Caught in the act: RISE 2014

Earlier this month was Northeastern University’s Research Innovation and Scholarship Expo. Students from across all disciplines presented their work to the public. If you missed it, I recommend going next year where you can learn about everything from sustainable architecture to robotic bees (a personal favorite). Here’s Lara (a fellow blogger and second from the left) at the event where she served as a judge: She joined a team of judges who evaluated research…

Filming in the intertidal

Concept maps are a visual way to present information about a variety of topics, scientific and otherwise. They are basically an online flow chart that present information in an interactive and engaging way. Fellow blogger Val wrote about grad student efforts to build our own concept maps with the help of the Center for Ocean Sciences Education Excellence. You can check out some public concept maps here. As part of…

Caught in the act! Val’s Master’s defense

Today, one of the MSC’s own and a fellow blogger here, Val Perini, successfully defended her Master’s Thesis! She gave an amazing talk. I even overheard one professor refer to it as the best talk he’s seen (without any qualifiers!). We’re very proud of her and she will be missed dearly as she moves on to life after graduate school. Here’s a photo of her after her public presentation as…

Why do we build robot animals?

When people ask about my grad student research, they’re sometimes taken aback by my response: “I build robot lobsters.”  Upon hearing this far out statement I’m guessing most people envision a mix between Zoidberg, the lobster alien from Futurama, and Big Dog, YouTube’s most popular animal-like robot. I try to give more details so people understand what I actually do but that can be difficult when explaining the science over…

How to print whale bones, robot parts and food

I’ve often heard people talk about written words ‘jumping off of the page’.  This figurative description brings to mind the lyrical dialogue of Jonathan Safron Foer or the vivid detail of JRR Tolkein. But what if ideas were to LITERALLY come off of the page? That’s where 3D printing comes in. The technology allows one to print plastic layers on top of plastic layers in order to form a three…

Caught in the act! Looking at lobster brains

    Even though a lot of the work we do involves robots, some work in our lab involves recording from the neurons in lobster brains. From this neuroscience research we can develop models to run and test on our robots. Here’s Lara looking at a part of the lobster brain (the stomatogastric ganglion) that controls the rhythmic movements of its stomach: And here’s a picture from fellow graduate student…