Uncovering the secrets to elastin’s flexibility

February 9, 2016

PHOTO: These images produced by X-ray scattering analysis show the normal tropoelestin molecule (in green), the genetically modified version created by the researchers (in magenta), and a combined view to emphasize the areas where the two versions differ. The team found that the modified version was significantly weaker than the natural version, and used this analysis to help understand the way these molecules move and self-assemble to form elastin, an important body tissue with very elastic properties.Elastin, a crucial building block in our bodies, and its remarkable flexibility has remained an unsolved question — until now. Published in Science Advances from a team including doctoral student Anna Tarakanova SM ’15 and Department Head Markus Buehler, a new analysis of this protein-based tissue reveals the details of a hierarchical structure of scissor-shaped molecules that give elastin its properties. “The integration of experiment and modeling … yields important insights for the design of new materials that replace those in our body, or for materials that we can use in engineering applications in which durable materials are critical,” says Buehler. Read the article.

Structure of kerogen revealed

February 9, 2016

PHOTO: Images produced by the researchers show the molecular structure of different samples of kerogen and reveal the significant structural differences between "mature" kerogens, at top, and "immature" kerogens, at bottom.In a recent study published in the journal Nature Materials by a team of researchers including Professor Franz-Josef Ulm, postdoc Colin Bousige, and Research Scientist Roland J.-M. Pellenq have revealed kerogen’s internal structure, in detail down to the atomic level. The findings reveal important details about how gas and oil move through pores in formations deep underground, making it possible to estimate the amount of recoverable reserves more accurately and potentially pointing to better ways of extracting them. This understanding of the nanoscale structure of pore spaces in kerogen is “a true new idea, it’s a game changer,” says Pellenq. Read the article.

Deadline to apply for Shell Internship in India extended

February 9, 2016

PHOTO: Shell LogoMIT-India is accepting applications for several internship positions at Shell Bangalore until February 10. There are currently nine projects available to which any interested current or former student may apply. Please click here for more information on the projects and application process.

Apply for the Carroll L. Wilson Scholarship

February 9, 2016

PHOTO: Global ConnectionsThe Carroll L. Wilson (CLW) Award provides an opportunity for one current graduating MIT senior to pursue a challenging international activity in topics that will address problems in energy, health, technology, the environment, sustainability, or science. The winner will be awarded up to $35,000 and chosen on the basis of a competitive evaluation of proposals by the CLW Selection Committee. Applications for the scholarship are due by Friday, March 4. To apply or for more information, please contact Kimberly Benard at benard@mit.edu.


Call for 2016 CEE award nominations

February 9, 2016

PHOTO: CEE LogoThe deadline to submit your nominations for the 2016 CEE Awards is fast approaching! All members from the CEE community are welcome to submit a nomination to cee-awards@mit.edu no later than March 31. In your nomination package, please include any applicable documents or letters of support in a PDF file attached to the email. The complete list of awards for undergraduate students, graduate students, postdocs, staff and faculty can be viewed here.

Call for 2nd Annual Broshy Fellowship

February 2, 2016

PHOTO: HealthcareMIT’s Institute for Medical Engineering and Science (IMES) is calling for applications for the 2nd Annual Broshy Graduate Fellowship program – an opportunity for two graduate students whose work on a project holds potential to be translated into a product/service that positively impacts health care to receive $25,000 for one year toward support of stipend, tuition, and/or research expenses. The application must contain the following: (1) A nomination by the faculty advisor of the student, describing the academic achievements of the candidate and why her/his project has a reasonable chance of being translated into a commercial product that will advance human health; (2) project description and work planned in the next year; (3) the candidate’s CV and MIT transcript. The application is due by April 1, 2016. Email imes_rfp@mit.edu for more information.

Alumna appointed to U.S. Democratic Party Rules Committee

February 2, 2016

PHOTO: Smita ShahA CEE alumna has been nominated to the Democratic Party's 2016 Convention Standing Committees. Smita Shah ‘96, president and CEO of Chicago-based Spaan Tech, was officially announced as vice chair of the Rules Committee on Jan. 27. A Clinton White House staffer, Shah was a delegate at the 1996 and 2004 Democratic National Conventions and was on the Democratic National Committee (DNC) Rules Committee in 2000 and 2004. In 2012, she became the first Indian-American to serve as a Democratic National Convention parliamentarian. Read the article.

Ochsendorf discusses “Crossing the Charles” with the Boston Globe

February 2, 2016

PHOTO: 1916 MIT Moving DayAs part of MIT’s Century in Cambridge celebration, MIT will hostMoving Day at MITon May 7 – including a “Crossing the Charles” competition meant to recapture the spirit of the Institute’s momentous move in 1916 from Boston to Cambridge. The competition encourages the community to create underwater vessels, floats, and other vehicles to cross the river. “Who knows what students will come up with? Robotic fish? Solar-powered cars? Crossing the river on sailboats or rafts? The idea is that they come by land or by sea,” said Professor John Ochsendorf, event chairman. “Anyone who shows up to watch, I assure you it will be unlike anything you have ever seen before.” Read the article.

Penny Chisholm understands the ocean’s smallest creatures

February 2, 2016

PHOTO: Penny ChisholmInstitute Professor Penny Chisholm was featured in last month’s publication of the MIT Technology Review for her work on understanding complex marine ecosystems and how they will respond to global warming. Chisholm, an ecologist and marine biologist, is widely recognized for her discovery of Prochlorococcus - a type of ocean-dwelling bacterium that produces up to 10 percent of all the oxygen generated by photosynthesis on Earth each year. Tech Review quotes her work as, “critical to understanding the complexity of marine life and predicting how climate change might ultimately perturb it.” Read the article.

Polymer may offer cheaper alternative to smart windows

January 26, 2016

PHOTO: MIT postdoc Francisco López Jiménez stretches a rectangular sheet of the polymer PDMS he and his colleagues used to predict how much light is transmitted when a specific mechanical force is applied.A team of scientists led by Professor Pedro Reis has developed a theory to predict how much light is transmitted through a material and the transparency of a polymer structure as it stretches and inflates. The researchers’ newfound understanding of polymer structure may be useful in the design of cheaper materials for smart windows. “For buildings and windows that automatically react to light, you don’t have to spend as much on heating and air conditioning,” said Francisco López Jiménez, a CEE postdoc in Professor Reis’s lab. “The problem is, these materials are too expensive to produce for every window in a building. Our idea was to look for a simpler and cheaper way to let through more or less light, by stretching a very simple material: a transparent polymer that is readily available.” Read the story.

Markus Buehler named Editor in Chief of prestigious scientific publication

January 26, 2016

PHOTO: Markus BuehlerEffective January 2016, Department Head and McAfee Professor of Engineering Markus Buehler was named Editor in Chief of the scholarly publication, Journal of the Mechanical Behavior of Biomedical Materials. With a primary focus on the synthesis of materials science, biology, and medical and dental science, the publication specifically concerns itself with the mechanical deformation – damage and failure under applied forces, tribology, fatigue, creep, wear and adhesion – of biological material and biomaterials, including those designed to mimic or replace biological materials, as well as natural materials such as those found in plants and animals, at all scales from the molecular to the physiological macroscale.  The journal also co-sponsors the biannual International Conference on Mechanics of Biomaterials and TissuesMore information.

Hackathon for Climate

January 26, 2016

PHOTO: ClimateDo you have ideas for what the world should do about climate change? Join us for the Environmental Solutions Initiative (ESI) and Climate Co-Lab 2016 IAP Hackathon for Climate event on Jan. 29 from 9 am-5pm in 7-429. Spend the day developing proposals about climate change – from ways to generate electricity with lower emissions, to strategies to change public attitudes about climate. After the event continue to develop your proposals to compete for recognition and cash prizes in the various Climate Co-Lab contests. Contact Amanda Graham at AGRAHAM@MIT.EDU for more information.

Innovate with MIT Sandbox

January 26, 2016

PHOTO: MIT Sandbox InitiativeMIT Sandbox Innovation Fund Program (Sandbox), an Institute-wide program that will support student-initiated ideas, launched on Jan. 25. Grounded in education, Sandbox is a non-competitive opportunity open to all MIT students and opens pathways for all types of student innovators — whether they have a seed of an idea, a nascent technology, a specific startup in mind, or are planning the next moonshot. “The primary aim of Sandbox is to develop people, not necessarily startups or products, but the learning will be in the context of advancing an entrepreneurial venture or innovative idea — one that serves an important market or social need,” says Ian A. Waitz, dean of MIT’s School of Engineering and the originator of the program. Read the story.

Microgrids for the city

January 26, 2016

PHOTO: CitiesA study by Professor Marta Gonzalez was published last week in the journal Science Advances, and featured in an article in The Atlantic’s CityLab. The study modeled how a microgrid would look for the city of Cambridge, Massachusetts. She and her team obtained electricity bills for nearly 4,700 single-family households in Cambridge to map real-world power consumption and took data from the Pecan Street research project, a dataset of homes generating their own solar power. By merging these two samples, the scientists modeled what the city would look like with different levels of rooftop solar production. Read the article and the paper.

CEE student combines science, entrepreneurship and theater

January 26, 2016

PHOTO: TheaterThis fall, CEE student Samantha Harper ‘16 combined her passion with entrepreneurial spirit and founded the student-run Experimental Theater Company (ETC). While MIT supports organizations like Shakespeare Ensemble, Dramashop, and Musical Theatre in which students perform, Harper said her inspiration for the ETC was focused more on behind-the-scenes. “I have been looking for an opportunity for students to not only act in, but also design and produce contemporary and experimental theater on campus,” she said. “We also wanted to encourage the incorporation of other media in theatrical performance.” Harper plans to remain involved in theater after graduation while employing her Course 1 education. Read the article.

Jesse Kroll named in Thomson Reuter’s list of world’s most influential scientific minds

January 26, 2016

PHOTO: Thomson ReutersProfessor Jesse Kroll was recognized for his work in the sector of geosciences in the 2015 State of Innovation report  from Thomson Reuters, “The World’s Most Influential Scientific Minds”. This annual compilation released by Reuters consists of elite authors who have been prolific in the production of highly cited papers. The list covers an 11-year period and features over 3,000 scientists who have won acclaim and approval from their peers. Download and read the full report.

Follow TREX student work in Hawaii on Instagram

January 19, 2016

PHOTO: Mt. KilaeuaSeven Course 1 undergrads flew to Hawaii on Jan. 12 for two weeks of environmental hands-on research experience on the Big Island. Professor Jesse Kroll is supervising as students collect data on volcanic fumes, air quality and soil deposits. Follow the students photos and videos of their activities on Instagram at #TREXMIT2016.

Life in the Ocean Lecture Series

January 19, 2016

PHOTO: OceanProfessor Mick Follows is organizing a “Life in the Ocean” lecture series with three events. Featuring scientists from the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution, the series will reveal the extreme diversity of living organisms in the ocean and discuss recent advances in marine biology and ecology. The events are as follows: “Predators in the plankton” on Jan. 21 from 12-1pm; “The role of science and technology in the conservation of North Atlantic right whales” on Jan. 22 from 12-1pm; and “Life in the deep” on Jan. 25 from 12-1pm. More information. 

#CEE_IAP Instagram contest

January 19, 2016

PHOTO: TREX There is still time to submit your photo to the CEE Instagram photo contest. For every picture, tag @MIT_CEE and #CEE_IAP. Photos will be evaluated based on the following criteria: creativity, originalityand alignment with CEE’s vision of seeking to understand the world, invent and lead with creative design. There will be two winners selected at the beginning of next term: one winner for the most in line with the above criteria will receive an American Express card of $100 and another person who submits the most photos will receive an American Express card of $50! 

Third Annual Course 1 Video Competition

January 11, 2016

PHOTO: Video ReelEnter the Third Annual Course 1 Video Competition and present an original video that answers the question, “Big Engineering can be defined in many ways; one being small scale change with big impact. How does YOUR Course 1 science and engineering research reflect Big Engineering?” Prizes range from $1000 to $250, plus a $100 People’s Choice award – so be sure to bring your friends! The deadlines are as follow: Interest, February 15; submission, February 28; viewing and prizes, March 10 at 4:30 pm. Email cee-videocompetition@mit.edu for more information.

#CEE_IAP Instagram contest

January 11, 2016

PHOTO: InstagramWe are hosting an Instagram photo contest this IAP - an opportunity for everyone in the department to share their winter experiences. For every picture, tag @MIT_CEE and #CEE_IAP. Photos will be evaluated based on the following criteria: creativity, originalityand alignment with CEE’s vision of seeking to understand the world, invent and lead with creative design. There will be two winners selected at the beginning of next term. One winner for the most in line with the above criteria will receive an American Express card of $100 and another person who submits the most photos will receive an American Express card of $50!

Web presence and video production workshop

January 11, 2016

PHOTO: Video ProductionOn Jan. 27, Dr. Abel Sanchez will lead a special video and website workshop for all students and postdocs. During the seminar, Sanchez will share his insight on how to build professional websites, produce exciting videos and create a dynamic online presence – all of which will enable future career success! RSVP today online.

Follow TREX student work in Hawaii on Instagram

January 11, 2016

PHOTO: Mt. KilaueaSeven Course 1 undergrads will fly to Hawaii on Jan. 12 for two weeks of environmental hands-on research experience on the Big Island. Professor Jesse Kroll will supervise as students collect data on volcanic fumes, air quality and soil deposits. Follow students photos and videos of their activities on Instagram at #TREXMIT2016.

The 6th Annual CEE Research Speed Dating Day

January 11, 2016

PHOTO: Speed Dating LogoYou are cordially invited to the 6th CEE Research Speed Dating Day on Thursday, Feb. 18 from 1-7 pm in the MIT New Media Lab (E14, 6th Floor). The event promises to be another exciting showcase of the latest research in a variety of themes, highlighting topics that span the entire department. The event will consist of 5-minute presentations – given by faculty, postdocs, graduate students and undergraduates – to provide a snapshot of a research project, followed by a brief Q&A. The evening will conclude with a wine and cheese jazz networking reception. More information.

Third annual video competition

December 23, 2015

PHOTO: Video ReelEnter the Third Annual Course 1 Video Competition and present an original video that answers the question, “Big Engineering can be defined in many ways; one being small scale change with big impact. How does YOUR Course 1 science and engineering research reflect Big Engineering?” Prizes range from $1000 to $250, plus a $100 People’s Choice award – so be sure to bring your friends! The deadlines are as follow: Interest, February 15; submission, February 28; viewing and prizes, March 10 at 4:30 pm. Email cee-videocompetition@mit.edu for more information.

Infrastructure Innovation conference pushes engineering boundaries

December 23, 2015

PHOTO: A lunchtime panel elicited a lively discussion on infrastructure, the environment, and financing.On Nov. 20, MIT hosted a full-day thought leadership forum, Infrastructure Innovation in a Changing Environment Conference, co-hosted by CEE and the Industrial Liaison Program (ILP). The event brought together 25 prominent business, government and academic luminaries to share their knowledge, insights and successes with almost 200 attendees from within MIT and beyond. “There exists a global race for the best approaches to innovate in infrastructure,” said Department Head and Conference Chair Markus Buehler, “and whoever wins the race will provide critical leadership towards a sustainable future. We will need to engage the brightest minds to develop the fundamental knowledge to drive innovation.” Read the story. 

Students enjoy grilled cheese study break

December 23, 2015

On Dec. 15, students took a well-deserved grilled cheese and tomato soup study break, during which Department Head Markus Buehler, Professor Admir Masic and the CEE headquarters team prepared sandwiches hot off the griddle and tomato soup. After their meal, students lingered to socialize with peers and staff.

Buehler and Reis elected to Society of Engineering Science Board of Directors

December 23, 2015

PHOTO: Markus Buehler (left), the McAfee Professor of Engineering and head of the MIT Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering, and Pedro Reis, the Gilbert W. Winslow Associate Professor of Civil and Environmental Engineering and Mechanical EngineeringThe Society of Engineering Science (SES) announced on Dec. 7 that Professor Pedro Reis and Department Head Markus Buehler will join as two of its four new Board of Directors’ members, effective January 2016. The organization’s membership boasts leading engineers, scientists and mathematicians from around the world who focus on opportunities at the interface between engineering, sciences and mathematics. Read the story.

Getting Published panel shares insights

December 23, 2015

PHOTO: Science publishing panel participants included (clockwise from top left) Quincey Justman from Cell Systems, Stewart Bland from Materials Today, Rosamund Daw from Nature, moderator and MIT Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering Professor Martin Polz, Corie Lok from Nature, Anna Demming from the Institute of Physics Publishing, and Nick Lindsay from The MIT Press.With significant changes in the publishing landscape, an open discussion on finding the right outlet to publish scientific work is critical to better connect students, postdocs and faculty with scientists and publishers. On Nov. 30, the department hosted a “Getting Published” panel that covered aspects of open access publishing, innovative models of peer review and publishing, and related topics. “Practically all the editors put the importance of good writing at the top of their recommendations,” said Professor Martin Polz, who served as moderator. “No one is going to rewrite your paper for you, so the author needs to put the effort upfront into preparing clear and concise communications.” Read the story. 

#CEE_IAP Instagram contest

December 23, 2015