A process for con­verting plastic waste into clean energy, a novel, low-​​cost method for treating con­t­a­m­i­nated ground­water, and a com­puter game meant to improve dri­ving skills were among the daz­zling array of stu­dent research projects on dis­play Wednesday at North­eastern University’s Research and Schol­ar­ship Expo 2010.

Some 320 posters — the most ever for the annual event — high­lighted research in dis­ci­plines such as health, engi­neering, archi­tec­ture, sus­tain­ability and his­tory. The event, held in the Cabot Phys­ical Edu­ca­tion Center, was pow­erful evi­dence of the strong cul­ture of use-​​inspired research embedded in the North­eastern community.

The scope of the research rep­re­sented here is ter­rific,” Pres­i­dent Joseph Aoun told pre­sen­ters and vis­i­tors. “This is ulti­mately what we are all about.”

The expo was the cul­mi­na­tion of months of work and plan­ning as researchers not only advanced their projects, but also focused on trans­lating their find­ings to presentations.

Tanvi Chitnis, who is pur­suing her master’s degree in com­puter sys­tems engi­neering, is devel­oping a com­puter game that helps new dri­vers iden­tify poten­tial haz­ards on the road.

Younger dri­vers tend to look straight ahead and not (use) their periph­eral vision,” Chitnis explained.

Senior biology major Heather Gar­diner showed her work devel­oping a large-​​scale method to purge con­t­a­m­i­nated ground­water of harmful vinyl chlo­ride com­pounds to pre­vent them from affecting clean water wells. Her solu­tion? To intro­duce bac­teria that, when exposed to oxygen under­ground, would mul­tiply and degrade the cancer-​​causing contaminants.

The expo is “a really good way to bring aware­ness (of North­eastern research) to stu­dents and fac­ulty,” said Gardiner.

David Laskowski was on a team of four mechan­ical engi­neering seniors who devel­oped a method for turning plastic waste into energy — cleanly and effi­ciently — using a self-​​sustaining pyrolysis/​combustion system. When applied at a newly designed power plant, the tech­nology could pro­vide a renew­able energy source to the world.

There is a lot of (plastic) out there that isn’t being dis­posed of cleanly,” Laskowski said.

North­eastern Vice Provost for Research Ken­neth Blank said, “The quality and the enthu­siasm that we see for the (research and cre­ative) activity that is hap­pening on campus are just incred­ible. The energy that is gen­er­ated throughout this day is some­thing that we need to celebrate.”

Fol­lowing the poster pre­sen­ta­tions, awards were pre­sented to under­grad­uate and grad­uate stu­dents to spot­light extra­or­di­nary research projects.

The under­grad­uate win­ners included:

– Jason Chrisos, Caitlyn Bintz, Drew Lentz, Andrew Clark and Avi Bajpai for their project, “ATLAS Bimanual Reha­bil­i­ta­tion System: A Low-​​Cost Smart Glove System for Vir­tual Reha­bil­i­ta­tion.”
Advi­sors: Con­stan­tinos Mavroidis and Mau­reen Holden

– Dylan Wiw­char, Stephen Clark, Daniel Boothby and Ken Chatham for their project, “High-​​Intensity Inspi­ra­tory Muscle Training Improves Skating Per­for­mance and Max­imal Oxygen Con­sump­tion in Divi­sion 1 Col­lege Ice Hockey Players.”
Advi­sors: Lawrence Cahalin and Paul Canavan

– Melissa Miranda forthe project, “Court­yard Housing Pro­to­type: Pro­moting Social Inter­ac­tion.”
Advisor: Eliz­a­beth Christofer­etti

View all of theaward recip­i­entshere: