University of Massachusetts Amherst

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Pancreatic cancer remains one of the most deadly cancers in the world, with a five-year survival rate of only 8 percent. This high mortality rate is mainly due to a lack of early symptoms in patients and the absence of specific biomarkers and diagnostic platforms for early detection. Now Professors Yubing Sun and Byung Kim of the Mechanical and Industrial Engineering Department have conducted a groundbreaking new study that demonstrates a novel system for multiplex detection of pancreatic biomarkers as an early warning diagnostic system for the initial stages of pancreatic cancer.

Daniel Holcomb of the Electrical and Computer Engineering Department says, there is a burgeoning danger in how companies currently manage their semiconductor supply chains. “Supply-chain threats such as counterfeits and hardware Trojans can compromise reliability of integrated circuits and lead to unexpected or malicious functionalities embedded within them,” says Holcomb.  This growing national security threat explains why he was recently awarded a five-year, $596,160 CAREER Award from the National Science Foundation (NSF) to study supply-chain security for integrated circuits.

ECE Graduate student Natesh Ganesh will be one of 10 finalists presenting in the third annual Three Minute Thesis Competition on March 2, from 1:00 to 3:00 p.m., in the Campus Center Auditorium. The event is free and open to the public, and refreshments will be served.

According to industry estimates, there could be as many as three-million drones in the skies globally. As the number of drones mushrooms, so will the chances that they will pose a danger to public safety; in Massachusetts alone, at least 80 near-collisions between drones and aircraft have been reported to date. Now, according to the UMass News Office, researchers in the UMass Electrical and Computer Engineering Department are continuing to develop a multi-purpose radar system that can detect very small drone aircraft and also serve as a severe-weather warning system for airports and urban settings. Read News Office release or article on

Professor Jae-Hwang Lee and his graduate students in our Mechanical and Industrial Engineering (MIE) Department have collaborated with other researchers at Washington University in St. Louis to further develop pioneering work on promising new nanocomposites that can be tailored as revolutionary ballistic armor significantly stronger and lighter than current armor materials. Lee and his collaborators authored a January 9 paper on their work in the high-profile materials science journal Nano Letters.

It is with heavy hearts that we post this in memoriam tribute to Cheryl Snead, the first African-American alumna of the UMass Amherst Mechanical and Industrial Engineering Department. During her storied career, Ms. Snead was the founder, CEO, and president of Banneker Industries Inc. and an inspirational leader in business, women’s issues, and civil rights. Banneker is a world-class provider of supply chain management solutions, including logistics, headquartered in North Smithfield, Rhode Island, with operations across the United States.

As a 2013 article on in The Economist said about neuromorphic computing (meaning microprocessors configured more like human brains than like traditional chips): “Computers will help people to understand brains better. And understanding brains will help people to build better computers.” In that general context, Professors Joshua Yang and Qiangfei Xia of our Electrical and Computer Engineering (ECE) Department led a 24-person international team of researchers that has just published the second of two defining papers on neuromorphic computing, which mimics neuro-biological architectures present in the nervous system in order to build better computing systems.

By some estimates, more than 1,000 American citizens have lost their lives in Puerto Rico as one chilling aftermath of Hurricane Maria on September 17, 2017, and the whole island is still imperiled by the immediate risk of waterborne illness due to lack of purified water. In answer to this national emergency, a group of dedicated, highly-principled, and brilliant students from the University of Massachusetts Amherst raised enough money to visit Puerto Rico from January 2 to 14 and carry out an intensive campaign of water purification, water contamination education, the distribution of food and medical supplies, and other forms of physical and emotional support for the ravaged island.

Memristors are basically a fourth class of passive electrical circuit, joining the resistor, the capacitor, and the inductor, which exhibit their unique properties primarily at the nanoscale and represent one of the most promising circuit elements for information storage and processing in future computing technologies. But one major problem with current memristors is their inability to perform effectively at extremely high temperatures, such as those in aircraft engine control systems or in wearable electronics for firefighters.

The Arctic region is among the places on earth most profoundly impacted by recent climate changes. For example, according to the New York Times, each year Greenland loses 270 billion tons of ice as the planet warms, a rate that would contribute about two inches to sea level rise by the end of the century. Now Assistant Professor Colin Gleason of the Civil and Environmental Engineering Department at the University of Massachusetts Amherst has been awarded a five-year grant of $529,000 from the prestigious National Science Foundation Faculty Early Career Development (CAREER) Program to make a groundbreaking study of the Arctic hydrologic cycle by using a combination of field work, remote sensing, and computer modelling.