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Research

Research is an essential part of a scientific degree. Our faculty collaborates with colleagues locally and abroad to tackle the global challenges facing health, security, and sustainability. Designated an R1 National Research University, our portfolio boasts $87M in funding from grants and industry partners.

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Behavioral Neuroscience
Biochemistry
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Marine and Environmental Sciences
Mathematics
Network Science Program
Physics
Psychology
30 Total Labs and Research Groups
Batischev Lab
Physics

Prof. Batishchev’s main research areas are Plasma Physics applications in fusion energy, laser-matter interaction, space, electric propulsion, and industry, and Computational Physics with focus on high-performance computing.

Faculty
Center for Complex Network Research (CCNR)
Biotechnology
Chemistry and Chemical Biology
Biology
Biochemistry
Physics

The Center’s objective is simple: think networks. Research focuses on how networks emerge/evolve, how they look, and how they impact our understanding of complex systems. CCNR’s research has developed to unexpected areas, including the topology of the World Wide Web; complex networks inside the cell, and the Internet’s Achilles’ Heel.

Center for Interdisciplinary Research on Complex Systems (CIRCS)
Physics
Chemistry and Chemical Biology
Biology

CIRCS fosters collaborations between researchers from different scientific and engineering disciplines who share a common interest in elucidating fundamental aspects of the structure and function of complex physical and biological systems across multiple levels of organization using a combination of quantitative state-of-the-art experimental and theoretical research tools. Faculty include: Williams and Stepanyants.

Center for STEM Education
Biology
Chemistry and Chemical Biology
Physics
Marine and Environmental Sciences

This university-wide center aspires to play a key role in shaping and implementing the K-20 STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics) Education strategy at Northeastern University, and to impact STEM teaching and learning at all levels, both locally and nationally.

Champion Lab
Physics
Biochemistry

The Champion lab studies the structure and dynamics of biomolecules using a variety of ultrafast laser-based techniques.

Faculty
Network Science Institute
The NSI works to discover and inspire fundamentally new ways to measure, model, predict and visualize meaningful interactions and interconnectivity of social, physical and technological systems.
Chemical Imaging of Living Systems Institute
The Institute developes imaging tools to highlight chemcial processes - enabling clinicians to better diagnose and treat disease.
Coastal Sustainability Institute at the Marine Science Center
The MSC's research topics relate to understanding how the projected impacts of climate change will affect marine habitants, and how urban communities along the coast can best prepare for these impacts.
The Barnett Institute of Chemical and Biological Analysis
The Institute was established in 1973 as a center for advanced interdisciplinary research in the chemical analysis sciences at Northeastern University, in the educational hub of Boston, Massachusetts. Today, with over 50 scientists and an $8 million endowment, the Institute is recognized internationally as one of the premier centers for cutting-edge research and advanced training in analytical chemistry for biomedical applications.
Affective Science Institute (ASI)
The ASI is a nexus for collaboration, training, and the exchange of ideas for researchers, clinicians, and other professionals in affective science in and around New England.
Antimicrobial Discovery Center
The Center translates basic discoveries into novel antimicrobial therapies to combat Biowarfare and conventional pathogen threats. The rise of multidrug resistant pathogens and the threat of genetically engineered bioweapons represent an urgent need for antimicrobial therapies. The Center is funded by grants from the NIH, NSF, and DOE.
Center for Cognitive and Brain Health
The Center investigates the effects of lifestyle choices and health behaviors (e.g., physical activity, diet) and their physiological sequelae (e.g., fitness, adiposity) on brain and cognition. From a neuroimaging perspective, the researchers’ interests lie in understanding how health influences brain and behavior as it relates to increased health and effective functioning for individuals across the lifespan.
The Center for Complex Network Research (CCNR)
The Center’s objective is simple: think networks. Research focuses on how networks emerge/evolve, how they look, and how they impact our understanding of complex systems. CCNR’s research has developed to unexpected areas, including the topology of the World Wide Web; complex networks inside the cell, and the Internet’s Achilles’ Heel.
Center for Drug Discovery
The Center for Drug Discovery is dedicated to the discovery of novel medications and the development of approaches and technologies aimed at improving the discovery of new therapeutic drugs. Faculty include: Raymond Booth, Sergiy Tyukhtenko and Jeff Agar
Center for Interdisciplinary Research on Complex Systems (CIRCS)
CIRCS fosters collaborations between researchers from different scientific and engineering disciplines who share a common interest in elucidating fundamental aspects of the structure and function of complex physical and biological systems across multiple levels of organization using a combination of quantitative state-of-the-art experimental and theoretical research tools. Faculty include: Williams and Stepanyants.
Marine Science Center
An internationally recognized research institution that focuses on the ocean environment, marine life and ecology, and discovering biotechnological and medical potentials in the sea. Projects include building underwater robots and creating genetically engineered seaweed to clean wastewater from agriculture facilities.
Massachusetts Green High Performance Computing Center
The Massachusetts Green High Performance Computing Center is providing a world-class computational infrastructure, indispensible in the increasingly sensor and data-rich environments of modern science and engineering discovery.
Northeastern University Center for Renewable Energy Technology
This center aims to be at the frontier of science and technology of clean energy conversion and storage. Faculty include: Sanjeev Mukerjee and Serge Pann
Center for STEM Education
This university-wide center aspires to play a key role in shaping and implementing the K-20 STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics) Education strategy at Northeastern University, and to impact STEM teaching and learning at all levels, both locally and nationally.
Center for Translational NeuroImaging
The Center for Translational NeuroImaging endeavors to provide services to the academic community interested in  animal modeling and drug testing to aid in the diagnosis and treatment of CNS diseases. The Center is also committed to training the next generation of imaging scientists to meet the needs of the pharmaceutical and biotechnology industries.
Biopharmaceutical Analysis Training Lab (BATL)
Directed by Dr. Jared Auclair, BATL is a state-of-the-art facility offering a unique hands-on training opportunity to the pharmaceutical industry in form of affordable, practical and comprehensive courses. Experienced faculty and staff provide in-depth knowledge applicable to the lab environment.
The Electronic Materials Research Institute (eMRI) 
The Electronic Materials Research Institute (eMRI) at Northeastern University has access to extensive facilities, unique laboratories, and special instrumentation for materials research in the areas of nanotechnology and biotechnology. Faculty include: Srinivas Sridhar, Don Heiman, Latika Menon, Paul Champion, Sergey Kravchenko, Nathan Israeloff, Mark Williams, Mary Jo Ondrechen, Sanjeev Mukerjee, Max Diem, Robert Hanson, Graham Jones David Budil, William Hancock, Patricia Mabrouk, Barry Karger and William Reiff
New England Inflammation and Tissue Protection Institute
This institute focuses on the role of tissue inflammation in fighting disease and infection, and the mechanisms that control tissue inflammation in the body. The Institute’s work has immediate implications for anti-cancer strategies and approaches to improved vaccines.

News

PhD Student Judene Thomas Biomedical Science Career Program HOPE Scholarship

Congratulations Judene Thomas, a second-year PhD student in the Department of Biology who has been named a recipient of the ‘20­–’21 Biomedical Science Career Program HOPE Scholarship from Harvard Medical School.

Originally from Kingston, Jamaica, Judene earned her degree in Biochemistry from Mount Holyoke College, where her senior honors thesis centered on the ultrasonic properties of human colon cancer cells. Following graduation, she continued her cancer studies at the Dana-Farber Cancer Institute investigating the pathology and physiology of red blood cells. Judene has continued pursuing her interests in studying cancer biology and has initiated studies at Northeastern with the goal of understanding the molecular interactions between classic tumor-suppressor proteins (e.g., p53) and mitochondrial function in the development and progression of ovarian cancer.

Judene is an outstanding young researcher and this prestigious award highlights her continued dedication to biomedical research. We have no doubt that Judene’s determination and passion for science will propel her to be a key thought leader in the biomedical field.

August 21, 2020

Here’s Why Northeastern Is Testing Everyone on the Boston Campus for the Coronavirus

As Northeastern welcomes students back to campus this fall, the university is conducting frequent testing of all students, faculty, staff, and contract workers to help control the spread of SARS CoV-2, the coronavirus that causes COVID-19.

That massive operation, which began on Monday and has already tested more than 2,500 people, will be a crucial surveillance tool to monitor the health of everyone at Northeastern. With some exceptions, most students will need to get re-tested every five days. Faculty, staff, and contract workers will be tested on a seven-day cycle. By Aug. 29, when students start to move back to campus, the university expects to be able to test 5,000 people a day.

By screening everyone regularly and rapidly, Northeastern’s testing operation will be able to identify cases even before a person shows symptoms of being sick.

Read the full story here

August 20, 2020

Hybrid Nuflex Is Ready for the Fall Semester. Are You?

Eight cupcake-shaped microphones extend from the ceiling like futuristic stalactites. Two swiveling cameras flank the clock at the front of the room, taking aim at the rows of desks. A single camera at the back focuses its lens on the instructor, blackboard, and projection screen.

Northeastern’s classrooms are ready for hybrid learning.

To help meet density restrictions necessitated by the ongoing pandemic and provide flexibility for students and faculty, Northeastern has created a hybrid learning model called Hybrid NUflex. It will allow students, more than 80 percent of whom plan to return to campus, to learn, pose questions, and participate in discussions and group work together in both the classroom and at home.

Read the full story here.

August 19, 2020

Picking up PhD Research After the COVID-19 Quarantine

As the COVID-19 pandemic tears through the United States, this strikingly challenging year is shaped by the growing number of casualties and widespread unemployment. In addition to these devastating ramifications, the pandemic also brought to a halt much of scientific research that was not related to the deadly virus.

March saw temporary closures of many university laboratories, including those on Northeastern’s campus in Boston. For many graduate students at the College of Science, these several months of suspended science have proved to be a trying time.

“I paused my research for about 3 months,” said Letícia Angelini, a PhD candidate in the Biology program. “My research mostly depends on [laboratory] bench work, so I, unfortunately, could not make much progress during the time I spent at home.”

Tim Duerr, also a Biology PhD candidate, was one of the few graduate students still allowed to come to the lab during the quarantine months, but not to do research. He helped take care of the lab’s colony of water salamanders. The salamanders had human company in the lab every day, unlike their attendant. “Occasionally I’d see people in the building, but most days I did not. The only interaction I had with people on campus is with the University police officers that let me in the building each day,” said Duerr.

For Duerr, running his experiments on salamander limb regeneration and socializing with his labmates are the best parts of his work, but the quarantine erased those enjoyable activities. “So it has been very disheartening and lonely in the lab,” added the salamander scientist.

Back to the lab

Now, Massachusetts is reopening and researchers have returned to Northeastern’s campus. But the pandemic is far from over, and it is critical to continue observing the safety guidelines that are recommended by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. These guidelines are central to research resumption at Northeastern.

Before returning to the lab, researchers had to submit a safety plan and have it approved by the university’s Environment, Health, and Safety office. They also completed a safety training model on practices to reduce transmission of the virus. Finally, all scientists must wear masks and practice social distancing while in the lab.

Brandon Miller, a PhD researcher at the Chemistry and Chemical Biology Department, described that he and his labmates work in shifts, ensuring that the lab occupancy is at half of its pre-COVID-19 capacity. Their lunch breaks are staggered, too.

“Additionally, we change our gloves and lab coats more frequently than before,” said Miller.

Working from Home

With the labs locked down, graduate students strove to stay productive while working from their living rooms  – which often came with complications.

“Meetings with my group have been challenging,” said Amin Abou Ibrahim from the Physics program. “Meetings and discussions via Skype may not always be ideal.”

Laboratory scientists found themselves adjusting to an unfamiliar work environment. Brandon Miller shared that his writing-heavy quarantine workload kept him looking at a computer screen for an unusually long time. “My eyes would be so strained by the end of the day and it was harder for me to focus as the day went on,” said Miller.

Staying at home can undermine not only productivity, but also mental health. Homebound researchers shared their strategies for mitigating cabin fever and anxiety.

“I think the best thing to do to maintain good mental health is exercising,” said Letícia Angelini, who went on plenty of runs while socially distancing and wearing a mask. Summer Harvey, a PhD candidate in Psychology, agrees. An avid runner, Harvey increased her mileage to 50-60 miles a week during the quarantine. This impressive workout regimen (the distance between Boston and Providence!) may not be feasible for most non-athletes, but it helped Harvey keep her mental health in check.

Non-exercise ways to maintain mental well-being can include picking up a new hobby or rediscovering an old one – like cooking.  “My new quarantine hobby is cooking traditional Colombian recipes (passed down from my mother),” said  Andrea Unzueta Martinez, a PhD candidate at the Department of Marine and Environmental Science at Northeastern’s Nahant campus.

Graduation Delays?

Even in quarantine, graduate students managed to meet their milestones. Tim Duerr, who passed his PhD candidacy exam over a Zoom call, admitted that this remote format was less stressful than a traditional presentation to a roomful of dissertation committee members. “The worst part of it all was being unable to celebrate with people afterwards,” shared Duerr.

Some PhD candidates even completed their programs. “I already defended [in the] end of May via Zoom and it went well,” said Amin Abou Ibrahim, who now holds a PhD in Physics.

However, this lengthy hiatus in research is likely to delay dissertation completion for some College of Science students who are still collecting data. Those whose research is “wet lab”-based, or relies on conducting experiments in a laboratory setting, are at a particular disadvantage. “I feel it’ll be very hard to catch up on the experiments I need to perform in order to finish my project,” said Letícia Angelini, who studies how bacterial communities grow.

Brandon Miller at the Chemistry and Chemical Biology Department echoes this sentiment. His research focuses on synthesizing chemical compounds that are typically produced by bacteria – and those experiments must be done in the lab. Because of the quarantine and the current reduced work schedule, Miller predicts that his graduation will be delayed by at least six months.

PhD students who can conduct their research remotely are more optimistic. For Summer Harvey, the campus closure has not been too disruptive to the dissertation progress. The Psychology PhD candidate, who studies accuracy of personality judgments, spent the quarantine crafting her dissertation proposal – the research plan for the rest of her program.

With the campus reopening, Harvey expects to stay on track with her research progress. She will start conducting experiments with human participants this fall, which can also be done remotely if necessary. “I’d just have to figure out a way to run participants virtually, which wouldn’t be impossible,” said Harvey, adding that the logistics behind this option are still not ideal.

Working from home was also not a hindrance for some graduate students in the final stages of their programs who have already acquired their data. For Andrea Unzueta Martinez, the finishing line is in sight despite the quarantine. Martinez, whose research is about host-associated microbiomes in marine creatures, used the time in the lockdown to analyze data and write her dissertation chapters, and she expects to graduate on time.

Hopes for the Future

Back at the bench, Northeastern’s PhD researchers are facing limited work hours and reduced density in the labs. Although rubbing elbows with labmates helps create an atmosphere of collaboration, in-person teamwork gives way to public health regulations. Scientists are resting their hopes for research continuity on the new rules.

“I really hope the safety measures we’ve been applying in the lab can prevent us from having another lockdown,” said Letícia Angelini, expressing many researchers’ wishes.

Northeastern’s guidelines on the reopening can be found here.

August 18, 2020

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