Jennifer Olins '17 Junior biology major Jennifer Olins has been a research assistant in Associate Professor Samuel Hazen’s regulatory genomics lab since she enrolled at the University in September 2013. She is one of a few talented students admitted into the campus’s competitive First-Year Research Experience program and the Biology Talent Advanced Program (BioTAP). Since joining the Hazen group, Olins has been awarded two competitive Commonwealth College Research Assistant Fellowships and received honorable mention for her application to the American Society of Plant Biology Summer Undergraduate Research Fellowship Program.

During her time in lab, Olins has become an independent scientist executing her own experiments. Highly skilled at the bench, she has mastered a number of scientific techniques including polymerase chain reaction (PCR), gel electrophoresis, and yeast and bacteria genetic transformation. When Olins expressed a strong desire to learn microscopy, Hazen had her do so by having her conduct an experiment he needed for an article to be published in a peer-reviewed journal. “The outcome was excellent,” says Hazen, “and because of her contribution Jenny is now recognized as a co-author on the article.”

Hazen was also impressed with Olins when the student that was performing many of the laboratory managerial duties recently departed for graduate school and Olins stepped in to fill the void. “Jenny is a clear leader within my group and a dedicated and thoughtful scientist,” says Hazen. “Her academic performance is also extraordinary.”

Olins, will be honored for her achievements at a spring luncheon with the Chancellor.

Thank you!

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Society of Vertebrate Paleontology Honors Margery Coombs

At the Society of Vertebrate Paleontology’s (SVP) 75th annual meeting in October in Dallas, professor emeritus Margery Coombs, biology, was awarded honorary membership, one of the three major academic career awards given by the society, to recognize her long career of “distinguished contribution to vertebrate paleontology.” The society is the premier international body for the interdisciplinary field of vertebrate paleontology.

Coombs is internationally known for her research on fossil perissodactyls, that is, odd-toed ungulates such as rhinos, tapirs and horses, and in particular on chalicotheres, a group with claws rather than hooves that roamed the Earth from about 55 million years ago until they became extinct about 1 million years ago.

Read more UMass News & Media Relations article.

The Biology Department Welcomes New Faculty - Elena Vazey

Elena’s research investigates neuromodulatory networks in the brain. She is interested in how activity in locus coeruleus norepinephrine neurons modify neural targets to change behavioral responses to environmental stimuli. Her lab primarily studies the impact of locus coeruleus activity on cognitive control and motor responses. This research increases our understanding of different disorders where locus coeruleus functioning is altered, such as ADHD and anxiety, and cases where locus coeruleus neurons are lost such as in Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s disease.

Elena's lab is currently located in Morrill 3 South, room 413A, while her new lab is being renovated.

Assistant Professor Quantitative Developmental and Cellular Biology

Assistant Professor
Quantitative Developmental and Cellular Biology

The Department of Biology at the University of Massachusetts Amherst invites applications for a tenure- track faculty position at the rank of Assistant Professor. We are seeking highly motivated individuals with demonstrated potential for integrating the study of cell biology and developmental biology using quantitative methods to explore dynamic cellular processes. Individuals investigating the cellular mechanisms underlying developmental processes such as differentiation, proliferation, migration, and/or morphogenesis are encouraged to apply. We are particularly interested in individuals utilizing quantitative imaging, such as super-resolution, confocal, and multi-photon microscopy available in the new microscopy facility in the Institute of Applied Life Sciences. The successful candidate will build an independent research program in our vibrant and interactive research community, and participate in graduate and undergraduate teaching.

The UMass Biology Department ( provides an interactive and broad research environment, with faculty research spanning levels of biological organization. A Ph.D. in Biology or a related field is required. Successful candidates will also have relevant postdoctoral experience, and the potential to develop and maintain an extramurally funded research program. New faculty members will have the opportunity to participate in strong graduate training programs in Molecular and Cellular Biology (, Organismic and Evolutionary Biology (, Plant Biology (, and Neuroscience and Behavior ( and capitalize on the newly created Institute of Applied Life Sciences (IALS) with state-of-the-art core facilities. The University is part of the 5 College Consortium ( in the beautiful Pioneer Valley in Western Massachusetts, just 2 hours from Boston and 3 hours from New York City.

Please apply online by submitting a cover letter, CV, research plan, teaching statement, and the contact information for three references to:

Review of applications will begin on October 9, 2015 and will continue until the position is filled.

The University is committed to active recruitment of a diverse faculty and student body. The University of Massachusetts Amherst is an Affirmative Action/Equal Opportunity Employer of women, minorities, protected veterans, and individuals with disabilities and encourages applications from these and other protected group members. Because broad diversity is essential to an inclusive climate and critical to the University’s goals of achieving excellence in all areas, we will holistically assess the many qualifications of each applicant and favorably consider an individual’s record working with students and colleagues with broadly diverse perspectives, experiences, and backgrounds in educational, research or other work activities. We will also favorably consider experience overcoming or helping others overcome barriers to an academic degree and career.

While we are seeking talented applicants qualified for an assistant professor position, under exceptional circumstances, highly qualified candidates at other ranks may receive consideration.