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Saturday, November 1, 2014

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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 Named Gold-Level "Bicycle Friendly University"

October 31, 2014
Contacts: 

Anna McLaughlin 301-314-0183

COLLEGE PARK, Md. – Over the past two years, biking has continued to grow on campus and the university is earning the recognition to prove it. The League of American Bicyclists has announced their award winners for their Bicycle Friendly University (BFU) program. One of only 10 schools to earn the gold level or higher designation, and the only Bicycle Friendly University in the state, UMD leads the way for bicycle programming in Maryland and the region as it rises from a silver level BFU to gold.

bikeUMDThe bikeUMD program has been integral in helping achieve this honor. bikeUMD is a collaboration between the University of Maryland’s Department of Transportation Services and Campus Recreation Services, which work to promote and support all bicycle related activities and initiatives on UMD’s campus.

With the assistance of many active campus partners, including Dining Services, Residential Life, Facilities Management, Public Safety and the Office of Sustainability, bikeUMD continues to implement bicycle recommendations from the Facilities Master Plan. In FY14 bikeUMD:

  • Installed 82 shared lane markings on campus;
  • Installed 7 bicycle repair stations;
  • Added almost 700 bicycle parking spaces; and
  • Increased the semester rental bike fleet by 30 percent.

Currently, bikeUMD is working on installing electronic bike counters to facilitate accurate data collection, increasing the number of Learn to Ride and Confident Cycling classes and partnering with the City of College Park to bring a bikeshare program to campus. Additionally, bikeUMD offers programming such as regular bike rides to showcase local trails and destination, and a Bikes Be Bright safety promotion planned for November 11th where cyclists on campus can pick up a set of bike lights.

“This great achievement is a direct result of the strong support and teamwork from the students, staff and faculty at UMD” says David Allen, DOTS Director. “We look forward to making this relationship even stronger as we work to reach platinum status.”

Emerging Disease Could Wipe Out American, European Salamanders

October 30, 2014
Contacts: 

Heather Dewar 301-405-9267

Scientists call for controls on imports to check spread of deadly fungus

COLLEGE PARK, Md. - A deadly disease that is wiping out salamanders in parts of Europe will inevitably reach the U.S. through the international wildlife trade unless steps are taken to halt its spread, says University of Maryland amphibian expert Karen Lips.

Mortality was 100% among Eastern red-spotted newts (Nothophthalmus viridescens) exposed to a newly-named fungus emerging from Asia. The North American native, shown here in its juvenile stage, is a popular aquarium pet. Photo credit: Edward KabayThe recently described fungus, Batrachochytrium salamandrivorans, has caused a crash in wild populations of fire salamanders in the Netherlands.  After the fungus was discovered in Europe last year, Lips joined an international team of experts that tested more than 5,000 amphibians from four continents. Their results, published Oct. 31 in the journal Science, show the fungus probably originated in Southeast Asia 30 million years ago and reached Europe through the international trade in Asian newts, which are popular with amphibian fanciers.

The fungus, which is lethal to at least a dozen European and North American salamander and newt species, has not yet reached the Americas, says Lips, a UMD associate professor of biology and one of the world's top experts in amphibian diseases. Lips and a colleague, Cornell University Professor Kelly Zamudio, screened about 1,400 frogs, salamanders and newts from sites in North and South America and found no trace of the fungus.

But Chinese fire belly newts are potential carriers of B. salamandrivorans, and more than 2.3 million of them were imported into the U.S. for the pet trade between 2001 and 2009. If even a few of these animals have the fungus, "it's a question of when, not if, this fungus reaches North America," says UMD graduate student Carly Muletz, a co-author of the Science paper.

Lips says scientists can act now to track, and ideally prevent, a disease outbreak from ravaging wild populations of newts and salamanders in the Americas. Current U.S. regulations focus on monitoring live animal imports to prevent the spread of diseases to humans and livestock, not to native wildlife, says Lips. She and other experts recently briefed Congressional staffers on the need to fill in this regulatory gap.

"If scientists and policy makers can work together on this, we have a rare opportunity to stop an epidemic from spreading around the globe with potentially deadly effect," says Lips.

North America is the global center of salamander biodiversity, home to more than 150 of the world's 655 known salamander species. Reclusive and mostly nocturnal, these rarely-seen creatures are the subjects of folklore—associated with fire because of some species' brilliant coloring, poisons because of the toxins some produce to discourage predators, and immortality because of their ability to regenerate lost limbs.

B. salamandrivorans rapidly invades salamanders' skin, which plays a crucial role in the animals' respiratory system. Scientists don't yet know how it kills its hosts, Lips said, but a sister fungus, Batracochytrium dendrobatidis, also infects skin, interfering with amphibians' breathing and their ability to absorb water and essential minerals. B. dendrobatidis infects more than 520 amphibian species around the world, has caused steep declines in populations of frogs and salamanders, and has driven some species into extinction. The scientists fear B. salamandrivorans might prove equally devastating.

The researchers found that newts, a subgroup within the salamander family, are especially vulnerable to B. salamandrivorans.  When two common North American species—the Eastern red-spotted newt, a showy animal often kept as a pet, and the rough-skinned newt, which ranges from British Columbia to the Mexican border—were exposed to the fungus in laboratory tests, 100% of the animals died.

"We have billions of these newts living in the wild all across the continent," says Lips, "and because they're highly sensitive to this fungus, they could amplify it or spread it to other groups of salamanders. We don't know what the consequences of that might be."

Lips and her colleagues hope to establish a surveillance network to monitor wild salamander and newt populations for signs of the fungus. Lips and other experts are also calling for a testing program to sample animals in the wildlife trade that may carry the pathogen, to trace its movement and mitigate its impact.

"This study captures a pathogen's first steps out of Asia," says Zamudio. "The more globalized our world becomes, the more our biodiversity will be challenged by diseases moving into areas where they have never occurred before."

Lips, who directs UMD's Graduate Program in Sustainable Development and Conservation Biology, is internationally known for her work studying, and trying to prevent, the world-wide loss of amphibian species that has been called the great amphibian extinction mystery. Read her personal, compelling account of 15 years of leading involvement in this effort in a May 15, 2013, Scientific American blog: "What If There Is No Happy Ending? Science Communication as a Path to Change." Lips and her work has been featured in media articles and books, including in "The Sixth Extinction: An Unnatural History" a 2014 book by Elizabeth Kolbert, whose acknowledgements section includes a thanks to Lips and a number of other scientists for helping Kolbert to understand the "amphibian crisis" that is one part of a rapidly occurring, world-wide and human-caused massive extinction of living species. 

The current study by Lips and her colleagues, Recent introduction of a chytrid fungus endangers Western Palearctic salamanders, was led by two professors from Ghent University in Belgium—An Martel, who first isolated B. salamandrivorans, and Frank Pasmans—with contributions from researchers at 20 institutions worldwide. It was published in the Oct. 31, 2014 issue of the journal Science.

UMD Ranked Top 100 in U.S. News Best Global Universities

October 29, 2014

COLLEGE PARK, Md. – The University of Maryland ranks No. 51 in the first U.S. News & World Report Best Global Universities rankings, which recognize the top 500 institutions from nearly 50 countries.

Aerial view of M Circle, intramural fields and campus drive.Universities were measured by their academic research performance and their global and regional reputations. The rankings focused on factors such as global research reputation, publications, and international collaborations.

UMD was also ranked among the top 25 in four subject rankings:

  • Physics – No. 18
  • Geoscience – No. 15
  • Space science – No. 21
  • Economics and business – No. 25

Nine additional subjects at UMD made the top 100, including computer science, social science and public health, environment/ecology, psychology, engineering, agriculture, microbiology, plant and animal science, and chemistry.

In addition to being recognized in the top 100 of the Best Global Universities, UMD is ranked No. 43 in the world according to the prestigious Academic Ranking of World Universities (Shanghai Jiao Tong University), which ranks the world's top universities based on research.

For the full listing of the Best Global Universities, click here.

Maryland Dairy Celebrates 90 Years

October 28, 2014
Contacts: 

Lori Dominick 301‐314‐8017

Maryland Dairy Ice CreamCOLLEGE PARK, Md. – The Maryland Dairy is celebrating 90 years of making its famous, hand‐crafted, small‐batch ice cream at the University of Maryland. The celebration kicked off in mid-October with premium ice cream specials for Homecoming Week and continues this month with a featured Pumpkin Swirl flavor. The ice cream team, led by Chef Jeff Russo, is creating new menu items and seasonal flavors that will debut in November and December. The celebration culminates with a 90th Anniversary Party on December 12, the last day of classes.

The Dairy Salesroom opened in 1924 in the Dairy Building on Route One in College Park as an outlet for dairy products supplied by University cows. The Dairy originally featured milk, butter, cream and eggs. Dr. Wendell S. Arbuckle and Dr. C. Walter England of the College of Agriculture pioneered ice cream recipes and experimented with new flavors and techniques. Dr. Arbuckle and Dr. England are considered to be the fathers of modern ice cream and Dr. Arbuckle’s book is still circulating as one of the definitive texts.

As campus grew, and land became more valuable, the dairy herd was moved off‐campus to University farms. In 2005, UMD Dining Services was charged with making Famous Maryland Dairy ice cream. The manufacturing equipment and refrigeration units were moved to South Campus Dining Hall. Dining Services still uses some of the original equipment and original recipes developed by Dr. Arbuckle and Dr. English in the 1920s and 1930s.

“The campus has always been proud of Maryland Dairy Ice Cream. It was groundbreaking when it first appeared on campus in the twenties, a small‐town tradition in the fifties and now represents tradition and innovation on our campus” says Joe Mullineaux, senior associate director, Dining Services.

Maryland Dairy in StampThis April, the Maryland Dairy moved from the Dairy Building (now known as Turner Hall) to the Stamp Student Union. The Maryland Dairy continues to offer traditional flavors as well as University themed flavors like Fear the Turtle, Rockin’ Randy and B1G. Guests can enjoy a scoop of famous Maryland Dairy ice cream in a cup, a cone, a sundae, a banana split, a root beer float, or in a decadent hand spun milkshake. Ice cream is also available in half gallons and three‐gallon tubs.

“We are so excited to have the Maryland Dairy join the Adele Stamp Student Union. I consider The Stamp to be at the heart of campus and Maryland Dairy Ice Cream is a tradition that touches the heart of faculty, staff, alumni and students. It’s great that we can become the new home of this cornerstone tradition,” says Marsha Guenzler‐Stevens, director of the Stamp Student Union.

“Commemorating 90 years of University of Maryland Dairy ice cream is a perfect way to let the campus and surrounding community know this important Maryland tradition is alive and delicious”, said Colleen Wright Riva, director of Dining Services. “I’d like to invite everyone to visit Maryland Dairy in its new location in the Stamp Student Union to celebrate with us.”

Maryland Dairy is open Monday‐Friday 11:00 am to 8:30 pm and 11‐4 on Saturdays.

For more visit http://marylanddairy.umd.edu.

UMD Ph.D. Student Wins Big at International Thesis Competition

October 28, 2014
Contacts: 

Niambi Wilder Winter 301-405-0763

UMD Doctoral Student Amy Marquardt Wins First Place and People's Choice Award in Three Minute Thesis Competition

Ms. Amy Marquardt, PhD candidate in the Department of Materials Science and Engineering, receives the 2014 U21 3MT award from Dr. Charles Caramello, Dean of the Graduate School. Photo by Thai Nguyen.COLLEGE PARK, Md. – The University of Maryland Graduate School is pleased to announce that Amy Marquardt, a Ph.D. candidate in the A. James Clark School of Engineering, has been awarded first place in the international Three Minute Thesis (3MT®) competition. The competition, which is hosted by Universitas 21 (U21), an international network of research universities, challenges doctoral students to communicate the significance of their research to a non-specialist audience in just three minutes. The judging panel was impressed with Marquardt's transparency and succinctness in explaining her research. The general public agreed, voting her into first place in the People's Choice competition as well.

"The U21 3MT competition provides an invaluable opportunity for students to learn and practice new communication skills, to convey the substance and enhance the visibility of their important research, and to become active in the international research community," said Dr. Charles Caramello, Dean of the Graduate School. "As a new member of U21, we were enthusiastic about participating and, of course, thrilled that a UMD student won both the Judges' and People's Choice Awards."

The Graduate School initiated and organized a University-wide competition this past summer. A faculty selection committee chose Marquardt as the winner for her dynamic presentation of her research, which seeks to revolutionize the way society preserves cultural artifacts by using an nearly invisible, yet highly-protective coating that enhances the protection of the objects and reduces the damage caused by current methods. Marquardt, who is advised by Professor Ray Phaneuf in the Department of Materials Science and Engineering, found the competition challenging, yet rewarding.

"Conveying my research in three minutes was much harder than I expected, but also a lot of fun." said Marquardt. "The 3MT helped me explain my research clearly and concisely to a broad audience. It also taught me how to present in an engaging, non-technical way, an incredibly useful skill when working in an interdisciplinary field."

Marquardt competed with 16 other finalists from eight countries, who were advanced from the hundreds of students who participated in local competitions. Her U21 first-place prize includes $2500 to visit a U21 university of her choice to advance her research and ongoing career development. Her People's Choice prize includes $300 and the opportunity to work with 99Scholars to have her presentation turned into an animated video - an innovative way to share the presentation online and via social media. Marquardt's UMD prize included $500 in research funds from the Graduate School and a nomination to the international competition.

Marquardt's Accomplishments

Amy MarquardtFor the past several years, Marquardt has been part of a team working with conservators from the Walters Art Museum in Baltimore, Maryland, to develop nanometers-thick coatings that protect silver artifacts from tarnish. Applied through atomic layer deposition (ALD), the coating material is currently being tested on an artifact from the museum's collection. The project has been highlighted by Science, the American Physical Society, and the American Vacuum Society, and was the subject of a National Science Foundation video.

Marquardt recently participated in an international research exchange program with the University of Trento, Italy, where she worked with Massimo Bersani at the Fondazione Bruno Kessler. While she focused on the development of a kinetics model for the corrosion and tarnishing of metal objects, she also continued her work on the optimization of ALD metal oxide films that could be used to protect them.

In addition to her 3MT win, Marquardt has been awarded a 2014-2015 research-in-residence fellowship at the Smithsonian Institution's Museum Conservation Institute (MCI), one of only six Committee on Institutional Cooperation (CIC)/ Smithsonian Fellowships awarded nationally for this year. Marquardt is collaborating on a project that could create a more effective way to preserve bronze art and artifacts.

Marquardt's other recent awards include the Graduate Excellence in Materials Science Diamond Award from the American Ceramic Society and the Dean's Doctoral Research Award from the A. James Clark School of Engineering. The CIC, Smithsonian, Clark School, and Graduate School are proud to be partners in supporting the work of this outstanding young researcher.

Noteworthy Peers

Seven talented doctoral students from various departments across the UMD campus joined Marquardt in the internal competition and impressed the judging panel with their presentations:

  • Zubin Adrianvala, Urban Planning and Development, "The Ethnic Community: Urban Form, Peace, Conflict, and Violence in Urban India". Adrianvala was named "runner-up" and received $250 in research funds from the Graduate School.
  • Jason Sinclair, Animal and Avian Sciences, "Long-range signaling at the intestinal-neural axis promotes organismal heme homeostatis in C. elegans"
  • Pui-Yu Ling, Geographical Sciences, "Forest Carbon Flux and Stock: From the Ecological and the Economical Perspectives"
  • Rebecca Wolf, Organizational Leadership and Policy Studies, "Who Gets What: A Within-School Equity Analysis of Resource Allocation"
  • Aaron White, Linguistics, "Learning Attitude Verb Meanings"
  • Laura Brunner, Women's Studies, "Screening Diversity: Professional Women in Twenty-First Century Film & Television"
  • Alyssa Brooks, Behavioral and Community Health, "Sleep throughout the Alcoholism Recovery Process"

$5 Million Gift Anchors New Snider Center

October 27, 2014
Contacts: 

Daryl James 301-405-0944

Foundation Led by Alumnus Ed Snider Pledges Support for Study of Free Enterprise

Ed SniderCOLLEGE PARK, Md. – The University of Maryland's Robert H. Smith School of Business will study enterprise and markets at a new center of excellence funded by $5 million from The Snider Foundation, led by alumnus Ed Snider. An additional $1 million commitment from the Charles Koch Foundation will help create The Ed Snider Center for Enterprise and Markets.

Rajshree Agarwal, the Rudolph P. Lamone Chair and Professor in Entrepreneurship and Strategy at the Smith School, will serve as the center's first director. In addition to supporting existing faculty and student engagement, the gifts will enable the hiring of three tenured or tenure-track professors, along with five PhD students and four post-doctoral fellows. Plans for the center also include hiring a managing director and two support staff members.

"I have pursued research in innovation and entrepreneurship because I believe that truly successful businesses are moral enterprises, resulting from productivity, integrity and a sense of purpose," Agarwal said. "The Snider Center will promote a multidisciplinary exploration of the institutions that affect human enterprise, thereby impacting the prosperity and wellbeing of individuals and societies."

Ed Snider is an international sports and marketing visionary and the Chairman of Comcast-Spectacor, the Philadelphia-based firm that has its roots in Snider's start-up of the Philadelphia Flyers, the National Hockey League's most successful original expansion franchise. After earning an accounting degree from the University of Maryland and passing the CPA exam, Snider worked one week as an accountant. He and his partner then started their own record distribution business from the back of his car. During that period, he co-founded the National Association of Record Merchandisers (NARM), which exists to this day. 

In 1966, Snider risked it all by mortgaging his home and founding the Flyers. The success of the franchise spawned a variety of media and entertainment-related companies that today, operate in 48 of the 50 United States, as well as internationally, and include, in addition to the Flyers, the Wells Fargo Center in Philadelphia, PA; Global Spectrum, a public assembly facility management company; Ovations Food Services, a food and beverage concessionaire and catering service; Front Row Marketing Services, a sports-sponsorship and naming rights service; and Paciolan, a full-service ticket selling company.

Snider has also been generous with his philanthropy. In addition to chairing The Snider Foundation, in 2007 he created the Ed Snider Youth Hockey Foundation ("Snider Hockey").  Snider Hockey provides more than 3,000 high-risk, inner-city children free equipment and ice time, free hockey instruction and league competition annually, together with mentoring, homework help and a life skills program. Participants in Snider Hockey have a year over year matriculation rate of 98 percent and its programs help young athletes achieve success in their chosen sport.

"This gift to the University of Maryland is a homecoming for me," Snider said. "While I built my career in Philadelphia, I cherished my time at UMD and never lost my connection to my alma mater. My entrepreneurial nature, coupled with the accounting degree I earned at Maryland, enabled me to take advantage of life's opportunities. My vision for today's college students is that they are armed with those skills, motivations and freedoms that I was and that enabled me to create value and opportunity for others through my various business endeavors."

"Growing up in Washington, D.C., I watched my father run a corner grocery store," Snider added. "He taught me to strive to be the best no matter what job I did, even if it was mopping floors. My career was not the result of a long-term plan. I just applied myself when opportunity knocked, and I innovated as I went along. Being free to follow your dreams, work hard and be rewarded for your labors is what life is all about."

The Snider Foundation commitment is the second-largest in school history, behind the $15 million naming gift from Robert H. Smith in 1997.

"Ed Snider's generous support will help us reach our goal of stimulating student innovation and entrepreneurship campus wide," says University of Maryland President Wallace Loh. "Mr. Snider is one of our most successful alumni because of his entrepreneurial and innovative strengths. The new center will help our students understand the way organizations can allow creative ideas to flourish."

The Snider Center gifts were received through the University of Maryland College Park Foundation.

"The Snider Center builds on the tradition of excellent scholarship and academic inquiry by UMD scholars," says Charles Koch Foundation President Brian Hooks. "We're excited to join the Snider family in supporting such a strong group of faculty whose research addresses important questions regarding the ability of individuals to lead fulfilling and productive lives."

"The Snider Center will not only study business as transactions among people within firms and markets, but also explore the history and philosophy of enterprise, markets and institutions," said Smith School Dean Alexander Triantis. "We're excited to pursue this interdisciplinary effort in collaboration with the College of Arts and Humanities and other schools at the university."

Triantis says the selection of the center's affiliates will adhere to academic norms and processes under Agarwal's leadership. Faculty, students and staff associated with the center will work to advance the school's educational mission through conferences, publishing and undergraduate activities.

UMD and UW Lead New NIH-funded Mentor Training Program to Advance Diversity of Biomedical Workforce

October 23, 2014
Contacts: 

Kelly Blake 301- 405-9418
Kester Williams 301-314-0818

COLLEGE PARK, Md. – The University of Maryland, College Park (UMD) joins the University of Wisconsin-Madison (UW) in leading a new research mentor and mentee training initiative funded by the National Institute of Health’s (NIH) National Research Mentoring Network (NRMN). This mentoring network is part of a recently announced NIH grant for $31 million to support the “Enhancing the Diversity of the NIH-Funded Workforce” program, which will develop new approaches that engage researchers from racial and ethnic minority backgrounds in biomedical sciences, and prepare them to thrive in the NIH-funded workforce.

Dr. Stephen Thomas, UMD Advancing Faculty Diversity initiativeThe UMD School of Public Health’s Center for Health Equity will share $2.2 million awarded to UW by the NIH to establish the NRMN Mentor Training Core (MTC), one of three cores in the network. Dr. Stephen B. Thomas, professor of Health Services Administration in the UMD SPH and founding director of the Maryland Center for Health Equity (M-CHE), will serve as associate director and UW-Madison’s Dr. Christine Pfund will serve as the NRMN Mentor Training Core director.

The NRMN is supported with a total of $19 million dollars over five years. The goal is to establish a national network of mentors and mentees through a consortium of research-intensive and minority-serving institutions, led by David Burgess at Boston College, and Elizabeth Ofili at Morehouse School of Medicine. 

Urgent Need for Effective Mentoring

The impetus for NRMN emerged from the startling findings of a study by Donna Ginther et. al, which appeared in a Science magazine article in 2011. The study on race, ethnicity and NIH awards found that black applicants remain 10 percentage points less likely than whites to be awarded NIH research funding. “While the authors of the study called for effective mentoring of underrepresented minority scientists, too few traditional mentors have received formal training in how to effectively mentor, and in particularly, in mentoring minority scholars. This is an urgent issue,” Dr. Thomas says. 

UMD NRMN co-investigator, Dr. Sandra C. Quinn, professor of Family Science, associate dean for academic affairs in the SPH and senior associate director of the Maryland Center for Health Equity, says: “The true mission and the transformative power of the Mentor Training Core is to formally train mentors and mentees to cultivate highly effective mentoring relationships based upon trust and transparency.” 

National Leaders in Career Training for Underrepresented Minorities

Drs. Thomas and Quinn are recognized as national leaders in development of innovative research career training programs culturally tailored for minority scholars including the Summer Research Career Development Institute at the University of Pittsburgh (2005-2006), and the Annual Health Equity Leadership Institute (2010- present) conducted in partnership with the UW School of Medicine and Public Health.  Over 150 junior faculty and post-doctoral scholars have completed the program.

The positive effects of mentoring on biomedical research training and career outcomes are well documented.  “Unfortunately, when it comes to training URM scholars, too many well-intentioned senior faculty fall into the role of ‘tormentors,’ rather than effective mentors. Most senior faculty receive little if any formal training on the needs of URM scholars. Therefore, research mentors are seldom equipped to assume mentoring roles for URM scholars, leaving them especially at risk for inadequate mentoring support,” says Thomas.   The National Research Mentoring Network’s approach accelerates beyond this status quo to proactively train mentors who can foster culturally competent mentoring relationships with URM scholars, enhancing their recruitment, advancement and persistence among the ranks of tenured faculty and across the biomedical workforce. 

Mentorship Initiatives at UMD Serve as Model

In 2013, with leadership from Dr. Quinn, the Maryland Center for Health Equity and the UMD Office of the Associate Provost for Faculty Affairs offered a Master Mentor training program for tenured associate and full professors interested in mentoring URM junior faculty and post-doctoral fellows.  Using the curriculum developed by the UW Institute for Clinical and Translational Research, seven UMD faculty completed the eight hour program spread over three days.  “ With the NMRN award we can now take this master mentor training program to a national scale through the Mentor Training Core,” said Dr. Quinn. 

UMD Advancing Faculty Diversity initiativeAlso in 2013, UMD ADVANCE (a program funded by the National Science Foundation to increase the representation and advancement of women in academic science and engineering careers), the Office of Diversity & Inclusion, and the Office for Faculty Affairs launched Advancing Faculty Diversity (AFD), led a year-long research career development and leadership training program for UMD tenure-track faculty of color.  “Our deep understanding of what URM scholars need to be successful in promotion and tenure at predominantly white research intensive universities is what makes the UMD team critical to the overall success of the NMRN Mentor Training Core,” said Dr. Thomas, lead facilitator of AFD along with Dr. Carol Espy-Wilson, Professor Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering in the UMD A. James Clark School of Engineering.

Many would argue higher education institutions are “under construction” today. They need to be rebuilt to create cultures and structures that do not exclude faculty of color, women faculty, professional track, and LGBTQ faculty through every-day interactions, and policies and organizing practices inside departments. The NMRN Mentor Training Core will provide career-stage appropriate training for mentors and mentees. The approach is tailored to foster the persistence and success of a diverse group of biomedical researchers, with a specific focus on deepening the alignment and impact of these mentoring relationships. The evidence-based activities included in this core are designed to facilitate trusting mentoring relationships that support underrepresented minority scholars as they navigate their trajectory toward promotion and tenure. 

Established in 2010, the Maryland Center for Health equity is an NIH designated Research Center of Excellence on Race, Ethnicity and Disparities Research in the University of Maryland School of Public Health.  Under the leadership of Drs. Thomas, Quinn, Butler, Fryer and Garza, the team has secured approximately $16M in NIH funded research.

For information about the BUILD, NRMN, and CEC awardees and partners, please visit http://commonfund.nih.gov/diversity/fundedresearch

UMD Statement on Viral Meningitis

October 23, 2014

There are confirmed and suspected cases of viral meningitis and viral syndromes on campus, and they are being tracked carefully by the University of Maryland Health Center in partnership with the Prince George’s County Health Department and the State Health Department.

The word "meningitis" often strikes fear, but the more dangerous type of meningitis is bacterial. This is not what we are currently encountering in our community. Cases of viral meningitis, which have been confirmed here at UMD, involve severe headaches, fevers, nausea, vomiting and can involve dehydration. The treatment is medications to relieve pain and headache, rest and fluids.

When we discovered that there were ill students, the University immediately initiated more vigilant procedures to address and contain the virus, and we have reached out to the organizations that are primarily affected with information about the condition and what to do in the event that they are feeling unwell.

Dr. David McBride
Director of the University of Maryland Health Center

Blind Cave Fish May Provide Insight on Human Health Issues

October 23, 2014
Contacts: 

Abby Robinson 301-405-5845

New genetic analysis of the tiny fish could aid research on retinal disease, metabolic disturbance and sleep disorders

COLLEGE PARK, Md. – Blind cave fish may not be the first thing that comes to mind when it comes to understanding human sight, but recent research indicates they may have quite a bit to teach us about the causes of many human ailments, including those that result in loss of sight.

blind cave fishA research team, which included researchers from the University of Maryland and was led by the University of Minnesota, is looking to the tiny eyeless fish for clues about the underpinnings of degenerative eye disease and more.

A new study, published in the Oct. 20, 2014 online edition of Nature Communications, opens the doors to research that could illuminate the mechanisms behind human disease.

Cave fish exhibit repeated, independent evolution for a variety of traits including eye degeneration, pigment loss, increased size, number of taste buds and shifts in behavior. The researchers are investigating how organisms adapt to cave environments and which genes are involved in a range of traits.

"The cavefish genome sequence is similar to the human genome sequence, and we share many of the same pathways and genes with them. They're an ideal subject for study, because they have traits that are directly translatable to human health," says the study's lead author Suzanne McGaugh, an assistant professor in the University of Minnesota's Department of Ecology, Evolution and Behavior at the College of Biological Sciences.

Researchers from 10 institutions around the world, including UMD Biology Professor William Jeffery and Postdoctoral Fellow Li Ma, detail the first-ever de novo genome assembly for a species of blind cave fish (Astyanax mexicanus) commonly known as the Mexican tetra fish. The work is notable because the Astyanax genome will allow dissection of the genetic bases of traits that make the cave fish distinctive and facilitate future studies investigating the paths of repeated evolution, which may help advance understanding of human disease.

The researchers identified repeat elements in the genome of the cavefish and compared those to similar species and reported the results of tests of specific genes for potential functional and expression differences. They were able to generate a list of candidate genes for hallmark cave fish traits.

"Cave fish replicate some of the same traits characteristic of human eye diseases, such as malfunction of the lens, retina and sclera," said Jeffery. "Sequencing the Astyanax genome has given us the opportunity to find the entire repertoire of genes involved in visual degeneration."

Jeffery says researchers will also be able to pinpoint genomic differences from surface fish that may be causing additional traits in cave fish related to human health, such as albinism (the complete loss of black pigmentation in the skin) and obesity.

McGaugh notes that the research may also form the basis for a model for sleep disturbance studies because cave fish sleep about a quarter as much as surface fish do. She plans to continue research that builds on the current work.

"There are three to five different events in Mexico of the same species going into caves and evolving these traits, so we're hoping to see if it replays the same way, and discover if there is anything consistent about the genes and where genetic changes occur," says McGaugh, who is also a member of the college's Genome Variation research cluster, which focuses on the deploying the latest tools in genomics, molecular genetics, biochemistry, and/or bioinformatics to study fundamental biological questions.

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