SMLS in the News

November 7, 2019

ChE Professors Jessica Schiffman and Sarah Perry have developed nanofiber fabrics that are green and non-toxic that can be used in medical, environmental, personal care and food packaging applications. Find out more

September 1, 2019 

The SMLS NRT is happy to welcome Cohort 5 trainees to the program. They are:

  • Allen Change (Polymer Science & Engineering)

  • Kaitlyn Chhe (Chemistry)

  • Emily Diep (Chemical Engineering)

  • Carline Fermino do-Rosario (Molecular & Cellular Biology)

  • Jun-goo Kwak (Molecular & Cellular Biology)

  • Stephanie Le (Chemistry)

  • Helen Lin (Food Science)

  • Victor Ryu (Food Science)

  • Guinevere Tillinghast (Chemical Engineering)

August 19, 2019

Doctoral Oral Exam: Michael Hickey, Ph.D, Food Science, Monday August 19, 10:00 a.m., 243 Chenoweth Lab. Dissertation: "Surface Enhanced Raman Spetroscopic Imaging of Bacteria within Fresh Prodcue in SITU:"

September 1, 2018

The SMLS NRT is happy to welcome Cohort 4 trainees to the program. They are:

  • Anthony Brouillard (Chemical Engineering)

  • Emma Dauster (Biology)

  • Gina Georgadarellis (Mechanical Engineering)

  • Michael Lu-Diaz (Chemistry)

  • Jorge Muriel Mundo (Food Science)

  • Kaushal Sumaria (Mechanical Engineering)

  • Qingyang Sun (Mechanical Engineering)

  • Cassandra Suther (Food Science)

  • Oscar Zabala-Ferrera (Chemical Engineering)

October 11, 2017

SNLS-NRT held the second annual NRT Retreat. Please find the agenda here:

October 11, 2017


Sep 2017: Professor Lili He of Food Science will be presented with the nationally acclaimed Award for Outstanding Accomplishments in Research and Creative Activity by Chancellor Subbaswamy at the Thirteenth Annual Faculty Convocation on October 11, 2017 along with several other faculty.  


September 19, 2017

Several NRT Trainees have been invited to participate in a 3M Team Visit to IALS on September 19, 2017, courtesy of Peter Reinhart, Director of IALS and a NRT IAB member. Attending will be NRT Trainees Yalin Liu, Kelsi Skeens, Jingjing Gao, Yiliang Zhou, Ryan Carpenter and Kevin Zhang, as well as our NRT science-of-science study graduate student, Tim Sacco of Sociology, who will observe the interactions. The students will participate in 2-minute speed talks over coffee and refreshments with 3M researchers, earning professional development credit as well.

September 1, 2017

The SMLS NRT is happy to welcome Cohort 3 trainees to the program. They are:

  • Louis Colaruotolo (Food Science)

  • Hazel Davis (Polymer Science & Engineering)

  • Jamar Hawkins (Mechanical Engineering)

  • Michael Hickey (Food Science)

  • Khatcher Margossian (Polymer Science & Engineering)

  • Alexander Mills (Food Science)

  • Yongkuk Park (Chemical Engineering)

  • Mengqi Xu (Physics)

  • Hao Wan (Polymer Science & Engineering, Cohort 3.5)

July 2017

Prof. Carter hosts a NRT BBQ at his home, including members of his own and the Tew research group. Students enjoyed pulled meats and sides, played croquet and bocci ball while Ken and his band "The Limit" played cover tunes. A good time was had by all.


June 2017

The SMLS-NRT is officially designated as a Graduate Certificate Program on the UMass Amherst campus!

May 2017

NRT Students receive graduate certificates. They are:

  • Sunil Khandavalli (Mechanical Engineering)

  • Michael Kwasny (Polymer Science & Engineering)

  • Yalin Liu (Chemical Engineering)

  • Nicholas Posey (Polymer Science & Engineering)

  • Yiliang Zhou (Polymer Science & Engineering)

UMass Amherst Graduate Students Receive First Collaborative Certifcate in Life Sciences by Janet Lathrop:

April 2017                    

Peter Reinhart, Director of the Institute for Applied Life Sciences (IALS) and a member of the NRT Internal Advisory Board (IAB), is featured in Commonwealth Magazine about UMass Amherst's investment in innovation. According to Reinhart outside companies have discovered the facilities and research that is available at UMass Amherst and they are lining up to get access. Read the rest of the article




April 2017 

Congratulations to Prof. Jessica Schiffman of ChE who is the recipient of the Barbara H. and Joseph I. Goldstein Outstanding Junior Faculty Award.  Jessica was cited by the selection committee for her outstanding record in research, teaching and service including the development of novel bioinspired materials from natural polymers and planet-derived agents.  

March 2017 

Prof. Laurel Smith-Doerr of the UMass Amherst Sociology Department and a participating NRT faculty will take part  in a Book Launch on the 28th of March with a reading from and discussion on Pathways, Potholes, and the Persistence of Women in Science: Reconsidering the Pipeline along with other contributors Dr. Enobong (Anna) Branch, UMass Amherst Faculty Advisor to the Chancellor for Diversity and Excellence, and Laura E. Hirshfeld, Medical Education and Sociology, University of Illinois at Chicago.

In addition, Dr. Smith-Doerr, along with Sharla N. Alegria and Timothy Sacco, recently published "How Diversity Matters in the US Science and Engineering Workforce: A Critical Review Considering Integration in Teams, Fields and Organizational Contexts" in the journal Engaging Science, Technology, and Society

January 2017                      

NRT and Chemical Engineering faculty Prof. Jessica Schiffman and ChE's Prof. Sarah Perry were awarded a UMass Faculty Research Grant to support their work on Electrospinning of Complex Coacervates.




January 2017

Announcing NRT-sponsored Travel Grant Award Recipients: 

Ryan Carpenter, a member of Prof. Jungwoo Lee's research group in Chemical Engineering, attended the Cell Plasticity within the Tumor Microenvironment Keystone Symposia on Molecular and Cellular Biology in Big Sky, MT in January 2017. Ryan presented his work on "Capturing Microenvironmental Regulation of Metastatic Dormancy and Recurrence" at a poster session as well as presenting a short "teaser" talk on his research. Ryan says of his experience "The close-knit atmosphere allowed me to interact with the same people for the duration of the conference to share ideas and knowledge. I developed several new connections from academic and industrial researchers interested in using our model systems to answer their own questions. In the future I hope to utilize these interdisciplinary collaborations to solve complex biological problems."


Sunil Khandavalli of Prof. Rothstein's Mechanical and Industrial Engineering research group traveled to Tampa, FL in Feburary 2017 for the 88th Annual Society of Rheology Meeting where he presented a talk entitled "Gravure Printing of Non-Newtonian Fluids: The Effect of Shear and Extensional Deformation." Sunil attended several talks on various topics including fundamental, rheological studies on materials systems such as colloids, polymer melts, wormlike micelles; processing behavior of materials in applications such as 3D printing; and dynamics free surface interfaces of fluids.  He had the opportunity to network with other graduate students, faculty and industry scientists. Sunil remarks, "I received very useful comments on my work from the audience after my presentation."


Mike Kwasny, in the Tew research group in PSE, presented twice at the 253rdh ACS Spring Meeting, once in lieu of Prof. Tew with a talk entiled "Conductivity and Mechanics in Self-organized Networks" and his own presentation entitled "Going Beyond Ruthenium in Metal-Cation-based Anion Exchange Membranes." Mike remarks of the conference, "It was an amazing experience where I was able to learn about chemistry in a wide range of fields to which I normally would not be exposed. Having this experience helped stimulate me to think about my research in new ways, reminding me of the importance in hearing about research in scientific fields that are drastically different from what I normally study."


Jingjing Gao from Prof. Thayumanavan's research group in Chemistry presented at the 253rd ACS Spring Meeting her talk entitled, "Logic Gated Supramolecular Disassembly and Non-covalent Guest Molecule Release." She says that "attending this conference really opened my eyes into the research field I am interested in; getting the chance to learn about the progress and future trends helped me to clear my thoughts about my own research."




Nick Posey from PSE's Tew group presented "Modulating the Hydrophobicity of Cell Penetrating Peptide Mimics for Binding and Intracellular Delivery of Protein Cargo" and says of the 253rd ACS Spring Meeting, "Going to the ACS national meeting in San Francisco was such an enriching experience for me. Not only did I get a chance to open up my research to a new audience, but I was also able to meet and see some of the best minds in polymer chemistry present their work. By the end of the conference, I had a whole notebook full of new ideas and insights. I also got a chance to ask questions directly to the professors that I have been following in the literature. The most important aspect of this experience however was reconnecting with other professors, mentors, and students that I have met previously."


Xiangxi "Zoey" Meng (right), a member of the Perry and Schiffman research groups in ChE, attended the ACS Colloid and Surface Science Symposium at City College of New York in July 2017. She found the conference "inspiring and very friendly" especially as a graduate student still in the early stages of her studies. She presented on her research developing a controlled release antibacterial fiber as a model platform from electrospinning coacervates, entitled "Encapsulating Cargo Using Electrospin Complex Coacervates Fibers." Much of her time there was spent attending talks on versatile collodial sciences from researchers around the world who "shared knowledge and raised concerns in an open atmosphere. Although I was not used to asking questions, I was very intrigued by the research and became more confident and interactive." Returning home with "conference fatigue" brought her "the satisfaction of being exposed to science versatility and the happiness of being inspired!


Polymer Science and Engineering student Yilang Zhou (rightof the Carter research group attended the Electrochemical Society (ECS) Annual Meeting in May/June 2017 in New Orleans, LA and presented his paper "Fabrication of Three-dimensional Woodpile Cerium Oxide Nanostructure via Solution-based Soft Nanoprint Lithography for Enzymatic Glucose Sensor." Yiliang says "It was a nice experience for me to communicate my own research with a new audience and to gain from the meaningful comments. I also learned a lot from the other presentations and posters and gained a much better understanding of the new trends in electrochemistry which will inspire and help my research."



Yalin Liu (right) of the Perry research group in Chemical Engineering is attending the AIChE Annual Meeting in Minneapolis, MN in October of this year and plans to attend a special event on polyelectrolyte complexes (PEC0) while there. Her presentation is titled "Designing Material Dynamics in Polyelectrolyte Complexes."

Also attending AIChE will be Whitney Blocher (left) who is also in the Perry research group.  Whitney will be presenting "Encapsulation and Thermal Stability of Immunological Biologics using Complex Coacervation" and hopes to learn about other research and to network with other scientists; there are also several topics that line up with her area of research that she hopes will be very informative.


Li-Wei Chang in the Perry Research Group, ChE, will present "Designing Material Dynamics in Polyelectrolyte Complexes" at the 2017 ACS Annual Fall Meeting in August in Washington, DC.






January 2017

NRT Co-PI Prof. Greg Tew is collaborating with UMass Amherst Polymer Science and Engineering Professor Alfred Crosby, along  with other reseachers at UPENN and UC San Diego, on the project "Understanding Cavitation Damage in Soft Tissues and Gels," with funding from the Office of Naval Research.


January 2017


 NRT faculty member Dr. Laurel Smith-Doerr, NRT faculty and professor of sociology and director of the UMass Amherst Institue for Social Science Research (ISSR) served as the editor on the fourth edition of  the "Handbook of Science and Technology Studies." and




Prof. Carter and Tew are mentioned in Research Highlights of the 2016 Annual Research Report for the Institute for Applied Life Sciences (IALS): 

"Polymer scientists Kenneth Carter and Gregory Tew have received $3 million from the National Science Foundation National Research Traineeship (NRT) program to explore new models for graduate education in the use of polymers and other soft materials in the life sciences. Carter and Tew say NRT will engage graduate students from varied disciplines such as polymer science, immunology, food science, and engineering to better reflect the collaborative nature of modern scientific research."










October 2016

Oct 2016: Our first NRT Retreat on October 19th was a great success with NRT faculty giving brief presentations on their research, as well as very informative poster presentations by our students, and a student-moderated panel of members of industy including UMass alum. 


June 2016

June 2016: Congratulations to our NRT Project Coordinator Trouble Mandeson, a PSE staff member for over 12 years, who was promoted and upgraded to Grants and Contracts Coordinator, Level II, a newly created title for UMass administrative staff who work with grant funds.  In addition to acting as the coordinator on the NRT project, Trouble also manages the research groups of Profs. Tew and Carter, as well as assisting the student group Graduate Students for Diversity in Science and Engineering (GSDSE). Trouble enjoys her work and loves working with the students who she refers to as "my kids."





June 2016

Jul 2016: STEM Family Travel Initiative Recognized by AWIS Magazine: NRT faculty Professor Maria Santore, Director of the STEM Family Travel Initiative (FTI) and professor of Polymer Science and Engineering, says it was "a welcome honor" to be recognized in a four-page article in the summer issue of the Association of Women in Science (AWIS) magazine.


May 2016

May 2016: Members of the UMass Amherst SMLS-NRT program attended the first ever NRT meeting at the University of Maryland, College Park, MD on May 2-3rd followed by a Future STEM Leaders event in Washington, DC on May 4th.

UMass Amherst NRT Director and co-Director, Prof. Ken Carter and Prof. Greg Tew, along with Project Coordinator Trouble Mandeson and graduate students Nick Posey and Mike Kwasny, attended this highly energized event, which brought together faculty, coordinators and students from all 18 newly-funded NRT teams to share ideas, develop strategies for long-term success, and to participate in a national-level discussion on the future of STEM training from leading experts in academia, government and industry. Pictured at left: Nick Posey, Prof. Ken Carter, Trouble Mandeson, Prof. Greg Tew, Mike Kwasny.  Photos from both events can be found here: and



April 2016

Food Science competition focuses on new ice cream flavors

Professor Sam Nugen of Food Science and a faculty member serving on the NRT Leadership Team, is in the news with an ice cream flavor competition open to Food Science students. According to Prof. Nugen, "The seniors taking part in this capstone project learn core principles of food science such as the microbiology and chemistry of food, processing, market analysis, value to consumer, shelf stability, regulations, health and nutrition considerations. They must balance food safety, affordability and quality, batch consistency and sensory testing so the final product looks, smells and tastes good. This experience is extraordinarily helpful as students enter food science research and industry product development careers." Community members will be invited to sample and the new flavors will be judged by the owners of Maple Valley Creamery who will produce the winning flavor. See details at


March 2016

Mar 2016: Prof. Ken Carter (right) is voted in as a Fellow of the ACS Division of Polymer Chemistry.


CNS Women in Science Lecture to "Address Accomplishments, Challenges and Next Steps." NRT Professor Barbara Osborne of the Veterinary and Animal Sciences Department and a participant in the College of Natural Sciences peer mentoring program, spoke about gender equity in the college. The program was followed by a reception and was free to the public.




Food Science Professor LiLi He wins 2 National Awards 

Prof. Lili He won the Young Scientist Award from the Agricultural and Food Chemistry Division of the American Chemical Society. This award is given to the most outstanding scientist in a competition between 6 young scientists at the 250th American Chemical Society meeting in Boston. Lili also received the Eastern Analytical Symposium Young Scientist Award. The Eastern Analytical Symposium and Exposition is held each year to provide professional scientists and students continuing education in the analytical and allied sciences.




ISSR Director Laurel Smith-Doerr and Graduate RAs Sharla Alegria and Tim Sacco present at the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy

Graduate student Tim Sacco, Director of the Institute for Social Science Research and Professor of Sociology, Laurel Smith-Doerr, and graduate student, Sharla Alegria, as they present their research on "Diversity in Science Teams" to the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy on March 1, 2016.  Prof. Smith-Doerr and Tim Sacco are both participants in the NRT program conducting research on the "Science of Science." Read ore about their presentation at


February 26, 2016

Smith-Doerr to speak about "The Marie Curie Effect" at CPPA Colloquium

Laurel Smith-Doerr
Laurel Smith-Doerr

Laurel Smith-Doerr, professor of sociology and director of the UMass Amherst Institute for Social Science Research (ISSR), will speak on “The Marie Curie Effect: When Women in U.S. Science Policy Agencies Earn More than Men” on Monday, March 7 from 12:15-1:15 p.m. in 620 Thompson.

The talk is part of the annual faculty colloquium at the Center for Public Policy and Administration (CPPA).

Read the rest of the article at:


October 9, 2015

UMass Launches Inter-disciplinary Collaboration to Advance the "Science of Science"

On Friday, October 9 UMass celebrated the kickoff of the Soft Materials for Life Sciences National Research Training Program (SMLS-NRT), marking an exciting new approach to graduate training in the natural sciences and an important opportunity to build meaningful collaboration between the social and natural sciences at UMass. The NSF-funded SMLS-NRT is a 5-year, approximately $3 million program that aims to build what program co-Directors Kenneth Carter and Gregory Tew (Polymer Science) describe as the "T-shaped" skill set of technical depth and collaborative breadth among a new generation of polymer and life science graduate students. Directly supporting inter-disciplinary training in science, science policy, and collaborative research management for 74 students across the polymer science and engineering, immunology, food science and engineering fields, the SMLS-NRT's broader impacts will be sustained by its innovations in scientific training methods. 

September 2, 2015

UMass Amherst Wins Nearly $3 Million to Train Students in Use of Soft Materials for Life Sciences

Kenneth Carter

Gregory Tew

AMHERST, Mass. – Researchers at the University of Massachusetts Amherst have been awarded $2.975 million over five years through the National Science Foundation’s National Research Traineeship (NRT) program to train a group of graduate students from different disciplines in the use of polymers and other soft materials in the life sciences.

Polymer scientist Kenneth Carter, who co-directs the program with colleague Gregory Tew, says the NRT will engage 74 students over five years in polymer science and engineering, immunology, food science and several engineering fields. One goal is to explore new models for graduate education.

Read the rest of the article at: