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Northeastern celebrates scholarly achievement

North eastern rec og nized the impres sive achieve ments of stu dents, fac ulty, and staff on Thursday at the university’s Aca d emic Honors Con vo ca tion. The annual event honors a select few who channel their extra or di nary tal ents and pas sion into trans for ma tive research and schol ar ship, excep tional teaching and men toring, and inno va tion in higher education—on campus and across the globe.

Pres i dent Joseph E. Aoun said that in estab lishing the awards cer e mony three years ago, North eastern started an impor tant tra di tion that both cel e brates its community’s achieve ments and empha sizes its mem bers life long con nec tions to the university.

“What we’re cel e brating here today is the excel lence and the per ma nence of our com mu nity,” Aoun told an audi ence of hun dreds who gath ered in the Curry Stu dent Center Ball room for the ceremony.

Uni ver sity Dis tin guished Pro fessor is the highest honor North eastern can bestow on a fac ulty member. This year, North eastern hon ored three fac ulty with that dis tinc tion: Lisa Feldman Bar rett, Phil Brown, and Andrei Zelevinsky, who was hon ored posthu mously. Zelevinsky, a math e matics pro fessor who has been dubbed “a tow ering figure in modern algebra and rep re sen ta tion theory,” passed away ear lier this month. His daughter, Katya, accepted the honor on his behalf.

“His vision and the impact he made on his field will endure, as will the university’s respect and grat i tude for his schol ar ship, intel li gence, and friend ship,” Stephen W. Director, provost and senior vice pres i dent for aca d emic affairs, said of Zelevinsky.

Brown, appointed to Dis tin guished Pro fessor of Soci ology and Health Sci ences, is an inter na tion ally known scholar. His inter dis ci pli nary research in med ical soci ology addresses envi ron mental jus tice and social move ments, mental health, and the health con se quences and social impacts of envi ron mental hazards.

In her remarks at the Con vo ca tion, Bar rett noted that she orig i nally thought she wanted to go to med ical school before a col lege psy chology course altered her career path for ever. She said the range of oppor tu ni ties and expe ri ences uni ver si ties pro vide their stu dents is unparalleled.

“Uni ver si ties are places where people can dis cover their paths toward the future,” said Bar rett, who was appointed Dis tin guished Pro fessor of Psy chology. “They changed lives, and in my case this is def i nitely so.”

At North eastern, Barrett’s research focuses on emo tion through the lens of psy chology and neu ro science. Her lab, the Inter dis ci pli nary Affec tive Sci ence Insti tute, annu ally men tors more than 100 under grad u ates whose work is a blend of expe ri en tial learning and sci en tific dis covery. “It’s an exciting time to be in my field,” Bar rett said.

“Psy chology is on the cusp of a sci en tific rev o lu tion, insti gated by dis cov eries in neu ro science. Now that we can look into humans’ brains with unprece dented accu racy, we can over turn many of the mis taken assump tions that have been with us since of the time of Plato.”

Other fac ulty hon ored included world-​​renowned sci en tist Sangeev Muk erjee, whose research has been applied to devel oping improved mate rials for fuel-​​cell cat a lysts, and accounting pro fessor Arnold Wright, a pro lific scholar whose con tri bu tions in trans forming the accounting, audit, and assur ance fields are nation ally rec og nized. Both earned Excel lence in Research and Cre ative Activity Awards.

The ceremony’s under grad uate hon orees boasted a range of impres sive accom plish ments across many dis ci plines, including neu ro science, global health, world diplo macy, and social entrepreneurship.

Julia Ebert, a third-​​year behav ioral neu ro science major, is one of 300 stu dents nation wide who has received the Barry W. Gold water Schol ar ship, which honors stu dents who demon strate out standing poten tial and intend to pursue a career in math, sci ence, or engi neering. Three stu dents—seniors Lauren Byrnes and Hollis Thomann and 2012 grad uate Lucas Schoeppner—earned Ful bright U.S. Stu dent Awards, a pres ti gious national honor for stu dents to study, con duct research, or teach abroad. All three will pursue their fel low ships in Germany.

North eastern also bestowed honors upon sev eral accom plished stu dent scholars. Seniors Brian Henske, Bich Ngoc (Jade) Hoang, and Fer nando Quivira were rec og nized with Hodgkinson Awards, the university’s highest honors for grad u ating seniors. In addi tion, seniors Miguel de Corral and Caitlin Fer guson were hon ored with the des ig na tion as a Pres i den tial Global Fellow.

Seven grad uate stu dents also earned awards for their out standing work in research, teaching, com mu nity ser vice, and expe ri en tial learning.

The Uni ver sity Events Team and the Vis itor Center Team were rec og nized with an Out standing Team work Award and Inno va tion Team Award, respec tively. David Winch, director of stu dent sup port ser vices in Enroll ment Man age ment and Stu dent Affairs, was also rec og nized with the Out standing Ser vice Award.

The full list of the North eastern com mu nity mem bers rec og nized at the Aca d emic Honors Con vo ca tion can be found here.

At the event, a moment of silence was observed for those affected by the Boston Marathon bomb ings ear lier in the week. Aoun announced two of the three stu dents injured in the attacks have left the hos pital, and acknowl edged the stu dents, fac ulty, and staff who have been involved in the response and relief effort.

“Our com mu nity comes together when there is sorrow and tragedy, but it also comes to cel e brate its great accom plish ments,” Aoun said. “This com mu nity is strong because of each one of you—the fac ulty, the stu dents, and the staff.”

– by Greg St. Martin

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