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A New Model for Communication in Plant Cells

May 4, 2018

Matthew Wright, 301-405-9267

COLLEGE PARK, Md. – A UMD-led study published in the journal Science sheds new light on how plants communicate within cells using a protein that closely resembles a protein that in animals plays a role in communications between nerve cells.

May 4 Science CoverAlthough plants lack a true nervous system, previous studies have shown that plants need these proteins, called glutamate receptor-like proteins (GLRs), to do important things such as mate, grow, and defend themselves against diseases and pests.

In the current study, researchers working with pollen cells from a flowering weed native to Europe, Asia and Africa (Arabidopsis thaliana), found that these GLR proteins form the basis of a complex communication network inside individual plant cells. 

The research, which could inform many new studies of cell-to-cell communication in plants and animals alike, is featured on the cover of the May 4, 2018, issue of Science. Researchers from the University of Maryland, the Instituto Gulbenkian de Ciência in Portugal and the Universidad Nacional de Autónoma de México authored the study.

The similarities between the animal nerve proteins (glutamate receptors) and the similar GLR plant proteins suggests that the two proteins date back to a common ancestor—a single-celled organism that gave rise to both animals and plants.

“Why should plants have receptors like the ones that make neurons work? Our results support the idea that individual plant cells have a level of autonomy that animal cells do not,” said José Feijó, a professor of cell biology and molecular genetics at UMD and the senior author of the study. “Each plant cell has its own immune system, for example. And they have more communication channels to deal with the fact that they are stuck in place. Every flowering plant has more GLRs than animals have glutamate receptors. Our proposed model for plant cell communication suggests one reason for this abundance of GLRs.” 

Further progress toward decoding plant communication could result in reliable tests to diagnose diseases, nutrient deficiencies and other maladies in plants, Feijó said. Such measures could help to ensure food security, as climate change and other stressors begin to take a toll on major agricultural crops. 

Elaborating a two-protein process

The new findings suggest that GLRs rely on another group of proteins, called “cornichon” proteins, to shuttle GLRs to different locations in plant cells and to regulate activity of the protein within each cell.

With the help of cornichon proteins, GLRs act as valves that carefully manage the concentration of calcium ions—a vital aspect of many cell communication pathways—within various structures inside the cell, the study found. 

“Calcium concentration is one of the most important parameters inside all cells. It is so well regulated that it allows cells to encode information. Put another way, calcium is the lingua franca of cell communication,” said Feijó, noting that calcium is also vital to the function of animal neurons. “Our results suggest that GLRs play a role in this basic communication system in plants, and we also propose a mechanism for how the system works in plant cells.”

Feijó noted that there are some important differences between GLRs and their counterparts in animal neurons. 

To begin with, glutamate—the most common neurotransmitter in the human brain—does not play a major role in the plant system. Also, while glutamate receptors are known to sit on the outer surface of animal neurons, some of Feijo’s earlier experiments suggested that GLRs might instead be located on various structures inside plant cells. 

“This would be the only way to consistently explain the results we were getting,” Feijó said. “Our results suggest that GLRs are indeed redistributed to other compartments inside plant cells, forming a complex network that cooperates to regulate calcium concentrations and enable calcium signaling. This is a novel insight that opens completely new avenues to understand calcium signaling in plants.”

Feijó and Michael Wudick, a postdoctoral researcher in cell biology and molecular genetics at UMD and lead author of the paper, suspected that plant cells use a specific mechanism to control the locations of GLRs throughout the cell. This led Wudick to investigate cornichon proteins, which are linked to the activity of glutamate receptors in animals. 

In their experiments with Arabidopsis pollen cells, Feijó’s team found that cornichon proteins actively shuttled GLRs from one location to another within the cell, enabling various compartments inside the cell to maintain different calcium ion concentrations. Cornichons also act as gatekeepers for GLRs, switching the receptor molecules off and on like a valve in response to changing conditions inside the cell. 

Feijó also noted that a deeper understanding of GLRs could reveal new insights into animal glutamate receptors and their defects, which could be the cause of some neurodegenerative conditions. 

“Some researchers have suggested that neurodegeneration is caused by over-active glutamate receptors. This is not settled, but there are some conditions in both humans and dogs that have been linked to mutations in glutamate receptor genes,” Feijó said. “It is possible that our model could help investigate these conditions. The advantage is that our protocol is very easy to use.”

This work was supported by the U.S. National Science Foundation (Award Nos. MCB 1616437/2016 and MCB 1714993/2017), the Fundação para a Ciência e a Tecnologia (Award Nos. PTDC/BEX-BCM/0376/2012, PTDC/BIA-PLA/4018/2012, SFRH/PD/70739/2010 and SFRH/PD/70820/2010), the Consejo Nacional de Ciencia y Tecnología (Award No. 220085), and the Dirección General de Asuntos del Personal Académico-Universidad Nacional Autónoma de México (Award No. IN-203817). The content of this article does not necessarily reflect the views of these organizations.




UMD Renews Commitment to Comprehensive Diversity and Inclusion Efforts

May 3, 2018

Katie Lawson, 301-405-4622

COLLEGE PARK, Md. - The University of Maryland will begin implementation on the recommendations of the Joint President Senate Inclusion and Respect Task Force, renewing and expanding its commitment to diversity and inclusion. The Task Force’s recommendations, endorsed by the University Senate and approved by UMD President Wallace D. Loh, include a comprehensive diversity and inclusion initiative that centers on nine key areas: university values; prevention and education; hate/bias incident response; centralization; communication; evaluation and assessment; free speech and freedom of expression; current policies and guidelines; and resources and implementation. 

"We can and will make our campus more inclusive and respectful of every person's human dignity," said University of Maryland President Wallace D. Loh. ​"We'll do this together, based on our core values of excellence and equity, on our commitment to civil discourse and academic freedom, and with the additional resources needed. The job of implementing the recommendations of the Joint Task Force belongs to all of us." 

“All public universities are wrestling with balancing the rights of free speech and academic freedom with the values of diversity and inclusiveness. The task force has carefully crafted a cutting-edge conduct policy, free speech statement, and values statement that we believe protect all of those rights and values,” said Lucy Dalglish, one of the three co-chairs of the task force and dean of the Philip Merrill College of Journalism. 

“It was vitally important for us to listen to a variety of voices from our campus community. These rich conversations were incredibly valuable and directly informed our recommendations to create a more inclusive and respectful campus,” said Warren Kelley, another co-chair and assistant vice president in the Division of Student Affairs.

Key highlights of the task force recommendations include: 

  • Adopt a university values statement that will be ingrained into the culture of the university and the experience of all members of our community. Values outlined in the statement include building a community that is: united, respectful, secure and safe, inclusive, accountable, and empowered and open to growth.
  • Approve the proposed Policy on Threatening and Intimidating Conduct, which would prohibit "threatening or intimidating acts motivated in whole or in part because of an individual or group's actual or perceived protected status."
  • Adopt a statement on free speech values, which outlines the importance of promoting and protecting free expression, while considering the consequences that may result from hate speech. 
  • Conduct biennial climate surveys of faculty, staff, and students to better understand individual experiences in a variety of dimensions. The results of the university’s first campus climate survey, which took place in February 2018, show that while the majority of respondents feel welcome at the university, there are differences based on one’s racial or other personal identification. The survey’s findings can be found here.
  • Develop a comprehensive prevention and education initiative on diversity, inclusion and respect for faculty, staff and students consisting of a blend of mandatory and voluntary programming. 
  • Develop a comprehensive communication strategy that centralizes resources and prominently disseminates information related to equity, diversity, and inclusion to the entire campus community in a manner that is transparent, timely, and sensitive to all constituents. 

The President’s Office has directed campus leadership to begin working on the recommendations immediately. Some of this work is already underway or builds upon existing efforts, while other items will take longer to plan and implement.

To view the Task Force’s full report, visit: https://go.umd.edu/inclusion-respect-recs


Terp Thon and Symbiont Health Announced as 2018 Do Good Challenge Winners

May 3, 2018

Kaitlin Ahmad, 301-405-6360

COLLEGE PARK, Md.-- The University of Maryland’s School of Public Policy and its Do Good Institute has announced the winners of its 7th Annual Do Good Challenge. Terp Thon and Symbiont Health placed first in the competition, winning $5,000 each for their Do Good ideas. 

Founded by DGI and sponsored by Morgan Stanley Private Wealth Management, the Do Good Challenge supports the university’s culture of philanthropy, innovation and entrepreneurship, and gives student groups that are making a social impact on campus, in the community, and globally an opportunity to pitch their Do Good project or venture to an audience and panel of judges for a chance to win a share of more than $20,000. 

Terp Thon presenting at 2018 Do Good ChallengeTerp Thon, who won first place in the project category, raises funds and awareness for patients and their families at the Children’s National Health System. Throughout the year, the organization hosts various awareness campaigns, events and fundraising activities, including their annual dance marathon where students stand for 12 hours (a typical nurses’ shift) in support of current and former patients. All of the funds raised by the group provide patients and families with superior medical care and an array of support programs to enhance their hospital experience. Over the years, the group has raised more than 4 million dollars for families in need. 

First place in the venture category and a previous Do Good Challenge competitor, Symbiont Health has developed an enhanced medical alert system to help accelerate the response and rescue of elderly persons who fall and lose consciousness. The device and alert system detects falls through motion sensors and gyroscopic technology. The student group is working to expand its services by implementing a mesh networking system for WiFi routers to better track patient behaviors in real-time, with vital diagnostic information.

“The UMD Do Good Campus is pioneering a new model. We take what students are passionate about and give them the skills and tools to change the world,” said Director of the School of Public Policy’s Do Good Institute Robert T. Grimm Jr. “Maryland is the destination if you want to change the world for good.”

This year, six student groups competed as finalists in the Do Good Challenge, including Terp Thon, Symbiont Health, Nourish: Mommy and Me, Scholars Promoting and Revitalizing Care (SPARC), Recyclify, and Synapto. SPARC and Synapto won second place and $2,500 for their projects, while Norish: Mommy and Me and Recyclify won third place and $1,000 each to further their ideas.

Additional awards were presented at the event. SPARC received the Audience Choice Award, winning an extra $2,500. Two semi-finalist teams who earned the most “Do Good Dollars” during the showcase before the finals, were given the opportunity to give a lightning pitch on stage. Flush X was awarded first prize and $750 and Preventing Sexual Assault won second prize and $500 for their efforts.

To learn more about the Do Good Challenge and this year’s finalists visit www.dogood.umd.edu.


UMD- Led Research Team Awarded New $2.37M DOE Solar Power Tech Project

May 3, 2018

COLLEGE PARK, Md. – University of Maryland engineers will lead a new Department of Energy (DOE) research project aimed at lowering the cost of solar energy systems by advancing the technology of  microinverters -- devices that convert the direct current (DC) electricity generated by solar cells into the alternating current (AC) electricity used in homes and on the electrical grid.

Solar panels on Regents Drive GarageA. James Clark School of Engineering Associate Professor Alireza Khaligh, department of electrical and computer engineering and the Institute for Systems Research, is the principal investigator for a new three-year, $2.37 million DOE cooperative agreement: “Compact and Low-Cost Microinverter for Residential Systems.” UMD Mechanical Engineering Professor Patrick McCluskey is the co-principal investigator. The team also includes Patrick Chapman, Ph.D., SunPower Corporation, San Jose, Calif.; and Assistant Professor Fariborz Musavi, department of electrical engineering, Washington State University Vancouver.

The $2.37 million award includes funding from the DOE and a 20 percent awardee cost share from the participating collaborators. The project is one of nine projects DOE recently announced as part of its goal to cut the cost of solar energy system power electronics in half by 2030. Together, the projects are worth a total of $20 million. More information about the DOE's Advanced Power Electronics Design for Solar Applications program can be found at www.energy.gov/eere/solar/advanced-power-electronics-design-solar-applications-power-electronics.

In its announcement the DOE said that hardware innovations are critical to address solar photovoltaic (PV) reliability challenges and drive down the cost of installing and maintaining a PV solar system. Power electronics, which convert electricity from one form to another, are the critical link between PV arrays and the electric grid. Advances in power electronics can help grid operators rapidly detect and respond to problems, protect against physical and cyber vulnerabilities, and enable consumers to manage electricity use. Advanced solar power electronics can help deliver power safely, integrate PV with storage controls, and ensure power reliability.

“We are excited to be a part of revolution in the solar PV industry,” said Khaligh who directs UMD’s Maryland Power Electronics Laboratory.

Khaligh’s team will focus on developing a new generation of residential system microinverters using emerging gallium nitride (GaN) semiconductors. The new microinverters will have reduced costs of manufacturing and enhanced reliability thermal management and packaging. The resulting products will be commercialized by SunPower, a market leader in high performance PV systems technology for residential, commercial and power plant applications.

“There is remarkable potential for power electronics technologies to improve the reliability and flexibility of solar energy on the grid,” said Daniel Simmons, the DOE's principal deputy assistant secretary for the Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy. “These projects represent a critical step in exploring the potential grid services such advanced technologies can provide.”

The nine research projects also will help the DOE accelerate the penetration of low-cost PV systems in the U.S.; enhance U.S. international competitiveness in this important field; and create more U.S. technology and manufacturing jobs.

About the DOE Solar Energy Technologies Office

The U.S. Department of Energy Solar Energy Technologies Office supports early-stage research and development to improve the affordability, reliability and performance of solar technologies on the grid.

UMD Emerges as State Leader in 2018 RecycleMania Competition

May 2, 2018

Andrew Muir, 301-405-4621

Richie Recyclemania SignGreen Terps sign upTestudo next to Recycling bin


COLLEGE PARK, Md. -- The annual RecycleMania competition among colleges and universities nationwide has concluded, and this year, the University of Maryland surpassed its 2017 results in almost every major category.

Highlights from the 2018 competition include:

  • No. 1 in the state of Maryland with a 49% recycling rate (an improvement from 44% in 2017);
  • No. 1 in the state of Maryland and No. 13 nationwide for the Total Recycling category, generating 922,603 pounds of recycling (an improvement from 808,676 pounds in 2017);
  • The university recycled 9,468 pounds of sensitive documents for shredding and 5,462 pounds of electronics during an all-campus shredding and electronics recycling event in March. 

The 2018 tournament featured 300 schools participating from 46 states in the United States, the Districtof Columbia and Canada, with an enrollment of 3.6 million students. Participating colleges and universities are ranked in various categories according to how much recycling and food waste they divert from the landfill over two months.

Throughout the competition, the university saved 861 metric tons of CO2 over an eight-week period, comparable to keeping over 169 cars off the road or the energy consumption of 75 households during this period of time.

“Once again, the University of Maryland posted great results for RecycleMania,” said Bill Guididas, Assistant Director, Administrative Services, Facilities Management. “One of the notable outcomes this year was the fact that while the percentage of waste recycled went up, the total volume of waste generated went down.  The focus on avoiding single use plastics and using reusable items has had a positive impact on the waste that we generate. “

Outreach and education efforts included a sensitive document shredding and e-waste event, educational activities at residence halls as a part of the Green Terp and Green Chapter programs, and the fifth annual “Recycle This!” video contest. This year’s winner was student, Nisha Seebachan ’19, for her video, “Why Recycling is Not a Trend; It’s Actually Important.” 

“RecycleMania provides us with an opportunity to engage with colleges around the importance of recycling and to encourage them to make the act of recycling a part of their daily routine,” said Helen Lowman, president and CEO, Keep America Beautiful. “Our goal with programs like RecycleMania is that these recycling behaviors stick with the participants throughout their lives and in turn, they educate their family and friends about the value of recycling and composting.”

For a sumary of UMD’s RecycleMania performance visit http://recyclemania.umd.edu 


UMD Leads Study on Improving HPV Vaccination Rates Among African-American Adolescents

April 30, 2018

K. Lorraine Graham, 301-405-2782

COLLEGE PARK, Md. — The University of Maryland (UMD) has received a $2.2 million grant from the National Cancer Institute at the National Institutes of Health to develop effective communication strategies to improve human papillomavirus (HPV) vaccination rates among African-American adolescents. 

HPV is the most commonly sexually transmitted infection in the United States. If left untreated, it can cause a variety of cancers, but it is easily prevented through a vaccination. The best time to be vaccinated is between ages 11 and 12, which means that the decision to vaccinate or not is made by parents or caregivers. 

“This vaccine is especially controversial because parents, regardless of race, fear it will encourage their children to become sexually active sooner—even though there is no evidence to support that concern,” said Xiaoli Nan, professor of communication in UMD’s College of Arts and Humanities and director of UMD’s Center for Health and Risk Communication.

Nan will lead a cross-disciplinary research team that includes co-investigators Cheryl Holt and Min Qi Wang from UMD’s School of Public Health and Shana Ntiri and Clement Adebamowo from the University of Maryland School of Medicine (UMSOM). The team will develop and test communication strategies to encourage African-American parents to allow their children to receive the HPV vaccine. The study builds on research she began in 2011, which found that African-Americans’ historical mistrust of the medical community as well as negative views on vaccines partially contribute to the low vaccination rates.

"By bringing together an innovative team of investigators working across disciplinary boundaries and campuses, this ambitious project supports the goals of our strategic partnership with the University of Maryland, Baltimore,'" said Bonnie Thornton Dill, dean of the College of Arts and Humanities at UMD. "When communication scholars, public health experts and doctors from Maryland's most powerful public research institutions collaborate we can solve important health problems facing the state and the nation."

The research team will partner with several pediatric clinics in Baltimore to develop and test communication strategies to motivate the parents of African-American adolescents to allow their children to be vaccinated. Through focus groups and interviews, the team will learn more about the children who visit the clinics and their parents. This knowledge will help the researchers determine the best way to talk to individuals about the HPV vaccination. 

After creating and thoroughly testing several messages, they will determine which one is the most persuasive and how best to deliver it. Is it more persuasive for people to read a brochure on their own or to have a conversation with their pediatrician? Are parents more motivated by messages that talk about the positive benefits of getting the vaccine or the negative consequences of not getting it? These are the kinds of questions that the team will test and study.

"We are excited to expand our collaborative research with the University of Maryland through this project that is at the intersections of the humanities, public health and medicine,” said E. Albert Reece, executive vice president for medical affairs at the University of Maryland, Baltimore, John Z. and Akiko K. Bowers distinguished professor and dean of UMSOM. 

By using research methods that draw on the humanities, social sciences and medicine, the team will ultimately make evidence-based recommendations for doctors, nurses and public health officials about how to communicate with African-American parents about the HPV vaccine. 

Nan believes that understanding how we communicate with each other and what motivates us to take action is a key element of understanding human nature, and that knowledge can be harnessed to promote positive social change.

“Nearly 50 percent of cancer cases can be prevented through lifestyle changes,” says Nan. “Communication science is an interdisciplinary research practice that can promote positive changes in health behaviors and save lives.” 

Nan is an expert in health and risk communication, studying how communication strategies influence health-related decisions. Research shows that African-Americans are more likely to develop--and die from-- cancer than others, partly because they are less likely to have access to adequate care and often face racism when they do receive care. Her research focuses on cancer prevention in medically underserved communities where people do not have access to adequate healthcare because of social and economic inequalities. 




UMD Partners with Korea Electronics Technology Institute to Advance New Energy Technologies

April 30, 2018

Melissa L. Andreychek, 301-405-0292

COLLEGE PARK, Md. — The University of Maryland and the Korea Electronics Technology Institute (KETI) located in Seongnam, Republic of Korea, have announced a five-year partnership to accelerate research and innovation of energy technologies.

UMD, led by the Maryland Energy Innovation Institute (MEI2) at the A. James Clark School of Engineering, and KETI will cooperate and develop innovative joint projects in fields of common interest,including: new types of batteries and other energy storage and conversion technologies; innovative power plant cooling; energy efficiency and building heating/cooling technologies; advanced energy materials; and intelligent transportation systems.

“The University of Maryland is already a demonstrated leader in sustainable energy research and technology transfer. This new partnership with the Korea Electronics Technology Institute will expand our capabilities to share knowledge, accelerate research discoveries, and create new technologies that advance our state, national, and international progress toward a more sustainable future,” said University of Maryland Provost Mary Ann Rankin.

“The stars align in this collaboration,” said University of Maryland President Wallace D. Loh. “It brings investment to Maryland, combines together two world leaders in energy research and innovation, and will help advance sustainability.”

KETI members with UMD members

From left to right: Chungwon Park, President of KETI; Ungyu Paik, Minister of Korean Ministry of Trade, Industry, and Energy; Eric Wachsman, director of MEI2; Mary Ann Rankin, Provost of UMD; and Wallace D. Loh, President of UMD.

Last year, Maryland Governor Larry Hogan authorized $7.5 million in state funding for MEI2, a UMD-based initiative that is designed to catalyze clean energy research programs at academic institutions in the state and attract and develop private investment in clean energy innovation and commercialization. UMD officials say the partnership provides a unique capability to move toward this goal through the exchange of UMD and KETI faculty, students, and other scholars for research, teaching, and study; joint research activities; and the exchange of scholarly publications and other information, including library collections and services.

“The Maryland Energy Innovation Institute was created to advance energy innovation by translating university research to companies and jobs for the State of Maryland. This collaboration with the Korea Electronics Technology Institute will provide additional resources to accomplish this mission, initially with respect to research but ultimately toward commercialization of the developed technologies,” said Eric Wachsman, director of MEI2 and William L. Crentz Centennial Chair in Energy Research at UMD.

“Moreover, we are particularly excited by the support of the Korean Ministry of Trade, Industry, and Energy as we create a stronger partnership between Maryland based and Korean energy industries,” added Wachsman.

On April 21, representatives from UMD, KETI, and the Korean Ministry of Trade, Industry, and Energy gathered in Potomac, Maryland, to sign a memorandum of understanding to officially launch the partnership.




UMD Awards Funds to Support Campus Sustainability Projects

April 27, 2018

Andrew Muir, 301-405-7068

COLLEGE PARK, Md. -- The University of Maryland’s Office of Sustainability recently announced University Sustainability Fund projects approved for 2018. The fund provides grants to students, faculty, and staff for the implementation of projects that will improve sustainability on campus or in the local community.

Projects approved for funding by the Student Sustainability Fund Review Committee and the University Sustainability Council include: 

  • Green Terp and Green Chapter: $121,728
  • Student Leadership in Campus Community Expanded: $50,000
  • Next Generation Technologies for Sensing, Actuation and Control of reACT: $47,500
  • Aquaponics Research Center: $36,800
  • Environmental Justice Symposium: $17,000
  • Stamp Vertical Garden: $15,000
  • Understanding and Navigating Environmental Justice: $14,000
  • Gemstone Team Sunny D/Purify: $6,372
  • Gemstone Team CAPTURE: $4,070
  • Gemstone Team OMEGA: $2,500
  • Gemstone Team Oysters: $1,616

“The University Sustainability Fund has proven to be a critical campus resource that supports new and innovative sustainability projects across the university,” said Scott Lupin, Director, Office of Sustainability. “Programs like Green Terp and Green Chapter are so important because they are designed to inform, educate and engage students about sustainability and their personal behaviors.”

Sudent Signs up for Green Terps Program

Leading the awards, the Green Terp and Green Chapter programs received additional funding this year after a successful pilot phase completed in 2017. Green Terp started as a pilot in Oakland and Ellicott Hall focused on encouraging sustainable behaviors and has now expanded to thirteen residence halls. The next step is to expand to become a campus-wide program. 

"Green Terp is growing into a highly successful program for sustainability education in our residence halls,” said Deb Grander, Director, Department of Resident Life. “We are excited to have received this grant to help us expand the program throughout our residential communities. Green Terp is a significant step in transforming students' behaviors around living a sustainable life.  We are proud that our students have taken such a strong interest in this program as they become global citizens for sustainability now and in the future.”    

Student poses after signing up for Green Terps program

The partner program to Green Terp entitled Green Chapter focuses on encouraging sustainable behaviors in the Greek Life community. The program currently features eight fraternity and sorority chapters. 

"It was exciting for us to double the size of the program from last year and include one of our non-housed groups, Lambda Theta Alpha, a member of the Multicultural Greek Council,” said Heidi Biffl, Senior Coordinator, Department of Fraternity & Sorority Life. “Our community responded to the program with great commitment and enthusiasm so with support from the Sustainability Fund, we are looking forward to expanding the program to more chapters next year."

The grant for the UMD Solar Decathlon house, reACT marks an important next step for the university to display its award-winning project on campus. The grant was secured by the School of Architecture, Planning and Preservation and the A. James Clark School of Engineering.    

Other projects approved for funding include the “Student Leadership in Campus Community Expanded,” grant from the College of Information Studies and the National Center for Smart Growth, which provides students the opportunity to work with local municipalities to address sustainability issues; The Stamp Student Union’s vertical garden to increase green features in the building; and grants for environmental justice efforts in the School of Public Health and ongoing student research projects in the Gemstone program. 

“Watching these projects come to fruition as a student member of the Sustainability Council has been incredibly satisfying,” said Logan Kline ‘18, Environmental Science and Policy student. “Each project proposal was vetted by a diverse collection of students who represent multiple colleges, backgrounds, and interests. This ensured that projects coming to the Council reflected student interests and sustainability values at their cores, and hopefully will encourage more student groups to propose their own projects in upcoming years.”

Since 2011, the University Sustainability Fund has granted $2.2 million to 120 sustainability projects. 

For more information: sustainabilityfund.umd.edu

University of Maryland Recognized as Best Value College in the State

April 27, 2018

Jennifer Burroughs, 301-405-4621

COLLEGE PARK, Md. -- The University of Maryland has been honored as one of the nation's best value colleges by Forbes. UMD’s value was ranked No. 1 in Maryland, in the top 15 among public colleges and top 50 overall. 

In an effort to help students and their families make the best education decisions for their financial situations and evaluate likely return on their investment, Forbes assessed each institution on quality of education, alumni earnings, student loan debt, net price, graduation rate and pell grant recipients. Large public research universities dominated the top of the list with the University of California, Los Angeles and University of California, Berkley at No. 1 and No. 2, respectively. 

UMD was also recognized for its value by Kiplinger’s Personal FInance and The Princeton Review this year. 

The full Forbes list of America’s Best Value Colleges is here: www.forbes.com/value-colleges/list/

Statement on Athletic Director Search -- April 26, 2018

April 26, 2018

Jessica Jennings, 301-405-4621

In a message to the campus leadership today, President Wallace D. Loh said: 

Dear colleagues,

The University of Maryland is ​launching​ a national and confidential search for the new Athletic Director.

​A national search​ means that we ​seek and consider all ​qualified candidates. ​A confidential search​ means that​ we secure the privacy of all candidates. The only candidate who will be identified ​publicly is the one ​named​ as the new Athletic Director. ​

The search committee: 

  • ​Darryll Pines, committee chair; Dean of the A. J. Clark School of Engineering and Farvardin Professor of Aerospace Engineering
  • Mark Butler, ​UMD Foundation Board​ trustee​; ​Chairman and CEO, Ollie's Bargain Outlet Holdings, Harrisburg, PA
  • Michele Eastman, Assistant President and Chief of Staff
  • Barry Gossett, Vice Chair, USM Board of Regents​; chairman, New Acton Mobile Industries​
  • ​Nicholas Hadley, Faculty Athletic Representative​; ​Professor of Physics
  • Cheryl Harrison, Director of Development, ​Maryland ​Athletics
  • Missy Meharg, Head Coach, field hockey
  • Andrew Valmon, Head Coach, track and field

​After interviewing national search firms, we selected ​Turnkey Search. In recent years, Turnkey helped recruit new Athletic Directors for ​the ​University of Michigan, University of Minnesota, University of Nebraska, Georgia Tech, University of Alabama, University of Tennessee, Georgetown University, and Bowling Green State University.

The ​Turnkey ​consultants ​who will assist us in ​our ​search​ are:

  • Len Perna, Esq., Founder and CEO of ​Turnkey​​. He ​has ​overseen​ the successful completion of 500 executive-level searches in professional sports.
  • Gene DeFilippo, ​Managing Director of Turnkey. He served as Athletics Director at Boston College, Villanova, and University of South Carolina-Upstate​. He brings ​39 years of experience in intercollegiate athletic administration and higher education.

They have extensive relationships with athletics administrators ​from ​across the country. They will ensure a confidential and secure application process​, ​as well as arrange all candidate interviews. ​

The consultants will meet ​with members of various internal and external stakeholder​ groups​, including University shared governance bodies, athletics coaches and staff, student-athletes, academic and administrative leaders, and friends and supporters of Maryland Athletics.

​Their goal is to ​gather input​​ on the desired ​candidate profile for ​the next ​​UMD Athletic Director​. ​This​ information will​ ​help them ​develop ​the job description and identify and ​recruit ​the best-fit candidates for the position. All ​inquiries and communications regarding UMD's search will be managed by Turnkey. 

I anticipate​, as do ​the consultants, that the ​UMD ​Athletic ​Director position ​will attract strong candidates​ from throughout the nation.  

​Our University's membership in the ​select Association of American Universities​; our location near Washington, D.C. and Baltimore; our membership in the Big Ten Conference and Big Ten Academic Alliance; the excellence and dedication of our coaches and athletics staff; the storied ​history of​ Maryland Athletics; the new indoor practice facility and the planned clinical and research facilities for sports medicine, health, and human performance in ​the new ​Cole Field House; the new Barry and Mary Gossett Center for Academic and Personal Excellence of student-athletes; the upcoming ​University​-wide Fearless Ideas capital campaign, with high goals for Maryland Athletics -- these are​ the kinds ​of the opportunities that will attract candidates with ​the ethical values, the commitment to student-athletes' welfare,​ the administrative experience, ​the leadership​ and interpersonal skills, ​and the ​​energy, ​vision, and passion to lead our athletics program to new levels of success and impact. 

​Maryland ​Athletics is the "front porch" of ​our University. ​As President, my responsibility is to appoint an Athletics Director ​who will be​ the best fit for the University of Maryland, informed by the input of all key stakeholders; then, be a strong partner of the Athletics Director in the years ahead to realize the highest expectations ​we all share ​for Maryland Athletics. 

Thank you for your​ support of Maryland Athletics. ​



Wallace D. Loh

President, University of Maryland  



February 8
Darryll Pines, dean of UMD's A. James Clark School of Engineering, is elected to the NAE for “inspirational leadership... Read
February 7
University of Maryland researchers have created a fabric that dynamically regulates heat passing through it. Read