Maryland Moments, December, 2003
(New Programs, Awards, Appointments)
The January issue of Washingtonian magazine published a colorful 12-page spread on an academic-fueled Maryland-Virginia rivalry, with sub-heads like Tale of the Tape (essential numbers like rankings, Pulitzer Prize winners, alumni giving rates, miles from U.S. Capitol), Border Wars (what are the chances of region students getting in?), What Others Think, Who's the Science Power? and Who's Tops in the Arts, Journalism? "It (Maryland) now measures itself against some of the country's top public universities--among them the University of Michigan, Berkeley, and the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. Not long ago, talking about Maryland in the same breath as Berkeley and Michigan--let alone Virginia--would have seemed laughable. But no longer. Head to head, Maryland and Virginia are running a much closer race."
Sergey Brin, Class of '93, returned to campus to be the December commencement speaker. An active alumnus, Brin had recently donated a Google search appliance for use on UM's award-winning website, www.umd.edu. Brin's alma mater was the first to benefit from the newly established Google Search Appliance Donations Program. Earlier in May, Brin was named Maryland�s Outstanding Young Alumnus.
The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration received $10.4 million in federal funding for construction of a new science center for weather and climate prediction to be built near UM. The complex replaces the National Weather Service facility in Camp Springs, Md. The announcement for the funding came from the office of U.S. Rep. Steny Hoyer.
House minority leader Nancy Pelosi, Baltimore native and the highest ranking woman in the history of the U.S. Congress, received the 2003 Millard E. Tydings Award for Courage and Leadership in American Politics. The award was presented by the Center for American Politics and Citizenship and named for U.S. Senator Tydings, who served from 1927 to 1951.
Garth Rockcastle, who taught at the University of Minnesota's College of Architecture and Landscape Architecture for 25 years, was named dean of the School of Architecture, Planning, and Preservation. He is co-founder and principal of the Minneapolis firm of Meyer, Scherer and Rockcastle. He earned his M.Arch. from Cornell University in 1978 and his B.Arch. from Pennsylvania State University in 1974. In 1978, Rockcastle joined the faculty at Minnesota. He was head of the department of architecture from 1991 to 1997.
Time magazine highlighted the companies selected by the World Economic Forum for its list of 30 �cutting-edge amazers,� start-up companies with "world-altering" answers to contemporary challenges. AnthroTronix, a current tenant of the Technology Advancement Program in the Maryland Technology Enterprise Institute, is one of seven companies profiled by the magazine. �... AnthroTronix is also using computer technology to promote well-being. One of the company's main interests is working with children afflicted with autism, Down syndrome and other disabilities. Children with these conditions have trouble communicating and coordinating basic bodily movements. So AnthroTronix has come up with a robot called CosmoBot, which can help parents and caregivers teach the kids how to move and interact with others.�
Maryland and Virginia officials united to promote aerospace on the Lower Eastern Shore, and the University of Maryland is part of the effort. Officials have laid the groundwork to establish a Mid-Atlantic Institute of Space and Technology, "a regional think tank" that will be housed at an office park in Pocomoke. Included in the institute's consortium are UM, the University of Maryland, Eastern Shore and Salisbury University, the University of Virginia, Old Dominion University and Hampton University.
President Bush lauded UM participation at the White House Ceremony. "The Jewish tradition calls on us to honor every commandment with works of beauty. This beautiful menorah, more than two centuries old, is from the Spertus Museum in Chicago, and Laura and I are honored to have it here at the White House. I want to thank Kol Sasson from the great University of Maryland for joining us today, and thank you for lending your beautiful voice for this occasion." (Kol Sasson is a Jewish a cappella singing group dedicated to promoting spirit and culture through Jewish music. It is part of the Rosenbloom Hillel Center for Jewish Life.)
Society & Culture
The Washington Post: "Though the Clarice Smith Performing Arts Center at the University of Maryland has been named in her honor, area painter Clarice Smith still sees herself as 'the most exhibited Washington artist no one ever heard of.'... What she yearns for is recognition of her own 25-year career as a realist painter, whose subjects have ranged from portraits and virtuosic florals to equestrian scenes and, most importantly, scenes of Venice, the French Riviera and other European watering holes. Smith has exhibited in major galleries from New York and London to Paris and Jerusalem. She has snagged important collectors along the way, among them Oprah Winfrey and Sen. and Mrs. John D. Rockefeller IV. Now several have lent their treasures to Clarice Smith: ReCollection 1978-2003, the first comprehensive survey of this artist's life's work, on view at the University of Maryland Art Gallery through Dec. 13. No one could question her seriousness after seeing this show."
A new study reveals contradictions in what home buyers are willing to pay to live in so-called new urbanist communities, whose design emphasizes, among other things, shorter blocks, sidewalks, convenient mass transit, bicycle paths and strategically placed open spaces. Gerrit Knaap, executive director for the National Center for Smart Growth Research and Education and co-author of the study which appears in the Journal of Urban Economics, says home buyers pay a premium for these elements. But while they're willing to pay a premium to be near these elements, they don't actually want to live in the thick of them.
A Program on International Policy Attitudes Affairs poll earned saturated media coverage in the U.S. and around the globe. The poll results indicated Americans are increasingly uncomfortable with the Iraq war, but did not want a troop withdrawal.
A report prepared by College of Education professor Margaret McLaughlin and research graduate student Sandra Embler found that African American and Hispanic students in special education were far more likely than white and Asian students in recent years to be educated in special classrooms--instead of being integrated into the general population. The study was conducted in the Montgomery County Public Schools.
A new television network, Al Hurra, is meant to give Arab viewers a different look at the U.S. Shibley Telhami, Anwar Sadat Professor for Peace and Development, serves on the board of advisors.
Jacques Gansler, professor and interim dean at the School of Public Affairs, was a member of a Blue Ribbon Commission that recommended to the federal government competition was needed in awarding contracts to run federal science facilities. At issue were installations like the weapons labs at Livermore, Calif., and Los Alamos, N. M., which had historically been run by the University of California.
State transportation officials planned to work with the University of Maryland to study the potential economic advantages and disadvantages of the Intercounty Connector, which will run from I-270 to I-95 in the metro region. The Prince George's County Council has opposed the Gaithersburg-to-Laurel highway, citing its potential to attract jobs to western Montgomery that could go to Prince George's.
Science & Technology
A team of university researchers, led by Michael Fuhrer, assistant professor of physics, discovered that semiconducting carbon nanotubes, the experimental materials seen as possible replacements for conventional chip-making materials, conduct electricity better than any other material at room temperature. The carbon nanotubes not only carry current at higher speeds than silicon transistors, but also detect electrical changes with a greater degree of precision than silicon.
Linda Detwiler, adjunct assistant professor at UM and its Virginia-Maryland Regional College of Veterinary Medicine, David Lineback, director of the Joint Institute for Food Safety and Applied Nutrition (JIFSAN), and Scott Barao, professor of animal and avian sciences, were three of the most visible agricultural experts speaking to the media following the outbreak of Mad Cow Disease in Washington state. Detwiler had recently coordinated the Department of Agriculture's BSE (bovine spongiform encephalopathy) surveillance program until retiring after 20 years with the agency. Lineback was chairman of the 12th World Congress of Food Science and Technology this past July and former dean of agriculture at the University of Idaho. (JIFSAN is a multidisciplinary research and education program administered by UM and the Food and Drug Administration.) Barao directs the University Beef Research Center.
The magnetics research lab at the National Security Agency worked on recovering data from damaged or deliberately destroyed computer hard drives, utilizing the expertise of two UM faculty members. The lab is also working with the university researchers to develop a computer controlled sculpting tool for 'nanolithography,' creating 3D images smaller than a square nanometer, or one billionth of a meter.
Min Wu, an assistant professor of electrical and computer engineering who is affiliated with the UM Institute for Advanced Computer Studies, conducts research on the vexing problem of "watermarking" electronically transmitted documents. Technology Review: "A classic solution is to hide a �digital watermark� in a color or gray-scale image by making imperceptible changes in the colors or brightnesses of individual pixels. But for black text on a white background, this approach doesn't work so well: flipping even one white pixel to black on a field of white can produce a visible irregularity. Now University of Maryland information scientist Min Wu is perfecting software that adds secret data to such documents by subtly altering pixels in small blocks along the edges of letters, where the changes are virtually unnoticeable.�
John Steinbruner, director of the Center for International and Security Studies at Maryland, and Elisa Harris, a research fellow at CISSM, co-authored an International Herald Tribune article on the looming menace of the uncontrolled release of scientific research that could result in catastrophe. They are campaigning for a more robust repsonse to supervising research than recommended by the National Academy of Sciences. "No institution - whether academic, corporate or government - would be exempt from these oversight requirements. Participating countries would also be required to submit especially dangerous research activities to an international review body for approval.� The authors traveled internationally to promote their views.
Bruce Gardner, interim dean of the College of Agriculture and Natural Sciences, is appointed to a "Bay Cabinet" on the recommendation of the Mandel Commmission, which seeks ways for state government to operate more efficiently. Gov. Ehrlich feels a top priority of reform is to better coordinate efforts among state agencies to clean up the bay.
EarthScope, a major U.S. investment in Earth sciences, will probe the planet from "crust to core." Seismometers across the U.S. will image Earth's interior; geodetic sensors will monitor deformation of the crust around the boundary of the North American and Pacific tectonic plates; and a deep hole drilled into California's San Andreas fault will provide an up-close look at fault zone composition and behavior before, during, and after earthquakes. Roberta Rudnick, a geochemist at UM, was spreading the word of the project as a member of the EarthScope science and education committee.
John Bouwkamp, associate professor of horticulture and landscape architecture, and research associate Catherine Ku, used industrial detritus to produce glorious holiday plants. The Washington Post: "Row after row of perfect poinsettias basked in the greenhouse at the University of Maryland, showing off hues in yellow, pink, speckled, spotted -- and every shade of red. But lying beneath more than a thousand plants was a dirty secret: The beautiful blooms had sprung from potfuls of some very ugly stuff�dead chickens, eggshells, even sewage."
Menglin Jin, assistant research scientist in the department of meteorology, earned notice from the media wherever there is pollution, for her discovery that diesel fuel traffic affects pollution aerosol levels in New York City. Her presentation at a meeting of the American Geophysical Union was one of several that supported growing evidence that urbanization has a sharp and alarming effect on the climate, and those changes can wreak havoc with precipitation patterns that supply life's most precious resource: water.
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