Maryland Moments, February 2007
(Rankings, New Programs, Honors)
"Mathematics professor Raymond Johnson received the 2006 American Association for the Advancement of Science Mentor Award for Lifetime Achievement. One of UM's first African American professors, Johnson was rewarded for his diligent efforts to help underrepresented students earn doctoral degrees in the sciences. Physicist S. James Gates, Jr. won the AAAS 2006 Public Understanding of Science and Technology Award. Gates, who is the John S. Toll Professor of Physics, is a leading educator in teaching the world about the often bewildering world of particle physics and string theory.
UM raises more than a $100 million for scholarships and other student support, a milestone that puts the university well on its way to reaching the $350 million goal for scholarship gifts in its $1 billion Great Expectations fundraising campaign. The scholarship funds will support need-based and merit undergraduate scholarships, as well as graduate fellowships, insuring that the university will be affordable, accessible and able to offer a top quality education to the most talented students from Maryland and the nation. 'Lack of financial resources will not be a barrier to attending Maryland 's flagship university,' said University of Maryland president C.D. Mote Jr. 'A college education has become mandatory for most important positions in our knowledge-based economy. At the same time, the cost of education has increased significantly. The University of Maryland is creating alternatives to help talented students gain a high-quality education that will prepare them for leadership in society and in the global economy.' "
Ben Shneiderman, professor of computer science, and Jennifer Preece, professor and dean of the College of Information Studies, have their research on an emergency Internet system proposal published extensively, in both the popular media and science journals. (Breaking the news were Science, Nature, New Scientist, Technology Review, the Discovery Channel and the BBC, which wrote: "A pilot could start later this year based at the University of Maryland, driven by 40,000 students and staff.") Science: "When individuals need help for medical emergencies or fires, most U.S. residents reach for their phones to dial 911. But when natural disasters, public health threats, or terrorist attacks occur that affect thousands of individuals or more, 911 operators cannot handle all the requests. Such disasters may require massive coordination of public and private agencies, plus cooperation from millions of citizens. Public use of Web-based social computing services, such as MySpace or Facebook, has spread to hundreds of millions of users. This suggests that local, state, and federal agencies could build community response grids (CRGs) where residents could report incidents in seconds, receive emergency information, and request resident-to-resident assistance."
Baltimore Business Journal: "Manekin LLC's construction arm has broken ground on a $22 million office building to be part of a $200 million research park being developed near the University of Maryland's flagship College Park campus.... Manekin Construction is building the 120,000-square-foot, four-story office building at 5825 University Research Court at M Square - The University of Maryland Research Park, a complex being jointly developed by Manekin, the University of Maryland and Columbia-based Corporate Office Properties Trust. The $200 million research park, once completed in about a decade, will include 2 million square feet of space for research, laboratory and incubator facilities. Tenants at the facility, expected to employ a significant number of researchers and staff members, will have the opportunity to collaborate with colleagues at the College Park campus."
Garth Rockcastle, dean on the School of Architecture, Planning and Preservation, agrees to help Annapolis with forming a vision for the city. Annapolis Capital: "Forgoing the governmental master planning process in Annapolis, one group of citizens is quietly coming together behind the scenes to form its own vision of the future of the city. Led by Greg Stiverson, former head of the Historic Annapolis Foundation, and Garth Rockcastle...the group conducted an informational meeting...at Maryland Hall. Mr. Rockcastle described the project as a 'big, optimistic goal focused on the health, welfare and future of the city' and said he was organizing a panel of 12 major players — nationally and internationally known planners and designers — who will examine the past, present and future of the city, looking ahead as much as 100 years." Rockcastle has also been a major driver of a Hyattsville rebirth.
According to the UK's Financial Times, the Robert H. Smith School of Business is ranked No. 30 in the world, up eight places from last year.
Within these rankings, UM ranks in the Top 10 globally in two departments: No. 5 in Research, and No. 8 in Women Board Percentage.
Smith is ranked No. 17 in the U.S., up four places from last year.
Smith's MBA program is ranked No. 2 among the top 20 U.S. schools in 'value for money'.
Smith is No. 2 in MBA 'placement rate' among top 20 U.S. schools.
(95% of Smith School grads accept jobs within three months of earning their degrees.)
University Business lauds college and universities in the U.S. and Canada that practice effective marketing programs. UM leads a list of four and is the only large public university (the others highlighted are Centre College, Kentucky; York University, Toronto; and the University of Pittsburgh at Bradford.) The magazine praises the work of Terry Flannery, assistant vice president of University Marketing and Communications, and her staff.
Science & Technology
The European Space Agency/NASA Ulysses satellite finds that although it is very close to the minimum of its 11-year sunspot cycle, the Sun showed that it is still capable of producing a series of remarkably energetic outbursts. Space.com: " 'Surprisingly, the temperature in the north polar coronal hole was about 7 to 8 percent lower compared with the south polar coronal hole,' said Professor George Gloeckler, Principal Investigator for the Solar Wind Ion Composition Spectrometer (SWICS) on board Ulysses. 'We couldn't tell then whether this was simply due to progressive cooling of both polar coronal holes as the Sun was approaching its minimum level of activity in 1996, or whether this was an indication of a permanently cooler north pole.' Now, as Ulysses again passes over the large polar coronal holes of the Sun at solar minimum we will finally have the answer."
An Associated Press story runs globally: "At the University of Maryland, engineering professor Rama Chellappa and a team of graduate students have worked on systems that can identify a person's unique gait or analyze the way someone walks to determine if they are a threat. A camera trained to look for people on a watch list, for example, could combine their unique walk with facial-recognition tools to make an identification. A person carrying a heavy load under a jacket would walk differently than someone unencumbered, which could help identify a person hiding a weapon. The system could even estimate someone's height. With two cameras and a laptop computer set up in a conference room, Chellappa and a team of graduate students recently demonstrated how intelligent surveillance works. A student walked into the middle of the room, dropped a laptop case, then walked away. On the laptop screen, a green box popped up around him as he moved into view, then a second focused on the case when it was dropped. After a few seconds, the box around the case went red, signaling an alert."
UM's Center for Integrative Environmental Research conducts a study that is the first to look at the economic and environmental effects of having a heavy coal-based electric generation state like Maryland join the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative (RGGI). The cooperative effort by Northeastern and Mid-Atlantic states to reduce carbon dioxide emissions would not cause disruptions in Maryland and higher utility bills, as had been previously suggested. Baltimore Sun: "Reducing global warming gases from power plants in Maryland will not hurt consumers or cause blackouts, but it will cut utility profits and require the state to import more electricity, according to a report released yesterday. 'This shows one can do good environmental policy that is also sound economically,' said Matthias Ruth, principal investigator of the study led by the University of Maryland. The 179-page report examines what will happen after July when Maryland joins a coalition of nine Northeastern states that have pledged a 10 percent trim in carbon dioxide emissions from coal-fired power plants by 2018. The conclusion that carbon dioxide generated by the burning of coal and oil is increasing the heat-trapping layer of greenhouse gases around the Earth is reinforced by a recent report by a panel of United Nations scientists."
Computerworld: "Left online for 24 days to see how hackers would attack them, four Linux computers with weak passwords were hit by some 270,000 intrusion attempts -- about one attempt every 39 seconds, according to a study conducted by a researcher at the University of Maryland. Among the key findings: Weak passwords really do make hackers' jobs much easier. The study also found that improved selection of usernames and associated passwords can make a big difference in whether attackers get into someone's computer. The study was led by Michel Cukier, an assistant professor of mechanical engineering and an affiliate of the university's Clark School Center for Risk and Reliability and Institute for Systems Research. His goal was to look at how hackers behave when they attack computer systems -- and what they do once they gain access."
Baltimore Business Journal: " The Maryland Technology Development Corp. (Tedco) awarded six Maryland technology companies nearly $450,000 in combined funding Wednesday. The $449,625 doled out to six companies, including two located in the Baltimore region, comes from the technology organization's Maryland Technology Transfer Fund, a program designed to help businesses transfer and commercialize technologies from Maryland universities and federal laboratories." UM is the only institution that has more than one award winner. "Hygea BioPharma of Gaithersburg, with three employees, is working with the University of Maryland School of Veterinary Medicine at College Park to develop a vaccine against infectious bursal disease virus, or IBDV, in chickens. MobiLaps of Silver Spring, with three employees, is working with the University of Maryland (Dingman Entrepreneurial Center, Smith School) to provide a suite of technologies that empower Internet service providers to become portals for e-commerce activities among local users and local businesses."
Society & Culture
Newsweek reports on benchmark research from the College of Education: "Child-development experts have spent years studying geekdom: what it is that makes one child more likely to be rejected by another. But University of Maryland professor Melanie Killen took a different approach. Instead of focusing on social deficits, Killen, associate director of the Center for Children, Relationships and Culture, focused on another category of rejection—when children are excluded because of gender, race or ethnicity rather than their behavior. Killen calls it 'group membership.' Her study, Children's Social and Moral Reasoning About Exclusion, published in this month's issue of Current Directions in Psychological Science, shows that kids become aware of group membership from at least the time they�re in preschool. But, while kids universally feel that it's unfair to reject someone based exclusively on their gender, race or religion, there are some situations in which they do so anyway."
The Dallas Morning News picks-up a UM release: "New research from the Child Development Laboratory at the University of Maryland shows that shyness in kids could relate to the manner in which a stress-related gene in children interacts with being raised by stressed-out parents. In a study published in the February issue of Current Directions in Psychological Science, Nathan Fox, professor and director of the Child Development Laboratory, and his team found that kids who are consistently shy while growing up are particularly likely to be raised by stressed-out parents, and to possess a genetic variant associated with stress sensitivity. This suggests that shyness relates to interactions between genes and the environment, as opposed to either genes or the environment acting alone."
The Program for International Policy Attitudes, affiliated with the School of Public Policy, combines with GlobeScan (Canada) to conduct a poll for the British Broadcasting Company. Results of the survey are published throughout the world. Associated Press (London): "A majority of people around the world do not believe the world is locked in a 'clash of civilizations' that will lead to violent conflict between Islam and the West, according to findings of a poll published Monday.... Since the attacks on Sept. 11, 2001, countries around the world have struggled with how to deal with Islamic radicalism at home and abroad. The poll's results are hopeful, given they show most people believe differences between Muslims and Westerners can be worked out, said Steven Kull, director of PIPA at the University of Maryland. 'Most people around the world clearly reject the idea that Islam and the West are caught in an inevitable clash of civilizations,' he said."
Shibley Telhami, Anwar Sadat Professor for Peace and Development, takes part in a US-Islamic World Forum, sponsored by the Foreign Ministry of Qatar and the Brookings Institution. Qatar's Gulf Times alludes to a panel Telhami led. "About the other task force meeting titled, 'Governance, religion and politics', Shibley Telhami... said that participants blamed globalisation for failure and weakness of the state which led to a bigger role of religion in the public spheres. 'They agreed that globalisation made it difficult for states to meet the needs of its citizens and created a vacuum which was filled by religion. The state's failure makes it easy for religion to take a bigger role in public life.'... 'Religion cannot be chased out of public spheres and will always have a part to play,' he said, quoting some participants from the Islamic world." Also partcipating in the forum were Steven Kull, director of the Program on International Policy Attitudes at UM, and Jillian Schwedler, assistant professor, government and politics and chair of the board of the Middle East Research and Information project.
Nobel Laureate and UM faculty member Thomas Schelling receives a visit from Nobel Laureate Michael Spencer, who conducts a Q&A for The Wall Street Journal. "On a recent Sunday, I showed up on Tom Schelling's doorstep for lunch, having flown in from California via Europe. Although it was still 25 minutes before noon, he uncorked some wine -- red for himself, white for me -- and we sat down for a chat in a living room that boasted two Chagalls on the walls (and one painting that might just be by Chagall, Tom thinks, although he hasn't had it looked at by an expert). Tom, now 86 years of age, was my Ph.D. thesis adviser at Harvard, and this conversation -- in which we focused on global threats -- reminded me of so many others from the past, conversations that affected permanently the way I think and reason about the world. Every interaction with Tom is energizing. He is erect in his bearing (suggesting a military background) and precise with his words. And then he will think of something funny and dissolve into laughter. There is so much that is original and surprising and often funny when he thinks out loud and talks."
Ira Berlin, Distinguished University Professor of History, participated in a discussion at The College of William and Mary. The subject: "Interaction of the African, European and American Indian peoples at Jamestown." Hampton Roads Daily Press: "Most Africans in the New World in the 1620s were slaves from the beginning, historians say....Researchers believe these Africans - farmers and herdsmen - came from Angola and worked closely with the English. Many historians say both groups were treated as indentured servants with the opportunity to work for themselves after about five to seven years. 'This is a world in which slavery is not a rigid institution, it's a very porous institution,' said Ira Berlin.... "
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