Neil Forbes of the Chemical Engineering Department at the University of Massachusetts Amherst has received a five-year, $1.56-million grant from the National Institutes of Health (NIH) to engineer what he calls “super-safe Salmonella bacteria” to act as Trojan Horses and deliver cancer-killing agents directly into tumors. His Salmonella vectors – armed with special cancer-ravaging peptides and a gene-disrupting ribonucleic acid (RNA) called shRNA – are designed to steal into cancer tumors, interrupt essential cell processes there, destroy cancer cells, eliminate cancer stems cells, reduce tumor volume, and block the formation of metastases.
Sophomore chemical engineering major Bryanna Dague is the exception which disproves the rule that all engineering majors must be grinds who do nothing but study. In fact, Bry literally recycled her cycling hobby into a professional internship at Sensata Technologies when she was only a freshman. During a long cycling trek around her Norton, Massachusetts, home, she began chatting about a possible internship with one of her workout partners, who happened to run the chemistry lab at Sensata.
On Friday, September 26, the College of Engineering at the University of Massachusetts Amherst held its fifth annual Outstanding Alumni Awards Celebration during Homecoming Weekend. The celebration included two events. The first was a Leadership Panel featuring award winners. The second was the Outstanding Alumni Awards and Reception, involving the presentation of College of Engineering 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.
Chemical Engineering Professor Christos Dimitrakopoulos was part of a research team whose paper, entitled “Principle of direct van der Waals epitaxy of single-crystalline films on epitaxial graphene,” was published on September 11 in the high-impact journal Nature Communications. Nature Communications is a multidisciplinary journal that publishes high-quality research from all areas of the natural sciences and has an Impact Factor of 10.742 according to the 2013 Journal Citation Reports® Science Edition (Thomson Reuters, 2014).
During the UMass Amherst Convocation on September 12, Shelly Peyton of the Chemical Engineering Department was presented with one of eight Awards for Outstanding Accomplishments in Research and Creative Activity handed out to campus faculty members. Peyton, the Barry and Afsaneh Siadat Career Development Faculty Fellow, has received several impressive research grants since 2012, including a $2.4-million grant from the National Institutes of Health (NIH) to attack the deadly problem of breast-cancer metastasis in an entirely new way.
The College of Engineering welcomes nine new faculty members, some of whom arrived last spring, some of whom are arriving for the fall semester, and the rest reporting in January of 2015. Boris Lau and Eric Gonzales are joining the Civil and Environmental Engineering Department. Sarah Perry and Jungwoo Lee are part of the Chemical Engineering Department. Daniel Holcomb and Jianhua Yang are new members of the Electrical and Computer Engineering Department. And Maureen Lynch, Chaitra Gopalappa, and Jae-Hwang Lee are joining the faculty in the Mechanical and Industrial Engineering Department.
A professor at the University of Massachusetts Amherst is doing something inspiring to address the ongoing problem of far too few women in engineering and science. As part of a $590,000 three-year grant co-funded from the National Science Foundation and the National Cancer Institute, Dr. Shelly Peyton of the UMass Chemical Engineering Department has been running a five-week summer educational outreach program that has transformed the future career goals of two female students from Amherst Regional High School.
The University of Massachusetts Amherst Foundation has established an endowment fund to be known as the Armstrong/Siadat Endowed Professorship in Materials Science with a cash gift of $750,000 from John and Elizabeth Armstrong and a $750,000 pledge from Barry and Afsaneh Siadat. The endowed professorship will be awarded to a researcher in the area of materials science in the UMass Amherst chemical engineering department. Barry Siadat says, “The endowed professorship will attract an outstanding leader who will be a bit like a magnet, building a world-class program that will improve the quality of life.”
Professor Susan Roberts of the Chemical Engineering Department and Professor Elizabeth Vierling of the Department of Biochemistry & Molecular Biology have received a $150,000 grant from the University of Massachusetts President’s Science and Technology (S&T) Fund to support their collaborative project, entitled “Massachusetts BioFoundry; Center for Discovery & Synthesis of Bioactive and Industrial Molecules.”
The Medical Advisory Board of Earlier.org (Friends For An Earlier Breast Cancer Test®) has awarded a $40,000 grant to Neil Forbes of our Chemical Engineering Department. His grant proposal is titled, “Detection of micro-scale tumors and metastases with non-toxic bacteria.” Forbes proposes a breast cancer detection technique for micro-scale cancer lesions that can discover both early breast tumors and small metastatic lesions after primary tumor resection. His technique for early breast cancer detection would reduce cancer spreading and increase patient survival.