Five School of Science faculty members granted tenure

July 1, 2016

Five School of Science faculty members granted tenure

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School of Science

Clockwise from top left: Oliver Jagoutz, Markus Klute, Elizabeth Nolan, Philipe Rigollet, Feng Zhang

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The School of Science recently announced that five of its faculty members have been granted tenure by MIT.

This year’s newly tenured professors are:

Oliver Jagoutz, an associate professor of geology in the Department of Earth, Atmospheric and Planetary Sciences, addresses question related to the formation and evolution of the Earth’s oceanic and continental crust and the interplay between geological processes and long-term climate change. Central to his research are detailed field observations in combination with analytical chemistry and thermodynamic calculations. His work has furthered our understanding of how continents form, tectonic plates move, and geological processes initiate ice ages. At the undergraduate level, Jagoutz studied chemistry and geology at the University of Mainz and as an Erasmus student at the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology (ETH Zurich). After graduating, he began a PhD with J. P. Burg at ETH Zurich, during which he spent three months at the Tokyo Institute of Technology with Shige Maruyama. Following a postdoc at the University of Bern, he joined the MIT faculty in 2008.

Markus Klute, associate professor of physics, focuses on particle physics at the energy frontier, both in the design, construction, and commissioning of particle detectors and in the analysis of the data collected. In 2012, his group played a central role in the discovery of the Higgs boson using the Compact Muon Solenoid (CMS) experiment at the Large Hadron Collider (LHC). The discovery sheds light on the fundamental question of the origin of elementary particle mass and the mechanism of electroweak symmetry breaking. The exploitation of the Higgs boson and direct searches for physics beyond the standard model at the LHC are the focus of his future research. Klute received his diploma and PhD from Rheinische Friedrich-Wilhelms University in Bonn, Germany, in 2004, and then joined MIT as a postdoc and later as a research scientist working on the CDF and CMS experiments. In 2007, he accepted a position as associate professor with tenure at Goerg-August University in Goettingen, Germany, where he started a research group on the ATLAS experiment before coming back to MIT in 2009.

Associate professor of chemistry Elizabeth Nolan’s research program is motivated by the global problems of infectious disease and antibiotic resistance. She investigates the chemistry and biology of small molecules, peptides, and proteins that participate in the human innate immune response and host-pathogen interaction and that contribute to microbial pathogenesis. In many projects, she explores how transition metals, and metal-ion chelators produced by either the host or microbe, contribute to these phenomena. After graduating from Smith College in 2001, Nolan conducted her graduate studies in inorganic chemistry at MIT in the lab of Professor Stephen Lippard. She pursued postdoctoral research at the Harvard Medical School and then returned to MIT as an assistant professor in 2009.

Phillipe Rigollet, associate professor of mathematics, works at the intersection of statistics, machine learning, and optimization, focusing primarily on the design and analysis of statistical methods for high-dimensional problems. His recent research focuses on the tradeoffs between statistical accuracy and computational efficiency. At the University of Paris VI, Rigollet earned a BS in statistics in 2001, a BS in applied mathematics in 2002, and a PhD in mathematical statistics in 2006. He has held positions as a visiting assistant professor at the Georgia Institute of Technology and then as an assistant professor at Princeton University.

Feng Zhang, the W. M. Keck Career Development Associate Professor in Biomedical Engineering, is a bioengineer focused on developing tools to better understand nervous system function and disease. He has pioneered the development of genome editing tools for use in eukaryotic cells — including human cells — from natural microbial CRISPR systems. Using CRISPR and other methodologies, Zhang studies the role of genetic and epigenetic mechanisms underlying diseases, specifically focusing on disorders of the nervous system. He is especially interested in complex disorders, such as psychiatric and neurological diseases, that are caused by multiple genetic and environmental risk factors and which are difficult to model using conventional methods. Zhang joined MIT in 2011, and he holds appointments in the Department of Brain and Cognitive Sciences, the McGovern Institute, and the Broad Institute. He received his BA in chemistry and physics from Harvard College and his PhD in chemistry from Stanford University. Before joining the MIT faculty he was a junior fellow of the Harvard University Society of Fellows.