University of Massachusetts Amherst

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The College of Engineering recently received a $632,369 grant from the National Science Foundation (NSF) through the Scholarships in Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics (S-STEM) program. The S-STEM program “addresses the need for a high quality STEM workforce” by increasing the success of “low-income academically talented students with demonstrated financial need” who are pursuing degrees in STEM fields, according to the NSF. See NSF S-STEM Program Description

Faculty members and students from the UMass Amherst departments of chemical and mechanical and industrial engineering recently collaborated with University of Minnesota researchers to discover a new behavior of woody biomass that makes it levitate above heated surfaces in a way similar to what is called “the Leidenfrost effect” in liquids. Announced in Nature Scientific Reports, the research captures via high speed photography a particle of cellulosic biomass floating above a surface by aggressive generation of gases.

Neil S. Forbes of the UMass Amherst Chemical Engineering Department recently commented in a story in the Boston Globe about the use of the bacterium E. coli in a new test that accurately detects liver cancer in urine. He noted that bacteria naturally flourish in tumors. “You could tune them for difference cancer sites, different stages, use them for detection, use them for therapy,” Forbes said. Scientists at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology developed the new test by programming a probiotic Escherichia coli strain to detect cancer metastases in the liver.

Rising sophomore Shuaib Balogun of the Chemical Engineering Department has been chosen to receive a scholarship by the American Chemical Society. He carried a cumulative GPA of 3.97 during his freshman year at UMass Amherst. Balogun has been educated at Concord College (Shrewsbury, Shropshire) in the United Kingdom for his A levels and at Day Waterman College (Abeokuta, Nigeria) for his GCSES.

An important article in The Scientist recently quoted Neil Forbes, chemical engineering, commenting on how researchers are using probiotics and microbes to detect, diagnose, and treat cancer, a subject closely associated with Forbes’ own research. The article was about researchers at MIT and the University of California, San Diego, who have programmed a probiotic Escherichia coli strain to detect cancer metastases in the liver.

Dan Ezra Aurian-Blajeni, a recent graduate of the Chemical Engineering B.S. program who works with Chemistry Professor Matthew Holden, earned first place in the 2015 International Society for Pharmaceutical Engineers (ISPE) Boston Area Chapter Student Poster Competition at Worcester Polytechnic Institute on April 16th. The winning poster was entitled “Droplet-Interface Bilayers: An Emerging Technology for Screening Human Ion Channel-Drug Interactions.”

The College of Engineering Women’s Faculty Mentoring Group has just launched a new website called the “Engineering Women's Faculty Forum” (e-WFF): The group consists of Erin Baker, Caitlin Butler, Eleni Christofa, Aura Ganz, Lixin Gao, Song Gao, Chaitra Gopalappa, Friederike Jentoft, Maureen Lynch, Jenna Marquard, Ana Muriel, Mi-Hyun Park, Sarah Perry, Shelly Peyton, Sue Roberts, and Jessica Schiffman.

Alumnus Ed Price, a College of Engineering donor who also serves on the Advisory Board of our Chemical Engineering Department, is the president and CEO of PCI Synthesis (, a 15 year-old chemical manufacturer of new chemical entities, generic active pharmaceutical ingredients, and other specialty chemical products. With more than 20 years of experience in chemical operations, engineering, and manufacturing, Price has grown PCI from a basic chemical manufacturer into the leading CMO that it is today.

UMass Chemical Engineering alumnus Marvin O. Schlanger, chairman and former chief executive officer of CEVA Group PLC and former chairman of the Supervisory Board at LyondellBasell Industries, N.V., was presented with the Government and Industry Leaders (AGILE) Award by the American Institute of Chemical Engineers (AIChE). The award is presented by the AIChE board of directors to those individuals who have made significant contributions to the chemical engineering profession and whose contributions and initiatives have made a significant impact within the chemical engineering industry.

Two members of the Chemical Engineering (ChE) Department – Tami Paluca, the Academic Advisor for Undergraduate Studies and the Director of Alumni Affairs, and Professor Susan Roberts – were selected for awards presented at the 5th Annual Senior Recognition Reception held by the Center for Multicultural Advancement and Student Success (CMASS). Paluca received the Staff Appreciation Award, and Roberts received the Faculty Appreciation Award. According to CMASS, the duo received their awards for “dedication and invaluable contributions to CMASS and the UMass community this year.”


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