Award Recipients


Emily Cummins, doctoral candidate in sociology
Emily’s graduate work has centered on the structural and cultural influences that underpin gender inequality. She is a co-author of five publications in highly reputable journals, and is the first author of a forthcoming article in the most prominent American journal for the sociology of gender. Last year, she won an award from the Graduate Consortium in Women’s Studies for her “excellent work of feminist scholarship” that illustrated the disconnect between a certain liberal U.S. discourse about women’s empowerment and the real needs of poor women seeking work. Emily’s faculty mentors describe her as “a skilled ethnographer and a sophisticated thinker in her own right.”

Bolin Hu, doctoral candidate in electrical and computer engineering
In the past five years, Bolin’s work has been focused on developing integrated passive electronics for next-generation radar and communication platforms. She has been remarkably productive, having published 18 peer-reviewed articles and filed a U.S. patent application as a co-inventor. Her nomination letter states that “Bolin’s record of research far exceeds that of an average graduate student and in many ways exceeds that of many junior faculty members in the field.” An innovative researcher with strong analytical and problem-solving skills, Bolin is in her final semester of doctoral study at Northeastern.

Sheng Li, doctoral candidate in computer engineering
Sheng’s research covers machine learning and data mining, with a focus on developing scalable algorithms to learn effective representations for data. He is a member of the SMILE Lab, which focuses on applied machine learning, social media analytics, humancomputer interaction, and high-level image and video understanding. He has published more than 20 journal articles and conference papers and won multiple awards for his work, including the Best Paper Award at the 2014 SIAM International Conference on Data Mining in 2014, the top honor out of 389 submissions. Sheng is also credited for his leadership in teamwork. He is a co-inventor on two patents, one filed in the U.S. and the other in China.


Sujeet Akula, doctoral candidate in physics
Sujeet, who is in his final year working toward a doctorate, is nationally recognized as one of the 50 most promising young researchers in theoretical elementary particle physics. He has already published seven articles in top-rated, peer-reviewed journals. As an indication of his international research recognition, he has accepted a three-year postdoctoral position at Monash University in Melbourne, Australia, which has one of the most outstanding labs for research in Sujeet’s area of physics.

Mollie Ruben, doctoral candidate in psychology
Mollie’s adviser calls her the “complete researcher”—avid and very talented—as well as an excellent communicator, citizen, teacher, and collaborator. Her program of research is in health psychology, with a focus on patients’ experiences of physical pain and how psychosocial factors can impact and possibly ameliorate physical pain. She studies how patients’ perception of physical pain can be altered through provider communication and accuracy at judging physical pain and affective experience. Mollie is an author of seven published articles; four of her manuscripts are currently under review.

Ziyao Zhou, doctoral candidate in electrical and computer engineering
Ziyao’s cutting-edge research is on the discovery of novel magnetoelectric multiferroic thin-film heterostructures. He is a prolific author, with more than 20 papers published in respected journals, and his faculty adviser places him among the top graduate students in his research group over the past decade. During his doctoral study, Ziyao has shown great diligence, creativity, and team spirit, says his adviser.


Rand Ghayad, doctoral candidate in economics
Rand’s research concerns the Beveridge curve, which describes the relationship between job vacancies and unemployment. Findings from his work have generated strong interest from researchers and policymakers because of the implications for setting the conduct of monetary policy. Rand served as an economic consultant at the Brookings Institution last summer, and is currently a visiting scholar at the Federal Reserve Bank of Boston, an honor generally reserved for distinguished faculty members.

Catherine Matassa, doctoral candidate in biology
Catherine’s research focuses on the ways that predators can affect ecological communities by scaring their prey, rather than eating them. Her manipulative experiments on the rocky shores of New England have produced some of the first experimental tests of theory on how prey manage such risks and the ecological consequences of their behavior. Catherine is a co-author of six articles in top peer-reviewed journals and has five first-authored papers in preparation.

Gregory Peim, doctoral candidate in physics
Gregory is recognized nationally as one of the 50 most promising young researchers in theoretical elementary particle physics. He works in two areas of particle theory: the early discovery of new physics at the Large Hadron Collider in Geneva, Switzerland, and on analyses to determine the nature and identification of dark matter in the universe. Gregory is a co-author of 13 papers published in leading peer-reviewed journals.


Kristin Bell, doctoral candidate in criminology and justice policy
Kristin’s research, which centers on interpersonal violence, has transformed the way scholars understand the Armenian genocide. One of her most recent papers, under review for publication at Gender & Society, will be the first article in the field of criminology to examine the relationship of gender and genocide.

Bo Li, doctoral candidate in mechanical and industrial engineering
Bo’s most recent research in nanomaterials technology has led to the development of a unique method of fabricating suspended single-walled carbon nanotube micro/nano structures on three-dimensionally micropatterned hybrid structures, a technique that had never been demonstrated. He has also authored four papers that have been published in top nanoscience and nanotechnology journals.


Jolie Baumann, doctoral candidate in psychology

Tao Wang, doctoral candidate in pharmaceutical sciences