Save the Date: 2015 CCE Student Symposium

February 27, 2015

Image of 2014 CCE Poster SessionCEE and the Center for Computational Engineering (CCE) invite all students to the 2015 Center for Computational Engineering Student Symposium on Thursday, March 12. Every year, the symposium highlights cutting-edge techniques and applications of computational science and engineering. This year’s event will feature a keynote by Dr. William Morokoff, managing director and head of quantitative analytics at Standard & Poor’s, followed by a student poster session to showcase recent research from CCE.

Marta Gonzalez quantifies urban movement in response to social stimuli

February 27, 2015

graphicThe streets of the city are consistently congested, but how much of urban movement is caused by social stimuli? In a recent study, Professor Marta Gonzalez and her team introduce a new method of inferring the relationship between urban mobility and social activity. Using anonymized phone data from three major cities in Europe and South America, Gonzalez and her team developed a novel means of quantifying the level at which social activity stimulates a city’s travel activity patterns. According to Gonzalez, this is an innovative method of analyzing traffic data and will catalyze the creation of an analytical tool for transport planners and policymakers. Read the MIT News article.

Save the Date: Second Annual Course 1 Video Competition

February 27, 2015

student and laptopThe Second Annual Course 1 Video Competition deadline is right around the corner! Join us on Thursday, March 12 at 4:30 pm in 32-155 to watch the CEE students and post docs present a two-minute video that highlights their ONE@MIT research and its impact on society. Prizes range from $250 to $1000, plus a $100 People’s Choice award. Bring your friends for an entertaining night of movie snacks, engaging videos and friendly competition! Watch CEE’s video submission from last year on YouTube.

CEE came together for the 2015 Research Speed Dating event

February 27, 2015

Image from speed dating eventThe fifth annual CEE Research Speed Dating event, held on Feb. 20, continued its tradition of encouraging research collaborations among members of the Course 1 community from a myriad of disciplines. The afternoon featured a series of 26 four-minute presentations followed by a one-minute Q&A with each faculty member, postdoc and CEE student that presented. Also highlighted was the Speed Dating Network App – a tool debuted last year that devises a visual networking map based on current input from attendees to establish research connections. After the presentations, attendees gathered for a wine and cheese jazz reception. Scroll through photos from the event.

Sallie Chisholm to present MIT’s Killian Award lecture

February 27, 2015

Thumbnail image of MIT news office photoCEE cordially invites the MIT community to the 43rd annual James R. Killian Jr. Faculty Achievement Award Lecture on Tuesday, March 10 at 4:00 pm. This year’s lecture, “Tiny Cells, Global Impact: A journey of discovery with a microbe from the sea,” will be delivered by Professor Sallie “Penny” Chisholm in room 10-250 (Huntington Hall). In honor of her groundbreaking work exploring the ecology and evolution of a tiny microbe involved in ocean photosynthesism, Chisholm received the award on May 21, 2014. Read the MIT News article for a recap.

TREX Takes Over Hawaii

February 21, 2015

3 volcano imagesOn Jan. 13, a group of 22 CEE undergraduates and seven advisors traveled to the Big Island of Hawaii for a two-week journey to study the hostile effects of the vog from the Kilauea volcano on the local air quality and ecology. “This is an exciting opportunity for our students to go out into the field, build equipment, set up a real-world experimental campaign, and take the data back to MIT to dig deep into the analysis, interpretation, and formulate engineering solutions,” said Professor Markus Buehler, CEE department head. Since 2000, CEE has offered all Course 1 undergraduates the unique opportunity to gain invaluable fieldwork experience through TREX (Traveling Research Environmental Experiences). Read the full MIT News story for more information.

Colors, Chords & Creativity Video of IAP Seminar Available

February 21, 2015

Artwork by artist, Joan Levy Hepburn

To understand the ways in which an artist sees and finds new hybrid forms through drawings that connect to universal structures was the theme of a special IAP seminar on Jan. 21, 2015 hosted by CEE. Artist Joan Levy Hepburn and musician Joe Bouchard, founder of Blue Öyster Cult, presented an interactive seminar on painting, color and music and discussed the universal forms that can be applied to design and inventions in other fields of study. “Drawing a form and perception of light go hand-in-hand to build [a] physical reality,” Hepburn said. “The more you limit your palette, the more your eyes can perceive it as real light because it’s a trichromatic system.” Watch the full video of the IAP lecture on YouTube.

Study Environment & Sustainability in Brazil and then in Germany

February 21, 2015

Environment and Sustainability imageAdvanced undergraduate and Master’s students interested in a summer abroad this year, studying the key factors required for sustainable cities, should apply for the Environment & Sustainability Fellowship by March 1, 2015. From June to July, three students will travel to Brazil for an intensive environmental research project, followed by a series of classes in the University of Cologne Summer School on Environmental Studies in Germany. “Co-organized by MISTI’s MIT-Brazil and MIT-Germany programs, this new program provide an exciting opportunity to directly engage in real-world environmental and sustainability studies from a truly global and interdisciplinary perspective,” said Professor Markus Buehler, CEE department head. To apply, submit your CV, transcript of the previous 2 semesters, one-page statement of purpose to with the subject “Environment and Sustainability Fellowship”.

CEE Students Participate in Annual Transportation Club Showcase

February 21, 2015

abbreviated logo In its biggest turnout yet, over 250 people attended the ’s Fifth Annual Transportation Showcase on Feb. 11 in the MIT Museum. The night featured presentations on cutting-edge transportation research from several CEE students, a keynote speech from former Massachusetts Secretary of Transportation Jeff Mullan and an opportunity for students, faculty, alumni and employers to connect in a relaxed environment. CEE graduate student presenters included David Maltzan, Raphael Dumas, Zhan Zhao, Joanna Moody and Patton Doyle with topics that ranged from the use of real-time data to improve bus service to High Speed Rail Market Analysis. For more information, please see the MIT Transportation Club website.

Save the Date for the CEESA Career Fair

February 21, 2015

ceesa career fair graphicSave the date for CEESA’s annual Civil and Environmental Engineering Career Fair on Friday Feb. 27 from 10-1 pm in Rockwell Cage! Take advantage of the opportunity to mingle with company representatives in a more relaxed, engaging environment, followed by a networking reception with hors d-oeuvres. For additional information, please see the CEESA website.

Splash! Raindrops Spread Pathogens Among Plants

February 17, 2015

Image of drops splashing on plantsHistorical weather records have previously indicated that rainfall is correlated with appearance and spread of foliar diseases among plants, yet the mechanism governing such correlation remains unknown. A paper published in the Journal of the Royal Society Interface by Professor Lydia Bourouiba reveals a rich range of fluid fragmentation processes captured by direct visualization. The combined experimental and modeling study reveals that leaf compliance can change the range and speed  of contamination around an infected plant by a factor of four. “By alternating plants in one field, you could envision exploiting the mechanical – rather than immunological only – properties of plants to halt rain-induced pathogen transmission at its onset” . Read more about Bourouiba's work in the MIT News article

Marta Gonzalez Promoted to Associate Professor

February 13, 2015

Associate Professor Marta GonzalezAssistant Professor Marta Gonzalez has been promoted to associate professor without tenure, effective July 1st, 2015. Gonzalez works in urban computing with a specialized interest in the intersections of people with the built environment and their social networks. A prominent figure in the emergent field of urban computing, Gonzalez has introduced new tools into transportation research. For more information on her ultimate goal to design urban mobility solutions and to enable the sustainable development of smart cities, please visit her website.

Pierce Makes Way for Two New Laboratories

February 13, 2015

Image of Pierce Laboratory Dedication Faculty, staff and students gathered on Friday, February 6th for cake, refreshments and the grand opening of two new laboratories in Pierce. To commemorate the project completion, Professor Ruben Juanes and  participated in a special ribbon-cutting ceremony, officially opening the doors to their innovative labs. Through this achievement, the department intends to continue to strengthen its footprint in mechanics and energy. See a photo album from the event.

CEE Gears Up for Annual Research Speed Dating on Friday Feb. 20, 2015

February 13, 2015

CEE_Speed-dating_logoYou are cordially invited to the 5th Annual CEE Research Speed Dating Day on Friday, February 20th from 1 pm to 7 pm in the MIT Media Lab (E14, 6th Floor). Join us for an afternoon of engaging 5-minute presentations from junior and senior faculty, postdocs, graduate and undergraduate students followed by an evening wine and cheese jazz reception. As per tradition, this event will showcase a variety of the latest CEE research with topics coming from every corner of the department. Download the program here.

MIT Mathematicians and Engineers Develop Theory to Predict Wrinkle Pattern Formation on Curved Systems

February 9, 2015

Pictured is a sphere with a combination of hexagons and labyrinthine patterns, and a more complex, torus-shaped object with hexagonal dimples.Many natural and engineered systems that wrinkle, including drying fruit, fingerprints and microlenses, typically have complex curved geometries. Whereas the mechanics of wrinkling of flat systems is well understood, rationalizing the pattern formation of wrinkles on curved system has been far more challenging. Now a team of MIT mathematicians and engineers, including CEE Associate Professor Pedro Reis and Mathematics Assistant Professor Jörn Dunkel, has developed a mathematical theory to predict how wrinkles on curved surfaces take shape. Combining ideas from fluid mechanics with the theory of elasticity and data from Reis’ past experiments, the team derived an equation that reproduces the surface patterns observed in experiments and identifies the limits that govern surface patterning. According to Reis, this theory can potentially serve as a rational design tool to engineer objects with smart morphable surfaces. Read the MIT News article here.

Colette Heald Talks Food Security at the 2015 World Economic Forum in Davos

February 9, 2015

Professor Colette HealdIn January, Professor Colette Heald presented a 5-minute slideshow on the environmental impacts on global food security at the 2015 World Economic Forum [WEF] in Davos, Switzerland to an audience of world leaders in business, policy and academia. “In 2050, we are going to have to grow 50 percent more food to feed the planet and environmental pressures are going to make that even harder to achieve,” she said. “The relative impact of air pollution and climate depend on where you are – which one is more important and how this might impact the kind of food you grow.” Other MIT representatives on the panel covered topics including renewable water, sensors to monitor food quality and waste-free cities.

New Model Might Avert Panic over Disease Outbreaks

February 9, 2015

Graphic of commutyers in a social setting during disease outbrealSometimes the response to the outbreak of a disease can make things worse — such as when people panic and flee, potentially spreading the disease to new areas. The ability to anticipate when such overreactions might occur could help public health officials take steps to limit the dangers. A new computer model developed by researchers including Professor Marta Gonzalez, and published in the journal Royal Society Interface, could make such forecasts based on data collected from hospitals, social media, and other sources. While media coverage can sometimes help to spread panic during an outbreak, the right kind of information can potentially have the opposite effect, Gonzalez says. Read the MIT News story.

SMAP Satellite Launch a Success

February 9, 2015

SMAP rocket launch screenshot imageOn Saturday, January 31, Professor Dara Entekhabi and NASA successfully launched their Soil Moisture Active Passive (SMAP) satellite from the Vandenburg Air Force Base, California at 6:22 am Pacific time. “The lift-off was flawless and the deployments went very well,” said Entekhabi. Despite an unexpected 48-hour delay due to high wind speeds and minor repair work, the environmental monitoring satellite is now in orbit and prepared to provide global moisture maps that will link our planet's water, energy and carbon cycles as well as assist scientists in efficiently forecasting severe weather hazards such as floods and droughts. For more information on the SMAP launch, see NASA’s website and the MIT News office story.

MIT Team Studies the Fracture of Imperfect Graphene Materials

February 9, 2015

Graphic/ IllustrationExperimental results have shown that, despite significant defects at grain boundaries, the strength of polycrystalline graphene, a two-dimensional carbon material discovered recently, is comparable to that of the pristine defect-free material, although it is widespread knowledge in civil engineering that defects typically weaken a material’s strength. To explore this concept, an MIT team that included Professor Markus Buehler, Dr. Zhao Qin PhD ’13 and CEE graduate student Gang Seob Jung studied the enhanced mechanism of fracture toughness of polycrystalline graphene by utilizing a novel algorithm to generate well-stitched polycrystalline graphene models and focusing on their fracture under loading. Their results conclude that the polycrystalline graphene releases up to 50 percent more energy under fracture than the pristine graphene, suggesting that out-of-plane deformation of polycrystalline graphene and enhanced dissipation mechanisms governs the fracture pathway and leads to the higher toughness. These results suggest an approach of adding two-dimensional materials into new types of composites, for use for example as construction materials that have a greater capacity to mitigate extreme environmental conditions. Read their paper published in Extreme Mechanics Letters.

CEE Awards Nominations

February 9, 2015

award graphicEach spring, CEE presents a number of awards to undergrads, grads, faculty and staff. This year three new awards will be added: the Juan Hermosilla ’57 Prize for exceptional talent at the intersection of mechanics, materials, structures and design; the CEE Best Undergraduate Research Award for any area of research; and a Distinguished Service and Leadership Award for a faculty member. Nominations from any member of the CEE community are welcome and should be submitted to no later than March 31, 2015. Read a description of all the awards.

Second Annual CEE Video Competition

January 26, 2015

Still of Image of Mehdi Akbarian from 2014 prize winning video  Enter the Second Annual Course 1 Video Competition and present an original one- to two-minute video that answers the question, “What is ONE@MIT research and its impact on society?” Prizes range from $1000 to $250, plus a $100 People’s Choice award – so be sure to bring your friends. The department has cameras and audio recorders available to loan if you need them to produce your outstanding piece! The event is scheduled for Thursday, March 14 at 4:30 pm. Read the Call for Entries or email for more information.

Eduardo Kausel Named Humboldt Scholar in Germany

January 26, 2015

Kausel with President Joachim Gauck of GermanyFrom May to July 2014, Professor Eduardo Kausel was an Alexander von Humboldt Scholar in Germany. He worked on soil dynamics problems at the Technical University Berlin, and met and discussed problems of common interest with other professors elsewhere in Germany. This honor was a follow-up to Kausel’s Humboldt Prize awarded by the German government in 2000, for outstanding scholars abroad to complete long-term research stays in Germany.

Lydia Bourouiba Discusses Disease Transmission

January 26, 2015

EbolaSince Professor Lydia Bourouiba’s research has shown that small droplets produced by sneezing and coughing could spread much farther than had been realized, MIT News asked her how the findings could apply to the Ebola epidemic in West Africa. She noted that very little fundamental mechanistic research has been done since the 1970s to support current claims and recommendations about Ebola transmission routes. The constant threat of emerging pathogens makes it important to “fundamentally revisit our understanding of disease transmission from one host to the next,” and it is critical to “incorporate fundamental physical processes, such as fluid dynamic processes, on the modeling of such mechanisms,” she said. Read the MIT News story.

Outstanding Student Paper Award in Hydrology to Jane Chui

January 26, 2015

Detail of viscous fluid fingersGraduate student Jane Chui won an Outstanding Student Paper Award in hydrology at the American Geophysical Union’s Fall Conference in San Francisco in December 2014. The paper, "Interface Evolution during Radial Miscible Viscous Fingering," describes how when a less viscous fluid replaces a more viscous one, the less  that vary in size and shape to create complex patterns. The interface created from these patterns affects mixing between the two fluids, making it important to understand for applications such as enhanced oil recovery and microfluidics. Read more about work from Professor Ruben Juanes’ lab.

New Research Reveals Complex Role of Water in Collagen

January 26, 2015

Illustrations of collagen FibrilsFor the first time, research combining experimental work and detailed molecular simulations has revealed the complex role that water plays in collagen, a protein that is a component of tendons, bone, skin and other structural tissues. Co-authors Professor Markus Buehler and postdoc Shu-Wei Chang PhD ’14, plus researchers at MIT and the Max Planck Institute for Colloids and Interfaces, reported in the journal Nature Communications that adding or removing even small amounts of water from collagen in tendons can generate forces as much as 300 times stronger than the forces generated by muscles. The materials were analyzed using an atom-by-atom computer model that simulates the structure down to the level of individual molecules, providing a detailed view of the underlying mechanisms that complement the physical experiments. Read the MIT News story.

Moving the National Conversation on Revenue-Neutral Carbon Tax

January 26, 2015

Image of Dr Larry LindenAs part of the MIT Climate Conversation Committee’s series of events, Dr. Larry Linden SM ’70 & PhD ’76 spoke on January 21 about the experiences and transformation that led him to launch an effort to move the national politics of climate change. He leads the Linden Trust for Conservation, which brings state-of-the-art skills in finance and markets to the environmental community. Currently the Trust seeks to advance a national conversation on the use of a revenue-neutral carbon tax to minimize greenhouse gas emissions. Watch Linden’s recent talk.

Dara Entekhabi Anticipates Benefits of New NASA Satellite to launch on Jan. 29

January 26, 2015

Image of Professor Dara EntekhabiDuring a NASA briefing on Jan. 8 about SMAP (Soil Moisture Active Passive), a new environmental monitoring satellite expected to launch on January 29, Professor Dara Entekhabi explained the many implications of soil moisture and the valuable benefits of knowing more about it. As well as being a key factor in linking the global water, energy and carbon cycles over land, soil moisture also influences local weather, adds to hazards such as flooding, and plays a role in how plants store and release carbon. "I think the next couple of years are going to be very exciting for Earth science," said Entekhabi, who is the SMAP science team leader. Read latest MIT news story "3 Questions: Dara Entekhabi on NASA's soil-moisture mission". For more information on the SMAP program, see NASA's website.

Fifth Annual CEE Research Speed Dating Day Coming on Feb. 20

January 16, 2015

Image from speed dating eventLearn about the wide variety of exciting CEE research currently in progress by undergrads to senior faculty at the Fifth Annual CEE Research Speed Dating Day on Friday, Feb. 20. Everyone is welcome to attend the program of five-minute synopses followed by one-minute question and answer periods. Join us at the new Media Lab multipurpose room (E14, 6th floor) from 1 to 5:30 pm, followed by a jazz and cheese reception until 7 pm. Click here to RSVP.

Sara Greenberg Wins Anchor QEA Scholarship for Aquatic Research

January 16, 2015

Sara GreenbergAnchor QEA, an environmental science and engineering consulting firm, selected MEng candidate Sara Greenberg as one of 10 graduate students around the country for the company’s 2015 Scholarship Program. All recipients must be engaged in research with an aquatic or waterfront emphasis. Greenberg’s thesis work focuses on designing a hydrological runoff model to analyze stormwater and rainfall runoff into the Malden River, to assess the impact on water quality and human and ecosystem health. Read about the scholarship program.

Keep Current with CEE’s Social Media Outlets

January 16, 2015

Social Media iconsEnjoy a constant flow of photos, updates and news through CEE’s many social media outlets, run by communications assistant, Kelsey Damrad. You can follow in many ways: Facebook, Twitter, Department head Markus Buehler’s Twitter, Instagram, and LinkedIn. Please send news tips or events to publicize to Kelsey.

Follow TREX Student Work in Hawaii on Social Media

January 16, 2015

Image of Volcanic CaterFleeing bitter winter weather in Cambridge, 22 undergrads flew to Hawaii on Jan. 13 for two weeks of environmental hands-on research on the Big Island. Professors Jesse Kroll, Colette Heald and Ben Kocar will supervise as students collect data on volcanic fumes, air quality and soil deposits. Students will share photos and videos of their activities on Instagram at #TREXMIT2015, with posts also updated on the CEE Facebook page.

Sewage Samples Provide New Information on Public Health

January 16, 2015

Image of open manhole of a sewer | Portion of Photo Illustration by Lesley Becker/Globe staff Unpleasant as the samples might be, water from sewers provides important information about the people who excrete it. Participating in the first formal effort by scientists and public health officials to take a sewage snapshot of the Cambridge population, Professor Eric Alm’s lab analyzes sewer contents for viruses and bacteria. “Sewage is really an unexploited source of rich information about human activities,” he says. Knowing what goes in and comes out of people should lead to better data around issues such as diet and wellness. Read the Boston Globe story. 

World Bank Blog Quotes Marta Gonzalez on New Method for Gathering Travel Planning Data

January 16, 2015

Prof. Marta GonzalezUnderstanding peoples’ travel activity patterns, and ideally understanding the motivations and choices underlying them, are at the heart of what transport planners do, writes World Bank blogger Shomik Mehndiratta. He describes work by Professor Marta Gonzalez and colleagues to analyze mobile phone call records (CDRs), which can provide a huge database about trips within a region much faster and at a fraction of the cost of traditional methods. In the future, he speculates that CDRs could become a valuable tool for transport planners. Combined with the analytic power of new computing techniques, this new data collection method might significantly disrupt long-established ways of doing business across the development world, he concludes. Read the World Bank blog.

New Burchard Scholars Include Undergrad Julia Longmat

January 16, 2015

Julia Longmate, Burchard ScholarJulia Longmate, a junior, has been named one of the 35 new MIT undergraduate Burchard Scholars for 2015. The award honors sophomores and juniors who demonstrate academic excellence in the humanities, arts, and social sciences as well as science and engineering. Longmate is editor-in-chief of Rune, MIT’s literature and arts magazine, and also does creative writing.

Read about the Burchard Scholars.

Cheese, Soup, Fellowship and Mechanics of Grilling

December 23, 2014

CEE Administrators attending to grillHungry students flocked to the grilled cheese and tomato soup study break on December 16, promptly devouring almost everything on hand. Department head Markus Buehler prepared made-to-order sandwiches and Senior Fiscal Officer Mary Ellen Sinkus provided gluten-free tomato basil soup. While he cooked, Buehler also explained the mechanics that go into making the perfect grilled cheese sandwich. After their meal, students lingered to socialize with peers and staff.

See the  photo album of the event:

Fun and Food at Annual Holiday Party

December 23, 2014

Party Attendees Over 200 students, staff, faculty and families gathered at the MIT Museum on December 6 for the Department’s 2014 Holiday Party. Guests ate, socialized and toured the Museum’s exhibits, while the children built and decorated gingerbread houses. A raffle raised $208 to add to CEE’s already substantial collection of cash and gifts for a local charity, Horizons for Homeless Children. See a photo album from the party:

Juney Lee Receives Marvin E. Goody Award

December 23, 2014

Image of Juney LeeMEng candidate, Juney Lee, has received the Marvin E. Goody Award for his work, Structural Design Explorations Using Grammatical Graphic Statics. “Instead of defining parameters and constraints as one would in the conventional CAD paradigm, this approach defines rules and behaviors of form generation. It introduces the designer to a much broader and richer design space through rapid generation and exploration of unique solutions that are guaranteed to meet the design objective,” Lee said. The $5,000 prize is awarded to an MIT graduate student close to completing a thesis that addresses at least one of these aims: extending the horizons of existing building techniques and materials; encouraging links between academia and the building industry; and increasing appreciation of the bond between good design and good building.

Panel of Publishing Professors Provides Pointers for Students and Postdocs

December 23, 2014

A panel including CEE Department head Markus Buehler, DSME Department Head Christopher Schuh, and other professors with impressive editorial and publication experience, plus a representative from scientific publisher Elsevier, explained details of scientific publication to graduate students and postdocs on December 10.  The audience questioned the panel about the most effective methods to prepare for publication, and the necessary precautions to take during the submission process. According to the panel, the rise of scientific journals, combined with the recent proliferation of open access journals available to all readers, has introduced a variety of new challenges to the world of scientific publishing. Panel members urged the students to be a positive force in science publishing and to produce exceptional scientific research before submitting the final paper for review.

Undergrad Soup and Sandwich Feast on December 16

December 16, 2014

comfort foodOn Tuesday, December 16, CEE undergrads hungry for comfort food – grilled cheese sandwiches and tomato soup – should head to Room 1-050 from 5 to 7 pm. Beverages along with vegan and gluten-free options will also be available. Department head Markus Buehler will demonstrate his cooking skills at the griddle, and the good cheer of CEE staff members will provide a welcome break during finals week.

Administrative Assistant Ginny Siggia Retires

December 15, 2014

Ginny SiggiaAfter 38 years of working at MIT, including 16 years as administrative assistant to Professor Nigel Wilson and the Transit Research Group, Ginny Siggia will retire at the end of the year. “I love to travel and this job has been great training for becoming familiar with new transit systems,” she said. “The group’s 10-year Tren Urbano project in San Juan, Puerto Rico, was particularly memorable.” She plans to move closer to her daughter and family in southwest New Hampshire and notes that her toddler grandson’s “analytical evaluation of the world suggests that engineering might be a suitable profession” for him.

Bright Ideas Sought for Upcoming MIT Water Innovation Prize

December 15, 2014

Attendees Organized teams, potential teammates, mentors and MIT Water Club Members attended the . Eight teams pitched ideas that included aspects of water-based energy, pollution, sanitation and conservation, as well as gathering new ideas and attracting potential teammates and mentors. Groups will refine their ideas between January and March, create a business plan, and compete for funding. CEE is the MIT’s Water Club main sponsor. For more information:

Register Now for IAP Mini-UROP For Credit

December 15, 2014

View from spaceUndergrads can plunge into real research for credit during IAP with a mini-UROP (1.S991, 3 units) mentored by CEE grad students and postdocs. Register by December 31 and work between January 5th to 30th. Projects include cement, coastal processes, malaria, mathematical modeling, microbes, simulations, soil behavior, transportation, water pollution, wireless sensors and many other topics.

Contact for details: Fatima Hussain (, Julia Hopkins (, Kiley Clapper (, Stephanie Bright (

Find contact information and descriptions of all 24 diverse, fascinating projects at on this CEE IAP Mini-UROP list.

Bourouiba Group receives the Tse Cheuk Ng Tai Prize

December 5, 2014

flushdroplet Professor Lydia Bourouiba’s laboratory will receive the Tse Cheuk Ng Tai Prize to support an annual Tse Cheuk Ng Tai Ideas Retreat of the Bourouiba Group. The initial brainstorming group retreat will take place in the summer of 2015. Bourouiba’s research concentrates on understanding how diseases of plants, animals and humans are transmitted by droplets and fluids that carry pathogens. They have looked at respiratory diseases transmitted by sneezing and coughing, diseases acquired in hospitals, waterborne diseases, and plant diseases triggered by rainfalls. Read about the Bourouiba Lab:

Diverse International Work by Undergraduate Theresa Oehmke

December 5, 2014

Image of Theresa Oehmke, CEE senior“As the years have gone on I’ve realized that [environmental engineers] kind of do everything,” said senior Theresa Oehmke in a feature story on the MIT News. Her own diverse work experience includes a stint in Dakar, Senegal to study the lack of a municipal sewer system; the CEE TREX program in Hawaii to collect air samples from a volcanic plume; a summer of lab work in Paris; and last summer’s job in Minnesota studying how soil and rock debris flow downhill when water accumulates. Water-related activities dominate Oehmke’s extracurricular commitments at MIT, where she has been captain of the Women’s Water Polo Club for four years. She also holds leadership positions in Amphibious Achievement, a program run by MIT students for inner-city Boston high school students that includes competitive swimming and rowing, as well as academic focus, mentoring and college counseling.

Read the MIT News story:

Small Volcanic Eruptions Have Big Impact on Climate Models

December 5, 2014

Image of volcanic cooling New research published in the journal Geophysical Review Letters shows that relatively small volcanic eruptions can increase aerosol particles in the atmosphere, temporarily mitigating the global warming caused by greenhouse gases. The impact of these smaller eruptions has been underestimated in climate models and helps to explain the apparent slowdown in the pace of global warming recorded over the last 10 to 15 years, according to lead authors David Ridley, a CEE postdoc, and Professor Susan Solomon of Earth, Atmospheric and Planetary Sciences, and 15 other authors. The team found that small eruptions produce a significant amount of aerosol particles that reflect sunlight in a poorly monitored region of the upper atmosphere. This new information will be incorporated into the latest climate models to provide better estimates of global climate change over the coming decades, Ridley said.

Read the MIT News story:

Postdoctoral Networking Dinner Connects Scholars and Faculty

November 26, 2014

On November 19, the CEE Postdoctoral Committee hosted the first in a series of networking dinners for CEE postdoctoral scholars and faculty, aimed at expanding their professional networks, helping their career development, and exchanging ideas and experiences. This initiative is in response to feedback from a postdoctoral survey where 75% of the respondents expressed interest in help with networking. The first networking dinner was very well received and will be repeated on a quarterly basis.  Other events in response to the survey include a career development event in the spring of 2015, regular town hall meetings with the Department Head and active participation in the research speed-dating event to be held in February 2015.

Proposals Sought for Accenture and MIT Alliance in Business Analytics Research

November 26, 2014

Slice of infographicTenured and non-tenured professors are invited to submit proposals for an upcoming Accenture and MIT Alliance in Business Analytics research project. The proposals should seek advanced analytics solutions to help solve some of the most complex and challenging problems facing today’s global companies. Seed funding will also support non-tenured faculty and their research. Professor David Simchi-Levi is co-lead of the Accenture and MIT Alliance in Business Analytics.

For more information about applying:

Dara Entekhabi Elected as IEEE Fellow

November 26, 2014

Dara EntekhabiProfessor Dara Entekhabi has been elected a Fellow of the IEEE (Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers) for contributions to microwave remote sensing of soil moisture. Less than 0.1% of voting members are selected annually for this highest grade of membership, recognized as a prestigious honor and an important career achievement. Professor Entekhabi is the Science Team Leader of NASA’s Soil Moisture Active and Passive (SMAP) satellite mission, to be launched on January 29, 2015. To learn more about Prof. Entekhabi's research, go to his biography page.

Charles Harvey Wins Award for Groundbreaking Arsenic Research

November 26, 2014

Prof. Charles HarveyAt the Geological Society of America’s meeting in October, Professor Charles Harvey received the O.E. Meinzer Award in hydrogeology for his decades of research on arsenic contamination in the groundwater of Bangladesh. The society’s citation specifies three of his papers from Science, Chemical Geology, and Nature Geoscience where he “proceeded to lead and implement a stunning set of field and laboratory investigations that are the basis of his groundbreaking contributions.” In response, Harvey outlined the contributions and creativity of his many graduate students over the years on this extremely complex, interdisciplinary problem.


Operations Research Prize for Risk and Mitigation Research to David Simchi-Levi and Colleagues

November 26, 2014

Professor David Simchi-LeviProfessor David Simchi-Levi and eight colleagues have recently received the 2014 INFORMS Daniel H. Wagner Prize for Excellence in Operations Research Practice for a project using his Risk Exposure Index to identify risk and mitigate disruptions in the automotive supply chain. The prize is awarded for a paper and presentation that emphasize innovative, elegant mathematical modeling and clear exposition to describe a real-world, successful application of operations research or advanced analytics. Team members included two of Simchi-Levi's former PhD students, Yehua Wei, now on the faculty at Duke, and William Schmidt, now on the faculty at Cornell, and current PhD student Peter Y. Zhang. INFORMS (the Institute for Operations Research and the Management Sciences) is the largest society of professionals in operations research, management science, and advanced analytics.

Read the MIT News story:

John Ochsendorf Receives Dual Faculty Appointment with CEE

November 26, 2014

Image of Prof. OchsendorfProfessor John Ochsendorf now holds a Dual Appointment in CEE and Architecture, and has relocated to the Pierce Laboratory. A structural engineer with multi-disciplinary interests, he conducts research on the mechanics and behavior of historical structures and the design of more sustainable infrastructure. “This appointment substantially strengthens the structures area, and opens exciting educational and intellectual opportunities for our students, staff and faculty,” wrote Department Head Markus Buehler. “John will play an active role in our MEng program and is leading the development of a compelling educational vision at the interface of structures, mechanics and design.”

Read his professional profile:

Creative Activities at Pierce Building Fall Social

November 26, 2014

Students, staff, spouses and children enjoyed socializing at the Pierce Building Fall Social on the evening of November 14. In the spirit of innovation, students and children designed and built balloon-powered Lego cars, and tested them for distance in the Building 1 basement corridor. A car made by graduate students placed first, having moved steadily and smoothly farther than all the others. Working steadily on an original design, the 10-year-old and 8-year-old sons of Jeremy Gregory, executive director of the MIT Concrete Sustainability Hub, placed second, edging out a double-balloon powered vehicle also by graduate students.

Alumni Group Hears Markus Buehler Describe CEE Research

November 26, 2014

Markus speaks to Alumni GroupOver 200 alumni and spouses in MIT’s Cardinal and Gray Society and the Emma Rogers Society heard Professor Markus Buehler speak about his work at their annual fall lecture in October. His talk, called “Seeing Music in Nature: from spider webs to tangled proteins, finding the connections between mathematics, molecules, and materials,” described cutting edge research and collaborations in the Civil and Environmental Engineering Department. Buehler’s own work focuses on understanding materials in the natural world, including spider webs, on the atomistic level and scaling it up to the macroscale. Nancye Mims from the Alumni Association observed, “Alumni and spouses listened with rapt attention throughout.”

Art and Science of Spider Webs

November 17, 2014

Images of 3D Spider webIn their recent presentation at the MIT Museum, “Reverberations: Spiders and Musical Webs,” Professor Markus Buehler and Tomás Saraceno, Visiting Artist at the MIT Center for Art, Science and Technology, discussed their research in materials and structures inspired by the intricate geometry of spider webs. Using the data from his digitally captured three-dimensional spider web, Saraceno reconstructed the web 16 times its original size for his installation, 14 Billions (Working Title). Buehler discussed the molecular-to-macroscopic structure of spider’s silk, and how art and engineering can function as mutually beneficial modes of discovery. Zhao Qin, a Research Scientist in CEE, presented a live demonstration of the analysis of Saraceno’s data with a computer model developed in Buehler’s lab, which revealed the elasticity and tension of the black widow’s web. The conversation was moderated by Professor John Ochsendorf. Read the Arts at MIT blog:

Exponentially Increasing Math Enthusiasm

November 17, 2014

Images from MITxploreMITxplore, a student-run outreach group led by graduate students Leon Dimas of CEE and Narges Kaynia of Mechanical Engineering, will host an on-campus Math Day on November 23 for fourth to sixth graders. Dimas said, “We want our students to practice thinking and to become confident that they can move from a state of not understanding to a state of understanding. Given the right instruction, guidance and questions, students can gain insight by themselves into the truths of mathematics.” Volunteers make the program work -- for more information or to sign up to help, see

New Traffic Modeling Method Accounts for Disruptions and Changes

November 17, 2014

Graphic of Communication routes Reliable predictions of the best commuting routes could save time and energy under normal conditions, and could save lives during emergency evacuations following a natural disaster. Writing in the journal Nature Communications, researchers including Professor Marta Gonzalez and including Zoltan Toroczkai and Yihui Ren at Notre Dame, have devised what they call an effective and relatively simple formula for making such predictions. They use a computer modeling system called a radiation model, which easily handles transportation changes such as construction or emergencies, and can be applied in areas with little initial data. In disaster situations, Gonzales says the model might make it easier “to know how the system is going to be disrupted,” and identify critical points that may produce bottlenecks. Read the MIT News story:

Students Star in Shakespeare’s Othello

November 17, 2014

Images from OthelloThe MIT Shakespeare Ensemble’s recent production of Othello featured senior Majdolene Khweis as the duplicitous Iago, and junior Samantha Harper as the title character, re-imagined as a respected champion boxer with ties to the criminal underworld who marries a senator’s daughter. Shante Stowell, a senior, is the play’s technical director. “It’s very fast-paced and I think the audience will get swept away by the pace and action of the show,” said Harper in an interview with The Tech. Read The Tech interview:

Colette Heald Discusses Air Pollution Prediction Challenges

November 5, 2014

Air pollution impact map imageBy 2030, air pollution will become the leading environmental cause of premature mortality. On November 7, Professor Colette Heald will discuss some of the key challenges and uncertainties in estimating exposure to atmosphere particulate matter, a key factor in poor air quality, from models and satellite observations. Sponsored by the MIT Center for Environmental Health Sciences in Room 56-614, the seminar begins at 4 pm with refreshments, followed by the talk at 4:30 pm.

More information on Professor Heald’s Atmospheric Composition & Chemistry Group:

Applications Due for Marvin E. Goody Award

November 5, 2014

Architectural ImageStudents who expect to complete an SM or MEng degree in June 2015 are invited to apply for the $5,000 Marvin E. Goody Award. The thesis proposal must address at least one of these stated aims:extending the horizons of existing building techniques and materials; encouraging links between academia and the building industry; and increasing appreciation of the bond between good design and good building. The application deadline is December 1, with the winner to be announced on December 17.

For further information and the application form, see,-Awards-and-Prizes, or go to Rm. 7-337 in the Department of Architecture.

Inaugural MIT Water Innovation Prize Introduction on November 17

November 5, 2014

On November 17 at the MIT Media Lab (E14) from 6 pm to 9 pm, participants in the inaugural MIT Water Innovation Prize (WIP) competition will pitch water-related ideas, find others interested in forming teams, and learn about exciting water innovations at MIT and the surrounding area. Stephanie Moore, a Sloan School graduate student and one of the organizers, said, “The WIP is a solutions-to-market competition for water startups that are related to all types of water issues including treatment, contamination, conservation, processes, technologies, research and development.” Teams will submit their entries for the prize in late December and compete for seed funding in the spring. Sign up for the event at, or see for more information.

Mohammed Abdul Latif Jameel ’78 to receive honorary British knighthood

November 5, 2014

Portrait of JameelMohammed Abdul Latif Jameel ’78, a successful businessman who created MIT’s Abdul Latif Jameel Poverty Action Lab 10 years ago to bring a rigorous, evidence-based approach to poverty-alleviation programs around the world, will receive an honorary knighthood from Queen Elizabeth II. Earlier this year, he created the Abdul Latif Jameel World Water and Food Security Lab at MIT to spearhead research aimed at combatting shortages of food and water in the face of climate change and population growth. “Mr. Jameel has helped to foster innovative, high-impact approaches to some of humanity’s most pressing problems,” said MIT President L. Rafael Reif. The title of Honorary Knighthood in the Most Excellent Order of the British Empire recognizes people who are not citizens of the U.K. or Commonwealth nations who have demonstrated values such as commitment, compassion, and a drive toward positive social change.

Read the News Office story:

Developing the Officer Collier Memorial

October 30, 2014

Image of Collier MemorialWork recently began for a permanent memorial to honor MIT police officer Sean Collier, who was killed on campus while serving the MIT community in April 2013, Professor John Ochsendorf and his Masonry Research Group have been consulting with the project team, and have developed an interactive tool that enables the design team to test various geometries and get real-time feedback to ensure that the structure’s load is distributed safely. Constructed like a complex puzzle around a central keystone, the granite memorial will comprise five archways in the shape of a protective yet open hand.

Read the MIT News Office story:

Mikio Shoji Award for IT Innovation to Zeid Alghareeb

October 30, 2014

Photo: presentation of Shoji Award Doctoral candidate Zeid Alghareeb, who works with Professor John Williams in the MIT Geospatial Data Center, has received the 2014 Dr. Mikio Shoji Award for Innovation in Information Technology. The award is named for Mikio Shoji, a longtime corporate supporter of CEE research who personally presented the plaque to Alghareeb at a ceremony on October 14. Alghareeb was recognized for his research on petroleum reservoir modeling and decision-making, as well as for his academic performance. His thesis, “Optimal Reservoir Management Decision-Making Using Adaptive Reduced-order Models,” previously won a large Seed Fund grant from the MIT Energy Initiative. Read more about the MIT Geospatial Data Center:

CEE Professor Roman Stocker Seeks Creative Climate Change Opinions and Ideas

October 30, 2014

Professor Roman Stocker As chair of the Committee on the MIT Climate Change Conversation, Professor Roman Stocker recently summarized the committee’s charge, its progress to date, and its next steps. “The premise of the committee is that the complexity of the problem is uniquely suited for MIT, given our strong problem-solving ethos, and that a leading technical institution can have unique roles to play in responding to the climate crisis,” he told the MIT News Office. Regarding an upcoming Idea Bank and a survey to solicit opinions, he said, “We will particularly welcome bold, creative ideas, because we feel that the spectrum of options for action available to a leading technical institution has not been fully explored to date.” Read the MIT News Office story:

Graphene Wrinkles Not a Problem

October 30, 2014

Graphene Image Graphene’s exceptional mechanical and electronic properties make it a perfect candidate for applications such as flexible electronics and supercapacitors for energy storage, but its single-atom thickness also means it wrinkles easily, which could affect its ability to store a charge. Recently, a team including Dr. Zhao Qin, Professor Markus Buehler and Course 1 sophomore Mary Hwang have revealed for the first time that only two percent of the surface area of graphene is affected by wrinkles. To confirm this result, Zhao and Hwang have conducted an atom-by-atom analysis of the mechanics of graphene wrinkling, and developed a continuum mechanics model for different graphene geometries, sizes and loading conditions. This study provides important insights into the deformation of graphene, as well as efficient tools for designing the next generation of graphene nano-electronics. Read the ACS Nano Letters paper at:

CEE Undergraduate Students Win Best Poster at NEW.Mech Conference

October 30, 2014

Khouris award-winning posterNoor Khouri, a senior and a UROP in Professor Pedro Reis’s research group, presented a talk at NEW.Mech (New England Workshop on the Mechanics of Materials and Structures) on October 18 at UMass Amherst. NEW.Mech is an annual conference that has become central to the agenda of the mechanics community. She and graduate student Khalid Jawed also won the Best Poster award for "Modeling Propulsion of Bacterial Flagella." The flexible version of this year's Capstone course for seniors is allowing her to conduct detailed research, as well as having the opportunity to make professional presentations and engage in technical writing for a journal manuscript.

Read about NEW.Mech:

Freshman Discover Course 1

October 14, 2014

Freshman at pre-orientationAt freshman pre-orientation(FPOP)in August, Course 1 hosted a group of 20 new students interested in the department. Led by undergraduates Beth Garcia and Julia Hogroian and assisted by several excellent undergraduate mentors, the week’s activities blended interesting aspects of the department’s undergraduate curriculum with fun, excursions in Boston, and activities. The diverse set of modules looked at water quality, transportation, new materials, systems and how diseases spread, through lectures, hands-on activities and field trips. Activities included lunch with faculty, a trip to Spectacle Island in Boston Harbor, and a wacky scavenger hunt. The week culminated with a series of excellent and well-thought-out presentations by the new students to the CEE community and a social lunch.


Top Chefs Stir up Creative Cuisine with Materials Science

October 14, 2014

Mugaritz-based creationIn the creativity and innovation of the chefs at Mugaritz, one of the world’s top restaurants, Professor Pedro Reis recognized a strong resemblance to research in the EGS.Lab (Elasticity, Geometry & Statistics Laboratory). The EGS.Lab works extensively with thin structures, such as strands of hair or eggshells, finding functionality and structural integrity in these seemingly fragile forms. Reis recently invited three of the chefs to speak in the Mechanics: Modeling, Experimentation, Computation seminar series about how they experiment, explore and play with materials and structures. An overflow crowd packed the lecture hall to hear them discuss “Mugaritz, a natural science of cooking: senses, structures, textures and emotions,” and to taste a few unusual creations.

Read a description of the event:

Get Involved - CleanEarthHack

October 14, 2014

Graphic of EarthAt MIT, hackathons - the idea of bringing people in with a myriad of backgrounds and expertise together to creatively solve problems and innovate - is implicit in our culture as an institution. Sustainability and environmental issues are at the forefront of many of our students’ research and passions. Join us in bringing implementable solutions to the table this spring during CleanEarthHack - a student driven, environment focused hackathon. The group is currently seeking individuals interested in joining our planning committee; please contact if interested.

Marta Gonzalez Presents Papers on Urban Social Networks

October 14, 2014

Marta Gonzales' presentation San Francisco Church, Lucca, ItalyProfessor Marta Gonzalez recently spoke in Lucca, Italy in conjunction with ECCS ’14 (the European Conference on Complex Systems), a major international gathering devoted to complex systems and interdisciplinary science. She presented two papers on the topic of “Urban Social Networks: the Interplay of Social Distance and Geographic Proximity.” One paper explored the implications on using of cell phone data versus surveys for estimating travel times in Latin American cities, and the other presented new discoveries in the way social network groups are distributed in space within 150 cities.

Read about ECCS:

Movie Simulation Technology Predicts Cable Coiling Patterns in the Lab

October 14, 2014

image of electronic cable Photo: John Freidah/MITThe 550,000 miles of undersea fiber-optic cables that transmit e-mail and other data around the world are typically unfurled from large spools on ships. A rip or tangle anywhere can lead to transmission glitches and data loss, and significantly slow down global telecommunications. Now Professor Pedro Reis and colleagues at MIT and Columbia University have developed a method to predict the pattern of coils and tangles that a cable may form when deployed onto a rigid surface. The researchers say the coil-predicting method, which is based on model experiments, scaling analyses and computational tools that were originally developed in the context of computer animation for the movies to simulate the motion of hair and clothing, may help design better deployment strategies for the cables to avoid damage and increase their resilience.

Read an MIT News story: Untangling how cables coil: A simulation technology from movies is used to predict coiling patterns in the lab.

Hungarian TV Interviews Marta Gonzalez

October 14, 2014

Marta GonzalesThe Spektrum TV channel in Hungary recently interviewed Professor Marta Gonzalez for a documentary about Albert-Laszlo Barabasi’s book, Bursts: The Hidden Patterns Behind Everything We do, from your E-mail to Bloody Crusades. For the segment about movement, the author had requested that she discuss her research on localizing the movement of people using mobile phones throughout entire countries. The interview touched on how she analyses large and passively collected data sources to extract activity models and its impact on city planning and travel routes.

Read a recent Scientific Reports journal article about her work:

Innovation@ONE Boot Camp

September 29, 2014

Student pitches Business Plan at CEE Innovation Bootcamp On August 2, CEE’s Innovation@ONE Boot Camp and Business Plan Pitch Breakfast brought together eight teams of students and postdocs who presented business ideas to a panel of successful entrepreneurs. The new company concepts ranged from consumer products to management software to energy technology. After each pitch, panelists Arunas Chesonis ’84, CEO and Chairman of the Board of Sweetwater Energy; Anurag Bajpayee SM ’08, PhD ’12 (Mechanical Engineering), CEO and cofounder of Gradiant Corporation; and Riccardo Signorelli PhD ’09 (Electrical Engineering & Computer Science), founder and CEO of FastCAP Systems Corporation, questioned participants about crucial business aspects. “This event exposed our students and postdocs to the power of innovation and inspired the passion for creativity crucial for anyone seeking to become a successful entrepreneur,” noted CEE Department head Markus Buehler.

Holly Josephs: Building Irrigation Systems in Ghana

September 29, 2014

Image of farmer in Ghana This past summer Holly Josephs '16 spent two months in Ghana, funded by the MIT Public Service Center, helping design a rainwater harvesting tank made from plastic bags. The bags can store enough water during the rainy season to maintain a half acre of crops throughout the dry season, using drip irrigation. In addition to building 18 systems, she showed the local community how to continue using the irrigation system after her departure. She also engaged the community in better cultivation practices and use of the local moranga tree, which produces highly nutritious leaves and oil-rich seeds with multiple commercial possibilities. Read about the MIT Public Service Center: and the sponsor, MoringaConnect:

Video of Prize-Winning Big Ideas with Global Challenge

September 29, 2014

Graphic Tackling some of the world’s hardest problems, four CEE students participated in winning teams in the 2014 MIT IDEAS Global Challenge. Now three appear in a video briefly describing their projects: Sidhant Pai '14 and Katie Spies '14 with the top prize for Protoprint, and PhD student Charlene Ren with MyH2O. Missing from the video are juniors Siyi Zhang with MyH2O, and Tamanna Islam Urmi with Ways2Clean. Others whose teams made the final round were grad student Peter Kang, junior Samantha Harper and Theresa Santiano-McHatton '14. Watch the video:

How to Hide Like an Octopus

September 29, 2014

Detail of the color and texture change of octopus skin Cephalopods such as octopuses and squid can quickly change both the color and texture of their skin to blend into their surroundings, a capability that engineers have long struggled to duplicate in synthetic materials. In a paper in the journal Nature Communications, now researchers including Professor Xuanhe Zhao (joint appointment with Mechanical Engineering) explain how they created a flexible material that can change its color texture in response to a change in voltage applied to it. Zhao says the same basic approach could eventually lead to production of large, flexible display screens and anti-fouling coatings for ships. Read the MIT news story:

Professional Development for Postdocs

September 29, 2014

Graphic of North AmericaDuring National Postdoc Appreciation Week in September, about 30 CEE postdoctoral scholars representing different research areas gathered for lunch and were greeted by Department head Markus Buehler. Professor John Williams and research scientist Abel Sanchez PhD ’98 explained how to create successful websites, write professional online profiles, compile professional research portfolios and make videos to enhance their future careers. Future postdoc activities will include a town hall meeting on October 1. These activities complement other initiatives such as the Postdoctoral Teaching Fellowships that provide avenues for postdocs to contribute to our educational programs.

New SMAP Satellite Makes Measuring Soil Moisture a Snap

September 29, 2014

Graphic SMAP satellite Scientists will soon gain new insights into how the Earth system’s three major cycles – energy, water and carbon – are linked over global land regions. NASA’s Soil Moisture Active Passive (SMAP) satellite mission, scheduled to launch January 29, 2015, will use microwave instruments to measure the water content of the planet’s soil. Professor Dara Entekhabi, the SMAP team leader, explains that the radar and radiometer instruments on board are designed to produce maps of global soil moisture with unprecedented accuracy and resolution. He notes that data will be downlinked, processed, updated and available to the public on a daily basis. Read an interview with Entekhabi:

Zhao Appointed as Joint Faculty in CEE

September 29, 2014

Image of Prof. ZhaoProfessor Xuanhe Zhao now holds a joint appointment with CEE and Mechanical Engineering, where he is advancing fundamental knowledge of interfaces between solid mechanics, soft materials, and bioinspired design. His research goals include understanding and designing soft materials with unprecedented properties, and exploring extraordinary functions of new soft materials. “We welcome Professor Zhao to MIT and the Pierce Laboratory and are excited about the opportunities in research and education as we strengthen our mechanics and materials community,” wrote CEE Department head Markus Buehler. Read Professor Zhao's professional profile:

Roman Stocker Chairs Institute-wide Committee on MIT Climate Change Conversation

September 29, 2014

Image of Prof. Roman StockerProfessor Roman Stocker will chair the new Committee on the MIT Climate Change Conversation, which will seek broad input from the Institute on how the US and world can most effectively address global climate change. The Conversation will explore pathways to effective climate change mitigation, including how MIT can constructively move the global and national agendas forward through education, research and campus engagement. The committee is scheduled to produce a final report during this academic year recommending a path forward, to be submitted by June 2015. Read the MIT News Office story:

Guarding Against Malicious Attacks on Critical Infrastructure

September 12, 2014

Professor Saurabh AminThe MIT Industrial Liaison Program (ILP) "Institute Insider" profile series recently featured Professor Saurabh Amin, head of the Resilient Infrastructure Networks Lab. Considering the potentially catastrophic impacts of malicious attacks on the IT networks controlling critical infrastructure such as the power grid and water systems, the integration between monitoring networks and infrastructure has received growing priority. Amin says, “Our work on modeling and detecting attacks, developing robust control mechanisms, and leveraging game theory and economic incentives to predict and influence behavior are addressing the challenges of ensuring resilient infrastructure networks.” Read the ILP story

Exploring Elusive Details in Ocean Microbiome

September 12, 2014

SCOPE Image Courtesy of MIT News Office Professors Edward DeLong, Penny (Sallie) Chisholm and Mick Follows are among the eight founders of the Simons Foundation’s new Simons Collaboration on Ocean Processes and Ecology (SCOPE), a five-year program centered at the University of Hawaii at Manoa to study the role of microscopic organisms the ocean ecosystem. These microbes produce oxygen, regulate the cycling of nutrients, and produce and consume greenhouse gases, with enormous implications for the entire planet. The researchers will apply advanced genomics and systems biology approaches to investigate elusive details in the ocean microbiome, such as how the trillions of microbes living at the base of the food web respond to and influence their environment. DeLong, a pioneer of technologies to study microbial gene transcription in the ocean, will co-direct SCOPE as it fosters collaborations between ocean observers and ecosystem modelers. 
Read the MIT news story:

Corals Actively Alter their Environment in Unexpected Ways

September 12, 2014

Microscopic detail of coral, slide courtesy MIT News OfficeContrary to the traditional view that corals passively depend on ocean currents to deliver sustenance, Professor Roman Stocker and colleagues discovered that the organisms actually engineer their environment to sweep water into turbulent patterns and greatly enhance their ability to exchange nutrients and dissolved gases. In a paper in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, the researchers report that cilia, the threadlike hairs that push water along the coral surface, produce strong swirls of water that draw nutrients toward the coral while driving away potentially toxic waste products. Knowing that the boundary between coral and water is a dynamic environment will be important for studying the interactions of marine microorganisms with coral colonies, an important subject due to a global increase in coral disease and reef degradation. Besides illuminating how coral reefs function, Stocker suggests that this research could be of interest in studying other organisms with cilia, including inside human airways where cilia help to sweep away contaminants.
Read the MIT news story:

East Campus’s Giant Roller Coaster Wows Freshmen

September 12, 2014

East Campus's Roller Coaster for Orientation 2014To showcase their community during Freshman Orientation, East Campus residents led by juniors Wesley Lau and Ben Katz (Mechanical Engineering) created a 146-foot-long wooden roller coaster in their courtyard. The thrilling 30-second ride plunged from a three-story-high platform onto three smaller hills before a nearly vertical rise that slowed down the car. Lau and Katz took charge of the project and spent months on design, obtaining multiple permits from Cambridge and MIT, and supervising eight intense days of building. Richard Henige ’75, SM ‘77, vice president of LeMessurier Consultants, Inc. (founded by Bill LeMessurier SM ’53), donated his time to offer expert advice and review the students’ calculations.
Read a Boston Magazine blog entry with videos:

Ulm Elected to European Academy

September 12, 2014

European Academy of Sciences and Arts logoThe European Academy of Sciences and Arts has elected Professor Franz-Josef Ulm as an active member in the Technical and Environmental Sciences section. Ulm, who is the faculty director of the Concrete Sustainability Hub, describes his research interests as nano-mechanics of porous materials in civil and environmental engineering as applied to concrete infrastructures and gas shale subsurface energy recovery; and quantitative sustainability for infrastructure engineering. The induction ceremony will take place next March in Salzburg, Austria. Read about the European Academy:

Short Rations: Combined Climate Change and Air Pollution Could Cut Harvests

August 11, 2014

Food production MIT Newsoffice Graphic Illustration: Christine Daniloff/MIT Interactions between rising temperatures and air pollution could significantly reduce food production around the world, according to an article by Professor Colette Heald, former postdoc Amos Tai, and Maria van Martin (Colorado State University) in the journal Nature Climate Change. While it is known that both higher temperatures and ozone pollution can lower crop yields, “nobody has looked at these together,” said Heald. They investigated global production of rice, wheat, corn and soy, and predicted that damage could be substantial but will vary considerably depending on the crop and the region. Any yield reductions would exacerbate the problems of feeding a growing population with higher dietary expectations. Read the full MIT News Office story:

Learning how bonded materials fall apart

August 11, 2014

graphic of how bonds fractureAlthough materials that are firmly bonded together with epoxy and other adhesives are ubiquitous in modern life, from dental crowns to reinforced concrete, it is remarkably difficult to study. Now, a paper in the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences by Professors Oral Buyukozturk and Markus Buehler, doctoral student Denvid Lau (now an Assistant Professor at the City University of Hong Kong), and research associate Kurt Broderick of MIT’s Microsystems Technology Laboratories reveals the crucial role of moisture in setting the stage for failure. By looking at the molecular level, the group came up with an innovative method to measure the interface weakening as a result of exposure to environmental effects. Buyukozturk says, “I think this is going to be an important step toward assessment of the bonding, and enable us to design more durable composites.” Read the full MIT News Office story:

What’s Going On in Your Gut?

August 11, 2014

Image of bacterium, Enterococcus faecalis Courtesy of the Centers for Disease Control and PreventionNobody really knows how the trillions of bacteria living in each person’s digestive tract affect human health. As described recently in the journal Genome Biology, Professor Eric Alm and colleagues charted fluctuations in bacterial populations in two research subjects for a year, and found that specific dietary and lifestyle changes produced specific daily variations in the populations of different bacteria. Eventually it might be possible to generate data that could produce a personalized monitoring system for people suffering from diseases that occasionally flare up, such as inflammatory bowel disease. The monitoring system might be able to detect an oncoming flare-up and recommend dietary changes to help avert trouble. Read the full MIT News story: Monitoring the rise and fall of the microbiome-0724

Professor Emeritus Charles (Chuck) Ladd, geotechnical expert, dies

August 11, 2014

Professor Emertius Ladd Charles (Chuck) Cushing Ladd III ’55, SM ’57, ScD ’61 died on Aug. 4, 2014, surrounded by his family. A faculty member from 1961 until retirement in 2001, he was a gifted teacher and much-lauded researcher on large complex projects. He was a distinguished member of the American Society of Civil Engineers and won many of their important awards, including the Outstanding Project and Leaders lifetime achievement award for his contributions to geotechnical engineering. A memorial service will be held on Aug. 22 at 3 pm at the West Concord Union Church, 1317 Main St, Concord, Mass. Read more about his life:

Senior Lecturer Richard Schuhmann makes landfall in Maine as President of the Landing School

August 11, 2014

Rick SchuhmannAfter two years modernizing the Course 1 project management program and as a member of the Gordon MIT Engineering Leadership Program team,  has been selected as president of the Landing School, a Maine institution specializing in boat building and marine industry technology. Before joining MIT he had taught engineering and leadership at Penn State University, taught and traveled widely in Morocco, and explored historic shipwrecks off the New England coast. Department head Markus Buehler says, “Congratulations to Rick on this exciting opportunity, and we send our very best wishes for the future! We are very fortunate to have had him in our community, and look forward to future interactions with him.” Read a story about him:

CEE Faculty appointed to Named Professorships

August 11, 2014

MIT CEE Department LogoProfessor Pedro Reis, who works on deriving function from mechanical instabilities of slender structures, has been awarded the Gilbert W. Winslow Career Development Professorship. A specialist in the interactions of global atmospheric composition and chemistry with the biosphere and climate system, Professor Colette Heald has been selected for the Mitsui Career Development Professorship. Professor Lydia Bourouiba, a physical applied mathematician working on fluid dynamics and mathematical modeling of disease transmission, will hold the Edgerton Career Development Professorship. Earlier this year, Professor Heidi Nepf, whose work focuses on environmental fluid mechanics, with a focus on shallow aquatic systems such as lakes, rivers, wetlands and coastal waters, was appointed to the Donald and Martha Harleman Professorship. “These appointments reflect the excellence and extraordinary level of accomplishment, and potential for future contributions to education and research, of our faculty, and provide added support for their professional activities,” says Department Head Markus Buehler.

Art and Science of Spider Webs

August 11, 2014

Saraceno's collaborative installationIn an evening event on Sept. 25 at the MIT Museum, Professor Markus Buehler and visiting artist Tomás Saraceno will discuss their work on materials and structures inspired by the intricate geometry of spider webs. Buehler will explain the molecular structure of the proteins in spider's silk, and how art and engineering can function as mutually beneficial modes of discovery and as complementary representations of complex structure-property relationships. Saraceno will envision using music, light and sensors to visualize the incredible structural properties of spider silk. Structural engineer John Ochsendorf, Professor of CEE and Architecture, will moderate the panel, which is sponsored by the MIT Center for Art, Science & Technology. Read about the artist: and the work on biomimicry:

Limits of Predictability in Commuting Flows in the Absence of Data for Calibration

July 24, 2014

travel graph

A paper by graduate student Yingxiang Yang, Professor Marta Gonzalez and others in the July 11 issue of Scientific Reports explains how to calculate the number of short and long commuting trips when detailed trip data is not available. They found that cell phone records from Rwanda and other countries can provide this information on a population’s commuting patterns. Compared with empirical trip data from the United States, their model’s estimation accuracy is as good as other existing models that depend on data for calibration. Obtaining quality estimates of how many people frequently travel between two places is a key ingredient for transportation planning, facility distribution and modeling the spread of infectious diseases. Read the full paper:

Ocean Microbes’ Hidden Talent

July 24, 2014

Chisholm (right) and Biller (left)Although algae produce large quantities of lipids that can be extracted and converted into biodiesel, breaking apart the algae to recover the lipids is costly and energy-intensive. Recent research in Penny Chisholm’s lab on the oceanic bacterium Prochlorococcus determined that it naturally releases vesicles containing related fatty oils. Even better, the vesicles could be collected without destroying the cells. While the lipids in the vesicles are not the optimal kind for making biofuels, postdoctoral associate Steven Biller notes that Prochlorococcus is “a good model to use in exploring the mechanisms that control the formation and extrusion of vesicles and determine their content.” Read the full MIT News story:

New Mural in Building 1 Highlights Diversity of Research in the Department

July 24, 2014

Bldg 1 mural detail

A recently installed mural visualizing Civil and Environmental Engineering’s interdisciplinary achievements and new avenues of research now brightens up the corridor near the Spofford Room (1-236). Digital painter explained how to read from left to right, with creative illustrations showing ongoing work including morphable surfaces, patterns of disease transmission among plants, the ubiquitous cyanobacterium Prochlorococcus, and atomistic-level materials research. The mural is “a comment on scientific visualization, interdisciplinary research and the future of CEE; they go hand in hand, and will evolve together,” said Sanker. This mural is part of an effort to modernize the look and feel of the hallways in Pierce. View a photo of the mural.

CEE Video Participants Still in the Running for National Academy of Engineering Grand Prize

July 24, 2014

Mehdi Akbarian To celebrate its 50th anniversary, the National Academy of Engineering created a video contest for honoring engineering contributions to past, current and future needs of society. An entry by Maria Cassidy ’14 and CEE graduate student Mehdi Akbarian explores how to use engineering models to design better pavements that could cut fuel use by three percent. They are still in the running for the grand prize of $25,000 that will be announced at the end of September. See their video:

Sidhant Pai receives Echoing Green fellowship

July 24, 2014

Sidhant PaiSidhant Pai '14 was among the 55 fellows selected for this year’s prestigious Echoing Green fellowship for social entrepreneurs. Based in India, Pai’s venture, Protoprint, empowers urban waste pickers with the technology to produce fair trade 3-D printer filament from the waste plastic they collect. Protoprint markets the filament globally, providing consumers with a price-competitive, ethically sourced, recycled alternative to virgin plastic. Pai is also a D-Lab Scale-Ups fellow, a Legatum fellow and the first prize winner of the CEE video competition, and Protoprint was among the IDEAS Global Challenge winners this spring.  Read more about Protoprint:

Bacteria: A Day in the Life

July 24, 2014

Ocean bacteriaIn a recent paper in Science, Professor Edward DeLong and colleagues report that microbes in the open ocean follow predictable patterns of biological activity throughout the day, such as eating, breathing, and growing. DeLong says. “What we’re seeing out in the ocean tells us how complex assemblages of different microorganisms are basically working together and coordinating their activities with time.” Improvements in genome sequencing technologies make it possible to “sequence a lot deeper into the microbial community’s gene transcripts at each time point, so we’re getting closer to the resolution of where activities really matter.” Read the full MIT News story:

Graduate student profile: Leon Dimas

July 8, 2014

Photo of Leon Dimas taken by Allegra BovermanAfter injuries derailed his prospects for playing professional soccer, Leon Dimas changed course and is now a PhD student working to create resilient new materials based on natural substances. He and two other MIT graduate students founded MITxplore, an afterschool program for local fifth graders to encourage learning math through experimentation and exploration. In his doctoral research, Dimas creates models that predict the fracture response, fracture resistance, and durability of synthetic materials that arranged their ingredients in various natural and synthetic geometries. Such work could eventually lead to new “metamaterials” that combine nature’s designs with human engineering, resulting in cars or buildings constructed from superstrong synthetic skeletons. Read the full MIT News profile.

Research Associate Sheila Frankel retires

July 8, 2014

Research Associate, Sheila FrankelAfter 41 years at Parsons Lab, Sheila Frankel retired on July 1, 2014. “I have thoroughly enjoyed my MIT journey: research, colleagues, working with grad students, teaching undergrads, and above all designing and implementing the IAP undergrad course, TREX,” she wrote. Over the years she led TREX groups on field research expeditions to Florida, Hawaii and Australia, “a highlight of my years at MIT.” The director of Parsons Lab, Philip Gschwend, stated, “We will dearly miss Sheila with her enthusiasm for new techniques to see the world, her patient nurturing of our undergraduate and graduate students, her indefatigable emphasis on intra-lab and intra-MIT communication, and her amazing ability to make things work in the Parsons Lab.”

Award-winning analytics to help online retailer improve revenue

July 8, 2014

Prof. Simchi-LeviProfessor David Simchi-Levi, graduate student Kris Johnson (Operations Research) and Alex Lee SDM ’14 (Engineering & Management), along with online retailer Rue La La, received the 2014 INFORMS Revenue Management and Pricing Section Practice Award on June 5 for a project expected to increase the company’s revenues. The analytics-based pricing-optimization application was developed through the Accenture and MIT Alliance in Business Analytics. This application shows “how analytics can change the way a company operates,” said David Simchi-Levi, who is also co-chair of the Accenture and MIT Alliance in Business Analytics. Starting with the goal of reducing inventory, “we ended up with a cutting-edge, demand-shaping application that has a tremendous impact on the retailer’s bottom line.” INFORMS is the world’s largest professional society for operations research, management science, and analytics. Read the MIT News story

Morphable surfaces could cut air resistance

July 8, 2014

Dimpled surfaceDimples on a golf ball dramatically increase the distance it can travel by reducing the drag caused by air resistance. As reported in the journal Advanced Materials, MIT researchers including Professor Pedro Reis and former postdocs Denis Terwagne and Miha Brojan, hope to similarly reduce drag on a variety of other surfaces. Their experiments showed how on-demand changes in surface texture on rubberlike balls enabled them to switch and tune the degree of drag reduction. Future applications suggested by Reis might include adjusting the texture of panels on auto exteriors for different speeds to minimize drag and boost fuel efficiency. Read this news story.

Carolina Osorio improves traffic light timing to speed urban traffic

July 8, 2014

Image of traffic lights by Jose-Luis Olivares MITDrivers frustrated by red lights at each intersection can take heart that Professor Carolina Osorio and graduate student Linsen Chong have developed a better way to compute optimal timing of city stoplights. Osorio is the lead author of a forthcoming paper in the journal Transportation Science that describes the new system, based on a study of traffic in Lausanne, Switzerland. The new optimization process uses high-resolution traffic simulators that provide detailed descriptions of how 12,000 simulated drivers respond to changes in travel conditions, rather than treating them as a simple homogeneous group. This method showed that better timing could reduce average travel time by 22 percent, compared with results from commercial traffic-light timing software. Read this MIT News story.

New Committee on Transportation Graduate Education

June 24, 2014

Eco-friendly air transportationDepartment head Markus Buehler announced the formation of the Committee on Transportation Graduate Education, co-chaired by Moshe Ben-Akiva and Emilio Frazzoli (Aeronautics and Astronautics), with Francisco Pereira as designated executive director. Ben-Akiva said, “Our objective is to effectively integrate MIT's new junior faculty in transportation into the programs and restructure the programs to meet the future needs of society.” Focusing on grand challenges, the committee is charged to determine educational objectives for our Master’s and doctoral programs in transportation, enhance flexibility, and identify specific subject offerings that reflect the interests and composition of the faculty, and that define transportation education for the future. The Committee will also open opportunities to coordinate with the all-Institute Transportation@MIT initiative.

Lydia Bourouiba named Associate Faculty Member of MIT’s Institute for Medical Engineering and Science (IMES)

June 24, 2014

Assistant Professor Lydia Bourouiba CEE Assistant Professor Lydia Bourouiba, a physical applied mathematician working on fluid dynamics and mathematical modeling of disease transmission, has been named an Associate Faculty Member of MIT’s Institute for Medical Engineering and Science. This group unites researchers from MIT, industry and hospitals in research and education efforts at the nexus of engineering, science, and clinical medicine to advance human health. She describes her research as focusing on “understanding the dynamics of disease transmission at the mesoscale (person to person or indoor environment), filling the gap between research on small scale microbiology and research on large scale population epidemiology.” See the IMES website:

Why eumelanin pigment absorbs light so effectively

June 24, 2014

Eumelanin, a form of the pigment melanin

Eumelanin, a form of the pigment melanin, not only determines our skin and eye coloring but also protects us from ultraviolet and other damaging radiation. Now researchers at MIT and other institutions, including Professor Markus Buehler, graduate student Chun-Teh Chen, and colleagues from the MIT Department of Chemistry have discovered exactly how it blocks a broad spectrum of sunlight so effectively. Using first-principles computation and experimental analysis to derive the molecular structure and optical properties of the material, they found that a key source of the broadband absorption is the geometrical arrangement of the constituents, not their chemical characteristics. This work, published in Nature Communications, could potentially lead to the development of synthetic materials with similar light-blocking and other designer optical properties. Read a news release:

Transforming troubles to technology

June 24, 2014


Professor Pedro Reis transforms today’s annoyances, such as cables kinking and columns buckling, into tomorrow’s technology, according to the Spring 2014 issue of Spectrum. By exploring the mechanics and physics underlying natural and manufactured structures, he identifies and predicts how thin objects deform, and uses that knowledge to solve other engineering problems. “The ultimate goal is to discover, understand, and harvest mechanical instabilities in soft mechanical structures,” he says, “and then exploit those as novel functionalities over a wide range of length scales.” Read the full story:

Andrew Whittle appointed to review panel on Hong Kong high-speed rail

June 24, 2014

Chinese Bullet TrainProfessor Andrew Whittle has been appointed to a review panel by the Hong Kong government looking into delays associated with the $6 billion construction of the new high-speed rail line, the Guangzhou-Shenzhen-Hong Kong Express Rail Link (XRL). The Hong Kong portion of the rail line was scheduled for completion in 2015, but has been delayed by more than two years. Whittle will serve on the three-person independent expert panel with Justice Michael Hartmann of the Hong Kong judiciary and Peter Hansford, chief construction adviser to the U.K. government.

Great impacts of basic research

June 24, 2014

 Basic ocean research

The Spring 2014 issue of Spectrum explains how basic research led MIT faculty, including Professor Sallie “Penny” Chisholm, to profound unanticipated consequences. In 1988 Chisholm “revolutionized our understanding of life in the world’s oceans…when she and colleagues discovered Prochlorococcus,” the most abundant photosynthetic organism in the ocean. She credits federal funding for the breakthrough, but the percentage of this funding on campus has dropped by more than half since 1960. Read the Spectrum article:

Sophomore wins Data Science Challenge prize

June 15, 2014

Izunna OkonkwoIzunna Okonkwo, a sophomore in the 1.00 Introduction to Computation and Engineering Problem Solving class, received the $5000 Creative Breakthrough prize in the Data Science Challenge on May 30. Sponsored by Accenture and the MIT Alliance in Business Analytics, which is headed by Professor David Simchi-Levi, contestants analyzed and visualized large data sets from Chicago to try to improve life in the city. Okonkwo highlighted the academic performance of schools in different Chicago neighborhoods in relation to food inspection violations. Professor John Williams, who teaches 1.00, noted that two other students from the class also won awards. “This year we changed the curriculum in 1.00 to focus on what is called “Big Data” and it’s a wonderful achievement for all three main prizes to be won by our students,” he said. See Okonkwo’s website:

We salute our new graduates

June 15, 2014

2014 Course 1 Graduates

Congratulations to all our new graduates! Combining the June 6 Commencement figures with the graduates of September 2013 and February 2014, Course 1 granted 110 degrees: 19 Bachelor of Science, 9 Master of Science, 23 Master of Science in Transportation, 41 Master of Engineering, and 18 doctorates. Department head Markus Buehler noted, “Each year’s students enrich CEE with their curiosity, questions, energy and research. While we can’t predict what they will do in a constantly changing world, we are confident that they will innovate, explore and fulfill the great promise that we have seen here, and continue to make us proud.” Read about Commencement:

Best paper award for Canadian Transportation group

June 15, 2014

S. Joel Carlson SM ’14 S. Joel Carlson SM ’14 (Transportation and Engineering Systems) and Professor Joseph Sussman received the Ron Rice Award for Best Paper at the Canadian Transportation Research Forum’s annual meeting in June. “Understanding Crude Oil Transport Strategies in North America” uses qualitative and quantitative approaches to characterize some of the uncertainty in transporting oil products by rail. Policy makers must consider many potential impacts, particularly after the disastrous 2013 explosion of an oil-laden train in Quebec. Proposed long-distance pipelines also pose major questions about safety and environmental effects. Read the paper at the ESD Working Paper:

Steel bridge team places second in national meet

June 15, 2014

2014 MIT Steel Bridge TeamFor the third consecutive year, the MIT Steel Bridge team placed second in the national competition held on May 24 -25 at the University of Akron in Akron, Ohio. Technical instructor Steve Rudolph said, “This was an especially satisfying year because the students fabricated their ambitious design almost entirely by themselves." The goal is to create the lightest but stiffest structure, precisely assembled by the fewest number of people as rapidly as possible. This year’s bridge weighed 107 pounds, deflected ¼ inch while holding 2500 pounds, and was erected by three students in slightly over 11 minutes. “I congratulate the students on this marvelous achievement,” said Department head Markus Buehler. More background and photos at

New interdepartmental joint appointment for Michael Follows

June 15, 2014

Mick Follows

Professor Michael Follows of the Department of Earth, Atmospheric and Planetary Sciences Department has recently received a Joint Appointment with Civil and Environmental Engineering. “I feel a strong scientific connection with several members of the Parsons Lab through common interests in microbial ecology and biogeochemical cycles,” he said. “Having a more formal connection will provide an opportunity to cement those relationships and help us to work together to more smoothly steer a common vision between the two departments.” Read about his research:

Students describe South Africa water problems in radio program

June 15, 2014

Ari EpsteinEvery year freshmen in Terrascope study a global problem related to sustainability, and then travel during spring break to learn about the problem in a particular location. For this year’s topic of water availability, about 50 Terrascope students and staff visited South Africa and the Nelson Mandela Metropolitan University (NMMU). Extensive discussions with NMMU students and local residents taught the MIT students how poverty, education, politics and other issues affect water security. Four
students in Subject SP.360, Terrascope Radio, taught by Terrascope and CEE lecturer Ari Epstein, created a 19-minute broadcast, “The School That Had No Water: Water Security in South Africa." The program centers on the uplifting story of a small township school whose principal, through organization and determination, overcame the lack of access to clean water. Terrascope is a freshman learning community run by the office of the Dean for Undergraduate Education, the Department of Earth and Planetary Science, and CEE.

Innovative public transportation system research by Moshe Ben-Akiva

June 15, 2014

Moshe Ben AkivaOn-demand transport systems research by Professor Moshe Ben-Akiva and postdoctoral associate Bilge Atasoy, in collaboration with Fujitsu Laboratories, was presented on May 15-16 at the Fujitsu Forum 2014 in the Tokyo International Forum. Flexible Mobility on Demand (FMOD) is an innovative public transportation service that receives ride requests and then designs in real time a set of options including customized taxi, shared-taxi and fixed route mini-bus services in low density suburban areas. An optimization framework integrates scheduling, assortment optimization and choice modeling methodologies. This framework is expected to improve passengers’ satisfaction, increase operators’ profit and provide personalized public transportation.

Highest MIT faculty award goes to Penny Chisholm

June 15, 2014

Professor Sallie “Penny” ChisholmIn honor of her wide-reaching professional accomplishments, Professor Sallie “Penny” Chisholm received the 2014 James R. Killian Jr. Faculty Achievement Award on May 21. In an email to the CEE community, Department head Markus Buehler wrote, “This award, the highest honor bestowed by the MIT faculty on one of its own members, recognizes extraordinary professional achievement, outstanding contributions to their fields, to MIT, and to society.” In 1988, she led a team that discovered a particularly tiny microorganism, Prochlorococcus, which is responsible for a significant fraction of ocean photosynthesis. Since then she has performed groundbreaking work exploring the ecology and evolution of this microbe, and last year won the country’s highest award for scientific research, the National Medal for Science.  Read more:

CLAIRITY capstone project selected for MIT Museum show

May 29, 2014

CLAIRITY capstone projectCLAIRITY, the senior capstone air quality network, was selected by the MIT Museum for its summer exhibition, Inventions: 2014 Student Showcase. The show features a number of different student projects that exemplify creativity and practical problem-solving. It runs May 30-Dec. 31.

Lorna Ogolla Omondi ’12 wins Gates Cambridge Scholarship

May 28, 2014

Lorna Ogolla Omondi ’12 Lorna Ogolla Omondi ’12 won a Gates Cambridge Scholarship to pursue an MPhil in management science and operations at the University of Cambridge. After completing this program, she will go to Stanford University for a master’s degree in management science and engineering in financial analytics. Since graduating from MIT, Omondi has worked as an energy analyst at Charles River Associates and Greylock McKinnon Associates. Her long-term goal is to return home to Kenya and hold a position where she can have an impact on public policy and the regulation of energy markets. Read the story.

Marta González and Carlos Herrera-Yague organize NetSci satellite symposium

May 27, 2014

Marta GonzálezProfessor Marta C. González and graduate student Carlos Herrera-Yague are organizers of a satellite symposium of NetSci2014. The symposium, titled Urban Systems and Networks, fosters network science as an effective method to analyze cities in quantitative ways. It will be held at the University of California at Berkeley June 2. González is on the program committee of NetSci2014, which will be held in Berkeley June 2-6.

Four in CEE involved in prize-winning teams in IDEAS competition

May 23, 2014

MIT IDEAS Global Challenge 2014CEE senior Sidhant Pai’s team — Protoprint — won $10,000 in the MIT IDEAS Global Challenge May 5. MyH2O, a team managed by doctoral student Charlene Ren, won a $1,500 prize in the competition, as did Ways2Clean, which includes sophomore Tamanna Islam Urmi on its team. Senior lecturer Susan Murcott mentored MyH2O and Ways2Clean, as well as a $10,000 prize-winning team — CleanData-CleanWater. Protoprint trains marginalized waste-pickers in India to use machines that convert plastics into filament for 3-D printing. MyH2O is one of the first online crowd-sourcing platforms for water pollution issues in China. Ways2Clean is redesigning the waste-collection system and teaching people in Dinajapur, Bangladesh, an awareness of the environment and how to manage waste in a sustainable way. CleanData-CleanWater makes sensors that fit onto a household tap to gather data about filter use in the developing world. Since 2002, Murcott has mentored 25 winning teams in the IDEAS competition. Of those, 64 percent are led by women. Read a story.

CSHub’s Lauren Clark's first book is published

May 23, 2014

Crafty Bastards: Beer in New England from the Mayflower to Modern DayIn Crafty Bastards: Beer in New England from the Mayflower to Modern Day (Union Park Press, 2014), Lauren Clark, communications officer for the Concrete Sustainability Hub, takes the reader through the history of beer in New England beginning with the Pilgrims, who landed in Plymouth because they were running low on beer, and into today's craft beer boom. Crafty Bastards is Clark’s first book.

Bori Stoyanova to receive MIT Infinite Mile Award for Excellence

May 22, 2014

Bori Stoyanova CEE personnel administrator Borislava Stoyanova has won an MIT Infinite Mile Award for Excellence from the School of Engineering (SOE). The award recognizes staff members who “stand out because of their high level of commitment and because of the enormous energy and enthusiasm they bring to their work,” says the SOE. The awards presentation will be Wednesday, May 21 from 3-5 p.m. in the Grier Room (34-401).

Sharon Lacey receives Arts at MIT grant

May 20, 2014

Sharon Lacey receives Arts at MIT grantCEE administrative assistant Sharon Lacey was awarded a Council for the Arts at MIT grant to fund the creation of a new series of paintings. For this project, entitled Psychomachia, Lacey will use a manuscript painting technique called tinted drawing, to produce a series of figurative works on full-size sheets of calfskin vellum. The completed paintings will be backlit to capitalize on the translucency of the materials and to emphasize ideas related to inner luminosity explored in the works, Lacey says. The project relates to her research at the University of London in medieval painting techniques, early workshop practice, and theories of light and optics among early philosophers.

Simchi-Levi’s methodology on supply chain risk assessment used in United Nations report

May 16, 2014

David Simchi-LeviA background paper written for the United Nations Office for Disaster Risk Reduction makes use of Professor David Simchi-Levi’s new methodology for assessing supply chain risk. “Flood Risks and Impacts Future Research Questions and Implication to Private Investment Decision-Making for Supply Chain Networks,” by Haraguchi and Lall, looks at the prolonged flooding in Thailand in 2011, which disrupted supply chains for the automotive and electronics industries, and had a devastating impact on the country’s economy. In the January/February 2014 Harvard Business Review, Simchi-Levi presented a new model for pinpointing the suppliers whose disruption would carry the greatest financial risk for a company, allowing officials to take preventative action to avoid such a disruption. Read a news story.

Researching ways to make stronger silk, MIT team makes connection to music

May 16, 2014

Researching ways to make stronger silk, MIT team makes connection to musicAn article about the work of Professor Markus Buehler published in the April 29 issue of Civil Engineering describes his work making connections between the patterns in spider silk and music. Kevin Wilcox writes: “As a feat of engineering, the spider’s web is vastly underrated. Some species of spiders, using only simple proteins as building blocks, spin a thread of silk that is stronger than a comparable strand of steel. An interdisciplinary team at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) working to understand how a spider creates this exceptional strand has made surprising connections between music and materials that hold the potential to make concrete stronger, lighter, and less expensive.” Read the story.

Senior Juan Carlos Murillo wins Challenge for Change competition

May 15, 2014

Grad student Juan Carlos Murillo wins Challenge for Change competitionJuan Carlos Murillo, a visiting student from Tecnologico de Monterrey is one of five winners of the Microsoft Youth Spark Challenge for Change. Murillo’s project, Sin Miedo a la Corriente (Spanish for “no fear of current”), encourages young teens to study electronics and computer science before they enter high school. Murillo began the program in Monterrey, Mexico, where undergraduates volunteer to teach teenagers about electricity by working with electric motors, batteries and generators, for instance, in projects that encourage critical thinking and a do-it-yourself attitude. The $2,500 cash prize (and free Microsoft software) will help Murillo continue this work. At MIT, Murillo works with research advisor Professor John Williams.

Joseph Sussman receives transportation Distinguished Researcher Award

May 15, 2014

Joseph SussmanJoseph Sussman, the JR East Professor of Civil and Environmental Engineering and Engineering Systems, was recently presented with the Transportation Research Forum’s Distinguished Researcher Award, which recognizes individuals with distinguished careers as research scholars in transportation. For more than 40 years, Sussman has been a leader in various fields of transportation research, and has been especially effective in building long-term collaborative research/education programs with both public and private support. He is author of Introduction to Transportation Systems, a graduate textbook published in 2000 that is used at many universities in the United States and worldwide. Read a news story.

CEE Awards Winners 2014

May 13, 2014

Catherine Cheng and Markus BuehlerCEE department head Professor Markus Buehler announced the names of the winners of the 2014 CEE awards in an informal ceremony held May 12 in Room 1-131. The ceremony was followed by an ice cream social. See the awards winners.

What’s in your air?

May 9, 2014

computer-generated image of CLAIRITY nodeEvery senior at MIT has come to know the campus in a personal way, having established favorite haunts for studying, eating, resting and playing during their four years at the Institute. But the Course 1 Class of 2014 is getting to know the campus on an even more intimate level, and wants to share that with others. These students just completed deployment of a highly sophisticated air-quality monitoring network that covers most of the 0.25-square-mile campus. The network, called CLAIRITY, has 24 indoor and outdoor sensor nodes that continuously measure gases and the small particles found in air pollution and send these data via wireless to a central computer. They formally launched the network and its web portal in a public presentation May 6. The network represents two semesters of work for the students, who designed, built and deployed the network as the capstone project in the CEE engineering design subject. Read a news story. See a photo album.

Bori Stoyanova will receive the MIT Laya Wiesner Community Award

May 8, 2014

Bori Stoyanova CEE personnel administrator Borislava Stoyanova will receive the MIT Laya Wiesner Community Award, established as a memorial to the wife of the late MIT President Jerome Wiesner. The award celebrates “a member or friend of the MIT community for conspicuously effective service that reflects Laya’s concerns for enhancing life at the Institute.” In addition to her work with CEE, Stoyanova plays an active role in the MIT community. She is the School of Engineering representative to the MIT Council on Staff Diversity and Inclusion and leads the school’s representation for the Careers Across MIT event; works with the office of the Vice President for Research to promote career services, online resources and overall MIT experience for postdoctoral researchers; designed and led workshops on job search skills for the MIT Spouses and Partners Career Connect Series; volunteered in the MIT Women’s League’s English Conversation Program; and is a member of the Latino Employee Resource Group. Stoyanova will receive the award at the MIT Awards Convocation May 8, at 4 p.m. in Room 10-250. The community is invited to the convocation and the reception that follows.

Chi Epsilon welcomes eight new members

May 6, 2014

Chi EpsilonThe MIT chapter of Chi Epsilon, the national civil engineering honor society, formally initiated eight new members April 27, and will welcomed them at a banquet May 5. Chi Epsilon recognizes students who are in the top third of their junior or senior class and possess scholarship, character, practicality and sociability, which the society calls the “four primary requirements of a successful engineer.” New members are seniors Derek Chang, Sidhant Pai, Priscilla Soto, Katherine Spies and juniors Michelle Dutt, Noor Khouri, Shante Stowell and Ashley Wheeler.

Course 1 seniors will demonstrate their new air-quality monitoring system May 6

May 1, 2014

CLAIRITY: An Air Quality Network for MIT's CampusCourse 1 seniors will demonstrate CLAIRITY — the air-quality sensor network they designed, built and deployed across campus — in a public presentation Tuesday, May 6 at 4 p.m. in Room 46-3002. The network is made up of 25 indoor and outdoor sensor nodes that measure gases and particles and transmit data wirelessly to a central server. The system is unique in that it measures air quality in many locations simultaneously. This is important because pollutant levels can vary dramatically from area to area, says Professor Jesse Kroll, who teaches the subject with Professor Colette Heald and lecturer Eben Cross. Boston, by comparison, has only five monitoring stations to measure air quality throughout the city’s 48 square miles. Read a story.

CEE seed funding fosters new multidisciplinary approaches

April 29, 2014

Professors Dennis McLaughlin and Saurabh Amin won MITCEE cross-disciplinary seed funding. They’re studying environment resource management strategies, for things like common pool aquifer pumping for crop irrigation. Photo / USDA Natural Resources Conservation ServiceTwo projects demonstrating the exciting opportunities that arise by combining the diverse research interests of faculty in CEE have been selected to receive inaugural CEE cross-disciplinary seed funding. The program provides a one-year graduate student fellowship for each project selected, and encourages faculty and graduate students to take new approaches to solving grand challenges in energy, environment, and sustainable materials, infrastructure and cities. The winning teams and projects are Professor Dennis McLaughlin and Professor Saurabh Amin for “Decentralized and Adaptive Environment Resource Management Strategies” and Professor Benjamin Kocar and Professor Martin Polz for “Deciphering Coupled Biogeochemical-Physical Processes Responsible for Methane Emission and Consumption within Structured Soils and Sediments.” Read a news release.

Call for nominations for CEE awards

April 28, 2014

CEE LogoThe department requests nominations for the department’s annual awards, including several new awards for undergraduate leadership and community, best doctoral thesis, postdoctoral scholars, and staff excellence. The deadline is Friday, May 2. The awards recognize the people whose dedication and commitment is critical to our success. Nominations should be submitted to Read more.

Course 1 seniors exhibit capstone projects at Cambridge Science Carnival

April 25, 2014

Seniors show projects to visitors at the science carnival Photo / Eben CrossCourse 1 seniors presented work from the capstone class at the Cambridge Science Festival’s Science Carnival held Saturday, April 19 at the Cambridge Public Library. Zach Balgobin, Sydney Beasley, Derek Chang and Paula Gonzalez showed their projects to more than 150 visitors, including children ranging in age from 0.5 to 13 years and their parents. The CEE students demonstrated the air quality sensor nodes they designed, built and deployed across campus, and displayed models of structural towers they built and tested to failure earlier this semester. According to CEE research scientist and capstone (1.S992, 1.013) instructor Eben Cross, feedback from visitors was along the lines of, “Wow, you built that?” and “That’s awesome!”

Ocean microbes display remarkable genetic diversity in each drop of seawater

April 25, 2014

Artist's rendering of genomice "backbone." Image / Carly Sanker/MITProfessor Sallie Chisholm and former postdoctoral associate Nadav Kashtan performed a cell-by-cell genomic analysis on a wild population of the marine microbe Prochlorococcus living in a milliliter — less than a quarter teaspoon — of ocean water, and found hundreds of distinct genetic subpopulations. Each subpopulation is characterized by a set of core gene alleles linked to a few flexible genes — a combination the CEE scientists call the “genomic backbone” — that endows the subpopulation with a finely tuned suitability for a particular ecological niche. Read a news story.

Professor Osorio receives 100 Colombians Award

April 24, 2014

Carolina OsorioProfessor Carolina Osorio was awarded the 100 Colombians Award by the Fusionarte Association of Colombia. The award recognizes the work of Colombians who excel in their fields and live outside the country. Osorio was honored for her work using operations research techniques to improve the design and operation of transportation systems. Awardees include physicians, architects, a film director, writers, jurists, a chef and other engineers. The award ceremony was hosted by the Colombian President Juan Manuel Santos at the presidential headquarters earlier this year.

Course 1 junior Billy Ndengeyingoma elected VP of MIT Undergraduate Association

April 22, 2014

Course 1 junior Billy Ndengeyingoma elected VP of MIT Undergraduate AssociationShruti Sharma, a junior in materials science and engineering, and running mate 1C junior Billy Ndengeyingoma were elected president and vice president of the MIT Undergraduate Association in March. Ndengeyingoma says his primary focus as vice president will be to “increase meaningful student involvement in the online education movement, improve faculty advising, create faculty mentoring programs and provide recommendations for long-term campus planning.” Read a story.

Cheer on Thomas Petersen as he runs Boston Marathon with MIT Strong

April 18, 2014

Thomas Petersen running the San Franciso marathonCEE graduate student Thomas Petersen is running the Boston Marathon with the MIT Strong team — not to compete, he says, but to honor the memory of Sean Collier, the MIT police officer who was slain April 18, 2013, in the wake of last year’s Boston Marathon bombing. To help Petersen raise $1,000 for the Collier Fund, donate at the MIT Strong website. Read a news story.

Markus Buehler to receive Journal of Applied Mechanics Award

April 17, 2014

Markus BuehlerProfessor Markus Buehler, head of CEE, will receive the American Society of Mechanical Engineers’ Journal of Applied Mechanics Award honoring the best paper published in the Journal of Applied Mechanics during the two calendar years preceding the award’s presentation. Buehler is being recognized for his paper, “Bioinspired Graphene Nanogut,” which was co-authored with CEE research scientist Zhao Qin and published in the November 2013 issue of the journal. The award will be presented at a banquet in November.

Khalid Jawed wins best talk award at American Physical Society meeting

April 15, 2014

Khalid Jawed and Noor KhourKhalid Jawed, a graduate student from Pedro Reis’ research group, won the Group on Statistical and Nonlinear Physics’ Best Student Speaker Award at the March meeting of the American Physical Society (APS) in Denver, Colo., for his talk, “Coiling Rods Onto Moving Substrates.” At the same meeting, Course 1 junior Noor Khouri, a UROP student in Reis’ lab, presented her research in a talk titled “The Propulsion of Filaments With Natural Curls.” Noor presented a short version of this talk at the CEE Research Speed Dating event in February.

CEE graduate student Philip Kreycik and team win prize in Department of Energy challenge

April 11, 2014

Philip KreycikCEE graduate student Philip William Kreycik led an MIT team that won a Best Proposal award in the Department of Energy’s Better Buildings Challenge. Kreycik, who is getting a dual master’s degree in city planning and transportation, led Akshay Dayal (Sloan School of Management), Delphine Kaiser (mechanical engineering) and Cheetiri Smith (mechanical engineering) in preparing the case study on “Experimenting with Efficiency: Greening the Grant Process for Research Institutions.” Other members of the same team, First Fuel, received the Most Innovative award for their case study on “Electri-City: Energy Management in Public Buildings.” The judging and awards for the competition was held in Washington. D.C., March 14.

In the cloud: How coughs and sneezes float farther than you think

April 10, 2014

In the cloud: How coughs and sneezes float farther than you thinkA study by CEE Professor Lydia Bourouiba and Professor John Bush of mathematics shows that coughs and sneezes have associated gas clouds that keep their potentially infectious droplets aloft over much greater distances than previously realized. The study finds the smaller droplets that emerge in a cough or sneeze may travel five to 200 times further than they would if those droplets simply moved as groups of unconnected particles — which is what previous estimates had assumed. The tendency of these droplets to stay airborne, re-suspended by gas clouds, means that ventilation systems may be more prone to transmitting potentially infectious particles than had been suspected. With this in mind, architects and engineers may want to re-examine the design of workplaces and hospitals, or air circulation on airplanes, to reduce the chances of airborne pathogens being transmitted among people. Read a story.

New Course 1 flexible undergraduate program prepares students to solve today’s grand challenges

April 9, 2014

1-ENG SchematicBeginning fall 2014, CEE will offer a new flexible undergraduate program, 1-ENG, which will give students the flexibility of designing their unique and challenging educational programs to suit their individual interests, career goals, and aspirations. Students can create any educational track by combining Course 1 foundational courses with a core subject area — mechanics and materials, environmental engineering science, systems, or a combination of these. Sample track templates include Energy; Bio-inspired Mechanics and Mechanics for Biology; Systems; Environmental Engineering Science with flavors in Biology, Chemistry and Physics; Civil Engineering; Structures, Architecture and Design; Sustainable Buildings and Cities; and Transportation. The program will provide students with a rigorous foundation in mathematics, computation, probability and statistics, and data analysis. Tracks emphasize quantitative approaches and offer ample opportunities to apply coursework through hands-on laboratory and project-oriented subjects. Read more. See 1-ENG requirements.

Graduate student Thomas Petersen joins MIT Strong Boston marathon team to raise money for Collier Fund

April 8, 2014

Thomas PetersenCEE's own Thomas Petersen, a graduate student working with Professor Franz-Josef Ulm's research group, has joined the MIT Strong Boston marathon team to help raise money for the Collier Fund. Petersen qualified for the marathon by placing 11th in the San Francisco marathon last year with a time of 2:42:59. "The Boston marathon is something that I've been looking forward to for awhile," says Petersen. "Running in support of MIT Strong makes the event even more special and is providing extra motivation to do well and represent our department within the MIT community in two weeks." If you'd like to show your support for Thomas Petersen by making a donation to the Collier Fund, you can do so online. Read more and/or make a donation to the Collier Fund.

Junior Marisa Fryer named an MIT Burchard Scholar

April 4, 2014

Junior Marisa Fryer named an MIT Burchard ScholarCourse 1 junior Marisa Fryer, an environmental engineering science major with a minor in literature, has been named a 2014 Burchard Scholar. The MIT School of Humanities, Arts and Social Sciences bestowed the award to 31 sophomores and juniors who have demonstrated academic excellence in the humanities, arts and social sciences, as well as in science and engineering. Read a story.

Urban transportation expertise gave HuMNet Lab an edge in MIT Big Data Challenge

April 3, 2014

HuMNet LabWhen the MIT Big Data Challenge asked, “What can you learn from data about 2.3 million taxi rides?” graduate students in CEE Professor Marta González’ Human Mobility and Networks Lab (HuMNet) had some answers. The students were able to predict the number of taxi pickups that had occurred in 700 time intervals at 36 locations in the Boston area, winning the competition. González and the students in her HuMNet Lab use statistical physics and network theory on massive-passive data generated by cellphones and other networked systems to identify relevant patterns and make inferences about human mobility and other aspects of city science. González teaches undergraduate and graduate courses in these methodologies and participates in CEE’s graduate degree program in computational science and engineering (CSE in CEE). Read a news release.

CEE student video competition winners: engineering waste for 3-D printing in India, rap about a vision for the future of civil and environmental engineering, and pollutant sampling

April 1, 2014

CEE student video competition 2014CEE held its first video competition March 14, screening 10 videos illustrating science and engineering advances that hold clues to a sustainable future. After the audience voted, official judges Professor Christopher Kaiser of biology and CEE Professor John Williams weighed the data and added their own assessments. Course 1 senior Sid Pai won first prize for a video chronicling a company he co-founded, Protoprint, that teaches waste pickers in India how to convert trash into filament for 3-D printers. A team of graduate students — Leon Dimas, Dieter Brommer, and Tristan Giesa — took second place prize for a rap video highlighting advances in their fields. Graduate student Jennifer Apell won third place for “New Samplers for Old Problems,” a video showing how to measure pollutant levels in contaminated sediment with a plastic sampler. View the videos. Read a story.

MIT Strong Boston Marathon team runs to support Collier Fund

March 31, 2014

MIT StrongMIT Strong, the MIT team running the Boston Marathon, is a group of 38 students, faculty, alumni and staff from every corner of the MIT community who are training hard and raising money for the Collier Fund. The team members are deeply appreciative of the widespread support they’ve received from the MIT community, and want to make people aware of this community-building activity. “Along with pausing and paying due attention to our loss from last April, we want to give the MIT community something to cheer for at this year’s marathon. Please help us,” the team says in a message to MIT. Any CEE members who have registered to run the marathon and would like to join the MIT Strong team or attend the post-marathon dinner may contact the team at For more information or to make a donation, visit the MIT Strong website. Read a story.

Franz Ulm discusses urban physics in the latest issue of Spectrvm

March 27, 2014

Franz UlmProfessor Franz-Josef Ulm made a connection between the patterns of houses and streets in an aerial photo of city and the underlying molecular structure of concrete. This observation led to research tying together the seemingly disparate disciplines of physics and urban planning. “Ultimately, I believe there’s potential for this to become a new field of study. It also could lead to new tools for architects and city planners,” says Ulm, the George Macomber Professor, in the current issue of MIT Spectrvm.

Professor John Ochsendorf named MacVicar Faculty Fellow

March 25, 2014

John OchsendorfJohn Ochsendorf, Class of 1942 Professor of Architecture and Professor of Civil and Environmental Engineering, was named a MacVicar Faculty Fellow in recognition of his exceptional undergraduate teaching, educational innovations and mentoring. An MIT News article states that “Ochsendorf’s peers say his background in archeology and civil engineering positions him to think across disciplines … As an adviser, Ochsendorf’s ‘capacity to bring out the best in our top students … is truly a thing to behold’ … Students also laud Ochsendorf’s mentoring style.”

CEE welcomes new faculty members Lydia Bourouiba and Benjamin Kocar

March 21, 2014

Lydia Bourouiba and Benjamin Kocar Two new faculty members — Lydia Bourouiba and Benjamin Kocar — joined CEE in January. “The department welcomes Lydia and Ben, and we are excited about the strengthening of key strategic directions,” says Professor Markus Buehler, head of CEE. “The influx of new research and educational initiatives defines the future of the department.” Bourouiba is an applied mathematician who works on problems at the interface of fluid dynamics and disease transmission. Kocar is a biogeochemist who studies chemical, physical and biological processes governing the cycling of elements in ecosystem. Read a news release.

Carolina Osorio receives Early Career Award from National Science Foundation

March 20, 2014

Carolina OsorioThe National Science Foundation (NSF) announced this month that CEE Assistant Professor Carolina Osorio will receive a 2014 Early Career Award for her project, “Simulation-Based Optimization Techniques for Urban Transportation Problems.” The Early Career Award is the NSF’s most prestigious award for young researchers. With the award, Osorio will continue development of simulation-based optimization algorithms that address challenging traffic management problems in congested urban areas around the world. Osorio’s work in operations research focuses on improving transportation systems to mitigate the economic, energy, environmental and human-health impacts of urban congestion; improve reliability and robustness; and enhance traveler experience. Read a news release.

CEE grad students organize MIT Water Night

March 20, 2014

2014 MIT Water NightCEE graduate student Himani Gupta is director of the MIT Water Club’s MIT Water Night 2014 and graduate student Xiaoyuan “Charlene” Ren is marketing director for the event, which will be held tonight, March 20, from 5-8 p.m. in Walker Memorial. Water Night provides a research showcase and networking opportunity for individuals and research groups at MIT and the Boston area engaged in water-related research. Gupta is doing a double master’s degree in environmental engineering and the Technology Policy Program. Ren is a first year master’s student in environmental engineering whose research focus is industrial wastewater treatment in paper mills.

Guastavino vaulting exhibition opens March 26 at the Museum of the City of New York

March 18, 2014

Photo / Jim.henderson An exhibition about the work of Rafael Guastavino, who is known for the vaulted ceilings he created in landmark buildings like the Boston Public Library, Ellis Island’s Registry Hall and the Grand Central Terminal in New York, N.Y., opens March 26 at the Museum of the City of New York. “Palaces for the People: Guastavino and America’s Great Public Spaces," an exhibition by Professor John Ochsendorf, was first shown at Boston's Public Library last year, then traveled to the National Building Museum in Washington, D.C., and now opens March 26 at the Museum of the City of New York. The exhibition will be augmented with an array of related events in New York City, including an April 5 walking tour of Midtown, an April 12 tour of old City Hall Station and the Transit Museum, a May 3 tour of uptown and the Bronx, and several panel discussions and presentations.

All MIT CEE invited to screening of videos inspired by NAE contest

March 14, 2014

National Academy of Engineering’s E4U video contestFriday, March 14 at 5 p.m. in Room 32-155 the department will host a video screening of entries in the CEE video competition inspired by the National Academy of Engineering’s E4U video contest. Refreshments, including freshly popped popcorn, candy and soda — just like at the movies! — will be served. CEE students and staff have created one- to two-minute videos showing engineering contributions that serve human welfare and the needs of society occurring anywhere from 1964 to 2064. Faculty and staff judges, along with audience participation, will determine the CEE winners: first prize $1,000, second prize $500 and third prize $250.

Researchers find that going with the flow makes bacteria stick

March 13, 2014

Researchers find that going with the flow makes bacteria stickIn a surprising new finding, researchers in CEE have discovered that bacterial movement is impeded in flowing water, enhancing the likelihood that the microbes will attach to surfaces. The new work could have implications for the study of marine ecosystems, and for our understanding of how infections take hold in medical devices. The findings, the result of microscopic analysis of bacteria inside microfluidic devices, were made by CEE postdoc Roberto Rusconi, former postdoc Jeffrey Guasto and Professor Roman Stocker. Their results are published in the journal Nature Physics. Read a news story.

Basic research uncovers the ‘invisible pasture of the sea’

March 11, 2014

Sallie (Penny) ChisholmPBS 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.

Grad students in González HuMNet Lab win the MIT Big Data Challenge

March 7, 2014

Jameson Toole’s interactive visualizationYingxiang 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.

CEE students model the world and invent the future

March 5, 2014

Scientific visualization of convection mixing pattern in porous mediaToday, 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.

MIT is top-rated civil and structural engineering program

March 4, 2014

QS World RankingsMIT is the top-rated civil and structural engineering program in the world according to the QS World Rankings by Subject released Feb. 26. QS named MIT No. 6 in environmental sciences. The rankings are published by Quacquarelli Symonds Ltd.

Benign design of materials now can avoid problems in the future

February 28, 2014

Philip GschwendProfessor 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.

Paper by Eric Adams and James Gensheimer S.M. '10 wins ASCE hydraulics prize

February 25, 2014

Eric AdamsThe 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.

MIT spinout Sanergy is impacting the entire ‘sanitation value chain’ in Nairobi slum

February 21, 2014

Shown here is a Fresh Life Toilet, which comes with necessary equipment for Fresh Life Operators to run their businesses. photo courtesy of SanergyOver 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.

CEE Research Speed Dating app identifies new synergies

February 19, 2014

2014 CEE Research Speed DatingThe 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.

M.Eng. students work in Uganda on a flood early warning system

February 18, 2014

William FinneyWilliam 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.

Grad student Michael Wittman compares consumer views of low-cost and major airlines

February 14, 2014

Grad student Michael Wittman compares consumer views of low-cost and major airlines In a study published in the Journal of Air Transport Management, CEE graduate student Michael Wittman found that passengers of low-cost airlines complain less than passengers on major airlines, even though the quality of service may be the same. Read a news story about this work.

In New Scientist, Buehler says music’s patterns can help create new materials

February 13, 2014

In New Scientist, Buehler says music’s patterns can help create new materialsIn 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

Researchers develop first detailed model for the 3-D shape of a strand of curly hair

February 13, 2014

Flexible, curved segments of tubing, each with a different degree of natural curvature, suspended from a structure in Pedro Reis lab. Credits: James Miller, Arnaud Lazarus and Pedro M. Reis (MIT).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.

Alison Hoyt reports on research in Southeast Asia in ‘Stories from the Swamp’ blog

February 11, 2014

Alison HoytDoctoral 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.

CEE Professor Cynthia Barnhart named MIT chancellor

February 10, 2014

Cindy BarnhartMIT 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.

Pedro Reis promoted to associate professor

February 10, 2014

Pedro ReisAssistant 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.

‘Invisible Coral Flows’ photo wins NSF/AAAS scientific visualization competition

February 7, 2014

water flows around coral polypsSeeking 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.

Sophomore Holly Josephs interviews Wesley Lau about his running habit

February 6, 2014

Holly Josephs and Wesley LauSophomore 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.

Faculty Profile: Professor Dara Entekhabi

February 4, 2014

Dara Entekhabi

Read a Q-and-A with Professor Dara Entekhabi, science team leader of a NASA satellite mission scheduled for launch November 2014.

Mining cellphone data to improve urban livability

January 31, 2014

Marta GonzálezBy 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.

Buehler named editor of a materials section of the journal Nanotechnology

January 28, 2014

Nanotechnology journalCEE 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.

How air pollution and climate change impact global food security

January 24, 2014

Colette HealdCEE 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.

Pedro Reis receives NSF’s Early Career Award for Smorphs project

January 21, 2014

Pedro ReisThe 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.

‘How to Do Science: Eat Lunch and Drink Coffee’ radio story featured on @PRX tumblr

January 14, 2014

‘How to Do Science: Eat Lunch and Drink Coffee’ radio story featured on @PRX tumblr 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.

December On Balance: More efficient use of traffic simulators

January 10, 2014

December 2013 issue of On Balance NewsletterThe 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.

Ahoy! Ocean vesicles spotted

January 10, 2014

Scientists in Sallie (Penny) Chisholm's lab documented the first extracellular vesicles produced by ocean microbes. The arrow points to one of these spherical vesicles in this scanning electron micrograph of the cyanobacteria, Prochlorococcus. Image / Steven Biller, Chisholm LabMarine 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.

New class of materials called ‘smorphs’ turns mechanical failure into functionality

January 9, 2014

Pedro ReisProfessor 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.

Department head Professor Markus Buehler presents vision for MIT CEE

January 7, 2014

Markus BuehlerEmphasizing 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.

Murcott continues working toward goal of safe drinking water for all

December 20, 2013

Several women from a village near Tamale, Ghana, test the filters that Pure Home Water will soon begin manufacturing. Photo courtesy of Susan MurcottRoughly 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.

Jesse Kroll receives AGU’s Macelwane Medal for his work in atmospheric chemistry

December 19, 2013

Professor Jesse KrollProfessor 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.

Concrete Sustainability Hub receives $10 million funding boost

December 17, 2013

MIT CSHubThe 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.

Hidden risk in supply chains: Analytical study finds no link between expenditures and supply-chain risk

December 16, 2013

David Simchi-LeviA 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.

Homing in on stressed coral

December 12, 2013

The coral surface represents an intense source of molecules, such as DMSP, that diffuse (yellow gradient) away from the surface, through the mucus layer and out into the surrounding water, thereby establishing chemical gradients that motile bacterial pathogens (not to scale) can use to navigate toward their host. Graphic / Glynn Gorick, Melissa Garren, Roman StockerCoral 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.

Treading Lightly: MIT researchers work with industry to shrink concrete’s environmental footprint

December 5, 2013

L to R: Krystyn Van Vliet of materials science and engineering; Franz-Josef Ulm, faculty director of the CSHub; Jeremy Gregory, executive director of the CSHub; and Roland Pellenq, scientific director of the CSHub, hope to manipulate cement at the molecular level to make it more environmentally benign. Photo / L. Barry HetheringtonCould 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.

Upside-down flower grabs liquid as its petals close

December 4, 2013

Pedro Reis and John Bush design an upside-down flower whose petals grab liquid as they closeMotivated 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.

Andrew Whittle delivers Buchanan Lecture at Texas A&M

December 3, 2013

Professor Andrew WhittleProfessor 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 On Balance: Hidden risk in supply chains

November 26, 2013

November 2013 On Balance NewsletterThe 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.

Graduate student Zhandos Orazalin wins geotech thesis competition

November 21, 2013

Zhandos OrazalinDoctoral 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.

Video features Pedro Reis and his research on thin, flexible structures

November 19, 2013

Pedro Reis“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.

David Simchi-Levi quoted in article about auto industry’s supply chain problems

November 15, 2013

David Simchi-LeviA 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.

Chi Epsilon to hold CEE Industry Panel

November 12, 2013

Chi Epsilon logoThe 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.

Research Breakfast gives snapshot of new research and educational initiatives in CEE

November 8, 2013

CEE Research BreakfastEmphasizing 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

Transportation students Krishna Kumar Selvam and Setareh Borjian awarded 2nd place in INFORMS Railway Applications competitionMaster 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.

Parsons Lab Halloween party another shrieking success

October 31, 2013

Parsons Lab Halloween Party 2013Once 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.

Ph.D. student Anna Tarakanova wins poster award at Gordon Conference

October 29, 2013

Anna TarakanovaDoctoral 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 On Balance: Malaria transmission in Africa in a changing climate

October 24, 2013

October 2013 OnbalanceThe 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.

John Germaine to head ASTM International committee on soil and rock

October 22, 2013

ASTM International logoJohn 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.

Pedro Reis blogs about thin elastic rods on iMechanica

October 18, 2013

Professor Pedro ReisProfessor 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.

3-D printed materials mimic nature: Markus Buehler’s work in New Scientist

October 17, 2013

3-D printed materials mimic nature: Markus Buehler’s work in New ScientistA 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.

2013 MIT Technology Review’s TR35 award winner Yu Zheng gives talk on Urban Computing

October 10, 2013

2013 MIT Technology Review’s TR35 award winner Yu Zheng gives talk on Urban ComputingOn 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.

CEE announces new associate department head, other leadership appointments

October 3, 2013

Professors Elfatih Eltahir, Philip Gschwend, and Daniele VenezianoProfessor 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.

Grad student Yingxiang Yang wins best paper award at UrbComp workshop

September 25, 2013

Grad student Yingxiang Yang won best paper award at UrbComp 2013 workshopGraduate 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.

MIT Concrete Sustainability Hub will hold annual research showcase Sept. 26

September 24, 2013

Building for Life: MIT CSHub Showcase 2013The 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.

Two transportation grad students receive Eisenhower Fellowships

September 19, 2013

Linsen Chong and Franco Chingcuanco receive 2013 Eisenhower FellowshipsTransportation 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.

CEE faculty (with a little help from friends) defeat grad students at annual softball game

September 18, 2013

Ryan Westrom at the 2013 CEE registration day softball gameWith 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.

Pedro Reis named to Popular Science’s Brilliant 10 list

September 16, 2013

Photo / Stuart DarschPopular 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.

Ruben Juanes unravels the mysteries of underground flows

September 16, 2013

Ruben JuanesProfessor 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.

Eltahir study says climate change not likely to worsen malaria situation in West Africa

September 16, 2013

This large pool of water near Banizoumbou, Niger, formed during monsoon season and became a breeding site for mosquitoes.  Photo / Teresa YamanaAs 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.

Public discussion and private sector involvement on Hyperloop could speed up the usual design process, writes Saurabh Amin

August 14, 2013

proposed Hyperloop high-speed transport systemIn 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.

Controlling contagion by restricting mobility

July 31, 2013

Warm colors indicate geographical areas where government-mandated routing strategies aimed at minimizing the chance of contagion for the individual lead to a large exposure of the disease for the social group as a whole. Graphic / Christos Nicolaides, Juanes GroupIn 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.

Sallie (Penny) Chisholm awarded the Ramon Margalef Prize in Ecology

July 30, 2013

Professor Sallie (Penny) ChisholmThe 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

A mussel collected in Boston Harbor clings to a clay slab, attached by an array of thin filaments called byssus threads. New MIT research has revealed the secret of the resilience of these threads. Photo \ Zhao QinUnlike 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.

Alumnus Guy Nordenson recommends readiness measures to help NYC weather hurricanes

July 19, 2013

Alumnus Guy Nordenson. Photo \ Princeton UniversityAfter 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.

Transportation grad students tour and tweet on the 'T’

July 17, 2013

Graduate students from the MIT Transit Lab spent a day getting to know the Massachusetts Bay Transportation Authority’s subway systemGraduate 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.

Phytoplankton harness turbulence for travel to social gatherings

July 15, 2013

These images from supercomputer simulations show that nonmotile phytoplankton (left) are distributed evenly throughout the cube, whereas the motile phytoplankton (right) form patches. Photo \ W. M. Durham, E. Climent, M. Barry, F. De Lillo, G. Boffetta, M. Cencini and R. Stocker 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.

CEE team looks at how anthropogenic emissions interact with organic compounds emitted by trees

July 10, 2013

Professor Jesse Kroll, Eben Cross and Jon Franklin are participating in a large study of the atmosphere in the southeastern United States. They set up their equipment in one of the trailers at this field site in the Talladega National Forest in Alabama. Photo / Southeast Atmosphere StudyProfessor 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.

Marine microbes change swimming direction via a high-speed mechanical instability

July 9, 2013

Motile marine bacteria exploit a buckling instability of the flexible hook (green) at the base of their flagellum (yellow) to change swimming direction, turning what is otherwise a structural failure into a fundamental biological function. Graphic / Kwangmin Son, Jeffrey Guasto, Glynn Gorick and Roman StockerBacteria 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.

Concrete Sustainability Hub names Jeremy Gregory as executive director

July 2, 2013

Jeremy Gregory

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.

MIT News ran story about grad student Leon Dimas and the outreach organization he co-founded

July 1, 2013

Leon Dimas (right) guides a group discussion on negative numbersAn after-school mathematics outreach organization, MITxplore, co-founded by graduate student Leon Dimas, was the topic of story on MIT News May 28. The organization held a Math Treasure Hunt on the MIT campus earlier in May.

Second edition of airport systems textbook by de Neufville, Odoni and co-authors is published

June 27, 2013

Airport SystemsProfessors 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.

Gabriel Juarez poster wins first prize in MIT postdoc competition

June 26, 2013

Gabriel Juarez poster wins first prize in MIT postdoc competitionA 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.”

Hooding and Commencement party photos posted on Facebook

June 25, 2013

2013 doctoral degree recipientsWe 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!

Professor Herbert Einstein receives Seegal Prize for exceptional teaching and mentoring

June 21, 2013

Herbert EinsteinAt 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.

Researchers develop method to design synthetic bone and quickly turn the design into reality

June 17, 2013

Markus Buehler and team designed and printed this simulated bone and nacre with a brick-and-mortar pattern, shown here with real nacre found in the inner shell of molluscs.  Photo / Graham BratzelResearchers 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.

Moshe Ben-Akiva edits new book on freight transport modeling

June 13, 2013

book titled "Freight Transport Modeling"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.

Markus Buehler talks about fragility in nature on BBC's 'The Forum'

June 12, 2013

BBC ForumProfessor 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).

M.S.T. student Krishna Kumar Selvam receives Eisenhower fellowship

June 11, 2013

Krishna Kumar SelvamFirst-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.

Undergrads and alumna make podcast series as part of NSF grant outreach

June 11, 2013

Linda Seymour, Shante Stowell and Elise HensAs 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.

Carolyn Jundzilo-Comer wins SOE Infinite Mile Award for Excellence

June 10, 2013

Carolyn Jundzilo-ComerCarolyn 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.

CEE awards 145 degrees in 2012-13

June 6, 2013

Commencement 2013On 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.

Course 1 engineering design class provides springboard to CEE careers

June 5, 2013

A team of seniors designed this energy-efficient building making use of green space, geothermal energy, solar panels and rainwater harvesting. The students also performed environmental and geotechnical assessmenta of the site, and planned for pedestrian and vehicle traffic.  Image / Nicole WangWhether 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

Microfluidic device involved in high-throughput sorting of microbial cells. (Roman Stocker)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.

MIT Steel Bridge team won 2nd place at nationals

June 4, 2013

2013 MIT Steel bridge team at the national competitionThe 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.

Professors Nigel Wilson and Joseph Sussman talk transportation at Volpe Center

June 3, 2013

Nigel Wilson and Joseph SussmanProfessor 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.

Professor Markus Buehler has been named head of CEE

May 30, 2013

Markus BuehlerProfessor 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.

Terrascope Radio story focuses on mining in the U.S.

May 23, 2013

Photo / Lealia XiongThe 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.

Ruben Juanes and John Germaine won Maseeh Award for teaching

May 22, 2013

Ruben Juanes and John GermaineRuben 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.”

Tara Soni was awarded the Busch Prize

May 22, 2013

Tara Soni 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.”

Grossman Award went to Linda Seymour

May 22, 2013

Linda SeymourLinda 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.

M.Eng. student Zahraa Nasim Saiyed received Tucker-Voss Award

May 22, 2013

Zahraa Nasim SaiyedM.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.”

M.Eng. students Leonidia Garbis and Matthew Pires won Kaalstad Fellowship

May 22, 2013

Leonidia Garbis and Matthew PiresThe 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.”

Pierre Ghisbain received Maseeh Award for Excellence as a Teaching Assistant

May 22, 2013

Pierre GhisbainThe 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.

Grad student Leon Dimas organizes Math Day Treasure Hunt for elementary school children

May 21, 2013

Leon DimasCEE 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

Manufacturing and Service Operations Management SocietyProfessor 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.

Oral Buyukozturk is a lead PI on project to create 3-D model of Green Building

May 16, 2013

Green Building projectProfessor 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.

Video focuses on John Ochsendorf's ideas for reducing 'embodied' energy of buildings

May 15, 2013

John OchsendorfUsing 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.

Grad student's research on airline industry appears on NPR and Wall Street Journal

May 14, 2013

Mike WittmanA 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.

CEE undergrad wins prize for web-based satellite mapping idea

May 13, 2013

Juhee BaeJuhee 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.

Human mobility study shows that people organize daily travel efficiently

May 8, 2013

Marta González and Christian SchneiderStudies 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.

CEE seniors to test bridge designs TODAY and present major projects next week

May 8, 2013

1.013 Seniors testing bridge designCEE 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.

Chi Epsilon welcomes eight new MIT members

May 7, 2013

Chi EpsilonThe 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.

CEE’s Saurabh Amin is chief scientist on multi-institutional NSF grant

May 6, 2013

Saurabh Amin

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.

Eric Adams featured on Industrial Liaison Program website

May 6, 2013

Eric AdamsEric 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.

Three from CEE elected to Phi Beta Kappa

May 2, 2013

Phi Beta KappaCEE 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.

Heidi Nepf and Martin Polz honored at MIT Awards Convocation

May 1, 2013

Heidi Nepf and Martin PolzAt 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.

Chisholm Lab featured by Oceans at MIT

April 30, 2013

Professor Sallie (Penny) ChisholmThe 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.

Two transportation students receive prestigious Canadian scholarship

April 26, 2013

Franco Chingcuanco and Raphael Dumas 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.

MIT Steel Bridge Team places first in the regional competition held Saturday at MIT

April 25, 2013

2013 ASCE Steel Bridge competitionThe 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.

Professor Emeritus Charles Ladd featured in magazine's 'Geo-Legends' series

April 23, 2013

Charles C. LaddThe 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.

Two transportation students honored as MIT Graduate Women of Excellence

April 23, 2013

Naomi Stein and Allison (Sunny) VanderbollM.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

Fidele Bingwa, Francesca Cecinati and Yan MaA 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.

Grad student Zeid Alghareeb receives $150K seed grant for energy research

April 18, 2013

Zeid AlghareebDoctoral 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.

Freeman Lecture on hurricane storm barrier design

April 18, 2013

2013 Freeman LectureCEE 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.

CEE researchers decipher the molecular basis of bone’s strength and resiliency

April 17, 2013

This diagram shows a molecular view of the structure of bone. 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.

Simchi-Levi honored by Production and Operations Management Society

April 16, 2013

David Simchi-LeviThe 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.

Susan Murcott speaks at EPA women's retreat

April 12, 2013

Susan MurcottSenior 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.”

Melissa Garren wins best-talk award at symposium on aquatic microbial interactions

April 11, 2013

Melissa GarrenPostdoctoral 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.

Professor David Simchi-Levi to lead new Accenture-MIT collaboration

April 10, 2013

The Accenture and MIT Alliance in Business AnalyticsMIT 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.

Pedro Reis and Ken Kamrin develop semi-online course for 2.002 Mechanics and Materials II

April 9, 2013

Pedro ReisAssistant 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.

Professor Markus Buehler named 2013 recipient of the Robert Lansing Hardy Award

April 8, 2013

Markus BuehlerProfessor 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.

McGarry, professor emeritus in CEE and materials science and engineering, dies at 86

April 8, 2013

Professor Frederick McGarryFrederick 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.

MIT Water Night provides networking opportunity for researchers in industry and academia

April 5, 2013

MIT Water Night March 2013About 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.

Professor Joseph Sussman to give webinar on complex sociotechnical systems

April 4, 2013

Joseph SussmanAs 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.

Graduate student Jameson Toole is featured in MIT News profile

April 3, 2013

Jameson TooleDoctoral 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.

Ulm and Concrete Sustainability Hub named to engineering list of top newsmakers

April 2, 2013

Franz-Josef UlmEngineering 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.

Researchers awarded $3.7 million for research on sustainable development in Kuwait

March 28, 2013

Oral BuyukozturkProfessor 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.

IPhone app created by lecturer Paul Kassabian uses visuals to teach structural behavior

March 21, 2013

iphone/ipad app iconCEE 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.

Senior Marisa Simmons featured in MIT News story

March 20, 2013

Marisa SimmonsA 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.

CEE Professor Martin Polz will receive the American Society for Microbiology’s Elanco Award

March 20, 2013

Martin PolzThe 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.

ASTM subcommittee on hydraulic fracturing begins the work of setting industry standards

March 19, 2013

ASTM International logoA 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.

Blog names David Simchi-Levi to list of top 10 thought leaders in supply chain management

March 18, 2013

SCM Operartions logoPrompted 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.

CEE postdoc and grad student volunteered at the Massachusetts high school marine science quiz bowl

March 15, 2013

National Ocean Science BowlThe 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.

CDO/CCE Symposium features Stephen Wolfram and Sandy Pentland

March 14, 2013

CDO CCE LogoProfessor 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

Amer Deirieh

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.

Grad student Anna Tarakanova and Professor Markus Buehler win JOM Best Paper Award

March 12, 2013

Anna TarakanovaGraduate 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.

Transportation grad student Andrés Felipe Archila wins 2013 Carroll L. Wilson Award

March 8, 2013

Andrés Felipe ArchilaThe 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

Saurabh Amin

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.

Nature publishes feature article about the Concrete Sustainability Hub

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.

Globe story covers Marta González work using cellphone data to analyze Boston traffic congestion

February 27, 2013

traffic congestion map of Boston areaResearch 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.

CEE grad student is in semifinals of Washington business plan competition

February 26, 2013

Shengkun YangShengkun 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).

Legos and leaves help inspire children to learn science during AAAS event

February 22, 2013

AAAS Family Science Days 2013CEE 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.

Alumnus Daniel Jimenez named a Gates Cambridge Scholar for 2013

February 21, 2013

Daniel JimenezCEE 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.

MIT Water Night will offer chance to learn about MIT water-related research

February 20, 2013

MIT Water ClubCEE 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 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.

Jesse Kroll's research group will participate in AAAS Family Science Days

February 14, 2013

Jess Kroll Research Group LegoAt 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.

CEE Research Speed Dating Event rescheduled for Friday, Feb. 15

February 13, 2013

Research Speed Dating logo

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.

Concrete Sustainability Hub to hold 'Meet the Hub' event

February 7, 2013

CSH logo

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.

Booth at AAAS Family Days will publicize the work of CEE

February 6, 2013

AAAS Family Science Days 2013Students 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.

CEE Research Speed Dating Event begins at 1 p.m. Friday

February 5, 2013

Research Speed Dating logo

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.

Podcast on the nanomechanics of spider webs makes ASME's top 5 list

January 31, 2013

Spider webA podcast featuring Professor Markus Buehler discussing his work on spider webs' strength made the top 5 list of the American Society of Mechanical Engineers' most popular videos and podcasts of 2012.

The Concrete Producer names the Concrete Sustainability Hub to Industry Influencers list

January 30, 2013

CSH logo

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.

Article about Roman Stocker appears in Live Science

January 30, 2013

Roman StockerA 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.

Southwest Airline's Spirit magazine runs story about CEE pavement research

January 29, 2013

Paving SavingA 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

public transitA 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.

Presentation by TREX 2013 undergrads makes headlines in Hawaii

January 28, 2013

TREX 2013CEE 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.

Buehler's work on graphene's surface properties appears in Nature Materials

January 25, 2013

Water on Graphene

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.

John Germaine to chair ASTM subcommitte to develop hydraulic fracking standards

January 24, 2013

John GermaineASTM 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.

CEE students build replica of Guastavino vaulted ceiling at Boston Public Library

January 23, 2013

Nicky Soane works on the Guastavino vault replica at the Boston Public Library 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

marine bacterioplanktonMicrobiologists 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.

Fourteen undergrads chase a plume of volcanic smog in Hawaii

January 17, 2013

TREX 2013Undergrads 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.

Flood Warning System for the Manafwa River Basin

January 16, 2013

Franceca CecinatiThree M.Eng students will create a hydrological model of the Manafwa River basin, Uganda, as the first step in preparing an early warning flood system for the region. Francesca Cecinati blogs. Read and subscribe to Cecinati’s blog.

Studying the Groundwater of the Sparta Aquifer in Arkansas

January 15, 2013

Rob Sowby and Joyce ZhuTwo 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.

Ryan Westrom reports from TRB in Washington

January 14, 2013

Ryan WestromHundreds 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.

TREX 2012 fieldwork yields poster presented at scientific meeting last fall

January 9, 2013

TREX 2012Zara 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.

Children's book co-authored by Penny Chisholm honored by AAAS

January 7, 2013

Ocean Sunlight by Sallie (Penny) ChisholmOcean 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.

Book by David Simchi-Levi makes list of top-cited books

January 4, 2013

Designing and Managing the Supply Chain 3e by David Simchi-LeviThe 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.

Sallie (Penny) Chisholm awarded the National Medal of Science

January 3, 2013

Penny Chisholm awarded the National Medal of ScienceProfessor 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.

Markus Buehler will co-chair conference about integrating nanoengineering with medicine and biology

January 3, 2013

NEBM 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.

Herbert Einstein named a Fellow of the International Society for Rock Mechanics

January 3, 2013

Herbert EinsteinThe 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

color of the road segment 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.

Andrew Whittle to talk about coastal flood protection in online alumni event

December 18, 2012

Slice of MITIn 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

Long Chain FlexibilityProfessor 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.

Postdoc Gabriel Juarez awarded travel grant by MIT Postdoctoral Association

December 14, 2012

Gabriel JuarezPostdoctoral 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

Oral Buyukozturk book 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.

Roman Stocker finds big effects from tiny organisms

December 13, 2012

Roman StockerMIT 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.

Oceans at MIT website features a story on Roman Stocker's microfluidics research lab

December 13, 2012

microfluidic device 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.

Professor Emeritus Charles Ladd will receive ASCE lifetime achievement award

December 12, 2012

Ladd Birthday PartyThe 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.

Susan Murcott presents keynote lecture on water scarcity at Science for Peace Forum in Milan

December 12, 2012

Susan MurcottSenior 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.

Penny Chisholm named a AAAS fellow for her pioneering studies of Prochlorococcus

December 11, 2012

Professor Sallie (Penny) ChisholmThe 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

Edward Delong and Roman StockerThree 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.

Video of the first Chiang C. Mei Lecture now online

December 7, 2012

First Chiang-Mei Lecture 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.

Interview with Professor Chiang Mei featured on the Oceans at MIT website

December 6, 2012

Chiang-MeiA 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.

Zenzile Brooks writes about MIT's Glass Lab for Materials Research Science Bulletin

December 5, 2012

Glass LabAn 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.

Whittle gives invited lecture at Oskar von Miller Forum

December 4, 2012

Whittle - Oskar von Miller ForumProfessor 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.

Researchers synthesize a new kind of silk fiber

November 28, 2012

image of silk fiber structure 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.

Jerome Connor’s sixth textbook is published

November 19, 2012

Fundamentals of Structural Engineering 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.

Charles Harvey to receive Prince Sultan Bin Abdulaziz International Prize for Water

November 16, 2012

Charles Harvey 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.”

Professor Kroll is recipient of Whitby Award for his work in aerosol chemistry

November 15, 2012

Jesse Kroll 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.”

To be or not to be a hunter: the tradeoffs of foraging in turbulent waters

November 9, 2012

Detailed computer simulation shows how a particle of nutrients gets distributed by turbulent water. Image courtesy of John R. Taylor and Roman StockerOceanographers 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

Size diversity in cement nanoparticles optimizes packing density to give concrete its strength

November 8, 2012

Enrico Masoero, Franz-Josef Ulm and Roland Pellenq

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.

Carbon dioxide makes ice crystals more apt to fracture

November 8, 2012

ice fractureNew 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.

Under-the-sea themed jack-o'-lanterns win Parsons Lab’s Halloween contest

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.

Story on pavements’ impact on vehicle fuel use appears in Engineering News Record

November 1, 2012

Engineering News Record logoReporter 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

Roman StockerProfessor 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.'”

Murcott produces compendium of arsenic contamination

October 30, 2012

book coverSenior 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.

MIT News provides snapshot of CEE research, education and people

October 25, 2012

Department snapshotCEE 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.

Strategic report describes CEE’s six research domains

September 27, 2012

CEE Strategic Report 2012Through 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.

Postdocs win awards for work in microbial ecology

September 20, 2012

Yutaka YawataMelissa GarrenTwo 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."

Osorio receives operations research award for her dissertation

September 19, 2012

Carolina OsorioIn 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. 

Community invited to Rafael Reif inaugration events

September 18, 2012

Rafael ReifAll 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.

CEE faculty, staff and students invited to CSH symposium

September 17, 2012

CSH logo

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.

Julian Hunt to give first Chiang C. Mei Lecture in Applied Mechanics

September 13, 2012

Julian HuntCEE 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.”

Buehler's work on spider silk reaches new audiences

September 12, 2012

Spider SilkIn 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.

Juanes group research highlighted by PRL

September 11, 2012

Capillary FracturingA 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.

Weapon-wielding marine microbes may protect populations from foes

September 7, 2012

Martin Polz and Otto CorderoCompetition 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.

Mack Durham to receive APS fluid dynamics' thesis award

September 6, 2012

William "Mack" DurhamThis 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."

Longtime CEE professor, Robert Hansen, dies at age 91

September 5, 2012

Robert HansenProfessor 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.

Ulm quoted in Technology Review article on fracking

September 4, 2012

Fracking site in Pennsylvania 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.

MIT Steel Bridge Team takes second place at national competition

August 31, 2012

Steel Bridge 2012The 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.

Simchi-Levi study shows 'reshoring' trend in U.S. manufacturing

August 30, 2012

US Companies planning to reshoreResearch 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.

Chisholm's co-authors a second science book for children

August 29, 2012

Ocean Sunlight by Sallie (Penny) ChisholmAs 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.

Fred Salvucci honored by Eno Center for Transportation

August 24, 2012

Fred Salvucci honored by Eno Center for TransportationThis 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.

MIT ranks No. 1 in civil engineering worldwide

July 30, 2012

QS World University Rankings 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.

New study of disease contagion ranks U.S. airports in terms of their spreading influence

July 23, 2012

This world map shows flight routes from the 40 largest U.S. airportsPublic 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.

Steel Bridge Team places 2nd at National Competition

June 29, 2012

Steel bridge 2012Congratulations 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.

New PhDs feted at luncheon

June 28, 2012

2012 Hooding LuncheonFollowing 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.

CEE awards 115 degrees in 2011-12

June 28, 2012

MIT Commencement 2012On 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.

New book written by Buehler and Cranford is released

June 26, 2012

BiomateriomicsProfessor 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.

Recent graduate Cheng named an AAUW Fellow

June 22, 2012

Tiffany ChengTiffany 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.

Orosz receives Echoing Green Fellowship in food, agriculture and environment category

June 21, 2012

Matt OroszCEE'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."

Grad student Naomi Stein blogs about Eno transportation conference

June 6, 2012

Naomi SteinTransportation 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.

Margaret Wildnauer awarded travel fellowship

May 25, 2012

Margaret Wildnauer 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.

Daniel Jimenez one of 5 MIT Fulbright Scholars

May 24, 2012

Daniel JimenezRecent 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.

Two teams from Murcott's D-Lab class win prize money

May 23, 2012

Susan MurcottTwo 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.”

CEE student, Juhee Bae, is on winning team in Global Challenge Competition

May 23, 2012

Juhee BaeOpenIR, 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.

Civil engineers find savings where the rubber meets the road

May 22, 2012

Pavement SavingA 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.

SOE award for grad student teaching goes to Chelsea Humbyrd

May 18, 2012

Chelsea HumbyrdA 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.

Grossman Award goes to Lorna Omondi

May 18, 2012

Lorna OmondiLorna 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.”

Lecturer Lisa O’Donnell receives CEE award

May 18, 2012

Lisa O'DonnellLong-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.”

Tzipora Wagner is awarded the Busch Prize

May 18, 2012

Tzipora WagnerSenior 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.”

M.Eng. student Brooke Goodman receives Tucker-Voss Award

May 18, 2012

Brooke GoodmanThe 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?”

Grad student Zenzie Brooks wins Kaalstad Fellowship

May 18, 2012

Zenzie BrooksThe 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.”

Rory Clune receives Maseeh Award for Excellence as a Teaching Assistant

May 18, 2012

Rory Clune 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.”

Roman Stocker wins Maseeh Award for teaching

May 18, 2012

Roman StockerProfessor 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.”

Heidi Nepf receives School of Engineering’s Spira Award for teaching

May 18, 2012

Heidi NepfThe 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.”

Grad student Zhao Qin receives scholarship award

May 17, 2012

Zhao QinPh.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

Alexis JudenaCEE 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.

1E senior Bus Leonard receives MIT's Howard Johnson Award for athletic achievement

May 14, 2012

Bus LeonardAt 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."

Penny Chisholm receives award for her work warning of dangers of ocean fertilization

May 11, 2012

oceanProfessor 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.

Stocker lab publishes two papers on the fluid dynamics of microbial swimming

May 10, 2012

RheotaxisIn 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.

CEE undergrad on MIT presidential search committee

May 9, 2012

Kimberly SparlingAs 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.

Course 1 junior elected UA president

May 8, 2012

Jonté CraigheadOn 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.

Phi Beta Kappa elects two CEE students

May 7, 2012

Michael Chen Tzipora WagnerIn 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.

Two CEE staff receive Infinite Miles Awards

May 1, 2012

Patricia Dixon John MacFarlaneAt 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.

Grad student Amer Deirieh attends Global Fellows program

April 27, 2012

Amer DeiriehDoctoral 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.

Chi Epsilon welcomes nine new members

April 26, 2012

MIT - Chi EpsilonThe 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.

Civil Engineer ranks 6th in U.S. News & World Report's list of 'best technology jobs'

April 23, 2012

US News & World Report Best Jobs iconU.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.

Buyukozturk and Chen win ASNT Award

April 18, 2012

Justin ChenOral BuyukozturkProfessor 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.

Markus Buehler honored by three professional societies and featured in MIT News profile

April 17, 2012

Markus BuehlerProfessor 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.

Two CEE faculty give Tau Beta Pi DaVinci Lectures

April 13, 2012

MIT Tau Beta PiProfessor 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.

Penny Chisholm interviewed by Chemical & Engineering News

April 12, 2012

Sallie W. (Penny) ChisholmChemical & 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.

Herbert Einstein featured in World Tunneling magazine

April 11, 2012

Herbert EinsteinAn interview with Professor Herbert Einstein ran in the January/February 2012 issue of World Tunneling magazine. In the article, titled "A Rock-Solid Career," Einstein comments on tunneling research and education and on recent important advances in rock mechanics and tunneling.

Franz Ulm to receive ASCE's von Karman Medal

April 10, 2012

Franz UlmThe 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.

Study opens door to concept of ‘species’ in bacteria

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.

2012 Steel Bridge Team places 2nd at regional competition

April 2, 2012

2012 MIT Steel Bridge team at regional awards ceremonyThe 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.

Purifying rainfall collection systems in the developing world

April 2, 2012

Village in RwandaAt 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.

Inspired by a toy, the ‘buckliball’ opens new avenue in the design of 3-D origami-like structures

March 27, 2012

buckliballLooking 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.

A century’s worth of CO2 emissions can be safely stored underground

March 26, 2012

CO2 emissionsA 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.

CEE Professor Emeritus Robert Whitman dies at 84

March 1, 2012

Robert WhitmanLongtime 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.

Researchers create first large-scale model of human mobility that incorporates human nature

February 28, 2012

Mobility Migration ModelFor 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.

CEE researchers interviewed on Voice of Russia radio program

February 16, 2012

Voice of Russia radio programAn English-language interview with David Spivak, a postdoctoral associate in mathematics, and CEE Professor Markus J. Buehler and graduate student Tristan Giesa by the Voice of Russia radio program explores the MIT researchers' work using mathematical ologs to compare the structure of spider silk with that of a musical composition. Listen to the interview.

CEE Research Speed Dating event to be held Friday, Feb. 10

February 8, 2012

Research Speed Dating logoThis 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.

Engineering News Record features story about MIT's Concrete Sustainability Hub

February 7, 2012

A molecular model of C-S-HProfessor 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.

Entekhabi gives Horton Lecture in Hydrology at AMS meeting

February 6, 2012

Dara EntekhabiProfessor 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.

Explaining a spider web’s strength

February 2, 2012

Spider Nature CoverThe 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.

Science's NextGenVoices selects CEE grad student's essay for publication

January 31, 2012

Dianne KamfonikAn 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."

Tiffany Cheng wins scholarship from Rhode Island environmental engineering organization

January 31, 2012

Tiffany ChengSenior 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.

Viruses con bacteria into working for them

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.

Live the virtual life: Follow TREX 2012 in Hawaii via the blog

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.

Grad student Kevin Muhs blogs from TRB

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.

M.Eng. students work on drinking water and sanitation systems in Ghana

January 12, 2012

Adam Questad 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.

Students help test the waters for recreational activities in a reservoir

January 12, 2012

LIS SolutionsThe 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.

Senior Scott Landers wins scholarship

January 10, 2012

Scott LandersSenior 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.

Pedro Reis talks about the mathematics of tree shapes and the clapping of books

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.

Birendra Jha's image featured in 'Back Scatter' and 'Kaledioscope'

January 9, 2012

Viscous fingersAn 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.

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.

Traditional social networks fueled Twitter's spread

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.

The Folk Art of Science: 10 Great Research Graphics

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.

Hydroclimatology student Hamed Alemohammad selected for AGU committee

January 3, 2012

CEE doctoral student Hamed Alemohammad 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.

ERC airs proposal for Global Environment Initiative

January 3, 2012

image of earth from spaceAs 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.

Graduate student Samar Malek wins Marshall Sherfield Fellowship

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.

Hip-hop’s GZA, the Genius, tours MIT labs, including Penny Chisholm’s

December 12, 2011

Image / Sophia Chang (GZA Facebook Fan Page)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.

De Neufville's book encourages adding flexibity to engineering design

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.

Image by Birendra Jha appears in two popular science magazines

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.

Researchers link patterns seen in spider silk, melodies

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.

Hank Spaulding, devoted CEE alumnus and MIT Corporation member, dies at 84

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.

Buehler named co-director of Computation for Design and Optimization graduate program

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."

CEE postdoc Vitaly Belik is co-author of work about human mobility and the spread of disease

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.

Fluid mechanics image by Mack Durham wins Milton Van Dyke Award

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.

Many man-made and natural networks have same underlying architecture

November 3, 2011

DES4 logoComplex 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.

Graduate student Herrero receives award for work in IT

October 21, 2011

Sergio HerreraOn 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.

20th anniversary of JR East Professorship celebrated

October 21, 2011

JR East logoMIT 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.

Eduardo Kausel welcomes Chilean president to campus

October 21, 2011

Pinera (left) and KauselWhen 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.

Research by Professor John Williams and graduate student Sergio Herrero-Lopez will improve IT networks

October 7, 2011

IEEE Cluster 2011CEE 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.

Work of Jerry Connor and Simon Laflamme featured in Scientific American

October 7, 2011

Scientific America October 2011The 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.

Grad student Samar Malek presents her work at international conference

October 7, 2011

IABSE-IASS Symposium 2011Samar 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."

CSH releases three reports for Industry Day

September 14, 2011

CSH logo

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.

Pulling the tail of mutated protein could help illuminate mechanics behind rapid-aging disease

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

Senior Tiffany Cheng creates toolkit for use during major natural events

September 2, 2011

EPA logoIn 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.

Buehler and co-author Paparcone named Alfred Noble Prize winners

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.

Buehler joins editorial board of international journal

September 1, 2011

Journal of the Royal Society InterfaceProfessor 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.

CEE faculty and grad students will battle it out on the softball field

September 1, 2011

Professors Martin Polz and Pedro Reis strategize on the fieldCEE 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.

Sussman named interim head of ESD

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.

Microbial study reveals sophisticated sensory response

July 31, 2011

E. coli sensory responseAll 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.

CEE researchers lead new collaborative program between France and MIT

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.

Concrete Sustainabilty Hub to hold CSHub Industry Day

July 28, 2011

CSHub logoOn 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.

Pedro Reis attends NAE's Japan-America Frontiers of Engineering Symposium

July 15, 2011

Pedro ReisNAE FOE logo, 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.

MIT ranks No. 1 worldwide in civil and structural engineering

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.

Paper by CEE researchers wins Stephen Brunauer Award

July 12, 2011

A paper by recentAmerican Ceramic Society logo 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

Epoxy-silica interfaceProfessors 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.

Recent grad Emily Moberg co-authors book due out in October

June 29, 2011

Mult-Criteria Decision Analysis book coverRecent 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.

Edna Ezzel '11 co-authors book while an undergrad

June 29, 2011

Fundamentals of Civil Engineering: An Introduction to the ASCE Body of Knowledge coverWhile 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.

‘Sensing skin’ could monitor the health of concrete infrastructure continually and inexpensively

June 29, 2011

Simon Laflamme (left) and Jerome ConnorProfessor 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.

Two from CEE will attend U.S. Frontiers of Engineering symposium

June 28, 2011

National Academy of Engineering logoCharles 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.

Oral Buyukozturk receives lifetime achievement award from Swiss Federal Labs

June 21, 2011

Golden Mirko Ros MedalEMPA, 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.

Canadian grad student creates graphene Bruins logo to honor his new hometown team

June 17, 2011

Graphene Bruins logoWhen 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.

Philip Gschwend receives SOE's Samuel M. Seegal Prize

June 16, 2011

Philip GschwendProfessor 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.

Ten students join the Chi Epsilon honor society

June 16, 2011

Chi Epsilon logoTen 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.

Sheila Frankel wins SOE Infinite Mile Award

June 16, 2011

Sheila FrankelIn 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.

González' graduate student, Jameson Toole, presents at TEDx

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.

Reis lab members win poster prize

June 16, 2011

Elasticity, Geometry and Statistics Lab logoPedro 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.

Connie Lu awarded Legatum Fellowship

June 8, 2011

Connie Lu sorts garbage in NicaraguaConnie 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.

CEE awards 123 degrees in 2010-11

June 2, 2011

mortarboardOn 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).

Oral Buyukozturk's research to receive award from American Society for Nondestructive Testing

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.

Researchers butter up the old ‘scratch test’ to make it tough

May 26, 2011

Knife scraping butterIt 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.

MIT Steel Bridge team places 5th at nationals

May 26, 2011

2011 Steel Bridge TeamMoving 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.

Senior capstone course bridges undergrad curriculum

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.

Professor Buyukozturk chairs conference on nondestructive testing

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.

Simchi-Levi elected to board of Technion Institute

May 19, 2011

David Simchi-Levi

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.

Ben-Akiva and his research group win award for DynaMIT

May 19, 2011

Traffic tunnel at nightProfessor 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.

Buehler to receive inaugural Leonardo da Vinci Award

May 19, 2011

Markus BuehlerProfessor 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.

Course 1 senior Joel Veenstra and teammates win MIT $100K

May 19, 2011

Sanergy toiletCourse 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.

Faculty promotions announced

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.

Laflamme and Connor paper wins BSCES award

May 13, 2011

BSCES logo

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.

Department award winners are honored at annual Awards and Senior Dinner

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.

Research shows that viscosity contrast can induce fast mixing of fluids

May 12, 2011

viscous fingering of waterIn 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.

John Williams elected to the Learned Society of Wales

May 11, 2011

Learned Society of Wales logoProfessor 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.

Germaine's GeoFluids Consortium holds annual meeting at UT Austin

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.

CEE students' teams win in IDEAS/Global Challenge Competitions

May 10, 2011

Installing a portion of the HydroHarvest rainwater gathering system.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.

Komaza magazine features MIT students, lecturer

May 10, 2011

Komaza mastheadThe 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.

Paper by postdoc Chris Leonardi is honored

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.

CEE-related website is Webby Award nominee

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.

Terrascope presents 'Feeding the World: A Bazaar of Ideas'

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.

CEE students elected to Phi Beta Kappa

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).

Senior Khalea Robinson named SOE Henry Ford II Scholar

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.

Senior Alorah Harman receives Eloranta Fellowship

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.

Professor Carolina Osorio's paper wins award

May 5, 2011

Carolina OsorioA 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.

Jesse Kroll receives NSF CAREER award

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.

CEE people to be honored at MIT Awards Convocation, May 3

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.

Seniors in capstone class will test their bridges Wednesday

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.

Steel Bridge Team takes second place at the regional competition

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

Student engineers bring solar energy and clean water to Ugandan village

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.

Murcott's Ghanaian water filter factory is in State Department news

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 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.

Josh Hester to perform works by Brahms, Chopin and others in senior piano recital

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.

CEE offers nine exhibits at the MIT 150th Open House

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.

Ulm pulls off a mechanical performance at talent show

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).

BBC TV does piece on 'green' concrete at CEE

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.

Graduate students win Outstanding Student Paper Awards at AGU

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."

EWB/CEE Exhibit for Earth Day at Franklin Park Zoo

April 13, 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. 

Voting is open for Community Choice Awards in the MIT Global Challenge

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.

Markus Buehler to co-teach summer course with Nobelist Harold Kroto

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."

Stocker writes commentary on 'flick of the flagellum' method of microbial locomotion

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.

Carl Martland's book draws on CEE subject he developed

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). BasToward More Sustainable Infrastructure: Project Evaluation for Planners and Engineersed 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.

CEE undergraduates co-author paper in peer-reviewed journal

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.

Study shows nitrate plays counterintuitive role in lake eutrophication

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.

Barnhart and Chisholm to chair sessions in MIT 150th Symposium

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.

Junior faculty organize CEE research speed dating

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.

Opinion Piece: Disaster Befalls Japan

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.

Denvid Lau named a Harvey Fellow

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.

Ochsendorf and his new book on Guastavino vaulting featured in Boston Globe

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"Guastavino Vaulting" by John Ochsendorf). 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.

Scientists say ocean currents cause microbes to filter light

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.

CEE students give invited talks at MIT's 37th Martin Luther King Jr. celebration

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.

Junior Tiffany Cheng selected as a Burchard Scholar

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.

Grad student Marne Zahner wins Goody Award

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.

Senior Joel Veenstra and Sanergy plan modular 'sanitation centers'

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.

New book by Chiang Mei describes range of applications of homogenization theory

January 28, 2011

Homogenization Methods for Multiscale MechanicsA 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.

Ed DeLong named a AAAS Fellow

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.

Naomi Stein Reporting From Washington

January 24, 2011

The Transportation Research Board Annual Meeting (known as TRB) in Washington, D.C. is attended by about 10,000 people from around the globe. M.S.T. student Naomi Stein is blogging. Read Naomi Stein's TRB blog.

Claudia Espinoza Reporting From Nepal

January 19, 2011

M.Eng. students Claudia Espinoza and Maclyn O'Donnell are doing research in the Terai region of Nepal to find out why arsenic drinking water filters are failing under certain conditions. Read Claudia Espinoza's blog.

TREX in the Waiulaula Watershed on Hawaii

January 19, 2011

Seventeen undergrads accompanied by four faculty members and three TAs will spend three weeks on the big island of Hawaii studying the Waiulaula Watershed. The students will take turns blogging. Read the TREX Hawaii blog.

Kroll offers novel approach to characterizing organic compounds in the atmosphere

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.

Katie Puckett Reporting From Honduras

January 19, 2011

M.Eng. students Katie Pucket and Kent Walker will spend January performing an assessment of the wastewater treatment in the Lake Yojoa subwatershed in western Honduras. Katie Puckett is blogging about their work.

Scientists decipher 3 billion-year-old genomic fossil

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.

Grad student Shahsavari receives award

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.

Sussman interviewed by ITS International magazine

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.

Ben-Akiva makes WSJ list of innovative transportation thinkers

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.