Throughout the MIT community, we turn curiosity into discovery, changing what we know about the world. From the exploratory to the practical to the inspirational, MIT is an unparalleled hub of research and innovation.
At a time when the world looks to the scientific community for solutions, we heard insights from Institute leaders, faculty, students, and alumni in global pursuit of scientific knowledge.
Linda Zhong-Johnson is a graduate student in the laboratory of Anthony J. Sinskey ScD ’67, professor of biology, and Christopher A. Voigt, the Daniel I.C. Wang Professor of Advanced Biotechnology. Zhong-Johnson hopes to reduce the amount of plastic in landfills and oceans through her study of an enzyme produced by the microbe Ideonaella sakaiensis that can digest PET, the plastic used to make most water bottles. Through research that encompasses bioengineering, biochemistry, and fundamental biology, she seeks a deeper understanding of the enzyme, which eventually could be engineered to digest plastic more efficiently. Zhong-Johnson and Sinskey, who is her faculty advisor, received a 2019 grant for their PET research from the Ally of Nature Fund (an MIT fund established by two alumni). The fund supports projects intended to “prevent, reduce, and repair humanity’s impact on the natural environment.” Zhong-Johnson earned a BS in molecular genetics from the University of Toronto and is pursuing a PhD in the Microbiology Program at MIT.
Kathryn (Kathy) Hawkes is the associate dean of external relations and global programs at the MIT Sloan School of Management and a member of the school’s leadership team. Hawkes leads teams of talented professionals and manages all aspects of the school’s portfolio in support of the 24,000+ alumni and high-level collaborations with public and private institutions across the globe. She oversees alumni experience, communications, events, fundraising, strategic initiatives, and operations, and she also leads the school’s Campaign efforts. Additionally, she oversees MIT Sloan Global Programs’ efforts to bring together multi-stakeholder initiatives to catalyze regional economic and social impact by implementing new educational models. Hawkes joined MIT Sloan in 2006 and has held a succession of roles, including executive director of External Relations, director of Executive Boards, and director of Alumni Relations and Annual Giving.
Charlene Kabcenell ’79, now retired, was a vice president at Oracle Corporation. She is an MIT Corporation Life Member and serves on Corporation Visiting Committees and the Campaign Leadership Council, among other roles at MIT. Kabcenell was honored with the Harold E. Lobdell ’17 Distinguished Service Award from the MIT Alumni Association. She and her husband, Derry ’75, live in Portola Valley, California. Kabcenell earned an SB in computer science and engineering from MIT.
Lauren Wojtkun is the director of alumni experience at the MIT Sloan School of Management’s Office of External Relations. Lauren leads a team of staff members focused on engaging and supporting MIT Sloan’s 24,000+ alumni with online and in-person events, volunteer opportunities, annual reunions, and support for current students. Wojtkun has been at MIT since 2002 and has held a succession of roles in the MIT Division of Student Life and the MIT Alumni Association before joining MIT Sloan in November 2019.