Annual Event Also Fosters Collaboration Across Disciplines

Chancellor Jacquie Moloney and faculty members at the Faculty Symposium Image by Tory Wesnofske
Chancellor Jacquie Moloney, fifth from right, poses with faculty members who were honored at the 2017-18 Faculty Symposium.

By Ed Brennen

The full breadth of the university’s research, teaching and creative works were on display at the 2017-18 Faculty Symposium, held recently at the UMass Lowell Inn & Conference Center.

The annual event recognizes and celebrates faculty accomplishments. It also provides an opportunity for faculty members to share their research with those outside of their school or college, with the goal of sparking interdisciplinary collaborations.

“I am so proud of this outstanding faculty and of all your individual successes, from the papers you have published to share your findings, to the performances that have broadened our perspectives, to the inventions that are moving toward commercialization,” Chancellor Jacquie Moloney told the nearly 200 faculty members in attendance. “Thank you for all that you do to make this such an innovative institution.”

Vice Chancellor for Research and Innovation Julie Chen noted that the university’s research awards increased by 40 percent, from $34.2 million in 2016 to $48.6 million in 2017. Industry funding for research also jumped 20 percent in 2017.

Faculty members talk during a break at the symposium Image by Tory Wesnofske
Faculty members chat during a break at the 2017-18 Faculty Symposium.

“This event represents the best of what we do here, and No. 1 on that list is building community,” Chen said of the symposium, which is organized by the Offices of the Provost and the Vice Chancellor for Research & Innovation, along with the Transformational Education Committee and the Faculty Development Council.

Vice Provost for Faculty Success Beth Mitchneck, who joined the university this year from the University of Arizona, shared several new faculty initiatives that will be rolling out this year, including mentoring awards.

The event featured keynote remarks from Civil and Environmental Engineering Prof. Donald Leitch (recipient of the 2017 Manning Prize for Excellence in Teaching), and Prof. Sue Kim, chair of the English department and co-director of the Center for Asian American Studies.

“Sometimes I wonder if we, as faculty, fully realize the impact of our interaction with students outside the classroom and our impact on their lives,” said Leitch, who joined the university in 1968.

Susan Thomson Tripathy speaks during a panel discussion Image by Ed Brennen
Sociology lecturer Susan Thomson Tripathy discusses her research during a pedagogy panel discussion at the Faculty Symposium.

The symposium once again featured a series of 90-second “Lightning Talks,” in which 83 faculty members from all six of the university’s colleges and schools highlighted their research and shared teaching innovations.

In her talk, Asst. Prof. Sheree Pagsuyoin (Civil and Environmental Engineering) gave a snapshot of the work that she and Assoc. Prof. Dhimiter Bello (Biomedical and Nutritional Sciences) are conducting to study the opioid crisis in Massachusetts and how illicit drug use is impacting the state’s water systems. Water samples taken from local rivers show traces of the drugs coming from people’s liquid waste. Massachusetts ranks as one of the top states in the nation in terms of opioid-related overdoses and deaths.

Biology Asst. Prof. Jennifer Fish shared her work studying the development of jaws and limbs in animals to see how their diversity is generated and how morphological differences in their structures have evolved. Her goal is to learn more about developmental defects and diseases of the jaws and limbs in humans.

Chemistry Asst. Prof. Emmanouil Gkikas, meanwhile, shared how he and his team are working on injectable, tailored, synthetic polymeric nanomaterials and biomaterials that could be used for clinical applications like stopping bleeding, collagen grafts and tissue regeneration, antimicrobial drugs, tissue adhesives, Alzheimer’s disease and medical imaging.

English Prof. Sue Kim delivers a keynote talk at the symposium Image by Ed Brennen
English Prof. Sue Kim delivers her keynote address, "What My Mother Taught Me," at the Faculty Symposium.

The Office of the Provost presented 42 faculty members with 2017 Faculty Awards for Teaching Excellence:

  • From the College of Fine Arts, Humanities and Social Sciences: Pavel Romaniko; Melissa Morabito; Walter Toomey; Katherine Shrieves; Jill Pruett; Michael Pierson; Elissa Johnson-Green; Nicholas Evans; John Wooding; Rocio Rosales; Yana Weinstein; Susan Thomson Tripathy; and Giulia Po DeLisle.
  • From the Francis College of Engineering: Glenn Dissinger; Clifford Bruell; Frank Tredeau; Dalila Megherbi; Emmanuelle Reynaud; Scott Stapleton; David Willis; and Stephen Driscoll.
  • From the College of Education: Xiaoxia Newton.
  • From the Kennedy College of Sciences: Jennifer Fish; Peter Gaines; Kwok-Fan Chow; Sirong Lin; Lori Weeden; Theresa Schille; Min Hyung Cho; Partha Chowdhury; and Johannes Zwanikken.
  • From the Manning School of Business: Cassandra Rohland; Xiaojing (Aggie) Yuan; Elana Feldman; Michael Ciuchta; and Thomas Sloan.
  • From the Zuckerberg College of Health Sciences: Kelsey Mangano; Kristin Palladino; Keith Hallbourg; Craig Slatin; Patricia MacCulloch; and Anya Peters.

The Student Government Association’s Teacher of the Year Award, meanwhile, was given to Math Prof. Stephen Pennell (recipient of the 2016 Manning Prize for Excellence in Teaching award).

Also recognized during the symposium were 36 faculty members who received promotion or tenure in 2017, 86 new faculty hires and the top 30 recipients of research expenditures.

The winners of the University of Massachusetts President's Office’s 2017 Creative Economy Awards and Science and Technology Awards were recognized, as were the winners of the UMass Lowell internal seed awards (which are funded by the Joseph P. Healey Endowment fund, the Public Services Endowment fund and the Vice Chancellor for Research and Innovation).

— With additional reporting by Edwin Aguirre