Undergraduate Researchers at College of Engineering Will Display Their Summer Projects on Aug. 1

AMHERST, Mass. – Students doing summer research projects at the University of Massachusetts Amherst College of Engineering are hosting a poster session to showcase their work on Friday, Aug. 1 from 10 a.m. to noon in 1009 Campus Center. The event is free and open to the public.

The nearly three dozen students are working with the Institute for Cellular Engineering (ICE), Collaborative Undergraduate Research in Energy (CURE) and Biological and Soft Matter Research Traineeship. The student research projects include manipulating cells to produce pharmaceuticals, creating more user-friendly automobile displays that prevent accidents, producing biofuels and developing ways to inform governments about the economic advantages of offshore wind energy.

The student researchers will be available to explain each project. The research is funded by the National Science Foundation.

Momoha Takahashi of the mechanical and industrial engineering (MIE) department is working with faculty sponsor and department head Don Fisher on finding new ways to display information, such as street maps, which will minimize the amount of time needed for a driver to glance away from the road. The idea is based on research showing that a diverted glance of more than two seconds greatly increases a driver’s chance of an accident.

Michaela Jacobs is working with Susan Roberts, chemical engineering professor and ICE director, along with doctoral student Sarah Wilson, on developing a process to supply the anti-cancer agent Taxol. Jacobs and her team are looking for conditions that can be manipulated to increase the yields of Taxol.  

Sarah Mangels is working with MIE Professor Erin Baker on the economics of offshore wind energy. They are studying the factors that contribute to the cost of the technology and how to reduce those costs. The team is also trying to determine how the costs associated with offshore wind energy differ from onshore wind turbines.

CURE student Kevin De La Cruz is working with the research group of chemistry Professor Scott Auerbachon a project that explores biofuels as an ideally carbon-neutral renewable energy technology. Expanding the biofuel industry requires new chemical and engineering technologies to process cellulosic biomass, a readily available and cheap feedstock.