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News

Celebrating our 2022 graduates

The College of Science celebrated the Class of 2022 throughout the week of May 9!

The Doctor of Philosophy Hooding and Graduation Ceremony was held on May 9 at Matthews Arena. David Madigan, Provost and Senior Vice President for Academic Affairs, presided over the event, and Andrew S. Plump, President, Research & Development, Takeda Pharmaceutical, was the graduation speaker.

College of Science degrees were conferred in biology, chemistry, ecology, evolution, and marine biology, marine and environmental sciences, mathematics, network science, physics, and psychology.

The complete ceremony can be watched here. (Note, the ceremony can be accessed via the video player “Class of 2022 Celebrations.” The video is located at number 15 of 16 slots. Access the video by clicking the top right-hand button in the video player called “event posts” and scroll through videos.)

The complete ceremony program can be found here.

Highlights from the ceremony can be viewed on our Instagram account here!

The College of Science Graduation Celebration was held on May 10 at Matthews Arena. Dean Hazel Sive presided over the event and delivered the celebration address. Her full remarks can be read here. The guest speaker was Reshma Shetty, Co-founder, Chief Operating Officer, and President of Ginkgo Bioworks.

Look back at the celebration below!

Adwoa Sefah shared her Northeastern experience during graduation week on Instagram. Look back at her takeover here! She also shared scenes from the Graduation Celebration, which can be watched here.

Rujuta Kshirsagar, a graduate student who graduated with a Master of Science in Bioinformatics,  also shared her Northeastern experience with our community on Instagram. Look back at her takeover here!

A short recap reel featuring various photos of graduations and celebration moments can be viewed here!

Northeastern Undergraduate and Graduate Commencement Ceremonies were held at Fenway Park on May 13. Recordings of these ceremonies can be viewed here!

Sefah was also the undergraduate student speaker at the 2022 Undergraduate Commencement ceremony. Watch her full remarks below.

“I am so proud of each one of you! Hold tight to your Northeastern degree that will open doors forever. Hold tight to your connection with the Power of Science,” said Dean Sive in her closing College of Science Graduation Celebration remarks. “Walk forward with your new shoes as you decide where to put your wonderful talent and time. Forever you and your families are part of Northeastern. Congratulations, and please enjoy this wonderful time of celebration!”

May 24, 2022
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Experts weigh-in: is Monkeypox the next COVID-19? Here’s what we know.

On the heels of the COVID-19 pandemic, public health experts are racing to understand the unexpected spread of monkeypox to Massachusetts.

State officials have been collaborating with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) to investigate the first monkeypox case known to reach the United States this year. Its carrier, a man who had recently visited Canada, has been isolated in a Boston hospital since May 12. The CDC on Wednesday confirmed that he was infected with the less-severe West African strain of the virus.

Cases were being investigated in Canada, Australia, and eight European countries.

More than two years of COVID-19 have conditioned people to brace for the next global health crisis. But Northeastern experts say it is wildly premature to compare this relatively small outbreak to the pandemic that has claimed more than 6 million lives.

“We’ve had outbreaks of monkeypox in the past, most recently in 2003,” says Brandon Dionne, an associate clinical professor in Northeastern’s department of pharmacy and health systems sciences, in reference to a U.S. outbreak of more than 70 cases two decades ago. “Its transmission is much, much lower than it is with COVID. So it’s something that you can be aware of, but it’s not something to panic about at this point.”

If cases of monkeypox escalate to create a greater level of concern, then the experts note that its symptoms will be more noticeable and the virus will be more treatable than SARS-CoV-2, the coronavirus that causes COVID-19—especially in the early stages of the pandemic.

“I would characterize the dispersion of cases as pretty confusing in the sense that the situation is evolving hour by hour,” says Alessandro Vespignani, director of the Network Science Institute and Sternberg Family Distinguished Professor at Northeastern. “The outbreak is quite sizable, and obviously we need to understand what’s going on.”

Read more on [email protected]

Photo by Cynthia S. Goldsmith, Russell Regner/CDC via AP.

May 23, 2022

How do you know not to laugh at a funeral? This region of the brain is key.

Phineas Gage didn’t die when explosive powder detonated and threw a 43-inch tamping iron through his left cheek, which went into his brain and out the top of his skull.

The railroad worker did lose vision in his left eye. But otherwise, he was functional, with full intellectual, cognitive, and motor capabilities intact up until his death 12 years later, in 1860.

What friends and family noticed, though, was how his personality changed—especially his emotions and behavior, according to The Smithsonian. Friends noted that he was “no longer Gage,” and his doctor wrote that he swore a lot and had “little deference for his fellows.” He eventually lost his job as a foreman.

Why did the injury impact Gage’s personality so strongly? New research from Northeastern neuroscientists may help us better understand him—and ourselves as well.

In a study published in Social Cognitive and Affective Neuroscience, assistant professor of psychology Ajay Satpute suggests that the anterior portion of the prefrontal cortex—the portion of the brain where Gage was injured—is important in ​​evaluating one’s emotions and, ultimately, regulating them.

It may be hard to wrap your mind around the idea that we have thoughts and feelings about our feelings, but according to Satpute “we place judgments on emotions all the time.” You can, for example, feel sadness, and feel that it’s unpleasant to be sad. You can also think that it’s good to feel sad, like, for example, during a sad movie.

Some emotions can come with this built-in contradiction: They can be pleasant but wrong, or they can be unpleasant but desirable. This is the difference between hedonic—or, how good an emotion feels—and evaluative—whether emotions are good or bad—emotional judgments. The evaluative component, the study notes, is influenced by social factors; for example, it is “wrong” to feel happy at a funeral, even if it feels good to be happy.

Read more on [email protected]

Photo by Matthew Modoono/Northeastern University.

May 20, 2022

These identical twins launched research careers- as freshmen

Three days after he started as an N.U.in freshman in Greece last fall, Dillon Nishigaya approached a biology professor about research opportunities. One day later, he was contributing to a breast cancer project.

His identical twin, Dominic Nishigaya, has also been pursuing research as a Northeastern freshman in criminal justice. They are roommates on the Boston campus, supporting and pushing each other per their special relationship.

“It was a revelation for me that I would be getting involved in these things so soon,” says Dillon Nishigaya, who participated in ovarian cancer research after arriving at the Boston campus for spring semester.

He recently received a $1,500 Northeastern PEAK Ascent Award to continue his research this summer.

Dillon is especially driven by his own personal experience with medicine. He grew up with scoliosis, a curvature of the spine (an affliction that spared his brother), and at age 15 he decided to undergo a difficult surgical procedure.

“A lot of the time, when he’s having a hard time, I feel that,” Dominic says. “Back when we were younger, when he used to cry, I used to cry—just because he was crying. I definitely felt like I wished it was me in that chair going through that surgery.”

In his first game of club soccer after the surgery, Dillon scored two goals alongside his brother.

“My life has completely changed,” Dillon says. “I was able to walk straight. My performance has increased. My back doesn’t hurt and it’s amazing—I have two rods and 18 screws in my spine.”

One and a half years after the surgery, Dillon realized the pain was gone. His experiences inspired him to major in biology as a pre-med student with the goal of becoming a surgeon or pediatrician in order to help others as he has been helped.

“Ever since then, I’ve said I want to do that for other people,” Dillon says. “It definitely empowered me to get into the medical field, to do research, and to maybe one day become a doctor.”

He says Northeastern was the obvious choice for him and his brother, who are from San Jose, California.

“We always wanted to push each other,” Dillon says. “We’re best friends, and we just love trying to build ourselves and helping each other along that journey.”

Read more on [email protected]

Photo by Alyssa Stone/Northeastern University.

May 20, 2022

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