Report Names Eight UMass Amherst Scientists Among the World's Most Influential Scientific Minds

AMHERST, Mass. – Eight University of Massachusetts Amherst faculty members are among “the world’s leading scientific minds,” whose publications are among the most influential in their fields, according to a survey by leading multinational media and information firm Thomson Reuters.

The Thomson Reuters compilers, who set out to identify “some of the best and brightest scientific minds of our time,”recognized UMass Amherst food scientists Eric Decker, David Julian McClements and Yeonhwa Park, chemist Vincent Rotello, polymer scientist Thomas Russell, soil chemist Baoshan Xing, microbiologist Derek Lovley and astronomer Mauro Giavaliso in its recent “Highly Cited Researchers 2014” list.

All are faculty members in the UMass Amherst College of Natural Sciences. CNS Dean Steve Goodwin said, “No matter what methodology we apply, we know that all eight of the researchers identified by Thomson Reuters are engaged in incredibly high quality science and are truly having significant impacts on their fields of study. The university is very proud of this most recent recognition for these notable researchers.”

Basil Moftah, president of Thomson Reuters IP & Science, said, “Science and innovation are strong drivers of the future – and these people are making that future come to life. The global nature of the study highlights the countries, institutions and researchers on the cutting edge of science. It’s our mission at Thomson Reuters to support these individuals as they advance innovation globally.”

Gordon Macomber, managing director of Thomson Reuters Scientific and Scholarly Research, added, “Citations offer a direct testament to work that scientists themselves judge to be the most important to ongoing research. By analyzing these citation connections, one can identify the most impactful people, publications, programs, and more. The listings in Highly Cited Researchers truly reflect positive assessment by peers, and constitute a searchable database containing an elite selection of the world’s most influential scientific researchers.”

The UMass Amherst researchers are among more than 3,000 researchers in 21 fields who earned this distinction “by writing the greatest numbers of reports officially designated by Essential Science Indicators as highly cited papers, ranking among the top 1 percent most cited for their subject field and year of publication, earning them the mark of exceptional impact.”

Unlike methods used to generate an earlier list based on total citations, which gave preference to well-established scientists and researchers who produced many publications, the Thomson Reuters compilers say they take a different selection approach in the current effort to identify influential researchers, field-by-field, and update their previously published list.

To focus on “more contemporary research achievement” and “recognize early and mid-career as well as senior researchers,” the Thomson Reuters team surveyed only articles and reviews in science and social sciences journals indexed in the Web of Science Core Collection during the period 2002-12. Next, as an impact measure they considered only Highly Cited Papers, those ranked in the top 1 percent by citations for field and year, instead of total citations.

“Relatively younger researchers are more apt to emerge in such an analysis than in one dependent on total citations over many years,” compilers note. Data used in the analysis and selection came from Essential Science Indicators, 2002-12, which included 113,092 Highly Cited Papers.

The Thomson Reuters group determined how many researchers to include in the list for each field based on the population of each field. The analysis does not include letters to the editor, correction notices and other marginalia.

The ranking team notes that “there are many highly accomplished and influential researchers who are not recognized by the method described above and whose names do not appear in the new list,” and “the only reasonable approach to interpreting a list of top researchers such as ours is to fully understand the method behind the data and results, and why the method was used.”