2021 iCons Senior Expo Celebrates Largest Graduating Class

iCons expo on zoom

On Wednesday, May 5, the Integrated Concentration in Science (iCons) celebrated the graduating seniors at the Eighth Annual iCons Senior Expo and Celebration. The graduating cohort, known as the “8th Color,” was the largest group yet to complete the rigorous four-year certificate program, with 36 students graduating the program in 2021.

The mission of iCons is to produce a diverse generation of leaders in science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) with the attitudes and skills needed to solve complex societal problems. To this end, each senior presented their research projects at the iCons Senior Expo on today’s pressing problems in health, energy, sustainability, disease and the environment. Their research, along with past students’ research projects can be found on the iCons Innovation Portal.


The following students, representing the College of Engineering and the College of Natural Sciences, were chosen based on a nomination process to deliver keynote presentations on their research:

  • Joshua McGee, chemical engineering, “Microfluidics for Nanoparticle Synthesis, Purification, and Characterization”
  • Josiane Rosario, environmental science, “Analyzing the Physical Properties of Lake Sediments in Svalbard”
  • Miranda Boudreau, psychology, “Sex, Drugs, and Mental Health: Relationship Between Adolescent’s Internalizing Problems and Engagement in Health Risk Behaviors”

Following the presentations, director Scott Auerbach, iCons executive director, and Justin Fermann, iCons academic director, presented the cohort with their completion certificates and ceremonial golden cords. The cords represent the strength that comes from bringing together many threads – that is, bringing together a diversity of people and thought in tackling real world problems.

“It's so exciting to see the iCons teaching approach come alive with the graduation of the 8th Color,” says Auerbach. “The students’ research breakthroughs on real-world problems – from nanotechnology to climate change to substance abuse – show that these iCons students are ready to hit the ground running in whatever they do next after they leave UMass.”

The celebration concluded with well wishes from several special guests and an awards ceremony. Joining the event were members from the newly launched iCons Advisory Board: Mike Fogwill (Waters Corporation), David O’Conner (ML Strategies), Jennifer Fonstad (OWL Capital), Ed Marram ’59 & ‘61 (Babson College), Judy Glaven ‘82 (HHMI), and special remarks from board member Dr. Robert (Bob) Langer from MIT.

The awards ceremony started with the annual Mahoney Alumni Award in recognition of an alumwho continues to personify the lessons learned while in iCons. The 2021 awardee was given to Erica Light ’16, biochemistry and molecular biology, who is currently a UMass Amherst graduate student in sustainability science and an instructor in the iCons 3 Biomedicine Lab. After the acceptance remarks from Light, Bob Mahoney ’70 offered well wishes and advice about differentiating between hobby and career. Mahoney was joined at the event by his brother, Richard Mahoney ’55, the founder of iCons.

Accolades continued with the awarding to two rising iCons seniors of the Crowley-Nowick Award for iCons Student Leadership and Philanthropy. This award, given annually by iCons advisory board chairperson Peg Crowley-Nowick, supports students who embody the iCons mission by exhibiting strong leadership and teamwork skills. As Crowley-Nowick scholars, the two students are tasked with leading philanthropy efforts from their cohort to be matched by Crowley-Nowick, providing the funds for a Crowley-Nowick scholarship given to a rising second year iCons student. Each of the awardees is nominated and voted on by their peers. The 2021 Crowley-Nowick Award winners are Abigail Guinan ’22 , biology and natural resources conservation, and Kieran Tay ’22, chemical engineering, and Bellis Min ’24 public health sciences won the Crowley-Nowick Scholarship.  

Led by the graduating Crowley-Nowick scholars, Andrew Guthrie and Aurelia Reynolds organized the finale which was a tribute from the 8th Color graduating cohort reflecting on what was meaningful to them as part of the iCons community.