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Awards in science, engineering, the arts among honors to Northeastern community

September 6, 2012 - Michael Pollastri is an Associate Professor of Medicinal Chemistry and Chemical Technology researching new therapeutic drugs for neglected tropical diseases in the Egan Research Center.

Northeastern faculty, students, and staff receive numerous awards, grants, and accolades throughout the year in fields ranging from engineering and chemistry to language scholarship and pharmaceutical science. Here we present some of the more recent honors during the fall 2016 semester, aware that they represent just a sampling of the recognition garnered by members of the campus community. If you know of people who’ve received noteworthy recognition for their academic or professional work, tell us about it at

November 2016

Mehdi Behroozi, assistant professor in the Department of Mechanical and Industrial Engineering, won the second place prize in the 2016 George Nicholson Student Paper Competition of the Institute for Operations Research and the Management Sciences. The annual competition recognizes outstanding papers in the field of operations research and the management sciences written by students.

Daniel O’Brien, assistant professor in the School of Public Policy and Urban Affairs and the School of Criminology and Criminal Justice, received a grant from the National Science Foundation to co-lead a study with Robert Sampson of Harvard University on next-generation data resources to advance research in the social, behavioral, and economic sciences. The study, titled “Portal to Data and Analysis Tools (P->DAT): Enabling Data-Intensive Research in the Urban Sciences on Linked, Large-Scale Records,” is part of the NSF’s Resource Implementations for Data Intensive Research program.

Matteo Rinaldi, assistant professor in the Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering, received the 2015 Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers Sensors Council Early Career Award “for outstanding contributions to novel multi-functional piezoelectric micro and nano-electro-mechanical resonant sensors.” Rinaldi’s research focuses on exploiting the fundamental properties of micro and nanomechanical structures and advanced nanomaterials to engineer new classes of micro and nanoelectromechanical systems that can be applied to the areas of chemical, physical and biological sensing and low-power reconfigurable radio communication systems.

Mehrdad Sasani, assistant professor, and Leila Keyvani Someh, assistant teaching professor, both in the College of Engineering, received the 2016 Clemens Herschel Award from the Boston Society of Civil Engineers Section of the American Society of Civil Engineers for their paper entitled “Analytical and Experimental Evaluation of Progressive Collapse Resistance of a Flat-Slab Post-tensioned Parking Garage.” Published in the Journal of Structural Engineering in November 2015, the paper characterizes the gravity load redistribution necessary to resist progressive collapse of concrete structures after the explosion of a column.

Thomas Webster, professor and chair of the Department of Chemical Engineering, and Art Zafiropoulo Chair in Engineering, received the International Society for Ceramics in Medicine Award “in recognition for outstanding service to the field of bioceramics.”

October 2016

Five Northeastern undergraduates received the 2016-17 Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers Power and Energy Society Scholarship: Jessica Bardio, E’20, Drew HasBrouck, E’18, Gianna Scioletti, E’18, Gregory Tolj, E’20, and Andrew Whitaker, E’20. The award, which is given to undergraduate electrical engineering students in the U.S., Canada, and India, aims to encourage students to pursue careers in power and energy engineering.

Two projects in the Digital Scholarship Group, home of the digital scholarship services provided by Northeastern University Library, were honored with awards from the National Endowment for the Humanities. The Text Encoding Initiative Archiving, Publishing, and Access Service, or TAPAS, received a $75,000 award to build a classroom to support pedagogical uses of TAPAS and expand the service’s data-visualization possibilities. The Women’s Writers Project received a $290,000 award for a collaborative research project called “Intertextual Networks” that focuses on quotation, citation, and intertextuality in early women’s writing.

Rachel Dinisman, Sarah Leins, and Joseph Parseghian, all MS’17, were awarded Future Educator Fellowships by the Physician Assistant Education Association. For the competition, students were required to draft a project plan relating to scholarship, community engagement, healthcare, education innovation, or healthcare advocacy.

Two of the 26 startups selected as finalists to compete for a share of $1.5 million in equity-free cash in the MassChallenge, one of the world’s largest equity-free accelerators, were founded by Northeastern researchers. 3Dfortify, founded by Randall Erb, assistant professor in the Department of Mechanical and Industrial Engineering, and Joshua Martin, PhD’17, received a $50,000 “Gold” prize. QSM Diagnostics, founded by Edgar Goluch, associate professor in the Department of Chemical Engineering, was a finalist out of more than 3,000 applications.

Joshua R. Jacobson, professor of music and director of choral activities, won a Lifetime Achievement Award from Choral Arts New England. The award is presented annually to individuals who have made exceptional contributions to choral singing and its culture within New England. Choral Arts New England described Jacobson as an “acclaimed conductor, composer, author, educator, and visionary founder and director of the Zamir Chorale of Boston, a world-renowned ensemble specializing in Jewish music.”

Rachel Jones received a $10,000 grant from the JPB Foundation. The mission of the foundation is to enhance the quality of life in the United States through transformational initiatives that promote the health of communities by creating opportunities for those living in poverty, enabling pioneering medical research, and enriching and sustaining our environment. The award allows Jones to begin a new video series to promote sexual health among young urban women.

Bradley Lehman, professor in the Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering, and colleagues received a $5 million grant from the National Science Foundation to establish a new scholarship and mentoring program that supports college transfer students from underrepresented backgrounds who are studying and doing research in energy. The program is called Student Pathways Opening World Energy Resources, or S-POWER. Other Northeastern faculty and staff on the leadership team include Marilyn Minus, assistant professor in the Department of Mechanical and Industrial Engineering; Richard Harris, College of Engineering assistant dean of Academic Scholarship, Mentoring and Outreach and director of the Northeastern Program in Multicultural Engineering; and Claire Duggan, director of the Center for STEM Education.

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

Mary Steffel, assistant professor of marketing in the D’Amore-McKim School of Business, was invited to serve as a fellow on the White House Social and Behavioral Sciences Team.

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. Her research focuses on the fundamental mechanisms driving the growth and processing of thin films and nanostructures with the aim of creating next-generation electronic devices that can address issues of renewable and sustainable energy, medical diagnostics and treatments, and environmental monitoring and protection.

September 2016

Nadine Aubry, University Distinguished Professor and Dean of the College of Engineering, was selected as the G.I. Taylor Medalist by the Society of Engineering Science, for her outstanding contributions in fluid mechanics, in particular, her work in turbulence. She will receive the award at the 54th Annual Technical Meeting of the Society of Engineering Science, a joint event with the Applied Mechanics Division of the American Society of Mechanical Engineers, which will be held at Northeastern in July 2017. In August, Aubry was elected the president of the International Union of Theoretical and Applied Mechanics, the first woman to hold the position. And in July, Aubry was elected to a six-year term with the Mechanical Engineering Division of the National Academy of Engineering, where she will serve two-year terms in each of the following positions: secretary, then vice chair, and then chair.

A paper based on research led by Muhammad Noor E Alam, assistant professor in the Department of Mechanical and Industrial Engineering, was selected as the “Best Track Paper” by the 2016 International Conference on Industrial Engineering and Operations Management. The title of the paper is “Data Analytics and Visualization in Analyzing Mortality Records.”

Adam Hall, director of the Core Mass Spectrometry Facility at Northeastern’s Barnett Institute of Chemical and Biological Analysis, received the 2016 fall academic grant from VUV Analytics. The award gives Hall’s laboratory use of the VGA-100 Vacuum Ultraviolet detector to do innovative research in the field of forensic chemistry. Hall’s research focuses on developing methods to analyze forensically relevant materials including drugs of abuse, ignitable liquids, and explosives.

Alain Karma, Arts and Sciences Distinguished Professor in the Department of Physics, received the 2016 John Hunt Medal from the Institute of Materials, Minerals and Mining. The award goes to someone “who has made an outstanding contribution to the science and-or technology of casting and solidification of metals.” Some of his current research in alloy solidification is funded by NASA and done in collaboration with the European Space Agency and the French Space Agency. The researchers are using the weightlessness of space to design stronger materials here on Earth.

Robert C. Lieb, professor of supply chain management, received the 2016 Thinkers and Movers Award from DSC Logistics, a leading supply chain management company. Leib’s honor read in part: “His innovative research on third party logistics has provided valuable insights to our field. And his achievements in designing and implementing the first transportation and logistics program, at both the undergraduate and graduate levels, at Northeastern University are notable.”

Shashi Murthy, professor in the Department of Chemical Engineering, and Neon Therapeutics, a cancer therapeutics company based in Cambridge, Massachusetts, received a collaborative National Science Foundation grant of $300,000 to develop novel manufacturing technologies for cell-based cancer therapies.

Ashkan Vaziri, associate professor in the Department of Mechanical and Industrial Engineering, received a grant of approximately $252,000 from the National Science Foundation for the project “Collaborative Research: Computational Design of Programmable Lattice Material Systems.”

August 2016

Edward Beighley, associate professor in the Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering, received a $651,000 grant from NASA for a project that supports research to advance the development of the Surface Water and Ocean Topography, or SWOT, satellite mission, which is scheduled to launch in 2021. Beighley is a member of the SWOT Science Team and one of two U.S. SWOT applications scientists.

Doreen Lee, associate professor of anthropology, received the International Journal of Urban and Regional Research’s annual Best Article Prize for her piece “Absolute Traffic: Infrastructure Aptitude in Urban Indonesia.” This prize honors the most original and outstanding contribution to our understanding of cities and urbanization.

Michael Pollastri, associate professor and interim chair of the Department of Chemistry, received a $2.6 million grant from the National Institutes of Health to conduct drug discovery for human African trypanosomiasis, also known as HAT or “sleeping sickness.” Pollastri’s lab makes derivatives of the breast cancer drug lapatinib/Tykerb, which was found to have an effect on the proliferation of the parasites that cause HAT. His compounds have been shown to be potent and effective in fighting the parasites while reducing activity against human cells.

Mario Sznaier, Dennis Picard Trustee Professor in the Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering, and four Northeastern colleagues received a $2.5 million grant from the National Science Foundation to conduct an interdisciplinary research project titled “CRISP TYPE 2: Identification and Control of Uncertain, Highly Interdependent Processes Involving Humans with Applications to Resilient Emergency Health Response.” The other researchers are Octavia Camps, professor in the Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering; Lisa Feldman Barrett, University Distinguished Professor of Psychology; Stacy Marsella, professor specializing in the computational modeling of cognition, emotion, and social behavior; and Jacqueline Griffin, assistant professor of mechanical and industrial engineering.

Tomasz Taylor, professor in the Department of Physics, was awarded a Fulbright scholarship and named a foreign member of the Polish Academy of Arts and Sciences. On Fulbright he will work with faculty and students at Warsaw University, in Poland, as a representative of American scientists to promote science in a foreign country. He will also teach a course called “Introduction to Amplitudes” and continue his current research on understanding the nature of gravity.

July 2016

Anthony Braga, Distinguished Professor of Criminology and director of the School of Criminology and Criminal Justice, received a $500,000 grant from the City of Oakland, in California, to evaluate a gang reduction program in the city.

University Scholar and Honors student Tyler Hall, E’17, received a 2016 Udall Scholarship, making him the first Northeastern student to receive the honor. This federally endowed scholarship of $7,000 recognizes college sophomores and juniors for leadership, public service, and commitment to issues related to American Indian nations or the environment. Among other activities, Hall is a researcher in Northeastern’s Sustainability and Data Sciences Lab, an interdisciplinary research center that pursues computational and data-enabled solutions for a sustainable and secure environment. For three years he has been involved with Engineers Without Borders-USA, which works to show the positive impact that thoughtfully applied engineering can have on communities and the environment.

Samina Karim, associate professor of entrepreneurship and innovation, was elected chair of the Competitive Strategy Interest Group, the largest interest group in the Strategic Management Society, and Program Chair of the Business Policy and Strategy division of the Academy of Management. He was also elected to the Board of the Consortium on Competitiveness and Cooperation for a three-year term.

A team led by Distinguished Professor of Biology Kim Lewis received a five-year, $9 million grant from the National Institutes of Health’s National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases to develop a novel platform to discover new antibiotics that don’t become resistant. The researchers will use the innovative method they developed to grow “unculturable” bacteria in the lab.

Jack McDevitt, associate dean of research in the College of Social Sciences and Humanities, received a $150,000 grant from the Commonwealth of Massachusetts to study and assess the implementation of the recent Massachusetts Gun Violence Reduction Act.

Glenn Pierce, senior research scientist in criminology and criminal justice, was awarded $1.4 million from the Department of Homeland Security for a third year of funding for a project to design and implement an analytics program.

Srinivas Sridhar, University Distinguished Professor of Physics, Bioengineering, and Chemical Engineering, received the 2016 Biomedical Engineering Society Diversity Award. The award “honors an individual for outstanding contributions to improving gender and racial diversity in biomedical engineering.” Sridhar’s many contributions include establishing the Nanomedicine Academy of Minority Serving Institutions and directing a National Science Foundation Integrative Graduate Education and Research Training program on Nanomedicine.


View our previous awards coverage: 2015 Awards

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