Maryland Moments, March, 2004
(Appointments, Honors, Programs)
President C.D. Mote Jr. was among a panel of 10 research-university presidents from around the nation gathered to discuss policy at the New York Press Club. Of great concern was the diminishing number of foreign science and technology students, due to increased background checks and better economic times in many foreign countries. The potential shortage came as America shifted from an industrial and manufacturing base to an economy increasingly based on innovation. Economic globalization may ensure that the loss of more than 3 million U.S. factory jobs is permanent. "Every time we have a downturn on the assembly side there is more of a resulting emphasis on the creator and design side," said Mote.
The Black Saga Competition held its championship finals and included are a record 48 schools vying for gold. The Baltimore Sun and Washington Post covered the event founded and directed by Charles Christian, professor of geography. "What was, I think, important today is more diversity. It's almost as if those schools that are white are beginning to understand the African American experience."
Barbara Thorne, professor of entomology who has a long history of involvement in undergraduate education, was selected to succeed Maynard "Sandy" Mack as director of the Honors Program. Thorne recently made news for discovering what may be a missing link in understanding Charles Darwin's theory of evolution among colonies of primitive termites. Her graduate degrees in evolutionary biology allowed her to study under the legendary scientist and Pulitzer Prize winner Edward O. Wilson at Harvard.
Melissa Boteach, a government and politics and Spanish major who organized the Fair Trade Advocacy Club on campus to address the economic hardships faced by South American coffee farmers, won a Truman Scholarship, which is given to only 75 to 80 students nationally a year. As a Truman Scholar, Boteach received financial support to continue her studies, and she had the opportunity to work with other scholars and have access to federal government internships and employment.
Science & Technology
Ben Bederson, director of the Human-Computer Interaction Laboratory, created Windsor Interfaces to develop novel applications to help people better use their personal computers and PDAs. The company's first product, DateLens, already is a hit. PDACorp: "They have managed to make a piece of software that behaves rather unlike any I've seen before, yet made me feel right at home using it instantly. It looks familiar with all the standard controls used in Windows interfaces, but the way these controls react and interact will make you wish that the Windows standards could be somewhat re-written. Thoroughly recommended."
Andrew Dessler, associate research scientist at the Earth System Science Interdisciplinary Center, and Ken Minschwanger, a physicist at the New Mexico Institute of Mining, released a NASA study that found some climate models might be overestimating the amount of water vapor entering the atmosphere as the Earth warms. Since water vapor is the most important heat-trapping greenhouse gas in our atmosphere, some climate forecasts may be overestimating future temperature increases. Dessler: "One of the responsibilities of science is making good predictions of the future climate, because that's what policy makers use to make their decisions. This study is another incremental step toward improving those climate predictions."
The Ranger, a four-armed satellite repair robot, developed by the Space Systems Laboratory, could come to the rescue of the Hubble Space Telescope, according to the Denver Post. The newspaper said Ranger was part of a proposal by UM to fix the aging wonder; UM was also part of a proposal authored by Lockheed Martin. In all, there were 26 ideas being considered by NASA to fix the telescope.
Two researchers funded by NASA and affiliated with both UM and the Woods Hole Research Center--Claire Jantz, a Ph.D student in geography, and Scott Goetz, adjunct associate professor of geography—reported that developed land in the greater Washington-Baltimore metropolitan area will increase by a projected 80 percent by the year 2030. Their findings came with the utilization of NASA and commercial satellites and a United States Geological Survey computer model, called SLEUTH.
The College of Life Sciences and the department of chemistry and biochemistry dedicated the G. Forrest Woods Memorial Atrium, named for the Distinguished University Professor and longtime member of the chemistry faculty. The atrium is part of the new state-of-the-art chemistry wing that is used for education and research.
J. Lee Hellman, a retired entomologist still affiliated with the College of Life Sciences, was co-author of a report in a scientific journal which described a new species of beetle being discovered in Maryland's Seth State Forest. Hellman first documented the beetle in 1974.
Society & Culture
Mexican poet and UM Distinguished Professor José Emilio Pacheco received the first Pablo Neruda literary award. The prize is named after Nobel Laureate Pablo Neruda and is designed to commemorate the 100th anniversary of the Chilean's birth. The prize is given to the author whose work makes a "remarkable contribution to the cultural and artistic dialogue" of the hispanic world.
The Center for International and Security Studies released a study of selected major media outlets that said media swallowed whole the claims of government officials about the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction in Iraq and elsewhere. The report, which earned international news coverage, was authored by Susan Moeller of the Merrill School of Journalism. Moeller: "The 'inverted pyramid' style of news writing, which places the most 'important' information first, produced much greater attention to the administration's point of view on WMD issues at the expense of alternative perspectives."
Economics professors William Evans and Robert Schwab and Sean Corcoran, who earned his economics Ph.D. at Maryland, researched the quality of public school teaching, poring over test results from 1964 to 2000. As reported in the New York Times: "Whereas close to 20 percent of females in the top decile in 1964 chose teaching as a profession, 'making it their top choice, the economists write,' only 3.7 percent of top decile females were teaching in 1992, making teachers about as common as lawyers in this group. So the chances of getting a really smart teacher have gone down substantially."
On the anniversary of the start of the Iraq war, National Public Radio assembled six experts to reflect on what U.S. troops experienced a year ago, what they have been through since and how they feel now. Also, how has the war shaped politics and culture in the region? One of those analyst was Shibley Telhami, Anwar Sadat Professor of Peace and Development.
More Maryland Moments in December
Mr. Peanut, the iconic legume in top hat and cane, joined with the world's strongest turtle, the Maryland mascot, in advertisements designed to make the aging nut's products more attractive to a Final Four audience, which appreciated the toff showing his moves on the basketball court and dance floor. The Duke University Blue Devil, the Syracuse University Orangeman, and the University of Kansas Jayhawk were also chosen to hang with Mr. Peanut.
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