• Newly tenured MIT science professors include: (top row, l-r) Ibrahim Cissé, Mehrdad Jazayeri, Lindley Winslow; (middle row, l-r) Adam Willard, Yogesh Surendranath, Mark Vogelsberger; (bottom row, l-r) Joshua McDermott, Jörn Dunkel, Yen-Jie Lee.

    Newly tenured MIT science professors include: (top row, l-r) Ibrahim Cissé, Mehrdad Jazayeri, Lindley Winslow; (middle row, l-r) Adam Willard, Yogesh Surendranath, Mark Vogelsberger; (bottom row, l-r) Joshua McDermott, Jörn Dunkel, Yen-Jie Lee.

    Photos courtesy of the faculty.

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Nine MIT School of Science professors receive tenure for 2020

Newly tenured MIT science professors include: (top row, l-r) Ibrahim Cissé, Mehrdad Jazayeri, Lindley Winslow; (middle row, l-r) Adam Willard, Yogesh Surendranath, Mark Vogelsberger; (bottom row, l-r) Joshua McDermott, Jörn Dunkel, Yen-Jie Lee.

Professors earn tenure in the departments of Brain and Cognitive Sciences, Chemistry, Mathematics, and Physics.


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Beginning July 1, nine faculty members in the MIT School of Science have been granted tenure by MIT. They are appointed in the departments of Brain and Cognitive Sciences, Chemistry, Mathematics, and Physics.

Physicist Ibrahim Cissé investigates living cells to reveal and study collective behaviors and biomolecular phase transitions at the resolution of single molecules. The results of his work help determine how disruptions in genes can cause diseases like cancer. Cissé joined the Department of Physics in 2014 and now holds a joint appointment with the Department of Biology. His education includes a bachelor’s degree in physics from North Carolina Central University, concluded in 2004, and a doctoral degree in physics from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, achieved in 2009. He followed his PhD with a postdoc at the École Normale Supérieure of Paris and a research specialist appointment at the Howard Hughes Medical Institute’s Janelia Research Campus.

Jörn Dunkel is a physical applied mathematician. His research focuses on the mathematical description of complex nonlinear phenomena in a variety of fields, especially biophysics. The models he develops help predict dynamical behaviors and structure formation processes in developmental biology, fluid dynamics, and even knot strengths for sailing, rock climbing and construction. He joined the Department of Mathematics in 2013 after completing postdoctoral appointments at Oxford University and Cambridge University. He received diplomas in physics and mathematics from Humboldt University of Berlin in 2004 and 2005, respectively. The University of Augsburg awarded Dunkel a PhD in statistical physics in 2008.

A cognitive neuroscientist, Mehrdad Jazayeri studies the neurobiological underpinnings of mental functions such as planning, inference, and learning by analyzing brain signals in the lab and using theoretical and computational models, including artificial neural networks. He joined the Department of Brain and Cognitive Sciences in 2013. He achieved a BS in electrical engineering from the Sharif University of Technology in 1994, an MS in physiology at the University of Toronto in 2001, and a PhD in neuroscience from New York University in 2007. Prior to joining MIT, he was a postdoc at the University of Washington. Jazayeri is also an investigator at the McGovern Institute for Brain Research.

Yen-Jie Lee is an experimental particle physicist in the field of proton-proton and heavy-ion physics. Utilizing the Large Hadron Colliders, Lee explores matter in extreme conditions, providing new insight into strong interactions and what might have existed and occurred at the beginning of the universe and in distant star cores. His work on jets and heavy flavor particle production in nuclei collisions improves understanding of the quark-gluon plasma, predicted by quantum chromodynamics (QCD) calculations, and the structure of heavy nuclei. He also pioneered studies of high-density QCD with electron-position annihilation data. Lee joined the Department of Physics in 2013 after a fellowship at CERN and postdoc research at the Laboratory for Nuclear Science at MIT. His bachelor’s and master’s degrees were awarded by the National Taiwan University in 2002 and 2004, respectively, and his doctoral degree by MIT in 2011. Lee is a member of the Laboratory for Nuclear Science.

Josh McDermott investigates the sense of hearing. His research addresses both human and machine audition using tools from experimental psychology, engineering, and neuroscience. McDermott hopes to better understand the neural computation underlying human hearing, to improve devices to assist hearing impaired, and to enhance machine interpretation of sounds. Prior to joining MIT’s Department of Brain and Cognitive Sciences, he was awarded a BA in 1998 in brain and cognitive sciences by Harvard University, a master’s degree in computational neuroscience in 2000 by University College London, and a PhD in brain and cognitive sciences in 2006 by MIT. Between his doctoral time at MIT and returning as a faculty member, he was a postdoc at the University of Minnesota and New York University, and a visiting scientist at Oxford University. McDermott is also an associate investigator at the McGovern Institute for Brain Research and an investigator in the Center for Brains, Minds and Machines.

Solving environmental challenges by studying and manipulating chemical reactions is the focus of Yogesh Surendranath’s research. Using chemistry, he works at the molecular level to understand how to efficiently interconvert chemical and electrical energy. His fundamental studies aim to improve energy storage technologies, such as batteries, fuel cells, and electrolyzers, that can be used to meet future energy demand with reduced carbon emissions. Surendranath joined the Department of Chemistry in 2013 after a postdoc at the University of California at Berkeley. His PhD was completed in 2011 at MIT, and BS in 2006 at the University of Virginia. Suendranath is also a collaborator in the MIT Energy Initiative.

A theoretical astrophysicist, Mark Vogelsberger is interested in large-scale structures of the universe, such as galaxy formation. He combines observational data, theoretical models, and simulations that require high-performance supercomputers to improve and develop detailed models that simulate galaxy diversity, clustering, and their properties, including a plethora of physical effects like magnetic fields, cosmic dust, and thermal conduction. Vogelsberger also uses simulations to generate scenarios involving alternative forms of dark matter. He joined the Department of Physics in 2014 after a postdoc at the Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics. Vogelsberger is a 2006 graduate of the University of Mainz undergraduate program in physics, and a 2010 doctoral graduate of the University of Munich and the Max Plank Institute for Astrophysics. He is also a principal investigator in the MIT Kavli Institute for Astrophysics and Space Research.

Adam Willard is a theoretical chemist with research interests that fall across molecular biology, renewable energy, and material science. He uses theory, modeling, and molecular simulation to study the disorder that is inherent to systems over nanometer-length scales. His recent work has highlighted the fundamental and unexpected role that such disorder plays in phenomena such as microscopic energy transport in semiconducting plastics, ion transport in batteries, and protein hydration. Joining the Department of Chemistry in 2013, Willard was formerly a postdoc at Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory and then the University of Texas at Austin. He holds a PhD in chemistry from the University of California at Berkeley, achieved in 2009, and a BS in chemistry and mathematics from the University of Puget Sound, granted in 2003.

Lindley Winslow seeks to understand the fundamental particles shaped the evolution of our universe. As an experimental particle and nuclear physicist, she develops novel detection technology to search for axion dark matter and a proposed nuclear decay that makes more matter than antimatter. She started her faculty position in the Department of Physics in 2015 following a postdoc at MIT and a subsequent faculty position at the University of California at Los Angeles. Winslow achieved her BA in physics and astronomy in 2001 and PhD in physics in 2008, both at the University of California at Berkeley. She is also a member of the Laboratory for Nuclear Science.


Topics: School of Science, Brain and cognitive sciences, Physics, Chemistry, Mathematics, McGovern Institute, Center for Brains Minds and Machines, MIT Energy Initiative, Laboratory for Nuclear Science, Kavli Institute, Faculty, Awards, honors and fellowships

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