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MIT in the media: 2022 in review

MIT community members lent their voices to news articles read globally, and described their work to make a better world.
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Caption: MIT community members served as leading voices emphasizing the importance of inclusion, the urgency of addressing the climate crisis, the need to invest in semiconductor manufacturing in the U.S., and the pressing issue of income inequality.
Credits: Photo: Adam Glanzman

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Long-exposed photo of Mass Ave and Building 7 steps, with streaks of car lights and blurred cars.
MIT community members served as leading voices emphasizing the importance of inclusion, the urgency of addressing the climate crisis, the need to invest in semiconductor manufacturing in the U.S., and the pressing issue of income inequality.
Photo: Adam Glanzman

From the announcement that President L. Rafael Reif would be stepping down and the news that Duke University Provost Sally Kornbluth had been named MIT’s 18th president to the Institute’s first Climate Grand Challenges and the opening of the new MIT Museum in Kendall Square, MIT faculty, researchers, students, and staff made headlines in 2022. MIT community members served as leading voices emphasizing the importance of inclusion, the urgency of addressing the climate crisis, the need to invest in semiconductor manufacturing in the U.S., and the pressing issue of income inequality. Below please find highlights of news stories that spotlight some of the many efforts underway at MIT.

Rafael Reif on Leading – and Leaving – MIT
President Reif, who will return to the faculty following a sabbatical, reflects on his tenure and how his upbringing shaped his outlook on education. “For many, MIT’s reputation is one that is defined by innovative research – a technology hub built on drive and hustle. But when Rafael Reif first visited the school in the spring of 1979, he found a campus full of down-to-earth people who wanted to make the world better, something he could get behind.”
Full story via Latino USA with Maria Hinojosa

Incoming MIT President Sally Kornbluth wants to lift other women up with her: “Being a role model is important”
President-elect Sally Kornbluth discusses her hopes and aspirations for her tenure as MIT’s president. “I just want to continue the excellence of MIT,” she said. “I hope when I turn my head back down the road some years from now that this will have been viewed as a period of continued excellence, but also of the discovery, innovation, and invention of things that continue to really have a huge impact on the world stage.”
Full story via The Boston Globe 

Major semiconductor support bill passes first hurdle
Professor Jesús del Alamo emphasizes the importance of the CHIPS and Science Act and the pressing need to invest in semiconductor manufacturing in the U.S.
Full story via Science Friday 

MIT is creating a digital twin of the Earth to help model climate change
Associate Provost Richard Lester and Professor Noelle Selin discuss MIT’s Climate Grand Challenges. Lester notes that he hopes the challenges will “inspire a new generation of students to roll up their sleeves, put their shoulders to the wheel and help us solve this problem.”
Full story via Radio Boston (WBUR)

Science must overcome its racist legacy
In an editorial for Nature, Chancellor Melissa Nobles and colleagues detail the long history of racism in science and outline their work as guest editors of a series of special Nature issues focused on racism in science.
Full story via Nature

New MIT Museum glimpses the future and examines school’s past
The new MIT Museum, a “purpose-built exhibition and gathering space in the heart of Kendall Square ... seeks to demystify some of the school’s opaque inner workings, makes itself broadly approachable with expanded gallery space, forum areas, learning labs, and a maker hub where visitors can work on museum-led projects.”
Full story via The Boston Globe

Emerging solar technology
Ross Trethewey, co-host of This Old House, visits Professor Vladimir Bulović, director of MIT.nano, to learn more about the future of solar technology.
Full story via This Old House

Computational power

Is artificial intelligence about to transform the mammogram?
Professor Regina Barzilay and graduate student Adam Yala developed an AI system called Mirai that could transform how breast cancer is diagnosed, “an innovation that could seriously disrupt how we think about the disease.”
Full story via The Washington Post

Boston Fed, MIT see promise in possible digital-dollar code
Researchers from MIT and the Federal Reserve Bank of Boston released a new paper and open-source code, called OpenCBDC, aimed at furthering understanding of how a hypothetical central bank digital currency might be developed.
Full story via Bloomberg 

Slowly but surely, robots will wind up in our clothes
Professor Yoel Fink discusses the growing field of smart textiles and his work creating fabrics embedded with computational power. He and colleagues “have created fibers with hundreds of [silicon] microchips to transmit digital signals — essential if clothes are to automatically track things like heart rate or foot swelling.”
Full story via The Washington Post

Expert explains 5G impact on airports
When fears escalated that 5G technologies could negatively impact airline safety, Professor Muriel Médard helped demystify the technology behind 5G.
Full story via NBC Boston

Shoulders to the wheel on climate change

Batteries, solar, wind and hydropower: Why renewable energy is essential to curbing climate change
Professor Jessika Trancik underscores the urgent need to transition to renewable energy sources and explores how we can build a future powered by renewables.
Full story via ABC News

Cat litter could be an antidote for climate change, researchers say
Professor Desirée Plata’s research group developed a new compound using zeolite and copper that has the “potential to greatly reduce the amount of methane in the atmosphere and slow warming temperatures on the planet.”
Full story via The Wall Street Journal

Boston tech startups bet big on batteries 
A number of MIT spinoffs are working on developing new technologies aimed at changing the world’s energy-storage systems. “Behind these companies are key technological advances in chemistry and materials, many of them pioneered at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology,” writes Boston Globe reporter Hiawatha Bray.
Full story via The Boston Globe

Five skills college students will need for their future careers
Associate Professor Miho Mazereeuw discusses courses she is teaching at MIT focused on environmental risk and disaster-resilient design.
Full story via The Wall Street Journal

MIT research explores whether plant DNA can help solve our plastics problem
Professor Kristala Prather speaks about her work using synthetic biology to develop new materials that function like plastic but don’t rely on fossil fuels and biodegrade when no longer in use. Prather also explores how the Kendall Square innovation ecosystem has helped fuel her work.
Full story via Radio Boston (WBUR) 

Companies face pressure to improve environmental sustainability in supply chain
Research Scientist David Correll discusses the challenges companies are facing as they try to improve supply-chain sustainability.
Full story via The Wall Street Journal

Human health

This sticker looks inside the body
MIT engineers created an ultrasound device that can adhere to a patient’s skin and record high-resolution videos of internal organs for up to two days. The technology, Professor Xuanhe Zhao explains, could potentially “change the paradigm of medical imaging by empowering long-term continuous imaging.”
Full story via Scientific American

Next-generation vaccines could end boosters
MIT scientists are developing self-boosting vaccine technology that could allow people to receive multiple vaccine doses in one shot. This technology “would be a game-changer, not only for future pandemics but also for vaccination programs in remote regions where it is harder to deliver boosters.”
Full story via The Economist

Robotic pill that delivers drugs to gut could end insulin injections
MIT researchers developed a robotic drug-carrying pill that can propel itself through mucus in the intestines and could enable some injection-only medications to be taken orally.
Full story via New Scientist

Educational opportunities

MIT to launch new design academy 
With the creation of the new MIT Morningside Academy for Design, MIT is looking to create “a hub of resources for the next generation of designers, integrating areas of study such as engineering and architecture in the process.”
Full story via The Boston Globe

She thought MIT was out of reach. Then a new transfer program for community college students changed her life.
Undergraduate Evelyn De La Rosa discusses her experience with the Transfer Scholars Network, a program aimed at providing community college students with a pathway to four-year universities. “We want to be as accessible as we can,” says Stuart Schmill, dean of admissions and student financial services. “We want to educate the best students from everywhere, from all backgrounds.”
Full story via The Boston Globe

They’re locked up in D.C. — and learning how to code from MIT
The MIT Educational Justice Initiative developed a 12-week program called Brave Behind Bars that teaches inmates “basic coding languages such as JavaScript and HTML in hopes of opening the door for detainees to one day pursue high-paying jobs.”
Full story via The Washington Post

Addressing inequality

Economists pin more blame on tech for rising inequality
Institute Professor Daron Acemoglu’s research shows how “excessive automation” is contributing to rising inequality. “We need to redirect technology so it works for people,” says Acemoglu, “not against them.”
Full story via The New York Times

Will robots really destroy the future of work?
Professor David Autor discusses “The Work of the Future: Building Better Jobs in an Age of Intelligent Machines,” a book he wrote with Professor David Mindell and Elisabeth Reynolds.
Full story via The New York Times

Anna Stansbury on how to boost worker bargaining power
Assistant Professor Anna Stansbury discusses her research on the labor market and worker power.
Full story via Bloomberg

To infinity and beyond

Hear the weird sounds of a black hole singing
MIT astronomers have used light echoes from X-ray bursts to try to map the environment around black holes. Assistant Professor Erin Kara then worked with education and music experts to transform the X-ray reflections into audible sound.
Full story via The New York Times

Images from James Webb Space Telescope will inspire generations of students, MIT professor says
“It’s like going from listening to the radio to suddenly being able to watch television,” says Assistant Professor Julien de Wit of the first images released from the James Webb Space Telescope. “Further down the road, we may be able to see if planets are habitable, if some of these planets have signs of life one way or the other. There are so many things we’re going to discover thanks to it.”
Full story via CBS Boston

NASA made enough oxygen on Mars to last an astronaut for 100 minutes
During day and night, in the wake of a dust storm and in extreme temperatures, the MIT-led Mars Oxygen In-Situ Resource Utilization Experiment (MOXIE) was able to produce about 100 minutes of breathable oxygen in 2021 on Mars.
Full story via New Scientist

Emphasizing Inclusion

One on one with Alison Wendlandt
“I think being different, whatever that means — in my case, being LGBTQ — has been like a superpower,” says Assistant Professor Alison Wendlandt of her journey to leading her own research lab and how being queer has been integral to that journey.
Full story via C&EN

MIT mentor inspires underrepresented students to get involved in STEM
Chiamaka Agbasi-Porter, K-12 STEM outreach coordinator at MIT Lincoln Lab, discusses her work aimed at inspiring young people to pursue STEM interests through the Lincoln Laboratory Radar Introduction for Student Engineers (LLRISE) program.
Full story via CBS Boston

Three questions with Dean Nergis Mavalvala: Kicking off Women’s History Month with a bright star
Professor Nergis Mavalvala, dean of the MIT School of Science, speaks with Nobel Peace Prize laureate Malala Yousafzai about what inspired her love of science, how to inspire more women to pursue their passions, and her hopes for the next generation of STEM students.
Full story via Podium

Mary Anne Ocampo on teaching and practicing urban design
Associate Professor of the Practice Mary Anne Ocampo delves into what inspired her passion for architecture and urban planning, and her advice for new designers. “The impact I would like to have in this world is creating strong collaborations that promote inclusive and resilient design visions,” says Ocampo.
Full story via Madame Architect

What it means to be counted: MIT art project aims to capture Ogden’s vocal diversity
Assistant Professor Ekene Ijeoma discusses his group’s art project, “A Counting,” which spotlights people counting to 100 in their native languages.
Full story via KUER

“Wakanda Forever” and the importance of #BlackGirlGenius
Washington Post columnist Karen Attiah emphasizes the importance of representation in “Black Panther: Wakanda Forever,” which features Riri Williams (Ironheart) as a Black female engineer at MIT.
Full story via The Washington Post

Gang Chen

Justice Department drops China spy initiative as past target speaks out
Jim Axelrod of CBS News speaks with Professor Gang Chen about his ordeal following charges he faced – all now dismissed – under the “China Initiative.”
Full story via CBS News

We are all Gang Chen
Writing for Science, Professor Gang Chen emphasizes the need for universities and funding agencies to stand up for faculty who are wrongfully prosecuted. “What gave me hope and ultimately saved me is a lesson for all universities. MIT leadership, under President L. Rafael Reif, supported me morally and financially after I was detained at the airport, and the university made its support public soon after I was arrested,” writes Chen.
Full story via Science

MIT professor wrongfully accused of spying for China helps make a major discovery 
Months after having all charges he faced under the “China Initiative” dismissed, Professor Gang Chen and his colleagues announced that they discovered a new material that can perform better than silicon.
Full story via NBC News

Leading the conversation

Opinion: The CHIPS are on the table — but semis are only part of the story
MIT President L. Rafael Reif and Blackstone chairperson, CEO, and co-founder Stephen A. Schwarzman praise the new CHIPS and Science Act and highlight the need for further action on the “science” part of the law.
Full story via The Hill

Opinion: Stop financing Putin’s war machine. Cut off Russia’s oil and gas sales
Professor Simon Johnson and Oleg Ustenko, an economic advisor to President Volodymyr Zelensky of Ukraine, emphasize the importance of the U.S. cutting off oil and gas sales from Russia.
Full story via The Los Angeles Times

Opinion: As a child in Haiti, I was taught to despise my language and myself
Professor Michel DeGraff details how the education system in Haiti discriminates against Kreyòl speakers, forcing children to speak and learn in French.
Full story via The New York Times

Opinion: “FemTech” and a moonshot for menstruation science
Professor Linda Griffith underscores the pressing need to invest in studying women’s health and menstruation science.
Full story via The Boston Globe

Opinion: How leaders can create a cybersecure workplace culture
Professor Emeritus Stuart Madnick and Cybersecurity at MIT Sloan Executive Director Keri Pearlson underscore seven actions that leaders can take to ensure employees contribute to maintaining a secure organization.
Full story via The Wall Street Journal

Opinion: The big idea: Why we shouldn’t try to be happy
“What, then, should we strive for? Not happiness or an ideal life, but to find sufficient meaning in the world that we are glad to be alive, and to cope with grace when life is hard. We won’t achieve perfection, but our lives may be good enough,” writes Professor Kieran Setiya in his new book, “Life is Hard.”
Full story via The Guardian

Opinion: When classical music was an alibi
“In moments of war and violence, it can be tempting to either downplay classical music’s involvement in global events or emphasize music’s power only when it is used as a force for what a given observer perceives as good,” write Professor Emily Richmond Pollock and University of Michigan Professor Kira Thurman.
Full story via The New York Times

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