The School of Engineering is welcoming 11 new faculty members to its departments, institutes, labs, and centers. With research and teaching activities ranging from the development of novel microscopy techniques to intelligent systems and mixed-autonomy mobility, they are poised to make significant contributions in new directions across the school and to a wide range of research efforts around the Institute.
“I am pleased to welcome our outstanding new faculty,” says Anantha Chandrakasan, dean of the School of Engineering. “Their contributions as educators, researchers, and collaborators will enhance the engineering community and strengthen our global impact.”
Pulkit Agrawal will join the Department of Electrical Engineering and Computer Science as an assistant professor in July. Agrawal earned a BS in electrical engineering from the Indian Institute of Technology, Kanpur, and was awarded the Director’s Gold Medal. He earned a PhD in computer science from the University of California at Berkeley. A co-founder of SafelyYou, Inc., Agrawal researches topics spanning robotics, deep learning, computer vision, and computational neuroscience. His work has appeared multiple times in MIT Technology Review, Quanta, New Scientist, the New York Post, and other outlets. He is a recipient of the Signatures Fellow Award, a Fulbright science and technology award, the Goldman Sachs Global Leadership Award, OPJEMS, the Sridhar Memorial Prize, and IIT Kanpur’s academic excellence awards, among others. Agrawal also holds a “sangeet prabhakar” (the equivalent of bachelor’s degree in Indian classical music) and occasionally performs in music concerts.
Jacob Andreas will join the Department of Electrical Engineering and Computer Science as an assistant professor in July. Andreas received a BS from Columbia University and an MPhil from the University of Cambridge, where he studied as a Churchill Scholar. He earned his PhD from the University of California at Berkeley, where he was a member of the Berkeley Natural Language Processing Group and the Berkeley Artificial Intelligence Research Lab. His work is focused on using language as a scaffold for more efficient learning and as a probe for understanding model behavior. His received the 2016 Annual Conference of the North American Chapter of the Association for Computational Linguistics Best Paper Award and the 2017 International Conference on Machine Learning Honorable Mention. He has been an NSF Graduate Fellow, a Huawei-Berkeley AI Fellow, and a Facebook Fellow.
Manya Ghobadi joined the Department of Electrical Engineering and Computer Science as an assistant professor in October. Previously, she was a researcher at the Microsoft Research Mobility and Networking group. Prior to Microsoft, she was a software engineer at Google. Ghobadi received her PhD in computer science at the University of Toronto and her BEng in computer engineering at the Sharif University of Technology. A computer systems researcher with a networking focus, she has worked on a broad set of topics, including data-center networking, optical networks, transport protocols, network measurement, and hardware-software co-design. Many of the technologies she has helped develop are part of real-world systems at Microsoft and Google. She was recognized as an N2women Rising Star in networking and communications in 2017. Her work has won the best dataset award, Google research excellent-paper award (twice), and the ACM Internet Measurement Conference best-paper award.
Ashwin Gopinath joins the Department of Mechanical Engineering as an assistant professor this month. He received his PhD in electrical engineering from Boston University in 2010 and was awarded the outstanding doctoral thesis award by his department. He is presently a research scientist in the Department of Bioengineering at the California Institute of Technology. His main research is at the intersection of DNA nanotechnology, micro-fabrication, synthetic biology, optical physics, and materials science. His main research is on DNA origami and design, up to wafer-scale self-assembly with molecular-scale control, and possibilities for microfabricated devices. His present application areas involve quantum optics, nanophotonics, single molecule biophysics, and molecular diagnostics. In 2017, he received the Robert Dirks Molecular Programming Prize for his early career contributions to combining DNA nanotechnology and traditional semiconductor nanofabrication.
Richard Linares joined the Department of Aeronautics and Astronautics as an assistant professor last July. Before joining MIT, he was an assistant professor at the University of Minnesota’s aerospace engineering and mechanics department. Linares received his BS, MS, and PhD degrees in aerospace engineering from the State University of New York at Buffalo. He was a Director’s Postdoctoral Fellow at Los Alamos National Laboratory and also held a postdoc appointment at the United States Naval Observatory. His research areas are astrodynamics, estimation and controls, satellite guidance and navigation, space situational awareness, and space-traffic management.
Kevin O’Brien joined the Department of Electrical Engineering and Computer Science as an assistant professor last July. He earned a BS in physics from Purdue University and a PhD in physics from the University of California at Berkeley. He joined the Quantum Nanoelectrics Lab (Siddiqi Group) at UC Berkeley as a postdoc to lead development of multiqubit quantum processors. His work has appeared in top journals including Science, Nature Materials, and Nature Communications, among others. He has been an NSF Graduate Fellow. His research bridges nonlinear optics, metamaterials, and quantum engineering.
Negar Reiskarimian will join the Department of Electrical Engineering and Computer Science as an assistant professor in July. She received both a BS and MS degree in electrical engineering from Sharif University of Technology in Iran and is currently a PhD candidate in electrical engineering at Columbia University. She has published in top-tier IEEE IC-related journals and conferences, as well as broader-interest high-impact journals in the Nature family. Her research has been widely covered in the press and featured in IEEE Spectrum, Gizmodo, and EE Times, among others. She is the recipient of numerous awards and fellowships, including Forbes’ “30 under 30,” a Paul Baran Young Scholar award, a Qualcomm Innovation Fellowship, and multiple IEEE awards and fellowships.
Frances M. Ross joined the Department of Materials Science and Engineering as a full professor in December. Previously she was a member of the nanoscale materials analysis department at IBM’s Thomas J. Watson Research Center, where she performed research on nanostructures using transmission electron microscopes (TEM) that allow researchers to see, in real time, how nanostructures form, and then to see how the growth process is affected by changes in temperature, environment, and other variables. Understanding materials at such a basic level has remarkable implications for many applications including semiconductors, energy storage, and more. Ross earned her BA and PhD at Cambridge University and was a postdoc at AT&T Bell Labs. She has been recognized with many awards and honors, including election to fellow in the American Physical Society, the Materials Research Society, the American Association for the Advancement of Science, the Microscopy Society of America, the American Vacuum Society, and the Royal Microscopical Society. She holds the Ellen Swallow Richards Chair.
Suvrit Sra joins the Department of Electrical Engineering and Computer Science and the Institute for Data, Systems and Society as an assistant professor this month. He was a principal research scientist in the Laboratory for Information and Decision Systems (LIDS) at MIT. He obtained his PhD in computer science from the University of Texas at Austin in 2007. Before joining LIDS, he was a senior research scientist at the Max Planck Institute for Intelligent Systems in Tübingen, Germany. He has also held visiting faculty positions at UC Berkeley and Carnegie Mellon during 2013–14. His research bridges areas such as optimization, matrix theory, geometry, and probability with machine learning. More broadly, he is interested in data-driven questions within engineering, science, and health care. His work has won several awards at machine learning venues, as well as the 2011 SIAM Outstanding Paper Award. He founded the OPT Optimization for Machine Learning series of workshops at the Neural Information Processing Systems conference, which he has co-chaired since 2008; he has also edited a popular book with the same title (MIT Press, 2011).
Giovanni Traverso will join the Department of Mechanical Engineering as an assistant professor in July. He received his PhD in medical sciences from Johns Hopkins University in 2010. He subsequently completed medical school at Cambridge University, an internal medicine residency at the Brigham and Women’s Hospital (BWH), and his gastroenterology fellowship training at Massachusetts General Hospital. He is presently an assistant professor of medicine and associate physician in the division of gastroenterology at BWH. For his postdoctoral research at MIT, he developed a series of novel technologies for drug delivery as well as physiological sensing via the gastrointestinal tract. His present research focuses on developing efficient systems for drug delivery through the gastrointestinal tract, as well as novel ingestible electronic devices for sensing a broad array of physiologic and pathophysiologic parameters. He has been the recipient of the grand prize of the Collegiate Inventors Competition, a research fellowship from Trinity College, and was named one of the most promising innovators under 35 by MIT Technology Review. Traverso is a co-founder of Lyndra, Suono Bio, and Celero Systems which have been established to accelerate the translation of technologies developed by his team, for use in medical care.
Cathy Wu will join the Institute as an assistant professor in the Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering, with a core affiliation in the Institute for Data, Systems, and Society, in July. Wu earned a PhD in electrical engineering and computer science at the University of California at Berkeley, where she worked with the Berkeley Artificial Intelligence Research Lab, Berkeley DeepDrive, California Partners for Advanced Transportation Technology, and the Berkeley Real-time Intelligent Secure Explainable Systems Lab. Her research involves machine learning, robotics, intelligent systems, and mixed-autonomy mobility. She is the recipient of several fellowships, including the NSF Graduate Research Fellowship, the Chancellor’s Fellowship for Graduate Study at UC Berkeley, the National Defense Science and Engineering Graduate Fellowship, and the Dwight David Eisenhower Transportation Fellowship. She has been awarded the 2018 Council of University Transportation Centers’s Milton Pikarsky Memorial Award, the 2017 ITS Outstanding Graduate Student Award, and the 2016 IEEE International Conference on Intelligent Transportation Systems Best Paper Award.