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Can reefs be designed for immunity? Genetic research is identifying disease-resistant super corals in the Caribbean

Witnessing disease outbreaks that have nearly annihilated staghorn coral colonies in the Caribbean, Northeastern scientist Steven Vollmer wondered what lessons a few lone survivors might offer for the future of coral reefs.

Would it be possible to identify disease-resistant corals by their genetic makeup?

And if the hardier types were specially selected for underwater coral nurseries, would the result be healthier reef systems?

Vollmer’s new research answers the first question in the affirmative.

Read more from Northeastern Global News.

Photo by Matthew Modooono/Northeastern University

September 28, 2023

Cross-country trek in electric vehicle tests the limits of charging network, finds faces tackling climate change along the way

When Northeastern graduate and TV show host Sophie Shrand decided she was going to make a documentary about taking a cross-country trip in an electric vehicle, she knew she needed to do more than just travel from Point A to Point B.

Along the journey, it was important for her to meet some of the many individuals working to make transportation more sustainable, she says.

Starting from her home in Los Angeles on Sept. 7, she traveled across the country’s heartland to New York City in 13 days. The trip certainly has had its challenges, but she made some memorable experiences along the way.

“I went horseback riding with cowboys in Bryce Canyon, Utah. We met people working in a library in a tiny little town in Kansas that have started a STEAM (science, technology, engineering, art and math) program. We’ve met students in Ohio who are building electric motorcycles,” she says.

And she’s not done yet.

Read more from Northeastern Global News.

Photo by Brendan Mulhern

September 28, 2023

Q&A with Alicia Bustamante, MS Environmental Science and Policy

What’s your name, the program you are currently receiving your master’s in, and your expected graduation? 

I am Alicia Bustamante, and I am currently pursuing a Master of Science degree in Environmental Science and Policy, with an anticipated completion date of December 2023.

What is your favorite part about being in the master’s program at Northeastern? 

I really appreciate the adaptability of my master’s program and the freedom it gives me to customize my degree based on my specific interests and the courses I find most compelling. Additionally, residing in Boston is a fantastic opportunity as it’s a dynamic city that offers numerous networking events where I can forge connections that will benefit my professional growth.

Which has been your favorite co-ops/internships and why? 

My time at Palmer Capital during my renewable energy co-op was a truly remarkable opportunity. I acquired extensive knowledge about the industry and its unique challenges. I consider myself fortunate to have gained this valuable experience with Palmer Capital, as it allowed me to attend various events, visit their projects, and even have the thrilling experience of climbing a turbine. This immersive experience not only deepened my understanding of the field but also helped me identify a sector that I hope to explore further in my future endeavors.

What drew you to complete your master’s degree at Northeastern? 

The opportunity for a co-op experience played a significant role in my decision to select Northeastern University, alongside its renowned reputation and the expertise of its faculty. Furthermore, the allure of Boston, recognized as one of the most intellectually vibrant cities in the United States, was another crucial factor that influenced my choice to pursue my studies here.

What are you currently researching? 

Under the guidance of Professor Laura Kuhl, I recently undertook a directed study focused on examining the existing energy equity initiatives and policies in Chelsea and East Boston. Through my research, I aimed to identify ways to enhance the current state of these communities. It became evident that these areas face significant challenges related to energy burdens, which disproportionately impact low-income individuals and people of color. By viewing the energy burden from a perspective of injustice, we can observe the profound inequalities stemming from income disparities, energy costs, and inefficiencies in housing. As a result, I proposed policy suggestions to address these disparities and promote a more equitable energy landscape in these communities.

What are your plans for the summer/fall semester?  

I am thrilled to maintain my dedication to researching and expanding my knowledge in the field of energy equity. In the upcoming fall semester, I have planned to enroll in my final two classes. One of these courses will be a directed study that centers on utilizing ArcGIS to tackle energy equity concerns, specifically in Chelsea. Additionally, I will be taking a class called Energy Democracy and Climate Resilience: Technology, Policy & Social Change. As for the summer, I am excited to continue my on-campus job supporting the Community-Engaged Teaching and Research office at Northeastern. Moreover, I look forward to exploring the captivating city of Boston and its surrounding areas during this time.

Piece of advice for new student

To my fellow international students, I recommend staying persistent, conducting extensive research on post-graduation prospects, and actively engaging in networking activities. Boston offers numerous opportunities to build valuable connections. For those interested in renewable energy, I suggest following YPE Boston (Young Professionals in Energy), as they organize multiple networking events and mentorship programs. Additionally, be open to meeting new people and embracing the thrilling experience of adapting to a new culture.

September 27, 2023

Rock and dust from asteroid Bennu offers unprecedented opportunity to study origins of the solar system, cosmologist says

The recovery of 8.8 ounces of rock and dust from the asteroid Bennu on Sunday is a scientific game changer, says Northeastern physics professor and cosmologist Jacqueline McCleary.

She says researchers now have evidence from the formation of the solar system literally at their fingertips.

“The thing that’s most exciting to me is scientists getting to touch the material,” says McCleary. She says astrophysicists typically use images from powerful telescopes to study everything from the formation of the solar system to galaxy clusters and the nature of dark matter.

“As an astronomer, I ask, ‘What can these pixels tell me? What can these pictures tell me?’ so I can extrapolate backwards.”

Read more from Northeastern Global News.

Photo by NASA/Keegan Barber

September 26, 2023

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