Maryland Moments, March 2007
(Grants, Honors, New Programs, Rankings)
President C.D. Mote, Jr., Martha Connolly, director of the Maryland Industrial Partnerships Program at the A. James Clark School of Engineering, and Deborah Yow, director of athletics, are named to an inaugural class of influential Marylanders by The Daily Record newspaper in Baltimore. Those chosen for the honor were grouped into ten categories and selected for their influence, prominence, contributions to industry, stature with industry, and community involvement. Mote was chosen as a leader in Education, Connolly in Technology, and Yow in Freestyle, a category created to include Marylanders who did not fit easily into the other categories. (Off campus, UM alumnus Kevin Plank, founder of Under Armour, was also selected under Freestyle.) Fifty leaders in their fields from throughout the state were chosen.
The professor of mathematics is project leader for a group of 18 researchers who solve one of his discipline's most elusive puzzles, decoding "E8." He has many more than 15 minutes of fame, as the news spreads around the globe in both the mainstream media and journals like Science and Nature. "It's like the human genome project. DNA has all the information coded in it, which was mapped for the genome project. What we've done is to map the structure of E8, showing all its different manifestations. If people say we're mad, in some sense they're right. But it's mathematics of the highest character. It's the most interesting thing I can imagine thinking about." The New York Times: "Eighteen mathematicians spent four years and 77 hours of supercomputer computation to describe this structure, with the results unveiled Monday at a talk at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. But it still is not easy to describe the description, at least not in words. 'It's pretty abstract,' conceded Jeffrey D. Adams, a professor of mathematics at the University of Maryland who led the project." The Associated Press: "An international team of mathematicians has cracked a 120-year-old puzzle that researchers say is so complicated that its handwritten solution would cover the island of Manhattan." The Economist: "For more than a century mathematicians have known about Lie groups. These are families of shapes named after Sophus Lie, a Norwegian athematician who discovered them. There are four 'simple' families of Lie groups and five others�this being mathematics�that are not quite so simple."
Maryland Daily Record: "A 38-acre mix of housing, shops and office space is in the works for land across Route 1 from the main entrance of the University of Maryland, College Park campus. The university chose Foulger-Pratt Cos. and Argo Investment Co., both of Rockville, to spearhead its East Campus project, which is slated to rise on university land now being used for administrative facilities. With its prominent location at the corner of Route 1 and Paint Branch Parkway, East Campus would increase options for a student population that feels underserved by retail, entertainment and housing....The project would be the largest of its kind ever created by the university, according to James Stirling, the university's director of procurement and supplies. Development could cost more than $600 million and take years to complete, (Bryant) Foulger said."
The Washington Post: "Douglas Duncan, the former Montgomery County executive who dropped out of the governor's race last year, will join the University of Maryland administration next month. Duncan will be vice president for administrative affairs at the College Park campus... . The position includes responsibility for seven departments at the state's flagship public university. ... C. Daniel Mote Jr., president of the University of Maryland, said in a statement yesterday that Duncan 'is an accomplished and collaborative administrator, is well-versed in statewide and regional issues, has long championed the value of high-quality public education, and will be a significant contributor to the University of Maryland family.' " Baltimore Sun: " 'I have a real passion for education,' Duncan said. 'As I left the county executive's office, I said, "What can I do to stay involved and help make a difference?" and clearly, the University of Maryland is the flagship university in our state and is a great way to keep pushing education...' "
The Institute of Higher Education at Shanghai's Jiao Tong University has its annual rankings of the world's leading research universities gain in stature each year. In the fall of 2006, UM was ranked No. 37 in the world, when the Institute listed schools only by overall ranking. In early 2007, as a follow-up to overall rankings, the Institute, for the first time, picks the top universities in five research categories. In Natural Sciences and Mathematics, UM is No. 23 in the world and No. 18 among U.S. schools. In Engineering/Technology and Computer Sciences, UM is No. 13 and No. 13 among U.S. schools. In the Social Sciences, UM is No. 18 and No. 17 among U.S. schools. (UM, with no medical school, was not ranked in Life and Agriculture Sciences and Clinical Medicine and Pharmacy.)
Financial Times: "The Smith school of business at the University of Maryland is setting up a Global Consortium MBA programme intended to bring together students from the US, China and India. The Smith school's partners in the project will be the Management Development Institute (MDI) in India and the University of International Business and Economics in China. The two-year, full-time programme will begin in the autumn of 2008 and will focus on global entrepreneurship in three of the world's key markets.
The National Endowment for the Humanities and UM's Institute for Technology in the Humanities announce an April summit meeting, at NEH headquarters, to plan a national coalition of digital humanities centers. Digital humanities centers coordinate the many revolutionary advances in the discipline that are driven by technology.
The National Foreign Language Center at UM launches a new federally funded initiative that will send as many as 1,100 students to intensive camp and school programs this summer to learn Arabic and Chinese. The program will also help train as many as 600 Arabic and Chinese speakers to teach the languages in high schools. The Center is awarding grants averaging $100,000 to 34 institutions in 21 states and the District of Columbia.
The School of Architecture, Planning and Preservation hosts a "Building on Diversity" semniar as part of a three-prong effort to encourage diversity in architecture. "Architecture needs to represent the demographics of the nation -- not simply as a matter of fairness or law -- but because diversity will strengthen the field," says Gary Bowden, FAIA, an architect and professor of practice. "A creative field like architecture thrives on diversity."
Maryland Daily Record: "The Library of American Broadcasting at the University of Maryland, College Park will be home to the archives of Hispanics who have made their living in advertising, broadcasting and marketing. The archives are the brainchild of the Association of Hispanic Advertising Agencies in Langley, Va. The association wanted to find a place where the Hispanic 'pioneers' in the field could have their work preserved and recognized."
The Clark School of Engineering's Maryland Industrial Partnerships Program, which marries the technology expertise of the Clark School and other University System of Maryland institutions with private companies, gets an increase in funding from the state. MIPs has just concluded its largest round of funding, bringing $5.2 million to 28 new research projects. Maryland Daily Record: "MIPS' goal is to help small companies take advantage of the university system's resources and help academic researchers and students build valuable corporate relationships and solve real-world problems, said program Director Martha J. Connolly. 'This is really applied research and development that helps get a product to market,' she said. 'We don't fund things like market research — these are real products that need technology solutions.' "
Alumnus Jack Kay donates $1.5 million to create the Abraham S. and Jack Kay Chair in Israel Studies. The position compliments a growing Middle Eastern studies initiatives on campus, but Eric Zakim, executive director of the Joseph and Alma Gildenhorn Institute for Israel Studies, said the chair will focus on Israeli history rather than the conflict with Palestinians. 'We're not trying to fill a narrowly defined niche,' Zakim said. 'We're open to scholars who push the boundaries of history and also look at questions from a sociological or political science perspective.' "
The Annapolis and Anne Arundel County Chamber of Commerce honors pillars of the business community at its Comcast Hall of Fame and Annual Business Awards ceremony. The Annapolis Capital writes of the inductees, including Phillip Merrill and wife Eleanor: "Eleanor Merrill and the late Philip Merrill, who ran Capital-Gazette Newspapers, which publishes The Capital among other papers. The company's foundation has given out more than $9 million in charitable grants. Mrs. Merrill now serves as publisher emeritus.... But Mrs. Merrill said he never made a business decision without consulting with her first. 'He saw potential in the Annapolis paper,' said Mrs. Merrill, who has served as chairman for the University of Maryland's Board of Visitors since 1995. The Merrill family gave multimillion dollar donations to the college of journalism at the University of Maryland, which was named for Mr. Merrill, as well as the headquarters of the Chesapeake Bay Foundation."
The Baltimore Sun: "One hundred years after her birth and nearly 45 years since publication of her environmental call to action, Silent Spring, Maryland is preparing to honor Rachel Louise Carson. 'She's in the pantheon of environmental stars,' said state Sen. Brian E. Frosh, who is sponsoring a bill to designate her May 27 birthday as Rachel Carson Day. 'Of all the Marylanders who contributed to our well-being and the world's, she's up there.'...Carson lived in Maryland for more than 35 years as a student, teacher, biologist, writer and - finally - reluctant celebrity. She attended graduate school at the Johns Hopkins University and was a member of the University of Maryland's zoology staff."
Society & Culture
The study, published in the American Psychological Association's journal, Developmental Psychology, finds that early positive parenting during the preschool years predicted fewer conduct problems as the children grew to early adolescence. The strength of the findings lead the researchers to conclude that maternal depression may be a risk factor, whereas positive parenting may be a protective factor. "The research gives us clear targets for early intervention to prevent conduct problems in children with ADHD," says Andrea Chronis, director of UM's ADHD Program and professor of psychology who served as lead author on the paper.
A Program on International Policy Attitudes poll again earns world-wide attention. International Herald Tribune: "In a poll of people in 27 countries, attitudes toward Israel were strikingly negative, placing it in company with three other countries viewed particularly dimly: Iran, North Korea and the United States. The survey of 28,000 people also found that Canada, Japan, the European Union and France fared best when respondents were asked whether 12 countries on a list had a 'mostly positive or mostly negative influence in the world.' The poll was conducted from November to mid-January for BBC World Service by the polling firm GlobeScan and the Program on International Policy Attitudes at the University of Maryland.... 'It appears that people around the world tend to look negatively on countries whose profile is marked by the use or pursuit of military power,' said Steven Kull, director of the Maryland polling program. This, he said, could apply to Israel, the United States, North Korea and Iran."
A UM program "is part of a growing national drive to introduce 78 million aging baby boomers to the satisfactions of pro bono work." The Baltimore Sun: "(Ken) Nibali took that job (as a legislative aide to a General Assembly delegate) after completing a program at the University of Maryland, College Park designed for Marylanders age 50 and older looking to get some experience working in the legislature. Started six years ago by the university's Center on Aging, the Legacy Leadership Institute on Public Policy instructs participants about Maryland and its government. Known as Legacy Leaders, they serve as unpaid interns for members of the Maryland General Assembly... . Laura Wilson, director of the University of Maryland's Center on Aging and chair of the Health Services Administration, is among those figuring out how to harness that potential. She began developing the institute model almost 10 years ago."
Ron Walters, professor of government and politics and director of the African American Leadership Institute, offered testimony in support of a bill that would have Maryland express 'regret' for slavery in the state. Washington Post: "Less than a week after Virginia apologized for its role in slavery, Maryland lawmakers heard testimony on a resolution 'expressing regret' for the state's role in maintaining slavery and 'for the discrimination that was slavery's legacy.'... The resolution is supported by the Legislative Black Caucus of Maryland. It does not call for reparations... . Ronald Walters...offered written testimony in favor of the bill, which he described as 'modest in terms of its intent.' Walters said later that Virginia had set a precedent that he expects Maryland to follow. 'If Virginia, which is considered one of the most conservative states, did it, it seems that Maryland, which is considered more progressive, would do it,' Walters said."
Science & Technology
Nature publishes a research highlight from Analytical Chemistry. "Researchers trying to understand the chemistry occurring inside solid-oxide fuel cells have a problem: the devices operate at temperatures that few chemical probes can tolerate. Infrared spectroscopy, for example, is thwarted by the brightness of thermal radiation emitted by a hot fuel cell. Robert Walker (chemistry and biochemistry), of the University of Maryland, College Park, and his colleagues now show that it is possible to obtain real-time information using another technique, known as Raman spectroscopy. They tracked how carbon deposits grow and disappear from fuel-cell electrodes fed with butane or carbon monoxide, and identified intermediates formed during fuel-cell operation."
The Baltimore Examiner reported on an invention devised by two students, one from UM, the other from Johns Hopkins. "Average emergency room wait times can top three hours in this country. What if doctors could monitor vital signs during the wait? Tia Gao, a graduate student at Johns Hopkins University and David Crawford, an undergraduate student (Clark School of Engineering) at the University of Maryland, helped to develop a prototype device the size of an Altoid tin that could cost thousands of dollars less than existing vital sign monitors. 'As soon as they step into the hospital they can be given one of these monitors,' Gao said.... The current machines — about the size of a desktop computer — can cost up to $10,000 and usually aren't available in the waiting room.... The prototype is not yet on the market, but...the students plan to attend a venture forum in Santa Barbara, Calif., to seek backers. 'This certainly isn't the end of the road for us,' Crawford said. 'It�s one step along the way, but it is a very important one for us.' "
Many popular foods are undergoing a more nutritious make-over. A UM team of food chemists, associate professor Liangli "Lucy" Yu and doctoral student Jeffrey Moore discover how to boost the antioxidant content of pizza dough by optimizing baking and fermentation methods. The finding that could lead to healthier pizza. The idea appeals to the media--no recent scientific announcement at UM drew the attention the idea of pizza as health food did.
New Orleans Times-Picayune: " 'The failure to build New Orleans-area hurricane levees and levee walls as part of an integrated, well-fortified system doomed the region during Katrina and remains the key finding of a revised report released Monday (March 26) by an nvestigation team sponsored by the Army Corps of Engineers. 'The system did not perform as a system,' concluded members of the Interagency Performance Evaluation Task Force, or IPET, which has spent the past 19 months detailing the causes and effects of Katrina's flooding on the levee system and the metropolitan area.... 'The levees were fine until they were overtopped, and then the levees built with hydraulic fill were more susceptible to erosion and breaching than those that were not,' Ed Link, a University of Maryland civil engineering professor who leads the task force, said... ."
The ribosome, the protein-producing nanomachine in cells that keeps the human body going, could be programmed to fight viruses like HIV AIDS and SARS. In journal Molecular Cell, UM biology professor Jonathan Dinman and research assistant professor Artural Meskauskas describe how their discovery of the function of some long protein finger-like structures in the ribosome could lead to antiviral therapies in the near future.
Scientists of the BaBar experiment, at the Department of Energy's Stanford Linear Accelerator Center (SLAC), observe the transition of one type of particle, the neutral D-meson, into its antimatter twin for the first time. This observation will now be used as a test of the Standard Model of particle physics, the theory by which scientists have explained the nature of matter for nearly 40 years. "This is a very exciting moment for us, having found the missing puzzle piece for particle-antiparticle mixing," said BaBar Spokesman Hassan Jawahery, a UM professor of physics.
The New York Times: "Scientists have used color for decades to broadly categorize different kinds of soils; a comparison method called the Munsell color system has even been developed to do that. But Skye Wills (environmental science and technology) of the University of Maryland and colleagues at Iowa State University wanted to see if they could use color measurements in the field to rapidly and accurately predict organic carbon content. They tested soils from northeastern Iowa using both color chips from the Munsell system and a pectrophotometer, which analyzes the frequency of light (and thus the color) reflected off a surface. Their findings were published in The Soil Science Society of America Journal."
The associate research scientist in electrical and computer ngineering and his colleagues--Yu-Ju Hung, research graduate student, and Professor Christopher Davis--co-author a paper published in Science that blossoms into a blitz of technical media attention. "[R] esearchers from the University of Maryland built a lens that can magnify rays of blue-green light emanating from dots just 70 nanometers across. The rays become big enough to be seen by an ordinary optical microscope, giving the device an effective resolution of 70 nanometers. Even better resolution might be observed if smaller dots were used, says Igor Smolyaninov, a Maryland research scientist and author of the paper. He estimates that the method could resolve features as small as 10 nanometers."
National Science Foundation: "During this Women's History Month, the National Science Foundation has released a report called It's Elemental, the results of a 3-year study of women's careers in the chemical industry. The first study of its kind, the findings reveal that women and their managers have differing attitudes and perceptions about career advancement.... "It's very clear from the data that women want to advance, and they're willing to do what it takes," said Ruth Fassinger, principal investigator for the project and professor and interim chair of the Department of Counseling and Personnel Services at the University of Maryland, College Park."
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