Studying these cells could lead to new treatments for diseases ranging from gastrointestinal disease to diabetes.
The annual Technology Day program on Saturday, June 9 will focus on current understanding of our origins, as well as new frontiers in three areas: cognitive development, materials and machines, and exploration.
The symposium is one of the events planned for alumni attending Tech Reunions from June 7-10, and will assemble speakers from across the Institute to showcase their research.
Titled "Origins and Beyond: Our Place in the Cosmos," the program will feature a series of lectures in the morning and three concurrent panels in the afternoon.
The morning lectures will be held in Kresge Auditorium from 9am-noon and will explore the origins theme at several scales, from the formation of the universe to the evolution of life. Speakers will include MIT Professors Eric S. Lander, Claude R. Canizares and Maria T. Zuber, and Harvard University Professor Stephen J. Gould. President Charles M. Vest will open the program and moderate a question-and-answer session.
Dr. Lander, professor of biology and director of the Whitehead Institute/MIT Center for Genome Research, will speak about "The Human Genome and Beyond." Dr. Canizares, professor and director of the Center for Space Research, will discuss "The Origin of the Universe." Dr. Zuber, the E.A. Griswold Professor of Geophysics and Planetary Science, will focus on "Probing the Origin of the Planets from Spacecraft." A title is not available for Dr. Gould's presentation. He is the Alexander Agassiz Professor of Zoology and professor of geology at Harvard.
Afternoon panels from 3-5 pm will examine the development of the mind, materials and machines that will enhance our lives, and exploration from the depths of the ocean to outer space. The panels include "The Inner Cosmos: Language, Vision, Cognition" in Rm 34-101; "Materials and Machines: Smaller, Stronger, Smarter" in Rm 10-250; and "Probing the Frontiers: Land, Sea, Space" in Kresge Little Theater.
Technology Day has been a formal part of reunions at MIT since 1935. The program is developed by a committee of alumni, chaired this year by Robert A. Summers (SM 1946, ScD 1954), with assistance from the Alumni Association.
Dr. Summers anticipates the symposium will provide plenty of intellectual stimulation. "I think it's going to be a very interesting day. [MIT alumni] have a lot of intellectual curiosity," he said. "We want them to come away with the feeling that MIT is not only a great place, but it continues to grow in all kinds of ways."
A version of this article appeared in MIT Tech Talk on May 23, 2001.