The University of Massachusetts Amherst
University of Massachusetts Amherst

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The National Science Foundation has awarded Assistant Professor Jessica Schiffman of the Chemical Engineering Department at the University of Massachusetts Amherst a two-year grant of $174,000 to improve ultrafiltration membranes — a vital separation technology in drinking water purification plants and a broad range of industries, including beverage clarification, blood filtration/treatment, protein purification, and metal ion recovery.

A generous endowment established by Professor William C. Conner, Jr. of the Chemical Engineering (ChE) Department and his spouse Nancy L. Conner has created an incentive that the department will use as a powerful catalyst for its 60th-anniversary fundraising drive. Largely due to the Conners’ lead gift, the endowment for the department now stands at about $40,000. Now the Conners’ gift, entitled the Chemical Engineering Endowment Fund, will act as a challenge for faculty members, alumni, and other donors to boost that amount to $100,000 by the end of the fiscal year.

The College of Engineering welcomes five new faculty members for the fall semester of 2013: Boris Lau and Gouping (Gregg) Zhang, who will join the Civil and Environmental Engineering Department; Christos Dimitrakopoulos, joining the Chemical Engineering Department; Zlatan Aksamija, who will be a member of the Electrical and Computer Engineering Department; and Stephen Nonnenmann, in the Mechanical and Industrial Engineering Department.

Shelly Peyton, an assistant professor of chemical engineering at UMass Amherst, is one of 22 researchers who have been named Pew Scholars in the Biomedical Sciences by The Pew Charitable Trusts. The scholarships provide flexible funding to early career scientists researching the basis of perplexing health problems—including diabetes, autism, Parkinson’s disease, and cancer. Pew scholars receive $240,000 over four years to pursue their projects without direction or restriction.

Chemical engineering researchers Wei Fan, Paul Dauenhauer, and colleagues have discovered a new chemical process to make p-xylene, an important ingredient of common plastics, including recyclable plastic bottles, from biomass. The 90 percent yield from lignocellulosic biomass is the highest yield achieved to date.

Paul Dauenhauer of the Chemical Engineering Department at the University of Massachusetts Amherst is one of 14 researchers selected from around the world by DuPont to receive prestigious DuPont Young Professor Awards in 2013.

Tami Paluca, the Academic Advisor for Undergraduate Studies and Director of Alumni Affairs in the Chemical Engineering Department, is the recipient of a UMass Amherst Residential First-Year Experience Student Choice Award. The award was announced by Danielle Barone, First-Year Experience Specialist in the Residential Learning Communities for the UMass Amherst campus.

The College of Engineering was well-represented on April 26 during the 19th Annual Statewide Undergraduate Research Conference at the UMass Amherst Campus Center. Some 23 students from chemical, civil, and mechanical engineering were among more than 830 students from campuses across the Commonwealth of Massachusetts giving poster and oral presentations from a wide range of academic disciplines throughout the day.

For many years the communal student work center in the basement of the Chemical Engineering (ChE) Department was so cramped, dark, and primitive that it was nicknamed "The Cave"; a name and conditions that evoked the famous remark of Thomas Hobbes that life is "nasty, brutish, and short." Not anymore! In the past year the ChE department has moved its student work area into a light and commodious space on the first floor of Goessmann Lab and transformed it into a high-tech, student-friendly, cheerful hub known as the CRIB. That's short for ChE Research & Innovation Base.

Four College of Engineering students were honored during Undergraduate Commencement on Friday, May 10, when the University of Massachusetts Amherst honored the exemplary achievement, initiative, and leadership of its most talented and accomplished graduating seniors. Civil engineering major Zachary Robert Bemis and civil and environmental engineering major Timothy Light were among the 11 graduating seniors that have been named 21st Century Leaders, honored for far-ranging achievement, initiative, and social awareness.


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