University of Massachusetts Amherst

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Jeffrey Davis, Professor of Chemical Engineering, recently received two prominent campus awards: the UMass Distinguished Teaching Award; and the Chancellor’s Leadership Fellow Award. The UMass Distinguished Teaching Award is the highest honor on campus for classroom excellence, and only four awards are made across campus each year. The Chancellor’s Leadership Fellow program is designed to prepare future campus leaders.

On May 7, College of Engineering alumnus Krikor Ermonian ’52 passed away after leading a life rich in engineering accomplishments and generous philanthropy to the causes he believed in, including his alma mater. He was a career civil engineer with the Army Corps of Engineers, retiring after nearly 30 years of designing critical flood control structures throughout New England. See obituary

Professor Qiangfei Xia of the Electrical and Computer Engineering (ECE) Department at the University of Massachusetts Amherst leads a multi-institutional group of researchers who have invented a new kind of memristor entirely based on silicon materials, which could act as a promising building block for the next generation of memory and neuromorphic computing systems. “The current work opens up opportunities for low-cost mass production of 3D memristor arrays on large silicon and flexible substrates without increasing circuit complexity,” as the research team summarizes its research.

Rune Percy and Alexander Smith, a student team from the Mechanical and Industrial Engineering Department at UMass Amherst, took second place in the recent elevator-pitch competition at the Awards Ceremony & Banquet for the Harold Grinspoon Charitable Foundation’s Entrepreneurship Initiative. Percy and Smith received a second-place prize of $750, based on their business-concept pitch for ARBioDesign, which aims to save tens of thousands of patients every year by personalizing dialysis treatment using rapid and inexpensive microfluidic blood-diagnostic tests.

Tami Paluca, the academic advisor for undergraduate studies and the director of alumni affairs in the Chemical Engineering (ChE) Department, is the 2017 winner of the Dean’s Service Award in the College of Engineering. “Tami is dedicated to undergraduate advising and oversees many vital aspects of the student experience for ChE,” said Dean Tim Anderson. “Highly regarded by students and faculty, she is known for her excellent advice, tireless work, and deep concern for the well-being of our undergraduates. Tami has proven indispensable as we navigate our way through the significant enrollment increase in the department.”

Professors John E. Tobiason and David A. Reckhow of the UMass Civil and Environmental Engineering Department were the co-principal investigators/directors of the UMass Amherst implementation for the MassDEP-funded “Massachusetts Assistance Program for Lead in School Drinking Water” (see report), which was covered extensively on May 3 through May 5 by three long feature articles in the Daily Hampshire Gazette. See Gazette, 5/3/17, Gazette, 5/4/17, and Gazette 5/5/17. Tobiason also did a presentation on the report’s findings at the Annual Water Quality Symposium of the New England Water Works Association on May 10.

Assistant Professor Juan Jiménez of the Mechanical and Industrial Engineering (MIE) Department is a co-principal investigator with Dr. Kristian Valen-Sendstad from the Simula Research Laboratory of Oslo, Norway, on a $937,848 grant from the Research Council of Norway to study a critical question: “Are Computer Simulations Misleading Us About the Pathobiology of Cerebrovascular Diseases?”

Ian Grosse, a researcher for the NSF Center for eDesign and a professor in the Mechanical and Industrial Engineering Department, is a member on one of the two research teams that recently received awards from UMass Amherst’s Armstrong Fund for Science. The team of Duncan Irschick of the Biology Department, Grosse, and Brian Umberger of the Kinesiology Department is involved in a project called “Creation of a 3D motion freezer to understand human and animal locomotion.” The Armstrong Fund will grant $30,000 to the project over the next two years to encourage transformative research on campus that introduces new ways of thinking about pressing scientific or technical challenges.

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.

On May 2 the Mechanical and Industrial Engineering (MIE) Department held its annual Senior Design Project competition, the climax and showcase event for the department’s capstone course, “MIE 415: Design of Mechanical Systems.” Eight winning projects showed off sophisticated inventions ranging from a revolutionary new electric blender to a sleek new adult tricycle frame.

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