Snell Professor of Engineering

Associate Dean for Research, College of Engineering

PROTECT Trainees and Visiting Scholars Find Success After PROTECT

With the start of the new year, several PROTECT trainees have moved on to new positions where they continue to utilize the skills they honed while working with PROTECT.


Dr. Ali Ciblak

aliDr. Ciblak’s PROTECT research focused on remediation of chlorinated solvents in groundwater, electrochemical oxidation and reduction processes, and electrokinetic-enhanced bioremediation of contaminated clay. He now has a position at Langan Engineering and Environmental Services in Lawrenceville, NJ. He is involved in the design and implementation of various environmental remediation projects including in-situ chemical oxidation/reduction, in-situ bioremediation, air sparging/soil vapor extraction systems, and pump and treat. His responsibilities include performing treatability studies; soil and groundwater sampling; remedial design, implementation and monitoring; pilot tests; data management and evaluation; and report preparation.


As a PhD candidate with PROTECT, Dr. Ciblak says he developed the technical skills that are essential to solving complex environmental problems. He regularly draws on the lab skills and knowledge developed at PROTECT in his treatability studies and pilot tests at Langan.


Dr. Reza Ghasemizadeh

Reza_2015_Jan_12During his PhD candidacy at Northeastern, Dr. Ghasemizadeh conducted groundwater modeling, data analysis, and environmental engineering research. He published in peer-reviewed journals, overcame research challenges, and mentored graduate and undergraduate students.

He believes that being a part of a successful team such as PROTECT provided him with the opportunity to effectively collaborate with other professionals in toxicology, remediation and data management. He graduated in 2015 and is currently working as a hydrogeologist in the consulting industry where he applies engineering and hydrogeologic concepts in the field.


Dr. Balati Maihemuti

Balati_croppedAs a visiting scholar for PROTECT from 2013 through 2015, Dr. Balati Maihemuti performed research on numerical simulation of groundwater flow and contaminate transport and contaminant soil and water remediation.

Now Dr. Maihemuti holds a position with Geotechnical Engineering & Testing, a consulting firm based in Houston, TX, that focuses on material and soil testing at construction sites. Dr. Maihemuti is responsible for technical methods and procedures used to collect and test a variety of construction materials in the field or laboratory; mathematical procedures related to the accurate performance and interpretation of a variety of calculations in the field or laboratory; and safety procedures and occupational hazards as they relate to injury prevention and safety.


Dr. Xue Yu

XueDuring his two years of postdoctoral work at Northeastern University, Dr. Yu worked with Dr. Alshawabkeh and PROTECT in research on spatial patterns analysis, historical groundwater contamination, emerging organic contaminants, and groundwater modeling.

Now Dr. Xue Yu is a visiting researcher at Dr. Edward Nater’s group in the Department of Soil, Water, & Climate at University of Minnesota – Twin Cities. His responsibilities include analyzing the trend of forest fires in northeastern Minnesota, modeling the fire smoke transport, and evaluating the effect of forest fire on mercury bioaccumulation in lake fishes.

Yu credits the training he received at PROTECT with preparing him for a career in environmental engineering. Training opportunities with PROTECT included research experiences in utilizing geospatial and statistical analysis; in-depth training in interdisciplinary research; social interaction skills; involvement in research activities with multiple universities; and friendships with group members.


Dr. Alshawabkeh and the rest of PROTECT wish them the best of luck in their future endeavors.

First Time Mom with Kelsey Nixon – One Mom’s Story of Delivering a Preemie

This 4:15 video of “One Mom’s Story of Delivering a Preemie” chronicles first time mom Kelsey Nixon’s journey through the birth of her son Oliver at 28 weeks gestation.  In this video, Kelsey describes the “pure shock” of learning that she would be delivering her baby 3 months early due to complications from liver pain and the challenges to “feel like a mother” while visiting the NICU.  Her greatest takeaway?  Manage your expectations, whether your child is born healthy or prematurely.

One Mom’s Story of Delivering a Preemie

Rachel Grashow joins the Alshawabkeh Team

RachelGrashow(highres)1Dr. Rachel Grashow has joined the Alshawabkeh research team as a Senior Research Scientist. She recently completed her post-doctoral fellowship at the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health, where she studied the effects of neurotoxicants on cognitive function in children, the elderly, and occupationally-exposed welders. Prior to that, Dr. Grashow completed a PhD at Brandeis University, where she studied electrophysiology and computational neuroscience.

At Northeastern, Dr. Grashow will be working with the PROTECT study to facilitate data sharing among investigators and conduct a follow-up study on the neurodevelopment of infants born into the PROTECT cohort.


Welcome, Rachel!

PROTECT visiting scholar completes tenure at NU

Farewell-Jie-300x225Dr. Jie Peng, Associate Professor of Geotechnical Engineering at Hohai University in Nanjing, China, recently completed his tenure as a visiting scholar with the PROTECT Center at Northeastern University. Under the guidance of Professor Akram Alshawabkeh (Project 5), Dr. Peng assisted in developing and conducting experiments on the fate and transport of contaminants in soil and its impact on soil physicochemical and geotechnical properties. We thank Jie for all of his contributions during his time in the states and look forward to continued collaboration in the future.

Alshawabkeh receives prestigious ASCE award

Dr. Akram Alshawabkeh, along with Dr. Mishac Yegian, Ece Esellar-Bayat, and Seda Goyker, has been awarded the 2014 ASCE Thomas A. Middlebrooks Award for the group’s research on liquefaction mitigation by Induced Partial Saturation (IPS). The award, based on nominations put forward by the Geo-Institute of ASCE, recognizes a paper contributing to geotechnical engineering. This is a prestigious ASCE award within the field of geotechnical and geoenvironmental engineering, with a distinguished list of prior award winners. Congratulations to Professor Alshawabkeh and colleagues!

Links to the award-winning companion papers can be found below:

Liquefaction Response of Partially Saturated Sands. I: Experimental Results

Liquefaction Response of Partially Saturated Sands. II: Empirical Model

Local students, teachers perform research in Alshawabkeh lab

Akram Alshawabkeh hosted local high school students and a teacher as part of Northeastern Center for STEM Education’s summer programming through the PROTECT Center.  The month-long program gives opportunities for hands-on research.  This year, Dr. Alshawabkeh hosted Rocco Cieri, a teacher from Medford High School, as part of the Research Experiences for Teachers (RET) program, and  Diana Abbas, a student at Commonwealth School, and Michael Wagner, a student at Belmont High School, as part of the Young Scholars Program (YSP).  The three worked closely with PROTECT Project 5 trainees, particularly postdoc Lily Rajic.  Pictures from their time at Northeastern are below, as well as a video prepared by Rocco Cieri.

Alshawabkeh work profiled in NIEHS SRP Research Brief

Akram Alshawabkeh and his PROTECT Project 5 team recently saw their work in novel methods for groundwater decontamination published by the Superfund Research Program as part of its Research Briefs series.

The Research Brief, published in July, highlights a recent paper by the Project 5 team which developed a method to remediate TCE.

Read the full research brief here and the article here.

Changes to Alshawabkeh Lab Team

Alshawabkeh Lab Postdocs Dr. Chris Butscher and Dr. Xuhui Mao have both recently secured professorships in their respective home countries of Germany and China.  Dr. Butscher will be at the Karlsruhe Institute of Technology.  Dr. Mao is at Wuhan University.  Congratulations!!

Visiting Scholar Kitae Baek also recently returned to his home country of Korea.

Learn more about the team here.

Learn more about open postdoctoral positions within the lab here.