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The Collegian News Blog

Research this Week

Tuesday, December 2, 2008

Emily Reynolds
Collegian Staff

The Department of Energy has given four research grants to local company Qteros, formerly SunEthanol, who will be building a plant in Springfield starting next year.
The company is based around “Q,” a microbe found in the Quabbin Reservoir by UMass microbiologist Thomas Warnick. Professor Susan Leschine, chief scientist and cofounder of the company, found the qualities of “Q” that will apparently revolutionize energy.

Basically, “Q” will eat plant waste from cars that use ethanol, and then will create more ethanol from the waste, making it a carbon-neutral source of energy.

Qteros has already made huge leaps in the field, increasing productivity by 15 times. According to their website, www.qteros.com, the expense of breaking down plant material has been reduced with a new process, called C3. Complete Cellulosic Conversion makes it so that “Q” can multitask. A four-step process has been turned into a three-step process by making “Q” decompose the plant waste and convert it into ethanol at the same time.

Qteros is being recognized as a contributor to reaching the goals set by president-elect Obama of reducing dependence on foreign fossil fuels. He plans to invest $150 billion into researching clean energy technology, which is great since Congress mandated that 16 billion gallons of biofuels need to be advanced cellulosic biofuels by 2022.

Some people are hoping that the cheaper and energy efficient “Q” will save money, and maybe even spur some economic growth in fields like farming where additional supplies will be used in the lab.
Emily Reynolds can be reached at ereynold@student.umass.edu.
posted by Collegian Staff, 2:36 PM | link | 1 comments |

Research this Week

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Emily Reynolds
Collegian Staff

The University of Massachusetts Amherst gets a lot of funding from the federal government. Close to 70 percent of the money for research on campus comes from federal agencies. Just over $6.5 million of that funding comes from the Department of Defense.

Research from the DOD comes from four places, Navy, Army, Air Force, and the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA). While most students have heard of the three branches of military that give the school money, very few have probably heard of DARPA.
The point of DARPA is to imagine what the US military will need in the future for any endeavor that they take on, and start planning and building for it today. In their words, they want to stop technological surprises for our military and create them for adversaries. Basically, they take a lot of different science and research and see how it can be used for the military.

The agency has five offices: Defense Sciences Office, Information Processing Techniques Office, Microsystems Technology Office, Strategic Technology Office, and Tactical Technology Office.
Each office has dozens of ongoing projects. According to a chart on their website, www.darpa.mil, the agency has around a $7 billion budget for science and technology programs for the armed services.

At UMass, DARPA funded a Disruption Tolerant Networking project, which put devices into 40 buses on the UMass campus in 2005. The point was to "provide network services when no end-to-end path exists through the network." Basically, it creates a way to communicate in areas where the normal means of communication can be destroyed or degraded for long periods of time. It can be used in war zones or during natural disasters.
posted by Collegian Staff, 3:01 AM | link | 1 comments |

SGA brings it 'Back to the People'

Thursday, November 13, 2008

Southwest area government representatives are seeking feedback from Southwest residents to improve future functions.

In an effort to gain insight from members of the Southwest Community, last Tuesday, the South West Area Government and the Southwest Senators presented information at the about past and upcoming events for this year. The talks were dubbed as a "Back to the People" event, and although few members of the Southwest community attended, members of SGA and SWAG intend to act upon their suggestions.

Some of the suggestions included:

- creating a bi-weekly newsletter about SGA and SWAG that would be sent out electronically for anyone interested
- holding an energy conservation contest
The contest would determine how much water and energy is used by each building in Southwest. Prize for the most energy-efficient has not been determined.
- fixing the "noise problems" during weekdays
Evidently, you, the pan flute and drum playing band member, you are an irritating problem at 3 a.m.
- posting minutes on the SGA website to increase communication between SGA and the students

Currently, SWAG places its minutes on their blog located at blogs@umass.edu/SWAG. As SWAG's goal this year is to increase communication with Southwest residents, members have been sending out weekly facebook messages with updates on their activity.

So far this year, SWAG has hosted a band called Stephanian from Boston, aided in the House Council recruitment and election process, and hosted an event known as Southwest Saturday. Southwest Saturday was held in early October, and it featured a BBQ party on the patio between Berkshire and Hampshire.

Southwest governor Chris Faulkner said all the events so far had been a success.

Alyssa Creamer can be reached at acreamer@student.umass.edu.
posted by Collegian Staff, 8:41 PM | link | 0 comments |

Reseach This Week

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Emily Reynolds, Collegian Staff

Last month, the new chancellor, Robert Holub, announced that he was going to appoint a new vice chancellor specifically for Research and Engagement. He came in the form of Paul Kostecki.
It seems that UMass wants to be a leading research institution, something that the administration has been saying for years and has been working towards.
While I do not know if UMass is a premiere research institution, here are some of the facts:
- $135,318,332 awarded for research in 2008
- 1,194 research awards that get the money
- $126,000,000 for research expenditures

All of these are new highs for UMass, with funds going up three percent from last year even with a declining economy.

The majority of the money comes from the federal government, and out of that, nearly half comes from the National Science Foundation. Surprisingly, only seven percent of the money comes from the Department of Defense.

As for specific programs that rank highly in the US, here are some of those:
- US News and World Report lists linguistics as the number 1 program
- National Research Council ranks Polymer as number 2 in the nation
- UMass gives out 27 percent of the nation’s polymer science PhD’s
- In 2004, the London Times ranked the UMass system as 45 from the top 200 school in the world

You can find out all about the new position of Research and Engagement and everything that gets done by going to the website: http://www.umass.edu/research/welcome.html
Emily Reynolds can be reached at ereynold@student.umass.edu.
posted by Collegian Staff, 2:59 PM | link | 1 comments |


Tuesday, November 4, 2008

The Collegian is ready at this point to call the election for Senator Barack Obama from Illinois.

With California and its 55 electoral votes almost certainly in Obama's column, he now only needs to win one of Virginia, Florida, Colorado or Indiana - all races he is currently leading, but are too close to call.
posted by Collegian Staff, 10:56 PM | link | 0 comments |

Democrats get psyched

So, I know who is going to be super duper happy tonight. It totally looks like Obama has not only won this, but slapped the McCain administration across the face. The race is not even close.

I remember being younger and wondering what amazing feat against racism or sexism would come first. Would a the first Black man become President or would the first woman become President? 

Now, it looks like history really will be made. Instead of an old, white guy preparing for the Oval Office, Obama will be the first Black President of the United States. 

He just won Virginia. It's 11 p.m. The polls have now officially closed. This is really happening. Textbooks will have a significant new passage. 

Today, I watched a "rally" by the UMass Democrats. Although only a small group shouted voting reminders to students across campus, this is probably because most students were already busy voting for Obama, and also probably because not many students knew about the rally. 

Either way, students in Amherst really turned out for this election. And a lot of them contributed to the making of history. Kudos, voters. An increase in youth voters is truly something students should be proud of. 

posted by Collegian Staff, 10:48 PM | link | 3 comments |

State votes to ban dog racing

The Boston Globe is reporting Massachusetts has voted "yes" on ballot Question 3 to abolish dog racing.

-Matt Rocheleau
posted by Collegian Staff, 10:31 PM | link | 3 comments |

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