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UMD Office of Sustainability Announces 2015 University Sustainability Projects

May 21, 2015

Andrew Muir 301-405-7068

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

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

Compost at Terp Farm

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

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

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

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

Center for Young Children (CYC) Rain Garden

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

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

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

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

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

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

May 20, 2015

Lee Tune 301-405-4679

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Expanding Magnets Have Potential to Energize the World

May 20, 2015

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

Discovery Sheds New Light on 175-year-old Principle

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

UMD Names Dr. Babak Hamidzadeh Interim Dean of Libraries

May 20, 2015

Crystal Brown 301-405-4621

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

UMD Students Lead the Nation in Boren Scholarships with Nine Awards

May 19, 2015

Leslie Anne Brice 301-314-1289

COLLEGE PARK, Md. – Nine University of Maryland students have been awarded Boren Scholarships for the study of critical languages and regions, the highest number received by any university this year. UMD has ranked first in the nation in Boren Scholarships each of the last four years. This year’s Boren Scholars will study Arabic, French, Wolof and Swahili. In addition, one UMD graduate student has received a Boren Fellowship for language study and research in Tanzania.

The Boren Scholarship provides up to $20,000 for long-term (two semester or longer), language-focused study abroad. Boren Fellowships provide up to $24,000 for overseas study. In addition, Boren Fellowships can provide limited funding for domestic language study that will supplement the overseas component. The maximum award for a combined overseas and domestic Boren Fellowship is $30,000. 

“Our students’ exceptional performance in the Boren Scholarship program reflects their passion for international studies as well as the remarkable academic, research and internship opportunities available to them at UMD and in the Washington D.C. region,” said Francis DuVinage, UMD’s campus advisor for the Boren Scholarship and Fellowship programs and Director of the National Scholarships Office.

The David L. Boren Scholarships and Fellowships are sponsored by the National Security Education Program (NSEP), a major federal initiative designed to build a broader and more qualified pool of U.S. citizens with foreign language and international skills. Boren Awards provide U.S. undergraduate and graduate students with resources and encouragement to acquire language skills and experience in countries critical to the future security and stability of the United States. In exchange for funding, Boren award recipients agree to work in the federal government for a period of at least one year.

This year, 171 Boren Scholars were chosen from a pool of 750 applicants.  The Boren Fellowship program presented 101 awards from a pool of 385 applicants.

Highlights of this year’s UMD recipients include:

2015-2016 UMD Boren Scholarship Awardees:

Mariam Badi (award to study Swahili in Tanzania) 

Badi is a senior in the College of Behavioral and Social Sciences majoring in Government and Politics and minoring in International Development and Conflict Management. In spring 2014 she studied abroad at the University of Manchester in England, and in summer 2013 she taught English with Learning Enterprises in El Guasimo, Panama. She is currently interning at the American Bar Association Rule of Law Initiative in Washington, D.C.  Mariam is an alumna of the College Park Scholars Public Leadership Program.

Olivia Bethea (award to study French and Wolof in Senegal)

Olivia is a junior in the College of Behavioral and Social Sciences double majoring in Government and Politics and French Language and Literature. During summer 2013 she interned at the National Archives and Records Administration and since June 2014 she has interned at the Department of Homeland Security, U.S. Customs and Border Protection. Olivia earned a citation in Honors Humanities from the Honors College.

Sarah Brown (award to study Arabic in Morocco)

Sarah is a senior in the College of Arts and Humanities, double-majoring in Arabic and Linguistics, and is a member of UMD’s Arabic Flagship Program and the University Honors Program of the Honors College. She is a member of the Intelligence Center of Academic Excellence program at UMD, of the Language House (Arabic Cluster), and is a participant in the Federal Semester Program, for which she is interning this semester at the Center for Advanced Study of Language. Sarah plans to enroll in the Arabic Flagship Overseas Program in Meknes, Morocco during her Boren year abroad.

Brian DeShong (award to study Arabic in Morocco)

Brian is a senior in the College of Behavioral and Social Sciences double-majoring in Government and Politics and Arabic Studies, and participated in the College Park Scholars Science, Discovery, and the Universe program. He has studied abroad in Rabat, Morocco, where he interned with the National Human Rights Council and taught English. He plans to enroll at Cadi Ayyad University in Marrakesh, Morocco during his Boren year abroad.


Sarah Iskander (award to study Arabic in Jordan)

Sarah is a senior majoring in Arabic Studies, and minoring in Middle Eastern Studies and International Development and Conflict Management. She interns with the Arms Division of Human Rights Watch, and previously served as a research assistant for The Middle East Institute. At UMD, Sarah is a student researcher with the Geographies of Conflict and Development Program, using geographical analysis to study the relationship between foreign development assistance and the dynamics of intrastate-armed conflict. She will study at the Qasid Institute in Amman, Jordan, during her Boren year abroad.

Lindsay Jodoin (award to study Arabic in Jordan)

Lindsay is a junior in the College of Behavioral and Social Sciences majoring in Government and Politics and minoring in Arabic, and has studied abroad in Amman, Jordan. She interned in the office of U.S. Senator Elizabeth Warren in the summer of 2013. Lindsay is also a recipient of a summer 2015 Critical Language Scholarship award for intensive Arabic study abroad. Lindsay will study at the Qasid Institute in Amman, Jordan, during her Boren year abroad.


Anna Pavlos (award to study Arabic in Morocco)

Anna is a senior in the College of Behavioral and Social Sciences double-majoring in Government and Politics and Arabic Studies, and minoring in Global Terrorism Studies, and is a member of UMD’s Arabic Flagship Program and of the University Honors Program of the Honors College. She has had multiple internships at the Department of State and with the National Consortium for the Study of Terrorism and Responses to Terrorism (START). Anna will study in Meknes, Morocco, with the Arabic Flagship Overseas Program.

Catherine Tappert (award to study Arabic in Morocco)

Catherine is a senior in the College of Arts and Humanities double-majoring in Arabic Studies and Government and Politics, and is a member of UMD’s Arabic Flagship Program and of the University Honors Program of the Honors College. She has interned with the National Consortium for the Study of Terrorism and Responses to Terrorism (START), taken part in the Federal Semester program, and worked full-time for over one year with the office of the Cultural Attaché at the Embassy of Iraq in the U.S. Catherine plans to enroll in the Arabic Flagship Overseas Program in Meknes, Morocco during her Boren year abroad.

Joseph Sammarco (award to study Arabic in Morocco)

Joseph is a senior in the College of Arts and Humanities double-majoring in Arabic Studies and Persian Studies. He has lived in the Arabic Cluster of Language House, is a member of the Intelligence Center of Academic Excellence program at UMD, and has interned with the National Consortium for the Study of Terrorism and Responses to Terrorism (START). This year Joseph is participating in the campus-based Capstone Year of UMD’s Persian Flagship Program, and next year he will enroll in the Arabic Flagship Overseas Program in Meknes, Morocco.

2015-2016 UMD Boren Fellowship Awardees:

Paul Boccaccio (award to study Swahili in Tanzania)

Paul Boccaccio, a second-year graduate student in the Master of Library Science program, has been awarded a 2015-2016 Boren Fellowship to study Swahili in Tanzania and research the information needs of farmers in Morogoro and surrounding regions. His project title is, “Intensive Study of Swahili, and Research on Information and Communication Technology Infrastructure in Tanzania.” After spending the summer in an intensive language program with the African Flagship Languages Initiative at University of Florida, Paul will participate in a language immersion program in mainland Tanzania and an internship promoting digital literacy for youth. 

UMD Researcher Developing Virtual "CyberHeart" for Testing & Improving Implantable Cardiac Devices

May 19, 2015

Abby Vogel Robinson 301-405-5845
Tom Ventsias 301-405-5933
Lee Tune 301-405-4679

COLLEGE PARK, Md. - A University of Maryland expert in the model-based testing of embedded software is working to accelerate the development of improved implantable medical devices used in the treatment of heart disease.

W. Rance Cleaveland, UMD professor of computer scienceW. Rance Cleaveland, a UMD professor of computer science, is part of a multi-institutional team developing a “CyberHeart”—a sophisticated digital platform used for patient-specific testing of current devices like pacemakers, as well as prototyping the next generation of implantable cardiac devices now under development.

“We believe these virtual platforms can be used to design, test and validate implantable medical devices faster and at a far lower cost than existing methods,” says Cleaveland, who has appointments in the University of Maryland Institute for Advanced Computer Studies and the Institute for Systems Research.

The project, which involves researchers from seven U.S. universities and centers, is funded by a five-year, $4.2 million grant from the National Science Foundation (NSF)

The research group’s approach combines patient-specific computational models of heart dynamics with advanced mathematical techniques for analyzing how these models will interact with cardiac medical devices. The results can be used in a clinical setting to optimize device settings on a patient-by-patient basis.

“We’re able to take a specific patient’s history and then run a detailed analysis of how a device might work, interchanging different settings on the device and seeing the reactions, before the device is implanted in the patient,” Cleaveland says.

For new devices under development, these same CyberHeart analytics can be used to detect potential flaws early on during the device’s design phase, before animal and human trials begin. 

“We believe that our coordinated, multidisciplinary approach—which balances theoretical, experimental and practical concerns—will yield transformational results in medical-device design and foundations of cyber-physical system verification,” says Scott Smolka, a professor of computer science at Stony Brook University who is principal investigator of the project.

In addition to Smolka and Cleaveland—who co-directs the project—other researchers include Edmund Clarke (Carnegie Mellon University), Elizabeth Cherry (Rochester Institute of Technology), Flavio Fenton (Georgia Tech), Rahul Mangharam (University of Pennsylvania), Arnab Ray (Fraunhofer Center for Experimental Software Engineering) and James Glimm and Radu Grosu (Stony Brook University). Richard A. Gray of the U.S. Food and Drug Administration is another key contributor.

The NSF funding falls under its “cyber-physical systems” effort, which looks to develop state-of-the-art engineered systems that are built from and depend on the seamless integration of computational and physical components.

“NSF has been a leader in supporting research in cyber-physical systems, which has provided a foundation for putting the ‘smart’ in health, transportation, energy and infrastructure systems," said Jim Kurose, head of Computer & Information Science & Engineering at NSF.

Learn more about the NSF grant and see a video of early testing.

UMD Scientist Spearheads New U.S. Climate Indicators, Wins Scientific Award

May 18, 2015

Lee Tune 301-405-4679

COLLEGE PARK, Md. – The U.S. government’s recent release of climate change measures designed to help governments, businesses and individuals make decisions around climate change marked a major milestone for University of Maryland scientist Melissa Kenney. Kenney was a leader in the four-year-long development of recommendations and prototype indicators that formed the basis of the 14 proof-of-concept climate change indicators selected and released by the U.S. Global Change Research Program.

Kenney and co-leader Anthony Janetos of Boston University directed a team of more than 200 scientists and practitioners from 9 federal agencies, the private sector and academia that worked with the U.S. Global Change Research Program on this project. The initial 14 indicators communicate key aspects of the changing climate, such as temperatures over land and at sea, greenhouse gas levels in the atmosphere, the extent of Arctic sea ice, and related effects in sectors like public health and agriculture. Some measures show climate-related trends over time, while other indicators show how resources are impacted in the United States. The source data for each indicator are documented and traceable via the Global Change Information System.

“We [scientists] do a really good job tracking our physical climate system: arctic sea ice extent, air and sea surface temperatures, and a whole range of indicators that are tracked through NASA, NOAA, EPA and other Federal agencies,” said Kenney, an assistant research professor in environmental decision analysis and indicators at UMD’s Earth System Science Interdisciplinary Center (ESSIC) and Cooperative Institute for Climate and Satellites.

“However, it is important for us to present such data in forms, like these new indicators, that can allow non-scientists to understand it, engage with it, and to integrate it with other information in ways that are useful for their decision making processes,” she said. 

On the day the climate indicators were released, the Scientific Research Society, Sigma Xi, an international honor society of science and engineering that is one of the oldest and largest scientific organizations in the world, announced Kenney as the winner of its 2015 Young Investigator Award. The society noted her work on climate indicators as one example of why it was recognizing her overall actionable research program focused on the analysis and translation of multidisciplinary scientific knowledge to address tough societal environmental problems.  Sigma Xi hosted a public Google Hangout with Kenney about this project last week.

A Leading Indicator of Things to Come

According to Kenney, given the scope of the team’s recommendations, the U.S. Global Change Research Program’s newly released indicators are just the first step. “We’re embarked on a broad effort to create a system of indicators that captures our knowledge across the physical, natural and social science disciplines to look at climate changes, impacts and vulnerabilities,” she said.  

Kenney said feedback from the U.S. Global Change Research Program’s indicators will be used by her team in an interactive process with users, from legislative and business leaders to farmers and fisherman, to refine and expand the proposed indicator features and recommendations. This process she said will be analogous to user-driven software development.

One key focus for her team will be identifying and developing a set of “leading indicators” that are indicative of future climate impacts and vulnerabilities. These would be designed for use in planning and decision making in ways analogous to how leading economic indicators – like the ups and downs in the stock market and new housing permits – can be used to evaluate and make decisions around anticipated changes in sectors of the economy or in the economy as a whole. 

“For decisions, we care about the past because it helps us to understand and to predict the future. A set of leading climate impact indicators could be a game changer for adaptation decisions,” Kenney said.

UMD Students Create Social Change in Prince George's County

May 18, 2015

Megan Campbell 301-405-4390

COLLEGE PARK, Md. – University of Maryland students in the College Park Scholars Public Leadership Program, sponsored by School of Public Policy, took their knowledge and passion for social change outside of the classroom and into the local community. 

The students recently presented more than $7,000 to two local nonprofits as part of their spring colloquium course, which focused on working to improve the Prince George’s County community, specifically on the issues of domestic violence and human trafficking. 

The students awarded a $3,248 grant to Fair Girls, which works to prevent the exploitation of girls through empowerment and education; and a $3,885 grant to House of Ruth Maryland, which provides housing and support services to women and families who experience abuse.

The students started the semester by brainstorming various issues that are affecting the Prince George’s County community. From there, the class of freshman researched the issues, presented the issues to their classmates, voted, and selected two problems to focus on: domestic violence and human trafficking. In addition to raising money and awareness about these two problems affecting the local community, students wrote grants and developed policy proposals to persuade local officials to change policies in the area.

The domestic violence team pitched the idea of broadening protective orders in the county to be more inclusive for teen relationships and people in non-cohabitating relationships. They suggested creating a task force to change the protective order legislation. 

Students from the human trafficking policymaking team lobbied for more awareness of the issue and an empowerment program for workers in trafficking hot spots. They indicated the need for training programs, reporting services, and financial incentives for those individuals, which would increase the amount of trafficking incidents being
reported and stopped.

“[This course] taught me the power that we have just as individuals, college students on campus,” said Amy Gill, a freshman communications major. “College isn’t just about going through the motions. We can actually make a difference.”

The class received $5,000 from the School of Public Policy’s Center for Philanthropy and Nonprofit Leadership and the fundraising groups for each issue raised additional funds. More information can be found here.

UMD Sophomores Lead the Nation in NOAA Hollings Scholarships with Nine Awards

May 15, 2015

Leslie Anne Brice 301-314-1289

COLLEGE PARK, Md. – Nine University of Maryland sophomores have been awarded Ernest F. Hollings Scholarships by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) Office of Education. This is the largest number of Hollings Scholarships ever won by UMD students, and ties UMD for no. 1 nationally, with the University of South Carolina, Columbia.

The NOAA Hollings Scholarship Program provides awards that include up to $8,000 annually for two years beginning in September 2015. The Hollings award also includes a full-time, 10-week, paid summer research internship ($650 per week) at a NOAA facility the summer after junior year. This internship provides the scholars with "hands-on" practical educational training experience in NOAA-related science, research, technology, policy, management and education activities.

Hollings awards also include travel funds to attend conferences where students present a paper or poster, and a housing subsidy for scholars who do not reside at home during the summer internship.

“UMD’s record number of Hollings Scholarship awardees reflects our students’ passion for tackling critical issues in environmental science and policy both in their studies and their future careers,” said Dr. Francis DuVinage, Director of UMD’s National Scholarships Office.

UMD’s new Hollings Scholars will begin their tenure by attending a one-week orientation program this month at NOAA Headquarters in Silver Spring, Md. where they will meet the agency’s administrator, senior program managers and scientists from NOAA’s diverse organizations.

Click here for additional information on the Hollings Scholarship Program.

UMD 2015 Hollings Scholars include:

Jose Gabriel (Gabe) Almario – Microbiology, Environmental Science and Policy

Gabe is a member of the Integrated Life Science program of the University Honors College and is an undergraduate research assistant in the conservation biology lab of Prof. Karen Lips.



Michelle Graulty – Environmental Science and Policy

Michelle is a member of the Entrepreneurship and Innovation Program of the University Honors College, is an undergraduate research assistant in Prof. Bill Fagan’s ecology and conservation biology lab, and has been offered a summer Government Affairs internship with the National Aquarium in Baltimore.


Kelsey Malloy – Atmospheric and Oceanic Science

Kelsey is a member of the Gemstone program of the University Honors College and a mentor for the FIRE (First-Year Innovation & Research Experience) program.



Victoria Monsaint-Queeney – Environmental Science and Technology, English

Victoria is a member of the Gemstone program of the University Honors College, for which she served as a Gems Camp Leader in summer 2014. She competed as a member in the UMD Soil Judging Team in fall 2014.



Catherine Nguyen – Chemical and Biomolecular Engineering

Catherine is also a member of the University Honors Program in the University Honors College, and is an undergraduate research assistant in Prof. Srinivasa R. Raghavan’s Complex Fluids & Nanomaterials Group.



Annie Rice – Environmental Science and Policy

Annie is a member of the Science and Global Change program of College Park Scholars, and is Director of City Affairs for the Student Sustainability Committee, and is a Sustainability Advisor for UMD’s Office of Sustainability.



Jonathan Siebert – Atmospheric and Oceanic Science, Computer Science

Jonathan is a member of the Design, Culture, and Creativity program of the University Honors College and an intern at the Joint Global Change Research Institute.



Emily Snider – Civil Engineering, Environment and Water Resource Track

Emily is a member of the Environment, Technology & Economy program of College Park Scholars, and is interning with the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency Office of Public Engagement as part of the Federal Semester Energy and Environmental Policy program.



Maya Spaur – Government and Politics, Environmental Science and Technology

Maya is a member of the University Honors Program in the University Honors College and Director of Governmental Affairs for the Student Government Association Sustainability Committee.

UMD Study Finds Climate Change Boosts a Migratory Insect Pest

May 15, 2015

Matthew Wright 301-405-9267

Six decades of data show that with warmer temperatures, potato leafhoppers arrive sooner,
do more damage

COLLEGE PARK, Md. – The potato leafhopper is a tiny insect—barely half the size of a grain of rice—with a bright lime green color that helps it blend in against plant leaves. Despite its unassuming appearance, this little pest causes big headaches for farmers across the eastern half of the United States. By feeding voraciously on many crops, including potatoes, green beans and alfalfa, the migratory potato leafhopper causes untold millions of dollars in damage every year.

Now, a study by entomologists at the University of Maryland and Queens College at the City University of New York suggests that climate warming could be making this problem worse. Using data that span more than six decades, the team found that potato leafhoppers arrive an average of 10 days earlier than in the early 1950s, and their infestations are more severe in the warmest years. These effects correspond to an overall increase in years with warmer than average temperatures over the same time period. The results were published online May 13, 2015 in the journal PLOS ONE.

A nymph-stage potato leafhopper (Empoasca fabae, right of center) rests on a leaf of alfalfa (Medicago sativa). The discoloration and scarring seen on the leaves is called "hopperburn," and is the result of a toxin contained in leafhopper saliva. Credit: William Lamp“The potato leafhopper is a significant pest in this country, spanning multiple crops across a large area. The scale of influence is huge,” said Dilip Venugopal, a research associate in entomology at UMD and co-lead author of the study. “Our results indicate that agricultural systems need to prepare for the effects of climate change on migratory pests. Earlier arrival is just one of the many factors that we need to be ready for.”

Potato leafhoppers attack a wide variety of plant species, not just their namesake potato plants. They have a particular taste for alfalfa, which is an important forage crop for livestock. In Vermont, they have been known to go after hop plants, causing trouble for that state’s famed craft beer industry. They even feed on non-agricultural plants, such as red maple trees. All told, they cause damage to more than 200 plant species throughout their considerably large range.

The insect’s feeding strategy is subtle enough to avoid detection at first. By piercing a plant’s leaves and stems with their mouthparts, leafhoppers feed on the sap and other liquids within. Leafhopper saliva also contains a toxin that can cause drying, curling and rotting of plant tissues, resulting in a characteristic syndrome known as “hopperburn.”

“Earlier arrival dates make it particularly important for farmers to get out early in the season and scout for leafhoppers,” said William Lamp, an associate professor of entomology at UMD and a co-author of the study. “They’re tiny, flighty and very hard to see. You don’t realize they’re even there until you see the damage to the plants, which can take up to a week to manifest. By then it’s too late.”

The study integrated data on leafhopper arrival dates and infestation severity from a variety of sources, including reports from state-level agricultural extension programs and published scientific studies. The researchers compared these data with temperature data from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s National Climatic Data Center. In addition to earlier arrival dates, the leafhopper data also show that years with warmer than average temperatures also had the most severe infestations.

“The historical records on agricultural pests are a gold mine, made possible by decades of hard work by agricultural research and extension personnel who collect this data,” Venugopal said. “There has been a decline in data collection activity over the past decade, and we would love to see an effort to ramp this up again.”

The researchers note that the potato leafhopper is only one of many migratory pest species that are likely to change their migration and feeding habits in response to climate warming.

“Climate change is not just costly because temperatures and oceans rise, but because it makes it harder to feed ourselves,” said Mitchell Baker, an associate professor of biology at Queens College at the City University of New York and co-lead author of the paper. “Increased pest pressure in agriculture is one of the complex effects of continued warming. Predicting arrival time and severity is critical to managing this pest and others like it.”

The research paper, “Climate change and phenology: Empoasca fabae (Hemiptera: Cicadellidae) migration and severity of impact,” was published online May 13, 2015, in the journal PLOS ONE. Additional information can be found here


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