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Auerbach, team awarded grant to improve health and education with music

Scott Auerbach, Chemistry, and former director of the iCons program, is part of a multi-disciplinary, multi-institution team awarded a $100,000 grant from the National Academies Keck Futures Initiative (NAKFI), a project of the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering and Medicine. "These grants are meant to fill a funding gap for big, new ideas," said Auerbach. At the 2015 NAKFI conference, Auerbach's team was challenged to improve health and education with music. Read more

Dasgupta gives NSF distinguished lecture on women's success in STEM fields

Nilanjana "Buju" Dasgupta, psychological and brain sciences and director of the College of Natural Sciences' faculty equity and inclusion initiative, recently gave a distinguished lecture at the National Science Foundation as a guest of the agency's directorate of social, behavioral and economic sciences. Dasgupta told the audience of about 75 NSF program directors, other staff members, visiting scientists, engineers and science writers from the Washington, D.C., metro area that while educators usually think of students' academic performance as the most important determinant of whether they will go on to pursue a certain field of study, her decade-long program of research suggests something else is at work. "One thing that I've learned from my research is that for girls and women in STEM, in particular, performance is not the ingredient that will tell me who is susceptible to leaving," she said. "The critical ingredient is whether they feel they belong. Belonging is just another way of saying, 'Do I fit in here?'"

Fermann named iCons Program Director

Justin Fermann has been appointed director of the Integrated Concentration in Science (iCons) program by CNS Dean Steve Goodwin. Fermann is a senior lecturer in the chemistry department, a position he has held since 1999. He was involved in the initial design and development of the iCons Program in 2009-10 and has been teaching in the iCons 1 course, “Global Challenges, Scientific Solutions” since its inception in spring 2011. Fermann takes over for Scott Auerbach, who founded and launched the program and graduated three classes. Auerbach, professor of chemistry and adjunct professor of chemical engineering, will remain involved with iCons as a senior advisor to Fermann and his team. Auerbach will teach the iCons 2 energy communication course and will also continue to facilitate various iCons-related outreach projects that broaden the impact of iCons.

Lovley designs 'green' electronic materials produced with synthetic biology

Derek Lovley, Microbiology reports in the current issue of Small that his lab has genetically designed a new strain of bacteria that spins out extremely thin and highly conductive wires made up solely of non-toxic, natural amino acids. Lovley says the wires, which rival the thinnest wires known to man, are produced from renewable, inexpensive feedstocks and avoid the harsh chemical processes typically used to produce nanoelectronic materials. Lovley says, “New sources of electronic materials are needed to meet the increasing demand for making smaller, more powerful electronic devices in a sustainable way.” The ability to mass-produce such thin conductive wires with this sustainable technology has many potential applications in electronic devices, functioning not only as wires, but also transistors and capacitors. Proposed applications include biocompatible sensors, computing devices, and as components of solar panels. Read more, Wall Street Journal

Geckskin one of 62 patents for UMass system, now 30th globally in Top 100 World Wide Universities

The UMass system was granted 62 U.S. patents arising out of faculty inventions in 2015 moving it to 30th globally in the Top 100 Worldwide Universities Granted U.S. Patents in 2015 in a ranking released July 12. Among the 14 patents from UMass Amherst is Geckskin, a super-strong adhesive that can be used multiple times without losing effectiveness. UMass placed third in Massachusetts and New England and was tied for 24th place among American universities, according to the UMass president’s office. Read more

Flaherty part of a research team that has developed a rapid, low-cost screening method to decipher the gene mutations behind drug resistance

Patrick J. Flaherty, Mathematics and Statistics, is part of a research team that has developed a rapid, low-cost screening method to decipher the gene mutations behind drug resistance. The new method addresses how some chemotherapy agents used on tumors and cancer can stop working because they become resistant to the drug’s effect.,

Decker comments about why and how cooking oil can become rancid

Eric A. Decker, Food Science, comments in a story about why and how cooking oil can become rancid. He says foods that become rancid “lose their vitamins, but they also develop potentially toxic compounds.” These compounds have been linked to advanced aging, neurological disorders, heart disease and cancer. Scientist says any rancid oil should be thrown away.

Katz comments about the mystery of the origin of light source in the universe

Neal S. Katz, astronomy, comments in a story about the mystery of the origin of light source in the universe. Scientists say they can measure the amount of light, but don’t know where it comes from. “The most exciting possibility is that the missing photons are coming from some exotic new source, not galaxies or quasars at all. For example, the mysterious dark matter, which holds galaxies together but has never been seen directly, could itself decay and ultimately be responsible for this extra light. You know it’s a crisis when you start seriously talking about decaying dark matter!” Katz says. The Daily Galaxy

Jacob selected for Women’s Leadership Institutes

Beth Jakob, professor, Psychological and Brain Sciences, and associate dean for student success at the Graduate School, is one of four faculty members chosen to attend the Higher Education Resource Services Institutes (HERS), a leadership development program for women. The four join a cadre of more than two dozen other administrators and faculty members who have attended the intensive residential leadership and management training institutes that are offered at the University of Denver, Bryn Mawr College and Wellesley College. Since 1976, more than 5,000 women from more than 1,200 campuses in the U.S. and abroad have participated in HERS institutes. Read more

PhD student Moheb leads team confirming survival of rare Bactrian deer

Forty years of unrest in Afghanistan left wildlife ecologists uncertain whether one of the region’s rare sub-species of red deer, the Bactrian deer, had survived in the country. But for the first time since the 1970s, a survey team led by Wildlife Conservation Society ecologist Zulmai Moheb, a PhD student in Environmental Conservation, with colleagues in Afghanistan, confirms that a small population exists and urgently needs conservation. Read more

Berquist, Food for All garden featured in Springfield Republican article

Sarah Berquist, an instructor at the Stockbridge School, comments in a Springfield Republican article on the Food for All garden that is part of the Agricultural Learning Center. Food is grown for the Not Bread Alone meal program and the Amherst Survival Center. Springfield Republican

Irschick explains the key to gecko feet stickiness in National Geographic

Duncan J. Irschick, Biology, explains in a National Geographic article that a key to the stickiness of gecko feet is the combined effect of the small hair-like structures on their toe pads and the interaction of foot tendons that stiffen their feet. The two forces allow even distribution of forces, Irschick says. National Geographic

Kilham writes about advantages of yerba mate

Chris Kilham, Stockbridge School of Agriculture, writes about the health benefits of consuming beverages made with yerba mate, a caffeine-containing plant from the Amazon that is used to help alleviate fatigue, suppress appetite, stimulate the body and mind and boost metabolism. Fox News

Elkinton and Boettner comment in stories about a 35-year high for gypsy moths in New England

Joseph S. Elkinton and Jeff Boettner, Environmental Conservation, comment in stories about gypsy moths and how they are damaging forests in New England this year. Both men say this year’s gypsy moth infestation is the worst since 1981. The Weather Channel, Boston Globe, NEPR

New state apiary opens at the Agricultural Learning Center

The first state apiary has opened at UMass Amherst’s Agricultural Learning Center. A collaboration between CNS's Stockbridge School of Agriculture and the Massachusetts Department of Agricultural Resources (MDAR), the state apiary consists of twelve honey bee hives located within an 80-foot by 30-foot plot situated adjacent to the UMass Pollinator Conservation Project. The apiary will serve as a vessel for education, outreach demonstrations and research related to agricultural sustainability, pollination, honey bee health and hive management. A critical component of the Stockbridge School’s student farm pollinator habitat conservation project, the apiary will also provide valuable pollination services to the farm's cultivated acreage of crops, trees and wildflowers. Read more

Schneider's Sunwheel presentation marks 2016 Summer Solstice

A feature story in the Daily Hampshire Gazette looks at the event held to mark the summer solstice sunset among the standing stones of the UMass Amherst Sunwheel on June 20. Built in the 1990s as a project of late UMass astronomy professor Judith Young, the Sunwheel is made up of rocks that mark the directions in which the sun and moon rise and fall at different times of the year. At the hour-long gatherings, which draw about 100 people, Stephen Schneider, Astronomy, explained the astronomical cause of the sun’s solstice or standstill, which refers to the fact that the sun appears to rise at a fixed spot on the northeast horizon and to set in a fixed northwest direction for more than a week, as marked by the tallest stones in the Sunwheel. This event got national media attention through Boston Globe and Associated Press articles that included the Amherst event in descriptions of Summer Solstice celebrations across the country. Daily Hampshire Gazette, Boston Globe, San Francisco Chronicle (AP), Read more

DeConto wins the 2016 Tinker-Muse Prize for Science and Policy in Antarctica

Robert M. DeConto, Geosciences won the 2016 Tinker-Muse Prize for Science and Policy in Antarctica. The recognition comes for DeConto's outstanding work on past and future Antarctic climate and for research integrating geological data with modeling to reveal likely consequences for future sea level rise from ice sheet melt. The Tinker-Muse Prize includes a $100,000 unrestricted award to "an individual in the fields of Antarctic science and/or policy who has demonstrated potential for sustained and significant contributions that will enhance the understanding and/or preservation of Antarctica." DeConto also comments in a news story in the Boston Globe about a new report he co-authored that says climate change could have profound effects on Boston if sea levels rise by as much as 10 feet by the end of the century. "Boston is a bull's-eye for more sea level damage," he says.

Staudenmayer named Fellow of the American Statistical Association

John Staudenmayer, Mathematics and Statistics, has been named a fellow of the American Statistical Association (ASA) for his professional contributions, leadership and commitment to the field of statistical science. Staudenmayer's research interests include methods to measure aspects of physical activity and inactivity and statistical methodology related to measurement error and smoothing. Staudenmayer says, "It is an honor to be recognized by colleagues as an ASA fellow. UMass Amherst has been a great place for me to be a statistician because of our students and my long time collaborators here, professors John Buonaccorsi and Patty Freedson."

UMass generates record $6.2 billion in economic impact

The University of Massachusetts was responsible for $6.2 billion in economic activity in Massachusetts last year—a record high—and helped to support more than 43,000 jobs statewide, President Marty Meehan announced today. "UMass educates more students than any college or university in the commonwealth and is one of the state's three largest research universities, but it also has a profound impact on the Massachusetts economy based on the scope and reach of its operations," President Meehan said. "UMass is a vital economic engine for the commonwealth," he added, "and its impact is felt in every community and by virtually every family across Massachusetts." Read more

iCons undergrads land summer internships in Massachusetts life science, energy firms

Six undergraduate students in the Integrated Concentration in Science (iCons) program are now working at paid internships with Massachusetts life science and energy technology firms for the summer, at Anika Therapeutics of Bedford, Waters Corp. of Milford and Boston-Power, Inc. of Westborough. Read more

UMass awards tenure to Bradley, Gile, Hoque, Maresca, Remage-Healey, Starns, Deater-Deckard, and Jellison

The Board of Trustees voted June 15 to award and appoint tenure. The newly tenured CNS faculty members are: Bethany Bradley, Environmental Conservation; Krista Gile, Mathematics and Statistics; Simi T. Hoque, Environmental Conservation; Thomas Maresca, Biology; Luke Remage-Healey, Psychological and Brain Sciences and Jeffrey Starns, Psychological and Brain Sciences. Appointed as professors with tenure were Kirby Deater-Deckard, Psychological and Brain Sciences and Jody Jellison, Biology. Read more

Auerbach, Fermann present iCons pedagogy at Globalizing Liberal Arts workshop

Scott Auerbach and Justin Fermann, Chemistry, and co-directors of the Integrated Concentration in Science (iCons) program, facilitated an invited workshop at Yale University earlier this month during a conference entitled "Globalizing the Liberal Arts." The conference focused on innovation in college-level liberal arts and science education, bringing thought leaders from around the U.S. to inform a curricular revision at Yale-NUS College, a satellite institution located in Singapore and co-founded by Yale University and the National University of Singapore (NUS). Read more

Crosby, Ross, Dinsmore, Rees, Mabee, Schweik, Irschick receive UMass President's Office grants

CNS faculty are among 14 Amherst campus faculty and staff members sharing more than $349,000 in grants from the President's Office for science and technology research and arts and humanities/social sciences projects. Funded projects with CNS faculty include "Bio-mechanics for Disease Diagnosis and Cell," led by Alfred Crosby, polymer science and engineering, and Jae-Hwang Lee, mechanical and industrial engineering, which will create an interdisciplinary research program to establish the university's bio-mechanical capabilities at the level of individual cells and organs. Jennifer Ross and Anthony Dinsmore, Physics, are PIs for "Soft Quantum Bio-Interface Center," a project to develop a new center that will be the first in the world to focus on research and technology at the interface between soft, biological materials and quantum-mechanical, electronic materials. "High Quality Environmental Data for Scientific Applications and Natural Resource Management" is led by Paula Rees, Water Resources Center, State Geologist Steve Mabee, Geosciences, and Charlie Schweik, Environmental Conservation. "Using 3D Modeling to Digitally Preserve the Architectural Heritage of Massachusetts," led by Duncan Irschick, Biology, Copper Giloth, Art, and Marla Miller, History, proposes to digitally preserve a series of endangered historic architectural landmarks in Massachusetts using a modified form of the Irschick's Beastcam technology. Read more

UMass Amherst and Holyoke schools unveil Scholars Program

Beginning in September, a number of Holyoke high school juniors and seniors will have the opportunity to get a jump start on earning college credits from UMass Amherst at a very affordable cost, thanks to a new program announced by Holyoke Public Schools receiver Stephen Zrike and UMass Amherst Chancellor Kumble Subbaswamy. Under the new UMass Holyoke High School Scholars Program, about 50 qualified students per year from Holyoke High and Dean Technical High School will be able to take one of three reduced-cost UMass Amherst courses, including "Introduction to Psychology." Holyoke students will pay only $20 per class plus materials, while the university will pick up the balance of the cost, estimated to be about $1,400 per student. Read more

Zuraw keynote speaker at Arunah Hill Natural Science Center in Cummington in September

Sarah Zuraw, graduate student in Astronomy, will be the keynote speaker at the Arunah Hill Natural Science Center in Cummington in September on "Discovering Gravity Waves." Springfield Republican