March 11, 2014
PBS NewsHour reporter Rebecca Jacobson spent an afternoon in Professor Sallie (Penny) Chisholm’s laboratory documenting Chisholm’s work with the photosynthetic bacteria Prochloroccocus. The phytoplankton, discovered by Chisholm and colleagues in 1985, provides an estimated 5-10 percent of the oxygen in Earth’s atmosphere.
March 7, 2014
Yingxiang Yang and Jameson Toole, graduate students in Professor Marta González Human Mobility and Networks Laboratory (HuMNet), won first and second place, respectively, in the two categories of the MIT Big Data Challenge hosted by CSAIL and Transportation@MIT. The goal of the competition was to help the City of Boston better understand taxi ridership, such as the best locations for cab stands and specific locations and times of day that people most need taxis. The competition was two-pronged: predict the total number of taxi pickups at specific locations across Boston during a two-hour window based on historical taxi data and other related data sets, including weather, events and social media; and create the most compelling scientific visualization using this data. Yang and his team won first place in the prediction competition, and Toole won second place with his scientific visualization of one week’s taxi pickups and drop-offs. Yang’s team included graduate students Lauren Alexander, Serdar Colak, Suma Desu and Toole.
March 5, 2014
Today, computer algorithms control every major city infrastructure. Computer models that simulate present and future cyber and physical systems are critical in enabling research breakthroughs. They provide tools to design and test future human-made infrastructure and materials, and give us scientific insights into the Earth’s complex natural systems. To prepare CEE students for this computationally intensive work environment, the department is launching new initiatives to teach the principles of computational thinking and problem solving at the graduate and undergraduate levels. Read a news story.
March 4, 2014
February 28, 2014
Professor Philip Gschwend describes the “legacy of problems buried in our environment” that often arise as side effects of products — such as PCBs and catalytic converters — designed to solve already existing problems. His research group has developed inexpensive sheets of polyethylene that can be placed in mud or water to soak up chemicals and measure their availability as they move through the environment. But the real answer, he says, is to prevent such problems in the first place by involving environmental chemists at the outset of materials and chemicals design.
February 25, 2014
The American Society of Civil Engineers has announced that a paper by senior lecturer Eric Adams and James Gensheimer S.M. '10 is winner of the Karl Emil Hilgard Hydraulic Prize. “Dynamics of Particle Clouds in Ambient Currents with Application to Open-Water Sediment Disposal,” by Gensheimer, Adams, and Adrian Law (a professor at Nanyang Technological University) was published in the Journal of Hydraulic Engineering Feb. 2013. The Hilgard Prize will be presented to Adams during the Environmental and Water Resources Institute Congress in Portland, Oregon in June.
February 21, 2014
Over the past three years, MIT spinout Sanergy, which was co-founded by CEE alumnus Joel Veenstra ’11, has developed a model that impacts the entire sanitation value chain — from clean toilets to waste management and conversion — in a 500,000-person Kenyan slum that lacks a modern sanitation system, helping the community stay clean and earn a living. This startup, its co-founders say, demonstrates that such value chains could be potential solutions to a sanitation crisis that affects 2.5 billion people worldwide. Read an MIT News story.
February 19, 2014
The annual CEE Research Speed Dating event, held Feb. 7 this year, is designed to expedite the process of creating research “matches” among scientists and engineers from multiple disciplines by offering four-minute sound-bite talks followed by one minute of Q-and-A. This year two students — Christos Nicolaides and Jameson Toole working with professors Marta González and Pedro Reis — devised the Speed Dating Network App to give participants a way of keeping track of who they want to connect with and seeing how those people connect with others. The app builds a network map based on real-time input from attendees, providing a semi-permanent conference takeaway. Read a story. View a photo album on Facebook.
February 18, 2014
William Finney, an M.Eng. student in the Environmental and Water Quality Engineering track, blogged during his January fieldwork in Uganda. Finney, grad students Joyce Cheung and Joel Kaatz, and senior lecturer Richard Schuhmann are working with the Uganda Red Cross on the development of an early warning system for floods in the Manafwa River Basin in Eastern Uganda. Read Finney’s blog.
February 14, 2014
February 13, 2014
In a “Big Idea” article in the Feb. 5 issue of New Scientist, Professor Markus Buehler writes that the hidden structures of music are universal patterns of nature that can help engineers create new materials like artificial spider silk. Buehler, who is department head of CEE, focuses his research on understanding materials at the molecular scale and using natural materials as inspiration for designing new strong, lightweight materials. Read the full article in Slate.com.
February 13, 2014
Computer animation artists don’t have a simple mathematical means for describing bouncy, curl hair, so hair is usually extremely rigid or straight with a to-and-fro swing. But in the Feb. 13 issue of Physical Review Letters, Professor Pedro Reis, James Miller PhD ’14 and co-authors provide the first detailed model for the 3-D shape of a strand of curly hair. Computer animation engineers could use the model, as well as engineers who want to predict the curve that long steel pipes, tubing and cable develop after being coiled for transport. In engineering terminology, these items are all examples of a slender, flexible rod. Read a news story.
February 11, 2014
Doctoral student Alison Hoyt is in the peat forests of Borneo studying the hydrological and carbon cycles to determine if, over time, these forests serve as net carbon sinks or sources. Professor Charles Harvey is leading this project, which aims to better understand the role hydrology plays in controlling carbon emissions and subsidence. Read and subscribe to Hoyt’s blog.
February 10, 2014
MIT President Rafael Reif on Feb. 3 named CEE Professor Cynthia Barnhart chancellor of MIT. Barnhart received her doctoral degree from MIT CEE in 1988 and, after serving on the faculty of the Georgia Institute of Technology for four years, joined the MIT CEE faculty in 1992. She has been associate dean of the School of Engineering since 2007, and served as acting dean of engineering from 2010 to 2011. She has taught courses in large-scale optimization, airline operations research, the global airline industry, and transportation operations, planning, and control. Her research group develops models, optimization methods and decision support systems for large-scale transportation problems. Read the announcement.
February 10, 2014
Assistant Professor Pedro Reis has been promoted to associate professor without tenure, effective July 1, 2014. Reis works in mechanics of solids and structures, with an emphasis on instabilities associated with thin objects, such as thin films or 2-D materials, including shells. While conventionally, instabilities are regarded as a first step towards failure, Reis uses mechanical instabilities as a means of exploiting new functionalities over a wide range of length scales. Learn more about his research by visiting his Elasticity, Geometry and Statistics Laboratory website.
February 7, 2014
Seeking to make the invisible visible, Professor Roman Stocker, postdoc Vicente Fernandez and former postdoc Orr Shapiro used video microscopy a to reveal the path of water as it flows around coral, movement caused by the oscillation of cilia on the coral’s surface. The resulting image, “Invisible Coral Flows,” is winner in the photography category of the 2013 International Science and Engineering Visualization Challenge, sponsored by the National Science Foundation and the American Association for the Advancement of Science, and appears on the cover of the Feb. 7 issue of Science. Read a news story.
February 6, 2014
Sophomore Holly Josephs asks, “What if running were the norm instead of walking?” in a radio story about sophomore Wesley Lau, who says running is the “most convenient” form of transportation. “A Runner’s Highs and Lows,” Josephs' 2.5-minute piece created for MIT’s Terrascope Radio, was named to Generation PRX’s (Public Radio Exchange) list of Best Youth-Made Radio of 2013. In the interview, Lau says he plans to run every line of Boston’s subway in its entirety, including the Red Line’s 25-mile branch to Braintree. CEE lecturer Ari Epstein directs Terrascope Radio, which is part of MIT's Terrascope program for freshmen, a collaboration of CEE and the Department of Earth, Atmospheric and Planetary Sciences.
January 31, 2014
By 2020, 70 percent of the world’s population will live in cities, says Professor Marta González. She hopes to improve urban livability, transportation and energy networks through her study of human mobility via cellphone data. “Cellphones are the neurons of a truly global nervous system of the global communications network,” said González, whose work is currently being tested in transportation systems and logistics planning in Rio de Janeiro, as the city prepares to host the 2014 World Soccer Cup.
January 28, 2014
CEE department head Professor Markus Buehler has accepted a two-year appointment as editor of the Materials: Synthesis or Self Assembly section of the journal Nanotechnology, the first journal dedicated to all aspects of nanoscale science and technology. Since its launch in 1990, Nanotechnology has gone from a quarterly to a weekly publication and is now ranked among the top 10 journals worldwide in the field of nanoscience. The journal is published by the Institute of Physics, a society dating back to 1874.
January 24, 2014
CEE Professor Colette Heald spoke recently about the need to understand how particles and gases in the atmosphere evolve physically and chemically and what effects they have on human health, climate and crops. Climate change and ozone pollution are expected to have a major regional effect by 2050, when climate change could cause a 20-40 percent decrease in maize crop yields, and ozone pollution a similar but lesser impact on wheat crops.
January 21, 2014
The National Science Foundation (NSF) announced that Pedro Reis has received a 2014 Early Career Award from the NSF’s Structural Mechanics and Materials program for his project, “Smart Morphable Surfaces for Aerodynamic Drag Control.” With the award, Reis plans to devise and formalize a new class of Smart Morphable Surfaces (Smorphs) that can achieve on-demand and reversible topography. He hopes this functionality can eventually be exploited for aerodynamic drag reduction and control on structures with complex-shaped surfaces, much like a dimpled golf ball, albeit with added switchable and tunable capabilities. The Early Career Award is the NSF’s most prestigious award for young researchers. Read a news release.
January 14, 2014
A radio story by senior Linda Seymour and junior Shante Stowell was included on Public Radio Exchange’s “PRX STEM Story Project” tumblr, a collection of exemplary science and technology stories created by radio professionals from across the nation. “How To Do Science: Eat Lunch and Drink Coffee” is the second episode in the “Measuring Marine Microbes” podcast, a National Science Foundation-sponsored project documenting research by CEE Professor Martin Polz and Professor Scott Manalis of biological engineering. The undergrads are working with CEE lecturer Ari Epstein on production of the podcasts through MIT’s Terrascope Radio, which is part of MIT's Terrascope program for freshmen, a collaboration of CEE and the Department of Earth, Atmospheric and Planetary Sciences.
January 10, 2014
The December issue of the On Balance Newsletter describes work by Professor Carolina Osorio that improves the efficiency of traffic simulators used to optimize design and operations of urban transportation networks. Osorio and Michel Bierlaire of the École Polytechnique Fédérale de Lausanne designed an optimization framework that bridges the high-definition results of a microscopic simulation model with the computational efficiency of a macroscopic analytical model. They addressed a traffic signal control problem in the city center of Lausanne, Switzerland, and their new methodology identified signal plans that lead to a 34 percent reduction in average trip travel time.
January 10, 2014
Marine cyanobacteria — tiny ocean plants that produce oxygen and make organic carbon using sunlight and CO2 — are primary engines of Earth’s biogeochemical and nutrient cycles. They nourish other organisms through the provision of oxygen and with their own body mass, which forms the base of the ocean food chain. Now postdoc Steven Biller and Professor Sallie (Penny) Chisholm have discovered another dimension of the outsized role played by these tiny cells: The cyanobacteria continually produce and release vesicles, spherical packages containing carbon and other nutrients that can serve as food parcels for marine organisms. The vesicles also contain DNA, and they may even act as decoys to deflect viruses. Read a news story.
January 9, 2014
Professor Pedro Reis describes a new class of materials he developed called “smorphs,” smart morphable surfaces designed to provide complex surface topography on demand. Much as the surface of a golf ball has dimples to enhance the ball’s aerodynamic performance, Reis says that buckling patterns can be induced in smooth shells to improve aerodynamics in a controlled, reversible manner by manipulating internal pressure.
January 7, 2014
Emphasizing the need to think outside disciplinary boundaries, to build, invent, and foster an entrepreneurial spirit, CEE head Professor Markus Buehler outlined his vision for the department in a recent presentation. He said applying tools of nanotechnology, urban physics and environmental microbiology to diverse areas such as materials design, oceans, alternative energy grids and resources, ecosystems and coastal processes allows CEE researchers to see that all things are connected. “This approach forms the fabric of MIT CEE,” Buehler said.
December 20, 2013
Roughly a billion people worldwide live without safe drinking water and each year millions are sickened by waterborne diseases, a condition CEE Senior Lecturer Susan Murcott hopes to improve through dissemination of household drinking water treatment and safe storage systems, a cluster of innovative technologies she has helped invent and promote: one used by about 800,000 people in Guatemala; another that removes pathogens and clarifies turbidity in Ghanaian drinking water used by over 100,000 people; and a third, a filter sold in Nepal to screen out arsenic and bacteria, which has so far reached 350,000 people. All three projects make use of locally available materials and the local workforce to create jobs in manufacturing and sales. Many CEE Masters of Engineering students, School of Engineering, DUSP and Sloan students have worked with Murcott on these projects, which were showcased at the Expo Bid Symposium in October in Dubai and will be honored during the World Expo 2020 in Dubai. Read a related story. Visit Global Water to learn more about Murcott's work.
December 19, 2013
Professor Jesse Kroll of CEE and chemical engineering was awarded the Macelwane Medal by the American Geophysical Union at its annual meeting held Dec. 9-13 in San Francisco. Established in 1961, the Macelwane Medal is awarded annually to young scientists for significant contributions to the geophysical sciences. Kroll’s research focuses on experimental studies of the properties and chemical transformations of organic molecules in Earth’s atmosphere emitted by both anthropogenic activities and biogenic processes. This work is particularly important because atmospheric organic species form a large fraction of the airborne submicron particles responsible for most of the adverse human health effects attributed to poor air quality.
Hidden risk in supply chains: Analytical study finds no link between expenditures and supply-chain risk
December 17, 2013
A new study by CEE Professor David Simchi-Levi helps explain why risk in a complex supply-chain network often remains hidden. There’s no correlation between the total amount a manufacturer spends with a supplier and the profit loss it would incur if that supply were suddenly interrupted. This counterintuitive finding defies a basic business tenet that equates the greatest supply-chain risk with suppliers of highest annual expenditure. When applied to Ford Motor Company’s supply chain, the quantitative analysis shows that the supply firms whose disruption would inflict the greatest blow to Ford’s profits are those that provide the manufacturer with relatively low-cost components. Read a news release.
December 17, 2013
The MIT Concrete Sustainability Hub (CSHub), a research center devoted to concrete and infrastructure science, engineering and economics, has received $10 million in funding from its industry partners to support research by interdisciplinary investigators from several MIT departments. The funding enables the CSHub, which is housed in CEE and overseen by faculty director Professor Franz-Josef Ulm, to continue its work addressing the sustainability and environmental implications of the production and use of concrete. CSHub research aims to fine-tune the composition of concrete, reduce the greenhouse gas emissions of its production, and quantify its environmental impact and cost during the entire lifespan of an infrastructure or building project. Read a news story.
December 12, 2013
Coral reefs, the most biodiverse ecosystems in the world’s oceans, are declining because of bleaching and disease. But little is known about the microscale interactions between the pathogens that cause disease and the weakened coral. Now CEE’s Professor Roman Stocker, postdoc Melissa Garren and grad student Kwangmin Son have identified one mechanism by which pathogenic bacteria identify their prey: The stressed coral produce up to five times more of a sulfurous compound called DMSP. The abundant DMSP appears to serve as a clarion call, inciting the pathogen cells, which sense the amplified chemical and charge in for attack, changing their swimming direction and speed as they home in on the weakened coral. Read a news release.
December 5, 2013
Could the path to a more sustainable future be paved in concrete? Researchers at MIT’s Concrete Sustainability Hub (CSHub) certainly think so. By investigating cement and concrete from the nanoscale up and considering its full life cycle, they are working to reduce the energy footprint of the world’s most common building material. “The per-unit weight impact of concrete on CO2 levels is low; but since each person on the planet consumes 1 cubic yard of concrete each year, the aggregate impact is substantial,” said Franz-Josef Ulm, faculty director of the CSHub and the George Macomber Professor of civil and environmental engineering. Indeed, the production of cement powder, the primary ingredient of concrete, accounts for 5 to 10 percent of global CO2 production annually. Read a story.
December 4, 2013
Motivated by aquatic flowers, Professors Pedro Reis (CEE and MechE) and John Bush (Mathematics) recently designed an upside-down floral pipette whose petals grab liquid as they close. This mechanism was inspired by the behavior of water lilies, which float at the surface of ponds or lakes while anchored to the floor. As water rises, hydrostatic and surface tension forces act to bend and eventually close the lily’s petals, thereby preventing water from flooding in. Reis's upside-down flower pipette does the opposite, grabbing water as it’s pulled up, thereby reversing the role of gravity. (This work was published in Soft Matter online Oct. 14, 2010.) The researchers calculated the optimal petal size for capturing a small sip of liquid and then fabricated synthetic flowers through casting, each of which is about 35 millimeters wide — about the size of a small dandelion. This liquid grabber design is now being used by Spanish José Andrés, one of the world’s leading chefs, as a means of serving a palate-cleansing liquid between courses. View a video of the petal grabber. Read a news story.
December 3, 2013
Professor Andrew Whittle delivered the 21st Buchanan Lecture at Texas A&M University on Nov. 22. Whittle, the Edmund K. Turner Professor in CEE, spoke on "The Importance of Undrained Behavior in the Analysis of Soil-Structure Interactions.” The Buchanan Lecture was established in 1993 to honor Buchanan, who graduated from Texas A&M in 1926, and later founded the Soil Mechanics Division of the Texas A&M Zachry Department of Civil Engineering. The list of previous Buchanan lecturers includes many of the leading figures in geotechnical engineering.
November 26, 2013
The November issue of the On Balance newsletter describes a study led by Professor David Simchi-Levi that provides a new quantitative model for analyzing a corporation’s supply chain risk. Surprisingly, the study shows no correlation between the total amount a manufacturer spends with a supplier and the profit loss it would incur if that supply were suddenly interrupted. This finding goes against traditional business thinking, which equates the greatest supply chain risk with suppliers of highest annual expenditure. When applied to Ford Motor Company’s supply chain, the analysis shows that the supply firms whose disruption would inflict the greatest blow to Ford’s profits are those that provide the manufacturer with relatively low-cost components.
November 21, 2013
Doctoral student Zhandos Orazalin won the Geotechnical Master Thesis Competition sponsored by Plaxis software and presented his work at the European Plaxis Users Meeting in Karlsruhe, Germany earlier this month. Orazalin’s presentation, "3D Finite Element Analysis of the Stata Center Excavation," simulated ground deformations, pore pressures and diaphragm wall deflections of the building site of MIT’s Stata Center. The presentation is based on his master’s thesis and research, done with Professor Andrew Whittle.
November 19, 2013
“The Wonders of Thin Structures From Failure to Functionality” — In this short video, Assistant Professor Pedro Reis of CEE and mechanical engineering discusses his research on the mechanics of thin structures, work that lies at the crossroads of science and engineering.
November 15, 2013
A Bloomberg News piece published in Automotive News Nov. 12 describes problems with the North American auto industry’s supply chain, saying companies are facing an “almost 40 percent bottleneck in the ability to make vehicles.” Professor David Simchi-Levi, who was interviewed for the story, says that even CEOs and corporate boards should be concerned with planning ahead to prevent supply chain crises. Read the story.
November 12, 2013
The MIT chapter of Chi Epsilon, the honor society for CEE, is holding a Civil and Environmental Engineering Industry Panel Wednesday, Nov. 13 at 7 p.m. in Room 1-131. Speakers will talk about their work, followed by a Q-and-A to give interested freshmen, CEE graduate and undergraduate students a chance to learn about career opportunities in civil and environmental engineering. The event includes dinner.
November 8, 2013
Emphasizing the need to think outside disciplinary boundaries in research and education, to build and invent, and to foster an entrepreneurial spirit among students and faculty, CEE head Professor Markus Buehler laid out his vision for the department in a presentation to alumni at the first CEE New Research Breakfast held Oct. 17 in the Bush Room. Colette Heald spoke on “How Air Pollution and Climate Impact Global Food Security”; Pedro Reis on “Smorphs: Turn Mechanical Failure into Functionality”; Marta González on “Mining Cellphone Data to Improve Urban Livability”; and Philip Gschwend on “Benign Design of Materials Now Can Avoid Problems in the Future.” See the video and story.
Transportation students Krishna Kumar Selvam and Setareh Borjian awarded 2nd place in INFORMS Railway Applications competition
November 1, 2013
Master of Transportation students Krishna Kumar Selvam (who works with Professor Carolina Osorio) and Setareh Borjian (who works with Associate Dean Cynthia Barnhart and Professor Patrick Jaillet) were jointly awarded the second-place prize in the recent INFORMS Railway Applications Section Competition. Their proposal for optimizing the operations of a railroad yard was selected from 42 submissions in the annual competition held during the INFORMS conference. "We built a rule-based discrete time simulator to model the operations of the classification yard, and applied simulation-based optimization techniques to optimize the rules on which the yard operated," said Selvam. INFORMS, the largest worldwide society for professionals in operations research, management science and analytics, held its 2013 meeting Oct. 6 in Minneapolis.
October 31, 2013
Once again, the annual Parsons Lab Halloween party and pumpkin carving contest was a shrieking success, attended by 125 CEE students, staff, faculty, friends and families, who used knives and other sharp instruments to stab, carve and otherwise mutilate about 65 pumpkins — some of which emerged as works of art. The jack-o-lanterns were judged by graduate students Fatima Hussain and Kyle Peet, and technical assistant Becky Schilling. Graduate student Jennifer Wehof won first prize for her carving of a scary tree; second prize went to graduate student Mason Stahl for a hot air balloon. Five pumpkins with faces inspired by Pablo Picasso’s cubist work tied for third place, the creations of postdoctoral associate Gabriel Juarez and graduate students Jane Chui, Alison Hoyt, Thomas Petersen and David Whittleston. CEE gives a special thanks to Sheila Frankel, associate director of Parsons Lab, and James Long, administrative assistant, who planned and organized the Oct. 25 party, and to graduate student Ruby Fu for photographing the event. Photos are posted on Facebook.
October 29, 2013
Doctoral student Anna Tarakanova, who works in Professor Markus Buehler's Laboratory for Atomistic and Molecular Mechanics, received a poster award at the Gordon Research Conference on Elastin and Elastic Fibers held at the University of New England in Biddeford, Maine, in August. The paper and poster were titled "Elastic Network Model of Tropoelastin Implicates Bridge Region in Assembly and Cell-Binding."
October 24, 2013
The October issue of the On Balance Newsletter describes a study led by Professor Elfatih Eltahir that combines his epidemiological and hydrological model of malaria transmission with global forecasts for temperature and rainfall in sub-Saharan Africa to predict malaria incidence with climate change. It is the first model to incorporate local-scale rainfall events and breeding pool formation with climate change predictions at the regional scale. Use of this methodology could make projections of future malaria incidence far more accurate, which would help public-health officials with long-term planning.
October 22, 2013
John Germaine, senior lecturer and senior research associate, has been elected the next chairman of ASTM International’s Committee D18 on Soil and Rock, beginning Jan. 1. ASTM International develops voluntary technical consensus standards for many materials, products, systems and services used in industry. The Committee on Soil and Rock is concerned with standards associated with the geotechnical and geoenvironmental industry. This includes test methods, practices and guides that are used routinely by the profession to provide uniformity in methodology and quality control in data collection. D18 was formed in 1937, has about 1,200 members and meets twice annually, in January and June, for four days of technical meetings followed by a symposium. The committee has jurisdiction over more than 380 standards and has 21 technical subcommittees. For the past year, Germaine was head of D18’s Subcommittee D18.26 on Hydraulic Fracturing.
October 18, 2013
Professor Pedro Reis's recent blog post on iMechanica describes how “the intrinsic natural curvature of elastic filaments … can dramatically, quantitatively and qualitatively change the behavior of the system." Reis, the Esther and Harold E. Edgerton Assistant Professor of Civil and Environmental Engineering and Mechanical Engineering, studies the mechanics of slender structures, with a particular focus on devising new ways of turning mechanical failure into functionality. His research group, the Elastic, Geometry & Statistics Laboratory (EGS.Lab), uses experimental, numerical and theoretical methods. Read the blog and join the discussion.
October 17, 2013
A recent story in New Scientist featured an interview with Professor Markus Buehler about his research using 3-D printing to recreate the properties of bone with polymers. "3-D printing allows us to control the structure on the scale of micrometers," says Buehler. "It's a very different technique to that used in nature, but it essentially captures the features of bone." Read the article.
October 10, 2013
On Oct. 8 Professor Marta González's HumNet research group and CEE's Materials, Infrastructure and Systems Group hosted Yu Zheng, lead researcher for Microsoft Research Asia and professor at Shanghai Jiaotong University, who was in town to receive the 2013 Top Innovators Under 35 award (TR35) from Technology Review. In his CEE talk on “Urban Computing: Using Big Data to Solve Urban Challenges,” Zheng presented his recent work in urban computing, which consists of acquiring, integrating and analyzing big data generated by sources like sensors, devices, vehicles, buildings and humans to tackle the major issues that cities face, such as air pollution and traffic congestion. Read the MIT Technology Review article.
October 3, 2013
Professor Markus Buehler, head of CEE, recently announced three leadership appointments in the department. Effective Sept. 1, Professor Elfatih Eltahir is associate department head; Philip Gschwend, the Ford Professor of Civil and Environmental Engineering, is director of the Parsons Laboratory for Environmental Science and Engineering; and Professor Daniele Veneziano heads CEE’s Materials, Infrastructure and Systems Group, also known as Pierce Laboratory. “I am grateful for the leadership of Professors Eltahir, Gschwend and Veneziano to build an environment of excellence that offers superb opportunities for our students, and one that is well connected across MIT,” said Buehler. Read a news story.
September 25, 2013
Graduate student Yingxiang Yang, a member of Professor Marta González's research group, shared the best paper award with graduate students Gaston Fiore of aeronautics and astronautics and Shan Jiang of urban studies and planning at the International Workshop on Urban Computing (UrbComp 2013). The paper, “A Review of Urban Computing for Mobile Phone Traces: Current Methods, Challenges and Opportunities,” is based on a collaborative project of González, Professor Joseph Ferreira of urban studies and Professor Emilio Frazzoli of aeronautics and astronautics. The workshop was held in Chicago on Aug. 11.
September 24, 2013
The Concrete Sustainability Hub will hold its annual showcase Sept. 26 at the MIT Media Lab. “Building for Life: MIT CSHub Showcase 2013” begins at 9 a.m. with keynote speaker Ray LaHood, former U.S. Secretary of Transportation, and runs until 3 p.m. Talks will focus on the latest developments in concrete science, and life-cycle cost and environmental research, with afternoon workshops on pavements, buildings and concrete science. Registration is required.
September 19, 2013
Transportation graduate students Linsen Chong and Franco Chingcuanco of Professor Carolina Osorio's research group have been awarded 2013 Dwight David Eisenhower Graduate Fellowships. The Eisenhower Fellowship is a competitive fellowship administered by the Federal Highway Administration for the U.S. Department of Transportation. Chong will continue his doctoral research work on dynamic simulation-based optimization algorithms for urban traffic control problems, and M.S.T. student Chingcuanco will contiue with his research on real-time simulation-based optimization.
September 18, 2013
With the help of postdocs and senior grad students, the CEE faculty team (actually faculty/postdocs/senior grad student team) was victorious, beating the junior grad student team 14 to 10 in the annual CEE registration day softball game, held Sept. 3 at Briggs Field. Organized by the student CEE Graduate Student Committee with the help of academic programs administrator Kris Kipp, the softball game had traditional baseball park fare — namely hot dogs — and cheering spectators. The afternoon game was preceded by a short practice and instruction period for members of the teams who were new to the game. Photos (for those who dare to look) have been posted on Facebook.
September 16, 2013
As public-health officials continue to fight malaria in sub-Saharan Africa, researchers are trying to predict how climate change will impact the disease, which infected an estimated 219 million people in 2010. But projections have been hampered by wide variation in rainfall predictions for the region and lack of a malaria-transmission model that adequately describes the effects of local rainfall on mosquitos. A new study by Professor Elfatih Eltahir and graduate student Teresa Yamana solves this problem by combining a model of malaria transmission with global forecasts for temperature and rainfall. They found that although the capacity for malaria transmission will change in some areas of West Africa, overall infection rates are not likely to increase. Climate change by itself is not likely to make the situation worse. Read a news release.
September 16, 2013
Popular Science magazine has named Pedro Reis to its 2013 Brilliant 10 list of young stars in science and technology. The list will appear in the magazine’s October issue. Reis, the Esther and Harold E. Edgerton Assistant Professor of Civil and Environmental Engineering and Mechanical Engineering, studies the mechanics of slender structures, with a particular focus on devising new ways of turning mechanical failure into functionality. Over the past few years, he has published a number of eclectic and impactful papers in prominent journals. Feng Zhang of the MIT Department of Brain and Cognitive Sciences is also on the list. Read a news story.
September 16, 2013
Professor Ruben Juanes, the ARCO Associate Professor of Energy Studies in CEE, studies the flow of underground fluids, especially combinations of fluids like oil, water and natural gas through porous rock. After starting out with mathematical simulations of these multiphase flows, his work now also incorporates laboratory experiments replicating the complex dynamics of such flows. A feature story on MIT News describes Juanes' work and the motivation behind his research. Read the story on MIT News.
Public discussion and private sector involvement on Hyperloop could speed up the usual design process, writes Saurabh Amin
August 14, 2013
In an opinion piece for CNN, Professor Saurabh Amin likens Elon Musk's request for public comment on the design of the Hyperloop — an ambitious high-speed transportation system — to open source web programming, saying that collective design could speed up the process. "But just as today's open source product designs on the web have benefited and improved from the collective effort of programmers, so has Musk decided to confront the design bottleneck by opening up the design process to the general public — anyone and everyone who cares." Read the Op-Ed.
July 31, 2013
In an epidemic or a bioterrorist attack, the response of government officials could range from a drastic restriction of mobility to simple suggestions that people remain at home. Deciding to institute any measure would require officials to weigh the costs and benefits of action, but at present there’s little data to guide them. However, a new study by Professor Ruben Juanes, graduate student Christos Nicolaides and research associate Luis Cueto-Felgueroso shows that even moderate measures of mobility restriction would be effective in controlling contagion in densely populated areas with highly interconnected road and transit networks. The researchers called the difference between infection rates in the two scenarios the “price of anarchy,” a concept from game theory that’s frequently used as a metric in studies of transportation networks. Read a news story.
July 30, 2013
The government of Catalonia, an autonomous community in Spain, announced last week that Sallie (Penny) Chisholm has been selected to receive this year’s Ramon Margalef Prize in Ecology. The prize, named for a distinguished Catalonian scientist and founding father of modern ecology, is one of the most prestigious scientific awards dedicated exclusively to ecological and environmental sciences. Chisholm, the Lee and Geraldine Martin Professor of Environmental Studies in the Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering and the Department of Biology, will receive the $100,000 prize from Artur Mas, president of Catalonia, at a ceremony in Barcelona in October. Read a news release.
Understanding the strength of a mussel’s underwater attachments could enable better glues and biomedical interfaces
July 29, 2013
Unlike barnacles, which cement themselves tightly to surfaces, the bivalves called mussels dangle more loosely, attached by a collection of fine filaments known as byssus threads. This approach lets the creatures drift further out into the water, where they can absorb nutrients. Despite the outwardly thin and fragile appearance of these threads, it turns out that in the dynamic, sloshing environment of waves and currents they can withstand impact forces that are nine times greater than the forces exerted by stretching in only one direction. The secret to these tiny natural bungee cords has now been unraveled by research scientist Zhao Qin and professor of civil and environmental engineering Markus Buehler. Their findings appeared last week in the journal Nature Communications. Read a news story.
July 19, 2013
After the 9/11 attack in New York City, structural engineer and architect Guy Nordenson ’77 helped determine the structural integrity of more than 400 city buildings. For several years he has also advocated preparing the area for future natural disasters such as storm surges. Now he’s a co-author of a new study, “A Stronger, More Resilient New York,” commissioned by New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg in the wake of Hurricane Sandy. The document’s recommendations for more than $20 billion in improvements include constructed barriers such as floodwalls and levees, plus natural measures such as restoring beaches and marshes. The Alumni Association’s Slice of MIT blog recently posted about Nordenson, who is a professor of architecture at Princeton University.
July 17, 2013
Graduate students from the MIT Transit Lab spent June 22 really getting to know the Massachusetts Bay Transportation Authority’s subway system, commonly known as “The T.” M.S.T. students William Chow, Raphael Dumas, Michael Gordon (incoming) and Katie Pincus traveled on each of the four subway lines — red, blue, green and orange — and a few buses during their 12-hour tour, which also included some sightseeing. Dumas said the students rode through 119 stations and green line stops, clocking 109 miles according to Chow's GPS. Dumas tweeted as they rode, catching the attention of a Boston Magazine blogger who picked up the story. The MIT Alumni Association followed suit, posting its own entry on the Slice of MIT blog. The Transit Lab’s research focuses on transit policy, service and operations planning and management, and transportation modeling. Read the Boston Magazine Blog.
July 15, 2013
Tiny ocean plants, or phytoplankton, were long thought to be passive drifters in the sea — unable to defy even the weakest currents, or travel by their own volition. In recent decades, research has shown that many species of these unicellular microorganisms can swim, and do so to optimize light exposure, avoid predators or move closer to others of their kind. Now Professor Roman Stocker, William Durham Ph.D. ’12 and grad student Michael Barry have shown that the motility of phytoplankton also helps them determine their fate in ocean turbulence. Rather than acting to distribute them evenly — as physics would demand of small particles mixed into a fluid — the individual vortices that make up ocean turbulence are like social mixers for phytoplankton, bringing similar cells into close proximity, potentially enhancing sexual reproduction and other ecologically desirable activities. Read a news release.
July 10, 2013
Professor Jesse Kroll, postdoctoral associate Eben Cross and graduate student Jon Franklin are doing fieldwork this summer at a site in the Talladega National Forest in Alabama as part of the National Science Foundation’s Southeast Atmosphere Study (SAS), an umbrella study comprising five projects undertaken by scientists from 30 research institutions. The goal of the SAS is to learn more about the processes that control biosphere-atmosphere interactions affecting regional climate and air quality in the southeastern United States, one of the few places in the world that has cooled during the last century. At the field site Kroll’s team is looking at the chemical reactions between anthropogenic air pollution and the organic compounds emitted by trees. Read a news release.
July 9, 2013
Bacteria swim by rotating the helical, hairlike flagella that extend from their unicellular bodies. Some bacteria have multiple flagella that rotate as a bundle to move the cell forward. These cells turn somewhat acrobatically by unbundling their flagella, causing the cell to tumble, reorient and strike out in another direction. But 90 percent of motile marine bacteria have only a single rigid flagellum. These microbes change direction with a sideways “flick” of their flagellum — a unique swimming stroke first documented in 2011 whose mechanism has been a mystery. Now, using high-speed video to record individual swimming bacteria at up to 1,000 frames per second, Professor Roman Stocker, Kwangmin Son and Jeffrey Guasto show that the flick occurs when the so-called “hook,” a flexible rod connecting the flagellum to the cell’s internal motor, buckles during forward swims. The drag on the cell head caused by the water’s resistance combines with the opposing thrust force from the rotating flagellum to compress the hook, causing it to buckle and flick the cell into a 90-degree reorientation. Read a news release.
July 2, 2013
Jeremy Gregory, an engineer who studies the economic and environmental implications of materials, their recycling and end-of-life recovery, has been named executive director of the MIT Concrete Sustainability Hub, effective July 1. Gregory replaces Professor Hamlin Jennings, who is widely known for developing the first fully quantitative model of the nanostructure of the major component of hydrated cement. Concrete is the most widely used building material on Earth. The production of cement — its basic building block at the nanoscale — accounts for about 5 percent of the world’s total carbon dioxide emissions. The Concrete Sustainability Hub was established in 2009 with the goal of accelerating emerging breakthroughs in concrete science and swiftly transferring those research advances into industry. Read a news release.
July 1, 2013
June 27, 2013
Professors Richard de Neufville and Amedeo Odoni and research scientists Peter Belobaba of the Department of Aeronautics and Astronautics and Tom Reynolds of Lincoln Lab wrote a revised second edition of the textbook, Airport Systems Planning, Design and Management published in April by McGraw Hill Educational. The first edition, written by de Neufville and Odoni, was published in 2003.
June 26, 2013
A poster by Gabriel Juarez, postdoctoral associate in Professor Roman Stocker's Environmental Microfluidics Group, won first prize in the MIT “Postdocs Share Their Science” event held June 18 in Morss Hall. Juarez’s poster, “Biophysics of Microbial Oil Degradation,” which Stocker describes as "elegant and insightful" was selected from 44 entries, netting Juarez a new iPad. The abstract said: “Many species of oil-degrading bacteria are equipped with flagella that enable the cells to swim and actively pursue nutrient gradients in their local surroundings. We are interested in understanding the role of motility on the encounter rate and attachment dynamics of microbes with oil droplets. We are investigating the swimming behavior and attachment dynamics at the microbe level using dedicated microfluidic devices and observing with phase contrast and epifluorescent microscopy.”
June 25, 2013
We have uploaded photo albums from the CEE 2013 Hooding Luncheon and the 2013 Commencement Party to the department's Facebook page. Congratulations to all CEE 2013 graduates!
June 21, 2013
At the June 6 doctoral Hooding celebration, Professor Herbert Einstein received the School of Engineering's 2013 Samuel M. Seegal Prize in recognition of his exceptional teaching, mentoring and advising. Einstein was lead teacher of the senior capstone subject, 1.013 Civil and Environmental Engineering Design, from 2000 to 2013, and taught Introductory Design for sophomores from 1998 to 2005 and 2007 to 2012. He also teaches graduate subjects Engineering Geology, Rock Mechanics, and Underground Construction, in addition to his thesis supervision and student advising.
June 17, 2013
Researchers working to design new materials that are durable, lightweight and environmentally sustainable are increasingly looking to natural composites, like bone, for inspiration. Bone is strong and tough because its two constituent materials, soft collagen protein and stiff hydroxyapatite mineral, are arranged in complex hierarchical patterns that change at every scale of the composite, from the micro up to the macro. While researchers have come up with hierarchical structures in the design of new materials, going from a computer model to the production of physical artifacts has been a persistent challenge. Now Markus Buehler and team have developed an approach that allows them to turn their designs into reality. In just a few hours, they can move directly from a multiscale computer model of a synthetic material to the creation of physical samples. Read a news story.
June 13, 2013
Professor Moshe Ben-Akiva is co-editor of a new book with Hilde Meersman and Eddy van de Voorde of the University of Antwerp, Belgium. "Freight Transport Modeling" (Emerald Books, May 2013) is a reference book for experienced researchers and doctoral students that looks at transportation modeling at the local, regional and global scales. The book also includes discussion of transport policy for transportation decision-makers in government and industry. Ben-Akiva is also a contributor to the book.
June 12, 2013
Professor Markus Buehler, novelist Barbara Kingsolver and ecologist David Goulson were guests on a recent episode of The Forum, a BBC radio program that features ideas and discussion with some of the worlds "most eminent minds." "Fragility: What is it That Makes Materials and Ecosystems Prone to Fracture?" aired June 9. Buehler studies the fracture behavior of natural materials like bone and spider silk. Kingsolver's latest novel, "Flight Behavior," explores climate change and the life cycle of the monarch butterfly. Goulson studies the ecology, behavior and conservation of wild and commercially bred bumblebees. Listen to the podcast (available through the first week of July).
June 11, 2013
As part of the "broader impacts" component of a National Science Foundation (NSF) research grant, two 1C undergrads and an alumna — junior Linda Seymour, sophomore Shante Stowell and Elise Hens '12 — are working with CEE lecturer Ari Epstein to make a series of three podcasts about the research of Professors Martin Polz and Scott Manalis (biological engineering) covered by the grant. Episode 1: World’s Tiniest Diving Board (8.5 minutes) tells how the researchers are using microfluidics technology and a miniature diving board to measure the mass of microbes to learn how much a microbe grows before it splits apart to replicate. Episode 2 will focus on the recent findings that microbes exhibit social cooperation, episode 3 on the ways scientists communicate their research findings — formally and informally — within the scientific community and to the public, and the final episode will summarize the research supported by the grant. Epstein said he hopes that other CEE principal investigators will want to incorporate similar projects in their NSF proposals. "It's a relatively low-cost and interesting opportunity for outreach that provides a nice educational experience for the undergraduates," said Epstein. The podcast series, “Measuring Marine Microbes,” is available on Soundcloud.
June 11, 2013
First-year Master of Science in Transportation student Krishna Kumar Selvam has been awarded a 2013 Dwight David Eisenhower Graduate Fellowship, a competitive fellowship for transportation-related studies administered by the Federal Highway Administration for the U.S. Department of Transportation. With the fellowship, Selvam will continue his work on multi-model simulation-based optimization algorithms to solve traffic control problems, as a member of Professor Carolina Osorio's research group.
June 10, 2013
Carolyn Jundzilo-Comer, an administrative assistant who has worked in CEE since 1977, is winner of a School of Engineering Infinite Mile Award for Excellence. When presenting the award at the ceremony May 22, Donna Savicki, assistant dean for administration, said that Jundzilo-Comer "over the years has shown exemplary commitment along with consistently superior work performance. Carolyn, a talented and successful painter is also described as a bright, gifted and delightful woman." One nominator of Jundzilo-Comer wrote, “Carolyn is not only a tireless and hard-working assistant, she is also a friend who cares about everyone in the CEE department, especially the students. She is always available when (we) need some material to finish a presentation or prepare a report, even if it means staying until later in her office. Above all, she is a wonderful human being with a sweet and warm heart!” Jundzilo-Comer works with Professor Herbert Einstein and his research group.
June 6, 2013
On Friday, June 7 CEE graduates will gather with families, friends and faculty, staff and alumni for an afternoon party following MIT¹s 147th Commencement exercises. During the 2012-13 academic year, the department awarded 145 degrees: 13 doctorates; 34 Master of Science in Transportation degrees; 24 Master of Science degrees; 47 Master of Engineering degrees; and 27 Bachelor of Science degrees (14 in civil engineering, 10 in environmental engineering science, and three undesignated). This year's Commencement speaker is Drew Houston '05, co-founder and CEO of Dropbox. More information about Commencement.
June 5, 2013
Whether they’re headed to graduate school or taking jobs in industry, government agencies or nonprofit organizations, the members of Course 1 Class of 2013 leave MIT this week well prepared to meet the challenges of the field — thanks in part to their impressive work in 1.013 Senior Civil and Environmental Engineering Design. A required subject in CEE, this class gives students a chance to integrate all they’ve learned through their years in CEE to address practical, real-world challenges — ranging from soil contamination and natural disasters to sustainable building design. Read a news release.
Roman Stocker gets grant in first cycle of DOE Joint Genome Institute’s Emerging Technologies Opportunity Program
June 4, 2013
CEE Professor Roman Stocker and Michael Wagner of the University of Vienna will receive one of six grants in the inaugural cycle of the U.S. Department of Energy Joint Genome Institute’s new Emerging Technologies Opportunity Program. Stocker and Wagner will develop a method for the high-throughput sorting of microbial cells with specific functional traits using microspectroscopy, microfluidics and flow cytometry. This technology could accelerate the functional characterization of genes from metagenomic sequencing experiments, one of the Joint Genome Institute’s (JGI) highest priorities. Through the Emerging Technologies Opportunity Program, the DOE JGI hopes to make the most current technology and expertise available to users of its genomics facility to help address pressing energy and environmental scientific challenges. Read a news release.
June 4, 2013
The MIT Steel Bridge team won first place in economy and second place overall at the national competition held May 31-June 1 at the University of Washington in Seattle. Each team was required to develop an original design for an approximately 20-foot bridge created for a hypothetical site. Teams are judged on a combination of elements, including bridge design and weight, its ability to withstand a 2,500-pound load without sagging, number of builders and team construction speed. MIT's build time was 5:32 minutes. This is the second year the MIT team has placed second. The University of California at Berkeley won first place this year and last.
June 3, 2013
Professor Nigel Wilson gave a talk on “Improving Transit Performance with Automated Data Collection Systems” at the Volpe National Transportation Systems Center March 6, as part of Volpe’s Straight From the Source speaker series. Wilson uses data from transit fare cards to research and improve transit services in London, Boston and Hong Kong, among other cities. Professor Joseph Sussman was speaker at the April 17 event, talking about his ideas for “Considering Transportation as a Complex Sociotechnical System.” Read a news story about and watch a video on Nigel Wilson's talk.
May 30, 2013
Professor Markus Buehler has been named head of the Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering, effective July 1, 2013. The announcement was made in a May 30 email from Ian Waitz, dean of the School of Engineering. “The department is at an important juncture with exciting new directions to pursue,” Waitz wrote. “I welcome the energy and ideas that Markus will bring to leading CEE. … He will be an excellent leader for CEE and I very much look forward to working with him.” A member of the MIT faculty since 2006, Buehler succeeds Andrew Whittle, the Edmund K. Turner Professor of Civil and Environmental Engineering, who has served as department head since 2009. Read a news story.
May 23, 2013
The 2013 Terrascope radio story, “Digging Deeper: Miner Details of a Major Industry,” explores the mining industry in Nevada and southern California. The 20-minute radio story provides a “look into the lesser-known people and processes that make up the heart of the operation,” say the freshman who made the radiocast, which can be heard online. Terrascope is a freshmen-year program with a spring subject (1.016 Communicating Complex Environmental Issues: Building Solutions and Communicating Ideas) co-directed by CEE and the Department of Earth, Atmospheric and Planetary Sciences, and a radio subject (SP.360 Terrascope Radio) taught by CEE lecturer Ari Epstein.
May 22, 2013
Senior Tara Soni received the Paul L. Busch (1958) Prize, which is presented to an undergraduate student in environmental engineering science for academic achievement and contributions to the CEE community. Soni led a number of initiatives as president of the MIT student chapter of the American Society of Civil Engineers including the newly formatted open house. Department head Professor Andrew Whittle said, “She involved her peers, energizing them and crafting a creative and well-designed program. She's a true team player, excellent academically, and brings passion, drive and momentum to CEE.”
May 22, 2013
Linda Seymour, a civil engineering junior, received the Leo (Class of 1924) and Mary Grossman Award for her excellent academic record and strong interest in transportation. Seymour had a choice of summer internships, including one with the Maryland Department of Transportation, but selected an opportunity with the Smithsonian Institution.
May 22, 2013
M.Eng. student Zahraa Nasim Saiyed receives Tucker-Voss Award, established in memory of Professor Ross F. Tucker and Professor Walter C. Voss, the first two heads of the Department of Building Construction (Course 17), which merged with the Department of Civil Engineering in the 1950s. The award is given to a student who shows particular promise in the field of building construction. The title of Saiyed’s thesis is “Performance Based Structural Design Optimization for Residential Housing in San Francisco, Calif.”
May 22, 2013
The Trond Kaalstad (Class of 1957) Fellowship was awarded to M.Eng. students Leonidia Garbis and Matthew Pires. The award is named for a long-time administrative officer of CEE and recognizes graduate students who display leadership and/or contribute significantly to the well being of the CEE community. Garbis and Pires organized the regional steel bridge competition, which was held at MIT April 20, the day following the Boston-area lockdown. CEE department head Professor Andrew Whittle said, “They refused to give up on the competition. Coordination was key, and they did a brilliant job of pulling the whole event together under extraordinary circumstances. Their work … shows the outstanding dedication our students bring to each and every challenge.”
May 22, 2013
The Maseeh Award for Excellence as a Teaching Assistant went to graduate student Pierre Ghisbain. Over the years, Ghisbain has been teaching assistant for graduate subjects 1.571 Structural Analysis and Control and 1.561 Motion Based-Design, and for 1.562 High-Performance Structures Master of Engineering Project. He also was teaching assistant for 1.00 Introduction to Computers and Engineering Problem Solving for four semesters, and served as the head TA for three of them. Nominators said of Ghisbain, “Fantastic TA. Was available every day of the week if needed. Always went out of his/her way to help you.” “Thanks for everything: your availability, your answers to our questions, and for correcting our homework on time! … You have an excellent way of presenting things.” Ghisbain will receive his doctoral degree in June.
May 22, 2013
Ruben Juanes, the ARCO Associate Professor in Energy Studies, and John Germaine, senior lecturer and senior research associate (known as Dr. G. to his students), were recognized with the Maseeh Award for Excellence in Teaching. In nominating Germaine one student said, “He was extremely helpful in terms of making sure we understood the material — especially taking note of when we were entering into more complex subjects that he knew we'd need more help with. He was also very aware of the workload and worked with us to make sure that we weren't too overburdened at any given time. This was particularly helpful after the hurricane … Overall, an amazing explainer.” Nominators said of Juanes, “Professor Juanes truly embodies the finest combination of qualities: he is a remarkable mentor, an inspiring professor and an innovative scientist.” “Professor Juanes was an amazing teacher. His lectures were extremely organized and clear. His ability to effectively communicate key topics contributed to my increased interest in the subject material. I thoroughly enjoyed being a part of his class.”
May 21, 2013
CEE graduate student Leon Dimas helped organize Math Day Treasure Hunt, an event for elementary school children presented by MITxplore, an outreach program co-founded by Dimas and graduate students Narges Kaynia and Debbie Nguyen of mechanical engineering. On Sunday, May 12, about 90 fourth, fifth and sixth graders and their parents from Massachusetts, New Hampshire, New York and Rhode Island participated in the Math Day Treasure Hunt in the Media Lab Complex. The MIT student organizers divided the sixth floor of the building into three mathematical islands where ‘xplorers, as the participants were called, engaged in activities in three categories: probability; geometry and topology; and numbers and limits. Participants gathered coins in reward for creative thinking and logical reasoning and, at the end of the day, received MITxplore t-shirts. MIT Professors Rodolfo Rosales and Lawrence Guth of mathematics also gave presentations. Visit the MITxplore facebook page.
David Simchi-Levi named Distinguished Fellow of the Manufacturing and Service Operations Management Society
May 17, 2013
Professor David Simchi-Levi has been elected a 2013 Fellow of the Manufacturing and Service Operations Management (MSOM) Society of the Institute for Operations Research and the Management Sciences. The MSOM Distinguished Fellow Award recognizes outstanding research and scholarship in operations management.
May 16, 2013
Professor Oral Buyukozturk of CEE and Professor William Freeman of electrical engineering and computer science (EECS) and the Computer Science and Artificial Intelligence Laboratory (CSAIL) are principal investigators (PIs) on an $8 million, five-year collaborative research project funded by Shell. The project builds on the concept of previous research on MIT’s Green Building, which has been instrumented with a sensor network that monitors the building’s response to disturbances and allowed researchers to determine its fundamental frequencies and ambient vibrations. With the new grant, through representative laboratory models and implementation studies on the real structure, the PIs will create a wireless version of the monitoring system, develop pattern recognition/motion magnification algorithms and build 3-D computational models that can predict a building’s response to disturbances and detect anomalies and damage. Co-PIs on the project are Professor Eduardo Kausel of CEE, Professor Edward Adelson and senior research scientist John Fisher of CSAIL, and Professor Fredo Durand of EECS and CSAIL. Draper Laboratory participates as a subcontractor. Read more about Green Building monitoring.
May 15, 2013
Using innovative design and materials that don't require a lot of energy to produce and ship, Professor John Ochsendorf of CEE and architecture hopes to change the way buildings are made. The National Science Foundation recently made a four-minute video, "Our Built Environment: It Takes Energy," describing some of Ochsendorf's ideas and showing a few of the buildings he's designed.
May 14, 2013
A study by first-year M.S.T. student Mike Wittman and aeronautics/astronatics researcher Bill Swelbar was cited in a Wall Street Journal article and on National Public Radio May 8. The study shows that the health of the airline industry has improved since 2007 in part because large airlines are consolidating flights to larger airports and eliminating flights to midsize and small airports. The overall effect has been to help the industry, but decrease options and increase fares somewhat for air passengers flying to or from smaller airports. Read more about Wittman's research. Read the NPR blog.
May 13, 2013
Juhee Bae, a junior with a double major in civil engineering and city planning, won an Alva Emerging Fellowship, which includes a $13,500 seed grant for OpenIR (Open Infrared). OpenIR is Bae’s project to democratize infrared satellite data, and by doing so, increase awareness of environmental risks from flooding, volcanic activity and other such events. OpenIR does this by making infrared satellite data available in an easy-to-use, web-based map format. “Currently, there is no system that easily allows us to examine these linkages through different kinds of spectral satellite image analysis,” Bae said. Graduate students Arlene Ducao of the MIT Media Lab and Barry Beagen of architecture, Course 6 undergraduate Wendy Cheang and Ilias Koen are working with Bae on OpenIR.
May 8, 2013
CEE seniors will test the bridges they designed and built in 1.013 Senior Civil and Environmental Engineering Design today, May 8, on the Student Center steps (or Lobby 7 if it rains) from about 1-3 p.m. Please stop by to watch! And they'll present their major projects next Wednesday, May 15 at 2:30 p.m. in Room 3-270.
May 8, 2013
Studies of human mobility usually focus on either the small scale — individuals’ daily commutes — or the very large scale, such as using air-travel patterns to track the spread of epidemics over time. The large-scale studies, now made possible by vast data generated and collected by technologies like sensors and cellphones, are very good at describing the big picture, but don’t provide detail at the individual level. Smaller-scale studies have the opposite characteristic: their findings generally can’t be scaled up from the individual to populations. But a new study by CEE Professor Marta González and postdoctoral associate Christian Schneider bridges that gap. It uses big data and the methodologies of statistical physics and network theory to describe the daily travel behavior of individuals, behavior that holds true at the larger scale of the entire population of two cities on different continents. Read a news story.
May 7, 2013
The MIT chapter of Chi Epsilon, the national civil engineering honor society, welcomed seven new members during its annual initiation banquet held April 25 at the MIT Faculty Club. The initiates are seniors Zara L’Heureux, Andrew Sang, Marisa Simmons, Nicole Wang and Jaclyn Wilson; and juniors Catherine Cheng, Linda Seymour and Sharone Small. Chi Epsilon membership recognizes scholarship, character, practicality and sociability, which Chi Epsilon calls the "four primary traits of a successful engineer." Student members are in the top third of their junior or senior class.
May 6, 2013
Eric Adams, senior lecturer, senior research engineer and director of the CEE M.Eng.program, is the subject of a news story on the MIT Industrial Liaison Program (ILP) website. The article describes how Adams’ research in environmental fluid mechanics has helped engineers better understand oil spills. Specifically, his studies of multi-phase pollutants — fluid set in motion by the buoyancy of bubbles, droplets and particles — have provided important insights into what happens during a deep ocean oil spill. He has shown that most oil from an oil spill will mix with water instead of rising directly to the surface, disproving the adage that oil and water don’t mix. Adams is also working on ways to reduce the amount of atmospheric carbon dioxide by releasing carbon dioxide hydrates directly into the ocean. Read the news story and watch a video on the ILP website.
May 6, 2013
Professor Saurabh Amin of CEE is the chief scientist and lead MIT principal investigator on a multi-institutional grant announced last week by the National Science Foundation. The goal of the project is to improve the operational resilience of civil and environmental structures and systems that have electronic networking components. Amin, Professor Hamsa Balakrishnan of aeronautics and astronautics and Professor Asuman Ozdaglar of electrical engineering and computer science will work to make infrastructure systems more resistant to failure. Their specific focus is to develop methods for coupling technologies for monitoring and controlling networked systems with economic incentives that will persuade operators to invest in these improvements. Read a news release.
May 2, 2013
CEE seniors Di Jin, Andrew Sang and Jibo Wen are among 85 MIT students invited to join the MIT chapter (Xi Chapter) of Phi Beta Kappa. Membership in the society recognizes excellent academic work and commitment to the objectives of a liberal education. Only about 10 percent of colleges have Phi Beta Kappa chapters, and only about 10 percent of students at those colleges are elected to the society. The Phi Beta Kappa lecture and initiation ceremony will be held Thursday, June 6, at 3 p.m. in Room 32-123. The lecturer is Professor David Kaiser, the Germeshausen Professor of the History of Science.
May 1, 2013
At the MIT Awards Convocation held Thursday, April 25 in Room 10-250, CEE Professor Heidi Nepf received the Earll M. Murman Award for Excellence in Undergraduate Advising. The Murman Award honors a faculty member who has had significant impact on the personal life and academic success of her undergraduate advisees. Professor Martin Polz was awarded the Frank E. Perkins Award, honoring his excellence in advising and mentoring graduate students.
April 30, 2013
The Oceans at MIT website has a new feature story on Professor Sallie (Penny) Chisholm’s lab, which studies Prochlorococcus, the world’s smallest and most abundant photosynthetic marine organism. Chisholm, who in January received the National Medal of Science, led a team of scientists in the mid-1980s that discovered this tiny ocean microbe. The Oceans’ feature story describes how researchers in the Chisholm lab are now using information from individually sequenced Prochlorococcus genomes to identify Prochlorococcus genes in the rapidly growing common metagenomic database — a library of genes from millions of different organisms. This new approach is yielding very precise ecological information about the microbe and its relationship to its environment.
April 26, 2013
Transportation graduate student Franco Chingcuanco, who works with Professor Carolina Osorio has been awarded the Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council of Canada's Alexander Graham Bell Canada Graduate Scholarship for his ongoing M.S.T./Technology and Policy Program thesis project, "A Parallelized Simulation-Based Optimization Framework For Traffic-Responsive Control." Raphael Dumas, a dual M.S.T. and master's of city planning student, received the same fellowship last fall. Both are Canadian nationals. Dumas works with Professor Nigel Wilson on software that uses automatic vehicle location and fare collection data from transit systems to infer passenger origins and destinations.
April 25, 2013
The CEE-sponsored MIT Steel Bridge Team won first place at the New England regional steel bridge competition held on campus Saturday, April 20. Université Laval placed second, followed by the University of Massachusetts, Lowell in third place. The competition, which was hosted by CEE, was scheduled to begin early Saturday morning, but was delayed by the lockdown in the Boston area that followed the shooting death of MIT Police Officer Sean Collier and the Boston marathon bombings. But the event organizers — M.Eng. students Leonidia Garbis ’12 and Matthew Pires ’10 and administrative officer Patricia Dixon — refused to give up on the possibility that the competition could take place as planned. Read a news release.
April 23, 2013
The American Society of Civil Engineers (ASCE) magazine Geo-Strata ran an article about Professor Emeritus Charles C. Ladd '55, S.M. '57, Sc.D. '61. The article, which appeared in the January/February issue of the magazine, is the fifth in a series called "Lessons Learned From Geo-Legends." ASCE members can read the article online.
April 23, 2013
M.S.T. students Naomi Stein and Allison (Sunny) Vanderboll have been selected as the MIT Graduate Women of Excellence by the Office of the Dean for Graduate Education. A reception April 23 at the Microsoft NERD Center in Cambridge will celebrate the graduate students’ achievements with poster presentations prepared by the honorees. Stein works in Professor Joseph Sussman's High-Speed Rail/Regions group doing research on the interactions between different geographic scales of transportation planning and the relationship between transportation systems and urban and regional development patterns. She will graduate with a master's of city planning as well as an M.S.T. in June. Vanderboll is a member of Professor Cynthia Barnhart's research group, which applies operations research methodology to problems in air transportation networks. Her research focuses on the evaluation of the impacts of various air transportation policies on passenger delays, with the aim of providing insight into how passengers may be impacted by airline regulations.
M.Eng. students Fidele Bingwa, Francesca Cecinati and Yan Ma win poster competition at water symposium
April 22, 2013
A poster by three M.Eng. students — Fidele Bingwa, Francesca Cecinati and Yan Ma — won first place in a competition at the annual interdisciplinary water symposium held April 5 at Tufts University. The winning poster, "Precipitation-Based Flood Early Warning System in the Manafwa River Basin for the Uganda Red Cross Society," is based on fieldwork that Bingwa, Cecinati and Ma performed in Uganda in January, and on their earlier and subsequent research on the project, which is supervised by senior lecturer Richard Schuhmann. Read Francesca Cecinati's blog.
April 18, 2013
Doctoral student Zeid Alghareeb, who works with Professor John Williams in the MIT Geospatial Data Center, has been awarded a seed fund grant of $150,000 from the MIT Energy Initiative (MITEI) for his research proposal, "Optimum Decision-Making in Reservoir Management Using Reduced-Order Models." Alghareeb is a former researcher at Aramco, the Saudia Arabian oil company. His research for this grant focuses on broadening the application of oil reservoir simulation for decision-making in light of geological and financial uncertainties using fast physics-based, reduced-order models. The news of Alghareeb's grant reached over 3 million Twitter users after being picked up by the Arab press. This generated a high volume of traffic to the Geospatial website, placing it second in a Google search for "geospatial." Read a news story.
April 18, 2013
CEE and the Environmental and Water Resources Group of the Boston Society of Civil Engineers Section will present the 2013 John R. Freeman Lecture on April 18 in the Tang Center. Lawrence J. Murphy, P.E. CDM Smith, New York, NY, and Michael Bachand, P.E., U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, will talk about Hurricane Storm Barrier Design and Operation. The reception begins at 6 p.m., followed by the lecture at 7 p.m. The public is invited.
April 17, 2013
The bones that support our bodies are made of remarkably complex arrangements of materials — so much so that decoding the precise structure responsible for their great strength and resilience has eluded scientists’ best efforts for decades. But now, a team of researchers led by Professor Markus Buehler has finally unraveled the structure of bone with almost atom-by-atom precision, after many years of analysis by some of the world’s most powerful computers and comparison with laboratory experiments to confirm the computed results. A paper on this work by Buehler, postdoctoral associate Arun Nair and former postdoctoral fellow Alfonso Gautieri appears this week in the journal Nature Communications. Read a news story.
April 16, 2013
The Production and Operations Management Society honored Professor David Simchi-Levi for his contributions to the field with an article about his professional achievements published in the January-February issue of Production and Operations Management. The article cites Simchi-Levi’s contributions to both the theoretical and practical aspects of supply-chain management as demonstrated by the quality and reach of his published research; the application of this research in corporate practice; the popularity of his second book as a graduate business education text; and his seven years as editor in chief of Operations Research. Read a news release.
April 12, 2013
Senior lecturer Susan Murcott served on a panel and gave a talk at the 2013 Environmental Protection Agency Federal Women’s Program Retreat held March 12 at the EPA regional office in Boston. The retreat’s theme was women in science, technology, engineering and math. Murcott spoke on “Women, Water, Environment: Our Misguided Financial Priorities and the Urgency of Women’s Equal Representation in Government, Science, Technology, Engineering and Math.”
April 11, 2013
Postdoctoral associate Melissa Garren, who works in Professor Roman Stocker’s lab, won the award for best talk by a junior scientist at the symposium on “Microscale Interactions in Aquatic Microenvironments,” held at the School of Physics in Les Houches, France, March 10-15. The title of Garren’s talk was “A Coral Pathogen Uses Chemotaxis and Chemokinesis to Target the Mucus of its Host.” The journal Limnology and Oceanography: Fluids and Environments sponsors the award.
April 10, 2013
MIT and Accenture announced March 13 that they have formed a five-year collaboration to help close the gap between development of business analytics technologies and their successful application in industry and government. The collaboration, called the Accenture and MIT Alliance in Business Analytics, will be led by CEE Professor David Simchi-Levi and Narendra Mulani, senior managing director for Accenture Analytics. Read a press release.
April 9, 2013
Assistant Professor Pedro Reis of CEE and Mechanical Engineering (ME) and Assistant Professor Ken Kamrin of ME developed a new online version of 2.002 (Mechanics and Materials II), a core requirement in mechanical engineering. The online course, i2.002, features videotaped lectures from 2.002, as well as recitations and a discussion forum. One element that sets i2.002 apart from other MOOCs is its ease of searching: Search a key word or concept, and a video will start at exactly the moment in a lecture when that concept is introduced. Reis and Kamrin developed the online course for MIT students who have a scheduling conflict with 2.002's lecture period, allowing these students to watch lectures on their own time, but requiring them to attend regular lab sections and take in-class exams. The semi-online course is sponsored by MIT’s Office of Educational Innovation and Technology (OEIT), the Office of Digital Learning, ME and the School of Engineering. Kamrin and Reis are now collaborating with OEIT to incorporate new technologies into their project. Read a news story.
April 8, 2013
Professor Markus Buehler will receive the 2013 Robert Lansing Hardy Award from TMS (The Mineral, Metals & Materials Society), the oldest and second largest materials research society in the country. This prestigious honor, given to researchers under age 35, recognizes the impact of Buehler’s work in the field of materials science and engineering. The award cited his “innovative work in computational materials science of biological, bio-inspired and synthetic materials, focused on mechanical properties and in particular deformation and failure.” Buehler has been promoted to full professor, effective July 1. Read a news release.
April 8, 2013
Frederick J. McGarry, professor emeritus of polymer engineering in the Department of Materials Science and Engineering and the Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering died March 27 after a long illness. He was 86. In addition to his research and education roles, McGarry served as secretary of the faculty, director of the Program in Polymer Science and Technology, chair of the ROTC program, and director of the Summer Session (now the Professional Education Program). Over the course of his career, he participated in multiple international programs, including in the 1960s the MIT Inter-American Program in Civil Engineering, which examined a collaborative initiative to solve engineering problems common to the United States and Latin American countries. Read his obituary.
April 5, 2013
About 200 people attended the MIT Water Club’s inaugural MIT Water Night, which was held in Walker Memorial on March 21 to coincide with the United Nations World Water Day. The event’s organizers — four CEE graduate students — hoped to enhance collaboration among people at MIT and in industry who conduct water-related research. Areas of research represented in the 34 poster presentations included desalination, water resource management, climate change, nanotechnologies, wastewater treatment and environmental microbiology. The CEE graduate student organizers were Hamed Alemohammad, director; Jennifer Apell, operations director; John Kondziolka, marketing director; and Xin Xu, content director.
April 4, 2013
As part of the MIT SDM Systems Thinking Webinar Series, CEE Professor Joseph Sussman will deliver a presentation titled "Understanding and Designing Complex Sociotechnical Systems" on April 8 from noon to 1 p.m. Drawing examples from different fields, Sussman will define sociotechnical systems, their components and characteristics, and describe how to devise design solutions that focus on advanced technologies and the relationship of the technologies to the organizations and institutions through which they function. The webinar is free and open to all.
April 3, 2013
Doctoral student Jameson Toole, a member of Professor Marta González's research group, is the subject of a feature article on MIT News, "Making Sense of Big Data." Toole works with large data sets, often collected from cellphones, to create models of transportation and online community networks. For instance, he and González recently modeled the contagion process of Twitter in its early years, showing that the early growth of the online social networking site relied on traditional social networks of geographic proximity and socioeconomic similarity.
April 2, 2013
Engineering News Record, a weekly magazine for the construction industry, has named Franz-Josef Ulm, the George Macomber Professor in CEE, to its list of 25 Top Newsmakers for his work establishing the MIT Concrete Sustainability Hub (CSH). The hub, which is headquartered in CEE, was established October 2009 with the objective of reducing the environmental footprint of concrete — the manufacturing of which is responsible for about 5 percent of global atmospheric carbon dioxide. Two 2012 articles about CSH research in Engineering News Record prompted the editors to include Ulm and the CSH on the list. Read a news release.
March 28, 2013
Professor Oral Buyukozturk is principal investigator on a new research project focused on sustainable development in Kuwait’s built environment. The $3.76 million project is funded through the Kuwait-MIT Center for Natural Resources and the Environment by the Kuwait Foundation for the Advancement of Sciences. It involves a team of researchers spanning four MIT departments — architecture; civil and environmental engineering; earth, atmospheric and planetary sciences; and nuclear science and engineering. Research will address innovation in design for sustainability in buildings and neighborhoods in three interrelated areas: materials, systems and energy efficiency. Read a news story.
March 21, 2013
CEE lecturer Paul Kassabian has developed an iPhone/iPad app based on MIT CEE subjects. Unlike the courses, the application uses little text and no equations but instead teaches the behavior of structures through visuals: diagrams, animations and comparisons. Structures: A Visual Exploration explores cables, arches, domes, columns, trusses, beams, frames and prestressed beams. It can be purchased for $1.99 from iTunes. Kassabian teaches graduate course 1.572 Structural Systems. View and purchase the app.
March 20, 2013
A feature story on MIT News about senior Marisa Simmons (1C) describes her personal and professional interests, which include her annual tradition of baking a 10-layer cake for her housemates in iHouse (International Development House); her work with the MIT chapter of Engineers Without Borders encouraging the use of solar water disinfection (SODIS) and designing a rainwater storage system for a Ugandan village; and her research on alternative concretes in the Building Technology Lab at MIT. After graduation, Simmons plans to get a master’s degree in construction project management, then use her engineering and management skills to improve the lives of others through infrastructure development and sustainable design. Read the news story.
March 20, 2013
The American Society for Microbiology (ASM) announced recently that Professor Martin Polz of the Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering is recipient of the Eli Lilly and Company-Elanco Research Award, ASM's oldest and most prestigious prize. Polz, a microbiologist whose research explores the relationships between structure and function in microbial communities in the wild, is the first ecologist to be selected in the 77-year history of the award, which rewards fundamental research in microbiology or immunology by a scientist not yet 45 years old. Polz will receive the award and give the Eli Lilly Award Lecture during the ASM’s 113th General Meeting to be held in Denver in May. Read a news release.
March 19, 2013
A news release from ASTM International describes the progress made at the first meeting of the recently formed ASTM Subcommittee D18.26 on Hydraulic Fracturing, which is chaired by CEE senior researcher and senior lecturer John Germaine. The more than 100 attendees at the Jacksonville, Fla., meeting held Jan. 29 determined categories for which consensus standards could be developed that would "guide best practices within the oil and gas industry while also addressing environmental concerns regarding water, land and air resources." Attendees also appointed task forces to begin that work. The next meeting is scheduled for early June in Indianapolis.
March 18, 2013
Prompted by an article in Forbes magazine, the blog Supply Chain Simplified has compiled a list of the top 10 thought leaders in supply chain management and included two MIT faculty members: Professors David Simchi-Levi and Yossi Sheffi. The study selected the Harvard Business Review and MIT Sloan Management Review as data sources because of their "sound editorial guidelines and usefulness to practitioners," and used author article count as its primary metric.
March 15, 2013
The Blue Lobster Bowl, Massachusetts' regional marine science quiz bowl, is one of 25 regional competitions leading up to the National Ocean Sciences Bowl. As part of this year's competition, held in the Kirsch Auditorium March 3, CEE postdoctoral fellow Steven Smriga and graduate student Jessica Thompson offered outreach activities focused on marine microbiology. The activities, which are part of an education module designed by the Center for Microbial Oceanography: Research and Education, included microscopy to view planktonic organisms and experiments that demonstrated the link between carbon dioxide and ocean acidification. The competition, now in its 16th year, included students from 13 Massachusetts high schools.
March 14, 2013
Professor Markus Buehler, co-director of the MIT Computation for Design and Optimization Program (CDO), invites the CEE faculty and students to attend an event today, March 14, sponsored by the CDO and the the Center for Computational Engineering (CCE). The CDO/CCE Symposium begins at 5:30 p.m. in Room 34-401. The keynote speakers are Stephen Wolfram, founder and CEO of Wolfram Research and creator of Mathematica and Wolfram Alpha Computational Engine, and Professor Alex (Sandy) Pentland of the MIT Media Lab. The event is a platform for showcasing the application and development of computational methods in areas ranging from engineering to social sciences.
Paper by grad student Amer Deirieh and Professor Franz-Josef Ulm wins Best Paper Prize from Acta Geotechnica
March 13, 2013
A paper based on work by graduate student (and first author) Amer Deirieh S.M. '12 and former postdoctoral associate J. Alberto Ortega S.M. '06, Ph.D. '10, Professor Franz-Josef Ulm and Younane Abousleiman of the University of Oklahoma received the Best Paper Prize for 2012 from Acta Geotechnica. "Nanochemomechanical Assessment of Shale: a Coupled WDS-Indentation Analysis," appeared in the Dec. 2012 issue of the journal. Deirieh is now a doctoral student working with senior lecturer and senior researcher John Germaine.
March 12, 2013
Graduate student Anna Tarakanova and Professor Markus Buehler were selected as recipients of the 2012 Minerals, Metals & Materials Society (TMS) Structural Materials Division JOM Best Paper Award. The paper, “A Materiomics Approach to Spider Silk: Protein Molecules to Webs,” was published in February 2012. Tarakanova was also a co-author with Buehler of an article that appeared on the cover of Nature Feb. 2, 2012. She continues to incorporate spider silk research but has now expanded to looking into the challenging problem of identifying the structure and mechanics of elastin.
March 8, 2013
The MIT International Development Initiative selected M.S.T. student Andrés Felipe Archila won a 2013 Carroll L. Wilson Award for his project to develop a framework for transportation planning in Colombia, his native country. Archila, who works with Professor Joseph Sussman in the Regional Transportation Planning and High-Speed Rail Research Group at MIT, will also provide feedback on Colombia's current rail infrastructure plans while he works with the Colombian National Infrastructure Agency this summer. "The framework will have a special focus on improved project evaluation guidelines, on increased attention to multi-modal system performance, and on recognition of uncertainty in large infrastructure projects," said Archila. "I'll work closely with the leadership team of the National Infrastructure Agency and other stakeholders to have a more participatory planning process. We'll develop this framework together and I'll train them in the application to subsequent planning efforts."
Professor Saurabh Amin to discuss resilient infrastructures at the energy-focused MIT-Stanford Game-Changers Workshop
March 7, 2013
Professor Saurabh Amin will appear on a panel at the MIT-Stanford Game-Changers Workshop, "Energy on the Move," on Thursday, March 7 at the Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars in Washington, D.C. Amin will discuss resilient infrastructures during the panel discussion on Infrastructure/Supply Chains: 21st Century Efficient and Resilient Energy Infrastructures. The workshop is jointly sponsored by Stanford's Shultz-Stephenson Task Force on Energy Policy and the MIT Energy Initiative. Other speakers include former Secretary of State George Shultz Ph.D. '49 (Economics) and MIT Professor Robert Armstrong, deputy director of the MIT Energy Initiative. MIT President Rafael Reif will give opening and concluding remarks.
March 6, 2013
An article about the work of MIT's Concrete Sustainability Hub appeared in the Feb. 21 issue of Nature. Writer Ivan Amato describes the CSHub's research initiative to gain an understanding of cement at the atomic scale as part of its larger goal to create a more environmentally friendly product. (The manufacture of this ubiquitous building material is responsible for 5 percent of the world's human-caused greenhouse gases.) The story includes interviews with Professor Hamlin Jennings, director of the CSHub, and senior research scientist Roland Pellenq.
February 27, 2013
Research by Professor Marta González and former postdoctoral associate Pu Wang was the topic of an article in the Feb. 17 issue of the Boston Sunday Globe Ideas section. Gonzalez's work using cellphone data to map traffic congestion showed that canceling or delaying the trips of 1 percent of drivers from carefully selected neighborhoods in five Boston-area cities would reduce the extra travel time for all other drivers in Greater Boston by 18 percent. The article was accompanied by a graphic showing which neighborhoods serve as the source of traffic leading to the worst traffic tie-ups.
February 26, 2013
Shengkun Yang, an M.Eng. student in the environmental and water quality engineering track, is participating in the Global Social Entrepreneurship Competition at his alma mater, the University of Washington. Yang's team, Aquafiltro, has designed a drinking-water ceramic-filtering system for use in Ghanaian households. The team was selected from a pool of 91 to compete in the week-long semi-finals and finals this week, Feb. 25 to March 1. The final rounds can be viewed online Feb. 28 from 4 p.m. to 7 p.m. (Eastern time).
February 22, 2013
CEE students used Legos, straws and leaves to inspire youngsters at the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS) Family Science Days last weekend. A book co-authored by Professor Penny Chisholm also played a role, winning the AAAS/Subaru SB&F Prize for Excellence in Science Books. Two exhibit booths were organized by juniors Tara Soni and Therese Santiano-McHatton of CEESA, and one booth by postdoctoral associate Eben Cross of Professor Jesse Kroll's research group. Read a news story.
February 21, 2013
CEE graduate Daniel Jimenez S.B. ’10, M.Eng. ’11 has been named a Gates Cambridge Scholar for 2013. Jimenez will go to the University of Cambridge next fall to study for a master of philosophy in engineering for sustainable development. His graduate studies will build on his MIT education and the work he has been doing in the Philippines as a Fulbright Scholar developing cost-effective, environmentally friendly, disaster-resistant construction technologies and methods. Read a news story.
February 20, 2013
CEE doctoral student Hamed Alemohammad is director of the MIT Water Club’s upcoming Water Night, a research showcase for MIT research groups (students, faculty, researchers and alumni) to present posters of their water-related work. The event will also include presentations of state-of-the-art research by companies working in this field. People who wish to share their work in the poster session are encouraged to submit an abstract online at http://goo.gl/szIzc no later than Monday, Feb. 25. MIT Water Night will be held in Morss Hall, Walker Memorial from 5 p.m. to 8:30 p.m on March 21. Alemohammad says the event is a great opportunity for CEE community members to network with other MIT affiliates and representatives of companies engaged in water-related research. The public is invited.
February 14, 2013
At the AAAS Family Science Days this weekend, Professor Jesse Kroll's research group, working with the MIT Center for Environmental Health Science, will present "Understanding Air: Climate Change & Air Pollution." In this activity booth, visitors will first use LEGO bricks to model the composition and relative quantity of molecules in air, and then model complete and incomplete combustion of a hydrocarbon fuel. In the process, visitors will learn about the chemistry of the air and the origin of certain air pollutants (carbon dioxide, carbon monoxide, and particulate matter). Kroll's group also will demonstrate how particulate matter sensors work. In addition to planners Kroll and postdoctoral associate Eben Cross, CEE participants include graduate student Kelsey Boulanger, postdoctoral associate Ellie Browne, and undergraduates Teri Oehmke, Sid Pai and Alex Severt. Family Science Days will be held from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. at the Hynes Convention Center on Feb. 16 and 17.
February 13, 2013
MIT closed last Friday because of winter storm Nemo, so the CEE Research Speed Dating Event has been rescheduled to this Friday, Feb. 15, from 1 p.m. to 5 p.m. and relocated to the Skyline Room of the New Media Lab building (E14, 6th floor). Twenty-four faculty members and postdoctoral associates will talk about their research in four-minute soundbites followed by two-minute Q&As moderated by undergraduates. All members of the CEE community are invited to attend part or all of the event, which will be followed by a reception with a jazz band. If you plan to attend the reception, please let Amy McGuire know.
February 7, 2013
The Concrete Sustainability Hub will hold a two-day "Meet the CSHub" event on Tuesday and Wednesday, Feb. 26 and 27. Tuesday's schedule will be primarily industry task group meetings, but all members of the CEE community are invited to attend Wednesday, when researchers will make presentations about their work. Wednesday's presentations will be held in E14-674 beginning at 9 a.m. Members of the MIT CEE community planning to attend can do so at no fee, but are encouraged to register in advance by writing to Donna Hudson and Randa Ghattas.
February 6, 2013
Students in CEESA, the MIT chapter of the American Society of Civil Engineers, will participate in Family Science Days during the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS) annual meeting at the Hynes Convention Center. Family Science Days are Saturday and Sunday, Feb. 16 and 17 from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. Juniors Tara Soni and Theresa Santiano-McHatton, the former and current presidents of CEESA, respectively, have organized CEE's participation, which will include a demonstration of photosynthesis and an exhibit about the properties of materials' at different scales. The event is open to the public.
February 5, 2013
This Friday, Feb. 8, CEE will hold its third annual Research Speed Dating Event from 1 p.m. to 5 p.m. in Killian Hall (14W-111). Twenty-four faculty members and postdoctoral associates will talk about their research in four-minute soundbites followed by two-minute Q&As. CEE undergraduates will chair the sessions. The Research Speed Dating Event is a great way to learn more about the breadth and depth of research in CEE. All members of the CEE community are invited to attend part or all of the event, which will be followed by a reception.
January 31, 2013
January 30, 2013
On Jan. 14, the trade publication The Concrete Producer named the MIT Concrete Sustainability Hub (CSH) to its 2012 Industry Influencer list in recognition of the hub's "ongoing and painstaking" research in concrete science and engineering. "The Massachusetts Institute of Technology Concrete Sustainability Hub has taken its research results to the streets only three years since starting its important work," wrote Tom Bagsarian. The CSH, which is headquartered in CEE, was established in October 2009 in collaboration with the Ready Mixed Concrete (RMC) Research and Education Foundation and the Portland Cement Association to accelerate breakthroughs in concrete science and engineering and transfer the science into practice. Professor Hamlin Jennings is executive director and Macomber Professor Franz-Josef Ulm is director.
January 30, 2013
A Nov. 26 article on Live Science describes Professor Roman Stocker's research on "interactions between the tiniest marine organisms, their fluid dynamical environment and their food sources" and includea Q & A about Stocker's background and influences, including his favorite songwriters. Read the interview.
January 29, 2013
A story about research by Professor Franz-Josef Ulm and doctoral student Mehdi Akbarian on pavement deflection appeared in a recent issue of Southwest Airline's Spirit magazine. The article, "Using Firmer Pavement Could Save us $15.6 Billion Per Year in Fuel Costs," can also be read in the online magazine.
Article about Ben-Akiva's study encouraging drivers to switch to public transit appears in Atlantic Cities magazine
January 29, 2013
A story about work by Professor Moshe Ben-Akiva and Maya Abou-Zeid S.M. '03, Ph.D. '09 appeared in the Dec. 12 issue of Atlantic Cities. The article, "Even American Drivers Like Mass Transit More Than They Think," focuses on a study run by Ben-Akiva and Abou-Zeid in 2008 encouraging MIT employees with full-time parking permits to commute by transit for a one-week trial period. The study found that nearly 30 percent of participants had switched to public transit after the trial ended, and 25 percent continued to use public transit six months later.
January 28, 2013
CEE undergraduates participating in Trex 2013 gave a presentation of their findings at the Kaloko-Honokohau National Historical Park in North Kona, Hawaii, Jan. 24, as part of the ReefTalk series hosted by the University of Hawaii’s Sea Grant program. TREXer Jessica Parker says in her blog that 58 people attended the 40-minute presentation, which was followed by 40 minutes of questions and answers. An article about the presentation appeared in the newspaper West Hawaii Today. Read the blog.
January 25, 2013
Collaborative work by Professor Markus Buehler and postdoctoral associate Seunghwa Ryu and researchers at Duke University demonstrates the use of mechanical instabilities in graphene to reversibly control its surface properties. The researchers showed that substances like water droplets have a distinct way of interacting with graphene's surface by applying mechanical strain to the system, which in turn changes the nanoscale structure of the graphene film. Harnessing a nanoscale crumpling (or buckling) instability in graphene allowed the researchers to make the graphene's surface at the macroscale highly water repellent, creating a reversible “Lotus effect” that causes a water droplet to form a spherical shape and roll along the surface. Buehler and Ryu, now an assistant professor at Korea Advanced Institute of Science and Technology, worked on simulations and theory and the Duke researchers ran the lab experiments. Applications for this type of mechanical instability in graphene include superhydrophobic and on-demand self-cleaning surfaces, as well as electrodes that make use of graphene's electronic properties. The work was published online Jan. 20 in Nature Materials.
January 24, 2013
ASTM International (formerly known as the American Society for Testing and Materials) recently announced the formation of a subcommittee within committee D18 to develop industry standards for the rapid-growth area of hydraulic fracturing. CEE's John Germaine, senior research associate and senior lecturer, headed the task group that recommended the formation of the subcommittee, and will chair the new Subcommittee D18.26 on Hydraulic Fracturing. The subcommittee has about 160 members representing industry and government agencies, who will meet later this month in Jacksonville, Fla. Read a news article.
January 23, 2013
Museum-goers around the country will gain new insight into the work of visionary designer Rafael Guastavino thanks in part to the work of three undergraduates from the Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering — senior Nicky Soane, sophomore Simon Okaine and junior Carmen Castaños — who worked on the exhibit as a UROP project. Known for the extraordinarily beautiful vaulted ceilings he created in such landmark buildings as the Boston Public Library, Ellis Island’s Registry Hall and Grand Central Terminal in New York, N.Y., Guastavino is the focus of “Palaces for the People: Guastavino and America’s Great Public Spaces,” an exhibit by Professor John Ochsendorf that is on view now through Feb. 24 at the Boston Public Library in Copley Square. The exhibit will then travel to the National Building Museum in Washington, D.C., (March 16-Sept. 2) and to the Museum of the City of New York in early 2014. Read a news release. Watch a video.
Scientists track ocean microbe populations in their natural habitat to create a ‘day in the life’ montage
January 22, 2013
Microbiologists who study wild marine microbes face enormous challenges in getting a clear picture of the daily activities of their subjects. But a team of scientists led by Professor Edward DeLong recently figured out how to make the equivalent of a nature film, showing the simultaneous activities of many coexisting species in their native habitat over time. Instead of making a movie, the scientists used a robotic device that drifted in the water gathering samples of one billion microbes every four hours. Similar to fast photography that stops action, the robotic device “fixed” each sample so that whatever genes the microbes were expressing at the moment of capture were preserved for later study in the lab, where the scientists created a time-lapse montage of the daily labors of microbes. Read a news release.
January 17, 2013
Undergrads are doing fieldwork on Hawaii, chasing the volcanic smog emitted by Kilauea to determine its chemical composition and how that changes as it is blown around the island. 1C sophomore Jessica Parker is blogging. Read and subscribe to Parker's blog.
January 15, 2013
Two M.Eng students will study the Sparta aquifer in Arkansas to see if surface water can be added to the groundwater to augment water table levels without lowering water quality. Rob Sowby and Joyce Zhu are blogging. Read and subscribe to the Sparta aquifer blog.
January 14, 2013
Hundreds of MIT students, faculty and alumni attend the Transportation Research Board Annual Meeting (TRB) in Washington, D.C. to present research, learn what’s new in transportation, and network. M.S.T. student Ryan Westrom is blogging. Read and subscribe to Ryan Westrom’s blog.
January 9, 2013
Zara L'Heureux, a senior in 1C, presented a poster at the American Association of Aerosol Research's (AAAR) annual meeting in October 2012 based on fieldwork research performed by civil and environmental engineering undergraduates in CEE's Traveling Research Environmental Experiences (TREX) January 2012 program. The poster, "Online, Mobile Measurements of the Chemical Composition of Volcanic Smog (Vog)," described the study, which aimed to characterize the evolving composition of vog from Kilauea, an active volcano on the island of Hawaii. The TREX 2012 team of 14 undergraduates used an SUV carrying a suite of real-time aerosol and gas phase monitors to intercept and sample vog at multiple locations downwind of the volcano. These are the first known real-time measurements of the composition of volcanic aerosol.
Vog has become a severe environmental problem on Hawaii since a new vent opened in Kilauea in 2008. Sulfur dioxide gas and particulate sulfate in the plume are blown south-southwest by tradewinds, greatly impacting the southern portion of the island, particularly the town of Pahola. On some days, the plume is then picked up by offshore winds and blown northward along the western shore, impacting Hilo, the largest city on the island. Students will continue the work this month during TREX 2013. Co-authors of the poster are Eben Cross, L'Heureux, Lisa Wallace, Anna Kelly, Kelly Daumit, Philip Croteau, John Jayne, Douglas Worsnop and Professor Jesse Kroll. Read more in the TREX 2012 blog. Read the TREX 2013 blog.
January 7, 2013
Ocean Sunlight: How Tiny Plants Feed the Seas (Blue Sky Press, May 2012), a book co-authored by Molly Bang and CEE Professor Penny Chisholm and illustrated by Bang, will be honored by the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS) at its annual meeting in Boston, Feb. 14-18. The book will receive the AAAS/Subaru Science Books & Films Prize for Excellence in Science Books, which celebrates outstanding science writing and illustration for children and young adults. The book is the second in a series by Bang and Chisholm. It follows Living Sunlight: How Plants Bring the Earth to Life (The Blue Sky Press, 2009), which won the Subaru Prize the year it was published. The third book in the series will be on fossil fuel.
January 4, 2013
The blog, Supply Chain Management (SCM) Operations, recently named the 10 Greatest Supply Chain Management Books of All Time, based on the number of citations for books found by Google Scholar. Books by two CEE faculty members — David Simchi-Levi and Yossi Sheffi — and a third MIT faculty member appear on the list. The MIT books are Designing and Managing the Supply Chain: Concepts, Strategies and Case Studies 3rd Edition (McGraw-Hill/Irwin, 2007) by David Simchi-Levi, professor of civil and environmental engineering and engineering systems, and Philip Kaminsky and Edith Simchi-Levi; The Resilient Enterprise: Overcoming Vulnerability for Competitive Advantage (MIT Press, 2007) by Yossi Sheffi, the Elisha Gray II Professor of Engineering Systems and a professor of civil and environmental engineering; and Clockspeed: Winning Industry Control in the Age of Temporary Advantage (Basic Books, 1999) by Charles Fine, the Chrysler Leaders for Manufacturing Professor in the MIT Sloan School of Management.
January 3, 2013
Professor Sallie W. (Penny) Chisholm has been awarded the National Medal of Science, the nation’s highest honor for scientists and engineers. President Barack Obama will present the medal to Chisholm, the Lee and Geraldine Martin Professor of Environmental Studies in the Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering and the Department of Biology, in a ceremony at the White House. Chisholm is the 48th MIT scientist to be so recognized since the medal was established in 1959. She is a distinguished biological oceanographer whose studies of the dominant photosynthetic organisms in the sea have revolutionized our understanding of life in the world’s oceans. Read a news release. View a short video about Sallie (Penny) Chisholm's work.
January 3, 2013
Professor Markus Buehler will co-chair the American Society of Mechanical Engineers (ASME) 2013 Global Congress on Nano-engineering for Medicine and Biology, which will be held Feb. 4-6 at the Renaissance Boston Waterfront Hotel in Boston. The conference, co-chaired by Buehler and Professor Mehmet Toner of Harvard and MIT's Health Sciences and Technology Program, will focus on the integration of engineering, materials science and nanotechnology to address challenges in biology and medicine, including development of devices, materials and methods for detecting and treating disease.
January 3, 2013
The International Society for Rock Mechanics (ISRM) has selected Professor Herbert Einstein to be an ISRM Fellow, honoring his outstanding accomplishments in rock mechanics and rock engineering. Einstein will be inducted formally in September during the ISRM International Symposium Eurock 2013 in Wroclaw, Poland. The ISRM created the Fellow status in 2010 and inducted the first Fellows in 2011. Fellows are selected every two years. Einstein's research is in the areas of rock mechanics, underground construction, engineering geology and risk analysis.
Traffic congestion can be alleviated throughout a metropolitan area by altering the trips of drivers in specific neighborhoods
December 20, 2012
In most cities, traffic growth has outpaced road capacity, leading to increased congestion, particularly during the morning and evening commutes. One way to prevent traffic tie-ups is to have fewer cars on the road by encouraging alternatives such as public transportation, carpooling, flex time and working from home. But a new study — by Professor Marta González and researchers at Central South University in China, the University of California at Berkeley and the Austrian Institute of Technology — incorporates data from drivers’ cellphones to show that the adoption of these alternatives by a small percentage of people across a metropolitan area might not be very effective. However, if the same number of people, but from a carefully selected segment of the driving population, chooses not to drive at rush hour, this could reduce congestion significantly. Read a news release.
December 18, 2012
In the MIT Alumni Association’s next Faculty Forum Online broadcast, Professor Andrew J. Whittle ScD ’87, head of CEE, will discuss the challenges of flood protection using examples from experiences in New York, New Orleans and Venice. After Whittle opens the program with remarks on flood protection, he will take questions from the worldwide MIT community via video chat on Thursday, Dec. 20, from noon to 12:30 p.m. To “attend” the free event — The Challenges of Coastal Flood Protection — register and get the link for live viewing. After the event, viewers are invited to go to the Slice of MIT blog and continue the conversation in the comments.
Research shows why slight increase in flexibility of manufacturing plants optimizes efficiency and cost
December 17, 2012
Professor David Simchi-Levi and doctoral student Yehua Wei applied a combination of optimization and stochastic methodologies to explain the effectiveness of “long chain” flexibility design in manufacturing operations. With the long chain design, manufacturing plants are endowed with the capacity to produce exactly two different products and every product is produced by exactly two plants. The design can be applied to other systems, including the cross-training of workers on an assembly line, supply chains, queuing networks, and people and tasks in a call center. But until now, nobody had explained or proved mathematically why the long chain works better than other flexibility models. Read the December issue of On Balance.
December 14, 2012
Postdoctoral associate Gabriel Juarez received a Conference Travel Grant from the MIT Postdoctoral Association's Professional Development Committee to attend the annual meeting of the American Physical Society Division of Fluid Dynamics in San Diego Nov. 18 to 20. Juarez delivered a talk titled, "Bacteria Motility at Oil-Water Interfaces." He works with Professor Roman Stocker's environmental microfluidics research group.
New book edited by Oral Buyukozturk on the nondestructive testing of materials and structures is published
December 14, 2012
The proceedings of the May 2011 conference on the Nondestructive Testing of Materials and Structures have been published as a book edited by CEE Professor Oral Buyukozturk and Mehmet Ali Tasdemir, Oguz Gunes and Yilmaz Akkaya. Nondestructive Testing of Materials and Structures (Springer, 2013) is the sixth volume in the RILEM series on construction materials, systems and structures. The 1,278 page two-volume proceedings from the Istanbul conference contain 175 refereed papers by 473 authors on current and future nondestructive testing methods and their application to engineering materials and structures.
December 13, 2012
MIT News writer David Chandler profiles Professor Roman Stocker and his research, describing Stocker’s early exposure to civil engineering via his father’s work to his own niche studying marine microbes using microfluidics technology. As the headline says, "from microbes in the ocean to cats in the kitchen, [Stocker] uncovers surprising phenomena where biology meets fluid mechanics." Read the news story.
December 13, 2012
The Oceans at MIT website ran an article by Genevieve Wanucha about the research of CEE Professor Roman Stocker's environmental microfluidics lab, which uses small devices to create mini-habitats for ocean microbes. “It’s the same as studying any other complex ecosystem, for example a jungle,” says Stocker. “Ultimately, if you want to understand the ecosystem on the large scale, you have to go down to the level of the single organism: how it finds food, how it competes, how it is affected by its environment. The challenge in our case is that the single organism is invisibly small.” Read the story.
December 12, 2012
The American Society of Civil Engineers (ASCE) announced that Charles C. Ladd III, the Edmund K. Turner Professor Emeritus of CEE, will receive a 2013 Outstanding Projects and Leaders (OPAL) lifetime achievement award for his contributions to civil engineering education at a black-tie gala in Arlington, Va., next spring. Ladd, who taught at MIT from 1957 to 2001, was feted this fall by friends, former students and faculty colleagues with a party in October honoring his 80th birthday. Read a news release.
December 12, 2012
Senior lecturer Susan Murcott gave a keynote speech at the World Science for Peace Conference in Milan last month. Sponsored by the Veronesi Foundation, the conference brought together government leaders, Nobel Prize winners, academics, progressive social activists, media and youth to discuss issues falling under the theme, Towards a More Equal World. Murcott addressed problems of water scarcity and water access in the developing world, particularly as they relate to women, who generally bear the burden of providing water for their families. Murcott presented Pure Home Water (PHW), a social enterprise she co-founded in 2005 in Tamale, Ghana, as one example of a viable solution to these problems. PHW makes it possible for women potters and factory workers to manufacture ceramic pot filters in their own communities that can be used by households to purify water. Since its founding, PHW has involved more than 100 MIT students in research and service projects addressing water quality, sanitation, hygiene and health. Watch a video.
December 11, 2012
The American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS) recently awarded the distinction of fellow to 702 scientists, including CEE's Sallie W. (Penny) Chisholm, the Lee and Geraldine Martin Professor of Environmental Studies, and four other members of the MIT community. Fellows are recognized by their peers for their scientifically or socially distinguished efforts to advance science or its applications. New fellows will be presented with an official certificate and a gold and blue pin (representing science and engineering, respectively) on Feb. 16, 2013, at the AAAS annual meeting in Boston. Chisholm was elected for her distinguished contributions to biological oceanography, especially for pioneering studies on the most abundant primary producer on the planet, the marine microorganism Prochlorococcus. Read the news release on the AAAS website.
Two CEE faculty — DeLong and Stocker — receive Moore Foundation award and grants for marine microbiology research
December 11, 2012
Three MIT researchers were named Marine Microbiology Initiative investigators on Monday by the Gordon and Betty Moore Foundation — an honor that includes funding for pioneering research in the field of marine microbial ecology. Edward DeLong, professor in CEE and biological engineering; Roman Stocker, associate professor in CEE; and Michael Follows, a senior research scientist in the Department of Earth, Atmospheric and Planetary Sciences, were among 16 awardees nationwide. MIT was the only institution to have more than one investigator named this year. The funding — up to $35 million over five years combined for all the recipients — will enable researchers to explore how the trillions of microscopic organisms at the base of the ocean’s food webs interact with each other and their environment, according to a press release from the foundation. The research will also provide new insights — and lead to new and exciting questions — about our basic understanding of ocean ecosystems and issues such as climate change.
December 7, 2012
A video from the first Chiang C. Mei Lecture in Applied Mechanics can now be viewed online. Julian Hunt, Professor of Climate Modeling at the University College London, spoke on "Fluid Mechanics and Public Policy: Environmental Impacts and Change" at the Oct. 3 event. Watch the video.
December 6, 2012
A Dec. 2 story on the Oceans at MIT website poses three questions to Professor Chiang Mei about the possibility of building storm surge barriers to protect the New York and New Jersey coastline from hurricanes like Sandy, which hit the U.S. coast earlier this fall, killing 131 people and causing billions of dollars in damage. Mei, the Ford Professor Emeritus of Engineering who is recognized internationally for his contributions to wave and fluid mechanics, has been involved in the project to build gates at three entrances of the Venice Lagoon to prevent that city from flooding. Mei did mathematical modeling for the Venice gates from 1992-2008 and provided oversight as a member of the Collegio di Experti di Livello Internazionale, Ministry of Public Works from 1996-1998. Read the story.
December 5, 2012
An article by doctoral student Zenzile Brooks, "A Gift of Glass," appeared in the November issue of the Materials Research Society (MRS) Bulletin. Brooks, who plans to be a science writer after graduation, wrote the article about the MIT Glass Lab's rebirth in 1986 as a volunteer freelancer for MRS Bulletin. As an undergraduate at the University of Southern California, Brooks hosted a TV talk show, CU@USC, and says she's always enjoyed talking with people to hear their stories. At MIT, she works with Professor Franz-Josef Ulm and Professor Herbert Einstein on understanding why rocks crack at the micro and nanoscales.
December 4, 2012
Professor Andrew Whittle gave an evening lecture at the Oskar von Miller Forum in Munich Nov. 20, speaking on the design and performance of coastal flood protection systems using New Orleans and Venice as examples. The forum is an independent educational initiative sponsored by the Bavarian construction industry that seeks to enrich the education of civil engineers and architects at the Technical University of Munich. The evening lectures series features internationally known experts who address current topics of interdisciplinary, intercultural interest. Whittle, who is department head of CEE, served on the panel reviewing the hurricane protection systems in New Orleans following Hurricane Katrina and on the Massachusetts governor’s “stem to stern” safety review of Boston’s Big Dig tunnel.
November 28, 2012
Pound for pound, spider silk is one of the strongest materials known: Research by CEE's Markus Buehler has helped explain that this strength arises from silk’s unusual hierarchical arrangement of protein building blocks. Now Buehler — together with David Kaplan of Tufts University and Joyce Wong of Boston University — has synthesized new variants on silk’s natural structure, and found a method for making further improvements in the synthetic material. The work stems from a collaboration of civil and environmental engineers, mathematicians, biomedical engineers and musical composers. The results are reported in a paper published in the journal Nano Today. Read a news story on MIT News.
November 19, 2012
In late September, Professor Jerome Connor’s latest book was published, this one written with co-author Susan Faraji of University of Massachusetts Lowell. Fundamentals of Structural Engineering (Springer, 2013) is the sixth book Connor has authored or co-authored, but it is his first textbook for undergraduates. The 1,120-page book can be used for teaching three subjects: Structural Analysis I and II and Practice of Structural Engineering. Connor says his goal is to modify the teaching paradigm to incorporate computer-based computation and analysis into undergraduate curricula. “Engineers reason about behavior using simple models and intuition they’ve acquired through problem-solving experience,” says Connor. “The approach in this book will help students develop this type of intuition through computer simulation, which allows one to rapidly explore how the structure responds to changes in geometry and physical parameters.” Read the E-book online from within MIT or from outside MIT.
November 16, 2012
The prize council of the Prince Sultan Bin Abdulaziz International Prize for Water recently announced that Professor Charles Harvey and his research team will receive the Groundwater Prize for determining the likely pathway by which arsenic has been contaminating the drinking water in Bangladesh. This phenomenon, referred to as “the largest mass poisoning of a population in history” puzzled scientists, world health agencies and the Bangladeshi government for nearly 30 years. The prize council said: “Dr. Harvey and his group give an excellent example of the application of scientific methods to solve a specific problem, following the issue for more than 10 years until arriving at a plausible, yet stunning result, which not only answers a major puzzle in groundwater hydrology, but which more generally demonstrates that complex natural systems can be understood.”
November 15, 2012
Jesse Kroll, assistant professor of civil and environmental engineering and chemical engineering, received the Kenneth T. Whitby Award from the American Association for Aerosol Research during the organization’s annual meeting Oct. 10, in Minneapolis. Nominators said of Kroll’s work: “His recent paper in Nature Chemistry (2011) entitled ‘Carbon oxidation state as a metric for describing the chemistry of atmospheric organic aerosol’ will soon be considered a classic … his work has introduced new paradigms.” “His experience in atmospheric chemistry is broad and diverse, ranging from very fundamental laboratory studies of oxidation chemistry to field measurements of aerosol composition.” “He will be a leader among the young generation of aerosol scientists and atmospheric chemists.”
November 9, 2012
Oceanographers have long assumed that because turbulence distributes nutrients uniformly in ocean water, and because the ability of tiny organisms to move around is insignificant compared to this turbulence, there was no reason for ocean bacteria to move at all. Sea-dwelling bacterial life, they believed, should consist just of static feeders. That view has now been upended by research conducted by Professor Roman Stocker and John R. Taylor, a former postdoctoral associate. It turns out that swimmers and passive feeders each have some advantages — but also pay some costs — in food gathering. The results, based on a computer model that for the first time considers nutrient competition by bacteria in a turbulent flow, were published in the Nov. 2 issue of Science, along with a review article by Stocker about ocean microbes interactions with their environment. Read the news story.
November 8, 2012
Researchers in MIT’s Concrete Sustainability Hub are making steady progress toward learning exactly how the cement paste that works as glue in concrete hardens during the first hours after water and cement powder are mixed. First they determined that cement paste can be described as a granular aggregate, where the particles or basic nanoscale units pack together most densely when arranged orderly. A few years later they discovered that the calcium-silicate-hydrate (C-S-H) molecules that make up the basic nanoscale unit of cement have a disorderly geometric arrangement, rather than the orderly crystalline structure scientists had long assumed. In new work, they found that the size of C-S-H particles themselves is also somewhat disorderly. The particles form at random sizes, not in homogenous spheres, and the diversity in particle size leads to a denser, disorderly packing of the particles, which corresponds to stronger cement paste. A paper by CEE postdoctoral associate Enrico Masoero, Professor Franz-Josef Ulm, senior research scientist Roland Pellenq and co-authors appeared in the Oct. 12 issue of Physical Review Letters. Read the news story.
November 8, 2012
New research by Professor Markus Buehler and doctoral student Zhao Qin on the fracture mechanism of ice shows that ice cracks more easily when exposed to carbon dioxide. Using a series of atomistic-level computer simulations to analyze the dynamics of molecules, they found that carbon dioxide forms hydrogen bonds with ice at a crack boundary, then breaks those bonds as it moves toward the tip of the crack. When bonds break near the crack tip, the energy released weakens the ice and makes it more apt to fracture. The research could be used to study ice fracture in other chemical environments or even be scaled up and incorporated into models of glacier dynamics. A paper on this work appeared in the Oct. 11 issue of the Journal of Physics D: Applied Physics.
November 6, 2012
About 80 of CEE’s Parsons Lab members, friends and families wielded knives Friday evening, Oct. 26, during the annual Halloween party and pumpkin carving contest. This year’s winner was a set of five pumpkins carved with an under-the-sea theme spearheaded by graduate student Alison Hoyt. Hoyt and friend carved two pumpkins: an octopus and kelp. Other members of the winning team were graduate students Dave Whittleston (skeleton fish), Mason Stahl and friend (seahorse) and Jane Chui (seashell). Postdoctoral associates Eben Cross and Melissa Garren — appropriately wigged out — judged the 40 pumpkins. The winning pumpkins are shown in photo 36, and the judges in photo 7 of the photo album (by Ruby Fu) on Facebook.
November 1, 2012
Reporter Martha Spizziri writes in the Engineering News Record Oct. 15: “Fuel economy has been largely the province of automakers and government initiatives, such as Corporate Average Fuel Economy standards. However, scientists at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology are looking at ways to boost fuel efficiency and cut greenhouse-gas emissions by building better roads. Pavement design can play an important role in fuel economy, researchers say.” The story looks at work by doctoral student Mehdi Akbarian and Professor Franz-Josef Ulm funded by the MIT Concrete Sustainability Hub.
Encouraging teens to learn about civil and environmental engineering, Stocker participates in Ask An Engineer
October 31, 2012
Professor Roman Stocker answered a question posed by 14-year-old Rahul of Cambridge on the School of Engineering’s Ask an Engineer web page: How can middle school students learn about civil engineering? “'Civil engineering was born as engineering to serve society, and almost everything you see has a connection with it,' Stocker says. The best preparation for becoming a civil engineer is to heed his simple advice: 'Always be curious about the world around you.'”
October 30, 2012
Senior lecturer Susan Murcott's new book, Arsenic Contamination in the World: An International Sourcebook (IWA Publishing, 2012), details arsenic contamination by source and region in 105 countries and territories, representing a larger database than any previously published work. Murcott's research focuses on sustainable methods for providing clean drinking water and better sanitation in the developing world, and involves a number of CEE Master of Engineering students.
October 25, 2012
CEE is the focus of the MIT Homepage today, Oct. 25. The feature includes a story written by David Chandler of the MIT News Office and a slideshow of photos by Stuart Darsch and M. Scott Brauer. Chandler describes the department's focus on understanding natural and man-made systems and their interactions; the recent evolution of the department's undergraduate curriculum; student involvement in extracurricular activities; and the six domains into which faculty, graduate student and postdoctoral research fit. Many of the department's students, faculty and researchers appear in the slideshow.
September 27, 2012
Through a strategic planning process, CEE’s faculty has identified six overlapping, cross-disciplinary areas that support the department’s mission and frame the major directions for future research: Smarter Cities, Ecosystems, Coastal Zone, Water and Energy Resources, Chemicals in the Environment, and Materials. The strategic report, CEE Looking Forward, highlights CEE’s research strengths in each area, with examples of projects and their impacts, and offers a prospectus on future opportunities.
September 20, 2012
Two postdoctoral researchers in Professor Roman Stocker’s research group received awards Aug. 24 at the International Symposium on Microbial Ecology in Copenhagen. Yutaka Yawata won the Brock Postdoctoral Research Award for his talk, "Mapping Genotypic Diversity Onto Niche Adaptation.”Melissa Garren received the J.W. Costerton Award for research that advances a new theory in microbial ecology that also has interdisciplinary significance. Her poster was titled, "The Need for Speed: A Marine Pathogen Uses Rapid Chemotaxis and Chemokinesis to Target its Host."
September 19, 2012
In July, Professor Carolina Osorio received the prestigious Association of European Operational Research Societies (EURO) Doctoral Dissertation Award for her thesis, "Mitigating Network Congestion: Analytical Models, Optimization Methods and Their Applications." The award recognizes the best thesis from the EURO’s 30 member countries. Osorio joined the CEE faculty in 2010 after receiving her Ph.D. in mathematics from the Ecole Polytechnique Fédérale in Lausanne, Switzerland.
September 18, 2012
All MIT alumni, faculty, staff, students and families are invited to participate in the inauguration events Sept. 19-22 a series of three symposia scheduled for Wednesday, Thursday and Friday; the inauguration ceremony for President Rafael Reif on Friday afternoon; and the community festival on Saturday. CEE Professor Charles Harvey will talk about his research in the peat forests of Borneo in the Thursday morning symposium.
September 17, 2012
On Thursday, Sept. 27 researchers in the Concrete Sustainability Hub will present their latest research findings at a symposium titled, “Research With An I4 Sustainable Change: Invest, Innovate, Invigorate and Implement,” to be held in Kresge Auditorium from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. Members of the MIT CEE community can attend the event free of charge, but advance registration is required. The deadline for registering is Friday, Sept. 21.
September 13, 2012
CEE will hold the inaugural Chiang C. Mei Lecture in Applied Mechanics on Wednesday, Oct. 3 from 4 to 5:30 p.m. in Lecture Hall E14-633. The speaker will be Julian Hunt, Professor of Climate Modeling in the Department of Space and Climate Physics and Department of Earth Sciences at University College London. Hunt’s talk is titled, Fluid Mechanics and Public Policy: Environmental Impacts and Change. Hunt says, “More technical progress with great social beneﬁts should be possible through greater collaboration between ﬂuid mechanics and other areas of science and technology ... But the greatest progress … will come from recognizing that new approaches are needed, since the future environment will have many features that differ from those in the past.”
September 12, 2012
In mid-August, Professor Markus Buehler was a guest on NPR’s On Point program on a show called "The Amazing World of Spiders." Buehler's research on the mechanical properties of spider silk placed him in a good position to provide commentary on what he calls the "amazing properties of spider silk and spider webs" and how and understanding of them can be used to design new materials. Buehler and his work on spider silk were also the topic of a news story and video on the MIT' Industrial Liaison Program's website in August.
September 11, 2012
A research paper, "Capillary Fracturing in Granular Media," by former postdoctoral associate Ran Holtzman, graduate student Michael Szulczewski and Professor Ruben Juanes published in the June 28 issue of Physical Review Letters was subsequently highlighted in Physics, an online publication of the American Physical Society that presents physics research to a broad audience. The topic of the paper, capillary fracturing, is related to the extraction of oil from the deep seas, CO2 sequestration and fracking.
September 7, 2012
Competition is a strong driving force of evolution for organisms of all sizes; those individuals best equipped to obtain resources adapt and reproduce, while others may fall by the wayside. Many organisms also form cooperative social structures that allow resources to be defended and shared within a population. Surprisingly, even microbes have a somewhat sophisticated social structure that relies on cooperation, according to Professor Martin Polz and postdoctoral associate Otto Cordero. These researchers recently found evidence that some ocean microbes wield chemical weapons — antibiotics — that are harmless to close relatives within their own population, but deadly to outsiders. Three CEE undergrads are co-authors on the paper. Read news release.
September 6, 2012
This fall, William "Mack" Durham S.M. '07, Ph.D. '12, who worked with Professor Roman Stocker, will receive the 2012 American Physical Society/Division of Fluid Dynamics' (APS/DFD) Andreas Acrivos Dissertation Award for the best thesis in fluid dynamics. Durham, now a research lecturer at Oxford University, will give the Acrivos Award Lecture during the APS/DFD annual meeting Nov. 18-20 in San Diego. His thesis is titled "Phytoplankton in Flow."
September 5, 2012
Professor Emeritus Robert J. Hansen Sc.D. ’48, whose Cold War research in atomic-bomb-resistant structures helped lay the foundation for the field of structural dynamics, has died at age 91. He was on the CEE faculty for 27 years from 1948 until his retirement in 1975. Read an obituary.
September 4, 2012
For his article in Technology Review, "Can Fracking Be Cleaned Up?" reporter Kevin Bullis asked Professor Franz-Josef Ulm how the quality of cement used in natural gas wells might affect aquifer contamination due to fracking. "Whenever there was a gas leakage, it came out because the cement was not well done ... When it comes to cementing, the solutions are out there. The question is whether they are being applied," Ulm says.
August 31, 2012
The MIT Steel Bridge Team placed second at the 2012 National Steel Bridge Competition, out-engineering 45 other teams that had been winnowed from 200 in regional contests. The University of California, Berkeley, took first place at the event, which was held Memorial Day weekend at Clemson University. Read a news story. View a slideshow of the team.
August 30, 2012
Research by Professor David Simchi-Levi was the topic of an article in the July 18 issue of the Wall Street Journal. Simchi-Levi surveyed 108 U.S. manufacturing companies, mostly with annual sales over $1 billion, and found that about 14 percent plan to "reshore" or move some of their manufacturing back to U.S. soil. Several things influenced this decision, Simchi-Levi says, including the need to move products from plant to customer more quickly, reduce transportation and warehousing costs, and create jobs back home.
August 29, 2012
As part of their campaign to educate the public on the importance of photosynthesis to all life on the planet, Professor Sallie (Penny) Chisholm and co-author/illustrator Molly Bang have written a second children's book, this time about ocean phytoplankton and their role in feeding life in the sea. The book, "Ocean Sunlight: How Tiny Plants Feed the Seas" (The Blue Sky Press, 2012), was released in May. Their first book together, "Living Sunlight: How Plants Bring the Earth to Life," came out in 2009 (The Blue Sky Press). The books have received an award and starred reviews. Chisholm and Bang plan to collaborate on several more children's science books in the Sunlight Series, each focused on a different aspect of the sun’s role in shaping our planet.
August 24, 2012
This summer, the Eno Center for Transportation, a nonpartisan think-tank in Washington, D.C., honored Frederick Salvucci ’61, S.M. ’62, senior lecturer and senior research associate in CEE, at its annual Eno Leadership Development Conference Fundraising Dinner. Salvucci’s academic career has focused on developing and leading research projects that provide graduate students with hands-on experience improving transportation throughout the world. In addition to his work at MIT, Salvucci served as Massachusetts Secretary of Transportation under Governor Michael Dukakis from 1975 to 1978 and 1983 to 1990, during which time he helped conceptualize and plan Boston's Big Dig. Read news story.
July 30, 2012
MIT is the top-rated civil engineering school in the world according to the QS World released in July. QS also named MIT No. 4 in environmental sciences. The rankings, published by QS — Quacquarelli Symonds Ltd. — examined programs at the top 200 universities. See the ranking.
July 23, 2012
Public health crises of the past decade have heightened awareness that new viruses or bacteria could spread quickly across the globe, aided by air travel. While epidemiologists and scientists who study complex network systems are working to create mathematical models that describe the worldwide spread of disease, to date these models have focused on the final stages of epidemics, examining the locations that ultimately develop the highest infection rates. But a new study by Ruben Juanes, Marta González, Christos Nicolaides and Luis Cueto-Felgueroso shifts the focus to the first few days of an epidemic, determining how likely the 40 largest U.S. airports are to influence the spread of a contagious disease originating in their home cities. Read a news story.
June 29, 2012
Congratulations to the MIT Steel Bridge Team, which took 2nd place at the national competition held May 25-26 at Clemson University! The University of California at Berkeley placed 1st and California Polytechnic State University at San Luis Obispo took 3rd place. See a photo album of the competition on Facebook.
June 28, 2012
Following the MIT Hooding Ceremony the morning of June 7, CEE celebrated its 18 doctoral graduates with a luncheon for grads and their friends and families. Department head Professor Andrew Whittle gave a toast honoring the new alumni and wished them well in their post-MIT years. To see a photo album of the event, go to the CEE Facebook page.
June 28, 2012
On Friday, June 8 CEE graduates gathered with families, friends and faculty, staff and alumni for an afternoon party following MIT’s 146th Commencement exercises. During the 2011-12 academic year, the department awarded 115 degrees: 18 doctorates; 16 Master of Science in Transportation degrees; 17 Master of Science degrees; 34 Master of Engineering degrees; 1 Engineer’s degree and 29 Bachelor of Science degrees (14 in civil engineering, 11 in environmental engineering science, and four undesignated). To see photos from the party, go to the CEE Facebook page.
June 26, 2012
Professor Markus Buehler and doctoral student Steven Cranford are co-authors of a new book, "Biomateriomics," which is part of the Springer Series in Materials Science. The book, which endorses interdisciplinary methods of research, introduces a holistic approach to the study of biological and bioinspired materials from a systems perspective, makes current and new experimental and computational techniques available to a wider community of engineers and scientists, discusses the development of integrated mechanical models and experiments for hierarchical biomaterials, and covers recent advances in understanding of multiscale deformation and failure of biomaterials.
June 22, 2012
Tiffany Cheng '12 was named an American Association of University Women (AAUW) Selected Professions Fellow for the 2012-2013 academic year. This national scholarship provides funding for women entering professional fields like law, medicine and engineering. Cheng will begin studying next fall for a master's in coastal engineering at Oregon State University. She'll be working on a project that is modeling the fate of Oregon's coastal communities under different climate change scenarios.
June 21, 2012
CEE's Matt Orosz Ph.D. '12 was named a 2012 Echoing Green Fellow on June 7, the same day he received his doctoral hood. Echoing Green, a nonprofit organization that provides seed funding for projects that offer solutions to some of the world's social problems, selected Orosz for his work on a sustainable energy project in Lesotho, Africa. With the two-year fellowship, Orosz will continue that work, likely under the aegis of STG International, a nonprofit organization he co-founded with Amy Mueller Ph.D. '12. Both Orosz and Mueller did their graduate research under the direction of Professor Harry Hemond, creating new technology that relies on sunlight to drive a heat engine and produce hot water via an organic Rankine cycle proces. Echoing Green describes this year's 36 fellows as "visionaries with ideas so bold and convictions so strong they could shake the world."
June 6, 2012
Transportation graduate student Naomi Stein was selected to attend the prestigious Eno Leadership Development Conference in Washington, D.C., June 3 to 7. The conference, which focuses on transportation policy and programs, is run by the Eno Center for Transportation, a nonpartisan think tank. Follow Naomi's blog.
May 25, 2012
Graduate student Margaret Wildnauer has been awarded a Structural Engineering Travel Fellowship from the Skidmore, Owings and Merrill Foundation based on her essay and research itinerary for travel. Her research plan is to look at different types of environmentally friendly buildings all over the world, in different climates. Her essay discussed the importance of considering the environment in defining a structure as art, in addition to the three E's — economy, elegance and efficiency — defined by David Billington in his book, "The Tower and the Bridge." Wilnauer plans to look at the Eden Project (England), Mapungubwe Interpretation Centre (South Africa) and the NK'Mip Desert Cultural Center (Vancouver, Canada), among other buildings.
May 24, 2012
Recent CEE graduate Daniel Jimenez ’10, M.Eng. ’11 will head to the Philippines in November as a Fulbright Scholar. “The ultimate goal is to develop construction technologies and methods that are cost efficient, environmentally friendly, utilize local resources and resist natural disasters that afflict the most vulnerable settlements without appropriate infrastructure,” Jimenez said. “With one of the highest annual rates of tropical storms, coupled with one of the highest population growth rates in the world, the Philippines faces economic set-backs caused by natural disasters that hinder the progress of the nation.” Read a news story.
May 23, 2012
Two teams from senior lecturer Susan Murcott’s D-Lab Technology Dissemination class won $7,500 prizes in the MIT IDEAS Global Challenge Competition: OpenIR (see separate news brief) and wecyclers. Wecyclers intends to set up kiosks in the developing world so that people living in places such as Lagos, Nigeria, can exchange recyclable items and materials for clean water, cell phone minutes, and other marketable “goods.”
May 23, 2012
OpenIR, a web application designed to make data accessible after disasters, won a $7,500 prize in this year’s MIT Global Challenge Competition on May 3. The team included CEE and urban studies and planning double major Juhee Bae, a junior who used her experience in community outreach and GIS (geographical information systems) software. By translating satellite data into an easily readable form after a catastrophic event, more people could get vital information such as water depth, size of oil slicks or the extent of fire damage.
May 22, 2012
A new study by Professor Franz-Josef Ulm and Ph.D. student Mehdi Akbarian shows that using stiffer pavements on the nation’s roads could reduce vehicle fuel consumption by as much as 3 percent — a savings that could add up to 273 million barrels of crude oil per year or $15.6 billion, at today’s oil prices, and a decrease in CO2 emissions. Ulm and Akbarian use mathematical modeling to look at the effect of pavement deflection on fuel consumption across the entire U.S. road network, and conclude that because of the way energy is dissipated, the maximum deflection of the load is behind the path of travel, making the tires on the vehicle drive continuously up a slight slope. Read a news release.
May 18, 2012
A School of Engineering award honoring extraordinary teaching and mentoring by a graduate student went this year to CEE’s Chelsea Humbyrd. One nomination letter said: “Though many TAs can boast a mastery of the material they are responsible for teaching, Chelsea Humbyrd is one of the few who combines this mastery with the ability to effectively communicate with students. Chelsea’s consistent, thorough work for the class and her commitment to her students make Chelsea the most effective TA we have encountered in our four years at MIT … More impressive is Chelsea’s ability to connect with students in person. For many students, face-to-face time with a teaching instructor is extremely valuable. She is capable of distilling the essence of any engineering concept and presenting it in a clear, effective manner to a large group of students.” Read a news story.
May 18, 2012
Lorna Omondi, 1C senior, received the Leo (Class of 1924) and Mary Grossman Award, given to an undergraduate who has a strong academic record and interest in transportation. After graduation, Lorna will work at Charles River Associates in Boston. In making the award announcement, Professor Andrew Whittle said, “Lorna also plans to be president of Kenya one day, and we have no doubt she will succeed.”
May 18, 2012
Long-time lecturer Lisa O’Donnell was honored with the CEE Excellence in Academic Service Award for her work with M.Eng. students on their projects in high-performance structures and geotechnical projects, and with Course 1 seniors on their capstone projects. Nominations include the following comments: “While many other professors gave us the tools we needed to succeed, it was Lisa who showed us how to put them all together and become engineers.” “Having Ms. O’Donnell meet with us on a weekly basis to help guide our design projects was a privilege. She had very insightful opinions which allowed our design group to make a very creative and interesting structure.” “Lisa was a great mentor … She not only brought valuable experience to our discussions, but she was also a kind and understanding guide who helped me manage my stress level as I navigated the turmoil of MIT’s curriculum.”
May 18, 2012
Senior Tzipora Wagner received the Paul L. Busch (1958) Prize, which is awarded to an undergraduate student in environmental engineering science for academic achievement and contributions to the CEE community. A nominator described Wagner as a “vibrant individual who brings joy, passion, and excellence to her academic, extracurricular and research activities.”
May 18, 2012
The Tucker-Voss Award was established in memory of Professor Ross F. Tucker and Professor Walter C. Voss, the first two heads of the Department of Building Construction (Course 17), which merged with the Department of Civil Engineering in the 1950s. The award is given to a student who shows particular promise in the field of building construction. This year, M.Eng. student Brooke Goodman received the award. Goodman’s thesis title is, “An Analysis of Bridge Design Competitions: Are They Effective at Producing a Better Bridge for the Public?”
May 18, 2012
The Trond Kaalstad (Class of 1957) Fellowship was awarded to doctoral student Zenzie Brooks. The award is named for a long-time administrative officer of CEE and recognizes graduate students who display leadership and/or contribute significantly to the well being of the CEE community. One nominator said of Brooks, “In her role as a teaching assistant, she provides guidance and help in a low key and very supportive manner. She has extraordinary organizational abilities, making the life of students and instructors much easier.”
May 18, 2012
The Maseeh Award for Excellence as a Teaching Assistant went to Rory Clune, teaching assistant for 1.035 Mechanics I of Structures and Soils. One of his nominators said that Clune “cared deeply about his mission and dedication to the students, and was also supremely effective as a recitation instructor, grading homework and quizzes, and as a lab assistant. … Friendly and laid back by nature, but also having an unusual technical and mathematical talent himself, he was able to reach down to their level of understanding, never expecting them to know what he knew, or insinuating that the material was in any way obvious.”
May 18, 2012
Professor Roman Stocker was recognized with the Maseeh Award for Excellence in Teaching. One nominator said of Stocker, “It is with great pleasure that I nominate Professor Stocker for the Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering Maseeh Excellence in Teaching Award. Without question, the best teacher I’ve had yet at MIT. Thank you for making learning seem so effortless. Your lectures were a pleasure every day, your attention to detail really impressive, and your organization … well, I just wish that every teacher I’ve ever had was as precise and organized as you are.” Another said, “In addition to making the material compelling in the traditional classroom and lab settings, he has carefully put together a series of relevant field trips for the class. These trips are essential for connecting the work done in CEE to that done in the real world.”
May 18, 2012
The Ruth and Joel Spira Awards for Excellence in Teaching rotates among five engineering departments at MIT. This year’s award went to CEE’s Professor Heidi Nepf. One of many letters of nomination said: “Professor Nepf is an outstanding instructor. She is so knowledgeable and her focus as a professor is to make sure everyone in the class understands the material and puts it into long term memory. She makes it easy to do well by having students practice problems and critical thinking throughout lecture. She is extremely engaging and truly cares about how well her students are doing. She is by far the best professor I’ve had at MIT and I wish she taught more undergraduate classes; I would take them all.”
May 17, 2012
Ph.D. student Zhao Qin recently received a scholarship award from the Chinese government’s China Scholarship Council designated to encourage research excellence and recognize the academic achievements of Chinese students studying abroad. Qin works on the computational modeling of protein material in Professor Markus Buehler’s Laboratory for Atomistic and Molecular Mechanics. He is particularly focused on using molecular simulation to study, at multiple scales, the fundamental mechanisms of human genetic diseases such as progeria syndrome, which causes rapid aging and premature death in children. Read a news release on Qin's work.
Theta Delta Chi alumni chair and Course 1 sophomore Alexis Ludena accepts MIT's D. Reid Weedon Award
May 15, 2012
CEE sophomore Alexis Ludena, alumni relations chair for Theta Delta Chi fraternity, accepted the D. Reid Weedon Award for alumni relations on behalf of the fraternity at the May 9 Institute Awards Convocation. Theta Delta Chi's alumni relations activites include sending out a monthly electronic newsletter and holding an annual banquet to keep fraternity brothers from the Class of 1945 to the present in touch. Ludena said the older alumni often mentor new pledges and help them learn the organization’s history.
May 14, 2012
At the Institute Awards Convocation on May 9, Course 1E senior Columbus “Bus” Leonard, the goalie of the MIT water polo team, received the Howard W. Johnson Award for best male senior athlete. Leonard was also named honorable mention All-American in the sport by the National Collegiate Athletic Association. “Athletics was a place where I made amazing friendships and continued to compete playing a sport that I love,” Leonard said. "I've loved the coursework, professors and research exposure that I've had in CEE and couldn't feel more prepared by the department to think critically as I move outside of MIT."
May 11, 2012
Professor Sallie W. (Penny) Chisholm of CEE and biology and Professor John Cullen of Dalhousie University will receive the American Society for Limnology and Oceanography's Ruth Patrick Award — which honors research in basic aquatic science that helps identify, analyze and/or solve environmental problems — for their "significant contributions to the global community in their foresight and effective efforts in addressing the environmental impacts of ocean iron fertilization," the citation said. Shortly after the idea surfaced in 1988 of using iron fertilization to prompt the growth of phytoplankton which might serve as a CO2 sink, Chisholm and Cullen co-chaired an international symposium to foster discussion on this topic among scientists. The conference ended with a resolution that, because of the potential damage that could result from such a large-scale experiment, iron fertilization should not be viewed as a method for solving the CO2 emissions problem. Chisholm and Cullen went on to write several influential articles on the science and policy dimensions of ocean fertilization.
May 10, 2012
In two papers appearing in March issues of the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, Professor Roman Stocker and co-authors explore how the environment influences the movements of marine plankton. In “Low-Reynolds-Number Swimming at Pycnoclines” (layers of ocean water where density increases sharply with depth), the researchers describe how buoyancy increases the energy expenditure of motile microbes and stifles their nutrient uptake, but also increases their stealth, making their movements more difficult for predators to detect. In “Bacterial Rheotaxis,” the scientists discovered that a subtle interplay between a flow velocity gradient and the helical shape of a bacterium’s flagella generates a torque that alters the bacterium’s swimming direction, driving it off course in a microscale version of a baseball pitcher’s curveball.
May 9, 2012
As MIT began the selection process for its 17th president, CEE senior Kimberly Sparling — former Panhel president and a veteran of several campus committees — was one of three undergraduates chosen by the Undergraduate Association to serve on the six-member MIT Presidential Search Student Advisory Committee. Before presenting a report to the Trustee Presidential Search Committee, the Student Advisory Committee formed a task force to solicit student opinions about qualities desired in the next president and suggest specific candidates. “Students have a unique perspective as stakeholders in this process because MIT is our home, while for faculty, staff and administrators, MIT is a place of work or research,” Sparling said. Read a news story.
May 8, 2012
On April 13, CEE junior Jonté Craighead was elected president of the MIT Undergraduate Association (UA) for the 2012-13 academic year. He and vice president Michael Walsh (Course 8) will be the first officers in the restructured UA and probably the first to work with the incoming MIT president. “The multidisciplinary, systems-thinking approach to problem solving that I’ve developed in Course 1 will serve us well as we work to drive change for students at MIT,” said Craighead. Read a news story.
May 7, 2012
In recognition of their outstanding academic achievement, CEE seniors Michael Chen and Tzipora Wagner have been elected to Phi Beta Kappa, the nation's oldest honor society. Students are selected by a faculty committee that reviews the academic records of seniors to identify those with excellent grades and extensive coursework in the liberal arts. The MIT chapter of Phi Beta Kappa will hold its annual lecture and initiation ceremony on June 7.
May 1, 2012
At the School of Engineering’s 12th annual Infinite Mile Awards ceremony on April 11, CEE administrative officer Patricia Dixon received the Infinite Mile Award for Diversity and Community and research engineer John MacFarlane received an Infinite Mile Award for Excellence. Dixon is celebrating her 40th year as a staff member in CEE; MacFarlane celebrates 25 years at Parsons Laboratory. Both were praised for their enthusiasm and their commitment to helping CEE students and faculty.
April 27, 2012
Doctoral student Amer Deirieh was selected by the MIT Global Fellows Program to attend a workshop about research collaborations held March 26-30 at the Imperial College London. Deirieh works with Professor Franz Ulm.
April 26, 2012
The MIT chapter of the civil engineering honor society, Chi Epsilon, welcomed nine new initiates at its banquet held April 23 at the MIT Faculty Club. The CEE students joining the honor society are juniors Talal Al-Mulla, Rebecca Hawton, Di Jin, Anna Falvello Tomas and Jibo Wen, and seniors Tiffany Cheng, Julia Hopkins, Elizabeth Jones and Reece Otsuka.
April 23, 2012
U.S. News & World Report recently placed Civil Engineer at No. 6 in its Best Technology Jobs rankings and No. 26 in all Best Jobs of 2012, based on the industry employment rate and expected job growth rate, average salary and a quantitative assessment of job satisfaction. To find out what it takes to become a civil engineer, visit the CEE Prospective Students page.
April 18, 2012
Professor Oral Buyukozturk and graduate student Justin Chen received an ASNT (American Society For Nondestructive Testing) Fellowship Award for their research on “Remote Detection of Damage in FRP-Retrofitted Concrete Structures Using Acoustic-Laser Vibrometry.” The cash award funds research in nondestructive testing at the postgraduate level. ASNT president Ricky L. Morgan presented the award on Oct. 26, 2011 at a special ceremony during the ASNT Fall Conference in Palm Springs, Calif.
April 17, 2012
Professor Markus Buehler was recently honored by three national societies. Last fall, the Applied Mechanics Division of the American Society of Mechanical Engineers awarded him the Thomas J.R. Hughes Young Investigator Award. In January, the Society of Engineering Science awarded him the Young Investigator Medal. And on April 11, the Materials Research Society (MRS) presented him with the Outstanding Young Investigator Award, recognizing his “innovative and creative” interdisciplinary research in materials science. Read a news story about the MRS award. Buehler is also the subject of an MIT News profile, "Seeing the Music in Nature: From Spider Webs to Tangled Proteins, Markus Buehler Finds the Connections Between Mathematics, Molecules and Materials."
April 13, 2012
Professor Joseph Sussman gave the DaVinci lecture on "Vertical vs. Horizontal Thinking in Engineering: Engineering Science and Engineering Systems" Thursday, April 12, at the MIT Tau Beta Pi faculty dinner. At the March 12 dinner of the engineering honor society, Professor Ole Madsen gave the DaVinci Lecture on "The Monster," a 10-meter long research water tunnel in Singapore.
April 12, 2012
Chemical & Engineering News magazine ran an article about Professor Sallie (Penny) Chisholm in the Feb. 27 issue. In the article, Chisholm talks about the importance of public outreach as a means of improving scientific literacy about photosynthesis, and about her children's books written with co-author and illustrator Molly Bang: "Living Sunlight" (Blue Sky Press, 2009), which focused on photosynthesis; and the soon-to-be-published "Ocean Sunlight" (Blue Sky Press, May 2012), which is about the cyanobacterium Prochlorococcus.
April 11, 2012
April 10, 2012
The Engineering Mechanics Division of the American Society of Civil Engineers has selected Professor Franz-Josef Ulm to receive the 2012 Theodore von Karman Medal, which recognizes distinguished achievements in engineering mechanics. The selection committee chose Ulm for his “contribution to the development of nanomechanics of cement-based materials and theoretical poromechanics,” and noted in particular his contributions to the field of construction engineering, petroleum engineering and rock mechanics, and biomechanics. Ulm will receive the award during the Engineering Mechanics Institute’s 2012 conference, June 17-20, in Notre Dame, Ind.
April 5, 2012
Bacteria adapt to habitats through random genetic mutations and gene exchange. But how does an advantageous mutation spread from a bacterium to a population? Does the gene sweep through a population or does an individual bacterium obtain the gene, then replicate its genome many times to form a new and better-adapted population? Researchers including CEE Professors Eric Alm and Martin Polz and MIT alumnus Jesse Shapiro ’10 show that genes can sweep through populations on their own, indicating that the process of evolution in bacteria is very similar to that of sexual eukaryotes. Read a news release.
April 2, 2012
The 2012 MIT Steel Bridge Team placed second this year at the regional competition held March 30-31 at the University of Massachusetts, Amherst. The team took 1st place in the Paper Competition (thanks to 1E senior Scott Landers!), and in the categories of Construction Speed, Stiffness, and Efficiency. The national competition will be held at Clemson University May 25-26. MIT has been competing in the Regional and National Student Steel Bridge Competition sponsored by the American Society of Civil Engineers and the American Institute of Steel Construction since 2007.
April 2, 2012
At a remote village in Rwanda, a clinic faced chronic shortages of water during the nation’s twice-yearly dry seasons. Collecting rainwater during the rainy periods was the obvious answer, but figuring out how to do so safely and economically was not a trivial problem. CEE Senior Lecturer Peter Shanahan and alumnus Kelly Doyle S.M. ’08 studied the problem and offer some answers in a paper published in the February issue of the Journal of Water, Sanitation and Hygiene for Development. Read a news story.
March 27, 2012
Looking for the simplest 3-D structure that could use mechanical instability to collapse reversibly, CEE Professor Pedro Reis, alumnus Jongmin Shim and co-authors created the buckliball, a hollow, spherical object made of soft rubber containing no moving parts, but fashioned with 24 carefully spaced dimples. When the buckliball is compressed, the thin ligaments forming columns between lateral dimples collapse — the engineering equivalent of applying equal load on all beams simultaneously to induce buckling. Read a news story.
March 26, 2012
A new study by CEE Professor Ruben Juanes and graduate students Christopher MacMinn Ph.D. ’12 and Michael Szulczewski shows that there is enough capacity in deep saline aquifers in the United States to store at least a century’s worth of carbon dioxide emissions from the nation’s coal-fired powerplants. Though questions remain about the economics of systems to capture and store such gases, this study addresses a major issue that has overshadowed such proposals. It is the cover story of the April 3 issue of the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. Read a news story.
March 1, 2012
Longtime CEE Professor Robert V. Whitman S.M. ’49, Sc.D. ’51, died February 25 at age 84. A world-renowned geotechnical engineer and expert on earthquakes, he was with CEE from 1948 until his retirement in 1993, except for two years spent in military service. He remained an active member of the MIT community for many more years as a professor emeritus. Whitman is survived by his wife of 57 years, Betsy, two daughters and four grandchildren. Another daughter predeceased him. A memorial service will be held at 1 p.m., March 1, at the Church of Our Redeemer in Lexington. Donations may be made in his memory to Citizens for Lexington Conservation Inc., P.O. Box 292, Lexington, MA 02420-0003 or to the Chebeague and Cumberland Land Trust. Read a news release.
February 28, 2012
For more than half a century, people interested in modeling the movement of people and goods between cities, states or countries have relied on a statistical formula called the gravity law, which measures the “attraction” between two places. Though widely used, the gravity model isn’t very accurate in making predictions. Now CEE Professor Marta González and researchers from Northeastern University and the University of Padua have identified an underlying flaw in the gravity model: The distance between two cities is far less important than the population size in the area surrounding them. The team created a new model that takes human motives into account and in five types of mobility studies the new model’s predictions were far more accurate than the gravity model’s. Read a news release.
February 16, 2012
February 8, 2012
This Friday, 23 CEE speakers will share their research stories in five-minute soundbite presentations beginning at 1 p.m. in Bartos Theater (E15). The event will be followed by a reception from 5-7 p.m. Everyone in MIT CEE — undergrads, grad students, postdocs, faculty, staff, researchers, lecturers — is encouraged to attend all or a portion of the event, which offers a great opportunity to sample the diversity of research pursued by the MIT CEE community. More information.
February 7, 2012
Professor Hamlin Jennings, executive director of the Concrete Sustainability Hub (CSH), tells reporter Tudor Van Hampton of Engineering News Record that developing an understanding of the microstructure in concrete is yielding new ways to manipulate the material. Professor Franz-Josef Ulm explains that one of the goals of CSH research is to "unleash the innovation potential of sustainable development." Read the full story.
February 6, 2012
Professor Dara Entekhabi was the Robert E. Horton Lecturer in Hydrology at the 2012 meeting of the American Meteorological Society (AMS). The citation for the selection reads: "For innovative and insightful contributions in hydroclimatology and its role in regional and global climate, and for pioneering achievements in the remote sensing of the hydrosphere." Entekhabi delivered the lecture, "Use of Remote Sensing Data to Diagnose the Closure Relationship Between Landsurface Water and Energy Balance," Jan. 25, with an introduction from AMS president, Dr. Louis Uccellini.
February 2, 2012
The silk that spiders use to build their webs, trap their prey and dangle from your ceiling is one of the strongest materials known. But it turns out it’s not simply the material’s exceptional strength that makes spider webs so resilient; it’s the material’s unusual combination of strength and stretchiness — silk’s characteristic way of first softening and then stiffening when pulled. These properties, scientists have found, vary depending on the forces applied, as well as on the overall design of the web. Professor Markus Buehler, graduate students Steven Cranford and Anna Tarakanova, and Nicola Pugno of the Politecnico di Torino in Italy find evidence of the key properties that make webs so resilient and relate those properties back to the molecular structure of silk fibers. Read a news release.
January 31, 2012
An essay by M.S.T student Dianne Kamfonik was one of 13 selected for publication in the Jan. 6 issue of Science in the NextGenVoices section. Science solicited essays that addressed the question "How will the practice of science change in your lifetime?" and printed the 13 top submissions in their entirety. Three other MIT students' essays were among the top 50. Kamfonik's essay begins: "Science is becoming increasingly accessible to minorities, women, and people from a variety of cultural and socioeconomic backgrounds. Since more people are now being exposed to science, I predict that the speed and significance of scientific advancements will increase dramatically over the next 100 years."
January 31, 2012
Senior Tiffany Cheng (1E) has been awarded a scholarship from the Rhode Island Consulting Engineers (RICE). RICE is a nonprofit professional organization representing independent consulting engineering firms. RICE awards three scholarships each year to undergradaute students based on academic achievement and extracurricular and community activities. CEE reported earlier this month that 1E senior Scott Landers is also a RICE scholarship winner.
January 26, 2012
CEE researchers Professor Sallie (Penny) Chisholm and postdoctoral associate Qinglu Zeng have discovered that certain photosynthetic ocean bacteria need to beware of viruses bearing gifts. These viruses are really con artists carrying genetic material taken from their previous bacterial hosts that tricks the new host into using its own machinery to activate the genes, a process never before documented in any virus-bacteria relationship. The con occurs when a grifter virus injects its DNA into a bacterium living in a phosphorus-starved region of the ocean. Read a news release.
January 23, 2012
Fourteen undergrads, seven advisors, two weeks, one active volcano. Follow the story of TREX 2012 by reading the undergrads' blog about their time on the big island of Hawaii studying the Kilauea volcano and cloud-fed bogs. Read and subscribe to this blog.
January 23, 2012
Graduate student Kevin Muhs will attend The Transportation Research Board's Annual Meeting (known as TRB) in Washington, D.C., along with many other CEE graduate students, faculty and lecturers and about 10,000 other people from around the globe. Read and subscribe to Kevin's blog.
January 12, 2012
M.Eng. student Adam Questad and his teammates Connie Lu, Matthew Miller and Weini Qiu on Ghana-4S are spending IAP in Tamale, Ghana, working on small-scale drinking water and sanitation systems with the nonprofit company Pure Home Water. Adam is the primary blogger with guest posts by his fellow graduate students. Read and subscribe to this blog.
January 12, 2012
The LIS Solutions team of four M.Eng students is spending January working with the Singapore Public Utility Board (PUB) to measure and find ways of controlling bacterial pollution in surface waters of a reservoir that the PUB hopes to open for recreational activities. Team members Laurie Kellndorfer, Shobhna Kondepudi and Suejung Shin will take turns blogging about their experiences while working on four projects focused on the storm-water system, groundwater and surface water in the Kranji catchment. Read and subscribe to this blog.
January 10, 2012
Senior Scott Landers (1E) has been awarded scholarships from the Rhode Island Consulting Engineers (RICE) and the New England Water Environment Association (NEWEA). RICE is a nonprofit professional organization representing independent consulting engineering firms. RICE awards three scholarships each year to undergradaute students based on academic achievement and extracurricular and community activities. The NEWEA scholarships were established to advance students' water environment protection skills, and enhance their performance as environmental professionals.
January 10, 2012
NPR's "Morning Edition" interviewed Professor Pedro Reis in late December, asking him about the work of a French physicist who used the size and shape of tree branches to explain Leonardo's rule. NPR also posted Reis's own video describing why book pages flap in the wind, making a clapping sound. Listen to or read the interview and see Reis's clapping book video.
January 9, 2012
An image by graduate student Birendra Jha was selected to appear on "Back Scatter," the back cover of Physics Today, in the January 2012 issue. The image, which also appeared last fall in Wired-UK and Discover magazine, illustrates the mixing of two fluids of different viscosities by "viscous fingering." A similar image by Jha also has been selected to appear in the "Kaleidoscope" section of an upcoming issue of Physical Review E. A paper on the research associated with the image by Professor Ruben Juanes, postdoctoral associate Luis Cueto-Felgueroso and graduate students Jha and Michael Szulczewski appeared in a May issue of Physical Review Letters (PRL). Read a news release about the PRL paper.
January 3, 2012
An image from a Dec. 8, 2011 Nature paper authored by graduate students Chris Smillie, Mark Smith and Jonathan Friedman, postdoctoral associate Otto Cordero, alumnus Lawrence David Ph.D. '11 and Professor Eric Alm appears in a Wired News article as one of 10 outstanding research graphics. "The graphic ... represents the first attempt to measure gene flow between bacteria around the world, as organized by ecological niche and with an eye towards antibiotic resistance — something that's flowing out of farms at alarming rates," wrote Brandon Keim in Wired. Read the Wired article. Read a news story about the Nature paper.
January 3, 2012
Doctoral student Hamed Alemohammad — who works with Professors Dara Entekhabi and Dennis McLaughlin to combine different types of satellite-derived rainfall data in order to improve the accuracy of rainstorm estimation models — has been selected as one of two student representatives serving on the Global Environmental Change Focus Group (GEC) of the American Geophysical Union (AGU). The GEC was established to promote the aims and activities of the AGU across scientific disciplines dealing with the broad issue of global environmental change. The two student representatives and the executive committee of the GEC will establish a GEC student organization to encourage more student participation in the study of global environmental change.
January 3, 2012
As the world’s population continues to expand, our natural resources will become increasingly strained. In an effort to find sustainable solutions for the planet’s growing population while minimizing environmental impacts, MIT’s Environmental Research Council (ERC) — led by CEE Professor Dara Entekhabi — has put forward a detailed implementation plan to establish a Global Environmental Initiative to complement the MIT Energy Initiative (MITEI). The interdisciplinary, faculty-led council presented the plan to the MIT community Dec. 15 in a forum held in the Stata Center. Council members outlined an initiative that would bring together MIT’s core strengths to help solve the world’s pressing environmental challenges, from mitigating climate change to curbing contamination and maintaining fresh water supplies. Speakers included CEE Professors Eric Alm, Sallie (Penny) Chisholm, Entekhabi and Philip Gschwend. Read a news story.
January 3, 2012
Samar Malek, a Ph.D. candidate in CEE, was named the 2012 Marshall Sherfield Fellow. The fellowship is awarded to one American scientist or engineer annually by the Marshall Aid Commemoration Commission, allowing the recipient to undertake postdoctoral research for one to two years at a British university as a commemoration of the Marshall Plan. Malek, who is currently completing her dissertation under the tutelage of Associate Professor John Ochsendorf, will conduct research at the University of Bath with Professor Chris Williams, the world expert on the mechanics of grid shells. She will join the research group that specializes in the production of computer software for the geometrical definition and structural analysis of complex forms. Read a news story.
CEE postdoc finds that pulling CO2 from the air would not be cost-effective in the foreseeable future
January 3, 2012
Since most of the world’s governments have not yet enacted regulations to curb emissions of greenhouse gases, some experts have advocated the development of technologies to remove carbon dioxide directly from the air. But a new MIT study co-authored by CEE postdoc Kurt Zenz House (who works in Professor Charles Harvey's lab) shows that, at least for the foreseeable future, such proposals are not realistic because their costs would vastly exceed those of blocking emissions right at the source, such as at the powerplants that burn fossil fuels. Read a news story.
January 3, 2012
While people often say that the Internet has flattened the world allowing social networks to spring up overnight, independent of geography or socioeconomic status, new research suggests otherwise. Professor Marta González and graduate student Jameson Toole studied the "contagion process" of the microblogging platform and website Twitter from 2006 to 2009 and say that the site’s growth in the United States actually relied primarily on media attention and traditional social networks based on geographic proximity and socioeconomic similarity. In other words, at least during those early years, birds of a feather flocked — and tweeted — together. Read a news story.
December 12, 2011
Hip-hop superstar GZA (Gary Grice), founding member of the Wu-Tang Clan (no relation to GZA Geoenvironmental, Inc., founded by Donald Goldberg ’54, SM ‘55 and Bill Zoino ’54, SM ’55), recently visited MIT and Harvard labs to discuss a variety of scientific topics, and gave a talk at Harvard. Because his forthcoming album concerns the oceans, GZA met with Professor Penny Chisholm, an expert in the ocean microbe Prochlorococcus, the most abundant photosynthetic organism on Earth. “We really enjoyed showing GZA around, learning about his creative process, and sharing our enthusiasm about ocean microbes,” said Chisholm. Read a news story about the visit and see more pictures at GZA's Facebook Fan Page.
December 8, 2011
Recognizing that the future is uncertain, project teams can create flexible designs for buildings and systems that can be adapted to meet a variety of needs. “Flexibility in Engineering Design” (MIT Press, September 2011) by Professor Richard de Neufville and Stefan Scholtes of the University of Cambridge describes methods to identify, select and implement useful flexibility in design. It provides an overview of how flexibility in design delivers increased value, takes advantage of new opportunities and avoids harmful losses. De Neufville teaches an MIT subject in flexible design.
December 8, 2011
An image by doctoral student Birendra Jha appeared in the October 2011 issue of Wired-UK magazine and the September 2011 issue of Discover magazine. The image was taken from a computer simulation of viscous fingering, which Jha and co-authors used to show the mixing of two liquids when a low-viscosity fluid is injected into a higher-viscosity fluid in a confined space, such as a microfluidics device or an oil reservoir. Professor Ruben Juanes, postdoctoral associate Luis Cueto-Felgueroso and graduate students Jha and Michael Szulczewski co-authored a paper on the subject that appeared in a May issue of Physical Review Letters. Read a news release.
December 8, 2011
Using a new mathematical methodology, Professor Markus Buehler, graduate student Tristan Giesa, and mathematics postdoctoral associate David Spivak created a scientifically rigorous analogy showing the similarities between the physical structure of spider silk and the sonic structure of a musical composition, proving that the structure of each relates to its function in an equivalent way. The comparison begins with the primary building blocks of each item and explains that structural patterns are directly related to the functional properties of silk and a melodic riff. Read a news release.
December 2, 2011
Charles “Hank” Spaulding ’51, a devoted alumnus and longtime member of the MIT Corporation, died Thursday, Nov. 24 at age 84. Spaulding worked for many years as a real estate developer and was co-founder of Spaulding & Sly Corporation. He helped establish MIT's Center for Real Estate in 1984 and served as its first director. During CEE’s Millennium Colloquium in March 2000, Spaulding and Harl Aldrich Jr. ’47, Sc.D. ’51 co-chaired the committee that raised funds for the Donald ’50 and Martha Harleman Professorship. Read a news story.
November 29, 2011
In August, the MIT Center for Computational Engineering (CCE) announced that Professor Markus Buehler is now co-director of the center's educational arm — the master's program in Computation for Design and Optimization (CDO) — with Professor Nicolas Hadjiconstantinou of mechanical engineering. Buehler hopes to expand the scope of CCE and the curriculum of the CDO to emphasize the application-driven use of computational tools in research and education. "We anticipate that this will increase the impact that the use of computational methods has in solving important problems in various fields like materials, energy and transportation," Buehler said. "Computation is becoming a critical tool that serves as a third leg next to theory and experiment, and CDO educates new leaders in this field."
November 29, 2011
A paper co-authored by postdoctoral fellow Vitaly Belik, a member of Professor Marta González's research group, was recently published in the first issue (August 2011) of Physical Review X, the journal of the American Physical Society, and featured in the popular German magazine, Focus. The paper, "Natural Human Mobility Patterns and Spatial Spread of Infectious Diseases," traced human mobility patterns and showed their impact on the spread of epidemics, such as SARS and swine flu. Read a press release issued by the Max Planck Society. Read a German-language story in Focus.
November 29, 2011
An image by doctoral candidate Mack Durham won an award in the Gallery of Fluid Motion at the American Physical Society (APS) Division on Fluid Dynamics meeting, held in Baltimore Nov. 20-22. Winners of the Milton van Dyke Award, named after a scientist who was a pioneer in highlighting the aesthetic appeal and scientific usefulness of flow visualization, are selected for their artistic value, scientific content and originality. Durham's fluid mechanics' image, "Division by Fluid Incision: Biofilm Patch Development in Porous Media," was one of three winners selected from 55 entries. The winning entries will be displayed at the annual APS meeting in March 2012 and will appear in the September 2012 issue of Physics of Fluids. Durham and Professor Roman Stocker are now preparing a paper about the work featured in the image.
November 3, 2011
Complex networks as dissimilar in size, age and character as a yeast cell, the World Wide Web, and the airline system of the United States all share a similar underlying structure, said Professor of Northeastern University in an Oct. 26 talk, the first in the DES4 (Distinguished Engineering and Science Speaker Seminar Series). Barabási is known for introducing the concept of scale-free networks in 1999 using the WWW as an example. Read a news story.
Microbes have quick, effective way to exchange genetic information coding for antibiotic resistance, other functions
November 1, 2011
Much as people can exchange information instantaneously in the digital age, bacteria associated with humans and their livestock appear to freely and rapidly exchange genetic material related to human disease and antibiotic resistance through a mechanism called horizontal gene transfer (HGT). In a paper appearing in Nature online Oct. 30, Professor Eric Alm and graduate students Chris Smillie and Mark Smith say they’ve found evidence of a massive network of recent gene exchange connecting bacteria from around the world: 10,000 unique genes flowing via HGT among 2,235 bacterial genomes. Read a news release.
October 21, 2011
MIT and the East Japan Railway Company celebrated the 20th anniversary of the East Japan Railway Company Professorship Oct. 13 with a reception at the MIT Faculty Club. Joseph M. Sussman, the JR East Professor in CEE and the Engineering Systems Division (ESD), has held the chair since its establishment in 1991. Sussman, who is currently serving as interim director of ESD; Mr. Masaki Ogata, executive vice president of JR East; and Professor Claude Canizares, MIT vice president for research and associate provost, spoke at the afternoon celebration.
October 21, 2011
When President Sebastián Piñera of Chile visited campus Friday, Sept. 23 to meet with MIT President Susan Hockfield, tour the Media Lab and address Chilean students in the Boston area, it was CEE Professor Eduardo Kausel who met Piñera at the Media Lab to welcome him. Kausel, a native of Chile, knew Piñera when the president was a student at Harvard University in the 70s. Read an MIT News story about the visit and see additional photos of the visit at the Chilean government website.
October 21, 2011
On Sept. 6, doctoral candidate Sergio Herrero was awarded the 2011 Dr. Mikio Shoji Award for Innovation in Information Technology. The award is named for Mikio Shoji, a longtime corporate supporter of CEE research who flew in from Tokyo to present the award to Herrero. During the ceremony in the Spofford Room, CEE department head Professor Andrew Whittle presented to Shoji a plaque commemorating the occasion. Also attending the ceremony were students of the MIT Geospatial Data Center (GDC) and other MIT researchers, including Abel Sanchez, deputy director of MIT GDC; Professor John Williams, Herrero’s research advisor; Professor Jerry Connor and Professor Emeritus Bob Logcher.
Research by Professor John Williams and graduate student Sergio Herrero-Lopez will improve IT networks
October 7, 2011
CEE graduate student Sergio Herrero-Lopez, Professor John Williams and research scientist Abel Sanchez of the Laboratory for Manufacturing and Productivity presented work at the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers’ (IEEE) Cluster conference, held Sept. 26-30 in Austin, Texas, that will help datacenter operators predict the consequences of adding new hardware configurations, software applications or other network changes without affecting service. An article on the MIT News site says it "may well be the most sophisticated computer model of a corporate information infrastructure yet built." Read the news story.
October 7, 2011
The work of Professor Jerry Connor and recent graduate Simon Laflamme (who is now on the faculty at Iowa State University) is the topic of a story in the October issue of Scientific American. The story, "Instant Health Checks for Buildings and Bridges: Sensors can detect damage that may be invisible to the naked eye," can be read online.
October 7, 2011
Samar Malek presented her research on the mechanics of grid shells at the 20th IABSE-IASS (International Association for Bridge and Structural Engineering - International Association for Shell and Spatial Structures) Symposium held in London Sept. 20-23. Malek, a third year doctoral candidate working with Professor John Ochsendorf, presented a paper titled "Failure Limits of Shallow Grid Shells: The physics behind equivalent thickness and numerical validation."
September 14, 2011
For its Aug. 11 Industry Day, the Concrete Sustainability Hub (CSHub) released reports on "Construction Alternatives," "Concrete Building Life Cycle" and "Pavement Life Cycle." The CSH is an interdisciplinary research program established in 2009 with involvement by faculty from the School of Engineering, School of Architecture and Planning and the Sloan School of Management. It's housed in CEE and directed by CEE Professors Hamlin Jennings, Franz Ulm and John Ochsendorf. The CSH aims to reduce the environmental footprint of concrete. Read news story about the pavement life cycle and the concrete building life cycle reports. Read the reports at the CSH website.
September 13, 2011
Researchers at MIT and Carnegie Mellon University are using civil engineering and bioengineering approaches to study the behavior of a protein associated with progeria, a rare disorder in children that causes rapid aging and usually ends in death before age 16. The disease is marked by the deletion of 50 amino acids near the end of the lamin A protein, which helps support a cell’s nuclear membrane. CEE Professor Markus Buehler and graduate student Zhao Qin used molecular modeling to simulate the behavior of the protein’s tail under stress in much the same way a traditional civil engineer might test the strength of a beam: by applying pressure. Read a news release.
September 2, 2011
In a summer internship with a collaborative program run by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and NASA’s Ames Research Center in California, CEE senior Tiffany Cheng created a remote-sensing toolkit for state and local agencies to use in analyzing air quality during and after uncontrollable events such as wildfires and volcanic eruptions. The new internship program employed about 40 students from more than 15 colleges who worked on a range of projects aimed at solving environmental challenges. Cheng researched satellite data products and dataset tools, examined current methods of analysis and demonstrated the advantages and limitations of the data through several case studies to create a toolkit that combines multiple remote-sensing datasets for environmental monitoring. Read a news release about the program.
September 2, 2011
Professor Markus Buehler and former MIT postdoctoral associate Raffaella Paparcone will receive the 2011 Alfred Noble Prize for a paper published in the journal JOM last year. (“Failure of Alzheimer's Aß(1-40) amyloid nanofibrils under compressive loading,” JOM, Vol. 62(4), pp. 64-68, 2010). The Alfred Noble Prize is presented annually by the combined engineering societies of the U.S. to a person not over 35 years of age for a paper published in one of the journals of the participating societies. The prize, which is administered by the American Society of Civil Engineers (ASCE), was established in 1929 to honor Alfred Noble, a former president of ASCE. See a list of previous winners.
September 1, 2011
CEE will hold a game of softball on Registration Day, pitting the faculty and postdocs against the graduate students. The game, a Parsons Lab tradition now extended to the entire department, will be played from 4 to 6 p.m. Tuesday, Sept. 6 at Briggs Field and followed by a tailgate party at the West Annex Parking Lot (across the street from the field). Hotdogs and other traditional ballpark food and beverages will be served. Everyone in CEE who is not playing is invited to participate as spectator and join the after party. To see a slideshow of the 2009 game and read a scientific analysis of the outcome, go to the Parsons Lab page. Editor's note: The 2011 softball game was cancelled due to rain.
September 1, 2011
Joseph Sussman, the JR East Professor in CEE and the Engineering Systems Division (ESD) has been named interim director of ESD by Ian Waitz, dean of engineering, effective Sept. 1. Sussman succeeds Professor Yossi Sheffi, who is director of the Center for Transportation and Logistics. As an early member of ESD, Sussman played an integral part in launching the division’s doctoral degree program. He also created the transportation-systems focus area for the MIT-Portugal Program, a five-year program in engineering established in 2006. Read a news release.
September 1, 2011
Professor Markus Buehler has joined the editorial board of the London-based Journal of the Royal Society Interface, a cross-disciplinary journal that publishes research at the interface between the physical and life sciences. The prestigious journal is ranked fourth in the multidisciplinary category of the ISI Journal Citation Reports, just behind Nature, Science and the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.
August 1, 2011
All biological sensory systems, including the five human senses, have something in common: when exposed to a sustained change in sensory input, the sense eventually acclimates and notices subsequent changes without comparing them with the initial condition. This autonomous tuning of perceptions, known as sensory adaptation, has been recognized for more than a century. A new study by Professor Roman Stocker, Tanvir Ahmed Ph.D. ’11 and co-authors demonstrates that even microbes have sensory adaptation so precise that their behavior remains identical in ever-changing background conditions. Read a news story.
July 28, 2011
In late June, MIT announced a new collaborative program with the French national scientific research center, Le Centre National de la Recherche Scientifique (CNRS), to be co-directed by CEE Professor Franz Ulm and Roland Pellenq, a senior research scientist in CEE. The collaboration will create a joint laboratory housed at MIT and focused on multi-scale materials science for energy and the environment. MIT president Susan Hockfield announced the project in Paris during the France-MIT Forum on Energy. Read a news story.
July 28, 2011
On Thursday, Aug. 11 more than 500 people are expected to attend the CSHub Industry Day, which will be held from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. in Kresge Auditorium. The MIT dean of engineering will give the welcome address. Other speakers include John Sununu, former governor of New Hampshire and former chief of staff for President George H.W. Bush, and Hubert Murray, former president of the Boston Society of Architects. MIT researchers will present their findings on the two inaugural projects of the CSHub, "The Edge of Concrete: A Life-Cycle Investigation of Concrete and Concrete Structures" and "From Liquid to Stone: The Genesis of Concrete." CEE faculty and students are invited to attend the event free of charge, but advance registration is required.
July 15, 2011
Pedro Reis, the Esther and Harold E. Edgerton Assistant Professor in CEE and the Department of Mechanical Engineering, was one of 60 engineers under the age of 45 selected to attend the U.S. National Academy of Engineering's Japan-America Frontiers of Engineering Symposium, held June 6 to 8 in Osaka. The intensive symposium focused on recent developments in engineering technology with sessions on massive data management, smart grid, bio-inspired materials, and robotics. Read a news story.
July 12, 2011
MIT is the top-rated civil and structural engineering school in the world according to the recently released QS World University Rankings. QS also named MIT No. 3 in earth and marine sciences and No. 4 in environmental sciences, the primary research fields of many CEE faculty members and researchers. The rankings, published by QS — Quacquarelli Symonds Ltd. — examined programs at 200 universities. Read a news story.
July 12, 2011
A paper by recent CEE graduate Rouzbeh Shahsavari Ph.D. '11, Professors Franz Ulm and Markus Buehler, and senior research scientist Roland Pellenq has been selected by the Cements Division of the American Ceramic Society (ACS) as winner of the 2010 Stephen Brunauer Award. The award is given annually to the authors of the best refereed paper on cements published in the previous year's ACS Bulletin or the Journal of the American Ceramic Society. The winning paper, "First-Principles Study of Elastic Constants and Interlayer Interactions of Complex Hydrated Oxides: Case Study of Tobermorite and Jennite," appeared in the journal in 2009. The award will be presented during the 2011 Advances in Cement Based Materials conference July 24-26 at Vanderbilt University in Nashville, Tenn.
Study takes a micro-mechanics approach to understanding how water impacts fiber-wrapped concrete structures
July 11, 2011
Professors Oral Buyukozturk and Markus Buehler, doctoral student Denvid Lau and recent graduate Chakrapan Tuakta Ph.D. '11 used molecular dynamics simulation to study how materials interact at the molecular level and recently applied it for the first time to the interface between epoxy and silica, one of the primary molecules forming concrete. Epoxy is often used to bond a stretchy supportive fabric or a thin plate made of reinforced polymer composites to concrete structures in order to increase the strength and durability of the structure. Specifically, they are interested in how this interface changes when it gets wet. The researchers hope their work will introduce a new paradigm for structural and design engineers to use when predicting the lifespan of building components and large structures. Read a news story.
June 29, 2011
Professor Jerome Connor and Simon Laflamme Ph.D. '11, working with physicists at the University of Potsdam in Germany, recently proposed a new method for the electronic, continual monitoring of structures. In papers appearing in Structural Control Health Monitoring (December 2010) and the Journal of Materials Chemistry (April 2011) the researchers describe how a flexible skin-like fabric with electrical properties could be adhered to areas of structures where cracks are likely to appear, such as the underside of a bridge, and detect cracks when they occur. Installing this “sensing skin” would be as simple as gluing it to the surface of a structure in the length and width required. Read a news release.
June 29, 2011
Recent graduate Emily Moberg ’11 is co-author of a soon-to-be-published book, “Multi-Criteria Decision Analysis: Environmental Applications and Case Studies” (CRC Press, October 2011), with Igor Linkov of the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers. The summer after her sophomore year, Moberg worked with Linkov at the U.S. Army Engineer Research and Development Center in Concord, Mass. She was responsible for much of the writing of the book, as well as the environmental background and explanation of the case studies. Topics include development of the multicriteria decision analysis model, management of harmful algae blooms and assessment of the environmental impact of nanomaterials.
June 29, 2011
While still in college, Edna Ezzell ’11 wrote the sustainability and humanities chapters, among others, of "Fundamentals of Civil Engineering: An Introduction to the ASCE Body of Knowledge" (CRC Press, 2011), with co-authors Professor Richard McCuen and student Melanie Wong of the University of Maryland, where Ezzell studied before transferring to MIT as a junior. “Professor McCuen put a lot of faith in us despite our young age and gave us an extraordinary opportunity with this book as well as the individual research projects we conducted,” said Ezzell. The book encourages a broader perspective and understanding of the role of civil engineers in society. Wong plans to attend graduate school at MIT next fall.
June 28, 2011
Charles M. Vest, former president of MIT and the current president of the National Academy of Engineering (NAE), announced today that three MIT faculty members have been selected to attend the NAE’s 17th U.S. Frontiers of Engineering symposium. Associate Professors Roman Stocker of the Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering (CEE), John Ochsendorf of CEE and the Department of Architecture, and Rahul Sarpeshkar of the Department of Electrical Engineering and Computer Science and the Research Lab for Electronics are among the 85 researchers invited to attend the symposium Sept. 19-21 at Google headquarters in Mountain View, Calif. Read a news story.
June 21, 2011
EMPA, the Swiss Federal Research Laboratory for Materials Science and Technology, awarded the Golden Mirko Ros Medal to CEE Professor Oral Buyukozturk on May 16, during opening session of the 2011 International Symposium on Nondestructive Testing of Materials and Structures held at Istanbul Technical University. The award honors Buyukozturk’s “most valuable and sustained contributions to materials science and engineering in the domain of civil engineering, and for his outstanding research support to EMPA over the last two decades,” said Professor Urs Meier, a former director of EMPA. Read a news story.
June 17, 2011
When graduate student Steve Cranford, a native of Newfoundland, Canada, arrived at MIT in 2008, he brought with him a love of hockey. After attending a few Boston Bruins games, he switched his allegiance from the Canadian Canucks, becoming a loyal fan of his new hometown team. Last week, as he waited for Game 5 of the championship match between the Bruins and the Canucks to begin, he integrated that newfound love for the Bruins with his enthusiasm for research, creating a computer model of the team’s logo made from graphene, the recently discovered form of carbon with a honeycomb geometry a single atom thick. Read a news story.
June 16, 2011
Pedro Reis lab members postdoctoral associate Arnaud Lazarus and graduate student Bastiaan Florijn won the best poster prize at the “Freund Symposium: Future Directions in Mechanics Research” held June 3 at Brown University. The title of the poster was "Geometry-induced rigidity in pressurized elastic shells." "Given that the conference focused entirely on solid mechanics and that a large number of the leading experts in our community were present, this had a very special meaning for our lab," said Reis, whose lab is called the Elasticity, Geometry and Statistics Laboratory.
June 16, 2011
Professor Philip Gschwend received a teaching award from the School of Engineering: the 2011 Samuel M. Seegal Prize. This award is made to a faculty member who inspires students in pursuing and achieving excellence. He also received the department's Maseeh Award for Teaching.
June 16, 2011
Ten students were welcomed into the civil and environmental engineering honor society, Chi Epsilon: seniors Victoria Brumbaugh, Joshua Hester, Ivy Huang, Kimberly Huppert, Connie Lu and Meena Viswanat, and juniors Michael Chen, Lorna Ogolla, Breanna Peterman and Tzipora Wagner.
June 16, 2011
In May, Sheila Frankel, lecturer, senior researcher and assistant director of the Parsons Laboratory, received an Infinite Mile Award from the School of Engineering for her tireless work for the department, and specifically for founding, organizing and leading the Traveling Research Environmental Experience (TREX) program each year. Frankel was also honored at the CEE Senior and Awards Dinner in May.
June 16, 2011
Graduate student Jameson Toole, who works with Professor Marta González, spoke at the TEDx conference April 8, which was held at the University of Michigan in Ann Arbor. Toole's topic, "Big Data for Tomorrow," dealt with two projects in Gonzalez's lab. Gonzalez integrates methods of complex systems with statistical physics approaches, computational sciences, geographic information systems and network theory to characterize and model human dynamics. Watch a video of Toole's talk.
June 8, 2011
Connie Lu ’11 was awarded a 2011-12 Legatum Fellowship from MIT’s Legatum Center for Development and Entrepreneurship. The fellowship will allow her to continue developing the company GrubCycle while she pursues an M.Eng. in environmental and water quality engineering at MIT. GrubCycle hopes to work with entrepreneurs in slums in the developing world to use black soldier fly larvae to convert organic (food) waste into high-protein animal feed. Lu, junior Scott Landers, Caroline Hunting ’11, and sophomore Coyin Oh (biology) entered the GrubCycle business plan in the 2011 MIT Global Challenge.
June 3, 2011
On Friday, June 3 CEE graduates gathered with families, friends and CEE faculty, staff and alumni for an afternoon party following MIT’s 145th Commencement exercises. During the 2010-11 academic year, the department awarded 123 degrees: 14 doctorates; 13 Master of Science in Transportation degrees; 18 Master of Science degrees; 30 Master of Engineering degrees; and 48 Bachelor of Science degrees (23 in civil engineering, 17 in environmental engineering science, and eight undesignated).
May 26, 2011
Weather permitting, on a spring afternoon every year the Course 1 senior class assembles and tests 10-foot-long bridges outside the MIT Student Center. While this eye-catching event always attracts a curious crowd, it is only one of many group projects assigned in this capstone course, 1.013 Senior Civil and Environmental Engineering Design. Read a news story.
May 26, 2011
Professor Oral Buyukozturk chaired an international conference on nondestructive testing and health monitoring of materials and structures May 15-18 in Istanbul. About 500 authors from more than 40 countries were represented by the 200 papers presented at the NDTMS 2011 International Conference. RILEM, a an international organization founded in 1947 to promote scientific cooperation in construction materials and structures field, will sponsor publication of the 1,200 page proceedings in two volumes, creating what is expected to be the first major reference on this topic. For more information, visit the NDTMS conference website.
May 26, 2011
Professor Oral Buyukozturk's research proposal "Remote Detection of Damage in FRP-Retrofitted Concrete Structures Using Accoustic-Laser Vibrometry" has been awarded the 2011 National ASNT Fellowship Award by the American Society for Nondestructive Testing. The research allows the remote detection of damage in concrete structures using acoustic-laser vibrometry. Buyukozturk will receive the award at the ASNT conference in California October 2011. For more information visit the ASNT website.
May 26, 2011
It might not seem like scraping the top of a cold stick of butter with a knife could be a scientific test, but Professors Franz Ulm and Pedro Reis and graduate student Ange-Therese Akono say the process is very similar to the “scratch test,” which is perhaps the oldest known way to assess a material’s hardness and strength. Using butter as a launching point, they found that the scratch test is actually measuring a material’s toughness rather than its strength. Read a news release.
May 26, 2011
Moving up one place from last year’s rankings, the MIT Steel Bridge team finished fifth nationally in the 2011 Steel Bridge contest, held at Texas A&M University May 20 and 21. The 21-foot-long steel bridges are graded according to detailed rules on construction speed, lightness, economy, efficiency and display (appearance and poster). Co-captain Emily Moberg, a senior, credited the high rank on relatively strong performances in all required categories and no major failings. “We were particularly proud of our unique double pin-connections, which were very stiff,” she said. “This helped us have an efficient bridge with respect to weight and deflection.” Read a news story.
May 19, 2011
Professor David Simchi-Levi has been elected as an Academic Member to the Board of Governors of the Technion Israel Institute of Technology, a post similar to an MIT Corporation member. Simchi-Levi received his B.S. from the Technion in 1978, before earning the M.Sc. and Ph.D. at Tel-Aviv University. His research is in the development and implementation of robust and efficient techniques for manufacturing and logistics systems.
May 19, 2011
Professor Moshe Ben-Akiva and his research group, the MIT Intelligent Transportation Systems (ITS) Program, received the IEEE ITS Outstanding Applications Award for creation of DynaMIT, a computer system designed to provide real-time information to travelers and traffic managers. This work began in the mid-1990s with the MITSIMLab traffic modeling and simulation system, which was used to test and refine the electronic monitoring and surveillance systems for Boston’s Big Dig. Ben-Akiva credits a long series of collaborators, including postdocs and students, whose work made development of the systems possible.
May 19, 2011
Professor Markus Buehler will receive the ASCE Engineering Mechanics Institute's Leonardo da Vinci Award for his "pioneering research in the integration of atomistic simulation with methods of continuum mechanics, applied to the multiscale modeling of the structure and mechanical behavior of biological and protein-based materials." The award recognizes outstanding young investigators for groundbreaking developments in engineering mechanics and mechanical sciences. Buehler will receive the award June 3 during the EMI conference at Northeastern University. This is the first year the award has been given.
May 19, 2011
Course 1 senior Joel Veenstra and his teammates on Sanergy won the grand prize in the MIT $100K Entrepreneurship Competition May 11 for their proposal to build toilets in Kenyan slums and convert the waste to income-generating fertilizer and fuel. Their pitch about the critical need for clean, affordable sanitation in areas badly needing it also earned them the audience-choice award, and top place in the Emerging Markets category in the competition against 279 other teams. Read a news story.
May 13, 2011
Department award winners for the 2010-11 academic year were announced at the May 12 Annual Awards and Senior Dinner held at the Marriott Hotel in Cambridge. Research associate and lecturer Sheila Frankel received a special thanks from the department for her "hard work on behalf of CEE and the Parsons Lab and for the countless hours she has spent in organizing and running a wonderful TREX program in Hawaii." Read a news story.
May 13, 2011
At the annual Awards and Senior Dinner May 12, department head Professor Andrew Whittle announced that three faculty members will receive promotions effective July 1. Associate Professor Markus Buehler has been promoted to associate professor with tenure; Associate Professor Charles Harvey promoted to full professor; and Assistant Professor Eric Alm promoted to associate professor.
May 13, 2011
A paper, "A Sensing Skin for Large-Scale Surface Monitoring of Infrastructures," by Professor Jerome Connor, Simon Laflamme and co-authors has been selected winner of the Boston Society of Civil Engineers Section's Herzog Award. The winners will accept the award at the BSCE Infrastructure Awards Night Wednesday, May 18 at the Radisson Hotel in Boston.
May 12, 2011
In an analysis published in Physical Review Letters, researchers led by Professor Ruben Juanes show that the injection of a thin or low-viscosity fluid into a much more viscous fluid (think of water spurting into molasses) will cause the two fluids to mix very quickly via a physical process known as viscous fingering. The thinner liquid will form fingers as it enters the thicker liquid, and those fingers will form other fingers, and so on until the two liquids have mixed uniformly. For maximum mixing to occur quickly, the ideal ratio of the viscosity of any two fluids depends on the speed at which the thinner liquid is injected into the thicker one. Read a news story.
May 11, 2011
Professor John Williams has been elected to the Learned Society of Wales, which was founded in May 2010 to recognize Welsh research and scholarship and promote it internationally. Williams, whose research focuses on large-scale computer analysis applied to both physical systems and information systems, will be among the second group of 119 inductees of Welsh birth or residence who are being recognized for their established record of academic achievement.
May 11, 2011
Senior Research Associate and Senior Lecturer John Germaine and co-principal investigator Peter Flemings of the University of Texas, Austin, hosted a meeting of the GeoFluids Consortium earlier this year. The consortium, which is supported by 12 energy companies, was established in June 2009 to study the "state and evolution of pressure, stress, deformation and fluid migration through experiments, models, and field study." The team combines geoscientists at the University of Texas with geotechnical engineers at MIT. Concepts developed in consortium research have been used to study marine slope stability and the processes of hydrate formation and disassociation. New tools developed by the group are being used to make in-situ measurements of pressure in mudrocks.
May 10, 2011
A reality-based smartphone game that lets users help a village in Tanzania and a portable, low-cost water quality testing kit are two of the four projects involving CEE students or alumni that won awards in the MIT IDEAS and Global Challenge Competitions May 2. Eighty-six teams entered the contests, which aim to foster innovative and practical public service inventions for the developing world. The CEE winners are doctoral student Peter K. Kang S.M. ’10 on Project AQUA; graduate student Samantha O'Keefe '09 on Safe Water World; M.Eng. student Joanna Cummings on Kosim Water Keg; and Jean Pierre Nshimyimana S.M. ’10 on HydroHarvest. Read a news story.
May 10, 2011
The Spring issue of Komaza, a student-run magazine about the international development experiences of MIT students, is on newsstands today. This issue contains a story about M.Eng. students Claudia Espinoza and Maclyn O’Donnell’s work on Senior Lecturer Susan Murcott’s Kanchan Arsenic Filter project in Nepal. And Murcott's advice appears in an "experts advice" piece about international development.
May 5, 2011
1A senior Alorah Harman has been awarded an MIT Eloranta Summer Undergraduate Research Fellowship. She plans to go to Siberia to film a documentary on the nature of international collaboration in science, as explored through a case study at Lake Baikal, the world's largest and oldest lake. The $6,000 Eloranta Fellowships are awarded for student-developed research ideas and may be used to pay for living expenses, travel, and materials and services.
May 5, 2011
A paper by Assistant Professor Carolina Osorio won the Graduate Student Best Paper Award at the Transportation Research Forum (TRF) held in Long Beach, Calif. March 11. The paper, "A Simulation-Based Optimization Framework for Urban Traffic Control," is based on a chapter in Osorio's Ph.D. thesis. Her research interests are in applied probability theory; and simulation and simulation-based optimization for transportation problems, including macroscopic traffic modeling, large-scale traffic management and transportation systems analysis. She joined the CEE Faculty in August 2010.
May 5, 2011
A paper by postdoctoral associate Chris Leonardi was selected as the Best High Performance Computing (HPC) paper at the 2011 Spring Simulation Multi-Conference in Boston. Co-authors on the paper are former postdoctoral associate David Holmes, Professor John Williams and Peter Tilke, a visiting scientist in the Department of Earth, Atomospheric and Planetary Sciences. An article about the work on multicore and oil well simulation appears on the HPC Wired website. Leonardi works in the MIT Geonumerics Laboratory and the MIT Geospatial Data Center.
May 5, 2011
The website of the MIT Geospatial Data Center was one of five nominees in the 2011 Webby Awards in the Schools/Universities category. Professor John Williams is director of the center, which, according to the website, is the "uniting force of MIT's Auto-ID labs, the Geonumerics Group, the Center for Grid Computing, and the Intelligent Engineering Systems Laboratory," striving to "enhance the areas of public service, environmental conservation, and crisis relief and prevention efforts with the next-generation geospatial platform.” The Webby Awards is the leading international award honoring excellence on the Internet.
May 5, 2011
On Thursday, May 5, from 7:30 to 10 p.m. in Lobby 13, students from the Terrascope freshman learning community will present their research projects focused on alleviating hunger and providing food security. The Terrascope (which is jointly run by CEE and the Department of Earth, Atmospheric and Planetary Sciences) curriculum has focused on this problem all year. During the spring semester, the students — taught by CEE Professor Charles Harvey and Lecturer Ari Epstein — worked in teams to develop prototypes and models of workable solutions. Projects include:
- Cell Phones — A low-cost cell phone system to provide improved medical treatment in rural India.
- Crop Drying — A scale model of a system to efficiently dry crops.
- Butter — A butter-making solution to help the Maasai during the dry season.
- Vertical Farming — A system for "self watering" agriculture that reduces urban runoff.
- Pedagogical Games — A multiplayer game, in which players compete and cooperate to optimize food security.
- Vaccine Cooling — A milk-chilling device that also keeps animal vaccines cool.
May 5, 2011
In recognition of their academic achievement, four CEE seniors have been elected to Phi Beta Kappa. Founded in 1776, Phi Beta Kappa is the nation's oldest honor society. The new members are Fatima Hussain (1E), Alexander Jordan (1C), Khalea Robinson (1C) and Katherine Turner (1C).
May 5, 2011
1C senior Khalea Robinson has been selected as the 2011 Henry Ford II Scholar, an honor given to a senior in the School of Engineering who has attained the highest academic record at the end of the third year and who exhibits exceptional potential for leadership in the profession of engineering and in society. The monetary award was established in 1977 with a grant from the Ford Motor Co.
May 2, 2011
Congratulations to the MIT Steel Bridge Team! At the regional competition at the Université Laval in Quebec City April 29 and 30, the team took second place overall and first place for construction speed and efficiency. The team will now begin preparations for the National Student Steel Bridge Competition to be held at Texas A&M University May 20-21.
- 1st place - Construction Speed
- 1st place - Efficiency
- 2nd place - Display
- 2nd place - Lightness
- 2nd place - Stiffness
- 2nd place - Economy
- 2nd place - Overall
May 2, 2011
Professor Jesse Kroll has received a National Science Foundation (NSF) CAREER award for his project, "Photochemical Aging of Atmospheric Organic Aerosol: Chamber Studies of the Chemical Evolution of Oxidized Organic Species." The Faculty Early Career Development (CAREER) Program is NSF's most prestigious awards for researches early in their careers. They recognize "activities of those teacher-scholars who most effectively integrate research and education within the context of the mission of their organization." Kroll's project addresses the chemical evolution of organic aerosol (OA) through laboratory studies of the photochemical aging of oxidized organics. The results of this work will inform policy on aerosol-climate and aerosol/health interaction and promote the scientific development of students.
May 2, 2011
At the MIT Awards Convocation Tuesday, May 3, 4 p.m. in Room 10-250, four members of the CEE community will be honored. Senior Lecturer Frederick Salvucci has been selected as winner of the Graduate Student Council Teaching Award. Course 1E senior Fatima Hussain is a winner of the Association of MIT Alumnae (AMITA) Senior Academic Award. Course 1C senior Aissata Nutzel will receive a Ronald E. McNair Scholarship Award, and Course 1C senior Michelle Bentivegna is winner of the Laya Wiesner Community Award. The Convocation will be followed by a reception. Read more information about the Awards Convocation.
May 2, 2011
On Wednesday, May 4 from approximately 1 to 3 p.m. in front of the Student Center, CEE seniors will test the bridges they designed and built in 1.013 Senior Civil and Environmental Engineering Design. There are eight bridges this year, all quite different from the bridge designs created in previous years. We encourage all CEE community members to come out and show support for our Course 1 seniors and admire their unique bridge designs. If it rains, the bridge testing will be held in Lobby 7.
April 27, 2011
Ddegeya, Uganda, a community of about 1,000 people spread over five square kilometers, relies on a single pond and one working well for water. The people there have no electricity and limited access to healthcare, because the local clinic faces the same constraints as the community. The Engineers Without Borders (EWB) MIT chapter has worked with the Engeye Health Clinic in Ddegeya since 2008, and in summer 2010, EWB MIT made its third trip to Ddegeya, working in two teams to address the main problems of the community: energy and water. Read a news story by Course 1 sophomore Marisa Simmons.
April 26, 2011
An article and photo gallery about Pure Home Water (PHW) and its success at improving drinking water quality for rural Ghanaians appeared on the America.gov website in March. PHW is a nonprofit company based in Tamale, Ghana, that was founded in 2005 by Senior Lecturer Susan Murcott. It builds and sells Kosim ("pure water" in the local language) ceramic pot water filters and provides training, service, distribution, monitoring and emergency relief services. The article by Kathryn McConnell reports that PHW's filters have benefited about 100,000 people to date. The company recently completed work on its own Kosim filter factory in Tamale.
April 25, 2011
Senior Joshua Hester will give his senior piano recital Saturday, May 14 at 2 p.m. in Killian Hall. Hester will play works of Brahms, Liszt, Rachmaninoff, Gershwin, Chopin and Joel. He invites all CEE faculty, staff, students and friends to attend his performance.
April 25, 2011
MIT is holding an open house Saturday, April 30 in celebration of the Institute's 150th anniversary. CEE faculty and students have planned nine exhibits for the open house, which will be held from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m.
April 21, 2011
During Campus Preview Weekend, Professor Franz Ulm participated in a Professor Talent Show hosted by SaveTFP, a student group that facilitates all-inclusive student social activities. Ulm's talk focused on the mechanics of scraping the top of a cold stick of butter. After defining the problem mathematically, he stated that it takes a bit less force (he's always really tired in the morning, he says) to scrape a narrow, deep strip of butter than a wider, shallow one. He went on to show how the mechanics of this problem relate to the nation's energy reserves and ended by warning the students that if they want to get famous, they should not become engineers. "Engineers only get famous when things go wrong," he said to laughter. View the video (5:50 to 19:15).
April 19, 2011
Three graduate students in Professor Ruben Juanes' research group received Outstanding Student Paper Awards at the 2010 AGU Fall Meeting held in San Francisco in December. The winners are Birendra Jha for "Fluid Mixing From Viscous Fingering," Peter Kang for "Effective Transport in Lattice Fracture Networks with Uncorrelated and Correlated Velocity Field" and Christopher MacMinn for "Spreading and Dissolution of CO2 in Horizontal Aquifers: Theory and Experiments."
April 19, 2011
Green concrete, one of the goals of the Concrete Sustainability Hub, was the topic of a video news report by the BBC TV's Ian Hardy, who visited CEE April 1, interviewing Professors Franz Ulm and Hamlin Jennings and Senior Research Scientist Roland Pellenq of CEE and the Concrete Sustainability Hub. In his report, Hardy also included shots of graduate students Ange-Therese Akono and Muhannad Abuhaikal working in the lab. Watch the news video.
April 14, 2011
Engineers Without Borders (EWB) is dedicated to improving the world through engineering solutions. The MIT Chapter of EWB, which counts many CEE students among its membership, works in Uganda on energy and water problems. On Saturday, April 16, the group will participate in the Franklin Park Zoo's Earth Day celebration with an exhibit about it's Ugandan work, from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. At the zoo, EWB will bring charcoal presses and char to make charcoal out of vegetable waste, and water testing materials and prototypes that children can use to test water.
April 7, 2011
Professor Roman Stocker wrote an invited news commentary that accompanied an article in the Feb. 2 Early Edition of the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences about a newly discovered mechanism of locomotion used by marine microbes. In his commentary, "Reverse and flick: Hybrid locomotion in bacteria," Stocker writes: "Our understanding of bacterial locomotion has long been driven and biased by the wealth of knowledge on E.coli," which has four to eight flagella, each "powered by a reversible rotary motor. When all motors spin counterclockwise, hydrodynamic interactions cause the flagella to form a bundle that propels E. coli forward in a nearly straight 'run.' When one or more motors switch direction, the bundle comes apart, causing a change in direction." But many marine microbes have only a single flagellum, so how do they change direction? Xie et. al. describe a means for these cells to change direction by reversing, then using a flick of the flagellum to propel in a different direction.
April 7, 2011
At least eight teams in the MIT Global Challenge have CEE students or alumni as members. Course 1 senior Tiffany Cheng and Course 7 grad student Alison Takemura of the Martin Polz lab are working on Showergy. CEE graduate student Samantha O'Keefe '09 is part of the Safe Water World team. CEE doctoral student Peter Kyungchul Kang S.M. '10 is team leader of AQUA. Junior Scott Landers and senior Connie Lu are members of GrubCycle. CEE alumnus Jean Pierre Nshimyimana '10 is a member of HydroHarvest. M.Eng students Yangyue Zhang, Matthew Bono, Julian Houbrechts and Genevieve Ho are on Team Jeevikah. 1C senior Ingrid Chaires is on team Flour Power. M.Eng. student Joanna Cummings is on team Kosim Water Keg. Voting for the $5,000 Community Choice Awards in the MIT Global Challenge is open through April 25. Individuals may vote for up to five teams.
April 7, 2011
Professor Markus Buehler has been invited to present six lectures for a course at the International Centre for Mechanical Sciences (CISM) in Udine, Italy, July 18-22. The other six lecturers in "Advanced and Bio-Inspired Nanomechanics" include Sir Harold Kroto, co-winner of the Nobel Prize in Chemistry in 1996 for the discovery of fullerenes, and the course organizer, Nicola Pugno of the Politecnico di Torino, Italy. Applications for the course are due one month before the course start date. CISM is a nonprofit organization established in 1968 to "support the exchange and application of the most advanced knowledge in the mechanical sciences, in interdisciplinary fields like robotics, biomechanics, environmental engineering and other fields."
April 4, 2011
Senior Research Associate (retired) Carl Martland, has a new book out titled, "Toward More Sustainable Infrastructure: Project Evaluation for Planners and Engineers" (Wiley 2011). Based on a subject he developed and taught at MIT (1.011 Project Evaluation), the book prepares readers to "evaluate projects based on an appreciation of the needs of society, the potential for sustainable development and recognition of the problems that may result from poorly conceived or poorly implemented projects and programs." Martland, a railroad transportation specialist, was quoted in an article appearing in the Boston Globe Feb. 14 about the new CSX railyard in Worcester, which uses cranes to lift and move cargo containers between railcars and trucks, rather than the older, less efficient forklift-like sideloaders.
April 4, 2011
Course 1 senior Kallie Hedberg and junior Julia Hopkins are co-authors of a paper that appeared in a March issue of the American Journal of Disaster Medicine. "Vaccine Availability in the United States during the 2009 H1N1 Outbreak" was written by Hedberg, Hopkins, Professor Richard Larson of the Engineering Systems Divison (ESD) and co-authors. Larson said the 1C students "worked tirelessly" with the Centers for Disease Control-supported ESD Flu Team, performed the majority of the research that led to the paper, and did much of the writing. The paper "details statistically the supply-chain mishaps in production and delivery of the H1N1 flu vaccine … is already leading to two follow-on papers … and an improved set of policies for vaccine distribution. We believe the paper demonstrates how an MIT engineering approach can add value in areas not traditional to engineering," said Larson.
March 30, 2011
Efforts to prevent or reverse eutrophication in freshwater typically aim to decrease the amount of phosphate entering the lake or river in runoff from the watershed. But a new study by Professor Harry Hemond and Katherine Lin ’05 (who performed the research as a UROP student) suggests that phosphate control measures that simultaneously decrease nitrate inflow could, paradoxically, result in an increased release of phosphate from lake sediments that have become enriched after years of heavy phosphate inflow. Incorporating this information into engineering models of lake eutrophication could make them more accurate and useful. Read a news story.
March 17, 2011
The nine junior faculty members in CEE organized the first CEE Research Speed Dating Day, which was held Friday, Feb. 11, from 1 to 6 p.m. The event consisted of five-minute sound bite presentations each on a single research topic and each followed by three minutes of Q&A. Read more.
March 17, 2011
In an opinion piece in Technology Review, Professor Eduardo Kausel writes about the engineering and planning aspects of rebuilding that will be required in the wake of the earthquake and tsunami that hit Japan March 11. "Given the huge and tragic loss of life that has resulted, no compassionate human being could possibly wish last week’s devastating earthquake and subsequent tsunami on any country. But if it had to happen – and it is an inescapable geological fact that earthquakes do have to happen – there are many worse places it could have happened. In a very real sense, Japan was prepared for it and, unlike so many parts of the world hit by devastating earthquakes, it is well-placed to embark on the massive rebuilding exercise that will now ensue." Read the opinion piece.
March 17, 2011
Two CEE faculty members will chair sessions in the MIT 150th Symposium on "Leaders in Science and Engineering: The Women of MIT," scheduled for March 28- 29 in Kresge Auditorium. Professor Cynthia Barnhart will chair the session titled, "Celebrating Science and Engineering Breakthroughs II," March 28 at 3:30 p.m. Professor Sallie (Penny) Chisholm will chair the session titled, "Celebrating Science and Engineering Breakthroughs III," March 29 at 10:30 a.m. Chisholm will also be a panelist in the 3:30 p.m. session, talking about "Tiny Cells, Global Impact: Microbes in the Sea." For more information and to register for this and the other three symposia, go to the 150th website.
March 16, 2011
Doctoral student Denvid Lau was selected as a 2011 Harvey Fellow by the Mustard Seed Foundation. The Harvey Fellows Program awards scholarships to "Christian students who are pursuing graduate studies at premier universities in fields considered to be underrepresented by Christians and who possess a unique vision to impact society through their vocations." Lau's doctoral research — which he writes about in his blog — is on the debonding of bi-layer material systems under moisture effects. The work is supervised by Professors Oral Buyukozturk and Markus Buehler.
Committee says DOD should pay some of the costs of transportation infrastructure near U.S. military bases
March 7, 2011
CEE Professor Joseph Sussman recently chaired a congressionally mandated committee that released a report calling for the Pentagon to pay some of the cost of new transportation infrastructure needed to mitigate the relocation of tens of thousands of military personnel later this year, rather than making local and state governments shoulder the entire burden. The Feb. 7 report also states that some of this funding should go towards the creation or enhancement of public transportation and not focus solely on roads and highways, as has been done in the past. Read a news story.
March 7, 2011
An article in the Feb. 26 Boston Globe focuses on Professor John Ochsendorf and his new book,"Guastavino Vaulting: The Art of Structural Tile" (Princeton Architectural Press, 2010). Architect Rafael Guastavino (1842–1908) and son are famous for their technique of constructing architectural arches and ceilings using thin interlocking tiles. These vaults were used in hundreds of large public projects across the U.S., including the Boston Public Library and New York City's Grand Central Terminal, but the Guastavino name isn't well known by the general public, mainly because the family served as contractor rather than primary architect on these projects. Ochsendorf's book traces the development of the vaulting technique from its origins in Europe though its use in the United States, and includes photographs by Michael Freeman. Ochsendorf is a professor of civil and environmental engineering and architecture. He received a MacArthur Fellowship in 2008.
February 24, 2011
Adding particles to liquids to make currents visible is a common practice in the study of fluid mechanics, one that was adopted and perfected by artist Paul Matisse in sculptures he calls Kalliroscopes. Matisse’s glass-enclosed liquid sculptures contain an object whose movement through the liquid creates whorls that can be seen only because elongated particles trailing the object align with the direction of the current; light reflects off the particles, making the current visible to the viewer. Professor Roman Stocker and his research team recently demonstrated that this same phenomenon is responsible for the swirling patterns scientists typically see when they agitate a flask containing microbes in water; many microbes are themselves elongated particles that make the whorls visible. More importantly, they say this phenomenon occurs in the ocean when elongated microbes caught in a current align horizontally with the ocean surface, affecting how much light goes into the ocean and how much bounces off as backscatter. Read a news story.
February 10, 2011
Doctoral student Pierre Fuller, whose research applies computing techniques to solve problems in civil engineering, and civil engineering senior Khalea Robinson were selected as the two students to make presentations at MIT's 37th annual Martin Luther King Jr. breakfast, held Feb. 9. The theme of the celebration was "Excellence is a Shared Path: Working Together for Justice and the Quality of Life." Robinson's talk, "The Shared Path," stressed the critical importance of collaboration in securing the creation of a fairer, more just world. In his talk, "Excellence Through Humility," Fuller spoke about the need for every individual to do his part, but with the recognition that it is only in the collective that the work will succeed. Read a news release and see a slide show.
February 9, 2011
M.Eng. student Marne Zahner was selected as the spring 2010 Marvin E. Goody Award winner for his thesis proposal, “Energy Dissipation Behavior of the Modified Friction Device." The $5,000 Goody Award is given to an MIT graduate student in any department whose master's thesis explores the bond between good design and good building, extends the horizons of existing building techniques and materials, and fosters links between the academic world and the building industry. Zahner said he remembers as a child watching “a really cool documentary on the 1957 Monsanto House of the Future.” That house had several CEE connections, and Marvin Goody, who was an MIT professor of architecture, was one of its designers.
February 9, 2011
Tiffany Cheng, a junior majoring in environmental engineering science and minoring in applied international studies, has been named a 2011 Burchard Scholar. The award, given by the School of Humanities, Arts and Social Sciences, recognizes students who demonstrate unusual abilities and academic excellence in the areas embraced by the school. Cheng’s many interests include cultural studies and political science, and blogging for the MIT Diversity website. She also serves as president of the Chorallaries of MIT, the Institute’s oldest co-ed a capella group.
January 31, 2011
A team of MIT students including CEE senior Joel Veenstra formed Sanergy, a company that plans to build thousands of modular “sanitation centers” in developing countries to provide an alternative to defecating in the open, which can contaminate drinking water. People could purchase low-cost memberships to use these facilities, and entrepreneurs could convert the waste into much-needed biogas and organic fertilizer. Sanergy has built two centers in Kenya and is analyzing data from those to improve future efforts. Read a news story.
January 28, 2011
A new book by Professor Chiang C. Mei and co-author Bogdan Vernescu of Worcester Polytechnic Institute, "Homogenization Methods for Multiscale Mechanics" (World Scientific, 2010), provides researchers with a concrete treatment of the theory of homogenization — deriving averaged equations for a much larger scale based on considerations at the small scale — for treating inhomogeneous media. The book illustrates the use of homogenization for a broad range of physical problems.
January 27, 2011
The American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS) has selected Professor Ed DeLong as a AAAS Fellow, a distinction that recognizes his important contributions to microbial systems science. Long is a pioneer in the field of metagenomics, which focuses on the genomics of natural microbial communities as opposed to lab-cultured microorganisms, and is perhaps best known for his discovery that some marine bacteria can use a rhodopsin protein to convert sunlight into biochemical energy. Read more.
January 19, 2011
Professor Jesse Kroll and graduate student Sean Kessler have found a new approach to characterizing atmospheric aerosols using the carbon oxidation state, which up to now has been used primarily as a teaching tool. Theirs is the first study to demonstrate that the carbon oxidation state can be used to describe the evolving composition of a complex mixture of atmospheric organics undergoing dynamic oxidation processes. A paper describing this work appeared in Nature Chemistry online Jan. 9. Read more about this work in the On Balance research newsletter.
December 19, 2010
Professor Eric Alm and recent graduate Lawrence David have created a sort of genomic fossil that shows that the collective genome of all life underwent an enormous expansion about 3 billion years ago, which they're calling the Archean Expansion. Many of the new genes appearing in the Archean Expansion are oxygen related, and could be the first biological evidence of the Great Oxidation Event, the period in Earth's history when oxygen became so plentiful that many anaerobic life forms may have become extinct. A report of this work appeared in Nature online Dec. 19. Read a news release.
December 15, 2010
Graduate student Rouzbeh Shahsavari was a Silver Medalist at the Graduate Student Award competition at the 2010 Materials Research Society (MRS) Fall Meeting held in Boston earlier this month. The honor recognizes the "excellence and distinction" of Shahsavari's past academic achievements and materials research and his promise for future achievement. Professor Franz Ulm is his research advisor. For more information, go to the Materials Research Society website.
December 15, 2010
Professor Joseph Sussman told ITS International that the U.S. transportation industry needs to come up with a new vision for multimodal transportation that will include Intelligent Transportation Systems and "capture the imagination" of the public, which would then be more willing to provide funding. "Current activities are fragmented, and the public is very sceptical of a political system that builds 'bridges to nowhere' rather than focusing on real issues and problems in a visionary way." He also calls for a new type of transportation professional who thinks broadly about transportation technologies and how they relate to transportation systems and institutions. Sussman is chair of the ITS Program Advisory Committee for the U.S. Department of Transportation. To read the full interview, go to the ITS International website.
December 15, 2010
Professor Moshe Ben-Akiva was profiled by the Wall Street Journal in a list of five innovative thinkers in the transport industry for his work on DynaMIT, a real-time traffic management simulator that analyzes the way drivers behave. The system uses road sensors, video cameras and other information to predict traffic flow several hours out. The article appeared in the Dec. 4 issue of the newspaper.
Read the article.
December 15, 2010
The settling of particulate organic matter in the ocean is the main means of moving carbon from surface waters toward the deep sea. As the particles fall, microbes colonize them and degrade some of the organic carbon, releasing it into the water. Because the particles are composed of 95 percent or more seawater trapped in a porous, gel-like matrix, and the ocean is stratifed by water of different densities, the particles often reach a depth where they approach neutral buoyancy, leaving them stranded in thin layers affecting how much carbon microbes degrade. Professor Roman Stocker and colleagues demonstrated that the retention time in the layers is due to the diffusive exchange of low-density water from the hollows of the particles with heavier ambient water. Using lab experiments based on time-lapse microphotography, they showed that larger aggregates spend more time in thin layers than smaller particles, with a retention time that increases quadratically with particle radius. Read the paper from the Dec. 6 early online edition of the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.
December 6, 2010
People living in the great expanses of flat, dry regions of the world that lack natural freshwater lakes depend on episodic rainstorms to replenish the groundwater they use for domestic and agricultural purposes. New work by Professors Dennis McLaughlin and Dara Entekhabi and recent graduate Gene-Hua Crystal Ng shows that even minor variations in precipitation caused by climate change could cause major, often counterintuitive changes to fragile groundwater supplies in these areas. Read a news story.
December 3, 2010
Much as an anthropologist studies populations of people to learn about their environs and social structures, marine microbiologists read the genome of microbes to glean information about the microbes themselves, their environment and lifestyle. Professor Sallie (Penny) W. Chisholm and alumna Maureen Coleman recently found very clear clues about an East-West divide in the lifestyles of two populations of the same bacterium living in the Atlantic and Pacific Oceans. Read a news story.
November 17, 2010
Kari Hernandez, a graduate student in transportation, received one of nine spots awarded by the International Union of Railways (UIC) to attend its High Speed Rail World Congress in Beijing next month. The theme of the conference is high-speed rail for greener transport. In her research with research associate Mikel Murga and senior research associate Frederick Salvucci, Hernandez studies the role of intermodality in long-range transportation system development, focusing on the value of high-speed rail and airport integration. Read more about the award.
November 11, 2010
Cat fanciers the world over appreciate the gravity-defying grace and exquisite balance of their feline friends. But do they know those traits extend even to the way cats lap milk? Professors Pedro Reis and Roman Stocker and co-authors analyzed the way domestic and big cats lap and found that felines of all sizes take advantage of a perfect balance between two physical forces: gravity and inertia. The results were published in the Nov. 11 online edition of the journal Science. Read a news story.
November 10, 2010
One process commonly used to produce carbon nanotubes, or CNTs, may release several hundred tons of chemicals into the air each year. In a paper published last week on the ACS Nano website, Professor Phil Gschwend, alumna Desiree Plata and co-authors report that removing one step in that process could reduce harmful emissions by at least tenfold and, in some cases, by a factor of 100. It also could cut the amount of energy used in the process by half. Read a news story.
November 10, 2010
Spider silk, an amazingly strong and resilient natural material built out of weak components, has many properties that cannot yet be duplicated in man-made materials. Professor Markus Buehler and his research team have found that this strength develops from the arrangement of small pieces in the essential structure into larger patterns in different ways at different scales. By using cleverly designed structures, Buehler suggests that engineers could produce materials with almost any kind of desired properties, even using a very limited set of inferior components. Read a news story.
November 9, 2010
A team with two CEE students and an alumna won the $100,000 first prize in the ConocoPhillips Energy Prize last month, beating about 150 competitors from around the country. CEE doctoral student Matthew Orosz led Team STG, which plans to use solar energy to provide heat, hot water and electricity for schools and clinics in the developing world. Doctoral student Amy Mueller and alumna Elizabeth Wayman ’04, S.M. ’06 (mechanical engineering) are members of the team, which also won the MIT Ideas Competition in 2005. Professor Harold Hemond is research advisor to Orosz and Mueller and has been involved in developing the science and technology behind the pilot project in Lesotho. Read a news story.
November 2, 2010
An international team of scientists led by Professor Roman Stocker and including CEE graduate student Tanvir Ahmed found that certain sulfurous chemical compounds in the ocean act as cues for microbe-microbe interactions that have the potential to influence climate locally and globally. Read a news story.
November 2, 2010
Professor Philip Gschwend is recipient of an Excellence in Review award from Environmental Science & Technology (ES&T), a journal of the American Chemical Society. The award recognizes outstanding reviewers and pays homage to their significance in the research publication process. The announcement appears in the Nov. 1 issue of ES&T. Read the story.
October 26, 2010
The International Journal of Applied Mechanics selected a paper by CEE graduate students Zhao Qin and Steve Cranford, former visiting graduate student Dr. Theodor Ackbarow, and Professor Markus Buehler as a best paper published in the journal during 2009 and 2010. “Robustness-Strength Performance of Hierarchical Alpha-Helical Protein Filaments” was the cover story for the inaugural issue of the journal in March 2009. The paper shows that by using the hierarchical nanostructures as found in biology's construction materials, engineers can create synthetic materials with unusual properties, such as a combination of exceptional strength and robustness.
October 22, 2010
Global financial turmoil, rising labor costs in developing countries and volatility in the price of oil can disrupt a company's entire supply chain and threaten its ability to compete. In Professor David Simchi-Levi's new book, "Operations Rules: Delivering Customer Value through Flexible Operations" (MIT Press, 2010), he identifies a set of scientifically and empirically based rules on issues such as price, product characteristics and information technology to help companies transform their operations and supply chain management. More information.
October 21, 2010
Working with a student-spawned company, One Earth Designs, environmental engineering graduate Wesley Koo '09 helped write the business plan for a low-cost solar cooker that won the top prize in the Netherlands Green Challenge. The lightweight portable device not only cooks food and boils water, but also provides home heating and generates power for lights or cellphones. The students hope the device will provide a healthy alternative to the common practice of cooking and heating homes with wood and yak dung. Read more.
October 21, 2010
Eric Adams was awarded the 2010 Ig Nobel Prize in chemistry for disproving the adage that oil and water don’t mix. Adams and his co-investigators Scott Socolofsky S.M. ’97, Ph.D. '01 and Stephen Masutani shared the prize with British Petroleum, one of the funders of a research project completed in 2000 that demonstrated that most oil from a spill in the deep ocean would in fact mix with water, rather than rise directly to the surface. Read the news story.
October 12, 2010
On Oct. 5, Professor Franz-Josef Ulm delivered the Maurice A. Biot Lecture hosted by the Department of Civil Engineering and Engineering Mechanics at Columbia University. Ulm dedicated his lecture,” Poromechanics: From Atoms to Concrete Structure,” to Olivier Coussy, who died earlier this year. The Biot Lecture honors the late Professor Maurice Anthony Biot, who was a professor of mechanics at Columbia University.
October 12, 2010
Charisma F. Choudhury Ph.D. '07 was selected as a receipient of the 2010 Gordon Newell Memorial Prize for her doctoral work at MIT with Professor Moshe Ben-Akiva. The prize is awarded by the Hong Kong Society for Transportation Studies (HKSTS) for the best dissertation paper in the field of transportation completed within the last three years by a researcher of Asian origin. Choudhury is now an assistant professor in her home country at the Bangladesh University of Engineering and Technology. She will receive the prize at the HKSTS annual conference in Hong Kong in December. More information.
October 12, 2010
CEE junior Monica Oliver's UROP research from spring 2010 led to the publication of a role play simulation that will be used as a teaching tool in Harvard Law School's Program on Negotiation. "Helping Cities Adapt to Climate Change Risks" helps city officials and other stakeholders understand the technical and policy issues created or exacerbated by climate change, particularly issues at the interface of urban planning and civil engineering, such as housing retrofits. Professor Lawrence Susskind of the Department of Urban Studies and Planning supervised Oliver's research. More information.
October 12, 2010
CEE Professors Pedro Reis and Markus Buehler and doctoral student Dipanjan Sen recently collaborated on a research project with Konstantin Novoselov, winner of this year's Nobel Prize in physics for his discovery of graphene (with Andre Geim). Graphene, a single-atom thick sheet of graphite, is an exceedingly strong and highly conductive material. Read more.
September 30, 2010
With EAPS, DUSP and MITEI, CEE co-sponsored a half-day symposium Sept. 28 on lessons learned from the Gulf oil spill. Researchers at the symposium said that it should be possible to drastically reduce the chances of a repeat occurrence, and if there is another, responders should be able to deal with it more rapidly and effectively than before. Read a news story or view the video on MIT World.
September 30, 2010
A profile and Q&A with Parsons Lab administrative assistant Jim Long appears in the Sept. 10 issue of Goldmine magazine, a publication about recording artists, recordings, memorabilia and collectors. Jim has been collecting music recordings since age six, when he bought his first single, The Police's "Don't Stand So Close To Me." He also tinkers with vintage audio and video equipment. Read the interview.
September 30, 2010
MIT has selected CEE postdoctoral associate Hector Hernandez as a Martin Luther King Jr. Scholar, one of eight who will work on campus this academic year. Hernandez received his Ph.D. in chemistry from MIT in 2008 and since then has worked in the lab of CEE Professor Janelle Thompson on a study of deep-earth microbes in environments with very high levels of carbon dioxide. Hernandez's work is part of a larger project to understand the biochemical reactions associated with the subsurface injection of CO2. Read a news story.
September 30, 2010
Using Killian Court as a testing ground over the summer, CEE senior research associate John Germaine measured pore pressure in soils for a fraction of the cost of previous tests made using a drilling rig in the Gulf of Mexico. Germaine and colleagues are developing a new probe for determining soil pore pressure and ground temperature. Read a news story.
September 24, 2010
Fred Moavenzadeh, the James Mason Crafts Professor of Civil and Environmental Engineering and Systems Engineering, was named president of the Masdar Institute of Science and Technology last spring and began his new responsibilities in Abu Dhabi in July. The institute, which was developed with the support and collaboration of MIT, is a not-for-profit, post-graduate research institute dedicated to alternative energy, environmental technologies and sustainability. Read a news release.
September 22, 2010
Doctoral student Simon Laflamme gave a seminar Sept. 22 to the Center for Dynamics of Complex Systems, the Nonlinear Dynamics Group, and the Theory of Chaos Group at the University of Potsdam, Germany. His talk, "Self-Organizing Inputs for Black-Box Modeling of Large-Scale Nonstationary Dynamic Systems," is based on his research with Professor Jerome Connor. See the other seminar series titles.
September 22, 2010
Professor Joseph Sussman was invited to give the keynote speech at the World Bank Transportation Sector’s annual meeting Sept. 8, after members of the organization saw a video of a similar talk he gave at MIT last spring. That talk, “Transportation in Contemporary Society: A Complex Systems Approach,” is available for viewing on MIT World.
September 22, 2010
Professor Cynthia Barnhart of CEE and the Engineering Systems Division has been appointed acting dean of the School of Engineering effective Sept. 8. Subra Suresh, the current dean, will be on sabbatical leave for the fall semester. In June, he was nominated by President Obama to be the next director of the National Science Foundation, an appointment that awaits Senate confirmation. Barnhart will continue her duties as associate dean for academic affairs and director of the Transportation@MIT initiative. Read the news story.
September 15, 2010
A poster by graduate student Rouzbeh Shahsavari on the "Transferability of Empirical Force Fields" received the Best Poster award from the American Ceramic Society, Cements Division at the organization's annual meeting held at Purdue University in July. And at the Engineering Mechanics Institute's 2010 conference in August, Shahsavari's paper, "From Atoms to Microstructure of Cement Hydrate," was one of five finalists for Best Paper.
September 15, 2010
Researchers at MIT including CEE's Professor Pedro Reis have conducted a variation on Galileo Galilei’s experiments on the motions of falling and rolling objects on an inclined plane. While Galileo used rigid materials for his tests, Reis and fellow researchers carried out experiments using flexible, hollow cylinders to derive a set of equations to describe the behavior of these “rolling ribbons.” Read a news story.
August 30, 2010
In May, NASA announced that the Airborne Microwave Observatory of Subcanopy and Subsurface (AirMOSS) mission has been selected as one of the first Earth Venture projects, which use new technologies to monitor Earth systems through remote sensing. From a NASA airplane, AirMOSS will take measurements related to the ecosystem's net carbon exchange. Professor Dara Entekhabi is a co-investigator on AirMOSS. Read a NASA press release.
August 30, 2010
During the 2009-2010 academic year, Transportation@MIT hosted a series of presentations by MIT faculty members about their transportation research. The presentations were videotaped and are now available for viewing. To see the collection of the Transportation@MIT 2009/2010 presentations, please visit the MIT World site.
August 30, 2010
Professor John Ochsendorf and students prepared a full-scale prototype of a timbrel vault for an exhibit in the National Design Triennial at the Cooper-Hewett, National Design Museum in New York City. The timbrel vault demonstrates that elegant design in a robust structure can be had using inexpensive locally available materials. The Design Triennial runs through Jan. 9, 2011. Read an article about Ochsendorf in the July/August issue of Smithsonian magazine available online.
August 30, 2010
Professor Franz-Josef Ulm gave a presentation at the 2009 Falling Walls Conference, which commemorated the 20th anniversary of the fall of the Berlin Wall. The conference was organized by the Einstein Foundation. Ulm's talk was on "Breaking the Wall of Concrete Pollution: How Green Concrete Can Reduce the Giant Carbon Footprint of Construction." See the video at the Falling Walls site.
August 30, 2010
The cover of the May 2010 special issue of The Proceedings of the IEEE on "Remote Satellite Sensing: Monitoring Water, Carbon and Global Climate Change" features an artist's rendition of the satellite in NASA's Soil Moisture Active Passive (SMAP) mission. CEE's Professor Dara Entekhabi is the Science Team Leader for SMAP, which will measure the moisture in the Earth's surface soil and areas of frozen and thawed soil, measurements that will improve the numerical modeling of weather prediction and climate projection. The mission is expected to launch in 2014 or 2015.
August 26, 2010
Despite government reports that most of the oil from the Deepwater Horizon spill has dispersed, researchers have confirmed the existence of a huge plume of oil that is dissipating slowly. Richard Camilli S.M. ’00, Ph.D. ’03 reported in Science Aug. 20 that the plume could remain in the Gulf for many months. Camilli is using TETHYS cycloidal membrane inlet mass spectrometers, which are based largely on commercialization of technology developed in Professor Harry Hemond's lab by Camilli and others. Read the New York Times article.
August 26, 2010
Service workers at MIT sometimes lack English language skills, but have few opportunities to study. Thanks largely to efforts by CEE administrative assistant Nancy Kelly, MIT now runs four classes plus tutoring sessions specifically to help these workers improve their English and their job prospects. Read a news story.
August 11, 2010
The salp, a smallish, barrel-shaped organism that resembles a kind of streamlined jellyfish, may help remove carbon dioxide from the upper ocean by processing tiny particles into pellets that sink, say researchers including CEE Professor Roman Stocker. Read more.
June 14, 2010
June 4, 2010
The regionally top-ranked MIT Steel Bridge Team placed sixth at the national competition at Purdue University May 29, an extraordinary feat for this young team of undergraduates in its fourth year of participation. MIT ranked first among private universities. Read a news story.
June 4, 2010
CEE graduate Travis Dunn, who just completed his Ph.D. in transportation, has received a Fulbright scholarship to live in Mexico next year to study advanced transportation technologies for mobility, the environment and economic development. Dunn’s thesis research, which was supervised by Professor Joseph Sussman, focused on the design and evaluation of alternative frameworks for strategic investment decision-making in transportation infrastructure in Portugal. Read Dunn's TRB blog.
May 20, 2010
Provost Rafael Reif today released the report of the Environmental Research Council (ERC), chaired by CEE Professor Dara Entekhabi, and asked the council to design an implementation plan for launching an MIT Environmental Initiative in January 2011. Reif also announced creation of an Energy and Environment Board, which will be co-chaired by CEE department head Professor Andrew Whittle and Professor Ernest Moniz of physics. The board will advise the ERC on implementation of the MIT Environmental Initiative and its coordination with other campus activities and organizations, including the MIT Energy Initiative, which is directed by Moniz. Read a news story.
May 19, 2010
Juniors Connie Liu (1E) and Khalea Robinson (1C) were MIT Burchard Scholars during spring 2010. The Burchard Scholars Program brings together distinguished members of the faculty with sophomores and juniors who have demonstrated excellence in some aspect of the humanities, arts or social sciences for a series of dinner-seminars with discussions on current research topics. For more information, see the Burchard Scholars website.
May 18, 2010
Graduate students Mike Szulczewski and Birendra Jha received Outstanding Student Paper Awards for the work they presented at the fall meeting of the American Geophysical Union. Jha's paper is titled "Numerical Simulation of Mixing in Viscous-Fingering Displacements." Szulczewski's is titled "Suppression of Mixing in Miscible Viscous Fingering in a Hele-Shaw Cell." Both Jha and Szulczewski work with Professor Ruben Juanes.
May 17, 2010
Faculty, staff and students of the Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering recognized graduating seniors, department award winners and retiring faculty members at the annual awards dinner held Friday evening, May 14 at the MIT Faculty Club. Department head Professor Andrew Whittle served as master of ceremonies. He thanked Professor Chiang Mei and Professor David Marks, who will retire in July, for their years of dedicated service to the department, and congratulated Professor Steven Lerman on his new position as provost and executive vice president for academic affairs at George Washington University. After presenting graduating seniors with frames for their diplomas, Whittle announced the evening’s award winners. Read news story.
May 14, 2010
Professor Marta C. González was a member of the organizing committee of the NetSci 2010 International School and Conference on Network Science, held last week at Northeastern University and MIT. González was also on the scientific committee for NetMob, a related workshop on the analysis of mobile phone networks held at the MIT Media Lab the day before NetSci 2010. Other organizers of NetSci were Albert-Laszlo Barabasi of Northeastern University and Harvard Medical School, Cesar Hidalgo of Harvard University, and Ginestra Bianconi of Northeastern.
May 14, 2010
In March, Professor John Williams gave a series of talks in India on the need for smart electrical grids that will allow homes and businesses to draw power from the main grid at times that will save money, and help eliminate the need for additional power plants. Williams traveled with MIT's Professional Education Program (PEP) as part of the MIT/Accenture Collaboration to make presentations at Accenture Bangalore, Accenture Mumbai, and the K.J. Somaiya Unviersity Mumbai, where he was given a red-carpet welcome. More about PEP.
May 14, 2010
CEE doctoral student Rouzbeh Shasavari and MIT Sloan School of Management M.B.A. candidate Natanel Barookhian won the MIT $100K Business Plan competition Wednesday evening, with their startup plan for C-Crete Technologies. The idea for C-Crete is built around discoveries made last year at MIT about the molecular structure of cement. New nano-engineered cement could greatly reduce the carbon dioxide emissions associated with the manufacturing of cement and be stronger as well. Read a news story.
May 14, 2010
Senior lecturer and senior research associate John Germaine was one of three invited speakers at the 13th George F. Sowers Symposium held at Georgia Tech, May 11. Germaine's talk on “A Perspective on Geotechnical Laboratory Testing: The Details Matter” was on the bill with a talk by David Potyondy of Itasca Consulting Group on rock fracture modeling in nuclear waste isolation, and a talk by David Daniel of the University of Texas on lessons learned from the failure of levees during Hurricane Katrina. The symposium honors Sowers, a civil engineer and geologist, who was on the faculty of the Georgia Institute of Technology for 50 years.
May 14, 2010
The poor air quality of Los Angeles provides the setting for first-year graduate student Anthony Carrasquillo to study a polluted urban environment. Anthony, who works with Professor Jesse Kroll and postdoctoral associate Eben Cross on problems in atmospheric chemistry, will deploy a novel instrument to measure the composition of all organic compounds in the gas phase. This project is part of the CalNex 2010 campaign that has engaged more than 40 atmospheric science groups to compile a comprehensive data set that will improve our understanding of atmospheric chemical processes that affect human health and global climate change. Read Anthony Carrasquillo's blog.
May 12, 2010
Three teams in senior lecturer Susan Murcott’s D-Lab class (jointly taught with Alice Amsden), “Disseminating Innovations for the Common Good,” won prizes at the MIT IDEAS Competition May 3. The Grease Project team, which includes CEE seniors Sara Barnowski and Samantha Fox, received a $3,000 award for its project to improve the livelihood of catadores, who collect waste vegetable oil in Brazil. With a network of partners, the team designed an inexpensive, low-tech conversion method that allows diesel vehicles to run on waste vegetable oil. The team combined the technology with training workshops and a novel dissemination plan. My City, My Future received a $3,000 award for developing innovative ways to empower youth in the slums of Rio de Janeiro. PieceMeal Vendors won the $1,000 Community Choice Award for designing hygienic, stable and affordable street vendor carts. Read more.
May 10, 2010
Students in the Transportation Students Group participated recently in the second COMTO-MIT Speaker Series in collaboration with the New York Council of Minority Transportation Officials. CEE graduate students Sam Hickey and Caroline Rose Ducas organized the April 19 event, which is an offshoot of the MIT Distinguished Speaker Series in Transportation. The COMTO-MIT Speaker Series began last year when, instead of having New York transportation officials travel to Cambridge, students traveled to New York to interact with transportation leaders there and tour some of the major NY transportation centers. Speakers included the chairman and CEO of the Metropolitan Transit Authority and the executive director of the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey. Tour sites included the NYC DOT Traffic Management Center, the MTA's Rail Control Center and Power Control Center, and the Brooklyn Battery Tunnel. Download a pdf of the event schedule.
May 10, 2010
CEE graduate student Samantha O’Keefe and senior research engineer Howard Herzog of the MIT Energy Initiative conducted a survey to learn about the public's attitudes toward climate change, energy and the environment. The survey showed that Americans expressed less urgency about dealing with climate change than they did in 2006 — but still far more than they did six years ago.
Read a news story.
May 10, 2010
A consortium involving MIT-Portugal Program Transportation Systems and IST-Lisbon has been awarded a $3.5 million, five-year grant from the Volvo Research and Education Foundation to establish a Center of Excellence on Bus Rapid Transit. The consortium is headed by Juan Carlos Muñoz of the Pontificia Universidad Católica de Chile, who will spend next year at MIT hosted by CEE. MIT collaborators include CEE Professor Nigel Wilson; Chris Zegras, assistant professor in the Department of Urban Studies and Planning; and Fred Salvucci, senior lecturer in CEE. Read a news story.
May 10, 2010
May 10, 2010
Sophomore Tiffany Cheng (1E) won an Ilona Karmel Writing Prize. Cheng received the Writing and Humanistic Studies Prize for Engineering Writing for her paper, “Testing the Unintended Consequences of Lignin Reduction in Genetically Modified Trees on Trophic Interactions.” See the list of award winners.
May 5, 2010
Hamlin Jennings, who is known among academic and industry researchers for his influential work on the fundamental chemistry of cement, will be the inaugural executive director of the Concrete Sustainability Hub (CSH), a research center established last fall at MIT in collaboration with the Portland Cement Association (PCA) and Ready Mixed Concrete (RMC) Research & Education Foundation. Jennings will leave a tenured faculty position at Northwestern University to lead the CSH, taking up his new responsibilities at MIT beginning July 1, where he will also hold the position of adjunct professor in MIT’s Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering, administrative home of the CSH. Read a news release.
May 5, 2010
Three CEE graduate students — Zenzile Brooks, Kari Hernandez and Jessica Molly Patrick — were named Graduate Women of Excellence by the Office of the Dean for Graduate Education. They and others were celebrated at an event Friday evening, May 7 at the MIT Museum with keynote speaker Robin Chase, MIT alumna and founder of ZipCar. Brooks and Patrick were nominated by their peers and are being honored for doing "amazing work while paving the way for future graduate women." More information or to RSVP.
May 5, 2010
Senior Naomi Stein was one of two MIT students to receive the 2010 AMITA (Association of MIT Alumnae) Senior Academic Award at the MIT Awards Convocation May 4. The award is given to women students for outstanding academic accomplishment. Also at the convocation, senior Polina Bakhteiarov received an Albert G. Hill Prize for maintaining high academic standards and making contributions to the improvement of the quality of life for minorities at MIT. One of three Laya and Jerome B. Wiesner Awards went to senior Sriniwasan Balaji Mani for his musical talent. Junior Aissata Nutzel was awarded the Ronald E. McNair Scholarship Award, which recognizes a black undergraduate who has demonstrated strong academic performance and community service. Senior Danny Perez received the Louis Sudler Prize in the Arts for his work in theater arts. CEE Professor Steve Lerman, who is vice chancellor and dean for graduate education, received the Gordon Y Billard Award. See the list of winners.
May 5, 2010
Fred Salvucci, senior lecturer and senior research associate in CEE and former Secretary of Transportation for the Commonwealth, will be honored by the Boston Preservation Alliance (BPA) at a gala May 13. Salvucci and former Governor Michael Dukakis will be presented the BPA's first Living Icons award for "their vision in conceiving Boston's Central Artery Project and fortitude in making it a reality." The BPA is a nonprofit organization interested in protecting Boston's architectural heritage.
May 5, 2010
At the April 21 Institute faculty meeting it was announced that Markus Buehler, the Esther and Harold E. Edgerton Associate Professor in CEE, will receive the 2009–2010 Harold E. Edgerton Faculty Achievement Award. The award is given annually to a non-tenured MIT faculty member in recognition of exceptional teaching and research. Buehler will receive the award at a ceremony at Gray House (the president's residence) later this spring.
May 5, 2010
Thirteen students were welcomed into Chi Epsilon, the civil and environmental engineering honor society, at the society's annual dinner ceremony, held this year on April 12 at the MIT Museum. New initiates are seniors Sam Fox, Brooke Jarrett, Shammi Quddus, Julia Roberts and Adam Talsma, and juniors Carolyn Crull, Edna Ezzell, Fatima Hussain, Alex Jordan, Emily Moberg, Khalea Robinson, R.N. Tharu and Kate Turner.
May 4, 2010
On Monday, May 10, from 7:30 to 10 p.m. in Lobby 13, students from the Terrascope freshman learning community will present their research on ways to reduce the concentrations of carbon and other greenhouse gases in the atmosphere. The Terrascopers have been focusing on this problem all year, and during the spring semester they worked in teams to develop prototypes, models and examples of real, workable solutions. CEE's Professor Charles Harvey is lead teacher for the course. Read about Terrascope.
May 4, 2010
Professor David Simchi-Levi will speak at the Sustainability Gala 2010, an evening celebration associated with the Sustainable Supply Chains Conference to be held June 2 on the Noordwijk coast of The Netherlands. Simchi-Levi will give a talk on "Supply Chain Management and the Agenda of the CEO," presenting research results from his large-scale study on the challenges specific to European supply chains. His presentation will be followed by a talk from Kofi Annan, former Secretary General of the United Nations and a Nobel Peace Prize winner. Go to the event website.
May 4, 2010
Patricia Glidden, CEE graduate admissions coordinator, received an Infinite Mile Award from the School of Engineering at a ceremony April 28. In presenting the award, Assistant Dean Eileen Ng-Ghavidel praised Glidden's management of the admissions process, saying: "The challenge of making sure stray transcripts and letters of recommendations are matched with application folders going out to approximately 40 faculty reviewers can be a daunting task. However, Patty manages to keep the process moving all the while maintaining a relaxed and confident attitude… Her quick thinking and adaptability to new software resulted in an online application site that not only made the review possible but reduced delivery time for applications to the admissions committee." Ng-Ghavidel quoted a nominator as saying, "Patty not only maintains a superior work ethic and attitude, but promotes an equal level of excellence in her colleagues." Read a news story.
May 4, 2010
Nearly 1 billion people do not have access to clean drinking water. The problem is particularly dire in Ghana. Part of the problem is that large, centralized water filtration and sanitation systems aren’t designed to reach remote areas like northern Ghana, according to Susan Murcott, a senior lecturer in CEE. Murcott has been distributing affordable ceramic water filters in the region through Pure Home Water (PHW), a nonprofit she co-founded with local partners in 2005. To date, PHW has sold and distributed the filters to more than 100,000 people, and the goal is to reach 1 million people by 2015. Read a news story about this work. Read Travis Watters' student blog about this work.
May 4, 2010
On Wednesday, May 5, students in the CEE senior capstone course (1.013) will test their bridges in front of the Student Center between 1-3 p.m. Six teams will put together and load-test their portable bridges, all of them original designs different from previous years. Come out and see the show!
May 4, 2010
The May 3 entry on the Alumni Association's "Slice of MIT" blog was about the Steel Bridge team's victory at the regional competition in early April. Read the blog.
April 28, 2010
Professor John Williams, CEE postdoc David Holmes, and Peter Tilke, a visiting scientist in the Department of Earth, Atmospheric and Planetary Sciences, have developed software that exploits the idiosyncrasies of multicore chips to improve performance. In experiments involving chips with 24 separate cores — or processors — simulations of fluid flows were at least 50 percent more efficient with the new software than they were with conventional software. And that figure should only increase with the number of cores. Read the news story.
April 27, 2010
On Thursday, April 29, MIT Provost Rafael Reif will give the 9th annual Miller Lecture at 4 p.m. in Room 34-401B. The Miller Lecture honors the memory of Professor Charles L. Miller, who served as CE (in those days) department head from 1962-69. CEE co-sponsors this event with the Engineering Systems Division. Provost Reif will address "Challenges and Opportunities Facing MIT: A View from the Provost's Office." More info.
April 22, 2010
CEE alumnus Bob Whittier '51 was project manager for construction of the Monsanto House of the Future, a futuristic house set in 1986, developed by MIT and Monsanto Co. in the 1950s and displayed at Disneyland from 1957 to 1967. The late CEE alumnus Frank Heger '48, one of the founders of Simpson Gumpertz & Heger, was the construction engineer, and the house was designed by MIT architecture faculty members Marvin Goody and Richard Hamilton. It was made of plastic and included microwave ovens, speaker phones and electric toothbrushes, among other now commonplace items. Whittier donated drawings and photographs of the Monsanto House to the MIT Museum, where they will be on display in association with a talk by the museum's architecture curator, Gary Van Zante, as part of the Cambridge Science Festival. "Back to the Future: A 1950s House of the Future" will be presented Thursday, April 29 from 3 to 4 p.m. at the museum.
April 21, 2010
Three CEE seniors are among the 80 MIT students elected to the Phi Beta Kappa Society this year. Membership in the national honor society recognizes academic excellence and educational commitment. Kelcie Abraham, Nicholas Murlo and Naomi Stein will be inducted at the annual Phi Beta Kappa dinner and ceremony at MIT Thursday, June 3.
April 21, 2010
Kortney Adams S.M. '00 plays the role of a mural painter, Emma, in the world premiere of "From Orchids to Octopi: An Evolutionary Love Story," a play commissioned by the National Institutes of Health to celebrate the 150th anniversary of Charles Darwins' "On the Origin of Species." The play is written by Melinda Lopez and performed by the Catalyst Collaborative@MIT. In a review in the Boston Globe, Louise Kennedy writes, "Kortney Adams projects both warmth and intelligence, making Emma quite believably a passionate artist, a loving wife and expectant mother, an intellectual seeker...and a woman who just happens to dream about extinct talking fish." The play runs through May 2 at the Central Square Theater.
April 14, 2010
The MIT Steel Bridge Team walked away from the regional competition at Tufts University last weekend with first place in five categories: 1st Overall, 1st in Efficiency, 1st in Stiffness, 1st in Aesthetics, and 1st in the Paper Competition. Freshman Scott Landers, who will be majoring in 1E, represented the team in the paper competition. He received a score of 86.5, beating out the second-place Tufts paper presentation, which earned a score of 85.8. This is the fourth year that MIT has competed in the competition. The 2009 team won three first-place prizes at the regional competition, for Overall, Structural Efficiency and the paper competition, and placed 18th out of 47 at Nationals. The 2010 National Student Steel Bridge Competition will be held May 28-29 at Purdue University. Read the team blog.
April 14, 2010
For his work on transport modeling, Professor Moshe Ben-Akiva will receive a Ph.D. honoris causa from the University of Antwerp, Belgium, April 29. The next day, Ben-Akiva will present a special seminar, "Planning and Action in a Model of Choice," as the closing plenary session of a colloquium sponsored by the university's Department of Transport and Regional Economics.
April 7, 2010
Alan Berger, an associate professor of urban design and landscape architecture, is planning to use wetlands to clean up the Pontine Marshes, a farming area in the Italian countryside just south of Rome. Decades ago, canals -- now heavily polluted -- were built to drain the marsh so it could be used for farmland. Berger proposes to replace those straight, polluted canals with a series of winding canals containing plants that will help cleanse the water. He turned to CEE Professor Heidi Nepf, who has done extensive studies of water flow in wetlands, for help testing his designs. The research team included CEE graduate student Jeff Rominger. Read more.
April 7, 2010
Last December, CEE junior Aaron Thom, co-president of Sustainability@MIT, and Katherine Dykes, vice president of the MIT Energy Club, represented MIT at a workshop convened by the University of Copenhagen and Yale University as a side event for the 2009 United Nations Climate Change Conference in Copenhagen. The objective of the workshop was to discuss how universities can minimize environmental damage and promote sustainable solutions. Thom and Dykes presented the results of a campus survey that inventoried MIT campus initiatives in energy and sustainability.
March 25, 2010
Professor Roman Stocker has been named recipient of the 2010 Lindeman Award from the American Society of Limnology and Oceanography (ASLO) for his work on bacteria-phytoplankton interactions at small scales. The annual award — named in honor of Raymond L. Lindeman (1915-1942), whose work laid the foundation for research on the flow of energy in plant and animal communities — recognizes an outstanding paper written by an aquatic scientist age 35 or under. Stocker is being recognized for a paper co-written with Justin Seymour, now a lecturer at the University of Technology of Sydney, Dana Hunt Ph.D. ’08, Professor Azadeh Samadani of Brandeis University and CEE Professor Martin Polz. “Rapid Chemotactic Response Enables Marine Bacteria to Exploit Microscale Nutrient Patches” was published in PNAS March 18, 2008. Stocker will give a talk June 7 at the ASLO meeting in Santa Fe. A webcast of the talk will be available. Read a press release about the PNAS paper.
March 25, 2010
The MIT Sea Grant College Program has selected Janelle Thompson, assistant professor in the Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering, as the recipient of the 2010 Doherty Professorship in Ocean Utilization. She will receive a supplemental award of $25,000 per year for two years. Thompson's proposed research for the Doherty Professorship will focus on understanding the host-associated microbial communities (microbiome) in corals, their activity in response to environmental stress and to lesions caused by White Plague disease. Read the news release.
March 24, 2010
Gerhard Hermann Jirka, an internationally known environmental fluid mechanician and an alumnus and former lecturer in the MIT Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering (CEE), died Feb. 14 after suffering a heart attack several days earlier. He was 65 years old. Read the obituary.
March 24, 2010
Sevara Melibaeva, an M.S.T. student from Uzbekistan, has been awarded a position in the World Bank’s prestigious Young Professionals Program. Melibaeva will begin work at the bank's headquarters in Washington, D.C., in September. Her first two years will be spent rotating among several positions to gain experience, after which she'll be assigned a permanent role. The focus of her work will be on transportation projects funded by the World Bank in developing countries, including policy dialogue with governments and assistance in developing and implementing sustainable transport infrastructure and services. This will be Melibaeva's second stint with the bank; after earning an M.B.A. in Tashkent and a master’s degree from Columbia University’s School of International and Public Affairs, she was a member of a World Bank team working on sustainable development in transportation in Europe and Central Asia. AT MIT, she is working with Professor Joseph Sussman on construction of a high-speed rail system between Lisbon and Porto, in research funded by the MIT-Portugal Program.
March 15, 2010
A new analysis of the structure of silks explains the paradox at the heart of their super-strength, and may lead to even stronger synthetic materials. Silks are among the toughest materials known, stronger and less brittle, pound for pound, than steel. Now scientists led by CEE's Professor Markus Buehler have unraveled some of silks' deepest secrets in research that could lead the way to the creation of synthetic materials that duplicate, or even exceed, the extraordinary properties of natural silk. Buehler, doctoral student Sinan Keten, postdoctoral associate Zhiping Xu and 1C junior Britni Ihle describe their research in a paper published March 14 in Nature Materials. Read news story at MIT News.
March 9, 2010
Hundreds of MIT community members snapped photos on Sept. 24, 2009 as part of the A Day in the Life of MIT project. For its own gallery, TechnologyReview.com then selected one picture for each hour of the day, including a photo by James Long, administrative assistant in the Parsons Lab, whose photo “Morning commute: the #71 bus, Watertown to Harvard Square” ran in the 7 a.m. slot. An accomplished photographer with degrees from the Art Institute of Boston and Vermont College, Long always carries a small camera after what he called “way too many instances of wishing I had one.” Senior Naomi Stein’s photo of a Copenhagen street ran in the 10 a.m. slot. Other CEE students who submitted photos include sophomore Mike Chen, senior Aaron Thom and graduate student Tina Lai. To see Long’s and Stein’s photos, go to TechnologyReview.com.
March 4, 2010
In a News and Views article appearing in the March 4 issue of Nature, Professor Markus Buehler and postdoctoral associate Zhiping Xu comment on a paper by Antonio Pons and Alain Karma that makes an important contribution to the study of a fracture mechanism found under mixed mode loading. In "Materials Science: Mind the Helical Crack," Buehler and Xu say that the "cracking process is complex, and predicting the path a crack will take remains a challenge. Part of the difficulty is that cracking is a multiscale phenomenon — that is, it depends on mechanisms that operate across multiple length scales." Buehler and Xu also review opportunities for future research in this area. Read the article in Nature.
March 4, 2010
Santiago native Eduardo Kausel, a professor in CEE, is an expert in structural dynamics and earthquake engineering. In an interview with MIT News, Kausel explains why Chile’s stronger earthquake late February led to less-catastrophic damage than the earthquake that struck Haiti in January. He also explains some of the risks that could be associated with a sizable earthquake in Boston, and why the philosophy behind building codes may be changing. Read the article on MIT News.
March 4, 2010
MIT Vice Chancellor and Dean for Graduate Education Steven R. Lerman '72, SM '73, PhD '75 has been named George Washington University’s next provost and executive vice president for academic affairs, GW President Steven Knapp announced March 3. Lerman is scheduled to take up his new responsibilities on July 1. He came to MIT CEE as an undergraduate student and joined the faculty after obtaining his Ph.D. Read the article at MIT News.
March 3, 2010
In the wake of recent earthquakes in Chile and Haiti, Melissa Block of All Things Considered interviewed CEE Professor Eduardo Kausel, a native Chilean who began studying earthquakes after the Great Chilean Earthquake of 1960. Kausel and Block talked about how strict building codes help safeguard both people and buildings. The interview aired Monday on NPR. Listen at NPR.org.
March 3, 2010
Course 1E junior Emily Moberg is president of CEESA, the Steel Bridge team blogger, an actress, and a DeeJay. Moberg's radio show, Terravoice, airs Wednesday evenings 9 to 9:30 p.m. on MIT's WMBR 88.1 FM. Described as "the Institute's loud and proud environmental radio show," Terravoice features news, music and interviews. Catch the first broadcast of the semester tonight when the host interviews CEE Professor Phil Gschwend. Listen online at wmbr.org.
February 19, 2010
Two CEE professors — Cynthia Barnhart and Andrew Whittle — were among the 68 new members and nine foreign associates elected to the National Academy of Engineering, MIT President Emeritus Charles M. Vest, NAE president since 2007, announced this week. Election to the National Academy of Engineering is among the highest professional distinctions accorded to an engineer. Academy membership honors those who have made outstanding contributions to “engineering research, practice or education, including, where appropriate, significant contributions to the engineering literature.”
February 19, 2010
Professor Emeritus Robert Whitman is winner of the Earthquake Engineering Research Institute's 2010 George W. Housner Medal, the highest honor awarded by EERI. In the news release, EERI says: "For more than 30 years, Bob Whitman’s teaching at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and his leadership in the earthquake engineering field contributed to improved seismic building codes, better understanding of complex soil behavior during earthquakes, and analytical and design methods used worldwide. His technical and policy contributions lie at the foundation of much that is now the state of knowledge and state of practice in risk assessment and mitigation ... In summary, Bob’s scholarship and public service in seismic safety changed the landscape in US earthquake engineering." Read more.
February 19, 2010
CEE postdoctoral fellow Kurt House was named to Technology Review’s TR 35 2009, a list of 35 “young innovators” under age 35. Technology Review selected House for his work with Professor Charles Harvey on ways to capture and safely store carbon dioxide emissions. Read more.
February 19, 2010
U.S. Secretary of Transportation Ray LaHood reappointed ITS America members Joseph M. Sussman and Robert Denaro as chair and vice chair of the U.S. DOT ITS Program Advisory Committee. LaHood also re-named ITS America Board chair Ann Flemer, President and CEO Scott Belcher, and other ITS America members to serve on the Congressionally mandated advisory body. Sussman is the JR East Professor in the Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), where he has served as a faculty member for over 40 years. Robert Denaro is the vice president of NAVTEQ, a leading company in digital map data and content. Find out more.
February 19, 2010
Papers by CEE postdoctoral associate Naeem Abdulhadi and two CEE doctoral students — Rebecca Gianotti and Ásbjörg Kristinsdóttir —have been accepted for the final round of the Graduate and Student Paper competition of the regional affiliate of the Institution of Civil Engineers (ICE). Abdulhadi's paper is titled, "Behavior of Resedimented Clay at High Consolidation Stresses"; Gianotti's is titled, "The Potential for Environmental Management to Contribute to Malaria Vector Control in Western Niger"; and Kristinsdóttir's is titled, "Risk Management for New Power Plant Development." The winner will be selected from 10 papers on April 20 in New York. Find out more.
February 5, 2010
Streaming matter! Exploding organisms! Sinking particles! These are some of the things that populate the world of oceanic bacteria, providing the microorganisms with nutrition and perhaps exercise as they race for food. An image illustrating this concept, prepared by a team including CEE’s Professor Roman Stocker, was selected by Science magazine to grace the cover of its Feb. 5 issue. Read an interview with the team.
February 5, 2010
MIT students recently established a campus chapter of Engineers Without Borders and adopted their first project: providing electricity and clean water to a health clinic in southern Uganda. But in typical MIT student fashion, the MIT Engineers Without Borders group plans to expand the stated mission of the project to include improvements to the drinking water quality and distribution system for the entire village, if they can raise the necessary money. Read more.
February 3, 2010
Professor Sallie (Penny) Chisholm, the Lee and Geraldine Martin Professor of Environmental Studies in CEE and biology is the recipient of the Alexander Agassiz Medal from the National Academy of Sciences for her “original contribution in the science of oceanography.” The NAS is honoring Chisholm for “pioneering studies of the dominant photosynthetic organisms in the sea and for integrating her results into a new understanding of the global ocean.” She will receive the award at a ceremony in April. Read more.
February 3, 2010
U.S. Department of Energy Secretary Steven Chu announced in January that 69 scientists from across the nation, including CEE’s Professor Ruben Juanes, will receive five-year research grants as part of DOE’s new Early Career Research Program. The effort is designed to bolster the nation’s scientific workforce by providing support to exceptional researchers during the crucial early career years, when many scientists do their most formative work. Awardees were selected from a pool of 1,750 applicants. Selection was based on peer review by outside scientific experts. Juanes will work on the project, “Nonequilibrium Physics and Phase-Field Modeling of Multiphase Flow in Porous Media,” which will be funded by the Office of Basic Energy Sciences. Read more.
February 2, 2010
In 2000 and 2001, the northern Portuguese city of Porto experienced three tunnel accidents. One woman died in the 2001 incident, when a tunnel that was part of the city’s Metro system collapsed under her house. Helping to prevent these kinds of accidents motivated Rita Sousa’s doctoral research in MIT’s Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering (CEE) for the past several years. Read more.
Earth’s own heat could provide vast amounts of clean electricity, and current MIT research could help make it
February 2, 2010
Grants recently awarded to MIT researchers by the U.S. Department of Energy could help to pave the way for a method of generating electricity that produces no greenhouse gas emissions, and that could become a major contributor to meeting the world’s energy needs. Most energy analysts agree that geothermal energy has enormous potential because it is available all the time, almost anywhere on Earth, and there is enough of it available, in theory, to supply all of the world’s energy needs for many centuries. Herbert Einstein, professor of civil and environmental engineering, was the recipient of one of the new DoE grants. Read more.
January 15, 2010
Three MIT professors last week were honored at the White House as recipients of the Presidential Early Career Award for Scientists and Engineers (PECASE), the highest award bestowed by the U.S. government on scientists and engineers in the early stages of their independent research careers. MIT’s three PECASE recipients this year are Markus J. Buehler, the Esther and Harold E Edgerton Career Development Associate Professor of Civil and Environmental Engineering; Joel L. Dawson, the Mark Hyman, Jr. Career Development Associate Professor of Electrical Engineering; and Professor of Mathematics Scott R. Sheffield. Read more.
January 15, 2010
Carl Zimmer, a contributing editor and columnist for Discover magazine, speaks to Professor Penny Chisholm in his Jan. 8 podcast about her work wih the marine microbes "that make a lot of the oxygen on which we survive, and who sees the ocean as a giant sea of virus-shuffled genes for harvesting sunlight," writes Zimmer on the Discover website. Hear the podcast.
January 13, 2010
Effective this month, Professor Patrick Jaillet is the new co-director of the Operations Research Center (ORC), replacing Professor Cynthia Barnhart, who has held the post since 2006. Jaillet, who was head of the Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering (CEE) from 2002 until Sept. 2009, will represent the School of Engineering in the ORC leadership, which he will share with co-director Dimitris Bertsimas, a professor in the Sloan School of Management. Jaillet is on the faculty of the Department of Electrical Engineering and Computer Science with a joint appointment in CEE. He is also a member of the Laboratory for Information and Decision Systems.
January 11, 2010
January 6, 2010
As one of the five new Xerox-MIT Fellows, CEE graduate student Amy Mueller will receive full tuition for 2009-2010. The program supports top-tier students in the School of Engineering, particularly women and underrepresented minorities who are engaged in research in areas such as green technologies, imaging and smart-document technology, nanotechnology and systems design. Mueller's project on simultaneous in-situ sensing of the full ionic content of fresh water falls under the green technologies category. "From Xerox's point of view, this should be interesting for monitoring process waters within their production and manufacturing centers, and for monitoring the effluent from these buildings," Mueller said. She will continue to work closely with her faculty advisor, Professor Harold Hemond, as well as with a practicing engineer at Xerox, Grace Brewington, who will be her fellowship advisor. Read more.
January 6, 2010
Graduate student Rory Clune has been awarded the Marvin E. Goody Award for spring 2010 for his thesis proposal, "The Immersed Environment Approach to User-Controlled and Algorithmically Driven Explorative Structural Design." The $5,000 award goes to an MIT graduate student in any department at MIT who is expecting to complete his or her Master's thesis at the end of the following term and whose thesis explores the bond between good design and good building, extends the horizons of existing building techniques and materials, and fosters links between the academic world and the building industry.
January 4, 2010
Ocean waves could theoretically generate an estimated 10 to 100 megawatts of renewable energy per kilometer of coastline. Several pilot installations already harvest wave power, and the first commercial wave farm began operating off the coast of Portugal in 2008, but has since been put on hold. Among the dozens of designs for wave power extraction devices, none is dominant or in commercial development. MIT Professor Chiang Mei focuses on power extraction from short waves induced by wind To provide engineers with predictive tools, his team is developing theoretical models for both single-buoy units and arrays of smaller units. Read more in the December issue of On Balance.
December 8, 2009
The second issue of Komaza, a student-run magazine focused on international development work, will be available on newsstands around campus beginning today, Dec. 8. The professionally designed magazine is unique in its presentation of student-written articles about students who are involved in development projects in locations like Lesotho, Tibet and Brazil. This issue contains an article written by CEE doctoral student Rebecca Gianotti about the work of another CEE doctoral student, Amy Mueller. Read more.
December 8, 2009
Professor Joseph M. Sussman will give the 2009 Thomas D. Larson Transportation Lecture at Penn State today, Dec. 8. The Larson Lecture honors Tom Larson, a Penn State alumnus, professor and co-founder of the Larson Institute for his singular contributions to the university and the transportation field. Sussman is the JR East Professor of Civil and Environmental Engineering and Engineering Systems at MIT. He will speak about the urgent need to address the nation’s essential transportation systems in a lecture titled, “Transportation in Contemporary Society: A Complex Systems Approach.” Read more (pdf download).
November 16, 2009
Researchers led by Professor Charles Harvey in MIT's Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering believe they have pinpointed a pathway by which arsenic may be contaminating the drinking water in Bangladesh, a phenomenon that has puzzled scientists, world health agencies and the Bangladeshi government for nearly 30 years. The research suggests that human alteration to the landscape, the construction of villages with ponds, and the adoption of irrigated agriculture are responsible for the current pattern of arsenic concentration underground. Read more.
November 12, 2009
Many adults can trace their choice of profession straight back to something that captured their imagination during childhood — perhaps an inspiring teacher, or a fascinating book or an intense experience. The Cool Careers book series for grades four to six features lively short biographies of scientists and engineers, including CEE senior lecturer Susan Murcott ’90, S.M. ‘92, to show children how these professionals found a way to follow their passions. Read more.
November 10, 2009
On Oct. 29, a panel of venture capitalists and industry specialists selected civil and environmental engineering doctoral student Rouzbeh Shahsavari as winner of the 2009 MIT Elevator Pitch Contest for his idea for a company based on Nanoengineered Concrete. The contest, which is open to MIT students from across its five schools, neighboring colleges and Boston-area entrepreneurs, allows competing teams 60 seconds to deliver a persuasive elevator pitch to the panel of judges. Read more.
November 10, 2009
For the 34th consecutive year, Parsons Laboratory students, faculty, staff and family members celebrated Halloween with a pumpkin carving party and dinner. Close to 120 people attended this year’s party Oct. 30, creatively transforming 58 pumpkins into glowing art. Babies in elaborate costumes watched the events from their parents’ arms, while older children and even teenagers enjoyed the tradition of creating scary faces. Many children of faculty and staff have attended the parties for years, with some now bringing their own children. Read more.
November 2, 2009
As part of its “Year of the Professor” campaign throughout 2009, ASTM International (formerly the American Society for Testing and Materials) has chosen CEE senior research associate John Germaine as its Professor of the Year. ASTM established the award to recognize and reward the contributions of educators in the standards development process and in fostering students’ understanding of standards. The ASTM International campaign intends to expand student knowledge and awareness of technical standards, and provides college and university educators with tools and informational programs to help them teach their students about the benefits of standardization. As part of the campaign, Germaine will present a webinar at 10 a.m. Dec. 18, "Incorporating ASTM Standards into University Curricula." Read more.
MIT teams up with three universities in Singapore to develop smart, sustainable urban transportation solutions
November 2, 2009
The Massachusetts Institute of Technology and the National Research Foundation of Singapore announced a project to develop new models and tools for the planning, design and operation of sustainable future urban transportation. The five-year project will be led by Amedeo Odoni, Professor of Aeronautics and Astronautics and of Civil and Environmental Engineering. At the heart of the Singapore project is SimMobility, a simulation platform with an integrated model of human and commercial activities, land use, transportation, environmental impacts, and energy use. This simulation will be linked with a range of networked computing and control technology-enabled mobility innovations. Read more.
October 28, 2009
A book written by Doherty Associate Professor Charles Harvey and recent alumnus Khandaker Ashfaque about their research tracing the source of arsenic in Bangladeshi wells was published in the summer. “Arsenic Mobilization in Groundwater: A Case Study in Bangladesh” (VDM Verlag, June 2009) describes the co-authors’ findings on research carried out for six years beginning in 2001. The authors write: “Naturally occurring arsenic in groundwater has emerged as a global problem. Millions of people throughout the world are affected by arsenic poisoning in drinking water. However, very little work has been conducted to understand hydrogeochemical dynamics and the transport of arsenic. We use a small region in Bangladesh where high levels of arsenic have been found as the study area. We carried out various field experiments, laboratory analyses and numerical modeling to investigate the geochemical and hydrological impacts on arsenic mobilization in groundwater.” Ashfaque, who received his Ph.D. in 2007, is now a remediation engineer with ARCADIS Inc. working out of the Newtown, Penn. office.
October 28, 2009
The dissertation of recent graduate Emmanuel Carrier (Ph.D. 2008) received an honorable mention in the George B. Dantzig Dissertation Award competition during the INFORMS annual meeting held Oct. 11-14 in San Diego. The award recognizes dissertations that are innovative and relevant to the practice of operations research and the management sciences. Carrier’s dissertation, "Modeling the Choice of an Airline Itinerary and Fare Product Using Booking and Seat Availability Sata," was nominated jointly by MIT and Amadeus, a global distribution systems (GDS) of travel products and a provider of software solutions to the travel industries. Amadeus was a partial sponsor of Carrier’s graduate research and provided the data used in his dissertation, which was supervised by Professor Moshe Ben-Akiva and Peter Belobaba, principal research scientist in aeronautics and astronautics. Carrier is now working at AI Systems in Kirkland, Wash.
October 13, 2009
David Simchi-Levi and co-author Xin Chen, assistant professor at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, won the Institute for Operations Research and the Management Sciences (INFORMS) 2009 Revenue Management and Pricing Section Prize for three papers about coordinating inventory and pricing strategies in the supply chain. The citation refers to the work “as seminal papers of the field.” Read more.
October 7, 2009
In a Perspective piece in a July issue of Science magazine, Professor Roman Stocker and graduate student Mack Durham describe different methods of marine microbe motility and the possible advantages conferred on the microbes by these methods. “Tumbling for Stealth?” provide perspective on another research team’s discovery that the “synchronization of the flagella in Chlamydomonas reinhardtii governs the movement of this green alga through water, a key determinant of its ecological fitness.” Read more.
October 5, 2009
In the Aug. 28 issue of Science magazine, writer Susan Gaidos invited 13 winners of the Presidential Early Career Awards for Scientists and Engineers (PECASE) to share their career advice. CEE’s Markus Buehler, the Esther and Harold E. Edgerton Associate Professor, encouraged his peers to take risks in research — “Don’t be afraid to think and pursue what is ‘different!’” — and communicate their work to a broad audience. Read more.
October 5, 2009
Concrete is the most widely used building material on the planet; however, the production of some of its component materials accounts for up to 5 percent of global carbon dioxide emissions annually. To address the sustainability and environmental implications of the use of concrete as the backbone of our housing, schools, hospitals and other built infrastructure, including highways, tunnels, airports and rail systems, MIT today announced the creation of the Concrete Sustainability Hub, a research center established at MIT in collaboration with the Portland Cement Association (PCA) and Ready Mixed Concrete (RMC) Research & Education Foundation. Read more.
September 9, 2009
In the 2,000 or so years since the Roman Empire employed a naturally occurring form of cement to build a vast system of concrete aqueducts and other large edifices, researchers have analyzed the molecular structure of natural materials and created entirely new building materials such as steel, which has a well-documented crystalline structure at the atomic scale. Oddly enough, the three-dimensional crystalline structure of cement hydrate — the paste that forms and quickly hardens when cement powder is mixed with water — has eluded scientific attempts at decoding, despite the fact that concrete is the most prevalent man-made material on earth and the focus of a multibillion-dollar industry that is under pressure to clean up its act. A paper published online in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (PNAS) this week announces the decoding of the three-dimensional structure of the basic unit of cement hydrate by a group of MIT researchers who have adopted the team name of Liquid Stone. Read more.
September 9, 2009
For pioneering work on topics including computational mechanics, motion-based design and control systems for structures, Professor Jerome Connor received an honorary doctorate degree on April 29 from the Department of Civil Engineering at the Aristotle University of Thessoloniki, Greece. Connor’s former student, Professor Demos Angelides, chairman of the university’s Department of Civil Engineering, emphasized Connor’s 35-year relationship with Aristotle University. His “pioneering mind, scientific contribution, and integrity and honesty [have made] him a model and an example for the younger generation,” said Angelides. Read more.
September 2, 2009
Scientists worry that rising global temperatures accompanied by melting permafrost in arctic regions will initiate the release of underground methane into the atmosphere. An MIT paper elucidates how this underground methane in frozen regions would escape and concludes that methane trapped under the ocean may already be escaping through vents in the sea floor a million times faster than previously believed. Some scientists have associated the release, both gradual and fast, of subsurface ocean methane with climate change of the past and future. Read more.
August 27, 2009
Not one, but two special symposia honored Professor Chiang C. Mei this year. Colleagues, friends and former students honored him at a special symposium June 1-2 during the 28th International Conference on Ocean, Offshore and Arctic Engineering in Honolulu. The C.C. Mei Symposium on Wave Mechanics and Hydrodynamics included 10 sessions and more than 50 papers celebrating Mei’s extraordinary accomplishments over the last 45 years. A second symposium, the 24th International Workshop on Water Waves and Floating Bodies, held in St. Petersburg, Russia, also was dedicated to him. Conference organizers said of Mei. “[He is] one of the most outstanding researchers and educators in fluid mechanics, with applications to civil, environmental and coastal engineering.” In the published conference proceedings, former students praised his scholarship, range and depth of work, expertise, teaching and lasting influence. Read more.
August 24, 2009
Professor Andrew J. Whittle, a geotechnical engineer who served on the panel reviewing the hurricane protection systems in New Orleans following Hurricane Katrina and the Massachusetts governor’s “stem to stern” safety review of Boston’s Big Dig tunnels, will be the next head of the Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering (CEE), effective Sept. 1. Read more.
August 20, 2009
Ph.D. candidate Simon Laflamme spent three weeks in July at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign attending the Asia-Pacific Summer School (APSS) on Smart Technologies. Funded by the National Science Foundation, the APSS program gathered researchers from Japan, China, South Korea, Italy and the U.S. for lectures and labs on structural health monitoring, structural control and smart materials. Students formed eight teams of five to six people and competed on field tasks for structural health monitoring and structural control, plus oral presentations on the results. Laflamme’s team placed first with the highest combined score. “For the health monitoring task, we had to determine the modal frequencies of an existing bridge, which in our case was a two-span steel truss bridge. The second task was to design a controller to stabilize a double inverted pendulum, which was a highly nonlinear system,” said Laflamme. He also gave an invited talk, “Adaptive Neurocontrol for Civil Structures.”
August 12, 2009
Parsons Laboratory graduate students Gajan Sivandran and Sarah Jane White each received an Outstanding Student Paper Award (hydrology section) for work presented at the American Geological Society's 2008 Fall meeting in San Francisco. Sivandran, a member of the Rafael Bras group, was recognized for "An Eleven-Year Validation of a Physically-Based Distributed Dynamic Ecohydrological Model tRIBS+VEGGIE: Walnut Gulch Experimental Watershed, Arizona." White's paper, "The Rise of III-V Semiconductors and their Impact on Environmental Indium Concentrations," considered the environmental cycling of trace metals. “I study the potential impacts of metals, including indium, that are found in new semiconductor technologies such as photovoltaic panels and high-efficiency LEDs,” she explained. “The use of indium is increasing rapidly, but its environmental behavior and impacts are poorly understood. The ultimate goal is to determine the environmental impacts of industrially-important metals early on, so that new technologies can be developed sustainably.” White works with Professor Harold Hemond.
August 6, 2009
Associate Professor Markus Buehler has been selected to receive a Presidential Early Career Award for Scientists and Engineers (PECASE), the highest honor bestowed by the U.S. government on young researchers. Nine federal departments and agencies annually nominate the 100 young "scientists and engineers whose early accomplishments show the greatest promise for strengthening America’s leadership in science and technology and contributing to the awarding agencies' missions," according to a July 9 press release from the White House. The Department of Defense nominated Buehler. Awardees are selected on the basis of "pursuit of innovative research at the frontiers of science and technology and a commitment to community service as demonstrated through scientific leadership, public education, or community outreach." The PECASE comes with a multi-year research grant. Winners are invited to the White House for a ceremony with the president. Read more.
August 4, 2009
The weak tendons and fragile bones characteristic of osteogenesis imperfecta, or brittle bone disease, stem from a genetic mutation that causes the incorrect substitution of a single amino acid in the chain of thousands of amino acids making up a collagen molecule, the basic building block of bone and tendon. According to Professor Markus Buehler of MIT, that minuscule encoding error creates a defective collagen molecule that, at the site of the amino acid substitution, repels rather than attracts the collagen molecule alongside it. This creates a tiny rift in the tissue, which when repeated in many molecules, leads to brittle tissue, broken bones, deformity and, in the most severe form of the disease, death. For example, if healthy collagen tissue looked like a sheet of paper, diseased collagen tissue would look more like a sheet of paper full of tiny perforations. At each of these perforations, the sheet would be considerably more prone to tearing. Read release.
August 4, 2009
Science Magazine dedicated a special issue to the topic of complex network theory. In that issue, the editors highlighted the career of new CEE Assistant Professor Marta González. The article said: "The mathematical tools developed to study one phenomenon can yield insights into others. Physicist Marta González of the Massachusetts Institute (MIT) of Technology in Cambridge and colleagues, for example, are using mobile phone records to study people's travel patterns. By integrating methods of statistical physics, computational science, and geographic information systems with classical network theory, the researchers have been able to find patterns that could help address problems as diverse as urban traffic congestion and the spread of epidemics." Read more.
August 4, 2009
The redesigned CEE alumni newsletter, CEE In Focus, won a gold award in the Council for the Advancement and Support of Education's annual Circle of Excellence Awards in the category Tabloid and Newsletter Publishing Improvement. Monica Greenwald and Tammy Dayton of Moth Design designed the newsletter; Denise Brehm, senior communications officer for CEE, was project manager. Read CEE In Focus.
June 23, 2009
CEE graduates gathered with their families and friends in Killian Court June 5 to celebrate MIT’s 143rd Commencement exercises. Massachusetts Governor Deval Patrick addressed the graduates with a message of encouragement. “Crisis is the platform for change,” he told the graduates, referencing the worldwide financial crisis. Governor Patrick also described the positive social and economic changes that had occurred in his own family in a single generation. The Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering awarded 132 degrees in 2008-09: 14 doctorates, 19 Master of Science degrees, 14 Master of Science in Transportation degrees, 39 Master of Engineering degrees, and 46 Bachelor of Science degrees (18 in environmental engineering science, 21 in civil engineering and seven undesignated). Read more.
June 15, 2009
CEE civil engineers have for the first time identified what causes the most frequently used building material on earth — concrete — to gradually deform, decreasing its durability and shortening the lifespan of infrastructures such as bridges and nuclear waste containment vessels. In a paper published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (PNAS) online Early Edition the week of June 15, Professor Franz-Josef Ulm and recent graduate Matthieu Vandamme say that concrete creep (the technical term for the time-dependent deformation that occurs in concrete when it is subjected to load) is caused by the rearrangement of particles at the nanoscale. Read more.
June 15, 2009
A study of stickers peeling from windows could lead to a new way to precisely control the fabrication of stretchable electronics, according to a team of researchers including Pedro Miguel Reis, an instructor in the Department of Mathematics who will join the CEE and MechE faculties next summer. Stretchable electronics, which would enable electronic devices embedded into clothing, surgical gloves, electronic paper or other flexible materials, have proven difficult to engineer because the electrical wiring tends to be damaged as the material twists. A study published in the online edition of the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences the week of June 15 offers a new approach to designing such circuits. Read more.
June 15, 2009
SEED Magazine included Professor Elfatih Eltahir’s malaria research in a June 11 article profiling “the most promising and innovative approaches to fighting malaria.” The article by Maywa Montenegro accompanies a longer article about the health risks associated with using DDT in the developing world. In “Malaria: Five New Weapons,” Montenegro writes: MIT professor of civil and environmental engineering Elfatih Eltahir and graduate students Rebecca Gianotti and Arne Bomblies have developed a new computer model that analyzes the effectiveness of environmental methods of malaria control. The MIT model shows how actions like eliminating low spots where pools of water collect during the rainy season, or applying plant-derived pesticides to limit the growth of mosquitoes can have a dramatic effect on controlling malaria’s spread. Read article.
June 1, 2009
Nanoelectromechanical systems devices have the potential to revolutionize the world of sensors: motion, chemical, temperature, etc. But taking electromechanical devices from the micro scale down to the nano requires finding a means to dissipate heat output. In a paper in Nano Letters, Professor Markus Buehler and postdoctoral associate Zhiping Xu say the solution is to build these devices using a thermal material that dissipates heat from the device’s center through a hierarchical branched network of carbon nanotubes. The template for this thermal material’s design: a living cell. Read more.
June 1, 2009
Professor David Simchi-Levi, co-director of the Leaders for Manufacturing (LFM) program, announced today that the program has a new name: Leaders for Global Operations (LGO). This new identity reflects the expansion from LFM's historically broad understanding of manufacturing to encompass all aspects of operations. The program will continue to build on its strengths in production and logistics. After an extensive research process involving all the program’s constituencies, the LGO Governing Board approved the change in name and mission. The board also directed LGO to address operations challenges beyond such traditional manufacturing sectors as automotive, aerospace, and high tech manufacturing, to include supply chain retailers such as Amazon.com and Inditex, S.A. (Zara). Read more.
May 29, 2009
A book based on senior lecturer and senior research associate John Germaine’s 25 years experience teaching geotechnical and other civil engineering measurement subjects has just been published by John Wiley & Sons. “Geotechnical Laboratory Measurements for Engineers,” written by Germaine and his wife, Amy Varney Germaine ’96, S.M. ’98, covers many of the basic geotechnical tests used in undergraduate and graduate courses, as well as in commercial laboratories. “I have continually developed and revised experimental modules focused on specific tests to teach methods, theory, equipment, procedures and interpretation. This book is a greatly expanded edition of these modules,” said Germaine. “It also draws heavily on my research and consulting experience working with a wide variety of geotechnical materials. We included an online supplement providing blank data sheets, a full set of measurements for anyone trying to teach the class without a physical laboratory, and a set of instructor calculations. Getting quality results from a test often requires slight modifications to standard techniques, what many refer to as the ‘art’ of testing. We tried to capture some of this thinking in the book.”
May 27, 2009
Colleagues, friends and former students will honor Professor Chiang C. Mei at a special symposium June 1 and 2 during the 28th International Conference on Ocean, Offshore and Arctic Engineering in Honolulu. The C.C. Mei Symposium on Wave Mechanics and Hydrodynamics will include 10 sessions and more than 50 papers. The symposium will celebrate Mei’s “extraordinary accomplishments” over the last 45 years, according to the symposium website. Speakers from universities and companies around the world will discuss their own research on many related topics including sediment and seafloor dynamics, tsunamis, wave energy, ocean engineering and coastal hydrodynamics.
May 27, 2009
The Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering held its annual senior dinner and awards ceremony on the terrace of MIT’s Endicott House in Dedham on a pleasantly warm spring evening, May 15. Department head Professor Patrick Jaillet announced the winners of the Steinberg Prize, Grossman Award, Tucker-Voss Award, Trond Kaalstad (Class of 1957) Award, and the Maseeh Awards for Excellence in a Teaching Assistant and in Teaching. View slideshow and read more.
May 27, 2009
On the Wednesday of final exam week, the New England region-champion MIT Steel Bridge team headed to Las Vegas for the national competition, where the team placed 18th nationally out of 47 teams. After the two days of judging ended May 23, the MIT team’s overall score was $2.95 million, about the same as at regionals. First-ranked State University of New York at Canton had a final score $1.94 million. North Dakota State took second-place ranking with a score of $1.95 million and Lakehead University ended in third with $1.98 million. View slideshow and read more.
May 26, 2009
In recognition of his multidisciplinary work in fundamental fields, including the mechanics of structures and materials for sustainable civil infrastructures, Professor Oral Buyukozturk has been elected a Corresponding Fellow of the Royal Society of Edinburgh, Scotland's national academy of science and letters. Corresponding Fellows are internationally distinguished non-resident fellows of the society. The award citation mentioned Buyukozturk’s leading role in the improvement and advancement of engineering education in the U.S. and abroad; and his pioneering research in the mechanics of concrete and advanced composite materials, the mechanics of infrastructure deterioration and assessment, and on the remote non-destructive testing of bridges and other structures using electromagnetic waves. Read more.
May 19, 2009
Professor Ed DeLong was elected a member of the National Academy of Sciences (NAS) in April 2008 and attended the induction ceremony at this year’s NAS annual meeting in Washington, DC, April 25-27. DeLong gave a featured talk on “The Microbial Planet" and appeared on the conference schedule along with President Barack Obama, who addressed NAS members two days later. “I did get a chuckle out of being on the same speaking agenda as Barack Obama,” said DeLong, an internationally recognized marine microbiologist who was selected for membership in the NAS for his groundbreaking research on ocean microbes.
May 19, 2009
CEE doctoral students Amy Mueller and Matt Orosz recently won an Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) grant for economically sustainable programs that protect the environment. Mueller and Orosz — members of the research group of Professor Harold Hemond — have been developing solar power technology to replace polluting diesel generators in remote villages of Lesotho, Africa for several years. Their solar power generator design uses a parabolic trough to concentrate the sun’s energy; it can provide three to five kilowatts of power plus hot water. The EPA award includes a $75,000 grant to help them install a next-generation prototype solar collector at a clinic this fall or early next spring. Mueller and Orosz designed the solar plant to be built using locally available parts and labor. The ultimate goal, Mueller noted, is to teach local residents how to construct the solar power plants, thus providing a business opportunity for residents, as well as strengthening the local electricity infrastructure. Read more.
May 18, 2009
Denise Brehm, Senior Communications Officer for the Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering, received an Infinite Mile Award for Excellence from the MIT School of Engineering (SOE) last month. The Infinite Mile Awards recognize outstanding contributions by about a dozen SOE staff members annually. In presenting the award, assistant dean Donna Savicki said about Brehm: “During her tenure in the department she has taken the communication role to a whole new level by publishing a monthly newsletter, revamping the department's website (which recently won a Webby award), and raising the public's awareness of the department, school and ultimately the Institute. Her thorough approach to translating technical language into understandable and fascinating stories has created wonderful exposure for the field. She has the unique ability to communicate complex ideas in a simple understandable way, thereby bridging a potential gap between faculty researchers and the general public.” Brehm joined the department in 2006, after a decade working for the MIT News Office. Read more.
May 18, 2009
Assistant Professor Markus Buehler is executive editor of a new journal launched March 2009: The International Journal of Applied Mechanics (IJAM). IJAM focuses on innovative research in mechanics including solid mechanics, fluid mechanics, thermodynamics and material science, and in emerging areas such as biomechanics, electromechanics, and the mechanical behavior of advanced materials and nanomechanics. The inaugural issue of the quarterly journal contains an article co-written by Buehler and CEE graduate students Zhao Qin and Steven Cranford, and former visiting graduate student Theodor Ackbarow. “Our paper shows that by using hierarchical nanostructures found in biology, we can achieve unusual properties in synthetic materials, such as enabling them to combine strength with robustness,” said Buehler. "Most engineered materials cannot yet combine these opposing properties. Through our work, we hope to develop self-assembled bio-inspired materials capable of fulfilling multiple competing properties, while requiring less material and less energy to be created.” A figure from the article, “Robustness-Strength Performance of Hierarchical Alpha-Helical Protein Filaments,” depicting the structural hierarchies in a helical protein decorates the issue's cover. IJAM is available through the MIT Libraries.
May 13, 2009
An ingenious new method of obtaining marine microbe samples while preserving the microbes’ natural gene expression has yielded an unexpected boon: the presence of many varieties of small RNAs — snippets of RNA that act as switches to regulate gene expression in these single-celled creatures. Before now, small RNA could only be studied in lab-cultured microorganisms; the discovery of its presence in a natural setting may make it possible finally to learn on a broad scale how microbial communities living at different ocean depths and regions respond to environmental stimuli. Edward DeLong, a professor of civil and environmental engineering (CEE) and biological engineering, and co-authors Yanmei Shi, a graduate student in CEE, and postdoctoral associate Gene Tyson describe this work in the May 14 issue of Nature. Read more.
May 13, 2009
Graduate student Matt Orosz is one of 10 MIT students receiving a Fulbright scholarship for study abroad in the 2009-2010 academic year. Prior to beginning his graduate studies in CEE, Orosz lived in Lesotho for two years as a member of the Peace Corps. During that time, he recognized Africa's potential to implement renewable energy sources. Since then, Orosz and other MIT students have collaborated with local organizations in Lesotho to build sustainable solar power installations that local business owners can maintain. They also founded STG (Solar Turbine Group) International with a grant from the World Bank. Next year Orosz will travel to South Africa on the Fulbright to evaluate the technical, economic and social applicability of solar technology for use in low-income housing in that country.
May 8, 2009
Professor Rafael Bras returned to MIT from his post as dean of engineering at the University of California at Irvine to deliver the annual Killian Lecture and attend a symposium in his honor held March 29-30. About 50 of Bras' former students from around the world gathered for the Symposium in Honor of Rafael Bras. Events included an afternoon of speeches at Parsons Lab, where participants recounted student days amid shared jokes and raucous laughter. Friends and family members enjoyed a dinner with a slide show reflecting many of Bras' unique contributions to life at Parsons. A half-day of scientific presentations by former students preceded the Killian Lecture, which is presented each year by the winner of the James R. Killian Jr. Faculty Achievement Award, the highest honor bestowed by the MIT Faculty on one of its own. "My wonderful and happy career at MIT was made possible by extraordinary mentors, extraordinary staff and truly extraordinary students," said Bras. "To have this extended family come 'home' together to share this occasion was like a wonderful dream that I will never forget." A video of Bras' speech, "Planet Water: Complexity and Organizations in Earth Systems," can be viewed online at MIT World.
May 6, 2009
CEE Professor Phillip Gschwend was awarded the Perkins Award at MIT’s Awards Convocation May 5. The Frank E. Perkins Award, named for CEE’s own Professor Frank Perkins who served as Dean of the Graduate School from 1983 to 1995, is given each year to a professor who has served as an excellent advisor and mentor for graduate students. Gschwend has won CEE's own teaching award (the Maseeh Award) three times, and in 1995 he received the Bose Award for Excellence in Teaching from the School of Engineering. Within the field of environmental organic chemistry and geochemistry, his research group studies the environmental fates of "old" pollutants such as PAHs (polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons) and PCBs (polychlorinated biphenyl), and anticipates the environmental consequences of producing and using "new" materials such as carbon nanotubes.
May 6, 2009
A review article by CEE Assistant Professor Markus Buehler appeared in the Feb. 20 issue of the journal Nature Materials. The article, “Deformation and Failure of Protein Materials in Physiologically Extreme Conditions and Disease,” by Buehler and Yu Ching Yung of Harvard, provides a research review and presentation of case studies in the emerging field of using engineering mechanics to better understand protein-based diseases. The April 16 issue of Nature contains a Research Highlight about research by Buehler and CEE postdoctoral associate Zhiping Xu on the heat-dissipation performance of hierarchical networks composed of one-dimensional filaments at ultra-small scales (Nano Letters, March 26, 2009).
May 6, 2009
Two DLab teams mentored by Senior Lecturer Susan Murcott won top prizes at the IDEAS Competition May 4. Global Citizen Water Initiative was honored for its innovations related to Murcott’s research supported by Google.org and the Tides Foundation. The student team, which includes Jenny VanCalcar M.Eng. '07, created a global water quality map and developed very-low-cost E. coli/TC water quality test kits that use body heat for incubation. Murcott and team will take that project further this summer in Ghana and the Himalayas. The other winning team, HeatSource, developed a paraffin-based, solar-heated tile that can be enclosed in local textiles and worn against the skin to provide warmth. The tile can be used as a substitute for dung or wood fires used for space heating in Himalayan homes. Dung and wood for those fires are gathered by women and girls, who often cannot go to school because they are gathering fuel.
May 5, 2009
Fifteen undergraduates, including CEE sophomore Connie Lu, have been selected for the MIT Arts Scholars program for the 2009-10 academic year. They will join the 15 Arts Scholars currently in the program, which brings together students to explore the diverse arts available at MIT and around Boston, and to interact with fellow students, faculty artists and other experts in the art world. "I enjoy pencil and charcoal sketching, acrylic painting, screenprinting, and I've dabbled in film and digital photography," said Lu, a IE student from Sudbury, Mass. "I am especially interested in the reuse of interesting old objects and fabrics, and like to dress in secondhand clothing. In my own work, I am most inspired by the relationships and current events that surround me, and would like to learn how to convey my emotional reactions to these relationships and events through art."
April 22, 2009
CEE Ph.D. student Sinan Keten won the prestigious Silver Award at the Materials Research Society’s (MRS) spring meeting in San Francisco last week. MRS Graduate Student Awards honor and encourage graduate students whose academic achievements and current materials research display a high level of excellence and distinction and who show promise for significant future achievement in materials research. Keten, who is originally from Turkey, works with Professor Markus Buehler on the atomistic modeling of protein materials. He has co-authored more than 10 peer-reviewed papers to date.
April 22, 2009
The CEE website has been named an Official Honoree of the 2009 Webby Awards. The awards are presented each June in New York City by the International Academy of Digital Arts & Sciences and are often referred to as the Academy Awards of the Internet. Of the nearly 10,000 entries from all 50 states and 60 countries, the judges select five from each category as Official Nominees. Remaining true to the Internet ideal of equality, the winner -- or People’s Nominee -- is selected by Internet voting. The six Official Honorees (as opposed to Official Nominees) of the school/university category are a sort of runner-up distinction that recognizes remarkable achievement. CEE’s 10 peer honorees and nominees include seven art and design schools, one private high school focused on the arts, William Paterson University (two entries) and Florida State University. CEE is the only engineering program to be recognized. Site credits. Webby Awards.
Separating the good from the bad: Two-handed microbes point to new method for isolating harmful forms of chemicals
April 15, 2009
Professor Roman Stocker, graduate student Marcos, and colleagues at Brown University studying how marine bacteria move recently discovered that a sharp variation in water current segregates right-handed bacteria from their left-handed brethren, impelling the microbes in opposite directions. This finding and the possibility of quickly and cheaply implementing the segregation of two-handed objects in the laboratory could have a big impact on industries like the pharmaceutical industry, for which the separation of right-handed from left-handed molecules can be crucial to a drug’s safety. Read more.
April 13, 2009
Joseph Sussman, the JR East Professor in the Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering and the Engineering Systems Division (ESD), received the 2008 Joseph A. Martore (1975) Excellence in Teaching Award at the Annual Charles L. Miller Lecture last week. This honor is given to a full-time member of the ESD faculty or teaching staff in recognition of outstanding contributions to an ESD academic program in the areas of education and program development. The citation called Sussman “one of those rare, inspiring professors who becomes the ally of any graduate student who shares his passions.” Read more.
April 13, 2009
Joseph Sussman, the JR East Professor in the Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering and the Engineering Systems Division (ESD), appears in Good magazine’s transportation issue. In an interview with Siobhan O’Connor, he explains why the United States should spend more of its infrastructure dollars on high-speed rail and implement congestion pricing to help smooth traffic flow. Read more.
April 13, 2009
The MIT Steel Bridge Team placed first overall and won the Structural Efficiency Award at the regional competition April 5 at Wentworth Institute of Technology. The team placed first or second in every category of the competition. The victory earns the team a spot to compete at Nationals, which will be held in Las Vegas May 22-23. The day before the Regional Competition, team member Emily Moberg won first place out of 20 participants in the paper competition. This year's topic was sustainability and engineering ethics. Read the team blog.
April 13, 2009
CEE junior S. Balaji Mani is one of 26 MIT sophomores and juniors selected as Burchard Scholars in the School of Humanities, Arts and Social Sciences for 2009. The award recognizes students who demonstrate unusual abilities and academic excellence in the areas embraced by the school. Mani, an environmental engineering science major interested in water and renewable energy, is also an accomplished musician. The Chicago native has traveled to India, Senegal and Ethiopia to play and learn music. “I've always had a craving to get my hands on all the different sounds that I love in music,” said Mani, who plays guitar, drums, piano, Ethiopian harp and Indian instruments. For several semesters he has performed with Rambax, MIT's Senegalese percussion group. This month, his pop music band, The Pears, will enter a contest judged by Rolling Stone magazine at Boston’s Paradise Rock Club, and release its debut album, “Flavors.” Mani also serves as arts editor of The Tech, MIT's student newspaper.
March 30, 2009
Two CEE people were included in the Spring 2009 issue of MIT Spectrvm: Professor Heidi Nepf and graduate student Amy Mueller. Mueller’s work with the Solar Turbine Group is featured in the cover story, “Here Comes the Sun.” Nepf’s research on aquatic vegetation is the subject of “Restoring Balance: Plant Life Can Help Repair Damage to Nature.” Spectrvm is a publication of MIT’s Office of Resource Development. Read more.
March 30, 2009
Professor Markus Buehler, graduate student Sinan Keten and sophomore Britni Ihle, along with nine other MIT students and faculty members, spent spring break in Aachen, Germany, at a week-long course: “The 2009 Aachen-MIT Spring School on Methods and Tools for Computational Engineering.” The goal of the course, which was supported financially by MIT MISTI and the MIT Germany Program, was to bring together researchers and students from RWTH Aachen University and MIT to advance the role of computation and foster new collaborative activities. As computations play an increasing role in science and engineering, a range of computational technologies needs to be mastered and used concurrently in order to fully exploit the unique potential of those technologies for automating model development and selection, identifying scale interaction mechanisms, or optimally controlling or designing engineered systems. “The participation of undergraduate and graduate students in this effort is a crucial element and we hope to facilitate future student exchange during the Spring School,” said Buehler.
March 30, 2009
The American Society for Testing and Materials International (ASTM) presented its highest honor, the Award of Merit, at a ceremony in June 2008 to John Germaine S.M. ’80, Sc.D. ‘82, a senior research associate in the Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering. This award is given to a member for distinguished service and outstanding participation in ASTM committee activities. A geotechnical specialist, Germaine was recognized for his contributions and leadership in developing and greatly improving existing standards, and for his longtime participation in an ASTM committee on soil and rock. Over the years he has been praised for writing new standards and revising existing standards, for leadership in administrative activities, and for outstanding contributions in research and testing leading to new standards.
February 28, 2009
Using green and blue and yellow, too, an MIT scientist and a Caldecott Award-winning author/illustrator have teamed up to produce a lavishly illustrated children’s book that explains how the sun kindles life on Earth through photosynthesis. Most people crave sunlight, especially during the cold winter months, but too few understand that the sun does much more than keep us warm. After reading “Living Sunlight: How Plants Bring the Earth to Life” (Scholastic 2009), the next generation may grow up with a better understanding of how the sun’s energy sparks green plants’ ability to photosynthesize, which makes it possible for humans to exist on planet Earth. Read more.
February 19, 2009
Not far beneath the ocean’s surface, tiny phytoplankton swimming upward in a daily commute toward morning light sometimes encounter the watery equivalent of Rod Serling’s Twilight Zone: a sharp variation in marine currents that traps billions of these single-celled organisms and sends them tumbling head over heels until a shift in wind or tide alters the currents and sets them free. Scientists are aware of these thin layers of single-celled creatures and their enormous ecological ramifications, but until now, they knew little about the mechanisms responsible for their formation. The explanation by researchers in MIT’s Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering of how these common, startlingly dense layers of photosynthetic phytoplankton form, moves the scientific community a step closer to being able to predict harmful algal blooms, a well-known example of which is red tide. The work also opens new perspectives on other phenomena, like predatory feeding by larger organisms at these ecological hotspots. Read more.
February 3, 2009
Moshe Ben-Akiva, the Edmund K. Turner Professor of Civil and Environmental Engineering received an honorary doctorate on Nov. 21 from KTH (the Royal Institute of Technology) in Stockholm, Sweden. The degree recognizes Ben-Akiva as a “visionary and leading researcher within the transport modeling field with strong links to KTH, Swedish transport organizations and the Swedish telecom industry. His unique contributions have led to the development and application of discrete choice analysis theory to transport demand models, and he is considered to be the initiator of the entire modern era within this particular area of research.” Ben-Akiva also co-edited a book titled, “Recent Developments in Transport Modeling: Lessons for the Freight Sector” (Elsevier Science, 2009), with Hilde Meersman and Eddy Van de Voorde of the University of Antwerp.
February 3, 2009
Charles Harvey, the Doherty Associate Professor in CEE, received the 2008 M. King Hubbert Award from the National Ground Water Association at its annual meeting in December. The award acknowledges major science or engineering contributions to the knowledge of groundwater research, technical papers, teaching and practical applications. The citation for the award praises Harvey's studies during 1994-2003 "as instrumental in shifting the course of transport research in groundwater” and his “trademark ability to think 'outside the box'...and to produce creative solutions that both advance the theory and the practice.” Describing work done by Harvey and his former doctoral student, Brendan Zinn Ph.D. '03, the citation describes their "simple but elegant illustration of a disconnect between reality and popular statistical models of subsurface heterogeneity," and Harvey's laboratory studies of reactive solute that "provided a quantum leap" in understanding coupled physical and chemical processes in porous media. Finally, the citation recognizes Harvey's field studies of coastal hydrology and his investigation into the large-scale public health crisis of arsenic contamination in Bangladesh.
February 3, 2009
MIT researchers who study the structure of protein-based materials with the aim of learning the key to their lightweight and robust strength have discovered that the particular arrangement of proteins that produces the sturdiest product is not the arrangement with the most built-in redundancy or the most complicated pattern. Instead, the optimal arrangement of proteins in the rope-like structures they studied is a repeated pattern of two stacks of four bundled alpha-helical proteins. In a paper published in the Jan. 27 online issue of Nanotechnology, Markus Buehler and Theodor Ackbarow describe a model of the protein’s performance, based on molecular dynamics simulations. Read more.
January 29, 2009
As part of the MIT Portugal Program, researchers from MIT and Portugal have made progress in developing traffic simulation software that could make it easier for traffic managers to analyze road conditions and ease congestion in real time. DynaMIT, a dynamic simulator based on model-based data fusion software, enables traffic engineers to integrate and analyze data from the dizzying array of information sources that have become available as a result of the proliferation of information and communications technologies—including road sensors, electronic toll collection devices, automatic video processing, global positioning systems, mobile sensor networks and smart phones. The software, developed by CEE Professor Moshe Ben-Akiva and the MIT Intelligent Transportation Systems Lab (ITS), recently underwent a successful demonstration at Brisa, Portugal’s largest toll road management company and an industry partner on the project. Read more.
A better way to pinpoint underground oil reserves: CEE mapping technology could make oil extraction more efficient
January 16, 2009
Picture this: an accurate map of a large underground oil reservoir that can guide engineers’ efforts to coax the oil from the vast rocky subsurface into wells where it can be pumped out for storage or transport. Researchers in MIT’s Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering have developed technology that can generate such a map, which has the potential to significantly increase the amount of oil extracted from reservoirs. The new technology uses the digital image compression technique of JPEG to create realistic-looking, comprehensive maps of underground oil reservoirs using measurements from scattered oil wells. These maps would be the first to provide enough detail about an oil reservoir to guide oil recovery in the field in real time. Read more.
December 23, 2008
"It has long been known that malaria can be fought by draining swamps and paving streets," Donald McNeil Jr. writes in the Dec. 22 issue of the New York Times. "But a new study by scientists at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology suggests that simpler remedies by villagers too poor to afford bulldozers or cement can also have an impact." Professor Elfatih Eltahir led this research project, which includes work by graduate students Rebecca Gianotti and Arne Bomblies, who defended his dissertation earlier this month. Read the New York Times article and a press release describing this work.
December 17, 2008
MIT researchers are working with Portuguese colleagues to design a pilot-scale device that will capture significantly more of the energy in ocean waves than existing systems, and use it to power an electricity-generating turbine. Wave energy is a large, widespread renewable resource that is environmentally benign and readily scalable. In some locations — the northwestern coasts of the United States, the western coast of Scotland, and the southern tips of South America, Africa and Australia, for example — a wave-absorbing device could theoretically generate 100 to 200 megawatts of electricity per kilometer of coastline. But designing a wave-capture system that can deal with the harsh, corrosive seawater environment, handle hourly, daily and seasonal variations in wave intensity, and continue to operate safely in stormy weather is difficult. To help engineers design such devices, Chiang Mei, the Ford Professor of Engineering in the Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering, and his colleagues developed numerical simulations that can predict wave forces on a given device and the motion of the device that will result. Read more.
December 17, 2008
It’s no simple matter to figure out how regional changes in precipitation, expected to result from global climate change, may affect water supplies. Now, a new analysis led by MIT researchers has found that the changes in groundwater may actually be much greater than the precipitation changes themselves. Conversely, the analysis showed in some cases just a 20 percent decrease in rainfall could lead to a 70 percent decrease in the recharging of local aquifers — a potentially devastating blow in semi-arid and arid regions. The research was conducted by Gene-Hua Crystal Ng, a postdoctoral researcher in MIT’s Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering (CEE), along with King Bhumipol Professor Dennis McLaughlin and Bacardi Stockholm Water Foundations Professor Dara Entekhabi, both of CEE, and Bridget Scanlon, a senior researcher at the University of Texas. The results were presented Wednesday, Dec. 17, at the American Geophysical Union’s fall meeting in San Francisco. Read more.
December 15, 2008
CEE researchers Professor Roman Stocker and post-doctoral fellow Justin Seymour have created a microbial ecosystem smaller than a stick of gum that sheds new light on the plankton-eat-plankton world at the bottom of the aquatic food chain. The work, reported in the January print issue of American Naturalist, may lead to better predictions of marine microbes’ global-scale influence on climate. Through photosynthesis and uptake of carbon compounds, diverse planktonic marine microorganisms — too small to be seen with the naked eye — help regulate carbon flux in the oceans. Carbon flux refers to the rate at which energy and carbon are transferred from lower to higher levels of the marine food web, and it may have implications for commercial fisheries and other ocean-dependent industries. The MIT study is one of the first detailed explorations of how sea creatures so small — 500,000 can fit on the head of a pin — find food in an ocean-size environment. Read more.
December 11, 2008
Researchers at MIT recently found an elegant solution to a sticky scientific problem in basic fluid mechanics: why water doesn’t soak into soil at an even rate, but instead forms what look like fingers of fluid flowing downward. Scientists call these rivulets “gravity fingers,” and the explanation for their formation has to do with the surface tension where the water—or any liquid—meets the soil (or other medium). Knowing how to account for this phenomenon mathematically will have wide-ranging impact on science problems and engineering applications, including the recovery of oil from reservoirs and the sequestration of carbon underground. The solution reported in the Dec. 12 issue of Physical Review Letters by co-authors Luis Cueto-Felgueroso and Ruben Juanes involves borrowing a mathematical phrase, if you will, from the mathematical description of a similar problem, a solution both simple and elegant that had escaped the notice of many researchers in earlier attempts to describe the phenomenon. Read more.
December 11, 2008
Graduate student James Vanzo has just been awarded the Marvin E. Goody Award to support his thesis, "Nanochemomechanical Analysis of Cement Paste Subjected to Carbonation." The $5,000 award is given to MIT graduate students in any department whose work explores the bond between good design and good building, extends the horizons of existing building techniques and materials, and fosters links between the academic world and the building industry. Professor Franz Ulm is Vanzo’s thesis advisor. Yaniv Junno Ophir, a graduate student in the Architecture Studies program, also received an award for his thesis, titled "Programmable Space: An AI Approach to Programmatic Organization in Architecture." Members of the award committee are Marilyne Andersen, assistant professor in the Department of Architecture; Professor Yung Ho Chang, head of the Department of Architecture; Professor Herbert Einstein of CEE; and Professor Patrick Jaillet, CEE department head.
December 1, 2008
To prevent global warming, researchers and policymakers are exploring a variety of options to significantly cut the amount of carbon dioxide that reaches the atmosphere. One possible approach involves capturing greenhouse gases such as carbon dioxide at the source -- an electric power plant, for example -- and then injecting them underground. While theoretically promising, the technique has never been tested in a full-scale industrial operation. But now MIT engineers have come up with a new software tool to determine how much CO2 can be sequestered safely in geological formations. Ruben Juanes, assistant professor of civil and environmental engineering, and co-author CEE graduate student Michael L. Szulczewski reported this work Nov. 18 at the 9th International Conference on Greenhouse Gas Control Technologies (GHGT-9), held Nov. 16-20 in Washington, D.C. Read more.
December 1, 2008
Two MIT students, Matt Gethers and Alia Whitney-Johnson, have won prestigious Rhodes Scholarships to study next year at Oxford University in Britain. Whitney-Johnson is a senior in civil & environmental engineering, former Truman Scholar and one of Glamour Magazine's Top Ten College Women. In 2005, she founded Emerge Global, a non-profit organization that seeks to empower young Sri Lankan mothers - many of them children themselves - made pregnant through rape and incest. Whitney-Johnson plans to continue her education in international development, so that she can expand Emerge Global and found similar organizations elsewhere and has therefore decided to undertake the MSc course in development studies at Oxford's Queen Elizabeth House. Read more.
October 24, 2008
Two faculty members in CEE received grants through the MIT Energy Initiative Seed Fund Program in September: Markus Buehler for a project on bioinspired thermal materials and Harry Hemond (with Ahmed Ghoniem of mechanical engineering) for a solar heat and electricity project. The two projects were among 17 that will share more than $1.7 million in grant funds. Read more.
October 24, 2008
Anthony Guma, who graduated in June with a master's degree in Real Estate Development, won the MIT Center for Real Estate Alumni Association's best thesis award in September. Professor Richard de Neufville of CEE was Guma’s research and thesis advisor. De Neufville teaches that planners should build flexibility into design, because the function of a building, transit system, airport, etc. may vary substantially over time. In his research project, Guma analyzed how flexibility can allow a developer to take advantage of changes in the real estate market. His thesis, "A Real Options Analysis of a Vertically Expandable Real Estate Development," deals with a 30-story office building in downtown Chicago to which an additional 24 stories are currently being added.
October 24, 2008
CEE Professor Markus J. Buehler’s new book, titled “Atomistic Modeling of Materials Failure” (Springer 2008), was published in July. Intended as a reference for engineers, materials scientists and researchers in academia and industry, the book provides an introduction and an overview into the field of atomistic-based computational solid mechanics. Atomistic studies have helped Buehler and others develop new theories and insight into how cracks occur in brittle materials and how nanomaterials deform. “The main question we are concerned with is how materials fail under extreme conditions, and how the microscopic or macroscopic failure processes are related to atomistic details,” Buehler wrote in the book’s introduction. He describes how researchers can use new nanotechnology methods to create structures at the scale of single atoms to study a material’s failure.
October 15, 2008
Graduate student Rory Clune is winner of Britain and Ireland’s most prestigious award for science and engineering undergraduates: the GKN Award for the Science, Engineering and Technology Student of the Year. The GKN Award (named for the British engineering firm) is given to the top student out of 15 winners of Science, Engineering & Technology Student (SET) Awards. Clune won the SET award in the mechanical engineering category--Bentley Motors Award for the Best Mechanical Engineering Student--for his undergraduate work at University College Cork on shape optimization of stainless steel coronary stents. He and his research advisor, Denis Keliher, who was named Lecturer of the Year, received their awards at a ceremony in London Sept. 26 attended by more than 500 people. Clune began his graduate study in the Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering in September on an MIT Presidential Fellowship. More information.
October 13, 2008
Dara Entekhabi, the Bacardi and Stockholm Water Foundations Professor in the Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering, director of the Parsons Lab and director of the Earth Systems Initiative (ESI), will serve as chair of the new MIT Environmental Research Council announced last week by President Susan Hockfield. The council's first task will be to develop a proposal early next year for creation of an Institute-wide Environmental Initiative comparable to the MIT Energy Initiative. "The main goal of such an initiative would be to understand how the Earth system works, so that we can approach sustaining life on Earth in a rational way," Entekhabi said. Professor Sallie Chisholm and Martin Polz of CEE are also on the 13-member council. Read more.
October 13, 2008
Many lives and dollars could be saved if emergency managers could make better decisions when faced with an approaching hurricane. Now, MIT student Michael Metzger, who works with Professor Richard Larson of CEE and the Engineering Systems Division, has developed a computer model that could help do just that. Metzger's software could help emergency managers decide early on whether and when to order evacuations, and to do so more efficiently by evacuating people in stages according to population category. The tool could also help planners optimize the location of relief supplies before a hurricane hits. By analyzing data from 50 years of hurricanes and detailed information on several major ones, and by comparing the information available as a hurricane approached with data from the actual storm's passage, Metzger produced software that provides a scientifically consistent framework for planning. Metzger, who is a research assistant in the Engineering Systems Division and a Ph.D. student in the Operations Research Center, received a second-place award from the U.S. Department of Homeland Security for this work. Read more.
October 13, 2008
Emmanuel Carrier, who earned the Ph.D. in transportation earlier this year, won the Anna Valicek Medal from the Airline Group of the International Federation of Operations Research Societies in September for his paper describing his modeling of the behavior of airline passengers. The paper is based on Carrier’s doctoral research, which models how different categories of airline passengers choose itineraries and fares. For example, for some business travelers, schedule is the most important factor in decision-making; for other business travelers and most leisure travelers, ticket price is more important. Ultimately airlines can use this model to help make decisions for pricing and revenue management. Moshe Ben-Akiva, the Edmund K. Turner Professor of Civil and Environmental Engineering, and Peter Belobaba, principal research scientist in the Department of Aeronautics and Astronautics, supervised Carrier’s thesis research. Carrier now works in Kirkland, Wash., at AI Systems, a company that develops software for airlines. Read more.
October 8, 2008
Professor Richard de Neufville of the Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering and the Engineering Systems Division will receive the Francis X. Mc Kelvey Award from the Transportation Research Board, a division of the National Research Council, at its annual meeting in January. The Mc Kelvey Award recognizes individuals whose work has contributed to the betterment of the aviation industry. In this case, it honors de Neufville’s lifelong achievements in education, research and consulting in airport planning, design and management. Read more.
October 1, 2008
Sunder, who earned the S.M. '79, Sc.D. '81 from CEE and was on the faculty for 13 years prior to joining NIST, gave a talk about the fire safety investigation he led into the World Trade Center disaster, in Room 3-270 at 4 p.m. Oct. 8. Read more.
September 25, 2008
MIT civil and environmental engineering faculty and alumni wrote most of the articles in the summer 2008 issue of the National Academy of Engineering’s quarterly magazine, The Bridge. All dealt with the urgent problems of transportation infrastructure in the United States: defective bridges, congested airports and political obstacles to properly funding a massive national repair effort. Read more.
September 25, 2008
Internships across the world provided civil and environmental engineering students with a chance to engage in research projects and explore new environments over the summer. As the largest international program on campus, MISTI (MIT International Science and Technology Initiatives) matches students with relevant projects in universities, research laboratories, corporations and NGOs in nine countries. Along with adjusting to life and work in a different culture, the students enjoy sightseeing and travel as part of the overall experience. Read more.
July 2, 2008
Professor Richard de Neufville, an expert on risk management in the design of infrastructure, was awarded a Fulbright Scholarship to participate in a Fulbright German Studies Program held in Berlin and Brussels in June. He joined 15 other U.S. academics to learn about the current German approaches to environment risk and management, in the context of the European Union. On his return, de Neufville said, "I was very impressed by the great concern with the unknown risks associated with new technologies, such as nanotechnology and genetically modified crops, which contrasts with the relative lack of effort on known environmental hazards such as smoking, high speeds on the autobahns and dirty water.” De Neufville, a professor in CEE and the Engineering Systems Division, was the founding chairman of MIT's Technology and Policy Program, which prepares graduate students for leadership roles dealing with major technological issues confronting society.
July 2, 2008
Professor Dara Entekhabi, director of Parsons Laboratory, will become the new director of the Earth System Initiative, effective July 1. Entekhabi succeeds Professor Penny Chisholm, who helped conceive of the initiative and served as its director for its first five years. “Guiding ESI has been filled with rewarding challenges and opportunities, and I have learned a lot. I am as committed to ESI as ever, and will continue to help behind the scenes,” said Chisholm. “Dara will bring new energy and new dimensions to the Initiative and I look forward to working with him as we embark on the second chapter.” ESI is an interdisciplinary research initiative dedicated to studying the physical, chemical and biological processes of planet Earth.
July 2, 2008
Ph.D. student David Gonzalez-Rodriguez is recipient of the 2008 School of Engineering Graduate Student Extraordinary Teaching and Mentoring Award, Dean Subra Suresh announced last week. Gonzalez-Rodriguez also won the CEE Maseeh Award for excellence as a teaching assistant in 2007. Department head Professor Patrick Jaillet said that the Maseeh Award faculty nominations for Gonzalez-Rodriguez were “simply exceptional and represent endorsement of the highest level.” Jaillet said that Gonzalez-Rodriguez not only received extraordinarily high praise as an undergraduate Teaching Assistant, but also as a mentor of fellow graduate students. Read more.
June 30, 2008
We know that ocean microbes act like tiny biosensors, responding quickly to changes in the environment in ways that help us clean up chemical spills or treat raw sewage. But we know little about how they do it, including the genes and metabolic pathways involved. Metagenomics—the study of genetic material of microbial communities collected from natural environments—is a burgeoning field of genetic research particularly useful for the study of ocean microbes, because they’re difficult to culture in a lab. By focusing on the microbe’s RNA transcript profile, Professor Ed DeLong of MIT’s Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering, one of the pioneers of metagenomics, now brings us a step closer to identifying which genes are active under certain conditions. Read the Summer On Balance to learn more.
June 18, 2008
NPR's Joe Palca attended Prochlorococcus Fest, a two-day celebration at MIT honoring the 20th anniversary of the discovery of the marine microbe. The fest featured a range of talks highlighting research on the smallest and most abundant oxygen-producing organism in the oceans. Palca also visited CEE Professor Penny Chisholm's lab and talked with her about the amazing little microbe. Listen to the interview. Read more.
June 6, 2008
Graduates gathered with families, friends and alumni today to celebrate MIT’s 142nd Commencement Exercises. Muhammad Yunus, winner of the 2006 Nobel Peace Prize for pioneering the microlending movement, delivered the Commencement address in a rain-drenched Killian Court. The Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering awarded 105 degrees: 22 doctorates; 14 Master of Science degrees; 18 Master of Science in Transportation; 28 Master of Engineering; and 23 Bachelor of Science degrees (seven in environmental engineering, 13 in civil engineering and three undesignated).
June 4, 2008
The Global Poverty Initiative (GPI), a group formed by 40 MIT students including environmental engineering major Connie Lu, organized the Millennium Campus Conference, held at MIT April 18 to 20.The conference sponsored a Millennium Challenge Competition for student projects that solve drinking water and sewage problems. The first and second-place teams both have civil and environmental engineering student members, again including Lu and M.Eng. students Vanessa Green and Tamar Losleben. Both teams also were advised by CEE senior lecturer Susan Murcott. Read more.
June 3, 2008
Dean for Graduate Education Steven R. Lerman, the Class of 1922 Professor of Civil and Environmental Engineering, will become MIT's vice chancellor, effective July 1, Chancellor Phillip L. Clay announced last week. In his role as vice chancellor, Lerman will serve as a full deputy in support of the chancellor on operational issues across all student and education areas for which the chancellor is responsible. Lerman will also continue as dean for graduate education. Read more.
June 3, 2008
Leading low-cost airlines with a preference for small, inexpensive airports are now the largest airlines in the United States and Europe, according to Professor Richard de Neufville, an expert on airport design and operations, who said that airport planners in major metropolitan areas need to accept this paradigm shift and build flexibility into airport design. Low-cost airlines require terminals about half the size of those of the legacy airlines, because they use space more intensively. Read more.
May 28, 2008
Rafael Bras, a professor of civil and environmental engineering who pioneered the field of hydrologic science, is MIT's James R. Killian Jr. Faculty Achievement Award winner for 2008-2009. Bras is "an internationally acclaimed researcher in surface hydrology and hydrometeorology whose work encompasses many aspects of the Earth's water cycle," said Wanda Orlikowski, chair of the Killian Award selection committee, reading from the award citation at the Wednesday, May 21 faculty meeting. Read more.
May 28, 2008
A sea-dwelling microbe of global importance discovered only 20 years ago by researchers, including CEE Professor Penny Chisholm, is the focus of a two-day "party" of sorts later this month. The Prochlorococcus Fest, to be held May 30-31 at MIT, will feature a range of talks highlighting past, current and future research on the smallest--and most abundant--photosynthetic organism in the oceans. Read more.
May 28, 2008
The MIT Steel Bridge team had a construction time of just 5 minutes at nationals May 24, but suffered a few penalties that contributed to their final cost of $3.8 million. That earned the team a #21 ranking out of 42 competing at the 2008 National Steel Bridge Competition at the University of Florida, Gainesville. Read Quinn Vollmert’s blog entry.
May 28, 2008
People living in savanna climates can easily cross the small shallow streams that exist for most of the year. However, during the rainy season, these streams swell and create impassable barriers. As part of the senior capstone course, 1.103 Civil and Environmental Engineering Design, Professor Herbert Einstein asked students to design and build strong, light bridges that could be brought out during such floods. Read more.
May 22, 2008
Wild ocean bacteria organize into professions that partition resources rather than competing for them, so that microbes with one lifestyle, such as free-floating cells, flourish in proximity with closely related microbes that may spend life attached to zooplankton or algae. This new information and the methodology behind it could change the way scientists approach the classification of microbes by making it possible to determine on a large scale, relatively speaking, the genetic basis for ecological niches, according to Professors Eric Alm and Martin Polz. Read more.
May 16, 2008
At the CEE awards dinner, the department presented the 23 graduating seniors with diploma frames signed by department head Professor Patrick Jaillet and associate department head Professor Ole Madsen. In turn, the seniors presented technical instructor Stephen Rudolph with cufflinks shaped like a saw and hammer as an expression of their appreciation for his help and mentoring during their three years in the department. Read more.
May 14, 2008
Fred Salvucci, senior lecturer in the Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering and former Secretary of Transportation for the Commonwealth of Massachusetts, wrote an opinion piece published in the Boston Globe April 30 concerning the need to support the governor’s proposal to repair the state’s deteriorating bridges. “For too long, phrases like ‘no new taxes’ or ‘fix it first' have served as substitutes for action,” Salvucci said in the op-ed. “This sugarcoating sounded nicer than the truth: passing a growing burden to the next generation and stunting economic growth in the state. Postponement of needed transit and roadwork projects has led to a backlog of $20 billion to $30 billion in projects necessary for economic growth and public safety. The practice of deliberately underfunding infrastructure investments, in the name of ‘balancing’ budgets, has been fiscally imprudent for four reasons.” The op-ed can be read in its entirety on the Boston Globe website.
May 5, 2008
The MIT chapter of Chi Epsilon welcomed seven new members into its fold April 29 with a dinner at the Faculty Club and a talk by Professor Dee Ann Sanders, the first woman to hold the honor society's elected position of National Council Vice President. Sanders spoke of changes in the engineering field since she was an undergraduate. She recalled often being the only woman student in her classes, and said that engineering courses were taught in a building with no women’s restrooms. All the new MIT members for 2008 are women. Read more.
May 5, 2008
Professor Oral Buyukozturk and Ph.D. student Tzu-Yang Yu received the 2008 American Society for Nondestructive Testing (ASNT) Fellowship Award for their work on far-field airborne radar for the condition assessment of critical civil infrastructure. ASNT is a prestigious national organization devoted exclusively to nondestructive testing technologies defined as the “science of examining components and systems in a manner that does not impair their further usefulness.” The award honors the research represented in Yu’s thesis, and will make it possible for him to remain at MIT as a Research Fellow for six months following his graduation in June. Read more.
April 29, 2008
Professor Edward F. DeLong of the Departments of Civil and Environmental Engineering and Biological Engineering was elected a member of the National Academy of Sciences today. DeLong, a marine microbiologist whose groundbreaking work on ocean microbes is internationally recognized, will also receive two other major awards this spring, from the European Geosciences Union and the American Academy of Microbiology. Read more.
April 27, 2008
Professor Rafael L. Bras, who joined the MIT faculty shortly after earning his doctorate here in 1975, and who has served as a lab director, department head, and chair of the MIT Faculty, was named last week as the new dean of engineering at the University of California, Irvine, effective Sept. 1. Read more.
April 25, 2008
MIT Professor Dara Entekhabi will lead the science team designing a NASA satellite mission to make global soil moisture and freeze/thaw measurements, data essential to the accuracy of weather forecasts and predictions of global carbon cycle and climate. NASA announced recently that the Soil Moisture Active-Passive mission (SMAP) is scheduled to launch December 2012. Read news release.
April 16, 2008
Markus Buehler, the Esther and Harold E. Edgerton Assistant Professor in civil and environmental engineering, was recognized this year with three prestigious national research awards. He received an Office of Naval Research Young Investigator Award for his research proposal, Hierarchical Nanomechanics of Amyloid Protein Fibers; a grant through the Air Force’s Young Investigator Research program to investigate structural hierarchies in biomimetic materials; and the DARPA Young Faculty Award for University Microsystems Research. For information on his research, see the Laboratory for Atomistic and Molecular Mechanics website.
April 16, 2008
CEE Senior Lecturer Susan Murcott started a nonprofit enterprise in 2005 to sell a simple, low-cost ceramic water filter system to residents of northern Ghana. The system is designed to remove bacteria, viruses and other hazards from drinking water. Seeking to help people who earn less than $1 a day, Murcott’s company, Pure Home Water, had priced the water filter system at or below cost, so PHW has depended on grants and donations to stay in business. But it turns out the price doesn’t have to be so low, at least according to MIT market research. In January, 15 MIT business and engineering students spent four weeks in Ghana conducting water tests and a survey of people's needs. Read more about the market research.
April 14, 2008
Junior Allison St. Vincent won the $5,000 Simpson Gumpertz & Heger Scholarship on April 7 at the annual “Student Night” of the Boston Society of Civil Engineers Section (BSCES) of the American Society of Civil Engineers (ASCE). The event, hosted by students in MIT’s Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering and sponsored by the department, brought together more than 60 engineers from industry and Boston-area universities for dinner at the MIT Faculty Club. Read more.
April 10, 2008
The Engineering School Alumni of the City College of New York (CCNY) have named Professor Joseph Sussman ('61 CCNY; PhD '67 MIT) to receive their 2008 Career Achievement Award. The annual award is given to graduates of the School of Engineering whose career and achievements are a source of pride to the school and to fellow alumni. Sussman, the JR East Professor of Civil and Environmental Engineering and the Engineering Systems Division, will receive the award at the group's annual meeting on May 27 in New York City. Sussman's research has focused on large transportation networks and Intelligent Transportation Systems (ITS). In February, he was elected as a fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Science for his contributions to understanding large, complex engineering systems with an emphasis on transportation, freight, and traveler systems, and for pioneering work in transportation systems education. An MIT faculty member for 40 years, he wrote a widely used graduate textbook, “Introduction to Transportation Systems” (Artech House 2000). His latest book is “Perspectives on Intelligent Transportation Systems (ITS)” (Springer 2005).
April 8, 2008
"Somewhere in an MIT lab, a researcher is this close to saving the planet. Amid all the reports of out-of-control energy costs, melting ice caps, and vanishing natural resources, the headlines, to say the least, are not encouraging. But take heart—the brilliant minds at MIT are on the case," writes Geoffrey Gagnon in Boston magazine. He goes on to name professors Ruben Juanes, Chiang Mei and Franz Ulm for their work on carbon sequestration, wave energy, and green concrete, respectively. Read article.
April 7, 2008
The Steel Bridge team placed first in construction time and second overall in the regional competition of the ASCE Steel Bridge Competition on Saturday, ensuring the team’s spot at the national competition in May. The team’s bridge design—described as a frame-supported, cable-stayed bridge—is an original that did well in the competition against girder bridges, truss bridges, and an arch bridge with a box girder deck. Northeastern University won first place in the competition with its Warren truss bridge. Scores are measured as a dollar amount, simulating costs for construction, material and robustness over time. Northeastern came in at $3.6M, MIT at $4.6M, and third-place UConn at $4.7M. Junior Lauren Biscombe placed third in the ASCE paper competition with her paper and speech on Infrastructure Privatization. Read team member Quinn Volmert’s account.
March 18, 2008
Scientists in CEE have come up with a mathematical approach for analyzing a protein simultaneously in a set of ecologically distinct species to identify occurrences of natural selection in an organism’s evolution. The new method determines the “selective signature” of a gene, that is, the pattern of fast or slow evolution of that gene across a group of species, and uses that signature to infer gene function or to map changes to ecological shifts. By reversing the usual order of inquiry—studying an organism, then trying to identify which genes are involved in a particular function—the scientists hope to hasten the understanding of microbial evolution by taking advantage of the nearly 2,500 microbes already sequenced. Read news release.
March 10, 2008
Goldfish in an aquarium are able to dash after food flakes at mealtime, reaching them before they sink or are eaten by other fish. Researchers at MIT recently proved that marine bacteria, the smallest creatures in the ocean, behave in a similar fashion at mealtime, using their swimming skills to reach tiny food patches that appear randomly in the ocean blue. Scientists in the Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering demonstrated for the first time in lab experiments that the 2-micron-long, rod-shaped marine bacterium P. haloplanktis is able to locate and exploit nutrient patches extremely rapidly, thanks to its keen swimming abilities. Read news release.
March 4, 2008
Microbes living in the oceans play a critical role in regulating Earth's environment, but very little is known about their activities and how they work together to help control natural cycles of water, carbon and energy. A team of MIT researchers led by Professors Edward DeLong and Penny Chisholm of civil and environmental engineering is trying to change that. Borrowing gene sequencing tools developed for sequencing the human genome, the researchers have devised a new method to analyze gene expression in complex microbial populations. The work could help scientists better understand how oceans respond to climate change. Read more.
March 3, 2008
Amy Mueller and Matt Orosz, graduate students in the Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering, recently designed and installed a solar array used to provide hot water to a girls’ dormitory at a rural school in southern Africa. Though the winter temperatures often drop well below freezing at the residential school in Lesotho, students in the dormitories had access to hot water only rarely. Read more.
February 26, 2008
The American Geophysical Union announced that Rebecca Neumann and Alejandro Flores, Ph.D. candidates in the Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering, have won Outstanding Student Paper Awards from the AGU’s Hydrology section. Flores paper, co-authored with Professors Rafael Bras and Dara Entekhabi, is titled “Modeling Uncertainty and Correlation in Soil Properties Using Restricted Pairing and Implications for Ensemble-Based Hillslope-Scale Soil Moisture and Temperature Estimation.” Neumann's paper, co-authored with Professor Charles Harvey, is titled “The Hydrology and Chemistry of Rice Field Recharge in Bangladesh.” Neumann and Flores presented their papers at the AGU’s fall meeting in September. Neumann spent January in Bangladesh doing additional fieldwork for the research. To learn more about that, read her blog.
February 25, 2008
Research by Professor Moshe Ben-Akiva will be featured in an episode of The History Channel’s "Modern Marvels," scheduled to air Thursday, Feb. 28 at 8 p.m. The episode, titled “Superhighways,” features a short interview with alumnus Ramachandran Balakrishna (Ph.D. 2006) describing the traffic modeling program, MITSIM. MITSIM simulates traffic the way drivers experience it—cars following each other, changing lanes, braking when the car in front slows down, etc.—and models the drivers’ responses in real-time. For more information about this and other research in the Intelligent Transportation Systems Program, see the ITS web site.
February 25, 2008
On Feb. 15, the U.S. Department of Transportation’s Research and Innovative Technology Administration announced the selection of Joseph M. Sussman to chair DOT’s Intelligent Transportation System (ITS) Advisory Committee. Sussman is the JR East Professor in the Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering and the Engineering Systems Division. The committee advises the U.S. Secretary of Transportation on the study, development and implementation of intelligent transportation systems.
February 14, 2008
Professor Markus Buehler and Ph.D. student Sinan Keten reveal that the strength of a biological material like spider silk lies in the geometric configuration of structural proteins, which have small clusters of weak hydrogen bonds that work cooperatively to resist force and dissipate energy. This structure makes protein-based materials as strong as steel, even though the hydrogen bonds that hold them together are 100 to 1,000 times weaker than the metallic bonds in steel. Read news release.
February 13, 2008
The Institute for Operations Research and the Management Sciences (INFORMS) announced that Professor Cynthia Barnhart is president of the organization, effective Jan. 1, for a one-year term. Barnhart, a professor of civil and environmental engineering and engineering systems, is co-director of MIT’s Operations Research Center and associate dean for academic affairs in the School of Engineering. Read news release.
February 6, 2008
Professor Elfatih Eltahir has been elected a Fellow of the American Geophysical Union, an honor granted every year to only 0.1 percent of AGU's 50,000 members. Fellows are elected based on their acknowledged eminence in the Earth and space sciences, and their contributions to the scientific community and the advancement of the public's understanding. In his research, Eltahir seeks to advance understanding of the fundamental hydrological processes and mechanisms that govern the role of the biosphere as characterized by vegetative cover and soil moisture conditions, in the dynamics of biosphere-atmosphere interactions, and the associated water cycle at regional scales. Specifically, his work looks at the impact of deforestation and desertification on regional water resources, the predictability of regional-scale droughts and floods, and the regional impacts of global change on water resources, agriculture and ecosystems.
February 4, 2008
MIT's Center for Transportation and Logistics (directed by Professor Yossi Sheffi of Civil & Environmental Engineering and ESD) and the Colombia-based company LOGyCA have signed an agreement creating the Center for Latin American Logistics Innovation to lead research and education in supply chain and logistics in Latin America.
New MIT environmental research program seeks to monitor air and water quality continually, pervasively around the globe
January 31, 2008
Researchers from MIT and two Singaporean universities met on January 24-25 for an inaugural workshop to launch a bold new international research program, called CENSAM. The program will develop pervasive environmental sensor networks to collect data on parameters such as air and water quality from many sources, and use this data to provide accurate, real-time monitoring, modeling and control of the environment. Read more.
January 29, 2008
An extensive subway system with lines fanning out in many directions speeds transportation in small, crowded Singapore. On April 20, 2004, during construction for the new Circle line of the subway, a deep excavation suddenly collapsed. The catastrophe killed four people, twisted steel beams, swallowed two construction cranes, and knocked out a substantial chunk of the main highway running over the tunnel. Read