Shannon Silva Receives National Award for STEM Studies

Shannon Silva, a biology major and Commonwealth Honors College junior, has been named a recipient of the prestigious Goldwater Scholarship, awarded by the Barry M. Goldwater Scholarship and Excellence in Education Foundation.

The aim of the foundation is to provide a continuing source of highly qualified scholars to work as scientists, mathematicians and engineers. The Goldwater, a nationally competitive scholarship, supports students with a passion for research and potential to contribute to their disciplines, and who plan to pursue a graduate degree. Each scholarship covers eligible expenses for undergraduate tuition, fees, books, room and board, up to a maximum of $7,500 annually.

Research has been an important part of Silva’s undergraduate career. The Peabody, Mass., resident joined the Vandenberg Lab in the UMass Amherst Department of environmental health sciences in her sophomore year. She has been evaluating the effect of endocrine-disrupting chemicals on the histopathology of mammary tumors and four additional tissue sites that may be targets of metastasis. Silva has previously interned at Cell Signaling Technology and was an Amgen Research Scholar at Duke University in the summer of 2019. This year, she is scheduled to participate in the Summer Undergraduate Research Program at Gerstner Sloan Kettering. After her anticipated graduation from UMass Amherst in 2021, she hopes to apply her lab research experiences, and her experience as a Goldwater Scholar, to pursue a Ph.D. in molecular cancer biology.

Silva’s nomination for the Goldwater was made possible by UMass Amherst’s Office of National Scholarship Advisement (ONSA). Advising and careful nurturing of Silva’s application was given by ONSA Director Madalina Akli. Each year, ONSA nominates four sophomores and juniors. ONSA is an advising service available to all UMass Amherst undergraduate and graduate students, as well as the university’s robust alumni community.

We are fortunate to have a student who has successfully competed for both these prestigious national fellowships!

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Seanne Clemente receives 3-year National Science Foundation GRFP and Ford Foundation Fellowships

Biology lab PhD student Seanne Clemente receives 3-year National Science Foundation GRFP and Ford Foundation Fellowships

We are fortunate to have a student who has successfully competed for both these prestigious national fellowships!

Go to this link to read more about the Ford Foundation Predoctoral Fellowship.


Bac-Be-Gone Wins a 2020 Ginspoon Entrepreneurial Concept Award

Three of Peg Riley's student's won big!

Congratulations to:

Hailey Charest (2021, Biochemistry & Molecular Biology and Microbiology Double Major)

Hadley Beauregard (2022, Biochemistry & Molecular Biology and German & Scandinavian Studies double major)

Bryanna Frietas (2020, Chemistry & Psychology double major)

Bac-Be-Gone won a 2020 Ginspoon Entrepreneurial Concept Award in which each member of the team won $150. The team was nominated by a faculty member and were then asked to fill out an application about their venture. Since it is an individual award, each member of the team was awarded!

The team was created by these three undergraduates and targets development of products to eliminate or prevent MRSA (Methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus) infections!


How Plants Maintain a Healthy Sperm-Egg Ratio

Current molecular biochemistry, microscopy and genetic techniques have become so powerful that scientists can now make mechanistic discoveries – supported by multiple lines of evidence – about intimate processes in plant reproduction that once were very difficult to examine, says molecular biologist Alice Cheung at the University of Massachusetts Amherst.

She is the senior author of a new paper in Nature describing how she and her team used such tools to solve, in unprecedented detail, the mechanisms of how flowering plants avoid polyspermy. As the name suggests, polyspermy results from multiple sperm entering and fertilizing an egg, a condition harmful to the zygote. In plants, preventing polyspermy also means higher chances for more females to be fertilized and ensures better seed yields, both of which are agriculturally important.

Click HERE to read more!


POSTPONED-- 2020 Kaulenas Lecture: Dr. Stanley B. Prusiner on Prions Causing Neurodegenerative Disease

**** The 13th annual Kaulenas Lecture is postponed until further notice. A new date and time is TBD.****

This year's lecture will be given by Dr. Stanley Prusiner, the 1997 Nobel laureate in Physiology of Medicine.

In recognition of his pioneering work discovering prions, the underlying cause of neurodegenerative diseases including Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease and bovine spongiform encephalopathy (or Mad Cow), Dr. Prusiner has also received the Wolf Prize, the Lasker Award, the Potamkin Prize, and the National Medal of Science.

He was elected to the National Academy of Science in 1992.

Dr. Prusiner will be speaking about recent discoveries in his lab, namely that the same misfolded protein phenomenon that gives rise to prion diseases is now widely recognized to play a role in most neurodegenerative diseases.

This lecture is sponsored by the Initiative on Neurosciences (IONs) at UMass.