Past News & Announcements

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Chaput Awarded EPA STAR Fellowship.
Gina Chaput

July 2016: Gina M. Chaput, a Ph.D. candidate in the Microbiology Department, has been awarded the 2015 Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) Science to Achieve Results (STAR) Fellowship.

Gina’s dissertation research falls under the EPA STAR category A3, “Emerging Environmental Approaches and Challenges- Synthetic Biology for Environmental Purposes”. Currently, the paper industry uses hazardous chemicals in pulping to remove lignin from the hemicellulose and cellulose components of wood. This contributes to greenhouse gas emissions and water pollution. A sustainable alternative is to use bacteria that degrade lignin anaerobically and convert it to secondary chemicals or biofuels. Therefore, Gina is focusing her efforts on uncovering mechanisms of anaerobic bacterial lignin degradation that can be manipulated to improve paper pulping processes and the use of lignin as a biofuel feedstock. Her hope is to pursue a research career addressing our nation’s energy security issues.

The EPA STAR is awarded to 55 graduate students nationwide per year to support their studies in environmental sciences focusing on cleaning up communities and advancing sustainable development. This includes up to $44,000 per year, with doctoral students being supported for a maximum of three years. The EPA STAR’s end goal is to aid students financially as they develop their leadership skills in STEM to enhance our nation’s “environmental science, research, education, assessment, restoration, preservation, pollution prevention and sustainability efforts”.

Lovley Invention Pushes the University to Record-High Number of Patents

July 2016: Derek Lovley and Kelly Nevin Lovley have developed and patented a new technology, microbial electrosynthesis, which uses leftover renewable solar energy and feeds it to microorganisms to produce transportion fuel and pre-plastic materials as well as other products. This invention helped the University of Massachusetts attain a record-high 62 patents awarded in 2015. Read more...

Giffen Named 21st Century Leader

May 2016: Samantha Giffen, a Public Health and Microbiology double major, has been chosen as a 21st Century Leader for her contribution to infectious desease research at the University of Massachusetts. Ms. Giffen has worked on an independent research project under the guidance of Microbiology faculty member, Yasu Morita. Ten graduating seniors will be honored as 21st Century Leaders at the University's Undergraduate Commencement on Friday, May 6. Read more...

News from the Morita Lab

May 2016: Yasu Morita, Assistant Professor of Microbiology, and Jennifer Hayashi, a Microbiology doctoral student, recently had important findings about a model species of Mycobacterium smegmatis published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. Mycobacteria can cause dangerous diseases such as leprosy and tuberculosis and these new findings will lead to a better understanding of the bacteria. Read more...

Microbiology doctoral student, Julia Puffal, received a Dissertation Research Grant from the UMass Graduate School.

Research Team Receives Award from Armstrong Fund for Science

April 2016: Yasu Morita and Michele Klingbeil, Microbiology faculty members, were part of a winning team of researchers that received an award from the Armstrong Fund for Science. Their research project pointed out that infectious diseases, caused by microorganisms resistant to available anti-microbials, pose serious threats to public health worldwide. UMass Biochemistry faculty members, Li-Jun Ma and Sergey Savinov, were also part of the team. The researchers were recognized at the UMass Amherst Honors Dinner on April 13. Read more...