Research Pop-Up Open Lab

Northeastern’s Sixth Pop Up Open Lab Experience & Reception…

Aha! Making Sense from Big Data

Brought to you by the Office of the Provost.

Inviting faculty and students to drop in, meet, eat and experience colleagues’ research. Featuring interactive demos from Northeastern University interdisciplinary research teams that are working to make sense from Big Data, including:

Alex Vespignani (Physics / Health Sciences / Computer & Information Science)

Professor Alex Vespignani and his team at the MOBS Lab have developed a computational model using big data that allows them to visualize the spread of the disease. The global epidemic and mobility model, GLEAM, combines real-world data on populations and human mobility with elaborate models of disease transmission. It delivers forecasting power that can address the challenges faced in developing intervention strategies. Professor Vespignani will showcase how his team’s computational models can predict the progression of the virus, and assess the effectiveness of travel restrictions.


David Lazer (Political Science/Computer & Information Science)

Politics leaves lots of clues in big data– how money is mobilized, who is influencing whom, and what are the talking points being provided to politicians. We will focus our discussion on the invisible networks of politics, and how big data can make them visible.

Lazer Lab  

Dietmar Offenhuber (Art + Design/Public Policy & Urban Affairs)

This work aims at developing methods for visualizing invisible infrastructures — including, but not limited to municipal garbage systems — and exploring its implications for urban governance. A specific focus is placed on informal waste systems and the development of gentle technologies for integrating these informal networks of waste pickers and cooperatives into a larger waste management strategy.

Dietmar Offenhuber  

Ryan Cordell (English) and David Smith (Computer & Information Science)

The Viral Texts project is developing theoretical models that will help scholars better understand what qualities—both textual and thematic—helped particular news stories, short fiction, and poetry “go viral” in nineteenth-century newspapers and magazines. During this period, texts published in newspapers and magazines were not typically protected as intellectual property, and so literary texts as well as other non-fiction prose texts circulated promiscuously among newspapers as editors freely reprinted materials borrowed from other venues. In this project, we’re asking: What texts were reprinted and why? How did ideas—literary, political, scientific, economic, religious—circulate in the public sphere and achieve critical force among audiences?

Viral Texts  

Edward Beighley (Civil & Environmental Engineering)

Since the early 2000’s, there has been a suite of Earth observing satellites providing global measurements of the terrestrial hydrologic cycle such as precipitation, soil moisture, and river/lake surface elevations. Although the sensors on these satellites provide global, multi-decadal, time series of unique hydrologic quantities, variations in sensor technologies, satellite orbits, space-time measurement resolutions, and data formats combined with the massive data volumes, represent a significant challenge when integrating multi-satellite data into a single application such as detecting trends in regional water availability. In this research, we integrate point, swath and regional satellite measurements to quantify the hydrologic cycle and investigate trends in water resources over Central Africa, where in-situ measurements are inadequate or not available. This research is performed in the Hydro-Geo-Spatial (HGS) Laboratory where in-situ and remotely sensed measurements, spatial/temporal data analyses, climate and land cover change forecasts, and hydrologic modeling are integrated to characterize the magnitude and variability of terrestrial water stores and fluxes at local, regional and global scales to support the design of sustainable resilient water resources and wet infrastructure.

Hydro-Geo-Spatial Research Lab  

Kristian Kloeckl (Art + Design/Architecture)

Two projects by Kristian Kloeckl developed together with colleagues at MIT illustrate creative work at the intersection of digital systems data and physical objects and space. Urban systems data are made accessible in the form of informative interactive visualizations allowing people to explore a city through the eyes of data. Over the past years, much of our environment has been pervaded by networks and systems that generate digital bits as part of their operations (think of public transport electronic ticketing systems, telecommunication services, the electricity grid, logistic operations, etc.). Massive amounts of data are being generated by these systems at every instance and they are closely related to human activity. This phenomenon is not only changing the way we explore our environment, moreover opening up new possibilities for how we develop tools for people to design, manage and experience systems in our everyday lives. Kristian Kloeckl looks at urban data as a new kind of material to work with in constructing experiences when interacting with and in digitally mediated spaces, objects, and information.

Kristian Kloeckl  

Holly Jimison (Computer & Information Science/Nursing) and Misha Pavel (Computer & Information Science/Health Sciences)

Many of us have started to track our steps, sleep quality, location, blood pressure, and weight using many new types of sensors that are available for monitoring. How do we put it all together in a meaningful way that can help us adhere to our health goals? Our exhibit demonstrates several approaches to using computational methods to model important health states of patients in the home. These examples focus on applications used to help older adults maintain their health and independence. The monitoring data and feedback algorithms enable a remote health coach to tailor health interventions to individual older adults. The system also lets family members at a distance stay involved and help in a meaningful way.

Consortium for Technology  

David Kaeli (Electrical & Computer Engineering)

Supported with funding from the National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences’ Superfund Research Program, The PROTECT Center studies exposure to environmental contamination in Puerto Rico and its contribution to preterm birth. Through integrated analytical, mechanistic, epidemiology, fate-transport, and remediation studies, along with a centralized, indexed data repository, PROTECT will deliver new knowledge and technology in the area of contaminants of interest to the Superfund Research Program as a potential cause of preterm birth. The Data Management and Modeling Core (DMMC) provides the efficient collection, cleaning and effective management of the biomedical, xenobiotic, demographic and environmental data being collected and analyzed across the PROTECT project.


James McGrath (English), Julia Flanders (English/Libraries), and Ryan Cordell (English)

This is a community project hosted by Northeastern and its NULab for Texts, Maps, and Networks. Our Marathon is a collection of thousands of stories, photos, videos, and social media content related to the 2013 Boston Marathon bombings and their aftermath. Featured content includes The Boston City Archives Collection, a collection of letters sent to the City of Boston, as well as posters and other items left at the Copley Square Memorial, The WBUR Oral History Project, a series of long-form interviews with individuals directly impacted by these events, and a series of interactive exhibits allowing site visitors to explore various facets of the archive. Our Marathon believes that “no story is too small,” and we hope to highlight some of the ways that sharing these stories and preserving them in a digital archive will help the Boston community and those interested in its history for years to come.

Our Marathon  

Elizabeth Hopwood (English), Benjamin, J.Doyle (English), and Elizabeth Dillon (English)

The Early Caribbean Digital Archive (ECDA) is a digital humanities project through the NULab: for Texts, Maps, and Networks at Northeastern University. The ECDA is entering into an exciting phase of project development that includes both the building of a digital knowledge lab and scholars’ commons and the developing of a core tool for automating TEI markup through natural language processing. The ECDA seeks to engage scholars and students in a shared, critical study of the textual, material, and cultural histories of the Caribbean by providing them with innovative digital technologies and platforms for generating new and understudied knowledge of the Caribbean’s rich body of materials. Our poster presentation will emphasize how the archive functions as a working lab through which a diverse population can not only access materials but interact and use them while developing and building the project as a whole. The practice of digitizing and performing digital analyses of these materials raises important questions about digital humanities methodologies and technologies as well as practical questions regarding the establishment of cross–cultural, transnational, multi-institutional, trans-disciplinary partnerships in the building of such a massive project.


Last Updated on January 5, 2021