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Honors and Awards

Office of Research and Engagement Announces 2024-25 Samuel F. Conti Faculty Fellowship Award Recipients

The Office of Research and Engagement has announced the three recipients of the 2024-25 Samuel F. Conti Faculty Fellowship Award. The Conti Fellowship acknowledges the high quality and importance of a faculty member’s accomplishments in research and creative activity at UMass Amherst and their potential for continuing excellence, particularly with respect to the project that they propose to undertake during the fellowship.

The 2024-2025 Conti Fellows and descriptions of their planned fellowship research can be found below. More information about the program and previous Conti Fellows is available at https://www.umass.edu/research/samuel-f-conti-faculty-fellowship-award.


Kathleen Arcaro, Professor of Veterinary and Animal Sciences
Kathleen Arcaro

Arcaro’s research areas include developing tools for early detection of breast cancer, discovery of molecular biomarkers for individual assessment of breast cancer risk and building strategies and programs to reduce risk. She currently uses breast milk as a model system for studying breast cancer risk and etiology. Breast milk provides a noninvasive method of obtaining breast samples, as an ounce of milk can contain millions of cells that are sloughed off from the lining of the glands. These cells are extremely useful in assessing genetic changes, including both the DNA mutations and epigenetic alterations, associated with breast cancer risk.

The fellowship will allow Arcaro time to develop a proposal to implement routine assessment of colostrum as a non-invasive, economical screening tool to detect pregnancy-initiated breast cancer. Colostrum is the nutrient rich milk that nursing mothers produce in the first few days after giving birth. Arcaro’s project will include development of a practical colostrum assessment strategy that can be broadly, routinely and economically implemented nationwide. Another goal of her research is to provide mothers with information about their milk allowing them to make informed decisions regarding breastfeeding.

References expressed that “Dr. Arcaro invests time and heart in building relationships of trust and mutual support with stakeholders in the maternal and child health field. She demonstrates the values of inclusion by building connections with advocates and leaders outside the traditional networks whose talented voices would otherwise be left out.”

Todd Emrick, Professor of Polymer Science and Engineering
Todd Emrick

Emrick’s research emphasizes the synthesis of new materials, including polymers and nanoscale particles that target a variety of applications in materials science, as well as materials that fuse polymers with drugs for therapeutic purposes. His focus for the Conti Fellowship is to build new platforms of electronic materials by designing revolutionary approaches to join synthetic polymers with electronically active substrates, including metals, graphene, and nanoscale particulates. 

The fellowship will provide him with an opportunity to build a network of researchers – both at UMass Amherst and nationally – to work together on new directions in hybrid materials interfaces. It will also provide Emrick with an opportunity for discovery in the electronic materials arena, where improving the lifetime and efficiency of devices is paramount to much-needed advances in sustainability. Additionally, he will work on student education and technical training aspects of his research, which are vital for ensuring global competitiveness of U.S. research and technology in this field.

Emrick was highly praised by his references, which included an endorsement that said “Emrick’s world-renowned research accomplishments, alongside his research leadership activities, have changed the field of polymer materials chemistry and have had a profound impact on students and faculty at UMass Amherst and far beyond.”

Elizabeth Krause, Professor of Anthropology
Elizabeth Krause

Krause conducts immersive, collaborative and participatory research that intends to illustrate that capitalism is not an essential design for society. Her ethnographic work illuminates local-global dynamics in terms of how ordinary people live with contradictions of power in an unequal yet extraordinary world. Topics span production and reproduction, migration and biopolitics, as well as fast-fashion and food studies. Krause’s latest project, “Pedagogy of Figs: Uncommon Lessons,” traces the cultivation, production and consumption of figs across time and space, from Old World to New World, understanding the contemporary and historical, economic, political, ecological and cultural contexts of the fruit. It productively investigates what figs can teach us, and how they can help us learn about culture, power and politics, as well as relationships between humans and non-humans.

The fellowship will provide Krause with time to pursue original research in anthropology, conduct fieldwork, finish her book, and oversee an international collaboration focused on pathbreaking environmental movements.

References expressed that “Dr. Krause’s scholarly profile exemplifies bold theoretical and ethnographic innovation. With a longstanding interest in political economy and local-global dynamics, her previous works have pushed disciplinary boundaries, from her exploration of reproduction and migration among sweater makers in Italy to her investigation of global families in the fast fashion industry.”