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2021 in Review at UMass Lowell

Despite the Challenges of the Pandemic, River Hawks Kept Pushing Forward

Back of young woman's head where her braids are formed into white hearts atop her head Photo by Ed Brennen

12/22/2021

For many of us, the pandemic has warped our sense of time. Was that milestone last year? Or six months ago? Or was it last week? Looking back on the past year at UMass Lowell, it was an eventful 12 months. 

From the arrival of COVID-19 vaccines to the return to a fully opened campus, River Hawks kept pushing forward.

Researchers broke new ground and student athletes set new records. Chancellor Moloney announced her plans to step down next year. Music business major Andrew Marshall sang his heart out for millions on “The Voice.” 

To help you keep things in perspective, we’ve pulled together some highlights from 2021. Here’s a look back on the year that was at UMass Lowell.

UML education major Nick Kerrigan is student teaching during the COVID-19 pandemic Photo by Courtesy

January

Senior education majors at UMass Lowell faced unprecedented challenges to do their student teaching online, in classrooms, or both. But they say that the children and their mentor teachers made it all worthwhile.

Chemistry Asst. Prof. Manos Gkikas and grad student

February

A team of researchers led by Chemistry Asst. Prof. Manos Gkikas developed an advanced X-ray imaging method that aims to improve the detection and diagnosis of breast cancer.

Andrew Marshall, a senior studying Music Business, is getting some real-life experience on "The Voice."

March

Music Business major Andrew Marshall, under the banner of Team Joe Jonas, fought off competitors on TV's smash show, "The Voice."

Kaley Richards holds her indoor track All-American award Photo by Gary Gardner

April

Distance runner Kaley Richards helped put UML’s cross country and track and field programs on the map after earning two NCAA Division I All-American honors in a three-day span.

Graduate celebrates under jumbotron at Tsongas Center

May

UMass Lowell celebrated the perseverance of the Class of 2021 in a hybrid format that resembled the school year. Graduates and guests processed in person through the Tsongas Center to receive their diplomas and get formal photos taken, while a pre-recorded ceremony streamed online.

Fiona Bruce-Baiden won the 29 Who Shine award for UMass Lowell in 2021 Photo by Courtesy

June

Her leadership on campus and advocacy for Black students won Fiona Bruce-Baiden recognition as one of “29 Who Shine,” an award given by the Massachusetts Department of Higher Education to one student from each of the state’s public colleges and universities.

UMass Lowell Chancellor Jacqueline Moloney

July

After six years as chancellor and 37 years with the university, UMass Lowell Chancellor Jacquie Moloney announced she will step down at the end of the upcoming academic year in June 2022.

Asst. Prof. Sheree Pagsuyoin and graduate student

August

A team of researchers from UMass Lowell and Northeastern, led by Asst. Prof. Sheree Pagsuyoin, created a low-cost, automated wireless sensor network that could detect the virus that causes COVID-19 in the air and in wastewater. 

A woman in a yellow sweater and sequin face mask greets a student in a classroom Photo by Ed Brennen

September

After 18 months of virtual learning, face masks couldn't hide the smiles from students and faculty who were elated to be back in the classroom.

A woman with long dark hair speaks to an audience from a glass podium Photo by Meghan Moore

October

Alumni of UMass Lowell’s Rist DifferenceMaker Institute returned to campus to celebrate the 10th anniversary of the program, which has spun off 40 companies that have generated over $4 million in revenue.

Jacquie Moloney, Katy Tucker and Joe Hartman

November

Prof. Katherine Tucker of Biomedical and Nutritional Sciences was named the 2021 Distinguished University Professor, the highest accolade bestowed on a UMass Lowell faculty member.

Lisa Panagopoulous, center, and two fellow actors at premiere

December

Adjunct professor Lisa Panagopoulos '84, '88 launched a second career on the silver screen and is in theaters and on streaming services now in in a feature-length Christmas movie, “Twas the Night."