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UMD Student Team Wins HUD Affordable Housing Competition

April 23, 2018
Contacts: 

Maggie Haslam, 202-258-8946

COLLEGE PARK, Md. - An interdisciplinary team of University of Maryland real estate, planning, business and architecture graduate students took first place in the fifth annual HUD Innovation in Affordable Housing Student Design and Planning (IAH) Competition 2018. The UMD team initially beat out over 40 teams from graduate-level programs across the U.S. for a finalist slot for their project named “Beacon Crossing,” a mixed-income, multi-age affordable housing project that doubles as a community asset. 

“There is still a great need for quality affordable housing throughout the country,” said UMD real estate graduate student Daniel Green. “Beacon Crossing utilizes best practices from across the industry in terms of financing, social services, design and sustainability. Applying these innovative techniques can serve as a model for creating quality housing across the country.”

Team Maryland HUD winnersThe UMD team includes: Sacheen Scott (M.C.P.), Nathan Robbins (MRED, M.B.A.), Lauren Gilmartin (M.ARCH, M.C.P.), Daniel Green (MRED) and Adan Ramos (M.ARCH, MRED). Maria Day-Marshall, Director of the Real Estate Development Program at UMD and Rob McClennan, AIA, from Bonstra | Haresign Architects are the team’s advisors. 

The IAH competition is based on the philosophy that ideas and innovations from the next generation of professionals are essential to fulfilling the need for affordable, sustainable housing. The competition challenges interdisciplinary, graduate-level teams to address the social, economic and environmental issues that surround a real-world housing problem in the United States, by creating innovative and original solutions through development, design and finance. 

This year’s competition asked teams to design a 154-unit housing complex, in Dover, N.H., that caters to senior citizens and adults with disabilities. The site challenges include increasing the density of the site and balancing the number of dwellings with communal supports, such as common areas, office space, security and a high level of accessibility. Beacon Crossing’s universal design placed attractive community amenities—which include a YMCA, grand plaza and community center—within the heart of the complex, a boon not just to residents but to the surrounding community, a deliberate move to draw people from the outside in. 

“I think what set our design apart was that we took the time to understand the needs of the residents and the greater community,” said Green. “By locating such strong community amenities on site, we hope to eliminate the stigma of affordable housing and foster interactions and relationships across socio-economic lines.” 

Creating connection was also the goal behind the innovative social programming planned for the site, geared specifically to its multi-generational, multi-ability population. A signature social service program, Beacon Buddies and Care, is a peer-to-peer support program that provides meals, housekeeping and wellness checks for community members with the most needs. Unlike typical congregate housing programs that rely on hard-to-attain federal funding, the program would be financed through a mix of voluntary monthly fees from residents, operating revenue and a social services reserve account, allowing the program to begin serving residents more quickly. 

Creative financing also won the day by solving a critical project financing gap, a result of the small pool of low income housing tax credits (LIHTC) available in New Hampshire. By proposing a paired LIHTC structure, the project could take advantage of both low-income housing credits and non-competitive credits simultaneously. 

"The team did an absolutely phenomenal job,” said Day-Marshall. “Not only did they present an innovative, comprehensive project, they delivered an exceptionally professional presentation. The fact that they knew the project inside and out allowed them to really engage the jury, which I think set them apart in the competition."

This is the first time the University of Maryland has won the HUD Innovation in Affordable Housing Student Design and Planning (IAH) Competition and the second time it has placed in the finals. A team of students took second place and a $10,000 prize in 2016. This year’s winning team won $20,000. 

It felt great to have our hard work recognized,” said Real Estate and Business student Nathan Robbins. “It’s a nice final chapter for me at Maryland as I approach graduation this May.”

Learn more about the IAH competition here. 

 

UMD Announces Inventions of the Year Winners and Celebrates Ventures, and Partnerships

April 20, 2018
Contacts: 

Lee Tune, 301-405-4679

COLLEGE PARK, Md. – Innovations with the potential for better, cheaper electric vehicle charging,  life-changing impact in health outcomes and more reliable facial detection software have been named the University of Maryland 2017 Inventions of the Year winners.

Although electric vehicles are becoming increasingly popular, they have yet to reach widespread adoption as manufacturers aim to reduce costs. One reason electric vehicles are expensive is because they have two batteries which require two different charging systems. UMD researchers have invented a new interface for electric vehicle charging that condenses previous charging mechanisms into one system. The interface is over 50 percent cheaper and lighter, almost 40 percent smaller, and 8 percent more efficient. Their Integrated Power Electronics Interface for Enhanced Electric Vehicle Charging was named the Overall Invention of the Year Winner and the winner in the Physical Sciences category.

The inventors are: Alireza Khaligh, associate professor in the Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering and Institute for Systems Research at the A. James Clark School of Engineering; Jiangheng Lu, graduate student in the Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering at the A. James Clark School of Engineering; and Ayan Mallik, graduate student in the Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering at the A. James Clark School of Engineering

A Flexible Urinary Catheter Insert to Detect and Prevent Bacterial Infections was the winner in the Life Sciences category.  Urinary tract infections are the most commonly reported health-care associated infection, and over 75 percent of reported cases involve the use of a catheter. Catheter-associated UTIs develop when bacterial biofilms form on the surface of an indwelling catheter. UMD researchers have invented a catheter insert which can detect and prevent the formation of biofilms and can treat the infection when combined with an antibiotic.

The inventors are: Ryan Huiszoon, Ph.D. student in the Fischell Department of Bioengineering at the James A. Clark School of Engineering; Pradeep Rajasekaran, post-doctoral researcher with the Institute for Systems Research (ISR); and Reza Ghodssi, Herbert Rabin Distinguished Chair in Engineering in the Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering at the A. James Clark School of Engineering and ISR

The winner in the Information Sciences category was a Robust System for Large Scale Facial Verification and Search.  Facial recognition software has steadily gained popularity over the past decade, but its unreliability and tendency to produce false-positives make it problematic for widespread adoption. However, UMD researchers have recognized the potential for face-detection software adoption in many industries and have invented a new software which uses deep convolutional neural networks to analyze images, producing vastly better results than previous software.

The inventors are: Rajeev Ranjan, graduate student with the UMD Institute for Advanced Computer Studies (UMIACS) at the College of Computer, Mathematical, and Natural Sciences;

Carlos Castillo, assistant research scientist at UMIACS; and Ramalingam Chellappa, Distinguished University Professor and Minta Martin Professor of Engineering and chair of the Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering at the A. James Clark School of Engineering.

Since 1987, UMD has honored exceptional inventions that have the potential to make an important impact on science, society, and the free market. The Invention of the Year award finalists are selected from prior year invention disclosures in three categories: Physical Sciences, Life Sciences, and Information Sciences. A panel of judges selected one invention from each category to win the 2017 Invention of the Year Award. Julie Lenzer, associate vice president for innovation and economic development and co-director of UM Ventures, presented the awards.

Innovate Maryland

The Inventions of the Year  were announced on April 11 at Innovate Maryland, an annual event hosted this year at The Hotel at the University of Maryland. More than 400 faculty, students, staff, and campus partners gathered to celebrate groundbreaking research, innovations, entrepreneurship, and partnerships connected to the University of Maryland. More than a dozen startup companies borne from UMD research were featured in a showcase, with products ranging from a smart wood stove and a living green patio umbrella to an electronic home plate and mobile personal air conditioner. Prior to the awards program, the UMD Office of Technology Commercialization hosted a CEO Mixer to help connect faculty entrepreneurs with serial entrepreneurs in search of their next venture opportunity.

Several other recognitions were made at the event, including:

  • The Advanced Cybersecurity Experience for Students (ACES) honors program was noted as the UMD Corporate Connector of the Year. The award is given each year to an individual or a program in the university that has established partnerships with the private sector in corporate research, philanthropy, and/or student support.\
  • MF Fire Inc., a Baltimore-based startup company selling CatalystTM, a smart, clean, modern wood burning stove based on technology developed at UMD was given the Maryland Technology Enterprise Institute (Mtech) Venture of the Year award, which recognizes excellence in innovation by leveraging University of Maryland-originated new knowledge or technology to solve real world problems.

 

 

 

Gossett Family Makes Historic $21.25 Million Gift to the University of Maryland

April 19, 2018
Contacts: 

Katie Lawson, 301-405-4622 

COLLEGE PARK, Md. - The University of Maryland announces a $21.25 million gift from Barry and Mary Gossett to establish an innovative, three-part support model for the academic success of student-athletes. The Barry and Mary Gossett Center for Academic and Personal Excellence aims to ensure the development of UMD’s student-athletes in both athletics and academics. In collaboration with the Office of the Provost, the Gossett Center will provide student-athletes with the foundation needed to be successful global citizens and make a positive transition to life after college.

“Demanding athletic schedules pose unique challenges to student-athletes, causing barriers to internships and part-time jobs that help students develop important skills during their time in college,” says Gossett, a University System of Maryland regent and former chair of the Board of Trustees for the University of Maryland College Park Foundation. “Because of that, we were drawn to the idea of providing student-athletes with the real-life experiences they need to help them succeed in their future careers beyond athletics.”

“This remarkable gift will give our student-athletes the best support available to succeed academically, further their personal growth and tackle the unique challenges they face,” said University of Maryland President Wallace D. Loh. “Barry and Mary Gossett have always been there for our students, but their generosity and vision in funding this center will leave a lasting imprint on young lives.”

The center will focus on a critical gap in collegiate student-athlete development—career transition and professional success post-graduation, addressing the fact that few student-athletes go on to play their sport professionally. The Gossett Center will significantly enhance and expand programming offered through what is currently called the Academic Support and Career Services Unit in the Department of Intercollegiate Athletics. 

Gossetts with student athletes“Through their contributions to the university’s Incentive Awards Program, our business and engineering schools, the Do Good initiative and more, the Gossetts have time after time shown their commitment to the academic success of all UMD students,” said UMD’s Senior Vice President and Provost Mary Ann Rankin. “We are grateful that the Gossett Center will provide the same type of specialized support to our student-athletes as we provide for many other student populations on campus, such as veterans and first generation college students, among many more.”

The Gossett Center will assist students as they take an active role in their education alongside their athletic and academic support team, and leverage other university resources. To provide this holistic development, the center will focus on a three-part model:

  • The Path: The center’s unique model will begin with activities and programs a student-athlete needs to succeed academically and personally while participating in athletics. From developing personal, career and development goals to participating in an enhanced internship program, students-athletes will follow the Path to graduate on time and with the skills needed to be successful in their futures. Building upon the current “InTERPship Academy,” rising junior student-athletes will have the opportunity to be selected for the Gossett Fellows Program.
    Gossett Fellows participate in paid summer internships that will give them real-world experience in their area of interest while still taking part in their sport.

  • The Bridge: Graduating student-athletes can struggle with the transition into professional careers. With the Bridge, students will have access to mentors who will help prepare them to pursue their goals after graduation. In addition, Gossett Fellows may receive a Gossett Award to support the next chapter of their professional careers, from graduate school to service trips to starting ventures.

  • The Horizon: After working through their individualized career plan, gaining work experience through internships and being carefully guided by mentors, the Horizon for student-athletes focuses on giving back to current students. Alumni will remain a part of the center’s programming after graduation through the TERPS Career Network, an electronic platform that connects current and former student-athlete graduates, complemented by career fairs and other campus events. In addition, these former student-athletes can serve as mentors to current student-athletes and contribute to the program that paved the way for their personal and professional success.

“We are committed to supporting our student-athletes not only through our premier athletic program, but by producing graduates who are prepared to serve as leaders in local, state and global communities,” said Damon Evans, executive athletic director. “Through the programs provided by the Gossett Center, we will be positioned better than ever to recruit and retain world-class athletes by supporting their athletic and academic careers from the moment they step on campus to well after graduation.”

This historic investment comes as the university plans to launch its capital campaign next month, of which Gossett generously serves as a campaign co-chair. 

The Gossett Center programs are planned to begin implementation in fall 2018.

 

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

 

 

 

 

New UMD Report Shows Planning for Future Uncertainties is Key to a Thriving Region

April 18, 2018
Contacts: 

Maggie Haslam, 202-258-8946

COLLEGE PARK, Md.—The University of Maryland’s National Center for Smart Growth (NCSG) has released a report that outlines four possible future scenarios for the Baltimore-Washington region and how they might impact quality of life across the state. The landmark, five-year project, Prospects for Regional Sustainability Tomorrow (PRESTO), reveals how regional responses to large-scale, uncertain phenomena—such as autonomous vehicles, high fuel prices and government regulation—could impact economic, social and environmental health. On April 18th the report will be reviewed by Maryland Governor Larry Hogan and regional stakeholders at the Smart Growth @ 20 workshop in Annapolis. 

“PRESTO is part of a long-standing effort at the National Center for Smart Growth to promote smarter and more sustainable development using science and advanced computer models at the mega regional scale,” said Dr. Gerrit-Jan Knaap, Director of the NCSG. “This allows us to go beyond micro scale issues such as walkable neighborhoods, transit-oriented development and opportunistic land preservation to larger scale systemic issues such as transportation technology, energy prices and regional development patterns. What’s more, it is clear that there is no organization that is addressing these issues in the Baltimore-Washington area at this critical scale.”

Using a highly sophisticated, interconnected modeling suite, PRESTO is one of only a handful of global efforts to simulate future conditions by playing out how “driving forces” could potentially shape an area. Focusing on land use change, mobility, equity and environment, PRESTO presents a baseline scenario which projects a continuation of current growth management and four alternative futures that the Baltimore-Washington region may face in 2040: high-level automation (nicknamed “Revenge of the Nerds”), high-tech sustainability (“Blue Planet”), deregulation (“Free for All”) and scarcity (“Last Call at the Oasis”). 

The future scenarios offer radically different outcomes for the region: 

  • The Revenge of the Nerds scenario envisions a region dominated by low fuel prices and new technology, as well as relaxed government regulation. The popular adoption of autonomous vehicles increases highway capacity and dramatically reduces congestion compared to the baseline. Increased mobility and relaxed regulation on development creates an exodus from city suburbs into more rural areas. 
  • Last Call at the Oasis shows a very different future, where high gas prices spur investments in transit and strict land use controls, concentrating both households and jobs in the inner suburbs and creating lower levels of pollution. 
  • Hands-off government sets the tone in Free for All. Low government regulation, coupled with lower fuel prices, results in development encroaching into farms and forests; this scenario sees an increase in housing affordability, but also air pollution and nutrient loads. 
  • Blue Planet provides the most sustainable scenario, where high fuel prices, in turn, fuel investments in transit and renewable energy, spurring local governments to increase housing capacity in the inner suburbs.

                                                                             Presto Image Simulations

While each scenario presents different outcomes, several common themes emerged. According to PRESTO researchers opening housing capacity and increasing affordability in the inner suburbs will have positive impacts on several sustainability indicators. In addition, the inevitability of emerging technologies requires a robust, well-represented group—including urban planners—at the development table to ensure that innovations, capacity and infrastructure are properly aligned. However, both road and transit investments must be made carefully and strategically. Transit investments outside the beltways, for instance, would be less impactful than within the core. Environmental impacts such as air pollution and land preservation look to be very complex balances and will require sound, thoughtful policy.

“Because we tested some extreme infrastructure and land use options, we have gained new insights into their intended and unintended consequences,” said Uri Avin, research professor at NCSG. “These are the building blocks for future strategies that are robust enough to cope with a changing world.”

While the idea of PRESTO is not to predict which future will come true, researchers hope it will help guide policymakers in how they prepare. The approach taken by the researchers stresses the importance of accounting for the uncertain conditions that policymakers may encounter along the way. The report also sets the stage for formulating alternative, more sustainable scenarios for the region, which include identifying and promoting policy decisions that could boost sustainable practice.

Learn more about PRESTO and read the full report, here.

 

UMD Researchers Revive Old Chemistry to Create Safer Zinc Battery

April 18, 2018
Contacts: 

Melissa L. Andreychek, 301-405-0292

COLLEGE PARK, Md. —  A team of researchers from the  University of Maryland's A. James Clark School of Engineering have created a water-based zinc battery that is simultaneously powerful, rechargeable, and intrinsically safe. The new aqueous zinc battery could eventually be used in consumer electronics, as well as in extreme conditions to improve the performance of safety-critical equipment and vehicles used in aerospace, military, and deep-ocean environments. 

Together with colleagues at the U.S. Army Research Laboratory (ARL) and National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST), UMD engineers used metallic zinc – an element used in 1799 in the very first battery – to crank up the energy of their own 2015 advance in battery technology. That previous UMD advance used a novel and safe water-in-salt electrolyte to replace the flammable organic electrolyte used in conventional lithium-ion batteries.

Salt Water Battery Researcher

The team’s peer-reviewed paper based on their latest research was published April 16 in the journal Nature Materials.

"Water-based batteries could be crucial to preventing fires in electronics, but their energy storage and capacity have been limited – until now. For the first time, we have a battery that could compete with the lithium-ion batteries in energy density, but without the risk of explosion or fire," says Fei Wang, a jointly appointed postdoctoral associate at UMD's Clark School and ARL, and first author of the paper.

Fei Wang cites numerous, highly publicized battery fires in cell phones, laptops, and electric cars as examples of the clear need for a safer battery that can provide comparable, or even better, performance than current lithium-ion batteries.

The team’s new highly concentrated aqueous zinc battery also overcomes disadvantages of conventional zinc batteries, such as: the capacity to endure only limited recharging cycles; the damaging growth of tree-like crystal structures, known as dendrites, during usage and recharging; and the sustained water consumption that results in the need to regularly replenish the batteries’ electrolyte with water.

"Existing zinc batteries are safe and relatively inexpensive to produce, but they aren't perfect due to poor cycle life and low energy density. We overcome these challenges by using a water-in-salt electrolyte," says Chunsheng Wang, UMD professor of chemical and biomolecular engineering and corresponding author of the paper.

Through their collaborations, the researchers identified the fundamental cause in zinc batteries of irreversibility – a phenomenon observed in rechargeable battery usage where the amount of charge a battery can deliver at the rated voltage decreases with use – and found a novel solution. 

"Because most water molecules in the new electrolyte are strongly bonded by the highly concentrated salt, the water in the aqueous zinc battery's electrolyte will not evaporate in an open cell,” explains Chunsheng Wang. “This advance revolutionizes zinc–air batteries, which are powered by oxidizing zinc with oxygen from the air, such as those used in energy grid storage." .

Joseph Dura, a physicist at NIST and co-author of the paper says, "Zinc batteries would provide a powerful and inexpensive means of energy storage if they could be rechargeable. This research uncovered ways to control which molecules in the electrolyte surround the ions that move back and forth in a battery when storing and releasing energy. Here, the co-authors applied this knowledge to make a highly rechargeable zinc battery which could offer a low-cost, safe alternative for consumer electronics, cars, and electrical grid storage." 

The research team says this battery technology advance lays the groundwork for further research, and they are hopeful for possible future commercialization.

"The significant discovery made in this work has touched the core problem of aqueous zinc batteries, and could impact other aqueous or non-aqueous multivalence cation chemistries that face similar challenges, such as magnesium and aluminum batteries," says Kang Xu, ARL fellow and co-corresponding author of this paper.

 

Two UMD Faculty Elected to American Academy of Arts and Sciences

April 18, 2018
Contacts: 

Alana Coyle, 301-405-0235

COLLEGE PARK, Md. – Two University of Maryland faculty members have been elected to the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, one of the nation’s oldest and most prestigious honorary societies. David C. Driskell, distinguished university professor emeritus of art, and Elaine S. Oran, Ph.D., Glenn L. Martin Institute professor of engineering, are among 213 new members of the academy being recognized for their accomplishments as scholars, scientists, writers, artists, and civic & philanthropic leaders. 

David C. Driskell

Driskell is known for his poignant work as an artist and scholar. He has had an active career as a practicing artist, teacher, curator, collector, art administrator and art consultant. He is known for curating the exhibition, "Two Centuries of Black American Art: 1750-1950" at the Los Angeles County Museum of Art—the first comprehensive survey of African American art. He has lectured globally and his works are included in major collections of art museums across the world. In 2001, UMD established the David C. Driskell Center to honor Driskell and preserve the rich heritage of African American visual art and culture. As a leading authority on African American art, he has received numerous fellowships, awards, and accolades including the Harmon Foundation Fellowship, three Rockefeller Foundation Fellowships, and thirteen honorary doctoral degrees in art.

Elaine Oran

Oran is widely recognized for her contributions to the advancement of science and engineering. She pioneered computational technology for the solution of complex reactive flow problems, unifying concepts from science, mathematics, engineering and computer science in a new methodology. Oran has received many awards and honors, including the Fluid Dynamics Prize of the American Physical Society, the Zeldovich Gold Medal of the Combustion Institute and the Society of Women Engineers Achievement Award. In addition, Oran is also a member of the National Academy of Engineering, which is among the highest professional distinctions in the industry. She has also published extensively in journals, and her research has garnered significant media coverage. 

Driskell and Oran joins other distinguished notables in the 2018 Class, including Supreme Court Justice Sonia M. Sotomayor, 44th President of the United States Barack H. Obama, author Ta-Nehisi Coates, and philanthropist and entrepreneur Laurene Powell Jobs. Driskell and Oran’s election into the Academy this year brings the total number of UMD faculty who are members of academies to 56.

“Membership in the Academy is not only an honor, but also an opportunity and a responsibility,” said Jonathan Fanton, president of the American Academy. “Members can be inspired and engaged by connecting with one another and through Academy projects dedicated to the common good. The intellect, creatively and commitment of the 2018 Class will enrich the work of the Academy and the world in which we live.”

The new class will be inducted at a ceremony in October 2018 in Cambridge, Massachusetts. 

The full list of the newly elected members is available at www.amacad.org/members.

 

Reverend Jesse Jackson and Peter Neufeld to Headline Social Justice Celebration at University of Maryland

April 16, 2018
Contacts: 

Jennifer Burroughs, 301-405-4621

WHAT:

The University of Maryland will host its 2nd annual Social Justice Day, a campus-wide event for faculty, staff, students and our community. As part of a day-long series of events and discussions on key social justice issues, Innocence Project Co-Founder Peter Neufeld will deliver the morning keynote, and the Reverend Jesse Jackson will deliver the closing keynote. 

For the full agenda, please visit: www.umd.edu/social-justice-day

Members of the university community and general public can register at www.umd.edu/social-justice-day. Tickets are required for the closing keynote by the Rev. Jesse Jackson.  

WHEN:

April 23, 2018, 8:30 a.m. - 6 p.m. 

WHERE:

Opening Keynote, Expert Panel and Social Justice Fair

Adele H. Stamp Student Union
Grand Ballroom
3972 Campus Drive, College Park, MD 20742
Location: go.umd.edu/3hY

Closing Keynote by Rev. Jesse Jackson 

Memorial Chapel
7744 Regents Drive, College Park, MD 20742
Location:  go.umd.edu/3hM 

Note: All broadcast cameras must be in place at the closing keynote by 2:30 p.m

MEDIA RSVP:

Space at each event is limited. Media should RSVP by Friday, April 20. Media will be required to show their credentials at media check-in. 

PARKING:

Media are encouraged to utilize on campus parking facilities that are open to the public. Campus Parking Map: go.umd.edu/3nX

AUDIO:

A mult-box audio feed will be available at the Memorial Chapel for the closing keynote.

 

Kevin Anderson, Athletic Director since 2010, leaves University of Maryland

April 13, 2018
Contacts: 

Katie Lawson, 301-405-4622

The Athletic Director of the University of Maryland, Kevin Anderson, announced today that he will leave the University.

Mr. Anderson has led Maryland Athletics since 2010. He facilitated the institution’s move to the Big Ten Conference and led the Terps to six national championships and 12 appearances in the finals of national championships.

He led significant initiatives that enhanced the student-athletes’ academic success, personal development, and career development.

“I’m grateful for all that Kevin has done to support our student-athletes to be successful in the classroom, on the field or court, and in life,” said UMD’s President Wallace Loh. “I wish him every success in his future endeavors. I know he’ll inspire many more student-athletes for years to come.”

Last fall, Mr. Anderson announced that he would take a professional leave of absence to work on student-athlete leadership development. He will continue to pursue his passion for advancing the well-being of young men and women. Mr. Anderson wrote the following letter to Intercollegiate Athletic staff: go.umd.edu/3nT.

A national search for Maryland’s next Athletic Director will begin in the coming weeks. Executive Athletic Director Damon Evans has led Maryland’s Athletic Department during the past six months. He has agreed to continue in this role until the appointment of the new Athletic Director.

University of Maryland Launches Smart and Connected Communities Initiative for Baltimore Avenue

April 13, 2018
Contacts: 

Natifia Mullings, 301-405-4076

COLLEGE PARK, Md.-- University leaders, local government officials, community partners and academic researchers recently launched a new collaborative initiative aimed at using smart and connected technologies to improve the safety, engagement, accessibility and quality of life along the College Park areas of the Baltimore Avenue (Route 1) Corridor. Sponsored by the National Center for Smart Growth (NCSG) and the College of Information Studies (iSchool), with support from the Office of the Provost, the Baltimore Avenue Connected Communities Initiative will pool the University’s collective “smart cities” research, and, working with local jurisdictions, apply them within communities across the corridor. 

“There is so much cutting-edge research happening all over campus, but there haven’t been many opportunities to understand what other people are doing or explore ways to collaborate,” said Gerrit-Jan Knaap, Director of the NCSG. “This initiative is designed to bring researchers and communities together and see where we can align community needs with research and technology in development at UMD.”  

Nearly 100 stakeholders and academics gathered on April 5 to participate in a workshop’s collective ideas exchange and lay the foundation to engage research with community investment. Representatives from College Park, Hyattsville, Riverdale Park, Berwyn Heights and Prince George’s County spoke about their cities’ challenges, but also the barriers to entry when it comes to implementing smart technology. 

“When it comes to smart technologies, we don’t know what we don’t know,” added Steve Beavers, Community Development Coordinator for College Park. “An event like this, where we can see the whole range of opportunity and understand smart city challenges as issues we face together, that’s when we start moving the ball forward.” 

“This workshop is about creating connections and sharing ideas,” added Keith Marzullo, Dean of the iSchool. “To create a living research corridor on Baltimore Avenue, we need to begin by working with communities to understand needs and opportunities.” 

Having a greater understanding of the work being done by 17 different UMD researchers from seven different schools and colleges, in areas including transportation, data analytics, health equity, urban agriculture, environmental science, disaster resilience, the built environment and the arts, has already offered NCSG and the iSchool great insight into how other initiatives are impacting communities. This includes the work of NCSG’s West Baltimore Smart Community Engagement project, funded by a grant from the National Science Foundation, and the Baltimore City initiative, which includes faculty from Morgan State University and the University of Baltimore, is working closely with community stakeholders and residents to target the challenges specific and unique to their neighborhoods. 

“You can’t just cut and paste what other cities do,” explained Sokwoo Rhee, Associate Director of the Cyber-Physical Systems Program at National Institute of Standards and Technology. “Each city, each neighborhood has different needs. But, a lot can be replicated. This is exactly the kind of collaboration I like to see; at the end of the day, you want to create something scalable that can be replicated in other places.”

The NCSG and iSchool is now working to develop a plan for implementing smart city technologies on the Baltimore Avenue corridor. They also hope this will result in opportunities to engage other Maryland communities with smart city-related research and innovation. The process will continue to be a collaboration with the community and a valuable opportunity to meet community needs while studying the impact of these technologies. 

For updates, visit the NCSG website at http://www.umdsmartgrowth.org/.

 

 

UMD Researcher Uncovers Lyme Disease Protein Used to Outsmart the Human Immune System

April 10, 2018
Contacts: 

Samantha Watters, 301-405-2434

COLLEGE PARK, Md. -- A University of Maryland (UMD) researcher has uncovered information on how the bacteria that causes Lyme disease persists in the body and fights early, innate immune responses. 

Professor of Veterinary Medicine Utpal Pal, Ph.D., who has been studying Borrelia burgdorferi, the bacteria that cause Lyme disease, for 12 years, and his team have isolated a protein produced by the bacteria that disables one of the body’s first immune responses, giving insight into mechanisms that are largely not understood. Pal has previously produced a protein marker used to identify this bacterial infection in the body. has major implications for the treatment of tick-borne diseases, such as Lyme disease, which is an increasingly chronic and consistently prevalent public health issue. 

“Most people don’t realize that they are walking around with more bacterial cells in their bodies than their own cells, so we are really bags of bacteria,” explains Pal. “Most [bacteria] are good, but the second your body detects something that is a pathogen that can cause disease, your immune system starts to work.” 

Once disease causing bacteria are detected, the body’s immune system sends a nonspecific wave of attack to kill the invaders. This can happen within a few hours or take days. If this doesn’t work, it takes the immune system seven to 10 days to discover the ‘enemy’ and to send a second wave of reinforcements, specifically targeting the bacteria to kill. 

“Lyme disease is actually caused by your immune system,” explains Pal. “[Borrelia burgdorferi]  bacteria win the first battle, and your body overreacts so much that it causes intense inflammation in all the joints and areas that the bacteria spreads to…. Borrelia is then killed, but the inflammation remains and causes many of [the] symptoms for Lyme disease. That is why killing Borrelia in the first wave of immunity is so important.”

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) estimate about 300,000 cases of Lyme disease annually in the United States and the numbers have been on the rise locally and across the country.

“The majority of all vector-borne diseases in the US are actually tick-borne, and 6 of the 15 distinct tick diseases are transmitted by the Ixodes tick we study in our lab,” says Pal. “The symptoms of these diseases present similarly to many other illnesses and are hard to pin down, so they are vastly underreported and an even bigger public health concern locally and globally than people realize.” Now, chronic Lyme disease is a growing concern. Six to twelve months after traditional antibiotic therapy, many people have non-objective symptoms that return with varying intensity and no current treatment strategy, known as Post-Treatment Lyme Disease Syndrome.

Professor Pal’s research has shed some light on this issue and paved the way for future research and treatment options by discovering that even without the protein used to beat the first wave of immune defense, infection can reoccur in the body weeks later. “This means there is a second line of defense for Borrelia just like for our body’s immune system. This had never been observed before and gives us insight into what could be causing these chronic Lyme disease cases,” explains Pal.

Pal is frequently consulted for his expertise and has written books on this highly versatile bacteria. He currently holds two concurrent multi-million dollar RO1 grants from the National Institutes of Health (NIH) for his work on tick-borne diseases. “I am fascinated by Borrelia, and this discovery will open the door for much more work to treat and control important diseases like Lyme disease,” says Pal.

Pal’s paper, Plasticity in early immune evasion strategies of a bacterial pathogen, is published in the Proceedings of the National Academies of Science.

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