News Highlights

IDGP Diversity, Equity and Inclusion Statement

The Interdepartmental Graduate Programs in Life Sciences (IDGPs) believe that a diverse, equitable and inclusive environment is critical to all that we do.  We recognize that systemic racism exists in our society and we pledge to educate ourselves so that we can change our ingrained habits and beliefs. We are committed to make our programs accessible to all and to increase the success of all our members. We dedicate our time, effort and financial resources to these activities. We work with Institutional leaders, faculty, staff and students to achieve these goals. We are providing this pdf link so that you are able to view a working document of our activities. 

We are proud of our amazing students and post docs who have worked tirelessly for the betterment of our community. Our students have fostered a tight-knit, progressive community and their recent efforts have resulted in this petition for systematic change.  We stand with them in recognizing that change is required in order to make progress toward a more equitable, just, diverse and inclusive environment. 

The University has established an Office of Diversity, Equity and Inclusion and their website provides links to many resources. We encourage you to make use of these tools, including links to videos, books and podcasts as well as programing, as we embark together on our journey to improve our community for all our members.  

Katie Schroeder's Latest Findings about Zebra Finch Nestlings

OEB student, Katie Schroeder's latest findings have been published in Developmental Neurobiology showing that zebra finch nestlings have auditory neurons that can already process and store songs like adults. Katie is a member of the Healey Lab at UMass Amherst

Dan Vahaba as a recent UMass NSB alum!

NSB alumnus, Daniel Vahaba, has been featured in the UMass Initiative on Neurosciences (IONs) newsletter highlighting recent publications. Dr. Vahaba published research in collaboration members of the Healey Lab in the Nature of Scientific Reports. Read more

Allyson Rosati ’19, ’20G publishes environmental epigenetics breakthrough

photo of Allyson Rosati and Rick Pilsner

Allyson Rosati arrived on the UMass Amherst campus from her nearby hometown of Holliston, Massachusetts with a dream of doing research that could improve human health. “I wanted to do something that would have a practical impact in a health-related field,” recalls Rosati, who joined the environmental epigenetics lab of associate professor Richard Pilsner as a sophomore.

It’s very rare for an undergraduate to publish research as the lead author in a peer-reviewed scientific journal. Rosati accomplished this and more after her research team identified a biomarker in sperm DNA that may predict male reproductive health and refine the diagnosis of male infertility. Rosati, 23, wrote a paper that was recently published paper in the journal Human Reproduction as part of her Commonwealth Honors College (CHC) thesis in 2019. 

A double-major in Spanish and biochemistry and molecular biology, Rosati also took advantage of the semester abroad offering, studying in Madrid in the spring of her junior year. As a senior,  she received a UMass Rising Researcher award and went on to complete a master’s degree at UMass, continuing her research in Pilsner’s lab. She graduated last spring from the one-year Molecular and Cellular Biology Graduate Program. Read more

UMass Amherst Scholar in the Plant Biology Graduate Program Among AAUW Fellowships and Grants Recipients

Jedaidah Chilufya

Jedaidah Chilufya, who is pursuing her Ph.D. in sustainable agriculture through the Plant Biology Gradaute Program at UMass Amherst, has received a 2020-21 International Fellowship from the American Association of University Women (AAUW). Read more

Saman Nayyab Receives Fellowship from the Male Contraceptive Initiative (MCI)

photo of Saman Nayyab

Saman Nayyab was appointed as a 2020 Research Fellow by the Male Contraceptive Initiative (MCI), a private non-profit foundation whose objective is to advocate for and promote the development of reversible non-hormonal male contraception. MCI Fellows will each receive $100,000 over the next two years to support their research. The support provided to MCI Fellows allows them to focus on the research, publish data, and build the background they need to sustain a long career as an investigator. 

Saman is a PhD candidate in Dr. Pablo Visconti’s lab studying the role of testis specific serine kinases (TSSKs) on male fertility. TSSKs are kinases present in both germ cells and mature sperm, leading to the hypothesis that they are essential for sperm differentiation and maturation. This MCI fellowship allows Saman to learn advanced instrumental techniques and develop impressive collaborations to target TSSKs as novel male contraceptives. Congratulations on this prestigious award, Saman! Read more

UMass Amherst Biologists Zero in on Cells’ Environmental Sensing Mechanism

R. Craig Albertson

Evolutionary and developmental biologist Craig Albertson and colleagues at the University of Massachusetts Amherst report that they have identified a molecular mechanism that allows an organism to change the way it looks depending on the environment it is exposed to, a process known as phenotypic plasticity.

In addition to lead investigators Albertson and Rolf Karlstrom, the team includes recently graduated doctoral students Dina Navon and Ira Male, current Ph.D. candidate Emily Tetrault and undergraduate Benjamin Aaronson. Their paper appears now in Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. Read more

Four MCB Students Awarded NIH BTP Traineeships

UMass BTP image

Emily Lopes (Fissore lab), Jessica McGory (Maresca lab), Justyne Ogdahl (Chien lab) and Madeline Tompach (Timmy-Laragy lab) received highly competitive Biotechnology Training Program Traineeships! BTP students are trained in an interdisciplinary fashion that expands career opportunities and sharpens professional skills. The UMass BTP emphasizes industrial partnerships, such as internships that provide hands-on access to cutting-edge biotechnology research, industrial seminars, and other industrial activities. Traineeships are typically awarded to students to support their 2nd and 3rd years of study, and trainee selection criteria include past performance (undergraduate institution and GPA, GRE scores), progress in the PhD program (grades and research productivity), and commitment to the BTP Program. Congratulations to Emily, Jessica, Justyne and Madeline on their awards! Read more


Joshua Foster and Rebecca Gordon receive competitive CBI traineeships

UMass CBI image

Joshua Foster (Chen lab) and Rebecca Gordon (Siegrist Lab) received prestigious traineeships from the Chemistry-Biology Interface program! The CBI program trains students with diverse scientific backgrounds for productive research at the interface between chemistry and biology. Science at the chemistry-biology interface brings the synthetic, mechanistic and analytical powers of chemistry to bear on new and exciting areas of biology. CBI Trainees take part in courses, seminars, discussions and research at the forefront of this emerging, interdisciplinary field. Trainee selection criteria include progress in the PhD program (grades and research productivity), and in the CBI Program (requirements satisfied, event participation). Past performance, such as undergraduate GPA, is also taken into account. CBI students must be nominated by CBI Training Faculty in spring of their first or second year of graduate study to be considered for traineeships that typically begin in September. Congratulations, Josh and Becky! Read more

Jun-Goo Kwak receives prestigious NSF NRT fellowship

photo of Jun-Goo Kwak

Jun-Goo Kwak (Lee lab) has received the prestigious NSF Soft Materials for Life Sciences National Research Traineeship (SMLS-NRT) for the 2020-2021 academic year! This traineeship engages faculty and students at the University of Massachusetts Amherst in a graduate education model that trains students in T-shaped skills. The vertical bar on the T represents the depth of related skills and expertise in a single field, whereas the horizontal bar is the ability to collaborate across disciplines with experts in other areas and to apply knowledge in areas of expertise other than one's own. The program will provide training breadth across multiple professional and other technical skill areas while developing quality depth in the trainee’s area of specialization. Life scientists, physical scientists and engineers will be brought together to generate dynamic team leadership skills and to catalyze innovation. Congratulations, Jun-Goo! Read more