Recent News

In an article recently published in the Journal of the American Chemical Society (and featured on the Dec 26, 2019 journal cover), Prof. Scott Auerbach and collaborators from UMass Amherst and WPI have discovered new building blocks that they call "tricyclic bridges," which help to explain structures and vibrations of zeolites.

Zeolites are the most used catalysts by weight on planet earth, but the synthetic pathways leading to their crystallization remain poorly known. Raman spectroscopy of zeolites has been useful for shedding light on structures that exist in zeolite crystals and during crystallization. Despite the importance of understanding Raman spectra of zeolites, it is often assumed with little evidence that Raman bands can be assigned to individual zeolite rings. Auerbach and co-workers tested this assumption through an integrated synthesis, spectroscopy, and modeling study, finding the critical role of new building blocks they call "tricyclic bridges" -- collections of three zeolite rings connected together. Using this new concept, Auerbach and coworkers discovered a precise relationship between zeolite bond angle and Raman frequency that can be used to pinpoint structures that form during zeolite crystallization.

"This breakthrough is important because it gives us a way to see the invisible -- precise structures that lead to zeolite crystals," says Auerbach. "We hope such structural insights will help us to synthesize new, tailor-made zeolites for advanced applications in clean energy and carbon capture."

Auerbach and his colleagues are funded by the U.S. Department of Energy, Office of Science, Basic Energy Sciences, Materials Sciences and Engineering Division, under Award No. DE-SC0019170. In future work supported by this grant, Auerbach and his team plan to measure and model Raman spectra during the zeolite crystallization process, to determine which tricyclic bridges are present and become inherited by the resulting zeolites.

Hosted by the Berthiaume Center for Entrepreneurship, a Celebration of Innovation Challenge: The Seed Pitch and Hult Prize was held on Wednesday, November 20. An audience of more than 100 students, faculty, staff, and community members were on hand as the top four Seed Pitch teams and the Hult Prize winner and runner-up were recognized and gave minute-long pitches of their ventures.

Competing in the Seed Pitch for $15,000 in equity-free funding, 17 teams gave five-minute pitches of their venture ideas and participated in Q&A with the panel of industry-expert judges. Held simultaneously, Hult Prize consisted of five-minute pitches and five-minute Q&A sessions with its own judging panel – on the line, advancing to the regional competitions in Boston in the spring.

Pitched by Hadley Beauregard (sophomore, biochemistry and molecular biology and German and Scandinavian studies), Hailey Charest (junior, biochemistry and molecular biology) and Bryanna Lexus Freitas (senior, chemistry and psychology), Bac-Be-Gone focuses on MRSA, an antibiotic resistant superbug that kills hundreds of thousands of people a year in hospitals across the world. Awarded $5,000 by the judges, Bac-Be-Gone creates products that immediately eliminate MRSA on contact.

Prof. Vincent Rotello is one of ten researchers at the University of Massachusetts Amherst who have been recognized for being among the world’s most highly cited researchers in 2019 by London-based Clarivate Analytics, owner of the Web of Science.

Now in its sixth year, the citation analysis identifies influential researchers as determined by their peers around the world. They have consistently won recognition in the form of high citation counts over a decade. These scientists are judged to be influential, and their citation records are seen as “a mark of exceptional impact,” the company says.

The company says it “focuses on contemporary research achievement: Only highly cited papers in science and social science journals indexed in the Web of Science Core Collection during the 11-year period 2008-2018 were surveyed.”

The ten UMass Amherst researchers recognized on the 2019 list are chemist Vincent Rotello, food scientists David Julian McClements, Eric Decker and Hang Xiao, microbiologist Kelly Nevin and Derek Lovley, materials scientist Thomas Russell in the College of Natural Sciences, Catrine Tudor-Locke and Laura Vandenberg of the School of Public Health and Health Sciences, and Baoshan Xing of the Stockbridge School of Agriculture.

2019 PPG fellowship

Congratulations to Haneen Mansoor from the Kittilstved research group, and Emily Smith from the Venkataraman research group, for being selected as the 2019 recipients of the PPG fellowship sponsored by the PPG foundation. This fellowship is competitively awarded to outstanding Chemistry graduate students who do research in materials chemistry.

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"Structural Analysis of Protein Therapeutics Using Covalent Labeling – Mass Spectrometry"

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Universite de Sherbrooke
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"Caspase-7 in a Tale of Two Substrates"

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Louisiana State University
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Department of Chemistry

"Chemistry Perspectives to Novel Quantum Materials"

James Walsh
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Utilizing Mass Spectrometry to Study Ubiquitination and Degradation

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