Cynthia Barnhart

Chancellor, Ford Professor of Engineering


Research Interests:

Large-scale optimization, Airlines operations, Transportation operations, planning, and control

Appointed chancellor of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology in 2014, Cynthia Barnhart is reimagining student life and learning at MIT to meet the needs of today’s students. She is responsible for advising the president on undergraduate and graduate education and residential life policies. She plays a leading role in strategic planning, faculty appointments, resource development, and campus planning activities. Over the past four years, she has overseen a significant expansion in student health and wellness programs, launched a multifaceted campaign to prevent and respond to sexual misconduct on campus, and focused on new efforts to enhance undergraduate and graduate education.

A member of the Institute’s faculty since 1992, Barnhart has a distinguished record of service to her students and community. She is a Ford Foundation Professor of Engineering and a professor in the Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering. She previously served as associate and acting dean of the School of Engineering and co-directed both the Operations Research Center and the Center for Transportation and Logistics.

Her teaching and research is in the areas of large-scale optimization, airlines operations, the global airline industry, and transportation operations, planning, and control. She has supervised scores of graduate and undergraduate theses across a range of disciplines, and has published widely in the flagship journals of her field.

Barnhart came to MIT in 1984 to pursue graduate work in transportation and operations research, earning her SM in transportation in 1985 and her PhD in 1988. An INFORMS Fellow and elected member of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences and the National Academy of Engineering, she has received honorary doctorates from the École Polytechnique Fédérale de Lausanne (2014) and the University of Toronto (2016).

Research Clusters:


Google Scholar:


Operations Research and Statistics, Air Transportation, Networks and Systems

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