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Wednesday, December 2, 2015

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

May 6, 2015

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

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 to Dedicate Art-Sociology Building Named for Late Congressman Parren Mitchell

November 30, 2015

Kristen Seabolt 301-405-4621

COLLEGE PARK, Md. – The University of Maryland will officially dedicate the Art-Sociology Building on campus as the Parren J. Mitchell Art-Sociology Building in memory of the late congressman and civil rights leader. 

In 1952, Mitchell became the first African American to obtain a graduate degree from the University of Maryland, a pioneering achievement as the leadership of the university sought to exclude him from attending classes on account of his race. After graduating and serving in many academic and public positions in the 1950s and 1960s, Mitchell became the first African American elected to Congress from Maryland in 1970, as well as the first African-American congressman from below the Mason-Dixon Line since 1898. Representing Maryland’s Seventh Congressional District, Congressman Mitchell was one of the 13 founding members of the Black Caucus, and became known as a staunch supporter of
minority-owned businesses. 

In October, the Board of Regents of the University System of Maryland (USM), the governing body that grants approval for the naming of campus buildings, unanimously approved the naming.


The formal dedication of the Parren J. Mitchell Art-Sociology Building will feature remarks and tributes given by University of Maryland officials, local and state dignitaries, and family members of Parren Mitchell. 


  • Wallace D. Loh, President of the University of Maryland   
  • Gregory Ball, Dean of the College of Behavioral & Social Sciences 
  • Robert Caret, Chancellor of the University System of Maryland 


Thursday, December 3, 2015
2:00 p.m.


Parren J. Mitchell Art-Sociology Building 
University of Maryland, College Park, MD 20742 


Free parking will be available in Lot 1B. 

Media Trucks: There will be parking for media trucks in front of Queen Anne’s Hall on Campus Drive. 

A campus map can be found here: http://maps.umd.edu/map/ 


Media should present credentials at the media check-in table located in the Atrium of the Parren J. Mitchell Art-Sociology Building. 


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


All media should RSVP to Kristen Seabolt at kseabolt@umd.edu

UMD Research Shows Brain Function Behind Social Norms

November 30, 2015

Laura Ours 301-405-5722

Study outlines how brain function varies across cultures

COLLEGE PARK, Md. – Around the world and throughout history, humans have created and followed social norms. They regulate what is forbidden, what is expected and what is rewarded. They also vary widely across cultures. But despite the profound importance of social norms, scientists have yet to discover how they are processed in the brain. New research by University of Maryland psychology professor Michele Gelfand and her colleagues represents a major step toward resolving norms’ neural basis.

Gelfand and Yan Mu, a post doctoral researcher who co-led the project, recruited 25 participants from China and 25 participants from the United States to participate in an electroencephalography (EEG) study. The researchers chose these two countries because previous research had found China to have much stronger norms than the United States, and less tolerance for deviant behavior. Gelfand had termed this difference in norm strength “tightness-looseness,” in a previous paper in Science and identified China as a tight country and the United States as a loose country, generally speaking. 

The new study, “How culture gets embrained: Cultural differences in event-related potentials of social norm violations,” appears in Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

“We’ve made some headway toward answering questions such as, ‘When somebody crosses the road at a red light or sings in the library, how does our brain respond? Will people from different cultures have similar or different responses in their brains?’” Gelfand said.

In the study, Chinese and American subjects were connected to an EEG apparatus that monitored their neural activity over time and read sentences that portrayed people either following norms or deviating from them. For example, a participant might read about “Sally”, who was “dancing in the art museum” (norm violation) or “Sally” who was “dancing in a tango lesson” (norm following). 

When the researchers analyzed the data, they found a reliable brain signal that emerged 400 milliseconds after participants saw a norm violation. This signal is called the “N400,” and appears to be stronger in the central and parietal regions of our brains for both Chinese and U.S. participants when we witness someone violating a norm. 

The N400 signal in the frontal and temporal regions was significantly stronger amongst Chinese participants but not amongst Americans, suggesting that the tightness of one’s culture influences how one’s brain responds to norm violations. Furthermore, participants who reacted more strongly to norm violations felt a greater sense of cultural superiority, had more self-control, but were less creative—in keeping with previously established traits of cultural tightness. 

Gelfand said that experiment provides unique insight into both the neural basis of social norms and the development of Chinese and American culture. 

“It illustrates, for the first time, how the brain detects social norm violations, and helps us understand how the brain supports and reinforces cultural differences across tight and loose cultures,” said Yan Mu 

The paper was also coauthored with Shinobu Kitayama of the University of Michigan, and Shihui Han of Peking University.

UMD, NASA Study Suggests Carbon Content of Temperate Forests Overestimated

November 24, 2015

Laura Ours 301-405-5722

The landscape shown here is not a photograph but a 3-D visualization obtained using lidar and aerial imagery. Lidar is a remote sensing technique that can be used to digitally measure the heights and crown dimensions of trees, not just for a small sample but for every tree across a landscape.COLLEGE PARK, Md. – Digital measurements of millions of trees indicate that previous studies likely overestimate the amount of carbon stored by temperate U.S. forests, according to a new UMD/NASA study.

The findings could help scientists better understand the impact that trees have on the amount of carbon in the atmosphere. Although it is a well-established fact that trees absorb carbon and store it long-term, researchers are unsure how much is stored in global forests.

“Estimates of the carbon content of living trees typically rely on a method that is based on cutting down trees,” said Laura Duncanson, a postdoctoral fellow at NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, Maryland, and a UMD alumna. “It takes a lot of effort to cut down trees, particularly the biggest ones, so this just isn’t practical to do in large numbers.”

Because of this limitation, field studies aim to strategically sample trees. When looking at U.S. forests, for example, on average about 30 trees of each species would be cut down and measured. Researchers would then use basic mathematical models to scale up those measurements to many thousands, or even millions, of trees, resulting in an estimate of the biomass—the amount of carbon stored—for an entire forest. 

In the paper, published on Nov. 24 in Scientific Reports, Duncanson and her co-investigators, Professor of Geographical Sciences Ralph Dubayah and Oliver Rourke, a graduate student in the Department of Mathematics, found that this widely used method tends to overestimate the height of large trees, leading to biomass figures that are much too high for temperate forests. This overestimation occurs because of a sampling bias: many more young, smaller trees get selected for analysis than older, larger trees. Because the mathematical models that predict tree biomass are mostly based on the smaller trees, the resulting models do not make accurate predictions for the largest trees.

Instead of sampling trees by cutting them down, the new study used lidar, a laser-based technique that can analyze whole swaths of forest from above. The data were provided primarily by Goddard’s Lidar, Hyperspectral and Thermal instrument, known as G-LiHT. This portable lidar can be flown on an aircraft to provide fine-scale observations with a resolution of less than 3.3 feet (1 meter) over large areas.

“One of the innovations of this work is our use of lidar remote sensing to measure potentially millions of trees,” Dubayah said. “This is a dramatically different approach when you consider how few trees are normally used to develop these relationships.”

From the lidar data, the researchers extracted digital measurements of the height and crown radius—the average horizontal spread of the limbs—for every tree selected. The team studied six U.S. forests, digitally measuring 10,000 to more than a million trees at each site. These measurements were used to develop new mathematical models to estimate the biomass of the forests.

Next, the researchers reran the models using only a sampling of the measurements – starting with tens of trees and going up to a few thousand. Including more trees led to better estimates, primarily because more large trees were accounted for. The team determined that when the small sample sizes typical of the conventional approach were used, the figures overestimated the inferred biomass of temperate forests by 70 percent, on average.

The bias that results from sampling small numbers of trees has been well studied in tropical forests. Even so, the researchers were surprised to discover the magnitude of the issue for temperate forests.

“Our findings underscore the importance of sampling more trees,” Duncanson said. “When you include more trees, and especially more big trees, you get a much better idea of how much carbon is being stored.”

New lidar instruments are being developed to help study the biomass of forests, including NASA’s Global Ecosystem Dynamics Investigation, or GEDI, an instrument led by Dubayah and being built at Goddard. GEDI will be the first instrument to systematically characterize forest canopies from space.

“GEDI will help fill in this missing piece of the carbon puzzle by measuring the vertical structure of the forest, which is information we cannot get with sufficient accuracy any other way,” said Dubayah.

UMD Faculty Helps Develop Method to Encourage Worldwide Wetlands Restoration

November 24, 2015

Sara Gavin 301-405-9235

New methodology to incentivize funding streams for coastal wetland restoration projects

ENST Associate Professor Brian Needelman (third from left) works with a group of students, staff and volunteers sampling soils at a marsh at the Blackwater National Wildlife Refuge in Dorchester County, MD.COLLEGE PARK, Md. – A team of scientists, including Associate Professor Brian Needelman from the University of Maryland’s Department of Environmental Science and Technology, has developed a method for measuring the removal of greenhouse gases from the atmosphere achieved through coastal wetland restoration. The methodology, approved Tuesday, November 24th by the Verified Carbon Standard, will make it possible for these types of environmentally beneficial restoration projects to receive funding around the world.

Coastal wetlands – which include salt marsh, seagrass, mangroves and other tidal wetlands – are some of the most productive habitats in the world. In addition to providing critical fish habitat, improving water quality, and protecting the coastline from storms, coastal wetlands also remove large amounts of carbon dioxide from the atmosphere through photosynthesis. This carbon (referred to as “blue carbon”) is then stored in the ground, where it can remain for centuries or more, as long as the habitat is not degraded or destroyed. 

However, development pressures, polluted runoff and sea-level rise has caused the loss of 50 percent of U.S. wetlands since the 1800s. Globally, coastal wetland loss is estimated to be between 0.7-7 percent a year, and restoration projects are largely underfunded, despite the myriad of benefits these habitats provide. As coastal habitat is destroyed, the carbon stored in its soil may be emitted back into the atmosphere, contributing to global climate change. 

This landmark methodology provides the procedures for how to calculate, report, and verify greenhouse gas reductions for tidal wetland restoration projects globally. Now, projects such as removing tidal barriers, improving water quality to increase seagrass habitat, beneficial use of dredged material, and reintroducing native plant communities will be eligible to earn carbon credits on the voluntary carbon market, generating new sources of funding. 

“I’ve spent a lot of time with coastal wetlands. I love them. They provide so many ecosystem services and are just beautiful ecosystems themselves,” says Needelman, PhD, who has spent a decade researching coastal wetlands and the last four helping to develop the methodology. “Unfortunately, coastal wetlands are vanishing globally at unprecedented rates. This methodology is one way we can help people who want to do something to reverse this trend by giving them a tool that will make securing funding easier.”

Carbon credits are purchased by companies or individuals to offset the emissions they can’t reduce. Thanks to this new methodology, companies can purchase carbon credits to support coastal habitat projects that provide a climate benefit.

In addition to Dr. Needelman, who is listed as second author, the methodology was developed by Dr. Igino Emmer from Silvestrum, Steve Emmett-Mattox from Restore America’s Estuaries, Dr. Steve Crooks from Environmental Science Associates, Dr. Pat Megonigal from the Smithsonian Environmental Research Center, Doug Myers from the Chesapeake Bay Foundation, Matthew Oreska from the University of Virginia, Dr. Karen McGlathery from the University of Virginia and David Shoch from Terracarbon.

Needelman’s research was funded in large part by the Maryland Department of Natural Resources Power Plant Research Program. The methodology development was led by Restore America’s Estuaries with financial support from the National Estuarine Research Reserve System Science Collaborative (under the Bringing Wetlands to Market: Nitrogen and Coastal Blue Carbon Project), The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s Office of Habitat Conservation, The Ocean Foundation, The Curtis and Edith Munson Foundation, and KBR.

UMD Bioscience Day Brings Together Researchers, Venture Capitalists & Entrepreneurs

November 24, 2015

Elise Carbonaro 301-405-6501 

COLLEGE PARK, Md. – The University of Maryland’s annual Bioscience Day event held on campus last week offered researchers the opportunity to present their innovations and explain why they matter to the world.

As part of Bioscience Day 2015, a Professor Venture Fair showcased faculty and student inventions to investors and entrepreneurs, providing researchers with the chance to get commercialization advice and establish connections with potential partners and businesses. Associate Vice President for Innovation and Entrepreneurship Dean Chang moderated the fair. The panel of judges was comprised of Ken Malone, Matt Cohen, James Hoberg, and Matthew Miessau.

Five presenters—with inventions that ranged from a tool that can predict the outcome of cancer treatment to a sensor device and cloud-based system that can reduce lower back injuries—were selected to present their work at the Venture Fair.

Best Pitch Winner Shuwei Li (center) with Office of Technology Commercialization Executive Director Gayatri Varma and UMD Associate Vice President for Innovation & Entrepreneurship Dean Chang.High-Affinity Reagents and Methods for Next Generation Protein Sequencing
Best Pitch Winner

Shuwei Li, an assistant professor with the UMD Institute for Bioscience and Biotechnology Research, presented his new and innovative reagents and methods for protein sequencing. Li developed a method to detect proteins of low abundance that cannot be amplified easily, unlike nucleic acids present in DNA.

“Like next generation DNA sequencing that has made $1K genome possible and revolutionized medicine and agriculture, the next generation protein sequencing will have broad impacts on clinical diagnostics and precision medicine,” said Li. His technology is also a step ahead of current technologies because it enables the detection of how individual cells respond to drugs.

Multifunctional biodegradable carriers for drug delivery

Also at the UMD Institute for Bioscience and Biotechnology Research, Research Professor Alexander Andrianov developed multifunctional polymers that can carry drugs and vaccines, and are chemically diverse, biodegradable, and water-soluble. Using the polyphosphazene synthetic platform, the polymer systems find wide applications.  

“Today, there is an unmet need for new biocompatible carriers to improve efficacy and safety of therapeutics and vaccines,” Andrianov said. “[The Bioscience Day Professor Venture Fair] is a great opportunity to share our vision of the technology.”

Predicting Success of Pharmaceuticals for Cancer Treatment Using Synthetic Rescues

A team of scientists developed a tool that can actually predict the success rates of certain cancer treatment methods and help patients by suggesting which treatment methods won’t work. The software actually uses individual genomic profiles and compares the genetic profile being analyzed to existing profiles and treatment outcomes.

“With the recently available large collection of patient tumor samples, we developed a novel computational technique to identify genetic interactions in whole-genome scale and capitalize them to design optimal treatments for individual cancer patients,” said Joo Sang Lee from the University of Maryland Institute for Advanced Computer Studies (UMIACS).

The new precision medicine approach could personalize cancer treatment and enhance drug development, putting it in collaboration with pharmaceutical companies, Lee said. Lee has worked with Eytan Ruppin, professor of computer science and director of the Center for Bioinformatics and Computational Biology to develop the technology, which Lee presented at Bioscience Day.

Topical Treatment for Gonorrhea

Wenxia Song, a professor in the Department of Cell Biology and Molecular Genetics, developed a way of inhibiting the bacteria that causes gonorrhea by identifying the very method the bacteria uses to attack and cause disease.

”Our solution (not based on an antibiotic) can prevent and treat drug-resistant gonorrhea, which is an asymptomatic and urgent threat according to CDC,” said Mark Wang, who completed his Ph.D. at UMD and worked with Song. Wang said that the method could prevent disease in both men and women.

A Sensor Device and Cloud-Based System to Reduce Lower Back Injury in the Workforce

Marc Cohen, visiting assistant research scientist in the Institute for Systems Research (ISR), presented ErgonometriX, a personal wearable device and cloud-based system that can reduce lower back injury. The simple device can be worn by workers and has a sensor that captures physical movement and sends data to a cloud. The data is then analyzed using algorithms to suggest better methods to alter lifting, carrying and other physical demands to lower risk of back problems.

“By providing feedback to the employers' ergonomics officers, workers’ behaviors can be altered over time to eliminate at-risk maneuvers,” Cohen explained. “This is a great honor and opportunity to show the UMD community what we are doing and gain exposure to potential investors.”

UMD Study Explains Racial and Ethnic Disparities in Unintended Pregnancy

November 23, 2015

Kelly Blake 301-405-9418

COLLEGE PARK, Md. – A new study from the University of Maryland School of Public Health examined why African American and Hispanic women have higher rates of unintended pregnancy than White women. 

Researchers found that there were unique factors explaining the differences in unintended pregnancy between African Americans and Whites—respondent’s mother’s age at first birth, income, and health insurance status—and the differences between Hispanics and Whites—U.S. born status and educational level. Maternal age and marital status differences also explained both racial and ethnic disparities. 

The study provides evidence in support of culturally-tailored public health interventions targeted to groups of women that may be younger, unmarried, lower-income, less-educated, non-U.S. born, or uninsured or publicly insured. 

Dr. Dagher, assistant professor of health services administration at the University of Maryland School of Public Health and senior author on the study“Preventing unintended pregnancy should be a public health priority. In the United States, 51 percent of all pregnancies are unintended, and these happen disproportionately among racial and ethnic minorities,” said Dr. Rada Dagher, assistant professor of health services administration at the University of Maryland School of Public Health and senior author on the study. “Our study showed that there are modifiable factors such as health insurance status and education that can be targeted by policymakers to reduce these disparities.” 

This study is the first to use Fairlie decomposition analyses to investigate the reasons behind racial and ethnic disparities in unintended pregnancy. This statistical method helps with understanding the specific factors that explain the differences in rates of unintended pregnancy between African Americans and Whites, or Hispanics and Whites, and what percent of the difference each factor explains. It is published in the American Journal of Preventive Medicine.

Dr. Dagher’s prior research has shown that women with unintended pregnancies take the shortest maternity leaves, which may have a detrimental impact on their health and the health of their babies. Other studies have shown that women with unintended pregnancies report increased levels of stress and depression, delayed prenatal care, increased likelihood of smoking and drinking during pregnancy, and are more likely to experience psychological and physical abuse. 

“The fact that African American and Hispanic women have even higher rates of unintended pregnancy than Whites (63 percent and 48 percent versus 42 percent, respectively) underscores the importance of tailoring multilevel interventions that address the underlying causes of the disparities,” Dr. Dagher said. 

The study utilizes 2006-2010 data from the National Survey of Family Growth, collected by the National Center for Health Statistics at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. The authors analyzed data on 3,557 pregnancies that occurred before 36 months had passed between the interview and conception months. They chose this time span to reduce recall bias of unintended pregnancies. This analytical sample included 1,017 African American women (28 percent), 967 Hispanic women (27 percent), and 1,593 White women (45 percent). The authors applied the Fairlie decomposition analysis to determine how intrapersonal, interpersonal, institutional, community, and public policy factors explain the racial and ethnic disparities in unintended pregnancy.

Being single and younger than 20 years old at the time of conception contributed to the differences in unintended pregnancy between African American and White women, and between Hispanic and White women. Earning below 100 percent Federal Poverty Level (FPL) compared to 200 percent FPL or higher, having public insurance versus private insurance, and respondent’s mother being 25 years or younger contributed to the differences in unintended pregnancy between African American and White women. On the other hand, not being born in the U.S. and not having a Bachelor’s degree contributed to the differences between Hispanic and White women. The analytical model explained 51 percent of the difference in unintended pregnancy between African American and White women, and 73 percent of the difference between Hispanic and White women. 

The study concludes that interventions to reduce unintended pregnancy should target at-risk groups of women such as younger, unmarried, lower income, lower educated, non-U.S. born women, and those with public insurance. One potential policy intervention relates to women’s health insurance coverage. Under the Affordable Care Act (ACA), health plans must cover women’s preventive care, including contraceptives without cost sharing. Moreover, Medicaid has expanded in 30 states, including Washington, D.C. 

“Our study only included data between 2006 and 2010; thus, it would be interesting to explore whether there are decreases in unintended pregnancy and related racial and ethnic disparities with the ACA’s removal of cost sharing and with Medicaid expansions,” Dr. Dagher added.

Northrop Grumman Foundation Renews Commitment to UMD's Honors College Cybersecurity Program with $2.76M Gift

November 23, 2015

Crystal Brown, UMD, 301-405-4618
Mark Root, Northrop Grumman, 703-280-2739

Funding Will Spur Program Growth by Supporting Additional Staffing, Programming,
Scholarships and Facilities for Upperclassmen

COLLEGE PARK, Md. – The University of Maryland today announced a renewed commitment of $2.76 million from the Northrop Grumman Foundation to its Advanced Cybersecurity Experience for Students (ACES) program. 

The ACES program – the nation’s first honors program in cybersecurity – was launched by UMD's Honors College in 2012 with support from the Northrop Grumman Foundation to address a critical, national strategic need. Since its inception, the ACES program has offered 65 percent more credits than originally targeted and served 50 percent more students than originally anticipated. ACES began as a living-learning program for freshman and sophomore students. With this renewed commitment, the program will now expand to offer a more advanced cybersecurity curriculum to juniors and seniors, culminating in an ACES minor.

"The support that the Northrop Grumman Foundation has committed in support of the ACES program shows how important this type of workforce is to the nation," says Mary Ann Rankin, UMD's senior vice president and provost. "This generous gift will allow us to continue to educate and train our students to be future cybersecurity leaders and meet the growing needs in the nation and state."

"We are delighted with the growth of the ACES program and the surge of interest among students from several dozen different disciplines at the University of Maryland," says Sandra Evers-Manly, President, Northrop Grumman Foundation. "We hope that our continued support will help the program reach and attract an even greater and more diverse population of students."

The gift from the Northrop Grumman Foundation will allow ACES to prepare a larger, more diverse student body for leadership roles in this burgeoning field through extended instruction and program administration; an enhanced experiential learning environment; scholarships for recruiting and retaining a diverse, high-achieving student body; and dedicated spaces on campus for the ACES program to thrive. 

"The ACES curriculum delivers a unique, interdisciplinary perspective of cybersecurity across many sectors with an emphasis on experiential learning. This breadth of expertise is a crucial foundation for the program's success in forming future cybersecurity leaders," says ACES Director Michel Cukier. "The support from Northrop Grumman will allow us to expand our current breadth by hiring full-time instructors and engaging experts from industry and government, developing a larger infrastructure for experiential learning and in turn, giving us the ability to adapt to cybersecurity’s changing demands."

One of the highest priorities of the Honors College is to recruit an academically high-achieving and diverse student body. With the additional funding, UMD will expand its recruitment efforts, including collaboration with the UMD ROTC programs and campus veterans, increased visibility in Maryland community colleges, and investment in K-12 cybersecurity-related programs. 

In addition, the Northrop Grumman ACES Scholarship Program will offer scholarships to first-generation college students and those with financial need, as well as veteran, ROTC and transfer students. New scholarship funds will also support study-abroad opportunities, and travel to national conferences and competitions. 

The Honors College will also launch a new ACES cybersecurity lab. This research-grade facility will offer upper-level students fully isolated, state-of-the-art technology and software to model the latest security challenges through direct instruction, team-building activities and independent and group study.

The University of Maryland was recently awarded the Association of Public and Land-grant Universities' top award – the Connections Award – which honors an institution working to build connections between innovation and entrepreneurship, talent development, and social, community and cultural development. UMD was named a winner in part for its ACES partnership with the Northrop Grumman Foundation to help supply trained workers to serve the cyber community.

To learn more about the ACES program, visit www.aces.umd.edu

About the Honors College
The Honors College is home to UMD’s highly acclaimed living-learning programs for students with exceptional academic talents. The Honors College welcomes students into a close-knit community of faculty and intellectually gifted undergraduates committed to acquiring a broad and balanced education. The Honors College features small classes taught by an outstanding faculty who encourage discussion and foster innovative thinking. For more information, visit www.honors.umd.edu.


December 1
Temperature outcomes hinge on emission reduction efforts post-2030. Read
November 30
First African American to obtain a graduate degree from UMD to be honored at formal ceremony. Read
November 30
Study outlines how brain function varies across cultures. Read
November 24
Digital measurements of millions of trees indicate that previous studies likely overestimate the amount of carbon... Read