Maryland Moments, November, 2005
(Honors, New Programs, Outreach)
Economist Thomas Schelling, distinguished university professor emeritus affiliated with the School of Public Policy and the College of Behavioral & Social Sciences, shared the Nobel Prize in economics with Robert Aumann of the Hebrew University in Jerusalem. The two worked independently of one another for decades with Schelling producing his main work during the Cold War which pitted the United States against the Soviet Union. He used "game theory" methods to explain the era's most vital issues, global security and the arms race. In his landmark book The Strategy of Conflict, he showed that "a party can strengthen its position by overtly worsening its own options, the capability to retaliate can be more useful than the ability to resist an attack, and uncertain retaliation is more credible and more efficient than certain retaliation." Building on Schelling's original ideas, Aumann then applied the tools of mathematical analysis to highlight the alternatives available to one's own country and the opponent in times of conflict. Schelling came to the University of Maryland in 1990 after teaching at Harvard for 31 years. "I reached retirement age at Harvard," he said, "and I wasn't ready to retire."
The university's top graduating seniors honored the teachers and mentors that had the greatest impact in shaping their academic success during a ceremony on Nov. 4. The Philip Merrill Presidential Scholar Program designates the most outstanding students in the university's senior class and asks them to identify the K-12 teacher and university faculty mentor that has encouraged their achievement. Philip Merrill, a long-time University of Maryland supporter, helped establish the program in 2004 with the desire to recognize and celebrate the importance of teaching and mentoring the next generation of scholars.
UM and Montgomery and Prince George's county community colleges announce a pilot program guaranteeing admission to College Park for community college students meeting certain academic standards. Under the plan, students at Montgomery College and Prince George's Community College, who receive at least a 3.2 grade point average and complete other program requirements, will be eligible to enroll at UM's main campus or participate in university classes at the University System of Maryland Shady Grove campus. The Maryland Transfer Advantage Program begins in the fall of 2006 and will be tested for two years.
UM, the flagship of the University System of Maryland, starts an engineering program at the Systems's new Hagerstown campus in January, 2006. Maryland will offer nine professional master's of engineering degrees and six graduate engineering certificates. Students take classes through 'distance learning,' watching through video screens. UM is the fourth System school at Hagerstown.
The Associated Press reports: "By the summer or early fall, the University of Maryland's Center for Agro-Ecology expects to publish a report on the value of four aspects of Maryland's state-owned forests: timber values, which are already largely known; recreation values, which are reflected partly in camping fees and other user fees; environmental values such as wildlife habitat and clean air and water; and passive-use value - the value of 'just knowing something is there,' according to the proposal written by resource economist Robert Wieland, the project leader."
Memorial Chapel, dedicated on October 6, 1952, is rededicated on Veterans Day as UM celebrates its 150th anniversary year. "We are rededicating the Memorial Chapel in the spirit of its founding: as a memorial to those from this campus who gave their lives in service to our nation. We remember their sacrifice and honor their memory through the good work that the Chapel inspires," said President C.D. Mote Jr. "There have been veterans on this campus ever since we were founded as the Maryland Agricultural College."
Ted Mashima, a zoo and wildlife veterinarian on the faculty of the university's branch of the Virginia-Maryland Regional College of Veterinary Medicine (VMRCVM), developed a rescue program for animals impacted by Hurricane Katrina while watching TV. "I was feeling lousy. I wanted to help, but I couldn't go down there." So Mashima did "something even better." He arranged for students to go instead. As associate director of the Center for Public and Corporate Veterinary Medicine at Maryland 's Avrum Gedulsky Center, Mashima works with student veterinarians who rotate through as part of their advanced training. When Mashima learned that some alumni of VMRCVM were gathering a team to go to New Orleans to help with the thousands of pets stranded and separated from their owners by Katrina, he asked if they would take the three students who had just arrived in College Park. The answer was an enthusiastic "yes."
The Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Teaching and the Council for Advancement and Support of Education (CASE) names James Wallace the 2005 Maryland Professor of the Year. According to CASE, the Professor of the Year award identifies outstanding undergraduate instructors that excel as teachers and influence the lives of their students. It recognizes the impact and involvement of university faculty and the contributions teachers can provide to the institution, the community, and the profession. Wallace, a professor of mechanical engineering in the A. James Clark School, is the third University of Maryland, College Park, professor to be named Maryland professor of the Year since CASE began selecting state award winners in 1986.
Society & Culture
Recording artists Dave Wilcox and Nance Pettit donate all the net proceeds from their ablum Out Beyond Ideas to UM's Partner in Conflict Project, which has helped mediate a string of international peace agreements through citizen-to-citizen diplomacy. The album's songs mix original music with mystical poetry from Islam's Sufi tradition, as well as from Christian, Jewish, Buddhist, Hindu and Inuit sources. Though the poetry came from vastly different faiths, Pettit says she and Wilcox found in it a "powerful shared experience" that can unite people. The Partners in Conflict Project counts among its successes closed-door mediation in Maryland that helped end the war in Lebanon in the 1980s and more recently helped end a hot border dispute between Ecuador and Peru after official talks stalled. "Our work and David and Nance's artistry actually share a great deal," says John Davies, a lawyer and social scientist who co-directs Partners in Conflict.
Science & Technology
The UM-directed NASA Deep Impact mission into outer space, which resulted in an historic meeting between Deep Impact's impactor vehicle and the Comet Tempel 1, receives the Vision to Reality award from the Space Frontier Foundation. "Deep Impact was selected because it represents the best accomplishment of the year in turning the vision of true space exploration and the gathering of scientific knowledge, into reality," said Jeff Krukin, executive director of the foundation. The award was presented to mission leader and principal investigator Michael A'Hearn, professor of astronomy, at the foundation's annual conference in Los Angeles.
Tony Mucciardi, adjunct professor of natural resource sciences and landscape architecture, invents the Tree Radar Unit. According to the Washington Post, it "looks like a small shoebox and is built around the principles of ground-penetrating radar, which is used, among other functions, to scan for underground utility pipes. Holding the unit to the tree's trunk, the user sends electromagnetic waves into the interior, scanning for wave reflections that could indicate things such as decay and cavities. By directing the unit toward the ground, roots can be found."
UM researchers take the first steps to develop a 21st century interactive supply chain system for the U.S. military -- one which will get repairable military equipment back into battle sooner and at less cost. With a $2.1 million grant competitively awarded by the Office of the Secretary of Defense, an interdisciplinary team led by the University of Maryland's Center for Public Policy and Private Enterprise will conduct a 12-month project to develop a prototype Web-based supply network for F/A-18 Navy fighter jets. The center will partner with Maryland's A. James Clark School of Engineering on the project. "This is an unprecedented experiment, and it's critical for the military to move in this direction," says Jacques Gansler, former under secretary of defense for acquisition, technology and logistics during the Clinton administration, who now directs the Center for Public Policy and Private Enterprise. "Pulling all these technologies together in the military context can add efficiency, flexibility and maneuverability to U.S. forces."
UM faculty members and other researchers from the Virginia-Maryland Regional College of Veterinary Medicine brief the media at the National Press Club on "Avian Flu and Other Looming Infectious Animal-Human Diseases" and "Disasters and Animals." Daniel Perez, assistant professor and one of the leading avian flu experts in the U.S., and the panel described the potential damage the H5N1 version of the flu could cause in the world, including health and economic effects. The experts said the most important thing governments can do is develop preparedness plans and careful surveillance. They also emphasized that the world is better equipped to handle a pandemic than in the past, and that avian flu is not a rarity in the U.S. Nathaniel Tablante, associate professor of poultry health at the Virginia-Maryland Regional College of Veterinary Medicine: "We do have sporadic outbreaks of avian flu," he said. "Most cases have been of the low-pathogen type."
The coming explosion of Baby Boomers will add to the 15 million Americans afflicted with age-related macular degeneration (AMD), the leading cause of blindness and vision loss in adults age 60 or older. While some people with AMD have benefited from laser surgery, there is really no successful treatment or cure for the disease. But the work of a UM researcher shows that carotenoids, organic pigments necessary to plant growth, may hold a key to the prevention and treatment of the debilitating disorder. Frederick Khachik, an adjunct professor in the chemistry department and senior research scientist for the Joint Institute for Food Safety and Applied Nutrition (JIFSAN) at Maryland, is looking at how the carotenoids lutein and zeaxanthin work in the human eye. They are the only carotenoids found in the retina, the area of the eye most exposed to harmful ultraviolet light. These carotenoids have two important beneficial qualities for the eye: they work as an optical filter to screen out UV rays, and act as antioxidants to prevent damage to eye cells.
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