5 UMass profs honored for accomplishments

Umass campus 

CAROL LOLLIS

Umass campus CAROL LOLLIS

AMHERST — Five professors in the departments of astronomy, economics, history, chemistry, biochemistry and molecular biology have been named recipients of the Award for Outstanding Accomplishments in Research and Creative Activity, given annually at the University of Massachusetts.

The awards honor faculty whose research has been recognized nationally or internationally.

This year’s honorees are Daniela Calzetti, astronomy; Léonce Ndikumana, economics; Stephen R. Platt, history; Sankaran “Thai” Thayumanavan, chemistry; and Danny J. Schnell, biochemistry and molecular biology.

The five were honored at the ninth annual faculty convocation Friday at Bowker Auditorium in Stockbridge Hall. Faculty are nominated by deans, department heads and their peers, and recommended by a selection committee before the finalists are chosen by Chancellor Kumble R. Subbaswamy.

Below are some details about each of the recipients.

Platt is a historian of 19th-century China. Platt was born in Chicago and grew up in Florence, where he now lives.

Calzetti is the astronomer behind Calzetti’s Law, a mathematical equation to allow for more accurate measurements of the rates by which stars form by removing the effects of dust in galaxies.

She likens her work to cleaning the dust off furniture to restore its shine.

Originally from Rome, she came to the United States in 1990 and is now a resident of Amherst.

Ndikumana, originally from Burundi in central Africa, focuses his research on economic development in Africa, including how international economic policies affect people in Africa, and the problem of “capital flight” in African governments.

Ndikumana lives in Amherst.

Thayumanavan works with pharmaceutical companies and biotechnology firms on a study for developing nanotechnology, or technology at the molecular scale, to reduce the side effects of chemotherapy by directing the drugs directly to the cancer cells — minimizing the amount of healthy cells that are destroyed during treatment.

Thayumanavan, an Amherst resident who grew up in India and came to the United States for graduate school 25 years ago.

Schnell, active in the American Society of Plant Biologists, has published nearly 70 journal articles, reviews and book chapters on his research related to chloroplasts, the organelle responsible for photosynthesis in plants.

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