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Monday, March 30, 2015

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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 Report: Education, Infrastructure and Affordable Housing Key to Maryland’s Economic Growth

March 26, 2015
Contacts: 

Maggie Haslam 202-258-8946 

COLLEGE PARK, Md.—A new report released this week by the University of Maryland’s National Center for Smart Growth states that while Maryland boasts a strong economic foundation, it must respond to 21st century challenges—like aging infrastructure, a diverse population and regional economic disparities—if it wants to ensure long-term economic success. The report, “Beyond Smart Growth: An Economic Development Strategy for 21st Century Maryland,” suggests a path for the State of Maryland’s role in continued economic growth, including what many economists claim is critical to long-term economic prosperity: addressing economic, social, and environmental challenges—the triple bottom line.

The report, which is the culmination of a three-year study funded in part by the Surdna and Abell Foundations, reviews economic trends and presents forecasts for the state’s population, employment, industrial structure and “factors of production” as the basis for its recommendations.  According to the report, Maryland leads the nation in many economic indicators, including a stable economic base, a resistance to economic downturns, and has consistently experienced lower unemployment and generally high incomes.  Although it is emerging from the great recession rather slowly, the state’s cumulative growth in the GDP exceeds the national average by 20 percent. 

Yet, Maryland is not immune to the larger social and environmental trends affecting states across the nation. Social indicators have generally stayed flat. While wages of top earners (at the 90th percentile) have grown to exceed their pre-recession levels, real wages for most households have continued to decline. Income inequality has increased markedly over the last decade, with high poverty rates seen in the state’s most vulnerable populations: the unemployed, disabled, Hispanic and female-headed households. Over the past decade, Maryland has also become one of the most racially diverse states in the nation; minorities comprise almost half the state’s population, making it sixth in the nation in minority population share. While the report does not offer a comprehensive environmental study, it points to declining environmental indicators, mostly due to climate change and increased population. Congestion is a looming issue; the amount of time commuters spend in traffic is expected to grow 80 percent over the next 15 years.

“The State of Maryland still has one of the strongest economies in the nation,” said Gerrit Knaap, Director of the National Center for Smart Growth and primary investigator of the report. “But unless the state prepares tomorrow’s workforce, provides them with affordable housing, and enables them to get to work in reasonable time, the state will lose it competitive advantage.”

Researchers suggest Maryland should capitalize on its strengths—such as its proximity to the federal government, an extensive transit system, fast-growing industries like heath care and professional services, and a resilient economy. In addition to improving it tax and regulatory climate, state officials should support diverse and emerging industries to keep Maryland competitive. The state should target spending and transportation investments to the 23 job centers located within the state to connect Maryland’s workers with employment and increase worker productivity.

Most importantly, the report stresses, unless low-income residents are provided access to opportunity, the state will help sustain a cycle of poverty and inequity. The report recommends developing strategies that embrace and meet the needs of the state’s diverse population, offering pathways to education and workforce training and that remove barriers to affordable housing in high opportunity areas.

“This report doesn’t challenge ongoing efforts at tax and regulatory reform, efforts that will surely give the state’s economy a boost,” says Knaap. “Our message is more that the state shouldn’t lose sight of the long run, and the long-run challenges are less a matter of business climate, and more a matter of workforce development, congestion mitigation and maintaining housing affordability.  It is important to not let short term economic growth come at the expense of rising inequity and diminished environmental quality.”

“Beyond Smart Growth” follows a series of studies done by the center on economic development in the state, including a 2012 report on economic and demographic trends, two 2014 reports that identify 23 “job centers” in the state and a report earlier this month examining the state’s poor. These studies are the result of a Sustainable and Equitable Economic Development (SEED) grant in 2011 from the Surdna and Abell Foundations.

The full report can be found on the National Center for Smart Growth’s website

Supermassive Black Hole Blasts Star-Making Gas From Galaxy’s Core

March 25, 2015
Contacts: 

Matthew Wright 301-405-9267 
Lee Tune 301-405-4679 

COLLEGE PARK, Md. – Many galaxies blast outward from their centers huge, wide-angled flows of material — pushing to their outer edges enough dust and gas each year to otherwise have formed more than a thousand stars the size of our sun. Astronomers have sought the driving force behind these massive molecular outflows, and now a team led by University of Maryland scientists has found an answer.

This artist's impression shows how the supermassive black hole at the center of IRAS F11119+3257 gathers surrounding matter from a disc (orange) and pushes it away in a powerful wind (blue). This wind powers a large-scale galactic outflow of molecular gas (reddish purple). Credit: ESA/ATG medialabA new study in the journal Nature, published March 26, 2015, provides the first observational evidence that a supermassive black hole at the center of a large galaxy can power these huge molecular outflows from deep inside the galaxy’s core. These outflows remove massive quantities of star-making gas, thus influencing the size, shape and overall fate of the host galaxy.

The galaxy highlighted in the study, known as IRAS F11119+3257, has an actively growing supermassive black hole at its center. This means that, unlike the large black hole at the center of our own Milky Way galaxy, this black hole is actively consuming large amounts of gas. As material enters the black hole, it creates friction, which in turn gives off electromagnetic radiation—including X-rays and visible light.

Black holes that fit this description are called active galactic nuclei (AGN), and their intense radiation output also generates powerful winds that force material away from the galactic center. The study found that these AGN winds are powerful enough to drive the large molecular outflows that reach to the edges of the galaxy’s borders.

Although theorists have suspected a connection between AGN winds and molecular outflows, the current study is the first to confirm the connection with observational evidence.

“This is the first galaxy in which we can see both the wind from the active galactic nucleus and the large-scale outflow of molecular gas at the same time,” said lead author Francesco Tombesi, an assistant research scientist in UMD’s astronomy department who has a joint appointment at NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center via the Center for Research and Exploration in Space Science and Technology.

This artist's impression of the galaxy IRAS F11119+3257 shows the outflow of molecular gas (red) powered by winds from a supermassive black hole at the galaxy's core. Credit: ESA/ATG medialabThe team analyzed data collected in 2013 by Suzaku, an X-ray satellite operated by the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA) and NASA, as well as data from the European Space Agency’s Herschel Space Observatory. While many previous studies independently described AGN winds and molecular outflows in separate galaxies, Tombesi and his colleagues needed to find a galaxy in which they could see both at the same time. IRAS F11119+3257 turned out to be a perfect candidate.

An alternate theory says that active star formation near the galactic center could drive molecular outflows. However, the brightness of IRAS F11119+3257’s active nucleus—which is responsible for about 80 percent of the galaxy’s overall radiation—suggested otherwise. Star formation alone cannot explain this intense concentration of energy, leading the researchers to conclude that the AGN winds must be the primary driver.

“The temptation is to ignore the supermassive black hole when studying galactic dynamics and evolution, but our study shows that you can’t because it influences galaxies on the larger scale,” said Marcio Meléndez, a research associate in UMD’s astronomy department and a co-author of the study.

Limited satellite time means that, at least for now, the team has only this one galaxy as a baseline for study. But now that they have a better idea what they are looking for, they will be able to find more candidate galaxies in the future. Within the next year, JAXA and NASA will launch ASTRO-H, a successor satellite to Suzaku. The instruments aboard ASTRO-H will make it possible to study more galaxies like IRAS F11119+3257 in greater detail.

“These are not like normal spiral or elliptical galaxies. They’re like train wrecks,” said Sylvain Veilleux, a professor of astronomy at UMD and a fellow at the Joint Space-Science Institute (JSI) who is also a co-author of the study. “Two galaxies collided with each other, and it’s now a single object. This train wreck provided all the material to feed the supermassive black hole that is now driving the huge galactic-scale outflow.”

In addition to Tombesi, Meléndez and Veilleux, study authors included UMD astronomy professor and JSI fellow Chris Reynolds; James Reeves of Keele University in the United Kingdom; and Eduardo González-Alfonso of the Universidad de Alcalá in Spain.

Researchers Successfully Produce Genome-Edited Pigs Using Revolutionary Technology

March 25, 2015
Contacts: 

Sara Gavin 301-405-9235

COLLEGE PARK, Md. – Eighteen piglets born recently are the result of two years of intense research by scientists in the College of Agriculture and Natural Resources at the University of Maryland and represent a breakthrough in the field of genetic engineering. Bhanu Telugu, PhD, an assistant professor in the Department of Animal & Avian Sciences (ANSC) and Ki-Eun Park, PhD, a faculty research assistant in ANSC, successfully produced genome-edited pigs using a recently developed, groundbreaking technique called the CRISPR system.

Known as a “target and replace/modify function” for DNA, the CRISPR system has dramatically improved scientists’ ability to disable genes or modify their function inside any living cell. Originally discovered in a natural system used by bacteria to protect themselves from infection by viruses, the CRISPR method is currently being tested in various biomedical applications on a variety of species. Park and Telugu’s lab is one of only a handful in North America to successfully use the method in pigs.

“From a bio-medical standpoint, the pig is really one of the most important animals,” said Telugu, noting that other large animal models like cows or sheep don’t have digestive systems, diets or physiology similar enough to humans’ to provide insight into human diseases. Park and Telugu were able to put their own “spin” on the method, discovering a way to directly modify nucleotides, rather than deleting specific genes to achieve their desired result. The duo is pursuing a patent on this technique.

Park and Telugu’s research is not related to production for human consumption. Now that the researchers have been successful using this revolutionary technology, they plan to look for applications that would improve animal welfare, including disease resistance. Telugu recently received a $1.6 million grant from the USDA’s National Institute of Food and Agriculture (NIFA) to research flu resistance in pigs. He plans to further that research using this new technique and to look for ways to study other human diseases through the pig model, such as diabetes and obesity.

UMD Students Raise Money to Free Imprisoned Journalists

March 25, 2015
Contacts: 

Carolyn Lasky, RoseComm, 201-656-7178

Funds Will Allow Students to Sell Bracelets to Benefit the
Committee to Protect Journalists’ Emergency Assistance Fund

COLLEGE PARK, Md. – A group of University of Maryland journalism students are raising money to free imprisoned journalists by selling bracelets bearing their names. 

The students and their professor, Pulitzer Prize-winning Washington Post reporter Dana Priest, created the campaign, Press Uncuffed, to support the Committee to Protect Journalists, an independent, nonprofit organization that advocates for journalists in danger. Last fall, Priest assigned each of her students an imprisoned journalist to profile for the semester. The students developed a better understanding of the journalists’ experience and wanted to do more to help release them. The idea of creating and selling bracelets was born out of this experience.

“The last three years have been the worst on record for the safety of journalists covering news in many parts of the world,” said Dana Priest, the John S. and James L. Knight Chair in Public Affairs Journalism at the Philip Merrill College of Journalism. “The problem is getting worse, not better. With 221 journalists currently imprisoned, the funds raised through this campaign will help put pressure on the governments holding journalists in prison and raise awareness of the critical link between information and a free and prosperous society.”

To raise the money, the students have launched an Indiegogo crowdfunding effort. The funds will enable the students to manufacture and package the bracelets prior to making them available for sale on World Press Freedom Day, which is May 3, 2015. 

The goal of the Indiegogo campaign is to raise $30,000 to cover production costs for a minimum of 10,000 bracelets. The bracelets are made in Memphis, Tennessee with LuciteLux® clear acrylic to remind wearers of the importance of transparency of information. These bracelets, bearing nine imprisoned journalists’ names, will be available for sale online for $10.00 each on World Press Freedom Day. The campaign will introduce additional names as funds allow.

Press Uncuffed will start with bracelets honoring nine journalists, including: 

  • Ammar Abdulrasool in Bahrain
  • Mahmoud Abou Zeid (Shawkan) in Egypt
  • Reeyot Alemu in Ethiopia
  • Khadija Ismayilova in Azerbaijan
  • Bheki Makhubu in Swaziland
  • Ta Phong Tan in Vietnam
  • Jason Rezaian in Iran
  • Yusuf Ruzimuradov in Uzbekistan
  • Ilham Tohti in China

“The Press Uncuffed campaign aspires to personalize the plight of journalists who are risking everything, and paying the price, to share critical information with the world,” said Courtney Radsch, Committee to Protect Journalists’ advocacy director. “The link between freedom of the press and a free society is clear. By wearing your support for imprisoned journalists, you are helping ensure that brave journalists around the world can continue to report on topics that matter.”

For more information on Press Uncuffed and the nine journalists, visit PressUncuffed.org. 

UMD Celebrates Innovations & Partnerships

March 24, 2015
Contacts: 

Ted Knight 301-405-3596

Awards part of UMD’s annual 30 Days of EnTERPreneurship

COLLEGE PARK, Md. - For University of Maryland researchers, the last year has marked a series of new discoveries and innovations: a revolutionary nanopore battery with high storage capabilities, a language aptitude measuring system, and a national food safety database to improve safety measures in retail establishments, just to name a few. UMD will honor nine nominees for the most promising new inventions at the Celebration of Innovation and Partnerships event on April 29, held as part of the University of Maryland’s ’30 Days of EnTERPreneurship,’ a month-long celebration and exhibition of innovation and entrepreneurship.

The Corporate Connector of the Year award will also be announced at the event. The award is given each year to an individual or a program in the university who has established partnerships with the private sector in corporate research, philanthropy, and/or student support.

UMD’s Office of Technology Commercialization, part of the Division of Research, received a total of 187 disclosures in 2014. The nine nominees for Invention of the Year were selected based upon their potential impact on science, society, and the open market. Winners will be announced in three categories: physical sciences, life sciences, and information sciences.

The nominees in the Life Sciences category are:

A New Vaccine Delivery Technique for Treating Cancer and Autoimmune Diseases
Dr. Christopher Jewell, assistant professor at the Fischell Department of Bioengineering, along with his colleague, Dr. Darrell Irvine, professor of materials science and engineering and biomedical engineering at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, have invented a vaccine delivery technique that could tremendously enhance the management of cancer and autoimmune diseases. The technology can dramatically increase the efficiency and specificity of therapeutic vaccines by effectively targeting the lymph node.

A Groundbreaking New Bacteria Detection Device to Safeguard Food
Another groundbreaking life sciences invention is an apparatus developed by Dr. Javier Atencia-Fernandez, research assistant professor at the Fischell Department of Bioengineering. The device can cause bacteria present in food to actually self-separate so that researchers and users in independent labs that perform food safety tests for the food industry can rapidly detect pathogens in food samples. It only takes the device 30 minutes to extract 75% of the bacteria in a food sample, and two hours and 30 minutes to extract 99%. By comparison, existing processes take 12 to 36 hours.

A New Enzyme for Eliminating Staphylococcus (Staph) Bacteria
Along with his team, Dr. Daniel C. Nelson, assistant professor at the UMD Department of Veterinary Medicine, who is also with the Institute for Bioscience and Biotechnology Research (IBBR), has identified an enzyme produced by bacteriophages that selectively targets Staphylococcus bacteria, which causes life-threatening infections in humans. The new invention is PlyGRCS, an endolysin enzyme which chews up the cell wall of the bacterium, causing its death and offering a new alternative to traditional antibiotics. The new enzyme is capable of cleaving the cell wall through two places as opposed to traditional endolysins, which can cleave in only one dimension. 

Nominees in the Physical Sciences category include: 

A Revolutionary, High Energy Density Nanopore Battery
Dr. Gary Rubloff, professor of materials science and engineering and director of the Maryland NanoCenter, invented a nanopore battery with high energy density and excellent capacity retention. The battery is made of nanotubular electrodes and an electrolyte, all confined in an anodic aluminum oxide nanopore. It is an all-in-one device and shows promise for higher energy availability for a given power density due to larger surface area and shorter transport time for the ions in the electrode material. It signifies the potential that nanostructure design has for high power electrochemical storage.

A New Joint Soldering Paste with High Temperature Resistance
Mechanical Engineering Professor Patrick McCluskey and his research team have developed a Transient Liquid Phase Sintering (TLPS) paste. The paste uses very low cost materials and gives high temperature resistance upon solder joint completion. These joints need no vacuum or reduced atmosphere for processing, possess high melting temperatures of above 600 ℃, and have superior drop test reliability than traditional silver-tin solders. 

A New Single-Photon Avalanche Diode System for LIDAR and Quantum Cryptography
UMD researchers have developed a single-photon avalanche diode (SPAD) detection system that is so sensitive that it detects photons that arrive at times well before a readout gate is applied, hence increasing the system’s detection duty cycle. This invention by Dr. Alessandro Restelli of the Joint Quantum Institute represents a new mode of operation for SPADs, similar to charge-coupled devices (CCD), in which single-photon signals may be accumulated within the detector and read out some time later. This increases the duration of time during which the detector is sensitive to single-photon signals. This new mode of operation will expand the usefulness of SPADs in the areas of Light Detection and Ranging (LIDAR) and quantum cryptography. 

The nominees in the Information Sciences category are:

A National System for Tracking Food Safety Inspections
With the food and beverage industry becoming increasingly competitive, the system developed by Dr. Ben Bederson, professor in the Department of Computer Science and associate provost of learning initiatives, is set to help commercial food establishments monitor the performance of their outlets located across multiple jurisdictions and also track the performance of their competitors. Bederson and his research team have developed a national database of food safety inspections, a system that retrieves and compiles food safety data available online on both federal and state websites. 

A New Testing Method for Assessing Foreign Language Aptitude
Dr. Catherine Doughty, senior research scientist from the Center for the Advanced Study of Language (CASL) and her team have designed and developed an aptitude testing battery that uses a series of tests to find out what level of proficiency a learner can achieve while undergoing training in a foreign language. Using tests, the Hi-level Language Aptitude Battery and Aptitude Profile Card System also indicate the best learning style for individual learners. 

Detecting Electric Network Frequency (ENF) Signals from Video using the Rolling Shutter Mechanism
This nomination is a novel technique to measure Electric Network Frequency (ENF) signals by exploiting the rolling shutter mechanism in a modern Complementary Metal-Oxide-Semiconductor or CMOS-based camera. The technology, developed by Dr. Min Wu, professor in the Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering, the University of Maryland Institute for Advanced Computer Studies, and the Institute for Systems Research, along with her research team, enables the source verification of a video stream by extracting the ENF signals using a camera that views objects lit with incandescent or fluorescent lighting with a rolling shutter. 

University of Maryland Announces 5th Annual Good Neighbor Day

March 23, 2015
Contacts: 

Tricia Homer 301-852-0197
Graham Binder 301-405-4076 

Collaborative event emphasizes messages of community engagement,
beautification, and health and wellness

College Park, MD – This March 28th marks the 5th Annual Good Neighbor Day in the City of College Park, Maryland -- a collaboration between the University of Maryland, City of College Park and Maryland National Capital Park and Planning Commission (MNCPP-C).

Good Neighbor Day is a day of service learning and community building that engages UMD and City of College Park residents, through beautification projects, workshops, health screenings and more. Good Neighbor Day is a chance for everybody to give back: whatever your skill set, age, or level of physical mobility, there are a variety of different service-learning projects designed to benefit the surrounding community. Newly added for this year is a 5K Run/Walk, in support of Lose It To Win It, a student-run weight loss initiative from UMD’s School of Public Health. All service projects and health screening events begin at 9am, with 5K start time at 8am. A light lunch and closing ceremony will conclude the day’s activities. 

Registrants have the option to engage in one of the following projects:

+ Beautification Projects.  Volunteers can participate in cleanup efforts at Paint Branch Elementary School, North Gate Park and the Hiker-Biker (Trolley Trail). 

+ Food Drive.  During the month of March, including day-of, campus and off-campus partners are collecting non-perishable goods to benefit the College Food Bank and the UMD Campus Pantry. Good Neighbor Day Food Drive efforts will help low-income members of our community who face food insecurity during the spring months and are at risk of going hungry after the surge of food donations during the winter holiday season dies down.

+ Free Health Screenings. The College Park Lions Club will provide free hearing, vision and glaucoma screenings.

+ Free workshops hosted by experts.  Learn how to use equipment in the gym,   Learn strategies for budgeting and getting out of debt,   Participate in a discussion about the steps to start a community garden, and much more.

+ Local Service and Community Organization Expo.  Over a dozen service organizations will be on hand to share information and provide resources.

+ “Lose It to Win It” 5k Fun Run/Walk. Before Good Neighbor Day kicks off, volunteers can participate in and informal Lose It to Win It 5k run/walk along Lake Artemesia. This fun 5k is in support of a student-run initiative from the UMD School of Public Health— Lose It to Win It

Good Neighbor Day 2015 will be held at the College Park Community Center located at 5051 Pierce Avenue, College Park, MD 20740.

Register online today to guarantee a spot on the team—and a free t-shirt, breakfast & lunch. 

Visit www.goodneighborday.umd.edu to register.

Judges & Finalists Announced for 10th Annual Business Competition Chaired by Under Armour Founder & CEO

March 23, 2015
Contacts: 

Laurin WolfUnder Armour, 410-454-2512 ext. 5262
Greg MuraskiUniversity of Maryland’s Robert H. Smith School of Business, 301-405-5283 

Six Cupid’s Cup Finalists Will Compete for $115K in Cash Prizes

Baltimore, Md. — Today Under Armour Founder and CEO Kevin Plank and the Dingman Center for Entrepreneurship at the University of Maryland’s Robert H. Smith School of Business announced the panel of judges who will choose the winners of the 2015 Cupid’s Cup Business Competition. This year’s panel is comprised of top-level business executives and entrepreneurs who have built their organizations into industry leaders and exemplify the innovative spirit behind the Cupid’s Cup.    

This year marks the 10th anniversary of the competition chaired by Plank, a graduate of the University of Maryland, and strives to foster interest in student entrepreneurship. The international competition is open to undergraduate and graduate-level students at accredited colleges and universities, and recent graduates of these institutions. Winners will receive $115,000 in total cash prizes, coaching from a team of successful entrepreneurs, and in-kind services from top companies.

Joining Plank on the judge’s panel are the following individuals: 

Daymond John, Founder and CEO, FUBU and Shark Branding— Now a star of ABC's hit show “Shark Tank,” John has evolved over the last 20 years from a fashion icon of his generation to one of the most sought-after branding experts and motivational speakers in the country. He created FUBU, “For Us By Us,” which represented a lifestyle neglected by other clothing companies. The birth of his brand opened up the urban apparel space and laid the groundwork for other companies to compete in this newly established market.

Karen Katz, CEO, Neiman Marcus Group— Katz has led Neiman-Marcus Group since 2010 and grown its position as an international, multi-brand, omni-channel retailer. The company’s portfolio of brands includes Neiman Marcus, Bergdorf Goodman and mytheresa.com. Since joining the Neiman-Marcus in 1985, she has served in key executive and leadership roles in the company's merchant, stores and e-commerce organizations. 

Mike Lee, Co-founder and CEO, MyFitnessPal— Since he co-founded MyFitnessPal in 2005, Lee has guided it to its position as a leading health and fitness platform, now a part of the greater Under Armour digital community, which also includes MapMyFitness and Endomondo. Prior to MyFitnessPal, he co-founded NextC, a venture-funded startup focused on building online communities. Through 20 years in the technology industry, he has held leadership positions at other Silicon Valley startups including Palm, Handspring, Beyond.com and Regis McKenna.

Ted Leonsis, CEO, Monumental Sports and Entertainment— Leonsis is founder, chairman, majority owner and CEO of Monumental Sports & Entertainment, which owns and operates the Washington Capitals, Washington Wizards, Washington Mystics and Verizon Center. Leonsis serves on the board of governors for the NBA and NHL. He is a cofounder and partner in the “speed-up capital” Revolution Growth Fund II, founder and chairman of content and technology company SnagFilms and serves on the board of American Express. Previously, Leonsis served as the CEO of Groupon and spent 14 years in various leadership roles at AOL. 

The judges will evaluate six finalists, narrowed down from a pool of 12 semifinalists who presented at Under Armour headquarters on March 10. The finals of the competition will take place on April 22 at the University of Maryland, College Park, and will be emceed by Dhani Jones. A former NFL player with the New York Giants, the Philadelphia Eagles, and the Cincinnati Bengals, Jones has transitioned into a life dedicated to improving the planet and the lives of others. He works with Al Gore’s climate change initiative and his own philanthropic venture, Bow Tie Cause, which designs bow ties to support various charitable groups. In June 2011, Jones’ book "The Sportsman: Unexpected Lessons from an Around the World Sports Odyssey," was released, detailing his career in the NFL, his time as the host of a Travel Channel original series, Dhani Tackles the Globe, and his observations on the ability of sports to open a window into a culture and to unlock a common passion in people all around the world. 

The finalists are: 

  • Gym Supreme (University of Maryland) – a fitness start-up that designs patented fitness products, including the Mega Bar, to help individuals stay consistent with their health goals
  • GudNeSs Bar (Duke University, School of Medicine) – combats iron deficiency in India through increasing awareness and distribution of the GudNeSs bar, which provides the World Health Organization’s recommended daily iron dosage.
  • Scholly (Drexel University) – a mobile and web application that allows students to easily research and find scholarships for college
  • SnappyScreen, Inc. (Cornell University) – makers of the world’s first touch-less sunscreen application system
  • VirtualU INC (Virginia Tech) – integrates 3D human modeling technology into the fitness and healthcare space so people can accurately track how their bodies change as they lose weight
  • ZOOS Greek Iced Teas (Stetson University) – an all-natural, real-brewed, caffeine-free, ready-to-drink Greek Iced Tea 

For more information about the competition, please visit www.cupidscup.umd.edu.

The University of Maryland Partners with Uber to Foster Mission of Innovation and Entrepreneurship

March 23, 2015
Contacts: 

Katie Lawson 301-405-4622

Strategic collaboration to include investments in UMD's Startup Shell
to support student-generated innovation

COLLEGE PARK, Md. - The University of Maryland and Uber, a technology company connecting riders to drivers through its mobile app, today announced a unique partnership to foster, support and advance student-driven innovations and technology.

The partnership will provide significant investment, including $25,000 in the Startup Shell, a student-run coworking space and incubator at the University of Maryland.  Uber will award investor grants to student-created companies over the next two years and will engage students through a variety of unique business competitions.

Additionally, mentors will be made available to students throughout the year and an innovation council will be formed to crowdsource ideas from students, faculty, and staff, and to explore research and development opportunities, as well as transportation solutions. Uber plans to experiment with on demand services for students on campus as well.

"Uber is a classic example that everyone uses when discussing the innovation economy," said Startup Shell co-director Mackenzie Burnett.  Co-director Jeff Hilnbrand agreed, adding, "They recognize that collaboration, creativity and community are key elements of Startup Shell, and partnerships like this one make us even more proud to call ourselves Terps."

There are a number of projects in the pipeline that reinforce President Wallace D. Loh's commitment to position the University of Maryland as one of the most innovative research institutions in the country and College Park as a thriving university town. Other projects include the Brendan Iribe Center for Computer Science and Innovation; the reimagined Cole Field House which will house the Terrapin Performance Center and Academy for Innovation and Entrepreneurship; the St. John Learning & Teaching Center; the A. James Clark Hall to advance biomedical and engineering technologies, and a new, four-star hotel and conference center at the entrance of the university.

"Partnering with Uber furthers our mission to position the University of Maryland as a leading public research institution, equipping students with top-notch entrepreneurial skills and opportunities," said Ken Ulman, a UMD strategist for economic development. "We are thrilled that Uber recognizes the opportunity to solve challenges in College Park and to engage our highly motivated students in the process of moving our innovation economy forward," said Ulman.

"The spirit of collaboration and entrepreneurship being fostered at the University of Maryland, especially student-led and driven, is truly something special," said Zuhairah Washington, general manager of Uber DC. "The University of Maryland's mantra of pursuing fearless ideas is a great complement to Uber's fearless approach to problem solving in the 21st century."

UMD prides itself as a pioneer in educating the next generation of innovators and entrepreneurs, ranked as one of the nation's top schools for entrepreneurship and innovation. In the Princeton Review's 2015 "Best Colleges for Entrepreneurs" list, UMD ranks No. 9 among public schools and No. 21 overall for its undergraduate program. The university was also recognized as No. 1 among public universities No. 2 overall for tech entrepreneurship by the 2013 StartEngine College Index.

The Uber partnership announcement comes just weeks before the University of Maryland kicks off its 30 Days of EnTERPreneurship celebration, which showcases the university's commitment to fearless ideas through a series of events and competitions that ignite the entrepreneurial spirit of the campus community.

Pages

March 30
UMD honored by the Arbor Day Foundation for its commitment to effective urban forest management.  Read
March 26
A report by UMD’s National Center for Smart Growth states that while Maryland boasts a strong economic foundation, it... Read
March 25
UMD researchers find first solid proof that black-hole winds are depriving galaxies of molecular gas and might... Read
March 25
Piglets born recently are the result of research by scientists in UMD's College of Agriculture and Natural Resources,... Read