CNS News

Subscribe to the CNS News RSS feed

Wood studying the impact of wildfires on air quality, environment

Ezra Wood, Chemistry, has been awarded a four-year, $800,000 National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration grant to participate in one of the largest studies to date of atmospheric chemistry in wildfires. It will focus on North America, but results should apply to many areas around the world where fires occur, such as those used to clear forests for agriculture in Indonesia and Brazil. "With climate change, forest fires are likely to be more intense and frequent," Wood points out. "And the use of fire for forest clearing is a very common practice, as is burning biomass as fuel. Overall, we will address what is being emitted, what gases and what sorts of particles, and in what quantities. We'd like to be able to help modelers predict, for example, if you burn this many acres or woodland, how many grams of compound A and particle B will be released into the atmosphere, what happens to them chemically and how long they persist."

Samuel Kamlarz '16 selected as 2016 Rising Researcher

Senior Samuel Kamlarz, Microbiology and Biochemistry and Molecular Biology, has been selected as a 2016 Rising Researcher for his intelligent, creative, and dedicated work toward solving problems in the life sciences. For two consecutive summers, Kamlarz worked on cancer research projects as part of Tufts Medical Center’s Building Diversity in Biomedical Sciences program, where his efforts netted him an honorable mention at the program’s summer 2014 research symposium. Closer to home, his keen observations in the campus’s Klingbeil DNA Replication Laboratory resulted in uncovering a key link between mitochondrial DNA replication and differentiation of life-cycle stages in a parasite studied by the group. This discovery led to an entirely new and exciting area of research for the lab and has initiated several key collaborations.

Governor reappoints Larson to Fisheries and Wildlife Board

Joseph S. Larson, professor emeritus of Environmental Conservation, has been reappointed by Gov. Charlie Baker to a five-year term as a member of the Massachusetts Fisheries and Wildlife Board. The board governs the policy, personnel and regulatory functions of the state Division of Fisheries and Wildlife. Read more

McDermott named a 2016-17 Lilly Fellow for Teaching Excellence

Jennifer McDermott, Psychological and Brain Sciences, is one of eight 2016-17 Lilly Fellows for Teaching Excellence from the Institute for Teaching Excellence and Faculty Development (TEFD). The Lilly Fellowship is a competitive award program, established in 1986, that enables promising junior faculty to cultivate teaching excellence in a special yearlong collaboration. Read more

Mullen '16 is recipient of a Biology Undergraduate Travel Award

Katelyn Mullen, senior Biology major, is the recipient of a Biology Undergraduate Travel Award. She will be presenting her research in a poster titled New single-copy nuclear loci for scale insect's systematics at the International Symposium of Scale Insect Studies in Catania, Sicily in June. Mullen works in the laboratory of Professor Ben Normark; he and Scott Schneider are coauthors on the abstract. Read more

CNS College Outstanding Awards 2016

The 2016 Outstanding Faculty and Staff Awardees
Outstanding Advisor: John Gerber, Stockbridge School of Agriculture
Outstanding Research: Todd Emrick, Polymer Science and Engineering
Outstanding Service/Outreach: Simi Hoque, Environmental Conservation
Outstanding Staff: Brigette McKenna, Chemistry & Deby Lee, Food Science
Outstanding Teacher: Craig Albertson, Biology
The CNS Faculty and Staff Awards Ceremony took place on April 6.

Autio, Clements discuss impact on recent cold weather on local fruit harvests

Two news story examine the impact of recent cold temperatures on fruit crops in Massachusetts. Wesley R. Autio, director of the Stockbridge School of Agriculture, says frigid temperatures in early April could damage the apple harvest and he expects to see a significant decrease in the peach crop. Jon Clements, UMass Extension, also says the cold has damaged fruit tree buds but it’s not clear how much impact this will have on the harvest. Telegram and Gazette, NEPR

iCons undergrads contribute to urgent worldwide efforts to track and slow the spread of the Zika virus

Undergraduates in the Integrated Concentration in Science (iCons) program have developed new quantitative epidemiological models to predict some consequences of increasing Zika infections, such as microcephaly births, and the potential economic cost to society in several South American nations, particularly Brazil. Read more, CBS3 News

Women in Science going strong in CNS

Faculty, undergraduate and graduate students, administrators, and staff in the College of Natural Sciences recently joined together for the CNS Women in Science Initiative annual lecture to hear about the college’s successful programs for promoting gender equity for women scientists. Dean Steve Goodwin underscored the importance of supporting the professional lives of women faculty and students in the college. Sally Powers, Associate Dean for Faculty and Research, highlighted the many activities launched over the past five years. Nilanjana Dasgupta, Director of Faculty Equity and Inclusion, shared the results from the faculty survey assessing department culture and its impact on faculty satisfaction. A three-person panel gave highlights of departmental activities: Lily Jeznach, PhD Candidate, Civil Engineering, described the vibrant UMass’s Graduate Women in STEM organization; Farshid Hajir, Head, Mathematics and Statistics, talked about strategies for recruiting and retaining women scientists; and Barbara Osborne, Veterinarian and Animal Sciences, discussed the benefits of her experience participating in a professional peer-mentoring group.

Polymer Science part of the Advanced Functional Fibers of America (AFFOA)

The Polymer Science and Engineering Department is a research partner in Advanced Functional Fibers of America (AFFOA), a new $317 million public-private partnership announced April 1 by U.S. Secretary of Defense Ash Carter in support of advances in textile technology. UMass Amherst is the only public university in New England participating in the MIT-led partnership, which includes 31 universities, 16 industry partners, 72 manufacturing entities and 26 startup incubators across 28 states., New York Times, ABC News, Press release

Auerbach writes column about what to look for when choosing a college

Scott M. Auerbach, Chemistry, and director of the Integrated Concentration in Science program, writes a column where he says students and parents should look for colleges that offer not just training, but preparations on how to think and work collaboratively to solve real-world problems. Auerbach says key skills that need to be developed are resilience, resourcefulness, adaptability and critical thinking. MetroWest Daily News

Lee and McQuilkin receive 2016 UMass Distinguished Alumni Awards

William A. Lee '77 Chemistry, received the Distinguished Alumni Award. Lee is executive vice president of research at Gilead Sciences, a research-based biopharmaceutical company that discovers, develops and commercializes innovative medicines in areas of unmet medical need. Over the past 25 years, Lee has helped Gilead bring important product candidates from early-stage research into development, including therapies for HIV and liver disease, among others. Patricia McQuilkin M.D. '85 Biochemistry and Molecular Biology, received the Distinguished Alumni Service Award. McQuilkin is an associate professor of pediatrics at the University of Massachusetts Medical School. She is nationally known for her work in pediatric global health and was instrumental in jumpstarting critically needed health care programs in hospitals throughout Liberia during the Ebola epidemic that began in 2013. The Distinguished Alumni Awards were presented on Monday, April 4 in the State House in Boston.

Zimmerer, Environmental Conservation grad student, awarded Fulbright

Rebekah Zimmerer has been awarded a 2016 Fulbright scholarship to study Finnish landowner attitudes towards their forests at the University of Eastern Finland’s Joensuu campus. Read more

Three Environmental Conservation grad students awarded NSF Graduate Fellowships

Three Environmental Conservation grad students have been awarded NSF Graduate Fellowships: Nigel Golden, a first year PhD student working on Arctic ground squirrels and climate change effects in Alaska; Laura Hancock, a PhD student working on source-sink population dynamics of plant invasions; Evan Kuras. a first year MS student working on how young people in cities experience nature. Read more

DeAngelis receives grant to fund Earth Steward Intern

As 2016 chair of the Microbial Ecology section of the Ecological Society of America, Kristen DeAngelis, Microbiology, recently received a $1,500 long-range planning grant to promote awareness of the role of microbes in composting organic materials. The award will fund one undergraduate from campus or the Five Colleges to be an Earth Stewardship Intern to develop the society’s composter curriculum. Read more

Senior astronomy major Kevin Harrington profiled in the Boston Globe and interviewed on WBUR about a recent discovery he published with a team of astronomers

Astronomy major Kevin Harrington '16, who was part of a team of astronomers that discovered some of the brightest galaxies ever observed, is profiled in the Boston Globe and interviewed on WBUR. The UMass Amherst astronomers report that they have observed the most luminous galaxies ever seen in the Universe. Boston Globe, WBUR, Springfield Republican, Read press release

Riley interviewed on radio program "Beef Buzz" about developing new antibiotics and the issue of antibiotic resistance

Margaret A. Riley, Biology, was interviewed on the radio program "Beef Buzz" about her work on developing new antibiotics and the issue of antibiotic resistance. Oklahoma Farm Report Beef Buzz

Baldwin to give Distinguished Faculty Lecture on Next Generation Vaccines

Cynthia L. Baldwin, Veterinary and Animal Sciences, has been selected as a 2015-2016 Distinguished Faculty Lecturer. She will discuss "Responding to Infectious Diseases: Next Generation Vaccines" on Monday, April 11 at 4 pm in the Bernie Dallas Room, Goodell Building. Baldwin's lecture will look at the challenges faced by populations in developing countries, who often have only animal-source food as the only readily available protein. However, infectious livestock diseases limit its availability and are considered to be a key contributor to poverty. In addition, some of these diseases can spread from animals to humans, further threatening human health. In both developed and developing countries, vaccines are the most effective means of control but are often difficult to develop. Professor Baldwin will explore how a unique population of cells in the immune system may help overcome some obstacles to livestock vaccine development.

Students Eicholtz and Bradford take first place at the National Collegiate Landscape Competition

Arboriculture & Urban Forestry majors Nicolette Eicholtz and Shayne Bradford took first place at the National Collegiate Landscape Competition, beating competitors from 63 other colleges and universities by a wide margin. This is the fourth year in a row that UMass Arboriculture students have won the competition, the most prestigious in the country. Read more

Eight CNS disciplines receive high international rankings in the 2016 QS World University Subject Rankings

Eight CNS disciplines have received high international rankings in the 2016 QS World University Subject Rankings, published on March 22. Agriculture & forestry are ranked 35th in the world; chemistry, environmental studies, and materials sciences are ranked in the top 150, earth & marine sciences, physics & astronomy, and psychology are ranked in the top 200, and biological sciences is ranked among the top 250 programs around the globe. Read more

Venkataraman uses MGHPCC to help evaluate novel organic solar cells and other ion-transporting materials

Dhandapani "DV" Venkataraman, Chemistry, and his group are developing a new concept that assembles nanoparticle Lego-like building blocks (<100 nm in size) into new and innovative materials like solar cells, batteries, paints, sensors, and smart and temperature responsive materials. Along with the physical tools of synthetic chemistry, the facilities at the Massachusetts Green High Performance Computing Center (MGHPCC) are key in helping Venkataraman evaluate these new materials and their properties. Read more

International media coverage of DeConto's research about contemporary implications about Antarctica's past

There is international media coverage of research by Robert DeConto, Geosciences, about his recent findings, published in Nature that reveals the contemporary implications about Antarctica's past., BBC, Time, Boston Globe, Washington Post, New York Times, Yahoo News, Reuters, Forbes, ABC News, New Yorker, Scientific American, Newsweek, WBUR, National Geographic

Novak awarded Conti Faculty Fellowship

Melinda Novak, Psychological and Brain Sciences, is one of three recipients of the 2016-17 University of Massachusetts Amherst Samuel F. Conti Faculty Fellowships. The fellowships give faculty members a unique opportunity to focus on their research or creative activities by providing a one-year release from teaching and service duties in addition to a $3,500 cash award. Read more

Woodruff receives Fulbright to study tsunamis and typhoons in Japan

Jonathan Woodruff, Geosciences, one of world's leading researchers on sediment records of extreme floods that come with natural disasters, has been named a 2016-17 Fulbright scholar to work in Japan. With colleagues there he will reconstruct past extreme flooding by storms and tsunamis. Woodruff says "there is a pressing need" for accurate reconstructions of extreme flooding that reach back farther than modern instruments can provide. In Japan, less precise historical records go back over 1,000 years, but "significant uncertainty with respect to the accuracy of these earlier human accounts has limited their incorporation into current flood risk assessments until just recently." He plans to collaborate closely with Japanese scientists to improve risk assessments for Japan and understand how these records can be better used in the U.S. to improve coastal flood risk assessments.

Harrington '16 and UMass astronomers observe most luminous galaxies ever seen

Astronomy major Kevin Harrington '16 is the lead author on paper in the Monthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society, about observations of the most luminous galaxies ever seen in the Universe. Harrington says, "We've taken to calling them 'outrageously luminous' among ourselves, because there is no scientific term to apply." Harrington is a senior undergraduate in astronomy professor Min Yun's group, which uses the 50-meter diameter Large Millimeter Telescope (LMT), the largest, most sensitive single-aperture instrument in the world for studying star formation. It is operated jointly by UMass Amherst and Mexico's Instituto Nacional de Astrofísica, Óptica y Electrónica. Other UMass astronomers authors include faculty members Min Yun, Grant Wilson, Neal Erickson, Gopalakrishnan Narayanan, Peter Schloerb, Kamal Souccar, PhD student John Ryan Cybulski, and undergraduate Andrew Dongha Gallup '19.