Northeastern professors Kevin Fu, Alessandro Vespignani and Yun Raymond Fu honored by American Association for the Advancement of Science

From left, Northeastern professors Kevin Fu, Alessandro Vespignani and Raymond Fu. Courtesy photo and photos by Matthew Modoono/Northeastern University.

By Tanner Stening and Noah Lloyd

Three Northeastern University professors—Alessandro Vespignani, Kevin Fu and Yun Raymond Fu—have been selected as Fellows of the American Association for the Advancement of Science.

The AAAS is the world’s largest “general scientific society” and publisher of perhaps the most widely recognized prestigious academic journal, Science Magazine.

Becoming a fellow at the prestigious association is a lifetime honor awarded to “distinguished cadre of scientists, engineers and innovators who have been recognized for their achievements across disciplines, from research, teaching, and technology, to administration in academia, industry and government, to excellence in communicating and interpreting science to the public.”

Vespignani is director of the Network Science Institute and Sternberg Family Distinguished Professor at Northeastern.

“It’s an entire academic and scientific community,” Vespignani told Northeastern Global News. “For me, [this appointment] has been something that is a big motivation—being recognized by your peers for the work you’ve done. Scientifically, this is the community telling you that they appreciate your impact.”

Writing to Vespignani, Sudip Parikh, chief executive officer of the American Association for the Advancement of Science, said he is being honored “for defining network epidemiology, establishing the foundations for modeling the spread of viruses, and for his leadership in societal interventions to limit the impact of COVID-19.”

Each year, the association’s council elects its members based on their “efforts on behalf of the advancement of science, or its applications, are scientifically or socially distinguished,” according to Parikh’s letter.

Such a recognition has been a long time coming. Vespignani’s work in pandemic modeling, and simulating how and when infectious disease outbreaks might take place has received worldwide praise, making him among the most respected researchers in the field with respect to the COVID-19 pandemic response.

Kevin Fu is a professor of electrical and computer engineering. His research into securing biomedical devices from cyberattacks is increasingly important in a world where millions such devices are in daily use.

“I’m looking forward to creating interdisciplinary career opportunities for students at Northeastern to improve health care and medical device cybersecurity,” he said.

Also in the department of electrical and computer engineering, distinguished professor Yun Raymond Fu was recognized for “20 years of research and innovations.”

Founding director of the Synergetic Media Learning Lab (the “SMILE” lab), Yun Raymond Fu’s work in artificial intelligence and machine learning, as well as computer vision and pattern recognition, has distinguished him in his field.

The honor of being named a fellow will provide “extra motivation,” for future and ongoing projects, he said.

“I am grateful to all my students who were along with me on all these efforts,” Yun Raymond Fu said.

David Madigan, provost and senior vice president for academic affairs, said Vespignani, Kevin Fu and Yun Raymond Fu all contribute to Northeastern’s mission.

“They are visionary and global intellectual leaders, and we are so honored to count them among our faculty,” Madigan said. “I am delighted that the AAAS is honoring Alex, Kevin and Yun Raymond—this is so richly deserved.”

Tanner Stening is a Northeastern Global News reporter. Email him at Follow him on Twitter@tstening90.