University of Massachusetts Amherst

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On May 3, when the The Stonewall Center held its 20th Annual Rainbow Graduation Dinner and LGBTQIA+ & Ally Recognition Ceremony in the Amherst Room on the 10th Floor of UMass Campus Center, undergraduate Phoebe Bisnoff of our Chemical Engineering Department received an LGBTQIA+ Student Leadership Award. Bisnoff, who will be back at UMass Amherst next year, was recognized for being the founder and president of our student chapter of oSTEM.

Aiste Balciunaite, a senior in our Chemical Engineering Department and an outstanding rower on the UMass Amherst Women’s Rowing Team, has been chosen as the university’s 2018 Female Spring Scholar-Athlete Award winner. In the Spring of 2017, Balciunaite, whose hometown is Rosemont, Pennsylvania, helped lead UMass to its third Atlantic-10 Championship in four years as the Minutewomen received the A-10’s automatic berth to the NCAA Championships. Balciunaite was born in Uppsala, Sweden, to Darius Balciunas and Jorune Balciuniene.

See profile »

John Chuma, a senior in the Mechanical and Industrial Engineering Department and an outstanding pole-vaulter on the UMass Amherst Men’s Track and Field Team, has been selected as the university’s 2018 Male Spring Scholar-Athlete Award winner. During a remarkably consistent career, Chuma has pole-vaulted between 15 feet and 16 feet at least 26 times and holds the UMass outdoor record in that event.

See Chuma’s profile »

The latest innovative enterprise from Sustainability Projects Abroad (SPA), a brilliant and idealistic consortium of UMass students led by some of our engineering undergraduates, is called “PowerPass,” which, according to its creators, is a sort of “power bank” and “walk-in, solar-powered kiosk that dispenses portable batteries for students to charge their phones on the go.” SPA has set up a MinuteFund, lasting until May 23, in hopes of supporting the installation of PowerPass on campus.

Support the SPA PowerPass project »

Professor Friederike Jentoft of the Chemical Engineering Department has been awarded the 37th annual "Excellence in Catalysis Award" from the Catalysis Society of Metropolitan New York (CSNY), which is a regional organization, but the awardee pool is national in scope. The award, sponsored by ExxonMobil Research and Engineering Company, consists of a plaque and a $1,500 gift. According to the CSNY, the award “is granted to an individual or a research team from North America to recognize outstanding contributions in either applied or basic research in either homogeneous or heterogeneous catalysis.”

The high-performance team of chemical engineering students Dan Bell, Yusuf Mohamad, Pat Ritchie, Ricardo Valdés, Nick Thomas, and Matt Lok – collectively calling themselves the “Squid Squad” – finished in third place among 21 competing teams at the American Institute of Chemical Engineering (AIChE) Chem-E-Car Northeast Regional Competition, held on April 7 and 8 in Rochester, New York.

Doctoral student Christopher Merola of the Electrical and Computer Engineering (ECE) Department has been notified that he is a finalist out of 171 entries in the 2018 Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers (IEEE) Antennas and Propagation Society (AP-S) Student Paper competition, taking place on July 10 at the 2018 IEEE International Symposium on Antennas and Propagation and USNC-URSI Radio Science Meeting in Boston. Merola’s paper is titled “A Class of Cavity-Based UWB Multi-Beamformers with Applications to Sub-6 GHz 5G,” and his advisor is ECE Professor Marinos Vouvakis.

Undergraduate student Leigh Hamlet of the Civil and Environmental Engineering (CEE) Department is one of nine UMass Amherst students to earn a prestigious National Science Foundation (NSF) Graduate Research Fellowship. Hamlet’s three-year NSF award will provide her with an annual stipend of $34,000 and a yearly $12,000 cost-of-education allowance to the graduate institution she will attend.

Congratulations to eight exceptional engineering students who will be receiving alumni scholarships and awards. The students were recognized by the UMass Amherst Alumni Association at a reception on Sunday, April 22, in the Student Union Ballroom.

Assistant Professor Kara Peterman of the Civil and Environmental Engineering (CEE) Department has won the prominent Norman Medal, the highest honor granted by the American Society of Civil Engineers (ASCE) for a technical paper that "makes a definitive contribution to engineering science." As CEE Department Head Richard Palmer said about her accomplishment, “I congratulate Dr. Peterman on the outstanding award. ASCE has been giving it for over 100 years, so that puts her in very, very good company.”

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