RNA research

Research Computing Spotlight: Professor Paul Whitford

Research identifies new rotation in the ribosome

In February 2016, the prestigious scientific journal Nature Communications published its first research paper based on work performed exclusively on the Discovery Cluster at Northeastern. Professor Paul Whitford from the Department of Physics, along with his graduate student Kien Nguyen, conducted research on the relationship between molecular structure and the dynamics in the ribosome, and authored Steric interactions lead to collective tilting motion in the ribosome during mRNA–tRNA translocation.

“Our study predicts how a precise movement in this nanoscale machine (the ribosome) directly controls biological function,” said Professor Whitford. “This opens up a wide range of medical applications that will aim to regulate the cell.”

According to Professor Whitford, since 2,000 researchers have been interested in how large-scale rotations in the ribosome enable biological function. But thanks to the high-end computing resources that Northeastern offers, his group’s work completes this picture by identifying a new rotation, as well as showing its regulatory role in the ribosome.

“Without Northeastern University’s research computing resources, this would not have been possible,” said Professor Whitford. “It is terrific how the Discovery Cluster allows us to explore and develop new ideas. This is exciting for me and my students.”

Discovery is the university’s shared high performance computing (HPC) cluster installed in the Massachusetts Green High Performance Computing Center (MGHPCC) facility and available for use to all Northeastern researchers and collaborators. A dedicated research computing team manages the cluster and provides a high level of support for Northeastern’s HPC researchers, including programming support, software installation and configuration, and algorithmic expertise in several research domains.

“The Research Computing team and I are proud to be able to support Paul and Kien in their research using Discovery that led to this achievement,” said Rajiv Shridhar, who directs the ITS Research Computing team and has served as the university’s MGHPCC lead since the consortium’s inception in 2010. “ITS is committed to helping our researchers by providing leading-edge technology resources and support. The university’s investment in Discovery and MGHPCC recognizes the importance of effective computing in identifying and solving the new research problems facing our world. I look forward to more opportunities for us to collaborate with and support our researchers.”

About the Discovery Cluster
Established in 2012, the Discovery Cluster has steadily grown in size and breadth of services. Discovery currently offers more than 10,000+ Intel compute cores, 50TB of RAM, 2.5 PiB of high-speed parallel file system storage, multiple high-end GPUs, a Hadoop/Spark big data configuration, and support for sensitive data research at the CMS security level.

In addition to the shared access model, ITS offers several hosting and support options, including a ‘buy-in’ service model for researchers wishing to acquire and contribute resources to the cluster that are then fully managed by ITS and made available to them. Use of the cluster is governed by an advisory committee composed of faculty from many colleges.

For more information, visit the Research Computing website.


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3 time-saving tech tips

As life gets busier, we need easy solutions to help us perform our work effectively. For this reason, ITS compiled a list of tips to make your life easier, whether you are writing your term paper and need to conduct online research, want to catch up on keyboard shortcuts to supercharge your workflow, or create a killer presentation – and don’t want to spend too much time thinking about it. Check it out:

Get more out of Google when conducting research

You can be more successful in your research if you refine the way you google what you are looking for. In the link below, you will learn step-by-step how to get far more specific results than you would just by researching generic terms.

Here’s How

Keyboard shortcuts you don’t know how you lived without

You probably know that keyboard shortcuts enable you to do your work much faster than using your mouse. It does require a bit of mental effort to learn, but it’s worthwhile. You can also disconnect your mouse from your computer if that forces you to practice and memorize shortcuts.

Here’s How

How to create and deliver an effective presentation

If you spend a lot of time thinking of how you can make your presentations more appealing, but are always unsure if you are on the right track, take a look at the link below for some tips. From font style to slide backgrounds to the use of art, you will have a better idea of what a presentation should look like so you can nail it next time.

Here’s How

Woman At Laptop

Lifehack: How to delay the delivery of email messages

e all have experienced an email blooper at some point, whether it was sending a message to the wrong person, forgetting to attach a file, hitting reply to all unintentionally, or just regretting the language used in a message in a moment of passion. The good news is that Gmail and Outlook have features that allow you to delay the delivery of email messages. Giving yourself a few extra seconds to react may prevent you from saying “Oh No!” next time you hit send. Here’s how:

HuskyMail (Gmail)

Originally developed in 2009 as a Gmail Labs (experimental feature), this feature has officially been available for over six years.

  1. In the web-based version of your Gmail account, click the gear in the top right gear and select Settings.
  2. Scroll down to “Undo Send” and click Enable.
  3. Select the send cancelation period of your choice (seconds), which means the amount of time you have to decide if you want to recall an email.


  1. Scroll to the bottom of the page and click Save Changes.

Note: If you don’t click “Undo” within the time limit you set, your message will be sent. Additionally, “Undo Send” may not work if you experience connection issues.

Microsoft Outlook

  1. On the tools menu, click Files, and then click Rules and Alerts.
  2. Click New Rule and then select Apply rule on the messages I send and then click next.
  3. In the Step 1: Select conditions, select all the options that you want and then click next. If you do not to select any conditions, a dialog box appears. Click Yes and the rule will be applied to all messages you send.


  1. In the Step 1: Select actions, select defer deliver by a number of minutes.
  2. In the Step 2: Edit the rule, enter the number of minutes for which you want the message to be held before sending.
  3. Click OK, and then click Next.


  1. Select any exceptions you want and click Next.
  2. Specify a name for this rule, select Turn on this rule and click finish.



Stop Theft laptop label

Summer travel in your plans? Keep your devices and data secure

Summer is when many people make plans to go out of the state or the country. We want you to enjoy your get away as much as you can, so we have designed this checklist to remind you of everything you should be aware of before traveling to avoid hassles.

Keep an eye open on your electronics

Whether you’re in a familiar place or a new one, do not leave your laptop, phone, or any other device unattended in public; it only takes seconds for opportunistic thieves to grab your belongings and disappear.

Even if you are with your things, when sitting in public do not leave your bag or purse hanging from the back of your chair or by your feet, and keep zippers and all pockets closed.

For those big trips where you’re checking luggage, never store your valuables and electronics in anything you’re not carrying with you; every year hundreds of baggage handlers are caught stealing expensive items from travelers’ luggage.

Employ strong passwords

Make sure you have a strong passcode on your phone, tablet and laptop, to serve as barriers should something be stolen.

A strong passcode contains more than four digits; a strong laptop password is at least eight characters long, contains upper and lower case letters, and numbers and/or special characters. This does make them hard to remember, but it is more effective and you can always use a password manager.

Do not keep passcodes or passwords on a piece of paper (or anything else) that you carry with you.


Keep your data safe

If you are traveling for business and have sensitive or personally identifiable data (Pii) stored on your Northeastern laptop, please contact the Office of Information Security at ois@neu.edu before you leave. Laws and regulations govern how to store sensitive data on mobile devices while traveling, and the data or laptop may need to be encrypted to ensure its protection and compliance. For more information on Pii, see the Appropriate Use Policy.

It’s also a good idea to back up your mobile data before you go on a trip. External backup drives are inexpensive, can also be encrypted for added protection if they are ever stolen, and provide an easy, worry-free solution to keep your data safe. Make sure to store your backup drive in a safe place.

Register your laptop with NUPD

Northeastern University Police Department will register your laptop free of charge. A small Stop Theft plate will be securely attached to your laptop. To set up an appointment to register, please contact Crime Prevention Coordinator, Officer John Farrell, at 617.373.5402, Monday to Friday, 8 a.m.- 4 p.m.

eduroam international mapUse eduroam for easy worldwide wireless access

Northeastern participates in a reciprocal wireless system, called eduroam, which enables Northeastern students, faculty, and staff to securely access the eduroam wireless network off-campus at more than 5,000 participating locations worldwide. A full list of participating US Institutions is available on the eduroam website. An international map is also available (this may take a while to load). Since eduroam was initially developed and launched in Europe, this continent boasts the most locations with thousands of participating colleges, universities and research facilities.

It is easy to connect to eduroam – you simply need to enter your eduroam username [myNEU username]@northeastern.edu (e.g., kinghusky@northeastern.edu) and your myNEU password. Similar to NUwave, once you have entered and saved your login credentials on your device, you will be able to automatically connect to the eduroam network whenever it is available. More information can be found on the eduroam service page.

Make free and public wireless secure

Free and public wireless networks often have little or no security features, as these networks are not protected by enterprise encryption. This means that the bad guys may be able to eavesdrop on or “sniff” your web browsing data, and read your usernames and passwords.

To protect yourself and your information, whenever possible, connect to a virtual private network (VPN) before logging into any website when using a free or public Wi-Fi network.

Northeastern offers the Global Protect VPN to connect securely to Northeastern resources, such as intranet websites, the shared Q: drive, and remote desktop connections. However, that VPN does not protect you when visiting non-Northeastern resources, such as your bank or Gmail. For full security on other networks, consider using a third party VPN service to secure all your wireless connections.

Limit access to your data remotely

In the event your phone is lost or stolen, the best option is to erase all the data from it to prevent anyone else from accessing your information – and you can do it remotely. Here’s how:

Don’t let the social media world know you’re gone

Posting your travel plans on open forms of social media lets people know when you will be away from your home or apartment, and criminals could use this opportunity to steal your belongings. Be careful about how many people are aware of your travel plans. Do you really know and trust all followers that you have on social media? In this case, using #latergram is safer.

Different countries, different rules

And finally, if you are traveling internationally, keep in mind that each country has different laws and practices. Here are some tips for safe international travel at SecureNU.


TEXPO 2016 presentation

Teaching & Learning Updates – Summer 2016

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ATS is upgrading two often-used teaching and learning tools. The Tegrity lecture capture tool now uses a new high-performance hosting environment that improves playback speed and responsiveness, and broadens supported browser configurations. Enterprise Blackboard will be upgraded on May 7, 2016. This upgrade will provide bug fixes and improved embedded video support. Check the Blackboard or myNEU home pages for the downtime schedule.


TEXPO 2016: Technology in Teaching Expo, held on March 15, 2016, was very successful again this year. The purpose of TEXPO is to connect faculty and staff, to provide a platform for them to share their successes with technology in the classroom and offer peer-to-peer mentoring on technology use. Faculty and staff in attendance represented 70 departments around the university. Topics included digital storytelling, open and shared educational resources, Zaption interactive video, mobile photo editing, and social media. Video captures of the presentations and workshops can be found at the TEXPO website: http://www.ats.neu.edu/incubator/texpo-2016/. ATS will be setting the date for TEXPO 2017 over the next few weeks.

Please email ats@neu.edu if you would like to participate as a speaker next year.

New ATS Training Courses

ATS is now offering new courses including Technology for Accessibility and Diverse Learning Styles, Online Photo Editors, Mobile Device Photography, Video Editing with Microsoft Movie Editor, and Implementing Digication e-Portfolios. Based on the goals of faculty and staff, ATS also recently facilitated a number of custom group training sessions and workshops. Faculty and staff who are interested in custom training or workshops should contact ats@neu.edu. Current courses can be found on our website: http://www.ats.neu.edu/workshops-seminars.

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Lynda.com: New Blackboard Integration

Lynda.com is an excellent resource offering over 4,000 online training courses on a wide range of topics and disciplines to Northeastern students, staff, and faculty. Now, with the new Blackboard integration, instructors can find and load instructional videos from the lynda.com directly into Blackboard courses. To learn how to add Lynda.com courses to Blackboard courses, visit our Lynda.com support page.

Software Seminars

ATS partnered with several vendors to offer special software seminars this spring semester.  Our recent events with MathWorks, JMP and AutoDesk have been successful, and we’re working to add more workshops for the summer and fall of 2016. Check the ATS Special Events page for our complete schedule and registration links.


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Improve your skills and advance your career with our free courses

Online video-based trainings

As a Northeastern student, faculty or staff, you have access to free online video-based training for over 3,000 courses by going to Lynda.neu.edu or from the link on the myNEU portal.

In 2015, there were an average of:

  • 850 courses viewed per month
  • Over 10,000 videos viewed per month
  • Over 1,400 hours of videos viewed per month

That’s a lot of videos watched and a lot of knowledge gained!

Top 10 Most Viewed Lynda.com courses during Fall 2015

The most popular topics watched ranged from Excel-related courses to various programming languages courses. And there are a lot more topics covering software applications, such as Adobe Creative Cloud, as well as soft skills, such as time management & negotiation skills.

Don’t miss out – check out Lynda.com today! Learn more here.

Instructor-led workshops on the Boston campus

If you can’t find what you are looking for on Lynda.com, there is a select set of instructor-led workshops on a variety of software applications and presentation-related skills for students, faculty and staff from ITS Training. Popular workshops have included Adobe Creative Cloud applications (such as InDesign, Photoshop, Adobe Illustrator), and information on building better presentations. No prior experience is necessary and you can register online. Learn more here.

Wolfram Alpha Pro now available for students, faculty and staff

Northeastern has now a license for students, faculty and staff to use Wolfram Alpha Pro. As a complement to Mathematica, Wolfram Alpha Pro enables you to upload any kind of file or data right in your browser for automatic analysis and a detailed report.

Additionally, Wolfram Alpha Pro makes it easy for professors to introduce students to computation across a wide array of disciplines. Students also get access to features like the Problem Generator and Solutions help. See http://www.wolframalpha.com/pro/ for product details.

You can access Wolfram Alpha Pro anywhere (home, campus, through your smartphone, tablet, etc). You will only need to login to your Wolfram account through your campus site license or, if you don’t have an account, please follow the steps in this KB article.