Maryland Moments, March 2006 University Initiatives
(New Programs, Awards)
March 6 marked the anniversary of the Maryland legislature's approval of the university's school charter. The Baltimore Sun: "Today's ceremony is part of months of anniversary events including an exhibition on and around campus of 50 decorated figures of Testudo, the school's terrapin mascot, a Maryland Public Television showing of a College Park history documentary, and a Maryland Day celebration April 29 featuring a 384-square-foot strawberry shortcake. Today's cake is considerably more modest, to be sliced by university President C.D. 'Dan' Mote Jr. Mote, who took office in 1998, has been running with the baton passed by his predecessor, William E. Kirwan, in claiming the school's place among the country's best public universities."
C.D. Mote Jr. arrived on campus in 1998 pursuing an academically muscular UM, able to take its place among the top 10 public research universities by dint of its expanding quality and reputation. As the 150th anniversary unfolds, Mote talks to The Baltimore Sun in a lengthy Q&A. Mote: "You couldn't find a better place in the country to create a flagship public university than this." While commenting on a wide-range of issues particular to the university and state he adds: "The people of the state need a first-class higher education system. Our state has the highest fraction of its work force working in science and technology of any state in the United States. It needs a range of higher education systems, but ... the top school has to be a really first-class place that can compete on a world scale."
Joining an honor roll of distinguished members of the journalism world is Thomas Kunkel, dean of the Merrill College of Journalism. He receives a National Journalism Award as the Journalism Administrator of the Year. "Thomas Kunkel, University of Maryland, will receive $10,000 and the Charles E. Scripps award. His school also will receive a $5,000 grant. The award is given in cooperation with the Association for Education in Journalism and Mass Communication, the Knight Foundation and the Freedom Forum. Kunkel is an accomplished reporter and editor, a nationally-acclaimed author of books and magazine articles, the leading scholarly authority on The New Yorker, an overseer of the ambitious 'Project on the State of the American Newspaper,' and a prolific researcher. His nominators proclaimed him a great teacher and an accessible, capable administrator 'beloved by faculty and students.' " Kunkel joined The Los Angeles Times, the Knight Ridder Washington Bureau, and the BBC World News Service as honoree.
The Association for Computing Machinery (ACM) recognizes Jack Minker, Professor Emeritus in Computer Science, for his contributions to logic-based methods in computer science, and his role in organizing and stimulating scientific discourse. Minker is an internationally recognized leader in the field of human rights of computer scientists, and advocated for freedoms on behalf of fellow scientists working in totalitarian countries. He receives the Allen Newell Award, which honors contributions that have "breadth within computer science, or that bridge computer science and other disciplines."
M Square, the university's research park, continues its march to be a center of research and technology in the region as NOAA breaks ground on its new center. NOAA: "Virtually all the meteorological data collected globally will arrive at NOAA's Center.... Environmental scientists will analyze this information and generate a wide variety of atmospheric and oceanic forecasts and guidance products using sophisticated numerical weather and climate prediction models."
As it has for 150 years, the influence of the university transcends geographic and social boundaries. Garth Rockcastle, dean of the School of Architecture, Planning and Preservation, came to UM from the University of Minnesota. Looking for a place to live, he picked near-by Hyattsville, because he felt an infusion of an arts colony could resurrect something of the town time forgot. The Washington Post Magazine published a lengthy piece on Rockcastle and his plans: "Though he just moved into the Machen building recently, Rockcastle's experience is closer to camping out than cutting-edge urban living. Renovations, even for architects, can take longer than planned.... And he's already thinking about the rowhouses he wants to build next door."
UM Helps Launch 'Research Parks Maryland'
UM helped launched what may be the nation's first statewide research park association. Research Parks Maryland (RPM) is a new umbrella organization to represent the state's unversity-related research parks including M Square at the University of Maryland, College Park, and the research parks of Johns Hopkins University; University of Maryland, Baltimore; University of Maryland, Baltimore County; and Montgomery College. The new statewide association grew out of conversations assistant vice president for research and commercial development Brain Darmody had with colleagues at several other state university research parks. RPM will serve as a clearinghouse for research parks in Maryland, will foster statewide collaborations, and will monitor federal and state legislative initiatives to promote research parks generally.
Society & Culture
The Washington Post reports: "Judith Freidenberg says there is a lot more to Langley Park than its reputation among some for crime and illegal immigrants -- so much more, in fact, that the Prince George's County community deserves a museum. The University of Maryland anthropology professor held a meeting in Langley Park to gather ideas. Among those offered: exhibits on the different kinds of houses, foods and hairstyles of all the area's new immigrants. Freidenberg, who has curated exhibitions at the Museum of the City of New York and for the Smithsonian Institution, hopes she'll be doing so in Langley Park within a few years. 'I think it definitely will happen,' she said."
Ron Walters, professor of government and politics and director of the African American Leadership Institute, brings his leadership skills to the National Black Peoples Unity Convention in Gary, Ind., for four days of conferences on the black community and plans for its future. According to a Gary newspaper, UM was in the thick of helping to make the meeting go. "University of Maryland graduate students compiled notes and outlines of speeches, panel discussions and question-and-answer sessions under the supervision of convention Executive Committee member Ron Walters, a Maryland professor. Walters said... that a final report, including a detailed agenda for improving black Americans� economic outlook, will be compiled within a few weeks and distributed to participants and key leaders of black organizations."
The U.S. public is increasingly pessimistic about the war in Iraq, according to a Program on International Policy Attitudes. Only 28 percent of respondents said they were confident the U.S. will succeed in its aims in Iraq, down from 40 percent 18 months ago. The public now believes by a two-to-one margin that the Iraq war was one of "choice" and that "it was not necessary for the defense of the United States." By a 54-46 margin, however, Republicans believe it was a "war of necessity." Inter Press: "Most Americans have clearly given up on the idea that the operation in Iraq will have a Hollywood-style ending and are looking for a way out,' said PIPA director Steven Kull."
The New York Times reports on the landmark research of Suzanne Bianchi, professor of sociology. "For four decades, the number of women entering the workplace grew at a blistering pace, fostering a powerful cultural and economic transformation of American society. But since the mid-1990s, the growth in the percentage of adult women working outside the home has stalled, even slipping somewhat in the last five years, leaving it at a rate well below that of men, various studies show.... 'What happened on the road to gender equality?' said Suzanne Bianchi, a sociologist at the University of Maryland. 'A lot of work happened.' Bianchi, who studies time-use surveys done by the Census Bureau and others, has concluded that contrary to popular belief, the broad movement of women into the paid labor force did not come at the expense of their children."
Science & Technology
Lewis 'Ed' Link, senior research fellow in civil and environmental engineering, led a report issued by the Interagency Performance Evaluation Task Force on the failure of levees during Hurricane Katrina. The national news media carried the results of the study, which was issued only three months before hurricane season. McGraw-Hill's Construction magazine: "New Orleans was far more vulnerable to Hurricane Katrina than realized last August, in part because a third of the levee system was below design elevation�in some places by as much as 2.7 ft�due to old survey flaws and subsidence, says a new report from a task force of scientists and engineers. The 789-page report was released March 10 by the Interagency Performance Evaluation Task Force, a group convened by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers to study the performance of the city�s hurricane protections and give guidance to ongoing repairs."
Device Could Make Web Shopping More Secure
Research by university students and faculty advisers produces SecureGo, a USB flash drive with encryption capability for secure online transactions. In late March team members Kun Lin and Lin Yuan of electrical and computer engineering demonstrated the prototype of the SecureGo device at the Oregon Museum of Science and Industry, as part of the Tenth Annual March Madness for the Mind event, sponsored by Portland-based Lemelson Foundation and the National Collegiate Inventors and Innovators Alliance (NCIIA).... Last year the NCIIA awarded the Maryland team a $14,837 grant to help them develop the device. The team also won $5000 in May of 2005 when their business plan placed second in the graduate student category of the University of Maryland's annual business plan competition."
UM scientists note that while Americans' intake of calcium has stopped declining, teenage girls are still not getting enough of the mineral. Calcium intake is going up in some groups of Americans, but teenage girls and young women -- especially African Americans -- are not getting enough calcium at the time in their lives when calcium is most critical to building bone density. "The start of adolescence to about age 30 is the most important time to get enough calcium," said the study's lead author, Richard Forshee of the university's Center for Food, Nutrition and Agriculture Policy. "It's that small window of time when they build the bone density that can help prevent osteoporosis in later years."
NASA's Cassini Spacecraft allows a group of researchers to determine that oddly shaped gaps found in Saturn's rings hint at the existence of long sought "moonlets" and support the theory that the rings are the broken remains of an icy moon shattered long ago in a violent collision. A UM faculty member is part of the research team making the discovery. Space.com: "According to the standard theory, planets form from swirling discs of gas, dust and debris around nascent stars. Large chunks of rock and ice in the disc collide and clump together, forming protoplanets and eventually planets. 'The planets in our solar system, the precursors anyway, probably went through this stage,' said study team member Derek Richardson from the University of Maryland."
The Bay Journal: "A recent report suggests that a small herb may help save the Bay--by saving forests. The study found that ginseng, a plant prized for its medicinal value for centuries, can be a profitable crop in woodlands that could otherwise be developed. Funded by the Maryland Center for Agro-Ecology at UM, the study suggested that the plant, which grows naturally in heavily shaded forests in the western part of the Bay watershed, could even be grown in Eastern Shore woodlands, which face greater development threats.... 'What we are trying to do is have a high-quality crop that will give incentives for keeping our land in forests,' said Marla McIntosh, a professor in the Department of Natural Resource Sciences and Landscape Architecture at the University of Maryland, who led the study."
A UM computer engineer has a message for future song and movie thieves. "If you do something illegal," K.J. Ray Liu said, "we will be able to catch you." Liu and a few of his fellow researchers have developed a way to make the theft of digital media a little more difficult. Their digital fingerprinting creation, which would leave unique impressions on every illegal copy of a piece of media, would allow engineers to trace back through the crimes. Liu led the development team along with Min Wu, a computer engineer at the Institute for Advanced Computer Studies.
Imagine a time when tobacco could be used to cure cancer rather than cause it. Or when it could be used to manufacture items such as shampoo, body lotion, hair conditioner and lipstick. Or as a source of ethanol to fuel automobiles, or as an ingredient in the production of household cleaners, paint and carpet. These possibilities are being pursued by researchers at the College of Agriculture & Natural Resources under a grant from the U.S. Department of Agriculture. The program provides about $300,000 a year for five years.
Canadian Press Service: "A leading scientist in the field of genetic sequencing is calling on publicly funded U.S. researchers and research organizations to throw open their collections of H5N1 avian flu viruses to allow others to work toward lessening the pandemic threat the virus poses. Steven Salzburg wants the U.S. Centers for Disease Control as well as researchers funded by the National Institutes of Health to place their virus sequence data in open-access databanks on an as-processed basis. He hopes such a move would entice scientists elsewhere, as well as governments in H5N1-afflicted countries, to end a pattern of virus hoarding many believe is undermining the world's ability to battle H5N1. 'I think what ought to happen is that the U.S., starting with people funded by NIH and the CDC itself ought to start releasing all of their data and all of their samples � and lead by example,' says Dr. Salzberg, director of the Center for Bioinformatics and Computational Biology at the University of Maryland."
The waters of Africa's Lake Victoria, the world's third-largest lake, ranged in depth from year to year with harmful results before a dam was built. Now, a NASA satellite reveals the lake is reaching historic lows in depth, even with the damn. "Until the Owens Falls Dam began to regulate water levels from the lake�s only outlet in 1954, the amount of water in the lake jumped drastically from year to year depending on rainfall.... But in early 2006, the Jason-1 satellite revealed that Lake Victoria had reached lows not seen since well before the dam was built. 'Jason-1 emits microwave pulses towards the Earth�s surface,' says Charon Birkett, the University of Maryland researcher that heads up the team that prepares data for the Foreign Agricultural Service."
A little clutter on the way to the refrigerator might mean taking a few extra seconds to navigate your way to a late night snack. For a bat flying around in the dark searching for a meal of insects, the 'clutter' of things like leaves and trees could mean missing out on a tasty morsel of dinner altogether. A bat finds its way around with sound rather than sight. Using a sensory process called echolocation, the bat emits ultrasonic pulses that hit objects like leaves, trees, and insects, and bounce back to the bat to tell it what's in the vicinity. When an echo returns from 'clutter' at the same time a sound bounces back from an insect, the bat has a real challenge figuring out where the bug is. In an article published in the open access journal PLoS Biology, UM psychology professor Cynthia Moss reports on new research that shows bats have methods for echolocating food in 'clutter' that may be more complex than scientists have thought.
Researchers at the A. James Clark School of Engineering create new digital fingerprinting technology that could help protect Hollywood's assets and identify national security leak sources, all without impinging on legitimate uses. The Clark School's Min Wu, assistant professor of electrical and computer engineering and the Institute for Advanced Computer Studies, and K.J. Ray Liu, professor in electrical and computer engineering and the Institute for Systems Research, are developing innovative new 'cyber forensics' technologies that will not only protect digital resources but also trace those who attempt to steal or misuse them through sophisticated "collusion attacks," a common piracy method used by today's cyber thieves.
UM Zooming Software Offers Fast, Easy Photo Storage That's Now Free
Compiling digital images has never been easier. We take them with cell phones and digital cameras, get them through emails from family and friends and download them from the Internet. However, keeping up with a vast and ever growing library of images is anything but easy. Ben Bederson, director of the University of Maryland's pioneering Human Computer Interaction Laboratory, understands this challenge -- his own digital library has nearly 10,000 images of family, friends and colleagues. And he has a great solution that he loves to demonstrate: fast and easy software that he and graduate student Hyunmo Kang developed, known as PhotoMesa. Bederson's company Windsor Interfaces offers the newest and fastest version of PhotoMesa (version 3.1) to the public for free.
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