Maryland Moments, February 2008
(New Programs, Honors, Awards)
Maryland Daily Record: "The Robert H. Smith School of Business at the University of Maryland, College Park, announced a $12 million initiative to retain and attract the world�s top business school students by significantly raising the amount of the annual stipend for Ph.D. candidates. The program increases annual doctoral stipends by 45 percent to $32,500 and provides research and travel support. Half of the funding for the initiative was provided by Smith School namesake Robert H. Smith, a 1950 graduate; the university and the business school are supplying the remaining $6 million."
Chronicle of Higher Education: "As the Democrats head into tomorrow's primaries in the Chesapeake region, the candidates or their representatives headed to a college campus to ask for votes. Sen. Barack Obama today drew a bigger crowd than did Saturday�s Terrapins vs. Wolfpack game at the University of Maryland, and the game was sold out. But while the basketball fans had filled the 17,950-seat Comcast Center to the rafters, Obama supporters packed the floor of the arena, too. Tight security at the door (no bookbags or laptops) meant that some students lined up for hours in 30-degree temperatures to get in. Jake Gibbs, a freshman majoring in economics and finance, said he had waited just 45 minutes but that the line, which snaked down a hill and past the Eppley Recreation Center -- a distance of about four football fields -- was 'amazing.' "
Baltimore Business Journal: "A Baltimore developer has donated $3 million to become the namesake of a new 'green' real estate program at the University of Maryland's flagship College Park campus. The donation from John B. Colvin and his wife, Karen, will be used to create the Colvin Institute of Real Estate Development in Maryland's School of Architecture, Planning and Preservation. The donation will be used to create a new track in the program focusing on green design, sustainable development and energy financing. Colvin, a Maryland graduate, is a principal at Baltimore-based real estate development Questar. ... The gift from Colvin is the largest in the history of Maryland's School of Architecture, Planning and Preservation. ... The university is in the midst of its latest capital campaign, dubbed 'Great Expectations, the Campaign for Maryland.' The school had raised $466 million as of January, nearly half of the $1 billion goal it hopes to hit by 2011. Colvin is a senior fellow in the University of Maryland Executive Programs at the School of Public Policy. "
Baltimore Sun: "The University of Maryland, College Park announced ... that a record number of students have applied for a shrinking numbers of spots in next year's freshman class. Applications are up 17 percent this year, to more than 27,000, after three years of increases, the college said in a statement. This year's increase reflects a national trend of rising applications at selective colleges and universities that is attributed to a bulge in the high school population, which is expected to begin to decline in two years. In addition, a higher percentage of high school students are applying to college, and more are deciding to apply to multiple schools. ... 'By limiting the size of the freshman class, we are able to provide students with an exceptional learning experience and greater access to the many resources available here,' said Barbara Gill, director of undergraduate admissions."
Inside Higher Ed: "Prompted in part by Brown University�s commission that studied links between the institution and the slave trade, many other institutions have considered how to explore that part of their history. The University of Maryland, College Park has just announced a new approach to conducting such a study. In the next academic year, a senior-level course in the history department -- with admission based on competitive application -- will conduct research and prepare a report for the university president. The course will be taught by Ira Berlin, one of the leading historians of slavery in the United States."
Government Computer News: "At a ribbon-cutting ceremony in College Park yesterday, the University of Maryland�s College of Information Studies opened its new research facility on the second floor of the Hornbake Library. Maryland�s iSchool, as it�s called, was created more than 40 years ago with the primary purpose of training librarians. Now the college is also serving as a research center for innovations in searching, retrieving, communicating, storing and managing information, with a special focus on digital technologies, said Jennifer Preece, dean of the College of Information Studies. The new facility is equipped with a user-testing laboratory and space for the Human Computer Interaction Laboratory. It�s also home to the Center for Information Policy and Electronic Government (CIPEG), as well as a new Center for the Advanced Study of Communities and Information."
The Wall Street Journal: "The University of Maryland, College Park is converting a 38-acre tract of industrial development on its campus into a shopping district with a hotel, theaters and a music center to further spur redevelopment along a depressed stretch of U.S. Route 1, the town's main thoroughfare. 'We've actually lost some [potential] faculty who have driven down Route 1 and said, "We're not going to move here," ' says Douglas M. Duncan, who is overseeing the $700 million redevelopment project."
>i>Washington Post "An exhibit of hundreds of rare artifacts unearthed in Annapolis over the past 27 years shows that the quest for freedom by African Americans is as much a part of the city's history as the fight for liberty by the wealthy property owners who rebelled against the British. A central theme of the exhibit ... is 'the quest of African Americans to create and preserve their integrity and to establish their freedom in a slave society,' said Mark Leone, a University of Maryland anthropology professor. who directs the Archaeology in Annapolis project, a partnership that, through the years, has involved the university, the city's Banneker-Douglass Museum, the City of Annapolis and the Historic Annapolis Foundation."
Washington Post: "The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration and the University of Maryland will collaborate on research and education, according to a memorandum of understanding that will be signed today in anticipation of the new NOAA Center for Weather and Climate Prediction to be built in College Park. When completed in 2009 at UM's M-Square Research and Technology Park, the research complex will house 800 people, including staff from the National Centers for Environmental Prediction, NOAA's Satellite and Information Service and the Air Resources Laboratory. The center will generate oceanic and atmospheric forecasts, including hurricane predictions."
The Jerusalem Post: "The latest news from the region is that once again the Israelis are reducing the supply of electricity to Gaza, in response to increased Hamas attacks in Israel. The cutbacks come despite the fact that the policy of punishing the general population has been repeatedly tried and failed, and despite a strong warning from the Bush administration. Clearly the next president will have to deal with the worsening Israeli-Palestinian conflict. True, President Bush has stated his intention to make significant progress on Israeli-Palestinian issues by the time he leaves office, but it is safe to assume that the Israeli-Palestinian conflict will not be over in 11 months. One can hope that the process will have advanced enough so that the 44th president can hit the ground running, rather than start at the beginning. That task has been made considerably easier by the United States Institute of Peace, a US government think tank, which has just published Negotiating Arab-Israeli Peace: American Leadership in the Middle East. The report is the work of a study group led by ambassador Daniel Kurtzer and USIP Senior Associate Scott Lasensky with Professors William Quandt (University of Virginia), Steven Spiegel (UCLA, one of IPF's National Scholars), and Shibley Telhami (University of Maryland)." Shibley Telhami is Anwar Sadat Professor for Peace and Development.
Staying on Track
Retention in engineering is of increasing importance in our technically-based economy. Red Orbit: "William Fourney, associate dean of the A. James Clark School of Engineering at the University of Maryland, suggests that inferior teaching of freshman and sophomore courses has discouraged students: 'These ('gatekeeper') courses are not always taught by the best instructors--far too often that occurs.' ... Maryland, Fourney estimates, probably loses about 25 percent of its freshman engineering cohort by the end of four years. So compared to the national average, it's already ahead of the retention game. But the school felt it could do better. So it inaugurated what it calls Keystone, a program to help keep students in the program. Now in its second year, Keystone focuses on improving teaching at the early stages. Poor teaching, Fourney says, is a good way to lose promising students. 'They get turned off to what engineering is all about.' "
UM's Maryland Industrial Partnerships Program (based at the Clark School of Engineering) announced the approval of 18 new collaborative research projects between Maryland companies and university faculty. Worth $4.4 million, the projects combine $3 million from participating companies and $1.4 million from the Maryland Industrial Partnerships Program. Through MIPS, faculty members engage in research that furthers the development of high-tech products for Maryland companies. Projects, which must be technology-focused and possess commercial potential, can range from creating or testing new products to clinical and pre-clinical trials."
Washington Post: "For those who feel they missed out on an Ivy League education, there's this: The University of Maryland is bringing leading professors from Harvard, Yale and other top schools to teach classes, and students won't need SAT scores or prerequisites to get in. With an eye on the booming boomer interest in lifelong education, UM officials are announcing a partnership today that will marry talent from the country's best-known schools with the university's own. Professors will lead a day of seminars March 29 geared toward alumni and local residents long out of school, officials said. 'The baby boomers, the over- 50 group, are the fastest growth area in higher education,' said Judith Broida, dean of UM's office of professional studies. 'We are very much targeting alums of the university and others who would love to come back for a day of education and enlightenment.' "
First Science (UK): "For only the second time in its 19-year history, the International Journal of Human-Computer Interaction is honoring one of the field's founding fathers with a special edition. This issue ... celebrates the 60th birthday of Ben Shneiderman, a University of Maryland professor of computer science and founder of the University of Maryland's Human-Computer Interaction Laboratory (HCIL)."
Science & Technology
Information Week: "Terror prediction isn't quite like weather prediction. There are no warnings about widely scattered showers of shrapnel or heavy bombing, tapering off toward evening. Rather, counter-terror data mining is being used to suggest high-level strategies for dealing with major terrorist organizations. At the University of Maryland's Institute for Advanced Computer Studies, researchers have developed the SOMA (Stochastic Opponent Modeling Agents) Terror Organization Portal (STOP) to help predict how terror groups will act and to share data through social networking. 'What it does is it takes a situation that someone might hypothesize or might be true, and tries to predict how a group might act based on what has actually happened,' said V.S. Subrahmanian, computer science professor and UMIACS director. 'We actually achieved accuracy on the order of about 90-plus percent ... but the predictions are somewhat coarse grained.' "
Medical News Today: "Researchers on the Blacksburg and College Park, Md., campuses of the Virginia-Maryland Regional College of Veterinary Medicine (College of Agriculture & Natural Resources) have been awarded a major new grant from the National Institutes of Health to support innovative work that seeks to develop a treatment for cancer from a common avian virus. The National Institutes of Health $430,000 R21 grant will allow Drs. Elankumaran Subbiah; assistant professor in the Department of Biomedical Sciences and Pathobiology at Virginia Tech; and Siba Samal, associate dean of the college's University of Maryland campus, to build upon existing work that is focused on the use of reverse genetics to alter the Newcastle Disease virus to treat prostate cancer."
The wonders of the International Children's Digital Library, based at UM, are featured in The Boston Globe. " 'Gems for Children,' which extols the joy of school and virtue of doing right, is available to anyone with a computer and Internet connection. With a mouse click, it can be read -- page by page, picture by picture -- in the International Children's Digital Library, a website aiming to become the world's largest collection of online children's literature. 'This provides a way for us to reach many, many more children, teachers, and parents,' said Tim Browne, executive director of the International Children's Digital Library Foundation, the Manchester nonprofit that operates the site in collaboration with the University of Maryland (Human-Computer Interaction Laboratory, Information Studies). 'In very remote villages, we can for the first time expose children and educational systems to real, educational books.' "
The Smithsonian Institution: " A new study by scientists at the Migratory Bird Center at the Smithsonian's National Zoo shows that the factors determining where birds settle and nest in the first breeding season depends on the habitat they used during their first winter in the tropics. The determining factor in where a bird settles for its first breeding season relative to its hatching site--also known as natal dispersal�was previously unknown. By studying American redstarts, National Zoo scientists have shed light on the phenomenon that has important implications for rates of genetic differentiation. The study was published online in the Feb. 18 issue of the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. ... Scientists Colin Studds, a doctoral candidate in the Program in Behavior, Ecology, Evolution, and Systematics (BEES) at the University of Maryland, and Peter Marra, an ecologist at the Migratory Bird Center, investigated this phenomenon."
Space.com: "New discoveries about magnetic field lines and the first-ever direct observation of their reconnection in space are offering hope that scientists will learn how to unlock fusion power as an energy source in the future. 'The reconnection processes in the [Earth's] magnetosphere and in fusion devices are the same animal,' said James Drake, a University of Maryland physicist. ... Drake became interested in the topic when he looked at early fusion studies and realized how many theories at the time were 'dead wrong' about magnetic reconnection. To learn more about the phenomenon, he had to look beyond Earth. 'I started realizing some of the best magnetic reconnection data is in space,' Drake said. During a sabbatical at the University of California-Berkeley, the theoretical physicist happened to work in the same office as Tai Phan, an observational physicist who was looking at magnetic field data from the European Space Agency's Cluster satellites. 'I was doing theory, Tai was doing data and we suddenly saw this correspondence,' Drakemarveled. 'It was purely accidental.' " James Drake is professor of physics. He is affiliated with the Institute for Researching Electronics and Applied Physics.
Baltimore Sun "Maryland's Chesapeake Bay crab harvest has plummeted to its second-lowest level in three decades, raising new concerns about one of the bay's signature species." The crab harvest is on the horns of an economic and political dilemma: most Bay crabs in Virginia are females, most in Maryland are male. Catching pregnant crabs is allowed in Virgina, possibly crippling the seed bed. "Virginia has expanded its sanctuary for female crabs several times since it was established in the 1940s. A few scientists continue to lobby for sanctuaries in Maryland to protect crabs as they migrate down the bay. Restrictions on catching females would hurt Maryland watermen somewhat but would devastate Virginia watermen -- a fact that has complicated management efforts, said Tom Miller, a University of Maryland biologist who has discussed crab regulations with managers in both states. 'It might be that you could have the biggest effect by limiting the harvest on females. But the concern always is the fairness with which you can do that, because it really impacts Virginia more than Maryland,' said Miller, a professor in the university's Center for Environmental Science. 'It is a political decision.' "
National Geographic: "When researchers at the Rocky Mountain Biological Lab in Crested Butte, Colorado, started documenting marmot hibernation patterns in the 1970s, the animals rarely awoke before the third week of May. But these days, the scientists say, marmots regularly end their winter naps a month beforehand�by the third week of April. ... From chipmunks and squirrels in the Rocky Mountains to brown bears in Spain, these altered slumber patterns are putting animals at risk both of starvation and increased predation, researchers say�which could bring many species to the brink of extinction. 'With respect to the marmots, at least, the evidence is convincing that it is connected to warming temperatures,' said David Inouye, a biology professor at the University of Maryland who collaborated with the Rocky Mountain Biological Lab researchers."
Society & Culture
USA Today: "Here's a quiz: Get a pencil and paper and jot down the 10 most famous Americans in history. No presidents or first ladies allowed. Who tops your list? Ask teenagers, and they overwhelmingly choose African-Americans and women, a study shows. It suggests that the 'cultural curriculum' that most kids -- and by extension, their parents -- experience in school increasingly emphasizes the stories of Americans who are not necessarily dead, white or male. Researchers gave blank paper and pencils to a diverse group of 2,000 high school juniors and seniors in all 50 states and told them: 'Starting from Columbus to the present day, jot down the names of the most famous Americans in history.' Topping the list: the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr., Rosa Parks and Harriet Tubman. Three of the top five -- and six of the top 10 -- are women. Sam Wineburg, the Stanford University education and history professor who led the study along with Chauncey Monte-Sano of the University of Maryland, says the prominence of black Americans signals 'a profound change' in how we see history."
Associated Press: Creative and engaging civics classes tend to produce civically active students. "Too often, however, those kinds of opportunities aren't available to students, say researchers at Mills College and the University of California, Berkeley, who compiled the findings. They determined that white, college-bound students -- most often at wealthier high schools -- have the greatest access to civics lessons that can strongly influence interest in voting. 'It's a stark illustration of how unequal political participation is in America,' says Peter Levine, director of the University of Maryland's Center for Information & Research on Civic Learning & Engagement, also known as CIRCLE. 'We need to have a discussion in this country about our priorities and make sure democracy is one of them.' CIRCLE released the findings Thursday on behalf of the researchers, who used data from the International Civic and Citizenship Study and their own surveys to compile a national sample of 5,548 students at 142 high schools. The surveys were done from 2005-2007."
Pakistan Daily Times: "A large majority of Pakistanis (64 percent) believe that stability and security in Pakistan would improve 'if President [Pervez] Musharraf were to resign now,' according to a new BBC World Service poll. Only 25 percent say that security would get worse if he were to resign. ... The poll, conducted by Gallup Pakistan between January 27 and 28, revealed that only 29 percent of Pakistanis regard Musharraf�s oath taking as president last November as valid, while 49 percent say it is invalid. GlobeScan President Doug Miller, who worked with the Programme on International Policy Attitudes at the University of Maryland to develop and analyse the poll, says, 'While many Western governments have supported President Musharraf in the belief that he offers the only hope of a stable Pakistan, average citizens in the country disagree with this assessment in large numbers.' "
A majority of G7 citizens regard President Putin as a negative influence on democracy and human rights in Russia, according to a BBC World Service poll. ... The results are drawn from a survey of almost 16,000 adult citizens across the 31 countries regularly polled by the international polling firm GlobeScan together with the Program on International Policy Attitudes (PIPA) (at the University of Maryland). BBC World News Service: "Most people in the G-7 leading industrialised countries have a negative view of Russia's President Vladimir Putin... . Of 16,000 people questioned, 56% said he had had a harmful impact on democracy and human rights in Russia and on peace and security in the world."
BBC: "A BBC World Service survey of 34,000 people has found sharp divergences in attitudes to the pace of globalisation. Half said the speed was too fast, while a substantial minority expressed belief that accelerating the process would help reduce inequality. A clear majority of respondents in the 34 countries polled worldwide thought the benefits and burdens of economic development had not been shared fairly. The survey was conducted by GlobeScan along with the University of Maryland. ... In many of the world's poorest countries, however, where large majorities say that the benefits and burdens of economic development have not been shared fairly, people are more likely to say that globalisation is proceeding too slowly. 'People in some developing countries want to accelerate globalisation and appear to believe that this will help break down some of the inequities in their country,' said Steven Kull of the University of Maryland's Program on International Policy Attitudes, a co-sponsor of the poll."
New York Times: "For the first time in 35 years, America's total fertility rate -- the estimated number of children a woman will have in her lifetime -- reached 2.1, the theoretical level required to maintain the country's population, according to recent data from the National Center for Health Statistics. Demographers caution that it is too soon to say whether the increase is a blip or a trend, or to determine its causes, which may include changes in the economy, immigration and the availability of abortion. ... But at a time when no cocktail conversation is complete without a discussion of real estate, the boomlet raises a question that has long interested social scientists: What is the relationship between fertility and real estate? ... Several population specialists emphasized that housing is just one influence on fertility, and difficult to tease out from other factors, like income or optimism. 'If you lower the cost of housing, you�re going to lower the cost of raising a child,' said Seth Sanders, director of the Maryland Population Research Center at the University of Maryland. 'But if you look at how much it costs to raise a child, only one-third of the cost is housing. So my guess is that the impact is not very large.' "
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