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Professor David Schmidt of the Mechanical and Industrial Engineering (MIE) Department and Professor Sarah Perry of the Chemical Engineering (ChE) Department have been selected to receive the two 2017 Outstanding Teaching Awards in the College of Engineering. Schmidt was cited by the selection committee for his commitment to redeveloping both of the first-year courses in MIE and for his history of mentoring undergraduate and graduate research students. Perry was recognized for her approach and success in teaching first-year students and for her development of a novel course in microfluidics. The two awards will be celebrated during the COE Senior Recognition Celebration to be held on Saturday, May 13, 2017.

Over Spring Break, from March 11 to March 18, a group of four chemical engineering sophomores painted and repaired damaged houses in New Orleans as part of the ServeUP InterVarsity Christian Fellowship program, a ministry of campuses in New England committed to exposing students to the intersection of faith and service. The four ChE students joined two teams of 14 students from UMass Amherst and about 66 students from the Five College area in the annual service program. The four ChE students were Bryan Chua, Navin Sundaramurthy, Ricardo Valdes, and Kyaw Htet Paing.

A team of researchers from UMass Amherst headed by Professor Dimitrios Maroudas of the Chemical Engineering (ChE) Department has found a way to reduce the surface roughness of conducting thin films used in microelectronics, potentially boosting their ability to conduct electrical and thermal energy. According to a press release by the American Institute of Physics (AIP), surface roughness reduction is “a really big deal when it comes to fundamental surface physics and while fabricating electronic and optical devices.”

Assistant Professor Jessica Schiffman, a faculty member in the Chemical Engineering Department at the University of Massachusetts Amherst, is the sole Principal Investigator for a $100,000 grant from the National Science Foundation (NSF) to test a “potentially transformative concept,” as NSF reviewers have stated, that “if successful, would provide a new approach for limiting biofouling of water-treatment membrane materials, which is a significant and ubiquitous problem.”

Emeritus Professor James Douglas, 83, of our Chemical Engineering (ChE) Department passed away at his home on February 15, 2017. Douglas was a full professor at UMass Amherst for nearly 30 years, was elected to the National Academy of Engineering, and was a recipient of the UMass Amherst Chancellor’s Medal. So great was his influence that a former student established the Professor James Douglas Early Career Faculty Development Award in the College of Engineering in his honor. Read entire obituary.

Professor Michael Henson of the Chemical Engineering Department at the University of Massachusetts Amherst is one of the researchers for a three-year, $650,000 grant to support his research into the roles that various bacteria play in microbial communities. The research project is entitled “Development of Robust Microbial Communities through Engineered Biofilms.” The grant from the U.S. Army Research Office, or ARO, will support research into defining the functions of bacteria in various biofilm (or any group of microorganisms in which cells stick to each other) communities, thereby creating such beneficial applications as modeling new strategies for liquid biofuel production.

Professor Wei Fan and his graduate student Hong Je Cho, both of the UMass Amherst Chemical Engineering Department, are part of a multi-institutional research team that has invented a new technology to produce automobile tires from trees and grasses. The new process could potentially shift the tire industry toward using renewable resources found right in people’s backyards. The research has attracted plenty of media coverage in scientific media, including Phys.org, R&D magazine, Biomass magazine, Science Daily, Minnesota Ag Connection, Ohio Ag Connection, Lab Manager, Rubber World, and SpecialChem4bio.com. The research is led by former UMass Chemical Engineering Professor Paul Dauenhauer, now at the University of Minnesota.

Professor John Klier, head of the UMass Amherst Chemical Engineering Department, has added yet another distinguished accomplishment to his record by being selected as a Fellow of the National Academy of Inventors (NAI). The NAI Fellows Selection Committee chose Klier for induction because he has “demonstrated a highly prolific spirit of innovation in creating or facilitating outstanding inventions that have made a tangible impact on quality of life, economic development, and the welfare of society.”

Assistant Professor Sarah Perry of the Chemical Engineering (ChE) Department and ChE Department Head John Klier are the co-principal-investigators on a research project in collaboration with Camco Manufacturing of Leominster to identify environmentally benign windshield-washer fluids as viable alternatives to those containing volatile organic compounds (VOCs). VOCs are a significant source of environmental pollution and contribute to ground-level ozone and smog.

Shelly Peyton, chemical engineering, and Jae-Hwang Lee, mechanical engineering, are part of a team working to understand cavitation damage in soft tissues and gels with $2.6 million grant from the Office of Naval Research. Read more from the UMass News Office.

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