Dumont Named Vice Provost for Academic Affairs

Biology professor Elizabeth (Betsy) Dumont has been named vice provost for Academic Affairs by Provost Katherine Newman, who announced the appointment in a Sept. 25 broadcast e-mail. The appointment is effective immediately.

“She will be joining my team to work on a wide range of important projects, ranging from critical aspects of faculty development, to streamlining the process of laboratory renovation/hiring/budget alignment, to leading the AQUAD review process, and representing our campus to the Five College Consortium,” said Newman.

A member of the biology faculty since 2001, Dumont leads a lab that focuses on the evolution of form and function in mammals, particularly as it is expressed in the dietary adaptations of bats. She also undertakes field studies of feeding behavior in the wild. Since 2010, Dumont has directed the graduate program in organismic and evolutionary biology.

“In keeping with my taste in scholar/administrators as key partners, she will continue to run her lab and her impressive research agenda,” added Newman. “Moreover, she will complete the work she began on the leadership side in the College of Natural Sciences, working to enhance the interdisciplinary doctoral programs. But she will quickly ramp up to the many organizational reforms we are working on in the Provost’s Office.”

The UMass News & Media article, is available here.

Richmond Honored with Meritorious Teaching Award in Herpetology

Alan Richmond, senior lecturer in the biology department, received the Meritorious Teaching Award in Herpetology from the American Society of Ichthyologists and Herpetologists during the Joint Meeting of Ichthyologists and Herpetologists held July 30 to Aug. 3 in Chattanooga, Tenn.

The national award recognizes sustained commitment to superior teaching effectiveness and mentoring of students in the area of herpetology. Richmond has taught herpetology to scores of students, several of whom have gone on to successful careers in the field. One former student said Richmond’s “talents as an inspiring teacher extend beyond the classroom, and those students that have taken the opportunity to work with him as work-study students or on independent study or honor projects have found the experience to be professionally rewarding.”

In addition to herpetology, Richmond teaches courses on the “Biology of Marine Vertebrates,” “Comparative Anatomy” and “Vertebrate Collections Management.”

Outside of the classroom Richmond is widely recognized as an expert on New England frogs, salamanders, snakes and turtles and was instrumental in creating the Massachusetts Herpetological Atlas. He is also the curator of herpetology for the campus’ Natural History Collections.

The UMass News & Media article, written by Daniel J. Fitzgibbons, is available here.

Irschick and Collegues Improve Geckskin

Geckskin, a revolutionary super-adhesive developed by a team of researchers at the University of Massachusetts Amherst, has recently undergone further improvement. This adhesive, which could originally hold up to 700 pounds on a smooth surface, has been redesigned to be able to adhere to drywall, wood, glass, and metal. The redesigned mainly focused on mimicking the "draping adhesion" found in the Gecko's skin-tendon-bone system, allowing for further versatility.

The UMass news release about this work, written by Janet Lathrop, can be accessed here.

Baskin Awarded Marie Curie Fellowship by European Union for Research in UK

Biology professor Tobias Baskin has been awarded a Marie Curie International Incoming Fellowship from the European Union to support his sabbatical leave at the Centre for Plant Integrative Biology at the University of Nottingham in the United Kingdom for the 2014-15 academic year.

The UMass news release about the award can be accessed here.

Markstein and Colleagues Use New Approach to Systematically Test Chemotherapy Drugs

Using a new approach to systematically test chemotherapy drugs in fruit flies, Biology assistant professor, Michele Markstein, with colleagues at Harvard Medical School, report that several have a troubling side effect: Inducing hyper proliferation in stem cells that could potentially contribute to tumor recurrence.

Markstein, M., Dettorre, S., Cho, J., Neumuller, R., Craig-Muller, S., & Perrimon, N. (2014). Systematic screen of chemotherapeutics in Drosophila stem cell tumors Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences DOI: 10.1073/pnas.1401160111

The UMass News & Media article is available here.

The full article appearing in Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the USA (PNAS) can be accessed here.