News & Events
Awards and Achievements
ALERT Researcher Named IAPR Fellow January 27, 2017
Professor Yun Raymond Fu, ALERT researcher and interdisciplinary faculty member affiliated with the College of Engineering and the College of Computer and Information Science at Northeastern University, has been selected as a fellow of the International Association for Pattern Recognition (IAPR). Fellows are elected to the IAPR every two years as an acknowledgment of distinguished contributions in the field of pattern recognition and to the organization’s activities.
Professor Fu was selected to be a fellow for his contributions to pattern recognition, data mining and visual intelligence. Professor Fu’s research interests include machine learning and computational intelligence, social media analytics, human-computer interaction, and cyber-physical systems. He is the founding director of the Synergistic Media Learning Lab.
Additionally, Professor Fu contributes to Video Be on the Lookout (vBOLO), a project led by ALERT and VACCINE (Visual Analytics for Command, Control, and Interoperability Environments), both DHS Centers of Excellence, in conjunction with the Greater Cleveland Regional Transit Authority (GCRTA). vBOLO applies cutting-edge research in human re-identification using subjects’ clothing, gait, and faces to produce an entirely computerized system that could interface directly with a video surveillance network to automatically find re-appearances of tagged suspects. The potential impact of large-scale re-identification systems in major transit hubs and other crowded venues includes reductions in thefts, real-time or forensic tracking of suspects’ destinations or origins in surveillance video, and assessments of intervention strategies on flow rates and system efficiency.
ALERT congratulates Professor Fu on his IAPR fellowship!
ALERT Receives Funding for Strategic Initiatives November 1, 2016
The ALERT Center of Excellence at Northeastern University has received additional funding from the Department of Homeland Security for the following projects:
- A project entitled Research and Development of Systems for Tracking Passengers and Divested Items at the Checkpoint, also known by its acronym CLASP (Correlating Luggage and Specific Passengers), which will address tracking passengers and divested items at the checkpoint.
- In collaboration with the Center for Visualization at Data Analytics (CVADA), ALERT received funding to continue the development of a Video Be on the Lookout (vBOLO) system to help re-identify subjects of interest as they re-appear in a surveillance system.
- ALERT also received funding for Adaptive Automatic Target Recognition for CT-Based Object Detection Systems, otherwise known as AATR. The researchers involved with this project will develop adaptive automated target recognition (ATR) algorithms for CT-based explosive detection systems (EDS) for inspection of divested items at the checkpoint and checked luggage. The focus will be on adaptive ATR (AATR) algorithms that can be configured in the field to add new targets after deployment without having to retrain and retest the ATR.
Photo caption: Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute’s initial Airport Security Area Testbed serves as the foundation for the CLASP research effort.
ALERT Phase 2 Year 3 Annual Report Available Online! September 30, 2016
ALERT is proud to announce that the Phase 2 Year 3 Annual Report is now available for download online. This report details the continued research in ALERT’s four thrusts:
- R1 Characterization & Elimination of Illicit Explosives
- R2 Trace & Vapor Sensors
- R3 Bulk Sensors & Sensor Systems
- R4 Video Analytics & Signature Analysis
A full bibliography of publications and presentations conducted under ALERT support follows the individual project reports. Comprehensive descriptions of the Year 3 activities that took place in our Research and Transition, Education, Strategic Studies, Safety, and Information Protection Programs, as well as the ALERT Phase 2 Overview and Year 3 Highlights, Infrastructure and Evaluation, and Industrial/Practitioner and Government Partnerships can also be accessed in the Annual Report.
ALERT’s work in Improving Security Screening featured in IEEE Antennas & Propagation Magazine September 19, 2016
ALERT Bulk Sensors & Sensor Systems Thrust Leader Professor Carey Rappaport and ALERT Researcher Assistant Professor Jose Martinez Lorenzo’s article on Improving Security Screening: A Comparison of Multistatic Radar Configurations for Human Body Imaging was one of four featured articles in the August issue of IEEE Antennas & Propagation Magazine. The four articles in this issue focused on “various concepts that could enhance future imaging scenarios” and asks the question, “…is it possible to combine all of these ideas into a next-generation advanced imaging system for security and other applications?”.
The article presents the use of a fully multistatic millimeter wave radar system. The radar can be used for imaging concealed objects on the human body at airport security checkpoints with increased speed and accuracy.
ALERT Featured in DHS Science & Technology Newsroom August 29, 2016
The ALERT Center of Excellence works closely with industry partners like Detectachem and first responders to develop technologies and algorithms to enhance the ability to eliminate illicit explosives.
This month, ALERT was featured in the DHS S&T’s Responder Newsroom highlighting its improvement of explosives training solutions for first responders. The feature showcases ALERT’s work with K-9 explosive detection training aids (TEAS).
Rapiscan receives DHS SAFETY Act Designation & Certification August 19, 2016
Congratulations to ALERT industry member Rapiscan on their DHS SAFETY Act Designation and Certification. The SAFETY Act is designed to promote the development and distribution of anti-terrorism technologies by providing liability protections for Sellers of “qualified anti-terrorism technologies.”
Rapiscan is the world’s leading security screening provider, delivering the highest level of threat detection compliance. The SAFETY Act has designated and certified their line of non-invasive metal detection systems that can be used to detect explosives. The technology also includes software that provides networked operations such as installation, integration, maintenance, training, a warranty, personnel qualifications, and all technical manuals.
Congratulations to our ALERT and Gordon-CenSSIS Scholars! April 29, 2016
This year, ALERT and Gordon-CenSSIS had the honor of hosting 15 freshmen engineering students as participants in the ALERT and Gordon-CenSSIS Scholars Program.
After two semesters of active involvement in the program — which includes participation in an ALERT or Gordon-CenSSIS research project, K-12 STEM outreach, and Scholar meetings, seminars and activities — they completed the program on Wednesday, April 20th, 2016, when they presented their final research presentations to their faculty advisors and other members of the Scholars community. The final presentations consisted of 3-minute overviews of each Scholar’s research project, addressing their project’s overall mission and activities, their specific contributions to the project, as well as what knowledge and skills they gained.
The ALERT and Gordon-CenSSIS Scholars Program is designed to provide freshmen engineers with the opportunity to get involved in research and STEM outreach, but also focuses on building their professional development. Throughout the year, Scholars attended seminars on Public Speaking Skills, Research Ethics, Lab Safety and Research Poster Building Skills.
The program also aims to provide Scholars with multiple resources for mentorship and guidance. In addition to their faculty advisor, the program coordinator, and the STEM Center team, each Scholar is assigned a specific Scholar Mentor, who regularly connects with them regarding program-related activities, as well as questions or concerns related to their overall experience at NU. Scholar Mentors are undergraduate engineering students who have previously completed the Scholars program, and who apply to participate in this supporting role. As part of their involvement this spring, the Mentors each gave a presentation to the Scholars on their research, outreach and co-op experiences.
All ALERT and Gordon-CenSSIS Scholars who successfully complete the program requirements receive an NU Bookstore Voucher of up to $1,000.
The program is hosted and sponsored by the Awareness and Localization of Explosives-Related Threats (ALERT) Department of Homeland Security Center of Excellence, and the Bernard M. Gordon Center for Subsurface Sensing and Imaging Systems (Gordon-CenSSIS), a Graduated National Science Foundation Engineering Research Center.
ALERT Students Received Top Award at URI’s Internet of Things Hackathon November 30, 2015
On Friday, November 13th, 2015, students at the “Internet of Things Hackathon,” at URI were divided into teams, assigned a problem to solve with modern technologies, and given the rest of the weekend to compete for the top prize. Three students from ALERT were teamed up to develop an idea for a product that could locate radiation sources in real time and help determine the exact location of a biological weapon. The team, comprised of Anthony Bisulco, a sophomore at Northeastern University, Darby Hoss, a graduate student from Purdue University, and Amanda Figueroa, a senior from the University of Puerto Rico Mayaguez, created a prototype of a system that determined the location of the radiation source based on measurements from remote, wearable sensors.
Logan Jackson, former ALERT REU, named Rhodes Scholar November 23, 2015
We at ALERT would like to congratulate our former REU Student and ALERT and Gordon-CenSSIS Scholar, Logan Jackson, on being named a Rhodes Scholar. This award is all the more meaningful as it is the first time that a Northeastern University student has received this prestigious scholarship.
Currently an Undergraduate in Civil Engineering at Northeastern, Logan is also the recipient of the 2015 Robert J. Shillman Award for Engineering Excellence. This award recognizes extraordinary academic achievement in the fields of engineering and computer science. Logan was one of four NEU rising seniors awarded this year and is celebrated for her drive, focus and dedication in continuing to demonstrate academic excellence.
In 2012, she conducted ALERT research as an REU student with ALERT Phase 1 researcher Mehrdad Sasani. Logan was also a 2012 ALERT and Gordon-CenSSIS Scholar and has mentored other scholars in the years since. She the current president of the Black Engineering Student Society and this year received the President’s Award.
Congratulations, Logan!Read More
Student Spotlight Interview with Mihindra Dunuwille July 1, 2015
Congratulations to Mihindra Dunuwille, a spring 2015 Chemistry Ph.D. graduate at Washington State University (WSU), who has recently started working as a postdoc at the University of Utah! During her time at WSU, Mihindra worked on ALERT research under the guidance of Prof. Choong-Shik Yoo. Her thesis, “Pressure-induced Physical and Chemical Changes of Non-conventional Energetic Materials: Nitrate, Perchlorate and Peroxide Chemistries at High Pressures and High Temperatures,” focused on discerning the chemical properties of non-conventional materials that are widely used in terrorist activities in the hopes of developing techniques to mitigate explosives-related threats.
In order to understand how these chemicals are altered to become explosive, Mihindra performed experiments to determine the effects of physical and thermal conditions (e.g. pressure and temperature) on chemical properties on three types of oxidizers: nitrate, perchlorate and peroxide.
When asked about her experience working on this project, Mihindra describes her enthusiasm for the breadth of information that she was able to acquire just by tuning the physical variables (e.g. pressure) of these chemicals. Regarding the project’s overall mission, she states, “I’m passionate about how this can be used in real life applications, and that it can change people’s lives for the better.”
Mihindra has been drawn to physical chemistry since high school, and received her B.S. in Chemistry from the University of Colombo in Sri Lanka. She was originally introduced to Prof. Yoo’s research while at WSU on a prospective visit before accepting their offer to join the Ph.D. program in 2008. Of her experience working with Prof. Yoo, she remembers being encouraged to investigate the scientific basis of experimental observations on her own, instead of being handed the answers, and says, “It made me a better scientist.”
In her new role as a postdoc at the University of Utah, Mihindra has the opportunity to demonstrate her skills and experience from her previous project, while also getting the chance to explore new scientific techniques. Her current project, “Superconductivity of Lithium Rich Compounds,” will give her the chance to study the effects of high pressures and low temperatures on chemical properties, and will offer her the opportunity to get more experience with x-ray diffraction techniques. When asked about her career goals, she undoubtedly wants to continue doing research on explosives where she would like to have a positive impact on society, and would one day like to work for a national lab.
Mihindra’s enthusiasm for her work becomes quickly apparent when speaking with her, and is further reinforced by Prof. Yoo, who reflects, “She was smart, careful, responsible, and highly motivated both in her research and academic leadership roles… in short, she was an excellent graduate student with a high level of devotion and morale.”