Research Highlights

Zink’s CAREER Research Will Make More Economical Sensor Networks for Border Security, Weather Forecasting, and Other Uses

Michael Zink of the Electrical and Computer Engineering Department at the University of Massachusetts Amherst has come up with a brilliant solution for a very expensive problem: The various applications for networks of electronic sensing devices such as radars or cameras cannot be shared. For example, radar networks are applied for either weather forecasting or tracking aircraft. Camera systems might be applied for border security or Coast Guard life-saving activities.

NSF CAREER Research Will Upgrade Cryogenic Sensors

Joseph Bardin of the Electrical and Computer Engineering Department at the University of Massachusetts Amherst has received a five-year grant of approximately $400,000 from the prestigious National Science Foundation (NSF) Faculty Early Career Development (CAREER) Program. Bardin’s research will greatly improve the cryogenic electronics used in scientific instruments, thereby enabling new and more powerful experimental tools for scientific researchers.

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Ganz to Install Electronic Navigation System for Visually Impaired in MBTA

Imagine being blindfolded and then turned loose to navigate the complex Boston subway system. Your plight might recall The Man Who Never Returned, that classic Kingston Trio song about a guy named Charlie whose fate on the subway was to “ride forever ‘neath the streets of Boston.” Now imagine you can never take off that blindfold. That’s the real-life predicament of any visually impaired person who enters a busy subway station, and University of Massachusetts Amherst Professor Aura Ganz has a brilliant solution. Called PERCEPT, Ganz’ invention is a seeing-eye directory for the blind and visually impaired which will provide them with verbal directions, electronic signs, and a virtual information booth for finding their way around the subway station.

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Baker Featured in NSF Highlight

Research by Professor Erin Baker of the Mechanical and Industrial Engineering Department was included as a recent NSF Highlight on the website, posted by the National Science Foundation to spotlight outstanding research that it has funded. Baker’s highlight ( was entitled "The role of uncertainty in technology selection" and was based upon the following NSF Award: Collaborative Research: Choosing a Portfolio of Technology Policies in an Uncertain World. By formally modeling the uncertainties inherent when government invests in alternate energy technology, Gregory Nemet and Baker showed that in the case of carbon capture and storage (CCS), investing in a broad portfolio of technologies is superior to concentrating resources in one or a few options. CCS is potentially one of the most important energy technologies to address climate change. 

Schiffman Becomes First Recipient of James Douglas Early Career Faculty Development Award

Assistant Professor Jessica D. Schiffman of the Chemical Engineering (ChE) Department at the University of Massachusetts Amherst is the initial recipient of the Professor James Douglas Early Career Faculty Development Award. Douglas was a former faculty member and department head in the UMass Amherst ChE department. The award is being made “in honor of Professor Douglas’ research innovation, entrepreneurial spirit, and ability to tackle complex problems using innovative and non-traditional approaches to achieve results.”

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Dauenhauer Receives Camille Dreyfus Teacher-Scholar Award

Paul Dauenhauer, the Armstrong Professional Development Professor and DuPont Young Professor in the University of Massachusetts Amherst Chemical Engineering (ChE) Department, is one of 15 researchers in the country to be chosen for an ultracompetitive Camille Dreyfus Teacher-Scholar Award. As ChE Head T.J. Lakis Mountziaris explained, Dauenhauer’s groundbreaking research is “addressing national priorities and global grand challenges in the area of energy and environmental sustainability. Paul’s transformative research will contribute to our country’s energy independence, sustainability, and economic development.”

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Irwin Works with Smart Meter Project at Holyoke Gas & Electric Co.

David Irwin of the Electrical and Computer Engineering Department is one of the researchers at the University of Massachusetts Amherst who are conducting a pilot project with the Holyoke Gas & Electric Co. (HG&E) that will show the utility and its customers how smart electric meters can save money and power. The project is funded by a $200,000 grant from the Massachusetts Department of Energy Resources. Prashant Shenoy of the Computer Science Department and Irwin are heading up a team of UMass Amherst researchers who will be using information from several dozen volunteers in HG&E’s customer base to demonstrate how to improve electricity use based on their metered use. See Article in the Springfield Republican.