Joseph Azzarelli

Last year, our community’s strength, resilience, and compassion was brought to the fore during the tragedy that began 04:09:13 into the Boston Marathon and continued for the five days that followed. On April 15th, I was enjoying picture-perfect weather with friends along the Charles River Esplanade when I heard strange thunder emanating from Boston’s Back Bay. On April 18th, I was taking measurements in the lab when our phone rang, informing us that an officer had been shot on campus and that we were to “shelter in place.” On April 19th, the search for the suspected perpetrators concluded, but the effects felt by our community remain.

In the months that followed, I’ve continued my research as a Chemistry Ph.D. candidate, which is focused on developing technologies for wireless gas sensing. We study the performance of our sensors in the presence of gases that are emitted by explosive material, with a vision of someday applying this technology to the detection of hidden improvised explosive devices. My work has taken on new meaning since experiencing how the Boston Marathon bombings impacted our community, as I’ve had a profound realization of the magnitude of the impact felt by so many other affected communities around the world. I want to continue to explore the cross-over between my professional interests and my community by running the Boston Marathon with team MIT Strong.

I did not know Officer Sean Collier personally, but in the two and a half years I’ve spent at MIT, I’ve come to know the MIT, Cambridge, and Boston communities well. The remarkable overlap – between the renowned qualities of Officer Collier and the “feel” of the Greater Boston community – speaks volumes about the impact that Officer Collier had on his surroundings.

With two months to go, I’ve set three intentions to manifest with your support:

1.  Raise money for the Sean A. Collier Memorial Fund.

Through the Fund, Officer Collier will live on as a lasting part of the MIT community. Among other causes, the fund will be used to establish the Collier Medal, to be awarded annually to an unsung hero that:

  1. Demonstrates a belief in the concept of “community,” and whose work transcends the boundaries of their profession.
  2. Is a “community bridge builder,” volunteering their time to serve their colleagues and community.
  3. Seeks to establish and seamlessly integrate new standards of excellence for community outreach in their daily lives.
  4. Consistently and selflessly performs acts of kindness that strengthen the Institute and our community.

*Support my first goal by donating with the links on this page, and spread the message by e-mailing this link to friends, family, and co-workers!

*Use donation source code: MSAZZ

2.  Use social media to “build bridges” in our community.

By digitally connecting with friends, family, and members of our *global* community, and blogging about positive actions we can take, I aim to utilize social media as a force for good.

*Support my second goal by connecting me with you and your friends!


Twitter: StrngWillHuntg

Instagram: StrongWillHunting

Facebook: Strong Will Hunting

3.  Start a conversation about emerging technologies that can strengthen our community against future threats.

I will blog about new scientific and technological advances that are on the horizon that could reduce our exposure to safety threats in public places, and some of them are happening right here at MIT! In a changing landscape of safety risk management, how should we move forward as a society?

*Support my third goal by commenting on my blog, sending and posting interesting articles, and re-blogging posts that interest you!

  • More than 100%

Fundraising Goal: 


Current Fundraising Amount: 



$5,000.00 Cheryl & Haim Saban
$50.00 Mr Bret Azzarelli
$50.00 Ms Eliza Jane Magdalenski
$50.00 Ms Anabella Villalobos
$30.00 Ms Stacey Halloran
$100.00 Jan Markus Schnorr
$50.00 Ms Barbara Azzarelli
$50.00 Mr Joseph R. Azzarelli
$20.00 Sarah Palmer Luppino
$100.00 Ms Eleanor J. Bartholomew
$20.00 Ms Katharine H. Dunn
$200.00 Ms Patricia Lynch
$50.00 Ms Lynn Smith
$100.00 Prof Stephen  L. Buchwald
$50.00 Ms Melinda Cerny
$500.00 Mr Joseph Azzarelli
$100.00 Mr Rende Langlois
$50.00 Sophie  Liu
$20.00 Mr Matthew Aronson
$50.00 Dr Derik Frantz
$100.00 Ms Patricia Lynch
$100.00 Ms Judith Nowka
$100.00 Dr Hien Nguyen
$300.00 Professor Timothy M Swager
$20.00 Dr Yuly Fuentes-Medel
$150.00 Mr Gregory Marcus
$150.00 Mrs Jaime Marcus
$100.00 Mr Gregory Mullin
$50.00 Dr Sebastian Rochat
$500.00 Dr Todd Charles Zion
$200.00 Mrs June V. Herron
$50.00 Dr Marc Fisher
$200.00 Ms Jan Herron
$50.00 Dr Ellen Sletten
$20.00 Aleksandr Vadymovich Zhukhovitskiy
$50.00 Ms Rebecca L. Czernik
$50.00 Ms Rita McConnell Mattaini
$50.00 Mr John Messina Jr
$50.00 Ms Barbara A. Messina
$15.00 Mr Bill Schmidt
$15.00 Mrs Patty Schmidt
$150.00 Lea Dieter Poquerusse
$10.00 Ms Flora Reekstin
$100.00 Ms Marcia Blum
$50.00 Ms Elena Azzarelli
$100.00 Mrs Nancy Delgado
$500.00 Vanco LLC
$50.00 Mrs Joan Azzarelli Nalls
$100.00 Mr Ryan Dupuis
$500.00 Ms Joanne Herron
$40.00 Ms Michelle Rubich


Proud of you Joseph. Focusing

Proud of you Joseph. Focusing on endeavors such as this one, while you are working for your Ph.D. just further validates the great attributes of the man you have become.

Looking forward to seeing you in March.


Sam, Joe, & Nora will be with you~

Hi Joseph,

This is awesome. We will be following your journey- you should be extremely proud of yourself in what you are accomplishing at MIT and what you are doing with the Marathon. You have our utmost support and prayers. 


Rebecca Czernik & family (Sam Azzarelli's granddaughter)

P.S. We will never forget the phone call you made to him in the hospital before he passed- not to mention the subsequent correspondence to our family thereafter. He was so impressed with your drive and determination; this would have really piqued his interest. No doubt he and your grandpa- and Nora- will be watching from a higher place. Good seats to have.:) Best wishes!   



You are Amazing!

Joseph/MIT Team Strong : Your ENTIRE Family PROUD!!!! We are with you every 'step' of your journey: body(training); mind(research); spirit(altruism). You embody/represent inspiration; may you continue to develop more of who you are with every step.

Strength and Balance,

Love and Blessings!! Mom* 

You inspire me!!!!!!!!

Dear, Joseph

I am a student from Cordelia hills elementary school for short C.H.E.S. I think that you inspire me. I say that because you are trying to rasie 10,000 dollars thats a lot of money. 


Thank you for your beautiful message!

Hello Arnell,

I am Joseph Azzarelli's mother and I was so happy to read your comment to my son!! Can you believe it - he surpassed his goal of $10,000.00 and raised $10,260.00 for the Sean Collier Scholarship Fund. You were right!! - It was such a huge goal (and a LOT of money) to try to raise. Through the generosity and kind hearts of many people, Joseph was able to run the Boston Marathon knowing that he was doing it for such a great cause!

Let this be a reminder to you that you can accomplish what you set your mind to - and then to reach out to other people to help you along your way. I am so happy that you are inspired by my son, and that you made the effort to post this message to him! He was very touched to see your post.

Keep on course, Set your goals high!, and God bless you along your way!!

Joseph's Mother 

An inspiration for us to always reach for more

We are proud of you for every thing you do.

As in life, run the marathon with positive expectations and dedication to your goals.

“If you believe in yourself and have dedication and pride – and never quit – you’ll be a winner. The price of victory is high but so are the rewards.” -- Dad, Woody ( and Bear Bryant  )

Never give up!


Well I thought it was a pretty lofty goal, $10,000, as is running the Boston. But of course you have accomplished the first goal and will most certainly succeed in the second one, as you do in all of your endeavors.  I know Papa is beaming, as is all of your family.  We are proud to know you, much less to be related to you.  I hope it is a fun experience for you and that afterwards you take some time to realize and enjoy what you have accomplished!!  Of course, then it's back to work : )   xo, love you much and hope to see you this summer!    Aunt Pat