Profs’ Summers Have Travel & Work

2231 vacations
Professor of Biology Robert A. Weinberg’s New Hampshire cabin and garden. Just like students, MIT Professors enjoy all kinds of interesting work and leisure in the summer.
Robert A. Weinberg

MIT professors spend their summers on European excursions, quiet New England retreats, and studies that encapsulate both work and play.

While MIT students are accustomed to seeing their professors in a purely academic setting, these educators’ summer vacation stories show professors also have lives outside of the Institute.

Materials Science Professor Donald R. Sadoway, instructor of 3.091, Introduction to Solid State Chemistry, returned on July 1 from a trip to Milan, Italy. Sadoway described his Italian experience as a mix of “business and pleasure.”

Sadoway journeyed to Italy to present research concerning MIT’s Energy Initiative to an Italian oil and natural gas company, Eni. He was accompanied by a dozen or so MIT faculty and remained in Milan a couple of days to report on his research.

Sadoway traveled with his wife Rebecca. He remained in Italy for five days after the energy conference to tour the Italian sights.

Among Sadoway’s summer activities were hiking in the Dolomites, an Italian mountain chain. Part of the Alps, the Dolomites are a popular site for skiing and mountain climbing.

Sadoway also saw the Pink Floyd Ballet presented at Milan’s La Scala Opera House. Although surprised by the production, Sadoway remarked that he got to experience an enjoyable combination of performance and modern dance.

Sadoway intends to remain at MIT for the rest of the summer, with occasional trips to the Cape in August.

Additionally, Sadoway will be attending a workshop in California to present his battery research. Overall, Sadoway describes his summer experiences as involving travel related to MIT business with vacation attached.

Christopher J. Terman, an instructor for 6.02, Introduction to Electrical Engineering and Computer Science II, also had a European itinerary. Terman took a Girl Scout troop to France during the week before the fourth of July.

Professor of Biology Robert A. Weinberg ’64, who co-teaches 7.012, Introductory Biology with an emphasis on cell biology and genetics, will remain in the Northeast this summer. Whether in his parents-in-law’s farm in Vermont or, more recently, in a cabin that he shares with his wife in woody New Hampshire (see photo, right), Weinberg spends his summer days split between biology work and leisure. He tends his garden and makes repairs around the house in his free time.

Some, like Broad Institute Founding Director and Biology Professor Eric S. Lander, who teaches 7.012 with Weinberg, have not yet solidified their summer plans. While Professor Lander intends to work out family plans for late August, he has not yet made specific arrangements.

Although various MIT professors are spending time traveling this summer, Sadoway said that the economy has had a definite effect on his travel plans. He mentioned that his short trips are nothing like the month-long learning and vacation experiences he’s enjoyed in previous years, citing a two-month-long trip to Japan as an example.

Sadoway says is that there is less discretionary spending now. Everyone, he believes, feels the need to be fiscally cautious given the state of the economy.

Whereas Sadoway previously went to conferences both to present his own research and to learn about others, now he limits his time to very specific instances of discussing his MIT research. Sadoway said cutting back on traveling was unfortunate. Learning hands-on and applying research are just as important for professors as studying the established academic knowledge in their fields.

Sadoway said that, although the Internet is a great resource for knowledge and learning, “there is no substitute for human contact.