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UMD​ ​Announces​ ​Streamlined​ ​Protocol​ ​for​ ​Hate-Bias​ ​Incident Response

November 27, 2017
Contacts: 

Katie Lawson, 301-405-4622

COLLEGE PARK, Md. - The University of Maryland announces a new hate-bias incident response protocol that will ensure a coordinated response, provide support to impacted community members and ensure transparency with the campus community. In addition to the new protocol, the university’s Office of Diversity & Inclusion will hire a Hate-Bias Response Coordinator to assist with these efforts as part of UMD’s ongoing efforts to combat hate and create a safer campus.

“A clear and transparent protocol for hate-bias incidents on our campus is essential to ensuring a sense of safety for our students, faculty and staff,” said Roger L. Worthington, UMD’s chief diversity officer. “I believe this is an important step forward in maintaining a campus community deeply rooted in equity, diversity, and inclusion.”

Under the protocol, community members can report hate-bias incidents to the University of Maryland Police Department (UMPD) or the university’s Office of Civil Rights & Sexual Misconduct (OCRSM). Once the incident report is reviewed, the offices inform one another and consult with relevant campus administrators regarding necessary and appropriate action. To ensure transparency for all hate-bias incidents on campus, the Office of Diversity & Inclusion in the future will maintain a log of incidents that will be updated as reports are received. A system for notifying the broader campus community is in the final stages of development and will be announced in the coming weeks.

The Hate-Bias Response Coordinator will provide leadership for a newly established Hate-Bias Response Team, whose membership is currently under development. The coordinator will formulate action plans in coordination with the Hate-Bias Response Team and work with individuals and/or groups affected by any hate-bias incidents. The coordinator, along with members of the Hate-Bias Response Team, will be available for support and guidance to individuals and communities affected by hate-bias incidents. The Office of Diversity & Inclusion will work to continually improve the protocol to ensure its effectiveness based on feedback from the Hate-Bias Response Team.

The protocol has been formally submitted to the Joint President/Senate Inclusion & Respect Task Force to ensure it is reviewed within the wider frame of the task force’s charge to consider how to best nurture a climate that is respectful and inclusive of all members of the campus community, stands against hate and reaffirms the values that define the university. The task force will have the opportunity to make recommendations for revisions to the protocol if appropriate.

The full protocol can be found at https://faculty.umd.edu/diversity/documents/hate-bias-protocol.pdf.

Five UMD Alumni Make Forbes 2018 "30 Under 30" List

November 27, 2017
Contacts: 

Natifia Mullings, 301-405-4076

COLLEGE PARK, Md.— Five University of Maryland alumni were recognized by Forbes Magazine as the world’s brightest young people for their “impressive, inspiring and enviable” achievements. Marian Cheng ’10, Natalya Gallo ’11, Tian Li M.S. ’15, Ph.D. ’16, Erik Martin ’16 and Jake Rozmaryn were named in Forbes’ 2018  “30 Under 30” lists for accomplishments that include the creation of transparent wood and new research developments in underwater ecosystems.

The lists profile young change-makers who are leading the way in their fields and show promise for the future. The “30 Under 30” lists cover 20 different industries and honorees are selected by a panel of judges from thousands of nominations. This year’s alumni join some of the most renowned authors, artists, athletes, and entrepreneurs from around the world, as well as UMD alumni who made the list in previous years.

UMD’s 2018 30 Under 30 winners include:

Marian Cheng ’10 made the Food and Drink list. Cheng and her sister Hannah opened Mimi Cheng’s Dumplings, a restaurant inspired by their mom’s Taiwanese dumplings, in New York’s East Village in 2014. They added a second location in Nolita last year.

Natalya Gallo ’11, now a Ph.D. candidate at the University of California, San Diego, was named to the Science list. Gallo studies the warming climate’s effect on ocean conditions, and how that will influence the health of fish and fisheries. Along with engineer collaborators, she’s developed new tools to study underwater ecosystems.

Tian Li M.S. ’15, Ph.D. ’16 made the Energy list for contributing to the creation of transparent wood. The see-through wood developed at UMD is stronger than traditional wood, as well as more energy-efficient and less expensive to manufacture than glass for windows.

Erik Martin ’16 was named to the Games list. Martin designs outreach programs for Unity Technologies, a video game development company. He was formerly a policy adviser for President Barack Obama’s Office of Science and Technology Policy; while there, Martin helped create the White House Education Game Jam, in which game developers, teachers, learning researchers and students came together to develop educational software.

Former Terp Jake Rozmaryn was named to the Energy list. Rozmaryn was the CEO and founder of Eco Branding, a public relations and marketing agency that focuses on clean-tech companies. He's now vice president of strategy and business development for the Antenna Group, a public relations and marketing agency dealing with energy, sustainability, emerging tech and life sciences.

 

 

UMD-led Collaboration Sheds Light on Origin of Excess Anti-matter

November 21, 2017
Contacts: 

Matthew Wright, 301-405-9267

COLLEGE PARK, Md.-- A mountaintop observatory in Mexico, built and operated by an international team of scientists led by University of Maryland Professor of Physics Jordan Goodman, has captured the first wide-angle view of gamma rays emanating from two rapidly spinning stars. The High-Altitude Water Cherenkov (HAWC) Gamma-Ray Observatory provided a fresh perspective on high-energy light streaming from these stellar neighbors, casting serious doubt on one possible explanation for a mysterious excess of anti-matter particles near Earth.

The HAWC observatory perched next to a volcano in MexicoIn 2008, astronomers observed an unexpectedly high number of positrons—the anti-matter cousins of electrons—in orbit a few hundred miles above Earth’s atmosphere. Ever since, scientists have debated the cause of the anomaly, split over two competing theories of its origin. Some suggested a simple explanation: The extra particles might come from nearby collapsed stars called pulsars, which spin around several times a second and throw off electrons, positrons and other matter with violent force. Others speculated that the extra positrons might come from processes involving dark matter—the invisible but pervasive substance seen so far only through its gravitational pull.

Using new data from the HAWC observatory, researchers made the first detailed measurements of two pulsars previously identified as possible sources of the positron excess. By catching and counting particles of light streaming from these nearby stellar engines, HAWC collaboration researchers found that the two pulsars are unlikely to be the origin of the positron excess. Despite being the right age and the right distance from Earth, the pulsars are surrounded by an extended murky cloud that prevents most positrons from escaping, according to results published in the November 17, 2017 issue of the journal Science.

“This new measurement is tantalizing because it strongly disfavors the idea that these extra positrons are coming to Earth from two nearby pulsars, at least when you assume a relatively simple model for how positrons diffuse away from these spinning stars,” said Goodman, lead investigator and U.S. spokesperson for the HAWC collaboration. “Our measurement doesn’t decide the question in favor of dark matter, but any new theory that attempts to explain the excess using pulsars will need to account for what we’ve found.”

Francisco Salesa Greus, the lead co- author of the new paper and a scientist at the Institute of Nuclear Physics of the Polish Academy of Sciences in Krakow, Poland, added that “we are closer to understanding the origin of the positron excess after excluding two of the main source candidates.”

An Eye in the Sky

As with an ordinary camera, collecting lots of light allows HAWC to build sharp images of individual gamma-ray sources. The most energetic gamma rays originate in the graveyards of big stars, around stellar remains like the spinning pulsar remnants of supernovae. But that light doesn’t come from the stars themselves. Instead, it's created when the spinning pulsar accelerates particles to extremely high energies, causing them to smash into lower-energy photons left over from the early universe.

The size of the debris field around powerful pulsars, measured by the patch of sky that glows bright in gamma rays, tells researchers how quickly matter moves relative to the spinning stars. This enables researchers to estimate how quickly positrons are moving and how many positrons could have reached Earth from a given source.

Using a recently published HAWC catalog of the high-energy sky, scientists have absolved the nearby pulsar Geminga and its sister—the pulsar PSR B0656+14—as sources of the positron excess. Even though the two are old enough and close enough to account for the excess, matter isn’t drifting away from the pulsars fast enough to have reached the Earth.

“The gamma rays HAWC measures demonstrate that there are high-energy positrons escaping from these sources,” said Rubén López-Coto, a scientist at the Max Planck Institute for Nuclear Physics in Heidelberg, Germany and a corresponding author. “But according to our measurement, they could not be significantly contributing to the extra positrons seen at the Earth.”

This measurement wouldn’t have been possible without HAWC’s wide view. It continuously scans about one-third of the sky overhead, which provided researchers with a broad view of the space around the pulsars. Other observatories watching for high-energy gamma rays with a much narrower field of view missed the extended nature of the pulsars.

The HAWC Observatory sits at an elevation of 13,500 feet, flanking the Sierra Negra volcano inside Pico de Orizaba National Park in the Mexican state of Puebla. It consists of more than 300 massive water tanks that sit waiting for cascades of particles initiated by high-energy packets of light called gamma rays—many of which have more than 10 million times the energy of a dental X-ray.

When these gamma rays smash into the upper atmosphere, they blast apart atoms in the air, producing a shower of particles that moves at nearly the speed of light toward the ground. When this shower reaches HAWC’s tanks, it produces coordinated flashes of blue light in the water, allowing researchers to reconstruct the energy and cosmic origin of the gamma ray that kicked off the cascade.

“Thanks to its wide field of view, HAWC provides unique measurements on the very-high-energy gamma ray profiles caused by the particle diffusion around nearby pulsars, which allows us to determine how fast the particles diffuse more directly than previous measurements,” says Hao Zhou, a scientist at the Los Alamos National Laboratory in New Mexico and a corresponding author of the new paper.

It’s possible that a new insight about the astrophysics of these pulsars and their local environments could account for the positron excess at Earth, but it would require a more complicated theory of positron diffusion than physicists in the collaboration think is likely.  On the other hand, dark matter may provide the right explanation, but more evidence will ultimately be needed to decide.


Photo: The HAWC Observatory, perched next to a volcano at an altitude of 13,500 feet, uses its 300 massive water tanks to scoop up the products of high-energy particle collisions happening in the upper atmosphere. Photo credit: Jordan Goodman/University of Maryland

University of Maryland Statement on Tax Bill -- November 20, 2017

November 20, 2017
Contacts: 

Jessica Jennings, 301-405-4618

University of Maryland and University System of Maryland express concerns on tax bill attacking higher education

University of Maryland President Wallace D. Loh, alongside the Chancellor of the University System of Maryland and twelve of his counterparts in the state of Maryland, expressed concerns about the impact on higher education of H.R. 1, the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act. The letter, written to Maryland’s Congressional delegation, notes several provisions of most concern.

On the proposal to treat tuition remission as taxable income, they write, “The proposed repeal of Section 117(d)(5) would lead to a completely unaffordable increase in taxable income and make the pursuit of a graduate degree much more challenging, if not impossible, for many of our students.”

The full announcement and letter can be read below: 

USM Chancellor and Presidents Share Concerns with Maryland Lawmakers About Tax Bill
Jointly Sign Letters to Each Member of Maryland Congressional Delegation

Adelphi, Md. (Nov. 17, 2017) – On behalf of the University System of Maryland (USM) Board of Regents, Chancellor Robert L. Caret and the presidents of USM’s 12 institutions have co-signed letters to each member of Maryland’s Congressional delegation, expressing their strong concerns regarding several proposed tax changes in H.R. 1, the Tax and Jobs Act.  The leaders of the state’s public higher education system specifically cite several the bill’s provisions, including the proposed elimination of certain tax benefits, that threaten the ability of students and families to pay for college. 

“This legislation comes at a time when lawmakers and the public are keenly focused on college costs and debt,” they write.  “The USM has worked to keep higher education affordable and student debt burden low.  H.R. 1, in its totality, goes against those ideals by eliminating tax benefits that help students and families pay for college, increasing institutional costs, and diminishing our ability to raise revenue which, in turn, disrupts budgeting and planning for students and institutions alike.”

The text of the letter, signed and sent individually to each member of the Maryland delegation, is below:

On behalf of the Board of Regents, Office of the Chancellor and the 12 institutions that comprise the University System of Maryland (USM) we are writing to express our concerns regarding several proposed tax changes in H.R. 1, the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act. The USM includes institutions with a variety of missions that would be individually and adversely impacted by the wide-ranging scope of proposed tax changes.

"This legislation comes at a time when lawmakers and the public are keenly focused on college costs and debt.  The USM has worked to keep higher education affordable and student debt burden low.  H.R. 1, in its totality, goes against those ideals by eliminating tax benefits that help students and families pay for college, increasing institutional costs, and diminishing our ability to raise revenue which, in turn, disrupts budgeting and planning for students and institutions alike."

The following provisions of H.R. 1 are of most concern to the USM: 

Individual student and family benefits 

The proposed elimination of the Student Loan Interest Deduction and the Lifetime Learning Credit would increase college costs for millions of undergraduate and graduate students across the US.  Separately, the modified American Opportunity Tax Credit proposed in H.R. 1 eliminates the ability of part-time students to claim an education tax credit while acquiring or improving job skills, the purpose of the Lifetime Learning Credit. 

Employee and graduate student benefits 

The bill would eliminate Section 127, a popular employer-provided benefit that allows an employee to exclude from income up to $5,250 per year in assistance for any type of educational course work at the undergraduate and graduate level. H.R. 1 also eliminates Section 117(d), which gives colleges and universities an important tool for recruiting and retaining valued employees. The elimination of these popular and bipartisan provisions in the tax code would have an immediate and adverse consequence on students and employers. 

Section 117(d), for instance, allows colleges and universities to lower the cost of tuition for their graduate students who are serving as teaching or research assistants without the tuition reductions counting as taxable income.  According to recent Department of Education data, nearly 55 percent of all graduate students have adjusted gross incomes of $20,000 or less and nearly 87 percent had incomes of $50,000 or less. The proposed repeal of Section 117(d)(5) would lead to a completely unaffordable increase in taxable income and make the pursuit of a graduate degree much more challenging, if not impossible, for many of our students. 

Charitable giving benefits 

In an era of tight state budgets, USM institutions have relied on the generosity of donations both large and small. H.R. 1 doubles the standard deduction and eliminates the charitable deduction for a significant number of taxpayers. The House bill would destabilize charitable giving to all nonprofit organizations and Maryland’s public universities would not be immune to the ramifications. 

Higher education financing benefits 

We are also concerned that the bill would eliminate Section 3602, which allows state and local governments to execute tax-exempt “advance refundings” of outstanding tax-exempt bonds. Tax-exempt advance refundings provide states and localities with an important tool for refinancing outstanding debt at lower interest rates and have generated many billions of dollars of interest savings over decades, lowering the cost of important infrastructure investments. Universities within USM have saved millions through tax exempt bond refinancing, lowering the cost of important building projects such as student housing, academic buildings, laboratory facilities, and more.   

State and local income tax benefits 

Another provision, which may have downstream impacts on public higher education, is the proposed elimination of the state and local income tax deduction (SALT). Maryland ranks #10 in the country for state and local tax collections.  This could make a challenging situation worse in the state’s effort to generate revenue to support public higher education. 

The USM, Board of Regents, Chancellor and institution presidents are committed to active and constructive participation with our national association partners in coming weeks as the tax reform proposal continues to take shape. We hope that you’ll help share our voice in the coming weeks with your colleagues and work with us to protect these important tax benefits for our students, our employees, and residents across the state of Maryland. 

 

UMD Astronomers Partner on Powerful New Automated Sky Survey

November 15, 2017
Contacts: 

Leon Tune, 301-405-4679

COLLEGE PARK, Md. -- University of Maryland astronomers are celebrating the first image of the sky taken by a new robotic camera with the ability to capture hundreds of thousands of stars and galaxies in a single shot. Astronomers refer to such a first image as "first light".  The camera is the centerpiece of a new automated sky survey project called the Zwicky Transient Facility (ZTF), based at California Institute of Technology's Palomar Observatory near San Diego, California.

Photo of 'first-light' image

Among the scientists partnering with Caltech in the project are UMD astronomers who made important contributions to the planning and design of it. UMD participation in ZTF is facilitated by the Joint Space-Science Institute, a partnership between UMD and NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, Maryland. Maryland scientists are looking forward to detections of new explosive supernovae, hungry black holes, hurtling asteroids and comets, and other astronomical phenomena that can be captured by ZTF’s new telescope-mounted camera during nightly scans of a large swath of the Northern sky.

“The ZTF survey will be transformative for the study of supermassive black holes feasting on stars in the centers of galaxies,” said Suvi Gezari, an assistant professor of astronomy at UMD and a fellow of the Joint Space-Science Institute whose research focuses on time-domain astronomy. “The timing of these events, known as tidal disruption events, can be used to constrain the mass and spin of black holes. Data from ZTF may also offer a rare, real-time glimpse into the formation of an accretion disk—and possibly relativistic jets—around a supermassive black hole.”  

From 2009 to 2017, the blinking and flaring of transient objects in the sky was captured by the Palomar Transient Factory (PTF), a predecessor to the new Zwicky Transient Facility (ZTF). The previous project took advantage of the Palomar Observatory’s three telescopes—the automated 48-inch Samuel Oschin Telescope, the automated 60-inch telescope and the 200-inch Hale Telescope.

During PTF's surveys, the Oschin Telescope acted as the discovery engine, then the 60-inch telescope followed up on the targets, gathering information about their identities. From there, astronomers used either the Hale Telescope, the W.M. Keck Observatory in Hawaii, or the Discovery Channel Telescope in Arizona to zoom in on the various cosmic phenomena that enliven our night skies.Photo of horsehead nebula

The powerful sequel to PTF is the new ZTF that is named after Caltech’s first astrophysicist, Fritz Zwicky. Zwicky discovered 120 supernovae in his lifetime. Recently installed at the Oschin Telescope, ZTF's new survey camera can take in seven times more sky in a single image than its predecessor. At maximum resolution, each ZTF camera image is 24,000 by 24,000 pixels—so huge that the images are difficult to display on a normal computer screen.

Additionally, ZTF's upgraded electronics and telescope drive systems enable the camera to take more than twice as many exposures every night. Astronomers will not only be able to discover more transient objects, they will also be able to catch more ephemeral features that appear and fade quickly.

"There's a lot of activity happening in our night skies," said Shrinivas (Shri) Kulkarni, the principal investigator for ZTF and the George Ellery Hale Professor of Astronomy and Planetary Science at Caltech. "In fact, every second, somewhere in the universe, there's a supernova that's exploding. Of course, we can't see them all but with ZTF we will see up to tens of thousands of explosive transients every year over the three-year lifetime of the project."

Images from ZTF will be adjusted, cleaned and calibrated at IPAC, Caltech's astronomy and data center. Software will search the flood of ZTF data for light sources—in particular those that change or move. These data will be made public to the entire astronomy community for both research and education.

“Data from ZTF presents a really great opportunity for students here at UMD, because large survey programs like ZTF will play a big role in the future of astronomy,” said Melissa Hayes-Gehrke, a principal lecturer and undergraduate director of astronomy at UMD. Hayes-Gehrke has led efforts to develop educational materials that make use of data from PTF and ZTF. “It is fantastic to get students in on the ground floor. Astronomers will be mining this data for years to come, so this is an important step to help prepare students for a career in research.”  

Photo of Orion constellation

ZTF's new first-light image is a taste of what's to come. It showcases the large scale of the images and highlights the turbulent star-forming nebula known as Orion.

Astronomers are excited for the unexpected findings that ZTF will likely yield. One of PTF’s biggest discoveries came in 2011 when it caught a supernova, named PTF11kly, just hours after it exploded. The ZTF survey will further expand astronomers’ knowledge of a host of cosmic objects, including young supernovae, planets around young stars, exotic binary star systems and near-Earth comets and asteroids.

“I am most excited for ZTF’s potential to catch interesting comet outbursts. We know that they happen, we just don’t know how often. Many are caught by amateur astronomers,” said Dennis Bodewits, an astronomy associate research scientist at UMD who specializes in comet research. “This will change with ZTF, which will pick up between 30 to 50 comets every time it scans the whole sky. Comets are found all over the sky, so we’re interested in seeing as many of them as we can, in as much detail as possible.”    


Photo: The Zwicky Transient Facility (ZTF) took this "first-light" image on Nov. 1, 2017, after being installed at the 48-inch Samuel Oschin Telescope at Palomar Observatory. The full-resolution version is more than 24,000 pixels by 24,000 pixels. Each ZTF image covers a sky area equal to 247 full moons. The Orion nebula is at lower right. Computers searching these images for transient, or variable, events are trained to automatically recognize and ignore non-astronomical sources, such as the vertical "blooming" lines seen here. Photo credit: Caltech Optical Observatories.

Photo: The Horsehead nebula can be seen in this portion of the "first-light" image from ZTF. The head of the horse (middle) faces up toward another well-known nebula known as the Flame. Violet to green wavelengths detected by ZTF are represented as cyan, while yellow to deep red wavelengths are shown as red. Computers searching these images for transient, or variable, events are trained to automatically recognize and ignore non-astronomical sources, such as the vertical "blooming" lines seen here. Photo credit: Caltech Optical Observatories. 

Photo: The "first-light" image from ZTF is shown here (inset) within the Orion constellation. The Orion nebula can be seen within the ZTF image. Each ZTF image covers an area of sky equivalent to 247 full moons. Such large images will enable the camera to scan the sky quickly to discover objects that move or change in brightness, such as asteroids and supernovas, even when rare and short lived. Photo credit: Caltech Optical Observatories. 

UMD Ranked in Top 10 for Innovation & Entrepreneurship Education for Third Straight Year

November 15, 2017
Contacts: 

Brooke Smith, 301-405-5882

COLLEGE PARK, Md. – For the third consecutive year, the University of Maryland has attained a top 10 ranking in The Princeton Review’s annual survey of the Top Schools for Entrepreneurship. In the 2018 rankings, released this week and featured in the December issue of Entrepreneur Magazine, UMD improved one spot to No. 8 for undergraduate entrepreneurship education overall and No. 4 among all public universities. This marks the seventh consecutive year that UMD has been named a top 25 program for entrepreneurship studies. 

Photo of stickies with various UMD partnerships

The recent string of top 10 rankings coincides with the UMD’s campus-wide presidential initiative aiming to engage all 38,000 students in innovation and entrepreneurship (I&E). This collaboration is spearheaded by the Academy for Innovation & Entrepreneurship (AIE) and engages partners in undergraduate studies, student organizations, social innovation, and not only business and engineering but all 12 schools and colleges. In 2016-2017, there were over 15,000 student enrollments in UMD’s 195 I&E-related courses representing over 50 different campus departments. 

“We talked to students from all over campus and discovered that they’re often forced to choose between either graduating on time or pursuing real-world projects or ventures they’re passionate about. We’re solving that problem by embedding I&E modules in more and more of the existing required general education and pre-requisite courses for various majors so that students no longer have to choose,” said Dean Chang, associate vice president for innovation and entrepreneurship at UMD and the head of AIE. “They get a small taste of innovation, real-world creative problem-solving, and entrepreneurship directly in the courses they were already going to take to graduate.”

The Princeton Review tallied its rankings for top entrepreneurship programs based on a survey it conducted from May through August 2017 of more than 300 schools offering programs in entrepreneurship studies. While most entrepreneurship rankings only include UMD’s extensive business or engineering entrepreneurship programs, The Princeton Review additionally reflects UMD’s unique efforts to engage all 38,000 students in I&E across all 12 colleges and schools. 

The 60-question survey looked at each school’s commitment to entrepreneurship studies inside and outside the classroom. More than 40 data points were analyzed for the rankings. Among them were the percentage of faculty, students, and alumni actively and successfully involved in entrepreneurial endeavors, the number and reach of mentorship programs, and funding for scholarships and grants for entrepreneurial studies and projects.  

For more information on The Princeton Review and Entrepreneur’s rankings, visit www.entrepreneur.com/topcolleges. To learn more about innovation and entrepreneurship at UMD, visit innovation.umd.edu/learn

 

 

 

 

 

 

University of Maryland Start-Up Company Grip Boost Inc. Goes Global

November 13, 2017
Contacts: 

Alana Coyle, 301-405-0235

COLLEGE PARK, Md. - University of Maryland start-up company Grip Boost Inc., which developed its grip enhancing gel technology at the university, will now be distributing Grip Boost Batting Gel worldwide. The company has announced that Lizard Skins, a global manufacturer and distributor of sports accessories, has become the product’s exclusive worldwide distributor.

A product of the UMD entrepreneurship ecosystem, Grip Boost’s patent-pending technology was originally invented by the Complex Fluids and Nanomaterials Group in UMD’s A. James Clark School of Engineering.

Former Maryland Football tight end Matt Furstenburg teamed up with engineering graduate students Chanda Arya and Kevin Diehn to spearhead the creation of Grip Boost. With the help of UMD’s Maryland Technology Enterprise Institute and Office of Technology Commercialization, the team filed for a patent on the technology and began customer research into its target market segments. After receiving strong customer feedback, the Grip Boost team set out to develop the technology into a commercial product through seed funding and mentorship from the Dingman Center for Entrepreneurship at the Robert H. Smith School of Business.

“To see the technology move from idea to prototype to a top-rated product across multiple sports has been remarkable,” says Harry Geller ’81, successful entrepreneur and business mentor to Grip Boost Inc. “Grip Boost is a prime example of what is possible when students’ entrepreneurial passions flourish with the support of the entire UMD community.”

The Grip Boost gel technology was initially invented to restore grip to football gloves. After gaining strong traction with football players across the country, the Grip Boost team set out to bring its clean grip technology to athletes in other sports.

The team added UMD chemical and biomolecular engineering alumnus Alex Langrock and soon released a reformulated version of the product for baseball players. The Grip Boost Batting Gel is a quick drying, alcohol-based gel that aims to give batters the extra grip and bat control they need without the mess of traditional grip enhancers, such as pine-tar. With product in hand, the team began showcasing their new baseball gel at tournaments and tradeshows across the country where they met Lizard Skins, the official bat grip supplier of MLB.

“When we first met Grip Boost we were very excited and enthralled by their product and knew that this was a product we wanted to be associated with,” said Brad Barker, general manager of Lizard Skins.

“We are extremely excited about this partnership,” said Kevin Diehn, executive vice president of Grip Boost. “Over the past 5 years, Lizard Skins has revolutionized baseball at all levels with their innovative grip products. Through their sales and distribution networks, we will put the Grip Boost batting gel into the hands of elite players across the country. This partnership is an enormous milestone for Grip Boost Inc. and the University of Maryland community has provided us with tremendous support through each stage of our growth.”

 

University of Maryland Receives Top Prize at APLU Innovation & Economic Prosperity University Awards

November 13, 2017
Contacts: 

Jessica Jennings, 301-405-4621

COLLEGE PARK, Md. – The University of Maryland was honored for its contributions to the economic development of the community at the 2017 Innovation & Economic Prosperity (IEP) University Awards by the Association of Public and Land-grant Universities (APLU). As winner of the Economic Engagement Connections Award, IEP’s top prize, and the Place Award. UMD is the first two-time winner of the Connections Award, and the first institution to garner both a category award and the Connections Award in the same year. The award winners were announced at the the 2017 APLU Annual Meeting on Nov. 12, 2017. 

Photo of President Loh at APLU AwardsUMD was recognized mainly for its Greater College Park initiative, a $2 billion public-private investment to rapidly revitalize the Baltimore Avenue corridor and academic campus, which includes dynamic academic spaces, a public-private research hub and vibrant downtown community. The Greater College Park initiative is the result of cooperative work among the City of College Park, Prince George’s County, the State of Maryland, private developers and the university. 

UMD took the top honor, the Connections Award, which recognizes the institution that is doing the most to build connections across all categories of economic engagement — innovation and entrepreneurship, talent development, and social, community, and cultural development. UMD also won the Place Award, which focuses on universities excelling in community, social, and cultural development work, including launching the nation’s first ‘Do Good’ campus. 

“Our close working relationship with College Park is helping us create a destination for research partners and families looking for a vibrant home,” said University of Maryland President Wallace D. Loh. “We are deeply gratified to receive this double honor. It validates our growing success.”

In 2015, UMD was also honored with the top-prize Connections Award, and was a finalist for the Talent Award for the university’s partnership with Northrop Grumman to build a talented pipeline of students in cybersecurity. 

A key component of the partnership between UMD, the city and county is the College Park City-University Partnership. The partnership serves an important role in creating a sense of place, including a homeownership program that provides incentives for university and city employees who become homeowners in College Park; and a public charter school, the College Park Academy. 

As part of the Greater College Park initiative, UMD debuted the Discovery District in 2017, encompassing more than 150 acres that stretch from Baltimore Avenue to the research-rich and metro-accessible community along River Road. Discovery District is the epicenter of academic, research and economic development as home to the research park formerly known as M Square, and features amenities like The Hotel at the University of Maryland and the The Art Walk. In addition, a new $2 billion Purple Line light rail system crossing the campus and Discovery District will link UMD and College Park to a set of economically diverse cities 10 miles to the east and west of campus.  

For additional information on the APLU and the IEP University Awards, visit https://go.umd.edu/iepuniversityprogram

 

UMD-Born Company Gets $1.2M Investment from New Maryland Momentum Fund

November 10, 2017
Contacts: 

Lee Tune, 301-405-4679

COLLEGE PARK, Md. – MF Fire, a University of Maryland-born start-up company offering clean-energy efficient wood stoves at an affordable cost, is the recipient of $1.2 million – the first investment from the recently established Maryland Momentum Fund offered by the University System of Maryland (USM).

The USM Board of Regents created the $25 million fund in 2016 to enable the system to invest in and support promising commercial opportunities arising from advances in research and intellectual property at USM campuses. Other critical sources of money in the $1.2 million funding round include Bill Clarke, a leading clean tech investor.

Photo of UMD alumni Ryan Fisher and Taylor MyersMF Fire was started by students in the  University of Maryland Department of Fire Protection and Engineering (FPE), which offers the only fully accredited undergraduate program of its kind in the U.S.

In 2012, UMD Fire Protection Engineering students Ryan Fisher (B.S. ’12, M.S. ’13, FPE) and Taylor Myers (B.S. '12, M.S. '14, FPE; B.S. '12, astronomy) were challenged with developing an eco-friendly “next-gen wood stove.” Together, the duo assembled a team and created a wood-burning stove, dubbed Catalyst, that differs from traditional models in that, utilizing ‘smart’ technology, users can control the stove’s temperature remotely from a phone or tablet. The internal sensors of each stove allow wood to burn more efficiently, so it lasts longer and burns nearly 60 times cleaner. They licensed the technology from the university and formed their company in 2014.

Fisher - the company COO - and Myers – the CTO – have teamed up with 28-year business veteran and entrepreneur Paul LaPorte (CEO) to develop a commercial model for the company.

“With our Catalyst smart wood stove, MF Fire is pushing the bounds of what is possible in wood heat. For the first time, consumers can expect a clean, safe, efficient and effortless wood stove experience – something totally familiar, yet completely modern,” said LaPorte, the MF Fire CEO. “We have reimagined wood fire as a clean energy source, and used state-of-the-art fire science and technology to bring that vision to life – one that deserves a prominent place, whether in a modern smart home, or a rural cabin.”

The team was excited to learn about the USM investment opportunity.

“There aren’t many venture capital funds in this area, so we applied immediately,” said Fisher.  “We actually pitched our idea to the Maryland Momentum Fund twice, and were thrilled when we heard about their investment.”

David Wise, a longtime regional business innovator now serving as director of the Maryland Momentum Fund said, “We are very excited to have MF Fire as the initial investment from the Momentum Fund. The company offers an efficient product based on combustion science and it emerged out of a center of excellence at the University of Maryland.”

Fisher and Myers are both originally from Frederick County. They went to school at the University of Maryland and then started their business in Baltimore.

“It’s definitely a point of pride for us to keep this entire process so close to home,” Fisher continued.  “We plan to use the funds to increase the visibility of MF Fire around the U.S. and Canada, and to aid in the development of a second product, which will be lower cost and available next winter.”

View a video demonstration of MF's wood stove at https://go.umd.edu/woodstove

 

University of Maryland Dedicates A. James Clark Hall, Transforming Region’s Biotech Corridor

November 10, 2017
Contacts: 

Jessica Jennings, 301-405-4621

COLLEGE PARK, Md. – The University of Maryland dedicates the new A. James Clark Hall today, a 184,000-square-foot facility that will catalyze engineering innovation and bioengineering breakthroughs and serve as a hub for new partnerships and collaborations throughout the Baltimore-Washington region. A. James Clark Hall is the only space in the nation dedicated to bioengineering and the translation of health-related products that incorporates FDA-funded Centers of Excellence in both Regulatory Science and Pediatric Device Innovation.

 

Photo of exterior of A. James Clark Hall“Great ideas will turn into life-changing devices and biomedical treatments in this magnificent research building,” said University of Maryland President Wallace D. Loh. “Our students, faculty, researchers and partners will have what they need to produce bioengineering marvels, as well as advances in other fields.”

 

Made possible by the generosity and vision of the late A. James Clark, an alumnus and long-time supporter of the university; the State of Maryland; alumnus and biomedical pioneer Robert E. Fischell; and other donors, Clark Hall will help UMD attract the best and brightest students and faculty to make groundbreaking research possible. The building offers flexible classrooms, an innovation lab, capacity for collaborative student projects and nearly 40,000 square feet of state-of-the-art research laboratories.  

 

“My father felt the University’s decision to name the School of Engineering after him was the most meaningful honor he would ever receive,” said Courtney Clark Pastrick, board chair of the A. James & Alice B. Clark Foundation. “I think he would be humbled to have this cornerstone of innovation named in his honor. Our family is proud of its potential to truly transform the future of education and health in our world.”

 

Clark Hall is designed to facilitate collaboration and advance cross-disciplinary work. At the heart of the building’s first floor lies the Leidos Innovation Lab, supported by a donation from the Leidos Corporation. The lab provides 6,800 square feet of space for students to work together on cross-disciplinary research and designs, and features overhead utilities, digital displays and movable workbenches, creating an ideal environment for collaboration.

 

Instructional laboratories and prep areas throughout the building will spur the organic flow of ideas, and a prototyping/fabrication lab will enable innovators to produce instant prototypes of their designs. Two flex classrooms will allow faculty to transform their space into lecture-style rows or small clusters of group tables. Student club rooms will give student startups, competition teams and other groups ample space to develop their ideas and innovations.

 

“Clark Hall embodies the future of multidisciplinary engineering with human impact,” said Darryll J. Pines, dean of the Clark School and Farvardin professor of engineering. “Our engineers have a long history of life-changing innovations, from the implantable insulin pump to 3-D printed vascular grafts. These state-of-the-art facilities will create the next generation of engineers who will advance human health worldwide, transforming millions of lives.”

Photo of interior of A. James Clark Hall

Interior of A. James Clark Hall

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Clark Hall will provide world-class research facilities to the Fischell Department of Bioengineering and the Robert E. Fischell Institute for Biomedical Devices, dedicated to the research and development of new technologies to promote human health. Thanks to the vision and financial support from Fischell, bioengineering has become one of the university’s fastest-growing undergraduate degree programs.

 

"At the center of the region’s biotech corridor, Clark Hall will offer new opportunities for engineers across all eight disciplines to connect with experts from the University of Maryland School of Medicine on innovations that will change the course of human health for decades to come,” said Fischell Family Distinguished Professor and Bioengineering Department Chair John Fisher. “In this way, researchers from both the College Park and Baltimore campuses can utilize resources housed within Clark Hall to tackle challenges in areas ranging from cancer therapeutics and diagnostics to rehabilitation robotics and tissue engineering.”

 

A dedicated instructional lab will house top-notch equipment for a broad range of applications, and an imaging suite with cutting-edge technologies that will allow close examination of the body and brain. A bioengineering computational lab will give UMD engineering students and researchers unprecedented modeling and computing power for critical tasks.

 

Clark Hall will also serve as a hub for new partnerships across the region, bringing students and faculty together with experts from venture firms, research labs, technology companies and federal agencies, to inspire new technologies and improve human health.

 

A high-tech dynamic forum will be available to host national and international conferences, lectures and seminars, and educational programming aimed at convening the broader engineering community. Conference rooms on each floor and the commons and terrace space will provide additional areas for collaboration.

 

The legacy of A. James Clark at the University of Maryland extends beyond Clark Hall. The late A. James Clark never forgot that his business successes began with an engineering scholarship at the University of Maryland. In October 2017, the university announced an unprecedented $219.5 million investment from the A. James & Alice B. Clark Foundation. Building Together: An Investment for Maryland will increase college access and affordability, inspire the next generation of engineering leaders and spark innovation that tackle today’s most daunting problems.

 

Clark Hall is also made possible by the generosity of T.K. Patrick and Marguerite Sung, Lawrence C. and Melanie Franco Nussdorf, Ronald and Karen Lowman, Rajan and Sandhya Mittu, and Pepco Holdings, Inc.

 

For more information about A. James Clark Hall, visit http://eng.umd.edu/james-clark-hall.

 

For photos of A. James Clark Hall, visit https://go.umd.edu/clarkhallphotos.  

 

What People Are Saying About Clark Hall

Robert E. Fischell: "I was pleased to be able to provide a substantial gift to the School of Engineering to start the Fischell Department of Bioengineering and the Robert E. Fischell Institute for Biomedical Devices to encourage future engineering students to create wonderful new medical devices for the benefit of all mankind."

Roger Krone​​, ​Leidos Chairman and CEO: “The Leidos mission ​to make the world safer, healthier and more efficient requires an innovative workforce. ​Leidos proudly supports the University of Maryland’s Fearless Ideas Campaign, further equipping the nation’s future engineering labor pool by using our cutting-edge Leidos Innovation Lab on the first floor of the new A. James Clark Hall.”

T.K. Patrick and Marguerite Sung: “As strong proponents of innovation to enhance human health, we were excited to invest in A. James Clark Hall. We are thrilled to be part of this spectacular building project and look forward to hearing about the many ways Maryland engineers will help improve the human condition through bioengineering solutions.”

Lawrence Nussdorf: “Jim Clark was a builder. He leaves his mark on the building he built, the company that bears his name, the region he helped change, the personal values he passed down to those of us lucky enough to work for him and the good works and young students he endowed and mentored.”

Ron and Karen Lowman: “For an excellent program to continue to succeed, it needs to be continually enriched with the best students, a superior faculty, innovative ideas and improved facilities. We are proud to be a small part of moving the Clark School forward to future success.”

Rajan and Sandhya Mittu: “When we were at the Clark School in the 80’s, there was nothing like Clark Hall. We feel very fortunate that we are able to fund an InTerp Suite, to help aspiring entrepreneurs build their companies.”

 

 

Pages

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