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More chair appointments made

This is the third in a series of articles on faculty members' appointments to named professorships this year.

Professor Robert T. Sauer , head of the Department of Biology, has been named to the Salvador E. Luria Professorship for a five-year term. The chair was created in 1992 and named for the late Institute Professor Salvador E. Luria, who founded MIT's Center for Cancer Research and was one of the scientific and intellectual leaders in the fields of bacterial genetics and molecular biology. He received the Nobel Prize in physiology and medicine in 1969.

Prior to becoming department head this year, Professor Sauer served as associate head of biology for nine years and also chaired the Biology Graduate Committee and the MIT Outside Professional Activities Committee. He has just finished a two-year term as President of the Protein Society, an international scientific organization, and currently serves on the scientific review board of the Howard Hughes Medical Institute and on the scientific advisory boards of Scriptgen, Inc. and Phylos, Inc.

Professor Sauer received the BA in biophysics from Amherst College in 1972 and the PhD in biochemistry and molecular biology from Harvard University in 1979. He joined the MIT faculty as an assistant professor in 1978, advancing to associate professor in 1982 and professor in 1987.

Professor Sauer's research program addresses fundamental questions related to the folding, structure, design, function and degradation of protein molecules. His scientific accomplishments have been recognized by election to the National Academy of Sciences and to the American Academy of Arts and Sciences. He held the Edwin C. Whitehead Professorship from 1991 until recently and received the MIT School of Science Prize for Excellence in Graduate Teaching in 1998.

Associate Professor Daniel N. Jackson of the Department of Electrical Engineering and Computer Science has been selected as the inaugural holder of the Douglas T. Ross Career Development Professorship of Software Technology for a three-year term.

Professor Jackson's work focuses on languages and tools for software design. With his research group, he has designed a new language for "object modeling" that allows the essence of a system's dynamic structure to be characterized simply and precisely. His research group has built a tool that automatically analyzes such models, so that flaws can be detected long before implementation begins. Professor Jackson has also developed tools for extracting various forms of design model from code.

He joined the MIT faculty as an associate professor in August 1997, after working as an assistant professor for five years at Carnegie Mellon University. He earned the BA from Oxford University in 1984, and the SM (1988) and PhD (1992) from MIT.

Assistant Professor Kenneth Czerwinski of the Department of Nuclear Engineering has been named to the Carl Richard Soderberg Professorship in Power Engineering for a two-year term, effective September 1.

Professor Czerwinski's research is centered on understanding the chemistry and behavior of actinides and fission products on the molecular level. His work has applications in many fields concerning radioactive materials, including radiation safety, dosimetry (the measurement of radiation doses), remediation, disposition and geo-chemical modeling.

Dr. Czerwinski joined the MIT faculty in November 1996. He earned BAs in chemistry and Russian from Knox College in 1987 and the PhD in nuclear chemistry from the University of California at Berkeley in 1992. Previously, he was a postdoctoral fellow and an associate research scientist at the Technische Universit������t M��nchen.

The late Dr. Soderberg, noted for his pioneering work on design and development of turbine engines, was on the MIT faculty from 1938-60, with titles including dean of the School of Engineering and Institute Professor. The chair was established by MIT in 1975 in honor of his 80th birthday.

Assistant Professor of Chemistry Andrei Tokmakoff has been named to the Paul M. Cook Career Development Professorship for a three-year term. The chair was established with a gift from Mr. Cook (SB in chemical engineering, 1947) to support a junior faculty member with a strong interest in materials and chemical sciences.

Professor Tokmakoff, a California native, received the BS from California State University at Sacramento in 1988 and the MS from Stanford University in 1991. After earning his PhD from Stanford in 1995, he did postdoctoral work at the Technische Universit������t M��nchen, the University of Chicago and the University of California at Berkeley. All of his training has been in physical chemistry, particularly molecular spectroscopy. He joined MIT's Department of Chemistry as an assistant professor in July 1999.

His research is primarily in the experimental study of molecular dynamics and structure of liquids and solutions. One aspect of this research is the development of new spectroscopic techniques for watching the time-evolution of complex molecular structures. Through vibrational spectroscopy, he uses sequences of femtosecond (10-15 second) pulses of visible and infrared light to capture the motions of molecules. By understanding how different molecules or parts of molecules interact with one another, he aims to deduce how structures evolve in time. These methods, now being developed, will be used to enhance understanding of conformational dynamics of proteins and peptides, and the collective motion of complex liquids such as water.

A version of this article appeared in MIT Tech Talk on September 29, 1999.

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