Past News & Announcements
Ashley Eng to be Honored as 21st Century Leader
Ashley Eng, a Commonwealth Honors College (CHC) student and microbiology major, will be one of 10 students to receive the 21st Century Leaders Award at UMass Commencement 2023. The award is given in recognition of a strong academic record, exemplary achievements as well as distinguished intellectual accomplishments. Eng is an undergraduate researcher with Kristen DeAngelis, Professor of Microbiology. Eng's research in microbial ecology and how climate change impacts soil microbes has led her to present her work at national conferences and in 2022 was selected for a Goldwater Scholarship.
Researchers One Step Closer to Better Drug Therapies for Tuberculosis
Yasu Morita, associate professor of microbiology, and his team of researchers have identified a long-sought gene that plays a critical role in the growth and survival of the tuberculosis (TB) pathogen. The discovery offers a potential target for drug therapies for a deadly disease that has few effective treatments. Yasu Morita, senior author, along with Malavika Prithviraj and Takehiro Kado, lead authors, recently had their findings published in mBio.
Latde Diagnostics Receives Top Prize at Lever Western Massachusetts Health Tech Challenge
Start up company, Latde Diagnostics, won $50,000 in innovation grant funding at the Lever Western Massachusetts Health Tech Challenge hosted by the Institute for Applied Life Sciences (IALS) on March 3. Sloan Siegrist, Associate Professor Microbiology, founded Latde Diagnostics along with Emily Melzer. Melzer received her Ph.D. from UMass Microbiology under the guidance of Sloan Siegrist. Latde Diagnostics is developing a rapid, low-cost test to determine which specific antibiotic will be effective in a patient with sepsis, a life-threatening blood-borne infection.
Yasu Morita Receives NIH Grant to Find Treatments for Tuberculosis
Yasu Morita, Associate Professor of Microbiology, was awarded a two-year grant from the National Institutes of Health (NIH) to support research aimed at developing new and more effective treatments for tuberculosis (TB). Morita studies mycobacteria, a group of bacteria that is omnipresent in the soil and environment. Several species of mycobacteria cause disease, the most well-known of which is TB. After years of study spearheaded by Ph.D. candidate Ian Sparks, Morita and his team have focused in on the glycolipids located on the cell surface, which help to maintain the stability of the cell membrane.
Wilmore Webley Named Senior Vice Provost for Equity and Inclusion
Wilmore Webley, Associate Professor Microbiology, will serve as the inaugural Senior Vice Provost for Equity and Inclusion effective January 1, 2023. UMass Amherst Provost and Senior Vice Chancellor for Academic Affairs Tricia Serio announced the appointment of two new senior leaders for diversity, equity and inclusion for Academic Affairs. The other appointment is Sofiya Alhassan who will serve as the Graduate School’s new associate dean for inclusion and engagement.
Peter Nguyen Yasu Morita ASBMB Today
Peter Nguyen, an undergraduate researcher in Yasu Morita's lab, was first author on a paper which reported the lab's study exploring the conditions for and effects of acylation. Lab members noticed that membrane fluidization led two membrane glycolipids (lipids with a carbohydrate attached via glycosidic bond) called phosphatidylinositol mannosides, or PIMs, to undergo acylation. The findings were recently published in the Journal of Lipid Research and were highlighted in the December issue of the ASBMB Today magazine.
Kristen DeAngelis Awarded Grant to Study Necromass
Kristen DeAngelis, Professor of Microbiology, received a $2,358,722 grant from the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) to lead an interdisciplinary group of researchers to investigate a poorly understood, yet crucial, ingredient of the Earth’s soil: necromass.
Sloan Siegrist Research Team Recipient of Manning/IALS Innovation Award
Sloan Siegrist and her research team were one of six UMass recipients of the fourth annual Manning/IALS Innovation Award. The grants assist faculty research groups to advance the development of startup companies. Sloan Siegrist and her team have established the company, Latde, to develop rapid, low-cost diagnostic for bloodborne bacterial infections.
Researchers Engineer Biofilm Capable of Producing Electricity From Sweat
Derek Lovley is among a group of researchers at the University of Massachusetts Amherst who recently announced that they have figured out how to engineer a biofilm that harvests the energy in evaporation and converts it to electricity. This biofilm, which was announced in Nature Communications, has the potential to revolutionize the world of wearable electronics, powering everything from personal medical sensors to personal electronics.
Effective September 1, 2022, two Microbiology faculty members advanced in their faculty rank. Kristen DeAngelis was promoted from Associate Professor to Professor. Dr. DeAngelis' research focuses on climate change and better defining the role of microbes in soil formation and health and how climate change will affect these processes and dynamics.
Mitchell Walkowicz was promoted from Lecturer to Senior Lecturer. Dr. Walkowicz teaches numerous Microbiology courses including the Biology of Cancer & AIDS, General Microbiology, and Advanced Topics in Biotechnology and Biochemistry and Integrative Experience modules.
Researchers Find Key to Million-Dollar Problem for Vineyards
Grapevine Trunk Diseases, or GTDs, devastate grapevines each year and are responsible for significant annual economic damages for vineyards. Barry Goodell, Professor of Microbiology, and an international team of researchers have discovered a previously unknown mechanism that is deployed by a group of pathogenic fungi working in concert and which are responsible for the death of the grapevines. The researchers found that there is a potential fix, so common consumers probably eat it every morning with cereal: antioxidants and low-toxicity chelators. Often added to food products to preserve freshness, they also interrupt the production of reduced iron and hydrogen peroxide.
Kristen DeAngelis Chosen as American Society for Microbiology Distinguished Lecturer
The American Society for Microbiology Distinguished Lecturer Program selects a scientifically diverse group of lecturers to speak at local ASM Branch meetings throughout the U.S. Lecturers are chosen annually through a competitive nomination process and only the most distinguished lecturers and researchers are chosen to participate in the program.
Department of Microbiology