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News from UMass Lowell for Week of Dec. 4, 2017

Story and Source Ideas for Journalists

Strings Project student plays violin.
The UMass Lowell String Project will present its "Winter Showcase" -- a free concert for the public and campus, on Thursday, Dec. 14.


This is a notice of upcoming events, photo opportunities and story ideas at UMass Lowell, compiled by the Office of University Relations, 978-934-3224. In case of inclement weather, call UMass Lowell’s weather hotline at 978-934-2121; if the university is closed, events are canceled. For more news about UMass Lowell, visit Please note that contact names below are for the media and are not for publication.

Sources of the week

UMass Lowell faculty experts are available to discuss: 
  • The landmark case before the Supreme Court this week that would legalize sports betting in several other states, which a UMass Lowell poll found that a majority of Americans support doing on a national level;
  • The latest in the Mueller investigation, including:
    -- Why potential Russian meddling in the 2016 presidential election is the biggest political scandal since Watergate;
    -- Whether President Trump can be charged with obstruction of justice and why his personal lawyer is claiming he cannot; 
  • The hurdles Congress faces in working to pass a short-term spending bill by Friday to avoid a government shutdown;
  •  This year’s early and hard-hitting flu season – which is already seeing widespread cases in Massachusetts and an increase in occurrences throughout New England – and what to do to avoid getting sick.
Contact UMass Lowell media relations if you need an expert source on any subject.

DifferenceMaker Contests Put Spotlight on Student Innovations

When and where: Monday, Dec. 4 and Tuesday, Dec. 5 at the Mark and Elisia Saab Emerging Technologies and Innovation Center, North Campus, 40 University Ave., Lowell; and Wednesday, Dec. 6, at the O’Leary Library Learning Commons, Room 222, South Campus, 61 Wilder St., Lowell 

What: UMass Lowell students in all majors who are learning entrepreneurial skills including how to launch new business and community ventures through the DifferenceMaker Program will pitch their ideas for products and services at three competitions. The contests will award seed money to the competitors with the best innovations in the finance, engineering, arts and nonprofit sectors. Participants may move onto the DifferenceMaker Idea Challenge, which awards thousands of dollars to student teams to help move their projects from concept to completion. Since 2012, DifferenceMaker participants have founded 17 companies, raised more than $460,000 to support their enterprises and have filed or been awarded seven patents for their inventions.

The competitions are:
  • Francis College of Engineering Prototyping Contest – Prototypes for new mechanical and electrical devices, systems and software will be pitched on Monday, Dec. 4 at an event from 3 to 9 p.m.; 
  • The DCU/MSB Innovation Contest – Concepts to improve the banking and financial industries will be pitched from 6 to 9 p.m. on Tuesday, Dec. 5. The event is presented by Digital Federal Credit Union (DCU) and the Manning School of Business at UMass Lowell;
  • Creative Venture Competition – Ideas for new programs, products and services in the arts and nonprofit sectors will be featured during this Dec. 6 event, held by the UMass Lowell College of Fine Arts, Humanities and Social Sciences from 6 to 9 p.m. 
Contacts for media: Nancy Cicco, 978-934-4944, or Christine Gillette, 978-934-2209,

Veterans Capture Their Wartime Experiences in Films

When and where: Tuesday, Dec. 5, 6 to 8 p.m. UMass Lowell Inn & Conference Center, 50 Warren St., Lowell

What: UMass Lowell student-veterans and alumni, including residents of Lowell and Westford, who have produced short documentaries about their military experiences will screen their films at a free event for the public. The event is presented by UMass Lowell’s Office of Veterans Services, the Patton Veterans Project – led by Benjamin Patton, the grandson of famed World War II Gen. George S. Patton – and Edith Nourse Rogers Memorial Veterans Hospital in Bedford. The movies grew out of a weekend filmmaking workshop held at the university earlier this semester. The program is part of a U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs study to evaluate the use of filmmaking to help veterans with post-traumatic stress disorder. Members of the public who would like more information about the program and upcoming workshops at UMass Lowell should contact

Contacts for media: Nancy Cicco, 978-934-4944, or Christine Gillette, 978-934-2209,

Harmonica Ace to Perform, Discuss Blues Music’s Traditions 

When and where: Panel discussion – Thursday, Dec. 7, 3:30 p.m. at O’Leary Library Learning Commons, Room 222, South Campus, 61 Wilder St., Lowell. Concert – Thursday, Dec. 7, 8 p.m. at Durgin Hall, South Campus 35 Wilder St., Lowell

What: Acclaimed harmonica player Adam Gussow – a member of the duo “Adam and Satan,” which was featured in U2’s documentary and album “Rattle and Hum” – will visit UMass Lowell for two free events for the public and campus. On Thursday afternoon, Gussow will share the American mythology that surrounds blues music in a panel discussion and talk about his new book on the folklore of blues music, a distinctly American art form. Moderating the program will be UMass Lowell Prof. Jonathan Silverman, whose books include a look at Johnny Cash and his impact on American culture. That evening, Gussow will team with local guitarist Chris Stovall Brown for a concert chock full of blues, rock and funk. Brown is a multi-instrumentalist, vocalist and songwriter who fronts his own band and has worked with musicians including J. Geils and James Montgomery.

Contacts for media: Nancy Cicco, 978-934-4944, or Christine Gillette, 978-934-2209,

‘First They Killed My Father’ Recounts Terror of the Khmer Rouge

When and where: Saturday, Dec. 9, 2 p.m. Lowell High School Auditorium, 50 Father Morissette Blvd., Lowell

What: “First They Killed My Father,” the 2017 film that recounts the real-life story of Luong Ung, a childhood survivor of the Khmer Rouge, will be shown for the public. Based on the book by the same name, the movie – co-written and directed by Oscar winner Angelina Jolie – tells of Ung’s experiences as a child soldier for Cambodia’s Pol Pot regime. The film’s producer, Rithy Panh and UMass Lowell graduate Chrisna Khuon will be among the featured speakers during a panel discussion after the screening. The free event is presented by the UMass Lowell Center for Asian American Studies and the Cambodian Mutual Assistance Association in partnership with other community organizations. Members of the public who would like more information may email

Contacts for media: Nancy Cicco, 978-934-4944, or Christine Gillette, 978-934-2209,

Producers Share Stories Behind ‘The Market Basket Effect’

When and where: Wednesday, Dec. 13, University Crossing, 220 Pawtucket St., Lowell. Film screening begins at 5:45 p.m. and a question-and-answer session with the producers starts at 7 p.m.

What: Film producers Nick Buzell and Ted Leonsis will share the behind-the-scenes story of the making of the documentary “We the People: The Market Basket Effect,” which chronicles how a six-week boycott of the grocery chain by thousands of employees and millions of customers in 2014 successfully led to the reinstatement of fired CEO Arthur T. Demoulas. Presented by UMass Lowell’s new Donahue Center for Business Ethics and Social Responsibility, part of the Manning School of Business, the free program for the campus and community will include a question-and-answer session with the filmmakers after a screening of the movie. Members of the public who would like more information or to attend should email or call 978-934-3140.

Contacts for media: Nancy Cicco, 978-934-4944, or Christine Gillette, 978-934-2209,

Young Musicians Display Their Talents at Free Concert 

When and where: Thursday, Dec. 14, 7 p.m. Durgin Hall, South Campus, 35 Wilder St., Lowell

What: Lowell public school students learning to play classical stringed instruments through the nationally acclaimed UMass Lowell String Project will perform their “Winter Showcase,” a free concert for the public and university community. The young musicians, in elementary through high school, perform as the Lowell Youth Orchestra and will be joined by the University Choir and Chamber Singers, along with UMass Lowell Music Department students and faculty. Selections will include Antonio Vivaldi’s “Winter” and Bach’s “Dona Nobis Pacem.” The ensemble is directed by Allyn McCourt, who earned a degree in music performance at UMass Lowell.

Contacts for media: Nancy Cicco, 978-934-4944, or Christine Gillette, 978-934-2209,