Recent News

Community Conversations workshops are open to all members of the campus community, and will focus on skill building around respective dialogue to allow us to better engage with one another. Attendees will learn about the LARA (Listen, Affirm, Respond, Add) method of communication, designed to help us engage in discussion empathetically in a way that invites diverse perspectives in an effort to create shared meaning.

We come from diverse backgrounds and experiences that lead to varying levels of comfort and ability to interact thoughtfully across difference. Poor interactions can be very harmful, and worries about being misinterpreted can make interactions stressful. These concerns can keep individuals from engaging with others who don’t share their background or lead to miscommunication when they do.

Two Community Conversation workshops will be offered in the coming weeks.

Wednesday, February 26, 11:15am-1:15pm
Campus Center, Amherst Room

Thursday, March 5, 4:00pm-6:00pm
Campus Center, Amherst Room

Lunch or dinner will be served at each session, and staff supervisors are asked to provide release time for participants and ambassadors. Register here.
 

Congratulations on 70 years at UMass!

In February 1950, Prof. Richard (Dick) Stein joined the UMass Chemistry faculty as an Associate Professor. He carried out pioneering studies developing and using rheo-optical techniques to study orientation and phase transitions in amorphous, crystalline and liquid crystalline polymers. He also developed the university’s first advanced physical chemistry courses in quantum mechanics, statistical mechanics and polymer science.

Dick became Commonwealth Professor, and in 1961 he founded both the Polymer Research Institute and the Research Computing Center. In 1980, the chemistry department awarded him the Charles A. Goessmann Chair in Chemistry (he’s currently the Emeritus Goessmann Professor in Chemistry). Later in the 1980’s he was involved in establishing and obtaining funding for the Silvio O. Conte Center for Polymer Research. Among his many honors, Dick is a member of the National Academy of Sciences, the National Academy of Engineering, and the American Academy of Arts and Sciences.

Photo credit: University Archives

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.

Upcoming Events

Prof. Jinsong Huang
University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill
Thursday, February 27, 2020
Department of Applied Physical Sciences

"Progress in Understanding Perovskite Materials and Manufacturing of Efficient and Stable Solar Cells and Modules"

Host:
Dhandapani Venkataraman
11:30 am
1634 LGRT
Prof. Feng Jiao
University of Delaware
Thursday, March 5, 2020
Department of Chemical & Biomolecular Engineering

"Electrochemical CO2 Conversion to Valuable Chemicals"

Host:
Joseph DuChene
11:30 am
1634 LGRT
Prof. Niles Walter
University of Michigan
Thursday, March 12, 2020
Department of Chemistry and Biological Chemistry

"Single Molecules Come Into Focus: Understanding RNA-Driven Regulation From First Principles"

Host:
Mingxu You
11:30 am
1634 LGRT
Prof. Mary Rogers
Wayne State University
Thursday, March 26, 2020
Department of Chemistry

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

Host:
Ricardo Metz
11:30 am
1634 LGRT
Vikash Kumar
Dissertation Defense
Friday, March 27, 2020

"Depolymerizable & Dissipative Chemical Systems: Role in Material Synthesis and Applications"

10:00 am
GSMN 153
Research Adviser:
S. Thayumanavan