2013-2014 Funded Projects

Development of a Virtual Cell and Molecular Biology Laboratory Environment for StarCellBio - $40,000

Graham Walker, Biology
Alison Brauneis, Postdoctoral Associate, Biology
Lourdes Aleman, Research Scientist, Biology and OEIT

StarCellBio is a cell and molecular biology experiment simulator currently under development. StarCellBio will enhance learning of core biology concepts by providing students with the opportunity to perform virtual laboratory experiments. We propose to design and develop visualizations, animations and videos to create a virtual laboratory environment to enhance StarCellBio’s learning experience. The addition of visualizations, animations, and videos will better represent the processes of scientific inquiry, one of StarCellBio’s educational goals, and will enhance the program’s educational experience. StarCellBio will be implemented in undergraduate cell biology courses at MIT and other institutions and is being developed for future use in MITx online courses to reach a worldwide audience.


Engineering Design Studio - $40,000

Steven B. Leeb, Electrical Engineering and Computer Science

Engineering Design Studio (EDS) in EECS will enable students to experience "cross-disciplinary" product assembly, with firmware, SMT components, mechanical structure, printed circuit boards, electromagnetics, optics, chemistry (e.g., liquid crystals, ITO coatings, etc.) and software. We have already begun efforts to deploy a highly visible, highly functional laboratory that permits experimentation with modern techniques for building electronic systems. This facility will support a new large freshmen seminar experience, EECS department laboratories, and other classes in and across several department curricula.


Second Nature: The Design of Environmental Sensor Networks - $24,000

Prof. Sheila Kennedy, School of Architecture and Planning
Joeseph Paradiso, Media Arts and Sciences

This project will create valuable learning experiences for an interdisciplinary team of MIT undergraduates who will work with Prof. Kennedy in summer 2013. The team will create sensors that will be field tested through a special opportunity in Brazil’s Amazon, enabling the team to learn data compilation techniques and experiment with visualizing data sets. The sensor module “toolkits” created and tested in summer 2013 will be documented and used as a foundational teaching and learning platform for further development and innovation by MIT undergraduates in the Second Nature course in fall 2013.


Sensor Networks and the “Smart Campus": A New Capstone for CEE - $40,000

Colette Heald and Jesse Kroll, Civil and Environmental Engineering

The field of Civil and Environmental Engineering (CEE) spans a wide range of cutting-edge topics related to sustainability in the built and natural environments. To match this level of innovation in CEE undergraduate education at MIT, we propose a new senior capstone course focused on pervasive sensing. Each year the class will address a new theme in CEE – air quality, hydrology, transportation, structures, etc. – by designing and deploying a state-of-the-art sensor network for MIT’s campus. Data from this network will be accessible online, in real-time, for both researchers and the wider public. This project will support the development of this new capstone as well as the specific network to be designed in Year 1, aimed at monitoring air quality in and around the campus.


Teaching and Learning: Cross-Cultural Perspectives - $21,233

Graham M. Jones, Anthropology

This project will develop a new Anthropology subject that will offer both a framework and a forum for applying qualitative research methods to the study of educational practices, with a particular emphasis on edX and online learning. It will introduce theories of social learning, and examine practices of socialization across a variety of cultural contexts. It will compare schooling to other forms of knowledge transmission from initiation and apprenticeship to recent innovations in online education such as massicve online open courses (MOOCs). Students will employ a range of qualitative research methods to generate original data for analysis. Offering students opportunities to participate in faculty research on education, this course will contribute to building community capacity for fundamental research on learning at MIT.


The Directed Reading Program in Mathematics - $30,000

Ju-Lee Kim, Mathematics

The Directed Reading Program (DRP) in Mathematics is a non-traditional teaching activity: not-for-credit paired reading (one undergraduate student and one graduate mentor each). It runs during IAP. The program is in its fourth year during 2013-2014. The DRP is very popular across students from different majors and backgrounds, and as a consequence has become much bigger than originally anticipated.


Topics in 21st Century Journalism - $18,523

Seth Mnookin, Comparative Media Studies and Writing & Humanistic Studies

"Topics in 21st Century Journalism" will give students a broad understanding of what it means to produce journalism today. Students will emerge from the course with the training and knowledge necessary to evaluate the limitations and strengths of specific types of media, from New York Times stories to Twitter feeds. Just as importantly, they will develop tools to effectively communicate their own research to non-specialist audiences. One of the main pedagogical tools the course will use to accomplish these goals is a web portal, written and curated by the students, which will mimic the style and substance of an online news source. The course will also use the PI’s two decades of experience in journalism to bring in unique guests speakers.


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