Joseph M. Jacobson

Associate Professor of Media Arts and Sciences
  • Molecular Machines

Joseph Jacobson is Associate Professor at The Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT)  where he leads the MIT Media Lab's Molecular Machines Group and is a founding member of the Center for Bits and Atoms. Together with his students and collaborators, his lab at MIT has been instrumental in pioneering a number of areas within science and engineering including:

Next Generation Error Correcting Gene Synthesis for programming cells to produce new pharmaceuticals, renewable chemicals, fuels and food; Printed Inorganic Electronics and Electronic Ink (The technology behind the Amazon Kindle and most ebooks); Genomically Recoded Organisms for programmatically building non-natural proteins; Broadly Targeting and Highly Specific CRISPRs for accurate genome editing; Scaling Science for predicting areas of research likely to be of exceptional impact.

His lab is currently focused on the coupling of Machine Learning and AI together with high throughput synthesis and test to design novel proteins and small molecules for a range of applications  as well as projects in molecular scale device fabrication.

Jacobson received his Ph.D. in physics from MIT in 1992 for his work in femtosecond laser physics where he created the world’s shortest pulse laser (in optical cycles). He was a post-doctoral fellow at Stanford (ERATO Post-Doctoral Fellow, Nonlinear Quantum Optics) from 1992 to 1995 working on experimental and theoretical nonlinear non-local quantum systems.  His theoretical work, Photonic DeBroglie Waves, which was later validated experimentally, was published in the Physical Review and was written up in the New York TimesNew Scientist and Physics Today

Joseph Jacobson has authored over 70 peer reviewed papers and conference proceedings in the fields of femotosecond lasers, quantum optics, printed electronics, and synthetic biology and has 115 issued U.S. patents. He is the recipient of a number of prizes and awards including a 1999 Technology Review TR100 Award for the top 100 Innovators under 35, The 2000 Gutenberg Prize (Germany), a 2001 Discover Award, The 2013 Exner Medal and 2016 induction into the U.S. Patent Office’s Inventors Hall of Fame. 

Jacobson’s work has been honored with over 250 newspaper and magazine articles including New York Times, The Economist, Wired, National Geographic, Newsweek, Business Week, Popular Science, as well as a number of front page or cover articles including the USA TodayThe Wall St. Journal business section, Technology Review, Scientific American and Nature.

In the non-profit sector, Jacobson was a founding director of the non-profit foundation, One Laptop Per Child (OLPC), which designs and builds laptops for education for kids around the globe. 


Webb Chappell