December 23, 2017

The Quad [Dec. 23-30]: Four things to know from UMass Medical School, QCC and Becker

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Becker College

Courtesy of Becker College

Becker College employees shop to help fulfill the holiday wish lists of children at Worcester’s Chandler Elementary School.

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Thoru Pederson named American Society for Cell Biology fellow

The University of Massachusetts Medical School’s Thoru Pederson, Ph.D., has been named a 2017 fellow of the American Society for Cell Biology.

Pederson — Vitold Arnett Professor of Cell Biology, professor of biochemistry and molecular pharmacology, and associate vice provost for research — was one of 67 scientists to receive the honor, which is bestowed on ASCB members by their peers. Fellows are recognized for their meritorious efforts to advance cell biology and its applications and for their service to ASCB.

“I am very pleased to be inducted as an ASCB fellow,” Pederson said. “The mysteries of the cell have been my science forever and ASCB has been my ‘home’ as a professional society and community since I joined in 1966.”

Pederson’s lab focuses on the functional significance of specific protein-RNA interactions in eukaryotic gene expression, with emphasis on RNA traffic and processing, as well as specialized domains within the cell nucleus. He is investigating the live cell dynamics of CRISPR gene-editing machinery, as well as its potential applications to myotonic dystrophy and ALS.

Pederson was scientific director of the Worcester Foundation for Biomedical Research when it merged with UMass Medical School in 1997. A member of the ASCB for more than 50 years, he was honored with the society’s Award for Distinguished Service in 2015. He is the editor-in-chief of The FASEB Journal and an editorial board member for the Journal of Cell Biology and Molecular Biology of the Cell. In 2015, he was awarded the Chancellor’s Medal for Distinguished Service at UMass Medical School’s annual Convocation proceedings.

To be eligible to become an ASCB fellow, a person must have been a member in good standing of ASCB for at least 10 years. Their research must have also had a significant and sustained impact on the discipline of cell biology. Typically, nominees have also served on ASCB committees, ASCB Council or as an ASCB award reviewer.

The new ASCB fellows were recognized at the 2017 ASCB/EMBO meeting in Philadelphia on Dec. 2.

Quinsigamond CC awarded $84K state grant

Quinsigamond Community College has received an $84,100 Performance Incentive Fund (PIF) grant from the state to provide accelerated English classes to students eligible for remediation in English. The college will use the grant to increase its Accelerated Learning Program (ALP), which focuses on improving the success of developmental education students by working to accelerate these students into college-level English courses.

QCC has already piloted this program with noteworthy results. Between 2014 and 2016, 75 percent of QCC students who completed an accelerated English course by taking both remedial and college-level English received a “C” or higher, compared with 66 percent of QCC students who only completed the traditional college-level English course.

“This innovative model is particularly beneficial to those from underserved populations such as low English Language Learners (ELL),” said QCC President Luis G. Pedraja. “This PIF grant will help us to increase the number of high-quality English reading, writing and critical thinking courses we offer to these students to help them succeed in college.”

The funding will be used to train additional QCC faculty in order to scale up its current ALP; to create an integrated reading/writing course and three accelerated writing English workshops; and to develop a new bridge English as a Second Language (ESL) course. The bridge ESL course will enable ELL students to more rapidly transition from ESL to developmental and college-level English.

“This grant will enable us to expand access to educational opportunities for residents of Central Massachusetts, which in turn will lead to increased job opportunities for QCC students,” Pedraja said. “This is a win for the college and for the community.”

The Performance Incentive Fund is a competitive grant program that supports public campuses in creating or strengthening programs that advance the goals of producing the best-educated citizenry and workforce in the nation.

Becker partners with Western New England University School of Law

Becker College and Springfield-based Western New England University School of Law have signed an articulation agreement that will allow Becker’s most talented pre-law students to complete both their undergraduate studies and law degree in six years instead of seven.

“We are thrilled to partner with Western New England School of Law, as we share not only geographic proximity, but also students who are passionate, entrepreneurial, and socially responsible,” said Ursula Furi-Perry, Becker’s assistant dean of the School of Nursing and Behavioral Sciences, who heads the departments of Criminal Justice/Legal Studies. “This agreement will allow Becker students to pursue their legal careers through rigorous academics and experiential learning opportunities at both the undergraduate and graduate levels.”

Participants of the 3+3 program must successfully complete the first three years of the undergraduate studies at Becker and meet WNEU School of Law matriculation requirements. To learn more about the program, visit:

Becker staff treat Chandler Elementary students to gifts, party

Becker College employees are helping Santa fulfill the holiday wish lists of children at Worcester’s Chandler Elementary School. This year, as in the past four years, the Becker community got into the holiday spirit by donating more than 1,500 toys, books, articles of clothing and other items requested by the children.

To ensure that the children experienced the joy of Christmas, Becker employees last Tuesday also welcomed the students — from kindergarten through third grade — to the college’s campus for a holiday party, complete with games, snacks, holiday music and Santa Claus.

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