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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.

University of Maryland, Baltimore and University of Maryland, College Park Researchers Collaborate to Address COVID-19

September 25, 2020
Contacts: 

Lee Tune 301405-4679  Mary Therese Phelan 443-615-5810

COLLEGE PARK, Md.. & BALTIMORE, Md.  The Joint Steering Council of the University of Maryland Strategic Partnership: MPowering the State (MPower), a formal collaboration of the University of Maryland, Baltimore (UMB) and the University of Maryland, College Park (UMCP), has awarded funding to five multidisciplinary research teams to respond to the impact of COVID-19 in Maryland and beyond.

After a review and ranking of 50 submissions by faculty peer representatives from both UMB and UMCP, the Steering Council awarded $500,000 in funding to five teams: two to support vaccine development; one to develop a rapid testing method; one to study psychological factors of vaccine acceptance among African Americans; and one to explore the use of an artificial intelligence tool for delivery of child behavioral health services via telemedicine in rural communities.

The Joint Steering Council issued the call for proposals to mobilize researchers at both institutions to bring solutions that would offer immediate action to address the COVID-19 pandemic and to prepare for future pandemics.

The request for proposals sought timely, impactful projects that would improve the health of Maryland residents by reducing the impact of COVID-19 through scientific, medical, public health, social, behavioral, or policy/legal approaches, or by supporting those most at risk or experiencing the greatest disparities in care.

UMB Interim Provost, Executive Vice President and Dean of the Graduate School Roger J. Ward, EdD, JD, MSL, MPA, is a member of the Joint Steering Council. “This pandemic is not just a medical crisis; it’s a complex human crisis, which requires a multidisciplinary response,” Ward said. “We knew that tapping the power of the strategic partnership would bring together top thinkers from all of the areas of our expertise in medicine and public health, as well as in the social and behavioral sciences, policy, and law.”

Funding was offered from $25,000 to $100,000 per award, for a duration no longer than 12 months.

“Through MPower, we can bring together our significant and complementary research strengths to respond to this public health crisis,” said UMCP Provost and Senior Vice President Mary Ann Rankin, PhD, who also serves on the Joint Steering Council.  “Our goal is to harness our collective faculty expertise to accelerate critical research that will reduce the impact of COVID-19.”

The winning teams capitalize on the research expertise of UMB and UMCP, and showcase collaboration across multiple colleges and schools. The selected teams consist of faculty from UMCP’s College of Arts and Humanities, School of Public Health, and College of Computer, Mathematical and Natural Sciences, partnering with researchers from UMB’s schools of medicine, pharmacy, and nursing.

“We knew we would get interest when we asked faculty to collaborate and bring multidisciplinary expertise to respond to this urgent health crisis, Ward said.  “But I was very pleased with the large response and the real potential for impact. I‘m looking forward to their progress.”

A look at the winning projects:

 

Predicting and improving COVID-19 vaccine acceptance among African Americans during the Coronavirus pandemic.

PROJECT SUMMARY:
As the world anxiously awaits a safe and effective COVID-19 vaccine, there is growing concern about vaccine hesitancy fueled in part by misinformation. The proposed research seeks to understand why African Americans, who suffer disproportionately from the adverse health and economic impact of the pandemic, might accept or reject the anticipated COVID-19 vaccine. The goal of this project is to develop and evaluate communication messages that could be used in a broader health promotion effort to improve COVID-19 vaccine acceptance among African Americans. Findings of this research will help address COVID-19 health disparities and inform pandemic vaccine communication across ethnic/racial groups.

FUNDING: $98,432

TEAM: 

  • Xiaoli Nan, PhD, UMCP, College of Arts and Humanities (ARHU), professor of communication, and director, Center for Health and Risk Communication
  • Sandra Quinn, PhD,  UMCP, School of Public Health, professor and chair, Department of Family Science, and Senior Associate Director, Maryland Center for Health Equity
  • Clement Adebamowo, MD, University of Maryland School of Medicine (UMSOM), professor, Epidemiology & Public Health, Institute of Human Virology / associate director of the Population Science Program, Marlene & Stewart Greenebaum Comprehensive Cancer Center
  • Shana Ntiri, MD, UMSOM, assistant professor, Family and Community Medicine and medical director of the Baltimore City Cancer Program, Marlene & Stewart Greenebaum Comprehensive Cancer Center

 

Development of a COVID-19 vaccine based on the supramolecular assembly of SARS-CoV-2 structural proteins using a novel immunoadjuvant delivery system

PROJECT SUMMARY:

This project will generate novel vaccine candidates for SARS-CoV-2 which are urgently needed due to the COVID-19 pandemic. The team will utilize an interdisciplinary approach with advanced computational design tools and high resolution structural characterization to produce and optimize vaccine candidates based on the Spike glycoprotein, which is a critical target of the antibody response to SARS-CoV-2.

FUNDING: $100,000.

TEAM:

  • Tom Fuerst, PhD, UMCP College of Computer, Mathematical and Natural Sciences, Institute for Bioscience and Biotechnology Research (IBBR), Cell Biology & Molecular Genetics
  • Matthew Frieman, PhD, UMSOM, associate professor, Department of Microbiology and Immunology
  • Gilad Ofek, PhD, UMCP College of Computer, Mathematical and Natural Sciences, assistant professor, Cell Biology & Molecular Genetics, IBBR
  • Brian Pierce, PhD, UMCP College of Computer, Mathematical and Natural Sciences, assistant professor, Cell Biology & Molecular Genetics, IBBR
  • Alexander Andrianov, PhD, research professor, UMCP College of Computer, Mathematical and Natural Sciences, IBBR

 

A rapid point-of-care testing for SARS-CoV-2

PROJECT SUMMARY:

This innovative project aims to develop a point-of-care test that can rapidly and effectively detect infections of SARS-CoV-2 virus, which causes COVID-19. One of the challenges in preventing onward transmission of the virus is the lack of a simple, rapid, and affordable test. Without a rapid test, it is almost impossible to early identify infected cases and isolate them from the community. This study meets this urgent need in this public health crisis.

FUNDING: $100,000.

TEAM:

  • Feng Jiang, MD, PhD, UMSOM, professor, Department of Pathology
  • Hongjie Liu, PhD, UMCP School of Public Health, professor and chair, Epidemiology and Biostatistics
  • Sanford Stass, MD, UMSOM, professor and chair, Department of Pathology – co-lead of COVID-19 testing initiative of Maryland
  • Nevins Todd, MD, UMSOM, clinical associate professor, Pulmonary Medicine

 

Molecular investigations of SARS-CoV-2 spike protein

PROJECT SUMMARY:

In infected cells, coronaviruses use host fat molecules to transport spike protein to the correct cellular compartment for progeny assembly. Researchers will use high-resolution imaging to discern atomic-level details of how host fat molecules modify the SARS-CoV-2 spike protein for transport. These architectural details will open avenues for computational screening of small molecules for inhibition of spike-fat interactions. This approach offers a potential means of therapeutic intervention in COVID-19 by inhibiting assembly and propagation of SARS-CoV-2 progeny.

FUNDING: $100,000.

TEAM:

  • Syed Saif Hasan, PhD, UMSOM, assistant professor, Biochemistry and Molecular Biology
  • John Orban, PhD, UMCP College of Computer, Mathematics and Natural Sciences, professor, Chemistry and Biochemistry, NMR Spectroscopy, IBBR
  • Alexander MacKerell, PhD, University of Maryland School of Pharmacy (UMSOP), Grollman-Glick Professor of Pharmaceutical Sciences, and director, Computer- Aided Drug Design Center

 

Developing an artificial intelligence tool to improve caregiver engagement for rural child behavioral health services

PROJECT SUMMARY:

The overall goal of this project is to study artificial intelligence based-technology strategies to help child behavioral health providers improve caregiver engagement in rural Maryland communities. With the recent pandemic, most of these services are provided “virtually” through videoconferencing platforms. The project will collect and analyze information from videotaped sessions (e.g. speech patterns, facial expressions) and assess the relationship between artificial intelligence measured engagement with provider and caregiver-reported engagement in care. The project will also investigate the association of social isolation with perceived caregiver engagement. This data could potentially be used to improve provider training and develop a tool that provides “real-time” feedback to providers on caregiver engagement.   

FUNDING: $90,522.

TEAM:

  • Gloria Reeves, MD, UMSOM, associate professor, Psychiatry, Division of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry, Vice Chair of Research Services
  • Aniket Bera, PhD, UMCP College of Computer, Mathematical and Natural Sciences, University of Maryland Institute for Advanced Computer Studies (UMIACS), assistant professor, Department of Computer Science, Maryland Robotics Center
  • Susan dosReis, PhD, UMSOP, Pharmaceutical Health Services, Research Vice Chair for Research, Pharmaceutical Health Services Research
  • Dinesh Manocha, PhD, UMCP College of Computer, Mathematical and Natural Sciences, University of Maryland Institute for Advanced Computer Studies (UMIACS), professor, Paul Chrisman Iribe Professor of Computer Science, and Professor of Electrical and Computer Engineering, Distinguished University Professor
  • Mathangi Gopalakrishnan, PhD, MS, UMSOP, research assistant professor, Pharmaceutical Health Services Research
  • Kay Connors, MSW, LCSW-C, UMSOM, instructor, Psychiatry
  • Kristin Bussell, PhD, CRNP-PMH, University of Maryland School of Nursing, assistant professor, Family and Community Health
  • Katrina Escuro, MD, UMSOM, assistant professor, Psychiatry

 

 

UMD's Scripps Howard Foundation Establishes Roy W. Howard Fellowship

September 21, 2020
Contacts: 

Josh Land joshland@umd.edu

COLLEGE PARK, Md - Furthering its investment in aspiring investigative journalists, the Scripps Howard Foundation has pledged up to $1.5 million to establish a fellowship program in honor of legendary journalist and news executive Roy W. Howard.

The Roy W. Howard Fellowship program will be open exclusively to journalists who have completed studies at the Howard Centers for Investigative Journalism at the University of Maryland and Arizona State University.

The Howard Centers, established in 2018 with a $6 million commitment from the Scripps Howard Foundation, are graduate programs administered by the Phillip Merrill College of Journalism at the University of Maryland and the Walter Cronkite School of Journalism and Mass Communication at Arizona State University.

The Roy W. Howard Fellowships are an extension of the Foundation’s commitment to the success of the Howard Centers and the education and professional development of emerging investigative journalists.

“Roy W. Howard was an extraordinary journalist and news executive of The E.W. Scripps Company who made an indelible mark, not just on the profession he influenced, but on the course of world affairs,” said Liz Carter, chief executive officer and president of the Scripps Howard Foundation. “He believed passionately in the important role journalists fulfill in a free society, so it’s fitting that the Howard Centers, and now the Roy Howard Fellowships, bear his name and further the cause to which he dedicated a lifetime.” 

The fellowships will be made available to up to 30 journalists during a three-year period beginning January 2021. The program will support a maximum of 10 fellows a year, and each will be assigned to work for 12 months at a nonprofit news organization selected by the Howard Centers. 

“This program is designed to offer fellowship opportunities for select graduates from the Howard Centers to further enhance their skills as investigative journalists working for professional news organizations,” Carter said. “The objective is to provide post-graduate journalists with a hands-on, real-world environment to develop their communication, collaboration, networking and leadership skills.”

The fellowships will provide a portion of each fellow’s salary, with the remainder paid by the nonprofit news organization hosting the fellow, a relocation stipend and funding for training. Fellowships will be awarded and administered in two annual cycles – January through December and June through May. 

“The Roy Howard Fellowships will not only provide a unique opportunity for a new generation of investigative journalists by placing them inside outstanding professional newsrooms, it will boost the ability of nonprofit newsrooms of all types to dig into stories that matter to America’s communities,” said Lucy Dalglish, dean of the Philip Merrill College of Journalism. 

The first class of fellows will be chosen in November and placed with participating news organizations such as InsideClimate News, the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists, NPR and PBS NewsHour in January 2021. 

As the philanthropic organization of The E.W. Scripps Company, the Foundation partners with the company and the Scripps and Howard families to create a better-informed world by advancing journalism and journalism education. The creation of the Roy W. Howard Fellowships is the latest addition to these ongoing journalism development initiatives, which includes the recently announced award of $600,000 toward a program to advance diversity in journalism, the Scripps Howard Fellowship program and the establishment of the Howard Centers for Investigative Journalism. 

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University of Maryland Names Dr. Spyridon Marinopoulos Director of University Health Center

September 18, 2020
Contacts: 

Katie Lawson lawsonk@umd.edu

COLLEGE PARK, Md. - The University of Maryland has named Spyridon (Spiro) Marinopoulos, M.D., M.B.A., F.A.C.P., Director of the University Health Center. As director, Dr. Marinopoulos will be responsible for overall strategic leadership of the Center, which provides health care services for students, faculty, staff, and visitors, as well as oversight of the Maryland Athletics medical staff. Also serving as the University’s Chief Medical Officer, he will lead and consult on all campus health and safety decisions related to COVID-19. 

Dr. Marinopoulos currently serves as the Director of University Health Services at Johns Hopkins University, where he is responsible for the healthcare and wellness offerings for students and trainees at the Johns Hopkins East Baltimore campus. In this role, he oversees the campus clinical services, including primary care and mental health, benefits and billing, and the Office of Wellness and Health Promotion. With an emphasis on student well-being, he has provided improved access to student services by increasing the availability of health care providers, achieved a decrease in the cost of student health insurance by creating a new funding mechanism for patient visits, and oversaw the relocation of the health center to help facilitate high-quality care. 

Dr. Marinopoulos takes over in January 2021, as Dr. Sacared Bodison concludes her term as interim director. Dr. Bodison will continue at the university in an advisory role to ensure a smooth transition of leadership at this critical time. 

“With health and safety as a top university priority, our campus is incredibly grateful for the strength of the University Health Center under Dr. Sacared Bodison, whose service to the University of Maryland spans nearly 35 years. While we continue to battle the COVID-19 pandemic, I am encouraged that there will be no lapse in fearless leadership as we welcome Dr. Spiro Marinopoulos to this important role,” said University of Maryland President Darryll J. Pines. 

“I am proud to accept this leadership role at the University of Maryland at such a crucial time for health and wellness in academia - and the world,” said Dr. Marinopoulos. “I look forward to contributing to the robust service offerings and student-focused approach to university health, and stand eager to address the many challenges presented by the COVID-19 pandemic.”

Concurrently, Dr. Marinopoulos is an Assistant Professor of Medicine at the Johns Hopkins School of Medicine with an extensive teaching and research background, having authored more than 30 peer-reviewed publications, including in the prestigious New England Journal of Medicine. Prior to joining Johns Hopkins, he completed his internal medicine training at the New York-Presbyterian Hospital, Weill Cornell Medical Center.

“Dr. Marinopoulos’ proven leadership at Johns Hopkins, in addition to his emphasis on student wellness and care for staff, makes me confident that he will immediately make an impact here at Maryland,” says Patty Perillo, Vice President for Student Affairs. “The exceptional University Health Center staff will continue to lead the way as we partner with state and county health officials, on behalf of the entire campus community. We are excited to have Dr. Marinopoulos at the helm.”

Dr. Marinopoulos is a Fellow of the American College of Physicians and a member of the Society of General Internal Medicine and the American College Health Association. He holds a Bachelor of Arts degree from the University of Chicago, a Master of Business Administration degree from the University of Chicago Booth School of Business and a Doctor of Medicine degree from the University of Chicago Pritzker School of Medicine. 

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About the University of Maryland
The University of Maryland, College Park is the state's flagship university and one of the nation's preeminent public research universities. A global leader in research, entrepreneurship and innovation, the university is home to more than 40,000 students,10,000 faculty and staff, and 297 academic programs. As one of the nation’s top producers of Fulbright scholars, its faculty includes two Nobel laureates, three Pulitzer Prize winners and 58 members of the national academies. The institution has a $2.1 billion operating budget and secures more than $1 billion annually in research funding together with the University of Maryland, Baltimore. For more information about the University of Maryland, College Park, visit www.umd.edu.

Virtual Conversation on UMD's Budget

September 14, 2020

All University of Maryland students, faculty and staff were invited to join President Darryll J. Pines and Vice President for Administration and Finance Carlo Colella to learn about and discuss the impact of COVID-19 on the university's budget on Thursday, September 10.

University of Maryland Launches New Social Data Science Center with Support from Facebook

September 9, 2020
Contacts: 

Laura Ours 301-405-5722, Mia K. Hinckle  301-405-1260, Lee Tune 301-405-4679

COLLEGE PARK, Md. – The University of Maryland’s College of Behavioral and Social Sciences (BSOS) and the College of Information Studies (iSchool) are launching a Social Data Science Center to help researchers better access, analyze and use powerful social science data. Such data is critical to understanding and addressing many of the pressing challenges facing the nation and world.

UMD’s new Social Data Science Center (SoDa) leverages the university’s strengths in survey methods, measurement, information management, data visualization, and analytics. Facebook is providing support for the center’s research and education programs over the next three years. SoDa already is collaborating with Facebook and with other universities to address the COVID-19 pandemic through a public survey tool.

The center’s co-directors are Frauke Kreuter, professor and chair of the Joint Program in Survey Methodology in BSOS, and Brian Butler, professor and senior associate dean of the iSchool. The executive director is Jody Williams.

SoDa Mission and Scope

“Effectively, ethically, and efficiently creating high-quality information products about human activity and behavior is critical for progress in many domains such as health, education, climate, policymaking, and government,” Kreuter said. “BSOS and iSchool colleagues are working with academicians and industry leaders across campus and around the world to address major societal challenges by first gathering and evaluating data.”

SoDa faculty and collaborators believe the unique challenges of working with social and behavioral data at ever-increasing scales, broader scope, and for novel purposes can be effectively done only by a multidisciplinary community of researchers who are able to draw on and contribute to basic research in a variety of domains.

“SoDa researchers solve data challenges with immediate, real-life implications. Whether improving measures of national economic activity or gathering COVID-19 symptom data, we transform the whole data life-cycle—how it is collected, analyzed, communicated, and visualized—enabling data-driven solutions to today’s critical problems,” Butler said.

SoDa currently is recruiting associate and affiliate members from across the university, and future plans include the introduction of a Social Data Science undergraduate major.

“There is a growing demand for social data scientists with the knowledge and skills to analyze large volumes of data and connect big data to human behavior. The value is in the treatment of that data. The mission of SoDa focuses on the mindful use of social scientific methodology and analytics in research, education, and application of complex digital data, key components to extracting valuable insights from modern everyday life,” said Williams. 

Multi-Institution/Facebook COVID-19 Public Survey Tool

Kreuter and SoDa colleagues are now working with researchers at other universities on a public survey tool to help to track the spread of COVID-19 worldwide. Facebook is assisting in gathering data about U.S. residents who are experiencing symptoms consistent with COVID-19. The researchers hope to predict virus “hot spots,” both in the United States and around the world. The survey asks respondents about  coronavirus symptoms, testing availability and results, and whether respondents have had contact with anyone known to be infected. 

The project expands on an existing Carnegie Mellon University/Facebook collaboration to track early symptoms of infections. UMD researchers are collaborating with the Center for Health Policy and the Freeman Spogli Institute for International Studies at Stanford University and the Johns Hopkins School of Public Health on the survey. UMD also hosts the international data.

 “We are thrilled to work with Facebook and other partners to take the symptom survey global. The survey data have the potential to help researchers better monitor and forecast the spread of COVID-19, and possibly when, where, and how to reopen parts of society,” Kreuter said.  

Related projects are developing across SoDa as researchers are building COVID-19 dashboards and other data visualization products. Researchers in BSOS’s Center for Geospatial Information Science are interested in incorporating the Facebook survey findings with COVID-19 maps that are already being produced.

Faculty, students, and staff from across UMD are encouraged to join SoDa in future discussions and projects.

A virtual launch event will be held for SoDa September 28–30, 2020, featuring panel discussions with center researchers and affiliates, as well as industry leaders. Learn more at socialdatascience.umd.edu.

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UMD's XFINITY Center Selected as Advanced Polling Location for 2020 Presidential Election

September 8, 2020
Contacts: 

Sean Ellenby, Assistant Athletic Director, sellenby@umd.edu, 301-314-8093 

COLLEGE PARK, Md. - University of Maryland’s Xfinity Center has been selected as an advanced polling center for the upcoming 2020 Presidential General Election. 

Xfinity Center will serve as one of 11 advanced polling locations in Prince George’s County from Oct. 26 to Nov. 2 from 7 a.m.-8 p.m. It will additionally serve as an Election Day voting center. 

“This may be the most significant competition ever to play out in our arena,” said University of Maryland President Darryll J. Pines. “Making it more convenient for voters and increasing turnout contributes to the cornerstone of our democracy. I’m extremely proud that our student-athletes took the lead in making this happen.”

The state-of-the-art Xfinity Center is currently home to the University of Maryland’s nationally renowned men’s and women’s basketball teams, in addition to its gymnastics, wrestling and volleyball programs. It also serves as the hub for the athletic department’s academic center and administrative offices.

“We are honored to open the doors of Xfinity Center to the general public as an advanced polling location for the upcoming presidential election,” said Director of Athletics Damon Evans. “This was one of the primary goals of our ‘VoTerp Initiative,’ and I am extremely proud of the committee members who brought this idea to life. Voting is fundamental to our human rights as American citizens and Maryland Athletics is humbled to play a role in the process.”

For further information on advanced polling locations in the state of Maryland, click here

Heaviest Black Hole Merger Is Among Three Recent Gravitational Wave Discoveries

September 3, 2020
Contacts: 

Kimbra Cutlip 301-405-9463

COLLEGE PARK, Md. – Scientists observed what appears to be a bulked-up black hole tangling with a more ordinary one. The research team, which includes physicists from the University of Maryland, detected two black holes merging, but one of the black holes was 1 1/2 times more massive than any ever observed in a black hole collision. The researchers believe the heavier black hole in the pair may be the result of a previous merger between two black holes.

This type of hierarchical combining of black holes has been hypothesized in the past but the observed event, labeled GW190521, would be the first evidence for such activity. The Laser Interferometer Gravitational-Wave Observatory (LIGO) Scientific Collaboration (LSC) and Virgo Collaboration announced the discovery in two papers published September 2, 2020, in the journals Physical Review Letters and Astrophysical Journal Letters.

The scientists identified the merging black holes by detecting the gravitational waves—ripples in the fabric of space-time—produced in the final moments of the merger. The gravitational waves from GW190521 were detected on May 21, 2019, by the twin LIGO detectors located in Livingston, Louisiana, and Hanford, Washington, and the Virgo detector located near Pisa, Italy.

“The mass of the larger black hole in the pair puts it into the range where it’s unexpected from regular astrophysics processes,” said Peter Shawhan, a professor of physics at UMD, an LSC principal investigator and the LSC observational science coordinator. “It seems too massive to have been formed from a collapsed star, which is where black holes generally come from.”

 See above Youtube video here showing a simulation of two black holes merging and emitting gravitational waves. Copyright © N. Fischer, H. Pfeiffer, A. Buonanno (Max Planck Institute for Gravitational Physics), Simulating eXtreme Spacetimes (SXS) Collaboration.

 

The larger black hole in the merging pair has a mass 85 times greater than the sun. One possible scenario suggested by the new papers is that the larger object may have been the result of a previous black hole merger rather than a single collapsing star. According to current understanding, stars that could give birth to black holes with masses between 65 and 135 times greater than the sun don’t collapse when they die. Therefore, we don’t expect them to form black holes.

“Right from the beginning, this signal, which is only a tenth of a second long, challenged us in identifying its origin,” said Alessandra Buonanno, a College Park professor at UMD and an LSC principal investigator who also has an appointment as Director at the Max Planck Institute for Gravitational Physics in Potsdam, Germany. “But, despite its short duration, we were able to match the signal to one expected of black-hole mergers, as predicted by Einstein’s theory of general relativity, and we realized we had witnessed, for the first time, the birth of an intermediate-mass black hole from a black-hole parent that most probably was born from an earlier binary merger.”

GW190521 is one of three recent gravitational wave discoveries that challenge current understanding of black holes and allow scientists to test Einstein’s theory of general relativity in new ways. The other two events included the first observed merger of two black holes with distinctly unequal masses and a merger between a black hole and a mystery object, which may be the smallest black hole or the largest neutron star ever observed. A research paper describing the latter was published in Astrophysical Journal Letters on June 23, 2020, while a paper about the former event will be published soon in Physical Review D.

“All three events are novel with masses or mass ratios that we’ve never seen before,” said Shawhan, who is also a fellow of the Joint Space-Science Institute, a partnership between UMD and NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center. “So not only are we learning more about black holes in general, but because of these new properties, we are able to see effects of gravity around these compact bodies that we haven't seen before. It gives us an opportunity to test the theory of general relativity in new ways.”

For example, the theory of general relativity predicts that binary systems with distinctly unequal masses will produce gravitational waves with higher harmonics, and that is exactly what the scientists were able to observe for the first time.

“What we mean when we say higher harmonics is like the difference in sound between a musical duet with musicians playing the same instrument versus different instruments,” said Buonanno, who developed the waveform models to observe the harmonics with her LSC group. “The more substructure and complexity the binary has — for example the masses or spins of the black holes are different—the richer is the spectrum of the radiation emitted”

In addition to these three black hole mergers and a previously reported binary neutron star merger, the observational run from April 2019 through March 2020 identified 52 other potential gravitational wave events. The events were posted to a public alert system developed by LIGO and Virgo collaboration members in a program originally spearheaded by Shawhan so that other scientists and interested members of the public can evaluate the gravity wave signals.

“Gravitational wave events are being detected regularly,” Shawhan said, “and some of them are turning out to have remarkable properties which are extending what we can learn about astrophysics.”

The video above shows a numerical simulation of two black holes that spiral inwards and merge, emitting gravitational waves. The simulated gravitational wave signal is consistent with the observation made by the LIGO and Virgo gravitational wave detectors on May 21st, 2019 (GW190521). Copyright © N. Fischer, H. Pfeiffer, A. Buonanno (Max Planck Institute for Gravitational Physics), Simulating eXtreme Spacetimes (SXS) Collaboration.

The research paper, “GW190521: A Binary Black Hole Coalescence with a Total Mass of 150 Solar Masses,” was published in Physical Review Letters on September 2, 2020.

The research paper, ”Properties and Astrophysical Implications of the 150 Solar Mass Binary Black Hole Merger GW190521,” was published in Astrophysical Journal Letters on September 2, 2020.

The research paper, “GW190814: Gravitational Waves from the Coalescence of a 23 Solar Mass Black Hole with a 2.6 Solar Mass Compact Object,” was published in Astrophysical Journal Letters on June 23, 2020.

The research paper, “GW190412: Observation of a Binary-Black-Hole Coalescence with Asymmetric Masses,” has been accepted for publication in Physical Review D, and was published on Arxiv on April 17, 2020.

About LIGO and Virgo

LIGO is funded by the NSF and operated by Caltech and MIT, which conceived of LIGO and lead the project. Financial support for the Advanced LIGO project was led by the NSF with Germany (Max Planck Society), the U.K. (Science and Technology Facilities Council) and Australia (Australian Research Council-OzGrav) making significant commitments and contributions to the project. Approximately 1,300 scientists from around the world participate in the effort through the LIGO Scientific Collaboration, which includes the GEO Collaboration. A list of additional partners is available at https://my.ligo.org/census.php.

The Virgo Collaboration is currently composed of approximately 550 members from 106 institutes in 12 different countries including Belgium, France, Germany, Hungary, Italy, the Netherlands, Poland, and Spain. The European Gravitational Observatory (EGO) hosts the Virgo detector near Pisa in Italy, and is funded by Centre National de la Recherche Scientifique (CNRS) in France, the Istituto Nazionale di Fisica Nucleare (INFN) in Italy, and Nikhef in the Netherlands. A list of the Virgo Collaboration groups can be found at http://public.virgo-gw.eu/the-virgo-collaboration/. More information is available on the Virgo website at http://www.virgo-gw.eu.

 

University of Maryland Announces Launch of the University of Maryland Research Leaders Fellows Program

September 1, 2020
Contacts: 

COLLEGE PARK, Md - The University of Maryland has announced the launch of a new University of Maryland Research Leaders Fellows Program for faculty this fall, October 2020. The program is designed to accelerate the growth and potential of future research leaders at the University of Maryland through an intensive 10-month, cohort-based leadership program with the goal of elevating the productivity, impact, and careers of UMD’s most promising researchers.  

 

The collaborative program will be led by the Office of the Vice President for Research (VPR) and will feature ten interactive modules that will prepare and position faculty to advance the growth of their research program to new levels of excellence. Approximately 18 Research Leaders Fellows from across campus will be selected to participate in the initial cohort.  

 

“The University of Maryland Research Leaders Fellows Program will further advance our research enterprise and prepare our faculty to lead large-scale, transformative research initiatives that achieve broad, societal impact,” said Vice President for Research Laurie Locascio. 

 

The new program will help faculty: 

 

  • Develop unique leadership skills 
  • Build and manage large multidisciplinary research teams
  • Learn approaches for creative ideation to formulate and capture big ideas 
  • Connect with a peer group of similarly focused and motivated researchers 
  • Receive individual, personalized mentorship from current research leaders at UMD  
  • Learn from other faculty who have successfully pursued and led center-level awards 
  • Discover proposal support resources available to help advance large-scale proposals

This program is specifically designed for recently tenured associate professors who have the potential to lead multidisciplinary research initiatives and direct future campus-wide centers or institutes. Nominations will be solicited from the Deans, and candidates are also encouraged to self-nominate, as well. Exceptions for assistant and full professors will be considered with appropriate justification. 

“We are committed to nurturing our young, talented researchers, mentoring them so they can lead the kind of projects that address the grand challenges of our time,” said University of Maryland President Darryll J. Pines. “They represent the next generation of leaders who will help take our research enterprise to new levels of excellence.”

 

About the University of Maryland

The University of Maryland, College Park is the state's flagship university and one of the nation's preeminent public research universities. A global leader in research, entrepreneurship and innovation, the university is home to more than 40,000 students,10,000 faculty and staff, and 297 academic programs. As one of the nation’s top producers of Fulbright scholars, its faculty includes two Nobel laureates, three Pulitzer Prize winners and 58 members of the national academies. The institution has a $2.1 billion operating budget and secures more than $1 billion annually in research funding together with the University of Maryland, Baltimore. For more information about the University of Maryland, College Park, visitwww.umd.edu.

 

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UMD Wins Five-Year Grant from the Department of Education

September 1, 2020
Contacts: 

Larua Cech lcech@umd.edu

COLLEGE PARK, MD – The University of Maryland Academic Achievement Programs has won a new five-year grant increase from the U.S. Department of Education for Student Support Services. 

The total grant, for $2,355,070 over five years, will fund counseling and academic services for low-income and first-generation participants. It represents a $15,925 per year increase over the previous grant. 

“We are thrilled--this grant boost means we’ll be able to help more students with underrepresented backgrounds but high academic potential achieve high academic performance,” said Dr. Jerry L. Lewis, executive director of Academic Achievement Programs (AAP). “This funding will make a meaningful difference at UMD.” 

There were, on average, more than 6,807 first-generation or low-come UMD students per year for the academic years 2016 to 2018. 

Studies show that academically strong students from low-socioeconomic backgrounds were less likely to graduate from college than students of similar or even lower academic ability from high-socioeconomic backgrounds. The gap is attributed, in part to: lack of confidence in seeking assistance with courses, lack of proficient computer skills (and computer access), and lack of family knowledge and experience to support the students. 

“In the current funding environment, extra resources are scarce,” noted William A. Cohen, Associate Provost and Dean for Undergraduate Studies. “That’s why this increase means so much: We’re able to help more students reach their full potential and accomplish their life goals.” 

The SSS grant provided by the U.S. Department of Education will seek to address graduation and retention rates and academic disparities through: 

  • A six-week Summer Transitional Program to help bridge skill deficiencies in college study and reading skills, mathematics and English, 
  • A math “boot camp” available to each beginning SSS students with math deficiencies, 
  • Advising and counseling strategies that include frequent meetings with students, 
  • Comprehensive tutorial support, 
  • Cultural and enrichment activities to contribute to students’ self-confidence, comfort, social capital, and academic engagement, 
  • Career, mentoring, and personal development activities.

Dr. Lewis speaks proudly about AAP’s experience in providing these student services. The department maintains, coordinates, and provides leadership, development, assessment, and  supervision for seven academic programs (Summer Transitional Program, Student Support Services, Intensive Educational Development, Ronald E. McNair Post-Baccalaureate Achievement Program, the Educational Opportunity Center, and the Educational Talent Search Programs (ETS) North and Central. These programs provide academic and counseling support to more than 2,500 low-income and first-generation participants annually who are University and Prince Georges County Public Schools` students, and adult learners throughout Prince Georges County.

For more information: https://aap.umd.edu/ 

About the University of Maryland 

The University of Maryland, College Park is the state's flagship university and one of the nation's preeminent public research universities. A global leader in research, entrepreneurship and innovation, the university is home to more than 41,000 students, 14,000 faculty and staff, and 388,000 alumni all dedicated to the pursuit of Fearless Ideas. Located just outside Washington, D.C., we discover and share new knowledge every day through our renowned research enterprise and programs in academics, the arts and athletics. And we are committed to social entrepreneurship as the nation’s first “Do Good” campus. For more information, visit www.umd.edu. 

Pages

September 17
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September 25
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