Studying these cells could lead to new treatments for diseases ranging from gastrointestinal disease to diabetes.
MIT has accepted 1,863 applicants for the class of 2002, including 112 who scored a perfect 1,600 on the Scholastic Aptitude Test -- 23 percent of the high school students worldwide who achieved that score last year.
Forty percent of the admitted students, or 737, participated in varsity sports, including members of championship teams. Among the sports involved are boys' and girls' basketball, track, cross-country, swimming, fencing, lacrosse and soccer, as well as baseball and football. Among them were 315 team captains and 168 all-conference players. In addition, 37 percent (688) are musicians who were members of orchestras, bands or choruses, and 21 percent (387) participated in theater programs.
"Every way you look at it, this is the strongest class ever admitted to MIT," said Director of Admissions Marilee Jones.
The letters of acceptance were mailed on March 17. Replies are due by May 1.
The mean SAT verbal score was 719 and the mean math score was 756. A year ago, these scores were 712 and 753, respectively. The pool includes six of the 10 winners of the prestigious Westinghouse science awards. Also accepted were 11 members of the US Olympiad teams -- three in math, four in physics and four in computer science.
Forty-two percent of the students who were accepted are class valedictorians and 90 percent are in the top 5 percent of their class. Thirty-four percent (636) performed community service and 16 percent (289) were class officers. The class includes 330 student editors, 122 members of state and national debating teams and 64 Eagle Scouts.
Forty-six percent of the class are women (855), five percentage points higher than a year ago. Twenty-nine percent (536) are Asian Americans.
African Americans (135), Mexican Americans (105), Native Americans (35) and residents of Puerto Rico (47) make up 17 percent of the class. Four fewer international students were accepted (106) than in 1997. This year they make up 6 percent of the class.
A total of 8,247 students applied, of which 22.5 percent were accepted. Since all students admitted are accepted by other elite schools as well, many choose to matriculate elsewhere. An entering class of 1,050 is expected. The yield of 56 percent is considered high for engineering schools.
Of the 1,857 who were accepted, 22 percent expressed an interest in electrical engineering and computer science and 10 percent in biology.
A version of this article appeared in MIT Tech Talk on April 8, 1998.