Awards and Honors


Robert Langer, the Germeshausen Profes-sor of Chemical and Biomedical Engineering, has been awarded the Harvey Prize by the Technion--Israel Institute of Technology. Nor-mally the prize committee gives two awards each year, but this year it made the unusual decision to award only one prize because Langer's work qualifies in both areas in which this year's prize was to be given--science and technology, and human health. The committee cited Langer for his "pioneering and ongoing research in biomedical engineering, biomaterials, tissue engineering and biotechnology ... By synthesizing rationally designed polymers, he was able to perform controlled and localized drug release. Other polymers he synthesized are widely applied in gene-therapy and enzyme immobilization." Past winners of the Harvey Prize include several Nobel laureates. Professor Robert Weinberg of MIT received the Harvey Prize in 1994.

Associate Professor Scott Manalis of media arts and sciences has been selected to participate in the National Academy of Engineering's Frontiers of Engineering program, an annual three-day meeting that brings together 100 outstanding U.S. engineers aged 30-45 from industry, academia and government to discuss pioneering work in various engineering fields and industry sectors. Topics at this month's meeting include environmental engineering, nanotechnology, counterterrorism technologies and infrastructure protection, and biomolecular computing. Participation is by invitation following a competitive nomination and selection process.

Frank Wilczek, the Herman Feshbach Professor of Physics, was awarded the Com-memorative Medal of the faculty of mathematics and physics at Charles University in Prague. The award was given not only for his "achievements as one of the world's most outstanding theoretical physicists ... [having made] pioneering contributions in the field of particle physics," but for his "remarkable ability to communicate even the most sophisticated physics ideas in a crisp and clear way, understandable to a broader audience of non-experts and the general public." One of Wilczek's recent essays for general audiences was included in "The Best American Science Writing 2003" (HarperCollins/Ecco).

The September issue of Popular Science named its second annual "Brilliant 10," a list of the young scientists in the United States that includes Assistant Professor Erik Demaine of electrical engineering and computer science. The list is a "celebration of an elite group of scientists who are shaking up their fields and whose work will touch all facets of life." As a graduate student, Demaine confronted a thorny problem: which shapes can be made simply by folding a piece of paper as many times as you like, then snipping off a corner and unfolding it. He found the answer and helped launch computational origami, a hybrid discipline--part computer science, part mathematics--that explores complex geometry concepts inspired by the Japanese art of paper folding. This field has helped engineers figure out how to unfold a telescope lens in outer space without damaging it, among other things.

The World Cultural Council will present the Leonardo da Vinci World Award of Arts to Otto Piene, former director of the Center for Advanced Visual Studies and professor emeritus in the Department of Architecture. Piene, a painter, sculptor, sky artist and writer, was recognized for more than 40 years of artistic and innovative accomplishments. The Mexico-based World Cultural Council, founded in 1982, is an international cultural and scientific organization. Its da Vinci Award is "conferred on a renowned artist, an avant-gardist or an authority on the subject whose work has made a significant contribution to the artistic legacy of the world."

Woodie C. Flowers, the Pappalardo Professor of Mechanical Engineering, has received the third Ruth and Joel Spira Outstanding Design Educator Award from the American Society of Mechanical Engineers. His award noted that he is "an outstanding teacher with an uncanny ability to engender lasting excitement and passion for design in students ... Through his example and vision he has inspired his peers to substantially increase the quality and availability of design education at all levels."

Assistant Professor of Biology David Sabatini is one of 20 researchers chosen as a Pew Scholar in the Biomedical Sciences by the Pew Charitable Trusts. The scholars receive $240,000 over four years for their research. Sabatini will work on "Identification of the metabolic signal that regulates the mTOR growth pathway."

Rafael Bras, the Bacardi and Stockholm Water Foundations Professor in civil and environmental engineering, has been named a corresponding (foreign associate) member of the Academy of Engineering of Mexico.

Institute Professor Noam Chomsky has been elected a Foreign Fellow of the Royal Society of Canada. He was recognized for "defining the theoretical framework as well as the ongoing developments of the study of the grammar as a generative system. This theory enlightens the formal properties of natural languages, as well as providing an explanation for the human capacity to process linguistic expressions on the basis of the abstract symbolic properties of the language faculty."

A version of this article appeared in MIT Tech Talk on September 10, 2003.


Topics: Awards, honors and fellowships

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