Northeastern University on Thursday celebrated the highest achievements of students, faculty, and an important trustee at the Academic Honors Convocation in East Village.
The event recognized members of the Northeastern community whose academic prowess, insatiable curiosity, and entrepreneurial spirit have made them standout scholars, researchers, mentors, teachers, and innovators.
Water is ‘a fundamental human right’
Affordable access to water is an issue that affects every household in the U.S. and is made even more critical during the COVID-19 pandemic, says Martha Davis, a professor of law at Northeastern who has been promoted to University Distinguished Professor.
In the U.S., water authorities often shut off water when customers fall behind in their payments. But without access to water, families may be forced to go to other people’s homes, or outside to wash their hands or buy water, she says. In response, some states, such as Michigan, have ordered a moratorium on water shut-offs while shelter-in-place orders are in effect. Davis argues that the pandemic should make communities rethink how they handle the question of access to affordable water.
Experts project that by 2022, 36 percent of households in the U.S. will struggle to pay their water bills. A 2019 report written by Davis in collaboration with Sharon Harlan, a professor of health sciences and sociology, and Laura Senier, an assistant professor in sociology and anthropology and health sciences, looked at policies regulating the affordability of water in 12 communities in Massachusetts and how local and state laws across the U.S. influence access to drinking water.
“Water that is affordable, as well as accessible and safe, is a fundamental human right,” the report states.
Among its most important findings, the report found that some cities shut off water to discourage payment delinquency, while others convert unpaid water bills to tax liens, which has sometimes led to foreclosures and loss of housing. In addition, the report showed, though rising water costs plague homeowners and renters alike, they tend to fall hardest on people of color who are low-income.
To cope, water customers reported making significant sacrifices, found Northeastern doctoral student Mariana Sarongo, another member of the team. One interviewee said she was cutting back on needed medications to afford water, while another participant said she was unable to afford a money-saving vegetable garden because it cost too much to water the produce.
“COVID-19 makes clear that these issues are not simply individual problems, but should instead encourage community-wide responses to ensure affordable water for all,” says Davis, who is also associate dean for experiential education at Northeastern.
The title of University Distinguished Professor is the highest honor the university can bestow upon a faculty member. It is conferred at the behest of Northeastern’s president, Joseph E. Aoun, and provost, Ken Henderson, upon faculty members who have earned international recognition and distinction for their transformative educational and scholarly contributions.
Davis says she appreciates the support from her law school colleagues who nominated her, describing the recognition as “the honor of my life.”
“I am particularly pleased to receive this recognition because of the increased visibility it will give to the law school’s human rights work—particularly critical given the COVID-19 crisis—and the NuLawLab, the law school’s dynamic innovation engine,” she says.
“Professor Davis brings to all of her pursuits fiery intelligence, intellectual honesty, extraordinary energy, creativity, and an unwavering commitment to the furthering of justice and law—law in theory and law in practice, as well as innovation in law to expand access to justice,” they wrote in their nomination letter.
Davis, who is also associate dean for experiential education and a faculty director for the law school’s Program on Human Rights and the Global Economy and the NuLawLab, is a member of the expert pool for WaterLex, a Geneva-based development organization that advocates for water and human rights.
In addition to water affordability, she has written on human rights, women’s rights, and social justice issues. She co-edited “Global Urban Justice: The Rise of Human Rights Cities,” which examines cities that base their local policies on human rights, a text to which she also contributed a chapter, titled “Cities, Human Rights and Accountability: The United States Experience.”
Davis co-authored the first law school textbook on human rights in the U.S., titled “Human Rights Advocacy in the United States,” and she co-edited “Bringing Human Rights Home,” a three-volume text chronicling the human rights movement in the U.S. Her book, “Brutal Need: Lawyers and the Welfare Rights Movement,” received the Reginald Heber Smith Award and was also honored by the American Bar Association. Her articles have appeared in numerous publications, including the Yale Law Journal, the North Carolina Law Review, and Fordham Law Review.
Prior to joining Northeastern in 2002, Davis was vice president and legal director for the Legal Momentum. Formerly known as NOW Legal Defense and Education Fund, the organization is the oldest legal advocacy group for women in the U.S.
As a women’s rights practitioner, Davis litigated a number of cases before the U.S. Supreme Court, and argued Nguyen v. INS, a case that challenged sex-based citizenship laws. She has also completed fellowships at the Bunting Institute, the Harvard Law School, and Harvard’s Kennedy School of Government.
For media inquiries, please contact email@example.com.
Northeastern’s highest achievements on display at the Academic Honors Convocation
Northeastern University on Thursday celebrated the achievements of more than 60 students, faculty, and alumni at the Academic Honors Convocation in East Village.Read more
It’s time to bust some neuroscience myths
Lisa Feldman Barrett, a psychology professor at Northeastern who has been awarded a 2019 Guggenheim Fellowship, finds misinformation and myths about the brain everywhere. So she’s setting the record straight in a new book called Seven Insights About the Brain.Read more
Her dream didn’t come true and she couldn’t be happier about that
Zoe Bishop, who will receive a degree in biochemistry at Commencement, is among nine Fulbright scholars who will be celebrated by President Joseph E. Aoun at the Academic Honors Convocation on Thursday.Read more
Northeastern students awarded two Truman, nine Fulbright scholarships
The university boasts two Truman Scholars in a year when more students than ever before were nominated in the U.S. It’s also home to nine Fulbright Scholars, the most ever in a single year for the university. The honorees will be celebrated by President Joseph E. Aoun at the Academic Honors Convocation on Thursday.Read more
She studies school shootings, murder-suicides, and homicide trends
Emma Fridel, a PhD student in criminology and criminal justice who has studied school shootings, gender differences in crime rates, and murder-suicides, is the recipient of Northeastern’s Outstanding Graduate Student Award for Research.Read more
American democracy is a dumpster fire. We can still save it.
Northeastern professor David Lazer’s work in pioneering the new discipline of computational social science using network analysis, computational modeling, and field experiments has earned him the prestigious Klein Lectureship and a University Distinguished Professor appointment.Read more
She met a Peruvian midwife, and that changed everything
For Claire Celestin, a behavioral neuroscience student and recipient of the Marshall Scholarship, a co-op experience with a midwife in Peru opened her eyes to the poor treatment of pregnant women in other parts of the world.Read more
How jello-like cubes can help fight cancer
Sidi Bencherif, an assistant professor of chemical engineering at Northeastern, recently received a CAREER award from the National Science Foundation to develop biomaterials that generate oxygen. These materials could help researchers understand how low oxygen environments affect the immune system and potentially be used to supply oxygen to help train immune cells to fight cancer.Read more
What secrets do ballet dancers hold for people with disabilities? Or for robots?
Northeastern professor Dagmar Sternad, newly appointed as University Distinguished Professor, is studying ballet dancers to learn about balance. The research could have far-reaching implications for clinical research, helping to shed insight, for example, on how to increase mobility in older adults or people with physical disabilities. Their findings could also help engineers design better robots.Read more
Want machines to analyze images faster? Stay out of their way.
Paul Hand, an assistant professor of mathematics and computer science, has received a CAREER award from the National Science Foundation to figure out why neural networks are so effective at reconstructing and processing images.Read more