News Highlights

End-of-the-Year iCons Events

Come see what problems iCons students have worked on this Spring 2017!

Thurs  May 4 (3:30-5:30):   iCons 4 Senior Research Expo -- Posters and Talks (ISB Atrium / 135)

Fri  May 5 (3:30-5:30):   iCons 1 & 2 Poster Session and Annual Energy Debate (ISB Atrium / 135)

Wed May 10 (1:00-3:00):  iCons 3 Genomics/Energy Labs -- Innovation Posters (ILC S110)

Sustainability Projects Abroad: Organization Founded by iCons student, Bryan Chua

Sustainability Projects Abroad (SPA) is a registered student organization in the University of Massachusetts Amherst that seeks to serve the world abroad through 100% student-led sustainability projects that local communities can independently run and replicate. If you are able to help spread the word of our RSO and our MinuteFund, we would be really appreciative!

iCons Team Finds Success in the Process

iCons 1 students

Teamwork is essential to iCons.  It is in its blood. 

However, working on a team does not always make the job easier – making the team work takes skill.  Although teamwork is not explicitly taught, a key element of the iCons way is reflection (a skill that iCons 1 students practice often).  Here is one team’s reflection on their first team experience in iCons, where they tackled the problem of antibiotic resistant bacteria in smog.

Team 4 (Achala Narayanan, Alex Main, Erika Allen, and Grace Ortgiesen)

Explore iCons students’ senior research in digital “Student Showcase”

iCons 4 students

Creating nanowires to improve memory storage in everyday devices, looking at the connection between diet and breast cancer risk, and investigating the effects of climate change on aquatic insects - just a few of the real-world challenges that students in the iCons Program's fourth cohort “The Fourth Dimension” are tackling in their iCons 4 research projects.

iCons Student is Named Author

Photo of Tristan Tay

We are so proud of iCons Class of 2017 student, Tristan Tay, whose contributions to UMass Prof Vincent Rotello's lab were recognized, as he was named as an author on the recently published paper on gene editing in the journal ACS Nano entitled, "Direct Cytosolic Delivery of CRISPR/Cas9-Ribonucleoprotein for Efficient Gene Editing".  Tristan did a co-op last semester with a biotech startup in Cambridge, and he will be graduating UMass in Fall 2017, looking to pursue a Md/PhD degree.  

The Seventh Kingdom Tackles Antibiotic Resistance

iCons 1 Team mapping out system related to Antibiotic Resistance

For their first case study, the iCons cohort, The Seventh Kingdom, has chosen to study Antibiotic Resistance.  They are using system diagrams to understand all of the aspects of the problem (political, social, environmental, etc).  This will allow them to pinpoint the area that they want to focus their solution on in order to maximize the impact.

iCons Family Evolves

Justin Fermann

Spring & Summer 2016 saw the graduation of the third cohort of iCons students– known as The Third Axis and also brought about new administrative and instructional leadership of the iCons program. Professor Justin Fermann has moved into the role of iCons Director.  As an instructor in iCons 1 for the last six years, Fermann is ready to take on the challenge of bringing iCons to the next level academically –as the program looks to open a third track and to redevelop the biomedicine lab course. 

Auerbach speaks on 'Agonies and Ecstacies' of iCons Program

Scott Auerbach

Scott Auerbach, founding director of iCons, was the keynote speaker at the 2017 Massachusetts Project Kaleidoscope winter meeting, "Best Practices in STEM and Integrating Undergraduates into Research," at Worcester State University on Wednesday, Jan. 11. His talk is titled, "Keeping Science Real: The Agonies and Ecstasies of the UMass iCons Program." News Office release

Analyzing Breath Fingerprints

Photo of Megan Brady

Can we identify and quantify the presence of hormones in the breath?  This is the question that Megan Brady (iCons ‘2017) is trying to answer through her analysis of “breath fingerprints”.  By breathing into an H2O methanol solution and theoretically trapping the compounds and then testing the liquids using an LCMS instrument, Megan is hoping to get closer.  The ultimate goal of this work--is to be able to help predict things like cancer, as some of these compounds, or volatiles, could be indicators of disease in the body. 

iCons Team presents at MA STEM Summit 2016

iCons presentors

November 1, 2016 found iCons students, Kiki Carey, Rebecca Howard, Erica Light, and Corrine Losch, and iCons instructor, Stephanie Purington standing in front of 60 or so participants in the Massachusetts STEM Summit 2016. And they were smiling.  They were happy to be there, and as Erica Light said, they were "really interested in getting these case studies out to students" -- their enthusiasm was clear.