Hard work, collaborative spirit, and creativity are hallmarks of MIT, but when it comes to excellence, MIT is simply in a class by itself.

It is impossible to overstate the Institute’s commitment to excellence. A passion for the best defines our students and faculty and infuses all that we do here.

The abilities and accomplishments of our students are legendary. But these remarkable young men and women could not accomplish all that they do without our extraordinary faculty.

MIT’s professors are among the greatest in the world. For decades, the work of our faculty has made a powerful impact around the globe. MIT gave the world the development of radar during WWII, synthetic penicillin, strobe photography, and the science and engineering for new cancer therapies. Our faculty has profoundly affected the course of modern molecular biology, shaped the evolution of linguistics and economics, envisioned and designed the information highway, and helped launch the biotechnology industry. Today, MIT faculty members are advancing the frontiers of knowledge in energy, cancer research, nanotechnology, genomics, management, entrepreneurship, leadership education, and finding solutions to global poverty. They set new standards along the entire continuum from basic curiosity-driven research to the most advanced applications into technologies and processes that improve our lives.

Our faculty, along with their students, are now being called to solve some of the world’s most complex problems. Today the planet faces challenges in energy, transportation, mega-city development, pollution, food demand, and world population. No one can meet such challenges single-handedly. Solutions to world-class problems require many minds; fortunately, our students and faculty are expert at working across disciplinary boundaries.

MIT has 992 faculty members. Seven current faculty members have won the Nobel Prize, and eight have received the National Medal of Science. Sixty-four members of the faculty and staff belong to the National Academy of Engineering, 60 to the National Academy of Sciences, 23 to the Institute of Medicine, and 115 to the American Academy of Arts and Sciences.

Also among the faculty is a unique group of just 13 individuals who are known as Institute Professors. Institute Professor is the highest honor awarded by the faculty and administration at MIT. The title recognizes outstanding accomplishments in scholarship and education as well as extraordinary leadership and service.

Institute Professors report directly to the Provost, rather than to a department head or school dean. They have the freedom to follow intellectual pursuits well beyond department responsibilities, and a special opportunity to work across departmental boundaries. Institute Professors symbolize some of our community’s most deeply shared values, and their appointments recognize their influence and commitment to the life of the Institute.

Underlying the work of our Institute Professors — and, in fact, all of our great faculty — is a vibrant spirit of innovation and creativity. Their path-breaking research translates into economic and social benefits for the country and the world. MIT’s faculty members are highly motivated, dedicated people. They are founders, builders, leaders, and visionaries. They have the courage to take risks, the ability to solve problems, and the imagination to dream dreams. In this issue of SPECTRVM, we celebrate them.

Susan Hockfield

Susan Hockfield