The University of Massachusetts Amherst
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Dr. Song Gao of the Civil and Environmental Engineering (CEE) Department attended the Annual Meeting of the Transportation Research Board (TRB) from January 23 to 27 and made a major contribution by presenting five different papers with various researchers, including CEE Professor John Collura and Professor Don Fisher, head of the Mechanical and Industrial Engineering Department. The TRB’s 90th Annual Meeting was held in Washington, D.C., at the Marriott Wardman Park, Omni Shoreham, and Washington Hilton hotels.

Seven years ago, Ciriaco "Cid" da Silva, a 1982 mechanical engineering alumnus, and his wife, Corinne da Silva, left the virtual world of the computer industry for the very real and earthy world of avocado farming. The outgrowth of this major career move is Bella Vado (Avocado Oil), the first U.S. manufacturer of avocado oil. Now Bella Vado is a very real Southern California treasure. In 2003, Cid resigned from his job as a software architect, while Corinne gave up her job as managing director of an Internet marketing firm, so they could purchase a 40-acre avocado grove near Valley Center in Southern California.

Research by George Huber and his research team from the Chemical Engineering Department, which has developed an economical process for producing chemical feedstocks from waste biomass, is attracting international attention from the chemical industry after the team’s article appeared in the November 26 issue of Science. His most high-profile coverage was in the January 6 issues of the Wall Street Journal and Bloomberg Businessweek.

When a pike is attacked, the fish escapes by performing a lightning-fast jackknife, which generates a remarkable 25 Gs of acceleration for a tenth of a second – more than three times the acceleration of an Apollo launch. In order to study this amazing reflex action, Dr. Yahya Modarres-Sadeghi of the University of Massachusetts Amherst Mechanical and Industrial Engineering Department has spent the past two years working on two generations of robotic fish, which mimic the escape mechanism of a pike.

VISTAGY, Inc., a leading global provider of industry-specific engineering software and services, has partnered with the UMass College of Engineering through the donation of 10 software licenses for the company’s FiberSIM® software. The licenses represent very sophisticated and specific software for computer aided design used to model carbon-fiber analysis. VISTAGY also donated one license of its FiberSIM® software to the college last year.

In 1987, after Randy Pritzker had earned his B.S. degree from the Electrical and Computer Engineering Department, he took a radical sidestep in his career by deciding to go to the Boston College Law School. That juke in his education proved to be a game breaker and led to his remarkable 21-year career as one of Massachusetts’ “Super Lawyers” at the Wolf Greenfield law firm, one of the world’s leading legal specialists in intellectual property, or IP.

Among the media that covered the ribbon-cutting ceremony for the newly named Arbella Insurance Group Human Performance Laboratory on December 10 were the Springfield Republican, TV stations WSHM-TV 3 and WWLP-TV 22, and radio stations WFCR and WAMC. The laboratory’s new name celebrates a recent $150,000 gift from the Arbella Insurance Foundation, the philanthropic branch of the Arbella Insurance Group (CEO John Donohue pictured).

Anyone on dialysis knows the ravages of uncontrolled anemia: severe fatigue, hospitalization, and, in extreme cases, death. Now a team from the University of Massachusetts Amherst is collaborating with a leading kidney specialist at Baystate Medical Center in Springfield, Mass., to design more effective protocols for dosing a key drug used for controlling anemia in dialysis patients. In dialysis patients the amount of the hormone erythropoietin, or EPO, produced by kidneys to manage the production of red blood cells and control anemia is significantly lower than in healthy persons, resulting in the diminished red blood cell production that characterizes anemia.

Chemical engineering major Annuli Okoye has been awarded a very selective scholarship from the American Chemical Society’s Scholars Program for African American, Hispanic, and American Indian Chemical Science Students. Each year the ACS awards renewable scholarships to underrepresented minority students who want to enter the fields of chemistry or chemistry-related fields, such as environmental science, toxicology, and chemical technology. Awards of up to $5,000 are given to qualified students.

On Friday, December 10, the College of Engineering hosted a ribbon-cutting ceremony for the newly named Arbella Insurance Group Charitable Foundation Human Performance Laboratory, a driving research facility. The human performance laboratory’s new name celebrates a recent $150,000 gift from the Arbella Insurance Group Charitable Foundation, the philanthropic branch of the Arbella Insurance Group.

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