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Outstanding Alumni Awards 2016

College of Engineering 2016 Outstanding Senior Alumni Award Recipients

Recipients of the Outstanding Senior Alumni Award have brought recognition and honor to the College of Engineering through their professional achievements, leadership, and service to the profession, university, and society.


College of Engineering 2016 Outstanding Junior Alumni Award Recipients

Recipients of this award are worthy ambassadors for the UMass Amherst College of Engineering and have shown extraordinary effort and notable success in their early careers.


Outstanding Senior Alumni Award Recipients

Roberto Padovani ’83MS, ’85PhD 
Electrical and Computer Engineering

EVP/Fellow, Qualcomm Technologies, Inc.

Roberto Padovani is the executive vice president and a fellow at Qualcomm Technologies, Inc. He joined Qualcomm in 1986 and served as the company's chief technology officer from 2002 to 2011.

During his tenure at Qualcomm, Padovani has been involved in the research and development of digital communication systems with particular emphasis on Code Division Multiple Access (CDMA) wireless technology systems. He was involved in the initial design, development, and standardization of IS-95 CDMA systems. His research and inventions in this field have led to the worldwide standardization and commercialization of CDMA technology for second- and third-generation cellular systems. He has also led the design and development of CDMA2000 1xEV-DO, an IP-based, high-speed, wide-area, wireless data technology, which led to the deployment of high-speed data services on third-generation wireless networks across the globe.

Padovani holds more than 80 patents on wireless systems. He has published numerous technical papers in the digital communications field and was the co-recipient of the 1991 Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers (IEEE) Vehicular Technology Society Best Paper Award for a fundamental paper on the capacity of CDMA cellular systems. In 2009, he received the IEEE Eric E. Sumner Award “for pioneering innovations in wireless communications, particularly to the evolution of CDMA for wireless broadband data.” In 2016, he was awarded the IEEE Alexander Graham Bell Medal “for innovations enabling efficient, wideband, wireless access to the Internet that is central to all third-generation cellular networks.” He was elected to the National Academy of Engineering in 2006.

Padovani received a laureate degree from the University of Padova, Italy, and MS and PhD degrees from UMass Amherst, all in electrical and computer engineering. He is an IEEE fellow and an affiliate professor in the Electrical and Computer Engineering Department at the University of California, San Diego.


Edward S. Price ’90
Chemical Engineering

President and CEO, PCI Synthesis

Ed Price is president and CEO of PCI Synthesis (, a pharmaceutical development Contract Manufacturing Organization (CMO) based in Newburyport, Mass., which is the largest small-molecule drug-substance manufacturer in New England. PCI is a clinical and commercial manufacturer of new chemical entities (NCEs), generic active pharmaceutical ingredients (APIs), and other specialty chemical products.

With more than 25 years of experience in chemical operations and engineering manufacturing, Price has grown PCI from a basic chemical manufacturer into the leading CMO that it is today. With a robust product pipeline, PCI provides emerging and mid-sized pharmaceutical companies access to the expertise needed to develop and manufacture complex small molecules and APIs used in a variety of pharmaceutical products. Over the last three years PCI has been awarded a total of eight individual CMO awards by Life Science Leader magazine. The eight individual awards PCI received covered all five award categories, making PCI the most awarded drug substance CMO in North America.

As an industry thought-leader, Price also serves as a co-chair of the New England CRO/CMO Council and sits on the Industrial Advisory Board for the Department of Chemical Engineering at UMass Amherst. Price is also a long standing member of the American Chemical Society and advises the Bulk Pharmaceutical Task Force of the Society of Chemical Manufacturers and Affiliates (SOCMA). Numerous publications have written about PCI Synthesis, most recently in Pharmaceutical Processing, Pharmaceutical Outsourcing, Manufacturing Chemist, Pharmaceutical Compliance Monitor, Contract Pharma, the Boston Business Journal, Mass High Tech, Chemical & Engineering News, and BioSpace.

Prior to founding the company, Price served in numerous positions at several leading custom chemical manufacturers, including ChemDesign and PolyOrganix (previously Borregaard Synthesis). He holds a BS in chemical engineering from UMass Amherst and completed graduate studies in chemical engineering at Texas A&M University.


Martin C. Ross ’86
Mechanical and Industrial Engineering

Staff Engineer, UTC Aerospace Systems

Raised in Amherst, Mass., Marty Ross attended Amherst Regional High School. He studied at UMass Amherst, and graduated with a BS in mechanical engineering in 1986.

Ross started his career at IBM in Poughkeepsie, N.Y., as a manufacturing equipment and process engineer, working on the mainframe assembly line. Taking a sincere interest in heat transfer, he applied and was accepted to Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute (RPI) in Troy, N.Y., earning his master’s degree in 1993. While at RPI, he received a graduate internship at Los Alamos National Laboratory working in the combustion science field, and continued this work at California Institute of Technology in Pasadena, Calif. After his studies, he entered the aerospace industry with AlliedSignal and learned the skill of designing and fabricating compact heat exchangers.

In 2001, Ross was commissioned as an ensign in the Navy Reserve as a direct commission officer. While working in the aerospace industry as a civilian, he took military assignments at Supervisor of Shipbuilding in Groton, Conn. and in Bath, Maine. He served two command positions in the New England area, and recently served three years as executive officer in a regional shipyard command in Portsmouth, N.H. In August of this year, he was promoted to the rank of commander.

Ross relocated to the Hartford area in 2003, and has served a number of UTC business units, holding engineering positions with aircraft heat exchangers, submarine equipment, fuel cells, and power generating equipment. He has held local leadership positions in the American Society of Mechanical Engineers (ASME) for 32 years, and has recently gained national notoriety with the promotion and dedication of ASME Engineering National Landmarks program. His recent successful effort has the attention of US Congress, and is scheduled to be featured in the autumn 2016 issue of Smithsonian Air and Space Magazine.

Recently, Ross has been active in getting high school and middle school students involved with S.T.E.M., by teaching high school mathematics, physics, and chemistry, as well as college entrance exam preparation. He  recently mentored  an all-female high school FIRST Robotics team, coaching them to the FRC World Championships in April 2016.

Ross currently lives in Canton, Conn., with his wife Carol, and his two daughters Madeline and Emily.


John P. Sullivan Jr. ’72 
Civil and Environmental Engineering

Chief Engineer, Boston Water and Sewer Commission

John Sullivan, PE, is the chief engineer of the Boston Water and Sewer Commission. Sullivan started his career in 1972 with Boston Public Works, which transitioned in 1977 to the Boston Water and Sewer Commission, where he has held the position of chief engineer for the past 27 years. 

Sullivan holds an MBA degree from Northeastern University as well as an MS degree in emergency management from Massachusetts Maritime Academy. He is a registered professional engineer in the Commonwealth of Massachusetts, a certified operator of drinking water supplies in the Commonwealth, as well as a board certified environmental engineer by the American Academy of Environmental Engineers.

Sullivan has overseen many projects such as Boston’s Combined Sewer Overflow Program to improve water quality in Boston Harbor and its tributaries. He was instrumental in the Southwest Corridor Project, working in conjunction with the MBTA Orange Line construction throughout the city. Sullivan oversaw major sewer, drain, and water relocations for the construction of Route 93 during the Big Dig Project. In the last 25 years he has overseen over a billion dollars of water, sewer, and drain improvements.

Sullivan is a commissioner of the New England Interstate Water Pollution Control Commission, as well as the Boston Conservation Commission (for over 20 years). He is a director for both the National Association of Clean Water Agencies and the American Water Works Association. He is also the chair of the Water Information Sharing and Analysis Center and the National Water Sector Security Center. In addition, Sullivan is also an honorary member of the American Water Works Association, the New England Water Works Association, and the Boston Society of Civil Engineers.

Sullivan lives in Dorchester, Mass., with his wife. His three sons, a daughter, and three grandchildren live nearby.


Outstanding Junior Alumni Award Recipients

​Vered Bisker-Leib ’02MBA, ’03PhD 
Chemical Engineering

Chief Business Officer, Cydan

Vered Bisker-Leib serves as the chief business officer of Cydan, an orphan drug accelerator which creates companies dedicated to advancing therapies that improve the lives of patients with rare genetic diseases. As CBO of Cydan, she co-founded IMARA Inc., a company that focuses on the development of novel therapies for the treatment of sickle-cell disease and other hemoglobinopathies.

Prior to joining Cydan, Bisker-Leib was a member of Bristol-Myers Squibb’s strategic transactions group, where she assumed roles of increasing responsibility across five therapeutic areas, most recently as an executive director and global head of business development for the Cardiovascular and Metabolic franchises. She led a team responsible for creating the business development strategy and its execution, including the acquisitions of ZymoGenetics, Amira Pharmaceuticals, and Amylin.

Previously, Bisker-Leib held business development roles at Avalon Pharmaceuticals and MedImmune after beginning her career as a scientist at Baxter.

Bisker-Leib received her PhD in chemical engineering and MBA from UMass Amherst. She has a BSc in chemical engineering from the Israel Institute of Technology, Haifa. As an Israeli native, she served in the Israeli Defense Forces, where she advanced to the rank of first lieutenant.


Aaron M. Dollar ’00 
Mechanical and Industrial Engineering

Associate Professor, Yale University

Aaron M. Dollar is a tenured associate professor of mechanical engineering and materials science at Yale University.

After graduating from Tewksbury Memorial High School, he matriculated at UMass Amherst, where he eventually earned a BS in mechanical engineering, graduating Magna cum Laude with departmental honors. He wrote a bachelor’s thesis based on research done under the supervision of Professor Don Fisher, was a teaching assistant for Thermodynamics I and Honors Introduction to Mechanical and Industrial Engineering, and worked on campus in a number of capacities for the Honors Program, Facilities and Campus Services, and as a resident assistant.

After graduating from UMass, Dollar went on to graduate school at Harvard, earning MS and PhD degrees in engineering sciences, after which he conducted two years of postdoctoral research at the MIT Media Lab.

Dollar directs the Yale GRAB Lab, conducting research on topics including human and robotic grasping and dexterous manipulation, mechanisms and machine design, and assistive and rehabilitation devices, including upper-limb prosthetics and lower-limb orthoses. He has published nearly 150 peer-reviewed research papers on those topics.

Dollar is the recipient of a 2014 NASA Early Career Faculty Award, 2013 DARPA Young Faculty Award, 2011 Air Force Office of Scientific Research Young Investigator Award, 2010 Technology Review TR35 Young Innovator Award, and 2010 National Science Foundation CAREER Award. He also won first place in the Graduate Division of the 2006 ASME Student Mechanism Design Competition, as well as a number of Best Paper Awards and nominations.

Dollar is a strong advocate of open source methods of research and teaching dissemination, having created and freely distributed many of his own resources, including the Yale OpenHand Project,,, and a number of open datasets.

He lives near New Haven, Conn., with his wife, Noelle, and their two young children. 


Tiffany (Tauscher) Labrie ’03, ’05MS 
Civil and Environmental Engineering

Project Manager/Associate, Tighe & Bond, Inc.

Tiffany Labrie, PE, is a project manager and associate at Tighe & Bond, Inc., a leading New England regional engineering consulting firm. She works at the firm’s Westfield, Mass., office and has over 11 years of experience. 

Labrie specializes in the planning, design, bidding, and construction of large and complicated projects involving wastewater conveyance and treatment. Labrie was an integral member of the design team for the 40.7-MGD CSO Treatment Facility in Chicopee, Mass., and has authored a Long-Term CSO Control Plan and Integrated Water Resources Management Plan for the city. Labrie is managing the design and construction of the Read-West Pumping and Storage project for the City of Lowell, Mass., which involves both the rehabilitation of a 1940s U.S. Army Corps of Engineers flood pumping station and construction of an in-line storage facility on one of the city’s sewer interceptors. She also provides regular advice to a number of the firm’s municipal clients regarding industrial pretreatment programs.    

Labrie is a construction documents technologist with the Construction Specifications Institute and leads Tighe & Bond’s master specifications program. She is also a graduate of Tighe & Bond’s Leadership Institute and a member of the New England Water Environment Association.

Labrie holds a BS in civil and environmental engineering and an MS in environmental engineering from UMass Amherst, and she serves on the Advisory Council of the UMass Amherst Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering. At Tighe & Bond, she leads the firm’s annual fundraising appeal to support the UMass Amherst student chapters of Engineers Without Borders and American Society of Civil Engineers (ASCE), and she has also been a guest speaker at an ASCE student chapter meeting. 

Labrie is the clerk of the Southampton, Mass., Planning Board, and volunteers in various mentorship roles for the Distinguished Young Women Program of Greater Easthampton.

Labrie lives in Southampton with her husband, Jason ’02 (MIE) and two daughters. She enjoys hiking, bicycling, encouraging young women to pursue careers in engineering, and everything involved in raising two daughters.   



Justin S. Peavey ’93 
Electrical and Computer Engineering

Managing Director and Chief Information
Security Officer,Wellington Management

As the chief information security officer for Wellington Management, Justin Peavey is responsible for the development, operation, and oversight of Wellington Management’s global information security program. Key areas of the program include information risk management, cyber defense, security engineering, security operations, global networking, and disaster recovery.

Peavey joined Wellington in July of 2014 from Omgeo, LLC and the Depository Trust and Clearing Corporation (DTCC). He was the managing director for information systems and security and the chief information security officer for Omgeo, LLC and deputy chief information security officer for DTCC.

Prior to Omgeo/DTCC, Peavey was a vice president at State Street, guiding the company’s security architecture, enterprise security program development, and application security initiatives. He has been working in the information security and information systems fields for more than 20 years — primarily for the finance and defense industries — and has worked with such companies as Lockheed Martin, Pratt & Whitney, Fidelity Investments, John Hancock, IBM Scientific Research Center, and RSA Security. Peavey’s background is in security program development, security architecture, software development, and service delivery management. 

Peavey holds an MS degree in computer science with a concentration in information security from Boston University and a BS degree in computer systems engineering from UMass Amherst. Additionally, he holds the professional credentials for a certified information systems security professional and information systems security architect.