By some estimates, more than 1,000 American citizens have lost their lives in Puerto Rico as one chilling aftermath of Hurricane Maria on September 17, 2017, and the whole island is still imperiled by the immediate risk of waterborne illness due to lack of purified water. In answer to this national emergency, a group of dedicated, highly-principled, and brilliant students from the University of Massachusetts Amherst raised enough money to visit Puerto Rico from January 2 to 14 and carry out an intensive campaign of water purification, water contamination education, the distribution of food and medical supplies, and other forms of physical and emotional support for the ravaged island.
Two College of Engineering majors were recently included in a Research Next article about Rising Researchers and their “research ambitions.”
“As the commonwealth’s flagship public research university,” the article began, “UMass Amherst provides a unique opportunity for students to conduct hands-on research early in their academic careers. This semester, we honor six undergraduates with the Rising Researcher award for their highly ambitious pursuit of research and scholarly activity.”
Sarah Perry of our Chemical Engineering Department is working with a colleague at the University of Illinois to create new bioinspired materials using electrostatic charge to direct the self-assembly process of long molecules. The research team, working with a class of polymers called coacervates, found they could be modified by changing the sequence of charges along the polymer chain. Coacervates are commonly used in food products and cosmetics. The findings are published in the journal Nature Communications. See media coverage: Phys.org, Nanowerk, Electronics 360, Nanotechnology Now, Global News Connect.
Several deeply committed UMass Students didn’t want to let the water crisis in Puerto Rico go unchecked! A brilliant and idealistic five-person interdisciplinary team, which included three engineering majors, won four prizes at the HackUMass hackathon on November 3 through 5 by creating LiveWaterMap, invented to counteract the devastation and resultant water shortage and contamination caused by Hurricane Maria in Puerto Rico. As the team explains its product, “LiveWaterMap is an online web service that collects and maps water quality data using GPS and time data - information that can be easily understood and made available for anyone, anytime, anywhere.”
Professors Jessica Schiffman and Sarah Perry of our Chemical Engineering Department have developed nanofiber fabrics that are green and non-toxic and can be used in medical, environmental, personal care, and food packaging applications, according to an article from the UMass News Office that recaps a story posted in July by the College of Engineering. The research is supported by a three-year, $338,180 grant from the National Science Foundation. See entire News Office Story: Chemical Engineers Develop Green, Non-Toxic Nanofiber Fabrics for a Wide Range of Uses.
On Friday, October 20, the College of Engineering at the University of Massachusetts Amherst will hold its eighth annual Outstanding Alumni Awards Celebration during Homecoming Weekend. The college’s celebration will be held in the Marriott Room on the 11th floor of the Campus Center at UMass Amherst. The Homecoming Reception & Awards Celebration will begin at 4:30 p.m. During the reception, the College of Engineering will present its Outstanding Senior and Junior Alumni Awards to eight individuals who, through exemplary accomplishments, epitomize the potential of an education at the UMass Amherst College of Engineering.
This summer, senior Anwesh Yerneni of our Chemical Engineering Department completed a highly coveted internship at Tesla, Inc. in Palo Alto, California, in which he worked on several high-profile research projects aimed at improving Tesla’s automotive batteries, the key to the automaker’s groundbreaking electric cars. Yerneni served on Tesla’s Cell Engineering Team doing research based on the company’s own in-house chemical engineering.
Professors Friederike Jentoft and Wei Fan of the Chemical Engineering Department collaborated on a team of chemists and chemical engineering researchers that received a $259,528 grant from the National Science Foundation (NSF) and its Major Research Instrumentation program to acquire a new, state-of-the-art “powder X-ray diffractometer” (PXRD). The team is led by Kevin Kittilstved, assistant professor of chemistry. The College of Engineering and College of Natural Sciences are also cooperating with the Office of the Vice Chancellor for Research and Engagement to contribute another $111,227 toward the purchase of the new apparatus, expected to go into service in early 2018.
New Chemical Engineering Professor Ashish Kulkarni was recently included among the so-called “Talented 12”, an international “dream team” of rising all-stars in chemistry, as chosen by Chemical & Engineering News. Dr. Kulkarni’s baseball-card-style photo on the lively Talented 12 webpage nicknamed him the “Cancer Crusher.” He comes to UMass Amherst after serving as an instructor of medicine at Harvard Medical School and an associate bioengineer at Brigham and Women’s Hospital. Kulkarni’s research efforts have been focused on the development of pioneering, structure-activity, relationship-inspired nanomedicine for cancer therapy. See Kulkarni’s Talented 12 profile
This fall, the UMass Amherst College of Engineering welcomes five new faculty members: Ashish Kulkarni – Assistant Professor, Chemical Engineering Department; Yeon Sik Noh – Assistant Professor, College of Nursing and Electrical and Computer Engineering Department; Yadi Eslami – Senior Lecturer, Electrical and Computer Engineering Department; Jun Yao – Assistant Professor, Electrical and Computer Engineering Department; and Chengbo Ai – Assistant Professor, Civil and Environmental Engineering Department. Read more about their backgrounds and accomplishments.