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MIT Matches Pell Grants

The costs of providing a first-rate education continue to rise, yet the U.S. Congress has kept Federal Pell Grants at 2003 levels. At MIT, these need-based grants, which students are not required to repay, are typically awarded to those whose annual family income is less than $40,000. To help ensure adequate need-based financial aid, in September the Institute will become the nation’s first private university to match Pell Grants for all eligible students. So a student awarded a maximum Pell Grant of $4,050 will receive an additional outright grant of $4,050 from MIT. The move will limit and possibly eliminate Pell Grant recipients’ student loan debt.

For more than 40 years, MIT has had a need-blind admissions policy and has awarded all MIT financial aid solely on the basis of need, fully meeting the need of every enrolled student. For the academic year 2006–2007, students will face a bill of $43,550 for tuition, fees, housing, and meals.

A Virus Sits for Its Portrait

A half-century after MIT researchers first used electron microscopy to study viruses, biology professor Jonathan King and research scientist Peter Weigele collaborated with Baylor College of Medicine researchers to create and analyze some of the most detailed images of a virus ever produced. Some of these images, which depict a virus called epsilon15, graced the cover of the journal Nature in February.

Scientists have long known that epsilon15 and many other viruses infect their hosts by perching on the outsides of cells and injecting their genomes. But until now, they had never seen inside a virus to examine the channel through which its genetic material exits. In the new images, Weigele says, epsilon15’s DNA “appears threaded into the channel, ready to go slithering into the cytoplasm of the host cell.” The images also reveal what Weigele calls “molecular grappling hooks,” the proteins the virus uses to attach to its host during infection.

Katherine Bourzac, SM ‘04

Shin Case Settled

MIT and the parents of Elizabeth Shin reached an agreement to resolve the lawsuit the Shins filed against two student-life staff members in connection with the April 2000 death of their daughter. The Shins have also agreed to drop their lawsuit against four MIT -psychiatrists. Their suit against the university was dismissed in June 2005. Cho Hyun and Kisuk Shin say that they have come to understand that their daughter’s death was likely a tragic accident.

“We know nothing can erase the pain of losing their daughter,” said MIT chancellor Phillip L. Clay in a statement to the MIT community. “Elizabeth’s death was a tragedy for her family, her friends, and all of those at MIT who tried to help her.”

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