Prof. Alex ‘Sandy’ Pentland, PhD ‘82
MIT Media Lab
Speaker/Panelist 2016, 2015
Getting the Data: Approaches to Managing Personal Data (2015)
Alex `Sandy’ Pentland has helped create and direct MIT’s Media Lab, the Media Lab Asia, and the Center for Future Health. He chairs the World Economic Forum’s Data Driven Development council, is Academic Director of the Data-Pop Alliance, and is a member of the Advisory Boards for Google, Nissan, Telefonica, the United Nations Secretary General, Monument Capital, and the Minerva Schools.
In 2012 Forbes named Sandy one of the ‘seven most powerful data scientists in the world’, along with Google founders and the CTO of the United States, and in 2013 he won the McKinsey Award from Harvard Business Review. He is among the most-cited computational scientists in the world, and a pioneer in computational social science, organizational engineering, wearable computing (Google Glass), image understanding, and modern biometrics. His research has been featured in Nature, Science, and Harvard Business Review, as well as being the focus of TV features on BBC World, Discover and Science channels. His most recent book is Social Physics, published by Penguin Press.
Over the years Sandy has advised more than 50 PhD students. Almost half are now tenured faculty at leading institutions, with another one-quarter leading industry research groups and a final quarter founders of their own companies. Sandy’s research group and entrepreneurship program have spun off more than 30 companies to date, three of which are publicly listed and several that serve millions of poor in Africa and South Asia. Recent spin-offs have been featured in publications such as the Economist and the New York Times, as well as winning a variety of prizes from international development organizations.
Interesting experiences include winning the DARPA 40th Anniversary of the Internet Grand Challenge, dining with British Royalty and the President of India, staging fashion shows in Paris, Tokyo, and New York, and developing a method for counting beavers from space.