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UMD Hosts First-Ever Scholarship Day of Giving

December 9, 2013
Contacts: 

Katie Lawson 301-405-4622

Scholarship DayCOLLEGE PARK, Md. – The University of Maryland will host its first-ever Scholarship Day, a 24-hour giving challenge to support student scholarships across campus. Scholarship Day will take place Dec. 11, 2013.

Donors can choose from 17 scholarship options, including the university's various schools and colleges, and programs such as the Honors College, Student Veterans and Terrapin Club Scholarship Fund. Without additional support, $80 million in requests for financial aid won’t be filled this year. Scholarships help to bridge the gap.

The college or school with the most donations in 24 hours will receive matching funds up to $5,000. In total, $20,000 worth of matching funds will be shared with participating scholarship programs. In addition, UMTV – the university's cable TV station - will be supporting the effort with a TerpVision Festival throughout the day. 

For more information, visit scholarshipday.umd.edu.  Join the conversation on Twitter by following @ScholarshipDay and using the hashtag #ScholarshipDayUMD.

Watch the stories of UMD students who have greatly benefitted from earning scholarships, some of whom call it a game-changer for their academic career.

 

 

 

For the latest news and happenings at the University of Maryland, follow us on Twitter at @UMDRightNow.

 

Scholarship Day 2013: Melissa's Story

December 9, 2013

After sophomore Melissa Shaughness tragically lost her father the first day of this semester, her scholarships helped her stay in school. Give a gift on Scholarship Day, Dec. 11, and help University of Maryland students like Melissa succeed. scholarshipday.umd.edu

UMD Announces Inaugural Foxworth Initiative Recipients

December 6, 2013
Contacts: 

Nicky Everette 301-405-6714

COLLEGE PARK, Md. – The University of Maryland College of Arts and Humanities has announced the inaugural recipients of the Foxworth Creative Enterprise Initiative grants. The Foxworth Initiative funds the development of arts and humanities courses to support advanced teaching and engaged research by scholars whose interests examine community defined issues and whose products and documentation appropriately assess student learning and community engagement.

UMD Announces Inaugural Foxworth Initiative Recipients"We are excited and proud to announce our first cohort of Foxworth Creative Enterprise Initiative recipients and courses," said Bonnie Thornton Dill, dean for the College of Arts and Humanities. "Funding from the Foxworths will enable faculty to further engage students in the lived experiences of people from diverse heritages, traditions and histories, and facilitate their reflections upon the role of the humanities in promoting civic values within the contemporary United States.”

This year's recipients include Psyche Williams-Forson, associate professor in the Department of American Studies; Ana Patricia Rodriguez, associate professor in the School of Languages, Literatures, and Cultures; and Leigh Wilson Smiley, associate professor of theatre and director of the School of Theatre, Dance, and Performance Studies.

Courses include a variety of topics like Food, Trauma, and Sustainability; Latina/o Transmigration and Transnationalism; and Community Partnership for the Performing Arts. The Foxworth Initiative also partners each course or "Creative Enterprise Team" with community partners like Prince George's County Food Equity Council and Casa De Maryland to encourage the inclusion of the arts and humanities disciplines in the application of solutions to pressing issues like food insecurity, climate change, immigration, poverty and racism.

This initiative is made possible by the generosity of two UMD alumni, Domonique and Ashley Foxworth. Ultimately the Foxworth Initiative is intended to enrich arts and humanities education and scholarship, and support projects that address enduring or emerging themes central to the arts and humanities or questions arising from other disciplines to which the arts and humanities might speak. For more information, visit www.arhu.umd.edu/foxworth.

Watch the three recipients discuss their courses:

Psyche Williams-Forson, associate professor, Department of American Studies:

 

Ana Patricia Rodriguez, associate professor, Department of Spanish and Portuguese, School of Languages, Literatures, and Cultures:

 

Leigh Wilson Smiley, associate professor and director, School of Theatre, Dance, and Performance studies:

 

For the latest news and happenings at the University of Maryland, follow us on Twitter at @UMDRightNow.

 

New, All-Digital American Journalism Review Launches

December 5, 2013
Contacts: 

Dave Ottalini 301-405-1321

COLLEGE PARK, Md. – The award-winning American Journalism Review is back in an all-digital format. Published by the University of Maryland's Philip Merrill College of Journalism, the new student-driven AJR will now focus on media innovation and entrepreneurship.

"Journalism has entered a new era, and so has AJR," said Lucy Dalglish, publisher of AJR and dean of the Philip Merrill College of Journalism. "The online-only version of AJR will offer more frequent news, context and commentary and provide a platform for dialogue about the enormous changes transforming the news industry."

AJRThe revamped website is available now in an "alpha version" at ajr.org to get reader feedback.

The American Journalism Review announced in July it would halt production of its print magazine as part of a strategic makeover involving the launch of a new website and deeper integration into the journalism school at the University of Maryland.

The new AJR covers all aspects of the news industry and journalism, with a core focus on innovation, entrepreneurship, ethics and evolving journalism careers.

Stories in the debut digital edition tackle such subjects as:

  • The role of photojournalists in the era of Instagram
  • The rise of robotic services that use software to automatically generate news stories
  • Cutbacks and expanded Web editions for college newspapers nationwide
  • Drone journalism (video story)

More About the New AJR
AJR is free and designed to be a participatory platform engaging a community of journalists, students, professors, media scholars and communication professionals who are interested in the seismic forces changing how news is reported, shaped, shared and consumed.

AJR will ramp up production in February after finishing development and testing of its new website.  The new design is fully responsive, optimized for smartphones and tablets as well as desktop computers and social networks.

The all-digital AJR offers original news and commentary from journalists, students and top media thinkers.  In addition to text articles, AJR will include compelling video stories taking viewers inside newsrooms across the country to profile innovators.

Content is organized into two channels at launch: News, containing articles and video stories; and Voices, showcasing commentary, analysis and shorter items in blog-post format. Additional channels are planned early next year.

The new AJR aims to innovate along with the industry. It will experiment with new ways of telling stories, presenting news and curating information. In the coming months, AJR will introduce user-generated databases showcasing best practices in digital storytelling along with other interactive features.

Back (Left to Right) : Editorial Interns Lyle Kendrick and Mary Clare Fischer. Web developer Sean Henderson and Co-Editor Leslie Walker. Front (Left to Right) : Video Editor Bethany Swain, Co-Editor Sean Mussenden and News Editor Lisa Rossi.Student Involvement
Students are playing a greater role in helping shape AJR. At the Philip Merrill College of Journalism, where AJR is produced, students have been writing for the publication for several years. Now a series of journalism courses will be contributing content as part of their class assignments. The goal is for students to learn about media change by reporting and writing about it under the guidance of faculty.

"We are expanding the so-called "teaching hospital model" Merrill has followed for decades and integrating publishing into our curriculum in new and exciting ways," Dalglish said.

AJR is overseen by co-editors Leslie Walker and Sean Mussenden and news editor Lisa Rossi. News tips, story ideas and feedback should be directed to editor@ajr.org.

In addition to using the AJR.org website, readers can join the AJR conversation on: Twitter, Facebook , Pinterest, Google+ and other social networks.

 

For the latest news and happenings at the University of Maryland, follow us on Twitter at @UMDRightNow.

Human Activity, Forest Loss Threaten Closest Kin

December 4, 2013
Contacts: 

Laura Ours 301-405-5722

BonoboCOLLEGE PARK, Md. – For the first time, a detailed, range-wide habitat assessment of the bonobo, a great ape native to the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC), has found that the already endangered species is under immediate threat of losing forest space due to human activity and growing human populations. University of Maryland Department of Geographical Sciences professor Janet Nackoney is one of the authors from international universities and institutions that were part of this critical study, which appears in the December edition of Biodiversity and Conservation.

The study revealed that the bonobo is threatened by a combination of habitat fragmentation and human activities that put pressure on existing habitat and contribute to increased poaching.

The bonobo is smaller in size and more slender in build than the common chimpanzee. Its social structure is complex and matriarchal. Unlike the common chimpanzee, bonobos establish social bonds and diffuse tension or aggression with sexual behaviors. A stable, sustainable habitat is critical for the species' survival. Using data from nest counts and remote sensing imagery, the research team found that the bonobo—one of humankind's closest living relatives—avoids areas of high human activity and forest fragmentation, and about 28 percent of its range is characterized as suitable for habitation.

"Bonobos that live in closer proximity to human activity and to points of human access are more vulnerable to poaching, one of their main threats," Dr. Nackoney said. "This research increases our understanding of threats to bonobos and their distribution, and we hope it will help prioritize conservation interventions. Overall, the results show enormous challenges for future bonobo conservation efforts in a country with persistent poverty and growing human populations that depend heavily on resources from surrounding ecosystems. Maps and models such as those produced by this study are essential tools for protected area planning and for targeting locations of future conservation activities."

Dr. Nackoney's research focuses on developing spatial models and using remote sensing technology for assisting biodiversity conservation efforts in Africa. UMD was recently ranked fourth globally for its leadership in remote sensing research and technology by the journal Scientometrics.

MapThe entire range of the bonobo lies within the lowland forests of the DRC, the largest country in sub-Saharan Africa and currently beset with warfare and insecurity. The research team created a predictive model using available field data to define bonobo habitat and then interpolated to areas lacking data.  Specifically, the team used data on bonobo nest locations collected by numerous organizations between the years 2003-2010.  The team compiled data from 2,364 "nest blocks," with a block defined as a one-hectare area occupied by at least one bonobo nest.

The team then tested a number of factors that addressed both ecological conditions (describing forests, soils, climate, and hydrology) and human impacts (distance from roads, agriculture, forest loss, and density of "forest edge") and produced a spatial model that identified and mapped the most important environmental factors contributing to bonobo occurrence. The researchers found that distance from agricultural areas was the most important predictor of bonobo presence.  In addition to discovering that only 28 percent of the bonobo range is classified as suitable for the great ape, the researchers also found that only 27.5 percent of that suitable bonobo habitat is located in existing protected areas.

This collaborative effort was initiated at a bonobo conservation action planning meeting held in Kinshasa, DRC in January 2011.

"Our research would not have been possible without contributions from the numerous bonobo scientists who came together to provide key data on locations of bonobo observations.  Although compiling and standardizing the data was challenging, it was a rewarding experience to help facilitate this collaboration in order to develop a map and consensus about threats to suitable bonobo habitat," Dr. Nackoney said.

Read the full article in Biodiversity and Conservation.

 

For the latest news and happenings at the University of Maryland, follow us on Twitter at @UMDRightNow.

UMD Praised for Women in Engineering Program

December 4, 2013
Contacts: 

Ted Knight 301-405-3596

A. James Clark School of EngineeringCOLLEGE PARK, Md. – The A. James Clark School of Engineering's Women in Engineering (WIE) Program at the University of Maryland has been featured as one of NerdScholar's Favorite Women in Engineering Programs, a list of programs that provide unique resources and opportunities for female engineers.

According to NerdScholar, men earn the overwhelming majority of degrees in engineering (82 percent) from the top 50 academic institutions that award them. Furthermore, total enrollment of women in engineering programs dropped from 19.8 percent in 1999 to 17.9 percent in 2009. NerdScholar's list of women in engineering programs features schools, such as UMD, that are tackling this problem head on and can serve as inspiration for other programs hoping to close the gender gap.

WIE's efforts, along with the university's push for diversity and inclusion, have resulted in a steady increase in the enrollment of female engineers over the past decade. As of fall 2013, 29.4 percent of UMD's first-year engineering students are women, placing the university well above the national average.

As quoted by NerdScholar, WIE's director Paige Smith says, "Diversity and the inclusion of women are critical to the field of engineering. Diversity inspires creativity, which in turn drives innovative design. Inclusion ensures that all people have a seat at the table. At the University of Maryland, we send a clear message to prospective engineering students that engineering is not only an exciting career, but one that is critical for improving lives and the world around us."

UMD's Women in Engineering Program was established in January 1995 through a grant from the Sloan Foundation. WIE is actively involved in the recruitment of women to the Clark School and holds an annual DREAM Conference designed to show high school students the innovations and opportunities engineering has to offer. WIE offers scholarships, fellowships, and volunteer opportunities. WIE students are also able to participate in a living-learning community, which allows them to live and connect with each other in a setting conducive to study groups, networking, and social activities.

To learn more about UMD's Women in Engineering Program, visit http://www.wie.umd.edu.

 

For the latest news and happenings at the University of Maryland, follow us on Twitter at @UMDRightNow.

Subtle Signs of Water on Faraway Planets

December 3, 2013
Contacts: 

Heather Dewar 301-405-9267
Lee Tune 301-405-4679

COLLEGE PARK, Md. - Using the powerful eye of NASA's Hubble Space Telescope, two University of Maryland-led teams of scientists have found faint signatures of water in the atmospheres of five distant planets.

Credit: NASA Goddard Space Flight CenterThe presence of atmospheric water was reported previously on a few exoplanets – planets orbiting stars beyond our solar system. However, this is the first study to conclusively measure and compare the profiles and intensities of these signatures on multiple worlds.

University of Maryland astronomy professor L. Drake Deming led the census of exoplanet atmospheres that produced the new findings. Deming and colleagues characterized two of the five planets in a study published Sept. 10 in Astrophysical Journal. The findings for the three other exoplanets were reported in the same journal today.

"To actually detect the atmosphere of an exoplanet is extraordinarily difficult. But we were able to pull out a very clear signal, and it is water," said Deming, an expert at using data from space and ground-based telescopes to deduce the characteristics of exoplanets, from massive "hot Jupiters" to planets with more Earth-like traits.

"We're very confident that we see a water signature for multiple planets," said Avi Mandell, a planetary scientist at NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, Md., and lead author of the journal article published today. "This work really opens the door for comparing how much water is present in atmospheres on different kinds of exoplanets, for example hotter versus cooler ones."

The observations are the latest in a wave of new insights about exoplanets, made possible by new information from Hubble and NASA's Kepler space telescope, which searches a nearby region of the Milky Way for Earth-sized planets capable of supporting liquid water.

These exceptionally challenging studies can be done only if the planets are spotted while they are passing in front of their stars. Researchers can identify the gases in a planet's atmosphere by determining which wavelengths of the star's light are transmitted and which are partially absorbed. Deming's team employed a new technique with longer exposure times, which increased the sensitivity of their measurements.

In both studies, scientists used Hubble's Wide Field Camera 3 to explore the details of absorption of light through the planets' atmospheres. The observations were made in a range of infrared wavelengths where a pattern that signifies the presence of water would appear if water were present. The teams compared the shapes and intensities of the absorption profiles, and the consistency of the signatures gave them confidence they saw water.

The five planets -- WASP-17b, HD209458b, WASP-12b, WASP-19b and XO-1b -- orbit nearby stars. The strengths of their water signatures varied. WASP-17b and HD209458b had the strongest signals. The signatures for the other three planets, WASP-12b, WASP-19b and XO-1b, also are consistent with water.

The Sept. 10 research paper described findings for HD209458b and XO-1b, while today's publication describes WASP-12b, WASP-17b and WASP-19b.

The five planets are hot Jupiters, massive worlds that orbit close to their host stars. The researchers were initially surprised that all five appeared to be hazy. But Deming and Mandell noted that other researchers are finding evidence of haze around exoplanets.

"These studies, combined with other Hubble observations, are showing us that there are a surprisingly large number of systems for which the signal of water is either attenuated or completely absent," said Heather Knutson of the California Institute of Technology, a co-author on Deming's paper. "This suggests that cloudy or hazy atmospheres may in fact be rather common for hot Jupiters."

 

For the latest news and happenings at the University of Maryland, follow us on Twitter at @UMDRightNow.

Evolution, Civil War History Entwine in Fossil Find

December 2, 2013
Contacts: 

Heather Dewar 301-405-9267

The compound leaves of Potomacapnos apeleutheron identify the 120 million-year-old plant fossil as the earliest known North American member of the eudicots, the largest group of flowering plants. The fossil plant, which resembles a modern bleeding heat, was found in a fossil bed at Dutch Gap, VA. Photo: Nathan JudCOLLEGE PARK, Md. – A fossil leaf fragment collected decades ago on a Virginia canal bank has been identified by a University of Maryland doctoral student as one of North America's oldest flowering plants, a 115- to 125-million-year-old species new to science. The fossil find, an ancient relative of today's bleeding hearts, poses a new puzzle in the study of plant evolution: did Earth's dominant group of flowering plants evolve along with its distinctive pollen? Or did pollen come later?

The find also unearths a forgotten chapter in Civil War history reminiscent of the film "Twelve Years a Slave," but with a twist. In 1864, Union Army troops forced a group of freed slaves into involuntary labor, digging a canal along the James River at Dutch Gap, Va. The captive men's shovels exposed the oldest flowering plant fossil beds in North America, where the new plant species was ultimately found.

University of Maryland doctoral student Nathan Jud, a paleobotanist – an expert in plant fossils and their environments – identified the species and its significance. Jud named it Potomacapnos apeleutheron - Potomacapnos for the Potomac River region where it was found, and apeleutheron, the Greek word for freedmen. A paper describing the new species was published in the December 2013 issue of the American Journal of Botany.

Jud is studying the change that began 140 million years ago in the Early Cretaceous period, when plant communities of ferns gave way to a world dominated by flowering plants. In December 2011 he was at the Smithsonian Institution, where he is a pre-doctoral fellow, looking through clay-encrusted fossil ferns from Dutch Gap. Jud spotted one tiny leaf tip that seemed different.

A technician scraped away clay to reveal compound leaves, which placed the specimen in the flowering plant group known as eudicots. Today, most flowering plants are eudicots, but they were rare in the Early Cretaceous. Potomacapnos apeleutheron is the first North American eudicot ever found among geologic deposits 115 to 125 million years old.

University of Maryland paleobotanist Nathan Jud identified the fossil plant and its significance and named it in honor of the freedmen whose labor made the discovery possible. Photo courtesy of Nathan JudJud consulted paleobotanist Leo J. Hickey, who collected the leaf fossil at Dutch Gap in 1974. Hickey, a former director of Yale's Peabody Museum of Natural History, agreed the plant is an early eudicot.

One feature all eudicots share is the shape of their pollen grains, which have three pores through which the plant's sperm cells are released. But there is no three-pored pollen in the clay where the fossil was found. That's puzzling, Jud says, since pollen has a hard shell that preserves it in the fossil record. Scientists use pollen as a marker of geologic time and environmental conditions, so a change in the evolutionary sequence of eudicots and their pollen could have important implications for many types of analyses.

"Either the plant was very rare, and we just missed its pollen," Jud says, "or it's possible that eudicot leaves evolved before (three-pored) pollen did."

Hickey was excited that the Dutch Gap find might shed light on a crucial stage in flowering plant evolution. He became a co-author of Jud's research paper, but he died of cancer in February 2013, before the paper could be published.

It was Hickey who told Jud the history of the Dutch Gap site, where Union generals trying to capture Richmond in 1864 thought the canal would be a strategic shortcut. Hickey knew the black laborers who dug the canal were forced to work against their will, though most modern histories don't say so.

Union soldiers used trickery and force to compel freed slaves to dig a canal at Dutch Gap, VA in 1864. The freedmen's shovels exposed the fossil bed where North America's oldest known eudicot was found. Photo: Matthew Brady Collection, 1864, National ArchivesJud turned to Steven Miller, co-editor of the University of Maryland's Freedmen and Southern Society Project, where researchers analyze 2 million documents about former slaves' passage from bondage to freedom. Miller unearthed a protest letter from 45 impressed freedmen to the command of Union Gen. Benjamin Butler.

The men wrote that they were taken to Dutch Gap "at the point of the bayonet" and forced to dig for weeks without pay. When more laborers were needed "guards were then sent … to take up every man that could be found indiscriminately young and old sick and well. the soldiers broke into the coulored people's houses taken sick men out of bed … " A Union lieutenant endorsed the letter, writing that the men "were brought away by force" and were suffering greatly.

The Union Army's impressment of freed slaves into involuntary servitude "happened pretty regularly," Miller says. Black soldiers served in the Union ranks, black laborers did much of the Army's heavy work, and "for big projects like the Dutch Gap canal they would dragoon people from wherever they could get them – voluntarily if they could, and if they could not, by forced impressment."

After visiting the site, where cobblestones top heavy clay, Jud decided to commemorate the freedmen's "horrific" suffering in the fossil's name. "The reason you can dig fossils there is because of what they went through," he says. "I thought that instead of naming it after another scientist, I should name it after the people who made this discovery possible."

 

Photo 1: The compound leaves of Potomacapnos apeleutheron identify the 120 million-year-old plant fossil as the earliest known North American member of the eudicots, the largest group of flowering plants. The fossil plant, which resembles a modern bleeding heart, was found in a fossil bed at Dutch Gap, VA. Photo: Nathan Jud
Photo 2: University of Maryland paleobotanist Nathan Jud identified the fossil plant and its significance and named it in honor of the freedmen whose labor made the discovery possible. Photo courtesy of Nathan Jud
Photo 3: Union soldiers used trickery and force to compel freed slaves to dig a canal at Dutch Gap, VA in 1864. The freedmen's shovels exposed the fossil bed where North America's oldest known eudicot was found. Photo: Matthew Brady Collection, 1864, National Archives

 

For the latest news and happenings at the University of Maryland, follow us on Twitter at @UMDRightNow.

Pages

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