Andrea Frank
Ports and Ships

MIT Interviews

a book of interviews and portraits, 2004 - 2008

by Andrea Frank
edited by Jerry Adler

purchase from Amazon or the MIT Press Bookstore


I am deeply interested in and concerned by today’s urgent and diverse global challenges. Inspired by the fact that in every hallway at MIT, where I teach Photography and Related Media in the MIT Visual Arts Program, there are world-class minds conducting cutting-edge research, I set out to sew together disparate threads by creating a kaleidoscopic subjective interview collection.

The interviewees for this volume were asked to reflect upon aspects of their research that address current pressing issues such as climate change, geo-political instabilities, adverse effects of globalization, the energy crisis, social tensions, and health epidemics. While some interviewees deal with these challenges directly in their research, others nip at the edges, shadows, and depths in more abstract and conceptual work. The choice and sequencing of the interviews in this compilation encourages the reader to make cross-connections among many disciplines. By recognizing the unifying elements that run throughout, and by joining together starkly different pieces of the same puzzle, the reader will gain a unique apprehension of not just each individual subject, but the entire human curriculum.

Naturally, my choice of interviewees is subjective, and I surely have omitted many strong voices. This is not an exhaustive and complete overview of the work performed at MIT, but rather a sampling of what goes on in this fantastic institution.

For the purpose of consistency, all interviews are structured around four simple questions: the focus of interviewee’s work, recent changes in and around the respective fi eld, the global context and visions for the future, and possible implications or downsides. More information about the interviewees and about MIT can be found online at

Andrea Frank
December 2007


K. Daron Acemoglu, Charles P. Kindleberger Professor of Applied Economics - Ute Meta Bauer, Associate Professor of Visual Arts, Head of the MIT Visual Arts Progra - Angela Belcher, Germehausen Professor of Materials Science and Enegineering and Biological Engineering - Suzanne Berger, Raphael Dorman and Helen Starbuck Professor of Political Science, Director of the MIT International Science and Technology Initiatives - Rodney Brooks, Panasonic Professor of Robots, Director at MIT of Computer Science at the Artificial Intelligence Lab - Noam Chomsky, Institute Professor, Professor of Linguistics, Linguistic Theory, Syntax, Semantics, Philosophy of Language - Dan Cohn, Senior Research Scientist for Energy and the Environment and the Plasma Science and Fusion Center, Head of the Plasma Technology Division of the Plasma Science and Fusion Center - Erik D. Demaine, Esther and Harold Edgerton Professor, Associate Professor of Electrical Engineering and Computer Science . Kerry A. Emanuel, Professor of Atmospheric Science . Edward Farhi, Professor of Physics, Director of the Center for Theoretical Physics . Leon Robert Glicksman, Professor of Building Technology and Mechanical Engineering, Head Of the Building Technology Program in the Department of Architecture . Paula T. Hammond, Professor of Chemical Engineering - Larissa Harris, Associate Director of the Center for Advanced Visual Studies . Darrell Irvine, Eugene Bell Associate Professor of Tissue Engineering . Meg Jacobs, Associate Professor of History . John G. Kassakian, Professor of Electrical Engineering and Computer Science, Director of the Laboratory for Electromagnetic and Electronic Systems . Mujid Kazimi, Professor of Mechanical Engineering, Director of the Center for Advanced Nuclear Energy Systems . Muntadas, Visiting Professor at the MIT Visual Arts Program . Eric S. Lander, Professor of Biology, MIT, Professor of Systems Biology, Harvard, Founding Director of Broad Institute of MIT and Harvard . Scott R. Manalis, Associate Professor of Biological and Mechanical Engineering . Henry S. Marcus, Professor of Marine Systems, Chairman of the Oceans System Management Program . Ernest J. Moniz, Cecil and Ida Green Professor of Physics, Co-Director of the Laboratory for Energy and the Environment . Daniel Nocera, Henry Dreyfus Professor of Energy and Professor of Chemistry . C. Adam Schlosser, Research Scientist for the Joint Program on the Science and Policy of Global Change . Kimberly Hamad-Schifferli, Esther and Harold E. Assistant Professor of Mechanical Engineering and Biological Engineering . H. Sebastian Seung, Professor of Computational Neuroscience, Investigator of the Howard Hughes Medical Institute . John Sterman, Jay W. Forrester Professor of Management, Director of the MIT System Dynamics Group . Alice Y. Ting, Associate Professor of Chemistry . Bernhardt L. Trout, Associate Professor of Chemical Engineering, Director of the Molecular Engineering Laboratory . Lawrence J. Vale, Professor of Urban Design and Planning, Head of the Department of Urban Studies and Planning . Jan Wampler, Professor of Architecture . Rosalind Williams, Bern Dibner Professor of the History of Science and Technology, Director of the Program in Science Technology and Society . Krzysztof Wodiczko,Professor of Visual Arts, Director of the Center for Advanced Visual Studies, Head of the Interrogative Design Group

This project has been supported through a grant by the Humanities, Arts, and Social Sciences Fund at MIT.
Funded in part by the Council for the Arts at MIT.
All rights reserved including the right of reproduction in whole or in part in any form.
Photographs and interviews by Andrea Frank
First edition 2008
Printed in Hong Kong by Permanent Printing Limited on recycled paper
ISBN: 978-0-615-18306-0


Andrea Frank