In the News

Celebrating Dr. Ramon Barnes’ 80th Birthday

Dr. Ramon Barnes’ 80th birthday, and scientific contributions to the atomic spectrometry community, will be celebrated with a special symposium at SCIX 2021.

“Ramon M. Barnes & his Impact on Spectrochemical Analysis”
September 27th, Monday, 8:30 to 10:10 AM
Session: 21ATOM05
Location: Meeting Room 553 (5th floor, Rhode Island Convention Center)

Sponsored by Applied Spectra, Inc. the session will feature lectures from Dr. Gary M. Hieftje (Indiana University), Dr. Gary A. Meyer (Promerus, LLC), Dr. Steven J. Ray (The State University of New York at Buffalo), Dr. R. Kenneth Marcus (Clemson University) and Dr. Detlef Guenther (ETH Zurich).

UMass Chemistry Faculty Search

Assistant Professor - Chemistry - DNA/RNA: The Department of Chemistry, along with the Center for Bioactive Delivery within the Institute for Applied Life Sciences, (IALS, https://www.umass.edu/cbd/) invites applications for a full-time, tenure track faculty position. As the development of new therapeutic molecules shifts toward biologics, we seek applicants who will develop an innovative translational research program focused on the development and/or delivery of therapeutic nucleic acids and/or other functional biologics. Associated topics of interest include, but are not limited to, developing stable versions of biologics and smart delivery of macromolecular therapeutics to target locations. Full description and details.

Building a Community of Dignity and Respect

The University of Massachusetts Amherst believes that a culturally diverse campus is integral to academic excellence and that our students, faculty, and staff should reflect the diverse world in which we live. Recognizing and valuing the wide range of voices and perspectives in all spheres of the academic enterprise, we are committed to policies that promote inclusiveness, social justice, and respect for all.

“Fostering an environment that protects intellectual exploration, advances mutual respect, and promotes inclusivity is critical to the mission of the university.” — Chancellor Kumble R. Subbaswamy

The UMass Office of Diversity Equity and Inclusion supports these efforts with resources, events, campus climate initiatives, podcasts, and more.

Antiracism Resources - Books, podcasts, movies, and programs for adults and children.
Fight Hate - Our community must stand united in the face of hate.

Building Bridges is a campus initiative that seeks to draw on the power of solidarity and creative expression to bring people together across race, religion, class, immigration status, gender, sexual orientation, age, ability, nationality and more.

You Receives Burlew Award

Assistant Professor Mingxu You was awarded the 2020-21 John S. Burlew Award from the Connecticut Valley Section of the American Chemical Society (CVS-ACS). The Burlew Award was established in 1986 to “recognize outstanding contributions to chemistry by CVS-ACS members”. Dr. You has been recognized for his significant contribution in DNA and RNA nanotechnology and has co-authored over 75 journal articles and 3 book chapters in this field.

Richard S. Stein 1925-2021

Richard (Dick) Stein, 95, passed away June 21, 2021. He joined the Department of Chemistry in 1950 and was central to the development of polymer science research and the creation of the Department of Polymer Science and Engineering. Over the course of his career Stein mentored more than 140 master’s and doctoral candidates.

Stein was a pioneer, wanting to leave the world a better place, and his post-retirement focus was global climate change. He established the Richard and Judy Stein Endowed Fund for Sustainability and Renewable Energy, the first fund on campus to support the university’s efforts on sustainability.

Stein developed the university’s first advanced physical chemistry courses in quantum mechanics, statistical mechanics, and polymer science, and initiated graduate research in the study of the structure-property relationships of polymers using light and particle scattering.

He is also credited with revolutionizing research funding management at the campus in the 1950s. Grant dollars from federal agencies went directly to the state treasury, not the Amherst campus. With Dean of Science Charles Alexander, Stein helped pass a bill that allowed research money to come directly to the campus.

Stein became Commonwealth Professor, and in 1961 he founded both the Polymer Research Institute and the Research Computing Center. In 1980, the chemistry department awarded him the Charles A. Goessmann Chair in Chemistry and provided three new professorial positions in polymer science and engineering. In the 1990s he was inducted into the National Academy of Sciences and the National Academy of Engineering.

Memorial services with be held in Amherst, MA at the UMass Campus Center (Marriot Center – 11th Floor) on July 8, 2021.

Obituary and memorial service details.

Advancements in Targeted Delivery of Therapeutic Proteins

“What our team has done,” explains Khushboo Singh, a graduate student in the chemistry department and one of the study’s lead authors, “is to combine the advantages of biologics and ADCs and address their weaknesses. It is a new platform for cancer therapy.”

A team of researchers at the Center for Bioactive Delivery at the University of Massachusetts Amherst’s Institute for Applied Life Sciences has engineered a nanoparticle that has the potential to revolutionize disease treatment, including for cancer. This new research, which appears today in “Angewandte Chemie,”combines two different approaches to more precisely and effectively deliver treatment to the specific cells affected by cancer.

Two of the most promising new treatments involve delivery of cancer-fighting drugs via biologics or antibody-drug conjugates (ADCs). Each has its own advantages and limitations. Biologics, such as protein-based drugs, can directly substitute for a malfunctioning protein in cells. As a result, they have less serious side effects than those associated with traditional chemotherapy. But, because of their large size, they are unable to get into specific cells. ADCs, on the other hand, are able to target specific malignant cells with microdoses of therapeutic drugs, but the antibodies can only carry a limited drug cargo. Since the drugs are more toxic than biologics, increasing the dose of ADCs increases the risk of harmful side effects.

The team’s approach depends on a nanoparticle the team engineered called a “protein-antibody conjugate,” or PAC. “Imagine that the antibodies in PACs are the address on an envelope,” adds Sankaran “Thai” Thayumanavan, distinguished professor in chemistry and interim head of biomedical engineering at UMass, “and that the cancer-fighting protein is the contents of that envelope. The PAC allows us to deliver the envelope with its protected treatment to the correct address. So, safer drugs are delivered to the right cell—the result would be a treatment with fewer side effects.”

You Receives Dreyfus Foundation Teacher-Scholar Award

Mingxu You, assistant professor of chemistry at UMass Amherst, has been awarded one of 16 $100,000 Teacher-Scholar unrestricted awards from the Camille and Henry Dreyfus Foundation. But when the award e-mail came later that day, he knew it was true. “It was quite an unexpected, and very welcome, surprise” You says. “We are thrilled,” says Rick Metz, head of the chemistry department, “that Mingxu’s dynamic research and teaching have received this recognition.”

The Dreyfus Foundation’s Teacher-Scholar award goes to a handful of early-career chemists who “have each created an outstanding independent body of scholarship, and are deeply committed to education.” You is clearly both. Though he’s early in his career, he’s already authored or co-authored nearly 80 academic articles, and his lab is a hive of activity: it currently hosts ten graduate and five undergraduate students. In the past four years alone, he’s guided 15 undergrads, two postdocs, and five research fellows through advanced chemistry research, and in doing so is helping to introduce the next generation to the joys of chemistry. “The undergrads are getting real training,” say You. “They quickly learn what we’re doing in our lab, and they make real contributions to our experiments.”

For You, there’s a seamless connection between the classroom and the lab. “When I teach undergraduates, I need to revisit the basics of chemistry, and I’m always discovering insights that I had passed over when I was a student.” When one of You’s students joins his lab, they not only bring their classroom education with them, but return to class bearing some of what they discovered in the lab.

“I’d like to thank the hard work of everyone in the You Lab,” says You, for whom UMass has been an ideal research and teaching home. “The environment in the chemistry department is really supportive of early career scholars.”

Robert Sabola Wins Outstanding Staff Award

Each year, the College of Natural Sciences honors its faculty, staff, and student leaders who have made important contributions to their discipline, department, college, and university by presenting them with the Outstanding Achievement Awards. Recipients are nominated by colleagues within the college and chosen by committees chaired by designees appointed by Dean Tricia Serio, who may include past awardees. Of this year’s recipients, Dean Serio remarked, “These leaders continue to enrich our college community with their exceptional work. I am tremendously grateful for their efforts to demonstrate academic excellence, enhance the student experience, and create a more inclusive and accessible learning environment.”

Robert “Bob” Sabola, Instrumentation Engineer, Chemistry was a recipient of the award and commented, "Truly a surprise, maybe even a little shocking, when I learned that I was chosen as a recipient of the CNS Outstanding Achievement Award. It is an honor for me to receive this award. Thank you to all the faculty, staff, and students who contributed to this nomination. I always had the thought that my job is to make the lives of those who are on campus a little bit easier. It’s easy to do when you enjoy what you do for work. As always, it has been a pleasure and joy to have worked for you and with you throughout the years. What more can I say other than thank you."

The 2021 and 2020 CNS Outstanding Achievements Awards Ceremony were combined this year and held virtually. Here is a recording of the event.

ACS Bridge Program Makes Positive Impact

UMass Amherst Chemistry participates in the ACS Bridge Program which aims to diversify the graduate student population in the chemical sciences. The mentorship program, part of the NSF INCLUDES Alliance: Inclusive Graduate Education Network (IGEN), provides additional pathways for Black, Latino, and Indigenous students to receive doctoral degrees.

Prospective students are considered by all of the 22 participating institutions by submitting one application.

Prof. Michael Knapp, ACS Bridge Program leader for UMass Amherst Chemistry, commented on the success of the program, “I think we’ve all worked with people where they really don’t need or don’t want a lot of hand-holding. But making sure that the trampoline is there when you’re on the high wire is really important so that if you fall off, you can bounce back.”

Take Charge of Your Virtual Learning

You might not be on-campus or in a classroom, but you are not alone! We are here to help you be successful in your remote learning courses.

Preparing your Mind & Space to Learn. We’ve all heard the quote by Benjamin Franklin “By failing to prepare, you are preparing to fail.” Explore strategies and tools to assist you in preparing for success. Topics include: Mindset Matters, Developing a Growth Mindset A Set-up for Success, and My Learning Environment My Remote Learning Checklist.
Quick links to tools to help you get started: Mindset Matters, Reframing my Challenges, My Learning Environment, and My Remote Learning Checklist

Make your Learning Meaningful. Strive for higher levels of learning and create your learning routines. Strategies and tools to assist you in meaningful learning. Topics include: Higher Levels of Learning, A Learning Routine for Success, and My Study Cycle. Quick links to tools to help you get started: Levels of Learning and The Study Cycle.

Master the Content. As you strive for higher levels of learning, it is important to have a toolbox of strategies to reply on. Your approach to learning will vary by course and change as you progress in your major. Expand your learning toolbox with the following resources on academic success strategies: Concept Maps, Active Reading Strategies, Note Taking Strategies, Study & Review Strategies, and Explore how your academic habits may impact test taking. You are not alone. Connect with resources to support your content mastery. Success Toolkit Series, Learning Resource Center, Writing Center, and talk to your Academic Advisor about college/major specific academic support services.

Make the Most of your Time. Effectively utilizing your time is a life long skill. Learning to prioritize assignments, studying and other commitments is a personal journey. Explore these tips to discuss tools and strategies that may help you make the most of your time. Topics include: Finding a Routine & Tools, Time Management, and Tools Managing Procrastination. Quick link to tools to help you get started: Student Success Planner, Managing your Procrastination, and Where does my time go?

 

Spring 2021 Operating Plan

The operational posture of the UMass Amherst campus is currently at "Guarded." For more information, go to www.umass.edu/spring.

The campus’s strategic focus is on advancing students’ academic progress toward degree completion while providing a campus environment that meets federal and state health and safety protocols for mitigating COVID-19. Guided by these principles, the university has determined that in-person, face-to-face instruction for undergraduate and graduate students will be offered on campus this spring in certain classes, labs and studios identified as requiring in-person instruction.

Timely information regarding various aspects of our spring plan can be found at umass.edu/spring, and the administration will also keep you updated via email and other communication channels.

In the weeks and months ahead, the campus will continue to monitor the progress of the pandemic, and should worsening conditions warrant re-evaluation of our plan, we will act accordingly to ensure that the health and wellbeing of our community remains paramount

Graduate Program Webinar

If you missed our webinar, or wish to review content from the event, please watch the video segments for additional program information.

Introduction to our Department by Associate Head, Prof. Jeanne Hardy
Introduction to our Graduate Program by Program Director, Prof. D. Venkataraman
Current Graduate Student, Catherine Tremblay
Current Graduate Student, Michael Lu Diaz
Overview of the Application Process by Admission Committee Chair, Prof. Vincent Rotello

Questions about applying or about the graduate program should be directed to Rebecca David rldavid@umass.edu

  • Application Deadline:  December 15  (Fall admission only)
  • Information about applying for Fall 2021. (Info for Chemistry Applicants)
  • The requirement for the GRE general exam is waived for 2021 admission.  The Department also requires a separate Research Interests Form to be filed with the graduate application.
  • Application Fee Waiver: to apply, email one paragraph stating your financial need, URM status, or academic achievement to Rebecca David rldavid@umass.edu

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