Maryland Moments, April, 2004
(Maryland Day, Rankings, New Programs, Honors)
That headline was written by the Washingotn Post after it had accepted the invitation to "explore our world" during the annual Maryland Day. The newspaper took note note that an idea by President C. D. Mote Jr. led to a successful execution by an army of university faculty, staff and employees to show 70,000 smiling guests the wonders of a research university. This year featured "learning neighborhoods" that contained hundreds of exhibits: Arts Alley, Sports and Recreation Row, Ag Day Avenue, Science and Tech Way, Biz and Society Hill and Terp Town Center.
The university launched Maryland Pathways for low income students, setting aside $1.6 million to replace loans with grants for about 500 freshmen this fall. "Students are acquiring too much debt, especially students from low income communities," said President C.D. Mote Jr. "This is a big change in the way we are doing things." UM joins the University of North Carolina and University of Virginia in creating aid programs for students as tuition costs rise due to declining support on the state level.
The 2005 graduate school rankings are released, and the university collects a school record 70 Top 25 rankings (undergraduate and graduate rankings).
Entrepreneur magazine released its second annual listing of the top entrepreneurial programs. The news for the Smith School of Business was on the plus side of the ledger. The Dingman Center for Entrepreneurship ranked in the first tier of entrepreneurial programs (this is the highest overall ranking available). And in customer (student) satisfaction, UM is No. 1.
UM ranked No. 40 among colleges and universities enrolling freshman Merit Scholars. Other regional schools to be ranked are George Washington University at No. 62, Georgetown University at No. 62 (tie) and the University of Virginia, No. 67.
Melissa Boteach, a government and and Spanish major, was among 77 students in the U.S. to receive the prestigious 2004 Truman Scholarship. Boteach, who had extensive advocacy roles on campus, was studying in Argentina when the honor came. While there, she organized a clothing/medicine drive for Argentine residents, participated in an intergroup dialogue with Muslim and Jewish women, and worked to help a Colombian immigrant learn English and American culture.
James Lesher, professor of philosophy, received a National Humanities Center fellowship for the coming academic year to study Knowledge and the Gods: Religious Aspects of Early Greek Theories of Knowledge. He currently serves as a Senior Fellow of the Center for Hellenic Studies and a member of the Editorial Board of the journal Ancient Philosophy."
To celebrate the 80th year of UM's famous ice cream, five new flavors were unveiled during the April 24 Maryland Day festivities. Inspired by UM's recent surge in academic and athletic prowess, the new delights include: Fear the Turtle, a mix of white chocolate swirled with caramel and pecans; Midnight Madness, a blend of double chocolate ice cream with chocolate ganache and créme de coco; Fridge Fever, a combination of vanilla ice cream, chocolate fudge, chocolate brownie, chocolate covered cashews and Myers rum; Final Exam Cram, a concoction of rich cappuccino ice cream and crushed chocolate cookies; and finally, Spring Break, an exotic tropical fruit ice cream splashed with Myers dark rum.
More than 300 volunteers from UM and the College Park community joined forces on April 17 to transform Lake Artemesia, a popular local park, into an inviting urban retreat. Volunteers shoveled, planted and watered 700 trees and shrubs according to a plan created by students in a landscape management course.
Society & Culture
On the tenth anniversary of the massacre of 800,000 Rwandans, Christian Davenport, associate professor of government and politics, and Dartmouth's Alan Stam had their report on the Rwanda massacres publicized around the world becaue it called into question many long held assumptions about the tragedy. "People simply have the basic facts wrong, and worse, many don't even appear interested in assembling the necessary information. We consider this more of a totalitarian purge, a politicide, rather than ethnic cleansing or genocide."
A Program on International Policy Attitudes poll found a surprising lack of knowledge about the Iraq war among a group of 1,311 U.S. adults who were polled in late March. Fifty-seven percent of the respondents believed Saddam Hussein gave substantial support to al-Qaeda terrorists, and a majority felt Iraq had weapons of mass destruction or a program developing them.
A National Museum of History exhibit, "In Stabiano: Exploring the Ancient Seaside Villas of the Roman Elite," opened in Washington, and UM's School of Architecture, Planning and Preservation was front and center in helping to develop the exhibition. Stabiano, like Pompeii, was buried by Mt. Vesuvius in A.D. 79 and is revealed to be "stunning proof of the lush life led by Roman aristocrats. UM worked with the Restoring Ancient Stabiae Foundation to coordinate research.
Science & Technology
UM and NASA satellites provided the Department of Agriculture Foreign Agricultural Service with the ability to improve the accuracy and timeliness of information provided about important crops around the world. UM is also creating an archive and an interface that enables analysts to compare current and historical conditions for NASA.
"In the search for sex, young female bowerbirds prefer blue, while their older sisters go for flamboyant strutting and loud squawks," scientists reported to Reuters. This means male bowerbirds have to know how to decorate with blue in addition to doing the courtship dance, so they have a chance to mate as much as possible, the researchers wrote in the journal Nature. Seth Coleman, a graduate student in psychology, was praised by a non-UM scientist: "What Seth's group has done is outstanding—he has shown females are assessing multiple traits. This is almost certainly true in other species, but no one bothered to ask."
The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration made its high resolution radar data available in real time to government, university and private sector uses. The National Weather Service redistributed data to other federal government users from an NWS server located at the Mid-Atlantic Crossroad GigaPoP at UM.
Ken Paynter, director of the Marine Estuarine Environmental Sciences program and a biologist affiliated with the College of Life Sciences, led a research effort to revive the oyster beds of the Chesapeake, which have been reduced from bountiful harvests to "virtually non-existent" ones. The Crassostrea ariakensis from Asia, a rugged import, will be measured against the declining Crassostrea virginica. Paynter: "The reports are that ariakensis grows much more rapidly than virginica and is much less prone to disease. So we want to test that in Maryland."
Menglin Jin, assistant research scientist in meteorology, was the lead author of a study published in the Bulletin of the American Meteorological Society that "confirms the Earth has had an increasing "fever" for decades. Utilizing satellite skin temperatures recorded from 1981 to 1998, the research was more detailed and comprehensive than previously available ground measurements.
UM's Ranger Robot to the Rescue of the Ailing Hubble Space Telescope?
NASA Administrator Sean O'Keefe told U.S. lawmakers worried about the Hubble Space Telescope's future that robotic servicing of the orbiting observatory appears to be more feasible than agency officials initially believed. A reason for the optimism is the existence of robotic systems already in place, like the University of Maryland's Ranger Robot. Recent research at College Park suggests that more than $1 billion worth of commercial, military and scientific satellite "assets" are lost each year to premature breakdowns. "That is the market," UM aerospace engineer David Akin said."
The University of Maryland, California Institute of Technology, the University of California-Berkeley and the University of Illinois at Champagne-Urbana jointly formed CARMA (Combined Array for Research in Milimeter-wave Astronomy) in California's Inyo Mountains north of Death Valley and east of Fresno. CARMA featured an array of 15 radio telescopes, antennas and other equipment to create probably the most powerful astronomy instrument of its kind in the world. "CARMA will be used to observe molecular gas and dust in planets, star-forming clouds, planet-forming disks around other stars, nearby galaxies and galaxies so distant they that must have been formed soon after the Big Bang," said Anneila Sargent, CARMA director and professor of astronomy at Caltech.
NASA's recent test of its X43-A aircraft, which clocked Mach 7, is only one of the vehicles under development that could be the future of military, civilian and space flight. A variation of the X-43 scramjet is HyperSoar, an advanced military aircraft concept being investigated at the Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory and the University of Maryland. The dart-shaped plane would fly at Mach 10 to the edge of space 60 kilometers above Earth. Then its engines would be turned off, allowing it to coast back into the atmosphere, where the scramjet could be engaged again for another climb. In this way HyperSoar could fly from the United States to Japan in 25 'skips' each covering a distance of 280 miles.
UM's Kennerth Staver, an agricultural engineer at the Maryland Center for Agro-Ecology, released a study which said new regulations that restrict the use of poultry litter as fertilizer on the Eastern Shore might damage Chesapeake Bay water quality rather than improve it. He found in a $200,000 study that if poultry farmers clustered on the lower Eastern Shore are forced to send poultry litter to other areas, it could increase runoff of harmful nutrients.
A new experiment came close to detecting quantum effects in a macroscopic object. Keith Schwab and colleagues from the National Security Agency, working at UM, have measured the vibrations of a tiny nanoelectromechanical arm to probe the limits at which quantum behavior breaks down and classical physics takes over. Although the experiment was not quite sensitive enough to test the uncertainty principle, it has come closer to doing so than previous attempts.
The National Academy of Sciences opened its Marian Koshland Science Museum at 6th & E Streets NW, a departure from traditional science exhibits at locations like the National Museum of Natural History and Smithsonian. The New York Times: "Its goal is not to shock, amaze or even entertain, but to inform people who influence or will someday influence science policy." Eugene Rasmusson, research professor emeritus in meteorology, directed the panel on climate exhibition.
More Maryland Moments in April
A Wall Street Journal writer rhapsodized over the Web site, http:www.squarespace.com, which allows a 'blogger' to construct a sophisticated looking home on the Internet to lure visitors into the blog. "In short, blogging has whet our appetites for publishing good-looking sites that reach the right audience, but which are more permanent than daily discussions and ramblings. Which is where Anthony Casalena, who is studying computer science at the University of Maryland, came in. He felt that bloggers were looking for something more. 'I want the people.... to realize they can do much more, with similar simplicity,' he says in a recent on-line interview.' " Casalena is enrolled in the Himan CEO (Campus Entrepreneurship Opportunities) program, overseen by the Clark School of Engineering and the Smith School of Business.
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