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Professor Wei Fan and his graduate student Hong Je Cho, both of the UMass Amherst Chemical Engineering Department, are part of a multi-institutional research team that has invented a new technology to produce automobile tires from trees and grasses. The new process could potentially shift the tire industry toward using renewable resources found right in people’s backyards. The research has attracted plenty of media coverage in scientific media, including Phys.org, R&D magazine, Biomass magazine, Science Daily, Minnesota Ag Connection, Ohio Ag Connection, Lab Manager, Rubber World, and SpecialChem4bio.com. The research is led by former UMass Chemical Engineering Professor Paul Dauenhauer, now at the University of Minnesota.

Professor John Klier, head of the UMass Amherst Chemical Engineering Department, has added yet another distinguished accomplishment to his record by being selected as a Fellow of the National Academy of Inventors (NAI). The NAI Fellows Selection Committee chose Klier for induction because he has “demonstrated a highly prolific spirit of innovation in creating or facilitating outstanding inventions that have made a tangible impact on quality of life, economic development, and the welfare of society.”

Assistant Professor Sarah Perry of the Chemical Engineering (ChE) Department and ChE Department Head John Klier are the co-principal-investigators on a research project in collaboration with Camco Manufacturing of Leominster to identify environmentally benign windshield-washer fluids as viable alternatives to those containing volatile organic compounds (VOCs). VOCs are a significant source of environmental pollution and contribute to ground-level ozone and smog.

Shelly Peyton, chemical engineering, and Jae-Hwang Lee, mechanical engineering, are part of a team working to understand cavitation damage in soft tissues and gels with $2.6 million grant from the Office of Naval Research. Read more from the UMass News Office.

The College of Engineering At UMass Amherst is pleased to welcome four new faculty members, beginning in the spring semester of 2017. All four have impeccable credentials and a track record of eye-catching accomplishments. The new arrivals are Emily Kumpel of the Civil and Environmental Engineering (CEE) Department, Amir Arbabi of the Electrical and Computer Engineering (ECE) Department, Lauren Woodruff of the Chemical Engineering (ChE) Department, and Jay Taneja of the ECE Department.

Professor Michael Henson, a faculty member in the Chemical Engineering Department at the University of Massachusetts Amherst, is the principal investigator for a three-university collaborative project, which involves creating mathematical models of “circadian rhythm” generation to better understand sleep disorders and other diseases triggered by the malfunction of this 24-hour “body clock” in humans. The research is being supported by a very significant, four-year, $1,809,385 grant from the National Institutes of Health (NIH).

UMass Amherst Chemical Engineering alumna Dr. Sarena Horava, now employed at Triton Systems of Chelmsford, Massachusetts, was the lead author of an article published in the November 30 issue of the International Journal of Pharmaceutics that describes groundbreaking research leading to the first-ever capsule to treat hemophilia. Horava worked on the historic process during her doctoral studies at the University of Texas Austin Cockrell School of Engineering, where she collaborated with Nicholas A. Peppas, the director of UT Austin’s Institute for Biomaterials, Drug Delivery, and Regenerative Medicine and a Cockrell School professor.

UMass Chemical Engineering alumna Christine Seymour, the director in Global Regulatory Chemistry and Manufacturing Controls at Pfizer Inc, has been chosen as the president elect of the American Institute of Chemical Engineers (AIChE) and will take office in 2018. Dr. Seymour will also serve on the AIChE Board of Directors in 2017. 

The UMass News Office reports that Professor Wei Fan of our Chemical Engineering (ChE) Department is a member of the team of chemical engineering researchers that has developed a new environmentally friendly chemical process to make p-xylene, an important ingredient of common plastics. The new method has a 97-percent yield and uses sustainable biomass as the feedstock. P-xylene is currently produced from petroleum. The team also includes UMass ChE doctoral students Hong Je Cho and Vivek Vattipalli.

In a continuing pattern of outstanding undergraduate research, two of the six students chosen as Rising Researchers at UMass for the fall of 2016 are engineers. The Rising Researcher program celebrates undergraduate students who excel in research, scholarship, or creative activity. This semester’s outstanding engineering undergrads named on the biannual list are mechanical engineering major Victor Champagne and physics and chemical engineering major Robert Johnston. Having multiple engineering representatives among the Rising Researchers has become something of a tradition over the past few years.

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