Seven UMass Amherst Faculty among ‘World’s Leading Scientific Minds,’ Says New Survey of Highly Cited Researchers

AMHERST, Mass. – Seven University of Massachusetts Amherst faculty members are among “the world’s leading scientific minds,” whose publications are again among the most influential in their fields, according to a survey by leading multinational media and information firm Thomson Reuters.

The Thomson Reuters compilers, who set out to identify “some of the best and brightest scientific minds of our time,” recognized UMass Amherst food scientists Eric Decker and David Julian McClements, chemist Vincent Rotello, polymer scientist Thomas Russell, soil chemist Baoshan Xing of the Stockbridge School of Agriculture, microbiologist Derek Lovley and astronomer Mauro Giavaliso in its recent Highly Cited Researchers 2015 list. All seven were on last year’s list as well.             

The faculty members are all in UMass Amherst’s College of Natural Sciences. CNS Dean Steve Goodwin said, “The seven researchers identified by Thomson Reuters are engaged in exceptionally high quality science and have demonstrated a significant impact on their fields of study. Their continuing recognition is a source of great pride for the university.”

The UMass Amherst researchers are among more than 3,000 researchers in 21 fields who earned this distinction “by writing the greatest numbers of reports officially designated by Essential Science Indicators as highly cited papers, ranking among the top 1 percent most cited for their subject field and year of publication, earning them the mark of exceptional impact.”

To focus on “more contemporary research achievement” and “recognize early and mid-career as well as senior researchers,” the Thomson Reuters team surveyed only articles and reviews in science and social sciences journals indexed in the Web of Science Core Collection during the period 2003-13. Next, as an impact measure they considered only Highly Cited Papers, those ranked in the top 1 percent by citations for field and year, instead of total citations.

“Relatively younger researchers are more apt to emerge in such an analysis than in one dependent on total citations over many years,” compilers note. Data used in the analysis and selection came from Essential Science Indicators, 2002-12, which included 113,092 Highly Cited Papers.

The Thomson Reuters group determined how many researchers to include in the list for each field based on the population of each field. The analysis does not include letters to the editor, correction notices and other marginalia.

The ranking team notes that “there are many highly accomplished and influential researchers who are not recognized by the method described above and whose names do not appear in the new list,” and “the only reasonable approach to interpreting a list of top researchers such as ours is to fully understand the method behind the data and results, and why the method was used.”