Recent News

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.

Riddha Das, a doctoral student in chemistry, won the 3MT People’s Choice Award. “It was very difficult to condense five or six years of research into three minutes,” she said, “but now if I’m at an interview or a conference, I don’t have to stumble or wonder where to begin.” Das’s research focuses on using nanoparticles to fight cancer.

Organized by the Graduate School’s Office of Professional Development, the annual three-week-long contest tests the research communication skills of 40 doctoral and master’s students by challenging them to explain the significance of their academic projects in accessible and compelling presentations of three minutes or less.

The finalists presented their talks at a public event at Amherst’s Jones Library on March 23.

Gov. Charlie Baker celebrated the opening of the new Physical Sciences Building (PSB) at the University of Massachusetts Amherst, a facility funded by the state that fosters and expands cutting-edge collaborative learning and research at the Commonwealth’s flagship campus.

“We were pleased to invest in the new Physical Sciences Building, which will serve as a hub for the natural sciences at UMass Amherst,” Baker said. “The facility’s expansion will help foster new research and career opportunities, which will help support the STEM workforce pipeline here in Massachusetts.”

Chancellor Kumble Subbaswamy says, “This complex is home to the very best facilities in physics and chemistry, enhancing the research capability for our faculty and students in the College of Natural Sciences and providing the STEM talent that is essential for the state’s innovation economy. We’re deeply grateful for the governor’s support and the state’s investment in UMass Amherst.”

“This project reflects the significance of the Commonwealth’s investment in faculty excellence, scientific discovery and student success at UMass Amherst,” said UMass President Marty Meehan. “And it strengthens UMass Amherst’s position as a top-tier public research university that prepares students to thrive in the high-demand STEM fields that are so important to the future of Massachusetts.”

Gabriela C. Weaver, special assistant to the Provost for Educational Initiatives and professor of chemistry at the University of Massachusetts Amherst, has been named an American Council on Education (ACE) Fellow for academic year 2019-20.

In nominating Weaver, UMass Amherst Chancellor Kumble R. Subbaswamy said, “Dr. Gabriela Weaver has established herself as an outstanding professor and a national educational leader who has pioneered and evaluated a number of technology-enhanced approaches to teaching, as well as pedagogical approaches that engage students early on in inquiry. She is also a proven mentor of STEM faculty. Her selection as an ACE fellow is an indication of her potential for higher level academic leadership positions.”

Upcoming Events

Professor Amanda Hargrove
Duke University
Thursday, April 25, 2019
Department of Chemistry

"Deciphering patterns in selective small molecule:RNA interactions"

Host:
Michelle Farkas and S. Thayumanavan
11:30 am
1634 LGRT
Professor Kwok Fan Chow
UMass Lowell
Tuesday, April 30, 2019
Department of Chemistry

"Naked-Eye Electrochemical Sensor"

Host:
Mingxu You
11:30 am
1634 LGRT
Professor Abraham Badu-Tawiah
Ohio State
Thursday, May 2, 2019
Departments of Chemistry and Biochemistry

"Panoptic Mass Spectrometry: How and Why?"

Host:
Ricahrd Vachet
11:30 am
1634 LGRT
Professor Mary Rogers
Wayne State
Thursday, May 9, 2019
Deaprtment of Chemistry

"Synergistic Tandem Mass Spectrometry and Computational Chemistry Approaches for Elucidating Structure, Energetics and Reactivity"

Host:
Rick Metz
11:30 am
1634 LGRT
Bo Zhao
Dissertation Defense
Monday, May 13, 2019

“Protein Detection and Structural Characterization by Mass Spectrometry Using Supramolecular Assemblies and Small Molecules”

3:00 pm
GSMN 153
Research Adviser:
S. Thayumanavan, Richard Vachet