Agriculture, Innovation and the Environment Short Program

July 28, 2016

A five-day MIT Professional Education course — Agriculture, Innovation, and the Environment — showcased new technologies and strategies for making the agriculture industry more productive.From June 13-17, the CEE department, in collaboration with MIT Professional Education, offered a new short program, “Agriculture, Innovation, and the Environment,” to provide a contemporary perspective on the agriculture industry and offer solutions to increase productivity and sustainability. The curriculum included multiple MIT and CEE faculty and initiative heads, government leaders, and industry representatives who gave a holistic view of agriculture challenges and opportunities. Read more on MIT News.

Climate Change Unlikely to Increase Malaria in West Africa 

July 28, 2016

Simulations are conducted for each of the 12 locations indicated on the map. The study field locations at Banizoumbou and Zindarou villages in Niger are located at the N3 marker. The model is tested against observations from the Garki district, located at maker NA1. The background image shows estimated persons per 0.0083° grid cell (roughly 1 km2) in 2010 from the WorldPop databaseBreene M. Kerr Professor Elfatih Eltahir, and his former students Teresa K. Yamana SB ’04 SM ’10 PhD ’15 and Arne Bomblies PhD ’09 have presented the results of a decade-long study on the impact of climate change on malaria transmission in West Africa, in a paper that was published by Nature Climate Change. The CEE team did field observations and a sophisticated model simulating village-scale malaria transmission. Mosquitos breed in shallow pools of water, laying their eggs in muddy puddles formed by rainfall making climate change relevant. Mosquito numbers in West Africa typically peak during the rainy season between June and September, but with rising temperatures fewer mosquitos will survive, which will help to limit malaria outbreaks. Read about their research findings

Professor Colette Heald to serve as Associate Department Head; Professor Jesse Kroll is chair of the Graduate Education Committee

July 28, 2016

Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering professors Colette Heald (left) and Jesse Kroll assumed new leadership appointments.Effective July 1, Professor Colette Heald now is CEE Associate Department Head, replacing Professor Eltahir who served in the position for the last three years. In addition, Associate Professor Jesse Kroll is now the Chair of the Graduate Education Committee and Chair of Graduate Admissions. Kroll assumed this new leadership position June 1 from Professor Heidi Nepf who stepped down as committee chair in May after many years in the role. Read more on MIT News.

Pellenq and Ulm Design Climate-Friendly Concrete

July 11, 2016

Left to right: Roland Pellenq of civil and environmental engineering (CEE), Katerina Ioannidou of the MIT Energy Initiative, and Franz-Josef Ulm of CEE have developed a detailed understanding of the nanoscale forces at work as cement hardens—a critical step toward developing stronger, longer-lasting, less carbon-intensive concrete for “greener” construction in the future. Professor Franz J. Ulm, Senior Research Scientist Roland Pellenq and MIT Energy Initiative Postdoctoral Fellow Katerina Ioannidou aim to make concrete more sustainable, stronger, durable, and climate-friendly. Recently, the research team identified the nanoscale forces that control how particles pack together during the formation of cement “paste” and want to control those forces to improve the paste while reducing harmful production impacts on the environment.  Read more on the MIT Energy Initiative website.

Salvucci Receives Honorable Ray LaHood Award

July 11, 2016

Salvucci Receives Honorable Ray LaHood Award At the 2016 Women's Transportation Seminar (WTS) international gala this spring, senior lecturer Fred Salvucci was recognized for his significant contributions to the transportation industry and his support of women and minorities in the field with the Honorable Ray LaHood Award (Man of the Year) -- a new honor created just this year. In addition to being honored at an international level, Salvucci was also celebrated at the WTS Boston Chapter’s Annual Awards and Scholarship Dinner on June 29. View all 2016 award recipients on the WTS website.

Microscale Marine Interactions May Shape Critical Carbon Cycles

July 11, 2016

Fluorescence microscopy reveals the surface of a single synthetic particle colonized by wild marine microorganisms (green), which are fluorescently labeled with a double-stranded DNA stain.A team of MIT researchers -- including Professors Otto X. Cordero and Martin Polz, and Postdoctoral Associate Manoshi S. Datta -- conducted research that shows how bacteria from the ocean assemble into multispecies communities around particles of organic matter, and how these communities could shape particle degradation and impact oceanic carbon cycles. “Our results suggest that the existing ecological theory developed for plant communities that extend over scales of kilometers, may be applicable to microbial communities congregated on particles of tens of microns in size,” says Cordero, the lead senior author on this work. “We observe that, because of the dynamics of community assembly, most taxa that become abundant on particles do not degrade the substrate, but instead live from nutrients released by other bacteria, potentially excluding the actual degraders and retarding the recycling of organic matter in the ocean. This shows how the community ecology at microscales can have significant impact on global biogeochemical cycles." Read more on MIT News.

Making India's waste streams sustainable

July 11, 2016

Roadside dumps like this one in Muzaffarnagar, India are the result of insufficient collection and treatment services.In Mumbai, the Deonar dumping ground has piles of garbage so tall that they can affect airplane flight patterns. Unfortunately, many cities in India suffer waste management issues. Research Scientist Jeremy Gregory and Randolph Kirchain, principal research scientist in the Materials Processing Center, are working together to create a decision-support tool to help cities in India optimize the way they collect, transport and treat their daily waste. The decision-support tool will interpret various parameters to create a waste management system catered to individual cities’ needs. Read more on MIT News.

Creating Air Quality Sensors in Delhi

June 24, 2016

tata air quality sensorPhD candidate and Tata Center for Technology Fellow David Hagan, and his advisor Professor Jesse Kroll, are working together to track pollution in Delhi, India -- one of the cities with the worst air conditions in the world. Kroll and Hagan are creating an inexpensive sensor that will record atmospheric chemistry and provide a positive user experience. Hagan envisions the data to be helpful in a variety of forms from HVAC system sensors to use in in-home monitoring systems. Read more on MIT News.

Fulbright 2016 Grant Awarded

June 24, 2016

Fulbright logoOmar Swei, a PhD candidate expected to graduate in February 2017, is the recipient of a 2016 Fulbright grant. Swei is one of eight MIT students and graduates to receive the prestigious grant. Swei will reside in Jordan and design new software to help transportation planners improve maintenance on the state-owned highway system. Read more on MIT News.

Researchers Produce New Silk-based Filtration Material

June 24, 2016

silk nanofibrilMIT and Tufts researchers revealed key nano-building blocks of natural silk to produce new naturally-based membrane filters that are more effective, less expensive, and greener compared to traditional products. This discovery could lead to new production methods and supply chain economics for water treatment facilities, food manufacturers, and life sciences organizations. The CEE researchers included Graduate Student Kai Jin; Postdoctoral Associate Shengjie Ling, and Markus J. Buehler, Department Head and McAfee Professor of Engineering. Professor David L. Kaplan contributed from Tufts University. Read more about their paper published in Nano Letters in MIT News.

TREX Featured in Spring Issue of MIT Spectrum

June 20, 2016

Over this past January’s Independent Activities Period, undergraduates visited Hawaii’s Mt. Kīlauea to measure air quality using custom sensors they built themselves. CEE’s Traveling Research Environmental Experiences program (TREX) is featured in the spring 2016 edition of MIT Spectrum, highlighting MIT’s continuous dedication towards education for a better world, a core component of the recently-launched MIT Campaign, Building a Better World. TREX students travel each year during the Independent Activities Period (IAP) to the Big Island of Hawaii to analyze the risks of human exposure to volcanic smog or “vog”. New this coming academic year, the TREX program will become a requirement for MIT students electing the Environmental Engineering Science minor to extend hands-on fieldwork benefits to their study. Read more about the TREX program in Spectrum.

 

Research Associate Attanucci’s Research Informs New MIT Commuting Benefits

June 20, 2016

Between now and September, MIT will roll out the Access MIT pass, one of several new commuter benefits for Cambridge campus faculty and staff. The new benefits include free, unlimited subway and local bus usage, and increased subsidies for parking at MBTA stations and commuter rail tickets.

On June 14, MIT announced the launch of Access MIT, a new series of commuter benefits for MIT faculty and staff. Benefits include free unlimited subway and local bus usage, increased subsidies for parking at MBTA stations and commuter rail tickets, and a shift to pay-per-day parking at many lots on campus. Access MIT stemmed from initial research conducted by the Transit Lab and CEE Research Associate John Attanucci. Attanucci says, “with this new approach, commuters will be able to drive one day then ride the T the next. By having options, we can begin changing the way people think about commuting.” Read more on MIT News.

Professor Bourouiba's Research on the Fluid Dynamics of Disease Transmission Featured by Nature

June 20, 2016

Lydia Bourouiba of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology in Cambridge uses mathematical modelling to study how sneeze droplets travel.Professor Lydia Bourouiba and her team's work on mathematical modeling and novel experimental investigations of infectious disease transmission appeared as a Nature News Feature. The feature discusses the novel methods and fundamental fluid dynamics modeling insights used by Professor Bourouiba to understand the process of transmission, particularity focusing on respiratory disease transmission. Various members of the medical community, including the former director of the National Center for Infectious Diseases at the United States Centers for Disease Control, commented on the work's importance for filling in key gaps in our current understanding of respiratory pathogens and transmission. Read the article here.

CEE Offers Three New Minors, New Subjects for 2016-17

June 20, 2016

Professor John Ochsendorf advises on structural design and mechanics.Effective this fall, CEE will offer three new minors for MIT undergraduates, including minors in Civil Engineering, Environmental Engineering Science, and Civil and Environmental Systems. CEE also is adding several new subjects for the coming year, including, one focused on ancient materials characterization, another on computational genomics, and the graduate level water resources management subject now will be made available to CEE undergraduates. “It's great to see the new curriculum updates in Course 1,” said CEESA President Tiffany Wang ‘17. “These new minors seem like a great way for students in other majors to incorporate their undergraduate programs with the domains of civil, environmental and systems engineering, and it brings more variety of backgrounds into the department.” Read more about these curricula changes on MIT News.

Martinez Appointed Vice-President, Association of Spanish Scientists in the USA (ECUSA)

June 20, 2016

Martinez Appointed Vice-President, Association of Spanish Scientists in the USA (ECUSA)On June 7, Research Scientist Francisco Martinez of CEE’s Laboratory for Atomistic & Molecular Mechanics (LAMM) was elected vice president of the Association of Spanish Scientists in the USA (ECUSA). ECUSA’s mission is to “promote the role of science, technology and their professionals in our society.” ECUSA highlights the exceedingly important work created by Spanish professionals in science and technology in the United States, and offers a large network for scientists to exchange ideas, interact, and participate in events together. Learn more about ECUSA on its website.

Bone-inspired Materials by Design

June 8, 2016

Bone Inspired DesignMIT engineers in collaboration with colleagues from Polytechnic University of Milan, Italy are achieving functional diversity in materials by combining a few pure components as building blocks to create diverse structures. The researchers selected bone to investigate these multifunctional composite design principles. The team used pure polymers and 3D printing to create new synthetic materials with a wide range of properties and applications. The research is described in a paper, “Bone-Inspired Materials by Design: Toughness Amplification Observed Using 3D Printing and Testing,” published in the journal Advanced Engineering Materials by lead author Flavia Libonati, a CEE Research Affiliate and Assistant Professor from Polytechnic University of Milan, Italy. Co-authors included graduate student Grace Gu; Research Scientist Zhao Qin; Professor Laura Vergani from Polytechnic University, and Markus Buehler. View the news announcement here.