Chandrakasan honored

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Chandrakasan honored

MTL Director Anantha Chandrakasan wins 

SIA University Researcher Award.



In CSAIL project, robots 

do the gardening.


Happy Birthday, MITAC

MIT Activities Committee celebrates a 

quarter-century of events, tickets and fun.







  M I T   C


Volume 53, Number 19

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

Rapid recharge

Re-engineered material could solve long-standing battery issues


Scanning electron micrograph of a 

particle of the new battery material. Dark 

area indicates the inside of the particle 

surrounded by a lighter surface layer 

only five nanometers wide.

MIT-trained economists 

bring pragmatic approach 

to Obama administration

Stephanie Schorow

News Office

Drawn to science


A page from ‘Living Sunlight,’ a children’s book about photosynthesis that MIT ocean 

microbiologist Penny Chisholm co-authored. Read more on page 3.

American presidents have famously raided 

universities to build their policy teams. 

President John F. Kennedy sought foreign 

policy advisors from his alma mater, Harvard. 

President Ronald Reagan relied on economists 

steeped in the laissez-faire school of thought 

from the University of Chicago.

President Barack Obama has tapped a 

number of MIT-trained economists to craft 

a response to the worst economic downturn 

in generations. These economists represent 

no particular ideology or canon. Instead, they 

reflect the eclectic, practical approach of the 

Institute’s Department of Economics. 

James Poterba, the Mitsui Professor of 

Economics, former head of the MIT Econom-

ics Department, and president of the National 

Bureau of Economic Research, says the MIT 

crew is part of a “dream team of economic 

advisors” in the Obama administration. 

“They are realists and pragmatists who 

are looking for what will work to address the 

particular problems we are facing,” Poterba 

says. “I think these folks are very much prob-

lem solvers in the MIT tradition.” 

“Of course,” he adds, “on the economic 

front, they have lots of problems to solve.” 

‘Dream team’

MIT’s Department of Economics has 

trained many leading central bankers. In addi-

tion to U.S. Federal Reserve Board Chairman 

Ben Bernanke PhD ’79, the bankers with MIT 

ties include Mario Draghi PhD ’77, governor 

of the Bank of Italy, Stanley Fischer PhD ’69, 

an emeritus member of the MIT faculty and 

governor of the Bank of Israel, José de Grego-

rio PhD ’90, governor of the Central Bank of 

Chile, and Athanasios Orphanides ’85, PhD 

’90, governor of the Central Bank of Cyprus.

In Washington, Lawrence H. Summers 

’75, former secretary of the Treasury and 

Harvard University president, leads Presi-

dent Obama’s National Economics Council. 

Christina Romer PhD ’85 heads the Council 

of Economic Advisors while Austan Gools-

bee PhD ’95, who served as Obama’s senior 

economics advisor during the campaign, 

has been nominated to serve as a member 

of the Council of Economic Advisers and is 

chief economist of the President’s Economic 

Recovery Advisory Board. Harvard econom-

ics professor Jeremy Stein PhD ’86 is a special 

advisor to the secretary of the Treasury. 

Additionally, Xavier de Souza Briggs, associate 

professor of sociology and urban planning in 

the Department of Urban Studies and Plan-

ning, has joined the administration as associ-

ate director of the White House Office of 

Management and Budget. 

The MIT-trained economics appointees 

bring different skills and points of view, 

following no single “party line,” says Robert 

Solow, Institute Professor emeritus. Their 

primary strength lies in their ability to deal 

with data without a lot of presupposition, he 


MIT engineers have created a kind of 

beltway that allows for the rapid transit of 

electrical energy through a well-known 

battery material, an advance that could usher 

in smaller, lighter batteries — for cell phones 

and other devices — that could recharge in 

seconds rather than hours.

The work could also allow for the quick 

recharging of batteries in electric cars, 

although that particular application would be 

limited by the amount of power available to a 

homeowner through the electric grid.

The work, led by Gerbrand Ceder, the 

Richard P. Simmons Professor of Materials 

Science and Engineering, is reported in the 


Please see BATTERY, PAGE 7

Elizabeth Thomson

News Office


Please see ECONOMY, PAGE 6

From top: Alumni Ben 

Bernanke PhD ’79, 

Austan Goolsbee PhD 

’95, Christina Romer 

PhD ’85 and Lawrence H. 

Summers ’75.


TO /





PAGE 2  March 18, 2009

MIT Tech Talk

Edward O. Vetter, Corporation 

life member emeritus, 88 

Edward Oswald Vetter ’42, a former 

commerce undersecretary in President 

Ford’s administration and an energetic life 

member emeritus of the MIT Corpora-

tion, died March 9 at the age of 88.

Born on Oct. 20, 1920, in Rochester

N.Y., to German immigrant parents, 

Vetter graduated from MIT in 1942 with 

a degree in mechanical engineering. After 

graduation, Vetter joined the Army, where 

he was eventually promoted to major. His 

professional career took him to Standard 

Oil of California as a production engineer 

and then to Texas Instruments, where 

he retired in 1975 as the chief financial 

officer. He later entered government, serv-

ing as the undersecretary of commerce in 

the Ford administration, energy advisor to 

the governor of Texas and chairman of the 

Texas Department of Commerce.

Vetter was elected a term member of 

the MIT Corporation in 1973, reelected in 

1978, and elected a life member in 1983. 

As president of the Alumni Association, he 

served as an ex officio member from 1976 

to 1977. In 1977, he was a recipient of the 

Bronze Beaver Award, the highest honor 

bestowed by the Alumni Association for 

distinguished service.

Paul Gray, MIT president emeritus 

and professor emeritus in the Department 

of Electrical Engineering and Computer 

Science, remembered Vetter as someone 

fiercely loyal to MIT and possessing the 

fun-loving charm of his adopted state of 

Texas. “By the time I got to know him in 

1971, you’d have thought he was a Texan 

all his life,” Gray said. 

Joseph G. Gavin Jr. ’41, remembers 

rowing with Vetter when both were 

members of the varsity squad as under-

graduates. A fellow life member emeritus 

of the Corporation, Gavin said the Dallas-

based Vetter was a great supporter of MIT. 

“He was one of those forthright people 

who called a spade a spade. He was a real 

Texan and I remained a damn Yankee,” he 

said. But “he was always there when the 

Institute needed something.”

Vetter participated on numerous Corpo-

ration committees, including more than 

a decade of service on both the Executive 

and Membership Committees. He served 

as chair of the visiting committees for 

the Department of Materials Science and 

Engineering, the Department of Nuclear 

Engineering, and Sponsored Research; he 

was also a member of the visiting commit-

tees for the Department of Electrical 

Engineering and Computer Science and 

for the Libraries. Vetter was a member of 

the Development Committee, an ex officio 

member of the Corporation Joint Advisory 

Committee on Institute-Wide Affairs, 

and the chair of the Corporation’s ad hoc 

Committee on Information Transfer.

“He certainly was a great addition to 

the corporation for his knowledge and 

insight,” said Emily “Paddy” Wade ’45, a 

Corporation life member emeritus.

Vetter is preceded in death by his wife, 

Mary Brite Vetter, and daughter, Mary 

Patricia. He is survived by his loving wife, 

Ann Wallace Vetter; his three daughters, 

Judy Vetter, Sally Vetter and Kathleen 

Jenkins; a grandson, Taylor Vetter Jenkins; 

and other extended family.

Contributions in his memory may be 

sent to Southwestern Medical Foundation 

to Support Research for Macular Degen-

eration, 2305 Cedar Springs Rd., Suite 

150, Dallas, Texas 75201. Resolutions on 

his death will be presented at the meeting 

of the Corporation in June.



Printed on recycled paper


Greg Frost


Donna Coveney


Patrick Gillooly

News Office Staff

Writer ..............................................................David Chandler

Assistant Director/Photojournalist ... .............Donna Coveney

Operations/Financial Administrator ... ............. Myles Crowley

Administrative Assistant II ....................... ..............Patti Foley

News Manager ...................................................... Greg Frost

Editorial & Production Asst. .............................Patrick Gillooly

Web editor ..................................................... Melanie Gonick

Administrative Assistant II .......... ............ Mary Anne Hansen

Communications Assistant .................................... Jen Hirsch

Senior designer ............................................... Rebecca Macri

Editorial Director .............................................Nate Nickerson

Director of Communications,

Advisor to the President .....................................Jason Pontin

Director, Media Relations ................................. Patti Richards

Senior Writer ............................................Stephanie Schorow

Senior Media Relations 

Officer, Research News ............................Elizabeth Thomson

Writer .................................................................  Anne Trafton


News Office

Telephone: 617-253-2700


Office of the Arts

Tech Talk is published by the News Office on Wednesdays during the academic year 

except for holiday weeks; no July and August issues. See Production Schedule at web. The News Office is in Room 11-400, Massachusetts 

Institute of Technology, 77 Massachusetts Ave., Cambridge, MA 02139-4307.

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In the March 11 front-page 

story titled “Liskov wins Turing 

Award,” Barbara Liskov was incor-

rectly described as “the first U.S. 

woman to earn a PhD in computer 

science.” Liskov is the first U.S. 

woman to earn a PhD from a 

computer science department. Tech 

Talk regrets the error.

Margaret Warner memorial 

service to be held March 24

A memorial service for Margaret 

(Peg) Warner will be held at 3:30 p.m. 

on Tuesday, March 24, in the MIT 


Warner, special assistant to the 

executive vice president and treasurer, 

passed away on Saturday, Feb. 7, at 

her Lexington home after a coura-

geous battle with cancer. She was 67.


Rich Wilson SM ’76 piloted his 60-foot 

racing yacht, Great American III, across 

the finish line at Les Sables d’Olonne in 

France on Tuesday, March 10, after sailing 

nonstop for four months — and 26,000 

miles — around the world. 

Wilson, 58, took ninth place in the 

Vendee Globe solo sailboat race, making 

him the oldest skipper and only the second 

American in the race’s 20-year history to 

finish successfully. Equipment failures and 

severe weather knocked out 19 of the 30 

boats that initially set sail in November.

Race organizers praised Wilson’s deter-

mination to complete the race, which had 

the highest-ever attrition rate: “[Rich’s 

achievement] is a testament to his excel-

lent seamanship skills, deep determination, 

careful planning and prudent execution.” 

To survive the journey, Wilson packed 

his monohull with a 120-day supply of 

food, including generous amounts of 

homemade granola, foil-packed tuna, and 

freeze-dried meals. He cluster-napped — a 

40-minute sleeping technique that kept 

him in sync with his body’s natural sleep 

cycle and allowed him to intermittently 

monitor the horizon for oncoming vessels.

Although he sailed alone, he was in 

touch with supporters and the world daily. 

You can relive his adventure virtually on 

his SitesAlive Foundation web site with 

daily blogs, podcasts, photos, a live map, 

and Q&As about sailing and oceanography 

answered by experts. He documented the 

challenge to share this learning experience 

with K-12 students around the world. 

As Wilson, who has been a defense 

analyst, technical consultant, and investor, 

told his SitesAlive followers, he began sail-

ing with his father at age three. The fresh 

air on the open ocean helped his asthma, 

and he liked learning about boat main-

tenance and sailing strategy. In 1980, he 

became the youngest overall winner of the 

prestigious Newport Bermuda Race as the 

skipper of Holger Danske, and in 2004 he 

won second place in the solo Transatlantic 

UK-USA. He also set three world records 

as skipper and navigator on clipper routes: 

San Francisco-Boston in 1993, New York-

Melbourne in 2001, and Hong Kong-New 

York in 2003. Most recently, he completed 

the two-handed Transat Jacques Vabre in 

2007 and the return solo race, the B2B 

from Brazil to France.

Wilson still enjoys learning and 

confronting obstacles — as he did during 

several storms, when mechanical and elec-

trical failures forced him to make repairs 

while his boat rocked violently — but he 

also enjoys the ocean’s wildlife. On his web 

site, he described sightings of albatross, 

flying fish, porpoises, and shooting stars.

Light rain and cloudy skies accompanied 

Wilson in his final stretch to the French 

port where he was greeted by thousands of 

onlookers, including his family who live in 

Marblehead, Mass. 

“For me, this was not just a race, but 

something else too,” he said after landing 

in France. “The difficulties were worth it 

for all the lessons and essays I sent back.”

Wilson’s final essay on SitesAlive 

recounts advice from one of his greatest 

teachers at MIT, Ray Pariser, who said, 

“You need to stretch your mind.”

“For me, being at sea does that exactly,” 

Wilson wrote.

26,000 miles later, alumnus completes solo sail

Liv Gold

Alumni Association


Rich Wilson SM ’76 aboard his 60-foot racing yacht, Great American III, as he finishes 

the Vendee Globe solo sailboat race.


• MITAC 25th Anniversary Open 

House. 11 a.m.-4 p.m. in 32, Stata 

Center lobby and Student Street. 

MITAC celebrates 25 years! 

• “Techno-Blinders: How the Cult 

of Technology is Endangering U.S. 

National Security.” Speaker: Elizabeth 

Stanley, Georgetown University. Noon-

1:30 p.m. in E38-615.

• Tough Economy Series: The “Art” 

of Behavioral Interviewing in a Tough 

Economy. Speaker: Bob Dolan - Career 

Development Center. 2:40-4 p.m. in 

56-114. The MIT Career Development 

Center has planned special workshops 

covering all aspects of the job search 

given the current economic situation.

• Institute Faculty Meeting. 3:30-5:30 

p.m. in 10-250.

 Going Global: “Yes You Can!” 

— an informational panel. 4-5 p.m. 

in 12-142. Are you intrigued by the 

thought of studying abroad or pursuing 

other global education opportunities 

but think they are impossible to actu-

ally pursue? A panel of MIT students 

and staff will be present to answer your 

questions and dispel myths about global 

education at MIT.

Thursday, March 19

• Women In Math Lecture Series. 

Speaker: Angela Hicks (UC San Diego) 

on “Combinatorics of the Diagonal 

Harmonics.” 2:30-3:30 p.m. in 4-149.

• “Logical Relations: A Step Towards 

More Secure and Reliable Software.” 

Speaker: Amal Ahmed (Toyota Techno-

logical Institute at Chicago). 4-5 p.m. 

in 32-G449. Part of the EECS Special 

Seminar Series.

• Rethinking Interactions — Discus-

sions on Diversity. 5-6:30 p.m. in 

50-220. Robbin Chapman, Manager of 

Diversity Recruitment, School of Archi-

tecture and Planning, will speak.

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