On January 6, the Colorado State University Coloradoan carried a feature article about the $2.8-million National Science Foundation project in the Dallas-Fort Worth area being run by the Engineering Research Center for Collaborative Adaptive Sensing of the Atmosphere (CASA). Brenda Philips is the director of industry, government, and end-user partnerships for CASA and the principal investigator for the NSF project. The story focused on the development of new emergency transponders, using a technology called “geocasting,” which can be used to warn people about severe weather on their mobile telephones. “With geocasting, we can turn mobile phones into emergency communication devices,” Philips explained. “It’s also resilient and can operate in challenging conditions.”

On the weekend of January 17, 18, and 19, a number of local organizations, including the College of Engineering Diversity Programs Office (DPO), teamed up to run a Beginning Arduino Makerspace Workshop for kids and adults. Arduino is a computer board which can be programmed to create a wide variety of electronic projects. This open-source electronics prototyping platform is based on flexible, easy-to-use hardware and software and intended for artists, designers, and hobbyists. The object of the weekend event, which was held at Amherst Media on College Street, was to create a new “Maker Community,” which emphasizes learning-through-doing in a social environment and informal, networked, peer-led, and shared learning motivated by fun and self-fulfillment.

Assistant Professor Jessica D. Schiffman of the Chemical Engineering (ChE) Department at the University of Massachusetts Amherst is the initial recipient of the Professor James Douglas Early Career Faculty Development Award. Douglas was a former faculty member and department head in the UMass Amherst ChE department. The award is being made “in honor of Professor Douglas’ research innovation, entrepreneurial spirit, and ability to tackle complex problems using innovative and non-traditional approaches to achieve results.”

The College of Engineering just received a major boost from the influential 2013 Leiden Ranking ( of more than 500 universities worldwide when UMass Amherst was rated 25th out of 115 U.S. research institutions and 28th out of 478 world institutions in “publication impact for natural sciences and engineering.” The Leiden Ranking indicated that 18.5 percent of UMass publications in the natural sciences and engineering are among the top 10 percent most cited in their fields. As Dean Tim Anderson commented, “This particular view of research success reflects the quality of faculty and graduate students at UMass in the natural sciences and engineering, as well as the collaborative environment.”  

On December 30, the daily Greenfield Recorder ran a feature story on the fascinating research of Shelly Peyton, a chemical engineer at UMass Amherst. In the article, Peyton says her research on breast-cancer metastasis using artificial tissues is beginning to yield significant results, showing, for example, that the most aggressive cancer cells tend to move toward and settle on bone tissue. Work in her laboratory also suggests that some current cancer treatments speed up the movement of cancer cells in the body and could be dangerous to some patients. Peyton also explains that she will now be expanding the work in her laboratory thanks to a five-year, $2.4-million grant from the National Institutes of Health.

A long feature story in the Daily Hampshire Gazette looked at Ryan Wade, a five-year-old Northampton boy who has a new mechanical arm he uses to feed himself because a genetic abnormality prevents him from full use of his arms and elbows. Students from Professor Frank Sup’s MIE 415 Senior Capstone Design course in the Mechanical and Industrial Engineering Department invented the device. The students are Brian Cormier, Andrew Friedlieb, Catherine Paquin, and Kyle Morrell. Nursing student Emily Gardner was also involved in the project. The team of students also recently won the capstone course’s end-of-semester poster contest, describing their invention to improve the quality of life for children with Pediatric Multiple Synostosis Syndrome, a rare genetic disorder characterized by multiple bone fusions involving the face, limbs, and middle ear.  

According to a UMass Amherst press release and a related article in the Springfield Republican, our Northeast Climate Science Center (NECSC) will award over $800,000 to universities and other partners for research to guide managers of parks, refuges, and other cultural and natural resources in planning how to help species and ecosystems adapt to climate change in the region. Three of the funded studies will directly involve UMass Amherst scientists, who will receive approximately $200,000 over the next two years for collaborative work with others. Richard Palmer, head of the Civil and Environmental Engineering Department, is the university director of the NECSC and a member of two of the funded research teams. Read UMass press release:

In December, Vietnamese-born College of Engineering student Johnny Huynh and his brother George were profiled in the Boston Globe and on NBC Nightly News as a follow-up to a 2011 Globe feature series (12/18/2011: Brothers seek a way up and out) about their difficult upbringing in Dorchester. The catalyst for this week’s story was word from George Huynh that he was following his older brother Johnny into higher education with his official acceptance by Yale University. The following is the new Globe story, written by Billy Baker, in its entirety: Just after 5 p.m. Monday, the text message popped up on my phone. “I got in.” I was sitting at my desk in the Globe newsroom, and I started crying. For me, it was the culmination of the most incredible story, one that began two years ago when I worked on a series about the Number 19 MBTA bus.

Dr. Marshall Jones, an alumnus of the UMass Mechanical and Industrial Engineering Department and an engineer at GE Global Research, was a recipient of the 2013 UMass Amherst “Salute to Service” award in Boston (read articles in Digital Journal and Since joining General Electric Global Research Center in 1974, Jones has received 54 U.S. patents and 32 foreign patents; authored or co­authored over 45 publications; and presented numerous talks at national and international technical conferences. He received a B.S. in Mechanical Engineering from the University of Michigan in 1965 and his M.S. and Ph.D. in Mechanical Engineering from UMass Amherst in 1972 and 1974, respectively. See UMass Salute to Service Awards:

Joseph Bardin of the Electrical and Computer Engineering Department at the University of Massachusetts Amherst has received a five-year grant of approximately $400,000 from the prestigious National Science Foundation (NSF) Faculty Early Career Development (CAREER) Program. Bardin’s research will greatly improve the cryogenic electronics used in scientific instruments, thereby enabling new and more powerful experimental tools for scientific researchers.