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

UMD to Lead Cutting Edge Research on Tobacco and Public Health

September 19, 2013
Contacts: 

Kelly Blake 301-405-9418

Researchers awarded nearly $19 million from NIH, FDA to inform FDA tobacco regulatory activities

COLLEGE PARK, Md. – The University of Maryland (UMD) will launch a new research center focused on the study of a wide range of tobacco products and their impact on public health with approximately $19 million awarded to the university from the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and the National Institutes of Health (NIH). The University of Maryland Tobacco Center of Regulatory Science (UMD TCORS) is one of 14 centers nationwide that are being created as part of a new federally-funded program that will provide the critical science base needed for the FDA to effectively regulate tobacco and protect public health.

The new University of Maryland Tobacco Center for Regulatory Science will test new and modified tobacco products using innovative approaches that examine health risks from the molecular to the whole human level.Despite decades of work to reduce tobacco use in the United States, it continues to be the leading cause of preventable death and disease. New and highly engineered formulations of cigarettes and smokeless tobacco products are flooding the market, with disturbing increases in their use by youth. The UMD TCORS will focus its efforts on these hard to regulate and not yet well-understood products and provide information about how variations between products and brands affect exposure to toxins, health outcomes, addiction potential and the ability to quit successfully. The UMD-led team of experts in epidemiology, behavioral health, biostatistics, microbiology, toxicology, computer science and genomics is uniquely positioned to address these questions and rapidly provide relevant data to federal health agencies.

“Tobacco companies manipulate products to make them more appealing and are always changing formulations,” explained Dr. Pamela I. Clark, director of the new UMD TCORS and a research professor in the UMD School of Public Health's Department of Behavioral and Community Health. “Our center will test new and modified tobacco products using innovative approaches that examine health risks from the molecular to the whole human level.”

Dr. Clark’s broad experience and leadership in transdisciplinary tobacco control research, including human laboratory studies of alternative nicotine/tobacco products such as hookah, electronic nicotine delivery devices and smokeless tobacco (snus), is complemented by the expertise of Dr. Sydney Gordon, who will co-direct the UMD TCORS. Dr. Gordon, a physical chemist with Battelle (a nonprofit research and development organization) and long-time collaborator of Dr. Clark’s, is a recognized pioneer in the field of exhaled breath analysis whose techniques measure a wide variety of toxins in tobacco products such as combustible and electronic cigarettes, little cigars, waterpipe, and smokeless tobacco.

In addition to nine research experts from UMD and several from Battelle, the TCORS team includes two genomics scientists from the University of Maryland, Baltimore School of Medicine; and a neuroscientist from George Mason University.

“The University of Maryland School of Public Health’s expertise has positioned us to make significant contributions to reducing the burden of preventable disease caused by tobacco use,” said Dr. Jane E. Clark, dean of the UMD School of Public Health. “With our strategic collaborations across the College Park campus, and with the School of Medicine in Baltimore, Battelle, and George Mason, we are armed with tools to tackle this complex public health challenge.”

The UMD TCORS will include three major research studies focused on new and manipulated tobacco products:

  1. Toxicity testing through measurement of exposure to harmful and potentially harmful constituents (HPHCs) (led by Battelle’s Dr. Courtney Granville);
  2. Characterizing consumer acceptance and the likelihood that a person will use/become addicted to the product (led by UMD’s Dr. Pamela Clark); and
  3. Exploring the bacterial communities present in tobacco and the role they may play in the development of infectious and chronic diseases among tobacco users (co-led by Dr. Amy R. Sapkota, in the UMD School of Public Health’s Maryland Institute for Applied Environmental Health and Dr. Emmanuel F. Mongodin, in the University of Maryland School of Medicine’s Institute for Genome Sciences).

The third study explores the health risks of tobacco using new tools not usually applied to tobacco control research. Dr. Sapkota and Dr. Mongodin will partner to apply advanced DNA and RNA sequencing technologies to determine the range of potentially harmful bacteria present in the tobacco products (their bacterial microbiome) and in the mouths of tobacco users (the oral microbiome). One goal is to determine how these bacterial communities may influence the production of cancer-causing compounds in tobacco products and impact the health of tobacco users.

Expertise from biostatisticians in the School of Public Health (Dr. Mei-Ling Ting Lee and Dr. Raul Cruz-Cano) and computer scientists in the University of Maryland Institute for Advanced Computer Studies (Dr. Amitabh Varshney, UMIACS director, and Dr. Mihai Pop) will provide for the safe and rapid cleaning, analysis, storage and availability of the vast amounts of genomic and other data collected from the projects.  A secure, interactive database will make findings available to all project personnel, other TCORS and officials from the FDA Center for Tobacco Products and the NIH.

Another important component of the center will be to provide young investigators with training opportunities to ensure the development of the next generation of tobacco regulatory scientists. UMD’s proximity to the FDA, NIH, and other federal agencies will allow these researchers to train with scientific leaders in a variety of settings.

“The University of Maryland is one of the world’s leading research universities dedicated to applying science for the good of the people,” said Dr. Patrick O'Shea, vice president of research and chief research officer. “This center is an excellent example of the power that transdisciplinary expertise brings to the fight, enabled by our joint efforts with the University of Maryland, Baltimore School of Medicine, Battelle, and partnerships with the NIH and FDA.”

About the P50 Tobacco Centers of Regulatory Science (TCORS)
The Tobacco Regulatory Science Program, located in the NIH Office of Disease Prevention, coordinates the trans-NIH collaborative effort with the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) Center for Tobacco Products to conduct research that is needed  to ensure that U.S. tobacco regulatory actions and activities are based on sound and relevant scientific evidence. The P50 Tobacco Centers of Regulatory Science (TCORS) are the centerpiece of this NIH-FDA collaboration. Using designated funds from FDA, TCORS will be coordinated by NIH’s Office of Disease Prevention, directed by David M. Murray, Ph.D., and administered by three NIH institutes—the National Cancer Institute, the National Institute on Drug Abuse, and the National Heart, Lung and Blood Institute. The TCORS program brings together investigators from across the country to aid in the development and evaluation of tobacco product regulations. Each TCORS application identified a targeted research goal. Taken together, the TCORS sites will increase knowledge across the full spectrum of basic and applied research on tobacco and addiction. The program also provides young investigators with training opportunities to ensure the development of the next generation of tobacco regulatory scientists.

About the University of Maryland
The University of Maryland is the state’s flagship university and one of the nation's preeminent public research universities. A global leader in research, entrepreneurship and innovation, Maryland is ranked No. 21 among public universities by U.S. News & World Report and No. 14 among public universities by Forbes. The Institute of Higher Education, which ranks the world’s top universities based on research, puts Maryland at No. 38 in the world, No. 29 nationally and No. 13 among U.S. public research institutions. The university is also one of the top 10 highest-rated D.C.-area employers, according to Glassdoor.com. Its faculty includes three Nobel laureates, two Pulitzer Prize winners, 49 members of the national academies and scores of Fulbright scholars. The university is recognized for its diversity, with underrepresented students comprising one-third of the student population.

For more information:
FDA: Center for Tobacco Products www.fda.gov/TobaccoProducts
Tobacco Centers of Regulatory Science (TCORS): http://prevention.nih.gov/tobacco/tcors.aspx 
NIH: Office of Disease Prevention http://prevention.nih.gov/default.aspx
NIH: Tobacco Regulatory Science Program http://prevention.nih.gov/tobacco/default.aspx

 

Photo Caption: The new University of Maryland Tobacco Center for Regulatory Science will test new and modified tobacco products using innovative approaches that examine health risks from the molecular to the whole human level.

New Research Sheds Light on Teen Introversion

September 18, 2013
Contacts: 

Halima Cherif 301-405-0476

COLLEGE PARK, Md. – New University of Maryland-led research is taking a deeper look into preference-for-solitude, a widespread, but poorly understood type of social withdrawal. Appearing in the Journal of Clinical Child & Adolescent Psychology and titled “Preference-for-Solitude and Adjustment Difficulties in Early and Late Adolescence,” the study brings attention to behaviors clinical psychologists have historically confused with shyness.

New University of Maryland-led research is taking a deeper look into preference-for-solitude, a widespread, but poorly understood type of social withdrawal. Through this new research, Kenneth Rubin Ph.D, and doctoral candidate Jennifer Wang of UMD's Department of Human Development and Quantitative Methodology, along with their collaborators, are deepening investigations into preference-for-solitude.

“Although much is known about shyness, little is known about preference-for-solitude,” Rubin and Wang write. “Even less is known about its relations with adjustment across different periods of adolescence.”

Comparing behaviors of social avoidance and unsociability between age groups, the researchers found that preference-for-solitude was more strongly associated with adjustment difficulties in 8th grade than in 12th grade. Among the difficulties they identify are greater anxiety/depression, emotion dysregulation, and lower self-esteem. But why do these difficulties predominate in younger teens?

“In my opinion, preference-for-solitude may have been more problematic . . . [because] early adolescence is when things like popularity and belonging in cliques are the most salient and important,” Wang says. “Fortunately, as time goes on, not only is solitude more acceptable, kids also become more appreciative of the many benefits that solitude brings.”

Rubin and Wang conclude that since preference-for-solitude was associated with lower social competence across adolescence, social skills interventions may prove fruitful. They particularly endorse the possible benefits of intervening sooner rather than later. Of course, this leaves the researchers — as well as school counselors and educators seeking to help introverted teens through the social pitfalls of middle and high school — with a new question: what might such social skills interventions look like?

The study has gained the notice of popular psychology author Sophia Dembling, who lauded its insight and relevance in the blog she writes for Psychology Today about the nature of introversion and the myths of our extroversion-fixated culture. “Indeed and hoorah,” Dembling says of Rubin and Wang’s work to understand preference-for-solitude. “Research is finally starting to go our way.”

Dembling also offered a few of her own suggestions for the social skills interventions that Rubin and Wang call for: “Kids who prefer solitude in junior high might need extra validation from parents to counteract negative peer messages. . . . Kids might benefit from training in social skills — and that doesn’t mean just urging them to get out there and join the gang. . . . All kids could benefit from learning ‘solitude skills’ to help them deal with and respect solitude.”

UMD Program Pairs Md. Business with Northrop Grumman

September 17, 2013
Contacts: 

Mehjabeen Abid 240-487-8370

COLLEGE PARK, Md. – The Maryland Procurement and Technical Assistance Program (MDPTAP) is partnering with Northrop Grumman Electronic Systems to help implement a Defense Contracts Management Agency approved Mentor-Protégé Program for a local Maryland business, Roane's Rigging and Transfer. MDPTAP is hosted by the University of Maryland, and funded by the State of Maryland and the Defense Logistics Agency.

The Maryland Procurement and Technical Assistance Program (MDPTAP) is partnering with Northrop Grumman Electronic Systems to help implement a Defense Contracts Management Agency approved Mentor-Protégé Program for Roane's Rigging and Transfer. MDPTAP is hosted by the University of Maryland, and funded by the State of Maryland and the Defense Logistics Agency.The Department of Defense (DOD) Mentor-Protégé Program is designed for prime contractors to pair with small businesses to help their protégés develop a broader range of sound business skills, allowing the small businesses to better compete for DOD contracts and subcontracts. The relationships benefit both companies through exchange of technical and management skills, and enhance the protégé's infrastructure. The Mentor-Protégé Program is part of the DOD's Small Business Program and is a key component of the Comprehensive Small Business Subcontracting Plan Test Program.

"The Maryland PTAP’s knowledge and expertise in the area of emerging business support serves as a vehicle and catalyst to sustain and continue Roane’s Rigging’s long-term business relationship with Northrup Grumman," said Denise Warner, director of MDPTAP.  “Our customized training program, one-on-one counseling and technical support designed specifically for Roane’s Rigging will ensure their competitiveness in future business ventures.”

Based in Baltimore, Roane's Rigging and Transfer performs a wide range of business services including rigging, office relocation, crane service, hauling, demolition, welding and warehousing. The company has been a supplier to Northrop Grumman for more than 20 years. Founded in 1967, Roane's Rigging and Transfer qualifies under federal government criteria as a women-owned small business and as a small disadvantaged business.

Under the two-year agreement, MDPTAP has agreed to provide business support and skills training to Northrop Grumman’s protégé company, Roane's Rigging and Transfer. As a partner supporting the Protégé Program, MDPTAP will directly engage Roane's Rigging and Transfer. MDPTAP’s role is to bolster Roane’s acumen in creating winning proposals, cost and price analysis, developing effective teaming agreements, federal government contract administration and accounting for government contracts.

MDPTAP was authorized by Congress in 1985 in an effort to assist businesses in participating in the Government Marketplace. The Maryland PTAP opened its doors in 2002. The Maryland PTAP is funded by the State of Maryland, the Defense Logistics Agency, and hosted by the University of Maryland, College Park. MDPTAP's mission is to maximize the number of capable Maryland companies participating in the government marketplace by providing businesses with an understanding of the requirements of government contracting and the market know-how they need to obtain and successfully perform federal, state, and local government contracts. 

The MDPTAP continues to work with large and small businesses alike to help them achieve success in the government sector.  More information can be found at www.mdptap.org.

UMD Receives Largest Ever Software Grant from Siemens

September 17, 2013
Contacts: 

Alana Carchedi, University of Maryland, 301-405-0235
Camille Johnston, Siemens, 917-670-7831

UMD students and researchers to gain access to industry technology used to design and manufacture sophisticated products

COLLEGE PARK, Md. — The University of Maryland and Siemens Corporation announced today the largest ever in-kind software grant from Siemens PLM Software. The in-kind grant has a commercial value of more than $750 million. Siemens’ product lifecycle management (PLM) software will provide UMD students and researchers with a uniquely valuable and sophisticated design and simulation tool for course work, research, academic projects and team-based competitions.

The University of Maryland and Siemens Corporation announced today the largest ever in-kind software grant from Siemens PLM Software. Photo by Alan P. Santos.This in-kind grant from Siemens gives students and faculty access to the same technology that companies around the world depend on every day to develop and manufacture innovative products in a wide variety of industries, including automotive, aerospace, biotechnology, machinery, shipbuilding, and high-tech electronics, among others.

“We are very grateful to receive this valuable software from Siemens that will help our students develop innovative design capabilities and prepare them for advanced technology careers,” said UMD President Wallace Loh.

UMD students and faculty will use the software in courses and research related to robotics design, bioengineering, space systems, product engineering, manufacturing, and systems life cycle analysis. Student groups will use the software in their efforts to compete in national and international competitions, including the Terps Racing Formula SAE and Baja teams, and teams participating in NASA’s X-Hab and Lunar Wheel Design competitions.

“As product complexity continues to grow, students with PLM software experience are expected to be highly recruited. Global manufacturers need highly trained graduates to help them make smarter decisions that result in better products. This software grant enables UMD to integrate world-class PLM technology into its curriculum. The result enables students to be better prepared graduates to work in science, technology, engineering or math fields,” said Chuck Grindstaff, president and CEO, Siemens PLM Software.

UMD and Siemens gathered to annouce groundbreaking partnership. Photo by Alan P. Santos.Access to the software will also help students to advance their professional careers after they complete their degrees. Graduates with Siemens’ PLM software training are highly sought after by corporate recruiters seeking candidates for advanced technology jobs.

“Our students will benefit tremendously from using Siemens PLM software for course work, special projects, and international competitions, and their experience with the software will help them succeed in the workplace as graduates,” said Dean of UMD’s A. James Clark School of Engineering and Farvardin Professor of Aerospace Engineering Darryll Pines.

"A modern economy requires modern investments. In Maryland, we’ve made the better choices to invest in a highly skilled workforce, world-class research facilities, hightech industries, innovative ideas and a growing community of entrepreneurs,” said Maryland Governor Martin O’Malley. “This partnership between Siemens and the state’s flagship university highlights our continued goal to equip our students of today for our jobs of tomorrow."

“Maryland is improving the climate for advanced manufacturing, as seen in the uptick in Maryland manufacturing jobs,” said Maryland Secretary of Business and Economic Development Dominick Murray. “This partnership between a major corporation and the state’s flagship university bodes well for continued job growth and advances in research.”

The software in-kind grant represents an important component of the comprehensive partnership between UMD and Siemens Corporation, which includes student recruitment, as well as collaborative activities in energy, transportation, neuroimaging, biomedical devices, and fire safety, among other research and development areas. UMD is located just a few miles from Siemens’ USA headquarters in Washington, D.C., and recently hosted President and CEO Eric Spiegel as part of UMD’s Robert H. Smith School of Business CEO@Smith lecture series. Spiegel also serves on the UMD Energy Research Center Advisory Board.

“At Siemens, we believe our success is determined by our ability to anticipate and engineer the future,” said Eric Spiegel, president and CEO, Siemens Corp.  “This partnership provides us access to the next generation of innovators and inventors and establishes a framework for the mutually beneficial exchange of technologies, research and ideas.”

 

Photos by Alan P. Santos.

New Public Safety Initiatives Launched in College Park

September 16, 2013
Contacts: 

Crystal Brown 301-405-4618

COLLEGE PARK, Md. – University, county and city leaders today announced a major expansion of community safety efforts in College Park.  Highlighting the effort is the expanded role of the University of Maryland Police Department (UMPD) in the surrounding community, adding new UMPD officers and vehicles that will begin patrols in a wider area of College Park, effective immediately.  The expansion of ‘concurrent jurisdiction’ is a cooperative effort between UMPD and the Prince Georges County Police Department (PGPD).

University, county and city leaders today announced a major expansion of community safety efforts in College Park. The new public safety initiatives are part the implementation of the University District Vision 2020, a plan requested by university president Wallace Loh and College Park Mayor Andrew Fellows.  They take effect immediately.

“The University of Maryland is one of the County’s largest and most important stakeholders in Prince George’s County,” said Prince George’s County Executive Rushern L. Baker, III. “It is imperative for the safety of the students, staff, visitors, and communities around the University that collaboration amongst public safety officials is seamless.  The launch of these new initiatives is a model of positive cooperation and will ultimately serve as a significant enhancement for the citizens of Prince George’s County.”

UMPD will now join PGPD patrols in the neighborhoods of Lakeland, Berwyn, Crystal Springs, Calvert Hills and an expanded stretch of Route 1. (Click here to view the expanded jurisdiction map.) The expansion into these areas will be supported by eight new UMPD officers, new vehicles and the installation by the City of additional security cameras to detect and investigate crimes. 

“Together we make a powerful team and will keep improving our record of safety,” said Wallace Loh, president of the University of Maryland. “Safety is our first priority, and these new initiatives will contribute to the transformation of College Park into a premier college town.”

The expansion of public safety measures follows on the already-declining crime statistics in College Park.  Over the past five years, crime incidents have declined by almost 22 percent, including in areas such as burglary, robbery and motor vehicle theft.

“We’re proud that we already have a safe community – this will make our residents, visitors and work force even safer,” said Andrew Fellows, mayor of College Park.  “We’re grateful to the University and our County for partnering with us on this focus on public safety.”

Be Smart Be SafeIn addition, the university’s Code of Student Conduct will now expand citywide and beyond.  To promote responsible behavior at all times, the Code will now apply to student behavior both on- and off-campus.  A new public awareness campaign, ‘Be Smart, Be Safe,’ was also launched.

“The joint public safety strategy we announced today is a big deal,” said Senator Jim Rosapepe (D, College Park) and chair of the College Park City/University Partnership, “but it’s just one part of the University District Vision 2020.  For example, College Park Academy, the Purple Line, and redevelopment of Route 1 are all on track – and there’s more to come!"

"The University and the community are doing a great deal to cooperate to enhance public safety for students and residents alike,” said Eric Olson, County Councilmember, District 3.

The new public safety initiatives are part the implementation of the University District Vision 2020, a plan requested by university president Wallace Loh and College Park major Andrew Fellows and endorsed by the university and College Park City Council in 2012.  Details of Vision 2020 can be found here.

Exhibit Showcases Campus Radio Station WMUC

September 16, 2013
Contacts: 

Eric Bartheld 301-314-0964

COLLEGE PARK, Md. – The University of Maryland is paying tribute to its 65-year-old campus radio station by offering an exclusive look into the UMD student-operated station that has served as a training ground and creative outlet for students since 1948.

In 1955, students Pat Callahan (left) and Herb Brubaker played vinyl records in a programming format that mimicked the Top 40 format that was growing in popularity on commercial stations. Photo courtesy of University of Maryland ArchivesDocumenting the rich history of one of the nation’s longest continuously operating college radio stations, a new on-campus exhibit, titled “Saving College Radio: WMUC Past, Present and Future," will open on Friday, Sept. 20, 2013.

“Radio stations are hubs of cultural activity and embody local traditions and culture,” says Laura Schnitker, curator of the exhibit and sound archivist at the University Libraries. “In addition to being the voice of the campus community, WMUC is important because it provides an alternative to commercial Top 40 or talk radio.” WMUC remains the only alternative music station in the D.C. metro area.

Offering the student perspective of key historical events and campus happenings, the exhibit draws from more than 1,800 audio recordings as well as reports, administrative files, brochures and photographs. Materials in the WMUC Collection are part of the University Archives and document cultural, music, sports, and news programs.

Among the highlights of the exhibit are: early 1970s audio recordings of Vietnam War protests on campus that drew thousands of demonstrators;  a station ID, or short on-air promo, that John Lennon recorded for a WMUC deejay at the press conference accompanying the Beatles’ first U.S. concert at the Washington Coliseum; station IDs recorded by other celebrities including Fats Domino, Chubby Checker, Phyllis Diller and Frank Zappa, among others; and information about Yesternow, the station’s first ongoing program to both feature and target African Americans and other student communities.

The exhibit underscores the UMD Libraries’ efforts to preserve the university’s student radio heritage. Robin Pike, manager of digital conversion and media reformatting, leads a team of specialists working to digitize the station’s audio recordings and print materials, important to the university because they are unique, at risk and irreplaceable. Quarter-inch, open-reel audio tape, for example, will be preserved according to national standards and practices and ingested to a digital collections repository, ultimately to be made available to researchers.

Preserving the items is especially challenging, she says, because of the rate at which the media degrades.

“We don’t have much time left,” says Pike says. “Most magnetic audio tape has approximately 15 years left before it degrades beyond a point where the content can be saved.”

One way to restore open-reel tapes so that they can be played and digitized is to bake them in a special oven at 120 degrees for one to two days. The oven, she says, is similar to those used in science labs, with heat lower than that of a toaster oven. “We only get a few chances to play and digitize the tapes after baking them,” Pike says.  “This doesn’t preserve the items, but it does temporarily help.”

University-sponsored radio started in the early 20th century, often by engineering departments seeking to provide students with broadcasting experience in the experimental medium. After World War I, about 200 licenses were granted to educational institutions. By 1938, however, fewer than 40 college stations were still on the air due to the rise in commercial networks and the increasing value of airwave space. 

WMUC mostly emulated commercial radio until the 1970s, when new FM technology and the freeform movement offered more experimental approaches to broadcasting ushered an era of experimental, free-form radio.  

Schnitker, an ethnomusicologist, hosts a Thursday-morning WMUC radio show Bohemian Challenge.  She appreciates firsthand the significance of college radio. “It’s such a valuable creative outlet, not only for those involved in its production but also for the listeners,” she says. “It really is a public service.”    

With a wide-ranging collection of resources documenting the history of radio and television broadcasting, the University of Maryland Libraries is the home to the National Public Broadcasting Archives and the Library of American Broadcasting. 
 
Admission to “Saving College Radio” is free and open to the public during the Maryland Room Gallery’s open hours (Monday - Friday, 10 a.m. - 5 p.m., Wednesday 10 a.m. – 8pm, Sunday 1 p.m. - 6 p.m.).

For additional information about the exhibit visit http://www.lib.umd.edu/special/exhibits/home.

The University of Maryland Libraries comprise the largest academic library system in the Washington D.C.-Baltimore area. The eight-library system supports the teaching, learning and research needs of University of Maryland students and faculty.

University House Achieves LEED Gold Certification

September 12, 2013
Contacts: 

Alana Carchedi 301-405-0235

COLLEGE PARK, Md. – The University of Maryland's University House, a 14,000 square foot facility located on the west side of campus, recently achieved LEED Gold status, as determined by the U.S. Green Building Council.

The University of Maryland's University House, a 14,000 square foot facility located on the west side of campus, recently achieved LEED Gold status, as determined by the U.S. Green Building Council.The facility, completed in August 2012, replaced the old President’s Residence which was built in 1955 and had a significant number of issues, including ineffective heating and cooling systems, poor programmatic functionality and a lack of accessibility for persons with disabilities.

The design, construction and furnishing of the new University House were funded entirely with private donations through the UMCP Foundation, on behalf of UMD. The university’s Department of Capital Projects managed the design-build team in bringing this project to life.

The University House serves two primary purposes. The first is its role as an on-campus residence for the university’s president, and the second is as an events center for programs that align with the mission of the university and the Office of the President. The events center, which comprises a majority of the 14,000 square feet, has a dedicated catering kitchen and can support formal sit-down dinner events for 120 guests or less formal gatherings of up to 300.

In its first academic year of operation, University House hosted on average two to three events per week, providing a welcoming environment for guests ranging from students of the most recent graduating class to world renowned dignitaries such as the Dalai Lama.

The facility employs a number of sustainable features to assure its compliance with UMD and the State’s recent Green Building initiatives. These features include a geothermal heating and cooling system, solar water heating, low energy lighting systems, an energy smart machine room-less elevator, and the use of a significant amount of recycled material.

University House will continue to serve its role as a significant resource and venue in the university’s advancement as a world-class institution for many years to come.

UMD, Parsons Partner to Help Produce Future Cybersecurity Professionals

September 11, 2013
Contacts: 

Beth Cavanaugh 301-405-4625

COLLEGE PARK, Md. - The University of Maryland and Parsons, an engineering, construction, technical, and management services firm, have partnered to provide academic scholarships to current and future undergraduate students in the UMD Honors College Advanced Cybersecurity Experience for Students (ACES). Through a gift from Parsons, 24 scholarships will be awarded to high-achieving students during the next three years. In addition to the scholarships, Parsons will provide professional insights to students, as well as exposure to varied career options in the field of cybersecurity.

The ACES program, the first and only full four-year honors undergraduate program in cybersecurity, was launched in fall 2013 and includes a two-year living-learning component and a two-year advanced program of study in cybersecurity.

"Cybersecurity has become a national priority – and a shortage of cybersecurity professionals has created a great demand for cyber-enabled graduates," said William Dorland, director of the Honors College. "Support from Parsons will help Maryland produce students with the interdisciplinary expertise, and problem-solving and leadership skills to meet this demand."

"Parsons is pleased to contribute to the University of Maryland Honors College and the ACES program," stated Mary Ann Hopkins, Parsons group president. "Since our inception in 1944, we have supported educational institutions and organizations in the communities where we operate around the world, and we are proud to support these students as they pursue careers in cybersecurity and other related fields."

Building Trust between Minorities and Researchers

September 10, 2013
Contacts: 

Kelly Blake 301-405-9418

The University of Maryland's Maryland Center for Health Equity (M-CHE) has launched a new online educational program—Building Trust Between Minorities and Researchers—which seeks to close the gap in racial and ethnic health disparities. The program does so by providing culturally tailored information and skills to minority communities on how to become an informed decision maker for participation in research, including clinical trials. COLLEGE PARK, Md. – The University of Maryland's Maryland Center for Health Equity (M-CHE) has launched a new online educational program—Building Trust Between Minorities and Researchers—which seeks to close the gap in racial and ethnic health disparities. The program does so by providing culturally tailored information and skills to minority communities on how to become an informed decision maker for participation in research, including clinical trials.

"We live in a time of great advances in medical science and public health…yet, unfortunately far too many racial and ethnic minority Americans live sicker and die younger than white Americans," says Dr. Sandra C. Quinn, senior associate director of the M-CHE in the university's School of Public Health. "The benefits of medical research advances are clearly not reaching everyone." 

There are many factors contributing to health disparities in the United States and the situation is made more complex by the underrepresentation of racial and ethnic minorities in biomedical and public health research. Distrust of medical and public health research stems from many historical examples of racism and discrimination, including the well-known US Public Health Service Syphilis Study done at Tuskegee, as well as studies conducted on prisoners, mental patients, vulnerable women, poor people and others with diminished autonomy.  Research atrocities committed in the name of science would be easy to ignore were they not so well documented.

"We need to overcome this legacy by rebuilding trust between the minority community and researchers," urges Dr. Stephen B. Thomas, director of the M-CHE. "Community participation in research is key in contributing to the health of future generations."

Developed as part of the M-CHE’s Building Trust between Minorities and Researchers Bioethics Research Infrastructure Initiative, funded by the National Institute on Minority Health and Health Disparities and the Office of the Director, National Institutes of Health, this online resource is designed for use by community members, for researchers and their community partners, by educators as part of a course curriculum, and by health professionals and students. Throughout the program, users receive information about health disparities and the fundamentals of health research, how to make an informed decision about participating in a research study, and ways to become involved with research or researchers.

Using empirical data and state of the art instructional design, the program includes three units:

1. Importance of Research:
Users learn about health disparities and the negative health outcomes experienced by different minority groups and can view examples of disparities via an interactive US map. Examples of how research has improved health of Americans convey why research is important in developing effective health recommendations and treatments for specific groups of people and for the whole population

2. Informed Decision Making:
Acknowledging the legacy of research abuse, this section gives critical information about the guidelines, regulations, and laws in place to ensure that research is conducted ethically, and with respect, fairness, and good treatment for all participants. It guides users in factors to consider when deciding to participate in health research.

3. Research, Community and You:
This section provides examples of how people can contribute to research, not just as study participants, but in other active roles such as being a liaison between researchers and community members. This section also offers guidance on how to read, understand and act upon health news reported in the media.  Questions at the end of each page challenge users to consider the information they just learned and apply it to their own lives. 

Throughout the entire program, unique interactive exercises, provocative video clips, stimulating discussion questions, a searchable multimedia resource center, and useful downloads, make the site engaging as well as useful.  The site is designed for use by individuals or for groups exploring the issues together.

"We're proud to share this unique online resource with people all across the country," says Dr. Thomas. "It is the most comprehensive program addressing how and why to participate in research and reflects our commitment to educating communities and promoting health equity."

"The decision about whether or not to participate in research is complex and personal," Dr. Quinn acknowledges. "Rather than telling people they should run out and join the next research study they find, we provide the resources and information they need to make that decision themselves.  The other key is to make sure that they have the opportunity to be asked to join a study." 

The program was created as part of the M-CHE's Building Trust between Minorities and Researchers bioethics research infrastructure initiative, and in collaboration with the design team at Interactive Knowledge, Inc.

Visit the Building Trust website: http://www.buildingtrustumd.org.

UMD, Vanderbilt Team Up for a New Wrinkle in MOOCs

September 9, 2013
Contacts: 

Alana Carchedi 301-405-0235

COLLEGE PARK, Md. – The University of Maryland and Vanderbilt University will introduce a significant, new wrinkle in Massive Open Online Courses (MOOCs) next year – a two-part, two-semester collaboration offered through Coursera. It begins with Maryland faculty and concludes with Vanderbilt's.

The project demonstrates a collaboration that would be unmanageable outside of a MOOC platform, the organizers say.

"We're offering students a one-two punch by pairing these courses," says UMD computer scientist Ben Bederson, who serves as special advisor on technology and educational transformation. "Students will get to create and examine, from end-to-end, an app that integrates mobile devices with cloud computing platforms. It promises to be useful tool, for example, in collecting international data."

The MOOC sequence begins at Maryland in the coming academic year with "Programming Handheld Systems with Android," taught by computer science professor Adam Porter.The MOOC sequence begins at Maryland in the coming academic year with "Programming Handheld Systems with Android," taught by computer science professor Adam Porter. Then, the sequence continues with Vanderbilt computer science professor Douglas Schmidt and electrical and computer engineering professor Jules White, who will teach "Pattern-Oriented Software Architecture." This will focus on connecting mobile applications to the computing cloud.
 
"Creating such an opportunity for Vanderbilt and University of Maryland students alone would be incredibly complex in a traditional environment. With the MOOC platform, not only is it possible, it will now be available to learners globally," says Schmidt. "This trans-institutional and interdisciplinary MOOC sequence will provide an exemplar of how intentionally coordinated MOOCs can create learning communities that cut across traditional institutional and disciplinary boundaries."

Porter adds, “Although Doug Schmidt and I have collaborated on research for over 25 years, collaborating on education was just too complicated. MOOCs have changed that.”

Maryland and Vanderbilt each joined Coursera last September. They are deepening their involvement in the rapidly developing domain.

"This kind of innovation and experimentation is absolutely vital for us to realize the full potential of MOOCs, online education and the blended classroom," University of Maryland President Wallace Loh explains. "By creating interdisciplinary teams and collaborations between institutions, we will create unique learning communities that could not easily be managed outside the MOOC world."

UMD MOOC Expansion
Maryland will nearly double its MOOCs next year – introducing four new ones on Coursera, and bringing back four of the five offered this past spring. In addition to Porter's MOOC on programming handheld devices, the new courses will be:

  • Understanding the Terrorist Threat, (Gary LaFree, UMD-based National Consortium for the Study of Terrorism and Responses to Terrorism);
  • Practicing Tolerance in a Religious Society, (Bernard Cooperman, Jewish studies); and
  • Making Better Group Decisions, (Eric Pacuit, philosophy).

The returning Maryland MOOCs include:

  • Developing Innovative Ideas for New Companies (James Green, Maryland Technology Enterprise Institute);

UMD MOOC Evaluation
University of Maryland educators have concluded that the first experiments with MOOCs this year are already having an impact on teaching on the campus.

"There are numerous conversations about pedagogy, and the use of technology to decrease the amount of time devoted to lectures in classes to make room for more discussion and active learning," says Ben Bederson, who is spearheading planning and evaluation of the new technological initiatives at Maryland. "Several instructors are repurposing their MOOC videos for their on-campus classes."

One of them is Maryland Technology Enterprise Institute professor James Green, who taught a popular entrepreneurship MOOC twice so far, reaching a total of 150,000 students.

"We are creating a repository of interchangeable content and resources that can be deployed for multiple audiences and multiple purposes," Green says. "Not everything is fully reusable, but the bulk of it is applicable to MOOCs, online for-credit courses, flipped classrooms on campus, and limited enrollment non-credit online courses. All the while we're accumulating the know-how for integrating this material in these various settings."

Green plans to use this experience to enhance for-credit online courses through a mini-lecture approach with online assessments; increase flipped classroom model for face-to-face courses; and create a recruitment opportunity to attract entrepreneurial students to UMD.

To view the University of Maryland's MOOC offerings, visit https://www.coursera.org/umd.

Pages

Damon Evans
June 25
Evans has played a key role in operations, fundraising and Terrapin student-athlete success since 2014  Read
June 25
The University of Maryland will host a press conference Tuesday morning with University of Maryland President Wallace D... Read
June 15
The UMD Center for Art and Knowledge at The Phillips Collection announces Dr. Ashley Lazevnick as the 2018–19... Read