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
Dr. Hazel Sive is Dean of the College of Science at Northeastern University (since June 2020). 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
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
Dean Sive’s Letters to the COS Community
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
Interim Associate Dean of Administration and Finance
Sam Inman serves as the Interim 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 Interim 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
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
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.Mark Williams' Profile
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.