Three new career development chairs appointed within EECS

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L to R: Chen, Yan, Ragan-Kelley

This summer has seen three new career development chairs appointed within the EECS faculty. We congratulate Kevin Chen, Jonathan Ragan-Kelley, and Mengjia Yan on their achievements; you can learn more about the new chairs below.

YuFeng (Kevin) Chen, an assistant professor of EECS since January 2020, has been named the D. Reid Weedon, Jr. ’41 Career Development Professor. Kevin received his PhD in engineering science from Harvard and his BS in applied physics from Cornell. He did postdoctoral research at Harvard, leading to the development of small robots that are highly agile, multifunctional, and robust. Kevin focuses specifically on millimeter-scale robots, which have application for search and rescue, environmental exploration, and so on. In addition, these millimeter-scale microrobots have the potential to perform tasks (e.g., perching, walking on the surface of water, etc) that are difficult for traditional robots by exploiting the dominant physics (electrostatics, surface tension) at the millimeter scale. His work has appeared in top journals including Science Robotics, Nature, and Nature Communications, among others.

He has been a Forbes 30 Under 30 fellow. He investigates millimeter-scaled biomechanics, distilling the underlying physical principles, and then applies these findings to enable novel functions in microrobots. He is also interested in developing novel soft actuators to enable agile and robust locomotion in microrobots.

The chair was established by a bequest from D. Reid and Barbara J. Weedon and is a wonderful expression of our gratitude for their dedication to the Institute.

Jonathan Ragan-Kelley, an assistant professor of EECS since January 2020, has been named the Esther and Harold E. Edgerton Career Development Assistant Professor. Jonathan received a PhD and an SM in EECS from MIT and a BS in computer science from Stanford University. His research focuses on computer graphics, compilers, domain-specific languages, and high-performance systems. Jonathan’s best-known work is the computer graphics language Halide, which has become the industry-standard language for image processing. His earlier work, on the language Lightspeed, was used in producing many movies, and was even a finalist for a technical Oscar award

Among other honors, he has received research highlights in the Communications of the Association for Computing Machinery (CACM) journal, an Intel Foundation PhD Fellowship, an NVIDIA Graduate Fellowship, an NSF Fellowship, and MIT’s William A. Martin Award for Best Master’s Thesis in Computer Science. Prior to MIT, Jonathan was an assistant professor at the University of California at Berkeley. He was a postdoc at Stanford, and has been a researcher, intern, or consultant for Google, Adobe, and Intel, among others.

The Edgerton Professorships were established in 1973 by the MIT Corporation to honor the late Professor and Mrs. Harold E. Edgerton. The Edgertons were a source of friendship and encouragement to students and young faculty members for more than half a century.

Mengjia Yan, an assistant professor of EECS since November 2019, has received the Homer A. Burnell Career Development Professorship. Mengjia received a PhD and an MS in computer science from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign (UIUC) and a BS in computer science from Zhejiang University in China. Her research interests are in computer architecture, focusing on hardware support for security. Her research vision is to rethink computer architecture from the ground-up for security. She has proposed the first comprehensive hardware defense solution against speculative execution attacks in multiprocessor cache hierarchies. This design, called InvisiSpec, makes speculative execution invisible. As a graduate student she proposed the InvisiSpec to Intel, and received a three-year-long Intel Strategic Research Alliance (ISRA) Award.

Among other honors, she was a selected participant for Rising Stars in EECS at MIT and for Rising Stars in Computer Architecture at the Georgia Institute of Technology in 2018. At UIUC, she was a Mavis Future Faculty Fellow, a distinction awarded to students planning careers as engineering professors, and she received the W.J. Poppelbaum Memorial Award for architecture design creativity. She also served as a research intern for the NVIDIA Architecture Research Group.

This Professorship was made possible from the bequest of Homer A. Burnell (1928) to support a junior faculty member.

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