Campus Faculty Share Nearly $931,000 in Science, Technology and Creative Economy Grants

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Amherst campus faculty members are sharing nearly $931,000 in science and technology and creative economy grants announced June 3 by President Robert L. Caret.

Describing faculty research and scholarship as work that “distinguishes us as a university and is essential to our quest for a better and richer future,” Caret detailed $1.17 million in grants to faculty members across the five-campus system. The announcement was made as the Board of Trustees’ Committee on Academic and Student Affairs held its quarterly meeting in Boston.

The grants are being made available via two programs established to spur research, scholarship and outreach throughout the UMass system.

The President’s Science and Technology Initiative Fund this year is awarding $914,000 to support nine promising research projects.

Andrew McCallum and David Jensen of the College of Information and Computer Science were awarded $85,000 to support the Center for Data Sciences’ efforts to engage industrial partners and to develop as a leading source of research and talent in this field. 

Brian Levine and Emery Berger, also of computer science, received $125,000 for a new strategic initiative, the Institute for Cyber Security. The institute builds on a strong collaboration among five colleges at Amherst and envisions partnerships with other UMass campuses and industry to build a critical mass that will enable it to pursue research and development projects in several strategic areas including the Internet of Things, data security, cryptography and networks.

Vincent Rotello of the chemistry department and Arthur Mercurio of UMass Medical were awarded $134,000 for a project titled “Integrating Physical Sciences and Oncology,” which represents a unique combination of the physical sciences at Amherst with molecular biology at Worcester to help develop new diagnostics and therapeutics for cancer.

Five other proposals led by faculty at other campuses but involving Amherst campus researchers were awarded a total of $535,000. The projects include work on seafood sustainability, multi-scale 3D printing, the development of a facility for genome engineering in model organisms, chemical screening for drug development and a marine bioprospecting initiative.

Including this year’s awards, this fund, created in 2004, has provided $11 million in funding for nearly 90 projects that have helped to accelerate research on all five UMass campuses. The funding has helped to attract more than $245 million in federal and private funding.

“Faculty research not only expands the boundaries of human understanding and supports the state’s innovation economy, it also enriches the academic experience of students who learn from professors undertaking cutting-edge work in their fields,” Caret said.

The President’s Creative Economy Initiatives Fund this year provides nearly $260,000 for nine projects aimed at enhancing the quality of life in communities across the Commonwealth, including two led by Amherst campus faculty.

“Making Places Matter: Arts, Culture and Community in Holyoke, Massachusetts,” will create public, pop-up art in three of the most important revitalization sites in Holyoke. The project is led by Max Page and Joseph Krupczynski of the department of architecture, who were awarded  a $27,500 grant.

“The Arts and Politics Project,” an initiative to develop two multi-disciplinary performance pieces that are designed to engage Five College consortium and community participants from Holyoke and Springfield in cultural dialogue about equality, received $24,000. Tanya Fernando, of the English department, Susan Jahoda of the department of art, and Gilbert McCauley of the theater department, are the leading the project.

Including this year’s awards, the Creative Economy Initiative Fund has, since 2007, distributed more than $2 million for 82 projects and has contributed to historical preservation, artisan cooperatives, music, theater and other projects.

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