Maryland Moments, February, 2004
(Special Programs, Awards, Appointments)
More than 5,000 Maryland school children put a half-year of rigorous study in preparing for UM's annual Black Saga Competition. Statewide, elementary and middle school students competed in academically exacting history contests. The winners of each school's competition advanced to the state finals at the university in March. This year the competition expanded 40 percent to include nearly 70 schools across Maryland.
Three University of Maryland faculty, two in engineering and one in computer science, are among the 76 newly elected members of the National Academy of Engineering. Newly elected are Jeong Kim, professor of practice, electrical and computer engineering, and mechanical engineering; Gerald E. Galloway, research professor in the Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering; and Gilbert (Pete) Stewart, professor, Department of Computer Science. In its announcement, the NAE lauded Kim for his contributions to national defense and security through improved battlefield communication; Galloway for his distinguished leadership in the management of sustainable water resources and education in environmental engineering; and Stewart for his development of numerical algorithms and software widely used in engineering computation.
The Maryland Industrial Partnerships Program (MIPS), affiliated with the Technology Advancement Program in the Clark School of Engineering, awarded 21 companies $2.7 million in grant money. MIPs pairs UM researchers with high-tech companies to conduct research on products that have commercial appeal.
Atlantic Biomass Conversions, Inc. is working with the UM, Hood College, and the U.S. Dept. of Agriculture to produce a patentable bioreactor system to maximize production of fuel-cell-quality methanol from sugar beet pulp, an industry that could produce 250 million gallons of methanol per year. The company received $70,000 in grants from both the Maryland Industrial Partnerships Program (Clark School) and the Maryland Technology Development Corporation (TEDCO) to help fund the project. Dr. Nam Sung Wang, associate professor in the department of chemical engineering, is the lead researcher for UM.
Gottlieb Oehrlein, director for the Laboratory for Plasma Processing of Materials and a professor of materials science and engineering (Clark School), received half of a $100,000 grant from the Maryland Technology Development Corporation for research on new plasma technologies in the semiconductor and optics industries.
Datasteam, situated among the firms in the Technology Advancement Program (Clark School), projects it will hire 10 to 15 new employees this year. Since DataStream partnered with TAP in 2000, the firm grew from four to 26 employees and doubled its revenues each year.
A course taught at the University of Maryland's Smith School of Business was honored by the United States Association for Small Business and Entrepreneurship. The course, New Markets Growth Fund Practicum, was unanimously selected as the winner of the 2003 Outstanding Entrepreneurship Course of the Year award at the organization's annual conference.
President Bush appointed assistant professor Allison Druin to the National Commission on Libraries and Information Science (NCLIS). Druin holds a joint appointment in the College of Information Studies and the Institute for Advanced Computer Studies. She is an expert in human-computer interaction and children's use of information technology. Druindirects the International Children's Digital Library, a joint project of UM and the Internet Archive.
Susan Schwab, formerly dean of the School of Public Affairs who left last summer to take a high-ranking post at the Treasury Department, is the new president of the University System of Maryland's fund-raising arm. Schwab ended up not taking the government post and had resumed her presence at UM as public affairs professor.
Society & Culture
Min Qi Wang, professor of public and community health, and Donna Howard, assistant professor of public and community health, reported teenage girls who have sex with more than one partner in a short period of time are likely to engage in other risk behaviors such as fighting, binge drinking, smoking cigarettes, using cocaine or sniffing glue. The study of more than 3,000 female students in the U.S. appeard in the American Journal of Health Behavior.
Younger children aged 6-8 are getting a lot more homework, according to a University of Michigan study which was led by Sandra Hofferth, professor or family studies. Hofferth encourages parents to take notice, whenever children seem burdened by assignments. "A parent might want to ask 'Why is my child spending so much time on homework?'.... It could be the sign of a problem."
Kenneth Beck, professor of public and community health, led research into the effectiveness of having parental involvement in teaching teenage drivers, rather than just leaving the process to the steps the state requires to acquire a license. Driver licensing systems work better if they are integrated with programs to help parents instruct and advise their children.
Michael Olmert, a lecturer in the department of English and two-time Emmy award winner, won a "Gold World Medal" from the New York Festivals organization as the screenwriter for the Discovery Channel's Walking With Cavemen documentary. At the time of its premier last June, the program was the most-watched documentary on basic cable for 2003. Some 14.7 million people watched at least a part of the program's three premier telecasts.
Science & Technology
Two key elements of a new generation of Web technology were announced by the World Wide Web Consortium (W3C) . Approval and deployment of the standards, known as the Resource Description Framework (RDF) and the Web Ontology Language (OWL), mark an important step in the transition of the Semantic Web from research project to practical and commercially useful Web technology. For James Hendler, professor of computer science, the announcement brought evidence that his dream of a Web where computers can make sense of every kind of information, from songs to spread sheets, is becoming reality.
Katherine Stewart, assistant professor of decision and information technologies in the Smith School of Business, has received a $500,000 grant from the National Science Foundation to study increasingly popular Open Source Software. The five-year award allows Stewart to examine factors that influence successful uses and applications of the software. The most commonly known Open Source Software is Linux, an operating system considered a competitor to Microsoft's Windows.
Eugenia Kalnay, distinguished university professor of meteorology, and Ming Cai, associate research scientist in meteorology, proposed in the journal Nature last year that urbanization, agriculture and other human changes to the landscape are making the Earth warmer. The landmark hypothesis struck a chord with the scientific community and in 2004 is heavily debated. Kalnay: “We were both taken aback that instead of going quietly, we got hundreds of comments and questions.”
Lahouari Bounoua, NASA and the Earth System Science Interdisciplinary Center, is co-author of a report in Remote Sensing of the Environment that states throughout history humans have settled in areas with the best lands for growing food. Bounoua: “Urbanization is not a bad thing. It's a very useful way for societies to get together and share resources. But it would be better if it were planned in conjunction with other environmental factors. Studies like this one.... may lead to smarter urban-growth strategies in the future.” Marc Imhoff of NASA was lead author of the study.
DateLens, a unique calendar interface for PCs and Pocket PCs developed at the University of Maryland, was made available for free download. DateLens is the latest of many original, innovative products developed by Ben Bederson and his colleagues in the university’s Human Computer Interaction Laboratory.
As science speculated on a possible avian flu pandemic emenating from Asia, Daniel Perez, assistant professor of virology at the Virginia-Maryland Regional College of Veterinary Medicine, spoke to both domestic and international media. How the disease was trasnmitted from sick birds to humans baffled researchers.
More Maryland News in February
Joanna Chilcoat moved on from her first starring role to work with Academy Award winner DeNiro in the coming movie Hide and Seek.
Alumna Carly Fiorina, chairwoman and CEO of Hewlett Packard, is one of eight aerospace and technology experts selected for the President's Commission on Implementation of U.S. Space Exploration Policy.
Alumna Sheila Cherry is the first black person to head the National Press Club, a gathering point for 4,000 media members in the world's most influential capital city. Her degree from UM: marketing merchandising.
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