The University of Massachusetts Amherst

Rising Researcher

Genius Meets Grit

The pandemic didn’t slow the pace of significant achievements by UMass Amherst undergraduates in research, scholarship, and creative activity.

This year, persistent UMass Amherst undergraduates adapted to COVID-19 restrictions as they engaged in substantial research, exercised their creativity, and elevated campus and the community. They found ways to thrive—they worked on campus when permitted and capitalized on remote research, learning, and volunteer opportunities. Read about the remarkable accomplishments of the nine spring 2021 UMass Amherst Rising Researchers here.


Ali Abdel-Maksoud ’21, electrical engineering

“In college, things clicked for me. I took the time to find what I like and I learned not to quit when things got hard. When I found my passion, I knew I had to focus.”

Ali Abdel-Maksoud describes himself as a curious kid, the kind who would take things apart and poke around in an electrical socket. As an intern in the Wearable Electronics Lab of Trisha Andrew, associate professor of chemistry and chemical engineering, he put that curiosity into action.

The Andrew lab makes textiles that can harvest solar energy. These textiles can be used to make wearable electronic garments that can power devices and monitor health and activity. Ali works on fabricating solar cells using soft electronic materials and a technique, known as oxidative chemical vapor deposition, that the lab developed to create electronic polymer films on textiles.

Ali’s curiosity brought him to the lab and secured him a place there. He read an article on the UMass home page about Andrew’s research and, intrigued by the green energy potential of her work, met with her and peppered her questions. After joining the lab, he learned how to perform highly specialized deposition and characterization techniques using the lab’s state-of-the-art equipment. “Every day was me on a playground,” he says. “When I used the glovebox, I felt like an astronaut.”

After training from graduate students David Bilger and Kwang-Won Park, Ali was soon performing his own experiments. “It is rare that a young undergraduate will demonstrate sufficient maturity and technical and experimental mastery to be trusted enough to perform specialized experiments on their own,” says Andrew.

Ali contributed to two published research papers. The first investigated a new method to improve the coating on solar textiles and was published in Organic Electronics. The second, published in Polymer Chemistry, investigates the use of guaiazulene, a natural hydrocarbon dye that comes from such sources as the Australian cypress pine, for green electronics.

“We were told guaiazulene couldn’t be polymerized successfully, but we did it easily and consistently,” Ali says. “We showed that this is a brand new, less expensive, greener polymer material. Essentially, it’s a simple material for harvesting solar energy.”

Ali is now working on a third experiment, attempting to create low cost and ultralightweight solar-harvesting textiles.

After two years in Andrew’s lab, Ali’s curiosity is still powered up. “I want to see how Professor Andrew does things so that I can contribute,” he says. “I watch her closely and take notes.” And he’s excited about the potential applications of the lab’s work, including virtual reality garments and t-shirts for older adults equipped with a pressure sensor that could detect falls.

Ali will continue at UMass Amherst to study for a PhD in electrical engineering. He credits his immigrant parents with his transformation from a curious kid with average high school grades to a published researcher. “We came to the US from Egypt when I was nine, and it was a shock for me,” he says. “But my parents’ unwavering faith in me has been my rock and my motivation.”

Samantha Hano ’22, public health sciences and psychology, Commonwealth Honors College

“I’ve always had a desire to help people who have challenges and are struggling with life. I believe an individual can make changes that can create a domino effect to improve the lives of the vulnerable and overlooked.”

A courthouse is a nexus of troubled people—many with opioid use disorder. At the Holyoke, Massachusetts, District Court, a new program brings same-day access to medications and other treatment right to the courthouse. When UMass Amherst junior Samantha Hano heard about this program, called HEART, she saw a way to put her two majors—psychology and public health—to work to reduce opioid overdoses.

“This was my dream internship,” she says.

Well aware that opioid use disorder is a massive and complex problem, Samantha was nevertheless confident that her UMass education had given her the tools to contribute to the project. HEART (Holyoke Early Access to Recovery Treatment) was founded in March 2020 by Judge William P. Hadley. UMass Amherst public health interns are assisting in the development, implementation, and evaluation of the program, advised by Associate Professor of Public Health Elizabeth Evans.

During the course of the year, alongside fellow UMass interns Amelia Bailey ’24G and Kene Orakwue ’21, Samantha conducted research, planning, and evaluation of the innovative HEART program. She studied comparable programs in other locations, designed an evaluation plan, solicited feedback on the program’s functionality, adapted the program for remote access due to COVID -19, and created a comprehensive report on the HEART initiative.

Evans calls Samantha instrumental in the program’s implementation. “Her work is an excellent example of student-led research that is community engaged and impactful,” she says.

Collaboration among healthcare providers, the criminal justice system, and more than 10 community- based agencies will be essential to HEART’s success. Samantha and others interviewed key stakeholders for program input, educated court personnel about the program, and created materials to advertise HEART to the community.

When it came time to roll the program out at the Holyoke courthouse and explain HEART to people with substance abuse disorders, Samantha got the frontline experience she craved. “The judge encourages people with substance abuse disorders who come to the court for an arraignment, a hearing, or another reason to walk right down the hall to meet with a UMass intern and then immediately get connected to a recovery coach and clinician,” she explains. “When I spoke with these individuals, any preconceived notions I still held of persons with substance abuse disorder were shattered. It affects all walks of life, all genders, all ages, all ethnicities, all backgrounds. It’s a disease that plagues all individuals.”

Drawing on her education in psychology and her training in motivational interviewing, Samantha used her communication skills to encourage people to make positive change. “I made an intention to always speak in a kind and nonjudgmental tone,” she says.

This summer Samantha will help train a new cohort of HEART interns. She says that her experience with the program has strengthened her desire to work in community health planning or criminal justice reform. She plans to pursue a master’s of public health degree and possibly a doctorate in psychology.

The results of her HEART-related research, she says, “transcended my expectations of where my hard work could lead.”

Claire Healy ’21, political science, Commonwealth Honors College

“I realized I had to understand history and culture and be able to speak to people in their own languages in order to make a positive impact on the world.”

In her first year at UMass, Claire Healy had a grand vision. What if there was an international, multilingual magazine that could create community among young people across borders? The magazine would publish poets, writers, artists, and journalists and its audience would experience a diverse collective of perspectives, artwork, and languages. The first issue of Claire’s dream magazine, The Open, will be published before she graduates from UMass in May. She produced it on a focused foundation of four years of coursework, internships, study abroad, and extracurricular work.

Claire traces her interest in global social justice to her childhood among the international community in Cambridge, Mass. “Growing up, the conversations my friends and I were having were often about social justice and human rights,” she says.

Beginning with her first semester at UMass, she took advantage of every opportunity to expand her education beyond the classroom: she was both a political science and a legal studies research assistant; she participated in the College of Social and Behavioral Sciences internship program in Washington, DC, and remained in the capital for a summer internship; she wrote for the Massachusetts Daily Collegian and was an Amherst Media news anchor; she worked as a communications assistant for Commonwealth Honors College; she attended a journalism bootcamp.

In her sophomore year, determined to broaden her international perspective, Claire doubled down on her political science classes so that she could study abroad both semesters of her junior year, enrolling in the most immersive programs available. In fall 2019 she studied Arabic (her minor) in Jordan, and in spring 2020 she studied Spanish in Havana, Cuba, and lived with a host family there.

In Cuba and Jordan she made close friends who would become staff members and contributors to The Open. The first edition of the magazine is in English, Spanish, and Arabic. “The design itself is a demonstration of the ability to have conversations despite linguistic or physical barriers,” says Claire.

The 70-page first issue includes 11 thought-provoking articles, such as a story from Lebanon about the tradition of gun shootings at weddings and funerals, several stories about higher ed during the pandemic, and a story from Cuba about consumerism’s impact on the planet, as well as poetry, and art from around the world.

Claire’s faculty advisor, Professor of Political Science Paul Musgrave, has high praise for The Open. He says, “This is an unusually challenging and impressive piece of work. Claire has wrangled dozens of writers, artists, translators, and editors to contribute to her publication. She’s taught herself how to manage across cultures and time zones, how to balance editorial judgment and artistic freedom, and how to create web sites and use desktop publishing software. This is an exemplary piece of work that UMass should be proud to claim, embodying as it does a commitment to excellence, creativity, inclusion, and equity throughout.”

Claire’s outlook is eloquently expressed in The Open’s mission statement: “We believe people across the world are the same, and that young people make positive change. The future rests in the hands of those who understand these international connections and prioritize common peace and happiness.”

This summer, Claire will serve as a fellow in the College of Social and Behavioral Sciences internship program in Washington, DC.  And she and her collaborators plan to keep publishing The Open. “I really want to make this long lasting,” Claire says, “I believe we can spark positive change.”

Social Media @theopenintl

Isabel Levin ’22, sociology, Commonwealth Honors College

“I am no longer consumed by the fear that a career in academia is incompatible with spearheading community development, policy change, and the celebration of my voice as a marginalized thinker.”

After enrolling at UMass Amherst, Isabel Levin progressed from barely having heard of sociology to becoming what Assistant Professor of Sociology Kathryne Young calls “the most promising undergraduate researcher I have ever met.”

As Young’s research assistant, Isabel laid the groundwork for her later independent work. She learned qualitative data collection, conducting highly sensitive interviews on topics as diverse as the opioid epidemic and queer underground sexual cultures.

In the summer of 2020, Isabel took part in the Moore Undergraduate Research Apprenticeship Program (MURAP) at the University of North Carolina Chapel Hill, where marginalized undergraduate researchers in the social sciences and humanities conduct independent research. Through MURAP, Isabel came to the realization that her identity and personal experiences as a Latinx-Jewish woman were a resource: “I learned that I can maintain scientific rigor in my contributions while still using my voice as a symbol of resistance against the historic silencing and mistreatment of my community,” she says. Consequently, Isabel chose to draw on her identity as a Latinx-Jewish woman for her research project.

On her research website, Isabel recalls growing up with her Peruvian mother in Marblehead, Mass. “I always felt like my family stuck out, especially in school,” she writes. “It felt like my mom’s voice, perspective, and knowledge did not have a place in my education and, in turn, that she was somehow less than the other moms. As I have grown up, I have started to think more critically about how non-white, specifically Latinx, families are treated within public schools and how schools can, but often fail to be, places of community development and collective growth.”

For her MURAP project, Isabel focused on understanding actions taken by school administrators in North Carolina to integrate Latinx parents and address their needs. In her paper, “‘They Don’t Know How to Complain’: How American Schools Have Forgotten Immigrant Parents,” she concluded that school administrators implicitly blame Latinx families for their own disadvantage and then as a logical consequence, aim to change parents rather than enhancing the inclusivity of the system. Isabel’s advisor, Young, remarks, “This cogently argued work is simply remarkable.”

Upon returning to UMass last fall, Isabel built on those findings for another paper, “A Seat at the Bargaining Table: How Privileged Parents Determine School Operations in the COVID Era.” She also conducted an oral history with her mother, “El Sendero Luminoso A Través de Los Ojos de Mi Mamá” (The Shining Path Through the Eyes of My Mom). Her honors thesis will explore the various dimensions of how second generation Latinx immigrants come to understand their sense of self and cultural identity.

Isabel’s work and commitment to social science research have drawn attention. She presented her MURAP paper at the Scholarship & Social Justice Undergraduate Research Conference at Harvard University and presented her independent study on the reopening of schools at the Massachusetts Undergraduate Research Conference. Last spring, she received the C. Wright Mills Award for Sociological Imagination and the Feldman-Vorwerk Family Undergraduate Research Award.

She plans to pursue a PhD in sociology and become a professor. “I see my future as filled with opportunities to address the social ills which have shaped my own life in an impactful and gratifying way,” she says.

Kathleen Loonie ’21, pre-veterinary sciences, Commonwealth Honors College

“The research realm gives you a place to apply your knowledge and space to practice what you are learning, which is so important.”

As a young girl dreaming of becoming a veterinarian, Kate Loonie may have expected some of the hands-on experiences she had at UMass Amherst. She vaccinated and ear-tagged Belted Galloway cattle, medicated injured horses, helped deliver lambs, and even cared for turtles as a summer intern at the New England Aquarium. But she didn’t expect that some of her most fulfilling work would be performing gene sequencing on a computer.

“I never saw myself doing research, especially in my undergraduate years,” Kate says. “I didn’t think I would enjoy lab work. But it pushed me to places I didn’t think I’d be able to go.”

Working in the lab of Professor of Veterinary and Animal Sciences Cynthia Baldwin beginning in her freshman year, Kate has been involved in three cellular immunology research projects related to tracking down a gene family, known as WC1, in sheep, cattle, and goats. She will leave UMass with her name on three published research papers.

Although genetic sequences at first looked like alphabet soup to her, Kate learned the Baldwin lab’s bioinformatics technology quickly. “I practiced and practiced that tedious software every moment I could,” she recalls. Baldwin noted that Kate is a good collaborator who is proactive in the lab. “She is really passionate about learning new techniques and is a very mature, independent, and responsible individual,” she said.

Having learned the software, Kate was given an independent project—looking at the gene sequences of the auroch, the ancient ancestors of our modern-day cattle. The auroch, immortalized in cave paintings, were massive super cattle that lived in Asia, Europe, and North Africa before their extinction in 1627. Kate sequenced the DNA from a 6,000 year-old auroch humerus bone and gathered evidence of the presence of WC1. “I concluded that some bovine WC1 molecules were preserved from the ancient auroch, while some molecules seem to have been lost or created from evolution. This shows it’s possible the aurochs were seeing the same pathogens as we’re seeing today,” she says. This research has important implications for improving the health of ruminants.

For her second published project, Kate amalgamated data from numerous years of study and used gene sequencing technology to investigate WC1 in sheep. Her third published paper is titled, “Special features of T cells in ruminants.” Kate’s thesis, “Investigating gene expression in γδ T cells,” contributes toward understanding cells that could point the way toward more effective vaccines.

For Kate, lab work revealed the true potential of the impact a veterinarian can have in research. “Research made me stop and think,” she says. “I started to think about situations differently and more analytically both in the lab and out of the lab, in classes, at the cattle barn, and everywhere else. I caught a glimpse of the potential I will have with more education, and how much I can contribute to developing science and knowledge in my future. With that, I relit my passion for veterinary science.”

Kate will begin studying for her doctor in veterinary medicine degree at Cornell University this summer. After I have established my veterinary career, she says, “I can see myself pursuing a master’s or PhD in the research realm. I hope to teach the young undergraduate generation of pre-veterinary students.”

Eugenia Roberts ’21, biochemistry and molecular biology, Commonwealth Honors College

“I did not have a single revelatory experience that pointed to my future. Instead, I had a ladder that helped me grow intellectually; each step of this ladder was an experience I was able to live through my research.”

Eugenia Roberts was only 17 when she came to UMass Amherst from her home country of Nicaragua. English was her second language and she had some trouble at first fully understanding her fellow students. Understanding biochemistry and molecular biology, however, has not been a problem. Working with Sloan Siegrist, assistant professor of microbiology, Eugenia has developed a new, much faster way to detect bacterial bloodstream infections. Last fall, the technology received a $100,000 seed grant from the UMass Amherst Manning/IALS Innovation Awards program.

As Siegrist says, “I often forget that Eugenia is an undergraduate. Her maturity and productivity would be impressive at any stage! In the year since she joined my lab, she has made an outsize impact on our work.”

In her first semester at UMass, Eugenia joined the lab of Leonid Pobezinsky, assistant professor of veterinary and animal sciences, and conducted cancer immunology research. “Coming from an underdeveloped country, I had to teach myself not only basic things like the science behind PCR [polymerase chain reaction] but also very advanced molecular biology pathways that I would not otherwise have learned so early in college,” Eugenia recalls. “I even took a senior-level immunology class during my sophomore year.”

She next interned in the Flow Cytometry Core Facilities, where she assisted researchers with cutting-edge cell imaging technology and was exposed to the depth and breadth of research at UMass Amherst. Following her scientific curiosity, she went on to the Siegrist lab, which conducts research on the cell wall of intracellular pathogens. One of the lab’s goals is to engineer the bacterial cell wall for new biomedical applications.

In the Siegrist lab, Eugenia worked on developing a new way to detect bloodstream bacterial infections. These types of infections impact 1 to 3 million patients in the US each year and have a high mortality rate of 15 to 30 percent. It now takes up to three days to diagnose sepsis and identify the proper antibiotic treatment.  Eugenia executed experiments that prove the lab’s novel means of detecting bacterial growth can give doctors results within hours, significantly decreasing the mortality of sepsis patients.

Eager to develop the lab’s new diagnostic technology for commercialization, Eugenia became conversant in the language of business. She researched the market, worked on the business model, consulted with attorneys, searched for grants, and wrote parts of the proposal for the Manning Award. Says Siegrist, “Eugenia will be a well-deserved co-author on the provisional patent.”

“My project at the Siegrist lab helped me develop something classes cannot really teach you: critical thinking regarding real-life scientific problems,” says Eugenia. “I knew I enjoyed research but making a fast, direct impact on people’s wellbeing played a huge role in my passion for my project. This is why, ultimately, I have decided the best path for me is to pursue an MD/PhD.”

Nicholas Sbalbi ’22, chemical engineering, Commonwealth Honors College

“While simultaneously tackling classes and my research projects can be a lot to handle at times, I have found that my research work has enriched my classroom experiences.”

What excites Nicholas Sbalbi about research is the element of surprise. He says, “At UMass I have experienced the frustration of sensitive experiments, the mystery of unexpected data, and the satisfaction of confirming hypotheses. None of these emotions have matched the simultaneous joy and intrigue of discovery—whether it is finding a unique or wacky morphology under the electron microscope or generating surprising yet impactful results when analyzing data.”

Nicholas has already made some useful discoveries, and this spring his potential as a scientist was nationally recognized when he was one of three UMass juniors to win a prestigious Goldwater Scholarship from the Barry Goldwater Scholarship and Excellence in Education Foundation. 

Nicholas began working with Laura Bradley, assistant professor of polymer science and engineering (a graduate program that welcomes undergraduate researchers), in his first semester at UMass Amherst. Since then, he has worked year-round for Bradley’s HIP Materials Group and has had his name on one of their published academic research papers. He likes the complexity of materials science, an interdisciplinary field that investigates the properties of matter. “In my research, I’m just scratching the surface of what’s possible,” he says. “It’s a puzzle to figure out which knobs you can turn without drastically varying the system.”

Nicholas’s first project was working on a new chemical vapor deposition chamber for producing functional polymer coatings. These nanometer-thin coatings can be used for battery technology, controlled wettability, and other applications.

His second project was synthesis of micromotors through the modification of the lab’s previously made Janus particles. These particles, named for the two-faced Roman god, have two distinct sides. It was during this research that he made a discovery: a particle in the shape of a jellyfish with one rough and one smooth side. “I was trying to make micromotors, expecting one thing to happen, and instead I got this,” he recalls. “Its weird shape surprised me.”

The unusual shape of the Janus jellyfish particle also gives it unique properties. For his Commonwealth Honors College thesis, which he hopes to develop into a published paper, Nicholas will further research the formation mechanism of the Janus jellyfish particle.

Says Bradley, “What makes Nick an exceptional researcher is his ability to define scientific questions and then compile data in the context of these questions in order to make concrete conclusions.”

Bradley also lauded Nicholas for playing a significant supporting role in the research of others. Working remotely from home last summer, he collaborated with graduate students to write custom programs in the coding language MATLAB to assist them in data and image analysis, speeding up these processes significantly.

Nicholas plans to study for a PhD in either materials science or chemical engineering, a route that should lead to many more of the scientific surprises he relishes. “My goal is to lead a group of researchers in either an industrial, academic, or national laboratory setting, helping to bring others to their own discoveries,” he says.

Alan Simon ’21, interdisciplinary studies, University Without Walls

“This period of structured learning at UMass has reawakened an intellectual passion I had when I was younger and, for many reasons, was unable to fulfill in my youth.”

Al Simon jokes that some people earn their undergraduate degree in four years, some in six, but he was on the 44-year plan. He’ll graduate from the University Without Walls in May at age 61.

As the son of French-Canadian millworkers from Somersville, Connecticut, who didn’t complete high school, he was at a disadvantage when he enrolled in college at 17. “My first attempt was a total disaster. I was ashamed of that until I got older and learned about obstacles facing first-generation students,” he says. He tried college again later and did well academically, but life—work, family, a mortgage—got in the way.

His third attempt has gone much better. Al expected it would take up to three years to earn his UWW degree, but the pandemic sped up the process. He stepped away from his work as a consultant for car dealerships and completed his course work in 18 months.

His undergraduate studies gave him the opportunity, while researching a paper for a labor history class, to explore the history of his hometown and of the mills where his family worked and his parents met.  “I discovered a story I had no clue existed, which turned out to be a much bigger story than I anticipated when I began writing,” he says.

Al’s paper relates the fascinating tale of labor activism, including a strike and union busting, at the textile mill in Somersville. The small mill was one of many throughout New England that attracted immigrant workers from such disparate places as Canada, Poland, and Portugal. “This was an industry where workers were exploited before we had modern labor laws,” Al says. “People had to fight for their rights. In this place, in this period of time, they did that.”

Working remotely, he drew on dozens of archival resources, from union records in Wisconsin to the Connecticut census, to examine the role of familial networks, ethnicity, and gender in the mill workers’ unionization effort. He investigated the change in workers tactics from shop floor action to a legal strategy. And he looked into the motives behind the mill owners’ rigid opposition to the union.

He had fun weaving his research into a narrative. Al says. “It’s like being a detective; no single source had the whole story.”

Along the way he uncovered some historical nuggets: “Mike the Polander,” the only Somersville barber, refused to cut the hair of strikebreakers. One female unionist carried a rattrap on the picket line. The 18-year-old arrested for singing derogatory songs to scabs was Al’s uncle, John Simon.

Al’s paper, “New Deal Labor Militancy in a Connecticut Industrial Village: The Somersville Manufacturing Company (1934-1942),” will be published in the spring 2021 edition of the Connecticut History Review.

Al says: “Our history shaped the present and is so much more than the history of great leaders. When you look back these folks are anonymous, but they had lives and they had struggles. People are going to learn about them now and that makes me feel really good.”

Al’s advisor, University Without Walls senior lecturer Jacqueline Castledine, is among many urging him to enroll in graduate school for a master’s degree in history. She says, “Al’s intellectual curiosity, and ability to contextualize historical sources are exceptional for an undergraduate student and lay a foundation to build upon in graduate work.”

He’s considering it. “I feel a responsibility to give voice to people who typically aren’t heard; there’s a lot more of the story to tell,” he says.

Solomon Siskind ’21, sport management and sociology

“Research can be tough, but when you love it and it’s meaningful to you and others it doesn’t feel like hard work. I’ve loved every second of it.”

As a Black student-athlete on the UMass Football team, Solomon Siskind was aware that some of his non-white friends and teammates experienced culture shock, microaggressions, depression, and feelings of isolation at UMass Amherst. In his junior year, he gathered and analyzed data confirming and quantifying these problems. That project set the course for his future: “Research will be a big part of my graduate school life and career,” he says. “I want to ensure that student-athletes are getting the most out of their college experiences and that these institutions are creating equitable environments for everybody involved.”

Early in 2020, Solomon and Desiree Oliver ’21, a basketball player on the UMass women’s team, represented UMass Athletics at the Black Student-Athlete Summit in Austin, Texas. At the conference, Solomon says, “I was able to learn from and interact with some of the brightest people in sport and mental health. This summit exposed me to people of color, specifically Black people, in unique roles that I wasn’t accustomed to. The event allowed me to better understand my experience as a Black student-athlete.”

Solomon and Desiree returned to campus charged up to make change at UMass and immediately began work on a research project: “Analysis of the Black Student-Athlete Experience at a Predominantly White Institution (PWI).” They created a 47-question survey focused on racial and ethnic differences in attitudes towards support systems and resources at UMass, went through the rigorous UMass IRB (institutional review board) approval process, and sent their survey to 650 UMass student-athletes.

They received 175 responses with representation from every team. Their survey showed that at UMass, non-white student-athletes experience culture shock, anxiety, and depression at significantly higher rates than their white counterparts. For example, the data showed non-white student-athletes are three times more likely to experience culture shock and half of non-white student-athletes reported feeling depressed or isolated at UMass.

“This is something we’ve seen first-hand, but it goes unsaid,” Solomon says. “And we hadn’t seen hard data. To finally see the numbers confirms what’s going on. You can’t deny the numbers.”

Having seen the numbers, Solomon and Desiree took action. They inaugurated a campus Call to Action Research Fair and made formal recommendations for change to UMass and UMass Athletics. Their proposals ranged from inclusive community groups, to mental health education awareness, to transformational experiences for student-athletes. “With COVID-19 and with the Black Lives Matter movement, UMass was already starting to get ahead of this,” Solomon says. “We’ve already seen some progress in Athletics, such as new safe spaces for our Black athletes and the hiring of a director of sports psychology.”

Elizabeth Smith Hamlet, senior assistant director for academic success in UMass Athletics, admires Solomon’s activism. “His work ethic, perseverance, and ability to push the envelope for student-athletes is unmatched,” she says.

Solomon will stay at UMass to study for his master’s degree in sport management and will serve as a research assistant to Vice Chancellor for Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion Nefertiti Walker. He concludes on a positive note: “There’s still work to be done, but I’m confident that UMass Athletics and UMass as a whole are heading in the right direction.”



Questions about the Rising Researcher student award program?
Contact Marzena Burnham