News & Video

December 18, 2014

Apply for the Leland Energy Fellowship by Jan. 2!

The Mickey Leland Energy Fellowship (MLEF) Program provides students with an opportunity to gain and develop research skills with the Department of Energy’s Office of Fossil Energy for 10 weeks over the summer.  For 20 years, this program has increased awareness of DOE research opportunities to students pursuing STEM degrees (science, technology, engineering and math).  The goal of the program is to improve opportunities for women and minority students in these fields, however all eligible candidates are encouraged to apply.  Stipends start at $600 per week ($750 for masters students and $850 for PhD students) and eligible Fellows will receive an additional travel and housing allowance.  To be eligible, you must be at least 18 years of age at the time of application, a U.S. Citizen, have a cumulative GPA of at least 3.0, and be enrolled full-time at an accredited college or university (sophomore year or higher) or had a Ph.D. conferred on or after January 2nd, 2014 in a STEM degree.  The application closes on Friday, January 2nd, 2015!

December 17, 2014

How curiosity saved Keating’s life

MIT Mechanical Engineering PhD student Steven Keating shares how his innate curiosity shaped his personal experience as a cancer patient before, during, and after his 10-hour awake surgery to remove a baseball-sized IDH1-mutant brain tumor.

December 17, 2014

Nominate for the MLK Leadership Awards by Dec. 19

The Martin Luther King, Jr. Leadership Award is annually given to individuals or groups who embody his ideals and spirit in service to the community. Here, “service to the community” is defined broadly to include academic, research, religious, and secular contributions with integrity, leadership, creativity, and positive results. If anyone you know falls under this description, consider nominating them for the award. MIT alumni, undergraduate and graduate students, groups, faculty, and staff are all eligible. The deadline for nominations is Friday, December 19th. Please submit nominations to or to Tobie Weiner in Room E53-484. Members of the MLK celebration subcommittee of the Committee on Race and diversity will select awardees. Photo by InSapphoWeTrust.

December 17, 2014

ISO Holiday Open House through Dec. 19

The annual International Students Office Holiday Open house has begun and will continue through December 19th. There will be cider and cookies to spread holiday cheer! Please come and visit E39-278 any time. Have some fun with the people at the ISO and enjoy some goodies! Photo by esimpraim.

December 16, 2014

Azzarelli on new wireless chemical sensors

MIT chemists have devised a new way to wirelessly detect hazardous gases and environmental pollutants, using a simple sensor that can be read by a smartphone. These inexpensive sensors could be widely deployed, making it easier to monitor public spaces or detect food spoilage in warehouses. Using this system, the researchers have demonstrated that they can detect gaseous ammonia, hydrogen peroxide, and cyclohexanone, among other gases.

“The beauty of these sensors is that they are really cheap. You put them up, they sit there, and then you come around and read them. There’s no wiring involved. There’s no power,” says Timothy Swager, the John D. MacArthur Professor of Chemistry at MIT. “You can get quite imaginative as to what you might want to do with a technology like this.”

Swager is the senior author of a paper describing the new sensors in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences the week of Dec. 8. Chemistry graduate student Joseph Azzarelli is the paper’s lead author; other authors are postdoc Katherine Mirica and former MIT postdoc Jens Ravnsbaek. Continue reading on MIT News.

December 16, 2014

MLK Visiting Scholar Dr. James Mickens seminar Dec. 17

On Wednesday, December 17th, as part of the next installment in the MLK Visitors luncheon seminar series, Dr. James Mickens, MLK Visiting Scholar of Electrical Engineering and Computer Science, will be presenting on “Understanding Security Threats In Modern Web Browsers.” The seminar will take place from 12:00 to 1:30pm at MIT Sloan in E62-350, and lunch will be served. If you wish to attend, please RSVP to Shauna Bush-Fenty.

December 16, 2014

Welcome to the climate change converstation

The MIT Climate Change Conversation has officially been opened to the community, and everyone is encouraged to participate. The Committee on the MIT Climate Change Conversation has developed tools for everyone to get involved and share perspectives. One such way to do this is through the new Idea Bank, a place to provide insight and suggestions for the path MIT needs to take to deal with climate change. It is time to pull together the resources and brainpower in our community to confront this monumental problem of climate change. Photo by Mikael Miettinen.

December 15, 2014

Konermann devises technique to rapidly reveal gene function

Using a gene-editing system originally developed to delete specific genes, MIT researchers have now shown that they can reliably turn on any gene of their choosing in living cells. This new application for the CRISPR/Cas9 gene-editing system should allow scientists to more easily determine the function of individual genes, according to Feng Zhang, the W.M. Keck Career Development Professor in Biomedical Engineering in MIT’s Departments of Brain and Cognitive Sciences and Biological Engineering, and a member of the Broad Institute and MIT’s McGovern Institute for Brain Research.

This approach also enables rapid functional screens of the entire genome, allowing scientists to identify genes involved in particular diseases. In a study published in the Dec. 10 online edition of Nature, Zhang and colleagues identified several genes that help melanoma cells become resistant to a cancer drug. Silvana Konermann, a graduate student in Zhang’s lab, and Mark Brigham, a McGovern Institute postdoc, are the paper’s lead authors. Continue reading on MIT News.

December 15, 2014

Regeneron Prize for Creative Innovation: Submit nominations by Dec. 17

Submit nominations for the upcoming 3rd Annual Regeneron Prize for Creative Innovation! The Regeneron Prize recognizes and honors excellence in Biomedical Science conducted by graduate students and post-doctoral fellows. One winner will receive a check for $50,000 and their home institution will receive a donation of $5,000 to help support a new or existing seminar series. About 8 to 10 semi-finalists will receive $5,000. MIT will be submitting two graduate students candidates and two postdoctoral candidates for the competition, so nominate those who you think should compete!

A panel of MIT faculty will conduct an internal competition for the graduate student nominations for this prize. Each graduate program can submit one nomination for consideration for this internal MIT competition. The selection committee will then select two graduate finalists to be nominated to Regeneron for final review and consideration for this prize.  Applications must have a nomination form, the candidate’s CV, PDFs of the candidate’s publications (2-3 is sufficient), and a two-page research proposal describing a “dream” project that the candidate would want to do in the field of biomedical science. Read more

December 15, 2014

MIT Meridian Singers at Whitehead Dec. 15

It’s the holiday season and it’s the perfect time to gather around friends and family and spend time together listening to live caroling! On Monday, December 15th come hear the MIT Meridian Singers present “A-Caroling We Will Go: Carols Through The Ages.” Starting at noon in the Whitehead Institute auditorium, this concert will feature some classics that are sure to spread holiday spirit. Refreshments will be served! Photo by Sara Nelson.

December 12, 2014

Kim designs system to teach humans pattern recognition

Computers are good at identifying patterns in huge data sets. Humans, by contrast, are good at inferring patterns from just a few examples. In a paper appearing at the Neural Information Processing Society’s conference next week, MIT researchers present a new system that bridges these two ways of processing information, so that humans and computers can collaborate to make better decisions.

The system learns to make judgments by crunching data but distills what it learns into simple examples. In experiments, human subjects using the system were more than 20 percent better at classification tasks than those using a similar system based on existing algorithms. In particular, Shah and her colleagues — her student Been Kim, whose PhD thesis is the basis of the new paper, and Cynthia Rudin, an associate professor of statistics at the MIT Sloan School of Management — were trying to augment a type of machine learning known as “unsupervised.” Continue reading on MIT News.

December 12, 2014

Apply to the Volunteer Consulting Group by Dec. 15

The Volunteer Consulting Group (VCG) is organized by the Consulting Club at MIT (CCM) to give graduate students valuable experience and introduce them to consulting work. You will do a project in a small team with one of three local companies on a real business problem they have. Representatives from these companies will be available to the VCG team as needed. The program will run for 5 weeks starting January 5, 2015. After a first week of preparation (consulting/mini-MBA workshop and meeting with CEO of the company), you will need to commit approximately 8-10 hours per week for the following 4-week period of time, including two weekly meetings, one with the team and one with the host company.

 Any graduate student or postdoc at MIT who is interested in consulting, working with start-up companies or simply looking for a different, interesting experience is welcome to apply.

To apply, please send a 200-word statement of purpose to explaining how you would benefit from the VCG by Monday, December 15th, 2014. Also rank your preference for project #1, #2 and #3 (below). In the mean time you can address eventual questions to the CCM managers responsible for each project (listed below). Read more

December 12, 2014

Rueda Workshop Dec. 13

Learn to dance a Cuban form of salsa at the last Rueda workshop of the semester on Saturday, December 13th, 2014 from 2:00pm to 5:00pm in the Student Center, room 491.  No prior dance experience is necessary.  This workshop is free for MIT students.  Admission for all others in $5.  Visit the Facebook page for more information or contact

December 12, 2014

Musical comedy The Mikado playing through Dec. 13

Come see the MIT Gilbert & Sullivan Players’ production of The Mikado on Thursday, December 11th (8:00pm), Friday, December 12th (8:00pm), or Saturday, December 13th (2:00pm) in La Sala de Puerto Rico in the MIT Student Center.  Thursday is free for MIT and Wellesley students!  The Mikado is a truly hysterical tale of circumvention, blame-shifting, face-saving, excuses, scapegoats, and bald self-interest.  Reserve tickets online; tickets are also available at the door.

December 11, 2014

Mishra is making large biological circuits practical

Researchers have made great progress in recent years in the design and creation of biological circuits — systems that, like electronic circuits, can take a number of different inputs and deliver a particular kind of output. But while individual components of such biological circuits can have precise and predictable responses, those outcomes become less predictable as more such elements are combined.

A team of researchers at MIT has now come up with a way of greatly reducing that unpredictability, introducing a device that could ultimately allow such circuits to behave nearly as predictably as their electronic counterparts. The findings are published this week in the journal Nature Biotechnology, in a paper by associate professor of mechanical engineering Domitilla Del Vecchio and professor of biological engineering Ron Weiss.

The lead author of the paper is Deepak Mishra, an MIT graduate student in biological engineering. Other authors include recent master’s students Phillip Rivera in mechanical engineering and Allen Lin in electrical engineering and computer science. Continue reading the article on MIT newsphoto by Brian Teague

December 11, 2014

2015 HUD Innovation Competition deadline Dec. 18

The second annual HUD Innovation in Affordable Housing Student Design and Planning Competition challenges multi-disciplinary, graduate student teams to respond to a real life affordable housing design and planning issue. Multidisciplinary teams must be comprised of a minimum of three students (no more than five) plus one faculty advisor, representing at least three graduate level programs: architecture; planning or public policy; and business, real estate, or social entrepreneurship. Registration opens October 1, 2014 and closes December 18, 2014. To learn more and register visit the event website. The competition is sponsored by HUD’s Office of Policy Development and Research (PD&R).

December 11, 2014

Hannah Weinberger: Clap Slap! Dec. 11

Hannah Weinberger makes sounding objects using freely accessible samples gathered from the web, sourced in sound libraries, or recorded from social gatherings such as art openings.  Her new work builds on her interest in participation, auditory and visual modes of perception by combining different sonic objects that respond to movement throughout the space.  The participatory activation is the final public event for Open Tunings in which attendees will engage with Weinberger’s works to create a kind of collective performance.  The event will take place on Thursday, December 11th at 6:00pm in the reference gallery at the List Visual Arts Center.  Weinberger’s installation remains on view through Sunday, January 4th, 2015.  The event is free and open to all.

December 11, 2014

Don’t Study on Dec. 11!

Come to the MIT Interfaith Dialogue on Thursday, December 11th at 8:15pm in the Main Dining room of MIT Building W11 (at the corner of Amherst and Massachusetts Avenue).  Bring a topic to discuss or join one about what really matters.  What is the meaning of what I am learning?  Does what I am studying relate to who I am and what I believe?  What is my role as a citizen of this country and the world?  The sky is the limit!  Food and dessert will be available, and all are welcome.  Learn more online.

December 10, 2014

Markle’s data-gathering snow probe will help skiers avoid avalanches

To understand what’s under their feet in the backcountry, a skier or snowboarder relies on an old tool: digging a snow pit. On or near the slope a skier wants to descend, he digs a hole roughly five feet deep in the snowpack, with a vertical face to the uphill side. Then a series of loading tests with arcane names like Stuffblock or Rutschblock determines how stable the snowpack is.

It’s time-consuming, inexact work and relies entirely on subjective interpretation of the results. Get it wrong and, as Brint Markle and his friends were, you’ll be lucky to ski out alive. Last season, there were 35 avalanche deaths in the U.S. alone. (Even experienced pros get caught; in September, veteran extreme skiers J.P. Auclair and Andreas Fransson were killed in an avalanche in Chile.)

So when Markle enrolled at MIT’s Sloan School of Business, his business idea was to try to help people get it right. If the hardest thing about backcountry safety is understanding the snow, Markle thought, perhaps technology offered a way to get fast, objective snowpack data that could be easily shared with others. Read the article on Wired photo courtesy Avatech

December 10, 2014

Apply for the Science and Technology Policy Bootcamp by Dec. 12

The 2015 Science and Technology Policy Bootcamp will be held from Tuesday, January 20th to Friday, January 23rd, 2015, from 9:00am to 3:00pm on Monday through Friday and from 9:00am to 12:00pm on Friday.  This four-day seminar, taught by MIT Washington, D.C. Office Director William Bonvillian, will examine the policy decisions behind, and the government’s role in the science and technology based innovation system.  Given the challenges to future federal science support, this seminar will also aim to equip those planning careers in and around science and technology with the basic background for involvement in science policy-making.  Undergraduate and graduate students from all faculties are welcome.  Students must apply by Friday, December 12th, 2014 to be considered for the course.

December 10, 2014

Black Lives Matter dialogue Dec. 10

The Institute Equity and Community Office (ICEO), along with the Black Students Union (BSU), Black Women’s Alliance (BWA) and Black Graduate Student Association (BGSA), invite you to attend a panel discussion on Wednesday, December 10th from 5:00pm to 7:00pm in Wong Auditorium in the wake of recent events in Ferguson, Missouri and New York City.  The discussion will feature a panel of community activists, MIT faculty, and students, who will offer commentary on US systems of inequality based on race, as well as potential strategies to affect change in race relations at MIT and beyond.  Dinner will be provided, and all members of the MIT community are invited to attend.  Community members are encouraged to wear all black on the day of the event.  Follow-up conversations will take place at the Institute Diversity Summit, which will take place from 1:00pm to 5:00pm on both Thursday, January 29th and Thursday, February 12th, 2015.  Visit the website for more information.

December 10, 2014

GCF Christmas Party Dec. 12

On Friday, December 12th, the Graduate Christian Fellowship invites all to join in on the festivities to celebrate the birth of Christ and the end of the semester. Scrumptious food and treats will be provided along with fantastic singing and entertainment. The merrymaking begins at 7:30pm in Twenty Chimneys (W20-306), so don’t miss out! This event is co-sponsored by the Graduate Christian Fellowship and the GSC Funding Board. Photo by Moyan Brenn.

December 9, 2014

Assistive Technology Final Project Showcase Dec. 10

Come to the 6.811 Final Project Showcase on Wednesday, December 10th from 3pm to 5pm in 32-044! 6.811 (Principles and Practice of Assistive Technology) is a 12-unit project-based course in which small teams of students work closely with a person with disabilities in the Cambridge/Boston area to develop a practical product or solution that helps them live more independently. During the term, each team met with its client, iterated through multiple prototypes, and learned about the complexities of designing assistive technology (AT) for people with disabilities. Eleven projects will be on display and demonstrated, including a customized text-to-speech app for a woman with primary lateral sclerosis to communicate effectively, a pressure-sensitive glove that alerts its wearer if she’s about to lose grip strength, and an accessible iPad-based nurse call system for a wheelchair user with multiple sclerosis. Refreshments will be served at 3pm. RSVPs are appreciated!

December 9, 2014

Peter Thiel at MIT Dec. 9

Come see Silicon Valley entrepreneur, investor, and PayPal cofounder Peter Thiel on Tuesday, Decemnver 9th at 6:30pm in MIT Building E51, Wong Auditorium.  Thiel will give a talk entitled “Developing The Developed World”, where he will also speak about his #1 New York Times bestselling book Zero to One.  Zero to One presents Thiel’s often contrarian ideas about competition, progress, technology, and how to find value in unexpected places – to build a future that we have yet to dream, but will someday become reality.  “Developing the Developed World” brings these ideas to life, including his philosophies on creating truly innovative startups in the world of atoms – not just digits and bits, and how to navigate a future marked by globalization in a world of scarce resources.  Admission is free.  Online registration is encouraged.

December 9, 2014

Dessert and Board Game Night with GAME Dec. 10

Want to celebrate the last day of classes doing something fun with friends? Come to Dessert & Board game night with GAME (Graduate Association of Mechanical Engineers)! From 8pm to 10pm on Wednesday, December 10th in the Mezzanine Lounge (W20-307), go wild playing as many games as your heart desires. After gaming, head over to check out the provided desserts and hot chocolate and indulge your taste buds. It’s bound to be a great time! Photo by John Liu.

December 8, 2014

Hashim Sarkis named new Dean of SA+P

Hashim Sarkis — a prominent scholar of architecture and urbanism, a practicing architect whose works have been built in the United States and the Middle East, and a leading expert on design in the Middle East — has been named the new dean of MIT’s School of Architecture and Planning (SA+P), effective in January.

Sarkis is currently the Aga Khan Professor of Landscape Architecture and Urbanism in Muslim Societies at Harvard University’s Graduate School of Design (GSD). He has been on the Harvard faculty since 1998, and has been a full professor since 2002.

For the last dozen years, Sarkis has also served as director of the Aga Khan Program for Islamic Architecture at the GSD. The Aga Khan Program is located jointly at Harvard and MIT, and is a leading program for the study of architecture, urban issues, and visual culture in Islamic societies. He has taught courses and design studios in architecture and urban design that emphasize the importance of design in its cultural context across a broad range of geographic locations. Continue reading on the SA+P website.

December 8, 2014

Waste Alliance/Bioenergy lecture: Harvest Power Dec. 9

Brandon Moffatt, SVP of Harvest Power, will be speaking about the company’s projects and experiences on Tuesday, December 9th at 12:00pm in MIT Room 3-133.  Harvest Power builds anaerobic digesters to turn organic waste into renewable energy.  Brandon has extensive management and technical experience in the environmental, waste and renewable energy sectors.  He leads project execution with a background in corporate/project development including engineering design, permitting, commercial negotiations, feedstock procurement and corporate/project finance.  Please register for this event online.

December 8, 2014

One-Person Gestures Workshop Dec. 9

The One-Person Gestures Workshop actively involves the community in one of legendary artist Gustav Metzger’s recent proposals regarding the construction and long-term activation of spaces for social change.  Participants will divide into five thematic groups, led by moderators, and will discuss aspects of making the project a reality.  Discussions will address structural materials, dome contents, dome activities, and strategies for garnering the interest of the community around and beyond the dome.  The aim of the workshop is to develop a variety of ideas that take into consideration participants’ expertise as well as environmental considerations, communication strategies, and social inequalities.  There are still a limited amount of spots left to participate in this workshop, which takes place on Tuesday, December 9th from 10:00am to 3:00pm in MIT Room E15-001 (the ACT cube).  If interested, please email Ilse Damkoehler, Public Programming and Communications Assistant, at  You will receive a link to the application and a confirmation email once completed.

December 8, 2014

MIT Chamber Music Society Concert Dec. 8

Come enjoy a night of chamber music on Monday, December 8th in Killian Hall! Starting at 7pm, students in the MIT Chamber Music Society will be performing their concert for all to hear. Pieces include Shostakovich’s String Quartet No. 8 (1960), Hindemith’s Quartet for clarinet, violin, cello and piano (1938), Dvorak’s Piano Quintet in A Major, Op. 81 (1887), Lange’s Kleine Musik fur drei Floten (1938), and Tchesnokov’s Tableaux Feeriques (2008). Rejoice for this wonderful concert is free!

December 8, 2014

Plastic Paradise screening Dec. 9

Sidney Pacific and Ashdown Cherry Pie Society will co-host a film screening of Plastic Paradise, a multi-award-winning independent documentary film that uncovers and explains the marine plastic pollution crisis.  As the film discovers, “every single piece of plastic that has ever been created since the 19th century is still somewhere on our planet.”  The screening will take place on Tuesday, December 9th at 7:00pm in the Hulsizer Room of Ashdown House, and will be followed by an optional, thirty minute discussion.  Dinner will be provided.  Please RSVP online.

December 5, 2014

Vallabhaneni turns public health crisis into economic opportunity

“This is no different than working in a start-up in Silicon Valley,” said Ani Vallabhaneni, a member of a multi-disciplinary team from MIT that is heading to Kenya and launching the company “Sanergy” – a contraction of sanitation and energy. “Initially, yes, the salaries aren’t market rate. But you take what you need to live, right? So, in terms of student loans, rent, food and beer.”

Vallabhaneni and his team developed a business plan for turning a public health crisis into an economic opportunity. Some 2.6 billion people in the world lack basic sanitation, according to the World Health Organization, and the MIT students think they can help change that.

Some pretty important people agree: The team won the MIT 100k Entrepreneurship Business Plan Contest, a highly prestigious annual competition that brings together students from business, engineering, and architecture. Read the article on PRI.

December 5, 2014

Gustav Metzger’s Dome(s) Project Lecture Dec. 8

Patrick Charpenel and Daniela Pérez will introduce the life and work of the artist Gustav Metzger on Monday, December 8th at 7:00pm in MIT Room E15-070.  The aim of the lecture is to share Gustav Metzger’s project in Mexico with the MIT community in order to openly discuss the deep urgency and obligation around environmental challenges facing the world today. The lecture is proposed as a platform for conversation that aims to bring together intellectual and creative strengths that individuals from various backgrounds can provide.  The project itself explores questions regarding environment, climate change, architecture, humanity, biodiversity, consciousness, natural resources, science, technology, food, sustainability, the future, and art, among other topics.  For more information, visit the ACT website.

December 5, 2014

Holiday Parties at Eastgate and Westgate Dec. 7

Two holiday parties will be held on Sunday, December 7th at 6:00pm!  The Eastgate Winter Party will take place in the Eastgate Penthouse with delicious food, gifts for kids, and a special visit from Santa Claus!  The Westgate Holiday Party will take place in Morss Hall in Walker Memorial.  These parties are open to all members of the MIT community.  Santa will also be present with gifts for the kids.  Register online.

December 4, 2014

Dietrich makes a flying car

The first time Carl Dietrich brought his flying-car concept to the Experimental Aircraft Association’s annual AirVenture gathering in Oshkosh, Wisconsin, he had only a video to show the aviation geeks who wandered by his modest stall. The following year, he brought the mock-up of a wing. Six years later, in July 2013, he was finally ready to fly the prototype.

A year after that triumphant flight in Oshkosh, Dietrich, 37, sits in his sparsely decorated office at Terrafugia’s modest headquarters behind a Best Western in Woburn, Massachusetts. He says he first proposed a flying car as a doctoral candidate in aeronautical engineering at the nearby Massachusetts Institute of Technology, where he partnered with a pair of Sloan School of Management students and two other engineers (including the woman who’s now his wife) to win second place in the 2006 MIT $100K Entrepreneurship Competition. That same year, Dietrich also won a $30,000 Lemelson-MIT National Collegiate Student Prize, part of which he put toward that initial trip to Oshkosh, where he met his first angel investors and even signed up prospective buyers. Read the article on Bloomberg.

December 4, 2014

Now Hiring: MSRP PA applications due Dec. 22!

The Office of the Dean for Graduate Education is now hiring Program Assistants (PAs) for the MIT Summer Research Program (MSRP), where talented undergraduate students spend a summer on MIT’s campus working in a research laboratory.  PAs provide mentorship and facilitate a positive research experience for approximately 50 summer students, commit to 20 hours per week from June 9 to August 8, 2015, as well as five training sessions in the spring, and receive a $5,000 stipend for 10 weeks, paid weekly (here is a full job description).  To apply, complete the online application by Monday, December 22nd at 5:00pm, and then email your transcript to  For more information, please contact Dean Eboney Hearn at or by phone at (617) 253-9462.


December 4, 2014

How To Address Micro Inequities Workshop Dec. 5

On Friday, December 5th, from 12pm to 1:30pm, the MIT Latino Employee Resource Group is hosting a workshop on handling micro inequities titled How To Address Micro Inequities: Small Actions, Big Impact. Taking place in NE 18 on the 9th floor of 1 Cambridge Center (Over the Chipotle in Kendall Square), this workshop will be 12pm to 1:30pm. Please bring MIT ID to access the building. Because attendance is limited, please RSVP. Lunch will be provided. All ERG events are open to all members of the MIT community. Photo by Jon.

December 4, 2014

Townsend lecture on matrices Dec. 4

The MIT SIAM-CCE Seminar Series continues with Alex Townsend, who will speak on Thursday, December 4th at 4:00pm in MIT Room 56-114.  He will give a lecture about continuous analogues of matrix factorizations.  A fundamental idea in matrix linear algebra is the factorization of a matrix into simpler matrices, such as orthogonal, tridiagonal, and triangular. In this talk we extend this idea to a continuous setting, asking: “What are the continuous analogues of matrix factorizations?” The answer we develop involves functions of two variables, an iterative variant of Gaussian elimination, and sufficient conditions for convergence. This leads to a test for non-negative definite kernels, a continuous definition of a triangular quasimatrix (a matrix whose columns are functions), and a fresh perspective on a classic subject.

December 4, 2014

ISS Sweet Sixteen Party Dec. 5

Celebrate the 16th birthday of the International Space Station with the ESD Student Society!  The party will occur on Friday, December 5th, 2014 from 6:00pm to 8:00pm in the Sidney Pacific Multipurpose Room.  Experience weightlessness (sort of) in our bouncy castle.  Light snacks will be served and there will be a cash bar.  Contact for more information.

December 3, 2014

Deborah Fitzgerald to step down as SHASS dean

At the end of the academic year, June 2015, Deborah Fitzgerald will be stepping down from her position as Dean of the School of Humanities, Arts, and Social Sciences. Staying at MIT, she will be returning to the faculty in the Program in Science, Technology, and Society to continue with teaching and research. Since 2007, Fitzgerald has led SHASS to establish itself as a contributing member to the institute, broadening the potential for academic excellence across various departments, centers, and programs at MIT. Much of her work has gone into improving the structure of undergraduate education requirements in the humanities, arts, and social sciences, creating a more well rounded academic experience for future endeavors in any career. To read more of Dean Fitzgerald’s accomplishments, continue reading on MIT News.

December 3, 2014

Marine plastic pollution seminar with Marcus Eriksen, PhD Dec. 3

On Wednesday, December 3rd from 5pm to 6pm in E51-325, attend a special seminar on marine plastic pollution that asks, “What can floating an airplane across the Pacific Ocean on 15,000 plastic bottles tell you about the world’s garbage patches?” This seminar title refers to the most recent adventure of the seminar speaker Marcus Eriksen, PhD, which sent him and a colleague across the Pacific Ocean from California to Hawaii on JUNK, a homemade raft made up of 15,000 plastic bottles with a Cessina airplane fuselage as a cabin. The journey, 2,600 miles in 88 days, drew widespread awareness to the work of the 5 Gyres Institute and the “throw away” culture that has trashed the world’s oceans with plastic to the tune of 270,000 metric tons from 5.25 trillion particles. A majority of what people eat, drink, or use in contemporary society comes packaged in petroleum-based plastic – a material designed to last forever yet used for products that we throw away after a single use. During this seminar, Eriksen, Director of Research & Co-Founder at 5 Gyres Institute, will present results from field studies on the current state of the science of plastic marine pollution, including results from the upcoming global estimate of total plastic abundance – the first of its kind. With a focus on solutions, Eriksen will discuss how freshwater research discovered microbeads, which led to legislative victories within one year of publication. Refreshments will be served before the seminar at 4:30pm. Please RSVP for this event!

December 3, 2014

Winter Bike Fest Dec. 5

On Friday, December 5th, come to Winter Bike Fest 2014! Starting at 2pm, say hello to PN2K, meet other cyclists, and enjoy a variety of perks and activities brought to you by PN2K in the first floor of the Student Center. Get free minor bike repairs and tune-ups from Bike Boom, learn about bike safety (especially on winter cycling), and take advantage of a pressure washer to blast off grime and prepare your bikes for the winter. There will be music. There will be refreshments. It’s sure to be a good time, so make sure to stop by before the end at 6pm! Photo by O.Taillon.

December 2, 2014

Heyman sells Bureh Belts made in Sierra Leone

Three years ago Daniel Heyman was the younger half of a duo of expatriate researchers dubbed the ‘Hardy Boys’ in Freetown. Today Heyman, an MBA candidate at MIT Sloan Business School, is the front man for a social fashion enterprise that employs Sierra Leoneans to make Africana belts under the brand ‘Bureh’. The company takes its name from the legendary temne warrior Bai Bureh and a beach on the peninsular of the same name. Half of the company’s revenues will go back into investing in local startups. Heyman and his two partners, one from Sierra Leone and another from SA, were able to raise capital of $10,000 for Bureh LLC via crowd funding on Indiegogo. The belts are made by tailors and blacksmiths in Freetown, some of whom are disabled. Read the rest of the article on Swit Salone.

December 2, 2014

IMES Lecture by Dr. Stuart L. Schreiber Dec. 3

On Wednesday, December 3rd, the IMES Distinguished Speaker Series invites you to attend a lecture by Dr. Stuart L. Schreiber: Integrating chemistry and biology to discover small-molecule therapeutics. This lecture will illustrate examples of the evolving role of organic chemistry in therapeutics science relating to infectious disease and cancer. A pre-seminar reception will be held in E25-119 at 4pm, followed by the lecture at 4:30 in 32-155. Dr. Stuart L. Schreiber is the Director of the Center for the Science of Therapeutics and one of four founders of the Broad Institute, where he is a Howard Hughes Medical Institute Investigator. A member of the National Academy of Sciences, Schreiber is also the Morris Loeb Professor of Chemistry and Chemical Biology at Harvard University. Photo by

December 2, 2014

Pretty Faces: The Story of a Skier Girl screening Dec. 2

Want a study break and think watching a movie sounds good? On Tuesday, December 2nd at 7:30pm, come to a free screening of the film Pretty Faces: The Story of a Skier Girl in 26-100! With a focus on female skiing, this film shows what it means to be a girl carving her own path out on the snow covered slopes. To watch the trailer and read more about the film, check out Vimeo. Photo by Trysil.

December 2, 2014

Campus Happiness Day Dec. 2

On Tuesday, December 2nd, you are invited to participate in Campus Happiness Day! This special day’s purpose is to promote happiness through meditation, celebration and belongingness among all. At 7pm in E51-115, join over 2000 students across the world in Simultaneous Meditation. After meditating, head to the Yoga-Dance Party in the ZCenter T-club Lounge at 8:15pm to start off with a rhythmic yoga practice and move into an ecstatic dance party! This event is open to the entire MIT Community. Bring your friends and de-stress before finals! Photo by Diane Main.

December 1, 2014

Plehn-Dujowich: the top 10 most profitable businesses in America

Kevin Sheetz, the CEO and co-founder of Powerlytics, a company focused on using Big Data to deliver “trusted, actionable financial intelligence to manage risk and find growth opportunities”, put forth a new analysis on industry profitability and delivered a straightforward infographic showing the top 10 results… and these results might surprise you.  Powerlytics’ other co-founder (and Chief Research Officer), Jose Plehn-Dujowich, spend the last 10 years engaged in academic research and consulting with public and private entities on applications using the same datasets around which Powerlytics has been founded. Jose has a B.S. in management science, information technology from MIT Sloan School of Management, a B.S. in economics from MIT and a Ph.D. in economics from the University of Chicago. Read the article on VizWorld.

December 1, 2014

Kaufman Teaching Certificate Program Registration opens Dec. 1

The Teaching and Learning Lab will be offering the recently re-named Kaufman Teaching Certificate Program (KTCP) again in Spring 2015.  This workshop series is for students and postdocs interested in developing their teaching skills to support their teaching at MIT, as well as those who are planning careers in academia.  To earn a certificate, students must participate in 7 classroom workshops and two videotaped teaching/lesson presentations.  Registration is required and will open at 9:00 a.m. on Monday, December 1st online.  Space is limited and sections fill very quickly!  For any questions about the program, please contact Leann Dobranski at

The Spring Program kicks off on Friday, February 6th, with the first workshop: Students as Learners, You as Teacher. There will be eight (8) sections offered, with one reserved for students in non-science/engineering departments. Read more

December 1, 2014

iAmbassador event Dec. 2

Join the Technology and Policy Student Society in celebrating several of the international cultures represented by our classmates at the iAmbassador event for Turkey, Pakistan, and Kazakhstan on Tuesday, December 2nd, 2014 in MIT Room E40-380.  Lunch will be served.  This event is open to the MIT community.  Contact for more information.

December 1, 2014

GradRat Ring Delivery Social Dec. 1

Ready to finally get your GradRat? Come to the GradRat Ring Delivery Social on Monday, December 1st from 5:30 to 7pm! There will be chocolate fountains, desserts, beer, and wine (21+) to enjoy with all of your friends and classmates as you pick up your rings, try them on, or order new ones! Free goodies will be provided, of course, including t-shirts and stylus pens.

November 28, 2014

Workshop in ESL IAP course: Lottery opens Dec 1

21F.217 Workshop in Strategies for Effective Learning (ELS) is a 3-unit, for-credit mini-module for international teaching assistants that covers special problems in teaching when English is a second language and the USA is a second culture.  The class will meet Monday through Friday, January 12th through 16th, 2015 from 2:30pm to 5:00pm in MIT Room 14N-225.  This class is limited to 14, so there will be a lottery for enrollment.  The lottery will be available here starting at 9:00am on Monday, December 1st, 2014 and will run until 5:00pm on Friday, December 5th.  Students are expected to attend all sessions.  The instructor will be A.C. Kemp.

November 28, 2014

ART21 Screening: Fiction Dec. 2

Come to a free screening on Tuesday, December 2nd at 7:00pm in Bartos Theater (Weisner Building, E15, 20 Ames Street, Cambridge, Massachusetts) to celebrate the newest season of ART21: Art in the 21st Century, the award-winning documentary series that showcases contemporary art and artists. The episode “Fiction” examines how artists tell compelling stories.  How do artists disrupt everyday reality in the service of revealing subtler truths?  This episode features Joan Jonas, Katharina Grosse and Omer Fast who explore the virtues of ambiguity, mix genres, and merge aesthetic disciplines to discern not simply what stories mean, but how and why they come to have meaning.  We are pleased to screen this presentation featuring MIT Professor Emerita Joan Jonas, who will represent the United States in the 2015 Venice Biennale.  Curated by Paul C. Ha, Director of the MIT List Visual Arts Center and commissioner for the project; and Ute Meta Bauer, currently the Director of the Centre for Contemporary Art (CCA) at the Nanyang Technological University in Singapore and previously the Founding Director of the Program in Art, Culture, and Technology (ACT) at MIT, Jonas’s installation for the U.S. Pavilion in May 2015 will be an exceptional moment in her longstanding career.

November 26, 2014

Inter-American Dialogue honors Salvador Paiz

Fighting violent crime, reducing malnutrition, helping children learn to read and getting rid of corrupt judges – any of these would be commendable goals to pursue in one of Latin America’s poorest countries. Last Thursday, Guatemala’s Salvador Paiz received the Inter-American Dialogue’s Award for Civic Engagement for his success in all of these areas. Paiz is co-chairman of Grupo PDC and chairman of Fundación Sergio Paiz Andrade (Funsepa).  Paiz’s company is a holding company with interests in distribution and real estate finance throughout Central America. The young entrepreneur, who’s also a member of the board of Walmart Mexico, has a bachelor’s from the University of Pennsylvania’s Wharton School and an MBA from the MIT Sloan School of Business. Read the article on The Tico Timesphoto by Larry Luxner

November 26, 2014

Apply for StartIAP 2015 by Dec. 1

Not yet sure what to do this coming IAP? Want to participate in hands-on workshops on topics such as customer development, legal responsibilities, and fundraising taught by industry experts like Bill Aulet? Apply for the StartIAP Bootcamp! StartIAP is an accelerator that lasts for all of IAP that allows students to take a concept and develop their skills on the way to turning it into a company. For more information, visit the StartIAP websiteApplications are now open and due December 1stPhoto by Tom Stohlman.

November 26, 2014

Thanksgiving Movie Night: Xiu Chun Dao Nov. 29

Staying at school this Thanksgiving weekend? Going to be exhausted after Black Friday shopping? Take a break and chill on Saturday, November 29th by watching a kungfu movie called Xiu Chun Dao! The screening will be in 4-231 at 7:30pm and will have English subtitles. Snacks and drinks will be provided! Check out the trailer!

November 26, 2014

ISA Thanksgiving Dinner Nov. 28

Join the International Students Association (ISA) for a Thanksgiving dinner on Friday, November 28th! The feast will begin at 7pm in W4 (McCormick Dining Room). It will be the real deal. There will be Turkey, mashed potatoes, pumpkin pie, and all of the other delicious components that make up the classic Thanksgiving feast, and there will be plenty. Come and stuff your belly! An entrance fee of $5 will be charged at the door. Photo by David Goehring.

November 25, 2014

Lee makes safety alert system for Jawbone health tracker

The Clinton Foundation brought together a number of innovators on Sunday, each looking to weave together technology, education and health in a codeathon to solve issues around women’s health. Four locals – Ying Cao, a Harvard University Health Services psychiatry fellow; Val Lee, an MBA candidate in the MIT Sloan School of Management; Nathaniel Roysden, a Harvard Medical student; and Dushyanthi Pieris, a Ruby on Rails Developer – came together at the event to take home first place, capitalizing off the technology platform of the Jawbone fitness tracker, one of the sponsors. The program, called, would allow users to sent out discrete alerts to emergency contacts by using the Jawbone wristband. Read the rest of the article in the Boston Business Journalphoto by Ben Sisto

November 25, 2014

Apply for the Caltech Space Challenge 2015 by Dec. 15

The Caltech Space Challenge 2015: Design the Next Human Spaceflight Mission will be from March 22-27, 2015 at Caltech in Pasadena, CA. Applications are due December 15, 2014. Design a human mission to extract resources from a redirected asteroid in lunar orbit! Thirty-two students, split into two teams, will be invited to Caltech to participate in a 5-day mission design competition supported by JPL scientists, Caltech faculty, and industry professionals.  Undergraduates and graduate students from universities around the world are encouraged to apply.  Expenses will be covered during the competition, and partial travel reimbursement will be provided. For more details, visit here. Please email questions to

November 25, 2014

ART21 Screening: Secrets Nov. 25

Come to a free screening on Tuesday, November 25th at 7:00pm in Bartos Theater (Weisner Building, E15, 20 Ames Street, Cambridge, Massachusetts) to celebrate the newest season of ART21: Art in the 21st Century, the award-winning documentary series that showcases contemporary art and artists.  The episode “Secrets” examines how artists make the invisible visible.  What hidden elements persist in artists’ work?  Is it the artist’s role to reveal them, or not?  Featured in this episode is artist Trevor Paglen, who completed a residency project at the List in 2011 which culminated in the project The Last Pictures.  Discover the work of artists Elliot Hundley and Arlene Shechet as well.

November 24, 2014

Bauer manipulates materials with voltage

A new way of switching the magnetic properties of a material using just a small applied voltage, developed by researchers at MIT and collaborators elsewhere, could signal the beginning of a new family of materials with a variety of switchable properties, the researchers say. The technique could ultimately be used to control properties other than magnetism, including reflectivity or thermal conductivity, they say. The first application of the new finding is likely to be a new kind of memory chip that requires no power to maintain data once it’s written, drastically lowering its overall power needs. This could be especially useful for mobile devices, where battery life is often a major limitation.

The findings were published this week in the journal Nature Materials by MIT doctoral student Uwe Bauer, associate professor Geoffrey Beach, and six other co-authors. Beach, the Class of ’58 Associate Professor of Materials Science and Engineering, says the work is the culmination of Bauer’s PhD thesis research on voltage-programmable materials. The work could lead to a new kind of nonvolatile, ultralow-power memory chips, Beach says. Continue reading on MIT News.

November 24, 2014

Improving Graduate Student Financial Literacy

Finances are a key aspect of graduate school, and graduate student financial literacy is a topic of increasing discussion nationally. The Office of the Dean for Graduate Education (ODGE) is committed to enhancing graduate student financial knowledge to support informed and effective decision-making regarding financial support, budgeting, and long-term planning. In this article, we will discuss practices for promoting graduate student financial literacy that graduate programs have found useful, the resources available to MIT graduate students, and possible new avenues to increase graduate student financial literacy. Continue reading the article in the MIT Faculty Newsletter.

November 24, 2014

“Bike Lights, Camera, Action!” Nov. 25

Like bikes? Like lights? Like parties? Come to the bike lights dance party on Tuesday, November 25th! From 4pm to 6pm in front of the MIT Student Center, dress up in lights and party before the Thanksgiving break. Have a good time with friends learning about bike safety, brought to you by MIT PN2K, as you enjoy refreshments and jam out to music. This event is in partnership with Planet Bike.

November 21, 2014

Marvin E. Goody Award application deadline Dec. 1

Submit an application for the Marvin E. Goody Award! This award of $5,000 is given to an MIT graduate student in any department at MIT who is expecting to complete his or her Master’s thesis or the equivalent (i.e., M.Eng., SM, MCP, SMBT, SMArchS, M.Arch) in June 2015. The aims of the award are to extend the horizons of existing building techniques and use of materials, to encourage links between the academic world and the building industry, and to increase appreciation of the bond between good design and good building. To be appropriate for the Goody Award a thesis proposal must address one or more of these stated aims. To apply, submit an application form, resume, thesis proposal, two letters of recommendation, and a budget indicating the proposed use of funds. The application deadline is December 1, 2014 and the winner will be announced on December 17, 2014. For an application form and further information, please visit the grant website or visit the Headquarters of the Department of Architecture in room 7-337. Photo by chocogato.

November 21, 2014

Food Drive at the Animal Rescue League Nov. 23

Would you like to help animals in the Boston area?  Sort food for feral cat colonies and get a our of the Animal Rescue League…as well as cupcakes!  We will be sorting donated food and handing it out to colony caretakers on Sunday, November 23rd from 3:00pm to 5:00pm at the Animal Rescue League of Boston, 10 Chandler Street.  Following the event, we will go to South End Buttery for a snack!  There is also an opportunity to distribute flyers in the South End area with an ARL dog helper on November 15.  Please contact Brandy Dixon ( for more information or to volunteer!  Also, visit the website.

November 21, 2014

Survey: Grad Student Experience at MIT

The Baker Foundation and the Institute Community and Equity Officer (ICEO) are working together to learn about student experiences at MIT.  Please take this survey for a chance to win up to $50.  One student will win a $50 gift card, and two students will each win a $25 gift card.  If you choose to enter the lottery for one of these prizes, your Kerberos ID will not be associated with your survey responses.

November 20, 2014

Kotru develops approach to small, stable atomic clocks

A group at MIT and Draper Laboratory has come up with a new approach to atomic timekeeping that may enable more stable and accurate portable atomic clocks, potentially the size of a Rubik’s cube. The group has outlined its approach in the journal Physical Review A. While chip-sized atomic clocks (CSACs) are commercially available, the researchers say these low-power devices — about the size of a matchbox — drift over time, and are less accurate than fountain clocks, the much larger atomic clocks that set the world’s standard. However, while fountain clocks are the most precise timekeepers, they can’t be made portable without losing stability.

“You could put one in a pickup truck or a trailer and drive it around with you, but I’m guessing it won’t deal very well with the bumps on the road,” says co-author Krish Kotru, a graduate student in MIT’s Department of Aeronautics and Astronautics. “We have a path toward making a compact, robust clock that’s better than CSACs by a couple of orders of magnitude, and more stable over longer periods of time.” Continue reading on MIT News.

November 20, 2014

Falzonic Research Ensemble and Grammar Nov. 20

Come to the next showcase in the Ampersand Concert Series on Thursday, November 20th, at 8:00pm (door open at 7:30pm) in Bartos Theater, Wiesner Building E15, 20 Ames Street, Cambridge, Massachusetts.  Falzonic Research Ensemble, featuring members of the band Vio/Mire, will perform a live score for the absurdist short film “For Reasons Unknown” by Providence/LA filmmaker Mike Formanski.  Local Somerville band Grammar will open the night with mellow pop and calming visuals created specifically for the performance.  Tickets are available for purchase at the door.  Only cash will be accepted, at $3 with an MIT ID and at $5 for general admission.  Ampersand, a collaborative concert series presented by WMBR and the List Visual Arts Center, showcases contemporary music in Bartos Theater on MIT’s campus.

November 20, 2014

Online Adaptive Model Reduction for Nonlinear Systems Nov. 20

On Thursday, November 20th at 4pm, come to 56-114 for the next segment of the MIT SIAM-CCE Seminar Series: Online Adaptive Model Reduction for Nonlinear Systems. Benjamin Peherstorfer of MIT AeroAstro will be discussing his work and experience with the subject.

This work presents a nonlinear model reduction approach for systems of equations stemming from the discretization of partial differential equations with nonlinear terms. The approach constructs a reduced system with proper orthogonal decomposition and the discrete empirical interpolation method (DEIM); however, whereas classical DEIM derives a linear approximation of the nonlinear terms in a static DEIM space generated in an offline phase, our method adapts the DEIM space as the online calculation proceeds and thus provides a nonlinear approximation. The online adaptation uses new data to produce a reduced system that accurately approximates behavior not anticipated in the offline phase. Interested? For more, attend to the seminar!

November 20, 2014

“We Are One” Community Mixer Nov. 21

On Friday, November 21st, student health groups will put on a mixer called We Are One: Building a Better MIT Through Conversation in the Bush Room from 11 to 2pm to encourage discussion about wellness and promote empathy and understanding within the community. Many conversations about the tragedies over the last few months and our reactions have occurred behind closed doors—in administrative offices, at student club meetings or on dorm room floors—and the purpose of this mixer is to bring the conversation out in the open for those who have things to say. It will be a safe space and environment where students, faculty and staff alike can talk with each other about stress and mental health and think about how MIT can better support community members who are struggling.

By breaking down the barriers to interaction, MIT community members will gain a better understanding of each other. Please join as everyone comes together to share experiences and find the similarities that define us all. Finding these common threads is the first step in rebuilding a stronger, healthier, and more united MIT. If you are available on November 21st anytime between 11 and 2, please stop by the Bush Room to chat! It’s fine to come for just a little while if you can’t stay the whole time. Additionally, if you are aware of any other MIT community members who would like to be part of this conversation, please feel free to pass the information along! Photo by Jesslee Cuizon.

November 19, 2014

Ippolito improving health care through macro-engineering

Andrea Ippolito, a second-year graduate student in the Engineering Systems Division, 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. 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.

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. 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. Continue reading on MIT News.

November 19, 2014

Immigration Law Workshop with Start-up Focus Nov. 19

Are you an international student working on a start-up?  Would you like to know more about visa and immigration options that would allow you to work on your venture?  Come to the Immigration Law Workshop on Wednesday, November 19th from 6:00pm to 8:00pm in the Stata Center, MIT Room 32-155.  Boston’s best law firms will be in attendance to share tips and insights on immigration law for start-up co-founders.  Food and desserts from Boston’s North End will be provided.