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Klier and Peyton Awarded Seed Grant from UMass President’s Tech Development Fund

John Klier

John Klier

Shelly Peyton

Shelly Peyton

Professor John Klier, the head of the Chemical Engineering (ChE) Department, and ChE Associate Professor Shelly Peyton were awarded a $25,000 grant from the University of Massachusetts system’s Tech Development Fund, which helps bring cutting-edge UMass research to market. Klier and Peyton were funded for their project to study “Novel associative hydrogels,” aimed at developing new microgel additives for dramatically enhancing coating performance and appearance and enabling new types of water-based coating systems.

Other members of the team are ChE doctoral student Yen Tran and undergraduate Matt Rasmuson.

Eight projects across the UMass system were awarded the grants, which were announced April 18 by President Marty Meehan. “With these awards, we are recognizing innovation across our five campuses and investing in discoveries with the potential to spark the economy and change lives,” Meehan said. “These awards highlight faculty excellence and underscore the role of a public research university to advance knowledge and spur entrepreneurship and economic development.”

The Tech Development Fund is overseen by the Office of Technology Commercialization and Venture (OTCV), based at the President’s Office in Boston. This year’s recipients, selected from a field of 45 applicants, were chosen for their projects’ commercial viability, with the hope that development of the technologies will lead to startup companies or licensing, according to Abigail Barrow, interim executive director of OTCV.

Klier was recently selected as a Fellow of the National Academy of Inventors. Among other recent honors accumulated by Klier, he was chosen as a member of the esteemed National Academy of Engineering, and he received an Industrial Research and Development Award from the American Institute of Chemical Engineers, an award which “recognizes individuals or teams working in the industries served by chemical engineers for innovation that has resulted in the successful commercial development of new products and/or new processes for making useful products.” Last September 30 (2016), Klier also received one of the Awards for Outstanding Accomplishments in Research and Creative Activity being presented to eight nationally acclaimed faculty members of UMass Amherst from across the campus.

In September of 2014, Peyton also received one of the UMass Awards for Outstanding Accomplishments in Research and Creative Activity. Among her many accomplishments, Peyton has served as the Barry and Afsaneh Siadat Career Development Faculty Fellow in the College of Engineering, in addition to receiving a Cellular and Molecular Bioengineering Young Innovator Award and a National Science Foundation CAREER Award. Additional funding includes her $2.4-million grant from the National Institutes of Health (NIH) to attack the deadly problem of breast-cancer metastasis in an entirely new way. Peyton’s new approaches to breast cancer and cardiovascular disease have also been supported by a $590,000 grant co-funded by the NSF and the National Cancer Institute, a $198,000 grant from the American Heart Association, and $240,000 from the Pew Charitable Trusts, when it named her one of the nation’s 22 Pew Scholars in the Biomedical Sciences. (May 2017)