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Chemical Engineering (ChE) majors Hansen Tjo and Elizabeth Voke each won second-place awards in the undergraduate poster contest at the annual conference of the American Institute of Chemical Engineers (AIChE) in Orlando, Florida, from November 10 to 15. The ChE department helped to send 10 ChE majors to the conference, at which Hansen finished second in the Materials Science & Engineering category, and Elizabeth won second place in the Food, Pharmaceuticals, and Biotech classification.

Chemical Engineering (ChE) Department Head John Klier reports that a ChE team consisting of himself, Shelly Peyton, and Sarah Perry is collaborating with Todd Emerick in the UMass Polymer Science and Engineering Department and Anna Balazs at the University of Pittsburgh to investigate a new class of materials, known intriguingly as “cryptic materials,” which undergo strengthening in response to mechanical deformation.

Professor Christos Dimitrakopoulos of the Chemical Engineering Department has been named a Fellow of the National Academy of Inventors (NAI). Election to NAI Fellow status is the highest professional distinction accorded solely to academic inventors. Dimitrakopoulos, who joined the university in 2013, holds more than 89 U.S. patents and has authored or co-authored more than 90 publications, with a total citation count of more than 22,450. Dimitrakopoulos has also given more than 70 invited talks at national and international conferences and academic, government, and industrial institutions.

Chemical Engineering (ChE) undergraduate Josh McGee won first place in the Food, Pharmaceuticals, and Biotech group of the American Institute of Chemical Engineers (AIChE) Undergraduate Poster Session at its recent AIChE Annual Conference in Orlando, Florida.

Associate Professor Shelly Peyton and Professor Neil St. John Forbes, both of the Chemical Engineering Department, were two of the six winners of the inaugural Manning Prize given by the UMass Amherst Institute of Applied Life Sciences (IALS). The mission of so-called Manning/IALS Seed Grants of $100,000 apiece, according to the IALS website, “is to move the cutting-edge science at UMass Amherst into the real world.”

Associate Professor Shelly Peyton of the Chemical Engineering Department has been successfully elected to the American Institute for Medical and Biological Engineering (AIMBE) College of Fellows – Class of 2020. According to AIMBE, the College of Fellows is composed of 2,000 individuals, the top two percent of the medical and biological engineering community, who are outstanding bioengineers in academia, industry, clinical practice, and government. “These leaders in the field have distinguished themselves through their contributions in research, industrial practice, and/or education,” as the AIMBE website explains.

First-year student Connor MacFarlane of the Chemical Engineering Department won the Innovation Challenge Minute Pitch competition on October 16, thus earning a first-place prize of $1,000 in addition to an audience choice award of $250. MacFarlane’s prize-winning venture is a trailblazing insulin-delivery system for all insulin-dependent diabetics. The Minute Pitch was the initial stage of the four-part Innovation Challenge, which resumes on November 20 with the Seed Pitch.

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The UMass News Office reports that Ernest Pharmaceuticals, a startup venture co-founded by Professor Neil St. John Forbes of the Chemical Engineering Department and based in UMass Amherst’s Institute of Applied Life Sciences (IALS), is one of four companies each to win $2,500 from the Massachusetts Technology Transfer Center (MTTC) in a business pitch poster competition in Boston. Forbes founded the company with current Ernest Pharmaceuticals CEO and bioengineer Nele Van Dessel. The MTTC award recognizes the groundbreaking young biotech firm for its research on programmed bacteria that deliver anticancer treatment to tumors.

Associate Professor Jessica Schiffman, the Professor James M. Douglas Career Development Faculty Fellow in the Chemical Engineering Department, is the principal investigator on a three-year, $340,541 award from the National Science Foundation (NSF). The NSF grant will support her research team’s investigation into new membrane technology that was inspired by the Nepenthes Pitcher Plant.

An article posted by the Naval Sea Systems Command reports how Chemical Engineering major Zachary Young says that his experience participating in the Undersea Technology Apprentice Program Unmanned Underwater Vehicle Robotics Competition, sponsored by the United States Navy, gave him hands-on experience to help define his professional goals once he graduates from UMass in 2020. Young is currently an intern working for the Navy’s Division Newport’s Chief Technology Officer.

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