Thirteen postdocs and research scientists honored for contributions to the Institute with awards formerly known as Infinite Kilometer.
School of Science
February 3, 2021
This year, the MIT School of Science has recognized 13 postdocs and research scientists who are the recipients of the 2021 Infinite Expansion Award.
The award, formerly called the “Infinite Kilometer Award,” was created in 2012 to highlight the contributions of important members of the MIT science community. The awardees are nominated for their contributions to their research labs, participation in educational programs, exceptional talent, generous character, service to the community, teamwork, and in general, going above and beyond in their roles at the Institute, especially during the coronavirus pandemic.
The following are the 2021 School of Science Infinite Expansion winners:
- Xinqiang Ding, a postdoc in the Department of Chemistry, nominated by Assistant Professor Bin Zhang for “being one of the most promising, talented, and hard-working scientists that [he has] worked with in [his] entire career”;
- Quentin Ferry, a postdoc in the Picower Institute for Learning and Memory, nominated by Professor Susumu Tonegawa for “remarkable raw talent, versatility … a highly motivated attitude, deep critical thinking, and an extremely creative personality”;
- Hamed Owladeghaffari, a postdoc in the Department of Earth, Atmospheric and Planetary Sciences, nominated by Assistant Professor Matěj Peč for “consistently gone above and beyond his duty”;
- Andrew Grassetti, a postdoc in the Department of Biology, nominated by Assistant Professor Joseph Davis for “[going] well beyond any reasonable expectations to ensure that my entire group has the support — scientific, professional, and emotional — that they needed to succeed”;
- Sarah Heine, a research scientist in the MIT Kavli Institute for Astrophysics and Space Research (MKI), nominated by Principal Research Scientist Herman Marshall for “[being] a major contributor”;
- Samantha Kristufek, a postdoc in the Department of Chemistry, nominated by Professor Jeremiah Johnson for “cultivating an inclusive, supportive group culture”;
- Nathan Lourie, a research scientist in the MIT Kavli Institute for Astrophysics and Space Research, nominated by Professor and MKI Director Rob Simcoe for “demonstrat[ing] both a high degree of personal grit, a capacity to build and lead a team, and a high degree of community engagement”;
- Hiruy Meharena, a postdoc in the Picower Institute for Learning and Memory, nominated by Professor and Picower Institute Director Li-Huei Tsai for “being a community builder and exemplary scientific colleague”;
- Alexander Schuppe, a postdoc in the Department of Chemistry, nominated by Professor Stephen Buchwald for “consistent and significant positive impact on the research efforts of others”;
- Jitendra Sharma, a research scientist in the Picower Institute for Learning and Memory, nominated by administrative manager Eleanor MacPhail, postdoc Grayson Sipe, and Professor Mriganka Sur for “willingness to help everyone,” “serves as a beacon of optimism and collegiality,” and “approach[ing] each day with the goal of making a difference that will help advance the MIT mission”;
- Yong Wang, a postdoc in the Department of Chemistry, nominated by Assistant Professor Alison Wendlandt for “[being] an exceptionally talented scientist, a committed mentor, and a model coworker”;
- Jun Yang, a postdoc in the Department of Physics and MIT Kavli Institute for Astrophysics and Space Research, nominated by Professor Or Hen, professor and physics head Peter Fisher, and Research Scientist Norbert Shulz for “community building,” “mak[ing] a difference,” and “[making] great efforts to organize events for the physics postdoc association during a time of isolation”; and
- Hannah Yevick, a research scientist in the Department of Biology, nominated by Associate Professor Adam Martin for “devotion to mentoring.”
The honor includes a monetary award and will be commemorated in person at a later date with family, friends, and nominators, as well as the winners of the 2021 Infinite Mile Award.