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UMD Capitol Hill Forum Addresses Health Disparities Research & Action for Equity

September 23, 2016
Contacts: 

Contacts: Elise Carbonaro, 301-405-6501

COLLEGE PARK, Md. – The University of Maryland, in collaboration with Rep. John P. Sarbanes and the Big Ten Academic Alliance, recently convened more than 100 people for a Research on the Hill forum focused on strategies to achieve health equity at the Rayburn House Office Building in Washington, D.C. Moderated by Stephen B. Thomas, Ph.D., professor and director of the Maryland Center for Health Equity in the UMD School of Public Health, the panel discussion engaged experts from academia, federal health agencies and the private business sector in a candid conversation about how to eliminate racial and ethnic health disparities among vulnerable populations.

“Our exploratory research holds the solutions to many of the most challenging problems of our day,” said UMD Vice President and Chief Research Officer Patrick G. O’Shea, Ph.D. “As a university, it is our mission to create and understand knowledge to develop better ways to house and heal and fuel and feed our people in advanced societies that are just, secure, and free. Achieving health equity touches on the ‘heal’ aspect of that mission.”

The topics ranged from the progress that has been made in access to medical care as a result of the Affordable Care Act (ACA) to challenges that still remain in improving quality of care and in making the medical care system incorporate public health and address the social determinants of health that prevent people from acting health promotion and disease prevention recommendations. 

“The state of Maryland has embraced the ACA and there is clear evidence that the new incentives are indeed moving hospital systems away from a fee-for-service business model to one that rewards quality care and positive health outcomes over the volume of procedures,” said Thomas. “While the transition is not perfect, our state is a national leader for what the future of health care will look like.”

Panel members shared examples of effective and innovative community-based health interventions and public-private partnerships that are making a difference through culturally-tailored health promotion and disease prevention services, and highlighted the emergence of social determinants of health such as poverty, discrimination and residential segregation as factors that must be overcome.

 “I’m convinced that if you address racial and ethnic disparities with respect to the delivery of health care and health care coverage in this country, you will build the best health care system we can possibly have because diversity is our country’s hallmark,” said Congressman Sarbanes, who, as a member of the House Energy and Commerce Committee, has been a tireless advocate for improving healthcare quality and addressing health disparities.
 
To achieve health equity, researchers, policymakers, and industry leaders must address broader issues beyond the traditional biomedical model and build trust between those who control health care delivery system and those who have lost hope in the system, said members of the panel. 

The panelists recommended that health equity be incorporated into all public policies, not just those related to health care, to reduce and ultimately eliminate health disparities. 

Panel members included:

  • Margo Edmunds, Ph.D., Vice President, Evidence Generation and Translation at Academy Health;
  • J. Nadine Gracia, M.D., M.S.C.E., Deputy Assistant Secretary for Minority Health and Director of the Office of Minority Health within the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services;
  • Julia Huggins, President of Cigna Mid-Atlantic;
  • Kolawole Okuyemi, M.D., MPH, Professor of the Department of Family Medicine and Community Health, Director of the Program in Health Disparities Research and Inaugural Endowed Chair for Health Equity at the University of Minnesota; and
  • Eliseo Pérez-Stable, M.D., Director of the National Institute on Minority Health and Health Disparities at the National Institutes of Health.

House Democratic Whip Steny H. Hoyer, who represents Maryland’s 5th Congressional District and is a distinguished UMD alumnus, also joined the event and emphasized that as an interconnected community, we should all care about health disparities.
 
“It is unacceptable that in the United States, where all are created equal in the words of our Declaration of Independence, that one’s access to healthcare may be higher or lower as a result of race, gender, or income,” said Congressman Hoyer. “Everybody being healthy is of concern to each and every one of us.”
 
He discussed how we must continue to defend the patient protections that Americans are benefiting from thanks to the ACA, such as the no-cost access to preventive services like mammograms and immunizations, as well as remind people of the dramatic increase in the number of people, particularly people of color, who now have health coverage as a result.

The event was held as part of the University of Maryland’s Research on the Hill series, which is aimed at raising awareness of research with great societal significance.

View the conversation at: https://youtu.be/HPedKr0jZLQ

UMD Study Finds Connecting Uninsured Patients to Primary Care Could Reduce ER Use

May 6, 2015
Contacts: 

Kelly Blake 301-405-9418
Hillery Tsumba 301-628-3425

Montgomery County, Md. Initiative Could Improve Health, Reduce Costs

COLLEGE PARK, Md. – An intervention to connect low-income uninsured and Medicaid patients to a reliable source of primary health care shows promise for reducing avoidable use of hospital emergency departments in Maryland. A University of Maryland School of Public Health study evaluating the results of the intervention was published this week in the May issue of the journal Health Affairs

For twenty years, use of hospital emergency departments has been on the rise in the United States, particularly among low-income patients who face barriers to accessing health care outside of hospitals, including not having an identifiable primary health care provider. Almost half of emergency room visits are considered “avoidable.” The Emergency Department-Primary Care Connect Initiative of the Primary Care Coalition, which ran from 2009 through 2011, linked low-income uninsured and Medicaid patients to safety-net health clinics. 

“Our study found that uninsured patients with chronic health issues – such as those suffering from hypertension, diabetes, asthma, COPD, congestive heart failure, depression or anxiety – relied less on the emergency department after they were linked to a local health clinic for ongoing care,” says Dr. Karoline Mortensen, assistant professor of health services administration at the University of Maryland School of Public Health and senior researcher. “Connecting patients to primary care and expanding the availability of these safety-net clinics could reduce emergency department visits and provide better continuity of care for vulnerable populations.”  

Funded by a grant from the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services and the Maryland Department of Health and Mental Hygiene, the initiative engaged all five of the hospitals operating in Montgomery County, Maryland at the time, and four safety-net clinics serving low-income patients. Using “patient navigators,” individuals trained to help patients find the care they need and can afford, these hospitals referred more than 10,000 low-income, uninsured and Medicaid patients who visited emergency departments to four local primary care clinics, with the goal of encouraging them to establish an ongoing relationship with the clinic and reduce their reliance on costly emergency department care. 

Two hospitals in Montgomery County who participated in the intervention continued the program after the initial grant period concluded because of the benefits they saw for patients and for reducing emergency department visits and associated costs. These hospitals are currently testing a new version of the intervention specifically deigned to link emergency department patients with behavioral health conditions to appropriate community-based services. 

While hospital administrators and health policy experts throughout the country are recognizing that access to primary care improves continuity of care for patients and reduces avoidable use of emergency departments, the implications of this project are particularly important for hospitals in Maryland, which are now operating under a unique all-payer model for hospital payments. Within this new payment structure, Maryland hospitals will have to meet ambitious spending, quality of care, and population health goals. Reducing avoidable use of emergency departments can help in reaching these goals.

The project provides promise not only for hospitals in Maryland but throughout the nation to improve health care experiences and outcomes for their patients. Shared learning systems were an integral component of the project so participants were learning from each other and sharing best practices throughout the project and that learning has now been documented and can be replicated in other communities.

“This was an incredibly rewarding project to work on,” says Barbara H. Eldridge, Manager of Quality Improvement at the Primary Care Coalition. “We created a learning system that permits us to sustain improved communication between patients and their providers, between hospital discharge planners and community based clinics, and across five hospitals operating in Montgomery County.” The initiative has proven successful in Montgomery County, Maryland and is being replicated in communities in other parts of the country. 

“Linking Uninsured Patients Treated In The Emergency Department To Primary Care Shows Some Promise In Maryland” was written by Theresa Y. Kim, Karoline Mortensen, and Barbara Eldridge and published in the journal Health Affairs

University Launches Dynamic, Interactive Information Website UMD Right Now

December 4, 2012
Contacts: 

Crystal Brown 301-405-4618 crystalb@umd.edu

College Park, Md. – Today, the University of Maryland launched a brand-new multimedia news and information portal, UMD Right Now, which provides members of the media and the public with real-time information on the university and its extended community.

UMD Right Now replaces Newsdesk, which previously served as the university’s news hub and central resource for members of the media. The new site is aimed at reaching broader audiences and allows visitors to keep up with the latest Maryland news and events, view photos and videos and connect with the university across all of its social media platforms.

“We designed UMD Right Now to be a comprehensive, vibrant site where visitors can find new and exciting things happening at Maryland,” said Linda Martin, executive director, Web and New Media Strategies. “Through social media, video, photos and news information, we hope to engage visitors and compel the community to explore all that Maryland has to offer.”

The new website, umdrightnow.umd.edu, contains up-to-date news releases and announcements, facts and figures about the university, a searchable database of faculty and staff experts, information highlighting innovation and entrepreneurship at UMD, additional resources for news media and other campus and athletics news.

“UMD RightNow is the place to go to find out all the things happening on and around campus on any given day,” said Crystal Brown, chief communications officer. “This website brings real-time news, events and information right to your fingertips.”

For more information and contact information for the Office of University Communications, please visit umdrightnow.umd.edu.

UMD Scientists Help Develop New Drought Early Warning Tool

September 28, 2016
Contacts: 

Matthew Wright 301-405-9267

COLLEGE PARK, Md. – Farmers, ranchers, and water resource managers in North America will have more time to prepare for potentially damaging drought conditions thanks to a new Corn shows the affect of drought in Texas on Aug. 20, 2013. USDAearly warning product now available online.

Developed by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) and its partners, including the University of Maryland, The Evaporative Stress Index (ESI) provides drought warnings several weeks ahead of most other currently available drought indicators. By detecting the advance signals of plant stress, including dry soils, decreased plant transpiration and warming land temperature, ESI can raise the alarm before plants visibly dry out and lose their green appearance.
 
This new drought index (ESI) – part of NOAA’s GOES Evapotranspiration and Drought Product System (GET-D) – integrates satellite observations of land surface temperatures from NOAA’s Geostationary Operational Environmental Satellite (GOES) with vegetation information from the NOAA/NASA Visible Infrared Imaging Radiometer Suite (VIIRS). Researchers then use these observations to estimate water loss due to evaporation from the soil surface, as well as water that evaporates, or transpires, from the leaves of plants.
 
 “When vegetation is already turning brown, it’s too late. ESI is able to see the onset of vegetation stress before it gets to this state,” said Christopher Hain, an assistant research scientist at UMD’s Earth System Science Interdisciplinary Center (ESSIC) who played a key role in transitioning ESI from the research phase to NOAA operations. “There are other tools that estimate the potential for drought stress by measuring rainfall, wind speed, heat or other parameters. But ESI directly measures the actual stress on plants.”

The new product represents many years of research and support by NOAA, NASA, the University of Maryland, the U.S. Department of Agriculture, the University of Wisconsin, and the National Drought Mitigation Center.
 
The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) began developing ESI in the late 1990s under the direction of Martha Anderson, a research scientist at USDA’s Agricultural Research Service. Hain began collaborating with Anderson’s team in 2008 as part of his doctoral research at the University of Alabama in Huntsville. From the start, Hain’s main task was to help integrate ESI into NOAA’s research program, with the eventual goal of transitioning the tool from research to operations. Hain continued in this role when he joined ESSIC and the Cooperative Institute for Climate and Satellites-Maryland (CICS-MD) in 2010, with help from ESSIC/CICS-MD postdoctoral researcher Li Fang and former faculty research assistant Zhengpeng Li.

NASA contributed funds for the research phase, and after ESI showed promise as a useful tool for decision-makers, NOAA stepped in to continue building out ESI as an operational product, with UMD/ESSIC managing the development of the system and serving as a central point of collaboration for NOAA, NASA, USDA and end user partners.
 
“The University of Maryland was responsible for building this system out and transitioning it to operations at NOAA,” Hain said. “When scientists develop a new tool from a research project, there is no guarantee that it will always be available unless it has operational support. And during the research phase, much effort focuses on hindcasting to determine how well the product’s predictions matched real observations. Even the best tool is not useful until it is operationally available to help make useful predictions for the end user.”

Transitioning from aGOES evapotranspiration and drought composite map research project to NOAA operations provides end users with a robust support environment so that farmers, ranchers and other stakeholders have access to timely and reliable data, Hain explained.

“As a researcher, your work is only as good as someone else’s ability to use it. So for any effort like this, operational use is the ideal end goal,” Hain added. “Getting to this point with ESI is a testimony to its need in the drought community. NOAA essentially decided ESI is a useful product that was worth making available to the community.”

The GET-D system’s early warning potential shows great promise for rapid onset droughts, also called flash droughts. Flash droughts reach their peak intensity within weeks and usually occur during the growing season, whereas typical droughts can take months or even years to develop. Their quick onset makes flash droughts particularly devastating to farmers and ranchers who have less time to respond to the damaging conditions.

During the devastating 2012 Central Great Plains flash drought, ESI developers observed, for the first time, a rapid change in the ESI in real time. Although ESI was still in the research phase at this time, the observations served as strong evidence that ESI could provide valuable early warning to farmers, ranchers and water managers. The ESI outperformed other indicators by several weeks, suggesting moderate to severe drought conditions well before the U.S. Drought Monitor, for example.

“Droughts are one of the most common and devastating natural disasters, affecting communities across our nation,” said Mark Svoboda, co-founder of the U.S. Drought Monitor. “This new product will help communities spot and prepare for flash droughts, which come on quickly and take a heavy toll on businesses and the public.”
The team of scientists involved in developing the ESI emphasizes that this new product is just a first foundational step toward a global drought monitoring product. With several large global end-users requesting information, researchers hope to eventually expand the ESI to cover the entire world.

ESI development was funded in part by the NASA Applied Sciences Program, as well as the NOAA Modeling, Analysis, Predictions, and Projections and Societal Applications Research Programs.

UMD Researchers Team Up to Study Cybercrime Victimization over Smartphone Devices

September 27, 2016
Contacts: 

Sara Gavin  301-405-1733

COLLGE PARK, Md. – As advancing technology allows people to email, shop and even pay bills directly from their smartphones, are users setting themselves up to be easy targets for cybercrime attacks?

Researchers from the Department of Criminology and Criminal Justice and the Fraunhofer Center for Experimental Software Engineering at the University of Maryland are teaming up to try and answer this question and determine which factors make smartphone users most vulnerable to cybercrime. The research team was recently awarded a $500,000, two-year grant from the National Science Foundation (NSF) to support its scientific activity on this project. 
David Maimon, associate professor of criminology and criminal justice
“In the past, the bad guys focused on targeting computer users because desktop and laptop computers were so prevalent. Nowadays, everybody has a smartphone and so it seems the  bad guys have found a new playground for their malicious activities,” said David Maimon, an associate professor of criminology and criminal justice, and one of the project’s Principal Investigators.

According to Maimon, people open themselves up to cyberattacks through their phones in four distinct ways: by visiting suspicious websites; downloading applications that contain malicious software; opening email attachments and clicking on links sent through text messages from unknown senders; and utilizing unsecure, public Wi-Fi networks to access personal information, such as a bank account.

To give the researchers better insight into common smartphone behaviors, research scientist Lucas Layman and his team from the Fraunhofer Center for Experimental Software Engineering at UMD developed an application that collects data from smartphone users who volunteer to participate in a study. The application will allow researchers to tell when, where and how often these smartphone users talk, text, email, listen to music, surf the internet and more. It will also provide information on what types of wireless networks users are accessing, how secure those connections are, and where they are being made.

Lucas Layman, UMD computer scientist“This research is an exciting fusion of social science and computer science research. We are unobtrusively collecting behavioral data from a large number of participants using cutting edge smartphone technologies and data mining techniques, all while preserving the users’ privacy,” Layman said.

Researchers hope to recruit approximately 200 participants for the study. After Layman’s team collects the smartphone data, Maimon will pair the information with questionnaires completed by participants about their personal characteristics, as well as records from the U.S. Census Bureau and neighborhood maps provided by Google Street View. 

“Appending all this information together will allow us to pinpoint some of the environmental and individual factors that determine a person’s susceptibility to cybercrime over a smartphone,” Maimon said. “By doing this type of research, we hope to find ways to educate smartphone users with respect to the security-related issues that are out there as well as guide smartphone developers’ efforts to develop more secure devices in the first place.”

The NSF award number for this project is 1617301.

MD Professors & Alumnus Named 2016 Thomson Reuters Citation Laureates for Science of Chaos Work

September 26, 2016
Contacts: 

Abby Robinson 301-405-5845, Lee Tune 301-405-4679

COLLEGE PARK, Md. – Two professors and an alumnus from the University of Maryland have been selected as 2016 Thomson Reuters Citation Laureates in physics. The Citation Laureates program, begun in 2002, uses a variety of criteria, including scientific research citations, to identify the most influential researchers who are likely to win a Nobel Prize. To date, 39 researchers named Citation Laureates later won a Nobel Prize. 

The 2016 Citation Laureates include Edward Ott, UMD Distinguished University Professor in the Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering, Department of Physics, and the Institute for Research in Electronics and Applied Physics; Celso Grebogi, UMD alumnus and former UMD faculty member, now the Sixth Century Chair in Nonlinear and Complex Systems at the University of Aberdeen in Scotland; and James A. Yorke, UMD Distinguished University Professor Emeritus in the Department of Mathematics, Department of Physics, and the Institute for Physical Science and Technology.

The computer generated image of a pedulum's chaotic motion. Yorke, Ott and Grebogi are long-time leaders in chaos science – the study of complex (nonlinear) dynamic systems. Chaos research has led to advances in such diverse disciplines as biology, economics, meteorology, chemistry, engineering, fluid mechanics and physics, to name just a few.

Thomson Reuters says its Citation Laureates are “researchers whose advances have earned quantifiable esteem and wielded unusually strong influence in the scientific community. This impact is manifestly illustrated by the high quantity of citations to their work – with each citation representing a direct mark of influence and significance as judged by the research community.”

Ott, Grebogi and Yorke received the Thomson Reuters honor for their description of a control theory of chaotic systems that came to be known as the “OGY method,” after the order their last names appeared in their paper describing the method. That paper, which has been cited 4,087 times according to the Web of ScienceTM, was published in the journal Physical Review Letters in 1990. It is one of some 80 papers on chaos science that the three have authored together.

“Different people have different research goals, said Yorke. “One of mine is to have an impact on the way other people work by providing them with interesting new ideas. Perhaps being named being named Citation Laureate is recognition that my collaborators and I are succeeding in that goal.”

While most researchers try to avoid chaos in physical, chemical or biological systems altogether, Ott, Grebogi and Yorke developed a method to control chaos in such systems and even improve system performance. The basic idea begins with the significant observation that an infinite number of unstable periodic orbits are embedded in a chaotic attractor. To employ the OGY method, one selects an unstable orbit that yields improved performance and stabilizes it by applying small system perturbations to the attractor. However, the perturbation must be tiny compared with the overall size of the attractor to avoid significant modification of the system’s natural dynamics.

“Our method renders an otherwise chaotic motion more stable and predictable,” said Ott. “It was also the first method to take advantage of the attributes of chaotic dynamics and use them for a specific purpose.”

Researchers have used the OGY method to control chaos in a variety of systems, including turbulent fluids, oscillating chemical reactions, magneto-mechanical oscillators and cardiac tissues.

“We are excited, but certainly not surprised, that University of Maryland faculty members and alumni are considered to be in the running for the Nobel Prize in physics,” said Jayanth Banavar, dean of the College of Computer, Mathematical, and Natural Sciences at UMD. “Professors Ott, Grebogi and Yorke have authored classic works in the field of chaos theory, with far-reaching impact in areas including meteorology, the life sciences, computer science and economics.”

Two UMD physics faculty members previously won the Nobel Prize in physics: Distinguished University Professor William Phillips in 1997 and College Park Professor John Mather in 2006. In addition, UMD alumnus Raymond Davis Jr., B.S. ’37, M.S. ’39, chemistry, received the Nobel Prize in physics in 2002.

“To appear in the 2016 Citation Laureates is a great honor,” said Grebogi. “While we are delighted to be included, it is unlikely that we can compete this year against the Laser Interferometer Gravitational-Wave Observatory (LIGO) gravity experiment, the first direct detection of gravitational waves and a result long awaited since Einstein’s prediction of gravity waves in 1916. It is, nevertheless, a privilege to have our work—which opened up a whole new area of research and changed philosophically our way of thinking about chaos—considered in the same company as such a significant breakthrough in physics.”

 “Highly-cited papers turn out to be one of the most reliable indicators of world-class research, and provides a glimpse at what research stands the best chance at being recognized with a Nobel Prize,” said Jessica Turner, global head of government and academia, Intellectual Property and Science, Thomson Reuters.

About UMD’s Citation Laureates
Edward Ott received his bachelor’s degree in electrical engineering from The Cooper Union in 1963, and M.S. and Ph.D. degrees in electrophysics from The Polytechnic Institute of Brooklyn in 1964 and 1967, respectively. In 1968, he joined the faculty at Cornell University and came to UMD in 1979. He is a fellow of the IEEE, the American Physical Society, the World Innovation Foundation, and the Society for Industrial and Applied Mathematics.

Celso Grebogi, M.S. ’75, Ph.D. ’78, physics, remained at UMD as a faculty member from 1981 until 2001, with appointments in the Department of Physics, Department of Mathematics, Institute for Plasma Research, and Institute for Physical Science and Technology. After serving as professor at the University of Sao Paulo’s Institute of Physics, he joined the University of Aberdeen in 2005. He is a fellow of The Royal Society of Edinburgh, the Brazilian Academy of Sciences, the World Academy of Sciences, the American Physical Society, and the Institute of Physics.

James A. Yorke, Ph.D. ’66, mathematics, came to UMD in 1963 as a mathematics graduate student and joined the faculty as an assistant professor in 1967. In 2003, he was awarded the Japan Prize, one of the most esteemed science technology prizes. He is a fellow of the American Physical Society, the American Association for the Advancement of Science, the American Mathematical Society, and the Society for Industrial and Applied Mathematics.

About the University of Maryland
The University of Maryland is the state's flagship university and one of the nation's preeminent public research universities. A global leader in research, entrepreneurship and innovation, the university is home to more than 37,000 students, 9,000 faculty and staff, and 250 academic programs. Its faculty includes three Nobel laureates, three Pulitzer Prize winners, 56 members of the national academies and scores of Fulbright scholars. The institution has a $1.8 billion operating budget and secures $550 million annually in external research funding. For more information about the University of Maryland, visit www.umd.edu

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UMD Celebrates Homecoming Week 2016

September 23, 2016
Contacts: 

Lee Tune, 301-405-4679

COLLEGE PARK, Md. – The University of Maryland will host its annual Homecoming Week from Sunday, September 25 - Saturday, October 1, 2016. UMD’s campus-wide celebration will offer dozens of Fearless and family-friendly events, including alumni gatherings, artistic performances, service projects and athletic competitions.

Homecoming Week will kick off on Sunday, September 25 with a Terps Against Hunger Homecoming Service Project from 10:30 a.m. – 8:45 p.m. at the XFINITY Center. Volunteers from across campus and the local community will work together to package 400,000 meals that will be donated to local food banks and pantries to reduce food insecurity. Also on Sunday, Women’s Soccer v. Northwestern begins at 1 p.m.

UMD Homecoming graphicOn Tuesday, September 27, the Homecoming Juke Joint event – featuring music, poetry readings, movies and games – will be held in the Adele H. Stamp Student Union, Grand Ballroom, from 8:00 p.m. - 11:00 p.m. 

On Wednesday, September 28, the Black Alumni Association and The Network Success Student Initiative will host the second annual Gift of Giving Gala, as part of the Whittle Johnson Promise to support and advance the education and professional development of African-American students at UMD. Designed to create meaningful networking opportunities among students and alumni and to promote scholarship, the gala is at the College Park Marriott Hotel from 6:30 p.m. to 9:30 p.m. Registration required. https://giftofgivinggala.splashthat.com/

On Thursday, September 29 Student Entertainment Events (SEE) will host the annual Homecoming Comedy Show (tickets required) featuring T.J. Miller, with very special guest Damon Wayans Jr.

On Friday, September 30, UMD will host Terp Carnival on McKeldin Mall, offering rides, games, prizes and entertainment for students and families alike from 4:00 p.m. – 8:00 p.m. Alumni in town will also have the opportunity to reconnect with fellow Terps and learn about upcoming Alumni Association events and volunteer opportunities.  UMD will host a fireworks and laser light display at 7:50 p.m. on McKeldin Mall. The university would like to invite the surrounding community to enjoy the fireworks and to be advised of increased noise on the evening of September 30. 

Finally, throughout the day on Saturday, October 1, dozens of alumni and student organizations will host Homecoming tailgates and gatherings, including the Alumni Zone Tailgate hosted by the UMD Alumni Association from 12:30 p.m. – 3:00 p.m. at the Samuel Riggs IV Alumni Center. These events will lead up to the Homecoming football game against the Purdue Boilermakers (kick-off at 3:30 p.m.) at CapitalOne Field at Maryland Stadium.

To view the full Homecoming Week schedule, visit http://homecoming.umd.edu/calendar. Follow the celebration and join in on social media with #UMDHomecoming.

Following Launch of $75 Million Initiative Making UMD the Nation's First Do Good Campus, Terps Against Hunger to Celebrate One Million Meals Packed

September 23, 2016
Contacts: 

Katie Lawson 301-405-4622

Congressman Chris Van Hollen to assist UMD community at Homecoming service event in packing nutritious meals for local children and families in need

COLLEGE PARK, Md. – Days after announcing a $75 million initiative that makes the University of Maryland the nation’s first Do Good campus, UMD will host an annual service project to kickoff Homecoming Week 2016. The event will mark one million meals packaged by Terps Against Hunger, a UMD student-led grassroots campaign to fight local hunger and a winner of the 2016 Do Good Challenge at the university.
 
Maryland Congressman Chris Van Hollen will join the university community in packaging nutritious, non-perishable meals for children and families in the region. Starting as a UMD student service project, the annual event has expanded to include faculty, staff, alumni, parents, and local community members in efforts to do good and combat local hunger.
 
WHAT: 
UMD, Terps Against Hunger and the university community, joined by Maryland Congressman Van Hollen, will participate in a service project to package meals for local children and families in need.
 
This is the first UMD service event since the university launched the Do Good Institute to train the next generation of Do Good leaders and establish the University as the first Do Good college campus in the country. Support for Do Good programs is expected to top $75 million from individual and family philanthropy, state funding, corporate and foundation grants, and university resources.
 
WHO:                  
•    Wallace D. Loh, President, University of Maryland
•    Chris Van Hollen, Congressman, Maryland’s 8th District
•    Thousands of Terps Against Hunger volunteers from the UMD and surrounding community
•    Robert C. Orr, Dean, School of Public Policy
•    Robert T. Grimm, Jr., Director of the Do Good Institute
 
WHEN: 
Sunday, September 25, 2016
Congressman Van Hollen appearance and one millionth meal celebration:
12:30 p.m. – 1:30 p.m.
*Note: Service event runs from 10:30 a.m. – 8:45 p.m., media avail begins at 12:30 p.m.
 
WHERE:
XFINITY Center, University of Maryland
8500 Paint Branch Drive, College Park, MD 20740
For directions, visit http://www.umterps.com/ViewArticle.dbml?ATCLID=208131345
 
PARKING:          
Parking will be available in Lot 9 adjacent to XFINITY Center.
Visit http://maps.umd.edu/map/ to view the campus map.
 
MEDIA RSVP:    
Media interested in attending should contact Katie Lawson at 301-405-4622 or lawsonk@umd.edu.

UMD-Led Team Cracks 60-Year Code Through Discovery of Enzyme that Optimizes Plant Life

September 22, 2016
Contacts: 

Graham Binder 301-405-9235, Lee Tune 301-405-4679

College Park, MD -- A UMD-led team of researchers has answered a question that scientists have been pondering for 60 years: Exactly how do plants turn off the action of the vital plant growth hormone auxin?

It turns out the answer is an enzyme now identified and characterized for the first time by scientists from the University of Maryland’s College of Agriculture and Natural Resources (AGNR) and from the Agricultural Research and Development Center of The Ohio State University, The researchers published their findings this week in a paper in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (PNAS).

Auxin is the determining factor in how a plant grows, develops and responds to the environment.  Scientists have long known the processes of synthesis and breakdown by which plants optimally regulate the amount and effects of the hormone. However, what has been unknown until now is what enzyme or enzymes catalyze the breakdown, or oxidation, of auxin. 

Led by UMD’s Jun Zhang, a recent AGNR PhD graduate from plant science and landscape architecture, and Wendy Peer, Ph.D., an assistant professor in AGNR’s department of environmental science and technology, the research team used a combination of biochemistry, genetics, molecular biology, physiology and metabolomics (the study of small molecules found in plant cells and fluids) to show the primary breakdown enzyme is dioxygenase of auxin oxidation (DAO).Image Credit:  INRA and Jean Weber Under Creative Commons License - https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0/

This is promising new knowledge for horticulturalists and farmers. Controlling when and where and how much auxin is active via DAO could lead to new ways to improve plant growth and productivity. This could have wide-ranging effects in crops from improving drought stress to increasing biomass. Benefits for the nursery industry include improved rooting of cuttings from tomatoes to trees.

Zhang and Peer and colleagues used a small flowering plant or weed called Arabidopsis as their plant model for this research. In this plant, they were able to showcase the inactivation of auxin by way of DAO, facilitating the process of that turns auxin off. Prior to these findings, the enzymes that catalyze this process and how they work to maintain hormone balance and influence plant growth only had been hinted at in studies of apple trees and rice plants.

“We are excited about solving this puzzle at last,” says Peer. “Our goal is to address the world food crisis in the face of climate change. Understanding and then controlling the activity of this essential plant hormone is one of the keys to doing just that.”

Their paper in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (PNAS) is titled “DAO1 catalyzes temporal and tissue-specific oxidative inactivation of auxin in Arabidopsis thaliana.”

This is one of three papers published together on this subject with UMD and Ohio State demonstrating the biochemistry, genetics, physiology, and metabolomics of DAO; Umeå Plant Science Centre, Sweden, showing auxin metabolomics, genetics and physiology; and the University of Nottingham, UK, modelling DAO functions in auxin homeostasis in roots.

Image is by INRA and Jean Weber Under Creative Commons License. Link (link is external) to original photo in Flickr Commons.

University of Maryland Hosts 2nd Annual Terp Farm Fall Harvest Festival

September 21, 2016
Contacts: 

Allison Lilly Tjaden 301-314-1016

COLLEGE PARK, Md. – The University of Maryland will host the 2nd annual Terp Farm Fall Harvest Festival on Friday, September 23, 2016 at Terp Farm, a collaborative project between UMD Dining Services, the College of Agriculture & Natural Resources, and the Office of Sustainability.

Terp Farm occupies five acres at UMD’s Upper Marlboro agriculture research facility located 15 miles south of College Park, Md. Formerly the campus’ tobacco research farm, the Upper Marlboro site has transformed into a research facility for diverse crops and now hosts the production of vegetables and cut flowers for campus. Terp Farm places a particular focus on harvesting vegetables for preparation and consumption in UMD dining halls and catering functions. Produce is also donated to food-insecure members of the campus through the Campus Pantry program and nearby communities. From an educational perspective, Terp Farm embodies the University’s land-grant mission as an accessible resource for the student body, providing regular opportunities for hands-on farming, learning and training.Terp Farm_Fall Harvest Festival_2016_Flyer

“We were humbled and thrilled by the success of the inaugural festival, and knew we had to make this a yearly event to expose greater numbers of the University community to the amazing things happening at Terp Farm,” said Allison Tjaden, Assistant Director of New Initiatives for Dining Services and manager of Terp Farm. “Terps growing food for other Terps, the built-in educational opportunities for our student body, and the deep history rooted in this research facility make this such a special opportunity for all to experience. Plus, free food, free transportation, and games certainly sweeten the deal!”

This fall-themed event will feature food made with fresh ingredients grown at Terp Farm, a live performance from the Hayley Fahey Band, farm tours, pumpkin painting and information tables and activities provided by the College of Agriculture & Natural Resources.
UMD faculty, staff and students are invited to attend the Terp Farm Fall Harvest Festival on Friday, from 2 to 6 p.m. Free transportation to and from Terp Farm will be provided on the day of the festival. Shuttles provided by the Department of Transportation Services will be leaving from the side of The Stamp Student Union at Union Lane every half hour from 2:00 pm until 4:30 and returning from the farm every half hour from 3:15 until 6:15.

The address is 2005 Largo Road, Upper Marlboro, MD 20744. Free parking will be available at the farm. 

Please visit the Terp Farm Fall Harvest Festival event page for additional information.

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