Recent News

"Vachet’s interdisciplinary research program is at the interfaces of analytical, biological, and materials chemistry. He and his research group develop and apply new methods based on mass spectrometry to tackle biomedically important problems that are difficult to address with existing tools. His work has elucidated the molecular details associated with protein amyloid fibril formation, which is a special type of protein aggregation that occurs in numerous human diseases. His research has also led to the development of sensitive new methods to track nanomaterial drug delivery vehicles in biological systems, facilitating the creation of better therapeutics with fewer side effects." 

Award recipients are chosen by committees chaired by designees appointed by  Dean Tricia Serio, including past recipients. Dean Serio,  associate dean for research and innovation Mark Tuominen, and department representatives congratulated the winners, each speaking briefly about their experiences. 

"Vicki’s performance has been outstanding by any measure. She is considered the go-to person for many issues, including financial, compliance, and more. She is intelligent, efficient, always cheerful, and can be relied upon to solve any problem. She is indispensable and irreplaceable in that she almost single-handedly oversees all financial operations of our department, and is, in fact, the only person who fully understands them. "   Serio emphasized her gratitude to the award winners for their extraordinary work, presenting them as leaders for the college. “Their tremendous work continues to foster student achievement, demonstrate excellence, and build a more inclusive environment,” she said. “They are wonderful role models for us all.”  Friends, family, and colleagues gathered at a reception and awards ceremony May 14 for this year’s recipients of the CNS Outstanding Achievement Awards. The awards recognize faculty, staff and students who have made important contributions to their discipline, department, college and university.

The U.S. National Academy of Sciences announced this week the election of 100 new members to the academy in recognition of their distinguished and continuing achievements in original research. They include Lila M. Gierasch, distinguished professor of biochemistry and molecular biology and chemistry at the University of Massachusetts Amherst.

The NAS is charged with providing independent, objective advice to the nation on matters related to science and technology. Scientists are elected by their peers to membership in the NAS for outstanding contributions to research. Gierasch’s research focus for decades has been protein folding, that is, how amino acid sequence determines the three-dimensional structure of a protein. She is particularly focused on how proteins fold in the cellular environment and the role of molecular chaperones in ensuring high fidelity in the folding process.

She says of her selection, “I am thrilled by this honor. The recognition of one’s contributions over a career by colleagues is truly gratifying.”

John McCarthy, UMass Amherst provost and senior vice chancellor for academic affairs, says of Gierasch’s career accomplishments, “This is a richly deserved honor for one of our stellar faculty members. Lila Gierasch is part of what makes this university great.”

The National Academy of Sciences (NAS) is a private, non-profit society of distinguished scholars established by an Act of Congress signed by President Abraham Lincoln in 1863. The academy is charged with providing independent, objective advice to the nation on matters related to science and technology. Scientists are elected by their peers to membership in the NAS for outstanding contributions to research.

S. ‘Thai’ Thayumanavan, professor of chemistry is awarded the Mahoney Life Sciences Prize for his paper: “Shrink-wrapped Proteins as Next Generation Biologics.” Thayumanavan’s work addresses major challenges in delivering protein-based drugs and devices across a cell membrane while keeping the protein stable and avoiding unwanted immune system responses. The award-winning study presents a “robust and sustainable” strategy which overcomes those challenges: the protein itself serves as a template, and polymers self-assemble to form a sheath around it. The technology has exciting potential applications in therapeutics.

The panel of expert judges praised Thayumanavan’s work as “a major step forward that takes on a long-standing problem,” and “a large advance in the field.” Tricia Serio, dean of the College of Natural Sciences said, “Thai’s approach — to have the protein template its own packaging — is the type of innovative and out-of-the-box thinking that enables transformational advances in science. His work embodies the spirit of this award.”

Richard Vachet, chemistry department head, said, "Thai is a very creative scientist who has a remarkable ability to turn fundamental chemical understanding into new materials that solve real-world problems in biomedicine. His work is a great example of how UMass Amherst researchers are doing translational research."

Through the generosity of the Mahoney family, the prize recognizes UMass Amherst scientists whose work has the potential for advancing connections between research and industry. The Prize includes an award of $10,000 and is awarded annually to one faculty member who has demonstrated excellence in life sciences research, and whose work significantly advances connections between academic research and industry.

Upcoming Events

Meizhe Wang
Dissertation Defense
Tuesday, July 2, 2019

"Supramolecular Nanoassemblies for the Separation and Mass Spectrometric Analysis of Peptides and Modified Proteins"

2:30 pm
LSL N410
Research Adviser:
Richard Vachet