Facebook Icon Youtube Icon Twitter Icon Flickr Icon Vimeo Icon RSS Icon Itunes Icon Pinterest Icon

Evolution, Civil War History Entwine in Fossil Find

December 2, 2013
Contacts: 

Heather Dewar 301-405-9267

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

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

 

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

UMD Senior Named Marshall Scholar

December 2, 2013
Contacts: 

Beth Cavanaugh 301-405-4625
Francis DuVinage 301-314-9458 (National Scholarships Office)

Senior Erin Hylton has been named a 2014 Marshall ScholarCOLLEGE PARK, MD - University of Maryland Senior Erin Hylton, a civil engineering major in the A. James Clark School of Engineering, has been named a 2014 Marshall Scholar. She is one of approximately 40 Marshall Scholars selected from a pool of more than 900 nominees nationwide to receive a scholarship, which fully supports two years of graduate study in the United Kingdom. 

“Erin's achievement places her in the front ranks of aspiring global leaders and reminds us all of the outstanding caliber of Maryland’s students,” said History Professor Richard Bell, UMD’s faculty advisor for U.K. postgraduate fellowships. 

Founded by a 1953 Act of the United Kingdom Parliament, and named in honor of U.S. Secretary of State George C. Marshall, the Marshall Scholarships commemorate the humane ideals of the Marshall Plan, which contributed vitally to the reconstruction of Europe following World War II, and they express the continuing gratitude of the British people to their American counterparts. Prominent Marshall Scholars include U.S. Supreme Court Justice Stephen Breyer and Pulitzer Prize winning author and journalist Thomas Friedman.

Hylton, who is currently studying in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, has focused her academic and future professional pursuits on water resource engineering and aims to devote her career to improving water resource access and quality in the developing world. With the support of the Marshall Scholarship program, Erin will first pursue a master’s degree in hydrology and sustainable development at Imperial College London, followed by a master’s degree in water science, policy and management at the University of Oxford. 

According to Hylton, “Water is our most basic and precious natural resource, and its allocation must be balanced across a variety of conflicting uses, from irrigation and energy to sanitation and consumption. As a Marshall Scholar, my studies will prepare me to design and execute context-sensitive water management practices that will help propel us toward a sustainable hydrologic future."

At UMD, Hylton has served as president of Engineers Without Borders and co-founder and president of Maryland Sustainability Engineering. A member of the University Honors Program and a Federal Semester participant, Erin has held internships with the Environmental Protection Agency and with ICLEI-Local Governments for Sustainability USA. She has conducted research on the robustness of mathematical models used to estimate the magnitude of extreme flooding events. After her junior year, Hylton carried out an independent summer research project in Sao Paulo, Brazil, analyzing the social and ecological impacts of the Belo Monte dam project. During her senior year she studied abroad in Denmark, where she took graduate-level coursework in civil engineering. 

Hylton has received numerous awards and citations for academic excellence and civic contributions from the Clark School and the Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering. She is a previous winner of two national scholarships -- a 2012 Udall Scholarship recognizing her environmental leadership and a 2013 Boren Scholarship to pursue advanced Portuguese language studies in Brazil. 

Hylton is UMD's second Marshall Scholar and fourth recipient of a major United Kingdom scholarship in the last four years. Krzysztof Franaszek, a biology major, received a 2013 Gates Cambridge Scholarship. In 2011 Dylan Rebois, a mechanical engineering major, won a Marshall Scholarship and Ethan Schaler, also a mechanical engineer, won a Churchill Scholarship. Students interested in learning about the Marshall Scholarships and other national scholarship opportunities should contact the National Scholarships Office.

About the Marshall Scholarship
Marshall Scholarships finance young Americans of high ability to study for graduate degrees in the United Kingdom. Up to forty Scholars are selected each year to study at graduate level at an UK institution in any field of study. As future leaders, with a lasting understanding of British society, Marshall Scholars strengthen the enduring relationship between the British and American peoples, their governments and their institutions. Their direct engagement with Britain through its best academic programs contributes to their ultimate personal success. A two-year award, the Marshall Scholarship covers all university fees, cost of living expenses and includes an annual book grant, thesis grant, research and daily travel grants, and fares to and from the United States.

UMD Scientist Writes First Grammar for Language Used by Millions

December 2, 2013
Contacts: 

Keva Marable 301-226-8873

Anne Boyle David, associate research scientist at the University of Maryland Center for Advanced Study of Language (CASL), has written the first volume in a multi-authored series of grammars, or sets of rules for using a language, describing under-documented and under-resourced world languages. Descriptive Grammar of Pashto and its Dialects is a comprehensive description of a language used by millions in Afghanistan and Pakistan. COLLEGE PARK, Md. – Anne Boyle David, associate research scientist at the University of Maryland Center for Advanced Study of Language (CASL), has written the first volume in a multi-authored series of grammars, or rules for the structure of a language, describing under-documented and under-resourced world languages. Descriptive Grammar of Pashto and its Dialects is a comprehensive description of a language used by millions in Afghanistan and Pakistan.

"The Pashto language is a fascinating case of dialect divergence. Isolating geography has combined with continual movement of people due to political and social upheaval to create a complex dialectal situation," David said. "A few Pashto grammars have been published before, but for the most part they confined themselves to one dialect, and there were some dialects with little or no published information on them."

The CASL Pashto grammar will provide critical information for linguists and language learners, such as detailed morphological descriptions, dialectal information, and annotated examples showing the language in use, all in both native and Roman scripts. "The new grammar serves both linguists and learners by putting descriptions of dialectal varieties side-by-side and presenting information on lesser-known dialects, including real-world examples from native speakers."

In February 2012, five CASL scientists signed a contract with publisher De Gruyter Mouton to produce a trailblazing series of grammars to include Bangla, Dhivehi (Maldivian), and Punjabi. De Gruyter Mouton is an international academic press based in Berlin and one of the leading publishers in the field of linguistics.

To learn more about the CASL grammar series, visit ter.ps/grammars.

The University of Maryland Center for Advanced Study of Language conducts innovative, academically rigorous research in language and cognition that supports national security. CASL research is interdisciplinary and collaborative, bringing together people from the government, academia, and the private sector. CASL research is both strategic and tactical, so that it not only advances areas of knowledge, but also directly serves the critical needs of the nation. For more information, visit www.casl.umd.edu.

 

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

Idea Central (BizEd)

Elana Fine, director of the Robert H. Smith School of Business’ Dingman Center for Entrepreneurship, is quoted in a BizEd article about how institutions are doing more than creating entrepreneurs – they are creating entrepreneurial thinkers as well. 

UMD Celebrates Year of Innovation and Entrepreneurship

November 22, 2013
Contacts: 

Alana Carchedi 301-405-0235

COLLEGE PARK, Md. – In the spirit of National Entrepreneurs' Day and Global Entrepreneurship Week, the University of Maryland is celebrating its great successes in innovation and entrepreneurship over the past year.

UMD LogoFrom incredible student feats and fearless competitors, to game-changing technology advancements and a unique set of collaborative partnerships, UMD has a lot to boast about its ongoing list of accomplishments in innovation and entrepreneurship.

"University of Maryland President Wallace Loh has elevated innovation and entrepreneurship to the highest levels campus-wide," says Dean Chang, UMD's associate vice president for innovation and entrepreneurship. "What better way to acknowledge Global Entrepreneurship Week and National Entrepreneurs' Day than to recap some of UMD's finest student, faculty, and institutional highlights in innovation and entrepreneurship from this past year."

Here is a sampling of what the university has accomplished in innovation and entrepreneurship in only one year:

  • UMD doctoral student Shweta Gaonkar was one of 15 exceptional students from across the country honored by the Ewing Marion Kauffman Foundation’s Emerging Scholars Program for her significant contributions to research in entrepreneurship.
  • The Gamera human-powered helicopter team, comprised of students from the A. James Clark School of Engineering, officially had its Aug. 28, 2012 flight certified as a world record of 65.1 seconds by The Fédération Aéronautique Internationale (FAI), also known as The World Air Sports Federation.
  • Valerie Sherry, a UMD Master of Architecture candidate, was one of only 21 students from universities nationwide, and the first-ever UMD student, to be honored with the University Innovation Fellowship by the National Center for Engineering Pathways to Innovation (Epicenter).
  • UMD was recognized as the top public school in the U.S. and ranked second overall for tech entrepreneurship, according to the newly released 2013 StartEngine College Index, as reported in the Silicon Valley publication PandoDaily. The Princeton Review ranked UMD No. 15 for its undergraduate entrepreneurship program and No. 16 for its graduate entrepreneurship program, up eight spots from the 2013 rankings.
  • A group of UMD students won the inaugural U.S. Major League Hacking (MLH) Championship, beating out Rutgers, long-time hackathon heavyweights MIT, Carnegie Mellon, Columbia, Michigan and Stanford, and more than 100 other schools.
  • UMD launched the Academy for Innovation and Entrepreneurship, a signature initiative to infuse the university with a culture of innovation and entrepreneurship across all colleges and curriculum.
  • Two of UMD's signature undergraduate education programs, the Honors College and College Park Scholars, piloted innovation modules in their courses to increase the number of UMD students enrolled in innovation and entrepreneurship courses by 60 percent this fall.
  • The UMD-led DC Innovation Corps (I-Corps), a National Science Foundation-backed program aimed at translating the region's vibrant research community into successful startups and licensed technologies, kicked off its first two regional cohorts of teams of inventors and entrepreneurs in Washington, D.C., and at the NIH campus in Bethesda, Md.
  • UMD's College of Arts and Humanities announced an agreement with former Ravens cornerback and NFL Players Association President Domonique Foxworth '04, and his wife, Ashley Manning Foxworth, to launch Foxworth Creative Enterprise Grants. Their gift of $150,000 will fund a three-year pilot program intended to encourage the inclusion of the arts and humanities in developing solutions to some of society's most pressing issues.
  • UMD alum and Under Armour founder Kevin Plank worked with the Robert H. Smith School of Business and Dingman Center for Entrepreneurship to make the annual Cupid's Cup a national competition.

To view a full list of UMD's accomplishments in innovation and entrepreneurship over the past year from the Dingman Center for Entrepreneurship, MTECH, the Center for Social Value Creation, the Center for Philanthropy and Nonprofit Leadership, and other campus partners, click here. To learn more about innovation at the University of Maryland, visit www.innovation.umd.edu.

 

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

The Era of Neutrino Astronomy Has Begun

November 21, 2013
Contacts: 

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

Update: The IceCube neutrino telescope has been named the “2013 Breakthrough of the Year" by the British magazine Physics World. Read more here.

COLLEGE PARK, Md. – Astrophysicists using a telescope embedded in Antarctic ice have succeeded in a quest to detect and record the mysterious phenomena known as cosmic neutrinos – nearly massless particles that stream to Earth at the speed of light from outside our solar system, striking the surface in a burst of energy that can be as powerful as a baseball pitcher's fastball. Next, they hope to build on the early success of the IceCube Neutrino Observatory to detect the source of these high-energy particles, said Physics Professor Gregory Sullivan, who led the University of Maryland's 12-person team of contributors to the IceCube Collaboration.

Computers at the IceCube laboratory collect raw data in near-real time from detectors buried deep in the Antarctic ice. Events selected for physics studies are sent north via satellite for use by any member of the IceCube Collaboration. The UMD Maryland IceCube team designed the data collection system. Credit: Felipe Pedreros, IceCube/NSF"The era of neutrino astronomy has begun," Sullivan said as the IceCube Collaboration announced the observation of 28 very high-energy particle events that constitute the first solid evidence for astrophysical neutrinos from cosmic sources. 

By studying the neutrinos that IceCube detects, scientists can learn about the nature of astrophysical phenomena occurring millions, or even billions of light years from Earth, Sullivan said. "The sources of neutrinos, and the question of what could accelerate these particles, has been a mystery for more than 100 years. Now we have an instrument that can detect astrophysical neutrinos. It's working beautifully, and we expect it to run for another 20 years."   

Hit distribution (red, early; green, late) of a neutrino interaction with the Antarctic IceCube neutrino detector on 14 July 2011. Light from this transfer of 250 teraelectron volts of energy fills a sphere 600 meters across. This event, among the highest-energy neutrino interactions ever observed, forms part of the first evidence for a high-energy neutrino flux of astrophysical origin. Credit: IceCube Collaboration The collaboration's report on the first cosmic neutrino records from the IceCube Neutrino Observatory, collected from instruments embedded in one cubic kilometer of ice at the South Pole, was published Nov. 22 in the journal Science.

"This is the first indication of very high-energy neutrinos coming from outside our solar system," said University of Wisconsin-Madison Physics Professor Francis Halzen, principal investigator of IceCube. "It is gratifying to finally see what we have been looking for. This is the dawn of a new age of astronomy."

"Neutrinos are one of the basic building blocks of our universe," said UMD Physics Associate Professor Kara Hoffman, an IceCube team member. Billions of them pass through our bodies unnoticed every second.  These extremely high-energy particles maintain their speed and direction unaffected by magnetic fields. The vast majority of neutrinos originate either in the sun or in Earth's own atmosphere. Far more rare are astrophysical neutrinos, which come from the outer reaches of our galaxy or beyond.

The origin and cause of astrophysical neutrinos are unknown, though gamma ray bursts, active galactic nuclei and black holes are potential sources. Better understanding of these neutrinos is critically important in particle physics, astrophysics and astronomy, and scientists have worked for more than 50 years to design and build a high-energy neutrino detector of this type.

Members of the IceCube Collaboration pull cables to connect light sensors deployed in subsurface ice to the IceCube Lab’s servers in December 2010. Credit: Freija Descamps, IceCube/NSFIceCube was designed to accomplish two major scientific goals: measure the flux, or rate, of high-energy neutrinos and try to identify some of their sources. The neutrino observatory was built and is operated by an international collaboration of more than 250 physicists and engineers. UMD physicists have been key collaborators on IceCube since 2002, when its unique design was devised and construction began.

IceCube is made up of 5,160 digital optical modules suspended along 86 strings embedded in ice beneath the South Pole. The National Science Foundation-supported observatory detects neutrinos through the tiny flashes of blue light, called Cherenkov light, produced when neutrinos interact in the ice. Computers at the IceCube laboratory collect near-real-time data from the optical sensors and send information about interesting events north via satellite. The UMD team designed the data collection system and much of IceCube's analytic software. Construction took nearly a decade, and the completed detector began gathering data in May 2011.

"IceCube is a wonderful and unique astrophysical telescope – it is deployed deep in the Antarctic ice but looks over the entire Universe, detecting neutrinos coming through the Earth from the northern skies, as well as from around the southern skies," said Vladimir Papitashvili of the National Science Foundation (NSF) Division of Polar Programs.

In April 2012 IceCube detected two high-energy events above 1 petaelectronvolt (PeV), nicknamed Bert and Ernie, the first astrophysical neutrinos definitively recorded by a terrestrial detector. After Bert and Ernie were discovered, the IceCube team searched their records from May 2010 to May 2012 of events that fell slightly below the energy level of their original search. They discovered 26 more high-energy events, all at levels of 30 teraelectronvolts (TeV) or higher, indicative of astrophysical neutrinos. Preliminary results of this analysis were presented May 15 at the IceCube Particle Astrophysics Symposium at UW–Madison. The analysis presented in Science reveals a highly statistically significant signal (more than 4 sigma), providing solid evidence that IceCube has successfully detected high-energy extraterrestrial neutrinos, said UMD's Sullivan.

Since astrophysical neutrinos move in straight lines unimpeded by outside forces, they can act as pointers to the place in the galaxy where they originated. The 28 events recorded so far are too few to point to any one location, Sullivan said. Over the coming years, the IceCube team will watch, "like waiting for a long exposure photograph," as more measurements fill in a picture that may reveal the point of origin of these intriguing phenomena.

New detection systems for astrophysical neutrinos are also in the works. Hoffman is leading the development of the Askaryan Radio Array, a neutrino telescope that uses radio frequency, which transmits best through very cold ice, to detect the particles. Plans are underway for 37 subsurface clusters of radio antennae

The IceCube Neutrino Observatory was built under a NSF Major Research Equipment and Facilities Construction grant, with assistance from partner funding agencies around the world. The NSF's Division of Polar Programs and Physics Division continue to support the project with a Maintenance and Operations grant, along with international support from participating institutes and their funding agencies.

UMD contributors to the IceCube collaboration include Sullivan and Hoffman; UMD faculty and staff members Jordan Goodman, Erik Blaufuss, John Felde, Henrike Wissing, Alex Olivas, Donald La Dieu, and Torsten Schmidt; and graduate students Elim Cheung, Robert Hellauer, Ryan Maunu, and Michael Richman.

Photo 1: Computers at the IceCube laboratory collect raw data in near-real time from detectors buried deep in the Antarctic ice. Events selected for physics studies are sent north via satellite for use by any member of the IceCube Collaboration. The UMD Maryland IceCube team designed the data collection system. Credit: Felipe Pedreros, IceCube/NSF
 
Photo 2: Members of the IceCube Collaboration pull cables to connect light sensors deployed in subsurface ice to the IceCube Lab’s servers in December 2010. Credit: Freija Descamps, IceCube/NSF

 

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

UMD Professor Awarded "Order Of Cultural Merit"

November 20, 2013
Contacts: 

Nicky Everette 301-405-6714

Robert Ramsey, professor and chair of the Department of East Asian Languages and Cultures in the University of Maryland's College of Arts and Humanities, has been awarded "The Precious Crown Medal of the Order of Cultural Merit" from Korean Prime Minister Jung Hong-won, who presented on behalf of President Park Geun-hye.COLLEGE PARK, Md. – Robert Ramsey, professor and chair of the Department of East Asian Languages and Cultures in the University of Maryland's College of Arts and Humanities, has been awarded "The Precious Crown Medal of the Order of Cultural Merit" from Korean Prime Minister Jung Hong-won, who presented on behalf of President Park Geun-hye.

Ramsey, the only westerner honored in the ceremony, was awarded the medal "according to the Constitution of the Republic of Korea for great achievements and contributions to the advancement of Hangul research and promulgation." Hangul is the Korean language alphabet.

In 1998, Ramsey received the Presidential Award and Medal for Contributions to Korean Language also from the Republic of Korea. He has also received teaching awards from the Korean Student Association, the Asian Student Union and the Center for Teaching Excellence at the University of Maryland.

Ramsey, the only westerner honored in the ceremony, was awarded the medal "according to the Constitution of the Republic of Korea for great achievements and contributions to the advancement of Hangul research and promulgation." Hangul is the Korean language alphabet. Ramsey, who has also taught at Columbia University and the University of Pennsylvania, does primary research on the historical development of Japanese and Korean languages, and the historical relationships between the two. He is known for his work on Korean dialects and the reconstruction of prehistoric stages of Korean.

Along with his many achievements, Ramsey is credited for the first book written in English on the subject, entitled "A History of the Korean Language." He has also authored three other books and several dozen articles, written extensively on sociolinguistic topics, and lectured widely on various linguistic topics in Japan, Korea, Europe and the United States.

Ramsey has a doctorate in linguistics from Yale University, and a Master of Art and Master of Philosophy from the same university.

The awards ceremony, held in Seoul, South Korea on Oct. 9 in the Sejong Center for Performing Arts, celebrated the return of Hangul Day to the full status of a national holiday. The Embassy of the Republic of Korea in Washington, D.C., also honored Ramsey on Oct. 25 as part of their own celebration of Hangul Day.

World-Renowned Arts Management Institute Relocates to UMD

November 20, 2013
Contacts: 

Crystal Brown, UMD, 301-405-4621, crystalb@umd.edu
John Dow, the Kennedy Center, 202-416-8448, jrdow@kennedy-center.org

Leading Arts Administrator Michael M. Kaiser to Join UMD as Professor of the Practice

COLLEGE PARK, Md. – The DeVos Institute of Arts Management at the Kennedy Center, a premier organization for training and supporting arts leadership, is moving to the University of Maryland. Michael M. Kaiser, a foremost expert in arts management, together with the current director Brett Egan, will lead the DeVos Institute of Arts Management at the University of Maryland when the change becomes effective September 1, 2014.

UMD LogoFounded by Kaiser in 2001 after he became president of the John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts, the DeVos Institute trains, supports and empowers arts managers and their boards. It has advised thousands of individuals, organizations, governments and foundations throughout the United States and in over 70 countries on six continents.

"Michael Kaiser and the DeVos Institute are the international gold standard in arts management education and consulting. To have them on our campus is an extraordinary boost to excellence and innovation in the arts at the University of Maryland," says its president Wallace Loh.

The DeVos Institute's offices, staff, and leadership team will relocate from the Kennedy Center to the university campus. At UMD, the institute will continue its important role in the arts community while working with the university on strategic initiatives in the arts.

"The Kennedy Center has been a remarkable home to the DeVos Institute and has allowed Brett Egan and me to build a sizeable education and consulting practice," says Kaiser. "I thank David Rubenstein and the Board of Trustees of the Kennedy Center for their unwavering support and Wallace Loh for his gracious invitation to join the University of Maryland. I look forward to increasing the institute's scope and record of service in our new home."

The DeVos Institute offers a variety of programs that provide practical training at all stages of professional development in the field, including fundraising, artistic planning, strategic planning and board development. Signature offerings include fellowships designed to prepare mid-career arts managers for executive positions and a robust board training program.

"We are very fortunate that one of the world's most well-known and well-respected arts administrators is bringing his 30 years of arts management experience and the DeVos Institute to the University of Maryland," says Mary Ann Rankin, UMD's senior vice president and provost.  "This is an extraordinary opportunity to expand arts programming and management training and to raise the profile of the arts at the University of Maryland to the highest levels."

Kaiser's extensive global leadership experience in arts management includes serving successfully as chief executive of the Royal Opera House in London, the American Ballet Theatre, and the Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater before taking his position at the Kennedy Center. Besides founding and leading the institute, Kaiser played a key role in expanding its educational and artistic programming and oversaw major renovations to the Kennedy Center.
 
"Michael established the arts management training program when he arrived at the Kennedy Center in 2001 and he has nurtured it into a world-class institute," says Kennedy Center Chairman David M. Rubenstein. "We wish Michael the greatest of success as he guides his life's work to its full potential at the University of Maryland where the institute can benefit from the resources of a major educational institution. We look forward to future collaborations between the institute and the Center."

"Training and preparing arts managers to effectively lead artists and arts organizations is a powerful way to leverage creative talents for the benefit and enjoyment of all of us," state Betsy and Dick DeVos. "We're glad the institute's mission will continue to thrive at the University of Maryland as Michael and Brett guide the DeVos Institute to become the world's leading institution devoted to training arts managers."

Additional information about the DeVos Institute is available at www.DeVosInstitute.org.

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

Scientists Nearing Forecasting Capability of Wildfires

November 19, 2013
Contacts: 

Beth Cavanaugh 301-405-4625

COLLEGE PARK, Md. - A University of Maryland researcher, Wilfrid Schroeder, in collaboration with scientists at the National Center for Atmospheric Research (NCAR), has developed a new computer modeling technique that offers the promise, for the first time, of producing continually updated daylong predictions of wildfire growth throughout the lifetime of long-lived blazes.

On June 6, 2010, lightning ignited the Medano Fire in Great Sand Dunes National Park in Colorado. By the time this image was taken on June 23, more than 5,000 acres had burned. (©UCAR. Photo by David Hosansky.) The technique combines cutting-edge simulations portraying the interaction of weather and fire behavior with newly available satellite observations of active wildfires. Updated with new observations every 12 hours, the computer model forecasts critical details such as the extent of the blaze and changes in behavior.

The breakthrough is described in a study appearing recently in an online issue of Geophysical Research Letters.

"With this technique, we believe it's possible to continually issue good forecasts throughout a fire's lifetime, even if it burns for weeks or months," said NCAR scientist Janice Coen, the lead author and model developer. "This model, which combines interactive weather prediction and wildfire behavior, could greatly improve forecasting—particularly for large, intense wildfire events where the current prediction tools are weakest."

Firefighters currently use tools that can estimate the speed of the leading edge a fire but are too simple to capture critical effects caused by the interaction of fire and weather.

The researchers successfully tested the new technique by using it retrospectively on the 2012 Little Bear Fire in New Mexico, which burned for almost three weeks and destroyed more buildings than any other wildfire in the state's history.

In order to generate an accurate forecast of a wildfire, scientists need a computer model that can both incorporate current data about the fire and simulate what it will do in the near future.

Over the last decade, Coen has developed a tool, known as the Coupled Atmosphere-Wildland Fire Environment (CAWFE) computer model, that connects how weather drives fires and, in turn, how fires create their own weather. Using CAWFE, she successfully simulated the details of how large fires grew.

But without the most updated data about a fire's current state, CAWFE could not reliably produce a longer-term prediction of an ongoing fire. This is because the accuracy of all fine-scale weather simulations decline significantly after a day or two, affecting the simulation of the blaze. An accurate forecast would also have to include updates on the effects of firefighting and of such processes as spotting, in which embers from a fire are lofted in the fire plume and dropped ahead of a fire, igniting new flames.

Until now, it was not possible to update the model. Satellite instruments offered only coarse observations of fires, providing images in which each pixel represented an area a little more than a half mile across (1 kilometer by 1 kilometer). These images might show several places burning, but could not distinguish the boundaries between burning and non-burning areas, except for the largest wildfires.

To solve the problem, Coen's co-author, Schroeder of UMD's College of Behavioral and Social Sciences, has produced higher-resolution fire detection data from a new satellite instrument, the Visible Infrared Imaging Radiometer Suite (VIIRS), which is jointly operated by NASA and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA). This new tool provides wall-to-wall coverage of the entire globe at intervals of 12 hours or less, with pixels about 1,200 feet across (375 meters). The higher resolution enabled the two researchers to outline the active fire perimeter in much greater detail.

When observing wildfires, satellites provide different levels of detail, depending on which instrument is used. The image at left, produced from data generated by the MODIS instrument aboard NASA's Aqua satellite, uses 1-kilometer pixels (a bit over half a mile across) to approximate a fire burning in Brazil from March 26 to 30, 2013. The image at right, produced with data from the new VIIRS instrument, shows the same fire in far greater detail with 375-meter pixels (a bit over 1,200 feet across). (Image courtesy Wilfrid Schroeder, University of Maryland.)

When observing wildfires, satellites provide different levels of detail, depending on which instrument is used. The image at left, produced from data generated by the MODIS instrument aboard NASA's Aqua satellite, uses 1-kilometer pixels (a bit over half a mile across) to approximate a fire burning in Brazil from March 26 to 30, 2013. The image at right, produced with data from the new VIIRS instrument, shows the same fire in far greater detail with 375-meter pixels (a bit over 1,200 feet across).

Coen and Schroeder then fed the VIIRS fire observations into the CAWFE model. By restarting the model every 12 hours with the latest observations of the fire extent -- a process known as cycling -- they could accurately predict the course of the Little Bear fire in 12- to 24-hour increments during five days of the historic blaze. By continuing this way, it would be possible to simulate even a very long-lived fire's entire lifetime, from ignition until extinction.

"The transformative event has been the arrival of this new satellite data," said Schroeder, a professor of geographical sciences who is also a visiting scientist with NOAA. "The enhanced capability of the VIIRS data favors detection of newly ignited fires before they erupt into major conflagrations. The satellite data has tremendous potential to supplement fire management and decision support systems, sharpening the local, regional, and continental monitoring of wildfires."

The researchers said that forecasts using the new technique could be particularly useful in anticipating sudden blowups and shifts in the direction of the flames, such as what happened when 19 firefighters perished in Arizona last summer.

The research was funded by NASA, the Federal Emergency Management Agency, and the National Science Foundation, which is NCAR's sponsor.

Scientific contacts:
Janice Coen, NCAR Scientist
303-497-8986
janicec@ucar.edu

Wilfrid Schroeder, University of Maryland Professor/NOAA Visiting Scientist
202-341-7763
wilfrid.schroeder@noaa.gov

Top photo: On June 6, 2010, lightning ignited the Medano Fire in Great Sand Dunes National Park in Colorado. By the time this image was taken on June 23, more than 5,000 acres had burned. (©UCAR. Photo by David Hosansky.)


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

UMD, Chinese Academy Collaborate on Theatre Arts

November 18, 2013
Contacts: 

Missy McTamney 301-405-8102

Xiao Sun and Rui Wang provide input and perspective on a UMD student’s video design project. By Dylan Singleton.COLLEGE PARK, Md. — The University of Maryland's School of Theatre, Dance, and Performance Studies (TDPS) and the National Academy of Chinese Theatre Arts (NACTA) have completed a three-week collaboration focused on sharing each culture's unique approach to theatrical production and theatre technology. 

Two junior professors and one graduate student from NACTA spent three weeks at UMD's Clarice Smith Performing Arts Center working side-by-side with TDPS faculty, students and production staff. The visit was part of a five-year NACTA-TDPS partnership that began in 2012 with the bi-lingual co-production of A Midsummer Night's Dream, performed in both College Park, Md. and Beijing, China.

The collaboration allows TDPS faculty and students, and Clarice Smith Center staff to share their culturally fundamental approach to stage and production management with their Beijing colleagues. This approach typically includes a professional stage manager and/or technical director to coordinate production detail and technical functions, freeing the director to focus on the performance and story-telling elements of the production. These technical roles are not part of the creative staff of a NACTA theatre production, nor part of the training at NACTA. NACTA visitors will shadow TDPS faculty and staff, engage with TDPS students and participate in rehearsals and classroom activities.

As part of this artistic exchange, the Chinese visitors will share with TDPS their approach to theatre training, which has evolved from centuries-old customs that place high value on longevity and preservation of the Eastern Chinese Opera art form.  TDPS students will experience the traditional Chinese method of art-making, one that is deeply rooted in principles of discipline and precision from a culture that focuses on the ritual and rigor of their ancient art form. The UMD students will collaborate with the Chinese to consider ways to integrate western-style stage management into those traditions, potentially creating an entirely new form of classical-contemporary Chinese performance.

NACTA Theatre Technology graduate student Lin Lyu collaborates with UMD Lighting Design faculty and students in the school’s state-of-the-art lighting lab. By Jared Shaubert.Both NACTA and TDPS participants will experience how the marriage of technology and the human spirit evoked in performance is shaped by one's culture and traditions.

"Seeing the one's art from the lens of a different culture allows our students a rare perspective into their shared humanity and creative potential," said Leigh Wilson Smiley, director of TDPS.  "That insight makes us all better able to appreciate the transformative energy intrinsic to the performing arts."

The NACTA-TDPS partnership will reconvene in fall 2014 for a theatre technology symposium in Beijing, folding other leading theatre schools into their collaboration. Included in the Beijing Symposium with TDPS will be Yale School of Drama, London's Royal Academy of Dramatic Arts, Binghampton SUNY and Central Academy of Fine Arts in Shanghai, China.

Photo 1: Xiao Sun and Rui Wang provide input and perspective on a UMD student’s video design project. By Dylan Singleton.
Photo 2: NACTA Theatre Technology graduate student Lin Lyu collaborates with UMD Lighting Design faculty and students in the school’s state-of-the-art lighting lab. By Jared Shaubert.


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

Pages

Artist's illustration of the twin spacecraft of the Gravity Recovery and Climate Experiment Follow-On (GRACE-FO) mission.
May 23
First-of-its-kind study combines NASA satellite observations of Earth with data on human activities to map where—and... Read
May 21
Researchers hope findings lead to increased use of and improved fit for hearing aids. Read
May 17
UMD study explores disagreement translating to success in complex projects or crisis situations. Read