Category Archives: Kudos

Wendy Parmet, Distinguished Professor of Law and Professor of Public Policy and Urban Affairs ,dis­cusses the Supreme Court’s healthcare law upholding and the future of the health­care law

Wendy ParmetOn Thursday the Supreme Court made its second sig­nif­i­cant ruling on Pres­i­dent Barack Obama’s health­care law, finding in a 6–3 deci­sion that fed­eral sub­si­dies offered through the Afford­able Care Act should be avail­able to all sub­scribers, regard­less of whether the states in which they live have set up their own health insur­ance marketplaces.

The ques­tion the court had to con­sider was whether Amer­i­cans that receive their insur­ance through a federal-​​run health insur­ance mar­ket­place, as is the case in 34 states, should be eli­gible for fed­eral sub­si­dies that help make that health insur­ance affordable.

Oppo­nents to the law argued the sub­si­dies should only be avail­able to those whose states operate their own health insur­ance marketplaces.

In the majority opinion, Chief Jus­tice John Roberts wrote, “Con­gress passed the Afford­able Care Act to improve health insur­ance mar­kets, not to destroy them.” In a press con­fer­ence, Obama declared the law is “here to stay.”

Here, Wendy Parmet, an expert in health policy and law who has joint appoint­ments in the School of Law and the School of Public Policy and Urban Devel­op­ment, dis­cusses the court’s deci­sion and the future of the health­care law.

Asso­ciate Pro­fessor Amy Far­rell deliveres the lecture in the latest installment of the “Minds Over Matters: NUterm Faculty Speaker Series”

farrell1400-740x493In the wake of last year’s deadly shooting of Michael Brown in Fer­guson, Mis­souri, as well as other events in which the police’s use of force has been ques­tioned, is policing in America facing a legit­i­macy crisis? And if so, what do we do about it?

Amy Far­rell, an asso­ciate pro­fessor in theSchool of Crim­i­nology and Crim­inal Jus­tice, offered these ques­tions to kick off her lec­ture and dis­cus­sion last week in the latest install­ment of the “Minds Over Mat­ters: NUterm Fac­ulty Speaker Series.”

The series fea­tures weekly pre­sen­ta­tions from top fac­ulty scholars who dis­cuss their research and examine timely topics of global impor­tance. Farrell’s research focuses on the admin­is­tra­tion of jus­tice, with par­tic­ular emphasis on under­standing the impact of race and gender on police, pros­e­cu­tion, and sen­tencing practices.

When people lose trust in police, Far­rell said, research has shown that they are less likely to follow laws, assist police, come for­ward as wit­nesses, and obey police com­mands in sit­u­a­tions where offi­cers are attempting to use coer­cive force.

I think what you see res­onating across our country today is a wide­spread fear of the police,” she told stu­dents, fac­ulty, and staff in atten­dance, “a fear of the police that may have long been held in com­mu­ni­ties of color that’s now being rec­og­nized by com­mu­ni­ties that have the priv­i­lege not to have feared the police in the past.”

In response to these legit­i­macy con­cerns, police nation­wide have done some “col­lec­tive soul searching,” she said, and imple­mented sys­tems of trans­parency, like the Boston Police Department’s releasing of video footage fol­lowing inci­dents. Yet, Far­rell noted, “restoring that public con­fi­dence is a fun­da­men­tally dif­fi­cult task.”

Of the handful of issues that have at times threat­ened police legit­i­macy over the past 100 years in America, she said two are present in the wake of recent events: dis­crim­i­na­tion and inap­pro­priate use of coer­cive force.

Far­rell pointed to four prob­lems that have con­tributed to this sit­u­a­tion:
1) The move­ment away from com­mu­nity policing over the past 20 years—“Community policing never had a heyday, but it was a little plant that was starting to grow.”

2) The increased reliance on tech­nology to solve problems—the idea that police can col­lect data on “hot spots” for crime but aren’t mea­suring things like fair­ness and pro­ce­dural justice

3) The mil­i­ta­riza­tion of police—she pointed to a 2014 ACLU studythat exam­ined the increasing number of law enforce­ment agen­cies that have SWAT teams. “They are being deployed for rou­tine policing,” she said. “SWAT teams’ reliance on mil­i­ta­riza­tion and tech­nology increases the social dis­tance between police and community.”

4) Implicit bias—Farrell said this has been lurking under the country’s racial progress of the past half cen­tury. “These are not prej­u­dices that we are born with, but we live in a racial­ized society,” she said.

Solu­tions to these prob­lems won’t be easy, as his­tory has shown, Far­rell said. But she offered a few ideas, among them bringing com­mu­nity part­ner­ship back to policing and shrinking the social dis­tance between police and com­mu­nity by having police forces that are not only diverse but that also learn from and share in each other’s per­sonal experiences.

Far­rell also echoed her ear­lier calls for devel­oping account­ability sys­tems for police that go beyond crime sta­tis­tics and inte­grate a wider range of values beyond crime like fair­ness, equality, and pro­ce­dural jus­tice measures.

Oth­er­wise, these are just ideals without action,” she said.

Asso­ciate Pro­fessor Natasha Frost comments on ‘Orange is the New Black’ and US prison system

Natasha FrostOnly 6.7 per­cent of fed­eral inmates in America’s prisons are female, according to April 2015 data from the Fed­eral Bureau of Prisons. And Piper Chapman is one of them.

Well, not exactly. Chapman is the main char­acter in Orange is the New Black, the hit Net­flix series set in a fic­tional fed­eral women-​​only prison. The third season was released Thursday evening, with scores of fans expected to binge watch all 14 episodes. (Not to worry, no spoilers ahead!)

One person who won’t be among them though is Natasha Frost, an asso­ciate pro­fessor in Northeastern’s School of Crim­i­nology and Crim­inal Jus­tice. “I hardly watch any crim­inal jus­tice shows,” she said.

How­ever, Frost noted that the show’s growing pop­u­larity has dove­tailed with a rising aca­d­emic interest in female incar­cer­a­tion trends in the U.S. She said that while the country’s overall number of incar­cer­ated males has declined in recent years, the number of incar­cer­ated female has remained steady—or in some instances seen a slight uptick—during that time period. For example, according to a Bureau of Jus­tice Sta­tis­tics report released Thursday, the number of females con­fined in county and city jails increased by 18 per­cent between midyear 2010 and 2014, while the male pop­u­la­tion declined about 3 per­cent during the period.

In a way, these data have made the show timely,” Frost said. “There’s a lot of interest in my field now about what’s dri­ving the steady rate of women’s imprisonment.”

Frost’s research focuses pri­marily on the rates of incar­cer­a­tion across the U.S. states, and she has worked closely with the Women’s Prison Asso­ci­a­tion to com­plete assess­ments of state-​​level vari­a­tions in puni­tive­ness toward women. A 2006 report she co-​​authored was the first to com­pre­hen­sively chart out the dra­matic increase in female incar­cer­a­tion in the U.S. between 1977 and 2004, according to the association’s Insti­tute on Women and Crim­inal Justice.

Asso­ciate vice provost Katherine Ziemer deliv­ers the lec­ture in Northeastern’s “Minds over Mat­ters:NUterm Fac­ulty Speaker Series”

ziemer1400-740x493Whether it’s a boogie board, bicy­cles, or Bruce Wayne’s Bat­suit, the evo­lu­tion of how objects look and func­tion can be traced back to one ques­tion: “What if?” What if I create a dif­ferent kind of surf­board, one that doesn’t require as much training? Or what if Batman is trapped in a dark room and needs to see?

Katherine Ziemer, asso­ciate vice provost for cur­riculum and pro­fessor in the Depart­ment of Chem­ical Engi­neering, said that “What if?” is one of her favorite phrases. And it also leads to another ques­tion in Ziemer’s world of mate­rials sci­ence: “Why?”

Ziemer dis­cussed her curiosity on Wednesday after­noon in the Raytheon Amphithe­ater, deliv­ering the latest lec­ture in Northeastern’s “Minds over Mat­ters: NUterm Fac­ulty Speaker Series.” The weekly series fea­tures top fac­ulty scholars who dis­cuss their research and examine inno­va­tion, new dis­cov­eries, and timely topics of global importance.

‘What if we’ is the cre­ativity ques­tion,” Ziemer said. “It makes us open our minds a little bit, and how exciting is that?”

Ziemer explained how she often asks these ques­tions in ref­er­ence to how mate­rials can improve the world around us, whether it’s mon­i­toring brain activity, cleaning up water, or improving telecommunications.

To find answers, Ziemer turns to the atom, the smallest unit of matter. Through her research she attempts to deter­mine if she can con­trol atoms and how they com­bine— and there­fore con­trol the char­ac­ter­is­tics of the mate­rials they make up.

If I want to con­trol atoms, I have to under­stand why they do what they do,” Ziemer said. “I am looking at using atoms to do new and dif­ferent things.”

One way she has done this is through her work with the U.S. Navy to improve com­mu­ni­ca­tions across var­ious plat­forms, specif­i­cally during combat sit­u­a­tions. The Navy asked Ziemer “what if” she came up with a com­mu­ni­ca­tion system that was lighter in weight and required less power but still enabled the level of com­mu­ni­ca­tion the Navy needed.

When Ziemer looked at the amount of power needed for the com­mu­ni­ca­tion system to work, she noticed the var­ious types of chips required to gen­erate and con­trol the mag­netic and elec­tric fields.

Distinguished University Professor Lisa Feldman Barrett pinpoints epicenter of brain’s predictive ability

Lisa Feldman BarrettIn recent years, sci­en­tists have dis­cov­ered the human brain works on pre­dic­tions, con­trary to the pre­vi­ously accepted theory that it reacts to the sen­sa­tions it picks up from the out­side world. Experts say humans’ reac­tions are in fact the body adjusting to pre­dic­tions the brain is making based on the state [ ... ]

Professor Paula Caligiuri’s Program Connects Corporations with NGO’s

paulaATake eight American IT executives, plunk them in towns without reliable Internet and cellular connections — much less electricity and indoor plumbing — and see what they can accomplish.

Sounds like a spinoff of “Survivor.” But no one gets kicked off the island — or, in this case, the archipelago. Rather, winning depends on cooperation, not competition.

Continue reading below

James C. Bean Appointed New Provost of Northeastern

photo-james-beanNorth­eastern Uni­ver­sity Pres­i­dent Joseph E. Aoun has appointed James C. Bean as the university’s next provost and senior vice pres­i­dent for aca­d­emic affairs. Bean will suc­ceed Stephen W. Director, who is com­pleting his sev­enth year as provost.

Bean’s tenure will begin part time on July 1, 2015, as part of his tran­si­tion, and will begin full time on Aug. 20, 2015.

Mar­garet and I are thrilled to be part of the North­eastern com­mu­nity,” said Bean. “The tremen­dous momentum of this insti­tu­tion reflects the vision of its lead­er­ship, fac­ulty, staff, and stu­dents. North­eastern Uni­ver­sity is evolving a new model of higher edu­ca­tion based on excel­lence, rel­e­vance, and engage­ment. I look for­ward to joining the evolution.”

Professor Kara Swanson Selected as the 51st Robert D. Klein Lecturer

Kara SwansonProfessor Kara Swanson has been selected as the 51st Robert D. Klein Lecturer.  She will deliver her talk, “Banking on the Body:  The Market in Blood, Milk and Sperm in Modern America” at 3:00 p.m. on Tuesday, April 7, in the Raytheon Amphitheater, Northeastern University.

The Klein University Lecturer Award established in 1964, upon the recommendation of the Faculty Senate, honors a member of the teaching faculty who has contributed with distinction to his or her own field of study.  The University Lecture enables that faculty member to share the fruits of that scholarship with the University community and the general public.  In 1979, the award was renamed in tribute to the late Robert D. Klein, professor of mathematics, chairman of the Faculty Senate Agenda Community, and vice chairman of the Faculty Senate.

Rupal Patel captures voice melodies

Meirelles and PatelHealthy adults with fully developed vocal systems convey information by producing speech and changing the melody of their voice.

But children and adults with severe speech-motor disorders tend to rely more heavily on melodic cues, such as volume and duration. Patel uses her understanding of speech melody to create computational tools that can dramatically improve a disordered speaker’s ability to interact with the world.

In one project, Patel overlays meolodic fluctuations from a disordered speaker’s voice with a sentence spoken by a healthy donor of the same demographic. By merging the two signals, she creates a novel synthetic voice that conveys the user’s personal identity.

For children learning how to read, Patel also develops digital tools with visual cues—such as a rising and falling line—that signal pitch changes. Research suggests that by understanding the melody of speech earlier, children may achieve greater reading comprehension.

Andrea Parker motivates people through gaming

Andrea Grimes ParkerParker is shaping the field of personal health informatics—the use of technology to influence and inform the choices people make about their health. She begins by examining disparities—such as limited access to nutritious food—that affect people with limited economic resources and elevate their risk for chronic health conditions. Then she applies her own interactive solutions to help people overcome those disparities.