Geckskin Team on YouTube

Biology professor Duncan Irschick, along with colleagues Al Crosby from the Polymer Sciences Department, Andrew Croll and doctoral students Michael Bartlett and Daniel King have posted a video to YouTube

The video can be accessed here

Students Return from Trip to the Amazon

Cristina Cox Fernandes recently completed the pilot run of her new course, “Amazon Aquatic Ecology”. Biology students from UMass, SUNY Oswego, Hampshire College, and Mt. Holyoke College embarked on a 10 day field excursion to the Amazon, to experience and explore first hand the Amazon and Negro rivers and floodplains, in the vicinity of Manaus, Brazil. Students interacted with Brazilian scientists who gave lectures on varied topics such as Amazonian plants, fishes, birds, conservation, and the interaction of local communities with their riverine environment. Students also conducted individual projects, on topics such as fish feeding habits, river dolphins behavior, black and white water invertebrates, palm and bird diversity. 2012 has been notable for its record floodwater levels, which allowed the group to enter areas normally impassable. Students encountered many species of monkeys, snakes, spiders, fishes, and trees, especially palms. All in all it was a great inaugural run, leaving an indelible stamp in the memory of all involved!

For more photos: Click here.

For "You Tube" video: Click here.

Biology Intensive Orientation Session (BIOS) - Application Available Now

The Biology Intensive Orientation Session (BIOS) is a rigorous academic program designed to enhance the success of first-year students in life science majors. BIOS immerses incoming students in college-level biology coursework, and encourages interactions among academically like-minded students in the week just before the Fall semester. The BIOS experience includes lectures, discussions, writing and test experiences and engagement in a group project for presentation. Students are also embedded in campus life and become familiar with dorm living, dining halls, the layout of campus. Most importantly students meet each other, work together on challenging projects, and have a chance to develop friendships and study groups that can last for their entire college career and beyond. For more information about BIOS, please contact Susan Clevenger (, 413-545-2287).

Click here to apply.

Irschick and Colleagues Create a New Adhesive Inspired By Gecko Feet

Biology professor Duncan J. Irschick and his colleagues Al Crosby and Michael Bartlett from the Polymer Sciences Department have just published a paper in the journal Advanced Materials which shows how mimicking the anatomy of gecko feet creates a new dry adhesive ("Geckskin™") with unparalleled adhesion. A 4 x 4 inch pad of Geckskin™ can fasten about 700 lbs. to a smooth surface, such as glass, yet can be peeled off easily with one's fingers and reattached with no loss of adhesive ability. The material's design involved the creation of fake "tendon" and "skin" which are integrated with a pad that adheres to a surface using van der Waals forces, just like a gecko's foot does. This work is the first clear demonstration of the "up-scaling" gecko-style adhesion, and presents many exciting possibilities for human applications, ranging from construction to medicine.

The paper can be accessed here.

Some media coverage:

From Channel 40

From the Daily Mail

From Wired Magazine

Patek Stars in "National Geographic Wild" TV Show

Biology professor Sheila Patek is featured throughout an episode of "National Geographic Wild" that examines the behavior and biomechanics of mantis shrimp. (Click the video icon to see the entire show). The show highlights field and laboratory research by Prof. Patek and by undergraduate and graduate students in her lab.