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Aaron Stella

Michael Doane

Michael Doane, Chemical Engineering, Biology

Michael Doane with an anaerobic biodigester that can convert manure into methane gas and fertilizer
“There are so many different programs and entities that all build on each other and combine to give you anything you’re willing to get out of your undergraduate experience.”
Michael Doane is squeezing every experience he can out of UMass Lowell – and winning fellowships and scholarships galore while doing it.

Doane, who left community college in Hayward, Calif., when his mother was diagnosed with cancer, decided to return to college after she died and followed his girlfriend to Massachusetts. He plans to become a cancer researcher. 

“Cancer is a peculiar and fascinating thing,” he says. “An accumulation of genetic accidents can cause it, so there are lots of different ways we can try to target it.” 

He’s well on his way. The honors student started off majoring in chemical engineering, then added a second major in biology. He also has two minors, in biomedical engineering and math. 

He got a work-study job doing computer modeling with Asst. Prof. Seongkyu Yoon that turned into an Honors College research fellowship. He has worked with biology Professor Matthew Nugent on emphysema-related research and with chemical engineering Asst. Prof. Prakash Rai on nanotherapy in pancreatic cancer, too. 

Those experiences helped him win a summer National Science Foundation fellowship at the University of Alabama, where he created a computer simulation of glioblastoma cell clusters for use in drug research. That, in turn, led to his winning a prestigious, $7,500 Goldwater Scholarship for students who plan to pursue academic research careers in the sciences.

“I’m so happy I came to UMass Lowell. There’s an abundance of research opportunities and everything’s been very progressive here,” he says. “There are so many different programs and entities that all build on each other and combine to give you anything you’re willing to get out of your undergraduate experience.” 

In 2018, he was awarded an Amgen Scholarship to work at CalTech over the summer on more cancer-related research, and he won a Tau Beta Pi scholarship, as well. Doane has also taken advantage of the professional co-op program, working at pharmaceutical giant Pfizer Inc., testing new equipment and processes for biotechnology research. 

Most recently, he won the 2018 Masergy STEM Collegiate Scholarship, beating out hundreds of applicants from across the country. The Texas company recognized him for his work on an anaerobic biodigester that can convert manure into methane gas and fertilizer in Haiti. Biodigester-Aided Solutions in Haiti (B.A.S.H.) is a team effort that began as a 2015-16 DifferenceMaker project and continues through the university’s Haiti Development Studies Center

Doane has pursued research related to the biodigester, too, including an internship at Lawrence Berkeley National Lab and the Department of Energy's Joint BioEnergy Institute in California, where he investigated enzymes that can help break down biomass and convert it to biofuel. He continues to work remotely on the project as a research assistant as he applies to Ph.D. programs.

What hasn’t he done? Study abroad. 

“I’m still trying to figure out how to fit that in,” he jokes.