Category Archives: Graduate Alumni News

September 16, 2016

Paul & Daisy Soros Fellowship information session, Sep. 19

The ODGE is pleased to announce that we will be hosting an informational session on the Paul & Daisy Soros Fellowships for New Americans on Monday, September 19, 2016 from 2:00pm to 3:00pm  in the Coffeehouse Lounge in the Stratton Student Center (W20-308). Craig Harwood, director of the Soros Fellowship will be on hand to provide a brief presentation on the fellowship and to answer questions. More information on the fellowship can be found on their website. An MIT news article on last year’s recipients can be found here.  For those students who are unable to attend, the fellowship also offers informational webinars.Get more information about this. If you should have any questions, contact stirrell@mit.edu.

March 11, 2016

Digital strategies in emerging markets‏

Boston-based mobile Internet company Jana, founded by Media Lab alum Nathan Eagle PhD ’05 focuses exclusively on providing free connectivity to emerging markets using the model of “marketing for megabytes.”  Jana just raised $57 million in new venture capital funding led by Verizon Ventures 0.94% . However the 85-employee company does not have a single user in the U.S. Nor does it ever plan to. Instead, Jana is focused exclusively on providing free connectivity to emerging markets, via a novel strategy through which smartphone owners “purchase” data by doing such things like agreeing to send a message via Tencent’s WeChat service. Or perhaps by watching a video from a multinational brand like Unilever. Continue reading the story at Fortune.com.

March 10, 2016

Alumnus Wilson launches innovative start-up

For someone who has devoted his life to helping cities, Jase Wilson MA ’08 grew up in a decidedly small town. Maryville, Missouri, has a population of 12,000 people, with civic life revolving around “farms, factories, and football.” Its one claim to fame is that it is the birthplace of Dale Carnegie, the promoter of American self-improvement, and Wilson followed in his footsteps as a self-taught whiz kid. “Most kids have a social life or play sports; I was in my bedroom taking apart computers and figuring out how circuit boards fit together,” he says.

His diligence earned him a free ride to attend engineering school. But during a visit to the University of Missouri at Kansas City, he happened on a pamphlet about “Urban Planning and Design.” After a 20-minute conversation with the department head, he was hooked on cities — structures as intricate as the most complex circuit board. “Cities are the sum of all other endeavors,” Wilson says. “They are co-created by the wants and desires of all the people inhabiting them. There are so many forces at work.” Read the rest of his story on MIT News.

March 4, 2016

Three graduate alums tapped for Inventors Hall of Fame

Nearly one-third of the 2016 National Inventors Hall of Fame inductees hail from MIT. On May 5, the National Inventors Hall of Fame (NIHF), in partnership with the United States Patent and Trademark Office, will recognize 16 individuals, described as having a revolutionary impact on the nation, at a ceremony in Washington. One MIT professor (Joseph Jacobson PhD ’93) worked with two other MIT alumni (Jonathan (JD) Albert ’97 and Barrett Comiskey ’97) to create electronic ink. Two additional alumni (Radia Perlman ’73, SM ’76, PhD ’88 and Ivan Sutherland PhD ’63) honorees worked on projects involving Internet advances, including the spanning tree protocol (STP) and the computer graphics breakthough Sketchpad. Read more.

March 1, 2016

Alumnus Cleroux on Canada’s economy

Canada’s economy can be divided into two parts, a senior official at the Business Development Bank of Canada said on Thursday. There are the seven provinces, including Ontario, with manufacturing bases benefiting from the low dollar and high exports to the United States; and Alberta, Saskatchewan and Newfoundland and Labrador, whose economies depend on the price of oil. And with Ontario in the first part, said Pierre Cleroux, who is vice-president, research, and chief economist at BDC, it is not all doom and gloom on the economic front in the province, despite the fact that the Canadian dollar is declining, the price of oil is low and the stock market is down. Continue reading on thewhig.com. Photo from thewhig.com

February 24, 2016

Alumnus Chan Chun Sing on Lee Kuan Yew’s meritocracy nation

Channel News Asia (CNA) reported that the Minister in the Prime Minister’s Office, Chan Chun Sing, told the St Gallen Symposium Singapore Forum that instead of blindly chasing conventional definitions of success, society must have diverse groups of people and talents. Singapore must not become a ‘yardstick society’, Mr Chan said. “Don’t become a yardstick society in which we aimlessly, blindly chase goals regardless of what we’re good at. That’s the saddest thing we can do for ourselves,” he told the audience. “The whole society will then lose resilience because it has become monolithic.” Continue reading article. Photo from The Online Citizen.

January 22, 2016

Connect with Alumni, Jan. 25-28

A great opportunity to connect with alumni, chat about shared experiences, and ask for career advice. Volunteer with the Alumni Association for 2 hours over IAP to thank an alum of your department and get a free dinner of your choice. This will take place at W31-110, January 25-28 2016, 7-9PM. To confirm your preferred date, time, and department contact Kim Nguyen (k_nguyen@mit.edu).

January 13, 2016

Bozchalooi: New microscope’s near-real-time videos of nanoscale processes

Based on the the PhD work of Iman Soltani Bozchalooi, state-of-the-art atomic force microscopes (AFMs) are designed to capture images of structures as small as a fraction of a nanometer — a million times smaller than the width of a human hair. In recent years, AFMs have produced desktop-worthy close-ups of atom-sized structures, from single strands of DNA to individual hydrogen bonds between molecules. But scanning these images is a meticulous, time-consuming process. AFMs therefore have been used mostly to image static samples, as they are too slow to capture active, changing environments. Read more

November 30, 2015

Akselrod: New technology colors in the infrared rainbow

In a new study, a team lead by Maiken H. Mikkelsen, the Nortel Networks Assistant Professor of Electrical & Computer Engineering and Physics at Duke University, demonstrates perfect absorbers for small bands of the electromagnetic spectrum from visible light through the near infrared. The fabrication technique is easily scalable, can be applied to any surface geometry and costs much less than current light absorption technologies.

Once adopted, the technique would allow advanced thermal imaging systems to not only be produced faster and cheaper than today’s counterparts, but to have higher sensitivity. It could also be used in a wide variety of other applications, such as masking the heat signatures of objects. The study was published online Nov. 9 in Advanced Materials. Read more.

 

November 24, 2015

Alumni Add “Heart” to MindHandHeart

Alumni and students joined together this fall to send the campus community a message—“Don’t struggle alone—It’s okay to ask for help.” That phrase served as a backbone for the two events at the Alumni Leadership Conference that focused on the MindHandHeart Initiative (MHH), a campus-wide effort to promote mental health and well-being and, over time, build a healthier, stronger MIT. Read more at Slice of MIT.

November 16, 2015

magnetic cell sensors design

Chen & Matsumoto: designing magnetic cell sensors

MIT engineers have designed magnetic protein nanoparticles that can be used to track cells or to monitor interactions within cells. The particles, described today in Nature Communications, are an enhanced version of a naturally occurring, weakly magnetic protein called ferritin. “Ferritin, which is as close as biology has given us to a naturally magnetic protein nanoparticle, is really not that magnetic. That’s what this paper is addressing,” says Alan Jasanoff, an MIT professor of biological engineering and the paper’s senior author. “We used the tools of protein engineering to try to boost the magnetic characteristics of this protein.”

The new “hypermagnetic” protein nanoparticles can be produced within cells, allowing the cells to be imaged or sorted using magnetic techniques. This eliminates the need to tag cells with synthetic particles and allows the particles to sense other molecules inside cells. The paper’s lead author is former MIT graduate student Yuri Matsumoto. Other authors are graduate student Ritchie Chen and Polina Anikeeva, an assistant professor of materials science and engineering.  Read more

November 9, 2015

cordova app safe driving

Cordova uses data analytics on driving behavior to improve safety

Are you a safe driver? According to MIT alumnus Brad Cordova SM ’13, co-founder of driving-data-analytics startup Censio, you’ll probably answer “yes,” but the real answer may be “no.” Those who consider themselves safe drivers may tailgate, speed, or use cellphones while driving, which significantly increase the probability of an accident, Cordova says. “For most of us, the most dangerous thing you do from day to day is driving,” he says.

To improve driver safety, Censio has developed an app that captures and analyzes data on driving behavior to show drivers where they can improve. In September, Progressive Insurance began piloting the app with customers nationwide, with aims of reducing insurance rates for good drivers.  Read more

November 3, 2015

smart inhaler asthma gecko health

Engelhard & Maalouf: a smart inhaler for asthmatics

Rescue inhalers are commonly used by asthmatics, as necessary, during asthma attacks. But people with asthma sometimes use maintenance inhalers, on a prescribed schedule, to prevent attacks.

As with other prescription medications, patients sometimes forget or don’t adhere to the prescription, sometimes causing hospital visits and leading to preventable health care costs.

Now MIT spinout Gecko Health, with its recent acquisition by Teva Pharmaceuticals, aims to boost development on its sensor that attaches to inhalers to monitor usage, with aims of keeping patients healthy and cutting health care costs.

“It’s not about selling the company, but really being able to achieve what you want to achieve,” says Gecko Health co-founder and CEO Yechiel Engelhard MBA ’12.

There are more than 25 million people living with asthma in the United States. Non-adherence to inhaler prescriptions, especially in severe cases, can cost each patient anywhere from $700 to $4,000 annually in preventable medical costs, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Improved inhaler adherence could potentially cut health care costs drastically, Engelhard says. But collecting data for patients, he adds, also helps empower asthma patients in the age of health and wellness wearables.

“The idea is to make things very transparent and easy to understand — anything to make you a smarter patient,” says Engelhard, who launched the startup with Mark Maalouf MBA ’12, who was Gecko Health’s chief technology officer before the acquisition.  Read more

November 2, 2015

persian gulf environmental

Pal: climate simulation shows Persian gulf could experience deadly heat

Within this century, parts of the Persian Gulf region could be hit with unprecedented events of deadly heat as a result of climate change, according to a study of high-resolution climate models.

The research reveals details of a business-as-usual scenario for greenhouse gas emissions, but also shows that curbing emissions could forestall these deadly temperature extremes.

The study, published today in the journal Nature Climate Change, was carried out by Elfatih Eltahir, a professor of civil and environmental engineering at MIT, and Jeremy Pal PhD ’01 at Loyola Marymount University. They conclude that conditions in the Persian Gulf region, including its shallow water and intense sun, make it “a specific regional hotspot where climate change, in absence of significant mitigation, is likely to severely impact human habitability in the future.”

Running high-resolution versions of standard climate models, Eltahir and Pal found that many major cities in the region could exceed a tipping point for human survival, even in shaded and well-ventilated spaces. Eltahir says this threshold “has, as far as we know … never been reported for any location on Earth.”  Read more

October 29, 2015

mit grad students faster optimization algorithm

Lee, Sidford, Wong: A faster optimization algorithm

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

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

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

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

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

October 9, 2015

Wound care device

Zurovcik: Wound therapy device (sNPWT)

Before pursuing a doctorate at MIT, Danielle Zurovcik SM ’07, PhD ’12 had never designed or developed a medical device. But her exposure in Professor Alex Slocum’s Precision Engineering Research Group (PERG) led her to develop a simplified negative pressure wound therapy device (sNPWT) that would later become known as the Wound-Pump.

During her D-Lab Scale-Ups fellowship, the device was applied in the field after the earthquake in Haiti and during a study in Rwanda. After witnessing its successful application, Zurovcik realized that the device could solve an immediate and critical need.

Zurovcik is the founder and CEO of WiCare (Worldwide Innovative Healthcare Inc.), a company that develops effective and inexpensive medical devices. WiCare’s goal is to make high-quality healthcare available to remote or impoverished areas of the world. The Wound-Pump is the company’s first product. Read more.  Photo by: Danielle Zurovcik and WiCare, Inc

October 8, 2015

konisky climate strategy for americans

Konisky: Effective climate strategy for Americans

Global warming may be a hot topic of conversation among scientists and political policymakers, but when it comes to swaying public opinion, the subject leaves most Americans cold, according to David Konisky PhD ’06, associate professor of public and environmental affairs at Indiana University.

“Global warming is not an major factor for Americans when judging energy sources,” Konisky says. “Most of the public isn’t willing to pay very much to address climate change.”

Konisky is a 2006 PhD graduate of the MIT-SHASS Department of Political Science, which observes its 50th anniversary this fall. He was on campus Thursday, Sept. 17, to present a talk entitled, “Cheap and Clean: How Americans Think About Energy in the Age of Global Warming.” The talk, sponsored by the MIT Energy Initiative (MITEI), summarized the key findings of Konisky’s award-winning 2014 book of the same title, which he co-authored with Harvard University professor of government, Stephen Ansolabehere.

Americans have a consumer point of view about energy

Konisky said their research found that Americans look at energy the way they look at other consumer products — by weighing key attributes: In the case of energy, Americans care most about financial cost and local environmental harm.

This consumer-type analysis trumps other biases one might expect to see in this arena, Konisky said. “It turns out that just knowing how people perceive the environmental harms and economic costs of energy sources explains about 80 percent of the variation in their attitudes [toward the use of various fuels]. Other factors — like political preferences, education, and income — don’t really matter much.”  Read more

October 6, 2015

mosley origami connection

Mosely: Celebrating the connective power of origami

Science and art come together in compelling ways for Jeannine Mosely. A software engineer at Akamai Technologies in Cambridge, she contributed to the development of cell-phone technology as a graduate student at MIT and has made a mark as a master of origami.

When she talks about the ancient art of folded paper, which her mother introduced her to at age five, it becomes clear that it shares a creative root with programming: the ability to find inspiration in a blank page.

Mosely earned undergraduate degrees in mathematics and electrical engineering at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, followed by graduate degrees in electrical engineering and computer science at MIT. After MIT she began to work with the powerful new tools of computer-­aided design at Cambridge-based ICAD.

Meanwhile, she realized that business cards were an interesting shape for use in origami and began using them to build cubes. Watching her seven-year-old son Simon stack those cubes inspired her to create a stable and expandable structure: an illustration of a Menger sponge, a mathematical fractal formed by endlessly dividing each face of a cube into nine squares and removing the resulting smaller cube in the middle of each face and the center of the original cube.  Read more

September 22, 2015

MSRP Alum: Prof. Asegun Henry at S3TEC Seminar at MIT

Asegun Henry, assistant professor of heat transfer, combustion, and energy systems, at Georgia Tech, and an alumni of the ODGE’s MIT Summer Research Program (MSRP), presented at a recent S3TEC Seminar at MIT about his work in heat transfer, particularly regarding phonon gas models. You can watch his talk here and find out more on his work on his faculty website.

September 16, 2015

Laurendi wine matching algorithm

Laurendi: Using algorithms for wine matching

After roommates Richard Yau ’10 and Joe Laurendi ’10, MEng ’11 earned their undergraduate degrees, they headed separate ways. Yau helped NutraClick, a vitamin and beauty products firm, grow to $65M in revenue during his time as director of business development. Joe Laurendi stayed for a master’s degree and prototyped a web-based securities trading platform at Broadway Technology and, after MIT, joined a early-stage social networking startup.

Then last year, they came back together and co-founded a firm that grew out of their MIT experience.

“We knew we wanted to start a business together, as we have very complementary skill sets,” says Yau, the company CEO with MIT degrees in both management and music and arts. “We entered 6.470 [Independent Activities Period Programming Competition] together and the100K business plan competition. Our friendship was solidified when I forced him to come to my acapella events — which he enjoyed thoroughly.” Laurendi, company CTO, earned his degrees in mathematics and computer science and engineering.

Their startup, Bright Cellars, is an online wine club that uses a questionnaire and customer feedback to recommend wines, which can be shipped monthly to customers. In May, Bright Cellars graduated from the gener8tor program and relocated to Milwaukee, after the company received early backing from venture fund CSA Partners.  Read More

August 4, 2015

FrackingWaterRecycling

Bajpayee, Govindan: MIT spinout makes treating, recycling highly contaminated oilfield water more economical

Hydraulic fracturing, or “fracking,” produces a lot of wastewater. Drilling one well requires millions of gallons of water that’s injected into the ground to loosen rocks and release oil. While some is reused, much of the produced water is discarded into deep injection wells, and clean water is purchased again and again.

But MIT spinout Gradiant Corporation is working toward making fracking a water-neutral process, by making water reuse more economical. Founded by Anurag Bajpayee SM ’08, PhD ’12, and Prakash Govindan PhD ’12, Gradiant has developed cost-effective systems to treat briny oilfield water for reuse, saving millions of gallons of water — and millions of dollars — annually.

Launched in 2012 with help from MIT’s industry-connected ecosystem, Gradiant has erected two 12,000-barrel-per-day plants in the Permian Basin of Texas, partnering with two drilling clients who treat about 10,000 barrels daily there. “That’s 10,000 barrels a day they’re not disposing of, and 10,000 they’re not buying from the city or taking off the public water supply,” says Bajpayee, now Gradiant’s CEO. Read full article @ MIT News

July 28, 2015

docking in space

3 Questions: Lennon Rodgers on docking in space

MIT’s Lennon Rodgers, a research scientist who did graduate work in the MIT Space Systems Laboratory (SSL), led a team of students to build a universal docking port (UDP) for the Synchronized Position Hold, Engage, Reorient Experimental Satellites (SPHERES) testbed on the International Space Station (ISS). The flight versions were subsequently developed by graduate students Duncan Miller, David Sternberg, and Chris Jewison, working with Aurora Flight Sciences Corp., and launched to the ISS from Kazakhstan on Wednesday. The SPHERES with UDPs will be used to test autonomous, vision-based algorithms for complex docking maneuvers. Rodgers spoke with MIT News about what he hopes this mission will accomplish. Read the full article.

July 20, 2015

BottleisNon-Stick

Smith’s LiquiGlide slides into consumer space

The days of wasting condiments — and other products — that stick stubbornly to the sides of their bottles may be gone, thanks to MIT spinout LiquiGlide, which has licensed its nonstick coating to a major consumer-goods company. Developed in 2009 by MIT’s Professor Kripa Varanasi and former grad student David Smith, LiquiGlide is a liquid-impregnated coating that acts as a slippery barrier between a surface and a viscous liquid. Applied inside a condiment bottle, for instance, the coating clings permanently to its sides, while allowing the condiment to glide off completely, with no residue.

In 2012, amidst a flurry of media attention following LiquiGlide’s entry in MIT’s $100K Entrepreneurship Competition, Smith and Varanasi founded the startup — with help from the Institute — to commercialize the coating. Today, Norwegian consumer-goods producer Orkla has signed a licensing agreement to use the LiquiGlide’s coating for mayonnaise products sold in Germany, Scandinavia, and several other European nations. This comes on the heels of another licensing deal, with Elmer’s, announced in March. But this is only the beginning, says Varanasi, an associate professor of mechanical engineering who is now on LiquiGlide’s board of directors and chief science advisor. The startup, which just entered the consumer-goods market, is courting deals with numerous producers of foods, beauty supplies, and household products. See the video and read the full article at the MIT News office

July 17, 2015

Alumnusconsumermarket

Aguilar’s throwable tactical camera gets commercial release

Unseen areas are troublesome for police and first responders: Rooms can harbor dangerous gunmen, while collapsed buildings can conceal survivors. Now Bounce Imaging, founded by an MIT alumnus, is giving officers and rescuers a safe glimpse into the unknown. In July, the Boston-based startup will release its first line of tactical spheres, equipped with cameras and sensors, that can be tossed into potentially hazardous areas to instantly transmit panoramic images of those areas back to a smartphone.

“It basically gives a quick assessment of a dangerous situation,” says Bounce Imaging CEO Francisco Aguilar MBA ’12, who invented the device, called the Explorer.

Launched in 2012 with help from the MIT Venture Mentoring Service (VMS), Bounce Imaging will deploy 100 Explorers to police departments nationwide, with aims of branching out to first responders and other clients in the near future. The softball-sized Explorer is covered in a thick rubber shell. Inside is a camera with six lenses, peeking out at different indented spots around the circumference, and LED lights. When activated, the camera snaps photos from all lenses, a few times every second. Software uploads these disparate images to a mobile device and stitches them together rapidly into full panoramic images. There are plans to add sensors for radiation, temperature, and carbon monoxide in future models. Follow the full article on MIT News

July 15, 2015

CounterWeightlessEffects

Diaz and Trigg engineer method to lessen negative effects of weightlessness in space

Astronauts on the International Space Station (ISS) have a number of exercise options, including a mechanical bicycle bolted to the floor, a weightlifting machine strapped to the wall, and a strap-down treadmill. They spend a significant portion of each day working out to ward off the long-term effects of weightlessness, but many still suffer bone loss, muscle atrophy, and issues with balance and their cardiovascular systems. To counteract such debilitating effects, research groups around the world are investigating artificial gravity — the notion that astronauts, exposed to strong centrifugal forces, may experience the effects of gravity, even in space. Engineers have been building and testing human centrifuges — spinning platforms that, at high speeds, generate G-forces strong enough to mimic gravity. An astronaut, riding in a centrifuge, would presumably feel gravity’s reinforcing effects.

Now engineers at MIT, Laurence Young, the Apollo Program Professor in MIT’s Department of Aeronautics and Astronautics and his colleagues, former graduate students Ana Diaz and Chris Trigg, have built a compact human centrifuge with an exercise component: a cycle ergometer that a person can pedal as the centrifuge spins. “During the spinning process, participants were pushed against the chair due to the centrifugal force, making them sit comfortably, and facilitating their leg biomechanics for biking,” Diaz says. As the researchers increased the centrifuge’s spin, raising its artificial gravity, participants used correspondingly more force to pedal — an unsurprising but encouraging result. Follow the full article at MIT News

July 10, 2015

Lark Chat Fitness Coach

Hu’s Lark Chat app is a portable weight loss coach

People who struggle with losing or maintaining weight have a new ally in their ongoing battle against unwanted pounds: Lark Chat, a personal and virtual weight loss coach.

Lark Chat is the product of Lark Technologies Inc., a five-year-old California-based company with roots at MIT Sloan. Lark has attracted some $12 million in venture capital financing since winning the mobile track prize in the 2010 MIT $100K Entrepreneurship Competition for its wristband sleep monitor. But in the last couple of years the company has shifted its focus from hardware to software and broadened its attention to weight loss and disease prevention. Our goal was to make it as friendly and fun as possible,” says Lark co-founder and CEO Julia Hu, who founded the company while attending MIT Sloan. “People don’t call Lark a monitor or a tool; they call it a friend who understands or their ideal boyfriend. Lark has taken on kind of a lighthearted buddy kind of role in people’s lives.” Follow the full article at the MIT Sloan Newsroom

July 1, 2015

50milPrescriptionsApp

Cohen: PillPack raises $50m to modernize prescriptions delivery

Elliott Cohen, who was attending the university’s Sloan School of Business and had just started a hackathon series called Hacking Medicine, which brought together Boston’s academic and hospital communities to find new ways to rethink the delivery of heath care, met PillPack co-founder T.J. Parker at MIT’s annual 100K entrepreneurship challenge.

Cohen had witnessed his own pharmaceutical frustrations while growing up: His mother ran a group of community clinics near his home in Davis, Calif., and his father suffered through two heart attacks and two rounds of cancer. After finishing school in 2012, Parker persuaded Cohen to launch the company. A string of successes quickly followed as the team was accepted to the TechStars accelerator that fall, then partnered with the IDEO design firm to prototype their products. At the outset of 2013, they raised over $3.5 million in the span of just a few months. Read about their company and rapid success in the full article at the Boston Globe’s betaBoston. Photo: Pat Greenhouse/Globe Staff

June 30, 2015

Sundar

Gill Modernizes Textile Sourcing For Fashion Industry

Sundar, a global mobile search engine startup for sourcing materials and suppliers founded by banker-turned-entrepreneur Jag Gill, is part of a growing community leveraging technology to modernize business-to-business responsibilities within the international fashion industry. Sundar’s mission is to streamline the antiquated pen-to-paper materials purchasing process for designers and manufacturers by bringing it into the 21st century. This revolutionary company has developed digital tools involving curated, real-time data on its platform to create commerce opportunities between qualified vendors and buyers, saving them time, money, and the hassle of traveling to trade fairs.

Founded in 2014, Sundar was first incubated at TechStars Boston, and before that at MIT. The team has won industry accolades, including awards from the Council of Fashion Designers of America (CFDA), Condé Nast, and Decoded Fashion. Sundar is currently participating in New York Fashion Tech Lab 2015, a collaboration between the Partnership Fund for New York, Springboard Enterprises, and leading U.S. apparel & accessory brands and retailers. Prior to launching Sundar, MIT Sloan School of Management-grad Gill was a banker and advisor for several years to top business owners and companies in India. She was Vice President at Deutsche Bank’s Private Wealth Management Division and Associate Director at USB’s Wealth Management Global South Asia. Learn how Sundar works in the full article at Forbes. Photo by Jared Tarbell

June 26, 2015

ApplePay

Bailey: 1st female Apple executive to appear onstage at WWDC

Jennifer Bailey presented updates to Apple’s payment system at its developers conference Monday, becoming the company’s first female executive ever to grace the stage at the conference. Bailey, vice president of Apple Pay, received her business degree from MIT’s Sloan School of Management. She joined Apple in 2003, spending 11 years leading the company’s global online stores before turning her attention to Apple Pay last year.

Bailey’s appearance on the historically all-male stage of the annual conference was a big deal for the company, in part because it marked a shift in the lineup of Apple executives unveiling new Apple products, and in part because of CEO Tim Cook’s pro-diversity comments ahead of Monday’s event. “It’s the future of our company,” Cook told Mashable during a dinner for its scholarship recipients on Sunday. Read the entire article at Fortune.

June 22, 2015

Fast Nanofiber Production

Ponce de Leon prototype boosts nanofiber production fourfold

The standard technique for manufacturing nanofibers is called electrospinning, and it comes in two varieties. In the first, a polymer solution is pumped through a small nozzle, and then a strong electric field stretches it out.  The process is slow, however, and the number of nozzles per unit area is limited by the size of the pump hydraulics. The other approach is to apply a voltage between a rotating drum covered by metal cones and a collector electrode. The cones are dipped in a polymer solution, and the electric field causes the solution to travel to the top of the cones, where it’s emitted toward the electrode as a fiber. That approach is erratic, however, and produces fibers of uneven lengths; it also requires voltages as high as 100,000 volts.

Velásquez-García and his co-authors — Philip Ponce de Leon, a former master’s student in mechanical engineering; Frances Hill, a former postdoc in Velásquez-García’s group who’s now at KLA-Tencor; and Eric Heubel, a current postdoc — adapt the second approach, but on a much smaller scale, using techniques common in the manufacture of microelectromechanical systems to produce dense arrays of tiny emitters. The emitters’ small size reduces the voltage necessary to drive them and allows more of them to be packed together, increasing production rate. Read the full article at MIT NEWS.

June 19, 2015

Nile Debate

Strzepek: Inside the MIT-led Effort to Resolve an International Water Debate

For millennia, Egypt has relied on the Nile River for its agriculture. So Egyptians were understandably upset in 2011 when their upstream neighbor, Ethiopia, announced plans to build a hydroelectric dam that threatened to reduce the flow out of the spigot: the Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam (GERD), sited along a major tributary that contributes most of the water flowing into the Nile. Two years ago, then prime minister Mohammed Morsi even threatened to go to war.

In an effort to break the stalemate, Kenneth Strzepek ’75, SM ’77, PhD ’80 led a nonpartisan panel of 17 experts convened last November through MIT’s new Abdul Latif Jameel World Water and Food Security Lab (J-WAFS) to investigate the issue and forge a common solution. MIT Spectrum spoke this spring with the alumnus—who is currently a research scientist with the MIT Joint Program on the Science and Policy of Global Change and the MIT Center for Global Change Science—about the “great moral dilemma” at the heart of the conflict, and the value of objective advice. Read the full article at MIT Spectrum

June 18, 2015

Megan Smith Commencement

US Chief Technology Officer Megan Smith at 2015 Commencement

Boston Globe reporter Katherine Landergan writes that during MIT’s 2015 Commencement, U.S. CTO Megan Smith ’86, SM ’88 urged graduates to “be kind, be inclusive, be open.” Smith told MIT graduates that she is often asked why she left Silicon Valley for a job in government. It is important, the MIT alumna said, to “show up where we are more rare,” because that is where the biggest problems live. Smith, who serves as an assistant to President Obama, also told the graduates to work in teams and to respect others in the workplace. Read the full article on the Boston Globe. Photo: Joi Ito (MIT NEWS)

June 16, 2015

BGlobeBetaArticle

Fink & RLE find markets for research-derived tech

In 1997, Yoel Fink, a graduate student at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, invented something theorists had insisted was impossible: a “perfect mirror” that reflects many wavelengths of light from any angle with almost no energy loss.

New York Times article declared Fink’s breakthrough “may be the most significant advance in mirror technology since Narcissus became entranced by his image reflected on the surface of a still pool of water.” But the world saw little of what came next: a 10-year struggle to bring the perfect mirror to market as a laser microsurgery device, with Fink navigating a gantlet that included reluctant MIT administrators, starting a company, and finding money and a manufacturer to produce the exotic material.
After his company finally got off the ground — its laser scalpel has now treated over 100,000 patients — Fink returned to MIT to teach materials science and now runs the school’s elite Research Laboratory of Electronics, which explores everything from atomic physics to biomedical engineering. And now he’s used that position to launch a program for postdoctoral researchers­ that was directly based on his tortured experience of seeing his college research through to commercial development.

Dubbed the “Translational Fellows Program” and currently in its second year, Fink’s initiative essentially pays selected postdocs to spend one day each workweek pursuing the business potential of their research. Read the full article at BetaBostonPhoto by Pat Greenhouse/Globe Staff

June 10, 2015

Sleep Hat Larson

Larson develops new sleep hat technology

Sleep is almost as vital as food and water because it restores our bodies and minds and, in many ways, keeps us alive. Michael Larson MIT PhD ’92 never used to think about how vital sleep is until his daughter developed a sleep disorder as a high school senior. That problem turned their lives upside down. Larson found that the brain can be coaxed to slow its activity using audio tones called binaural beats, an auditory brainstem response caused by the interaction of two sounds that originate in opposite ears. The beat frequency would start out fast and would gradually decrease, causing the brain activity to do the same, to lead the brain into slower and deeper sleep states. The product that Larson developed is a sleep hat, named the Sleep Shepherd, which has thin speakers next to each ear and an EEG sensor to measure brain wave states. Read the full article at Slice of MIT.

June 9, 2015

RobinChase

Robin Chase on Workforce Magazine

You could say Robin Chase helped invent the sharing economy. Close to a decade before the arrival of Airbnb Inc. and Uber, Chase, MIT Sloan School of Management alumni, co-founded Zipcar Inc., the car-sharing service that lets people pay by the hour to rent a car. In the early days, the choices were limited to a Volkswagen Beetle, Golf or Passat. Today, there are many options.

Chase and a partner launched the Cambridge, Massachusetts-based company in 2000, and she helped build the business for three years before leaving. Since then, she has helped start three other transportation-sharing ventures. As a result, she has been lauded as a design and sustainability innovator, and served on national and international transportation commissions and boards. In 2009, she landed on Time magazine’s list of the 100 Most Influential People. The online version of her 2012 TED Talk, “Excuse Me, May I Rent Your Car?” has more than 750,000 views. Read the full profile feature on Workforce.com

June 5, 2015

DataMedicineFuture

Spotlight on Heldt and a model for the future of health

Thomas Heldt, core faculty at MIT’s Institute for Medical Engineering & Science (IMES) and former MIT Hugh Hampton Young Fellow, believes in the power of patient data—the physiological measurements collected in intensive care units, operating rooms and emergency rooms—from medical devices logging hundreds of samples per second.

“What if we didn’t throw away all that data?” Heldt asks. He and his research colleagues at IMES analyze patient data in an effort to help clinicians deepen and personalize patient care, and potentially alert them to crises. “What if we could move away from a care paradigm that is reactive . . . to one that is predictive?” Yet the first hurdle, even in the age of big data, is harnessing the information.

“The infrastructure in the hospital was never set up to keep that data…. (Plus) devices from different vendors don’t really communicate. It’s very difficult to get data on a common time axis, so you can see what happened with that particular patient.” Partnerships with medical device manufacturers are extremely helpful. And when that doesn’t work, there is always “hacking,” Heldt says. Yet getting at the data is only the beginning. To move beyond hypotheses, Heldt’s group uses mathematical modeling and model-based data integration. Read the full article at IMES

May 22, 2015

Massimino to speak at June 4 doctoral hooding ceremony

Chancellor Cynthia Barnhart announced  that alumnus Mike Massimino SM ’88, PhD ’92 will be the first-ever guest speaker at MIT’s Investiture of Doctoral Hoods, a ceremony for PhD candidates held the day before Commencement. “We are thrilled that Dr. Massimino has accepted the invitation to speak on June 4,” says Barnhart, who hosts the hooding ceremony. “His words will motivate and inspire our doctoral candidates as they make this significant transition from student life.” The 2015 Investiture of Doctoral Hoods takes place Thursday, June 4, at 11:30 a.m. in the Johnson Athletics Center Ice Rink. The ceremony is open to family and friends of doctoral candidates; no tickets are required. To continue reading, please visit MIT News.

May 14, 2015

Lopin and Osborne’s Crayon offers marketers a source of inspiration

The world runs on marketing. Increasingly, that means digital marketing. Using software from companies like HubSpot, Marketo, and Eloqua, fortunes have been (and will be) made over the ability to attract potential customers via websites, social media, and e-mail—and get them to buy what sites are selling. Yet your average Joe Digital Marketer doesn’t have a centralized place to get Web design ideas, see what successful sites do to attract customers, and share ideas with other marketers and collaborators. Until now, that is.

A young Boston startup called Crayon recently rolled out a site where marketers can browse through millions of Web designs and have conversations about them. Crayon is led by CEO Jonah Lopin, an early and longtime HubSpot employee, and CTO John Osborne, a veteran of AdMob. Both are graduates of the MIT Sloan School of Management, and both understand the digital marketing and advertising realm. Continue reading on Xconomy.

May 13, 2015

Bartomeus’s investment firm helps aging business owners with succession plans

When Barcelona native Marc Bartomeus graduated from MIT’s Sloan School of Management in 2010, he didn’t head to Silicon Valley or jump into a consulting gig. Instead, he raised a little over €200,000 (about $300,000 at the time) from 16 investors to form Ariol Capital, a small investment firm with one goal—to find a small company for Bartomeus to buy and run—and returned to Spain.

Last October, when Bartomeus’ investors ponied up the funds for him to buy Repli, a Barcelona-area packaging distributor with €17 million in annual revenues, Ariol Capital became the first so-called “search fund” to purchase a firm in Spain. In doing so, Bartomeus is on the leading edge of the international expansion of a trend that could offer an escape hatch for the growing number of aging European family business owners with no succession plan in place. Continue reading on Fortune. Photo by Michael Cogliantry—Getty Images.

May 8, 2015

Morey wins KSTF Fellowship

MIT Chemistry alumna and former ODGE Graduate Community fellow (GCF) Shannon Morey recently won a Knowles Science Teaching Foundation (KSTF) Fellowship. The highly competitive KSTF fellowship provides dedicated, passionate teachers with five years of funding for professional development, grants for teaching materials, stipends, and leadership/mentoring opportunities! Additionally, she is also a Boston Public Schools Fellow and is featured on teachboston.org. She is currently working as a teacher in the science department at East Boston High School.

April 23, 2015

cell phone radiation expert

Wang: Chief Science Officer for Pong Research on Cell Phone Radiation

Dr. Rong Wang, former MIT Hugh Hampton Young Fellow, leads the Pong scientific team and has been involved since its inception. Dr. Wang is responsible for the scientific integrity of Pong’s published content and serves as lead technical/scientific writer and media representative on scientific matters. She also participates in product research and development and helps identify and qualify new technologies and applications complementary to Pong. She is the resident expert on the biological and health effects of cell phone radiation and the ongoing studies surrounding this subject. Dr. Wang’s unique and solid training in both engineering and health disciplines from MIT and Harvard empowered her to work with a team of colleagues to develop the early prototypes for Pong’s internationally patented coupling antenna technology. A link to her most influential posts and research can be found in the full article at Pongcase.com

April 10, 2015

Zurovcik receives Penn State Mechanical Engineering Alumni Society Award

Danielle Zurovcik received the Penn State Mechanical Engineering Alumni Society (PSMES) 2015 Outstanding Early Career Engineering Award. Zurovcik, is the inaugural recipient of the award, which recognizes a high achieving mechanical engineering alumnus of the school who is within 10 years of his or her terminal degree. Continue reading in PSU News.

April 9, 2015

Morris’ Koko deals with depression through a social network

Koko, an upcoming app based on an MIT experiment, is designed to build the world’s first social network for dealing with depression. If it takes off, it could change the way some of us think about our problems. Robert Morris grew up in the heart of Silicon Valley, just a few streets away from the garage where Steve Jobs got his start. But technology wasn’t his passion. The only operating system he really cared about was the human mind. After getting his undergraduate degree from Princeton in psychology, Morris moved on to MIT for PhD work on how to make mental health accessible to everyone, where his failure to more than dabble in computer science quickly caught up to him.

“Everyone around me was this brilliant coder, and there was this expectation that if I had an idea, I could just whip up a platform instantly to test it, like anyone else,” Morris remembers. He began getting depressed as he bashed his head against beginner’s programming mistakes. “I thought to myself: I’m a horrible programmer. I’ll never survive at MIT.” Continue reading on Fast Company.

April 1, 2015

Ippolito uses engineering to solve health care issues

YOU’RE SICK AND YOU’RE SCARED. So you visit the doctor—who has 15 minutes to spare. You want more answers, but there just isn’t enough time. Sound familiar? Health care engineer Andrea Ippolito SDM ’12, ESD ’17 thinks so, too. She uses engineering to tackle large-scale logistical problems, like making it easier for patients to secure doctor’s appointments. “My goal is to energize the health-tech ecosystem through engineering. I want to change the way we architect our health care, and there’s a hunger for improvement,” she says.

Ippolito is an innovator who is working to improve health care through engineering, systems design, and entrepreneurship. At MIT, she’s served as a co-director of MIT Hacking Medicine, where the team has held over 20 hackathons to crack medical problems like these across the world. Her own start-up, Smart Scheduling, emerged from a Hacking Medicine event. Smart Scheduling now has paired with athenahealth to develop software that takes the guesswork out of patient scheduling. It tracks patients to remind them of appointments and predicts future scheduling behavior, maximizing a busy doctor’s time. Continue reading on MIT Spectrum.

March 31, 2015

Cell Barcodes

Ankrum wins prize at NIH’s Follow that Cell Challenge

James Ankrum, a 2013 Ph.D. alumnus from the Medical Engineering and Medical Physics, Harvard-MIT Division of Health Sciences & Technology, and MIT former Hugh Hampton Young Fellow, submitted research for a self-destructing cellular barcode, a versatile tool for single cell analysis, and took home one of the top prizes at the The National Institutes of Health: Follow that Cell Challenge (Phase 1). Of critical importance for studying single cell activity is the ability to identify and track a single cell over time. This solution proposes a method for uniquely labeling thousands of single cells. The proposed label lasts for several weeks, is transferred to cell progeny, and self-destructs when the cell dies. The technique would be useful for determining stem cell fate and lineage. Read the full entry at National Institutes of Health.

March 27, 2015

Adebiyi’s Wecyclers advancing recycling efforts in Nigeria

Growing up in Lagos, Nigeria, Bilikiss Adebiyi MBA ’12 witnessed a waste epidemic in the city’s slums, where many of her relatives lived: Plastic bottles, aluminum cans, and other waste accumulated in streets and open gutters, causing flooding, disease, and stress. Images of these trash piles remained vivid in Adebiyi’s mind in 2010, when she was a graduate student at the MIT Sloan School of Management. So when she took the D-Lab course MAS.665 (Development Ventures), which focuses on launching ventures in developing countries, “Something awoke in me to help solve the issue,” Adebiyi says.

Partnering with classmate Alexandra Fallon MBA ’12, she launched Wecyclers, which now deploys a fleet of cargo bikes to collect recyclables from houses in poor areas of Lagos, in return for rewards. Launched in 2012, the startup has collected more than 600 tons of recyclables, with more than 6,500 households signed on to its program. Each house has about five people, Adebiyi adds, “so we’ve impacted more than 30,000 lives.” Continue reading on MIT News.

March 24, 2015

Lampkin’s Blendoor brings diversity to wide range of workplaces

On March 15 Tech.Co once again presented Tech Cocktail’s Startup Celebration at SXSWi where more than two dozen startups showcased their product and delivered their pitch in hopes of winning prizes, glory, and a spot at the Tech Cocktail Celebrate Conference as well. A lot has been written about diversity (or the lack thereof) in tech. It is not surprising or even enlightening anymore to learn that women only make up an average of 30% of the workforce in tech firms. Even worse, less than 10% are in actual engineering positions. The numbers are equally bad for other minorities like hispanics and blacks. The majority of Silicon Valley’s workforce is made up of whites or asians with other races barely making a guest appearance. It is sad that none of this is breaking news anymore. It is the bare truth – plain and simple.

But here is the silver lining – something is actively being done about it. All major firms now have diversity initiatives in place and there is a real movement around diversity happening around the country with organizations like Girls Who Code, Black Star Launch, and Lesbians Who Tech. Blendoor is showcasing at Tech Cocktail’s SXSW Celebration event and we met up with Stephanie Lampkin, Blendoor’s founder and CEO for a quick chat about her startup. Continue reading on Tech.Co.

March 19, 2015

Mancabelli’s school data analyzing software links classroom tech to student performance

To see the impact of their investments, companies often use business intelligence tools—primarily data-analytics software—that analyze company data to link cash spent with outcomes. Now MIT spinout BrightBytes has developed similar data-analytics software for schools that links the implementation of classroom technologies, and other strategies, to student achievement. About one in seven U.S. schools now uses the software.

The software combines academic research with collected data on students, teachers, and schools to create school-by-school analyses and action plans for implementing technologies and strategies. This lets educators and administrators know where to direct their funding. “It’s a business intelligence platform written for schools,” says BrightBytes CEO Rob Mancabelli MBA ’12, who worked in the education sector for 15 years before co-founding the startup. “Instead of a return-on-investment, though, it’s a ‘return-on-learning.” Continue reading on Phys.org.

March 3, 2015

When Raghuram Rajan needed to pull up his socks

If you had dropped in at Asilo, the rooftop restaurant at Mumbai’s Palladium Hotel, on Wednesday evening, you would have thought that the eager, smartly-dressed crowd of 20-something professionals were waiting for a celebrity. Yes, they were indeed waiting for one, but of the bureaucratic kind — RBI governor Dr. Raghuram Rajan (MIT Sloan School of Management PH.D. recipient in 1991). Rajan was a guest speaker at an event organized by Green Batti Project, where young professionals mentor children from disadvantaged backgrounds.

Rajan said that while it’s important to cultivate entrepreneurs, there is also a need for sound mentors. Admiring the work the initiative was doing, Rajan spoke about an incident in his own life where he missed having a mentor. As a student in IIT, he had gone for a Rhodes scholarship interview, “where everybody’s ‘propah'”. He hadn’t given much thought to his clothes and went for the interview wearing white socks with a black suit. “I didn’t realize wearing mismatched socks was inappropriate for this kind of interview. Read more about Rajan’s address to these young professionals at The Economic Times. Photo by World Economic Forum 

March 2, 2015

Dhawan: How Connectional Intelligence Can Make You Successful

Erica Dhawan is the founder & CEO of Cotential, a global consultancy that accelerates the connectedness of employees, teams, customers and other stakeholders. Erica has spoken on global stages ranging from the World Economic Forum at Davos to companies such as Fedex, Pepsico, and McGraw Hill Financial. Her writing has been featured in Harvard Business Review, Forbes, Fast Company and the Huffington Post. She has a MPA from Harvard University, a MBA from MIT Sloan, and a BS in Economics from The Wharton School. In this interview, she talks about why “connectional intelligence” is the thoroughly modern skill we all need to develop to succeed today, some of the fascinating people who are utilizing it best, how she researched for the new book, and her best pieces of career advice. Continue reading about Dhawan’s advice regarding connectional intelligence on Forbes. Photo by World Economic Forum