How does seasonal nutrient variation in seaweed affect shoreline ecosystems?
Can traditional Boston row-houses be re-designed to renew urban neighborhoods?
Is it possible to develop an eye-tracking system that allows physically-disabled individuals to play video games?
These are three of the many research questions being pursued by current Northeastern graduate students. Their answers, sought by Valerie Perini, Scott Swails and Jeffrey Breugelmans, were featured alongside others from across the disciplines in this year's Research and Scholarship Expo.
The Expo, which has grown from 64 entries ten years ago to over 300 posters and presentations in 2011, highlights the innovation, creativity and impact of the University's undergraduates, graduate students and faculty members.
"Every year it gets better and better," said Provost Stephen Director, "the quality of research that's going on at Northeastern is absolutely tremendous."
Perini, a master's degree candidate in Biology who also received her undergraduate degree from Northeastern, is taking advantage of the University's coastal location. For the past year, she has monitored wave heights from the University's Marine Science Center five miles north of the Boston Harbor in Nahant, MA, to determine how storms can increase seasonal nutrient availability to seaweeds.
Swails is nearing completion of his one-year master's program in architecture and investigated the conditions, economy and history of triple-decker high-density housing units in Boston's Dorchester neighborhood. Rather than invest in renovating condemned units, Swails proposes rebuilding them to incorporate green space and natural lighting in a way that will be more cost efficient in the long run.
Breugelmans, a native of the Netherlands, is in the beginning stages of his PhD dissertation in Mechanical and Industrial Engineering. Through the Intelligent Human-Machine Systems Laboratory, he is developing an interface system for individuals with disabilities who cannot use traditional keyboard and mouse devices. Through eye-tracking and a data glove, Breugelmans aims to overcome accessibility issues for physically disabled populations.
In addition to these projects, students at the Expo displayed posters and gave presentations ranging from utilizing digital media for empowering youth to communication difficulties between pharmacists and patients to contextualization issues in the Corinthian Church.
Awards were given in seven categories, which reflect the diversity of research on campus:
- Computer and Information Sciences
- Engineering and Technology
- Health Sciences and Technology
- Humanities and Arts
- Interdisciplinary Topics, Centers and Institutes
- Physical and Life Sciences
- Social Sciences, Business and Law
Northeastern has 37 interdisciplinary research centers and institutes in a variety of subjects, including law, education and business management. The University's proximity and contributions to Boston's successful biotechnology industry make it a natural home to an NSF-funded engineering research center and an NSF-funded nanotechnology center; though the University is perhaps best known for its advances in technology and the health sciences, it also capitalizes on its urban environment by being a leader in Crime and Violence Prevention and Urban and Public Policy research.
Northeastern is dedicated to supporting graduate students to address global challenges in health, security and sustainability across the disciplines. Financial support is offered through grants, scholarships, fellowships and teaching and research assistantship positions, and details can be found at http://www.northeastern.edu/financialaid/graduate/index.html.
More information on the Research Expo, including a list of winners and abstracts, can be found at http://www.northeastern.edu/expo/. Details on Research at Northeastern can be found at http://www.northeastern.edu/research/.
Submitted by Beth Giudicessi, April 2011