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Monday, August 31, 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 Curates Interactive Exhibits, Fun for All Ages at 2015 Maryland State Fair

August 25, 2015

Sara Gavin 301-405-9235

Live birthing center, food and farm education, dairy herd exhibits, 4-H demonstrations & more

COLLEGE PARK, Md. – Faculty, staff, students and alumni from the University of Maryland College of Agriculture & Natural Resources (AGNR) are gearing up for the Maryland State Fair which begins Friday, August 28th at the state fairgrounds in Timonium, Md. From welcoming newborn animals into the world in front of a live audience, to engaging kids in interactive lessons about where their food comes from, to showcasing some of the finest dairy cows in the state, the College of AGNR is a heavyweight presence at the state fair year after year.

This year, the College of AGNR will showcase and
engage with the public at the following exhibits:


Led by AGNR Professor Emeritus, Tom Hartsock, Ph.D., animal science students from the College of AGNR will work around the clock at the Birthing Center overseeing and assisting with live births of calves, piglets and hatching chicks. The students will also help narrate the births to fairgoers who can witness the miracles first-hand. AGNR students will use Twitter and Instagram (@statefairbirths) to communicate when a labor has begun. The Birthing Center is located inside the Cow Palace behind the Dairy Bar.


An interactive, educational area designed for students of all ages, U-Learn Farm focuses on teaching children where their food comes from and what crops are grown in Maryland. Kids can decorate their own jars of grain, pose for pictures as various fruits and vegetables, play inside a big corn pit, take rides on a mini tractor and more.


The State Fair is a time to shine for the University of Maryland’s very own dairy herd. The cows are on display during the entire 11 days of the state fair, participating in milking demonstrations and showing off for passersby inside the Cow Palace. Students from the College of AGNR will oversee the herd and will be available to answer questions from fairgoers about UMD’s dairy program. Attendees are also encouraged to stop by and help the college name a newborn calf and see what last year’s state fair calf, Moonshine, looks like now at one year old.


Experts from the University of Maryland Extension Home and Garden Information Center and the Maryland Master Gardeners Program will be available to answer any gardening questions and to give tips, ideas and demonstrations to help make gardens bloom better.


The 4-H youth development program is a big part of the work of University of Maryland Extension and the College of AGNR. They’ll show off the conclusion of projects they’ve been working on throughout the year on everything from robotics to livestock to crops to crafts and clothing. 4-Hers also have the opportunity to show off their skills in various judging competitions. The College of AGNR will offer scholarships to the overall winners in select judging competitions.


Keep tabs on all the action by following the College of AGNR on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram, checking out our continually updated photo gallery, or heading out to the State Fair. 

Be sure to stop by the 4-H Foundation’s food booth for tasty treats and keep the State Fair informed by using the following hashtags:




For a complete schedule of events, visit www.marylandstatefair.com.

UMD Named a Top 25 LGBTQ-Friendly University by Campus Pride

August 24, 2015

Kristen Seabolt 301-405-4621

COLLEGE PARK, Md. - The University of Maryland has been named to Campus Pride’s 2015 Top 25 LGBTQ-Friendly Colleges & Universities list. The listing highlights the positive efforts UMD and other top institutions have made to promote diversity, inclusion and safety for LGBTQ students.

Campus PrideCampus Pride is the leading national educational organization for LGBTQ and ally college students and campus groups building future leaders and safer, more LGBTQ-friendly colleges and universities. For seven years, the listing has highlighted the most LGBTQ-inclusive colleges and universities when it comes to policy, program and practice in higher education.

"Recognition by Campus Pride this year is especially gratifying," said Luke Jensen, director of UMD’s campus LGBT Equity Center. "This honor highlights our collective commitment to improve and grow our efforts in providing an excellent education for LGBTQ students."

This is the first year Campus Pride has released a Top 25 list based on higher LGBTQ benchmarks. The list is based on responses to the Campus Pride Index, a national benchmarking tool which self-assesses LGBTQ-friendly policies, programs and practices. In order to be in the Top 25 listing, an institution has to score the highest percentages in the LGBTQ-friendly benchmarks. UMD was the only Maryland/Washington, D.C.-area university to make the 2015 list.

“As time goes on, the needs of LGBTQ college and university students change,” said Shane Windmeyer, executive director of Campus Pride and creator of the Campus Pride Index. “Therefore, we have updated our Campus Pride Index assessment to reflect that, with higher standards for campuses and a higher focus on trans and gender nonconforming students.”

According to Windmeyer, “there is a lot to be learned from the Top 25 campuses on this listing. Many of these campuses are specifically addressing recruitment and academic retention efforts for LGBTQ students as well as concerns for transgender student safety, as reflected by their willingness to be the first campuses to take the updated assessment.”

UMD created the LGBT Equity Center to help establish and maintain a fully equitable community that empowers innovators and agents of social justice for lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and queer people. The LGBT Equity Center serves University of Maryland students, staff, faculty, and alumni of all gender identities and sexual orientations.

Last spring, the LGBT Equity Center founded the Lavender Leadership Honor Society, the world’s first collegiate leadership honor society recognizing student efforts that help LGBTQ communities to flourish both on and off campus. 38 students were inducted at the first ceremony. In addition, the Center created and hosted the Somewhere Over the Rainbow conference, the first-ever conference devoted to the topic of LGBTQ issues in international education administration, drawing over 100 participants from across the United States and abroad. The LGBT Equity Center also conducts two annual student retreats — Queer Camp and the Lavender Leadership Retreat — that build community, create support, and develop social justice leaders.

UMD Department of American Studies Associate Professor Christina Hanhardt was recently awarded the Lambda Literary Award in the category of Best LGBT Studies for her debut title Safe Space: Gay Neighborhood History and the Politics of Violence.  The Lambda Literary Foundation is the premier organization promoting and supporting LGBT writing.

To view the list, visit www.campusprideindex.org. To learn more about Campus Pride, visit. www.CampusPride.org.

UMD Alum, Howard County Farmer, Donates Estate Worth $3 Million to Maryland 4-H

August 19, 2015

Sara Gavin 301-405-9235

Donation to support Maryland 4-H, a state-wide, community-based youth organization administered by UMD Extension

COLLEGE PARK, Md. — The generous donation of a University of Maryland alumnus and Howard County farmer's estate is greatly enhancing the Maryland 4-H Foundation's ability to sustain and improve youth development efforts statewide, foundation officials announced recently.

The foundation provides financial support to Maryland 4-H, a statewide, community-based youth development program administered by University of Maryland Extension within UMD’s College of Agriculture and Natural Resources.

The sale of development rights and real estate of an 80-acre farm bequeathed to the foundation by Lansdale Pue, who died on April 19, 2013, translated into more than $3 million to support numerous 4-H programs, scholarships and trips.

Pue was a seventh generation farmer whose family operated a dairy from 1931 to 2006 and later raised beef cattle, row crops and hay. He graduated from the University of Maryland’s College of Agriculture & Natural Resources in 1968 and was a member of the Alpha Gamma Rho fraternity. 

With no heirs active in farming to carry on the family tradition, Pue made the decision to leave his land to the Maryland 4-H Foundation. Last winter, the foundation sold the development rights through Howard County's Agricultural Land Preservation.

"Growing up with Lansdale Pue and participating in 4-H together, it is truly an honor to now accept the gift of his farm to the Maryland 4-H Foundation," said Charles E. Iager, Chairman and President of the Maryland 4-H Foundation and a fellow Howard County dairy farmer. "In acknowledgement of his stewardship of the land, the foundation board decided to have the farm preserved forever, ensuring that Lansdale's agricultural heritage will continue." 

On July 28, that heritage was cemented when David and Lydia Liker, who operate Gorman Farm, bought the farmland where they plan to grow vegetables and host agritourism activities. 

Money from the sale will be used in several ways to support Maryland 4-H. So far, the foundation board has:

  • Set aside funding for leadership development programs on the University of Maryland College Park campus;
  • Put funding toward Maryland 4-H Dairy programs;
  • Established five $1,000 scholarships for 4-H youth which will be awarded beginning in 2016;
  • Established the Lansdale Pue Memorial National 4-H Congress Fund to support 4-H youth traveling to National 4-H Congress in Atlanta, Ga.;
  • Endowed the 4-H Foundation's grant program supporting club, county and regional 4-H programs; and
  • Contributed to the county 4-H programs that have endowments with the Maryland 4-H Foundation.

"This generous donation of the Pue estate allows the foundation to continue to be responsive to the needs of the 4-H program and impact the lives of 4-Hers for generations to come," said Amanda Brown Clougherty, Maryland 4-H Foundation Executive Director. "We can do so much more because we have this gift. The foundation assists programs at every level of 4-H, from the club level to international travel, and that will be made stronger with this gift."

UMD Advances NASA Mission to Build A Better Battery for Space Exploration

August 18, 2015

Elise Carbonaro 301-405-6501
Lee Tune 301-405-4679

UMD researchers awarded NASA funding for advanced energy storage technology

Image courtesy of NASA

COLLEGE PARK, Md. – A research team from the University of Maryland Energy Research Center (UMERC) has been awarded $1 million in NASA funding for its all solid-state battery, a game-changing technology that could potentially power future space missions. 

The Garnet Electrolyte Based Safe, Lithium-Sulfur Energy Storage project, developed by A. James Clark School of Engineering faculty members Eric Wachsman, Liangbing Hu, and Chunsheng Wang, is a triple threat, solving the typical problems that trouble existing lithium-ion batteries: safety, performance and cost. 

“This all solid-state technology really changes everything, as it addresses all of the concerns we have about batteries today, and has brought the University of Maryland to the cutting-edge of battery research,” said Wachsman, who serves as the director of UMERC and a professor in the Department of Materials Science and Engineering.

The new NASA award moves the UMD battery into the second phase of a three-phase NASA funding process for developing full-scale prototypes of batteries for future space missions. UMD successfully competed with Phase II proposals from federally funded research and development centers, other universities and industry. An energy storage device being developed by Amprius Inc. of Sunnyvale, California was the other technology to receive NASA Phase II funding.

"Technology drives exploration, and battery technology is a critical element of that drive," Steve Jurczyk, associate administrator for the Space Technology Mission Directorate (STMD) at NASA Headquarters in Washington, said in a NASA release. "These next-generation batteries will dramatically improve the availability and affordability of the power and energy required for future exploration missions. The development effort will focus on delivering safe, low mass batteries to enable longer missions deeper into space."

The Altair lunar lander pictured in this artist rendering will ba key component in NASA’s Constellation Program, a combination   of spacecraft, launch vehicles and missions  designed to return human explorers to the moon and ultimately to allow them to explore   other destinations in the solar system. Courtesy NASA

Through his work on fuel cells, UMD’s Wachsman has created and perfected low-cost ceramic fabrication techniques, demonstrating the ability to fabricate thin-film ceramic battery electrolytes with very low resistance. The high stability of these garnet ceramic electrolytes enabled the team to use metallic lithium anodes, which contain the greatest possible theoretical energy density and are considered to the holy grail of batteries. He says that combined with high capacity sulfur cathodes, this all solid-state battery technology offers a potential unmatched energy density that far outperforms any lithium-ion battery currently on the market, making this technology uniquely capable of meeting NASA’s goal of reducing mass required to store electrical power in space. 

This UMD battery technology is also safer than lithium-ion batteries, which typically contain a liquid organic electrolyte and can catch fire under certain conditions, as shown by reported laptop and electric vehicle battery fires and even the temporary grounding of the Boeing 787 fleet for a series of battery fires. This fire risk is eliminated by the UMD team’s use of a solid-state ceramic electrolyte in their battery. 

“Lithium-ion batteries are used in everything from consumer electronics such as cell phones and laptops to electric vehicles,” said Hu, an assistant professor of materials science and engineering. “[Our] technology is safer than existing liquid-based lithium-ion batteries, and offers a much higher energy density.”

“In addition to its intrinsic safety, another unique feature of our solid-state garnet lithium-sulfur battery is that the dense garnet electrolyte can prevent the shuttle reaction of sulfur cathodes and dendrite of lithium anodes, allowing the realization of high energy lithium-sulfur chemistry,” said Wang, who is an associate professor in the Department of Chemical and Biomolecular Engineering. This dramatically improves the longevity for lithium-sulfur batteries.

NASA is testing concepts for a new generation of vehicles. The Space Exploration Vehicle (SEV) concept is designed to be flexible depending on the destination. Some of the new technologies to be developed for the surface and in-space concepts include new batteries and new fuel cells.

Last year, the team’s Phase I NASA award supported proof-of-concept research that demonstrated the technology’s performance and reliability. Now in Phase II of NASA’s Game Changing Development (GCD) program, Wachsman, Hu, and Wang will focus on optimizing the cell structure and scaling up its size to a commercially viable format. In 2016, the team will submit a proposal for up to $2 million in Phase III funding to make a full-scale prototype designed to achieve NASA’s ultimate goal of sending these batteries into space.

The technology was born from Wachsman and Hu’s solid-state battery project, in collaboration with University of Calgary associate professor Venkataraman Thangadurai, funded by the U.S. Department of Energy Advanced Research Projects Agency - Energy (ARPA-E). In 2014, Wachsman, Hu, and Thangadurai won the University of Maryland Invention of the Year Award in the physical sciences category for this solid-state battery technology. 

Wachsman noted that the University of Maryland is one of the leaders in “electrochemical energy conversion and storage” research, which includes the development of new fuel cell and battery technologies.

NextNOW Fest

August 14, 2015

UMD's annual multi-arts festival kicks off each season to, in part, welcome back students to campus. The Clarice invites University of Maryland students, alumni and our local community to join us for four days of participatory and surprising artful experiences that reach beyond traditional performance. Most events are free. All events are freeing.

Blown Away

August 12, 2015

Since 1949, companies from Ford to Under Armour have tested cars, boats, speed skating suits and more in UMD’s Glenn L. Martin Wind Tunnel.

UMD Names New Associate Provost and Dean for Undergraduate Studies

August 11, 2015

Crystal Brown 301-405-4621

COLLEGE PARK, Md. – The University of Maryland has appointed Dr. William A. Cohen as the new Associate Provost and Dean for Undergraduate Studies, effective Aug. 17, 2015. 

"It is with great pleasure that I appoint Dr. Cohen to the role of Dean for Undergraduate Studies," says Mary Ann Rankin, UMD's senior vice president and provost. "His experience leading large, complex units on campus that provide critical service to the entire University of Maryland community makes him exceptionally qualified for this new role." 

Dr. Cohen is currently professor and chair of the Department of English at the University of Maryland, a position he has held for the past three years. Throughout his more than 20 years as a professor at UMD, he has also served as director of undergraduate studies and associate chair for the department. 

In his leadership roles with the Department of English, Dr. Cohen led the development of a number of curricular initiatives, including new living and learning programs and plans for new certificate programs. He also oversaw the restructuring of the Center for Literary and Comparative Studies, including designing and implementing a new grant-making effort. 

"My vision for undergraduate studies at the University of Maryland is of a culture where students are curious and learned; develop creative, critical, and reasoning skills; and have a firm grounding in the liberal arts core," says Dr. Cohen. "I look forward to joining the Office of Undergraduate Studies for the opportunity to shape our students' education and lives."

Dr. Cohen’s scholarship and teaching focus on literature and culture of the Victorian period; the history of sexuality, the body, and the senses; and literary theory. He has published numerous research articles and three books on these topics and is currently at work on a fourth.  

His work has been supported by the Mellon Foundation, the Camargo Foundation, the National Endowment for the Humanities, the William Andrews Clark Memorial Library, and The Huntington.

Dr. Cohen currently chairs the executive committee of the Victorian Division of the Modern Language Association and serves on the PMLA Advisory Committee.  

He holds a B.A. from Swarthmore College and a Ph.D. from the University of California, Berkeley.

UMD National Transportation Center Awarded $4.5 Million Department of Energy Grant

August 10, 2015

Alyssa Wolice 301-405-2057

NTC@ Maryland to develop technology to deliver personalized, real-time travel information to users and incentivize energy-efficient travel

COLLEGE PARK, Md. – The University of Maryland announced today it was awarded a competitive grant from the U.S. Department of Energy’s (DOE) Advanced Research Projects Agency – Energy (ARPA-E) to develop technology to deliver personalized, real-time travel information to users and incentivize energy-efficient travel. The funding includes $3.78 million from DOE and $700,000 in cash cost-sharing from various public and private sector partners.

“Traffic congestion carries both tangible and hidden costs for our region and the nation, including travel delay, energy use increase, and adverse environmental and economic impacts,” said UMD Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering Professor and Chair, Dr. Charles W. Schwartz. “I am very proud that the technology put forth by UMD researchers and their partners will provide a real solution to traffic congestion and pave the way for novel energy sustainability initiatives.” 

National Transportation Center at Maryland (NTC@Maryland) Director and Associate Professor of Civil and Environmental Engineering, Dr. Lei ZhangThe UMD research team, led by National Transportation Center at Maryland (NTC@Maryland) Director and Associate Professor of Civil and Environmental Engineering, Dr. Lei Zhang, will use the funding to develop what is known as an Integrated, Personalized, Real-time Traveler Information and Incentive (iPretii) technology. 

iPretii will use traveler behavior data to stimulate the effects of traveler choices on energy use in the Washington-Baltimore area. UMD researchers will conduct behavioral studies to predict travelers’ responses and identify incentives to encourage drivers to alter routes, departure times, and driving styles, or take mass transit or ride-sharing services. 

The technology contains a System Model that simulates travel behavior and traffic dynamic in real time, and a Control Architecture that designs and delivers personalized information and incentives to users so their collective behavior adjustments will result in significant system level benefits. Incentives will include both monetary and non-monetary awards, such as competitions and recognition given across social media channels.

Each year, more than 25 percent of energy consumed in the United States is used for transportation purposes. Recognizing this, NTC@ Maryland conducts extensive research on the effectiveness of both active traffic management systems – such as high occupancy vehicle lanes, freeway ramp metering, and dynamic lane control – and demand management strategies – including ride sharing, dynamic transit service, telecommuting, and pricing.

“Even modest energy savings at the individual level, when extrapolated to the billions of daily trips in the United States, can significantly reduce energy use,” Zhang said. “The key is to design effective and personalized incentives to encourage individuals to start taking these small, positive steps. If the technology we are developing reaches full market penetration, it could potentially reduce all-sector energy use in the United States by up to 8 percent.”

The project team will develop iPretii within two years to quantify possible energy savings in the Baltimore-Washington region in a simulated environment. In that time, NTC@ Maryland and its partners will also conduct field tests using instrumented vehicles to demonstrate iPretii readiness for real-world implementation.

NTC@ Maryland has received more than $14 million in federal funding through open competition since its launch in October 2013. The center received the ARPA-E grant through the Traveler Response Architecture using Novel Signaling for Network Efficiency in Transportation (TRANSNET) program, established to develop new network control architectures, coupled with incentive strategies, to encourage individuals to travel in more energy-efficient ways.

More information is available online at http://ntc.umd.edu/.


August 26
UMD finishes first in Big Ten ranking and is recognized for excellence in waste reduction efforts. Read
August 25
UMD’s College of Agriculture & Natural Resources gears up for the Maryland State Fair with live birthing center,... Read
August 24
The University of Maryland has been named to Campus Pride’s 2015 Top 25 LGBTQ-Friendly Colleges & Universities list. Read
August 19
Donation will support Maryland 4-H, a state-wide, community-based youth organization administered by UMD Extension. Read