Faculty hiring freezes? Not at Northeastern.
In fact, the university increased hiring by 20 percent over last year, welcoming a total of 72 new faculty members to Northeastern’s community of outstanding scholars for 2012–2013. Northeastern has hired 333 faculty members over the past six years.
These scholars are some of the best minds in high-profile, diverse fields, such as cryptography, climate change, nanotechnology, data mining, coastal ecology, and drug discovery. They help cement the university’s expertise in health, security, and sustainability initiatives, and they advance emerging fields of interdisciplinary research.
Matthias Ruth. Professor with joint appointments in the College of Social Sciences and Humanities and the College of Engineering
SCHOLARSHIP FOCUS: Climate change; energy policy.
Ruth is at the forefront of a new field: ecological economics. Much of his work uses data to help industries reduce their carbon footprint while remaining competitive. He also investigates how cities must plan for the next century because, even if global carbon emissions were cut overnight, he says, the earth would suffer the consequences of climate change for at least the next two centuries.
Andrea Parker. Assistant professor of personal health informatics and human-computer interaction with joint appointments in the College of Computer and Information Sciences and Bouvé College of Health Sciences
SCHOLARSHIP FOCUS: Health informatics; human-computer interaction; computer-supported cooperative work, with a focus on designing interactive systems to address health disparities.
Parker believes in using technology to promote health and wellness among low-income minority populations. “Technological innovations in health have the ability to facilitate collective mobilization and support behavior change in a great number of people,” she says. “I have a real passion for helping the underserved and for understanding why these populations disproportionately experience disease.”
Phil Brown. University Distinguished Professor with joint appointments in the College of Social Sciences and Humanities and Bouvé College of Health Sciences
SCHOLARSHIP FOCUS: Environmental sociology; medical sociology; environmental justice; environmental health.
Brown, director of Northeastern’s new Social Science Environmental Health Research Institute, focuses his research on biomonitoring, which measures the level of contaminants in the body, and on household exposure monitoring, which measures toxicants found in driveways and in air and dust in homes. He believes that many environmental issues are local by nature but can serve as catalysts for worldwide environmental change.
David Smith. Assistant professor, College of Computer and Information Science
SCHOLARSHIP FOCUS: Natural-language processing and computational linguistics, with applications to information retrieval; machine translation; digital libraries.
Ryan Cordell. Assistant professor of English, College of Social Sciences and Humanities
SCHOLARSHIP FOCUS: American literature; digital humanities; religion; literature.
Smith and Cordell are among the faculty members founding Northeastern’s Centers for Digital Humanities and Computational Social Science, an interdisciplinary base for researchers from fields such as computer science, social science, humanities, and science.
“The Internet Archive has scanned more than 2 million public-domain books spanning 500 years, so we can see how language, words, and syntax change over time—or look at any broad trend that exists,” says Smith.
Yun (Raymond) Fu assistant professor with joint appointments in the College of Engineering and the College of Computer and Information Science
SCHOLARSHIP FOCUS: Machine learning and pattern recognition; cyberphysical systems; demographic sensing in the context of social media.
Fu wants to build a better social-media ecosystem. He is designing algorithms capable of rapidly analyzing content on social-networking and video-sharing websites. One will predict the demographics, behavioral tendencies, and
relationships among people who appear in photos and videos on Facebook or YouTube. The other algorithm will pinpoint their geographic locations. “Our goal is to develop an automatic method that could process this data very fast.”
His projects also dovetail with the university’s focus on cybersecurity research.
Gillian Smith. Assistant professor with joint appointments in the College of Arts, Media, and Design and the College of Computer and Information Science
SCHOLARSHIP FOCUS: Artificial intelligence and game design; procedural content generation and how it can impact game design.
By exploring ways to bring crafting and computers together with digital tools and games, Smith is “interested in finding ways to use computers to diversify computer science.” In particular, she hopes to figure out how to help people—and computers—be more creative. (For more, see “Serious Games People Play.”)