9th Annual iCons Senior Expo Features Research Findings From Largest Class of Graduates: UMass Amherst

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Last week, the UMass Integrated Concentration in STEM (iCons) program gathered its largest cohort at the 9th Annual iCons Senior Expo. The graduating cohort, known as the 9th Bit, is the largest group to complete the rigorous four-year certificate program, with 37 students graduating from the program in 2022.

UMass College of Engineering Dean Sanjay Raman formally welcomed everyone in attendance. 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 I look forward to seeing the positive impacts they will have on society and our planet.

The iCons Senior exhibit featured 32 posters and 4 keynote presentations on research into societal issues in the areas of health, energy, sustainability, disease and the environment. (All iCons work can be found on the iCons Innovation Portal.) The following students were chosen based on a nomination process to give keynote presentations on their research:

  • Abigail Guinanconservation of natural resources and double major in biology, “Migrations in the age of climate change: what about plants?”
  • Lorenzo Hernandezbiology, “Are antibiotics obsolete?
  • Herlin RijoIT, “Resumeble: A New Way to Apply for Jobs”
  • Hayley McIsaacbiochemistry and microbiology, Phoebe Lasic Ellisbaccalaureate with individual concentration, Sarah Kaunfermicrobiology and Jeet Simranbiology, “Microbeblaster: an antifouling approach for the prevention of nosocomial infections”

After the 36 presentations, iCons Executive Director Scott Auerbach and iCons Academic Director Justin Fermann presented the seniors with their certificates of completion and ceremonial gold lanyards. The strings represent the strength that comes from bringing many threads together, that is, bringing together a diversity of people and thoughts to tackle real-world problems.

“It is particularly significant that the 9th cohort of iCons enjoyed senior in-person exposure,” says Auerbach. “They worked together all year to refine their research projects and presentations; it’s only natural that they can end their iCons career together in the same room.

The iCons Senior exhibition concluded with an awards ceremony recognizing both alumni and current students. the Mahoney iCons Alumni Awardsawarded to an elder who personifies the attitudes and skills of iCons, was awarded to Jacob Lytle ’16, Chemistry, who teaches high school science in Fall River, Massachusetts, using iCons’ collaborative, case study approach. Lytle was congratulated by Bob Mahoney ’70, chemistry, who also praised the entire class for their hard work.

The accolades continued with the awarding of two senior iCons up and one sophomore up from Crowley–Nowick Award for student leadership and philanthropy from iCons. This award, given annually by iCons Advisory Board Chair Peg Crowley-Nowick ’86, supports students who embody the mission of iCons by demonstrating strong community building skills, as determined by their peers. The 2022 Crowley-Nowick Prize winners are Kathryne (“Kitty”) Lovell ’23, civil and environmental engineering, Ravid Inbar ’23, double major biochemistry and molecular biology and psychology, and Hannah Lee ’25, biology.

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