News & Announcements

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 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 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.  

Two MCB Alumnae Receive Byron Prize for Best Dissertation

photo of Kathy Sanidad and Alex Wells

Congratulations to Kathy Sanidad and Alex Wells on receiving the 2020 Byron Prize for Best Dissertation! Kathy and Alex both earned PhD degrees from MCB in 2019.

While at UMass, Kathy worked in Guodong Zhang's lab, and did her dissertation project on "Environmental Risk Factors for Inflammatory Bowel Disease:  Triclosan and Other Consumer Antimicrobials." Dr. Sanidad is currently a postdoc in Melody Zeng’s lab in Weill Cornell Medicine, working on two projects focused on host-gut microbiome interactions in the context of human health and disease.

Alex worked in the Pobezinsky lab at UMass, and wrote her dissertation on "Let-7 MiRNAs Program The Fate Of CD8 T Cells." Dr. Wells is currently a postdoc in Yasmine Belkaid’s lab at NIAID/NIH, where they aim to understand the mechanisms controlling host microbe interactions at barrier sites such as the skin and the gut, two sites that represent the first portal of pathogen exposure and are major anatomical sites for development of inflammatory disorders.

Save the Date:  Alex and Kathy will be presenting about their research for an MCB seminar on Tuesday, September 22, 2020, from 4-5pm! 

MCB Faculty Receive CNS Outstanding Achievement Awards

Dean Tricia Serio of the College of Natural Sciences (CNS) recently announced this year’s recipients of the college’s Outstanding Achievement Awards, which recognize faculty, staff and students who have made important contributions to their discipline, department, college and university. The following MCB faculty were recognized with these awards:

Teaching 
Randall Phillis, associate professor, biology 

Research 
Lila Gierasch, distinguished professor, biochemistry and molecular biology 
Li-Jun Ma, associate professor, biochemistry and molecular biology 

Service/Engagement 
Janice Telfer, professor, veterinary and animal sciences 

Congratulations to all of the award winners! Read more

Pobezinsky Receives NIH Grant to Investigate RNA and T-cells

photo of Leonid Pobezinsky

Immunologist Leonid Pobezinsky, veterinary and animal sciences, recently received a five-year, $2.7 million grant from the NIH’s National Institute for Allergy and Infectious Diseases to study specialized microRNA and T-cells. He and his colleagues plan to take a very specific and narrow approach to exploring the possible role of the small non-coding ribonucleic acid (RNA) known as let-7 microRNA in fine-tuning the immune system’s balance of T-cell survival and function.

Pobezinsky will collaborate with his wife, research assistant professor Elena Pobezinskaya, associate professor Eric Strieter, chemistry, an expert in protein homeostasis, and assistant professor of biology Courtney Babbitt, an expert in quantitative biology and big data analysis. Together they will explore the molecular mechanisms of let-7 mediated regulation of the immune responses. Read more

MCB Alumnus Receives Society of Toxicology Awards

photo of Archit Rastogi

Recent MCB PhD alumnus Archit Rastogi claimed top prizes at the Society of Toxicology’s (SOT) annual meeting held virtually this past spring. The awards were given by the Mechanisms Specialty Section, which represents a diverse group of SOT members who have common interests and expertise in elucidating the cellular, biochemical and molecular mechanisms of action of toxic substances. Archit worked in the lab of associate professor of environmental health sciences Alicia Timme-Laragy and received two awards: the Sheldon D. Murphy Student Travel Award and third place for the Carl C. Smith Student Mechanisms Award. These awards were given for Rastogi’s research on modulating glutathione in the developing zebrafish. Read more

Study Underway to Estimate Coronavirus Exposure in the Campus Community

A team of researchers has launched a study to explore the rate of SARS-CoV-2 (COVID-19) exposure in the UMass Amherst campus community, inviting faculty, staff and students to voluntarily participate. “The goal of our study is to increase understanding of coronavirus exposures with the UMass community and statewide,” says infectious-disease epidemiologist Andrew Lover, assistant professor in the School of Public Health and Health Sciences, who is heading up the study. In his lab, Dominique Alfandari, professor of developmental biology in the Veterinary and Animal Sciences Institute, will conduct the enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay (ELISA) to detect novel coronavirus antibodies in the blood samples. 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 receives competitive CBI traineeship

photo of Joshua Foster

Joshua Foster (Chen lab) received a prestigious NIH-funded traineeship 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! Read more

Carline Fermino Do Rosario receives prestigious NSF NRT fellowship

photo of Carline Fermino Do Rosario

Carline Fermino Do Rosario (Wadsworth/Ross labs) 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, Carline! 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

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