Professor Jim Gates will be speaking on matters related to the U.S. President’s Council of Advisors on
Science & Technology and some of its policy statements surrounding Climate Change at The Big History Anthropocene Conference in Sydney, Australia on December 10, 2015.Held at Macquarie University, the conference brings together “leading Australian and international academics and researchers from the natural and social sciences to explore the most pressing issues of our time”. This “transdisciplinary exploration” will cover:

  • Defining the Anthropocene
  • Ecosystems, Boundaries, and Species
  • Economics for the Anthropocene
  • Law and Governance for the Anthropocene
  • Reflections on Paris COP21
  • Climate Change, Health, and Population
  • Humanity’s Long Term Prospects

Prof. Gates serves on President Barack Obama’s Council of Advisors on Science and Technology, and on the Maryland State Board of Education. Known for his work on supersymmetry, supergravity, and superstring theory, Prof. Gates is a member of the board of trustees of Society for Science & the Public. In 2013, he was elected to the National Academy of Sciences, becoming the first African-American physicist so recognized in its 150-year history. President Obama awarded Prof. Gates the Medal of Science, the highest award given to scientists in the U.S., at a White House ceremony in 2013.

Prof. Gates’ lifetime career is in direct opposition to U.S. Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia’s recent comments during oral arguments in a critical case about affirmative action: “Most of the black scientists in this country…come from lesser schools where they do not feel that they’re being pushed ahead in classes that are too fast for them.”



Carlos Castillo-Chavez: Keynote at B.E.E.R.

Carlos Castillo-Chávez will headline International Symposium on Biomathematics and Ecology Education Research. Known as B.E.E.R., the symposium draws in some of the top names in the emerging field of biomathematics. This year, it will take place at Illinois State University from October 9 to 11, 2015.

Castillo-Chavez’s work uses both mathematical models and an understanding of ecology to explore the spread of diseases. “Biomathematics is the interface where mathematical and natural sciences meet social sciences,” said Illinois State Professor of Mathematics Olcay Akman, who is co-organizing the symposium. “If biomathematics has an Einstein of our field, then it is Castillo-Chavez.”


Sylvester Gates, Jr. will receive an honorary doctor of science degree from Memorial University in Canada. The honorary doctorate recognizes extraordinary contributions to society and exceptional intellectual achievement.

The two other honorees are retired Supreme Court Justice and former member of the House of Assembly Robert Wells (honorary doctor of laws degree) and actor Robert Joy (honorary doctor of letters). The doctorates will be awarded at the fall convocation ceremonies in October 2015.

Dr. Gates will receive the degree of doctor of science honoris causa during the 3 p.m. session of fall convocation on Oct. 23, 2015 at the Arts and Culture Centre in St. John’s.



Terrence Blackman presents the NAM David Harold Blackwell Lecture at the Mathematical Association of America Centennial Lecture Series

Friday, August 7, 2015
1:00 – 1:50 PM
Marriott Wardman Park, Salon 2/3
Washington, D.C.



Mathematics, Mathematicians, Mathematics Education and Equity: Challenges and Opportunities

African Americans have a long and honorable tradition of doing Mathematics and Mathematics Education in the African American community. In this talk, from a perspective of excellence and equity, I will address the critical necessity of engagement in Mathematics Education, by all mathematicians and in particular, African American mathematicians. In so doing, I will describe some of the challenges and opportunities for undergraduates considering careers in the mathematical sciences.

Carlos Castillo-Chavez presents Lecture #4 at the Mathematical Association of America Centennial Lecture Series

Thursday, August 6, 2015
10:30 – 11:20 AM
Marriott Wardman Park, Salon 2/3
Washington, D.C.



The Role and Function of Mathematical Models in Interdisciplinary Mentorship through Research: Lessons from the World of Epidemics

We live in an interconnected world in which seeking solutions to societal problems no longer makes sense within the confines of single-discipline organized institutions. The nation’s ability to train 21st century scientists depends on systems of learning and thinking that are naturally embedded within interdisciplinary educational research/mentorship models. The use of multiple modes of doing science including the systematic use of computer experiments and data science (Big Data) must be at the heart of a modern 21st Century STEM education.

As Steve Strogatz observes “… cancer will not be cured by biologists working alone. Its solution will require a melding of both great discoveries of 1953 [Fermi-Pasta-Ulam introduction of the computer experiment and Watson & Creek discovery of the chemical structure of DNA]. Many cancers, perhaps most of them, involve the derangement of biochemical networks that choreograph the activity of thousands of genes and proteins. As Fermi and his colleagues taught us, a complex system like this can’t be understood merely by cataloging its parts and the rules governing their interactions. The nonlinear logic of cancer will be fathomed only through the collaborative efforts of molecular biologists — the heirs to Dr. Watson and Dr. Crick —and mathematicians who specialize in complex systems — the heirs to Fermi, Pasta and Ulam.”

In this lecture, I will highlight (1) the role that interdisciplinary research challenges has played in shaping the training and mentorship of students from high school to the postdoctoral level and (2) the impact that has had on my own research program. The discussion will be centered on questions that arise in the study of disease dynamics (Ebola and Influenza) across levels of organization and over multiple spatiotemporal scales.

The examples used are the result of the research carried out with a myriad of collaborators (undergraduate, graduate, postdoctoral students and colleagues) over the past three decades.

MLK 2014-2015 Visiting Professors & Scholars Farewell Luncheon
Friday, June 12, 2015
MIT Chipman Room (6-104)

Please contact Shauna Bush-Fenty at to RSVP

The Institute Community and Equity Officer (ICEO) is proud to host a farewell luncheon to celebrate the accomplishments of MIT’s seven 2014-15 Dr. Martin Luther, Jr. Visiting Professors and Scholars. The MLK Faculty Committee, partners/friends of the program, department heads and sponsors will be in attendance.

From awards and lectures to research and publications, this year’s seven visiting scholars have had quite an active year at the Institute.  See past posts on our News+Events page for a review of how they have enriched the intellectual life of MIT.

Certificates of distinction will be presented to:

Coco Fusco, Visiting Scholar, Comparative Media Studies/Writing

Malika Jeffries-EL, Visiting Associate Professor, Chemistry

Calestous Juma, Visiting Professor, Urban Studies and Planning

James Mickens, Visiting Scholar, Electrical Engineering and Computer Science

Hakeem Oluseyi, Visiting Professor, Physics

André D. Taylor, Visiting Associate Professor, Mechanical Engineering

Kimani C. Toussaint, Visiting Associate Professor, Mechanical Engineering

Malika Jeffries-EL presents “Designing Materials for High-Tech Applications” at the MIT MLK LUNCHEON SEMINAR.

Wednesday, April 15th  12 – 1:30 pm, location MIT Spofford Room (1-236)

Refreshments will be served before the seminar.
Please contact Shauna Bush-Fenty at to RSVP.


Designing Materials for High-Tech Applications

Since their discovery almost 40 years ago conjugated polymers have been of tremendous scientific and technological interest due to their semiconductor properties. As a result they are well suited for organic use in applications, such as solar cells and light emitting diodes. Unfortunately, there are several issues that have to be addressed before real-life commercialized products based on these materials can be developed. Since the properties of organic semiconductors can be readily modified through chemical synthesis, we have turned our attention towards the design and synthesis of novel building blocks. Our system of choice, polybenzobisazoles posses many exceptional electronic, optical and thermal properties and thus are ideally suited for diverse organic semiconducting applications. However, these materials have found limited utility due their lack of solubility in organic solvents and the harsh conditions required for their synthesis. Using theoretical models, our group designed a series tunable materials, our recent developments in this area will be presented.

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Third Annual Martin Luther King, Jr. – Inspired Art Contest and Performance

Win cash prizes up to $250.00 each!


SUBMISSION DEADLINEFriday, April 24, 2015 (11:59 pm EST)
Contest open to all MIT undergraduate and graduate students as well as Wellesley students cross-registered at MIT.
CONTEST/PERFORMANCE DATEThursday, April 30, 6:30-8:30 pm, Wong Auditorium
Dinner served and artwork displayed in the Ting Foyer (MIT E51). Performances begin at 7:15 pm in the Wong Auditorium.Are you inspired by Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr or other civil rights leaders such as Gandhi, Nelson Mandela, Cesar Chavez, Fannie Lou Hamer and Harvey Milk?

Express yourself by entering:

  • visual art (painting, photography, sculpture, video)
  • performance art (music, song, spoken word, dance, theater)
  • literary work (poetry, short story, speech, play)
Entries should be related to or inspired by any of the ideals of Dr. King and/or other civil rights leaders in the past or current human rights activists in the US and the World. These ideals include freedom, justice, peace, equality, civil rights, human rights and/or social justice.
Here is your chance to show off your creativity and artistic skills to the MIT community, have fun and win money!

Hakeem Oluseyi presents “Star Hacking: Finding the Next Earth and Getting There” at the MIT MLK LUNCHEON SEMINAR.

Wednesday, April 8th  12 – 1:30 pm, location: MIT Bush Room, 10-105

Refreshments will be served before the seminar.
Please contact Shauna Bush-Fenty at to RSVP.


Star Hacking: Finding the Next Earth and Getting There

The newest definition of the verb “hack” involves modifying something or using it other than its intended purpose in order to cleverly solve a tricky problem. It is now common in astrophysics to hack stars in order to further human understanding of the universe. We can use stars to discover new planets, to address the structure and evolution of the Galaxy, or even to develop new technologies. In this talk, I will describe my work “star hacking” at MIT this year as an MLK Faculty Fellow. Two main projects are being undertaken. The first is a collaboration with the Transiting Exoplanet Survey Satellite (TESS) science team to discover new Earth-like planets around nearby stars. TESS will also observe and discover a large number of variable stars, which may be used to elucidate Galactic structure and evolution. I will also describe a novel magnetic reconnection based, ion drive in-space propulsion technology that my group has invented, which was inspired by plasma acceleration at the Sun’s surface.

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Thursday, April 09, 2015  6:00 pm–7:30 pm
MIT Room 54-100, Green Building
Free and open to the public
For more information and to RSVP, please contact


Calestous Juma will moderate a Starr Forum panel on Science & Innovation Diplomacy, with welcoming remarks by Professor Fiona Murray, Faculty Director at the Martin Trust Center for MIT Entrepreneurship and the Legatum Center. The event is organized by the Center for International Studies, the Department of Urban Studies and Planning, and the MIT Dr. Martin Luther King Jr Visiting Professors and Scholars Program.Speakers: 

Phil Budden, Senior Lecturer at MIT Sloan, affiliated with the Martin Trust Center for MIT Entrepreneurship and the TIES Group.

Nina Fedoroff, The Evan Pugh Professor at Pennsylvania State University and former Science and Technology Advisor to the US Secretary of State.

Kenneth Oye, joint appointee at MIT in Political Science and Engineering Systems, with research and teaching on international relations, political economy and technology policy.


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