Public Service


The temporary memorial to MIT Police Officer Sean Collier HM. Photo by Joe McGonegal.

MIT will mark the first anniversary of the Boston Marathon bombings and the death of MIT Police Officer Sean Collier HM in a ceremony of remembrance on Friday, April 18—one year to the day that Collier was killed in active duty by the alleged marathon bombing suspects.

The one-hour ceremony will take place at 9:30 a.m. at MIT’s North Court and is open to the Institute community. The ceremony will include remarks from Senator Elizabeth Warren, Cambridge Mayor David Maher, MIT Executive Vice President and Treasurer Israel Ruiz, members of the MIT Police Department, graduate student Sara E. Ferry, and Associate Professor J. Meejin Yoon, who is designing a permanent memorial to Collier and will share a rendering of the memorial following the ceremony.

The ceremony will also include a singing of the national anthem by Cambridge Police Lt. Pauline Wells, a performance from Professor John Harbison and the MIT Vocal Jazz Ensemble, and a benediction from MIT chaplain Robert M. Randolph.

At 1 p.m. on April 18, Chancellor Cynthia Barnhart will host an MIT community picnic on the North Court that will cheer on the MIT Strong marathon team, the group of faculty, staff, and alumni who are running the 2014 Boston Marathon to raise funds for the Sean A. Collier Memorial Fund.

According to the Boston Globe, the Collier Fund—which has already raised more than $500,000 from nearly 2,000 individuals—will be used for annual scholarships at MIT and the Massachusetts Police Academy, a memorial medal fund that honor’s Collier’s legacy, and the Yoon-designed permanent memorial at the corner of Vassar St. and Main St. on MIT campus.


Photo by Joe McGonegal

A year later, MIT keeps Sean Collier’s memory alive,” Boston Globe:

“He touched so many lives around campus; people knew him directly or indirectly,” said Kris Brewer, the webmaster for MIT’s School of Engineering, who met Collier when he joined MIT’s Outing Club, a group of outdoor enthusiasts. “He was a bit of a techno geek, too. . . . He fit into [MIT’s] technology culture. He was working on websites.”

The April 18 ceremony and picnic crowns a year-long remembrance Collier’s of legacy at MIT.

On June 8, 2013, Collier was posthumously inducted as a member of the MIT Alumni Association at MIT’s Technology Day.

On Oct. 18—exactly six months to the day of Collier’s death—MIT Police and the Department Facilities unveiled a temporary memorial, made from a piece of the Great Dome, bearing an MIT police badge and Collier’s badge number, 179, at the corner of Main St. and Vassar St.

And earlier this year, a group of MIT alumni, students, faculty, and staff formed MIT Strong, a 40-person contingent that has raised more than $142,000 in support of the Collier Fund. According to its website, MIT Strong was formed to honor the life, sacrifice, and legacy of Collier; celebrate the spirit and strength of the MIT community; and to offer a visible MIT presence at the 2014 marathon.



Images via Humans of MIT

In summer 2010, photographer Brandon Stanton created Humans of New York, a photography blog that has since catalogued more than 6,000 New Yorkers and become a best-selling book.

The blog’s success spawned spinoffs in locations all over the world, and earlier this year, four current MIT students created Humans of MIT, a Facebook page that profiles MIT community members through a single photo and the subject’s own words.

Zachary Abel G

Zachary Abel G

Some portraits discuss the ordinary aspects of MIT life while others veer towards the random, like wearing stilts for the first time.

Some lean towards the inimitable: Health Gould ’14 ponders trying out for the Olympic bobsled team and Lena Yang ’16 describes her custom MIT-themed brass knuckles.

“We created this page to dispel some of the myths about MIT,” says Emad Taliep ’14. “We hope that someone might read it say, ‘I guess I’m not the only one who feels that way.’”

The page, which began on February 17 and now has nearly 2,000 likes, was created by Taliep, Abra Shen ’16, Jenny Wu ’14, and Lawrence Wong G, who are members of Students at MIT Allied for Student Health (SMASH).

“There’s a perception that engineers and scientists are introverts and anti-social—they just go to their room and study,” says Wong. “That’s not true. There’s something unique and special about everyone and that’s reflected here.”

Taliep says the most popular posts have described the stressful aspects of the MIT life, and the perseverance that goes with it.

Lauren Jefferson '14. Image via Humans of MIT.

Lauren Jefferson ’14

Lauren Jefferson ’14:

“It took me a very long time to get to the point where I was comfortable setting my own expectations and following those, instead of following all the other expectations that other people have…But try to set your own expectations. When you have so much pressure around you, follow your own standards. That’s probably the best thing I’ve taken away from MIT.”

New subjects are posted three times per week and future profiles will include members of the MIT administration.

“We hope this really connects with the people of MIT,” Shen says. “We’re showing that you can have a conversation with anyone and everyone has a story.”

Perhaps the best indicator of the page’s success: a parody. The Facebook page Robots of MIT aims to tell the Institute’s stories through the eyes of its robots, “one robot at a time.”

According to its Facebook description, the page (which is not affiliated with Humans of MIT) paints intimate pictures that capture the beauty and vibrancy in every robot’s personal narrative, which includes robot marriage and antagonism from humans.

While the robots depicted are only loosely affiliated with MIT, at least one, CSAIL’s Domo, can be found on campus.


Chuck Vest, MIT president 1990–2004, interviewed by journalist John Hockenberry for the MIT150 celebration.

Chuck Vest, MIT president 1990–2004, reflects on his presidency during the MIT150 celebration.

The powerful leadership of a humble man was a central theme of the March 6 memorial service for Charles M. Vest, MIT’s 15th president. Vest, who died of pancreatic cancer in December, was praised for influential decisions ranging from supporting gender equity to establishing OpenCourseWare, an idea that has sparked a learning revolution.

His bold decisions provide leadership lessons for many of the speakers including Institute and academic leaders, former Vice President Al Gore, and Raymond S. Stata ’57, SM ’58, founder of Analog Devices.

Former MIT presidents Paul Gray ’54, SM ’55 and Susan Hockfield praised Vest’s tireless advocacy in Washington. “As president of the National Academy of Engineers, he continued his role as advocate in chief for sound federal policy for education and research,” Hockfield said.

Al Gore, commenting via video, called Vest a good friend and a “true visionary” who was instrumental in advising the Clinton-Gore White House on emerging science and technology, environmental policy, the design of the space program, and the development of the information superhighway.

“Chuck Vest changed the lives of women scientists and engineers worldwide,” Professor Emeritus of Biology Nancy Hopkins reminded the audience. In 1999 when he endorsed the findings of the MIT report on the Status of Women Faculty in Science, which documented unequal treatment, he asked to write a note with the report.

“Chuck wrote, ‘I’ve always believed that contemporary gender discrimination within universities is part reality and part perception. True, but I now understand that reality is by far the greater part of the balance.’ With his two sentences, Chuck had reached from MIT into the White House and obtained a national mandate from the president of the United States,” Hopkins said.

Ray Stata said Vest profoundly changed campus life for students—and he stayed calm even when decisions were contentious. “Chuck’s mild manner masked his profound sense of purpose and his determination to leave MIT an even greater place that he found it,” Stata noted.

In Stata’s own undergraduate days, “student life was a grim experience in many ways, but it didn’t have to be that way,” Stata said. Vest’s support for the Presidential Task Force on Student Life and Learning resulted in a new policy that required first-year students to live on campus, a policy shift that generated much discussion along with changes in the living groups. “The culture of community emerged from this task force where learning to live and living to learn became inseparable,” Stata said.

That decision also contributed to a wave of new construction, another signature of Vest’s legacy. Graduate and undergraduate residences, new research facilities, department consolidations, and a spacious recreation facility resulted.

Vest’s leadership was also evident in the quality of the buildings, Stata said. “’Why not hire Frank Gehry to build an iconic building to symbolize MIT’s commitment to innovation?’ Vest asked. ‘Why don’t we build a student street where students could mingle, socialize, learn, and collaborate?’ … Aren’t we grateful today that he had the courage and foresight to make such a bold commitment to MIT’s future?”

MIT President L. Rafael Reif said he had come to see Chuck Vest as a teacher and “I have become one of his most committed students.” He quoted Vest’s last president’s report:

“Boldness does not come naturally to me…but there are instances when both institutions and individuals must decide whether or not to strike out in new directions or to seize a moment. Boldness [then]… is a simple application of core values at a critical moment in time.”

Learn more about Vest’s MIT leadership, watch memorial service speakers describe his many contributions to MIT, or view his reflections on his presidency in an MIT150 Infinite History interview by journalist John Hockenberry.


Register for the Mar. 19 webcast.

Update: Watch the March 19 webcast.

Solving the world’s problems is synonymous with MIT. It is a quality that has fired the imaginations of students, faculty, and alumni.

In the March 19 Facutly Forum Online, three current MIT students shared how they are incorporating mens et manus into the 21st century. Public Service Center Dean Sally Susnowitz, alongside current MIT students Laura Stilwell ’14, Sofia Essayan-Perez ’15, and master’s degree candidate Rodrigo Davies, discussed the importance of public service in student life and how their  work is  address crucial global issues. Following their comments, the dean and students took live questions from the worldwide MIT community.

Watch the full webcast then return to Slice and continue the discussion in the comments.

The March 19 webcast is one three special public service-themed Faculty Forums Online, themed “One Community Together in Service,” that coincide with MIT Public Service Center’s 25-year anniversary. The first service-themed webcast, MIT Research at Work in the World, took place on Wednesday, Oct. 23, 2013, and featured Chancellor Eric Grimson PhD ’80, Dean Christine Ortiz, and Dean Sally Susnowitz. Watch the archived webcast.

Sally Susnowitz

Sally Susnowitz

Sally Susnowitz

Sally Susnowitz has served as Director of the MIT Public Service Center (PSC) since 2000. She has co-developed many of the Center’s programs and initiatives, including the MIT IDEAS Global Challenge, which involves hundreds of MIT students in innovative social entrepreneurship each year.

Before MIT, Sally served as Director of the Service Learning Program at the University of Colorado at Boulder, and has spent more than 20 years as a scientific and technical writing teacher at several universities including CU-Boulder, CU-Denver, and the Colorado School of Mines.

Rodrigo Davies G

Rodrigo Davies G

Rodrigo Davies G

Rodrigo Davies—a master’s degree candidate and research assistant at the Center for Civic Media—spent a fellowship in Kansas City, MO, helping non-profit organizations develop fundraising strategies for civic projects that benefit the local community. He helped create a crowdfunding campaign that expanded a Kansas City bike-share scheme and hosted a series of interactive open workshops that helped organizations learn more about community-building strategies.

Davies has presented at South by Southwest, the Library of Congress, and the Federal Reserve. Prior to MIT, he was an advisor to the UK crowdfunding platform Spacehive, co-founded Conde Nast’s digital business in India, and worked as a broadcast journalist at the BBC.

Sofia Essayan-Perez

Sofia Essayan-Perez ’15

Sofia Essayan-Perez ’15

Sofia Essayan-Perez is a brain and cognitive sciences major in with a minor in applied international studies. Her public service work focuses on strengthening math and science education in rural Nicaraguan high schools and she helped create a new approach to teaching math and science, grounded in local health and socioeconomic challenges.

Essayan-Perez has also conducted research on autism at MIT’s Picower Institute, and attended University of California Berkeley as an Amgen scholar and the Pasteur Institute in Paris on an MIT-France internship. She is involved with many MIT community initiatives, including the Experimental Studies Group (ESG), the Office of Minority Education, and the Burchard Scholars Program.

Laura Stilwell

Laura Stilwell ’14

Laura Stilwell ’14

Laura Stilwell is an economics major with minors in biology and public policy. Since 2011, Laura has been involved in GlobeMed at MIT, which works to create a better understanding of global health and provide comprehensive health care services to communities in northern Togo.

In 2015, Laura will work at the Jameel Poverty Action Lab and has future aspirations to work at the intersection of global health, public policy, and economics.

About Faculty Forum Online

Eight times per season, the Faculty Forum Online presents compelling interviews with faculty on timely and relevant topics. Viewers watch and participate in live 30-minute interviews via interactive chat. Since its inception in 2011, archival editions of these programs have been viewed more than 50,000 times.



Kendra Johnson ’09 working on a clean water system in Ecuador.

Kendra Johnson ’09 working on a clean water system.

Guest blogger: Debbie Levey, CEE Technical Writer

Kendra Johnson ’09 graduated from the University of California at San Francisco Medical School last May and began the Family Medicine residency program at Contra Costa Regional Medical Center near Oakland. Four years of MIT experience working on clean water projects in Ecuador deeply influenced her career choice and ultimate goal of practicing medicine in underserved communities.

As first-year students, Johnson and Froylan Sifuentes ’09 decided to work that summer “somewhere in Spanish-speaking South American with green forests. We were thrilled that the Public Service Center’s (PSC) fellowship program would actually pay for our work,” Johnson recalled.

The two chose Santa Ana, Ecuador, an Amazon rainforest village with 35 families, with the goal of completing an unfinished local water treatment and distribution system. Studying independently with CEE lecturer Pete Shanahan ’73, PhD ’82 about filters, pipes and testing water, Kendra said, “It was so much fun to have a real practical reason for learning.”

They also received help from Alison Hynd and Sally Susnowitz in the PSC, CEE lecturer Susan Murcott ’90, SM ’92, and Amy Smith ’84, SM ’95, whose water testing kit incubated bacteria cultures without requiring electricity.

Most people in Santa Ana hauled water from “an awful, dirty river,” said Johnson. Nearby springs turned out to be even worse because they picked up germs from local latrines. “Using Amy’s water testing kit, we showed people how contaminated the water sources were, and we recommended boiling water. These people were always suffering from unsafe water, and the nearest hospital was an hour and a half away.”

Johnson described the faulty water distribution system as “a classic infrastructure problem in a developing country.” Bad design meant that river water never even entered the distribution system. During her multiple visits over four years, “eventually we got the water distribution system working—for about two weeks,” said Johnson.

However, Johnson and the villagers found a far better and cheaper alternative with 550-liter plastic storage tanks for rainwater. “These tanks systems were great! We helped the people to funnel rainwater off their tin roofs into the covered tanks, which sat on elevated platforms. Rainwater doesn’t have human fecal contamination. People loved having control over their own water, and we ended up providing rainwater system to everyone. A group from Santa Ana also helped three other communities build water tanks and taught them about safe water.”

After that first summer in Ecuador, Johnson majored in civil and environmental engineering “because I wanted to learn practical tools to learn practical things and really make a difference. In addition, I really needed to become a doctor to work with communities like this and hopefully incorporate environmental and public health.”

Johnson chose the family medicine residency because “it’s the broadest spectrum training—delivering babies, taking care of all ages, emergency medicine.” She intends to live and work either in South America or in rural, underserved communities in the US.


30_Under_30_newForbes magazine’s annual 30 Under 30 lists aim to highlight the world’s brightest minds who are less than 30 years old. Not surprisingly, MIT alumni are interspersed throughout the lists, which feature 450 under-30s in 15 different categories.

The list-makers—who Forbes calls “founders, funders, brand builders, and do-gooders”—includes 13 MIT10 alums who were recognized in five categories: Education, Energy and Industry, Social Entrepreneurs, Science and Healthcare, and Technology.

Miles_Barr_2Miles Barr SM ’08, PhD ’12 (Energy and Industry)
Cofounder, Ubiquitous Energy

“Barr’s invention allows any surface to become an energy producer without impacting the way it looks.”

Related:Print a Better Solar Cell

Clara_Brenner_newClara Brenner MBA ’12 (Social Entrepreneurs)
Cofounder, Tumml

“Brenner cofounded Tumml, an accelerator that works with early stage startups focused on urban innovation.”

Related:Shaking Things Up For Urban Startups

David_Cohen-Tanugi_newDavid Cohen-Tanugi SM ’ 12  (Energy and Industry)
Doctoral candidate, MIT Department of Materials Science and Engineering

“Cohen-Tanugi works to improve water filtration and desalination. Another project aims to reduce the energy consumption of buildings.”

Related:Wristify—Thermal Comfort via a Wrist Band

collisonPatrick Collison 10 (Technology)
Cofounder, Stripe

“Collison built Stripe, an online payments company that processes billions of dollars a year for thousands of companies in 11 countries.”

Sayamindu_Dasgupta_newSayamindu Dasgupta SM ’12 (Education)
Doctoral candidate, MIT Media Lab

“(Dasgupta) worked with One Laptop Per Child, where he architected a project that allowed kids to read eBooks in their own languages.”

Jacob_DeWitte_newJacob DeWitte SM ’11 (Energy and Industry)
Founder, UPower

“DeWitte’s startup, UPower, is aiming to end that wastefulness by developing a portable nuclear generator. It could, in theory, provide 12 years of energy without needing refueling.”

Mitchell_Guttman_newMitchell Guttman PHD ’12 (Science and Healthcare)
Assistant professor, California Institute of Technology

“Guttman co-discovered a new type of gene,” Forbes says, that makes, “long-non-coding RNA (lncRNA), which seems to play a key role in organizing which genes work.”

Solomon_Hsiang_newSolomon Hsiang ’06 (Law and Policy)
Assistant professor, University of California, Berkeley

“Lead author on the first study to show that global climate likely to have causal effect on global rates of civil conflict.”

Ben_Lamothe_on_right_newBen Lamothe ’06 (Social Entrepreneurs)
Cofounder, Amicus

“Amicus turns volunteers into fundraisers…Organizations have used Amicus to win marriage equality, protect public education, and to fight for economic justice.”

Sophie_Ni_newSophie Ni G (Energy and Industry)
Cofounder, Takachar

“Takachar aims to take organic waste discarded in some of the world’s poorest cities, and transform it into valuable charcoal to be used in home cooking.”

David_Sengeh_newDavid Moinina Sengeh SM ’12 (Technology)
Biomechatronics researcher, MIT Media Lab

“Sengeh has taken on the challenge to design the perfect fit for every prosthetic socket. He’s also the founder of Innovate Salone, a group aiming to inspire innovation in his country.”

Related:Through Research and Innovation, Alum Gives Back to Sierra Leone

Andrew_Sutherland_newAndrew Sutherland ’12 (Education)
Founder, Quizlet

“Founded in 2005 by then 15-year-old Sutherland to study for a French final, Quizlet provides study tools and games to more than 12 million students each month.”

Related:Quizlet—Sophomore Invented Self-Testing Tool

David_Weinberg_newDavid Weinberg PhD ’13 (Science and Healthcare)
Faculty fellow, University of California, San Francisco

“(Weinberg) runs a research lab focused on how cells decide how much of a protein to make.”

Are there any other under-30 alumni that you feel should be nominated? Let us know if comments below or on Facebook or Twitter.

View the entire list of under-30 innovators, which also includes Broad Institute of MIT and Harvard postdoctoral fellow Aleksandar Kostic, at

All photos via Forbes.



As in years passed, Slice of MIT readers enjoyed seeing MIT recognized as a top institution but they also loved the Institute’s unique and curious side, including stories on an alumnus super hero, flying reindeer, a stolen cannon, and a tiny solar-powered houseboat.

Do you have a favorite MIT story from 2013? Let us know in the comments below or on Facebook or Twitter.

  1. After PRISM, Is Too Much Anonymity Possible? Governments have mixed feelings about Tor, software developed by Roger Dingledine ’00, SM ’00.
  2. Life of Pi Sequel to be Filmed at MIT: The film, titled Life of Pi², focusess on a grad student at a post-apocalyptic MIT.
  3. Secrets to the Caltech Cannon Heist Revealed: Members of the Howe & Ser Moving Company spoke publicly about the 2006 hack.
  4. Report Details MIT’s Involvement in Aaron Swartz Case: The 182-page report finds no wrong-doing on the part of MIT.
  5. Who is Iron Man? A blog tracks down details of Tony Stark’s time at MIT in the mid-80s.
  6. Rankings Craze: MIT Scores High: MIT claimed the top spot for an undergraduate engineering program at a doctoral institution.
  7. Hacked! Ender’s Game Crash-Lands at MIT: Fans of the legendary science fiction book series took over Lobby 7 and the front of Bldg. 10.
  8. Memristors—Circuit to Flip the Hardware Industry? You know a technology has arrived when it pops up on a brass rat.
  9. A Tiny House Makes Alum’s Big Dream Come True: Claude von Roesgen ’79 found the perfect summer lake home: a tiny house on a pontoon boat.
  10. Is MIT the Most Romantic Place on Earth? It might be—alums shared their Institute love stories.
  11. Jeopardy Smackdown: MIT Sophomore Enters College Championship Finals: Trevor Walker ’15 won the quarter-final and semi-final on Jeopardy’s college edition.
  12. The Streak Continues—MIT’s Grad Engineering Program again Tops Rankings: MIT’s graduate program in engineering is still the nation’s best.
  13. Are Santa’s Reindeer Used for Propulsion or Navigation? MIT researchers scientifically answer how Santa’s sleigh really flies.



on Dec. 6, Slice highlighted MIT alumni who were nominated for TIME magazine’s Person of the Year. But those alumni nominees weren’t the only MITers honored by the magazine in 2013.

A few months back, TIME announced the 2013 TIME 100, the magazine’s annual list of the 100 most influential people throughout the past calendar year. According to TIME, entrants are recognized for changing and affecting the world—in a positive or negative way.

Three MIT alumni made this year’s list and Slice is proud to announce that each had a positive effect on the world in 2013.

Image via TIME

Image via TIME

Mario Draghi PhD ’77

As president of the European Central Bank, Draghi oversees the world’s largest single-currency area and is responsible for leading the European banking system towards an economic recovery.

“After 18 months at the helm of the Frankfurt institution, Mario has reshaped the bank. His down-to-earth approach and keen sense of humor conceal a formidable will and the courage to take on skeptics for the good of the currency — and the continent.”

Image via TIME

Image via TIME

Katherine Luzuriaga ’78, SM ’80

Luzuriaga is an immunologist from the University of Massachusetts who, according to the magazine, is one of three women responsible orchestrating a medical breakthrough that functionally cured a newborn of AIDS.

Luzuriaga was named to the list alongside Hannah Gay, a pediatrician at the University of Mississippi, and Deborah Persaud, a virologist at Johns Hopkins Children’s Center.

“There’s even hope that adults may benefit from the same rapid treatment immediately after HIV infection. Following the success with the newborn, another study reported that 14 more patients have been able to control HIV. These findings show that early HIV treatment has even greater benefits than previously thought.”

Image via TIME

Image via TIME

Andrew Ng SM ’98

Ng, the director of the Stanford University AI Lab, cofound Coursera, the educational technology company that partners with universities to offer massive open online courses (MOOCs). He was named to the list with Coursera cofounder and Stanford Professor Daphne Koller.

“Coursera recruited elite schools and top professors, offers a range of courses beyond computer science and built a platform with enough bandwidth to reach a global audience. Daphne and Andrew’s energy and devotion to try to educate the world is terrific.”

In 2012, five members of the TIME 100 had MIT connections: Draghi; educational pioneer Sal Khan ’98, MEng ’98; Professor Andrew Lo; Benjamin Netanyahu ’75, SM ’76; and Professor Donald Sadoway.

What’s your take? Are there other MIT alumni—or anyone else—who should have been named to the TIME 100? And which alums should be named to the 2014 list? Let us know in the comments below or on Facebook and Twitter.


Paul Walker PhD ’78 spent Thanksgiving day en route to Scandinavia, where he will have an exciting two weeks.

On Tuesday afternoon, he’ll be honored at the Swedish Parliament building with the Right Livelihood Award, which honors individuals “offering practical and exemplary answers to the most urgent challenges” facing the world.

The Right Livelihood Foundation, which will bestow half a million krona upon Walker’s organization Green Cross International, lauds him for his lifelong crusade to rid the world of chemical weapons.

Paul Walker PhD '78. Photo: Green Cross.

Paul Walker PhD ’78.
Photo: GCI.

A week after that appearance in Stockholm, Walker will join his colleagues from the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons in Oslo for the awarding of the Nobel Peace Prize. This year’s prize honors OPCW, which Walker advocated for creating in 1997 and to whose convention and diplomacy he has been a noted contributor.

“I am honored to receive the Right Livelihood Award, and to see the OPCW so recognized with the Nobel,” Walker said earlier this week, “but it’s this new public attention to building a world free of chemical weapons which will carry the day.”

Walker’s name has become synonymous with demilitarization in the past three decades. He has been outspoken this fall about Syria’s chemical weapons disarmament after the deadly August attack near Damascus, and he has been on site for several inspections over the years in other nations. Walker’s citation for the Right Livelihood Award credits him with leading elimination efforts of over 55,000 metric tons of chemical weapons over the years.

While the United States and Russia still hold the largest stockpiles of chemical weapons, Walker is also concerned about Angola, Egypt, Israel, Myanmar, North Korea, and South Sudan, the six nations that have yet to ratify OPCW’s convention.

Walker, who lives in Washington, leads Green Cross’s advocacy in the United States, supporting green housing, clean water, and alternative energy initiatives.  Founded by former Russian president Mikhail Gorbachev, Green Cross International also works on environmental disaster readiness, mine safety, and air and water pollution crises in developing nations.

While abroad this month, Walker will continue his work in helping advise authorities on Syria’s promised disposal of chemical weapons, though as he told the New Yorker, it won’t be easy. Finding a European country to take in and help dispose of many of the weapons is his utmost concern at present.

But in the next two weeks, Walker will have time to reflect on the work behind him and celebrate how far his efforts have brought him and the world. Both awards, he says, are an important acknowledgement of that.

“This success will demonstrate that we can indeed eliminate a whole class of weapons of mass destruction today,” says Walker, “and also verify that chemical weapons will never again reemerge. This is an enormous breakthrough in global security for all humankind.”


Lola Ball '91, SM '82

Lola Ball ’91, SM ’92

When Lola Ball ’91, SM ’92 was growing up in Brooklyn, the tight city living never allowed for a dog. But after graduating from MIT and moving to Colorado, she got a Chocolate Lab, Porter, and immediately fell in love. A second Lab, Scooby, followed shortly after.

But when Porter was diagnosed with cancer in early 2008, Ball felt overwhelmed, unprepared, and unsure of the best course of action. “It wasn’t something I ever expected,” she says. “There isn’t a single pet owner I’ve met that was ready for it.”

The cancer was located near many of Porter’s organs and surgery and chemotherapy were not an option. Ball settled on one goal: Make Porter as comfortable as possible.

“It’s hard to know the right thing to do,” she says. “I was open to anything—acupuncture, animal massage, and holistic therapy. The only thing was to give him the best quality of life. I was essentially doing hospice care.”

Porter died a few months after his diagnosis. Ball was overwhelmed by the experience.

“I didn’t want anyone to go through the trial-and-error I went through,” she says. “I became very passionate about sharing my message.”

Lola_2Her book, When Your Dog Has Cancer—Making the Right Decisions for You and Your Dog, was published earlier this year. Ball says the book includes an end-of-life plan and hospice tool kit that can help any canine owner through the dying experience.

“It’s hard to make sense of what’s best for you and your family,” she says. “No two dogs will ever have the exact same situation. It’s a vast continuum that ranges from standard cancer treatments like chemotherapy to hospice, natural dying, and euthanizing options.

Ball, now living in Washington, wrote the book while working full-time as a program manager at Microsoft. While canine cancer may seem worlds apart from the rigidity of programming, Ball says she applied an engineering mentality to writing the book and chronicling Porter’s experience.

“In engineering, it’s about knowing your facts,” she says. “You take a logical approach. What are the conditions and requirements? Similar to caring for a dog, you dissect what you’re faced with and the pros and cons will dictate your decision.”

In 2009, Ball adopted Jasper, a Labrador Retriever-Hound mix, from Pasado’s Safe Haven, an animal sanctuary near Seattle. About a year later, Jasper was diagnosed with cancer and Ball relied on her experiences with Porter to navigate Jasper’s final months.

“The second experience was much smoother,” she says. “I knew more about the dying process. Being prepared helps make the experience a little less awful.”

Today, Ball’s home includes Scooby, now 13, and Apollo, 3, a Springer Spaniel-Rottweiler mix who was born on the day that Jasper died. She is a founding member and board member on AHELP (Animal Hospice End of Life Project).

“At the end of your pet’s life, it’s about giving them more good days than bad days,” she says. “As pet owners, we can take responsibility to make their treatment the best possible.”

Read more about When Your Dog Has Cancer—Making the Right Decisions for You and Your Dog.