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Antarctic ice sheet more vulnerable to CO2 than expected

Researchers led by Robert M. DeConto, Geosciences and post-doc Edward Gasson, report results from a new climate reconstruction of how Antarctica's ice sheets responded during the last period when atmospheric carbon dioxide (CO2) reached levels like those expected to occur in about 30 years, plus sediment core findings reported in a companion paper, suggest that the ice sheets are more vulnerable to rising atmospheric CO2 than previously thought. Details appear in Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. Read more

Bradley writes about Polar ice cap research in Huffington Post

Raymond Bradley, Geosciences and director of the Climate System Research Center, writes a piece in Huffington Post reflecting on research he and a team of students performed in the early 1980’s on a polar ice cap in the Canadian High Arctic. In only 30 years since his first expedition to the area, Bradley writes that "The latest satellite images of the region show the ice cap has almost completely disappeared, due to the relentless build-up of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere." Huffington Post

Burns' research shows human actions behind 1000-year-old damage to Madagascan forests

Stephen Burns, Geosciences, Laurie Godfrey, Anthropology, and scientists from MIT have found that a widespread and permanent loss of forests in Madagascar that occurred 1,000 years ago was due not to climate change or any natural disaster, but to human settlers who set fire to the forests to make way for grazing cattle. The team’s research is published this week in the journal Quaternary Science Reviews. Africa Green Media

Dilthey receives New England Outdoor Writers Association Award

Max Dilthey, a graduate student in Sustainability Science, received the 2016 New England Outdoor Writers Association Award. Each year NEOWA awards scholarships to one student from each of the six New England state universities who are majoring in fields related to the outdoors, conservation and the environment. Read more

Hollerbach spearheads a campaign to ban single-use plastic bags in Amherst

Kevin Hollerbach, a graduate student in Sustainability Science, is spearheading a campaign to ban single-use plastic bags at retailers and restaurants in the town of Amherst, similar to the current ban in place in Northampton. Daily Hampshire Gazette

Hoque wins NSF CAREER grant to create tool for sustainable cities

Simi Hoque, Environmental Conservation, recently received a five-year, $508,714 NSF CAREER award to develop an integrated planning tool that will measure, evaluate and predict the impacts of energy, water and land use, waste management and transportation systems at an urban scale. The green building expert intends it to help planners and policymakers guide growth and development in a coordinated, sustainable way. Hoque, an assistant professor in the Building and Construction Technology Program, points out that cities today account for almost two-thirds of the world's primary energy demand, a figure projected to increase to three-quarters by 2030. "The current urban outlook demands a comprehensive understanding of urban sustainability policies to address climate change and energy security," she says.

CNS upgrades teaching labs over winter break

This winter break, CNS oversaw upgrades to teaching labs for Biology, Physics, and Environmental Conservation. Upgrades included: new projection equipment, AC, shades, electrical drops, lab benches and seating, exhaust fans, improved lighting, and technology for team-based learning. Several classrooms in Morrill, Hasbrouck, and Holdsworth received a range of these upgrades, designed to facilitate teaching and learning.

de Wet's research on biomarker paleotemperatures reveals a super-interglacial twice as long as previously thought at Arctic Lake El'gygytgyn

Greg de Wet, PhD student in Geosciences department is the first author on a paper published in Earth and Planetary Science Letters, with co-authors Julie Brigham-Grette, Isla Castaneda, and Rob DeConto, all Geosciences. Their research on biomarker paleotemperatures reveals a super-interglacial twice as long as previously thought at Arctic Lake El'gygytgyn. Earth and Planetary Science Letters

Yellen leads study that shows historically unprecedented erosion from tropical storm Irene

Brian Yellen, a PhD student in Geosciences, and Jonathan D. Woodruff, Geosciences, lead a a team of scientists that have been using sediment deposits in New England lakes to evaluate erosive destruction of historic floods. Their study, published in Earth Surface Processes and Landforms, reveals that erosion from tropical storm Irene flooding in 2011 caused the most severe erosion of the historic record. Read more

Gershenson co-leads science workshop for regional Girl Scouts troop

Anne Gershenson, Biochemistry and Molecular Biology, joined UMass Amherst Pastry Chef Simon Stevenson and chemical engineer Sarah Perry in a Girl Scout outreach event. The January workshop attracted 11 girls, ranging from second to fourth grade, from the Girl Scouts of Central and Western Massachusetts.and used exciting, educational, and entertaining projects to inform Girls Scouts about the rudiments of chemistry, electronics, and engineering. Read more

Whitbourne Elected President of Eastern Psychological Association

Susan Krauss Whitbourne, Psychological and Brain Sciences, has been elected president of the Eastern Psychological Association, the largest regional psychological association in the United States. Read more

Stinson receives grant to study climate change impact on maple syrup quality

As maple sugaring season approaches, Kristina Stinson, Environmental Conservation, recently received a two-year, $149,800 grant to study the impact of climate change on the quantity and quality of sugar maple sap, including its chemical composition, and of sap from red maples, a species less sensitive to climate change. Read more

Stockbridge School of Agriculture offers online Associate of Science in Sustainable Food and Farming

The Stockbridge School of Agriculture is now offering a fully online associate of science degree in sustainable food and farming. Beginning in September, the 60-credit associate degree will allow students to study sustainable food and farming from anywhere in the world. Read more

Brigham-Grette states need for new heavy icebreaker for the Coast Guard in Nature article

Julie Brigham-Grette, Geosciences, is quoted in a story in Nature about President Obama's proposed budget increases for research in the fiscal 2017 budget he has drafted. Brigham-Grette says she and other scientists who work in the arctic regions would like the Coast Guard to get another heavy icebreaker. She says the new vessel is needed, "so that no matter what the season, even in midwinter, we have the capability to go where we need to go." Nature

Grotevant to give Distinguished Faculty Lecture on New Worlds of Adoption

Hal Grotevant, Psychological and Brain Sciences, has been selected as a 2015-2016 Distinguished Faculty Lecturer. He will discuss "New Worlds of Adoption: Navigating Contact between Adoptive and Birth Families from Placement to Adulthood" on Monday, February 22, at 4 pm in the Bernie Dallas Room, Goodell Building. This lecture will frame research findings on the nation's changing attitudes and values about adoption. Since the 1970s, the confidentiality traditionally maintained between the child's adoptive family and birth relatives has given way to "openness," in which - either directly or indirectly, as through an adoption agency - contact occurs. Grotevant will draw from four waves of longitudinal data to trace findings regarding such outcomes for the children as mental health, identity, and adjustment, and trace the dynamics of relationships within adoptive kinship networks.

UMass hackathon seeks to unravel mysteries of PVTA bus performance

CNS students, including Ankita Shankhdhar, a master’s student in applied mathematics, participated in a UMass Hackathon organized by the UMass Graduate Researchers interested in Data club, or GRiD. Over the course of a weekend, an interdisciplinary group of 90 students from the Five Colleges tried to make sense of hundreds of thousands of rows of numbers, asking and attempting to answer questions about how the PVTA operates and whether there are ways it can improve. Daily Hampshire Gazette

Astronomy majors take research trip to Arizona's Kitt Peak National Observatory

Astronomy majors Alissa Roegge '17, Tim Costa '16, Teddy Kareta '17, and Steve Wagner '17 took a research trip to Arizona's Kitt Peak National Observatory, where they operated a 0.9 meter diameter telescope and collected and processed data. "When you sign up to do astronomy, this is the kind of thing you dream about," says Kareta. The students will spend spring semester reducing and analyzing their data, then present their findings at a departmental poster session in April. The experience has given them practice in "real observing," preparing them for the high level of work, reasoning, and research they will encounter in grad school and beyond.

Rich's Laboratory of Medical Zoology gets grant to test ticks in Cape Cod

The Laboratory of Medical Zoology, directed by Stephen M. Rich, Microbiology, is featured in a news story that highlights a grant from the Cape Cod Cooperative Extension Program to test ticks in Cape Cod to see if they are carrying a variety of infectious diseases including Lyme disease. Rich says the tick testing service helps people get proper medical treatment and gives scientists an idea of where the infected ticks are located and where they are moving. Cape Cod Times

Mangan's class, Food Systems in Cuba, includes research trip to Cuba

Frank Mangan, Stockbridge School of Agriculture, led a research trip to Cuba as part of his new course, "Food Systems in Cuba: Production, Logistics and Marketing." During the 16-day trip, students learned about agriculture and agricultural systems and their place in the larger context in business and sociology. They also stayed with local families and learned first-hand about food as a daily challenge. CNS students included Stephen Hilyard, a masters student in Sustainability Science, senior Adam Banks, majoring in sustainable horticulture, and junior Anna Amrich-Hankins, majoring in Sustainable Food and Farming.

Whitbourne writes that being a perfectionist in the workplace doesn't have to be toxic

Susan K. Whitbourne, Psychological and Brain Sciences, writes about how being a perfectionist in the workplace doesn't have to be difficult for the individual or the other workers. She says the impulse to be perfect is complicated and often is rooted in internal insecurity and a constant need for validation by people in authority. Quartz

Bloniarz selected for a 2016 CESL Faculty Fellowship

David Bloniarz, Environmental Conservation, has received one of 10 CESL Faculty Fellowships from UMass Civic Engagement and Service-Learning. Bloniarz is developing a new course, "Urban Forestry: Structure, Function and Value" that will integrate classroom learning with community-based learning. Read more

McCoy '12 awarded NASA Space Technology Research Fellowship

Jake McCoy '12 Astronomy and Physics, was recently awarded a coveted NASA Space Technology Research Fellowship to find missing matter in space. While a student at UMass, McCoy developed an interest in radio astronomy, and his NASA-sponsored research relating to missing matter will apply his knowledge of electron beam lithography toward building better x-ray spectroscopy instruments. Read more

Byers comments in a Smithsonian article about songbirds in Zambia

Bruce E. Byers, Biology, comments in a Smithsonian article about recent speculation that songbirds in Zambia spend winters practicing their singing for the breeding season in the spring. He believes it seems plausible, but would like to see more evidence. Smithsonian

Whitbourne comments in Washington Post about Trump's behavior after coming in second in the Iowa caucuses

Susan K. Whitbourne, Psychological and Brain Sciences, comments in a Washington Post news story about how Donald Trump handled coming in second in the Iowa caucuses, falling short of his goal of winning. She says his response is "a great optics lesson in how not to lose." She says it's a normal instinct to dislike losing, but people have to learn how to manage their feelings when it happens. Whitbourne says Trump's ego was bruised because he had bragged about always being a winner, but then failed to meet his goal. Washington Post

New Center for Biological Physics launches Website

The new Center for Biological Physics facilitates interactions between physicists and life scientists and to engender physically sophisticated research on biological systems. Its mission is to bring physical insight and the tools of physical measurement to the study and understanding of biological systems, from single biomolecules to functional biomolecular assemblies to living cells. The new Website highlights research findings, interdisciplinary workshops, seminars, and courses.