Highlights:

Pre-college course teaches high school students about the medicinal properties of plants

This year Biology, Biochemistry, and Core Facilities staff, students, and faculty collaborated on the Drug Discovery: Medicinal Properties of Plants course. This 2-week course shared the richness of the Plant Cell Culture Library as both a research and an educational resource with high school students in the UMass Summer Precollege program. This year our enrollment increased from 5 to 11, including several local students, 1 international student, and others from as far away as Texas and California. Students attended faculty lectures, propagated plants at the Morrill Greenhouse, visited research labs, pressed local plant specimens in the herbarium, designed primers, performed DNA extractions, PCR, agarose gel electrophoresis, and a disc diffusion assay, toured the Nourse Farms strawberry propagation center in Whately, designed and printed 3D models of plant metabolites, and presented their findings at a poster session in the Life Science Laboratories Conference Center. We are very proud of what our students have accomplished in 2 weeks and hope to see them on campus again soon. Thank you to all who supported our students' success in this course!

Jedaidah Chilufya awarded P.E.O. International Peace Scholarship

Jedaidah Chilufya, a PhD student in the Wang lab, was selected from a competitive pool of applicants to receive a P.E.O. International Peace Scholarship for the 2019-2020 academic year. The International Peace Scholarship Fund, established in 1949, is a program which provides scholarships for selected women from other countries for graduate study in the United States and Canada.

Elizabeth Vierling uses NSF grant to support STEM programs at Amherst Regional Schools

BMB Distinguished Professor Elizabeth Vierling has been working with teachers at the Amherst Regional Middle and High Schools to develop new hand-on STEM curricula. Dr. Vierling’s NSF grant has allowed her to help the schools purchase equipment for various plant-based experiments and support teachers as they design new inquiry-based classroom activities. The hope is that these new programs will help underrepresented students develop an interest in STEM while improving the connection between UMass and the Amherst Regional School system.

Cole Tucker and Ana Pamela Torres Ocampo receive CNS Outstanding Achievement Awards

Cole Tucker, Technical Assistant in BMB, and Ana Pamela Torres Ocampo, PhD Candidate in the Stratton Lab, were both honored at the 2019 CNS Outstanding Achievement Awards Ceremony for their contributions to the college. Cole received the Outstanding Staff Award, and Ana received the Excellence in Diversity and Inclusion Award. Recipients are selected based on testimony from their peers regarding their contributions to their discipline, department, college and university.

2019 BMB Award Ceremony and Senior Celebration Photos

Congratulations to the BMB Class of 2019 and all of the students recognized at our award ceremony! Photos from the BMB Award Ceremony are available on the BMB Facebook page to view and download. Pictures from the BMB Senior Celebration are coming soon!

Caleb Carr (BMB Class of 2020) receives Barry Goldwater Scholarship

Caleb Carr, a double major in Biochemistry & Molecular Biology and Computer Science, has been awarded the Barry Goldwater Scholarship for his outstanding research and achievements. The Goldwater Scholarship is a highly competitive, nationally-recognized award for sophomores and juniors pursuing research careers in STEM fields. Students are nominated by the Office of National Scholarship Advisement (ONSA), which advises, supports, and selects students for the national competition.

Lila Gierasch elected to National Academy of Sciences

Lila M. Gierasch, Distinguished Professor in the Biochemistry & Molecular Biology and Chemistry departments, was elected into the National Academy of Sciences (NAS) in recognition of her distinguished and continuing achievements in original research. The NAS is charged with providing independent, objective advice to the nation on matters related to science and technology. Lila is one of 100 new members that were elected this year, and one of 40 newly elected women (the most women ever elected to the NAS in any one year to date).

Two BMB undergrads named Rising Researchers

Two seniors in the Biochemistry & Molecular Biology Dept were named Rising Researchers by Research Next at UMass Amherst. Aastha Pokharel is a member of the Vandenberg lab where she investigates environmental influences on mammary gland function and development, and Allyson Rosati works in the Pilsner lab investigating the associations of sperm mitochondrial DNA copy number (mtDNAcn) on couples’ ability to become pregnant. All of the Rising Researchers were honored for their achievements at a Chancellor's reception on April 24th.

Aiste Balciunaite (BMB Class of 2019) honored as a 21st Century Leader

Aiste Balciunaite, a CHC student with double major in Biochemistry & Molecular Biology and Chemical Engineering, will be recognized at this year's Undergraduate Commencement as one of ten 21st Century Leaders. This honor is given to seniors who exhibit exemplary achievement, initiative, and leadership. Aiste is the co-author of two papers based on her work with Professor Maria Santore in her polymer science and engineering lab. In 2018, the athletic department honored her with the Spring Scholar Athlete Award, and she led the rowing team as co-captain. After graduation, she plans to return to her native Lithuania to work at a biotech firm, and later pursue her doctorate in chemical engineering.

UMass Biochemistry Club holds workshop with Girls Inc. of the Valley

Representatives from the UMass Biochemistry Club and BMB Staff traveled to Girls Inc. of the Valley to take part in their Eureka! program and give the girls the opportunity to practice some of the techniques used in biochemistry labs. A group of nine 8th grade-level students practiced advanced skills, like restriction enzyme digestion and agarose gel electrophoresis. They were very successful in completing the experiments, and used UV flashlights and yellow filter glasses to visualize the bands in the gel. The Biochemistry Club also brought zebrafish to look at under microscopes and different common drinks to test with a pH meter during incubation periods. The hope is that workshops like this will stay with these girls and motivate them to pursue education and careers in STEM.

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