MIT Reports to the President 1999–2000


For the first time, during 1999—00 academic year the Program in Media Arts and Sciences (MAS) enrolled 14 students in an alternative freshman-year program. These students took special Media Lab recitation sections of core freshman subjects, pursued Media Lab UROP research projects, and participated in two new MAS undergraduate subjects on design and research. We view this program as a first step toward establishing a full-fledged undergraduate program in the future.


For 1999—00, MAS program received 304 applications, an 11 percent increase over last year. From these, 53 new students (including 10 women) were offered admission: 42 for the master's program, and 11 for the doctoral program. This brought the total MAS enrollment to 131, which included 35 women, 1 underrepresented minority, and 39 foreign students. Of the total, 66 were master’s candidates, and 65 were doctoral candidates. Forty-six advanced degrees were awarded during the year (33 SM and 13 PhD). The program offered 32 graduate subjects.

The largest undergraduate presence at the Media Laboratory continued to be UROP students, more than 250 of who participated in research projects at the Media Laboratory. Many of these undergraduates pursued their undergraduate theses under MAS faculty supervision. In addition, the Program in Media Arts and Sciences offered seven undergraduate subjects, and five MAS faculty members and staff conducted freshman seminars or served as freshman advisors.


New appointments

Ted Selker, who has had a close association with the Media Lab for many years as an invited speaker and collaborator, was appointed associate professor and head of the Lab's new Context-Aware Computing group in March. Selker comes to MIT from IBM, where he was an IBM Fellow–the company's highest technical position.

Deb Roy, who recently received his PhD working with Alex Pentland in the Lab's Perceptual Computing group, was named assistant professor in January. Roy heads a new Cognitive Machines research group, which combines aspects of artificial intelligence and cognitive science to develop, implement, and test models of learning, with the overall goal of gaining insights into human cognition.


Justine Cassell, head of the Lab’s Gesture and Narrative Language group, was promoted to associate professor without tenure. She has been an assistant professor in the Program in Media Arts and Sciences since 1995.

Neil Gershenfeld who has been an associate professor without tenure in the Program in Media Arts and Sciences, was promoted to associate professor with tenure. He heads the Lab’s Physics and Media group.

Joseph Jacobson, head of the Lab’s Nanomedia group, was promoted to associate professor without tenure. He has been an assistant professor in the Program in Media Arts and Sciences since 1996.

John Maeda, head of the Lab’s Aesthetics and Computation group, was promoted to associate professor without tenure. He has been an assistant professor in the Program in Media Arts and Sciences since 1996.

Mitchel Resnick, who has been an assistant professor in the Program in Media Arts and Sciences, was promoted to associate professor with tenure. He heads the Lab’s Lifelong Kindergarten group.


Faculty awards

Stephen Benton received the 1999 Dennis Gabor Award from the SPIE, in recognition of his invention of white-light holography and his many other contributions to advancing the field of holography.

Michael Hawley was a finalist and prizewinner in the 2000 Van Cliburn International Piano Competition for Outstanding Amateurs.

Hiroshi Ishii received the Perkins Award for Excellence in Graduate Student Advising presented at the MIT Awards Convocation in May.

Joseph Jacobson was selected by Technology Review as one of the 100 young innovators who "exemplify the spirit of innovation in science, technology, business and the arts." In addition, Joe, and his students, were awarded the 2000 Gutenberg Prize for inventions in the areas of printed displays and printed electronics. This prize is awarded once every three years by the German government for innovation and inventions in the tradition of Gutenberg.

John Maeda was one of six designers selected to receive the prestigious DaimlerChrysler Design Award, established in 1993 to celebrate the power of innovation and the blending of art and technology. He was also featured in the December "Genius" issue of Esquire magazine, where he was named one of the 21 important people for the 21st century.

Nicholas Negroponte was the 1999 recipient of the Bradford Washburn Award from the Boston Museum of Science. This award is made to an individual "who has made an outstanding contribution toward public understanding of science, its importance, its fascination, and the vital role it plays in all our lives."

Alex Pentland was elected a Senior Fellow of the Design Futures Council.

Rosalind Picard was named a Senior Member of IEEE

The Computer Clubhouse, an innovative after-school program for youths from underserved communities co-founded by Mitchel Resnick, was awarded a $20-million grant over five years by Intel to create an Intel Computer Clubhouse Network across the country–and eventually the world.

Student awards

Benjamin Fry was featured by ID Magazine as one of the 40 designers under 30 to watch for the new millennium.

Golan Levin was awarded an Award of Distinction at ARS Electronica in the interactive category for Audiovisual Environment Suite, a collection of five interactive works.

Kimiko Ryokai was the winner of the Computer Support of Collaborative Learning’s 1999 Student Paper Competition. Her paper, "Computer Support for Children's Collaborative Fantasy Play and Storytelling," was selected from more than 50 papers submitted.

Marko Turpenien was co-author of "Ontology Development for Flexible Content," which won the "best paper" award for the Internet and Digital Economy track of the Hawaii International Conference for the System Sciences.

When ID Magazine announced the results of its annual Design Review earlier this summer, a number of MAS students were recognized. Phil Frei won "best in category" for student submissions for curlybot, a toy that records and replays physical motion, exactly mimicking even the subtlest motions you make as you play with it. Golan Levin won a bronze in the art/experimental software category for Audiovisual Environmental Suite. John Underkoffler, a recent Ph.D. recipient, won a bronze in the interactive installation category for Luminous Room. Fernanda Viegas and fellow members of the Lab’s Sociable Media group won a bronze–in the Web site category for Chat Circles.

Alex Pentland

MIT Reports to the President 1999–2000