Cynthia Barnhart SM '85, PhD '88, Ford Professor of Engineering in MIT’s Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering and Engineering Systems Division, has been appointed acting dean of the School of Engineering, effective Sept. 8. Subra Suresh, Vannevar Bush Professor of Engineering and current dean of the School of Engineering, will be on sabbatical leave for the fall 2010 semester.
In her new role, Barnhart will work closely with Associate Dean of Engineering for Research Karen K. Gleason. Barnhart will also continue her duties as associate dean for academic affairs in the School of Engineering and as director of the Transportation@MIT initiative.
“We are grateful to Acting Dean Barnhart and Associate Dean Gleason for their willingness to accept these roles and responsibilities,” MIT Provost L. Rafael Reif wrote in a letter to the Institute faculty on Sept. 8.
"The MIT School of Engineering is a strong, vibrant and exciting place, and I welcome the opportunity to serve MIT and the school as acting dean," Barnhart said.
Barnhart, who joined the MIT faculty in 1992, has served as co-director of both the Center for Transportation and Logistics and the Operations Research Center. Her research focuses on the development of optimization models and methods for designing, planning and operating transportation systems.
A member of the National Academy of Engineering, Barnhart received her BS degree from the University of Vermont and was an assistant professor at the Georgia Institute of Technology before coming to MIT.
She has served as president of the Institute for Operations Research and the Management Sciences (INFORMS), president of the INFORMS Women in Operations Research/Management Science Forum, and as president of the INFORMS Transportation Science and Logistics Society. INFORMS is the largest professional society in the world for individuals working in the fields of operations research, management science and business analytics.
Barnhart’s achievements as a researcher and an educator have been recognized by her peers and in awards, including the Franz Edelman Prize for Achievement in Operations and the Management Sciences, the INFORMS Award for the Best Paper in Transportation and Logistics, the Advancement of Women in Operations Research and Management Science Award, the Mitsui Faculty Development Chair, the Junior Faculty Career Award from the General Electric Foundation and a Presidential Young Investigator Award from the National Science Foundation.
In June 2010, Suresh was nominated by President Barack Obama to be the next director of the National Science Foundation. He awaits confirmation by the U.S. Senate.