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Awards and honors: Oct. 29, 2008

MIT students in running for inventors' award

One recent MIT graduate and two current MIT graduate students have been named among 12 finalists in the National Inventors Hall of Fame Foundation's Collegiate Inventors Competition. The award focuses on students whose inventions show practical applications to meet pressing needs in our society.

The finalists from MIT are:

Greg Schroll, who graduated in June with a bachelor's in mechanical engineering, for his work on a spherical robot that uses a control moment gyroscope to store momentum for going up inclines and over obstacles;

Heejin Lee, a graduate student in the Department of Mechanical Engineering, for work on a device that can be inserted nonsurgically into the bladder via the urethra, releasing a controlled dosage of a drug into the bladder through osmosis;

Timothy Lu, a graduate student in the Harvard-MIT Division of Health Sciences and Technology, who is working on an engineered bacteriophage -- a virus that infects bacteria -- that works in conjunction with antibiotics, making them much more effective. Lu also won last year's $30,000 Lemelson-MIT Student Prize for inventiveness.

The grand prize winner, who will be named on Nov. 19, will receive $25,000.

Saxe named Packard fellow

MIT neuroscientist Rebecca Saxe is one of 20 young scientists to be awarded a 2008 David and Lucile Packard fellowships in science and engineering.

Saxe, an assistant professor of cognitive neuroscience, will receive an $875,000 grant over five years to study the circuits in the human brain that give rise to the high-level aspects of human thought.

PhD candidate wins R.V. Jones Memorial Scholarship

Vijay Shilpiekandula, a PhD candidate in the Department of Mechanical Engineering, was awarded the 2008 R.V. Jones Memorial Scholarship by the American Society for Precision Engineering (ASPE) for his paper titled, "A Flexure-based Mechanism for Precision Angular Alignment at Large Loads," co-authored with his academic advisor Professor Kamal Youcef-Toumi. The award, which includes a $1,000 honorarium, was presented at the Annual Meeting of ASPE and the 12th ICPE at Portland, Ore., in October.

The paper, selected by the ASPE Educational Scholarship Committee from a pool of student applications, stems from Shilpiekandula's doctoral thesis research on the design and control of flexure-based nanopositioning systems. The research was conducted at the MIT Mechatronics Research Laboratory and was supported by the Singapore-MIT Alliance and a research grant from Haythornthwaite Foundation, American Academy of Mechanics.

Finkelstein wins prestigious women in economics awards

The Elaine Bennett Prize, an award presented every other year by the Committee on the Status of Women in the Economic Profession to "recognize, support and encourage outstanding contributions by young women in the economics profession," was recently awarded to Amy Finkelstein, a professor in the Department of Economics.

Haldeman novel acquired by director Ridley Scott

Ridley Scott, director of films including "Blade Runner" and "Alien," has acquired the rights to Joe Haldeman's science fiction novel, "The Forever War." The book by Haldeman, an adjunct professor in the Program in Writing and Humanistic Studies, focuses on a soldier who spends a few months battling in space, only to come home 20 years later to find a changed planet.

VP Grochow named ACM Distinguished Engineer

Vice President for Information Services & Technology Jerrold Grochow has been selected as an Association for Computing Machinery (ACM) Distinguished Engineer. The honor is given to those who "have achieved a significant accomplishment in, or made significant impact on, the computing field."

EECS associate professor wins early career award

Electrical Engineering and Computer Science Associate Professor Joel Voldman was presented the Young Innovator's Award -- for exceptional technical advancement and innovation in his or her early career -- at the 12th International Conference on Miniaturized Systems for Chemistry and Life Sciences.

A version of this article appeared in MIT Tech Talk on October 29, 2008 (download PDF).

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