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Northrop Grumman Foundation Renews Commitment to UMD's Honors College Cybersecurity Program with $2.76M Gift

November 23, 2015
Contacts: 

Crystal Brown, UMD, 301-405-4618
Mark Root, Northrop Grumman, 703-280-2739

Funding Will Spur Program Growth by Supporting Additional Staffing, Programming,
Scholarships and Facilities for Upperclassmen

COLLEGE PARK, Md. – The University of Maryland today announced a renewed commitment of $2.76 million from the Northrop Grumman Foundation to its Advanced Cybersecurity Experience for Students (ACES) program. 

The ACES program – the nation’s first honors program in cybersecurity – was launched by UMD's Honors College in 2012 with support from the Northrop Grumman Foundation to address a critical, national strategic need. Since its inception, the ACES program has offered 65 percent more credits than originally targeted and served 50 percent more students than originally anticipated. ACES began as a living-learning program for freshman and sophomore students. With this renewed commitment, the program will now expand to offer a more advanced cybersecurity curriculum to juniors and seniors, culminating in an ACES minor.

"The support that the Northrop Grumman Foundation has committed in support of the ACES program shows how important this type of workforce is to the nation," says Mary Ann Rankin, UMD's senior vice president and provost. "This generous gift will allow us to continue to educate and train our students to be future cybersecurity leaders and meet the growing needs in the nation and state."

"We are delighted with the growth of the ACES program and the surge of interest among students from several dozen different disciplines at the University of Maryland," says Sandra Evers-Manly, President, Northrop Grumman Foundation. "We hope that our continued support will help the program reach and attract an even greater and more diverse population of students."

The gift from the Northrop Grumman Foundation will allow ACES to prepare a larger, more diverse student body for leadership roles in this burgeoning field through extended instruction and program administration; an enhanced experiential learning environment; scholarships for recruiting and retaining a diverse, high-achieving student body; and dedicated spaces on campus for the ACES program to thrive. 

"The ACES curriculum delivers a unique, interdisciplinary perspective of cybersecurity across many sectors with an emphasis on experiential learning. This breadth of expertise is a crucial foundation for the program's success in forming future cybersecurity leaders," says ACES Director Michel Cukier. "The support from Northrop Grumman will allow us to expand our current breadth by hiring full-time instructors and engaging experts from industry and government, developing a larger infrastructure for experiential learning and in turn, giving us the ability to adapt to cybersecurity’s changing demands."

One of the highest priorities of the Honors College is to recruit an academically high-achieving and diverse student body. With the additional funding, UMD will expand its recruitment efforts, including collaboration with the UMD ROTC programs and campus veterans, increased visibility in Maryland community colleges, and investment in K-12 cybersecurity-related programs. 

In addition, the Northrop Grumman ACES Scholarship Program will offer scholarships to first-generation college students and those with financial need, as well as veteran, ROTC and transfer students. New scholarship funds will also support study-abroad opportunities, and travel to national conferences and competitions. 

The Honors College will also launch a new ACES cybersecurity lab. This research-grade facility will offer upper-level students fully isolated, state-of-the-art technology and software to model the latest security challenges through direct instruction, team-building activities and independent and group study.

The University of Maryland was recently awarded the Association of Public and Land-grant Universities' top award – the Connections Award – which honors an institution working to build connections between innovation and entrepreneurship, talent development, and social, community and cultural development. UMD was named a winner in part for its ACES partnership with the Northrop Grumman Foundation to help supply trained workers to serve the cyber community.

To learn more about the ACES program, visit www.aces.umd.edu

About the Honors College
The Honors College is home to UMD’s highly acclaimed living-learning programs for students with exceptional academic talents. The Honors College welcomes students into a close-knit community of faculty and intellectually gifted undergraduates committed to acquiring a broad and balanced education. The Honors College features small classes taught by an outstanding faculty who encourage discussion and foster innovative thinking. For more information, visit www.honors.umd.edu.

Early Childhood Exposure to Medicaid Linked to Better Adult Health

November 20, 2015
Contacts: 

Kelly Blake 301-405-9418

COLLEGE PARK, Md. – Expanding publicly funded health insurance to low-income children could have long-term benefits for adult health, according to new research from the University of Maryland School of Public Health. Published in the Journal of Health Economics, the study found that exposure to Medicaid in early childhood, from conception through age 5, is associated with significant improvements in adult health (age 25 to 54). The research suggests that the improvement in health may be linked to greater access to and use of health services by children whose families received Medicaid, and a decreased economic burden on families from medical expenses and debt. 

“There’s growing recognition that what happens to you as a child is carried with you throughout life,” said Dr. Michel H. Boudreaux, lead researcher and assistant professor in the Department of Health Services Administration at UMD. “Investing in young children could have important payoffs and our study suggests that the benefits of Medicaid may persist for decades into the future.”

Considerable research has shown short-term benefits from health programs for low-income children, but little research has examined the long-term effects of Medicaid and similar programs on health and economic status. Medicaid is a major federal program that provides coverage to 35 percent (28 million) of children under age 19 (according to a 2013 study) and accounts for 8 percent of all federal spending (according to a 2012 study). As the Affordable Care Act has led to expansion of Medicaid in some states, while others states have opted out, understanding the long-term effects of investments in children’s health is of increasing importance.

Capitalizing on the staggered roll-out of Medicaid across US states, largely in the late 1960s Dr. Boudreaux and his colleagues were able to isolate Medicaid’s impact during early childhood on the midlife health and economic status of low-income children. Rather than examine individual families’ use of Medicaid services, researchers compared the period of time from conception to sixth birthday that low-income children were eligible for Medicaid. Using data on adults from the Panel Study of Income Dynamics, researchers compared cohorts who had no opportunity to receive Medicaid in early childhood, some exposure, and full exposure from conception through age five.

Greater exposure to Medicaid during early childhood was associated with a significant and meaningful improvement in midlife health using a composite index that combines information on high blood pressure, diabetes, heart disease/heart attack, and obesity. Low-income children’s exposure to Medicaid throughout early childhood relative to no exposure is associated with a 22 percent decrease in the prevalence of high blood pressure among adults. Researchers also examined the economic impact of exposure to Medicaid in early childhood on adult economic status, but were unable to show a significant association.

Dr. Boudreaux points to two mechanisms that link early childhood Medicaid exposure to adult health outcomes: childhood health service use and family medical debt. Researchers found that Medicaid exposure increased hospital usage by low-income children four percent during early childhood and that Medicaid’s introduction is associated with a decrease in medical debt in households that have children, freeing up resources that could be invested in kids in other ways. 

“The Long-Term Impacts of Medicaid Exposure in Early Childhood: Evidence from the Program’s Origin” was written by Michel H. Boudreaux, Ezra Golberstein, and Donna D. McAlpine and published in the Journal of Health Economics on November 19, 2015.

Terps Against Hunger

November 20, 2015

Did you know 1 in 6 households doesn't have enough food? Terps Against Hunger is working to change that. During Homecoming week this year, they brought thousands of UMD community members together to package 250,000 meals for local communities in need. #UMDinspires

Improving Fitness May Counteract Brain Atrophy in Older Adults

November 20, 2015
Contacts: 

Kelly Blake 301-405-9418

COLLEGE PARK, Md. – Older adults that improved their fitness through a moderate intensity exercise program increased the thickness of their brain’s cortex, the outer layer of the brain that typically atrophies with Alzheimer’s disease, according to a new study from the University of Maryland School of Public Health.  These effects were found in both healthy older adults and those diagnosed with mild cognitive impairment (MCI), an early stage of Alzheimer’s disease.

Dr. J. Carson Smith, associate professor of kinesiology and senior author of the study“Exercise may help to reverse neurodegeneration and the trend of brain shrinkage that we see in those with MCI and Alzheimer’s,” says Dr. J. Carson Smith, associate professor of kinesiology and senior author of the study, published in the Journal of the International Neuropsychological Society on Nov. 19, 2015. “Many people think it is too late to intervene with exercise once a person shows symptoms of memory loss, but our data suggest that exercise may have a benefit in this early stage of cognitive decline.”

The previously physically inactive participants, ages 61-88, were put on an exercise regimen that included moderate intensity walking on a treadmill four times a week over a twelve-week period. On average, cardiorespiratory fitness improved by about 8 percent as a result of the training in both the healthy and MCI participants.

The atrophy of the brain’s cortical layer is a marker of Alzheimer’s disease progression and correlates with symptoms including cognitive impairment. Dr. Smith and colleagues found that the study participants who showed the greatest improvements in fitness had the most growth in the cortical layer, including both the group diagnosed with MCI and the healthy elders. While both groups showed strong associations between increased fitness and increased cortical thickness after the intervention, the MCI participants showed greater improvements compared to healthy group in the left insula and superior temporal gyrus, two brain regions that have been shown to exhibit accelerated neurodegeneration in Alzheimer’s disease. 

Moderate intensity physical activity, such as walking for 30 minutes 3-4 days per week, may protect brain health in older adults.Dr. Smith previously reported that the participants in this exercise intervention showed improvements in neural efficiency during memory recall, and these new data add to the evidence for the positive impact of exercise on cognitive function. Other research he has published has also shown that moderate intensity physical activity, such as walking for 30 minutes 3-4 days per week, may protect brain health by staving off shrinkage of the hippocampus in older adults. 

This is the first study to show that exercise and improved fitness can impact cortical thickness in older adults diagnosed with mild cognitive impairment.  Dr. Smith plans future studies that include more participants engaging in a longer-term exercise intervention to see if greater improvements can be seen over time, and if the effects persist over the long term. The key unanswered question is if regular moderate intensity physical activity could reverse or delay cognitive decline and help keep people out of nursing homes and enable them to maintain their independence as they age.  

New "UMD Guardian" Mobile App Promotes Campus Safety

November 19, 2015
Contacts: 

Rosanne Hoaas 301-405-9960

COLLEGE PARK, Md. – The University of Maryland Police Department announces the launch of a new mobile safety app called "UMD Guardian" to the campus community. The UMD Guardian app enhances safety on campus through real-time, interactive features that create a virtual safety network of friends, family and UMPD.

"The UMD Guardian app will empower UMD students, faculty and staff to take a leading role in their safety by transforming any cell phone into a personal safety device," says UMPD Chief David Mitchell. 

The UMD Guardian app is designed to give UMD students, faculty and staff rapid and proactive communications with UMPD, friends, family and co-workers, and even 911 in the event of an emergency. 

The UMD Guardian app's features include: 

  • Create a safety profile: User-created profiles can contain information such as residence, medical conditions, and a photo. When a call or text is made from the app to UMPD or 911, the dispatcher automatically receives the profile information.  
  • Manage & message your Guardians: Invite family, friends, co-workers, UMPD, or others to be your Guardian, and communicate with them within the app as needed. 
  • Set a safety timer: Notify people you trust, or your "Guardians," to check in on you if you are alone or in an unfamiliar place.
  • Easy emergency communication: Call safety officials directly for help if you are in trouble, and send texts, including photos, if you see something suspicious or are unable to speak. 

The UMD Guardian app is available to all current UMD students, faculty and staff with an active university ID. However, anyone may download the Rave Guardian app, including friends and family, and become a Guardian.  

The app is available for download through the Apple App Store and Google Play. 

For more information about UMD Guardian, visit http://umpdnews.umd.edu/umdguardian.

UMD & Army Researchers Discover Solution to Better, Safer Batteries

November 19, 2015
Contacts: 

Lee Tune 301-405-4679

 

Greatest potential uses seen in safety-critical, automotive and grid-storage applications

COLLEGE PARK, Md. – A team of researchers from the University of Maryland and the U.S. Army Research Laboratory (ARL) have devised a groundbreaking “Water-in-Salt” aqueous Lithium ion battery technology that could provide power, efficiency and longevity comparable to today's Lithium-ion batteries, but without the fire risk, poisonous chemicals and environmental hazards of current Lithium batteries. 

The team of researchers, led by Chunsheng Wang, an associate professor in UMD’s Department of Chemical & Biomolecular Engineering, and Kang Xu, senior research chemist at the Sensor and Electron Devices Directorate of ARL, said their work, published this week in the journal Science, demonstrates a major advance in the long history of water-based (aqueous) batteries by doubling the voltage, or power, of an aqueous battery. 

U.S. Army Spc. Paul Varn monitors the [battery powered] satellite communications radio at an observation point along the Afghanistan-Pakistan border in Kunar province, Afghanistan, Jan. 21, 2013. Varn, a communications specialist, is assigned to the 101st Airborne Division's 1st Brigade Combat Team. U.S. Army Photo by Sgt. Jon Heinrich. The researchers said their technology holds great promise, particularly in applications that involve large energies at kilowatt or megawatt levels, such as electric vehicles, or grid-storage devices for energy harvest systems, and in applications where battery safety and toxicity are primary concerns, such as safe, non-flammable batteries for airplanes, naval vessels or spaceships, and in medical devices like pacemakers. 

“Through this work we were able to increase the electrochemical window of aqueous electrolyte from less than 1.5 Volts to ~ 3.0 Volts and demonstrated high voltage aqueous full Lithium-ion cell with 2.3 Volts, showing for the first time that aqueous batteries could seriously compete in terms of power and energy density with the non-aqueous lithium-ion batteries that power our mobile, digital lifestyle” said Wang, who also is affiliated with the University of Maryland Energy Research Center and the Maryland NanoCenter.  

According to Lt. Col. (Retired) Edward Shaffer, who heads the Army Research Laboratory’s Energy and Power Division, the significant potential advantages this new approach has over current batteries “could lead to thermally, chemically and environmentally safer batteries carried and worn by soldiers; safe, reduced-footprint energy storage for confined spaces, particularly submarines; and novel hybrid power solutions for military platforms and systems.”

Researchers Wang, Xu and colleagues found that the key to their breakthrough was the use of a type of water-based electrolyte containing ultrahigh concentrations of a carefully selected Lithium salt. This approach transformed the battery’s chemistry, resulting in the formation of a thin protective film on the anode electrode for the very first time in a water-based battery. Known in battery science as a “Solid Electrolyte Interphase (SEI),” such a protective and stabilizing film is essential to the high performance characteristics of state-of-the-art Li-ion batteries. It previously has been achieved only in non-aqueous electrolytes. 

 “What's most important about our work is the breakthrough made at the fundamental level,” said UMD Postdoctoral Research Associate Liumin Suo, who is a member of Wang’s research group and first author of the Science paper. “Prior to this work no one thought it possible to form SEI  in water-based [batteries], but we demonstrated that it can happen.” 

The UMD & ARL team compared the performance of their new “Water-in-Salt” battery with that of other aqueous battery systems. They showed that high stability of other aqueous batteries was achieved only at the expense of voltage and energy density and vice versa. However, the formation of an anode/electrolyte interphase in their “Water-in-Salt” electrolyte allowed them to break this inverse relationship between cycling stability and high voltage and to achieve both simultaneously.

"Researchers in the Li-ion battery field have recently found that previously ‘useless’ solvents could be made functional in Li-ion cells through the addition of high concentrations of salts. The work by Suo et al., extends this idea to the case of the solvent, water.  By extending the operational voltage window to approximately 3 Volts, it is possible that a new generation of safer and possibly less expensive Li-ion cells could result,” said Dalhousie University (Nova Scotia) Professor Jeff Dahn, a leading battery researcher, who was not involved in the study. 

“Only further R&D efforts will be able to verify the practicality of this discovery, so prudence is needed in assessing the potential of this, or any basic research advance,” said Dahn, the NSERC-3M Canada Industrial Research Chair in Materials for Advanced Batteries.

“Our finding opens an entirely new avenue to aqueous electrochemical devices, not only batteries, but also devices like supercapacitors and electroplating devices,” said Xu.

This research received funding from the Department of Energy, Advanced Research Projects Agency-Energy (ARPA-E) (DEAR0000389) and support from the Maryland NanoCenter and its Nanoscale Imaging Spectroscopy & Properties Laboratory. This UMD lab is  supported in part by the National Science Foundation. Modeling efforts were supported by the ARL Enterprise for Multiscale Research of Materials. 

UMD Signs on as Key Player in White House Day of Climate Action

November 19, 2015
Contacts: 

Graham Binder 301-405-4076

UMD pledges to integrate climate change and sustainability into research and education mission;
Commits to achieving net carbon neutrality by 2050

COLLEGE PARK, MD –  University of Maryland leadership will convene at the White House along with other higher education institutions to collectively call for action on climate change, while encouraging a strong agreement at COP21 in Paris that ultimately sets a viable path towards a low-carbon, sustainable future.

In advance of this conference, UMD submitted a pledge to the White House which promised to integrate climate change and sustainability efforts into its research and education mission, with a commitment to achieve net carbon neutrality by 2050. Recent cross-campus research and education endeavors include working with local jurisdictions through the Partnership for Action Learning in Sustainability (PALs) program, new battery technology taken from the laboratory through marketplace, and monitoring global deforestation trends. 

Other components of the pledge include:

  • Eliminating 50 percent of net greenhouse gas emissions from campus operations, commuting, air travel, and solid waste disposal by 2020.
  • Reducing campus electricity consumption by 20 percent by 2020. 
  • Incorporating on-site and off-site renewable energy production and ensuring that 100 percent of electricity purchased for campus is renewable by 2020.
  • Developing and innovating low-carbon power generation and energy efficiency technologies.
  • Mobilizing the full university to catalyze a robust and long-term global climate implementation effort post-Paris.
  • Organizing and partnering with other international research institutions to provide decision-makers at the global, national and local levels with the necessary tools to support the new climate regime.

The pledge supports the university’s comprehensive climate action plan, which was produced by the Office of Sustainability and several key campus collaborators with an emphasis on long term commitment to climate change action and sustainability.  

“The University of Maryland is resolute in its commitment to climate change action and sustainability and we look forward to deepening the dialogue with fellow higher education institutions at the White House Day of Climate Action,” said Robert Orr, Dean of the School of Public Policy at UMD. “Looking ahead, we are hopeful that negotiations in Paris will catalyze significant worldwide change, and that this university will serve as a central hub for enhanced U.S. and global climate change policy.”

“Changing the global climate begins locally, and this campus pledges to meet its commitment of carbon neutrality by 2050,” said UMD President Wallace D. Loh. “As world leaders prepare to conclude a landmark agreement next month, we will create a more favorable climate for sustainability through our research and education.”

Today’s White House Day of Climate Change will welcome students and school leadership from across the country in conjunction with high-level government officials, celebrities, NGOs, and business leaders. This live-streamed event strives to facilitate a meaningful dialogue on climate change solutions to amplify a powerful voice among young influencers, and will serve as a springboard to launch the White House’s Defend Our Future pledge students can sign to demonstrate their support.

University of Maryland Dedicates Frederick Douglass Square to Honor Maryland's Native Son

November 18, 2015
Contacts: 

Crystal Brown 301-405-4621

71/2-foot-tall bronze Douglass statue unveiled,
memorializing Douglass as an enduring role model for social justice

COLLEGE PARK, Md. – The University of Maryland dedicated a memorial on campus to honor abolitionist Frederick Douglass, a son of Maryland who has come to represent America’s quest for freedom, liberty and the rights of all people in a democracy. 

The square is a commemorative public space centered on UMD’s Hornbake Plaza, a prominent campus location and hub of student activity. The square features stone pavers and a vertical corten wall, both engraved to highlight Douglass’ words. The wall is built in planters filled with native Irish and Maryland plants to represent Douglass’ roots in Maryland and Irish supporters abroad. In the center, an 71/2-foot-tall bronze statue portrays an urgent and youthful Douglass in Ireland, created by renowned sculptor Andrew Edwards and inspired by the Frederick Douglass Ireland Project

At the formal dedication and unveiling ceremony, UMD officials commemorated Douglass’ life and legacy, including University President Wallace D. Loh; Dean of the College of Arts and Humanities Bonnie Thornton Dill; and Distinguished University Professor and internationally recognized expert on slavery, Ira Berlin. In addition, special guests from Douglass’ family, Nettie Washington Douglass (great-great-granddaughter of Frederick Douglass and great-granddaughter of Booker T. Washington) and Kenneth B. Morris Jr. (great-great-great-grandson), paid tribute to Douglass.   

UMD President Wallace Loh with special guests from Frederick Douglass' family, Nettie Washington Douglass (great-great-granddaughter of Frederick Douglass and great-granddaughter of Booker T. Washington) and Kenneth B. Morris Jr. (great-great-great-grandson of Frederick Douglass). “Frederick Douglass’ soaring words on racial justice and the transformative power of education resonate as fully today as they did in his lifetime,” said University of Maryland President Wallace D. Loh. 

For more than five years, a group of campus leaders called the North Stars worked to secure funding and approve architectural and landscape designs for the square. The total cost of the square amounted to $575,000, which included funding from UMD, private donations, the Maryland Commission on African American History and Culture, and the Maryland Historical Trust, which is part of the Maryland Department of Planning. 

“Frederick Douglass Square was created to teach what Douglass has advocated, as well as what he continues to inspire us to do,” said Distinguished University Professor Ira Berlin, who spearheaded the North Stars group. “We memorialize Frederick Douglass in the center of campus in a space that is both classroom and monument. It is a place to contemplate and celebrate the ideals that Douglass exemplified.”

In addition to the square, the work of Frederick Douglass is intertwined into the research and curriculum of the university in many ways. UMD Libraries houses an interpretive exhibition featuring the images and works of Frederick Douglass. The exhibition, “Frederick Douglas: Scholarship and Legacy,” provides insight into Frederick Douglass’ life and legacy, and is organized by three themes that exemplify Douglass scholarship at UMD, including Mark Leone’s archaeological investigations into Douglass and other enslaved people in Maryland; Ira Berlin’s scholarship on the history of slavery that helps one see Douglass as an international human rights leader; and Robert Levine’s cultural and historical scholarship on 19th-century American literature that illuminates Douglass’ role as a dynamic orator and brilliant writer. The exhibition includes a digital installation featuring Douglass portraits and quotes, as well as archaeological artifacts from the early 19th-century plantation landscape that he remembered as a child. 

Frederick Augustus Washington Bailey was born a slave in Talbot County, Maryland in 1818. He was later sent to a family in Baltimore, where he secretly taught himself to read and write. After a failed escape attempt in 1836, he eventually fled to New York two years later, changed his name to Frederick Douglass, and joined the abolitionist movement to end slavery. 

In 1845, Douglass traveled to Ireland focused on the abolition of slavery in the American south, however left with a much broader perspective. After meeting Irish Catholics who were also born into servitude and the “Great Emancipator” of Irish Catholics, Daniel O’Connell, Douglass became an advocate for the liberty and equality of all, whatever their race, sex, religion or nationality. Douglass became an internationally famous advocate for human rights. He lectured throughout the North and Europe, wrote a series of autobiographies and published a weekly newspaper. 

Four decades after he escaped slavery, Douglass returned to Talbot County. He met with his former owners’ family, visited his birthplace, addressed crowds at the courthouse, and in 1877, dedicated the new Asbury Methodist Episcopal and Bethel African Methodist Episcopal church buildings in Easton, Maryland. Still, he continued the fight for equality and the rights of black people, women, Native Americans, immigrants and working peoples. He died in 1895.  

Additional information on the statue and a statement from the artist can be found here

UMD Honored at 2015 Innovation & Economic Prosperity University Awards

November 17, 2015
Contacts: 

Kristen Seabolt 301-405-4621

UMD recognized for exemplary initiatives in promoting economic development by
the Association of Public and Land-grant Universities

COLLEGE PARK, Md. – The University of Maryland was honored at the 2015 Innovation & Economic Prosperity (IEP) University Awards by the Association of Public and Land-grant Universities (APLU).  UMD took home the top honor, the Connections Award, which recognizes an institution working to build connections between innovation and entrepreneurship, talent development, and social, community and cultural development. The award winners were announced today at APLU’s annual meeting in Indianapolis. 

UMD won the Connections Award in part for its partnership with Northrop Grumman to create the Advanced Cybersecurity Experiences for Students (ACES), a program which helps to supply trained workers to serve the cyber community. In addition, UMD announced earlier this year its plans for Greater College Park, an initiative which ties together many efforts supporting the university’s goal of becoming a premier college town.  It focuses on dynamic academic spaces, a vibrant downtown community and a public-private research hub that brings together businesses and the university’s academic community. 

Brian Darmody, Assistant Vice President for Corporate and Foundation Relations at UMD, accepted the award in Indianapolis on behalf of the university. Darmody chaired a university-wide committee – appointed by President Wallace Loh and comprised of students, faculty and staff – that developed the nomination.

"With more than one billion dollars in new construction on and off campus in the next five years, Greater College Park is in the midst of a major transformation. Coupled with new entrepreneurship programming, the region's largest number of STEM graduates, and our top ranked research programs, the university's engagement with the state, the region and businesses will only deepen," Darmody said.

In October, UMD’s M Square Research Park was named a 2015 Outstanding Research Park by the Association of University Research Parks for its achievements in innovation and entrepreneurship, as well as its partnerships with private and federal organizations and agencies. In addition, UMD was named to the 2015 class of Innovation & Economic Prosperity Universities by APLU in June. 

“I want to congratulate the students, faculty and staff at the University of Maryland for being recognized by APLU for exemplary programs in innovation, entrepreneurship, and workforce and talent development,” said Mike Gill, Secretary of the Maryland Department of Commerce. “The university’s partnerships with Northrop Grumman in cybersecurity and the National Science Foundation on lean start-ups, as well as the university’s role in launching the country’s first entrepreneurial dormitory for undergraduates are all deserving of this recognition. This is a vivid demonstration of Maryland’s leading role in the mid-Atlantic region in technology-led economic development.”

For additional information on the APLU and the IEP University Awards, click here

UMD Research on Indian Employment Act Could Impact Global Poverty Policies

November 16, 2015
Contacts: 

Laura Ours 301-405-5722

COLLEGE PARK, Md. – Researchers from the Indian Human Development Survey (IHDS) team of the Maryland Population Research Center at the University of Maryland and India’s National Council of Applied Economic Research (NCAER) released a report on a controversial rural poverty measure in India. Public works programs are used by many countries during recessions to create jobs; the Indian experiment assessed in this could potentially inform global poverty alleviation policies.

The report assesses the Mahatama Ghandi National Rural Employment Guarantee Act (MGNREGA), which passed in India in 2005 in response to a crowding of primarily female workers into low-paying, short-term jobs, mostly agricultural jobs. The act was designed to provide 100 days of work to any rural household demanding work. 

Using unique data from over 28,000 rural households surveyed before and after the implementation of the program, researchers from the NCAER and UMD examined changes in the lives of rural households as well as in the rural economy in the context of changes wrought by MGNREGA. 

The researchers found that India’s massive public works program reduces poverty and empowers women, but work rationing limits its impact.

UMD Professor of Sociology Sonalde Desai

“While MGNREGA is not without its critics—and has significant weaknesses—we found that the program reduced poverty in India by up to 33 percent for the participants, and prevented 14 million people from falling into poverty,” said
 one of the study’s authors, “Global economists have much to learn both from the success of the program and from some of its challenges. There is potential here for a model that can reduce poverty across the globe and to inform policies in developed countries during recession.”

The program was especially successful for women, the study found.  “The most striking impact of MGNREGA participation is on women. Increasingly, women dominate MGNREGA work. And for more than 40 percent of them, MGNREGA is their first opportunity to earn independent cash income. Not surprisingly, this increases their power within the household and improves their conditions, including access to health care,” Professor Desai said.

The study—“Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Act: A Catalyst for Rural Transformation” is published by NCAER. Among the study’s key additional key findings:

  • The poor are more likely to work in MGNREGA; among rural poor, 30 percent of households participate in MGNREGA compared with 21 percent of non-poor. Among households in top consumption quintile, only 10 percent participate.
  • More rural men and women are combining farm work with nonfarm labor; the proportion of men aged 15-59 working solely in agriculture fell from 41 percent in 2004–05 to 31 percent in 2011–12. For women, the decline was from 40 percent to 35 percent.
  • The report shows a declining reliance on moneylenders by MGNREGA participants; whereas 48 percent of MGNREGA participants who had obtained loans in the previous five years borrowed from moneylenders in 2004–05, only 27 percent did so in 2011–12.
  • Children from MGNREGA households are more likely to attain higher education levels and have improved learning outcomes than their peers from non-MGNREGA households.
  • Nearly 45 percent of female MGNREGA workers did not earn cash income before the Act was passed. Only 9 percent had a bank account in 2004–5, compared to 49 percent in 2011–12.
  • Participation in MGNREGA is hampered by its availability. The new report shows not all interested households can get the full 100 days of work. Of the 25 percent of participating rural households, almost 60 percent would like to work more days but cannot find more work. In non-participating households, 19 percent would have liked to participate if they could have found work. 

Professor Desai recently published an op-ed about this research in The Indian Express.

Pages

February 5
Study also finds Iranians retain negative and wary stance toward the U.S. Read
February 4
New partnership puts university assets to work for a more sustainable Maryland.  Read
February 4
Helen Frederick’s Acts of Silence and future exhibitions explore intriguing intersections between old and new artistic... Read
February 3
UMD recognized for its comprehensive aid program, wide selection of merit-based scholarships, living-and-learning... Read