Research shows the success of a bacterial community depends on its shape.
Aware of the need to develop interdisciplinary solutions to global problems, the MIT Council for Sustainability has appointed 24 Graduate Fellows from 11 departments. Among them are seven graduate students from civil and environmental engineering (CEE) and four from earth, atmospheric and planetary sciences (EAPS).
Eight women and 16 men were selected for the fellowships by the Council, chaired by Provost Joel Moses. In the introduction to a book that profiles the Fellows, President Charles M. Vest said:
"When these gifted students leave MIT, they will become leaders in their fields. In addition to a heightened awareness of environmental concerns and sustainability issues, we want them to have a lifelong network of colleagues to call upon as they work on complex, multidimensional issues. Their participation in joint activities as Sustain-ability Fellows will provide the critical perspectives and collegial resources to expand opportunities for environmentally sustainable solutions."
Noting that a similarly diverse group produced excellent results on the three-year chlorine project, David H. Marks, Crafts Professor of Civil and Environmental Engineering, said, "They learned an unbelievable amount from one another and bonded well in spite of the fact that without the project they would probably never have met."
Professor Marks, MIT's coordinator for the Alliance for Global Sustainability (AGS), expects the Fellows for Sustainability to have a similarly fulfilling experience. "They are of the same ilk--very bright but within a disciplinary framework," he said. "The program allows them to get to know and learn from people outside their discipline. We encourage them to organize what they do and they have been very active and motivated."
Professor Marks and Professor Rafael L. Bras, head of CEE, are faculty advisors for the Fellows.
From their first meeting, members of the Council for Sustainability were impressed by the intellectual rapport and sense of common purpose that quickly developed among the Fellows.
"We anticipate major accomplishments from this charter group of Sustainability Fellows," said Professor Bras. "They represent the best MIT has to offer, and we are convinced they will contribute greatly to one another's knowledge and understanding. The benefits to society at large will be immeasurable."
The Fellows attended the recent AGS meetings, witnessing first-hand the free exchange of ideas among the three universities and representatives of industry and government. The other two universities involved in AGS, the University of Tokyo and the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology in Zurich, plan to establish similar fellowships.
The charter members of the SGFS listed by department are:
CEE: Kent K.C. Bares, Alejandro Cano Ruiz, Jennifer A. Howard, Jeremy B. Levin, Jeffrey D. Niemann, Wendy J. Pabich-Sproull and Mark D. Stoughton.
Chemical Engineering: Shanta Krishnamurthy and Randy D. Weinstein.
Chemistry: Ilia Dubinsky and Geoffrey D. Smith.
Earth, Atmospheric and Planetary Sciences: Gary Holian, Gary A. Kleiman, Jeffrey M. Scott and Stephanie L. Shaw.
Economics: Elizabeth M. Bailey.
Electrical Engineering and Computer Science: Laura Pruette.
Materials Science and Engineering: Samuel A.S. Newell.
Political Science: David M. Fairman and David M. Reiner.
Technology, Management and Policy Program: Brindha P. Muniappan and Mort Webster.
Urban Studies and Planning: Janet K. Martinez and Adil Najam.
A version of this article appeared in MIT Tech Talk on February 26, 1997.