News & Video

January 27, 2015

Wong’s vision system for household robots

For household robots ever to be practical, they’ll need to be able to recognize the objects they’re supposed to manipulate. But while object recognition is one of the most widely studied topics in artificial intelligence, even the best object detectors still fail much of the time.

Researchers at MIT’s Computer Science and Artificial Intelligence Laboratory believe that household robots should take advantage of their mobility and their relatively static environments to make object recognition easier, by imaging objects from multiple perspectives before making judgments about their identity. Matching up the objects depicted in the different images, however, poses its own computational challenges.

In a paper appearing in a forthcoming issue of the International Journal of Robotics Research, the MIT researchers show that a system using an off-the-shelf algorithm to aggregate different perspectives can recognize four times as many objects as one that uses a single perspective, while reducing the number of misidentifications.

Read more at MIT News as PhD student and lead author on the new paper, Lawson Wong, talks about the project. Photo by John Boyd.

January 27, 2015

The Trick to Being a Prolific Scholar

I am most productive as a writer on days when I wake up before the crack of dawn and get an hour of writing in before everyone in the house is awake and and, most important, before checking email or social media. I know several highly productive academics – some of them chairs, deans, and provosts – who do the same thing. For people with administrative duties, that is often the only time they have to write.

You don’t have to wake up at 5 a.m. to be a prolific scholar. You do have to write however. And nearly all of the prolific academics I have met are daily writers. Daily writing is one of the most important strategies I can recommend to boost your productivity. Theresa MacPhail calls daily writing a “no-fail secret to writing a dissertation.” That advice is just as crucial for new (and older) faculty. It’s also backed up by research. Read more of Tanya Golash-Boza’s article on Vitae. Photo by Christopher.

January 27, 2015

Institue Diversity Summit – Jan. 29 & Feb. 12

On two upcoming days — January 29 and February 12 — MIT will hold its annual Institute Diversity Summit, to share experiences candidly and listen to one another in a spirit of understanding and kindness. One highlight will be opening remarks by MIT’s Institute Community and Equity Officer, Ed Bertschinger, who will discuss what he learned through an MIT listening tour and share his thoughts about building our strength in community, diversity, empowerment and respect. Each day will have registration 12-1pm and the program 1-5pm in Kresge and the Student Center. Visit the Institute Community and Equity Office website for a complete itinerary and to register. Photo by Frerieke.

January 26, 2015

Volunteer reviewers needed for IDEAS Global Challenge Jan. 29 & Feb. 3

From 6-8 pm, Thursday, January 29 and Tuesday, February 3 the IDEAS Global Challenge is requesting volunteer reviewers for the Round 2 Scope Statements submitted by teams working on innovative projects to help benefit the world. No prior experience is required, just good critical thinkers interested in helping teams strengthen their projects! Great opportunity to use your skills and knowledge for social good, with a minimal time commitment. Reviewers would be responsible for reading and commenting on about 4 brief proposals and attending two meetings in person (Jan. 29 and Feb. 3). Contact Keely at to arrange a quick training or with questions.

January 26, 2015

Advancing toward the equality of women and men Jan. 27 & 29

What is identity? How is it defined by our current society? What role does it play in the pursuit of gender equality? Come explore these and other related topics at 7-9pm, January 27 & 29, in a roundtable discussion over a meal. Light dinner will be provided on both nights. Dinner will be held in Room 4-144 on both nights. Organized by the MIT Baha’i Club and the U.S. Baha’i Office of Public Affairs and Sponsored by GSC. For more information contact shraayai@mit.eduPhoto by Nietnagel.

January 23, 2015

Family Day Sculpted Paper Workshop Jan. 24

Explore the art of paper sculpture on Family Day with your children on Saturday, January 24 at the Westgate Lounge (W85). Families can work together to create a hands-on artwork and take it home. The morning session from 10-11:30 am is for children under 5 years old, and the afternoon session is from 1-2:30 pm for children over 5. The event is free and open to all! Emaili with any questions. Photo by Wellsbring 

January 23, 2015

What are your values? Jan. 24

Ehsan Afkhami and Sahar Hakim-Hasemi ’13 will be hosting the seminar What are your values? They create your life… on Thursday, January 24, from 10:00 am – 1:00 pm. This free seminar is designed to help participants align their personal values with their goals so they can live happier lives and contribute to others in a fulfilling way. The workshop will take place in 4-237 and will have interactive exercises and audience discussions. Remember to register for this event if you would like to attend. Photo by cybrarian77

January 23, 2015

Beginner tango bootcamp, Jan. 24-25

1-5 pm, January 24 – 25 in room 36-112 Robin Thomas will be instructing an intensive two day introduction to Argentine Tango designed to get you from no dancing to tango in two quick days. No dance partner or experience is required, but space is limited and the bootcamps have been wilding popular in the past so be sure to sign up now! Light refreshments are provide. Wear comfortable clothing and pivotable shoes. For more information and to register visit the Argentine Tango Club’s website.

January 23, 2015

Graduate ice skating social Jan. 24

Saturday, January 24, from 2-4pm enjoy ice skating, at the Johnson Ice Rink, with other graduate students on campus. Free hot drinks and snacks will be provided. Skate rentals at Johnson Ice Rink is subsidized, but limited to 50, first come first serve. Contact  for more information.

January 22, 2015

Dura watches how cells interact

The immune system is a complex network of many different cells working together to defend against invaders. Successfully fighting off an infection depends on the interactions between these cells. A new device developed by MIT engineers offers a much more detailed picture of that cellular communication. Using this device, which captures pairs of cells and collects data on each as they interact with each other, the researchers have already learned more about how T cells — major players in the immune response — become activated during infection.

The device is based on microfluidic technology developed by Joel Voldman, an MIT professor of electrical engineering and computer science (EECS), in 2009. His team used that earlier version to fuse adult cells with embryonic stem cells, allowing the researchers to observe the genetic reprogramming that occurred in these hybrids. Read more at MIT News, as graduate student and lead author on the new paper, Burak Dura, talks about her research.

January 22, 2015

Discover and Practice Your Inner Art Jan. 22

On Thursday, January 22, Ehsan Afkhami and Sahar Hakim-Hasemi ’13 will be leading a free workshop designed to help you recognize and develop your inner art in 56-114 at 6:00 pm. The workshop consists of self-discovery exercises and many peer-to-peer interactions that will help you create a fulfilling, personalized professional path. Pre-register if you’re interested, or email if you would like more information. Photo by Doug Brown 

January 22, 2015

Learn about the art of persuasion with Dr. Jean-luc Doumont Jan. 22

Dr. Jean-luc Doumont is back, and he’s ready to deliver his phenomenal presentation on communication skills in his seminar, Persuading Others, this IAP! He will be teaching all interested students the key to persuasion and the different persuasion tactics we might need to land a new job or get others to respond to our requests more easily. His presentation will take place on Thursday, January 22, from 2:00-4:00 pm in 10-250. Remember to register in advance if you’re interested. Photo by reihayashi

January 21, 2015

MIT students represented in Forbes “30 under 30″

Forbes recently released its “30 under 30″ lists for 2015. For its fourth annual celebration, the publication has selected 600 movers, makers, and game changers in 20 fields — all under the age of 30. This year’s lists are populated with numerous MIT faculty, students, and alumni. Check out MIT News for a complete list of students honored, and see the MIT Alumni Association’s Slice of MIT for a complete list of alumni honorees.

January 21, 2015

Application for the Clean Energy Prize due Feb. 8

The MIT Clean Energy Prize is a multi-stage, student-organized business plan competition in which teams compete for a $250,000 Grand Prize and category prizes. University teams from across the United States enter their business ideas in one of three categories: Energy Efficiency Renewable, Energy Infrastructure, and Resources. 15-21 semifinalists receive cash prizes, access to mentors and other resources to help develop their startups into world-changing companies. Semi-final entries must be submitted no later than February 8, 2015 at 11:59 pm EST. Late entries will not be considered. Visit the MIT Clean Energy Prize website for more details on the competition and how to submit a project. Contact with any questions.

January 20, 2015

Breaking the Mold SWIM Conference Feb. 6

Breaking the Mold is an initiative by MIT SWIM (Sloan Women in Management) aimed at starting a conversation about unconscious bias. The Breaking the Mold Conference on Friday, February 6th, starting at 8am in the MIT Media Lab, will foster a conversation about unconscious bias and developing approaches to manage them on the road towards equal opportunities. The Keynote Speakers of the night will be Robin Chase (Founder of Zipcar & Buzzcar) and Jan Fields (former President of McDonald’s). Panel topics will include: bias against men, role of media in perpetuating stereotypes, bias across industries, and relationship-building at work. For more information and ticket sales visit the Breaking the Mold website.

January 20, 2015

Fixit Clinic Jan. 24

Saturday, January 24 from 12:00-3:00 pm, fix your broken stuff — Or at least learn more about it disassembling it. Bring your broken, non-functioning things — electronics, appliances, computers, toys, etc.– to the third floor of building N51 for assessment, disassembly, and possible repair. We’ll provide workspace, specialty tools, and guidance to help you disassemble and troubleshoot your item. Whether we fix it or not, you’ll learn more about how it was manufactured and how it worked. This is a family-friendly event: children are heartily invited! The event is free, but preregistration is required. Register here. More information on the event here.

January 16, 2015

Position available on the Campus Sustainability Task Force

The Offices of the Executive Vice-President and Treasurer is looking for a graduate student to serve on the newly formed Campus Sustainability Task Force. If you are interested, please submit your resume and a brief statement by Friday, January 23rd to

The Campus Sustainability Task Force’s primary activities include:

  • With guidance from the Steering Committee, initiate a process to agree upon a shared and actionable vision for campus sustainability at MIT through 2025, and design a roadmap for achieving this vision.
  • Facilitate collaborative activities with faculty, students and staff across MIT’s departments, laboratories, and centers to advance the overarching goal of using the campus as a living lab for sustainability.
  • Review outcomes and recommendations from the Sustainability Working Groups coordinated by the Office of Sustainability, and present recommendations and findings to the Steering Committee for endorsement.
  • Attend Task Force meetings which are anticipated to meet on a monthly basis.

For any question on the application itself, please e-mail the GSC Vice-President

January 16, 2015

Najafi: Toward quantum chips

A team of researchers has built an array of light detectors sensitive enough to register the arrival of individual light particles, or photons, and mounted them on a silicon optical chip. Such arrays are crucial components of devices that use photons to perform quantum computations.

Single-photon detectors are notoriously temperamental: Of 100 deposited on a chip using standard manufacturing techniques, only a handful will generally work. In a paper appearing today in Nature Communications, the researchers at MIT and elsewhere describe a procedure for fabricating and testing the detectors separately and then transferring those that work to an optical chip built using standard manufacturing processes.

In addition to yielding much denser and larger arrays, the approach also increases the detectors’ sensitivity. In experiments, the researchers found that their detectors were up to 100 times more likely to accurately register the arrival of a single photon than those found in earlier arrays. Read on at MIT News as graduate student and first author on the new paper, Faraz Najafi, talks more about building the detectors.

January 15, 2015

Maimon’s app saves teachers time and offers immediate feedback

As a teaching assistant at the MIT Sloan School of Management in 2010, Amit Maimon MBA ’11 witnessed the origins of a technological phenomenon: Smartphones and tablets had started creeping into the classroom in the hands of students. But instead of dismissing these devices as distractions, Maimon saw a way to leverage them to help teachers get a better idea of what students grasp during lectures.

That year, Maimon co-developed Socrative, an app that lets teachers design or select premade quizzes for students to answer, publicly or anonymously, on personal mobile devices during lectures. The app is now being used by about 1.1 million teachers and millions of students across the globe. Read on here. Photo by Allegra Boverma.

January 15, 2015

Coping with Criticism

Despite cutting my teeth writing for a daily newspaper, where critiques are often brief and harshly worded, I still react a tad poorly to editorial suggestions. First, I rant and rave; then I feel a little depressed that my writing wasn’t up to par; and finally, I sulk and eat an inordinate amount of snacks. I allow myself to go through that process because it gives me the much-needed time and space to get over the initial shock of being told that the thing I worked so hard on isn’t perfect. Of course it isn’t. It never is.

In some form or another, I’ve been a writer for more than 20 years. And in that time, I’d like to think I’ve learned a thing or three about the craft, art, and (often frustrating) process of writing. And one of the things I’ve learned is how to cope with, and benefit from, criticism. Read more of Theresa MacPhail’s article on VitaePhoto by Jeffrey James Pancres.

January 15, 2015

Grad community fellow positions open for Spring term

Join a cadre of graduate students who work on projects that enhance grad community in unique ways. Create cool data visualizations, or support the REFS program (Resources for Easing Friction and Stress) Positions will be filled on a rolling basis. Receive a monthly stipend while you gain experience.

Positions available:

  • Data-Visualization: Blacks at MIT History Project
  • iREFS (Institute-wide Resources for Easing Friction and Stress)
  • Resources for Easing Friction and Stress (REFS)

For more information on the listed positions, visit the ODGE website or contact Photo by Nietnagel.

January 14, 2015

STPI Science Policy Fellowship Program: Apply by Jan. 30

The Science and Technology Policy Institute (STPI) is a congressionally chartered, federally funded research and development center operated by the Institute for Defense Analyses (IDA). STPI provides analytical support to the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy, the National Science Foundation, the National Institutes of Health, and other federal departments and agencies on science, technology, and innovation policy issues. The STPI Science Policy Fellowship Program provides recent bachelor’s or master’s degree recipients a unique opportunity to use their critical thinking and analytic skills to work on a diverse set of challenges in science and technology (S&T) policy areas. Fellows will work with a team of researchers to support a wide variety of S&T policy-related tasks. Over the course of the two-year program, experiences will include:

  • Training on specific analytical methods and tools
  • Mentorship from senior staff with extensive policy-related experience
  • Ongoing colloquia series on topics related to S&T policy
  • Attending and presenting at select professional society meetings

More info, including qualifications and application materials, can be found here. Ensure the application and supporting materials are submitted no later than January 30, 2015.

January 14, 2015

Multicultural conference Feb. 6-7

The mission of the Multicultural Conference (MC^2) is to bring students together across race, ethnicity, gender, religion, nationality, socioeconomic status, ability, sexual orientation, and other aspects of cultural identity. The conference offers a provocative day and 1/2 of workshops, speakers, community building, action, and reflection centered on issues of culture, identity, and social justice at MIT and beyond.

At the conference, we will facilitate an honest, open, and interactive dialogue about the cultural climate at MIT, learn from people’s experiences, and develop plans to cultivate a campus environment that promotes equality, not simply tolerance. As MIT’s mission statement clearly promotes a diverse campus community, it is crucial for students to discuss the role of diversity and inclusion in education and campus life. Find more information or register.

January 13, 2015

Andrea Ippolito: Hacking Healthcare

A few blocks from the main hall of the South by Southwest Interactive festival on a sunny March morning, a healthcare hackathon is in progress. Having attended more than a dozen such gatherings, Andrea Katherine Ippolito, a biomedical engineer by training, can rattle off a long list of companies spawned at one of MIT’s previous Hacking Medicine events—a list that includes Pillpack, Smart Scheduling, Podimetrics, RubiconMD, Twiage, Eagle Health Supplies, and HermesIQ. Ippolito is a PhD student at Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Hacking Medicine’s codirector for 2013–2014 (along with fellow MIT student Allison Yost), and now a Presidential Innovation Fellow working with the Department of Veterans Affairs. Read more about the hackathons at HealthLeaders Media.

January 13, 2015

Schmidt-MacArthur Fellowship opportunities: Apply by Feb. 3

MIT has partnered with the Ellen MacArthur Foundation to take part in the annual Schmidt-MacArthur Fellowship, a graduate fellowship on the circular economy for design, engineering and business students. The circular economy refers to an industrial economy that is restorative by intention; aims to rely on renewable energy; minimizes, tracks, and hopefully eliminates the use of toxic chemicals; and eradicates waste through careful design.

The Schmidt-MacArthur Fellowship is a fellowship program for graduate students and their faculty mentors on creative and innovative thinking around the circular economy. The program takes a multi-disciplinary approach with input across design, engineering and business. It is developed and run in partnership with a Core Team of three leading UK academic institutions – Cranfield University, Imperial College London and London Business School.

To apply, nomination packages should be sent by February 3, 2015 at 5pm electronically to ODGE Manager of Graduate Fellowships, Scott Tirrell ( Packages should include: academic transcript, CV, link to Youtube video on circular economy, letter of support from academic mentor indicating their willingness to attend the week-long summer school at Cranfield University, in the UK, 22 – 26 June 2015, and completed student agreement (attached).

For more information visit here or email

January 12, 2015

IAP Course ESD.S21 User-Centered Design Approaches for an Aging Society

This IAP check out ESD.S21: User-Centered Design Approaches for an Aging Society. In this course, explore real-world issues related to population aging and develop solutions using user-centered design approaches. Engage in hands-on projects with practitioners and researchers from multiple industries and related fields. This class is open to graduate and undergraduate students from all departments and will take place in 66-160 every week day from Tuesday, January 20th to Thursday, January 29th, 10am-12:00pm each day. Pre-registration on WebSIS is requested. For more information, please visit the class website.

January 12, 2015

GetFit 2015 registration now open

It’s that time again. Time for what’s become an annual wintertime tradition at MIT. You know, the one that keeps us stronger, healthier, and better looking than Harvard, Wellesley, and Boston College combined? Well, okay, maybe just stronger and healthier? That’s right! Register now for MIT Medical’s annual fitness challenge, getfit@mit! Get your team of five to eight members registered before the end of the day on January 29, and get ready for all the fun, camaraderie, perks, and potential prizes that come with participation. The challenge begins on February 2. Looking for teammates? Connect with others in the find-a-team forum. More info here. Get ready, get set, get fit!

January 9, 2015

Science Hack Day Boston Jan. 24-25

Come to Science Hack Day Boston on Saturday and Sunday, January 24th and 25th, 2015 in the MIT Media Lab.  Have fun at this free hackathon devoted to anything science-related.  Build cool stuff, and eat free food.  MIT students are welcome to invite non-MIT friends, too!  All participants must register for the event.  Contact for more information.

January 9, 2015

Stay warm this winter

As the temperatures continue to drop this week, we seek your help in keeping our campus warm and trouble-free with these cold weather tips:

Please use the revolving doors whenever possible to keep warm air in the buildings and cold air out. Use of revolving doors conserves energy and keeps our buildings warmer than use of swing doors that lets heat and energy escape.

Before you leave each day, please make sure that all windows and doors are shut securely. This will help avoid problems such as freezing and broken pipes.

If you notice any door or window that cannot close properly, please report the location via one of these methods:
1.) Contact our Customer Service Center at 617-253-4948
2.) Visit Atlas and submit a Service Request
3.) Use the MIT Mobile app and select the “Bldg Services” icon
4.) Send a text message with the location and a photograph to

Find more info on the Facilities website. Photo by Tom Burke.

January 8, 2015

Graduate students power Scope website

Discover the emerging voices in science writing online at ScopeScope, the superb online publication of students in the MIT SHASS Graduate Program in Science Writing, publishes graduate student videocasts, news and feature articles, essays, book reviews, and radio podcasts. Students in the class of 2014-15 are: Rachel Becker, Christina Couch, Cara Giaimo, Michael Greshko, Anna Nowogrodzki, Sarah Schwartz, Joshua Sokol and Annie Tague. Their stories can be found here.

January 8, 2015

Green Climate Fund internship opportunities: apply by mid-Jan.

The Green Climate Fund (GCF) announces internship opportunities open for (Masters and PhD) students and recent graduates. GCF internship program is designed for talented and motivated individuals skilled in areas relevant to GCF’s operations. The program allows selected candidates to gain insight into the work of GCF and provides assistance and training in various professional fields in a multicultural environment. The interns will be based at GCF’s headquarters in Songdo, Incheon City, Republic of Korea.

Please refer to here for more information on the organization and the specific vacancies. Most of the current internship vacancies are due mid to end of January 2015. However, there is also an ongoing internship roster where students are welcome to send their applications at any time. The applicants are to send their CVs and cover letters For more information about the Green Climate Fund visit their website.

January 8, 2015

CityDays: MLK Jr. Day, Jan. 20 (Register by Jan. 13)

CityDays: MLK Day is a one-day volunteer opportunity for all members of the MIT community. The Public Service Center will secure service placements and provide logistical support for all participants. All you have to do is register and show up Tuesday, January 20! Lunch will be provided to participants. Students, staff, and faculty are encouraged to sign up as a group or as individual participants. Register here by 12 pm, January 13. Volunteers will serve at either the Greater Boston Food Bank, Cradles to Crayons, or the Community Art Center.


January 7, 2015

Marchese on soft robotic fish

Watch as Andrew Marchese, a graduate student in MIT’s Department of Electrical Engineering and Computer Science, helps to explain his soft robotic fish and why soft robotics have the potential to outperform hard robots in some tasks.

January 7, 2015

The Habits of Highly Productive Writers

Many writers I know love Joyce Carol Oates—some even refer to her as JCO, as if she were a brand as recognizable as CBS or BMW. But just as often, the mention of her name is met by groans and complaints about how much she’s written. Her productivity seems like an affront.

When someone’s doing a lot more than you, you notice it. It brings out your petty jealousy. And if you’re like me (occasionally petty and jealous), it might make you feel crappy about yourself. Which is, let’s face it, ridiculous. No one else’s achievements take anything away from yours, or mine. The fact that another writer is working hard and well should be nothing more than inspiration, or at least a gentle prod.

So I started to think about the practices of highly productive writers. What are the personality traits and habits that help people crank out the pages? Here are a few that occur to me:

Continue reading the article in The Chronicle of Higher Education photo by Drew Coffman

January 6, 2015

Lee receives Materials Research Society Graduate Student Award

Jinhyuk Lee, Graduate Student at Massachusetts Institute of Technology, was recently awarded the Materials Research Society Graduate Student Award for a presentation on Materials Challenges for Energy Storage Across Multiple Scales at the MRS 2014 Fall Meeting in Boston. PhD candidate, Lee, won the gold award for his work on high-capacity disordered Li-excess cathodes for Li-ion batteries.

The MRS Graduate Student Awards are intended to honor and encourage graduate students whose academic achievements and current materials research display a high order of excellence and distinction. MRS seeks to recognize students of exceptional ability who show promise for future substantial achievement in materials research. Emphasis is placed on the quality of the student and his/her research ability. Read more on Lee’s research can be found on MIT News.

January 6, 2015

Communicating science through film Jan. 14 & 15

Drawing on examples from her broad experience, join Dena Seidel at 12 pm in room 54-915 as she gives two talks on creatively using film to communicate science to broad audiences.

“Creative Ocean and Earth Science Filmmaking”
Using examples of her own award winning films, January 14, Seidel will speak about ways oceanographers and atmospheric scientists can collaborate with filmmakers to create engaging documentaries about their research for large audiences.

“Communicating Your Research to the Public Through Film”
Public understanding of the work scientists do is essential for continued research funding and attracting young people to STEM fields. On January 15, hear how filmmakers and researchers can work together to create narratives that engage the larger public in science learning.

January 5, 2015

Business of Robotics IAP workshop Jan. 26

Are you interested in separating hype from opportunity in robotics?  Come to this one-day intensive workshop during IAP, The Business of Robotics (15.S62), featuring a panel of experts from industry, mature robotics companies, startups, accelerators, and more.  The workshop will take place on Monday, January 26th, 2015 from 9:30am to 5:30pm in MIT Room e62-233.  Enrollment is limited to 105, so sign up here!

January 5, 2015

Film screening and artist talk by Redmond Entwistle Jan. 10

Join Redmond Entwistle 4pm, January 10 at the Bartos Theatre (E15 Lower Level), as he presents and discusses four of his film works created between 2000 and 2009. The works include:

  • Belfast Trio (Tea at Four O’Clock/The Hollow Ball/The Apprentice), composed of three three-minute films, combines a soap opera scenario with footage of Belfast’s redevelopment efforts and interviews with professionals from its film and IT industries, precisely those creative economies through which the city hopes to draw investment.
  • Satellite is composed of a broken tracking shot that traces the architecture around an intersection in Toronto, exploring the function of the storefront and gallery space in the economies of contemporary art.
  • Paterson-Lodz considers the history of labor and immigration in Paterson, New Jersey and Lodz, Poland by exploring the role of these cities’ Jewish populations in the Lodz insurrection of 1905 and the 1913 Paterson Silk Strike.
  • Social Visions uses interviews, panoramic photographs, and media reports to explore the layers and disjunctures in the experience and image of the city.

The event is free and all are welcome.

December 31, 2014

Ranger and 3Q: Hacking Ebola health care

Bryan Ranger, a third-year doctoral student in the Harvard-MIT Health Sciences and Technology program, was the student lead for MIT’s participation in the weekend event Stop Ebola Hackathon (Dec. 13-14). The event was sponsored by the Massachusetts General Hospital (MGH) Center for Global Health, MIT Hacking Medicine, and other organizations. It drew more than 100 participants, who heard from front-line medical workers about their experiences dealing with the Ebola outbreak in West Africa, and then spent the weekend in teams attempting to devise ways of addressing the hardships and issues of working against a deadly disease under difficult conditions. MIT News asked Ranger to describe the organization and the outcome of the weekend hackathon. Read more, including Ranger’s interview, at MIT News.

December 31, 2014

Networking Seems So Sleazy

People changing jobs often turn to their own network of professional contacts for leads. Richard Bolles, in his well-known career guide, What Color is Your Parachute?, says that tactic has a 33 percent success rate. But it’s a particular challenge for Ph.D.’s in search of a nonacademic career, because they often have a limited professional network outside of academe.

In my role as a career coach, I hear about this challenge all the time from graduate students and postdocs looking to leave higher education. Here are the most frequent barriers they confront, and some tips on how to overcome them.

“I don’t know anyone outside of my field and my department.” Students who make that statement often seem to assume that their academic colleagues and mentors don’t know anyone in the world of practice either. And that may be true. But especially if your Ph.D. is in a field that has related jobs in business or industry, your faculty may have contacts beyond the academy that can serve as leads into a new career.

Continue reading on Chronicle Vitae.

December 31, 2014

OneMIT takes off

MIT Sloan students and administrators are collaborating on a new Institute initiative. In his 2012 inaugural address, MIT President L. Rafael Reif challenged the Institute to work together as “One MIT” to address the world’s greatest challenges. MIT Sloan students — working with administrators and other graduate students across campus — have taken up the gauntlet with the launch of the OneMIT initiative, a multifaceted effort to connect graduate students across all five schools.

“It’s very much a joint initiative, backed not only by MIT Sloan but the Institute, and supported with groundwork being done by the students,” says Jake Cohen, who oversees student services as MIT Sloan’s senior associate dean for undergraduate and master’s programs. “We strongly believe that the world’s most challenging problems cannot be solved by one discipline alone.” Read more at MIT News.

December 30, 2014

IAP Course 15.339: Distributed Leadership Workshop

Interested in developing your leadership capabilities through group discussions, exercises, and reflection? Spend some time this IAP participating in 15.339 (Distributed Leadership Workshop), the same course offered to senior executives through Sloan executive education! This 3-day class is open to graduate students from all MIT departments. The schedule will be 8:30am to 6:00pm on Days 1 and 2 and 8:30am to 3:30pm on Day 3, with everything held in E62-233. Three sessions will be available for the class: Jan 6-8, Jan 13-15, and Jan 27-29. To learn more or express your interest in taking the course, visit the course interest formPhoto by Pedro Ribeiro Simões.

December 30, 2014

The Foundry at MIT

Within the Department of Materials Science and Engineering lives a place where students can come and put their materials knowledge into practice. The Foundry at MIT provides a space for students, like second year grad student, Zachery Cordero, faculty and staff to come innovate, create and get their hands dirty in the process. Photo by Stephen Scott Jenkins

December 29, 2014

2015 Legatum Fellowship: Apply by Jan. 22

The Legatum Center seeks entrepreneurs who aspire to have a lasting and positive economic impact on low-income countries by developing their own entrepreneurial ideas and building their own local enterprises. The Fellowship is open to all incoming and current MIT graduate students, and students currently enrolled as sophomores and juniors at MIT.  The application deadline is January 22, 2015. For more information on the Legatum Fellowship and how to apply, please visit here. Email Kwadwo Poku at if you have questions.

December 29, 2014

IAP MIT Flute Ensemble: “The Institooters!” Jan. 5 – 29

Jan. 5 to Jan. 29 on Mondays and Thursdays in room 4-160 join “The Institooters” Flute Ensemble. Improve your flute playing skills, whether rusty or not! Perform fun, beautiful music from the 16th-21st centuries, in a variety of styles. Bass flute, alto flutes and piccolos will be made available. Intermediate to Advanced Levels. Preferably prior experience in a music ensemble. Contact with any questions. Photo by Michael Coleman

December 24, 2014

Lee & McKnelly: New Marvin E. Goody Award Winners

Juney Lee and Carrie McKnelly were recently announced as the 2015 Marvin E. Goody Award winners. Lee, M.Eng. in Civil and Environmental Engineering degree candidate, was granted this award for his thesis proposal “Structural Design Explorations using Grammatical Graphic Statics” while McKnelly, SMArchS Design and Computation degree candidate, for her proposal “Knitting Behavior: Discovering Performance Driven Forms with a Material-Based Design Computation”. Both explore the bond between good design and good building through extending the horizons of existing building techniques and materials, and foster links between the academic world and the building industry.

December 24, 2014

Use Improv to improve interview & communication skills Jan. 15

This IAP, learn improv comedy skills to increase your comfort responding to interview questions and enhance communication and team work skills. This will be a fun and interactive session with Improv Boston, a local Boston improv company. This workshop is especially helpful for those who feel uncomfortable while interviewing or speaking in public.  The session will take place January 15, 2015, from 3:00 – 4:30 PM in 4-153. Registration is required via CareerBridge. For questions, contact Jake Livengood at GECD:

December 23, 2014

Eddy theorizes what really killed the dinosaurs

Sixty-six million years ago, an asteroid more than five miles wide smashed into the Earth at 70,000 miles per hour, instantly vaporizing upon impact. The strike obliterated most terrestrial life, including the dinosaurs, in a geological instant: Heavy dust blocked out the sun, setting off a cataclysmic chain of events from the bottom of the food chain to the top, killing off more than three-quarters of Earth’s species — or so the popular theory goes.

But now scientists at MIT and elsewhere have found evidence that a major volcanic eruption began just before the impact, possibly also playing a role in the extinction.

The team, including graduate student Michael Eddy, precisely dated rocks from the Deccan Traps — a region of west-central India that preserves remnants of one of the largest volcanic eruptions on Earth. Based on their analysis, the researchers determined that the eruption began 250,000 years before the asteroid strike and continued for 500,000 years after the giant impact, spewing a total of 1.5 million square kilometers of lava. The immense and long-lasting volcanism may have released dangerous levels of volatile chemicals into the air, poisoning the atmosphere and oceans. Read more at MIT News.

December 23, 2014

Help students in 6.S187: Code for Good this IAP

Want to help out with 6.S187 (Code for Good) this IAP? Code for Good is an IAP class where MIT students are working on software related projects with nonprofits organizations nearby. The class is looking for graduate students or professors who may be interested in taking some time to teach workshops or mentor student teams. The time commitment is up to you. You can have an hour-long talk or workshop, help out for the entire course, or anything in between. More information about the projects that are being working with is available on the class website. Visit the website for more information about the class, and contact us at if you’re interested in helping out with the class.

December 22, 2014

IAP 2015: Patent Law Fundamentals

Learn about the fundamentals of U.S. Patent Law with Jeff Meldman in 15.S51, a special seminar in management to take place during IAP 2015.  The class will take place from 2:00pm to 4:00pm in MIT Room E62-250 on January 12, 14, 16, 21, 23, 26, and 28th.  Topics include requirements of utility, novelty, and non-obviousness; eligible subject matter; patentability of software, business methods, and human genes; the patent application process, including patent searching and the language of patent claims; infringement, defenses, and remedies.  The class will also examine critical changes introduced by the recent America Invents Act (first to invent versus first to file), and clarify the relation of patents to other forms of intellectual property (copyrights, trade secrets, and trademarks).  Visit the MIT Stellar website for more information.

December 22, 2014

Grad Hillel Chanukah party Dec. 23

Celebrate the last night of Chanukah with MIT Hillel, all are welcome! Join us for candle lighting at 6 PM on Tuesday, December 23rd in the W11 Main Dining Room, followed by games and food including FREE latkes, sufganiyot (doughnuts), beverages, and gelt. Contact with questions.

December 19, 2014

Burt, Brain Power, and Google Glass

MIT Sloan students are collaborating with a Cambridge startup to transform how people with autism interact with their families, teachers, and caregivers.  The students are working with Brain Power LLC, which develops a range of software applications that run on Google Glass. The applications provide a “gamified” environment its developer says allows autistic children to engage the outside world and measure their growth. The MIT Sloan students are spending a semester researching the market opportunities and obstacles to the product’s success.

Steve Burt, MBA ’15, a member of the team working with Brain Power, volunteered with autistic children at the Boston non-profit Best Buddies before arriving at MIT Sloan. Burt said he was eager to work with an enterprise involved with autism at a critical moment its development. “I am very interested in getting involved in real companies, to make a real difference,” Burt said. “This is an opportunity I don’t know if you’d get anywhere else.” Burt and his MIT Sloan colleagues—Steve Fuller, LGO ’15, Arturo Romero, SF ’15, and Keisuke Suzuki, SF ’15—get this opportunity through Healthcare Lab, one of 16 MIT Sloan Action Learning programs. Each lab stresses learning by doing, matching teams of students with businesses to help solve their complex problems. Read more at MIT Sloan.

December 19, 2014

The Confidence Gap in Academic Writing

“As a writing workshop instructor, I’ve become familiar with the garden-variety problems that graduate students face in writing a dissertation. Often those difficulties boil down to an avoidance of the daily grind of writing itself. Sometimes students lack any concrete feedback on their drafts or receive comments that are too general to be of much help in the revision process. Many students are unfamiliar with the tricks and tools of the writing trade itself – things like reverse outlines, free writing, or “storyboarding.”

My role is to help graduate students with the technical aspects of writing. But as I have counseled more and more of them, I have noticed a disturbing trend. While all of my students had trouble finding their voice or sticking to a writing schedule, some of my female students seemed to have an additional – and less technical – problem: a crippling lack of confidence. After a year of working intensely with Ph.D. and master’s candidates, I slowly realized that my female students were more likely than the men to feel as if something was fundamentally lacking about either their projects or their skills.” Continue reading at Chronicle Vitae.

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 18, 2014

5000 Moving Parts Exhibit extended through Jan. 19

The 5000 Moving Parts exhibit at the MIT Museum has been extended through January 19th, 2015! Come spend some time this winter admiring the kinetic art created by talented artists. Kinetic art revolves around motion, the dynamic that moves our everyday lives. Works include Machine with Breath, a collaborative piece of artwork created by Arthur Ganson and sound artist Christina Campanella. Don’t miss out!

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).