Gwen Ifill, a groundbreaking journalist who covered the White House, Congress, and national campaigns during three decades for The Washington Post, The New York Times, NBC, and, most prominently, PBS, died on Monday, November 14 at a hospice in Washington. She was 61. The cause was complications of uterine cancer, her brother Roberto said.

Journalist Gwen Ifill, who delivered the keynote speech at the annual Martin Luther King Jr. breakfast on Feb. 3, shares conversation with Ayanna Samuels, a graduate student in aerospace engineering and the Technology and Policy Program.  Photo: Donna Coveney/Tech Talk, 2005

Journalist Gwen Ifill at the annual MLK breakfast on Feb. 3, 2005, sharing conversation with Ayanna Samuels, an MIT graduate student in aerospace engineering and the Technology and Policy Program. Photo: Donna Coveney/Tech Talk, 2005

An Institute alum remembers Ifill as “a good friend to many of us at MIT in the 70’s while she was at Simmons College”. In 2005, she was the keynote for MIT’s 31st Annual Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Celebration. The celebration’s theme of “Justice and Equality for All: America’s Moral Dilemma” continues to resonate over a decade later in the volatile climate after recent national elections.

In a distinguished career, Ms. Ifill was in the forefront of a journalism vanguard as a black woman in a field dominated by white men. She achieved her highest visibility most recently, as the moderator and managing editor of the public-affairs program “Washington Week” on PBS and the co-anchor and co-managing editor, with Judy Woodruff, of “PBS NewsHour,” competing with the major broadcast and cable networks for the nightly news viewership.

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Mostly common projects are about preschool crafts.

Nomination deadline EXTENDED: 11:59 pm on Monday, December 5, 2016  FRIDAY, DECEMBER 9, 2016

The MLK Jr. Leadership Awards are given annually to students, alumni, staff, groups, and faculty who embody the spirit of Dr. King’s work. “Service to the community” is defined in the broadest sense and includes academic, research, religious, and secular contributions in which integrity, leadership, creativity, and positive outcome are apparent.

Recipients will receive their awards at the MIT MLK Celebration Awards Dinner on February 15 and acknowledged at the MLK Celebration Luncheon on February 16. See the list of previous MLK Leadership Award Recipients.

If you wish to nominate a person or organization, please apply at the Institute Equity & Community Office website by 11:59 pm on Monday, December 5, 2016.

Questions or comments? Contact Tobie Weiner (email or phone x3-3649) or Acia Adams-Heath (email or phone 3-2792).


MLK Celebration Planning Committee (MLK CPC):
  • Acia Adams-Heath, Senior Staff Accountant, Sponsored Accounting
  • Edmund Bertschinger, Institute Community and Equity Officer
  • Raul F. Boquin, ’17 Mathematics major
  • La-Tarri Canty, Director, Multicultural Programs, Student Activities Office
  • Sharon Clarke, Senior HR consultant, Information Systems & Technology
  • Jerome Friedman, Institute Professor Emeritus
  • Tiera Guinn, ’17 Aeronautics and Astronautics
  • Sally Haslanger, Professor, Linguistics and Philosophy
  • Alyce Johnson, Manage of Staff Diversity and Inclusion, Human Resources Department
  • William Kindred, MLK CPC Staff Co-chair, Administrative staff, Lincoln Lab
  • Heather Konar, Communications Officer, Office of the Dean for Graduate Education
  • Deborah Liverman, Director, Career Services, MIT Global Education and Career Development
  • Paul Parravano, Co-director, Office of Government and Community Relations, Office of EVPT
  • Zina Queen,  MLK CPC Staff Co-Chair, Administrative Assistant II,  Political Science
  • Mareena R. Snowden, G Nuclear Science and Engineering
  • Tobie Weiner, Undergraduate Administrator, Political Science

MIT-Reif-logo
To the members of the MIT community,
It is hard to think of a moment when our nation more urgently needed the example of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.
Even at the distance of decades, we can take inspiration from his character and his conduct – his dignity, integrity, selflessness and moral vision, and his relentless focus on what really matters, in the quest for a more just, peaceful and unified society.
So I write now with two purposes.
Please nominate the leaders who lift us up!
First, I ask that we pause, here in our own time and place, to contemplate the example of those members of our community who, in the spirit of Dr. King, lift us up and bring us together.  I urge you to nominate those whose inspiration you find meaningful – students, faculty, staff or alumni, pursuing their work as individuals or as groups – to receive the annual Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Leadership Award.
Please submit your nomination by December 5 here.  You can find more details at the foot of this letter. We will honor the winners as part of our annual MLK program, to be held on February 16, 2017.
Joining forces, making progress

Second, I write to remind us all that – building on decades of previous progress – many people across MIT are engaged in an intense, ongoing effort to help our own community grow more just, peaceful and unified.
No one has given more thought or heart to this work than the outstanding student leaders who have led our campus dialogue over the last year, and the devoted staff who work every day to help all our students feel at home at MIT. Dedicated alumni groups like Black Alumni of MIT (BAMIT) are also playing a crucial role, along with Academic Council’s Working Group on Community and Inclusion and ICEO Ed Bertschinger.
This summer, I asked Vice President Kirk Kolenbrander to join forces with all those engaged in this work to focus us on concrete ways we can make our community stronger, define how we at MIT might start to help society address issues around bias and violence, and begin to implement a plan of action.
This month – both at the November 16 faculty meeting, and through a letter in The Tech – Kirk will offer an update on their shared progress and outline their further aspirations.
I hope you will join me in thanking all those involved for their leadership in this difficult and deeply important work.
Sincerely,
L. Rafael Reif

 

Sekazi Mtingwa et. al. awarded APS Prize

Sekazi Mtingwa and his colleagues Dr. James Bjorken and Dr. Anton Piwinski have been awarded the 2017 Robert R. Wilson Prize for Achievement in the Physics of Particle Accelerators by the American Physical Society (APS). The prize recognizes and encourages outstanding achievement in the physics of particle accelerators. It consists of $7,500 split between the recipients, a certificate, an allowance for travel, and a registration waiver to attend the presentation meeting.

Dr. Mtingwa is currently Principal Partner at Triangle Science, Education & Economic Development, LLC, providing a variety of consulting services in science, education, and economic development. He is the first African American to receive a top Divisional Research Prize from the APS.

Dr. Mtingwa is invited to give a talk at the APS April Meeting, held in Washington, DC, January 28-31, 2017. The talk is to address “the detailed, theoretical description of intrabeam scattering, which has empowered major discoveries in a broad range of disciplines by a wide variety of accelerators, including hadron colliders, damping rings/linear colliders and low emittance synchrotron light sources.”

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Terrence Blackman has been appointed as a Member at Large to the American Mathematical Society (AMS) Committee on Science Policy for a term of three years.

Founded in 1888, the AMS aims to further the interests of mathematical research, scholarship and education, serving the national and international community through publications, meetings, advocacy and other programs.

The Committee on Science Policy, one of five AMS policy committees, discusses and acts on questions of policy as it affects the discipline. Committee goals are to:

  1. Serve as a forum for dialogue about matters of science policy involving representatives of the AMS, government and quasi-government officials and other interested parties.
  2. Be responsible for the selection of those elements of AMS meeting programs, such as lectures and panel discussions, which bear directly on such policy questions as are within the purview of the Committee.
  3. Provide occasional advice to the Society on matters of broad scientific policy.
  4. As a committee, and individually upon request, to interact with Federal agencies and policymakers.
  5. Provide occasional advice about ways in which the Society can work favorably with other organizations on matters of science policy.
  6. Conduct periodic reviews and appraisals of Society activities in areas of science policy (i.e., policy forums; the Society’s relations with international societies and the international community; scientific policies promoted by the Society, and strategies used to implement them; and the ways in which the Society collaborates with other organizations on matters of science policy
  7. Prepare an annual report on the Committee’s activities and goals for the AMS Council and for possible publication in the Notices.

Dr. Blackman is currently Associate Professor and Chair of the Department of Mathematics at Medgar Evers College CUNY. His AMS committee term is effective February 1, 2017 through January 31, 2020.

READ MORE on Blackman’s longtime engagement with the AMS.


 

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Sylvester Gates, Jr. directs the Summer Student Theoretical Physics Research Session (SSTPRS) at the University of Maryland. The annual program offers a summerlong experience for students interested in conducting scientific research.

The SSTPRS traces its beginnings back to 1999, when the idea came to S. James Gates Jr., a Distinguished University Professor and Regents Professor of Physics at UMD known for his pioneering work in supersymmetry and supergravity, areas closely related to string theory.

The goal of the program is not to teach students physics, but rather to allow students to explore areas of theoretical physics and publish refereed journal articles on their research findings. However, as Gates points out, becoming a published author is not guaranteed.

“We engage in real research, so it has all the uncertainty of real research,” said Gates.

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More than 600 attend event emphasizing commitment to “stand together against injustice, intolerance, and hatred.”

Peter Dizikes | MIT News Office
July 14, 2016

More than 600 members of the MIT community met on Wednesday in the Institute’s latest public discussion of diversity, tolerance, and inclusion — matters made all the more salient by the series of high-profile gun killings in the U.S. this month.

The event featured public remarks by a few MIT speakers, while devoting most of its time to private discussions among audience members. Randomly assigned to tables of 10, the participants engaged in extended conversations about values, sources of intolerance, and ways to help MIT sustain an inclusive community during a time of social tension.

The U.S. has been roiled most recently by two incidents in which black men were killed by police officers this month, followed by the killing of five police officers who were serving at a demonstration in Dallas.

“I urge us not to give in to the darkness, the darkness of doubt and fear,” said DiOnetta Jones Crayton, associate dean for undergraduate education and director of the Office of Minority Education.

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Letter from President Reif regarding recent violent tragedies in the United States

MIT News Office
July 10, 2016

The following email was sent to the MIT community by President L. Rafael Reif.

To the members of the MIT community,

Summer scatters us. As our country again suffers incomprehensible tragedy and violence — in Minnesota, Louisiana, Texas and more — I would like to draw us together, across oceans, borders and time zones, so we can mourn together and reflect on how we can respond.

What are we to do?

But I know I am not alone in believing that caring for each other is a fraction of what the moment requires. The terrible images on the news overwhelm us all with pain, fear, outrage and perhaps worst of all, a sense of helplessness. That these events are unfolding in such an overheated political season only magnifies the concern.

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Dr. Jacquelyn Taylor and her colleagues at Yale have written the following op-ed for The Huffington Post (12 July 2016) addressing the ongoing murders of black men by police.

The Power To Serve, The Imperative To Protect: A Letter To Police From Nurses

We know that police put themselves in harm’s way when they don the badge, and some have lain down their lives in the service of protecting society; there is no greater gift.  We saw this when police in Dallas ran toward the shooting and pushed protesters out of the path of gunfire.  As nurses, we see their courage and care when the escort the injured and sick into our emergency rooms.  Yet there is no denying that we are in the midst of a public health crisis that demands a response, including from nurses. Black men are being slain. In the first six months of 2016 alone, nearly 500 people, mostly men of color, have been fatally shot by police. The violence of the killings, now often caught on mobile video cams, shock human decency; they spawn reactive and brutal killings by people who feel hopeless and without recourse.

The public has rated nursing as the most trusted profession year after year, because the public knows that nurses care for the health of all people, regardless of sex, race, age, disease, or other characteristics. Nurses are ethical in their delivery of service, caring for people even when this may imperil our own lives, such as nurses who care for people with Ebola and other communicable diseases.  A public health nursing intervention focused on this epidemic would be for police to be trained to approach black men as nurses approach their patients – as people, not black or white people, young or old, rich or poor.  Most important, police must see black men not as people whom we need to protect ourselves from, but as people who need our care, our protection, our service.

We understand that the police profession involves danger, but as nurses, and nurses of color, we can no longer be silent witnesses to this epidemic. We call upon Congress and state legislatures to provide the funding for training so that all in the law enforcement profession can be equipped to protect and serve all the public equitably and fairly.  Police are in a privileged position of power, just as nurses are, at patients’ bedsides. As one group of professionals dedicated to serving to another, we urge police to use their power to promote equal protection and not more inequality.

Everol Ennis, Advanced Practice Registered Nurse, MSN, Yale School of Nursing ‘09
Jacquelyn Taylor, Associate Professor of Nursing, Assistant Dean for Diversity, Yale School of Nursing
Ann Kurth, Dean, Yale School of Nursing
Mark Lazenby, Associate Professor of Nursing, Yale School of Nursing, and author of the forthcoming Caring Matters Most (Oxford University Press)

 

Ta-Nehisi Coates has scripted Marvel Comics’ Black Panther. Issue #3 of 11 was released on June 30, 2016, with illustrations by artist Brian Stelfreeze.

Black Panther follows an African king named T’Challa with superhuman strength and intellect, who presides over the fictional nation of Wakanda. Black Panther was first launched in 1966, just a few months before the Black Panther political party came on the scene (Coates himself is the son of Paul Coates, a former member of the Black Panther Party). But over the years, T’Challa has pretty much played second fiddle to the likes of Daredevil and Captain America. And his storylines often revolve around divided loyalties.

In Issue #3, the Midnight Angels continue the liberation of Wakanda with extreme prejudice, and T’Challa’s indecisions could cost him more than just the throne. The issue includes a few introductory words on writers Toni Morrison, Joel Dias-Porter, Eugene Redmond, and Henry Dumas. In a behind-the-scenes blog for The Atlantic, Coates writes about being stunned by Henry Dumas’ poem “Rootsong” for its use of “black myth to construct a narrative of the diaspora before and after colonialism and enslavement.”

READ COATES’ BEHIND-THE-SCENES IN THE ATLANTIC


Video preview of Black Panther Issue #3

 

Dr. Jacquelyn Taylor is lead author of a recent study published in npj Genomic Medicine, a Nature Publication journal, titled “Lead toxicity and genetics in Flint, MI.” Dr. Taylor and co-authors Michelle Wright and David Housman highlight the interaction of genetics and lead toxicity, specifically among children of African descent, in relation to the Flint, MI lead poisoning crisis. A call to immediate action, the article urges precision genetic-testing as a more effective approach than the current methods being used to assess lead levels in the children exposed to lead-contaminated drinking water in Flint, MI.

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In May 2016, npj Genomic Medicine published another article by the same authors titled “A perspective for sequencing familial hypercholesterolaemia in African Americans.” The paper recommends evaluating genetic variation within minority populations to identify factors that contribute to disparities in cardiovascular health.

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