Researchers find that Android apps can secretly track users’ whereabouts

New research led by North­eastern pro­fessor Gue­vara Noubir reveals that some Android apps may auto­mat­i­cally transmit sen­si­tive infor­ma­tion, such as the routes you travel, through the phone’s built-​​in sen­sors. A mali­cious devel­oper, he says, “can infer where you live, where you’ve been, where you are going.”

Underreporting of Zika is rife; researchers project epidemic’s spread

A team led by North­eastern pro­fessor Alessandro Vespig­nani responded to a “call to arms” to model the spread of the Zika virus, revealing the dis­parity between the number of reported cases and the number of pro­jected cases of this largely asymp­to­matic dis­ease. The results will help coun­tries in the Amer­icas plan a response.

The life and career of an engineering ‘genius’

Beaten by the KGB, branded an anti-​​Soviet activist, and black­balled from acad­emia, Alexander Gorlov fled the Soviet Union, immi­grating to America, where he joined the North­eastern fac­ulty in 1976. Gorlov died in June at the age of 85, leaving behind an impres­sive legacy of inven­tion and cre­ativity, including a tur­bine that gar­nered him inter­na­tional acclaim.

Students take on role of Wikipedia editors

Ear­lier this year North­eastern stu­dents con­tributed to a mas­sive ini­tia­tive focused on improving Wikipedia’s sci­ence con­tent. As their pro­fessor puts it, “It’s very moti­vating but also ter­ri­fying to know that you’re con­tributing to some­thing that so many people will see.”

3Qs: Social media and the success of viral campaigns

With news last week that money raised by the Ice Bucket Chal­lenge helped fund break­throughs in ALS research, we asked assis­tant pro­fessor of mar­keting Yakov Bart how social media has helped to ele­vate suc­cessful viral cam­paigns, and why Snapchat could be the future plat­form for those campaigns.

3Qs: US, Russia, and the 2016 presidential election

Russia this week played a leading role in the con­ver­sa­tion about the U.S. pres­i­den­tial race, from its alleged role in hacking Demo­c­ratic National Com­mittee emails to Donald Trump’s com­ments that he hoped the country had suc­cess­fully hacked Hillary Clinton’s email. We asked Ryan Maness, an expert in Russian for­eign policy and inter­na­tional cyber­con­flict and secu­rity, to examine what this could mean for the dynamic between the two nations.

3Qs: How to tame the Twitter haters

A score of Twitter users were banned by the social media ser­vice last week for hurling a spate of vile remarks at Ghost­busters star Leslie Jones. To find out how online anonymity affects the way people act toward each other and what social media sites like Twitter could do to curb tar­geted attacks, we turned to North­eastern assis­tant pro­fessor Joseph Reagle, an expert on internet trolling.

Researchers mine ‘a tsunami of free data’ from space

Geospa­tial intel­li­gence is a rapidly growing field that har­nesses the power of today’s “tsunami of free data” and has a range of appli­ca­tions, from national secu­rity to human­i­tarian relief work to dis­aster response. North­eastern is home to one of just 17 U.S. Cen­ters of Aca­d­emic Excel­lence in Geospa­tial Sci­ences and is a bench­mark for online learning in this very tech­nical field.

Coast-​​to-​​coast collaboration targets food security

A team of 20 grad­uate stu­dents at Northeastern’s Boston and Seattle cam­puses spent the spring semester working together, col­lab­o­rating via Skype, GitHub, and Google Hang­outs to build a soft­ware plat­form aimed at con­necting a global com­mu­nity of farmers, researchers, and educators.

3Qs: What can a crime drama teach us about justice?

Law pro­fessor Jes­sica Silbey will dis­cuss the his­tory of law in Amer­ican film on Wednesday at a Law Library of Con­gress event. Here, she looks at the pit­falls of crime shows, names her favorite legal drama, and explains how the depic­tion of law in film has changed over the past 125 years.

National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences head lauds Northeastern’s interdisciplinary approach

You cannot do envi­ron­mental health work if you don’t work with the com­mu­nity,” said Linda Birn­baum, director of the National Insti­tute of Envi­ron­mental Health Sci­ences, during remarks on campus on Monday. She lauded North­eastern, with its emphasis on inter­dis­ci­pli­nary research and prac­tice, for doing just that, and noted Northeastern’s con­tri­bu­tions to a multi-​​country study of Zika.