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#YouAreWelcomeHere – A Safe Space For All

“The College of Science celebrates the diversity of our community, and we are committed to promoting a culture of respect and belonging. We honor the irreplaceable past and present contributions of our transgender colleagues to science, and we stand in solidarity with them to oppose hate and discrimination,” says Randall Hughes, associate dean of equity and marine and environmental sciences professor.

March 31 is Transgender Day of Visibility. To honor this day, three members of the #YouAreWelcomeHere Campaign at Northeastern, Tara Duffy, PhD (she/her), associate teaching professor and faculty head of the Three Seas Program, Dylan Titmuss (they/them), a queer and trans researcher at the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution, and Savannah Swinea (she/her/hers), a marine and environmental sciences PhD student, gave us an exclusive look at the initiative that displays acceptance and support for LGBTQIA+ members of the Marine and Environmental Sciences community.

What is the You Are Welcome Here campaign?

Savannah (she/her/hers): The You Are Welcome Here (YAWH) campaign is an initiative to display acceptance and support for LGBTQIA+ members of the Marine and Environmental Sciences (MES)  community.  Dr. Katie Castagno brought YAWH to Northeastern in 2020 after drawing inspiration from MIT’s initiative of the same name. Since her departure, Dr. Torrance Hanley, Dylan Titmuss, and myself have run the initiative.  The campaign started with a simple aim to identify safe spaces within departmental labs, offices, and classes for everyone to exist and thrive.

How can students and faculty get involved in the campaign?

Savannah (she/her/hers): We host an annual department-wide workshop designed to surface assumptions and privileges taken for granted, practice vocabulary, and immerse ourselves into real-life scenarios so we are prepared to protect ourselves and hold others accountable. 

Tara(she/her): We host a yearly workshop,  but folks can display the YAWH logo (we offer stickers and pins), which affirms their support and advocacy for and commitment to LGBTQIA+ members of our community.

Dylan (they/them): Along with creating stickers that department members can display to indicate their support, we’ve also held a series of workshops aiming to guide members of the department to develop the language and understanding they need to become active supporters of their LGBTQIA+ colleagues, students, and collaborators It’s been an encouraging and rewarding initiative to be involved in, and I hope other groups might be able to make use of similar approaches within their communities going forward!

In what ways does the program shape the participants and create an open and safe space for all?

Tara (she/her): This workshop involves discussions and activities designed to help LGBTQIA+ members of the MES community feel welcome and supported. It is a safe space for every community member to learn more about the LGBTQIA+ community and practice ways to best support colleagues and friends. We also hope it serves as a reminder that we are a supportive community where personal identities belong and enhance scientific practice.

Dylan (they/them): In my opinion, one of the greatest things the STEM community can do to foster an accepting environment is to develop a norm of explicitly supporting community members of all identities and encouraging—beyond just “allowing”—all community members to exist as and share their whole selves. In practice, that can look like modeling the inclusive behaviors and attitudes we want to cultivate, as well as speaking up in instances of prejudice or disrespect. We sometimes talk about the difference between “tolerance” and “acceptance” when it comes to building inclusive environments, and to me, a crucial piece of inclusivity-focused work lies in developing folks’ willingness and ability to provide outward support when needed – to stand up on behalf of LGBTQIA+ (or other historically marginalized) people, and in doing so, to alleviate some of the burdens they may feel.

The You Are Welcome Here campaign runs year-round and is always accepting people to join their community. To get involved, please reach out to Tara Duffy – [email protected]

In addition to the You Are Welcome Here campaign, additional resources can be found at, in their extensive guide for Trans, Non-Binary, Gender Diverse, and Two-Spirits students, and on their Instagram.

March 30, 2023

Is the US ready for another pandemic?

Is the US ready for another pandemic? Northeastern scientist testifies to the need for greater preparedness

Is the U.S. ready for another pandemic?

It’s a question members of Congress convened last week to tackle. And one of Northeastern’s own machine learning experts, Mauricio Santillana, a professor of physics and network science, was on Capitol Hill to help shed light on U.S. preparedness from the standpoint of how to levy big data to create better predictive models.

Santillana, who is part of Northeastern’s Machine Intelligence Group for the Betterment of Health and the Environment, testified last week before the Bipartisan Commission on Biodefense to help, among other things, “explore preparedness needs and efforts, new solutions to improve biosurveillance and data modernization,” the commission said.

Read more from Northeastern Global News 

Photo by Matthew Modoono/Northeastern University

March 27, 2023

Fungal disease pose as a threat to sick people in health care settings

Fungal disease that poses threat to sick people in health care settings likely to continue to spread, Northeastern biotechnology expert says

The alarming rise in cases of a fungal disease in health-care facilities will continue to pose a threat until an effective drug treatment can be developed, a Northeastern biotechnology expert says.

“If (Candida auris) is resistant to antifungal medications, it’s just going to continue to become more dominant,” says Jared Auclair, director of bionnovation in the Office of the Provost at Northeastern University.

Candida auris, also known as C. auris, is one of the newer fungal diseases known to health officials in the U.S., where it was first reported in 2016.

Read more from Northeastern Global News 

Photo by Nicolas Armer/ AP

March 27, 2023

How We Can All ‘Accelerate Change’ This World Water Day: Q&A with Professor James Dennedy-Frank

James Dennedy-Frank, associate professor of marine and environmental science and civil and environmental engineering James Dennedy-Frank, assistant professor of marine and environmental sciences and civil and environmental engineering, sat down to speak about World Water Day, which falls on March 22. Professor Dennedy-Frank leads the Water Resources Ecohydrology Lab at Northeastern — their work helps us understand the function of watersheds as they bring together meteorological forcing, geological settings, and ecological processes. They interact as a system and then feed into critical downstream water resources.


Q: What is World Water Day?

A: World Water Day has been set aside after the Rio 1992 UN meeting to highlight the importance of freshwater, particularly clean water, sanitation, and hygiene. All while raising awareness to try and improve this around the world.

Today, 2 billion people still lack access to clean drinking water, and 3.6 billion people lack safe sanitation, so that’s an important global issue that people should be aware of.

Q: What are some of the initiatives that have been inspired by World Water Day?

A: Every World Water Day has a theme, and there’s been a large variety of them. But one I would like to point out is ‘Women in Water.’ In many developing countries, women are the prominent people who must go and spend most of their lifespans getting water. By bringing attention to this issue, more initiatives have been created to help bring water resources closer to towns or villages to help reduce the load. Another theme was ‘Nature for Water,’ which enabled people to look closely at how to help with nature-based solutions.

This year’s theme is ‘Accelerating Change’ with the idea to push on Sustainable Development Goal 6, which is about ensuring everyone worldwide has access to clean water and sanitation by 2030. As you can see by those previous numbers I shared, we have a way to go in the next seven years to get us to where we need to be.

Q: How does World Water Day support places that do not have clean water, such as Flint, Michigan that suffers from lead in their water?

A: World Water Day is about raising our awareness, which is helpful because it’s a thing we take for granted. As we have water piped into our buildings, it’s a good time to step back and reflect on these challenges that can happen a state or two over.

Q: How is the Marine and Environmental Sciences (MES) team celebrating World Water Day?

A: The team in MES are doing a few things to celebrate World Water Day on social media. First, they highlight what they call “water heroes” on social media. A few weeks ago, they began the discussion of World Water Day during the Marine Science High School Symposium, where high school students could learn more about marine and environmental sciences and learn from local labs and centers that support the initiatives and values of World Water Day. And finally, next week, the Boston Harbor Ecosystem Network led by John Grabowski is having their spring Emporium about Belle Isle Marsh Reservation, which is in East Boston, and the essential water resources there.

Q: How can students (especially non-MES majors) get involved with MES?

A: We have courses that many students who are not MES are open to taking them. For example, I have many non-MES majors in my Water Resources course.

Co-op and summer internships are great ways to get involved. Our summer internship application closes this Friday, March 24, so interested students should consider applying. In addition, MES runs a seminar series that is open to all community members to help highlight the values of World Water Day.

Last week, I had the privilege of hosting my colleague, Max Berkellhammer, an expert on tree water use and the strategies vegetation uses to access water in different conditions.

Q: What is one thing we can all do to contribute to the values of World Water Day every day?

A: A lot of it is being aware of your water use. I want to highlight a few points: first, be aware of your direct water use – the most significant way people use water at home is landscaping, be thoughtful, and conserve where possible.

Think about your use of other resources; we do a lot of virtual water, which is embodied in the products we use and the food we eat.

Lastly, think about who you vote for. So many of the decisions are made at local and national scales, which can impact our reaching that goal of providing clean water and sanitization by 2030.

Q: Are there any on and off-campus initiatives people can participate in?

A: Just off-campus, the Back Bay Fens is undergoing a 90 million dollar restoration to help address flooding in the area, reduce contamination, and improve habitat. Muddy River — the river that flows through the Fens — helps tie it to World Water Day.

On campus, SEWERS (Students of Environmental and Water Resources Engineering Research & Sustainability) is a group whose goal is “to serve as an organizational vehicle for educational and social events for environmental graduate students, including student presentations, seminar guest presentations, outings/field trips, and networking with other universities.”

I would encourage folks to check both groups to see what they’re doing to improve our local and water environment.

March 21, 2023

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