Professor Jessica Schiffman of the Chemical Engineering (ChE) Department has been appointed for a renewable, five-year term as the inaugural recipient of the Gary Lapidus Faculty Fellowship in Chemical Engineering. The fellowship, established in 2021 with a generous gift from alumnus Gary Lapidus, will support Schiffman with resources for research, teaching expenses, and/or professional travel. See UMass News article.
“A world-class faculty is at our core,” says Dean Sanjay Raman of the College of Engineering. “Through Gary’s significant gift, we will support a star faculty member who can create a deep and lasting impact on our chemical engineering students.”
Key factors in Schiffman’s selection include: her innovative and impactful research at the intersection of materials science, engineering, and microbiology; being a leading advocate for diversity, equity, and inclusion; as well as her substantial contributions to the ChE department and the College of Engineering.
Schiffman, who has been at UMass Amherst for over a decade, is a leading expert in bioinspired materials science, green chemistry, and polymer engineering.
Schiffman heads the Schiffman Lab, an interdisciplinary, hands-on laboratory in the ChE department. According to Schiffman, “The mission of our laboratory is to use green engineering to design next-generation materials that improve human health and the environment. Using chemistry inspired by nature, we invent and manufacture a broad range of polymer-based materials, from fouling-resistant biomedical devices to filters that produce clean water and air.
Over her career, Schiffman has been a principal investigator on grant awards totaling well over $15 million, with $5 million in funding directly supporting her research laboratory and their engineering efforts. Her laboratory has been well-supported by the National Science Foundation, Army Research Laboratory, and corporate sponsors. She has authored or co-authored approximately 80 peer-reviewed articles on basic and applied research topics at the interface of materials engineering, polymer science, and microbiology, and she is the co-inventor of 11 patents or disclosures.
Among many other honors, Schiffman was named an Influential Researcher by Industrial & Engineering Chemistry Research, an Emerging Investigator by Biomaterials Science, and she won the prestigious American Chemical Society Applied Materials & Interfaces Young Investigator Award in 2019. She was recently appointed the inaugural deputy editor of the new peer-reviewed journal ACS Applied Engineering Materials.
In recognition of her dedication to mentoring and teaching, Schiffman was awarded the UMass campus-wide Distinguished Graduate Mentor Award and the UMass ADVANCE Faculty Mentor Award, as well as the College of Engineering’s Outstanding Teaching Award and the Barbara H. and Joseph I. Goldstein Outstanding Junior Faculty Award.
Schiffman served as the interim department head of the ChE department during the 2021-2022 academic year and, prior to that, as the associate department head from 2020-2021.
Schiffman earned her B.S. from Rutgers University, her M.Eng. from Cornell University, and her Ph.D. from Drexel University before doing a post-doc at Yale.
The source of the fellowship, the Gary R. Lapidus Faculty Fund, supports faculty excellence in chemical engineering and helps ensure that faculty can “conduct cutting-edge research, involve graduate and undergraduate students in their work, and collaborate with academic and industry peers to address the complex engineering challenges of the 21st century.”
Lapidus, after graduating from UMass Amherst and earning advanced degrees at the California Institute of Technology and Harvard Business School, became a senior equity researcher at Goldman Sachs and Sanford C. Bernstein & Co. and a principal with Booz, Allen, and Hamilton. He currently lives in London and has previously supported the College of Engineering with funding for student scholarships and conference attendance. (July 2022)