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UMD Professor Awarded "Order Of Cultural Merit"

November 20, 2013

Nicky Everette 301-405-6714

Robert Ramsey, professor and chair of the Department of East Asian Languages and Cultures in the University of Maryland's College of Arts and Humanities, has been awarded "The Precious Crown Medal of the Order of Cultural Merit" from Korean Prime Minister Jung Hong-won, who presented on behalf of President Park Geun-hye.COLLEGE PARK, Md. – Robert Ramsey, professor and chair of the Department of East Asian Languages and Cultures in the University of Maryland's College of Arts and Humanities, has been awarded "The Precious Crown Medal of the Order of Cultural Merit" from Korean Prime Minister Jung Hong-won, who presented on behalf of President Park Geun-hye.

Ramsey, the only westerner honored in the ceremony, was awarded the medal "according to the Constitution of the Republic of Korea for great achievements and contributions to the advancement of Hangul research and promulgation." Hangul is the Korean language alphabet.

In 1998, Ramsey received the Presidential Award and Medal for Contributions to Korean Language also from the Republic of Korea. He has also received teaching awards from the Korean Student Association, the Asian Student Union and the Center for Teaching Excellence at the University of Maryland.

Ramsey, the only westerner honored in the ceremony, was awarded the medal "according to the Constitution of the Republic of Korea for great achievements and contributions to the advancement of Hangul research and promulgation." Hangul is the Korean language alphabet. Ramsey, who has also taught at Columbia University and the University of Pennsylvania, does primary research on the historical development of Japanese and Korean languages, and the historical relationships between the two. He is known for his work on Korean dialects and the reconstruction of prehistoric stages of Korean.

Along with his many achievements, Ramsey is credited for the first book written in English on the subject, entitled "A History of the Korean Language." He has also authored three other books and several dozen articles, written extensively on sociolinguistic topics, and lectured widely on various linguistic topics in Japan, Korea, Europe and the United States.

Ramsey has a doctorate in linguistics from Yale University, and a Master of Art and Master of Philosophy from the same university.

The awards ceremony, held in Seoul, South Korea on Oct. 9 in the Sejong Center for Performing Arts, celebrated the return of Hangul Day to the full status of a national holiday. The Embassy of the Republic of Korea in Washington, D.C., also honored Ramsey on Oct. 25 as part of their own celebration of Hangul Day.

World-Renowned Arts Management Institute Relocates to UMD

November 20, 2013

Crystal Brown, UMD, 301-405-4621, crystalb@umd.edu
John Dow, the Kennedy Center, 202-416-8448, jrdow@kennedy-center.org

Leading Arts Administrator Michael M. Kaiser to Join UMD as Professor of the Practice

COLLEGE PARK, Md. – The DeVos Institute of Arts Management at the Kennedy Center, a premier organization for training and supporting arts leadership, is moving to the University of Maryland. Michael M. Kaiser, a foremost expert in arts management, together with the current director Brett Egan, will lead the DeVos Institute of Arts Management at the University of Maryland when the change becomes effective September 1, 2014.

UMD LogoFounded by Kaiser in 2001 after he became president of the John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts, the DeVos Institute trains, supports and empowers arts managers and their boards. It has advised thousands of individuals, organizations, governments and foundations throughout the United States and in over 70 countries on six continents.

"Michael Kaiser and the DeVos Institute are the international gold standard in arts management education and consulting. To have them on our campus is an extraordinary boost to excellence and innovation in the arts at the University of Maryland," says its president Wallace Loh.

The DeVos Institute's offices, staff, and leadership team will relocate from the Kennedy Center to the university campus. At UMD, the institute will continue its important role in the arts community while working with the university on strategic initiatives in the arts.

"The Kennedy Center has been a remarkable home to the DeVos Institute and has allowed Brett Egan and me to build a sizeable education and consulting practice," says Kaiser. "I thank David Rubenstein and the Board of Trustees of the Kennedy Center for their unwavering support and Wallace Loh for his gracious invitation to join the University of Maryland. I look forward to increasing the institute's scope and record of service in our new home."

The DeVos Institute offers a variety of programs that provide practical training at all stages of professional development in the field, including fundraising, artistic planning, strategic planning and board development. Signature offerings include fellowships designed to prepare mid-career arts managers for executive positions and a robust board training program.

"We are very fortunate that one of the world's most well-known and well-respected arts administrators is bringing his 30 years of arts management experience and the DeVos Institute to the University of Maryland," says Mary Ann Rankin, UMD's senior vice president and provost.  "This is an extraordinary opportunity to expand arts programming and management training and to raise the profile of the arts at the University of Maryland to the highest levels."

Kaiser's extensive global leadership experience in arts management includes serving successfully as chief executive of the Royal Opera House in London, the American Ballet Theatre, and the Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater before taking his position at the Kennedy Center. Besides founding and leading the institute, Kaiser played a key role in expanding its educational and artistic programming and oversaw major renovations to the Kennedy Center.
"Michael established the arts management training program when he arrived at the Kennedy Center in 2001 and he has nurtured it into a world-class institute," says Kennedy Center Chairman David M. Rubenstein. "We wish Michael the greatest of success as he guides his life's work to its full potential at the University of Maryland where the institute can benefit from the resources of a major educational institution. We look forward to future collaborations between the institute and the Center."

"Training and preparing arts managers to effectively lead artists and arts organizations is a powerful way to leverage creative talents for the benefit and enjoyment of all of us," state Betsy and Dick DeVos. "We're glad the institute's mission will continue to thrive at the University of Maryland as Michael and Brett guide the DeVos Institute to become the world's leading institution devoted to training arts managers."

Additional information about the DeVos Institute is available at www.DeVosInstitute.org.

For the latest news and happenings at the University of Maryland, follow us on Twitter at @UMDRightNow.

Scientists Nearing Forecasting Capability of Wildfires

November 19, 2013

Beth Cavanaugh 301-405-4625

COLLEGE PARK, Md. - A University of Maryland researcher, Wilfrid Schroeder, in collaboration with scientists at the National Center for Atmospheric Research (NCAR), has developed a new computer modeling technique that offers the promise, for the first time, of producing continually updated daylong predictions of wildfire growth throughout the lifetime of long-lived blazes.

On June 6, 2010, lightning ignited the Medano Fire in Great Sand Dunes National Park in Colorado. By the time this image was taken on June 23, more than 5,000 acres had burned. (©UCAR. Photo by David Hosansky.) The technique combines cutting-edge simulations portraying the interaction of weather and fire behavior with newly available satellite observations of active wildfires. Updated with new observations every 12 hours, the computer model forecasts critical details such as the extent of the blaze and changes in behavior.

The breakthrough is described in a study appearing recently in an online issue of Geophysical Research Letters.

"With this technique, we believe it's possible to continually issue good forecasts throughout a fire's lifetime, even if it burns for weeks or months," said NCAR scientist Janice Coen, the lead author and model developer. "This model, which combines interactive weather prediction and wildfire behavior, could greatly improve forecasting—particularly for large, intense wildfire events where the current prediction tools are weakest."

Firefighters currently use tools that can estimate the speed of the leading edge a fire but are too simple to capture critical effects caused by the interaction of fire and weather.

The researchers successfully tested the new technique by using it retrospectively on the 2012 Little Bear Fire in New Mexico, which burned for almost three weeks and destroyed more buildings than any other wildfire in the state's history.

In order to generate an accurate forecast of a wildfire, scientists need a computer model that can both incorporate current data about the fire and simulate what it will do in the near future.

Over the last decade, Coen has developed a tool, known as the Coupled Atmosphere-Wildland Fire Environment (CAWFE) computer model, that connects how weather drives fires and, in turn, how fires create their own weather. Using CAWFE, she successfully simulated the details of how large fires grew.

But without the most updated data about a fire's current state, CAWFE could not reliably produce a longer-term prediction of an ongoing fire. This is because the accuracy of all fine-scale weather simulations decline significantly after a day or two, affecting the simulation of the blaze. An accurate forecast would also have to include updates on the effects of firefighting and of such processes as spotting, in which embers from a fire are lofted in the fire plume and dropped ahead of a fire, igniting new flames.

Until now, it was not possible to update the model. Satellite instruments offered only coarse observations of fires, providing images in which each pixel represented an area a little more than a half mile across (1 kilometer by 1 kilometer). These images might show several places burning, but could not distinguish the boundaries between burning and non-burning areas, except for the largest wildfires.

To solve the problem, Coen's co-author, Schroeder of UMD's College of Behavioral and Social Sciences, has produced higher-resolution fire detection data from a new satellite instrument, the Visible Infrared Imaging Radiometer Suite (VIIRS), which is jointly operated by NASA and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA). This new tool provides wall-to-wall coverage of the entire globe at intervals of 12 hours or less, with pixels about 1,200 feet across (375 meters). The higher resolution enabled the two researchers to outline the active fire perimeter in much greater detail.

When observing wildfires, satellites provide different levels of detail, depending on which instrument is used. The image at left, produced from data generated by the MODIS instrument aboard NASA's Aqua satellite, uses 1-kilometer pixels (a bit over half a mile across) to approximate a fire burning in Brazil from March 26 to 30, 2013. The image at right, produced with data from the new VIIRS instrument, shows the same fire in far greater detail with 375-meter pixels (a bit over 1,200 feet across). (Image courtesy Wilfrid Schroeder, University of Maryland.)

When observing wildfires, satellites provide different levels of detail, depending on which instrument is used. The image at left, produced from data generated by the MODIS instrument aboard NASA's Aqua satellite, uses 1-kilometer pixels (a bit over half a mile across) to approximate a fire burning in Brazil from March 26 to 30, 2013. The image at right, produced with data from the new VIIRS instrument, shows the same fire in far greater detail with 375-meter pixels (a bit over 1,200 feet across).

Coen and Schroeder then fed the VIIRS fire observations into the CAWFE model. By restarting the model every 12 hours with the latest observations of the fire extent -- a process known as cycling -- they could accurately predict the course of the Little Bear fire in 12- to 24-hour increments during five days of the historic blaze. By continuing this way, it would be possible to simulate even a very long-lived fire's entire lifetime, from ignition until extinction.

"The transformative event has been the arrival of this new satellite data," said Schroeder, a professor of geographical sciences who is also a visiting scientist with NOAA. "The enhanced capability of the VIIRS data favors detection of newly ignited fires before they erupt into major conflagrations. The satellite data has tremendous potential to supplement fire management and decision support systems, sharpening the local, regional, and continental monitoring of wildfires."

The researchers said that forecasts using the new technique could be particularly useful in anticipating sudden blowups and shifts in the direction of the flames, such as what happened when 19 firefighters perished in Arizona last summer.

The research was funded by NASA, the Federal Emergency Management Agency, and the National Science Foundation, which is NCAR's sponsor.

Scientific contacts:
Janice Coen, NCAR Scientist

Wilfrid Schroeder, University of Maryland Professor/NOAA Visiting Scientist

Top photo: On June 6, 2010, lightning ignited the Medano Fire in Great Sand Dunes National Park in Colorado. By the time this image was taken on June 23, more than 5,000 acres had burned. (©UCAR. Photo by David Hosansky.)

For the latest news and happenings at the University of Maryland, follow us on Twitter at @UMDRightNow.

UMD, Chinese Academy Collaborate on Theatre Arts

November 18, 2013

Missy McTamney 301-405-8102

Xiao Sun and Rui Wang provide input and perspective on a UMD student’s video design project. By Dylan Singleton.COLLEGE PARK, Md. — The University of Maryland's School of Theatre, Dance, and Performance Studies (TDPS) and the National Academy of Chinese Theatre Arts (NACTA) have completed a three-week collaboration focused on sharing each culture's unique approach to theatrical production and theatre technology. 

Two junior professors and one graduate student from NACTA spent three weeks at UMD's Clarice Smith Performing Arts Center working side-by-side with TDPS faculty, students and production staff. The visit was part of a five-year NACTA-TDPS partnership that began in 2012 with the bi-lingual co-production of A Midsummer Night's Dream, performed in both College Park, Md. and Beijing, China.

The collaboration allows TDPS faculty and students, and Clarice Smith Center staff to share their culturally fundamental approach to stage and production management with their Beijing colleagues. This approach typically includes a professional stage manager and/or technical director to coordinate production detail and technical functions, freeing the director to focus on the performance and story-telling elements of the production. These technical roles are not part of the creative staff of a NACTA theatre production, nor part of the training at NACTA. NACTA visitors will shadow TDPS faculty and staff, engage with TDPS students and participate in rehearsals and classroom activities.

As part of this artistic exchange, the Chinese visitors will share with TDPS their approach to theatre training, which has evolved from centuries-old customs that place high value on longevity and preservation of the Eastern Chinese Opera art form.  TDPS students will experience the traditional Chinese method of art-making, one that is deeply rooted in principles of discipline and precision from a culture that focuses on the ritual and rigor of their ancient art form. The UMD students will collaborate with the Chinese to consider ways to integrate western-style stage management into those traditions, potentially creating an entirely new form of classical-contemporary Chinese performance.

NACTA Theatre Technology graduate student Lin Lyu collaborates with UMD Lighting Design faculty and students in the school’s state-of-the-art lighting lab. By Jared Shaubert.Both NACTA and TDPS participants will experience how the marriage of technology and the human spirit evoked in performance is shaped by one's culture and traditions.

"Seeing the one's art from the lens of a different culture allows our students a rare perspective into their shared humanity and creative potential," said Leigh Wilson Smiley, director of TDPS.  "That insight makes us all better able to appreciate the transformative energy intrinsic to the performing arts."

The NACTA-TDPS partnership will reconvene in fall 2014 for a theatre technology symposium in Beijing, folding other leading theatre schools into their collaboration. Included in the Beijing Symposium with TDPS will be Yale School of Drama, London's Royal Academy of Dramatic Arts, Binghampton SUNY and Central Academy of Fine Arts in Shanghai, China.

Photo 1: Xiao Sun and Rui Wang provide input and perspective on a UMD student’s video design project. By Dylan Singleton.
Photo 2: NACTA Theatre Technology graduate student Lin Lyu collaborates with UMD Lighting Design faculty and students in the school’s state-of-the-art lighting lab. By Jared Shaubert.

For the latest news and happenings at the University of Maryland, follow us on Twitter at @UMDRightNow.

UMD Leads 1st Local-to-Global Mapping of Forest

November 14, 2013

Lee Tune, 301-405-4679
Laura Ours, 301-405-5722

COLLEGE PARK, Md. - A University of Maryland-led, multi-organizational team has created the first high-resolution global map of forest extent, loss and gain. This free resource greatly improves the ability to understand human and naturally-induced forest changes and the local to global implications of these changes on environmental, economic and other natural and societal systems, members of the team say.

In a new study, the team of 15 university, Google and government researchers reports a global loss of 2.3 million square kilometers (888,000 square miles) of forest between 2000 and 2012 and a gain of 800,000 square kilometers (309,000 square miles) of new forest.  

Source: Hansen, Potapov, Moore, Hancher et al., 2013Their study, published online on November 14 in the journal Science, documents the new database, including a number of key findings on global forest change.  For example, the tropics were the only climate domain to exhibit a trend, with forest loss increasing by 2,101 square kilometers (811 square miles) per year.  Brazil's well-documented reduction in deforestation during the last decade was more than offset by increasing forest loss in Indonesia, Malaysia, Paraguay, Bolivia, Zambia, Angola and elsewhere.

"This is the first map of forest change that is globally consistent and locally relevant," says University of Maryland Professor of Geographical Sciences Matthew Hansen, team leader and corresponding author on the Science paper.

"Losses or gains in forest cover shape many important aspects of an ecosystem, including climate regulation, carbon storage, biodiversity and water supplies, but until now there has not been a way to get detailed, accurate, satellite-based and readily available data on forest cover change from local to global scales," Hansen says.

To build this first of its kind forest mapping resource, Hansen, UMD Research Associate Professor Peter Potapov and five other UMD geographical science researchers drew on the decades-long UMD experience in the use of satellite data to measure changes in forest and other types of land cover. Landsat 7 data from 1999 through 2012 were obtained from a freely available archive at the United States Geological Survey's center for Earth Resources Observation and Science (EROS).  More than 650,000 Landsat images were processed to derive the final characterization of forest extent and change.

Source: Hansen, Potapov, Moore, Hancher et al., 2013  
The analysis was made possible through collaboration with colleagues from Google Earth Engine, who implemented the models developed at UMD for characterizing the Landsat data sets.  Google Earth Engine is a massively parallel technology for high-performance processing of geospatial data and houses a copy of the entire Landsat image catalog.  What would have taken a single computer 15 years to perform was completed in a matter of days using Google Earth Engine computing.

Hansen and his coauthors say their mapping tool greatly improves upon existing knowledge of global forest cover by providing fine resolution (30 meter) maps that accurately and consistently quantify annual loss or gain of forest over more than a decade. This mapping database, which will be updated annually, quantifies all forest stand-replacement disturbances, whether due to logging, fire, disease or storms. And they say it is based on repeatable definitions and measurements while previous efforts at national and global assessments of forest cover have been largely dependent on countries' self-reported estimates based on widely varying definitions and measures of forest loss and gain. 

Dynamics from local to regional to global scale are quantified.  For example, subtropical forests were found to have the highest rates of change, largely due to intensive forestry land uses.  The disturbance rate of North American subtropical forests, located in the Southeast United States, was found to be four times that of South American rainforests during the study period; more than 31 percent of U.S. southeastern forest cover was either lost or regrown.  At national scales, Paraguay, Malaysia and Cambodia were found to have the highest rates of forest loss.  Paraguay was found to have the highest ratio of forest loss to gain, indicating an intensive deforestation dynamic.  

The study confirms that well-documented efforts by Brazil – which has long been responsible for a majority of the world's tropical deforestation – to reduce its rainforest clearing have had a significant effect. Brazil showed the largest decline in annual forest loss of any country, cutting annual forest loss in half, from a high of approximately 40,000 square kilometers (15,444 square miles) in 2003-2004 to 20,000 square kilometers (7,722 square miles) in 2010-2011. Indonesia had the largest increase in forest loss, more than doubling its annual loss during the study period to nearly 20,000 square kilometers (7,722 square miles) in 2011-2012.  

Hansen and colleagues say the global data sets of forest change they have created contain information that can provide a "transparent, sound and consistent basis to quantify critical environmental issues," including the causes of the mapped changes in the amount of forest; the status of world's remaining intact natural forests; biodiversity threats from changes in forest cover; the carbon stored or emitted as a result of gains or losses in tree cover in both managed and unmanaged forests; and the effects of efforts to halt or reduce forest loss.

For example, Hansen says, that while their study shows the efforts of Brazil's government to slow loss of rainforest have been effective, it also shows that a 2011 Indonesian government moratorium on new logging licenses was actually followed by significant increases in deforestation in 2011 and 2012.

"Brazil used Landsat data to document its deforestation trends, then used this information in its policy formulation and implementation. They also shared these data, allowing others to assess and confirm their success," Hansen says.  "Such data have not been generically available for other parts of the world. Now, with our global mapping of forest changes every nation has access to this kind of information, for their own country and the rest of the world."

Global map of forest change: http://earthenginepartners.appspot.com/science-2013-global-forest

Support for Landsat data analysis and characterization was provided by the Gordon and Betty Moore Foundation, the United States Geological Survey and Google, Inc. GLAS data analysis was supported by the David and Lucile Packard Foundation. Development of all methods was supported by NASA through its Land Cover and Land Use Change, Terrestrial Ecology, Applied Sciences and Measures programs (grants NNH05ZDA001N, NNH07ZDA001N, NNX12AB43G, NNX12AC78G, NNX08AP33A and NNG06GD95G) and by the United States Agency for International Development through its CARPE program.

High-resolution global maps 21st-century forest cover change, Science, Nov. 15, 2013, Vol 342 #6160, authors M. C. Hansen, P. V. Potapov, S. A. Turubanova, A. Tyukavina, L. Chini, C. O. Justice and J. R. G. Townshend of the University of Maryland; R. Moore, M. Hancher and D. Thau of Google, Inc.;  S. V. Stehman of the State University of New York; S. J. Goetz of Woods Hole Research Center; T. R. Loveland of the United States Geological Survey; and A. Kommareddy, and A. Egorov of South Dakota State University.

Photos: Source: Hansen, Potapov, Moore, Hancher et al., 2013


For the latest news and happenings at the University of Maryland, follow us on Twitter at @UMDRightNow.

UMD Ranked as Global Leader in Remote Sensing Research

November 14, 2013

Laura Ours 301-405-5722

COLLEGE PARK, Md. – As the significance of remote sensing research to measure key environmental concerns is increasingly recognized around the world, the University of Maryland is positioned as a global leader in the field. UMD is ranked fourth among the 14,384 research institutes worldwide participating in remote sensing research, according to a recent article in the journal Scientometrics.

Remote sensing technology is used to measure environmental trends and phenomena, including land cover and land use, vegetation states and climate change, and also is incorporated in the development of new earth observation satellites.

UMD's performance is tied primarily to the strength of the Department of Geographical Sciences, which is housed in the College of Behavioral & Social Sciences, and the Department of Atmospheric and Ocean Science and Earth System Science Interdisciplinary Center, which are housed in the College of Computer, Mathematical and Natural Sciences. The university's remote sensing efforts place an emphasis on interdisciplinary research, both internally and externally with government organizations and academic institutions around the world.

"This study highlights the impact that scientists from the Department of Geographical Sciences have had on the field of satellite remote sensing over the years. We are continuing to take leadership in this area and are collaborating with colleagues across the country and around the world," said Professor Christopher Justice, chair of the department.

"The University of Maryland has a long and unique history of working with NASA and NOAA on remote sensing," says Antonio Busalacchi,  director of UMD's Earth System Science Interdisciplinary Center. One standout among many is the work of the NOAA Cooperative Institute for Climate and Satellites. These partnerships have yielded "decade's worth of precipitation observations from space-based platforms," Busalacchi said, "as well as research that supports advances in food security, human health, water, energy, and disaster risk reduction."

The Scientometrics study measured articles related to remote sensing listed in the Science Citation Index and the Social Sciences Citation Index from 1991 to 2010. The number-one ranked entity in the study was NASA, which frequently partners with UMD , on significant projects and ventures incorporating remote sensing, including the recently established Joint Global Carbon Cycle Center.

Joining NASA and UMD in the rankings' top five were the Chinese Academy of Sciences (#2), Caltech (#3) and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (#5).

Read the Scientometrics article.


For the latest news and happenings at the University of Maryland, follow us on Twitter at @UMDRightNow.

UMD Launches Hub for Innovative Teaching and Learning Strategies

November 14, 2013

Alana Carchedi 301-405-0235

COLLEGE PARK, Md. – The University of Maryland is creating a hub for supporting innovative, technology-enhanced education on campus with the launch of the new Teaching and Learning Transformation Center (TLTC). The center was created to help transform the university's courses, teaching and classrooms through technology and training to improve student learning, engagement and success.

UMD classroomAs technology continues to become a growing presence in the university landscape, the new center will support instructors in the implementation of those new technologies by offering training in new strategies, introducing them to the right tools, and measuring how well they work. The TLTC will lead the strategic development of educational strategy, policy, program assessment, and the appropriate use of technology for existing and new course delivery structures.

“I have no doubt that a rising generation of students has been primed for this blend of classroom participation and online learning,” says University of Maryland President Wallace Loh. “We see it at the new public charter middle school, the College Park Academy, where students from all backgrounds take to this style of learning quite naturally. We see it in the enthusiasm of faculty who conducted Massive Open Online Courses. This initiative will keep us in the forefront of educational innovation.”

The TLTC will leverage the strengths of the university's existing resources, including the Center for Teaching Excellence, which works to enhance the quality of student learning experiences, and the Division of IT's Integrated Learning Technologies and Environments department, which provides leadership in the integration of technology into teaching and research. To optimize their impact, these teams will now be combined under the TLTC, reporting directly to the Provost's office and a new associate provost. They will be integrated with a new Learning Analytics and Assessment group, which will focus on data analysis—monitoring the effectiveness of activities, teaching strategies, course structures and delivery types. These teams will come together under one roof, and be housed in the new Edward St. John Learning & Teaching Center upon its completion.

UMD classroom"We want to significantly advance teaching and learning to meet the ever-changing needs of today’s students, and we need an infrastructure to help with that,” says Mary Ann Rankin, UMD's senior vice president and provost. "The Teaching and Learning Transformation Center will provide enhanced faculty resources, creating new levels of flexibility in our courses, and meeting the needs of students who learn in different ways."

The TLTC will bring together all of the factors that make learning successful—innovation, support, incentives, infrastructure and assessment. The work of the center will have three core components: enhancing the quality of student learning experiences; using technology to support teaching and learning; and monitoring the effectiveness of those systems and structures.

"The University of Maryland is constantly working to be more aggressive in its pursuit of technology as a catalyst for better learning," says Professor Ben Bederson, special adviser to the provost on technology and educational transformation. "This new center is a huge step forward for the university in supporting 21st century learners, truly enhancing their learning environment through innovative technology advancements."

To incentivize faculty from across campus to infuse innovative teaching strategies into their classrooms, the center will be offering grant opportunities to instructors who can develop interesting ways of improving student learning and success in their classrooms.


For the latest news and happenings at the University of Maryland, follow us on Twitter at @UMDRightNow.

New IBBR Director Envisions Premier Biotechnology Research Institute

November 13, 2013

Alana Carchedi 301-405-0235

COLLEGE PARK, Md. – The University of Maryland today announced the appointment of Thomas R. Fuerst, Ph.D., as the new director of the Institute for Bioscience and Biotechnology Research (IBBR). IBBR is a joint research enterprise created to enhance collaboration among the University of Maryland, College Park (UMD), the University of Maryland, Baltimore (UMB), and the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) in the fields of medicine, biosciences, technology, quantitative sciences and engineering.

The University of Maryland today announced the appointment of Thomas R. Fuerst, Ph.D., as the new director of the Institute for Bioscience and Biotechnology Research (IBBR). "Tom has dedicated his life and career to this industry and we are honored to have him as a new member of the University of Maryland team," says Mary Ann Rankin, UMD's senior vice president and provost. "His executive management experience in both government and private industry, coupled with specialized scientific and manufacturing expertise, will be a valuable asset to the university and our partners as we pursue our goal for the institute to become a premier biotechnology research institute and educational center."

"We are excited about our opportunity to work with Dr. Fuerst as he assumes his new role as Director of IBBR," says Willie May, PhD, associate director of laboratory programs at NIST. "NIST considers IBBR to be an important partnership with the University of Maryland in the area of biomanufacturing, a critical strategic area for NIST. We look forward to working with him in making IBBR a world-class institution in advanced therapeutics research."

Under Dr. Fuerst's direction, IBBR will continue its work as an initiative of The University of Maryland: MPowering the State, a formal collaboration among University System of Maryland (USM) institutions designed to focus their collective expertise on critical statewide issues of public health, law, biomedical informatics, and bioengineering.

"IBBR represents one of the first major collaborations between UMB and UMD, and coming under the purview of MPowering the State signifies that we are making this a collaboration with high expectations," says Bruce Jarrell, MD, FACS, UMB's chief academic and research officer and senior vice president, and MPowering the State steering committee member. "We are certain that Dr. Fuerst will be able to meet these high expectations, considering his record of achievement in biomedical research at the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, and in private industry."

In his new role, Dr. Fuerst will lead IBBR in leveraging advances in innovative science and technology to facilitate the transition from basic scientific discoveries to the development of new medical products and diagnostics that address unmet medical and public health needs.

Dr. Fuerst will also steer IBBR's work in the development of new analytical tools, standards and approaches for the characterization of safe and effective biological products and innovative manufacturing platforms. He will lead the institute in networking with leading academic research groups to create interdisciplinary programs, and work closely with industry partners to facilitate commercial application and economic growth.

"The ability to foster and support the flow of scientific exchange in academia and industry is essential in translational sciences to realize the development of new innovative technologies and products with commercial promise," says Dr. Fuerst. "The University of Maryland/NIST partnership has formed an outstanding group of scientists and engineers with the mission to develop new medical products and state-of-the-art analytical and manufacturing platforms in the biological science field with the goal of achieving significant health benefits and economic growth for our community and nation. I am delighted to be part of the University of Maryland team to help lead this effort."

Dr. Fuerst has a long-standing and distinguished track record as a senior biotechnology executive and former government official with more than two decades of experience in the research, development, and manufacturing of biological products, and strategic planning. He has served as a leader at the nexus of government, industry, and academia and brings extensive scientific expertise and knowledge of state-of-the-art technologies and practices used in the discovery and development of vaccines and biotherapeutic products.

Early in his career, Dr. Fuerst was a founding scientist at MedImmune in which he helped establish its R&D programs.  He later joined Sanofi Pasteur and played a key role in establishing the company's biodefense initiative post September 11. The Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) then asked him to serve as director of vaccines and biologics, and senior science and technology advisor in the Office of the Secretary. In this capacity, he led the development and acquisition of vaccines and immunotherapeutic products for biodefense and other emerging public health threats, including anthrax, smallpox, botulism, and pandemic flu while managing a multi-billion dollar budget. Following HHS, he joined PharmAthene, where he served as executive vice president and chief scientific officer, responsible for its biodefense franchise and started a new company, Applied ImmunoGenetics, with a focus in the prophylaxis and treatment of Hepatitis C.

Dr. Fuerst served as a senior fellow at the National Institutes of Health, NIAID, and holds a B.A. in biochemistry from the University of California at Berkeley, a Ph.D. in molecular genetics from Cornell University, and a MBA in science, technology, and innovation from the George Washington University. He is the recipient of several Distinguished Service Awards for leadership from HHS, serves on the Advisory Council for the College of Life Sciences at Cornell University, and participates on advisory boards in the biotechnology industry.

About the Institute for Bioscience and Biotechnology Research
The Institute for Bioscience and Biotechnology Research (IBBR) is a joint research enterprise between the University of Maryland College Park, The University of Maryland Baltimore and the National Institute of Standards and Technology. The mission of IBBR is to leverage collective research strengths of the partnering institutions in medicine, biosciences, technology, quantitative sciences and engineering, to foster integrated, cross-disciplinary team approaches to scientific discovery and education, and to serve the expanding economic base of biosciences and technology in the state of Maryland and the Nation.

About MPowering the State
The University of Maryland: MPowering the State brings together two universities of distinction to form a new collaborative partnership.  Harnessing the resources of each, the University of Maryland, College Park and the University of Maryland, Baltimore will focus the collective expertise on critical state-wide issues of public health, biomedical informatics, and bioengineering. This collaboration will drive an even greater impact on the state, its economy, the job market, and the next generation of innovators.  The joint initiatives will have a profound effect on productivity, the economy, and the very fabric of higher education.


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UMD Achieves Carbon Emissions Goal

November 12, 2013

Andrew Muir 301-405-7068

Sustainable UMDCollege Park, Md. – The University of Maryland achieved its Climate Action Plan goal of reducing carbon emissions 15 percent by 2012, according to the new Campus Sustainability Progress Report.

The university measures and publicly reports on its sustainability performance annually. The campus reduced its carbon footprint by:

  • Achieving a 76 percent recycling rate through efforts to divert waste from landfills by recycling and composting.
  • Reducing the number of student, staff and faculty commuter parking permits by 10 percent between 2011 and 2012.
  • Saving more than 9,600,000 kilowatt-hours of electricity through energy conservation projects and adding 11,500 kilowatt-hours of clean, renewable electricity.
  • Consuming 5 percent less potable water in 2012 than 2011 and 12 percent less than five years ago.

"The university has made important strides to achieve the initial goals of the Climate Action Plan. This was accomplished through tremendous collaboration between many campus groups who have shown great commitment," said Scott Lupin, director of the Office of Sustainability.

Not only were important targets met but a number of campus-wide work groups were convened to support key decisions:

  • The University Sustainability Council heard recommendations in April 2013 from a Sustainable Building and Energy Sources Work Group that was chaired by the assistant vice president for facilities management. The group reexamined strategies in the Climate Action Plan and developed a plan for keeping UMD on track to reduce carbon emissions from power and operations.
  • Two other work groups—Sustainable Water Use and Watershed Protection, and Education for Sustainability—also began meeting during the 2012-2013 academic year and will report to the University Sustainability Council in 2013-2014.

"Resource constraints and climate instability pose significant risks, but by aggressively tackling these challenges and taking a leadership role, the university can create enormous opportunity," said Russell Furr, director of environmental safety and chair of the Sustainable Water Use and Watershed Protection Workgroup.

In addition to highlighting campus actions and achievements, the Progress Report provides the University Sustainability Council and the campus community with data that allows for future planning around sustainability issues.

The University of Maryland Office of Sustainability supports and advances environmental performance, economic prosperity and social equality through sustainable policies, practices and curricula for the campus community.

The full report is available here.


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UMD Team Wins Affordable Care Act Codeathon

November 11, 2013

Alana Carchedi 301-405-0235

COLLEGE PARK, Md. – An interdisciplinary team from the University of Maryland won first place in the 2013 American Public Health Association's (APHA) Codeathon aimed at helping to implement the Affordable Care Act (ACA) at APHA's Annual Meeting and Exposition held Nov. 2-6 in Boston.

The event's challenge, APHA for ACA: A Codeathon to Help Implement the Affordable Care Act, brought together developers, designers, practitioners, students, public health professionals and innovators to develop applications and tools to support public health agencies and organizations in implementing the ACA.
Team Benefits BuddyThe UMD team, Terrapin Health Transformers & Friends, was sponsored by the Center for Health Information and Decision Systems (CHIDS) at the Robert H. Smith School of Business and led by Kenyon Crowley, deputy director of CHIDS. The team included Department of Mechanical Engineering graduate student Luis Santos from the Hybrid-System Integration and Simulation Lab directed by Dr. Monifa Vaughn-Cooke and graduate student Maia Naftali from the College of Information Studies' Human Computer Interaction Lab.

Santos provided the team with expertise in human factors design applied to health information technology while Naftali specializes in usability and interface design with an emphasis on technologies for persons with disabilities. The UMD team was also joined by health care professionals from Johns Hopkins, the Marion County Health Department and the United States Substance Abuse and Mental Health Service Administration (SAMHSA), who lent their knowledge and expertise to the development of the team's winning solution, ACA Benefits Buddy.

The ACA Benefits Buddy is an easy to use application designed to connect users to preventative health benefits available under the ACA. The suite of integrated components provide users with easy to understand information on preventative benefits tailored to the individual through a simple algorithm.

"This project is a great example of UMD's interdisciplinary collaboration efforts to advance healthcare. Human factors design techniques will play a large role in the changing healthcare landscape to insure that products such as Benefits Buddy meet the individualized usability and accessibility needs of the patient population," said Vaughn-Cooke.

ACA Benefits Buddy would be available as a community-based engagement system, where users could see benefits available from ACA, learn about self-administered health status checks and schedule services in addition to accessing tools for handling health insurance benefits and connecting with support resources.

The UMD team also received an honorable mention for utilizing geospatial data to prioritize how ACA Benefits Buddy should be deployed. Using ESRI ArcGIS mapping and analysis software, the team evaluated demographics such as uninsured rates, internet usage, unemployment rates and other geocoded data to create a strategic roll-out plan for the Benefits Buddy app to target higher-needs communities first.
At the APHA codeathon"I'm very proud of our team, which was able to merge insights from a number of fields and APHA's ACA experts that were on-hand, and rapidly prototype a solution that has promise for improving health literacy and access to free preventive services that were generally unavailable pre-Accountable Care Act," said Crowley, "We are working now to leverage the University of Maryland's outstanding innovation and entrepreneurship resources to move this winning prototype to production."

According to Santos, there are already professionals in the health care field interested in implementing the ACA Benefits Buddy.

"The University of Maryland's interdisciplinary partnerships, like the one that produced the 'Benefits Buddy' app, have the potential to improve the public's health by emphasizing prevention and access to services newly provided by the ACA," said Dr. Robert S. Gold, Department of Epidemiology and Biostatistics chair and founding dean of the UMD School of Public Health. "I am hopeful that by pooling UMD's diverse academic and research strengths, that we'll not only make a significant impact on the movement to transform health care, but towards the broader goal of improving the overall health of populations."

For more information on APHA for ACA: A Codeathon to Help Implement the Affordable Care Act (ACA), visit their website.

Photos courtesy of American Public Health Association.


For the latest news and happenings at the University of Maryland, follow us on Twitter at @UMDRightNow.


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