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University of Maryland Statement Against Hate and Bias

November 5, 2017
Contacts: 

 Katie Lawson, 301-405-4622

 
Statement Against Hate and Bias 
Joel Seligman, AVP for Communications and Marketing - November 5, 2017
 

UMD sincerely regrets the overwhelming misunderstanding resulting in the #UMDNotAHome social media conversation. The statements on social media connected to this hashtag do not reflect the positions of the university or our leaders' mutual commitment to diversity and inclusion on campus and across our nation.

To put it plainly, the UMD administration stands against hate and bias in all of its forms and wants every Terp to feel welcome, safe and at home at the University of Maryland. 

In recent months, there have been instances of intentional provocation by hateful, far-right groups spreading targeted messages that the administration finds despicable. These outside agitators want to divide our campus community into factions that are in conflict with one another from within UMD, rather than see our campus stand together in opposition to the broader forces of hate, white supremacy, anti-immigrant xenophobia, homophobia, transphobia and anti-semitism. 

It is understandable that some members of our community are also disturbed by remarks by university officials, even when the comments are quoted entirely out of context and in a manner that misrepresents the meaning. UMD has seen an example of one of our longtime colleagues unfairly criticized for her efforts to provide legal advice to the University Senate Campus Affairs Committee literally at the same time she is working to advance the cause of inclusion.

The administration encourages all members of our community to work together—students, faculty, staff, administrators and alumni—to increase respect, inclusiveness, and cohesiveness on our campus. A comprehensive list of efforts underway by UMD administration is available at umd.edu/umdreflects 

 

 

UMD Named a 2017 Best College by MONEY Magazine

July 12, 2017
Contacts: 

Jennifer Burroughs, 301-405-4621

COLLEGE PARK, Md.  The University of Maryland ranked No. 11 among public universities according to MONEY Magazine’s 2017 list of Best Colleges. UMD ranked No. 20 overall among U.S. institutions. 

To calculate rankings, MONEY assessed more than 700 colleges in the U.S. based on three equally-weighted categories, including educational quality, affordability and alumni success. MONEY measured 27 factors within these categories covering areas such as instructor quality, measuring the study-to-faculty ratio, affordability for low-income students and value-added earnings, which measures if the school is launching students to better paying jobs. 

Earlier this year, UMD was also ranked a Best Value College by ForbesPrinceton Review and Kiplinger’s Personal Finance

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.

Hornbake Library explores American Dream in Occupied Japan

October 11, 2018
Contacts: 

Eric Bartheld, 301-314-0964

COLLEGE PARK, Md.-- Featuring materials from the University of Maryland's renowned Gordon W. Prange Collection of publications issued during the Allied occupation of Japan, a new exhibit opening on October 19, Crossing the Divide, focuses on residents of communities built for U.S. military and civilians following the end of World War II. After Japan surrendered unconditionally to the United States and Allied Powers in August 1945, thousands of service members moved to Japan to oversee its rehabilitation.  

These U.S. transplants created self-contained communities, or “Little America” enclaves, where they enjoyed an American middle-class lifestyle in contrast to the poverty of the war-torn city.

“Crossing the Divide” explores how Japanese people participated in building an American Dream for the occupying military personnel and how through this experience the Japanese began to rebuild their lives and construct a new nation.

Japanese architects, designers, and engineers, for example, helped shape the communities by creating single-family households that fused Western and Eastern design sensibilities. These households, in turn, provided opportunities for young Japanese women to learn Western ways, often as domestic maids.

“Lots of women’s magazines published reports of these domestic maids and what they learned,” says Yukako Tatsumi, curator of the Prange collection and librarian for East Asian Studies. “How to cook, how to make the bed, how to make a table setting. That kind of modern expertise is something Japanese women longed for.”

Complex dynamics developed in the household relationships, Tatsumi says, but at their foundation was a desire of the women to learn English and household-management skills, and to earn income or materials goods to help support their families. “Japanese young women, highly educated, had the opportunity to gain firsthand experience of modern American household life,” Tatsumi says.

“This exhibit highlights the relevance of the Prange Collection beyond just those interested in Japan Studies,” says Tatsumi. “By showing the American influence, we’re showing the relevance to local audiences.”

The Gordon W. Prange Collection is the most comprehensive archive of publications issued in Japan during the first four years of the Allied Occupation (1945-1949).

Since the early 1990s, the UMD Libraries have partnered with the National Diet Library of Japan  to preserve and provide access to the materials in the collection, which fill a gap in the Diet Library’s historical record. Digitization of the 71,000 books in the collection began in 2005.   

UMD Researchers Receive $1.3M Grant to Build App Targeting Underserved Populations

October 10, 2018
Contacts: 

Kelly Blake, 301-405-9418

COLLEGE PARK, Md.-- A team of University of Maryland researchers is developing a new mobile app to help people without regular access to health care cut through the thousands of fitness, nutrition, brain health and other offerings by providing a sort of one-stop wellness shop.

UMD School of Public Health researchers are tailoring the app for African-American and Spanish-speaking users of smartphones, who will be able to set personal goals, enter personal and family health histories and access a variety of evidence-based information on disease prevention and health promotion. The project is supported by a new four-year, $1.3 million grant from the National Institutes of Health’s National Library of Medicine.

“Increasing amounts of health information and services are online, and many people have only a mobile phone, not a desktop or laptop computer,” said Cynthia Baur, an endowed professor and director of the Horowitz Center for Health Literacy who’s overseeing development of the app. “Designing a smartphone app for multiple health topics, instead of one for a specialized purpose, allows the app to be more relevant and useful in everyday life.”

Dr. Baur is a recognized leader in developing easy to use tools for health promotion including CDC’s health literacy website, which provides resources and online training to improve health literacy and public health and the CDC Clear Communication Index, a set of scientific criteria for creating clear public communication materials. Her approach is based in communication science and focuses on providing diverse audiences with information in ways they can understand and use.

The intended users frequently lack convenient access to doctors or hospitals, and only a handful of Spanish-language health promotion apps now exist. Researchers hope the app empowers these vulnerable populations to make the best health decisions.

The multidisciplinary team working on the free app includes faculty members in the departments of Behavioral and Community Health and Health Services Administration and the Center for Health Equity, as well as faculty from the Department of Computer Science. They will work with a community design team and conduct a yearlong field test with the people who will be its end users.

“We're working with community partners to include user feedback throughout,” Baur said. “we're using health literacy principles to make the app, navigation and content easy to understand and use.”

October is Health Literacy Month. The Horowitz Center for Health Literacy is one of the sponsors of the Health Literacy in Action Conference on Oct 25-26 at UMD. 

 

UMD Celebrates Homecoming 2018

October 8, 2018
Contacts: 

Natifia Mullings, 301-405-4076

COLLEGE PARK, Md. – The University of Maryland will host its annual Homecoming Week from Sunday, October 7 to  Sunday, October 14, 2018. UMD’s campus-wide celebration is centered around the Maryland Terrapins Football Game against the Rutgers Scarlet Knights on Saturday, October 13 at noon at Capital One Field at Maryland Stadium. This year’s Homecoming celebration will also offer dozens of Fearless and family-friendly events, including alumni gatherings, artistic performances, service projects and athletic competitions. 

 

Homecoming Week will kick off on Sunday, October 7 at 9:45 a.m. with a Terps Against Hunger Homecoming Service Project at the Adele H. Stamp Student Union. The two-day event will bring together volunteers from across campus and the local community to package 400,000 meals for local children and families suffering from food insecurity. 

 

A Conversation with AOL Co-founder Steve Case will take place on Tuesday, October 9 from 5 to 6 p.m. at The Clarice Smith Performing Arts Center. Organized by the Robert H. Smith School of Business, Case will share stories about his career as a founder, investor, presidential advisor, best-selling author and philanthropist. To register for this event, visit https://go.umd.edu/SteveCase.

 

On Wednesday, October 10 at 7 p.m. at Capital One Field at Maryland Stadium, Maryland Athletics will host a Mid-Field Homecoming Gathering, a rare opportunity to take a commemorative photo midfield under the lights while enjoying free Maryland Dairy ice cream.

 

The Homecoming Comedy Show, presented by Student Entertainment Events, features Ali Wong this year. The show will include a book reading and a Q&A session. There are two scheduled shows on Thursday, October 11 at 7 p.m. and 10 p.m. at Ritchie Coliseum. 

 

On Friday, October 12, Maryland will host Terp Carnival on McKeldin Mall, offering rides, games, prizes and entertainment for students, families, and the local community from 4 to 8 p.m. Guests will also enjoy a fireworks and laser light display on McKeldin Mall. 

 

To view the full Homecoming Week schedule, visit https://homecoming.umd.edu/. Follow the celebration and join in on social media with #UMDHomecoming.

Tropical Frogs Found to Coexist with Deadly Fungus

October 5, 2018
Contacts: 

Matthew Wright, 301-405-9267

COLLEGE PARK, Md.-- Amphibian biologists from around the world watched in horror in 2004, as the frogs of El Copé, Panama, began dying by the thousands. The culprit: Batrachochytrium dendrobatidis, a deadly fungus more commonly known as chytrid fungus. Within months, roughly half of the frog species native to the area went locally extinct. 

A new study led by University of Maryland researchers suggests that, within a decade, the species remaining in El Copé developed the ability to coexist with chytrid fungus. In a field study spanning the years 2010-2014, the researchers found that frogs infected with the fungus survived at a nearly identical rate compared with uninfected frogs. 

The results, published October 3, 2018 in the journal Ecological Applications, suggest that frog populations in El Copé underwent ecological and/or evolutionary changes that enabled the community as a whole to persist, despite severe species losses. According to the researchers, the results could mean good news for other hot spots of amphibian biodiversity hit hard by the chytrid fungus, such as South America and Australia. 

“Our results are really promising because they lead us to conclude that the El Copé frog community is stabilizing and not drifting to extinction,” said Graziella DiRenzo , Ph.D. ’16, biological sciences, now a postdoctoral researcher at the University of California, Santa Barbara, and the lead author of the research paper. “That’s a big concern with chytrid worldwide. Before this study, we didn’t know a lot about the communities that remain after an outbreak. In some areas, it’s still a black box.”

DiRenzo and her colleagues returned to the same small, 2-square-kilometer field site in El Copé every year from 2010 to 2014. They broke the field site down into smaller, 20-meter subsites, repeatedly sampling the subsites several days in a row within a season. Each time, the researchers tested individual frogs for the presence of the fungus while assessing the severity of any disease symptoms. 

The researchers then entered this data into a statistical model they developed to assess disease dynamics in communities beset by an outbreak. The frequent, repeated sampling of individual frogs in the field allowed the team to minimize biases by correcting the model for any animals that were present but unseen.  The results enabled the researchers to conclude that infected frogs were surviving at the same rate as uninfected frogs. This observation strongly suggested that the frog species remaining in El Copé developed the ability to tolerate the fungus and survive its deadly effects. 

“Our study found that, even though there are a lot of infected individuals, about 98 percent of them are infected at very low levels,” said Karen Lips, a professor of biology at UMD and the senior author of the study. “We know that, early on, several species played a key role in spreading infection, like Typhoid Mary. But some of these species are now gone, so the entire ecosystem is totally different. It’s almost not comparable to what was there before.”

DiRenzo, Lips and their colleagues suggest that the El Copé frog community stabilized through an effect known as “eco-evolutionary rescue.” In this scenario, some species may have evolved tolerance to the fungus while other highly infectious, “Typhoid Mary” species died off and stopped contributing to the spread of the pathogen. The fungus itself may have also become less virulent and the frog community as a whole may have undergone other types of restructuring.

The researchers note that, because the frog community in El Copé had been well-studied for years before the 2004 outbreak, the research site provides a rare window to assess changes to a frog community as a result of widespread chytrid infection. If the community has stabilized here, the researchers say, it is likely that other hard-hit frog communities elsewhere in the world may have undergone similar adaptations—even where disease has reduced the overall number of species and/or individuals. 

“The frogs of El Copé are not doing great, but they’re hanging on. The fact that some species survived is the most important thing,” Lips said. “If a species goes extinct right off the bat, it’s out of options. We know how all these species responded to the initial invasion. Now we know how the survivors are responding to continuing infection. We know there are several sites in the world that probably went through the same thing. If enough frog species in a given place can survive and persist, then hopefully someday a vibrant new frog community will replace what was lost.”

In addition to DiRenzo and Lips, Ana Longo, a postdoctoral associate in biology at UMD, also contributed to this research. DiRenzo completed part of the work while she was a postdoctoral researcher at Michigan State University. This work was supported by the National Science Foundation (Award No. DEB 1120161). The content of this article does not necessarily reflect the views of this organization.


Photo (l): The emerald glass frog (Espadarana prosoblepon) is one of the most abundant species at the study site in El Copé, Panama, following an outbreak of chytrid fungus in 2004. Image credit: Graziella DiRenzo.

Photo (r): Frogs of the genus Diasporus, such as this individual, are among the most common nocturnal frogs in El Copé, Panama, to survive following an outbreak of chytrid fungus in 2004. Image credit: Graziella DiRenzo.

 

 

 

 

 

 

UMD Part of Multi-Institutional Team Awarded $14.4M to Develop Innovative Language Technologies

October 3, 2018
Contacts: 

Tom Ventsias, 301-301-5933

COLLEGE PARK, Md. -- The University of Maryland (UMD) is part of multi-institutional team tasked with building a powerful set of language technologies that can unlock information that has previously been unsearchable, and ultimately unfindable.

The four-year project, funded by a $14.4M grant from the Intelligence Advanced Research Projects Activity (IARPA), is expected to produce a language processing system that allows a user to type in a query in English and have information returned in English—even if the content is only available in a lesser-known language like Croatian.

The project involves faculty, postdocs and students from UMD, Columbia University, Yale University, the University of Cambridge, and the University of Edinburgh. Columbia is the lead institution, with Kathleen McKeown, the founding director of Columbia’s Data Science Institute, serving as principal investigator.

The interdisciplinary research—already underway—includes experts in natural language processing, speech processing, and information retrieval.

“Today’s internet bring us closer together than ever before, but the diversity and richness of human language remains a challenge,” says Douglas Oard, a professor in the College of Information Studies (Maryland’s iSchool), who is heading up the UMD research team. “Computers can be trained to transform human language in many useful ways, but today that training process is still too expensive to affordably be applied to all the world’s languages, and too dependent on the artisanal skills of a small number of experts.”

Joining Oard at UMD are Philip Resnik, linguistics professor, Marine Carpuat, assistant professor of computer science, and Hal Daumé (professor of computer science and Language Science Center). These four faculty all have appointments in the University of Maryland Institute for Advanced Computer Studies (UMIACS), where they work together in the Computational Linguistics and Information Processing (CLIP) Laboratory, one of 16 centers and labs in UMIACS.

The system they are building, called SCRIPTS—which stands for System for Cross Language Information Processing, Translation and Summarization—will take advantage of the latest advances in computing technologies. This includes machine-learning algorithms that can sift through large amounts of human language, looking for commonalities in syntax and semantics.

When completed, SCRIPTS will be able to transcribe speech from multiple sources such as videos, news broadcasts and some types of social media. It will also process text documents like newspapers, reports and social media posts.

The system will use multiple strategies, such as matching an English query against translated documents and then summarizing the result. It will also be able to search and summarize directly in the foreign language, and then translate the selected summaries into English.

“The collection and analysis of information required to accomplish a specific intelligence task has increasingly become a multilingual venture,” says Carl Rubino, who is leading IARPA’s Machine Translation for English Retrieval of Information in Any Language (MATERIAL) program. 

For most languages, Rubino says, there are very few automated tools for cross-lingual data mining and analysis. “MATERIAL aims to investigate how current language processing technologies can most efficiently be developed and integrated to respond to specific information needs against multilingual speech and text data,” he says.

Currently, analysts must wade through multilingual document collections manually or use computers that are unable to translate languages that have a small digital footprint, known as “low-resource languages,” into English. In addition, many current systems don’t provide accurate translations of these low-resource languages.

For example, text written in Tagalog or Swahili—languages spoken by millions of people in the Philippines and East Africa, respectively—has far less digital content on which systems can be trained.

And if the language is originally retrieved from a news broadcast or other audio source, its pronunciation may not translate well to English, or there may be variable pronunciations for certain words, says Oard, who is an expert in cross-language retrieval.

“We’ve [already] built machines that learn from examples, but for these low-resource languages, we just don’t have enough examples,” he says.

This is where new technology will come into play. Using sophisticated “deep learning” systems, the SCRIPTS team will begin to compile documents in several low-resource languages that have been selected by IARPA as representative examples. They’ll develop new algorithms to analyze language patterns such as sentence structure and morphology, which is how words are formed and their relationship to other words in the same language.

Deep learning-based translation systems under development at UMD will take limited amounts of information from the low-resource languages, churn it with other language-related data from better-resourced languages, and come up with powerful new tools that will allow for the manipulation and transformation of content in those languages.

“In order for us to be able to do this kind of work, we need the ability to build new computing infrastructures that weren’t the same ones’ people were using as recently as five years ago,” says Carpuat, an expert in multilingual text analysis who is working on machine translation capabilities for SCRIPTS.

Perhaps of greatest significance, the researchers say, is that SCRIPTS is designed to incorporate four key areas of language processing—speech recognition, machine translation, cross-language retrieval, and information summarization—into one, robust platform.

“Translation, retrieval and summarization are all areas that CLIP has previously excelled in,” says Resnik, a computational linguist who is the current director of the CLIP lab. “But these tasks all needed to be done within separate systems. Now—with the use of deep learning neural networks—it allows us to combine functions and do a single ‘training’ of the system across multiple functions quickly and efficiently.”

Resnik says that in addition to the four UMD faculty, CLIP has added a postdoc and a research staff member to work on the IARPA project. There are also five UMD doctoral students involved with the research.

Looking ahead, the CLIP lab faculty envision even more powerful computing systems being used to assist with multilingual information management.

“Computational methods evolve rapidly,” says Oard, who notes that the Maryland team is already working across a full range of modern computing architectures—from high-performance computing, to the latest distributed processing systems, to deep learning clusters.

In the future, he adds, the researchers might even consider the next-generation quantum computing techniques being developed at UMD.

“We work together with sponsors like IARPA to leverage these technologies in the service of our society, to help transform the way we all can take best advantage of the increasingly information-abundant world in which we live,” Oard says.

 

About CLIP: The Computational Linguistics and Information Processing (CLIP) Laboratory at the University of Maryland is engaged in designing algorithms and building systems that allow computers to effectively and efficiently perform language-related tasks. CLIP is one of 16 labs and centers in UMIACS.

About IARPA: Launched in 2006, the Intelligence Advanced Research Projects Activity invests in high-risk, high-payoff research programs that address some of the most difficult scientific challenges faced by the U.S. intelligence community.

Pages

October 22
The Phillips Collection and University of Maryland present Hannes Koch and Florian Ortkrass, and Henry Elkus in... Read
October 11
Interactions between Japanese and Americans in war-torn Tokyo provide the compelling focus of an exhibit opening... Read