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ALERT & Gordon-CenSSIS Research Represented at RISE:2016 April 29, 2016

On April 7th, Northeastern University held its fifth annual Research, Innovation and Scholarship Expo (RISE), known as RISE:2016. The expo is an opportunity for students and faculty members to showcase use-inspired scholarly research and fundamental discoveries that can be translated into real-world applications. At RISE:2016, more than a dozen ALERT, Gordon-CenSSIS, and other affiliated students presented their inventive engineering research projects to the general public as well as the RISE judges, who hail from industry, investment, political, and media-related backgrounds.

Research based in the R3 Thrust, Bulk Sensors and Sensor Systems, was especially visible at the expo and represented by both graduate and undergraduate students. PhD candidates Yukinori Fuse and Mohammad Tajdini demonstrated their respective work with Professors Carey Rappaport and Jose Martinez-Lorenzo on advanced imaging and algorithm development for forward-looking vehicle-based Ground Penetrating Radar (GPR). Undergraduate student researcher Anthony Bisulco was present to explain his efforts in rapid security threat detection using millimeter-wave imaging, which he conducts within Prof. Martinez-Lorenzo’s group.

Members of the 2015-2016 ALERT and Gordon-CenSSIS Scholars Program were also presenters at RISE:2016. Innovative investigations into such topics as breast cancer imaging, big-data computing, large-scale image database development were representative of the Scholars’ year-long projects and potent material for participation in RISE.

We congratulate our students and faculty sponsors on their well-received presentations at RISE:2016!

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.

ALERT and CenSSIS Scholars 2016

2015-2016 Scholars [L-R], Top Row: James Dowd, Sule Sahin, Jennifer Silva, Peyton Perry, Sofia Catalina, Amanda Barbour, Kalina Yang, Matthew Greenlaw, Kevin Kimelman, Sarah Fayerweather; Bottom Row: Justin Xia, Aayush Parekh, Ryan Birke, Darya Malkova, August Howell.

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.

ASPIRE: Linking Students to Great Opportunities April 29, 2016

The fifth Annual Student Pipeline Industry Roundtable Event (ASPIRE) was held on Tuesday, April 12th, 2016 at Northeastern University in Boston.  It successfully brought together ALERT and Gordon-CenSSIS industrial partners, government stakeholders and current students of all levels involved in center research in order to build strong collaborations and provide networking opportunities for all participants. This year’s ASPIRE included students from 5 academic partner institutions and representatives from 10 industrial and government collaborators.

ASPIRE is part of the ALERT and Gordon-CenSSIS ongoing efforts to create robust partnerships within our industrial base and government stakeholders, while also giving our students the opportunity to network as they transition through academia and into the Homeland Security Enterprise.

The event is coordinated and led by our Industrial and Government Liaison Officer, Emel Bulat. The agenda includes industry and government presentations, followed by 2-minute presentations made by students. In the afternoon, representatives from industry and government meet face-to-face with students, as well as with each other, during a two-hour networking session, in conjunction with the student poster session.

We look forward to holding our next ASPIRE in the spring of 2017!

Northeastern News spotlights ALERT research in Airport Security Technologies April 28, 2016

FUTURE OF AIRPORT SECURITY – Northeastern News, 4/28/2016

According to the International Air Transport Association, about 8 million travelers make their way through airports around the world each day. Traditional security requires passengers to stand still while being screened, but Northeastern researchers are developing cutting-edge technology that can detect suspicious behavior—even when passengers are on the move…

Profs. Camps, Martinez, Radke, Rappaport, and Sznaier’s work is featured in this dynamic video story.

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TESSA02 Final Report Now Available April 1, 2016

The final report from the TESSA 02 Workshop, Fundamentals and Advances in Trace Sampling and Detection Workshop Information, is now available for download.

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The Associated Press features ALERT Researcher Otto Gregory’s work February 17, 2016

SOUTH KINGSTOWN, R.I. (AP) — A University of Rhode Island professor has developed a sensor that detects the kind of explosive used in the Paris bombings, to try to stop future attacks.

Professor Otto Gregory compares his sensor to a dog’s nose, the gold standard in explosives detection. It “sniffs” the air for vapors emitted from explosives.

Photo Description: In this Tuesday, Jan. 26, 2016 photo University of Rhode Island engineering professor Otto Gregory, right, is reflected in a silicon wafer, center, that contains sensors to detect explosives, in front of a thin film surface analyzer, behind, in a laboratory on the school’s campus, in South Kingstown, R.I. He has developed a sensor that detects the explosive used in the Paris bombings, to try to stop future attacks. Gregory compares his sensor to a dog’s nose, the gold standard in explosives detection. It “sniffs” the air for vapors emitted from explosives. (AP Photo/Steven Senne)

 

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DHS S&T hosts “The Nose Knows” Twitter Chat 12/17, 12pm December 17, 2015

Join the “The Nose Knows” Thursday December 17th at noon EST. Tune in and chat about improving canine explosives detection.

The Nose Knows: The Science of Threat Detection Canines

Did you know  dogs’ noses are a million times more sensitive than a human’s nose? Dogs can be trained to detect a wide variety of specific scents, such as drugs, fruits, and explosives and are trained to alert their handlers to the presence of these hazardous items by pawing, barking or, in the case of something dangerous, sitting or lying quietly.

Canines have been used by law enforcement agencies for decades to alert their handlers to threats or objects of interest. The Department of Homeland Security  (DHS) Science and Technology Directorate (S&T) Canine Program is working with DHS partners, including the Transportation Security Administration, other federal agencies, and state and local first responders to provide independent verification of canine teams’ performance, as well as ways to enhance overall detection capability…

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ADSA13 Presentations Now Available December 17, 2015

We are pleased to announce that the ADSA13 Workshop presentations are now available for download. View all slides, as well as the reports from past ADSA workshops at:

If you have any questions regarding the topics and technologies discussed at the workshop, please contact Carl Crawford at crawford.carl@csuptwo.com.

ALERT researchers work to develop robust Canine Training Aids December 16, 2015

Because of their volatility, explosives are rarely used pure, they are often mixed with other materials such as polymers. Explosives are exposed to polymers for a variety of reason: (1) when they are “plasticized” for shaping; (2) when they are encased for safe handling, (e.g. dog training aids); and (3) when they are collected for forensic evidence or storage. ALERT has focused on finding the best materials for developing devices such as these.

As a result of our study of polymer/HME interactions, ALERT researchers have developed a method of polymer encapsulation that is used to create safe trace explosive sources for canine and instrument training. Polycarbonate microspheres containing only a low percentage of TATP have been demonstrated to last for years, yet produce pure TATP vapor when heated at the designated program rate. This approach provides canine handlers and instrument vendors with safe access to stored hazardous explosives at trace levels for use in detection, calibration, and validation of instruments as well and the training of explosives detecting canines.

ALERT has received enthusiastic support from law enforcement and instrument vendors and are in negotiation for possible licensing with a commercial vendor. In the near term, law enforcement agencies and instrument vendors are able to request these training aids directly from ALERT.

Oxley said “Some of our biggest service clients are law enforcement agencies. When some of the improvised devices came into vogue, they were too sensitive for law enforcement agencies to handle.” Oxley explained that for the Popular Science crew, her team not only conducted a demonstration, but ran a test to determine if the dogs detect pseudo explosives as they do the real explosives.

“It worked and we were really excited, because this was a first-time run during which the dogs were testing both,” said the chemistry professor and co-coordinator of the URI Forensic Science Partnership. “We wanted to make sure they could associate one with the other; that was an extremely important task.

“With K-9s, we are looking at the odor signature, and we have to do that on an explosive-by-explosive basis,” she said.She added that Metropolitan Transit Authority police took advantage of training opportunities at URI long before other groups, but more and more agencies are seeking training, including the federal Transportation Security Administration, which has rotated dozens of agents through the URI campus this summer.

Photo caption: Sgt. Bill Finucane of the Metropolitan Transportation Authority Police Department in New York works with McCarney, one of the department’s dogs, while testing canine explosive training aids developed by URI’s Jimmie Oxley and her team.

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!

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