Ashish Kulkarni, an assistant professor in the Chemical Engineering Department (ChE) at the University of Massachusetts Amherst and head of the Kulkarni Research Group there, is the lead author of a paper published online on July 2 in Nature Biomedical Engineering, a high-impact engineering journal in the prestigious Nature Group. The newly published paper describes pioneering research on some of the body’s natural immune cells called macrophages, which cancer cells routinely subvert and enlist to suppress the body’s immune response to cancer.
Microbial resistance by so-called “superbugs” living in hospital environments causes 2-million U.S. infections and 23,000 deaths a year. Now hospital superbugs can be destroyed by covering bed rails, door knobs, and other surfaces with coating material inspired by a shark’s skin, according to new research led by UMass Amherst polymer scientist James Watkins and Chemical Engineering Professor Jessica Schiffman, along with a team of their graduate students. The research has been reported in a paper available online in the American Chemical Society journal ACS Applied Materials & Interfaces.
The Air Force Office of Scientific Research has awarded 2018 National Defense Science and Engineering Graduate (NDSEG) Fellowships to two recent UMass Amherst College of Engineering (COE) alumni, Ashley Kaiser (B.S., ChE, ’17) and Sanghoon Lee (B.S., EE, ’17). Kaiser and Lee are now first-year graduate students pursuing their Ph.D. degrees at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and the Georgia Institute of Technology, respectively. Kaiser and Lee are among just 69 students selected nationwide to receive these three-year graduate fellowships from the U.S. Department of Defense.
Chemical Engineering (ChE) doctoral student Brandon Dunham has received a highly competitive $1,000 Graduate School Predissertation Research Grant from UMass Amherst to support one phase of his dissertation in progress, tentatively titled "Strategies to Improve the Performance and Stability of Planar, p-i-n Hybrid Organic-Inorganic Perovskite Solar Cells." Dunham’s dissertation research will investigate if he can inexpensively improve the efficiency and stability of perovskite solar cells, a next-generation solar material. If successful, says Dunham, his research “could change the way the world sees solar power forever.”
Senior Abdul Mughis, a chemical engineering major working in Professor Wei Fan’s porous materials research group, was one of six outstanding undergraduate researchers honored by Research Next as the spring 2018 Rising Researchers on the UMass Amherst campus. As the Research Next website notes, “We honor six undergraduates this semester with the Rising Researcher award for their impressive achievements in key areas of science and art that are making a difference in our world.”
On May 3, when the The Stonewall Center held its 20th Annual Rainbow Graduation Dinner and LGBTQIA+ & Ally Recognition Ceremony in the Amherst Room on the 10th Floor of UMass Campus Center, undergraduate Phoebe Bisnoff of our Chemical Engineering Department received an LGBTQIA+ Student Leadership Award. Bisnoff, who will be back at UMass Amherst next year, was recognized for being the founder and president of our student chapter of oSTEM.
Aiste Balciunaite, a senior in our Chemical Engineering Department and an outstanding rower on the UMass Amherst Women’s Rowing Team, has been chosen as the university’s 2018 Female Spring Scholar-Athlete Award winner. In the Spring of 2017, Balciunaite, whose hometown is Rosemont, Pennsylvania, helped lead UMass to its third Atlantic-10 Championship in four years as the Minutewomen received the A-10’s automatic berth to the NCAA Championships. Balciunaite was born in Uppsala, Sweden, to Darius Balciunas and Jorune Balciuniene.
The latest innovative enterprise from Sustainability Projects Abroad (SPA), a brilliant and idealistic consortium of UMass students led by some of our engineering undergraduates, is called “PowerPass,” which, according to its creators, is a sort of “power bank” and “walk-in, solar-powered kiosk that dispenses portable batteries for students to charge their phones on the go.” SPA has set up a MinuteFund, lasting until May 23, in hopes of supporting the installation of PowerPass on campus.
Professor Friederike Jentoft of the Chemical Engineering Department has been awarded the 37th annual "Excellence in Catalysis Award" from the Catalysis Society of Metropolitan New York (CSNY), which is a regional organization, but the awardee pool is national in scope. The award, sponsored by ExxonMobil Research and Engineering Company, consists of a plaque and a $1,500 gift. According to the CSNY, the award “is granted to an individual or a research team from North America to recognize outstanding contributions in either applied or basic research in either homogeneous or heterogeneous catalysis.”
The high-performance team of chemical engineering students Dan Bell, Yusuf Mohamad, Pat Ritchie, Ricardo Valdés, Nick Thomas, and Matt Lok – collectively calling themselves the “Squid Squad” – finished in third place among 21 competing teams at the American Institute of Chemical Engineering (AIChE) Chem-E-Car Northeast Regional Competition, held on April 7 and 8 in Rochester, New York.