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Awards and honors

The Institut de France, a world-renowned scientific academy based in France, honored MIT biology Professor David Bartel of the Whitehead Institute for Biomedical Research with its annual Louis-D. Prize at a ceremony in Paris on June 15. Bartel shared the 750,000 euro prize (more than $900,000) with Ronald Plasterk of the Netherlands Institute for Developmental Biology.

Similar to the National Academy of Sciences in the United States, the Institut de France has 390 members and comprises five academies: the French Academy, the Academy of Literature, the Academy of Sciences, the Academy of the Fine Arts and the Academy of Ethics and Political Science. The institute's mission is to promote and fund advances in arts and sciences.

Bartel's research has recently been highlighted by the discovery of the abundance of microRNAs, molecules that play an active role in regulating the genomes of both plants and mammals by interrupting a gene's ability to produce protein.


MIT President emeritus Charles M. Vest received an honorary doctor of laws degree from Harvard University at its Commencement exercises in Cambridge, Mass., on June 9. Vest was one of eight whose accomplishments in scholarship, art and business were recognized by the university at this year's Commencement.

Professor Ali S. Argon of mechanical engineering received an honorary doctor of engineering degree from his alma mater, Purdue University, on May 15. Argon was one of 19 who received honorary degrees from Purdue this year. He graduated from Purdue in 1952, then came to MIT, where he earned his master's in 1953 and his doctorate in 1956.

Tufts President Lawrence S. Bacow awarded Ann Graybiel an honorary doctor of science degree during the university's 2005 Commencement ceremonies on May 22, saying, "You take on humanity's greatest physical challenges with extraordinary expertise and optimism and give generous hope to those who suffer or are touched by devastating disease." Graybiel, a principal investigator at the McGovern Institute and Walter A. Rosenblith Professor for Neuroscience at MIT, was one of five granted honorary degrees by Tufts this year.

Professors Gareth H. McKinley of mechanical engineering and Hiroshi Ishii of media arts and sciences have been named Class of 1960 Fellows for two-year terms that will begin July 1. Each received the Class of 1960 Innovation in Education Award in recognition of excellence in teaching, innovative education efforts toward integrating research and education, and extraordinary skill and commitment to undergraduate education.

Professor George Haller of mechanical engineering has been chosen to receive the American Society of Mechanical Engineer's Applied Mechanics Division Young Investigator Award. The award recognizes special achievement by investigators who are not yet 40 years old. "The new techniques George has developed and the problems he has been solving are at the forefront of nonlinear dynamics, and this award is a recognition of George's impact," said Quentin Berg Professor of Mechanics Rohan Abeyaratne, the head of MIT's mechanical engineering department.

MIT's Environmental Health and Safety Management System home page ( has won third prize in a competition sponsored by the Campus Safety, Health and Environmental Management Association (a division of the National Safety Council). Home pages were judged on editorial content, ease of navigation, consistency with the school's image and goals, use of the technological medium and opportunities for reader responses. Winners of the competition will be honored at a luncheon in Philadelphia on July 20.

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