Awards and Honors


MIT placed first in both the individual and the team competition at the annual Boston Area Undergraduate Physics Competition (BAUPC), a physics and math competition supported and organized by the Harvard University physics department that started in 1995. Most of the 89 participants in the April 17 competition were undergraduates from several universities in the Boston area and around the country. In the team event, Harvard finished second, followed by Caltech, Princeton and the University of California at Berkeley.

Mihai Ibanescu, a junior in physics and winner of the 1998 competition, was the winner of the individual competition, becoming the first person to win the BAUPC twice in a row. He was also the only contestant who broke the 50-point barrier this year and the only one who gave a correct solution to the "winding spring" problem. Freshman Abhinav Kumar tied for second place, and Daniel Preda, a sophomore in physics, tied for fifth.

Dr. Robert J. McCunney, director of the Environmental Medical Service, is the new president of the American College of Occupational and Environmental Medicine (ACOEM), an international medical society of 7,000 occupational-medicine physicians. Dr. McCunney, who earned his medical degree from Jefferson Medical College in 1976, became an ACOEM member in 1981 and a Fellow in 1985.

Marilyn Hallock, assistant industrial hygiene officer in the Environmental Medical Service, is co-winner of a 1999 Alice Hamilton Award for Excellence in Occupational Safety and Health. The Hamilton awards are presented annually by the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health to honor research that exemplifies a "tradition of sound, vigorous, collaborative science for the public good." The winning study in the human studies category detailed research on the risk of esophageal cancer after exposure to widely used metalworking fluids, using statistical analysis of deaths among grinding and machining workers. It was the first to document an association between metalworking fluids (to which 1.2 million workers are exposed regularly), and esophageal cancer.

Professor Lotte Bailyn, the T Wilson (1953) Professor of Management, has been awarded an honorary doctorate by the Department of Business Administration at the University of Piraeus in Greece.Professor Bailyn, author of Breaking the Mold: Women, Men and Time in the New Corporate World (Free Press, 1993), researches workplace innovations including telecommut-ing, flexible scheduling and family benefits.

The Mathematical Association of America has presented the Trevor Evans Award to Dr. Ravi Vakil, a C.L.E. Moore Instructor in the Department of Mathematics. The award is presented to authors of exceptional articles that are accessible to undergraduates and published in Math Horizons. Dr. Vakil wrote "The Youngest Tenured Professor in Harvard History" about Noam Elkies, who received Harvard tenure in 1993 at the age of 26. "Vakil simultaneously educates and fascinates us with this glimpse of one whose mind burns with the brilliance of the noonday sun," the citation reads.

Dr. Robert M. Randolph, senior associate dean for undergraduate education and student affairs, was appointed an affiliated minister of Harvard University's Memorial Church, effective July 1. He is one of five new affiliated ministers who will assist the Reverend Peter J. Gomes in services and in the pastoral and educational ministries of the church.

Graduate students Matteo Frigo of the Laboratory for Computer Science and Steven G. Johnson of physics have won the third J.H. Wilkinson Prize for Numerical Software. Their winning entry, FFTW ("Fastest Fourier Transform in the West"), is a library of C routines for the efficient computation of discrete Fourier transforms of real and complex data

The library delivers high-speed performance on a wide variety of computer platforms, automatically determining the best computational strategy for the hardware used. Virtually every digital signal processing application requires a Fourier transform computation, including EKG analysis, speech recognition, seismology and data communication

Named for J.H. Wilkinson -- a major contributor to modern numerical analysis and proponent of reusable, common libraries for scientific computing -- the award was established to encourage and recognize researchers under 40 who fashion their ideas and algorithms into quality, community-accessible software and is given every four years.

Dr. John F. Burke, a faculty member in the Harvard-MIT Division of Health Sciences and Technology, is the 1999 recipient of the Jacobson Innovation Award of the American College of Surgeons. He is the Helen Andrus Benedict professor of Surgery Emeritus at Harvard Medical School and a past director of MIT's Clinical Research Center. He was recognized for his innovations relating to the treatment of burn patients. At MIT, he was co-developer with Professor of Polymer Science and Engineering Ioannis Yannas of an artificial skin marketed under the name Integra.

The Department of Physics has announced that Assistant Professor Krishna Rajagopal has been selected as the faculty winner of the 1999 Buechner Teaching Prize. Graduate students Kristin Burgess and Rebecca Christianson have been selected as co-winners of the graduate student 1999 Buechner Teaching Prize.

Professor Rajagopal was recognized for his excellence in lecturing Quantum Mechanics I, II and III (8.04, 8.05, 8.059), particularly for sparking students' interest in physics through three consecutive terms of quantum mechanics. Ms. Burgess was honored for her teaching as a recitation instructor in Physics I (8.01), as the teaching assistant in The Early Universe (8.286), and for "her dedication and for bringing the joy of physics to her students." Ms. Christianson was cited for her work as a recitation instructor in Physics II (8.02), "in particular for the wonderful rapport she developed with her students."

The Buechner prize was established by Christina Buechner in 1987 in memory of her husband, Professor William Buechner, who served as chairman of physics from 1962-67.

Dr. Arnold Demain, professor of industrial biology, received an honorary doctorate from Gent University in Belgium in March. He was honored for his work on production of microbial products (amino acids, nucleotides, vitamins, antibiotics and other secondary metabolites), the enzymes involved and the regulation of these enzymes. He was also recognized for training many international scientists who now have leading positions in industry and academia.

Assistant Professor Rajeev J. Ram has been invited to participate in the fifth annual Symposium on Frontiers of Engineering organized by the National Academy of Engineering. Professor Ram, of the Department of Electrical Engineering and Computer Science, the Research Laboratory of Electronics, and the Center for Materials Science and Engineering, is among 78 of the nation's top young engineers selected to participate in the meeting, to be held October 14-16 in Irvine, CA.

The participants -- from industry, academia, and government -- were nominated by fellow engineers or by an organization and were chosen from a field of more than 170 candidates. Frontiers of Engineering provides an opportunity to learn about leading-edge developments in a range of engineering fields, and for outstanding engineers from across the country to come together and share their ideas and experiences early in their careers.

Ombudsperson Thomas P. Zgambo has been appointed to the Governor's African-American Advisory Commission by Gov. Paul Cellucci. Dr. Zgambo, who joined MIT in 1998, is also a conflict management trainer and serves as a volunteer mediator for the Massachusetts Commission Against Discrimination. Previously, he held several positions at Polaroid Corp. and was a project chemist at Gillette Co. in Boston.

Some 2,000 plastic surgeons listened to a keynote lecture on tissue engineering by Dr. Gordana Vunjak-Novakovic earlier this summer. In her talk, "Tissue Engineering: From Discovery to Patient Care," she reviewed the state of the art in this field. Dr. Vunjak-Novakovic is a principal research scientist in the Harvard-MIT Division of Health Sciences and Technology. Her invited lecture was for the 12th Congress of the International Confederation for Plastic, Reconstructive and Aesthetic Surgery.

Architecture graduate student Robert Cowherd and Ja Hyun Shin (SB 1999) were awarded Fulbright grants for study overseas. Mr. Cowherd will study land use and transportation planning and development in Indonesia, Malaysia, Thailand and Singapore, while Ms. Shin will do cancer research in Karlsruhe, Germany.

The American Society of Composers, Authors and Publishers (ASCAP) has chosen David Epstein, professor emeritus of music and former director of the MIT Symphony Orchestra, and Associate Professor Evan Ziporyn to receive ASCAP Awards. The cash awards are based on "the unique value of each writer's catalog of original compositions as well as recent performances of those works in areas not surveyed by the Society."

Rafael Bras, the Bacardi-Stockholm Water Foundations Professor and department head in civil and environmental engineering, will receive the Albert Baez Jr. Award and the Outstanding Educator Award at the 11th annual Hispanic Engineer National Achievement Awards Conference in October. The awards are two of several presented each year to "the best and brightest Hispanic engineers and scientists across the nation."

Campus Police Chief Anne P. Glavin has been elected president of the National Association of Women Law Enforcement Executives (NAWLEE). Chief Glavin is a founding member of NAWLEE, which was established in 1995 to address the unique needs of women holding senior management positions in law enforcement. NAWLEE's mission is to serve and further the interests of women executives and those who aspire to executive positions in law enforcement.

Ms. Glavin, a member of the MIT Campus Police Department for 24 years, has been its chief since 1987. She has a BA in government from Wheaton College and an MA in education from Boston University. In 1975, she was the first woman to graduate from the Waltham Police Academy. She is also a graduate of the National Crime Prevention Institute in Louisville, KY. She is a commissioner for the Massachusetts Police Accreditation Commission and served as president of the Massachusetts Association of College and University Public Safety Directors from 1997-98.

Institute Professor Emeritus John S. Waugh has been elected to a three-year term as President of the International Society of Magnetic Resonance (ISMAR). The organization, founded in 1971, sponsors congresses in various parts of the world, most recently in Berlin in 1998.

Professor Emeritus Herman Chernoff of the MIT Department of Mathematics and Harvard's Department of Statistics was awarded the title doctor honoris causa, the highest honorary title awarded by the University of Athens. He was honored for the significance and impact of his work in the community of scientists in a ceremony held on June 4 in Athens, Greece.

A version of this article appeared in MIT Tech Talk on September 25, 1999.


Topics: Awards, honors and fellowships

Back to the top