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Peer Pressure Starts in Childhood, Not with Teens

June 5, 2013

Melanie Killen, 301-405-3176; Neil Tickner, 301-405-7476

University of Maryland developmental psychologist Melanie Killen interviews elementary school children for a study on peer group influence. COLLEGE PARK, Md. – Peer group influences affect children much earlier than researchers have suspected, finds a new University of Maryland-led study. The researchers say it provides a wake-up call to parents and educators to look out for undue group influences, cliquishness and biases that might set in early, the researchers say.

The study appears in the May/June 2013 issue of Child Development, and is available online. The researchers say their work represents a new line of research – what they call "group dynamics of childhood." No prior research has investigated what children think about challenging groups that act in ways that are unfair or nontraditional, they note.

The findings refute an older view that conflicts between group loyalty and fairness are not yet part of elementary-school aged children's everyday interactions.

"This is not just an adolescent issue," says University of Maryland developmental psychologist Melanie Killen, the study's lead researcher. "Peer group pressure begins in elementary schools, as early as age nine. It's what kids actually encounter there on any given day."

Even at this earlier age, children show moral independence and will stand up to the group, Killen adds. But it is also a setting where the seeds of group prejudices can develop, if not checked.

"Parents and teachers often miss children's nascent understanding of group dynamics, as well as kids' willingness to buck to the pressure," Killen explains. Children begin to figure out the costs and consequences of resisting peer group pressure early. By adolescence, they find it only gets more complicated."

The emergence of peer groups in elementary school aids children's development by providing positive friendships, relationships, and social support, Killen adds.  The downsides include the undue influence of a group when it imposes unfair standards, especially on outsiders, or members of "outgroups," which is what is often created when peers form an "ingroup."

"Children may need help from adults when they face conflicts between loyalty to the group and fairness to outsiders," Killen says. "They may be struggling to 'do the right thing' and still stay on good terms with friends in the group, but not know how. If a child shows discomfort and anxiety about spending time with friends, this may signal conflicts in their peer group relationships."

The researchers conducted extended interviews and surveys with representative groups of fourth- and eighth-graders from a Mid-Atlantic suburban area. All were from middle income families and reflected U.S. ethnic backgrounds. They probed attitudes on a moral issue – dividing up resources equally for those in and out of the group, and on a question of tradition (group t-shirts).

"We know that children have a sense of fairness very early on in life but soon enough they belong to groups that sometimes want to do something unfair. What do they advocate for, the fairness principle or group loyalty?" the study asks.

Among the findings:

  • When children are members of groups that want to be selfish, they think it is wrong, going so far as to explain why it's wrong. They even think that one should stand up to groups when they want to be unfair – though the cost of social exclusion is still a concern.
  • Children support members of their own groups that will tell the group to divide up resources equally, not unequally, and they strongly advocate for equal allocation of resources. 
  • Children are more positive about a peer who advocated for equality than a peer who advocated for doing something that reflected group identity such as the conventional act of wearing the club shirt.
  • Children understand that their view of what the ingroup member "should do" would be different from what the group would want. While individually favorable towards someone who challenges the group, they expected that the group would not like it.

"Overall, these findings show that with age, children can apply their understanding of fairness to social groups, and recognize what makes group dynamics complex," the study says.  "They know that groups might not like it, but there may be times when standing up to the group is the right thing to do."  

In earlier studies, Killen and her team demonstrated the development of moral reasoning in young children, finding that they care about fairness, will help others solve conflicts even when they don't benefit directly, and spontaneously cooperate without rewards.

The full study is available online here: http://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1111/cdev.12011/full

UMD to Provide Education, Training to Md. Officials

June 4, 2013

Jennifer Talhelm 301-405-4390

(From left) UMD School of Public Policy Dean Don Kettl; UMD President Wallace Loh; Maryland Municipal League Executive Director Scott Hancock; Maryland Association of Counties Executive Director Michael Sanderson at the Maryland State Capitol.COLLEGE PARK, Md. – The University of Maryland School of Public Policy is pleased to announce the launch of an expanded partnership with the Maryland Municipal League and the Maryland Association of Counties, in which the School will assume administration of the Academy for Excellence in Local Governance and expand education and training opportunities for local government leaders statewide.

The Academy, formerly part of the UMD Institute for Governmental Service and Research, provides voluntary instruction in ethics, open-meetings laws, budgeting, and other programs to help city and county elected officials govern effectively.  Participants earn a certificate of completion. 

Under the new agreement, the School of Public Policy will work with MML and MACo – professional associations that represent local elected officials across the state – to expand the offerings of the Academy, broaden the subjects offered, and open the program to more participants.

"This is a very powerful collaboration in service to the citizens of Maryland that can strengthen government officials' readiness for office," said UMD president Wallace Loh. "Combining university and professional expertise this way offers a model that could be applied nationwide to assist our elected and appointed public officials.  I am proud of UMD's role in this important program."

School of Public Policy dean Don Kettl said, "This partnership represents the essence of our core mission – providing the knowledge and leadership skills that inspire people to become great public servants.  Moving the Academy to the School of Public Policy gives participants access to some of the nation's top experts in fields such as budgeting and management, providing critical training in issues that are central to local governance."
MML executive director Scott Hancock added, "Maryland's municipal officials recognize the potential for a national model academy by partnering with the School of Public Policy, and we look forward, with great anticipation, to both a wider array and higher quality of educational opportunities for Maryland's local government leaders."   

Said MACo Executive Director Michael Sanderson, "Maryland's county elected officials are eager for more educational opportunities.  The School of Public Policy is well situated to help the Academy provide our county elected officials with an educational experience they can rely on when faced with everyday governing challenges.  We are thrilled with this partnership."

The agreement establishes that the School of Public Policy will be the Academy's program administrator, responsible for program design and instruction as recommended by a newly created Academy Council.  The Council will provide insight and feedback to the School related to strategic direction, core competencies and topics of study.  In addition, a working group made up of the School, MML and MACo staff will assist with course scheduling and other needs.

The Academy will offer a series of courses for its fellows including consensus- and team-building, the basics of risk management, municipal budgeting, county financial management, and Maryland's Open Meetings and Public Information acts.  It also will offer a new set "graduate courses" in areas such as advanced local and state finance, and effective and transparent governance, with additional courses to be designed.  The School of Public Policy expects the Academy will make new use of the campus's state-of-the-art distance-learning capabilities while continuing to offer live classroom sessions.

"We anticipate that our shared interest in promoting high ethical standards in public service and providing the foundation needed for informed policy making will invariably take this program to new heights of success and recognition," reads the letter of agreement between the School, MML and MACo.  "We firmly believe that the educational resources and expertise provided by the University of Maryland's School of Public Policy will greatly enhance the credibility of this program as well as the quality of the training provided through the Academy."


Photo (from left): UMD School of Public Policy Dean Don Kettl; UMD President Wallace Loh; Maryland Municipal League Executive Director Scott Hancock; Maryland Association of Counties Executive Director Michael Sanderson at the Maryland State Capitol.

UMD, Booz Allen Partner on Science, Education

June 4, 2013

Eric Chapman, UMD, 301-405-7136
Carrie Lake, Booz Allen Hamilton, 703-377-7785

The University of Maryland today announced that Booz Allen Hamilton is the newest member of the university's Corporate Partners in Computing Program.COLLEGE PARK, Md. - The University of Maryland today announced that Booz Allen Hamilton—a leading provider of management consulting, technology and engineering services to the U.S. government in defense, intelligence and civil markets—is the newest member of the university's Corporate Partners in Computing Program.

The program, hosted by the Department of Computer Science and the University of Maryland Institute for Advanced Computer Studies (UMIACS), fosters research, innovation and networking between private sector companies that will benefit from key focal points in computing at UMD.

Companies in the program—including Appian, Carr Astronautics, CyberData Technologies, Dante Consulting, Google, OPIS, Palantir Technologies, Susquehanna International Group, TATA Consultancy Services and Yahoo—gain access to a highly qualified pool of students for potential internships and full-time employment.

They are also able to explore collaborative research ventures with UMD faculty.

“We are thrilled to have Booz Allen Hamilton join as a partner in computing,” says Samir Khuller, chair of computer science at Maryland. “They are a major player in cybersecurity, IT, data science and consulting and will strengthen our connections to science and technology companies in the Washington, D.C. region.”

Khuller notes that the partnership also allows faculty in computer science and UMIACS to gain insight into industry trends and get corporate feedback on Maryland's nationally ranked computer science curriculum.

In addition to becoming a corporate partner, Booz Allen Hamilton has established a $5,000 scholarship to be awarded to a meritorious UMD computer science student. The company will also be involved in an upcoming undergraduate course on large distributed systems that will support students in the emerging and critical field of data science.

“Booz Allen is deeply committed to cultivating the next generation of STEM leaders, such as computer and data scientists, and is thrilled to partner with the University of Maryland to this end,” says Josh Sullivan, vice president, Booz Allen Hamilton.

With cloud technology and advanced analytics, Sullivan says, scientists today are able to better understand and solve complex problems. But, he adds, it's only with the right data science team that 'big analytics' become possible in today's data-driven world.

“It takes the right blend of computer scientists, mathematicians and statisticians and domain experts can exploit big data to find the game-changing insights buried within data,” he says. “And this new partnership with Maryland will deliver these experts.”

START Provides Key Data for Annual Terrorism Report

May 31, 2013

COLLEGE PARK, Md. – The University of Maryland's National Consortium for the Study of Terrorism and Responses to Terrorism (START) played a key role in this year's “Country Reports on Terrorism,” issued by the U.S. Department of State.  Released this week, the congressionally mandated report included an Annex of Statistical Information prepared by START.

UMD's National Consortium for the Study of Terrorism and Responses to Terrorism played a key role in this year's “Country Reports on Terrorism,” issued by the U.S. Department of State.The Annex of Statistical Information is a guide to worldwide terrorist activity as reported by unclassified sources, such as the news media. In the statistical annex, START also describes the 2012 patterns of worldwide terrorist activity with respect to changes during the year, geographic concentration, casualties, perpetrator organizations, tactics, weapons, and targets.

The 2012 report marks the first year the statistical annex was prepared by START. In preparation for compiling the statistical annex, START’s Global Terrorism Database (GTD) team developed new tools to improve the efficiency and thoroughness of its data collection process and evolve its data collection methodology to improve the reliability, efficiency and thoroughness of the process.

Some highlights from the report include:

  • The statistical annex documents a total of 6,771 terrorist attacks that occurred worldwide and resulted in more than 11,000 deaths and more than 21,600 injuries.
  • More than 1,280 people were kidnapped or taken hostage.
  • On average, there were 1.64 fatalities and 3.20 injuries per attack, including perpetrator casualties.
  • More than half of all attacks (55%), fatalities (62%), and injuries (65%) occurred in just three countries: Pakistan, Iraq, and Afghanistan.
  • The highest number of fatalities occurred in Afghanistan (2,632); however the country with the most injuries due to terrorist attacks was Iraq (6,641).

The Country Reports on Terrorism and statistical annex are available through the State Department at http://www.state.gov/j/ct/rls/crt/2012/210017.htm.

UMD's C.D. Mote Jr. Elected NAE President

May 29, 2013

Lee Tune 301-405-4679

C.D. "Dan" Mote Jr., past president and Regents Professor of the University of Maryland, has been elected as the next president of the National Academy of Engineering (NAE).COLLEGE PARK, Md. - C.D. "Dan" Mote Jr., past president and Regents Professor of the University of Maryland, has been elected as the next president of the National Academy of Engineering (NAE). His six year term will start July 1, 2013. Mote succeeds Charles M. Vest.

"It is inspiring to be selected from among the nation's most distinguished engineers to lead the National Academy of Engineering," said Mote. "It is an opportunity I never expected, but which I am looking forward to greatly. The National Academy has a vital national leadership responsibility because engineering is a key to our national competitiveness, security and quality of life."

The National Academy of Engineering is part of the National Academies, which also include the National Academy of Sciences, Institute of Medicine, and National Research Council. These independent, nonprofit institutions advise the government and the public on issues related to science, engineering, and medicine. NAE members are the nation's premier engineers, elected by their peers for their distinguished achievements. Established in 1964, NAE operates under the congressional charter granted to the National Academy of Sciences in 1863. The NAE president is a full-time employee of the organization at its headquarters in Washington, D.C., and also serves as vice chair of the National Research Council, the principal research arm of the National Academies.

A National Leader in Education and Research
A leader who has long advocated for education and increased support of basic research, Mote served on a National Academies' committee in 2005 that produced the highly influential report, Rising Above the Gathering Storm. It proposed a series of steps to increase research funding, invest in K-12 science and math education and enhance opportunities for entrepreneurship.  As chair and co-chair respectively, Mote also led National Academies' science and technology research and workforce reports by the committee on Global Science and Technology Strategies and Their Effect on the US National Security and the committee on Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics Workforce Needs for the US Department of Defense. He has testified before Congress and been featured in the news on issues ranging from education funding models to deemed export controls.

Mote served as University of Maryland president and Glenn L. Martin Institute Professor of Engineering in UMD's A. James Clark School of Engineering from 1998 to 2010. Under his leadership, the university's research funding increased by more than 150 percent and the university greatly expanded partnerships with corporate and federal laboratories. Mote also negotiated establishment of the University of Maryland-China Research Park, connecting Maryland and Chinese companies for joint ventures. Stressing the importance of closing the achievement gap, Mote helped UMD achieve the fourth highest graduation rate for underrepresented minorities in 2007 among public research universities.

Internationally recognized for his research on the dynamics of gyroscopic systems, including high-speed translating and rotating systems, and the biomechanics of snow skiing, Mote has authored or co-authored more than 300 publications, holds patents in the United States, Norway, Finland and Sweden, and has mentored 58 Ph.D. students.

Mote was elected to the NAE in 1988 "for analysis of the mechanics of complex dynamic systems, providing results of great practical importance in vibrations and biomechanics," and is the current NAE treasurer and a member of the National Research Council's Governing Board Executive Committee. In addition, he co-chairs the Government-University-Industry Research Roundtable and Committee on Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics Workforce Needs for the U.S. Department of Defense and the U.S. Defense Industrial Base. His past Research Council service includes membership on the Committee on Science, Engineering, and Public Policy and chairmanship of the Committee on Global Science and Technology Strategies and Their Effect on U.S. National Security.

His many professional honors include receiving in 2005 the NAE Founders Award and in 2011 the highest honor in his field - the American Society of Mechanical Engineers Medal.

Mote received his B.S., M.S., and Ph.D. in mechanical engineering from the University of California, Berkeley, where he served on the faculty for 31 years and held positions as chair of the department of mechanical engineering, president of the UC Berkeley Foundation, and vice chancellor. He has received three honorary doctorates and the Berkeley Citation, an award from the university similar to an honorary doctorate.

Terrapin 1 Teaches Rhino Poachers to Fear the Turtle

May 28, 2013

Heather Dewar 301-405-9267

Photo credit: Tom SnitchCOLLEGE PARK, Md. - Guided by computer modeling developed by a University of Maryland visiting professor, the first unmanned aerial vehicle flight of its kind has successfully protected an adult rhinoceros and its calf in a South African rhino poaching hot spot.

In response to a deadly epidemic of rhino killings, which are being slaughtered for the ivory in the horns, Tom Snitch, Ph.D., of the University of Maryland Institute for Advanced Computer Studies (UMIACS) has organized an all-volunteer expedition to conduct experimental anti-poaching surveillance near South Africa's Krueger National Park. The team is currently testing portable unmanned aerial vehicles (UAV), or drones, equipped with infrared cameras and guided by a computer program that predicts the movements of rhinos and poachers.

This combined technology is a new weapon in the war on wildlife poachers. UMIACS faculty members have used the same programming techniques to detect explosives caches used by insurgents in Iraq, and are working on other non-military applications of UAV flights, including wilderness rescue missions and surveillance of fast-moving crop diseases.

University of Maryland visiting scholar Tom Snitch demonstrates a hand launch of the Falcon UAV nicknamed Terrapin 1 (in honor of the University's mascot) at Olifant West, a private game preserve near South Africa's Krueger National Park. An all-volunteer team field-tested the UAV, or drone, combined with a special predictive computer model as a new tool for intercepting rhino poachers The technology performed "flawlessly," team members sad.On May 26, the team conducted the first night flight of a UAV dubbed "Terrapin One" (pictured left held by Snitch) over the Olifant West section of the Balule Game Reserve near Krueger National Park. During the 70-minute anti-poaching mission, the team was able to locate a rhino and its calf in only a few minutes using their analytical model. Flying around the rhinos in a grid pattern looking for potential poachers, the UAV spotted a suspicious car stopping close by and the team was able to alert the authorities immediately.

"The flight paths which we created with our analytical model took us precisely to where the mathematics suggests that a rhino was most likely to be and we were able to easily spot the animals from 200 meters in the air. We were also able to close in on a suspect vehicle and begin a rapid response activity," says Snitch. "We believe this is the first time that a UAV has been flown at night, with an infrared camera, where rhinos were identified from the air and a possible - and it is only a possible - poaching event was successfully deterred."

A reporter for The Telegraph of London was on the scene. Read her account of Terrapin One's maiden flight and the ongoing shooting war that pits rhino poachers against conservationists, private game wardens and the South African government.

Read earlier coverage, based on Dr. Snitch's April 11 on-campus talk about the rhino poaching crisis and his plans for mission that is now underway.


A drone’s eye view of wild rhinos and elephants at night, as seen by an infrared camera aboard the Falcon UAV nicknamed “Terrapin One.” Footage courtesy of Falcon UAV:

New Parenting Program Benefits ADHD Children

May 23, 2013

Alana Carchedi 301-405-0235

COLLEGE PARK, Md. – A new program for treating the emotional health of mothers of children with ADHD has shown significant benefits for the children themselves, finds a new study by University of Maryland researchers. The program combines treatment for a mother's stress/depression with behavioral parenting skills training. The study's findings were recently published in the Journal of Consulting and Clinical Psychology

More than 50 percent of mothers with children who have ADHD have a lifetime history of major depression. When mothers are stressed or depressed, they often have difficulty being positive, patient, and consistent with their challenging children. In turn, less optimal parenting style may have adverse effects on their children, which can lead to conduct problems, depression and even suicide attempts.

UMD associate professor of psychology Andrea Chronis-TuscanoThe research, led by UMD associate professor of psychology Andrea Chronis-Tuscano, uses a new method of intervention for mothers of children with ADHD, which not only teaches mothers to manage their children's behavior but also teaches them to manage their own mood and stress by engaging in enjoyable activities, maintaining a positive attitude, and learning relaxation techniques.

"Psychologists and therapists often only focus on the child with ADHD—they often don't  look at the parents," says Chronis-Tuscano. "By paying attention to the mental health needs of mothers, we have found that we can effectively improve outcomes for the child with ADHD."

The parenting interventions integrated a cognitive-behavioral course in coping with depression with behavioral parent training, which includes topics like praising positive child behaviors, creating house rules, ,maintaining structure and routines, and implementing consistent non-physical consequences for misbehavior. The group sessions were primarily instructive but also incorporated group discussion, modeling, role play and home exercises that involved practicing the parenting skills.

"By teaching moms to take care of themselves, they can be better parents to their children with ADHD," says Chronis-Tuscano.

Finance Prof. Comments on Apple Income Tax Dodge

May 21, 2013

Mike Faulkender 301-405-1064

Mike Faulkender, associate professor of finance in the University of Maryland's Robert H. Smith School of Business.COLLEGE PARK, Md. – The U.S. Senate revelation that Apple has paid nothing in income tax signals it's time to overhaul the U.S. corporate tax code, says Mike Faulkender, associate professor of finance in the University of Maryland's Robert H. Smith School of Business.

"Apple legally shielding its offshore earnings from significant repatriation tax demonstrates a broken corporate tax code. Instead of attempting to publicly shame Apple, Congress should focus on reforming and simplifying the tax code to encourage multinationals to locate more of their operations in the United States.

"Reversing the 35-to-15-percent corporate-to-personal income tax ratio or some form of compromise can inject growth and investment into the sluggish economy and generate revenue from companies like Apple."

Faulkender, with co-author Mitchell Petersen (Northwestern University), recently earned the Review of Financial Studies' Best Paper Award for "Investment and Capital Constraints: Repatriations Under the American Jobs Creation Act" – a study covering corporate repatriation tax activity and corporate tax reform.

Read an op-ed by Faulkender on this topic in The Baltimore Sun here.

Faulkender (301-405-1064; mfaulken@rhsmith.umd.edu) is available to expand on these comments.

The Smith School has an in-house facility for live or taped interviews via fiber-optic line for television or multimedia content.

Cal Ripken Inspires Grads to Keep Positive Attitude

May 20, 2013

Beth Cavanaugh 301-405-4625

COLLEGE PARK, Md. -- Cal Ripken, Jr., one of the greatest baseball players of all time and a Maryland legend, delivered the University of Maryland commencement address on May 19, 2013. Ripken, who played professional baseball for 21 years and founded Ripken Baseball, Inc. and the Cal Ripken, Sr. Foundation, addressed a record-setting audience of graduates and family and friends at the spring ceremony.

UMD Set to Fill Incoming Class

May 17, 2013

Beth Cavanaugh 301-405-4625

University of Maryland, College ParkCOLLEGE PARK, Md. - As the University of Maryland prepares to hand out more than 7,700 degrees on Sunday, May 19, the Office of Undergraduate Admissions has been busy enrolling new students for the 2013-14 academic year.

According to Barbara Gill, Assistant Vice President for Admissions and Enrollment Planning, "We're excited that we're on track to meet our enrollment goals and are looking forward to welcoming the most talented freshman class in the history of the University." Admissions applications have steadily risen during the last decade – up to more than 33,000 freshman and transfer applications last year.  

Ranked in U.S. News & World Report’s Top 20 public universities, the University of Maryland is the state’s flagship university and one of the nation's preeminent public research universities. A global leader in research, entrepreneurship, and innovation, Maryland has been consistently recognized by Kiplinger’s for providing an outstanding education, at an affordable price.

The university has produced six Nobel laureates, six Pulitzer Prize winners, more than 49 members of the national academies, and scores of Fulbright scholars. The university is recognized for its diversity, with underrepresented students comprising one-third of the student population.


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