Five College Area News

Hands-on honors

AMHERST — A UMass researcher, known as a tinkerer and creative thinker, and now as soon-to-be National Academy of Inventors fellow, Alfred J. Crosby says one of the greatest things you can do as an inventor is tell your idea to someone else. “Your idea is not fully mature when it is first made,” said the University of Massachusetts professor of polymer science and engineering. “It becomes mature by others asking questions back at you.” Co-inventor of Geckskin, an industrial-strength adhesive modeled after gecko feet, 0

Controversial schedule changes get OK at Amherst middle school

AMHERST — A new middle school schedule plan, praised by administrators but criticized by many parents and some School Committee members, will go into effect in September, according to Superintendent Maria Geryk. Geryk has decided to move forward with changes designed to create more time for English, math, science and social studies while altering many of the school’s elective programs, including music and world languages. “Schedule decisions are typically very challenging because they always involve tradeoffs,” Geryk wrote. “I appreciate the feedback provided by families, 0

UMass researchers find value in ‘whole plant’ treatment of malaria

AMHERST — Purified drugs created in labs, long thought to be the gold standard in fighting disease, may actually be inferior to the herbal remedies they replaced as far back as the 19th century. University of Massachusetts Amherst scientists Mostafa A. Elfawal, Stephen M. Rich and their team at the UMass Laboratory of Medical Zoology found that malaria parasites in mice adapted several times faster to artemisinin, the drug commonly prescribed for malaria, than ground up Artemisia annua, the plant from which the drug is 0

Renting college textbooks online can save money

AMHERST — At a time when University of Massachusetts students spend about $1,200 a year on textbooks, would the authors of the nearly $300 “Essentials of Investments” advise students to buy a new copy of their own book? That was not the path chosen by finance major Curtis Kowalski of Boxford, for whom the book is a required text in a required course. The UMass junior went online to rent it from Amazon for $55 rather than pay the $270 to get a new copy 0

Throwing light on a black hole

AMHERST — A record-breaking X-ray flare that came from the supermassive black hole at the center of the galaxy, observed by an team led by an Amherst College astronomer, could help scientists better understand how this object 20,000 light years from Earth functions. Daryl Haggard, who joined the Amherst College faculty last fall, said Thursday that the observation and recording of the flare from Sagittarius A*, at the Milky Way’s galactic center, is something that thrills astronomers. “People are really excited about probing these cool 0

Services improved for victims of drunken-driving accidents

NORTHAMPTON — Leaders of a program that helps victims of drunken- driving accidents and other crimes say a new affiliation with a Northampton-based behavioral health agency will strengthen services for the roughly 400 people they try to help each year. Since its start in 1997, the Community Crisis Response Team has provided victims and their families with free services ranging from immediate support after an accident to support groups as well as similar services to victims of other crimes and traumatic accidents. The grant-funded program 0

UMass chancellor ceases confidential informant program

AMHERST — Reactions were mixed to University of Massachusetts Amherst Chancellor Kumble R. Subbaswamy’s announcement Thursday that he would be ending the university police’s student confidential informant program, saying it was “fundamentally inconsistent with the core values of our community.” “The personal, social and ethical costs of the confidential informant program clearly outweigh its benefits,” Subbaswamy wrote in a statement released Thursday. Northwestern District Attorney David E. Sullivan disagreed, saying that it would have been better to continue the program with reforms rather than end 0

UMass, Amazon reach textbook deal

AMHERST — A virtual textbook store, run by the largest online retailer in the United States, will arrive on the University of Massachusetts-Amherst campus this spring, with officials expecting many students to have costs for purchasing classroom materials cut by about one-third. Amazon.com has agreed to a contract with UMass that will create the company’s first online university store in the Northeast and its third in the country, following ones already operating at Purdue University in Indiana and the University of California Davis. Both Amazon 0

UMass reports off-campus student violations decline

AMHERST — The University of Massachusetts-Amherst is reporting a 63 percent decline in off-campus code of conduct violations by students during the fall semester compared to the same period in 2013. The report released by the dean of students office showed 107 students were involved in 83 incidents in the Town of Amherst between Aug. 28 and Dec. 13, 2014. During the fall 2013 semester, 289 students were involved in 227 incidents. The university’s report supports data released by Amherst town officials in December that 0

Families mourn loss of Amherst pediatrician

AMHERST — Long time area pediatrician, Dr. Emlen Jones, has died at age 70. After attending the University of Rochester School of Medicine and getting his medical training at the University of North Carolina, Jones arrived in Amherst in 1978 to join the Valley Health Plan, an HMO with a community-minded focus. In 1986, Valley Health Plan was purchased by Kaiser Permanente, and Jones and his colleagues remained affiliated with that HMO until January 2000, when they split off into a private practice. Dr. Jennifer 0