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University of Maryland Announces Unprecedented Investment from the A. James & Alice B. Clark Foundation

October 4, 2017
Contacts: 

Jessica Jennings, 301-405-4618
Kerry-Ann Hamilton, 202-215-0131 

COLLEGE PARK, Md. - The University of Maryland announced today a transformative investment of $219,486,000 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 innovations that tackle today’s most daunting problems. 

Photo of President Loh, Dean Hines, Clark Foundation holding scroll with investment amount This investment, the largest in UMD history and among the largest to a public research institution in the 21st century, will propel UMD and the A. James Clark School of Engineering to the forefront of education and research by establishing and funding an array of need-based scholarships, graduate fellowships, distinguished faculty chairs and operational and capital projects. 

“This investment is historic in scope and transformational in impact, and I do not say this lightly,” University of Maryland President Wallace D. Loh said. “Access to higher education is essential, if we are to solve urgent national problems. Creating this path for the most promising students in engineering and other fields may well prove to be Mr. Clark’s greatest legacy.” 

“Without question, my dad loved the University of Maryland,” said Courtney Clark Pastrick, board chair of the A. James & Alice B. Clark Foundation. “College Park was instrumental in educating and equipping him as an engineer and successful businessman. However, his legacy is in his community engagement and generosity. Our family and the Foundation look forward to seeing the impact of this gift in the decades to come.” 

"Thousands of University of Maryland students already wake up in dorms or study in academic halls that bear the mark of the Clark name," said Maryland Governor Larry Hogan. "Today, the Clark

Photo of James Clarkspirit of generosity is on full display yet again. With this new investment in STEM education, the Clark family and the Clark Foundation are ensuring that this university continues to be a national and global leader, where the next fearless idea is developed."

The gift was announced at an event today with Loh, Pastrick, Governor Hogan, Mrs. Alice B. Clark, Clark Foundation President Joe Del Guercio, Maryland Speaker of the House Michael Busch, and Chancellor of the University System of Maryland Robert Caret. More than 150 students who have received previous scholarships from the Clark Foundation were also in attendance. 

Increasing College Access & Affordability 

Access to an affordable college education to promising students has guided the Clark family’s longstanding investments. New scholarships and fellowships made possible by this donation build on the Foundation’s—and Mr. Clark’s—fundamental belief in connecting effort with opportunity, by helping those who demonstrate determination and perseverance. 

The Clark Challenge for Maryland Promise, a campus-wide scholarship matching program that engages the philanthropic community, aims to generate a $100 million fund to support students with financial need. In partnership with the university, the Clark Challenge grant will catalyze support from alumni and friends to ensure an education for high-performing students with the greatest need.

Building Together: An Investment for Maryland will also help expand the Clark Opportunity Transfer Scholarship Program, which supports transfer students from Maryland community colleges to pursue their engineering education at UMD. The investment will also support high-performing undergraduate engineering students with financial need with the launch of the A. James Clark Scholars Program, the Foundation’s signature academic program combining engineering, business, leadership and community service. At the University of Maryland, A. James Clark Scholars will also participate in the National Academy of Engineering’s Grand Challenges Scholars Program, charging students to solve some of engineering's greatest challenges in the 21st century, from sequestering carbon to reverse-engineering the brain. 

Building the Next Generation of Engineering Leaders 

“This investment will transform the university, and especially engineering,” said Clark School Dean and Farvardin Professor of Engineering Darryll J. Pines. “For today’s engineering students, this gift promises not only to open doors to a world-class engineering education, but also to inspire hearts and empower minds through the example set by Mr. Clark. By learning about the industry leader and philanthropist, students will feel driven to develop solutions to help people lead better lives.” 

The investment will fuel innovation that paves the way for engineering excellence at UMD by expanding the Clark School’s innovative research through programs, facilities and by recruiting promising students and faculty. The investment will also substantially increase the number of graduate fellows through the establishment of the Clark Doctoral Fellows Program. 

Solving Today’s Problems 

Building Together: An Investment for Maryland will also enable UMD to support faculty working in the interdisciplinary fields that are critical to the knowledge-based economy of the future, such as data analytics, neuroscience, virtual and augmented reality, and cybersecurity. 

Funded by the Foundation, five Clark Leadership Chairs with shared appointments in colleges across campus will conduct important cross-cutting research on emerging issues that are most pressing to the future of our global society. The Foundation will also establish eight Clark Distinguished Chairs, faculty positions that directly address the most critical research areas set forth by the 2020 Strategic Plan for the Clark School. 

To learn more about Building Together: An Investment for Maryland, visit buildingtogether.umd.edu. 

What People Are Saying About This Transformative Investment 

Photo of Clark's daughter at podium during event“For generations, public universities like the University of Maryland have opened doors to students with high potential and promise,” said Joe Del Guercio, president and CEO of the Foundation. “We know that cost remains a barrier for too many students especially first-generation college students. The Clark Foundation is committed to ensuring that college is both accessible and affordable; as a result, need-based aid and financial support to students are a cornerstone of this investment.” 

“One of the most important contributions to the quality, stature, and impact of a major university is its faculty. The Clark Leadership Chairs will make it possible to attract and retain the very best people in critically important fields such as neuroscience, virtual reality, cybersecurity, and big data—fields that are key to solving our greatest societal issues,” said Mary Ann Rankin, Senior Vice President and Provost of UMD. “The A. James & Alice B. Clark Foundation’s investment in Clark Leadership Chairs will catapult the university forward in these critically important fields, while touching programs across the entire university.” 

Building Together: An Investment for Maryland Programs

  • The Clark Challenge for Maryland Promise: Gifts from other donors in support of this new program will provide need-based scholarships to hundreds of students every year from all majors. If fully matched, this program aims to generate a $100 million fund to support students with financial need.
  • A. James Clark Scholars Program: A new program providing scholarships to 40 high-performing engineering undergraduates. Reflecting the Clarks’ commitment to the local community, priority will be given to in-state students.
  • Clark Opportunity Transfer Scholars Program: The endowment of a pilot program which will provide need-based scholarships to 40 engineering majors coming from Maryland community colleges.
  • Clark Distinguished Chairs: The creation of eight faculty chairs for stellar engineering researchers that directly address engineering’s most critical research areas, such as additive and advanced manufacturing, autonomy and robotics, and energy and sustainability.
  • Clark Leadership Chairs: The establishment and endowment of five faculty chairs throughout the campus in interdisciplinary fields that are critical to the knowledge-based economy of the future, such as data analytics, neuroscience, virtual and augmented reality, and cybersecurity.
  • Clark Doctoral Fellows Program: An endowment supporting 30 additional first-year doctoral fellowships, allowing the Clark school to increase research productivity and graduate more outstanding Ph.Ds every year.
  • New engineering building: A new space that secures the university’s stronghold in engineering innovation by helping recruit and retain world-class faculty and facilitating collaborations between disciplines with institutional and business partners.
  • IDEA Factory: An expansion of the Clark School’s signature Jeong H. Kim Engineering Building which will foster innovation with new cutting-edge labs, start-up space, and areas dedicated to cross-disciplinary research.
  • Mpact: The 125th Anniversary Fearless Ideas Mpact Challenge is the A. James Clark School of Engineering’s “moonshot” engineering program to spur innovative engineering research solutions. Commemorating the school's 125th Anniversary in 2019, this program provides funding for Clark School teams to develop solutions to engineering problems and innovations in engineering research that have the potential to improve the lives of millions of people.  

Photo of UMD students who received a Clark ScholarshipPhoto of

UMD Launches Center for Diversity and Inclusion in Higher Education

October 3, 2017
Contacts: 

Jessica Jennings, 301-405-4618

COLLEGE PARK, Md. - The University of Maryland announced the launch of the new Center for Diversity and Inclusion in Higher Education, a national hub for research, policy, professional standards, and consultation for universities on critical issues related to diversity and inclusion in higher education. 

“Issues of diversity and inclusion are rippling through colleges and universities across the country, including our own,” said UMD Senior Vice President and Provost Mary Ann Rankin. “The Center for Diversity and Inclusion in Higher Education will not only provide cutting-edge, innovative research on these key issues, but will serve as a resource to our higher education colleagues at UMD and well beyond.” 

The Center will bring together key faculty from UMD and other major universities, and major national higher education associations, to form a high level think-tank and research center for diversity and inclusion issues across the country and abroad in higher education. 

Housed in the Counseling, Higher Education, and Special Education Department of the College of Education, the Center will be led by Executive Director Roger L. Worthington, interim associate provost and chief diversity officer, and professor; and Director Candace M. Moore, assistant clinical professor. 

“We will engage with a broad range of thought leaders with expertise in diversity, equity, and inclusion in higher education representing diverse communities, governmental agencies, higher education institutions, and international partners to set an ambitious agenda for the development and distribution of research, scholarship, and best practices,” said Worthington. “We will work with colleges and universities to think through critical issues and develop customized plans to help move them forward.”

The Center aims to foster collaborative and interdisciplinary research among faculty, staff and students at the local, national, and international level; and promote, support, and showcase diversity and inclusion scholarship. Researchers will engage in critical reflection on the significance and transformative impacts of diversity and inclusion practices in higher education, and communicate the results of such research and reflection to national and international audiences. 

“By drawing on the expertise of faculty in the College of Education and across the university, the Center will provide consultation and guidance to other higher education institutions regarding diversity and inclusion,” said College of Education Dean Jennifer K. Rice. “The Center will establish a national research agenda around diversity issues in higher education and through consultation and conferences, ensure that our research informs and is informed by policy and current issues related to inclusion on campuses.” 

The Center plans to recruit postdoctoral fellows and doctoral-level graduate assistants nationally to collaborate on all Center activities; and develop and facilitate an online curriculum related to diversity and inclusion in higher education. The Center will also convene a biennial national summit of thought leaders, as well as a biennial national conference, to identify and summarize the highest priority issues, findings, and recommendations nationally regarding diversity and inclusion in higher education.

UMD Libraries Makes University History More Accessible

October 2, 2017
Contacts: 

Eric Bartheld, 301-314-0964

COLLEGE PARK, Md. -- The University of Maryland Libraries has made a large volume of archived issues of The Diamondback, the long-running independent student newspaper on campus, available on a fully searchable database. Historic issues, dating from 1910 to 1971 have been digitized in phase one of the two-part project. 

The university’s student newspaper was published under different names from 1910 through 1921. The first issue of The Diamondback was published on June 9, 1921. Issues of all eight student papers can be searched by keyword, name, decade, date and more, allowing viewers to scan through page layouts showing headlines, articles, and photos.

“This is a dream come true,” says retired University Archivist Anne Turkos, who for years advocated for an online database and spearheaded a fundraising campaign to support its creation. “Previously, researchers had to visit campus and locate articles bound in giant volumes or preserved on microfilm. This database opens Maryland history to readers worldwide.”

Scores of donors, including former Diamondback writers and editors, contributed to a crowdfunding campaign, started in 2015, which raised more than $30,000 for the project. A second fundraising campaign launches this November to complete phase two of the project – digitizing issues published after 1971.

The project draws on expertise of the University Libraries, which has digitized more than 200,000 pages of historic newspapers from the State of Maryland, using funding from the National Endowment for the Humanities. Those newspapers are freely accessible on the Library of Congress’ Chronicling America website.

For more detailed information about this project, search strategies, and special features of the database, please visit University Archives.

 

Snowball Nominations Process Drives Membership in International Scientific Panel, Reports UMD Study

October 2, 2017
Contacts: 

Sara Gavin, 301-405-1733

COLLEGE PARK, Md.— Policymakers rely on the work of international scientific panels and assessments to inform their decisions on complex scientific issues such as genetic engineering and climate change. New research from the University of Maryland (UMD) explores how the nominations process for this type of organization works, and how it may influence who serves on other, similar global scientific bodies.

Photo of international scientific panel membershipDr. Dana R. Fisher from the UMD Department of Sociology and Dr. Philip Leifeld from the University of Glasgow studied membership recruitment for the Millennium Ecosystem Assessment (MA), which synthesized research on ecosystem services between 2001 and 2005, utilizing the knowledge of 1,360 expert members. Fisher and Leifeld discovered that nominations to the MA were largely driven by pre-existing membership in other international organizations, as well as by personal relationships. Their findings were published September 25 in Nature Climate Change.

“Essentially, we discovered a snowball nomination process that skews participation in favor of scientists who are already engaged in global organizations,” Fisher said. “While there is certainly a risk associated with putting all the agenda- and composition-setting power in the hands of a few transnational elites, we also found this structure is not necessarily harming the quality of work or diversity of scientists represented in the assessment.”

Despite the cyclical nominations process, the researchers found that neither gender nor field of expertise were statistically over- or under-represented in the MA’s membership. They also determined that some core individuals in leadership roles were particularly influential in shaping the group’s overall composition.

Congress is currently debating whether to continue to fund the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), which is preparing to issue its sixth assessment report on the latest climate change research. Fisher and Leifeld note that the IPCC’s nominations process is similar to the MA’s, but not identical. Even with the differences, the researchers say there is much to learn from their findings about how recruitment to these assessments is related to who eventually serves.

“We need to look more closely at how nominations occur and what criteria are used to ensure that the best possible scientists are brought into these assessments,” said Leifeld.  Fisher adds:  “Transparency is key to making science better and more effective in shaping policy.”


Photo: Memberships of the 361 respondents as red nodes; 21 international organizations as green nodes; membership ties shown as black lines.

University of Maryland to Announce Transformative Investment, Oct. 4

September 29, 2017
Contacts: 

Natifia Mullings, 301-405-4076

COLLEGE PARK, Md. -- The University of Maryland will announce a transformative investment in the university on October 4. In a first of its kind announcement, university and government officials will unveil the investment in a celebration event for the campus community.  

WHO:

Larry Hogan, Governor, State of Maryland
Wallace Loh, President, University of Maryland
Michael Busch, Speaker, Maryland House of Delegates
Robert Caret, Chancellor, University System of Maryland
University of Maryland students, faculty and staff

WHEN:

October 4, 2017, 10:30 a.m. 
Media with video or still cameras should arrive for check-in and be set up by 9 a.m. 
All additional media should arrive prior to the event start time.

WHERE:

Samuel Riggs IV Alumni Center
Dorothy D. & Nicholas Orem Alumni Hall
7801 Alumni Dr., College Park, MD 20742
Location: https://go.umd.edu/po2

PARKING:

Parking will be available in Lot 1. Media should RSVP to secure complimentary parking.

MEDIA CHECK-IN:

Media will be required to show identification and credentials at the media check-in table outside of Orem Alumni Hall prior to entering the event. 

AUDIO:

A mult-box audio feed will be available at the event.

 

UMD Student Team Selected as a Finalist in the 2017 Collegiate Inventors Competition

September 29, 2017
Contacts: 

Leon Tune, 301-405-4679

COLLEGE PARK, Md. -- A team of engineering students from the University of Maryland’s Department of Materials Science and Engineering (MSE) has been selected as one of six undergraduate team finalists in the 2017 Collegiate Inventors Competition for their invention of “Stretchable Silicon Photovoltaics.” 

Photo of UMD studentsThe UMD team,  and their invention of thin, flexible solar cells designed to open up “a new era of wearable and renewable power generation,” will compete against teams from Johns Hopkins University, Stevens Institute of Technology, the University of Virginia, Georgia Tech and the University of Iowa in the finals at this year’s competition, held from November 1-3 at the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office in Alexandria, Virginia. Gold, silver and bronze prizes of up to $10,000 will be awarded to support patenting of the top three inventions.

Hundreds of students from across the country apply each year for the Collegiate Inventors Competition, which targets college-level inventors and encourages entrepreneurship. The competition was founded by the National Inventors Hall of Fame and is sponsored by the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office. 

Sabrina Curtis, a MSE master’s student in a 5 year combined B.S./M.S. degree program, originated the idea for the UMD team’s invention, drawing on her research in stretchable electronics at the U.S. Army Research Laboratory, combined with her UMD materials science and engineering specialization in  "materials for energy.”  

“The average U.S. soldier carries about 16 pounds of batteries while in the field," said Curtis. "Our group at the Army is interested in developing stretchable power devices for wearable electronics. Our [UMD team] Stretchable Photovoltaics are a way to enable renewable wearable power, which would allow convenient charging of smart electronics directly from your clothes.”

Curtis then pitched her idea as the focus for an Advanced Micro-fabrication course taught by MSE Professor Gary Rubloff during the fall 2016 semester. Curtis and classmates Alex Randolph, Haotian Wang, Maria Pascal, Julia Downing and Joseph Ayoub developed an initial prototype.

The project’s initial success allowed for its continuation as a 2017 Capstone Senior Design project offered by MSE Professor and Chair, Raymond Phaneuf.  Further development during that project led to the team’s acceptance into the Collegiate Inventors Competition.  

A total of nine UMD students have worked on the invention, including the four “co-inventors, Curtis, Randolph, Anfinrud and Wang, who made the “direct intellectual contributions” to the intellectual property (IP) rights of the invention. These four co-inventors, who received their bachelor’s degrees in May 2017, form UMD’s team for the Collegiate Inventors Competition.  Teams  of students who enter the competition as undergraduates or within one year of graduation are placed in the Undergraduate Competition category

“I’d like to also thank [staff] John Abrahams, John Hummel, Tom Loughrah and Mark Lecates of the UMD Nanocenter without whom this project would not have been possible,” Curtis said.


Photo (from l to r): UMD teammates Gabriel Anfinrud, Sabrina Curtis and Haotian Wang. 

 

UMD Organizes Virtual Food Drive to Provide Hurricane Relief and Local Food Access

September 28, 2017
Contacts: 

Ceylon Mitchell, 301-852-3042

COLLEGE PARK, Md. - The University of Maryland Office of Community Engagement and the University of Maryland Alumni Association will partner with Food Recovery Network (FRN), Amp Your Good, and the #GiveHealthy Movement to help alleviate food insecurity in Prince George’s County and provide food supplies to areas devastated by Hurricanes Harvey, Irma and Maria. 

From Sept. 27 to Oct. 28, 2017, UMD faculty, staff and students, as well as the local community, will participate in a virtual food drive aimed at providing over 5,000 pounds of fresh produce to those in need. Modeled by the #GiveHealthy Movement, the virtual food drive provides an alternative to traditional in-person food drives that are limited to non-perishable donations. The drive allows individuals to select items from a curated list of healthy foods created by various hunger organizations. These items are purchased online and delivered directly to organizations once the drive is complete.

“The type of non-perishable food items typically collected during a traditional food drive are sometimes highly processed, nutrient deficient food,” said CEO Pat O'Neill, of Amp Your Good, a co-founding partner of #GiveHealthy. “Offering our communities a virtual food drive ensures that those who struggle with hunger will get the healthy food they really need.”

The UMD virtual food drive will function similarly to #GiveHealthy. Half of the donated food will support Hurricane relief and the other half will benefit the Christian Life Center in Riverdale Park, Maryland. At the recommendation of FRN, a UMD-founded and student-driven nonprofit fighting food waste and hunger, Hungry Harvest will provide fresh produce to the Christian Life Center. 

“According to national research, an estimated 129,000 individuals in Prince George's County face food insecurity," said Regina Northouse, FRN executive director. "These individuals are not sure where their next meal is coming from or if it will happen at all." 

“We recognize the need for communities to unite in response to health inequity and tragic disaster. This food drive provides such an opportunity,” added Gloria Aparicio Blackwell, Office of Community Engagement director.

The food drive will conclude on Oct. 28, during UMD’s homecoming game against Indiana University. The community can also make in-person food donations from 12:30-3:30 p.m. at Riggs Alumni Center. Virtual food drive donations can be made by visiting go.umd.edu/Virtual-Food-Drive.

 

UMD Awarded U.S. Department of Commerce Grant to Launch Immersive Media Innovation Ecosystem

September 28, 2017
Contacts: 

Elise Carbonaro, 301-405-6501

COLLEGE PARK, Md.—From catching Pokémon in the real world to donning a virtual reality headset to see and feel what it was like to scale the Berlin Wall before its fall, advancements in immersive media have set the stage for the next digital revolution. The University of Maryland will lead this revolution with the launch of the Mixed/Augmented/Virtual Reality Innovation Center, called MAVRIC, which has been awarded a $500,000 grant from the U.S. Department of Commerce Economic Development Administration (EDA). 

“We are already leaders in this dynamic, growing field, and the project promises to make our entire region a national hot spot for immersive media development,” said University of Maryland President Wallace D. Loh. “It will become an economic and technological boon to Maryland, Virginia, and Washington, D.C.”

Co-funded by the university and the EDA’s Regional Innovation Strategies program i6 Challenge Grant award, MAVRIC will build on university assets such as the new Brendan Iribe Center for Computer Science and Innovation, as well as other relevant assets across the region. The center will aggregate and accelerate the research and training capabilities of universities in region, the direct needs and projects of the corporate and public sector, and the innovation engine of startup and small businesses to advance mixed, augmented, and virtual reality technologies in three select verticals: media, simulation and training, and arts and entertainment. 

Immersive media is used to describe virtual reality, augmented reality, and mixed reality. Many industries are using immersive media as the next iteration of their business, as evident in the surge of 3-D video and virtual reality use in industries other than gaming. For example, immersive media has the potential to change the way viewers experience the news, a movie, or a sporting event. Beyond media and entertainment, immersive media technology is being used to transform training for medical clinicians, manufacturing operators, military and public safety professionals. 

UMD is home to a robust research and technology infrastructure to support MAVRIC, including the Mid-Atlantic Crossroads (MAX), which provides high-speed access and cutting-edge network capabilities; the Augmentarium, an interactive computer visualization lab; the Virtual Reality Cave, which is used to advance the integration of wearables and sensors, and study human performance and human error within high-stress situations; and the forthcoming Brendan Iribe Center for Computer Science and Innovation, which will feature six floors of specialized labs to support groundbreaking research in virtual and augmented reality, 360-degree video, artificial intelligence, robotics, computer vision, algorithms, programming languages and systems.

“Innovation is a significant driver of growth for the U.S. economy, and immersive media technology is poised to disrupt several key industries,” said UMD Associate Vice President for Innovation and Economic Development and MAVRIC Principal Investigator Julie Lenzer. “MAVRIC is well-positioned to emerge as the east coast hub of immersive media, and we will power that drive with a community-based, collaborative approach to commercializing these technologies.” 

The center also aims to ensure a strong pipeline of diverse talent in the region. To stock this pipeline, the center will partner with higher education institutions such as Morgan State University and Coppin State University to promote and support school-based and community special interest clubs related to the field to harness the creativity of science, technology, engineering, arts and math (STEAM) students in underserved urban and rural communities. Additionally, MAVRIC will partner with the university and local businesses to shape the creation of a new immersive media curriculum to prepare graduates for jobs in the field. 

“MAVRIC will foster the development of immersive media technologies by building a network of influencers and executive champions, supporting the participation of traditionally underrepresented groups and providing the strategic support needed to build a successful technology cluster,” said MAVRIC Program Director Lucien Parsons. 

In addition to Lenzer and Parsons, the MAVRIC team includes collaborators UMD Interim Vice President for Research and Professor of Computer Science Amitabh Varshney and Philip Merrill College of Journalism Associate Dean for Academic Affairs and Master’s Program Director Rafael Lorente. Associate Professor of American Studies Sheri Parks serves as MAVRIC’s community engagement liaison. 

Externally, the team was able to collect a record 54 support letters from regional and national stakeholders. Interest and support was offered from investors, other universities and the state as well as private sector companies of all sizes, from startups to multi-national corporations.

The i6 Challenge grant was awarded through the Regional Innovation Strategies (RIS) program, a national and highly competitive program which is led by the EDA’s Office of Innovation and Entrepreneurship. The i6 Challenge competition fosters the development of centers for innovation and entrepreneurship that accelerate the commercialization of innovations and ideas into companies, jobs, products and services.  

 

Statement from the University of Maryland in Response to Recent JCRC Petitions - September 2017

September 27, 2017
Contacts: 

Katie Lawson, 301-405-4622

While the university is barred by law from commenting on specific personnel cases, we can strongly affirm our commitment to supporting our vibrant Jewish community on campus, home to one of the largest Jewish student populations in the country. We have a robust scholarly portfolio of Jewish studies and academic collaborations and exchanges with Israeli institutions, and an unwavering commitment to free speech. 

The university does investigate matters of discrimination and retaliation through the Office of Civil Rights and Sexual Misconduct. Diversity and inclusion are core values of our institution, and these values will and must be upheld.

UMD-Led Project Awarded $3M NSF Grant to Study Big Data Ethics

September 26, 2017
Contacts: 

Mia Hinckle, 301-405-1260

College Park, Md.--  The University of Maryland was recently awarded a $3 million grant from the National Science Foundation to explore the ethics of how big data are captured and used. Led by UMD’s College of Information Studies, the four-year research project, titled PERVADE (Pervasive Data Ethics for Computational Research), will study issues surrounding user consent, risk assessment and regulations. The project aims to provide guidance to policymakers, regulators and tech developers to help drive the development of a new, more ethical, norm in big data collection and usage.

“Whether mobile phone apps, website search engines, wearable technology or social platforms, consumer information has become highly trackable and available,” said Dr. Katie Shilton, associate professor at UMD and principal investigator on the grant. “This has resulted in an ethically questionable free-for-all in research and marketing.”

The PERVADE team will focus on consumers, big data researchers, commercial providers and regulators--domestically and internationally--to explore how these diverse stakeholders understand their ethical obligations and choices, and how their decisions impact data system design and use. More specifically, the team’s research will examine how people experience the reuse of their personal data; what social factors influence people’s willingness to share their data; how and when consent should be given; and how consumers’ concerns can be shared with data system designers and big data researchers.

“By empowering researchers with information about the norms and risks of big data research, we can make sure that users of any digital platform are only involved in research in ways they don’t find surprising or unfair,” said Dr. Shilton.

The PERVADE team is a multi-disciplinary team of researchers with expertise in computational science, research ethics, data practices, law and policy, health information, social computing, qualitative and quantitative research methods and data privacy. The team consists of Dr. Katie Shilton, College of Information Studies at the University of Maryland College Park, Dr. Jessica Vitak, College of Information Studies at the University of Maryland College Park, Dr. Matthew Bietz, Department of Informatics at the University of California, Irvine, Dr. Casey Fiesler, Department of Information Science, College of Media, Communication and Information at University of Colorado Boulder, Dr. Jacob Metcalf, Data & Society Research Institute, Dr. Arvind Narayanan,  Department of Computer Science at Princeton University, and Dr. Michael Zimmer, School of Information Studies at the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee.

The team intends to provide best practices for each stakeholder group along with decision-support tools, risk measurement methods, public educational materials and an open dataset of findings by the end of the project in 2021.

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