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Assistant Professor Shannon Roberts arrived in the UMass Amherst Mechanical and Industrial Engineering Department on September 1, 2016, bringing a wealth of experience, research, and expertise, all generated during a relatively short career as an industrial engineering specialist. The Roberts Research Group is focused on studying human factors in transportation safety by: designing and implementing driving feedback systems; analyzing human factors issues of vehicle cybersecurity; studying impaired driving (e.g., drugged driving and distracted driving); using advanced computational models for data analysis; and promoting behavior change using social influence.

Emeritus Professor James Douglas, 83, of our Chemical Engineering (ChE) Department passed away at his home on February 15, 2017. Douglas was a full professor at UMass Amherst for nearly 30 years, was elected to the National Academy of Engineering, and was a recipient of the UMass Amherst Chancellor’s Medal. So great was his influence that a former student established the Professor James Douglas Early Career Faculty Development Award in the College of Engineering in his honor. Read entire obituary.

Professor Michael Henson of the Chemical Engineering Department at the University of Massachusetts Amherst is one of the researchers for a three-year, $650,000 grant to support his research into the roles that various bacteria play in microbial communities. The research project is entitled “Development of Robust Microbial Communities through Engineered Biofilms.” The grant from the U.S. Army Research Office, or ARO, will support research into defining the functions of bacteria in various biofilm (or any group of microorganisms in which cells stick to each other) communities, thereby creating such beneficial applications as modeling new strategies for liquid biofuel production.

Professor Wei Fan and his graduate student Hong Je Cho, both of the UMass Amherst Chemical Engineering Department, are part of a multi-institutional research team that has invented a new technology to produce automobile tires from trees and grasses. The new process could potentially shift the tire industry toward using renewable resources found right in people’s backyards. The research has attracted plenty of media coverage in scientific media, including Phys.org, R&D magazine, Biomass magazine, Science Daily, Minnesota Ag Connection, Ohio Ag Connection, Lab Manager, Rubber World, and SpecialChem4bio.com. The research is led by former UMass Chemical Engineering Professor Paul Dauenhauer, now at the University of Minnesota.

The Senior Design Capstone course in the Mechanical and Industrial Engineering (MIE) Department – called MIE 415 or “The Design of Mechanical Systems” – has made a quantum leap in the number of sponsored projects its students are working on this semester. This required course for every MIE senior, which is designed as the zenith of the entire undergraduate engineering education for every student in the department, currently features 13 industry-sponsored projects introduced by 10 sponsoring companies in need of creative, practical, and economical mechanical designs from our budding engineers.

Professor John Klier, head of the UMass Amherst Chemical Engineering Department, has added yet another distinguished accomplishment to his record by being selected as a Fellow of the National Academy of Inventors (NAI). The NAI Fellows Selection Committee chose Klier for induction because he has “demonstrated a highly prolific spirit of innovation in creating or facilitating outstanding inventions that have made a tangible impact on quality of life, economic development, and the welfare of society.”

On January 20 through 22, a multi-institutional team, including graduate student Vanessa Martinez of our UMass Mechanical and Industrial Engineering (MIE) Department, presented a very creative, beneficial, and practical proposal for a new humanitarian company called Rx4All, a medication-recycling program which was chosen for one of four prizes from 33 competing projects in the Yale Healthcare Hackathon, held at the Yale Medical School in New Haven, Connecticut. The theme of the hackathon was “Re-engineering Patient Experience and Provider Engagement.”

Assistant Professor Sarah Perry of the Chemical Engineering (ChE) Department and ChE Department Head John Klier are the co-principal-investigators on a research project in collaboration with Camco Manufacturing of Leominster to identify environmentally benign windshield-washer fluids as viable alternatives to those containing volatile organic compounds (VOCs). VOCs are a significant source of environmental pollution and contribute to ground-level ozone and smog.

Shelly Peyton, chemical engineering, and Jae-Hwang Lee, mechanical engineering, are part of a team working to understand cavitation damage in soft tissues and gels with $2.6 million grant from the Office of Naval Research. Read more from the UMass News Office.

Professor Frank Sup of the Mechanical and Industrial Engineering (MIE) Department is collaborating with Professor Jane Kent of the Kinesiology Department on a groundbreaking non-magnetic ergometer, which can be used in conjunction with a magnetic resonance (MR) machine to conduct pioneering MR imaging and spectroscopy studies of human muscle function.

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