News & Announcements

Gierasch Named as Inaugural Fellow of American Society for Biochemistry and Molecular Biology

photo of Lila Gierasch

Lila Gierasch, Distinguished Professor of biochemistry and molecular biology at UMass Amherst, was recently named one of the inaugural fellows of the American Society for Biochemistry and Molecular Biology (ASBMB). The fellowship recognizes members who have made outstanding contributions to the field through their research, teaching and mentoring, or other forms of service.

It’s an especially sweet recognition for Gierasch. “I have been a member of ASBMB since early in my career, back in 1981,” she says. Since those early days, Gierasch has gone on to a prolific career, authoring more than 250 papers, mentoring scores of students, and serving as the editor-in-chief of the “Journal of Biological Chemistry” since 2016. Read more

Chemistry’s You Wins Prestigious Camille Dreyfus Teacher-Scholar Award

photo of Mingxu You

When Mingxu You, assistant professor of chemistry at UMass Amherst, checked his WeChat messages, the last thing he expected to discover was that he had been awarded one of 16 $100,000 Teacher-Scholar unrestricted awards from the Camille and Henry Dreyfus Foundation. But when the award e-mail came later that day, he knew it was true. “It was quite an unexpected, and very welcome, surprise” he says. “We are thrilled,” says Ricard Metz, head of the chemistry department, “that Mingxu’s dynamic research and teaching have received this recognition.”

The Dreyfus Foundation’s Teacher-Scholar award goes to a handful of early-career chemists who “have each created an outstanding independent body of scholarship, and are deeply committed to education.” You is clearly both. Though he’s early in his career, he’s already authored or co-authored nearly 80 academic articles, and his lab is a hive of activity: it currently hosts ten graduate and five undergraduate students. In the past four years alone, he’s guided 15 undergrads, two postdocs, and five research fellows through advanced chemistry research, and in doing so is helping to introduce the next generation to the joys of chemistry. “The undergrads are getting real training,” say You. “They quickly learn what we’re doing in our lab, and they make real contributions to our experiments.” Read more

Timme-Laragy Publication Selected as NIEHS Extramural Paper of the Month

photo of Alicia Timme-Laragy

A new publication from Alicia Timme-Laragy, associate professor of environmental health sciences, has been selected as an extramural paper of the month by the National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences (NIEHS).

The article, titled “Developmental exposures to perfluorooctanesulfonic acid (PFOS) impact embryonic nutrition, pancreatic morphology, and adiposity in the zebrafish, Danio rerio,” appears in the April 2021 issue of the journal “Environmental Pollution.” Timme-Laragy’s co-authors include first author Karilyn Sant, who conducted the study while a postdoctoral researcher in Timme-Laragy’s lab, as well as UMass Amherst faculty members Gerry Downes, biology, and Yeonhwa Park, food science, and postdoctoral and student researchers Kate Annunziato, Sarah Conlin, Gregory Teicher, Phoebe Chen and Olivia Venezia. Read more

Kevin Guay receives honorable mention for NSF GRFP

photo of Kevin Guay

Kevin Guay (Hebert group) received honorable mention for his NSF GRFP proposal on "Understanding the Selectivity of a Key Quality Control Sensor within the Secretory Pathway of the Endoplasmic Reticulum." The NSF Graduate Research Fellowship Program recognizes and supports outstanding graduate students in NSF-supported science, technology, engineering, and mathematics disciplines who are pursuing research-based Master's and doctoral degrees at accredited United States institutions. Congratulations, Kevin! Read more

Vaishali Malik MS Thesis Defense

photo of Vaishali Malik

Wednesday, April 28, 2021
12:00 PM
Zoom link:  Please contact to be included on the email list for this announcement
Thesis Title:  Liposomal nanoparticles target TLR7/8-SHP2 to repolarize macrophages to aid in cancer immunotherapy
Advisor:  Ashish Kulkarni

Timme-Laragy Receives Women in Toxicology’s Outstanding Young Investigator Award

photo of Alicia Timme-Laragy

Associate professor of environmental health sciences Alicia Timme-Laragy received the 2021 Outstanding Young Investigator Award from the Society of Toxicology (SOT) Women in Toxicology Special Interest Group during the SOT’s annual meeting held March 12-26, in a virtual format. The award is given annually to individuals who have made significant contributions to the field of toxicology in the early stage of their careers.

“I am so honored to receive this award,” says Timme-Laragy. “I work with a great team of researchers and students here at UMass, and this award reflects their hard work as well. I’m excited to continue to build my research program and advance the fields of developmental toxicology and redox biology.” Read more

Madeline Tompach named finalist in Three Minute Thesis (3MT) competition

photo of Madeline Tompach

Madeline Tompach (2nd year MCB, Timme-Laragy Lab) has been named a finalist in the Graduate School’s Three Minute Thesis (3MT) competition.

Of the 35 preliminary round participants, 10 were selected as Finalists. These Finalists will compete for a $1,000 first place prize at the Campus Final, with the runner up receiving $500. Additionally, a People’s Choice award ($500) will be selected by audience vote at the virtual final. 

The virtual 3MT Final will be held on Thursday, March 18, 4-5:30pm via this link. Mark your calendars so we can all show our support for Madeline in the finals!

Carline Fermino do Rosario and Katherine Chacon-Vargas Awarded Certificates of Recognition for Leading STEM and Social Justice Journal Club

photo of Carline Fermino do Rosario and Katherine Chacon-Vargas

Katherine Chacon-Vargas and Carline Fermino do Rosario were presented with certificates of recognition for developing and leading the journal club, "STEM and Social Justice:  What is my role?" in the Fall 2020 semester. This journal club explored the impact of scientific research on society, specifically the social and health outcomes to marginalized communities and other global social issues that are sometimes underexplored. Students in this journal club reviewed scientific papers and discussed the responsibilities scientists have in social matters, and the roles of implicit bias, and cultural concepts and misconceptions.

The journal club was well attended and was so successful that plans are underway to offer a similar student-run journal club on an annual basis. We are truly grateful to Carline and Katherine for their organization and leadership of the STEM and Social Justice journal club, and for all of their contributions to increase diversity and inclusion in MCB.

Public Engagement Project Announces 2021 Faculty Fellows

photo of Dong Wang

The Public Engagement Project (PEP) at the University of Massachusetts Amherst announced the 2021 Public Engagement Faculty Fellows. Seven UMass faculty members from across seven departments and six colleges will draw on their substantial research records to impact policy, the work of practitioners and public debates.

Faculty fellows receive a stipend and technical training in communicating with non-academic audiences. The PEP Fellows Program facilitates connections between fellows and lawmakers on Beacon Hill and in the U.S. Congress, journalists, practitioners and others to share their research beyond the walls of academia. This is the eighth cohort of Public Engagement Faculty Fellows. 

The 2021 PEP Faculty Fellows include Dong Wang, associate professor, biochemistry and molecular biology. Wang studies how plants use beneficial bacteria (aka good germs). During the Public Engagement Fellowship, Wang will develop blogs and publications to encourage people to grow their own food locally, year-round, guided by his expert research on what plants like. Read more

UMass Amherst Researchers Gain Insight Into the Biology of a Deadly Fungus

photo of Lillian Fritz-Laylin

Researchers at the University of Massachusetts Amherst have gained new insight into the biological processes of a chytrid fungus responsible for a deadly skin infection devastating frog populations worldwide.

Led by cell biologist Lillian Fritz-Laylin, the team describes in a paper published Feb. 8 in Current Biology how the actin networks of Batrachochytrium dendrobatidis (Bd) also serve as an “evolutionary Rosetta Stone,” revealing the loss of cytoskeletal complexity in the fungal kingdom. 

“Fungi and animals seem so different, but they are actually pretty closely related,” says Fritz-Laylin, whose lab studies how cells move, which is a central activity in the progression and prevention of many human diseases. “This project, the work of Sarah Prostak in my lab, shows that during early fungal evolution, fungi probably had cells that looked something like our cells, and which could crawl around like our cells do.” Read more