March 11 Letter to the BCS community from Department Head Jim DiCarlo

March 11 Letter to the BCS community from Department Head Jim DiCarlo

To the BCS community,

As you have seen, President Reif sent an email on Tuesday evening outlining the next steps in MIT’s response to the novel coronavirus and COVID-19.

While classes are scheduled to continue through this week, I know levels of uncertainty and anxiety are high. I would like to offer some additional guidance.

To our undergraduate students, I want you to know how sad we are about this disruption. Building 46 will feel much emptier without you. We are trying hard to make this transition as smooth as possible, but I know there will be bumps. Please do not hesitate to reach out to your faculty advisor or to Sierra Vallin ( for help with any issues.

To graduate students, postdocs and staff, I know there are still many questions about how the research environment will be affected. I and many others are pressing these questions and hope to have more information soon.

To our faculty, if you have scheduled a midterm for this week, I strongly suggest you consider canceling it. Undergraduates are being asked to move out of campus housing by next Tuesday; even the most prepared students are likely to be distracted. We will have the next two weeks to decide how to handle midterms. Likewise, if you have assigned problem sets or other work due before the end of this week, please be flexible with those deadlines.

To everyone – if you are sick – stay home and consult/seek medical care. 

Administrative staff in BCS, McGovern, and Picower are working together to manage the multiple moving parts of this situation as smoothly and efficiently as possible. I greatly appreciate their efforts and ingenuity.

This is a rapidly evolving situation, and things are likely to change. I appreciate everyone’s resourcefulness and flexibility as we work together to get through this unprecedented situation. Many thanks for all of your efforts.


James J. DiCarlo M.D., Ph.D.
Peter de Florez Professor of Neuroscience
Head, Department of Brain and Cognitive Sciences
Massachusetts Institute of Technology