News & Announcements

MCB Alumna, Yadilette Rivera-Colon, featured InFocus: STEM education programs

photo of Yadilette Rivera-Colon

Yadilette Rivera-Colon, currently a member of the Girls Inc. Board of Directors and an Assistant Professor of Biology and Undergraduate Research Program Coordinator at Bay Path University, was interviewed on 22News InFocus for a discussion about some of the many STEM educational programs available in western Massachusetts. They spoke with people involved with creating those programs and the STEM educators who work with students every day. Yadilette also recently returned to UMass to participate in a panel discussion about Teaching at Smaller Institutions organized by the Office of Professional Development. Full interview (~32:15)

Research Team Aims to Improve Accuracy in Sequencing Large Genomes 

photo of M. Muthukumar

Theoretical physicist Murugappan Muthukumarat has a four-year, $1.39 million grant from the National Institutes of Health’s National Human Genome Research Institute to overcome known hurdles that are hindering work to sequence mammalian-sized genomes. Read more

Researcher Finds GRE Scores Not Predictive of STEM Doctoral Degree Completion 

photo of Sandra Petersen

Researchers led by Sandra L. Petersen, professor of neuroendocrine studies, have found convincing evidence that Graduate Record Exam (GRE) scores are not predictive of STEM doctoral degree completion, and that relying on scores from the quantitative section (GRE Q) of the exam is likely to exclude talented students who score below arbitrarily defined “acceptable” scores, but who have other characteristics that are likely better predictors of success. Read more

2018 MCB Retreat at Stratton Mountain

8th Annual Life Sciences Graduate Research Symposium

UMass Amherst Chemists Publish ‘Breakthrough’ Article on RNA Sequencing

photo of Craig Martin

Chemist Craig Martin and colleagues including first author and doctoral student Yasaman Gholamalipour report they have solved the longstanding mystery of what’s happening to cause RNA sequences to replicate inaccurately in high-yield situations. Details of the work supported by the National Science Foundation appear in Nucleic Acids Research, where journal editors tagged the paper as a “breakthrough article” that presents “high-impact studies answering long-standing questions in the field of nucleic acids research and/or opening up new areas and mechanistic hypotheses for investigation,” and representing “the very best papers published at NAR.” Read more

UMass Amherst Researchers Plan to Develop Alternative Energy Source for Muscle

Muscle biophysicist Ned Debold in the kinesiology department at the University of Massachusetts Amherst’s School of Public Health and Health Sciences, with Dhandapani Venkataraman and Jianhan Chen of the chemistry department, are collaborating on a project to develop a compound to serve as an alternative energy source for skeletal and cardiac muscle during times of stress. The work is supported by a two-year, $200,000 Innovative Project Award from the American Heart Association. Read more

Trustees Approve Tenure Awards for 4 Faculty Members

photo of Alicia Timme-Laragy

Four faculty members were awarded tenure following approval by the Board of Trustees at its Sept. 19 meeting in Lowell:

William Hite, music and dance
Mario Parente, electrical and computer engineering
Alicia R. Timme-Laragy, environmental health sciences
Kristine M. Yu, linguistics

Read more


Smarty Plants
UMass Amherst scientists work to crack a code that might help nourish the world

Smarty Plants: Maize

Iron deficiency anemia is a huge global problem. It affects 2 billion people, particularly in low-income countries where many rely on grain as a staple. Yet so far, plants have managed to outwit our efforts to convince them to carry more iron. University of Massachusetts Amherst molecular biologist Elsbeth Walker has received a three-year $870,000 grant from the National Science Foundation to discover exactly how plants regulate the amount of iron they take up through their roots. Read More

UMass Amherst Food Scientists Partner with ‘Real Pickles’ to Profile Microbes at a Fermented Vegetable Facility

pickled vegetables

Writing in Applied and Environmental Microbiology, UMass Amherst Commonwealth Honors College student and co-first-author Jonah Einson, with research fellow Asha Rani and senior investigator professor David Sela, have mapped and characterized microbial populations in a vegetable fermentation facility and report that its microbiome was distinct between production and fermentation areas and that the raw vegetables themselves – cabbages destined for sauerkraut – were the main source of fermentation-related microbes in production areas rather than handling or other environmental sources. Read more