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Faculty highlight diverse ‘frontiers’ of MIT’s research

Thirteen faculty from twelve departments gave snapshots of their current research — ranging from studying financial systems based on mobile phones in Africa to finding genetic pathways to improve the efficiency of biofuel production — at a symposium on the future of MIT research, “MIT’s Frontiers of the Future,” April 11.

Changing the incentives in drug markets could lead to new research that would uncover “missing” inventions — such as cures for diseases which are usually neglected, Heidi Williams, professor in economics, suggested. Her research seeks to identify the drivers of innovation in healthcare markets.

Describing the surprising persistence of some infectious diseases which have yet to be eradicated, civil and environmental engineering professor Lydia Bourouiba said that micro-level research into the disease agents and a macroscopic understanding of economic and ecological factors that influence disease transmission are both necessary. Bourouiba joined MIT in 2010 as a postdoctoral fellow in the department of mathematics.

Dina Katabi, professor in electrical engineering and computer science, is working with her team to develop wireless technology that can track a person’s breathing and movements through walls.

The symposium was part the MIT2016 celebrations which mark the one hundredth anniversary of MIT’s move to Cambridge.

—Katherine Nazemi