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RISE goes virtual for its biggest year yet

This year’s fully virtual RISE expo on April 15 features a record-breaking 457 research projects. Photo by Ruby Wallau/Northeastern University

Curious about how to make steel structures more sustainable? How about the way fins on a rocket affect its stability in flight? Or how to build a ukulele by hand from salvaged cherry, ash, and applewood?

Look no further than Northeastern’s RISE expo, the university’s annual celebration of undergraduate, graduate, and faculty research on Thursday, April 15. This year’s fully virtual environment features a record-breaking 457 research projects and live question-and-answer sessions over video where attendees can chat with the researchers themselves.

“This year we have more student presenters and professional judges than ever in the history of RISE,” says Jonna Iacono, director of undergraduate research and fellowships at Northeastern and one of the organizers of the event.

Students are eligible for a variety of awards based on the originality of their projects, significance of research, and the overall presentation. This year also features a “People’s Choice” award, decided by attendees who will be able to vote on their favorite projects throughout the day.

A decade old, the Research, Innovation, Scholarship, and Entrepreneurship expo is the university’s hallmark event for students and faculty to showcase the research they’ve been doing all year—and in some cases, over the course of several years.

Caroline Ghio, a fifth-year student of chemical engineering, will be presenting a project that explores how the presence of lactate increases a cell’s ability to acquire iron, research she’s worked on for several years.

“RISE is an opportunity for presenters to learn how to communicate our work,” Ghio says. “You can do as much research as you want, but if you can’t communicate what you’ve done and why it’s important, it’s not going anywhere.”

During a typical year, Cabot Center on the university’s Boston campus is converted to a hive of activity, as people snake through poster presentations and inventions, stopping to learn more and strike up a conversation as they go. Last year, RISE organizers had to pivot quickly to pull off a virtual version of the event during the COVID-19 pandemic.

This year, Iacono says, the digital format has undergone an overhaul that makes the experience closer to the in-person version.

Student and faculty researchers created two-minute videos that explain their research. Once registered, attendees can watch these presentations at any time on the RISE website, under the “Presentations” tab. Those interested in attending can register online at any time.

Researchers also have predetermined blocks of time throughout the day during which they’ll be available for a live video chat. That information can be found within the description box for each research project.

Attendees can also join live panel discussions throughout the day (the schedule can be found under the “Schedule” tab on the website), which will be book-ended by an opening ceremony at 9:30 a.m. EDT and a closing ceremony with award-winners at 4 p.m. EDT.

“RISE really is the best representation of the research environment at Northeastern, but especially for undergraduates,” Ghio says. “You really see the depth and breadth of the research that people do here, it speaks to how involved the students here [at Northeastern] are in hands-on research.”

For media inquiries, please contact media@northeastern.edu

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