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Astrophysicist Frank Shu '63, who is credited with making pivotal contributions to our understanding of galaxies and star formation, has died at the age of 79, reports Douglas Lin and Fred Adams for Nature. “For the past dozen years, his concern about the climate crisis led him to study the use of molten-salt reactors to generate energy from nuclear waste and to convert waste biomass into inert products that can be sequestered, removing carbon from the atmosphere,” write Lin and Adams.

The New York Times

Virginia Norwood ’47, an aerospace pioneer who designed and championed the scanner used to map and study the earth from space, has died at 96, reports Dylan Loeb McClain for The New York Times. Using her invention, the Landsat Satellite program has been able to capture images of the planet that provide “powerful visual evidence of climate change, deforestation and other shifts affecting the planet’s well-being,” writes McClain.

The New York Times

Adjunct Professor Emeritus Mel King, a political activist whose 1983 mayoral campaign helped ease racial tensions in Boston, has died at 94, reports Richard Sandomir for The New York Times. King’s work included “teaching in the urban studies and planning department of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology from 1970 to 1996,” writes Sandomir. “There, he started a Community Fellows Program for leaders nationwide.”

The Boston Globe

Prof. Emeritus Nelson Kiang, a scientist and educator who pioneered research into how humans hear, has died at 93, reports Bryan Marquard for The Boston Globe. “Kiang’s research ultimately helped form some of the foundation for other research into hearing, including the design and refinement of hearing aids and cochlear implants,” writes Marquard.


NPR reporter Kaitlyn Radde spotlights the life and work of Virginia Norwood ’47, “a founding figure in satellite land imaging who developed technology to scan the surface of the moon for safe landing sites and map our planet from space.” Norwood was known as the "Mother of Landsat” for her work developing the Multispectral Scanner System that flew on the first Landsat satellite.

The Washington Post

Virginia Norwood ’47, “a pioneering aerospace engineer who used design innovations, emerging technologies and seasoned intuition in projects that scanned the lunar surface for safe Apollo landing sites and mapped the Earth from space with digital imagery never before seen,” has died at 96, reports Brian Murphy for The Washington Post. “Over a four-decade career that began with slide rules and moved into the age of computer modeling, Ms. Norwood became known as a resourceful problem solver who often hit upon simple but effective solutions,” Murphy writes.

The Boston Globe

Adjunct Professor Emeritus Melvin “Mel” King, a political activist, former MA state representative and the first Black person to reach a Boston mayoral general election, has died at 94. “[In 1971], he founded the Community Fellows Program at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, where he became an adjunct professor of urban studies and planning. The program brings leaders from minority communities to MIT for a year of research and study,” writes Mark Feeney for The Boston Globe

The New York Times

Rebecca Blank PhD ’83, who helped reform how the government measures poverty, has died at 67, reports Alex Traub for The New York Times. Blank’s work “changed the poverty calculus in numerous ways, for instance by using as a basis not merely food budgets but also an array of consumer expenditures, including on clothing and shelter,” writes Traub. “In addition, it updated the view of a family’s financial resources to take account of government benefits not issued as cash.”

The Boston Globe

John Olver PhD ’61, “who never lost an election in the nearly 44 years he served as a state representative, state senator, and US representative,” has died at age 86, reports Bryan Marquard for The Boston Globe. “Dr. Olver was respected for his behind-the-scenes work crafting legislation and brokering compromises,” Marqaurd note.

Associated Press

Former U.S. Representative John Olver PhD '61, has died at age 86, reports Steve LeBlanc for the Associated Press. “[Olver’s] quiet demeanor and wry sense of humor concealed a razor-sharp understanding of the issues facing the American people and a deep faith in our ability to solve them together,” says Democratic U.S. Representative James McGovern.

Associated Press

Ash Carter, a member of the MIT Corporation and innovation fellow, has died at the at the age of 68, reports Tara Copp for Associated Press. Carter – who opened combat jobs to women and ended the ban on transgender people serving in the military – was known “as a defensive thinker and strategist,” writes Copp.

The Boston Globe

W. Gerald Austen ’51 - a prolific researcher, and devoted chief of surgery - has died at the age of 92, reports Bryan Marquard for The Boston Globe. Austen, who was a life member of the MIT Corporation, often noted that his bachelor’s degree from MIT came in handy during his career in medicine. “My field in engineering was fluid mechanics, and what could be better, it turned out,” he told The Globe. “Fluid mechanics is fluid flow through pipes, and cardiovascular surgery is also fluid flow through pipes and pumps.”

New York Times

Ken Knowlton PhD ’62 - a pioneer in the science and art of computer graphics and the creator of some of the first computer-generated pictures, portraits and movies - died June 16 at the age of 91, reports Cade Metz for The New York Times. “Knowlton was the only person to ever use the BEFLIX language – he and his colleagues quickly replaced it with other tools and techniques – the ideas behind this technology would eventually overhaul the movie business,” writes Metz.

The Boston Globe

Prof. Emeritus Leo Marx - "a pioneering student and then teacher of American studies” - died on March 8 at the age of 102, reports Bryan Marquard for The Boston Globe. Marquard notes that Marx was “a professor so thoroughly engaged with his students that he took delight when, on occasion, one nudged him aside to offer an alternative view.”

The Wall Street Journal

David J. Collins MA ’59, a pioneer in creating a system to identify railcars and developing a way to scan bar codes with flashes of light, has died at the age of 86, reports James R. Hagerty for The Wall Street Journal. “By developing a system to identify railcars, he helped turn bar codes and their derivatives into an inescapable badge of modern life, used to identify merchandise, inventories, packages and people getting on airplanes,” writes Hagerty.