In April 2022, Dillon and Dominic Nishigaya were sitting in their dorm room on the Boston campus reflecting on their experiences at Northeastern.
“We came to a point of realization that the work and research that we have done at Northeastern has propelled us into many situations that we never thought possible before joining,” Dillon says.
The pair hope to shine a spotlight on the university’s research opportunities as co-presidents of Northeastern’s new Undergraduate Research Club.
The goal of the club is to serve as a forum and resource for students who may be interested in learning about research opportunities at the university, but don’t know where to turn, the brothers say.
“We have a lot of students come up to us and ask us for guidance and ask how to get involved with research,” Dominic says. “By becoming informative leaders, we can advocate for those students.”
Northeastern is a world-class research institution. The university receives more than $200 million in annual research awards, and utilizes more than $740 million in ongoing research overall. Last year, the university created new research positions around 13 global challenges as part of its effort to hire 500 new full-time research-engaged faculty members by 2026.
The twin brothers, who are entering their third year at Northeastern, have accomplished quite a bit. Dillon, who is majoring in biology and pre-med, spent his first semester at Northeastern in Greece as part of the N.U.in program. During his time there he conducted breast cancer research.
Last spring, he completed a co-op working full time at Sana Biotechnology in South San Francisco, where he conducted biomedical and bioengineering research. And this summer, he interned at NASA’s Ames Research Center in Mountain View, California, doing space biology work.
Now he is an intern for the research team at the Whited Laboratory at Harvard University’s Department of Stem Cell and Regenerative Biology. He is also a member of a research pilot program titled REALTIME (Research Experience And Learning Through Integrated Mentorship and Engagement) in the Laboratory for Aging and Infertility Research at Northeastern.
Additionally, he has developed his own award-winning cancer research project, which aims to address the problem of “chemotherapy-resistant cells in late-stage ovarian cancer.”
Dominic — who is studying criminal justice, law and public policy, and pre-law — spent his first semester at Northeastern in London, studying international law and international business. In spring 2022, he began working at Violence and Justice Research Laboratory at Northeastern conducting research on human trafficking.
In summer 2022, he interned at the Superior Court in the County of Santa Clara, California. And this spring, he did a six-month co-op at McManis Faulker, a trial law firm in San Jose, California.
“For us, the club is very much a place where we can advocate for students and create a place where we can discuss the path to research,” says Dominic. “Dillon and I want to use our experience and the club as a place to be able to show people what’s going on and say ‘Come follow us.’”
The club’s first meeting will be next month, but Dillon and Dominic will have a table setup at Fall Fest, the university’s fall event where clubs on campus advertise themselves to students. This year’s event will be Tuesday, Sept. 5.
They hope to get a good number of people to stop by to gauge interest. In the spring, they also had a table at SOURCE, the university’s resource fair event focused on undergraduate research.
At SOURCE, the brothers said they had over 200 interested students stop by and share their contact information.
For the first meeting, Dillon and Dominic will present a PowerPoint outlining some research opportunities at Northeastern. They will also be sharing their own stories and their path to Northeastern.
They will also be taking questions from the audience, with plans to bring some answers to the next meeting. Potential questions might center around the availability of research opportunities and the best professors with whom to speak.
The brothers plan to take advantage of their network of contacts to get answers, and the club already has the support of Northeastern’s Pre-Med program and the College of Science, they said.
The brothers are still working on securing a space for the club, but the goal is to meet every two weeks. Ideally, they’d like to meet in Room 102 in the ISEC building.
“I feel like there’s an energy in that room where it feels like you can do big things,” Dillon says.
With the club, the brothers are hoping to provide a valuable service and help students understand the range of avenues they can take at the university.
“We’re creating a community of like-minded thinkers who want to do big things, who want to get involved in research in any capacity,” Dillon says.