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UMass Lowell Celebrates the Discoveries Driving COVID-19, Mars Research in Free Program Series

Online, Public Events Highlight Advances and Call for Greater Diversity Among Scientists

Sciences Dean Noureddine Melikechi
Kennedy College of Sciences Dean Noureddine Melikechi will discuss his research efforts in support of NASA's latest mission to Mar at a Spring into Science event this week.l

04/13/2021

Contacts for media: Nancy Cicco, 978-934-4944, Nancy_Cicco@uml.edu and Christine Gillette, 978-758-4664, Christine_Gillette@uml.edu
 
LOWELL, Mass. – UMass Lowell experts on the COVID-19 virus, NASA’s research on Mars and efforts to bring a more diverse workforce to science-related fields will share their insights on these topics as part of a free event series open to the public next week.

“Spring into Science: A Celebration of Discovery, Innovation and Education in the Sciences” will showcase the cutting-edge research and educational opportunities within UMass Lowell’s Kennedy College of Sciences and beyond. All events in the series, scheduled for Saturday, April 10 through Friday, April 16, will be online, free and open to the public. 

“Now in its third year, the series exemplifies the Kennedy College of Science’s commitment to explore the nature of life, advance technology and improve our society through pioneering research and the expansion of scientific understanding. We welcome the public to log on to next week’s programs to join us on this journey,” said Noureddine Melikechi, dean of the Kennedy College of Sciences and professor of physics and applied physics whose research includes working with NASA.

Three events will anchor the interactive series. On Tuesday, April 13 at 5 p.m. “The Science of COVID-19 and its Vaccines,” will be presented by Matthew Nugent, professor of biological science and Kennedy College of Sciences associate dean for research, innovation and partnerships. The program is one in the college’s Lecture Series on Science and Society sponsored by Eric and Lola Chaisson. 

“I hope to help our audience understand how the COVID-19 virus works and how this has allowed science to guide the development of vaccines that have the potential to drastically reduce suffering and loss of life,” said Nugent, who is an authority on cell biology and biochemistry.

Melikechi, an expert in optics and laser spectroscopy, will lead “Looking for Life on Mars One Laser Pulse at a Time” on Friday, April 16 at 12:30 p.m. The session will share his contributions to NASA missions that use laser technology to analyze the red planet’s environment in a search for signs of life.

“Mars is our neighboring planet. Is it habitable? Has it ever been habitable? To address these questions, NASA launched the Curiosity rover, which has been probing the surface of Mars since 2012. A few weeks ago, the rover Perseverance, Curiosity’s younger sister, landed on Mars. Both these rovers have on board laser-based instruments that use laser pulses to zap rocks and dust. I will be discussing how this is accomplished,” Melikechi said.

A new documentary that explores why only 2 percent of the country’s physicians are Black men will be discussed as part of the series. From April 10 through April 12, the public may log on to watch the film “Black Men in White Coats” and then join UMass Lowell Chemistry Prof. Mingdi Yan for an exploration of the issues raised in the movie during a program on Monday, April 12 at 4:30 p.m. 

“The movie is a springboard for us to discuss a wide variety of topics related to diversity in order to come up with plans we can implement to move toward a more equitable society,” said Yan, who leads the college’s diversity, equity and inclusion group and whose research focuses on nanomaterials and nanomedicine.

Members of the public who would like to view the full schedule of Spring into Science events and register to attend any of these programs should visit https://www.uml.edu/Sciences/News-Events/spring-into-science/. 

UMass Lowell’s Kennedy College of Sciences offers more than 40 undergraduate and graduate degree programs in biological sciences; chemistry; computer science; environmental, earth and atmospheric sciences; mathematical sciences; and physics and applied physics that provide classroom instruction and hands-on research opportunities to prepare students to take their place as leaders in these fields.

UMass Lowell is a national research university offering its more than 18,000 students bachelor’s, master’s and doctoral degrees in business, education, engineering, fine arts, health, humanities, sciences and social sciences. UMass Lowell delivers high-quality educational programs and personal attention from leading faculty and staff, all of which prepare graduates to be leaders in their communities and around the globe. www.uml.edu