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Boakye Chosen as One of Four “Rising Researchers” at UMass Amherst

Civil Engineering Major Jessica Boakye has been honored as a 2013-2014 “Rising Researcher” by Research Next, the UMass Amherst publication and website that recognizes the outstanding research, scholarship, and creativity of the students and faculty on campus. Boakye’s work recently won her a spot as one of the “New Faces of Civil Engineering” in the nation by the American Society of Civil Engineers, which annually honors 10 students throughout the United States. The Rising Researcher Award was launched last year as a way to bring to the forefront outstanding young researchers—undergraduate students who have demonstrated leadership and impact in their chosen area of study. The Rising Researcher program acknowledges the excellent work of UMass Amherst undergraduate students.

Research Next describes itself as “a window into the research, scholarship, and creative activity that distinguishes UMass Amherst as a top research university. Our story is told through the voices of the faculty, students, and staff who, through their work, are creating a brighter future for us all.”

Read the Rising Researcher profile of Jessica Boakye:

Rising Researcher - Jessica Boakye

Civil Engineering Major Jessica Boakye honored as 2013-2014 Rising Researcher

“I have found her to be an independent thinker who can creatively approach any complicated topic."

-Behrouz Shafei, Faculty Advisor

Undergraduate research does not go unnoticed at UMass Amherst. The Rising Researcher Award was launched last year as a way to bring to the forefront outstanding young researchers—undergraduate students who have demonstrated leadership and impact in their chosen area of study. Boakye is one of four students selected this fall to receive this honor.

Civil Engineering major and Commonwealth Honors College student Jessica Boakye ’14, whose research focuses on the seismic response of skewed bridges, is already making big infrastructural waves. Boakye works with advisor Behrouz Shafei to model bridges and measure their responses to varying levels of seismic activity. Her work recently won her a spot as one of the American Society of Civil Engineers’ “New Faces of Civil Engineering-College Edition,” which honors ten students annually throughout the United States. Boakye has been a member of the Computational Structural Simulation (CSS) research group since 2012 and serves as the co-leader of the UMass Seismic Design Team. Her work with the CSS group enabled her to secure a competitive REU position in summer 2013 at the NSF-funded National Network for Earthquake Engineering Simulation (NEES) facilities in the University of California San Diego.

“I have found her to be an independent thinker who can creatively approach any complicated topic. She has a solid background in engineering with a strong passion for learning new concepts,” says Shafei.

Boakye is also a very active participant in the events of the Diversity Programs Office, including the UMass Women in Engineering and Computing Career Day for high school students. She aspires to get licensed as a Professional Engineer. Boakye has always been intrigued by bridges and wanted to learn more about how to design and improve them. She explains that the infrastructure of the twentieth century is in disrepair and she is eager to take part in the changes to come.

“The current state of the infrastructure in this country highlights the necessity of strategies that help to ensure the performance and safety of roads, bridges, and buildings.  This generation’s researchers are charged with finding innovative solutions to infrastructure problems.  I hope that by continuing with research, I can help determine some of those solutions,” says Boakye. 

Boakye will be honored along with the other Rising Researchers during a reception with Chancellor Subbaswamy in the spring. (December 2013)