Maryland Moments, March 2008
(Rankings, New Programs, Honors)
UM's high U.S. News rankings are now a tradition. The annual rankings of the best graduate schools again placed Maryland among the nation's elite. The highest ranking was recorded by the College of Education's Counseling/Personnel Services program at No. 1. The program has retained its ranking over the past eight years. The College of Computer, Mathematical & Physical Sciences and its physics department claimed two top five honors, for Plasma Physics (No. 2) and Atomic/Molecular/Optical Physics (No. 5). UM now has 86 programs ranked in U.S. News's Top 25 rankings and 31 among Top 10 lists.
Baltimore Sun: "A fledgling Maryland company that hopes to combine a humble Chesapeake Bay bacterium with worthless trash to create ethanol biofuel has received a $50,000 'challenge grant' from the state. Gov. Martin O'Malley presented the check yesterday to Steven Hutcheson, chief executive officer of Zymetis Inc., after touring the University of Maryland scientist's College Park laboratory. The cash is intended to help Zymetis expand its production process to a commercial scale. Hutcheson said he has raised $1.5 million from investors, including $100,000 of his money. ... Hutcheson, a microbiologist, is on leave from College Park. His company has been nurtured by support and advice from a state business 'incubator' on the campus. The state is an equity partner in the startup company and licenses key patents to Zymetis."
"The Army Research Laboratory selected the Department of Aerospace Engineering at the University of Maryland's A. James Clark School of Engineering to lead a Micro Autonomous Science and Technology (MAST) Collaborative Technology Alliance (CTA) Center on 'Microsystems Mechanics.' The total amount of the initial award is $10 million over 5 years with an option for another five years. The Clark School is one of four principal members of the MAST CTA Center. Each principal member leads one of four research areas: Microsystem Mechanics (Clark School, University of Maryland), Microsystems Integration (BAE Systems), Microelectronics (University of Michigan), and Processing for Autonomous Operation (University of Pennsylvania)."
Chronicle of Higher Education: "Thirty-two different versions of Hamlet, all printed before 1641, are held in the vaults of the Folger Shakespeare Library, in Washington, and other institutions--and all 32 are going digital with the help of the University of Maryland. The university announced ... that its Institute for Technology in the Humanities [MITH] will be working with the Folger Library to digitize the texts. There is no single authoritative version of the tragedy, since what survived are editions cobbled together by printers from actors' memories or from marked-up scripts used in various productions. Digitizing the 32 texts--a project financed by the National Endowment for the Humanities--will make it easy for scholars to compare and contrast versions, noting similarities and differences."
Financial Times: "Thailand has announced its first partnership with a US business school. The Smith School of Business at the University of Maryland is launching the Thai American Business Study Program, sponsored by the royal Thai embassy and the foreign ministry of Thailand. The programme will allow for the development of a course on US-Thailand/south east Asia business interaction and also includes plans for the Smith school to collaborate with the Thai government and the country's universities to explore initiatives to expand business education in the region. In 2005 the Thai government announced plans to forge educational collaborations between Thai and US universities and the Thai government currently sponsors similar programmes with the universities of Georgetown, Michigan and Wisconsin-Madison."
Info World: "Microsoft hopes to beef up its security capabilities with the acquisition of Komoku, a developer of rootkit detection products... . Komoku, a Maryland company founded in 2004, develops products that detect rootkits, malicious software that can take control of a computer in a way that often evades detection by other antimalware software. The company has served organizations with high security requirements, such as the Department of Homeland Security, the Department of Defense, and the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency. As part of the deal, Microsoft will hire William Arbaugh, the president and CTO of Komoku, who is also an associate professor of computer science at the University of Maryland. He spent many years working at the National Security Agency where he did research in information security and networking."
Chronicle of Higher Education: "The short-term economic benefits that people derive from earning a bachelor's degree vary according to their own parents' economic situation, according to a study presented ... at the annual meeting of the American Educational Research Association. The study, by Marvin Titus, an assistant professor of higher education at the University of Maryland, College Park, notes that many studies have concluded that people with bachelor's degrees earn substantially more than people without them, but none of the previous studies have looked at the influence of students' family wealth on how much such degrees pay off. Using data from the National Center for Education Statistics' 1996 Beginning Postsecondary Students survey -- examining a cohort that entered college in the fall of 1995 -- Mr. Titus looked at the incomes earned in 2001 by more than 3,000 study subjects who were employed full-time at that point. He framed such data in the context of family income, while seeking to control for factors such as the selectivity of the college they attended."
Inside Higher Ed: "Kathy McAdams considers herself an admirer of the general education revisions announced over the past several years at private institutions like Harvard University. An academic administrator at the University of Maryland, College Park, McAdams wants to see some of the same focus on thematic courses reflected in her campus�s curricular changes. But she also knows that Maryland's gen ed model will look somewhat different. McAdams, the associate dean of undergraduate studies and an associate professor of journalism, has to think about what's best for 24,000 students -- more than three times Harvard's undergraduate student body. When public flagships look at revamping the curriculum, as Maryland is doing this year as part of a broader strategic planning process, resources factor prominently in the conversation. What are the institution's strengths? How can it develop a model that works for both pre-professional students and those in the liberal arts? Is there funding available to make the changes? 'Our bigness is what makes it exciting,' McAdams said. 'We teach almost everything, and now almost everything can be included in the general education framework.' "
The San Francisco Chronicle: "A Nobel laureate with expertise on diplomatic negotiations and nuclear strategy urged the Bush administration Tuesday to stop issuing public statements that imply the United States will use overwhelming force to destroy Iran's nuclear capabilities. The advice came during a visit to UC Berkeley, where Thomas Schelling and other Nobel economists -- including Cal's George Akerlof and Stanford's Kenneth Arrow -- gathered with professors for a symposium to discuss Schelling's theories on diplomacy and warfare. 'The Bush administration aggravates Iran's interest in nuclear weapons,' said Schelling, 86, a professor from the University of Maryland. He said his advice to the White House would be: 'Whenever someone says, "Is any kind of military action or attack under consideration?" instead of saying, "All options are on the table," they should say, "No -- we're negotiating through the U.N.; we're not going to do anything unilaterally," ' Schelling said."
Omaha World-Herald: "Sen. Chuck Hagel, R-Neb., will receive the Millard E. Tydings Award for Courage and Leadership in American Politics ... at the University of Maryland. Hagel is only the third person to receive the award, which is not presented every year. Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz., received it in 2001. Two years later it went to Rep. Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., now speaker of the House. Tydings was a senator from Maryland who went against his fellow Democrats at times and clashed in the 1950s with Joe McCarthy over the Wisconsin senator's claims that communist spies had infiltrated the federal government. Paul Herrnson, director of the University of Maryland Center for American Politics and Citizenship, which presents the award, cited Hagel's military service and the positions he has taken on such issues as the Iraq war. 'Senator Hagel has been willing to put himself in harm's way throughout his public and military life, bucking his party if he felt a vital principle was involved,' Herrnson said in announcing the award."
Community outreach in The Washington Times: "Russell Davis and Karim Kambo, both 9-year-olds, have a life coach of sorts who comes to their school, Seabrook Elementary in Lanham, at least twice a week. 'He inspires me. I have a role model who can help me with my homework assignments,' Russell says in a polite, quiet voice, his hands resting on his health and fitness workbook. 'He' is Will Trice, a retired investigator and mentor volunteer with new a African American Male Achievement Program at the Maryland Institute for Minority Achievement and Urban Education (MIMAUE) at the University of Maryland's College of Education. The program is aimed at closing the achievement gap between minority and white students. According to the institute, black males have Maryland's lowest high school graduation rate at 73 percent. ... Mr. Trice represents something sorely lacking in the lives of many black children, says MIMAUE Executive Director Stephanie Timmons Brown. 'African-American boys respond better to African-American males,' Ms. Timmons Brown says. 'African-American male teachers and mentors can relate to African-American boys better; they can discipline them better, they get through better.' "
Baltimore Examiner: "Architecture students at the University of Maryland have signed an agreement with the town of Bladensburg to preserve Bostwick, a 1746 mansion that is one of the oldest buildings in Prince George's County. Students working on the project get hands-on experience with restoring pre-Revolutionary buildings, and Bladensburg, which owns the property, is able to save money on hiring a general manager for the project, said Donald Linebaugh, director of the graduate program in historic preservation within the university's architecture school. 'Because the building has not been restored before, it's a blank slate in some ways, if you will. There's every restoration problem out there in this house -- water problems, roof problems, mold problems. You name it, this house has it,' Linebaugh said."
Society & Culture
The Washington Post reports that Americans are getting all of their 40 winks...if not more. "Americans are not as sleep-deprived as they think they are and, in fact, appear to be getting more Z's these days than they got a few years ago, according to an independent analysis of government statistics. The new findings run counter to the widespread public perception that Americans are getting less and less sleep because of increasing workplace demands and the plethora of distractions available around the clock on the Internet and cable television. 'Many Americans work too much, but most do not seem to be cutting corners on their sleep to do so,' said John Robinson, a sociologist at the University of Maryland, who led the analysis with faculty colleague Steven Martin. Their report, Not So Deprived: Sleep in America, 1965-2005, scheduled for release by the university today, finds that Americans on average got 59 hours of sleep per week in 2005, the latest year for which precise statistics are available. That is three hours more than in 2000."
Associated Press: "China's policies in Tibet are hurting the country's image internationally, according to a six-country poll published Tuesday as violent clashes in the region threaten to overshadow the run-up to the Beijing Olympics. A poll of three Western and three Asian countries shows there was widespread criticism of Chinese policies toward Tibet even before the current crackdown on protests began, according to the poll organized by WorldPublicOpinion.org. ... 'While China's image in the world is generally moderately positive, it appears that China's image is being harmed by its policies on Tibet. The recent violence in Tibet may mean that China will face increasing criticism,' said Steven Kull, a director at WorldPublicOpinion.org (School of Public Policy). The position of critics of China's policy on Tibet and the position of China were described to respondents. They were asked which view was closest to their own. Pollsters told them: 'Critics of China say that it should allow Tibet to have autonomy, to preserve its traditional culture and to allow the Dalai Lama to return to Tibet.' "
The Financial Times discusses a Smith School study that finds information technology professionals who have an MBA often receive more on pay day. "Information technology professionals who also have an MBA are the most sought after in the computer business, according to the latest research from the Smith school of business at the University of Maryland. According to the survey, IT folk with an MBA earn 46 per cent more than their counterparts with only a bachelor's degree and 37 per cent more than those with other types of masters degrees. ... All of which means that an MBA is a great value investment for an IT professional, says Sunil Mithas, assistant professor of decision, operations and information technologies at the Smith school and lead author of the study."
Peter Morici, professor of business, writes a financial opinion piece for The Asia Times: "The dollar is trading at all-time lows against the euro and gold for good reasons. The George W Bush administration has flooded the world with greenbacks, and global investors have little confidence in the management of the US economy. During the Bush years, the US trade deficit has doubled. Thanks to dysfunctional energy policies and tolerance for Chinese mercantilism, the deficit has exceeded US$700 billion each of the past three years and is more than 5% of gross domestic product. The Bush energy policy emphasizes incentives for domestic oil production and letting rising prices instigate conservation, but those have failed. Domestic crude oil production is falling, the price of gas has risen from $1.51 to $3.21, automakers have populated US roads with fuel-guzzling sports utility vehicles, and petroleum now accounts for about $380 billion of the trade deficit."
Anil Gupta, Ralph Tyser Professor of Strategy at the Smith School of Business, co-authors an op/ed for The Times of India: "In 1927, Harry Warner, the founder of Warner Brothers, observed, 'Who the hell wants to hear actors talk?' In 1943, Thomas Watson Senior, the architect and chairman of IBM, speculated, 'I think there is a world market for maybe five computers.' In 1977, Ken Olsen, chairman and founder of Digital Equipment, noted, 'There is no reason for any individuals to have a computer in their home.' More recently, in 2003, Seth Godin, one of the foremost internet marketing experts, observed that while Google provided a terrific search service, it was not the foundation for a great business. What is going on here? These are really smart people. The problem is that, like Harry Warner, they are looking at the future from the lens of the past. ... Think now about whether you, as smart people, might similarly be looking at the future of your own business and that of your customers from the mental prison of current business models."
Jerome Segal, director of the Jerusalem Project at the Center for International and Security Studies at Maryland, writes an op/ed for Haaretz (Israel): "When Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas (Abu Mazen) announced earlier this week that he was suspending the peace negotiations, most Israelis responded with indifference. With guns firing in Gaza and rockets landing in Sderot and Ashkelon, of what relevance are the talks with the PLO? I would argue that the peace negotiations, if reconceived, could provide the solution to the Gaza situation. Consider this: Suppose Israel does, in the next few months, reach a comprehensive final- status agreement with the PLO, with the understanding that its implementation will be performance-based and will likely occur over several years. How would Gaza and Hamas fit into such a framework?"
Medical News Today: "Parental monitoring can reduce high-school drinking and, as a result, have a protective effect on students' drinking at college, says research published this week in the online open access journal Substance Abuse Treatment, Prevention, and Policy. The findings strengthen the idea that certain parental practices throughout high school and perhaps college could be used to curb high-risk drinking in older adolescents. Underage drinking is linked to a number of negative outcomes in this group, including suicide, high-risk sexual activity and an increased chance of alcohol dependence. Researchers from the Center for Substance Abuse Research at the University of Maryland, College Park, Maryland, USA interviewed over 1,200 students for the research, which forms part of the College Life Study. This is an ongoing, longitudinal, prospective investigation of health-risk behaviors in college students, including alcohol and other drug use."
Inter Press Service: "Large majorities of people around the world agree that women should enjoy full equality of rights compared to men, according to a survey of nearly 15,000 respondents in 16 developed and developing countries released ... by WorldPublicOpinion.org (School of Public Policy). The poll, which was released on the eve of International Women's Day, found little difference in the aspiration for gender equality between predominantly Muslim countries and western nations. ... 'The idea that women should have equal rights is fairly new,' noted WorldPublicOpinion director Steven Kull, who also runs its parent organisation, the University of Maryland's Programmeon International Policy Attitudes (PIPA). 'It is quite extraordinary that there is now such a global consensus across all cultures not only that women should have equal rights, but also that it is the responsibility of the government to prevent discrimination.' "
Science & Technology
Christian Science Monitor: "In computers, the need for speed seems insatiable. Now, researchers have shown that a sheet of graphite one single atom thick conducts electrons with far less resistance at room temperature than any material known. As a conductor of electricity, the material, dubbed graphene, beats out its nearest competitor, copper, by 35 percent. The team, led by Michael Fuhrer, with the University of Maryland's Center for Nanophysics and Advanced Materials, also found that when used as a semiconductor -- the basis for transistors and computer chips -- graphene allows electrons far higher mobility, another key trait, than the previous record-holder, indium antimonide. Mobility determines how quickly a transistor made of the material can be switched on or off. The team says graphene could lead to a new generation of smaller, faster computers. But first the right material on which to lay the graphene must be found. Electrical properties in these 'substrates' can undercut graphene's advantages. The research appears in the latest issue of the journal Nature Nanotechnology."
In a provocative article in Science Magazine, Ben Shneiderman, one of the world's leading researchers and innovators in human-computer interaction, said it was time for the laboratory research that has defined science for the last 400 years to make room for a revolutionary new method of scientific discovery. Science: "The growth of the World Wide Web and the spread of cell phones and WiFi continues to reorder whole disciplines and industries. Entrepreneurs, policy-makers, and researchers have recognized that increased collaboration through these socio-technical systems offers compelling opportunities for business, education, national security, and beyond. It is time for researchers in science to take network collaboration to the next phase and reap the potential intellectual and societal payoffs." Shneiderman provides ideas to incorporate this new approach to research.
NASA: "Way back in the beginning of the solar system, about 4.5 billion years ago, the first materials began to condense from gasses into solid particles. These materials were rich in calcium and aluminum. Astronomers have thought that at least some of the solar system's oldest asteroids should have plenty of these two elements, but no asteroids had ever been found that were particularly rich in them. Until now. A team of scientists recently identified three previously unknown asteroids that appear to be among the oldest objects in our solar system. Using visible and infrared data from telescopes on Mauna Kea in Hawaii, astronomers from the University of Maryland found asteroids that appear relatively unchanged since they formed in the early stages of our solar system�s development. 'We have identified asteroids that are not represented in our meteorite collection and which date from the earliest periods of the Solar System,' said research astronomer Jessica Sunshine. 'These asteroids are prime candidates for future space missions that could collect and return samples to Earth, providing a more detailed understanding of the Solar System's first few millions of years.' " Jessica Sunshine is senior research scientist, astronomy.
Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel: "University of Wisconsin-Madison scientists have developed a chemical catalyst that could help pave the way for hydrogen fuel cell vehicles. With fuel cells, a small chemical reactor converts hydrogen and oxygen into electricity, water and heat. When used to run a car, the only exhaust coming from the vehicle's tailpipe is water. The catalyst developed by UW-Madison in collaboration with the University of Maryland increases a fuel cell's efficiency by purging carbon monoxide from the hydrogen fuel supply before it enters the reaction chamber. Small amounts of carbon monoxide are 'poison' to the expensive platinum catalyst that runs the fuel-cell reaction, said Manos Mavrikakis, a UW-Madison chemical and biological engineering professor involved in the research. ... The research from the UW-Madison professor and Bryan Eichhorn, a University of Maryland chemistry professor, was published ... in Nature Materials, the leading journal of materials research."
Scientists, led by Miao Yu, assistant professor, mechanical engineering, have mimicked the way a fly hears to develop a high tech hearing aid. The sensor, just a couple of centimetres in diameter, could also be mounted on autonomous robotic vehicles to locate cries for help during disaster relief efforts. Humans detect slight differences in the timing of sound waves as they arrive at each eardrum and use this to reconstruct where a sound is coming from. But the differences are only noticeable because our eardrums are at least a few centimetres apart, reports New Scientist. In contrast, despite the small distance between its two eardrums, the parasitic fly Ormia ochracea can pinpoint a sound source far more accurately than humans. New Scientist: The 'eardrums" of her tiny mic are flat diaphragms made from a flexible polymer called polyamide, which moves even under very small vibrations. The bridge is a wafer of silicon dioxide. Yu's prototype also has an air-filled cavity surrounding the eardrums, which helps to transmit the sound waves from one drum to the other, as does the real fly. 'In the past people ignored the effect of the cavity, but this helps to improve the fly's directional hearing,' she says."
Red Orbit: "Researchers at the National Institute of Standards and Technology and the Joint Quantum Institute at the University of Maryland) have developed a new method for creating pairs of entangled photons, particles of light whose properties are interlinked in a very unusual way dictated by the rules of quantum physics. The researchers used the photons to test fundamental concepts in quantum theory. In the experiment, the researchers send a pulse of light into both ends of a twisted loop of optical fiber. Pairs of photons of the same color traveling in either direction will, every so often, interact in a process known as 'four-wave mixing,' converting into two new, entangled photons, one that is redder and the other that is bluer than the originals."
Scientific American: "To the lay ear, the term 'spin-bath' may sound like an ordeal fit for dirty laundry, but to a physicist, it is the sound of quantum clarity--a clutch of subatomic particles interacting cleanly enough to reveal quantum fluctuations spreading like ripples on a still pond. At a meeting ... of the American Physical Society, researchers described a test run of the most sensitive spin-bath yet, a type of artificial molecule embedded in a small film of synthetic diamond at room temperature. The U.S. and Dutch team put the spin-bath in a quantum mixture, or superposition, of two spin states. Spin is the property that makes electrons and other subatomic particles act like tiny bar magnets. Although it comes in two forms, up and down, quantum rules allow a particle to enter a superposition of up and down simultaneously. ... 'Even at room temperature these spins seem to live essentially forever from the perspective of other similar qubits,' which might make them very good at storing information in a quantum memory, says theoretical physicist Sankar Das Sarma of the University of Maryland, College Park. He says the long coherence time probably results from the diamond sample's relative scarcity of carbon 13 isotopes, which have their own spin that would interfere with the NV center."
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