• Al and Barrie Zesiger leap into the pool early on the morning of the dedication ceremonies for the Zesiger Sports and Fitness Center last September

    Photo / Donna Coveney

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  • After his Nobel Prize lecture at MIT, Robert Horvitz gets a kiss from his wife, Martha Constantine-Paton, also an MIT professor of biology.

    Photo / Donna Coveney

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  • Professor Michael Rubner (left), director of the Center for Materials Science and Engineering, and project technician Tim McClure check the laser in the Raman Spectrometer before setting up an experiment. The spectrometer is part of the center's shared experimental facilities, funded by a $22.2 million NSF grant.

    Photo / Donna Coveney

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  • Looking up through a "study cave" in the new Simmons Hall.

    Photo / Donna Coveney

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  • A very colorful, if very wet, crowd of families and other well-wishers sat through a soggy Commencement.

    Photo / Donna Coveney

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  • Professor Alexander Slocum hoists and carries 2.007 contest winner Martin Jonikas on a victory lap around Johnson Athletic Center.

    Photo / Nathan Collins

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  • Ann Graybiel, was named the 2002 Killian Faculty Achievement Award winner in May.

    Photo / Donna Coveney

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  • A visitor passes through the MIT Chapel during the all-day vigil on the first anniversary of the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks

    Photo / Donna Coveney

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Making a splash:

New buildings, Nobel Prize highlight the year at MIT


Political tensions increased throughout the world during 2002, and people in the United States are struggling to live normally despite increased security concerns and the threat of war with Iraq. Life at MIT reflected a similar mix--of new concerns since the Sept. 11, 2001 terrorist attacks along with the celebration of achievement and the usual tribulations of life, as this highlight of news stories published in MIT Tech Talk shows.

Jan. 9--A new center for technological innovation was established at MIT through a gift from Jaishree Deshpande and Desh Deshpande, co-founder and chairman of Sycamore Networks Inc. Their gift of $20 million established the initial phase of the Deshpande Center for Technological Innovation to support research on novel technologies in collaboration with the high-technology and venture capitalist communities of New England, plus undergraduate education in engineering practice.

Jan. 9--The initial renovation phase of Lobby 7--the first renovation since the William Barton Rogers Building was completed in 1938--was unveiled. The skylight was open and lit for the first time since the World War II blackout, while cleaned and restored stone, freshly painted metal and wood, and plaster surfaces were unveiled.

Jan. 30--The parents of Elizabeth Shin filed a wrongful-death civil suit in Middlesex Superior Court against MIT on Jan. 28. The $27 million suit alleged breach of contract, medical malpractice and negligence on the part of MIT psychiatrists, Student Life staff and Campus Police, who are also named in the suit. Cho Hyun Shin and Kisuk Shin of Livingston, N.J., allege through their lawyer, David A. DeLuca, that MIT was negligent in the death of their daughter, a sophomore who died April 14, 2000, four days after apparently setting herself on fire.

(On March 13, MIT lawyers filed answers to the complaint in the lawsuit, categorically deniying "that any MIT Mental Health Service professionals [failed] to provide Ms. Shin with appropriate care" and denying "that her death was proximately caused by any failure on the part of MIT or anyone affiliated with MIT." )

Jan. 30--Minority women science and engineering faculty from around the country gathered at MIT to explore common solutions to a problem many confront alone: despite remarkable individual and professional achievements, they continue to face daunting career barriers inside the academy. The two-day conference, hosted by the Center for the Study of Diversity in Science, Technology and Medicine at MIT, formed part of a National Initiative on Minority Women Faculty.

Feb. 6--First Lady Laura Bush invited alumnus Daniel J. Cabrera (S.B. 2001 in biology) to the State of the Union address. Cabrera was teaching science on a New Teacher Project fellowship at Jefferson Junior High School in Washington, D.C., a project started by Mrs. Bush.

Feb. 6--A group of MIT faculty members and a Harvard colleague are undertaking an 18-month study of the future of nuclear energy. Institute Professor John M. Deutch of chemistry and Professor Ernest Moniz of physics are co-chairing the study; both are former under- secretaries of the U.S. Department of Energy.

Feb. 27--Robert Langer received the 2002 Charles Stark Draper Prize--a $500,000 annual award referred to as "engineering's Nobel Prize"--for inventing medical drug delivery technologies that prolong lives and ease suffering of millions of people every year. Langer, the Germeshausen Professor of Chemical and Biomedical Engineering, received the prize from the National Academy of Engineering at a ceremony in Washington, D.C., on Feb. 19. "Simply put, it gives me great satisfaction to see the things I do make other people happier and healthier," he said.

March 13--Andrew Heafitz, a graduate student in mechanical engineering, won the $30,000 Lemelson-MIT Student Prize. When accepting the award at the Faculty Club, the 32-year-old Heafitz said, "I thank my father for not getting mad at me when I took the lawnmower apart to see how it worked without remembering how to put it back together."

March 20--MIT completed a rigorous and systematic study of the status of women faculty in the entire university with publication of reports on the schools of architecture and planning; engineering; and humanities, arts and social sciences, as well as the Sloan School of Management. These reports complete the groundbreaking 1999 report on the status of women in the School of Science, summarizing data and narratives of women faculty members' experiences in each of the schools. Committees made up of women and men found that women professors had been marginalized in MIT's five schools, a pattern reported at many other universities and organizations.

April 10--For the 14th consecutive year, the School of Engineering graduate program was ranked first in the nation by U.S. News and World Report. According to the rankings, MIT has the #1 mathematics graduate program in the country. In physics, MIT shares the top slot with the California Institute of Technology. MIT, Carnegie Mellon University, Stanford University and the University of California at Berkeley tied for first in the computer science rankings. Also, for the second consecutive year, Hispanic magazine rated MIT as the top school in the northeast United States for Hispanic-American students.

April 24--Medical technology pioneer Dean Kamen won the Lemelson-MIT Program's $500,000 prize. Ruth Rogan Benerito, who helped revolutionize the textile industry through the introduction of easy-care cotton, won the Lifetime Achievement Award.

April 24--Senior Daniel Feldman covered the 26-mile, 385-yard Boston Marathon course in two hours, 23 minutes and 32 seconds, finishing 32nd overall, 30th among all male runners and seventh among men from the United States. Feldman, a civil and environmental engineering major from Portland, Ore., topped his previous best time of 2:30.51, recorded last year when he finished 52nd overall.

April 24--Students from eight sub-Saharan African countries took an MIT course without leaving their continent, thanks to a new initiative of MIT's Center for Advanced Educational Services and the African Virtual University.

May 8--Swiss-based pharmaceutical giant Novartis--drawn like "a magnet" to Cambridge's confluence of brainpower, academic and medical institutions, biotech companies, and congenial political and economic policies--is creating a worldwide drug discovery center on MIT commercial property in Technology Square. Novartis will invest $250 million in the center, slated to open by July 2003.

May 8--President Charles M. Vest and two undergraduate students went before congressional leaders and staff to emphasize the vital importance of a national investment in science and technology education.

May 15--A $50 million gift from the Picower Foundation will accelerate MIT's drive to discover the intricate functioning of the brain and the malfunctions involved in schizophrenia, memory loss, Alzheimer's disease, Huntington's disease and other brain disorders. The gift will permanently establish the Picower Center for Learning and Memory at MIT.

May 15--MIT Lincoln Laboratory was awarded the Secretary of Defense Medal for Outstanding Public Service at Recognition Day ceremonies marking Lincoln Lab's 50th anniversary.

May 15--Ann M. Graybiel, the Walter A. Rosenblith Professor of Neuroscience and an investigator at the McGovern Institute for Brain Research at MIT, was named a recipient of the National Medal of Science, the nation's highest science and technology honor. She won MIT's James R. Killian Faculty Achievement Award a week later.

June 5--Nine months of round-the-clock work to clear the devastated World Trade Center site in New York was completed. MIT's Gayle C. Willman, faculty liaison in Academic Media Production Services, and other volunteers from MIT contributed more than 1,000 hours in five different trips to Ground Zero.

June 5--The revamped campus dining plan features new eating establishments in the Stratton Student Center and two new dining vendors.

June 12--Under a steady rain that soaked guests, graduates and anti-World Bank demonstrators, World Bank President James D. Wolfensohn told the Class of 2002 that social and economic equity "is your issue." He delivered the principal address to 2,187 graduates at MIT's 136th Commencement in Killian Court in front of a sea of dripping mortarboards and multicolored umbrellas while about 120 protesters gathered on the opposite side of Memorial Drive. Nineteen students were chosen by lottery to engage in a private discussion of World Bank policies with Wolfensohn.

June 12--A faculty committee recommended that MIT provide off-campus facilities to help faculty perform classified public service or research involving the nation's security. The Ad Hoc Committee on Access to and Disclosure of Scientific Information strongly reiterated MIT's long-standing policy of intellectual openness on the campus. "We recommend that no classified research should be carried out on campus; that no student, graduate or undergraduate, should be required to have a security clearance to perform thesis research; and that no thesis research should be carried out in [intellectual] areas requiring access to classified materials," the committee's report said.

Aug. 29--The 981 members of the Class of 2006 were the first wave of MIT undergraduates who will benefit from a campus-wide philosophy and environment created to develop a greater sense of community. "We're trying to achieve the community goals as well as the education and research goals of the Task Force for Student Life and Learning," said Chancellor Phillip L. Clay, referring to the two-year study of campus life that was published in 1998. Starting this year, all freshmen are required to live on campus.

Aug. 29--"Innovation--and all the issues and challenges surrounding it--must become a first-tier economic policy imperative for our nation," President Vest told President George Bush's economic forum in Waco, Texas. "This need is even more relevant in light of an environment with economic uncertainty and heightened security concerns," said Vest, one of four university presidents invited to the Baylor University forum.

Sept. 11--Several events at MIT and the surrounding community marked the one-year anniversary of the Sept. 11 attacks, including a flag-lowering at the flagpole on du Pont Court at 8:46 a.m., and a 5 p.m. gathering on Kresge Oval.

Sept. 25--Professor Sendhil Mullainathan of economics received a five-year $500,000 MacArthur Fellowship, known as the "genius grant."

Sept. 25--Florida's push to get new voting equipment online for the 2002 primary election appears to have paid off, said experts at the Caltech/MIT Voting Technology Project. Compared with the performance of equipment in the past, the new technologies of casting and counting ballots look like clear improvements, they said.

Oct. 2--The pilot site of MIT OpenCourseWare opened with 32 courses in 16 academic departments and the Sloan School. More than 13 million hits from approximately 120,000 unique visitors were recorded on the web site in the first week.

Oct. 2--Dedication ceremonies were held for the new graduate residence at 70 Pacific St. in conjunction with the opening ceremony of the Johnson Games, held in honor of the dormitory.

Oct. 2--His Highness the Aga Khan, President Vest and Harvard University President Lawrence H. Summers jointly launched the world's largest online resource on architecture, urbanism and landscape design. ArchNet provides users anywhere in the world with free access to an online library that draws upon more than 600,000 images focusing on the history and culture of design in the Muslim world.

Oct. 2--Changes to the U.S. visa application process enacted since the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks delayed the travel plans of about 100 new and returning MIT students, based on new U.S. State Department security clearances.

Oct. 9--Professor H. Robert Horvitz won the 2002 Nobel Prize in physiology, sharing it with two colleagues. At MIT, he is the David H. Koch Professor of Cancer Biology, an investigatorfor the McGovern Institute for Brain Research and a member of the Center for Cancer Research, and is also an investigator for the Howard Hughes Medical Institute.

Oct. 9--Two major landmarks in MIT's evolving campus, the Zesiger Sports and Fitness Center and the Simmons Hall dormitory, were dedicated in back-to-back ceremonies at the fitness center's pool and on Briggs Field opposite the new dorm.

Oct. 9--A generous gift of Corporation member A. Neil Pappalardo (S.B. 1964) put MIT over its $1.5 billion campaign goal two years earlier than the date originally set for the conclusion of the campaign. The Corporation approved an increase in the campaign goal to $2 billion.

Oct. 9--How can the United States remain secure against terrorism while maintaining the openness needed for the advancements in science and technology? It will require a careful balance, President Vest said in his annual President's Report, titled "Response and Responsibility: Balancing Security and Openness in Research and Education."

Oct. 23--University leaders criticized government proposals to establish a vague new level of secrecy in scientific research. They told a congressional committee that labeling some university research as "sensitive" but not "classified" could be counterproductive to development of new scientific discoveries and economic growth. Institute Professor Sheila Widnall, a former secretary of the Air Force, told the House Science Committee that establishing "sensitive research as a halfway house of restriction is doomed to failure."

Oct. 23--More than 1,000 alumni and friends returned to the Sloan School of Management Oct. 10-12 to celebrate the school's 50th anniversary.

Nov. 6--MIT's DSpace may enable university libraries to have more say over how research results and other intellectual property are made available to academic communities. A symposium was held celebrating the worldwide launch of DSpace, the open-source institutional digital repository developed by MIT and Hewlett-Packard Co.

Nov. 6--Seven MIT women faculty members--Angela M. Belcher, Linda G. Griffith, Mildred S. Dresselhaus, Susan Lindquist, Barbara H. Liskov, Sheila E. Widnall and Maria Zuber--are among the 60 top scientists cited in the November issues of Popular Science and Discover magazine.

Nov. 20--A $22.2 million grant to MIT's Center for Materials Science and Engineering from the National Science Foundation will support the center's three principal missions: interdisciplinary research in materials science and engineering, shared experimental facilities available to people from around MIT, and educational outreach program for K-12 teachers.

Dec. 4--MIT faculty and staff are united in their concerns about the effects of the intense pace and pressure of work here, in their interest in building community among colleagues and peers across the Institute, and in their support for on-site or near-site affordable child care, two new Quality of Life Surveys reveal. The surveys--one for faculty and one for staff members--were conducted in October 2001 by the MIT Council on Family and Work, established in 1991 and reactivated in 1999.

Dec. 11--Two MIT seniors and a graduate student were awarded Marshall Scholarships: Samidh Chakrabarti, David Foxe and Alexander D. Wissner-Gross.

Dec. 18--MIT researchers were among visionaries featured in end-of-the-year magazine stories that either profiled or queried experts about developments in their field: Robert S. Langer, Alice Amsden, Steven Pinker and Tim Berners-Lee.

A version of this article appeared in MIT Tech Talk on January 8, 2003.


Topics: Campus buildings and architecture, Nobel Prizes

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