The College of Science is guided by a team of leaders, pioneers, scientists, entrepreneurs, teachers, writers and researchers. They influence thinking, inspire ideas and create new innovation.

Hazel Sive, PhD

Dean, College of Science
Professor of Biology

Dr. Hazel Sive is Dean of the College of Science (since June 2020) and Professor of Biology at Northeastern University.  Prior, she was Professor of Biology at MIT, Member of the Whitehead Institute for Biomedical Research and Associate Member of the Broad Institute.

A native of South Africa, she received the B.Sc. in Chemistry and Zoology, from University of Witwatersrand, Johannesburg, South Africa; and the Ph.D. from Rockefeller University, New York.

Her groundbreaking research focuses on neurodevelopmental disorders, as well as fundamental processes underlying brain and craniofacial development. Dr. Sive is a distinguished educator.

She is a MacVicar Faculty Fellow, MIT’s highest undergraduate teaching accolade and twice a winner of the MIT School of Science Teaching Award. At MIT, she taught Introductory Biology; a new subject called Building with Cells; and Developmental Neuroscience.

An accomplished leader and innovator, Dr. Sive was Associate Dean of MIT Science with oversight for education and equity. She was Founding Director of the MIT- Africa Initiative, that promotes mutually beneficial engagements in research, education and innovation; and Founding Director of the MIT Jameel World Higher Education Lab.

Dr. Sive's Profile

mother of fields cover

Mother of Fields

In June 2020 renowned developmental biologist Hazel Sive concluded 28 years as a Whitehead Institute Member and professor of biology at Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT). While Sive was a much-lauded teacher and academic leader at MIT — experiences she is now drawing on for her new role as Dean of Northeastern University’s College of Science — she is globally recognized for her achievements as a fundamental science researcher. In this piece, she reflects on significant accomplishments in her long, fruitful scientific career at Whitehead Institute

Read the full Piece

Dean Sive’s Letters to the COS Community

2021 Letters
2020 Letters
October 2021 Letters

Celebrating the Truth - 10/08/21

You may remember the Ministry of Truth in George Orwell’s book 1984. They had the job to rewrite history, so it fit the propaganda. It was where Winston Smith worked, who became so disgusted with his assignment and society that he sought to escape, and find the real truth (unfortunately, with no happy ending).

I wonder often what is ‘real’. When I need something unequivocal, the maple tree in my yard is a help – the rough bark under each finger and the view up the high trunk confirm with every sense that this is real. But assessing the truth behind news reports, history, or anecdotes is so difficult that ‘fake news’ is now a scholarly field.


Tenure - 10/01/21

By the time I came up for tenure consideration, what I cared about was that my research group had made really interesting findings. We had asked how organs of the body get put in the correct place, or as a student subtitled his thesis: ‘why your brain is not in your big toe’. This topic is both fascinating but also crucial for families seeking causes of birth anomalies. I cared about the wonderfully bright group of trainees who had chosen to work with me, and that I had been able to raise funds to support the work. Tenure was a milestone, but not the point.

The thing you may know about tenure is that it comes with a very long term contract. University tenure is described by the AAUP as originating to protect ‘academic freedom’ allowing faculty the ability to express opinion without fear of retribution. I had thought tenure was like academic regalia, dating back 1,000 years, but actually it is quite new, beginning in the 1940s.  Tenure has been criticized as not useful, unfair, and responsible for promoting narrow, elitist research. Indeed, shorter contracts can be a reasonable substitute. But I think with proper understanding and mechanism, tenure remains a viable system, that can maximize the high impact research carried out at a university.


September 2021 Letters

The Slow Way to the Moon - 9/24/21

The only part of the movie AD ASTRA I liked was the beginning, a commercial flight to the moon, that seemed pretty accurate. It looked as uncomfortable as regular air travel, except that pillows and blankets ran $500. When you arrived, there was an escalator, a sign at the top reading Welcome to the Moon (0.10-0.22), and security with dogs in the arrival hall. The car ride after was cool, an open rover driving along the dusty moonscape under a pitch-black sky and earth hanging there. It was not clear how long that future trip took, but generally moon flights carrying people run about three days, and a lot of fuel, to cover the quarter million miles from earth.

Did you know though, that there’s a slow way to the moon? It takes around four weeks and uses much less energy. Rather than the straight shot of escaping earth’s gravity and heading on a direct path to the moon, the slow way puts a craft into increasingly wider elliptical orbit around earth, using earth’s gravity to push the apogee further and further from earth, and closer and closer to the moon. Eventually the craft is captured by the moon’s gravity and switches into moon orbit. It’s very clever and although the distance traveled approaches four million miles, the trip costs a fraction of the straight shot.


The BeeGees and the importance of collaborative research - 9/17/21

You’ve likely heard a BeeGees song – the 2017 estimate was that one of their hits played on the radio every twenty seconds. I had vaguely discounted them as a run of the mill pop group until I came across an interview with Barry Gibb, the last living member, and started digging around. In fact, their music is fantastic (click on the *links), and as a bonus, their interesting story suggested some excellent tips for Science research.

From modest beginnings in England, and later Australia, the Gibb brothers – Barry, and twins Maurice and Robin – formed the BeeGees and were pre-teen TV stars with confidence and great harmonies. Back in England the group became hugely successful, largely by popularizing ‘disco’ through their Saturday Night Fever* score (although the genre later became a racist/homophobic target). For 27 consecutive weeks in 1978, seven songs written by the brothers were #1 on the US charts, and they held five of the top ten slots for even longer. Eventually, radio hosts refused to play their songs and held BeeGees-free weekends!

The parallels between the effective BeeGees working style and the important collaborative research we’re promoting at Northeastern are quite interesting. For example…


A Full Experience - 9/10/21

The term ‘normal’ is loaded. Some years ago, my research group explored this as applied to neurodevelopmental and mental health disorders, that our studies address. We quickly decided that ‘normal’ should be removed from our vocabulary, since it implied ‘correct’ or ‘best’ and ‘abnormal’ implied something opposite. In fact, we were part of a wave of understanding, and terminology has become ‘affected’ and ‘unaffected’ as pertain to most disorders. These more recent terms acknowledge differences between people, that although many of us are affected by some mental or physical challenge, none of us is ‘abnormal’, and I am deeply glad that term has dissipated.

‘Normal’ cannot describe this new academic year either, as we cautiously learn to live with COVID. At Convocation on Monday, our new undergraduates, masked and vaccinated, were thrilled to join Northeastern in person, totally excited to be Huskies. President Aoun promised our students a ‘full experience’, which is a brilliant way to put it. On Thursday, we regrouped to hood our PhD candidates – the classes of 2019, 2020, and 2021, becoming one of the few universities to honor doctoral graduates in person. Northeastern has been a paradigm for how to keep the full experience going in the face of a global disaster, and each member of our community should be truly proud to have contributed to this effort.


August 2021 Letters

Important Lives - 8/20/21

You know the scenario – while turning on the shower, a moth flutters up. It’s one of those beautiful white ones with wings carefully outlined in black and small yellow spots on either side. But moths are not built for water, and a drop or two sadly sends the little animal down the drain. Every life is important, and this week brings ongoing news of many lives in danger. In the fires of the western US, earthquakes in Haiti, the turmoil in Afghanistan, tropical storms in our country and abroad, in the rising number of COVID cases. We send warm wishes for the safety of your family and friends in these regions or affected by the virus.


July 2021 Letters

Meetings - 7/23/21

When was your first meeting? Preschool maybe, when you were in the Moonbeam class? Morning Meeting, with a hello song and what was going to happen that day. You picked at your socks, drew on the soles if you had a crayon. Because Morning Meeting was a little slow. And you wanted to get going and do stuff, preferably pedal a tricycle on the outside track as fast as possible.

In the College of Science we broker lots of encounters through meetings. Meetings have a bad reputation – useless, waste of time, too many, are common complaints. But I love well organized meetings that have a point (scroll down in the link to ‘Meeting for Success’). Snappy, carefully led meetings give useful information, unexpected insights and important ideas. Seminars, especially those not in your field, often introduce a technique helpful for your research, and casual meetings are great ways to exchange the latest data.


June 2021 Letters

Ramping up for next semester - 6/25/21

Across the country, we are shocked by the Miami building collapse, and pray for the safety of those affected, and for your family and friends there. We send warm wishes for the safety of your family and friends in countries still so burdened by COVID-19.

In better news, now in official Summer, my bird feeder is in demand from first to last light. Parent birds bring their babies for a snack, and a young bunny comes to look for dropped seeds. The large shallow bowls I’ve filled with water are in constant use for a drink or a splash. Seeds are up and almost flowering, the Borage miraculously returned. Last year I gave up trying to grow a lawn, letting the moss and small plants thrive, and the results are soft, peaceful, and a great environment for insects. But perhaps the best part of summer is pulling on a trusty pair of flipflops, my unconstrained toes enjoying seasonal freedom!


May 2021 Letters

Out of COVID, Into Summer - 5/28/2021

Here in Massachusetts, we have the highest percentage of vaccinated people of any US state, so we are feeling safer and more confident. Restrictions are easing, and at Northeastern in accord with state guidelines, masks will soon be optional everywhere for fully vaccinated peopleYou are not required to remove your mask. Indeed, for certain medical conditions, the guidance is to be careful. I plan to keep masked in various places, not only because a smart cloth mask has become part of my dress, but because it can be private and protective. Over the upcoming flu and cold season, we all might do well to keep a mask or two at hand. Please do whatever is comfortable, within Northeastern guidelines.


Thank you for the honor of this collegial, productive, mind-expanding first year at Northeastern - 5/21/2021

Almost one year ago, on June 1, 2020, I became your Dean. It was a week after Mr. George Floyd had been murdered by police on May 25, and in the midst of a terrifying global pandemic. Northeastern was new to me, as was our College and almost all of you. I was your fourth Dean in almost the same number of years. It was clear that if we were to go forward in the landscape of racial injustice and within the uncertain pandemic framework, we needed to work together as one Community. We needed an overarching value of respect, with a clear statement against systemic racism and towards an equitable College.

Over the year, we’ve met mostly as 1×1 flat images, and I much look forward to seeing you in person. You’ve come to know me – that I have a funny accent, am very positive, and a hands-on Dean full of ideas, who is always thrilled to hear new ones! I have come to understand the top-quality research that is performed by many of you, the top-quality education you give our students and the top-quality administration and staffing that runs our departments and units.

Northeastern was my destination because it seemed the most innovative university around, a place where we could invent the future of higher education, and that is true! Northeastern has become my home, and I am so happy to be part of this great College and University.


Congratulations! You've done it! - 5/14/2021

My favorite piece of philosophy is the short essay by Albert Camus, The Myth of Sisyphus. Camus looks into the bleakest situations and comes out with a positive view. Sisyphus was condemned to roll a boulder uphill forever, a dismal existence, but Camus understands that the effort Sisyphus makes is the point of his life. At the end he concludes: The struggle itself toward the heights is enough to fill a man’s heart. One must imagine Sisyphus happy.’ I have a printed stack of this essay ready to give to anyone whose confidence is down, who is in need of encouragement. It’s encouraging to understand that your effort to achieve is enough (and usually gets you somewhere).


At Northeastern and in the College of Science, we are re-thinking higher education and the university - 5/7/2021

This is graduation week! With exciting in person processions all week on campus, and Commencement in person on Saturday and Sunday at Fenway, how great is this! Again, Northeastern is leading the way, with many universities opting for virtual graduation ceremonies. I am honored to present our College of Science graduates, and my cap, gown and hood are ready. This is a time for CONGRATULATIONS, and my greatest gratitude to each of you who has taught, guided, facilitated and inspired our students. There would be no graduation without you. Thank you, thank you, thank you.

The notion of degrees is as old as universities, with the University of Bologna, Italy in continuous operation from the 11th century granting the first degrees. This week I addressed several College graduation celebrations, including the following, generalized for this letter.


April 2021 Letters

You can count on the power of Science - 4/30/2021

We are watching with deepest concern as India is ravaged by COVID-19, and now South American countries are contributing a large percentage of global COVID cases. We extend heartfelt and most sincere hopes for an improved situation to our College of Science faculty, staff and students who have family and friends in India, or in other countries severely affected. We hope that international efforts to send medical supplies and vaccination materials will rapidly assist. Here are some ideas you can consider to help India through this crisis.


Let's make every day Earth Day - 4/23/2021

When I was a student, a requirement for the Zoology major was the Insect Project. You had to collect at least 100 different insects, kill them in a bottle with ethyl acetate, and mount them according to convention using pins and a cork board. I collected 100 exactly, because I did not want to kill more than the minimum, but some of my classmates built elaborate cabinets and presented thousands of different species, some quite rare. Professor Passmore told our class that insects would be the last animal group to survive on earth (after the feared nuclear wars). You can irradiate them and they are untouched, he told us. They will survive anything.

I must have had that notion firmly in my mind, because it was an enormous jolt to learn a few years ago that the insects of our planet were in drastic, devastating decline. There has been a 2.5% decrease in insect mass per year for the last 25-30 years, even in what are considered pristine forests. Extrapolating, within a century there will be none, zero insects. This outcome is thought to result from destroying habitats, especially by agriculture, compounded by pesticide use. Without insects as food, huge numbers of bird, frog, lizard and mammalian species will not survive. Neither will the many predators of the insect eaters. Many flowers will not be pollinated, impacting our food and crops. With this knowledge, last summer, while driving along I-93 towards Vermont, I noticed a butterfly flying on the side of the highway, and realized how daunting to be that small animal, confronted by a wide, busy road with nowhere to alight.


Solving the greatest challenges of our planet - 4/16/2021

We’re surrounded by complex problems, in science, in society and often across science and society. If you’re looking for a definition, complex problems are solvable only through multiple approaches and disciplines’. You know some of the complex problems waiting to be solved – climate change, racism, homelessness, ‘a cure for cancer’. When these problems become political, there is pressure to find a quick fix, but that does not exist, and the absence is construed as failure.


Life’s best moments are about taking small but empowering steps - 4/9/21

Right at the start of the pandemic, last March, when we were truly terrified, and the whole thing seemed a nightmare in which we were stuck, I was walking my now routine loop. Dropped on the sidewalk was a Ziploc bag of green grapes – twelve, taken off their stalks. Some water droplets told me these were carefully washed, perhaps someone was taking them to work, perhaps an essential worker. I walked by, but kept imagining what would happen – over days the grapes would start to rot, and someone would stand on them to make a squishy mess. This bothered me so much that next day I went back. The grapes were untouched, and I opened the bag then tumbled them onto the verge. I took the bag home, washed it and put it in my ready-to-use box. Next day, two of the grapes had disappeared, three the next, then all were gone. I suspected a family of racoons I’d seen crossing the road nearby had been pleased to find the delicious fruit. The whole thing made me feel a bit better, that even in this unbelievably scary moment, one could take a tiny step of useful action.


Hooray for RNA - 4/2/2021

This week I had my first COVID-19 RNA vaccine shot – Pfizer, at a CVS in Belmont. The nurse was top notch and the store employees serious about running an efficient, careful process. The nurse noted that everyone was excited to get their shot (me, too). I was pleased that my arm hurt after, suggesting that my body is responding to viral Spike protein made because of RNA in the vaccine, and starting to produce protective anti-viral antibodies. Back in my thesis days, it would have been hard to imagine hundreds of millions of people being injected with vaccines made of bits of RNA packed in fat droplets. When I was a PhD student, describing the medical applications of RNA in a grant proposal was wishful thinking.


March 2021 Letters

Revising our pandemic brain circuitry - 3/26/21

During the COVID pandemic, we have done a lot of learning. You probably now readily remember to wear a mask when you go outside, and you avoid getting too close to non-pod people without thinking twice. The landscape is quite familiar, because each of us has formed some new neural circuitry. We have also been enormously stressed, and Covid Stress Syndrome is real. Please take care of your mental health, and seek help as you need it.

There is writing now on fear of being normal, post-COVID. Some of this has to do with revising our pandemic brain circuitry and it will be a jolt to try and lose this. I can’t now imagine feeling comfortable going out mask-less. It will help to reactivate pleasant, socializing circuits that have been dormant for a year. We will have to build up again these old pathways, even while remnants of the pandemic persist.


Every person is valued - 3/19/2021

Once more this week, we witnessed horrific violence against Asian people. This morning Associate Dean Randall Hughes and I sent to the entire College a letter (included in our March 5 Update) that reiterates College support for our Asian community, consistent with the message this week from President Aoun. The College of Science is committed to a culture of respect and action towards equity, and is a place where every person is valued, and where each person belongs.


A varied society - 3/5/2021

There has been disturbing news lately about hate crimes against Asian people.  I wanted to understand the definition of this term, and found on the US Department of Justice site: “When used in hate crime law, the word ‘hate’ does not mean rage, anger or general dislike. In this context ‘hate’ means bias against people or groups with specific characteristics, and the ‘crime’ is usually a violent one. 


After the transition to remote work - 3/12/2021

This is COVID Anniversary Week. One year ago, the World Health Organization acknowledged a worrying new infectious disease, and we locked down to avoid catching and spreading it.


February 2021 Letters

Perseverance Award - 2/26/2021

The Martian lander, Perseverance has a name fitting this past year. It was launched in the depths of the pandemic, July 2020 and made the long trek to Mars, arriving last week. The landing video is so exciting, and I especially like the end where you see the scientists celebrating in the JPL control room. They are women, men and people of varied races, a huge shift from the early uniform demographic of NASA personnel.


The rich ‘connectome’ of our College - 2/19/2021

The still brilliant TV series ‘Connections’ explores how current technologies were shaped by contributions from historical, geographical and societal landscapes, over thousands of years. Host James Burke poses complex questions like ‘how did the touchstone (early money) make square sails obsolete, develop the compass and lead to invention of radar?’ Take a look, the episodes are on YouTube and as surprising as ever. They remind us how discoveries in science often lead in unanticipated, important directions.


A smooth Spring semester - 2/12/2021

We are moving towards Spring! I am sure of this, because even in the frigid weather, the sunlight is staying longer each day, and there is no need for a flashlight on my dog’s afternoon walk. I am sure we are moving towards Spring because there are buds on the rhododendrons and magnolias, magical groups of cells waiting for the moment they can wake up, and make flowers.


Honoring Black scientists - 2/5/2021

This is Black History Month, and a time to affirm our College of Science and Northeastern commitment to anti-racist policies, to a culture of respect, to action against systemic racism and towards equity. We are working hard, and I want to thank every person in the College who is participating in our sincere efforts to meet these goals.


January 2021 Letters

Pandemic Lessons - 1/29/2021

I wrote this a while ago for a story slam, and it seems pertinent to where we are today. “One evening last fall I drove down a hill on Commonwealth Avenue to a striking sunset scene – a flock of birds silhouetted against the bright orange sky. It occurred to me then, that I was going home and the birds were going home, and the bees were at home and the chipmunks.


Happy New Year - 1/22/2021

The morning air has a special sharpness that I love. I think there must be a chemistry involved – an ionization driven by the new light, perhaps? (CCB members, any insight or comment on this 1903 musing?)


Making the Dream Real - 1/15/2021

I was in elementary school when Nobel Laureate, the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. was assassinated in 1968. The news crossed the world to South Africa, from where the United States seemed a distant dream. It was a big deal though, because we knew Dr. King’s death was a blow for the Black civil rights movement in the United States.


Gracious Professionalism - 1/8/21

The storming of the Capitol was extraordinary both in that the President encouraged this type of behavior, and in that it was possible to so easily breach security. It was extraordinary, but consistent with our history of white supremacy, that the police were so gentle with the mostly white protesters. We have seen the violence consistently inflicted on Black protesters by police. There is no doubt in my mind that had the storming been carried out by Black people, the outcomes would have been far worse.

For me, these events also highlight that being a good loser is a useful part of life. Losing is a tough and frequent life lesson, that we generally have to politely accept, and try to learn from each instance. Mr. Trump unfortunately, seems not have learned this lesson.


An Extraordinary Effort - 12/18/2020

Speaking of famous Huskies, Balto was a Siberian Husky, a sled dog who is immortalized by a statue in New York’s Central Park. The story is complicated, and a petition indicates that the statue should have depicted another Husky named Togo. But the point is one of hope: an extraordinary effort to bring diptheria antitoxin to Nome, Alaska in 1925, so stopping the outbreak of a terrible illness. Due to a blizzard, planes could not fly and the antitoxin was carried six hundred and seventy-four miles through driving snow and -20oF temperatures by dog sled teams. Balto (or maybe Togo) was the lead dog on the final leg of the dangerous trip.


Meet the Associate Deans

Jared Auclair, PhD

Associate Dean of Professional Programs and Graduate Affairs

Dr. Auclair received the Bachelor of Science in biotechnology from Worcester Polytechnic Institute and the Ph.D. in Biomedical Science from the University of Massachusetts Medical. Dr. Auclair has a research track focusing on human disease. His doctoral research focused on the molecular mechanism of HIV-1 infection, his post-doctoral research at Brandeis University addressed Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis (ALS, also called Lou Gehrig’s disease).

At Northeastern, Jared Auclair has focused on Analytical Biochemistry, including molecular biology, protein biochemistry, analytical chemistry, protein crystallography and biological mass spectrometry. He is particularly interested in advancing technologies that improve the lives of patients. His focus is on a future of higher education where practical, hands-on experiences and varying levels of credentialing, prepare a skilled workforce.

It is with this goal that Jared assumed the role of Associate Dean, working to solidify the quality of our existing professional programs, aligning course and program content to the needs of industry, and developing new and innovative programs.

Jared Auclair's Profile

Erin Cram, PhD

Associate Dean for Research

In 2020, Erin Cram was appointed Associate Dean for Research.

As a member of the College Senior Leadership team, Dr. Cram provides creative, goal-oriented leadership for funding research-based initiatives, including PhD training. She also provides strategic planning for grant proposals, identifies funding and award opportunities, communicates success stories, and promotes entrepreneurship.

Dr. Cram earned her Bachelor’s of Science in Biology from the University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill, where she discovered her love of scientific research. During her PhD in Molecular Cell Biology at the University of California, Berkeley, she studied cell cycle regulation by potential chemotherapeutic compounds. Her postdoctoral studies at Princeton University on the network regulation of cell migration led to her recruitment to Northeastern University as an Assistant Professor in 2006. An award-winning scientist and educator, Dr. Cram is committed to building diverse and interdisciplinary research teams. Her current research is at intersection of cell biology and engineering, with a major focus on how mechanical forces are sensed and interpreted by cells.

Through her work with the Office of Undergraduate Research and Fellowships, as Director of Graduate Studies for Biology, and as a mentor to early career faculty, Dr. Cram has supported our students and faculty as they attain the highest levels of excellence in research. She looks forward to continuing this work on the COS Leadership team.

Erin Cram's Profile

Oyinda Oyelaran, PhD

Associate Dean for Faculty Affairs

Professor Oyelaran joined the Dean’s Office in 2021 as Associate Dean for Faculty Affairs.

Professor Oyelaran is a Teaching Professor in the Department of Chemistry and Chemical Biology. After earning a Bachelor of Science in Chemistry, summa cum laude, from Salem College and conducting research at Merck Research Laboratories, she earned a Ph.D. in Chemistry from the Department of Chemistry and Chemical Biology at Harvard University. As a postdoctoral fellow in the Chemical Biology Laboratory at the National Cancer Institute, Dr. Oyelaran’s research focused on the synthesis of tumor-associated carbohydrate antigens and the development of a carbohydrate microarray platform for profiling anti-carbohydrate serum antibodies to enable rapid discovery of cancer biomarkers and new cancer antigens. Her work led to the discovery of a panel of predictive biomarkers for prostate cancer. She joined Northeastern in 2011 after being Assistant Professor of Chemistry at Williams College where she taught organic chemistry and conducted research focused on elucidating the relationship between carbohydrate blood group antigens and susceptibility to severe malaria.

Professor Oyelaran teaches Organic Chemistry I and II for majors and non-majors. She is an accomplished, award-winning educator, as recipient of the 2020 University Excellence in Teaching Award, as well as the 2020 College of Science Excellence in Teaching Award. Professor Oyelaran is also co-PI of the National Science Foundation Research Experiences for Undergraduates Program in Chemistry and Chemical Biology. As a member of the Dean’s senior leadership team, Dr. Oyelaran provides leadership for faculty affairs as related to hiring, tenure, promotion, sabbatical, mentoring, and professional development of our esteemed, internationally-recognized team of more than 250 faculty.

Oyinda Oyelaran's Profile

Randall Hughes, PhD

Associate Dean of Equity

In 2020, Prof. Randall Hughes joined the College of Science Dean’s Office as the first Associate Dean for Equity.

Dr. Hughes is Associate Professor in the Department of Marine and Environmental Sciences (MES). She joined Northeastern in 2013, after earning the Bachelor’s degree in Biology and Public Policy Analysis at the University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill and the Ph.D. in Ecology at the University of California-Davis, where she also conducted postdoctoral research. Her scholarship focuses on understanding the causes and consequences of biodiversity change, and applying that knowledge to the conservation and restoration of marine systems.

In her tenure at the university, Dr. Hughes has demonstrated a consistent focus and accomplishment towards promoting diversity and inclusion. She created and has chaired the Diversity and Inclusion Committee in MES since 2017, and she has served on the College of Science Diversity Committee since 2018. Dr. Hughes has also prioritized efforts to enhance representation in her field and to develop meaningful engagement with diverse audiences to convey the process and value of science.

Randall Hughes' Profile

Sam Inman, MBA

Associate Dean of Administration and Finance

Sam Inman serves as the Associate Dean of Administration and Finance for the College of Science. Sam initially joined COS as Director of Finance and Operations in 2020, a role charged with overseeing financial planning, data and analytics, space planning, and operations within the Dean’s Office.

Mr. Inman, who earned his M.B.A. from George Washington University School of Business, joined COS with a decade of higher education and nonprofit management experience, including six years of experience at R1 research universities. In addition, he worked as a higher education consultant, working with several public and private universities on operational strategy and implementation projects. In these positions, Sam garnered experience leading or managing high-impact process improvement efforts, capital projects/renovations, and strategic planning exercises.

In his role as Associate Dean of Administration and Finance, Mr. Inman is responsible for leading the College finance, human resources, research administration, and operations teams, and working closely with the Dean and other Associate Deans on strategic projects for the College.

Sam Inman's Profile

Kevin Thompson

Associate Dean for Development

In 2020, Kevin Thompson joined the Dean’s Office as Associate Dean of Development.

Prior to joining the College of Science, Thompson was the Senior Director of Development for the College of Sciences at NC State University. Before joining NC State, he served as Director of Development for Major Gifts at the University of North Carolina Wilmington.

Mr. Thompson earned his BA from the University of North Carolina Wilmington, his MPA from North Carolina State University, and is currently completing his Doctor of Education at Vanderbilt University.

Mr. Thompson connects college leadership and faculty with alumni, parents and partners to secure support for strategic college priorities such as endowed chairs, capital projects, scholarships, and research.

Brent Nelson, PhD

Senior Associate Dean for Academic Affairs

Dr. Nelson joined the Dean’s Office as Associate Dean in 2017.

Dr. Nelson came to Northeastern in 2006 after having served as a postdoctoral fellow at the University of Pennsylvania and at the Michigan Center for Theoretical Physics in Ann Arbor, Michigan, He received his Ph.D. in Physics from the University of California, Berkeley under the supervision of National Academy member Mary K. Gaillard.

Professor Nelson is a theoretical particle physicist whose work connects string theory to testable observations in high energy physics and cosmology. His 60+ scholarly publications over the last 20 years include highly-cited research into hadron collider phenomenology, supersymmetric model building, dark matter phenomenology, mathematical physics, and computational approaches to string theory.

With colleagues at Northeastern University, Professor Nelson established the rapidly-growing field of machine learning applications in theoretical particle physics, including the use of network science to study the vacuum selection problem, and the use of reinforcement learning as a tool to study the string landscape.

Brent Nelson's Profile
Meet the Academic Chairs

Penny Beuning, PhD

Chair, Department of Chemistry and Chemical Biology

Dr. Beuning came to Northeastern in 2006 and was appointed Department Chair in 2020.

Dr. Beuning completed her doctorate at the University of Minnesota and conducted post-doctoral work at the University of Minnesota and MIT. She has been the recipient of the Camille and Henry Dreyfus Foundation New Faculty Award, a Cottrell Scholar, an American Cancer Society Research Scholar and the recipient of an NSF CAREER Award, among other accolades.

Her research aims to determine how cells respond to DNA damage and maintain the accuracy of genetic information. As part of this work, she aims to develop DNA damage tolerance enzymes and DNA repair proteins as tools for biotechnology applications. Her lab also seeks to determine fundamental aspects of enzyme function that can be applied to protein engineering, focusing on enzymes involved in cellular metabolism.

Penny Beuning's Profile

Peter Bex, PhD

Chair, Department of Psychology

Dr. Bex was appointed Chair of the Department of Psychology in 2020.

Professor Bex holds a doctorate in Psychology from Cardiff University (UK) and first came to Northeastern in 2014. He had previous faculty appointments at Harvard Medical School, University College London and Essex University (UK)

Dr. Bex’s research uses cross-disciplinary approaches to study basic and clinical vision science. His clinical research uses behavioral and computational techniques to study the pathological processes in blinding eye diseases including Age-related Macular Disease, Glaucoma and Amblyopia. His research aims to understand the bases and implications of these blinding eye diseases with the goal of developing efficient and sensitive methods for early diagnosis and to measure the presence and progression or remediation of vision loss. Dr. Bex’s lab develops new technologies and novel therapeutic approaches that help to maximize residual visual function and promote the most effective rehabilitation interventions.

Peter Bex's Profile

Egon Schulte, PhD

Chair, Department of Mathematics

Dr. Schulte was appointed Chair of the Department of Mathematics in 2020.

Professor Schulte holds a PhD from the University of Dortmund (Germany) and joined the Northeastern Mathematics department in 1989. He held previous appointments at MIT, the University of Washington and the University of Dortmund. He previously served as acting Chair in the Department of Mathematics at Northeastern from 1998-2001.

Dr. Schulte’s area of expertise includes Discrete and Combinatorial Geometry, Combinatorics, and Group Theory.

Egon Schulte's Profile

Jonathan L. Tilly, PhD

Chair, Department of Biology and University Distinguished Professor

Dr. Tilly was appointed Chair of the Department of Biology in 2013 and was awarded the title of University Distinguished Professor in 2015.

Dr. Tilly earned his PhD from Rutgers University in 1990, completed research fellowships in molecular biology at UC-San Diego and Stanford University Medical Center, and then served on the faculty of Johns Hopkins and Harvard Medical School before joining Northeastern. His areas of expertise are broad, covering reproductive biology, developmental and stem cell biology, mitochondrial function, regenerative medicine, infertility, women’s health, and aging.

For almost three decades, Dr. Tilly’s lab has sought to promote a deeper understanding of the genetic and epigenetic drivers of cell lineage specification, differentiation and death, and to then utilize the information gained from these studies for development of innovative new technologies to improve human health within and across generations. His research has been continuously funded by the National Institutes of Health since 1994, with much of his work published extensively in top-tier journals including Nature, Cell, Nature Genetics, Nature Medicine, and Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences USA.

In 2013, Dr. Tilly was named one of the top 12 innovators in science and biotechnology in Massachusetts by the Boston Globe, as well as Champion in Healthcare by the Boston Business Journal. He is the inventor on 12 issued patents and a scientific co-founder of a biotechnology company focused in improving women’s reproductive health.

Jonathan Tilly's Profile

Geoffrey Trussel, PhD

Chair, Department of Marine and Environmental Sciences

In 2012, Dr. Trussell was appointed Chair of the Department of Marine and Environmental Sciences.

Dr. Trussell, who earned his PhD in Marine Science at the College of William and Mary joined Northeastern as an Assistant Professor of Biology in 2002 and was based at Northeastern’s Marine Science Center. He became the Director of the Marine Science Center in 2009, holds a joint appointment in the Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering, became Vice-President of the Nahant, MA campus operations in 2016, and was named Director of the Coastal Sustainability Institute in 2017.

A highly collaborative researcher, Dr. Trussell’s research program currently focuses on a number of important issues in evolutionary, community and ecosystem ecology. His work emphasizes the evolutionary and ecological significance of predation risk, with an emphasis on the evolution of phenotypic plasticity and inducible defenses, the ecological significance of predation risk, and the influence of trait-mediated indirect interactions on community dynamics and ecosystem function. In addition, he is very devoted to promoting sustainability science research that focuses on advancing knowledge and developing solutions for cleaner, safer and smarter coastal communities.

Geoffrey Trussel's Profile

Mark Williams, PhD

Chair, Department of Physics

Dr. Williams was appointed Chair of the Department of Physics in 2017.

Professor Williams earned his PhD in Physics from the University of Minnesota, where he also completed postdoctoral work in Biophysics. He came to Northeastern in 2001, and in 2003 he earned a Research Corporation Research Innovation Award as well as a National Science Foundation CAREER Award. He became a Fellow in the American Physical Society in 2012.

The Williams lab specializes in the development of single molecule methods for quantitatively probing the biophysical properties of DNA and RNA and for understanding the biophysics of their interactions with proteins and other DNA binding ligands. Dr. William’s research lab has made major contributions in several areas of science, including: Molecular mechanisms of HIV-1 replication interactions; Thermodynamics and structural dynamics of small molecule binding to DNA; Eukaryotic nuclear regulatory proteins and nucleosome dynamics; and Mechanisms of DNA binding by proteins from model bacterial and bacteriophage replication systems.

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