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Electrical engineering and computer science (EECS)

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The Boston Globe

Boston Dynamics founder Marc Raibert ’77 has been selected as one of The Boston Globe’s Tech Power Players 50 for his work in artificial intelligence and robotics, reports Hiawatha Bray for The Boston Globe. Raibert recalls how his fascination with developing robot legs was cultivated at MIT. “I went to a presentation where someone showed a very slow-moving legged robot,” said Raibert. “I thought, wow, people and animals aren’t anything like that. ... People and animals have such fantastic locomotion. That was a thing to try to emulate and achieve.”

The Boston Globe

An international team of scientists, including researchers from MIT and Harvard, have found that an artificial intelligence program trained to read X-rays and CT scans can successfully predict a person’s race with 90 percent accuracy, reports Hiawatha Bray for The Boston Globe. "The research effort was born when the scientists noticed that an AI program for examining chest X-rays was more likely to miss signs of illness in Black patients," writes Bray.

Stat

STAT has named Noubar Afeyan ’87, Cornelia Bargmann PhD ’87, Prof. Regina Barzilay and Prof. Sangeeta N. Bhatia to their list of trailblazing researchers working in the life sciences. “Many of the STATUS List are well-known as change makers; others are largely unheralded heroes. But all have compelling stories to tell,” writes STAT.

Popular Mechanics

Prof. Erik Demaine speaks with Popular Mechanics reporter Sarah Wells about the surprisingly complex math behind wrapping a present. "If [the wrapping] is a square piece of paper, we know the best [way]," Demaine says. "[But] what if I gave you an eight-and-a-half by eleven rectangle? The answer turns out to be really complicated…And again, this is just wrapping a cube. If you're wrapping a general box, it's going to get even messier. Here, we don't even know the right answer."

Economist

Graduate student Shashank Srikant speaks with The Economist about his work developing a new model that can detect computer bugs and vulnerabilities that have been maliciously inserted into computer code.

TopUniversities.com

Provost Marty Schmidt speaks with TopUniversities.com reporter Chloe Lane about how MIT has maintained its position as the top university in the world on the QS World University Rankings for 10 consecutive years. “I am honored to have been a part of the MIT community for almost 40 years,” says Schmidt. “It’s a truly interdisciplinary, collaborative, thought-provoking place that encourages experimentation and pushes you to expand your mind. I think it’s a wonderful place to call home.”

TechCrunch

MIT researchers have developed a new robot, dubbed RF Grasp, that can sense hidden objects using radio waves, reports Brian Heater for TechCrunch. “The tech allows RF Grasp to pick up things that are covered up or otherwise out of its line of vision,” writes Heater.

Stat

Prof. Emerita Nancy Hopkins speaks with Rebecca Sohn of STAT about the Boston Biotech Working Group’s goal of increasing the number of women leaders and entrepreneurs in biotech and her hopes for the future of women in biotech and the sciences. “You want people to feel that they are free to participate in all the things wherever it leads them,” says Hopkins. “So I think the goal is just that people who really want to do this [pursue biotech] don’t face any greater barrier than anybody else. That everybody has equal access and education to do as they want to.”

Boston Globe

A group of MIT scientists has announced a new plan, called the Future Founders Initiative, aimed at addressing gender inequities in the biotech industry, reports Anissa Gardizy for The Boston Globe. “If we can’t advance discoveries at the same rate for women and men, that means there are drugs, therapies, devices, and diagnostics that are not getting to where they can actually benefit people,” says President Emerita Susan Hockfield. “If as a region we want to continue to lead the world, the best thing to do is not squander our resources.”

TechCrunch

TechCrunch reporter Brian Heater spotlights how MIT researchers have devised a neural network to help optimize sensor placement on soft robots to help give them a better picture of their environment.

Slate

Graduate student Crystal Lee speaks with Slate reporter Rebecca Onion about a new study that illustrates how social media users have used data visualizations to argue against public health measures during the Covid-19 pandemic. “The biggest point of diversion is the focus on different metrics—on deaths, rather than cases,” says Lee. “They focus on a very small slice of the data. And even then, they contest metrics in ways I think are fundamentally misleading.”

Mashable

Mashable reporter Jordan Aaron spotlights how MIT researchers have developed insect-sized drones that can flap their wings over 500 times per second, allowing them to withstand collisions. The drones are “powered by a small actuator, which gives them the ability to flap so fast.”

National Public Radio (NPR)

Prof. Kevin Chen speaks with NPR about his work developing a new microdrone inspired by how an insect flaps its wings. “Because our soft power robot is very robust, of course, we can do interesting maneuvers, such as doing a somersault, we can survive collisions, et cetera,” he explains.

The Economist

The Economist spotlights how MIT researchers created a virtual technique to decipher the contents of a letter that was sealed 300 years ago. The letter was originally sealed by its sender using the historical practice of securing correspondence called letterlocking. The new virtual technique “seems to hold plenty of promise for future research into a fascinating historical practice.”

WHDH 7

Speaking with WHDH, Prof. Kevin Cheng explains how he was inspired by the agility of insects to create tiny new drones that are acrobatic and resilient. “Think about a scenario, for example, a building collapse with people trapped inside, and what we’re thinking of is sending a swarm of drones into this collapsed building to search for survivors,” says Chen. “That’s something very difficult for traditional drones.”