The University of Massachusetts Amherst
University of Massachusetts Amherst

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Principal Investigator Michael Henson of the Chemical Engineering Department has received a three-year NSF award totaling $300,000 to develop process modeling technology for synthesis gas fermentation reactors. The Co-Principal Investigator is Derek Griffin of LanzaTech, a leader in industrial gas fermentation technology. The award will support “the development of computational models that allow the simulation and optimization of complex bubble column reactors used industrially.”

From July 12 through 24, the College of Engineering held its third annual Summer ENGineering Institute (SENGI), this year running well-planned science and engineering learning activities for 43 high school students from around New England and beyond. The director of SENGI was Paula Rees, who is also the director of the Diversity Programs Office at the college.

A group of brilliant undergraduate researchers, working on cutting-edge summer projects, will present a poster session on Friday, July 31, from 10:00 a.m. to noon in the Campus Center Auditorium at the University of Massachusetts Amherst. All the students are participating in various programs under the umbrella of the Research Experience for Undergraduates, funded by the National Science Foundation (NSF). The poster session is free and open to the public.

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.


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