awards trophy

2022 Outstanding Achievement Awards

May 3, 2022

Each year, the College of Natural Sciences honors its faculty, staff, and student leaders who have made important contributions to their discipline, department, college, and university by presenting them with the Outstanding Achievement Awards. Our 2022 CNS Outstanding Achievements Awards Ceremony was held at the Student Union, Wednesday, April 27. 


Recipients are nominated by colleagues within the college and chosen by committees chaired by designees appointed by Dean Tricia Serio, who may include past awardees. Of this year’s recipients, Dean Serio remarked, “These leaders continue to enrich our college community with their exceptional work. I am tremendously grateful for their efforts to demonstrate academic excellence, enhance the student experience, and create a more inclusive and accessible learning environment.” 

Excellence in Diversity and Inclusion Awards

Natasha de la Rosa Rivera, Miriam Hernandez-Romero, Nadia Fernandez, Estefany Argueta Herrera, Yahaira Bermudez, Society for Advancement of Chicanos/Hispanics & Native Americans in Science (SACNAS)

SACMAS awardees“We are honored, to say the least, to be recognized for our work with the CNS Excellence in Diversity and Inclusion Award. Our goal was to establish a home base for the UMass community of Native American, Hispanic, and Latine students pursuing a career in STEM (and beyond) to increase a sense of belonging and support on campus. As an official SACNAS chapter, we strive to further the professional and academic development of UMass scholars via continued community building, networking, and engagement. Additionally, we intend to follow SACNAS lead in encouraging other groups to join our events and efforts in facilitating spaces to celebrate all identities and cultures. We thank the many students and initiatives that helped paved the way for us to make this happen."

Tara Mandalaywala, Assistant Professor​, Psychological and Brain Sciences

Tara Mandalaywala“I am incredibly honored to receive this award, but I want to accept it as part of a much larger team of students, staff, and faculty who are absolutely tireless in their efforts to make UMass a welcoming, inclusive, and anti-racist space. None of what I do would be possible without their hard work, dedication, and advocacy. I am grateful for their work disrupting the status quo and for providing a steady reminder that we can, and that we have to, do better.”

Outstanding Teaching Awards

Adena Calden​, Senior Lecturer​ ll, Mathematics and Statistics​

Adena Calden“I am honored to follow in the footsteps of incredible lecturers who have won the outstanding teaching award. It is an honor and privilege to serve the future generation of learners and to work beside such talented and caring teaching faculty.”

Margaret Riley​, Professor​, Biology

Peg Riley“I am delighted to be chosen for the CNS outstanding teaching award. I arrived at UMass 15 years ago with very little experience teaching. The passion for educating students shared by so many of the faculty in Biology rubbed off on me. I started to experiment with my teaching methods and found my niche - which involves providing hands-on research experiences to as many undergraduates as possible - and the STEM Ambassador Program emerged to do just that. I also transitioned my research lab into one focused on undergraduate research training - and the current count is 18 undergraduates engaged in self-directed research in my lab! It has been a joy to learn how to educate at UMass and I am deeply honored to receive this award that acknowledges that I have had at least a bit of success in the process!”

Outstanding Staff Awards

Rebecca David​, Graduate Program Manager​, Chemistry

Rebecca David“Thank you for this award. I am truly honored to receive it. It means so much to be placed in such distinguished ranks as those of the past honorees. Being a part of the Chemistry Department and CNS has provided me opportunities to learn, grow, and succeed as an individual and as a colleague. Synergy between faculty, staff, students, departments and the college is just one aspect that helps make my work life genuinely enjoyable. UMass does have Great Chemistry. The guidance and encouragement gifted to me means more than I know how to express. You have my immense thanks for all the support and confidence you've given me.”

Chris Joyner​, Greenhouse Superintendent​, Department of Operations

Chris Joyner“I’m truly honored to be a recipient of the CNS Outstanding Achievement award! It is a great pleasure and an honor to get to work with so many amazing faculty, staff and students as part of my job. My position allows me to be a part of so many great research projects and to interact with so many students which is very rewarding. I owe my team a debt of gratitude because without them I wouldn’t be able to do what I do day in and day out. I’m grateful to work with so many wonderful people in CNS Operations and throughout CNS. I want to thank everyone that nominated me for this award, I am truly humbled.”

Rebecca Lawlor​, Bacteriologist​, Veterinary ​and Animal Sciences

Rebecca Lawlor"I feel as though I am an ambassador for Veterinary and Animals Sciences having been both a graduate of and a research technician in this wonderful department."

Outstanding Service & Engagement Award

Lynmarie Thompson​, Professor​, Chemistry

Lynmarie Thompson“I am very honored to be selected for this award by my colleagues. It has been a privilege to help design and guide programs that help our students and build a vibrant and inclusive research community. I have enjoyed working to enhance training and research at the interface of chemistry and biology, and it’s wonderful to see the many positive outcomes, both on campus and in our many successful alumni.”

Outstanding Research Award

Lillian Fritz-Laylin​, Assistant Professor, Biology

Lillian Fritz-Laylin"There are so many excellent scientists in the college that it is a true honor to be selected for this award. I want to express my gratitude for the hard work of the brilliant and generous scientists I have the privilege to work with in my lab, as well as our outstanding collaborators. I am continually amazed at all the wonderful and useful things we are learning by studying evolutionarily diverse species! This research would not be possible without the support of the Biology Department, CNS, and the University. Thank you all!”

Jianhan Chen​, Professor​, Chemistry

Jianhan Chen“I am very thrilled to receive this award. It is truly a great honor. I greatly appreciate the encouragement and support of my colleagues in Chemistry and Biochemistry & Molecular Biology. I moved to UMass in 2017, and this past five years have been the best five years of my scientific career. The intellectual environments here in CNS and IALS are rich and inspiring. I am surrounded by outstanding colleagues with diverse research interests and many exciting ideas. I am also blessed with the opportunity to work many talented graduate students and postdoctoral fellows. The award is really a recognition of their dedication and collective accomplishments."

Outstanding Advisor Award

Ruthanne ParadiseRuthanne Paradise​, Senior Lecturer​, Chemistry

“As the Chief Undergraduate Advisor for the Chemistry department, I care deeply about the students in the program and want to help them find a place to thrive at UMass.  I also want to make sure every student is heard and help them to thrive and grow. My life has become more rewarding because of the depth and breadth of students that I have encountered advising in our department and university.”


Karen Helfer, Associate Dean for Graduate, Postdoctoral, and Faculty Development said, “These awards are one indication of the outstanding work done within CNS. Choosing the recipients of these awards is a difficult task, since CNS has so many deserving students, staff, and faculty. We are delighted to be able to give special recognition to the people who earned this year's awards.” The recipients will be presented with $1,000 honorariums in the Spring semester.

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