Young Scholar’s Program 2016

Participating Labs

LabYSP StudentsTitleAbstract
Faculty: Alshawabkeh, Akram

Mentor: Ljiljana Rajic
Amrita Sridhar, Ian McGregor Electrochemical Remediation of GroundwaterThe PROTECT Center studies exposure to environmental contamination and its contribution to preterm births in Puerto Rico. As one of the PROTECT projects, our goal is to create a solar-powered electrochemical treatment of contaminated groundwater. Since around 40% of drinking water sources in US originate from groundwater, developing cost-effective and environmentally friendly approaches to remediate contaminated groundwater is imperative. In this project, we apply low direct electric currents through electrodes in wells to manipulate groundwater chemistry by electrolysis and create conditions to transform contaminants into harmless products. We measure simultaneous transformation contaminants by electrochemically-induced reduction and/or oxidation in groundwater. Our target contaminants are chlorinated solvents, specifically trichloroethylene (TCE), but the process is also designed to treat other common groundwater contaminants (pesticides, pharmaceuticals, heavy metals, etc.) and their mixtures.
Faculty: Amiji, Mansoor

Mentors: Grishma Pawar, Gulzar Ahmad, Neha Parayath
Frederick Eberstadt, Caroline QuinnNanotechnology for efficient CNS drug deliveryCNS disorders are very difficult to treat because of the limitation of availability of therapeutic options for many patients. Also the number of patients suffering from CNS disorders are expected to rise in coming years. Hence there is a need to develop novel strategies and drug delivery systems for efficient delivery of therapeutic agents for treating CNS disorders. Nanoparticle delivery systems have emerged as novel and exciting technique to deliver therapeutic drugs by overcoming many obstacles for efficient drug delivery. These nanoscale delivery systems can be modified in many ways to cross the blood brain barrier, target specific receptors or cell signaling systems, protect the therapeutic drug from degradation, acts as a vehicle for delivering many proteins and nucleic acids. This project will mainly deal with cationic liposomal drug delivery system. Liposomes are nanoscale spherical vesicles made out of lipids which can encapsulate lipophilic as well as hydrophilic agents and aid in protection and efficient delivery. The project will focus on encapsulation of nucleic acids in nanoscale cationic liposomal particles and investigate the efficiency of the liposomal particles to deliver nucleic acids to macrophages.
Faculty: Ebong, Eno

Mentors: Ming Cheng, Solomon Mensah, Ian Harding
Ming Cheng, Solomon Mensah, Ian HardingBlood Vessel Cell Communication and “Sugar Coating”Atherosclerosis, a blood vessel disease defined by arterial hardening due to tissue remodeling and plaque buildup, occurs at artery branches where blood flow is unstable. The Ebong Group is conducting basic research to study the impact of blood flow-derived forces on the integrity of blood vessel endothelial cells, which make up the protective skin of the inner blood vessel wall and are the first line of defense against atherosclerosis. Since atherosclerosis is a precursor to heart attack, stroke, aneurysm, peripheral vascular disease, and retinal vascular disease, this research is critical for solving serious and costly societal health problems.
Faculty: Eckelman, Matthew

Mentor: Mahdokht Montazeri
MaryBeth Rockett, Louis SokolowNetwork models for chemical hazards and emissionsIndustrial production of chemicals is among the most energy- and emissions-intensive sectors of our economy. Regulatory frameworks for chemicals are moving from being largely risk-based to more holistic considerations of efficiency, resource use, and green chemistry. This National Science Foundation-funded project seeks to integrate chemical hazards such as toxicity, corrosivity, and volatility with systems-level assessment tools such as network analysis and life cycle assessment. The overall goal is to build a network model of chemical production in the United States that can be used to create projections for energy use and emissions and to map forward and backward dependencies in the network in order to evaluate resilience to supply chain disruptions. In all cases, the model will provide quantitative estimates of impacts to the environment, occupational safety, and public health.
Faculty: Fu, Raymond

Mentors: Yu Kong, Taleb Alashkar
Jorge Garcia, Randy ChenEfficient Video Understanding on Low-cost Processing UnitThe goal of video understanding in computer vision community is to predict semantic labels of human and objects in videos. For example, what is the person doing in the video, what is he/she interacting with, what is a group of people doing. It is an active research area in computer vision field with broad applications in video retrieval, visual surveillance and action recognition. Despite its importance, most of existing algorithms are computationally slow due to high computational cost. In this research, we will study high-precision video analysis algorithms with low computational cost in theory. We will also deploy the proposed algorithm on a low cost processing unit, Raspberry Pi 3, and reduce its running time by optimizing the code. Evaluations on the accuracy and the computational cost of the algorithm will be demonstrated.
Faculty: Godoy, VeronicaJordan Payne, Joseph JanuszewiczIsolation and identification of bacteria from environmental samplesWe are interested in investigating fundamental processes in bacteria. Particularly, we would like to understand the organization and regulation of the DNA damage response. We have already found examples of different DNA damage responses and would like to know the prevalence of these in bacteria found in nature. Therefore, we would like for students to sample bacteria, identify these by molecular and biochemical methodologies, and finally determine the organization and likely regulation of the DNA damage response.
Faculty: Jung, Yung Joon

Mentor: Ji Hao
Ioana Stoica, Keyi LiBuilding strong and highly conductive nanotube fiberThis research focuses on a novel carbon nanostructure engineering process called nanotube fusion. This highly controllable method controls input voltages across the network to create covalently bonded molecular junctions (cross-links) between CNTs, transforming them into larger diameter single-walled CNTs, multi-walled CNTs, or multi-layered graphene nanoribbons with tremendous property improvement. The overall research objective of this project is to create high-performing fibers for applications in aerospace, high power density energy storage, lightweight cabling/wiring, structural health monitoring, and more.
Faculty: Konry, Tali

Mentors: Saheli Sarkar, Lia Hondroulis
Sumayyah Akhtar, Helagenet GemechuLab on a Chip for Bacteria DiagnosisThe rapid emergence of antibiotic resistance presents an alarming challenge for management; it is now increasingly likely that many patients will be treated with inactive therapy, leading to adverse outcomes. Therefore, the development of new point-of-care (POC) technologies to shrink the empiric therapy window through rapid identification and antibiotic susceptibility testing (AST) is critical. Empiric therapy is given for 48-72 hours until traditional culture results and susceptibility data are available. However, the rapid emergence of antibiotic resistance presents an alarming challenge for management. It is now increasingly likely that many patients will be treated with inactive therapy, leading to adverse outcomes. Therefore, the development of new technologies to shrink the empiric therapy window through rapid identification and antibiotic susceptibility testing (AST) are critical. Here, a novel technology called ScanDrop that incorporates a bead-based assay and microfluidics device will address the shortcomings of current diagnostic technologies. As conceived, ScanDrop provides ultrafast (< 20 min), highly sensitive, direct-from-patient sample diagnostics for UTI pathogens without the need for culture pre-amplification, and provides AST results within 15 min of specimen acquisition. In this proposal, we aim to further develop and validate the previously developed and patented ScanDrop technology (Inventor: T.Konry, MGH patent WO2014107698 A1). It is expected ScanDrop will accelerate UTI diagnosis through multiplex pathogen detection and rapid AST, thereby identifying patients requiring aggressive therapy and optimizing antibiotic treatment.
Faculty: Lehman, Brad

Mentors: Yuan Li, Yue Zhang
Katelyn Li, Nadine NajahBuilding next generation solar panelsThis project will build new types of solar panels. The approach will be to create small panels that have electronics integrated in them. The small panels will be able to clip on to each other in a plug and play fashion to build up power. The panels will communicate with each other and ultimately be able to: 1) self-heal when there are faults in the system, 2) optimize energy extraction by adopting their operation according to light intensity, and 3) create a stable output voltage for battery chargers. The YSP student will help design various aspects of the solar photovoltaic system, including mechanical layout, fuses, electric circuits, simulation models in CAD and/or MATLAB. Extensive experimentation in solar energy will occur both outside as well in the indoor lab.
Faculty: Livermore, Carol

Mentors: Tian Liu, Majid Bigdeli Karimi, Xin Xie
Yasmine Boukataya, Anthony RoytmanEngineering origami tissueTissue engineering can save lives by supplementing the supply of organ transplants and by enabling the screening of new medical therapies before any human testing takes place. However, it is also incredibly complex. Tissues cannot survive without an adequate supply of nutrients and oxygen, or without removal of metabolic byproducts. Vascular networks provide these functions in most human tissues, but it has proven difficult to create effective vasculature in engineered tissues. A seemingly simple solution would be to seed cells onto a scaffold and let the developing tissue form its own vasculature, but research has shown that the resulting vascular networks are not sufficiently well-organized to supply the tissue. Despite the progress represented by this research, available techniques for tissue engineering are still limited by the need for serial processing (which limits throughput), an inability to produce truly 3D vascular networks, or both.
The purpose of our research is to create tissue with excellent structural control and high throughput through a scalable process. The process involves a combination of assembling cells selectively onto 2D surfaces and folding 2D surfaces into 3D structures. (It’s possible to fold the 2D surfaces into 3D structures before assembling the cells, and this is one direction of our current research.) By combining 2D structuring with 3D architectures, we aim to create engineered tissue with structure that mimics that architecture of natural tissues.
Faculty: Minus, Marilyn

Mentor: Heng Li
Oluwafikemi Faleye, Sakura GandolfoGraded Architecture CompositesThis project will make use of phase separation techniques to create polymer-nanofiller dispersions for carbon fiber precursor materials. The team is expected to correlate the phase separation conditions with the level of dispersion quality.
Faculty: Onabajo, Marvin

Mentors: Mahmoud Ibrahim, Tommy Tashjian
Emily O’Neill, Cameron YoungAnalog Filter Design for Brain Signal MeasurementsNew applications that require monitoring of brain signals are drowsiness detection, epilepsy diagnosis, and intent recognition to allow communication or to control objects/robots. Biosignals such as electroencephalography (EEG) signals from the brain are typically measured using electrodes covered with electrolyte gels or solutions to improve the contact quality at the skin interface. However, such wet-contact measurements require time to prepare the skin surface. More importantly, they cause discomfort or even allergic reactions, and dry out in long-term monitoring applications such as in brain-computer interfaces where EEG signals are measured and analyzed over hours, days, or longer. One goal of the research in our group is to enable the use of electrodes without gel, which requires improvements of the electronic circuits that amplify and filter the signal to increase the strength of the desired signal while removing noise and interference. A parallel research focus is the design of electronic circuits with low power consumption to extend battery lifetimes of wireless medical devices. Projects in our group include the development of new circuits and design methods through analysis, design and simulation, as well as testing of fabricated chips in the laboratory.
Faculty: Onnis-Hayden, Annalisa

Mentors: Carolina Venegas-Martinez, Marissa Dreyer
Takuma Kobayashi, Serna YuTidal flow wetland for water rescueGrowing urban populations, increasing water consumption, and decreasing predictability of climate all point to an ever-increasing need to improve water-use efficiency and watershed management around the world. Treating once-used water on-site to safe effluent-reuse standards—rather than using the water just once and flushing it back to an expensive, high-maintenance centralized treatment plant—has the potential to help reverse this trend by restoring the local water-nutrient cycle and also to reduce the urban heat-island effect.
An Environmental Engineering Capstone team, has recently completed the design and building of a tidal vertical-flow pilot system in the Civil Infrastructure Lab at Northeastern University. The system, which exemplifies a sustainable approach to water resources management, will be used by the YS and to conduct research, or by the RET to create teaching modules.
In addition to the pilot system the design team has built an educational website. The website, http://www.northeastern.edu/waternotwaste has three main audiences: students, educators, and the general public. The main goal of this website is to address the stigma against wastewater reuse and inform visitors about the benefits of small, decentralized wastewater treatment. The website also serves as an educational tool to showcase the function of our pilot system, and provide additional resources to students and educators. Part of the project will be to expand the website.
Faculty: Padir, Taskin

Mentor: Murphy Wonsick
Alex Hardy, Yasa BaigHeart: Humans Empowered by Assistive Robotics TechnologyDesign and develop assistive robot systems such as self-driving wheelchairs and prosthetic hands utilizing human-centered design principles.
Faculty: Platt, Robert

Mentor: Ulrich Viereck
Michael BarbiniAutomatic floorplan generation using a RGB-D depth image sensor and SLAMRobots moving inside a building require a map or floorplan for navigation. Such a map is usually not available a priori. Rather than creating a map by measuring the room manually, the robot can create a map while at the same time localizing itself.
Faculty: Platt, Robert

Mentor: Andreas ten Pas
Yaseen AlkhafajiHuman Tracking for Camera GuidanceStatistically mounted cameras can only provide a partial view of an object. In order to perform grasping, the more a robot can see of an object, the better. This project aims at human robot interaction where the human assists the robot in grasping by guiding a 3D camera mounted to the robot’s wrist in order to see objects from multiple sides. To track the human user, a Kinect-like sensor and existing open source software can be used. The tracked motions of the human need to be transformed into robot motions.

The assignment can be evaluated by comparing the human tracked guidance to an existing method from our lab that autonomously plans trajectories for the camera.
Faculty: Rappaport, Carey

Mentor: Masoud Rostami
Michelle Lim, Alex TeodorescuAdvanced Imaging Technology for Airport Security ApplicationsThe metal-detecting airport security scanners for airline passengers are being replaced by millimeter-wave imagers, which reveal concealed manmade objects. The technology that allows touchless inspections is a modern improvement over older conventional sensing science, but it can be improved.
At our Advanced Imaging Technology (AIT) Lab at Northeastern University in Boston, we are developing a custom-designed elliptical toroid reflector which allows multiple overlapping beams for focused wide-angle illumination to speed data acquisition and accurately image strongly inclined body surfaces. We have developed the concept of the Blade Beam Reflector both as a single transmitting antenna and a multi-beam Toroidal Reflector, with multiple feeds. Each feed generates a different incident beam with different viewing angles, while still maintaining the blade beam configuration of narrow slit illumination in the vertical direction. Having multiple transmitters provides horizontal resolution and imaging of full 120 deg. of body. Furthermore, the reflector can simultaneously be used for receiving the scattered field, with high gain, overlapping, high vertical resolution beams for each transmitting or receiving array element. The multistatic transmitting and receiving array configuration sensing avoids dihedral artifacts from body crevices and reduces non-specular drop-outs, and will leads to a faster, higher resolution, and less expensive security system.
Faculty: Shefelbine, SandraBridget Eckel, Samantha MarglousSimulating Human MovementUnderstanding human movement can aid in developing physical therapies, surgical planning, or performance optimization. In this project we will use computational tools to simulate muscle activation and human body movement. Understanding how muscles work together to achieve a motion and how muscle weakness may alter motions is critical in biomechanics.

Final Presentations

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Tue 26

Upcoming Events

Tue 26

Curley Afterschool Program (CEP)

September 26
Organizers: Center for STEM Education
617-373-8380
and STEMout
Sat 30

BPS Career Fair

September 30 @ 10:00 am - 1:00 pm
Organizer: Boston Public Schools
(617) 635-9000
Oct 03