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Hornbake Library explores American Dream in Occupied Japan

October 11, 2018
Contacts: 

Eric Bartheld, 301-314-0964

COLLEGE PARK, Md.-- Featuring materials from the University of Maryland's renowned Gordon W. Prange Collection of publications issued during the Allied occupation of Japan, a new exhibit opening on October 19, Crossing the Divide, focuses on residents of communities built for U.S. military and civilians following the end of World War II. After Japan surrendered unconditionally to the United States and Allied Powers in August 1945, thousands of service members moved to Japan to oversee its rehabilitation.  

These U.S. transplants created self-contained communities, or “Little America” enclaves, where they enjoyed an American middle-class lifestyle in contrast to the poverty of the war-torn city.

“Crossing the Divide” explores how Japanese people participated in building an American Dream for the occupying military personnel and how through this experience the Japanese began to rebuild their lives and construct a new nation.

Japanese architects, designers, and engineers, for example, helped shape the communities by creating single-family households that fused Western and Eastern design sensibilities. These households, in turn, provided opportunities for young Japanese women to learn Western ways, often as domestic maids.

“Lots of women’s magazines published reports of these domestic maids and what they learned,” says Yukako Tatsumi, curator of the Prange collection and librarian for East Asian Studies. “How to cook, how to make the bed, how to make a table setting. That kind of modern expertise is something Japanese women longed for.”

Complex dynamics developed in the household relationships, Tatsumi says, but at their foundation was a desire of the women to learn English and household-management skills, and to earn income or materials goods to help support their families. “Japanese young women, highly educated, had the opportunity to gain firsthand experience of modern American household life,” Tatsumi says.

“This exhibit highlights the relevance of the Prange Collection beyond just those interested in Japan Studies,” says Tatsumi. “By showing the American influence, we’re showing the relevance to local audiences.”

The Gordon W. Prange Collection is the most comprehensive archive of publications issued in Japan during the first four years of the Allied Occupation (1945-1949).

Since the early 1990s, the UMD Libraries have partnered with the National Diet Library of Japan  to preserve and provide access to the materials in the collection, which fill a gap in the Diet Library’s historical record. Digitization of the 71,000 books in the collection began in 2005.   

UMD Researchers Receive $1.3M Grant to Build App Targeting Underserved Populations

October 10, 2018
Contacts: 

Kelly Blake, 301-405-9418

COLLEGE PARK, Md.-- A team of University of Maryland researchers is developing a new mobile app to help people without regular access to health care cut through the thousands of fitness, nutrition, brain health and other offerings by providing a sort of one-stop wellness shop.

UMD School of Public Health researchers are tailoring the app for African-American and Spanish-speaking users of smartphones, who will be able to set personal goals, enter personal and family health histories and access a variety of evidence-based information on disease prevention and health promotion. The project is supported by a new four-year, $1.3 million grant from the National Institutes of Health’s National Library of Medicine.

“Increasing amounts of health information and services are online, and many people have only a mobile phone, not a desktop or laptop computer,” said Cynthia Baur, an endowed professor and director of the Horowitz Center for Health Literacy who’s overseeing development of the app. “Designing a smartphone app for multiple health topics, instead of one for a specialized purpose, allows the app to be more relevant and useful in everyday life.”

Dr. Baur is a recognized leader in developing easy to use tools for health promotion including CDC’s health literacy website, which provides resources and online training to improve health literacy and public health and the CDC Clear Communication Index, a set of scientific criteria for creating clear public communication materials. Her approach is based in communication science and focuses on providing diverse audiences with information in ways they can understand and use.

The intended users frequently lack convenient access to doctors or hospitals, and only a handful of Spanish-language health promotion apps now exist. Researchers hope the app empowers these vulnerable populations to make the best health decisions.

The multidisciplinary team working on the free app includes faculty members in the departments of Behavioral and Community Health and Health Services Administration and the Center for Health Equity, as well as faculty from the Department of Computer Science. They will work with a community design team and conduct a yearlong field test with the people who will be its end users.

“We're working with community partners to include user feedback throughout,” Baur said. “we're using health literacy principles to make the app, navigation and content easy to understand and use.”

October is Health Literacy Month. The Horowitz Center for Health Literacy is one of the sponsors of the Health Literacy in Action Conference on Oct 25-26 at UMD. 

 

UMD Celebrates Homecoming 2018

October 8, 2018
Contacts: 

Natifia Mullings, 301-405-4076

COLLEGE PARK, Md. – The University of Maryland will host its annual Homecoming Week from Sunday, October 7 to  Sunday, October 14, 2018. UMD’s campus-wide celebration is centered around the Maryland Terrapins Football Game against the Rutgers Scarlet Knights on Saturday, October 13 at noon at Capital One Field at Maryland Stadium. This year’s Homecoming celebration will also offer dozens of Fearless and family-friendly events, including alumni gatherings, artistic performances, service projects and athletic competitions. 

 

Homecoming Week will kick off on Sunday, October 7 at 9:45 a.m. with a Terps Against Hunger Homecoming Service Project at the Adele H. Stamp Student Union. The two-day event will bring together volunteers from across campus and the local community to package 400,000 meals for local children and families suffering from food insecurity. 

 

A Conversation with AOL Co-founder Steve Case will take place on Tuesday, October 9 from 5 to 6 p.m. at The Clarice Smith Performing Arts Center. Organized by the Robert H. Smith School of Business, Case will share stories about his career as a founder, investor, presidential advisor, best-selling author and philanthropist. To register for this event, visit https://go.umd.edu/SteveCase.

 

On Wednesday, October 10 at 7 p.m. at Capital One Field at Maryland Stadium, Maryland Athletics will host a Mid-Field Homecoming Gathering, a rare opportunity to take a commemorative photo midfield under the lights while enjoying free Maryland Dairy ice cream.

 

The Homecoming Comedy Show, presented by Student Entertainment Events, features Ali Wong this year. The show will include a book reading and a Q&A session. There are two scheduled shows on Thursday, October 11 at 7 p.m. and 10 p.m. at Ritchie Coliseum. 

 

On Friday, October 12, Maryland will host Terp Carnival on McKeldin Mall, offering rides, games, prizes and entertainment for students, families, and the local community from 4 to 8 p.m. Guests will also enjoy a fireworks and laser light display on McKeldin Mall. 

 

To view the full Homecoming Week schedule, visit https://homecoming.umd.edu/. Follow the celebration and join in on social media with #UMDHomecoming.

Mountaintop Observatory Sees Gamma Rays from Exotic Milky Way Object

October 8, 2018
Contacts: 

Emily Edwards, 301-405-2291 

COLLEGE PARK, Md.-- The night sky seems serene, but telescopes tell us that the universe is filled with collisions and explosions. Distant, violent events signal their presence by spewing light and particles in all directions. When these messengers reach Earth, scientists can use them to map out the action-packed sky, helping to better understand the volatile processes happening deep within space.

For the first time, an international collaboration of scientists has detected highly energetic light coming from the outermost regions of an unusual star system within our own galaxy. The source is a microquasar—a black hole that gobbles up stuff from a nearby companion star and blasts out two powerful jets of material. The team’s observations, described in the October 4, 2018 issue of the journal Nature, strongly suggest that electron acceleration and collisions at the ends of the microquasar’s jets produced the powerful gamma rays. Scientists think that studying messengers from this microquasar may offer a glimpse into more extreme events happening at the centers of distant galaxies.

The team gathered data from the High-Altitude Water Cherenkov Gamma-Ray Observatory (HAWC), which is a detector designed to look at gamma-ray emission coming from astronomical objects such as supernova remnants, quasars and rotating dense stars called pulsars. Now, the team has studied one of the most well-known microquasars, named SS 433, which is about 15,000 light years away from Earth. Scientists have seen about a dozen microquasars in our galaxy and only a couple of them appear to emit high-energy gamma rays. With SS 433’s close proximity and orientation, scientists have a rare opportunity to observe extraordinary astrophysics.

“SS 433 is right in our neighborhood and so, using HAWC’s unique wide field of view, we were able to resolve both microquasar particle acceleration sites,” said Jordan Goodman, a Distinguished University Professor of physics at the University of Maryland and U.S. lead investigator and spokesperson for the HAWC collaboration. “By combining our observations with multi-wavelength and multi-messenger data from other telescopes, we can improve our understanding of particle acceleration in SS 433 and its giant, extragalactic cousins, called quasars.”

Quasars are massive black holes that suck in material from the centers of galaxies, rather than feeding on a single star. They actively expel radiation, which can been seen from across the universe. But they are so far away that most known quasars have been detected because their jets are aimed at Earth—like having a flashlight aimed directly at one’s eyes. In contrast, SS 433’s jets are oriented away from Earth and HAWC has detected similarly energetic light coming from the microquasar’s side.

Regardless of where they originate, gamma rays travel in a straight line to their destination. The ones that arrive at Earth collide with molecules in the atmosphere, creating new particles and lower-energy gamma rays. Each new particle then smashes into more stuff, creating a particle shower as the signal cascades toward the ground.

HAWC, located roughly 13,500 feet above sea level near the Sierra Negra volcano in Mexico, is perfectly situated to catch the fast-moving rain of particles. The detector is composed of more than 300 tanks of water, each of which is about 24 feet in diameter. When the particles strike the water they are moving fast enough to produce a shock wave of blue light called Cherenkov radiation. Special cameras in the tanks detect this light, allowing scientists to determine the origin story of the gamma rays.

The HAWC collaboration examined 1,017 days’ worth of data and saw evidence that gamma rays were coming from the ends of the microquasar’s jets, rather than the central part of the star system. Based on their analysis, the researchers concluded that electrons in the jets attain energies that are about a thousand times higher than can be achieved using earthbound particle accelerators, such as the city-sized Large Hadron Collider, located along the border between France and Switzerland. The jets’ electrons collide with the low-energy microwave background radiation that permeates space, resulting in gamma ray emission. This is a new mechanism for generating high-energy gamma rays in this type of system and is different than what scientists have observed when an object’s jets are aimed at Earth.

Ke Fang, a co-author of the study and former postdoctoral researcher at the Joint Space-Science Institute, a partnership between UMD and NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center, said that this new measurement is critical to understanding what is going on in SS 433. 

“Looking at only one kind of light coming from SS 433 is like seeing only the tail of an animal,” said Fang, who is currently an Einstein Fellow at Stanford University. “Thus, we combine all of its signals, from low energy radio to X-ray, with new high-energy gamma ray observations, to find out what kind of beast SS 433 really is.”

Until now, instruments had not observed SS 433 emitting such highly energetic gamma rays. But HAWC is designed to be very sensitive to this extreme part of the light spectrum. The detector also has a wide field of view that looks at the entire overhead sky all of the time. The collaboration used these capabilities to resolve the microquasar's structural features.

“SS 433 is an unusual star system and each year something new has come out about it,” said Segev BenZvi, another co-author of the study and an assistant professor of physics at the University of Rochester. “This new observation of high-energy gamma rays builds on almost 40 years of measurements of one of the weirdest objects in the Milky Way. Every measurement gives us a different piece of the puzzle, and we hope to use our knowledge to learn about the quasar family as a whole.”

 

In addition to Goodman and Fang, UMD Department of Physics co-authors of the paper include graduate students Kristi Engel and Israel Martinez-Castellanos; postdoctoral researcher Colas Rivière; and research scientist Andrew Smith.

The HAWC collaboration is funded by the US National Science Foundation (NSF); the US Department of Energy Office of High-Energy Physics; the Laboratory Directed Research and Development program of Los Alamos National Laboratory; Consejo Nacional de Ciencia y Tecnología, México (grants 271051, 232656, 260378, 179588, 239762, 254964, 271737, 258865, 243290, 132197, and 281653) (Cátedras 873, 1563); Laboratorio Nacional HAWC de rayos gamma; L’OREAL Fellowship for Women in Science 2014; Red HAWC, México; DGAPA-UNAM (Dirección General Asuntos del Personal Académico-Universidad Nacional Autónoma de México; grants IG100317, IN111315, IN111716-3, IA102715, 109916, IA102917); VIEP-BUAP (Vicerrectoría de Investigación y Estudios de Posgrado-Benemérita Universidad Autónoma de Puebla); PIFI (Programa Integral de Fortalecimiento Institucional) 2012 and 2013; PRO-FOCIE (Programa de Fortalecimiento de la Calidad en Instituciones Educativas) 2014 and 2015; the University of Wisconsin Alumni Research Foundation; the Institute of Geophysics, Planetary Physics, and Signatures at Los Alamos National Laboratory; Polish Science Centre grant DEC-2014/13/B/ST9/945 and DEC-2017/27/B/ST9/02272; and Coordinación de la Investigación Científica de la Universidad Michoacana. The content of this article does not necessarily reflect the views of these organizations.

 


Photo: The High-Altitude Water Cherenkov Gamma-Ray Observatory (HAWC) is a detector designed to look at gamma-ray emission coming from astronomical objects such as supernova remnants, quasars and rotating dense stars called pulsars. Located roughly 13,500 feet above sea level near the Sierra Negra volcano in Mexico, the detector is composed of more than 300 tanks of water, each about 24 feet in diameter. When particles strike the water, they produce a shock wave of blue light called Cherenkov radiation. Special cameras in the tanks detect this light, allowing scientists to determine the origin of incoming gamma rays. Image credit: Jordan Goodman/University of Maryland 

 

 

Tropical Frogs Found to Coexist with Deadly Fungus

October 5, 2018
Contacts: 

Matthew Wright, 301-405-9267

COLLEGE PARK, Md.-- Amphibian biologists from around the world watched in horror in 2004, as the frogs of El Copé, Panama, began dying by the thousands. The culprit: Batrachochytrium dendrobatidis, a deadly fungus more commonly known as chytrid fungus. Within months, roughly half of the frog species native to the area went locally extinct. 

A new study led by University of Maryland researchers suggests that, within a decade, the species remaining in El Copé developed the ability to coexist with chytrid fungus. In a field study spanning the years 2010-2014, the researchers found that frogs infected with the fungus survived at a nearly identical rate compared with uninfected frogs. 

The results, published October 3, 2018 in the journal Ecological Applications, suggest that frog populations in El Copé underwent ecological and/or evolutionary changes that enabled the community as a whole to persist, despite severe species losses. According to the researchers, the results could mean good news for other hot spots of amphibian biodiversity hit hard by the chytrid fungus, such as South America and Australia. 

“Our results are really promising because they lead us to conclude that the El Copé frog community is stabilizing and not drifting to extinction,” said Graziella DiRenzo , Ph.D. ’16, biological sciences, now a postdoctoral researcher at the University of California, Santa Barbara, and the lead author of the research paper. “That’s a big concern with chytrid worldwide. Before this study, we didn’t know a lot about the communities that remain after an outbreak. In some areas, it’s still a black box.”

DiRenzo and her colleagues returned to the same small, 2-square-kilometer field site in El Copé every year from 2010 to 2014. They broke the field site down into smaller, 20-meter subsites, repeatedly sampling the subsites several days in a row within a season. Each time, the researchers tested individual frogs for the presence of the fungus while assessing the severity of any disease symptoms. 

The researchers then entered this data into a statistical model they developed to assess disease dynamics in communities beset by an outbreak. The frequent, repeated sampling of individual frogs in the field allowed the team to minimize biases by correcting the model for any animals that were present but unseen.  The results enabled the researchers to conclude that infected frogs were surviving at the same rate as uninfected frogs. This observation strongly suggested that the frog species remaining in El Copé developed the ability to tolerate the fungus and survive its deadly effects. 

“Our study found that, even though there are a lot of infected individuals, about 98 percent of them are infected at very low levels,” said Karen Lips, a professor of biology at UMD and the senior author of the study. “We know that, early on, several species played a key role in spreading infection, like Typhoid Mary. But some of these species are now gone, so the entire ecosystem is totally different. It’s almost not comparable to what was there before.”

DiRenzo, Lips and their colleagues suggest that the El Copé frog community stabilized through an effect known as “eco-evolutionary rescue.” In this scenario, some species may have evolved tolerance to the fungus while other highly infectious, “Typhoid Mary” species died off and stopped contributing to the spread of the pathogen. The fungus itself may have also become less virulent and the frog community as a whole may have undergone other types of restructuring.

The researchers note that, because the frog community in El Copé had been well-studied for years before the 2004 outbreak, the research site provides a rare window to assess changes to a frog community as a result of widespread chytrid infection. If the community has stabilized here, the researchers say, it is likely that other hard-hit frog communities elsewhere in the world may have undergone similar adaptations—even where disease has reduced the overall number of species and/or individuals. 

“The frogs of El Copé are not doing great, but they’re hanging on. The fact that some species survived is the most important thing,” Lips said. “If a species goes extinct right off the bat, it’s out of options. We know how all these species responded to the initial invasion. Now we know how the survivors are responding to continuing infection. We know there are several sites in the world that probably went through the same thing. If enough frog species in a given place can survive and persist, then hopefully someday a vibrant new frog community will replace what was lost.”

In addition to DiRenzo and Lips, Ana Longo, a postdoctoral associate in biology at UMD, also contributed to this research. DiRenzo completed part of the work while she was a postdoctoral researcher at Michigan State University. This work was supported by the National Science Foundation (Award No. DEB 1120161). The content of this article does not necessarily reflect the views of this organization.


Photo (l): The emerald glass frog (Espadarana prosoblepon) is one of the most abundant species at the study site in El Copé, Panama, following an outbreak of chytrid fungus in 2004. Image credit: Graziella DiRenzo.

Photo (r): Frogs of the genus Diasporus, such as this individual, are among the most common nocturnal frogs in El Copé, Panama, to survive following an outbreak of chytrid fungus in 2004. Image credit: Graziella DiRenzo.

 

 

 

 

 

 

UMD Part of Multi-Institutional Team Awarded $14.4M to Develop Innovative Language Technologies

October 3, 2018
Contacts: 

Tom Ventsias, 301-301-5933

COLLEGE PARK, Md. -- The University of Maryland (UMD) is part of multi-institutional team tasked with building a powerful set of language technologies that can unlock information that has previously been unsearchable, and ultimately unfindable.

The four-year project, funded by a $14.4M grant from the Intelligence Advanced Research Projects Activity (IARPA), is expected to produce a language processing system that allows a user to type in a query in English and have information returned in English—even if the content is only available in a lesser-known language like Croatian.

The project involves faculty, postdocs and students from UMD, Columbia University, Yale University, the University of Cambridge, and the University of Edinburgh. Columbia is the lead institution, with Kathleen McKeown, the founding director of Columbia’s Data Science Institute, serving as principal investigator.

The interdisciplinary research—already underway—includes experts in natural language processing, speech processing, and information retrieval.

“Today’s internet bring us closer together than ever before, but the diversity and richness of human language remains a challenge,” says Douglas Oard, a professor in the College of Information Studies (Maryland’s iSchool), who is heading up the UMD research team. “Computers can be trained to transform human language in many useful ways, but today that training process is still too expensive to affordably be applied to all the world’s languages, and too dependent on the artisanal skills of a small number of experts.”

Joining Oard at UMD are Philip Resnik, linguistics professor, Marine Carpuat, assistant professor of computer science, and Hal Daumé (professor of computer science and Language Science Center). These four faculty all have appointments in the University of Maryland Institute for Advanced Computer Studies (UMIACS), where they work together in the Computational Linguistics and Information Processing (CLIP) Laboratory, one of 16 centers and labs in UMIACS.

The system they are building, called SCRIPTS—which stands for System for Cross Language Information Processing, Translation and Summarization—will take advantage of the latest advances in computing technologies. This includes machine-learning algorithms that can sift through large amounts of human language, looking for commonalities in syntax and semantics.

When completed, SCRIPTS will be able to transcribe speech from multiple sources such as videos, news broadcasts and some types of social media. It will also process text documents like newspapers, reports and social media posts.

The system will use multiple strategies, such as matching an English query against translated documents and then summarizing the result. It will also be able to search and summarize directly in the foreign language, and then translate the selected summaries into English.

“The collection and analysis of information required to accomplish a specific intelligence task has increasingly become a multilingual venture,” says Carl Rubino, who is leading IARPA’s Machine Translation for English Retrieval of Information in Any Language (MATERIAL) program. 

For most languages, Rubino says, there are very few automated tools for cross-lingual data mining and analysis. “MATERIAL aims to investigate how current language processing technologies can most efficiently be developed and integrated to respond to specific information needs against multilingual speech and text data,” he says.

Currently, analysts must wade through multilingual document collections manually or use computers that are unable to translate languages that have a small digital footprint, known as “low-resource languages,” into English. In addition, many current systems don’t provide accurate translations of these low-resource languages.

For example, text written in Tagalog or Swahili—languages spoken by millions of people in the Philippines and East Africa, respectively—has far less digital content on which systems can be trained.

And if the language is originally retrieved from a news broadcast or other audio source, its pronunciation may not translate well to English, or there may be variable pronunciations for certain words, says Oard, who is an expert in cross-language retrieval.

“We’ve [already] built machines that learn from examples, but for these low-resource languages, we just don’t have enough examples,” he says.

This is where new technology will come into play. Using sophisticated “deep learning” systems, the SCRIPTS team will begin to compile documents in several low-resource languages that have been selected by IARPA as representative examples. They’ll develop new algorithms to analyze language patterns such as sentence structure and morphology, which is how words are formed and their relationship to other words in the same language.

Deep learning-based translation systems under development at UMD will take limited amounts of information from the low-resource languages, churn it with other language-related data from better-resourced languages, and come up with powerful new tools that will allow for the manipulation and transformation of content in those languages.

“In order for us to be able to do this kind of work, we need the ability to build new computing infrastructures that weren’t the same ones’ people were using as recently as five years ago,” says Carpuat, an expert in multilingual text analysis who is working on machine translation capabilities for SCRIPTS.

Perhaps of greatest significance, the researchers say, is that SCRIPTS is designed to incorporate four key areas of language processing—speech recognition, machine translation, cross-language retrieval, and information summarization—into one, robust platform.

“Translation, retrieval and summarization are all areas that CLIP has previously excelled in,” says Resnik, a computational linguist who is the current director of the CLIP lab. “But these tasks all needed to be done within separate systems. Now—with the use of deep learning neural networks—it allows us to combine functions and do a single ‘training’ of the system across multiple functions quickly and efficiently.”

Resnik says that in addition to the four UMD faculty, CLIP has added a postdoc and a research staff member to work on the IARPA project. There are also five UMD doctoral students involved with the research.

Looking ahead, the CLIP lab faculty envision even more powerful computing systems being used to assist with multilingual information management.

“Computational methods evolve rapidly,” says Oard, who notes that the Maryland team is already working across a full range of modern computing architectures—from high-performance computing, to the latest distributed processing systems, to deep learning clusters.

In the future, he adds, the researchers might even consider the next-generation quantum computing techniques being developed at UMD.

“We work together with sponsors like IARPA to leverage these technologies in the service of our society, to help transform the way we all can take best advantage of the increasingly information-abundant world in which we live,” Oard says.

 

About CLIP: The Computational Linguistics and Information Processing (CLIP) Laboratory at the University of Maryland is engaged in designing algorithms and building systems that allow computers to effectively and efficiently perform language-related tasks. CLIP is one of 16 labs and centers in UMIACS.

About IARPA: Launched in 2006, the Intelligence Advanced Research Projects Activity invests in high-risk, high-payoff research programs that address some of the most difficult scientific challenges faced by the U.S. intelligence community.

City of College Park to Celebrate 9th Annual College Park Day

October 1, 2018
Contacts: 

Golshan Jalali, UMD Office of Community Engagement, 301-405-0043
Ryna Quinones, City of College Park Communications, 240-487-3508

COLLEGE PARK, Md.-- On Saturday, October 6, from noon to 6 p.m., the City of College Park will host its annual College Park Day at the College Park Aviation Museum. The fun-filled and community-based event provides locals with the opportunity to engage with each other, while learning more about the City’s amenities. 

Expected to attract thousands of people from the City and the surrounding areas, College Park Day features live music and performances, a kids zone, local restaurants and food vendors, free admission to the College Park Aviation Museum and much more. Flying in just for this year’s event is Curtiss Jenny, a historic wood and fabric airplane associated with the first USPS airmail flights. The Jenny and her crew will be on the airfield along with several helicopters for the crowd to see and explore.

Additional performers and guests include: 

  • City of College Park Mayor Patrick L. Wojahn and City Councilmembers
  • Wild Anacostias Brass Band, Superior Cling Trio, Joe Garner and the Produce Section, Cumbia One and The Unknowns
  • Local festival food options offered by Fishnet, UMD’s Maryland Dairy, Potomac Pizza, BBQ Bill’s, Heavenly Desserts & Dogs, Amity Kitchen, Wassub, and Kona Ice
  • Performances by UMD groups Gymkana and DaCadence, as well as the Magic Mallets
  • A public safety demonstration from Prince George’s County Public Safety Crews, including fire, police, EMS, and bomb squad
  • Dorian Walker – a filmmaker, aviation enthusiast and chairman of “Friends of Jenny,” the organization that operates the only cross-country flying Curtiss JN-4 Jenny wooden airplane
  • 70+ community non-profit, University, business, and government agency exhibitors and craft vendors

The College Park Aviation Museum is located at 1985 Corporal Frank Scott Drive, College Park, MD 20740. Media should RSVP to Ryna Quinones at 240-487-3508 or rquinones@collegeparkmd.gov

 

 

 

UMD to Lead Milestone NSF High School Engineering Pilot Course

October 1, 2018
Contacts: 

COLLEGE PARK, Md. — With a nearly $4 million grant from the National Science Foundation (NSF), the University of Maryland will lead a first-of-its-kind nationwide pre-college course on engineering principles and design. The pilot program, entitled Engineering For US All (E4USA), will test the effectiveness of a standardized educational curriculum across multiple states. The course is intended to lead to an eventual pathway for high school students to earn college credit.

High School Students at UMD“Every student should have access to a high-quality pre-college curriculum that teaches engineering principles and practices while incorporating design-based experiences,” said Darryll J. Pines, Principal Investigator (PI) and dean of the University of Maryland’s A. James Clark School of Engineering. “The skills learned in engineering classrooms enable students from demographically and geographically diverse schools to not only become better prepared for the academic challenges within science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM) courses, but to become better prepared for life.”

The project is in partnership with Arizona State University, Morgan State University, and Virginia Tech. During the pilot, researchers will refine a curriculum developed by the American Society for Engineering Education (ASEE) and the College Board. The curriculum will integrate engineering principles and a student design project, and it will align to the Next Generation Science Standards for K–12 education, developed by 26 states and other partners. 

Vanderbilt University, another university partner, will evaluate the curriculum, student learning, and teacher training. Additional collaborators include NASA Goddard, Project Lead the Way, and the College Board. Over 1,000 students at approximately 40 high schools are expected to complete the pilot over the three year period.

"NSF helps build the nation’s future engineering workforce, and a key part of that is enabling more students to have access to and preparation for undergraduate engineering education," said Dawn Tilbury, assistant director of NSF’s Directorate for Engineering. "A standardized high school engineering course will help remove the mystery and democratize the learning and practice of engineering."

In February 2018, more than 100 U.S. deans of engineering indicated their willingness to award credit for entering undergraduate students who have successfully completed a high-quality introductory course in engineering while in high school.

“The College Board shares with the Engineering Deans Council a desire both to expand and diversify the pipeline of students interested in and well prepared to earn engineering degrees," said Trevor Packer, Senior Vice President, Advanced Placement and Instruction at the College Board. "We are eager to see whether a new engineering course in American high schools could increase appetite and readiness among a larger and more diverse set of students to major in engineering, and effectively qualify students for college credit and placement in engineering departments across the country."

By completion of the pilot, hundreds of engineering educators will be involved in shaping the curriculum. The continued support and feedback from high school teachers is critical to the pilot’s success.

“The most important element in student learning is the teacher,” said Margaret J. McLaughlin, part of the E4USA team and associate dean for research and innovation and partnerships at the UMD College of Education. “How we teach students design-based thinking cuts across science standards and other disciplines, which is why it is essential to effectively train teachers to introduce this way of thinking to their students.”

Teachers will be grouped as a network to create a broad learning community. An online platform will enable teachers to collaborate, learn from one another, and receive support by sharing teaching materials and challenges.

“E4USA provides guidelines for learning management systems and the online analytical tools for centralized data collection and protocols,” said Leigh Abts, co-PI and associate researcher with a joint appointment in UMD’s A. James Clark School of Engineering and College of Education. “E4USA will offer teachers online, mentored, video-based professional development supported by online modules and mentoring.”  

For over five years, engineering deans in the ASEE PreK-12 Engineering Education Committee have been laying the groundwork for an advanced high school course in engineering. “I am thrilled that we are that much closer to offering this opportunity to all U.S. students,” said Pines. 

Engineering for US All (E4USA) is supported by the National Science Foundation under NSF Award Number 1849430.

UMD Researchers Awarded $1 Million Grant from NSF to Develop New Methods to Generate Single Photons for Quantum Research

September 27, 2018
Contacts: 

Matthew Wright, 301-405-9267

COLLEGE PARK, Md.-- A team from the University of Maryland has been awarded $1 million by the National Science Foundation (NSF) to develop methods for generating single photons at room temperature in semiconducting carbon nanotubes. The project, which could result in new interfaces between electronic circuits and photonic devices, is part of a $31 million NSF effort to fund transformational quantum research that will enable the United States to lead a new quantum technology revolution. 

Proton rendering

The NSF funded the project, “Integrated Circuits of Single-Photon Sources from Organic Color-Centers,” as part of an initiative known as Research Advanced by Interdisciplinary Science and Engineering—Transformational Advances in Quantum Systems (RAISE-TAQS). The RAISE-TAQS effort is designed to encourage scientists to pursue exploratory, cutting-edge concepts in quantum research.

"Single-photon sources are a fundamental element for quantum information science and technology. However, it has been extremely difficult to prepare single photons with high efficiency,” said YuHuang Wang, a professor of chemistry and biochemistry at UMD and the principal investigator of the grant. “If successful, this work may further lead to a high-quality single-photon source that can be integrated directly into solid-state devices for photonic quantum information processing."

The award, which provides four years of funding, will leverage UMD’s expertise in quantum materials chemistry, theoretical physics, engineering and quantum information science. In addition to Wang, the grant also has two co-principal investigators: Joint Quantum Institute (JQI) Fellow and Physics Adjunct Professor Charles Clark and JQI Fellow and Electrical and Computer Engineering Professor Edo Waks. Waks also has an appointment in the Institute for Research in Electronics & Applied Physics (IREAP). 

The project will also make use of ongoing collaborations with Los Alamos National Laboratory and IBM. Through these collaborations and within the participating units at UMD, the award will also enable opportunities for graduate training in quantum information science and technology. 

For the project, Wang, Clark and Waks proposed a new way to generate single photons using crystallographic defects known as “color centers.” These imperfections occur naturally in some crystals. However, systems based on natural color centers can be unreliable and inefficient when used to generate single photons. To address these issues, the team proposed a method to engineer carbon nanotubes with a new family of color centers, discovered in the Wang lab, which can be chemically controlled with molecular-level precision. 

In addition to providing a precise and reliable way to generate single photons, carbon nanotubes designed with color centers may also prove to be ideal desktop atomic physics laboratories, according to the researchers. Such applications could prove invaluable for studying the behavior of exotic “quasi-particles” such as excitons and trions. 

The UMD award is one of 25 RAISE-TAQS projects, which will help lead to systems and proof-of-concept validations in quantum sensing, communication, computing and simulations. In addition to the RAISE-TAQS program, which accounts for $25 million of the total $31 million awarded for quantum research, the NSF also made an additional $6 million in grants via the related Research Advanced by Interdisciplinary Science and Engineering-Engineering Quantum Integrated Platforms for Quantum Communication (RAISE-EQuIP).

"The quantum revolution is about expanding the definition of what’s possible for the technology of tomorrow," said NSF Director France Córdova. “NSF-supported researchers are working to deepen our understanding of quantum mechanics and apply that knowledge to create world-changing applications. These new investments will position the U.S. to be a global leader in quantum research and development and help train the next generation of quantum researchers.”


Photo: Artist's rendition depicts a single photon bursting from an organic color center, which was chemically created in a carbon semiconductor host. Credit:  YuHuang Wang & Mijin Kim, University of Maryland

Helping Students Play to Their Strengths

September 27, 2018
Contacts: 

Laura Ours, 301-405-5722

COLLEGE PARK, Md.-- Many teachers and parents might agree that maximizing a student’s strengths and mitigating known challenges can lead to success, both at school and home. Yet, when tasked to report about any one student’s strengths and difficulties, teachers and parents oftentimes maintain different perspectives. 

Understanding these differences can be helpful to professionals who are developing educational programs that target specific strengths and challenges that require attention at school and home. For the first time, researchers in the University of Maryland’s Department of Psychology are developing tools that leverage these different perspectives to better asses the needs of students. 

Professor Andres De Los Reyes is leading a team of researchers that recently received a $1.4 million award from the Department of Education’s Institute of Education Sciences to create new survey instruments designed to sensitively assess mental health in the school system and in the home environment. 

In addition to De Los Reyes—who serves as the study’s principal investigator— the research team includes co-PIs at Louisiana State University and the University of Minnesota, as well as UMD graduate students. 

“Members of our team have been studying these issues for decades, and we are poised to make rapid advancements with this new award,” De Los Reyes said. 

Once good data is collected through these new mental health surveys, the researchers will be able to develop tools that will personalize educational programs to meet students’ specific needs.

“When getting a picture of a student’s overall mental health, you have to look closely at both the home context and the school context,” De Los Reyes said. “Right now, service providers and researchers commonly rely on multiple informants—like parents and teachers, and the students themselves—to characterize intervention targets, monitor intervention progress, and inform the selection of evidence-based services. 

"We are now reviewing an emerging body of interdisciplinary theory and research that demonstrates how patterns of informant discrepancies inform our understanding of students’ psychosocial strengths and difficulties.”

In turn, the research team is advancing an agenda for improving use and interpretation of informant discrepancies in school-based services and research.   

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