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WeWork to Open First Maryland Location on University of Maryland Campus

March 30, 2018
Contacts: 

Katie Lawson, 301-405-4622
Mary Jennings, 501-920-6844

 WeWork Office RenderingWeWork Office Rendering

COLLEGE PARK, Md. - Adding to the growing momentum in Prince George’s County, WeWork, a global leader in coworking with more than 200 locations in 21 countries around the world, has selected College Park for its first location in the State of Maryland. As part of a new partnership model, this will be the first WeWork on a college campus, located in the University of Maryland’s Discovery District.  

“WeWork is excited to be partnering with Chesapeake Realty Partners along with the University of Maryland for our first-ever college campus location,” said Nicole Mozeliak, WeWork’s General Manager for the Mid-Atlantic. “The vibrancy of the UMD campus, access to an amazing talent pipeline, and being part of their innovative ecosystem makes College Park the optimal choice for WeWork’s first location in the State of Maryland.” 

WeWork will be located adjacent to The Hotel at the University of Maryland in a repurposed building—just steps away from the center of campus—and across the street from Diamondback Garage, which will house university entrepreneurship resources and private sector companies, including Capital One’s Innovation Lab, and cybersecurity firms BlueVoyant and Immuta. 

“College Park is thriving and the Discovery District is proving to be a destination for startups and established companies alike to grow their businesses,” said Ken Ulman, UMD’s chief strategy officer for economic development. “We are proud that WeWork recognizes the University of Maryland is an economic engine helping to fuel the State’s innovation economy.”

The Discovery District is part of UMD’s 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. 

WeWork University of Maryland will offer coworking and office space, including more than 300 desks, conference rooms and communal areas . The space will include standard WeWork offerings, such as private offices, dedicated desks and hot desks. Hot desks give you unlimited access to any available workspace in the location of your choice, while dedicated desks give you unlimited access to your own workstation.

WeWork has been characterized as a leader and transformative in the coworking space, focusing on creating a culture of collaboration, flexibility and creativity. 

Baltimore-area based Chesapeake Realty Partners, a leader in adaptive reuse and land development, will be leading the design and construction. "Chesapeake Realty Partners is delighted to, once again, partner with WeWork to create an incredible coworking space -- this time located in the heart of the Discovery District within the University of Maryland," said Lawrence M. Macks, Co-Chairman and CEO. "UMD has proved to be a great partner for both WeWork and Chesapeake Partners, and we are proud to be involved with this transformational project." 

"Maryland is the most innovative state in the country, so it's the ideal place for WeWork to launch its first campus location," said Maryland Commerce Secretary Mike Gill. "College Park is a hub for both entrepreneurship and cutting-edge research, and the vast pool of talent connected to the university will benefit from the array of workspaces WeWork has to offer." 

“Under the leadership of Dr. Wallace Loh, the University of Maryland, along with the City of College Park and Prince George’s County, have worked to transform College Park into a vibrant college town comparable with any in the nation,” said Prince George’s County Executive Rushern L. Baker, III. “WeWork’s decision to locate its first college campus location in the nation in College Park is a testament to the progress made in achieving that goal. WeWork will be an exciting resource for the entrepreneurs, innovators and researchers that we want to see fuel the economic growth in the University of Maryland’s Discovery District.”

The news of WeWork’s location in College Park has local entrepreneurs eager to move in.

“WeWork will help bridge the gap between dorm room and laboratory startup to the next phase, providing students and faculty a world class co-working and office environment to incubate their nascent businesses,” said UMD Entrepreneur-in-Residence Harry Geller.

"There is so much great talent and work coming out of UMD, and projects like the new WeWork reaffirm that College Park is ready to support our entrepreneurs as they move into the next phases of their ventures," said Matthew Fan, co-director of the Startup Shell, a student-run incubator at UMD. 

WeWork University of Maryland is expected to open 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.

About​ ​WeWork
WeWork is the platform for creators. We provide beautiful workspace, an inspiring community, and meaningful business services to more than 200,000 members around the world. From startups and freelancers to small businesses and large corporations, our community is united by a desire for our members to create meaningful work and lead meaningful lives—to be a part of something greater than ourselves. Co-founded by Adam Neumann and Miguel McKelvey in New York City in 2010, WeWork is a privately held company with more than 3,000 employees.

About Chesapeake Realty Partners
Chesapeake Realty Partners builds on more than 70-years of success in the Mid-Atlantic real estate market. CRP has been actively engaged in all aspects of real estate development –  land acquisition, land planning and land development; construction of for-sale housing; construction and operation of residential rental communities; and construction and operation of commercial properties. The wide range of activities within our organization has been a singular advantage and source of financial strength and stability. In the '80’s leadership passed from founder Morton J. Macks to his son, Lawrence Macks, and his son-in-law, Josh Fidler. The business then evolved into its present form as a diversified builder-developer of large scale residential communities; multi-family communities, as well as commercial, retail and mixed use projects.

 

Multi-Institutional Team of Scientists Mix the Unmixable to Create ‘Shocking’ Nanoparticles

March 29, 2018
Contacts: 

Melissa L. Andreychek, 301-405-0292

COLLEGE PARK, Md. -- Making a giant leap in the ‘tiny’ field of nanoscience, a multi-institutional team of researchers is the first to create nanoscale particles composed of up to eight distinct elements generally known to be immiscible, or incapable of being mixed or blended together. Their blending of multiple, unmixable elements into a unified, homogenous nanostructure, called a high entropy alloy nanoparticle, greatly expands the landscape of nanomaterials—and what we can do with them.

Science Magazine Cover Story - Nanoparticles

This research makes a significant advance on previous efforts that have typically produced nanoparticles limited to three different elements. This is because it is extremely difficult to squeeze and blend different elements into individual particles at the nanoscale. The team of researchers from the University of Maryland, College Park (UMD), the University of Illinois at Chicago, the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, and the Johns Hopkins University published a peer-reviewed paper on their research that is featured on the cover of  March 30 edition of the journal Science.

“Imagine the elements that combine to make nanoparticles as Lego building blocks. If you have only one to three colors and sizes, then you are limited by what combinations you can use and what structures you can assemble,” explained Liangbing Hu, associate professor of materials science and engineering at UMD and one of the corresponding authors of the paper. “What our team has done is essentially enlarged the toy chest in nanoparticle synthesis; now, we are able to build nanomaterials with nearly all metallic and semiconductor elements.”

The researchers say this advance in nanoscience opens vast opportunities for a wide range of applications that includes catalysis (the acceleration of a chemical reaction by a catalyst), energy storage (batteries or supercapacitors), and bio/plasmonic imaging, among others.

To create the high entropy alloy nanoparticles, the researchers employed a two-step method of flash heating followed by flash cooling. Metallic elements such as platinum, nickel, iron, cobalt, gold, copper, and others were exposed to a rapid thermal shock of approximately 3,000 degrees Fahrenheit, or about half the temperature of the sun, for 0.055 seconds. The extremely high temperature resulted in uniform mixtures of the multiple elements. The subsequent rapid cooling (more than 100,000 degrees Fahrenheit per second) stabilized the newly mixed elements into the uniform nanomaterial.

“Our method is simple, but one that nobody else has applied to the creation of nanoparticles. By using a physical science approach, rather than a traditional chemistry approach, we have achieved something unprecedented,” said Yonggang Yao, a Ph.D. student at UMD and one of the lead authors of the paper.

To demonstrate one potential use of the nanoparticles, the research team used them as advanced catalysts for ammonia oxidation, which is a key step in the production of nitric acid (a liquid acid that is used in the production of ammonium nitrate for fertilizers, making plastics, and in the manufacturing of dyes). They were able to achieve 100 percent oxidation of ammonia and 99 percent selectivity toward desired products with the high entropy alloy nanoparticles, proving their ability as highly efficient catalysts.

Elemental maps of high entropy alloy nanoparticles composed of eight dissimilar elements. Image courtesy Yao et al.

Yao said another potential use of the nanoparticles as catalysts could be the generation of chemicals or fuels from carbon dioxide.

“The potential applications for high entropy alloy nanoparticles are not limited to the field of catalysis. With cross-discipline curiosity, the demonstrated applications of these particles will become even more widespread,” said Steven D. Lacey, a Ph.D. student at UMD and also one of the lead authors of the paper.

This research was performed through a multi-institutional collaboration of Professor Liangbing Hu’s group and Professor Michael Zachariah’s group at the University of Maryland, College Park; Professor Reza Shahbazian-Yassar’s group at University of Illinois at Chicago; Professor Ju Li’s group at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology; and Professor Chao Wang’s group at the Johns Hopkins University.

What outside experts are saying about this research:

“This is quite amazing; Dr. Hu creatively came up with this powerful technique, carbo-thermal shock synthesis, to produce high entropy alloys of up to eight different elements in a single nanoparticle,” said Peidong Yang, the S.K. and Angela Chan Distinguished Professor of Energy and professor of chemistry at the University of California, Berkeley and member of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences. “This is indeed unthinkable for bulk materials synthesis. This is yet another beautiful example of nanoscience!,” said Yang, who is a member of the National Academy of Sciences and a 2015 recipient of a MacArthur “genius” Fellowship. Yang was not involved in this research.

“This discovery opens many new directions, said George Crabtree, Argonne Distinguished Fellow and director of the Joint Center for Energy Storage Research at Argonne National Laboratory.  “There are simulation opportunities to understand the electronic structure of the various compositions and phases that are important for the next generation of catalyst design. Also, finding correlations among synthesis routes, composition, and phase structure and performance enables a paradigm shift toward guided synthesis.”  

 

 

The Sahara Desert is Expanding, According to New UMD Study

March 29, 2018
Contacts: 

Matthew Wright, 301-405-9267

COLLEGE PARK, Md-- The Sahara Desert has expanded by about 10 percent since 1920, according to a new study by University of Maryland scientists. The research is the first to assess century-scale changes to the boundaries of the world’s largest desert and suggests that other deserts could be expanding as well. The study was published online March 29, 2018, in the Journal of Climate.

image shows the 3 regions in North Africa: the Sahara, the Sahel, and the SudanDeserts are typically defined by low average annual rainfall—usually 100 millimeters (less than 4 inches) of rain per year or less. The researchers analyzed rainfall data recorded throughout Africa from 1920 to 2013 and found that the Sahara, which occupies much of the northern part of the continent, expanded by 10 percent during this period when looking at annual trends. 

When the authors looked at seasonal trends over the same time period, the most notable expansion of the Sahara occurred in summer, resulting in a nearly 16 percent increase in the desert’s average seasonal area over the 93-year span covered by the study.

“Our results are specific to the Sahara, but they likely have implications for the world’s other deserts,” said Sumant Nigam, a professor of atmospheric and oceanic science at UMD and the senior author of the study. Nigam also has a joint appointment in UMD’s Earth System Science Interdisciplinary Center (ESSIC).

The study results suggest that human-caused climate change, as well as natural climate cycles such as the Atlantic Multidecadal Oscillation (AMO), caused the desert’s expansion. The geographical pattern of expansion varied from season to season, with the most notable differences occurring along the Sahara’s northern and southern boundaries. 

“Deserts generally form in the subtropics because of the Hadley circulation, through which air rises at the equator and descends in the subtropics,” Nigam said. “Climate change is likely to widen the Hadley circulation, causing northward advance of the subtropical deserts. The southward creep of the Sahara however suggests that additional mechanisms are at work as well, including climate cycles such as the AMO.”

The Sahara is the world’s largest warm-weather desert, roughly equal in size to the contiguous United States. (The Arctic basin and the Antarctic continent—which are each about twice as large as the Sahara—also qualify as deserts due to their low rates of precipitation.) Like all deserts, the boundaries of the Sahara fluctuate with the seasons, expanding in the dry winter and contracting during the wetter summer. 

outside the town of Diakhao, Senegal in March of 2018, illustrates the conditions of the Sahel during the dry seasonThe southern border of the Sahara adjoins the Sahel, the semi-arid transition zone that lies between the Sahara and the fertile savannas further south. The Sahara expands as the Sahel retreats, disrupting the region’s fragile grassland ecosystems and human societies. Lake Chad, which sits in the center of this climatologically conflicted transition zone, serves as a bellwether for changing conditions in the Sahel. 

“The Chad Basin falls in the region where the Sahara has crept southward. And the lake is drying out,” Nigam explained. “It’s a very visible footprint of reduced rainfall not just locally, but across the whole region. It’s an integrator of declining water arrivals in the expansive Chad Basin.”

A number of well-known climate cycles can affect rainfall in the Sahara and the Sahel. The AMO, in which temperatures over a large swath of the northern Atlantic Ocean fluctuate between warm and cold phases on a 50- to 70-year cycle, is one example. Warm phases of the AMO are linked to increased rainfall in the Sahel, while the opposite is true for the cold phase. For example, the notable drying of the Sahel from the 1950s to the 1980s has been attributed to one such cold phase. The Pacific Decadal Oscillation (PDO), marked by temperature fluctuations in the northern Pacific Ocean on a scale of 40 to 60 years, also plays a role.

To single out the effects of human-caused climate change, the researchers used statistical methods to remove the effects of the AMO and PDO on rainfall variability during the period from 1920 to 2013. The researchers concluded that these natural climate cycles accounted for about two-thirds of the total observed expansion of the Sahara. The remaining one-third can be attributed to climate change, but the authors note that longer climate records that extend across several climate cycles are needed to reach more definitive conclusions. 

“Many previous studies have documented trends in rainfall in the Sahara and Sahel. But our paper is unique, in that we use these trends to infer changes in the desert expanse on the century timescale,” said Natalie Thomas, a graduate student in atmospheric and oceanic science at UMD and lead author of the research paper. 

The study’s results have far-reaching implications for the future of the Sahara, as well as other subtropical deserts around the world. As the world’s population continues to grow, a reduction in arable land with adequate rainfall to support crops could have devastating consequences.

“The trends in Africa of hot summers getting hotter and rainy seasons drying out are linked with factors that include increasing greenhouse gases and aerosols in the atmosphere,” said Ming Cai, a program director in the National Science Foundation's Division of Atmospheric and Geospace Sciences, which funded the research. "These trends also have a devastating effect on the lives of African people, who depend on agriculture-based economies."

Thomas and Nigam are focused on learning more about the drivers behind desert expansion in the Sahara and beyond.

“With this study, our priority was to document the long-term trends in rainfall and temperature in the Sahara. Our next step will be to look at what is driving these trends, for the Sahara and elsewhere,” Thomas explained. “We have already started looking at seasonal temperature trends over North America, for example. Here, winters are getting warmer but summers are about the same. In Africa, it’s the opposite—winters are holding steady but summers are getting warmer. So the stresses in Africa are already more severe.”

This work was supported by the U.S. Department of Defense’s National Defense Science & Engineering Graduate Fellowship Program and the U.S. National Science Foundation (Award No. AGS 1439940). The content of this article does not necessarily reflect the views of these organizations.

Photo 1: This satellite-derived  image shows the three regions in North Africa: the Sahara, the Sahel, and the Sudan. The Saharan desert covers the northern, top part of the continent,. The Sahel, a semi-arid belt of barren, sandy and rock-strewn land, stretches across the African continent between the Sahara and the Sudan, which is the greener, more fertile southern portion in this image. Credit: NASA/Goddard Space Flight Center Scientific Visualization Studio. 

Photo 2: Taken outside the town of Diakhao, Senegal in March of 2018, the photo illustrates the conditions of the Sahel during the dry season. Credit: Mamadou Faye/courtesy Wassila Thiaw, NOAA CPC.

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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. 

 

 

 

UMD Graduate Programs Receive High Marks in 2019 U.S. News and World Report Rankings

March 22, 2018
Contacts: 

Natifia Mullings, 301-405-4076

COLLEGE PARK, Md.-- Several University of Maryland colleges and programs were recently recognized in the U.S. News and World Report’s 2019 graduate school rankings. UMD had two No.1-ranked graduate programs: criminology (College of Behavioral and Social Sciences) and counseling/personnel services (College of Education), with 37 additional schools, colleges, and programs featured in the rankings.

This year’s highlights include:

  • Four programs in the College of Education were ranked among the top 25: educational psychology (9), higher education administration (10), special education (14) and secondary teacher education (15).
  • The School of Public Policy had two programs and specialties ranked in the top 25: homeland/national security (6) and the public finance and budgeting program (10).
  • The A. James Clark School of Engineering ranked No. 22 overall, with four programs ranked in the top 25: aerospace engineering (12), mechanical engineering (16), electrical engineering (18), and materials engineering (24).
  • The Robert H. Smith School of Business had three programs and specialties ranked in the top 25: information systems (9), part-time MBA (15), and supply chain/logistics (24).
  • The College of Computer, Mathematical, and Natural Sciences had three programs and nine specialties ranked in the top 25:
    -- Physics (14): quantum (6), atomic/molecular/optical (6), condensed matter (11), and elementary particles/field/string theory (13).
    --Computer Science (16): artificial intelligence (16), systems (16), theory (16), and programming language (17).
    --Mathematics (22): applied math (13).

The U.S. News 2019 Best Graduate Schools evaluates graduate programs across six major disciplines in business, education, engineering, law, medicine, and nursing, including specialties in each area. The rankings are based on two types of data: expert opinions about program excellence and statistical indicators that measure the quality of a school’s faculty, research output and student achievement. According to U.S. News, the data for the rankings in all six disciplines came from statistical surveys of more than 2,012 programs and from reputation surveys sent to more than 20,500 academics and professionals, conducted in fall 2017 and early 2018.

When last ranked in 2017, 30 UMD programs and specialties were placed on the list.

 

The University of Maryland, College Park will open late at 10 am, Thursday, March 22, 2018, due to inclement weather.

March 21, 2018

The University of Maryland, College Park will open late at 10 am, Thursday, March 22, 2018, due to inclement weather.

UMD’s Division of Information Technology Moving to Growing Discovery District

March 7, 2018
Contacts: 

Jessica Jennings, 301-405-4618

COLLEGE PARK, Md. - The University of Maryland announces today its Division of Information Technology will be moving to the Discovery District, an epicenter of academic, research and economic development for UMD and the region. 

The Division of IT’s new space will include 60,000 square feet located at 5801 University Research Court in a three-story, 71,000 square foot building owned by Corporate Office Properties Trust (NYSE: OFC). Moving into this new space will consolidate the vast majority of the Division’s current operations, which are currently spread across four buildings. In the new, state-of-the-art space, the Division of IT will be able to streamline processes, build greater teamwork and better share information and best practices. 

“We are thrilled to be joining the Discovery District and to be part of the growing innovation ecosystem,” said Jeffrey Hollingsworth, UMD’s interim chief information officer. “The incredible new facilities will allow us to collaborate within the Division and with campus partners like never before, allowing our information technology operations to thrive.” 

The Discovery District is part of UMD’s 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 Division of IT’s move to the new space frees up existing space in the center of campus, which will begin long-term renovation plans that allow the university to better serve its core academic mission. 

The Division of IT plans to move to the new location in summer 2018. 

 

New Technology for Use in Military Vehicles May Protect Warfighters from Blast-induced Brain Injury

March 6, 2018
Contacts: 

UMD: Melissa Andreychek, 301-405-0292
UMSOM: Alex Likowski, 410-706-3801

COLLEGE PARK, Md.-- Researchers from the University of Maryland (UMD) and the University of Maryland School of Medicine (UMSOM) have developed a new military vehicle shock absorbing device that may protect warfighters against traumatic brain injury (TBI) due to exposure to blasts caused by land mines. During Operations Iraqi Freedom and Enduring Freedom, more than 250,000 warfighters were victims of such injuries.

Prior to this study, most research on blast-induced TBI focused on the effects of rapid changes in barometric pressure, also known as overpressure, on unmounted warfighters. “This is the only research to date to model the effects of under-vehicle blasts on the occupants,” explains Gary Fiskum, Ph.D., M. Jane Matjasko professor for research and vice-chair, Department of Anesthesiology at UMSOM. “We have produced new and detailed insights into the causes of TBI experienced by vehicle occupants, even in the absence of significant ambient pressure changes.” The research has also resulted in the development of materials and vehicle frame design that greatly reduce injury caused by under-vehicle explosions.

Fiskum and William Fourney, Ph.D., associate dean, University of Maryland's A. James Clark School of Engineering, keystone professor of aerospace and mechanical engineering and director of the Dynamic Effects Laboratory were the first to demonstrate how the enormous acceleration (G-force) that occupants of vehicles experience during under-vehicle blasts can cause mild to moderate TBI even under conditions where other vital organs remained unscathed.

“Intense acceleration can destroy synapses, damage nerve fibers, stimulate neuroinflammation, and damage the brain’s blood vessels,” explains Fiskum. Researchers also elucidated the molecular mechanisms responsible for this specific form of TBI.

These findings are described in articles published in the Journal of Trauma and Acute Care Surgery, with Julie Proctor, M.S., UMSOM lab manager, as primary author, Experimental Neurology, with Flaubert Tchantchou, Ph.D., UMSOM research associate as primary author, and in the Journal of Neurotrauma, with Rao Gullapalli, Ph.D., professor of diagnostic radiology, UMSOM, as senior author.

Mitigating G-force experienced by vehicle occupants

Fourney, Ulrich Leiste, Ph.D., assistant research engineer in the Clark School’s Department of Aerospace Engineering, and doctoral researcher Jarrod Bonsmann, Ph.D., developed highly advanced shock absorber designs that incorporate polyurea-coated tubes and other structures to reduce the blast acceleration experienced by vehicle occupants by up to 80 percent.

“Essentially, it spreads out the application of force,” Fourney explains. “Polyurea is compressible and rebounds following compression, resulting in an excellent ability to decrease the acceleration,” he says. A test of the technology can be viewed at https://go.umd.edu/UnderVehicleBlastSimulation

Reducing blast-induced TBI

These results were combined with those of Tchantchou, who demonstrated that mitigation of g-force by the elastic frame designs virtually eliminates the behavioral alterations in lab rats and loss of neuronal connections observed using small scale vehicles with fixed frames, as published in the Journal of Neurotrauma. Peter Rock, M.D., MBA, Martin Helrich chair of the Department of Anesthesiology, noted that “the research team has addressed an important clinical problem by identifying a novel mechanism to explain TBI, engineered a solution to the problem, and convincingly demonstrated improvements in morphology and behavior.  This work has important implications for improving outcomes in military blast-induced TBI and might be applicable to causes of civilian TBI, such as car crashes.”

Looking forward

Continued collaboration between the labs of Fiskum and Fourney will hopefully lead to the next generation of armor-protected military vehicles that will further protect warfighters from both injury and death.  An important next step will be testing a larger scale model.  “If the data holds up for those, it will hold true for full scale,” Fourney says.

 

This research is supported by the University of Maryland Strategic Partnership: MPowering the State, a collaboration between the University of Maryland, Baltimore (UMB) and the University of Maryland, College Park (UMCP). Initial funding was provided by a 2009 UMB - UMCP collaborative seed grant awarded to Drs. Fiskum and Fourney. In 2013, the two were awarded a $1.5 million contract by the US Department of Defense Joint Program Committee 6/Combat Casualty Care Psychological Health and Traumatic Brain Injury Program to support their research using small-scale models of under-vehicle explosions. An additional grant of $2.6 million was awarded by the US Air Force, demonstrating that increasing the cabin pressure in airplanes during air-evacuation of trauma patients to a level greater than what is currently used improves outcomes following exposure of rats to TBI caused by under-vehicle explosions, as published in the Journal of Trauma and Acute Care Surgery.  

 

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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.

About the University of Maryland, Baltimore
Founded in 1807, the University of Maryland, Baltimore is Maryland’s only public health, law, and human services university, dedicated to excellence in education, research, clinical care, and public service. UMB enrolls 6,500 students in six nationally ranked professional schools — medicine, law, dentistry, pharmacy, nursing, and social work — and an interdisciplinary Graduate School. The university provides more than $40 million each year in uncompensated care to Maryland citizens, and receives more than $500 million in extramural research funding annually. For more information about the University of Maryland, Baltimore, visit www.umaryland.edu.

About University of Maryland Strategic Partnership: MPowering the State 
The University of Maryland Strategic Partnership: MPowering the State brings together two universities of distinction to form a new collaborative partnership.  Harnessing the resources of each, the University of Maryland, College Park and the University of Maryland, Baltimore will focus the collective expertise on critical statewide issues of public health, biomedical informatics, and bioengineering. This collaboration will drive an even greater impact on the state, its economy, the job market, and the next generation of innovators.  The joint initiatives will have a profound effect on productivity, the economy, and the very fabric of higher education.

 

New UMD Study Traces the Origins of a Major Potato Pest

March 5, 2018
Contacts: 

Samantha Watters, 301-405-2434

COLLEGE PARK, Md. -- A new study from a University of Maryland-led team of researchers confirms the long held idea that the Colorado potato beetle, by far the most damaging insect to the U.S. potato industry, originated in the Great Plains region of the United States. The findings dispel more recent theories that this beetle may have come from Mexico or other divergent populations.

These findings shed new light on the origin of a pest with a unique ability to adapt to pesticides almost faster than the industry can keep up. The beetle is consistently a major issue for potato farmers in Maryland, across the U.S. and in Europe.  By determining the origins of this pest and better understanding its genetic makeup, this new investigative evolutionary biology work could advance efforts to develop better pest management strategies that combat the potato beetle’s pesticide resistance abilities, and thus benefit the potato industry and its consumers.

“With this study, we were trying to gain insight into two major questions: Where did the potato beetle come from? And why do they evolve resistance so quickly?,” said lead author David Hawthorne, Ph.D., associate professor in the entomology department at the University of Maryland. “This would have major implications in controlling the pest, since the more growers have to spray, the greater their costs and risk to the surrounding environment. We need a strategy to weigh our options and determine the best way to control these pests without overspraying, or even torching entire fields overrun with beetles, which has happened in the past when there has been no effective pesticide options.”

Hawthorne and his team found that the populations of beetles that eat potatoes are most closely related to nightshade eaters in the Plains states. Beetles from Mexico, a possible source of the pest populations, are too distantly related. “Before they became pests, the plains beetles first evolved a taste for potatoes,” says Hawthorne. “Some non-pest populations still don’t eat them and will prefer the weeds surrounding the potatoes, but not the potatoes themselves. This is just one way that populations may differ.”

Hawthorne and colleagues say that by understanding the distinctions between these populations and which beetles are the source of current pest populations, more targeted pest management strategies can be developed based on the specific genetic makeup of the beetles, leading to more effective pest management and less spraying. Their findings were recently published in The Journal of Economic Entomology.

The United States is the fourth largest producer of potatoes worldwide, producing over 20 million tons of potatoes each year. By comparing the genetics of pre-agriculture potato beetles -- before the pest began to consume potatoes -- to post-agriculture potato beetles.  Hawthorne and his team seek to understand why and how the beetle is developing resistance so quickly, and what can be done to slow resistance.

“The Colorado potato beetle is almost always one of the first insects to develop resistance to any pesticide. In fact, many contribute the entire pesticide arms race and development of pesticides to this particular beetle, which can destroy entire fields very easily,” says Hawthorne.

Hawthorne describes this work as almost forensic biology, tracking the evolution and movement of this beetle across time and geography. “I like that this work is very interdisciplinary,” says Hawthorne. “It is about taking all the puzzle pieces and trying to put the whole story together to have the biggest impact on the field. Ultimately, this work is a major step towards understanding one of the most harmful pests, and has significant implications in controlling the population, keeping the potato industry stable, and fighting pesticide resistance and overspraying.”

### 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.

 

Durable Wood Carbon Sponge Could Be the Future of Wearable Sensors, Pollutant Treatment

March 1, 2018
Contacts: 

Natifia Mullings, 301-405-4076

COLLEGE PARK, Md. — Engineers at the University of Maryland (UMD) have for the first time demonstrated that wood can be directly converted into a carbon sponge capable of withstanding repeated compression and other extreme mechanical conditions. The new sponge can be used in various applications such as energy storage (e.g., batteries), pollutant treatment, and electronic devices and sensors. 

Graphic of wood carbon sponge productionThe UMD engineers’ wood carbon sponge overcomes several limiting factors of other lightweight, compressible carbon sponges because it is simpler, less expensive, and more sustainable to produce. Most lightweight, compressible carbon sponges are made from raw materials that are usually nonrenewable fossil resources—such as graphene—and by a complicated fabrication process that involves multiple steps and environmentally unfriendly chemicals. In contrast, the UMD researchers use a simple chemical process to transform balsa wood, a choice biomass-based material that is both renewable and abundant. Their findings were published in Chem on March 1.

“Our results reveal that rigid and incompressible balsa can be made highly compressible by a chemical treatment and carbonization process, yielding a wood carbon sponge with mechanical compressibility and fatigue resistance and electrical response sensitivity surpassing those of most reported compressible carbonaceous materials,” says corresponding author Liangbing Hu, associate professor of materials science and engineering at UMD’s A. James Clark School of Engineering.

Hu and colleagues achieved the bendable yet resilient architecture of the wood carbon sponge by using common chemicals to destroy the stiff hemicellulose and lignin fibers that maintain the normal cell-wall structure of balsa wood, then heating the treated wood to 1,000C in order to turn the organic material into carbon alone. The net effect of the process was to collapse the repeated, regular, rectangular pockets typical of the microstructure of balsa and other woods and replace them with a stack of wavy, interlocking, arch-like carbon sheets, likened by Hu to a cross between a coiled spring and a honeycomb.

Normal carbonized wood—obtained from only the heating step without any chemical modifications—is so fragile that any reasonable applied force pulverizes it irreversibly into ash and dust. However, the wood carbon sponge withstood and rebounded from substantial compression for up to 10,000 consecutive trials before deformation set in. Such a performance initially surprised the research team. 

“Our process for creating the wood carbon sponge is unique because we preserve the structure of the wood. This makes the sponge highly compressible and resistant to stress. This means the performance of our wood carbon sponge is one of the best among all lightweight and compressible carbonaceous materials ever reported,” says lead author Chaoji Chen, postdoctoral researcher at UMD’s A. James Clark School of Engineering.

After conducting further mechanical and electrical tests on the sponge, the researchers were able to incorporate a slice of it into a strain sensor prototype suitable for attachment to a human finger, a quality desirable for use in wearable fitness or health-monitoring electronics.

The researchers believe that the wood carbon sponge could also be incorporated into water purification devices and energy storage and conversation technologies, such as supercapacitors and rechargeable batteries. “The abundant applications illustrate the value of a strategy that explores the hidden potentials of natural materials, such as trees, by drawing inspiration from other natural structures and sources,” Hu says.

 

This work was supported by the Maryland NanoCenter.

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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.

 

 

 

UMD Earns Top 20 Ranking as Peace Corps Volunteer Producer

March 1, 2018
Contacts: 

Jennifer Burroughs, 301-405-4621

COLLEGE PARK, Md. -- The University of Maryland has been named a top Peace Corps volunteer-producing university for the seventh consecutive year. With 49 alumni currently volunteering worldwide, UMD ranks No. 16 on the list among large universities. Additionally, the state of Maryland ranks No. 10 for top volunteer-producing states overall. 

1,269 UMD graduates have traveled abroad to serve as volunteers to date. The nations’ first “Do Good campus” is also a destination of choice for Returned Peace Corps Volunteers (RPCVs), whether to continue their education, or to pursue careers as members of UMD's faculty or professional staff. 

“The diversity of the University of Maryland, College Park was one of the main reasons I chose this school as my alma mater,” said current volunteer and alumna Cherisse Lewis. “There were students from all over and I actively participated in events that involved international or first generation students from many countries, in which Peace Corps volunteered and served. I have always had the urge to serve others and being an immigrant from Jamaica, adjusting to new cultures has always been an interest of mine. For that reason, I wanted to help those in need and those who want to experience interacting with an American,” 

This one of a kind service opportunity provides both tangible benefits and a life-defining leadership experience. Volunteers return from service as global citizens and receive support from the Peace Corps in the form of career services, graduate school opportunities, readjustment allowances, and loan deferment and cancellation opportunities. Since its inception in 1961, the agency has sent more than 230,000 Americans to serve in 141 countries worldwide. 

The Peace Corps ranks its top volunteer-producing colleges and universities annually according to the size of the student body. View the complete 2018 rankings of the top schools in each category here and find an interactive map that shows where alumni from each college are serving here.

 

 

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