Register now for the CEE Rising Stars workshop

July 20, 2015

PHOTO: CEE Rising Stars

The department is pleased to announce that it will host its first Rising Stars in Civil and Environmental Engineering career development workshop on October 15-16, 2015. The event invites early career women in CEE and related areas interested in a career in academia. Eligible female applicants must be within approximately one year of graduating with a PhD or have obtained a PhD no earlier than 2010. The workshop will feature participants’ research presentations, faculty discussions and session panels on issues that pertain to academia. All CEE faculty members, postdocs and graduate students are welcome to attend the workshop’s informal gatherings and networking sessions. For more information, please see here.

In honor of Hamlin Jennings

July 20, 2015

PHOTO: Hamlin Jennings

Hamlin M. Jennings, adjunct professor in CEE and principal investigator in the Concrete Sustainability Hub, died on July 8 at the age of 68 after a battle with cancer. Jennings was a distinguished researcher and leader in the field of cement chemistry. During his career, he was prominent in the development of fundamentals of cement sciences that were transformational in concrete engineering applications, including the first fully quantitative model of the major component of hydrated cement (calcium silicate hydrate). Jennings’ most recent research efforts at MIT were aimed at developing sustainable cement-based materials to meet India’s need for housing and infrastructure. For the article honoring Prof. Jennings’ life and career, please see here.

JWAF seed funding awards two CEE faculty members

July 13, 2015

PHOTO: MITThe Abdul Latif Jameel World Water and Food Security Lab (J-WAFS) at MIT, named after the father of CEE alumnus Mohammed Abdul Latif Jameel ’78, awards $1.8 million in its first round of seed-grant funding to MIT researchers. Two CEE faculty members – Heidi Nepf and Dennis McLaughlin – were awarded for projects that strive for solutions for water and food security. Nepf was selected for her proposal to explore the potential of constructed wetlands, not only as a stormwater solution, but more fundamentally as urban resiliency infrastructure; and McLaughlin for his proposition to support donors, government agencies, NGOs, and aid organizations in their efforts to maximize their impact on food security. For the article, please see here.

PhD student Dan Prendergast combats river contamination

July 13, 2015

PHOTO: Dan Prendergast prepares a passive sampler for analysis after deployment in Duwamish River sediment.“The environment is incredibly complex, and our grasp of it is shifting every day,” says CEE PhD student Dan Prendergast. “I liked the idea of chasing a life in environmental engineering, because it’s application-based. I can, right now as a student, produce something tangible and impactful in all of my work.” Prendergast works in Parsons Laboratory to develop and deploy passive samplers in Seattle’s Lower Duwamish Waterway to devise means to identify the source(s) of contaminants like PCBs (polychlorinated biphenyls) in complex environments. With less than two years to go, the fourth-year PhD candidate’s project hinges on a fusion of fieldwork, lab analysis and computer simulation. Read his profile here.

Why do puddles stop spreading? Phenomenon revealed.

July 13, 2015

PHOTO: “You start with something very simple, like the spread of a puddle, but you get at something very fundamental about intermolecular forces,” Ruben Juanes says.The formulas scientists use to describe traditional fluid flow indicate that puddle water should spread endlessly. However, as most know, this is not the case. Now a team of CEE researchers has solved the mystery of why puddles settle at a given point, publishing their findings in the journal Physical Review Letters. “You start with something very simple, like the spread of a puddle, but you get at something very fundamental about intermolecular forces,” said Ruben Juanes, CEE professor and senior author of the study led by graduate student Amir Pahlavan and CEE research associate Luis Cueto-Felgueroso ‘06. “The same process, the same physics, will be at play in many complex flows.” Comprehension of the mechanics of this phenomenon is vital to enhance processes, from the lubrication of machinery to the potential sequestration of carbon dioxide emissions in porous underground formations. For the article, please see here.

Markus Buehler’s work featured in digital magazine Zygote Quarterly

July 6, 2015

PHOTO: SpiderIn the most recent edition of the digital magazine Zygote Quarterly, an article explores CEE Department Head Markus Buehler’s work on the fundamental makeup of materials and their enhanced application in the built world. The feature, “Our Material World: A Composition in Major and Minor Keys” discusses Buehler and his Laboratory for Atomistic and Molecular Mechanics (LAMM) team's research, which untraditionally relates the arts with the sciences to determine how we can use the connectivity found in nature to form more sustainable materials. “A universal language of materials that Buehler and his team aim to produce would be a powerful paradigm and could open up whole new fields of discovery,” wrote author Tom McKeag. Zygote Quarterly is a publication devoted exclusively to the nexus of science and design as they meet in the sphere of biomimicry and bio-inspired design. For the article, please see here.

Save the Date: Infrastructure Innovation in a Changing Environment Conference

July 6, 2015

PHOTO: Infrastructure Innovation in a Changing Environment ConferenceOn November 20, CEE will host a conference that explores diverse economic opportunities and market-driven responses to the challenges facing large-scale infrastructure projects. In collaboration with MIT’s Industrial Liaison Program, join the leaders fr
om industry, academia, and the public sector in the discussion of the impact of issues ranging from budding infrastructure and population growth to the emergence of big data, new transportation technology, advanced energy sources, and security. In addition, stay tuned for how students will have the opportunity to showcase posters, demonstrations and otherwise engage firsthand in the conference. For more information, please see 
here.

Celebrate the summer with CEE

July 6, 2015

PHOTO: CEE Summer FunCEE is excited to host a day of department activities and off-campus community building this summer! The day will consist of kayaking off of Carson Beach in South Boston, followed by a picnic and a walk around the Boston Harborwalk to take in Pleasure Bay. If you would like to participate, please complete this Google form by Monday, July 6 with your availability and preferences. After review, the date will be set according to everyone’s responses. We hope you will join for a day of CEE summer fun!

CEE provides seed funding to two new research projects

July 6, 2015

PHOTO: Civil and Environmental Engineering capstone class installs their low-cost CLARITY air quality sensors on campus last year.A CEE research seed funding and graduate fellowship opportunity, now in its second year, promotes collaborative thinking and action that result in widespread impact, improvement in the lives of people, and promotion of sustainability. The winning entries combine a myriad of disciplines within the department such as atmospheric chemistry, statistical physics, fluid dynamics, and environmental microbiology. The 2015 recipients are: “Fluid Fragmentation into Droplets Meets Microbiology,” submitted by professors Martin Polz and Lydia Bourouiba; and “From Measurement Data to Environmental Information: Interpreting Air Quality Sensors via Data Mining and Knowledge Discovery,” submitted by professors Marta Gonzalez, Colette Heald, and Jesse Kroll. Additionally, two graduate students will receive fellowships to work on the projects for the upcoming year. For the article, please see here

Penny Chisholm awarded MIT’s highest faculty honor

July 6, 2015

PHOTO: New Institute Professors (from left): Sallie "Penny" Chisholm, Ron Rivest, and Marcus ThompsonOn June 29, Professor Sallie “Penny” Chisholm joined a select group of 13 MIT professors awarded with the title of Institute Professor. This esteemed title is the highest honor given by MIT’s faculty and administration, celebrating the selected faculty members for their scholarly and educational accomplishments, as well as for their outstanding leadership and service. “Penny Chisholm [is] a pioneering field scientist whose discoveries revolutionized our understanding of the oceans,” said MIT President L. Rafael Reif. Chisholm’s new appointment is effective July 1, making her one of the first faculty members to be named Institute Professor since 2008. For the article, please see here.

CEE alumnus’ social enterprise turns plastic waste to 3D printed filament

June 29, 2015

PHOTO: Sidhant Pai '14 works on ReFilBot, a machine used for transforming recycled plastic flakes into 3-mm 3-D printing filament.In 2012, CEE undergraduate Sidhant Pai ’14 recognized a gap in the 3D filament market for a recycled filament offering. The idea turned into a project and since then has become a social enterprise that empowers Indian urban waste pickers with the technology to turn plastic waste into 3-D printer filament. The company, Protoprint, markets the filament globally and provides consumers with an ethically sourced, recycled alternative to virgin plastic. “I think the best way to empower a community is to make them a primary stakeholder in the model,” Pai said. For the article, please see here. For a video on Protoprint, please see here.

Alumni Association seeks nominations for board of directors

June 29, 2015

PHOTO: MIT Alumni Association LogoMIT’s Alumni Association is calling for nominations for President-select and six Term Directors to join their prestigious Board of Directors. Members of the Board of Directors sit on the policy-making body for the Association and oversee the Association’s work in service to MIT and its alumni. Directors are expected to present a broad perspective on policies, procedures, and the long-range agenda for the Association as well as bring a breadth of experience and points of view. For consideration for the Board of Directors during the 2015-2016 period, nominations are due by August 3, 2015. For more information or to make a nomination, please see here.

Sports companies connect with CEE at the second annual STE@M Day

June 29, 2015

The second annual STE@M (Sports Technology and Education @ MIT) Day took place last month, hosting representatives from a variety of sports companies, along with sports-related foundations and MIT startups. The groups toured a combination of 14 labs across six departments within the Institute, including CEE. For the STE@M Day event, CEE Research Scientist Dr. Zhao Qin introduced activities in CEE’s Pierce Laboratory to a group of people from broad industrial and educational areas, such as affiliates with Nike, PGA, Eastman and Loughborough University. Qin introduced the representatives to his team’s recent material innovations with spider silk and demonstrated the working process of a multimaterial 3D printer. For the article, please see here.

J-PAL seeks to improve poverty policymaking

June 29, 2015

PHOTO: J-PALThe Abdul Latif Jameel Community Initiatives (ALJCI) has bestowed a substantial grant to the Abdul Latif Jameel Poverty Action Lab (J-PAL) at MIT. Named after the father of CEE alumnus Mohammed Abdul Latif Jameel ‘78, J-PAL will use this funding to create the Government Partnership Initiative (GPI), which will work with governments to design, evaluate, and scale up programs that aim to reduce poverty. According to MIT President L. Rafael Reif, J-PAL’s work transforms research to action and Jameel’s “abiding commitment to serve the world's poorest people inspires us to accelerate our efforts and extend the reach of J-PAL's transformative insights.” For the article, please see here.

CEE team designs model to help devise erosion-prevention strategies

June 22, 2015

PHOTO: GreeneryThroughout the last few decades, large swaths of aquatic vegetation have disappeared around the world, including in the United States. In response, a team of CEE researchers has developed a model to help scientists understand how and when sediments move through a region of aquatic vegetation, as well as identify locations where aquatic vegetation may be less prone to erosion. “Wetlands are very important because they protect our coastal areas, but they are eroding,” said CEE graduate student Qingjun “Judy” Yang SM ‘15. “With this [work], engineers can do modeling on how the stresses vary, and whether it would be helpful to plant vegetation here or there, based on the equation.” The findings were published in the journal Water Resources Research. For the MIT news article, please see here.

#CEEsummer Instagram contest’s call for summer 2015 photos

June 22, 2015

PHOTO: InstagramCEE is excited to announce an Instagram photo contest, and opportunity for everyone in the department to share summer experiences. Every picture you take, tag @MIT_CEE and #CEEsummer. Photos will be evaluated based on the following criteria: creativity, originality, and alignment with CEE’s vision of seeking to understand the world, invent and lead with creative design. There will be two winners selected at the beginning of next term – one in line with the above criteria and another for the person that submits the most photos! Our prizes include an American Express gift card and a FitBit. Follow #CEEsummer on Instagram. 

CEE professor reports on MIT’s Climate Change Conversation

June 22, 2015

PHOTO: MIT SealCEE Professor Roman Stocker, chair of the MIT Climate Change Conversation Committee, submitted the committee's findings on June 12 to the Conversation Leadership: Provost Marty Schmidt, MITEI Director Bob Armstrong, Environmental Solutions Initiative Director Susan Solomon, and Vice President for Research Maria T. Zuber. Zuber then shared the report with all of MIT. "By tackling this important assignment with energy, imagination and seriousness, they delivered to our community an exceptionally constructive and illuminating process for exploring the most effective strategies for climate action," she said. Discussions will continue into the fall when President Reif shares an Institute plan for various ways MIT can be a leader in addressing climate change. For the article, please see here.

Three new faculty members to join CEE in 2015-2016 academic year

June 22, 2015

PHOTO: New FacultyCEE is pleased to announce that three faculty members will join the department, come next fall. Admir Masic, currently an independent group leader at the Max Planck Institute of Colloids and Interfaces in Germany, will join Pierce Laboratory. His work is experimental, focused on the characterization of structural and mechanical properties, including ageing and degradation over long time-scales. Benedetto Marelli joins CEE on November 1. Currently a postdoctoral research associate in the Biomedical Engineering Department at Tufts University, Marelli will strengthen the materials synthesis activities in Pierce Laboratory, and contribute to finding new ways to design and manufacture environmentally benign materials using synthetic biology and other approaches. Serguei Saavedra, of the department of environmental systems at the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology in Zurich, will join Parsons Laboratory in January 2016. He brings expertise in theoretical ecology to the department, introducing a complementary strength to existing research and education.

ONE@MIT summer newsletter – We’re changing the world

June 22, 2015

PHOTO: Global SystemsEveryday, ONE@MIT is changing the world with innovative research and cutting-edge education. The electronic newsletter’s summer issue features a variety of exciting highlights, all of which emphasize CEE’s ongoing initiatives and provide a deeper understanding of the department’s future. Stories in the newsletter include a Q&A with Professor John Ochsendorf on the Collier Memorial, an in-depth look into the Kuwait-MIT Signature Project, a photo gallery from the 2015 Commencement festivities, and more. To access the newsletter, visit one.mit.edu.

Save the Date: Industry Jobs Panel for Postdocs and Graduate Students

June 22, 2015

PHOTO: Discussion PanelAfter a successful panel on academic jobs was held in the spring, the CEE postdoctoral committee is excited to follow up with an organized Lunch and Learn session on industry career paths. The event, open to postdocs and graduate students, will be Wednesday, July 15th at 12 p.m. in 1-131 and includes a panel discussion with PhDs at different stages in their careers who chose industry instead of academia. Please RSVP here.

Student Profile: Xiaojing “Ruby” Fu

June 22, 2015

PHOTO: Ruby FuCEE graduate student Ruby Fu says that, growing up, she was a witness to “a montage of environmental changes” in her native China. Environmental challenges always on her mind, Fu now works under advisor Professor Ruben Juanes developing a mathematical model to study methane bubble plumes that are escaping from the seafloor – a phenomenon that is proven to be a significant contributor to climate change.How much methane is being released into the ocean? What happens to these bubbles once they enter the water? Do they make it into the atmosphere?” Fu said. “These are the kinds of big-picture questions we are encouraged to answer in Course 1.” Fu’s research will help develop a more accurate atmospheric methane budget and predict climate change trends. Read the profile here.

Elsevier’s inaugural “Green and Sustainable Chemistry Challenge” now accepting proposals

June 15, 2015

Photo: GreenTo encourage researchers to come up with new solutions, Elsevier is holding its first ever “Green and Sustainable Chemistry Challenge” - open to individuals or organizations operating in the not-for-profit and for-profit sectors from all countries. Projects in any field of green or sustainable chemistry are accepted, as long as they as they are applicable for use in developing countries. Submit your proposal by September 14, 2015. For more information, please see here.

Recent CEE graduate receives $5,000 to develop sustainable compost toilets

June 15, 2015

Photo: Elaine Kung '15 (second from left) and D-Lab instructor Libby Hsu (far right) with other members of the MIT and Salvadoran team in front of a newly completed compost toilet. In August, with support from MIT Tau Beta Pi, Kung will continue work she began with a D-Lab team on the redesign of a compost toilet for the Salvadoran rural health organization ASAPROSAR.CEE graduate Elaine Kung '15 has been awarded $5,000 by the MIT engineering honor society Tau Beta Pi to continue her inspiring work on the design of compost toilets in El Salvador. In January, Kung traveled to Santa Ana to work on their compost toilet design and involve community members in an exploration of different materials and construction techniques. "It's really meaningful to be able to continue the work I did with D-Lab over the fall semester and IAP, because it helps ensure that this project will be able to have a greater impact and be sustainable in the long term,” she said. Her goal is to reduce the production cost for compost toilets, and make them more affordable for the local community. For the article, please see here.

Lydia Bourouiba’s and the mechanics of rain splatter

June 15, 2015

Photo: LydiaThe connection between rain and contagion has long been a point of interest for scientists, including fluid dynamics expert and CEE professor Lydia Bourouiba. In 2014, she coauthored a study that employed high-speed videography to demonstrate the path of pathogens after projection by sneezes or coughs. She later used this same technique, as well as combined experimental and theoretical approaches, to elucidate the mechanisms of rain-induced pathogen transport between leaves - particularly the role of their surface and compliance in shaping the fluid dynamic processes at play. According to a profile on Bourouiba’s work published in Nautilus, the images and accompanying physics created by her and her team subsequently revealed, in depth, the mechanisms of rain splatter and ultimately can assist in the control of crop epidemics. For the article, please see here.

Breaking down urban social networks

June 15, 2015

PhotoUntil now, studies of human interactions through mobile communication and social media have always been conducted at the country scale. Ultimately, they conclude that social networks are primarily determined by geographic proximity. Now a new study, led by a CEE team of researchers, finds urban social networks are not determined geographically, but socially. The study was published this week in Scientific Reports. “I was interested to investigate the relationship of social networks and human distance with the built environment and urban transportation,” said CEE Professor Marta González, co-author of the paper. For the article, please see here.


 Ruben Juanes: Exploring subsurface energy, from academics to industry

June 15, 2015

Photo: RubenPart of the Institute since 2006, CEE Professor Ruben Juanes knew he wanted a future in the sciences since he was in middle school. Now, the majority of his research is dedicated to flows related to energy and the environment - particularly the simultaneous flow of multiple fluids through porous media. “MIT is a very stimulating place,” Juanes said, in a profile by the MIT Energy Initiative. “What really makes MIT special are the students.” To him, there’s nothing as fulfilling—from an academic perspective—as seeing students evolve and mature and become the world experts in their field. “That process, I must tell you, is magical.” For the article, please see here.

Students trek to MIT.nano construction site

June 15, 2015

Photo: ClassIn mid-April, students of the CEE 1.011 Project Evaluation and Management course took to the field in an unprecedented way – they journeyed to the building site of MIT.nano to see, firsthand, the decision-making that goes into large-scale construction and transportation endeavors. Organized by CEE Professor Joseph Sussman, the field trip was executed in an effort to give the students a glimpse into a real-world, complex construction project. “I tell students: ‘You saw the PowerPoint in class, now put on a hard hat and reflective vest and go where things are happening to a get a real idea of how projects work,’” said Sussman. The construction of MIT.nano, the Institute’s planned nanoscale-research center, is located in the heart of campusFor the article, please see here.