Highlights:

BMB teams-up with Girls Inc. of Holyoke to teach laboratory skills to high school students

Two rising high school sophomores from Holyoke interned in the BMB teaching labs from July 10th through August 3rd, 2017. The students were placed according to interest in partnership with the Girls Inc. of Holyoke Eureka! program and were paid through the Massachusetts Life Sciences Center High School Apprenticeship Challenge. Students assisted with lab maintenance duties and learned laboratory skills like DNA extraction, PCR, gel electrophoresis, restriction digestion, cell culture, microscopy, and protein expression. They also toured on-campus greenhouses, research laboratories, and natural history collections. Girls Inc. is a national initiative focusing on girls’ development in STEM, leadership and critical thinking, health and wellness, literacy and academic success. Thank you, Mya and Maddy, for all the ways you’ve supported the department this summer!

Alice Cheung and Hen-Ming Wu receive $1.35mil award from the National Science Foundation

Alice Cheung and Hen-Ming Wu were awarded a combined $1.35 million from the National Science Foundation's Division of Integrative and Organismal Systems and Division of Molecular and Cellular Biosciences to support their continued work in plant male-female interactions and the fundamental mechanisms in plant signal transduction pathways.

Li-Jun Ma recieves NSF CAREER grant

Li-Jun Ma, an expert in fungal comparative genomics, has received a five-year, $880,000 National Science Foundation Faculty Early Career Development (CAREER) grant to continue her research on pathogenic fungi. The Fusarium oxysporum fungus causes wilt in plant species, costing farmers billions of dollars in losses worldwide each year. The fungus can remain viable for 30 or 40 years, and at present “there really is no way to control it,” Ma says. By advancing understanding of the molecular mechanism of fungal pathogenesis, she hopes to increase ways to develop disease-resistant crops.

Robert Yvon awarded ASPB summer scholarship

Robert Yvon, a BMB major working in Dr. Cheung's lab, was chosen as one of  ASPB's Summer Undergraduate Research Fellows (SURF).  This program funds promising undergraduate students so they can conduct research in plant biology during the early part of their college careers over the course of 10 consecutive weeks. This year’s SURF recipients will present their research at Plant Biology 2018. Congratulations!

Chien Lab Finds Protease Adaptors Regulate Own Destruction

In a recent paper in the Journal of Biological Chemistry, Associate Professor Peter Chien and graduate student Kamal Joshi explain new details of how cells get rid of proteins when they are no longer needed.

BMB Staff and Faculty Members Receive Outstanding CNS Awards

Outstanding CNS Awards 2017 were given to two members of the BMB department this Spring: Peter Chien received the Outstanding Research Award (early career), and Erin Flanagan recieved an Outstanding Staff Award.

Students Receive Awards at BMB Ceremony

Congratulations to all of the awardees! View photos from the event and the program from the ceremony. Learn more about BMB awards and scholarships.

Alums Share Insights with BMB Majors: Guest speakers Dr. Brad Pearse, Matt Johnson, and Jayson Stoner joined a group of students for a career discussion over lunch

For the fifth straight year, graduates and friends of BMB returned to campus this fall to share career advice with current students in the department’s Real-World Biochemistry and Molecular Biology course (Biochem 394RI).  With thoughtfulness and humor, the ever-popular guest speakers provide students with lessons learned, insight into a diversity of fields, and an overview of the sometimes unexpected career paths that can unfold following graduation. 

Here are some highlights:

  • As the first guest speaker of this fall semester, Dr. Nessim Watson (of UMass Career Services and a Certified Professional Résumé Writer) discussed strategies for presenting oneself professionally, from résumés to personal statements. 
  • Having recently earned their Bachelor’s degrees from BMB, Ruby Chiang (now at Sanofi-Genzyme), Ankit Gandhi, M.S. (inviCRO), Matthew Johnson (EMD Millipore), and Jayson Stoner (EMD Millipore) shared their experiences looking for jobs, interviewing, and working in the Boston area. 
  • Dr. Bruce Abedon (NutraGenesis), who graduated from the department in 1987, described his journey from Ph.D. training in plant genetics to his current position at a nutraceutical company. 
  • Dr. Brad Pearse (Magenta Therapeutics) earned his Ph.D. from Dr. Dan Hebert’s lab and discussed his work on antibody-based drug design. 
  • Fortunately for us, Patrick O’Neill, M.S., M.B.A., and Dan Wagner, M.H.S., M.B.A., (both of Connecticut Innovations) connected with BMB through a networking event; they shared their perspective as venture capitalists with scientifically-focused portfolios. 
  • Dr. Lisa Rapp (a BMB graduate who is now the Biotechnology Program Chair at Springfield Technical Community College) and Dr. Becky Miller (a current BMB faculty member) communicated their passion for teaching. 

Several of our guest speakers are return visitors, and the following individuals have also generously donated their time during previous semesters:  Pan Du, A.L.M.; Dr. Julia Dvorko, M.B.A.; Donna Falcetti, M.B.A.; Kevin Magalhaes; Dr. Venkatraman Ramakrishnan; Dr. Dmitry Samarsky; Dr. Larry Shumway, J.D.; and Dr. Donna Beer Stolz.  Thank you!  

Guest speakers bring the richness of their experiences to the course.  Reflecting the value of these visits, a recent student noted, “I really appreciated the seminars and speakers!”  In fact, after completing the Real-World Biochemistry and Molecular Biology course this fall, over three-quarters of students surveyed reported that they had found presentations from the guest speakers to be “very helpful” (55%) or “helpful” (22%) to their professional development.    

We thank all of you for your willingness to support our current students as they, too, begin to pursue rewarding careers!

UMass Amherst biochemists say small molecules have big influence in protein folding

A graduate student’s surprise observation in fundamental experiments with small binding molecules at work in protein folding has allowed biochemists at the University of Massachusetts Amherst to develop the first firm mathematical foundation to explain cell ligands’ role in promoting proper protein folding.

Scott Garman named 2017 Public Engagement Faculty Fellow

Two CNS faculty members have been named 2017 Public Engagement Faculty Fellows by the Public Engagement Project (PEP): Julie Brigham-Grette, Geosciences and Scott Garman, Biochemistry and Molecular Biology. Along with five other PEP faculty members, they will draw on their substantial research record to impact policy, the work of practitioners and public debates. The fellows, who will receive a stipend and technical training in communicating with non-academic audiences, will also travel to Beacon Hill to share their research with lawmakers.

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