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UMD to Solve Global Language Problems at New Language Science Research Center

September 27, 2013
Contacts: 

Alana Carchedi 301-405-0235

COLLEGE PARK, Md. – The University of Maryland is launching a campus-wide, interdisciplinary research center designed to advance a deep understanding of language to promote human and technological solutions to real world problems.

Language ImageThe Maryland Language Science Center will combine the brain trust of the world's broadest and most integrated community of language scientists to connect answers to deep scientific problems—such as understanding how our brains make the richness of human language(s) possible—with solutions to real-world problems involving language in education, technology, health and security.

The center is a collaborative effort involving more than 200 language scientists, drawn from 16 departments and centers in six colleges across the university.

"Language is the foundation of what makes humans distinctive as a species. Without it, society, culture, and technology would simply not be possible," says Colin Phillips, a UMD professor of linguistics and director of the Maryland Language Science Center. "The formation of this new center will help us solve a variety of complex research problems that require the diverse expertise of faculty and students across the entire university."

Building on the established work of language scientists at the university, the new center will solve a variety of pressing global problems.  Some of this work includes early identification of language disorders in infants; narrowing education achievement gaps caused by ‘language poverty’; and building technology for information extraction and for real-time translation systems that emulate the feats of simultaneous interpreters.

"With the creation of the new Maryland Language Science Center, we are focusing on an innovative, interdisciplinary approach to language science and making it one of the university's strategic priorities," says Mary Ann Rankin, UMD's senior vice president and provost. "Through this unique collaborative model between the humanities and sciences, we will be able to create connections across campus between traditionally disparate areas and secure our spot at a global leader in language science research."

The Language Science Center will also serve as an incubator for development of new research areas that intersect with language, such as culture, genetics, automatic speech recognition, and K-12 language education.

To learn more about the Maryland Language Science Center, visit www.languagescience.umd.edu/launch.

Watch Colin Phillips discuss language science and provide insight on how humans seem to understand language so effortlessly even though it is not effortless at all:

UMD Empowers Americans to Make Smart Choice about Health Insurance

September 25, 2013
Contacts: 

Sara Gavin 301-405-9235

A team of experts from University of Maryland Extension is leading a national charge to empower consumers with Smart Choice – a comprehensive, research-based, unbiased curriculum designed to equip people with the tools they need to make the best decisions possible when choosing health insurance. COLLEGE PARK, Md. – Sweeping health care reform legislation means starting October 1, hundreds of millions of Americans – both those currently insured and uninsured – will have more options than ever before when it comes to health insurance. Yet research shows the vast majority of people in this country are uncomfortable, overwhelmed and intimidated when it comes to making decisions about health insurance coverage.

That’s why a team of experts from University of Maryland Extension is leading a national charge to empower consumers with Smart Choice – a comprehensive, research-based, unbiased curriculum designed to equip people with the tools they need to make the best decisions possible when choosing health insurance.

Smart Choice TrainingSmart Choice is the result of two years of research and pilot-testing that took place in seven states and is rolling out this fall through a series of educator and consumer workshops being held throughout the country. Through these workshops, participants learn how to analyze what they need and want from health care providers, compare plans, calculate how health insurance will affect their financial budgets, and ultimately, apply the information and knowledge gained to make a smart choice.

The Smart Choice Health Insurance Consumer workbook is now available to everyone online at www.extension.umd.edu/insure.

“Smart Choice is not about pushing consumers to select any one specific plan,” says Bonnie Braun, Ph.D., co-leader of the team of University of Maryland experts that developed Smart Choice. “It’s designed to help people gain a set of skills so that they can choose a plan that best fits their family’s needs and then use that plan efficiently once enrolled.”

Bonnie BraunBraun (pictured right) and her team started developing this program in 2011 when they realized there was nothing else like it available for consumers. With health insurance currently in the public spotlight, Smart Choice seeks to capitalize on this teachable moment by helping Americans take control of their personal and family financial health needs.

“Keeping your head above water can be extremely difficult when navigating the waters of health insurance – whether you’ve been insured throughout your life or are faced with selecting coverage for the very first time,” says Braun. “Smart Choice acts like a life vest: it empowers people by eliminating the intimidation factor, explaining the steps in the process and ultimately showing them how to find the best fit for their needs.”

Consumers around the country can take advantage of this groundbreaking program now and throughout the fall. For more information on Smart Choice, visit www.extension.umd.edu/insure.

UMD Joins Big Ten Conference Playwriting Initiative

September 25, 2013
Contacts: 

Missy McTamney 301-405-8102

COLLEGE PARK, Md. – The University of Maryland School of Theatre, Dance, and Performance Studies (TDPS) is partnering with theatre departments at Big Ten Conference schools to create a new playwriting and performance initiative. The group, known as the Big Ten Theatre Chairs, plans to commission, produce and publicize as many as five new plays in an effort to influence the national dialogue about women playwrights and the sorts of scripts needed by university theatre programs for performing arts education.

Photo credit: Zachary HandlerThe group plans to impact the dramatic underrepresentation of women playwrights in American theatre.  In a recent study cited in the The New York Times, it was determined that of the 20,000 playwrights in the Dramatists Guild and on Doolee.com, an online database of playwrights, there were twice as many male playwrights as female ones, and that the men tended to be more prolific, turning out more plays. To draw attention to this imbalance and support greater gender diversity in the field, the Big Ten Theatre Chairs plan to commission women playwrights to write the initiative’s first three plays.

The Big Ten Theatre Chairs also believe a need exists for a larger body of high-caliber plays with specific characteristics that make them effective tools for teaching theatre students.  In response to this, they intend to commission the writing of plays that each feature up to eight roles, primarily for women actors, and predominantly for characters of an age that can be credibly played by college students.

Leigh Wilson Smiley, director of TDPS. Photo credit: Mike CiesielskiThe program’s first commissioned dramatist, Naomi Iizuka, is one of the nation’s most acclaimed young authors and head of playwriting at University of California, San Diego’s Department of Theatre and Dance. Iizuka’s plays include 36 Views, Strike-Slip and Anon(ymous). Her work has been produced by the John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts, Joseph Papp Public Theatre and the New York Shakespeare Festival Actors’ Theatre. She is the recipient of a PEN/Laura Pels Award, a Rockefeller Foundation MAP grant, an NEA/TCG Artist-in-Residence grant and Princeton University’s Hodder Fellowship. Her first draft of the commissioned work will be reviewed and discussed in October by the Big Ten Theatre Chairs in a meeting at Northwestern University.

“Iizuka is a generous and extremely collaborative artist,” said Leigh Wilson Smiley, director of TDPS.  “We are most excited to have this opportunity to support her creativity and enhance our students' experience with innovation through the development of a new play.”

A full draft of the new play will be completed by spring, 2014 and will be performed during the 2014-2015 season at one or more Big Ten schools.  The group plans to commission one play by a woman playwright each year for three years, and as the project progresses, will commit to additional years. If Iizuka's play is chosen for UMD’s TDPS 2014-2015 season, she will be invited to campus to workshop the play with TDPS students.

Professor Honored as Top Civic Education Researcher

September 23, 2013
Contacts: 

Halima Cherif 301-405-0476

The National Council for the Social Studies (NCSS) has named Judith Torney-Purta, a professor of Human Development and Quantitative Methodology at the University of Maryland, as the 2013 Jean Dresden Grambs Distinguished Career in Research Award recipient. COLLEGE PARK, Md. – The National Council for the Social Studies (NCSS) has named Judith Torney-Purta, a professor of human development and quantitative methodology at the University of Maryland, as the 2013 Jean Dresden Grambs Distinguished Career in Research Award recipient. The annual award recognizes professionals who have made extensive contributions to knowledge concerning significant areas of social studies education through meritorious research.

Torney-Purta has been a research leader of domestic and international civic education initiatives for more than 50 years. Her impressive academic expertise in developmental and educational psychology and her research contributions span a wide range within the United States and internationally. Among the topics of her research are processes of social/political cognition, civic engagement, citizenship education, cross-cultural and inter-cultural studies, and research related to social policy.

In the 1970s and again in the 1990s Torney-Purta led international studies of adolescents' civics knowledge and attitudes that shaped a new conception of youth civic engagement and innovative assessment approaches. The resulting instruments and data sets are still being analyzed in dissertations and publications internationally.  Early career and senior researchers from more than 30 countries collaborated in the design of the studies.

A pragmatic and dynamic contributor to the field of civics education, Torney-Purta has thoughtfully worked with groups and institutions, such as the Center for Information and Research on Civic Learning and Engagement (CIRCLE), which influence school level practice in civics and citizenship education. She has also played an important role in developing the NAEP civics tests, in the civic education work of the Education Commission of the States, and in strengthening the research foundations of the Civic Mission of Schools and the Guardians of Democracy reports. Recently she has focused on strengthening processes of international collaboration in social science and educational research.

Recognizing the paucity of support for civic education research, Torney-Purta has been involved in efforts such as the Spencer Foundation's New Civics Initiative.  Her many scholarly presentations, publications, and honors as well as her service to the profession attest to her extraordinary lifelong contributions and support to the field.

Torney-Purta received a B.A. in Psychology with great distinction from Stanford University, and an M.A. and Ph.D. in Human Development from the University of Chicago.

Torney-Purta will be honored at the 93rd NCSS Annual Conference Nov. 22-24, in St. Louis, Mo. For more information visit: http://www.socialstudies.org/awards/research/grambs.

UMD-Led Deep Impact Ends, Leaves Bright Comet Tale

September 20, 2013
Contacts: 

Lee Tune, UMD, 301-405-4679
Dwayne Brown, NASA Headquarters, 202-358-1726
DC Agle, Jet Propulsion Laboratory, 818-393-9011

Scientific team's findings from spacecraft data transformed understanding of comets

Deep Impact LogoCOLLEGE PARK, Md. - NASA today announced the end of operations for the Deep Impact spacecraft, history's most traveled deep-space comet hunter, after trying unsuccessfully for more than a month to regain contact with the spacecraft.

UMD scientists – who helped conceive the mission, bring it to reality and keep it going years longer than originally planned—say it is a big loss, but find great satisfaction that Deep Impact exceeded all expectations and that the science derived from it transformed our understanding of comets.

"The impact on comet Tempel 1, the flyby of comet Hartley 2, and the remote sensing of comet Garradd have led to so many surprising results that there is a complete rethinking of our understanding of the formation of comets and of how they work.  These small, icy remnants of the formation of our solar system are much more varied, both one from another and even from one part to another of a single comet, than we had ever anticipated," said University of Maryland astronomer Michael A'Hearn, who led the Deep Impact science team from the successful Deep Impact proposal to its unanticipated completion.

"Deep Impact has been a principal focus of my astronomy work for more than a decade and I'm saddened by its functional loss. But, I am very proud of the many contributions to our evolving understanding of comets that it has made possible," A'Hearn said.

The Deep Impact flyby spacecraft and smaller impactor spacecraft are represented here. The impactor was traveling at 23,000 mph just before impact. CREDIT: Ball Aerospace & Technologies Corp. Modified by Tim Cline, UMDFirst Look Inside a Comet        
Deep Impact first made history and world-wide headlines on July 4, 2005 when a small impactor spacecraft – a refrigerator-sized probe released from the main craft – collided spectacularly with comet Tempel 1 at 23,000 mph to give scientists their first-ever view of pristine material from inside a comet.

A comet is composed of dust and ices and that form its body (nucleus) and tail (coma). The tail is created when heat from the Sun causes the body of the comet to give off dust and ice, forming a cloud that surrounds and extends out from the nucleus. According to A'Hearn the key goal of the Deep Impact's mission to Tempel 1 was to look for differences between the composition of the sun-heated surface of a comet's nucleus and its colder, more primordial interior. "Much to our surprise, and contrary to most theoretical models, the different ices [of water, carbon dioxide and carbon monoxide] that were excavated from as deep as 20 meters had the same relative abundances as the ones that were evaporating just below the surface," he said.

A'Hearn noted that science results of this mission also showed comets could be surprisingly fluffy. "We found that the nucleus of Tempel 1 as a whole is at least 50 percent empty space and the surface layer at the impact site at least 75 percent empty space. This finding confirmed the correctness of some previous indirect observations suggesting comets could be more porous than expected."

And he said the wide variety of craters and other surface features, and particularly the prominent layering of the nucleus found on this comet imply that the nuclei of short-period comets (those which orbit the Sun every 20 years or less) are not fragments of larger bodies as had been argued by many scientists.

An Extended Mission x 2
The nuclei of the two comets visited by NASA's Deep Impact spacecraft, shown here at the same scale. With a length of 4.7 miles (7.6 km), Tempel 1 is five times larger than Hartley 2. The smaller Hartley 2 shows clearly visible jets of gas and ice. Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech/UMD/McREL.After the original mission was complete, the University of Maryland-led science team convinced NASA to keep the spacecraft operational and consider new mission proposals. Working with scientists from the NASA Goddard Spaceflight Center just down the road in Greenbelt, Md., they ultimately created two missions in one. The Deep Impact spacecraft and its three working instruments (two color cameras and an infrared spectrometer) headed for an extended flyby of comet Hartley 2. On the way Deep Impact's high resolution camera searched for Earth-sized planets around other stars.

This extended mission culminated in the successful flyby of comet Hartley 2 – one of a small subset of known, hyperactive comets – on Nov. 4, 2010 during which the spacecraft flew through and imaged a "snow storm" of large and small fluffy ice particles. The team's analysis showed carbon dioxide was the volatile fuel generating the ice spewing jets that created this cosmic snow cloud.

Imaging 2 Comets in from the Cold
In January of 2012, the Deep Impact teams used the spacecraft's instruments for a distant campaign studying comet Garradd.  After spending some 4 billion years in the Siberia of the solar system, a distant, frozen region known as the Oort Cloud, the comet was making one of its first few passages close to the sun. Observations of Garradd led Maryland and other scientists to re-examine the behavior of frozen gases in comets and the gas jets that result when these ices are warmed by the Sun.

In 2013 the Deep Impact team was using the spacecraft to study another comet on its first time visitor from the Oort Cloud to the inner solar system, comet ISON. This study-from-a-distance campaign was cut short by the failure of the spacecraft.

"The core of the Deep Impact mission was a controlled planetary-scale impact experiment, but in the end it was so much more," said UMD astronomer and Deep Impact mission scientist Jessica Sunshine. "Deep Impact treated us to views of beautiful landscapes including flows, cliffs, and spires that we could never have imagined, flew us through a cloud of ice surrounding Hartley 2, and along the way also confirmed that the surface of the Moon is hydrated.

"The new perspective and the new series of questions raised by Deep Impact has inspired us to propose a new mission to understand the diversity of comets that Deep Impact revealed," said Sunshine, who was deputy principal investigator for the extended mission to Hartley 2. "Comet Hopper (CHopper) would be a cometary rover that would not be limited to tantalizing data from flyby comets. Instead it would explore a comet in detail, hopping from landform to landform, as the comet moves from the outer to the inner Solar System."

The Deep Impact mission is part of the Discovery Program managed at NASA's Marshall Space Flight Center in Huntsville, Ala. The University of Maryland, College Park, is home to Michael A'Hearn, principal investigator for Deep Impact, and of eight other mission scientists. JPL manages the Deep Impact mission for NASA's Science Mission Directorate, Washington. The spacecraft was built for NASA by Ball Aerospace & Technologies Corp., Boulder, Colo.

Click here to see science highlights from Deep Impact.

 

The Deep Impact logo is available here: http://deepimpact.umd.edu/webdings/logos/DI_Icon-med.gif

The Epoxi Mission logo is available here: http://epoxi.umd.edu/3gallery/graphics/logo_EPOXI-lg.jpg

UMD Recognized for Top Entrepreneurship Programs

September 19, 2013
Contacts: 

Alana Carchedi 301-405-0235

The University of Maryland has once again made The Princeton Review's list of the country's top entrepreneurship programs.COLLEGE PARK, Md. – The University of Maryland has once again made The Princeton Review's list of the country's top entrepreneurship programs. In the 2014 list of the "Top 50 Schools For Entrepreneurship Programs," published in Entrepreneur magazine, UMD ranks No. 15 for its undergraduate program. The university also ranks No. 16 for its graduate program, up eight spots from the 2013 rankings.

"The University of Maryland has been a pioneer in entrepreneurship for over two decades with nationally recognized entrepreneurship programs in both the business school and the engineering school.  But our rise in these rankings over the last few years also reflects our growing campus-wide emphasis on innovation and entrepreneurship in all twelve schools," says Dean Chang, UMD's associate vice president for innovation and entrepreneurship. "Over the past year, we have ramped up our entrepreneurship course offerings, mentoring opportunities and competitions all across campus. This work is still only a starting point for where we plan to take entrepreneurship at the University of Maryland in the future."

Based on surveys sent to school administrators at more than 2,000 institutions from April to June in 2013, the lists recognize 50 programs in all—25 undergraduate and 25 graduate—for their excellence in entrepreneurship education.

Schools are chosen based on a number of factors, including:

  • The levels of their commitment to entrepreneurship inside and outside the classroom;
  • The percentage of their faculty, students, and alumni actively and successfully involved in entrepreneurial endeavors;
  • The number of their mentorship programs; and
  • Their funding for scholarships and grants for entrepreneurial studies and projects.

UMD is a leader in educating the next generation of entrepreneurs. The university currently offers 51 undergraduate entrepreneurship classes and 25 graduate classes across 18 different campus departments; and UMD students have access to more than 30 entrepreneurship mentoring opportunities involving more than 70 different mentors. UMD offers 16 different business/innovation and seed fund competitions for aspiring entrepreneurs and innovators with cash prizes in excess of $400,000. The university also celebrates its annual '30 Days of EnTERPreneurship' and offers a Coursera MOOC course in entrepreneurship.

In addition to The Princeton Review's ranking, U.S. News and World Report recently ranked the university's entrepreneurship program No. 12 in the country in its latest undergraduate rankings.

UMD recently released a report on entrepreneurship efforts across campus, which is available here.

To view the full list of rankings, visit www.princetonreview.com/entrepreneur.  To learn more about entrepreneurship and innovation at UMD, visit http://innovation.umd.edu.

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.

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