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Ali Jadbabaie named head of the Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering

Systems science and control theory expert to succeed Markus Buehler.
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Ali Jadbabaie has been named the new head of the MIT Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering.
Ali Jadbabaie has been named the new head of the MIT Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering.

Ali Jadbabaie, the JR East Professor of Engineering, has been named the new head of the Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering (CEE), effective Sept. 1.

“Ali’s work has crossed disciplines and departments and led to multi-university collaborations,” says Anantha Chandrakasan, dean of the MIT School of Engineering and the Vannevar Bush Professor of Electrical Engineering and Computer Science, in an announcement to the CEE community. “He has made outstanding contributions as an educator, in addition to serving as a leader in MIT’s multi-disciplinary efforts — particularly in understanding the dynamics of social networks, spreading processes, collective behavior, and collective decision-making in socio-technical systems. He will undoubtedly be a remarkable next leader for CEE.”

Jadbabaie succeeds Markus Buehler, the McAfee Professor of Engineering, who has led CEE since 2013. “I am grateful to Markus for his leadership, dedication, and contributions to helping shape CEE across the past seven years,” says Chandrakasan.

Currently, Jadbabaie also serves as associate director of the Institute for Data, Systems, and Society (IDSS), director of the Sociotechnical Systems Research Center, and a principal investigator in the Laboratory for Information and Decision Systems (LIDS). He has made fundamental contributions in optimization-based control, multi-agent coordination and consensus, collective decision-making, network science, and network economics. 

Jadbabaie graduated from Sharif University of Technology with a BS in electrical engineering (with a focus on control systems), and went on to receive his MS in electrical and computer engineering from the University of New Mexico, and his PhD in control and dynamical systems from Caltech. His work as a postdoc at Yale University set him on career path in network science and multi-agent coordination and control.

Jadbabaie spent 14 years at the University of Pennsylvania, where he held the Alfred Fitler Moore Professorship of Network Sciences in the Department of Electrical and Systems Engineering. He also held secondary appointments in the Department of Computer and Information Science as well as the Department of Operations, Information and Decisions in the Wharton School. In 2014, Ali was recruited to join MIT as a visiting professor, to help lay the groundwork for the new IDSS, which included the establishment of its flagship doctoral program in Social and Engineering Systems (SES). He also served as interim director of the Sociotechnical Systems Research Center. In 2016, he formally joined the MIT faculty with a joint appointment in the Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering and the IDSS.

In recognition of his work on multi-agent coordination and control and network science, Ali was named an IEEE Fellow; he also served as the inaugural editor-in-chief of IEEE Transactions on Network Science and Engineering, an interdisciplinary journal sponsored by several IEEE societies. He is a 2016 recipient of a Vannevar Bush Fellowship from the Office of the Secretary of Defense, in addition to being the recipient of a National Science Foundation Career Award, an Office of Naval Research Young Investigator Award, the O. Hugo Schuck Best Paper Award from the American Automatic Control Council, and the George S. Axelby Best Paper Award from the IEEE Control Systems Society. Several of his student advisees have also won best paper awards.

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