Recent News

Christie L.C. Ellis, a fourth-year doctoral candidate in chemistry and an advisee of Dhandapani “DV” Venkataraman, whose research focuses on materials used in solar cells, has received a coveted Mass Media Fellowship from the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS). It will send her to work as a science writer at the St. Louis Post-Dispatch for a 10-week internship beginning in June.

Among other benefits, the long-running program will provide Ellis with travel funds, an orientation at AAAS in Washington, D.C., a stipend and training in interviewing skills and news judgment. She expects to shadow a science writer at the newspaper for a short time and then work on her own stories. “I feel really fortunate to have this fellowship. They’re giving me a really great opportunity and investing a lot in me,” she says.

Her advisor says, “Christie is passionate about communicating science to a broad audience. Therefore, this prestigious fellowship will provide a fantastic opportunity for her to learn from experts in the media industry and closely interact with them. We are eager to learn from Christie’s experience and improve our science communication skills.”

Research institutions still have a long way to go in retaining women in STEM fields, and particularly in the physical sciences, says Sankaran “Thai” Thayumanavan, but this month his chemistry lab celebrated a success as he escorted six women (Celia Homyak, Youngju Bae, Mallory “Molly” Gordon, Priyaa Prasad, and Poornima Rangadurai) receiving their advanced degrees at Graduate Commencement on May 11. He says, “It didn’t dawn on me until we were there at the ceremony, but suddenly I realized ‘Wow!’ We have done something really amazing here. I hooded six women scientists that day, and they have all gone on to find good positions in the physical sciences. That doesn’t happen very often.”

Chemist Vincent Rotello and colleagues at University College London (UCL), U.K., announce that they have developed a “quick and robust” blood test that can detect liver damage before symptoms appear, offering what they hope is a significant advance in early detection of liver disease. Details appear in Advanced Materials.

Their new method can detect liver fibrosis, the first stage of liver scarring that can lead to fatal disease if left unchecked, from a blood sample in 30-45 minutes, the authors note. They point out that liver disease is a leading cause of premature mortality in the United States and U.K., and is rising. It often goes unnoticed until late stages of the disease when the damage is irreversible.

For this work, Rotello and his team at UMass Amherst’s Institute of Applied Life Sciences (IALS) designed a sensor that uses polymers coated with fluorescent dyes that bind to blood proteins based on their chemical processes. The dyes change in brightness and color, offering a different signature or blood protein pattern.

Professor Paul Dubin passed away May 22, 2018.

His research interest was polyelectrolytes and long-chain molecules in which every repeat unit carries a charge, with focus on their interaction with oppositely charged molecules such as surfactant micelles, nanoparticles and proteins, with the objective of fundamental understanding of solution behavior.

Upcoming Events

Morgan Baima
Dissertation Defense
Thursday, June 28, 2018

“Surface Functionalization of Fabrics and Threads for Smart Textiles”

12:00 pm
Research Adviser:
Trisha Andrew
Vanessa D. Chaplin
Dissertation Defense
Friday, June 29, 2018

“Role of the Facial Triad in Factor Inhibiting HIF (FIH): Ligand Binding, Substrate Selectivity, and Uncoupling”

2:00 pm
221 ISB
Research Adviser:
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Prabhat Tripathi
Dissertation Defense
Wednesday, July 18, 2018

“Voltage-Driven Polyelectrolyte Complexation Inside a Nanopore”

11:00 am
Conte A110/A111
Research Adviser:
Murugappan Muthukumar