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Six UMass Amherst Faculty Recognized Among Most Highly Cited Researchers

AMHERST — Six campus researchers in the College of Natural Sciences (CNS) at UMass Amherst have been recognized among the world’s most highly cited researchers in 2020 by London-based Clarivate Analytics, owner of the Web of Science. They have consistently had high citation counts over a decade.

Now in its seventh year, the citation analysis identifies influential researchers as determined by their peers around the world. They are judged to be influential, and their citation records are seen as “a mark of exceptional impact,” the company says.

The six from UMass Amherst are environmental chemist Baoshan Xing in CNS’s Stockbridge School of Agriculture, Distinguished Professor of Food Science David Julian McClements and food scientist Hang Xiao, microbiologist Kelly Nevin Lovley, materials scientist Thomas Russell, and Vincent Rotello, the Charles A. Goessmann Professor of Chemistry and a Distinguished Professor of Chemistry. All are repeat members of the list.

McClements is internationally known for his cutting-edge work in food design and nanotechnology, including encapsulating nutraceuticals in nanoparticles to preserve nutrients. Xiao’s lab focuses on molecular mechanisms and interactions of possible disease-preventing nutraceuticals to enhance nutrient bioavailability through food processing and nanotechnology, among other topics.

Nevin Lovley’s lab, part of the Geobacter Project, works to determine the electron transport chain in these bacteria with a goal to develop techniques to optimize the cells’ electrical production for better fuel-cell performance, among other goals. The Rotello lab takes a multi-disciplinary approach, bringing chemistry, biology, and biomedical engineering to tailor nanomaterials to develop new biological applications.

Russell, internationally known as an inventor, names his lab’s research interests in polymer phase transition, polymers’ surface and interfacial properties, directed self-assembly processes, and using polymers as scaffolds and templates to generate nanoscopic structures. Environmental scientist Xing’s lab focuses on protecting the environment by maintaining and improving soil and water quality. This includes investigating the behavior and agricultural application of engineered nanomaterials and using spectroscopic and analytical instruments to study interactions among organic compounds, natural organic matter, and mineral particles.

The highly cited list, announced from the company’s U.S. office in Philadelphia, names a total of about 3,400 highly cited researchers in science and social-science fields. The company says it focuses on contemporary research achievement, and only highly cited papers in science and social-science journals indexed in the Web of Science Core Collection during the most recent 11-year period are surveyed.

Two years ago, Highly Cited Researchers introduced a new cross-field category to identify researchers with substantial influence across several fields during the data census period. At UMass Amherst, Nevin Lovley and Rotello appear in this category for 2020.

“There is no unique or universally agreed concept of what constitutes extraordinary research performance and elite status in the sciences and social sciences,” the report’s editors point out. “Consequently, no quantitative indicators will reveal a list that satisfies all expectations or requirements. Moreover, a different basis or formula for selection would generate a different, though likely overlapping, list of names. Thus, the absence of a name on our list cannot be interpreted as inferior performance or stature in comparison to those selected.”

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