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Chemical engineering junior Kevin Cunningham might be a veteran thespian, having acted in many productions throughout his days at Braintree High School and the College of Engineering, but don’t forget. He’s also an engineer. That’s why, when he tried out for his most demanding role in the UMass Theatre Guild production of Sweeney Todd, he left nothing to chance. He engineered his performance in advance so he could bring plenty of chemistry to his character.

Many of us at the College of Engineering know very little about the larger-than-life faculty members who ran the college during its early years, even those professors whose names have been immortalized in our buildings. One of these pioneers was Professor of Chemical Engineering Joseph Sol Marcus of Marcus Hall fame. The college recently uncovered a moving tribute to Dr. Marcus written shortly after he died of cancer on November 1, 1985.

Recent chemical engineering graduate Matthew Coggon won a 2010 Undergraduate Student Award in Environmental Chemistry from the American Chemical Society (ACS) for, among other accomplishments, his research on acid mine drainage. As his two faculty advisors, former Associate Professor Sarina Ergas of the Civil and Environmental Engineering Department and Professor David Ford (shown) of the Chemical Engineering Department, said about Coggon: “Matt is capable of working at the interface between chemical engineering, environmental engineering, geosciences, and microbiology to make a contribution to our understanding of the worldwide environmental problem of acid mine drainage.”

One surprising trait in Bill Woodburn, who earned his B.S. from our Chemical Engineering Department in 1956, is his admiration of history, and especially Winston Churchill. That’s why he likes to tell this anecdote. Once, when asked how history would view him, Churchill responded, “Quite well, since I plan to write most of it myself.” No wonder, then, that Woodburn was so enthusiastic about recalling his memories at the College of Engineering from 1952 to 1956. That way, just like Churchill, he gets to write part of the history himself.

Dr. Ning Li, who just finished his post-doctoral research in the lab of George Huber of the Chemical Engineering Department, has accepted a job as a research professor in Dalian Institute of Chemical Physics in China, where he also earned his Ph.D. in 2004. The hire was based partially on Dr. Li's research at UMass Amherst, where he developed a new process called hydrodeoxygenation to make green gasoline from sugars. “Dalian is a very prestigeous institution,” says Dr. Huber, the Armstrong Professional Development Professor, “and shows the quality jobs that our students are getting.”

This fall, the College of Engineering welcomes two new faculty members and one former faculty member. The new members are Dr. Wei Fan of the Chemical Engineering Department and Dr. Frank C. Sup of the Mechanical Engineering Department. We are also happy to welcome back a former longtime member of the Electrical and Computer Engineering Department (ECE), Dr. William J. Leonard, who served variously as a research associate, senior research associate, lecturer, research assistant professor, and research associate professor in the department from 1988 to 2009.

What if we could cure diabetes, save the Great Lakes, relieve sleep deprivation in surgeons, and figure out a faster way to rescue disaster victims, all in one summer? In fact, those goals were only part of the agenda when 25 undergraduate students from the University of Massachusetts Amherst presented posters and talked about their summer research projects on July 30 in the Gunness Engineering Student Center.

Sheri Chase, a 2009 graduate from the Chemical Engineering Department, recently returned from a year-long tour of duty in Iraq as one of the 170 members from the Army National Guard's 747th Military Police Company, based in Ware, Massachusetts. Chase, who successfully completed the Boston Marathon several years ago with her mother, was featured in an article in the Hampshire Gazette. Chase, a sergeant, joined the 747th in 2003, during her senior year at Northampton High School.

The groundbreaking research of two young faculty members from the Chemical Engineering Department is turning the campus into a national hub for the conversion of biomass into clean, green biofuel. Their research is quickly changing the campus into “BioUMass.” The work of George Huber, the John and Elizabeth Armstrong Professional Development Professor, and Assistant Professor Paul Dauenhauer has recently been covered extensively in an array of respected scientific publications and websites.

The Energy & Environmental Science journal has named prominent biofuel expert George Huber of our Chemical Engineering Department to its Editorial Board. Dr. Huber is one of the leading researchers in the field of biomass conversion. Energy & Environmental Science is a new journal linking all aspects of the chemical sciences relating to energy conversion and storage, alternative fuel technologies, and environmental science.

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