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Around the Pond

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Grand openings

New places and spaces to enhance education, experimentation, and culture are emerging all over campus. To name a few:

  • Last fall, the university broke ground on a building for the Manning College of Information and Computer Sciences, which will create approximately 90,000 square feet of new space, serving as a hub for learning, innovation, and community.
  • The Sustainable Engineering Laboratories, an 80,000-square-foot facility in the College of Engineering that will provide immersive labs and learning spaces for novel energy technologies, celebrated its groundbreaking as well.
  • The UMass Amherst Transportation Center’s state-of-the-art aviation research and training center officially opened at Westover Municipal Airport in Chicopee.
  • An expansion to the UMass Cranberry Station in East Wareham opened in the spring, which will help the cranberry industry meet competitive challenges, attract talented scientists and students, and provide research-based data.
  • The Paros Center for Atmospheric Research, focused on cutting-edge climate research and hazard mitigation, has been funded as part of a $10 million gift from Jerome Paros ’60 and Linda Paros to the College of Engineering.
  • The athletic training facility formerly known as “the Cage” is being renovated, creating an indoor performance center for the men’s and women’s cross country and track and field teams, thanks to a $2 million lead gift from Jim Hunt ’77 and Ellen Hunt ’77, ’93MS. With this gift, the facility is being named the Jim and Ellen Hunt Indoor Performance Center in their honor.
  • The new Newman Catholic Center recently opened on campus and includes a chapel, a research center, gathering spaces, a café, administrative offices, and a memorial garden.



Greenlighting donor kidneys with precision

Nearly 90,000 people in the United States are waiting for a kidney—83% of the total number of those waiting for any organ transplant. Demand is high, but the supply remains stubbornly low. That’s where Yu Chen comes in.

Chen, a professor in the College of Engineering, is developing a groundbreaking imaging device to more accurately assess the viability of donor kidneys. A 2021 study showed that the current process of conducting biopsies on potential donor kidneys is causing many that are actually functional to be discarded.

“We are developing a new generation of portable, handheld optical coherence tomography (OCT) scanning device,” Chen says. “It’s kind of like an ultrasound probe, except we are using light instead of sound to achieve a higher resolution to visualize fine structures of kidneys. Based on that, we are able to predict the kidney’s post-transplant renal function.” This new way of ‘seeing’ the viability of the organ post-transplant could ultimately save thousands of kidneys—and lives.

The breakthrough was made possible with collaboration across campuses, including a strategic partnership between UMass Amherst and UMass Chan Medical School, and outside resources and researchers like robotics expert Haichong Zhang of Worcester Polytechnic Institute. “UMass has provided a great collaborative platform,” Chen says. “I was also fortunate to collaborate with Xian Du [UMass Amherst assistant professor of mechanical and industrial engineering] to refine the tracking technology for our OCT system.”

UMass and Worcester Polytechnic Institute have filed a joint patent and established a startup company that will apply for small-business funding to further commercialize the OCT technology in the future.



Hidden gem

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Can you guess where on campus this balcony can be found? Tucked behind leafy trees, just off the beaten path, this is a perch to find if you’re looking for a bird’s-eye view of campus. Or maybe you want to muse in a rocking chair ponderously, thinking of the students of yore. In fact, before this building housed offices, it was home to the only dining hall on campus, and was also briefly a women’s dormitory.

Can’t handle not knowing? Check your guesses!