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Expo opens a window on innovation and a door to collaboration

Photo by Mary Knox Merrill.

While on co-op last year, Northeastern junior Emily Batt explored the boundaries of network science in two vastly different areas.

First, while working at the Dana-Farber Cancer Institute through the Steamboat Foundation’s Summer Scholars Program, Batt helped interpret models of how proteins interact with each other in the human body, which can explain how cell networks can lead to cancer. Later, she moved to the MIT Media Lab, where she studied how network science can shed light on economic development trends based on a country’s ability to create and export products, given the technology and capital at its disposal.

“Using network science, we can study almost anything” said Batt, a physics major. “[For instance] we think that having a systemic understanding [of cellular networks] will provide a more complete understanding of disease.”

Not only did Batt’s work exemplify Northeastern’s innovative research in this burgeoning field, but it also earned her the undergraduate student research award at yesterday’s Research and Scholarship Expo 2011 in the “Interdisciplinary Topics, Centers and Institutes” category.

The annual event showcases the wide range of use-inspired research conducted and supported by the Northeastern community. Click here for a list of this year’s Outstanding Student Research Award winners.

More than 300 posters were spread throughout the Cabot Physical Education Center, highlighting student and faculty research in numerous disciplines, including biology, engineering, architecture, and computer science; and many of the projects were related to the university’s core research themes of health, sustainability and security.

For senior Kevin Greene, an experiential learning opportunity in Bolivia led to a fascinating research project that he presented at the event. Greene, a behavioral neuroscience major, performed a cost-effectiveness study for the Solidarity Bridge Medical Program, which is based in Chicago and provides pacemakers, surgical tools and other medical supplies to poor, underserved populations in Bolivia.

While on co-op there, Greene interviewed patients before and after their medical procedures, and saw first-hand the health benefits they reaped from the program. His results indicated a sustained increase in patient health and satisfaction with the program.

“The patient interaction I got was extremely rewarding,” said Greene, who earned the undergraduate student research award in the expo’s “Heath Sciences and Technology” category.

Following the poster presentations, Provost Stephen Director announced the student winners, and was joined by President Joseph E. Aoun and Vice Provost for Research Mel Bernstein in congratulating the students honored.

“Every year this event gets better and better,” Director said. “The quality of research going on at Northeastern is absolutely tremendous.”

“One of the important things that comes out of this activity is that you get to see what each other are doing,” Director told the presenters and visitors. “We’ve had a lot of interesting collaborations grow out of this event, and we hope that will continue.”