The assassination of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. in 1968 compelled black students at MIT to make demands for new initiatives towards making the Institute a more equitable community. Their efforts led to the founding of the Black Students’ Union (BSU) and to the establishment of various programs, some of which are still in effect. 

However, nearly half a century later the experiences of black students at MIT continue to reflect negative trends in higher education and in society at large. Student leaders from the MIT Black Students’ Union and the MIT Black Graduate Student Association recently presented recommendations to the Institute’s Academic Council to make MIT more welcoming and inclusive for all.


Students are working closely with senior administration; President Reif praises collaboration.

“MIT has had a long history of specifically addressing racial bias,” says Rasheed Auguste, co-chair of the BSU, chair of the BSU’s political action committee, and a junior in the Department of Nuclear Science and Engineering. “We have made great strides as a university, but now is the time to set the bar for the next 10 years.”

President Reif praised the students for their work and approach. “I am extremely proud of these student leaders, because they have modeled the best of MIT: Confronted with a difficult problem — a systems problem — they are approaching it with thoughtfulness, creativity, and a spirit of collaboration. Their recommendations highlight problems that our community must take seriously. I am hopeful that by working together, we can make MIT as welcoming and inclusive for all members of our community as we aspire for it to be.”

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A more inclusive MIT

Student leaders from the MIT Black Students’ Union and the MIT Black Graduate Student Association discuss issues surrounding diversity and how they suggest these issues be addressed


The history of Project Interphase at MIT

 

To the members of the MIT community:

Every November, I routinely send a letter seeking nominations for the Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., Leadership Award. The danger with any routine is that we cease to think about its meaning.

The MLK awards celebrate individuals or groups whose service to our community embodies the spirit of Dr. King’s work, and demonstrates exceptional integrity, leadership, creativity and positive outcomes.

In recent weeks, we have seen campuses across the country struggle to resolve profound internal tensions, in pursuit of a community that offers equity for everyone. At MIT, we are exploring those topics, too.

How we live and work together as a community matters a great deal to me. Along with the rest of MIT’s leadership, I want to make sure that everyone who earns a place at MIT finds a welcoming and supportive environment here – a sense of home.

In that spirit, I would like us now to seize our annual opportunity to celebrate those who lead us in this work, in keeping with Dr. King’s ideals.

I encourage you to consider nominating an individual or group for the Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Leadership Award. Nomination letters should be sent by December 21, 2015 to mlkaward2016@mit.edu.  You can find more detail below.

The awards will be presented on Wednesday, February 10, 2016, at MIT’s annual Martin Luther King, Jr. gathering.

I hope to see many of you there.

 

Sincerely,

L. Rafael Reif


The Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Leadership Award

The Award is given annually to students, alumni, staff, and faculty whose service embodies the spirit of Dr. King’s work.

Who is eligible?

MIT alumni/ae, undergraduate and graduate students, faculty, and staff
are eligible for nomination for this award. Both individuals and groups, including living groups and student and professional associations, may be considered.

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.

How do I submit a nomination?

If you wish to nominate a person or organization, please submit your letter to mlkaward2016@mit.edu by December 21, 2015.

Members of the MLK celebration planning committee will select the awardees, and recipients will be announced at the celebratory event on February 10.

Who serves on the MLK Celebration Planning Committee (MLK CPC)?

  • Acia Adams-Heath, Senior Staff Accountant, Sponsored Accounting
  • Edmund Bertschinger, Institute Community and Equity Officer
  • La-Tarri Canty, Director, Multicultural Programs, Student Activities Office
  • Shannan Clarke, Associate Director, Regional Programs East, MIT Alumni Association
  • Sharon Clarke, Senior HR consultant, Information Systems & Technology
  • Phillip Clay, Professor, Urban Studies and Planning
  • Sally Haslanger, MLK CPC Faculty Co-chair, Professor, Linguistics and Philosophy
  • Eboney Hearn, Assistant Dean, Diversity Initiatives, Office of the Dean for Graduate Education
  • William Kindred, MLK CPC Staff Co-chair, Administrative staff, Lincoln Lab
  • Helen Elaine Lee, Director of Women’s and Gender Studies, Comparative Media Studies/Writing
  • Deborah Liverman, Director, Career Services, MIT Global Education and Career Development
  • Paul Parravano, Co-director, Office of Government and Community Relations, Office of Executive Vice President & Treasurer
  • Zina Queen, Administrative Assistant II, Chemistry
  • Mareena Robinson G, Nuclear Science and Engineering
  • Tobie Weiner, Undergraduate Administrator, Political Science
  • John Wuestneck, Chaplain

When will the awards be presented?

The awards will be presented on Wednesday, February 10, 2016, at the 42nd anniversary celebration of MIT’s annual Martin Luther King, Jr. event and program.

Where should I turn with questions?

If you have questions, Ms. Tobie Weiner would be pleased to assist. She can be reached at iguanatw@mit.edu

 

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Ta-Nehisi Coates: National Book Award Winner

Ta-Nehisi Coates Between the World and Me (Spiegel & Grau/Penguin Random House) took home the 2015 National Book Award in Nonfiction.

Established in 1950, the National Book Award is an American literary prize administered by the National Book Foundation, a nonprofit organization, in the categories of fiction, nonfiction, poetry, and young people’s literature. Winners of the 66th National Book Award were announced at a lavish ceremony and benefit dinner at Cipriani’s in New York City on November 18. Winners in each category received a bronze sculpture and a purse of $10,000.

Coates’ other honors this year include the Kirkus Prize and the MacArthur “Genius” Grant. “Given the kind of year that Ta-Nehisi Coates has been having, it would be tough to consider his Between the World and Me anything less than a favorite to win the nonfiction prize,” says the National Book Foundation.

The 2015 Judges for nonfiction were Diane Ackerman, Patricia Hill Collins, John D’Agata, Paul Holdengräber, and Adrienne Mayor. All five writers appeared as National Book Awards Nonfiction finalists for the first time:

Ta-Nehisi Coates, Between the World and Me (Spiegel & Grau/Penguin Random House)
Sally Mann, Hold Still (Little, Brown/Hachette Book Group)
Sy Montgomery, The Soul of an Octopus (Atria/Simon & Schuster)
Carla Power, If the Oceans Were Ink: An Unlikely Friendship and a Journey to the Heart of the Quran (Henry Holt and Company)
Tracy K. Smith, Ordinary Light (Alfred A. Knopf)

Coates is now in the company of a pantheon of writers that includes: William Faulkner, Ralph Ellison, John Cheever, Bernard Malamud, Philip Roth, John Updike, Katherine Anne Porter, Norman Mailer, Elizabeth Bishop, Saul Bellow, Donald Barthelme, Flannery O’Connor, Adrienne Rich, Thomas Pynchon, Isaac Bashevis Singer, E. Annie Proulx, Alice Walker, and Charles Johnson.

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2015 NBA Non-Fiction Award Winner: Ta-Nehisi Coates (Full Speech)


 

ABOUT THE BOOK

In the one hundred fifty years since the end of the Civil War and the ratification of the Thirteenth Amendment, the story of race and America has remained a brutally simple one, written on flesh: It is the story of the black body, exploited to create the country’s foundational wealth, violently segregated to unite a nation after a civil war, and, today, still disproportionately threatened, locked up, and killed in our streets. What is it like to inhabit a black body and find a way to live within it? And how can we all—regardless of race—honestly reckon with our country’s fraught racial history and free ourselves from its burden? Between the World and Me is Ta-Nehisi Coates’s attempt to answer those questions, presented in the form of a letter to his adolescent son. Coates shares with his son—and readers—the story of his own awakening to the truth about history and race through a series of revelatory experiences: immersion in nationalist mythology as a child; engagement with history, poetry, and love at Howard University; travels to Civil War battlefields and the South Side of Chicago; a journey to France that reorients his sense of the world; and pilgrimages to the homes of mothers whose children’s lives have been taken as American plunder. Taken together, these stories map a winding path toward a kind of liberation—a journey from fear and confusion to a full and honest understanding of the world as it is. Masterfully woven from lyrical personal narrative, reimagined history, and fresh, emotionally charged reportage, Between the World and Me offers a powerful new framework for understanding America’s history and current crisis, and a transcendent vision for a way forward.

 

Chanda Hsu Prescod-Weinstein and colleagues have just published “Do dark matter axions form a condensate with long-range correlation?” The paper appears as an “Editors’ Suggestion” in the November 15 issue of Physical Review D (Vol. 92, Iss. 10).

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Abstract

Recently there has been significant interest in the claim that dark matter axions gravitationally thermalize and form a Bose-Einstein condensate with a cosmologically long-range correlation. This has potential consequences for galactic scale observations. Here we critically examine this claim. We point out that there is an essential difference between the thermalization and formation of a condensate due to repulsive interactions, which can indeed drive long-range order, and that due toattractive interactions, which can lead to localized Bose clumps (stars or solitons) that only exhibit short-range correlation. While the difference between repulsion and attraction is not present in the standard collisional Boltzmann equation, we argue that it is essential to the field theory dynamics, and we explain why the latter analysis is appropriate for a condensate. Since the axion is primarily governed by attractive interactions—gravitation and scalar-scalar contact interactions—we conclude that while a Bose-Einstein condensate is formed, the claim of long-range correlation is unjustified.

 

Baratunde Cola: 40 Under 40 Award

Baratunde Cola was among Atlanta Business Chronicle’s 40 Under 40 Awardees.

From the Atlanta Business Chronicle (6 Nov 2015):

About 400 people turned out for the annual awards event Thursday night in the Fox’s Egyptian Ballroom. A dusting of star power fell on the audience when honoree and Atlanta native Christoper “Ludacris” Bridges stepped to the stage, and Master of Ceremonies Kevin Scott snapped a selfie with the entertainer. Ludacris thanked his family, including his eight godmothers who guided him growing up in Atlanta, and the volunteers at his foundation in accepting his 40 Under 40 Award. Georgia Tech professor Baratunde Cola, who is researching carbon nanotube technology, joked that it was appropriate to have a college professor follow Ludacris.

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Ta-Nehisi Coates: Multiple honors

Ta-Nehisi Coates is having a stellar year after the publication of Between the World and Me (Spiegel & Grau/Penguin Random House, 2015).

Visit these links to read each section:
Kirkus Prize, Winner
MacArthur “Genius” Grant, Winner
National Book Award for Nonfiction, Finalist


Kirkus Prize

Coates was honored with the Kirkus Prize in nonfiction at a ceremony in Austin, TX on October 15, 2015. This year’s judges praised Between the World and Me as “a formidable literary achievement and a crucial, urgent, and nuanced contribution to a long-overdue national conversation.”

Now in its second year, the Kirkus Prize honors writers who have received a starred review from the literary journal Kirkus Reviews. It is one of the richest literary awards in the world, awarding $50,000 to the writers in each literary category — nonfiction, fiction and young readers’ literature. The panel is composed of nationally respected writers and highly regarded booksellers, librarians and Kirkus critics.

Coates’ fellow honorees were Hanya Yanagihara (fiction) and Pam Muñoz (young readers’ literature). Their works were selected from a pool of 1,032 eligible books.

 

2015 MacArthur “Genius” Grant

Coates received a 2015 MacArthur “Genius” Grant for his journalism, which interprets “complex and challenging issues around race and racism through the lens of personal experience and nuanced historical analysis.”

The MacArthur Fellows Program awards unrestricted fellowships to talented individuals who have shown extraordinary originality and dedication in their creative pursuits and a marked capacity for self-direction. The fellows are nominated then selected on three criteria: exceptional creativity, promise for important future advances based on a track record of significant accomplishment, and potential for the fellowship to facilitate subsequent creative work.

Coates joins 24 other MacArthur Fellows this year, among them MIT economist Heidi Williams. The fellows were chosen for “shedding light and making progress on critical issues, pushing the boundaries of their fields, and improving our world in imaginative, unexpected ways,” according to MacArthur President Julia Stasch. “Their work, their commitment, and their creativity inspire us all.”

Coates-tweet

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MacArthur Foundation Video

 

 

National Book Award for Nonfiction

On October 14, 2015, the National Book Foundation announced Coates’ Between the World and Me (Spiegel & Grau/Penguin Random House) as one of five finalists for the 2015 National Book Award for Nonfiction by the National Book Foundation.

Established in 1950, the National Book Award is an American literary prize administered by the National Book Foundation, a nonprofit organization, in the categories of fiction, nonfiction, poetry, and young people’s literature. Winners in each category will be announced at the National Book Awards Ceremony and Benefit Dinner in New York City on November 18, 2015.

The 2015 Judges for nonfiction are Diane Ackerman, Patricia Hill Collins, John D’Agata, Paul Holdengräber, and Adrienne Mayor. All five writers appeared as National Book Awards Nonfiction finalists for the first time:

Ta-Nehisi Coates, Between the World and Me (Spiegel & Grau/Penguin Random House)
Sally Mann, Hold Still (Little, Brown/Hachette Book Group)
Sy Montgomery, The Soul of an Octopus (Atria/Simon & Schuster)
Carla Power, If the Oceans Were Ink: An Unlikely Friendship and a Journey to the Heart of the Quran (Henry Holt and Company)
Tracy K. Smith, Ordinary Light (Alfred A. Knopf)


 

ABOUT THE BOOK

In the one hundred fifty years since the end of the Civil War and the ratification of the Thirteenth Amendment, the story of race and America has remained a brutally simple one, written on flesh: It is the story of the black body, exploited to create the country’s foundational wealth, violently segregated to unite a nation after a civil war, and, today, still disproportionately threatened, locked up, and killed in our streets. What is it like to inhabit a black body and find a way to live within it? And how can we all—regardless of race—honestly reckon with our country’s fraught racial history and free ourselves from its burden? Between the World and Me is Ta-Nehisi Coates’s attempt to answer those questions, presented in the form of a letter to his adolescent son. Coates shares with his son—and readers—the story of his own awakening to the truth about history and race through a series of revelatory experiences: immersion in nationalist mythology as a child; engagement with history, poetry, and love at Howard University; travels to Civil War battlefields and the South Side of Chicago; a journey to France that reorients his sense of the world; and pilgrimages to the homes of mothers whose children’s lives have been taken as American plunder. Taken together, these stories map a winding path toward a kind of liberation—a journey from fear and confusion to a full and honest understanding of the world as it is. Masterfully woven from lyrical personal narrative, reimagined history, and fresh, emotionally charged reportage, Between the World and Me offers a powerful new framework for understanding America’s history and current crisis, and a transcendent vision for a way forward.

 

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.”

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Baratunde Cola and his research team use nanometer-scale components to demonstrate the first optical rectenna, a device that combines the functions of an antenna and a rectifier diode to convert light directly into DC current.

Based on multiwall carbon nanotubes and tiny rectifiers fabricated onto them, the optical rectennas could provide a new technology for photodetectors that would operate without the need for cooling, energy harvesters that would convert waste heat to electricity – and ultimately for a new way to efficiently capture solar energy.

“We could ultimately make solar cells that are twice as efficient at a cost that is ten times lower, and that is to me an opportunity to change the world in a very big way” said Dr. Cola. “As a robust, high-temperature detector, these rectennas could be a completely disruptive technology if we can get to one percent efficiency. If we can get to higher efficiencies, we could apply it to energy conversion technologies and solar energy capture.”

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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.

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Chanda Prescod-Weinstein stands with Ahmed

Chanda Prescod-Weinstein offers words of encouragement to 14-year-old budding engineer Ahmed Mohamed. The Muslim ninth-grader has been in the media spotlight since being arrested on September 14, 2015 at MacArthur High School in Irving, Texas for bringing in a homemade clock. Ahmed says he’d built the device in the hopes of impressing his teachers. He was eventually arrested by police on suspicions of attempts to make a bomb and later released.

The arrest of has generated massive support for Ahmed, including hashtags like #IStandWithAhmed and #HelpAhmedMake and an invitation to the White House from President Obama.

“I just want to say, you are my ideal student,” said Dr. Prescod-Weinstein in an interview with MSNBC’s Chris Hayes. “A creative, independent thinker like you is the kind of person who should be becoming a physicist. As a theoretical physicist, I would love it if you took an interest in the mathematical side, although you’re clearly very adept with your hands and at building things.”

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