Emerging research reveals the blurred lines between humans and technology

Using cutting-edge data and analysis, this new book shares the impact of our rapidly growing digitized society.

These new insights into human behavior are just some of the examples coming out of a recently published book detailing the impact of our digitized society. In the increasingly blurred lines between our engagement via technology versus in person, surprising insights are starting to emerge about the power of both language and medium to predict behavior and outcomes.

Northeastern University’s College of Professional Studies Associate Dean of Research, Francesca Grippa, is the co-editor of a recently published book on social computing. The Handbook of Social Computing reveals the intricate patterns of interaction between individuals, machines, and organizations.

Grippa, an expert in digital collaboration tools, human computer interaction and social network analysis, is on the frontlines of research that seeks to explore the shifting landscape of our relationship with technology.

In this most recently published book, she collaborated with a global network of peers from MIT, University of Perugia (Italy) and Kozminski University (Poland).

“The impact of our digitized society on social behavior is accelerating as we adopt new technologies across all areas of our lives,” Grippa said. “We must study the effects of human-machine interaction as they happen in order to comprehend the gains, losses, biases introduced, and the influence on decision-making processes.”

Francesca Grippa

The book covers computer science, AI, sociology, and psychology, exploring social computing from all angles. Delving into social networks, algorithmic decision-making, ethical implications of AI, data privacy, and more, The Handbook showcases how digital technologies can analyze social behavior, interaction patterns, and enhance daily life, making it essential for students, scholars, and professionals in the field of human dynamics and social network analysis.

Faces of CPS

Faces of CPS: Get to know the many diverse people who make up our CPS community 

Faces of CPS: Mohak Jani

“I’ve encountered various obstacles, including time management difficulties, financial constraints, and adapting to a new cultural and academic environment as an international student. I am inspired by the prospect of continuous learning and personal growth that comes with pursuing an advanced degree. “

Connect with Mohak: Instagram 

Faces of CPS: Rhiannon Jacobs

“One challenge I had to overcome while pursuing my master’s was balancing a full time job in addition to a full course load. Being able to successfully manage my time coupled with my interest in the subject matter and applicability to my career allowed me to be successful in both areas.”

Connect with Rhiannon: InstagramFacebook

Faces of CPS: Jhanvi Patel

“This two-year journey took work. Life isn’t always the same and easy as well. Being an international student away from home and family is the starting hurdle of the journey, a new country, new place, and new people made me intimidated by my decision but the strong will to achieve something special by achieving a degree was so strong it overpowered all my worries and always fuel my hope and courage.”

Connect with Jhanvi: LinkedIn

Faces of CPS: Hairani Armaya Doremi

“From a young age, starting at 15, I began working in Indonesia to support my family. Among my peers, I stood out as the one who abstained from alcohol while working as a DJ—a role that harmonized with my abilities to sing, dance, and host events simultaneously. This multi-talented nature set me apart and posed the challenging question of excelling in multiple disciplines at once.”

Connect with Hairani: InstagramLinkedInYouTube

Faces of CPS: Vandna Mehta

“My advice is to dive in wholeheartedly. Education is more than a set of courses; it’s a catalyst for transformation. Be prepared to work hard, be open to learning, and be ready to grow not just as a professional but as a person.”

Connect with Vandna: LinkedIn

Faces of CPS: Dayana Alsamsam

“Dealing with personal challenges is incredibly tough. Being far from family during hard times is one of the biggest challenges I have endured. This experience is molding me into a more resilient person; definitely a growth journey.”

Connections: LinkedinInstagram and Youtube

Faces of CPS: Attrayee Chakraborty

“As a first-generation international student, I didn’t have many connections in the healthcare industry in the US. By attending conferences, workshops and leading the student chapter of the International Society of Pharmaceutical Engineering (ISPE) at Northeastern as the secretary, I established a great network of professionals aligned to my field of study, along with fostering a community for future international students interested in working in healthcare. “

Connect with Attrayee: LinkedIn

Know someone who would make a great Face of CPS?

If you know someone whose profile should be included here, definitely let us know! We’d love to profile them!

Please email your nomination, referring the person you think would make a great Face of CPS with a brief explanation of why you think they’d be a great fit.

Faces of CPS: Chin-Hua Pan

Hailing from Taiwan, Chin-Hua Pan, embarks on a life-changing odyssey at Northeastern, transcending language barriers with confidence and fueled by a passion for UX design.

Embracing this newfound confidence, I actively sought out new experiences at Northeastern. I didn’t shy away from unfamiliar territory, and the resulting achievements further solidified my belief in my abilities.”

Connections: Linkedin

Faces of CPS: Sudhamshu Vidyananda

My journey at Northeastern has helped me to be more resilient, adaptable and to move from my comfort zone. I learnt more about my strengths and how to face the world in a more disciplined way.”

Hailing from Mangalore, Sudhamshu Vidyananda, is embraced by Boston, epitomizes resilience and innovation in his Northeastern journey.

Connections: Linkedin

Faces of CPS: Kartika Ahire

If I have to reflect on the journey at Northeastern, I will say that Resilience, Connections, and Adaptability skills helped me understand myself more.”

Hailing from Nashik, India, Kartika Ahire embraces the diverse and collaborative spirit of Northeastern, forging a path of resilience and adaptability in pursuing Regulatory Affairs, while finding solace in Boston’s vibrant culture and natural beauty.

Connections: Instagram

Faces of CPS: Godfred Afriyie Owusu

Hailing from Ghana and making Boston home, Godfred Afriyie Owusu exemplifies unwavering determination at Northeastern, transcending obstacles with a stubborn commitment to his dreams, fostering innovation in project management.

Your dream about what you can make out of Northeastern should be higher than the obstacles you will face while at Northeastern or elsewhere.”

Connections: Facebook, Instagram, Tiktok, and Twitter

Faces of CPS: Harshal Randad

Hailing from India, Harshal Randad emerges as a transformative force at Northeastern, embodying resilience and seizing opportunities while mastering Project Management, driven by a vision of global impact and continuous growth.

Northeastern University stood out to me for its exceptional course structure and Co-op program, which were among the many factors influencing my decision to attend.”

Connections: Linkedin, Facebook, and Instagram

Faces of CPS: Swapnesh Tiwari

The varied experiences at Northeastern, especially as a student ambassador, including interacting with a diverse student body and participating in global experiences, teach adaptability.”

Hailing from India, Swapnesh Satishkumar Tiwari navigates the complexities of academia at Northeastern with reflective insight, leveraging collaborative learning and resilience, carving a path toward healthcare innovation and professional success.

Connections: Facebook

Faces of CPS: Alessandro Zampi

I liked the Northeastern brand (even though I knew very little about the university) and I liked the subjects it is known for. I also liked what the mascot represents (intelligent, energetic, hardworking).”

Hailing from diverse locales like London, New York, and Boston, Alessandro Zampi won 2024 Staff Excellence Award. A current graduate student in Analytics and Staff Operations Analyst, his dedication enriches both academia and operations.

Connections: Linkedin and Instagram

Faces of CPS: Suqi (Eileen) Wu

Hailing from China, Suqi (Eileen) Wu embodies innovation and creativity. As an alumna of the 2023 MS Digital Media program, she excels as a Product and UX Designer, shaping impactful user experiences globally.

The co-op program and the experiential learning opportunities, I made lots of friends and became a more professional designer because of this experience.”

Connections: Linkedin and Instagram

Faces of CPS: Minfang Wu

Hailing from China, Minfang Wu unfolds her Northeastern University journey, overcoming barriers, pursuing analytics, and aspiring towards tech excellence.

The Northeast offers numerous chances, both in terms of career and geographical advantages. As a student, I appreciate this type of learning environment.”

Connections: Linkedin and Instagram

Faces of CPS: Anthony Alsayed

I was also attracted by the university values and the organizational culture and felt inspired by its leaders and the mission that was based on practical training and research.”

Hailing from Toronto, Anthony Alsayed is the recipient of the 2024 Excellence in Teaching Award, bringing his expertise as a part-time lecturer, enriching students’ learning experiences.

Connections: Linkedin and Facebook

Sanover_Tasneem_CPS

Faces of CPS: Sanover Tasneem

As a first-generation student, I needed financial support for my education and getting an on-campus position was tough. Applying and securing a co-op was also a big hurdle. Overall, CPS has given me a lot of opportunities to showcase my abilities and use the skills from my past work experience in India. I have just been so grateful for all the good things supporting my life and education here.”

Hailing from Jaunpur, India, Sanover Tasneem is a first-generation college student who now calls Boston home, pursuing a Master of Professional Studies in Analytics, she is graduating in June 2024.

Connections: Linkedin and Instagram

Faces of CPS: Vivek Vaghasiya

Hailing from Gujarat, India, Vivek Vaghasiya is pursuing a Master of Professional Studies in Informatics. He is graduating in May 2024.

My journey at Northeastern University has been a revelation, showcasing my resilience and adaptability. After graduation, I aspire to secure a role in data analytics or cloud computing, leveraging the skills acquired during my master’s in professional studies in Informatics. In five years, I envision myself in a leadership position, driving innovative solutions and contributing to the advancement of technology in a dynamic industry.”

Connections: Linkedin

Faces of CPS: Jennifer Chavez

Hailing from Boston, Jennifer Chavez Umana is a first-generation college student balancing full-time work, her coursework at school, and personal growth.

My journey at Northeastern has shown me that I am capable of so much more. I can handle things that I never thought I was able to. Even then sometimes I feel like I still won’t be able to make it through but somehow I always push through.”

Faces of CPS: Christian Cartagena

Being a Northeastern student has been an inspiring journey. Each completed class shows I am not only a step closer to my goal of obtaining a bachelor’s degree but also an achievement added to my collection.”

Hailing from Boston, Christian Cartagena is a first-generation college student pursuing finance, navigating challenges, and finding joy in Boston.

Faces of CPS: Brittni Allen

I chose to join the NU family because I was very excited and intrigued by programs designed to help more students access educational opportunity. I’ve always had a passion for helping other to reach their goals and this position aligned perfectly.”

Hailing from Miami, Brittni Allen is a first-gen college student thrives at Northeastern, driven by her passion for equal opportunities.

Connections: Linkedin

Faces of CPS: Srisha Rajasekar

Hailing from Singapore, Srisha Rajasekar shares her dynamic Northeastern University odyssey, merging academic excellence, regulatory fervor, and personal fulfillment.

The evolving regulatory environment presents an exciting challenge, my motivation lies in the impactful role regulatory affairs plays in shaping the future & ensuring the well-being of individuals.”

Connections: Linkedin

Faces of CPS: Oduenyi Uga

Hailing from Boston having Nigerian-American roots, Oduenyi Uga, shares a transformative journey at Northeastern University, overcoming academic challenges while thriving in the digital communication and media realm.

My journey at Northeastern University has been a profound revelation of my own capabilities and passions. It has underscored the belief that there truly are no limits to what I can achieve when I seize opportunities and commit wholeheartedly.”

Connections: Linkedin, Instagram, and Youtube.

Vivek Vaghasiya

Three words encapsulate your Northeastern University experience:
Transformative | Collaborative | Innovative

Getting a degree while life is happening isn’t always easy. How have you faced and overcome some of these challenges?

Balancing work, family, and studies presented challenges. To overcome, I prioritized tasks, established a routine, and sought support from family and peers. Time management and a strong support system were crucial in navigating these challenges.

What do you do when you aren’t working, studying, or caring for your family?

Beyond my academic pursuits, I find joy in solving Rubik’s cubes, engaging in outdoor activities, and embracing a mindset of continuous learning. Exploring new challenges and gaining insights from various experiences brings fulfillment to my life.

Have you learned anything about yourself along the way?

My journey at Northeastern University has been a revelation, showcasing my resilience and adaptability.

Facing academic challenges while managing other aspects of life, I discovered my ability to prioritize, stay focused, and overcome obstacles. This experience has revealed my capacity for continuous learning and growth, affirming my commitment to academic and personal development.

What advice do you have for others considering higher education — either at Northeastern or elsewhere?

As a student completing my last semester in the Master’s of Professional Studies in Informatics at Northeastern University, my advice for others considering higher education is to fully engage with the learning experience.

Where do you see yourself after graduation?

After graduation, I aspire to secure a role in data analytics or cloud computing, leveraging the skills acquired during my master’s in professional studies in Informatics.

In five years, I envision myself in a leadership position, driving innovative solutions and contributing to the advancement of technology in a dynamic industry.

Call for Proposals: “AI for All” Week, April 1-5

The What.

The Offices of the Provost and Chancellor are organizing a weeklong series of lectures, interactive sessions, and trainings designed for our undergraduate and graduate students across the network to introduce and enhance their knowledge of AI and its many application areas.

“AI for All” week will begin Monday, April 1st with a plenary session. From Tuesday, April 2nd through Thursday, April 4, we want to provide a rich menu of offerings that students will select from across multiple domain areas during 60-80-minute timeslots. While we anticipate most of these will be in 2 sessions from 6:00-9:00 pm Eastern US time, we also encourage events at campuses in other time zones that may be at more appropriate local times. The week will end Friday, April 5 with a closing event to reflect on the sessions and discuss future activities around AI for the university system.

Call for Proposals

We invite faculty and student groups to submit a short proposal to deliver one of the sessions held during the Tuesday through Thursday evening time slots (or at other times, if appropriate). Proposals should describe experiential sessions that will help our students learn about different aspects and applications of AI, showcase faculty expertise and research directions, and student groups engaged in AI-related activities, particularly emphasizing AI in practice. Session content should be 60-80 minutes and can include multiple formats such as collaborations with industry partners and external experts, panel discussions, and hands-on activities.

We will select proposals for sessions that:

Proposals are due by Friday, Feb. 16th using the proposal link. We will route all submissions to the appropriate academic dean, and if the proposer is located at a regional campus, we will also route them to the respective regional dean for review.

Proposers will be notified by Monday, Feb. 26th whether their proposal has been accepted. For those sessions selected, we’ll work closely with the proposer, the academic dean, and the campus dean to ensure scheduling and modality preferences are coordinated.

Please feel free to contact Becky Collet ([email protected]) if you have any questions.

Solution Seeker

Sagar Ashok Daswani (CPS ’20) uses big data to help companies and communities thrive.

“I’ve always been interested in solving problems,” says Sagar. “I especially like business problems. My family liked to talk in numbers.”

In his pre-teen years, Daswani, whose family is in the clothing business, could often be found with a Rubik’s Cube in his hands. In high school in Gujarat, India, he took a coding class, got excited about algorithms, and built his own Sudoku game. In his first year as an undergraduate at Dharamsinh Desai University in Nadiad, India, he learned how to build cloud-hosted websites. Then he noticed that students in the small town where he lived were having trouble accessing books, electronics, lab supplies and other educational materials they needed for school. So, as a sophomore studying computer science, he launched malgadi.co.in, a nonprofit designed to make it easier for students to get such items. With word-of-mouth buzz and a logo depicting a speeding delivery truck trailing Hot Wheels-style flames, the idea soon took off.

“A couple of friends and I saw a problem and said, ‘there needs to be a solution,’” Daswani says. “We programmed it from end to end, building a proper e-commerce website. We managed inventory and projects, and we hired students. Now, people can get these things delivered to their doorstep.”

The experience, Daswani says, was instructive.

“We wanted the thrill of entrepreneurship, and to see how big and small companies put it together and build a great product,” he says. “We converted the startup into a student-entrepreneurs organization, and we recruited students from the junior class. Then we expanded to other colleges. It’s a way for students to learn entrepreneurial skills—soft skills, business strategies, how to handle credit. We had applied what we learned at school to a practical problem.”

The following year, as a senior, Daswani again applied the tools he had gained in an academic setting to generate a business solution. As a software engineering intern at the Indian Space Research Organisation—the Indian equivalent of NASA—he used the Java programming language to engineer a “Monte Carlo” simulation to predict the effect of high-energy solar winds on the functioning and survival of a “sand detection box” inside the planetary-surface exploration devices known as rovers.

“To increase a rover’s lifespan,” Daswani says, “we integrate different materials—gold, copper, aluminum, sand, other things. Then you bombard it with high energy particles to see what will happen: Will the particles get inside? Will they destroy the circuit? To carry that out in real time is very, very expensive. So, I created a simulation, and it reduced the cost by a lot, and they’re going to be using it. It was a fun experience.”

With a bachelor’s degree in hand and several big problem-solving successes under his belt, Daswani’s next goal was to find a graduate school that would support his passion. A cousin who was attending Northeastern suggested he explore the programs at the College of Professional Studies, and when Daswani heard about Northeastern’s commitment to experiential learning, he was instantly intrigued.

“My cousin told me about how, at Northeastern, you get to interact with real-world business problems to help an organization,” Daswani says, “and how there are learning problems you can get your hands onto. I’ve always been interested in practical approaches—not research so much, but business problems. I started at Northeastern right after I finished my undergrad.”

At Northeastern, Daswani says, he decided he wanted to learn more about bridging the gap between technical and business users of technology, and he designed his program of study accordingly. He took courses on the foundations and applications of AI, intermediate and predictive analytics, and data visualization—anything that he thought might help him learn about the practical applications of big data. He participated in no less than four real-world projects, building his skills by helping a medical device company optimize its freight system, digitizing historical documents for a nonprofit, using big data to assess startup survival for a crowdfunding company, and working with a blockchain and healthcare company to provide solutions for their client physicians.

He also started to make connections.

“One of the great things that happened at Northeastern,” Daswani says, “is that I was introduced to so many different professors—not only in the College of Professional Studies, but across the University.”

That, he says, stood him in good stead when he and other students wanted to start a campus organization to encourage and support the exploration of artificial intelligence and machine learning. The result, AI Skunkworks at Northeastern University, came about through a collaboration among students and faculty. On its website, the organization describes itself as “a group of people who research and develop Artificial Intelligence, Machine Learning, and Deep Learning projects primarily for the sake of innovation and learning.” With the support of the University, the group provides members (who playfully refer to themselves as “skunks”) with open-mics, mentorship opportunities, workshops, seminars, hack-a-thons, and other events exploring the implications and potential of artificial intelligence, machine learning, and Deep Learning, a subset of machine learning that involves artificial neural networks driven by algorithms and is a special interest of Daswani’s.

“I delivered a workshop myself on neural networks and concepts of deep learning,” he says. “That was an opportunity to bring my expertise and share it with other students and help them learn more about it.”

He also organized a NASA space hackathon and, in the course of these and other projects, Daswani’s leadership skills and commitment to the Northeastern community earned him a nomination for Outstanding Graduate Student.

Those qualities—and his technical abilities—have not gone unrecognized in the wider world. Soon after graduating from the College of Professional Studies with a master’s degree in Analytics, Daswani applied for and landed a job as a junior software engineer and data scientist with Lattice Automation, a Boston startup that designs customized software for companies involved in synthetic biology.

“Our work at Lattice,” Daswani says, “is to build lab-automation software that helps scientists make the best use of data, so they can track performance and see what’s going on inside the lab. My role is to help build dashboards to provide the best possible interactive environment for biotech companies—it’s software for data scientists.”

The experiential learning model that he had encountered at the College of Professional Studies, Daswani says, is what prepared him for the job.

I got exposure to this kind of work through my capstone project at Northeastern, where I built a website that lets users visualize how a startup is performing and evaluate the chances of its survival, based on patterns in the historical data. This particular job also demanded that expertise, and I had experience working on a real project in the capstone. They liked that.”

The opportunity to participate in that kind of hands-on learning, Daswani says, is what led him to Northeastern in the first place. But he was also impressed by the diversity of the community he found there.

“I got a chance to work with people from many different backgrounds and cultures,” Daswani says. “In every company in the U.S. right now, there are people from different places, and it’s a great start to be interacting with different people to get to know more about their side of the story, their perspective. Being able to look at the bigger picture helps with any kind of work.”

So, what’s next for Daswani?

“I’m still new in this professional world,” he says, “so I’m not sure yet. But eventually I think I’d like to start my own company, where I can leverage AI, solve business problems, and bring value to the community. I’ve always been curious to implement what I learn academically in real time, to see how it can actually help to make change for a company—or in the world.”