iCons poised to transform STEM education

A $1.25 million investment expands pioneering multi-disciplinary program at UMass Amherst  The Integrated Concentration in Science program at the University of Massachusetts Amherst, also known as UMass iCons, is revolutionizing science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM) education, and will be expanding its reach thanks to a substantial gift that will foster more interdisciplinary research and expand the science learning model to other institutions.    Launched in 2010, the UMass iCons program has produced six cohorts of graduates who are already transforming their fields, communities, and the culture of scientific exploration. The program encourages and teaches undergraduate STEM researchers to collaborate across disciplines and exert leadership in tackling global problems, with an emphasis on communicating science to a wider audience.  Thanks to a gift of $1.25 million over five years from the Mahoney family—longtime UMass supporters including Richard J. Mahoney ’55 and Barbara M. Mahoney ’55, William E. Mahoney ’55, and Robert M. Mahoney ’70 and Kathleen S. Mahoney ’70—the College of Natural Sciences will significantly expand the reach of the UMass iCons program by educating more students, positively impacting the commonwealth, and spreading the program’s pioneering educational approaches to other institutions.  “This way of learning is not...
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Green and growing

New rankings show UMass as agricultural and sustainability leader  After achieving a Top 25 ranking nationwide among public universities, UMass Amherst has once again distinguished itself among universities nationally and globally in specialized rankings reports set out this fall by US News & World Report and Princeton Review.  Princeton Review Top 50 Green Colleges  For the fifth year in a row, the University of Massachusetts Amherst has been named to the Princeton Review’s list of Top 50 Green Colleges, recognizing schools that have “superb sustainability practices, a strong foundation in sustainability education, and a healthy quality of life for students on campus.” The list is included in the new 2019 edition of “The Princeton Review Guide to 413 Green Colleges.” Ranked No. 30 this year out of the 413 schools profiled, UMass Amherst was also among the Top 50 in 2015, 2016, 2017 and 2018.   The Princeton Review tallied this ranking list based on data from its institutional survey of administrators at the colleges for its Green Rating and its surveys of...
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River, meet ocean

New models demonstrate how dam removal reconnects waterways for healthier ecosystems  From their modeling study of fishes and ecosystems in the Gulf of Maine earlier this year, researchers led by graduate student Beatriz dos Santos Dias and her advisor Adrian Jordaan, environmental conservation and director of the Gloucester Marine Station, report that modeling demonstrates that improving river-ocean connectivity by removing dams not only makes more food available to larger species, but would enhance overall ecosystem functioning.  They believe this is the first study to use historical, landscape-based estimates of anadromous fish species – those that return from the ocean to freshwater rivers to spawn – in the Gulf of Maine to model ecosystem responses. Increasing the numbers of forage fish such as river herring and Atlantic herring could promote energy flow in the gulf and benefit many other species, such as Atlantic cod, flounder and wildlife including marine mammals and seabirds, they note. Details are in a recent issue of PLOS ONE.  “Restored watersheds with incentivized dam removal...
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Cultivating new initiatives for the School of Earth and Sustainability

New co-directors exemplify interdisciplinary collaboration The School of Earth and Sustainability (SES) has announced that Curt Griffin, environmental conservation, and Rob DeConto, geosciences, will serve as co-directors of the school.   Established in 2016, Griffin served as the founding director of the school and was instrumental in bringing together the ambitious interdisciplinary enterprise. In his role as co-director, DeConto will primarily focus on research, faculty engagement and graduate training. Under the leadership of Griffin and DeConto, SES is preparing to broaden its impact with new interdisciplinary research initiatives.  Both will work alongside the SES steering committee to advance the short and long-term goals of the school; including recruitment of high-quality students and faculty, interdisciplinary collaboration, student success, development and outside investment and excellence in research and teaching.   “We are proud to be a global leader in research, education and outreach in the area of sustainability and our participation in the School of Earth and Sustainability reflects that commitment,” says Tricia Serio, dean of the College of Natural Sciences. “SES facilitates the kind of creative, interdisciplinary,...
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Renewed commitment to climate change leadership

NE CASC continues to bring climate science to resource managers for informed decision-making  The U.S. Department of the Interior has renewed its support for the Northeast Climate Adaptation Science Center (NE CASC) at the University of Massachusetts Amherst with a five-year, $4.5 million commitment as the host campus for its six-member consortium of universities, says center co-director professor Richard Palmer. The Northeast region ranges from Maine to Wisconsin and Maryland to Missouri.    Scientists affiliated with the center provide federal, state and other agencies with region-specific results of targeted research on the effects of climate change on ecosystems, wildlife, water and other resources. These are used in resource management and planning. The new agreement continues Interior’s original seven-year, $11 million grant to the NE CASC at UMass Amherst that began in 2011.  One of the web-based tools created by the NE CASC is the Regional Invasive Species and Climate Change (RISCC) Management project, which helps invasive species managers through working groups, information-sharing and targeted research.  Like many of the center’s projects, RISCC...
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