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Wednesday, October 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 Coalition Forges Community Strategy for Purple Line Corridor

September 30, 2014
Contacts: 

Maggie Haslam 202-258-8946

Purple Line Community Compact will create a plan for vibrant economic development and community preservation

COLLEGE PARK, Md. —The Purple Line Corridor Coalition, a partnership of regional stakeholders formed by the University of Maryland's National Center for Smart Growth, has initiated a plan with officials from the State of Maryland, Montgomery and Prince George's Counties to develop a blueprint for prosperous development and preservation along the MTA's proposed Purple Line Transit Line. The Purple Line Community Compact will articulate a livability strategy designed to foster vibrant economic and community development for those who live and work along the 16-mile corridor.

PLCC Symposium"The Purple Line Community Compact represents the next step in a coordinated effort to promote the economic development, small business growth, cultural preservation, and long-term sustainability of transit corridor communities," said Gerrit Knaap, Director of UMD's National Center for Smart Growth. "This is an enormous investment by the MTA and an incredible opportunity for the communities that line the corridor."

The Purple Line Community Compact will present a common vision for the future of the corridor—revitalizing and stabilizing mixed income neighborhoods, preserving community assets, supporting small businesses, connecting workers to jobs and creating healthy and vibrant communities—and a strategy for achieving that vision.  In addition, the compact represents an opportunity to leverage the funding, construction and operation of the Purple Line to achieve benefits throughout the communities along its route. The compact serves as a continuation of efforts forged at March's Purple Line Corridor Coalition Symposium, "Beyond the Tracks" which brought over 250 regional leaders and stakeholders to UMD's campus to discuss strategies for community development and preservation along the corridor.

"This agreement is a critical step in moving the Purple Line project forward -- a project that ensures more transportation options for Prince George's and Montgomery counties and creates sustainable, family-supporting jobs for more Maryland families and connected communities," said Governor Martin O'Malley. "Working together with our dynamic coalition of stakeholders, non-profits, business interests, and many others, we'll establish a 21st century transportation network worthy of a modern economy and secure a better transportation future for our State."

"This compact will be an important part of building a comprehensive and sustainable strategy for the communities along the Purple Line, which is going to bring 60,000 riders a day back and forth between Montgomery and Prince George's Counties while creating over 10,000 jobs for Maryland's workers," said Lt. Governor Anthony Brown. "By partnering with County leaders, local businesses, residents, and community organizations, we'll ensure that we're strengthening all of our neighborhoods while helping to grow our economy."

PLCC SymposiumModeled after other compacts written in Seattle and Baltimore as part of major transit projects, the compact will be developed through an inclusive public process in the form of community workshops, led by committed partners invested in the corridor. The workshops will encourage attendees to participate in activities designed to provide input for the contents of the Purple Line Compact. Leaders are encouraged to attend both workshops to contribute at every stage of the compact development. 

Learn about workshop dates and details here.

"The Purple Line ranks as one of the most significant public infrastructure projects of our day," said Rushern Baker, Prince George's County Executive. "This multi-billion dollar effort will reflect the collective vision of an east-west public transit connector that will revitalize and grow our communities for future generations of Prince Georgians."

"Montgomery County is committed to moving the Purple Line forward in a way consistent with job creation and maintaining and improving the quality of life in our neighborhoods," said Ike Leggett, Montgomery County Executive.

Governor O'Malley and representatives from Montgomery County, Prince Georges' County and the PLCC are expected to sign the compact by year's end.  Cities, towns, community organizations and stakeholder groups across the corridor also will be encouraged to sign the compact.

The Purple Line Corridor Coalition was formed in June 2013 by the National Center for Smart Growth at the University of Maryland and represents stakeholders from communities, nonprofits and businesses along the Purple Line corridor. The PLCC's mission is to ensure that investments in the Purple Line will achieve the maximum economic, social, and environmental benefits to the residents and businesses of the corridor.

Amy Eichhorst Tapped to Lead UMD's Alumni Association

September 30, 2014
Contacts: 

Crystal Brown 301-405-4621

Amy Eichhorst COLLEGE PARK, Md. – The University of Maryland has named Amy Eichhorst as the new executive director of the Alumni Association—a key role for leading the engagement of UMD's base of 340,000 alumni. Eichhorst joins UMD from the University of Illinois Alumni Association and will officially start at Maryland on Nov. 17, 2014.

"Amy is an incredible leader and brings 20 years of association management and outreach experience to the University of Maryland," says UMD Vice President for University Relations Peter Weiler. "We are extremely fortunate to have someone with Amy's experience and expertise joining our team."

Eichhorst's background includes providing strategic direction to organizations; implementing organizational and structural enhancements to drive change; and recruiting and managing volunteer boards.

"I'm excited to lead the Alumni Association as the University of Maryland begins its inaugural year in the Big Ten Conference," says Eichhorst. "Through innovative programming, meaningful volunteer opportunities and targeted communications, I'm eager for the Alumni Association to accelerate the engagement of alumni of all generations. Together with my colleagues and staff, I look forward to creating an integrated alumni relations strategy that will advance the goals of increased membership, participation and philanthropy."

Eichhorst previously worked for the University of Illinois Alumni Association, where she was hired to grow the university's grassroots political advocacy organization - the Illinois Connection Advocacy Network. In this role, Eichhorst's work focused on outreach to the university's 750,000 living alumni to provide them with concrete, meaningful ways to support the future of the university. Under Eichhorst's leadership, the Illinois Connection has grown from 500 members to more than 14,000 advocates, including alumni, donors, students, faculty, staff and friends.

Stemming from her success with the Illinois Connection, Eichhorst was also tasked with managing the UI Alumni Association's newly created Alumni Advocacy and Outreach Division. In that role, Eichhorst oversaw the strategy for campus/constituent board relations, regional and international alumni clubs, special interest and affiliate groups, political advocacy, student programming and athletics.
 
Prior to working at the University of Illinois, Eichhorst served in several roles at the National Association of Realtors, including manager of the housing opportunity program and commercial services, legislative and political representative, and government affairs director. Prior to that, she worked on several political campaigns.

Eichhorst received a Bachelor of Arts degree in government and law from Lafayette College.

Milestone Reached in Search for Earth-Like Planets

September 26, 2014
Contacts: 

Abby Robinson 301-405-5845

COLLEGE PARK, Md. – Astronomers have found water vapor in the atmosphere of a planet about four times bigger than Earth, in the constellation Cygnus about 124 light years - or nearly 729 trillion miles - from our home planet. In the quest to learn about planets beyond our solar system, this discovery marks the smallest planet for which scientists have been able to identify some chemical components of its atmosphere.

In this artist's depiction, the Neptune-sized planet HAT-P-11b crosses in front of its star in the constellation Cygnus. Astronomers observe such crossings, or transits, to glean information about the atmospheres of distant planets. The blue part of the planet's rim is due to scattered light. The orange band in front of the star shows the region where water vapor was detected. Credit: NASA/JPL-CaltechThe researchers’ findings were published September 25, 2014 in the journal Nature. The team was led by UMD Astronomy Professor Drake Deming, an expert in the study of exoplanets, or planets that orbit suns outside our own solar system.

The finding of water vapor and hydrogen in the atmosphere of the exoplanet HAT P-11b is not only an astonishing piece of long-distance detective work, based on analyses of observations by three different NASA telescopes. It also suggests that astronomers’ ideas about how the planets formed appear to hold true for other planetary systems, as they do in our own.

How do scientists detect water in distant exoplanets? They use a quirk of light that happens when a planet transits, or passes in front of, its host star. Material in the planet’s atmosphere absorbs some of the star’s light, and that makes the planet appear bigger – similar to the way our sun seems bigger at sunset, when we are looking to the horizon across a broad swath of Earth’s atmosphere. By plotting changes in the exoplanet’s size, and relating them to the wavelength of electromagnetic radiation that the telescope observes, astronomers get a graph that shows how much of the star’s radiation the planet’s atmosphere is absorbing. The shape of that graph, called a transmission spectrum, can reveal what chemicals are present in the atmosphere.

The bigger the planet, the more obvious are the changes in the planet’s size during its transit across its host star. Astronomers have used this technique to describe the atmospheres of several giant planets, the size of our solar system’s Jupiter. In this study, the team wanted to analyze the atmosphere of a significantly smaller planet.

Because no clouds blocked the view, scientists were able to observe water vapor on a Neptune-sized planet for the first time. The smaller the planet, the more difficult it is to observe its atmosphere, and other small planets have been obscured by clouds. The upper atmosphere of HAT-P-11b appears nearly cloud-free, as shown in this artist's depiction. Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech The team chose HAT P-11b, which was discovered by the Hungarian-made Automated Telescope (HAT) network. It’s about four times the radius of Earth and about 26 times Earth’s mass. Compared to planets in our solar system, HAT P-11b is closest in size to Neptune. But it is much closer to its host star and therefore much hotter, about 878 kelvins, or 1,120 degrees Fahrenheit. It probably has a rocky core, wrapped in a thick, gaseous envelope of about 90 percent hydrogen. Its atmosphere is cloudless at high altitude, but as the team found, it contains the signature of water vapor.

UMD graduate student Jonathan Fraine, the paper’s lead author, observed HAT P-11b using two NASA telescopes — the Hubble Space Telescope, which measures visible and near-infrared light, and the Spitzer Space Telescope, which records only infrared light — between July 2011 and December 2012. The team compared those data to observations by NASA’s Kepler Space Telescope, which was launched to look for exoplanets and continuously records images of the portion of the sky where HAT-P-11b is located.

Why do astronomers look for water on exoplanets? First, because water is a precondition for life – though the presence of water alone is not enough for life to arise. “The water molecule is widespread in the universe,” says Deming. “Wherever you have hydrogen and oxygen, it naturally forms. Even some sun spots are cool enough to contain water vapor, although obviously it’s far too hot for life on the sun.”

Astronomers also want to test the hypothesis that other planets formed the same way ours did. In the primordial solar system, particles of dust and ice carried native electrical charges that caused them to stick together, like household “dust bunnies” do, in a process called core accretion. Early in this process the giant planets that formed far from the sun had enough gravitational pull to attract large amounts of hydrogen gas – the H in H2O.

In our solar system's giant planets, water freezes and precipitates out of the atmospheres, so it occurs only at levels that are difficult to observe. The closer-in, smaller planets, Mars, Venus and Earth, had water early in their evolution, though only Earth retains liquid water at the surface. The smaller the planet, astronomers believe, the more likely it is that heavier molecules like water vapor will be abundant along with hydrogen.

“Our ideas about the formation of planets have been developed to match our solar system,” explains Deming, “and we don’t know whether other planetary systems behave the same way. We want to test the fundamental question of whether small planets are rich in heavy elements, like the oxygen in water vapor.”

The finding of water vapor and hydrogen on HAT P-11b “is a key piece of the puzzle,” Deming says, consistent with astronomers’ main ideas on the formation of planets.

Leidos Invests in Innovation Partnership with UMD

September 24, 2014
Contacts: 

Pamela Morse 301-405-6266

Donation furthers Research, Education Programs, Student Activities and Fellowships

LeidosCOLLEGE PARK, Md. – The University of Maryland received a $200,000 donation from Leidos, a national security, health and engineering solutions company, to support research, education programs, student activities and fellowships.

The commitment of support reflects an ongoing relationship between Leidos and UMD to provide high-quality education and research opportunities for students and faculty. 

"We're excited to support one of the nation's finest research and educational institutions and the next generation of technical leaders," said Jim Cantor, senior vice president and chief engineer for Leidos National Security Sector and UMD executive sponsor.  "Such support not only provides critical resources and opportunities for students and faculty at institutions like UMD, it strengthens the nation as we work to maintain a strong high-tech research and manufacturing capability that is fundamental to national security."

The donation supports UMD's leading engineering, public health, and cybersecurity research and education programs. 

The gift includes the launch of the UMD-Leidos Seed Grant Program, a new initiative to facilitate and incentivize collaborations between UMD researchers and Leidos subject matter experts in the areas of health and national security. 

"UMD and Leidos are both global leaders looking to solve the grand problems of our time," said Patrick O'Shea, vice president and chief research officer at the University of Maryland. "We are delighted about the UMD-Leidos Seed Grant Program's potential to catalyze bold new research."

The donation also supports:

  • BitCamp, a student-run 'hackathon' where over 1,000 students demonstrate their skills on testing vulnerabilities of websites, apps and hardware projects.
  • Programs that promote diversity in STEM (science, technology, engineering and mathematics), including the Maryland Center for Women in Computing Ambassadors, the Center for Minorities in Science and Engineering Banquet, and Women in Engineering DREAM Conference.   
  • Efforts in the Departments of Electrical & Computer Engineering and Epidemiology & Biostatistics.
  • Talent development programs in the A. James Clark School of Engineering, the Department of Computer Science, and the University Career Center.
  • Membership in the Maryland Cybersecurity Center Corporate Partner Program and M-CERSI (University of Maryland Center of Excellence in Regulatory Science and Innovation) Industry Consortium, a program that brings together experts to discover regulatory science practices that promote innovation in medical devices and pharmaceutical, while also addressing critical safety concerns.

Reimagining Route 1 as Prominent Arts and Culture District

September 23, 2014
Contacts: 

Nicky Everette 301-405-6714

College Park Think-a-ThonCOLLEGE PARK, Md. — Imagine a street with a world-class art gallery and movie theater, where visitors and local residents stroll, shop and dine at sidewalk cafes alongside students and artists.

Now, imagine that street is Baltimore Avenue—also known as Route 1—College Park's major artery connecting residents, business owners, workers and the students, faculty and staff at the University of Maryland. As the university and city consider plans to reinvigorate Baltimore Avenue, the College of Arts and Humanities' Center for Synergy is asking the community to rethink the area and to imagine the impact arts and culture can play on its revitalization. 

The center plans to convene the greater College Park community for a Think-A-Thon planned for October 11. It recognizes that the university is a major anchor institution in College Park and Prince George's County. This supports the vision of turning College Park into a top 20 college town by 2020.

The event is intended to help university administrators, College Park officials and other city stakeholders, including residents, artists and students, gather information for a future redesign during an afternoon brainstorming session. All are invited to share ideas about how art and culture can address community challenges and help turn College Park into a national destination for living, learning and arts. 

"The Think-A-Thon is another reason that College Park is a smart place to live," said City of College Park Mayor Andrew Fellows. "We've always been thoughtful—now we've begun to do so collectively, by creative and collaborative design."

Actively engaging the community as a stakeholder gives the regional redesign a holistic approach, said Center for Synergy Director Sheri Parks.

"We're working very synergistically with the City of College Park," said Parks. "Arts and culture are central catalysts in the transformation of communities into highly livable environments that benefit everyone."

The center is leading the university's conversation as it relates to the infusion of arts and culture in a redesign, and seeks to engage community input in a series of pre-Think-A-Thon events leading up to the larger event.

Omar Blaik, CEO and founder of Philadelphia-based U3 Ventures, plans to attend the session to listen and learn what community members want. Blaik is an experienced consultant who helped transform swaths of Philadelphia around the University of Pennsylvania. He is now working with the University of Maryland in the larger East Campus redesign project with the goal of turning College Park into a vibrant campus that is integrated with its community through retail, dining, business, arts and culture.

The College Park Think-A-Thon is scheduled Oct. 11 from 2 to 5:30 p.m. at the College Park Community Center, 5051 Pierce Avenue, College Park, MD 20740.

For more information or to register, visit www.arhu.umd.edu/thinkathon.

UMD Recognized for Top Entrepreneurship and Innovation Programs

September 22, 2014
Contacts: 

Alana Carchedi 301-405-0235

Top 25 Entrepreneurship ProgramsCOLLEGE PARK, Md. – The University of Maryland (UMD) has been named one of the country's "Best Colleges for Entrepreneurs" by the Princeton Review. In the 2015 list of the top entrepreneurship programs, published in Entrepreneur magazine, UMD ranks No. 9 among public schools and No. 21 overall for its undergraduate program.  This is the fourth consecutive year that UMD has been named a Top 25 Entrepreneurship Program.

"UMD has always been a pioneer in educating the next generation of entrepreneurs, and now our university president has set a bold goal of broadening innovation and entrepreneurship to all 37,000 UMD students to prepare them to tackle the world's toughest problems," says Dean Chang, UMD's associate vice president for innovation and entrepreneurship. "We're now starting to create incredible I&E opportunities for students of all majors as a result of a collective effort by the Deans of every college, as well as numerous I&E-related programs across campus."

Over the past year, student enrollment in I&E courses at UMD has doubled.  The University of Maryland offers 141 innovation and entrepreneurship courses taught by 103 faculty representing 34 different campus departments; and UMD students have access to more than 21 I&E mentoring programs involving more than 113 external mentors. There are 16 different business, innovation and seed fund competitions for aspiring entrepreneurs and innovators with cash prizes in excess of $850,000. The university also celebrates I&E during its annual '30 Days of EnTERPreneurship' and offers the #1 Entrepreneurship MOOC on Coursera with more than 400,000 cumulative worldwide enrollments.

Based on surveys sent to school administrators at more than 2,000 institutions from April to June in 2014, the Princeton Review recognizes the Top 25 for their excellence in entrepreneurship education. Schools are chosen based on a number of factors, including:

  • The levels of their commitment to entrepreneurship inside and outside the classroom;
  • The percentage of their faculty, students, and alumni actively and successfully involved in entrepreneurial endeavors;
  • The number of their mentorship programs; and
  • Their funding for scholarships and grants for entrepreneurial studies and projects.

In addition to The Princeton Review's ranking, last year Silicon Valley's PandoDaily named UMD the Top Public School for Tech Entrepreneurship

To view the full list of rankings, visit www.princetonreview.com/entrepreneur.  To learn more about entrepreneurship and innovation at UMD, visit http://innovation.umd.edu.

UMD Honors Local Communities for Sustainability Efforts

September 19, 2014
Contacts: 

Mike Hunninghake 301 405-7956

Five Prince George's Municipalities Receive "Sustainable Maryland Certified" Award

Sustainable Maryland Certified

COLLEGE PARK, Md. – The Environmental Finance Center at the University of Maryland honored five Prince George's County municipalities for achieving Sustainable Maryland Certified status during an awards ceremony at the Maryland Municipal League's annual Fall Conference.

Officials from Berwyn Heights, Cheverly, Greenbelt, Riverdale Park, and University Park accepted their awards at the annual ceremony marking the achievements of Maryland communities striving to become more sustainable.

Joanne Throwe, director of the Environmental Finance Center, congratulated the certified towns: "These newly certified Sustainable Maryland municipalities have demonstrated, each in their own unique ways, their commitment to strengthening the social, economic and environmental pillars of sustainability in their towns and cities. I commend their elected officials, municipal staff, and of course the passionate volunteers of their Green Teams for their efforts to shine a guiding light on the path forward for all of Maryland's communities to a brighter, more sustainable future."

To achieve Sustainable Maryland Certified status, municipalities are required to form a Green Team comprised of local residents, community leaders, municipal staff and officials; complete a variety sustainability-related actions worth a total of at least 150 points (including two mandatory actions and two of six priority actions), and submit the appropriate documentation as evidence that the Sustainable Maryland Certified requirements have been satisfied.

Highlights of each municipality's sustainability efforts include:

Town of Berwyn Heights

Berwyn HeightsThe Berwyn Heights Green Team implemented a number of efforts to engage with Town residents. The Green Team established a regular page called the GreenBee in the Berwyn Heights Bulletin, which includes information such as gardening tips, information about local farmers' markets, energy efficiency recommendations and other suggestions for ways that residents could implement sustainable practices. Its Facebook page publicizes events and other information related to sustainable and environmentally-friendly actions for residents to consider. The Green Team has also helped in expanding the local school gardens, including establishing a composting system, creating a pollinator garden and creating a vegetable garden. The Town conducted energy audits on the Town Center, Senior Center, and Public Works building, which identified ways to save energy and save tax dollars. At a "Stormwater Solutions: Rain Barrels and More!" workshop, residents learned about rain barrel rebates, how to install a rain barrel, and where rain barrels were already installed in the local community. A Community Garden launched in 2014, which  includes a plot dedicated to a local food bank, provides residents the opportunity to both grow fresh food and connect with neighbors, and. A storm drain-marking project held in partnership with Berwyn Heights Elementary School alerted residents to the importance of protecting water quality in the local watershed.  The Town's Tree City USA designation affirms its commitment to maintaining a healthy urban tree canopy, providing numerous benefits including clean air, clean water, and reducing temperatures in the summer.
 
"We take great pride in that Berwyn Heights' effort to achieve Sustainable Maryland certification was a true community effort that involved citizen volunteers, town staff, and community stakeholders," said Berwyn Heights Mayor Cheye Calvo. "Although the effort initially focused on getting the points required to become certified, it quickly took on a life of its own.  By rallying the community behind a shared goal and putting in place the infrastructure to promote green policies and practices, Sustainable Maryland will continue to yield meaningful benefits to the Town of Berwyn Heights and the environment well beyond this important milestone."

Town of Cheverly

CheverlyA strong base of volunteerism pervades the efforts of the Town of Cheverly's application this year. A Green Home and Garden Tour, organized by Cheverly Conservation Alliance, made up of Progressive Cheverly, the Cheverly Garden Club, and the Friends of Lower Beaverdam Creek, offers residents and visitors alike inspiration for a variety of ways to save energy and protect natural resources at the household scale. The pesticide-free Cheverly Vegetable Gardens are managed by volunteer residents who are Maryland Master Gardeners, and includes plots dedicated to producing food for two local food banks. The Cheverly Composting Program distributed low-cost compost bins to 10% of Cheverly residents in its first year, and has a 2-year goal of having about 25% of Cheverly households composting, providing significant savings on landfill tipping fees. Finally, a beacon of Cheverly's sustainability efforts can been observed in the form of a 60-foot high wind turbine, which generates power for the Cheverly Public Works building, and stands a testament to this community's commitment to a sustainable future for future generations.

"The town of Cheverly is honored to receive the Sustainable Maryland Certification award," said Dave Kneipp, Chair of Cheverly's Green Team. "This award recognizes the hard work on behalf of the town staff, various community organizations, and numerous individuals who make Cheverly a green community and a great place to live. Cheverly is proud to be a leader in the sustainable movement and ensuring a rich environment for future generations."

City of Greenbelt

GreenbeltSustainability is embedded in the history of the City of Greenbelt, a planned community designed during the Great Depression. It's unique cooperative structure, mixed-use town center, variety of housing types, and extensive grade-separated pedestrian pathways all contribute to a strong network of civic engagement and progressive endeavors.  The Greenbelt Advisory Committee on Environmental Sustainability (Green ACES) provides leadership for the community's efforts to go green. The Greenbelt Forest Preserve has protected 225 acres of woodlands for the enjoyment of residents, and the preservation of habitat and water quality within the City. The Greenbelt Community Garden Club manages three community gardens, which foster healthy food and social interaction. Fresh food is also available at the City's farmers market. A recently adopted Sustainability Plan offers a roadmap for local efforts to save energy, promote alternative transportation, reduce waste, and protect natural resources. The new Public Works building incorporates a variety of green features, including energy-efficient lighting, water conservation measures, and a high-efficiency geothermal heating system. And a variety of events and programs, including composting workshops, tree plantings, solar home tours, and the annual Green Man Festival all serve to promote sustainability to Greenbelt residents on regular basis.

"Greenbelt is proud to receive the Sustainable Maryland Certification," said Greenbelt Mayor Emmett V. Jordan. "There is a legacy of balance between the environmental, economic and social objectives that have shaped this community over time.  This certification reinforces the partnerships between residents, local civic/business organizations, and the city administration to improve our current practices and to strive for a more sustainable future."

Town of Riverdale Park

Riverdale ParkProgressive planning and community engagement were standouts in the Town of Riverdale Park's Sustainable Maryland application. Foremost amongst these efforts was the Town's commitment to making the new Riverdale Park Station as sustainable as possible. Town Council put several conditions on the property's zoning that included stormwater management, tree conservation, green space and walkability. Riverdale Park Station will be the first "LEED for Neighborhood Development" project in the Prince George's County. Another planning effort focused around Riverdale Park's Town Center, which features a MARC train station and a popular farmers market, but also long-vacant properties. University of Maryland - University College students, in conjunction with the Sustainability Committee, produced a "Revitalizing Riverdale Park's Town Center" report that surveyed residents and assessed current land uses. This report led to Developers Open House and design competition, which together with the report, is expected to yield a plan for re-activating multiple existing buildings within the long-vacant Town Center. Other planning efforts included a Green Design Workshop held at Town Hall, which engaged the community to express its needs and wants for a new municipal building. Feedback from the community will lead to a LEED certified development. Finally, in their efforts to engage the community, Riverdale Park's Sustainability Committee has created a website where residents can find out about RPSC, farmers market, tips for being green, planning and development in their backyard, and links to social media about other sustainable happenings.
 
"Riverdale Park is honored to be recognized for our efforts to leading Maryland's sustainable future," said Ashley Ebbeler, Chair of the Riverdale Park Sustainability Committee. "With the help of Sustainable Maryland Certified our Sustainability Committee worked along side residents, town staff and elected officials to consider the environment in all facets of municipal governance from policy creation to land use development. We are excited to continue to pursue a green future in way we can!"

Town of University Park

University ParkInnovative initiatives in the areas of energy efficiency, renewable energy, and waste reduction stand out in the Town of University Park's 2014 Sustainable Maryland application. The nationally recognized STEP-UP (Small Town Energy Program- University Park) program fostered a remarkable level of engagement amongst residents, with 25% of households conducting an Energy Star Home Performance assessment and 16% of households investing in incentive-assisted energy efficiency upgrades, resulting in a 13% reduction in energy usage. The University Park Elementary School became the first Prince George's County school to host a rooftop solar array, with the Town and the School District sharing in a revenue stream from the sale of electricity and renewable energy tax credits. On the waste reduction front, a municipally-run kitchen waste compost program diverts tons of food scraps from the municipal waste stream, saving on landfill tipping fees and creating valuable organic matter for use in local gardens. With these innovative initiatives, along with many others, including it's long-standing Tree City USA designation, back-yard mosquito control program, and annual stream cleanups, the Town of University Park has clearly demonstrated its leadership in municipal sustainability in Maryland.
 
"From protecting our stream and urban tree canopy to our solar-powered town hall, to stepping up to make our homes more energy efficient, we have shown that sustainability is a core principle in University Park," said Sarah Moseley, University Park Green Team Co-Chair. "Now we are proud to be recognized for that work as a Sustainable Maryland Certified community.  Our town has worked together for years, meaning 'It's Easy Being Green in University Park' ."
 
The complete list of municipalities to achieve Sustainable Maryland Certified status this year includes:

  • Town of Bel Air (first municipality certified in Harford County)
  • Town of Berwyn Heights (Prince George's County)
  • Town of Boonsboro (first municipality certified in Washington County)
  • Town of Chesapeake Beach (first municipality certified in Calvert County)
  • Town of Cheverly (Prince George's County)
  • City of Greenbelt (Prince George's County)
  • Town of Snow Hill (Worcester County)
  • City of Takoma Park (Montgomery County)
  • Town of Riverdale Park (Prince George's County)
  • Town of University Park (Prince George's County)

According to Mike Hunninghake, program manager for Sustainable Maryland, "These awards are a testament to the passion and dedication of volunteers, municipal staff and elected officials to lighten our collective imprint on the Earth, restore the natural world, and plan together to create a better tomorrow for our children and their children."

UMD Alumna Awarded 2014 "Genius Grant"

September 18, 2014

COLLEGE PARK, Md. – The MacArthur Foundation has named its 2014 class of MacArthur Fellows, including University of Maryland alumna Pamela O. Long, a historian of science and technology.  Long was recognized for her work in deepening our understanding of the historical roots of empirical science.

The MacArthur Fellows Program awards unrestricted fellowships to talented individuals who have shown extraordinary originality and dedication in their creative pursuits and a marked capacity for self-direction. There are three criteria for selection of Fellows: exceptional creativity, promise for important future advances based on a track record of significant accomplishment, and potential for the fellowship to facilitate subsequent creative work. Each fellow receives a no-strings-attached stipend of $625,000 over five years.

Pamela O. Long is an independent historian of science and technology who is rewriting the history of science, demonstrating how technologies and crafts are deeply enmeshed in the broader cultural fabric. Through meticulous analysis of textual, visual, antiquarian, and archival materials from across Europe, Long investigates how literacy, language, authorship, trade secrecy, and patronage regulated the interactions of scholars, artisans, architects, and engineers of the early modern period.

“Those who think creativity is dying should examine the life’s work of these extraordinary innovators who work in diverse fields and in different ways to improve our lives and better our world,” said Cecilia Conrad, Vice President, MacArthur Fellows Program. “Together, they expand our view of what is possible, and they inspire us to apply our own talents and imagination.”

Long received a B.A. (1965), M.A. (1969), and Ph.D. (1979) from the University of Maryland. She has held a series of fellowships and visiting positions at prestigious institutions, including Princeton University, the Getty Research Institute, the American Academy in Rome, the Folger Shakespeare Library in Washington, D.C., and the National Humanities Center.

Tigers, Pandas & People: A Recipe for Conservation Insights

September 18, 2014
Contacts: 

Melissa Andreychek 410-919-4990

A motion-detecting camera trap captures the image of a tiger in Chitwan National Park, Nepal. Credit: Neil Carter, SESYNCCOLLEGE PARK, Md. - A new study by Neil Carter, a University of Maryland research associate and postdoctoral fellow at the National Socio-Environmental Synthesis Center (SESYNC) at UMD, shows that we can better understand how nature and humans are interlinked by comparing apples to oranges.

Or, more accurately, tigers to pandas.

The study, published in Ecology and Society, compares Chitwan National Park in Nepal, which shelters approximately 125 wild endangered Bengal tigers, and Wolong Nature Reserve in southwestern China, home to an estimated 154 wild endangered giant pandas to reveal that useful conservation insights can be found in unlikely places. The authors show that applying the same methodology to these vastly different environs can uncover shared patterns and common insights.

"For people interested in wildlife research and conservation, there's an increasing awareness of the need to go beyond biology and ecology, and to incorporate insights from various other disciplines, like social psychology and economics," said Carter. "We know it's important, and now we're saying, 'here's a good way to do it.' The idea is: you can use a common framework to understand the fundamental ways people and wildlife interact, despite the differences in social and economic settings."

On the surface, pandas and tigers seem to have different impacts. Pandas eat bamboo. Tigers sometimes eat livestock, and, rarely, even eat people. Although both located in Asia, Chitwan and Wolong are also characterized by important differences in biophysical environment: for example, the topography in Wolong is more rugged, while Chitwan lies at relatively low elevations.

Neil CarterIn spite of these differences, both biodiversity hotspots share deep, complex links with the humans that depend upon their rich but finite natural resources. Approximately 5,000 residents live within Wolong, and conservation policies represent a constant struggle to balance residents' need to secure a livelihood with the pandas' full reliance on vast access to bamboo. Chitwan has no residents, but the people living adjacent to its borders venture inside to harvest its resources. The park borders are porous both ways: tigers can venture out to attack livestock and can also pose a threat to the people who walk through the woods.

Economic costs of living near wildlife are likewise widespread. Those closest to panda and tiger habitat, in particular, have incurred high costs from conservation efforts, including restrictions on certain agricultural activities, fuelwood collection, timber harvesting, and hunting.

Both animals bring advantages, too—which range from the tangible, like attracting tourists, to matters of the spiritual and national pride.

"People and wildlife are tightly coupled human and natural systems," said Jianguo "Jack" Liu, Rachel Carson Chair in Sustainability at Michigan State University and co-author of the study. "Over many years, interdisciplinary studies on pandas, tigers, and the people who live amongst them are revealing some universal truths about conservation around the globe."

At the core of the study's framework is an understanding of how conservation efforts directly affect wildlife and people, because impacts on local residents can in turn significantly affect wildlife. The authors note that how policy is executed, how people living in and around the reserves behave, and common telecoupling processes—e.g., socioeconomic and environmental interactions over distances, such as tourism and migration—all loom large across many diverse flagship nature reserves. Giving scientists a framework to compare these similar dynamics leads to broad insights about human–wildlife interactions that can facilitate knowledge exchange and inform wildlife conservation policies across and between locations.

"Much of what we learn from one site trickles to other sites," Carter said. "For instance, we've seen that how much responsibility local people have to monitor and manage a forest track is significant. Nepal took the lead in experimenting with ways to have people manage their forest. Now that's being tried in other places. You won't get one answer. You get different points of view—and that's important."

In addition to Carter and Liu, the paper's co-authors include Andrés Viña, assistant professor at Michigan State University; Vanessa Hull, doctoral student at Michigan State University; William McConnell, associate professor at Michigan State University; William Axinn, professor at University of Michigan; and Dirgha Ghimire, associate professor at University of Michigan.

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