RISE awards honor student researchers

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RISE awards honor student researchers

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By Alyssa Lukpat, staff writer

Northeastern’s top student researchers earned awards for their projects at the university’s annual Research, Innovation and Scholarship Expo Awards in East Village Thursday.

Graduate and undergraduate researchers presented their findings earlier in the day at the Research, Innovation and Scholarship Expo, or RISE, in Cabot Center. More than 400 projects on topics ranging from chemotherapy to mindfulness covered disciplines across science, technology and the humanities.

“The process of learning to ask the right questions and figuring out the answers to those questions through invention or discovery is classic Northeastern experiential education,” Provost James C. Bean told the audience. “It will serve you extremely well even if you don’t go into research careers.”

Northeastern’s Center for Research Innovation, or CRI, sponsored the expo, which was themed “Tomorrow’s Ideas Today.” More than 100 judges from industries such as clean energy, finance and engineering gave 20 awards to student researchers.

This year was Samantha Ernst’s third time participating in the expo. But it was the first time the fourth-year behavioral neuroscience major won awards at RISE — best video pitch and outstanding student research — for her project using electronic medical records to predict child abuse.

“Northeastern really puts on a great event and supports the students which is awesome,” Ernst said. “I’m just incredibly honored.”

In addition to awards in seven academic disciplines, including business, engineering and computer science, researchers won cash prizes for excellence in innovation, scholarship and entrepreneurship.

Chris Brown, a judge representing Rogers Corp., an engineered materials company in Burlington, Massachusetts, especially liked a project that analyzed prejudiced speech in superhero movies and TV shows.

“It resonated a lot for me because I have a daughter,” Brown said. “It showed how the language can lead to expressions of bias. I thought the work was well done and fair and balanced and useful.”

Samantha Goldman, a third-year psychology major, won an award for outstanding student research for this speech analytics project.

Other projects, including one that used language to detect people’s feelings, also resonated with first-year Christian Etherton, who came to RISE to learn more about research.

“This is sort of like a science fair for college students and adults,” said Etherton, an industrial engineering major. “It just shows what students are involved in and the different directions departments are going in. It’s a source of inspiration for me.”

RISE showcases the student body’s talent to business professionals, said Mark Saulich, CRI’s senior commercialization manager.

“RISE gives a window into what’s unique about Northeastern in terms of expertise and research,” Saulich said. “It certainly gives students an opportunity to communicate why they’re working on what they’re working on, whether it’s planting trees or developing a new orthotic device.”

Brown, the judge from Rogers Corp., said his company sends a judge to RISE every year. He said he was impressed with the caliber of student research at the school.

“Northeastern does a great job, because this is one of the most organized and productive events I’ve been to in many years,” Brown said. “It was well worth the time and the students are great.”