MIT Corporation member Neil Rasmussen ’76, SM ’80 and Anna Winter Rasmussen have supported two graduate fellows in climate science every year for the past three years.
While attending the John Carlson lecture and dinner recently, Neil and Anna had an opportunity to meet the 2014-15 fellows, and announced they have decided to endow the fellowship fund in perpetuity.
Naming the new fund in honor of his late father, Norman C. Rasmussen—who was Professor of Nuclear Engineering at MIT from 1958-1994, and who served as the Department Head for Nuclear Engineering from 1975-1981—Neil spoke eloquently about what he and Anna hoped to achieve: “It is our hope that these fellowships will allow ‘out-of-the-box’ thinking and research in climate science. An improved understanding of how our climate works is urgently needed so mankind can better grasp the long term consequences of the decisions our societies are making every day.”
Professor Rasmussen was the first to apply probabilistic risk assessment techniques to nuclear power plant safety studies, and he debated the risks publicly in the ’60s and ’70s when nuclear power development was tremendously controversial. During many lively debates in crowded lecture halls, and even on TV with people like Henry Kendall and Ralph Nader, Norman Rasmussen always maintained that the unfettered burning of fossil fuels could pose a serious risk to society in the future, and that the continued development of safer nuclear power technology might provide a valuable option for us to meet the growing energy needs of mankind with lower risk to our planet.
“My father dedicated his career to trying to improve the understanding of societal risks. Advancing our understanding of climate science is a fitting way to honor his legacy.”
The 2014-15 Rasmussen Fellows:
Tom graduated from the École Polytechnique in Paris where he studied math, physics, chemistry and fluid dynamics. Working with his advisor, Kerry Emanuel, Tom is now researching the formation of cyclones and seeking to understand the physics
Katie is an MIT-WHOI Joint Program student with a master’s degree in Marine Affairs from the University of Rhode Island. Katie is, “passionate about policy surrounding the ever-changing coastline.” Currently she is researching paleotempestology in the northeastern U.S., with her WHOI supervisor, Jeff Donnelly.
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