Armstrong Fund for Science Press Releases

Jump to 2009  |  2008  | 2007

2010 award

ARMSTRONG FUND FOR SCIENCE SUPPORTS BOLD VISIONS IN CYBERSECURITY AT UMASS

AMHERST, Mass. - The fourth annual UMass Amherst Armstrong Fund for Science award has been given to a computer scientist, Professor Kevin Fu. Dr. Fu was one of the first to draw widespread attention to the security and privacy risks of wireless, implantable medical devices, and he has been at the forefront of inventing solutions that improve security and privacy, yet use little or no battery power. The Armstrong award will be used to raise the profile of our campus as a leader in cybersecurity and to extend the resources and expertise available for graduate students working under Fu’s direction. A portion of the award will establish an innovative program to build a comprehensive library of contributed medical devices for security and privacy research. Dr. Fu will be recognized at the campus’s annual Research Recognition dinner in May 2010 and funding will commence in July 2010.  

John and Elizabeth Armstrong established the Armstrong Fund for Science in 2006 to recognize researchers with aggressive research visions. “Elizabeth and I want to promote major scientific advances in society by supporting researchers with bold vision, documented credentials, and a passion for results,” says John Armstrong.

“The campus greatly appreciates the Armstrongs’ generosity and confidence in our institution and faculty,” says Vice Chancellor for Research and Engagement, Michael Malone. “Giving our faculty opportunities to excel in their research is an extraordinary gesture.  The Armstrongs are visionary and exemplary members of our community,” continues Malone. Grants are made from this fund, administered by the Office of the Vice Chancellor for Research and Engagement, on an annual basis using a competitive proposal process. “We are happy that there is so much interest!” notes Elizabeth Armstrong. Sixteen proposals were submitted for the program this year.  

Dr. Fu leads the Security and Privacy Research (SPQR) Lab and the Consortium for Security and Privacy (CUSP) http://www.rfidcusp.org/. His research combines computer science, electrical engineering and medical device design. He has already placed the campus in a leading position for research in the security and privacy of pervasive computing ranging from RFID to wireless healthcare technology such as pacemakers and implantable cardiac defibrillators. In 2009, he received the Innovator of the Year award from MIT’s Technology Review http://www.technologyreview.com/TR35/Profile.aspx?trid=760

As Fu notes in his proposal, low-power embedded computing has proliferated in recent years and changed the way humans and computers interact with wireless communication and global connectivity. However, these technologies introduce security and privacy risks with the potential for severe consequences---especially in the case of life-sustaining medical devices. Dr. Fu’s research aims to identify and minimize these risks so that emerging medical devices do not suffer the same fate as desktop computing and the Internet, which are now overwhelmed with malicious software and security vulnerabilities.

As part of the Armstrong Fund program, awardees present a public lecture at the end of their grant. In Fall 2009, prior Armstrong awardee, Professor Janice Telfer of Veterinary and Animal Science, presented the second “Science for Non-scientists” lecture at the Hitchcock Center for the Environment in Amherst on “Waking Up Sleepy Stem Cells.” In Fall 2010 and Spring 2011, the 2008 and 2009 awardees, Drs. Yeonhwa Park and Jennifer Ross, will present on their research, and Dr. Fu will present his work in Fall 2011.  

2009 award

ARMSTRONG FUND FOR SCIENCE SUPPORTS 
BOLD VISIONS

IN BIOPHYSICS AT UMASS

AMHERST, Mass. – The third annual UMass Amherst Armstrong Fund for Science award has been given to physicist, Professor Jennifer Ross. Dr. Ross’ work combines physics and biological research in a project investigating how cells organize themselves and how they can be re-created experimentally in the lab. She was recognized at the campus’s annual Research Recognition dinner on May 12 and funding will commence in July 2009.

John and Elizabeth Armstrong established the Armstrong Fund for Science in 2006 to recognize researchers with aggressive research visions. “Elizabeth and I want to promote major scientific advances in society by supporting researchers with bold vision, documented credentials, and a passion for results,” says John Armstrong, “The campus greatly appreciates the Armstrongs’ generosity and confidence in our institution and faculty,” says Vice Chancellor for Research and Engagement, Paul Kostecki. “Giving our faculty opportunities to excel in their research is an extraordinary gesture. The Armstrongs are visionary and exemplary members of our community,” continues Kostecki. Grants are made from this fund, administered by the Office of the Vice Provost for Research, on an annual basis using a competitive proposal process. “We were really struck that there is so much interest!” notes Elizabeth Armstrong. Fifteen proposals were submitted for the program this year.

Dr. Ross’ goal is to understand the physical forces acting within live cells from the nano-level of individual proteins to micron-scale networks and recreate the conditions for their self-assembly in the test-tube. In collaboration with researchers in biology, she has developed ways to purify and manipulate the cell’s “skeleton,” called “microtubules” using nano-motors made of protein. Ross uses advanced microscope techniques to see single proteins with fluorescent components and create a nano-tractor beam using lasers. These cutting edge techniques allow her to measure the location and physical force and torque that individual motors apply to microtubules. The motors cause the microtubules to bend and pivot, creating patterns that organize into networks, and eventually into the structures that govern crucial functions like cell-division. During cell division, different types of motors pull and push against each other in opposition to pull the chromosomes apart to the two new daughter cells. Using the purified sub-components isolated with these techniques, her project is attempting to find the balance point where the opposing forces create stability. The long term goal of the project is to recreate the cellular structures in the test tube – building them from the bottom-up.
  

As part of the Armstrong Fund program requirements, projects are required to have a public lecture at the end of their duration. In Fall 2008, 2007 awardee Harry Bermudez of Polymer Science and Engineering presented the first “Science for Non-scientists” lecture at the Jones Library in Amherst on “ The Locks and Keys of the Immune System: Opening the Right Door,” In Fall 2009 and Spring 2010, previous Armstrong awardees Dr. Janice Telfer and Yeonhwa Park will present on their stem cell research, and Dr. Ross will present her work in Fall 2010.   
 

2008 award

ARMSTRONG FUND FOR SCIENCE SUPPORTS 
BOLD VISIONS IN THE LIFE SCIENCES AT UMASS

AMHERST, Mass. – The second annual UMass Amherst Armstrong Fund for Science award has been given to food scientist, Professor Yeonhwa Park . Dr. Park's work combines stem cell research and food science research in a project investigating molecular mechanisms that affect bone formation. She will be recognized at the campus's annual Research Recognition dinner on May 14 and funding will commence in July 2008.

John and Elizabeth Armstrong established the Armstrong Fund for Science in 2006 to recognize researchers with aggressive research visions. “Elizabeth and I want to promote major scientific advances in society by supporting researchers with bold vision, documented credentials, and a passion for results,” says John Armstrong, who is vice president of the UMass Amherst Foundation Board of Directors. We greatly appreciate the Armstrongs' generosity and confidence in our institution and faculty,” says Vice Chancellor for Research and Engagement Paul Kostecki.  “Giving our faculty opportunities to excel in their research is an extraordinary gesture. The Armstrongs are visionary and exemplary members of our community,” continues Kostecki.

Grants are made from this fund, administered by the Office of the Vice Chancellor for Research and Engagement, on an annual basis using a competitive proposal process. “ We were really struck that there is so much interest!” notes Elizabeth Armstrong. Fifteen proposals from 16 researchers were submitted for the program this year.

Dr. Park's project targets a unique strategy to prevent osteoporosis, a disease of low bone mass which affects the quality of life and mortality of elderly patients. She works with conjugated linoleic acid (CLA), a compound that was originally identified in beef as an anti-cancer agent. Recently, it has been shown to have other beneficial qualities, including an ability to enhance bone mass. Park's work takes advantage of the fact that CLA inhibits a receptor that promotes the development of fat cells and suppresses the formation of osteoblasts, a critical component of bone. When CLA interrupts the receptor's role in the formation of fat, it simultaneously increases the formation of bone. Her proposal calls for using bone marrow mesenchymal stem cells to investigate CLA's activity. The long term goal of the project is to develop dietary and supplement-based interventions to reduce bone loss. 



As part of the Armstrong Fund program requirements, projects are required to have a public lecture at the end of their duration. This fall, 2007 winner Harry Bermudez of Polymer Science and Engineering will present the first Armstrong Lecture on his work on a “library” of cell surface patterns his lab is creating, so that diseased cells which have disguised their surfaces can be quickly recognized and treated.
 

2007 awards

ARMSTRONG FUND FOR SCIENCE SUPPORTS 
BOLD VISIONS IN THE LIFE SCIENCES AT UMASS

AMHERST , Mass. – The first UMass Amherst Armstrong Fund for Science awards have been given to an immunologist and materials scientist. Janice Telfer of the Veterinary and Animal Science department and Harry Bermudez of the Polymer Science and Engineering department, both assistant professors, will work on life sciences related projects in the areas of stem cells and drug and gene delivery vehicles, implants, and sensors, respectively. They were recognized at the campus's annual Research Recognition dinner on May 15 and funding will commence in July 2007.

John and Elizabeth Armstrong established the Armstrong Fund for Science in 2006 to recognize researchers with aggressive research visions. “Elizabeth and I want to promote major scientific advances in society by supporting researchers with bold vision, documented credentials, and a passion for results,” says John Armstrong, who is a trustee of UMass, co-chair of the Trustees' committee on Science, Technology, and Research, and vice president of the UMass Amherst Foundation Board of Directors. Grants are made from this fund, administered by the Office of the Vice Chancellor for Research and Engagement, on an annual basis using a competitive proposal process. “ We were really struck that there is so much interest!” notes Elizabeth Armstrong on the enthusiastic seventeen proposals submitted for this program in its inaugural year.

A major criterion for the award is the researchers' willingness to challenge conventions in their field. The research should represent a new initiative: either a bold, new line of research, or the application of prior research to a field that has no precedent for it.  Junior faculty and women faculty in science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) disciplines were encouraged to apply. “We greatly appreciate the Armstrongs' generosity and confidence in our institution and faculty,” says Vice Chancellor for Research and Engagement Paul Kostecki.  “Giving our faculty opportunities to excel in their research is an extraordinary gesture. The Armstrongs are visionary and exemplary members of our community,” continues Kostecki.

Dr. Telfer's project investigates the adult stem cells responsible for forming blood and other cells in the immune system. According to Telfer, “These stem cells are the key players in bone marrow transplants, the most commonly used stem cell therapy used to treat disease today.” She has already identified an important protein factor [Runx1] which expands the capacity of the blood forming cells. When applied to bone marrow transplants, this work has the potential to make them safer and more effective. 



Dr. Bermudez' work also aims to improve the treatment of disease. "Tumor cells,” he explains, “often modify their surfaces to avoid or delay the body's immune response, but they can still be identified by the presence of different formations of chemicals, especially peptides." Bermudez intends to create a “library” of cell surface patterns, so that diseased cells which have disguised their surfaces can be quickly recognized and treated.

As part of the program requirements, both projects will have public lectures at the end of their duration.

For more information, see http://umass.edu/research/armstrong-fund-science-0
B
arbara Pearson, Administrator, AFS  bpearson@research.umass.edu
Back to AFS home