Announcing Spring 2024 AJC Merit Research Scholars

Several engineering students and students mentored by COE faculty are recipients of the Spring 2024 AJC Merit Research Scholars, which funds a co-op in the laboratory of a Northeastern University STEM faculty member.

Joseph AllenKris DorseyAJC Merit Research Scholar: Joseph Allen E’26, Computer Engineering/Physics
Mentor: Associate Professor Kris Dorsey, ECE/Bouve

Joseph (Joey) Allen will be working in the PARSES Lab led by Professor Kris Dorsey as an AJC Merit Research Scholar this spring. He will be working on a project exploring jamming actuation techniques such as layer jamming for the use of variable stiffness materials in soft robotics. He hopes to study the widespread applications of soft reconfigurable transducers, including wearable devices for human health. As a Computer Engineering & Physics major, Joey wants to apply his interdisciplinary interests and knowledge from classes to advance the field of soft robotics. Prior to this co-op, Joey has worked as a teaching assistant and as an intern in the Department of Public Works. This is Joey’s first experience in research and he hopes to gain research and engineering skills as well as learn more about robotic design and physical modeling. Joey looks forward to becoming a part of the scientific community at Northeastern and wishes to learn more about graduate study in engineering or physics. Outside of class, Joey participates in intramural soccer and enjoys being outside, watching movies, and listening to music.

Matthew CoughlinXiaoyu TangAJC Merit Research Scholar: Matthew Coughlin E’25, Mechanical Engineering
Mentor: Assistant Professor Xiaoyu Tang, MIEMatthew Coughlin is excited to join the Multiphase Transport Research Lab, led by Professor Xiaoyu Tang, as an AJC Merit Research Scholar this spring. He will study viscous fingering instability in non-Newtonian fluids. An unstable interface defined by finger-shaped protrusions develops when a less viscous fluid displaces a more viscous fluid. This phenomenon is known as viscous fingering instability. Most existing research addresses the case when both displacing and displaced fluids are Newtonian. Observations and published literature indicate that fingering instability in the Newtonian and non-Newtonian case are distinct. The objective of this co-op is to identify and study the controlling physics of viscous fingering instability in non-Newtonian fluids. A mechanical engineering major and math minor, Matthew’s enthusiasm for this co-op stems from his interest in understanding the mechanics of fluid behavior from a mathematical perspective. Prior to this co-op, Matthew completed two Research Experience for Undergraduates (REU) programs. One was in the University of Delaware Quantum Materials and Engineering Lab, where he authored code to perform quantum experiments, and the second was in the Stanford University Nanoheat Lab, where he used high heat fluxes to study the thermomechanical properties of liquid metals. After graduation, Matthew hopes to continue his research career and attend graduate school. Outside of classes and co-ops, Matthew is an avid skier, an active member in the club AeroNU, and heavily involved in the Student Government Association as the Executive Vice President of the undergraduate student body.
Maxwell HeSrirupa ChakrabortyAJC Merit Research Scholar: Maxwell He Khoury’25, Computer Science/Biology
Mentor: Assistant Professor Srirupa Chakraborty, ChE/COSMaxwell He will join the Simulation of Biomolecular Systems lab led by Professor Srirupa Chakraborty. At SimBioSys, he will utilize machine learning and molecular dynamics (MD) simulation techniques to elucidate the antibody-antigen relationships of viral proteins. The focus of this research has the potential to improve vaccine development, with computational analysis development for refractory glycosylated systems that are difficult to measure experimentally. As a computer science and biology student, he has had a variety of interdisciplinary experiences leading up to the AJC Merit Scholars Co-op, including previous wet lab work at the mPIRE lab with Dr. Lykourinou, studying the effect of metallopeptide binding in Alzheimer’s progression. He has also been a teaching assistant for the Biology Project lab course and tutors through Northeastern’s peer tutoring program, both of which serve as sources of inspiration to pursue research at the undergraduate level. Last spring, he was involved with Oasis, a software incubator, creating optimized web apps to compare healthy eating options. Outside of research, he serves as the secretary of the club badminton team and plays for the collegiate chess team.
Molly JohnsonCarolyn Lee ParsonsAJC Merit Research Scholar: Molly Johnson E’25, Bioengineering/Biochemistry
Mentor: Associate Professor Carolyn Lee-Parsons, ChE/COSMolly Johnson will return to the Lee-Parsons Lab, led by Professor Carolyn Lee-Parsons, to optimize the production and extraction methods for the anti-cancer drugs vinblastine and vincristine from the C. roseus plant. This optimization will be done by developing transgenic C. roseus plants with increased levels of vinblastine and vincristine’s precursors, vindoline and catharanthine, and by improving the enzymatic conversion of the precursors to increase the production of the anti-cancer drugs. This co-op project has the potential to make two highly in-demand and expensive drugs mass-producible and widely available to cancer patients. As a bioengineering/biochemistry combined major with a passion for marine science, Molly has previously completed research at the Ocean Genome Legacy Center on methods of DNA preservation for marine species and assisted in research at Northeastern’s Geisinger Lab on the cellular division of the bacteria A. baumannii. Molly hopes to expand her research and laboratory skills and foster connections with the scientific community at Northeastern during this co-op. Upon graduation, Molly plans to gain a PhD in the marine science field and go on to conduct research on oceanography and the impacts of climate change on the ocean. In her free time, Molly is a member of Northeastern’s Huskiers and Outing Club and enjoys hiking, climbing, and sailing.
Georgios VassilakisJuner ZhuAJC Merit Research Scholar: Georgios Vassilakis COS’25, Applied Physics
Mentor: Assistant Professor Juner Zhu, MIEGeorgios (George) Vassilakis will join the Juner Zhu Group, led by Professor Juner Zhu, as an AJC Merit Research Scholar to create physics-informed neural networks to solve the governing equations of solid-state batteries (SSBs), which is part of a research project funded by NASA’s Ames Research Center. Solid-state batteries have the potential to revolutionize clean energy with up to 50%-250% higher energy density, improved safety, and longer lifespans compared to traditional liquid electrolyte-based batteries. By using neural networks to model these governing equations, we can integrate and enhance our understanding across different scales – from micro to macro – efficiently bridging the gap between experimental data and theoretical physics, leading to more accurate predictions and innovative solutions for these SSBs. Last year, George completed his first co-op at Northeastern’s Cosmology Group, working with Professor Jacqueline McCleary on galaxy cluster-level weak gravitational lensing analysis for NASA’s SuperBIT Telescope. As an honors Applied Physics student with a concentration in Astrophysics, George is deeply engaged in utilizing AI and Machine Learning to enhance and revolutionize astrophysical research on both observational and instrumentation/hardware levels. Following graduation, he intends to obtain a PhD in Astronomy/Astrophysics with this focus in mind. Outside of research and classes, George is a competition member of the Northeastern Club Olympic Weightlifting Team and loves playing guitar, being outside, and watching movies.


Related Departments:Chemical Engineering, Electrical & Computer Engineering, Mechanical & Industrial Engineering