Town meetings focus on aspects of Academic Initiative Plan

By Kate Augusto

The Fundamental and Translational Research planning committee held an open meeting yesterday afternoon to gather suggestions of ways to improve academic research at Northeastern. More interdisciplinary research, competitive graduate programs and greater research opportunities for untenured professors were among some of the suggestions by about 30 faculty members who attended the meeting.

Their suggestions will be considered when the committee proposes its part of the Academic Initiative Plan, which is being developed and will work toward moving Northeastern ahead in the collegiate world.

The committee’s chair Ahmed Busnaina said the goal of the committee was to see how Northeastern could improve research in both the social sciences and hard sciences.

“We are looking for suggestions to fix the barriers that stand in our way to being an excellent research university and excelling in fundamental research,” Busnaina said at the meeting.

Sri Sridhar, vice provost for research, said the purpose of the project is to think about where the university should be in the next several years and evaluate strengths and weaknesses.

Suggestions from the audience also included fostering collegiate support and allocating joint space and resources for research in different academic areas. Although the audience was mostly faculty from science departments, Busnaina said the team will promote research in all academic departments. The team consists of 17 members ranging from science and liberal arts professors to administration and undergraduate and graduate students.

Joanne Miller, a psychology professor and team member, assured the audience that interdisciplinary research was a main issue, and said, “we do not want to only make the strong stronger.”

Busnaina said undergraduate research was a focus too.

“Quality research cannot happen without undergraduate students who get involved,” she said. He also said quality undergraduate students make quality graduate students. Although there were no undergraduates in the audience Tuesday, Busnaina said anyone with comments or suggestions can post them on their website at

The other committees – Creative, Aesthetic and Ethical Dimensions, Urban and Global Dimensions and Experiential Learning – will hold presentations throughout the next two weeks.

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