Maryland Moments, June 2007
(Rankings, Honors, New Programs, Initiatives)
Baltimore Sun: "More than 280 college presidents - including the head of Maryland's flagship public university - pledged yesterday to fight global warming by making their campuses 'climate neutral.' Signers of the American College & University Presidents Climate Commitment, which was inspired by similar collective efforts among cities and businesses, are pledging to work toward neutralizing greenhouse gas emissions on campus and to increase global warming research and education efforts. Among Maryland college presidents who have signed the pledge are C.D. 'Dan' Mote Jr. of the University of Maryland, College Park... . 'We must all take significant, lasting action steps to preserve our environment,' Mote said in a statement."
UM is the second-best computer science department in the United States, exceeded only by the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. Based on a ranking by the Association of Computing Machinery, heavy lifters like Carnegie Mellon, Stanford, Illinois, Michigan and Texas follow.
The Top 10
1. Massachusetts Institute of Technology
2. University of Maryland, College Park
3. Carnegie Mellon University
4. Georgia Institute of Technology
5. Stanford University
6. University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign 7. University of Michigan, Ann Arbor
8. University of Texas, Austin
9. Purdue University
10. University of California, Berkeley
The regents of the University System of Maryland approved the establishment of a new school of public health at UM. The school will provide four new degree programs: a master of health administration, a doctorate in health services, a doctorate in epidemiology, and a doctorate in maternal and child health. The program will help address a projected shortage of health workers in the state. (Coincidentally, the University of Maryland, Baltimore dropped plans to form its own school of public health.)
The Baltimore Examiner describes a Terrapin visit to the White House, as a current national champion in field hockey. "Overcoming bouts of nervous energy, Emily Trycinski led the two-time national champion Maryland field hockey team for the final time. Trycinski and several members of the Terrapins joined more than 20 college championship teams ... at the White House, marking the program's second consecutive trip to the nation's capital. Trycinski presented President George W. Bush with an Under Armour track suit and a Maryland field hockey watch, commemorating the 2006 NCAA title." The Terrapins are coached by coaching mentor extraordinary Missy Meharg.
Associated Press: "A new language laboratory to be jointly run by the University of Maryland and Johns Hopkins University will develop technologies to help the federal government sort through data in various languages. Researchers at the laboratory will work on machine analysis of text and speech to develop software able to quickly cull and analyze materials in a number of languages. ... The center will be based at Johns Hopkins University's Homewood campus and will receive at least $48.4 million in long-term funding from the Departmentof Defense, the University of Maryland announced. Amy Weinberg, a University of Maryland linguist and computer scientist who will work at the center, said researchers plan to take advantage of an ongoing revolution in language technology. 'We're getting much better at making machines smart enough to help people rapidly judge what's significant in a message,' Weinberg said."
Diverse Issues in Higher Education appraises a changing field of architecture. "2004 statistics from the American Institute of Architects — the profession's leading membership association — indicate that just 7 percent of its licensed or registered members are underrepresented minorities. Only 12 percent are women. ... Though fields such as law and medicine have become increasingly inclusive, architecture remains 'a profession dominated by White males, whereas many other professions have overcome that. Architecture seems to be slow in overcoming that,' says University of Maryland architecture professor Gary Bowden. Recently, Bowden hosted a panel discussion at the University of Maryland featuring leading architects tasked with coming up with ideas on how to bring more diverse faces into the profession."
UM is at the top of the University System of Maryland class for graduation rates among black students, albeit a system class that is shrinking. Only two schools, UM and Towson, reported increases. This decline follows a decade of relatively steady success at graduating black students.
The Baltimore Sun: "They came in droves to pay tribute yesterday to a man they lauded as a civil rights pioneer, mentor and uncompromising activist for social justice. And together, the political dignitaries, civic leaders and family members made one promise: The legacy of Parren J. Mitchell will live on. Mitchell, who died May 28 of complications from pneumonia, was remembered during a four-hour memorial service at West Baltimore's cavernous St. James Episcopal Church for his remarkable firsts. He sued the University of Maryland, College Park and became the first black student to enroll in its graduate courses. And in 1970, Mitchell became the first African-American elected to Congress from Maryland."
The White House announced the winners of the National Medals of Science, the nation's highest scientific honor. The prizes recognize achievement in the physical, biological, mathematical, social, behavioral, and engineering sciences. Among the eight honorees: Tobin J. Marks, a professor of chemistry and materials science and engineering at Northwestern University. Marks is a member of Maryland's Alumni Hall of Fame. "I smile inside when I see what students have learned," Marks has said. His diverse research includes the advancement of plastics, high-speed data transmission and anti-cancer drugs.
The New York Times, Newsday and Newark Star-Ledger featured the arrival of UM's Asha Srinivasan in the Big Apple, as the St. Luke's Chamber Ensemble and composer Joan Tower host a three-weekend festival of chamber music by female composers. The newcomer wins a national competition to have her work included at the festival. The Times: "The issue came to the fore in the early 2000s when for three years there was not a single woman among the winners of BMI's Student Composer Awards. BMI, sensitive to the bad publicity, last year inaugurated a new competition for women only. The prize: a commission for a new work to be played at the Notable Women festival. By the River Near Savathi for clarinet and string trio, by Asha Srinivasan, an Indian-American who is getting her doctorate from the University of Maryland, will have its first performance tomorrow. Ms. Srinivasan, 27, certainly does not feel hampered by being a woman." From the Star-Ledger, which notes 66 other composers were in the competition: " 'We picked her because we thought she had a voice,' said Tower. 'Some of the other finalists had chops, but she had a voice. I heard something more individual.' "
Maryland's business school debuts a new television studio, designed to broadcast Smith's virtues to a world audience. The Baltimore Sun: "The Robert H. Smith School of Business sees the fiber-optic-equipped room, set up so faculty can do 'live talkbacks' for broadcast and cable news programs, as one part of its continual effort to distinguish itself in a crowded market."
Although a pioneer in formation and practice of Smart Growth policies, the state of Maryland looks for help as it continues to be one of the nation's most populous states. Gerrit Knaap, director of UM's National Center for Smart Growth Research and Education, plans to bring experts from across the country together in October for a three-day "critical examination" of Maryland's Smart Growth experiment." Can you really manage growth using incentives alone? My answer is no," said Knaap.
Science & Technology
Professor Uzi Vishkin and colleagues at the university's A. James Clark School of Engineering submit a prototype of what many be the next generation of desktop computer--with super computing power. The researchers say the new technology -- capable of computing speeds 100 times faster than current desktops -- is based on parallel processing on a single chip. United Press International: "It uses rich algorithmic theory to address the practical problem of building an easy-to-program multi-core computer, said Charles Leiserson, a professor of computer science and engineering at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. Vishkin's chip unites the theory of yesterday with the reality of today."
New York Times: "After nearly two years of work, the Army Corps of Engineers revealed yesterday which New Orleans neighborhoods and blocks were the most vulnerable to flooding, and which were the best protected. The report shows that despite considerable improvement, large swaths of the city are still likely to be flooded in a major storm. ... But Ed Link, the director of the corps' investigation into the levee failures, said the report gave a 'huge advantage' to New Orleans that no other city has. 'I don't see it as putting a big target on New Orleans and chasing people away,' Mr. Link said. 'I see it as showing that New Orleans is getting its arms wrapped around this issue for the future.' "
A team of UM scientists make a discovery that will better help direct drug therapies to their molecular targets. As reported in the online journal PLoS ONE, the researchers, led by Jonathan Dinman, assistant professor of cell biology and molecular genetics, find the difference between two closely related components in the messenger RNA (mRNA) — near-cognate and non-cognate codons — terms that have long been used, but not understood. "Although these two terms have been used by scientists for over 40 years, the differences between them have never been properly defined. Here, we have made this determination at both the molecular and mechanistic levels, and developed a simple drug-based test to differentiate them. It's a real step in designing the pathway of rational drug design."
Maryland Daily Record: "A new, wireless video recording system developed for use by law enforcement officers, designed by Annapolis-based Mobile Digital Systems Inc., is being tested for physical ruggedness by researchers at the University of Maryland Center for Advanced Life Cycle Engineering (CALCE). The evaluation, funded through the Maryland Industrial Partnerships program of the Clark School of Engineering, will analyze the MDS system in high temperatures and humidity, as well as during shock, vibration and drop scenarios."
Associated Press: "The volunteers tote a butterfly net, binoculars and field guides around the Miami Metrozoo grounds, scanning the plants and flowers for fluttering wings. But they aren't searching for a rare species or collecting specimens for display, they're counting butterflies for the Florida Butterfly Monitoring Network, then leaving the insects to continue their zigzagging flights through the humid air. ... About 3,000 people participated in 483 NABA (North American Butterfly Association) counts across the continent last year, according to the New Jersey-based organization. While the participants are mostly amateurs, they collect information individual scientists cannot easily access, such as large-scale surveys of migratory species across multiple states, said Leslie Ries, a postdoctoral biology researcher at the University of Maryland who is analyzing three decades of NABA counts. She has found the data matches results independently compiled by the Illinois and Ohio butterfly monitoring networks from about 100 sites across each state."
The oversight of federal records is the responsibility of National Archives. Federal Times: "Eventually, all federal records that should be preserved will be preserved, and most of those records will feed into the planned Electronic Records Archive — a system for preserving records and making them easily available... . Lockheed Martin Corp. of Bethesda, Md., the prime contractor for ERA, is developing the software for the program... The challenge of transferring the records over the Internet in a safe, secure way has already been solved, according to Joseph JaJa, a professor at the Institute for Advanced Computer Studies at the University of Maryland. His team's creation, an elaborate software called Producer -- Archive Workflow Network (PAWN), will agencies to submit their records easily and with the assurance that it is transmitted correctly, JaJa said."
Thirty years ago, University of Maryland professor and berry expert Harry Swartz set out on a world quest to find the perfect strawberry plant. Half a million strawberry plants later, in a field in Huelva, Spain, there it was - a plant with dozens of single-flowered clusters, or trusses, each holding one strawberry-all turning red and juicy at the same time, a trait that could revolutionize commercial strawberry growing. Swartz and his colleague Gary Coleman, both associate professors in the department of plant sciences and landscape architecture, are now looking at how that million-dollar plant - the Monophylla Strawberry - can be bred for commercial production and machine harvesting. Their one-year study is supported by the Maryland Industrial Partnerships Program, in the university's A. James Clark School of Engineering.
Society & Culture
Peter Morici, a professor at the Smith School of Business, writes an op/ed reproduced in several international publications. The Asia Times: "Offering China major-power status by engaging it in multilateral dialogue will accomplish little, because the Communist Party is much more concerned about maintaining its grasp on power than becoming a respected stakeholder in the global community. Western democracies must recognize this unpleasant reality and deal with China differently than they do one another. For example, China's undervalued yuan provides a 24% subsidy on exports, as measured by Beijing's purchases of US dollars and other currencies in foreign-exchange markets to maintain an undervalued yuan. The European Union, United States and others should simply levy a tariff equal to that amount on imports from China. If China reduces currency purchases, reduce the tariff. If China increases those purchases, raise the tariff accordingly."
Susan Moeller, associate professor at the Philip Merrill College of journalism and director, Center for International Media Agenda, writes a blog for Foreign Policy. "A new study out from the International Center for Media and the Public Agenda measures just how candid media are about what they do and how they do it." ICMPA looked at 25 of the world's top news sites to see which ones correct their errors, are open about their journalistic standards, and welcome reader comments and criticism.
Which were the best? The Guardian; The New York Times; The Christian Science Monitor; National Public Radio.
Which were among the worst? Time magazine; Al Jazeera; CNN; The Economist.
Los Angeles Times: "A Nov. 11 concert at Cal Tech's Beckman Auditorium will be among the last Southern California appearances by the esteemed Guarneri String Quartet, which has announced that it will retire at the end of the 2008-09 season. The quartet — violinists Arnold Steinhardt and John Dalley, violist Michael Tree and cellist Peter Wiley — has other dates pending in La Jolla, Orange County, Santa Barbara and at UCLA... . The Guarneri issued a statement saying it had decided its 45th anniversary would be the appropriate time to exit. 'This has not only been a long journey but a deeply satisfying one as well,' the statement said. Formed in 1964 at the Marlboro Music Festival in Vermont, the Guarneri has had only one personnel change in its history, in 2000, when Wiley replaced his mentor, David Soyer. The members will continue to teach at the University of Maryland (School of Music) and have not ruled out future recordings... ."
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