Hello,

We noticed you're browsing in private or incognito mode.

To continue reading this article, please exit incognito mode or log in.

Not an Insider? Subscribe now for unlimited access to online articles.

Christina Gabriel, SM ’81, ScD ’85

Innovation facilitator transforms communities

Christina Gabriel makes innovation happen. As president of University Energy Partnership, a nonprofit that brings energy advancements from researchers at five Pittsburgh-area universities to market, she helps drive local economic development.

“I think people are realizing that research can make a contribution to a regional economy, but that’s not enough,” says Gabriel. “How do you create business and ecosystems and jobs, not just for PhDs but for everyone?”

This story is part of the July/August 2012 Issue of the MIT News Magazine
See the rest of the issue
Subscribe

A former researcher herself, Gabriel earned her MIT degrees in electrical engineering and computer science after completing a bachelor’s degree at the University of Pittsburgh. She became a principal investigator at AT&T Bell Laboratories, earning three patents for the ultrafast all-optical switching devices and systems she devised. Through much of the 1990s, she worked at the National Science Foundation, first with industry-university centers and later as deputy head of the engineering directorate, and she served on the professional staff of the U.S. Senate Appropriations Committee.

Gabriel then returned to her native Pittsburgh. From 1998 to 2006 she worked at Carnegie Mellon, eventually as vice provost and CTO, successfully boosting the number of technology transfer transactions. For nearly five years, she worked as director of innovation economy at the Heinz Endowments, promoting economic growth in southwestern Pennsylvania.

Because of her success in Pittsburgh, she’s been tapped to advise the U.S. Department of Homeland Security’s headquarters consolidation in southeastern D.C. The new campus, the largest federal development since the construction of the Pentagon, is meant to function as an innovation cluster, spurring urban revitalization.

MIT also benefits from her experience. Gabriel has served on the Sponsored Research Corporation Visiting Committee since 2002. She enjoys the wide-ranging committee discussions, which cover everyday concerns, such as staffing needs, as well as big questions, such as dwindling government funding and new international collaborations.

Gabriel credits MIT with helping her develop two ways of thinking that have served her well throughout her career: the analytic and the synthetic. “The synthesis is what I think is even more important,” she says. “Engineers create something that never existed before.”

These days, Gabriel divides her time between Pittsburgh and Washington, D.C., where her husband, Kaigham Gabriel, SM ’79, ScD ’83, is acting director of DARPA. They have a son and two daughters, one of whom, Nivair, earned a degree in aeronautical engineering at MIT in 2008.

Want to go ad free? No ad blockers needed.

Become an Insider
Already an Insider? Log in.
Want more award-winning journalism? Subscribe to Insider Basic.
  • Insider Basic {! insider.prices.basic !}*

    {! insider.display.menuOptionsLabel !}

    Six issues of our award winning print magazine, unlimited online access plus The Download with the top tech stories delivered daily to your inbox.

    See details+

    What's Included

    Unlimited 24/7 access to MIT Technology Review’s website

    The Download: our daily newsletter of what's important in technology and innovation

    Bimonthly print magazine (6 issues per year)

/3
You've read of three free articles this month. for unlimited online access. You've read of three free articles this month. for unlimited online access. This is your last free article this month. for unlimited online access. You've read all your free articles this month. for unlimited online access. You've read of three free articles this month. for more, or for unlimited online access. for two more free articles, or for unlimited online access.