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U.S. Consumption Linked to Global Distribution of Wealth, Pollution

May 12, 2014

Laura Ours 301-405-5722
Lee Tune 301-405-4679

COLLEGE PARK, Md. – A new interdisciplinary study by University of Maryland researchers illustrates how countries with the greatest amounts of global wealth and highest consumption rates, led by the United States, are responsible for the greatest shares of global pollution.

consumerThe study identifies a country's position within the global trade network ("core" or "periphery"), and establishes their share of wealth and pollution along different global supply chains—core countries have larger shares of global wealth than global shares of pollution. The study shows how inequalities between nation-states can be shaped by patterns found within a global trade network. Countries that trade more are more central to the network. These core countries tend to acquire more benefits and to suffer less of the resulting pollution, leaving countries in the periphery with fewer options. This paper considers how such differences in trade patterns coincide with levels of pollution and wealth, as prompted by American consumerism.

The study, "The Economic Gains and Environmental Losses of U.S. Consumption: A World-Systems and Input-Output Approach," appears in a new issue of Social Forces. Authors Christina Prell of UMD's Department of Sociology and Kuishuang Feng, Laixiang Sun, Martha Geores, and Klaus Hubacek of UMD's Department of Geographical Sciences said the paper offers unique insight into the strong corollaries between economic and environmental inequality, as well as the impact of consumer behavior on environmental sustainability.

"One example of this phenomenon is when an American purchases an automobile, that purchase triggers an entire global supply chain of production. Along that global supply chain, jobs are created and pollution is generated. Thus, Americans' consumption behavior can prompt wealth and pollution levels in countries around the world," Prell said. The paper also closely examines examples of global production chains of clothing and associated distribution of wealth and pollution.

What's more, the researchers have found that those countries that experience greater shares of wealth as opposed to shares of pollution tend to be those countries that are central to the global trade network. Thus, American consumerism tends to reinforce the inequalities between nation-states that sociologists have long observed.

"Our findings also show the extent to which the United States "triggers" global inequalities in the world-system. This is potent stuff when thinking about issues of environmental justice, that is, who is responsible for pollution and who is most affected," Prell and her coauthors write.

Another key finding of the paper is China's status as the big outlier of this phenomenon—although it is very central in the trade network, in this study China resembles a more peripheral country in terms of its relatively high pollution to wealth ratio, meaning it gets more pollution for each unit of  wealth than other core countries.

"Given that many scholars and analysts are uncertain about China's future trajectory, our findings support the ambiguous, yet important, role China seems to play in the world economy," Hubacek said. "China has moved into the core in terms of its position of global trade network but hasn't managed to acquire many of the advantages that would come with such a core role. China's share of wealth is relative low compared to the high volume of pollution related to many of the global commodity chains due to a range of factors such as its relative inefficient production structure and high dependency of coal as well as the role global companies play in China, it essentially remains peripheral."

This is not the first time members of this research team have taken a cross-disciplinary examination of economic and environmental issues. Previously, Hubacek, Prell and Feng worked on a study with a researcher from a leading university in Spain that demonstrated which sectors could put the entire U.S. economy at risk when global oil production peaks ("Peak Oil").

Students Awarded Prestigious Research Fellowships

May 9, 2014

Niambi Wilder 301-405-0763
Lee Tune 301-405-0235

University of MarylandCOLLEGE PARK, Md. – Twenty-four University of Maryland graduate and undergraduate students have been awarded National Science Foundation (NSF) Graduate Research Fellowships, the most prestigious fellowship awarded by the NSF and the oldest fellowship of its kind. Thirteen of these are current UMD graduate students and 11 are graduating seniors, four of whom will pursue their graduate education at Maryland.

The NSF Graduate Research Fellowships are awarded to outstanding graduate students enrolled in NSF-supported science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) disciplines at accredited US institutions and to undergraduate students who intend to pursue a research-based graduate degree in those disciplines.

"The University of Maryland is honored to have our students recognized by such an esteemed organization, including 17 who are, or will be, pursuing graduate studies at UMD," says Charles Caramello, dean of the Graduate School at UMD.  "The support these fellowships provide will help our students generate new knowledge and make significant contributions to research and innovation in science and engineering for years to come."

The UMD Fellows' graduate fields of study vary from Physics to Anthropology, but their appreciation for the opportunity to further their research is the same across the board.

"It is an honor and a privilege to be a 2014 NSF Graduate Research Fellowship award recipient," says Education PhD student Emily Rosenzweig, who also holds a prestigious Flagship Fellowship in the UMD Graduate School. Ms. Rosenzweig focuses her research on student motivation and self-regulated learning. "This award will enable me to develop interventions that motivate students to read STEM materials."

Recognizing the recipients' outstanding potential to contribute to the vitality and diversity of the US science and engineering enterprise, the three-year NSF Fellowship provides an annual stipend of $32,000 plus a cost-of-education allowance for tuition and fees of $12,000. It also provides fellows with opportunities for international research and professional development and with freedom from other obligations while conducting their research.

Below are the names of the UMD graduate and undergraduate students awarded 2014 NSF Graduate Research Fellowships:

  • Sarah Elizabeth Ahlbrand, Life Sciences - Cell Biology
  • Marcus Carter, Chemistry - Macromolecular, Supramolecular, and Nanochemistry
  • Robert Fievisohn, Engineering - Aeronautical and Aerospace
  • Willa Claire Ellison Freedman, Engineering - Materials
  • Andrew L. Ninnemann, Psychology - other (specify) - Clinical
  • Elaine Marie Petro, Engineering - Aeronautical and Aerospace
  • Thomas Edward Pillsbury, Engineering - Aeronautical and Aerospace
  • Emily Quinn Rosenzweig, STEM Education and Learning Research - Science Education
  • Kiersten Jean Ruisard, Physics and Astronomy - other (specify) - Accelerator Physics
  • Carl Frederick Sabottke, Life Sciences - Neurosciences
  • Lisa Hoban Tostanoski, Engineering - Bioengineering
  • Victoria Camille Westmont, Social Sciences - Anthropology
  • Jasmine Lyn Wheeler, Psychology - Industrial/Organizational
  • Catherine Irene Birney, Engineering - Environmental
  • Sylvie Adams DeLaHunt, Engineering - Aeronautical and Aerospace
  • Erin Shannon Hylton, Engineering - other (specify) - Water Resource Engineering
  • Sudabeh Jawahery, Engineering - Chemical Engineering
  • Emily Aster Jones, Life Sciences - Molecular Biology
  • Yasmin Kadry, Life Sciences - Biophysics
  • Cody Jacob Karcher, Engineering - Aeronautical and Aerospace
  • Eric Francis Kazyak, Engineering - Mechanical
  • Christopher Bennett Riley, Life Sciences - Ecology
  • Julia Marie Ruth, Geosciences - Geophysics
  • Nelson Javier Yanes, Engineering - Aeronautical and Aerospace

UMD's WaterShed Grows Roots at Pepco's Rockville Facility

May 9, 2014

Lee Tune 301-405-4679

Bay-inspired Solar Decathlon winner now shines as innovative educational research center

WaterShedCOLLEGE PARK, Md. – Pepco and University of Maryland officials, members of the original UMD student Watershed team, the Maryland Department of the Environment and the Chesapeake Bay Foundation joined together recently to open the Pepco WaterShed Sustainability Center, a "living classroom" dedicated to the education and research of sustainable energies, at the Pepco Holdings, Inc. Service Center in Rockville, Maryland.

"This is very meaningful chapter for our team," said Amy Gardner, WaterShed's Principal Investigator and a clinical professor of architecture at UMD. "This project reflects not only our philosophy as architects, engineers, and environmental scientists and builders; it has shaped how we live as stewards of our environment. It's an honor to know that same spirit will live on and continue to influence and inspire people for years to come."

WaterShedThe Pepco WaterShed Sustainability Center, which is open to the public, serves as a "living classroom" for sustainable energy practices that can be shared with Pepco customers. The home, which includes an additional educational wing constructed by team members and Pepco this past year, combines  hands-on learning and interactive displays that educate visitors with energy-saving ideas they can apply in their own homes.

The center is also a working laboratory for Pepco and the University of Maryland that focuses on energy efficiency and sustainable living. Showcasing new technologies, including smart thermostats, ground and rooftop mounted solar panels, electric vehicle charging ports and smart meters, WaterShed will continue its mission to educate the public on the beauty and versatility of sustainable design. Also on display are the many hallmarks of its winning design: a dual purpose "butterfly roof" that captures both sunlight and rain water; an indoor, liquid desiccant waterfall for high-efficiency humidity control; edible landscapes that promote community-based agriculture; and constructed wetlands, which cleanse both stormwater and greywater for reuse.

"We are excited to provide access to new technology and valuable information to our customers on how to reduce energy usage and lower their monthly bills," said Karen Lefkowitz, Vice President, Business Transformation, PHI. "The University of Maryland students and faculty have done something special and created an award winning platform that will help educate and benefit our customers, and ultimately the environment with its sustainability ideas for many years to come."  

WaterShedWaterShed took first place at the U.S. Department of Energy Solar Decathlon 2011, an international competition that challenges collegiate teams to design, build and operate solar-powered houses that are cost-effective, energy efficient and attractive. The Maryland team—the only finalist from the state and the Washington, D.C. area – combined the talents of UMD students, faculty and professional mentors from a variety of disciplines and professions, including the School of Architecture, Planning and Preservation, the A. James Clark School of Engineering and the College of Agriculture and Natural Resources. WaterShed wowed juries and audiences alike for its dual focus on both solar energy efficiency and water conservation. The house placed in the top four for all juried contests and finishing the competition with the highest point percentage ever awarded at the Solar Decathlon. Since their win, WaterShed has received numerous awards and recognition on regional, national and international stages for its sustainable and affordable design model. 

The Pepco WaterShed Sustainability Center is located at 201 West Gude Drive in Rockville, Maryland and is open to the public for guided tours Monday through Friday 10 a.m. to 3 p.m.

UMD Receives $4.5M for Science of Security "Lablet"

May 9, 2014

Tom Ventsias 301-405-5933

COLLEGE PARK, Md. - The University of Maryland has received $4.5 million in federal funding to establish a Science of Security "lablet," a group of researchers tasked with developing new scientific methodologies and tools related to cybersecurity challenges and needs.

Maryland Cybersecurity Center"Much of the existing work in cybersecurity is reactive, and focuses on designing 'point solutions' to specific problems," says Jonathan Katz, director of the Maryland Cybersecurity Center (MC2) and lead principal investigator of the lablet. "Our goal is to establish mathematical models that can be used to address cybersecurity threats more broadly, and to carry out empirical studies that can help validate those models."

Based in MC2, the lablet unites 15 faculty researchers from five departments across campus—computer science, electrical and computer engineering, information studies, criminology, and mechanical engineering—who will generate a body of knowledge and design methodologies that serve as a foundation for cybersecurity.

Maryland joins North Carolina State, Carnegie Mellon and the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign in receiving lablet funding from the innovative program launched by the National Security Agency in 2012. UMD will receive roughly $1.5 million per year for three years.

"The university's designation as a Science of Security lablet is a testament to the breadth of our expertise in cybersecurity," says Patrick O'Shea, vice president and chief research officer at UMD. "It also speaks to our broader mission of addressing grand scientific and societal challenges by forming innovative transdiciplinary partnerships across multiple departments on campus."

The Maryland scientists will work with government experts in using mathematical and programming-language tools to study the verification and composition of security properties; conducting empirical studies on vulnerability exploits; and understanding the role of human behavior on cybersecurity, both from the perspective of honest users and attackers.

Research from the lablets will be widely distributed via a publicly accessible wiki. This interactive environment is intended to be a primary resource for learning about ongoing work in the science of security, as well as a place to participate with others in advancing this state-of-the-art discipline.

MC2 is supported by the College of Computer, Mathematical, and Natural Sciences and the A. James Clark School of Engineering. It is one of 16 centers and labs in the University of Maryland Institute for Advanced Computer Studies.

Two UMD Students Named University Innovation Fellows

May 8, 2014

Alana Carchedi 301-405-0235

UMD one of only eight universities chosen to participate in Leadership Circle pilot program

    University Innovation Fellows
  Dean Chang, President Wallace Loh, Meenu Singh, Atin Mittra, and Valerie Sherry

COLLEGE PARK, Md. – Two University of Maryland students have been named University Innovation Fellows by the National Center for Engineering Pathways to Innovation (Epicenter). Meenu Singh and Atin Mittra are two of only 66 university students from 45 higher education institutions across the United States to be chosen as fellows this semester. They join fellow UMD student Valerie Sherry, who was the first-ever UMD student to receive this fellowship last year.

The University Innovation Fellows are a network of student leaders working to create lasting institutional change that will increase student engagement with entrepreneurship, innovation, creativity, design thinking and venture creation. The program is part of a national movement to help all students gain the attitudes, skills and knowledge required for them to compete in the economy of the future.

“The University of Maryland couldn’t be more proud of Meenu, Atin and Valerie,” said Dean Chang, UMD's associate vice president for innovation and entrepreneurship. “Their selections in this nationally prominent program are further recognition of UMD’s leadership position in innovation, and their fearless ideas for the program will help advance University President Wallace Loh’s goals of weaving innovation and entrepreneurship across all 12 colleges and schools.”

The program offers undergraduate students in engineering and other fields the guidance and support to become agents of change on their home campuses. “It is no longer enough for engineering students to graduate with a purely technical education,” said Tom Byers, director of Epicenter and professor at Stanford University. “Whether they start their own companies or join established organizations, engineers need to have an entrepreneurial mindset to identify and seize opportunities, bring their ideas to life, and solve global problems.”

Singh and Mittra, both engineering majors, recently completed their University Innovation Fellows training, during which they connected with their new network of fellows, examined UMD's current entrepreneurial ecosystems and formulated action plans for their ideas. While leading a service learning trip to the Dominican Republic, Mittra applied what he has learned as a University Innovation Fellow and from the university's Academy for Innovation and Entrepreneurship.

"We envision a campus of empowered students who are willing to pursue their ideas and able to define their own education," said Singh and Mittra.

Singh and Mittra have several projects for UMD that they plan to explore as part of their fellowship. These include:

  • Make innovation and entrepreneurship part of every student's experience at UMD;
  • Encourage prototyping by creating workshops, courses, and resources that empower students to bring their ideas to life;
  • Create a "Terpfolio"—a platform to showcase the stories behind the projects in which students invest passion, time, and effort;
  • Begin a financial literacy campaign to help students understand how to take out loans, seek funding and more; and
  • Shift the paradigm from asking students to pitch their ideas to asking students to bring their ideas to life.

The university will also be participating in Epicenter's University Innovation Fellows Leadership Circle pilot program – one of only eight universities chosen to participate. In order to participate in the Leadership Circle, universities were required to have multiple fellows and a letter of recommendation directly from the university's president. The Leadership Circle program allows a group of University Innovation Fellows to work together to develop and implement strategies, and gain greater traction in starting an innovation and entrepreneurship movement. Singh, Mittra and Sherry will all be participating in the Leadership Circle.

UMD prides itself as a pioneer in educating the next generation of innovators and entrepreneurs, ranked as one of the nation's top public schools in the U.S. for entrepreneurship and innovation. The Princeton Review ranked UMD No. 6 among public universities and No. 15 overall for its undergraduate entrepreneurship program, and No. 8 among public universities and No. 16 overall for its graduate entrepreneurship program. The university was also recognized as No. 1 among public universities and No. 2 overall for tech entrepreneurship by the 2013 StartEngine College Index.

Epicenter is funded by the National Science Foundation and directed by Stanford University and the National Collegiate Inventors and Innovators Alliance (NCIIA).

Learn more about the University Innovation Fellows program at 

UMB and UMCP to Offer Joint Degrees in Medicine and Bioengineering

May 8, 2014

Crystal Brown, UMD, 301-405-4621
Alex Likowski, UMB, 410-706-3801

MPowering the State

M.D./Ph.D. program designed to promote human health through engineering principles and medical science

COLLEGE PARK, Md. – The University of Maryland School of Medicine and the University of Maryland Clark School of Engineering have initiated a combined Doctor of Medicine/Doctor of Philosophy in Bioengineering degree program to meet the demand for both medical sciences and bioengineering expertise among health professionals early in their careers.

This new offering is part of the University of Maryland: MPowering the State initiative, designed to enhance collaboration between UMB and UMCP by focusing their collective expertise on critical statewide issues of public health, law, biomedical informatics, and bioengineering.

The goal of the dual degree program is to educate physician scientists in engineering principles and scientific methods to develop knowledge and products to promote human health.

“This program will enable us to work together to educate the next generation of leaders in medical research,” says Jay A. Perman, M.D., president of the University of Maryland, Baltimore (UMB). “Graduates will be well-positioned to help translate scientific discoveries into clinical research and practice.”

“The intersection of bioengineering and medical science holds special promise for developing powerful new health care treatments,” says University of Maryland, College Park President Wallace D. Loh. “By combining forces, UMB and UMCP will help make Maryland a major center for advanced medical devices and techniques.”

Students enrolled in the M.D./Ph.D. program will begin the Ph.D. program after two years of medical school at the University of Maryland School of Medicine and part one of the national licensure exam. During the summers before and after their second year of medical school, students will explore opportunities in laboratories affiliated with the Fischell Department of Bioengineering at the Clark School of Engineering.  In their third year, students will matriculate to the Clark School where they will complete two to three laboratory rotations, required coursework, dissertation research and defense, and a semester-long teaching assistantship.

Upon successful completion of the doctoral defense, students will return to the School of Medicine to complete clinical rotations and part two of the licensure exam. UMB and UMCP will confer the M.D. and Ph.D. degrees, respectively.

The M.D./Ph.D. in Bioengineering program is part of the University of Maryland School of Medicine’s Medical Scientist Training Program (MSTP), which is funded by the National Institutes of Health to train the next generation of leaders in academic medicine and biomedical research. 

"This joint effort will help transform the workforce in the region by connecting the most populous engineering talent in the U.S. with the most expansive biomedical research enterprise in the world,” said Darryll Pines, Farvardin Professor and Dean of the A. James Clark School of Engineering.  “Our partnership with UMB is absolutely essential."

Tuition and fees of all MSTP students are covered by the MSTP training grant, individual training grants secured by the student, or the School of Medicine during the medical school portion of program. The Ph.D. in Bioengineering tuition and fees will be covered by the Fischell Department of Bioengineering, research grants obtained by the student’s mentor, or training grants secured by the student.

“With the intersection of biomedical research and engineering becoming increasingly important to discovery and innovation in solving the world’s critical health problems, this new program offers tremendous potential for future physician-scientists,” said E. Albert Reece, Vice President, Medical Affairs, University of Maryland and the John Z. and Akiko K. Bowers Distinguished Professor and Dean, University of Maryland School of Medicine.  "In addition to our established joint M.D./Ph.D. programs in Neurosciences, Microbiology and Immunology, Molecular Medicine, Epidemiology, Biochemistry and Toxicology, this multi-disciplinary program enables us to further strengthen the University of Maryland’s leadership in the growing field of medical technology and bioengineering.”

Women with Unintended Pregnancies Take Shortest Maternity Leaves

May 5, 2014

Kelly Blake 301-405-9418

Dr. Rada K. DagherCOLLEGE PARK, Md. – Mothers in the United States who have unintended pregnancies return to work sooner after childbirth than mothers whose pregnancy was intended, according to a study led by Dr. Rada K. Dagher, assistant professor of health services administration at the University of Maryland School of Public Health.

This is the first study to examine pregnancy intention and return to work after childbirth. “We know that it’s better for women to take time off after childbirth to take care of their physical and mental health,” says Dr. Dagher, whose previous research showed that taking six months of maternity leave is optimal for reducing a woman’s risk of postpartum depression. “Returning to work soon after childbirth may not be good for these women or for their children.” The study is published in Women’s Health Issues, a leading journal in women’s healthcare and policy.

To reduce unintended pregnancies, Dagher supports policies to ensure that a woman has access to appropriate methods for delaying pregnancy until she is ready to have a baby. “The Affordable Care Act requirement for health plans to cover contraceptives at no cost to the consumer is an important part of the strategy to reduce unintended pregnancies,” Dr. Dagher said. She also recommends that health care providers counsel all women and men who are at risk for unintended pregnancy about the most effective contraceptive methods.

The study findings also point to the need for policies that enable women to take longer maternity leaves. “Compared to mothers with an intended pregnancy, mothers with an unintended pregnancy are not as emotionally and financially prepared and are less likely to receive paid maternity leave, suggesting that economic reasons may have forced them to return to paid work sooner,” Dagher explains. Only 41 percent of women in the study had access to paid maternity leave, and the average duration of leave taken was 7.64 weeks. There is no national paid-leave policy in the United States, and while the Family and Medical Leave Act provides up to 12 weeks of unpaid leave to eligible employees, many women are not covered. Women in the U.S. return to paid work quickly after birth, with 69 percent of those surveyed returning within six months.

The study, which uses national data from the Listening to Mothers II survey of women across the United States, also found that 62 percent of all women surveyed reported some symptoms of depression after childbirth. An examination of the relationship between maternal depression and the length of maternity leave revealed that depression did not have an effect on return to work for mothers with unintended pregnancies. However, among women with an intended pregnancy, depressed mothers return to paid work more quickly than nondepressed mothers. The authors suggest that depressed mothers may find that staying home with a newborn decreases their sense of control and paid work becomes more attractive, or that women who are forced to return to work quickly may feel depressed about having to do so because of their economic circumstances.

Leave from work after childbirth provides mothers time for emotional recovery and for bonding with the baby, and returning to paid work sooner than desired may worsen depressive symptoms. Based on this and the findings of this study, the authors suggest that health care providers may want to advise women on the optimum amount of leave to take after childbirth given their mental health state.

They also encourage primary care providers and policymakers to support and implement policies that increase access to and utilization of effective contraceptive methods.

“Maternal Depression, Pregnancy Intention, and Return to Paid Work After Childbirth” was written by Rada K. Dagher, Sandra L. Hofferth and Yoonjoo Lee and published in Women’s Health Issues, Volume 24, Issue 3, Pages e297–e303, May–June, 2014.

UMD Finishes No. 1 in the ACC in RecycleMania 2014

May 5, 2014

Julie Kromkowski 301-405-3209
Andrew Muir 301-405-7068

COLLEGE PARK, Md. - The annual RecycleMania competition among colleges and universities nationwide has concluded, and the results are in. This year, the University of Maryland surpassed its 2013 results in every category.

The annual RecycleMania competition among colleges and universities nationwide has concluded, and the University of Maryland surpassed its 2013 results in every category.UMD’s final standings were as follows:

  • No. 1 in the state of Maryland and No. 1 in the ACC in the Grand Champion category with a recycling rate of 39.77 percent
  • No. 1 in the ACC for the Waste Minimization category, generating 33.99 pounds of recycling per person
  • No. 1 in the state of Maryland in the Gorilla (large school) category with 604,572 pounds of recycling in a single week
  • No. 2 in the state of Maryland for the Food Service Organics category, generating 6.42 pounds of compostables per person

Throughout the competition, the university saved 1,032 metric tons of CO2 over an eight week period-comparable to keeping over one thousand cars off the road or the energy consumption of six hundred households during this period of time.

UMD would have finished in the top five in every category were the university already a part of the Big Ten Conference, placing second in the Grand Champion category and first place in Waste Minimization and Food Services Organics.

Continued outreach efforts proved effective once again for the campus with two sensitive document shredding events, an e-waste drive, a grand finale event at The Stamp, and the first ever “Recycle This!” video contest.

“Thanks to the many members of our campus community who made the slogan, ‘Bin It to Win It,’ a reality!” said Adrienne Small, Campus Recycling Coordinator.

Click here to see a summary of UMD’s RecycleMania performance. Click here to see a full breakdown of UMD’s results.


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