On a field trip, Harriet Ritvo and her MIT students went to look at preserved animals on public display, or stored as lab specimens, in collections housed at Harvard University. They encountered hundreds of species, some up close: touching the wings of a pickled bat, the silky fur of a mink, and the sharp claws of a lynx and a lion.
“In my lab, we bridge a gap,” says Hadley Sikes. “We try to figure out how to take established science and implement it in clinical practice in a reliable, easy and cost-effective way.”
The associate professor in the Department of Chemical Engineering is one of an increasing number of MIT faculty members who do what might best be called public engineering, which emphasizes the interaction between society and technology.
On an afternoon in early April, Tommi Jaakkola is pacing at the front of the vast auditorium that is 26-100. The chalkboards behind him are covered with equations. Jaakkola looks relaxed in a short-sleeved black shirt and jeans, and gestures to the board. “What is the answer here?” he asks the 500 MIT students before him. “If you answer, you get a chocolate. If nobody answers, I get one — because I knew the answer and you didn’t.” The room erupts in laugher.
Polina Anikeeva is ready for Patriots Day. Like the thousands of other runners who make their way from Hopkington, Massachusetts, all the way to that last turn onto Boylston Street in the heart of Beantown, she has her own reasons for running the Boston Marathon; among them: the desire for a balanced life within academe.
When Jeffrey Grossman teaches solid-state chemistry, he keeps it moving. His shoes click across the front of the lecture hall floor with the cadence and energy of a tap dance. He spins toward the chalkboard and rapidly jots down equations. He pauses to hold up a large 3-D model of the atoms in a crystal structure, passes it into the sea of 400 students in the room, then resumes his lecture — without once breaking his rhythm.
When Bobby Forster proposed to his girlfriend, they were both covered in beads and face paint, among the hordes at Mardi Gras in New Orleans. He dropped to one knee; she said yes. In an instant, he was on his feet, wrapping his arms around her. They kissed for so long the revelers, hooting for them, ran out of breath.