Letter from the Dean
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Thank you to everyone who joined us this past October for the dedication of the Simons Building, the newly renovated home for the Department of Mathematics.
It was a wonderful celebration, and we are so grateful to our group of loyal donors who made the project possible. We thank each and every one of you for supporting the vital, continuing importance of mathematics at MIT. If you haven’t yet seen the Simons Building, I urge you to stop by and take a look. You can also read more about the symposium and dedication in this issue of Science@MIT on page 20.
In other news, MIT Alumna Anita Killian, Senior Vice President and Partner at Wellington Management Company, LLP, has made a generous donation in support of women in the Department of Earth, Atmospheric and Planetary Sciences. You can read about her career path and encouragement of women in science on page 11.
One of the many remarkable women in the School of Science is Professor Sara Seager. On page 3, Professor Seager, who has a joint appointment in Physics and EAPS, talks about the advances she and her team have made in finding planets beyond our solar system that have the right atmosphere for supporting life as we know it here on Earth. Seager has studied a handful of these exoplanets (extra-solar planets) and their atmospheres, but now she will get a huge boost with NASA’s new 2-year mission to accumulate data with the James Webb Space Telescope, which can directly image exoplanets by blocking the light of their host stars. Read Professor Seager’s fascinating article to find out more.
Julia Leonard is a graduate student working in the Department of Brain and Cognitive Sciences’ Early Cognition Laboratory with Professors Laura Schulz and John Gabrieli. Using behavioral and neuroimaging methods, Leonard tries to uncover what factors contribute to children’s cognitive and emotional development with the ultimate goal of creating interventions that foster resilience to environmental factors, such as stress and socioeconomic status.
While on sabbatical, my colleague in the Math Department, Professor Hung Cheng, started researching and writing a historical novel on the Sino-Japanese War in the mid-1930s. We celebrated its publication with an event earlier this September.
Our scientists are united by a natural curiosity about fundamental, yet practical, life questions. These kinds of questions are at the heart of discovery science, the first of five areas that MIT has identified as priorities in our Campaign for a Better World. I hope these, and the many other stories we share with you between issues of Science@MIT, inspire you to help us in the school’s mission to transform our world through fundamental scientific research.