The 2024 MIT Japan Conference will feature future trends of research at MIT and highlight advances in key areas, including autonomous vehicle navigation, chemical engineering, the Chinese economy, energy storage and conversion, healthcare technologies, and materials science.
Attendees will have the opportunity for continued in-depth discussions with faculty speakers and MIT Startup Exchange startup companies during both lunch and an evening networking reception.
The registration is only for IN-PERSON participants. While there will be NO live streaming for this event, archived video recordings will be available to ILP members after the conference.
Steve Palmer is a Director within MIT’s Office of Corporate Relations. Steven comes to OCR with many years of experience building relationships, advancing diplomacy, and seeking new business initiatives in both the public and private sectors. He has spent his career highlighting and translating technological issues for policy makers, engineers, analysts, and business leaders. Steven has worked in government, industry, and academia in the U.S. and abroad. He is also an Executive Coach at MIT Sloan and Harvard Business School. Steven earned his Bachelor of Science at Northeastern University, and his M.B.A. at MIT Sloan where he was in the Fellows Program for Innovation and Global Leadership.
John Sterman is the Jay W. Forrester Professor of Management at the MIT Sloan School of Management, Professor in MIT’s Institute for Data, Systems and Society, and faculty director of the MIT System Dynamics Group and the MIT Sloan Sustainability Initiative.
Prof. Sterman has published approximately 200 works spanning corporate strategy and operations, energy policy, public health, and climate change. Author of award-winning books and papers, he pioneered the development of interactive “management flight simulators” of corporate and economic systems, which are used by governments, corporations, and universities around the world. These include the ReThink Health initiative and health policy simulator and, through the MIT Climate Pathways Project, in partnership with the non-profit, Climate Interactive, the C-ROADS and En-ROADS climate policy simulations, which have been used by policymakers, negotiators, business and civil society leaders, educators, and the public around the world.
Prof. Sterman is an elected fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Science, has been recognized for his work with an honorary doctorate, and has been recognized with numerous other honors, including eight awards for teaching excellence at MIT. His work is often featured in the media, from the New York Times, Washington Post, and National Public Radio to China’s CGTN. Prof. Sterman holds an AB in engineering and environmental systems from Dartmouth College and a PhD in system dynamics from MIT.
Prof. Sterman holds an AB in engineering and environmental systems from Dartmouth College and a PhD in system dynamics from MIT.
Bethany Patten is a Senior Lecturer and Director of Policy and Engagement at the MIT Sloan Sustainability Initiative. Her work centers on the translation of academic research into real-world impact in business, policy, and civil society. Specifically, she examines how institutions can best practice ethical political engagement, connecting with and educating leaders ranging from MIT graduate students to C-suite executives to members of the United States Congress.
At the Sustainability Initiative, she co-created and directs the MIT Climate Pathways Project which brings together faculty, staff, and researchers to advance the adoption of evidence-based climate policy through top tier decision-makers. The project, which leverages interactive simulations like the En-ROADS climate action simulation, has engaged with 4300+ global leaders in government, NGOs, business, and academia.
As an MIT Sloan faculty member, she teaches the action-learning-based course Sustainable Business Lab (‘S-Lab’) and in several MIT Sloan Executive Education courses. Elsewhere at MIT, she is a member of the MIT Climate Policy Working Group and sits on the MIT Sloan School of Management’s Faculty DEI Committee.
Beyond MIT, Bethany is a board member and treasurer for the Environmental League of Massachusetts, a board member of the Climate Beacon Project, and served as president of Boston’s Bay Village Neighborhood Association. Prior to MIT, Bethany worked for more than a decade in business and financial operations in the book publishing industry. She holds an MBA from the MIT Sloan School of Management, a MPA at the John F. Kennedy School of Government at Harvard University, and a BA from Boston College.
The climate crisis is growing worse even as efforts to replace fossil fuels with clean, renewable energy accelerate. How can the world limit global warming and build a more prosperous, healthy, equitable, and sustainable world? In this interactive session, we’ll use the En-ROADS climate policy simulation model developed by the MIT Sloan Sustainability Initiative and the not-for-profit think tank Climate Interactive. En-ROADS has been used by over 200,000 people in 130 nations, including more than 6500 senior leaders around the world in government, business, investing, and civil society. En-ROADS enables you to try a wide range of policies and actions to cut greenhouse gas emissions and immediately see their likely impacts on global warming, sea level rise, ocean acidification, air pollution, and economic growth. You will have a chance to explore which policies have high potential to cut emissions and limit the harms from climate change, which proposed solutions have low impact, and discuss what we all can do to make a difference in time and create a safer future for ourselves and our children.
Yang Shao-Horn is a JR EAST Professor of Engineering and faculty member in the Department of Mechanical Engineering, Department of Materials Science and Engineering, and the Research Laboratory of Electronics at MIT. Her research is centered on physical/material chemistry to understand kinetics and dynamics in enabling energy storage and making chemicals and fuels.
Professor Shao-Horn is a scientist and Entrepreneur in electrochemical science and engineering, among the top most cited female chemists in the world, focusing on clean energy solutions. She has advised 100+ students and postdocs at MIT who are now pursuing successful careers in the industry, including Tesla, Amazon, and Apple, startups, and academia (~40) for the US, Europe, and Asia.
Professor Shao-Horn is a member of the National Academy of Engineering and a fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Science, the Electrochemical Society, the National Academy of Inventors and the International Society of Electrochemistry. Her work has been recognized by the Faraday Medal of the Royal Society of Chemistry, the Dr. Karl Wamsler Innovation Award , and the Hans Fischer Senior Fellowship from the Technical University of Munich, and the Humbolt Prize in Chemistry from the Alexander von Humboldt Foundation. She has co-founded startups on batteries, and serves on the boards of public and private organizations including the Pioneer Center for Accelerating P2X Materials Discovery (CAPeX) (Denmark), Fritz Haber Institute of Max Plank Society (Germany) and Wallenberg Initiative Materials Science for Sustainability (Sweden).
Professor Yang Shao-Horn will discuss fundamental processes and challenges underpinning electrochemical reactions and how they catalyze the opportunities and development of cutting-edge technologies that convert electrical energy to chemical energy or vice versa for climate actions.
Kristala Jones Prather is the Arthur D. Little Professor and Head of MIT Department of Chemical Engineering. She received an S.B. degree from MIT in 1994 and a Ph.D. from the University of California, Berkeley (1999), and worked four years in BioProcess Research and Development at the Merck Research Labs prior to joining the faculty of MIT.
Her research interests are centered on the design and assembly of recombinant microorganisms for the production of small molecules, with additional efforts in novel bioprocess design approaches. Prather is the recipient of an Office of Naval Research Young Investigator Award (2005), a Technology Review “TR35” Young Innovator Award (2007), a National Science Foundation CAREER Award (2010), the Biochemical Engineering Journal Young Investigator Award (2011), and the Charles Thom Award of the Society for Industrial Microbiology and Biotechnology (2017).
Additional honors include selection as the Van Ness Lecturer at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute (2012), and as a Fellow of the Radcliffe Institute for Advanced Study (2014-2015). Prather has been recognized for excellence in teaching with the C. Michael Mohr Outstanding Faculty Award for Undergraduate Teaching in the Dept. of Chemical Engineering (2006, 2016), the MIT School of Engineering Junior Bose Award for Excellence in Teaching (2010), and through appointment as a MacVicar Faculty Fellow (2014), the highest honor given for undergraduate teaching at MIT.
Biological systems have the potential to produce a wide array of compounds with uses that include fuels, materials, bulk chemicals, and pharmaceuticals. Our group is focused on applying principles from metabolic engineering and biocatalysis toward the design and construction of novel biosynthetic pathways for specified target compounds. This “retro-biosynthetic design” approach is aided by advancements in the development of new tools under the umbrella of synthetic biology that facilitate the re-engineering of biological systems. As new pathways are designed and constructed, typical challenges such as low product yields and titers can hamper the development of commercially relevant processes. The sheer volume of chemicals that ultimately need to be produced also requires the use of a broader range of feedstocks than those traditionally employed in bioprocesses. In this talk, Professor Prather will review her group’s sustained efforts to both produce novel compounds through biological synthesis and develop strategies to address the inherent limitations.
Ariadna Rodenstein is a Program Manager at MIT Startup Exchange. She joined MIT Corporate Relations as an Events Leader in September 2019 and is responsible for designing and executing startup events, including content development, coaching and hosting, and logistics. Ms. Rodenstein works closely with the Industrial Liaison Program (ILP) in promoting collaboration and partnerships between MIT-connected startups and industry, as well as with other areas around the MIT innovation ecosystem and beyond.
Prior to working for MIT Corporate Relations, she worked for over a decade at Credit Suisse Group in New York and London, in a few different roles in event management and as Director of Client Strategy. Ms. Rodenstein has combined her experience in the private sector with work at non-profits as a Consultant and Development Director at New York Immigration Coalition, Immigrant Defense Project, and Americas Society/Council of the Americas. She also served as an Officer on the Board of Directors of the Riverside Clay Tennis Association in New York for several years. Additionally, she earned her B.A. in Political Science and Communications from New York University, with coursework at the Instituto Tecnológico y de Estudios Superiores de Monterrey in Mexico City, and her M.A. in Sociology from the City University of New York.
Dr. Francesco Benedetti is a Co-Founder and serves as Chief Executive Officer at Osmoses. He earned his Ph.D. in chemical engineering from the University of Bologna, Italy, and worked as a Postdoctoral Associate at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. Benedetti received the MIT Energy Fellowship, the Activate Fellowship, and was an NSF I-Corps Entrepreneurial Lead in 2021. Osmoses develops and commercializes clean solutions to reduce energy consumption and carbon emissions associated with industrial gas separation processes. Osmoses won the MIT $100k Entrepreneurship Competition, the Cleantech Open Northeast Accelerator, the Carbon Sequestration Prize, The Eddies, and completed the Carbon 2 Value program. Osmoses is funded by top venture capital firms, including The Engine, Energy Capital Ventures, and Fine Structure Ventures, and supported by state and federal government organizations such as DOE, ARPA-E, MassCEC, and NYSERDA.
Kenny Jensen, Ph.D. studied physics in undergrad at MIT and then in graduate school at U.C. Berkeley. His career since then has been focused on control systems, autonomy, and electric vehicles. He led the flight controls team at Makani, an ARPA-e and Google[X] project to harness wind power using autonomous drones. There he developed the control system for a 2 ton, 26 m span drone that was capable of generating 600 kW from the wind. After Makani, he lead the vehicle controls team at Uber ATG, on the autonomous truck project. There he developed a safety critical control system that was able to drive fully-loaded semitrucks with no input from the operator for hundreds of miles. More recently, he led the flight controls team at Kittyhawk on the Heaviside project, a single passenger e-VTOL aircraft that hovers like a helicopter but flies like a normal aircraft. These past experiences with controls and autonomy are the perfect backdrop for his role as CTO of Navier, where he's working to transform maritime mobility with Navier's autonomous, electric, hydrofoil boats.
Jeanne Pidoux is part of the Active Surfaces' team. She is a dynamic leader with experience spanning management consulting, business operations, and community engagement. She joined Active Surfaces in the Spring 2023 and is supporting the team on a wide variety of topics, including operations, strategy and business development.
Active Surfaces was born at MIT in 2022 after a decade of research, and won the MIT $100K Entrepreneurship Competition in 2023 and the Harvard Climate Symp Pitch Comp, and has gained significant traction in the past few months. Three things that Jeanne loves about Active Surfaces: the dynamic and inspiring team, led by Dr. Richard Swartwout (MIT PhD) and Shiv Bhakta (MIT MBA/MA, Forbes 30 under 30 - Energy, US), whom she both met at MIT; the technology - an ultralight flexible solar thin-film that is breakthrough and innovative; the motivating challenges of an MIT start-up on a path to pilot and scale that is constantly fueling her problem solving mindset.
Jeanne previously worked as a Project Leader at Boston Consulting Group, managing teams and client engagements across industries including retail, manufacturing, and automotive where she led operations optimization projects. She is passionate about operational excellence and currently serves as the co-president of MIT Sloan Operations Management Club.
Jeanne is based in Cambridge, MA. She is originally from France and lived in Canada and Vietnam before moving to the US with her family.
Cameron Halliday is co-founder and CEO of Mantel, a carbon capture start-up based in Boston. Before starting Mantel Cameron earned his PhD in Chemical Engineering from MIT and his MBA from MIT Sloan. He is a Breakthrough Energy Fellow and a member of the 2023 Forbes 30 Under 30 Energy Class. Previously, Cameron worked in a variety of roles at the forefront of climate and energy at Shell (new energies group), EGA (Emirati aluminum producer), BCG (management consulting), and ABB (process safety consulting). Originally from the United Kingdom, Cameron earned a Master’s Degree in Chemical Engineering from Loughborough University.
Joshua Passantino is an electrochemist at Nth Cycle, a metal refining company that has developed technology to enable a clean, domestic, and streamlined supply of critical minerals for the clean energy transition. Dr. Passantino leverages years of experience working on sustainable technology and materials in many of America’s top research labs, where he developed robust electrochemistry and surface chemistry background knowledge.
Prior to joining the Nth Cycle team in 2022, Dr. Passantino was a PhD student in Chemical and Biomolecular Engineering at Vanderbilt University as an NSF Graduate Research Fellowship Program fellow. He also spent time as a research fellow at the National Institute of Standards and Technology. Dr. Passantino received his PhD in chemical engineering from Vanderbilt in 2022 after receiving three bachelor's degrees in chemical engineering, biosystems engineering, and Spanish from Auburn University in 2017, where he was selected as the Samuel Ginn College of Engineering Outstanding Student of the Year in 2016. Dr. Passantino was recognized as a finalist for a Nashville Emerging Leaders Award in 2019 and served as president for the Vanderbilt Graduate Student Council for two terms from 2020-2022.
Nth Cycle is based in Burlington, Massachusetts, and is supported by a world-class team of investors including Clean Energy Ventures, VoLo Earth Venture Fund, the Department of Energy, and Elemental Excelerator.
Jacob E. Grose, Ph.D., is the CEO and Co-Founder of Copernic Catalysts, a Boston-based startup using computational modeling to develop proprietary chemical catalysts for ammonia and e-fuel synthesis. Prior to founding Copernic, Dr. Grose was an Investment Manager for BASF Venture Capital. In this role, he led BASF’s Boston office, sourcing and managing investments related to current and future businesses of BASF. He has worked at the intersection of chemistry and entrepreneurship for over a decade and interacted with multiple startups in a variety of roles at BASF and Lux Research. Dr. Grose received his Ph.D. in physics from Cornell University and his B.A. in physics from Harvard University.
Peter Godart, PhD is the co-founder and CEO of Found Energy, an MIT spinout commercializing breakthrough technology that turns aluminum into fuel for generating low-cost, clean hydrogen on demand. He holds BSc degrees in mechanical and electrical engineering and an MSc and PhD in mechanical engineering from MIT. After earning his bachelor’s degree in 2015, Dr. Godart spent two years as a research scientist at the NASA Jet Propulsion Laboratory (347G), where he worked daily operations for the Mars Science Laboratory (“Curiosity”), qualified hardware for the Mars 2020 Rover (“Perseverance”), and led a research team in the exploring aluminum-based fuel for potential Europa lander applications. For his doctoral work, Dr. Godart developed new ways of extracting energy from aluminum waste to power electricity generation and seawater desalination in the aftermath of natural disasters, laying the groundwork for his company. Dr. Godart is also an avid educator and writer, and his first book Thermodynamics and ClimateChange is available on MIT Opencourseware.
Stephanie Young is Head of Product at Ikigai. She holds four degrees from Stanford including a Bachelors in Bioengineering, a Masters in Computer Science and an MBA from the Graduate School of Business. Before Ikigai she founded Riva, a company building AI bots to help people negotiate job offers (Riva was acquired by Teal in 2022). She previously held positions at Google, Lyft, McKinsey, and in early-stage VC.
Ho-Jun completed his Medical Engineering/Medical Physics Ph.D. in the Harvard/MIT Division of Health Sciences and Technology, working on robotic technologies for automated patch clamp recordings in vivo. He received the B.S. and M.S. degrees in Electrical and Computer Engineering from Cornell and University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign respectively. Now he works on novel treatment strategies for Alzheimer’s disease, working between the labs of Professor Li-Huei Tsai and Professor Ed Boyden, as a postdoctoral scholar.
Will Pierce serves as Director of Automation at Cache DNA, a San Francisco-based company building room-temperature nucleic acid storage technologies. He works at the interface of biochemistry, robotics, and software, developing laboratory automation and informatics solutions to facilitate nucleic acid storage at scale.
Prior to joining Cache, Will gained specialized automation and software engineering experience through roles at biotech companies, including Editas Medicine and LifeMine Therapeutics. He has automated a diverse range of laboratory processes, including high-throughput CRISPR screening for drug discovery, iPSC cloning for cell therapy manufacturing, and bioanalytical assays for clinical trial samples.
Will has contributed to molecular biology research in Prof. Joseph Avruch’s lab at Harvard Medical School/MGH and holds a BSc in Biology from Loyola University Chicago.
Lavi Erisson, a physician-scientist-entrepreneur, is the co-founder and CEO of Gensaic, an MIT spinout delivering targeted genomic medicines through its ML-powered protein evolution platform. Lavi was previously Chief Medical and Head of Business Development at IterativeHealth, another MIT spinout, where he led clinical development to successful clearance of its flagship product, Skout (TM), and signed R&D collaborations with Eli-Lilly, Pfizer, and Janssen.
Earlier in his career, Lavi held various leadership roles at Teva Pharmaceuticals, clinically translating over 10 novel assets from lead candidates through first-in-patient and investing over $300 M through Teva's corporate venture group. Lavi is a passionate global health advocate,volunteering as a physician in refugee camps along the border of Thailand and Myanmar, as wellas advising Israel's ministry for foreign trade on bi-national R&D funds. Lavi received hisMedicalDegree and Public-Policy degree, Summa Cum Laude, from Tel-Aviv University. He later earnedan MBA from MIT Sloan, where he was a Sloan Fellow.
Yasheng Huang is the International Program Professor in Chinese Economy and Business and a Professor of Global Economics and Management at the MIT Sloan School of Management.
Professor Huang founded and runs the China Lab and the India Lab, which aim to help entrepreneurs in those countries improve their management skills. He is an expert source on international business, political economy, and international management. In collaboration with other scholars, Huang is conducting research on human capital formation in China and India, entrepreneurship, and ethnic and labor-intensive foreign direct investment (FDI). Prior to MIT Sloan, he held faculty positions at the University of Michigan and at Harvard Business School. Huang also served as a consultant to the World Bank.
His research has been profiled in many publications, including TheWall Street Journal,The Economist, Businessworld, Le Monde, the Economic Times, as well as in numerous Chinese publications. He also has contributed to the Financial Times, The New York Times, and Foreign Policy. Huang’s published books include Inflation and Investment Controls in China (1996), FDI in China (1998), Selling China (2003), and Financial Reform in China (2005, co-edited with Tony Saich and Edward Steinfeld). His most recent book, Capitalism with Chinese Characteristics (2008), is based on detailed archival and quantitative evidence spanning three decades of reforms. Huang shows that private entrepreneurship, facilitated by financial liberalization and microeconomic flexibility, played a central role in China’s economic miracle.
Huang has held or received prestigious fellowships, such as the National Fellowship at Stanford University and the Social Science Research Council-MacArthur Fellowship. He is a member of the Trust Center for MIT Entrepreneurship, a Fellow at the Center for Chinese Economic Research and the Center for China in the World Economy at Tsinghua University, a Fellow at the William Davidson Institute at Michigan Business School, and a World Economic Forum Fellow.
Huang holds a B.A. in government from Harvard College and a Ph.D. in government from Harvard University. He was appointed a full professor on July 1, 2009.
After more than 40 years of robust growth, the Chinese economy is now entering into a new era of substantial uncertainty. One source of uncertainty is the direction of the Chinese government’s policy and reform agenda. Professor Huang will give a lecture on some of the key dynamics in the Chinese economy, and he will draw from his recently released book.
Professor Jeremiah Johnson conducted undergraduate research with Prof. Karen L. Wooley at Washington University in St. Louis where he received a B.S. in biomedical engineering with a second major in chemistry. He then received a PhD in chemistry at Columbia University under the mentorship of Prof. Nicholas J. Turro and Prof. Jeffrey T. Koberstein. In 2011, following a Beckman Postdoctoral Fellowship at California Institute of Technology under the guidance of Professors David A. Tirrell and Robert H. Grubbs, he moved to MIT where he is now a Professor of Chemistry. He is also a member of the MIT Program for Polymers and Soft Matter (PPSM), the Koch Institute for Integrative Cancer Research, and the Broad Institute of MIT & Harvard. He is a Co-Founder of Window Therapeutics Inc. and Electrolyte Solutions Inc., both of which are based on technologies (co)developed by his laboratory at MIT.
Jeremiah received a 2019 ACS Cope Scholar Award, the 2018 Macromolecules-Biomacromolecules Young Investigator Award, the 2018 Nobel Laureate Signature Award for Graduate Education, a Sloan Research Fellowship, the Air Force Young Investigator Award, the Thieme Journal Award for Young Faculty, the DuPont Young Professor Award, the 3M Non-tenured Faculty Award, and an NSF CAREER award. In 2019 and 2023 he was named as a Finalist for the Blavatnik Award for Young Scientists. In recognition of his teaching, he was awarded the 2018 MIT School of Science Undergraduate Teaching Prize. The Johnson research group is focused on the development of methods and strategies for macromolecular synthesis and surface functionalization.
Solving global challenges such as renewable energy storage, plastics accumulation, and cancer requires new methods and strategies for chemical synthesis. This talk will highlight our efforts to design, synthesize, and discover new (macro)molecules to address these challenges. First, the invention of electrolytes for next-generation, high-energy-density batteries, and the construction of a high-throughput tool for closed-loop discovery of such materials, will be described. Then, a novel molecular strategy for circularizing the life cycles of intractable thermoplastics, high-performance engineering thermosets, and composites will be introduced. Finally, a new platform for dual-targeted antibody–drug conjugates (ADCs) that significantly expands the payloads and mechanisms of action available to targeted cancer therapies will be discussed
Dr. Qin (Maggie) Qi is the James R. Mares ’24 Career Development Chair Assistant Professor in Chemical Engineering at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. Her research applies fluid mechanics and transport principles to engineer soft materials for medical applications. She received her Ph.D. in chemical engineering with Prof. Eric Shaqfeh at Stanford University in 2018, where she won the T.S. Lo Fellowship and Stanford Graduate Fellowship. There, she also collaborated with the Royal College of Surgeons and BD Biosciences to develop a diagnostic device for various bleeding disorders. She then conducted postdoctoral research with Prof. Samir Mitragotri at the Wyss Institute of Biologically Inspired Engineering at Harvard University, where she developed a subcutaneous-tissue-on-a-chip model for pharmacokinetic testing (licensed to Sanofi). She was elected to the inaugural class of MIT Rising Stars in Chemical Engineering. She recently received the FY23 MIT research support committee award and was named a Science Influencer Mentor sponsored by the FDA.
Microscopic flows in a biological environment play a remarkable role in regulating human health, from disease causes to driving forces behind diagnostics and therapeutics. Its influence on other living organisms also has far-reaching impact in energy and environment. Such flow-induced dynamic effects, however, are often overlooked in engineering designs due to limitations in existing research toolsets. As a result, conventional biological and medical research face various challenges in accuracy, cost and translational success. In this talk, I will present our group’s work on applying fluid mechanics principles to design biomaterials, cell therapies and pharmacological models. We develop both experimental (in vitro) and computational tools mimicking a dynamic biological flow environment. The combination of these new tools enables us to reduce the use of animal models and shorten the preclinical research timeline while achieving tailor-made design outcomes towards precision medicine.
Jonathan P. How is the Richard C. Maclaurin Professor of Aeronautics and Astronautics at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. He received a B.A.Sc. from the University of Toronto in 1987, and his S.M. and Ph.D. from MIT in 1990 and 1993, respectively. Prior to joining MIT in 2000, he was an assistant professor at Stanford University. He was the editor-in-chief of the IEEE Control Systems Magazine (2015-19) and was elected to the Board of Governors of the IEEE Control System Society in 2019. His research focuses on robust planning and learning under uncertainty, with an emphasis on multiagent systems. He is a Fellow of IEEE and AIAA and was elected to the National Academy of Engineering in 2021.
Real-world, large-scale deployment of autonomous systems in GNSS-denied environments demands efficient sensing, planning, and control under uncertainty. While vision-based data is a valuable source of information, perceptual uncertainties and constraints—such as limited fields-of-view and onboard computational/communication limits — need careful algorithmic consideration. In this talk, we present strategies to address these issues in control, planning, and localization. First, we present an efficient way to train fast vision-based neural networks for control via imitation learning and data augmentation. Our method uses Neural Radiance Fields to generate extra training data, and properties of a robust controller to guide the selection of extra data that account for uncertainties. Second, we present PUMA, an imitation learning-based uncertainty- and perception-aware multi-agent trajectory planner. PUMA accounts for the uncertainty arising from state estimation drifts caused by onboard sensing systems and from imperfect onboard detections of surrounding dynamic obstacles. Finally, we discuss a simultaneous mapping and localization (SLAM) approach that leverages local graphs of landmarks to build both a local and global map. We employ an image segmentation-based pipeline that provides sparse representation of the environment, enabling computationally and communication-efficient re-localization by one or multiple agents. We evaluate these algorithms on both real and simulated aerial vehicles, including a novel insect-scale soft robot.
Gang Chen is the Carl Richard Soderberg Professor of Power Engineering at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT). He served as the Department Head of the Department of Mechanical Engineering at MIT from 2013 to 2018. He obtained his PhD degree from the Mechanical Engineering Department at UC Berkeley. He was a faculty member at Duke University and UCLA before joining MIT in 2001. He received an NSF Young Investigator Award, an R&D 100 award, an ASME Heat Transfer Memorial Award, an ASME Frank Kreith Award in Energy, a Nukiyama Memorial Award by the Japan Heat Transfer Society, a World Technology Network Award in Energy, an Eringen medal from the Society of Engineering Science, and the Capers and Marion McDonald Award for Excellence in Mentoring and Advising from MIT. He is a fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Science, the American Physical Society, The American Society of Mechanical Engineers, and the Guggenheim Foundation. He serves on the board of the Asian American Scholar Forum (aasforum.org). He is an academician of Academy Sinica, a fellow of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, a member of the US National Academy of Engineering, and a member of the US National Academy of Sciences.
Evaporation is a ubiquitous phenomenon in nature, yet our understanding on evaporation is surprisingly insufficient. For example, large temperature discontinuities across liquid-vapor interfaces had been reported experimentally, which have defied modeling efforts so far. We established a set of interfacial conditions to determine the interfacial temperature, density, and pressure drop across a liquid-vapor interface, which lead to modeling results in reasonable agreement with experimental data. Our model shows when evaporation or condensation happens, an intrinsic temperature difference develops across the liquid-vapor interface, due to the mismatch of the enthalpy carried by vapor at the interface and the bulk region. We predict that when the liquid layer is very thin, most of the applied temperature difference between the solid wall and the vapor phase happens at the liquid-vapor interface, leading to saturation of the evaporation and the condensation rates and the corresponding heat transfer rate. This result contradicts the current belief that the evaporation and condensation rates are inversely proportional to the liquid film thickness. Our approach also provides a clear explanation for the paradoxical prediction by the kinetic theory of the existence of an inverted vapor temperature profile for the problem of evaporation and condensation between two parallel plates. Along a different direction, our experiments, as well as by many others, have reported that evaporation under sunlight from hydrogel and other porous materials can exceed the thermal evaporation limit by several times. We hypothesize that photons can directly cleave off water clusters at the liquid-vapor interface in a way similar to the photoelectric effect, which we call the photomolecular effect. We use several independent experiments in porous hydrogels and at a single water-air interface to support this hypothesis.