UMD Logo
Facebook Icon Youtube Icon Twitter Icon Flickr Icon Vimeo Icon RSS Icon Itunes Icon Pinterest Icon
Wednesday, April 16, 2014

Search Google Appliance

University Launches Dynamic, Interactive Information Website UMD Right Now

December 4, 2012

Crystal Brown 301-405-4618

College Park, Md. – Today, the University of Maryland launched a brand-new multimedia news and information portal, UMD Right Now, which provides members of the media and the public with real-time information on the university and its extended community.

UMD Right Now replaces Newsdesk, which previously served as the university’s news hub and central resource for members of the media. The new site is aimed at reaching broader audiences and allows visitors to keep up with the latest Maryland news and events, view photos and videos and connect with the university across all of its social media platforms.

“We designed UMD Right Now to be a comprehensive, vibrant site where visitors can find new and exciting things happening at Maryland,” said Linda Martin, executive director, Web and New Media Strategies. “Through social media, video, photos and news information, we hope to engage visitors and compel the community to explore all that Maryland has to offer.”

The new website,, contains up-to-date news releases and announcements, facts and figures about the university, a searchable database of faculty and staff experts, information highlighting innovation and entrepreneurship at UMD, additional resources for news media and other campus and athletics news.

“UMD RightNow is the place to go to find out all the things happening on and around campus on any given day,” said Crystal Brown, chief communications officer. “This website brings real-time news, events and information right to your fingertips.”

For more information and contact information for the Office of University Communications, please visit

UMD Unveils Technology Entrepreneurship Master's Program

April 3, 2014

Eric Schurr 301-405-3889

15-month, global online program combines academics with new web-based incubator

University of MarylandCOLLEGE PARK, Md. — The University of Maryland, a national leader in entrepreneurship education and venture creation, will offer a new master's degree program in technology entrepreneurship starting this fall.

The 30-credit, 15-month Master of Technology Entrepreneurship, available online to current and aspiring entrepreneurs worldwide, features the university's most advanced and comprehensive entrepreneurship curriculum to date, taking students from concept development and prototyping to business model generation and customer validation, as well as legal aspects of entrepreneurship, financial and innovation management, and effective growth strategies.

"As a pioneer in online education and new venture creation, the University of Maryland is empowering the next generation of technology entrepreneurs through this innovative master's program," said Dr. James V. Green, director of entrepreneurship education at the A. James Clark School of Engineering's Maryland Technology Enterprise Institute (Mtech), which is offering the master's program through the UMD Office of Extended Studies. "In addition to our most rigorous academic entrepreneurship track, for the first time, we are pairing this enriching academic experience with the skills and relationships of the university's acclaimed startup incubators."

The Master of Technology Entrepreneurship can be completed in 15-months, with students enrolling in two 3-credit courses over five 12-week terms. The degree program is designed to fit both full-time and part-time students from anywhere in the world.

The following courses, each available online (descriptions available here), will be offered:

  • Innovative Ideas and Concept Development
  • Strategies for Managing Innovation
  • Business Modeling and Customer Validation
  • Innovative Thinking
  • Creative Design, Prototyping, and Testing
  • Market Development and Commercialization
  • Legal Aspects of Entrepreneurship
  • Financial Management and New Venture Financing
  • Corporate Technology Entrepreneurship
  • Fundamentals of Technology Startup Ventures

In addition, students in the Master of Technology Entrepreneurship program will have access to Mtech's first online incubator, which will include activities such as video-based coaching and advising, mentoring, networking and connecting promising startups with additional support, which could include funding introductions.

“Mtech and the Clark School have applied their proven experience with Coursera and online education to two key elements of entrepreneurship– the lean startup methodology and incubators,” says Dean Chang, UMD's associate vice president for innovation and entrepreneurship. “This online master’s program helps the University of Maryland achieve our goal of embedding innovation and entrepreneurship into the academic core of the university to foster life-long innovators.”

UMD prides itself as a pioneer in educating the next generation of innovators and entrepreneurs, ranked as one of the nation's top public schools in the U.S. for entrepreneurship and innovation. The Princeton Review ranked UMD No. 6 among public universities and No. 15 overall for its undergraduate entrepreneurship program, and No. 8 among public universities and No. 16 overall for its graduate entrepreneurship program. The university was also recognized as No. 1 among public universities and No. 2 overall for tech entrepreneurship by the 2013 StartEngine College Index.

The Master of Technology Entrepreneurship launches in September 2014. Learn more at:

Outreach Program puts UMD to work for Md. Communities

March 28, 2014

Maggie Haslam,

Partnership for Action Learning in Sustainability puts the University to work for Maryland Communities

COLLEGE PARK, Md. - The University of Maryland's National Center for Smart Growth (NCSG) announces the launch of the Partnership for Action Learning in Sustainability (PALS), a new university-wide initiative that will pool the intellectual resources and ingenuity of the entire university to offer a fresh look at the specific challenges facing Maryland's communities. PALS will officially commence this fall with a partnership with the City of Frederick, Maryland.

Architecture students"We are extremely excited about this new program which will not only help Maryland communities become more economically, environmentally and socially sustainable, but will help provide a new generation of students with real-word experience in working with local communities," said Gerrit Knaap, director of the National Center for Smart Growth. "We can't wait to begin work with our new partners in Frederick Maryland."

PALS is the first initiative of its kind for the University of Maryland. Created with support from the Provost's Office, the Academy for Innovation and Entrepreneurship, and the UMD Office of Sustainability, the program's mission is to offer students an active, "on the ground" learning environment by helping Maryland communities become more sustainable places to live, work and play. Through targeted, custom coursework and faculty engagement, the program enlists a host of disciplines to provide fresh solutions for individual partner communities.

Modeled after the University of Oregon's City Year program, PALS offers affordable, useable, and high-quality advice for partner communities while providing valuable exercises in critical thinking, real-world problem solving and community engagement for UMD students. With coursework tailored to reflect specific community challenges, a variety of issues can be addressed, including water conservation, attracting new employers, creating health and wellness programs, leveraging social media, engaging immigrant and minority communities and more.

"The Partnership for Action Learning in Sustainability will be an ideal vehicle to showcase the talent and ingenuity of our students," said the university's Senior Vice President and Provost Mary Ann Rankin. "It is an integral part of our responsibility as a land-grant university as well as our commitment to provide an active learning environment."

Discussions have begun with City of Frederick officials and UMD faculty to target which needs will be addressed this coming fall. Meanwhile, a beta test of the program is currently underway in Salisbury, Maryland. The project, dubbed "Envision Salisbury," has partnered 50 graduate and undergraduate students in architecture with the town's residents as Salisbury develops a master plan for downtown revitalization.

"This program presents a unique opportunity to address some of the issues facing The City of Frederick," said Frederick Mayor Randy McClement. "The students' multi-disciplinary approach will likely provide the City with fresh perspectives and unique options for this project.  We are extremely excited to work with the University of Maryland National Center for Smart Growth on this and other projects in the future."

To learn more about PALS, visit the National Center for Smart Growth website

Canal between Ears Helps Alligators Pinpoint Sound

March 28, 2014

Heather Dewar 301-405-9267

COLLEGE PARK, Md. – By reptile standards, alligators are positively chatty. They are the most vocal of the non-avian reptiles and are known to be able to pinpoint the source of sounds with accuracy. But it wasn't clear exactly how they did it because they lack external auditory structures.

Alligator that participated in a University of Maryland study that found that the alligator’s ear is strongly directional because of large, air-filled channels connecting the two middle ears. The earflap opening behind the alligator's eye can be seen clearly in this photo. In a new study, an international team of biologists shows that the alligator's ear is strongly directional because of large, air-filled channels connecting the two middle ears. This configuration is similar in birds, which have an interaural canal that increases directionality.

"Mammals usually have large moveable ears, but alligators do not, so they have solved the problems of sound localization a little differently. This may also be the solution used by the alligator's dinosaur relatives," said Hilary Bierman, a biology lecturer at the University of Maryland.

The study, which was led by Bierman and UMD Biology Professor Catherine Carr, was published online in the Journal of Experimental Biology on March 26, 2014. The research was funded by the National Institutes of Health, National Science Foundation, Danish National Science Foundation and Carlsberg Foundation.

The UMD biologists—along with researchers from the University of Massachusetts Lowell, University of Colorado Medical School and University of Southern Denmark—collected anatomical, biophysical and electrophysiological measurements of alligators to investigate the mechanisms alligators use to locate sounds.

"Different vertebrate lineages have evolved external and/or internal anatomical adaptations to enhance these auditory cues, such as pinnae and interaural canals," said Bierman.

First, the team tested how sound travelled around an alligator's head to investigate whether the animal somehow channels sound, listening for tiny time and volume differences in the sound's arrival at the two ears to help locate the origin. But the team found no evidence that the animal's body alters sound transmission sufficiently for the animal to be able to detect the difference. And when the team measured alligators' brainstem responses to sounds, they were too fast for the animals to sense these small time differences.

Next, the team looked for internal structures in the alligators' heads that might propagate sound between the two eardrums. Viewing slices through the heads of young alligators, the team could clearly see two channels linking the two middle ears that could transmit sound between the two eardrums. 

Sound reaches both sides of the eardrum—travelling externally to reach the outer side and through head structures to the internal side—to amplify the vibration at some frequencies when the head is aligned with the sound. This maximizes the pressure differences on the two sides of the eardrum, magnifying the time difference between the sound arriving at the ear drum via two different paths to allow the animal to pinpoint the source. And when the team looked at the eardrum's vibration, they could see that it was amplified at certain frequencies, as they would expect if alligators use the pressure difference at the eardrum for orientation.

Assembling all of the evidence together, the researchers suggest that the reptiles rely on magnified time difference at the eardrum to locate noises. They also suspect that this is the mechanism that the archosaur ancestors of modern crocodilians and birds used to pinpoint sounds.

Foraging Bats Warn Others Away From Their Dinners

March 27, 2014

Rebecca Copeland 301-405-6602
Heather Dewar 301-405-9267

COLLEGE PARK, Md. — Look into the spring sky at dusk and you may see flitting groups of bats, gobbling up insect meals in an intricately choreographed aerial dance. It's well known that echolocation calls keep the bats from hitting trees and each other. But now scientists have learned some bats emit another call: one that tells their comrades to "back off" from bugs they've claimed for themselves.

Jessica Nelson, Auditory Neuroethology Laboratory, University of MarylandLed by Biology Research Associate Genevieve Spanjer Wright, a five-person team from the University of Maryland found that male big brown bats can produce a special sound, called a "frequency-modulated bout" (FMB), that tells other bats with whom they are foraging to keep away from their prey. The Maryland researchers are the first to report this ultrasonic social call produced exclusively by flying, foraging male big brown bats. Their study, appearing in the March 31 issue of the Cell Press journal Current Biology, shows how important vocal social communication is for a nocturnal animal foraging with others of its species.

As the researchers examined audio recordings from two bats flying and foraging together, they noticed calls that seemed different from typical echolocation. To find out more, they analyzed video and audio recordings of bats' flight paths and calls, while male and female big brown bats flew alone and in pairs foraging for tethered mealworms. This led them to discover the special call they dubbed FMB.

The FMB is an ultrasonic social call that uniquely identifies the bat emitting it. It is a sequence of three to four sounds, longer in duration and lower in frequency than the typical echolocation pulses that big brown bats use to navigate. It is often followed by short buzz-like calls.

The researchers found the FMB increases the caller's success in snagging the insect for himself. After hearing the FMB, other bats increased their distance from the caller and moved away from the prey.

"When two males flew together in a trial, it was not uncommon for each bat to emit FMBs," says Wright. "We found that the bat emitting the greatest number of FMBs was more likely to capture the mealworm."

While some animals that forage in groups are known to emit calls to attract others towards food sources, the FMB is used to repel, not attract, other bats.

"Despite decades of study, many things about common bat behaviors such as foraging remain mysterious," says Wright. "We were able to study a social call that is likely occurring thousands of times a night all over North America during the summer months, yet had not been described or studied before now."

The researchers discovered only male big brown bats emitted the FMB, possibly to advertise their dominance or claim their territory. Female bats did not emit FMBs. That may be because females form close associations with their roost mates and may forage near familiar individuals, while males often roost alone or in small bachelor colonies and may be less familiar with others foraging nearby.

Working with Wright on the research were postdoctoral researcher Chen Chiu, research assistant Wei Xian, Biology Prof. Gerald Wilkinson, and Prof. Cynthia Moss of the Department of Psychology and the Institute for Systems Research. Future investigations will explore the potentially sophisticated nature and function of bat social calls.

This research was funded by the National Institutes of Health, and by a training grant from the National Institutes on Deafness and other Communication Disorders.

30 Days of EnTERPreneurship Showcases Innovation at UMD

March 26, 2014

Katie Lawson 301-405-4622

Series of events partners Terps with business and philanthropy to embrace challenges and solve problems

COLLEGE PARK, Md. - The University of Maryland kicked off today its third annual 30 Days of EnTERPreneurship, a month-long celebration of the university's fearless ideas, innovation and impact.

30 Days of EnTERPreneurship"The University of Maryland has long been a pioneer in entrepreneurship and a leader in research and academic innovation.  And in recent years, the university has put even greater, campus-wide emphasis on preparing faculty, students and staff to tackle the world's toughest problems through innovation and entrepreneurship. Our '30 Days of EnTERPreneurship' highlights and celebrates that commitment across all schools," says Dean Chang, UMD's associate vice president for innovation and entrepreneurship.

This year's showcase of events, lectures and contests begins today with the 3rd annual ACC Clean Energy Challenge, part of the Startup America Initiative that supports and empowers the next generation of American entrepreneurs. This $100,000 university green technology business competition is led by UMD in partnership with the U.S. Department of Energy.

For the ninth year, Under Armour Founder and CEO Kevin Plank '96, will partner with UMD to host Cupid's Cup on April 4. This nationwide student competition awards $115,000 in prize money to the country's top student entrepreneurs, and brings together hundreds of students, faculty, staff and entrepreneurs from various industries.

30 Days of EnTERPreneurship continues on April 26 with Maryland Day – the university's campus-wide celebration of innovation, creativity and academic excellence. The 16th annual open house attracts more than 100,000 alumni, students and community members to more than 450 family-friendly events and exhibits that teach and inspire future innovators.

On April 29, UMD students will compete to make the greatest social impact for causes in the annual Do Good Challenge. Finalists can earn up to $5,000 for their cause, as well as other prizes, such as in-kind consulting, to further advance their cause. This year's judges include sports agent David Falk, and former NFL quarterback and current CBS Sports analyst Norman Julius "Boomer" Esiason '84.

30 Days of EnTERPreneurship also includes:

  • Whiting-Turner Lecture: Michael Chasen, co-founder and CEO of SocialRadar and former CEO and co-founder of Blackboard, will offer advice and inspiration. (April 3)
  • Chesapeake Regional FIRST Robotics Competition: More than 1,000 high school students from around the country will compete in a robotics competition. (April 3-5)
  • Bitcamp Hackathon: A 36-hour creative coding marathon challenges hundreds of students from across the country to work in teams to turn ideas into innovations. (April 4-6)
  • Public Health Research@Maryland: National experts will discuss important public health issues, such as health care access, HIV/AIDS, physical activity promotion, cancer prevention and tobacco control. (April 8)
  • Grand Opening Celebration of the Physical Sciences Complex: The university will celebrate the new, 160,000-square-foot building that features a creative design and high-tech labs. (April 23)
  • Whiting-Turner Lecture: Abdur Chowdhury, co-founder and CEO of Pushd, co-founder of Alta Vista School and former chief scientist of Twitter, will share his experiences and insights. (April 24)
  • Celebration of Innovation and Invention of the Year Awards: UMD will honor innovations and inventions  developed by university researchers and students. (April 29)
  • Computer Science F.I.S.H. Bowl Competition: The second annual Fostering Innovation, Success, and Humanity (F.I.S.H.) Bowl Competition is a computer science entrepreneurship showcase and competition for undergraduate and graduate students at UMD. (May 2)

UMD prides itself as a pioneer in educating the next generation of innovators and entrepreneurs, ranked as one of the nation's top public schools in the U.S. for entrepreneurship and innovation. The Princeton Review ranked UMD No. 6 among public universities and No. 15 overall for its undergraduate entrepreneurship program, and No. 8 among public universities and No. 16 overall for its graduate entrepreneurship program. The university was also recognized as No. 1 among public universities and No. 2 overall for tech entrepreneurship by the 2013 StartEngine College Index.

Visit to learn more about these and other special events. Follow the coverage of the events by tracking #30DaysTerps on social.

Women's Cancer Screenings Down During Great Recession

March 26, 2014

Kelly Blake 301-405-9418
Alana Carchedi 301-405-0235

COLLEGE PARK, Md. – American women were less likely to receive a mammogram or Pap smear during the Great Recession of 2007-2009 than they were five years earlier, according to a study by researchers at the University of Maryland School of Public Health. The nationwide decline in screening rates was most pronounced among white women.

  Percentage of women with a mammogram before and during the Great Recession
  Percentage of women with a mammogram before and during the Great Recession

"Economic recessions lead to unemployment, loss of health insurance, and loss of income, which can have a negative impact on preventive services such as cancer screening," said Dr. Christopher King, lecturer in the department of health services administration and the study's lead author. "We found a reduction in breast and cervical cancer screenings during the Great Recession, and there were noteworthy differences by race and ethnicity. Screening rates among white women fell, which is not surprising since about three million whites lost insurance coverage during the recession, but rates among African American women stayed about the same and rates among Hispanic women actually improved."

The study, published in the American Journal of Preventive Medicine, examines survey data from the Medical Expenditure Panel on breast screening and cervical screening in 2004-2005 and in 2009-2010. Women aged 50 to 74 reported whether they had received a mammogram within the past two years, and women aged 21 to 65 reported whether they had received a Pap smear within the past three years. Researchers analyzed the data for trends related to race and other demographic characteristics.

Women with health insurance, whether private or public, were found to be more than twice as likely as uninsured women to be screened for breast or cervical cancer. Those having a usual source of care were also more than twice as likely to receive screening as those without one.

Percentage of women with a Pap smear before and during the Great Recession  
Percentage of women with a Pap smear before and during the Great Recession  

Among Hispanics, the 6 percent increase in breast screening and 3 percent increase in cervical screening between the two time periods are moving the group closer to national targets. The study authors credited screening efforts funded by the National Breast and Cervical Cancer Early Detection Programs and awareness activities by philanthropies such as the Avon Foundation and the Susan B. Komen Foundation for the improvement.

The study also found differences in screening by U.S. region. "Consistent with U.S. regions most impacted by unemployment and uninsurance during the recession, breast screening in the Midwest and South was lowest, followed by the West," the authors write. "The Northeast fared better, mainly because of more widespread public insurance programs with high eligibility thresholds."

The paper notes that early detection for breast and cervical cancer can significantly reduce mortality rates and health costs.

"If the U.S. is going to meet its breast and cervical cancer screening goals for Healthy People 2020, we have to re-engage women who did not receive preventive health services during the recession," said Dr. King. "As the Affordable Care Act takes effect, local and national efforts are needed to reach out to demographic populations most affected during the recession and help them understand the law and how it can help them receive timely preventive care."

*"Breast and cervical screening by race/ethnicity: comparative analyses before and during the Great Recession" was written by Christopher J. King, Jie Chen, Mary A. Garza, and Stephen B. Thomas.

Salamanders Shrink as Their Mountain Havens Heat Up

March 25, 2014

Heather Dewar 301-405-9267

COLLEGE PARK, Md. - Wild salamanders living in some of North America's best salamander habitat are getting smaller as their surroundings get warmer and drier, forcing them to burn more energy in a changing climate.

This Northern gray-cheeked salamander, P. montanus, is one of the native Appalachian mountain range salamander species that has gotten significantly smaller, according to field research and studies of museum samples by Associate Prof. Karen Lips and colleagues. That's the key finding of a new study, published March 25 in the journal Global Change Biology, that examined museum specimens caught in the Appalachian Mountains from 1957 to 2007 and wild salamanders measured at the same sites in 2011-2012. The salamanders studied from 1980 onward were, on average, 8% smaller than their counterparts from earlier decades. The changes were most marked in the Southern Appalachians and at low elevations – settings where detailed weather records showed the climate has warmed and dried out most.

Scientists have predicted that some animals will get smaller in response to climate change, and this is strongest confirmation of that prediction.

"This is one of the largest and fastest rates of change ever recorded in any animal," said Karen R. Lips, an associate professor of biology at the University of Maryland and the study's senior author. "We don't know exactly how or why it's happening, but our data show it is clearly correlated with climate change." And it's happening at a time when salamanders and other amphibians are in distress, with some species going extinct and others dwindling in number.

"We don't know if this is a genetic change or a sign that the animals are flexible enough to adjust to new conditions," Lips said. "If these animals are adjusting, it gives us hope that some species are going to be able to keep up with climate change."

This trayful of Northern gray-cheeked salamanders, collected decades ago by Prof. Richard Highton, are stored in a Smithsonian Institution facility in Suitland, MD. Karen Lips and colleagues used them to show that Appalachian salamander species are getting smaller in response to climate change. The study was prompted by the work of University of Maryland Prof. Emeritus Richard Highton, who began collecting salamanders in the Appalachian Mountains in 1957. The geologically ancient mountain range's moist forests and long evolutionary history make it a global hot spot for a variety of salamander species. Highton collected hundreds of thousands of salamanders, now preserved in jars at the Smithsonian Institution's Museum Service Center in Suitland, MD.

But Highton's records show a mysterious decline in the region's salamander populations beginning in the 1980s.  Lips, an amphibian expert, saw a similar decline in the frogs she studied in Central America, and tracked it to a lethal fungal disease. She decided to see whether disease might explain the salamander declines in the Appalachians.

Between summer 2011 and spring 2012, Lips and her students caught, measured and took DNA samples from wild salamanders at 78 of Highton's collecting sites in Maryland, Virginia, West Virginia, Tennessee and North Carolina. Using relatively new techniques for analyzing DNA from preserved specimens, the researchers tested some of Highton's salamanders for disease.

Lips found virtually no fungal disease in the museum specimens or the living animals. But when she compared size measurements of the older specimens with today's wild salamanders, the differences were striking.

Between 1957 and 2012, six salamander species got significantly smaller, while only one got slightly larger. On average, each generation was one percent smaller than its parents' generation, the researchers found.

The researchers compared changes in body size to the animals' location and their sites' elevation, temperature and rainfall. They found the salamanders shrank the most at southerly sites, where temperatures rose and rainfall decreased over the 55-year study.

To find out how climate change affected the animals, Clemson University biologist Michael W. Sears used a computer program to create an artificial salamander, which allowed him to estimate a typical salamander's daily activity and the number of calories it burned. Using detailed weather records for the study sites, Sears was able to simulate the minute-by-minute behavior of individual salamanders, based on weather conditions at their home sites during their lifetimes.

This red-backed salamander was part of field research by Associate Prof. Karen Lips and colleagues showing that 7 of 8 salamander species studied in the Appalachian Mountains of MD and VA have gotten smaller over the past 50 years due to climate change.The simulation showed the modern salamanders were just as active as their forbears had been. But to maintain that activity, they had to burn 7 to 8 percent more energy. Cold-blooded animals' metabolisms speed up as temperatures rise, Sears explained.

To get that extra energy, salamanders must make trade-offs, Lips said. They may spend more time foraging for food or resting in cool ponds, and less time hunting for mates. The smaller animals may have fewer young, and may be more easily picked off by predators.

"Right now we don't know what this means for the animals," Lips said. "If they can start breeding smaller, at a younger age, that might be the best way to adapt to this warmer, drier world. Or it may be tied in with the losses of some of these species."

The research team's next step will be to compare the salamander species that are getting smaller to the ones that are disappearing from parts of their range. If they match, the team will be one step closer to understanding why salamanders are declining in a part of the world that once was a haven for them.

This research was funded by the University of Maryland-Smithsonian Institution Seed Grant Program.

UMD Celebrates 3rd Annual Good Neighbor Day

March 25, 2014

Beth Cavanaugh 301-405-4625

Good Neighbor DayCOLLEGE PARK, Md. – The University of Maryland will celebrate the 3rd Annual Good Neighbor Day, an annual cross-campus service project, on Saturday, March 29 from 9:00 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. The event brings together students, faculty, staff, alumni, and local residents for a day of service. Volunteers focus on clean-up efforts that contribute to a great quality of life for all College Park residents and celebrate being a good neighbor, every day of the year.

There are many ways to participate, including:

  • Neighborhood clean ups throughout north College Park
  • Uprooting non-indigenous plant species that threaten the balance of our local ecosystem
  • Mulching and planting at College Park's Al Huda Elementary School's garden
  • Free health check-ups from Doctors Community Hospital, which will provide free blood pressure  and cholesterol screenings
  • Free sustainability and wellness workshops hosted by UMD and community experts on a variety of topics, such as reducing your home's carbon footprint; promoting better physical and mental health; and how your ethnic, religious, or humanist culture practices the value of being a good neighbor. Youth participants will be able to receive service-learning credit for workshop participation.

In addition, the Good Neighbor Day food drive continues until March 29. Campus and off-campus partners are collecting non-perishable goods to benefit the College Park Meals on Wheels Program and the College Park Food Bank. Donations will help low-income families and individuals who face food insecurity during the spring months.

Good Neighbor Day is a partnership between UMD, the City of College Park, the Maryland-National Capital Park and Planning Commission, and local civic and faith organizations.

For more information or to participate in Good Neighbor Day, visit

Kelvin Wave Seen on Quantum "Tornado" for First Time

March 25, 2014

Abby Robinson 301-405-5845
Heather Dewar 301-405-9267

COLLEGE PARK, Md. – Draining the water from a bathtub causes a spinning tornado to appear. The downward flow of water into the drain causes the water to rotate, and as the rotation speeds up, a vortex forms that obeys the laws of classical mechanics. However, if the water is replaced with extremely cold liquid helium, the fluid will swirl around an invisible line to form a vortex that obeys the laws of quantum mechanics. Sometimes, two of these quantum tornadoes flex into curved lines, cross over one another to form a letter X shape, swap ends, and then violently retract from one another—a process called reconnection.

Illustration of Kelvin waves on retracting quantized vortices after they met, crossed and exchanged tails—a process called reconnection. A new study provides visual evidence that after the vortexes snap away from each other, they develop ripples called “Kelvin waves” to quickly get rid of the energy caused by the connection and relax the system. Image: Enrico FondaComputer simulations have suggested that after the vortexes snap away from each other, they develop ripples called "Kelvin waves" to quickly get rid of the energy caused by the connection and relax the system. However, the existence of these waves had never been experimentally proven.

Now, for the first time, researchers provide visual evidence confirming that the reconnection of quantum vortexes launches Kelvin waves. The study, which was conducted at the University of Maryland, will be published the week of March 24, 2014 in the online early edition of the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. The research was supported by the National Science Foundation.

"We weren't surprised to see the Kelvin waves on the quantum vortex, but we were excited to see them because they had never been seen before," said Daniel Lathrop, a UMD physics professor. "Seeing the Kelvin waves provided the first experimental evidence that previous theories predicting they would be launched from vortex reconnection were correct."

Understanding turbulence in quantum fluids, such as ultracold liquid helium, may offer clues to neutron stars, trapped atom systems and superconductors. Superconductors, which are materials that conduct electricity without resistance below certain temperatures, develop quantized vortices. Understanding the behavior of the vortices may help researchers develop superconductors that remain superconducting at higher current densities.

Physicists Richard Feynman and Lars Onsager predicted the existence of quantum vortices more than a half-century ago. However, no one had seen quantum vortices until 2006. In Lathrop's laboratory at UMD, researchers prepared a cylinder of supercold helium—at 2 degrees Celsius above absolute zero—injected with frozen tracer particles made from atmospheric air and helium gases. When they shined a laser into the cylinder, the researchers saw the particles trapped on the vortices like dew drops on a spider web.

"Kelvin waves on quantized vortices had been predicted, but the experiments were challenging because we had to conduct them at lower temperatures than our previous experiments," explained Lathrop.

Since 2006, the researchers have used the same technique to further examine quantum vortexes. During an experiment in February 2012, they witnessed a unique reconnection event. One vortex reconnected with another and a wave propagated down the vortex. To quantitatively study the wave's motion, the researchers tracked the position of the particles on the vortex. The resulting waveforms agreed generally with theories of Kelvin waves propagating from quantum vortexes.

"These first observations of Kelvin waves will surely lead to exciting new experiments that push the limits of our knowledge of these exotic quantum motions," added Lathrop.

In the future, Lathrop plans to use florescent nanoparticles to investigate what happens near the transition to the superfluid state.

Lathrop conducted the current study with David Meichle, a UMD physics graduate student; Enrico Fonda, who was a research scholar at UMD and graduate student at the University of Trieste when the study was performed and is now a postdoctoral researcher at New York University; Nicholas Ouellette, who was a visiting assistant professor at UMD when the study was performed and is now an associate professor in mechanical engineering & materials science at Yale University; and Sahand Hormoz, a postdoctoral researcher at the University of California, Santa Barbara's Kavli Institute for Theoretical Physics.

This research was supported by the National Science Foundation (NSF) under Award No. DMR-0906109. The content of this article does not necessarily reflect the views of the NSF.


April 3
Distinguished University Professor Ira Berlin was awarded the W.E.B. Du Bois Medal for 2014 by Harvard University's... Read
April 3
The University of Maryland will offer a new master's degree program in technology entrepreneurship starting this fall. Read
March 28
UMD is launching the Partnership for Action Learning in Sustainability, a new university-wide initiative to offer a... Read
March 28
New research finds that the alligator's ear is strongly directional because of large, air-filled channels connecting... Read