Research Magazine 2010

From the Vice President and
Associate Provost for Research

Andrei E. Ruckenstein

Andrei E. Ruckenstein

Welcome to Research at Boston University 2010. In this issue, you will meet more than 45 faculty members whose work exemplifies the enterprising, interdisciplinary, and international spirit of research at BU. Their diverse projects—on subjects ranging from cancer to the role of calligraphy in 19th-century Chinese political life, epilepsy to the evolution of the Milky Way—offer a glimpse into the vibrant scientific, scholarly, and creative endeavors now engaging our students at the undergraduate and graduate levels, as well as our faculty and research staff across BU’s 17 schools and colleges on two campuses.

The stories in this magazine highlight Boston University’s commitment to supporting scholarly activities and research in all their varied forms, including both individual efforts in particular departments and collaborative projects that stretch across two or more academic disciplines, or even across institutional, national, and international boundaries. Moreover, these efforts cover a broad range of topics in basic and applied sciences, STEM fields, arts, humanities, and social sciences.

What is more difficult to capture within the magazine-story-format is the intrinsically dynamic and unpredictable nature of the research process—from the initial idea to the “eureka” moment of discovery to the published results. It is the roller coaster of fits and starts, together with the excitement of uncovering new truths while venturing into uncharted territories, that gives the research process its indescribable sense of exhilaration. This unpredictable process of discovery can be as informative as the final destination, and can often lead researchers in an entirely new and promising direction of inquiry. At BU we aspire to go beyond providing support for and facilitating the end point of research: our goal is to empower our faculty, research staff, and students to dream and take risks at every point of the research process defining the path to discovery, a goal symbolized by the “what if” theme of this year’s Research cover.

All aspects featured in this year’s magazine—the focus on integrating scholarly activities and research with our educational mission; the entrepreneurial, collaborative spirit of our faculty, staff, and students in developing programs within the University and in building partnerships outside of the institution; and a global engagement with industry, government, and academia focused on translating basic ideas into applications for societal good—are a reflection of Boston University’s vitality and its ascending trajectory into the top tier of major research universities.