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Prof. Vincent Rotello is one of ten researchers at the University of Massachusetts Amherst who 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 company says it “focuses on contemporary research achievement: Only highly cited papers in science and social science journals indexed in the Web of Science Core Collection during the 11-year period 2008-2018 were surveyed.”

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

Hosted by the Berthiaume Center for Entrepreneurship, a Celebration of Innovation Challenge: The Seed Pitch and Hult Prize was held on Wednesday, November 20. An audience of more than 100 students, faculty, staff, and community members were on hand as the top four Seed Pitch teams and the Hult Prize winner and runner-up were recognized and gave minute-long pitches of their ventures.

Competing in the Seed Pitch for $15,000 in equity-free funding, 17 teams gave five-minute pitches of their venture ideas and participated in Q&A with the panel of industry-expert judges. Held simultaneously, Hult Prize consisted of five-minute pitches and five-minute Q&A sessions with its own judging panel – on the line, advancing to the regional competitions in Boston in the spring.

Pitched by Hadley Beauregard (sophomore, biochemistry and molecular biology and German and Scandinavian studies), Hailey Charest (junior, biochemistry and molecular biology) and Bryanna Lexus Freitas (senior, chemistry and psychology), Bac-Be-Gone focuses on MRSA, an antibiotic resistant superbug that kills hundreds of thousands of people a year in hospitals across the world. Awarded $5,000 by the judges, Bac-Be-Gone creates products that immediately eliminate MRSA on contact.

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.

“When we put in the grant we solicited comments and surveyed the need from IALS and identified 30 labs that could use it,” Chen explains. “They testified to the need and committed to the cost share with NSF, which will come from IALS, the College of Natural Sciences, College of Engineering, central IT and the Vice Chancellor for Research and Engagement. This is going to be a really unique entity on campus, and it will have far-reaching impact,” he predicts. “It will be busy from the get-go.”

“I think NSF saw how much need and support we have. I want to particularly highlight the important contributions of Chris Misra and John Griffin of IT,” he adds. “They have taken the leadership in providing technical support that’s absolutely critical to me and other principal investigators on campus. Without them and their excellent help, this will not work, period.”

The new cluster, once carefully built up by Griffin, Chen and his co-investigators, will be managed by the IALS Computational and Modeling Core to provide long-term stability for operation and management, serving 250 IALS-affiliated research labs across 27 departments and seven colleges. “The GPU facility offers high-speed single- and double-precision operations as well as extreme parallelism to enhance current activities that contribute to the open science movement,” project leaders state.

It will also contribute to efforts to integrate regional education, outreach, diversity and economic activities, as the GPU facilities will be made available to researchers through Internet2 links and regional computing partnerships at MGHPCC. The researchers predict that the new cluster “will most likely lead to new developments and discoveries including novel GPU-enabled modeling and simulation technologies that may elucidate molecular mechanism of drug delivery, computational design catalysts for renewable energy and chemical synthesis, advanced computational analysis tools for next generation informatics and big data, and improved understanding of risk and resistance to breast cancer.”

A gift of $1.25 million from Mahoney Family, over five years to the College of Natural Sciences at UMass Amherst, will significantly expand the reach of the Integrated Concentration in Science program (iCons) by recruiting more faculty, providing more mentors for STEM students and funding the spread of the pioneering iCons program to other higher education institutions.

“Interdisciplinary solutions have always been the key to solving the tough problems,” says Richard J. Mahoney, a longtime UMass supporter whose family is providing the increased funding for iCons. “Although academic institutions are often stuck in their silos in the way they teach and operate, I’m happy to see that UMass Amherst is pioneering a more integrated real-world education for its students. I was present at the creation of iCons, and having watched the program grow, I've seen first-hand its impact on students and their future in science.

Mahoney’s family, including Barbara M. Mahoney ’55, William E. Mahoney ’55, and Robert M. Mahoney ’70 and Kathleen S. Mahoney ’70 are longtime supporters of the sciences at UMass Amherst.

“The iCons program has invented a revolutionary approach for teaching that fosters innovation, integration and impact,” said UMass Amherst Chancellor Kumble R. Subbaswamy. “This generous gift from the Mahoney family enables UMass to provide national leadership in this 21st century way of learning.” Robert S. Langer, the David H. Koch Institute Professor at MIT and a member of the UMass iCons Advisory Board, observed, “The UMass iCons program is unique across the USA. From my experience, iCons students have the leadership skills to ask the right questions, and the technical skills to find the right answers.”

Mahoney’s gift supports three separate funds that will dramatically broaden the impact of the UMass iCons program: the Directorship Fund, the Instructional Fund and the Evolution Fund. The Directorship Fund allows UMass Amherst to attract a world-class educator and researcher in STEM to direct the UMass iCons program. The director will be responsible for recruiting top-notch iCons faculty and partnering with companies and other universities to spread the program’s impact. Scott Auerbach, professor of chemistry at UMass Amherst and the iCons program’s founding director, is the first person to occupy this position as the newly appointed Mahoney Family Sponsored Executive Director. Auerbach has published two books and over a hundred articles on nanotechnology and clean energy, and has been at the forefront of educational innovation in STEM.

 

Upcoming Events

Joseph M Hardie
Dissertation Defense
Wednesday, January 8, 2020

“Chemical Manipulation Of Macrophages: Nanomaterial And Molecular Approaches”

2:00 pm
GSMN 153
Research Adviser:
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Patanachai "Kong" Limpikirati
Dissertation Defense
Wednesday, January 22, 2020

"Structural Analysis of Protein Therapeutics Using Covalent Labeling – Mass Spectrometry"

2:00 pm
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