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Thursday, April 27, 2017

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UMD Named a 2017 Best Value College by The Princeton Review

February 24, 2017
Contacts: 

Natifia Mullings 301-405-4076

COLLEGE PARK, Md. – For the seventh consecutive year, the University of Maryland has been named a Best Value College in The Princeton Review’s latest book “Colleges That Pay You Back: The 200 Schools That Give You The Best Bang For Your Tuition Buck.” Published every year, The Princeton Review profiles the nation’s best schools for academic programs, affordability and career prospect. 

According to The Princeton Review, the University of Maryland offers a comprehensive aid program for students who demonstrate financial need and boasts a full suite of merit-based scholarships, making a UMD degree an exceptional value. This includes a prestigious merit scholarship, the President’s scholarship, and several national merit, creative and performing arts and departmental scholarships.

In addition to its affordability, the University of Maryland is highlighted for its diversity, outstanding honors programs and special access to agencies, companies, and organizations within its community. 

“More than 100 undergraduate degrees are offered here, and the university’s location near Washington, D.C. means that top-notch research and internship opportunities are literally in your backyard," said the book’s editors.

The Princeton Review evaluated 650 U.S. universities based on 40 indicators, including academic quality, cost, availability of financial aid, graduation rates, student debt, alumni salaries and job satisfaction.

UMD has performed well in a variety of national rankings. Maryland ranked No. 14 among American public universities, according to Forbes Magazine. The university also ranked No. 8 for “best value” for in-state students and No. 10 for out-of-state-students in the Kiplinger’s Personal Finance Magazine. The Princeton Review and Entrepreneur Magazine ranked UMD No. 9 for its undergraduate entrepreneurship program. 

 

University of Maryland Recognized as a Top Producer of U.S. Fulbright Students

February 23, 2017
Contacts: 

Natifia Mullings 301-405-4076

COLLEGE PARK, Md. —The University of Maryland has been named to the list of American colleges and universities that produced the most 2016-2017 Fulbright U.S. Students by the U.S. Department of State’s Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs. 

Fifteen UMD students and alumni were awarded a Fulbright grant to study, conduct research or teach English around the world. This year’s recipients include five seniors, six graduate students, and four alumni who will travel to various countries to facilitate projects in academic specialty areas such as dance, environmental science, public health, biology, international relations, history, and geography.

Read more about UMD’s Fulbright winners

Since its inception in 1946, the Fulbright Program has provided more than 370,000 participants—chosen for their academic merit and leadership potential — with the opportunity to exchange ideas and contribute to finding solutions to shared international concerns. Over 1,900 U.S. students, artists and young professionals in more than 100 different fields of study are offered Fulbright Program grants to study, teach English, and conduct research annually. The Fulbright U.S. Student Program operates in over 140 countries throughout the world.  

The top Fulbright-producing institutions are highlighted in the Feb. 21 edition of The Chronicle of Higher Education.

 

 

 

 

UMD Researchers Use Space Laser Technology to Explain Dry Season Growth in Amazon Rainforest

February 22, 2017
Contacts: 

Sara Garvin 301-405-1733

COLLEGE PARK, Md.For more than a decade, scientists have debated what’s known as the “green up” phenomenon in the Amazon rainforest—when vegetation appears to thrive and grow fuller during the dry season with little or no rainfall. While some researchers have supported hypotheses that drought-induced growth does occur in the Amazon, others have argued it is more likely an optical illusion created by shadows cast from satellite positioning.

Photo of seasonal changes in canopy and understory over the AmazonNew research from the University of Maryland Department of Geographical Sciences published in the Proceedings of the National Academies of Sciences (PNAS) utilizes lidar satellite technology to more accurately measure seasonal changes in leaf area within the Amazon. Research Associate Hao Tang and Professor Ralph Dubayah analyzed data sets collected from NASA’s Geoscience Laser Altimeter System (GLAS) and found strong evidence of green up during the dry season in both the tree canopy and the underbrush; just not at the same time.

“Trees in the Amazon forests not only respond to seasonal environmental changes, but also have active ecological interactions as a community,” Tang said. “Tall trees grow leaves at the early dry season when both water and light are abundant; they then drop leaves during the mid-to-late dry season, not only protecting themselves from drought but also helping understory and small trees grow.”

“This pattern is easily missed if you average over the entire Amazon basin because it progresses, almost like a wave, from south to north, with the dry season,” Dubayah added. “There is a plausible, ecological explanation for this: Light is driving the growth of the canopy in the early dry season and light from small gaps in the canopy that form later in the dry season drive the growth of the small shrubs and trees near the forest floor.”

The UMD researchers stress the need for better lidar observations of the Amazon’s canopy structure from space in order to more fully understand how rainforests respond to environmental and climate changes. Dubayah leads UMD’s Global Ecosystem Dynamics Investigation (GEDI), a NASA-funded mission to place a multi-beam laser instrument on the International Space Station in late 2018.

“The GEDI mission is optimized precisely to make these kinds of difficult measurements possible. It will provide more than 15 billion cloud-free observations during its 18-month mission and should greatly enhance our ability to understand canopy dynamics in the Amazon and elsewhere,” Dubayah said.  


Photo caption: Seasonal changes in canopy and understory over the Amazon

 

UMD Physicist Improves Method for Designing Experimental Fusion Reactors

February 15, 2017
Contacts: 

Matthew Wright 301-405-9267

Photo of new stellarator coils

COLLEGE PARK, Md. – Development of nuclear fusion—the process that powers stars—into a viable source for energy on Earth remains far in the future. However, a new software advance created by University of Maryland physicist Matt Landreman could help speed the process a bit by bringing down the cost and time needed to build stellarators, one of the two types of complex nuclear fusion reactors used to explore fusion’s potential as an energy source.

Stellarators work by generating a ring of blazing-hot plasma inside a precisely shaped magnetic field generated by a complex arrangement of external electromagnetic coils. Landreman's new method is better at balancing tradeoffs between the ideal magnetic field shape and potential coil shapes, resulting in designs with more space between the coils. This extra space allows better access for repairs and more places to install sensors.

Inside a fusion reactor, when the plasma gets to several million degrees—as hot as the interior of the sun—atomic nuclei begin to fuse together, releasing massive amounts of energy. Modern computer-aided designs for the complex configuration required for stellarators has boosted interest in these reactors—the first of which were designed and built in the 1950s—versus the competing fusion reactor design known as the tokamak.

To build a rare and expensive stellarator reactor, engineers first use a series of algorithms to create exacting plans for the design of the elaborate ring of electromagnetic coils. The wide variety of possible coil shapes that can generate identical magnetic fields, adds levels of complexity to this design process. Landreman is one of the few researchers who have studied how to choose the best among all potential coil shapes for a specific stellarator.

Through this work, he has made an important revision to one of the most common software tools used to design stellarators. Landreman’s new method is described in a paper published February 13, 2017 in the journal Nuclear Fusion.

“Instead of optimizing only the magnetic field shape, this new method considers the complexity of the coil shapes simultaneously. So there is a bit of a tradeoff,” said Landreman, an assistant research scientist at the UMD Institute for Research in Electronics and Applied Physics (IREAP) and sole author of the research paper. “It’s a bit like buying a car. You might want the cheapest car, but you also want the safest car. Both features can be at odds with each other, so you have to find a way to meet in the middle.”

Researchers used the previous method, called the Neumann Solver for Fields Produced by External Coils (NESCOIL) and first described in 1987, to design many of the stellarators in operation today—including the Wendelstein 7-X (W7-X). The largest stellarator in existence, W7-X began operation in 2015 at the Max Planck Institute of Plasma Physics in Germany.

“Most designs, including W7-X, started with a specifically shaped magnetic field to confine the plasma well. Then the designers shaped the coils to create this magnetic field,” Landreman explained. “But this method typically required a lot of trial-and-error with the coil design tools to avoid coils coming too close together, making them infeasible to build, or leaving too little space to access the plasma chamber for maintenance.”

Landreman’s new method, which he calls Regularized NESCOIL—or REGCOIL for short—gets around this by tackling the coil spacing issue of stellarator design in tandem with the shaping of the magnetic field itself. The result, Landreman said, is a fast, more robust process that yields better coil shapes on the first try.

“In mathematics, we’d call stellarator coil design an ‘ill-posed problem,’ meaning there are a lot of potential solutions. Finding the best solution is highly dependent on posing the problem in the right way,” Landreman said. “REGCOIL does exactly that by simplifying coil shapes in a way that the problem can be solved very efficiently.”

Modeling tests performed by Landreman suggest that the designs produced by REGCOIL confine hot plasma in a desirable shape, while significantly increasing the minimum distances between coils.

“This field is still in the basic research stage, and every new design is totally unique,” Landreman said. “With these incompatible features to balance, there will always be different points where you can decide to strike a compromise. The REGCOIL method allows engineers to examine and model many different points along this spectrum.”

The research paper, “An improved current potential method for fast computation of stellarator coil shapes,” Matt Landreman, was published February 13, 2017 in the journal Nuclear Fusion. 

This work was supported by the United States Department of Energy (Award Nos. DE-FG02-93ER54197 and DE-AC02-05CH11231). The content of this article does not necessarily reflect the views of this organization.


 Photo caption: The solid lines are shapes made by the old software, while the dotted lines are shapes made by the new software. Matt Landreman/University of Maryland physicist.

 

 

 

University of Maryland Blood Test Offers Potential Aid in Schizophrenia Diagnosis

February 13, 2017
Contacts: 

Alyssa Wolice 301-405-3936

COLLEGE PARK, MD. — Researchers from the University of Maryland College Park (UMD) and Baltimore (UMB) campuses have developed a blood test that could help doctors more quickly diagnose schizophrenia and other disorders. Their study, “Redox Probing for Chemical Information of Oxidative Stress,” was recently published in the journal Analytical Chemistry.

“We hope our new technique will allow a more rapid detection and intervention for schizophrenia, and ultimately lead to better outcomes,” said Gregory Payne, one of the authors and a joint professor with UMD’s Fischell Department of Bioengineering (BIOE) and the Institute for Bioscience and Biotechnology Research (IBBR).  IBBR is a partnership of the University of Maryland College Park, the University of Maryland Baltimore (UMB), and the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST).

Schizophrenia is a chronic, severe mental disorder that affects approximately one percent of the U.S. adult population and influences how a person thinks, feels, and behaves. The onset of symptoms usually begins between ages 16 and 30. Symptoms can range from visual and auditory hallucinations and movement disorders to difficulty beginning and sustaining activities.

Currently, diagnosing schizophrenia and similar disorders requires a thorough psychological evaluation and a comprehensive medical exam to rule out other conditions. A patient may be evaluated for six months or more before receiving a diagnosis and beginning treatment, particularly if he or she shows only early signs of the disorder.

Recent studies have indicated that patient outcomes could be improved if the time elapsed between the onset of symptoms and the initiation of treatment is much shorter. For this reason, researchers believe a chemical test that could detect oxidative stress in the blood—a state commonly linked with schizophrenia and other psychiatric disorders—could be invaluable in helping to diagnose schizophrenia more quickly.

The UMD and UMB team, led by IBBR research associate Eunkyoung Kim, used a discovery-driven approach based on the assumptions that chemical biomarkers relating to oxidative stress could be found in blood, and that they could be measured by common electrochemical instruments.

Building on an understanding of how foods are tested for antioxidants, an iridium salt was used to probe blood serum samples for detectable optical and electrochemical signals that indicate oxidative stress in the body. The promising initial tests have shown various biological reductants can be detected, including glutathione, the most prominent antioxidant in the body.

The group worked with professor of psychiatry Deanna Kelly and her team at the Maryland Psychiatric Research Center, University of Maryland School of Medicine, to perform an initial clinical evaluation using serum samples from 10 clinical research study participants who had been diagnosed with schizophrenia, and a healthy control group. Using the new testing method, the research group was able to correctly differentiate the samples of those who had been diagnosed with schizophrenia from those who had no history of the disorder.

“Much emerging data suggests that schizophrenia and other psychiatric disorders may be due, in part, to inflammation and oxidative stress abnormalities,” Kelly said. “Current methods for measuring these potential biomarkers are not standardized and have many flaws. Our team is excited to work with our collaborators at the University of Maryland, College Park to help develop a technique that can more globally measure these outcomes. Being able to have a subjective marker for clinical response or aid in more prompt diagnosis could be revolutionary.”

Researchers from the university’s Fischell Department of Bioengineering (BIOE), Institute for Bioscience and Biotechnology Research (IBBR), Institute for Systems Research (ISR), Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering (ECE) and MEMS Sensors and Actuators Laboratory (MSAL), as well as the University of Maryland School of Medicine’s Psychiatric Research Center contributed to the paper. The full list of authors is: Eunkyoung Kim (BIOE/IBBR), Thomas E. Winkler (BIOE/MSAL), Christopher Kitchen (Maryland Psychiatric Research Center), Mijeong Kang (BIOE/IBBR), George Banis (BIOE/MSAL), William Bentley (BIOE/IBBR), Deanna Kelly (Maryland Psychiatric Research Center, University of Maryland School of Medicine), Reza Ghodssi (ISR/ECE/MSAL/BIOE), and Gregory Payne (BIOE/IBBR).

This research is supported by the National Science Foundation, the Defense Threat Reduction Agency, and the National Institutes of Health.

DeVos Institute at UMD Launches Online Course – The Cycle: Management of Successful Arts and Cultural Organizations

February 13, 2017
Contacts: 

Jarred Small 301-314-2531

WASHINGTON, D.C. — The DeVos Institute of Arts Management at the University of Maryland, a global leader in providing training, consultation, and implementation support for arts managers and their boards, announces a free online course for arts managers, students, and arts enthusiasts around the globe as one of the University’s Massive Open Online Courses (MOOCs). 


Taught by DeVos Institute Chairman Michael M. Kaiser and President Brett Egan, the six-week course introduces participants to a management philosophy called The Cycle, the Institute’s theory of organizational activity that prioritizes investment in great art. The course is designed for those who are interested in learning how to support thriving arts and cultural organizations regardless of art form, geography, or size.
 

Learning from their work with managers from over 80 countries around the world, the DeVos Institute developed The Cycle as a simple, but powerful tool to assist managers in their effort to respond to an increasingly complex environment and propel their institutions to excellence. The Cycle is explained further by Kaiser and Egan in their formative book The Cycle: A Practical Approach to Managing Arts Organizations. 

“The Cycle reflects what I have learned in my 32-year arts management career,” said Kaiser. “Arts organizations that thrive are the ones that create exciting and surprising art, market that art well and build a family of supporters year in and year out. This MOOC is intended to help arts leaders and board members to create this cycle in their organizations."

Students of the course have responded positively to the opportunity to learn first-hand what it takes to run a successful cultural operation. “It's a great course for small and large organizations to undertake when starting out, or as a refresher,” said one participant. “All arts-related organizations probably do some version of The Cycle on a daily basis, but it's the way the course is laid out in a simple format that wills all of us to become more efficient in our time.” 

The course includes lectures, case studies from managers around the United States and the world, and activities to assist participants in applying the principles of The Cycle in an organizational setting. 

By taking the course, participants will learn: 

  • the importance of bold, exciting, and mission-driven programming in an organization;
  • how long-term artistic planning can help an organization produce this work;
  • how an organization can aggressively market that programming and the institution behind it to develop a family of supporters - including ticket buyers, board members, donors, trustees and volunteers;
  • how an organization can cultivate and steward this family to build a healthy base of earned and contributed income; and
  • how an organization can reinvest that income into increasingly ambitious programming year after year. 

“As a leading public research university, the University of Maryland is thrilled to work with our DeVos Institute of Arts Management to use MOOCs as a way to increase the reach of the DeVos Institute, helping nonprofits worldwide with effective tools to strengthen their organizations,” said Ben Bederson, Associate Provost of Learning Initiatives at the University of Maryland. 


“It is a unique offering aimed at overcoming the challenges these valued institutions face, providing richer support, and going beyond the book, while being so much more accessible than a trip around the world to attend a course,” added UMD’s MOOC program manager, Bill Aarhus.

The next weekly session will begin March 6. New sessions will begin each month. Participants may enroll at www.DeVosInstitute.net/TheCycleOnlineCourse. All course material is available on demand upon enrollment for self-paced learners.

The online course is made possible with the support of the University of Maryland. 

 

It's More than Just Climate Change

February 9, 2017
Contacts: 

Lee Tune 301-405-4679

COLLEGE PARK, Md. – A new scientific paper by a University of Maryland-led international team of distinguished scientists, including five members of the National Academies, argues that there are critical two-way feedbacks missing from current climate models that are used to inform environmental, climate, and economic policies. The most important inadequately-modeled variables are inequality, consumption, and population.

In this research, the authors present extensive evidence of the need for a new paradigm of modeling that incorporates the feedbacks that the Earth System has on humans, and propose a framework for future modeling that would serve as a more realistic guide for policymaking and sustainable development.

 

Twelve of the interdisciplinary team of 20 coauthors are from the University of Maryland, with multiple other universities (Northeastern University, Columbia University, George Mason University, Johns Hopkins University, and Brown University) and other institutions (Joint Global Change Research Institute, University Corporation for Atmospheric Research, the Institute for Global Environment and Society, Japan’s RIKEN research institute, and NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center) also represented.

 

The study explains that the Earth System (e.g., atmosphere, ocean, land, and biosphere) provides the Human System (e.g., humans and their production, distribution, and consumption) not only the sources of its inputs (e.g., water, energy, biomass, and materials) but also the sinks (e.g., atmosphere, oceans, rivers, lakes, and lands) that absorb and process its outputs (e.g., emissions, pollution, and other wastes).

 

Titled "Modeling Sustainability: Population, Inequality, Consumption, and Bidirectional Coupling of the Earth and Human Systems", the paper describes how the rapid growth in resource use, land-use change, emissions, and pollution has made humanity the dominant driver of change in most of the Earth’s natural systems, and how these changes, in turn, have critical feedback effects on humans with costly and serious consequences, including on human health and well-being, economic growth and development, and even human migration and societal conflict. However, the paper argues that these two-way interactions ("bidirectional coupling") are not included in the current models.

 

The Oxford University Press's multidisciplinary journal National Science Review, which published the paper, has highlighted the work in its current issue, pointing out that "the rate of change of atmospheric concentrations of CO2, CH4, and N2O [the primary greenhouse gases] increased by over 700, 1000, and 300 times (respectively) in the period after the Green Revolution when compared to pre-industrial rates." See Figure 1 from the Highlights article, reproduced below.


"Many datasets, for example, the data for the total concentration of atmospheric greenhouse gases, show that human population has been a strong driver of the total impact of humans on our planet Earth. This is seen particularly after the two major accelerating regime shifts: Industrial Revolution (~1750) and Green Revolution (~1950)" said Safa Motesharrei, UMD systems scientist and lead author of the paper. "For the most recent time, we show that the total impact has grown on average ~4 percent between 1950 and 2010, with almost equal contributions from population growth (~1.7 percent) and GDP per capita growth (~2.2 percent). This corresponds to a doubling of the total impact every ~17 years. This doubling of the impact is shockingly rapid."

"However, these human impacts can only truly be understood within the context of economic inequality,” pointed out political scientist and co-author Jorge Rivas of the Institute for Global Environment and Society. "The average per capita resource use in wealthy countries is 5 to 10 times higher than in developing countries, and the developed countries are responsible for over three quarters of cumulative greenhouse gas emissions from 1850 to 2000."

University of Maryland geographer and co-author Klaus Hubacek added: "The disparity is even greater when inequality within countries is included. For example, about 50 percent of the world’s people live on less than $3 per day, 75 percent on less than $8.50, and 90 percent on less than $23. One effect of this inequality is that the top 10 percent produce almost as much total carbon emissions as the bottom 90 percent combined."

The study explains that increases in economic inequality, consumption per capita, and total population are all driving this rapid growth in human impact, but that the major scientific models of Earth-Human System interaction do not bidirectionally (interactively) couple Earth System Models with the primary Human System drivers of change such as demographics, inequality, economic growth, and migration.

The researchers argue that current models instead generally use independent, external projections of those drivers. "This lack of two-way coupling makes current models likely to miss critical feedbacks in the combined Earth-Human system," said National Academy of Engineering member and co-author Eugenia Kalnay, a Distinguished University Professor of Atmospheric and Oceanic Science at the University of Maryland.

"It would be like trying to predict El Niño with a sophisticated atmospheric model, but with the Sea Surface Temperatures taken from external, independent projections by, for example, the United Nations," said Kalnay. "Without including the real feedbacks, predictions for coupled systems cannot work; the model will get away from reality very quickly."

"Ignoring this bidirectional coupling of the Earth and Human Systems can lead to missing something important, even decisive, for the fate of our planet and our species," said co-author Mark Cane, G. Unger Vetlesen Professor of Earth and Climate Sciences at Columbia University’s Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory, who recently won the Vetlesen Prize for creating the first coupled ocean–atmosphere model with feedbacks that successfully predicted El Niño.

"The result of not dynamically modeling these critical Human-Earth System feedbacks would be that the environmental challenges humanity faces may be significantly underestimated. Moreover, there’s no explicit role given to policies and investments to actively shape the course in which the dynamics unfold. Rather, as the models are designed now, any intervention — almost by definition — comes from the outside and is perceived as a cost," said co-author Matthias Ruth, Director and Professor at the School of Public Policy and Urban Affairs, Northeastern University. "Such modeling, and the mindset that goes with it, leaves no room for creativity in solving some of the most pressing challenges."

"The paper correctly highlights that other human stressors, not only the climate ones, are very important for long-term sustainability, including the need to reduce inequality'', said Carlos Nobre (not a co-author), one of the world’s leading Earth System scientists, who recently won the prestigious Volvo Environment Prize in Sustainability for his role in understanding and protecting the Amazon. "Social and economic equality empowers societies to engage in sustainable pathways, which includes, by the way, not only the sustainable use of natural resources but also slowing down population growth, to actively diminish the human footprint on the environment."

Michael Mann, Distinguished Professor and Director of the Earth System Science Center at Penn State University, who was not a co-author of the paper, commented: "We cannot separate the issues of population growth, resource consumption, the burning of fossil fuels, and climate risk. They are part of a coupled dynamical system, and, as the authors show, this has dire potential consequences for societal collapse. The implications couldn’t be more profound."

"Modeling Sustainability: Population, Inequality, Consumption, and Bidirectional Coupling of the Earth and Human Systems" is available at: https://academic.oup.com/nsr/article/doi/10.1093/nsr/nww081/2669331/Modeling-Sustainability-Population-Inequality and https://doi.org/10.1093/nsr/nww081

 

 

UMD Biological Sciences Senior Elfadil Osman Named 2017 Gates Cambridge Scholar

February 9, 2017
Contacts: 

Abby Robinson 301-405-5845

COLLEGE PARK, Md.– University of Maryland senior Elfadil Osman has been named a 2017 Gates Cambridge Scholar. The Gates Cambridge Scholarship, which allows students outside of the United Kingdom to pursue graduate study at the University of Cambridge, is considered one of the most prestigious academic awards available to college graduates. Osman is the university’s second Gates Cambridge Scholar, following in the footsteps of Krzysztof Franaszek (B.S. ’13, biological sciences; B.A. ’13, economics). 

“Elfadil is a remarkable young man,” said Norma Allewell, professor emerita in the UMD Department of Cell Biology and Molecular Genetics. “He is equally passionate about biomedical research and contributing to society, and he has a compelling personal vision of how he can meld the two.” 

Osman—who is majoring in biological sciences with a specialization in physiology and neurobiology, and minoring in creative writing—plans to use the scholarship toward a Ph.D. in biochemistry at the University of Cambridge. His long-term plans include pursuing an academic career studying infectious diseases. 

“My passion for science developed late because I wanted to make a difference in the Islamic world in which I grew up and I thought that studying law was a far better bet,” said Osman, who is Sudanese and emigrated with his family from Saudi Arabia to the United States at five years old. “My future path changed in 12th grade while working on an independent research project. My mentor, Dr. A. Kwame Nyame, a professor at the University of Maryland, Eastern Shore, showed me that science could be used as a tool to fight injustice—a tool that could mitigate or perhaps even eradicate an infectious disease whose burdens fall heaviest on those with the least resources.” 

The infectious disease Osman wishes to eradicate is malaria. Growing up, he witnessed the destructive impact malaria had on his own family and others in nearby villages in northern Sudan. Today, he pursues research projects that allow him to gain a better understanding of malaria and Plasmodium, the parasite that causes malaria. 

Osman spent the past two summers studying Plasmodium gene expression in the laboratory of Joseph DeRisi, professor of biochemistry and biophysics at the University of California, San Francisco, School of Medicine. This research, which was funded by the Howard Hughes Medical
Institute Exceptional Research Opportunities Program (EXROP), led to a poster presentation by Osman at the Annual Biomedical Research Conference for Minority Students last November. 

With his Gates Cambridge Scholarship, Osman plans to expand his understanding of Plasmodium gene expression and help identify novel antimalarial targets by working with Christopher Howe, professor of plant biochemistry at the University of Cambridge. 

In addition to conducting malaria research, Osman also spent time in UMD laboratories during his undergraduate career helping to develop a universal influenza vaccine and studying the pathogen that causes Chagas’ disease and African sleeping sickness. 

Among his many community service activities, Osman helps lead Students Helping Honduras, an international organization dedicated to providing Honduran youth with educational opportunities to mitigate the effects of gang violence and poverty. In addition to fundraising for school supplies and equipment, Osman travels to Honduras each winter to help local community members build new schools. 

He also serves as co-chair of the College Success Scholars program, which aims to combat the low retention rate of minority males at UMD. He leads the program’s efforts to design and implement a support system that facilitates student success inside and outside of the classroom. 

As a student in the university’s Gemstone Honors Program, Osman’s team is investigating political polarization and how an individual’s definition and rank-order of values influence his or her political and moral decision-making. The team hopes its findings will identify a role personality could play as an indicator of voting patterns. 

“Elfadil is an exceptional young man who epitomizes the value of an honors education at a public research university,” said Susan Dwyer, Osman’s Gemstone team mentor and executive director of the Honors College at UMD. “He is an exciting scientist and a reflective human being fully attuned to the ethical dimensions of his work. I have enjoyed being regularly on the receiving end of Elfadil’s probing questions for the past three years.” 

Osman is a Banneker/Key Scholar and a member of the W.E.B. DuBois Honor Society and the Primannum Honor Society. He also enjoys reading and writing short stories, with a special interest in the literary forms associated with magical realism. 

“The first thing you notice about Elfadil is his imagination,” said Richard Bell, a UMD associate professor of history who serves as UMD’s faculty advisor for United Kingdom fellowships. “He is not only a first-rate scientist with an instinct for attacking difficult problems from unusual directions, he’s also a very talented creative writer. He thinks big, dreams big and will accomplish great things.” 

The Gates Cambridge Scholarship program was established in 2000 by a $210 million donation from the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation to the University of Cambridge. Over 1,600 scholarships have been awarded to students from 104 countries to date, with 36 awarded to U.S. students in 2017. 

The scholarships, which are for three years but may be extended for a fourth year, provide university fees, cost of living expenses, and fares to and from the United States. Additional funding is available for other expenses, such as attending conference and courses.

Pages

April 24
Explore UMD’s world of Fearless Ideas with more than 400 free, educational, family-friendly and interactive events. Read
April 21
Six student-run teams to pitch efforts to Do Good on campus, locally and nationwide. Read
April 20
15 projects will help improve sustainability on UMD campus and in the local community.  Read