Said and Done

Summer 2012 Edition
Published by the Office of the Dean
MIT School of Humanities, Arts, and Social Sciences





“I was thunderstruck when I heard. It is such an extraordinary honor. I am absolutely humbled by this recognition, not only to have won twice, but to have won with one of my former students, Joe Kaboski.”

— Robert Townsend, Killian Professor of Economics, 
upon receiving the 2012 Frisch Medal


Celebrating MIT SHASS Graduates | 2012 Commencement Photogallery 
Photographs of graduates with families, friends, and professors 

Some of the 2012 graduates enjoying the MIT SHASS Commencement Reception | Photogallery


Following the Supreme Court decision to uphold the Affordable Care Act, MIT SHASS experts were in demand to assess the decision and to discuss the future of American health reform. Here are some highlights:

Political Scientist Andrea Campbell on the Affordable Care Act 
MIT political scientist Andrea Campbell (whose work was cited in Justice Ginsberg's opinion) interprets the Court’s health care decision and reflects on its implications. 
Story at MIT News

Health Economist Jonathan Gruber on the Affordable Care Act
An architect of both the national and Massachusetts health care plans, Jon Gruber has been extensively interviewed by the national and international media, before and after the Supreme Court decision. Here are a few of his informative videos:

Media interviews with Jonathan Gruber on the Affordable Care Act

Gruber gives a short, illustrated overview of the health care reform plan (3 min)


L to R: Andrea Campbell, Professor of Political Science; U.S. Supreme Court building at twilight; Jonathan Gruber, Professor of Economics and MacVicar Faculty Fellow

Frank Stanton Chair in Nuclear Security Policy Studies established
The endowed chair in the Department of Political Science, established with a gift of $5 million from the Stanton Foundation, will recognize a faculty member whose research and teaching focus on nuclear proliferation, deterrence, and arms control. 
Full story

MIT Author Junot Díaz | Interview in Boston Review
The two-part interview touches on Díaz’s concern with race, his debt to the writings of women of color, and his fictional explorations of psychic and emotional decolonization.  
Part One | Part Two

More Media Clips 
MIT SHASS in the national and international media 
Current Stories


L: Frank Stanton, former head of CBS; founder, the Stanton Foundation; R: Junot Diaz, MIT Professor of Writing, author, The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao


Flutes in Space
Like many MIT scientists and engineers, NASA astronaut Cady Coleman (‘83) also loves the arts. Recently Commander Coleman, circling Earth aboard the International Space Station, performed a flute duet with Ian Anderson, who was back on Earth. This first-ever Earth-Space duet was to honor Soviet cosmonaut Yuri Gagarin on the 50th anniversary of his flight circling the Earth.  


Commander Cady Coleman ('83), astronaut and accomplished flautist; International Space Station


Public Understanding of Science
Warmest congratulations to our MIT colleagues in Physics on the evidence of a particle with characteristics of the postulated Higgs boson, a particle thought to underlie the origins of mass. Many MIT physicists have long been among the key "boson hunters." As part of the MIT SHASS mission to advance the public understanding of science, here are two helpful works for those of us who are not particle physicists: a video primer on the Higgs boson; and a commentary by David Kaiser, Head of the MIT Program in Science, Technology, and Society.   

Video: The Higgs boson explained

Commentary: Higgs at Last, by David Kaiser, London Review of Books

Many MIT SHASS disciplines and programs advance the public understanding of science, among them: the Program in Science, Technology, and Society, the Graduate Program in Science Writing, and the Knight Science Journalism Fellowships at MIT.



Research Portfolio 
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 health policy, articulate morality, assess the impact of new technologies, understand human language, and create new forms at the juncture of art and science.
Research Portfolio

Co-Designers: Cultures of Computer Simulation in Architecture
In a new book, STS Postdoctoral Associate Yanni Loukissas reveals how “big data” from computer simulations influenced the design of the Sydney Opera House—and continues to change decision-making roles in architecture, government, and corporate endeavors. His book explores what it means to be an architect—or an engineer working on building design—in today’s computing-saturated world. 
MIT News story


How does the human mind make and express cognitive comparisons?
Comparing groups of objects can be tricky, especially when we are evaluating their characteristics, and not just the number of members in each group. So how does the mind process these kinds of comparisons and turn them into linguistic statements? Research in this area by MIT doctoral student Peter Graff and two colleagues has significance for how language emerges in humans.  
Story by Peter Dizikes at MIT News

L to R: Sydney Opera House; STS Postdoctoral Associate Yanni Loukissas; image from linguistics research on cognitive processes (courtesy of Noah Goodman, Peter Graff, and Gregory Scontras)

How to increase access to safe water 
Research by J-PAL affiliates has shown that a point-of-collection water chlorination system, in combination with encouragement from community promoters, can dramatically increase access to safe water compared to marketing bottled chlorine through retail outlets. Evidence from their studies has contributed to the scale-up of the Chlorine Dispenser System reaching over 400,000 people in Kenya and 20,000 people in Haiti, with plans to expand the program to at least two additional countries by 2014.
Full Story at J-PAL

MIT Economists find evidence for the venerable hypothesis of "comparative advantage"
Why do nations trade goods instead of producing more themselves? Research by MIT economists Arnaud Costinot and Dave Donaldson uses a novel approach to suggest, at long last, that David Ricardo’s famous 1817 hypothesis—that countries specialize in the products they make well—is buttressed by real-world evidence.
Story by Peter Dizikes at MIT News

The research of MIT's School of Humanities, Arts, and Social Sciences appears principally in the form of books and publications, and music and theater productions. These gems of the School provide new knowledge and analysis, innovation and insight, guidance for policy, and nourishment for lives.  
Take a look

L to R: Dave Donaldson, Assistant Professor of Economics; David Ricardo (1771-1823), English economist and founder of the 19th century school of classical political economy; R: Arnaud Costinot, Associate Professor of Economics 



Congratulations to the 2012 SHASS Infinite Mile Award Recipients 
This year the School was delighted to honor the contributions of the following members of the MIT SHASS Staff: Caroline Fickett, Center for International Studies; Jessica Dennis, Music and Theater Arts; Lynne Levine, Center for International Studies; Diana Gallagher, Political Science; David Sears, Abdul Latif Jameel Poverty Action Lab; and Rebecca Shepardson, Comparative Media Studies.
More on the awards | Photogallery

Left, seated: Jessica Dennis, David Sears, Caroline Fickett; Left, standing: Dean Deborah Fitzgerald, Rebecca Shepardson. Right seated: Diana Gallagher, Lynne Levine; Right standing: Sue Mannett, Director of Human Resources, SHASS

MIT economist Robert Townsend wins Frisch Medal | first person to receive the Medal twice
Townsend, Killian Professor of Economics at MIT, has been awarded the prestigious Frisch Medal by the Econometric Society for his recent research on the village economies of Thailand. “I was thunderstruck when I heard,” Townsend said. “It is such an extraordinary honor. I am absolutely humbled by this recognition, not only to have won twice, but to have won with one of my former students, Joe Kaboski.
Full Story



L to R: woman and child in Thai village; Robert Townsend, Elizabeth and James Killian Professor of Economics at MIT; man tending a rice field in Thailand



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