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More faculty named to professorships

Four more faculty members have been appointed to named professorships.

Professor of Biology Nancy H. Hopkins has been appointed to the Amgen, Inc. Professorship for a five-year term. The chair is intended to encourage education and research in biological and chemical sciences, biotechnology and other areas related to the life sciences.

After receiving the BS from Radcliffe College (1964) and the PhD from Harvard University's Department of Molecular Biology and Biochemistry (1971), Professor Hopkins was a postdoctoral fellow of James D. Watson at Harvard and at the Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory, where she worked on DNA tumor viruses. She joined the MIT faculty as an assistant professor in 1973 in the Center for Cancer Research and worked on RNA tumor viruses that cause leukemia in mice. She was promoted to professor of biology in 1982. In 1995, she was named chair of the first Committee on Women Faculty in the School of Science at MIT.

Nine years ago, Professor Hopkins switched fields to work in developmental biology. Her lab developed techniques for making transgenic zebrafish, including a technique called insertional mutagenesis. Using this technique, her lab is now engaged in a large experiment to isolate genes required for the normal development of the zebrafish embryo. This research is believed to be important to the eventual understanding and possible treatment of human diseases including cancer and birth defects.

Associate Professor Earl Miller is the newest recipient of the Class of 1956 Career Development Professorship for a three-year term, established by the class at its 25th reunion.

Professor Miller received the BA in psychology from Kent State University in 1985, and the MA (1987) and PhD (1990) in psychology and neuroscience from Princeton University. He was a postdoctoral fellow at the National Institute of Mental Health from 1990-95. Dr. Miller was appointed an assistant professor in MIT's Center for Learning and Memory and the Department of Brain and Cognitive Sciences in 1995 and was promoted to associate professor with tenure on July 1, 1999. He has received several academic awards including a Pew Scholar Award (1996), a McKnight Scholar Award (1996), a Sloan Research Fellowship (1996) and a John Merck Scholar Award (1998).

Professor Miller's work focuses on the neural basis of high-level cognitive functions, including the mechanisms of attention, learning and memory needed for intelligent behavior. He studies the activity of neurons in the prefrontal cortex, the brain region most highly developed in primates and most closely associated with complex thought.

Professor Wanda J. Orlikowski of the Sloan School of Management has been selected to hold the Eaton-Peabody Professorship of Communication Sciences for a five-year term.

Professor Orlikowski joined the MIT faculty as an assistant professor of information technologies in 1989, was promoted to associate professor in 1994, and received tenure in 1996. She received the BComm in 1977 and the MComm in 1982 from the University of Witwatersrand, and the MPhil (1986) and PhD (1988), both from New York University.

Professor Orlikowski's research interests focus on the dynamic interaction between organizations and information technology, with particular emphasis on the role of organizing structures, cultures and work practices in technology change. She has conducted multiple studies of collaborative technologies such as electronic mail, web tools and groupware, and examined their ongoing use in organizational communication, coordination and distributed work. She is currently investigating the patterns, meanings and experiences of working virtually, and exploring the social and technological implications of such new ways of organizing.

Assistant Professor Sanjay E. Sarma of mechanical engineering is the next holder of the Cecil and Ida Green Career Development Professorship for a three-year term. The chair was created by the Greens to recognize excellence in teaching.

Dr. Sarma received the BTech from the Indian Institute of Technology in 1989, the ME from Carnegie Mellon University in 1992 and the PhD from the University of California at Berkeley in 1995. He was named an assistant professor at MIT in January 1996.

Professor Sarma's research is in the areas of computer-aided design (CAD), computer-aided manufacturing (CAM), solid modeling, computational geometry, and machine tool design and automation. He wrote his thesis on a methodology for integrating CAD and CAM in milling and has patent applications pending for three things: a haptic device for CAD/CAM, a technique for five-axis toolpath generation and an apparatus for reference-free part encapsulation.

A version of this article appeared in MIT Tech Talk on September 22, 1999.

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