Research Awards and Honors

Chan Zuckerberg Initiative Awards $5.5M to Accelerate Science and Medicine

Researchers in the UMass Amherst Center for Data Science have received an initial $5.5 million grant from the Chan Zuckerberg Initiative to create a navigable map of scientific knowledge using artificial intelligence. Professor Andrew McCallum, distinguished scientist and Center for Data Science director, leads the Computable Knowledge project, designed to help scientists track important discoveries, uncover patterns, and deliver insights in an up-to-date collection of published scientific texts, including more than 60 million articles. Read More.

$1.5M Grant to Address HIV Prevention 

UMass Amherst engineer Chaitra Gopalappa is helping to refine the national strategy for reducing HIV infection by developing new analytic models and methods thanks to a $1.5 million grant from the National Institutes of Health. Gopalappa has had experience working closely with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the World Health Organization on noncommunicable diseases such as cancers and communicable diseases such as HIV. Her research will include analyses of a new methodology for simulating sexual and needle-sharing contact networks to reduce the incidence of HIV infections. Read More.

Mueller Awarded ACLS Research Fellowship

Melissa Mueller, classics, has been named a 2018 Frederick Burkhardt Residential Fellow by the American Council of Learned Societies. Burkhardt Fellowships carry a $95,000 stipend and a $7,500 research budget and allow awardees to take yearlong residencies at institutions whose resources and scholarly communities are well suited to facilitate their research. Mueller, a specialist in archaic and classical Greek poetry, will be in residence for the 2019–20 academic year at the National Humanities Center in North Carolina. Read More.

$525K to Study Earthquake Zone Fundamentals

Thanks to a $525,800 grant from the National Science Foundation, geoscientist Haiying Gao will be able to compare and model five subduction zones across the globe where large earthquakes have occurred. This is the first time research is being done for characterizing fundamental differences and similarities in earthquakes. She will compare characteristics of subduction zones in Alaska, New Zealand, South America, Central America, and the Caribbean and will model earthquake propagation. The improved models could help predict how much ground motion or displacement will occur with a massive earthquake. Read More.

Tropp’s Experimental Psychology Research Honored 

Social psychologist Linda Tropp received the 2018 Scientific Impact Award from the Society of Experimental Social Psychology. The award recognizes “the author of a specific article or chapter offering a theoretical, empirical, and/or methodological contribution that has proven highly influential over the last 25 years.” Tropp is honored for her theory that under certain conditions contact between two or more social groups can promote tolerance. Her findings show that intergroup contact typically reduces intergroup prejudice. Read More.

Campus Takes Lead Role in Photomechanical Materials Initiative

UMass polymer scientist Ryan Hayward has taken the lead role on a project to rethink how light-responsive materials are designed and fabricated. With new applications such as smart building materials that harness solar energy and remotely controlled microrobots being developed, the researchers hope to ultimately develop working, light-driven devices. Thanks to a $7.5 million grant from the Office of Naval Research Multidisciplinary University Research Initiative, Hayward and colleagues will design molecules and material architectures that efficiently convert photon energy into mechanical work. Read More.

Francis Awarded NEA Postdoctoral Fellowship 

Dania Francis, assistant professor of economics and Afro-American studies, has been selected to receive a National Academy of Education / Spencer Postdoctoral Fellowship, an award created to encourage outstanding scholars at the postdoctoral level to pursue critical education-research projects. Francis will use her $70,000 award to conduct research to help understand minority and women’s underrepresentation in advanced math courses in high school by investigating whether school counselors exhibit racial or gender bias in making course assignments. This research is being done in collaboration with faculty members Angela de Oliveira in resource economics and Carey Dimmitt in the College of Education. Read More.

Richardson Receives CAREER Award for Study of Parkinson’s Symptoms

Kelly Richardson, assistant professor of communication disorders, received a $461,000 early-career research award from NIH’s National Institute on Deafness and Communication Disorders to study two approaches to treating speech and voice symptoms associated with Parkinson’s disease. Until now, the primary speech treatment for people with Parkinson’s has focused on having patients learn to monitor their own speech and adjust their speaking volume when they perceive it as too soft. In a new approach, Richardson and Jessica Huber, a professor of speech, language, and hearing sciences at Purdue University, are using SpeechVive, a small in-ear device designed by Huber that takes advantage of a reflex to talk louder in the presence of background noise. Richardson and Huber hope to establish which voice-rehabilitation programs best match patients’ needs and maximize therapy outcomes. Read More.

Mwangi Honored for International Education Work

Chrystal A. George Mwangi, educational policy, research, and administration, has received the 2018 Innovative Research in International Education Award from NAFSA, an association of international educators. The award “celebrates and recognizes new and innovative research with potential or demonstrated impact in the field of international education.” Mwangi received the award in recognition of her 2017 article “Partner Positioning: Examining International Higher Education Partnerships through a Mutuality Lens.” It explores “60 international higher education partnerships through the lens of mutuality” and examines “how partners negotiate and navigate power.” Read More.

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