Senior Mechanical Engineering Major Jamar Hawkins is among a small group of students who have been selected to receive the 2017-2018 UMass Amherst Rising Researcher student achievement award. This award recognizes exceptional UMass Amherst undergraduate students who excel in research, scholarship, or creative activity. Mechanical and Industrial Engineering Professor Yubing Sun nominated Hawkins for the award in recognition of his student’s research and academic achievements conducted under Professor’s Sun’s direction. Read more about the award and previous recipients »
As the UMass Amherst website Research Next explained, Hawkins has a strong interest in biomechanics and bioengineering. A hard-working and highly motivated student, Hawkins has been a member of Sun’s research group since Sun started his lab in 2016. “The lab conducts research in the field of mechanobiology and mechanotransduction, which is the transfer of a mechanical signal or load to a cellular response,” says Hawkins.
Hawkins specifically works on modeling the physical effects of the extracellular matrix (ECM) on cells using microfluidic devices and automated pneumatic regulators. He initially worked on an automated pressure-based cell-stretching device that could emulate the changing conditions of the ECM to allow the study of cellular behavior in an environment that is more similar to it.
“Jamar has made tremendous contributions to the equipment setup and assay development in the lab as well as made significant progress on his project of making a programmable, local cell stretching device to study how mechanical forces regulate cell behaviors,” says Sun.
Hawkins is co-author of a book chapter in Methods in Molecular Biology (Springer, 2017) based on his work in developing cell force sensors. Another manuscript based on his current work is in preparation, says Sun.
“Jamar will pursue a doctoral degree after graduation with me. I am delighted that I will have such a talented student,” says Sun.
In recognition of this honor, Hawkins, his advisor, and two special guests (such as parents, guardians, or partner), will be invited to a reception hosted by Chancellor and Mrs. Subbaswamy in the spring. As part of this special recognition, the winners will receive handsome engraved awards, special recognition in campus publicity, and an opportunity for them, their advisors, and special guests to meet the Chancellor and Mrs. Subbaswamy at the event held in honor of the 2017-2018 Rising Researchers.
The Rising Researcher award is sponsored by the Vice Chancellors for University Relations and Research and Engagement. (November 2017)