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Northeastern continues ambitious hiring of research-engaged faculty around multiple global issues

Photo by Matthew Modoono/Northeastern University

Last October, Northeastern University unveiled its new academic plan, Experience Unleashed, and announced a goal to recruit 500 full-time, research-engaged faculty members within five years.

The ambitious hiring plan outlined how the university would build on its overarching goal to educate global leaders and develop solutions for humanity’s future. 

In pursuit of that goal, Experience Unleashed clusters learning and discovery around current global issues rather than around specific academic disciplines.

Fast forward one year and the university has created open positions for research-engaged faculty around 13 global challenges that require interdisciplinary solutions, according to David Madigan, provost and senior vice president for academic affairs at Northeastern.

The global issues are: cognitive and brain health; health, technology and data; education innovation; food, water and energy; sustainability; mental health; disease strategies; biological systems and solutions; modeling; artificial intelligence (AI) and social justice; technology and digital economies; extraordinary HCI (Human Computer Interaction); and network science.

“We operate in a highly competitive global market for talent and our new approach to faculty hiring aims to bring to Northeastern the impact-focused scholar-teachers that will carry us to new heights,” Madigan said. “This is a huge undertaking and I deeply appreciate the efforts of the many search committees and everyone involved.”

New faculty hires under the plan—a multimillion dollar investment in the future of teaching and research—will generally have joint appointments in two or more colleges or schools. The majority will be tenured and tenure-track.

Hires will be untethered from the constraints of siloed disciplines and encouraged to collaborate with unexpected colleagues.

Here are the global issues briefly defined with links to the full Northeastern employment opportunities:

Cognitive and brain health

Focus areas include epigenetics and genetics, neuromodulation, nutritional neuroscience and metabolomics, computational modeling, and other related fields. Potential topics of interest may also include lifestyle factors such as physical activity, diet, cognitive training, meditation, music, dance, theater, and social interaction, as well as a range of populations of interest from childhood through older adulthood in healthy individuals or patient populations.

Health, technology and data

Some of the wealthiest countries are seeing declines in societal health that have been evident across almost any measure—life span, obesity, diabetes, mental health, substance misuse, etc. Northeastern is bridging the health and technology/data frontiers by hiring experts in digital health and sensing technology, big health data analytics and visualization, human-robotic teaming technology for health applications, trustworthy AI and ethics and genomics.

Education innovation and Extended Reality

These positions represent the opportunity to join an exciting cohort that works in new technologies, extended reality (XR) and serious games, specifically to invite ongoing creative approaches to the education innovation needed to realize the full potential of Northeastern’s global campus. New approaches to technologies and their ethical and social implications remain central to the university’s impact in the broader world and are key to curricular transformations.

Food, water and energy

In the context of climate change and other human-made disruptions, the need to provide energy and feed the planet lies at the nexus of water, food and energy. The cluster is designed to develop multidisciplinary teams for research and curricular impact as well as partnerships that are crucial for human wellbeing, and resolution of conflict around the world.

Sustainability

The COVID-19 pandemic accelerated several undercurrents in the world of work, including remote work, automation and algorithms/artificial intelligence. This changing nature of work has created a significant opportunity for thought leaders in workforce transformation that can help assess, mold and propagate ideas for addressing challenges and capitalizing on emerging opportunities that include the economic, social, legal and technological issues.

Mental health

One in five adults globally is challenged by a mental health disorder, and 5% of adults and 10% of youth have severe mental illness. Addressing mental health disorders with prevention and therapies is a global priority that requires interdisciplinary approaches across almost every area, including life sciences, health sciences, social sciences, communications, policy, media, design, technology and the arts. 

Disease strategies

Identifying novel therapeutics and developing new delivery systems form a set of crucial health challenges. These hires will develop Northeastern leadership in several key areas including antibiotic resistance and antimicrobials, healthy aging, drug screening and delivery, and making use of computational approaches.

Bio systems and solutions

Physical, chemical and biological approaches lead to understanding, innovations and products. Cross-disciplinary hires will build expertise in mechanobiology and develop new materials, sensors, drugs and diagnostics, all at the frontiers of discovery and application. 

Modeling

Developing a modeling cohort offers a powerful leadership opportunity across science, engineering, communications, computer science and design. Hires will take mathematical approaches to data analysis and presentation, including optimization of medical diagnostics, and use mathematical methods to assess computational systems and assist development of new algorithms. 

AI and social justice

Use of AI and analysis of its ethical and social implications remains central to Northeastern’s impact in the broader world and is key to curricular transformations including Humanics, partnerships and research agendas.

Technology and digital economies

The need to understand, analyze and utilize data to inform decisions has increased exponentially. Similarly, safeguarding data to ensure appropriate use and disclosure has become a significant economic, societal and public policy issue. This topic offers opportunities for potential collaboration across several disciplines, including business, computer science and cyber security.

Extraordinary HCI

Inclusive design encourages a broad understanding of the potential users of new technology and AI, and ensures that equity and inclusion are incorporated into the ways technology and AI are created and implemented. The use of AI and analysis of its ethical and social implications remains central to Northeastern’s impact in the broader world.

Network science

Relevant fields of study include the core areas of network science and its applications to physics, mathematics, social sciences, biology, computer science and engineering, art and design, or any other areas that use mathematical or computational approaches to model physical, informational, social, biological, or geospatial complex systems and their mixtures.

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