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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.

UMD-Led Study Shows Fear and Anxiety Share Same Bases in Brain

October 19, 2020
Contacts: 

Lee Tune 301-405-4679

COLLEGE PARK, Md. – Anxiety, the most common family of mental illnesses in the U.S., has been pushed to epic new heights by the COVID-19 pandemic, with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention estimating that nearly 1 in 3 U.S. adults and a staggering 41% of people ages 18-29 experienced clinically significant anxiety symptoms in late August. Now, the findings of a recent UMD-led study indicate that some long-accepted thinking about the basic neuroscience of anxiety is wrong.

The report by an international team of researchers led by Alexander Shackman, an associate professor of psychology at UMD, and Juyoen Hur, an assistant professor of psychology at Yonsei University in Seoul, South Korea, provides new evidence that fear and anxiety reflect overlapping brain circuits. The findings run counter to popular scientific accounts, highlighting the need for a major theoretical reckoning. The study was published last week  in the Journal of Neuroscience.

“The conceptual distinction between ‘fear’ and ‘anxiety’ dates back to the time of Freud, if not the Greek philosophers of antiquity,” said Shackman, a core faculty member of  UMD’s Neuroscience and Cognitive Science Program, and 2018 recipient of a seed grant award from UMD’s Brain and Behavior Initiative, “In recent years, brain imagers and clinicians have extended this distinction, arguing that fear and anxiety are orchestrated by distinct neural networks.  

However,  Shackman says their new study adds to a rapidly growing body of new evidence suggesting that this old mode is wrong. “If anything, fear and anxiety seem to be constructed in the brain using a massively overlapping set of neural building blocks,” he said. 

Prevailing scientific theory holds that fear and anxiety are distinct, with different triggers and strictly segregated brain circuits. Fear—a fleeting reaction to certain danger—is thought to be controlled by the amygdala, a small almond-shaped region buried beneath the wrinkled convolutions of the cerebral cortex. By contrast, anxiety—a persistent state of heightened apprehension and arousal elicited when threat is uncertain—is thought to be orchestrated by the neighboring bed nucleus of the stria terminalis (BNST). But new evidence from Shackman and his colleagues suggests that both of these brain regions are equally sensitive to certain and uncertain kinds of threats.

Leveraging cutting-edge neuroimaging techniques available at the Maryland Neuroimaging Center, their research team used fMRI to quantify neural activity while participants anticipated receiving a painful shock paired with an unpleasant image and sound—a new task that the researchers dubbed the “Maryland Threat Countdown”. 

The timing of this “threat” was signaled either by a conventional countdown timer—i.e. “3, 2, 1…”—or by a random string of numbers—e.g. “16, 21, 8.” In both conditions, threat anticipation recruited a remarkably similar network of brain regions, including the amygdala and the BNST. Across a range of head-to-head comparisons, the two showed statistically indistinguishable responses.

The team examined the neural circuits engaged while waiting for certain and uncertain threat (i.e. “fear” and “anxiety”). Results demonstrated that both kinds of threat anticipation recruited a common network of core brain regions, including the amygdala and BNST. 

These observations raise important questions about the Research Domain Criteria (RDoC) framework that currently guides the U.S. National Institute of Mental Health’s quest to discover the brain circuitry underlying anxiety disorders, depression, and other common mental illnesses. “As it is currently written, RDoC embodies the idea that certain and uncertain threat are processed by circuits centered on the amygdala and BNST, respectively. It’s very black-and-white thinking,” Shackman noted, emphasizing that RDoC’s “strict-segregation” model is based on data collected at the turn of the century.

 “It’s time to update the RDoC so that it reflects the actual state of the science. It’s not just our study; in fact, a whole slew of mechanistic studies in rodents and monkeys, and new meta-analyses of the published human imaging literature are all coalescing around the same fundamental scientific lesson: certain and uncertain threat are processed by a shared network of brain regions, a common core,” he said. 

As the crown jewel of NIMH’s strategic plan for psychiatric research in the U.S., the RDoC framework influences a wide range of biomedical stakeholders, from researchers and drug companies to private philanthropic foundations and foreign funding agencies. Shackman noted that the RDoC has an outsized impact on how fear and anxiety research is designed, interpreted, peer reviewed, and funded here in the U.S. and abroad.

“Anxiety disorders impose a substantial and growing burden on global public health and the economy,” Shackman said, “While we have made tremendous scientific progress, existing treatments are far from curative for many patients. Our hope is that research like this study can help set the stage for better models of emotion and, ultimately, hasten the development of more effective intervention strategies for the many millions of children and adults around the world who struggle with debilitating anxiety and depression.”

This work was supported by the National Institute of Mental Health and the University of Maryland, College Park.

The research team also included Allegra S. Anderson, Vanderbilt University; Jinyi Kuang, University of Pennsylvania; Manuel Kuhn, Harvard Medical School; Andrew S. Fox, University of California, Davis; and Jason F. Smith, Rachael M. Tillman, Hyung Cho Kim, and Kathryn A. DeYoung, all from the University of Maryland, College Park.

 

New UMD-led Report on Improving Educational Equity and Engagement During the COVID-19 Pandemic and Beyond

October 16, 2020
Contacts: 

Kelly Blake, kellyb@umd.edu

COLLEGE PARK, Md — Children and families across Maryland and throughout the United States are grappling with the challenges and necessity of virtual learning required by the Covid-19 pandemic. But Black, Latino, and low-income children face starker difficulties and may be at risk of falling behind or disengaging from school entirely. Inequities that existed before the pandemic have become even deeper and difficult to bridge. 
 
A new report out today “Securing Educational Equity: Learning from the Lived Experiences of Black, Latino and Low-Income Families, During theCOVID-19 Pandemic and Beyond” provides a wake-up call for school systems and recommends concrete solutions to support student engagement and success and increase equity. 
 
The research, based on interviews and focus groups with 52 Black and Latino parents, students and educators in Montgomery County Public Schools in August, was led by associate professors Amy Lewin and Kevin Roy at the University of Maryland School of Public Health's Department of Family Science. The report was the result of a partnership with the Black and Brown Coalition for Educational Equity and Excellence and will be released at a Zoom forum called Seeking Accountability on Promises Made to Black and Brown Children at 7 pm tonight. It will include a video highlighting some of the interviews conducted for the report. 
 
“This study came about because of the concern that online learning was leaving many people
behind—that they were disengaging from school,” said Dr. Lewin said. “When the pandemic hit, it became clear that the existing issues of equity were going to get worse, and we needed to do something.”
 
The report highlights three main findings and provides concrete recommendations in each of these areas:

  • Adult support -  students need more contact with adults at school, and there is a need for the schools to provide individualized and proactive outreach to students who are disengaged or at risk of disengagement 
  • Communication - schools need to communicate with students and parents more frequently and in a way that is clear and accessible to all families, regardless of language or technological capacity
  • Resources - students need access to individual mental health resources within schools and communities, support for technology challenges, and improved access to meal distribution.

 
Interviews with families revealed that many kids were juggling not only the challenges of online school, but in taking care of siblings and helping their parents manage family needs.
 
“It was important to work with the University of Maryland School of Public Health to produce this report because it has an excellent reputation, and we wanted to make sure that we had people who could make the interview subjects comfortable. You are talking about some really difficult issues that families are going through, so this was so important,” said Mondi Kumbula-Fraser, Esq, director of the Black and Brown Coalition for Educational Equity and Excellence. 
 
The coalition, which was co-founded by Identity, Inc., which works with Hispanic students, and the Montgomery County chapter of the NAACP, has been advocating for the district’s more than 90,000 Black, Latino, and low income children since before the pandemic, so every child has the opportunity to reach their full academic potential regardless of race or income. 
 
“The whole education system is going through a forced restructuring this year, and we have to try to ensure that it happens in a way that increases equity, decreases disparities and can be sustained after the pandemic is over,” said Dr. Lewin. 
 
Although this study was conducted in one school system, many of its findings are likely to be broadly applicable.
 
“What we heard from students and parents is not unique to Montgomery County,” said Dr. Roy. “It is reflective of the stressors of this moment we’re in. We hope these recommendations can be helpful to other counties across the state.”
 
The University of Maryland School of Public Health research team includes: 
 

  • C. Andrew Conway, MSW, LCSW, University of Maryland School of Public Health
  • Amy Lewin, PsyD, University of Maryland School of Public Health
  • Juliana Muñoz, MA, University of Maryland School of Public Health
  • Kevin Roy, PhD, University of Maryland School of Public Health
  • Martha Yumiseva, MSEd, University of Maryland School of Public Health

 

University of Maryland, Underwriters Laboratories and the International Fire Safety Consortium Collaborate to Advance Global Fire Safety

October 13, 2020
Contacts: 

Ted Knight

Lee Tune 301-405-4679 

COLLEGE PARK, Md. – The University of Maryland (UMD) in partnership with the International Fire Safety Consortium (IFSC) and Underwriters Laboratories (UL) are working to address fire safety problems worldwide by advancing fire safety engineering and scientific research, while facilitating knowledge exchange and global collaboration.

Fires result in hundreds of thousands of deaths each year with financial losses estimated between 1-2% of global Gross Domestic Product (GDP), a total of approximately $76 billion USD worldwide. Due to pivotal trends in global urbanization, social inequality, climate change, and human migration, the need to address fire safety as a humanitarian issue has grown increasingly urgent. As a result of these trends, combined with substantial worldwide growth of wildland-urban interface (WUI), fire-related damage to structures and other economic losses are worsening and predicted to increase, as they have recently in the Western U.S.

The large scale of these problems and the increasing societal costs require greater coordinated expertise, public-partnerships, and concerted multidisciplinary research worldwide. The International Fire Safety Consortium (IFSC) global initiative aims to fill this need by bringing together research expertise from across the globe to take on these urgent fire safety challenges.

“We are thrilled to establish this partnership with UL and our International Fire Safety Consortium, which aligns with our research mission to achieve broad societal impact through global collaborations that focus on critical challenges,” said University of Maryland Vice President for Research Laurie Locascio.

“This partnership is a key step in advancing our purpose to address the world’s unresolved fire safety risks and emerging dangers to reduce death, injury and loss from fire,” said Underwriters Laboratories Vice President of Research and UL Firefighter Safety Research Institute Director Steve Kerber. Underwriters Laboratories (UL), is the nonprofit parent organization of UL Inc.

The IFSC engages in research, education, training, and collaboration with industry, non-profit organizations, and governments worldwide to tackle the most urgent and emerging fire safety issues and help save lives. The IFSC was launched by five leading academic institutions in fire safety research and education: University of Maryland, University of Edinburgh, University of Melbourne, Lund University, and University of Queensland. All five of the founding partner universities are members of the Universitas 21 Global Network, a worldwide network of research-intensive universities that empowers its members to share excellence, collaborate across borders, and nurture global knowledge exchange. The IFSC has brought aboard additional academic research partners, including Ghent University. The Consortium is building an expansive network of partnerships comprised of industry, non-profit organizations, and academic research institutions.

"The basic motivation for the IFSC is the realization that fire problems are becoming more challenging and evolving even faster than the pace at which we are producing new knowledge and new technical expertise,” said University of Maryland Professor Arnaud Trouvé in the UMD Department of Fire Protection Engineering. “The IFSC is an attempt to coordinate efforts between leading institutions in fire safety education and research in order to respond to that challenge. Our goal is to increase the number of IFSC members in order to reach a critical mass for impact at the global scale. We welcome UL with its long and impressive record in fire research as a new member of the IFSC network."

This latest partnership will establish UL as a Non-Profit Partner of the IFSC.  UL will collaborate with IFSC members on fire safety education, research, and knowledge exchange.  The partnership will be coordinated through the University of Maryland, a founding member of the IFSC, with researchers from the Department of Fire Protection Engineering actively participating in Consortium activities. The IFSC was originally inspired by and facilitated through UMD’s Borderless Research Administration Knowledge Exchange (BRAKE) program.

The IFSC brings expertise on a wide range of fire safety topics, including:             

  • Fire Hazards (Wildland Fires, Wildland Urban Interface, Urban Fire RisksFire Dynamics (Combustion and Flame Spread, Pyrolysis, Compartment Fire Dynamics / CFD, Material Performance)
  • Risk Assessment (Capability Assessment, Scenario Development, e.g. 
  • Cascading and Crowding, Fire Statistics, Vulnerability, Reliability)
  • Resilience and Sustainability (Environmental Impact of Fire, Affordable and Fire Safe Housing, Fire Safety in At-Risk Communities, e.g. Informal Settlements, Critical Infrastructure Assessment)
  • Fire Safety Engineering (Performance Based Design, Structural Fire Engineering, Building Systems, Suppression)
  • Human Behavior (Intelligent Egress, Arson)
  • Fire Fighting Activities (First Responders, Detection and Response, Suppression)
  • Social Aspects (Compliance, Regulations, Safety Inequality, Professionalism and Competency)

The UL-IFSC-UMD partnership seeks worldwide impact through basic and applied research addressing fundamental challenges related to fire science and fire protection engineering to help make communities safer. The partnership also seeks to help advance the fire safety profession through education and training to address critical societal problems.

For more information about the International Fire Safety Consortium, and to learn more about partnership opportunities and how to support the IFSC, visit the IFSC website or contact Ted Knight at teknight@umd.edu

About Underwriters Laboratories

Underwriters Laboratories is a nonprofit organization dedicated to advancing the UL public safety mission through the discovery and application of scientific knowledge. We conduct rigorous independent research and analyze safety data, convene experts worldwide to address risks, share knowledge through safety education and public outreach initiatives, and develop standards to guide safe commercialization of evolving technologies. We foster communities of safety, from grassroots initiatives for neighborhoods to summits of world leaders. Our organization employs collaborative and scientific approaches with partners and stakeholders to drive innovation and progress toward improving safety, security, and sustainability, ultimately enhancing societal well-being. To learn more, visit UL.org.

About the International Fire Safety Consortium

The International Fire Safety Consortium brings together worldwide knowledge and expertise to tackle the most critical and emerging fire safety challenges of our time. As the impact of urbanization, social inequality, climate change, and human migration continues to grow, greater worldwide coordination and action addressing fire safety is urgently needed. The Consortium engages in research, education, and collaboration with industry, government, and non-governmental organizations to help inform policy and practice, protect property, and save lives. The IFSC was launched by five leading academic institutions in fire safety research and education: University of Maryland, University of Edinburgh, University of Melbourne, Lund University, and University of Queensland. All five of the founding partner universities are members of the Universitas 21 Global Network, a worldwide network of research-intensive universities that empowers its members to share excellence, collaborate across borders, and nurture global knowledge exchange. The IFSC has brought aboard additional academic research partners to join the network, including Ghent University, and is building a broader network of additional industry and non-profit partners. For more information, visit the IFSC website.

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.

 

UMD Biologist Gets $ 1.5 Million NIH Award to Develop Brain Mapping Techniques

October 7, 2020
Contacts: 

Kimbra Cutlip 301-405-9463 

COLLEGE PARK, Md. – University of Maryland Biology Assistant Professor Colenso Speer, has been awarded the National Institutes of Health (NIH) “Director’s New Innovator Award”. The award, which is one of the organization’s most competitive grants, is part of NIH’s High-Risk, High-Reward Research Program. It is designed to support “exceptionally creative early career investigators who propose innovative, high-impact projects in the biomedical, behavioral or social sciences.”

Speer will receive $1.5 million for a five-year investigation into the development and plasticity of neural circuitry in the brain. He plans to create tools and methods for studying how neural circuits form and how connections between neurons change at the molecular level in response to sensory experiences.

Speer’s research could lead to a major step forward in mapping the physical layout of the circuits in the brain and understanding the complex chemical signals that pass between neurons.

“I was very pleased to receive this award and to know that our ideas are being welcomed and thought of as innovative,” Speer said. “This award acknowledges that success is not guaranteed, but that potential for a successful outcome is very high and that it would be transformative for the field.”

A key focus of Speer’s research is the molecular activity within synapses, the physical connections between neurons in the brain. Each of the roughly one hundred trillion synapses in the human brain is an extremely intricate and complex environment where multiple molecules process and convey signals across the connection. Those connections change over time, growing stronger or weaker through experience, a process that contributes to learning and memory. So far, scientists have not had the tools to investigate exactly how synapses function at the molecular level.

“We're sort of going down the rabbit hole in our research to try to understand how synapses are wiring up and properly connecting together as they’re being formed,” Speer said. “We’re asking, ‘What are the molecular mechanisms that regulate synapse formation and organization?’”

To conduct this research, Speer and his team will study how specific neurons and synapses develop to connect the eyes to the brain and enable visual perception in mice. Working with collaborators from UMD’s Department of Biology, Department of Chemistry and Biochemistry and Department of Cell Biology and Molecular Genetics, Speer will develop and apply a series of new technologies from three broad areas of research: transcriptomics, proteomics and super-resolution fluorescence microscopy. Transcriptomics, which analyzes RNA, will be used to determine how DNA in cells of the neuronal circuitry is transcribed to produce new proteins that perform the cells’ biological functions. Proteomics will be used to identify changes in the types and amounts of proteins at work in synapses during different stages of development and in response to different stimuli. Super-resolution fluorescence microscopy will enable researchers in Speer’s lab to image the physical arrangement of molecules within brain tissue and map the spatial organization of RNA and proteins contributing to the development of synaptic connections.

“The techniques that we plan to apply here are extremely sophisticated,” Speer explained. “We’re working with very small and delicate samples of RNA and protein that are either unstable, easily degraded or lost during the process, so each step is very technically challenging.”

In addition, the team will apply these methods to very tiny targets—single synapses from specific, individual neurons. With such a high level of difficulty, a lot of things could go wrong during sampling or analysis. But, if successful, Speer’s research could result in the first complete list of ingredients—at the level of RNA and protein—in a developing synapse. It could also provide the tools to create a full understanding of the spatial organization of the molecules that underly synapse function and the organization of circuits. This work would allow for a detailed molecular picture of how the brain is wired and how it changes in response to different sensory inputs.

“The reward is that we could have a comprehensive molecular map of synapses during development, aging and disease,” Speer said. “If we had that information, this would help us identify genetic candidates for potential treatments for neuropsychiatric disorders, neurodevelopmental disorders, aging and memory disorders, and many other cognitive functions that are directly impacted by changes in synapses.”

Speer came to the University of Maryland in 2017, after completing a postdoctoral fellowship at Harvard. He earned a Ph.D. in Neuroscience at UC Davis in 2010 and a B.S. in Molecular Biosciences/Biotechnology at Arizona State University in 2004.

Collaborators from the University of Maryland include Joshua Singer, a professor and chair of the Department of Biology, Peter Nemes, an associate professor of chemistry and biochemistry and Najib El-Sayed a professor of cell biology and molecular genetics who also holds a joint appointment in the University of Maryland Institute for Advanced Computer Studies.

Initial collaboration between Speer, Nemes and El-Sayed was supported by a 2019 UMD Brain and Behavior Initiative (BBI) Seed Grant.

Speer’s NIH New Innovator Award has been granted under the award number DP2MH125812.

UMD, BSU to Announce Social Justice Alliance in the name of 1st Lt. Richard Collins III

September 30, 2020
Contacts: 

BOWIE, Md., & COLLEGE PARK, Md. – Bowie State University (BSU), in collaboration with the University of Maryland (UMD), will announce a Social Justice Alliance on Thursday, October 1. The Alliance is created to honor the legacy of BSU alumnus 1st Lt. Richard Collins III and promote social justice on their respective campuses.

The two universities and the Collins family will be joined by Prince George’s County State’s Attorney Aisha Braveboy to commemorate the launch of the Alliance, and mark the significance of the day as the 2nd Lt. Richard Collins III law goes into effect in the state of Maryland. Richard Collins III was posthumously promoted to first lieutenant by the Secretary of the Army earlier this month.

WHO:

  • Aminta H. Breaux, President, Bowie State University
  • Darryll J. Pines, President, University of Maryland
  • Richard and Dawn Collins, Parents of 1st Lt.  Richard Collins III
  • Aisha N. Braveboy, State's Attorney, Prince George's County, Maryland
  • Alliance coordinators, students and faculty 
 

WHEN:

Thursday, October 1, 2020

  • 12:30 p.m. – virtual launch event 
    • Hear from BSU and UMD presidents, faculty and students about the BSU-UMD Social Justice Alliance. Remarks will be made by BSU President Breaux; UMD President Pines; Charles Adams, associate professor, Bowie State University; Zita Nunes, associate professor, University of Maryland; Kimetta Hairston, associate professor, Bowie State University; Georgina Dodge, vice president for Diversity and Inclusion, University of Maryland; Rashawn Ray, associate professor, University of Maryland and board member, 2nd Lt. Richard Collins III Foundation; Derrick Hinton, Bowie State University student; and Zahrah Siddiqi, University of Maryland student, and State’s Attorney Aisha Braveboy.
 
  • 1:30 p.m. – virtual press conference with media Q&A
    • Join Presidents Breaux and Pines, Mr. and Mrs. Collins, and State’s Attorney Aisha Braveboy for remarks and a question and answer session on the BSU-UMD Social Justice Alliance and the 2nd Lt. Richard Collins III law.

WHERE:

Media should reach out to mediainfo@umd.edu with any questions about the virtual event and/or press conference. 

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About Bowie State University
Bowie State University (BSU) is an important higher education access portal for qualified persons from diverse academic and socioeconomic backgrounds, seeking a high-quality and affordable public comprehensive university. The university places special emphasis on the science, technology, cybersecurity, teacher education, business, and nursing disciplines within the context of a liberal arts education. For more information about BSU, visit bowiestate.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 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.

About the 2nd Lt. Richard Collins III Foundation
In the early hours of May 20, 2017, two days after his commissioning as a 2nd Lieutenant in the United States Army and just before his long-anticipated graduation from Bowie State University, Richard W. Collins III was murdered by a follower of the Alt Reich Nation white supremacist group. His parents established the foundation that bears his name to advocate for social and civic justice for all people.  Through scholarship and education, the 2nd Lt. Richard W. Collins, III Foundation works to build young leaders thru education and civic engagement that embodies Richard’s character seeking to build a better informed and more tolerant America.  Visit www.2ndltrwc3.org.

UMD Names Prabhudev Konana Dean of Robert H. Smith School of Business

September 28, 2020
Contacts: 

Katie Lawson lawsonk@umd.edu 301-405-4622

COLLEGE PARK, Md. - The University of Maryland has named Prabhudev Konana, Ph.D., Dean of the Robert H. Smith School of Business, effective January 2, 2021. In this role, he will lead Smith in its mission to create knowledge, promote an inclusive learning environment that fosters intellectual discovery, and equip current and future leaders to assess complex problems and deliver innovative solutions.

“I am thrilled to accept the role as Dean of the Robert H. Smith School of Business,” said Konana. “As business education is rapidly changing in the current social, political, technological, and market trends, I look forward to all that can be accomplished with the students, faculty and staff at the University of Maryland.” 

Konana currently serves as the Associate Dean of Instructional Innovation, William H. Seay Centennial Professor of Information Management and Distinguished Teaching Professor at the University of Texas at Austin McCombs School of Business. As associate dean, he helped develop the focus and identity of the McCombs School of Business, emphasizing entrepreneurship and innovation, and successfully led the transition of the entire business school faculty to online synchronous teaching, among other notable accomplishments in teaching and research. 

“Prabhudev Konana is perfectly positioned to assume this role in the highly competitive landscape of business education,” said Senior Vice President and Provost Mary Ann Rankin. “I have no doubt that he will swiftly implement big ideas while strengthening academic connections throughout Smith and across campus. Dr. Konana’s contributions will positively impact the Smith School’s fearless and innovative academic reputation.”

Prior to his current role, Konana previously served as Chair of the Department of Information, Risks, and Operations Management at the Texas McCombs School of Business. As Chair, he founded highly ranked MS in Business Analytics in partnership with businesses, revamped advisory council, raised funds from business partners, funded several research workshops and symposia; supported visiting faculty for research collaboration, improved teaching standards in various programs, incentivized faculty to offer specialized electives and focused on recruiting high-energy and passionate staff. 

Konana holds a Bachelor of Technology degree from the University of Mysore in India, a Master of Business Administration degree, and Ph.D. from the University of Arizona, Tucson. 

###  
 

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 280 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 $1.9 billion operating budget and secures $514 million annually in external research funding. For more information about the University of Maryland, College Park, visit www.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

 

 

Pages

October 1
Honoring the legacy of BSU alumnus 1st Lt. Richard W. Collins III, the new BSU-UMD Social Justice Alliance will... Read
October 19
Findings of a UMD-led research team indicate that some long-accepted thinking about the basic neuroscience of anxiety... Read
October 16
Report Based on the Lived Experiences of Black, Latino and Underserved Families Recommends Solutions for School Systems... Read
October 13
UMD, Underwriters Laboratories (UL) and the International Fire Safety Consortium (IFSC) partner to advance fire safety... Read