Scrolling Headlines:

Whose American Dream? -

June 24, 2017

Man who threatened to bomb Coolidge Hall taken into ICE custody -

June 24, 2017

Cale Makar drafted by Colorado Avalanche in first round of 2017 NHL Entry Draft -

June 24, 2017

Conservatives: The Trump experiment is over -

June 17, 2017

UMass basketball lands transfer Kieran Hayward from LSU -

May 18, 2017

UMass basketball’s Donte Clark transferring to Coastal Carolina -

May 17, 2017

Report: Keon Clergeot transfers to UMass basketball program -

May 15, 2017

Despite title-game loss, Meg Colleran’s brilliance in circle was an incredible feat -

May 14, 2017

UMass softball loses in heartbreaker in A-10 title game -

May 14, 2017

Navy sinks UMass women’s lacrosse 23-11 in NCAA tournament second round, ending Minutewomen’s season -

May 14, 2017

UMass softball advances to A-10 Championship game -

May 13, 2017

UMass basketball adds Rutgers transfer Jonathan Laurent -

May 13, 2017

UMass women’s lacrosse gets revenge on Colorado, beat Buffs 13-7 in NCAA Tournament First Round -

May 13, 2017

Meg Colleran dominates as UMass softball tops Saint Joseph’s, advances in A-10 tournament -

May 12, 2017

Rain keeps UMass softball from opening tournament play; Minutewomen earn A-10 honors -

May 11, 2017

Former UMass football wide receiver Tajae Sharpe accused of assault in lawsuit -

May 10, 2017

Justice Gorsuch can save the UMass GEO -

May 10, 2017

Minutemen third, Minutewomen finish fifth in Atlantic 10 Championships for UMass track and field -

May 8, 2017

UMass women’s lacrosse wins A-10 title for ninth straight season -

May 8, 2017

Dayton takes two from UMass softball in weekend series -

May 8, 2017

UMass’ Baskin wins grant for electron microscope

University of Massachusetts professor of biology Tobias Baskin has won a three-year, $511,143 grant from the National Science Foundation’s Major Research Instrumentation program to acquire a high resolution scanning electron microscope for research between the Five Colleges.

Baskin, along with a team of four other UMass professors, Dhandapani Venkataraman from chemistry, Mike Jercinovic from geosciences, Sam Gido from polymer science and engineering and Joseph Goldstein from mechanical and industrial engineering, led the campaign to purchase the microscope.

Scanning microscopes, Baskin explained, allow researchers to use samples of any thickness of electron they choose by sending a beam of electrons across a sample, as opposed to transmission microscopes, which send a beam of electrons through the sample.

Though the distinction may seem small, it has great effects on research possibilities.

“By building up an image from the amount of scattered electrons at any one point, an image of the topography of the sample is obtained,” Baskin said.

“Because the beam does not have to go through the material, samples of any thickness can be used,” he furthered, “because the instrument doesn’t focus the scattered electrons to make an image, but instead just counts how many there are at each point, the instrument has an intrinsically large depth of field,” he went on.

Baskin elaborated that developments in the resolution of scanning microscopes have greatly enhanced their efficacy.

“Over the past few decades, the instruments have advanced spectacularly, to the point where they can image almost to the level of atoms,” he said.

He continued to say that winning the grant gives UMass great flexibility in its research capabilities, as the University had not purchased a scanning electron microscope for some time.

“Although we have some excellent transmission electron microscopes, we hadn’t bought a scanning electron microscope for years,” said Baskin. “This was preventing many kinds of investigations from going forward or forcing some of us to go off-campus to use facilities elsewhere,” he continued.

Steve Ellis, a program manager at the National Science Foundation who recommended the group be awarded the grant, said the foundation chose to fund the acquisition because of the applicants’ solid track record in research and because of its possibilities for multi-dimensional research.

“The proposal was selected for funding because it demonstrated technical expertise, the applicants have a well-established history of involvement with broadening participation activities and it provided convincing preliminary data to document feasibility for a compelling blend of interdisciplinary projects that will utilize the new electron microscope,” he said.

As for the possibilities for research with the new microscope, Baskin said they are highly varied.

“The polymer scientists and chemists are interested in manipulating matter at what is now called the “nano-scale,” he said, “there seems to be the potential for a large number of devices that can be made by working at the nano-scale.”

“There are ideas for making better photovoltaic cells, memory storage devices, water proof fabric, and much else,” he enumerated, continuing to say that in his field, he hopes to work on examining plant cell walls.

“I am a biologist and interested in the structure of the plant cell wall,” he said, “this wall controls the growth of the plant and understanding its structure is essential to understand morphogenesis.”

The microscope the group will be obtaining is called the Magellan, made by Oregon-based FEI Co. According to Baskin, the microscope has “the best published specifications for resolution of any currently available scanning electron microscope.”

The microscope will be housed on-campus in the Conte Polymer Research Center, and will be operational by the end of next January. The microscope will be available for use by anyone within the Five Colleges.

Sam Butterfield can be reached at

Leave A Comment