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Thursday, May 28, 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.

Distinguished Soil Chemist Named Dean of the College of Agriculture and Natural Resources at the University of Maryland

May 26, 2015

Crystal Brown 301-405-4621

COLLEGE PARK, Md. – The University of Maryland today announced the appointment of Dr. Craig Beyrouty as dean of the College of Agriculture and Natural Resources. Dr. Beyrouty has been involved in teaching, research, and extension for more than 35 years. He will officially join the university on Nov. 1, 2015. 

"We are extremely fortunate to have Dr. Beyrouty's three decades of experience teaching and leading in the field of agriculture," says Mary Ann Rankin, UMD's senior vice president and provost. "His extensive leadership experience and expertise in the field will be a valuable asset to the university and will take our College of Agriculture and Natural Resources to new levels of success."

Dr. Beyrouty joins the University of Maryland from Colorado State University, where he most recently served as dean of the College of Agricultural Sciences. In that role, Dr. Beyrouty was the chief administrative and academic officer for the college, leading and overseeing the college’s programs, budgets, and related activities, including resident instruction, research, outreach, and international activities. 

"I am honored to join the prestigious faculty and staff in the University of Maryland's College of Agriculture and Natural Resources," says Dr. Beyrouty. "I look forward to helping shape a college that will meet the developing public needs and opportunities of the future in agriculture, families, natural resources and the environment."

Dr. Beyrouty concurrently served as director of the Agricultural Experiment Station for Colorado State University, which operates research centers in eight locations throughout Colorado and provides broad-based funding for agricultural-related research.

Previously he held positions as professor and head of Agronomy at Purdue University and professor at the University of Arkansas. He has led and participated in international research, teaching and administrative activities all across the world, in places such as Rwanda, Tokyo, Madrid, and Moscow, among many more.

Dr. Beyrouty is a fellow of the Soil Science Society of America and the American Society of Agronomy.  He has served as vice chair of the International Rice Root Working Group and president of the Plant Root Environment Working Group.  In 1983, he received the George Scarseth Research Award.

Dr. Beyrouty earned his Ph.D. and M.S. degrees in soil chemistry from Purdue University and a B.S. in soil science from Cal Poly State University.  Prior to pursuing graduate studies, he mapped soils for the Soil Conservation Service and was a research scientist for Castle and Cooke Foods in Illinois.

UMD Office of Sustainability Announces 2015 University Sustainability Projects

May 21, 2015

Andrew Muir 301-405-7068

COLLEGE PARK, Md. – The University of Maryland Office of Sustainability has announced the second and final set of Sustainability Fund projects approved for 2015.  The Sustainability Fund allocates money for students, faculty                                                                          and staff of the university to finance projects that will                                                                              improve sustainability on campus.   

The projects approved for funding by the Student Sustainability Subcommittee and the University Sustainability Council include: 

Compost at Terp Farm

"This most recent allocation of the Sustainability Fund is really exciting,” said Ori Gutin, President of the Student Sustainability Committee, Student Government Association.  “We challenged members of the university community to submit more projects, and seeing the great ideas they developed for environmental research, waste management, reducing energy use, and stormwater management shows that they really stepped up to the challenge. It’s inspiring to see how everyone can help transform our campus."

Composting and waste education projects are a popular theme for this year’s grants.  The Solid Waste and Recycling Unit of Facilities Management is meeting an increasing demand on campus for more compost collection.  Additional waste minimization projects include a Greek Life Composting Initiative, a Sustainable Tailgating initiative to encourage proper waste sorting in parking lots at athletic events, and the Stamp Napkins - #UMDGreenHacks project - aimed at raising awareness about composting and recycling at The Stamp Food Court.  

“The support from our Student Sustainability Committee is fantastic,” said Bill Guididas, Head of Recycling & Waste Management.  “It highlights our students’ interest and commitment to the continuous improvement of our recycling and compost collection program.”  

Other project highlights for this round of funding include constructing a rain garden for the revamped Center for Young Children (CYC) playground.  Renovations for the playground have received attention recently thanks to its LaunchUMD crowd funding initiative that helped to raise over $11,000.   

Center for Young Children (CYC) Rain Garden

“The rain garden project will alleviate a flooding problem that creates a safety hazard within the playground area,” said Steven Cohan, Professor of the Practice, Plant Science and Landscape Architecture Department.  “The rain garden will also provide a learning center for the classes to gain an understanding of how they filter stormwater runoff and how the plants play a role in this biological system.”

The College of Behavioral and Social Sciences (BSOS) has made great strides in the first year of implementing its college-wide Sustainability Plan.  The college received a grant to install a Solar Power Charging and Study Station that will allow members of the university community to charge their electronic devices at an outlet powered entirely by solar energy.  

"As the BSOS Sustainability Task Force only began in fall 2014, we are incredibly pleased to have received funding for our project,” said Amee Bearne, Sustainability Coordinator, College of Behavioral and Social Sciences.  “Our purpose as a task force is to collaborate across disciplines over one project to understand how different knowledge bases and fields can work together to achieve a singular task. BSOS is committed to creating an atmosphere of innovation and problem solving for our 21st century sustainability issues." 

The Sustainability Fund was created after 91 percent of undergraduate students voted in favor of increasing student fees to help fund sustainability projects on campus.  Since 2011, the fund has granted more than $1,000,000 to 72 sustainability projects.  The priority deadline for Sustainability Fund applications for the 2016 funding cycle is Thursday, October 15, with an extended deadline of Friday, January 15.  There will be $400,000 in funding available next year.      

For more information about the University Sustainability Fund, visit sustainability.umd.edu. For additional information on each 2015 Sustainability Project, visit sustainability.umd.edu/content/about/fund_recipients.php

Engineering Course in Social Philanthropy Seeds 'Green' Transformation for DC Elementary School

May 20, 2015

Lee Tune 301-405-4679

Engineering Students Award $10K to FRESHFARM Markets for its FoodPrints Program 

COLLEGE PARK, Md. - A University of Maryland A. James Clark School of Engineering class has awarded FRESHFARM Markets a $10,000 grant for the non-profit organization’s FoodPrints Program. The grant will be used by FRESHFARM Markets for the installation of a garden and greenspace at Ludlow-Taylor Elementary School in Washington, D.C.  The grant award is part of this semester’s pilot of a new course, Engineering for Social Change

The class, which is an offering of the department of mechanical engineering, with support from UMD’s School of Public Policy, was established to introduce young engineers to the ideas of social change and social entrepreneurship through the intersection of concepts from both engineering and philanthropy.

Inaugural Engineering for Social Change class with faculty and course instructors Professor Emeritus Davinder Anand (front left), Course Manager Dylan Hazelwood (front right) and Research Associate Mukes Kapilashrami (far left).

"We are facing growing social and environmental challenges where the solutions are not always profitable financially but have significant social benefit," said course creator and Professor Emeritus of Mechanical Engineering Davinder Anand. "We must create an environment where engineers have not only a social conscience, but also the skills and knowledge to build and work with organizations that are philanthropic or nonprofit."

Course organizers say that while many universities focus on public policy and developmental engineering to address issues of support in developing or economically challenged areas, UMD is leading the way in social engineering and social entrepreneurship by infusing the ideas and processes of philanthropy into its engineering curriculum.

"This course provides an educational experience that connects engineering, philanthropy and social change, and gives students a firsthand look at how they can make a very real impact in their own local community," said Anand. "Students also have the opportunity to demonstrate thought leadership and gain an understanding of how individual's values and backgrounds influence the decision making process."

Throughout the course, students learned from both engineers and leaders in nonprofit organizations. In addition, the class culminated in awarding one $10,000 grant to a nonprofit organization of their choosing. 

FRESHFARM Markets, the inaugural recipient of an Engineering for Social Change Grant, will use the award for Ludlow-Taylor Elementary School, the newest school enrolled in the organization’s FoodPrints program, an educational program that integrates gardening, cooking and nutrition education into the curriculum at five DC Public Schools (DCPS).  

"The UMD grant will cover almost 100 percent of the garden area construction and installation," said Jessica Hulse Dillon, FRESHFARM Markets' grant program manager. "The students will get a massive transformation of their asphalt playgrounds into garden and beautiful green space they can learn from and run around in."

Students worked together as a group—through open discussion and debate—to decide not only what kind of non-profit they would help, but what the selection process would look like and facilitate it. 

"The students are really able to take ownership [of the process," said Jennifer Littlefield, Director of the College Park Scholars Public Leadership program, Associate Director of the Center for Philanthropy and Nonprofit Leadership in the UMD School of Public Policy, and who has helped teach the new course in conjunction with engineering faculty. "There are a lot of leadership skills that the students have the opportunity to learn. They learn good group decision making models, how to compromise, how to both pitch and support ideas and more."

Course founder Professor Emeritus Davinder Anand presents inaugural Engineering  for Social Change grant to FRESHFARM Markets represented by Jennifer Mampara,  FRESHFARM Market's FoodPrints Program Coordinator (left) and Ludlow-Taylor Elementary  School Principle, Debra Bell (right) and students. Funds provided for by  the Neilom Foundation.

After soliciting proposals, students interviewed potential nonprofits and conducted site visits with the finalists to see for themselves how the each nonprofit would use the grant.

"Site visits gave us the opportunity to see firsthand what the impact would be in the local community," said rising senior Jazmyne Claggett, who grew up in D.C. and Prince George's County. "[With FRESHFARM at Ludlow-Taylor] we would be able to have an impact on young children's' lives and could see how that could be grown and fostered in their own families." 

In addition to the class-awarded $10,000 grant, students had the opportunity to compete for a $1,000 seed grant of their own through the class’s Virtual Nonprofit Challenge. Course Manager Dylan Hazelwood notes, “We designed the Virtual Nonprofit Challenge to allow students to utilize their engineering, creativity, leadership and entrepreneurial skills to engage in developing a nonprofit in an area they felt passionately about.” The winning team can then use the grant to start their own organization.

Claggett and her teammates Brent Bian, William Sama and Mulindi Johnson won the student challenge with their proposal for Inspyre, a student led initiative to provide STEM education activities, outreach and support to K-12 students. 

Having benefited from a similar program as a child, Claggett is dedicated to helping other young students fulfill their STEM goals. The first woman in her family to achieve a college education, Claggett said, "The impact that a nonprofit program can have, is very keen to me. I was that child, and I have a passion for STEM education because of how it changed my life."

During her site visit at Ludlow-Taylor, Claggett met students who reminded her of her own childhood and is excited by the prospect of paying forward to others through the kinds of programs that inspired her.

Through the philanthropic education of future engineers, the future for students at Ludlow-Taylor is now a little brighter, and a lot greener.

"I think it is a fantastic intersection," Dillon added. "Engineers often get categorized into math and science, but this is a great way to show another side of engineering, and to show engineers another avenue of applicability for their skills."

The Neilom Foundation and the Center for Engineering Concepts Development (CECD) provided this semester's grant, and conducted the class in partnership with UMD's Center for Philanthropy and Non-Profit Leadership in the School of Public Policy.

Expanding Magnets Have Potential to Energize the World

May 20, 2015

Faye Levine, 301-405-0379, University of Maryland
Preston Moretz, 215-204-4380, Temple University

Discovery Sheds New Light on 175-year-old Principle

COLLEGE PARK, Md. – A new class of magnets that swell in volume when placed in a magnetic field and generate negligible amounts of wasteful heat during energy harvesting, has been discovered by researchers at the University of Maryland (UMD) and Temple University.

The researchers, Manfred Wuttig, a professor of materials science and engineering at Maryland and his former Ph.D. student Harsh Deep Chopra, now professor and chair of mechanical engineering at Temple, published their findings, “Non-Joulian Magnetostriction,” in the May 21st issue of the journal Nature.

Never before seen highly periodic magnetic ‘cells’ or ‘domains’ in iron-gallium alloys responsible for non-Joulian magnetism. Image courtesy of Harsh Chopra.“Our findings fundamentally change the way we think about a certain type of magnetism that has been in place since 1841,” said Chopra, who also runs the Materials Genomics and Quantum Devices Laboratories in Temple’s College of Engineering.

The researchers and others say this transformative breakthrough has the potential to not only displace existing technologies but create altogether new applications due to the unusual combination of magnetic properties.

“Chopra and Wuttig’s work is a good example of how basic research advances can be true game changers,” said Tomasz Durakiewicz, National Science Foundation condensed matter physics program director. “Their probing of generally accepted tenets about magnetism has led to a new understanding of an old paradigm.  This research has the potential to catapult sustainable, energy-efficient materials in a very wide range of applications.”

In the 1840s, physicist James Prescott Joule discovered that iron-based magnetic materials changed their shape but not their volume when placed in a magnetic field. This phenomenon is referred to as “Joule Magnetostriction,” and since its discovery 175 years ago, all magnets have been characterized on this basis.

“We have discovered a new class of magnets, which we call ‘Non-Joulian Magnets,’ that show a large volume change in magnetic fields,” said Chopra. “Moreover, these non-Joulian magnets also possess the remarkable ability to harvest or convert energy with minimal heat loss.”

“The response of these magnets differs fundamentally from that likely envisioned by Joule,” said Wuttig. “He must have thought that magnets respond in a uniform fashion.”

Chopra and Wuttig discovered that when they thermally treated certain iron-based alloys by heating them in a furnace at approximately 760 degrees Celsius for 30 minutes, then rapidly cooled them to room temperature, the materials exhibited the non-Joulian behavior.

The researchers found the thermally treated materials contained never before seen microscopic cellular-like structures whose response to a magnetic field is at the heart of non-Joulian magnetostriction. “Knowing about this unique structure will enable researchers to develop new materials with similarly attractive properties,” Wuttig added.

The researchers noted that conventional magnets can only be used as actuators for exerting forces in one direction since they are limited by Joule magnetostriction. Actuation, even in two directions, requires bulky stacks of magnets, which increase size and reduce efficiency. Since non-Joulian magnets spontaneously expand in all directions, compact omnidirectional actuators can now be easily realized, they said.

Because these new magnets also have energy efficient characteristics, they can be used to create a new generation of sensors and actuators with vanishingly small heat signatures, said the researchers. These magnets could also find applications in efficient energy harvesting devices; compact micro-actuators for aerospace, automobile, biomedical, space and robotics applications; and ultra-low thermal signature actuators for sonars and defense applications.

Since these new magnets are composed of alloys that are free of rare-earth elements, they could replace existing rare-earth based magnetostriction alloys, which are expensive and feature inferior mechanical properties, said researchers.

The research was supported by the Metals and the Condensed Matter Physics programs of the National Science Foundation’s Division of Materials Research.

UMD Names Dr. Babak Hamidzadeh Interim Dean of Libraries

May 20, 2015

Crystal Brown 301-405-4621

COLLEGE PARK, Md. – The University of Maryland has appointed Dr. Babak Hamidzadeh as Interim Dean of Libraries. In this role, Dr. Hamidzadeh will work to advance the UMD Libraries' reputation on the regional, national and international stage.

"It is clear from the extraordinary number of personal letters and emails I received nominating Dr. Hamidzadeh for this position that he is highly regarded by his colleagues," says Mary Ann Rankin, UMD's senior vice president and provost. "His more than 20 years of experience and exceptional track record here at UMD make him the perfect candidate for this role. I am certain that he will be an outstanding interim dean." 

Since 2011, Dr. Hamidzadeh has served as Associate Dean for Digital Systems and Stewardship at the UMD Libraries. He is also an affiliate associate professor with the Department of Computer Science and with the University of Maryland Institute for Advanced Computer Studies.

"I am pleased to take on this important leadership role and am gracious for the tremendous support and recognition I have received from my colleagues," says Dr. Hamidzadeh. "I look forward to leading the implementation of our vision for the UMD Libraries designed for the 21st century."

In his time at the University of Maryland, Dr. Hamidzadeh has started several new programs and initiatives, such as Research Data Services, Digital Scholarship and Publishing, Digital Stewardship, Digital Preservation, and Teaching and Research Software Development Services. He has provided technical infrastructure and support to the 16 campuses of the University System of Maryland and Affiliated Institutions’ library consortium, and has been an active member of the consortium's Council of Library Directors. 

Prior to joining the University of Maryland, Dr. Hamidzadeh served as Director of the Repository Development Center at the Library of Congress where for nearly seven years he led a team and a data center that developed and deployed large-­‐scale digital archives and libraries. He has also served in a senior management position with The Boeing Company, and held several faculty positions at the University of British Columbia and University of Science and Technology in Hong Kong.

Dr. Hamidzadeh received his B.S., M.S., and Ph.D. in Computer Science and Engineering from the University of Minnesota. 


May 27
A new study by UMD and the SESYNC demonstrates that the highly contentious debate on climate change is fueled by how... Read
May 26
Dr. Craig Beyrouty will bring more than 35 years of teaching, research and extension experience to UMD.  Read
May 21
The Sustainability Fund allocates money for students, faculty and staff of the university to finance projects that will... Read
May 20
Engineering students award $10K to FRESHFARM Markets for its FoodPrints Program  Read