University of Massachusetts Amherst

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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.

Chemically and thermally robust fiber mats, capable of carrying “cargo” such as small molecule compounds, hold tremendous potential for applications in which green materials are imperative, such as wound healing, water remediation, catalysis, and food packaging. The catch is that the manufacturing process for such mats traditionally depends on toxic solvents and/or cytotoxic crosslinking agents. In order to produce environmentally friendly fiber mats, Professors Jessica Schiffman and Sarah Perry of our Chemical Engineering Department have received a three-year, $338,180 grant from the National Science Foundation (NSF) Materials Engineering and Processing Program. See NSF award announcement

Chemical Engineering (ChE) Professor Sarah Perry has transformed her class in microfluidics from the sort of dry theoretical course she took in graduate school into the kind of applied, do-it-yourself experience that every engineer loves. Perry designed her course in “Microfluidics and Microscale Analysis in Materials and Biology CHEM-ENG 590E” to give students industrially and scientifically relevant, hands-on, laboratory projects based on microfluidic technology.

Professor Wei Fan of the Chemical Engineering (ChE) Department is part of a team of researchers from UMass Amherst, the University of Delaware (UD), and the University of Minnesota that has invented a process to make butadiene, a key ingredient in synthetic rubber and plastics, from renewable sources such as trees, grasses, and corn. Fan’s ChE graduate student Hong Je Cho is also part of the team. The findings are online and will be published in the American Chemical Society’s ACS Sustainable Chemistry and Engineering.

Jeffrey Davis, Professor of Chemical Engineering, recently received two prominent campus awards: the UMass Distinguished Teaching Award; and the Chancellor’s Leadership Fellow Award. The UMass Distinguished Teaching Award is the highest honor on campus for classroom excellence, and only four awards are made across campus each year. The Chancellor’s Leadership Fellow program is designed to prepare future campus leaders.

Tami Paluca, the academic advisor for undergraduate studies and the director of alumni affairs in the Chemical Engineering (ChE) Department, is the 2017 winner of the Dean’s Service Award in the College of Engineering. “Tami is dedicated to undergraduate advising and oversees many vital aspects of the student experience for ChE,” said Dean Tim Anderson. “Highly regarded by students and faculty, she is known for her excellent advice, tireless work, and deep concern for the well-being of our undergraduates. Tami has proven indispensable as we navigate our way through the significant enrollment increase in the department.”

Professor John Klier, the head of the Chemical Engineering (ChE) Department, and ChE Associate Professor Shelly Peyton were awarded a $25,000 grant from the University of Massachusetts system’s Tech Development Fund, which helps bring cutting-edge UMass research to market. Klier and Peyton were funded for their project to study “Novel associative hydrogels,” aimed at developing new microgel additives for dramatically enhancing coating performance and appearance and enabling new types of water-based coating systems.

On April 5, Chemical Engineering (ChE) major Cory Thomas of Tewksbury, Massachusetts, was honored as the 2017 UMass Amherst Male Winter Scholar-Athlete. During his highly productive undergraduate education at UMass Amherst, Thomas has run several of the fastest times in the history of the university, maintained a 3.2 GPA in the challenging ChE curriculum, completed two demanding internships, and devoted himself to pursuing a pharmaceutical engineering career motivated by his mother’s spirited fight to overcome cancer.

The College of Engineering has chosen Professor Don DeGroot of the Civil and Environmental Engineering (CEE) Department as the 2017 Outstanding Senior Faculty Award winner and Assistant Professor Jessica Schiffman of the Chemical Engineering (ChE) Department as the 2017 recipient of the Barbara H. and Joseph I. Goldstein Outstanding Junior Faculty Award. The winners will be recognized during the college’s Senior Recognition Celebration to be held on Saturday, May 13, 2017.

Prior to the 2017 Materials Research Society (MRS) Spring Meeting and Exhibit in Phoenix from April 17 to 21, Chemical Engineering (ChE) Professor Sarah Perry and two of her undergraduate students submitted a piece of scientifically related art work that was selected as a finalist for the MRS Science as Art competition, whose purpose was to show the aesthetic beauty of scientific images. Perry’s participating students are Savannah Szemethy, a sophomore ChE major, and Matthew Gagnon, a senior in mathematics. Szemethy and Gagnon’s MRS submission, titled Bloom, is a micrograph of DNA/lipid films that was recolored into an image of blooming flowers (see accompanying image).

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