MIT entered 2013 expecting to face federal funding cuts for research due to the sequester, and high-level MIT officials searched for ways to keep our research thriving, saying we could handle the cuts better than other affected institutions. The difficulties we could not have anticipated, however, shook our community at many levels as we navigated through an especially turbulent 2013.
Internet activist Aaron H. Swartz committed suicide on Jan. 11, 2013, igniting a firestorm of discussion over the Internet — where he was regarded as something of a folk hero — and triggering questions regarding the prosecution, MIT, and JSTOR’s involvement in United States v. Aaron Swartz.
MIT’s Ludwig Center for Molecular Oncology, housed within the Koch Institute for Integrative Cancer Research, has received a gift of $90 million from Ludwig Cancer Research to study metastasis, the spread of cancer from a primary tumor to other parts of the body. In FY2013, MIT received $58 million research funds from non-profits, according to the treasurer’s report.
The Electrical Engineering and Computer Science Department (Course 6) has agreed to fund a third month of paid maternity leave for its female graduate students, beyond the two-month maximum through the Office of the Dean for Graduate Education (ODGE). The new policy will become effective in Spring 2014, according to department head Anantha Chandrakasan.
Eric Grimson PhD ’80, Chancellor of MIT since 2011, will leave the Chancellorship and take on the ad hoc role of Chancellor for Academic Advancement, President L. Rafael Reif announced in an email to the MIT community Tuesday morning. In the new role, Grimson will help “meet the ambitious goals of MIT’s upcoming fundraising campaign,” Reif wrote. MIT will be searching for a new chancellor, and suggestions or insights should be sent to firstname.lastname@example.org or Room 3-208.
MIT fraternities, sororities, and independent living groups (FSILGs) with houses in Boston are now prohibited from having events that would cause the number of individuals in their building to exceed their posted residential occupancy, Assistant Dean of FSILGs Marlena Martinez Love announced in an email Friday afternoon.
MIT Vice President for Resource Development Jeffrey L. Newton has decided to retire after seven years in the role, president L. Rafael Reif announced in an email to the MIT community yesterday morning. Newton will continue to serve in an advisory role through January 2014. Kirk Kolenbrander, Vice President and Secretary of the Corporation, will “oversee the day-to-day management and strategic direction of our fundraising operations” while MIT searches for a Newton’s successor.
An 18-year-old MIT student fell four stories through a skylight at MIT fraternity Phi Sigma Kappa during a party shortly after 11:30 p.m. Wednesday night. The student, who asked MIT to not release his name, was taken to Brigham and Women’s Hospital. He is alert and has no life-threatening injuries, according to a statement released by the MIT News Office yesterday, and “student life officials are gathering further information about the circumstances surrounding the events that evening.”
In July, the Presidential Transition Advisory Cabinet (PTAC) released its public report with recommendations for MIT president L. Rafael Reif. Formed in July 2012 and operating since August 2012, the PTAC centered its recommendations around three themes — “The MIT Educational Experience,” “Community — Places, Resources, People” and “Support and Engagement,” and “The Residential Campus of the 21st Century.” With the release of the report, the Graduate Student Council (GSC) and Undergraduate Association (UA) began soliciting applications for a new Institute Committee, the Presidential Advisory Cabinet (PAC), of four undergraduate and four graduate representatives.
On Thursday, July 18, MIT filed a motion intervening in the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) lawsuit by Wired editor Kevin Poulsen against the U.S. Department of Homeland Security, filed on April 12. Poulsen had requested the release of any Secret Service documents regarding the late internet activist Aaron Swartz, who committed suicide in January following a federal indictment in July 2011 for using MIT’s network to download millions of JSTOR documents. Filed in the U.S. District Court of Washington, D.C., MIT’s motion asked the court to allow MIT to review and propose redactions, and will delay the release of the documents. JSTOR filed a similar motion the day after.
On Thursday, July 18, MIT filed a motion intervening in the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) lawsuit by Wired editor Kevin Poulsen against the U.S. Department of Homeland Security, filed on April 12. Poulsen had requested the release of any Secret Service documents regarding the late internet activist Aaron Swartz, who committed suicide in January following a federal indictment in July 2011 for using MIT’s network to download millions of JSTOR documents. Filed in the U.S. District Court of Washington, D.C., MIT’s motion asked the court to allow MIT to review and propose redactions, and will delay the release of the documents. JSTOR filed a similar motion on Friday.
Dennis Freeman PhD ’86, Professor of Electrical Engineering and the Course 6 undergraduate officer, has been appointed MIT’s next Dean for Undergraduate Education (DUE), Chancellor Eric Grimson PhD ’80 wrote in an email to the MIT community last Thursday. Freeman will step into the position on July 1, succeeding Daniel E. Hastings PhD ’80, Professor of Aeronautics and Astronautics and Engineering Systems, who has served as DUE since 2006.
Maseeh Hall Executive Council (MHEC) emailed the Dormitory Council (DormCon) last night to withdraw Maseeh from DormCon, citing budget-related and representation concerns. A 4-3 vote of Maseeh Exec passed the motion Sunday night. Previously, Bexley had been for years the only dorm not in DormCon, and it stopped paying its yearly $1,200 tax to DormCon in 2008.
With MIT’s involvement in the online education sphere, it is no surprise that the role of MIT in the future of education has yet again taken the spotlight in a faculty newsletter. The March/April issue, published April 12, opens with an editorial on MITx: “One happy consequence [of MITx] is unquestionable: we discuss how we teach more now than ever before.”
This year’s Undergraduate Association Presidential/Vice Presidential election took a surprise turn late Sunday night, when UA VP candidate Johnathan Kongoletos ’14 emailed out to several dorm lists announcing his withdrawal from the UA VP candidacy at 11:21 p.m., under 10 hours before online voting opened at 9 a.m. yesterday morning. At that time and throughout the day, both of the tickets — Sidhanth P. Rao ’14/Devin T. Cornish ’14 and Cory D. Hernandez ’14/Johnathan Kongoletos ’14, for UA P/VP — still appeared on the ballot at vote.mit.edu.
In 2012, MIT raised $34,795 per student. This puts MIT as the 11th highest fundraiser when compared to other reporting U.S. colleges and universities, according to a press release last week from the Council for Aid to Education (CAE). Stanford University, which received the most total contributions with $1.03 billion in fundraising, ranked fifth with $55,745 per student. Yale University, California Institute of Technology, Princeton University, and Harvard University ranked 7th, 8th, 17th, and 18th, respectively.
MIT’s Sallie W. (Penny) Chisholm has been awarded the National Medal of Science, one of 12 recipients in 2012, the White House announced in December. The National Medal of Science is annually given to individuals “deserving of special recognition by reason of their outstanding contributions to knowledge in the physical, biological, mathematical, or engineering sciences,” according to the National Science Foundation. In a White House ceremony this Thursday, President Barack Obama will present the award to Chisholm — the Lee and Geraldine Martin Professor of Environmental Studies in the Department of Civil and Environmental engineering, and the 48th MIT scientist to win the honor — for her research in microbial oceanography.
Richard M. Locke PhD ’89, deputy dean of MIT Sloan School of Management and head of the Department of Political Science, will become the director of Brown University’s Thomas J. Watson Institute for International Studies in July 2013, Brown announced last Wednesday.
Now in its 16th year, MIT’s Externship Program will connect 332 undergraduate and graduate students to alumni-sponsored externships this January during Independent Activities Period (IAP). Run by the MIT Alumni Association, the program began offering short winter internships (“externships”) in 1997 for 20 to 25 students in its formative years. This year’s 332 is a new record, over last year’s 294 participants, according to numbers provided by Katie C. Maloney, Director of Parent Association and Student/Alumni Relations.
The potential “fiscal cliff” at the end of 2012 would slash the U.S. federal budget across the board, hitting the nearly $475 million MIT receives from the government each year for research. The Institute could see up to 10 percent cuts in its federal research funding, according to Vice President for Research and Associate Provost Claude R. Canizares.
Released approximately two weeks ago, the features views on edX from the faculty and highlights from the Faculty/Staff Quality of Life Survey conducted in the spring, in addition to continued coverage of MIT 2030 developments — such as the establishment of the Provost’s Task Force on Community Engagement in 2030 Planning — and graduate student housing difficulties. The Tech recently covered faculty involvement on MIT 2030 at http://tech.mit.edu/V132/N39/mit2030.html.
During MIT fraternity Rush this fall, 375 rushees were offered a total of 440 bids (one person can receive more than one bid), which is an average of 1.18 bids per person, according to statistics provided by Interfraternity Council (IFC) president Thomas A. Anderson ’13. As of Monday, 324 rushees (86.4 percent) have pledged. MIT’s Panhellenic Association offered 173 bids this year, after 350 women registered for the first day of recruitment.
Former MIT President Susan J. Hockfield will be the Harvard Kennedy School’s (HKS) Marie Curie Visiting Professor this academic year, the school’s Dean, David T. Ellwood, announced on Friday. Ellwood and other members of the HKS faculty had several discussions with Hockfield, after which she was nominated and approved by tenured faculty. She will be affiliated with the Belfer Center for Science and International Affairs, and will continue to serve as a professor of neuroscience at MIT.
On Monday, August 27, all MIT undergraduate and graduate students received an email with personalized links to a survey regarding Independent Activities Period (IAP). The email was signed by the IAP Subcommittee of the Faculty Policy Committee (FPC). The subcommittee is chaired by Course 7 (Biology) professor Lisa A. Steiner and consists of UA representatives, GSC representatives, faculty members, and some administrators. The students were selected from members of the FCP and the Committee on the Undergraduate Program (CUP), said subcommittee member Ravi M. Charan ’14.
Last Monday, Aug. 13, MIT and 13 peer institutions filed an amicus curiae brief before the Supreme Court of the United States in Fisher v. University of Texas, supporting the respondent UTexas in the view that race could be used as one of many factors in a holistic admissions process.
As the Class of 2012 finished their last semester as undergraduates, MIT administered to all seniors the online Senior Survey, asking them to reflect on their experience at MIT and their plans for the future. MIT conducts a senior survey once every two years. Of the 1046 seniors this year, 72.8 percent responded to the survey (“answered at least one question”).
On April 11, Chancellor Eric Grimson PhD ’80 concluded a review of an intellectual property rights situation with CoolChip Technologies, winner of the 2011 MIT $200K Clean Energy Prize (CEP) Contest. He found that the CoolChip did not violate the rules of the competition, but “was misleading in some of its public presentations.” Grimson said in an interview with The Tech in September that he would be working with the leadership of the CEP to review their rules regarding intellectual property and attribution issues. Since then, he said, he has personally conducted interviews with the three CoolChip founders, the relevant faculty, staff, and students, and the staff of Sandia National Laboratories, which invented the technology in question. Grimson also reviewed CoolChip’s contest submission and the CEP’s rules.
Nominees for UA officer positions were announced Monday evening. At a meeting this coming Tuesday, the UA Council will vote to officially appoint the nominees. Excluding the Chief of Staff, the nominees (see sidebar) were selected from an initial pool of about 40 students who applied for the 19 positions posted online at http://re-invent.mit.edu/apply, 20 of which were mostly interviewed by UA President Jonté D. Craighead ’13 and Vice President Michael P. Walsh ’13 in consultation with relevant committee members. The chief of staff’s main responsibility is chairing the Nominations Committee, which includes “soliciting applications for representatives to Institute Committees, interviewing candidates, and selecting a slate of nominees,” according to the UA Constitution.
In a debate co-hosted by The Tech and the UA this past Sunday, the three tickets of potential future Undergraduate Association (UA) leaders discussed issues such as the search for a new MIT president, student-administration relationships, MIT culture, orientation, and the role of the UA on campus. Running for UA president and vice president are Jonté D. Craighead ’13 and Michael P. Walsh ’13, Naren P. Tallapragada ’13 and Andrew C. Yang ’13, and Brendan T. Deveney ’13 and Mary A. Breton ’14. The debate, which took place on the first floor of the student center, had an audience of about 30, with more people attending for some portions.
E.C. Whitehead Professor, Biology Graduate Program Co-Director, and Howard Hughes Medical Institute (HHMI) Investigator Tania A. Baker has been named as the next head of the department of biology. She will assume the position on April 1, succeeding Chris A. Kaiser PhD ’88, who was selected to run the National Institute of General Medical Sciences (NIGMS) in October. Baker was the associate department head for biology from 1999 to 2004.
By 4 p.m. Friday afternoon, the promise of a surprise gift for the first 50 people in line for Ring Premiere had lured a crowd of sophomores to the doors of Kresge. Later that evening, we discovered that the first ones there got their purple tickets and went on their merry way, instead of having to jostle each other outside the door for four hours.
In 2011, MIT broadened its international network, entering partnerships with Russia’s Skolkovo Foundation, China, and Malaysia, as well cultivating a relationship with the Singapore University of Technology and Design (SUTD) established two years prior. These initiatives follow other international partnerships in recent years, including the 2007 creation of the Masdar Institute of Science and Technology with Abu Dhabi and the 2007 establishment of the Singapore-MIT Alliance for Research and Technology.
Postdocs get an independent voice in new self-government Postdoctoral Association to replace Advisory Council
Postdoctoral researchers at MIT have decided to take matters into their own hands. Postdocs will be represented by the new, autonomous Postdoctoral Association (PDA) instead of the Postdoctoral Advisory Council (PAC), which was organized by the office of the vice president for research. The move gives MIT postdocs an organization more similar to the Undergraduate Association or the Graduate Student Council.
Winning the Grand Prize in MIT’s $200K Clean Energy Prize contest in May was only the beginning of an MIT startup’s success. CoolChip Technologies, which develops cooling systems for electronics, was automatically entered as a finalist in the MIT $100K Business Plan Contest as a result of winning the CEP. CoolChip has also been covered by CNN Money, the Wall Street Journal, the Boston Globe, and Electronic Engineering Times since their CEP win. At the end of August, however, an article in the Chronicle of Higher Education cast a shadow over the success of the young company.
Last Friday, Governor Deval L. Patrick declared a state of emergency in the Commonwealth of Massachusetts and called 500 National Guard troops in preparation for the landfall of Hurricane Irene, to be joined by 2000 more on Saturday. The City of Cambridge activated Code Red phone alerts — which sent pre-recorded messages warning of the threat to all landlines and to opted-in cellular phone lines — and email and text messaging alerts were sent out to the MIT community announcing the Sunday closure of MIT and encouraging the community to stay indoors.
The 150th anniversary convocation of the signing of MIT’s charter took place Sunday at the Boston Convention and Exhibition Center. It proceeded much like an MIT commencement ceremony, right down to the framing of the huge stage with imitation Killian Court columns.
The MIT-Greater China Strategy Working Group has released a report setting forth guidelines and recommendations for the future of MIT’s relationship with mainland China, Hong Kong, and Taiwan. The Working Group was chaired by Victor Zue, Professor of EECS and Director of CSAIL.