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News Article | April 26, 2017

"Frogs of the World" represents the first-ever use of 3D technology to preserve accurate, high-resolution models of some of the most endangered frog species on the planet, say Irschick and members of the interdisciplinary Digital Life team. Many of the 3D models released today were created with a new photogrammetry rig created by UMass Amherst undergraduate Trevor Mayhan called the "Beastcam MACRO," customized for small live animals. It is part of the broader Beastcam technology platform designed for rapidly capturing high-resolution, full-color 3D models of living organisms, Irschick explains. The Digital Life team is using this technology to create accurate, high-resolution models of all life on earth. Tatjana Dzambazova of the 3D design and software firm Autodesk, Inc. and a member of the Digital Life advisory committee, says the 3D models already captured - of frogs, sharks, scorpions, toads, lizards, flowers and invertebrates—can be useful as educational tools in virtual reality or in other computer software, and can be 3D printed to educate children about animal diversity. Also, models can benefit scientists because they represent true-to-life digital replicas of live organisms, enabling a range of new scientific inquiries. "Imagine a comprehensive, true-to-life 3D library of all the existing species in the world available online to anyone. With technology developed by Digital Life and accessible tools such as Autodesk ReMake, technology today can help us understand and appreciate the natural world around us in a new way," she adds. Digital Life's new online 3D frog images include some of the rarest frogs on earth, such as the Panamanian golden frog, Atelopus zeteki, as well as more common species such as the horned frog Ceratophrys. They were scanned in the field in the Philippines by researchers from the University of Oklahoma, as well as at Zoo Atlanta, the Amphibian Foundation and at UMass Amherst. Their photogrammetric process integrates 2D digital photos into 3D models using software such as ReMake. Digital Life director Irschick explains that he and his team hope that making 3D models of living animals will promote conservation, science and research, and public awareness, not only for endangered species but for more common ones that are crucial to ecosystems around the world. "In a race against time, I believe that Digital Life has taken a large step forward in preserving the heritage of these frogs," says photographer Christine Shepard, a member of the Digital Life team. Mark Mandica, executive director of the Amphibian Foundation, a partner on the Frogs of the World project, says the models will provide needed support for the worldwide effort to conserve frog species. The amphibians represent a good test case for the Digital Life's project, he adds. "Aside from frogs facing global population declines, they represent some of the greatest biodiversity the earth has to offer. Frogs are virtually limitless in color and pattern variation, as well as shapes and sizes," he notes. Joseph Mendelson, director of research at Zoo Atlanta, points out that approximately 38 percent of all amphibians face significant threats from development, climate change or the chytrid fungus. Cameron Siler at the University of Oklahoma adds, "In addition to their conservation value, these models show the promise of using 3D technology to digitally preserve specimens for biodiversity and museum-based research." Explore further: New 'digital life' initiative aims to create 3-D models of all living creatures

Evans A.A.,UMass Amherst | Silverberg J.L.,Cornell University | Santangelo C.D.,UMass Amherst
Physical Review E - Statistical, Nonlinear, and Soft Matter Physics | Year: 2015

Origami-based design holds promise for developing materials whose mechanical properties are tuned by crease patterns introduced to thin sheets. Although there have been heuristic developments in constructing patterns with desirable qualities, the bridge between origami and physics has yet to be fully developed. To truly consider origami structures as a class of materials, methods akin to solid mechanics need to be developed to understand their long-wavelength behavior. We introduce here a lattice theory for examining the mechanics of origami tessellations in terms of the topology of their crease pattern and the relationship between the folds at each vertex. This formulation provides a general method for associating mechanical properties with periodic folded structures and allows for a concrete connection between more conventional materials and the mechanical metamaterials constructed using origami-based design. © 2015 American Physical Society.

Svore K.M.,Microsoft | Kanani P.H.,UMass. Amherst | Khan N.,Microsoft
SIGIR 2010 Proceedings - 33rd Annual International ACM SIGIR Conference on Research and Development in Information Retrieval | Year: 2010

Ranking search results is a fundamental problem in information retrieval. In this paper we explore whether the use of proximity and phrase information can improve web retrieval accuracy. We build on existing research by incorporating novel ranking features based on flexible proximity terms with recent state-of-the-art machine learning ranking models. We introduce a method of determining the goodness of a set of proximity terms that takes advantage of the structured nature of web documents, document metadata, and phrasal information from search engine user query logs. We perform experiments on a large real-world Web data collection and show that using the goodness score of flexible proximity terms can improve ranking accuracy over state-of-the-art ranking methods by as much as 13%. We also show that we can improve accuracy on the hardest queries by as much as 9% relative to state-of-the-art approaches. © 2010 ACM.

News Article | November 8, 2016

AMHERST, Mass. - The Cornell Douglas Foundation, an environmental health and justice advocacy group based in Bethesda, Md., has named University of Massachusetts Amherst environmental health scientist Laura Vandenberg one of its 2016 Pearl Award winners in recognition of her "outstanding leadership in conducting critical research to identify and address the many issues concerning endocrine disruptors." The national honor comes with a $50,000 check to Vandenberg, who says, "This award is given to someone who is an irritant, someone who has perhaps encountered trouble because of the science they do, specifically in environmental health. I donated the funds to the campus so that my lab can continue to 'cause trouble' and work to improve agencies like EPA and the FDA as they make decisions about chemical safety." Vandenberg, an assistant professor of environmental health sciences at UMass Amherst's School of Public Health and Health Sciences (SPHHS), is an internationally known expert on the effects of endocrine disrupting chemicals on development and how environmental exposures in early life can contribute to adult diseases including breast cancer, infertility and obesity. She uses molecular, genetic, tissue-based and endocrine tools to investigate such chemicals as bisphenol A and S (BPA and BPS) and others used as plasticizers, in flame retardants and cosmetics. SPHHS Dean Marjorie Aelion says, "Dr. Vandenberg does it all, from being an excellent teacher to leading a highly-funded research laboratory. This award is unique, and does not recognize her for these accomplishments. Rather it recognizes her advocacy for the environment based on science, and her role in bringing this science to the larger community and environmental policymakers. What an incredible honor for an assistant professor." As the foundation explains, it named its award for the pearl, noting that each jewel starts as a grain of sand, an intrusion that creates a blister "conceived in pain." Vandenberg says she deeply appreciates the metaphor and it is fitting to her career. As a vocal critic of regulatory agencies' oversight of chemicals in consumer goods, her comments have appeared in Newsweek, Time, Huffington Post, Mother Jones, National Public Radio, USA Today, The Boston Globe, Consumer Reports and Scientific American. "I started causing trouble 10 years ago as a graduate student, which maybe is early to stick your neck out," she says. "I have taken personal and professional risks by challenging the safety of chemicals worth billions of dollars. That is an uncomfortable place for a young scientist to be; it can be scary. But I had a lot encouragement that as long as the science guides my recommendations, then it's the right thing to do. I do it because the science is strong, and because advocating for public health is the most important thing I can do in my career." She adds, "To get an award like this is incredible. Although the work done in my lab is funded by NIH, a lot of my other research projects really can't be funded in the conventional way. A good portion of my work in environmental health is about policy, about changing approaches to protect public health and pushing for regulatory change. That is not a typical science endeavor. But it's the most important work I'll ever do in my life, to try to fix some of the big gaps in chemical safety assessment that are evident today." Vandenberg says that as a society, "we've gotten better about big environmental problems such as clean air, clean water and waste disposal. At the same time, we've allowed thousands of chemicals to be placed on the market with little or no testing. And, there are more cases of cancer, asthma, autism and metabolic syndrome than ever before. Those increases can't be due to genetic changes in the human population because the genome doesn't change that quickly." There are now thousands of papers showing associations between low level chemical exposures from consumer products and disease, she notes. Either the studies are all wrong, "or we are slowly being poisoned by these low exposures," she adds. "If that is true, what we thought was safe for us is not. I want a rethinking of how we figure out what is safe and what do we do about these low level exposures that we dismissed for a long time because they seemed benign." "When you think about bad water and air pollution you can see the problem. Nobody is thinking of being polluted by canned food or their hand lotion." Vandenberg says her immediate response to winning the Pearl Award was that someone else must be ahead of her in line, "because there are people much more senior to me that deserve it. I've benefited so much from people who came before me, my mentors. This award is given to people who have already accomplished something. I feel I'm just beginning to do something, so I'm grateful. This gift will give me the freedom to think about my next project." Vandenberg's colleague, biology professor R. Thomas Zoeller, himself an internationally known expert on endocrine disrupting chemicals, says, "There is no doubt in my mind that Professor Vandenberg is a rising superstar and this award is just one recognition of this. She has made major contributions to the science of environmental and public health, changing the way we think about fundamental issues. I have great admiration and respect for her work. What's more, she is a gifted scholar and teacher who has great passion for public health protection and for higher education. UMass Amherst is incredibly lucky to have her here!"

Firmani D.,University of Rome Tor Vergata | Saha B.,UMass Amherst | Srivastava D.,AT and T Labs Research
Proceedings of the VLDB Endowment | Year: 2016

Entity resolution (ER) is the task of identifying all records in adatabase that refer to the same underlying entity. This is an expensivetask, and can take a significant amount of money and time; theend-user may want to take decisions during the process, rather thanwaiting for the task to be completed. We formalize an online versionof the entity resolution task, and use an oracle which correctlylabels matching and non-matching pairs through queries. In thissetting, we design algorithms that seek to maximize progressive recall,and develop a novel analysis framework for prior proposalson entity resolution with an oracle, beyond their worst case guarantees.Finally, we provide both theoretical and experimental analysisof the proposed algorithms. © 2016 VLDB Endowment 21508097/16/01.

Demers M.F.,Fairfield University | Zhang H.-K.,UMass Amherst
Communications in Mathematical Physics | Year: 2013

We present a functional analytic framework based on the spectrum of the transfer operator to study billiard maps associated with perturbations of the periodic Lorentz gas. We show that recently constructed Banach spaces for the billiard map of the classical Lorentz gas are flexible enough to admit a wide variety of perturbations, including: movements and deformations of scatterers; billiards subject to external forces; nonelastic reflections with kicks and slips at the boundaries of the scatterers; and random perturbations comprised of these and possibly other classes of maps. The spectra and spectral projections of the transfer operators are shown to vary continuously with such perturbations so that the spectral gap enjoyed by the classical billiard persists and important limit theorems follow. © 2013 Springer-Verlag Berlin Heidelberg.

Sievert L.L.,UMass Amherst
American Journal of Human Biology | Year: 2013

Up to 75% of women in the US report having experienced hot flashes during the menopausal transition. The purpose of this review is to describe the physiology of hot flashes, and the ways in which hot flashes have been examined by subjective report and by objective measurement. Hot flashes occur because of an activation of the heat dissipation response, possibly triggered by a hypothalamic mechanism within the context of declining estrogen levels. There is cross-population variation in the frequency of self-reported hot flashes, although cross-study comparisons are problematic because of incompatibilities in study design. Diaries are a good way to collect information on the time and severity of hot flashes, and body diagrams allow researchers to study the pattern of heat and sweating. Hot flashes can be objectively measured by increases in heart rate, finger blood flow, respiratory exchange ratio, skin temperature, and core body temperature. Sternal skin conductance is the method most highly correlated with subjective hot flash report. In a laboratory, concordance between subjective report and sternal skin conductance can approach 100%. Ambulatory monitoring allows for the tracking of hot flashes during a woman's daily routine or sleep; however, concordance is much lower with ambulatory, compared to laboratory, monitoring. The study of hot flashes at menopause provides a model for the study of any experience that can be assessed by both self-report and biometric measurement. © 2013 Wiley Periodicals, Inc.

Sievert L.L.,UMass Amherst | Masley A.,UMass Amherst
Menopause | Year: 2015

Objective Hot flashes are commonly associated with menopause, and some researchers have questioned whether the widespread phenomenon may somehow be adaptive. It has been hypothesized that hot flashes were selected to occur during the hypoestrogenic postpartum period as a mechanism to warm infants. The purpose of this study was to test whether postpartum hot flashes are similar to hot flashes associated with menopause and whether postpartum hot flashes are concordant with breast-feeding episodes. Methods Women who gave birth within the past year (n = 20) and a comparison group of women who had not given birth in the past 2 years (n = 14) participated in interviews and anthropometric measures. All wore ambulatory skin conductance monitors for a mean of 6.5 hours during afternoons and early evenings. New mothers also recorded breast-feeding episodes. Objectively measured and subjectively reported hot flashes were compared between groups and in relation to breast-feeding and other variables. Results Age of infants ranged from 4 days to 11 months. New mothers were more likely to report feeling warmer than the comparison group (100% vs 7%) but were not significantly more likely to demonstrate hot flashes (35% vs 50%) or to report hot flashes (30% vs 21%) during the study period. Of 75 breast-feeding episodes, only 4% were concurrent with an objective hot flash, and only 9% were concurrent with a subjective hot flash. Conclusions This study does not support the hypothesis that menopausal-like hot flashes evolved to warm infants during the postpartum period. © 2014 by The North American Menopause Society.

Objectives: To characterize challenges experienced during stages of female-to-male sex transition and investigate associations between transition-specific measures of psychosocial stress, nocturnal decline in ambulatory blood pressure (amBP), and changes in C-reactive protein (CRP) levels. Methods: For this biocultural study, 65 healthy transmen who were using testosterone (T) therapy participated in interviews to assess transition-specific stress experience. They provided perceived stress scores, self-esteem scores, 24-h amBP measures, salivary samples for T levels, and a blood spot for CRP levels. Psychosocial stress was examined in relation to amBP and CRP using linear regression while adjusting for age, body mass index, and smoking. Results: There were no differences in mean levels of amBP in association with stage of transition. Men reporting stress associated with being "out" as transgender had significantly diminished nocturnal decline in systolic and diastolic amBP compared to men who did not report such stress. The associations remained significant when examined among men in stages 1 and 2 (≤3 years on T), but not among men in stage 3 (>3 years on T) of transition. Men reporting stress related to "passing" as someone born male had higher CRP levels than those who did not report such stress. The association remained significant when examined among men in stages 2 and 3 (>0.5-3 years on T). Conclusion: Measures of stress that captured individuals' experiences of gender liminality were associated with diminished nocturnal decline in amBP and increased levels of CRP. There are significant differences between men grouped into different stages of the transition process. © 2011 Wiley Periodicals, Inc.

Strain-gated logic devices are important for the development of advanced flexible electronics. Using a dual-monolayer-promoted film-transfer technique, a flexible multilayer structure capable of undergoing large compressive deformation was prepared. Formation of a crease in the gap between electrodes at a geometrically tunable strain leads to formation of an electrical connection in a reversible and reproducible fashion. A strain-gated electrical switch includes at least two conductive electrodes disposed on a surface of an elastomer substrate, the at least two conductive electrodes forming a gap between the at least two electrodes in an off-state of the strain-gated electrical switch, the gap diminishing under compressive strain to form a crease, the compressive strain pressing the at least two electrodes into contact with each other in an on-state of the strain-gated electrical switch.

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