Maryland Moments, May, 2004
(Honors, New Programs)
The American Academy of Arts and Sciences announced the election of 178 new fellows and 24 new foreign honorary members. The 202 men and women, who are prominent figures in scholarship, business, the arts, and public affairs, will be inducted into the 224-year-old academy at a ceremony in October in Cambridge, Mass. Admitted from UM were C.D. Mote Jr., president of the university and professor of mechanical engineering; Ira Berlin, distinguished university professor of history; and William Galston, Stern Professor of Civic Engagement and director of the Institute for Philosophy and Public Policy. The university now has 38 members of the Academy.
The 234th commencement at UM featured as its principal speaker Homeland Security Secretary Tom Ridge, former governor of neighboring Pennsylvania. Ridge, whose daunting task is to keep terror at bay, made an appeal for public service at a time of need for civic involvement. Soon after graduation, the nation went on a higher security stance heading into a summer of major domestic and foreign events. Almost 2,000 students received advanced degrees and over 4300 undergraduates earned diplomas.
The university had 40 students win awards during 2003-04 in more than 30 highly competitive national awards programs. Two of the most prominent winners were women engineers: Jennifer Marie Roberts, an electrical engineering and computer science double major, and Alice Turner Ryan, an aerospace engineering major, both earned National Science Foundation awards of $30,000 a year plus tuition to pursue graduate education in the sciences. In addition, Roberts won a $25,000 scholarship from the Fannie & John Hertz Foundation, and Ryan received a $28,000 National Defense, Science and Engineering Scholarship.
Kavita Khurana won an Anita Borg Memorial Scholarship Award, which is funded by Google. She was one of 20 students nationwide to be selected a winner of the award, named for the founder of The Institute for Women in Technology.
Nobel Prize recipient Shirin Ebadi was a strong-voiced figure addressing the crowd at the Comcast Center May 12. The Baltimore Sun: "If she is trying to earn the Nobel after the fact, she is not doing it with minced words and self-serving cant." Ebadi, an Iranian lawyer, was awarded the Nobel Prize in 2003 for her work in expanding democracy and human rights, specifically for women and children. In her speech, which appealed to reform, she pointed to the new center for Persian studies at Maryland as an example of how that cause in the Arab world might be advanced.
UM was one of the 12 universities selected by Súperonda Magazine for having "Promising Programs" in Latin-American studies. "The University of Maryland's Latin American Studies Department offers students the option to focus on specifics of South America,s uch as Cultures of the Amazon and the Politics of Brazil."
Gene Roberts, professor of journalism, led a drive to underwrite "the nation's two top journalism reviews," according to Editor & Publisher--UM's American Journalism Review and the Columbia Journalism Review. Roberts, who is best known for shepherding the Philadelphia Inquirer through its Pulitzer Prize run of the 1970s and 80s, told E&P the new committee had raised more than $350,000 and signed up some 4,000 new subscriptions for AJR, published by the Philip Merrill College of Journalism, and CJR, published by the Columbia University Graduate School of Journalism in New York.
BodyMedia, a provider of wearable body monitoring products, negotiated an agreement with UM's Office of Technology Commercialization regarding the research of James Hagberg, professor of kinesiology. He is a pioneer in research that identifies individuals with certain health conditions, which would most benefit from exercise. According to the CEO of BodyMedia, "The University of Maryland stands to make substantial, incremental money as this product has substantial impact."
John Porcari, vice president for administrative affairs, organized regional outreach in a meaningful way to lobby the Bush administration to not cut the current Amtrak subsidy by 25 percent. "About 2 million of Amtrak's roughly 24 million passengers in 2003 were from Maryland," said Porcari, former state transportation secretary. "It would be hard to imagine the traffic gridlock on area highways and in airports without the system." Porcari is a member of the Greater Washington Board of Trade who presided over the Amtrak Business Coalition conference.
Science & Technology
Michael Raupp, professor of entomology, was the unofficial expert publicist for the billions of Brood X cicadas who emerged from the ground to complete a 17-year life cycle that culminated in a frenzy of noise. Raupp appeared on ABC's Good Morning America and CBS's The Early Show on multiple occasions; he charmed the BBC, MSNBC and CNN with appearances. He was quoted in the print media around the world. As an offshoot of his efforts at Cicadamania, graduate student Jenna Jadin offered her Cicada-Licious Cookbook. The frenzy of publicity from that tome was culminated by a an Agence France-Presse review, which let the French know what cicada cuisine was all about.
UM and UCLA were given the go-ahead by DOE to jointly host a Center for Multiscale Plasma Dynamics, using facilities at both of the schools. With participation from Princeton University, the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and the University of Michigan, the center brings together scientists with expertise in applied mathematics, theoretical and computational plasma physics and basic and performance dominated plasma experiments. DOE funding for the University of Maryland/UCLA-led Fusion Science Center was to total $6.4 million over five years. William Dorland, assistant professor of physics, directed UM's participation in the project.
The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration announced that an additional $678,000 would be included in a multi-year, $9.7 million agreement it signed with the Cooperative Institute for Climate Studies at the University of Maryland, College Park. The institute conducts research to determine how satellite data can be used to analyze climate variability, and it is part of the Earth Systems Science Center, a joint venture that includes the departments of meteorology, geology and geography and the NASA Goddard Space Flight Center.
A team led by the Boeing Corp. sought funds from the Department of Defense to flight test a new type of helicopter blade that reduced vibration by up to 80 percent. The other participants in the $10 million Smart Material Actuated Rotor Technology (SMART) rotor system were the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA), NASA, the U.S. Army, the University of Maryland, the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, and the University of California at Los Angeles.
Russell Dickerson, professor of meteorology and chair of the department, found last August's electrical blackout, which crippled the Northeast, "a unique opportunity to explore what would happen to air quality if power emissions were reduced." What he found by flying over the area was that pollutants associated with power plants "fell dramatically. Sulfur dioxide levels decreased by 90 percent, there was around half the amount of ozone and visibility increased by 40 kilometres."
An article in the journal Science reported on a paper that called for a sea change in how scientists study nature and the practices that are used to sustain the environment. "It's a plan for cooperation between science and technology that will be 'music to some folks' ears and blasphemy to others,' according to UM biology professor Margaret Palmer, lead author of the paper. 'We can't save nature just to save nature any more. We have to figure out ways to meet human needs while conserving life's support systems.' " Ecology for a Crowded Planet was written by a committee of the Ecological Society of America.
Aravind Srinivasan, associate professor of computer science, contributed to research predicting the effects of a smallpox outbreak in an urban area. The journal Science: "Assessments of how best to respond to bioterrorist attack have come up with conflicting results in the matter of smallpox vaccination. Is mass vaccination vital? Or can targeted vaccination of mobile at-risk individuals be effective? A sophisticated new simulation suggests that, if the smallpox release is detected promptly and the population retreats home quickly, targeted vaccination can do the job in an urban situation."
A powerful discovery in antiviral technology, a system for determining the location of radio transmitters, and a technique for using celestial bodies for interstellar navigation were the winners of UM's 17th annual Invention of the Year Awards. Jonathan David Dinman, associate professor in the department of cell biology and molecular genetics, discovered the anti-viral treatment; Professor Ashok Agrawala and Moustafa Amin Youssef of the department of computer science created the space-finder, which is called "Horus"; and graduate research assistant Suneel Ismail Sheikh and associate professor Darryll Pines of the department of aerospace engineering developed a novel navigation system.
Brent Little and John Hryniewicz, both formerly of the Lab for Physical Sciences at UM, are co-founders of the company, Little Optics, and winners of the Award for Entrepreneurship. Little Optics, formerly a UM start-up now based in Annapolis Junction, was founded in 2000. The company designs and develops integrated optical components for communications, military, and sensing applications that dramatically improve on current products, both in price and performance.
Freshman Sicong "Silvia" Hou's work to develop catalysts that improve the effectiveness of alternative fuel cells may one day lessen America's dependence on foreign oil, but her commitment to the research won her top honors as the 2004 Undergraduate Research Student of the Year. A chemical engineering major, Hou is the first freshman to be given the honor. Winning the Mentor of the Year award was Professor Melanie Killen from the department of human development in the College of Education.
The Maryland Center for Agro-Ecology, part of the College of Agriculture & Natural Resources, commissioned three economics firms to determine what kind of land is available for timber harvesting. Russell Brinsfield, the center's executive director, said the study doesn't paint a hopeful picture for the state's timber industry, centered in western counties and the Lower Shore.
Society & Culture
The Baltimore Sun: "Most Marylanders who died from methadone-related overdoses between 2000 and 2002 were from outside Baltimore, and few were known to be in drug treatment programs at the time of their deaths, new research shows. The study by the Center for Substance Abuse Research at UM did not explain the reason for the recent increase in methadone deaths and could not determine whether the drug was more likely to be obtained legally or illegally...." Erin Artigiani, deputy director of CESAR: "We didn't have any indication that this was diverted methadone from treatment programs."
Non-Traditional Family Hours Harm Families, Health: Study
Harriett Presser, distinguished university professor of sociology, released a study that declares families who work the 24/7 week need government help. The Christian Science Monitor: "People who work non-traditional hours run a risk to their health and their family life that must be addressed by government, a U.S. researcher argues.... 'The economy that never sleeps poses risks to the workers who staff it, and to their families,' said Dr. Presser." The study was published in Contexts, the journal of the American Psychological Association.
Scott Schieman, associate research scientist in sociology, and graduate student Stephen Meersman revealed why the decline of a neighborhood affects senior citizens the most. The result can be anger, depression and anxiety as well as various physical symptoms. But are these symptoms inevitable for elders who live in a deteriorating neighborhood? The researchers found these problems could be modified or buffered by social support and when seniors feel they have control over other events in their lives.
Thomas Schelling, distinguished professor in the School of Public Affairs, was among Eight economists, including a number of Nobel Prize winners, who participated in a week-long conference, Copenhagen Consensus, where they were asked to prioritize how to spend an imaginary extra $50 billion to improve the world. The group listed AIDs and hunger as World's worst worries, but surprisingly coming in No. 3 was the need for free trade to enrich poorer nations.
UM is part of a higher education revolution in China, according to the Chronicle of Higher Education. The university sends its professors to teach in a range of disciplines, from business to smart growth to the law. The Chronicle wrote of the law, as criminologists and their students embark on a learning curve that includes jet-lagged instructors being treated as honored guests, and students taking it all in like sponges at Nanjing Normal University.
More Maryland Moments in May
A campus meeting designed to curb excessive Terrapin fan behavior allowed a wide range of the campus community viewss. There are those students who feel they should be able to say anything at anytime and there are those who are condemn displays that embarrass UM. The discussion included heartfelt angst from Clifford Kendall, chair of the Board of Regents, and remarks by coaches Ralph Friedgen, Gary Williams and Sasho Cirovski. David Krieger, who heads a student committee that is attempting to channel the energies of the fans towards a higher plain, spoke. His group was promised $15,000 in support from the department of athletics.
Richard Arnold was one of 11 men and women to join the ranks of NASA's Astronaut corps. He received a master' degree from UM in marine biology.
Doreen Baingana, a graduate of UM's Creative Writing Program, was nominated for the Caine Prize, which is awarded for a short story published in English by an African writer whose work has reflected African sensibilities." Baingana has previously won the AWP (Association of Writers and Writing Programs) award series in short fiction. She has lived in the U.S. for 12 years and works for Voice of America radio.
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