The rich ‘connectome’ of our College – 2.19.21
Letter from Dean Sive - February 19, 2021

Dear College of Science Faculty and Staff,

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.

As every researcher can attest, connections in Science are all powerful, and move fields forward. Our important COS research analyzes networks that define the spread of COVID-19; and uncovers connections between cells, genes or proteins in health and disease. COS researchers explore connections between a healthy mind and the environment, between molecules and new biomaterials, between the oceans and clean land, between elementary particles and quantum materials, on and on across a vast array of fields.

We chose the tagline CONNECTS for our College, not only because it cleverly embeds ‘COS’, but because the tag encompasses what we do. Our goals are to connect as one community across the College; across Northeastern in groundbreaking cross-disciplinary research; across our global campuses for broad student experiences; across Boston and the world for powerful research and education; and with our Boston community. In some recent examples, our world-class Biotech MS program was certified at our Toronto campus (thank you! Prof. Kevin Broadbelt and AD Jared Auclair). Our Math Department’s excellent Bridge to Calculus program connects Northeastern and Boston Public Schools, to encourage talented students along STEM pathways (thank you! Dr. Raj Jesudason and Math Chair Prof. Egon Schulte).

Within our College, we’ve riffed on the theme with an informative new Monday CONNECTS newsletter (thank you! Kim Kelley, Dir. Communications). A new Cross-COS Colloquium bridges all departments (thank you! Ass. Dean Kellie Melchin and AD Jared Auclair). So far, we have been honored to have Prof. Dagmar Sternad (Biology) discuss The Wonder of Human Movement – How the Brain Controls the Body and Prof. Jonathan Mboyo Esole (Math) explore Beauty in Mathematics and Physics. Our PhD trainees are special guests, part of the new Connected Science PhD Program, that uses the unique Northeastern experiential focus so graduate students can try out future career paths. For our alumni, parents and friends, we launched COS Connects, talks for non-scientists (thank you! AD Kevin Thompson, James Poulos). The list to date is fantastic: Profs. Rebecca Shansky (Psychology), Toyoko Orimoto (Physics), Lisa Feldman Barrett (Psychology), Paul Hand (Math) and Neel Joshi (CCB). Fresh in my mind, this week Prof. Leila Deravi (CCB) talked about connections between her fundamental research into squid pigment structure, and development of novel, non-toxic sunscreens through a startup company, Seaspire, launched with former student Dr. Camille Martin (a panelist for our Black History Symposium (below).

Making these connections requires huge amounts of work, innovation, and creativity. What I have described barely scratches the rich ‘connectome’ of our College, that involves every member of staff, every educator and every researcher. Thank you to each person for building, maintaining and strengthening our COS connections.

Best regards,

dean signature

Hazel Sive PhD
Dean, College of Science
Northeastern University