Discover how your work is part of the conversation

We are excited to announce another year of “Research on Tap” events. These gatherings, each organized by a different faculty member, will bring together groups of BU researchers focused on a specific topic. Each participant will present a three-minute micro-talk on his/her work. Attend these wine and cheese receptions to network with your colleagues and perhaps meet your next research collaborator.

Please note: “Research on Tap” events are for faculty, staff, graduate students, and postdoctoral scholars.


Spring 2019

Understanding and Improving our Urban Climate

Monday, January 28, 2019 | 4-6 pm
Florence and Chafetz Hillel House
Bay State & Castle Rooms
213 Bay State Rd

Hosted by Lucy Hutyra, Co-Director, Urban Climate Research Initiative, and Associate Professor, Earth & Environment, CAS; and Patrick Kinney, Co-Director, Urban Climate Research Initiative, and Beverly A. Brown Professor for the Improvement of Urban Health, Environmental Health, SPH

By mid-century, seven of every ten people are projected to reside in an urban area. The concentration of infrastructure, fossil fuel emissions, and people make cities the epicenter for both climate impacts and solutions. This session highlights the new Urban Climate Research Initiative working to galvanize faculty from across the university to advance our basic scientific understanding and improve the health and livability of our cities. In this session, hosted by Lucy Hutyra, Associate Professor, Earth & Environment, CAS, and Patrick Kinney, Professor, Environmental Health, faculty from across the University discuss their research on the physical, biological, chemical, social, and policy aspects of our urban climate.


Coastal Cities, People, and Waterways

Monday, February 4, 2019 | 4-6 pm
Photonics Colloquium Room, 9th Floor
8 St. Mary’s Street

Hosted by Tony Janetos, Director, Frederick S. Pardee Center for the Study of the Longer-Range Future; and Professor, Earth & Environment, CAS

The world’s river basins and coastal cities are directly influenced by the people who live, work, and play on the water and in the surrounding landscapes. This session will feature brief presentations by BU faculty whose research focuses on some aspect of the interactions between people and waterways and coastal cities in various geographies. From the Amazon Basin to Southeast Asia and Indonesia to coastal New England, BU researchers are working to better understand the important, intrinsic connections and mutual influences between humans and inland waterways and urban areas on the coast.


The American City: Promoting Inclusion or Sowing Division?

Wednesday, February 27, 2019 | 4-6 pm
Kilachand Center
610 Commonwealth Ave.

Hosted by the Initiative on Cities.

U.S. cities are places of tremendous diversity that can provide paths to prosperity, promote inclusion and improve well-being. Yet cities must also confront a countervailing narrative as they continue to struggle with discrimination, segregation, addiction and violence. The American City brings together scholars from across Boston University devoted to the study of urban populations, policies and leadership. They will share their latest comparative research on the benefits and consequences of housing, health, public safety, education and inclusion policies and priorities.


High Tech and High Touch: Digital Innovations from BU’s Mobile and Electronic Health-ARC

Wednesday, March 20, 2019 | 4-6 pm
Trustee Ballroom
1 Silber Way, 9th Floor

Hosted by Belinda Borrelli, Professor, Health Policy & Health Services Research, and Director, Center for Behavioral Science Research, SDM; and Director and PI, Mobile and Electronic Health-ARC

Mobile and Electronic Health provides an unprecedented opportunity to prevent, assess, inform, and treat health behaviors across large segments of the population. Platforms include text messaging, apps, wearables, sensors, social media, gaming, virtual reality and robotics.  The benefits of mHealth interventions include their availability and accessibility, cost-effective delivery, scalability, ability to personalize and tailor content, facilitation of patient-provider communication, coordination of patient care across systems, and provision of evidenced-based treatment in real-time and in real-world settings. The mission of the Mobile & Electronic Health ARC (ME-ARC) is to conduct transdisciplinary research and training in mobile and electronic health to improve health across the lifespan, particularly among the most vulnerable populations. The ME-ARC is comprised of a PI/Director (Belinda Borrelli), two Co-Directors (Lisa Quintiliani, Tibor Palfai), a steering committee, an external advisory board, trainees, and over 100 member affiliates across numerous schools at Boston University. Steering committee members have expertise in: implementation science, behavioral science, medicine, informatics/bioinformatics, software development, health literacy, engineering, and global health.  Since January 2016, the ME-ARC has hosted invited speakers at monthly seminars, held yearly symposiums, and funded and conducted pilot projects. The ME-ARC coalesces mobile health resources and researchers at Boston University. This Research on Tap will highlight some of the many innovative projects in mobile and electronic health at Boston University.


Mechanobiology: How Force and Stretch Shape Life

Tuesday, April 2, 2019 | 4-6 pm
Photonics Colloquium Room, 9th Floor
8 St. Mary’s Street

Co-hosted by Elise MorganProfessor, Department of Mechanical Engineering; Division of Materials Science & Engineering; and Department of Biomedical Engineering

Co-hosted by Katya Ravid, Professor, Medicine and Biochemistry, School of Medicine; and Director, Interdisciplinary Biomedical Research Office (IBRO)

Mechanobiology is the study of how physical cues, such as force and stretch, affect biological processes. Physical cues play important and often diverse roles in the inner workings of cells, collective actions of cells, interactions between cells and their extracellular matrix, and basic functions of organs. In this session, faculty from across both campuses of the university will discuss their research on understanding fundamental phenomena in mechanobiology and the applications of this understanding to diagnosis and treatment of disease.



Are you looking for a Boston University faculty expert? See our table of past Research on Tap speakers and their presentation titles.

Past Sessions

Lighting the Way: Current Research at the BU Photonics Center
September 28, 2015

The inaugural Research on Tap, hosted by Tom Bifano, Professor, Mechanical Engineering, and Director, Photonics Center, honored the United Nations’ International Year of Light and featured the BU Photonics Center.

See slides from “Lighting the Way” | View program

Air, Earth, and Water: Elements of Health and the Urban Environment
October 15, 2015

Hosted by Graham Wilson, Professor, Political Science, and Director, Initiative on Cities; and Katharine Lusk, Executive Director, Initiative on Cities. This session explored research currently conducted by faculty across the University who are studying cities from an inter- and multi-disciplinary approach, evaluating complex challenges from the perspective of law, environment, engineering, management, cultural studies, medicine, and public health.

See slides from “Air, Earth, and Water” | View program

Combatting Disease, Pursuing Cures: Infectious Diseases Research at BU
November 11, 2015

Hosted by Ronald Corley, Professor and Chair, Microbiology, and Director, National Emerging Infectious Diseases Laboratories (NEIDL). This event featured BU infectious disease experts at the forefront of research of illnesses that are – or have the potential to become – major public health concerns and presented the cutting edge diagnostics, vaccines, and treatments these faculty are developing to extend our life expectancy and increase overall health.

See slides from “Combatting Diseases, Pursuing Cures” | View program

Across Boundaries: Research on Migration Across Disciplines
February 4, 2016

Hosted by Nazli Kibria, Professor and Department Chair, Sociology, College of Arts & Sciences. International migration is a global phenomenon that is growing in scope, complexity, and impact. Reflecting these developments, research on migration issues is also gaining prominence across a variety of fields and disciplines, from medicine and social work, to economics, literature, and music. At this event, we heard about the  diverse research projects on migration conducted at BU.

See slides from “Across Boundaries” | View program

Drug Repurposing and Reformulation: Opportunities, Risks, and Challenges
February 22, 2016

Hosted by Avi Spira, Professor of Medicine, Pathology & Laboratory Medicine, and Bioinformatics; Chief, Division of Computational Biomedicine; and Director, Boston University Cancer Center. Developing new medicines is a costly, complex, and time-consuming process. Drug repurposing – the application of one compound or agent already used to treat a disease or condition to treat other illnesses – is gaining popularity as a potential solution to the barriers of medicine innovation. However, complex issues such as intellectual property rights for repurposed and re-discovered drugs, fear of discovery of adverse side effects, and others continue to deter many drug manufacturers and researchers. In this session, faculty from across the University discussed their work in this area.

See slides from “Drug Repurposing and Reformulation” | View program

BU Research on a Sustainable Energy Future
March 3, 2016

Hosted by Peter Fox-Penner, Professor of the Practice, Questrom School of BusinessAs demonstrated by the recent Paris Climate Conference, global energy systems face a massive challenge in shifting away from unsustainable carbon-emitting fuels to sustainable sources, while serving the energy and development needs of a planet whose population will reach ten billion before the end of the century. This challenge calls for contributions from disciplines that span the full range of BU’s capabilities in research and policy analysis. At this event, faculty members engaged in a wide range of research related to sustainable energy systems and policies discussed their current and future work.

See slides from “Sustainable Energy Future” | View program

From Renaissance to Enlightenment
April 6, 2016

Hosted by James A. Winn, William Fairfield Warren Distinguished Professor of English, and Director, Boston University Center for the Humanities. The Early Modern Period, roughly the three centuries from 1500 to 1800 CE, witnessed astonishing changes and developments in philosophy, religion, and all the arts. Boston University is fortunate to have a lively group of faculty researchers pursuing projects arising from this period. In this session, we heard brief accounts of new work on topics including the sense of touch, old age, humanistic prose, instrumental music, women’s poems on war, and the persistence of the Enlightenment in modern thought.

See slides from “From Renaissance to Enlightenment” | View program

Tackling Racial Inequities in Boston: What’s BU Learning?
September 26, 2016

Hosted by Graham Wilson, Director, Initiative on Cities, and Professor, Political Science, CAS; and Katharine Lusk, Executive Director, Initiative on Cities. What’s BU Learning? Brought together faculty from across BU who seek to understand the root causes of inequity in the Boston region and beyond. They shared their latest research findings and remedies related to racial disparities in health, education, development, economic opportunity, housing, and criminal justice, and proposed important new solutions for moving forward.

See slides from “Tackling Racial Inequities in Boston” | View program

Microbiome Systems Biology for Human and Environmental Health
October 6, 2016

Hosted by Daniel Segrè, Professor, Biology, CAS, Biomedical Engineering, ENG, and Bioinformatics; and W. Evan Johnson, Associate Professor, Medicine and Biostatistics, MED. Microbial communities play a crucial role in the health of plants, animals and humans, and of marine and terrestrial ecosystems. Understanding these communities can have great impact in many areas, including agriculture and food production, immune system function and infectious disease, and environmental sustainability and remediation. This Research on Tap showcased strengths and synergy of BU faculty working in microbiome research. This is part of the newly established BU Microbiome Initiative, whose goal is to develop multi-level quantitative understanding of microbe-microbe, microbe-environment, and microbe-host interactions, and to use this knowledge for biomedical applications and for the design of artificial microbial communities for specific purposes.

See slides from “Microbiome Systems Biology for Human and Environmental Health” | View program

Shaping the New Human-Technology Frontier: Current Research at BU
November 15, 2016

Hosted by Barbara Shinn-Cunningham, Professor, Biomedical Engineering, ENG. Advances in interdisciplinary science and engineering promise to bring about a world in which technologies – sensors, communication, computation, and intelligence – are embedded around, on, and in us. This Research on Tap session brought together faculty from across BU who develop technology that directly impacts human health and function, who study technology’s impact on human behavior and social organizations, and who consider the implications of new technologies on privacy and security.

See slides from “Shaping the New Human-Technology Frontier” | View program

Fear, Violence, and Trauma: Combatting Terrorism through Research
December 12, 2016

Hosted by Sandro Galea, Dean and Robert A. Knox Professor, SPH. Recent acts of violence at home and abroad have resulted in an atmosphere of uncertainty and vulnerability. In the aftermath of each tragic event, it can be challenging to discern whether the perpetrator was a lone agent or part of a terrorist organization, what steps we can take to improve our security, and how to move forward as a society. This Research on Tap session brought together researchers from across BU who seek to understand the the roots of violence, help trauma victims recover, and provide strategies combatting terrorist activities and groups.

See slides from “Fear, Violence, and Trauma: Combatting Terrorism through Research” | View program

From Earth Orbit to Distant Galaxies: Space Research at Boston University
February 13, 2017

Hosted by Alan Marscher, Professor, Astronomy, CAS, this session featured faculty conducting research that uses space probes, as well as both space- and ground-based telescopes, to explore the Earth’s cosmic environment, our Solar System, planets around other stars, gas clouds, galaxies, and black holes.

See slides from “Space Research at Boston University” | View program

Materials Science and Engineering: The Science of Stuff
February 28, 2017

Hosted by David Bishop, Head, Division of Materials Science & Engineering, and Professor, Electrical & Computer Engineering, Mechanical Engineering, and Materials Science & Engineering, ENG; and Alice White, Chair, Mechanical Engineering, and Professor, Mechanical Engineering and Materials Science & Engineering, ENG. Materials science has enabled and driven technological advances for all of human history. Today, novel materials address society’s most pressing technological challenges and enable revolutionary scientific breakthroughs. This Research on Tap showcased some of BU’s most impactful materials scientists and engineers who are making the world a better place for all its inhabitants by improving our understanding and control of materials at every scale.

See slides from “Materials Science and Engineering” | View program

Mass Incarceration and its Impacts
March 15, 2017

In the past four decades, the United States more than quadrupled the size of its prison system. This change in penal policy had a wide range of unwanted and profound social costs. At this Research on Tap, BU faculty discussed their work to understand the consequences of the U.S. prison system on social and economic insecurity, families, neighborhoods, health and healthcare, democratic institutions, and the quality of membership in American society.

See slides from “Mass Incarceration and its Impacts” | View program

Targets, Tools, and Drugs: Advances in Molecular Discovery at BU
April 4, 2017

Connecting different scientific disciplines, molecular discovery focuses on the design, optimization, and development of small molecules for use as pharmacological tools in the early stages of drug discovery. At this Research on Tap hosted by John A. Porco, Jr., faculty from various biomedical research fields discussed groundbreaking work in the synthesis and study of molecules for a number of important diseases and therapeutic applications.

See slides from “Targets, Tools, and Drugs: Advances in Molecular Discovery at BU” | View program

Understanding the Rules of Life: Predicting Phenotype
April 25, 2017

One of the biggest challenges in translational research is the development of methods to predict phenotype—an organism’s physical characteristics—from what we know about the genome and environment. Unpacking phenotypic complexity will require the convergence of research across biology, computer science, medicine, engineering, and others.* This Research on Tap, hosted by Richard Myers, Director, BU Genome Science Institute, and Professor, Neurology, MED; and Anita DeStefano, Associate Director, BU Genome Science Institute, and Professor, Biostatistics and Neurology, SPH and MED, presented what BU faculty are doing to unlock the mysteries of the phenotype.

*Description courtesy National Science Foundation

See slides from “Understanding the Rules of Life” | View program

The Next Generation: A Research on Tap Celebrating Postdoctoral Research at BU
September 18, 2017

BU is home to nearly 400 postdoctoral scholars, each one bringing a fresh perspective to research across a variety of fields. this session, hosted by Professional Development & Postdoctoral Affairs (PDPA), demonstrated how the work done by postdoctoral scholars helps develop tools and strategies that impact our everyday lives, from the tiniest particles to complex brain functions and societal impacts on our health.

See slides from “The Next Generation” | View program

The Many Facets of Cybersecurity Research
November 9, 2017

In an age of high-profile hacking, mass information breaches, and crippling malware attacks, our ability to keep information safe from harm is more pressing than ever. BU’s leading cybersecurity expert, Ran Canetti, Professor, Computer Science, CAS, and Director, Center for Reliable Information Systems & Cyber Security (RISCS), led this Research on Tap discussion that tackled this timely issue through multiple disciplines and approaches. Presentations topics included: the engineering of computer systems that are resilient to errors and hacking; the design of algorithms that guarantee the privacy and authenticity of information and computations; social issues, such as our expectations for personal privacy, the economic fairness of regulation, and the ubiquity of information systems; economic incentives for consumers and vendors; and legal and political issues, such as the tension between liberty and government control and cybersecurity’s role in international power struggles; among others.

See slides from “The Many Facets of Cybersecurity Research” | View program

Illuminating How the Brain WorksWith the Help of BU Neurophotonics
November 29, 2017

Advances in photonics technologies are driving a revolution in the neurosciences. Optical methods for imaging and manipulation of brain structure and function span from visualization of intracellular organelles and protein assemblies to noninvasive macroscopic investigation of cortical activity in human subjects. This session, hosted by David Boas, Professor, Biomedical Engineering, ENG, featured BU faculty who are advancing neurophotonics methods to unravel the mysteries of the brain.

See slides from “Illuminating How the Braimaten Works” | View program

Connecting Tissues and Investigators: Fibrosis in Health and Disease
December 6, 2017

Understanding and controlling fibrosis, whether as an integral part of the extracellular matrix or evoked during pathology, requires interdisciplinary approaches and expertise. This Research on Tap, hosted by Katya Ravid, Professor, Medicine and Biochemistry, School of Medicine; and Director, Interdisciplinary Biomedical Research Office (IBRO), featured researchers who aim to develop a comprehensive interdisciplinary program that addresses unmet needs in the field of research of tissue fibrosis in health and disease, using innovative ideas and leveraging on an array of expertise, from imaging technologies to molecular, biochemical, and clinical approaches, to name a few.

See slides from “Connecting Tissues and Investigators” | View program

Creative Research
January 18, 2018

Standard research is about innovative thinking and practice, about making and testing assumptions, performing, proposing, speculating, asking questions and paving the way for new questions or propositions to be made next time. It is about the illumination of new knowledge around an identifiable theme and question, engaging with the known in new ways, constructing, proposing and testing assumptions. Creative arts-based and arts-led research involves imagination, invention, speculation, innovation, and risk-taking. New knowledge is made possible through the materiality of practice itself. Such practices can be of the most challenging order intellectually and technologically, the most revealing and moving emotionally, the most embodied physically, or the most disquieting politically. This Research on Tap session, hosted by Lynne Allen, Director, School of Visual Arts, and Professor of Art, CFA; and Ty Furman, Managing Director, BU Arts Initiative, explored how artists, writers, thinkers, and researchers use creativity as an essential part of their research. 

See slides from “Creative Research” | View program

Global Development Policy
February 12, 2018

Despite progress in reducing poverty and increasing standard of living, more than a third of the world’s population remains underserved in health, education, and essential services. Boston University’s new Global Development Policy Center seeks to address these challenges by advancing policy-relevant research on financial stability, human well-being, and environmental sustainability. This Research on Tap session, hosted by Kevin Gallagher, GDP Center Director and Professor, Frederick S. Pardee School of Global Studies, featured scholars working on these issues. 

See slides from “Global Development Policy” | View program

Challenges and Opportunities for an Aging Society: New Directions in Medicine, Health Care, and Social Policy
February 27, 2018

The aging of populations creates both challenges and opportunities for health care providers, policy makers, scientists, social service organizations, and older adults and their families. This event, hosted by Jonathan Woodson, Director, Institute for Health System Innovation & Policy; Larz Anderson Professor in Management and Professor of the Practice, Questrom; and Professor, Surgery, MED, and Health Law, Policy & Management, SPH, featured BU faculty from diverse academic disciplines to provide social, cultural, and technological contexts and discuss recent advances in research, policy, and practice regarding aging. By highlighting our faculty’s exciting new research, we hope to better understand and grapple with the diverse challenges unique to an increasingly large and heterogeneous population of older adults.

See slides from “Challenges and Opportunities for an Aging Society”  | View program

Inequality in the United States
March 29, 2018

This Research on Tap, hosted by Spencer Piston, Assistant Professor, Political Science, CAS, brought together faculty from across BU who seek to understand the root causes of inequity in the contemporary United States. Faculty shared their latest research findings and remedies related to disparities in health, education, development, economic opportunity, housing, and criminal justice, and proposed important new solutions for moving forward.

See slides from “Inequality in the United States” | View program

Broadening Participation in STEM
April 3, 2018

Hosted by Crystal Williams, Associate Provost for Diversity & Inclusion, this Research on Tap highlighted the exciting array of initiatives and scholarship taking place across BU’s Charles River and Medical Campuses that explicitly seek to increase embodied diversity, improve department/school climate and culture, develop innovative pedagogical interventions, and create stronger pathways for people traditionally underrepresented in STEM fields.

See slides from “Broadening Participation in STEM” | View program

War and Peace: Causes, Consequences, and Alternatives
April 24, 2018

William Tecumseh Sherman said “War is hell.” It is also an enormously complex process and problem which calls for multi- and inter-disciplinary approaches. Sherman also said, “You might as well appeal against a thunderstorm as against these terrible hardships of war.” What are the causes of war and peace? What are the consequences of war on governments and individual soldiers and civilians? How can cutting edge research on conflict prevention and resolution make war less likely or shorten its duration? In this session, hosted by Neta C. Crawford, Professor, Political Science, CAS, faculty from across the University discussed their research on war, peace, and related topics.

See slides from “War and Peace” | View program

Medicine in the Molecular Era: Single Cell Sequencing
October 1, 2018

Biological samples contain a complex ecosystem of different cell types which coordinate to perform normal tissue-related functions. These ecosystems can be disrupted in a variety of ways that contribute to disease initiation and progression. Recent advances in microfluidics and next-generation sequencing allow for very small amounts of RNA from single cells to be amplified and profiled, a process known as single cell RNA sequencing (scRNA-seq). By profiling individual cells, scRNA-seq provides insights into cellular heterogeneity within a sample that was previously unobtainable with “bulk” RNA sequencing. The abundance of different cellular subpopulations can be compared across tissues or conditions to elucidate the role of various cellular subpopulations in disease. Researchers at BU are at the forefront of this cutting-edge technology, and the Department of Medicine has established a Single Cell Sequencing Core to support researchers in this area. Attend this Research on Tap to learn about this resource and how researchers at BU are applying this scRNA-seq technology to better understand the biology of disease.

See slides from “Medicine in the Molecular Era” | View program

Current Research on Autism at Boston University: From Cells to Society

Thursday, November 1, 2018 | 4-6 pm
Photonics Colloquium Room
8 St. Mary’s Street | 9th Floor

Hosted by Helen Tager-Flusberg, Professor, Psychological & Brain Sciences, CAS, and Director, Center for Autism Research Excellence

In the last two decades rates of autism diagnoses have risen exponentially. Scientists at Boston University were at the forefront of research into the pathophysiology of this enigmatic neurodevelopmental disorder even before the current wave of interest. Now, work on both campuses spans the full spectrum of disciplines working toward advancing our understanding of the causes and neural mechanisms that underlie the core and associated symptoms, moving the needle on earlier screening and more precise diagnosis, optimizing clinical care in the community, and improving the lives of individuals with autism and their families. During this event we will hear from experts whose work addresses these key topics.


Understanding and Forecasting Change in Our Natural World

Wednesday, November 7, 2018 | 4-6 pm
LAW Barristers Hall
765 Commonwealth Avenue

Hosted by Michael Dietze, Associate Professor, Earth & Environment, CAS

As society increasingly faces unprecedented environmental challenges, ecologists are being asked to provide the best available scientific information about future events. The field of ecological forecasting connects data and models to project our current understanding of ecological processes into new places and times. Attend this Research on Tap to find out how BU researchers are working to build a forecast capacity and leverage existing ecological data to understand and manage the world around us.


Re-Engineering Life: Tissue Engineering in Health and the Environment

Wednesday, November 28, 2018 | 4-6 pm
Rajen Kilachand Center for Integrated Life Sciences & Engineering
Howard Eichenbaum Colloquium Room
610 Commonwealth Avenue

Hosted by Thomas Bifano, Professor, Mechanical Engineering, Biomedical Engineering, and Materials Science & Engineering, ENG; and Director, Photonics Center; and Christopher Chen, Professor, Biomedical Engineering and Materials Science & Engineering, ENG

Tissue engineering aims to restore, maintain, and improve damaged tissues or whole organs. BU researchers are working to understand the interactions between cells and their surroundings, combining emerging and traditional technologies to identify cell function and guide cell and tissue growth. Attend this Research on Tap to learn more about BU’s research in engineering artificial tissues and building hybrid biological/artificial devices for medical and other applications.