Students and faculty rack up awards in 2011

MIT, as always, was a sci & tech powerhouse

4595 awards 2
Stephanie Lin ’12 won a Rhodes scholarship to study medical anthropology at Oxford University this year. She is majoring in biology.
Joseph Maurer—The Tech

MIT students, faculty, and alumni received various awards this year from some of the world’s most prestigious organizations.

In January, Institute Professor Emeritus Mildred S. Dresselhaus and Stanford Professor Emeritus Burton Richter ’52, were named winners of the Enrico Fermi Award by President Barack Obama. The Enrico Fermi Award recognizes scientists for lifetime achievement in energy development, use, or production. Dresselhaus has worked at MIT and Lincoln Laboratory for over 50 years, primarily studying condensed matter physics. She has also served as head of the American Physical Society. Richter was selected based on his work on electron-positron colliders, his leadership as director of the Stanford Linear Accelerator Center, and his national and international contributions in energy policy, according to the official award citation.

Also in January, Edward Boyden ’99, a McGovern Institute researcher, was named the first winner of the new A.F. Harvey Engineering Research Prize for medical engineering research. Boyden was recognized for his pioneering study in optogenetics.

Adam G. Riess ’92 won the 2011 Nobel Prize in Physics in October for his work in suggesting the existence of dark energy. Based on observations of supernovae, Riess showed in 1998 that the universe’s expansion was speeding up — which would require dark energy. He was awarded the Nobel Prize along with his team members Brian Schmidt and Saul Perlmutter, who presented similar findings in 1998. The three had previously received the 2006 Shaw Prize in Astronomy. Riess is currently a professor of physics and astronomy at Johns Hopkins University.

MIT biology professor Rudolf Jaenisch, founding member of the Whitehead Institute, was one of seven people named by Obama to receive the 2011 National Medal of Science. His research deals with epigenetic gene regulation — the biological processes that affect how genetic information is translated into cell structures without changing the genes themselves. The National Medal of Science is the highest honor for science in the United States. Jaenisch, who teaches 7.31 (Current Topics in Mammalian Biology: Medical Implications) and 7.82 (Topics of Mammalian Development and Genetics), holds several notable achievements, including the creation of the first transgenic mouse.

Current students also got recognition this past calendar year. In November, Stephanie Lin ’12, a Course 7 major, was awarded a Rhodes Scholarship. Lin plans to become an epidemiologist and government adviser on healthcare. She is among 32 Americans to receive the award this year and the most recent of 44 MIT students to have done so in the past.

Fulbright Scholarships for study abroad were also awarded in June to current and former MIT students. The Fulbright Scholarship aims to advance international partnership and covers the travel and living expenses for a year of study in other countries. The recipients were Tobias Harris G, a PhD candidate studying the politics of reform in Japan; Course 8 (Physics) student Anna Waldman-Brown ’11, who will use her award to study sustainable energy in Ghana; and Candace Wilson ’05, who was Course 6-1 (Electrical Science and Engineering) and is using her scholarship to study energy use in the Dominican Republic.

Last March, graduate student Alice A. Chen won the Lemelson-MIT Student Prize for her biotechnology work, using tissue engineering to make a mouse with a human-like liver. The award, which comes with a $30,000 prize, recognizes innovation by MIT seniors and graduate students.