Maryland Moments, June 2006 University Initiatives
(An Apprecation, Reports of New Programs, Awards)
Philip Merrill, patriot, publisher, and public servant, died while sailing on the Chesapeake Bay. At 72, Merrill's legacies to the state are many and run deep, but in College Park he will be remembered as the man, who, in President C.D. Mote Jr.'s words "believed in building a great university in College Park." The publisher of The Annapolis Capital newspaper and Washingtonian magazine, a diplomat of long-standing who recently ran the nation's Export-Import Bank, he donated $10 million to establish the Merrill College of Journalism. Both he and his wife, Eleanor, were active supporters of many projects at UM. Merrill was eulogized at Washington's Constitution Hall with Dixieland music, cookies, ice cream and a parade of speakers who could not help but remark that Merrill was a both an original character and monumental philanthropist. According to The Capital, before the ceremony "a brass band from the University of Maryland played a medley of patriotic songs, and the audience was later asked to stand and join in on America the Beautiful and Battle Hymn of the Republic."
As if to honor Merrill, the Merrill College's American Journalism Review swept the print criticism category of the National Press Club Awards. The journal reported notice of its honors: "All of the Arthur Rowse Awards in Press Criticism for print went to AJR writers. This prestigious award, named after the retired U.S. News & World Report media critic, honors the year's best examination of the media industry. 'We're thrilled by this recognition for AJR and its outstanding staff and contributors,' said Dean Thomas Kunkel. 'It is another indication that the industry needs and values the kind of depth reporting that is AJR's specialty.' "
More awards for excellence for the Philip Merrill College of Journalism. Editor & Publisher reported on the Livingston Awards for Young Journalists. Also presented was an award named for Richard Cluman, given to a senior professional for their skills as on-the-job mentors. "The Cluman Award went to Eugene L. Roberts, Jr., professor, Philip Merrill College of Journalism at the University of Maryland. Before joining the faculty, Roberts spent 40 years as a newspaperman. He led The New York Times coverage of the civil rights movement in the South, served as its chief Vietnam War correspondent and later was national and managing editor. In 1972 Roberts became the executive editor of The Philadelphia Inquirer, and in the subsequent 18 years led that newspaper to national prominence and its staff to 17 Pulitzer Prizes."
The General Assembly's legislative policy committee approved a $3.65 million investment for the Maryland NanoCenter at UM. Gov. Robert Ehrlich Jr. made the announcement that will allow the purchase of equipment for the NanoCenter's clean room in the newly dedicated Kim Engineering building (the room is named the 'FabLab'.) The NanoCenter is a partnership between the A. James Clark School of Engineering, the College of Computer, Math, and Physical Sciences, and the College of Chemical and Life Sciences.
The Prince of Wales helps UM launch an international effort aimed, in part, at promoting better understanding and easing tensions between Islam and the West. The university is publishing a new series, Essays on the Alliance of Civilizations, written by high-level world figures to stimulate more constructive international dialogues. Prince Charles has written the inaugural essay. The series is the first response to a U.N. initiative, the Alliance of Civilizations, set up last year by the prime ministers of Spain and Turkey to bridge divides and overcome prejudice, misconceptions, misperceptions and polarization which potentially threaten world peace. "The daily violence of words and actions spreads like a fever across cultures and borders," says Suheil Bushrui, the University of Maryland professor co-directing the project. "Yet academic and international dialogues seem too often to focus on mere symptoms and not the infection. We need to change the tone and look for ways to harmonize and integrate cross-cultural discussions."
The Library of American Broadcasting, which is part of UM's University Libraries, named nine new Giants of Broadcasting award winners. Honored at a ceremony in New York City, the inductees included entertainers Kate Smith and Jimmy Durante; Bob Schieffer of CBS News and Barbara Walters and the late Peter Jennings of ABC; media executives Lowry Mays of Clear Channel, Frank Bennack Jr., past president of Hearst, as well as pioneering Hispanic broadcaster Eduardo Caballero of Caballero Spanish Media and the late Dorothy Stimson Bullitt, who founded King Broadcasting of Seattle.
Gary Pavela, director of judicial programs on campus and a nationally influential expert on the creation of university honor codes, consults with Ohio University, which recently revealed that its engineering faculty participated in plagiarism. The Athens (Ohio) News: "An expert who spoke at Ohio University... urged OU officials that if they plan to adopt an 'honor code' system to police academic dishonesty, they should make sure students play a central role, and exercise genuine authority in meting out discipline. 'Students care about (the issue of cheating), because it's the value of their degree that's at stake,' stressed Gary Pavela... of the University of Maryland, College Park. He also argued that, as cheating methods become more high-tech, trying to best computer-savvy students in a kind of cheating 'cold war' will become a losing proposition. Therefore, it's much better to have students and faculty share the oversight of academic honesty, he suggested. 'If it's a game, a war game, us versus them, we lose,' he said.
UM will train junior commissioned officers in leadership skills before they take on assignments leading companies of midshipmen at the Naval Academy. The LEAD Program (Leadership Education And Development) was previously administered by the Naval Postgraduate School in Monterey, Calif. The Baltimore Sun: "Academy officials decided to take bids from universities to see whether they could save money and provide future company officers with a graduate school experience at a civilian institution.... Similar agreements exist between the U.S. Military Academy in West Point, N.Y., and Columbia University and between the U.S. Air Force Academy in Colorado Springs, Colo., and the University of Colorado, but this is new territory for the Naval Academy. In addition to the University of Maryland's bid, the Academy received proposals for the one-year master's program from Johns Hopkins University, George Washington University, Georgetown University and the Naval Postgraduate School."
Maryland receives $2 million from the Howard Hughes Medical Institute (HHMI) to further undergraduate education in biology and related sciences at College Park. This is the fourth HHMI grant to go to of Maryland, one of only 50 universities in the nation chosen to receive the prestigious award in 2006. "Our grantee universities are providing hands-on research experiences to help prepare undergraduates, including women and minorities underrepresented in the sciences, for graduate studies and for careers in biomedical research, medicine, and science education," said Thomas R. Cech, HHMI president. The award, which brings Maryland's total to $6.7 million in HHMI funding since 1992, will be used to expand undergraduate student interdisciplinary research in the chemical and life sciences.
Science & Technology
UM's Mihai Pop is a member of a team that recently completed the first ever large-scale gene sequencing of the human gut, home to the trillions of bacteria that make it possible to digest our food. The findings should lead to a better understanding of how microbes in the gut contribute to health and diseases such as cancer and Crohn's Disease. Pop, a bioinformatics researcher with the university's Center for Bioinformatics and Computational Biology, and formerly with The Institute for Genomic Research (TIGR) where the study was based, was in charge of assembling the huge volume of data about this environment that contains ten times more bacterial cells than there are cells in the entire human body. The study, published in the June issue of the journal Science, analyzed the combined genomes of all bacteria present in stool samples to better understand the bacteria's role in human health.
The Capital Wireless Information Net (CapWIN), which is housed in UM's Center for Advanced Transportation Technology at the Clark School of Engineering, aids the Virginia Criminal Information Network (VCIN) and the Virginia State Police to incorporate criminal database photos as part of law enforcement query returns. By the end of July, an automatic update will be "pushed" to CapWIN users that will enable photographs to be displayed for select queries made to the Virginia Criminal Information Network and the National Crime Information Center (NCIC). The inclusion of VCIN/NCIC images was facilitated by current image integration functions offered by CapWIN, which is a partnership among Maryland, Virginia, and the District of Columbia to develop an interoperable data communication and information sharing network for first responders.
It's known that calcium is critical for bone health. The latest research also shows that vitamin D is more important for bone health than was previously believed. A new study by UM's Center for Food, Nutrition and Agriculture Policy (CFNAP) found that both men and women over 55 don't get enough vitamin D, reflecting a June 21 National Public Radio report that said many Americans don't get enough vitamin D. Nutrition experts predict that vitamin D will be a hot topic for the next Dietary Guidelines Advisory Committee, to begin its review of the data in 2008 in preparation for the 2010 Dietary Guidelines for Americans.
UM Contributes to I-70 Traffic Signs That Offer Drivers Way Out of Jams
The Maryland Center for Advanced Transportation Technology, based at the Clark School of Engineering, will analyze data collected by the State Highway Administration as a high-tech traffic monitoring system is unveiled along I-70. The Baltimore Sun: "A morning commuter driving to Baltimore on Interstate 70 passes an electronic sign in western Howard County. It says the expected travel time to the Beltway is 30 to 40 minutes - three times longer than usual. Five signs, installed... by the State Highway Administration between Mount Airy and the Beltway along I-70, are part of a $310,000 pilot project aimed at providing motorists with up-to-the-minute information on the road conditions ahead." ( Not only do the signs tell drivers the estimated travel time between the signs and the Beltway, it also says what time the signs were last updated.)
In 2002, UM biochemist Victor Muñoz observed something about proteins that challenged the generally accepted theory about how proteins assume their biologically active states - a process called folding. Muñoz suggested that, in contrast to the belief that all proteins fold in one sudden movement, some of them in fact fold and unfold gradually, in a random series of steps called downhill folding. In the journal Nature, Muñoz now presents clear evidence of the potential of his earlier observation. Using nuclear magnetic resonance spectroscopy, which allowed detection of protein folding events at the level of single atoms, Muñoz and his team produced the equivalent of a sequence of snapshots of the protein folding process. Their findings could change the way scientists look at proteins, the molecular nanomachines that perform most of the body's critical functions.
The Discovery Channel: "Smidges of primeval oil found inside grains of Canadian rocks are providing new evidence of an oxygen-rich Earth almost 2.5 billion years ago — suggesting oxygen infused Earth's lower atmosphere 500 million years earlier than previously thought. The clue comes from hydrocarbons, known as sterols, discovered in tiny amounts of oily water hermetically trapped inside the mineral grains. The sterol could only have gotten there in one way: from the residue of ancient algae that required oxygen to make the compound, say researchers who published their discovery in .. the journal Geology. 'The (rock-forming) environment had to have O2,' said geologist Jay Kaufman of the University of Maryland. Kaufman is a specialist in what�s called the Great Oxidation Event, in which Earth�s oceans and atmosphere went from being oxygen-poor to oxygen rich."
Martek Biosciences, a graduate of the Technology Advancement Program, which is part of the Clark School of Engineering's Maryland Technology Enterprise Institute, was named to the Hall of Fame of state incubators in a ceremony hosted, in part, by the Maryland Department of Business and Economic Development.
Business Gazette: "Pixelligent Technologies LLC of College Park has been named Maryland's New Incubator Company of 2006 for its innovative use of advanced lithography to print ever-smaller features on a semiconductor wafer, an advance in nanotechnology. Pixelligent, located in the Technology Advancement Program... incubator of the University of Maryland, is one of the first companies to emerge from the university's extensive and nationally ranked research and development program in nanotechnology, a field of research for manufacturing products at extremely small scale. A human hair is about 80 nanometers wide. Pixelligent�s technology could lead to equipment that prints features as small as 22 nanometers."
Society & Culture
The first annual research symposium offered by the Department of Homeland Security Center of Excellence based at UM, released research findings that challenge some current government strategies. "Much of this new research challenges conventional approaches the government is using to combat and respond to terrorism," says Gary LaFree, the University of Maryland criminologist who directs the National Consortium for the Study of Terrorism and Responses to Terrorism (START). "We're testing the effectiveness of current approaches and we want the government folks in the audience to push back and tell us how these findings may apply in the real world."
UM's Archaeology in Annapolis prgoram digs in the town of Parole — an Annapolis suburb that began as a Civil War prison camp and became an African American community that still exists. Many of the present residents are descendants of the founders. Archaeology in Annapolis director Mark Leone, a professor of anthropology, opened his field camp's work to the public. Commenting on specifics of the dig, Matt Palus, an anthropology doctoral student, said the area's double identity posed a choice for researchers. But despite the mystery of where Camp Parole was located, the focal point for the College Park summer field project was clear: studying signs of African-American family life over generations.
Behavioral scientists have shown that when temperamentally shy children see something as threatening, they show significantly more signs of anxiety than children who aren't shy. But researchers in a new study were surprised to find that rewarding situations may also reinforce anxiety in these same temperamentally shy kids. The study appears in the June issue of the Journal of Neuroscience. "Instead of enjoying the rewarding situation, we believe they worried about performing, about making a mistake," says Koraly Perez-Edgar, a University of Maryland research scientist involved in the study, which was headed by the National Institutes of Health. "It was not the response we predicted." The results from this first ever study to examine how temperamentally shy children respond to reward stimulus, says Koraly Perez-Edgar, could help therapists work with extremely shy children, to help them temper their anxiety in performance situations, even those that should have a pleasant outcome.
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