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Friday, October 24, 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

UMD Statement on Viral Meningitis

October 23, 2014

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

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

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

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

Blind Cave Fish May Provide Insight on Human Health Issues

October 23, 2014

Abby Robinson 301-405-5845

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

UMD Researchers Formulate Cyber Protection for Supply Chains

October 22, 2014

Sandor Boyson 301-405-2205
Greg Muraski 301-892-0973

COLLEGE PARK, Md.  - The supply chain is ground zero for several recent cyber breaches. Hackers, for example, prey on vendors that have remote access to a larger company's global IT systems, software and networks. In the 2013 Target breach, the attacker infiltrated a vulnerable link: a refrigeration system supplier connected to the retailer's IT system. A counter-measure, via a user-ready online portal, has been developed by researchers in the Supply Chain Management Center at the University of Maryland's Robert H. Smith School of Business.

Supply chainThe portal is based on a new management science called "cyber supply chain risk management." It combines conventionally-separate disciplines cybersecurity, enterprise risk management and supply chain management. Funded by the National Institute of Standards and Technology, the UMD researchers developed the formula, in part, after surveying 200 different-sized companies in various industries.

"We found that, collectively, the cyber supply chain is fragmented and stovepiped, and companies are ill-prepared to sense and respond to risks in real time," said research professor and center co-director Sandor Boyson, who collaborated on the study and portal design with faculty-colleague/center co-director Thomas Corsi, research fellow Hart Rossman and UMD-Smith CIO Holly Mann. "Just half of our subjects used an executive advisory committee such as a risk board to govern their IT-system risks."

The findings are published as "Cyber supply chain risk management: Revolutionizing the strategic control of critical IT systems" in the peer-reviewed industrial engineering journal Technovation. The researchers leveraged the study into the portal. Companies can log on, cost-free, at and track developing threats, plus map their IT supply chains and anonymously measure themselves against industry peers and NIST standards.

The benchmarking covers operations and allocating for cyber insurance via separate functions:

  • A self-evaluation exercise shows a company's structure for cyber protecting the supply chain. For example, users reply to: "To what degree is your CIO and-or IT shop isolated from, or collaborative with, your supply chain specialists who actually procure the hardware and software for your IT system?"
  • A special formula measures the risk levels of each company asset. The Common Vulnerability Scoring System – standard for analyzing software systems – is adapted to analyze the entire range of assets connected to the cyber supply chain.
  • Firms can compare corporate disclosures, exposures and vulnerabilities to those of peer companies via an insurance-risk analysis framework provided by The Willis Group. The global insurance broker's database of aggregated SEC-reported cyber attacks -- mandated for public companies – supports this tool.

The portal is scalable. About 150 various-sized companies have completed at least one or more of the aforementioned functions. Fifteen of those firms completed all three assessments and represent industries including high-tech aerospace manufacturing, telecommunication, real estate, and medical and professional services.

“The portal helps individual organizations understand their risk and how they can better manage it. This bolsters the resilience and security posture of the entire ecosystem of the U.S. economy," said Jon Boyens, senior advisor for information security in NIST's computer security division. "While this ecosystem has evolved to provide a set of highly refined, cost-effective, reusable products and services that support the U.S. economy, it has also increased opportunities for adversaries and made it increasingly difficult for organizations to understand their risks."

The study is entering a fifth phase focused on federal agency-private contractor supply chains. The UMD-Smith researchers subsequently will update the portal and train managers of participating agencies and contractors to efficiently and effectively use the separate functions.

University Sustainability Culture Continues to Grow

October 22, 2014

Andrew Muir 301-405-7068

Sustainable UMDCOLLEGE PARK, Md. – The University of Maryland's sustainability culture continues to grow according to the annual Campus Sustainability Progress Report recently released by the Office of Sustainability.

UMD measures and publicly reports on its sustainability performance annually. Highlights from the 2014 report include:

  • The university achieved an 18 percent reduction in carbon emissions since 2005.
  • The campus population displayed strong interest in locally sourced food through increased spending at the Green Tidings Food Truck and the Farmers Market at Maryland.
  • Water bottle filling stations installed across campus helped Terps reduce waste by filling the equivalent of 623,000 plastic water bottles.
  • Campus bicycle registration and Shuttle-UM ridership increased.
  • The university achieved a 78 percent recycling rate through efforts to divert waste from landfills by recycling and composting.

"The university continues to make great strides toward its sustainability goals and launched several excellent initiatives last year," said Scott Lupin, director of the Office of Sustainability. "The campus community should be proud of its accomplishments and the increasing number of people who are engaged in this effort. As we look ahead, we must continue to collaborate and innovate if we are to further reduce our environmental footprint."

Challenges still lie ahead as the university continues their efforts to reach carbon neutrality by 2050. Despite the notable achievements this past year in university sustainability, carbon emissions increased slightly. One particular area of concern is increased university commuter travel, which includes air travel, faculty and staff parking, and the university's reliance on diesel fuel and gasoline for its campus fleet and shuttle buses. 

The university's next Climate Action Plan goal of reducing carbon emissions by 25 percent by 2015 is approaching, and groups around campus are increasing their efforts to reduce carbon.

"The Sustainability Progress Report serves as a testament to how far we've come in terms of sustainability on campus," says Ori Gutin, director of the Student Government Association's Sustainability Committee. "It also reminds us of how much work we still have to do moving forward to meet our aggressive goals.  We need to continue in this upward direction and greatly expand upon the change we've already created."

In addition to highlighting campus actions and achievements, the Progress Report provides the University Sustainability Council and the campus community with data that allows for future planning around sustainability issues.

New Funding to Help UMD Improve STEM Teaching

October 21, 2014

Niambi Wilder Winter 301-405-0763

UM-CIRTL at the University of Maryland Receives $130,000 for Expansion
Great Lakes Grant Supports Efforts to Improve STEM Graduation Rates Nationwide

COLLEGE PARK, Md. — Science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) fields increasingly drive our nation's innovation and competiveness, and more STEM-educated professionals are needed to fill in-demand, well-paying jobs. Yet, nationally, fewer than 40 percent of students who enter college intending to major in a STEM field complete a STEM degree—if they graduate at all.

To help reduce troubling attrition rates in STEM disciplines, particularly among disadvantaged students, the Center for the Integration of Research, Teaching, and Learning (CIRTL) is preparing the nation's future STEM faculty to be both great researchers and great teachers. The University of Maryland is part of a network of 22 major research universities across 16 states in which STEM graduate students are learning teaching and mentoring techniques proven to help undergraduate students from all backgrounds stay with their STEM majors and complete their degrees. CIRTL Network universities currently graduate about 20 percent of the country's new STEM faculty each year.

As part of the CIRTL Network, the University of Maryland will receive funding from Great Lakes Higher Education Guaranty Corporation. Great Lakes has committed a total $3.2 million to CIRTL, from fall 2014 through spring 2017. Combined with a separate grant CIRTL received from the National Science Foundation (NSF), this Great Lakes grant provides the resources necessary to expand programming at each university, and support cross-network sharing of best practices in future faculty development.

The University of Maryland's local CIRTL learning community, UM-CIRTL, is a collaboration between the Graduate School and the Teaching and Learning Transformation Center (TLTC). UM-CIRTL will expand existing programming for graduate students and post-doctoral fellows and develop a series of online modules around teaching and learning to support the development of future higher education instructors according to the CIRTL pillars. By the second year, UM-CIRTL plans to have 100 CIRTL Associates and 20 CIRTL Practitioners.

"With Great Lakes funding, UM-CIRTL can significantly expand the reach of our teaching and learning programming for future faculty, with stronger, larger programs and more learning communities to meet the needs of our graduate students and postdocs," said Dr. Stephen M. Roth, TLTC's director of outreach and instructional innovation.

"Together with the CIRTL Network and NSF, we are rising to the national challenge to help more students stay enrolled in their programs, graduate with STEM degrees, and transition to rewarding careers," said Richard D. George, president and chief executive officer of Great Lakes. "We expect to truly shape the future of STEM education for thousands of future faculty, and an entire generation of undergraduate students."

UMD iSchool Fellows to Help Solve Digital Curation Problems at NAL

October 17, 2014

Mary Carroll-Mason, 301-405-1260

College Park, MD -- A new and innovative fellowship program between the University of Maryland's College of Information Studies, Maryland's iSchool, and U.S. Department of Agriculture's National Agricultural Library is providing iSchool students with invaluable experience in the burgeoning digital curation field. This 2014 project features iSchool assistant professor Ricky Punzalan and first-ever fellows, master of library science (MLS) students Erin Antognoli and Christian James, working collaboratively to help NAL develop various strategies to solve the library’s digital curation concerns.

In 2013, the iSchool established the Fellowship in Digital Curation at the National Agricultural Library (NAL) to provide an opportunity for students to engage in research and practice towards developing and implementing policies, strategies, and work plans to solve real-world digital curation problems. Fellows are given hands on experience and work closely with NAL staff as well as iSchool faculty to design and implement digital curation projects. NAL provides extensive infrastructure, staff expertise, collections and programs. In this setting, fellows are given a unique opportunity to design and implement projects.

As a fellow, Antognoli has been creating policy for the library’s newly formed aerial imagery collection. By collaborating with different divisions within the NAL as well as image submitters outside of NAL, she has established a strategic plan that can be used in other visual collections and digitization projects.  “My experience working as a NAL Digital Curation Fellow has been incredible. The fellowship provides a longer, more in-depth experience than a traditional internship,” she said, “I feel like I will be much better prepared to enter the digital curation field when I graduate as a result of this fellowship.”

James has been developing a Historical Dietary Guidance Digital Collection. His work is focused on establishing guidelines for selection and acquisition of content for digitization. “At the National Agricultural Library I have applied many of the concepts and skills that I picked up in the MLS core curriculum and the digital curation specialization, including reference, accessibility, cataloging, policy writing and more,” he said, “I have been honored to help contribute to the development of the National Agricultural Library Digital Collections and enhance public access to these valuable resources.”

Digital Curation Fellows

Fellowship advisor, Dr. Ricky Punzalan has been thrilled with the success of the program so far. “The fellowship is an excellent way for the iSchool to collaborate with a national institution,” he said, “this project benefits not only the faculty and the partner institution, but more importantly, the students. I think the fellows appreciate the opportunity to do collaborative research and create strategies to solve real-world institutional challenges.”

With a unique partnership with NAL, the Fellowship in Digital Curation is a prime example of a fruitful collaborative partnership between a repository with extensive digital collections and an academic program with a focus in digital curation. The iSchool is excited to continue with this partnership and offer students and NAL staff the opportunity for mutually beneficial learning and growth.

About Maryland’s iSchool

The College of Information Studies, Maryland's iSchool, empowers people, organizations and society to use information effectively through its research and graduate and professional programs. Maryland's iSchool enables students and faculty to create new ways for people to connect with information that will transform society and is ideally located in the information capital of the world- the Washington DC metro region. The iSchool is transforming itself as well, from a small college with a strong foundation in library and information studies programs to a fast-growing and groundbreaking center of expertise that will help people manage the information explosion from childhood to adulthood.

For more information, visit


Associate Vice President of Enrollment Management Named at UMD

October 16, 2014

Barbara Ann GillCOLLEGE PARK, Md. – Provost Mary Ann Rankin appointed Barbara Ann Gill to a newly created position, Associate Vice President of Enrollment Management. After serving as the Director of Undergraduate Admissions and the Assistant Vice President for Undergraduate Admissions and Enrollment Planning for more than 10 years, Gill now oversees additional areas that include student financial aid and enrollment operations.

"This intentional consolidation of resources makes sense and it positions the university to more strategically support student recruitment and success. Many of our peer institutions, including those in the Big 10, have adopted Enrollment Management structures. We took this model and enhanced it to create efficiencies across the area and to support improved services to prospective and current students," adds Provost Rankin after the announcement. 
Effective immediately, Gill leads four major units within Enrollment Management – Undergraduate Admissions, Student Financial Aid, Strategic Planning and Communications, and Enrollment Operations. The four directors who will oversee these units are, Shannon Gundy (Undergraduate Admissions), Monique Boyd (Student Financial Aid), Britt Reynolds (Strategic Planning and Communications) and Dawit Lemma (Enrollment Operations).
"Provost Rankin and I recognize the importance of each of these units and know how synergies can be created and efficiencies enhanced under a single, focused structure," said Gill, who is an alumna, and has been at the university since 1981.

President Wallace D. Loh's Fall 2014 Video Message

October 16, 2014

President Loh shares the exciting things happening this fall at UMD. From the celebration of the silver anniversary of our very own Alumni Association to fantastic new academic buildings that will usher in an era of innovation here at UMD, there is excitement all across campus. Advances in research and new directions in our robust arts community are also detailed in the video.

UMD Launches Entrepreneurship Specialization through Coursera

October 16, 2014

Alana Carchedi 301-405-0235

Series of Courses Will Help Students Understand How Innovation Plays a Role in Their Business Idea

COLLEGE PARK, Md. – The University of Maryland is launching a new specialization through Coursera titled Entrepreneurship: Launching an Innovative Business. The specialization – a targeted sequence of massive open online courses (MOOCs) designed to build high-demand skills and subject matter expertise – is UMD's third specialization offered through Coursera.

“UMD has found tremendous value in our partnership with Coursera to create MOOCs. They not only help the world see our excellence—with over 1.2 million registered students—but the course material is reused to improve upon our on-campus courses as well," says Ben Bederson, the associate provost of learning initiatives. "In addition, former MOOC students often register for our on-campus programs, creating a win-win situation for the university, which is why we have created our third specialization – among the most of any campus.”

Students in the specialization will understand how innovation plays a role in their business idea and will develop a well-thought out, compelling business pitch. The specialization's courses include:

Through these courses, students will generate an innovative new venture concept or enhance their existing concepts; build a comprehensive, customer-validated business model; and create an investor pitch. Top students in the capstone course will have an opportunity to pitch investors with their venture opportunity.

The specialization will be led by Dr. James V. Green, Director of Entrepreneurship Education for UMD's Maryland Technology Enterprise Institute (Mtech). Courses will also be taught by Mtech technology entrepreneurship faculty Dr. Thomas J. Mierzwa and Michael R. Pratt.

"The Entrepreneurship Specialization helps students develop their entrepreneurial mindset and dives into competitive strategies and new venture financing," says Green. "Our series helps students initiate and build the first stages of a new venture or validate and enhance an existing business."

This new specialization builds on UMD's most popular entrepreneurship MOOC, Developing Innovative Ideas for New Companies, which has more than 500,000 cumulative worldwide enrollments. The university also offers specializations in mobile cloud computing with Android and cybersecurity, as well as standalone courses in terrorism, genomics, women and the civil rights movement, and quantum physics

To see UMD's full Coursera offerings, visit


October 23
UMD joins the University of Wisconsin-Madison in leading a new research mentor and mentee training initiative funded by... Read
October 23
Statement from Dr. David McBride, Director of the University of Maryland Health Center.
October 23
New genetic analysis of blind cave fish could aid research on retinal disease, metabolic disturbance and sleep... Read
October 22
UMD researchers have developed an online portal to help companies track developing threats, map their IT supply chains... Read