MIT gives 10-year awards to 6 professors for their devotion to undergraduate teaching

CAMBRIDGE, Mass.--In recognition of their devotion to undergraduate teaching, four professors and two associate professors have been named MacVicar Faculty Fellows for 2000.

The Fellowships provide an annual scholar's allowance of $5,000 for ten years to assist each Fellow in developing ways to enrich the undergraduate learning experience.

Forty professors have been named MacVicar Fellows since the program was established to honor Margaret L.A. MacVicar, MIT's first dean of undergraduate education, who died in 1991 at age 47. Founder of MIT's famous Undergraduate Research Opportunities Program (UROP), she was recognized at MIT and nationally as a champion of undergraduate education. The program was designed to create an elite group of MIT scholars committed to excellence in teaching and innovation in education. The first Fellows were named in 1992.

The new MacVicar Fellows are:

Professor Rohan Abeyaratne, associate head of the Department of Mechanical Engineering, joined MIT an associate professor in 1986. Dr. Abeyaratne is internationally known for his work in theoretical and applied mechanics and has been recognized for his research contributions to nonlinear continuum mechanics by several national and international organizations. He is a Fellow of both ASME and the American Academy of Mechanics. He received the Den Hartog Distinguished Educator Award in 1995. He earned a bachelor's degree from the University of Ceylon in 1975, an MS (1976) and PhD (1979) from the California Institute of Technology. Professor Abeyaratne lives in Brookline, MA.

Professor John W. Belcher of physics, named a Class of 1960 Fellow last September, came to MIT from CalTech in 1971 as a postdoctoral fellow and was named an assistant professor that fall. Professor Belcher was principal Investigator on the plasma experiment on the Voyager spacecraft, which has visited all of the outer planets and is headed for interstellar space, still returning data. He has twice received the NASA Exceptional Scientific Achievement Medal and heads the Interplanetary Plasma Group in the Center for Space Research. In recent years, he has become interested in the uses of technology in education and is a member of the MIT Committee on Educational Technology. He holds the BA (1965) from Rice University and the PhD (1970). from the California Institute of Technology.

Professor Ernest G. Cravalho of mechanical engineering joined MIT as an assistant professor in 1966. He has also been the Taplin Professor of Medical Engineering in the Harvard-MIT Division of Health Sciences and Technology, since 1986 and was named co-director of a new Program in Biomedical Engineering in 1993. Throughout his MIT career, he has been known for his dedication to students and counseling, and he has held numerous counseling positions. Professor Cravalho earned the BS (1961), the MS (1962) and the PhD (1967) from the University of California-Berkeley. Professor Cravalho lives in Wellesley .

Associate Professor Dava J. Newman of aeronautics and astronautics earned SM degrees in aeronautics and astronautics and technology and policy from MIT in1989 and the PhD in aerospace biomedical engineering in 1992. She joined the MIT faculty as an assistant professor in 1993. She has worked extensively with NASA, has flown three scientific experiments in space, and is currently developing a space biomedical engineering curriculum for graduate students in National Space Biomedical Research Institute member institutions-MIT, Baylor College of Medicine, Harvard Medical School, Johns HopkinsUniversity, Morehouse School of Medicine, Rice University and Texas A&M University. Her work will develop a distance collaboration multimedia program for the Department of Aeronautics and Astronautics and Health Science and Technology curriculums. She received the BS in aerospace/mechanical engineering from Notre Dame University in 1986. She is the first junior faculty member to be awarded a MacVicar Fellowship. Professor Newman, who was raised in Helena, Mont., lives in Marblehead.

Professor Steven Pinker of Brain and Cognitive Sciences, first came to MIT as a post-doctoral fellow in 1979. After serving on the faculties of Harvard and Stanford for one year apiece, he returned to the Institute in 1982 as an assistant professor of psychology. He became Co-Director of the Center for Cognitive Science in 1985. From 1994 to 1999 he served as Director of the McDonnell-Pew Center for Cognitive Neuroscience at MIT. Professor Pinker is the author of five books, including Words and Rules: The Ingredients of Language (1999), How the Mind Works (1997), and The Language Instinct (1994). His research on language and cognition has won prizes from the National Academy of Sciences and the American Psychological Association, and his books have won prizes from the APA, the Linguistics Society of America, the Los Angeles Times, and a short-listing for the Pulitzer Prize. Professor Pinker earned a BA in psychology from McGill University in 1976 and a PhD in experimental psychology from Harvard University in 1979.

Associate Professor Jacquelyn C. Yanch of nuclear engineering came to MIT in 1988 as a postdoctoral associate and joined the faculty the next year as an assistant professor. She held the Class of 1958 Assistant Professorship from 1989-92, the first recipient of the chair established to encourage gifted young faculty who showed exceptional promise. She has made highly regarded contributions to synovectomy based in interstitial electron-emitting isotopes and to interstitial X-ray therapy of brain tumors. Professor Yanch earned bachelor's degrees in psychology (1981) and health and radiation physics (1983) and a master's degree in health and radiation physics (1985) from McMaster University and a PhD in physics (1988) from the University of London.

Topics: Awards, honors and fellowships, Faculty

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