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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.

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.

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