CEE Grilled Cheese During Finals Week

May 19, 2016

grilled cheeseOn May 17, CEE students took time during a busy finals schedule to enjoy grilled cheese with classmates, professors, and staff. The grilled cheese sandwiches were cooked and served by Professors Eltahir, Marelli and Buehler and the CEE Academic Programs Office.

Zhao Ma Recipient of the Spring 2016 Marvin E. Goody Award

May 19, 2016

AwardMa, a dual degree candidate in M.Eng. in CEE and M.Arch. in Architecture, was awarded the Marvin E. Goody award for his thesis proposal, “Drone-based Assembly System for Generative Design and High-tolerance Construction”. The Goody award is given to a graduate student who is expecting to complete his or her Master’s thesis at the end of the following term, and who explores the bond between good design and good building, extends the horizons of existing building techniques and materials, and fosters links between academia and the building industry. The next call for applications will be in October for Master’s students graduating in June 2017. For more information about the award, visit the Grants, Awards and Prizes section of the Graduate Students Handbook.

CEE Announces Three New Professorships

May 19, 2016

Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering professors (l-r) Elfatih Eltahir, Admir Masic, and Benedetto Marelli will receive named professorships, effective July 1.Also effective July 1, Professors Elfatih Eltahir, Benedetto Marelli, and Admir Masic will hold new institute-wide professorship title. Professor Eltahir will hold the institute-wide Breene M. Kerr Professorship for a five-year term. Marelli will hold the Paul M. Cook Career Development Professorship, and Masic will hold the Esther and Harold E. Edgerton Career Development Professorship. Read more on MIT News.

Stephanie Chin Awarded MIT Freshman Award

May 19, 2016

Stephanie Chin Wins Freshman AwardOn May 12, Stephanie Chin received an Institute-wide Freshman Award for Distinguished Achievement in Research for her UROP work on the use of nano cement additives for sustainability of built environment, conducted under the supervision of Professor Oral Buyukozturk and Research Scientist Dr. Kunal Kupwade-Patil. As part of her UROP work, Chin travelled in January with Buyukozturk’s group to Kuwait and presented results of her in-situ experiments using nano-additives to characterize the cement matrix and structure at various length scales. Professor Buyukozturk said, “We are very happy to have identified Stephanie as an undergraduate researcher in our group, and particularly pleased that as a result of this experience she has designated CEE as her major. This is the second year in a row that our group received this prestigious undergraduate research award.”

Professor Jesse Kroll Awarded Tenure

May 19, 2016

Top row (l-r): Mark Bathe, Sangbae Kim, and Paola Cappellaro. Second row (l-r): Armando Solar-Lezama, Steven Barrett, Jesse Kroll, and Youssef Marzouk.Professor Jesse Kroll was promoted to Associate Professor with Tenure, effective July 1. Professor Kroll’s research focuses on the properties and chemical transformation of organic species in the Earth’s atmosphere. His interests also include the development of new analytical tools for the measurement and characterizations of organics in both the gas and condensed phase, and the use of these tools in the lab and field to better constrain the amount, nature, and chemical evolution of atmospheric organics. Read about all recently-announced tenured faculty in the School of Engineering of 2016 in MIT News.

Professor Colette Heald spoke at J-WAFS Conference about the impacts of climate change and air pollution on crop yields

May 11, 2016

The J-WAFS Food and Water Conference included a startup showcase featuring nearly two dozen MIT-related and other local companies. The food and water sectors have experienced significant growth in startup activity, as indicated by the excellent turnout and interest.On April 27 and 28, the Abdul Latif Jameel World Water and Food Security (J-WAFS) and MIT Industrial Liaison Program (ILP) hosted a conference centered around innovation and collaboration for addressing food and water security issues all around the world. Professors across several MIT departments joined to educate the audience, including CEE Mitsui Career Development Associate Professor Colette Heald. Professor Heald talked about how both climate change and air pollution affect future crop yields, and emphasized the importance of environmental observation. Read more about the J-WAFS conference on MIT News.

Ultra-thin Silk Keeps Fruit Fresh

May 11, 2016

Ultra-thin Silk Keeps Fruit FreshProfessor Benedetto Marelli reported a study in which he and coworkers added a thin silk coating onto strawberries, resulting in increased fruit firmness and preventing fruit decay. The 27-35 microns-thick coating is thin, odorless, and does not affect fruit texture. The research, reported by Tufts last Friday, was picked up by many major news outlets. Since his arrival at MIT, Professor Marelli has continued and expanded his research in this area and included CEE students in the experimentation.   

CEE through the lens of the recent MIT Open House

May 11, 2016

MIT Open House activities from the Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering were designed for visitors of all ages.The CEE exhibits at the April 23 Open House proved inspiring, informative, and educational to visitors of all ages who participated in activities within the Pierce and Parsons Labs and under the large tent in Killian Court. The department showcased among many of its initiatives ways to solve difficult design tasks by immersing 3-D frames into soapy water, simulated attacks and defenses on large-scale utility network systems, and transformed hair into holograms. Read the CEE specifics of MIT’s Open House here.

Professor Ben-Akiva highlighted for “QualiT” App

May 11, 2016

QualiT, an app launched as part of a collaboration between MIT and the Massachusetts Bay Transportation Authority (MBTA), allows riders of the Silver Line to rate their bus trips.Professor Moshe Ben-Akiva and a team made up of both MIT professors and students in the Department of Urban Planning (DUSP) partnered with the MBTA to create “QualiT,” an application of the Future Mobility Sensing (FMS) app that was developed by researchers from the MIT Intelligent Transportation Systems Lab and the Singapore-MIT Alliance for Research and Technology (SMART).  QualiT allows Silver Line passengers to rate their trips and MBTA experience. QualiT takes location data and anonymous feedback to measure passenger satisfaction, with the goal to help the MBTA improve service. Read the full MIT News story here.

IJAM Paper receives accolades

May 3, 2016

International Journal of Applied MechanicsResearch Scientist Zhao Qin and McAfee Professor of Engineering and Department Head Markus Buehler received a Most Cited Paper Award for their co-authored paper, “Robustness-Strength Performance of Hierarchical Alpha-Helical Protein Filaments” published in the International Journal of Applied Mechanics (IJAM). It was selected by the editor-in-chief as the journal's inaugural Most Cited Paper Award among all papers published between 2009 and 2015. This paper has been previously selected as the cover story and also has also received accolades as the best paper award of the journal in 2010. The research shows that by using the hierarchical nanostructures found in biology's construction materials, engineers can create synthetic materials with new properties, such as combining exceptional strength and robustness.

Professor Heald profiled in MIT News’ Spotlight 

May 3, 2016

Colette Heald describes her current work as “trying to understand the sources, transformation, and impact of gases and particles in the atmosphere, which is very dynamic with a lot of chemical compounds that interact.”“There’s Something in the Air,” a feature about Professor Colette Heald, was a headline story in MIT News Spotlight on April 28 describing her atmospheric chemistry career. The article describes her route to MIT and notes her global recognition last year as recipient of the prestigious AGU James Macelwane Medal. The article describes her current work as aiming “to understand the sources, transformation, and impact of gases and particles in the atmosphere…affecting ecosystems, air quality, and even the climate itself.” Another major area of her research is the complex interaction between the atmosphere and the biosphere. Read the entire MIT News story.

Professor Hemond and co-author win book award

May 3, 2016

Book with MedalProfessor Harry Hemond and co-author Liz Fechner were awarded the 2015 Texty Textbook Excellence Award in the Physical Sciences category for edition III of their recent book, Chemical Fate and Transport in the Environment, published by Elsevier/Academic Press. The award is given annually by the Text and Academic Authors Association at the organization’s annual conference; the next award will be presented in San Antonio, TX, on June 24, 2016.

Earthquake relief effort for residents of Ecuador and Japan

April 26, 2016

The Red Cross

Professor Otto X. Cordero and other Ecuadorian-natives of the MIT community are helping lead recent earthquake relief efforts by publicizing groups accepting donations. Speaking about the recent Ecuadorian quakes, Professor Cordero says “Many of these towns have only basic infrastructure where people usually make a living from tourism and fishing. Their lives have been devastated and turned upside down. The situation is still very dire and will be for some time.” Read the MIT News story for ways to give. 

How to make cities more efficient

April 26, 2016


New research shows how to identify buildings where retrofitting for energy efficiency will have the biggest impact on a city’s overall greenhouse gas emissions. The findings, which require only minimal information about the buildings and their energy use, was developed by Professors Marta González and Franz-Josef Ulm and six others. The results are being reported in the journal Interface, published by the Royal Society in the U.K.  Read the MIT News story.

Prof. Serguei Saavedra’s quantitative ecology research is April 2016 cover story in the journal, Ecology

April 25, 2016

Ecology April 2016 cover

Professor Serguei Saavedra, working with a team of European ecology researchers, highlighted some of the major processes shaping Poland’s Bialoweiza  Forest’s delicate biodiversity. The paper, Seasonal Species Interactions Minimize the Impact of Species Turnover on the Likelihood of Community Persistence, is the cover story of this month’s issue of the journal, Ecology. Bialoweiza Forest is one of the last and largest remaining parts of the immense primeval forest that once stretched across the European Plain. The results show for the first time how seasonal interaction changes can be coupled to the long-term persistence of ecological communities, explains Saavedra. Read the MIT News story.

Prof. Bourouiba describes importance of fundamental mechanistic understanding in epidemiology at Beyond 2016: MIT’s Frontiers of the Future

April 25, 2016


On April 12, Professor Bourouiba spoke at MIT’s forward-looking symposium, Frontiers of the Future. She told the audience that among the problems the world faces is the emergence — and sometimes the re-emergence — of deadly infectious diseases, which were thought to be history by now. Understanding and controlling or mitigating these disease trends require bridging a divide of disciplines, she said, between the microbiology-level study of the disease agents themselves, and the ecology or population-level epidemiology dynamics of spread. At this intermediate scale, physical processes are ubiquitous and can open the way in rooting epidemiology in physical sciences and microbiology to improve infectious disease control and mitigation. Read the MIT News story.

Fred Salvucci talks transportation on NPR’s Here and Now

April 25, 2016


Senior Lecturer Fred Salvucci’s recent interview by NPR Here and Now host Jeremy Hobson aired Wednesday, April 13. The feature, “Public Transportation In America: How It Stalled And Where It’s Going,” describes how fifty years ago the money Massachusetts received for new equipment of both commuter rail and rapid transit, and the renovation and expansion of the track and infrastructure, all came from funding the Commonwealth got in lieu of the interstate highway funds for the Inner Belt and Southwest expressway that were not accepted by the state. Salvucci cautioned that we cannot repeat that process today, because current funds are needed for existing infrastructure to be repaired and upgraded. He added, “What’s been missing for a couple of decades really is the serious kind of bipartisan support for building infrastructure.” Listen to highlights of the radio report.

Chocolate-inspired theory predicts thickness of coatings

April 12, 2016

chocolate coatingResearchers in Professor Pedro Reis’s lab, in collaboration with a team from EPFL in Switzerland, have developed a rapid fabrication technique and a theory that accurately predicts the final thickness of a shell of a known material given the original rheological properties of the material and the geometry of the mold used for the coating. Inspired by the making of chocolate confections like hollow chocolate eggs and bonbons, the fabrication technique and theory may lead to application innovations for artificial vesicles, smart skins, and protective and packaging films on curved components. Read the MIT News article and view the video

Summer research to examine Italian art, archeology and architecture (ONE-MA3) as prereq for fall subject

April 8, 2016

Pompeii ruinsProfessor Admir Masic will conduct two weeks of fieldwork in Italy this summer with undergraduates who sign up to join him as a prerequisite for a new fall special subject, Heritage Science and Technology (1.S993). The participants will travel to Privernum, Pompeii and Turin from June 19 to July 2 for this unique in-field, hands-on opportunity to research ancient structures and materials. Read the MIT News story.

Professor Kausel inaugurated into Chilean Academy of Engineering

April 8, 2016

Prof. Eduardo KauselProfessor Eduardo Kausel was recently elected into the Chilean Academy of Engineering as Corresponding Member. Department Head Markus J. Buehler congratulated Prof. Kausel on this honor saying, “This achievement is a recognition of decades of contributions to engineering research, and to the excellent mentoring of students. We are very proud of you.”

CEE Professors to speak at MIT’s Frontiers of the Future

April 8, 2016

MIT Frontiers of the FutureProfessor Lydia Bourouiba was selected as one of 13 MIT faculty to present at MIT’s Frontiers of the Future from 1:30-3:30 pm on Tuesday, April 12 in Kresge Auditorium as part of the MIT2016 celebration. Professor John Ochsendorf, Chair of the MIT2016 Steering Committee and Colloquium Co-Chair, will offer closing remarks. Read more

Professor Kausel publishes biomechanics paper

April 8, 2016

Prof. Kausel publishes biomechanics paperProfessor Kausel recently published his first biomechanics paper in Stem Cell Reports: “Integrated Analysis of Contractile Kinetics, Force Generation, and Electrical Activity in Single Human Stem Cell-Derived Cardiomyocytes.” The paper measures and predicts how strongly cardiomyocytes made from stem cells beat, including the contractile force of each cell.Kausel was responsible for the mechanical model in the paper. Learn more.

CEE grad student advanced to the MIT IDEAS Global Challenge finals

April 8, 2016

MIT IDEAS Global Challenge Innovation ShowcaseCongratulations to CEE graduate student Mark Membreño who made it to the final rounds of the MIT IDEAS Global Challenge Innovation Showcase on Saturday for his Bolivia GSAP toilet idea. Although he did not win the competition, his idea supports innovation and entrepreneurship as a positive public service, the mission of the annual challenge. To learn more about the challenge and winners, visit the ideas-competition website

CEE Research Speed Dating: Joining efforts to build a more sustainable future

March 29, 2016

PHOTO: A presentation during the 2016 CEE Research Speed Dating Day eventApproaching a global challenge from the bottom up often results in transformative large-scale impact. The annual CEE Research Speed Dating event, held this year on Feb. 18, brought together 27 CEE faculty, researchers, and students, and more than 120 other attendees, to present research, stimulate conversation, and evoke community networking. “For new faculty like me, this event is a great opportunity to fully immerse ourselves in our department and to exchange ideas in an interdisciplinary context,” said event co-organizer and CEE Assistant Professor Admir Masic. Read the article.

Markus J. Buehler awarded 2016 Outstanding Young Scientist Award

March 29, 2016

PHOTO: Markus BuehlerDepartment Head and McAfee Professor of Engineering Markus Buehler was selected as the 2016 recipient of the Outstanding Young Scientist Award (OYSA) of the NANOSMAT Society.  The NANOSMAT Society is an international organization focused on materials related to nanoscience, engineering and nanotechnology, and hosts a series of international conferences. The OYSA award recognizes professional career achievements for those up to 45 years old. Specifically, Buehler was selected for his significant contributions in making nanotechnology sustainable and scalable for large-volume materials applications and for the development and application of new modeling, design and manufacturing approaches for advanced materials. Earlier this year, Buehler was also elected a Fellow of the NANOSMAT Society. More information.