News & Announcements

Shelly Peyton Elected a Fellow of the American Institute for Medical and Biological Engineering

photo of Shelly Peyton

Shelly Peyton, associate professor of chemical engineering, has been elected to the College of Fellows of the American Institute for Medical and Biological Engineering (AIMBE). The college is made up of 2,000 members, the top 2% of the medical and biological engineering community, who are outstanding bioengineers in academia, industry, clinical practice and government.

AIMBE is a Washington, D.C.-based non-profit organization that represents the most accomplished individuals in the fields of medical and biological engineering. “As chair of AIMBE’s College of Fellows, I oversee the nomination, review and election process,” says Paul Citron. “I can say without any hesitation the Class of 2020 is truly remarkable. This year AIMBE received the largest number of nominations - all of which were qualified candidates.”

Peyton is the head of the Peyton Research Group. She says, “We are several women and men, engineers, and biologists, and our mission is to learn how cells process information from their chemical and physical tissue environment.” Read more

Ten UMass Amherst Researchers Recognized Among World’s Most Highly Cited Scientists

Ten researchers at the University of Massachusetts Amherst have been recognized for being among the world’s most highly cited researchers in 2019 by London-based Clarivate Analytics, owner of the Web of Science. Now in its sixth year, the citation analysis identifies influential researchers as determined by their peers around the world. They have consistently won recognition in the form of high citation counts over a decade. These scientists are judged to be influential, and their citation records are seen as “a mark of exceptional impact,” the company says.

The ten UMass Amherst researchers recognized on the 2019 list are Catrine Tudor-Locke and Laura Vandenberg of the School of Public Health and Health Sciences, food scientists David Julian McClements, Eric Decker and Hang Xiao, microbiologist Kelly Nevin and Derek Lovley, materials scientist Thomas Russell and chemist Vincent Rotello in the College of Natural Sciences, and environmental chemist Baoshan Xing of the Stockbridge School of Agriculture. Read more

Timme-Laragy Hosts Workshop on PFAS Contamination for State Legislators

photo of Alicia Timme-Laragy

Alicia Timme-Laragy, associate professor of environmental health sciences, a developmental toxicologist with expertise in how early life exposures to pollutants affect health, recently hosted a workshop for elected officials and candidates on the health risks associated with per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS) chemicals. “PFAS 101: Current Research and Health Risks” brought staff representing a number of state representatives and senators, Westfield city councilors, and staffers from Sens. Elizabeth Warren and Ed Markey's office to campus to introduce legislators to the current state of research and raise awareness of the health risks associated with PFAS chemicals. Read more

Chen Receives NSF Grant to Support Computing Cluster

photo of Jianhan Chen

To support a broadly shared Graphic Processing Unit (GPU)-enabled high-performance computing cluster for the Institute for Applied Sciences (IALS), computational biophysicist Jianhan Chen, chemistry and biochemistry and molecular biology, with others, recently was awarded a two-year, $415,000 grant from the National Science Foundation (NSF) that will fill what Chen calls “a critical need” for enabling computation-intensive research activities on campus.

Although the UMass system has a traditional shared cluster housed at the Massachusetts Green High-performance Computing Center (MGHPCC) in Holyoke, Chen points out, the current cluster has “minimal GPU capacity” and the campus and IALS need dedicated GPU computing hardware to support their research communities. His co-principal investigators on the project are Erin Conlon, mathematics and statistics, Peng Bai, chemical engineering, Chungwen Liang, IALS director of computational modeling, and Matthew Moore, food science.

Statistician Flaherty, Molecular Biologist Chien Join Forces

Patrick Flaherty, professor of mathematics and statistics, was recently awarded a three-year, $582,883 grant from the National Institutes of Health’s (NIH) National Institute of General Medical Sciences to better understand cellular protein homeostasis, the balance between protein creation and destruction. The dysregulation of protein homeostasis is one of the primary paths that allows diseases such as Alzheimer's, Huntington’s or Parkinson’s to develop.

Flaherty is an expert on statistical tools used to analyze large genomic data sets. He is collaborating on this award with Peter Chien, professor of biochemistry and molecular biology, who is an expert on the highly regulated cellular cleanup system in which specialized proteins called proteases degrade damaged or no-longer-needed proteins – a system critical for protein homeostasis. They plan to develop new statistical and computational tools to analyze large-scale genetic experiments to catalog the essential components of this system, which Flaherty and Chien hope will lead to better understanding of pathways important for many human diseases. Read more

Archit Rastogi receives SfRBM 2019 Young Investigator Award

photo of Archit Rastogi

Archit Rastogi received the Irwin Fridovich YIA Award for one of the top two scored abstracts/presentations at Society for Redox Biology and Medicine Conference in November. These awards were made available to students and postdoctoral fellows based on a submitted abstract and the presentation of the work at the annual meeting, either in oral or poster symposia. Fifteen awards at $500 each and one Undergraduate Award at $200 were presented at the SfRBM 2019 Awards Banquet in Las Vegas. Archit works in the Timme-Laragy lab, and his talk title was "Pancreatic Nrf2 expression and organ morphogenesis is altered by Glutathione modulation in the Developing Zebrafish (Danio rerio) Embryo." Read more

Jason Pizzollo PhD dissertation defense

photo of Jason Pizzollo

Wednesday, December 4, 2019
10:00 AM
Life Sciences Laboratory, Room N410
Dissertation Title:  “Characterizing adaptive non-coding changes in the regulation of human gene expression”
Advisor:  Courtney Babbitt

Trisha Zintel PhD dissertation defense

photo of Trisha Zintel

Wednesday, November 20, 2019
9:00 AM
Life Sciences Laboratory, Room N410
Dissertation Title:  “De-coding the impact of evolved changes in gene expression and cellular phenotype on primate evolution”
Advisor:  Courtney Babbitt

Korin Albert PhD dissertation defense

photo of Korin Albert

Wednesday, November 20, 2019
1:00 PM
Morrill 4 South, Room 345A
Dissertation Title:  “Exploring signatures of host-microbial coevolution between colonic Bifidobacterium species and host dietary carbohydrates”
Advisor:  David Sela

UMass Amherst Researchers Develop New Technology to Detect Foodborne Disease

photo of Matthew Moore

University of Massachusetts Amherst food scientist Matthew Moore has received two grants from the USDA to apply new technology in an effort to more quickly detect and trace foodborne disease caused by noroviruses and bacteria.

Under the USDA’s Agriculture and Food Research Initiative, Moore and Min Chen, a UMass Amherst associate professor of chemistry, received a $490,000 grant to develop and evaluate a portable sensing device capable of both identifying and subtyping foodborne pathogens, including bacteria and viruses. “Human noroviruses and Salmonella enterica are the leading causes of foodborne illness and foodborne death in the United States, respectively,” Moore says. “One of the major elements to control these pathogens is the ability to rapidly and portably detect them. Dr. Chen has developed an extremely promising sensing platform that has shown great results for clinical applications, and we hope to translate that progress to pathogenic microorganisms.” 

In related research funded under the USDA’s Improving Food Safety Program, Moore and University of Florida food microbiologist Melissa Jones were awarded a $250,000 grant to use a new and potentially more effective way to concentrate and identify human noroviruses from food and environmental samples. Read more