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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.

Professor Wei Fan of the Chemical Engineering Department is part of a research team that has invented a new environmentally friendly soap molecule, made from renewable sources, that can reduce the number of harmful chemicals needed in soap products. Angela Nelson, writing in Mother Nature Network, said that “This new molecule may change cleaning products forever.” Fan was also a co-author of a journal article, recently published in the American Chemical Society's ACS Central Science, which explained the new discovery. Read the paper, “Tunable Oleo-Furan Surfactants by Acylation of Renewable Furans,” on the ACS Central Science website.

At the 12th Annual UMass Amherst Faculty Convocation on Friday, September 30, Chemical Engineering Department Head John Klier and Professor Joseph Bardin of the Electrical and Computer Engineering Department will each receive one of the Awards for Outstanding Accomplishments in Research and Creative Activity being presented to eight nationally acclaimed faculty members from across the campus. The convocation begins at 11:00 a.m. in Bowker Auditorium, Stockbridge Hall.

On Friday, September 30, the College of Engineering at the University of Massachusetts Amherst will hold its seventh annual Outstanding Alumni Awards Celebration during Homecoming Weekend. The college’s celebration will include 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.

Senior Chemical Engineering (ChE) major Julie Boshar from North Andover, Massachusetts, is a straight-A student “with a passion for improving healthcare,” the recent winner of a $1,000 Hannah Frilot Memorial Scholarship and $10,000 William M. Bulger Presidential Scholarship, and a member of the prestigious Commonwealth Honors College. But this highly thoughtful, idealistic, and talented young woman can trace her accomplishments to her beloved Giddo (Arabic for grandfather) and his kitchen.

A group of 54 brilliant undergraduate researchers, working on cutting-edge summer projects, will present a joint poster session of their Research Experience for Undergraduates on Friday, August 5, from 10:00 a.m. until noon in the Campus Center Auditorium at the University of Massachusetts Amherst. The four REU programs that will participate in the poster session are all funded by the National Science Foundation (NSF).

Neil S. Forbes, chemical engineering, was recently quoted in a story in New Scientist about how scientists are using Salmonella bacteria that have been detoxified to deliver drugs to kill cancer tumors, as in Forbes’ own long-term research. First published in 1956, New Scientist is a weekly science and technology magazine with a weekly audience of more than 3-million readers.

Professor Jungwoo Lee of our Chemical Engineering Department was recently the co-author of an article published in Biomaterials Research that reports a new advance in human tissue engineering applied to mouse models. BioMed Central later asked Professor Lee to explain this research in a blog article. As part of a team of researchers from UMass Amherst and Massachusetts General Hospital in Boston, Lee and his colleagues developed a new bioengineering strategy to improve humanized mouse models and the throughput of in vivo research using implantable biomaterials. See the blog.

Three engineering majors in UMass Amherst’s Integrated Concentration in Science (iCons) program are now working at paid internships with Massachusetts-based life science and energy technology firms for the summer. Olivia Czubarow, a chemical engineering senior from Wellesley, is working this summer at Anika Therapeutics of Bedford. Theo Smith, a mechanical engineering senior from Concord, and chemical engineering major Anwesh Yerneni from Mansfield are both working at Boston-Power, Inc. of Westborough.

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