gothamCulture Releases Findings From the 2022 State of Culture Study

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New York, NY – gothamCulture released its second annual State of Culture Report on December 30, 2022. 

The 2022 State of Culture Report is the culmination of a year of research on a global scale of 170 respondents across local, national, and global organizations. From this research, the team extracted key insights into the aspects of organizational culture and climate that link to a variety of performance outcomes as well as the practices that drive results in the day-to-day. 

 Some key findings from the study include: 

  • Only 57% of respondents in senior leadership roles reported that their organization cultures are evolving rapidly enough to stay competitive.
  • 70% of respondent organizations reported outsourcing at least some HR functions, and it seems that outsourcing in the HR space will continue to grow over time. .
  • Organizations that reported a large number of resignations said it was mostly due to inadequate pay/benefits and a lack of ongoing investment in employee skills.

 For more insights to read the 2022 State of Culture Report here. 

Stay up to date with future State of Culture surveys and reports here. 

If you have questions or comments about the study or the report please email 

 About gothamCulture 

gothamCulture is a management consulting firm that draws on our associate’s comprehensive expertise and experience in the areas of culture, leadership, and people strategy to provide innovative solutions and client-service excellence. Our work is guided by our deeply held shared values, including a commitment to each other and our clients, unwavering integrity, the maniacal pursuit of excellence, relatable expertise, and authentic community. For more information, visit 

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Source: gothamCulture Releases Findings From the 2022 State of Culture Study

The 20 most-read stories on Ars Technica in 2022

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The 20 most-read stories on Ars Technica in 2022

Enlarge (credit: Aurich Lawson | Getty Images)

When 2022 dawned, there were a few things we knew we would be writing about: The global pandemic, whatever cool things Apple and Google did, rocket launches, and cool artificial intelligence stuff. But every year offers surprises, and 2022 was no exception.

Yes, we figured there would be plenty of articles about Elon Musk on Ars Technica this year. After all, he runs SpaceX and Tesla, two companies we frequently cover. But if someone told me Musk would become "Chief Twit" and end up all over the front page of Ars due to his impulse purchase of Twitter and the... interesting decisions he's made since taking control of the company, I would've asked them to pass the dutchie on the left-hand side.

2022 has been a long, strange trip. And it's almost over.

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Source: The 20 most-read stories on Ars Technica in 2022

Day 23: On Christmas Day, No Rest for the Weary. (Or the Guy Who Feeds the Penguins.)

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For a biologist in San Francisco, Dec. 25 will bring not presents and mistletoe, but beak trims and fish guts.

Source: Day 23: On Christmas Day, No Rest for the Weary. (Or the Guy Who Feeds the Penguins.)

A very special Dealmaster: Last-minute deals you can still grab

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A very special Dealmaster: Last-minute deals you can still grab

Enlarge (credit: Ars Technica)

We're entering the last week of the year and, as you might've guessed, there's still a fair amount of last-minute gifts to grab at some of the best prices you'll find all year. In this week's Dealmaster we have some of our favorite big-ticket items matching their all-time low prices, including the latest iPad, Google Pixel's (6, 6a, and 7), Sony headphones and earphones, and the latest Apple AirPods Pro, to name a few.

iPads are the best tablet devices for most people. At their full retail prices, the regular iPad is usually in an awkward position that makes the iPad Air a slightly better buy. With the current discount, the base iPad moves further away from that odd territory and more squarely into frame as a solid all-around buy for tablet seekers. The iPad Air is also on sale for just $100 more at $499 if having the M1 processor is important to you.

Google's Pixel phone lineup has previously had a similar situation, but the main "issue" here is that the lowest-end Pixel, the Pixel 6a is just too darn good a bargain. That's still the case at its currently discounted $299 price, but we couldn't fault you for buy a $499 ($100 off) Pixel 7 to gain that more buttery 90 Hz refresh rate and, to some, slightly nicer styling.

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Source: A very special Dealmaster: Last-minute deals you can still grab

MIT’s departments, labs, and centers celebrate the holidays

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Amid final exams and year-end research crunches, this is also the time of year when many in the MIT community take time to have some fun and express gratitude for the people that make their work possible. Each year across the Institute, community members gather for holiday parties and socializing in a more relaxed environment than the lab or classroom.

Across MIT’s five schools and the Schwarzman College of Computing, most departments, labs, and centers have festivities of some sort, from gatherings of Sloanies to holiday parties in the School of Humanities, Arts, and Social Science. Below we’ve highlighted just a few of the more unique traditions that some groups have to mark the end of a busy semester.

Department of Architecture

Ahead of the semester’s final review, the Department of Architecture surprised its first-year graduate students with a hands-on challenge to reconsider the design of a gingerbread house, providing everyone with sweet-smelling houses and the tools to deconstruct them.

“We’re giving them some opportunities to destress,” Associate Professor William O'Brien Jr. said, noting the department did something similar with a pumpkin carving contest in October. “Being somewhere new during the semester, things can get stressful.”

The challenge made for a chaotic scene in room 7-432 as teaching assistants, fellows, instructors, and students got their hands dirty — and sticky — in the quest to create a more inclusive gingerbread structure.

“It’s awesome to have a non-hierarchical social setting, whereas ordinarily students are presenting and we’re giving feedback,” O'Brien Jr. said.

The students agreed.

“It’s spectacularly fun,” said graduate student Mateo Fernandez, who is new to the United States and had never seen a gingerbread house before. “It’s a nice relief from everything we’re usually doing. It also helps us get to know each other outside of the serious academic environment, and helps us learn to work together.”

Department of Chemical Engineering

For as long as anyone can remember, the chemical engineering department’s holiday party has begun with elaborate skits by students, faculty, and sometimes staff, that humorously depict faculty members, courses, and current events.

Institute Professor and department head Paula Hammond describes them as “drama ensembles of sorts, sometimes with multiple acts — and many inside jokes.”

“We use the skits as a chance to lampoon ourselves,” says Hammond, who participated as a student in the department in the 1980s. “Faculty gets lampooned more than anyone, but that’s the spirit of the whole thing.”

Over the years the skits have moved more to video format, but the one constant is a depiction of faculty, often by students with fitting outfits and spot-on impressions. Hammond says the student skits are always better than the faculty skits.

“Students who spend an entire semester watching a faculty member know exactly how they write erratically on the chalkboard, or ramble off into stories from the old days, or get overexcited about an integral,” Hammond says.

Hammond says faculty members consider it an honor to be roasted by students, and remembers one faculty member upset after not getting riffed on enough in the annual tradition. She also says it’s a great way for students to tell their stories and build empathy.

“It’s fun to laugh and wink at faculty members and share the student perspective,” Hammond says. “What makes you laugh is the everyday, unusual little things about all of us that make us human. It acknowledges that the faculty aren’t superpowers. They’re regular people with their own little flaws. That’s comforting.”

Department of Earth, Atmospheric, and Planetary Sciences

In another longstanding tradition, each year the Department of Earth, Atmospheric, and Planetary Science has a party in early December where faculty, staff, and students get together and create their own ornaments to hang on a department tree. This year’s event doubled as an ice cream social.

Members of the department admire the tree for a week, and everybody votes on their favorite ornament at the ensuing holiday party. The three top winners get a prize.

“It brings everyone together,” says administrative assistant Madelyn Musick, who bought paint, glitter, and other festive decorations for this year’s event. “It gives everyone a break from their research to do something fun that’s relaxing but that also encourages creativity.”

Surendranath Lab

Researchers in the lab of associate professor of chemistry Yogesh Surendranath are used to mixing ingredients and catalyzing reactions. But around the holidays, they direct their talents to a more tasty kind of chemical processing.

Each year, graduate students and postdocs gather to make cookies and other baked goods for the staff members that make their work possible.

The holidays also happen to be the time when first-year graduate students join the lab, so it doubles as a fun way to get to know their fellow researchers outside of the lab setting.

“We spend a lot of time here. It’s not just a normal 9-5 job, and so it’s always nice to have a good relationship outside of work,” graduate student Bryan Yuk-Wah Tang says. “It’s something I really appreciate about our lab.”

This year, the event took place at a student’s house and culminated in a holiday party where the students distributed the goods along with cards expressing thanks.

“It’s a good opportunity to thank everybody who works hard and goes out of their way to support us,” Tang says. “A lot of staff members at MIT go above and beyond. It’s great to have this community, and we love to show our appreciation for that.”

Professor Laurie Boyer’s Lab

Laurie Boyer, a professor of biology and biological engineering, took her lab group — graduate students, research staff, and undergraduates — to a new minigolf venue in the Seaport District to mark the end of the semester. The group also got dinner together and explored an outdoor market nearby. Highlights included several improbable hole-in-ones (no one in the group considered themselves minigolf experts before the outing) and some much-needed hot chocolate at the outdoor market.

“I think it builds community,” says Catherine Della Santina, a PhD student in Boyer’s lab. “We see each other every day, but we mostly talk about science. Instead, we talked about stuff like the summer camps we went to growing up, which you might not mention when you’re inoculating cells or doing protocol prep. You get to know people better.”

Della Santina also said the outing provided a year-end refresher.

“It gets people excited to come back after the break,” she says.

Source: MIT’s departments, labs, and centers celebrate the holidays

Do You Hear What I Hear?

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As a professional coach, I often use metaphors to help a client visualize or name what challenges or opportunities they face.

By way of explanation, consider this: When I attend a jazz session (my favorite American art form), I can sometimes find myself honing in on a particular musician, even before they take the musical lead. I might feel invited to listen to a bluesy tenor saxophone, or close my eyes and feel the beat of the drums. After the set, I might mention to others what I heard and how it struck me. I am often pleasantly surprised to learn that the individuals with whom I attended the session might have heard something dramatically different. One person might tell me that the bass player “slayed it,” while another might say that the entire “vibe” came together so well that it was hard to identify one musician’s work.

The same goes for our visual experience. Like with music, I can also recall standing in front of a piece of art, probably standing next to people I know well. As we collectively ponder the meaning of the art and what we “see,” it is remarkable just how many perspectives are experienced. I might note the vibrancy of the colors while one friend notices the use of shading and the other friend the tiny brush strokes that created a painting.   And in fact, others might not focus on the visual experience, but on the human energy which emerged for them!

Each individual has their own “reality” which involves all five senses and more. In music or art, an appreciation of multiple realities, like my thought about the saxophone player versus another person’s perception of the bass player, can enhance and enrich the tapestry of our own experience. Especially when we share those realities with others – and when we can then create, even for a moment, a “shared reality” with another individual it is such a magical part of the human experience.

Human teams and the leadership of those with whom we work are filled with an endless number of realities. Appreciating that they exist is key. For instance, if I look at a profit and loss statement for a business, I might well focus on the top-line revenues, while another person might move their eyes straight to the bottom line. One of us can see earnings, while another is concerned about cash flow. Neither is wrong.

What we need to appreciate fully is what the other person sees and understands to create a “shared” reality to benefit both of us – and the larger team. The “brush strokes” matter but so does the “shading” – even on a corporate financial statement. That’s the only way we can “see” the whole picture.

When it comes to interpersonal characteristics and skills, it becomes increasingly difficult. Human bias and perspective let us see only specific capabilities and effectively ignore others.

The same goes for how others see us. We can never know another person’s perceptions and feelings about us until we ask. If we are truly interested in their journey, they may well become interested in ours. And then the joining of two or more can come together to create a shared experience – and a shared journey – and the magic it contains.

Think about the questions “Do you hear what I hear?” and “Do you see what I see?” the next time you meet with your colleagues at the office (or you’re sitting next to a coach who loves jazz). I invite you to be open to learning and sharing – it will enrich the experience and you’ll be better for it!

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Source: Do You Hear What I Hear?

New tool can assist with identifying carbohydrate-binding proteins

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One of the major obstacles that those conducting research on carbohydrates are constantly working to overcome is the limited array of tools available to decipher the role of sugars. As a workaround, most researchers utilize lectins (sugar-binding proteins) isolated from plants or fungi, but they are large, with weak binding, and they are limited in their specificity and in the scope of sugars that they detect. In a new study published in ACS Chemical Biology, researchers in Professor Barbara Imperiali's group have developed a platform to address this shortcoming.

“The challenge with polymers of carbohydrates is that their biosynthesis is not template-driven,” says Imperiali, the senior author of the study and a professor in the departments of Chemistry and Biology. “Biology, medicine, and biotechnology have been fueled by technological advancements for proteins and nucleic acids. The carbohydrate field lags terribly behind and is desperately seeking tools.”

Identifying carbohydrate-binding proteins

Biosynthesizing carbohydrates requires every link between individual sugar molecules to be made by a particular enzyme, and there’s no ready way to decipher the structures and sequences of complex carbohydrates. Antibodies to carbohydrates can be generated,  but doing so is challenging, expensive, and results in a molecule that is far larger than what is really needed for the research. An ideal resource for this field plagued with limited mechanisms would be discovery of binding proteins, of limited size, that recognize small chunks of carbohydrates to piece together a structure by using those binders, or methods to detect and identify particular carbohydrates within complicated structures.

The authors of this study used directed evolution and clever screen design to identify carbohydrate-binding proteins from proteins that have absolutely no ability to bind carbohydrates at all. Their findings lay the groundwork for identifying carbohydrate-binding proteins with diverse and programmable specificity.

Streamlining for collaboration

This advance will allow researchers to go after a user-defined sugar target without being limited by what a lectin does, or challenged by the abilities of generating antibodies. These results could serve to inspire future collaborations with engineering communities to maximize the efficiency of glycobiology’s yeast surface display pipeline. As it is, this pipeline works well for proteins, but sugars are far more difficult targets and require the pipeline to be modified. 

In terms of future applications, the potential for this innovation ranges from diagnostic to, in the longer term, therapeutic, and paves the way for collaborations with researchers at MIT and beyond. For example, chemistry Professor Laura Kiessling's research group works with Mycobacterium tuberculosis (Mtb), which has an unusual cell wall composition with unique, distinct, and exclusive sugars. Using this method, a binder could potentially be evolved to that particular feature on Mtb. Chemical engineering Professor Hadley Sikes develops paper-based diagnostic tools where the binding partner for a particular epitope or marker is laid down, and with the use of this discovery, in the longer term, a lateral flow assay device could be developed.

Laying the groundwork for future solutions

In cancer, certain sugars are overrepresented on cell surfaces, so theoretically, researchers can utilize this finding, which is also amenable to labeling, to develop a tool out of the evolved glycan binder for detection.

This discovery also stands to contribute significantly to improving cell imaging. Researchers can modify binders with a fluorophore using a simple ligation strategy, and can then choose the best fluorophore for tissue or cell imaging. The Kiessling group, for example, could apply small protein binders labeled with fluorophore to detect bacterial sugars to initiate fluorescence-activated cell sorting to probe a complex mixture of microbes. This could in turn be used to determine how a patient’s microbiome has been disturbed. It also has the potential to screen the microbiome of a patient’s mouth or their upper or lower gastrointestinal tract to read out the imbalance within the community using these types of reagents. In the more distant future, the binders could potentially have therapeutic purposes like clearing the gastrointestinal tract or mouth of a particular bacterium based on the sugars that the bacterium displays.

Source: New tool can assist with identifying carbohydrate-binding proteins

White House names Daniel Hastings to space advisory group

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United States Vice President Kamala Harris, the chair of the National Space Council (NSpC), has named MIT Professor Daniel Hastings to serve on the NSpC Users Advisory Group (UAG). Hastings, who is the associate dean of engineering for diversity, equity, and inclusion; head of the Department of Aeronautics and Astronautics; and the Cecil and Ida Green Education Professor of Aeronautics and Astronautics at MIT, will join a panel of experts spanning academia, industry, government, and the nonprofit sector to provide advice and guidance to the White House on matters related to the space enterprise.

“I am deeply interested in all the exciting things going on in the space enterprise because it is a rapidly evolving field with a tangible impact on the U.S. security and the economy. The space enterprise is being disrupted by new technology, new architectures, new business models, and new horizons. It will be important to consider all of these as we move forward,” says Hastings. “I am thrilled and honored to be asked to have a seat at the table with this incredible group of experts and stakeholders to lend my perspective on these important topics.”

The purpose of the NSpC is to assist the White House with strategy and policy development related to space activity. According to a White House news release, the UAG “will provide the National Space Council advice and recommendations on matters related to space policy and strategy, including but not limited to, government policies, laws, regulations, treaties, international instruments, programs, and practices across the civil, commercial, international, and national security space sectors.”

Hastings received his bachelor’s degree from Oxford University, joining the MIT community as a graduate student in 1976. He received his MS (1978) and PhD (1980) degrees in aeronautics and astronautics from MIT and joined the MIT faculty in 1985. His research interests have included laser-material interactions, fusion plasma physics, spacecraft plasma environment interactions, space plasma thrusters, and space systems analysis and design.

Hastings has a dedicated career in service both within and outside MIT. He served as MIT’s dean of undergraduate education from 2006 to 2013. In 2014, he was appointed to a five-year term as the director of SMART, the Singapore-MIT Alliance for Research and Technology. He was appointed head of the Department of Aeronautics and Astronautics in 2019. In 2021, Hastings was appointed co-chair of MIT’s Values Statement Committee.

Outside of MIT, Hastings served as chief scientist of the U.S. Air Force from 1997 to 1999. In this role, he was the chief scientific adviser to the chief of staff and the secretary and provided assessments on a wide range of scientific and technical issues affecting the Air Force mission. He is a fellow of the International Astronautical Federation and the International Council in System Engineering and an honorary fellow of the AIAA. He is also a member of the National Academy of Engineering.

General (USAF, Ret.) Lester Lyles will serve as UAG chair overseeing the 30 members of the UAG. Hastings joins fellow MIT affiliates Charles Bolden (member of the MIT AeroAstro Visiting Committee), Karina Drees MBA ’07, Gwynne Shotwell (former member of the AeroAstro Visiting Committee), Robert Smith MBA ’98, and Mandy Vaughn ’00, SM ’02.

Source: White House names Daniel Hastings to space advisory group

Podcast: The Great Resignation? Reshuffle? Reimagination? Renegotiation?

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            <p><span>In this episode of the <a href="" target="_blank" rel="noopener">gothamCulture Podcast</a>, g</span><span>uest host <a href="" target="_blank" rel="noopener">Conrad Moore</a> from <a href="" target="_blank" rel="noopener">MAiUS Learning</a> talks to Marcelo Dias, a Talent Performance &amp; Development Leader about how being burned out actually changes your brain chemistry resulting in exhaustion, cynicism, or just lack of effectiveness. Once employees reach this level of dissatisfaction with their jobs, it just ends up taking up a lot of their mental space. What can we do to get back to flourishing at work? </span></p><p><span>Production note: This interview was originally recorded in January 2022.</span></p><p>Released: December 20, 2022</p>                 </div>
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            <p><a href="" target="_blank" rel="noopener"><img decoding="async" class="alignnone wp-image-15776" src="" alt="" width="150" height="38" srcset=" 423w, 300w" sizes="(max-width: 150px) 100vw, 150px" /> </a> <a href="" target="_blank" rel="noopener"><img decoding="async" class="alignnone wp-image-15917" src="" alt="" width="128" height="37" srcset=" 1920w, 300w, 1024w, 768w, 1536w" sizes="(max-width: 128px) 100vw, 128px" /> </a><a href="" target="_blank" rel="noopener"><img decoding="async" class="alignnone wp-image-15777" src="" alt="" width="108" height="38" srcset=" 806w, 300w, 768w" sizes="(max-width: 108px) 100vw, 108px" /></a></p>                 </div>
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                                            <a href="" class="elementor-toggle-title">Transcript</a>

                <div id="elementor-tab-content-1221" class="elementor-tab-content elementor-clearfix" data-tab="1" role="tabpanel" aria-labelledby="elementor-tab-title-1221"><p><strong>Kate Gerasimova, gothamCulture:</strong></p><p>I&#8217;m happy to present to you a series of episodes involving culture gathered over the past year, asking experts in the industry for their advice and recommendations for leaders of organizations in this always-changing environment. These three episodes touch on how organizations need to be resilient in these vulnerable times. Each guest has a unique background and brings their own expertise and experience to what organizations, leaders, and employees need to do to be successful.</p><p><strong>Conrad Moore:</strong></p><p>All right. Hello, this is Conrad Moore from MAiUS Learning. I am happy to be back today on Gotham&#8217;s podcast as a guest host. And I&#8217;ve brought with me Marcelo Dias, who is a learning professional with over 15 years experience leading learning and development teams and supporting digital tech transformations. He spent most of his career at Intuit and Visa and since then, has been an independent learning consultant for about three years. Marcelo, first of all, thank you for joining.</p><p><strong>Marcelo Dias:</strong></p><p>Thank you. Yeah, really happy to be here. Thanks for having me.</p><p><strong>Conrad Moore:</strong></p><p>Yeah, and one of the things I&#8217;m excited, you don&#8217;t have to name any names, but I think it&#8217;s interesting to talk to you, because I actually don&#8217;t know the names per se, but I know that you talked to some folks, as a coach, who have some interesting perspectives when we&#8217;re thinking about this whole great resignation right now. So what are you hearing from some of your clients about what&#8217;s going on?</p><p><strong>Marcelo Dias:</strong></p><p>Yeah, this is a very popular topic. Some people are calling it the great reshuffle. I hear great reimagination, great renegotiation, even in the media, a lot of conversations around it. What I&#8217;m personally hearing is that a lot of people are either burned out or numbed out. And being burned out actually changes your brain chemistry and you see this exhaustion, cynicism, or just lack of effectiveness. And what I&#8217;ve learned from some of my clients is that once they reach this level of dissatisfaction with their jobs, it just ends up taking a lot of their mental space. And actually, I have here some notes as one of my clients, the way she described it is I might be done early for the day, but it&#8217;s difficult for me to be present with my kids, because I am still caught up in the politics of what&#8217;s going on at work.</p><p>And this, I&#8217;m hearing a lot. People are just having a really hard time disconnecting from that. On the other hand, I&#8217;ve also talked to a couple people who are kind of numbed out. They&#8217;re basically disengaged from their jobs. I&#8217;m thinking of a learning professional, he&#8217;s mentally done with his job, but continues to hang in there because the pay is good, honestly, and he couldn&#8217;t afford to go a month without that income. So yeah, he&#8217;s miserable, but he&#8217;s still managing to do the bare minimum to get fired. That&#8217;s kind of what I&#8217;m seeing right now.</p><p><strong>Conrad Moore:</strong></p><p>Yeah, and I think that makes a lot of sense, because I think that was always people&#8217;s experience, but then you layer on top of that a pandemic and it kind of just amplifies some of those feelings, and brings them into focus perhaps, which is maybe what we&#8217;re seeing here. So what can people do if they&#8217;re feeling burned out or disengaged? Is there anything that you&#8217;ve advised people to do?</p><p><strong>Marcelo Dias:</strong></p><p>Yeah, and what I&#8217;ve seen is there are people who are getting out of these situations. They&#8217;re even flourishing right now. And I think a big first step for them is just taking a hard look at their priorities, right? And he mentioned the pandemic, it&#8217;s hard to get away from that, and that&#8217;s, I think, forced a lot of us to face our own mortality. And there&#8217;s this phrase in Stoic philosophy, you may have heard Memento Mori, right, which roughly translates from the Latin as remember that you have to die, right? And I think consciously or unconsciously, this is driving a lot of people to reprioritize what&#8217;s important in their lives. And for work, you can see that as no longer wanting to be tied to a company office. And so I talked with someone who moved closer to his kids after a year into the pandemic, because that not knowing, somebody was getting sick, somebody not getting sick, they really wanted to be together, and he was able to do that by just going to remote.</p><p>And fortunately for him, he liked his job, he got to keep his same job, and that was how he find that ideal work-life balance. Able to stay in the same job, but having the opportunity to be closer with families. But for others, they may be they were just tired of the 60-plus hour work week. And so I know former colleague of mine, when she decided she needed to look for another job, and she knew what kind of questions to ask in the interviews, because she was really looking for a well-resourced team. She wanted a laid back team. She didn&#8217;t want this craziness anymore, of working nights, working weekends. And so thankfully, that&#8217;s exactly what she found. But it&#8217;s interesting that that was the mindset that she had going in, where she was asking the questions. Is this, we&#8217;re all going to be the kind of thing that I&#8217;m looking for?</p><p>So maybe what we&#8217;re really seeing, in my mind, is this great reprioritization, right? For a lot of people, they&#8217;re not saying I&#8217;m done with work, they&#8217;re just reshaping it in a way that fits in with the rest of their priorities. And I can tell you from my own personal experience, actually, I&#8217;m kind of in the midst of this still, but I started my consulting business and for a while, I was kind of saying yes to anything I could possibly get. And fortunately enough for a while, there actually was getting more hours than I wanted to, which started getting me to this other side, where I decided okay, I just need to be more selective about the engagements that I&#8217;d taken on.</p><p>So yeah, this reduced my income, but on the plus side, I gained a lot more time back, and even that mental space that I was talking about before, right? Because sometimes it&#8217;s not just the hours, it&#8217;s also how much of that mental space is taking up your day. And so I was able to deepen my relationship with my kids, my partner, even my parents, having more time with family, which is really, really important for me. And it kind of brought me back to some of that foundational stuff. And finally, it&#8217;s given me an opportunity to reflect of what kind of impact at this Memento Mori. I took it seriously. What kind of impact do I want to have before I die?</p><p><strong>Conrad Moore:</strong></p><p>That&#8217;s a very deep thought. And can I also ask you maybe if you&#8217;re trademarking the great reprioritization?</p><p><strong>Marcelo Dias:</strong></p><p>No. I&#8217;m sure somebody out there has used it, but it&#8217;s just what&#8217;s really resonated just based on my experience, yeah.</p><p><strong>Conrad Moore:</strong></p><p>All right. Well I heard it here first.</p><p><strong>Marcelo Dias:</strong></p><p>Okay.</p><p><strong>Conrad Moore:</strong></p><p>And so I think you said it. I like that kind of thought process though. And I do think you&#8217;re right, people are doing a lot of deep reflecting and thinking about the prioritization of their lives and their families and work, and so I think that that resonates with me in terms of what I&#8217;ve seen out there in the world and conversations with other people. So let&#8217;s flip that around and look at the other side of that equation. If we&#8217;re thinking about organizations who we know, obviously, are working hard to either retain the top talent that they have or attract new top talent now that people have left, and so if that&#8217;s what we&#8217;re seeing in the labor market is people who are really looking deeply at what maybe their purpose in life is, what do you think organizations can do to align to this new set of priorities?</p><p><strong>Marcelo Dias:</strong></p><p>Yeah. And I mentioned this earlier, I mean, there&#8217;s no question, flexibility goes a long way, right? The ability to live where you want to live, it&#8217;s a really important benefit. And I know there&#8217;s a lot of organizations debating this, what does this really look like, but time and time again, I hear this is really important. The other one is just a flexible schedule, right? It&#8217;s very important, especially for parents, caregivers, the ability to kind of shape their work around other responsibilities.</p><p>But I think if companies really want to stand out, they need to do some more of this, of what you just mentioned, right? How do you create the space for employees to gain that kind of clarity, what&#8217;s important for them personally, and then to kind of help them achieve that balance in their lives. And I see very few companies take an active role in supporting their employees&#8217; wellbeing. I mean, maybe they provide EAP, right, the employee assistance program where you might get eight free counseling sessions. But right now in the pandemic, it&#8217;s nearly impossible to access, right? So you may have other benefits like apps and services, but I&#8217;m not seeing a genuine commitment to help their employees live their best lives. So I think that&#8217;s a really big opportunity for companies to stand out.</p><p><strong>Conrad Moore:</strong></p><p>Yeah. As you were saying that, I was just reflecting in my head that that actually feels right. All of these additional extra benefits, EAPs, maybe a monthly gym membership or something like that, it all feels almost more in service of can we trick them into wanting to work here for our bottom line, versus how can we actually provide space for them to find deeper meaning in the work that they do, and see an alignment with a larger corporate mission, or even if it&#8217;s not a corporation. So that all sounds interesting. I&#8217;m wondering if you can tell us a little bit more about what we can find from you out in the world, if people want to learn more about what you do and what you&#8217;re working on.</p><p><strong>Marcelo Dias:</strong></p><p>So lately, I mean, I&#8217;ve been asking this question many times. I&#8217;ve been asking myself, what does this look like, really? And one way, I think, is to give people the tools they need to find the healthier, more balanced kind of foundation that they can work from. So, you mentioned the coaching practice, right? So I think this has been one way to do it. I&#8217;ve been able to provide that kind of support on a one-on-one basis. But really, I think there&#8217;s an opportunity to scale that more to kind of a larger audience, more of a classroom base, and that&#8217;s something a lot of organization can do on their own. I mean, in my case, I&#8217;m basically applying my skills as a learning professional just to create a curriculum. I&#8217;m starting with three classes around this 8foldlife framework, but there&#8217;s many other frameworks out there. But in this case, it&#8217;s body, emotions, and mind, right?</p><p>So sort of the foundational areas from a self-care standpoint, and I&#8217;m calling it the 8foldlife School, and each class is peer supported, it&#8217;s a hybrid, flexible model, but it&#8217;s also very much focused on developing helpful habits, while letting go of some of those unhelpful habits. So as an example, for the body focus class, there&#8217;s three primary areas that we&#8217;re looking at. One is sleep. That&#8217;s such a critical piece in ensuring people&#8217;s wellbeing. Nutrition, which can look very different from one person to the next. And then movement is also another thing that can look very different.</p><p>But the idea there is that we discuss the benefits and we commit. We, as each, individual person commits to making a change in their lives in each one of those areas. And then my eventual goal is to actually scale this to all eight dimensions, which includes relationships, career, finances, self-fulfillment, and then beyond self. And this to say, any organization, if you have people passionate about any one of these areas, I would encourage you to run with it and be able to create a program like this that, again, helps people to take that step back and feel like they&#8217;re more connected to the work that they&#8217;re doing, and that they&#8217;re better able to coexist in all the other priorities in their lives.</p><p><strong>Conrad Moore:</strong></p><p>Great. Well then I have one last request for you. We&#8217;ve got an upcoming guest and I&#8217;m wondering if you can ask that person a question, so we can continue the conversation.</p><p><strong>Marcelo Dias:</strong></p><p>Absolutely. Yeah. And they&#8217;re difficult, challenging times for organizations. I guess my question is, what can leaders do in this current environment?</p><p><strong>Conrad Moore:</strong></p><p>Great question. Well, thank you Marcelo Dias.Thank you so much for your time today.</p><p><strong>Marcelo Dias:</strong></p><p>Thank you, Conrad. It was a pleasure. All right. Till next time.</p></div>
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School of Engineering unveils MIT Postdoctoral Fellowship Program for Engineering Excellence

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In July 2022, the MIT School of Engineering welcomed its first class of scholars selected for the Postdoctoral Fellowship Program for Engineering Excellence. The idea for the fellowship grew from conversations taking place within the school’s Diversity, Equity and Inclusion (DEI) Committee — established in 2020 — that identified a need to diversify the pool of postdocs employed within the school. The program seeks to discover and develop the next generation of faculty leaders to help guide the school toward a more diverse and inclusive culture.

“We are excited to offer this new fellowship opportunity,” says Anantha Chandrakasan, dean of the School of Engineering. “I look forward to the positive impact these postdoctoral fellows will bring to their work and research while also helping the School of Engineering continue our growth as a more welcoming and diverse community for all.”

The program offers annual stipends for postdocs to pursue research and educational efforts that widen the scope and breadth of the school’s current work, while maintaining its commitment to excellence in engineering. It is partially inspired by MIT’s Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Visiting Scholars and Professor Program, which aims to bring a greater number of diverse scholars to campus.

Engineering is a field at MIT that has long struggled with supporting scholars from underrepresented backgrounds. Today, only 8 percent of School of Engineering graduate students identify as an underrepresented minority. Only 5 percent of undergraduates identify as Black or African American and only 14 percent identify as Hispanic or Latinx. Women account for about half of the School of Engineering’s undergraduate enrollment but make up just a third of the school’s graduate students.

Postdoc demographics are equally disconcerting, says Dan Hastings, the School of Engineering’s associate dean of DEI and head of the Department of Aeronautics and Astronautics.

“If we looked at the data from institutional research on postdocs in the School of Engineering, the diversity of that group was terrible. There’s no other way to describe it,” says Hastings. “The sense was, why can't we have a program like the MLK Program that attracts a diverse population of postdocs?”

The Postdoctoral Fellowship Program for Engineering Excellence aims to build on the school’s other initiatives, like its DEI committee, the MIT Summer Research Program initiative, and the work of the gender equity committee. The aim is to specifically diversify the pool of postdoc researchers hired by the school each year. Supporting postdocs is particularly important, says Hastings, because hiring for those positions often happens through diffuse professional networks and via personal faculty contacts.

“We hope that by intentionally building a supportive community for our scholars, we can create a space where postdoctoral scholars that are historically underrepresented in engineering can thrive,” says Nandi Bynoe, assistant dean, DEI for the School of Engineering.

Aside from supporting postdocs in their research, the program provides opportunities for fellows to gain professional skills required to succeed in potential careers in three different areas: entrepreneurship, engineering leadership — supported by The Daniel J. Riccio Graduate Engineering Leadership Program (GradEL) — and academia.

The 2022-23 MIT Postdoctoral Fellows for Engineering Excellence are:

Sofia Arevalo is a School of Engineering Distinguished Postdoctoral Fellow in the Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering. Arevalo's doctoral work focused on nanomechanical analysis of orthopedic implants to optimize the longevity of total joint replacements. Her research expertise is in materials characterization, nanomechanics, medical polymers, and failure analysis. Her postdoctoral research focuses on learning from nature to optimize performance of self-healing materials for medical applications. In addition to research, she has extensive experience mentoring and teaching graduate- and undergraduate-level engineering courses and was a recipient of the University of California at Berkeley’s Outstanding Graduate Student Instructor Award in 2021. Arevalo received her BS, MS, and PhD in mechanical engineering from UC Berkeley and was a recipient of the National Science Foundation Graduate Research Fellowship Program in 2016. 

Molly Carton is a School of Engineering Distinguished Postdoctoral Fellow in the Department of Mechanical Engineering. Her research focuses on using algorithmic design and computational fabrication to generate architected materials and mechanisms with new mechanical properties. Carton earned her BA in physics from Princeton University, and her MS in applied mathematics and PhD in mechanical engineering from the University of Washington at Seattle.

Steven Ceron is a School of Engineering Distinguished Postdoctoral Fellow in the Department of Electrical Engineering and Computer Science. His research area focuses on leveraging coupled oscillators to enable robot swarms to exhibit diverse morphologies and functions across all length scales. Ceron earned his BS in mechanical engineering from the University of Florida and PhD in mechanical engineering from Cornell University.

Matthew Clarke is a Boeing School of Engineering Distinguished Postdoctoral Fellow in the Department of Aeronautics and Astronautics. His research focuses on aircraft design, aerodynamics, and aeroacoustics, with an emphasis on the analysis and optimization of electric vehicles for urban air mobility. Clarke is an alumnus of the MIT Summer Research Program, earned his BS from Howard University in mechanical engineering, and both his MS and PhD from Stanford University in aeronautics and astronautics.

Suhas Eswarappa Prameela is an aeronautics and astronautics School of Engineering Distinguished Postdoctoral Fellow. His research interests include materials discovery for extreme environments, propulsion materials for space applications, machine learning, and informatics. Eswarappa Prameela has a PhD in materials science and engineering from Johns Hopkins University, an MS in material science and engineering from Arizona State University, and a BS in mechanical engineering (gold medalist) from RV College of Engineering, India.

Amy Rae Fox is a joint fellow in the MIT Computer Science and Artificial Intelligence Laboratory METEOR Postdoctoral Fellowship Program and the School of Engineering Postdoctoral Fellowship Program. She is a School of Engineering Distinguished Postdoctoral Fellow in the Department of Electrical Engineering and Computer Science. Her research focuses on the role of cognition in information visualization, and she aims to build bridges between basic research in cognitive psychology and design research in human-computer interaction. Fox earned her BS in computer science from University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, MSEd in instructional design from Université Pierre-Mendès France, MA in interdisciplinary studies from California State University at Chico, and PhD in cognitive science from University of California at San Diego.

Timothy Holder is an IBM School of Engineering Distinguished Postdoctoral Fellow in the Department of Aeronautics and Astronautics. His research interests include development of wearable, non-contact, and remote psychophysiological sensor systems for the detection of affective states, and for the development of wellness interventions in underserved populations. He also investigates cognitive and performative latent variables for human-robot interactions. Holder received his BS in chemistry-engineering from Washington and Lee University and his PhD in biomedical engineering from North Carolina State University and the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.

Michael Kitcher is a School of Engineering Distinguished Postdoctoral Fellow in the Department of Materials Science and Engineering. His research examines spin transport and chiral interactions in magnetic materials with the goal of developing spintronic devices that address far-reaching needs, such as energy-efficient computing. Kitcher earned his BS in materials science and engineering from MIT before earning his PhD, also in materials science and engineering, from Carnegie Mellon University.

Ulri Lee is an Electrical Engineering and Computer Science School of Engineering Distinguished Postdoctoral Fellow. Lee’s research focuses on developing microfluidic technologies to model the blood-brain barrier and investigate links between its dysfunction and neuropsychiatric disorders. Lee received her BS and PhD in chemistry from the University of Washington, where she was the 2020 SLAS Graduate Research Fellow.

Jorge Méndez is an IBM School of Engineering Distinguished Postdoctoral Fellow in Electrical Engineering and Computer Science. His research seeks to create versatile artificially intelligent systems that accumulate knowledge over a lifetime, with applications in computer vision, robotics, and natural language. Méndez received his BS in electronics engineering from Universidad Simón Bolívar, and his MSE in robotics and his PhD in computer and information science from the University of Pennsylvania.

Kristina Monakhova is a Boeing School of Engineering Distinguished Postdoctoral fellow in Electrical Engineering and Computer Science. Her research interests involve combining computational imaging with machine learning to design better, smaller, and more capable cameras and microscopes. Monakhova received her BS in electrical engineering from the State University of New York at Buffalo and her PhD in electrical engineering and computer science from the University of California at Berkeley.

George Moore is a School of Engineering Distinguished Postdoctoral Fellow in the Department of Mechanical Engineering. His research focuses on user journeys through design thinking practices and the environmental impacts of small-scale manufacturing techniques related to these design thinking practices. Moore earned his BS in mechanical engineering from the University of South Alabama, and his MS and PhD in mechanical engineering from the University of California at Berkeley.

Kimia Nadjahi is a School of Engineering Distinguished Postdoctoral Fellow in the Department of Electrical Engineering and Computer Science. Her research interests lie in designing machine-learning algorithms that offer a good balance between practical advantages and theoretical justification, with the long-term goal of facilitating their deployment in real-world applications. Nadjahi received her engineer's degree in applied mathematics and computer science from Ensimag (France), her MS in computer vision and machine learning from ENS Cachan (France), and her PhD from Telecom Paris (France).

Maria Ramos Gonzalez is a School of Engineering Distinguished Postdoctoral Fellow in the Department of Mechanical Engineering. Her research focuses on the design of robotic hands that she plans to translate to upper limb neuroprosthetics. Ramos Gonzalez earned her BS and PhD in mechanical engineering from the University of Nevada at Las Vegas and was selected as the Nevada System of Higher Education Regents' Scholar.

Matthew Rivera is a Chemical Engineering School of Engineering Distinguished Postdoctoral Fellow. His thesis work focused on organic solvent separations with new composite membranes. At MIT, his work focuses on data-driven materials discovery to address challenging chemical separations problems. Rivera received dual BS degrees in chemistry and chemical engineering from Mississippi State University, and his PhD in chemical engineering from Georgia Tech.

Joseph Wasswa is a School of Engineering Distinguished Postdoctoral Fellow in the Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering. Using analytical and computational skills, his current research focuses on understanding the transformation and fate of contaminants in the environment. Wasswa earned a BS in agricultural engineering from Makerere University, his MS in civil engineering from San Diego State University, and his PhD in civil engineering from Syracuse University. He also obtained a Certificate of Advanced Study in Sustainable Enterprise (CASSE) in 2021 from the Martin J. Whitman School of Management at Syracuse University.

Source: School of Engineering unveils MIT Postdoctoral Fellowship Program for Engineering Excellence

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