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Research and innovation

A bold approach to discovery

Northeastern pushes scientific inquiry past boundaries, testing new knowledge in the world and translating what we learn into high-impact solutions that advance society.


in external research awards in 2022–2023


increase since 2006


NSF Graduate Research Fellowships held by current PhD students, up from 1 in 2006


Early Career Investigator Awards, including seven prestigious NSF CAREER awards, two NIH Early Stage Investigator MIRA awards, and three awards from the Office of Naval Research Young Investigator Program


inaugural Impact Engines earned seed funding from the university for their capacity to create measurable impact

Focus on health, security, and sustainability

Our researchers are discovering high-impact solutions to our greatest global challenges.

  • Advancing wireless beyond 5G technology

    The Institute for the Wireless Internet of Things, led by Electrical and Computer Engineering Professor Tommaso Melodia, has created Open6G, a new defense department-supported industry-university cooperative research center. It’s designed to jumpstart the development and commercialization of ultrafast, AI-automated wireless communications networks beyond the current 5G standard. This will expand the applications of wireless technology in areas like vehicle automation and remote healthcare, and make mobile devices more energy efficient and secure.

  • Assessing aphasia through a real-world lens

    Assistant Professor of Communication Sciences and Disorders, Erin Meier is pioneering promising research on aphasia. The condition, associated with traumatic brain injuries, limits a person’s ability to express or understand language. A nationally recognized expert, Meier is collaborating with Northeastern colleagues in computer science and engineering. By using wearable technology to move aphasia research into the real world, the team is eliminating variabilities inherent in typical lab-based studies.

  • Halting the global trade in illicit medicines  

    The multibillion-dollar trade in illegal medical products kills hundreds of thousands people worldwide, undermines global security and finance, and poses an outsized threat to public health in the developing nations. Supported by a $1 million grant from the National Science Foundation, Criminology and Criminal Justice Professor Nikos Passas and a multi-university research team are developing tools to disrupt this underworld—starting with an AI-powered effort to identify the players behind illegal online pharmacies.

  • Ocean robot yielding climate-change data  

    The Jetyak, Electrical and Computer Engineering Professor Hanumant Singh’s autonomous kayak, is helping to unlock the mysteries of climate change. Wrapped in sensors and self-directed by a proprietary algorithm, the craft was designed to tackle the laborious, dangerous work of mapping melting icebergs in 3D. The goal: fresh insights into glacier melt and its impact on ocean currents—a key variable in the earth’s climate.

  • Overcoming the blood-brain barrier  

    Tao Sun—an assistant professor of bioengineering and a member of Northeastern’s Institute of Chemical Imaging of Living Systems—is refining a method to deliver life-saving drugs and other therapies to the brain. The blood-brain barrier has always hindered treatments for brain disorders. Sun’s lab beams ultrasound waves at microbubbles injected into a patient’s bloodstream to lower the barrier, enabling drugs and powerful immune cells to go where they’re needed most.

Seeding ways to accelerate impact

A new way to move the needle

Impact Engines galvanize interdisciplinary learning, research, and partnerships to create local change at scale. Launched in 2022, these university-supported teams cross colleges and campuses.   

Increasing access to higher ed

Led by Elizabeth Zulick, vice chancellor for strategic planning and projects, Experiential Associate to Master’s will collaborate with local communities to create pathways for students to pursue credentials at multiple levels—from certificates to master’s programs—while providing student supports, mentoring, and experiential learning opportunities. This Impact Engine will leverage Northeastern’s successful A2M model, and align learners with sectors with strong career trajectories and high demand for skilled workers. 

An AI game-changer for critical-care delivery

A research partnership with MaineHealth—the state’s largest hospital system—aims to use Big Data to predict adverse outcomes in cardiac patients, enabling faster intervention. Healthcare Enabled by AI in Real Time—or HEA(RT)—is among Northeastern’s new Impact Engines. The group’s top researcher, Rai Winslow, sees HEA(RT)’s predictive model impacting nearly every decision in critical care, improving hospital care worldwide.

Measuring air quality street by street

Led by Yang Zhang, associate chair for research and civil and environmental engineering professor, the new interdisciplinary Impact Engine Intelligent Solutions to Urban Pollution for Equity and Resilient—or iSuper—is installing more than 100 air pollution sensors around Greater Boston and patrolling city streets in a van outfitted to detect the same. The goal: to identify hyperlocal hotspots in real time to develop pollution reduction strategies that eventually inform all city design processes. The Impact Engine seed funding will speed progress toward that goal. 

Expanding our faculty expertise


T/TT hires since 2006, including 100 in 2022-23


faculty with interdisciplinary appointments, up 421% since 2012

Meet some of our new faculty 

  • Khaled Ghannam

    Assistant Professor of Civil and Environmental Engineering, and researcher in iSuper Impact Engine
  • Larry Han

    Assistant Professor of Health Sciences
  • Alina Lungeanu

    Assistant Professor of Communication Studies and Management and Organizational Development
  • Eileen McGivney

    Assistant Professor of Communication Studies and Art and Design
  • Briony Swire-Thompson

    Assistant Professor of Political Science and Psychology
  • Idia Thurston

    Professor in Health Sciences and Applied Psychology, and Associate Director of the Institute of Health Equity and Social Justice Research

Faculty awards, honors, and excellence

  • Network Accelerator Award

    Alicia Sasser Modestino and Carrie Maultsby-Lute

    Modestino, at Northeastern’s Boston campus, and Maultsby-Lute, at our Oakland, California, campus, were the inaugural recipients of this award for their cross-campus collaboration. Their multidisciplinary research team, Community to Community, uses data and analysis to design, implement, and evaluate public policies that push the needle forward on complex problems found in urban areas. The project is one of Northeastern’s Impact Accelerators, research clusters creating meaningful, scalable impact. 

  • SIGCHI Lifetime Research Award

    Gregory Abowd

    Dean and Professor, College of Engineering

    Abowd, one of the world’s top scholars in ubiquitous computing, was honored for his distinguished research contributions to computer-human interaction. 

  • Member, National Academy of Engineering 

    Ali Abur

    Professor, Electrical and Computer Engineering; Director, CURENT 

    Abur was appointed to this prestigious panel in honor of his career spent working on methods for identifying faults in the U.S. power system.

  • SSRC Lynn S. Beedle Award, Structural Stability Research Council

    Jerome F. Hajjar 

    CDM Smith Professor of Civil and Environmental Engineering 

    Hajjar won the prestigious award, which annually recognizes thought leaders who “have carried out world-class research in the field of structural stability and have also made outstanding and decisive contributions to establish SSRC.” 

  • Fellow, Association for Computing Machinery; Fellow, American Association for the Advancement of Science

    Kevin Fu

    Professor of Electrical and Computer Engineering

    Fu was recognized for his outstanding contributions to computer security, particularly his work to secure medical devices from cyberattacks.

  • NSF CAREER Award

    Sara M. Hashmi

    Assistant Professor of Chemical Engineering

    Hashmi earned this award to better understand how polymer gels flow through tight spaces, which can be applied to mitigating the clogging behavior of blood flow through a vessel  

  • Julius Edgar Lilienfeld Prize

    Albert-László Barabási  

    Robert Gray Dodge Professor of Network Science; Distinguished Professor of Physics and Computer Sciences 

    The American Physical Society honored Barabási for his pioneering work on the statistical physics of networks and for his contributions in communicating the significance of this rapidly developing field to a broad range of audiences.   

  • NSF CAREER Award

    Samuel Muñoz 

    Associate Professor, Marine and Environmental Sciences and Civil and Environmental Engineering

    Muñoz received an award for his research to improve flood hazard assessments—crucial tools used by developers, municipalities, and insurers in deciding where to site new buildings or infrastructure.  

  • Lifetime Achievement in Public Health Law Award

    Wendy Parmet  

    Matthews Distinguished University Professor of Law; Faculty Director, Center for Health Policy and Law; Professor, School of Public Policy and Urban Affairs  

    The American Public Health Association honored Parmet for her significant contributions to improving the public’s health and reducing health inequities through law.  

  • Fellow, American Association for the Advancement of Science

    Alessandro Vespignani

    Sternberg Family Distinguished University Professor of Physics, Computer Science, and Health Sciences  

    Vespignani was recognized for his work defining network epidemiology, establishing the foundations of modeling the spread of viruses and for his leadership in societal interventions to limit the impact of COVID-19.

Entrepreneurship and innovation


Rooted Living

Rachel Domb, ’24, founded Rooted Living out of a desire for healthy, eco-friendly snacks. As a first-year student, she launched her line of plant-based snacks, with support from the Women’s Interdisciplinary Society of Entrepreneurship—or WISE—and the Husky Startup Challenge. Now a thriving business venture, Rooted Living offers granola free of refined ingredients. Domb’s vision was rewarded with a $10,000 Innovator Award from Women Who Empower.


BrilliantStrings Therapeutics

Bioengineering Professor Jeffrey W. Ruberti founded a spinout company to develop a process that could revolutionize rehabilitative medicine. BrilliantStrings Therapeutics was born out of his lab, where he has been studying collagen, the human body’s most abundant protein and the building block of connective tissues. BrilliantStrings Therapeutics harnesses collagen to heal connective tissue injuries—either by injecting it directly into the site of the injury or, for larger tears, using a patch that releases the protein.  

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nasa launch support

Zeus AI

Zeus AI is a new startup, with NASA seed funding, that uses artificial intelligence and machine learning to predict weather patterns. Founders Thomas Vandal, ’18, and Kate Duffy, ’21, with PhDs in engineering, want to improve short-term forecasting by processing the vast amount of data—on atmospheric winds, water vapors, temperature changes, and cloud cover—provided by government satellites. The new startup’s intended clients include energy markets and energy traders.


Foreign Resource

Matias Belete, ’24, and Robert Yang, ’24, launched a unisex streetwear company, Foreign Resource, to appeal to fashion-forward globetrotters. This fall, they’re spending their six-month co-op working on Foreign Resource full time. The pair want to use pop-up stores—typically used only as a marketing tool—to scale and grow their business. They also received support from the Sherman Center for Engineering Entrepreneurship, and resources from IDEA, Northeastern’s student-run venture accelerator.

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