Northeastern University has appointed Dr. Carla E. Brodley as dean of the College of Computer and Information Science, effective Aug. 1, 2014.
Brodley comes to Northeastern from Tufts University, where she is currently professor of computer science with a secondary appointment in the Clinical and Translational Science Institute of the Tufts Medical Center. From 2010 through 2013 she chaired the Department of Computer Science at Tufts.
She is an internationally recognized researcher in machine learning and knowledge discovery in databases who has applied her expertise to problems in personalized and evidence-based medicine, medical imaging, neuroscience, remote sensing, and computer security. A widely published scholar, her research has been funded by a wide range of federal agencies, corporations and foundations, among them the National Science Foundation, the National Institutes of Health, NASA, DARPA, IBM, and the Multiple Sclerosis Society.
“A leader in computing research, Dr. Brodley’s achievements have contributed greatly to the advancement of the changing field of computer science,” said Stephen W. Director, provost and senior vice president for academic affairs. “An accomplished leader and scholar, she will take Northeastern’s leadership in computer science to the next level-both within and beyond CCIS.”
Brodley serves on the boards of the International Machine Learning Society and DARPA’s Information Science and Technology Board. Among her many professional recognitions, she has received an NSF CAREER Award and memberships to the Defense Science Study Group of DARPA and the AAAI Executive Council.
“Northeastern is a university on the move and I am thrilled to be joining as the next dean of the College of Computer and Information Science,” Brodley said. “In today’s information driven age it is more important than ever to integrate computing and information science into every academic field. I look forward to working with faculty, staff, and students to build upon the great momentum that has already made CCIS one of the nation’s most exciting interdisciplinary colleges.”
She is also a member of the editorial boards of Machine Learning, Journal of Machine Learning Research, and Data Mining and Knowledge Discovery. She is co-chairing the 2014 conference of the Association for the Advancement of Artificial Intelligence and from 2008–2011 co-chaired the Committee on the Status of Women in Computing Research.
Brodley was awarded the bachelor’s degree in mathematics and computer science from McGill University in 1985 and earned her doctorate in computer science from the University of Massachusetts at Amherst in 1994. Prior to joining Tufts, she was on the electrical and computer engineering faculty at Purdue University, where she was honored with the Ruth and Joel Spira Outstanding Teacher award in 1998. In 2010, the University of Massachusetts recognized Brodley with the Alumni award for Outstanding Educator.
In an email to the faculty of CCIS, Director thanked Larry Finkelstein for his outstanding contributions as dean of the college for 12 years. “Larry’s dedication to the college and to the university, in addition to his strong leadership throughout his tenure as dean, has been key in helping the college achieve the level of excellence it enjoys today,” he wrote.
On Friday, Michael Ravert, CIS’16, attempted to answer a question many Bostonians have postulated for years: can the average person outrun the MBTA’s Green Line?
On that day, the answer was yes. But it was pretty close.
Ravert is currently working on co-op at RunKeeper, a Boston-based company that created a GPS fitness-tracking app. He and three of coworkers raced a trolley on the Green Line’s B branch down Commonwealth Avenue, starting from the Boston College station and ending about four miles away at Blandford Street station near Kenmore Square.
The final result: Ravert crossed the finish line first in a time of 24:08. The trolley made it in 24:49.
“This was an awesome experience,” Ravert said after running. “This was a fun race to do. We did a great job pacing each other.”
RunKeeper and event-organizing website The Boston Calendar coordinated the event, dubbed “Outrun the Green Line.” Ravert said he signed up because it was a great way to get to know his new colleagues better.
“An email was sent out about a month ago and I had just started my co-op so I figured it would be fun,” Ravert said. “I didn’t really think anything of it until a couple weeks ago when the race really started to become popular online.”
RunKeeper created a website for the event where people could monitor the runners’ and the trolley’s progress. The trolley held a sizeable lead on the runners during the first half of the race through the hills of Boston’s Brighton and Allston neighborhoods. But the runners caught up once the road got flatter.
Ravert crossed the finish line as the trolley waited at the intersection of Commonwealth Avenue and Blanford Street. A runner since high school, Ravert said he didn’t run anymore than usual to prepare for the race.
Ravert, who is studying computer science at Northeastern, learned about RunKeeper’s co-op at the university’s co-op fair. A friend suggested he look specifically at RunKeeper because the company combines two of his passions: running and computer science.
On co-op at RunKeeper, Ravert has worked on program development for both Androids and iPhones. He said it’s been a valuable learning experience thus far, particularly because it’s his first foray into iPhone development.
Ravert attributes his work as a tutor and undergraduate teaching assistant in the College of Computer and Information Science with helping prepare him for the co-op. “Teaching others certain programs that we use at RunKeeper helped me to understand them better, as well,” he said.
The Ebola virus has been spreading in West Africa since March, but the current outbreak over the past few weeks has reached new heights and elevated the crisis. More than 650 people have died, and in recent days it was learned that Sierra Leone’s leading Ebola doctor in charge of battling the outbreak has himself contracted the virus. Here, network scientist Alessandro Vespignani, the Sternberg Family Distinguished Professor of Physics at Northeastern who has developed computational models to predict the spread of infectious diseases, discusses the Ebola outbreak. Vespignani holds joint appointments in the College of Science, the Bouvé College of Health Sciences, and the College of Computer and Information Science.
What sparked the recent surge of the Ebola outbreak, and could it have been predicted?
Ebola’s outbreaks among human populations usually result from handling infected wild animals. Although the virus reservoir has not yet been identified with certainty, in Africa fruit bats are believed to be the natural hosts for the virus. It is therefore impossible to predict the start of an outbreak, although it is possible to project its unfolding if containment and mitigation policies are not implemented in a timely manner. Human-to-human transmission mostly occurs through blood or bodily fluids from an infected person, thus affecting mostly caregivers in the family or in healthcare settings where the proper cautions aren’t taken. Isolation of cases in well-equipped healthcare settings and the use of rigid protection protocols for handling burial procedures are crucial for the containment of outbreaks.
How is this outbreak different from those that have occurred in the past?
Since March, the World Health Organization has reported more than 1,000 cases of Ebola with a fatality rate of about 60 percent, depending on the specific places. Although previous outbreaks recorded fatality rates of up to 90 percent, this current outbreak is the worst in terms of the number of infected people. This outbreak is somewhat unique also because it has hit major urban areas such as Conakry, the capital city of Guinea. In the past, Ebola has usually emerged in less populated rural regions. Isolation and control in large cities is obviously more challenging. Capital cities are also major transportation hubs for travelers potentially spreading the outbreak in other geographical regions.
Does this outbreak present an international concern and if so, how great is that concern?
The risk of infection for travelers is minimal because infection results from direct contact with sick individuals. However the presence of the disease in major cities with airports introduces the possibility that infected people not yet in the acute stage of the disease are going to get on a plane and spread the virus internationally. This global spreading can be modeled by using human mobility network data. Although we cannot rule out the possibility of cases spreading to major European or American airport hubs, the probability for these events is quite small because the major airports in the region have limited traffic to international destinations. On the other hand, the persistence in time of the outbreak and the growing number of cases are increasing the probability that we might see it spread internationally. The makes it imperative to win the battle in containing the outbreak in the region as soon as possible.