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AMHERST — Jeanne Hardy, associate professor of Chemistry, whose research focuses on a key protein linked to neurological disorders such as Alzheimer’s disease, is being recognized with the inaugural Mahoney Life Sciences Prize at UMass Amherst.

A panel of expert judges from the life-sciences sector observed that the “biomedical implications are significant” and “this could turn out to be one of ‘the’ pivotal studies in the effort to combat Alzheimer’s.” Hardy will receive the prize and present her research with life-sciences experts and UMass officials and scientists at a breakfast ceremony on Tuesday, June 19 at the UMass Club in Boston.

Established by UMass Amherst alumni Richard, Robert, and William Mahoney, the $10,000 prize is intended to recognize scientists from the university’s College of Natural Sciences whose work significantly advances connections between research and industry. The prize will be awarded annually to one faculty member who is the principal author of a peer-reviewed paper about original research. Eligible papers can be on any topic in the life sciences that focuses on new research with translatable applications to industry and society.

“Professor Hardy’s research rose to the top of three highly competitive rounds of review,” said Tricia Serio, dean of the College of Natural Sciences. “Her work exemplifies the outstanding translational research for which our faculty are well known.”

Hardy’s research paper, “Multiple Proteolytic Events in Caspase-6 Self-activation Impacts Conformations of Discrete Structural Regions,” was published in Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences in September 2017.

A crystallographer and protein engineer who has developed tools and techniques for determining the structure and design of proteins, Hardy has for several years intensively investigated a group of ‘molecular scissors’ — so named because they cut up proteins — known as caspases that are active in programmed cell death and inflammation. In particular, one known as caspase-6 is associated with neurological disorders such as Alzheimer’s and Huntington’s diseases. Recently, Hardy called caspase-6 “an attractive molecular target for treatment of neurodegeneration,” and her lab has been characterizing the structural details of caspase-6 activation and function.

In their most recent research, Hardy used a new approach to reveal “distinct conformational dynamics in critical regions of the caspase-6 structure” that had not been observable by any other techniques. As a result, she said, they offer two important new findings that shed more light on caspase-6’s mechanisms, and the changes they describe “may inspire approaches for manipulating caspase-6 in the context of neurodegeneration.” The new molecular details of caspase-6 dynamics “provide a comprehensive scaffold for strategic design of therapeutic approaches to neurodegenerative disorders.”

The nine other CNS faculty who were named as finalists in the Mahoney Prize competition will also participate in the June 19 event in Boston. They are Min Chen, chemistry; Peter Chien, biochemistry and molecular biology; Lili He, food science; Derek Lovley, microbiology; Leonid Pobezinsky, veterinary and animal sciences; Vincent Rotello, chemistry; S. Thuyumanavan, chemistry; Richard Vachet, chemistry, and Dong Wang, biochemistry and molecular biology.

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LONGMEADOW — Charles Coe, a Massachusetts-based poet and writer, will address Bay Path University’s 2018 graduating class at its 121st commencement to be held Saturday, May 12, at 4 p.m. at the MassMutual Center in Springfield. More than 1,000 students will have earned specialist in education, master’s and bachelor’s degrees.

Coe will be one of two honorary degree recipients to be recognized at the ceremony. The author of two books of poetry, All Sins Forgiven: Poems for my Parents and Picnic on the Moon, Coe has published poems in literary reviews and anthologies including PoesisMom EggSolstice Literary Review, and Urban Nature. Selected by the Associates of the Boston Public Library as a “Boston Literary Light for 2014,” he is also the recipient of a poetry fellowship from the Massachusetts Cultural Council, a fellow of St. Botolph Club of Boston, and the 2016-17 artist-in-residence for the city of Boston. In that role, he developed a community-based story collection called What You Don’t Know About Me, about people who live and work in or near Boston’s Mission Hill. He combined the art of storytelling with photographs to produce a series of stand-alone essays that would allow the subjects to share with the reader surprising aspects of their lives.

Vana Nespor, who retired from Bay Path in 2017, will also be a recipient of an honorary degree at the 2018  ommencement. Joining Bay Path in 1999, she was instrumental in launching the radical One-Day Program for adult women on the Longmeadow campus. In time, additional locations across the state were open to accommodate the overwhelming demand of the program, transforming the lives of thousands of women. She also played a key role in the development of the American Women’s College, an innovative learning model serving adult women online.

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SPRINGFIELD — Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist and bestselling author Anna Quindlen will deliver the commencement address at the 132nd Springfield College undergraduate commencement exercises on Sunday, May 13 at 9:30 a.m. at the MassMutual Center in Springfield.

Philanthropist and business executive Greg Toczydlowski will speak at the Springfield College graduate commencement ceremony on Saturday, May 12 at 9:30 a.m. on the College’s main campus.

Quindlen balances the political with the personal and has been followed by millions of readers for her perspectives on today’s issues, from family, work, and education to healthcare, philanthropy, and social justice.

“We are honored to welcome Anna Quindlen to Springfield as our 2018 undergraduate commencement speaker,” said Mary-Beth Cooper, Springfield College president. “Her life’s work not only serves as a shining example of the possibilities for our graduates who seek to build a socially and economically resilient society, it also aligns with our Springfield College mission of leadership in service to others.”

Twelve of Quindlen’s books, including seven of her novels, have appeared on the New York Times bestseller list. Her latest novel, Alternate Side, was released in March. It is a provocative look at what it means to be a mother, a wife, and a woman at a moment of reckoning.

Quindlen serves on the board of the Planned Parenthood Federation of America, and is an American Academy of Arts and Sciences Fellow. The Child Welfare League of America established the Anna Quindlen Award for Excellence in Journalism on Behalf of Children and Families.

Toczydlowski is president of Business Insurance. He is a member of the company’s operating committee and management committee. Since joining Travelers in 1990, he has had diverse management assignments, including leading operations across captive, direct, and independent-agent distribution outlets. Previously, he was president of Small Commercial Business Insurance.

“As an alumnus and now trustee of the college, Greg is the perfect speaker for the college during these exciting times that are upon us,” Cooper said. “His multifaceted roles as a business executive, philanthropist, proud father of two college students, and a weekend farmer make him a natural choice to speak to our graduate students on this special day.”

Toczydlowski is the current chair of the Springfield College board of trustees, serving as a trustee since 2011. He has a bachelor’s degree from Springfield College and an MBA from the University of Hartford. He is a member of the board of directors for the United Way of Central and Northeastern Connecticut.

The ceremonies are open to the public. If you have a disability and require a reasonable accommodation to fully participate in this event, contact the Office of Communications at (413) 748-3171 to discuss your accessibility needs. Springfield College is a smoke- and tobacco-free campus.

Daily News

AGAWAM — The Local Farmer Awards, funded by a group of philanthropic leaders and businesses, recently gave $135,000 in awards to 59 farmers operating in Western Mass. to fund infrastructure improvements on their farms. Each award winner received up to $2,500 through a competitive application process for projects that will help them expand their businesses, compete in the marketplace, and continue providing the health and environmental benefits of local farming.

Now in its fourth year, the awards have increased the number of farmers supported, from 33 in the first year to 59 this year, thanks to 10 funders, including Big Y and the Harold Grinspoon Charitable Foundation, along with a team of sponsors: HP Hood LLC, Friendly’s, PeoplesBank, Springfield Sheraton Monarch Place, Ann and Steve Davis, Baystate Health, Farm Credit East, and Florence Bank.

More than half of the award winners have been in business no more than 10 years. “Western Massachusetts’ agricultural roots run deep, and we have long been known as one of the primary growing regions in New Englandm” said Charlie D’Amour, president and chief operating officer of Big Y. “Today, alongside families who have been farming for generations, a new crop of young farming families and entrepreneurs are continuing this fine tradition. At Big Y, we are pleased to continue our own 80-plus year tradition of supporting these farmer families by joining with the Harold Grinspoon Charitable Foundation and other sponsors to provide grants and opportunities for this important part of our region’s economy and culture.”

Matthew Bannister, first vice president for marketing and innovation at PeoplesBank, a new sponsor for 2018, added that “PeoplesBank is proud to support our local farmers and their innovative ideas. We congratulate the awardees and thank the entire local farming community for their efforts.”

The four counties of Western Massachusetts feature an abundance of farms; more than 800 farms in the region have sales greater than $10,000 — a requirement for the award application.

Recognizing that agriculture is such a strong regional force, Harold Grinspoon founded the Local Farmer Awards four years ago. “I have so much enjoyed being part of the Local Farmer Awards program,” he said. “Farmers are amazing — so hardworking and industrious. It is an absolute pleasure to get to know them.”

Berkshire Grown and Community Involved in Sustaining Agriculture, advocates for farming and agriculture in the region, have provided advice and support for this program since its inception. A farmer appreciation event will be held in late fall 2018 to recognize all applicants and promote the importance of local agriculture. For a list of the award winners with their project titles, click here.

Daily News

HOLYOKE — Holyoke Community College recently welcomed Moira Maguire as its new dean of Social Sciences.

Maguire most recently served as dean of Liberal Arts at Schenectady County Community College in New York. Before that, she spent 12 years as a professor of history at the University of Arkansas in Little Rock, where she was a tenured faculty member and served as a department chair and course coordinator.

She holds a Ph.D. in history from American University, a master’s degree in history from Northeastern University, and a bachelor’s degree in political science and history from George Washington University.

As a teacher and scholar specializing in 20th-century Irish history, Maguire spent more than 10 years at the University of Ireland Maynooth, where her research on infanticide and the Irish government’s care of unwed mothers and their children led to many articles and a book, Cherished Equally? Precarious Childhood in Independent Ireland. She has also worked as a consultant for the BBC on documentaries related to her research.

As dean of Social Science, she will oversee six academic departments: Education, Criminal Justice, Human Services, Critical Cultural Studies (Economics, Geography, History, Philosophy, Political Science, and Women’s Studies), Psychology, and Sociology/Anthropology.

“The combination of her scholarly work, teaching, and administrative experience will no doubt be an asset to the Social Sciences division and the college,” said Monica Perez, HCC vice president of Academic Affairs.

Daily News

AMHERST — Mark Fuller, current dean and Thomas O’Brien Endowed Chair at Isenberg School of Management at UMass Amherst, has been appointed the new vice chancellor for Development and Alumni Relations by UMass Amherst Chancellor Kumble Subbaswamy.

Fuller will succeed Michael Leto, who announced his upcoming retirement last fall. As the university’s chief advancement officer, Fuller will serve on the chancellor’s leadership team and be responsible for short- and long-term plans to improve private support as well as cultivate strong relationships with UMass alumni and supporters. UMass Amherst, the Commonwealth’s flagship campus, has more than 200,000 living alumni.

“Mark is a transformative leader who has fostered a culture of excellence at the Isenberg School of Management, building relationships and growing engagement with alumni of all ages and from a variety of personal and professional backgrounds,” said Subbaswamy. “Educating the next generation of leaders and innovators in Massachusetts will require new levels of private support, as well as public investment, and Mark has the skills, passion, and vision to play a lead role in our success. I am excited to welcome Mark to this critically important position.”

Fuller has led UMass’s Isenberg School of Management since 2009. Under Fuller’s leadership, Isenberg has generated a four-fold increase in annual gift performance since 2010; received a $10 million endowment to create the Berthiaume Center for Entrepreneurship; increased student giving ten-fold; secured private support for the new, $62 million Business Innovation Wing; and created 12 new endowed faculty positions.

“I’m honored and excited to find a new way that I can serve the entire campus,” said Fuller. “Thanks to the incredible vision and leadership of Chancellor Subbaswamy, and Vice Chancellor Mike Leto’s excellent work in guiding us through our last highly successful capital campaign, the campus is poised for great things. Garnering alumni support for the university, in all of its forms, is absolutely critical to our future as a top-20 public university, and I’m passionate about helping make that happen.”

Prior to coming to UMass Amherst, Fuller was a professor and chair of the Department of Information Systems and holder of the Philip L. Kays Distinguished Professorship in Management Information Systems at Washington State University. He received his master’s degree in management and his Ph.D. in management information systems from the University of Arizona’s Eller College of Management. His research focuses on virtual teamwork, technology-supported learning, and trust and efficacy in technology-mediated environments. Prior to Washington State, Fuller was an associate professor at the Hankamer School of Business at Baylor University.

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SPRINGFIELD — BusinessWest is looking for nominees for its fourth Continued Excellence Award, and will accept nominations through Monday, May 14. The winner of the award will be unveiled at the magazine’s 40 Under Forty gala on Thursday, June 21.

Three years ago, BusinessWest inaugurated the award to recognize past 40 Under Forty honorees who had significantly built on their achievements since they were honored. The first two winners were Delcie Bean, president of Paragus Strategic IT, and Dr. Jonathan Bayuk, president of Allergy and Immunology Associates of Western Mass. and chief of Allergy and Immunology at Baystate Medical Center. Both were originally named to the 40 Under Forty class of 2008. Last year, the judges chose two winners: Scott Foster, an attorney with Bulkley, Richardson and Gelinas (40 Under Forty class of 2011); and Nicole Griffin, owner of Griffin Staffing Network (class of 2014).

“So many 40 Under Forty honorees have refused to rest on their laurels,” said Kate Campiti, associate publisher of BusinessWest. “Once again, we want to honor those who continue to build upon their strong records of service in business, within the community, and as regional leaders.”

Candidates must hail from 40 Under Forty classes prior to the year of the award — in this case, classes 2007-17 — and will be judged on qualities including outstanding leadership, dedicated community involvement, professional achievement, and ability to inspire. The award’s presenting sponsor is Northwestern Mutual.

The nomination form is available at businesswest.com/40-under-forty-continued-excellence-award. For your convenience, a list of the past 11 40 Under Forty classes may be found at businesswest.com/40-under-forty/40-under-forty-past-honorees.

Daily News

SPRINGFIELD — A May Day Celebration, a community event to promote the Community Foundation of Western Massachusetts’ Valley Gives and programs and services provided by Dress for Success Western Massachusetts, will be held on Tuesday, May 1.

This event, set to take place from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m., rain or shine, at One Financial Plaza in downtown Springfield, is a way for people to learn more about Dress for Success and contribute to the organization on Valley Gives Day (www.valley-gives.org).

The community is invited to come out and participate. All first-time donors to Dress for Success Western Massachusetts on Valley Gives Day will be matched dollar for dollar, up to $1,000, thanks to donation from Northwestern Mutual. In addition, the first 20 people will receive a May Day basket.

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SPRINGFIELD Expanding its presence on the East Coast, MGM Resorts International will open the doors to MGM Springfield, New England’s first integrated luxury resort and entertainment destination, on Friday, Aug. 24, the company reported.

“A testament to a decade of collaboration between the city of Springfield and MGM Resorts, MGM Springfield will pay tribute to the city’s legacy and celebrate its bright future, while introducing a stellar array of hospitality and entertainment experiences that will attract guests from New England and beyond,” said Michael Mathis, president of MGM Springfield. “We are incredibly proud to debut what we believe will become the region’s premier entertainment destination and play a role in an exciting renaissance for Springfield.”

Added Springfield Mayor Domenic Sarno, “I look forward to working with MGM Springfield for many years to come. They’re a world-class company and an outstanding corporate citizen. I deeply appreciate their belief and investment in our Springfield. I wish them continued success as we create another Springfield first.”

Daily News

SPRINGFIELD — Springfield Technical Community College (STCC) will offer a 10-week course this summer for students who want to start a career as a sterile processing technician.

The Sterile Process Technician credit certification course, which runs June 4 to Aug. 8, will be taught Monday, Tuesday, and Wednesday from 5 to 9 p.m. on the STCC campus, Building 20, Room 334.

The course teaches students vital infection-control techniques to keep hospitals and other medical facilities, as well as surgical instruments, safe and free from the spread of diseases, said Christopher Scott, dean of the School of Health and Patient Simulation.

Subjects covered will include the latest advancements in sterilization processes and anatomy, physiology, microbiology, instrumentation, decontamination, and infection control. Instructors will demonstrate different forms of sterilization. In addition, the training will include a clinical practicum to help students get actual experience in the field.

The six-credit course will prepare students to sit for the SPD Technician Certification Exam and can assist students in getting qualifications to work in a hospital, clinic, or other type of medical center.

For more information about the course and how to get started, e-mail the School of Health & Patient Simulation at [email protected] or call (413) 755-7477. To register for this course, contact the Registrar’s Office at (413) 755-4321 or visit Building 15, first floor.