Studying these cells could lead to new treatments for diseases ranging from gastrointestinal disease to diabetes.
It was a lovely summer on the high seas for MIT students, alumni, staff and close friends aboard MIT's 38-foot yacht Aleida.
An international crew from MIT beat the Naval Academy, Boston College and seven others in the Corinthian 200 College Cup, a 145-nautical-mile race held July 5-7 from Marblehead Harbor in Massachusetts to a main channel buoy off Portland, Maine and back.
With a thirst for more competition and adventure, another team of MIT sailors that included four members of the Corinthian Cup crew finished fourth among 12 boats in their class in the annual 42-nautical-mile Beringer Bowl race from Marblehead to Provincetown on July 19-20.
The Corinthian Cup crew - tactician Alex Mevay (S.B. 2001) of Greenwich, Conn.; Captain Thomas Spettel of Arlington, whose wife Eileen is retired from the MIT Libraries; Yousaf Butt (S.B. 1989) of the United Arab Emirates; graduate student Josh Migliazzo of Grand Prairie, Texas; seniors Claudio Brasca of Milan, Italy and Cristina Roussel of Castail, Calif.; and Thomas Wanderer of Lexington (a programmer analyst in Student Services Information Technology) - positioned the boat strategically amid nine other boats in its class to be the among the first off the starting line.
Strong winds all weekend demanded the constant attention of the rotating crew to ensure proper sail trim and appropriate reactions to wind shifts for the greatest speed. Averaging six knots, the team covered 145 nautical miles in a little less than 24 hours, coming in second overall in the cruising class and first overall against the other colleges.
The Beringer Bowl crew of Mevay (the captain), Brasca, Migliazzo, Roussel and junior Namiko Yamamoto of Tokyo depended on radar and a Global Positioning System unit to navigate the course in thick fog. Only 15 minutes separated Aleida and the first-place boat, Blixen, in the highly competitive race.
Brasca, Mevay, Roussel and Yamamoto are members of the MIT varsity sailing team, which is ranked 19th in intercollegiate sailing by Sailing World.
Built in 1970, Aleida was donated to the MIT Nautical Association in 1982 by Albert Hopeman. The Hinckley cruising yacht draws six feet and has a mast that reaches 54 feet above the water.
A version of this article appeared in MIT Tech Talk on September 11, 2002.