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More Salt Equals More Power for Safe, Green Water-Based Battery Tech

May 13, 2016

Melissa Andreychek 301-405-0292

COLLEGE PARK, Md. – With just a pinch more salt, a team of researchers at the University of Maryland, the Army Research Laboratory and colleagues have added new power to a potentially breakthrough  battery technology that is safer, cheaper and more environmentally friendly than today’s lithium-ion batteries.

The latest findings advance the team’s earlier work on groundbreaking “water-in-salt” lithium ion battery technology. The researchers have found that adding a second salt to the water-based (aqueous) batteries increases their energy capacity, but still without the fire risk, poisonous chemicals, and environmental hazards of lithium ion batteries that dominate the portable electronics market.

“Our purpose was to invent an aqueous lithium ion battery that is absolutely safe, green, and cost-efficient, while delivering energy density comparable to commercial lithium ion batteries,” said Liumin Suo, postdoctoral research associate in UMD’s Department of Chemical and Biomolecular Engineering. “We believe our batteries will have very wide applications including electric energy storage, airspace devices, and portable electric devices.”

A peer-reviewed paper based on the study was published recently in the journal Angewandte Chemie as a Very Important paper (VIP).

The team of researchers—led by Chunsheng Wang, professor in UMD’s Department of Chemical & Biomolecular Engineering, and Kang Xu, senior research chemist and fellow at ARL—said their work demonstrates a major advance in water-based batteries by further increasing the voltage, or power, of an aqueous battery.

“Our invention has the potential to transform the energy industry by replacing flammable, toxic lithium ion batteries with our safe, green water-in-salt battery,” said Wang. “This technology may increase the acceptance and improve the utility of battery-powered electric vehicles, and enable large-scale energy storage of intermittent energy generators like solar and wind.”

The researchers said their technology holds great promise, particularly in applications that involve large energies at kilowatt or megawatt levels and in applications where battery safety and toxicity are primary concerns, including non-flammable batteries for airplanes, naval vessels, or spaceships.

“All this leads to a safe lithium ion technology that is free of any fire and explosion hazard, benefiting both the soldier and the civilian,” said Arthur Cresce, an author on the paper and research chemist with ARL. “For instance, energy storage units of the electrical microgrids, which would manage energy produced and harvested in camp, could rely on a WiSE-based battery bank to store and release electricity without the safety and environmental concerns, increasing the camp's self-reliant energy capability.”

“The water-in-salt electrolytes developed by this group have unexpectedly opened the possibility of high-voltage aqueous electrochemical systems, impervious to water splitting reactions. The new water-in-bisalt electrolytes, incorporating two or more lithium salts, may soon lead to safer, cheaper, and longer lasting water-based lithium-ion batteries,” said Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) Professor Martin Bazant, a leading battery researcher who was not involved in the study.

At UMD’s 2016 Celebration of Innovation and Partnerships on May 9, Wang, Xu, Suo, and the rest of their research team won Invention of the Year: Physical Sciences for their groundbreaking “water-in-salt” aqueous lithium ion battery technology.

This work was supported by DOE ARPA-E (DEAR0000389), the Maryland NanoCenter and its Nisp Lab and SAC Lab, and ARL Enterprise for Multiscale Research of Materials.

The research paper, “Advanced High-Voltage Aqueous Lithium-Ion Battery Enabled by ‘Water-in-Bisalt’ Electrolyte,” Liumin Suo, Oleg Borodin, Wei Sun, Xiulin Fan, et al., was published online April 27 in the journal Angewandte Chemie.

Seventeen UMD Students & Alumni Awarded Fulbright Grants

May 13, 2016

Kristen Seabolt 301-405-4621

COLLEGE PARK, Md. - Seventeen University of Maryland students and recent graduates were awarded Fulbright grants to study, conduct research or teach English abroad during the 2016-2017 academic year. The students and alumni will travel to 15 different countries around the world to carry out projects in fields such as dance, environmental science, public health, biology, international relations, history and geography. Others will teach English at schools and universities. 

Each year, the Fulbright Program awards approximately 8,000 grants to roughly 1,600 U.S. students, 4,000 foreign students, 1,200 U.S. scholars, 900 visiting scholars and several hundred teachers and professionals to pursue international study, research and teaching experience.

In the last five years, UMD students and recent graduates have earned a total of 70 Fulbright grants. This year’s recipients include six seniors, five recent graduates, and six graduate students. 

“The Fulbright recipients at the University of Maryland for 2016 are among the brightest and more adventuresome of our students,” said James Gilbert, UMD’s Fulbright Program Advisor. “Their accomplishment is a credit to the University and to their hard work and the creativity of their projects.”

The Fulbright Program, the U.S. government’s flagship international educational exchange program, is sponsored by the Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs of the United States Department of State. Since its inception in 1946, the Fulbright Program has provided more than 300,000 participants with the opportunity to study, teach and conduct research, exchange ideas and contribute to finding solutions to shared international concerns. 

2016 University of Maryland Fulbright Recipients 

Arjun AdapaArjun Adapa, Netherlands

Arjun Adapa, a senior majoring in bioengineering, has been awarded a Fulbright Grant for research in the Netherlands. Mr. Adapa’s research will aim to develop nanoparticle carriers for small-interfering RNA targeting BACE1, a critical gene involved in Alzheimer's progression, to overcome the challenges with drug delivery. Dr. Inge Zuhorn of the University of Groningen Medical Center will advise him. After his year abroad Mr. Adapa plans to attend medical school at the University of Michigan, Ann Arbor, then pursue a career in clinical medicine.


Elizabeth BeaversElizabeth Beavers, South Korea

Elizabeth Beavers, a 2013 alumna with bachelor’s degrees in Music Education and Vocal Performance, has been awarded a Fulbright English Teaching Assistantship to South Korea. She previously travelled to South Korea with the University of Maryland Chamber Singers to participate in the 10th World Symposium on Choral Music. While in South Korea, she will also explore Korean choral music opportunities, learn Korean musical traditions, and collect repertoire. After completing her Fulbright year she plans to hone her craft as a high school choral director or pursue a career in conducting.


Meghan BowdenMeghan Bowden, Ghana

Meghan Bowden, an MFA student in the Dance Program, has been awarded a Fulbright for research and professional collaboration in Ghana. Her project builds on a tradition of collaborative art-making between American and Ghanaian dance artists. She will focus on Ghanaian dance technique and composition classes at the Noyam Institute of Performing Arts in Dodowa, Ghana. She will also create a collaborative dance piece with Nii-Tete Yartey, artistic director of the National Dance Company of Ghana. This project supports her long-term goal to teach dance at the collegiate level.


Theresa BreckerTheresa Brecker, Colombia

Theresa Brecker, a 2015 alumna with a bachelor’s degree in Spanish, has been awarded a Fulbright English Teaching Assistantship to Colombia. While teaching English in Colombia, Ms. Brecker plans to volunteer with a program that focuses on girls’ empowerment. She is particularly interested in Fundación Pies Descalzos, which works to create a holistic educational experience by teaching students nutrition and life skills. After her Fulbright year Ms. Brecker plans to pursue a career as an ESOL or Spanish language teacher. 



Amira Collison

Amira Collison, Spain

Amira Collison, a senior majoring in neurobiology and physiology and minoring in Spanish, has been awarded a Fulbright English Teaching Assistantship to Spain. While teaching English in Spain, Ms. Collison plans to volunteer at a local health clinic, building on her volunteer work at Silver Spring Community Clinic. After completing her Fulbright year in Spain, Ms. Collison plans to attend medical school at Johns Hopkins University. As a physician, she hopes to improve the quality and access of health care for minorities in underserved areas.

Christopher Franklin, Macau

Christopher Franklin, a 2015 alumnus with a degree in Chinese, has been awarded a Fulbright English Teaching Assistantship to Macau. This will build on his previous teaching and study experiences in China. He plans to volunteer at the Badi Foundation and hopes to learn how civil society organizations are dealing with community development at the grassroots level. After his return to the U.S., he will begin a master’s program in international affairs with a focus on international development, foreign policy, and conflict resolution. He will then pursue a career in the U.S. Foreign Service.


Vishnupriya KareddyVishnupriya Kareddy, India

Vishnupriya Kareddy, a senior seeking dual degrees in neurobiology and physiology as well as government and politics, has been awarded a Fulbright Grant for research in India. She will examine efforts to decentralize rural public healthcare under the National Rural Health Mission. She will conduct her study in Andhra Pradesh and Telangana with the guidance of experts from the Institute of Health Systems and the University of Hyderabad. Upon her return to the U.S. Ms. Kareddy plans to pursue a joint M.D.-Ph.D. She will then pursue a career as a clinician-educator and conduct research.


Eben Levey

Eben Levey, Mexico

Eben Levey, a Ph.D. student in the Department of History, has been awarded a Fulbright Grant for research in Mexico. His project will draw on Church and State archives along with oral histories in two communities to examine the implementation of Liberation Theology in the Mexican Catholic Church following the Second Vatican Council, and the results in indigenous communities. He has secured affiliations with scholars from the Instituto Nacional de Antropología e Historia, Oaxaca and CIESAS Unidad Pacífico Sur. After his Fulbright year he will write his dissertation and pursue a professorship.

Sarah Marsteller, Germany

Sarah Marsteller, a senior double majoring in history and Germanic studies, has been awarded a Fulbright English Teaching Assistantship to Germany. She recently returned from Germany, having completed an internship in Stuttgart last summer followed by her study abroad program in Freiburg last fall. She plans to be involved in the local community through one of the German-American Centers found throughout the country or volunteering at a museum. After her Fulbright year she will pursue work that builds on her German skills and experiences and then hopes to pursue a master's degree. 

Caitlin McCullochCaitlin McCulloch, Georgia

Caitlin McCulloch, a Ph.D. student in the Department of Government and Politics, has been awarded a Fulbright Grant for research in Georgia. She will research the roots of Georgia’s foreign policy towards territorial disputes. She has secured affiliations with Professor Giorgi Gvalia of Ilia State University and The Caucasus Research Resource Center. Upon her return to the U.S. Ms. McCulloch will complete her dissertation. She plans to pursue a professorship, specializing in international relations and Eastern Europe, and hopes to continue building fruitful relationships with her Georgian affiliates.


Patricia McLaughlinPatricia McLaughlin, Czech Republic 

Patricia McLaughlin, a 2015 alumna with dual majors in government and politics, and communications, has been awarded a Fulbright English Teaching Assistantship to the Czech Republic. She has declined the award in favor of another opportunity.



Rachel O’MearaRachel O’Meara, Taiwan

Rachel O’Meara, a senior majoring in linguistics and Chinese, has been awarded a Fulbright English Teaching Assistantship to Taiwan. This will build on her ESL teaching experience in Chengdu, China, where she also studied in 2014. In addition to teaching, Ms. O’Meara plans to participate in regional festivals and to organize groups to explore the mountains through biking, hiking, and camping. After her Fulbright year she hopes to work in the field of international relations or education as she prepares for the Foreign Service Exam to become a Foreign Service Officer.


Diana ParkerDiana Parker, Indonesia

Diana Parker, a Ph.D. student in the Department of Geographical Sciences, has been awarded a Fulbright Grant for research in Indonesia. Her research focuses on palm oil, which plays a vital role in Indonesia's economic development. She will examine local, provincial and national strategies that help the industry’s growth while minimizing deforestation. She has secured an affiliation with Dr. Eko Priyo Purnomo of the Universitas Muhammadiyah Yogyakarta. Upon her return to the U.S. Ms. Parker plans to complete her dissertation and to continue working on sustainable development issues. 


Alisa TsaturovAlisa Tsaturov, Latvia

Alisa Tsaturov, a 2015 alumna with a major in government and politics and a minor in Russian, has been awarded a Fulbright English Teaching Assistantship to Latvia. While teaching, Ms. Tsaturov hopes to organize a book and film club to support students in their efforts to learn English. She would also like to volunteer at the Museum of the Occupation of Latvia and learn about the country’s path to independence and how Latvians view their shared post-Soviet identity. After returning to the U.S. she plans to enter a master’s program in public policy and pursue a career in international affairs.



Sean Turner, Croatia

Sean Turner, a master’s student in the Department of Geographical Sciences, has been awarded a Fulbright Grant for research in Croatia. He will research island policy formation for the Croatian archipelago and will explore how goals and strategies have evolved since Croatian Independence in 1992. He has secured affiliations with scholars at the Institute of Economics, Zagreb and of the University of Zagreb. After his Fulbright year he will apply to Ph.D. programs for European Studies and will pursue work at government agencies and think-tanks.

Barret WesselBarret Wessel, Denmark

Barret Wessel, a Ph.D. student in the Department of Environmental Science and Technology, has been awarded a Fulbright Grant for research in Denmark. He will study two marine ecosystems and apply soil science approaches to generate benthic (sediment and substratum) maps and conceptual models. He has secured affiliations with Drs. Erik Kristensen and Mogens Flindt of the University of Southern Denmark. Upon his return to the U.S. he plans to complete his dissertation, pursue a professorship, and continue to research geographically diverse marine ecosystems, particularly in Nordic countries. 


Sarahann YehSarahann Yeh, Indonesia

Sarahann Yeh, a senior majoring in biology and minoring in international development and conflict management, has been awarded a Fulbright English Teaching Assistantship to Indonesia. While teaching, she plans to volunteer at local women and children’s clinics to better understand maternal and child health and expand her knowledge of global health. After her Fulbright year Ms. Yeh hopes to pursue a master’s degree in public health or international affairs, gain experience in international health development projects, and ultimately join the U.S. Foreign Service as a public diplomacy officer.

Scientists Find 'Birthmarks' from Earth's Infancy

May 12, 2016

Lee Tune 301-405-4679 

COLLEGE PARK, Md. – University of Maryland Professor of Geology Richard Walker and fellow scientists in a multi-institution research team have found two ‘birthmarks’ from  Earth’s mantle (the rocky middle layer between Earth’s metallic core and outer crust), consisting of silicate material formed when our planet was less than 50 million years old.

Baffin Bay rocks where scientists found 4.5 billion-year-old silicate material formed when baby Earth was less than 50 million years old. Photo credit Don FrancisThe team of researchers from the University of Maryland, University of Quebec at Montreal, Carnegie Institution for Science, University of California–Davis, McGill University and the University of California–Santa Barbara found clear signatures of this distinctive material in two widely separated locations on the globe, Baffin Bay in the North Atlantic and Ontong Java Plateau in the western Pacific Ocean. Their work appears in the May 13, 2016 issue of the journal Science.

According to Walker, chair of UMD’s Department of Geology, this is the first clear indication that portions of the mantle formed during Earth’s primary accretion period still exist today. “What we’ve found are surviving parts of Earth’s primitive mantle that have been preserved for four and a half billion years, and I think that’s kind of exciting!” 

Scientists believe Earth grew to its current size through the accretion of material from collisions with bodies of increasing size over several tens of millions of years early in the history of the Solar System. The last and most massive of these impacts was a collision between the proto-Earth and a planetoid approximately the size of Mars that resulted in the formation of our moon.  

Scientific consensus long had held it unlikely that any vestiges of rock from the earliest-period of Earth history survived. It was thought that the physical mixing and internal heat caused by the many collisions with other solar system bodies would have homogenized material from Earth’s early mantle.  However, that view began to change with  findings in 2012 by Walker and colleagues that indicated some material from the primitive mantle continued to exist until at least 2.8 billion years ago. 

In the current paper, the authors note that: “Four and a half billion years of geologic activity have overprinted much of the evidence for the processes involved in Earth’s formation and initial chemical differentiation,” However, they write that high-precision measurements of the ratios of different forms (or isotopes) of specific elements can “provide a view of events that occurred during the first few tens to hundreds of million years of Earth history, using short-lived radionuclides [unstable forms of chemical elements that radioactively decay] that were present when Earth formed.” 

According to Walker, the team’s identification of primitive mantle material was based on detection of an overabundance of an isotope of tungsten. The radioactive element hafnium, decays into the tungsten. 182-hafnium is a form or isotope of the element that was present when time our Solar System formed, but is no longer present on Earth today.  The decay of 182-hafnium into 182-tungsten is so rapid that variations in the abundance of 182-tungsten relative to other isotopes of tungsten can only be due to processes that occurred very early in the history of our Solar System.

Corresponding author on the Science paper is Hanika Rizo, a professor of Earth and atmospheric sciences at the University of Quebec at Montreal. During the research for this paper, she held a joint appointment at the University of Maryland and the Carnegie Institution of Washington as a post-doctoral researcher. 

This research was supported by NSF grant EAR-1265169 (Cooperative Studies of the Earth’s Deep Interior program) to Professor Richard Walker of the University of Maryland and grant EAR-1250419 to Sujoy Mukhopadhyay of the University of California–Davis.

Space Mission First to Observe Key Interaction Between Magnetic Fields of Earth and Sun

May 12, 2016

Matthew Wright 301-405-9267

NASA mission, with help from UMD physicists, is first to observe how magnetic reconnection takes place, a critical step in understanding space weather

COLLEGE PARK, Md. – Most people do not give much thought to the Earth’s magnetic field, yet it is every bit as essential to life as air, water and sunlight. The magnetic field provides an invisible, but crucial, barrier that protects Earth from the sun’s magnetic field, which drives a stream of charged particles known as the solar wind outward from the sun’s outer layers. The interaction between these two magnetic fields can cause explosive storms in the space near Earth, which can knock out satellites and cause problems here on Earth’s surface, despite the protection offered by Earth’s magnetic field. 

This artist’s rendition shows the four identical MMS spacecraft flying near the sun-facing boundary of Earth’s magnetic field (blue wavy lines). The MMS mission has revealed the clearest picture yet of the process of magnetic reconnection between the magnetic fields of Earth and the sun—a driving force behind space weather, solar flares and other energetic phenomena. Image credit: NASA A new study co-authored by University of Maryland physicists provides the first major results of NASA’s Magnetospheric Multiscale (MMS) mission, including an unprecedented look at the interaction between the magnetic fields of Earth and the sun. The paper describes the first direct and detailed observation of a phenomenon known as magnetic reconnection, which occurs when two opposing magnetic field lines break and reconnect with each other, releasing massive amounts of energy. 

The discovery is a major milestone in understanding magnetism and space weather. The research paper appears in the May 13, 2016, issue of the journal Science

“Imagine two trains traveling toward each other on separate tracks, but the trains are switched to the same track at the last minute,” said James Drake, a professor of physics at UMD and a co-author on the Science study. “Each track represents a magnetic field line from one of the two interacting magnetic fields, while the track switch represents a reconnection event. The resulting crash sends energy out from the reconnection point like a slingshot.”

Evidence suggests that reconnection is a major driving force behind events such as solar flares, coronal mass ejections, magnetic storms, and the auroras observed at both the North and South poles of Earth. Although researchers have tried to study reconnection in the lab and in space for nearly half a century, the MMS mission is the first to directly observe how reconnection happens. 

The MMS mission provided more precise observations than ever before. Flying in a pyramid formation at the edge of Earth’s magnetic field with as little as 10 kilometers’ distance between four identical spacecraft, MMS images electrons within the pyramid once every 30 milliseconds. In contrast, MMS’ predecessor, the European Space Agency and NASA’s Cluster II mission, takes measurements once every three seconds—enough time for MMS to make 100 measurements.

The four MMS spacecraft fly in a tightly controlled tetrahedral (pyramid) shape that can be re-scaled by changing the distances between each spacecraft. MMS can image the behavior of electrons within this tetrahedron once every 30 milliseconds—providing 100X greater resolution than previous efforts. Image credit: NASA GSFC “Just looking at the data from MMS is extraordinary. The level of detail allows us to see things that were previously a blur,” explained Drake, who served on the MMS science team and also advised the engineering team on the requirements for MMS instrumentation. “With a time interval of three seconds, seeing reconnection with Cluster II was impossible. But the quality of the MMS data is absolutely inspiring. It’s not clear that there will ever be another mission quite like this one.”

Simply observing reconnection in detail is an important milestone. But a major goal of the MMS mission is to determine how magnetic field lines briefly break, enabling reconnection and energy release to happen. Measuring the behavior of electrons in a reconnection event will enable a more accurate description of how reconnection works; in particular, whether it occurs in a neat and orderly process, or in a turbulent, stormlike swirl of energy and particles. 

A clearer picture of the physics of reconnection will also bring us one step closer to understanding space weather—including whether solar flares and magnetic storms follow any sort of predictable pattern like weather here on Earth. Reconnection can also help scientists understand other, more energetic astrophysical phenomena such as magnetars, which are neutron stars with an unusually strong magnetic field.

“Understanding reconnection is relevant to a whole range of scientific questions in solar physics and astrophysics,” said Marc Swisdak, an associate research scientist in UMD’s Institute for Research in Electronics and Applied Physics. Swisdak is not a co-author on the Science paper, but he is actively collaborating with Drake and others on subsequent analyses of the MMS data.

“Reconnection in Earth’s magnetic field is relatively low energy, but we can get a good sense of what is happening if we extrapolate to more energetic systems,” Swisdak added. “The edge of Earth’s magnetic field is an excellent test lab, as it’s just about the only place where we can fly a spacecraft directly through a region where reconnection occurs.”

To date, MMS has focused only on the sun-facing side of Earth’s magnetic field. In the future, the mission is slated to fly to the opposite side to investigate the teardrop-shaped tail of the magnetic field that faces away from the sun. 

The research paper, “Electron-Scale Measurements of Magnetic Reconnection in Space,” James Burch et al., is published in the journal Science on May 13, 2016.

In addition to Drake, UMD co-authors include Li-Jen Chen, associate research scientist in astronomy, and Shan Wang, postdoctoral associate in astronomy.

Vibrant Mixed-Use Development to Transform Southern Gateway at University of Maryland

May 12, 2016

Katie Lawson, University of Maryland, 301-405-4622

Residential community, restaurants, retail spaces and grocery store will anchor new, dynamic district in Downtown College Park

COLLEGE PARK, Md. – A vibrant new development is in the works that will dramatically change the southern edge of downtown College Park.  The University of Maryland today announced plans to redevelop the Quality Inn, and several adjacent businesses, into a grocery-anchored, mixed-use community featuring upscale residences, restaurants and retail. 

Credit: Design Collective

The project involves collaboration between Bozzuto, Willard Retail, and the University of Maryland College Park Foundation, the entity that will acquire the property in early 2017.  This $110 million project is a signature piece of the University’s Greater College Park initiative, an ongoing effort to rapidly revitalize the Baltimore Avenue corridor and academic campus. 

“We are thrilled to contribute toward this transformative project at the southern gateway to our campus,” said Peter Weiler, Vice President, University Relations and President of the UMCP Foundation. “The strength and retail expertise of our partners, Bozzuto and Willard Retail, will deliver this
transformative market-leading community to the City
of College Park.”

The project, slated to break ground in 2018, will create a town-center atmosphere within steps of the campus, complete with 300 luxury apartments.  Modelled after a similar project that helped invigorate the area around Catholic University in Northeast D.C., this project is designed to create a welcoming atmosphere as visitors arrive on campus via Baltimore Avenue. It will also serve and enhance the amenities available to the community of more than 50,000 students, faculty and staff at UMD.

“We are grateful to have been selected to develop this wonderful project with the University of Maryland College Park Foundation, the University of Maryland, the City of College Park, Prince George’s County, and Willard Retail,” said Toby Bozzuto, President and CEO, Bozzuto.  “The combination of our previous experience developing Monroe Street Market with Catholic University and the strength of our partners will create a community to complement the University’s ongoing redevelopment efforts in downtown College Park. This is a rare opportunity to develop a project with transformative potential and we are proud of our stake in this extraordinary collaboration.”

Credit: Design CollectiveCounty and city leaders echo the enthusiasm. “I am thrilled to see Bozzuto, one of Prince George's County’s most important companies, partner with one of our most important economic resources, the University of Maryland,” said Prince George’s County Executive Rushern L. Baker, III. “Over the past five years since the arrival of President Wallace Loh, we have seen a transformational change in housing, retail, employment, and transportation options along Baltimore Avenue and in the College Park area.  With Bozzuto's involvement, I have confidence that this premier development will bring quality and vitality to the southern portion of College Park, making that area more attractive to new residents, as well as to
students, faculty, and staff associated with the

"Remaking Baltimore Avenue as College Park's walkable main street is a key element of the University District Vision 2020," said Senator Jim Rosapepe, chair of the College Park City/University Partnership, which drafted the vision that was endorsed by UMD and the city. "This project, focused on residences and a grocery store designed with families and the community in mind, is a big step forward."

 “With The Hotel at the main gate, and this new project at the southern edge of the city, College Park is now bookended by transformative developments supported by the UMCP Foundation,” said Weiler.  “We are proud to play such an important role in creating a Greater College Park.”


Photo Credit: Design Collective

University of Maryland to Host Spring 2016 Commencement

May 11, 2016

Alana Carchedi 301-405-0235

COLLEGE PARK, Md. – The class of 2016 will celebrate the culmination of their University of Maryland experience as they arrive in caps and gowns to officially become college graduates on Wednesday, May 18, 2016 at the Xfinity Center. The University of Maryland will award 5,898 bachelor’s degrees, 1,682 master’s degrees and 584 doctoral degrees.


This year’s spring commencement will feature an address from UMD alumnus and Under Armour Founder and CEO Kevin Plank. University of Maryland President Wallace D. Loh will also take the podium to congratulate the graduates as a group. 

Rachel George, graduating with dual degrees in marketing and English, will deliver the student remarks. George was a participant in the QUEST Honors Program and Maryland Social Entrepreneur Corps and a photographer for UMD’s student newspaper, The Diamondback. Iowis Zhu, the University Medalist who is graduating with a double degree in biochemistry and biological sciences, will also address his fellow graduates. Zhu was a Banneker/Key Scholar and a student in the Honors College’s Integrated Life Sciences Program. He won a renowned Goldwater Scholarship and was inducted into Omicron Delta Kappa.


  • University of Maryland President Wallace D. Loh
  • UMD Alumnus and Under Armour Founder and CEO Kevin Plank 
  • Student Commencement Speaker Rachel George
  • University Medalist Iowis Zhu
  • Class of 2016 University of Maryland Graduates


Wednesday, May 18, 2016

  • Processional – 6:20 p.m. 
  • Ceremony – 7:00 p.m. 

*Media should arrive by 6:20 p.m., prior to the processional*


Xfinity Center, University of Maryland, College Park
Xfinity Center is located on Paint Branch Dr. near the intersection of Paint Branch Dr. and Route 193 (University Blvd.) Click here for directions. 


Media must park in lot 9B and enter the Xfinity Center through Gate C, located on the ground level, to the right of the main entrance steps. Media must show their credentials to be admitted into the building without a ticket.

Risers, tables and a mult box will be available to media.


The ceremony will be streamed live on the University of Maryland’s YouTube channel: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-3fI4hz5aR4  


Follow the conversation on social media and join in using #UMDGrad.

For more information, visit http://commencement.umd.edu

University of Maryland, College Park & University of Maryland, Baltimore Open SAFE Center in College Park

May 9, 2016

Kristen Seabolt, 301-405-4621

Support, Advocacy, Freedom and Empowerment Center to provide services and resources
to survivors of human trafficking

niversity of Maryland SAFE (Support, Advocacy, Freedom and Empowerment) Center for Human Trafficking Survivors

COLLEGE PARK, Md. – The University of Maryland, College Park and University of Maryland, Baltimore today announced the opening of the University of Maryland SAFE (Support, Advocacy, Freedom and Empowerment) Center for Human Trafficking Survivors in College Park, Md.

Located near the College Park campus, the SAFE Center will draw on the combined resources and the wide range of disciplines of both UMCP and UMB to address human trafficking. Through in-house services and collaborative partnerships, the center will provide direct services to U.S. and foreign-born adult and child survivors of sex and labor trafficking, with a particular focus on survivors in Prince George’s and Montgomery counties. The center is designed to fill an unmet need in the region.

“These young people have survived betrayal and violence and desperately need this safe harbor to rebuild their lives,” said University of Maryland President Wallace D. Loh. “The services they receive through this strategic partnership will truly empower their recovery.”

The SAFE Center is an interdisciplinary service, research and advocacy initiative of UMCP and UMB through its formal collaborative program for innovation, University of Maryland: MPowering the State. Researchers from both universities will come together to expand the scholarship on human trafficking, and UMCP and UMB students will become the next generation of trafficking experts and survivor advocates.

“The University of Maryland, Baltimore is honored to partner with the University of Maryland, College Park to alleviate the devastating impact human trafficking has on our community, here in Maryland and globally,” said University of Maryland, Baltimore President Jay A. Perman, MD. "This partnership is an excellent example of how our two universities can work together to make each institution stronger and develop real-world solutions that benefit our communities. At the SAFE Center, experts from the University of Maryland School of Social Work and the University of Maryland Francis King Carey School of Law will conduct groundbreaking research into human trafficking and will work closely with survivors to help them realize bright futures outside of this exploitative illegal industry. We are excited to see the innovative real-world solutions that are sure to develop from this promising collaboration.”

At a formal ceremony today, officials from both universities, Prince George’s and Montgomery counties, and the state of Maryland launched the center, including Susan G. Esserman, Founder and Director of the SAFE Center. Esserman, a partner at Steptoe & Johnson, is a leader of the law firm’s pro bono program on behalf of trafficking victims and has represented numerous survivors in Prince George’s County.

"Most people would be shocked to know the serious extent of the human trafficking problem in our Maryland communities,” said Esserman. “Vulnerable and marginalized people are being forced and coerced into commercial sex and forced labor less than two miles from the College Park campus.  We saw a need for services for trafficking survivors in Prince George's and Montgomery counties, and we're fortunate that the University of Maryland has stepped in to help fill this enormous need through the SAFE Center.”

In addition to providing survivor-centered and trauma-informed services that empower trafficking survivors to heal and reclaim their lives, the SAFE Center will also help to prevent trafficking and better serve survivors through research and policy advocacy. The center will collaborate with the Prince George’s County, Montgomery County, and Maryland human trafficking taskforces—as well as local service providers, shelters, law enforcement, federal, state, and local agencies, and survivors themselves—to share best practices and make services more accessible. SAFE Center programs include:

  • Direct Services:  Through in-house services and collaboration with partners, the SAFE Center will provide intensive case management, legal services, counselling services, basic primary medical care and economic empowerment programs.
  • Research: The center will collaborate with community organizations and human trafficking task forces to identify critical research gaps. It will work with interdisciplinary university departments to address those gaps and contribute to the body of knowledge in the human trafficking field.
  • Advocacy: As an outgrowth of research and direct service provision, the SAFE Center will develop and support policy initiatives in collaboration with stakeholders.

For more information on the University of Maryland SAFE Center, visit www.umdsafecenter.org.

The Brendan Iribe Center for Computer Science and Innovation

May 5, 2016

The University of Maryland celebrates the groundbreaking of the Brendan Iribe Center for Computer Science and Innovation, a new building designed for future-focused developments in computer vision, robotics, artificial intelligence, virtual reality, augmented reality, and new computing platforms.

University of Maryland & The Phillips Collection Announce 2016-2017 Postdoctoral Fellows

May 5, 2016

Kristen Seabolt 301-405-4621

Fellowships allow recipients to work with The Phillips’s modern and contemporary art collection and UMD's art history and virtual technologies leadership programs

COLLEGE PARK, Md. & WASHINGTON, D.C. – The University of Maryland and The Phillips Collection have announced two postdoctoral fellows for the 2016-2017 academic year. The fellowships will allow the recipients to work with The Phillips’s exceptional collection of modern and contemporary art and the university’s leadership programs in art historical scholarship, interdisciplinary experimentation, and virtual technologies.

The fellowships are a major component of the University of Maryland and The Phillips Collection’s vibrant partnership to transform scholarship and innovation in the arts. During the academic year, both fellows are expected to be in residence in Washington, D.C., at the University of Maryland Center for Art and Knowledge at The Phillips Collection. Each fellow will teach one undergraduate or graduate course at the Center or at the University of Maryland, present at least one public lecture, and participate in other programs and discussions with scholars, critics, museum staff, and students at the museum and the university. 

The Fellowship in Modern and Contemporary Art History, which will support research and teaching on topics in American, European, or non-western art of all media from 1780 to the present, was awarded to Dr. Max Rosenberg. Dr. Rosenberg is currently a Visiting Assistant Professor in the History of Art and Design Department at Pratt Institute in Brooklyn, New York. A scholar of postwar German art, he will work on two separate publications based on his dissertation, “Transforming Documenta: Art, Legitimacy and Modernity in Postwar West Germany,” which he successfully defended in 2015. The first publication will be a peer-reviewed article on the critical and artistic climate of postwar West Germany for an Art History or German Studies journal; the second, a book that will expand his research on the Swiss curator Harald Szeemann and his transformative fifth Documenta exhibition in 1972.

During his fellowship, Dr. Rosenberg plans to teach an advanced seminar that would evaluate abstract painting after World War II in different national or cultural contexts.

The Fellowship in Virtual Culture, which will research emerging forms of virtual culture and the advancement of technology to enhance and enrich the museum visitor's experience, was awarded to Nicole Riesenberger. She is expected to defend her dissertation in May 2016. As a Graduate Assistant in Digital Art History, Ms. Riesenberger has worked at the Michelle Smith Collaboratory for Visual Culture at the University of Maryland on researching emerging forms of virtual culture and designed digital initiatives. She also developed digital media for an interactive augmented reality application that improves experience and accessibility for museum visitors at the Riversdale House Museum.

During her fellowship, Ms. Riesenberger will work closely with Phillips’s curatorial, education, and AV staff as well as with the University of Maryland’s Institute for Advanced Computer Studies to create a pilot virtual reality project with attention to measurable outcomes.

For more information on the postdoctoral fellowship program, visit http://www.phillipscollection.org/learn/center-for-art-and-knowledge/pos...


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