MIT Portugal Featured on Falar Global (SIC TV)

Sunday, 07 February 2010

Falar Global (“Global Talk”) – a program broadcast on the Portuguese network SIC that looks at the ways in which advances in science and technology are changing people's lives – regularly airs stories about the MIT Portugal Program, through an arrangement with Portugal’s Foundation for Science and Technology (FCT).

Several recent stories have focused on the impact of MIT Portugal research:

Stem cell research to fight leukemia and other blood diseases. This February 2010 segment profiled ongoing work by stem cell researchers from MIT Portugal and the Portuguese Oncology Institute (IPO) to develop treatments for patients with leukemia and other blood disorders who have not responded to conventional treatments. Positive results have been achieved in nine such patients. The story includes interviews with Prof. Joaquim Sampaio Cabral (Co-lead, MIT Portugal Bioengineering focus area) and Dr. Manuel Abecassis (Director of the IPO Bone Marrow Transplant Unit).

MIT Portugal’s cross-disciplinary approach to problem solving. This December 2009 segment focuses on the Green Islands project – a major initiative under way to work with government and industry in the Azores to increase significantly the Islands’ development and use of renewable energy; MIT Portugal research on using bacteria to generate electricity (see below); and “intelligent stents” for treating aneurysms. The piece includes clips from MIT President Susan Hockfield's November 2009 visit to Portugal, and the launch during that visit of several MIT Portugal research and training networks. The segment also features a studio interview with FCT President João Senteiro.

Electricity production via bacteria. This November 2009 story focuses on Portuguese researchers' study of bacteria that can produce energy upon contact with waste containing metals – common elements of contaminated waste water. This naturally occurring characteristic suggests it may become possible to produce electricity in an entirely environmentally friendly way – something that was discovered at MIT. (The Portuguese researchers are looking at the process at the molecular level.) EDP (Energias de Portugal) has expressed an interest in the research.

In July 2009, Falar Global profiled the Green Islands project. (Part one describes the goals of the initiative; part two features an interview with MIT Portugal National Director Paulo Ferrão).

Additional MIT Portugal videos are available here.


Biomedical Devices and Technologies Lectures Expand MIT Portugal's Impact in Portuguese Research

Friday, 29 January 2010

MIT Portugal’s Bioengineering group recently opened the lectures in its Biomedical Devices and Technologies module to researchers across Portugal’s academic and corporate research communities, providing insights into leading-edge computational models and technologies for advanced prostheses and other devices.

The module, which was delivered January 4-15, 2010 at IST in Lisbon, was led by faculty from IST, the University of Minho, and MIT. One of the objectives of this year’s course was to bring together three of the most important stakeholders in this field—academia, medicine and industry—in order to provide an integrated view of the subject to the students. A website had been launched inviting participants from other Portuguese institutions to attend the general lectures, with the explicit intention being to extend the impact of the module and that of its guest speakers.

More than 30 Master’s and doctoral researchers responded, from institutions including IST, the New University of Lisbon, and the University of Minho, as well as from the Faculty of Human Mobility (FMH-Technical University of Lisbon) and the Engineering Institute of Coimbra (ISEC).

More >

Portuguese Student at MIT Develops Risk-Assessment Methodology That Might Help Prevent Tunnel Accidents

Wednesday, 27 January 2010
Rita Sousa

In 2000 and 2001, the northern Portuguese city of Porto experienced three tunnel accidents. One woman died in the 2001 incident, when a tunnel that was part of the city’s Metro system collapsed under her house. Helping to prevent these kinds of accidents motivated Rita Sousa’s doctoral research in MIT’s Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering (CEE) for the past several years.

Sousa’s work – which was supported by FCT (Fundação para a Ciência e Tecnologia) and in part by the MIT Portugal Program, and which culminated in her successful dissertation defense in December 2009 – led to the compiling of what could be the most comprehensive database of tunnel accidents to date, and the development of a novel methodology for assessing tunnel project risks.

In particular, Sousa’s model predicts changes in geology that could steer designers and builders toward safer materials and construction methods for tunnels (including for high-speed rail systems, an important area of MIT Portugal’s Transportation Systems research).

More >

Bioengineering Co-Director Dava Newman Named "Woman to Watch" in Technology

Tuesday, 26 January 2010

Second MIT Portugal Bioengineering Faculty Member Honored in Two Years

Prof. Dava Newman, Co-Director of MIT Portugal Program’s Bioengineering Systems program, has been named by Mass High Tech, a New England technology journal, as one of its 11 “Women to Watch” for 2010. 

Prof. Dava NewmanProf. Newman, Professor of Aeronautics and Astronautics and Engineering Systems and Director of MIT’s Technology and Policy Program, focuses on a range of interdisciplinary research projects, including biomechanics, systems analysis, biomedical engineering and advanced space suit design. Her MIT Portugal research includes a hybrid human-machine system in which exoskeletons, sensors and electronic textiles are used to improve locomotion in individuals with mobility and musculoskeletal disabilities.

This is the second year in a row that a member of the MIT Portugal’s Bioengineering faculty was honored by Mass High Tech. In January 2009, Prof. Sangeeta Bhatia – whose laboratory focuses on the applications of micro- and nanotechnologies to tissue repair and regeneration – was also named to the “Women to Watch” list, which honors women who are deemed to be leaders in high-tech.

Prof. Newman will be profiled in the newspaper’s March 17 edition and acknowledged at an event held later that week.

Read the MIT story

A Star-Turn on PBS's NOVA scienceNOW

Prof. Newman was also profiled recently on one of the premier science programs in the United States, Public Broadcasting's NOVA scienceNOW. Watch video clips on the "Secret Lives of Scientists" webpage, where she talks about the excitement involved in being an aerospace engineer -- and even reveals who her favorite astronaut is.


MIT Professor (and Former Astronaut) Gives Students a Glimpse into Future Mars Missions

Tuesday, 19 January 2010

Hundreds of Portuguese high school students were recently given a distinct privilege: a look at what future Mars missions could look like, as described by former Payload Specialist Astronaut Laurence R. Young.

Prof. Young, Apollo Program Professor of Astronautics and Professor of Health Sciences and Technology and founding director of the National Space Biomedical Research Institute in Houston, Texas, spoke at the Escola Secundária de Camões in Lisbon as part of the MIT Portugal Program “MIT Professors Visit Schools” collaboration with Ciência Viva, an organization that promotes science and technology in Portugal. The series, which has reached more than 2,000 students so far, has sent more than a dozen MIT faculty to speak at schools across Portugal.

Student Says, “I’m Going to Mars”

MIT Prof. Laurence Young (Courtesy: Alexandre Almeida/Kameraphoto)Prof. Young’s talk at the school on January 12, 2010, was titled “Going to Mars with Artificial Gravity.” A member of the MIT faculty team participating in MIT Portugal’s bioengineering focus area, Prof. Young highlighted the physiological risks for the human crews that will attempt the Mars mission sometime in the coming decades. These include exposure to radiation, bone loss, and elevated risk of cancer and psychological disorders. But he also sketched the background of Mars exploration, from the ancient Babylonians to NASA’s Mars rovers – and reminded the students that the Age of Exploration started in Portugal, with Vasco da Gama and others.

The audience, which filled the school’s auditorium beyond capacity, was inspired at Prof. Young’s certainty that a Mars mission was within the reach of humanity, most likely through an international consortium. After the talk, a 16-year-old student was quoted by Portuguese radio’s Antena 1 as saying, “I’m going to Mars. I’m going to be the first Portuguese astronaut to go to Mars!”

For his own part, Prof. Young said, "The enthusiasm, knowledge, and level of interest of the students at the Camões high school in Lisbon was fantastic. It makes it clear that exploration remains a motivator for science education all around the world."

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