Abriola Named Director of Tufts Institute of the Environment

Dean emerita, Linda Abriola, named new director of Tufts Institute for the Environment

Dean emerita, Linda Abriola, named new director of Tufts Institute for the Environment

Linda Abriola, a nationally recognized authority on groundwater contamination and remediation, has been appointed director of the Tufts Institute of the Environment (TIE), with the goal of raising the institute’s profile both within and outside the university.

Abriola, the former dean of Tufts School of Engineering and one of five University Professors at Tufts, will focus on generating new connections that bolster interdisciplinary environmental research and education for faculty and undergraduate and graduate students.

“I view TIE as an entity that is rooted in Tufts’ longstanding culture of education and research for societal impact,” says Abriola. “This appointment offers me a wonderful opportunity to work across the campus to engage diverse groups of faculty and students to create new synergies. Our primary goal will be to leverage Tufts’ intellectual capital to make a difference in the world.”

Read more at TuftsNow.

Asatekin Wins NSF CAREER Award

Ayse Asatekin, Assistant Professor, Chemical and Biological Engineering

Assistant Professor Ayse Asatekin received an NSF CAREER Award for her proposal to engineer novel membranes with new capabilities by designing polymers that self-assemble to form nanostructures. Membrane filtration is energy efficient, simple, scalable, and a key technology for generating clean, safe water and for preventing water pollution. Asatekin’s research focuses on controlling the pore size of a novel family of membranes with high flux, exceptional fouling resistance, and sharp size-based selectivity, prepared by coating zwitterion-containing amphiphilic copolymers on porous supports.

Griffiths Speaks with NPR about Toxic Taps in America

Dr. Jeffrey Griffiths

Dr. Jeffrey Griffiths, a professor Tufts University School of Medicine, adjunct professor in the Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering, and former chair of the EPA’s Drinking Water Committee, Science Advisory Board, says we don’t have a strong understanding of the health impacts of low-level exposure to chemicals in water.

“The truth is there is no such thing as a safe amount of lead in water; there’s no such thing as a safe amount of arsenic in water, but the removal of those is costly, so therefore we have standards which allow trace amounts of those,” Griffiths says.

Listen to NPR’s interview with Dr. Griffiths.

Pennell and Collaborators Receive NIH/NIMH Grant to Study Environmental Exposures in Autism Spectral Disorders

Kurt Pennell, Chair of Civil and Environmental Engineering

Kurt Pennell, Chair of Civil and Environmental Engineering

Professor and Chair Kurt Pennell and collaborators received an NIH/NIMH grant for an environment-wide association study in autism spectrum disorders (ASD) using novel bioinformatics methods and metabolomics via mass spectrometry. ASD is influenced by both genetic and environmental risk factors. The research team, including Dr. Sek Won Kong at Boston Children’s Hospital and Professor Dean Jones at Emory University, includes experts in pediatrics, environmental epidemiology/chemistry, toxicology, metabolomics and bioinformatics to address environmental contributions to ASD.

Fantini Named AIMBE Fellow

Professor Sergio Fantini

Professor Sergio Fantini (BME) was elected to the American Institute for Medical and Biological Engineering (AIMBE) College of Fellows for “outstanding contributions to the development of quantitative techniques for diffuse optical spectroscopy and imaging of biological tissue.” He is a member of the Biomedical Engineering Society (BMES), the Optical Society of America, and SPIE, the International Society for Optical Engineering. Fantini has recently developed a new optical diagnostic technology, Coherent Hemodynamics Spectroscopy (CHS), for non-invasive assessment of brain perfusion. In January 2016, Cambridge University Press published “Quantitative Biomedical Optics”, a textbook Fantini co-authored with Professor Irving Bigio of Boston University. Fantini joins Professors David Kaplan, BME department chair and Stern Family Professor, Irene Georgakoudi, and Kyongbum Lee, as the most recent Tufts School of Engineering faculty member to be elected AIMBE Fellow.

Bootcamp Supports Future Engineering Leaders

In January, selected doctoral students participated in the Future Leaders of Engineering Teaching Fellows Boot Camp. The weeklong boot camp is part of a broader Tufts program supported by the National Science Foundation. These Engineering Teaching Fellows will become future leaders in our academic communities, promoting use of appropriate teaching pedagogies that create an inclusive classroom environment. Not only will they be excellent researchers in their chosen discipline area, they will also be excellent teachers that utilize learner-centered techniques to convey the excitement and potential of engineering to students.

01/13/2016 - Medford, Mass. - Participants in the Future Leaders of Engineering Teaching-Fellows Boot Camp, top row from left, associate professor Luisa Chiesa, graduate students Lisa Pinals, Meera Punjiya, Whitney Crooks, Jessica Swenson and Abbie Licht, and professors Karen Panetta and Tom Vandervelde, bottom row from left, graduate students Maggie Stevens, Annalise Blum, Anna Murray, Margaret Garcia and Nicole Pfiester Latham, pose for a photo at Halligan Hall on Jan. 13, 2016. (Kelvin Ma/Tufts University)

01/13/2016 – Medford, Mass. – Participants in the Future Leaders of Engineering Teaching-Fellows Boot Camp, top row from left, associate professor Luisa Chiesa, graduate students Lisa Pinals, Meera Punjiya, Whitney Crooks, Jessica Swenson and Abbie Licht, and professors Karen Panetta and Tom Vandervelde, bottom row from left, graduate students Maggie Stevens, Annalise Blum, Anna Murray, Margaret Garcia and Nicole Pfiester Latham, pose for a photo at Halligan Hall on Jan. 13, 2016. (Kelvin Ma/Tufts University)

Tufts Venture Lab Named one of the Coolest Boston Startup Workspaces

BostonInno.com named Tufts Venture Lab among the coolest new startup accelerator spaces in Boston.

Lesser known than other schools’ startup spaces – and I have no idea why because the space looks awesome – is the Venture Lab at Tufts. And now that I’ve seen pictures of this place, I’m eager to stop by and see it in person.

“Tufts University’s Venture Lab, part of the Tufts Entrepreneurship Center, provides dedicated space in the university’s brand new Collaborative Learning and Innovation Complex to Tufts start-ups,” Patrick Collins, deputy director of PR at Tufts, noted.

“The complex houses interdisciplinary research and teaching labs, office and lounge space, and informal learning and meeting spaces with whiteboards, video conferencing, storage space, office supplies and a steady supply of mentorship,” Collins continued. “At any given time, there are 16 start-ups (from freshmen to faculty) using the Venture Lab and countless more using the shared collaborative spaces available to all students.”

Hassoun Wins Ideas Competition Award

Professor Soha Hassoun, department chair of Computer Science

Professor and Chair Soha Hassoun was one of three recipients of an 2015 Ideas Competition award. The Ideas Competition, hosted by Tufts Gordon Institute, is designed for early-stage business ideas. Hassoun’s project “TRAG: At-Home Diagnostics System and App for Tracking the Gut Microbiota” seeks to allow individuals to easily and frequently track and assess the impact of diet, including prebiotics and probiotics, on the gut microbiota. “The global market for prebiotics and probiotics is expected to grow steadily in the next 5 years,” says Hassoun. “There is currently no sure way of predicting and tracking the benefits of these products.”
Learn more about the Ideas Competition and enter the Tufts $100K New Ventures Competition.

Rogers Interviewed by CNC Machine Company

Professor Chris Rogers, department chair of Mechanical Engineering

Professor and Chair Chris Rogers was interviewed about his educational philosophy by Owen Smithyman, a blogger for Other Machine Co., a company that produces CNC machines.

Read more of the “LEGO and Super Soakers” interview:

What are some things that you do in your Mechanical Engineering classes to ensure that students learn the material, that you would like to see more of in higher education?

Nonstandard projects. We always talk about people trying to get the “right” answer, which would be a solution diversity of zero — everybody having the same answer — as opposed to giving a problem where people can come up with their own answers.

One year in my robotics class, the problem was to build robots that play acoustic instruments. And so there were robots that played the bagpipes, the trombone, the mandolin, the piano, the xylophone, the ukulele. Because there are all these different solutions, they’re all learning different skills, and then they teach them to each other.

So instead of trying to have everybody learn the same information, how can we develop courses where everybody learns different information and learns how to talk to each other and leverage each other, just like we do in the business world? Why do we want everybody to learn the exact same thing in Fluids class or in Controls class or whatever? Wouldn’t it be far more powerful if we taught them how to talk to one another but then had them specialize and have their own expertise and have different projects?