The last thing Mark Patterson hears before his underwater robot embarks on a mission is a recording of his eldest child’s voice: “Glug, glug, glug! I’m going on a dive!”
Once the robot’s antenna slips below the surface, the expedition is no longer in Patterson’s control. “I program the mission, but it’s up to the robot to make good choices,” says Patterson, professor of marine and environmental sciences at Northeastern.
After a day’s work collecting information about a specific ocean ecosystem, the robot equipped with sensors and cameras, returns to shore, announced by Patterson’s youngest child in 5-year-old soprano: “I’m back on the surface!”
“I love when the robot comes home. I love hearing my kids’ voices,” he says.
Patterson developed Fetch, the autonomous underwater robot, in 1998 as a means to compile data about the ocean more efficiently than human divers. “You get a lot of bang for your buck with these robots,” he says. “You send them out for the day, and they come back with a huge pile of data. It’s exciting.”
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The Awards recognize and reward outstanding NU College of Science faculty for excellence in teaching. These teaching awards were established to confer honor upon individuals whose inspiration and contributions to student learning are truly significant. The award is presented annually. Each awardee receives a certificate and $1000. Up to three faculty may be selected each year.
Eligibility: All full-time faculty members in the College of Science are eligible. Nominees must have completed at least three consecutive years of teaching experience in the Northeastern University College of Science prior to nomination. Eligible faculty must have taught at least two different classroom, laboratory, seminar, or on-line/hybrid courses during the past two years. All candidates are expected to have taught within the calendar year preceding nomination. Faculty may be nominated on the basis of graduate teaching, but their qualifying experience must include undergraduate teaching. While research supervision of individual students may be cited in support of a candidate, nominations should be based primarily on class instruction.
Qualifications: All candidates must have:
- Demonstrated success as a teacher by combining competence in subject matter with an ability to inspire students to higher levels of scholarship;
- Improved the tools of and/or conditions for teaching (e.g., the development of courses, curricula and/or laboratories, application of innovative teaching strategies and/or assessment, fostering an inclusive learning environment);
- Consistently demonstrated teaching effectiveness that exceeds the normal expectation for a faculty member.
Scientists have come up with a new way to get vaccinated against the coronavirus that causes COVID-19, and it comes with a twist: No needles needed.
This vaccine would instead be aerosolized so it could be inhaled by a patient.
Researchers have tested this vaccination strategy in mice, and it elicited a strong immune response. A team led by researchers from Northeastern University, Rice University, and Rutgers University published a proof-of-concept study in the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciencesthis week. The project is still in early stages, but the team sees the vaccine they’re developing as a way to expand the reach of COVID-19 vaccines around the world.
“If we can have this new tool, that would be great. It’s easy to produce, easy to ship, easy to administer,” says Paul Whitford, associate professor of physics at Northeastern and an author on the new paper. Such an inhalable COVID-19 vaccine wouldn’t require the precise refrigeration of existing inoculations, and could be dispersed more easily to rural and remote communities. “You just need basic instructions on how to use an inhaler.”
It is a problem of refrigeration. Almost half of the pharmaceuticals sold in the United States are biologics that must be kept at a specific temperature.
Millions of people worry about properly maintaining their prescription drugs, says Theodora Christopher, who came up with a potentially affordable and reliable solution during an honors seminar at Northeastern. She and Anastasia Mavridis are leading a new venture, SaluTemp, to develop a temperature-sensing device that will provide patients with alerts as well as drug facts, enabling them to safely store and use their medications
“She had a flare-up [of her illness] and it was awful,” says Christopher, who is studying biology. Christopher became aware of the issue of drug storage during a 2018 Dialogue of Civilizations visit to Britain when a classmate fell ill after her medication had been exposed during a power outage.
Christopher recalled that incident two years later at a Northeastern seminar, Entrepreneurship in Health Sciences. She and classmate Benjamin Dottinger created a Shark Tank-style presentation for a theoretical healthcare product that would help people take care of their medications.
“Initially, we didn’t think anything of it,” says Christopher. Then the judges urged them to pursue their idea. “So we started looking for avenues to make it real.”