Seven UMass Amherst Researchers Named among ‘World’s Leading Scientific Minds,’ Survey Says

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AMHERST, Mass. – Once again, seven 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.

Thomson Reuters compilers who set out to identify “some of the best and brightest scientific minds of our time” recently recognized UMass Amherst food scientists Eric Decker and David Julian McClements, polymer scientist Thomas Russell, soil chemist Baoshan Xing of the Stockbridge School of Agriculture, biostatistician and epidemiologist Susan Hankinson of the School of Public Health and Health Sciences, microbiologist Derek Lovley and astronomer Mauro Giavaliso in its recent Highly Cited Researchers 2016 list.

Thomson Reuters says, “The 2016 list focuses on contemporary research achievement: only Highly Cited Papers in science and social sciences journals indexed in the Web of Science Core Collection during the 11-year period 2004-14 were surveyed.” These papers are defined as those that rank in the top 1 percent by citations for field and publication year in the Web of Science.

Michael Malone, vice chancellor for research and engagement for the campus, says, “The results of this citation study demonstrate the terrific impact of the research done by this distinguished group of UMass Amherst faculty and their students.”

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,” the compilers explain.

To focus on “more contemporary research achievement” and “recognize early and mid-career as well as senior researchers,” for this year’s list they survey only articles and reviews in science and social sciences journals indexed in the Web of Science Core Collection during the period 2004-14. Next, as an impact measure they consider 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.”

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