Category Archives: Kudos
Healthy 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.
Parker 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.
For example, Parker is collaborating with colleagues at Northeastern to create digital programs—a mix of mobile applications, web-based games, and social media—to encourage low-income families to increase their weekly exercise and teenagers to become peer advocates for good nutrition.
To be effective, the technology must align with the communities she’s trying to reach. It has to “feel authentic,” she says, to connect naturally with people and their lives, in ways that energize and motivate.
Jamie Ladge discovers that involved dads are happier at work and experience less job-family conflict
The more time fathers spend with their children on a typical day, the greater job satisfaction and less conflict between work and family they experience, according to a new study by Northeastern University researchers.
They found that companies also stand to benefit from these positive work-related outcomes for involved fathers—the more time dads spend with their children, the more likely they are to experience work-family enrichment and the less likely they are to think about quitting their jobs.
The research was published in February in the journal Academy of Management Perspectives in a paper co-authored by associate professor Jamie Ladge and assistant professor Marla Baskerville Watkins in the D’Amore-McKim School of Business. Professors at the Boston College Center for Work and Family and the University of Massachusetts Lowell also co-authored the paper.
“One of the big takeaways here is that there’s a real benefit to being an involved father,” Ladge said. “By doing so, they’ll be happier and more satisfied in their workplace, which leads to positive outcomes for their organizations.”
From wind turbines to electric motors, alternative energy solutions need super-strong magnets to function. These magnets, in turn, require rare earth elements—and more than 95 percent of the world’s supply is in China, where prices are kept high. Lewis has devised a novel approach to creating super-strong magnets. If successful, it will reduce the cost of alternative energy and make us less reliant on rare earth elements present in virtually every modern technological device. Lewis is devising another method for producing super-strong magnets—inspired by a similar process that meteorites undergo over a few billion years. As a meteorite cools, its nickel and iron atoms arrange themselves into highly ordered structures that have super-magnetic properties. An expert in nanochemistry, Lewis is using precisely arranged nickel and iron nanoparticles to recreate these alternative magnets— and in a tiny fraction of the time needed by meteorites.
She is applying her arsenal of biochemical and genetic engineering tools to microalgae cells, which naturally produce a biodiesel precursor called triacylglycerol.
Microalgae cells use triacylglycerol molecules to store energy, but it takes several weeks to accumulate levels high enough for practical use.
If we can uncover the nuances of the machinery in microalgae cells, says Lee-Parsons, then we should be able to determine how to speed up triacylglycerol production and “milk” microalgae of triacylglycerol without destroying the cells.
Amidon is at the forefront of a growing movement of landscape designers creating more sustainable cities by harnessing nature’s own processes—an approach with very quantifiable benefits when it comes to offsetting urban pollution.
For example, an acre of wetland can store 1 to 1.5 million gallons of floodwater. And in one year an acre of mature trees can absorb the carbon dioxide produced by 26,000 miles of car travel.
Chronic health conditions that afflict two-thirds of Americans have roots that go deeper than people’s individual medical and behavioral profiles, says Sceppa. Community factors—environment, economics, and culture—can inhibit regular physical activity.
Changing the terms of the conversation—proving that daily exercise is as effective in maintaining health as any drug—can help overcome those factors, and give the medical community a push in the direction of prescribing a workout instead of a pill.
Scientists and doctors have long known that food digestion affects the way the body absorbs not just nutrients, but also drugs. Fat molecules, in particular, can help people absorb drugs, including oral chemotherapy treatments, more efficiently.
What we have yet to discover are the details of this process that would enable doctors to fine-tune drug dosages, minimize side effects, and make drug delivery more efficient. But Carrier may soon be able to start filling in those knowledge gaps.
Clark is a leading researcher in the field of nanosensors, and she is applying her expertise to reveal what has eluded generations of scientists: how, exactly, do the chemicals in our brains interact to generate emotions, thoughts, memories, and actions? […]