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University of Maryland, College Park & University of Maryland, Baltimore to Celebrate Opening of SAFE Center in College Park

May 4, 2016

Kristen Seabolt, University of Maryland, College Park, 301-405-4621

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

The SAFE Center is an interdisciplinary service, research and advocacy initiative of the University of Maryland, College Park and the University of Maryland, Baltimore through its formal collaborative program for innovation, MPowering the State. Located next to the College Park campus, the SAFE Center will draw on the combined resources and the wide range of disciplines of both universities 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. 


  • Wallace D. Loh, President, University of Maryland, College Park
  • Jay A. Perman, President, University of Maryland, Baltimore
  • Susan Esserman, Partner, Steptoe & Johnson, LLP, SAFE Center Director
  • Ben Cardin, United States Senator for Maryland
  • Chris Van Hollen, United States Representative for Maryland’s 8th Congressional District
  • Nancy Kopp, Maryland State Treasurer 
  • Angela Alsobrooks, State’s Attorney for Prince George’s County 


Monday, May 9, 2016 
9:30 a.m. – 11:00 a.m. 


Adele H. Stamp Student Union, University of Maryland, College Park
For directions, visit http://thestamp.umd.edu/the_stamp_student_union/directions_to_stamp 


Parking for media will be available in Union Lane Garage. 


A mult-box audio feed will be available at the event.


Please RSVP to Kristen Seabolt, 301-405-4621, kseabolt@umd.edu 

UMD Hosts Climate Action Forum, Welcomes Tim Wirth, the First-Ever Under Secretary of State for Global Affairs

May 2, 2016

Graham Binder 301-405-4076

Public conference in support of the objectives of the Climate Action 2016 Summit assembles leaders to move from commitment to action 

COLLEGE PARK, Md. – In addition to co-presenting the Climate Action 2016 Summit, the University of Maryland will host the Climate Action 2016 Forum on the College Park campus this Wednesday, May 4, 2016. The forum will serve as a public, multi-stakeholder approach to advancing the climate implementation agenda, featuring lively discussion and debate from leaders across government, higher education, business, finance, academia, philanthropy and civil society. 

Tim Wirth, the first Under Secretary of State for Global Affairs, and former President of the United Nations Foundation, will deliver the opening plenary address focused on “The Next Chapter in Global Sustainability.” Wirth was the lead U.S. negotiator for the Kyoto Climate Conference and announced the U.S. commitment to legally binding limits on greenhouse gas emissions as part of the Kyoto Protocol. He is a leading voice on global environmental issues and worked closely with Vice President Al Gore to address climate change during the Clinton administration.

Thematic areas for the forum:

  • City and Subnational Implementation
  • Resilience/Adaptation
  • Energy
  • Sustainable Land Use
  • Climate & Society
  • Analysis and Tools to Support Decision-Making


  • Tim Wirth, Former Under Secretary of State for Global Affairs, Vice Chair of United Nations Foundation
  • Dr. Piers J. Sellers, Deputy Director of the Sciences and Exploration Directorate and Acting Director of the Earth Sciences Division, National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) Goddard Space Flight Center
  • The Honorable Mr. Ben Cardin, U.S. Senator for Maryland
  • Mr. Martin O’Malley, Former Governor of Maryland
  • Dr. Wallace Loh, President of the University of Maryland
  • Dr. Robert C. Orr, University of Maryland School of Public Policy Dean


Wednesday, May 4, 2016
9am – 4:30pm


Adele H. Stamp Student Union
University of Maryland, College Park
Location: http://go.umd.edu/wsn


Complimentary parking will be available for media in the Union Lane Garage.


Media will be required to show identification and credentials at the media check-in table inside Stamp prior to entering the event. 


A mult-box audio feed will be available at the event.


All media should RSVP to Graham Binder at binderg@umd.edu

Maryland Climate and Health Report Identifies State's Vulnerabilities to Climate Change

May 2, 2016

Kelly Blake 301-405-9418

COLLEGE PARK, Md. – As world leaders convene in Washington, DC this week for the Climate Action 2016 summit, a new report by Maryland public health leaders, the Maryland Climate and Health Profile report, details the impacts of climate change on the health of Marylanders now and in the future.

Developed by the University of Maryland School of Public Health’s Maryland Institute for Applied Environmental Health, in collaboration with the Maryland Department of Health and Mental Hygiene, the report examines the relationship between exposure to extreme weather events and risk of selected health outcomes including food and waterborne illnesses (caused by Salmonella and Campylobacter), hospitalization for heart attacks and asthma, and motor vehicle accidents. Using historical climate data along with health data, researchers were able to describe relationships between exposure to extreme events and risk of these selected diseases. These data, along with the climate projections, were used to calculate health burdens among Marylanders in future decades.

In addition, the report recommends actions that individuals, families and communities can take to minimize the negative health burdens. It describes how the negative health burdens are not equally distributed across race/ethnicity or geographical areas of Maryland. The report concludes that local and state level strategies to build healthy and resilient communities must take into account these differential burdens.

Key findings of the Maryland Climate and Health Profile report include:

  • Extreme weather is on the rise: Summertime extreme heat events more than doubled in Maryland during the 1980s, 1990s, and 2000s compared to the 1960s and 1970s.
  • Extreme weather increases risk of foodborne illnesses: Both extreme heat and extreme precipitation events significantly increase the risk of Salmonella infections in Maryland. The increases in risk associated with extreme weather events is considerably higher among coastal communities compared to more inland communities.
  • Extreme heat raises heart attack risk: Exposure to summertime extreme heat events increases the risk of hospitalization for heart attack in Maryland. Non-Hispanic blacks have a much higher risk compared to non-Hispanic whites.
  • Extreme heat and precipitation raise severe asthma attack risk: Exposure to summertime extreme heat and precipitation events increase the risk of hospitalization for asthma in Maryland.  
  • Extreme precipitation raises accident risk: Exposure to extreme precipitation events increases the risk of motor vehicle accidents, particularly during the fall and summer months.

According to the report, the increases in frequency of extreme weather events during summer months in the future (2040) are projected to result in higher rates of asthma and heart attack hospitalization as well as Salmonella infections. The magnitude of these increases will likely vary considerably across the 24 counties in Maryland.

View the Maryland Climate and Health Profile Report here

The Maryland Climate and Health Profile report is based on and developed in conjunction with the DHMH Maryland Public Health Strategy for Climate Change project, funded by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) as part of its Climate-Ready States and Cities Initiative. Research studies led by Dr. Amir Sapkota in the UMD School of Public Health informed many of the report’s key findings. This Climate and Health Profile report summarizes a collaborative effort between the DHMH, local health departments, and the University of Maryland School of Public Health’s Maryland Institute for Applied Environmental Health. The report utilized the CDC’s Building Resilience Against Climate Effects (BRACE) framework to identify vulnerable populations and use this data to inform interventions and increase resilience.

UMD Breaks Ground on Brendan Iribe Center for Computer Science and Innovation

April 30, 2016

Katie Lawson, 240-459-2730

Fueled by $31 Million Gift from Oculus Co-Founder and CEO, New Center Will Advance Revolutionary Research

COLLEGE PARK, Md. – The University of Maryland celebrates today 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. The Iribe Center anchors the Michael Antonov Auditorium and the Andrew Reisse Park, two features named for Oculus co-founders.

“This remarkable building will transform inspiration into new knowledge and innovation,” said University of Maryland President Wallace D. Loh. “We have tremendous faculty and student talent in these fields—Brendan Iribe is a great example—and now they will have the ideal collaborative space to enable success.”

Offering unprecedented opportunities for students and faculty to create bold new applications of computer science, the building is fueled by a $31 million gift from Oculus co-founder and CEO Brendan Iribe. A $4 million gift from Oculus chief software architect and co-founder Michael Antonov and $3 million from Elizabeth Iribe, are helping to make the building possible and increasing scholarship and endowment support for students and faculty. Iribe, Reisse and Antonov met as students at the University of Maryland.

“It’s my hope that the three landmarks of the innovation center – the computer science building,  Antonov Auditorium, and Reisse Park – inspire students to form friendships and teams that last a lifetime,” said Brendan Iribe, co-founder and CEO of Oculus. “Students will be able to walk into the Center and have access to everything they need to build the next great company or breakthrough technology. I’m excited to see what future engineers, entrepreneurs and CEOs come out of UMD and these new facilities.”

A striking presence at the University’s front door, the Iribe Center’s 215,000 square feet will facilitate previously unimaginable creation and discovery on campus. The Center will include dynamic makerspaces, virtual and augmented reality labs to give students a high-tech environment to build immersive multimedia experiences, and a motion-capture lab giving dancers and athletes the ability to record and perfect movement.

Eight classrooms will feature interactive technology and enable collaborative group work, and the 300-seat Michael Antonov Auditorium will bring innovation out of the labs through conferences, hacking competitions and lectures. 

To honor the memory of Andrew Reisse, also an Oculus co-founder, the rooftop garden will be named Reisse Park. Plans for the park include a peaceful sanctuary with natural water features and native plant life. Reisse, a UMD alum and friend of Iribe and Antonov, was an avid photographer and hiker, as well as a talented computer graphics engineer.

Among its many revolutionary features, the Iribe Center’s open floor plans and common spaces are built to inspire students to share ideas and collaborate on new ventures. Reset rooms are located on every floor, giving students, makers and entrepreneurs space to engage colleagues. Finally, green space surrounding the building will offer space for recharging, discussion and collaboration.

The Brendan Iribe Center for Computer Science and Innovation is expected to open in 2018. For more information and hi-res renderings, visit http://iribe.cs.umd.edu/.

Extreme Weather Events Linked to More Asthma Hospitalization

April 29, 2016

Kelly Blake 301-405-9418

The risk of hospitalization from asthma increased 23% overall when there was an extreme heat event during summer months. Five to 17 year old children were at even greater risk.COLLEGE PARK, Md. – Extreme heat and heavy rainfall are related to increased risk of hospitalization for asthma in Maryland, according to a study by University of Maryland School of Public Health researchers.

Based on over a decade of asthma hospitalization data (115,923 cases from 2000-2012), researchers observed higher risk of asthma hospitalization after extreme heat or extreme precipitation events. The increases in risk were particularly high during summer months. Their findings are published in the journal Environmental Health.

“Previous scientific studies have shown that extreme weather events are becoming more common, more intense, and longer lasting in response to our changing climate. Our study shows is that increases in the number of extreme heat and extreme precipitation events, particularly during summer months, lead to more asthma hospitalizations in Maryland.” said Dr. Amir Sapkota, senior author of the study and an associate professor at the Maryland Institute for Applied Environmental Health.

Recent estimates suggest that over 430,000 adults and 125,000 children in Maryland are living with asthma. Researchers observed a 23 percent increase in risk of asthma hospitalizations when there was an extreme heat event during summer months. This risk was higher among 5-17 year olds. Similarly, extreme precipitation events during summer months increased the risk of asthma hospitalizations by 11 percent.

“Our data show that the risk of hospitalization for asthma related to extreme weather varies across demographic subgroups in Maryland. We need to take such differences into account when designing public health responses to climate change”, said Dr. Sutyajeet Soneja, a postdoctoral fellow at the Maryland Institute for Applied Environmental Health, and lead author of the study.  

To identify extreme weather events, the researchers relied on county and calendar day specific thresholds for precipitation and maximum temperature (90th and 95th percentile, respectively) that were calculated based on 30 years of baseline data (1960-1989). The researchers suggest that extreme heat events during summer months may lead to higher concentration of harmful air pollutants such as ozone, which is known to exacerbate asthma. Extreme precipitation events may lead to release of pollen spores, leading to severe asthma attack and subsequent hospitalization.  

The paper “Exposure to extreme heat and precipitation events associated with increased risk of hospitalization for asthma in Maryland, U.S.A.” was written by Sutyajeet Soneja, Chengsheng Jiang, Jared Fisher, Crystal Romeo Upperman, Clifford Mitchell and Amir Sapkota and published in the journal Environmental Health.

First Multi-Year Study of Honey Bee Parasites & Disease Reveals Troubling Trends

April 28, 2016

Matthew Wright 301-405-9267 

Varroa mite infestations more severe than previously thought and linked to spread of
viral diseases according to UMD study 

COLLEGE PARK, Md. – Honey bee colonies in the United States are in decline, due in part to the ill effects of voracious mites, fungal gut parasites and a wide variety of debilitating viruses. Researchers from the University of Maryland and the U.S. Department of Agriculture recently completed the first comprehensive, multi-year study of honey bee parasites and disease as part of the National Honey Bee Disease Survey. The findings reveal some alarming patterns, but provide at least a few pieces of good news as well. 

The results, published online in the journal Apidologie on April 20, 2016, provide an important five-year baseline against which to track future trends. Key findings show that the varroa mite, a major honey bee pest, is far more abundant than previous estimates indicated and is closely linked to several damaging viruses. Also, the results show that the previously rare Chronic Bee Paralysis Virus has skyrocketed in prevalence since it was first detected by the survey in 2010.

The good news, however, is that three potentially damaging exotic species have not yet been introduced into the United States: the parasitic tropilaelaps mite, the Asian honey bee Apis cerana and slow bee paralysis virus. 

“Poor honey bee health has gained a lot of attention from scientists and the media alike in recent years. However, our study is the first systematic survey to establish disease baselines, so that we can track changes in disease prevalence over time,” said Kirsten Traynor, a postdoctoral researcher in entomology at UMD and lead author on the study. “It highlights some troubling trends and indicates that parasites strongly influence viral prevalence.”

Varroa mites (dark red) primarily feed on honey bee larvae, but spread from hive to hive on adult bees. The mites transmit disease, including several debilitating viruses. Image credit: Bee Informed Partnership The results, based on a survey of beekeepers and samples from bee colonies in forty-one states and two territories (Puerto Rico and Guam), span five seasons from 2009 through 2014. The study looked at two major parasites that affect honey bees: the varroa mite and nosema, a fungal parasite that disrupts a bee’s digestive system. The study found clear annual trends in the prevalence of both parasites, with varroa infestations peaking in late summer or early fall and nosema peaking in late winter. 

The study also found notable differences in the prevalence of varroa and nosema between migratory and stationary beehives. Migratory beekeepers—those who truck their hives across the country every summer to pollinate a variety of crops—reported lower levels of varroa compared with stationary beekeepers, whose hives stay put year-round. However, the reverse was true for nosema, with a lower
relative incidence of nosema infection reported by stationary

Additionally, more than 50 percent of all beekeeping operations sampled had high levels of varroa infestation at the beginning of winter—a crucial time when colonies are producing long-lived winter bees that must survive on stored pollen and honey. 

“Our biggest surprise was the high level of varroa, especially in fall, and in well-managed colonies cared for by beekeepers who have taken steps to control the mites,” said study co-author Dennis vanEngelsdorp, an assistant professor of entomology at UMD. “We knew that varroa was a problem, but it seems to be an even bigger problem than we first thought. Moreover, varroa’s ability to spread viruses presents a more dire situation than we suspected.”

For years, evidence has pointed to varroa mites as a culprit in the spread of viruses, vanEngelsdorp noted. Until now, however, much of this evidence came from lab-based studies. The current study provides crucial field-based validation of the link between varroa and viruses. 

“We know that varroa acts as a vector for viruses. The mites are basically dirty hypodermic needles,” Traynor said. “The main diet for the mites is blood from the developing bee larva. When the bee emerges, the mites move on to the nearest larval cell, bringing viruses with them. Varroa can also spread viruses between colonies. When a bee feeds on a flower, mites can jump from one bee to another and infect a whole new colony.”

This bee is infected with Deformed Wing Virus, one of many viruses spread by varroa mites. Image credit: Bee Informed Partnership Nosema, the fungal gut parasite, appears to have a more nuanced relationship with honey bee viruses. Nosema infection strongly correlates to the prevalence of Lake Sinai Virus 2, first identified in 2013, and also raises the risk for Israeli Acute Paralysis Virus. However, the researchers found an inverse relationship between nosema and Deformed Wing Virus.

Some viruses do not appear to be associated with varroa or nosema at all. One example is Chronic Bee Paralysis Virus, which causes loss of motor control and can kill individual bees within days. This virus was first detected by the survey in the U.S. in 2010. At that time, less than 1 percent of all samples submitted for study tested positive for the virus. Since then, the virus’ prevalence roughly doubled every year, reaching 16 percent in 2014.

“Prior to this national survey, we lacked the epidemiological baselines of disease prevalence in honey bees. Similar information has been available for years for the cattle, pork and chicken industries,” Traynor said. “I think people who get into beekeeping need to know that it requires maintenance. You wouldn’t get a dog and not take it to the vet, for example. People need to know what is going on with the livestock they’re managing.”

While parasites and disease are huge factors in declining honey bee health, there are other contributors as well. Pesticides, for example, have been implicated in the decline of bee colonies across the country. 

“Our next step is to provide a similar baseline assessment for the effects of pesticides,” vanEngelsdorp said. “We have multiple years of data and as soon as we’ve finished the analyses, we’ll be ready to tell that part of the story as well.” 

The research paper, “Multiyear survey targeting disease incidence in US honey bees,” Kirsten Traynor, Karen Rennich, Eva Forsgren, Robyn Rose, Jeffery Pettis, Grace Kunkel, Shayne Madella, Jay Evans, Dawn Lopez and Dennis vanEngelsdorp, was published online in the journal Apidologie on April 20, 2016.

UMD Study Reveals "Targeted" Housing Policy Key to Preventing Transit-Induced Gentrification

April 27, 2016

Maggie Haslam 202-258-8946

Findings offer important clues for lawmakers looking to increase access
to jobs and opportunity for low-income households

COLLEGE PARK, Md. - Researchers at the University of Maryland’s National Center for Smart Growth have leveraged an innovative land use model to predict how different policies surrounding Transit Oriented Development, or TOD, will affect housing, gentrification and opportunity in the Washington, D.C. region. 

The study, “Transit-Induced Gentrification: Who Will Stay, and Who Will Go?”, suggests that affordable housing requirements, specifically those targeting new construction surrounding TODs, will result in less gentrification and a more diverse mix of incomes within the community. The paper is featured online in Housing Policy Debate and will appear in a forthcoming issue of the journal’s print edition.  

Executed and authored by Associate Professor Casey Dawkins and Assistant Professor Rolf Moeckel, the study examines 10 different housing policy scenarios and their potential impact on low-income housing near transit centers in the Washington, D.C. region. To simulate the scenarios and measure their impact on the housing market, the researchers integrated the Maryland Statewide Transportation Model (MSTM) with the Simple Integrated Land Use Orchestrator (SILO), an open-source micro-simulation model that can account for “real world” constraints—like travel time and housing costs—particularly those faced by low-income households. The National Socio-Environmental Synthesis Center (SESYNC) provided support for further development of SILO and its integration with the transportation model. Traditionally, SILO has been used for land use and transportation scenarios; this is the first time the model has been applied to examine housing policies. 

“A novelty of SILO is that it explicitly accounts for constraints in housing location choice,” said Moeckel. “The model ensures that no one moves into a home that is significantly above the household’s budget, and that no households choose locations that are too far away from their workplaces. This makes SILO much more realistic, particularly when housing policies are to be analyzed.” 

The results show that supply-side policies, such as requiring a percentage of new construction to be low-income housing, have more effect on mitigating transit-induced gentrification than programs like rental vouchers. The results also show that affordable housing policies targeted towards transit were significantly more effective than a region-wide approach. “You can require new housing near transit to be affordable without having a major impact on housing affordability in the region,” said Dawkins.  

The paper offers important clues for lawmakers looking to increase access to jobs and opportunity for low-income households; the study could be especially significant for the Washington, D.C. region as they prepare for the expansion of the Silver Line and the construction of the region’s Purple Line. To access the paper, visit Housing Policy Debate’s website, here.

University of Maryland Celebrates 18th Annual Maryland Day

April 27, 2016

Katie Lawson 301-405-4622

Explore our world of Fearless Ideas with more than 400 free, family-friendly and interactive events

COLLEGE PARK, Md. – The University of Maryland will host its 18th annual Maryland Day from 10:00 a.m. – 4:00 p.m. on Saturday, April 30, 2016. UMD's campus-wide celebration of innovation, creativity and academic excellence will offer more than 400 free, family-friendly events and exhibits that teach and inspire future innovators.

A variety of events and activities spanning the entire UMD campus will be divided into six learning neighborhoods, including Terp Town Center, Ag Day Avenue, Art & Design Place, Biz & Society Hill, Sports & Rec Row and Science & Tech Way

Highlights for this year’s Maryland Day include:

  • “Do Good” Campus – Take part in a fun and inspiring journey across UMD’s “do good” campus, exploring how students are taking on real-world issues. Enjoy activities and exhibits, games to test your social smarts and the Do Good Dollar exercise to support Terps improving our communities. Visit all stations for the chance to take home a prize. 
  • Launch UMD – Student entrepreneurs, social leaders and artists compete to win cash prizes to bring their dream projects to life. Join the live audience or visit the Launch UMD tent on McKeldin Mall to select a winner and support the next big thing to come out of UMD.
  • Diversity Cooking Stage – UMD chefs showcase the diversity of the Dining Services team members, who come from over 70 countries, and incorporate local products into dishes that represent the diversity of Maryland. Learn how to prepare some flavorful dishes inspired by El Salvadorian, Vietnamese, Native American and Ethiopian cuisine and a common international cooking methodâbarbecue. Guests will receive a sample of the dish and can take home recipe cards.
  • Men’s and Women’s Basketball Autograph Sessions – Join members of the teams for a photo and autograph session. One photo and autograph per person; the line will be limited to the first 500 people.
  • Come Fly with Gymkana – Take flight in the home of Gymkana, the student troupe showcasing gymnastics and acrobatics. Participate in an obstacle course including the trampoline, spring floor, bars and other equipment that team members use to create their magical performances.
  • Fearless Foaling – Visit the newest members of the UMD farm family: our 1-month-old thoroughbred foals. These little athletes are sure to please as they frolic in the paddock pretending to be the next winner of Maryland’s Preakness Stakes.
  • Mars: A Planet Populated by Robots – Robots are our partners for exploring the planets, deep ocean and other frontiers. Check out the robots UMD engineers are developing for upcoming exploration missions. If you ask nicely, you might get to drive one. 

In addition, visitors can learn about UMD’s schools and colleges, catch up with fellow Terps and enjoy live performances and food. 

To view the full Maryland Day schedule, visit www.MarylandDay.umd.edu. Follow the celebration and join on social media with #MarylandDay. 

Maryland Day will take place rain or shine. Parking and admission are free.


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