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Winners Saw 'No Limits' in Pitch Competition

March 14, 2013

Carrie Handwerker 301-405-5833
Greg Muraski 301-405-5283

No Limits Social Impact Pitch CompetitionCOLLEGE PARK, Md. – Competition was so close among University of Maryland student social entrepreneurs in the recent No Limits Social Impact Pitch Competition that the judges awarded two top winners.

The competition was part of the Social Enterprise Symposium, a daylong affair on March 1 that explored the role of business in social and environmental change, hosted by the Center for Social Value Creation at the University of Maryland’s Robert H. Smith School of Business.

School fitness program KidFit and international mobile money transfer service Payvius shared the first-place status, but not the prize money. In a surprising turn of events, the judges decided to pitch in additional money and award $3,000 top prizes to each company. KidFit also took home the audience-selected People’s Choice Award for $500. In addition to the cash prizes, the winners will also benefit from in-kind mentoring services from the Center for Social Value Creation’s entrepreneurship network including Ashoka, ThinkImpact and PunchRock.

Maggie CroushoreThe winners were among five UMD student finalists from schools and colleges across campus, from public policy to business to theater. The students pitched their ideas to improve their communities and the world before a panel of judges and a live audience. Each had six minutes to pitch their idea and four minutes to answer questions from judges. The competition capped off the content portion of the Center for Social Value Creation’s fifth annual symposium event, which attracted more than 1,000 students from across campus.

The “No Limits” finalists also represented UMD’s diverse student population passionate about social value creation and using business principles to create a better world – the main vision of the center.

Mondiu LadejobiMaggie Croushore, a master’s of public policy student, runs KidFit. She is currently working with schools to improve their active education (traditionally physical education and recess) delivery.

Mondiu Ladejobi, an executive MBA student, launched Payvius. The low-cost mobile money transfer service that enables secure international money transfers from a sender in the United Sates to any mobile phone in sub-Saharan Africa, and provides recipients with the opportunity to build credit in developing economies.

Competition judges were Jigar Shah, consultant, entrepreneur and author of "The Impact Economy;" Devin Schain, founder & CEO of Campus Direct Inc.; and Lisa Hall, president and CEO of Calvert Foundation, who also delivered the symposium’s afternoon keynote speech.

Other finalists in the competition were:

  • Microjusticia, a nonprofit offering pro bono legal services to NGOs in Argentina – run by Juan Bellocq (master’s of public policy, 2013)
  •, a website that connects local and family-owned tourism businesses with independent travelers – run by Cristina Huidobro (master’s of community planning, 2013)
  • ProCity, a network for donating unwanted items that benefits charities – run by Christopher Lane (undergraduate, majoring in psychology and theater, 2015)

The competition is led by the Center for Social Value Creation in partnership with the School of Public Policy’s Center for Philanthropy and Nonprofit Leadership, with support from the Smith School’s Dingman Center for Entrepreneurship.

No Limits Social Impact Pitch Competition Finalists

Diversity in the Sports Media: What Happened?

March 14, 2013

Dave Ottalini 301-405-1321

The Shirley Povich Center for Sports JournalismCOLLEGE PARK, Md. - Just how diverse is sports media? The Shirley Povich Center for Sports Journalism at the University of Maryland will hear from a wide variety of voices on this issue during a panel discussion Wednesday, March 27.

The 7 p.m. event at the Philip Merrill College of Journalism on campus features a panel of media professionals from national outlets and an academic from the University of Maryland.

The topics will range from the lack of minority sports editors, the dearth of women and minorities in the sports blogosphere and what can be done to make the sports page and media as a whole more diverse.

Panelists include David Aldridge, Mary Byrne, Keith Clinkscales, David L. Andrews and Kevin Lockland, and will be moderated by Kevin Blackistone.

David Aldridge cut his teeth at The Washington Post covering Georgetown, the Washington Bullets and the Washington Redskins before later working for the Philadelphia Inquirer and ESPN. He is now a reporter covering the NBA and MLB for Turner Television Networks.

Mary Byrne is the managing editor for sports at USA Today where she's been since April. Before USA Today, she was the deputy sports editor at the Associated Press.

Keith Clinkscales launched The Shadow League earlier this year. The site describes itself as "a site dedicated to presenting journalistically sound sports coverage with a cultural perspective that insightfully informs sports fans worldwide." Before The Shadow League, Clinkscales was the vice president for content at ESPN.

David L. Andrews is a professor in the Kinesiology Department at the University of Maryland whose research focuses on the relationship between sports practices and the broader social formations in which they are located.

Rounding out the panel is Kevin Lockland who is the Vice President of Editorial Operations at SB Nation and previously oversaw the day-to-day operations of AOL's sports initiatives.

The event in Knight Hall's Richard Eaton Auditorium is free and open to the public. For more information, please email or call 301-405-4605.

A Look into the Future of Quantum Computing

March 13, 2013

Lee Tune 301-405-4679

COLLEGE PARK, Md. - Discoveries by physicists and materials scientists at the University of Maryland and other leading institutions have the world on the verge of a new technological revolution in which the strange and unique properties of quantum physics become relevant and exploitable in the context of information science and technology.

Photograph of a surface trap that was fabricated by Sandia National Labs and used to trap ions at the University of Maryland-based Joint Quantum Institute JQI and at Duke.Recently, Science Magazine invited UMD Physics Professor Chris Monroe and Duke Professor Jungsang Kim to speculate on a pivotal research area in advancing this new age: the use of ion trap technology as a scalable option for quantum computing. Their article is highlighted on the cover of the March 8, 2013 issue with an image (right) that portrays a photograph of a surface trap that was fabricated by Sandia National Labs and used to trap ions at the University of Maryland-based Joint Quantum Institute JQI and at Duke.

Quantum computing promises to revolutionize the way that we do certain tasks, such as encrypting secret information and searching databases. The ion trap approach to this technology has historically led the field, with Monroe as a major player. His research group has five laboratories and focuses on using atomic qubits (information carriers) to do basic physics research and to develop scalable quantum computers.  In 2009, Monroe led a research team that for the first time successfully teleported information between two separate atoms in unconnected enclosures a meter apart - a significant milestone in the global quest for practical quantum information processing.

JQI is a research partnership between the National Institute of Standards and Technology and the University of Maryland Physics Department, with support from the Laboratory for Physical Sciences. Research at JQI covers all aspects of quantum computing research, from developing and testing hardware that may make up future devices to world-class theoreticians who hope to harness exotic particles for quantum computing. The strength that this institute offers is an interdisciplinary approach, which allows for cutting edge research to meet real-world applications.

The co-authors, Monroe and Kim are part of a larger collaboration called MUSIQC, which stands for Modular Universal Scalable Ion-trap Quantum Computer, and is supported by the Intelligence Advance Research Projects Activity (IARPA). This program focuses on building the components necessary for a practical quantum computer. The effort involves national labs, universities, and even private small businesses.

About the image
Trapped atomic ions are a promising architecture that satisfies many of the critical requirements for constructing a quantum computer. Ion traps themselves were invented more than a half-century ago, but researchers have implemented new technologies in order to execute quantum operations. Professionally micro-fabricated devices, like the one shown on the cover, resemble traditional computer components. Although quantum logic operations in such chip traps remain elusive, the obstacles are not prohibitive. In the US, researchers at institutions such as NIST (Boulder), Sandia National Labs, Georgia Tech Research Institute, JQI, Duke, MIT, and others are now, often collaboratively, fabricating and testing these technologies. (Permissions/Credit: JQI)

"Scaling the Ion Trap Quantum Processor," C. Monroe and J. Kim, Science, March 8, 2013

This news item was written by E. Edwards at JQI and edited for UMD Right Now. For more detailed information visit

UMD Creates Model Energy Course for U.S. Colleges

March 12, 2013

Neil Tickner 301-405-4622

Collaborative Initiative Seeks to Educate Students on Key Energy Issues

University of MarylandCOLLEGE PARK, Md. – To develop a new generation of energy-savvy leaders, University of Maryland experts have developed a new curriculum that federal officials and education leaders hope will be used at colleges around the country. A unique, interdisciplinary curriculum called 'Energy 101,' comprised of group projects and educational modules, is the result of the collaborative efforts of UMD, the Association of Public and Land-grant Universities (APLU), the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE), and the Environment and Energy Study Institute (EESI).  The new curriculum is designed to challenge college students across the country to systematically explore the science and social science issues behind sound energy decision-making and to teach them to apply those skills to workplace and personal decisions. 

A UMD course designed by faculty from the College of Education and the A. James Clark School of Engineering will be showcased as a model for a new national curriculum initiative designed to help address the array of energy challenges facing the country. The UMD pilot course, Designing a Sustainable World, was co-developed by Leigh Abts and Idalis Villanueva. When DOE unveils the national curriculum next month, the course will be highlighted as a case study on how other universities may align their Energy 101 version to a curricular framework based on standards.

"Designing a Sustainable World is intended to provide a general education experience where the students create a meaningful design to address a critical issue in energy and/or sustainability," explains Abts, a UMD research associate professor jointly appointed in the Fischell Department of Bioengineering and the Department of Teaching and Learning, Policy and Leadership. "The course encourages students to 'take a Leonardo Da Vinci approach,' to 'think out of the box' and apply basic design tools to map out and explore solutions. The students submit their design projects to an e-portfolio that will enable them to continue to build upon their designs well beyond the course, encouraging them to be life-long innovators."

Designing a Sustainable World is already being offered this semester at UMD, attracting 28 students from various disciplines, ranging from computer science to food science.

"Research has shown that innovative project-based courses exploring challenging, real-world problems, such as Designing a Sustainable World, help students to develop valuable research and critical thinking skills that are indispensable in today's knowledge-based economy," says Donna Wiseman, dean of the College of Education.  "This course also has the added benefit of exposing a diverse group of students to STEM fields through an interdisciplinary approach."

The 'Energy 101' model curriculum has been designed to be used at every college and university across the country.  It is an adaptable program that can meet the specific needs of diverse higher education institutions and their student populations.  Similar courses are already being developed, under the mentorship of Drs. Abts and Villanueva, at Cecil Community College and Harford Community College in Maryland.   

"The University of Maryland has always prided itself on unique course offerings and experiences for its undergraduate and graduate students," says Dr. Darryll Pines, dean of the Clark School of Engineering.  "The Colleges of Education, Engineering and Undergraduate Studies have been quite supportive of this activity.  We hope that the course will not only help give students foundational understanding of complex energy issues, but also serve as a guide to other colleges and universities as they implement the Energy 101 curriculum."

The 'Energy 101' model curriculum was born out of DOE's desire to introduce the next generation of college graduates to energy literacy, sustainability, and energy careers as freshmen.  Also, it has involved leaders in the movement to increase STEM interest with project-based learning, through the National Training and Educational Resource and other means, to make interdisciplinary immersive content available for all to use. 

"By exposing students both to how energy works and why people make the decisions they do, we hope the next generation will be much better energy stewards than we have been," says APLU's Senior Counsel for Innovation and Technology and Director of Energy Programs, Jim Turner.

The ‘Energy 101’ project’s collaborators will offer a webinar on April 10, 2013 for teachers, administrators, and other interested parties.  The webinar will describe the model framework and its use in the development of a pilot course now being taught at UMD that uses group projects, DOE’s Energy Literacy Principles, and educational modules to help students build a mental model for making informed energy choices.  There will also be an opportunity for webinar participants to ask questions at the end of the presentation. You can sign up for the webinar at

For more information on the 'Energy 101' model curriculum, please visit

Bias Blocks Women in Science

March 12, 2013

Waverly Ding, co-author and principal researcher
Greg Muraski 301-405-5283

Waverly DingCOLLEGE PARK, Md - Female professors are almost 50 percent less likely than their male counterparts to be invited to join corporate scientific advisory boards (SABs) and start new companies mainly because of gender stereotyping, says University of Maryland researcher Waverly Ding, an assistant professor of management at the Robert H. Smith School of Business.

Beliefs that women lack leadership and business savvy, and are not capable of helping new ventures attract investment, block their advancement in these areas, she says.

Ding, with co-authors Fiona Murray of MIT and Toby E. Stuart of University of California Berkley, draw this conclusion from survey data and related statistics from the biotech industry and 6,000 U.S. scientists whose careers span 30-plus years. The study, "From Bench to Board: Gender Differences in University Scientists' Participation in Corporate Scientific Advisory Boards," appears in a recent issue of Academy of Management Journal.

The study controlled for the scientists' professional accomplishments, social networks, employer characteristics and proxies for subject interest in commercial science.

"Women are available," says UMD's Ding. "The numbers are there. They just are not being selected." In the data sample's final year (2002), women comprised about 30 percent of about 6,000 PhDs from U.S. universities or research institutions, but just 7 percent (49 of 720) of those scientists served on SABs of 511 U.S. biotech firms. She says this percentage never exceeded 10.2 during the study's 1972-2002 window.

Though her data appears to be the latest available that's specific to the SAB gender breakdown in the biotech industry, Ding says she suspects the percentage of female SAB members serving biotech firms falls below the overall, 12.6-percentage of women on U.S. corporate boards in 2012, according to an independent study.

But, she says, academia can effectively counteract the inequity.

"University scientists have helped create at least half of the publicly traded biotech firms operating today, and our data shows a female professor is most likely to draw a science advisory board invitation by tapping into her school's technology transfer office," says Ding. "Biotechnology founders strongly gauge an SAB candidate's reputation and quality of his or her network in determining that individual's business savvy."

But not all institutions formally support such offices – even though they "provide an ideal means for academic administrators to raise the profile of their high-performing female scientists," she says. "Networking by way of technology-transfer offices can be useful in promoting the research of women faculty and brokering connections between them and influential members of the entrepreneurship and investment communities."

She concludes the influence factor is a major issue, since gender bias appears most active in high-profile companies backed by high-status venture capitalists.  "When female scientists do receive invitations to join boards, they generally come from small start-ups with limited financial backing."

Further measuring the effects of specific areas of research interest and individual career aspiration on the SAB gender gap can deepen the understanding this issue and help erode gender inequity more broadly at the corporate leadership level, says Ding. "Our nation's continued preeminence in science and technology will depend on engaging the best and the brightest, regardless of gender."

An electronic version of the research study is available to media on request. Contact Greg Muraski:

Uncovering How Humans Hear One Voice Among Many

March 8, 2013

Rebecca Copeland 301–405–6602 or 301–706–8312 (after hours)

Jonathan SimonCOLLEGE PARK, Md.—Humans have an uncanny ability to zero in on a single voice, even amid the cacophony of voices found in a crowded party or other large gathering of people. Researchers have long sought to identify the precise mechanisms by which our brains enable this remarkable selectivity in sound processing known as the "cocktail party effect."

In a new study published in the journal Neuron, University of Maryland Associate Professor Jonathan Simon (Biology/Electrical and Computer Engineering), recent Maryland Ph.D. graduate Nai Ding, lead author Elana M. Zion Golumbic of Columbia University and colleagues from Columbia and other New York universities at last are unlocking these neural mechanisms, using data recorded directly from the surface of the brain.

NeuronIn a crowded place, sounds from different talkers enter our ears mixed together, so our brains first must separate them using cues like when and from where the sounds are coming. But we also have the ability to then track a particular voice, which comes to dominates our attention and later, our memory. One major theory hypothesizes we can do this because our brains are able to lock on to patterns we expect to hear in speech at designated times, such as syllables and phrases in sentences. The theory predicts that in a situation with competing sounds, when we train our focus exclusively on one person, that person's speech will dominate our brain's information processing.

Of course, inside our brains, this focusing and processing takes the form of electrical signals racing around a complicated network of neurons in the auditory cortex.

To begin to unlock how the neurons figure things out, the researchers used a brain-signal recording device called electrocorticography (ECoG). These devices, implanted directly in the cortex of the brain, are used in epilepsy surgery. They consist of about 120 electrodes arranged in an array over the brain's lateral cortex.

With the permission of the surgery patients, researchers gave them a cocktail party-like comprehension task in which they watched a brief, 9-12 second movie of two simultaneous talkers, side by side. A cue in the movie indicated to which talker the person should try to listen. The ECoG recorded what was happening in the patients' brains as they focused on what one of the talkers was saying.

The researchers learned that low-frequency "phase entrainment" signals and high-frequency "power modulations" worked together in the brain to dynamically track the chosen talker. In and near low-level auditory cortices, attention enhances the tracking of speech we're paying attention to, while ignored speech is still heard. But in higher-order regions of the cortex, we become more "selective"—there is no detectable tracking of ignored speech. This selectivity seems to sharpen as a speaker's sentence unfolds.

"This new study reaffirms what we've already seen using magnetoencephalography (MEG)," says Simon, who holds a joint appointment in both the University of Maryland's A. James Clark School of Engineering and College of Computer, Mathematical and Natural Sciences. Simon's lab uses MEG, a common non-invasive neuroimaging method, to record from ordinary individuals instead of neurosurgery patients. "In fact, the methods of neural data analysis developed in my lab for analyzing MEG results proved to be fantastic for analyzing these new recordings taken directly from the brain."

"We're quite pleased to see both the low frequency and high frequency neural responses working together," says Simon, "since our earlier MEG results were only able to detect the low frequency components." Simon's own MEG research currently is investigating what happens when the brain is no longer able to pick out a talker from a noisy background due to the effects of aging or damaged hearing.

Simon also notes that the new study's results are in good agreement with the auditory theories of another University of Maryland researcher, Shihab Shamma (Electrical and Computer Engineering and Institute for Systems Research), Maryland alumna Mounya Elhilali (now on faculty at Johns Hopkins University), and their colleagues, who are part of a wide-ranging, collaborative family of neuroscience researchers originating at Maryland.

A better understanding of the cocktail party effect could eventually help those who have trouble deciphering a single voice in a noisy environment, such as some elderly and some people with attention deficit hyperactivity disorder, or ADHD. It might also lead to technology improvements such as cell phones that can block background voices to improve transmission quality of its user's voice.

More information
Neuron article, "Mechanisms Underlying Selective Neuronal Tracking of Attended Speech at a 'CockTail Party'":

Neuron's press release about the study (includes illustrations):

Jonathan Simon's homepage:

Jonathan Simon research group in the University of Maryland's Computational Sensorimotor Systems Laboratory:

S.A. Shamma, M. Elhilali, C. Micheyl, Trends Neurosci., 34 (2011), pp. 114–123 PDF

UMD Study Provides New Clues to How Flu is Spread

March 7, 2013

Kelly Blake 301-405-9418

Donald Milton, M.D., Dr.P.H.COLLEGE PARK, Md. - People may more likely be exposed to the flu through airborne virus than previously thought, according to new research from the University of Maryland School of Public Health. The study also found that when flu patients wear a surgical mask, the release of virus in even the smallest airborne droplets can be significantly reduced.

"People are generally surprised to learn that scientists don't know for sure how flu spreads," says Donald Milton, M.D., Dr.P.H., who directs the Maryland Institute for Applied Environmental Health and led the study of influenza virus aerosols published in the journal PLOS Pathogens on March 7, 2013.

"Our study provides new evidence that there is nearly nine times more influenza virus present in the smallest airborne droplets in the breath exhaled from those infected with flu than in the larger droplets that would be expected to carry more virus," explains Dr. Milton. "This has important implications for how we prevent the spread of flu."

Collecting Exhaled Breath from Flu Patients: The Gesundheit II machine collects the breath exhaled from flu sufferers. Study volunteers sit for 30 minutes with their heads in the horizontal cone attached to the machine, which sucks in the air around their heads to collect tiny airborne droplets generated deep in the lungs. Researchers can then analyze the aerosols for the presence and quantity of virus.Routes of flu transmission include: 1) direct or indirect (e.g., doorknobs, keyboards) contact with an infected person, 2) contact via large droplet spray from a respiratory fluid (via coughs and sneezes), and 3) inhalation of fine airborne particles, which are generated by the release of smaller, virus-containing droplets via normal breathing and coughing. The relative importance of these modes of influenza transmission has not been well understood, but is critical in devising effective interventions to protect healthcare workers and vulnerable people, such as infants and the elderly.

The Centers for Disease Control recommends that persons with influenza wear surgical masks to prevent transmission to susceptible individuals. Yet, this recommendation has been supported so far by only one study of mask impact on the containment of large droplet spray during influenza infection. Maryland's study is the first to provide data showing that using a surgical mask can reduce the release of even the smallest droplets containing infectious virus. For this reason, health care facilities should put surgical masks on those suspected of having influenza, and individuals with influenza can protect their families by wearing a mask.

Study Methods
Dr. Milton and his research team, including scientists from Harvard and Boston University Schools of Public Health and the University of Hong Kong, collected the exhaled breath from 38 flu patients and tested both the coarse (≥ 5 µm) and fine (< 5 µm) particles for the number of viruses using molecular methods. They found that the fine particles had 8.8 times more virus than the coarse particles (larger but still airborne droplets). They also tested the airborne droplets for "culturable" virus and found that virus was not only abundant in some cases, but infectious. However, there was a big range of how many viruses people put into the air – some were undetectable while others put out over 100,000 every 30 minutes.

The researchers also tested the impact of wearing a surgical mask on the virus shedding into airborne droplets. Wearing a surgical mask significantly decreased the presence of virus in airborne droplets from exhaled breath. There was a 2.8 fold reduction in the amount of virus shed into the smallest droplets, and a 3.4 fold overall reduction in virus shed in both the coarse and fine and airborne particles.

UMD Among Top 100 in World Reputation Rankings

March 6, 2013

Alana Carchedi 301-405-0235
University Communications 301-257-0073 (cell)

Times Higher Education’s 2013 top 100 World Reputation RankingsCOLLEGE PARK, Md. – The University of Maryland has been named to the Times Higher Education’s 2013 top 100 World Reputation Rankings list.

The World Reputation Rankings recognizes the top 100 global universities, based on the results of the world’s largest invitation-only academic opinion survey, which received 16,639 responses from 144 countries.

The survey targets experienced, published scholars, who offer their views on excellence in research and teaching within their disciplines and at institutions with which they are familiar.

This ranking adds to the university’s prestigious list of academic recognitions. The university ranks 19th among public universities by U.S. News & World Report for 2013, with 25 academic programs in U.S. News' Top 10 and 72 in the Top 25.

In addition, the Institute of Higher Education (Jiao Tong University, Shanghai), which ranks the world's top universities based on research, puts UMD at number 38 in the world and number 13 among U.S. public universities.

The full Times Higher Education 2013 top 100 World Reputation Rankings list is available here.

UMD Re-Thinks Architectural Education

March 5, 2013

Maggie Haslam 202-258-8946

Students from ARCH401 hard at workCOLLEGE PARK, Md. - More than 40 years after the University of Maryland created its architecture program, the school is re-thinking how to best arm the next generation of students with the tools and experience to succeed in tomorrow's marketplace.

Since the creation of the program, the architecture profession has encountered sweeping changes in technology and practice, profound environmental and economic challenges, and a more diverse and accessible cultural landscape. These challenges, coupled with a downsizing of architecture firms since the onset of the recession in 2008, have sparked new questions about the future of architectural education.
"The profession is wrestling with immense and immediate pressures, such as computational changes, the economy of service, globalization and sustainability, which in turn are forcing significant changes to the practice of architecture," says David Cronrath, dean of the School of Architecture, Planning and Preservation. "In turn, we need to find a way to adjust our curriculum and teaching that prepares our students to adeptly navigate the profession of the future."

The tools used to navigate these challenges, explains Cronrath, revolve around a core set of principles that will drive an innovative and re-conceptualized curriculum for UMD's architecture program. When paired with new ways of teaching, curriculum flexibility and opportunities to collaborate and explore, this holistic approach to teaching architecture will put students on the path to success. Focusing on a key foundation of analytic skills, creative problem solving, rhetorical and communication skills, ethics and most notably, visual thinking, allows the curriculum to adapt and grow with changes in the profession.

Adds Cronrath, "These changes are not only necessary for the future of architecture; they are what the next generation of students will demand."

Architecture director Brian Kelly leading a lecture series discussionThe 2012-13 architecture lecture series, "Conversations on the Future of Architectural Education," offers a glimpse at what that future could be. The series, which resumed this past month, brings together experienced practitioners, industry leaders and innovative educators from across the country—alongside UMD students and faculty—to discuss, debate and examine the future of architectural education. According to Brian Kelly, Architecture Program director and "Conversations" creator, the series facilitates a key step in researching curriculum best practices, taking the temperature with other academics and professionals, providing critical discussion and facilitating idea exchange.  

"Nationally, this is a topic that all schools of architecture are struggling with," explains Kelly. "Many schools are embracing the notion of curricular change and how to deal with evolving technology, sustainability and the changing role of community. How are other schools doing it? It is this sort of collaboration of ideas and viewpoints that will help us to push the curriculum forward."

According to Michael Ambrose, assistant professor of Architecture, a reconceptualization of the curriculum has broad implications for the profession, providing the tools that will not only develop a well-prepared architect, but that equip students for a number of career paths.

"It's a great time to be doing this, because there are so many cultural shifts at play," explains Ambrose. "There is no longer a "traditional" college student. Now is the prime time to open up a discussion and examine how to make ourselves more flexible. These important conversations will help us develop the most engaging modes of delivery."

Join the conversation
"Conversations on the Future of Architectural Education" runs through May, and features lively discussion and debate between professionals, academics, industry leaders and students on the future of education and the profession. The next lecture, "Take Five: Should Architectural Education Change?," featuring a conversation with American Institute of Architects Executive Vice President and CEO Robert Ivy, takes place at 6:30 p.m. on Wednesday, March 27, at the School of Architecture Planning and Preservation. Click here for a full schedule.

Dried but Not Forgotten

March 5, 2013

Sara Gavin 301-405-9235

COLLEGE PARK, Md. - Without fossils, paleontologists would never have discovered that dinosaurs once roamed the earth, how the Tyrannosaurus rex stalked its prey or that the Brontosaurus weighed more than 230 tons. Similarly, pressed, dried plant specimens can provide scientists with important information about where certain plants grow and how they've evolved over time – crucial clues for studying climate change and the overall health of the environment.

Dr. Tanja Schuster, curator of the Norton-Brown Herbarium at UMDThis type of research is being done right on campus at the University of Maryland's herbarium – a collection of catalogued, preserved plant specimens – which boasts roughly 87,000 specimens of flowering and cone-bearing plants, algae, mosses, liverworts, lichen and fungi.
"We pride ourselves on being the best collection for Maryland. It is super valuable," says Dr. Tanja Schuster, curator of the Norton-Brown Herbarium at UMD.

Established in 1901, the Norton-Brown Herbarium has recently seen a revival of sorts after very nearly being lost to the university for good.  The large filing cabinets stacked with rows upon rows of pressed plants were housed in a classroom inside the HJ Patterson building for several decades, where they were largely under lock and key, inaccessible to researchers, students and general plant enthusiasts. 

Due to space constraints inside HJ Patterson, there was talk of moving UMD's collection to be part of another herbarium – either at Towson University or the Smithsonian National Museum of Natural History in Washington, D.C. – or simply disposing of it.

That's when Dr. Maile Neel, an associate professor in the Department of Plant Science and Landscape Architecture (PSLA), and former PSLA chair Dr. William Kenworthy decided to take on the responsibility of managing the herbarium.  

"It really would be a complete tragedy if Maryland's land-grant institution didn't have a repository for the state's flora," says Neel, who now serves as director of the Norton-Brown Herbarium.

In 2011, the herbarium moved into a space inside the Research Greenhouse Complex (RGC) on campus where it remains today. Schuster was hired as curator in July of 2012 and since then, has been trying to breathe new life into the collection of dried plants. She has been hosting workshops, putting up displays and in general, trying to spread the word that the herbarium is still around and more active than it has been in decades.

"We've had so many visitors already," said Schuster. "Our main goal is to be approachable and accessible to researchers, students and the public."

People around the world can now access a steadily growing number of the University of Maryland's collection through the new digital herbarium where pictures and attending information of roughly 5,000 plant specimens are currently available in a searchable database. Researchers on campus are using the online resource to help track migration patterns of the monarch butterfly by studying the stages of development in milkweed, which the butterflies use as a host plant and nectar source.

Most of the specimens in the Norton-Brown Herbarium were collected from areas in Maryland, but it also houses samples from other areas of the country and across the globe, some of which have been preserved for 112 years.

Looking forward, Schuster and Neel are hoping to increase awareness of the herbarium both on campus and online and to secure funds to keep it a permanent part of the University of Maryland's future.

"It's often very difficult to explain to people why we need this facility and information," says Neel. "If we want to know anything about changes in the environment, conservation, rare or endangered species, we need to have the information found in a herbarium. It is a historical record."

For more information on the Nortown-Brown Herbarium, visit


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