Last Friday, President Aoun was joined by Secretary of the Department of Transportation (DoT), Anthony Foxx, state senators, Elizabeth Warren and Ed Markey, Gov. Deval Patrick and Mayor Martin J. Walsh to present a $20 million federal grant to renovate Ruggles Station.
“I just think this is going to be very beneficial for Northeastern University and the surrounding community, it’s a win win situation,” Tim Leshan, the vice president for government relations at Northeastern, said.
The plan includes the construction of a 797-foot long, 12-foot wide high-level platform between the Ruggles and the Northeastern Columbus Avenue parking garage.
“At Northeastern, partnering with the community is who we are,” Aoun said in a press release issued on Sept. 12. “We want to be the catalyst for a Columbus Avenue renaissance that benefits the community, the university and the region as a whole. We have made multimillion dollar investments in the Columbus Avenue corridor and we plan to invest even more.”
The renovations are also expected to exist cohesively with the planned Interdisciplinary Science and Engineering Complex, which is being built in the Columbus parking lot.
The renovations should increase commuter rail service and decrease travel time by an estimated 13 minutes. There will also be improvements made to lighting, pedestrian accessibility, elevators and security call boxes.
“I think this renovation will be a huge benefit to both Northeastern and the surrounding Boston community,” Noah Carville, a senior economics major and student body president, said. “Looking specifically at our students, these improvements should make Ruggles more accessible and safer – especially for students traveling through the station late at night.”
Transportation Investment Generating Economic Recovery grants, or the TIGER Discretionary Grant program, allows the DoT to invest in road, rail and other transit projects that hold critical national objectives in both urban and rural settings. States may submit applications and detail the benefits such a project would create.
“The vision set forth by President Obama for the TIGER grant program called for smart investment in transportation that will lead to expanded growth and opportunity,” Patrick said in a press release on Sept. 12. “The improvements that will be made to Ruggles encapsulate that vision – shortening commutes, increasing transit access and catalyzing growth for this neighborhood and the city.”
States may submit applications highlighting the benefits such a project would create.
“Federal funding will help improve service at Ruggles Station, which will make a real difference for families and businesses both nearby and throughout the city,” Warren said. “The TIGER Grant program is a terrific example of how the federal government can be a strong partner for our state, cities and towns, by making key investments in transportation infrastructure. The Patrick administration did great work to get this grant, and I was happy to support this effort.”
As stated on the DoT website, states must meet five long term qualifications to be considered: safety, economic competitiveness, state of good repair, livability and environmental sustainability. This year, 72 applicants out of 797 received the grant. The projects are all designed to cut down travel time, increase reliability and attract jobs.
“All of us will benefit from better lighting, better elevators, and better signage,” Carville “But we also share this community with the residents of Roxbury, and this renovation will provide them with more jobs and a better commute to work. Overall, the initiative is a great opportunity for all involved.”
This piece was originally published by the Huntington News.
As stated by the World Health Organization, early detection of cancer greatly is a primary requirement for successful treatment.
Recipient of the 2014 RISE undergraduate award for Physical and Life Sciences, senior chemistry major Douglas Townsend,and Max Diem, professor of chemistry, are pioneering a new form of cancer diagnostics.
“This is my first project that I’ve been working on for a year and a half now,” Townsend said.
The foundation of the project and surrounding research is based on screening patients for disease, using infrared micro-spectroscopy coupled with multivariate statistical analysis, termed spectral pathology. Infrared spectroscopy is the interaction between infrared radiation and matter, and is a well-established technique used in analytical chemistry, as described by Townsend. The research seeks to diagnose disease on a molecular level based on changes in the biochemical composition of cells and tissue during the start and progression of disease.
Townsend has been focusing specifically on the collection of esophageal samples through exfoliation, or the scraping of esophagus cells and testing the cells collected.
“We collaborate with the Gloucestershire NHS Hospital Trust Foundation in Gloucester, U.K. to work on using our technology to screen patients for esophageal disease, mainly Barrett’s Esophagus,” Townsend said. “That’s a condition that’s pre-disposed to carcinogenesis.”
Barrett’s Esophagus is a condition where the tissue of the esophagus is replaced with lining similar to the lining of the intestine, as defined by the Mayo Clinic. The disease leaves patients with an increased risk of developing esophageal cancer.
“It’s a disease that’s increased in prevalence over the past couple of decades and currently there are no solid ways to diagnosis it. It’s one of the worst killers as cancers go,” Townsend said. “If you don’t catch it early the treatment is basically surgical removal of the esophagus and I believe that around 10 percent die in the surgery and over 80 percent will die within five years.”
The partnership with Gloucestershire NHS Hospital has taken the research by Townsend and Diem at Northeastern, and transported it across the ocean to be used with patients at risk or suffering from Barrett’s.
“We’re screening patients for this precancerous condition and with the help of the doctors and researchers over at the Gloucestershire Hospital we hope to establish a clinical application for this technology,” Townsend said. “Right now, our predictive models for esophageal disease operates at over 90 percent accuracy.”
Professor Diem began research on similar medical diagnostics by spectral methods in the mid’ 90s.
“It was 18 years ago and it was impossible to do, neither computation capabilities or instrumental methods were available,” Diem said. “But now we’re at the stage where we can do cancer screening, cancer diagnostics and cancer prognostics.”
Diem is part of a start-up company and has set up a privately funded lab in Cambridge. The company, Cireca Theranostics, LLC, focuses on spectral-based tissue diagnostic technology, as stated on their website, with the goal to bring increased accuracy in the understanding of disease.
Later this year, the start up company plans to have a system to diagnosis lung cancer.
Since Diem started at Northeastern, he and his researchers have received two patents, and he has personally written roughly 60 papers in peer reviewed journals, 10 chapters and one book.
“We’ve previously tested for oral cancers and oral diseases,” Diem said. “We had a campus-wide pre-clinical trial for volunteers for oral cancer and oral disorders, and before that we worked with the pathology department at Tufts University for cervical cancer screening.”
The research that Diem and Townsend have done in the past year and a half has taken the two across the ocean to the SPEC 2014 conference. SPEC 2014, Shedding New Light on Disease, was held in Krakow, Poland over the summer and aims to bring together both clinicians and scientists who have research in infrared spectroscopy and apply research to both clinical and medical application.
“It was amazing to see all these leading scientists and doctors in this field working together to determine the best way to get this technology into the hospitals,” Townsend said. It was truly an incredible learning experience.”
Townsend is currently writing a paper on his recent research, which he plans to submit to the British journal published by the Royal Society of Chemistry, Analyst, on which he should be listed as the first author. Townsend anticipates graduating this upcoming spring and either plans on going to medical school or applying to an MD-PhD program.
“What we’re doing just has a huge potential to aid in screening and diagnosis for better patient care and treatment for those diseases that are hard to diagnose and can be asymptomatic,” Townsend said. “It just has a lot of potential.”
This piece was originally published by the Huntington News.
Over the summer, Northeastern President Joseph E. Aoun announced to the university’s faculty that Provost and Senior Vice President for Academic Affairs, Stephen W. Director, would be retiring after seven years of service.
“I will be forever grateful for the way Steve approached his job as provost; he always acted with the greater interests of the university in mind,” Aoun said in an email to university faculty. “This is the mark of a true university citizen and a true leader.”
The responsibilities held by Director are centered around ensuring that research, academics and faculty of the university are of the highest quality attainable.
Director received his master’s and doctoral degrees in electrical engineering from the University of California, Berkeley. Before joining Northeastern University in 2008, Director served as the Provost at Drexel University in Philadelphia and as Dean of the Robert J. Vlasic College of Engineering at the University of Michigan.
A highlight of Director’s tenure at Northeastern was the consolidation and restructuring of the arts and science programs into three smaller colleges: the College of Social Sciences and Humanities, College of Arts, Media and Design and College of Science. He has also helped to hire over 400 tenured or tenure-track faculty members.
“Steve knows that faculty are the backbone of the university, and our remarkable success in faculty recruiting — when many other schools were retrenching — will benefit Northeastern well into the future,” Aoun said.
Another legacy that Director will leave behind is the construction of the Interdisciplinary Science and Engineering Complex (ISEC) at the Columbus parking lot.
“Steve spent many hours working closely with our architects, planners and other stakeholders to ensure that the ISEC would meet the demands of faculty and students for generations to come,” Aoun said.
At the beginning of his time at Northeastern, Director received a $2 million mortgage from the university to purchase a house in the city. Director purchased a condo adjacent to Boston Commons, assessed at $1,755,668 as reported by the Boston Assessment Database. He has since paid back the loan at $40,000 a year. Currently, it is unclear as to what will be done with the property once Director leaves.
The university declined to comment on this matter.
However, the issue that has taken up the majority of Director’s last few months as Provost has been the battle over tenure for adjunct professors.
Professor Denise Horn, an assistant professor of International Affairs, has been outspoken on the tenure topic. Horn has been denied tenure repeatedly, in part due to Director’s focus on publication in prestigious academic journals rather than teaching.
Horn’s tenure is once again up for review, and she declined to comment on her past interactions with Director due to the delicacy of her upcoming review.
With the start of the semester, it was announced that Director would remain Provost until a successor is found. Director will continue to remain an influence on campus after his retirement, planning to serve as a special advisor to Aoun.
“I look forward to my future work with him as we continue to write the Northeastern story,” Aoun said.
The search for Director’s replacement is underway and consists of a series of search committee meetings that are open to faculty, students and the general public. The next meeting will be held Tuesday, Sept. 23 from 2 to 3 p.m. in the Curry Student Center Ballroom.
This post was originally published by the Huntington News.
The Bouvé College of Health Sciences is celebrating 100 years of the Origins of Physical Therapy at Northeastern at the end of this month.
“This program formed the foundation of the profession of Physical Therapy,” Julie Norton, a member of Special Projects for Development and Health Sciences, said.
To commemorate the Physical Therapy Centennial Celebration, Bouvé and Snell Library have joined together to compose a timeline and collection of archival photographs, which will be released at the beginning of October.
“It started as the Bouvé Boston School of Physical Education and then changed to the Bouvé School of Physical Education and Physical Therapy,” Norton said. “It’s not an easy history.”
The program was started by seven graduates of the Boston Normal School of Gymnastics: Marjorie Bouvé, Bessie Barnes, Caroline Baxter, Marguerite Sanderson, Grace Shepardson, Mary Florence Stratton and Miriam Tobey.
The seven founded the Boston School of Physical Education (BSPE) in 1913, which Bouvé was named director of. The school was originally a means to train emergency responders in World War I. Students were trained in three groups over a period of six weeks prior to shipping out. Physical therapy itself could not be selected as a full major until the 1940s.
“Most PTs [physical therapists] don’t know their history at all,” said Norton.
The Bouvé-Boston School of Physical Education briefly partnered in 1923 with Boston University, only to partner instead with Simmons College seven years later. In 1924, Bouvé-Boston School realigned itself with Tufts University, and the relationship with Simmons officially dissolved in 1949. While at Tufts, BBSPE once again took on a wartime mission, where students studied to be able to aid in Army hospitals.
Bouvé-Boston finally came to rest at Northeastern in 1963, after Tufts decided the school’s curriculum would have a fundamental emphasis on liberal arts. This change in curriculum contrasted the professional mission held by Bouvé. Northeastern’s mission of real world experience and co-operative education seemed like the ideal fit, and in 1964 Boston-Bouvé College at Northeastern was created.
Hands-on experience has been at the core of the physical therapy department. BBSPE began the program’s first cultural exchange in 1935 with Japan. The program’s commitment to global learning opportunities has perpetuated with exchange programs in Switzerland, global learning opportunities in South America and Africa and traditional dialogues or study abroad.
Student students in the major must take two foundation years of classes before moving on to those more directly related to physical therapy. After the foundation years, students are encouraged to branch out to co-op or abroad to further explore the field.
Aliana Akhtar, a fifth year senior and vice president of the PT Club has studied abroad in Kenya and also did a co-op with Spaulding Rehabilitation in the pediatric unit and Furnace Brook Physical Therapy in Quincy.
“Ultimately, I would love to be a pediatric physical therapist,” Akhtar said. “All the pediatric experience I’ve had at Spaulding and seeing orthopedic injuries at Furnace Brook, I’ve been able to see both inpatient and outpatient experience.”
As a senior, and as required by the major, Akhtar and other students must participate in a PT project, similar to a senior thesis or capstone. Akhtar, along with roughly 15 other students, will travel with Professor Lorna Hayward to Ecuador over spring break to work with children with varying physical and mental disabilities.
The program overall is highly competitive, requiring students to maintain a 3.0 GPA in order to advance past the first two years, and is one of the only programs where you can receive a doctorate in six years with one year of work experience.
Sophomore Hannah Getto is nearing co-op, the point where most physical therapy students decide whether they want to stay or drop the major.
“It is very career-oriented,” Getto said. “ The PT program encourages students to work very hard, but also provides a support system for students who are struggling. I love how close everyone in PT is.”
The major is a close knit department, with roughly 60 to 100 students per year.
“The professors’ doors are always open and they are always ready to help,” Akhtar said, “especially because the classes are so hard and they’ve been through PT School, they’re right there with you.”
The department has been asking students for photographs to further show the evolution of the program, as stated by Akhtar, and is planning a celebration in the future.
“It’s awesome,” said Akhtar. “They’re all phenomenal at what they do.”
This piece was originally published by the Huntington News.
With the ever-rising student population, Northeastern is continually addressing the problem of housing. As more undergraduates enter and the commitment to provide on campus housing increases, students have continued to seek other means of housing off campus.
Northeastern has 8,414 beds for this fall semester. With roughly 16,640 undergraduates and approximately 54 percent living on campus, as reported by US News, 8,985 students should be living on campus, but 571 remain without beds.
Lila Sevener, a sophomore political science and environmental studies major, and Laila Mooring-Frye, a sophomore engineering major, both submitted into the Northeastern lottery system for fall 2014 housing with four other roommates.
When Sevener and roommates went to pick housing, ranking in the 3,000 range, their preferred housing was already locked.
“We had plans for six people to live together on campus, and when the six-person rooms came up, there were none left, and we split into four and two,” Sevener said. “And more and more housing disappeared, so there were only two-person rooms left, and this was the third or fourth day of housing selection.”
For Sevener and her roommates, on-campus housing was no longer an option. After contacting housing, they filed an application to be put on the placement list, which would guarantee them a spot on campus but not necessarily one they wanted. The possibility that they wouldn’t know their fate till August forced them to look off campus, where they found lower overall prices.
Like many students, Sevener had to go through the waiver process, an application that allows students to review their two-year on-campus contract with the On-Campus Residency Exemption Committee.
“The waiver process is for students who believe they have a particular hardship or circumstance that makes living on campus not possible,” Renata Nyul, the director of communications for Northeastern, said. “These students may submit a petition and the university will contact them to discuss their particular situation.”
Ultimately, Sevener and her roommates had their waiver approved, after being repeatedly told that their request would not be approved.
“It felt really unfair and unorganized and if there was more clarity throughout the entire process, it would’ve made everything a lot easier,” Mooring-Frye said.
When sophomore business and marketing major Natalia Laresgoiti went to register for housing, she and her friends were told that there was no more available.
“None of my friends had housing,” Laresgoiti said. “They never fully explained what was happening or if we’d get housing.”
At the time, the only rooms available were for males, and the roommates were told that all they could do was wait and hear back from housing. Luckily, Laresgoiti and friends found out a few weeks later that they would be able to live on campus after all.
“It wasn’t a huge misunderstanding, it was just a confusing process,” Laresgoiti said.
Northeastern guarantees housing to all freshman and sophomore students; only in the instance of late applications or transfer students is housing not guaranteed.
In 2006 Northeastern made a commitment to the city to add another 1,800 beds to on-campus housing. To further remedy the growing demand for housing, Northeastern completed International Village in 2009, adding 1,200 beds to campus.
Since the completion of International Village, Northeastern has broken ground with Suffolk Construction in 2012 on the 17-story, 720-bed East Village residence hall. The opening of East Village is set for January of 2015 and is the current remedy for the ever-growing housing demand.
“We are continuing to work on providing safe, convenient and affordable housing to all of our students,” Nyul said.
This piece was originally published by the Huntington News.
Chronicling my journalistic endeavors.
All ocean conservation/biodiversity posts are my own original thoughts. All other posts are my work for other publications.