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Faculty, staff, and students recognized for contributions to fields from engineering and literature to physics

The achievements of Northeastern faculty, students, and staff garner numerous awards, grants, and accolades throughout the year in fields from engineering and business to physics and literature. We’ve gathered some of the more recent honors below, aware that they represent just a fraction of the exciting work underway and just a sampling of the recognition garnered by members of the campus community.

December 2015

Ruth Aguilera, professor of international business and strategy, was elected to the board of the Strategic Management Society. SMS, comprising nearly 3,000 members from more than 80 countries, “focuses on the development and dissemination of insights on the strategic management process as well as on fostering contacts and interchange around the world.”

Tracey Dodenhoff, director of Northeastern’s Center for Research Innovation, was named a winner, out of 2,000 nominations, in BostonInno’s 50onFire in honor of her entrepreneurship and innovative excellence. Dodenhoff, who specializes in product commercialization and new market initiatives, has launched six startup companies across medical, consumer, and industrial fields, including Vanguard Technologies, LLC, a commercialization and business development company in North Attleboro, Massachusetts.

The Boston Globe named The Betrayal: The 1919 World Series and the Birth of Modern Baseball, by Charles Fountain, associate professor in the School of Journalism, one of the Best Books of 2015.

Kim Lewis, University Distinguished Professor, and Slava Epstein, College Distinguished Professor, both in the Department of Biology, have been selected for Foreign Policy’s list of 100 leading Global Thinkers for 2015. The list honors thought leaders “whose contributions and work have changed lives and are shaping the world.” Lewis and Epstein were selected for the groundbreaking technique they developed for culturing bacteria in the lab and their discovery of teixobactin, a new antibiotic to which microbes do not appear to develop drug resistance.

November 2015

Stefano Basagni, associate professor in the Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering, was named a Distinguished Scientist of the Association for Computing Machinery. The designation recognizes ACM members from around the world “who have achieved significant accomplishments or made a significant impact on the computing field.”

Massachusetts governor Charlie Baker appointed William Fowler, Distinguished Professor of History, to the Massachusetts Foundation for the Humanities’ board of directors.

Debra L. Franko, professor in the Department of Applied Psychology, and associate dean of faculty affairs, received the 2015 Lori Irving Award for Excellence in Eating Disorders Prevention and Awareness from the National Eating Disorders Association. The award recognizes her research over the last three decades aiming to stem the tide of these disorders. Recent projects include designing Web-based programs aimed at improving people’s body image, decreasing their risk for eating disorders, and studying how different ethnic groups perceive eating disorders, especially African American and Latina women.

Nancy Hanrahan, dean and professor in the School of Nursing, received the Best Practice in Technology Award from the Sigma Theta Tau International Honor Society of Nursing for the Nurse’s PTSD Toolkit, an interactive web-based system that she spearheaded. The toolkit uses videos, case summaries, and assessment and intervention simulations to help nurses develop their expertise regarding the psychological consequences of stress and trauma, encourage veterans to get help, and make referrals.

Vincent G. Harris, University Distinguished Professor and William Lincoln Smith Chair, in the Department of Chemical Engineering and Electrical and Computer Engineering, was named a 2015 Fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Science for his “seminal contributions to the advancement of high frequency magnetism, magnetic materials and RF [radio frequency] device technologies.” Harris heads one of two collaborative projects being funded through a cooperative $20 million agreement with the U.S. Army Research Laboratory to design and develop advanced engineered materials for defense purposes. His project will concentrate on using magnetic particles to align ceramic materials in the development of next-generation bulletproof vests and vehicle armor.

Brian Helmuth, professor in the Department of Marine and Environmental Sciences, was sworn in as a member of the National Sea Grant Advisory Board, a congressionally mandated Federal Advisory Committee appointed by the Undersecretary of Commerce for Oceans and the Atmosphere. The board provides advice to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s National Sea Grant College Program, a network of 33 Sea Grant programs located in every coastal and Great Lakes state, Puerto Rico, Lake Champlain, and Guam. Those stakeholders and U.S. universities collaborate to create economically and ecologically resilient communities.

Logan Jackson, E’16, a civil engineering major, was named a Rhodes scholar, the first time in Northeastern’s history that one of its students has received the prestigious scholarship. The winners were chosen from 869 applicants endorsed by 316 colleges and universities. The scholarships cover all expenses for two or three years of post-graduate study at Oxford University in England, where the scholars will begin their studies next October.

Emanuele Macri, associate professor in the Department of Mathematics, has been selected as one of two laureates of the Poincaré Chair for the 2016-17 academic year.The chair, established by the Institut Henri Poincaré, in Paris, and the Clay Mathematics Institute, in Providence, Rhode Island, offers young talented mathematicians the opportunity to develop their research projects and build international recognition. Macri will continue his research on algebraic geometry while holding a six-month position at the Pierre and Marie Curie University, in Paris.

Alexandros Makriyannis, the George Behrakis Chair of Pharmaceutical Biotechnology, in the Department of Chemistry and Chemical Biology, received the Distinguished Pharmaceutical Scientist Award from the American Association of Pharmaceutical Scientists. He was cited for his work in the field of endocannabinoids, a biochemical system in the mammalian brain and the central and peripheral nervous systems that when dysregulated can play a role in metabolic disorders, neuropathic pain, addiction, and neurodegenerative disease.

NASA has selected a team led by Taskin Padir, associate professor in the Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering, and Robert Platt, assistant professor in the College of Computer and Information Science, to perform advanced research and development work on its humanoid robot prototype, R5, a project that could help astronauts successfully touch down and work on Mars.

Oyihoma Saleh, DMSB’16, Ocheme Saleh, E’16, and Nnamdi Okeke, CIS/AMD’15, co-founders of Kosavadeals.com, a Nigerian coupon-based website, won the Wharton Africa Business Forum venture competition, beating out the largest pool of applicants in the competition’s history. The online marketplace connects Nigerian shoppers and retailers through digital coupons and offers.

Simon Singer, professor in the School of Criminology and Criminal Justice, received the 2015 Michael J. Hindelang Book Award from the American Society of Criminology for his book America’s Safest City: Delinquency and Modernity in Suburbia. In the book, Singer offers a case study of Amherst, New York, to provide an illuminating analysis of juvenile delinquency in an affluent community.

October 2015

Hugh Courtney, dean of the D’Amore-McKim School of Business, was elected president of the International Partnership of Business Schools, a consortium of leading business institutions uniting to elevate global business education. Embarking on a two-year term, Courtney will focus on growing the number of participating schools and students while improving curricula and student experience.

Claire Duggan, director of programs and operations, in Northeastern’s Center for STEM Education, was inducted into the Massachusetts Hall of Fame for Science Educators. For more than 20 years, Duggan has helped design and implement multiple STEM educational outreach programs, working to build connections between the university’s higher education research community and its educational partners from K-14.

Randall Erb, assistant professor in the Department of Mechanical and Industrial Engineering, received a $225,000 grant from the Small Business Technology Transfer program of the National Institutes of Health. Erb’s team will work with the company N2 Biomedical, in Bedford, Massachusetts, on the project “Improved Performance of Neonatal Vascular Access Catheters via 3D Magnetic Printing.” The researchers will use Erb’s novel 3-D magnetic printing technology to build customized vascular catheters for neonatal patients.

Associate professors Deniz Erdogmus and Gunar Schirner, both in the Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering, received a grant of $602,999 from the National Science Foundation to research “Nested control of assistive robots through human intent inference.” The researchers will develop prosthetic and wearable hands that blend neural control based on human brain activity and dynamic control based on sensors on robots for people who have lost limb function.

Alicia Sasser Modestino, associate professor in the School of Public Policy and Urban Affairs and the Department of Economics, was appointed to the board of directors of the Massachusetts Housing Partnership, a public nonprofit organization that seeks to increase the supply of affordable housing in Massachusetts. On the board, Modestino, an expert on housing policy and migration trends, will provide insight on ways the MHP’s policies and programs can help address the affordable housing problem.

Rifat Sipahi, associate professor in the Department of Mechanical and Industrial Engineeering, received the 2015 American Society of Chemical Engineers Dynamic Systems and Control Division Outstanding Young Investigator Award. The award is given biennially to a Dynamic Systems and Control Division member under 40 who has demonstrated outstanding research contributions, either basic or applied, in fields of interest to the DSCD.

Srinivas Sridhar, Arts and Sciences Distinguished Professor in the Department of Physics, and Thomas Webster, professor and department chair in the Department of Chemical Engineering and Art Zafiropoulo Chair in Engineering, have been awarded $495,348 by the National Science Foundation for their project “NRT-IGE: Nanomedicine Academy of Minority Serving Institutions.” Northeastern, in partnership with four other universities, has forged an innovative model in graduate education for underrepresented minority populations that is an alternative to Massive Open Online courses, or MOOCs.

Katherine S. Ziemer, professor in the Department of Chemical Engineering and associate vice provost of curriculum, was elected a fellow of the American Institute of Chemical Engineers. Ziemer’s research focuses on fundamental mechanisms of the growth and processing of thin films and nanostructures in order to create next-generation electronic devices that can address issues of renewable and sustainable energy, medical diagnostics and treatments, and environmental monitoring and protection.

September 2015

Eno Ebong, assistant professor in the Department of Chemical Engineering, received a five-year, $650,000 National Institutes of Health Mentored Career Development Award for her research project “Atheroprotective vs. Atherogenic Glycocalyx Mechanotransduction Mechanisms.” Ebong and her interdisciplinary mentoring team are working to uncover poorly understood cellular and molecular sources of atherosclerosis.

Kimberly Eddleston, professor of entrepreneurship and innovation in the D’Amore McKim School of Business, was named a Schulze Distinguished Professor of Entrepreneurship by the Richard M. Schulze Family Foundation. The award comes with a three-year renewable research stipend of $50,000 annually to support her innovative studies of family businesses and the careers of entrepreneurs. Eddleston is one of just four business professors nationwide to receive the professorship.

April Z. Gu, associate professor in the Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering, along with David R. Kaeli, Distinguished Professor, and Jennifer G. Dy, associate professor, both of whom are in the Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering, received an $850,000 BIGDATA grant from the National Science Foundation. Their project is entitled “Exploring Analysis of Environment and Health Through Multiple Alternative Clustering.” The researchers will develop novel data analysis, alternative clustering, data visualization, and acceleration solutions to enable exploration and identification of connections hidden in diverse data sets, leading to new discoveries and knowledge.

Jack McDevitt, associate dean, and Glenn Pierce, principal research scientist, both of whom are in the College of Social Sciences and Humanities, and Amy Farrell, associate professor in the School of Criminology and Criminal Justice, have received a National Institute of Justice award for $462,973 for a project entitled “Capturing Human Trafficking Victimization through Crime Reporting.” Their research will use police data to examine human trafficking reporting with the goal of improving law enforcement identification and reporting of human trafficking.

Michael B. Silevitch, Robert D. Black Professor and Distinguished Professor, and Carey Rappaport, Distinguished Professor, both of whom are in the Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering, along with Jose Martinez, assistant professor, in the Department of Mechanical Engineering, and John Beaty, director of technology programs for ALERT, have been awarded a $1,200,000, two-year Task Order contract from the Department of Homeland Security to transition research from ALERT’s Advanced Imaging Technology Laboratory into technology that is suitable for commercialization.

Armen Stepanyants, associate professor in the Department of Physics, has been awarded a $1,814,155 grant by the National Institutes of Health to support his project, “Software for Automated Reconstruction of Structure and Dynamics of Neural Circuits.” He also received an award of $551,499 from the Air Force Office of Scientific Research for his project, “Principles of Robust Learning Derived from the Structure and Function of the Cortical Column.”

Dagmar Sternad, professor in the Departments of Biology and Electrical and Computer Engineering, received a five-year, $1.8 million grant from the National Institutes of Health to investigate “Predictability in Complex Object Control.” The research will explore the interactive forces that people need to predict, preempt, and compensate for when manipulating complex objects. It will ultimately provide insights into neurological diseases such as multiple sclerosis and dystonia.

August 2015

John Coley, associate professor in the Department of Psychology, and his collaborator Kimberly Tanner, of San Francisco State University, received a three-year, $1,383,544 award from the National Science Foundation for their project, “Investigating the influence of informal understandings about biology on formal learning of biological concepts.” The researchers plan to continue their work investigating misconceptions in scientific understanding among biology students.

A team led by Jerome Hajjar, CDM Smith Professor and chair in the Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering, won the 2015 BSCES Clemens Hershel Award from the Boston Society of Civil Engineers Section of the American Society of Civil Engineers. The researchers were cited for their 2014 paper on fuse-based design work. The award “recognizes those individuals who have published papers that have been useful, commendable, and worthy of grateful acknowledgment.”

Associate professors Carolyn Lee-Parsons, in the Department of Chemistry and Chemical Biology, and Erin Cram, in the Department of Biology, received a $650,000 grant from the National Science Foundation to investigate plant defense and survival. The aim is to understand plant control mechanisms, which could lead to crops being made more resistant to stress and pathogens, including plants containing compounds with medicinal value. The research will involve the interdisciplinary mentoring and advising of graduate students and undergraduates and the outreach to K-12 and under-represented groups through Northeastern’s Research Experiences for Teachers and Young Scholars Programs.

Mark Niedre, associate professor in the Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering, received a four-year, $1.9 million grant from the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute of the National Institutes of Health to develop a miniaturized high-throughput optical scanner to study extremely rare circulating cells in the bloodstream of small animals. Niedre believes the scanner will have applications for studying blood malignancies, cancer metastasis, and transplant biology, among other areas.

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