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Northeastern student researches dolphin behavior for a Greek marine conservation nonprofit during Mediterranean Sea co-op

Whether it was kayaking to small inlets in the northeastern part of the Mediterranean Sea or spending overnight on a boat all in the pursuit of tracking the local dolphin population, Northeastern University marine biology major Francesca Russell was living — and working — the dream.

Russell, now a fourth-year student, spent last spring on co-op with Archipelagos Institute of Marine Conservation, a nonprofit based in Agios Konstantinos, Greece, dedicated to research and conservation in the northeastern part of the Mediterranean Sea. Her work was focused specifically on the local dolphin population.

“That was honestly perfect for me,” Russell said. “I want to get into specifically marine mammals, so having them assign me to the marine mammal team was a dream come true.”

Russell’s home base was the Greek town where the organization is headquartered (she bunked in a house by the port with other people working for the organization). She spent part of her time in Greece out on the water tracking the dolphin population.

Read more from Northeastern Global News

Courtesy photo from Francesca Russell

April 11, 2024

Six undergraduate scientists travel to a national meeting in San Antonio to present their research

Howdy! Y’all ever seen huskies swap their snowshoes for cowboy boots?

In the heart of San Antonio, Texas, a vibrant cohort of scientists from Northeastern University’s College of Science rocked the American Society for Biochemistry and Molecular Biology’s #DiscoverBMB annual conference. Among them were undergraduates Guillermo Antunez Tierney, Linden Burack, Migue Darcera, Soumili Dey, Diana Turrieta, Jill Zerkowski, graduate student Nicole Cavanaugh, and faculty members Mary Jo Ondrechen and Jing-Ke Weng. Together, they unveiled their cutting-edge research, showcasing Northeastern’s commitment to innovation and excellence in the field of biochemistry and molecular biology. Professor Kirsten Fertuck, the Biochemistry Director and ASBMB Chapter faculty advisor, was involved with trip logistics and planning, as well as arranging an NU group dinner during the conference.

Third-year undergraduates and above were able to participate in the Undergraduate Poster Competition held on Saturday, March 23. Out of nearly 300 posters, Diana Turrieta (right) and Guillermo Antunez Tierney (left), both third-year biochemistry majors, were acknowledged with honorable mentions. Diana, who works in Professor Tovah Day’s lab, is researching the mechanisms of BAZ2B chromatin remodeling at G Quadruplex DNA. Guillermo, associated with Professor Veronica Godoy-Carter’s lab, showcased his investigation on regulating biofilm deficiency in Lon protease-mutant Acinetobacter baumannii.

The remaining undergraduates presented their work on a wide array of topics. Linden Burack, a student in Professor Michele Di Pierro’s lab, presented on informing models of in-silico DNA digestion. Soumili Dey, associated with Professor Godoy-Carter’s lab, presented on the mechanism of DNA-damage induced recA regulation in Acinetobacter baumannii. Migue Darcera, a student in Professor Yunrong Chai’s lab, presented a novel function of an anionic polymer in biofilm formation and development. Finally, Jill Zerkowski, who works in Dan Wilson’s lab (Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering), presented on optically and conformationally responsive hydrogels.

In addition to the undergraduate presentations, Professor Mary Jo Ondrechen shared insights from her lab’s Machine Learning methodology, Partial Order Optimum Likelihood (POOL), which predicts biochemically active amino acids within protein structures. During an interest group talk, graduate student Nicole Cavanaugh, under the mentorship of Professor Chai, showcased her research on Bacillus subtilis biofilm formation and its interaction with aminoglycoside antibiotics. Additionally, Professor Jing-Ke Weng, the Inaugural Director of the Institute for Plant-Human Interface (IPHI), captivated the audience with his lab’s innovative work on medicinal synthetic biology, harnessing the power of plant-specialized metabolism.

Aside from the presentations, ASBMB organized various workshops, networking events, and talks focusing on professional development and recent advancements in biomedical research. A women’s networking dinner featured a panel discussion led by women from various stages of scientific careers, emphasizing the concept of work-life integration over balance and fostering engaging conversations among attendees. Attendees also had the opportunity to delve into interest group topics such as novel mechanisms of mitochondria metabolism and microbial communication signaling. Scientific communication was also a prominent theme, offering attendees valuable insights into effective ways to disseminate their research findings.

Did you miss out on #DiscoverBMB this year? Fear not! Mark your calendars for #DiscoverBMB 2025, slated for April 12-15 in Chicago, IL. Students keen on presenting their research should connect with the Biochemistry Club ([email protected]) to stay updated on deadlines and details, typically announced in September. Join us for another exciting opportunity to showcase your work and connect with fellow researchers in biochemistry and molecular biology!

See y’all there!

Photos provided by Kirsten Fertuck, Mary Jo Ondrechen, Diana Turrieta, Jill Zerkowski

April 10, 2024

Science and religion can get along, says former director of the National Institutes of Health

Science and religion are typically thought to be at odds with one another, but Francis Collins doesn’t see it that way.

The former director of both the National Institutes of Health and National Human Genome Research Institute, Collins is also a man of devout faith. Looking at the distrust and increasingly fractious divide between scientific and religious communities in the U.S., Collins believes there’s actually more both groups could learn from each other.

“I have not in my 40 some years as a Christian and somebody who, I hope, has practiced pretty rigorous science ever really seen a circumstance where what one is teaching is in conflict with the other,” Collins recently said at a live recording of the “How God Works” podcast at Northeastern University’s EXP research complex. “So then why should we not be overlapping?”

Read more from Northeastern Global News

Photo by Matthew Modoono

April 09, 2024

16 Easy Ways to Support the College of Science This Giving Day

Prepare for 24 hours of excitement and philanthropy at Northeastern University’s Giving Day—an event dedicated to rallying alumni, parents, students, faculty, staff, and friends in support of the university and the College of Science. This year marks the 7th annual celebration of Giving Day at Northeastern. 

What sets this day apart? Giving Day is a moment for the entire community to come together, showing their solidarity and pride in supporting the university’s mission. When you contribute on Giving Day, your donation goes even further, amplifying its impact as it unlocks additional contributions from generous benefactors through our timed challenges. Witness the progress unfold in real-time on our website.  

When does Giving Day occur? Mark your calendars for Thursday, April 11. While most challenges and leaderboards will be activated on the day itself, you can participate in the Early Access giving period by making your donation now. If your schedule is packed on April 11, don’t worry—your contribution made beforehand will still count towards our Giving Day totals. 

Get a jumpstart on Giving Day with 16 ways that you can help support the College of Science!

The Advancing Women in Science Scholarship supports the endeavors of recipients, which in the past included working at an animal medical center or doing research on circadian rhythm biology. 

The Barnett Institute Anniversary Fund supports the general use and needs of the Barnett Institute. 

The Behavioral Neuroscience Program Fund supports student attendance at key industry conferences, including the Society for Neuroscience Annual Meeting and the Society for Affective Science Annual Meeting, as well as provides grants for student research projects. 

The Biochemistry Program Fund supports the priorities of the program, including faculty-mentored research, helping our students travel to present their work at the American Society for Biochemistry and Molecular Biology Annual Meeting (ASBMB), and access to cutting-edge technology. 

The COS Dean’s Fund helps support the existing and emerging priorities of the College of Science as articulated by the Dean. Currently, this fund promotes leadership in areas like diversity and inclusion, science entrepreneurship programs development, and access to global experiences. Learn how this fund is supporting valuable undergraduate research in London this summer. 

The COS Dean’s Scholarship the recipients of this scholarship will be selected by the Dean of the College of Science (or his or her designees). The Dean will determine the scholarship requirements to help recruit and retention students. 

The COS Co-op Support Fund benefits students who are working in non-paying or low-paying co-op positions by providing stipends, airfare and other travel costs, housing costs, and/or other expenses directly related to their participation. 

The COS Research Co-op Fund provides stipends for students who work in a non-paying or low-paying co-op in a College of Science faculty member’s laboratory and are engaged in scientific research. 

The COS Equity Action Program Fund provides student support such as tuition assistance, co-op support, undergraduate research, sponsorship, conference attendance, and other educational and career development opportunities. 

The Ocean Genome Legacy Endowed Fund supports the Ocean Genome Legacy which is a biorepository dedicated to creating a global biobank housing the DNA blueprints (genomes) of a broad cross-section of marine species. Our aim is to preserve and provide access to this global genomic legacy, to support understanding and protection of our planet’s greatest ecosystem. 


College of Science Department Funds support the departments’ priorities — providing undergraduate and graduate students with valuable education and research opportunities alongside renowned faculty, conference participation and travel costs, and access to cutting-edge technology and lab equipment. 


When you choose to support the College of Science, you’re delivering an experiential education and developing the next generation of scientific leaders and their research. 

Thank you! 


Learn more about the College of Science Funds and this year’s challenges.   

April 08, 2024

More Questions? Contact our Academic Departments