Said and Done
Summer 2015 Edition
Published by the Office of the Dean
MIT School of Humanities, Arts, and Social Sciences
Better policies, more public funding of research, and tweaks to the R&D pipeline could help create more drugs for prevention, and for treating cancers at earlier stages.
— synposis of findings
from study by MIT economist Heidi Williams
FEATURE | MIT'S HIGHEST FACULTY HONOR
Marcus Thompson appointed Institute Professor
Along with professors Sallie Chisolm and Ron Rivest, Thompson has been named an Institute Professor, an appointment that recognizes exceptional distinction by a combination of leadership, accomplishment, and service. Thompson, the Robert R. Taylor Professor of Music, has been an enormously influential presence at MIT, both as an internationally recognized concert musician and a much-lauded teacher. Steven Hall, chair of the MIT faculty, says of Thompson, “Over his long career, Marcus has worked to give students access to a world-class music program that has changed MIT.”
Story at MIT News | Interview at Boston Magazine
Marcus Thompson, Institute Professor, Robert Taylor Professor of Music / Photo by Jon Sachs
FEATURE | SHASS GRADUATE STUDENTS
MIT philosophy grad students launch program to increase diversity in their field
The academic pursuit of philosophy has a serious diversity problem. To help remedy the issue, three MIT philosophy graduate students — Abby Jaques, Matthias Jenny, and Kevin Richardson — organized a program that brought a diverse cohort of undergraduates to MIT this summer to explore the full range of options for pursuing an academic career in philosophy.
Story by SHASS Communications
Abby Jaques, Kevin Richardson / Photocredit: Jon Sachs
“One thing that makes MIT different…It’s not at all an absurd thing for us to think, ‘There’s a problem here; let’s do something about it.’”
Research is the engine for the School's capacity to help meet the world's great challenges. To name just a few areas of impact, MIT SHASS research helps alleviate poverty, safeguard elections, steer economies, understand the past and present, inform effective policy solutions in the health, environment, education, water, and energy sectors, assess the impact of new technologies, understand human language, and create new forms at the juncture of art and science.
Study: Firms underinvest in long-term cancer research | Heidi Williams
Better policies, more public funding of research, and tweaks to the R&D pipeline could lead to more drugs for prevention, and for treating cancers at earlier stages.
Story by Peter Dizikes, MIT News
Medical anthropology meets biomedicine and technology
Erica Caple James observes that truly solving the world's complex health issues will require bringing together knowledge from the humanities and social sciences — about the cultural, political, and economic determinants of health — with biomedical and technological expertise. And, she notes, “MIT may be uniquely positioned to offer new research and teaching models that can solve persistant health problems worldwide.”
Story by MIT Spectrum
The Glaser Codex at MIT | Michael Cuthbert
Medievalists embrace many technologies, Cuthbert explains, otherwise their work would be impossible, given the fragmentary state of what survives from an earlier period. Just as we need an intermediary to convert a CD, MP3, or other object into music we can hear and enjoy, “we need specialized tools for translating these manuscript objects into musical sound.”
Story by Sharon Lacey, MIT News
Glaser Codex in the MIT Lewis Music Library
The US/Iran nuclear deal: MIT’s experts size it up
Francis Gavin, Scott Kemp, Vipin Narang, Jim Walsh, and John Tirman weigh in on the potential pact and its global implications.
Story by Peter Dizikes, MIT News
3 Questions | Michel DeGraff on Haiti's new policy for teaching in Kreyòl
In July 2015, Haiti’s government announced a new policy to educate students in Kreyòl, the primary language of most Haitians, rather than in French, as has been tradtional. Introducing Kreyòl-language instruction in Haiti has been long been a cause of DeGraff, a native of Haiti and MIT professor of linguistics who has been instrumental in establishing the MIT-Haiti Initiative.
SCIENCE, TECHNOLOGY, AND SOCIETY
Citizenship in a Digital Age | Jennifer Light
Light, a historian and sociologist of science and technology, explains why political and economic structures are needed if technological innovations are to achieve particular social or political outcomes. "Our conversations about new media and politics are proceeding in a manner that’s technologically determinist," she notes, "assuming political change will follow from technological change, when in fact, the political changes are contingent on how we regulate the technology, how much it costs, etc."
L to R: From Voice to Influence (University of Chicago Press, 2015) ed. Jennifer Light; Black Hole (Yale University Press, 2015) by Marcia Bartusiak; Dream Chasers: Immigration and the American Backlash (MIT Press, 2015) by John Tirman
Andrea Louise Campbell named head of Political Science
Campbell became the new head of the Department of Political Science, effective July 1, 2015. “I am deeply honored to be appointed head of Political Science,” she said. “I look forward to working with the faculty, staff, and students as we continue to build on our trademark strengths at MIT Political Science: we address the ‘big questions’ that are highly consequential both to political science and to wider communities around the world.”
Jeffrey S. Ravel named head of MIT History
Ravel became the new head of the MIT History section, effective July 1, 2015. “I am privileged to serve as head of this dynamic section,” Ravel said. “Our MIT historians contribute to the newest frontiers in world and transnational history, and to the history of the environment. In our classrooms, we introduce MIT’s brilliant students to the pleasures and paradoxes of the past....Having a nuanced understanding of past successes and failures helps our graduates fulfill MIT's mission.”
Andrea Campbell, Head, MIT Political Science; Jeffrey S. Ravel, Head MIT History
FEATURE | SHASS GRADUATE STUDENT
Empathy + Economics: Meet MIT SHASS PhD student Reshmaan Hussam
Hussam uses economics research to help to increase human well-being. Her work shows that we need to understand behavioral barriers to, for instance, handwashing with soap — which can vastly improve the quality of life and equip people with the health stability to focus on other activities, such as education and building up financial savings.
MIT SHASS Economics PhD student Reshmaan Hussam / Photocredit: Bryce Vickmark
HONORS AND AWARDS
All Awards | Summer 2015
To see more of the many recent awards for the SHASS community, visit the complete
Honors and Awards section
Sabine Iatridou, Kai von Fintel, elected Fellows of the Linguistic Society of America
This is the linguistic field’s highest honor, awarded each year to a small number of linguists for distinguished contributions to the discipline. Iatridou and Von Fintel join their MIT colleagues Noam Chomsky, Morris Halle, Irene Heim, David Pesetsky, and Donca Steriade, who have been honored as Fellows in previous years, as well as more than twenty alumni of the department.
Iatridou website | Von Fintel website | MIT Members of the LSA
MIT CLASS OF 2015
MIT chapter of the Phi Beta Kappa Society inducts 80 new members
Jeffrey Ravel, professor of history and president of Xi of Massachusetts said, “This year's inductees represent the very best of MIT, in the sense that they have excelled not only at technical subjects, but also at the humanities, arts, and social and natural sciences.”
Story by SHASS Communications
PHILOSOPHY, POLITICAL SCIENCE, ECONOMICS
Haslanger, Thelen, and Werning elected to the American Academy of Arts and Sciences
“We are honored to elect a new class of extraordinary women and men to join our distinguished membership,” said Don Randel, chair of the academy’s Board of Directors. “Each new member is a leader in his or her field and has made a distinct contribution to the nation and the world.”
Story at MIT News | AAAS press release
Jim Poterba elected to the National Academy of Sciences
Bowring, Mrowka, and Seager named, along with Poterba, for “distinguished and continuing achievements in original research.” Membership in the NAS is one of the most significant honors given to academic researchers.
Story at MIT News
MIT SHASS STAFF
Six members of the SHASS community receive Infinite Mile Awards
The awards, which salute SHASS staff members for exceptional contributions that benefit the School and the Institute, were presented during a festive luncheon at the MIT Media Lab.
Announcement and Recipients
Congratulations to the 2015 recipients of the MIT SHASS Infinite Mile Awards: L to R: Serenella Sferza, Erminia Picconino, Dean Deborah Fitzgerald, Karen Gardner, Sheelah Ward, Irene Hartford, Kelly Damm.
SHASS FAIR FOR STUDENTS
TOUR de SHASS arrives on campus, September 10
The very popular SHASS academic expo showcases the great range of courses within MIT's School of Humanities, Arts, and Social Sciences, giving hundreds of MIT students a chance to “Take the Tour” — visiting information stations staffed by SHASS faculty and UAAs from all SHASS fields of study. Students are particularly excited about the opportunity to talk directly with faculty about potential classes.
What makes Rock Band rock? | Conversation with Eran Egozy '95
The creator of Rock Band, a popular music video game, is back on campus. Egozy ’95 is teaching in the MIT Music section, guiding MIT students to find their own way to blend technology and music. Behind Rock Band’s success are two alumni—Eran Egozy and Alex Rigopulos ’92, SM ’94, the co-founders of Harmonix. The company has sold 18 million units of Rock Band and is coming out with Rock Band 4 later this year.
Story at Slice of MIT | Podcast
Grant to MIT's Poverty Action Lab increases focus on working with governments
Support from the Abdul Latif Jameel Community Initiatives will help generate more effective policymaking in the fight to alleviate global poverty.
ARTS AT MIT
Mellon awards $1.5 million grant to MIT's Center for Art, Science and Technology
MIT CAST has received a $1.5 million grant from the Andrew Mellon Foundation, bringing the foundation's total support for CAST to $3 million, among the largest gifts received by the arts at MIT.
Story by Arts at MIT
CENTER FOR INTERNATIONAL STUDIES
Interview with Joel Brenner
Brenner, former inspector general and senior counsel at the National Security Agency, joined CIS as a Robert E. Wilhelm Fellow in 2014. In this interview, he discusses his work in law and public service, his interest in technology and policy, as well as his research at CIS.
Interview by CIS staff
IN THE MEDIA
SHASS In the Media | Summer 2015
For more of the many recent media stories about SHASS research and faculty, visit the complete
In the Media section
The MIT gang | Paul Krugman
Paul Krugman, PhD ’77, writes about the meteoric rise of MIT-trained economists on the global stage since the economic crash of 2008. “The economic analysis some of us learned at MIT way back when has worked very, very well for the past seven years.”
Column IN the New York Times
DeGraff and Mandalay Louis-Charles create Haitian Kreyol alphabet recording
The first ever Kreyòl (Haitian Creole) alphabet songs as educational videos have been created as the result of a collaboration between Kreyòl advocates Mandalay Louis-Charles and Michel DeGraff, MIT Professor of Linguistics.
Story at newswire
MIT Professors of Linguistics Michel DeGraff and Noam Chomsky (flanking a photograph of Betrand Russell) each hold recordings of Chante Alfabè Kreyòl La (Haitian Creole Alphabet Songs). Photocredit: Bev Boisseau Stohl
Black and light | Marcia Bartusiak
The Economist reviews Black Hole: How an Idea Abandoned by Newtonians, Hated by Einstein and Gambled on by Hawking Became Loved, by Marcia Bartusiak, MIT professor of science writing. “Ms. Bartusiak weaves scientific concepts to create a portrait of the scientific institution itself, showing how its norms and personalities served to shape the path taken by the idea.”
Review at The Economist
Have your cake and eat it too | Daron Acemoglu
In an article on the relationship between economic growth and a given nation's political model, research by MIT economist Daron Acemoglu is cited to show that “in non-democracies, well-connected firms use political power to shut out competition.”
Story at the Economist
Said and Done is published by the Office of the Dean,
MIT School of Humanities, Arts, and Social Sciences
Editor and Designer: Emily Hiestand, Director, SHASS Communications
Publication Associate: Daniel Pritchard, SHASS Communications
12 August 2015