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Monday, December 22, 2014

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University Launches Dynamic, Interactive Information Website UMD Right Now

December 4, 2012

Crystal Brown 301-405-4618

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,, 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

Caret to Return to Maryland as USM Chancellor

December 17, 2014

Anne Moultrie 301-445-2722

Mike Lurie 301-445-2719

Caret to bring 20 years of successful higher education leadership

ADELPHI, Md. - After a successful tenure as president of the five-campus University of Massachusetts system, Robert L. Caret will return to Maryland as chancellor of the University System of Maryland. James L. Shea, chairman of the USM Board of Regents, today announced the board's appointment of Caret, effective July 1, 2015. Caret served as president of Towson University, one of USM's 12 institutions, from 2003 to 2011.

"The Board of Regents is very pleased that Bob Caret will take the helm as USM's fourth chancellor," said Shea. "He brings years of experience as the outstanding leader of two public universities and a public system of higher education. He is adept at building partnerships that benefit institutions and the surrounding communities. And he is very familiar with USM and the state of Maryland. We are confident that he will provide the visionary and innovative leadership the University System of Maryland needs to continue to enhance opportunities for our students and our state."

Details follow at the end of this news release regarding an introductory news conference in Baltimore at 2:30 p.m., Friday, Dec. 19.

"I am extending my heartiest congratulations to Robert Caret as the next Chancellor of the University System of Maryland, and I ask the entire campus community to join me in welcoming him back home to Maryland," said University of Maryland President Wallace D. Loh.

As president of the University of Massachusetts (UMass) since July 2011, Caret has become a major spokesperson on the pressing issues of college affordability and student debt. Throughout his UMass tenure, he has emphasized efficiency, rolling out several cost-saving initiatives, and established productive working relationships with Massachusetts government and business leaders. His successful pursuit of a 50-50 funding formula for UMass resulted in the state and students contributing equally to the university's general education program and a 22 percent increase in the base budget for two years. He also secured additional state funding, allowing UMass to freeze tuition and mandatory fees for in-state undergraduate students for two consecutive years.

Before joining UMass, Caret was president of Towson University (TU) for eight years, where he also served as a faculty member, dean, executive vice president and provost during his more than 25-year tenure there. At Towson, he created partnerships with regional business, non-profit and civic organizations; raised student graduation rates; and undertook a capital fundraising and building campaign to support campus infrastructure improvements. He oversaw an increase in the university's online courses and expanded the availability of TU courses at regional higher education centers. He was instrumental in establishing Towson University in Northeaster Maryland, which offers transfer students the flexibility to pursue a four-year degree after completing an associate's degree at a community college. The facility is located on the grounds of Harford Community College. 

From 1995 to 2003, Caret served as president of San Jose State University (SJSU), part of the California State University System. He is credited with bringing a vision for SJSU as the metropolitan university of Silicon Valley.

"I am excited and energized to return to Maryland and the University System of Maryland," said Caret. "I have dedicated 29 years of my professional career to the system and the state and to two primary goals: to ensure we provide high-quality, affordable education and that we continue to build a research-based economic engine.  I look forward to working to ensure those two goals remain central to all that we do."

Active in the national higher education community, Caret serves on the National Association of System Heads and American Council on Education boards. He also is a member of the National Security Higher Education Advisory Board and the Government University Industry Research Roundtable.

In Massachusetts, Caret has served on the boards of several organizations, including the Governor's STEM Advisory Council, Massachusetts Life Sciences Center, Massachusetts Technology Collaborative, and Edward M. Kennedy Institute.

Caret holds a Ph.D. in organic chemistry from the University of New Hampshire and a bachelor's degree in chemistry from Suffolk University in Boston.

When Caret joins the USM next year, he will succeed William E. Kirwan, who in May announced his plans to step down from the chancellor's position after a career of more than 50 years in public higher education. Kirwan will remain in the position until Caret is on board.

"I've known Bob Caret for several years," said Kirwan. "He has had significant positive impact on each institution he has led. The University System of Maryland and the state will benefit greatly from his leadership in the years ahead."

Caret's appointment follows a six-month, extensive national search led by Rick Berndt, chair of the search-and-screening committee; managing partner of Gallagher Evelius & Jones LLP, a Baltimore law firm; and a former USM regent.

"We deeply appreciate the diligent work of the search committee," said Chairman Shea on behalf of the USM Board of Regents. "Under Rick Berndt's excellent leadership, the committee carefully reviewed the applicants and nominees, and forwarded highly qualified finalists to the board for consideration."

The University System of Maryland comprises 12 institutions:  Bowie State University; Coppin State University; Frostburg State University; Salisbury University; Towson University; University of Baltimore; University of Maryland, Baltimore; University of Maryland, Baltimore County; University of Maryland, College Park; University of Maryland Eastern Shore; University of Maryland University College; and the University of Maryland Center for Environmental Studies. USM also includes two regional centers:  Universities at Shady Grove and University System of Maryland at Hagerstown, at which USM universities offer upper-division (undergraduate junior- and senior-levels) and graduate courses.

Systemwide, student enrollment exceeds 162,000. USM and its institutions compete successfully for more than $1 billion in external grants and contracts annually. USM institutions and programs are among the nation's best in quality and value according to several national rankings. To learn more about the University System of Maryland, visit 


WHAT: James L. Shea, chair of the USM Board of Regents, will introduce Robert L. Caret 

WHEN: 2:30 p.m., Friday, December 19, 2014

WHERE: Christopher Columbus Center, 701 E. Pratt St., Baltimore, MD, in the Multi-Purpose Room. (Members of the Columbus Center building staff are available to indicate location.)

WHO: Chairman Shea; Chancellor Kirwan; and other distinguished leaders of the University System of Maryland. Parking is available in a number of public garages near the Center, all visible from Pratt Street.


UMD Maintains Spot on Kiplinger's Top 10 Best Values in Public Colleges

December 17, 2014

Alana Carchedi 301-405-0235

COLLEGE PARK, Md. - For the seventh consecutive year, the University of Maryland has ranked in the top 10 in Kiplinger’s Personal Finance’s annual ranking of the 100 Best Values in Public Colleges. UMD took the 9th spot on the list for in-state tuition and 14th for out-of-state.

"The University of Maryland is honored for the recognition it has received from Kiplinger in this year’s list," said Shannon Gundy, Director of Undergraduate Admissions and Recruitment at the University of Maryland. "Our inclusion in the top 10 for the seventh consecutive year is a true testament to the consistent academic excellence and outstanding value we provide students and their families."

Each year, Kiplinger’s collects data from hundreds of public four-year institutions and determines the top 100 by analyzing several measurable standards, such as academic quality – including SAT or ACT scores, admission and retention rates, student-faculty ratios, and four- year graduation rates – financial aid, cost, and average student debt at graduation.

"We salute this year’s top schools," says Janet Bodnar, editor of Kiplinger’s Personal Finance magazine. "Balancing top-quality education with affordable cost is a challenge for families in today’s economy, which is why Kiplinger’s rankings are such a valuable resource. The schools on the 2015 list offer students the best of both worlds."

Full rankings can be found at The rankings will also appear in the February 2015 issue of Kiplinger’s Personal Finance, on newsstands January 6, 2015. 

UMD Studies: To Boost Maryland Jobs, Target Job Hubs

December 10, 2014

Maggie Haslam 202-258-8946 

COLLEGE PARK, Md. - To stimulate economic development and job creation, state and local governments should target incentives to specific "employment centers" that have the greatest growth potential and regional accessibility, recommends a pair of studies by the University of Maryland National Center for Smart Growth (NCSG). 

NCSGOne of the studies, "Employment Centers and Agglomeration Economies: Foundations of a Spatial Economic Development Strategy," has been published online by Economic Development Quarterly. The other, "Polycentrism as a Sustainable Development Strategy: An Empirical Analysis from the State of Maryland," will appear next month in the Journal of Urbanism (it is currently available at  Both recommend a stronger focus on "concentrated employment hubs," in future state decisions on smart growth, land use and transportation policy.

Whereas most Maryland economic development policies focus on specific industries - such as motion pictures - or target populations- such as the chronically unemployed - the reports suggest that the state also needs to consider the locations where new firms are most likely to thrive.

"Creating jobs statewide is a vital necessity, but the natural magnets for new firms are the areas where the transportation infrastructure, skilled workforce, and complementary businesses are already in place," says Gerrit Knaap, director of the university’s NCSG.  "This is what is needed for new businesses to survive and what leads to higher transit ridership.  Most state smart growth policies fail to take this into consideration."

For example, many state economic development programs - such as the job creation tax credit program - provide incentives for firms to locate in Priority Funding Areas, Knaap says. But Priority Funding Areas were drawn based on residential densities and primarily designed to contain residential growth. To promote smart economic development, incentives should be directed to areas where firms have the greatest chance of survival, he recommends. Job hubs offer firms the benefit of proximity to existing firms, while the state gets the greatest return on its investment in transportation infrastructure.

These "employment centers" represent the largest concentration of jobs per square mile within a region. Downtown Baltimore, the 270 corridor, Hunt Valley and Greenbelt-College Park all represent areas of concentrated employment within the Baltimore-Washington Metropolitan Area, each boasting between 10,000 and 360,000 jobs. 

While the footprint of these employment centers is small - about one percent of the state’s land area, the studies report - they offer the highest concentration of high-paying jobs. According to the NCSG, these employment hubs host 40 percent of the state’s jobs and 46 percent of the total wages paid. Compared with employers not located in these centers, NCSG researchers found firms located in the top 23 hubs employ nearly twice as many workers per firm and pay nearly 30 percent higher wages. 

Not only do these hubs attract businesses, the studies found them critical engines for innovation, new business and economic growth. Business "births" are higher in employment centers than in any other area of the state, reports "Employment Centers and Agglomeration Economies."

"These economic centers act like natural business incubators," says Professor Chengri Ding, the study’s lead author. "We found that in the period just before the great recession in 2008, a significantly larger proportion of firms in the Construction; Finance, Insurance, and Real Estate (FIRE); Professional Services; and Administrative Services were born inside economic centers rather than outside them."

Paying more attention to these hubs of employment could also influence future transportation planning and policy, particularly when weighing new public transit projects. Using the Maryland State Transportation Model, the NCSG researchers estimate that the 23 centers attract 21 percent of all automobile trips and 39 percent of all transit trips.  Research also found that private sector creation and growth was strongly affected by the availability—and location—of transportation infrastructure. 

According to Eli Knaap, lead author of "Polycentrism as a Sustainable Development Strategy: An Empirical Analysis from the State of Maryland," "these results suggest that locating jobs near transit stations might be the most effective means of increasing transit ridership in the state."

The report findings have strong implications on future housing development as well, particularly when considering the influx of millennials and immigrants into the workforce. The researchers conclude that encouraging housing development within transit commute sheds of these employment hubs—particularly those with strong transit accessibility—can best accommodate both the desires of a changing, more urban-focused workforce and long-term sustainability.

"By making Maryland job-ready in the centers most desirable to future employers, the state can light up an 'open for business' sign," concludes NCSG director Gerrit Knaap.  

UMD Physics Professor Confirmed as Head of ARPA-E

December 10, 2014

Abby Robinson 301-405-5845

After more than a year, Williams voted in as director of advanced energy projects         

COLLEGE PARK, Md. - Distinguished University Professor Ellen Williams was confirmed by the U.S. Senate yesterday as the new Director of the Advanced Research Projects Agency-Energy (ARPA-E). President Obama nominated Williams in November 2013 to direct the agency, which was launched with bipartisan support in 2009 to advance high-potential, high-impact energy technologies that are too early in development for private-sector investment.

University Professor Ellen Williams. Copyright Mike Morgan"ARPA-E is central to the Department's advancement of energy technology innovation, and Ellen Williams will provide outstanding leadership based upon her combination of world class research in condensed matter physics and insight into how technology impacts the energy marketplace," said U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) Secretary Ernest Moniz in a release. "I'm excited to work with Ellen on expanding the scope and impact of ARPA-E."

According to the DOE press release, Williams, as Director of ARPA-E, will ensure that the technologies assisted through ARPA-E will help change the energy landscape and better meet the nations changing energy needs.

"We are delighted at the news of Prof. Williams’ confirmation," said Patrick O’Shea, Vice President and Chief Research Officer of the University of Maryland.  "Ellen has had an extraordinarily accomplished career as an educator and researcher in surface science and nanotechnology, which has prepared her well for her new position."

Prior to her new DOE appointment, Williams was Chief Scientist for BP, a position she had held since 2010. She is currently on a leave of absence from the University of Maryland where she is a Distinguished University Professor in the department of physics and the Institute for Physical Science and Technology

Williams came to UMD in 1981 for a post-doctoral fellowship and became a full professor in 1991. At Maryland, she pioneered the use of very powerful electron scanning, tunneling microscopes to study the surface of materials like silicon at the atomic level. In 1996 Williams founded the University of Maryland Materials Research Science and Engineering Center, serving as its director until 2009. She was elected to the National Academy of Sciences (NAS) in 2005. 

Williams has served on the board of reviewing editors of Science Magazine since 2003. She also has participated in technical assessments for the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency, the Department of Defense, National Nuclear Security Administration and the Department of Energy. 

Read a profile of Professor Williams in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences or listen to her talk about what inspired her to go into science in an NAS podcast.


Astronomers Discover Unique Spiral Galaxy with Twin "Jets" and "Halo"

December 9, 2014

Abby Robinson 301-405-5845

COLLEGE PARK, Md. - With the help of citizen scientists, a research team that includes University of Maryland astronomers has found an important new example of a very rare type of galaxy that may yield valuable insight on how galaxies developed in the early universe.

Radio-optical overlay image of galaxy J1649+2635. Yellow is visible-light image; Blue is the radio image, indicating the presence of jets. Credit: Mao et al., NRAO/AUI/NSF, Sloan Digital Sky SurveyThe galaxy they studied, named J1649+2635, nearly 800 million light-years from Earth, is a spiral galaxy, like our own Milky Way, but with prominent "jets" of subatomic particles propelled outward from its core at nearly the speed of light. The problem is that spiral galaxies are not supposed to have such large jets.

"The conventional wisdom is that such jets come only from elliptical galaxies that formed through the merger of spirals. We don't know how spirals can have these large jets," said the study's lead author Minnie Mao, of the National Radio Astronomy Observatory (NRAO).

J1649+2635 is only the fourth jet-emitting spiral galaxy discovered to date, and the first example of a "grand design" spiral galaxy with a large "halo" of visible-light emission surrounding it. UMD Astronomy Professor Sylvain Veilleux and graduate student Vicki Toy, two of the study's co-authors, discovered the "halo" while observing the galaxy with the Discovery Channel Telescope near Flagstaff, Ariz.

"Our discovery supports the idea that the central bulge and halo of this galaxy may have been formed through a major galaxy merger, but the spiral structure formed later on," said Veilleux. "The findings also indicate that J1649+2635 is the central member of a rich galaxy group that has likely undergone one or two major mergers in the past."

A study detailing the discovery and appearance of J1649+2635 has been accepted for publication in the Monthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society. Mao and her colleagues dubbed these rare galaxies "Spiral DRAGNs," an acronym for the technical description, "Double-lobed Radio sources Associated with Galactic Nuclei."

Pro-Am Science
The new discovery also exemplifies the growth over the past decade of professional and amateur (Pro-Am) scientific collaborations.  In astronomy, such Pro-Am projects include Galaxy Zoo, Planet Hunters, and Stardust at Home that engage the public to participate in and contribute to research efforts.

In the current study, citizen scientists helped professional astronomers identify unique spiral galaxy J1649+2635. Participants in the online Galaxy Zoo project look at images from the visible-light Sloan Digital Sky Survey and classify the galaxies as spiral, elliptical or other types. Multiple volunteers inspect each galaxy image to ensure accuracy in the classification.

The research team studying J1649+2635 started with a subset of 35,000 spiral galaxies generated by Galaxy Zoo citizen volunteers who viewed and classified more than 65,000 galaxies. For each galaxy, some 95 percent of those viewing its image agreed on the classification. Galaxy J1649+2635 had been classified as spiral by 30 out of the 31 Galaxy Zoo volunteers.

The researchers then cross-matched the visible-light spirals with galaxies in a catalog that combines data from the NRAO Karl G. Jansky Very Large Array (VLA) Sky Survey and the Faint Images of the Radio Sky at Twenty Centimeters survey. They found that J1649+2635 is both a spiral galaxy and has powerful twin radio jets.

Jets such as those seen coming from J1649+2635 are propelled by the gravitational energy of a supermassive black hole at the core of the galaxy. Material pulled toward the black hole forms a rapidly rotating disk, and particles are accelerated outward along the poles of the disk. The collision that presumably forms an elliptical galaxy disrupts gas in the merging galaxies and provides "fuel" for the disk and acceleration mechanism. That same disruption, however, is expected to destroy any spiral structure as the galaxies merge into one.

"The next step will be to look for more examples of spiral galaxies with giant radio jets and a halo of light surrounding them in the nearby universe to better understand how common this phenomenon is," said Veilleux.

Additional authors on this study included Frazer Owen, Emmanuel Momjian, Mark Lacy and Ryan Duffin of the NRAO; Bill Keel of the University of Alabama; Glenn Morrison of the University of Hawaii and the Canada-France-Hawaii Telescope; Tony Mroczkowski of the Naval Research Laboratory; Susan Neff of NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center; Ray Norris of CSIRO Astronomy and Space Science in Australia; and Henrique Schmitt of the Naval Research Laboratory.

The National Radio Astronomy Observatory is a facility of the National Science Foundation, operated under cooperative agreement by Associated Universities, Inc. This study used the Discovery Channel Telescope at Lowell Observatory. Lowell is a private, non-profit institution dedicated to astrophysical research and public appreciation of astronomy and operates the Discovery Channel Telescope in partnership with Boston University, the University of Maryland, the University of
Toledo and Northern Arizona University.


December 18
Researchers at the University of Maryland’s Department of Human Development in the College of Education have produced a... Read
December 17
After a successful tenure as president of the five-campus University of Massachusetts system, Robert L. Caret will... Read
December 17
For the seventh consecutive year, the University of Maryland has ranked in the top 10 in Kiplinger’s Personal Finance’s... Read
December 10
To stimulate economic development and job creation, state and local governments should target incentives to specific "... Read