9th Annual iCons Senior Expo Features Research Finding From Largest Graduating Class

Image of the Class of 2022

On Thursday, May 5, the UMass Integrated Concentration in STEM (iCons) Program gathered together their largest graduating class at the 9th Annual iCons Senior Exposition. The graduating cohort, known as the “9th Bit,” is the largest group yet to complete the rigorous four-year certificate program, with 36 students graduating the program in 2022.

Dean of the UMass College of Engineering, Sanjay Raman, gave the official welcome to all those present. Dean Raman said, “The iCons Program is the gold standard for preparing our STEM undergraduates to collaboratively tackle the world’s most pressing problems. I am inspired by the hard work and perseverance of this group of seniors, and look forward to the positive impacts they will have on society and on our planet.”

The iCons Senior Exposition featured 32 posters and 4 keynote presentations on research into societal problems in health, energy, sustainability, disease, and the environment. The following students were chosen based on a nomination process to deliver keynote presentations on their research:

  • Abigail Guinan, natural resources conservation and biology double major, “Migrations in the Age of Climate Change: What About Plants?”
  • Lorenzo Hernandez, biology, “Are Antibiotics Obsolete?”
  • Herlin Rijo, computer science, “Resumeble: A New Way to Apply for Jobs”
  • Hayley McIsaac '23, biochemistry and microbiology, Phoebe Lasic-Ellis '23, bachelor’s degree with individual concentration, Sarah Kaunfer, microbiology, and Simran Jeet, biology, “Microbeblaster: An Antifouling Approach for Preventing Hospital-Acquired Infections”

Following all 36 presentations, iCons Executive Director Scott Auerbach and iCons Academics Director Justin Fermann presented the seniors with their completion certificates and ceremonial golden cords. The cords represent the strength that comes from bringing together many threads – that is, bringing together a diversity of people and thought in tackling real world problems.

“It's particularly meaningful that the iCons 9th cohort enjoyed an in-person Senior Exposition,” says Auerbach. “They’ve been working together all year long on refining their research projects and presentations; it’s only fitting that they could complete their iCons career together in the same room.”

The iCons Senior Exposition concluded with an awards ceremony recognizing both alumni and current students. The Mahoney Alumni Award for the iCons Program, given to an alumna(us) who personifies iCons attitudes and skills, was given to Jacob Lytle ’16, chemistry, who teaches high school science in Fall River, Massachusetts, using the iCons collaborative and case-study approach. Lytle was congratulated by Bob Mahoney ’70, chemistry, who also lauded the entire graduating class on the importance of their work.

Accolades continued with the awarding to two rising iCons seniors and one rising iCons 2 student of the Crowley-Nowick Award for iCons Student Leadership and Philanthropy and the Crowley-Nowick Scholarship respectively. The Crowley-Nowick Award for iCons Student Leadership and Philanthropy, given annually by iCons advisory board chairperson, Peg Crowley-Nowick ‘86, supports students who embody the iCons mission by exhibiting strong community-building skills as determined by their peers. The 2022 Crowley-Nowick Award winners are Kathryne (“Kitty”) Lovell ’23, civil and environmental engineering, Ravid Inbar ‘23, biochemistry and molecular biology and psychology double major. The Crowley-Nowick Scholarship recipient is Hannah Lee ‘25, biology.