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UMD to Memorialize Capital Gazette Shooting Victims

September 14, 2018

Alexander Pyles, 301-405-2399

COLLEGE PARK, Md.--The University of Maryland announced today plans to honor the five victims in June’s mass shooting in the Capital Gazette newsroom in Annapolis, Md.

UMD’s Philip Merrill College of Journalism will rename an executive seminar room in Knight Hall as an on-campus memorial for UMD alumni John McNamara, ’83 and Gerald Fischman,’79, UMD adjunct professor Rob Hiaasen, and their colleagues Rebecca Smith and Wendi Winters. A dedication ceremony, co-hosted with The Diamondback student newspaper, will take place in December. Merrill College will also create writing competitions in memory of Fischman and McNamara, as well as a teaching award in memory of Hiaasen.

"These people served their community by practicing and supporting journalism," said Lucy A. Dalglish, dean of Merrill College. "We hope these remembrances will be a consistent reminder of their example, and that their memory inspires others to seek truth and do good."

Maryland Athletics will pay tribute to McNamara, a sports reporter who covered Terps football and basketball for two decades, with a moment of silence in the press box before this Saturday’s home football game. A press seat will be dedicated in memory of McNamara with a permanent placard in the press box at both Maryland Stadium and XFINITY Center. 

“From his time as a young reporter for The Diamondback, John dedicated much of his life to reporting news and sharing stories of our student-athletes, coaches and programs at Maryland,” director of athletics Damon Evans said. “John was a part of so many special moments in our history and created many personal moments of his own in College Park. The seats dedicated in his honor at both XFINITY Center and Maryland Stadium will serve as a constant reminder to the dedication and passion he had for Maryland and sports journalism."      

McNamara first started covering the Terps as a student reporter for The Diamondback. He wrote a 2001 book with Dave Eflin on UMD men’s basketball, then in 2009 wrote another on Terps football.

Fischman, who also worked for The Diamondback, was an award-winning editorial writer who began working at the Capital Gazette newsroom in 1992.

Hiaasen, who taught news writing and reporting in Spring 2018 at Merrill College and was scheduled to do so again this fall, started working at The Capital in 2010 after 15 years as a feature writer at The Baltimore Sun. 

Wendi Winters, a features writer, started out as a freelancer at The Capital nearly 20 years ago and Rebecca Smith was hired as a sales assistant for the publication. 


UMD Alumna Jean E. Lokerson Bequeaths $1.75M to Support Scholarships for Education Students

September 13, 2018

Audrey Hill, 301-405-3468

COLLEGE PARK, Md. – The University of Maryland has received a $1.75 million estate gift from alumna Jean E. Lokerson Ph.D. ’70 to support student scholarships in the College of Education. The John T. and Dorothy E. Lokerson Endowed Scholarship in Education—named in honor of Lokerson’s parents who encouraged her to pursue a career in education—provides merit and need-based student scholarships toward tuition and fees that are equivalent to two years of full-time upper-level undergraduate or graduate study.

Headshot of Lokerson“This remarkable gift will help students excel in their academic pursuits and ensure that the College can attract the most talented students,” said Jennifer K. Rice, dean of the College of Education. “Dr. Lokerson’s passion for the field of education and for teaching teachers is reflected in this endowed scholarship, which will help transform students’ experiences and enhance our research and instruction through the contributions of the best and brightest students.”

The gift supports Fearless Ideas: The Campaign for Maryland, UMD’s $1.5 billion fundraising campaign focused on elevating and expanding the university’s mission of service, enhancing academic distinction and bolstering UMD’s leading-edge research enterprise. 

A pioneer in the emerging field of special education, Lokerson, who passed away on November 7, 2016, was dedicated to understanding and addressing the challenges of having a disability.

“Jean found great joy in teaching special education students and as a ‘teacher of teachers,’ through her role as a professor in the university setting,” said Elise Blankenship, a longtime friend and colleague of Lokerson. “It is a fitting reflection of her legacy that her generous gift to the university will help prepare the next generation of educators for excellence.”

A committed, lifelong educator, Lokerson’s interest in education began in her childhood home, where she taught her triplet younger siblings. After receiving an undergraduate degree in elementary education from The George Washington University in 1959, she taught elementary education in Montgomery County, Maryland, before pursuing a master’s degree in special education from Syracuse University. She completed her doctorate in special education from the University of Maryland in 1970 with a minor in human development.

“Jean valued her education at the University of Maryland, her professors, and the many opportunities it provided her, which helped shape her career,” Blankenship said. 

Lokerson then transitioned into higher education, where she helped prepare special education teachers for the classroom at a number of institutions, prior to becoming a professor emerita at Virginia Commonwealth University. In addition to receiving numerous professional honors, she was recognized for her innovative use of simulations, technology and hands-on experiences in teaching special education.

The undergraduate and graduate student recipients, referred to as John T. and Dorothy E. Lokerson Scholars, will be selected first on the basis of merit and academic excellence and then on the basis of financial need.

Photo: Headshot of  Jean E. Lokerson. Credit: Lokerson Family

UMD-Led Quantum Light Research Enables Sources of Nearly Identical Photons

September 11, 2018

Emily Edwards, 301-405-2291

COLLEGE PARK, Md. – The smallest amount of light you can have is one photon, so dim that it’s pretty much invisible to humans. While imperceptible, these tiny blips of energy are useful for carrying quantum information around. Ideally, every quantum courier would be the same, but there isn’t a straightforward way to produce a stream of identical photons. This is particularly challenging when individual photons come from fabricated chips.

Now, researchers at the University of Maryland have demonstrated a new approach that enables different devices to repeatedly emit nearly identical single photons. The team, led by UMD Associate Professor Mohammad Hafezi, made a silicon chip that guides light around the device’s edge, where it is inherently protected against disruptions.

Previously, Hafezi—who has affiliations in the Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering, of UMD’s A. James Clark School of Engineering, the UMD-based Joint Quantum Institute, and UMD’s Institute for Research in Electronics and Applied Physics—together with colleagues showed that this design can reduce the likelihood of optical signal degradation. Their findings were published online September 10 in Nature.

“We initially thought that we would need to be more careful with the design, and that the photons would be more sensitive to our chip’s fabrication process,” said lead author Sunil Mittal, an assistant research scientist in UMD’s Institute for Research in Electronics and Applied Physics and a postdoctoral researcher in the Joint Quantum Institute. “But, astonishingly, photons generated in these shielded edge channels are always nearly identical, regardless of how bad the chips are.”

In this work, the team found that the same physics which protects the light along the chip’s edge also ensures reliable photon production. Single photons, which are an example of quantum light, are more than just really dim light. This distinction has a lot to do with where the light comes from.

“Pretty much all of the light we encounter in our everyday lives is packed with photons,” said Elizabeth Goldschmidt, a researcher at the US Army Research Laboratory and the Joint Quantum Institute and a co-author on the study.  “But unlike a light bulb, there are some sources that actually emit light, one photon at time, and this can only be described by quantum physics.”

Many researchers are working on building reliable quantum light emitters so that they can isolate and control the quantum properties of single photons. Goldschmidt explained that such light sources will likely be important for future quantum information devices as well as further understanding the mysteries of quantum physics. “Modern communications relies heavily on non-quantum light,” said Goldschmidt. “Similarly, many of us believe that single photons are going to be required for any kind of quantum communication application out there.”

Scientists can generate quantum light using a natural color-changing process that occurs when a beam of light passes through certain materials. In this experiment the team used silicon, a common industrial choice for guiding light, to convert infrared laser light into pairs of different-colored single photons.

They injected light into a chip containing an array of miniscule silicon loops. Under the microscope, the loops look like linked-up glassy racetracks. The light circulates around each loop thousands of times before moving on to a neighboring loop. Stretched out, the light’s path would be several centimeters long, but the loops make it possible to fit the journey in a space that is about 500 times smaller. The relatively long journey is necessary to get many pairs single photons out of the silicon chip.  

Such loop arrays are routinely used as single photon sources, but small differences between chips will cause the photon colors to vary from one device to the next. Even within a single device, random defects in the material may reduce the average photon quality. This is a problem for quantum information applications where researchers need the photons to be as close to identical as possible.

The team circumvented this issue by arranging the loops in a way that always allows the light to travel undisturbed around the edge of the chip, even if fabrication defects are present. This design not only shields the light from disruptions—it  also restricts how single photons form within those edge channels. The loop layout essentially forces each photon pair to be nearly identical to the next, regardless of microscopic differences among the rings. The central part of the chip does not contain protected routes, and so any photons created in those areas are affected by material defects.

The researchers compared their chips to ones without any protected routes. They collected pairs of photons from the different chips, counting the number emitted and noting their color. They observed that their quantum light source reliably produced high quality, single-color photons time and again, whereas the conventional chip’s output was more unpredictable.

According to Mittal this device has one additional advantage over other single photon sources. “Our chip works at room temperature. I don’t have to cool it down to cryogenic temperatures like other quantum light sources, making it a comparatively very simple setup.”

The team said that this finding could open up a new avenue of research, which unites quantum light with photonic devices having built-in protective features. “Physicists have only recently realized that shielded pathways fundamentally alter the way that photons interact with matter,” said Mittal. “This could have implications for a variety of fields where light-matter interactions play a role, including quantum information science and optoelectronic technology.”


The Joint Quantum Institute is a research partnership between University of Maryland and the National Institute of Standards and Technology, with the support and participation of the Laboratory for Physical Sciences.

UMD Named One of America’s Best Colleges for Student Voting

September 11, 2018

Jennifer Burroughs, 301-405-4621

COLLEGE PARK, Md. --  The University of Maryland has been listed among 58 universities in the nation who are living up to their civic responsibility to develop students who buy in and give back to their country and communities. 

For the first year, Washington Monthly magazine expanded on their analysis of civic initiatives at colleges and universities, by creating an exclusive list of those who excel in this area. The colleges listed were first evaluated for the magazine's overall best college ranking and then four more factors were evaluated to determine their commitment to student voting. These factors include:

  • Participation in Tufts University’s National Study of Learning, Voting, and Engagement (NSLVE), which helps colleges calculate their precise student voting and registration rates by combining national voting records with enrollment data.
  • Participation in the ALL IN Campus Democracy Challenge, an effort that uses NSLVE data to help colleges create plans to boost their students’ voting rates and civic participation.
  • Public release of NSLVE data as an ALL IN school.
  • Public release of ALL IN action plan.

The University of Maryland recently reauthorized its NSLVE status through the year 2023, and have been an ALL IN school with a public action plan since 2014. The most recent 2018 action plan features initiatives that emphasize innovation and advocacy to inspire social change through students. UMD is also participating in the Big Ten Voting Challenge, which aims to register even more students to become civically engaged. 

The full Washington Monthly list of America’s Best Colleges for Student Voting is available here.

UMD Named One of the Nation’s Top 25 Public Colleges

September 10, 2018

Natifia Mullings, 301-405-4076

COLLEGE PARK, Md.-- The University of Maryland remains one of the top 25 public institutions in the United States, according to U.S. News & World Report’s 2019 Best Colleges list, released today. UMD placed No. 22 on this year’s list, maintaining the same spot among public universities as last year.

The university has 54 undergraduate and graduate programs ranked among the top 25, nationally. The Robert H. Smith School of Business remained at No. 21, while the A. James Clark School of Engineering rose one place, to No. 24. UMD was also named No. 33 among Best Schools for Veterans, and recognized for its learning committees. 

Overall, the university ranked No. 63 on this year’s list.

With an emphasis on academic excellence, U.S. News and World Report’s Best Colleges rankings evaluate 16 factors, including assessment of excellence, graduation and retention rates, faculty resources, student selectivity, financial resources, graduation rate performance and alumni giving. This year, the magazine introduced a new methodology to measure how well schools support low-income students through graduation.

CP Dream Team Celebrates College Park’s African-American Heritage in Lakeland Community

September 10, 2018

COLLEGE PARK, Md. - The CP Dream Team, a quarterly friendly basketball game to foster trust between youth and police officers, will celebrate a six-year anniversary on September 14 at 7pm at the College Park Community Center. Local youth from the Lakeland community, College Park’s historic African-American community, will play with officers from M-NCPPC Park Police, University of Maryland Police Department, and Prince George’s County Police Department to demonstrate the significance of community engagement. 

CP Dream TeamThe game will be in conjunction with the annual Lakeland Heritage Weekend, which celebrates African-American heritage in the Lakeland community. The mission of Lakeland Community Heritage Project, a key CP Dream Team partner, is to preserve African-American history in the area which began in the late nineteenth century. 

“Sports are a way to connect people of all ages and the community of today with the past. Annually we celebrate Lakeland Heritage with CP Dream Team, presenting the past and recognizing sports heroes of today,” says Maxine Gross, Director of Lakeland Community Heritage Project. 

Lakeland Heritage Weekend will take place the weekend of September 22 with a parade, picnic and benefit concert.  

“The CP Dream Team has made a tremendous impact in the Lakeland Community. The camaraderie between the law enforcement agencies and our youth has been outstanding. Trust has been built, and continues to be built between the police officers and the community with each game”, says Reverend Edna Jenkins of Embry Center for Family Life, a local nonprofit in Lakeland and major partner of CP Dream Team. “We are listening and communicating with each other because of a commitment to promote, ‘Unity in the Community’. We have a common goal of wanting a safe and supportive community for all residents”.   

CP Dream Team is possible because of collaboration between the University of Maryland, College Park Community Center (M-NCPPC), Lakeland Community Heritage Project, Embry Center for Family Life and the participating police agencies. 

For more information about the CP Dream Team, visit oce.umd.edu/college-park-dream-team.

For more information about Lakeland Heritage Weekend, visit https://lakelandchp.com.



Large-Scale Wind and Solar Farms in the Sahara Would Increase Rain and Vegetation

September 6, 2018

 Lee Tune 301-439-1438


North Africa showing the Sahara

COLLEGE PARK, Md. – A new study led by University of Maryland (UMD) scientists conducted novel climate and vegetation model experiments to show that wind and solar farms could lead to a more than doubling of rainfall in the Sahara and an increase of up to about 20 inches (500 mm/year) in the Sahel, a semi-arid transition region that lies south of the Sahara.

Large-scale wind and solar farms in the Sahara could provide enough energy to replace the fossil fuel energy used currently and in the foreseeable future. The primary effect of such renewable energy farms would be a substantial reduction of human-generated greenhouse gas emissions and the resulting mitigation of climate change. However, such large-scale wind and solar farms could also affect regional climate due to changes to land surface properties. An international group of researchers, led by UMD scientists, explored such climate impacts by including bidirectional vegetation feedbacks between a global climate model and a land/vegetation model. Their findings were published today in Science.

"Our model results show that large-scale solar and wind farms in the Sahara would more than double the precipitation in the Sahara, and the most substantial increase occurs in the Sahel, where the magnitude of rainfall increase is between ~200 and ~500 mm per year," said Yan Li, a lead author of the paper who was a UMD postdoctoral researcher when the study began and is now at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. "As a result, vegetation cover fraction increases by about 20 percent." 

"Precipitation increases predicted by our model would lead to substantial improvements of rainfed agriculture in the region, and vegetation increases would lead to the growth in production of livestock," said Safa Motesharrei, UMD Systems Scientist and a lead author of the paper. "The Sahara, the Sahel, and the Middle East include some of the driest regions in the world, while experiencing high growth of population and poverty. Our study has major implications for addressing the intertwined sustainability challenges of the Energy–Water–Food nexus in this region."

"Moreover, the availability of vast quantities of clean energy would allow for desalination of seawater and transporting it to the regions that suffer most from severe freshwater scarcity, in turn, leading to improvement of public health, expansion of agriculture and food production, and even restoration of biodiversity" added Motesharrei about the broader societal, economic, and ecological impacts of their novel scientific findings.

Past as Prelude

"In 1975 Jule Charney, my PhD advisor at MIT, proposed a feedback mechanism to help explain the drought in the Sahel, the semi-arid transition region south of the Sahara: Overgrazing increased surface albedo [reflectivity], reduced precipitation, and in turn further reduced vegetation,” said Eugenia Kalnay, University of Maryland Distinguished University Professor and a lead author of the paper. “About a decade ago, I had the idea that this feedback would work in the opposite direction in the presence of large solar panel farms, since these would reduce the surface albedo. Similarly, wind farms would increase land surface friction and convergence of air, thus producing upward motion and precipitation. This is a second feedback mechanism that was discovered by Y.C. Sud in 1985, but again in the opposite direction. These feedback mechanisms suggest that both large wind and solar farms in the Sahara would significantly increase precipitation and vegetation. Our results support this conclusion." (See Figure.)

 The figure and related code and data available at: https://doi.org/10.6084/m9.figshare.7045547

"Solar and wind power projects in Africa and the Middle East are already underway, from Morocco to Dubai to Ethiopia, including over 200 GW of solar power planned by 2030," said co-author Jorge Rivas, a political scientist. "This renewable electricity could be transported to regions a few thousand kilometers away, and long-distance transmission lines have already existed in Africa and elsewhere for decades." 

"This study accomplishes something completely new: it looks at how human action can affect the land surface through construction of solar and wind farms, and shows that for land use change of this magnitude, it is fundamental to look at the impact on regional climate using global climate models that account for land–atmosphere feedbacks," said Paolo D'Odorico, Professor of Ecohydrology at the University of California, Berkeley, who was not a co-author. 

This study shows "that dynamic vegetation feedback could enhance the impact of land use changes on climate in this specific region [Sahara and Sahel]," said Guiling Wang, a Professor of Hydroclimatology at the University of Connecticut, who was not a co-author. "Studies using models with static [prescribed] vegetation may underestimate the effects on regional climate of anthropogenic activities such as deforestation or wind and solar farms." 

"These experiments with dynamic vegetation feedback in our model show that the positive precipitation–vegetation–albedo feedback accounts for about 80 percent of the simulated precipitation increase in the wind farm experiments," said co-author Eviatar Bach, PhD Candidate at the UMD Department of Atmospheric and Oceanic Science (AOSC). The dynamic vegetation model was developed by co-author Ning Zeng, a Professor at UMD AOSC, and coupled into the global climate model developed by co-author  Fred Kucharski, a climate scientist at the International Center for Theoretical Physics in Italy. 

"While it was known that surface roughness and albedo can affect climate and rainfall, the conclusion that including dynamic vegetation would lead to a strong positive feedback in rainfall is new," said J. Shukla, a renowned climate scientist and Distinguished University Professor of Climate Dynamics at George Mason University, who was not a co-author. "This research certainly suggests that it will be possible to create a self-sustaining renewable energy system, which will be greatly beneficial for the socioeconomic development of the region."

"The Sahara has been expanding for some decades, and solar and wind farms might help stop the expansion of this arid region," said Russ Dickerson, a leader on air quality research and a professor at UMD AOSC, who was not a co-author. "This looks like a win-win to me." he said.

 “Climate model shows large-scale wind and solar farms in the Sahara increase rain and vegetation” by Yan Li, Eugenia Kalnay, Safa Motesharrei, Jorge Rivas, Fred Kucharski, Daniel Kirk-Davidoff, Eviatar Bach, and Ning Zeng. Science, 2018 September 7. DOI: 10.1126/science.aar5629



UMD Recognized as "Best of the Best" Top 30 LGBTQ-friendly College for 2018

September 6, 2018

Natifia Mullings, 301-405-4076

COLLEGE PARK, Md.-- The University of Maryland has been named by Campus Pride as a “Best of the Best” Top 30 LGBTQ-friendly college for its LGBTQ-inclusive policies, programs, and practices. The university was selected based on its overall rating on the Campus Pride Index's LGBTQ-inclusive benchmark measures. UMD received 5 out of 5 stars for its efforts to create a safer, more inclusive campus learning environment.

The Campus Pride Index, currently rating more than 330 campuses, is the premier national benchmarking tool which self-assesses a wide range of factors, including LGBTQ support & institutional commitment, student life, policy inclusion, and housing & residence life.

"We continue to be on the cutting edge, and we're proud of the good work of this campus,” said Shige Sakurai, acting director, Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, and Transgender Equity Center. “At the same time, we must continue to make strides, especially for transgender and gender nonconforming communities and communities of color.

The university's LGBT Equity Center will celebrate its 20th anniversary this year. UMD launched a new initiative during the 2017-2018 academic year: #TransTerps, a campaign designed to raise awareness about best practices for trans inclusion on campus, and has built on its Lavender Leadership series, a racial justice focused leadership development series reaching dozens of LGBTQ+ and allied students. The University Health Center also released a trans health guide last school year. 

To learn more about UMD’s LGBT Equity Center visit https://lgbt.umd.edu/. For the full list of colleges, visit www.campuspride.org

University of Maryland Announces ‘Year of Immigration’

September 4, 2018

Sarah Marston, 301-405-4312

Year of Immigration Banner

COLLEGE PARK, MD—The University of Maryland (UMD) today announced that the campus will commemorate the 2018-19 academic year as the “Year of Immigration.” Driven by the support of faculty, staff and students across UMD’s schools and colleges, the Year of Immigration will support the university's mission to cultivate global citizenry by transforming dialogue into impact on urgent issues related to immigration, global migration and refugees.

“One of the University of Maryland’s great strengths is our international diversity, both on campus and in our surrounding neighborhoods,” said Ross Lewin, UMD Associate Vice President for International Affairs. “We hope the Year of Immigration will provide opportunities to learn, discuss solutions, and connect in ways that will foster a more inclusive community.”

Migration is one of the biggest challenges facing the U.S. and the world at large. As of last month, more than 500 migrant children were yet to be reunited with their families following separation at the U.S.-Mexico border, and bipartisan agreement on U.S. immigration reform remains a challenge. Last year, a record 68.5 million people around the world were forced to flee their homes due to conflict, persecution and poverty. That’s an average of one person displaced every two seconds.

Working to advance UMD’s mission to prepare students for an increasingly global society, the Year of Immigration will offer curricula and programming under three interconnected themes:

Conversation will include a series of educational opportunities to raise awareness and deepen knowledge in the UMD community on key issues related to immigration, global migration and refugees. This includes the selection for the 2018-19 First Year Book, “The Refugees,” by Vietnamese-American novelist and Pulitzer Prize-winner Viet Thanh Nguyen, who will visit campus in October as part of the Arts & Humanities Dean’s Lecture Series. The initiative will highlight immigration and migration-themed courses from across the university’s schools and colleges, Education Abroad programs and Global Classrooms.

Community will provide UMD community members with opportunities to engage with local international and immigrant communities. UMD’s Office of Community Engagement will host a series of translation and interpretation events throughout the year, as well as a fall “Design Thinking” workshop with area non-profit organizations that will focus on immigrant civil rights issues.

Culture will recognize and celebrate the international diversity and cultures of our campus, surrounding communities and beyond. This will include original storytelling, a film festival, international food events through UMD Dining Services, exhibitions presented by UMD Libraries’ Special Collections and numerous globally-focused arts performances, including an opera and chamber music series as part of the School of Music Maryland Opera Studio’s Kurt Weill Festival beginning in October.

As the largest public research university in the Washington, D.C. region, UMD has a student body representing over 130 countries. More than one-third of our graduate students and 1,300 scholars come here from other countries to study, teach and conduct research. UMD also partners closely with the surrounding Prince George’s County community, where nearly one in four residents are foreign-born.

“The Year of Immigration provides an opportunity for us to highlight and engage students, faculty and staff in the wide range of research, teaching and service conducted on the flagship campus, illuminating contemporary and historical aspects of the movement of peoples across and within borders,” said Bonnie Thornton Dill, Dean of UMD’s College of Arts & Humanities.

For more information, visit www.yearofimmigration.umd.edu, or engage on social media with #YearofImmigration.


University of Maryland Ranked Among the Top 15 Public Colleges in the Nation

August 29, 2018

Jennifer Burroughs, 301-405-4621 


COLLEGE PARK, Md. - In its annual assessment of the best colleges, Forbes has ranked the University of Maryland as the No. 2 public university in the state and No. 12 public university in the country. Maryland’s overall ranking puts the institution in the top 10 percent of the 650+ schools listed. 

In its 11th year, the Forbes ranking urges students to make the best college decision based on the academic criterion they value most. This unique ranking highlights higher education outputs such as retention & graduation rates, debt after graduation and alumni salaries.The universities included have proven, through a host of many factors, to prepare students best for post-graduate success. 

Emphasis on new academic discoveries and proximity to the nation’s capital contribute to UMD’s top 50 ranking among best research universities and best colleges in the northeast. The University of Maryland has also been honored as the best in state, and is No. 15 among public colleges in the Forbes ranking of America’s Best Value Colleges

The full Forbes list of America’s Top Colleges is available here


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