MIT, MIT News, News | September 8, 2016
Twelve School of Science Faculty Appointed to Career Development Professorships
The School of Science announced that 12 of its faculty members have been appointed to career development professorships.
The new appointments are:
Kristin Bergmann, Victor P. Starr Career Development Assistant Professor
Kristin Bergmann works to reconstruct the record of environmental change from observations of sedimentary rocks from latest Precambrian to Ordovician time. To date her work has focused on marine carbonate sedimentary rocks and fossils from sites that include locations in United States, Oman, and Svalbard. She analyzes these rocks using a variety of tools in order to better understand how the chemistry and climate of the oceans and atmosphere affected the evolution of complex life, from unicellular microbial communities to multicellular animal communities. Her research has multiple important components including placing constraints on the environmental change that provides a backdrop for early evolution, and quantifying the range of climatic conditions the Earth system is capable of.
Ibrahim Cissé, Class of 1922 Career Development Assistant Professor
Ibrahim Cissé uses physical techniques to study weak or transient biological interactions, and collective behaviors that emerge inside living cells. He develops and employs highly sensitive experimental techniques capable of detecting the behaviors of single biological molecules in vivo, with quantitative live cell and super-resolution imaging. He focuses on uncovering the function of transient interactions in subcellular organizations and dynamics, and in gene expression regulation directly in living cells.
Gregory Fournier, Cecil and Ida Green Career Development Assistant Professor
Gregory Fournier’s research integrates phylogenetics and horizontal gene transfer (HGT) with studies of microbial evolution, geochemistry, and planetary history. Specific areas of his research include: HGT- and genome-based calibration of molecular clock models of microbial evolution; ancestral reconstruction of ancient proteins and metabolisms; the biogeochemical impact of HGT and microbial metabolism evolution; and the role of partial HGT in the complex ancestry of organismal lineages.
Liang Fu, Lawrence C. (1944) & Sarah W. Biedenharn Assistant Professor
Liang Fu is interested in novel topological phases of matter and their experimental realizations. He works on the theory of topological insulators and topological superconductors, with a focus on predicting and proposing their material realizations and experimental signatures. He is also interested in potential applications of topological materials, ranging from tunable electronics and spintronics, to quantum computation.
Mark Harnett, Frederick A. (1971) and Carole J. Middleton Career Development Assistant Professor of Neuroscience
Mark Harnett studies how the biophysical features of individual neurons, including ion channels, receptors, and membrane electrical properties, endow neural circuits with the ability to process information and perform the complex computations that underlie behavior. Harnett’s research addresses the hypothesis that the brain’s computational power arises from these subcellular building blocks. He focuses in particular on sensory processing and spatial navigation, with the goal of understanding the mechanisms underlying these brain functions.
Myriam Heiman, Latham Family Career Development Assistant Professor
Myriam Heiman aims to understand how neuronal identity is established and maintained, and how the molecular identity of a neuron determines its susceptibility to disease. She uses biochemical, genetic, and molecular biological tools, including mouse models of neurodegenerative diseases and a novel methodology termed Translating Ribosome Affinity Purification (TRAP) that allows molecular profiling of individual types of neurons from within the mammalian brain.
Yen-Jie Lee, Class of 1958 Career Development Assistant Professor
Yen-Jie Lee works in the field of proton‐proton and heavy ion physics, primarily studying quark‐gluon plasma (QGP), a hot and dense matter created in the collisions of heavy nuclei predicted by lattice Quantum Chromodynamics (QCD) calculations. His research aims to move beyond discovery‐era qualitative measurements of QGP and to understand QCD matter in extreme conditions, such as those that existed in the first microseconds of the universe and that are thought to exist at the core of some neutron stars.
Ankur Moitra, Rockwell International Career Development Associate Professor of Mathematics
Ankur Moitra is interested in algorithms and their connections with the related areas of machine learning, statistics, operations research, and mathematics. His research spans a diverse set of topics, from statistical inference to optimization and approximation to codes and combinatorics. He has made important contributions in graph algorithms and learning theory, for example developing an efficient algorithm for estimating the defining parameters of a distribution that is a mixture of any constant number of Gaussian distributions.
Matthew Shoulders, Whitehead Career Development Assistant Professor
Matthew Shoulders studies protein homeostasis and folding, both of which are inextricably linked to disease states such as Alzheimer’s, diabetes, cystic fibrosis, and many types of cancer. Shoulders focuses on developing and applying a chemical biology and small molecule-derived toolbox to investigate and manipulate the cell’s protein folding network. He uses a multidisciplinary approach to understand how the cell remodels itself to address challenges to protein homeostasis, to elucidate the pathophysiology of protein folding-related diseases with poorly defined etiologies, and to target the biological processes he uncovers for the development of first-in-class small molecule drugs.
Tracy Slatyer, Jerrold R. Zacharias Career Development Assistant Professor of Physics
Tracy Slatyer is a theoretical physicist who works on particle physics, cosmology, and astrophysics. Her research interests are motivated by key particle physics questions, such as the search for new particles and forces and a microscopic description of dark matter. Slatyer has been a leader in studying models of dark matter with new interactions, the potential impact of dark matter annihilation or decay on the early history of the cosmos, and separating potential dark matter signals from novel astrophysics using gamma-ray data. She won the 2014 Rossi Prize of the American Astronomical Society for her discovery of the giant Galactic gamma-ray structures known as Fermi Bubbles.
Yogesh Surendranath, Paul M. Cook Career Development Assistant Professor
Yogesh Surendranath works to develop new methods for investigating and manipulating chemical reactions occurring at solid-liquid interfaces. In particular, his group aims to use electricity to rearrange chemical bonds by controlling interfacial reactivity at the molecular level. The chemistry of these interfaces is at the heart of nearly all contemporary challenges in renewable energy storage and utilization in a wide variety of devices ranging from batteries, to fuel cells, to electrolyzers; therefore, addressing these challenges is essential for enabling a low-carbon energy future.
Lindley Winslow, Jerrold R. Zacharias Career Development Assistant Professor of Physics
Lindley Winslow is an experimental nuclear physicist whose primary focus is on neutrinoless double-beta decay. Neutrinoless double-beta decay is an extremely rare nuclear process which, if it is ever observed, would show that the neutrino is its own antiparticle, a Majorana particle. A Majorana neutrino would have profound consequences to particle physics and cosmology, among them an explanation of the universe’s matter-antimatter symmetry. Winslow takes part in two projects that search for double-beta decay at CUORE (Cryogenic Underground Observatory for Rare Events) and KamLAND-Zen, and develops new, more sensitive double-beta decay detectors.