Maryland Moments, July 2010
Baltimore Sun: "The University of Maryland, College Park has begun negotiations with The Cordish Cos. to lead the redevelopment of the eastern part of the state's flagship campus, school officials said. The Baltimore-based company, which has developed projects such as the Power Plant complex at Baltimore's Inner Harbor, was selected through a request for proposals process that began in April. The approximately 38-acre, mixed-use redevelopment will include stores, eateries, entertainment and graduate student housing, which proponents hope will revitalize the area around the U.S. Route 1 corridor. Planners envision the planned Birchmere Music Hall as the anchor of the redevelopment. 'When complete, the development will bring a new urban character to College Park by creating a vibrant district of retail, residential, office, much-needed affordable graduate housing, hotel and entertainment uses that will also stimulate downtown revitalization,' Ann G. Wylie, university vice president for administrative affairs, said in a statement Friday. Blake Cordish, vice president with Cordish, said in a statement that the company will 'recognize the broader significance of east campus to the surrounding community and look forward to working closely with the local community and key stakeholders.' University officials said that besides revitalizing the area with new businesses, they hope to emphasize public transportation and bikes. The first phase, which is expected to be complete within the next three years, will relocate some facilities at the east campus area to the recently purchased Washington Post building in Greenbelt. Cordish will work with Clark Construction in Bethesda and Design Collective in Baltimore to complete the project."
Maryland Daily Record: UM president C.D. Mote Jr. writes and op/ed: "The University of Maryland and Bethesda-based Lockheed Martin Corp. have entered an agreement aimed at shortening the innovation pipeline and spurring technological development. By creating 'centers of collaboration,' the best scientists and engineers in both organizations can jointly research and incubate new technologies. This arrangement works on many levels. The type of partnership that the Maryland-Lockheed Martin agreement forms -- between a research university and industry -- will undoubtedly contribute to the nation's strategic interests. These collaborations make good economic sense and allow us to match the rapid pace of technological development. The partnership, which includes a $1 million investment by Lockheed Martin for each of three years, will allow innovations to move more quickly to the marketplace and may inspire third-party funding that might not be accessed separately. Initial collaborations will focus on cyber-defense, military logistics and climate change. All are fields vital to Maryland and the nation."
UM is No. 1 in awarding black undergraduate degrees (701) among its peers (as ranked in U.S. News & World Report Top 25 Public Universities.)
Maryland, 704 degrees
Florida, 687 degrees
Ohio State, 563 degrees
North Carolina, 419 degrees
Rutgers, 412 degrees
Baltimore Sun: "The University of Maryland received a $500,000 grant from the U.S. Department of Energy on Monday for research on environmentally friendly cooling systems. The grant was part of $92 million awarded to 43 projects that the department says will speed innovation in 'green' technologies. 'These innovative ideas will play a critical role in our energy security and economic growth,' said Energy Secretary Steven Chu in a statement. 'It is now more important than ever to invest in a new, clean energy economy.'The University of Maryland research aspires to show the commercial potential of space cooling systems that are less dependent on fluids believed to contribute to global warming. The proposal, titled 'Thermoelastic Cooling,' was submitted by UM scientists Ichiro Takeuchi and Manfred Wuttig, who say their approach could increase air conditioner efficiency by 175 percent and thus reduce utility bills and carbon emissions. The $92 million in grants will come from the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act." NOTE: The Sun story was picked up by other publications, including University Business.
The David C. Driskell Center for the Study of the Visual Arts and Culture of African Americans and the African Diaspora was recently awarded a $149,719 grant from the Institute of Museum and Library Services (IMLS). The two-year grant will provide support for documenting and presenting the Professor David C. Driskell Archive of African American Art, a task central to the Center's mission to expand and replenish the field of African American art. The grant is awarded as part of the Museum Grants for African American History and Culture to organizations committed to preserving and sharing the history of African American life from the period of slavery through present day. The IMLS grant will provide support for documenting Professor Driskell's one-of-a-kind archive, assembled over more than six decades and consisting of an estimated 50,000 objects. IMLS funds will be used to hire an archivist and two graduate student interns, as well as a consulting archivist, to guide the process. The archivist will develop procedures for inventorying and accessing the collection, supervise students in data entry, and write a manual of procedures to be used by the Center's future students, archivists, and staff. Accessibility to the archives will be enhanced through an online presence, thus increasing outreach and exchange of ideas with the surrounding community as well as with researchers and art professionals both nationally and internationally.
Business Gazette: "Opportunity can be found anywhere. So says Jay Andrew Smith, an international businessman who has sought success through both entrepreneurship and education in a career that has taken him from New York to Japan -- and now to College Park. Smith, 47, will be imparting his credo to aspiring entrepreneurs in September in his new role as director of the University of Maryland's Entrepreneurship and Innovation Program. The program, which runs through both the Honors College and the Maryland Technology Enterprise Institute, or Mtech, offers a living-learning environment for freshmen and sophomores, with 150 students expected in the fall. This program is another piece of the education continuum Mtech already had established for juniors, seniors and students transferring from Prince George's Community College. 'This is a startup project for me,' said Smith, who recently moved to Washington, D.C., and sees his new job as akin to launching a business. 'It's going to be interesting to see how everything fits together.' The university has been increasing its push toward international education in recent years, particularly in the business and marketing fields, Smith said. ... James V. Green, director of entrepreneur education for Mtech, said Smith's international exposure will bring unique context to his courses and his role in the program."
Government Computer News: "You know those ads that ask you if you're bored with your job, want to explore new horizons, AND take on fresh challenges? The Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency should consider running one. Instead, the research organization has published a FedBizOpps listing seeking computer science researchers interested in developing projects for the military. DARPA is soliciting proposals -- due by Aug. 25 -- for people to earn a one-year appointment to its Computer Science Study Group. The solicitation also offers optional extensions after the first year for some of the group members. The goal of the program is to 'identify and develop innovative ideas with high payoff in computer science and related disciplines,' according to the solicitation. The program is intentionally limited to junior faculty members at colleges at universities who have held their graduate degrees for no more than seven years and do not have tenure. Applicants must also be U.S. citizens able to earn a secret-level security clearance. Jonathan Katz, an associate professor of computer science at the University of Maryland, was part of the most recent CSSG. In recommending others apply for the positions this time, he wrote: 'Although one might not expect it (I didn't), the CSSG is fairly 'theory friendly.' I was selected for the CSSG this past year, and Rocco Servedio [an associate computer science professor at Columbia University] was chosen two years ago. Moreover, explicitly listed as 'technologies of interest' are complexity theory(!), approximation algorithms, machine learning, and network modeling. (They also accept proposals that are not in the areas of interest.) Perhaps this should not be too surprising, given that mathematician Ben Mann is behind the program.' "
Chronicle of Higher Education: "Each week it seems like a new college is ready to bestow iPads on its students for academic purposes. The latest is Oklahoma State University, which plans to distribute iPads to an estimated 120 students in the fall. 'The goal is to push this tool as hard and as far as we possibly can to really see what the limitations are,' said Bill Handy, visiting associate professor at the university's School of Media and Strategic communications. Mr. Handy, who is overseeing the project along with Tracy Suter, associate professor of marketing, said that iPads will be given to students in two courses at the university's communications and business schools, along with the faculty members. ... Oklahoma State joins several other colleges that have announced plans to distribute iPads to students in the fall. Seton Hill University and Northwest Kansas Technical College both plan to provide their entire undergraduate populations with iPads (approximately 2,100 and 8,000 students, respectively). George Fox University, which has given laptops to incoming students for more than 20 years, is offering fall freshmen a choice between an iPad and a MacBook. Other colleges, such as Duke University and the University of Maryland, will give iPads to students in select programs. Master's students at the Duke Global Health Institute will experiment with the iPad's usefulness in field research. Meanwhile, students in Maryland's Digital Cultures and Creativity living-and-learning program will learn to develop their own applications."
AOL: "A Fortune Magazine article warns that universities should hate the iPad as it will infringe on profits in the campus store. The University of California, San Diego, is going the other way. Its campus store stocks not only textbooks and collegiate gear, but runs a green grocer, a convenience store, sells computers and iPads, and does computer repair. Students began changing their campus store habits long before the iPad came onto the market. Due to the ever-increasing costs of textbooks and the availability of auctions and textbook rentals, students have been shunning the practice of buying books on campus in favor of cheaper options. ... Still, iPads are creating the next stage of evolution at the campus store. Many colleges have Apple-authorized campus stores selling not only Mac products, but the same iPad likely to kill its book sales and book rentals business. One such college with a sizable Apple store is Auburn University, which I recently visited and found lots of computers, school gear, and study guides, but very few books on display in the campus store. Many colleges are embracing the iPad and are planning experiments to test its usefulness in the coming year. IPads are being distributed to students to allow the school and faculty to gauge the benefits and limits of the technology. Some of the colleges giving iPads to students this fall are Seton Hill University, Northwest Kansas Technical College, George Fox University, Duke University, the University of Maryland, and Reed College, which will have the iPads loaded with course readings, and Indiana University. These experiments will surely net mixed results, but it is clear that due to the evolution of technology, campus stores may soon be out of the book selling business."
New York Times: "[W]ednesday a federal judge in Connecticut delivered a blow to universities, like Oregon, that classify competitive cheer as a varsity sport, ruling that Quinnipiac University's team could not be counted toward compliance with Title IX, the federal law mandating gender equity in education. 'Competitive cheer may, some time in the future, qualify as a sport under Title IX,' Judge Stefan R. Underhill of the United States District Court in Bridgeport wrote in his decision. 'Today, however, the activity is still too underdeveloped and disorganized to be treated as offering genuine varsity athletic participation opportunities for students.' ... Beyond Quinnipiac, Underhill noted that competitive cheer is not recognized by either the National Collegiate Athletic Association or the federal Department of Education, and intercollegiate teams lacked a playoff system. Although the six universities that recognize it have set up an organization to oversee the sport at the college level, Underhill said the group, the National Competitive Stunt and Tumbling Association, was a 'loosely defined, unincorporated association' without a board of directors, a voting system for members or 'other hallmarks of a governing national athletics organization.' 'The judge's decision was pretty straightforward,' said Lisa Maatz, director of public policy and government relations at the A.A.U.W., a women's advocacy group. 'I think what it means for these schools is it should put them on notice that they cannot use competitive cheer as a way to undercut women's athletic opportunities at their school.' Neena Chaudhry, senior counsel at the National Women's Law Center, agreed. 'I think it would be hard for schools to show that cheerleading should count under Title IX at this point,' she said. Oregon and the University of Maryland each sought Thursday to differentiate their programs. Oregon noted that it conducted a nationwide search before it hired Mulkey. Maryland said it was studying the ruling, but a spokesman said the university discussed its plans with the Office for Civil Rights, the arm of the education department that enforces Title IX, before adding the sport in 2003. According to the judge's ruling, a Quinnipiac official testified that the university never sought permission from the Office for Civil Rights because, in the Maryland case, the office had refused to issue a ruling on whether the team qualified as a sport. Instead, the office advised Maryland to use its own discretion."
WTOP Radio: "Plans to build a 16-mile Purple Line are officially underway in Maryland. The Montgomery County Council voted unanimously Tuesday to add a double-track rail line between downtown Bethesda and Langley Park. Montgomery County's section of the Purple Line would extend into Prince George's County to New Carrollton. A previous plan included only a single-track trolley line between Bethesda and Silver Spring. But the new plan allows more access to the University of Maryland campus and the Georgetown Branch trail. The county council says it is committed to keeping the popular walking and biking trail adjacent to the Purple Line tracks even though it will cost $40 million more than first estimated. There is concern about how safe it is to run that trail adjacent to the tracks. But the state assures residents that barriers will be built between the trail and tracks. The Maryland Transit Administration is seeking federal funding to help pay for the construction of the line." 28
Michigan State News: "Learning Arabic can be difficult for both native speakers and newcomers to the language. But MSU's Detroit Center hopes to give educators useful strategies for this task during a two-week STARTALK workshop. The national program to improve the teaching of languages, including Chinese, Arabic and Hindi, began Monday and continues through Aug. 6. This year's theme is 'Teaching and Learning Arabic in Action,' she said. The first week of the fourth annual program focuses on providing middle and high school Arabic teachers tips and tricks for teaching the language, said Wafa Hassan, the program's director and outreach coordinator for MSU's Arabic Language Instruction Flagship program. The second week allows teachers to implement what they have learned with students in a classroom setting at Bridge Academy in Hamtramck, Mich. ... Hassan received a grant of about $90,000 from the National Foreign Language Center, or NFLC, at the University of Maryland to conduct the workshop. ... Many employment opportunities require language familiarity or fluency, and students want to prepare for their futures, Hassan said. 'National agencies, state agencies, corporations and language services providers report shortages in qualified personnel,' said Catherine Ingold, director of the NFLC and a STARTALK principal investigator, in an e-mail."
Associated Press: "Earthquakes are so rare in the Washington area that even a geology student wasn't quite sure what was going on when a minor one hit early Friday. Was it a truck passing by? A low-flying plane? Gerasimos Michalitsianos, a rising senior and geology student at the University of Maryland, College Park, said he was sitting on his couch looking at e-mails when the temblor occurred. 'I didn't actually know that I was in an earthquake,' said Michalitsianos, who is studying postseismic relaxation, how the ground changes following major earthquakes. Michalitsianos said he only found out he'd been through an earthquake when he looked online. 'It was a rare treat to see an earthquake occur here on the East Coast and to actually feel it,' he said. Washington area residents are used to politicians being the region's movers and shakers, so it was a surprise when the earth below shook. A 3.6-magnitude earthquake rattled windows and jostled dishes but apparently caused no serious damage. President Barack Obama told reporters he didn't feel it. Though Californians may scoff, it was the strongest quake to hit within 30 miles of D.C. since officials began keeping records in 1974. The quake hit at 5:04 a.m. and was centered in the Rockville, Md., area, said Randy Baldwin, a geophysicist with Geological Survey's National Earthquake Information Center. By noon, more than 15,000 people had logged on to the U.S. Geological Survey's website to report feeling it, some from as far away as Pennsylvania and West Virginia. The website said earthquakes east of the Rocky Mountains can be felt over an area as much as 10 times larger than a similar magnitude earthquake on the West Coast."
Washington Post: "Rachel Karitis wants my job. Or maybe Manuel Roig--Franzia's, since she's obsessed with the Alvin Greene--for--U.S. Senate story. Either gig would be good work, if she could get it. 'A job at The Washington Post would be great,' she says. Karitis is studying the ancient trade of journalism at the University of Maryland. She's especially enamored with print journalism. Never mind that print is a sickly medium, and that most of the 18-year-old's friends -- at least the ones who aren't also aspiring journalists -- never pick up an actual dead-tree edition of a newspaper. 'They don't read it,' she says, sounding disappointed. She's read the print version of The Post since she was a young KidsPost consumer. 'Now, I read the real Post.' Nothing against the Internet, she says, 'but I like to read the paper as the paper. I just like the way it feels.' Is the 18-year-old from Olney an anachronism? Not necessarily: According to a recent Rasmussen Reports survey, 18-to-29-year-olds 'prefer reading the online version of newspapers more than any other age group, but most still would rather read the print version.' Still, most of those surveyed by Rasmussen probably didn't intend to become journalists, preferably for print publications. Karitis does. 'I'm good at writing. It just kind of makes sense for me.' Consider her Twitter bio. (And yes, she lives a little online. Nothing against the Internet, etc.) It's a lyric from a Belle & Sebastian song: 'Nobody writes them like they used to, so it may as well be me.' "
Baltimore Sun: "University of Maryland architecture student Duncan Graham had a goal this summer: to explore the country from coast to coast. But after recruiting three friends to ride their bikes from San Francisco to Ocean City, they decided two months in the saddle should generate more than a sore backside. The group, all touched by cancer in some way, decided to raise money for cyclist Lance Armstrong's Live Strong Foundation -- and they've produced more than a dollar for every one of the 3,000-plus miles along their route. Family and friends kicked in, but much of the funding has come from strangers they've met on the road, many of whom also offered contributions in the form of meals, beds, laundry and showers in their homes and even in a Kansas Pizza Hut and an Indiana fire station. ... 'The people we've met have been awesome,' said Graham, just before the start Sunday of the last leg of the journey near his parent's home in Annapolis. 'Ninety-nine percent of people are good.' Agreeing were his fellow bikers, all age 20: Reed Perry, a political science major at Wake Forest, and Peter Krause, an aspiring writer at Goucher College, both childhood friends of Graham; and Steven Rockwood, a mechanical engineering major at Maryland and Graham's college roommate."
New York Times: Recent UM grad among the elite accepted into national project: "...To be accepted by Teach for America, applicants survived a lengthy process, with thousands cut at each step. That included an online application; a phone interview; presentation of a lesson plan; a personal interview; a written test; and a monitored group discussion with several other applicants. Rachel Faust, a University of Maryland graduate who will teach in Miami, says she was struck by how aggressive some applicants were at the group session. 'They say you're not against each other, it's just a group discussion,' Ms. Faust said. 'But some people don't treat it like that, they're very competitive'..."
Washington Post: "It turns out my kids have basically been swimming in toilet water this summer. They jump in, flip-dive, splash and kick around, undaunted by the jellyfish or the color of the water. To them, it's the brown, brackish, beautiful Chesapeake Bay. To others, it looks about as inviting as a sewer. 'I'm not going in; it just looks so gross,' is something I hear at least once each season, when a friend who has joined us on the bay won't dive in. I'm reluctant to finally say it, but the water weenies might have a point, particularly after a pounding rainstorm like the one we had Sunday. This was made clear by some eye-opening and disgusting tests done this month by a group of students in a University of Maryland fellowship program called News 21http://umd.news21.com/ With the help of Sally G. Hornor, a biology professor at Anne Arundel Community College who is an expert in the field of estuary biology, the students compared samples from the Chesapeake Bay with actual toilet water. Not Ty-D-Bol-blue fresh water, but some seriously dirty water -- the kind that has marinated a substantial load of its intended contents for four hours without being flushed. The upshot: In some places after it's rained, the Chesapeake Bay is six times dirtier than the unflushed john. Let me take a moment to shudder. We swam in the bay a week ago."
A UM sophomore blogs from Central America for Marie Claire: "Odunola Ojewumi is the Marie Claire and United Nations Population Fund winner of the fourth annual Americans for UNFPA Student Award for the Health and Dignity of Women. Ola, a sophomore from the University of Maryland College Park, is blogging directly from her weeklong visit to Guatemala. 'We are leaving Guatemala tomorrow, and I really wish I could have gotten to know some of the girls at Abriendos Oportunidades on a deeper level. Each of them has a unique story to tell, different insights to share, and so much ability to inspire! To make sure their stories get told, I asked some of the youth mentors to complete Lifeline forms. Lifelines is a place to write about how your own life journey has shaped you and made you who you are today. It was created for women around the world to share their stories, be inspired by, and gain strength from women worldwide. When talking together about our lives, the girls asked me what my biggest dream is. I told them I want to be a Congresswoman so I can implement policies to improve the lives of women. Their eyes grew wide with excitement because there are so few women in a position of political power in Guatemala."
Washington Post: "Rob Garner really, really wants a set of timpani. Garner doesn't play the drums himself. He's a graduate student at the University of Maryland, getting a degree in library science, and his instrument is the trumpet. But Garner is also the president of the GSO, a student-founded, student-run 100-member orchestra that's been performing several times a year since 2005. GSO, by the way, stands for Gamer Symphony Orchestra. This group is devoted exclusively to the music of video games. And timpani could really come in handy when performing some of the themes from the popular game Halo. These days, a lot of people in the classical music world are worried that kids aren't connecting with orchestral music. But the music of video games is emerging as one way orchestras may actually be reaching new audiences. It's certainly proliferating. On Friday at Wolf Trap, the National Symphony Orchestra is presenting 'Distant Worlds,' a concert devoted to the music of the Final Fantasy video-game series, which marks its 20th anniversary this year (tickets are still available). On Aug. 7, WETA will broadcast 'Video Games Live,' another video-game concert that has come to a number of American orchestras (including the NSO) in recent years; the show will come to Strathmore in February."
Yahoo! News: "Greg Waldstreicher, a senior in the Maryland Technology Enterprise Institute (Mtech) Hinman CEOs Program, is one of five finalists for Entrepreneur Magazine's Entrepreneur of 2010 Awards in the College Entrepreneur category. The overall 2010 winner will be selected by voters on the Entrepreneur Magazine website. Voting ends September 10. Waldstreicher co-founded DoseSpot in 2009, a company developing an electronic system for medical doctors to submit prescriptions over the Internet to pharmacies. Patients receive electronic notifications when their prescriptions are ready. 'Being selected from among 1,000 fellow entrepreneurs across the U.S. is an honor,' says Waldstreicher. 'We have worked hard to build an easy-to-use, secure, reliable product that revolutionizes the sometimes difficult process of writing, tracking, and filling prescriptions. Our system makes it as easy as writing an e-mail.' More than 85 percent of pharmacies in the U.S. are ready to use Surescript-enabled systems, according to Waldstreicher, while 23 percent of doctors are already writing prescriptions online."
Roanoke News: "In 1944, Stan Kummer was in the 3rd Army's 95th Infantry, soldiers who would later be dubbed the 'Iron Men of Metz.' France has awarded him its highest honor for his role in freeing that country. ... Born in August 1919, Stanley Truman Kummer was one of Henry and Marie Kurtz Kummer's 12 children. Marie Kummer died when Stan was 4 or 5 years old. His father suffered a broken back in a railroad injury and was unable to care for a dozen children. Kummer was 7 years old when he, along with one brother and sister, went to live in an orphanage, where he remained through high school. In 1940, he graduated from the University of Maryland with an accounting degree. After Kummer's induction into the Army, he married Susan Rinehart Kummer in 1942. She died in October 2008. Recently, when Stan Kummer spoke of her, his eyes brimmed. Many Roanokers of a certain age remember Kummer from his years of coaching recreational sports -- basketball, football and swimming -- an era during which he and Bill Andrews coached hundreds of young people."
Raleigh News & Observer: "Ann White Kurtz was a senior majoring in German and French literature at the exclusive Wellesley College in 1942 when she was plucked from class and spirited away to do top-secret work for the U.S. government's war effort. Her knack for languages and a penchant for solving puzzles made her an ideal candidate for the Navy's newly formed WAVES - Women Accepted for Volunteer Emergency Service. In short order, she was one of a select group of American and British decoders working to intercept and read messages sent by German Nazis. It was the beginning of a lifetime of adventure sprinkled with years of foreign service. Kurtz, professor emeritus at Meredith College, died May 24 in Florida, where she had lived for three years. She was 88. ... Kurtz wrote about her classified work in the Navy working on encrypted communications in a first-hand account. 'At that time we were not aware of how few we were, nor why we were selected for this secret work. ... On reporting for duty as an officer, I was welcomed, and then told that if a leak were traced to me, I would be shot.' Jenny Skinner of Raleigh got an up-close look at her friend's past when the women traveled to England several years ago. 'We went to Bletchley, where British intelligence worked on the Enigma machine to break the code,' Skinner said. 'It was fascinating.' The Enigma machine was developed in Germany after World War I and was used by the German military for secure wireless communications during WWII. Kurtz and her fellow code breakers are credited with hastening the Allies' defeat of Nazi Germany and saving countless lives. It remains one of history's most successful intelligence operations. 'When people there found out she had worked on the Enigma,' Skinner said, 'they came out of the woodwork to meet her. She was an instant celebrity.' Kurtz married a Navy man and continued to pursue academics and be involved in foreign affairs, moving frequently for the sake of her husband's career. She received a doctorate in modern languages at the University of Maryland while her two children were young."
City Biz List: "DfR Solutions, Inc., an electronics consulting firm that grew out of research at the University of Maryland, plans to make an equity offering of $500,000, according to an SEC filing. DfR(Design for Reliability) Solutions applies the science of Reliability Physics to electrical and electronics technologies. The company provides quality, reliability, and durability research and consulting for the electronics industry. College Park, Md.-based DfR Solutions was initially formed by senior scientists and staffers from the University of Maryland's Center for Advanced Life Cycle Engineering for Electronic Product and Systems. Clients include Rockwell Collins, General Motors, Biotronik, RSA Security, and Schlumberger."
Asian News International: "A researcher at the University of Maryland-College Park has employed NASA's Pleiades supercomputer and atmospheric data to simulate tropical cyclone Nargis, which devastated Myanmar in 2008. The result: the first model to replicate the formation of the tropical cyclone five days in advance. To save lives from the high winds, flooding, and storm surges of tropical cyclones, forecasters need to give as much advance warning as possible and the greatest degree of accuracy about when and where a storm will occur. In Bo-wen Shen's retrospective simulation, he was able to anticipate the storm five days in advance of its birth, a critical forewarning in a region where the meteorology and monitoring of cyclones is hampered by a lack of data. At the heart of Shen's work is an advanced computer model that could improve our understanding of the predictability of tropical cyclones. The research team uses the model to run millions of numbers -- atmospheric conditions like wind speed, temperature, and moisture -- through a series of equations. This results in digital data of the cyclone''''s location and atmospheric conditions that are plotted on geographical maps. Scientists study the maps and data from the model and compare them against real observations of a past storm (like Nargis) to evaluate the model''''s accuracy. The more the model reflects the actual storm results, the greater confidence researchers have that a particular model can be used to paint a picture of what the future might look like. Shen said: 'To do hurricane forecasting, what's really needed is a model that can represent the initial weather conditions -- air movements and temperatures, and precipitation -- and simulate how they evolve and interact globally and locally to set a cyclone in motion."
NASA: "Using NASA satellite data, scientists have produced a first-of-its kind map that details the height of the world's forests. Although there are other local-and regional-scale forest canopy maps, the new map is the first that spans the entire globe based on one uniform method. The work -- based on data collected by NASA's ICESat, Terra, and Aqua satellites -- should help scientists build an inventory of how much carbon the world's forests store and how fast that carbon cycles through ecosystems and back into the atmosphere. Michael Lefsky of the Colorado State University described his results in the journal Geophysical Research Letters. The new map shows the world's tallest forests clustered in the Pacific Northwest of North America and portions of Southeast Asia, while shorter forests are found in broad swaths across northern Canada and Eurasia. The map depicts average height over 5 square kilometers (1.9 square miles) regions), not the maximum heights that any one tree or small patch of trees might attain. ... One of Lefsky's colleagues, Sassan Saatchi of NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory, has already started combining the height data with forest inventories to create biomass maps for tropical forests. Complete global inventories of biomass, when they exist, can improve climate models and guide policymakers on how to minimize the human impact on climate with carbon offsets. More immediately, said University of Maryland remote sensing expert Ralph Dubayah, tree canopy heights can be plugged into models that predict the spread and behavior of fires, as well as ecological models that help biologists understand the suitability of species to specific forests."
Forbes: "Some advertisements would have prospective polyglots believe they're just a 15-minute audio tape away from becoming a U.N. interpreter. But experts say these get-fluent-fast programs are a complete sham. 'There is no method that can do that,' says Robert DeKeyser, a professor of second language acquisition at the University of Maryland. 'The only way to learn a language is to make quite a bit of effort on a daily basis.' Programs designed to mimic the learning methods of children are also a waste of time and money, says DeKeyser. 'You cannot expect to just absorb language the way that a child does,' he says. 'Children are good at learning the underlining system of all the language input they get because they can infer the underlying patterns without understanding the rules. Adults must be conscientious of the rules of the language. Their implicit learning doesn't work all that well.' ... Many experts agree that the ideal learning method for adults really depends on the individual. 'Find the method that works for you and stick with it,' says Richard Simcott, a polyglot who has professionally worked in over 14 languages at once for the British Foreign Service. 'The main thing is to do a bit every day and to not get discouraged if you miss a day. If audio works for you, do audio. If it's classes, do classes. But find whatever it is and be consistent.' But not all adults are created equal. There are several factors that contribute to the success of one student over another. 'First of all you need aptitude for language learning,' says DeKeyser. 'People vary in their aptitude like they do in learning math or in playing basketball.' "
Middle East Online: Bilal Saab, Ph.D. student in government and politics, writes: "Papers around the world have speculated that Hosni Mubarak, the 82-year-old Egyptian president, is suffering from terminal stomach and pancreatic cancer and may not live to see the next presidential elections. This has once again raised the crucial question of political succession in Egypt, the Arab world's largest country and the most important Arab ally to the United States. Major shifts in Egyptian politics within the next year are needed to bring about change and usher in a new reformist era. Egyptian liberals, a heterogeneous constellation of civil society actors, thinkers, bloggers and political activists, have a tough choice to make in the next national elections: either decline to collaborate with the Egyptian Muslim Brotherhood and participate on their own with no real chances of securing strong representation in the Egyptian parliament, or join forces with the Brotherhood and compromise temporarily on a philosophical level in order to potentially field a strong candidate accepted by both the liberals and the Brotherhood. Without the Brotherhood's numbers, street appeal and potential for mobilisation, it will be difficult for Egyptian liberals to push for change. With the Brotherhood, change is possible but would most likely come at the risk of further empowering a movement whose fundamentalist, religious agenda may increasingly creep into Egyptian political life."
EE Times: "Researchers at the University of Maryland are studying a bee colony to enable micro air vehicles (MAV) to deal with unexpected wind changes. The MAVs could someday be used for search and rescue, defense and other similar applications. To observe and record the bees in flight, the researchers built a small-scale wind tunnel that subjects the insects to varying wind disturbances. The researchers capture the image of the bees using high-speed videography and slow down the resulting video, so they can study even the minutest changes in the bees' wing movements while compensating for varying wind gusts. 'Insects fly in very dynamic and uncertain environments. By replicating these conditions in the lab, we can identify mechanisms that enable insects' robust flight performance,' said Jason T. Vance, a biologist and post-doctoral researcher in the Autonomous Vehicle Laboratory (AVL) at the A. James Clark School of Engineering. He explains that his team couples the data collected with aerodynamic modeling principles to determine what aspects of the bees' flight could be used in the MAVs in the future. Sean Humbert , Assistant Professor in the Department of Aerospace Engineering and Institute for Systems Research, conducts the AVL. He is one of several researchers who last week won a Multidisciplinary University Research Initiatives (MURI) award from the U.S. Department of Defense for research titled 'Animal Inspired Robust Flight with Outer and Inner Loop Strategies.' The research is being led by the University of Washington. The Clark School's portion of the grant is $1.48 million. Vance and Humbert are working and coordinating with biologists, engineers, and other researchers in academe and the private sector to enable tiny flying robots to fly effectively in varying wind conditions. These robots eventually could be used to help gain situational awareness in dangerous and uncertain environments, such as those encountered on the battlefield or during natural disasters. 'It's a very integrative and multi-disciplinary approach for studying this principle,' Vance said."
Asian News International: "NASA's Deep Impact spacecraft has filmed the moon passing in front of the Earth as seen from the spacecraft's point of view 31 million miles away, which would be used to develop techniques to study alien worlds. 'Making a video of Earth from so far away helps the search for other life-bearing planets in the Universe by giving insights into how a distant, Earth-like alien world would appear to us,' said University of Maryland astronomer Michael A'Hearn, principal investigator for the Deep Impact extended mission, called EPOXI. EPOXI is a combination of the names for the two extended mission components: a search for alien (extrasolar) planets during the cruise to Hartley 2, called Extrasolar Planet Observations and Characterization (EPOCh), and the flyby of comet Hartley 2, called the Deep Impact eXtended Investigation (DIXI). During a full Earth rotation, images obtained by Deep Impact at a 15-minute cadence have been combined to make a color video. During the video, the moon enters the frame (because of its orbital motion) and transits Earth, then leaves the frame. Other spacecraft have imaged Earth and the moon from space, but Deep Impact is the first to show a transit of Earth with enough detail to see large craters on the moon and oceans and continents on Earth. 'To image Earth in a similar fashion, an alien civilization would need technology far beyond what Earthlings can even dream of building,' said Sara Seager, a planetary theorist at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Cambridge, Mass., and a co-investigator on EPOXI."
Space.com: "The discovery of a giant, spinning black hole that has been knocked off its axis twice has led astronomers to suggest that a violent galaxy collision caused the strange cosmic behavior. 'We think that this black hole has quite a history,' said astronomer Christopher Reynolds of the University of Maryland, a co-author in the black hole study. 'Not once, but twice, something has caused this black hole to change its spin axis.' In this new study, scientists detected the change in the black hole's axis using the latest data from NASA's Chandra X-ray Observatory. The likely cuprit: A catastrophic collision between two galaxies. The galactic smash-up is thought to have altered the axis of the spinning black hole. But unlike another recent study, in which colliding galaxies may have created recoiling black holes, this particular black hole was not moved by the crash -- only its spin changed. ... 'We think this is the best evidence ever seen for a black hole having been jerked around like this,' said the study's lead author Edmund Hodges-Kluck of the University of Maryland in College Park, Md. 'We're not exactly sure what caused this behavior, but it was probably triggered by a collision between two galaxies.' "
Genetic Engineering & Biotechnology News: "In all organisms, RNA synthesis is carried out by proteins -- known as RNA polymerases (RNAPs) -- that transcribe the genetic information from DNA in a highly-regulated, multi-stage process. RNAP is the key enzyme involved in creating an equivalent RNA copy of a sequence of DNA. This transcription is the first step leading to gene expression. While the major steps in RNA synthesis have been known for several decades, scientists have only recently begun to decipher the detailed molecular steps of the complex transcription process. In research published in the July 1, 2010 online Early Edition of the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, University of Maryland biophysicists Devarajan (Dave) Thirumalai and Jie Chen, along with Rockefeller University collaborator Seth Darst, provide new insight into how the transcription process is initiated and the role that RNA polymerase plays in making this happen. Because the sequence, structure, and function of multi-subunit RNA polymerase are universally conserved in all organisms -- from bacteria to humans -- understanding the mechanisms of bacterial gene transcription is an important step in deciphering the role of genetics in disease. 'Previously, people didn't know the precise role of RNA polymerase in initiating transcription,' explains Distinguished University Professor Dave Thirumalai (Department of Chemistry and Biochemistry and Institute for Physical Science and Technology), 'but we showed that it plays an important role in forming the transcription bubble and in the process of bending the DNA to facilitate entry of DNA into the active site. That is the process we described computationally.' "
TechNewsDaily: "Writing survives through the centuries either through inscription into a durable medium such as stone or animal hide, or by proliferating so thoroughly that the odds favor one copy of a text persisting through time, Unsworth said. While emails and blog posts are not carved in stone, they spread more easily and numerously than any medium in human history, all but ensuring their survival for discovery by future historians. 'Digital information's best hope for survival is its remarkable capacity for proliferation. Even a single email message leaves copies and traces of itself on dozens of servers as it makes its way across the Internet from me to you,' said Matthew Kirschenbaum, the associate director of the University of Maryland's Maryland Institute for Technology in the Humanities. 'Add in the potential for backup copies at each site, and you start to see what I mean. Once information is "on" the Web it's almost impossible to completely expunge.' "
Nature: "A Panamanian park has lost around 40% of its amphibian species in the past decade, with some dying out before biologists had even learned of their existence, according to research published today in the Proceedings of the National Academies of Science USA. Combining genetics with nearly ten years of field surveys, biologists discovered 11 new species, only to find that five of them are already extinct in the area. 'We're losing things before we find them,' says Andrew Crawford, an evolutionary geneticist at the University of the Andes in Bogotá, Colombia, and lead author of the study. The disease chytridiomycosis, caused by the chytrid fungal pathogen Batrachochytrium dendrobatidis, threatens more than 2,800 amphibian species worldwide. Amphibians infected by the disease have skin several times thicker than normal, which affects their ability to breathe and the transfer of electrolytes. Anticipating the arrival of B. dendrobatidis in El Copé, Panama, as a wave of infection advanced from the northwest of the country, co-author Karen Lips, a biologist at the University of Maryland in College Park, began leading field surveys in the 4-kilometre2 area in 1998. Her team set up transects, walking along 100-metre lines, marking down the species observed and collecting samples. The epidemic hit in 2004, enabling researchers to conduct a before-and-after comparison."
Marketing Pilgrim: "While we are all quick to open up on Google with both barrels for a variety for reasons including privacy, service speed and more privacy there are some things happening that are not all bad. Google has announced the that they have awarded about $4 million to about 75 projects 'full time faculty pursuing research in a areas of mutual interest' for Q2. In other words, there are people doing things that can help Google who aren't Google employees. As a result, of course, Google wants in. While admittedly some of the listed projects are a bit beyond my scope of understanding, it is interesting to see this list from the Official Google Blog to get a glimpse of what is being done with data to help get more mileage from it. ... Allison Druin, University of Maryland. Understanding how Children Change as Searchers (Human-computer interaction): Do children change as searchers as they age? How do searchers typically shift between roles over time? If children change, how many of them become Power Searchers? If children don't change, what roles do they typically demonstrate? ... We report on what the market has been given but we don't often think about what is being worked on for the future. Helping the blind with mobility and the prediction of future business activities based on search is interesting stuff for sure. I wonder what other companies do in these areas? Have you heard of other programs like this?"
Society & Culture
Baltimore Sun: "The damage from the oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico isn't just financial and environmental. It's emotional. A researcher from the University of Maryland was surprised by the depth of the psychological damage done to communities -- even before the oil reached their shores. Lynn Grattan, a neuro-psychologist, joined a colleague from Florida in studying a fishing community called Apalachicola for about a week. The slick had not yet made it there, but the levels of stress and anxiety were obvious, she said. �'You could see and feel it in every restaurant and shop, at every town meeting,' said Grattan, an associate professor of neurology, psychiatry, epidemiology and public health. 'Where ever people gathered, it's discussed. It's a community in crisis.' She said some fisherman had already lost their jobs because of the impacts to the industry as a whole. And some were working for BP on prevention measures, such as laying booms to capture oil before it reached the shores. But the oil wasn't yet there. And while Grattan was expecting some increase in stress levels, she was struck by the level it had already reached. They were worried about their financial future, the safety of consuming shrimp and oysters and also the environment and wildlife, including the population of turtles that lived there. She plans to analyze her data this week to see the actual level of distress. The information will be compared with that from a community that has been exposed to oil. The researchers plan to visit that community next week."
New York Times: "Corporate boards appear to routinely use compensation peer groups to artificially inflate pay for their chief executives, helping to contribute to the cascading increases in executive compensation over the last several years, according to an academic study on corporate governance. While the rate of pay increases was nearly 11 percent in one recent year, the study highlights one of the various ways that corporate boards go about determining huge compensation packages for executives. Executive pay has increased substantially over the last few years. For example, in 1965 chief executives at major American companies earned 24 times more than a typical worker, while in 2007 they made 275 times more, according to the Economic Policy Institute. This sharp increase in income for chief executives, coming as wages for ordinary Americans remained relatively flat, has become one of the more perplexing questions in social science and business. Are chief executives that much more valuable now than they were 45 years ago? Social scientists have looked at a number of reasons for the disparity in pay, with many believing that it has something to do with weak corporate directors simply giving into the demands of management, which are often leading the boards. The common answer as to why chief executives are paid so much money is that boards want to 'retain talent' and fear losing their chief executive to a competitor. Compensation committees on boards hire consultants to advise them on how much other chief executives at rival companies are paid to make sure that they are not undercutting their own top executives. Michael Faulkender of the University of Maryland's R.H. Smith School of Business and Jun Yang of Indiana University's Kelley School of Business, sought to answer these questions in a new study examining the use of comparable companies in the role of determining chief executive compensation. The study, 'Inside the Black Box: The Role and Composition of Compensation Peer Groups' (an abstract is available here), found that companies usually benchmark their executive pay with peers in their industry group, but that they also choose peers that pay more than others."
USA Today: "A surge in social-media use by small businesses reflects a shift in how they operate and their comfort with increasingly easy-to-use technology. In growing numbers, small-business owners are adopting social-networking services, location-based services, Twitter and online video to promote products and services, according to a new study by MerchantCircle, a social network for small businesses. It polled a fraction of its more than 1.3 million members. The survey results are the strongest evidence yet that small businesses -- which account for more than 90% of all U.S. companies and fuel the economy -- are accelerating their use of social media at the expense of traditional media such as newspapers, the Yellow Pages and radio. Even e-mail messages have taken a beating. ... For the first time, social media has become the most visible way for small businesses to promote their products and services. More than half of nearly 10,000 respondents nationwide say they plan to create or maintain a social-networking presence in the next three months, compared with 41% in the first three months of this year. That is the highest figure since the survey started a year ago. At the same time, adoption of location-based services has grown rapidly -- 32% of merchants familiar with Foursquare use it, compared with 25% in March. Twitter is gaining favor, too: 8% more merchants intend to use it now than in the first three months of the year. The University of Maryland's Smith School of Business says social technology adoption rates in the U.S. doubled in the past year, to 24% from 12%."
Business Gazette: "Numerous indicators point to an economic recovery -- albeit a fragile one -- in Maryland and the rest of the nation. The state's unemployment rate has fallen for three consecutive months since reaching a 27-year peak of 7.7 percent in March. Maryland employers added about 40,000 jobs from January to June, following losses in the same period in 2008 and 2009. More new housing units have been authorized, and existing homes sales and restaurant sales also have increased this year. Nationally, the gross domestic product continued to rise in the first quarter, following gains in the third and fourth quarters of 2009. Executives with the National Association of Business Economics said its latest industry survey taken last month showed that the recovery continued in the second quarter this year, although at a slower pace than the first. Yet there are trends that lead some economists to predict a dreaded 'double-dip' recession -- a second downturn that follows a brief recovery. ... " -Peter Morici, business professor, University of Maryland, College Park: "The economic recovery is flagging. Retails sales are sinking, private jobs creation, after a brief jolt in the first quarter, is tailing off, and big non-financial companies, sitting on nearly $2 trillion in cash, lack confidence to invest or hire new workers. ... There is a 50 percent chance of a 'double-dip' recession."
Washington Post: "Security is crucial for standardized tests because the results can make or break a school's reputation. But until this year, many Maryland teachers were allowed an advance look at state exams. State education officials said Friday that they had eliminated a policy that allowed elementary and middle school teachers to obtain a sneak peek of the tests in the days before they proctored them. Officials said they had grown increasingly concerned about test security. The policy was eliminated after the 2009 exams, and there are no apparent cases in which the policy led to cheating on the tests, known as the Maryland School Assessments. The results from the 2010 exams were released earlier this week; students showed modest gains from last year. But some testing experts raised their eyebrows at the practice. D.C. and Virginia officials do not allow their teachers to look at the tests before they are administered. ... One expert said the state was wise to end the practice. 'I'm not sure why the teachers themselves would need to be permitted to go into the room to read the test,' said Linda Valli, an education professor at the University of Maryland. 'It's almost like asking teachers to go in and be sure you've covered everything. If I were a teacher, I would feel negligent if I didn't take a look at the test, if it were being presented as a legitimate part of preparing.' "
PBS News Hour: "When we first began measuring the Hardship Index in summer 2008, many of the scores were in the single digits or teens. They are now usually in the 20s or 30s. But the change in the 'Burbs is especially noteworthy. Last year their Hardship Score was consistently better than the average. Since May, they have been below the average. In July their Hardship Score is 38.91, well above the average of 34.13 and higher than every community type except the big city Industrial Metropolis counties, which come in at 40.52. (On the other end of the spectrum, rural and agricultural Tractor Country has a Hardship Score of less than 28 and has seen drops in foreclosures and unemployment, which is down to 5.36 percent.) 'The dramatic difference, it seems to me, is how much worse the suburbs are scoring this year relative to before,' says James Gimpel, a University of Maryland professor and creator of the Hardship Index. 'California, Nevada and Florida suburban locations continue to be terrible, and were last year too, but the suburbs seem more uniformly distressed this year, like the plague has spread. Now suburban counties in Ohio, Pennsylvania, New York, Minnesota, Illinois, Connecticut, Washington, Georgia and even recession-proof Maryland and Virginia.' "
New York Times: "Many of the systems are godsends for families. But, as with any parent-child relationship, all loving intentions can be tempered by issues of control, role-reversal, guilt and a little deception -- enough loaded stuff to fill a psychology syllabus. For just as the current population of adults in their 30s and 40s have built a reputation for being a generation of hyper-involved, hovering parents to their own children, they now have the tools to micro-manage their aging mothers and fathers as well. Wendy A. Rogers, a psychology professor at Georgia Tech, who has studied such systems and seniors' reactions to them, recalled a man who went into high alert when a sensor system showed a high level of activity in a room of his mother's home. He called her to find out what was wrong -- and it turned out that she had decided to paint the sunroom. 'I think the critical question is: Is this something the parent wants?' said Nancy K. Schlossberg, a counseling psychologist and professor emerita at the University of Maryland. She compared monitoring technology for elderly people to the infamous 'nanny cams -- hidden cameras some parents use to spy on their children's baby sitters. 'Big Brother is watching you -- there's something about it that's very offensive,' she said. The decision, she said, must ultimately be made by the aging parent. 'It has to be negotiated with the parents,' Dr. Schlossberg said. 'You want to keep the relationship co-equal. If it's not an agreement with the parent, it can be a very destructive thing.' "
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