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UMD Capitol Hill Forum Addresses Health Disparities Research & Action for Equity

September 23, 2016
Contacts: 

Contacts: Elise Carbonaro, 301-405-6501

COLLEGE PARK, Md. – The University of Maryland, in collaboration with Rep. John P. Sarbanes and the Big Ten Academic Alliance, recently convened more than 100 people for a Research on the Hill forum focused on strategies to achieve health equity at the Rayburn House Office Building in Washington, D.C. Moderated by Stephen B. Thomas, Ph.D., professor and director of the Maryland Center for Health Equity in the UMD School of Public Health, the panel discussion engaged experts from academia, federal health agencies and the private business sector in a candid conversation about how to eliminate racial and ethnic health disparities among vulnerable populations.

“Our exploratory research holds the solutions to many of the most challenging problems of our day,” said UMD Vice President and Chief Research Officer Patrick G. O’Shea, Ph.D. “As a university, it is our mission to create and understand knowledge to develop better ways to house and heal and fuel and feed our people in advanced societies that are just, secure, and free. Achieving health equity touches on the ‘heal’ aspect of that mission.”

The topics ranged from the progress that has been made in access to medical care as a result of the Affordable Care Act (ACA) to challenges that still remain in improving quality of care and in making the medical care system incorporate public health and address the social determinants of health that prevent people from acting health promotion and disease prevention recommendations. 

“The state of Maryland has embraced the ACA and there is clear evidence that the new incentives are indeed moving hospital systems away from a fee-for-service business model to one that rewards quality care and positive health outcomes over the volume of procedures,” said Thomas. “While the transition is not perfect, our state is a national leader for what the future of health care will look like.”

Panel members shared examples of effective and innovative community-based health interventions and public-private partnerships that are making a difference through culturally-tailored health promotion and disease prevention services, and highlighted the emergence of social determinants of health such as poverty, discrimination and residential segregation as factors that must be overcome.

 “I’m convinced that if you address racial and ethnic disparities with respect to the delivery of health care and health care coverage in this country, you will build the best health care system we can possibly have because diversity is our country’s hallmark,” said Congressman Sarbanes, who, as a member of the House Energy and Commerce Committee, has been a tireless advocate for improving healthcare quality and addressing health disparities.
 
To achieve health equity, researchers, policymakers, and industry leaders must address broader issues beyond the traditional biomedical model and build trust between those who control health care delivery system and those who have lost hope in the system, said members of the panel. 

The panelists recommended that health equity be incorporated into all public policies, not just those related to health care, to reduce and ultimately eliminate health disparities. 

Panel members included:

  • Margo Edmunds, Ph.D., Vice President, Evidence Generation and Translation at Academy Health;
  • J. Nadine Gracia, M.D., M.S.C.E., Deputy Assistant Secretary for Minority Health and Director of the Office of Minority Health within the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services;
  • Julia Huggins, President of Cigna Mid-Atlantic;
  • Kolawole Okuyemi, M.D., MPH, Professor of the Department of Family Medicine and Community Health, Director of the Program in Health Disparities Research and Inaugural Endowed Chair for Health Equity at the University of Minnesota; and
  • Eliseo Pérez-Stable, M.D., Director of the National Institute on Minority Health and Health Disparities at the National Institutes of Health.

House Democratic Whip Steny H. Hoyer, who represents Maryland’s 5th Congressional District and is a distinguished UMD alumnus, also joined the event and emphasized that as an interconnected community, we should all care about health disparities.
 
“It is unacceptable that in the United States, where all are created equal in the words of our Declaration of Independence, that one’s access to healthcare may be higher or lower as a result of race, gender, or income,” said Congressman Hoyer. “Everybody being healthy is of concern to each and every one of us.”
 
He discussed how we must continue to defend the patient protections that Americans are benefiting from thanks to the ACA, such as the no-cost access to preventive services like mammograms and immunizations, as well as remind people of the dramatic increase in the number of people, particularly people of color, who now have health coverage as a result.

The event was held as part of the University of Maryland’s Research on the Hill series, which is aimed at raising awareness of research with great societal significance.

View the conversation at: https://youtu.be/HPedKr0jZLQ

UMD Study Finds Connecting Uninsured Patients to Primary Care Could Reduce ER Use

May 6, 2015
Contacts: 

Kelly Blake 301-405-9418
Hillery Tsumba 301-628-3425

Montgomery County, Md. Initiative Could Improve Health, Reduce Costs

COLLEGE PARK, Md. – An intervention to connect low-income uninsured and Medicaid patients to a reliable source of primary health care shows promise for reducing avoidable use of hospital emergency departments in Maryland. A University of Maryland School of Public Health study evaluating the results of the intervention was published this week in the May issue of the journal Health Affairs

For twenty years, use of hospital emergency departments has been on the rise in the United States, particularly among low-income patients who face barriers to accessing health care outside of hospitals, including not having an identifiable primary health care provider. Almost half of emergency room visits are considered “avoidable.” The Emergency Department-Primary Care Connect Initiative of the Primary Care Coalition, which ran from 2009 through 2011, linked low-income uninsured and Medicaid patients to safety-net health clinics. 

“Our study found that uninsured patients with chronic health issues – such as those suffering from hypertension, diabetes, asthma, COPD, congestive heart failure, depression or anxiety – relied less on the emergency department after they were linked to a local health clinic for ongoing care,” says Dr. Karoline Mortensen, assistant professor of health services administration at the University of Maryland School of Public Health and senior researcher. “Connecting patients to primary care and expanding the availability of these safety-net clinics could reduce emergency department visits and provide better continuity of care for vulnerable populations.”  

Funded by a grant from the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services and the Maryland Department of Health and Mental Hygiene, the initiative engaged all five of the hospitals operating in Montgomery County, Maryland at the time, and four safety-net clinics serving low-income patients. Using “patient navigators,” individuals trained to help patients find the care they need and can afford, these hospitals referred more than 10,000 low-income, uninsured and Medicaid patients who visited emergency departments to four local primary care clinics, with the goal of encouraging them to establish an ongoing relationship with the clinic and reduce their reliance on costly emergency department care. 

Two hospitals in Montgomery County who participated in the intervention continued the program after the initial grant period concluded because of the benefits they saw for patients and for reducing emergency department visits and associated costs. These hospitals are currently testing a new version of the intervention specifically deigned to link emergency department patients with behavioral health conditions to appropriate community-based services. 

While hospital administrators and health policy experts throughout the country are recognizing that access to primary care improves continuity of care for patients and reduces avoidable use of emergency departments, the implications of this project are particularly important for hospitals in Maryland, which are now operating under a unique all-payer model for hospital payments. Within this new payment structure, Maryland hospitals will have to meet ambitious spending, quality of care, and population health goals. Reducing avoidable use of emergency departments can help in reaching these goals.

The project provides promise not only for hospitals in Maryland but throughout the nation to improve health care experiences and outcomes for their patients. Shared learning systems were an integral component of the project so participants were learning from each other and sharing best practices throughout the project and that learning has now been documented and can be replicated in other communities.

“This was an incredibly rewarding project to work on,” says Barbara H. Eldridge, Manager of Quality Improvement at the Primary Care Coalition. “We created a learning system that permits us to sustain improved communication between patients and their providers, between hospital discharge planners and community based clinics, and across five hospitals operating in Montgomery County.” The initiative has proven successful in Montgomery County, Maryland and is being replicated in communities in other parts of the country. 

“Linking Uninsured Patients Treated In The Emergency Department To Primary Care Shows Some Promise In Maryland” was written by Theresa Y. Kim, Karoline Mortensen, and Barbara Eldridge and published in the journal Health Affairs

University Launches Dynamic, Interactive Information Website UMD Right Now

December 4, 2012
Contacts: 

Crystal Brown 301-405-4618 crystalb@umd.edu

College Park, Md. – Today, the University of Maryland launched a brand-new multimedia news and information portal, UMD Right Now, which provides members of the media and the public with real-time information on the university and its extended community.

UMD Right Now replaces Newsdesk, which previously served as the university’s news hub and central resource for members of the media. The new site is aimed at reaching broader audiences and allows visitors to keep up with the latest Maryland news and events, view photos and videos and connect with the university across all of its social media platforms.

“We designed UMD Right Now to be a comprehensive, vibrant site where visitors can find new and exciting things happening at Maryland,” said Linda Martin, executive director, Web and New Media Strategies. “Through social media, video, photos and news information, we hope to engage visitors and compel the community to explore all that Maryland has to offer.”

The new website, umdrightnow.umd.edu, contains up-to-date news releases and announcements, facts and figures about the university, a searchable database of faculty and staff experts, information highlighting innovation and entrepreneurship at UMD, additional resources for news media and other campus and athletics news.

“UMD RightNow is the place to go to find out all the things happening on and around campus on any given day,” said Crystal Brown, chief communications officer. “This website brings real-time news, events and information right to your fingertips.”

For more information and contact information for the Office of University Communications, please visit umdrightnow.umd.edu.

Inauguration Week: University of Maryland President Darryll J. Pines

April 16, 2021
Contacts: 

COLLEGE PARK, Md. - University of Maryland President Darryll J. Pines has outlined - and made significant progress toward - a bold vision for the future of our university. He has charged the campus community with creating an inclusive and multicultural campus environment, and confronting the grand challenges of our time. 

 

The University of Maryland will commemorate the formal installation of President Pines with Inauguration Week, April 19-24, 2021. This campus-wide celebration will offer opportunities to learn more about the President’s vision and goals for the future of Maryland, and feature appearances by UMD community members over multiple days of events. 

 

WHAT: Inauguration Events

 

Monday, April 19

The Art of Humanizing Grand Challenges- 5 p.m.

A panel of arts and humanities experts provides insights on today’s Grand Challenges

 

Tuesday, April 20

The Life and Legacy of David C. Driskell- 7 p.m.

President Pines joins Driskell Center Director Curlee Holton to reflect on the life and legacy of the late artist, scholar, curator and distinguished university professor emeritus.

 

Thursday, April 22 (Inauguration Day)

Official Investiture Ceremony - 11 a.m.

Darryll J. Pines is officially installed as president and shares his vision for UMD.

 

Moving Maryland Forward: A Celebration of the Inauguration of Darryll J. Pines- 7 p.m.

Innovate Maryland 2021

A celebration of the University's innovators, entrepreneurs, inventors, and creatives that includes UMD’s Invention and Startup of the Year award.

 

Friday, April 23

Forward with Hope: Never Shall We Forget - 1:30 to 3:00 p.m.
The Forward with Hope program aims to engage the community in meaningful conversation about the impact of the 2017 murder of 1st Lt. Richard W. Collins III. Collins was killed by a University of Maryland student just days before his graduation from Bowie State University. The annual Social Justice Alliance Spring Symposium brings together the Bowie State University and the University of Maryland communities to forge solutions out of tragedy, specifically focused on hate crime legislation and the climate of race relations on college campuses.

 

A Celebration of Terps: Featuring the Maryland Awards- 7 p.m.

This annual awards ceremony from the UMD Alumni Association honors the achievements of six outstanding Terps.

 

Saturday, April 24

Maryland Day

This UMD tradition closes out inauguration festivities. Enjoy a day of learning, fun and discovery online!

 

If you are interested in attending any of the Inauguration Events, please RSVP to mediainfo@umd.edu

 

University of Maryland President Darryll J. Pines Recognized as Top 50 Leader in Higher Education

April 14, 2021
Contacts: 

COLLEGE PARK, Md. - Darryll J. Pines, University of Maryland President, was recently named a Top 50 leader in Higher Education by the National Diversity Council at the 17th Annual National Diversity and Leadership Conference. 

 

“I am incredibly honored to be recognized as a leader in higher education, specifically in terms of diversity and creating an inclusive environment - a pillar of my presidency,” said President Pines. “I intend to keep this priority at the forefront while understanding there is still much work to be done to support the growth and development of our students, faculty and staff."

 

As an educator for many years, with 11 as the Dean of UMD’s A. James Clark School of Engineering, Pines has championed improvements in student support, participation in national and international student competitions and expanding innovation and entrepreneurship activities. In the first year of his presidency, Pines has made major developments in plans to improve the student experience and create an inclusive environment, while advancing the university in research and academics. 

 

Top leaders in education are characterized as innovators, strategists and pioneers in their field. Awardees are chosen based on criteria gauging educators who contribute to the growth of their students, organizations, and communities, and are active in mentoring the next generation of professionals.

 

President Pines is joined on the list by other notable university presidents and chancellors across the country. To view the full list of 2021 awardees, and to find more information about the National Diversity and Leadership Conference, please visit http://nationaldiversityconference.com/2021/ 

 

University of Maryland Launches National Network to Tackle Small Business Displacement

April 7, 2021
Contacts: 

Maggie Haslam mhaslam@umd.edu / 202-258-8946

 

College Park, Md.The University of Maryland’s National Center for Smart Growth (NCSG) has received a $3 million philanthropic investment from JPMorgan Chase to create a national “community of practice” to prevent the displacement of small businesses in rapidly gentrifying U.S. metropolitan areas.

The Small Business Anti-Displacement Network (SBAN) will galvanize small business leaders—including policy makers, scholars, government agencies and community-based organizations—to gather, evaluate and share successful place-based interventions, and to create tools and push policies to prevent the displacement or closure of vulnerable businesses. The project focuses on businesses most vulnerable to displacement, including minority- and immigrant-owned businesses, which have been particularly hard-hit by the recent COVID-19 crises.  

“Minority- and immigrant-owned small businesses are a vital source of economic and social wellbeing in communities of color,” says Dr. Willow Lung-Amam, SBAN director and principal investigator. “But, when development, higher-income residents and larger, well-capitalized businesses come to town, they are often the first businesses to go. They have a hard time competing with chain retailers, attracting new customers and adapting to the higher rents that often accompany gentrification. Currently there are not a lot of tools out there to help them stay in place.”

This is the first community of practice in the nation to focus on compiling on-the-ground actions for small businesses facing displacement, filling a critical gap in the evaluation of existing and emerging anti-displacement strategies and policies, such as commercial tax credits, affordable workspace provisions, commercial rent control and legacy business protections.

Leveraging the expertise of over 150 organizational leaders nationwide, peer-learning groups and case study teams will investigate and share viable solutions to protect and promote small businesses. The resulting “toolbox” of resources and networks will arm practitioners and policy makers working to bolster small business viability at the neighborhood, regional and national scale.

“Small businesses make up the vibrant fabric of our cities, but today they face crippling circumstances, from the COVID-19 pandemic to rising rents, that threaten their livelihood,” said Peter Scher, Vice Chairman of JPMorgan Chase & Co. “JPMorgan Chase is proud to support this innovative anti-displacement network led by the University of Maryland to help vulnerable small businesses, particularly those owned by Black, Latinx and other entrepreneurs, keep their doors open. By working with policymakers, nonprofits and community institutions, this program will help advance a more inclusive economy where more people have the opportunity to benefit.”

While many disadvantaged small businesses were already facing severe pressures from gentrification, the economic fallout from the coronavirus has left many struggling to survive. In the early months of the pandemic, Black businesses closed at a rate twice the national average, seeing a 41% drop in active business owners, while Latinx businesses saw a 32% drop. According to McKinsey, Black or Latinx business owners were more likely to be classified as ‘at risk’ or ‘distressed’ prior to the COVID-19 crisis.

“Now, more than ever, small businesses are facing existential crises brought on by man-made and natural forces,” said Marla Bilonick, Executive Director & CEO of the Latino Economic Development Center. “External shocks like gentrification, large-scale construction projects, natural disasters and global pandemics are pushing already vulnerable small businesses over the tipping point, and most will never recover or reopen. These times require creative and innovative solutions that will position small businesses to weather these shocks, and also take advantage of the economic opportunity and vitality that will come afterward. It is critical that small businesses—the top job creators in our nation—be the center of focus as we look to rebuild the U.S. economy.”

Initial project phases will focus on metropolitan areas that are experiencing intense gentrification pressures, such as Washington, D.C., San Francisco, Chicago and New York City. The project hopes to identify aggressive tools and policy strategies that can provide immediate relief to affected businesses. Subsequent phases hope to devise strategies for metropolitan areas facing less intense pressures by putting protections in place before commercial displacement begins. SBAN hopes to serve as a model of community-engaged, data-driven and effective anti-displacement policy and planning in cities across the U.S. and internationally.

In 2013, the NCSG launched the Purple Line Corridor Coalition, a network of more than 40 organizations collaborating to forge equitable, sustainable strategies and policies to retain residents and vulnerable small businesses along Maryland’s Purple Line light rail corridor.

This $3 million philanthropic investment builds on JPMorgan Chase’s $350 million, five-year global commitment to grow Black, Latinx, women-owned and other underserved small businesses, help address the racial wealth divide and create a more inclusive recovery from the COVID-19 pandemic.

"The University’s partnership with JPMorgan Chase is designed to propel smart growth, an aspiration we have here in College Park and one that is shared in cities across the nation," said University of Maryland President Darryll J. Pines. "I offer my sincere congratulations in establishing a transformational effort that will widely disseminate research-based strategies that work while maintaining a sharp focus on preserving diversity and small businesses."

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About the National Center for Smart Growth: The National Center for Smart Growth is a non-partisan center for research and education on smart growth, sustainability and related land use issues, nationally and internationally. Located at the University of Maryland, College Park, NCSG conducts research on community and economic development, international planning and urban management, land use, smart cities and transportation.

About JPMorgan Chase & Co: JPMorgan Chase & Co. (NYSE: JPM) is a leading global financial services firm with assets of $3.4 trillion and operations worldwide. The firm is a leader in investment banking, financial services for consumers and small businesses, commercial banking, financial transaction processing and asset management. A component of the Dow Jones Industrial Average, JPMorgan Chase & Co. serves millions of customers in the United States and many of the world's most prominent corporate, institutional and government clients under its J.P. Morgan and Chase brands. Information about JPMorgan Chase & Co. is available at www.jpmorganchase.com.

Three UMD Students Named 2021 Goldwater Scholars

March 30, 2021
Contacts: 

Abby Robinson 301-405-5845

COLLEGE PARK, Md. – Three University of Maryland undergraduates were awarded scholarships this year by the Barry Goldwater Scholarship and Excellence in Education Foundation, which encourages students to pursue advanced study and research careers in the sciences, engineering and mathematics.

UMD’s 2021 Goldwater Scholars are:

UMD 2021 Goldwater Scholars

Over the last decade, UMD’s nominations have yielded 37 Goldwater scholarships—the second most in the nation behind Stanford University. Harvard University, the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and Johns Hopkins University also rank in the top 10.

“Our scholars are already contributing significantly to understanding a broad array of important scientific problems through their research. Collectively, there are advancing our understanding of plasma physics and laser-matter interactions, neurological disorders, and bias in artificial intelligence-based algorithms. These young research stars are on trajectories to make major research contributions throughout their careers,” said Robert Infantino, associate dean of undergraduate education in the College of Computer, Mathematical, and Natural Sciences. Infantino has led UMD’s Goldwater Scholarship nominating process since 2001.

Andhavarapu, Raman and Rockafellow were among the 410 Barry Goldwater Scholars selected from 1,256 students nominated nationally this year. Goldwater Scholars receive one- or two-year scholarships that cover the cost of tuition, fees, books, and room and board up to $7,500 per year. These scholarships are a stepping-stone to future support for the students’ research careers. The Goldwater Foundation has honored 73 UMD winners and five honorable mentions since the program’s first award was given in 1989.

Sanketh Andhavarapu

Andhavarapu, a Banneker/Key Scholar from Ellicott City, Maryland, began doing research at the University of Maryland School of Medicine (UMSOM) after his freshman year of high school. He has worked in three different research groups there as well as one at the University of Toronto—publishing six journal articles, including two as first author, and submitting four more.

With UMSOM Assistant Professor Tapas Makar, Andhavarapu has made basic research contributions to the mechanisms of potential therapies for HIV-associated neurocognitive disorder, the cellular dynamics and multiple sclerosis pathology, and an animal model for HIV-associated primary central nervous system lymphoma. Since the COVID-19 pandemic began, he also contributed to five meta-analyses on emergency medicine and critical care topics with Assistant Professor UMSOM Quincy Tran, began conducting neuroeconomics research with University of Toronto Associate Professor Gustavo Saposnik to better understand the decision-making of neurologists in the treatment of their patients with multiple sclerosis, and is working on non-opioid alternatives to treat neuropathic pain with UMSOM Associate Professor Volodymyr Gerzanich.

“Sanketh joined my lab because he was interested in expanding his research horizons within the field of neurology. Specifically, he wanted to gain more experience in conducting neurofunctional experiments with preclinical models,” Gerzanich said. “After seeing him work, I can confidently say that Sanketh is the most motivated and intellectually curious undergraduate that I have mentored yet.”

Andhavarapu also found success as a serial entrepreneur. He co-founded and serves as co-CEO of Vitalize App, which was founded in January 2020 to improve the wellness of health care professionals using digitally delivered, tailored mindfulness and resilience practices. The company participated in Terp Startup, a summer accelerator program for student entrepreneurs, and raised $20,000 in grant funding. The team is currently conducting user research with over 100 clinicians, building a second app iteration, and securing partnerships and pilots with nonprofits and hospital departments in preparation for a public launch in September 2021.

He also founded and is CEO of an educational nonprofit called STEPS Inc. STEPS connect volunteer tutors with families seeking long-term tutoring services and donates the profits to support education in low-income areas of their community. The company has generated nearly $18,000 in revenue and recently launched a grant foundation to support other education nonprofits working with underserved communities.

In addition to running those two companies, he serves as vice president of Peer to Peer, a mentorship program that connects 40 UMD students with high school-aged children of refugee families in the local community. The Terps help with homework, run educational activities, and provide college and SAT preparation lessons. He also volunteers as a medical assistant with Mobile Medical Care, a clinic that serves the uninsured patient population, and shares his perspective on applied behavioral science topics via articles published by The Decision Lab, an international think tank and consultancy.

Andhavarapu was named to DC Inno's 25 under 25 list for 2020, and he received the Ed Snider Center Leadership Award from the Robert H. Smith School of Business, a UMD Alumni Association Scholarship, the Innovators of Progress Scholarship, and an Emerging Venture Capitalists Association Fellowship. 

After he graduates, Andhavarapu plans to pursue an M.D./Ph.D. in neuroscience and stay involved with digital health innovation and behavioral science.

Naveen Raman

Raman, who is a President’s Scholarship recipient from Derwood, Maryland, began working with UMD computer science faculty members in 2018. Since then, he has published four papers and submitted a fifth for publication.

He began by developing algorithms to identify cancer mutation signatures with Distinguished University Professor Aravind Srinivasan and former Assistant Professor Max Leiserson and moved on to working with Assistant Professor John Dickerson to develop policies that balance fairness and profit in ride-pooling systems.

He’s also currently working with Associate Professor Jordan Boyd-Graber to improve question answering systems by leveraging data from trivia competitions. Raman’s focus is on advancing so-called named entity linking algorithms, which connect names found in a question to larger repositories of data about them like Wikipedia. These advances will ultimately help question answering systems perform better on a diverse set of questions.

“Naveen Raman is a clear star researcher—and practitioner—in the making,” Dickerson said. “He is driven, questioning, curious and technically talented, as well as a young adult with a strong sense of civic duty and commitment to using technology for social good.”

In Summer 2019, Raman worked to detect rudeness, toxicity and burnout in open-source communities as a participant in Carnegie Mellon University’s Research Experience for Undergraduates in Software Engineering program. Last summer, he worked at Facebook to develop a user interface for debugging machine learning models and learned about important societal issues that machine learning can help solve, such as hate speech detection.

An active competitor, Raman’s team won the National Academy Quiz Tournaments’ Division 2 Intercollegiate Championship Tournament during his freshman year. In 2020, he and two classmates received an honorable mention award in the 72-hour Mathematical Contest in Modeling for their project that analyzed the effect that rising global temperatures have on herring and mackerel fishing along the Scottish coast. He also received an outstanding award in the 2020 SIMIODE Challenge Using Differential Equations Modeling for his team’s work on modeling interactions in refugee camps.

He has been a teaching assistant for a programming languages class and the lead student instructor for a class on algorithms for coding interviews. He also serves as vice president of UMD’s Puzzle Club.

Off campus, Raman teaches literacy skills to underprivileged elementary school students in the Maryland Mentor Program and volunteers at the College Park Academy charter school helping students improve their math skills.

He has been awarded the Brendan Iribe Endowed Scholarship, Capital One Bank Dean’s Scholarship in Computer Science and Corporate Partners in Computing Scholarship.

Raman plans to attend graduate school to pursue a Ph.D. in computer science, with a focus on the fairness of artificial intelligence algorithms in critical fields such as criminal justice, job markets and health care.

Ela Rockafellow

Rockafellow—a Banneker/Key Scholar who went to elementary school in Zambia and graduated from high school in Washington, D.C.—works on one of only three high-power, ultrafast lasers in the world that operates in the mid-infrared wavelength of 3.9 microns. She has co-authored a paper published in the journal Physical Review Letters and presented two posters at national American Physical Society meetings.

Since January 2019, Rockafellow has been working in the laboratory of Physics Professor Howard Milchberg, who also holds appointments in the Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering (ECE) and the Institute for Research in Electronics and Applied Physics (IREAP).

First, Rockafellow designed and constructed an autocorrelator—an optical device for measuring the duration of short laser pulses—for the team’s 3.9-micron laser. Then, she was instrumental to a team that measured ionization yield by lasers of 14 orders of magnitude. Currently, she is running simulations and conducting experiments measuring terahertz radiation generation.

“Ela’s level of scholarly activity and publication is rare and exceptional, and I can say without qualification that Ela is the one of the best undergraduate students I have seen at the University of Maryland,” said one of Ela’s course instructors, Thomas E. Murphy, Keystone Professor of ECE and director of IREAP. “She exhibits a rare combination of intelligence, creativity and dedication that I seldom find, even in graduate students.”

She also has a passion for teaching others. Rockafellow has been an undergraduate teaching assistant for several physics courses and is currently involved in designing a physics course about diversity, equity and inclusion that will be taught in the fall.

She also serves as outreach coordinator and as a volunteer tutor for the university’s Society of Physics Students chapter and was the mentor coordinator for the 2021 Conference for Undergraduate Underrepresented Minorities in Physics (CU2MIP).

Outside of school, she has been competing in equestrian events since she was 6 years old and she started wrestling in eighth grade, competing as one of the only female wrestlers in the league for the next five years. Rockafellow is also a talented artist and painter.

After graduation, she plans to pursue a Ph.D. in physics and continue her work in experimental intense laser/matter interactions. 

 

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Terrapin Development Company selects Brandywine Realty Trust as Master Developer for Next Phase of Discovery District Development

March 25, 2021
Contacts: 

College Park, Maryland (March 22,2021) –Terrapin Development Company (TDC), in partnership with the University of Maryland College Park,has entered into an exclusive development agreement with Brandywine Realty Trust (NYSE: BDN) to develop a world-class, mixed-use neighborhood spanning five acres within the University of Maryland’s Discovery District.

The Discovery District is the epicenter of academic, research and economic catalysts in Greater College Park. The $300+ million development project will feature 550,000 square feet of class-A innovative workspaces encompassing research, office, collaboration and retail space, plus 200-250 multifamily residential units. With seamless connections to mass transit and major roadways, and the University’s talent base, this project is designed to accelerate ventures of all kinds—from startups to Fortune 500 Company headquarters—and will serve as a natural extension of the University’s renowned research enterprise. 

“This development will be transformational for the city, county and state. This new project within our Discovery District will continue to grow the University of Maryland’s position as an economic driver by bringing in thousands of additional jobs to our community, as well as creating a dynamic, place based development to serve as a gathering spot for the local community,” said Ken Ulman, President of Terrapin Development Company.

Darryll J. Pines, President of the University of Maryland continued, “The announcement of TDC’s new partnership with Brandywine ushers in the next phase of development projects that further enhance our dynamic campus community. Together, we will grow our ecosystem for innovation and technology that creates a lasting impact for the university’s students, faculty, staff and neighbors,”

The new Discovery District project’s elevated level of design and placemaking was imagined by acclaimed architects at Baltimore-based Ayers Saint Gross and Michael Vergason Landscape Architects. The master-planned district will deliver a cinematic human-centric experience, establishing excellent pedestrian movement along the Baltimore Avenue corridor and campus. The created physical space will link university researchers, students and staff with private sector companies and laboratories, the project will accelerate the University’s research and discovery enterprise, providing an additional catalyst as an economic engine for the state and region. The project is adjacent to the new Purple Line, offering easy connections to the Washington DC Metro system, and has set forth many sustainability goals, including LEED classification, to responsibly develop the land. The master plan will be executed over 4 phases.

“We are delighted to partner with Terrapin Development Company to create a neighborhood of vibrant spaces. The Discovery District will deliver an unmatched convergence of talent, transit, and amplify the visionary spirit that will be the foundation for a world-class innovation ecosystem. Once complete, this project will deliver durable value to the university, business and entrepreneurial stakeholders and the region,” said Jerry Sweeney, President & CEO of Brandywine Realty Trust.

Brandywine is prioritizing a public space and placemaking strategy to serve as a tactile backdrop for the collaboration and creativity of the district. Creatively designed public spaces will further provide the fabric to knit together the elements that will define an active, engaged, and quality addition to this outstanding campus environment.

For additional details or to learn about leasing opportunities, visit https://www.brandywinerealty.com/discovery-district.  

 

About Brandywine Realty Trust

Brandywine Realty Trust (NYSE: BDN) is one of the largest, publicly traded, full-service, integrated real estate companies in the United States with a core focus in the Philadelphia, Austin and Washington, D.C. Markets. Organized as a real estate investment trust (REIT), we own, develop, lease and manage an urban, town center and transit-oriented portfolio comprising 173 properties and 24.4 million square feet as of September 30, 2020. Our purpose is to shape, connect and inspire the world around us through our expertise, the relationships we foster, the communities in which we live and work, and the history we build together. For more information, including the supplemental financial information, please visit www.brandywinerealty.com.   

About Terrapin Development Company

Terrapin Development Company (TDC) is a joint venture real estate and economic development entity created by the University of Maryland, College Park and the University of Maryland College Park Foundation. TDC's mission is to create long term value for its members while transforming Greater College Park into a vibrant, diverse and walkable community that attracts the best faculty, staff and students, and galvanizes a culture of research and entrepreneurship. Through transformative real estate activity that holistically enhances the vision of the Greater College Park initiative, Terrapin Development Company strives to create an equitable, vibrant city built for the community, UMD faculty & students, and its entrepreneurial & research hub. 

www.terrapindevelopment.com 

 

About the University of Maryland

The University of Maryland, College Park is the state's flagship university and one of the nation's preeminent public research universities. A global leader in research, entrepreneurship and innovation, the university is home to more than 40,000 students,10,000 faculty and staff, and 297 academic programs. As one of the nation’s top producers of Fulbright scholars, its faculty includes two Nobel laureates, three Pulitzer Prize winners and 58 members of the national academies. The institution has a $2.1 billion operating budget and secures more than $1 billion annually in research funding together with the University of Maryland, Baltimore. For more information about the University of Maryland, College Park, visit www.umd.edu.

 

 

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University of Maryland Joins Nationwide Taskforce on Higher Education and Opportunity

March 22, 2021
Contacts: 

University Communications, mediainfo@umd.edu 

COLLEGE PARK, M.d.-- The University of Maryland recently joined nearly 40 institutions to launch the Taskforce on Higher Education and Opportunity

 

The Taskforce brings together leaders from across American higher education, including public, private, two-year, and four-year institutions that represent 2.5 million students nationwide. Taskforce members are focused on three key goals: ensuring student success despite widespread financial difficulty, partnering with local communities, and reimagining how higher education is delivered.

 

Schools will take individual and collective action to meet the shared mission of the Taskforce through new goals set regularly. Member institutions are now launching the first round of initiatives to prepare the graduates of 2021-2023 for success in the post-pandemic economy. In the coming months, Taskforce members will develop programs to support local communities, and additional programs will follow to reimagine the future of higher education and prepare students for work in a post-pandemic world.

 

To help meet the Taskforce's goal of positioning students for success, Maryland will initially focus on supporting transfer students. In Fall 2020, nearly 40% of new students at UMD were transfer students, often from community colleges across the state. Through established programming in the A. James Clark School of Engineering, the university has seen success in onboarding transfer students by offering specialized services and support, and will explore replicating and expanding this at other colleges and schools on campus.

 

“I wish for all students - no matter where they start their path in higher education - to have the opportunities and support they need to successfully finish their degree at the University of Maryland,” said Darryll J. Pines, University of Maryland President. “I am encouraged that plans are in development to help transfer students transition smoothly to UMD and support them through graduation."

 

UMD and Taskforce member partners are driven to act by the challenges caused by the pandemic, income inequality, the changing nature of work, and levels of unemployment among recent college graduates nearly double those seen in the 2008 recession. The impact of this crisis is falling unevenly across groups and disproportionately impacting students from disadvantaged communities, despite their educational background. The Taskforce will provide greater opportunity to students and communities, while reimagining higher education's contribution to society and sharing insights with the broader education community.

 

Taskforce membership will continue to grow to diversify and scale impact with a focus on action – uniquely positioning the Taskforce in the higher education space. Current members include: 

 

 

●        Mark Becker, President of Georgia State University

●        Gene D. Block, Chancellor of University of California, Los Angeles

●        Seth Bodnar, President of University of Montana

●        Bob Brown, President of Boston University*

●        Ángel Cabrera, President of Georgia Institute of Technology

●        Mary Schmidt Campbell, President of Spelman College*

●        Michael Crow, President of Arizona State University

●        Carol Folt, President of University of Southern California*

●        Joan Gabel, President University of Minnesota

●        Patrick Gallagher, Chancellor of University of Pittsburgh

●        Kevin Guskiewicz, Chancellor of University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill

●        Andrew David Hamilton, President of New York University

●        Anne Kress, President of Northern Virginia Community College*

●        Paul LeBlanc, President of Southern New Hampshire University

●        Linda Livingstone, President of Baylor University

●        Sarah Mangelsdorf, President of University of Rochester

●        Andrew Martin, Chancellor of Washington University in St. Louis

●        Harold Martin, Chancellor of North Carolina A&T State University

●        Gary May, Chancellor of University of California, Davis

●        Joe May, Chancellor of Dallas College

●        James Milliken, Chancellor of University of Texas System*

●        Mark Mitsui, President of Portland Community College

●        Darryll Pines, President of University of Maryland

●        Vincent Price, President of Duke University

●        Scott Pulsipher, President of Western Governors University*

●        Scott Ralls, President of Wake Technical Community College

●        Robert C. Robbins, President of University of Arizona*

●        Félix V. Matos Rodríguez, Chancellor of City University of New York*

●        Timothy Sands, President of Virginia Tech

●        Michael Schill, President of University of Oregon

●        Kate Smith, President of Rio Salado College

●        Samuel Stanley, President of Michigan State University

●        Astrid S. Tuminez, President of Utah Valley University

●        Gregory Washington, President of George Mason University

●        Ruth Watkins, President of University of Utah

●        Federico Zaragoza, President of College of Southern Nevada

●        Bill Hansen, CEO and President at Strada Education Network

●        André Dua, Senior Partner, McKinsey & Company*

 

*Indicates Taskforce Executive Committee Member and/or Goal 1 Initiative Lead

 

 

 

University of Maryland Science Major Wins Prestigious 2021 Churchill Scholarship

March 11, 2021
Contacts: 

Abby V. Robinson  301-405-5845

COLLEGE PARK, Md. – Senior Pavan Ravindra from the University of Maryland’s College of Computer, Mathematical, and Natural Sciences (CMNS) has been awarded a 2021 Winston Churchill Scholarship, which offers him full funding to pursue a one-year master’s degree at the University of Cambridge in the United Kingdom.

Ravindra—who will graduate from UMD in May with bachelor’s degrees in biochemistry and computer science—will pursue a Master of Philosophy degree in chemistry at Cambridge. 

Nationally, 17 students in the sciences, engineering or mathematics received Churchill Scholarships this year. The scholarship—valued at around $60,000—covers all educational fees and provides living and travel allowances. Since the inception of the Churchill award in 1963, six UMD students have received this scholarship, five of them since 2018.

“Pavan has excelled in the classroom and in his independent research efforts, with two published papers and an algorithm that is already being used by other researchers in academia and industry,” said CMNS Dean Amitabh Varshney. “The Churchill Scholarship will offer him unique opportunities to deepen his interests at the intersection of biochemistry and computer science.”

The Churchill Scholarship will allow Ravindra to join the ICE Group at the University of Cambridge. There, Ravindra will work with Angelos Michaelides, the 1968 Professor of Chemistry at the University of Cambridge, in the field of chemical simulations.

“Cambridge has attracted researchers at the forefront of many different directions in theoretical and computational chemistry, and this scholarship gives me the chance to learn directly from these scientists,” Ravindra said. “Receiving this scholarship is a testament to the incredible mentorship I've received during my time at Maryland, and I am very excited for my upcoming year at Cambridge.”

Ravindra, who is from Clarksville, Maryland, previously received a 2020 Goldwater Scholarship, a citation from the Integrated Life Sciences program in the Honors College, a Banneker/Key Scholarship, and he was named a 2020 Merrill Presidential Scholar.

In 2018, when Ravindra joined the laboratory of Pratyush Tiwary, an assistant professor in the Department of Chemistry and Biochemistry and the Institute for Physical Science and Technology, he and biophysics graduate student Zachary Smith tried to find a way to describe proteins and chemical systems more generally.

Eventually, they did it, developing an algorithm named AMINO, Automatic Mutual Information Noise Omission. The algorithm describes proteins and chemical systems using a minimal set of parameters—a difficult task that is usually done manually.

“Researchers can now use AMINO to hopefully overcome the barrier of needing information beforehand about the system they are looking at,” Ravindra said. 

AMINO led to a first-author scientific paper for Ravindra, which was published in the journal Molecular Systems Design & Engineering in 2019, and a second-author paper that applied AMINO to complex biophysical problems, published in the Journal of Physical Chemistry in 2020. In addition, the open-source code is already being used by other research groups and pharmaceutical companies to help improve their modeling and workflow of drug design.

“Along with graduate students in my lab, Pavan has continued working on challenging problems combining the frontiers of physical chemistry with artificial intelligence. This includes new method development, as well as applications to different ambitious and relevant problems, such as how molecules fundamental to life—proteins, DNA and RNA—adopt different shapes and forms,” Tiwary said. “Predicting this flexibility is often the key to designing effective, nontoxic drugs for different diseases. Pavan’s methods are helping make it possible to predict this flexibility in an inexpensive, effective and insightful manner.”

In addition to his campus research, Ravindra also worked at the National Institutes of Health’s National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke with Jeffrey Smith (B.S. ’73, zoology). There, he developed a computational model of neurons in the pre-Bötzinger complex, an area responsible for regulating intrinsic breathing patterns in humans.

In the classroom, Ravindra serves as a head teaching assistant for CMSC 330: Organization of Programming Languages and as a teaching assistant for CHEM 242: Organic Chemistry II Laboratory. He is also treasurer of UMD’s chapter of the American Society for Microbiology and founding member and webmaster of the Informative Association for Maryland Science Advancement.

In his spare time, Ravindra is president of UMD’s Rubik’s Cube Club and organizes Rubik’s cube competitions. He has ranked as high as 4th in the world for the fastest time solving a Rubik’s cube and 2nd in the world for solving it one-handed, setting five U.S. national records in the process. 

After his time in Cambridge, Ravindra plans to pursue a Ph.D. in chemistry with a focus on computational and physical chemistry.

“I am committed to expanding the role of computation in understanding chemical systems, especially in using molecular simulations,” Ravindra said. “I’m particularly interested in developing and applying approaches aimed at overcoming the limited time scales of computationally intensive molecular simulations.”

 

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