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Climate Change Can Undermine Children’s Education and Development in the Tropics

April 20, 2019
Contacts: 

Elizabeth Green 410-919- 9141, Lee Tune 301-405-4679

 

COLLEGE PARK, Md.  Climate change is already resulting in increases in the number and strength of extreme weather and climate events such as heat waves, droughts and flooding. Now a new UMD-led study finds that in tropical regions of the globe exposure to extremes of heat and precipitation during prenatal and early childhood years could make it harder for children to attain secondary school education, even when they live in better-off households.

 

University of Maryland researcher Heather Randell, lead author of the study, and co-author Clark Gray, of the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, found that climatic conditions can affect education attainment in tropical countries in multiple ways. In Southeast Asiaa region that historically has high heat and humidityexposure to higher-than-average temperatures during prenatal and early childhood has a harmful effect on schooling and is associated with fewer years of attending school.  In West and Central Africa, and Southeast Asia, lower rainfall in early life is associated with lower levels of education and higher rainfall with higher levels. And in Central America and the Caribbean, children who experienced higher than typical rainfall had the lowest predicted education.

 

“If climate change undermines educational attainment, this may have a compounding effect on underdevelopment that over time magnifies the direct impacts of climate change,” the authors write in the study, which was published in the April 15, 2019, issue of the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (PNAS).  “As the effects of climate change intensify, children in the tropics will face additional barriers to education.”

 

Randell conducted the synthesis study as a postdoctoral fellow at the University of Maryland's National Socio-Environmental Synthesis Center in Annapolis. She and Gray investigated the links between extreme temperature and precipitation in early life and educational attainment in 29 countries in the global tropics. These results suggest an additional way climate change could undermine gains in socioeconomic development, particularly among the world’s most vulnerable populations; and the researchers say their work has implications for determining vulnerability to climate change and development trajectories.

 

“While these results may not be directly related to schools, they are important factors in early life that affect a kid’s school trajectory,” said Randell. “People rarely think about how kids’ education is directly linked to climate. But this is really important given the extent that climate change is impacting extreme weather events.

 

Although the authors expected that children from better educated households would fare better, they found instead that, even for better-off households in the tropics, climate change could erode development and education gains.

 

Randell explained that as children in the tropics feel the intensifying effects of climate change, they will face additional barriers to education and this is more evidence of the varied social impacts of climate change. Policies to safeguard children in these exposed populations, for example making sure pregnant women and young children can get relief from high heat and humidity, or providing heat or drought tolerant crop varieties, could limit long term impacts of climate change.

 

Randell and Gray’s PNAS paper builds on their earlier study published in 2016 in Global Environmental Change that found how climate variability competes with schooling in Ethiopia and could lower adaptive capacity for generations.

 

University of Maryland Graduation Rate Among Top Ten for Public Institutions in the Nation

April 19, 2019
Contacts: 

Jennifer Burroughs 301-405-4621

  

COLLEGE PARK, Md. – The University of Maryland has been recognized as one of the ten public institutions in America’ with the best six-year graduation rates by The Chronicle of Higher Education. UMD’s graduation rate was ranked No.10 nationally among over 500 public institutions of higher education.

Overall, public colleges graduated nearly 60 percent of full-time students who started in 2011 within six years. The University of Maryland graduated 85.4% of bachelor degree seeking students in 2017.

The Chronicle of Higher Education assessed degree-granting U.S. colleges that are eligible to participate in Title IV federal financial-aid programs and that have at least 50 students in the degree-seeking cohort. Six-year graduation rates reflect the percentage of first-time, full-time, bachelor's-degree-seeking students who enrolled in 2011 and completed bachelor's or equivalent degrees at the same institution by August 31, 2017.

The full list from The Chronicle of Higher Ed for colleges with the best and worst 6-year graduation rates for 2017 can be found here.

 

Two University of Maryland Faculty Elected to American Academy of Arts and Sciences

April 17, 2019
Contacts: 

Jennifer Burroughs 301-405-462 

 

COLLEGE PARK, Md. – Two University of Maryland faculty members have been elected to the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, one of the nation’s oldest and most prestigious honorary societies. Michele J. Gelfand, Distinguished University Professor, psychology,  and Frances E. Lee, distinguished scholar-teacher of government and politics, are among the more than 200 new members in Academy’s 239th class who are being recognized for their accomplishments in academia, business, government, and public affairs.

Their election brings the total number of UMD faculty who are members of national academies to 58. The American Academy of Arts and Sciences was founded in 1780 by John Adams, John Hancock, and others who believed the new republic should honor exceptionally accomplished individuals and engage them in advancing the public good. According to the Academy, its dual mission remains essentially the same with honorees drawn from increasingly diverse fields and whose work focuses on the arts, democracy, education, global affairs, and science.

Gelfand’s work on negotiation, justice, workplace diversity, cultural influences on conflict, and cross-cultural psychology has earned wide recognition. She has been published in top journals including Science, The Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, Academy Management Review, Annual Review of Psychology, and many others. As both a Distinguished University Professor and Distinguished Scholar-Teacher, Gelfand has written and edited several books including Rule Makers, Rule Breakers: How Tight and Loose Cultures Wires Our World, Values, Political Action and Change in the Middle East and the Arab Spring, The Handbook of Negotiation and Culture, and multiple volumes of Advances in Culture Psychology. In addition to being a member of the Board of the National Academy of Sciences, Gelfand has also received numerous honors and prestigious invitations including the Outstanding Contributions to Cultural Psychology Award from the Society for Personal and Social Psychology and the Annaliese Research Award from the Alexander von Humboldt Foundation.

Lee, a thought leader in government, public policy, legislative politics and political institutions, is the award-winning author of Beyond Ideology: Politics, Principles and Partisanship in the U.S. Senate. Lee also is the coauthor of Sizing Up The Senate: The Unequal Consequences of Equal Representation and the comprehensive textbook, Congress and Its Members. Her books have received national recognition, including the American Political Science Association’s Richard F. Fenno Award for the best book on legislative politics, and the D. B. Hardeman Award—presented by the Lyndon Baines Johnson Foundation for the best book on a congressional topic—in both 1999 and 2009. She is co-editor of Legislative Studies Quarterly, a scholarly journal specializing in legislatures and her research has also appeared in numerous journal outlets.

Gelfand and Lee join other distinguished individuals elected this year, including artist Mark Bradford, journalist James M. Fallows (The Atlantic) former First Lady Michelle Obama, business leader Charles H. Robbins (Cisco Systems) actress and playwright Anna Deavere Smith, and many others to round out the cohort of more than 200 notable individuals.

“One of the reasons to honor extraordinary achievement is because the pursuit of excellence is so often accompanied by disappointment and self-doubt,” said David W. Oxtoby, president of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences. “We are pleased to recognize the excellence of our new members, celebrate their compelling accomplishments, and invite them to join the Academy and contribute to its work.”

The new class will be inducted at a ceremony in October 2019 in Cambridge, Massachusetts.

The full list of the newly elected members is available at www.amacad.org/newly-elected-members-2019.

UMD Engineers Create Fresh Route to Fresh Water

April 17, 2019
Contacts: 

Melissa L. Andreychek 301-405-0292

COLLEGE PARK, Md. – About a billion people around the world lack access to safe drinking water. Turning salty water into drinkable water can help to fill this essential need. But traditional desalination systems are far too expensive to install and operate in many locations, especially in low-income countries and remote areas.

Now researchers at the University of Maryland’s A. James Clark School of Engineering have demonstrated a successful prototype of one critical component for affordable small-scale desalination: an inexpensive solar evaporator, made of wood. The evaporator generates steam with high efficiency and minimal need for maintenance, says Liangbing Hu, associate professor of materials science and engineering and affiliate of the Maryland Energy Innovation Institute.

The teams design employs a solar-driven evaporation technique known as interfacial evaporation because it localizes this solar energy driven conversion of water to vapor at the air/liquid interface. This technique “shows great potential in response to global water scarcity because of its high solar-to-vapor efficiency, low environmental impact, and portable device design with low cost,” Hu says. “These features make it suitable for off-grid water generation and purification, especially for low-income countries.”

Interfacial evaporators are made of thin materials that float on saline water. Absorbing solar heat on top, the evaporators continuously pull up the saline water from below and convert it to steam on their top surface, leaving behind the salt, explains Hu, who is senior author on a paper describing the work in Advanced Materials.

However, over time salt can build up on this evaporative surface, gradually degrading performance until it is removed, he says.

Hu and his colleagues minimized the need for this maintenance with a device made out of basswood that exploits the wood’s natural structure of the micron-wide channels that carry water and nutrients up the tree.

The researchers supplement these natural channels by drilling a second array of millimeter-wide channels through a thin cross-section of the wood, says Yudi Kuang, a visiting scholar and lead author on the paper. The investigators then briefly expose the top surface to high heat, which carbonizes the surface for greater solar absorption.

In operation, as the device absorbs solar energy, it draws up salty water through the wood’s natural micron-wide channels. Salt is spontaneously exchanged from these tiny channels through natural openings along their sides to the vastly wider drilled channels, and then easily dissolves back into the water below.

“In the lab, we have successfully demonstrated excellent anti-fouling in a wide range of salt concentrations, with stable steam generation with about 75% efficiency,” says Kuang.

“Using natural wood as the only starting material, the salt-rejecting solar evaporator is expected to be low-cost,” adds research associate Chaoji Chen. The evaporator approach also is effective in other types of wood with similar natural channels. The researchers now are optimizing their system for higher efficiency, lower capital cost, and integration with a steam condenser to complete the desalination cycle.

Hu’s lab also recently developed another solar-heated prototype device that takes advantage of carbonized wood’s ability to absorb and distribute solar energy—this one created to help clean up spills of hard-to-collect heavy oils. “Our carbonized wood material demonstrates rapid and efficient crude oil absorption, as well as low cost and scalable manufacturing potential,” says Kuang, lead author on a paper about the research in Advanced Functional Materials.

“Wood is an intriguing material scaffold, with its unique hierarchically porous structure, and it is a renewable, abundant and cost-effective resource,” Hu says. “In our lab, the fundamental understanding of biomaterials (especially wood) leads us to achieve extraordinary performance that is competitive with widely used but non-sustainable materials.”

Other new wood-based materials created in Hu’s lab include light and effective “nanowood” insulating materials; transparent wood; “super wood” that is 12 times stronger and 10 times tougher than natural wood, and potentially could replace steel, titanium or carbon fiber in certain applications; and a wood-derived flexible membrane used to create a heat-to-electricity device.

Read past releases below about other poyrwood-based technologies being developed at UMD.

UMD Researchers’ Wood-based Technology Creates Electricity from Heat (March 2019)

UMD Researchers Create Super Wood Stronger Than Most Metals (Feb. 2018)

A Battery Made of Wood? (August 2016)

 

Wood Windows are Cooler than Glass (June 2013)

 

Two University of Maryland Scholars Named 2019 Guggenheim Fellows

April 17, 2019
Contacts: 

Lee Tune 301-405-4679

College Park, Md. – Two University of Maryland scholars—a literary scholar and a computer scientist— have been named 2019 Guggenheim Fellows, chosen on the basis of prior achievement and exceptional promise.

Mohammad T. Hajiaghayi, the Jack and Rita G. Minker Professor of Computer Science, and Gerard Passannante, associate professor of English, were among the 168 scholars, artists and writers chosen this year from a group of almost 3,000 applicants. They join a long list of past UMD Guggenheim Fellows that includes groundbreaking historian of slavery Ira Berlin, a Distinguished University Professor; physicist Michael E. Fisher, a Distinguished University Professor and Regents Professor who received two Guggenheim Fellowships (1970 & 1979);  professor of theatre Heather S. Nathans; quantum chemist, Millard Alexander, a Distinguished University Professor; and engineer/physicist Katepalli Sreenivasan.

Awarded by the John Simon Guggenheim Memorial Foundation, the fellowships are primarily awarded to those in the creative arts and humanities. These awards recognize those “who have demonstrated exceptional capacity for productive scholarship or exceptional creative ability in the arts," and provide grants of six to 12 months so recipients can freely pursue their work.

Hajiaghayi is one of 132019 awardees whose work is based in the natural sciences. He will receive $50,000 over 12 months to continue his research on algorithms for big graphs and game theory. Hajiaghayi’s algorithms—which are used by companies like Google and Amazon—analyze data sets with trillions of connections while accounting for user objectives and incentives.

“I want to keep working on solving real-world problems essentially,” Hajiaghayi says. “These technology companies will help me do that because they have huge datasets that you can’t find anywhere else.”

His algorithms also help process large datasets on devices with a limited amount of fast memory—a smartphone or tablet, for example—or devices that are connected to a relatively slow external data source. 

In 2016 Hajiaghayi was a part of a team of computer scientists from the University of Maryland, Stanford University and Microsoft Research that was the first to solve a game theory scenario known as “Colonel Blotto” that had vexed researchers for nearly a century.

Passannante studies European literature and culture from the 14th to the 18th century—from the verses of the poet Petrarch to the philosophy of Immanuel Kant. He is especially interested in how ideas travel. His recent honors include both the new Guggenheim Fellowship and an American Council of Learned Societies (ACLS) Fellowship to support his research on how contemporary ideas about scale, or the relative size or extent of something, have roots in ancient and early modern arguments about the order of the universe. In his project, "God is in the Detail," Passannante will explore a variety of literary and philosophical discussions of scale—for example, ancient arguments about cosmic order, Hamlet’s musings on infinity,  the discovery of calculus and the bodies of insects as seen through a microscope.

"It's about the history of the strategies we have for confirming that the world is secure and orderly—that 'everything’s fine'—in spite of what experience might say to the contrary," says Passannante. "It’s about finding evidence of order in the very smallest of things."

The phrase "God is in the detail" suggests that the divine is evident in even the smallest of things. Passannante chose it as the title of his project because it speaks to how questions of scale are caught up in questions about the order of the universe. He sees similar patterns emerging in contemporary thought, especially discussions of global warming.

"We live in a moment of profound ecological crisis, but we are dismayingly good at reassuring ourselves by finding order in small things," he said. "I want to create a historical lens through which to see our own practices of interpretation in another light."

The inspiration for Passannante's Guggenheim and ACLS project came while writing his recently published second book, "Catastrophizing: Materialism and the Making of Disaster," which traces the literary and philosophical history of catastrophizing, or imagining the worst. The book touches on everything from Leonardo da Vinci's musings on the destructive forces of nature to the doomsday predictions of Renaissance astrologers.  

"I was struck by the way ideas about scale were connected to ideas about the nature of God," he says. "I wanted to understand how and why people argued historically that God is present in even the smallest of things and how they translated this claim into a feeling."

Established in 1925, the Guggenheim Memorial foundation has awarded more than $360 million to over 18,000 people. Hajiaghayi, Passannate and the other 2019 fellows will be honored next month at a reception in New York City.

8th Annual Good Neighbor Day Returns With Its Largest Volunteer Count

April 12, 2019
Contacts: 

Golshan Jalali, 301-405-0043

COLLEGE PARK, Md. – The University of Maryland, the City of College Park and The Maryland-National Capital Park and Planning Commission (M-NCPPC) will host the 8th Annual Good Neighbor Day on Saturday, April 13, 2019 at 8:30 a.m. This day of service begins with an opening ceremony held at the College Park Community Center and continues at several service projects that unify Greater College Park to achieve the common goal of beautifying shared community spaces.

“The support we receive for this event is remarkable. Each year we have more and more volunteers interested in participating, which has allowed us to make big impacts in our shared community,” states Sarah D’Alexander, event producer of Good Neighbor Day.

Beginning as a Christmas in April event in 2011, the Good Neighbor Day initiative has developed into a well-known community-wide day of service. Growing from fifty participants in the first year, the 8th Annual Good Neighbor Day anticipates 900 volunteers, the largest number in the event’s history. In addition to UMD students, staff, faculty, and alumni, volunteers will include elected officials, city residents, and community youth uniting to complete over 20 service projects throughout the Greater College Park community.

Since 2012, Good Neighbor Day has gathered more than 2,100 volunteers to complete 50 service projects. The annual food drive has collected approximately 10,000 pounds of food to benefit the UMD Campus Pantry and the College Park Community Food Bank.

“It is great to see families taking part in caring for the environment and teaching their children the value in doing good and being engaged in the community,” says Gloria Aparicio Blackwell, Director of the Office of Community Engagement.

This year, projects will include community cleanups, tree planting at Lake Artemesia, meal packing with Terps Against Hunger, free translation services to community organizations through Terps Translate, landscape enhancement at Paint Branch Elementary, invasive species removal at Sentinel Swamp Sanctuary, and more.

For more information and to register for Good Neighbor Day, visit goodneighborday.umd.edu.

Top Decision Makers, Experts Join UMD Researchers to Broaden the Cybersecurity Conversation

April 12, 2019
Contacts: 

Maggie Haslam 202-258-8946

COLLEGE PARK, Md. – The speed and complexity of tech innovation—from 5G networks to the prevalence of artificial intelligence—will require more sophisticated and holistic safeguards, according to cybersecurity experts who gathered last week at the University of Maryland’s first Executive Cybersecurity Summit. The first-of-its kind, three-day event assembled over 125 high-level private sector executives, senior policymakers, government leaders and academic researchers, for a broad conversation including not just technical issues but also often-overlooked intricacies of cyber threats, such as human behavior and economic impacts.

“It takes partnerships that span sectors and disciplines to understand a growing threat of this magnitude and complexity,” said University of Maryland President Wallace D. Loh. “Academia already plays a unique role in fostering these partnerships. It’s one of the reasons for convening this summit.”

Sponsored by the University of Maryland’s Office of the Provost, the Executive Cybersecurity Summit was organized by the University’s Maryland Global Initiative for Cybersecurity (MaGIC), a campus entity that promotes and coordinates efforts across the University of Maryland to expand cyber education, research and development activities. The summit was designed to fill a critical gap in the ongoing conversation on cybersecurity by bringing the challenges facing the public and private sector to the research community, and explore not just the technical challenges of cybersecurity, but the tech-induced impacts relevant to organizational leaders.

“I think that the activities and pressures on the ground are so demanding that the public and private sectors have a tendency to move too fast to solve the immediate problem, when actually the problem is much more involved,” says Keith Marzullo, dean of UMD’s iSchool. “That need to move quickly limits their ability to think more deeply. And that’s where we can come in.”

Speakers included Rick Ledgett, former deputy director of the National Security Agency; Grant Schneider, federal chief information security officer and senior director of cybersecurity of the National Security Council; Jon Darby, director of operations for the National Security Agency; Major General Linda Singh, Adjutant General of Maryland; Curt Dukes, VP and GM of CIS; Congressman Dutch Ruppersberger, Maryland’s 2nd District; and Debora Plunkett, former director of the NSA’s Information Assurance Directorate.

Many of the experts stressed the urgency for building the professional workforce on all sides of the cyber issue to include law, public policy, communications and enterprise. Schneider pointed to engagement with both cyber and non-cyber staff as critical to risk management.

“Developing that workforce is one of the most critical things we need to do,” he said. “We need more cybersecurity professionals, we need more STEM, people who can hopefully solve all of these cybersecurity challenges for us. We also need more lawyers and people who can translate what the technicians are talking about, and those who understand the business mission and values. We need a far more nuanced conversation between CEOs and CISOs.”  

Speakers also listed a variety of factors—including fledgling technologies, knowledge and communication gaps, even national and regional emergencies—that compromise security and information by offering more points of entry for cyber hackers and nation-states. Singh touched on the Baltimore riots following the death of Freddie Gray, which cyber attackers attempted to exploit to access the state’s systems. That experience was the impetus, she said, for revolutionizing the Maryland National Guard’s cybersecurity system.

“You need to gather the experts but also give them the space create and innovate,” she said.

Research also plays an important role in studying the interconnection of systems and in understanding how they can make us vulnerable. Ledgett pointed to emerging technologies and techniques such machine learning as areas not well-tested or understood in today’s threat environment. Facial recognition in particular, which is poised to change everything from how we buy things to how we travel, is particularly vulnerable.

“I’ve had colleagues tell me that it will take a cybersecurity breach equivalent to Pearl Harbor to change the game,” said Ledgett. “I think that the work that institutions like the University of Maryland and folks in the private sector can do is essential to making that not be the case.”

MaGIC’s Executive Director Daniel Ennis said he expects the summit to be an annual event at the University of Maryland, possibly bridged with a series of lectures that explore a deeper range of topics connected to the cyber issue.

 “Ultimately a lot of these solutions are going to come from the private sector and academia and the research it develops,” he said.

 

Professor Gives UMD $750K to Support Campus Makerspaces in New Brendan Iribe Center and Across Campus

April 11, 2019
Contacts: 

Lee Tune 301-405-4679

COLLEGE PARK, Md. – Bill Pugh, an entrepreneur and UMD emeritus professor of computer science, has donated $750,000 to the University of Maryland to support use of a large makerspace in the new Brendan Iribe (ee-REEB’) Center for Computer Science and Engineering and to fund efforts to coordinate use of the numerous other makerspaces around campus.

A pioneer in programming languages and software engineering, Pugh taught at Maryland for nearly a quarter century and became a successful entrepreneur. For the last several years, he’s been a passionate booster and fundraiser for the new Brendan Iribe Center.

“The Iribe Center was designed as an environment to encourage students to be inventive, to think about what they can do with technology and to partner with people outside their disciplines,” Pugh said. “They’ll come here, see research with drones and robots, art projects infused with technology–all done by students—and they’ll be excited to get involved.”

Pugh’s gift includes $500,000 to staff and operate the Jagdeep Singh Family makerspace in the Brendan Iribe Center.  This 5,300-square-foot makerspace, affectionately called the Singh Sandbox, is supported by a $1 million donation from alum Jagdeep Singh ’86 and Roshni Singh. The nickname is a nod to UMD’s first Sandbox makerspace that opened in 2016 in the Computer Science Instructional Center.

The Singh Sandbox will be guided by the interests of students from any major, who will be able make something even if it’s unrelated to research or a class. Consisting of a large, open collaboration area and six workshops on the first floor, the Sandbox provides specialized equipment that isn’t available elsewhere on campus except to students and researchers in specific departments. The facilities include two laser cutters, a fully equipped wood shop, a large-format printer, a vinyl cutter, a metal milling machine, two types of 3D printers, an advanced electronics fabrication and analysis shop, sewing machines, hot glue guns, a button maker and more.

“It’s so important for students to gain experience beyond the traditional computer science curriculum that is often focused on software,” Jagdeep Singh said. “Makerspaces are a wonderful way for students to work with tangible hardware and apply real-life problem-solving skills to create something in the real world.”

In addition, Pugh and his wife, Lisa Orange, are donating $250,000 to support coordination of campus makerspacesdesignated areas for students to invent and create that are supported and equipped by different units on campus. This gift will support the compiling of data about makerspace resources on campus and development of infrastructure, documentation and programming for the campus maker community. The funds will be administered by Terrapin Works, a collection of digital manufacturing resources/spaces provided to the campus and beyond. Terrapin Works is managed by the A. James Clark School of Engineering. Makerspaces also are available in, and run by, other units such as the Department of Physics, University Libraries and the College of Information Studies.  

Pugh and Orange have been strong supporters of innovation in computer science education over the years, donating nearly $1.5 million to UMD, including to fund the original Sandbox in the Computer Science Instructional Center. Pugh said that makerspaces are important because teaching students about innovation and entrepreneurship means giving them the skills to turn an idea into a reality.

“You have to figure out if building your idea is feasible, and what technology you should use,” he said. “You bounce it off other people. Maybe you start implementing it and find it isn’t going to work, or maybe the technology works but it just isn’t compelling, so you pivot. And you keep pivoting until you eventually come up with something that’s either useful to you or wows your friends and family.”

Statement from President Wallace D. Loh on passing of Maryland House Speaker Michael E. Busch – April 7, 2019

April 7, 2019

Statement from President Wallace D. Loh on passing of Maryland House Speaker Michael E. Busch – April 7, 2019

My deepest condolences to the family and colleagues of Michael Busch, the longest-serving House Speaker in our State's history, whose advocacy for education, health care, gun safety, and the environment helped improve the lives of all Marylanders. Flags on campus will fly at half-staff as directed by Governor Larry Hogan.

The Speaker’s legacy of public service will endure for generations.

Maryland Athletics Announces Members of its Inaugural Athletic Medicine Review Board

April 4, 2019
Contacts: 

Jessica Jennings, 301-314-1482

COLLEGE PARK, Md. -- Maryland Athletics announced today the formation of an Athletic Medicine Review Board (AMRB), which will allow independent review of student-athlete health and welfare policies and best practices. The board will be led by national sports medicine expert Rod Walters and comprised of experts from across the athletic, medical and legal professions.  

“Our mission is to ensure that every single student-athlete at the University of Maryland receives the best possible care,” said Athletic Director Damon Evans.“I am grateful that this distinguished group will bring their expertise to reviewing our practices across the full spectrum of student-athlete care and well-being as part of our commitment to ensuring that best practices and policies are adhered to every day on our campus.”

“I appreciate the University of Maryland’s full embrace of the recommendations made last fall, and look forward to continuing to work with them in support of the well-being of their student-athletes,” said Walters. “This board will bring some of the most insightful professionals from across the country to College Park to further work with current staff specific to best practices and current standards.”

The board will consist of the following members: athletic trainers Ron Courson, University of Georgia, Cynthia “Sam” Booth, and Mark Laursen, Boston University; retired orthopaedic surgeon Dr. Robert Peele; strength coach Scott Bennett, Radford University; nutritionist Jennifer Brunelli, Carolina Panthers & Roush Fenway Racing; team physician Dr. Matt Leiszler, Notre Dame; operations management expert Sean Barnes, University of Maryland; and Trooper/Flight Paramedic Ed Strapp, Maryland State Police. 

Their expertise spans the field including athletics, athletic training, physicians, injury prevention and sports performance, legal, and medical ethics. Members of the board will serve for a three-year term and meet annually.

The formation of the AMRB fulfills a recommendation outlined in the external safety review led by Walters that was completed last fall following the death of student-athlete Jordan McNair. With today’s announcement, Maryland Athletics has completed 19 of the 20 recommendations from the Walters Report, with work underway on the final recommendation.  

Walters is CEO of Walters Inc. and has worked in athletic training for nearly 40 years. He served as the University of South Carolina’s Assistant Athletic Director for Sports Medicine before launching his own firm in 2007. A member of the National Athletic Trainers Association, Dr. Walters served on their Board of Directors from 1997 to 2003. He received the NATA's Most Distinguished Athletic Trainer in 2003 and was inducted into the NATA's Hall of Fame in 2005. He is also a member of the American Orthopaedic Society for Sports Medicine.   

Barnes is an Assistant Professor of Operations Management in the Robert H. Smith School of Business at the University of Maryland and his research interests include infectious disease modeling, healthcare analytics, agent-based modeling and simulation, machine learning, and data visualization.

Bennett has over 25 years of experience in the strength and conditioning field, currently serving as Radford University’s head strength and conditioning coach, after spending time at Virginia Tech, James Madison, University of Southern Mississippi, the University of Wyoming and Marshall University. Bennett is accredited as a Master Strength and Conditioning Coach with the Collegiate Strength and Conditioning Association (CSCCa) since 2006 and has served time on the CSCCa Board of Directors. He was the first strength coach to be invited as an ex officio member of the NCAA Committee for Competitive Safeguards and Medical Aspects of Sports.

Booth was a certified athletic trainer for 36 years before retiring her credential in 2017, holding positions at the University of Kansas, West Virginia University and Minnesota State University – Moorhead. She worked as a healthcare administrator for twelve years and has thirty-five years of university teaching experience. She retired in January 2018 only to re-enter the workforce as an Interim Academic Advisor at The College at Brockport in New York, but will return to retirement status at the end of this academic year. She has been a member of the National Athletic Trainers’ Association for over 40 years; inducted into the National Athletic Trainers’ Association Hall of Fame in 2006; and awarded the "Most Distinguished Athletic Trainer" Award in 2002.  

Brunelli is a 7-time All American swimmer and Hall of Fame athlete who is the owner of RDpro, LLC, a nutrition consulting business in North Carolina and is in her seventh year with the Carolina Panthers as the sports dietitian working directly with the players as well as serving as the sports dietitian for the NASCAR team, Roush Fenway Racing. Brunelli also serves as the sports nutritionist for LEAD, a female Olympian run business that stands to help young female athletes gain leadership skills and confidence in and out of their sport.

Courson has served as Director of Sports Medicine with the University of Georgia Athletic Association since 1995 and before that working at the University of Alabama, Samford University and with the U.S. Olympic Team. Courson has also spent time as the president of the SEC Sports Medicine Committee, chairman of the College and University Athletic Trainers' Committee of the National Athletic Trainers' Association and as a member of the NCAA Competitive Safeguards and Medical Aspects of Sports committee. He was inducted into the National Athletic Trainers’ Association Hall of Fame in 2013.

Laursen is currently the Director of Athletic Training Services at Boston University, having spent the past 11 years in this role, while also teaching as a Clinical Associate Professor of Athletic Training in BU's Sargent College of Health and Rehabilitation Sciences. Laursen has contributed to several publications, made more than 100 presentations, and currently is a reviewer for the Journal of Athletic Training, and Athletic Training Education Journal. In 2007, he was named NCAA Division IAA National Head Athletic Trainer of the Year.

Leiszler is the head football team physician at the University of Notre Dame. Leiszler graduated from Harvard University in 2003 with a degree in biology. He was a varsity letter-winning running back on the football team while at Harvard. He finished medical school at the University of Kansas School of Medicine in 2008.He completed both a residency in Family Medicine and a fellowship in Sports Medicine at the University of Colorado, and was faculty at the University of Colorado Hospital prior to Notre Dame.  

Peele served as theTeam Orthopedist and Chief Physician for the University of South Carolina Athletic Department from 1983 to 2001. He attended medical school at Wake Forest University’s Bowman Gray School of Medicine; completed his residency in orthopaedics at the Medical University of South Carolina; and and completed his sports medicine fellowship under the legendary Dr. Jack Hughston.   

Strapp is currently a Trooper/Flight Paramedic for the Maryland State Police and has served in various roles as an athletic trainer and paramedic for more than 20 years. He is also a certified athletic trainer and flight paramedic who regularly presents on the emergency care aspect of athletic training at local, regional and national conferences.

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