RISE Awards: Grit over Glamour

RISE Awards: Grit over Glamour

Northeastern’s RISE is an exhibition of Research, Innovation, and Scholarship.

Research, innovation, and scholarship are easy words to speak, but when we pause to consider what Research, Innovation, and Scholarship actually are, we see they are painstaking, grueling, risky, tedious — in a word, they are HARD.

Sam Antonio PhotographyDrive, dedication, commitment, vision, integrity, tenacity, and courage are required to research, to innovate, to generate scholarship. This means grinding it out, day after day. Searching, seeking, solving — practicing and perfecting, cultivating expertise. Research, innovation, and scholarship are not consumables that can be purchased at Target — these are lifestyles, behaviors, habits — expressions of consistently focused will.

It’s not casually tossing pebbles into a pond. Research, innovation, and scholarship are more akin to building pyramids.    

The RISE Awards afford us the opportunity to slow down and appreciate the WORK that has been done. But more than that, they give us the chance to celebrate those who live Research, Innovation, and Scholarship.

When asked what it takes to be a RISE winner in Research, Alaina Baker, graduating senior from the College of Science says: “[It] takes a lot of hard work, dedication, inquiry, teamwork, and a genuine desire to learn and to grow.”

For Yian Xu, PhD candidate and winner of the RISE Award in Scholarship, it reflects “your genuine passion about research, all the honest efforts you made along the way – the lonely nights, weekends, and holidays working in the office by yourself, all the challenges you stand up straight with, and all the opportunities you’ve given up.”

Invoking cliché, RISE winners seemingly embrace the philosophy of “No pain, no gain.”

Paul Giles19














When asked what it means to be a RISE winner, themes of validation, honor, and recognition surface. 

John de la Parra, College of Science graduate student and winner of the RISE Award for Innovation, says:

Winning the Excellence in Innovation award two years in a row (with two totally different projects in completely different laboratories) has meant tremendous validation for my unique research style.

Alaina responds:

To be a RISE Award winner is a tremendous honor. As a senior at Northeastern it is a surprising and wonderful ending to an undergraduate career dedicated to advancing the sciences through research. RISE is an extraordinary opportunity to share passion projects with colleagues and the community; it is, and has always been, a unique way to learn and grow as a student, scientist, and citizen. I am humbled to represent scientific research amongst such a tremendous cohort of scientists, students, and innovative pioneers.

And, Yian shares:

I am very honored and flattered to be a RISE Award recipient. … it is really a big encouragement and recognition of all the efforts that I made in exploring psychological research. Winning RISE this year also brings much encouragement to my lab and my cohort. … I’m really happy to see that our work is recognized and supported by the Northeastern community.

Clearly these aren’t saccharine sentiments like the “oh, that’s nice” variety — they are emphatic because they are earned.

Cri 041014 301RISE Awards are accompanied by cash prizes of $1000 and $5000. So, what do RISE Award winners do with the money? They buy computers, self-fund their research, cover moving expenses for upcoming doctoral programs. Researchers, Innovators, and Scholars of this ilk may accept accolades, but they certainly don’t live for them.

Exemplars of dedication. Source of inspiration to all.

Thank you RISE winners, not just for the beneficial outcomes of your research, but also for the lifestyles you choose that make such outcomes reality.   


Visit the RISE Awards to see what innovations the winners have been working on.

Interested in other ways Northeastern cultivates innovation? Read “Missile Base to Start Up Space: Northeastern Incubates Resilience.”


Feature image by photo.tirol. All rights reserved.
Inset image 1 by Sam Antonio Photography. Image cropped. All rights reserved.
Insert image 2 by paul giles19. All rights reserved.

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