Updated May 07, 2020
The State of Affairs
The COVID-19 health crisis has impacted millions of lives across the world, forcing communities small and large to forgo public social interaction to halt the spread of the virus. Shelter-in-place and lock-down policies have been enacted at the municipal and federal levels, forcing schools and businesses to close their doors. Aside from essential workers, those roles that can be done remotely have been made remote, and those that cannot have left a wake of economic terror, with unemployment rates skyrocketing throughout the country as the stock market falls.
Northeastern shifted to an online lecture format March 12 in response to public health and safety concerns. University administration then requested students leave campus for the Spring semester by March 17 only days later as apprehension surrounding the pandemic escalated. For RISE, a public expo hosted by the Center for Research Innovation (CRI) at Northeastern designed to connect student researchers with working professionals, this decision seemed a death sentence. But, true to its core principles, the minds behind RISE sought out an innovative approach to hosting this year’s event.
For 2020, RISE embraced an online format, utilizing Microsoft Teams to conduct the expo virtually. Student presenters connected with judges and general attendees as they would have, had the outbreak never happened. Though the meetings were held online, presenters still saw their work put into the public sphere; an experience that can be invaluable to students. Jennifer Boyle-Lynch, Director of Operations and Finance at CRI, states, “The idea was to provide some normalcy and continuity in an otherwise uncertain time. The overwhelming participation in this virtual event is evidence of Northeastern’s resilience.”
In 2019, RISE saw over 2000 attendees with 364 unique presentations from students and faculty. RISE:2020, in spite of the virus, maintained this level of engagement with over 400 presenters conducting nearly 350 distinct presentations joined by 150 RISE Judges and viewed by 2,100 general attendees. Students presenters exhibited their dedication to sharing their work with panels of judges and a global audience, not letting the current circumstances stand in the way of their research. “We are passionate about the topic and did not want to let a change of schedule impede our presentation,” say undergraduate presenters Matthew Greer-Gentis and Linda Manziaris, continuing: “After setting our goals for this project, it was difficult to give up on it.”
“I am proud to be a part of a program that has adapted in this difficult time to provide students with a virtual platform to showcase their research. Knowing how important this event is to the Northeastern community, the RISE Team quickly responded to the situation, working diligently to find an alternative to the live event.”
– Jennifer Boyle-Lynch, Director of Operations and Finance, Center for Research Innovation
The “I” in RISE
For those not in the know, the “I” in RISE stands for innovation, a term that implies the ability to overcome difficulty with creativity and efficacy. Amid pandemic, to deny students who dedicated so much time and effort to their projects, to deny the judges who sought to guide the next generation of scientists, researchers, journalists, writers, designers, public officials, policy makers, to stand in the way of progress, even in a time of great adversity, would not be a decision true to the nature of RISE. So, with the cooperation of student presenters, judges, faculty and the hard work of the staff at CRI, RISE:2020 rose above and on schedule.
RISE and the Center for Research Innovation would like to thank our sponsors for their continued support as RISE went Virtual.
Written by Joseph Burns