Susan Hockfield, PhD

Living Machines: How the Next Tech Revolution Will Change Our Lives

    Much like the digital wonders of the 20th century, the current convergence of tech and biology is poised to transform the world as we know it. Helping us navigate our incoming future is Susan Hockfield, the first female President of MIT. She considers how we can take advantage of everything these next-generation technologies—from virus-built batteries to computer-generated crops—have to offer in terms of innovation on a global stage. With the keen eye of a futurist, the fearlessness of a leader, and the business savvy of an entrepreneur, Hockfield offers a tantalizing glimpse into the world to come—and a road map on how to best prepare for it.

    “Physicists gave engineers the electron and they created the IT revolution. Biologists gave engineers the gene and together they will create the future.” – Susan Hockfield

    Susan Hockfield is the first woman and the first life scientist to lead MIT. Under her historic presidency, the numbers of women and underrepresented minorities at the University soared—at the undergraduate, graduate, and faculty levels. In addition to her steadfast commitment to diversity, Hockfield spearheaded numerous transformative projects during her tenure. She launched the wildly successful MIT Energy Initiative, which raised over 350 million dollars towards building a more sustainable future and attracted the attention of President Barack Obama. In fact, Hockfield’s presidency was the most successful period of fundraising in MIT history, with nearly 3 billion dollars raised. She also took the lead on campus development, and, in keeping with MIT’s entrepreneurial spirit, fostered Kendall Square into what it is today—an innovation hub of labs, research centers, and corporate offices located on some of the most valuable real estate in Massachusetts.

    A neuroscientist by training, Hockfield championed many breakthroughs emerging from the “convergence” of biology and technology. Under her presidency, several convergence institutes were founded, including the Institute for Medical Engineering and Science at MIT, the David H. Koch Institute for Integrative Cancer Research, where she remains a member, and the Ragon Institute of MGH, MIT, and Harvard, founded to accelerate progress against HIV/AIDS. Her book, The Age of Living Machines: How Biology Will Build the Next Technology Revolution, explores how radical new convergence technologies—from mind-reading bionic limbs to cancer-detecting nanoparticles—will address some of the greatest humanitarian, medical, and environmental challenges of our time. More importantly, Hockfield reveals how these innovations will touch every industry, from energy and manufacturing to health care, agriculture, and beyond.

    Prior to joining MIT, Hockfield was a professor of neurobiology at Yale, where she later became dean of the Graduate School of Arts and Sciences and then eventually provost. Hockfield also held the Marie Curie Visiting Professorship at Harvard University’s John F. Kennedy School of Government. She has served as a U.S. science envoy to Turkey with the U.S. Department of State and the inaugural co-chair of the Advanced Manufacturing Partnership, a task force of government, industry, and academic leaders.