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.  

Ford Foundation Dissertation Fellowship Awarded to NSB doctoral student, Mélise Edwards

Congratulations to Mélise Edwards for being awarded a Ford Foundation Fellowship. Mélise is 2nd year PhD student in the Hormones & Cognition lab at UMass Amherst and the founder of MUSE Mentorship. She interested in age-related cognitive decline and the role of hormones like estrogen in cognition and cell signaling.

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.

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

Kiserian Jackson Awarded CBI Traineeship

photo of Kiserian Jackson

Kiserian Jackson (Siegrist 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. Congratulations, Kiserian! Read more

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

Pages