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UMD Capitol Hill Forum Addresses Health Disparities Research & Action for Equity

September 23, 2016
Contacts: 

Contacts: Elise Carbonaro, 301-405-6501

COLLEGE PARK, Md. – The University of Maryland, in collaboration with Rep. John P. Sarbanes and the Big Ten Academic Alliance, recently convened more than 100 people for a Research on the Hill forum focused on strategies to achieve health equity at the Rayburn House Office Building in Washington, D.C. Moderated by Stephen B. Thomas, Ph.D., professor and director of the Maryland Center for Health Equity in the UMD School of Public Health, the panel discussion engaged experts from academia, federal health agencies and the private business sector in a candid conversation about how to eliminate racial and ethnic health disparities among vulnerable populations.

“Our exploratory research holds the solutions to many of the most challenging problems of our day,” said UMD Vice President and Chief Research Officer Patrick G. O’Shea, Ph.D. “As a university, it is our mission to create and understand knowledge to develop better ways to house and heal and fuel and feed our people in advanced societies that are just, secure, and free. Achieving health equity touches on the ‘heal’ aspect of that mission.”

The topics ranged from the progress that has been made in access to medical care as a result of the Affordable Care Act (ACA) to challenges that still remain in improving quality of care and in making the medical care system incorporate public health and address the social determinants of health that prevent people from acting health promotion and disease prevention recommendations. 

“The state of Maryland has embraced the ACA and there is clear evidence that the new incentives are indeed moving hospital systems away from a fee-for-service business model to one that rewards quality care and positive health outcomes over the volume of procedures,” said Thomas. “While the transition is not perfect, our state is a national leader for what the future of health care will look like.”

Panel members shared examples of effective and innovative community-based health interventions and public-private partnerships that are making a difference through culturally-tailored health promotion and disease prevention services, and highlighted the emergence of social determinants of health such as poverty, discrimination and residential segregation as factors that must be overcome.

 “I’m convinced that if you address racial and ethnic disparities with respect to the delivery of health care and health care coverage in this country, you will build the best health care system we can possibly have because diversity is our country’s hallmark,” said Congressman Sarbanes, who, as a member of the House Energy and Commerce Committee, has been a tireless advocate for improving healthcare quality and addressing health disparities.
 
To achieve health equity, researchers, policymakers, and industry leaders must address broader issues beyond the traditional biomedical model and build trust between those who control health care delivery system and those who have lost hope in the system, said members of the panel. 

The panelists recommended that health equity be incorporated into all public policies, not just those related to health care, to reduce and ultimately eliminate health disparities. 

Panel members included:

  • Margo Edmunds, Ph.D., Vice President, Evidence Generation and Translation at Academy Health;
  • J. Nadine Gracia, M.D., M.S.C.E., Deputy Assistant Secretary for Minority Health and Director of the Office of Minority Health within the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services;
  • Julia Huggins, President of Cigna Mid-Atlantic;
  • Kolawole Okuyemi, M.D., MPH, Professor of the Department of Family Medicine and Community Health, Director of the Program in Health Disparities Research and Inaugural Endowed Chair for Health Equity at the University of Minnesota; and
  • Eliseo Pérez-Stable, M.D., Director of the National Institute on Minority Health and Health Disparities at the National Institutes of Health.

House Democratic Whip Steny H. Hoyer, who represents Maryland’s 5th Congressional District and is a distinguished UMD alumnus, also joined the event and emphasized that as an interconnected community, we should all care about health disparities.
 
“It is unacceptable that in the United States, where all are created equal in the words of our Declaration of Independence, that one’s access to healthcare may be higher or lower as a result of race, gender, or income,” said Congressman Hoyer. “Everybody being healthy is of concern to each and every one of us.”
 
He discussed how we must continue to defend the patient protections that Americans are benefiting from thanks to the ACA, such as the no-cost access to preventive services like mammograms and immunizations, as well as remind people of the dramatic increase in the number of people, particularly people of color, who now have health coverage as a result.

The event was held as part of the University of Maryland’s Research on the Hill series, which is aimed at raising awareness of research with great societal significance.

View the conversation at: https://youtu.be/HPedKr0jZLQ

UMD Study Finds Connecting Uninsured Patients to Primary Care Could Reduce ER Use

May 6, 2015
Contacts: 

Kelly Blake 301-405-9418
Hillery Tsumba 301-628-3425

Montgomery County, Md. Initiative Could Improve Health, Reduce Costs

COLLEGE PARK, Md. – An intervention to connect low-income uninsured and Medicaid patients to a reliable source of primary health care shows promise for reducing avoidable use of hospital emergency departments in Maryland. A University of Maryland School of Public Health study evaluating the results of the intervention was published this week in the May issue of the journal Health Affairs

For twenty years, use of hospital emergency departments has been on the rise in the United States, particularly among low-income patients who face barriers to accessing health care outside of hospitals, including not having an identifiable primary health care provider. Almost half of emergency room visits are considered “avoidable.” The Emergency Department-Primary Care Connect Initiative of the Primary Care Coalition, which ran from 2009 through 2011, linked low-income uninsured and Medicaid patients to safety-net health clinics. 

“Our study found that uninsured patients with chronic health issues – such as those suffering from hypertension, diabetes, asthma, COPD, congestive heart failure, depression or anxiety – relied less on the emergency department after they were linked to a local health clinic for ongoing care,” says Dr. Karoline Mortensen, assistant professor of health services administration at the University of Maryland School of Public Health and senior researcher. “Connecting patients to primary care and expanding the availability of these safety-net clinics could reduce emergency department visits and provide better continuity of care for vulnerable populations.”  

Funded by a grant from the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services and the Maryland Department of Health and Mental Hygiene, the initiative engaged all five of the hospitals operating in Montgomery County, Maryland at the time, and four safety-net clinics serving low-income patients. Using “patient navigators,” individuals trained to help patients find the care they need and can afford, these hospitals referred more than 10,000 low-income, uninsured and Medicaid patients who visited emergency departments to four local primary care clinics, with the goal of encouraging them to establish an ongoing relationship with the clinic and reduce their reliance on costly emergency department care. 

Two hospitals in Montgomery County who participated in the intervention continued the program after the initial grant period concluded because of the benefits they saw for patients and for reducing emergency department visits and associated costs. These hospitals are currently testing a new version of the intervention specifically deigned to link emergency department patients with behavioral health conditions to appropriate community-based services. 

While hospital administrators and health policy experts throughout the country are recognizing that access to primary care improves continuity of care for patients and reduces avoidable use of emergency departments, the implications of this project are particularly important for hospitals in Maryland, which are now operating under a unique all-payer model for hospital payments. Within this new payment structure, Maryland hospitals will have to meet ambitious spending, quality of care, and population health goals. Reducing avoidable use of emergency departments can help in reaching these goals.

The project provides promise not only for hospitals in Maryland but throughout the nation to improve health care experiences and outcomes for their patients. Shared learning systems were an integral component of the project so participants were learning from each other and sharing best practices throughout the project and that learning has now been documented and can be replicated in other communities.

“This was an incredibly rewarding project to work on,” says Barbara H. Eldridge, Manager of Quality Improvement at the Primary Care Coalition. “We created a learning system that permits us to sustain improved communication between patients and their providers, between hospital discharge planners and community based clinics, and across five hospitals operating in Montgomery County.” The initiative has proven successful in Montgomery County, Maryland and is being replicated in communities in other parts of the country. 

“Linking Uninsured Patients Treated In The Emergency Department To Primary Care Shows Some Promise In Maryland” was written by Theresa Y. Kim, Karoline Mortensen, and Barbara Eldridge and published in the journal Health Affairs

University Launches Dynamic, Interactive Information Website UMD Right Now

December 4, 2012
Contacts: 

Crystal Brown 301-405-4618 crystalb@umd.edu

College Park, Md. – Today, the University of Maryland launched a brand-new multimedia news and information portal, UMD Right Now, which provides members of the media and the public with real-time information on the university and its extended community.

UMD Right Now replaces Newsdesk, which previously served as the university’s news hub and central resource for members of the media. The new site is aimed at reaching broader audiences and allows visitors to keep up with the latest Maryland news and events, view photos and videos and connect with the university across all of its social media platforms.

“We designed UMD Right Now to be a comprehensive, vibrant site where visitors can find new and exciting things happening at Maryland,” said Linda Martin, executive director, Web and New Media Strategies. “Through social media, video, photos and news information, we hope to engage visitors and compel the community to explore all that Maryland has to offer.”

The new website, umdrightnow.umd.edu, contains up-to-date news releases and announcements, facts and figures about the university, a searchable database of faculty and staff experts, information highlighting innovation and entrepreneurship at UMD, additional resources for news media and other campus and athletics news.

“UMD RightNow is the place to go to find out all the things happening on and around campus on any given day,” said Crystal Brown, chief communications officer. “This website brings real-time news, events and information right to your fingertips.”

For more information and contact information for the Office of University Communications, please visit umdrightnow.umd.edu.

New UMD Model Analysis Shows Paris Climate Agreement Is ‘Beacon of Hope’ for Limiting Climate Warming & Its Damage

January 20, 2017
Contacts: 

Matthew Wright 301-405-9267, Lee Tune 301-405-4679

COLLEGE PARK, Md. – In December 2015, the world’s nations negotiated the Paris Climate Agreement, which seeks to limit global warming to a maximum of 2 degrees Celsius above pre-industrial temperatures. Using a University of Maryland developed climate model, UMD scientists have conducted a new, empirical analysis that indicates there is a good chance that the world will be able to limit climate warming to 2 degrees Celsius, or less, if countries achieve the greenhouse gas reductions pledged during the Paris meeting.

The authors describe their new findings and previously published model in a just published book: Paris Climate Agreement: Beacon of Hope.

“We’ve developed an empirical model of global climate that we use to forecast future temperature out to the year 2100,” said Timothy Canty, a research professor in atmospheric and oceanic science at UMD and a co-author of the book. “This is a model that ingests massive amounts of observational data.”

Climate models that forecast global warming use of one of four numbered scenarios to describe greenhouse gases in the future atmosphere. Researchers refer to these projections as representative concentration pathway (RCP) scenarios, each of which accounts for the influence of greenhouse gases and other pollutants on climate out to year 2100. RCP 4.5, one of the more optimistic pathways, assumes that human emissions of greenhouse gases will level off soon and then decline after a few decades.

“The most important result from our modeling efforts is that the RCP 4.5 scenario is the two degree global warming pathway,” said Austin Hope, a graduate student in atmospheric and oceanic science at UMD and a co-author of the book. “If the world keeps emissions to RCP 4.5, then we will likely stay beneath 1.5 degrees of global warming and almost certainly beneath two degrees of global warming,”

To achieve emissions reductions, the Paris Agreement requires each participating country to commit to a pledge, called an intended nationally determined contribution (INDC). Most INDCs only extend to the year 2030, however.

“Our research shows that if the Paris Climate Agreement is met, it will put us on the RCP 4.5 pathway, but this can only happen if two important things occur,” said Walter Tribett, a research scientist in atmospheric and oceanic science at UMD and a co-author of the book. “One, all conditional and unconditional INDCs must be met. Two, the mitigation of greenhouse gases needed to meet the Paris goal must be propagated out to 2060.”

Each INDC is different, based on the status and needs of each country. But most recognize the importance of non-emitting, renewable sources of energy.

“To achieve RCP 4.5, half of the world’s global energy must come from renewable sources by year 2060,” said Brian Bennett, a research scientist in atmospheric and oceanic science at UMD and a co-author of the book.

This is an ambitious goal that requires a large-scale global transition to renewable energy. Researchers can track access to electricity, most of which still comes from the burning of fossil fuels, using satellite imagery of night light across the globe. Noticeable differences exist between the developed and developing world.

“Europe is lit up at night where its large population centers exist. The United States is equally lit up at night and we are seeing China emerge in the night light data,” said Ross Salawitch, a professor of chemistry as well as atmospheric and oceanic science at UMD and a co-author of the book. “But largely absent in the night light data is India, and totally absent is Africa.”

The book’s authors suggest that the developing world will have a great need for renewable energy solutions. But the developed world has a large role to play as well.
“This will require large-scale transfer of technology and capital from the developed to the developing world,” noted Salawitch, who also has an appointment with UMD’s Earth System Science Interdisciplinary Center (ESSIC). “And at the same time this is happening, the developed world must reduce its own dependence on dependence on fossil fuels—not a little bit, but massively—by 2060.”

The book, Paris Climate Agreement: Beacon of Hope, Ross Salawitch, Timothy Canty, Austin Hope, Walter Tribett and Brian Bennett, was published by Springer Climate.

This work was supported by NASA (Award No. NNX16AG34G). The content of this article does not necessarily reflect the views of that organization.

To download a PDF of the book free of charge, or to purchase a hard copy: http://www.springer.com/us/book/9783319469386
For more information: http://parisbeaconofhope.org 

Tracking the World's Final Wilderness Frontiers

January 17, 2017
Contacts: 

Sara Gavin 301-405-1733

COLLEGE PARK, Md. — Researchers from the University of Maryland utilize satellite imagery to demonstrate that forest wildlands—forests least affected by human activity—are steadily shrinking and pinpoint ways to help preserve these landscapes that are critically important to the health of the planet.

Led by Associate Professor Peter Potapov from the UMD Department of Geographical Sciences, the research team used Landsat satellite images from 2000 and 2013 to map intact forest landscapes (IFL) around the globe. Researchers defined IFLs as areas of forest and associated naturally treeless ecosystems spanning a minimum of 200 square miles with no remotely detected signs of human activity. They found that these forest wildlands decreased globally by 7.2 percent during this time period—amounting to nearly 355,000 square miles lost—primarily due to industrial logging, agricultural expansion, fire and mining/resource extraction. Their work is featured in a January 13th publication of Science Advances.
 
“Forest wildlands have an extremely high conservation value and are irreplaceable due to the range of ecosystem services they provide such as harboring biological diversity, stabilizing carbon storage and regulating water flow,” Potapov said. “Furthermore, the size of the wildland matters: the larger the size, the higher the conservation value. That’s why we need to be concerned about losing any portion of these precious forest landscapes.”

Not only did researchers discover an overall reduction in IFLs worldwide, they found that the rate of reduction is increasing: The loss of tropical forest wildland tripled between 2011 and 2013 when compared to the period between 2001 and 2003.

During their analysis, researchers discovered that areas of forest wildland designated as legally protected areas were less likely to suffer a reduction in size and advocate for the adoption of more national and international policies to preserve IFLs and their abundant contributions to the environment.

Co-author Matt Hansen, professor of geographical sciences at UMD, emphasized the importance of intact forests, stating “The high carbon stocks found within forest wildlands alone illustrate their potential benefit to climate change mitigation strategies.  However, their stability can be compromised very rapidly. For example, increased human access through road building reduces forest intactness even without the loss of many trees. Importantly, IFLs only shrink in extent as they are defined as landscapes absent of observable human impacts.”

Along with Potapov and Hansen, the research team included Research Associate Svetlana Turubanova from the UMD Department of Geographical Sciences and partners from organizations around the world, including: Laestadius Consulting in Silver Spring, MD; Greenpeace; Global Forest Watch Canada; World Resources Institute; and NGO Transparent World in Moscow, Russia.

Related UMD research stories:

UMD Researchers Define & Measure Planet's Total Forest Area

Dynamic Alert System Will Protect Global Forests

UMD Leads 1st Local-to-Global Mapping of Forest

UMD Research Reveals Reason for Growing Pest Damage in Genetically Protected Corn Crops

January 10, 2017
Contacts: 

Graham Binder 301-405-9235 Lee Tune 301-405-4679

COLLEGE PARK, Md. – A UMD-led study provides new evidence of a decline in the effectiveness of genetically engineered traits widely used to protect corn crops from insects.  This loss of effectiveness could damage U.S. corn production and spur increased use of potentially harmful insecticides.

Based on two decades of field experiments by University of Maryland researchers, the study concludes that damage to corn crops from a major insect pest called corn earworm is increasing. Authored by two scientists from the University of Maryland’s department of entomology and one from Benzon Research, an independent contract research facility, the study documents the growing resistance of the earworm to protective “Bt” genetic modifications widely used in corn and cotton crops.

Lead author Galen Dively, UMD professor emeritus of entomology, predicts that corn earworm resistance to the Bt technology is likely to increase, and spread. His team’s results have broad implications for profitable corn production, biotechnology regulatory policies and sustainability of the use of Bt crop protection biotechnology.

Corn crops engineered with genes from the bacterium Bacillus thuringiensis (Bt) express specific proteins called Cry proteins (endotoxins) that, when ingested, kill crop pests like the earworm.  The Bt proteins are very selective, generally not harming non-target insects such as bees, wasps and beetles. Thus, its use is less environmentally detrimental than that of broad spectrum insecticides.  Bt modified crops are widely used and long have been effective in combating damage from agricultural insect pests.  In 2015, 81 percent of all corn planted was genetically engineered with Bt. Recently however, certain states, most notably North Carolina and Georgia, have experienced increased corn ear damage, setting the stage for risk of damage to corn production across a large portion of the country.

Development of pest resistance to Bt has previously has been reported in five insect species, but all have been in response to crops that express a single Cry protein.  This new paper is the first report of corn earworm resistance to multiple, or pyramided Cry proteins in genetically modified corn.  The report also illuminates a need for more widespread resistance monitoring for all registered Cry proteins, including the Midwestern corn belt.  Previously, resistance testing on corn earworm and other caterpillars has only taken place in southern production regions where Bt corn and cotton are prevalent.  

“My team is pleased to bring this information to the forefront of the farming and biotechnology industries, but recognize there is still much work to do in understanding the evolution of how corn earworm developed resistance to Cry proteins,” says Dively. “Unfortunately, with the realization of this resistance, many sweet corn farmers in Maryland have stopped growing Bt corn and by extension are applying more insecticide to combat pest infestation. Increased insecticide use is a time-consuming and hazardous long term approach, which provides strong motivation to find a comparable solution to Bt biotechnology."  

Dively’s report, “Field-evolved Resistance in Corn Earworm to Cry Proteins Expressed by Transgenic Sweet Corn”, was recently accepted and published by PLOS ONE, a comprehensive academic journal featuring reports of original research from all scientific disciplines. It can be accessed here.

 

Five UMD Alums Are Among those Selected for Forbes’ 2017 30 Under 30 List

January 9, 2017
Contacts: 

Lee Tune 301405-4679

COLLEGE PARK, Md. – University of Maryland alums Adam Behrens, Evan Lutz, Mackenzie Burnett and Dan Gillespie are among the “leading young change-makers and innovators in the U.S.” who were selected for the 2017 Forbes 30 Under 30 list.
 
According to Forbes, the list, now in its sixth year, highlights “30 game changers in 20 industries all under 30 years old -- 600 in total -- who are challenging the conventional wisdom and rewriting the rules for the next generation of entrepreneurs, entertainers, educators and more. . . . Their goal is nothing short of breaking the status quo and transforming the world.”  The 2017 selectees join a power-packed group that includes such previous 30 Under 30 honorees as billionaires Mark Zuckerberg and Evan Spiegel, Oculus VR’s Palmer Lucky, Global Citizen cofounder Hugh Evans, and theSkimm’s Danielle Weisberg and Carly Zakin.
 
The publication notes that competition for the 2017 list was more intense than ever with 15,000+ nominations for the 600 spots: an acceptance rate under 4 percent.
 
A. James Clark School of Engineering alumnus Adam Behrens (Ph.D. Bioengineering; B.S. Chemical and Biomolecular Engineering) was named to the 2017 Healthcare list in recognition of his recent efforts to advance the development of vaccines and diagnostic testing.  Currently a postdoctoral fellow at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology in the lab of serial biotech entrepreneur Robert Langer, Behrens is taking on germs in the developing world with two projects: an effort to make vaccines that don't require refrigeration, and a push to develop diagnostic tests that can detect infectious diseases at patient's bedsides. During his UMD undergraduate and graduate years of study Behrens worked under the guidance of Fischell Department of Bioengineering Professor and Associate Dean Peter Kofinas on the development of blood-clotting gel designed to quickly stop bleeding, and a low-cost alternative to sutures for use in a surgery.

Mackenzie Burnett (B.A. Government and Politics, B.A. International Relations) and Dan Gillespie (B.S. Geographical Information Systems), were selected in the Enterprise Technology category, cofounded Redspread, a collaborative software deployment tool startup, at UMD in 2015. A graduate of seed funding accelerator Y Combinator, Redspread was acquired in October 2016 by San Francisco, Calif.-based CoreOS, a platform for simplifying container management. At CoreOS, Burnett is head of product and Gillespie leads upstream Kubernetes development. Burnett is also executive director of Interact ATX, a nonprofit that helps connect young technologists and thinkers. While at UMD, Burnett and Gillespie helped cofound the UMD student hackathon Bitcamp. Burnett also served as executive director of Startup Shell, a student created and run incubator for UMD student startups.

Akshay Goyal, a 2010 graduate of the University of Maryland’s Robert H. Smith School of Business, made the cut in the Forbes 30 Under 30 Finance category. Goyal, who is a vice president in the private investment firm Starwood Capital Group, made his mark at UMD in many ways. He participated in the QUEST (Quality Enhancement Systems and Teams) and Gemstone honors programs, and served as an equity analyst in a Smith School class that manages the Lemma Senbet Fund. Goyal, who focuses on hotel acquisitions for Starwood, was the youngest vice president in the firms’s history when he was promoted to VP at age 26.

Evan Lutz, a 2014 alumnus of the Smith School, was recognized on Forbes’ Social Entrepreneur list as CEO and Co-Founder of Hungry Harvest, which buys "ugly" and surplus produce from farms in the Mid-Atlantic region of the U.S. and delivers boxes of fruits and vegetables via a subscription based model to customers in and around Baltimore, Philadelphia and Washington D.C. Hungry Harvest was created to simultaneously  address two problems:  (1) 20 percent of U.S. produce goes to waste, while (2) 50 million people in the country are food insecure.  To date, they've recovered 1.1 million pounds of fresh produce and donated over 300,000 pounds of it.  For every box of produce they deliver they donate 1 pound and sell 3 pounds at a lower cost to help families in need. In January of 2016, Evan Lutz was the 2015 Social Entrepreneur of the Year" for UMD’s Dingman Center for Entrepreneurship; and in January of 2016 he appeared on Shark Tank and received a $100,000 investment from Robert Herjavec for a 10 percent stake in Hungry Harvest.
 

Worldwide Urban Expansion to Claim Some 186,000 Square Miles of Fertile Cropland

January 4, 2017
Contacts: 

Sara Gavin 301-405-1733

COLLEGE PARK, Md. – A team of researchers from institutions around the world, including the University of Maryland, reveal that by 2030 expanding urban areas world-wide will swallow up fertile cropland equal to nearly twice the size of Florida, adding pressure to an already strained global food system.

Researchers estimate the area of land that stands to be lost through urbanization— more than 186,000 square miles or nearly 300,000 square kilometers—could produce enough food to provide 300 million people with 2,500 calories a day for an entire year.

Associate Professor Giovanni Baiocchi from the University of Maryland’s Department of Geographical Sciences contributed to the study led by the Mercator Research Institute on Global Commons and Climate Change (MCC) located in Berlin.

“We are witnessing an unprecedented transition from predominantly rural to urban lifestyles,” Baiocchi said. “Rapid and unplanned urban growth is further threatening sustainable development. As rapidly urbanizing regions of the Global South are increasing their dependence on food imports, millions of people in poverty are becoming more vulnerable to world food market volatility potentially exacerbating the problem of global income inequality.”

Results from the study entitled “Future urban land expansion and implications for global croplands” were recently published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences [USA]. According to the study, global urbanization will take place on agricultural land that is almost twice as fertile as the world average and the effects will be particularly severe in parts of Asia and Africa.

The scientists used spatially explicit urban area expansion projections developed by Yale University to conduct their research. They then combined these with land-use data from the University of Minnesota and the University of British Columbia on global croplands and crop yields. The MCC study examined the total loss of croplands worldwide. To determine the productivity of that land, the researchers used the aggregated production of the 16 most important food crops, including maize, rice, soybeans, and wheat.

Researchers estimate China alone will have to bear one-fourth of total global cropland loss, amounting to nearly 80,000 km2. Meanwhile, the challenge to African countries already greatly impacted by hunger and food shortages—such as Nigeria, Burundi and Rwanda—is compounded by two factors: the distinct vulnerability of many African countries to the effects of climate change, and the comparatively greater difficulties encountered by the unemployed rural population to gain a foothold in the urban labor markets. The study finds that urbanization in Egypt is also particularly pronounced and that by 2030, the country could lose about one third of its cropland.

“Policy-makers at the municipal level are now called on to take action. Their time has come, since urban planning is now part and parcel of world policy,” said Felix Creutzig, one of the study’s lead authors and head of the MCC Working Group on Land Use, Infrastructure and Transport. “Urban planners can contribute to preventing small farmers from losing their livelihoods. Spatially efficient urbanization could help to retain the existing agricultural system while continuing to provide small farmers with access to the urban food market.”

UMD Researchers Find Ultra-thin Solution to Primary Obstacle in Solid-State Battery Development

December 19, 2016
Contacts: 

Melissa Andreychek 301-405-0292, Lee Tune 301-439-1438

COLLEGE PARK, Md. — A team of researchers at the University of Maryland Energy Research Center and A. James Clark School of Engineering have announced a transformative development in the race to produce batteries that are at once safe, powerful, and affordable.

The researchers are developing game-changing solid-state battery technology, and have made a key advance by inserting a layer of ultra-thin aluminum oxide between lithium electrodes and a solid non-flammable ceramic electrolyte known as garnet. Prior to this advance, there had been little success in developing high-performance, garnet-based solid-state batteries, because the high impedance, more commonly called resistance, between the garnet electrolyte and electrode materials limited the flow of energy or current, dramatically decreasing the battery's ability to charge and discharge.

The University of Maryland team has solved the problem of high impedance between the garnet electrolyte and electrode materials with the layer of ultrathin aluminum oxide, which decreases the impedance 300 fold. This virtually eliminates the barrier to electricity flow within the battery, allowing for efficient charging and discharging of the stored energy.

A new paper describing the research was published online December 19 in the peer-reviewed journal Nature Materials.

“This is a revolutionary advancement in the field of solid-state batteries—particularly in light of recent battery fires, from Boeing 787s to hoverboards to Samsung smartphones,” said Liangbing Hu, associate professor of materials science and engineering and one of the corresponding authors of the paper. “Our garnet-based solid-state battery is a triple threat, solving the typical problems that trouble existing lithium-ion batteries: safety, performance, and cost.”

Lithium-ion batteries typically contain a liquid organic electrolyte that can catch fire, as shown by numerous consumer electronic battery fires and even the temporary grounding of the Boeing 787 fleet for a series of battery fires. This fire risk is eliminated by the UMD team’s use of the non-flammable garnet-based solid-state electrolyte.

"The work by [the University of Maryland research team] effectively solves the lithium metal–solid electrolyte interface resistance problem, which has been a major barrier to the development of a robust solid-state battery technology," said Bruce Dunn, UCLA materials science and engineering professor. Dunn, a leading expert in energy storage materials, was not involved in this research.

In addition, the high stability of these garnet electrolytes enable the team to use metallic lithium anodes, which contain the greatest possible theoretical energy density and are considered the ‘holy grail’ of batteries. Combined with high-capacity sulfur cathodes, this all solid-state battery technology offers a potentially unmatched energy density that far outperforms any lithium-ion battery currently on the market.

“This technology is on the verge of changing the landscape of energy storage. The broad deployment of batteries is critical to increase the flexibility of how and when energy is used, and these solid-state batteries will both increase the safety and decrease size, weight, and cost of batteries,” said Eric Wachsman, professor and director of the University of Maryland Energy Research Center and the other corresponding author of the paper.

“This [finding] is of considerable interest to those working to replace the flammable liquid electrolyte of the lithium-ion rechargeable battery with a solid electrolyte from which a lithium anode can be plated dendrite-free when a cell is being charged,” said acclaimed lithium-ion battery pioneer John B. Goodenough, Virginia H. Cockrell Centennial Chair in Engineering at the University of Texas, who was unaffiliated with the study. Read Goodenough’s full commentary on the Maryland team’s battery advance here.

The paper, “Negating Interfacial Impedance in Garnet-Based Solid-State Li-Metal Batteries,” Xiaogang Han, Yunhui Gong, Kun Fu, Xingfeng He, et al., was published online December 19 in the journal Nature Materials.

This work was supported by the U.S. Department of Energy ARPA-E RANGE (entitled “Safe, Low-Cost, High-Energy-Density, Solid-State Li-Ion Batteries”) and EERE (entitled “Overcoming Interfacial Impedance in Solid-State Batteries”).

University of Maryland to Host Winter 2016 Commencement

December 16, 2016
Contacts: 

COLLEGE PARK, Md. – The University of Maryland’s winter 2016 graduates will celebrate the culmination of their UMD experience at the university’s main commencement ceremony on Dec. 20, 2016. The commencement address will be delivered by David M. Baggett, a UMD alumnus and founder and president of Arcode Corporation. He will be joined by this year’s student speaker, Jacob Lowenstein, who is graduating with degrees in accounting and finance.

WHO:

  • University of Maryland President Wallace D. Loh
  • Commencement Speaker David M. Baggett, UMD alumnus and founder and president of Arcode Corporation
  • Student Commencement Speaker Jacob Lowenstein
  • December Class of 2016 University of Maryland Graduates

WHEN:
Tuesday, December 20, 2016

  • Processional – 5:40 p.m.
  • Ceremony – 6:00 p.m.

*Media should arrive prior to the processional*

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

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

LIVE VIDEO STREAM:
The ceremony will be streamed live on the University of Maryland’s YouTube channel here.

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

For more information, visit www.commencement.umd.edu

Pages

January 20
Colwell honored for a career of innovation and discovery, including work to understand the bacterium that causes... Read
January 20
Just published book outlines detailed analysis of likely results of meeting targets laid out in the agreement Read
January 17
UMD researchers measure global loss of wild forest landscapes Read
January 10
Scientists describe evolution of corn earworm’s resistance to a long-effective pest management biotechnology Read