From genetic engineering to digital forensics to the plays of Harold Pinter, campus labs across the sciences, professional disciplines, and humanities showcase the talent, curiosity, and impact of Norwich faculty and students. Portraits of nine diverse researchers and the labs they work in.
BY SEAN MARKEY
The Norwich Record | Winter 2018
Associate Professor Huw Reed, director of the Norwich University Center for Advanced Computing and Digital Forensics, is about to show off his year-old Internet of Things Lab in Dewey Hall. Bot armies of Wi-Fi-connected appliances and garage-door openers have been wreaking havoc across the internet of late, while smart devices are now supplying evidence in murder trials. Ready or not, the Internet of Things era is upon us. The Welshman punches the door key code (Look out Q!), steps in, and the place looks like…the bedroom of your best friend from middle school, minus the bunkbed. Granted there are tech anachronisms galore crammed into the roughly eight-foot by eight-foot space: laptops and flat-screen monitors, a smart home hub, old iPhone 3s and 4s, Philips LED smart bulbs, a motion sensor, Wi-Fi-chipped power strips, a docked and obviously on strike iRobot Roomba vacuum cleaner. But the wainscoting blending into square acoustic tiles, murky carpeting, and trio of yard-tall, circa 1987 brass lamps are spot on. Is it a lab, you wonder, or a fort? But then again, that’s kind of the point. Like Virginia Woolf’s room of one’s own, Reed says a lab is “a place tucked away from the rest of the world.” It’s not a hideout, but a place to work that’s free of distraction and full of the right tools. “The process of research is not one that you can do five minutes here, ten minutes there—squeezing between a meeting,” Reed says. “To make new discoveries, to think outside the box,” you need time to work and the proper tools to do it. Seconds after we enter, Reed’s smartphone chirps. A text message tells him someone is in the lab. Clearly the place isn’t so retro, after all.