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UMD Organizes Virtual Food Drive to Provide Hurricane Relief and Local Food Access

September 28, 2017

Ceylon Mitchell, 301-852-3042

COLLEGE PARK, Md. - The University of Maryland Office of Community Engagement and the University of Maryland Alumni Association will partner with Food Recovery Network (FRN), Amp Your Good, and the #GiveHealthy Movement to help alleviate food insecurity in Prince George’s County and provide food supplies to areas devastated by Hurricanes Harvey, Irma and Maria. 

From Sept. 27 to Oct. 28, 2017, UMD faculty, staff and students, as well as the local community, will participate in a virtual food drive aimed at providing over 5,000 pounds of fresh produce to those in need. Modeled by the #GiveHealthy Movement, the virtual food drive provides an alternative to traditional in-person food drives that are limited to non-perishable donations. The drive allows individuals to select items from a curated list of healthy foods created by various hunger organizations. These items are purchased online and delivered directly to organizations once the drive is complete.

“The type of non-perishable food items typically collected during a traditional food drive are sometimes highly processed, nutrient deficient food,” said CEO Pat O'Neill, of Amp Your Good, a co-founding partner of #GiveHealthy. “Offering our communities a virtual food drive ensures that those who struggle with hunger will get the healthy food they really need.”

The UMD virtual food drive will function similarly to #GiveHealthy. Half of the donated food will support Hurricane relief and the other half will benefit the Christian Life Center in Riverdale Park, Maryland. At the recommendation of FRN, a UMD-founded and student-driven nonprofit fighting food waste and hunger, Hungry Harvest will provide fresh produce to the Christian Life Center. 

“According to national research, an estimated 129,000 individuals in Prince George's County face food insecurity," said Regina Northouse, FRN executive director. "These individuals are not sure where their next meal is coming from or if it will happen at all." 

“We recognize the need for communities to unite in response to health inequity and tragic disaster. This food drive provides such an opportunity,” added Gloria Aparicio Blackwell, Office of Community Engagement director.

The food drive will conclude on Oct. 28, during UMD’s homecoming game against Indiana University. The community can also make in-person food donations from 12:30-3:30 p.m. at Riggs Alumni Center. Virtual food drive donations can be made by visiting go.umd.edu/Virtual-Food-Drive.


UMD Awarded U.S. Department of Commerce Grant to Launch Immersive Media Innovation Ecosystem

September 28, 2017

Elise Carbonaro, 301-405-6501

COLLEGE PARK, Md.—From catching Pokémon in the real world to donning a virtual reality headset to see and feel what it was like to scale the Berlin Wall before its fall, advancements in immersive media have set the stage for the next digital revolution. The University of Maryland will lead this revolution with the launch of the Mixed/Augmented/Virtual Reality Innovation Center, called MAVRIC, which has been awarded a $500,000 grant from the U.S. Department of Commerce Economic Development Administration (EDA). 

“We are already leaders in this dynamic, growing field, and the project promises to make our entire region a national hot spot for immersive media development,” said University of Maryland President Wallace D. Loh. “It will become an economic and technological boon to Maryland, Virginia, and Washington, D.C.”

Co-funded by the university and the EDA’s Regional Innovation Strategies program i6 Challenge Grant award, MAVRIC will build on university assets such as the new Brendan Iribe Center for Computer Science and Innovation, as well as other relevant assets across the region. The center will aggregate and accelerate the research and training capabilities of universities in region, the direct needs and projects of the corporate and public sector, and the innovation engine of startup and small businesses to advance mixed, augmented, and virtual reality technologies in three select verticals: media, simulation and training, and arts and entertainment. 

Immersive media is used to describe virtual reality, augmented reality, and mixed reality. Many industries are using immersive media as the next iteration of their business, as evident in the surge of 3-D video and virtual reality use in industries other than gaming. For example, immersive media has the potential to change the way viewers experience the news, a movie, or a sporting event. Beyond media and entertainment, immersive media technology is being used to transform training for medical clinicians, manufacturing operators, military and public safety professionals. 

UMD is home to a robust research and technology infrastructure to support MAVRIC, including the Mid-Atlantic Crossroads (MAX), which provides high-speed access and cutting-edge network capabilities; the Augmentarium, an interactive computer visualization lab; the Virtual Reality Cave, which is used to advance the integration of wearables and sensors, and study human performance and human error within high-stress situations; and the forthcoming Brendan Iribe Center for Computer Science and Innovation, which will feature six floors of specialized labs to support groundbreaking research in virtual and augmented reality, 360-degree video, artificial intelligence, robotics, computer vision, algorithms, programming languages and systems.

“Innovation is a significant driver of growth for the U.S. economy, and immersive media technology is poised to disrupt several key industries,” said UMD Associate Vice President for Innovation and Economic Development and MAVRIC Principal Investigator Julie Lenzer. “MAVRIC is well-positioned to emerge as the east coast hub of immersive media, and we will power that drive with a community-based, collaborative approach to commercializing these technologies.” 

The center also aims to ensure a strong pipeline of diverse talent in the region. To stock this pipeline, the center will partner with higher education institutions such as Morgan State University and Coppin State University to promote and support school-based and community special interest clubs related to the field to harness the creativity of science, technology, engineering, arts and math (STEAM) students in underserved urban and rural communities. Additionally, MAVRIC will partner with the university and local businesses to shape the creation of a new immersive media curriculum to prepare graduates for jobs in the field. 

“MAVRIC will foster the development of immersive media technologies by building a network of influencers and executive champions, supporting the participation of traditionally underrepresented groups and providing the strategic support needed to build a successful technology cluster,” said MAVRIC Program Director Lucien Parsons. 

In addition to Lenzer and Parsons, the MAVRIC team includes collaborators UMD Interim Vice President for Research and Professor of Computer Science Amitabh Varshney and Philip Merrill College of Journalism Associate Dean for Academic Affairs and Master’s Program Director Rafael Lorente. Associate Professor of American Studies Sheri Parks serves as MAVRIC’s community engagement liaison. 

Externally, the team was able to collect a record 54 support letters from regional and national stakeholders. Interest and support was offered from investors, other universities and the state as well as private sector companies of all sizes, from startups to multi-national corporations.

The i6 Challenge grant was awarded through the Regional Innovation Strategies (RIS) program, a national and highly competitive program which is led by the EDA’s Office of Innovation and Entrepreneurship. The i6 Challenge competition fosters the development of centers for innovation and entrepreneurship that accelerate the commercialization of innovations and ideas into companies, jobs, products and services.  


Statement from the University of Maryland in Response to Recent JCRC Petitions - September 2017

September 27, 2017

Katie Lawson, 301-405-4622

While the university is barred by law from commenting on specific personnel cases, we can strongly affirm our commitment to supporting our vibrant Jewish community on campus, home to one of the largest Jewish student populations in the country. We have a robust scholarly portfolio of Jewish studies and academic collaborations and exchanges with Israeli institutions, and an unwavering commitment to free speech. 

The university does investigate matters of discrimination and retaliation through the Office of Civil Rights and Sexual Misconduct. Diversity and inclusion are core values of our institution, and these values will and must be upheld.

UMD-Led Project Awarded $3M NSF Grant to Study Big Data Ethics

September 26, 2017

Mia Hinckle, 301-405-1260

College Park, Md.--  The University of Maryland was recently awarded a $3 million grant from the National Science Foundation to explore the ethics of how big data are captured and used. Led by UMD’s College of Information Studies, the four-year research project, titled PERVADE (Pervasive Data Ethics for Computational Research), will study issues surrounding user consent, risk assessment and regulations. The project aims to provide guidance to policymakers, regulators and tech developers to help drive the development of a new, more ethical, norm in big data collection and usage.

“Whether mobile phone apps, website search engines, wearable technology or social platforms, consumer information has become highly trackable and available,” said Dr. Katie Shilton, associate professor at UMD and principal investigator on the grant. “This has resulted in an ethically questionable free-for-all in research and marketing.”

The PERVADE team will focus on consumers, big data researchers, commercial providers and regulators--domestically and internationally--to explore how these diverse stakeholders understand their ethical obligations and choices, and how their decisions impact data system design and use. More specifically, the team’s research will examine how people experience the reuse of their personal data; what social factors influence people’s willingness to share their data; how and when consent should be given; and how consumers’ concerns can be shared with data system designers and big data researchers.

“By empowering researchers with information about the norms and risks of big data research, we can make sure that users of any digital platform are only involved in research in ways they don’t find surprising or unfair,” said Dr. Shilton.

The PERVADE team is a multi-disciplinary team of researchers with expertise in computational science, research ethics, data practices, law and policy, health information, social computing, qualitative and quantitative research methods and data privacy. The team consists of Dr. Katie Shilton, College of Information Studies at the University of Maryland College Park, Dr. Jessica Vitak, College of Information Studies at the University of Maryland College Park, Dr. Matthew Bietz, Department of Informatics at the University of California, Irvine, Dr. Casey Fiesler, Department of Information Science, College of Media, Communication and Information at University of Colorado Boulder, Dr. Jacob Metcalf, Data & Society Research Institute, Dr. Arvind Narayanan,  Department of Computer Science at Princeton University, and Dr. Michael Zimmer, School of Information Studies at the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee.

The team intends to provide best practices for each stakeholder group along with decision-support tools, risk measurement methods, public educational materials and an open dataset of findings by the end of the project in 2021.

UMD President’s Statement on the U.S. Department of Education’s “Interim Guidance” on Campus Sexual Misconduct and Assault

September 25, 2017

Katie Lawson, 301-405-4622

Attributed to University of Maryland President, Wallace D. Loh:

The U.S. Department of Education's Office of Civil Rights (OCR) released on Friday, September 22, 2017, new "interim guidance" on campus sexual misconduct and assault, and also rescinded the guidance it provided in 2011 and 2014.

This "interim guidance," which is in effect as OCR begins the formal process of rule-making, does not change the University of Maryland's resolute commitment to a learning, living, and working environment on campus that is free from sexual misconduct and violence. 

We continue to implement strategies to prevent sexual assaults by providing mandatory education and training, conducting regular climate surveys, and reporting on campus incidents and progress related to sexual misconduct and assaults. 

The rescission of the prior guidance requires us to assess the "interim guidance" and review our internal policies and procedures, which we will do according to our shared governance processes. 

This means discussions and consultations with the University Senate, the Division of Student Affairs, the UMD Office of Civil Rights and Sexual Misconduct, the University of Maryland Police Department, campus leadership groups, the University System of Maryland, and the State Attorney General of Maryland.

The University of Maryland will also seek to provide comments in OCR's rule-making process, either individually and/or jointly with influential higher education associations of which UMD is a member institution.  

We will move forward in a manner that reflects our institution's core educational mission and values, complies with existing law and regulations, and provides the safety and fairness that all members of our University community deserve.


UMD Selects “March: Book Three” by John Lewis for First Year Book

September 20, 2017

Natifia Mullings, 301-405-4076

COLLEGE PARK, Md. - The University of Maryland has selected the award-winning March: Book Three by U.S. Congressman John Lewis, Andrew Aydin and Nate Powell as the 2017-18 First Year Book. Each year, the university selects one book to create a shared reading and intellectual experience for first-year students, faculty and staff. 

UMD selects a featured book that provides an opportunity for the university community to look at a topic, issue or experience from different perspectives, from the sciences to the humanities and across diverse historical backgrounds, cultures and ideologies. The First Year Book is integrated into curriculum across disciplines, and will be used as the centerpiece of events and discussions throughout the academic year. 

“At a time when our entire campus community is working to affirm our core values of unity and respect, March: Book Three shows us all how looking to the past for guidance can help make changes for good today and in the future,” said Mary Ann Rankin, UMD’s senior vice president and provost. “I look forward to the thought-provoking discussions that March will prompt in our community.”

A No. 1 New York Times Bestseller, winner of the National Book Award for Young People's Literature and Coretta Scott King Book Award, among many others accolades, March: Book Three is the third installment of Lewis’ graphic novel trilogy recounting his life in the Civil Rights Movement. The series is co-written with Aydin and illustrated by Powell.

March: Book Three gives readers a first person account of many of the struggles and triumphs of the civil rights movement in a graphic text. March provides a different perspective on our nation’s history than is often found in textbooks, which is one of our goals of the First Year Book program,” said William A. Cohen, associate provost and dean for undergraduate studies. “March emphasizes ideas from the past that we still know to be true today: that change of any kind takes ongoing work, and there is always more work to be done.”

Congressman Lewis and Aydin will visit the University of Maryland to discuss the book on October 12. 

Past First Year Books include Just Mercy by Bryan Stevenson, Head Off & Split by Nikky Finney and Instant: The Story of Polaroid by Christopher Bonanos. For more information about the First Year Book, visit http://fyb.umd.edu

Photo of March Book Photo of March Book

UMD Appoints Joint President/Senate Inclusion & Respect Task Force Members

September 14, 2017

Katie Lawson, 301-405-4622

COLLEGE PARK, Md. - University of Maryland President Wallace D. Loh and the University Senate Chair Daniel Falvey have appointed 18 members of the university community to the newly formed Joint President/Senate Inclusion & Respect Task Force. The task force is comprised of faculty, staff, undergraduate and graduate students and alumni; and will be co-chaired by Warren Kelley, assistant vice president, Division of Student Affairs; Lucy Dalglish, dean, Philip Merrill College of Journalism; and Ja'Nya Banks, Student Government Association diversity and inclusion director.

As part of the university's action plan to combat hate and create a safer campus, President Loh and the Senate Executive Committee (SEC) have charged the task force to consider how to best nurture a climate that is respectful and inclusive of all members of our campus community, stands against hate and reaffirms the values that define us as a university.

“The work of this task force could not be more important. We need to be certain we are doing everything we can to build inclusion and mutual respect on our campus,” said University of Maryland President Wallace D. Loh. “The key word in the task force name is ‘joint.’ This is something we must do together as a community.”

“We have brought together a group of talented students, faculty, staff and alumni who are passionate and committed to advancing UMD’s efforts on diversity, inclusion and respect,” said Daniel Falvey, chair, University Senate. “Our partnership with the President’s Office on this initiative provides an opportunity for the various constituencies on our campus to be engaged in the process and ensures that the task force will have the support and authority to recommend measures that will chart a path towards a campus culture intolerant of hate.”

The task force will collect input from and engage the entire campus community on the current campus climate; difficult issues at the intersections of free speech, hate speech, and freedom of association; and experiences of members of the campus community. 

The task force has been charged with reviewing and assessing current UMD policies and procedures; responses to past reports of hate and bias incidents; current resources, programs and outreach efforts; cultural competency initiatives and trainings; relevant research; best practices at peer institutions; and higher education professional association guidance. 

President Loh and the SEC have also asked the task force to consider how to evaluate the needs of underrepresented groups and assess the efficacy of efforts to address those needs; how best to differentiate between free speech and hate speech in university policies and procedures; and how appropriate communication and public awareness efforts should be used to promote a more inclusive campus climate. 

In addition, the task force will develop strategies for fostering a campus environment that is intolerant of hate, bias, and racism; and a statement on the university’s core values and consider how those values are instilled in students, faculty and staff. 

The task force’s full charge can be viewed here

Members of the task force include:

  • Warren Kelley (co-chair), Assistant Vice President, Division of Student Affairs
  • Lucy Dalglish (co-chair), Dean, Philip Merrill College of Journalism
  • Ja'Nya Banks (co-chair), Undergraduate Student, College of Education, SGA Diversity & Inclusion Director
  • Ishaan Parikh, Undergraduate Student, College of Computer, Mathematics & Natural Sciences
  • Lillia Damalouji, Undergraduate Student, College of Behavioral & Social Sciences, University Senator & Senate Executive Committee Member
  • Ana Sanchez-Rivera, Graduate Student, College of Behavioral & Social Sciences
  • Melanie Pflucker, Graduate Student, College of Education, Graduate Student Government Diversity Officer 
  • Oscar Barbarin, Professor and Chair, African American Studies, College of Behavioral & Social Sciences, University Senator & Senate Executive Committee Member
  • Rashawn Ray, Associate Professor, Sociology, College of Behavioral & Social Sciences
  • Vincent Novara, Curator, Special Collections in Performing Arts, Michelle Smith Performing Arts Library, Past University Senate Chair, Equity, Diversity & Inclusion Committee Chair, Sexual Harassment Task Force Member
  • Zein El-Amin, Lecturer, School of Languages, Literatures, and Cultures, College of Arts & Humanities 
  • Roz Moore, Assistant Director, Development & External Relations, Division of Student Affairs, University Senator
  • Luke Jensen, Director, LGBT Equity Center
  • Timea Webster, Executive Administrative Assistant, Office of Diversity and Inclusion, University Senator & Senate Executive Committee Member
  • Rosanne Hoaas, Public Information Officer, University of Maryland Police Department
  • Nicole Pollard, Alumnus, Trustee, University of Maryland College Park Foundation
  • Roger Worthington, Chief Diversity Officer and Interim Associate Provost
  • Diane Krejsa, Deputy General Counsel, Office of General Counsel

The task force will submit its report and recommendations to the Senate and the President no later than March 30, 2018. 

UMD Opens Outdoor Flight Laboratory to Advance Autonomy, Robotics

September 13, 2017

Anjanette Riley, 301-405-2057 

COLLEGE PARK, Md. –  Today the University of Maryland (UMD) A. James Clark School of Engineering opens the only university outdoor flight laboratory for testing unmanned aircraft systems (UAS) in the D.C.-Maryland-Virginia region. Located minutes from the main College Park campus in the UMD Discovery District, the netted Fearless Flight Facility (F3) will serve as a catalyst for innovation in the areas of flight control, sensing, autonomy, collaboration, and counter-UAS. 

Photo of unmanned aircraft“The University of Maryland continues to make incredible strides in autonomy and robotics. Facilities like this one provide the real-world testing conditions that enable innovative breakthroughs,” said Clark School Dean and Farvardin Professor of Aerospace Engineering Darryll Pines. “F3 allows us to pursue an aggressive UAS research agenda that would not be possible without the protection of a netted enclosure.”

Student and faculty researchers who were confined to testing vehicles in a lab or not testing at all, will now have room to iterate on the fly. The 100-foot wide, 300-foot long, and 50-foot high facility also serves as a critical nexus between the Clark School of Engineering’s College Park labs and UMD’s UAS Test Site in Maryland’s St. Mary’s County.  

“With F3, we can conduct cohesive, comprehensive research and education programs in concept and development, testing and evaluation, and life-cycle testing,” said Norman M. Wereley, Department of Aerospace Engineering professor and chair.   

The airspace over the greater D.C. area is the most restricted in the country, with all UAS flights within a 15-mile radius of Ronald Reagan Washington National Airport prohibited without authorization from the federal government. Because F3 is considered indoors, these and other restrictions on outdoor flights do not apply. 

At the same time, the open black polyester netting allows researchers to experiment in real world wind and weather conditions. 

Advances to equipment and algorithms made possible by the facility have a host of applications. New vehicle configurations can improve the efficacy of UAS in search-and-rescue operations, for example, while progress in the field of cooperation could lead to surveys of large swaths of farmland quickly and at low cost. 

To access additional F3 flight photos, visit go.umd.edu/F3images

UMD-Led Research Predicts Dangerous Blood Pressure Drops in ICU Patients

September 12, 2017

Georgia Wood, 301-405-6440

Lee Tune, 301-405-4679

COLLEGE PARK, Md. -- A research team, composed of engineers from the University of Maryland (UMD) and physicians at Massachusetts General Hospital/Harvard Medical School, has found that patients in intensive care often experience dangerous drops in blood pressure that are not quickly corrected by clinical staff; and the team has developed a predictive model that can warn of such “hypotensive’ incidents before these occur. 

It long has been known that patients in the intensive care unit (ICU) experience incidents of low blood pressure that can be harmful. During these occurrences blood supply to a patient’s brain and other organs is reduced. ICUs have protocols for regulating patient blood pressure which include alarms that alert ICU staff of the need to administer drugs known as vasopressors that raise the patient’s blood pressure.  

“[Our study] raises the possibility that many of the [low blood pressure] episodes were preventable via more vigilant clinical interventions, including vasopressor dose increases immediately upon the onset of the episodes, or dose increases before the onset (to prevent the episode of hypotension altogether),” wrote corresponding author Jin-Oh Hahn, Ph.D., an assistant professor of mechanical engineering at UMD, and his colleagues from UMD and from Massachusetts General Hospital/Harvard Medical School.

Recently published in the journal Scientific Reports, of the Nature Publishing Group, their findings are the latest of a number of studies indicating that even with monitoring systems and treatment protocols in place, ICU patients experience more and longer episodes of low blood pressure (hypotension) than expected or desirable. 

“We were expecting that our study would show the problem is that clinical staff are not adequately following the treatment guidelines [for responding to patients’ hypotensive episodes]. However, we found that it is really a problem of staff not being able to give enough attention to the patients,” Hahn said.  

Their innovation was to focus on hypotension during ongoing vasopressor infusion. When analyzed, most of those hypotensive episodes appeared to be preventable. The episodes were also predictable, using a team-developed statistical model. When the model was run using historical patient blood pressure data, it gave advanced warning (12 minutes average) for 99.6 percent of occurring hypotensive events [blood pressures below 60 mean arterial pressure (MAP)]. In real time (prospective) testing, their model predicted 100 percent of 26 episodes with a median advance warning of 22 minutes before the episodes occurred.

“It is a challenge to provide consistent and optimal care for critically ill, unstable patients for hours or days at a time,” said Andrew Reisner, M.D. of the Massachusetts General Department of Emergency Medicine and associate professor of Emergency Medicine at Harvard Medical School. “Predictive models and other computerized intelligence can enable a new generation of healthcare with greater precision and consistency than ever before possible.” 

The collaborative team is now working to develop clinical trials for testing the clinical efficacy of their predictive model.



College Park Ready to Deliver Amazon HQ2

September 11, 2017

Jessica Jennings, 301-405-4618

COLLEGE PARK, Md. – The University of Maryland is prepared to partner with the State of Maryland, Prince George’s County, the City of College Park and neighboring jurisdictions to position College Park as a top location in Amazon’s national search for a second headquarters.  

College Park meets all of the requirements in the Request for Proposals issued last week, including direct access to mass transit and international airports, potential to attract and retain technical talent and a connection to world-class higher education. The RFP also requires the ability to deliver a campus environment with millions of square feet available for development.

“When you read through the entire Amazon H2Q RFP it screams the University of Maryland and College Park,” said Chief Strategy Officer Ken Ulman. “We hit the marks in every category – land availability, business friendly environment, labor force, logistics, cultural community fit and so much more. We are shovel ready and can handle the entire requirement in our thriving Discovery District. Our highly educated, diverse community welcomes the opportunity to collaborate with one of the world’s great companies.”

Located inside the Capital beltway with direct access to Metro and home to future Purple Line stations, the University of Maryland is one of the nation’s premier public research institutions. Its Greater College Park initiative is a $2 billion public-private investment to rapidly revitalize the Baltimore Avenue corridor, strengthen the academic core and create a dynamic Discovery District.

Within the next five years, the Discovery District, located across from the main entrance to campus and anchored by The Hotel at UMD, will include 2.7 million gross square feet of space in new or renovated facilities for research, startup and existing companies, housing, public space, an innovative arts and culinary venture and coworking.

Greater College Park partners, including the City of College Park and Town of Riverdale Park, expressed their support to pursue the Amazon RFP. "Our collaborative efforts to create one of the most desirable places to live, work and learn makes Greater College Park the perfect location for Amazon's second headquarters. With thousands of potential employees in our cities and beyond, a talented pipeline of students coming out of the university and a growing innovation ecosystem, we, as the mayors of College Park and Riverdale Park, know our community will keep Amazon competitive and future-focused in our global economy.”

College Park has already caught the eye of Amazon as home to Amazon@CollegePark, and as one of the first five locations of Amazon’s Instant Pickup service.


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