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UMD Physics Professor Confirmed as Head of ARPA-E

December 10, 2014
Contacts: 

Abby Robinson 301-405-5845

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

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

December 9, 2014
Contacts: 

Abby Robinson 301-405-5845

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

UMD to Create Region's First Online Stormwater Training Center

December 4, 2014
Contacts: 

Maggie Haslam 202-258-8946

MOST Center funded by a five-year grant from the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation

COLLEGE PARK, Md. — The University of Maryland's Environmental Finance Center (EFC) begins work this month on the region's first Municipal Online Stormwater Training (MOST) Center, a web-based resource to help municipalities within the Chesapeake Bay Watershed access and implement innovative stormwater management techniques to improve water quality in the Bay. The project was made possible by a grant from the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation (NFWF), who will provide $350,000 a year for the next five years to launch and operate the center. Developed in partnership with the Low Impact Development Center (LIDC), the MOST Center will be completely virtual; it is expected to become the most wide-reaching and comprehensive stormwater initiative to date, eliminating the accessibility issues, budget restraints, and lack of expertise that often keep communities from successfully implementing effective stormwater management.

Chesapeake Bay Bridge-Tunnel, Virginia Beach Area. Photo credit: Ole Bendik Kvisberg"Communities in the Chesapeake Bay are faced with the challenges of limited capacity and very few resources available to help them meet their stormwater management needs and obligations," explains Joanne Throwe, director of the Environmental Finance Center. "Many of these communities have provided direct feedback, saying that they need an online one-stop resource that provides specific municipal stormwater program technical and management information and training. We are very excited to get this program off the ground."

The comprehensive program, which will be provided at no cost to municipalities, will offer the necessary skills to create and implement effective stormwater projects, from modernizing infrastructure to developing localized leadership teams. At the heart of the program, communities will gain the "fundamental building blocks" of storm water programs, which include leveraging existing resources, developing innovative strategies and creating new approaches to financing. Modeled after the Massive Open Online Course Model catching fire at universities across the country, the MOST Center will offer assistance and training to communities throughout the watershed, regardless of size, budget or accessibility. According to Throwe, the MOST Center will implement a number of resources in an effort to build the best comprehensive training program possible. This includes sharing relevant case studies, as well as technical and financial information from national programs and key organizations, such as the American Public Works Association, the American Planning Association, the American Society of Civil Engineers and The Water Environment Federation. Training will also be strengthened by input and expertise from many local Chesapeake Bay organizations.

Understanding that each community is unique and will be at different stages of knowledge and implementation, the MOST Center will offer a series of tools to gauge current knowledge and allow them to participate at the appropriate level, then advance participants as training progresses. A sliding scale of training modules will be developed to address a variety of levels of expertise, from the most basic to more advanced skill sets. This flexibility will eliminate the technical intimidation factor for audiences who may not have prior experience or expertise with stormwater management, while also providing complex and comprehensive information for the more seasoned trade professionals. The center will offer municipalities a variety of incentives for participation and completion, including continuing education hours, professional development hours, certificates of completion and recognition for projects.

The EFC is well versed in providing stormwater assistance to municipalities in the mid-Atlantic region. Over the past several years, they have assisted seventeen communities in developing stormwater policy and procedures as part of their Stormwater Financing and Outreach Unit, with dedicated stormwater revenue sources in Berlin, Oxford and most recently the City of Salisbury, Maryland. Currently, the EFC has water resource related projects in 12 locations throughout the Chesapeake Bay Watershed and has recently expanded their reach to include a satellite office in California.

Over the next year, the EFC and LIDC will create the technical and contextual framework and foundation for the training program, tapping area leaders and organizations for input and feedback. The EFC also plans to use the first year to develop a network of relationships with professional, institutional and government stakeholders, having them act as advisors, and to partner in content creation and training. The EFC anticipates the new virtual online center will go live in early 2016, with the objective of becoming self-sustaining by the end of the project period.

"Stormwater is by far one of the biggest threats to the health of the Bay," says Throwe. "Arming communities with the tools to diminish their impact on bay resources will have lasting implications for the economic, social and environmental well-being of the state."
 
The University of Maryland's EFC is the largest Environmental Finance Center in the country, managing and implementing a number of environmentally minded projects throughout the mid-Atlantic Region. The Municipal Online Stormwater Training Center was one of 13 projects officially announced this past September as part of the Chesapeake Bay Stewardship Fund. To learn more about the MOST Center and other efforts by the EFC, visit the EFC's website at www.efc.umd.edu.

President Loh to Host First-Ever Teleconference Town Hall

December 3, 2014
Contacts: 

Brian Ullmann, 301-314-6650, ullmann@umd.edu

Large scale teleconference for Baltimore-area alums highlights Fearless Ideas regional campaign

COLLEGE PARK, Md. – President Wallace D. Loh will host a series of large-scale teleconferences with University of Maryland alumni, starting Wednesday, December 3.  The teleconference will use technology that will allow President Loh to take questions directly from nearly 40,000 Baltimore-area alumni. 

“Our graduates have played a critical role in the ascendency of our great University and they will continue to play a crucial role in our continued success,” said President Loh.  “I look forward to having these open conversations with our alumni.”

Future teleconferences will be held for alumni in California, New York and Florida, part of a comprehensive regional campaign to build engagement across the country.  The regional plan, developed by the Division of University Relations, also features new events and expanded outreach by the Alumni Association and a series of signature Fearless Ideas events in Baltimore, South Florida, Los Angeles and New York City.

“Connecting with our alumni has always been our top priority,” said Peter Weiler, Vice President of University Relations.  “The large teleconferences with President Loh, new Alumni Association activity and signature events will help us share the wonderful things happening at the University of Maryland.”

A series of signature events highlight the regional plan.  Scheduled for January 24 in Baltimore, January 31 in Ft. Lauderdale and March 7 in Los Angeles, the Fearless Ideas events will feature informative and engaging presentations by top UMD faculty including Hasan Elahi, Jennifer Golbeck, Michael Kaiser, Sylvester “Jim” Gates, and Dana Priest.

UMD Scientists Strive for more Sustainable Strawberry Fields

December 1, 2014
Contacts: 

Sara Gavin, (301) 405-9235

COLLEGE PARK, MD – Researchers with the University of Maryland’s College of Agriculture and Natural Resources are helping to design the strawberry field of the future – one that conserves water, utilizes less fertilizer, has enhanced frost protection and is more cost-efficient, all while producing the sweetest berries possible.

The UMD project is part of the National Strawberry Sustainability Initiative funded by a grant from the Walmart Foundation and administered by the University of Arkansas Center for Agricultural and Rural Sustainability. More than a dozen land-grant colleges and universities across the country are involved with the initiative.

Led by Professor John Lea-Cox, Ph.D., from the Department of Plant Science and Landscape Architecture (PSLA), the UMD research team is implementing wireless sensor networks in strawberry fields at three locations in Maryland. These advanced sensor networks consist of radio nodes with sensors placed in the soil, in the plant canopy, and weather stations, to collect precise data on environmental conditions, soil moisture and temperature and fertilizer concentration.

“Water scarcity due to drought is a serious problem affecting production in the major strawberry growing regions of the country,” said Lea-Cox. “Here in the mid-Atlantic region specifically, current environmental regulations limit the amount of agrochemicals like pesticides and fertilizers that can be applied to strawberry farms. That’s why farmers need specific information about their practices to address these concerns, if sustainable strawberry production is to be achieved.”

Using wireless sensor networks, farmers can access information from their fields in real-time using a computer, smart phone, tablet or any other device connected to the internet. They can also set up alerts to be sent via text message or email letting them know when an event occurs such as when soil moisture drops below a specific target, or when plants are vulnerable to frost – a major economic concern in the strawberry industry.

John Lea-Cox

Lea-Cox and colleagues have been working with these wireless sensor networks in nursery and greenhouse productions for a number of years, helping growers streamline operations and decrease costs. They are also testing a new control node that automatically irrigates based on soil moisture – technology that has saved between 50 and 70% of water applications compared to grower practices – developed as part of the USDA-MINDS project.

“We wanted to test these systems in a high-value fruit crop – and strawberries really are the perfect fit,” said Lea-Cox. “We believe we can make a tre

mendous difference for strawberry producers in terms of conserving resources, controlling costs and improving overall efficiency.”

The research team from Maryland includes Erik Lichtenberg, Ph.D., from the Department of Agricultural and Resource Economics, who will study the potential economic benefits for strawberry farmers in utilizing wireless sensor networks. John Majsztrik, Ph.D., a faculty research associate from the PSLA Department and Bruk Belayneh, a PSLA Ph.D. student, are also part of UMD’s strawberry research team.

Field tests will be conducted at Butler’s Orchard in Germantown, Md., Shlagel Farms in Waldorf, Md. and at the university’s Wye Research and Education Center located in Queenstown, Md. For more information and to follow the project’s progress, visit www.sensingberries.net.

 

UMD, HCC to Train Marylanders for Mobile Health App Building, Strategy

November 25, 2014
Contacts: 

Kenyon Crowley 919-649-2279
Greg Muraski 301-405-5283

COLLEGE PARK, Md. – Maryland students and healthcare and information technology professionals have a new opportunity to help their state succeed in the health technology sector. The University of Maryland's Robert H. Smith School of Business Center for Health Information and Decision Systems (CHIDS) is partnering with Howard Community College (HCC) to engage Marylanders in the Baltimore-Washington corridor to develop and sharpen their mobile health (mHealth) technology skills and strategies.

mobile healthThe initiative includes a mix of programs geared towards healthcare workers, information technology specialists, transitioning veterans, healthcare provider and payer executives, and high school students. Instruction will cover design and development of mobile health apps for use in healthcare, clinical management, operations, and population health-related programs. 

The Maryland HealthTech Coalition is helping lead this “Strategic Industry Partnership (SIP)," dubbed the mHealth-focused Health Tech SIP.  Tech Council of Maryland and Columbia-based Vasoptic Medical Inc., also support the initiative funded by the Maryland Department of Labor, Licensing and Regulation under the Employment Advancement Right Now (EARN) Maryland initiative to develop new jobs and capabilities across industry sectors.

"In this case, EARN is targeting healthcare to boost Maryland's industrial competitiveness," says CHIDS Deputy Director Kenyon Crowley. "The use of mobile and other wireless technologies, such as smartphones, patient monitoring devices, and telehealth solutions, provide opportunities to improve patient engagement and population health management, and can extend patient care outside the traditional bounds of the clinic to the home and anywhere you take your mobile device."

UMD and HCC professors, as well as industry experts, will deliver the training through the following programs:

  • "Mobile health design and development" and "Health Information Management and Operations" both target students and professionals with some information technology expertise, including transitioning military personnel.
  • "Digital Health Strategy, Implementation and Operations" will train 10 invited healthcare and insurance executives for developing and implementing innovative new programs that leverage mobile technologies and telemedicine.
  • "Maryland Health Innovation Student Challenge: Empowering Patients and Providers with Creative + Usable Solutions" opens in January to high school students, administered with the MdBIO Foundation. Challenge semifinalists will present their work as part of the Maryland Health IT Conference & Expo Day, on June 4, 2015, representing a culmination of the overall initiative. The Challenge involves teams generating ideas and new applications and tools for improved healthcare, then pitching their prototypes and solutions to judges and peers.

"The training will work to reverse the tendency for healthcare consumers to disengage from taking care of their own health and relying on their doctors to tell them what to do," says CHIDS founding director Ritu Agarwal, Robert H. Smith Dean's Chair of Information Systems and department chair of Decision, Operations and Information Technologies. 

"Mobile technologies can flip that equation," she adds. "A healthcare system that supports engaged consumers who track and maintain information on themselves can lead to a more cost-efficient system where patients are watching out for themselves on a daily basis, and meeting with doctors only when there is a clinical need that requires expert intervention."

Maryland Labor Secretary Leonard Howie says Maryland is poised to capitalize on such a system. "This EARN Maryland-funded, mHealth-focused partnership represents an opportunity to support the growth of an emerging industry in Maryland."

"Technology is quickly transforming the healthcare industry as we know it, and we're at the forefront of bold initiatives that will give Marylanders -- and their healthcare providers -- greater access to healthcare information and services," Howie adds. "The health tech industry has emerged at the intersection of two industry sectors that have long been strengths for Maryland – information technology and health care. This new industry represents a tremendous opportunity for Maryland, and DLLR is extremely excited to be able to support this cutting edge industry through the EARN Maryland Program."

An additional resource for the mHealth initiative is the HealthTech Innovation Sandbox. The recently-launched venture with CHIDS, kloudtrak and Cisco Systems provides for healthcare, medical and life science organizations to test, research, teach and learn various innovative technologies and methodologies. 

"CHIDS is pursuing a range of research, education and innovation activities aimed at achieving the goal of a more effective and usable health system", said Crowley. "Mobile health technology is one important means to achieve this."

Sessions begin February 23rd of 2015 at UMD and HCC. Visit http://ter.ps/mdhtctrain for details.

NBC4’s Eun Yang to Deliver December Commencement Address

November 24, 2014
Contacts: 

Katie Lawson, 301-405-4622

COLLEGE PARK, Md. – The University of Maryland today announced that Eun Yang – anchor of NBC4’s News4 and distinguished UMD alum – will deliver the December Commencement address on December 20. Yang is a household name and familiar face to many, providing early morning risers with an educated and informed start to their day as lead for the No. 1 news program in Washington.

Yang has led the D.C. metro community through several historic events, including the 2009 blizzards where she anchored nearly six hours of coverage, the 2002 Washington-area sniper shootings, inaugurations of Presidents George W. Bush and Barack Obama, and Pope Benedict XVI’s Mass at Nationals Park.

Eun Yang

Yang is a graduate of the University of Maryland’s Philip Merrill College of Journalism, and currently serves as a Board of Visitors member. She is an inspiration and role model to the surrounding Asian community, with such accolades as the Service Award from the Organization of Chinese Americans and the Student Role Model Award from the Korean American Scholarship Foundation. Additional awards include an induction into the Montgomery County Women’s History Archives, and Washingtonian magazine recognition as one of DC’s 100 People to Watch and D.C’s Stars of Local TV News.

“We are excited and honored to welcome Eun Yang, an admired local alumna, to the podium on December 20,” said Linda Clement, Vice President for Student Affairs. “Eun embodies a passion and spirit for the University and for the D.C. area, and through her work has gained a unique perspective on the shifting global landscape, making her a terrific candidate to prepare and inspire our students.”

Yang was born in Seoul, Korea, but relocated to the Washington area where she attended Paint Branch High School. She currently lives Washington D.C. with her husband and three children.

"Green Revolution" Changes Breathing of the Biosphere

November 21, 2014
Contacts: 

Abby Robinson 301-405-5845

Computer model links stronger seasonal oscillations in carbon dioxide to intensive agriculture

COLLEGE PARK, Md. - The intense farming practices of the "Green Revolution" are powerful enough to alter Earth's atmosphere at an ever-increasing rate, boosting the seasonal amplitude in atmospheric carbon dioxide to about 15 percent over the past five decades.

The trend line of atmospheric carbon dioxide readings in Barrow, Alaska from 2003 to 2012 is superimposed on an artist’s rendering of intensive farming in the Corn Belt of the Midwestern United States. Credit: Fang Zhao and Ning Zeng/ShutterstockThat's the surprising finding of a new atmospheric model developed by University of Maryland researchers, which estimates that on average, the amplitude of the seasonal oscillation of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere is increasing at a rate of 0.3 percent every year. A study based on the results of the model, called VEGAS, was published Nov. 20, 2014 in the journal Nature.

"What we are seeing is the effect of the Green Revolution on Earth's metabolism," said UMD Atmospheric and Ocean Science Professor Ning Zeng, the lead developer of VEGAS, a terrestrial carbon cycle model that, for the first time, factors in changes in 20th and 21st century farming practices. "Changes in the way we manage the land can literally alter the breathing of the biosphere."

According to Zeng, this seasonal impact of modern agriculture is carbon neutral in terms of climate change. However, the huge amount of carbon that is alternately sequestered and then released by crop production, points to the potential of agricultural practices that would capture and store carbon long-term to reduce the rise in atmospheric carbon.

One current example, he says, is no-till farming -- which has been steadily increasing in the U.S., but has barely caught on in Europe, Africa or Asia. This practice results in a small part of the carbon stored in the crop biomass being incorporated permanently into the soil over time. If applied world-wide to crop land already in production, no-till farming could potentially pull a significant amount of carbon out of the atmosphere, Zeng says. Another approach to biocarbon sequestration that Zeng has been studying in recent years is the growing, harvesting and long-term storage of trees.

Scientists have known since the 1950s that carbon dioxide levels in the atmosphere hit an annual low during late summer and early fall in the Northern Hemisphere, which has a greater continental landmass than the Southern Hemisphere, and therefore has more plant life. The atmosphere's carbon dioxide level falls in spring and summer as all the hemisphere's plants reach their maximum growth, taking in carbon dioxide and releasing oxygen. In the autumn, when the hemisphere's plants are decomposing and releasing stored carbon, the atmosphere's carbon dioxide levels rapidly increase.

In a set of historic observations taken continuously since 1958 at Hawaii's Mauna Loa Observatory, and later in other places including Barrow, Alaska, researchers have tracked these seasonal peaks and valleys, which clearly show an increase in the atmosphere's overall level of carbon dioxide, Earth's main greenhouse gas. Between 1961 and 2010, the seasonal variation has also become more extreme. Carbon dioxide levels are currently about 6 parts per million higher in the Northern Hemisphere's winter than in summer.

While the forces driving the overall increase in carbon dioxide are well understood, the reasons behind the steepening of the seasonal carbon dioxide cycle are harder to pin down. Because plants breathe in carbon dioxide, higher atmospheric levels of the gas can stimulate plant growth, and this so-called "carbon dioxide fertilization effect" probably plays a role. Climate scientists also point to the warming in the Northern Hemisphere high latitudes that makes plants grow better in cold regions as an important factor. But even taken together, those factors cannot fully account for the trend and spatial patterns toward increasing seasonal change, said Zeng.

Zeng points out that between 1961 and 2010, the amount of land planted with major crops grew by 20 percent, but crop production tripled. The combination of factors known as the Green Revolution—improved irrigation, increased use of manufactured fertilizer, and higher-yield strains of corn, wheat, rice and other crops—must have led not only to increased crop productivity, but also to increases in plants' seasonal growth and decay and the amount of carbon dioxide they release to the atmosphere, he reasoned.

UMD graduate student Fang Zhao and other collaborators worked with Zeng, who developed the first of several versions of the VEGAS model in 2000, to add information on worldwide crop production. The researchers combined country-by-country statistics collected yearly by the United Nations Food and Agricultural Organization (FAO) with climate data and observations of atmospheric carbon dioxide levels from several sites. To ensure that their results did not overstate the Green Revolution's effect, the researchers ran their model using an estimate of worldwide crop production slightly lower than the FAO statistics.

Once the Green Revolution was factored in, VEGAS' results generally tracked the actual carbon dioxide peaks and valleys recorded at Mauna Loa. Between 1975 and 1985, carbon dioxide levels rose faster at Mauna Loa than they did in the model, but this could be due to regional weather patterns, Zeng said.

Other atmospheric models factor in changes in land use, from natural vegetation to cropland, Zeng said, but the VEGAS results described in Nature are the first to track the effect of changes in the intensity of farming methods. There are still many unknowns. For example, the Green Revolution has not affected all parts of the world equally, and there isn't enough detailed information about changing farming practices over the past 50 years to build those detailed variations into the model.

"We dealt with the unknowns by keeping it simple," said Zeng. "My education was mostly in physics, and physicists are brave about making the simplifying assumptions you have to make to reach a general understanding of some important force. Our goal was simply to represent the intensification of agriculture in a model of the carbon cycle, and we have accomplished that."

In addition to Zeng and Zhao, also supporting this research were UMD researchers Eugenia Kalnay, Distinguished University Professor in atmospheric and oceanic science and the Institute for Physical Science and Technology; and Ross Salawitch, a professor with appointments in atmospheric and oceanic science, chemistry and biochemistry, and the Earth System Science Interdisciplinary Center.

University of Maryland Unveils New Vision for Cole Field House

November 21, 2014
Contacts: 

Brian Ullmann 301-314-6650
Zack Bolno 301-314-1482


Under Armour founder and alum Kevin Plank to contribute $25 million to launch nation’s preeminent academic, research and athletic facility

Cole Field HouseCOLLEGE PARK, Md. - The University of Maryland today officially unveiled the vision for a dynamic academic, research and athletic facility in Cole Field House.  The $155 million project will renovate and expand Cole Field House to include the Terrapin Performance Center, the Center for Sports Medicine, Health and Human Performance and the future home of the Academy of Innovation and Entrepreneurship.

The University of Maryland also announced a gift of $25 million from Under Armour founder and CEO and UMD alum Kevin Plank in support of the new Cole Field House.

“The new Cole Field House is not just an important project for Maryland Athletics, it is a signature project for our entire institution,” said President Wallace D. Loh.  “For our students, faculty, staff and alumni, this project will be a point of pride, and a reminder of the world-class athletics, groundbreaking research and innovative academics here at the University of Maryland.”

“This project brings together two of my favorite passions, Maryland athletics and entrepreneurship,” said Kevin Plank.  “The lessons I learned on the football field in College Park continue to fuel my entrepreneurial spirit and shape my professional approach.  By fostering a generation of entrepreneurial-minded young adults, we are preparing our students not just for the next four years, but for many years to come.”

The Terrapin Performance Center will include a dynamic indoor football practice facility, strength and conditioning facilities, team locker room, meeting rooms and offices.  Two outdoor turf fields will be also be constructed on the west end of the facility.  The fields will also be made available to all UMD students for intramural sports.

“The Terrapin Performance Center will enhance our overall student-athlete experience both on and off the field,” said Kevin Anderson, director of athletics.  “By providing them with a world- class practice, training and strength and conditioning facility, as well as expansive meeting space, our student-athletes will boast a competitive advantage as new members of the Big Ten Conference. The presence of the Academy of Innovation and Entrepreneurship, coupled with the best sports medicine program in the country, will provide our student-athletes with unparalleled opportunities for success.”

The Center for Sports Medicine, Health and Human Performance is a collaboration with the University of Maryland, Baltimore.  The Center will advance the discovery of innovative diagnostics and treatments and will have dedicated research laboratory space focused on concussion and traumatic brain injuries, muscle-brain physiology and biochemistry, exoskeleton-robotic treatments and medical biomechanics.

The Academy for Innovation and Entrepreneurship, co-located in the new Edward St. John Learning and Teaching Center, will serve as the central home for university-wide entrepreneurial curricula, activities, competitions and programs.  It will include an Innovation Shell, a hybrid incubator-classroom space designed for students to build their projects, and a rapid prototyping lab.  It will also include a shared marketplace where student incubator companies can market and test their products and services.

The $155 million project will be funded by $105 million in private philanthropy and rental income, with $25 million in support from the State of Maryland.  The University of Maryland will also direct $25 million from Big Ten revenues towards the project.

Pending full Board of Regents approval in December, the University plans to begin design in May 2015, begin construction in December 2015, complete construction of Phase I (Terrapin Performance Center) in April 2017, and complete construction of Phase II in June 2018. 

For video, images and additional details about the Cole Field House project, please visit ColeFieldHouse.umd.edu.

University of Maryland Breaks Ground for A. James Clark Hall


November 21, 2014
Contacts: 

Elise Carbonaro 301-405-6501

New building to serve as hub for human health innovation in the state of Maryland


COLLEGE PARK, Md. – The University of Maryland's A. James Clark School of Engineering today will host the ceremonial groundbreaking of the new A. James Clark Hall at the University of Maryland, College Park. The new building will cultivate transformative new engineering and biomedical technologies to accelerate advancements in human health.

Clark Hall renderingTaking place at 10:00 a.m. on November 21 at the site of the new building in the Paint Branch Parking Lot, adjacent to the Jeong H. Kim Engineering Building, the event will bring together honored guests, dignitaries, and representatives of the University of Maryland and University System of Maryland to celebrate the impact Clark Hall will have on the advancement of biomedical research.

"Our researchers are hard at work on biomedical projects that are staggering in their potential impact—a cure for multiple sclerosis, a cancer vaccine, a magnetic pain reduction system and many others," said University of Maryland President Wallace Loh. "When complete, this new building will give them the space and facilities to finish the job."


The 184,000-square-foot building will accommodate the Clark School's rapidly growing programs and foster collaboration among the many disciplines involved with human health innovation, from bioengineering and mechanical engineering to biology and information technology. 

"I'm proud that Maryland continues to be a leader in the biotech industry, and the A. James Clark Hall will help us continue to build the skilled workforce we need to remain competitive, support groundbreaking advances in the biomedical and engineering fields, and attract additional economic opportunities," stated Congressman Steny Hoyer. "This world-class facility will not only attract faculty and students, but it will also ensure that the University of Maryland remains at the forefront of engineering and biomedical technologies to advance human health innovation. I look forward to the new opportunities for federal research partnerships and will continue to support significant research advancements at the University of Maryland and throughout our great state."

Clark Hall renderingClark Hall will facilitate world-class research and educational programs, offering state-of-the-art laboratories, student project space, and a new home for the Fischell Department of Bioengineering and the Robert E. Fischell Institute for Biomedical Devices. Located within an hour's drive from many of the nation's top bioscience research forces, including the National Institutes of Health (NIH), Walter Reed National Military Medical Center, and the University of Maryland School of Medicine in Baltimore, Clark Hall will serve as a central hub for new partnerships for organizations throughout the Maryland and Washington, D.C. region.

"This new start-of-the-art facility for bioengineering research and education will attract exceptional faculty and students to Maryland, support leading edge research and education, and benefit the state of Maryland's innovation ecosystem through the creation of new companies and new jobs," said University System of Maryland Chancellor William E. Kirwan.

While the vision, design, and development of Clark Hall brought together the minds of University of Maryland and Clark School administrators, faculty, and staff, as well as a team of talented architects and builders, the plans could not be executed without the generosity of two benefactors – A. James Clark (B.S. '50) and Dr. Robert E. Fischell (M.S. '53, Honorary Sc.D. '95).

Clark's steadfast commitment to undergraduate education moved him to endow a fund for undergraduate scholarships in 1994, and in 2005, a new A. James Clark Scholarship Fund to provide financial support to undergraduate engineering students based on merit, need, and diversity. In recognition of Clark's philanthropic leadership, the University of Maryland School of Engineering was named the A. James Clark School of Engineering. Inspired by his strong interest in the promise of biosciences and biotechnology, Clark made a generous gift to support the design and construction of A. James Clark Hall, which will be the 27th structure built by Clark Construction on the University of Maryland campus.

"Mr. Clark's contribution to this new building and the University of Maryland is not only a symbol of commitment to his alma mater, but a symbol of his vision for the future of human health," said Darryll Pines, Clark School Dean and Farvardin Professor.

Fischell is the inventor behind major medical breakthroughs, including highly flexible, drug-eluding coronary stents, the first implantable insulin pump, and a magnetic pulse device for treating human pain ranging from migraine headaches to backaches. His latest inventions include the first rechargeable pacemaker for cardiac patients, an implantable device that warns a patient and medical personnel of a heart attack at the very first sign of its start, and a neurostimulator implanted in the skull that can detect abnormal electrical activity in the brain and correct it before a seizure occurs.

In 2005, Fischell and his family helped to establish the Fischell Department of Bioengineering and the future Robert E. Fischell Institute for Biomedical Devices at the University of Maryland, and, most recently, Fischell committed a generous gift toward the establishment of A. James Clark Hall.

"Dr. Fischell's commitment to the commercialization of health innovations has made an enormous impact on society, and the Fischell Institute for Biomedical Devices will help our students and faculty to take part in the improvement of human health worldwide," said William Bentley, the Robert E. Fischell Distinguished Professor of Engineering and Chair of the Fischell Department of Bioengineering.

Slated to open in 2017, Clark Hall was designed by a team of architects at Ballinger and will be developed by Clark Construction Group.

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