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Five selected to hold professorships

Five faculty members have been appointed to named professorships.

David Karger of electrical engineering and computer science has been selected to be an Esther and Harold E. Edgerton Career Development Associate Professor for three years as of July 1, 1998. There are four holders of the chair, established by the MIT Corporation in 1973 to honor Professor "Doc" Edgerton and his wife.

Dr. Karger, who was promoted from assistant to associate professor earlier this year, does research in randomized algorithms, combinatorial optimization, information retrieval, text databases and digital libraries. He earned the AB from Harvard University in 1989, a math certificate from Cambridge University in 1990 and the PhD from Stanford University in 1994. He joined MIT as an assistant professor in 1995 after a stint at AT&T Bell Labs and was recently awarded a Packard Foundation Fellowship.

James K. Makubuya, assistant professor of music, was awarded the Class of 1948 Career Development Professorship for a three-year term beginning July 1.

Professor Makubuya has musical training in both African and Western music. Having studied with master musicians from various musical cultures of East Africa, his traditional African music training includes dancing, singing and instrumental music. Specializing in the endongo (eight-string bowl lyre), he also is proficient in the akoga (thumb piano), adungu (nine-string bow harp), endingdi (one-string tube fiddle) and mandinda (12-slab log xylophone) as well as the baakisimba, mwaga, entogoro, aije and alukhan dances. He received the BA in music and English literature in 1980 from Makrere University in Kampala, Uganda, the master of music in 1988 from the Catholic University of America and the PhD in ethnomusicology in 1995 from the University of California at Los Angeles.

Since 1992, he has been artistic director of the Kiyira Ensemble, a performance group that focuses on traditional East African music and dance. He also is founder and director of MITCAN, the MIT African Performance Ensemble. His research interests involve fieldwork and analytic studies of the origin, history, development, contextual significance and acoustic behavior of traditional musical instruments used in East Africa. His interests also include building and improving musical instrument technology and the evolution of African music performance genres, forms and types. Currently, he is conducting fieldwork on the transformation of the adungu of the Alur people.

Takehiko Nagakura, assistant professor of design and computation in the Department of Architecture, was awarded the Mitsui Career Development Professorship for a three-year term that began July 1. The Mitsui chair was established in 1980 through the Mitsui Group, one of the oldest and largest industrial organizations in Japan. In addition to recognizing faculty achievement, the Mitsui Professorship also aims to encourage cultural and technological exchange between the United States and Japan.

Professor Nagakura received a bachelor of engineering in architecture from Tokyo University in 1985, the master of architecture from Harvard University in 1987, the master of engineering in architecture from Tokyo University in 1988 and the PhD in architecture from Harvard in 1996. He joined the School of Architecture and Planning as a lecturer in 1993 and was appointed assistant professor in 1994.

Professor George A. Plesko of the Sloan School of Management has been selected as the Class of 1922 Career Development Professor. Before joining the MIT faculty in 1997, Professor Plesko was visiting professor at Sloan from 1996-97. He also held the position of assistant professor in economics at Northeastern University from 1989-96, financial economist for the US Department of the Treasury (1985-89) and staff economist at the Wisconsin Department of Development (1984).

He earned the BA from The George Washington University in 1980, and, from the University of Wisconsin at Madison, the MS in 1982 and the PhD in 1985, all in economics. Professor Plesko's primary research interests are the effects of corporate taxation on firms' behavior and the ways in which tax information is communicated to outsiders. His current projects examine the ability to infer firms' tax burdens using publicly available information, and the market valuation of tax attributes. His other research addresses the role of taxes in organizational and financing decisions.

Krishna Rajagopal, assistant professor of physics, was awarded the Class of 1958 Career Development Professorship for a three-year term beginning July 1.

Professor Rajagopal does research in theoretical subatomic physics. At very high temperatures (achieved in the first microseconds after the big bang and in terrestrial experiments in which atomic nuclei collide at high energy) and at very high densities (as may occur in neutron stars), ordinary protons and neutrons "boil" or merge to form new phases of matter in which quarks are free and which may be superconducting.

Professor Rajagopal's theoretical analyses of these phase transitions provide glimpses into the early universe and into the densest stars and yield predictions that are being tested in accelerator experiments. The goal is to explore new phases of matter and the fundamental forces between quarks.

He received the BSc in 1988 from Queen's University in Kingston, Canada, and the MA (1989) and PhD (1993) from Princeton University. He was a Junior Fellow of the Harvard University Society of Fellows from 1993-96 and Sherman Fairchild Senior Research Fellow at Caltech from 1996-97. This year, he has been named an Alfred P. Sloan Research Fellow and a Department of Energy Outstanding Junior Investigator.

A version of this article appeared in MIT Tech Talk on December 9, 1998.

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