium that can fuel nuclear explosives, against theft or clandestine purchase.<br />2.) Limit production of 5 percent enriched uranium as fuel for civilian nuclear reactors only in few centers globally, combined with formal unconditional guarantees of supply to nations with nuclear power plants, and so break the nexus between civilian nuclear power and the sub rosa proliferation of nuclear weapons to additional states.<br />3.) De-emphasize the utility of nuclear weapons in the defense planning of nuclear nations, especially in the cases of the United States, Russia, Israel, Pakistan and India.<br />4.) Strengthen the IAEA (International Atomic Energy Agency) verification of reprocessing facilities in nations with nuclear power plants, and of the routine operations of CANDU reactors.<br />5.) Reduce the number of deliverable nuclear weapons in the arsenals of nuclear nations and especially those of the United States and Russia, ultimately leading toward the complete elimination of such weapons.<br />6.) Adopt a complete "no first use" agreement among all nuclear states.<br />7.) Complete all such counter-proliferation agreements during the 2010 NPT Treaty Review by initiating intense negotiations during the summer 2009 preparatory conference.</p> <p> <i>A version of this article appeared in <a href="/newsoffice/techtalk-info.html" mce_href="/newsoffice/techtalk-info.html">MIT Tech Talk</a> on <a href="/newsoffice/2009/techtalk53-14.pdf" mce_href="/newsoffice/2009/techtalk53-14.pdf">February 4, 2009 (download PDF)</a>.</i> </p>Kosta TsipisPhoto courtesy / Kosta TsipisNuclear science and engineering, Security studies and military, Global, National relations and service, 3 Questions Surviving without growing Jay Forrester, the father of system dynamics, talks about sustainability and organizational decision making Fri, 30 Jan 2009 05:00:00 -0500 <p>Jay Forrester famously invented random-access magnetic core memory, or what we know as RAM. Forrester, now 90 and a professor emeritus of the MIT Sloan School of Management, also originated system dynamics, which deals with how a system's structure and information flow determine behavior. The field focuses on the way internal feedback-loop relationships cause systems to change over time. Understanding why a system behaves the way it does lets people redesign structures and policies to improve behavior. By the late 1960s, Forrester had expanded system dynamics modeling to address the problems of cities and then later world civilizations. Forester took the time to speak with us about the intersection of sustainability and management </p><p><strong>Q.</strong> Do you think the rising attention to sustainability is presenting opportunities for company builders? </p><p>A. The opportunities that grow out of what is now going on in the name of sustainability are not particularly noteworthy. </p><p><strong>Q.</strong> Which opportunities are you thinking of? </p><p>A. Well, there will be new businesses in wind power. There will be new businesses in trying to move away from fossil fuels. How fast those new businesses come along will depend on the course run by the present economic circumstances. The worst circumstances -- depressions like in the 1930s -- are the windows of opportunity for technological change and would be an ideal time to shift from oil to other things. It takes pressures to do that, and if the old technologies have gone as far as they can, then it's in the great economic downturns that the new things that have been talked about for a long time can begin to spring up. So it will be interesting to see whether 15 years from now we will recognize that the present economic crisis in fact was a motivator for moving forward in other areas. </p><p><strong>Q.</strong> What are some of the noteworthy opportunities? </p><p>A. I think they're the opportunities to begin to operate at the no-growth, no-population rise, no increase-in-industrialization areas -- but those are more noteworthy intellectually than in the ways I think you mean. They aren't probably the sort of thing that represents great economic return to the stock-holders, if you are meaning that kind of noteworthy. </p><p><strong>Q.</strong> That's an opportunity? Might not sound like one to some. </p><p>A. I think it is. But either way, it may be the way that businesses will be most affected. I think one of the biggest management problems is going to be to understand how to manage a successful non-growing company -- and how to get out of the frame of mind that success is measured only by growth. </p><p><strong>Q.</strong> Because we think growth is required if a company is to stay viable? </p><p>A. It's very common to say, "If you stagnate, if you don't grow, you will fail." Well, that's possible if you don't maintain a system with proper management policies. You've still got to have some way to maintain vitality, to maintain some product progress, but to do it within a fixed demand on the environment. I don't think I've heard of that being taught in management schools. </p><p><strong>Q.</strong> What keeps managers and leaders from addressing that challenge? </p><p>A. The nature of our culture -- the culture that has evolved for the last 100 or 150 years or more, the culture that says technology can solve all problems, the culture that says growth is good and can go on forever, the culture that says you don't get into things like population control because it's too treacherous a debating area. It's a feeling that somehow we can muddle through dealing with symptoms instead of with causes. </p><p><strong>Q.</strong> Will any of those convictions get questioned as the economy falters? Maybe managing a no-growth company viably will become attractive. </p><p>A. I think you're right that it's more likely those questions will be asked now than they were 20 years ago, but I think that survival in the present downturn is very different from sustainability in the long run. Survival in the long run requires a long-run set of [management and strategic practices]. You've got to train people for it. You have to have an internal structure that produces rotation, [flows of people and resources into and out of the organization], without too high an overhead. </p><p><strong>Q.</strong> So you don't think the new awareness of sustainability plus the changing economic pressures will offer companies a chance to make internal cultural changes? To operate in fresh ways without undermining their appeal to shareholders or their existence? </p><p>A. It's possible. But likely? We'd be hard pressed to separate sustainability from the present economic pressures, which are perhaps only beginning to be seen -- and which in the short run, like five to eight years, may dominate any worry about sustainability. Companies will be talking about survival, not sustainability. So sustainability in a corporation probably is an idea that will take root 15 years from now when the present discussions about sustainability mature, when the present discussions strip away the idea that we'll solve sustainability by treating symptoms. For now, the trauma of the present economic changes will probably dominate. </p><p>This article is adapted from "The Loop You Can't Get Out Of" by Michael S. Hopkins, which appeared in the Winter 2009 issue of MIT Sloan Management Review. The complete article is available at <a href=""></a>.</p> <p /> <p> <em>A version of this article appeared in <a href="/newsoffice/techtalk-info.html">MIT Tech Talk</a> on <a href="/newsoffice/2009/techtalk53-15.pdf">February 11, 2009 (download PDF)</a>.</em> </p> Jay ForresterPhoto / Melanie Stetson FreemanEconomics, Environment, National relations and service Robo-forklift keeps humans out of harm&#039;s way Could allow military to handle supplies without risk to people Wed, 21 Jan 2009 05:00:00 -0500 David Chandler, MIT News Office <p>Researchers in MIT's Computer Science and Artificial Intelligence Laboratory (CSAIL) are working on a better way to handle supplies in a war zone: a semi-autonomous forklift that can be directed by people safely away from the dangers of the site.</p><p>Currently, when supplies arrive at military outposts in war zones such as Iraq, people driving forklifts unload the pallets and put them into storage, and later load them onto trucks to take the material to where it's needed. These forklift operators must often scramble for cover, slowing the work and putting them at risk.</p><p>When completed, the new robotic device will provide a safer way to handle pallet-loaded supplies of everything from truck tires to water containers and construction materials, says Matt Walter, a CSAIL postdoctoral researcher with a lead role in the project. The device is designed to operate outdoors on uneven terrain such as gravel or packed earth.</p><p>In Iraq, it has not been uncommon for workers to "have to abandon the forklift three or four times a day because they come under fire," Walter says. "A lot of the work could be automated," thus alleviating people's exposure to danger, "but it's a very difficult task."</p><h5>HEAVY LIFTING IN HOSTILE TERRITORY</h5><p>The forklift is designed to operate autonomously with high-level direction from a human supervisor who could be physically nearby, or safely ensconced in a remote bunker. In an initial training phase, the forklift learns the basic layout of the storage depot facility, such as where the reception area ism where incoming supply trucks arrive with a load of pallets ready to be stored, and where the storage areas are for those pallets to be deposited. The forklift can then be commanded to transport pallets from one place to another within the depot.</p><p>Determining which pallets to pick up and where they need to go requires guidance from a human supervisor, at least for now. The supervisor's tablet computer, wirelessly linked to the forklift, displays the view from the forklift's forward-looking video camera. Using stylus gestures on the image, the supervisor indicates the truck to be unloaded, the pallet to be engaged next, and perhaps where on the pallet to insert the forklift tines. The supervisor also speaks to the tablet, indicating the desired destination of the target pallet. As the system gets more sophisticated, the supervisor would need to do less and less, eventually simply gesturing and saying "unload that truck," for example.</p><p>But to ensure that it can always carry out the necessary tasks, if there's ever a problem with the automated system the machine reverts to a conventional manned forklift whenever someone climbs into the operator's cabin.</p><h5>TESTS UNDER WAY</h5><p>Research began with a small test platform rigged with forklift tines and a variety of sensors and computers that was used for a series of indoor tests and is now continuing with a full-scale prototype being tested outdoors on the MIT campus. </p><p>The work is part of several projects at CSAIL focused on "the development of situational awareness for machines," explains Seth Teller, professor of computer science and engineering and project lead. Situational awareness, Teller says, involves the use of sensing, motion, inference and memory to acquire "a model of the spatial layout of the world and its contents, to allow us to plan and move purposefully in the world." Humans develop these internal maps of their surroundings without even thinking about it, but "machines can't yet do it automatically."</p><p>In developing the robotic system, the CSAIL researchers have made extensive use of computer code developed for other projects, including the autonomous vehicle MIT entered in the 2007 DARPA Grand Challenge auto race, in which unmanned cars navigated roads without human intervention, Teller says. That work has been reported in papers in the Journal of Field Robotics, and the forklift project itself is the subject of a paper being submitted for publication at an upcoming robotics conference. </p><p>Among the tasks the robot must carry out automatically is avoiding unexpected obstacles, especially people who may be walking around in the area. That turned out to be less of a challenge than expected: "It is possible to detect moving people using laser range scanners," Walter says. "Things get much harder if people are trying to trick the system by hiding or standing very still," Teller notes.</p><p>The forklift project has involved about 30 faculty, staff and students (including postdocs, PhD and MEng students, and UROPs) from MIT's CSAIL, LIDS, and Courses 2, 6 and 16, as well as from Lincoln Laboratory, Draper Laboratory and BAE Systems. It has been funded by the U.S. Army Logistics Innovation Agency.</p> <p /> <p> <em>A version of this article appeared in <a href="/newsoffice/techtalk-info.html">MIT Tech Talk</a> on <a href="/newsoffice/2009/techtalk53-13.pdf">January 14, 2009 (download PDF)</a>.</em> </p> Researchers at CSAIL are developing a remotely commandable, semi-autonomous robotic forklift designed to move cargo in dangerous places.Photo / Jason Dorfman (CSAIL/MIT)Computer science and technology, Artificial intelligence, Global, National relations and service The role of race Voting analysis shows Obama won because of his support among blacks. Tue, 20 Jan 2009 05:00:19 -0500 Stephanie Schorow, MIT News Office <script src="" type="text/javascript"></script> <script type="text/javascript">// <![CDATA[ mw.setConfig('EmbedPlayer.AttributionButton',false); mw.setConfig('EmbedPlayer.EnableOptionsMenu',false); // ]]></script> <object id="ttvplayer" width="560" height="345" name="ttvplayer" type="application/x-shockwave-flash" allowscriptaccess="always" allownetworking="all" allowfullscreen="true" data=""> <param name="allowScriptAccess" value="always" /> <param name="allowNetworking" value="all" /> <param name="allowFullScreen" value="true" /> <param name="bgcolor" value="#000000" /> <param name="movie" value="" /> <param name="flashVars" value="autoPlay=false&amp;streamerType=rtmp" /><a href="">MIT Tech TV</a> </object> <br /><br /> Some political observers have declared that the election of the first black president signals a new era of post-racial politics in the United States -- but the data show otherwise, two MIT researchers say.<br /><br />Through careful analysis of 2008 exit-poll data, the researchers found that Barack Obama won the election precisely because of his race, most significantly because of his appeal among black voters who turned out in record numbers.<br /><br />"Ironically, the candidate whom commentators lionized for ending America's debilitating racial divisions won the election on the basis of increasingly distinct white and nonwhite voting patterns," wrote the two researchers -- Charles H. Stewart III, the Kenan Sahin Distinguished Professor and head of the Department of Political Science at MIT; and Stephen Ansolabehere, professor of political science at MIT -- in the current issue of Boston Review. "Racial polarization in American voting patterns was the highest it has been since the 1984 election."<br /><br />Despite many predictions, Obama did not "provoke a backlash among white voters," according to research compiled by Stewart and Ansolabehere. However, the percentage of blacks voting Democratic rose from 88 percent in 2004 to 95 percent in 2008. Hispanic voters -- who had been drifting into the Republican camp in recent years -- heavily favored Obama; Hispanics voting Democratic rose from 56 percent to 67 percent. "This additional support among nonwhites proved decisive," Stewart and Ansolabehere concluded.<br /><br />Indeed, "had blacks and Hispanics voted Democratic in 2008 at the rates they had in 2004, McCain would have won," they wrote.<br /><br />This is not to say that Democrats lost ground among white voters; the Democrats did gain white votes but only a modest 3 million. "John McCain, on the other hand, received 2.3 million fewer votes than did George W. Bush in 2004. Most of this loss, 1.5 million votes, came from the net defection of blacks and Hispanics who voted Republican four years earlier; by comparison he lost 'only' 1.4 million white voters. Thus, Obama gained not only by bringing new minority voters into the electorate, but also by converting minority voters who had previously been in the GOP stable," the researchers wrote.<br /><br />The "youth" vote has been touted as a deciding factor in Obama's favor and while those under 30 voted overwhelmingly Democratic, youth turnout was only 18 percent of the total -- nowhere near the highs of 1972 and 1992. Thus, it had virtually no impact on Obama's victory, Stewart said in an interview.<br /><br />Of greater significance were voting patterns of the "older young," those aged 25 to 30, Stewart said. This group was strongly for Obama and is likely to remain Democratic eight years from now even as they gain in social and economic power. Like the generation of Reagan Republicans before them, Obama Democrats could impact elections for decades, Stewart said.<br /><br />The shift in Hispanic voting patterns is also significant. Hewing to anti-immigration positions, Republicans largely turned off Hispanic voters, Stewart said. Not only does that make it unlikely that these voters will "turn back" to Republicans, but the Hispanic population is growing -- a boon to Democrats although Hispanics are not as "monolithically Democratic as African-American voters," Stewart said.<br /><br />Stewart noted that current research is preliminary; as more exit-polling data is released, MIT researchers will be able to get a better idea of why populations voted in certain patterns and the possible effect of other factors, such as vice-presidential picks.<br /><br />While some may fairly argue "that the fact that whites did not run away from Obama is evidence of post-racial politics," post-election commentators went overboard in suggesting "race doesn't matter in American politics," Stewart said.<br /><br />Given white voting patterns, Republicans may even be tempted to return to racial politics to drive a wedge between white votes and the Democratic party, Stewart noted. He doubts that will happen.<br /><br />"Watching how whites respond to Obama will be very critical to both Obama's future prospects and the nature of future campaigns," he said. "I don't think we're out of the woods yet in respect to seeing things like Willie Horton ads."<br /><br /> <i>A version of this article appeared in <a href="/newsoffice/techtalk-info.html">MIT Tech Talk</a> on <a href="/newsoffice/2009/techtalk53-14.pdf">February 4, 2009 (download PDF)</a>.</i> <br /><br />Political science, Voting and elections, National relations and service DUSP&#039;s Briggs joins Obama administration Tue, 20 Jan 2009 05:00:12 -0500 <p>Xavier de Souza Briggs, associate professor of sociology and urban planning in the Department of Urban Studies and Planning, has been named associate director of the White House Office of Management and Budget and will be on a two-year professional leave effective Inauguration Day.</p><p>In his new position, Briggs will oversee six cabinet agencies -- the departments of housing and urban development, treasury, transportation, justice, commerce and homeland security. The role encompasses many of the issues that are central to the concerns of MIT's Department of Urban Studies and Planning: economic recovery and opportunity, environmental sustainability, affordable housing, civil rights, equitable and effective response to natural disasters and other civil emergencies, and more. </p><p>This is Briggs' second call to Washington. From 1998 to 1999, he was a senior policy official in the Clinton Administration, as acting assistant secretary for policy development and research in the Department of Housing and Urban Development. He has been an adviser to The World Bank, The Rockefeller Foundation and other major groups and has also worked closer to the streets as a community planner in the South Bronx, Chicago and other cities.</p><p>Briggs has a national reputation for his work on social capital and the "geography of opportunity" -- a policy and research field concerned with the consequences of segregation by race and income and with efforts to respond, such as through "housing mobility" programs that help families exit high-poverty, high-risk neighborhoods in search of better places to raise their children. </p><p>His research and planning work on youth opportunity, civil rights and social capital have received awards and fellowships from the National Science Foundation, American Planning Association and the Association for Public Policy Analysis and Management. </p><p>His recent book, The Geography of Opportunity: Race and Housing Choice in Metropolitan America (Brookings Institution Press, 2005) was awarded the 2007 Paul Davidoff Award from the Association of Collegiate Schools of Planning; the award recognizes the best book in planning on a social justice theme. (In 2005, the Davidoff Award went to department head Larry Vale's book, Reclaiming Public Housing.)</p><p>Raised in the Caribbean and Miami, Briggs received a BS from Stanford University's School of Engineering, an MPA from Harvard's Kennedy School of Government and a PhD in Sociology and Education from Columbia University. Before coming to MIT, initially as the Martin Luther King, Jr. Visiting Fellow and in 2005 as a faculty member, he taught on the public policy faculty at Harvard. A decade ago, he and Barack Obama were members of a Harvard-convened workgroup, the Saguaro Seminar on Civic Engagement in America. He has served as a member of the president-elect's transition team.</p><p>Briggs has pledged to report back and re-appear on campus -- physically or virtually -- as often as the job allows. He will also send information about opportunities for students and alumni to work, study or in other ways help out at OMB or elsewhere in federal service.</p> <p /> <p> <em>A version of this article appeared in <a href="/newsoffice/techtalk-info.html">MIT Tech Talk</a> on <a href="/newsoffice/2009/techtalk53-14.pdf">February 4, 2009 (download PDF)</a>.</em> </p> Xavier de Souza BriggsUrban studies and planning, National relations and service CIS scholars offer advice, new ideas to Obama Wed, 14 Jan 2009 05:00:01 -0500 Stephanie Schorow, MIT News Office <p>In response to the immense global challenges facing President-elect Barack Obama, scholars affiliated with MIT's Center for International Studies (CIS) have produced a document of succinctly stated fresh ideas and suggestions for the new president's consideration. </p><p>The 23 essays contained in "Advice to President Obama" cover topics such as security strategy, the financial crises and human rights. </p><p>"While we know there are many efforts among scholars to offer advice to Obama, we wanted to offer some very specific ideas in a short form," said John Tirman, CIS executive director and principal research scientist. "We left it to our experts to decide what they wanted to offer, and the result is gratifying -- a kaleidoscope of concrete ideas, ranging from Asian security to aid to the Mideast to peace building."</p><p>Tirman, for example, suggests that the world can "frustrate terrorists" by disrupting slowly forming networks of disaffected youth, rather than by relying on large-scale military attacks, which inspire more terrorism. Richard J. Samuels, CIS director and Ford International Professor of Political Science, contends that the United States must shore up and transform its alliance with Japan; only then can the two countries stabilize power in northeast Asia and counter perceptions about U.S. decline in the wake of China's ascendancy.</p><p>Barry Posen, Ford International Professor of Political Science and director of CIS's Security Studies Program, outlines a plan for having a European, rather than an American, fill the role of NATO's Supreme Allied Commander Europe. This would increase the European stake in NATO actions and signal that the United States is no longer willing to shoulder alone most of NATO's costs, he believes.</p><p>James J. Walsh, research associate in CIS's Security Studies Program, suggests the president consider appointing a special envoy to Iran, while Fotini Christia, assistant professor of political science, argues that the new administration should be willing to negotiate with various Taliban groups in Afghanistan. William J. Fallon, the Robert Wilhelm Fellow and former commander of the U.S. Central Command and U.S. Pacific Command, slams "consumer-oriented behavior," saying the country needs a better-educated population redirected from self-interest to the common good.</p><p>"These policy ideas are brief enough so they're easily digestible. They stand in the great MIT tradition of utilizing knowledge to solve problems, and we hope some will be taken up as such," Tirman said.</p><p>"Advice to President Obama" is available at <a href=""></a>.</p>Political science, National relations and service Zuber urges Congress to fund science research and education Wed, 07 Jan 2009 05:00:02 -0500 David Chandler, MIT News Office <p>Funding for research and education in science and technology should be a major priority in the economic recovery package Congress will soon be talking up, said MIT geophysics professor Maria T. Zuber in testimony she gave on Jan. 7 before the Steering and Policy Committee of the U.S. House of Representatives.</p><p>"Energy and climate could be our Sputnik challenge -- a new way to infuse our best talent into our science and technology system," said Zuber, who is the head of MIT's Earth, Atmospheric and Planetary Sciences department. The launching of Sputnik by the Soviet Union in 1957 spurred major U.S. investment in education in science, math and technology and led to a boom in those areas.</p><p>Zuber emphasized that while direct economic stimulus plans could lead to short-term economic benefits, it takes education and technological innovation to create lasting, long-term economic growth and job creation.</p><p>"We need to bolster existing high-growth innovation areas, and we will need to create new areas," she said. "One path ahead is clear: the country is on the cusp of a revolution in energy science and technology." With the energy sector already at $2 trillion in the U.S. economy, "we don't have to invent a new market, we have to find new ways to grow and dominate an existing but nascent market." Such investments will not only create jobs, it will also have positive effects on the environment, and on the nation's technological leadership in the world, she said.</p><p>Toward that end, she suggested, the Department of Energy could fund many more of the 270 applications it already received for the creation of Energy Frontier Research Centers, many of which were very highly rated but were not accepted because of limited funding. In addition, major upgrades to the nation's electric grid are needed in order to enable greater efficiency and wider use of renewable energy.</p><p>Citing a recent DoE report, Zuber said that "we must develop the breakthrough energy technologies that will free us of our dependence on foreign oil, reduce our carbon emissions and create economic growth, but that will only happen with immediate, real investments."</p><p>But energy cannot be the whole story, Zuber said. It's also essential to increase the funding for research in a wide variety of areas, including health, aerospace, and basic science. Toward that end, supporting the purchase of major research instrumentation for colleges and universities could produce a stimulus for research while helping to train the scientists and engineers of the future. In addition, support for students in the form of fellowships to sustain important research will help to prepare a new generation of technicians and scientists.</p><p>Direct investment in education by supporting the best teachers is another key area needed to bring about long-term growth in the nation's technology base, Zuber said. "Investment in highly qualified teachers who inspire, encourage and challenge students" is crucial, she said. </p><p>Zuber, who is the E.A. Griswold Professor of Geophysics, was invited to testify by House Speaker Nancy Pelosi. Also on the panel were economists Mark M. Zandi and Martin Feldstein, former Secretary of Labor Robert Reich, and former Lockheed Martin Chairman and CEO Norman R. Augustine.</p> <p /> <p> <em>A version of this article appeared in <a href="/newsoffice/techtalk-info.html">MIT Tech Talk</a> on <a href="/newsoffice/2009/techtalk53-13.pdf">January 14, 2009 (download PDF)</a>.</em> </p> MIT's Maria Zuber testifies before Congress, 1/7/2009.Economics, Faculty, National relations and service Lander named to Obama&#039;s science team Broad director appointed as PCAST co-chairman Mon, 22 Dec 2008 05:00:02 -0500 Patrick Gillooly, News Office <p>President-elect Barack Obama on Friday named Eric Lander, the founding director of the Broad Institute, a co-chair of the President's Council of Advisors on Science and Technology (PCAST), a group that assists the president in making science and technology policy decisions.</p><p>Lander, widely renowned as one of the principal leaders of the <a href="">Human Genome Project</a>, is also a professor of biology at MIT and a member of the Whitehead Institute for Biomedical Research. His position on the PCAST is part-time, and he will continue as Broad director while serving with the group. </p><p>"[The appointment] is an honor, of course, but it's more the responsibility to serve right now," Lander said. "I can't think of a time when the problems and challenges facing the country -- environment and energy, health care, education -- had more to do with science and technology than they do today."</p><p>In announcing his science policy advisors, Obama described Lander's work on the <a href="">Human Genome Project</a> as "one of the greatest scientific achievements in history."</p><p>"I know [Lander] will be a powerful voice in my administration as we seek to find the causes and cures of our most devastating diseases," Obama said in his radio address.</p><p>Lander added, "It is exciting to have an administration that deeply understands the importance of science and scientific thinking."</p><p>In the last decade and a half, Lander and his colleagues have developed tools and generated key information resources of modern mammalian genomics. They have also applied these tools and data to pioneer new ways to understand the basis of disease.</p><p>Lander has won numerous awards for his work, including the MacArthur Foundation Prize Fellowship, the Woodrow Wilson Prize for Public Service from Princeton University, the City of Medicine Award, the Gairdner Foundation International Award of Canada, and the AAAS Award for Public Understanding of Science and Technology. He was elected a member of the U.S. National Academy of Sciences in 1997 and the U.S. Institute of Medicine in 1999.</p><p>He received his BA in mathematics from Princeton University in 1978 and PhD in mathematics from Oxford University in 1981 as a Rhodes scholar.</p> <p /> <p> <em>A version of this article appeared in <a href="/newsoffice/techtalk-info.html">MIT Tech Talk</a> on <a href="/newsoffice/2008/techtalk53-13.pdf">January 14, 2009 (download PDF)</a>.</em> </p>Eric LanderPhoto / Rick FriedmanAdministration, Faculty, National relations and service 3 Questions: James Poterba on the recession Mon, 15 Dec 2008 05:00:01 -0500 <p>"3 Questions" is a new series from the MIT News Office that gives members of the community the opportunity to sound off on current events in their field of expertise. In this installment, James Poterba, the Mistui Professor of Economics, discusses the current economic recession and how long it might last. In addition to service as an MIT faculty member, Poterba is president and CEO of the <a href="" mce_href="">National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER)</a>, a private group of leading economists that dates the start and the end of economic downturns.</p><p><i>We want to hear your feedback and suggestions. Please contact the News Office at <a href="" mce_href=""></a>, and be sure to write "3 Questions" in the subject line.</i></p><p><b>Q.</b> NBER, the group you direct, announced earlier this month that the U.S. economy began contracting a year ago, in December 2007. That means it's already the third-longest recession since World War II, following two 16-month recessions in the 1970s and 1980s. Given that many of the leading economic indicators signal more weakness ahead, just how bad is this going to get?</p><p>A. Many signals suggest that the current recession is likely to be the longest and the most severe in at least several decades. The NBER Business Cycle Dating Committee, which consists of seven economists who monitor economic indicators on an ongoing basis, identified the turning point as December 2007 - before the array of financial market shocks that have buffeted the U.S. and the world economy in 2008. The economy was in a period of declining economic activity when these shocks hit, and these shocks are virtually certain to prolong and deepen the period of economic weakness. The NBER does not make forecasts, but a number of private sector firms that do suggest that the U.S. unemployment rate, which was 6.7 percent in November, could rise to 9 percent in 2009. If those forecasts are realized, this would be the deepest recession since 1982-3, when the U.S. unemployment rate averaged more than 9.5 percent. The recession of the early 1980s was the deepest on in U.S. postwar history, and it was associated in part with the efforts by the Federal Reserve Board under Paul Volcker to wring inflationary pressures out of the U.S. economy.</p><p>Although a deep recession is a serious possibility, it is important to remember that government stimulus, implemented either through monetary policy or through fiscal policy, can have an important counter-balancing effect. The trajectory of economic activity during 2009 and 2010 is likely to depend in substantial part on the course of economic policy.</p><p><b>Q.</b> Many Democrats have seized on NBER's announcement as more evidence of the need for Congress to approve a massive stimulus package - a new New Deal, of sorts. Yet presumably the U.S. would have to finance such spending with an equally massive expansion of debt. At what point do foreigners - who have dutifully loaned America trillions of dollars in recent years so that we could finance our consumption habits when times were good - say "enough's enough"? If they balk at lending us more, what then?</p><p>A. The short-run fiscal stimulus that began this year with the TARP program to rescue financial institutions, and that seems very likely to expand under the new administration in 2009, could push the measured federal budget deficit to close to one trillion dollars - about 6 percent of our GDP. While that is a dramatic change from recent years, when the federal deficit was less than $200 billion, it is not uncharted territory. The U.S. experienced similar-sized deficits for several years in the mid-1980s, and we begin this period with a lower ratio of government debt to GDP than many other large developed countries. The fact that the current financial crisis is global in nature has also led to a "flight to quality" in financial markets, and U.S. Treasury securities are viewed as the safest securities in the world. Thus at least for the moment, there does not seem to be much risk that foreign lenders will precipitously reduce their demand for U.S. government debt.</p><p>The auction of Treasury four-week notes on Dec. 9 provides some indication of the market's appetite for U.S. government securities. The Treasury securities sold at a zero interest rate - investors were prepared to lend to the federal government for four weeks in return only for a promise that they would get back their principal when the loan was due. Yields on long-term Treasury bonds are also currently low, even though market participants foresee substantial borrowing in the next few years.</p><p>One caution should be kept in mind when evaluating reports about the federal deficit, particularly the deficit connected with the TARP program to assist financial institutions. The federal government is making loans and providing subsidies to an array of firms, but it is in return collecting equity stakes or other securities issued by these firms. These claims have value, although it is difficult to judge that value today. The net cost to the federal government of rescuing financial institutions is likely to be substantially smaller than the gross cost of the loans, because the claims that the federal government now has on these firms may be sold at some future date. In some historical cases when the federal government stepped in to help troubled firms, and received an equity stake in return, the rescue operation netted a profit for the U.S. Treasury.</p><p><b>Q.</b> What, if any, early signs should we be watching for to indicate that the worst has passed and the economy is rebounding?</p><p>A. I would look at the housing market. The financial crisis began with weakness in the housing market and a corresponding drop in the value of mortgages held by banks and many other financial institutions. The U.S. has been through a period of excessive leverage in which borrowing supported a wide range of investments, ranging from homes to exotic financial securities to consumer durables, and we are now witnessing a "deleveraging" in many markets. Because housing markets are very visible and construction employment is a major, but volatile, component of the aggregate employment, falling levels of housing inventory and stabilizing house prices may be "canaries in the coal mine" for stronger economic times.<br /></p> <p><br /></p><p> <i>A version of this article appeared in <a href="/newsoffice/techtalk-info.html" mce_href="/newsoffice/techtalk-info.html">MIT Tech Talk</a> on <a href="/newsoffice/2008/techtalk53-12.pdf" mce_href="/newsoffice/2008/techtalk53-12.pdf">December 17, 2008 (download PDF)</a>.</i> </p>James PoterbaEconomics, National relations and service, 3 Questions Letter to the community on Institute budget process Thu, 11 Dec 2008 05:00:02 -0500 <h5>To the Members of the MIT community:</h5><p>We are writing to update you on the Institute's planning process in response to the contracting economy and to the strains we anticipate it will place on our traditional revenue sources. </p><p>As outlined in last month's community letter, in anticipation of a decline in our revenues, we plan to reduce General Institute Budget (GIB) expenses by $100-150 million (i.e., 10-15% of the GIB) over the next two to three years. During the past two weeks we have met with the Academic Council and the Academic Department Heads to discuss inclusive collaborative ways to achieve our budget reduction targets. In addition, Chancellor Phil Clay and Vice Chancellor Steve Lerman have met with student leaders to brief them on the situation and solicit their input. These conversations have helped shape a process that includes both near-term and long-term plans.</p><h5>Near-term </h5><p>We have asked the leaders of academic and administrative units to plan for fiscal year 2010 (FY'10) budget reductions totaling $50 million (i.e., 5% of the GIB). We have provided each unit with a target budget and will work with them to achieve the required reductions by July 1, 2009. The goal of this near-term process is to explore ways of optimizing the operations within each academic and administrative unit. </p><h5>Long-term</h5><p>To meet the long-term target, future years will require additional budget reductions. This financial challenge gives us the rare opportunity to assess how we carry out MIT's mission and to consider ways to make improvements while reducing expenses. For this purpose we will launch an Institute-wide Planning Task Force that will bring together faculty, staff and students to address these goals in an integrated manner. </p><p>The Task Force will draw upon the academic planning exercise led by the Deans during the last year. Their work revealed many opportunities for collaborative activities among departments, schools and other units. The Task Force is charged to explore these opportunities and identify new ways to increase the efficiency and effectiveness of our operations. We (the provost, the chancellor, and the executive vice president and treasurer) will lead the Task Force, and a coordinating team will oversee planning groups focused on academic, administrative and student life areas. </p> <p><img src="letter-graph.jpg" alt="MIT Budget Graph" width="404" height="178" /></p> <p>The Task Force will also explore revenue enhancement opportunities. Given the broad range of topics under review, the Task Force will seek input from our whole community. Task Force members will be announced shortly, and will commence their work this January. The Task Force will focus on recommendations for implementation in FY'11 and FY'12, as well as identify those that could be phased-in in FY'10. The goal of this long-term process is to recommend ways to optimize the operations of the whole Institute.</p><h5>Communication</h5><p>We will provide the community with periodic reports from the Task Force and updates from senior Institute officers. We plan to convene the Institute's faculty, administrative and student leaders early in the spring term to discuss innovative ideas for the complex task at hand. We will also reach out to the community by reporting periodically at meetings of the faculty, the Administrative Council, the Administrative/Financial Officer group, UA/GSC and other groups. </p><p>To foster an inclusive process, we have created a website (<a href=""></a>) that will serve as a resource in the months ahead. In addition to providing up-to-date information about the Task Force, the site will include all announcements, reports and news related to MIT's budget planning. You may also use the website to submit comments directly to the Task Force. As soon as the Task Force members are announced, we will launch new features on the website to encourage dialogue, share ideas and leverage technology's ability to bring communities together.</p><p>We have complete confidence that this opportunity to rethink how we perform our mission will stimulate the innovation and creativity that will result in a much stronger MIT. </p><p>Sincerely,</p><p>L. Rafael Reif, Provost</p><p>Phillip L. Clay, Chancellor</p><p>Terry Stone, Executive Vice President &amp; Treasurer</p>Economics, Administration, Campus services, Faculty, National relations and service, Staff, Students Ortiz named National Security Science and Engineering Fellow Wed, 26 Nov 2008 05:00:00 -0500 Patrick Gillooly, News Office <p>Christine Ortiz, an associate professor in the Department of Materials Science and Engineering, was recently named a 2009 National Security Science and Engineering Fellow (NSSEFF) by the <a href="">Department of Defense</a> for her research project titled "Natural Armor: An Untapped Encyclopedia of Engineering Design for Protective Defense Applications."<br /> <br />NSSEFF provides grants to distinguished, top-tier faculty and scientists from U.S. universities to conduct long-term, unclassified, basic research addressing some of the most challenging technical issues underpinning the DoD. The award includes a $600,000 grant, in direct funds, each year for five years. NSSEFF fellows will be engaged with senior DoD officials, as well as scientists and engineers in DoD laboratories in order to share their expertise and explore potential collaborations in DoD-relevant topical areas.<br /> <br />Ortiz was also selected to the 2008-2009 Defense Science Study Group (DSSG), run through the Institute of Defense Analysis and sponsored by the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency. The DSSG introduces outstanding young professors of science and engineering to national security challenges. During the two-year program (~ 22 days per year), DSSG members visit military bases, DoD laboratories, industrial facilities, government organizations, intelligence agencies and Congress.</p>Department of Materials Science Associate Professor Christine Ortiz in the cockpit of an Air Force KC-135 Jet during landing on a Defense Science Study Group trip.Photo courtesy / Christine OrtizMaterials science, Awards, honors and fellowships, National relations and service Obama&#039;s economics team has strong MIT ties Mon, 24 Nov 2008 05:00:00 -0500 <p>When it comes to shaping the U.S. economy, Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke PhD '79 is about to get some company from fellow MIT alumni.</p><p>The economics team unveiled Monday by President-elect Barack Obama has strong ties to MIT's Department of Economics.</p><p>Lawrence H. Summers, Obama's pick to lead the National Economic Council, graduated from MIT with an SB in economics in 1975. Christina Romer, whom Obama named to lead the Council of Economic Advisers, received her PhD in economics from MIT in 1985, and is also a parent of a 2008 graduate and a current freshman.</p><p>Another MIT alumnus, Austan Goolsbee PhD '95, served as Obama's senior economics advisor during the recent presidential campaign.</p>Economics, Alumni/ae, National relations and service 3 Questions: Michael Cusumano on letting U.S. automakers fail Fri, 21 Nov 2008 05:00:00 -0500 <p><i>"3 Questions" is a new series from the MIT News Office that gives members of the community the opportunity to sound off on current events in their field of expertise. In this, the first installment, Michael Cusumano, the Sloan Management Review Professor in Management in the MIT Sloan School of Management, discusses why U.S. automakers should be allowed to fail and what it will take for them to become viable again.</i></p><p><i>We want to hear your feedback and suggestions. Please contact the News Office at <a href="" mce_href=""></a>, and be sure to write "3 Questions" in the subject line.</i></p><p><b>Q.</b> Do you think that U.S. automakers should be allowed to fail?</p><p>A. Yes, I think they should file for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection under the U.S. courts and reorganize. The reason is that the decline in competitiveness of General Motors, Ford and Chrysler is a long-term problem, going back to the 1970s and 1980s, beginning with lagging physical productivity in assembling automobiles compared to the leading Japanese companies, and then in quality and also in engineering productivity for product development. I myself have done research documenting this gap (Michael A. Cusumano, The Japanese Automobile Industry, Harvard, 1985) and was involved for many years in other research undertaken by researchers affiliated with the <a href="" mce_href="">International Motor Vehicle Program (IMVP)</a>, based at MIT and Wharton but with a research network all over the world. IMVP produced the bestseller book by James Womack, Daniel Roos and Daniel Jones, "The Machine that Changed the World" (Lawson, 1991), which documents the state of the world auto industry circa 1990 and the mounting problems of the U.S. automakers. But things have gone from bad to worse.<br />Â&nbsp;<br />It is true that the U.S. automakers have improved their manufacturing productivity and quality and their product designs, but they did severe damage to their reputations in the market place during the 1970s, 1980s and 1990s by selling badly designed and manufactured products. In addition, these companies, led by GM, agreed to incredibly generous wage and benefits packages for employees and their families and retirees, despite the relative weaknesses in their competitiveness. They were always flirting with losses and so they let themselves become extremely vulnerable to the threat of strikes by the United Auto Workers union. Today, their overall costs as well as product portfolios render them noncompetitive in international competition. We can argue that Japan and European nations that have national health care systems provide an unfair advantage, and I think this is a real problem, not only for the automakers but for other companies as well. In any case, the U.S. labor contracts in the auto industry are no longer viable, and were unrealistically generous to begin with. I believe it would take a bankruptcy proceeding to restructure these agreements, like the airline industry has done.<br />Â&nbsp;<br /><b>Q.</b> What do you think it will take to help U.S. automakers become viable again?</p><p>A. The current management of the U.S. automakers as well as the union leaders have only themselves to blame for putting GM, Ford and Chrysler in such a precarious financial predicament. We have told them for the past 20 years what was best practice in the industry and how to improve their operations, and both labor and management have been too slow to adjust. Currently, the U.S. automakers probably have about 50 percent more production capacity than they can use, because demand for their products is so low. They are only profitable in a booming market and when they can sell larger vehicles (trucks and SUVs) with large profit margins per unit. But the market reality has changed drastically and it is time to change the management of these companies as well as their labor costs and benefits structure.<br />Â&nbsp;<br />I do believe that millions of Americans under the age of 60 or so are unlikely to buy an American-made car until there is overwhelming evidence that these products meet world-class standards of reliability and performance. But the prices should be right if they can get their costs down. In general, customers do respond to new products if they are truly excellent and priced right. Assuming the U.S. automakers can deliver on the design side, then, as I said before, the companies will be okay if they can restructure their costs. But also they need to change the senior management teams and bring in people who anticipate the future rather than just try to change incrementally and react in a panic when things go bad.<br />Â&nbsp;<br />I also believe the U.S. government will have to help in the bankruptcy. Companies will still need financing during the reorganization period, and that will be hard to get from commercial lenders or investors. But money is one thing the U.S. treasury can provide. Also, there is considerable concern that customers will not buy vehicles from a bankrupt company because they worry about who will guarantee the warrantees or build spare parts. The airlines did not face this problem because tickets are consumed immediately when you use them. But, rather than just give money to the U.S. automakers to keep them operating, the U.S. government can provide bankruptcy financing as well as create a program to guarantee the warrantees and continued support of their products. This is a better way to spend money on the automakers. Just giving them billions of dollars now postpones the inevitable. We can't rely on the managers in these companies to change the way they think and manage. It is best to force the companies to reorganize, change the management teams and labor leaders, and do it fast.<br />Â&nbsp;<br />My biggest worry is that the U.S. automakers have a major problem attracting talent. This will be very difficult to overcome. For the past 20 years, our best students at MIT, from both the engineering school and the management school, have not been joining GM, Ford or Chrysler. They have been joining companies such as Intel, Cisco, Microsoft, Hewlett Packard, Amazon, Google, etc. This is not necessarily the case in Japan or Europe, where companies such as Toyota, Honda, Nissan, BMW, Daimler-Benz (Mercedes), Volkswagon-Audi, and Renault are still seen as good or even exciting places to work. This also is not the case in Korea, China or India, which have pretty vibrant automobile industries now. I wouldn't be surprised if, within two to three years we see Chinese or Indian cars in the U.S. selling for just a few thousand dollars. All the more reason why the U.S. companies need to fix themselves and do it fast.<br />Â&nbsp;<br /><b>Q.</b> What are the long-term economic repercussions over a potential bailout or a potential failure?</p><p>A. With bankruptcies involving companies as large as GM, Ford and Chrysler, of course there will be major economic disruptions, in many industries. Not only will many auto workers be laid off directly at these companies, but automobiles use a lot of steel, plastics, electronics, electrical good, rubber, glass, fabrics and other materials and components provided by thousands of other companies. Some of these jobs will remain at the U.S. automakers and their suppliers if the companies continue to operate in bankruptcy, which I assume they would. The foreign-owned automakers in North America (Toyota, Honda, Nissan, Hyundai, BMW) can also take up some of the slack and may rehire some of these workers and expand their own capacity. Families of retirees and laid off workers will be hurt the most as they lose their benefits. But here is where government can again play a role such as by providing unemployment insurance, retraining funds, and passing health care programs, either at the state level or the national level (Massachusetts, for example, has a new health plan at the state level).<br />Â&nbsp;<br />In my view, the economic consequences will be worse in the long run for this country if we don't fix the problems of the U.S. automakers and make sure they are competitive for the future. The auto industry actually has a bright future because we will all be replacing our current vehicles someday and there are lots of exciting new developments in hybrids, all-electric vehicles, and hydrogen fuel cells. It is good to have a domestic automobile industry, but it is better to have a strong domestic automobile industry that is forward-looking and profitable both in good times and bad times.</p>Michael CusumanoEconomics, Cambridge, Boston and region, National relations and service, 3 Questions MIT Sloan students are finalists in X-Prize video contest Online votes will determine winner in ideas for new &#039;green&#039; prize Thu, 20 Nov 2008 05:00:00 -0500 David Chandler, MIT News Office <p>A video clip made by three graduate students in MIT's Leaders for Manufacturing Program is one of three finalists in a competition for ideas for a new environmental X Prize to be offered in the future. The winner will be determined by votes cast on its web site, and anyone can view the entries and cast a vote online.</p><p>Their YouTube video calls for a contest for the best overall reduction of energy use by a community (which could be a town, a neighborhood or a school district). Entrants could use any means at their disposal, from installing more efficient light bulbs or adding insulation to their walls to more creative energy-saving measures.</p> <param name="movie" value="" /><param name="allowFullScreen" value="true" /><param name="allowscriptaccess" value="always" /> <p class="authorinfo">Above: Energy X-Prize: Reduce Home Energy Usage<br /> </p> <p>Team member Jonathan Dreher says their idea was based on the fact that a great deal of money and effort is being spent on devising new, cleaner ways to produce energy, but "not enough people are addressing the growing need to reduce our inefficient demand for energy. Though some Americans have started taking action on their own, we hope an X Prize based on our entry will provide the necessary incentive to get a majority of Americans to think about their excessive energy consumption habits."</p><p>While new energy technologies may take a decade or more to have an impact, he says, "Our prize proposal allows for immediate action at a massive scale, and allows everyday Americans to participate by simply making a trip to their local hardware store. The steps are simple and no change of lifestyle or sacrifice of comfort is necessary."  </p><p>The three team members, Dreher, Jeremy Stewart and Michael Norelli, are students in the Leaders for Manufacturing Program, which is sponsored jointly by the Engineering Systems Division within MIT's School of Engineering and MIT Sloan School. Their video, as well as the other two finalists, can be seen at <a href="" mce_href=""></a> and viewers can vote for their favorite (though the foundation warns that excessive numbers of votes originating from a single IP address will not be counted). The winning team will receive a $25,000 prize, in addition to having their proposal considered for the creation of a new major X Prize award.</p><p>"We were inspired by the sheer number of ideas and inquiries from the YouTube community," said Peter H. Diamandis '83, SM '86, chairman of the X Prize Foundation. "Narrowing the list to three finalists was difficult, and now it's up to the public to decide which one is truly worthy of being explored as an X Prize in the area of energy and the environment."</p>Energy, Environment, Contests and academic competitions, National relations and service, Students Letter to the community on MIT finances Mon, 17 Nov 2008 05:00:00 -0500 <h5>To the members of the MIT community:</h5><p>Ambitious forward motion is MIT's signature; we celebrate initiative, innovation, relentless improvement and creative change. Yet as the world's financial markets continue to decline, they forecast a global reduction in resources. In that context, our challenge is clear: together we must chart a financially prudent path forward, but one that sustains and fosters the essential character of MIT.</p><p>As we reported in late September at the <a href="/newsoffice/2008/institute-0929.html">State of the Institute</a>, MIT has the latitude to approach the current financial realities in a deliberate way, because of three recent significant advances: we begin from a balanced budget, we smooth our endowment payout to distribute the effects of market volatility over several years, and, across the Institute, we have carefully accumulated cash reserves that can buffer a tough economic period. These facts cannot fully insulate us from the chill of the markets, but they do afford us the time to make thoughtful, coordinated choices. Through the fall, we have steadily responded to the rapid economic flux; for example, as market conditions worsened in October, we recognized that delaying the <a href="/newsoffice/2008/w1-1028.html">renovation of the W1 residence hall</a> offered an important opportunity to preserve financial flexibility. </p><p>Today, as market uncertainty continues, we want to share with you the further steps we will take to reduce spending, while protecting and fostering the creative, dynamic and stimulating environment that defines MIT.</p><h5>The impact on Institute revenues</h5><p>The global economic contraction will likely compromise all of the Institute's major revenue streams: endowment, tuition, gifts and research. Market declines have affected even the most diversified portfolios, including MIT's investments, which will reduce the endowment funds available to support our operations. In addition, we anticipate a decline in net revenue from tuition; we will retain our commitment to need-blind admission and need-based undergraduate financial aid even as we expect that some students and their families may feel the weight of new financial difficulties. (Please consult the <a href="">Financial Aid office</a> for more information). And, while MIT's donors have remained staunchly generous through past downturns, some may now be constrained in their giving. We also expect that pressure on the nation's budget will lead to continued stagnation, if not declines, in federal funding for research. As we plan, we must incorporate all these anticipated revenue reductions.</p><h5>Planning for financial constraint</h5><p>The continuing uncertainty about the length and depth of the economic downturn makes accurate predictions impossible. However, we must take action now to plan for a protracted period of financial constraint, while at the same time remaining flexible for a future in which the economy may improve or worsen. </p><p>Taking all these factors into account, we can reasonably anticipate the need to decrease spending by about 10-15% over the next two to three years. In the current budget planning cycle for FY10, we will plan for a base budget reduction of 5%. Future years will undoubtedly require additional cuts by all units. As all of you who manage budgets know, achieving a base budget reduction of this magnitude is a very serious exercise; we will tackle it together, through a careful three-year implementation plan, beginning with a number of practical short-term actions. </p><h5>Practical steps in the short term</h5><p>In the coming weeks, we will present specific steps to launch the planning process. In the meantime, we encourage each of you to think about the most effective ways we can cut spending while advancing our core strengths in support of MIT's mission.</p><p>In the very near term, it obviously makes sense for every part of the Institute to look hard at each expenditure. We must be very cautious in hiring, relating each hire to core needs, and we should take particular care in making decisions that create long-term financial commitments. At present, we do not expect mandated spending cuts for the current fiscal year. However, achieving significant savings this year can help prevent more painful future choices; early savings will compound, so that a dollar saved today gives greater long-term budget relief than one saved a year from now. </p><h5>Developing a long-term approach together</h5><p>As we plan for the longer term, given the budget reductions we anticipate for FY11 and beyond, we can and will use this moment to tailor our financial choices to better position the Institute to seize emerging opportunities. To that end, we will set in place a broad, deliberate, inclusive process, in which all branches of the Institute will work together in the coming year to reassess our priorities and the use of our resources.</p><p>The past year has included an ambitious and vitally important process of planning for MIT's future; integrating that planning work with new fiscal constraints will make the Institute stronger, more efficient and more effective. The world values MIT for its unrivaled education, pioneering scholarship and real-world innovations. Together, we need to design new operating strategies that draw on more limited financial resources, without sacrificing our values or our mission of world-changing education, research and service.</p><p>In approaching this challenge, we have actively consulted with the Academic Council and department heads, as well as with other faculty and administrative leaders. To further define the budget planning process described in this letter, we will continue these discussions. As plans develop and the global situation evolves, we will keep the MIT community involved and up to date.</p><p>The months ahead will test us all. But they also present an opportunity for us to demonstrate our deepest strengths as a compassionate community, driven by innovative thinking and action.</p><p>Sincerely,</p><p>Susan Hockfield<br />President</p><p>L. Rafael Reif<br />Provost</p>Economics, Administration, Campus services, Faculty, National relations and service, Staff, Students Economists offer up advice to Obama Solow, Mankiw see promising future, short-term problems Fri, 14 Nov 2008 05:00:00 -0500 Patrick Gillooly, News Office Two renowned economists agreed Thursday that America is facing several major challenges with economic implications — including health care costs, climate change and the credit crunch — but differed on how President-elect Barack Obama should handle those crises efficiently.<br /><br />MIT Institute Professor emeritus Robert Solow and Harvard economist N. Gregory Mankiw spoke in front of a packed Wang Auditorium on the topic of "Economic policies for the next U.S. president," a forum co-sponsored by the Department of Economics and the Undergraduate Economics Association.<br /><br />Solow expressed excitement for the new administration ("I voted for Obama and I didn't hesitate for a second") while also noting the troubles that may lie ahead ("I don't expect miracles of economic policy from the Obama administration"). But, he noted, policymaking is about more than one person.<br /><br />"The two-party system goes against economic miracles," Solow said.<br /><br />Despite a freezing of "plain-vanilla lending" — commercial and generally safe lending — there is no reason to be completely doom-and-gloom, he said. "The productive capacity of the economy is still there."<br /><br />"The first order of business ought to be to do something about fending off the recession," he said. "Anything that is done along that line will have to be done through fiscal policy."<br /><br />Solow also credited the steps already made by Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke PhD '79, comparing him to Captain Kirk from Star Trek. "He has loaned where no man has loaned before."<br /><br />Mankiw said he had "a lot of respect for what is going on in the Obama administration," especially since the president-elect has surrounded himself with several advisors who have "Cambridge connections" — either with MIT or Harvard.<br /><br />But he also said "the long-term budget looks pretty dire," and that seeing Obama put together a long-term budget "is going to be very interesting."<br /><br />Mankiw agreed with some policies that Obama has expressed support for in the past, including fully auctioned cap-and-trade carbon programs. He was "most skeptical," however, on certain international trade proposals, including one to renegotiate the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) and on limiting the import of sugar-based ethanol from Brazil.<br /><br />"My view is that all those views are wrong, and my thought is that the economists advising him think they are wrong. The question is, in what direction will he head?" Mankiw said.<br /><br />The U.S. also needs to move away from an economy where many top earners come from the financial sector, as it is leading to more inequality, Mankiw said.<br /><br />"A lot of these high incomes come in the financial services industry, and I think that needs to stop," he said. "Economic growth that is primarily finance based is unsatisfactory."<br /><br />While taking steps in the short-term may pay off now, Solow said it would be unwise to think that results would be immediate.<br /><br />"Whatever happens now, the federal deficit is going to be close to a trillion dollars."<br /><br />A brief question and answer session following the forum brought forth the question of General Motors and whether the government should bail it out as it did for Wall Street's financial firms.<br /><br />"When do you stop? Once you get through the auto industry there will be other industries [asking for money] as well," Solow said, pointing out a bigger problem that is "not about GM, but about fixing a nonsensical system that fixes health care to employment."<br /><br />Mankiw suggested offering money, but only if there was private investment to back it up.<br /><br />"There's no point putting public money into a company that no private investor deems viable," he said.<br /><br /> <em>A version of this article appeared in <a href="/newsoffice/techtalk-info.html">MIT Tech Talk</a> on <a href="/newsoffice/2008/techtalk53-9.pdf">November 19, 2008 (download PDF)</a>.</em>MIT Institute Professor emeritus and Nobel Prize winner Robert Solow makes a point.Photo / Donna CoveneyEconomics, Cambridge, Boston and region, National relations and service, Special events and guest speakers, Social sciences