The University of Massachusetts Amherst
University of Massachusetts Amherst

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James M. Douglas Fellowship Award Recipients

The Douglas Fellowship was created in honor of the late Professor James Douglas with an anonymous gift made in recognition of his outstanding reputation for mentoring undergraduate students. The fellowship honors his legacy and supports innovative mentoring and teaching of undergraduate students by graduate students.


Spring 2019  

Kelsi Skeens Rehmann


Fall 2018

Fall 2018

Spring 2019

Whitney Blocher McTigue

Under the Douglas Fellowship, I had the opportunity to create a MATLAB seminar for undergraduate students to learn and better understand how to code in MATLAB in collaboration with the Introduction to Chemical Engineering course. The seminar was hosted once a week for the entire semester alongside the introductory course, the topics of the seminar following along with the topics covered in class. This seminar encompassed a myriad of different coding topics that students often have difficulty in, such as loops and building functions. Although not mandatory, students could attend the seminar, or office hours specifically for MATLAB, to learn and ask questions about MATLAB, all of which I ran. Several undergraduate students, particularly transfers into the chemical engineering major, felt they were able to better comprehend MATLAB for their coursework. These students enjoyed the ability to work at their own pace and practice example questions, while learning the intricacies of MATLAB.

This fellowship gave me the means to create and run this seminar, creating a Box folder that was accessible to students that gave them PowerPoints on specific topics along with practice problems and solutions. Without this fellowship, I would have had to TA and would not have had the time to dedicate to this seminar.

I have always wanted to teach and building my own seminar introduced me to how to write lectures, how to pace a course, and how to make homework based on what was taught in class. It was highly informative for me, as I had never solo taught a course before. Additionally, my broadened teaching experience led me to become a teacher of record for three sections of the First Year Seminar course for Fall 2019, which will be my first solo teaching experience on record. By giving me the opportunity to create my own seminar to teach, I learned more about how to teach and what I want to do for future courses for which I will be an instructor.



Abhinav Sharma

As a recipient of the Douglas Fellowship Award (2018/2019) in Chemical Engineering, I independently developed and taught the course titled ‘Short laboratory course on basic biology experimental techniques’ in the Spring semester of 2019. A total of 12 undergraduate students from sophomore, junior and senior class enrolled in the course. This hands-on course aimed to introduce Chemical Engineering undergraduate students to basic experimental techniques in biological research. The training related to the course was provided in the Life Sciences Laboratories at UMass Amherst. The undergraduate students enrolled in the course as an independent study which helped the student recruitment process. Students underwent biosafety training and learned the routine protocols and procedures involved in 1. Mammalian cell culture, bacterial cell culture, fluorescent imaging and analysis. 2. Mouse dissection, organ preservation, histological analysis. 3. Microfluidic device fabrication, operation and application.

Learning Outcomes: After completion of this course the students were able to:

  • Understand lab safety and biosafety procedures
  •  Perform aseptic techniques and routine procedures required in a biological research lab
  • Culture mammalian and bacterial cells in the lab
  • Fabricate microfluidic devices for biological experiments
  • Understand the procedures involved in the culture of human derived cells
  • Perform laboratory techniques for handling animal derived tissues and organs
  • Perform histological and microscopic analysis of cells and tissues
  • Use image analysis software for data analysis in biological research

It was a great experience to see the joy and excitement in the eyes of the students when they got to see the fluorescent cancer cells under the microscope and whole organs isolated from mice for the first time or understand the history behind a routine procedure or technique used in the lab. This fellowship provided me with a great opportunity to develop this course independently and improvise it based on student response and feedback. I am in my 5th year of the PhD program and as I move towards completing my thesis by the end of 2019, the experiences from teaching this course have made it clear that I want to have an academic career and become a Professor one day. Almost all the students enrolled in this course expressed to have a more advanced and application-oriented course that develops on the knowledge gained during this course. In the feedback provided by the undergraduate students enrolled in this course, most of the students said that the hands-on experience they gained during this course helped them obtain an internship or a permanent position in the Biotech industry.  Based on the feedback documented during the course, graduate students can develop proposals that build on the foundation of this course to implement in the future with the help of similar fellowships if available in the department.

Teaching this course was a life changing experience for me, and I thank the Chemical Engineering Department and the donors for this fellowship.


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