How can we make digital education platforms artificially intelligent?
Michael Beeler, PhD candidate, Operations Research

“Digital learning technologies have the potential to fundamentally transform the way we operate our education systems for the better. I am hopeful that students will one day engage in personalized lessons that maximize their rate of progress and engagement, given their interests, abilities, and prior knowledge, as if they had a high-caliber private tutor, and that this technology will be affordable and ubiquitous.”

  • Advisors: Cynthia Barnhart SM ’85, PhD ’88, chancellor and Ford Professor of Engineering; David Simchi-Levi, professor of engineering systems
  • Fellowships include: Mastercard Foundation Fellowship within the Legatum Center, MIT Tata Center for Technology and Design Fellowship


What is a “good seed”?
Ashawari Chaudhuri, PhD candidate, HASTS (History | Anthropology | Science, Technology, and Society)

“Communities of practice understand and work differently with genetically modified seeds, specifically Bt cotton, in India. For farming communities, a good seed is a process that comes to life through the entire phase of cultivation. For seed companies and government regulatory bodies, a good seed is a bounded object with objectives of better germination, higher yield, and resistance to pests. My research aims to coalesce these systems of meanings and values to create a road map for agriculture in India.”

  • Advisor: Michael M. J. Fischer, Andrew W. Mellon Professor of Humanities
  • Fellowships include: Edward Austin Fellowship, Walter A. Rosenblith Presidential Fellowship


How do neutrinos behave?
Gabriel Collin, PhD candidate, Physics

“The neutrino is the least understood of the fundamental particles; from scales of femtometers to billions of light-years, it holds the keys to the secrets of our universe. My focus is on developing new computational and statistical methods to address our field’s most difficult questions.”

  • Advisor: Janet Conrad, professor of physics
  • Fellowships include: Lourie Foundation Fellowship


How are the design and development of urban regions shaped by ideological conflict and political agency?
Yonah Freemark MCP ’13, SM ’13, PhD candidate, Urban Studies and Planning

“Cities have widely varying approaches to problems like the inadequate provision of affordable housing or poorly performing transportation networks. I am motivated to understand the divergence between metropolitan areas where planning solutions reduce inequality and increase social inclusion, and places where such remedies are hard to come by.”

  • Advisors: Lawrence Vale SM ’88, Ford Professor of Urban Design and Planning; Jinhua Zhao MCP ’04, SM ’04, PhD ’09, Edward H. and Joyce Linde Associate Professor of City and Transportation Planning
  • Fellowships include: Edward H. Linde (1962) Presidential Fellowship


What new tools could enable mapping the nanoscale architecture of the brain?
Asmamaw “Oz” Wassie ’13, PhD candidate, Biological Engineering

“The functions of our brain, including our thoughts, emotions, behaviors, all arise from its complex architecture; biological processes ranging from the wiring of neurons to the molecular organization of individual cells define how our brain works.”

  • Advisor: Ed Boyden ’99, MNG ’99, professor of biological engineering and brain and cognitive sciences
  • Fellowships include: Lemelson Engineering Presidential Fellowship, Viterbi Family Foundation Fellowship

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