Facebook Icon Youtube Icon Twitter Icon Flickr Icon Vimeo Icon RSS Icon Itunes Icon Pinterest Icon

UMD Team Again Wins National Affordable Housing Design Competition

April 22, 2019
Contacts: 

Maria Day-Marshall  301-405-6795, Lee Tune 301-405-4679

 

COLLEGE PARK, Md. – For the second year in a row, a team of graduate students from the School of Architecture, Planning and Preservation has won the Innovation in Affordable Housing Student Design and Planning Competition sponsored by the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD). UMD teams finished first last year and second in 2016, their only two previous entries in the 6-year-old competition.

This year the University of Maryland team took first place and the $20,000 top prize with its design for Brooklyn Bend, a mixed-use housing and retail development for low- and moderate-income residents located along San Antonio’s Riverwalk. Results were announced Wednesday. Defending champion Maryland beat out more than 70 other teams, including the other three finalists, second place University of California, Berkeley, and runners-up Yale University and Virginia Tech.

Judges cited the team’s well-developed financial package and understanding of the concepts behind the proposal, and commended the project for having the highest population density among the four finalists. The design, which fronts the San Antonio River, emphasizes energy efficiency, water pollution control and promotion of healthy lifestyles.

Instead of a layout that included just one or two large buildings, the team designed a village-like development with a variety of housing unit designs and sizes to meet a wide range of needs, said Kyle Huck (dual master’s degree program in architecture and real estate development).

“All the proposals were unique in their own ways, but I think what set ours apart was that we really tried to use the site to its highest and best use,” he said, “and not just meet the requirements but to use the site as appropriately as possible to create a proposal that was more dense, which results in a greater amount of affordable housing.”

“We have a lot of dual degrees on our team,” said Cassandra Huntington (dual master’s degree program in architecture and real estate development). “The fact that we have the real estate development degree in addition to the architecture degree gives us a leg up on most of the competition, because we have a better understanding of both the design and the finance sides.”

In addition to graduate students Huck and Huntington, other members of the team are:  Lauren Stamm (master’s degree program in community planning); Andrew Mazer (master’s degree program in architecture); and Nyasha Mandima (master’s degree program in real estate development). The team’s advisors are Maria Day-Marshall, director of UMD’s Real Estate Development Program. and Rob McClennan, senior project manager, Bonstra | Haresign Architects, AIA, and UMD adjunct professor.

Donald Linebaugh, interim dean of the School of Architecture, Planning and Preservation, said the Maryland team's design demonstrated the strengths of the school's interdisciplinary approach.

"Their winning submission was a thoughtful and nuanced response to a challenging site along San Antonio's Riverwalk," said Donald Linebaugh, interim dean of the School of Architecture, Planning and Preservation. "They drew on their strengths in design, planning, and real estate finance to craft a project that put people and community first, activating the site and delivering a safe, affordable, and beautiful housing solution."

"With 12 dual degree programs in our School," explained Linebaugh, "MAPP+D is a national leader in interdisciplinary graduate education. And the students' innovative winning submission, clearly demonstrates the strengths of our interdisciplinary approach to the built environment."  

The San Antonio Housing Authority board, which is looking to redevelop the site, will review the winning proposal in coming months.

According to HUD, “the need for quality, affordable housing has never been greater,” and its affordable housing competition is intended to “advance the design and production of livable and sustainable housing for low- and moderate-income people through research and innovation.”

 

“When it comes to creating innovative affordable housing, HUD does not do this work alone,” HUD Secretary Ben Carson said in a statement. “Congratulations to the University of Maryland and all of our finalists, for their consciousness stream of good ideas that increases housing opportunity for Americans with modest incomes.”

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.

The Moon is Quaking as it Shrinks

May 13, 2019
Contacts: 

Matthew Wright 301-405-926

COLLEGE PARK, Md. -- In 2010, an analysis of imagery from NASA’s Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter (LRO) found that the moon shriveled like a raisin as its interior cooled, leaving behind thousands of cliffs called thrust faults on the moon’s surface. Now a new analysis suggests that the moon may still be shrinking and actively producing moonquakes along these thrust faults.

A team of researchers including Nicholas Schmerr, an assistant professor of geology at the University of Maryland, designed a new algorithm to re-analyze seismic data from instruments [seismometers] placed by NASA’s Apollo missions in the 1960s and ’70s. Their analysis provided more accurate epicenter location data for 28 moonquakes recorded from 1969 to 1977.

The team then superimposed this location data onto LRO imagery of the thrust faults. Based on the quakes’ proximity to the thrust faults, the researchers found that at least eight of the quakes likely resulted from true tectonic activity—the movement of crustal plates—along the thrust faults, rather than from asteroid impacts or rumblings deep within the moon’s interior.

Although the Apollo instruments recorded their last quake shortly before the instruments were retired in 1977, the researchers suggest that the moon is likely still experiencing quakes to this day. A paper describing the work, co-authored by Schmerr, was published in the journal Nature Geoscience on May 13, 2019.

“We found that a number of the quakes recorded in the Apollo data happened very close to the faults seen in the LRO imagery,” Schmerr said, noting that the LRO imagery also shows physical evidence of geologically recent fault movement, such as landslides and tumbled boulders. “It’s quite likely that the faults are still active today. You don’t often get to see active tectonics anywhere but Earth, so it’s very exciting to think these faults may still be producing moonquakes.”

During the Apollo missions astronauts placed a number of different instruments on the moon, including five seismometers on the moon’s surface during the Apollo 11, 12, 14, 15 and 16 missions. The Apollo 11 seismometer operated only for three weeks, but the four remaining instruments recorded 28 shallow moonquakes—the type produced by tectonic faults—from 1969 to 1977. On Earth, the quakes would have ranged in magnitude from about 2 to 5.

 

Using the revised location estimates from their new algorithm, the researchers found that the epicenters of eight of those 28 shallow quakes were within 19 miles of faults visible in the LRO images. This was close enough for the team to conclude that the faults likely caused the quakes. Schmerr led the effort to produce “shake maps” derived from models that predict where the strongest shaking should occur, given the size of the thrust faults.

The researchers also found that six of the eight quakes happened when the moon was at or near its apogee, the point in the moon’s orbit when it is farthest from Earth. This is where additional tidal stress from Earth’s gravity causes a peak in the total stress on the moon’s crust, making slippage along the thrust faults more likely.

“We think it’s very likely that these eight quakes were produced by faults slipping as stress built up when the lunar crust was compressed by global contraction and tidal forces, indicating that the Apollo seismometers recorded the shrinking moon and the moon is still tectonically active,” said Thomas Watters, lead author of the research paper and senior scientist in the Center for Earth and Planetary Studies at the Smithsonian Institution in Washington.

Much as a grape wrinkles as it dries to become a raisin, the moon also wrinkles as its interior cools and shrinks. Unlike the flexible skin on a grape, however, the moon’s crust is brittle, causing it to break as the interior shrinks. This breakage results in thrust faults, where one section of crust is pushed up over an adjacent section. These faults resemble small stair-shaped cliffs, or scarps, when seen from the lunar surface; each is roughly tens of yards high and a few miles long.

The LRO has imaged more than 3,500 fault scarps on the moon since it began operation in 2009. Some of these images show landslides or boulders at the bottom of relatively bright patches on the slopes of fault scarps or nearby terrain. Because weathering gradually darkens material on the lunar surface, brighter areas indicate regions that are freshly exposed by an event such as a moonquake.

Other LRO fault images show fresh tracks from boulder falls, suggesting that quakes sent these boulders rolling down their cliff slopes. Such tracks would be erased relatively quickly, in terms of geologic time, by the constant rain of micrometeoroid impacts on the moon. With nearly a decade of LRO imagery already available and more on the way in the coming years, the team would like to compare pictures of specific fault regions from different times to look for fresh evidence of recent moonquakes.

“For me, these findings emphasize that we need to go back to the moon,” Schmerr said. “We learned a lot from the Apollo missions, but they really only scratched the surface. With a larger network of modern seismometers, we could make huge strides in our understanding of the moon’s geology. This provides some very promising low-hanging fruit for science on a future mission to the moon.”

This release is adapted from text provided by NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center.

The research paper, “Shallow seismic activity and young thrust faults on the Moon,” Thomas Watters, Renee Weber, Geoffrey Collins, Ian Howley, Nicholas Schmerr and Catherine Johnson, was published in the journal Nature Geoscience on May 13, 2019.

This work was supported by NASA’s Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter Project and the Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council of Canada. The content of this article does not necessarily reflect the views of these organizations.

Four Terp Students Named 2019 Goldwater Scholars

May 10, 2019
Contacts: 

Irene Ying 301-405-5204,

COLLEGE PARK, Md. – Four University of Maryland undergraduates have been awarded scholarships by the Barry Goldwater Scholarship and Excellence in Education Foundation, which encourages students to pursue advanced study and research careers in the sciences, engineering and mathematics

Over the last decade, UMD’s nominations have yielded 33 scholarships—the most in the nation, followed by Stanford University with 29. Goldwater Scholars receive one- or two-year $7,500 scholarships intended as a stepping-stone to research careers.

UMD’s four winners—a computer science and mathematics double major and three physics majors—all plan to pursue Ph.D.s.

Yaelle Goldschlag is seeking double degrees in computer science and mathematics and is a member of the Advanced Cybersecurity Experience for Students (ACES) program in the Honors College as well as a Banneker/Key Scholar. She is interested in computer security and privacy, with a focus on identity verification.She began conducting research with Dave Levin, an assistant professor of computer science at UMD, in 2018 and is a founding member of Levin’s Breakerspace, a laboratory for undergraduate cybersecurity research. Goldschlag searches for more effective ways to verify the identity of web domain owners, and co-presented research on hackers’ ploys to impersonate legitimate sites at the Association for Computing Machinery’s 2018 Internet Measurement Conference.

In addition to internships at Facebook and elsewhere, she taught a student-initiated course (STIC) in computer science and served as an ambassador for the Maryland Center for Women in Computing.

“Yaelle repeatedly exhibits initiative, creativity, skill at problem selection, and a slew of intangibles that will collectively serve her in becoming a leader in what I expect to be a very long career in research,” Levin said.

John Martyn, a physics major and member of the University Honors Program in the Honors College, is interested in quantum information and quantum matter, as well as quantum computing. Since 2017, he has worked with physics Assistant Professor Brian Swingle on various aspects of quantum information, and developed a method to prepare approximations to thermal states that may one day enable quantum computers to study quantum matter systems and models of black holes. Martyn presented this work at the 2019 American Physical Society March Meeting and the 2019 National Collegiate Research Conference.

Martyn helped administer the High Energy Physics computing cluster at UMD and conducted research with the Laser Interferometer Gravitational-Wave Observatory (LIGO) team at the California Institute of Technology, where he investigated quantum noise in LIGO’s gravitational wave detectors. For this work, Martyn received the 2018 Carl Albert Rouse Undergraduate Research Fellowship from the National Society of Black Physicists.

“John really strives for perfection in his work and has already demonstrated many of the skills needed to function as an independent researcher,” Swingle said.

Nicholas Poniatowski, who is majoring in physics, is interested in the study of superconductivity in unconventional materials. Working with UMD physics Professor Richard Greene at the Center for Nanophysics and Advanced Materials, Poniatowski studies a family of copper-oxide materials called cuprates—high-temperature superconductors that can exhibit superconductivity closer to room temperature.

In one project, Poniatowski and collaborators found that a particular cuprate responded in unexpected ways to variations in temperature and magnetic field, offering clues to the origin of high-temperature superconductivity in cuprates. This work will be published later this month in Science Advances, and  Poniatowski presented further results related to this work at the 2019 APS March Meeting.

In addition, Poniatowski authored an article, forthcoming in the American Journal of Physics, describing the theoretical relationship between superconductivity and the Higgs mechanism in the standard model.

“Nick is extraordinary at both theory and experiment, a combination of skills that is very rarely seen,” said Greene. “He has tremendous potential for significant experimental research contributions in the future.”

Mark Zic, also majoring in physics, is a member of the University Honors Program in the Honors College. He focuses on topological materials and superconductors, which have potential applications in quantum computing.

Working with Johnpierre Paglione, professor of physics and director of the Center for Nanophysics and Advanced Materials, Zic helped discover and characterize a novel potential superconductor, with a resulting study published in Physical Review B in 2018.

In addition, Zic led an effort to use the UMD Radiation Facilities to irradiate quantum materials to characterize their physical properties for potential use in quantum technologies, presenting this work at the 2018 Canadian Institute for Advanced Research Quantum Materials Summer School and Program Meeting. Zic also assisted in experiments using ultracold temperatures to characterize a new superconductor that survives under extremely high magnetic fields. This work will be published in the journal Science.

“Mark has continued to surprise me with his abilities, initiative and progress,” Paglione said. “He has engaged in not one, but three graduate or even postgraduate-level projects in the last year and shows no signs of slowing down. He is a true asset to our center.”




For Some Fish Deep and Dark May Still be Colorful

May 10, 2019
Contacts: 

Kimbra Cutlip 301-405-9463

COLLEGE PARK, Md. – An international team of researchers discovered a previously unknown visual system that may allow color vision in deep, dark waters where animals were presumed to be colorblind. The research appears on the cover of the May 10, 2019, issue of the journal Science.

“This is the first paper that examines a diverse set of fishes and finds how versatile and variable their visual systems can be,” said Karen Carleton, a biology professor at the University of Maryland and co-author of the paper. “The genes that determine the spectrum of light our eyes are sensitive to turn out to be a much more variable set of genes, causing greater visual system evolution much more quickly than we anticipated.”

Vertebrate eyes use two types of photoreceptor cells to see—rods and cones. Both rods and cones contain light-sensitive pigments called opsins, which absorb specific wavelengths of light and convert them into electrochemical signals that the brain interprets as color. The number and type of opsins expressed in a photoreceptor cell determine the colors an animal perceives.

Before this new study, it was accepted that cones are responsible for color vision, and rods are responsible for detecting brightness in dim conditions. 

This new work indicates that is not strictly the case. By analyzing the genomes of 101 fish, the team of researchers from the University of Maryland, the University of Queensland in Australia, Charles University in the Czech Republic and the University of Basel in Switzerland discovered that some fish contained multiple rod opsins raising the possibility they have rod-based color vision.

Cones typically contain genes for expressing multiple opsins, which is why they are used for color vision. But they are not as sensitive as rods, which can detect a single photon and are used for low-light vision. In 99% of all vertebrates, rods express just one type of light-sensitive opsin, which means the vast majority of vertebrates are colorblind in low-light conditions.

Vision in most deep-sea fish follows this same pattern, but the new research revealed some remarkable exceptions. By analyzing the genes for expressing opsins in rods and cones of fish living from the shallow surface waters down to 6,500 feet of depth, the researchers found 13 fish with rods that contained more than one opsin gene. Four of those, all deep-sea fish, contained more than three rod opsin genes.

Most remarkable was the silver spinyfin fish, which had a surprising 38 rod opsin genes. That is more opsins than the researchers found in the cones of any other fish and the highest number of opsins found in any known vertebrate. (Human vision by comparison uses four opsins). In addition, the rod opsins found in silver spinyfin fish are sensitive to different wavelengths.

“This was very surprising,” Carleton said. “It means the silver spinyfin fish have very different visual capabilities than we thought. So, the question then is, what good is that? What could these fish use these spectrally different opsins for?”                                               

Carleton believes the answer may have to do with detecting the right prey. It has long been presumed that animals living in very deep water have no need for color vision, because only blue light penetrates deeper than 600 feet. But despite the lack of sunlight, the deep sea is not devoid of color. Many animals that live in darkness generate their own light through bioluminescence.

The new study found that in fish with multiple rod opsins, the specific wavelength of light their opsins are tuned to overlap with the spectrum of light emitted by the bioluminescent creatures that share their habitat.

“It may be that their vision is highly tuned to the different colors of light emitted from the different species they prey on,” Carleton said.

It’s important to note that the four species of fish found to have more than three rod opsins are unrelated species. This suggests that rod-based color vision, which can be thought of as deep-water color vision, evolved independently multiple times and must confer some benefit to survival.  

The researchers say their next steps are to broaden the study to other deep-sea fish and to look for shallow-water relatives of silver spinyfin fish that may have evolved a large number of rod opsins.

The research paper “Vision using multiple distinct rod opsins in deep-sea fishes,” Zuzana Musilova, Fabio Cortesi1, Michael Matschiner, Wayne I. L. Davies, Jagdish Suresh Patel, Sara M. Stieb, Fanny de Busserolles, Martin Malmstrøm, Ole K. Tørresen, Celeste J. Brown11, Jessica K. Mountford, Reinhold Hanel, Deborah L. Stenkamp, Kjetill S. Jakobsen, Karen L. Carleton, Sissel Jentoft, Justin Marshall, Walter Salzburger, was published in the journal Science on May 10, 2019.

This study was supported by the Czech Science Foundation (Award No. 16-09784Y), the Swiss National Science Foundation (Award Nos. 166550, 156405, 176039, 165364), the Basler Stiftung für Experimentelle Zoologie, a UQ Development Fellowship, the Australian Research Council (Award Nos. FT110100176, LP0775179), a Discovery Project grant (Award No. DP140102117), the Research Council of Norway (Award No. 222378), the Center for Modeling Complex Interactions sponsored by the NIGMS (Award No.  P20 GM104420), the National Science Foundation (Award No. OIA1736253), the National Institutes of Health (Award Nos. 01EY012146, R01EY024639) and the European Research Council. The content of this article does not necessarily reflect the views of these organizations.

Reversible Chemistry Clears Path for Safer Batteries

May 9, 2019
Contacts: 

Martha Heil 301-405-0876 

Ji Chen (R) and Chongyin Yang (L) show Prof. Chunsheng Wang (C) energy performance results for the group's new battery

 

COLLEGE PARK -- Researchers at the University of Maryland (UMD) and US Army Research Lab (ARL) have taken a critical step on the path to better high energy batteries by improving their water-in-salt battery with a new type of chemical transformation of the cathode that creates a reversible solid salt layer, a phenomenon yet unknown in the field of water-based batteries.

Building on their previous discoveries of the water-in-salt electrolytes reported in Science in 2015, the researchers added a new cathode. This new cathode material, lacking transition metal, operates at an average potential of 4.2 volts with excellent cycling stability, and delivers an unprecedented energy density comparable, or perhaps higher than, non-aqueous Li-ion batteries. The authors report their work on May 9 in the journal Nature.

“The University of Maryland and ARL research has produced the most creative new battery chemistry I have seen in at least 10 years,” said Prof. Jeffrey Dahn of Dalhousie University in Canada, an expert in the field not affiliated with the research. “However, it remains to be seen if a practical device with long lifetime can be created."

Leveraging the reversible halogens intercalation in graphite structures, enabled by a super-concentrated aqueous electrolyte, the team generated an energy density previously thought impossible. The researchers found that the super-concentrated solution of the water-in-salt battery, combined with graphite anode’s ability to automatically build and re-form a protective layer within the battery, gave a stable and long lasting battery with high energy.

“This new cathode chemistry happens to be operating ideally in our previously-developed ‘water-in-salt’ aqueous electrolyte, which makes it even more unique - it combines high energy density of non-aqueous systems with high safety of aqueous systems,” said a co-first author of the paper, Chongyin Yang, an assistant research scientist in the UMD department of chemical & biomolecular engineering.

“This new ‘Conversion-Intercalation’ chemistry inherits the high energy of conversion-reaction and the excellent reversibility from intercalation of graphite,” said Ji Chen, co-first author of the paper and a research associate in the department of chemical & biomolecular engineering.   

The team of researchers—led by Chunsheng Wang, ChBE Professor with a dual appointment in the Department of Chemistry and Biochemistry;  Kang Xu, ARL Fellow; and Oleg Borodin, ARL scientist -- have advanced the battery into a testable stage: the size of a small button, typically used as a test vehicle in research labs. More research is needed to scale it up into a practical, manufacturable battery.

The energy output of the water-based battery reported in this study boasts 25% increased energy density of an ordinary cell phone battery based on flammable organic liquids, but is much safer. The new cathode is able to hold 240 milliamps per gram for an hour of operation, roughly twice that of a typical cathode currently found in cell phones and laptops.

The water-in-salt battery could ultimately be used in applications involving large energies at kilowatt or megawatt levels, or where battery safety and toxicity are primary concerns, including non-flammable batteries for airplanes, naval vessels, or spaceships.

For additional information:

Aqueous Li-ion Battery Enabled by Halogen Conversion-Intercalation Chemistry in Graphite

Nature, May 9, 2019. DOI: 10.1038/s41586-019-1175-6: https://www.nature.com/articles/s41586-019-1175-6

The principal investigators (C.W. and K.X.) received financial support from the US Department of Energy (DOE) ARPA-E Grant DEAR0000389. This research used resources of the Advanced Photon Source, an Office of Science User Facility operated for the U.S. DOE Office of Science by Argonne National Laboratory, and was supported by the U.S. DOE under Contract No. DE-AC02-06CH11357, and the Canadian Light Source and its funding partners.

Previous UMD water-in-salt battery stories:

https://umdrightnow.umd.edu/news/more-salt-equals-more-power-safe-green-water-based-battery-tech

https://umdrightnow.umd.edu/news/umd-army-researchers-discover-solution-better-safer-batteries

 

Pages

May 16
Work by UMD computer scientists offers a way to radically enhance the ability of AI to translate sensory input into... Read
May 13
The moon is still tectonically active, according to new findings by a multi-institutional team of researchers Read
May 10
UMD Leads Nation With 33 Goldwater Scholarships in Past Decade  Read
May 10
 New research reveals signs of highly sensitive color vision in fish that live in the abyss beyond sunlight’s reach Read