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UMD’s Division of Information Technology Moving to Growing Discovery District

March 7, 2018

Jessica Jennings, 301-405-4618

COLLEGE PARK, Md. - The University of Maryland announces today its Division of Information Technology will be moving to the Discovery District, an epicenter of academic, research and economic development for UMD and the region. 

The Division of IT’s new space will include 60,000 square feet located at 5801 University Research Court in a three-story, 71,000 square foot building owned by Corporate Office Properties Trust (NYSE: OFC). Moving into this new space will consolidate the vast majority of the Division’s current operations, which are currently spread across four buildings. In the new, state-of-the-art space, the Division of IT will be able to streamline processes, build greater teamwork and better share information and best practices. 

“We are thrilled to be joining the Discovery District and to be part of the growing innovation ecosystem,” said Jeffrey Hollingsworth, UMD’s interim chief information officer. “The incredible new facilities will allow us to collaborate within the Division and with campus partners like never before, allowing our information technology operations to thrive.” 

The Discovery District is part of UMD’s Greater College Park initiative, a $2 billion public-private investment to rapidly revitalize the Baltimore Avenue corridor and academic campus, which includes dynamic academic spaces, a public-private research hub and vibrant downtown community. 

The Division of IT’s move to the new space frees up existing space in the center of campus, which will begin long-term renovation plans that allow the university to better serve its core academic mission. 

The Division of IT plans to move to the new location in summer 2018. 


New Technology for Use in Military Vehicles May Protect Warfighters from Blast-induced Brain Injury

March 6, 2018

UMD: Melissa Andreychek, 301-405-0292
UMSOM: Alex Likowski, 410-706-3801

COLLEGE PARK, Md.-- Researchers from the University of Maryland (UMD) and the University of Maryland School of Medicine (UMSOM) have developed a new military vehicle shock absorbing device that may protect warfighters against traumatic brain injury (TBI) due to exposure to blasts caused by land mines. During Operations Iraqi Freedom and Enduring Freedom, more than 250,000 warfighters were victims of such injuries.

Prior to this study, most research on blast-induced TBI focused on the effects of rapid changes in barometric pressure, also known as overpressure, on unmounted warfighters. “This is the only research to date to model the effects of under-vehicle blasts on the occupants,” explains Gary Fiskum, Ph.D., M. Jane Matjasko professor for research and vice-chair, Department of Anesthesiology at UMSOM. “We have produced new and detailed insights into the causes of TBI experienced by vehicle occupants, even in the absence of significant ambient pressure changes.” The research has also resulted in the development of materials and vehicle frame design that greatly reduce injury caused by under-vehicle explosions.

Fiskum and William Fourney, Ph.D., associate dean, University of Maryland's A. James Clark School of Engineering, keystone professor of aerospace and mechanical engineering and director of the Dynamic Effects Laboratory were the first to demonstrate how the enormous acceleration (G-force) that occupants of vehicles experience during under-vehicle blasts can cause mild to moderate TBI even under conditions where other vital organs remained unscathed.

“Intense acceleration can destroy synapses, damage nerve fibers, stimulate neuroinflammation, and damage the brain’s blood vessels,” explains Fiskum. Researchers also elucidated the molecular mechanisms responsible for this specific form of TBI.

These findings are described in articles published in the Journal of Trauma and Acute Care Surgery, with Julie Proctor, M.S., UMSOM lab manager, as primary author, Experimental Neurology, with Flaubert Tchantchou, Ph.D., UMSOM research associate as primary author, and in the Journal of Neurotrauma, with Rao Gullapalli, Ph.D., professor of diagnostic radiology, UMSOM, as senior author.

Mitigating G-force experienced by vehicle occupants

Fourney, Ulrich Leiste, Ph.D., assistant research engineer in the Clark School’s Department of Aerospace Engineering, and doctoral researcher Jarrod Bonsmann, Ph.D., developed highly advanced shock absorber designs that incorporate polyurea-coated tubes and other structures to reduce the blast acceleration experienced by vehicle occupants by up to 80 percent.

“Essentially, it spreads out the application of force,” Fourney explains. “Polyurea is compressible and rebounds following compression, resulting in an excellent ability to decrease the acceleration,” he says. A test of the technology can be viewed at https://go.umd.edu/UnderVehicleBlastSimulation

Reducing blast-induced TBI

These results were combined with those of Tchantchou, who demonstrated that mitigation of g-force by the elastic frame designs virtually eliminates the behavioral alterations in lab rats and loss of neuronal connections observed using small scale vehicles with fixed frames, as published in the Journal of Neurotrauma. Peter Rock, M.D., MBA, Martin Helrich chair of the Department of Anesthesiology, noted that “the research team has addressed an important clinical problem by identifying a novel mechanism to explain TBI, engineered a solution to the problem, and convincingly demonstrated improvements in morphology and behavior.  This work has important implications for improving outcomes in military blast-induced TBI and might be applicable to causes of civilian TBI, such as car crashes.”

Looking forward

Continued collaboration between the labs of Fiskum and Fourney will hopefully lead to the next generation of armor-protected military vehicles that will further protect warfighters from both injury and death.  An important next step will be testing a larger scale model.  “If the data holds up for those, it will hold true for full scale,” Fourney says.


This research is supported by the University of Maryland Strategic Partnership: MPowering the State, a collaboration between the University of Maryland, Baltimore (UMB) and the University of Maryland, College Park (UMCP). Initial funding was provided by a 2009 UMB - UMCP collaborative seed grant awarded to Drs. Fiskum and Fourney. In 2013, the two were awarded a $1.5 million contract by the US Department of Defense Joint Program Committee 6/Combat Casualty Care Psychological Health and Traumatic Brain Injury Program to support their research using small-scale models of under-vehicle explosions. An additional grant of $2.6 million was awarded by the US Air Force, demonstrating that increasing the cabin pressure in airplanes during air-evacuation of trauma patients to a level greater than what is currently used improves outcomes following exposure of rats to TBI caused by under-vehicle explosions, as published in the Journal of Trauma and Acute Care Surgery.  



About the University of Maryland
The University of Maryland, College Park is the state's flagship university and one of the nation's preeminent public research universities. A global leader in research, entrepreneurship and innovation, the university is home to more than 40,000 students, 10,000 faculty and staff, and 280 academic programs. Its faculty includes two Nobel laureates, three Pulitzer Prize winners, 60 members of the national academies and scores of Fulbright scholars. The institution has a $1.9 billion operating budget and secures $514 million annually in external research funding. For more information about the University of Maryland, College Park, visit www.umd.edu.

About the University of Maryland, Baltimore
Founded in 1807, the University of Maryland, Baltimore is Maryland’s only public health, law, and human services university, dedicated to excellence in education, research, clinical care, and public service. UMB enrolls 6,500 students in six nationally ranked professional schools — medicine, law, dentistry, pharmacy, nursing, and social work — and an interdisciplinary Graduate School. The university provides more than $40 million each year in uncompensated care to Maryland citizens, and receives more than $500 million in extramural research funding annually. For more information about the University of Maryland, Baltimore, visit www.umaryland.edu.

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


New UMD Study Traces the Origins of a Major Potato Pest

March 5, 2018

Samantha Watters, 301-405-2434

COLLEGE PARK, Md. -- A new study from a University of Maryland-led team of researchers confirms the long held idea that the Colorado potato beetle, by far the most damaging insect to the U.S. potato industry, originated in the Great Plains region of the United States. The findings dispel more recent theories that this beetle may have come from Mexico or other divergent populations.

These findings shed new light on the origin of a pest with a unique ability to adapt to pesticides almost faster than the industry can keep up. The beetle is consistently a major issue for potato farmers in Maryland, across the U.S. and in Europe.  By determining the origins of this pest and better understanding its genetic makeup, this new investigative evolutionary biology work could advance efforts to develop better pest management strategies that combat the potato beetle’s pesticide resistance abilities, and thus benefit the potato industry and its consumers.

“With this study, we were trying to gain insight into two major questions: Where did the potato beetle come from? And why do they evolve resistance so quickly?,” said lead author David Hawthorne, Ph.D., associate professor in the entomology department at the University of Maryland. “This would have major implications in controlling the pest, since the more growers have to spray, the greater their costs and risk to the surrounding environment. We need a strategy to weigh our options and determine the best way to control these pests without overspraying, or even torching entire fields overrun with beetles, which has happened in the past when there has been no effective pesticide options.”

Hawthorne and his team found that the populations of beetles that eat potatoes are most closely related to nightshade eaters in the Plains states. Beetles from Mexico, a possible source of the pest populations, are too distantly related. “Before they became pests, the plains beetles first evolved a taste for potatoes,” says Hawthorne. “Some non-pest populations still don’t eat them and will prefer the weeds surrounding the potatoes, but not the potatoes themselves. This is just one way that populations may differ.”

Hawthorne and colleagues say that by understanding the distinctions between these populations and which beetles are the source of current pest populations, more targeted pest management strategies can be developed based on the specific genetic makeup of the beetles, leading to more effective pest management and less spraying. Their findings were recently published in The Journal of Economic Entomology.

The United States is the fourth largest producer of potatoes worldwide, producing over 20 million tons of potatoes each year. By comparing the genetics of pre-agriculture potato beetles -- before the pest began to consume potatoes -- to post-agriculture potato beetles.  Hawthorne and his team seek to understand why and how the beetle is developing resistance so quickly, and what can be done to slow resistance.

“The Colorado potato beetle is almost always one of the first insects to develop resistance to any pesticide. In fact, many contribute the entire pesticide arms race and development of pesticides to this particular beetle, which can destroy entire fields very easily,” says Hawthorne.

Hawthorne describes this work as almost forensic biology, tracking the evolution and movement of this beetle across time and geography. “I like that this work is very interdisciplinary,” says Hawthorne. “It is about taking all the puzzle pieces and trying to put the whole story together to have the biggest impact on the field. Ultimately, this work is a major step towards understanding one of the most harmful pests, and has significant implications in controlling the population, keeping the potato industry stable, and fighting pesticide resistance and overspraying.”

### About the University of Maryland The University of Maryland, College Park is the state's flagship university and one of the nation's preeminent public research universities. A global leader in research, entrepreneurship and innovation, the university is home to more than 40,000 students, 10,000 faculty and staff, and 280 academic programs. Its faculty includes two Nobel laureates, three Pulitzer Prize winners, 60 members of the national academies and scores of Fulbright scholars. The institution has a $1.9 billion operating budget and secures $514 million annually in external research funding. For more information about the University of Maryland, College Park, visit www.umd.edu.


Durable Wood Carbon Sponge Could Be the Future of Wearable Sensors, Pollutant Treatment

March 1, 2018

Natifia Mullings, 301-405-4076

COLLEGE PARK, Md. — Engineers at the University of Maryland (UMD) have for the first time demonstrated that wood can be directly converted into a carbon sponge capable of withstanding repeated compression and other extreme mechanical conditions. The new sponge can be used in various applications such as energy storage (e.g., batteries), pollutant treatment, and electronic devices and sensors. 

Graphic of wood carbon sponge productionThe UMD engineers’ wood carbon sponge overcomes several limiting factors of other lightweight, compressible carbon sponges because it is simpler, less expensive, and more sustainable to produce. Most lightweight, compressible carbon sponges are made from raw materials that are usually nonrenewable fossil resources—such as graphene—and by a complicated fabrication process that involves multiple steps and environmentally unfriendly chemicals. In contrast, the UMD researchers use a simple chemical process to transform balsa wood, a choice biomass-based material that is both renewable and abundant. Their findings were published in Chem on March 1.

“Our results reveal that rigid and incompressible balsa can be made highly compressible by a chemical treatment and carbonization process, yielding a wood carbon sponge with mechanical compressibility and fatigue resistance and electrical response sensitivity surpassing those of most reported compressible carbonaceous materials,” says corresponding author Liangbing Hu, associate professor of materials science and engineering at UMD’s A. James Clark School of Engineering.

Hu and colleagues achieved the bendable yet resilient architecture of the wood carbon sponge by using common chemicals to destroy the stiff hemicellulose and lignin fibers that maintain the normal cell-wall structure of balsa wood, then heating the treated wood to 1,000C in order to turn the organic material into carbon alone. The net effect of the process was to collapse the repeated, regular, rectangular pockets typical of the microstructure of balsa and other woods and replace them with a stack of wavy, interlocking, arch-like carbon sheets, likened by Hu to a cross between a coiled spring and a honeycomb.

Normal carbonized wood—obtained from only the heating step without any chemical modifications—is so fragile that any reasonable applied force pulverizes it irreversibly into ash and dust. However, the wood carbon sponge withstood and rebounded from substantial compression for up to 10,000 consecutive trials before deformation set in. Such a performance initially surprised the research team. 

“Our process for creating the wood carbon sponge is unique because we preserve the structure of the wood. This makes the sponge highly compressible and resistant to stress. This means the performance of our wood carbon sponge is one of the best among all lightweight and compressible carbonaceous materials ever reported,” says lead author Chaoji Chen, postdoctoral researcher at UMD’s A. James Clark School of Engineering.

After conducting further mechanical and electrical tests on the sponge, the researchers were able to incorporate a slice of it into a strain sensor prototype suitable for attachment to a human finger, a quality desirable for use in wearable fitness or health-monitoring electronics.

The researchers believe that the wood carbon sponge could also be incorporated into water purification devices and energy storage and conversation technologies, such as supercapacitors and rechargeable batteries. “The abundant applications illustrate the value of a strategy that explores the hidden potentials of natural materials, such as trees, by drawing inspiration from other natural structures and sources,” Hu says.


This work was supported by the Maryland NanoCenter.


About the University of Maryland

The University of Maryland, College Park is the state's flagship university and one of the nation's preeminent public research universities. A global leader in research, entrepreneurship and innovation, the university is home to more than 40,000 students, 10,000 faculty and staff, and 280 academic programs. Its faculty includes two Nobel laureates, three Pulitzer Prize winners, 60 members of the national academies and scores of Fulbright scholars. The institution has a $1.9 billion operating budget and secures $514 million annually in external research funding. For more information about the University of Maryland, College Park, visit www.umd.edu.




UMD Earns Top 20 Ranking as Peace Corps Volunteer Producer

March 1, 2018

Jennifer Burroughs, 301-405-4621

COLLEGE PARK, Md. -- The University of Maryland has been named a top Peace Corps volunteer-producing university for the seventh consecutive year. With 49 alumni currently volunteering worldwide, UMD ranks No. 16 on the list among large universities. Additionally, the state of Maryland ranks No. 10 for top volunteer-producing states overall. 

1,269 UMD graduates have traveled abroad to serve as volunteers to date. The nations’ first “Do Good campus” is also a destination of choice for Returned Peace Corps Volunteers (RPCVs), whether to continue their education, or to pursue careers as members of UMD's faculty or professional staff. 

“The diversity of the University of Maryland, College Park was one of the main reasons I chose this school as my alma mater,” said current volunteer and alumna Cherisse Lewis. “There were students from all over and I actively participated in events that involved international or first generation students from many countries, in which Peace Corps volunteered and served. I have always had the urge to serve others and being an immigrant from Jamaica, adjusting to new cultures has always been an interest of mine. For that reason, I wanted to help those in need and those who want to experience interacting with an American,” 

This one of a kind service opportunity provides both tangible benefits and a life-defining leadership experience. Volunteers return from service as global citizens and receive support from the Peace Corps in the form of career services, graduate school opportunities, readjustment allowances, and loan deferment and cancellation opportunities. Since its inception in 1961, the agency has sent more than 230,000 Americans to serve in 141 countries worldwide. 

The Peace Corps ranks its top volunteer-producing colleges and universities annually according to the size of the student body. View the complete 2018 rankings of the top schools in each category here and find an interactive map that shows where alumni from each college are serving here.



University of Maryland Announces Energy Savings Project at IBBR Shady Grove Facility

February 28, 2018

Andrew Muir, 301-405-7068

COLLEGE PARK, Md. -- The University of Maryland announces a new energy savings project at the Institute for Bioscience & Biotechnology Research (IBBR) in Shady Grove. The project is designed to substantially improve the material condition of IBBR’s mechanical systems while subsequently reducing the energy and water consumption and greenhouse gas emissions of the facility. 

Through modifications and targeted replacement of key HVAC, lighting and process control equipment with more efficient systems and components, this project will effectively reduce energy consumption and greenhouse gas emissions by 29% and save approximately $379,000 per year in energy and operational costs.  

The project is a partnership facilitated by IBBR, the Maryland Clean Energy Center (MCEC) and the UMD Department of Engineering & Energy.  The Maryland Energy Administration (MEA) provided $79,000 in grants to construct a mini Combined Heat and Power Plant as part of the project.

“This is an exciting project because the Maryland Energy Administration has indicated that this will be the first small scale, commercial application of a micro Combined Heat and Power Plant constructed in the state of Maryland,” said Jim Johnson, Director, Institute for Bioscience & Biotechnology Research (IBBR) Facilities and Lab Services. “A successful outcome would provide a model for other small commercial applications across the State and help demonstrate how University of Maryland is leading the way.”

Scheduled to be complete by the spring of 2019, the $6,209,084 project will align the IBBR facility with the University President’s Energy Initiatives by 2020.

“This energy performance contract project will not only improve the efficiency at our IBBR facility but will also expand the use of demand-management measures to generate additional revenues for the facility via the installation of a mini Combined Heat and Power Plant,” said Mary-Ann Ibeziako, Director of Engineering & Energy.

The university will enter into a shared energy savings agreement and loan agreement with MCEC, who will enter into an energy performance contract with Siemens. The full energy performance contract has a 15-year performance period following a twelve-month construction period. 

“MCEC is excited to help facilitate the financing and development of another university energy efficiency project,” said Wyatt Shiflett, Director of Finance Programs, Maryland Clean Energy Center.  “Leveraging various financial resources, like grant funding from the Maryland Energy Administration, utility rebates and loan financing, were instrumental in developing a project that not only assists the university in meeting its sustainability goals but also makes great business sense.”

For more information, about University of Maryland sustainable energy efforts: sustainability.umd.edu/campus/energy

UMD Continues Action Plan to Shape a More Welcoming and Inclusive Campus

February 27, 2018

Katie Lawson, 301-405-4622

COLLEGE PARK, Md. - The University of Maryland released a video today with updates on its ongoing action plan to shape a more welcoming and inclusive campus. 

UMD is committed to creating a campus free from hate, one where our community feels physically safe and safe to be who they are. The university has undertaken many actions to accomplish these goals, and significant work is still underway.


Additional information on the university’s actions include:

  • Partnered with the Anti-Defamation League on trainings for the President’s Cabinet, Deans and university leadership. 
  • Established and charged the Joint President/Senate Inclusion & Respect Task Force to consider how best to nurture a climate that is more respectful and inclusive of all members of our campus community, stands against hate, and reaffirms the values that define us a University. The task force plans to report its findings in April 2018. 
  • Developed a streamlined protocol for hate-bias incident response that will ensure a coordinated response, provide support to impacted community members and ensure transparency with the campus community. In addition, UMD is in the process of forming a Hate-Bias Response Team to assist victims of hate and bias on campus, and hiring a Hate-Bias Response Program Manager in the Office of Diversity & Inclusion. 
  • Implemented a university-wide survey on campus climate to help us better understand the experiences of students, faculty, staff, and administrators on our campus with respect to diversity, inclusion, equity, hate, bias, well-being, and belongingness. We will use the findings from this research to help inform and shape policies and practices that promote a safe and welcoming campus. 
  • Developed an “African-American History and the University of Maryland: A Campus Landmark Tour” that focuses on the historic and contemporary presence and contributions of African Americans to the physical and social infrastructure of the university. The walking tour is grounded in the history of the institution and the State of Maryland - conveying the complexity of racial politics and slavery as it has impacted the state's flagship institution. 
  • Established a UMD Student Leadership Council for Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion to help focus and improve collaboration between students and administration. 
  • Completed mandatory training in implicit racial bias for the entire force of 100+ sworn UMPD officers and installed additional surveillance cameras in and around campus buildings. 

The University of Maryland Police Department (UMPD) has 100 police and auxiliary officers serving our community:

  • We have over 400 cameras on and off campus that are monitored 24 hours a day, 365 days a year.  
  • There are more than 300 blue light phones on our campus where the caller will be put in direct contact with a UMPD dispatcher. 
  • We offer walking safety escorts that can be requested at any time of the day, year-round.  
  • The UMD Guardian Safety App serves as virtual walking escort service, automatically contacting UMPD if you do not arrive at your expected destination.   

For more information on UMD’s work on these important issues, visit https://umd.edu/weareumd.


UMD Admissions Statement on Participation in Nonviolent Protests

February 26, 2018

Jessica Jennings, 301-405-4618

The University of Maryland's Office of Undergraduate Admissions announced today: 
"We recognize that students benefit from civic discourse and dialogue.  Non-academic disciplinary action from high school will not affect a student’s admission to the University of Maryland if they are engaged in peaceful and respectful protest."

UMD Statement on UMPD Charges Announced Today

February 26, 2018

Katie Lawson, 301-405-4622

Statement from university spokesperson Katie Lawson:

This is a story of "if you see something, say something," and we are grateful for any reported information that helps keep our UMPD police officers safe. 

This individual has been issued a denial of access to campus.

UMPD's news release is available at go.umd.edu/fiy

University of Maryland Named a Fulbright Program Top Producing Institution

February 22, 2018

Jennifer Burroughs, 301-405-4621

COLLEGE PARK, Md. -- The University of Maryland has been recognized as a top producer of Fulbright U.S. Students and Scholars by the U.S. Department of State’s Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs. Listed among research institutions, UMD is one of only 16 schools to be represented in both categories. In addition, the university is also the top producer of Fulbright scholars in the state.

For the 2017-2018 academic year, eleven students and alumni accepted Fulbright student grants to travel across the globe to conduct research and/or teach english abroad for individually designed projects; and seven scholars, faculty & staff members were selected to conduct research, lecture, and/or consult with other scholars and institutions abroad through a variety of international program awards. 

Read more about UMD’s Fulbright winners

Each year, the Fulbright Program awards approximately 8,000 grants annually. Roughly 1,900 U.S. students, 4,000 foreign students, 1,200 U.S. scholars, and 900 visiting scholars receive awards, in addition to several hundred teachers and professionals. More than 380,000 "Fulbrighters" from over 160 countries have participated in the program since its inception in 1946.

The top Fulbright-producing institutions are highlighted in the Feb. 18 online edition of The Chronicle of Higher Education



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