News: Press Releases

June 21, 2016

President Meehan announces $1 million in faculty awards

  • The UMass System
Nearly $12 million in Science & Technology grants have spawned scientific advances and more than $200 million in additional funding

BOSTON—President Marty Meehan today announced $1,090,500 in grants for UMass science and technology research projects and arts and humanities/social sciences projects all aimed at improving the quality of life in Massachusetts and beyond.

“With these grants, we are investing in the vision, expertise and commitment of faculty members from all five UMass campuses,” President Meehan said. “We are supporting distinguished scholars who enrich us through their diligent pursuits.”

The President’s Science & Technology Initiatives Fund will provide $834,000 in grants to nine projects across the UMass System that advance basic and applied research in areas of strategic importance to the Commonwealth. The grants will fund work in areas ranging from developing materials that could prevent brain injuries sustained in sports and military contexts, to creating a regional bio-manufacturing hub in the Northeast.

Over the past 14 years, Science & Technology grants of $11.8 million have generated additional public and private funding of more than $200 million in areas including medical devices, nano-manufacturing, clinical and translational science, bio-manufacturing, data science, robotics and personalized cancer therapy.

“This program vividly demonstrates the impact that a public research university like UMass has in that it unlocks work of real scholarly significance and also produces a profound and enduring economic impact,” President Meehan noted.

A 2014 Science & Technology award of $85,000 to a team at UMass Amherst helped to generate MassMutual’s recent decision to provide $15 million in funding for UMass Amherst, according to Abigail Barrow, interim executive director of the Office of Technology Commercialization and Ventures.

The Creative Economy Initiatives Fund will provide $256,500 to 11 projects across the UMass system, including a collaboration between UMass Boston and Plimoth Plantation to develop a virtual exhibit relating to the Plantation’s archeological collections. A grant to UMass Dartmouth will highlight the role New Bedford’s multi-racial neighborhoods played in New Bedford’s anti-slavery history.

Since it was created ten years ago, the Creative Economy Initiatives Fund has awarded $2.75 million in grants.  A 2009 Creative Economy grant led to the establishment of the Lowell Youth Orchestra.




UMass Amherst

Bio-mechanics for Disease Diagnosis and Cell
Principal Investigators: Jae-Hwang Lee. Mechanical and Industrial Engineering Department, and Alfred Crosby, Polymer Science and Engineering Department
This project will create an inter-disciplinary research program to establish UMass’s bio-mechanical capabilities at the level of individual cells and organs. The study on mechanical responses of bio-materials will provide opportunities for progress in disease diagnosis, generation of new methods in cell engineering, and profound understanding in traumatic injuries.
Partners: UMass Lowell and UMass Medical School
Funding: $125,000


Soft Quantum Bio-Interface Center
Principal Investigators: Jennifer Ross and Anthony Dinsmore, Physics Department
This project is focused on developing a new center in the physics department that will be a world leader in research and technology at the interface between soft, biological materials and quantum-mechanical, electronic materials. The center would be the first in the world in these emerging areas of fundamental science. 
Funding: $125,000


High Quality Environmental Data for Scientific Applications and Natural Resource Management
Principal Investigators: Paula Rees of the Water Resources Center, Steve Mabee, Massachusetts state geologist, and Charlie Schweik, Department of Environmental Conservation
Partner: UMass Boston
The project plans for the development of a remote sensing unmanned aerial data center (drones) to support scientific research and management of natural systems across the Commonwealth. 
Funding: $25,000 planning grant


UMass Boston

Quantum Photonics
Principal Investigator: Greg Sun, Physics Department
This project seeks to foster fundamental research in the emerging fields of chip-scale photonic circuits, optical detectors, coherent light sources and material growth and is especially important in terms of the strategic development of the campus’s young engineering school.
Partner: UMass Lowell
Funding: $25,000 planning grant


UMass Dartmouth

Energy Absorbing-Materials for Mitigating Head and Other Impact Injuries
Principal Investigator: Yong Kim, Department of Bioengineering
The focus of this project is to develop a new research center for biomedical injury protection and mitigation structures.   It is intended to have applications in both sports (e.g., football) and in the military to deal with traumatic brain injury and chronic traumatic encephalopathy.  
Partners: UMass Lowell and UMass Medical School
Funding: $125,000


Bio-based, Bio-degradable Plastics with a Medical Focus
Principal Investigator: Christopher Brigham, Department of Bioengineering 
The plan is to create bio-degradable plastics from waste materials such as lobster and crab shells as the basis for developing new bio-compatible polymers that can be used in surgical applications like sutures, implants, scaffolds, wound dressing, and drug delivery.  
Partner: UMass Medical School
Proposed funding: $25,000 (planning grant)


UMass Lowell

NERVE Center:  Designing Better Robot Systems for People 
Principal Investigator: Holly Yanco, Department of Computer Science
This is an effort to expand the capabilities of the New England Robotics Validation and Experimentation Center to test and model both human and robots performing a wide variety of tasks in order to develop highly-capable assistive and wearable robots and devices.  
Partner: UMass Medical School
Funding: $123,000


Center for Digital HealthCare
With Yu Cao, Department of Computer Science
This grant will support the campus in developing and establishing a center for digital health that will undertake research, evaluate and validate tools, promote partnerships with industry, generate technology transfer and promote education for the digital health workforce. 
Partners: UMass Boston and UMass Medical School
Funding: $125,000


UMass Lowell and UMass Medical School

Bio-Manufacturing Innovation Institute
Principal Investigators:  Seongkyu Yoon, Chemical Engineering Department at UMass Lowell and Mark Klempner, MassBiologics
This project is to support the joint effort of UMass Lowell and the Medical School to partner with MIT in a consortium to respond to a Request For Proposal from the National Network for Manufacturing Innovation (NNMI) to develop a $75 million to $100 million regional bio-manufacturing hub in the Northeast.  This project has already secured substantial industry support and the state is considering a $20 million matching grant through the Mass Life Sciences Center.  
Funding: $136,000



UMass Amherst

Cross Town Contemporary Art: Public Art at the Intersection of the Town of Amherst and the University of Massachusetts.
Loretta Yarlow, University Museum of Contemporary Art, and Sandy Litchfield, Department of Architecture 
This project will transform the gateway district between downtown Amherst and the University of Massachusetts by sponsoring an Open Air Exhibition along the North Pleasant Street corridor, planned for spring through fall of 2017, which will use art and other cultural experiences to connect downtown Amherst to the University in a new and imaginative way.  As a long-term goal, project leaders envision a bike path and sidewalk leading through a beautifully landscaped passageway that integrates permanent and temporary art installations in the gateway region.
Funding: $26,600


Cultivating Creative Economies through Digital Storytelling Labs 
Elizabeth Krause, Department of Anthropology, and Aline Gubrium, School of Public Health
Using techniques developed through their earlier Ford Foundation-funded project, “Hear Our Stories,” the project leaders will collaborate with young Puerto Rican parents and community partners in Holyoke to employ digital stories to give voice to forms of diverse economic enterprise that may otherwise be hidden or undervalued. 
Funding: $28,861


Using 3D Modeling to Digitally Preserve the Architectural Heritage of Massachusetts
Duncan Irschick, Biology Department, Copper Giloth, Department of Art, and Marla Miller, History Department
This project proposes to digitally preserve a series of endangered historic architectural landmarks in Massachusetts using a modified form of the BeastcamTM technology. Among other goals, this project will use these 3D digital models to educate middle-school children in Pioneer Valley schools about animation techniques as well as elements of architectural design and cultural heritage.
Funding: $18,696


UMass Boston

Exploring Opportunities for Urban Youth Inclusion in Boston’s Creative Economy
Susan Crandall, McCormack Graduate School, with Juan Leyton, Dudley Street Neighborhood Initiative
This participatory, youth-led effort will uncover community assets and barriers and propose recommendations for the inclusion of local youth from Boston’s Dudley neighborhood in the creative economy. Among other intended results, the project will encourage employers and community organizations to examine how resources can be leveraged to increase employability of youth in specific branches of the creative economy and use public art and creative expression to share those findings with the community.
Funding: $23,750


Visualizing the Virtual Museum: A Plimoth Plantation-University of Massachusetts Boston Collaboration
David Landon, Fiske Center and Anthropology Department, with Jessica Rudden-Dube, Plimoth Plantation
This proposal will support a collaboration between the UMass Boston and Plimoth Plantation to develop a Digital Asset Management System and virtual exhibit of part of Plimoth Plantation’s archaeological collections. This initiative will expand the reach of one of the Commonwealth’s most visited heritage tourism museums, attracting new interest and additional visitors, and thus making an important contribution to the Commonwealth’s Creative Economy.  Funding: $24,927


Center for the Study of Humanities, Culture, and Society
Rachel Rubin, American Studies Department
The Center for the Study of Humanities, Culture and Society will assist in the development (cataloguing, protection, display, and rendering accessible) of an extensive popular culture archive that has been donated to the Center by a private donor. The collection gathers various media—comics, recorded music in several forms, books, journals and other periodicals—as well as significant material culture elements such as political posters to be used for a range of creative work—including multi-media projects, memoir, documentaries and cultural histories.
Funding: $24,383


UMass Dartmouth

Establishing a Strategic Partnership between UMass Dartmouth and Provincetown, MA 
Michael Goodman, Public Policy Center, with David Panagore, Provincetown Town Manager
UMD’s Public Policy Center and the town of Provincetown will design and develop the initial phase of what is envisioned as an ongoing formal technical and strategic partnership that will support the town’s recently launched effort to update its Local Comprehensive Plan and provide future applied research and technical assistance services. 
Funding: $19,000


Black Spaces Matter: Exploring the Architectonics of an Abolitionist Neighborhood
Pamela Karimi, Department of Art History
The seaport city of New Bedford, the home of many pre Civil War fugitive slaves and abolitionists, provides a lens through which to explore the history of interracial urban zones in the US. This project will highlight the significance of city neighborhoods that were home to fugitives from the South, including the renowned abolitionist Frederick Douglass. The program will include a lecture series, an architecture exhibition and a documentary film. 
Funding: $25,650


UMass Lowell

Community Animation Partnership: Creating a Platform for Dialogue through Animation 
Pouya Afshar, Art & Design Department
The project will support two after-school animation workshops for Lowell High School students. Through the pre-production and production of several animated projects and one short film, participating high school students will learn technical project skills and narrative storytelling.  Funding: $18,669


Urban Waters Revolution
Chad Montrie, History Department
This project will investigate an important era in America’s water quality history and demonstrate the city of Lawrence’s important place in the nineteenth-century urban industrial origins of the modern environmental movement.  Since the project will also focus on Lawrence’s new Groundwork Park and will highlight Ellen Swallow Richards’ personal struggle to pursue a vocation in science, it will also help empower girls and women with an interest in the STEM disciplines. 
Funding: $22,182


Reviving the Forgotten Tales of Childhood: Turning Narratives of Southeast Asian Families into Children's Multicultural Literature
Minjeong Kim, Graduate School of Education
This project will develop a collection of folktales of Southeast Asia focusing on Cambodia, Vietnam, Laos and Burma to be used as multicultural children’s literature in local libraries and public elementary schools in Lowell. Project leaders will also collect, transcribe and analyze the life stories of recently arrived Southeast Asian families. Lowell public elementary school teachers will be trained in culturally responsive pedagogy to use the multicultural folktales and children’s books which have been created. 
Funding: $23,750


Contact: Jan Brogan 781-467-9900