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Northeastern University STEM students accelerate their professional development at the SASE National Conference

In October of 2023, the Northeastern Chapter of the Society of Asian Scientists and Engineers (SASE) attended the 2023 SASE National Conference in Atlanta, Georgia. The conference consisted of various workshops and panels led by industry leaders, networking opportunities, a hackathon, and a STEM career fair.  

Companies like the CIA, Proctor and Gamble, Boeing, and the U.S. Department of State were present at the conference and held workshops teaching skills like financial literacy, navigating conflict in the workplace, and creating a professional support network. Other SASE chapters from around the country, like the chapters from the University of Central Florida, Georgia Tech, and Ohio State University, also attended the conference. The members of SASE who attended the conference thought it gave them valuable insights on how to improve both their professional and interpersonal skills.  

One part of the conference that stood out to the attendees from the Northeastern SASE chapter was a workshop conducted by the CIA on how to craft an effective elevator pitch. During this panel, students created an elevator pitch about themselves and practiced delivering it by giving their pitch to five strangers. This workshop helped its participants improve their communication skills by teaching them how charisma can be used to produce an engaging interaction.  

Hear about the conference from a few members of the Northeastern Chapter of SASE below! 

Emilina Tran, third-year mechanical engineering major 

My first day at the conference consisted mainly of workshops and networking opportunities. The first workshop I attended was hosted by the CIA and revolved around elevator pitches. We were tasked with creating a 30- second overview of ourselves, describing our goals, hobbies, interests, etc. , then finding 5 people from other SASE chapters to practice with. This alleviated my initial fear of putting myself out there and allowed me to learn a lot about other members, as well as myself. Later on in the conference, I would use the same tips from the workshop to introduce myself to new people, and I found myself getting more confident after each interaction. 

Thanks to these newfound skills, I was able to connect with multiple other SASE chapters, such as Princeton, UT Austin, Colorado School of Mines, Georgia Tech, Louisiana State University, Arizona State University, and the University of Alabama. I was also able to interview with Procter and Gamble, a company that I’d had at the top of my list for co-op locations. 

Khushi Khan, second-year computer science major and SASE Programs Chair 

Not only was our professional development supported, but our cultures were celebrated as well. The good, events, and freebies were all related to Asian cultures in some way, showing us the ways in which our professional development can be uplifted alongside our cultural heritage.  

The conference not only broadened my understanding of what the professional world has to offer, but also encouraged me to take pride in my culture after seeing people who looked like me working at my dream companies. 

Esther Ho, second-year computer science and business major and SASE Pan Asian American Council Representative 

One of the most rewarding aspects of my experience at the National Conference was the chance to bond with my fellow members from our university’s chapter. Our teamwork and shared commitment to personal and professional growth created a strong sense of empowerment. We 

approached professionals, recruiters, and other SASE chapters, using our collective knowledge and support to make the most of the networking opportunities. We would go up to booths and representatives together to take out some of the initial fears of approaching a professional. This collaborative effort not only expanded our individual networks but also highlighted the strength and unity of our chapter. The connections and shared experiences we shared will definitely serve as a solid foundation for our future endeavors, both individually and as a chapter in the SASE and Northeastern community. I’m incredibly grateful for the opportunity to be part of such a supportive and driven group, and I’m excited to see how we continue to grow and make a mark in the years to come. 

Alina Gonzalez, second-year data science major 

SASE members stand in front of a statue at the SASE National Conference.

I was able to network with many other Filipino professionals who shared their experiences and offered me resume critiques which built my confidence as a Filipino myself. I think sharing experiences is critical at this time of my life as I don’t really know what to expect. There is only so much you can learn from in classes, so I strongly believe that being able to connect with these professionals aided me greatly in terms of strengthening my professional development. From interacting with so many different people, I was able to strengthen my elevator pitch and introductions. I also got to see a wide range of resumes, and I now know what projects or courses I should align myself with to better prepare myself for job searching or co-op searching. 

I-Ting Lo, fourth-year behavioral neuroscience major 

The workshops and panels I attended at the National Conference significantly contributed to my personal growth and development. These sessions offered invaluable insights and practical skills that have enhanced my understanding of various aspects of personal and professional life. For instance, the elevator pitch workshop, presented by the CIA, redefined my perception of effective communication by emphasizing the importance of charisma and character in making memorable impressions. This lesson goes beyond presenting facts and highlights the significance of creating genuine connections in brief interactions. Additionally, the CIA resume review session was instrumental in improving my professional qualifications. Feedback from recruiters and their guidance on strengthening my resume not only improved my resume but also led me to seek more personal experience to further boost my credentials. 

Furthermore, the panels on win-win negotiations and Mastering Financial Literacy provided concrete strategies for conflict resolution and responsible financial planning. The win-win negotiations panel equipped me with practical negotiation skills, including step-by-step approaches and email communication strategies for workplace conflicts. The insights gained from the Mastering Financial Literacy panel, particularly regarding responsible tax payment and the FIRE Movement, have reshaped my financial planning and underscored the importance of hard work in achieving realistic financial goals. The workshop on making a company work for you instilled in me the significance of resource utilization. It taught me to proactively seek support and resources within a company, fostering professional honesty and an emphasis on problem-solving. Overall, the workshops and panels have played a pivotal role in my personal growth by providing practical skills and a fresh perspective on effective communication, career development, financial literacy, and resource utilization, which have undoubtedly left a lasting impact on my personal and professional journey. 

Alexander Wang, first-year biology and data science major 

The CIA and FBI both had the slogan “we’re hiring just about anything you could think of”, which, upon inquiry, I learned that the CIA had ongoing biology-related research aligned with my intersection of that and data science – intended for furthering reconnaissance and intelligence analysis. The FBI also had similar opportunities – it is truly intriguing to see governmental agencies, which supposedly only focus on forensics/crime scene investigations, are offering activities such as these. Having attended resume review sessions hosted by prominent companies that were also present at the career fair, attending this conference has allowed me to capitalize on my current strengths and strategically mend my weaknesses. 

Overall, members of SASE considered this conference to be a success! The Northeastern chapter of SASE wants to extend their gratitude to the Northeastern College of Science for their ongoing commitment to the student organization.  

Next year, the SASE National Conference is going to be held in Boston, and Northeastern SASE is looking forward to participating in the event.  

November 29, 2023

Why “All I Want for Christmas is You” is still popular 30 years later

Some people begin playing Christmas music the moment the clock strikes 12 on Dec. 1 (or on Nov. 1 if they’re really spirited). Usually included on that playlist? Mariah Carey’s “All I Want for Christmas is You.”

It’s been nearly 30 years since the elusive chanteuse released her Christmas hit. Since then, it’s become a holiday staple, topping the Billboard charts each holiday season and resulting with fans dubbing Carey “The Queen of Christmas.”

But what’s made this tune particularly synonymous with this time of year? A mix of things, including pure old nostalgia, says Psyche Loui, an associate professor of music and psychology at Northeastern University.

Read more from Northeastern Global News.

Photo by Kevin Mazur/Getty Images for MC

November 28, 2023

Chakraborty awarded with $1.99 Million NIH Grant to Revolutionize glycoprotein Understanding and Biomaterial Design

Chemistry and Chemical Engineering Assistant Professor Srirupa Chakraborty has secured a substantial $1.99 million grant from the National Institutes of Health (NIH) for a breakthrough project aimed at transforming our understanding of mucin related diseases and paving the way for innovative biomaterials. This five-year grant, known as the NIH R35 MIRA is awarded to young faculty members who demonstrate exceptional promise, as part of NIH’s Next Generation Researchers Initiative.Mucins, which are densely glycosylated proteins, are central players in numerous biological processes, disease conditions, and potential therapies. These “sugar-coated molecular machines” are notoriously difficult to study due to their intricate structural dynamics. Understanding mucins’ role in diseases such as cystic fibrosis, mucosal inflammation, lung and GI infection, and mucin-mediated cancers has been a challenging task.Professor Chakraborty’s research seeks to revolutionize the field. Harnessing the high performance computing capabilities at Northeastern, her team is pioneering innovative computational tools to model densely glycosylated systems. These tools are set to provide robust alternatives to costly and resource-intensive experimental studies, unlocking a world of new possibilities.

Headshot of professor Srirupa Chakraborty.Professor Chakraborty and her team aim to enhance existing glycan modeling tools and develop new in silico techniques to understand the intricate structural dynamics of glycoproteins, particularly mucins. Using their cutting-edge computational tools, the researchers will build interconnected mucin glycoprotein gel systems that mimic the natural glycosylation patterns. This will offer profound insights into the physical properties of mucins and how they function. The research project will employ a range of approaches, including atomistic modeling, coarse-grained methods, and data-driven machine learning to study mucin networks at different scales.Inspired by mucosal gels, Professor Chakraborty and her team will use their computational tools to design novel mucin-like nanomaterials constructed from glycan-peptide heteropolymer networks. These materials hold the promise of being customized for various biomedical applications. The research aims to optimize a machine learning-driven method for arranging glycans in polymers, much like building with molecular “LEGO” blocks, offering enhanced control over material properties.This research not only promises to deepen our understanding of mucins and their vital role in health and disease but also opens the door to a wide range of innovative, mucin-inspired biomaterials with potential applications in various fields of biomedicine. The NIH’s generous grant acknowledges Professor Srirupa Chakraborty’s exceptional promise as an Early-Stage Investigator and represents a significant step forward in promoting the growth, stability, and diversity of the biomedical research workforce.This transformative research has the potential to revolutionize disease understanding and pave the way for cutting-edge biomaterials, ushering in a new era of possibilities in the field of biomedicine. Stay tuned for more updates on this exciting scientific journey!

Members of the Chakraborty lab work together around a table.

November 28, 2023

Climate modelers can’t agree on the Mississippi River’s future. Northeastern professor Samuel Muñoz is settling the debate.

The Mississippi River, an ecological, cultural and economic hub of activity, is dangerously misunderstood — at least, by climate modelers. The river supplies drinking water for more than 50 cities and 15 million people, and it supports almost 40% of the bird and fish species in North America. And yet, we still don’t know whether in the coming decades it will flood into surrounding land or shrink down to a dry shadow of its former self. That’s because, among the three global climate models that can actually simulate the Mississippi River’s water level, there is stark disagreement.

“We’re at a point in terms of uncertainty where the models don’t even agree on the trend, let alone the magnitude,” says Samuel Muñoz, Associate Professor at Northeastern in the Coastal Sustainability Institute, Department of Marine & Environmental Sciences and Department of Civil & Environmental Engineering. Muñoz’s research team tests which models are most likely to accurately predict the river by looking at the models’ track records.

Read more from Northeastern University Research.

November 21, 2023

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