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Researchers Propose Social Network Modeling to Fight Hospital Infections

October 22, 2013

Sean Barnes 301-405-9679

COLLEGE PARK, Md. – Two researchers at the University of Maryland’s Robert H. Smith School of Business have teamed up with a researcher at American University to develop a framework to help prevent costly and deadly infections acquired by hospitalized patients. According to the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), these transmissions strike one out of every 20 inpatients, drain billions of dollars from the national health care system and cause tens of thousands of deaths annually.

The research of Sean Barnes, Smith School assistant professor of operations management; Bruce Golden, the Smith School's France-Merrick Chair in Management Science; and Edward Wasil of American's Kogod School of Business, utilized computer models that simulate the interactions between patients and health care workers to determine if these interactions are a source for spreading multi-drug resistant organisms (MDROs). Their study shows a correlation of a “sparse, social network structure” with low infection transmission rates.

In these illustrations of dense (left) and sparse (right) patient ICU social networks, patients that share a nurse are connected by a link, while patients that share a physician have the same color.

In these illustrations of dense (left) and sparse (right) patient ICU social networks, patients that share a nurse are connected by a link, while patients that share a physician have the same color (black/grey).

This study comes in advance of HHS’ 2015 launch and enforcement of a new initiative that penalizes hospitals at an estimated average rate of $208,642 for violating specific requirements for infection control. In response, the study’s authors have introduced a conceptual framework for hospitals to model their social networks to predict and minimize the spread of bacterial infections that often are resistant to antibiotic treatments.

The authors manipulated and tracked the dynamics of the social network in a mid-Atlantic hospital’s intensive care unit. They focused on interactions between patients and health care workers – primarily nurses – and the multiple competing factors that can affect transmission.

“The basic reality is that healthcare workers frequently cover for one another due to meetings, breaks and sick leave,” said Barnes. “These factors, along with the operating health care-worker-to-patient ratios and patient lengths of stay, can significantly affect transmission in an ICU… But they also can be better controlled.”

The next step is to enable hospitals to adapt this framework, which is based on maximizing staff-to-patient ratio to ensure fewer nurses and physicians come in contact with each patient, especially high-risk patients.

"The health care industry's electronic records movement could soon generate data that captures the structure of patient-healthcare worker interaction in addition to multiple competing, related factors that can affect MDRO transmission,” said Barnes.

The study, “Exploring the Effects of Network Structure and Healthcare Worker Behavior on the Transmission of Hospital-Acquired Infections,” appears in a recent issue of the peer-reviewed IIE Transactions on Healthcare Systems Engineering. The study was partially funded by the Robert H. Smith School of Business Center for Health Information and Decision Systems.

A full copy of the study is available at:

Villagers' Land Uses Help People and Tigers in Nepal

October 21, 2013

Melissa Andreychek 412-680-1277

COLLEGE PARK, Md. – Hopeful signs that humans and tigers can coexist are emerging in rural Nepal, where the government has committed to doubling populations of the critically endangered big cat by 2022. A new study by conservation scientist Neil Carter, a postdoctoral research fellow at the National Socio-Environmental Synthesis Center (SESYNC) at the University of Maryland, provides evidence that when Nepalese villagers are empowered to make some local land management decisions, the resulting landscape changes can benefit both people and tigers.

TigerFew wildlife species face more potential conflicts with humankind than tigers, which require large areas for hunting and raising their young, and inhabit some of the most densely populated regions of the world. Worldwide tiger populations have plummeted, from an estimated 100,000 worldwide at the beginning of the 20th century to perhaps as few as 3,000 remaining in the wild.

Carter studies the interactions between humans and tigers in Nepal's Chitwan National Park and its environs. In the latest research, Carter and his colleagues showed that in areas near the national park border where local people were permitted to harvest some of the natural resources they needed, such as timber and grass, the amount of tigers' preferred type of habitat increased. Within the park, where local resource harvests are prohibited, the amount of highly suitable habitat for tigers declined - perhaps due to illegal harvests.

A scientific paper based on the research, which Carter led while working on his doctoral degree at Michigan State University, was published online October 18 in the journal Ecosphere.

Chitwan National Park was established in 1973 to protect tigers and other keystones of the area's biodiversity, but it has had significant costs for people living in the area. Residents depend on the forest for wood as fuel and building material, and rely on local grasses to thatch roofs and feed their livestock. The policies governing the park are top-down, with little input from residents, Carter said. Recognizing the potential for resource conflicts, in 1996 the Nepalese government added a buffer zone next to the park, where people have more access to the forest's resources and more say in its management.

Camera Trap Photo"Many animals have their ranges extending outside of protected areas," Carter said. "They don't know and they don't care where the border signs are. So areas outside protected areas are important as well."
To find out how the creation and management of the buffer zones affected tigers, the researchers used camera traps – motion-sensitive cameras mounted along animal trails – that snapped photos of 17 different adult tigers at sites inside the park and in the buffer zone.

They also used satellite imagery to develop detailed maps of the local land cover, including forests, grasslands, and bare ground. By superimposing their photographic evidence of tiger movements onto the land cover maps, the researchers showed that tigers have a distinct preference for grasslands near water, which flow unbroken into nearby swaths of forest or grassy cover. That's probably because the grasslands and water attract animals for tigers to prey on, the grasses conceal them while they hunt, and the connected patches of habitat accommodate the big cats' need for relatively large home territories.  

Finally, the researchers used satellite photos taken between 1989 and 2009 to track changes in land cover inside and outside the park, and compare it to the habitat that tigers prefer.  Throughout that 20-year span, they found, the park offered more habitat suitable for tigers than the buffer lands did. But the amount of good tiger habitat in the park declined between 1999 and 2009.

Meanwhile tiger habitat outside the park took a turn for the better. From 1989 to 1999, tiger habitat suitability outside the park was relatively constant. But from 1999 to 2009, the suitability of tiger habitat increased in the area between human settlements and the park boundary. The tiger habitat gains happened after the buffer zone was created and local people gained some control over land uses outside the park, the researchers noted.   

Sue Nichols, Michigan State University Center for Systems Integration and Sustainability "In Nepal, we're finding that there is this middle ground where you can have people using the land and still not only keep land from degrading, but can improve habitat quality," said Carter.  "Policies in Chitwan's buffer zone, such as prohibiting livestock from freely grazing in the forests and community-based forest management, improved habitat quality."

In July 2013, the Nepalese government announced the nation's tiger population had jumped 63 percent in four years, with an estimated 198 tigers now living in the wild – many of them in and around Chitwan National Park.  The government cited habitat improvements and a decline in poaching as possible reasons for the apparent population increase.

"Park managers are doing a tremendous job of conserving tigers and their habitat in the face of relentless pressure from the human population," agreed Carter, who has worked in the area since 2008.  By helping to meet villagers' urgent need for basic resources, the buffer zones make park managers' daunting task more achievable, he said.

As Nepal and other countries work to pull tigers back from the brink of extinction, the study "provides a relatively straightforward way to measure how humans affect endangered animals' habitat across space and through time," said Carter. "The next step is to model how tiger habitat and human livelihood strategies will interact and change in the future under different conservation policy scenarios. I'm working closely with computation staff to develop this complex model."

Carter's co-authors included Jianguo Liu, director of Michigan State University's Center for Systems Integration and Sustainability; Michigan State University faculty members Andrés Viña and Henry Campa; Bhim Gurung of the Nepal Tiger Trust in Chitwan; and Jhamak Karki of Nepal's Department of National Parks and Wildlife Conservation.

The National Science Foundation, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service Rhinoceros and Tiger Conservation Fund, NASA's Earth and Space Science program, and Michigan State University's AgBioResearch funded the research.

The National Socio-Environmental Synthesis Center—funded through a National Science Foundation grant to the University of Maryland—is an Annapolis, MD-based research center dedicated to solving complex problems at the intersection of human and natural systems. For more information, visit

UMD Book Named 'Must Read' Before Graduation

October 18, 2013

Alana Carchedi 301-405-0235

Leadership for a Better WorldCOLLEGE PARK, Md. – A book by University of Maryland faculty and students has recently been recognized as one of the top 10 books every student must read before graduation. The list, compiled by students at the University of Alberta, was recently featured in The Huffington Post.

The UMD book, "Leadership for a Better World," was edited by Susan Komives, professor emerita in UMD's College of Education, and Wendy Wagner, former graduate coordinator for UMD's National Clearinghouse for Leadership Programs and current professor at George Mason University. The chapters were primarily written by graduate students at UMD.

The book is focused on the Social Change Model of Leadership Development, which provides a framework to integrate self, collaboration with others, and a responsibility for civic engagement to accomplish meaningful positive change.

"No student textbook existed on this topic until a Maryland class of graduate student leadership educators took on writing this text," says Komives. "Stories of college students who have made a difference on their campuses, in their communities, and in the world are embedded in every chapter of the book. Students learn that they and their peers can make change now when working collaboratively together toward a shared vision."

"Popular culture depicts leadership as something that only bold, charismatic, commanding personalities do," says Wagner. "However, leadership today is understood to be a process that people engage in from many points within an organization, through many approaches and personal styles. When I have used the book to teach leadership courses, the most common reaction is surprise that leadership and social change are processes that anyone can learn to do, and that they can begin taking action on the issues they care about right away."

The UMD book is cited as being on the list, "because we all want to have an impact and hopefully that impact will be a positive one. This book will help to show you how you can become an agent for social change while still pursuing your studies."

To view the full list, visit

UMD Researchers Address Economic Dangers of 'Peak Oil'

October 16, 2013

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

COLLEGE PARK, Md. - Researchers from the University of Maryland and a leading university in Spain demonstrate in a new study which sectors could put the entire U.S. economy at risk when global oil production peaks ("Peak Oil"). This multi-disciplinary team recommends immediate action by government, private and commercial sectors to reduce the vulnerability of these sectors. 

While critics of Peak Oil studies declare that the world has more than enough oil to maintain current national and global standards, these UMD-led researchers say Peak Oil is imminent, if not already here—and is a real threat to national and global economies. Their study is among the first to outline a way of assessing the vulnerabilities of specific economic sectors to this threat, and to identify focal points for action that could strengthen the U.S. economy and make it less vulnerable to disasters.

Their work, "Economic Vulnerability to Peak Oil," appears in Global Environmental Change. The paper is co-authored by Christina Prell, UMD's Department of Sociology; Kuishuang Feng and Klaus Hubacek, UMD's Department of Geographical Sciences, and Christian Kerschner, Institut de Ciència i Tecnologia Ambientals, Universitat Autònoma de Barcelona. Read the article.

A focus on Peak Oil is increasingly gaining attention in both scientific and policy discourses, especially due to its apparent imminence and potential dangers. However, until now, little has been known about how this phenomenon will impact economies. In their paper, the research team constructs a vulnerability map of the U.S. economy, combining two approaches for analyzing economic systems. Their approach reveals the relative importance of individual economic sectors, and how vulnerable these are to oil price shocks. This dual-analysis helps identify which sectors could put the entire U.S. economy at risk from Peak Oil. For the United States, such sectors would include iron mills, chemical and plastic products manufacturing, fertilizer production and air transport.

Peak Oil

The figure above shows sectors’ importance and vulnerability to Peak Oil. The bubbles represent sectors. The size of the bubbles visualizes the vulnerability of a particular sector to Peak Oil according to the expected price changes; the larger the size of the bubble, the more vulnerable the sector is considered to be. The X axis shows a sector’s importance according to its contribution to GDP and on the Y axis according to its structural role. Hence, the larger bubbles in the top right corner represent highly vulnerable and highly important sectors. In the case of Peak Oil induced supply disruptions, these sectors could cause severe imbalances for the entire U.S. economy. [Click here for high-res]

"Our findings provide early warnings to these and related industries about potential trouble in their supply chain," UMD Professor Hubacek said. "Our aim is to inform and engage government, public and private industry leaders, and to provide a tool for effective Peak Oil policy action planning."

Although the team's analysis is embedded in a Peak Oil narrative, it can be used more broadly to develop a climate roadmap for a low carbon economy.

"In this paper, we analyze the vulnerability of the U.S. economy, which is the biggest consumer of oil and oil-based products in the world, and thus provides a good example of an economic system with high resource dependence. However, the notable advantage of our approach is that it does not depend on the Peak-Oil-vulnerability narrative but is equally useful in a climate change context, for designing policies to reduce carbon dioxide emissions. In that case, one could easily include other fossil fuels such as coal in the model and results could help policy makers to identify which sectors can be controlled and/or managed for a maximum, low-carbon effect, without destabilizing the economy," Professor Hubacek said.

One of the main ways a Peak Oil vulnerable industry can become less so, the authors say, is for that sector to reduce the structural and financial importance of oil. For example, Hubacek and colleagues note that one approach to reducing the importance of oil to agriculture could be to curbing the strong dependence on artificial fertilizers by promoting organic farming techniques and/or reducing the overall distance travelled by people and goods by fostering local, decentralized food economies.

Peak Oil Background and Impact
The Peak Oil dialogue shifts attention away from discourses on "oil depletion" and "stocks" to focus on declining production rates (flows) of oil, and increasing costs of production. The maximum possible daily flow rate (with a given technology) is what eventually determines the peak; thus, the concept can also be useful in the context of other renewable resources.

Improvements in extraction and refining technologies can influence flows, but this tends to lead to steeper decline curves after the peak is eventually reached. Such steep decline curves have also been observed for shale gas wells.

"Shale developments are, so we believe, largely overrated, because of the huge amounts of financial resources that went into them (danger of bubble) and because of their apparent steep decline rates (shale wells tend to peak fast)," according to Dr. Kerschner. 

"One important implication of this dialogue shift is that extraction peaks occur much earlier in time than the actual depletion of resources," Professor Hubacek said. "In other words, Peak Oil is currently predicted within the next decade by many, whereas complete oil depletion will in fact occur never given increasing prices. This means that eventually petroleum products may be sold in liter bottles in pharmacies like in the old days. "

Robo Raven III Harnesses Solar Power

October 14, 2013

Jennifer Rooks 301-405-1458
Rebecca Copeland 301-405-6602

COLLEGE PARK, Md. – University of Maryland engineering professors S.K. Gupta and Hugh Bruck and their students in the Maryland Robotics Center have developed and demonstrated a new version of the Robo Raven micro air vehicle (MAV) that incorporates solar panels in its wings.

While the solar panels don't produce enough energy to power Robo Raven III in flight (they produce around 3.6 Watts while Robo Raven needs around 30 Watts to fly), they are effective in charging the MAV's batteries when it is stationary.

In his blog, Gupta notes that the development team envisions Robo Raven flying "far away from civilizations" during long missions and needing "a way to 'feed' itself" on its journeys.

Because Robo Raven's large wings have enough surface area to create a usable amount of solar energy, the team decided to incorporate flexible solar cells into them. The captured solar energy is then used to supply Robo Raven's onboard batteries. "These new multi-functional wings will shape the future of robotic birds by enabling them to fly longer, farther, and more independently because they will be getting their power from the sun" says ME Ph.D. student Luke Roberts, a member of the Robo Raven team.

The underlying material of the flexible solar panels is different from that used in the previous version of Robo Raven. That meant the team needed to design new wings and develop a new additive manufacturing process to fabricate them, Gupta says.

The Robo Raven III team (L-R) S.K. Gupta, Luke Roberts, Ariel Perez-Rosado and Hugh Bruck. "We still need to make significant improvements in solar cell efficiency and battery energy density to replicate the endurance of real ravens in Robo Raven III," Gupta says, "but the good news is that Robo Raven III has already demonstrated we can fly with a solar cell and battery combination. Now that we've successfully taken this step, swapping new technologies that are more efficient should be relatively simple."

Gupta has been working on flapping-wing robotic birds for the better part of a decade. His team first successfully demonstrated a flapping-wing bird in 2007. This spring the group introduced Robo Raven, the first flapping-wing MAV with independently flapping, programmable wings.


Robo Raven III

New Director to Grow Regulatory Science Initiative

October 11, 2013

Ted Knight 301-405-3596

Dr. Lex SchultheisCOLLEGE PARK, Md. – The University of Maryland has announced the appointment of Dr. Lex Schultheis as director of UMD’s new Regulatory Science and Innovation Initiative. In this new role, which begins on Nov. 4, Schultheis will grow the regulatory science initiative at the university in partnership with the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA).

Through this new initiative, UMD researchers are helping to make Americans safer by developing innovative, science-based processes to improve consumer safety and streamline government regulations.

Regulatory Science and Innovation Initiative at UMD
Many of UMD’s programs – including those in engineering; agriculture and natural resources; computer science; mathematics and natural sciences; public health; and public policy – have great relevance to the current challenges that the FDA faces in transforming itself into a “science based, science led” regulatory agency. 

UMD is a partner in the Joint Institute for Food Safety and Nutrition (JIFSAN), a public and private partnership housed near the College Park metro that provides the scientific basis for ensuring a safe food supply and infrastructure for national food safety programs and international food standards. UMD has also been awarded a Center for Excellence in Regulatory Science and Innovation (CERSI) by the FDA in partnership with the University of Maryland, Baltimore (UMB) in an effort to develop new tools, standards and approaches to assess the safety, efficacy, quality and performance of FDA-regulated drugs and medical devices. The CERSI co-director is Professor William Bentley, chair of the Fischell Bioengineering Department. In addition to these initiatives, individual scientists and engineers at FDA and UMD have a long history of working together collaboratively, taking advantage of each other’s expertise and resources.

The mission of the Regulatory Science and Innovation Initiative is to link these activities and foster new connections for each within the FDA. Also, the Initiative will foster further development of research and education programs in partnership with the FDA. As director, Schultheis will plan and grow all facets of the Initiative’s operations, including the development of new applications, products, academic programs, and collaborations between faculty, researchers, students, corporate partners and government agencies.

About Lex Schultheis
Born and raised in Maryland, Dr. Lex Schultheis has made the state his home for most of his life. His undergraduate and Ph.D. training in bioengineering at Johns Hopkins University focused on studies of adaptive control systems and signal processing in the brain. While in graduate school, he attended clinical rounds and observed patients whose illnesses could only be explained by mathematical models. In medical school at the University of Pennsylvania, his interests in modeling physiology expanded to studies of artificial environments, such as patients under anesthesia and humans in space flight.

Dr. Schultheis completed a residency in anesthesiology with a clinical fellowship caring for cardiac surgical patients at Johns Hopkins. He has more than twenty years of experience as an active physician, including direction of a subspecialty division of cardiac anesthesiologists and chairman of a Department of Anesthesiology at the Washington Hospital Center.  Dr. Schultheis has also been a principal investigator for NASA. 

Most recently, Dr. Schultheis has been an expert medical officer in the Center for Drug Evaluation and Research, and branch chief in the FDA Center for Devices and Radiation Health where he reviews anesthesia and respiratory medical technology. His team was awarded four Critical Path grants from FDA. Nominated by his team, Dr. Schultheis received the 2013 John Villforth Leadership Award in engineering by the Commissioned Corps of the US Public Health Service.

UMD-Led, NSF-Funded DC Innovation Corps Kicks Off

October 10, 2013

Eric Schurr 301-405-3889
Lee Tune 301-405-4679

COLLEGE PARK, Md. — A seven-week program aimed at translating the region's powerful research prowess into successful startups and licensed technologies kicks off this week.  Jointly run by the University of Maryland, the George Washington University, and Virginia Tech, and sponsored by the National Science Foundation (NSF), the DC Innovation Corps (I-Corps) program provides real world, hands-on training on how to turn discoveries and innovations into successful products and companies. The ultimate goal is to help build a culture of innovation for the region that rivals that of any in the world.

A seven-week program aimed at translating the region's powerful research prowess into successful startups and licensed technologies kicks off this week. The program launches with a diverse first cohort of 20 teams, including institutional teams from the University of Maryland, Children's National Medical Center, Johns Hopkins University, the George Washington University, Virginia Tech and George Mason University, and company teams from startups drawn from regional tech incubators: UMD’s Maryland Technology Enterprise Institute (Mtech), the Emerging Technology Center and bwtech@UMBC.

DC I-Corps guides entrepreneurial teams through an intense, seven-week program based upon the Silicon Valley-tested Lean Startup Model, which is designed to greatly improve the 25 percent success rate that is the average for all startups. Rather than using the traditional new venture approach of executing a business plan, operating in stealth mode, and releasing fully functional prototypes, the Lean Start-up Model teaches young ventures to test hypotheses, gather early and frequent customer feedback, and develop and show products that target ideal, early-adopter customers.

"Nothing lays a better foundation and prepares startups for the rapid change and challenges of the 21st century than the Lean Startup Model," said DC I-Corps Director Edmund Pendleton, who also directs UMD’s Mtech VentureAccelerator. "We believe that combining this methodology with the research churning from world-class universities and federal laboratories in this region is the equivalent of releasing lightning from a bottle. Great companies that bolster the region's economy and bring important products into our lives are bound to emerge."

Teams selected for DC I-Corps, segmented by institution, with brief descriptions of the technologies they are developing and the team entrepreneurial lead can be found here.

"I have to tell you how thankful I am for the I-Corps experience," said Len Annetta, a professor of science education at George Mason University and participant in the DC I-Corps. "The last three days sprung me from my professorship comfort zone, and I have learned more in those last three days than I have in the last 10 years."

The DC I-Corps focuses on innovations coming from engineering fields, medical/health/life sciences, and physical and computer sciences. The program builds upon the successful NSF I-Corps initiative, but expands its scope to cover researchers and technologists with no prior NSF affiliation or support.

DC I-Corps is part of a national network of five nodes across the country selected by NSF with additional nodes in Silicon Valley, New York, Atlanta, and Ann Arbor.
More than 200 teams have gone through the I-Corps program; that number is expected to hit 300 by Spring 2014. I-Corps teams completing the program and applying for NSF SBIR Phase I grants have seen a 60 percent award rate compared to a historical one in six average. Poor market and commercialization understanding are cited as the most common reason for rejection. 

An additional DC I-Corps cohort customized for National Institutes of Health (NIH) researchers will commence on November 4 on the NIH campus in conjunction with the NIH Office of Technology Transfer and BioHealth Innovation Inc. (BHI).

DC I-Corps is led by the University of Maryland's Academy for Innovation and Entrepreneurship and the Maryland Technology Enterprise Institute (Mtech) in the Clark School of Engineering with additional support from these University of Maryland partners: Dingman Center for Entrepreneurship in the Smith School of BusinessUM VenturesMaryland Innovation Initiative, and Maryland Intellectual Property Legal Resource Center.


UMD Higgs Hunters Celebrate Nobel Prize in Physics

October 8, 2013

Lee Tune, 301-405-4679
Heather Dewar, 301-405-9267

COLLEGE PARK, Md. - The Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences today awarded the Nobel Prize in Physics 2013 to François Englert and Peter Higgs to recognize their work developing the theory of what is now known as the Higgs field, which scientists say gives mass to subatomic and atomic particles, thus making possible the universe and everything in it. The Nobel Committee noted that the ideas of Englert and Higgs "were confirmed by the discovery of a so called Higgs particle at the CERN laboratory outside Geneva in Switzerland."

University of Maryland scientists played a significant role in the world-wide scientific collaboration that discovered this particle in 2012, when two multi-national research teams generated and detected the long-sought Higgs, or Higgs boson, which scientists say confirms the theory of the Higgs field, an invisible energy plane that exists throughout the universe.

"It is fitting that the Nobel Committee has recognized these theorists," said University of Maryland Physics Professor Nicholas Hadley, chair of the U.S. collaboration board for one of the two experimental teams. "And it is an honor that I and 21 other UMD scientists have been part of the historic international particle accelerator experiments that proved them correct. I congratulate the winners, the particle physics community, and my Maryland colleagues."

Englert and Higgs and colleagues first proposed the existence of the Higgs field in three scientific papers published in 1964. A key concept held that as particles pass through the Higgs field, they interact with a fundamental particle, the Higgs boson, that endows them with mass. Without mass, particles would not be attracted to one another, and would simply float freely around the universe at light speed.

To test the theory, researchers worked for decades to plan and conduct experiments at the world's largest particle accelerator, the Large Hadron Collider at CERN near Geneva, Switzerland. On July 4, 2012, members of the two teams, known by the acronyms ATLAS and CMS, announced that they had independently found a subatomic particle that fit the criteria for the Higgs boson.

"Without some kind of Higgs-like field, there really wouldn't be a universe at all," said Hadley. "Because the particles would have no mass, and if everything were massless, there wouldn't be atoms, there wouldn't be planets, there wouldn't be stars and there wouldn't be people. The great question has been did Higgs, Englert and colleagues get it right with their particular model? And now it appears the answer is yes."

UMD's 22 scientists are among nearly 1,300 U.S. researchers from 89 U.S. universities and seven U.S. Department of Energy laboratories who participate in the two ongoing Large Hadron Collider experiments. Maryland's team helped to build the CMS particle detector and analyzed the masses of data - many times greater than the contents of all the books in the Library of Congress - generated by the experiment, thus helping to confirm the discovery of the Higgs boson particle.

"To find the Higgs boson, we used a collider to smash together protons traveling just a gnat's eyebrow below the speed of light," said UMD Physics Professor and Chair Andrew Baden. "We reconstructed these tremendously high-energy collisions, which recreate the conditions that existed when the universe was about one-billionth of a second old, and tried to find evidence of a new particle, a Higgs boson. And we found it."

The majority of U.S. scientists participating in Large Hadron Collider experiments do so from their home institutions, remotely accessing and analyzing data through high-capacity networks and grid computing. The United States plays an important role in this distributed computing system, providing 23 percent of the computing power for ATLAS and 40 percent for CMS. Maryland's researchers also helped to build the very high speed electronics transmitting data for CMS.

Students Take Top Prize for Intelligent Trashcan

October 7, 2013

Carrie Hilmer 301-405-4471

COLLEGE PARK, Md. – University of Maryland electrical and computer engineering students Andres Toro, Zachary Lawrence and Joshua Drubin took home all the marbles at the Fall 2013 MHacks competition, which took place at the University of Michigan.

The team won first prize for building an intelligent trash can that sorts recyclables from garbage, at the world's largest college hackathon. MHacks drew 1,214 participants from 100 schools around the country for 36 hours of building innovative projects from scratch.

Toro, Lawrence and Drubin built a single-stream receptacle bin with a swing top that pivots in a different direction based on measuring the frequency of the sound an object makes when it hits the receptacle. Cans and bottles that create a "ping" end up on one side of a partition, and items like plastic foam cups that generate a "thud" go on the other.

UMD MHacks TeamThe Maryland team was one of only a few to build a physical object rather than an app or web tool. "I never dreamed of coming here and actually winning," Drubin said. "It feels unbelievable" — even on six hours sleep total for the past two nights.

Drubin added, "Participating in MHacks has made me value my education in ECE much more than pre-hackathon. We ended up applying concepts that we've learned in foundation classes such as digital logic and physics in a very real and hands-on way, which is extremely rewarding, and fun."

Fight against Hunger Heads to UMD

October 3, 2013

Sara Gavin 301-405-9235

COLLEGE PARK, Md. - University of Maryland students in the College of Agriculture and Natural Resources (AGNR) are helping to stop the world's number one killer – hunger. With the global population projected to expand to 9 billion people by 2050, it will be up to the leaders of tomorrow – students here at the University of Maryland – to create innovative, sustainable solutions that meet the challenge of feeding our world.

HungerUThe College of AGNR is teaming up with HungerU to host the HungerU Tour on the College Park campus October 7 and 8, 2013. HungerU is a special project of the Farm Journal Foundation's Farmers Feeding the World effort that enlists students to join in the conversation about global hunger issues and the essential role modern agriculture has to play in solving them. The HungerU Tour travels to university campuses across the country, raising awareness among students about the devastating impact of hunger, while empowering them to take action in their own communities.

"The College of Agriculture and Natural Resources is excited to form this partnership with HungerU and to broaden the discussion on campus about how to get involved in solving the world food crisis," says AGNR Dean Cheng-i Wei, Ph.D. "Global hunger is an issue many faculty and students in our College are studying and discussing on a daily basis but it's a problem we all need to pay more attention to and work together to overcome."

HungerU's mobile education classroom, which features a mobile education exhibit with digital displays and interactive kiosks, will be outside Cole Field House (at the Farmers' Market location) from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. on October 7 and 8. This mobile classroom is designed as a space for discussion and engagement on global food and hunger issues and the critical role modern agriculture must play in solving them. Stop by and join the conversation, become empowered and be a part of the solution about how to meet the world's growing demand for safe, nutritious and affordable food.

Click here for more information.


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