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UMD Partners with Signature Science, Fraunhofer on DNA Screening to Detect Biological Threats

October 6, 2017
Contacts: 

Abby V. Robinson, 301-405-5845

COLLEGE PARK, Md.-- Computational biologists in the University of Maryland Institute for Advanced Computer Studies (UMIACS) are collaborating with experts from the UMD affiliated and based Fraunhofer Center for Experimental Software Engineering and Signature Science LLC to develop new approaches and tools for screening DNA sequences that might accidently—or intentionally—be altered, resulting in a biological threat.

Photo of UMD computational biologists Mihai Pop and Todd Treangen developing tools for screening DNA sequences that might accidently or intentionally be altered, resulting in a biological threat.

Mihai Pop, a professor of computer science, Todd Treangen, an assistant research scientist in UMIACS, and Adam Porter, a professor of computer science at the University of Maryland and executive director of Fraunhofer, are working closely with Signature Science, a scientific and technical consulting firm, on next-generation computational and bioinformatics tools that can quickly assess whether certain synthesized DNA strands could pose a risk.

“This is an ambitious project that will join experts in biology, bioinformatics, machine learning and software engineering,” says Pop. “The software underlying this project is extremely complex, involving an intricate chain of sophisticated software components. This chain has to work seamlessly—not only to reliably identify biological threats, but to do so under strict time and resource constraints.”

DNA synthesis has increased significantly during the past decade, Pop says, with scientists in academia and industry using automated machines to construct genes and other long strands of DNA by stringing together chemical building blocks called nucleotides in any desired sequence.

While these altered DNA strands can lead to revolutionary advances in medicine, agriculture and materials science, there is the possibility that someone could exploit synthetic DNA for harmful purposes—like creating a synthetic smallpox virus, a deadly plague that was eradicated in the late 1970s, and currently exists only in a few highly secure repositories.

UMD research is part of Signature Science’s Functional Genomic and Computational Assessment of Threats program, which is being funded by the Intelligence Advanced Research Projects Activity. The research team has identified specific tasks for each group to perform in order to create a “bioinformatics analysis pipeline,” says Treangen, an expert in developing software that can quickly and efficiently analyze large amounts of genomic data. Treangen is collaborating on the project with Dan Nasko, a postdoctoral scientist, and graduate students in the Center for Bioinformatics and Computational Biology, an interdisciplinary center in UMIACS with access to powerful computing and data storage resources.

“My group will develop software modules that can provide rapid sequence and protein structure comparisons to assess the threat potential of functional elements from short DNA sequences,” he says. “The biggest challenge will be adapting current tools—and developing new tools—to perform accurate taxonomic assignment, function prediction, and threat assignment of these sequences.”

The scientists at Fraunhofer will integrate the software modules designed by Treangen’s team into a larger software infrastructure that meets regulatory standards and can be optimized for peak performance. Fraunhofer will also create the visual dashboards needed for monitoring overall system performance.

“This is a large undertaking that requires robust proficiency in designing and integrating automated systems used for testing and validating large amounts of data very quickly,” says Porter. “Fraunhofer and UMIACS can provide that type of expertise in force.”

As the prime contractor for the $2.9M project, Signature Science will coordinate the work done by UMIACS, Fraunhofer and other team members.

This effort is supported by the U.S. Army Research Office. The content of this release does not necessarily reflect the position or the policy of the Government, and no official endorsement should be inferred.


Photo: University of Maryland computational biologists Mihai Pop (left) and Todd Treangen (right). Photo credit: John T. Consoli/University of Maryland

 

University of Maryland Named Finalist for 2017 APLU Innovation & Economic Prosperity Universities Awards

October 6, 2017
Contacts: 

Katie Lawson, 301-405-4622

COLLEGE PARK, Md. -- The University of Maryland has been named as one of five finalists for the  Association of Public and Land-grant Universities’ (APLU) fifth annual Innovation & Economic Prosperity (IEP) University Awards, which recognize extraordinary university economic engagement efforts with four different awards. The winners will be announced on November 12 at APLU’s annual meeting in Washington, DC.

Of the four award categories, UMD is a finalist in two: the Place Award, which focuses on universities excelling in community, social, and cultural development work, and the top prize in the competition, the Economic Engagement Connections Award, which recognizes the institution that is doing the most to build connections across all categories of economic engagement — innovation and entrepreneurship, talent development, and social, community, and cultural development.

“Public research universities have a core mission to advance economic development in their regions. That responsibility takes various forms – whether through workforce development, research, or private sector partnerships – and all are critically important to creating a thriving economy,” said APLU President Peter McPherson. “This year’s finalists for the Innovation and Economic Prosperity University Awards have not just made a concerted effort to drive economic progress in their regions; they have designed programs that have delivered broad-based prosperity. APLU applauds this year’s finalists and we look forward to spotlighting their exceptional efforts so other public research universities can draw lessons from their success.”

In 2015, UMD launched the Greater College Park initiative, a $2 billion public-private investment to rapidly revitalize the Baltimore Avenue corridor and academic campus, which includes dynamic academic spaces, a public-private research hub and vibrant downtown community. The initiative is the result of cooperative work between the City of College Park, Prince George’s County, state, private developers and the university. Recent additions to Greater College Park include the Edward St. John Learning & Teaching Center, MilkBoy ArtHouse, and the College Park Academy.  

As part of the Greater College Park initiative, UMD debuted the Discovery District in 2017, encompassing more than 150 acres that stretch from Baltimore Avenue to the research-rich and metro-accessible community along River Road. Discovery District is the epicenter of academic, research and economic development as home to the research park formerly known as M Square, and features amenities like The Hotel at the University of Maryland and the The Art Walk. 

APLU’s Commission on Innovation, Competitiveness, and Economic Prosperity (CICEP), which brings together public university leaders focused on economic engagement issues, designed and implements the IEP Awards program. To be eligible for an award, an institution must first earn the Innovation and Economic Prosperity University designation from APLU. To receive that designation universities conduct a rigorous self-study of their economic engagement efforts that includes input from external stakeholders. 

The other finalists for the IEP awards are the Georgia Institute of Technology, Iowa State University, Kansas State University and Pennsylvania State University. 

 

City of College Park to Celebrate Community

October 5, 2017
Contacts: 

Natifia Mullings, University of Maryland, 301-405-4076
Ryna QuiñonesCity of College Park, 240-487-3508

COLLEGE PARK, Md. – The City of College Park will host its 8th annual College Park Day on Saturday, October 7 from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. at the College Park Aviation Museum and Airport, located at 1985 Corporal Frank Scott Drive, College Park, MD.  College Park Day, which celebrates the City, its’ residents and businesses, as well as local community groups and organizations, will include free admission to the College Park Aviation Museum and a wide variety of activities for everyone to enjoy.  

Highlights for this year’s event include:

  • Live Music and Performances – Live entertainment from several groups, including The Radiographers, The Unknowns, The Scotch Bonnets, Trio Caliente, Big Hoax, the University of Maryland’s Gymkana, will take place on two different performance stages.
  • A Taste of College Park – Local eateries-- Kapnos Taverna by Chef Mike Isabella, MilkBoy Arthouse, Fishnet, Potomac Pizza, Bagels ‘n Grinds, Heavenly Created Desserts, Bill’s Backyard BBQ and DC Empandas-- will offer food and beverages throughout the event. 
  • Get your Fitness Groove On – Barre, ZOCA and Zumba group exercise lessons will be available on the Community Stage.
  • Meet Police, Fire and Safety Crews – Local police, fire and EMS safety crews will participate in a community meet and greet, where a helicopter will be on display and fly out is scheduled.
  • A Gigantic Kids Fun Zone – Fun for children of all ages, the Kids Fun Zone will include obstacle courses, a rock climbing wall, bounce house, crafts, face painting and more.
  • Over 100 Exhibitors – Local exhibitors that represent City departments, local community groups and organizations, schools, and the University of Maryland departments 

College Park Day will take place rain or shine.  Parking and admission are free. For additional information, visit www.CollegeParkDay.org.  

 

UMB, UMCP Announce New Strategic Partnership Signature Projects

October 5, 2017
Contacts: 

Katie Lawson, University of Maryland, College Park, 301-405-4622
Alex Likowski, University of Maryland, Baltimore, 410-706-3801 

Photo of MPower logoCOLLEGE PARK, Md. -- The University of Maryland, Baltimore (UMB) and University of Maryland, College Park (UMCP) announce five new programs as signature projects of the University of Maryland Strategic Partnership: MPowering the State, a collaboration between the state of Maryland’s two most powerful public research institutions. 

The strategic partnership leverages the sizable strengths and complementary missions of both campuses to strengthen Maryland’s innovation economy, advance interdisciplinary research, create opportunities for students and solve important problems for the people of Maryland and the nation.

Each year, the partnership adds to its portfolio of signature projects that enhance the two campuses’ missions to collaboratively address our nation’s most pressing issues and serve as economic engines for the state. A distinguishing feature of these new projects is that they would be unattainable or difficult to achieve by UMB or UMCP acting independent of each other. The projects were selected for their ability to grow beyond the initial MPowering the State funding, and to be sustainable through external funding sources. The new programs include:

  • The Maryland Blended Reality Center will capitalize on the growth of virtual and augmented reality and develop innovative new uses, combining the advanced computing, visual capture and display resources at UMCP with the clinical data, biomedical and patient care at UMB. The center will be led by Amitabh Varshney, Ph.D., Professor and Director, University of Maryland Institute for Advanced Computer Studies, UMCP; and Sarah Murthi, M.D., Clinical Assistant Professor of Surgery, School of Medicine, UMB.
  • The Opioid Use Disorders project will combine UMB and UMCP’s expertise in preclinical, clinical and policy areas to address the opioid epidemic in the state of Maryland and the nation, with the goal to better understand opioid use disorder, develop treatment strategies and create recommendations for treatment research and education. The project will be led by Asaf Keller, Ph.D., Professor, Anatomy & Neurobiology, School of Medicine, UMB; and Eric Wish, Ph.D., Associate Professor and Director, Center for Substance Abuse Research, UMCP.
  • The Health Informatics and Data Science partnership will develop a health informatics specialization within the Bachelor of Science in Information Science degree at UMCP, and will explore other degrees and pathways between existing programs to educate the next generation of health informatics professionals. The partnership will be led by Keith Marzullo, Ph.D., Professor and Dean, College of Information Studies, UMCP; Jane Kirschling, Ph.D., R.N., FAAN, Dean and Professor, School of Nursing, UMB; and Mark Reynolds, D.D.S., Ph.D., M.A., Dean, School of Dentistry, UMB.
  • The Center of Excellence in Cochlear Implants will combine the strengths of both institutions to provide educational training, clinical services and basic and translational biomedical research on cochlear implants, and usher in an era of personalized hearing rehabilitation. The center will be led by Rochelle Newman, Ph.D., Professor and Chair, Department of Hearing & Speech Sciences, UMCP; Matthew Goupell, Ph.D., Associate Professor, Department of Hearing & Speech Sciences, UMCP; Nicole Nguyen, Au.D., Director of Clinical Audiology, Department of Hearing & Speech Sciences, UMCP; Ronna Hertzano, M.D., Associate Professor, Otorhinolaryngology – Head & Neck Surgery, School of Medicine, UMB; and David Eisenman, M.D., Associate Professor, Otorhinolaryngology – Head & Neck Surgery, School of Medicine, UMB.
  • The Policing Partnership program will create a collaborative, inter-campus effort to address and aim to improve relationships between local police departments and community residents; and expand research, business development and educational opportunities in the field. The program will be led by Gregory Ball, Ph.D., Professor and Dean, College of Behavioral & Social Sciences, UMCP; Bonnie Thornton Dill, Ph.D., Professor and Dean, College of Arts and Humanities, UMCP; Lucy Dalglish, J.D., Professor and Dean, Philip Merrill College of Journalism, UMCP; Gerald Wilkinson, Ph.D., Professor and Interim Dean, College of Computer, Mathematical and Natural Sciences, UMCP; and Donald Tobin, J.D., Dean and Professor of Law, Francis King Carey School of Law, UMB.

“I’m so grateful to the General Assembly for formalizing UMB’s close partnership with UMCP, for backing us as we come together to advance health, justice, science, and social progress,” said UMB President Jay A. Perman, MD. “We know that our biggest breakthroughs happen at the intersections – the intersection of investigators, disciplines, and institutions – and I look forward to seeing how these extraordinary teams invent new solutions to some of the most intractable challenges we face today.”

“This partnership is changing lives across the state, and these new collaborations will extend that impact,” said UMCP President Wallace D. Loh. “To address large societal problems, we are expanding faculty collaborations across departments and schools at both campuses.”

The University of Maryland Strategic Partnership Act of 2016 (SB 1052) strengthened and formalized the structured relationship between UMB and UMCP, which began in 2012. The law deepens the alliance and energizes UMB and UMCP to pursue even greater transformative change and impact, far surpassing what each institution could do independent of each other.

The strategic partnership continues to show innovation and impact across the state of Maryland. The S.A.F.E. Center for Human Trafficking Survivors, which opened in 2016, has provided social, basic medical and mental health, and legal services to more than 40 clients who have been victims of sex and labor trafficking. The universities recently broke ground on the Center for Sports Medicine, Health and Human Performance in the new Cole Field House, which will be at the forefront of research tackling traumatic brain injury and recovery, and advancing the science of sport. In fiscal year 2016, UM Ventures, which combines the entrepreneurial resources and offices at UMB and UMCP to commercialize university inventions and launch successful university startups, tallied more than 300 inventions from faculty, with more than 50 technologies licensed to companies, including 20 new startup companies. 

As part of the strategic partnership, UMB and UMCP have also established the Center for Maryland Advanced Ventures (CMAV) and the University of Maryland Center for Economic and Entrepreneurship Development (UMCEED), both of which will capitalize on the research and development success of MPowering the State, fortify its innovation infrastructure, and create the next generation of Maryland entrepreneurs. 

CMAV, located on the UMB campus, will be led by Executive Director Jim Hughes, UMB’s chief enterprise and economic development officer and vice president; and director of UM Ventures-Baltimore. CMAV will promote the commercialization of university discoveries, providing grants to university entrepreneurs whose research has high commercialization potential and supporting startups with staff, facilities, and equipment needed to develop companies. The center will assist university-affiliated startups from across the state with relocating to Baltimore City. 

UMCEED, located on the UMCP campus, will be led by Executive Director Mary Ann Rankin, UMCP’s senior vice president and provost. UMCEED will advance education and research in neuroscience, virtual and augmented reality, biomedical devices, data analytics and cybersecurity. 

To learn more about the University of Maryland Strategic Partnership, visit http://mpower.maryland.edu/

Hornbake Library Exhibit Showcases Labor Movement’s Contribution to Social Justice in America

October 5, 2017
Contacts: 

Alana Carchedi Coyle, 301-405-0235

COLLEGE PARK, Md. - Social justice issues and their intersection with America’s labor movement are the focus of a new exhibit in the University of Maryland’s Hornbake Library, opening October 6. 

The first major exhibit drawing primarily from the historical archives of the AFL-CIO, the exhibit explores turning points in the labor movement around issues including civil rights, women’s movements, immigrant rights, religious freedom, LGBTQ equality, environmental justice, and international workers’ solidarity.

Hundreds of unique documents, photographs, artifacts and videos are on display, selected from the vast collections of the University Libraries related to labor history. A 1929 handwritten log with entries about the Brotherhood of Sleeping Car Porters, for example, documents membership in the first labor organization led by African Americans to be chartered by the American Federation of Labor. A rarely viewed 1835 Philadelphia carpenters’ banner calls for a 10-hour workday.   

The exhibit seeks to spark new questions and study about the historical relationship between the labor movement and social justice.

“One of the most interesting aspects of this exploration is how the labor movement has evolved from often discriminatory positions in the 19th and early 20th centuries to progressive stands today, fighting for equality for all people,” says Labor Archivist Ben Blake. “It reveals the great story of the ongoing transformation of both the labor movement and America.”

The historical archives of the AFL-CIO, a gift from the labor federation in 2013, dates back to the mid-19th century and fills approximately 20,000 boxes. It is the largest such donation to the university and has helped establish the university as a top archival repository for labor history.  

For Liberty, Justice and Equality: Unions Making History in America” runs through July 2018. The exhibit was curated by Labor Archivist Ben Blake, along with Assistant Labor Archivist Jennifer Eidson, and Graduate Assistants Jennifer Wachtel and Erin Berry. Jennifer Paul designed the exhibit. An opening reception will be held Friday, Oct. 6, 2017, 5:00 – 7:00 p.m.

Photo of International Ladies' Garment Workers Union Protest After the Triangle Shirtwaist Factory FirePhoto: International Ladies’ Garment Workers’ Union protest after the Triangle Shirtwaist factory fire, which cost 146 workers their lives, and led to new laws for better working conditions, New York, 1911. Samuel Gompers Papers (Editorial Project).

 

 

 

Photo of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. in a picket line in support of a strike by union members

 

 

 

 

Photo: Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. joins a picket line in support of a strike by union members against discrimination at the Scripto Pen Company. Many of the strikers beloned to his church, Atlanta, 1964. AFL-CIO Still Images, Photographic Prints Collection.

 

 

University of Maryland Announces Unprecedented Investment from the A. James & Alice B. Clark Foundation

October 4, 2017
Contacts: 

Jessica Jennings, 301-405-4618
Kerry-Ann Hamilton, 202-215-0131 

COLLEGE PARK, Md. - The University of Maryland announced today a transformative investment of $219,486,000 from the A. James & Alice B. Clark Foundation. Building Together: An Investment for Maryland will increase college access and affordability, inspire the next generation of engineering leaders and spark innovations that tackle today’s most daunting problems. 

Photo of President Loh, Dean Hines, Clark Foundation holding scroll with investment amount This investment, the largest in UMD history and among the largest to a public research institution in the 21st century, will propel UMD and the A. James Clark School of Engineering to the forefront of education and research by establishing and funding an array of need-based scholarships, graduate fellowships, distinguished faculty chairs and operational and capital projects. 

“This investment is historic in scope and transformational in impact, and I do not say this lightly,” University of Maryland President Wallace D. Loh said. “Access to higher education is essential, if we are to solve urgent national problems. Creating this path for the most promising students in engineering and other fields may well prove to be Mr. Clark’s greatest legacy.” 

“Without question, my dad loved the University of Maryland,” said Courtney Clark Pastrick, board chair of the A. James & Alice B. Clark Foundation. “College Park was instrumental in educating and equipping him as an engineer and successful businessman. However, his legacy is in his community engagement and generosity. Our family and the Foundation look forward to seeing the impact of this gift in the decades to come.” 

"Thousands of University of Maryland students already wake up in dorms or study in academic halls that bear the mark of the Clark name," said Maryland Governor Larry Hogan. "Today, the Clark

Photo of James Clarkspirit of generosity is on full display yet again. With this new investment in STEM education, the Clark family and the Clark Foundation are ensuring that this university continues to be a national and global leader, where the next fearless idea is developed."

The gift was announced at an event today with Loh, Pastrick, Governor Hogan, Mrs. Alice B. Clark, Clark Foundation President Joe Del Guercio, Maryland Speaker of the House Michael Busch, and Chancellor of the University System of Maryland Robert Caret. More than 150 students who have received previous scholarships from the Clark Foundation were also in attendance. 

Increasing College Access & Affordability 

Access to an affordable college education to promising students has guided the Clark family’s longstanding investments. New scholarships and fellowships made possible by this donation build on the Foundation’s—and Mr. Clark’s—fundamental belief in connecting effort with opportunity, by helping those who demonstrate determination and perseverance. 

The Clark Challenge for Maryland Promise, a campus-wide scholarship matching program that engages the philanthropic community, aims to generate a $100 million fund to support students with financial need. In partnership with the university, the Clark Challenge grant will catalyze support from alumni and friends to ensure an education for high-performing students with the greatest need.

Building Together: An Investment for Maryland will also help expand the Clark Opportunity Transfer Scholarship Program, which supports transfer students from Maryland community colleges to pursue their engineering education at UMD. The investment will also support high-performing undergraduate engineering students with financial need with the launch of the A. James Clark Scholars Program, the Foundation’s signature academic program combining engineering, business, leadership and community service. At the University of Maryland, A. James Clark Scholars will also participate in the National Academy of Engineering’s Grand Challenges Scholars Program, charging students to solve some of engineering's greatest challenges in the 21st century, from sequestering carbon to reverse-engineering the brain. 

Building the Next Generation of Engineering Leaders 

“This investment will transform the university, and especially engineering,” said Clark School Dean and Farvardin Professor of Engineering Darryll J. Pines. “For today’s engineering students, this gift promises not only to open doors to a world-class engineering education, but also to inspire hearts and empower minds through the example set by Mr. Clark. By learning about the industry leader and philanthropist, students will feel driven to develop solutions to help people lead better lives.” 

The investment will fuel innovation that paves the way for engineering excellence at UMD by expanding the Clark School’s innovative research through programs, facilities and by recruiting promising students and faculty. The investment will also substantially increase the number of graduate fellows through the establishment of the Clark Doctoral Fellows Program. 

Solving Today’s Problems 

Building Together: An Investment for Maryland will also enable UMD to support faculty working in the interdisciplinary fields that are critical to the knowledge-based economy of the future, such as data analytics, neuroscience, virtual and augmented reality, and cybersecurity. 

Funded by the Foundation, five Clark Leadership Chairs with shared appointments in colleges across campus will conduct important cross-cutting research on emerging issues that are most pressing to the future of our global society. The Foundation will also establish eight Clark Distinguished Chairs, faculty positions that directly address the most critical research areas set forth by the 2020 Strategic Plan for the Clark School. 

To learn more about Building Together: An Investment for Maryland, visit buildingtogether.umd.edu. 

What People Are Saying About This Transformative Investment 

Photo of Clark's daughter at podium during event“For generations, public universities like the University of Maryland have opened doors to students with high potential and promise,” said Joe Del Guercio, president and CEO of the Foundation. “We know that cost remains a barrier for too many students especially first-generation college students. The Clark Foundation is committed to ensuring that college is both accessible and affordable; as a result, need-based aid and financial support to students are a cornerstone of this investment.” 

“One of the most important contributions to the quality, stature, and impact of a major university is its faculty. The Clark Leadership Chairs will make it possible to attract and retain the very best people in critically important fields such as neuroscience, virtual reality, cybersecurity, and big data—fields that are key to solving our greatest societal issues,” said Mary Ann Rankin, Senior Vice President and Provost of UMD. “The A. James & Alice B. Clark Foundation’s investment in Clark Leadership Chairs will catapult the university forward in these critically important fields, while touching programs across the entire university.” 

Building Together: An Investment for Maryland Programs

  • The Clark Challenge for Maryland Promise: Gifts from other donors in support of this new program will provide need-based scholarships to hundreds of students every year from all majors. If fully matched, this program aims to generate a $100 million fund to support students with financial need.
  • A. James Clark Scholars Program: A new program providing scholarships to 40 high-performing engineering undergraduates. Reflecting the Clarks’ commitment to the local community, priority will be given to in-state students.
  • Clark Opportunity Transfer Scholars Program: The endowment of a pilot program which will provide need-based scholarships to 40 engineering majors coming from Maryland community colleges.
  • Clark Distinguished Chairs: The creation of eight faculty chairs for stellar engineering researchers that directly address engineering’s most critical research areas, such as additive and advanced manufacturing, autonomy and robotics, and energy and sustainability.
  • Clark Leadership Chairs: The establishment and endowment of five faculty chairs throughout the campus in interdisciplinary fields that are critical to the knowledge-based economy of the future, such as data analytics, neuroscience, virtual and augmented reality, and cybersecurity.
  • Clark Doctoral Fellows Program: An endowment supporting 30 additional first-year doctoral fellowships, allowing the Clark school to increase research productivity and graduate more outstanding Ph.Ds every year.
  • New engineering building: A new space that secures the university’s stronghold in engineering innovation by helping recruit and retain world-class faculty and facilitating collaborations between disciplines with institutional and business partners.
  • IDEA Factory: An expansion of the Clark School’s signature Jeong H. Kim Engineering Building which will foster innovation with new cutting-edge labs, start-up space, and areas dedicated to cross-disciplinary research.
  • Mpact: The 125th Anniversary Fearless Ideas Mpact Challenge is the A. James Clark School of Engineering’s “moonshot” engineering program to spur innovative engineering research solutions. Commemorating the school's 125th Anniversary in 2019, this program provides funding for Clark School teams to develop solutions to engineering problems and innovations in engineering research that have the potential to improve the lives of millions of people.  

Photo of UMD students who received a Clark ScholarshipPhoto of

UMD Launches Center for Diversity and Inclusion in Higher Education

October 3, 2017
Contacts: 

Jessica Jennings, 301-405-4618

COLLEGE PARK, Md. - The University of Maryland announced the launch of the new Center for Diversity and Inclusion in Higher Education, a national hub for research, policy, professional standards, and consultation for universities on critical issues related to diversity and inclusion in higher education. 

“Issues of diversity and inclusion are rippling through colleges and universities across the country, including our own,” said UMD Senior Vice President and Provost Mary Ann Rankin. “The Center for Diversity and Inclusion in Higher Education will not only provide cutting-edge, innovative research on these key issues, but will serve as a resource to our higher education colleagues at UMD and well beyond.” 

The Center will bring together key faculty from UMD and other major universities, and major national higher education associations, to form a high level think-tank and research center for diversity and inclusion issues across the country and abroad in higher education. 

Housed in the Counseling, Higher Education, and Special Education Department of the College of Education, the Center will be led by Executive Director Roger L. Worthington, interim associate provost and chief diversity officer, and professor; and Director Candace M. Moore, assistant clinical professor. 

“We will engage with a broad range of thought leaders with expertise in diversity, equity, and inclusion in higher education representing diverse communities, governmental agencies, higher education institutions, and international partners to set an ambitious agenda for the development and distribution of research, scholarship, and best practices,” said Worthington. “We will work with colleges and universities to think through critical issues and develop customized plans to help move them forward.”

The Center aims to foster collaborative and interdisciplinary research among faculty, staff and students at the local, national, and international level; and promote, support, and showcase diversity and inclusion scholarship. Researchers will engage in critical reflection on the significance and transformative impacts of diversity and inclusion practices in higher education, and communicate the results of such research and reflection to national and international audiences. 

“By drawing on the expertise of faculty in the College of Education and across the university, the Center will provide consultation and guidance to other higher education institutions regarding diversity and inclusion,” said College of Education Dean Jennifer K. Rice. “The Center will establish a national research agenda around diversity issues in higher education and through consultation and conferences, ensure that our research informs and is informed by policy and current issues related to inclusion on campuses.” 

The Center plans to recruit postdoctoral fellows and doctoral-level graduate assistants nationally to collaborate on all Center activities; and develop and facilitate an online curriculum related to diversity and inclusion in higher education. The Center will also convene a biennial national summit of thought leaders, as well as a biennial national conference, to identify and summarize the highest priority issues, findings, and recommendations nationally regarding diversity and inclusion in higher education.

UMD Libraries Makes University History More Accessible

October 2, 2017
Contacts: 

Eric Bartheld, 301-314-0964

COLLEGE PARK, Md. -- The University of Maryland Libraries has made a large volume of archived issues of The Diamondback, the long-running independent student newspaper on campus, available on a fully searchable database. Historic issues, dating from 1910 to 1971 have been digitized in phase one of the two-part project. 

The university’s student newspaper was published under different names from 1910 through 1921. The first issue of The Diamondback was published on June 9, 1921. Issues of all eight student papers can be searched by keyword, name, decade, date and more, allowing viewers to scan through page layouts showing headlines, articles, and photos.

“This is a dream come true,” says retired University Archivist Anne Turkos, who for years advocated for an online database and spearheaded a fundraising campaign to support its creation. “Previously, researchers had to visit campus and locate articles bound in giant volumes or preserved on microfilm. This database opens Maryland history to readers worldwide.”

Scores of donors, including former Diamondback writers and editors, contributed to a crowdfunding campaign, started in 2015, which raised more than $30,000 for the project. A second fundraising campaign launches this November to complete phase two of the project – digitizing issues published after 1971.

The project draws on expertise of the University Libraries, which has digitized more than 200,000 pages of historic newspapers from the State of Maryland, using funding from the National Endowment for the Humanities. Those newspapers are freely accessible on the Library of Congress’ Chronicling America website.

For more detailed information about this project, search strategies, and special features of the database, please visit University Archives.

 

Snowball Nominations Process Drives Membership in International Scientific Panel, Reports UMD Study

October 2, 2017
Contacts: 

Sara Gavin, 301-405-1733

COLLEGE PARK, Md.— Policymakers rely on the work of international scientific panels and assessments to inform their decisions on complex scientific issues such as genetic engineering and climate change. New research from the University of Maryland (UMD) explores how the nominations process for this type of organization works, and how it may influence who serves on other, similar global scientific bodies.

Photo of international scientific panel membershipDr. Dana R. Fisher from the UMD Department of Sociology and Dr. Philip Leifeld from the University of Glasgow studied membership recruitment for the Millennium Ecosystem Assessment (MA), which synthesized research on ecosystem services between 2001 and 2005, utilizing the knowledge of 1,360 expert members. Fisher and Leifeld discovered that nominations to the MA were largely driven by pre-existing membership in other international organizations, as well as by personal relationships. Their findings were published September 25 in Nature Climate Change.

“Essentially, we discovered a snowball nomination process that skews participation in favor of scientists who are already engaged in global organizations,” Fisher said. “While there is certainly a risk associated with putting all the agenda- and composition-setting power in the hands of a few transnational elites, we also found this structure is not necessarily harming the quality of work or diversity of scientists represented in the assessment.”

Despite the cyclical nominations process, the researchers found that neither gender nor field of expertise were statistically over- or under-represented in the MA’s membership. They also determined that some core individuals in leadership roles were particularly influential in shaping the group’s overall composition.

Congress is currently debating whether to continue to fund the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), which is preparing to issue its sixth assessment report on the latest climate change research. Fisher and Leifeld note that the IPCC’s nominations process is similar to the MA’s, but not identical. Even with the differences, the researchers say there is much to learn from their findings about how recruitment to these assessments is related to who eventually serves.

“We need to look more closely at how nominations occur and what criteria are used to ensure that the best possible scientists are brought into these assessments,” said Leifeld.  Fisher adds:  “Transparency is key to making science better and more effective in shaping policy.”


Photo: Memberships of the 361 respondents as red nodes; 21 international organizations as green nodes; membership ties shown as black lines.

University of Maryland to Announce Transformative Investment, Oct. 4

September 29, 2017
Contacts: 

Natifia Mullings, 301-405-4076

COLLEGE PARK, Md. -- The University of Maryland will announce a transformative investment in the university on October 4. In a first of its kind announcement, university and government officials will unveil the investment in a celebration event for the campus community.  

WHO:

Larry Hogan, Governor, State of Maryland
Wallace Loh, President, University of Maryland
Michael Busch, Speaker, Maryland House of Delegates
Robert Caret, Chancellor, University System of Maryland
University of Maryland students, faculty and staff

WHEN:

October 4, 2017, 10:30 a.m. 
Media with video or still cameras should arrive for check-in and be set up by 9 a.m. 
All additional media should arrive prior to the event start time.

WHERE:

Samuel Riggs IV Alumni Center
Dorothy D. & Nicholas Orem Alumni Hall
7801 Alumni Dr., College Park, MD 20742
Location: https://go.umd.edu/po2

PARKING:

Parking will be available in Lot 1. Media should RSVP to secure complimentary parking.

MEDIA CHECK-IN:

Media will be required to show identification and credentials at the media check-in table outside of Orem Alumni Hall prior to entering the event. 

AUDIO:

A mult-box audio feed will be available at the event.

 

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