Chemical Engineering junior Shayna Nolan has been honored as a 2014-15 “Rising Researcher” by Research Next, the UMass Amherst website that recognizes the outstanding research, scholarship, and creativity of the students and faculty on campus. The Rising Researcher student acknowledgement program is designed to raise the profile of our most promising undergraduate students on campus and publicly acknowledge their excellent work. The Rising Researcher Award was launched 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.
Nolan '16 is applying her quantitative training toward medical and biological applications. Working under Professor Shelly Peyton, Nolan started as a lab assistant for one of Peyton’s graduate students studying how cell migration on biomaterial surfaces might relate to what happens in patients during breast cancer metastasis. Because breast cancer is prevalent in her family, Nolan quickly proved herself to be a motivated student. After six months of working in Peyton's lab, she earned the opportunity to continue her work as a National Science Foundation REU (Research Experience for Undergraduates) student, where she was able to transition her work to an independent project.
“This is remarkable for a young student working in this area, since she needs to have expertise in biomaterial design, cell culture, as well as microscopy – quite a feat for a junior undergraduate,” says Peyton.
Over the summer, Nolan generated enough interesting data to apply for a presentation to the Biomedical Engineering Society Annual Meeting in San Antonio, Texas, and was accepted. Few undergraduates are given this opportunity.
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.” (December 2014)