The University of Massachusetts Amherst
University of Massachusetts Amherst

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On July 29, a behind-the-scenes article by Robert Coolman, a graduate student in the lab of George Huber of the Chemical Engineering Department, was posted on the popular LiveScience website in partnership with the National Science Foundation (NSF). Coolman’s article explained the groundbreaking research on green gasoline being performed in Huber’s lab, which has been described in such prominent publications as Scientific AmericanScience, and MIT’s Technology Review. His work is being supported by large grants from the NSF, the Department of Defense, and the Department of Energy.

What if we could save lives with a more accurate early detection radar system for tornadoes such as the one that recently hit Springfield? Or what if we could help amputees walk more easily by giving them a better “feel” for their artificial limbs? Or replace our unsustainable oil supply with sustainable biofuel? Or cure a group of child-killing diseases known as lysosomal storage disorders. Are these just pipedreams? Not for 52 undergraduate engineering and science students doing summer research at the University of Massachusetts Amherst.

On July 19, the Institute for Cellular Engineering (ICE), whose Director is Susan Roberts of the Chemical Engineering Department, is staging an outreach event for 10 local high school students designed to introduce them to the complex and fascinating world of cellular engineering. “Essentially, the students are high school students from Springfield and Holyoke,” says ICE Program Manager Shana Passonno, “and students from the Institute for Cellular Engineering are organizing a day of laboratory demonstrations and activities, lab tours, and an undergraduate panel session about life as a college student.”

An event initiated last year by the Institute for Cellular Engineering (ICE) has mushroomed this summer into a campus-wide career exploration forum for graduate students and post-docs. “The First Five Years: What to Expect?” was held on Wednesday, July 13, in the Integrated Sciences Building on campus. “Are you hoping to start your career on the right path?” the program's poster asked. “Gain valuable insights from accomplished industrial and academic professionals, as they reflect upon their early career experiences.”

Professor Surita Bhatia of the Chemical Engineering Department was one of 24 women academics who attended a meeting on May 12 and 13 dealing with the issues of female academics in nanoscience fields. Some problems addressed at the meeting included the pressures placed on young assistant professors during the years when they are having children and trying to make tenure at the same time, the disadvantages women face by taking maternity leave, childcare issues, and the increasing underrepresentation of female undergrads in nanoscience fields.

Dr. Paul Dauenhauer of the Chemical Engineering Department received word of a $149,234 grant from the 2011 Northeast Sun Grant Initiative (NESGI) Competitive Grants program, bringing to almost $1 million the total funding he has been awarded from three sources in little more than a month. From early March until mid-April, his dovetailing research projects were also funded with an $800,000 Early Career Award in Basic Energy Sciences from the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE), plus $15,000 from a highly selective 3M Nontenured Faculty Award.

Ray Sehgal, a Ph.D. student in chemical engineering who is advised by ChE Professors Dimitrios Maroudas and David Ford (pictured), has been selected to attend the 2011 Open Science Grid (OSG) Summer School at the University of Wisconsin–Madison in June, as well as the TeraGrid 2011 Conference this July in Salt Lake City. Admission to the OSG summer school is highly competitive, with only 27 percent of the applicants accepted this year.

It’s official. The Institute for Cellular Engineering (ICE) and its Director, Professor Susan Roberts of the Chemical Engineering Department, have unveiled the first campus graduate certificate targeting the critical interface between engineering and the life sciences. The certificate also gives students a big edge when applying for jobs. The 19-credit curriculum for this concentration includes new courses, a diverse array of electives, a graduate seminar series, a student-run journal club and research seminar, ethics training, hands-on lab modules, and professional development activities.

Nationally recognized “green gasoline” researcher and advocate George Huber, from the Chemical Engineering Department at the University of Massachusetts Amherst, has been selected for an esteemed Camille Dreyfus Teacher-Scholar Award, which includes an unrestricted research grant of $75,000. Dr. Huber becomes the third member of the Chemical Engineering Department’s current faculty to win this highly selective national award in the chemical sciences.

Dr. Paul Dauenhauer of the Chemical Engineering Department at the University of Massachusetts Amherst has been awarded a prized Early Career Award in Basic Energy Sciences from the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE). The award will provide $800,000 for five years to support his research on “Natural and Primary Catalysts for Molten Cellulose Pyrolysis to Targeted Bio‐oils.” “Our ability to provide fuels and chemicals in a sustainable manner for future generations presents the largest global challenge for reaction engineering in the 21st century,” says Dauenhauer.


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