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List of Institute Professors

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List of Institute Professors

The title of Institute professor is an honor bestowed by the Faculty and Administration of MIT on a faculty colleague who has demonstrated exceptional distinction by a combination of leadership, accomplishment, and service in the scholarly, educational, and general intellectual life of the Institute or wider academic community.[1]

—MIT Policies and Procedures: Special Professorial Appointments, Institute Professor

Institute Professor is the highest title that can be awarded to a faculty member at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, a research university located in Cambridge, Massachusetts, United States. It is analogous to the titles of Distinguished Professor, University Professor, or Regents Professor used at other universities in recognition of a professor's extraordinary research achievements and dedication to the school. At MIT, Institute Professors are granted a unique level of freedom and flexibility to pursue their research and teaching interests without regular departmental or school responsibilities; they report only to the Provost.[1] Usually no more than twelve professors hold this title at any one time.[1] The position was created by President James R. Killian in 1951 and Professor John C. Slater was the first to hold the position.[2]

Institute Professors are initially nominated by leaders representing either a Department or School. The Chair of the Faculty then consults with the Academic Council and jointly appoints with the President an ad-hoc committee from various departments and non-MIT members to evaluate the qualifications and make a documented recommendation to the President. The final determination is made based upon recommendations from professionals in the nominee's field. The case is then reviewed again by the Academic Council and approved by the Executive Committee of the MIT Corporation.[1]

List of Institute Professors


Name Department Elected Notability Reference
Emilio Bizzi Brain and Cognitive Sciences 2002 Motor control; President of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences (2006–2009) [3]
John M. Deutch Chemistry 1990 Deputy Secretary of Defense (1994–1995); Director of Central Intelligence (1995–1996); Provost of MIT (1985–1990). [4][5]
Peter A. Diamond Economics 1997 Social Security reform; Nobel Prize in Economics (2010). [6]
Ann Graybiel Brain and Cognitive Sciences 2008 Basal Ganglia; National Medal of Science (2001) [7] [8]
John Harbison Music and Theater Arts 1995 Choral composer; Pulitzer Prize (1987) for Flight into Egypt; MacArthur Fellow (1989). [9]
Robert S. Langer Chemical Engineering & Biological Engineering 2005 Drug delivery and tissue engineering; youngest person to be elected to 3 American academies; Lemelson-MIT Prize (1998), Draper Prize (2002), National Medal of Science (2007), Millennium Technology Prize (2008). [10]
Barbara Liskov Computer Science 2008 Turing Award (2008), John von Neumann Medal (2004), contributions to data abstraction and programming languages [11]
John D.C. Little Management Little's law; marketing; e-commerce. [12]
Thomas Magnanti Mechanical Engineering 1997 Operations research; Dean of Engineering (1999–2007). [6]
Joel Moses Computer Science 1999 Algebraic manipulation algorithms; MACSYMA; Provost of MIT (1995–1998); Dean of Engineering (1991–1995). [13]
Phillip Sharp Biology 1999 RNA interference and splicing; Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine (1993). [14]
Daniel I.C. Wang Chemical Engineering 1995 Biochemical process engineering. [9]
Sheila Widnall Aeronautical and Astronautical Engineering 1998 Secretary of the Air Force (1993–1997); First MIT alumna appointed to MIT engineering faculty; first woman to chair the MIT faculty. [15]


Name Department Elected Notability Reference
Noam Chomsky Linguistics 1976 Generative grammar; Kyoto Prize (1988); political activist; one of the most widely cited scholars alive.[16][17] [18]
Mildred S. Dresselhaus Physics & Electrical Engineering 1985 Carbon nanotubes; National Medal of Science (1990). [19]
Jerome I. Friedman Physics 1991 Quantum chromodynamics; Nobel Prize in Physics (1990). [20]
Morris Halle Linguistics 1981 Phonology; The Sound Pattern of English. [21]
Mario Molina Earth, Atmosphere, and Planetary Sciences 1997 Stratospheric ozone chemistry; Nobel Prize in Chemistry (1995). [6]
Nevin S. Scrimshaw Nutrition and Food Science 1980 Eliminating nutritional deficiency; World Food Prize (1991). [22]
Robert M. Solow Economics 1973 National Medal of Science (1999); John Bates Clark Medal (1961); Nobel Prize in Economics (1987). [23]
John S. Waugh Chemistry Computational studies of spin systems. [24]
Isadore Singer Mathematics 1987 Atiyah–Singer index theorem; Abel Prize (2004). [25]


Name Department Elected Notability Reference
Manson Benedict Nuclear Engineering 1969 National Medal of Science (1975). [26]
Gordon S. Brown Electrical Engineering and Computer Science 1973 Automatic feedback-control systems; computer numerical control; Dean of Engineering (1959–1968). [27]
Martin Julian Buerger Mineralogy 1956 Crystallography [28]
Morris Cohen Material Science and Engineering 1974 Metallurgy of steel. [29]
Charles S. Draper Electrical Engineering and Computer Science 1966 Inertial guidance; gyro gunsight; founder of the Instrumentation Laboratory. [30]
Harold Eugene "Doc" Edgerton Electrical Engineering and Computer Science 1966 High-speed photography; Co-founder of EG&G; National Medal of Science (1973). [31]
Herman Feshbach Physics 1983 Nuclear reaction theory; National Medal of Science (1986). [32]
Edwin R. Gilliland Chemical Engineering 1971 Fractional distillation columns and fluidized catalytic cracking; President's Science Advisory Committee (1961–1965). [33]
Hermann Anton Haus Electrical Engineering and Computer Science 1986 Optical communications; National Medal of Science (1995). [34]
Arthur von Hippel Electrical Engineering and Computer Science 1962 Dielectric materials. [35]
Arthur Thomas Ippen Civil Engineering 1970 Hydraulic engineering and water resources. [36]
Roman O. Jakobson Linguistics Slavic studies and linguistics; Russian formalism. [37]
György Kepes Architecture 1970 Founded the Center for Advanced Visual Studies; Bauhaus contributor; Hungarian Medal of Honor and Middle Cross (1996). [38]
Norman Levinson Mathematics 1971 Non-linear differential equations; mathematical analysis; analytic number theory; testified at 1953 House Un-American Activities Committee. [39][40]
Francis E. Low Physics Condensed matter physics; Provost of MIT (1980-1985). [41]
Franco Modigliani Economics & Management 1970 Nobel Prize in Economics (1985). [42]
Philip Morrison Physics 1973 Theoretical astrophysics. [43]
Walle J.H. Nauta Brain and Cognitive Sciences 1973 Nauta Silver Impregnation Method used to trace degenerating nerve fibers. [44]
Walter A. Rosenblith Electrical Engineering and Computer Science 1975 Psychoacoustics; elected to all three National Academies; Provost of MIT (1971–1980). [45]
Bruno Rossi Physics 1966 X-ray astronomy and discovery of cosmic rays; National Medal of Science (1983); Wolf Prize (1987). [46]
Paul Samuelson Economics 1966 John Bates Clark Medal (1947); Nobel Prize in Economics (1970); National Medal of Science (1996). [47]
Francis O. Schmitt Biology 1955 Biological electron microscopy. [48]
Ascher H. Shapiro Mechanical Engineering 1975 Fluid mechanics and biomedical engineering. [49]
John C. Slater Physics 1951 Quantum theory and Electromagnetic theory of microwaves; Advisor to William Shockley and Richard Feynman. [50]
Cyril S. Smith Materials Science & Humanities Metallurgy and crystallography; metallography of archaeological artifacts. [51]
Carl R. Soderberg Mechanical Engineering 1959 Steam turbine electric generators; Dean of Engineering (1954–1959); consultant on the J-57 turbojet. [52]
Victor Weisskopf Physics 1965 National Medal of Science (1980); Wolf Prize (1981); co-founder of the Union of Concerned Scientists. [39]
Jerome Wiesner Electrical Engineering and Computer Science 1980 Chairman of the President's Science Advisory Committee (1961–1964); Dean of Science (1964–1966); Provost of MIT (1966–1971); President of MIT (1971–1980). [53]
Jerrold R. Zacharias Nuclear Science and Engineering 1966 Atomic beams and clocks; educational reform; microwave radar. [54]
Chia-Chiao Lin Mathematics 1966 Fluid mechanics. [55][39]


Name MIT Department Current Institution Elected Notability Reference
David Baltimore Biology Caltech 1995 Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine (1975). [9]
Charles H. Townes Physics UC Berkeley 1961 Quantum Electronics and Maser; Nobel Prize in Physics (1964); National Medal of Science (1982). [56]


External links

  • MIT online directory of Institute Professors and Institute Professors Emeriti
  • MIT Facts: Faculty and Staff
  • MIT's Spectrvm magazine article
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