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Friday, April 17, 2015

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University Launches Dynamic, Interactive Information Website UMD Right Now

December 4, 2012

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 Creative Writing Professor Named 2015 Guggenheim Fellow

April 16, 2015

Nicky Everette 301-405-6714

COLLEGE PARK, Md. — University of Maryland English Professor Maud Casey is a recipient of a 2015 John Simon Guggenheim Memorial Foundation Fellowship. Casey’s scholarship focuses on the creative arts through fiction writing.

Maud CaseyCasey is one of 175 scholars, artists and scientists in the U.S. and Canada to win the award from a pool of more than 3,100 applicants. Often characterized as "midcareer" awards, Guggenheim Fellowships are intended for men and women who have already demonstrated exceptional capacity for productive scholarship or exceptional creative ability in the arts.

Casey has taught in the creative writing program since 2005. 

“We are delighted Professor Casey has received national recognition for her scholarship,” Bonnie Thornton Dill, dean of the College of Arts and Humanities, said. “We are proud of Professor Casey’s exceptional contributions to literature and her achievements exemplify the extraordinary creative talent here in the college.”

During her fellowship, Casey will work on a collection of stories, provisionally titled "Iconographies.” It takes as its starting point images and case studies of female patients found in 19th-century medical reference books from the Salpêtrière, a hospital in Paris where Jean Marie Charcot created the diagnosis known as hysteria. Charcot, a scientist who became known as the father of modern neurology, gave lectures on cases in progress at the hospital that attracted students from all over Europe, including Sigmund Freud. Casey’s stories will focus on the women and her questions about them.

 “I’m excited to see where the stories end up,” Casey said. “Fiction is are always, without fail, full of surprises.”

Casey said she’s driven to write about things that raise “wondrous, generatively mysterious” questions for herself. This collection started after one of the peripheral characters from “The Man Who Walked Away,” – a young girl she based on one of Charcot’s hysterics—remained with her after the novel was complete.

“For me, there are haunting questions at the heart of this girl, and at the heart of the women who were part of Charcot’s famous Tuesday lectures at the Salpêtrière,” Casey said. “What was the nature of their pain? What stories lurked behind the diagnoses hysteria?”

Casey is the author of three novels, “The Shape of Things to come,” “Genealogy,” and most recently, “The Man Who Walked Away,” based on a real-life case history of a 19th century patient at a French asylum named Albert Dadas who suffered with transient mental illness. She has also written a collection of stories, “Drastic.”

Casey is the recipient of the Calvino Prize and a D.C. Commission on the Arts and Humanities Artist Fellowship. Her book reviews and essays have appeared in The New York Times. She earned her B.A. from Wesleyan University and her M.F.A. in fiction from the University of Arizona. She teaches in UMD’s M.F.A. program in creative writing and lives in Washington, D.C.

Casey is the English department’s fifth winner in the past seven years. She joins the following current faculty members who are Guggenheim laureates including Vincent Carretta, Michael Collier, Merle Collins, Regina Harrison, Matthew Kirschenbaum, Robert Levine, Howard Norman, Stanley Plumly, and Joshua Weiner.

UMD Celebrates 17th Annual Maryland Day

April 16, 2015

Katie Lawson 301-405-4622

Explore Our World of Fearless Ideas with More Than 400 Free, Family-friendly and Interactive Events 

COLLEGE PARK, Md. – The University of Maryland will host its 17th annual Maryland Day from 10 a.m. – 4 p.m. on Saturday, April 25, 2015. UMD's campus-wide celebration of innovation, creativity and academic excellence will offer more than 400 free events and exhibits that teach and inspire future innovators.

A variety of events and activities spanning the entire UMD campus will be divided into six neighborhoods, including AG Day Avenue, Arts Alley, Biz & Society Hill, Science & Tech Way, Sports & Rec Row, and Terp Town Center.

Highlights for this year's Maryland Day include: 

  • A mini-golf course designed and built by UMD architecture students
  • Budding student entrepreneurs, social activists and performers pitching their big ideas to a live audience on Hornbake Plaza
  • A chance to meet two brand-new baby horses that were recently born on the Campus Farm
  • University of Maryland chefs preparing and sharing recipes representing Big Ten universities, and a taste of the Dairy's B1G ice cream flavor
  • Opportunity to take the "Small Footprint Pledge" and take one simple action to reduce your environmental impact

In addition, visitors can learn about Maryland’s schools and colleges, catch up with fellow Terps, and enjoy live performances and food.   

To view the full Maryland Day schedule, visit marylandday.umd.edu. Follow the celebration and join in on social media with #MarylandDay.

Maryland Day will take place rain or shine. Admission and parking are free.

UMD Diverts 89 Percent of Waste from Landfills

April 14, 2015

Andrew Muir 301-405-7068

Individual recycling rate improves to 56 percent 

COLLEGE PARK, Md. – The University of Maryland Facilities Management Solid Waste and Recycling Unit recently confirmed the university has achieved an 89 percent institutional diversion rate in 2014. The rate increased by more than 10 percent from 2013. The institutional diversion rate reflects all materials the university diverted from landfills, including construction and demolition waste. 

“We are very proud of our recent achievements in improving both our institutional diversion rate and individual recycling rate,” said Bill Guididas, Head of Recycling & Waste Management. “We promote diverting all waste from landfills but we calculate two distinct rates. The waste that our community generates is reported as our individual recycling rate.  What we’re measuring here is the waste generated in the buildings that we frequent. The institutional diversion rate includes all campus waste, including construction and demolition material.”   

A key reason for the rate increase was the capture of recyclable materials from more building construction and renovation projects on campus. Facilities Management and Residential Facilities have made a commitment to ensuring that waste from project sites is properly managed.

The diversion rate achievement recently helped UMD win the SaveOnEnergy.com March Mania Bracket, a friendly competition among some of the nation’s green universities to see who is making the strongest sustainable efforts. 

In addition to the institutional diversion rate achievement, university officials have noted that the individual recycling rate - the percentage of single stream recycling items (paper, bottles, cans, etc.) that get recycled on campus - improved to 56 percent in 2014, up from 35 percent in 2009. 

"The individual recycling rate is important because it's one that we all contribute to,” said Sandy Dykes, Associate Director, Building & Landscape Maintenance. “We have seen a steady increase in this rate as our community becomes more aware of what can be recycled instead of throwing items into the trash.”

Recycling outreach and education efforts are ongoing and Facilities Management hopes to put a greater emphasis on the impact individual students, faculty, staff, and visitors can have on campus and the environment.  One particular area of focus is plastic bags.  At the beginning of the year, the university’s recycling facility ended plastic bag collection due to the difficulties the bags caused in being processed.  The recycling office is working to spread awareness on campus about this, while also setting up plastic bag collection boxes in the Terp Zone at the Adele H. Stamp Student Union and all campus convenience stores.   

Another area of increased interest is campus compost collection.  Composting was introduced in The Stamp Food Court in 2011 and has received continued support from students.  The request for expanding collection to residence halls has led Resident Life and Residential Facilities to conduct waste audits this past year, as well as an upcoming compost pilot in Easton Hall.     

Currently, organic materials collected on campus are sent to the Prince George’s County Compost Facility in Upper Marlboro, Md. A strong partnership with the facility has helped the university consider expanding collection.  The compost processed at the facility has been purchased by Terp Farm, a University of Maryland Dining Services and College of Agriculture and Natural Resources project.    

Updated information on the university’s institutional diversion rate and individual recycling rate can be found here

For more information on UMD recycling: terpsrecycle.umd.edu

Former Terp & NFL Star Domonique Foxworth to Deliver Spring Commencement Address

April 14, 2015

Katie Lawson 301-405-4622

COLLEGE PARK, Md. – The University of Maryland today announced that Domonique Foxworth - UMD alumnus, Chief Operating Officer of the National Basketball Players’ Association and former NFL cornerback - will deliver the spring commencement address on May 21. A scholar, athlete and philanthropist, Foxworth is well-known for his work both on and off the playing field. 

Foxworth attended the University of Maryland, where he majored in American Studies and played cornerback for the Terps. Foxworth started every game between 2001 and September 2004, and received All-Atlantic Coast Conference (ACC) honors twice. He graduated in 2004 and played in the National Football League (NFL) for six seasons with the Denver Broncos, Atlanta Falcons and Baltimore Ravens. Following his retirement from football, Foxworth was elected president of the NFL Players’ Association in 2012, an office he held until March 2014. In October 2014, Foxworth was appointed Chief Operating Officer of the National Basketball Players Association (NBPA). 

Off the field, Foxworth is an avid scholar and philanthropist. He and his wife, Ashley Manning Foxworth ’06, gifted $150,000 to the College of Arts and Humanities at the University of Maryland to launch the Foxworth Creative Enterprise Grants initiative which supports community-based arts and humanities courses that encourage innovation and spur new solutions for society’s most pressing issues. He is also pursuing an MBA at Harvard Business School. 

“The senior class is excited to welcome Mr. Foxworth back to campus to deliver our commencement address,” said Louis Schiavone, Commencement Speaker Delegate of the University of Maryland’s Senior Class Council. “As a diverse Senior Council that represents a diverse student body, we think the class of 2015 will be able to relate to Mr. Foxworth’s experiences. And, as a proud Terp, Mr. Foxworth can share a unique perspective, as well as offer guidance to my fellow graduates as we prepare for life after UMD.” 

Foxworth was born in Oxford, England, but relocated to Maryland when he was in kindergarten. He attended high school and played football at Western Tech in Catonsville, Md. 

UMD Study Finds Citizen Scientists Provide Crucial Insight into Butterfly Biology

April 13, 2015

Melissa Andreychek 410-919-4990

UMD study finds two-thirds of papers published on monarch research use citizen science data

COLLEGE PARK, Md. – Researchers at the National Socio-Environmental Synthesis Center (SESYNC) at the University of Maryland are the first to outline the impact of citizen science on monarch butterfly research. The study, published last week in BioScience, found that of the 503 monarch butterfly-focused research publications from 1940 to 2014, 17 percent used citizen science data. Further, two-thirds of papers on field-based research since 2000 used citizen science data. 

“Researchers cannot answer the questions we have about monarchs without deep engagement of a large network of citizen scientists,” said Dr. Leslie Ries, lead author of the paper and an ecologist at the National Socio-Environmental Synthesis Center (SESYNC) and the University of Maryland. “Citizen scientists are a crucial part of the scientific process, but their contributions do not always get the respect they deserve.”

Citizen science programs have engaged non-professionals in monarch butterfly research since the 1950s, and every year, thousands of volunteers go into the field to collect data on butterflies. Citizen science data have been especially critical to answering large-scale questions such as population dynamics and migration, Ries explained.

Every fall, North American monarchs fly from their northern breeding grounds to spend the winter at southern roosting sites. Monarchs are the only butterflies to make such a long, two-way migration, flying as far as 3,000 miles to reach their overwintering destinations.

Monarchs are especially vulnerable to pressures such as habitat loss and climate change, which threaten to disrupt their annual migration pattern. Understanding which regions along the monarch’s migratory path are important to population viability and what environmental factors drive their movement can inform effective conservation strategies. Citizen scientists are key to this insight.

“There are certain questions that can only be answered with large-scale and long-term data sets. And these data can only be collected with the involvement of and broad coverage enabled by citizen scientists,” said Dr. Karen Oberhauser, co-author of the paper and a conservation biologist at the University of Minnesota. “Monarch citizen science programs have done a great job taking advantage of the incredible resource that we have in all of these interested volunteers.”

Despite the incredible contributions of citizen science on monarch research, Ries and Oberhauser say the data amassed by these projects are still underused. Many citizen science data have never been used in peer-reviewed publications, and most have been used no more than a handful of times. This is likely because many of the data were unknown or unavailable to scientists until recently, but partnerships such as MonarchNet and the North American Butterfly Monitoring Network are changing that.

Academia has also been slow to trust citizen science data: one criticism of citizen research is that its reliability and validity cannot be controlled as it is in the scholarly sector.

Such skepticism is unwarranted, Oberhauser says.

“Who collects field data in scientific studies? It’s often undergraduate researchers who are paid 10 dollars an hour—they aren’t necessarily going to do a better job than somebody who is volunteering their time and has a vested interest in the phenomenon they are studying,” she commented. “Citizen scientists are equally as diligent about the accuracy of their data. They want to do a good job because they care about the work.”

The authors found that volunteers spent more than 72,000 hours collecting data useful for monarch research in 2011 alone. Based on the Independent Sector’s estimate of the average value of a volunteer hour, the estimated annual value of this citizen science service is more than $1.6 million.

This estimate only begins to hint at the true value of citizen scientists—but makes a case for the funding of citizen science programs.

“There’s not a lot of money out there to help support citizen science programs, yet they are becoming more and more critical,” said Ries. “One of our goals for this paper was to validate their role in scientific research, and the numbers are clear: Many questions critical to our understanding of monarch biology are basically impossible to answer without citizen scientists.”

The research paper, “A Citizen Army for Science: Quantifying the Contributions of Citizen Scientists to our Understanding of Monarch Butterfly Biology,” by Leslie Ries and Karen Oberhauser, was published online April 8, 2015, in the journal BioScience.

UMD Civil Engineers Weigh in on Maryland Bridge Safety Discussions

April 10, 2015

Alyssa Wolice 301-405-2057

COLLEGE PARK, Md. – Civil Engineers at the University of Maryland are weighing in on Maryland bridge safety discussions following a recent U.S. Department of Transportation National Bridge Inventory database report, which found that just under 6 percent of Maryland’s 5,305 bridges are considered structurally deficient.

A bridge is considered structurally deficient based on its condition and appraisal ratings, according to University of Maryland Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering Research Professor Chung C. Fu, P.E. Fu is also director of the Bridge Engineering Software and Technology (BEST) Center, housed within UMD’s A. James Clark School of Engineering.

“Structural deficiencies are determined by poor condition ratings or from low load ratings,” Fu said. “Bridges are considered structurally deficient if significant load-carrying elements are found to be in poor or worse condition due to deterioration or damage.”

While structurally deficient bridges require significant maintenance and repair to remain in service, the “structurally deficient” rating does not immediately imply that the bridge is unsafe or likely to collapse, Fu noted.

“As common practice to keep structurally deficient bridges in service, the State Highway Administration often posts weight limits to restrict the gross weight of vehicles using the bridges to less than the maximum weight typically allowed by statute,” Fu said. “Still, all structurally deficient bridges eventually require rehabilitation or replacement. With hands-on inspection and field testing, unsafe conditions may be identified and, if a bridge is determined to be unsafe, the structure must be closed."

In the meantime, according to American Road & Transportation Builders Association (ARTBA) analysis of the DOT report, “cars, trucks and school buses cross Maryland’s 317 structurally compromised bridges 4.1 million times every day.” In a press release issued last week, ARTBA noted that the most heavily traveled structurally deficient bridges in Maryland are on the Interstate Highway System.

As such, the ARTBA and DOT reports underscore the fact that federal highway and transit funding are set to expire May 31, absent congressional action. As has been the case, many states are challenged to confront bridge safety issues under tight budget constraints.

Adding another layer to the challenge is the current rate of the federal gas tax – a major funding mechanism for the Highway Trust Fund, which holds the purse strings for highway and bridge maintenance. For more than two decades, the federal gas tax rate has held steady, even as environmentally driven consumers are opting for eco-friendly cars or other modes of transportation, and are thereby purchasing less and less gas.

“One of the challenges to the funding issue is the fact that modern cars are more fuel-efficient than older cars,” said Mark Franz, Assistant Director of Outreach and Technology Transfer for the National Transportation Center at the University of Maryland. “From an environmental perspective, fuel-efficient cars are obviously a great thing. But, if people are not buying as much gas nowadays, they might not be contributing their share of the cost toward the system they’re using. If more and more drivers are going home and plugging in their cars overnight, those drivers are essentially using roads without contributing direct funding for those roads.”

But, while everyday consumers may purchase less fuel than in years past, consumer behavior remains a factor behind the deterioration of some of the nation’s most heavily traveled roadways and bridges.

As Americans continue to take on lengthy commutes to work, the burden on highways, bridges and even local roads increases. Additionally, while the popularity of online shopping has reduced the need for consumers to drive to and from local stores, it has, in turn, increased demand for the transport of goods by freight vehicles. And, according to a recent DOT report titled, “Beyond Traffic 2045: Trends and Choices,” in 2012, trucks moved 13.2 billion tons of freight throughout the U.S. – compared to second-place rail transport, which accounted for just 2 billion tons of freight the same year.

“When you think about what is contributing most to wear and tear on the roads, freight vehicles prove costly,” Franz said. “The irony is, in many ways, the Highway Trust Fund counts on everyday travelers to use those same roadways so that more dollars will funnel in via the state and federal gas taxes to help fund both road and bridge maintenance.”

While incidents – like the February case of fallen concrete from the I-495-Suitland Bridge in Prince George’s County, Md. – have directed a spotlight onto highway maintenance issues, for many directly impacted by bridges or roadways in question, the hope is such instances will drive government to direct more funding to support road and bridge maintenance and repair projects.

“Highway and bridge construction funds are a mix of state and federal dollars,” Fu noted. “At the federal level, the Highway Trust Fund is the main source of support; however, there has not been an increase in the tax on gasoline since 1994. In fact, the federal Highway Trust Fund ran dry in 2008 and again in 2015, and had to be subsidized by Congress.”

“The difference between the funds available and the system’s needs represents the funding gap,” Fu said. “The only other source available is the state funding. Lack of state resources to fill any gap in federal funding is a cause for concern because it would cripple road and bridge construction in Maryland."

“Bridges are aging year by year,” he continued. “The average age of Maryland state bridges is about 50 years old. As bridges age, their abilities to handle the loads they are designed for are gradually reduced. As a result, some bridges have to be posted with weight restrictions and then more bridges are put into the deficient bridge category. With an aging infrastructural system, shortage of funding would only increase needs in the future.”

UMD Team Wins 2015 ULI Hines Student Urban Design Competition

April 10, 2015

UMD students’ “fearless design” takes first place for second consecutive year at the Super Bowl of interdisciplinary design competitions

COLLEGE PARK, Md. – An interdisciplinary team from the University of Maryland’s School of Architecture, Planning and Preservation has won the 2015 ULI/Gerald D. Hines Student Urban Design Competition (ULI Hines). The UMD team of five graduate students – representing architecture, urban planning and real estate development – won over an international jury of experts with their development plan for the Tulane/Gavier and Iberville neighborhoods of New Orleans. 

“It is an honor to win this competition,” said Sofia Weller, a graduate student studying architecture at UMD. “It feels like we are part of something much bigger. ULI Hines is considered the Super Bowl of interdisciplinary design competitions. I think we all feel truly humbled by the experience.”

This is the second consecutive year that a team from UMD has clinched the ULI/Hines Competition, which is considered the most prominent student development and design competition in the world, with more than 120 teams competing from some of the most prestigious universities in the country. ULI announced UMD’s win this week in New Orleans at the competition conclusion. The team will go home with a $50,000 prize. 

“Our team rose to the challenge in a most impressive manner", said Professor Matthew Bell, FAIA, one of the team’s advisors. “Their level of talent, passion and dedication to the design is rare and the New Orleans context provided for them a terrific vehicle for inter-disciplinary work.  We are most proud to win for a second straight year!”  

Now in its 13th year, the ULI/Hines competition challenges interdisciplinary teams of graduate students to create a dynamic design and development solution for a real large-scale site in just two weeks. While this is an ideas competition, it is part of the Urban Land Institute’s (ULI) continued mission to engage young professionals in collaborative solutions, responsible land use and creation of better communities. The competition demands a variety of expertise to navigate complex zoning codes, understand investment opportunities, examine community, site challenges and develop exciting yet realistic urban design solutions. This year’s competition revolved around the urban site of the Tulane/Gavier and Iberville neighborhoods of New Orleans. ULI challenged teams to create a proposal that furthers the city’s goals of creating vibrant, sustainable neighborhoods by capitalizing on the culture and location of the Tulane/Gravier neighborhood, while fostering economic growth, tourism and place through thoughtful design.   

Maryland’s entry, entitled “The Crossing,” took an unconventional approach to the site that set itself apart from the competition. The site offers several challenges, including the elevated I-10 highway that runs parallel to a potential retail street and an eight-lane off-ramp that separates an existing park from the city’s proposed greenway. To offer greater visibility for retail, the team located the main retail street one block over from the highway, a bold but important move that offers two-sided frontage and pulls the site out of the shadow of the I-10. Re-locating the monstrous off-ramp—referred to by team members as a “scar” across the site—and replacing the linear space under the highway with a green, recreational space connects Louis Armstrong Park with the city’s future greenway and beyond. The new configuration connects neighborhood retail/residential with the park and offers seamless access to the French Quarter and the neighboring medical sector. 

“There have been a lot of studies conducted on this area of New Orleans,” said Patrick Reed, a UMD graduate student in the Urban Studies and Planning Program. “The majority of the scenarios we studied had retail fronts facing Clayborne Avenue, which is the street under the highway. In a lot of ways, the other teams took some safe moves by saying ‘they’ve studied this, they want to put it there, we’ll do what they think is best,’ where we didn’t really necessarily feel constrained by what was already done.” 

“Our approach was, if this is really an ideas competition, what is the best strategy and the best solution moving forward? What would make this space the best that it can be?” added architecture graduate student Ashley Grzywa. “That thinking helped us stretch the design boundaries while still remaining realistic.” 

The greenspace also hosts programmed recreational space and a “resilience center,” to celebrate the spirit and fortitude of New Orleans. Architectural accents throughout the neighborhood, including retail typographies that marry with the existing historic shotgun houses, capture the city’s vibe and culture. While the design makes up an important part of the competition, the financials are what drive the victory. The team’s two real estate graduate students—Daniel Moreno-Holt and Sebastian Dern—offered creative yet realistic financial feasibility that were key to the team’s success.

“Sebastian and Dan were extremely creative in finding ways to fund our crazy ideas,” added Weller.

The ULI Hines competition is open to graduate students who are pursuing real estate-related studies at universities in the United States and Canada, including programs in real estate development, urban planning, urban design, architecture and landscape architecture. In the past six years, the University of Maryland has reached the ULI Hines finals four times, won once (2014) and received one honorable mention.

Read ULI’s statement here.

UMD's winning team includes Sebastian Dern (MRED), Ashley Grzywa (MARCH), Daniel Moreno-Holt (MARCH/MRED), Patrick Reed (MCP) and Sofia Weller (MARCH). The team’s advisors are Professor Matthew Bell, FAIA and Dr. Margaret McFarland, JD, Director of the Masters of Real Estate Development Program. 

UMD Announces Plans to Construct Frederick Douglass Square on Campus, Honoring Maryland's Native Son

April 9, 2015

Katie Lawson 301-405-4622

Led by the "North Stars,” Campus Leaders Celebrate Douglass Beliefs with Prominent Memorial

COLLEGE PARK, Md. - Arguably considered one of the most important individuals to ever trod Maryland soil, Frederick Douglass will soon be commemorated on the University of Maryland’s campus, according to a group of advocates who have sought for years to establish Frederick Douglass Square. 

For more than five years, a group of campus leaders called the North Stars spearheaded by Professor Ira Berlin has been working to secure funding and approve architectural and landscape designs for a memorial in honor of Douglass. The Square will feature powerful Douglass quotations displayed on a corten steel wall, paving stone, planting beds, accent lighting and benches centered on UMD’s Hornbake Plaza, a prominent campus location and hub of student activity. 

“After many years of hard work, we are proud to bring Frederick Douglass Square to the University of Maryland campus,” said UMD Provost Mary Ann Rankin. “Above all, Douglass advocated for equality, justice and fairness throughout the state of Maryland and the world, and it is fitting to honor him at our flagship institution.” 

In many ways, the work of Frederick Douglass is intertwined into the research and curriculum of UMD, from archeological digs on the plantation where he lived as a child, to scholars who specialize in his writings.  

The announcement of the Square was made at “Slavery, Freedom, and the Remaking of American History: A Conference in Honor of Ira Berlin,” where academics gathered from across the country to celebrate the work Professor Berlin has pioneered at Maryland. 

“Nothing could be more appropriate than representing Frederick Douglass and his words at the University of Maryland,” said Ira Berlin, distinguished university professor and internationally recognized expert on slavery. “No man or woman has better stood for the ideals upon which the University was founded and the principles in which the people of Maryland believe. Douglass stood for fairness, justice, racial, gender, sexual, and religious equity.  That is why I have – along with the esteemed group of North Stars –pursued Frederick Douglass Square for many, many years.”

The groundbreaking for the Square is expected to occur late summer. The renderings were created by Floura Teeter Landscape Architects working with Wallace Montgomery & Associates.

UMD Scientists Offer a New View of the Moon's Formation

April 9, 2015

Matthew Wright 301-405-9267

UMD researchers find a crucial difference in the “fingerprints” of Earth and the moon which confirm an explosive, interconnected past

COLLEGE PARK, Md. – Scientists at the University of Maryland are the first to confirm the accepted model of the moon’s formation using the “fingerprints” of the moon and Earth. The results suggest that the violent impact of a large body into Earth made a huge, uniform debris cloud that mixed thoroughly before settling down and forming the moon. 

This artist's rendering shows the collision of two planetary bodies. A collision like this is believed to have created the moon within the first 150 million years after our solar system formed. Credit: NASA/JPL-CaltechFor 30 years, planetary scientists have believed that within the first 150 million years after our solar system was formed, the moon formed when a giant body roughly the size of Mars struck and merged with Earth, blasting a huge cloud of rock and debris into space. Although the scenario made sense when looking at the size of the moon and the physics of its orbit around Earth, things started to break down when the isotopic compositions of the moon and Earth – the geological equivalent of a DNA “fingerprint,” – were compared. Specifically, Earth and the moon were too much alike. 

The expectation has long been that the moon should carry the isotopic “fingerprint” of the foreign body which merged with Earth, which scientists named Theia. Because Theia came from elsewhere in the solar system, it probably had a much different isotopic fingerprint than early Earth.

“The problem is that Earth and the moon are very similar with respect to their isotopic fingerprints, suggesting that they are both ultimately formed from the same material that gathered early in the solar system’s history,” said Richard Walker, a professor of geology at UMD and co-author of the study. “This is surprising, because the Mars-sized body that created the moon is expected to have been very different. So the conundrum is that Earth and the moon shouldn’t be as similar as they are.”

Now, UMD scientists have generated a new isotopic fingerprint of the moon that provides the missing piece of the puzzle by zeroing in on an isotope of Tungsten present in both the moon and Earth. The results suggest that the impact of Theia into early Earth was so violent, the resulting debris cloud mixed thoroughly before settling down and forming the moon. The findings appear in the April 8, 2015 advance online edition of the journal Nature

The UMD team examined the tungsten isotopic composition of two moon rocks collected by the Apollo 16 mission, including sample 68815, seen here. When corrected for meteoritic additions to Earth and the moon after formation of the moon, the two bodies were found to have identical Tungsten isotopic compositions. Credit: NASA/JSC

To tease out an explanation, Walker and his team looked to another well-documented phenomenon in the early history of the solar system. Evidence suggests that both Earth and the moon gathered additional material after the main impact, and that Earth collected more of this debris and dust. This new material contained a lot of Tungsten, but relatively little of this was of a lighter isotope known as Tungsten-182. Taking these two observations together, one would expect that Earth would have less Tungsten-182 than the moon.

Sure enough, when comparing rocks from the moon and Earth, Walker and his team found that the moon has a slightly higher proportion of Tungsten-182. The key, however, is how much. 

“The small, but significant, difference in the Tungsten isotopic composition between Earth and the moon perfectly corresponds to the different amounts of material gathered by Earth and the moon post-impact,” Walker said. “This means that, right after the moon formed, it had exactly the same isotopic composition as Earth’s mantle.”

This finding supports the idea that the mass of material created by the impact, which later formed the moon, must have mixed together thoroughly before the moon coalesced and cooled. This would explain both the overall similarities in isotopic fingerprints and the slight differences in Tungsten-182. 

It also largely rules out the idea that the Mars-sized body was of similar composition, or that the moon formed from material contained in the pre-impact Earth. In both cases, it would be highly unlikely to see such a perfect correlation between Tungsten-182 and the amounts of material gathered by the moon and Earth post-impact. 

“This result brings us one step closer to understanding the close familial relationship between Earth and the moon,” Walker said. “We still need to work out the details, but it’s clear that our early solar system was a very violent place.”

In addition to Walker, study authors include UMD geology senior research scientist Igor Puchtel and former UMD geology postdoctoral researcher Mathieu Touboul, now at Ecole Normale Supérieure de Lyon, France. 


April 17
UMD took No. 20 on the annual list for its commitment to the environment and sustainable practices.    Read
April 16
University of Maryland English Professor Maud Casey is a recipient of a 2015 John Simon Guggenheim Memorial Foundation... Read
April 16
Explore UMD's world of Fearless Ideas with more than 400 free, family-friendly and interactive events on April 25.  Read
April 14
UMD has improved both institutional and individual recycling rates in 2014 according to Facilities Management.  Read