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Faculty honors two with Edgerton Award

Emma Teng
Emma Teng
Erik Demaine
Erik Demaine

Associate Professor Emma Teng of Chinese Studies in Foreign Languages and Literatures and Associate Professor Erik Demaine of Electrical Engineering and Computer Science received the Harold E. Edgerton Faculty Achievement Award at the April faculty meeting.

The meeting also addressed student discipline, faculty quality of life, Commencement and the upcoming inauguration ceremony for President Susan Hockfield.

The Edgerton Award, established in 1982, is given each year to one or more untenured faculty members for exceptional distinction in teaching and in research or scholarship.

Bruce Tidor, professor of bioengineering and computer science, announced the Edgerton Award winners on behalf of the selection committee, describing Demaine's work as, "highly interactive and collaborative, involving not only his own research students, but also co-authors from around the world…his work is accessible to experts and amateurs alike. Professor Demaine is a dynamic teacher who has developed two new subjects in data structures and computational geometry."

Tidor called Teng a "prolific young scholar who has built her considerable reputation by bringing together two separate fields of literary and cultural study--Chinese and Asian-American--while also melding historical and literary perspectives." He noted her immense popularity among students. "Her teaching incites strong enthusiasm for learning," he said.

Both Teng and Demaine thanked the faculty for the honor. "It is exciting to be here at MIT, not just because of my own excitement, but also because everyone else is excited to be here," said Demaine.

"Thank you so much for nominating me," said a smiling and surprised Teng.

President Susan Hockfield offered her congratulations to both Teng and Demaine.

Also at the meeting, the co-chair of the Ad Hoc Committee on Faculty Quality of Life, Mechanical Engineering Professor Gareth McKinley, gave a report on some of the most pressing issues facing MIT faculty.

Convened in the fall of 2003, the committee held a series of meetings and deployed a survey to get at the faculty's main concerns, which seem to center on "managing the interface between work and home life," said McKinley.

The surveyed faculty reported an average 61-hour work week, said McKinley. "Faculty do not mind being busy. The question is, what are they busy with?" In the survey, faculty reported spending a lot of time on their research, class work and e-mail, in addition to research administration and student advising.

Two of the major sources of stress come from the cost of living in the Boston area and from child-care concerns. The younger their children, the greater stress levels reported.

For a complete summary of the committee's report, go to

Derek Rowell, professor of mechanical engineering and former chair of the Committee on Discipline, gave the breakdown of offenses requiring disciplinary action during the 2003-04 school year.

There were a total of 13 hearings for eight men and five women. Two were graduate students and the others undergraduates. The most common offenses were academic misconduct. The committee suspended seven students and revoked the degree of a graduate student who was accused of plagiarizing large portions of a thesis.

Rowell, who chaired the committee until June 2004, encouraged faculty to join. "It is a very important committee," he said. "We provide students with an opportunity to learn and grow from their mistakes."

Faculty also heard discussion of Commencement protocols as well as the schedule for the May 6 inauguration. "We are giving a party and you are all invited," joked Steven Lerman, the Class of 1922 Distinguished Professor of Civil and Environmental Engineering and chair of the Inauguration Planning Committee. The week's activities will start on May 2 with the opening of Professor J. Meehin Yoon's dynamic art piece, "White Noise, White Light," on Kresge Oval and include symposia, concerts and other activities in addition to the inauguration ceremony itself on May 6. Lerman encouraged faculty to take part in as many of the events planned for the week May 2-7 as possible. "It is an opportunity to celebrate our new president and MIT," he said.

A version of this article appeared in MIT Tech Talk on April 27, 2005 (download PDF).

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