Satellites – 12.9.22

Dear College of Science Faculty and Staff,

I love the flight path indicator on a plane, to see how high and fast you’re flying and where. Particularly fun is the full earth globe you can rotate, to look at places that are nowhere near your destination, but exotic possibilities. All this comes from satellite images, and Google Earth is a fantastic use of these data, despite some privacy concerns. That you can find your house, check out another location, or get (mostly correct) directions is terrific. In the excellent movie Lion, Google Earth helped Saroo find his home. My house shows up with a swing set from long ago in the garden. Google Earth is a great example of where science, engineering and computation can meet, with stunning application. Indeed, satellites are one of the few realizations of space technology that exceed predictions of science fiction, which by now would have projected we could all readily zip around the universe.

Innovation is where knowledge meets application, where fundamental science is translated into products. In the College of Science, many of you are brilliantly moving the frontiers of research into outcomes relevant to health, energy, materials, sensors, the environment and more. Northeastern’s CRI including the Spark Fund, is a great resource, and startup space out at our Burlington Innovation Campus is another. I encourage you to explore how your research might connect with relevant industries, or how you might put together a startup. Innovation spans all levels, and to promote COS undergraduate entrepreneurship, the new ‘Science Connects with Innovation’ program will fund students to plan their ideas towards a potential product.

We can think about Innovation more broadly, since this applies to education, advising, organization, new ways of doing business, as well as research. I’m therefore delighted to announce the new! COS Dean’s Innovation Awards, four annual awards to faculty and staff who demonstrate prowess in any aspect of innovation. Please watch for the process, and we look forward to celebrating more outstanding achievements from the College of Science!

My best wishes from South Africa, which I have not visited since before the pandemic. I am working on Northeastern-Wits University connections, the Northeastern Experience Campaign and receiving a much-appreciated honorary doctorate.