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New Public Safety Degree Addresses Changing Landscape of Law Enforcement

March 11, 2020
Contacts: 

University of Maryland:
Natifia Mullings, mullings@umd.edu, 301-405-4076

University of Maryland, Baltimore:
Laura Lee, laura.lee@umaryland.edu, 410-706-0023

An innovative new online master’s degree program developed jointly by the University of Maryland Francis King Carey School of Law in Baltimore and the University of Maryland College of Behavioral and Social Sciences (BSOS) in College Park will prepare public safety officials for careers in a rapidly changing landscape.

Set to launch in fall 2020, the Master’s of Professional Studies in Public Safety Leadership and Administration (PLA) is designed to meet the needs of professionals in a broad array of careers, including law enforcement, corrections, public safety education, juvenile justice, social services, disaster preparedness and more.

The curriculum is a response to a growing need for advanced training in leadership, policy, and law for police, public safety officials and other public servants. Courses including Ethics in Criminal Justice, Building Partnerships with Criminal Justice Agencies and Public Image Management and Policy Solutions will be taught by sociologists, criminologists and law professors from both institutions.

The program is funded by The University of Maryland Strategic Partnership: MPowering the State (MPower) which leverages the sizable strengths and complementary missions of both campuses to strengthen Maryland’s innovation economy, advance interdisciplinary research, create opportunities for students, and solve important problems for the people of Maryland and the nation.

“Law enforcement faces challenges in the twenty-first century that we couldn’t have anticipated just a few decades ago. Advances in AI technology and predictive policing, the emergence of social media and increased public scrutiny, and increased coordination between local, state, and federal agencies—these all have an impact on public safety,” said Associate Professor Rashawn Ray, Ph.D., of the Department of Sociology at the University of Maryland College Park.  “We designed this program alongside law enforcement professionals and criminal justice practitioners who are dealing with new phenomena and working with members of their communities every day to keep people safe.”

While working toward the master’s degree, students will earn two graduate certificates—one in Criminal Justice Administration and one in Leadership in Diverse Organizations. Both the graduate certificates and the Master’s degree can be completed in 15 months. All courses are online to give students flexibility, as many who enroll are likely to be working professionals.

“I think for someone who aspires to leadership in their department—whether it be police, or investigative, or immigration—having this credential will help you stand out and gain the respect of those you’re dealing with,” said Michael Greenberger, JD, a professor at Maryland Carey Law. “This kind of advanced degree will lead a candidate to stand out in the application pool.”

Lester Andrist, Ph.D., the program coordinator at College Park, said the advanced degree in public safety couldn’t have come at a better time. “Given the central role that public safety professionals play in our communities and given new and emergent challenges to public safety like domestic terrorism and climate change, advanced education and training for these professionals couldn’t be more important.”

For more information about the Master’s of Professional Studies in Public Safety Leadership and Administration degree visit: go.umd.edu/plamaryland.

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About the University of Maryland Strategic Partnership: MPowering the State

The University of Maryland Strategic Partnership: MPowering the State is a collaboration between the state of Maryland’s two most powerful public research institutions: the University of Maryland, Baltimore (UMB) and the University of Maryland, College Park (UMCP). It leverages the sizable strengths and complementary missions of both institutions to strengthen Maryland’s innovation economy, advance interdisciplinary research, create opportunities for students, and solve important problems for the people of Maryland and the nation. Working together, UMB and UMCP achieve innovation and impact through collaboration.

The University of Maryland Strategic Partnership Act of 2016 strengthened and formalized the structured relationship between UMB and UMCP, which began in 2012. The law deepens the alliance and energizes UMB and UMCP to pursue even greater transformative change and impact, far surpassing what each institution could do independent of each other.

About University of Maryland, College Park

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. As one of the nation’s top producers of Fulbright scholars, its faculty includes two Nobel laureates, three Pulitzer Prize winners and 59 members of the national academies. The institution has a $2.1 billion operating budget and secures more than $1 billion annually in research funding together with the University of Maryland, Baltimore. 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 more than 6,800 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 $667 million in extramural research funding annually. For more information about the University of Maryland, Baltimore visit: www.umaryland.edu.

New University of Maryland Survey Finds Moderate COVID-19 Concern

March 6, 2020
Contacts: 

Lee Tune 301-405-4679

COLLEGE PARK, Md. -- The word “panic” is being used by some about the public response in the U.S. to the spreading COVID-19 pandemic; but a new UMD Philip Merrill College of Journalism survey found participants' concern about their risk of contracting the new coronavirus was much more moderate.

In an online national survey of 750 participants between the ages of 18 and 76 conducted March 2, respondents rated their risk of contracting the virus at 2.3 on a scale of 1 to 5 with 5 being the highest risk. Their rating for being prepared averaged 3.6 with more than half (58 percent) of the participants said they had discussed with friends and family COVID-19 symptoms, risks and prevention. Thirty-nine percent were buying more food and supplies, 38 percent said they discussed “staying at home” plans with employers, and 30 percent were stocking up on medications. Only 17 percent reported subscribing to web sites, emails or text alerts for virus updates.

The lead researcher, Philip Merrill College of Journalism Associate Professor Ronald Yaros, said, “It was interesting to see that television was not among the top two sources for information about the virus.” Participants listed the web (37 percent) as their primary source,, followed by social media (31 percent), TV (26 percent), Print (3 percent), Radio (2 percent) and family or friends (1 percent).

The study also measured participants' level of COVID-19 knowledge and their attitudes toward government officials and agencies, both before and after being presented with an official CDC informational statement on COVID-19. The overall level of COVID-19 knowledge increased only moderately after they read the CDC statement, while perception of government agencies turned more negative.

According to Yaros, these findings may be explained by the relatively low level of agreement of 2.2 [on the 1- 5 scale] with, "The CDC statement did a good job explaining the risks and how the virus might affect you."

After seeing the CDC statement, there was a drop in participants' agreement with, “Government officials care about the personal welfare of people like me.”  It decreased from 3.1 to 2.7.

Participants' agreement with, “I trust our government agencies to protect me from the risks of the coronavirus,” also decreased, going from 3.0 before reading the CDC information to 2.8 afterwards.

However, agreement with, “White House officials are doing a competent job of protecting people from the coronavirus,” changed little after reading the CDC statement, going from 2.9  to 2.96.

Yaros says the plan is to repeat the study at regular intervals to look at changes in public attitudes as the spread and impacts of the virus change.

UMD Raises Over $1.6M on Seventh Annual Giving Day

March 6, 2020
Contacts: 

Tiffany Blossom, tblossom@umd.edu, 301-405-4535

COLLEGE PARK, Md. -- The University of Maryland raised over $1.6 million on its seventh annual Giving Day. Held on March 4, the 24-hour giving challenge raised money to support the university’s core missions, which include learning, teaching, research, the arts, student life, and public service initiatives. 

Donors were able to give to a wide variety of funds and programs dedicated to schools/colleges, athletics, libraries, performing arts and Greek and student organizations. Donors also had the option to support University funds, including the Keep Me Maryland Fund, UMD Student Crisis Fund, and the Student Success Emergency Scholarship.

Athletics led donations with a fundraising total nearly reaching $283,000, followed by the Office of Undergraduate Studies and the School of Public Health with totals of more than $100,000 and $93,000 respectively.

Throughout the day, there were several opportunities for donors to have their donations matched. When donors gave to the Clark Challenge for the Maryland Promise, a need-based scholarship program for undergraduate students from underserved populations in the state of Maryland and the District of Columbia, gifts were matched dollar for dollar by the A. James & Alice B. Clark Foundation and the University of Maryland. President and Mrs. Loh additionally made a contribution, providing a $10,000 match for all student donations. Similarly, the Clarvit Family, comprised of two generations of Terps, helped match gifts from students, recent graduates, and first-time alumni donors as well as donations made towards emergency scholarship funds, up to a total of $10,000.  

In addition to matching opportunities and leaderboard challenges, the Testudo Shellfie Challenge returned to help encourage the UMD community to take a selfie in order to raise money for the fund of their choice. By posting a selfie on Facebook or Twitter using the hashtag #GivingDayUMD, participants entered the fund they support for one of ten prizes. 

Winners of these prizes included the Graduate School, the College of Agriculture and Natural Resources, the Mighty Sound of Maryland and the Air Force ROTC.

Since its launch in 2013, UMD Giving Day has raised more than $8 million from the UMD community.

University of Maryland Named a Top Producer of Fulbright U.S. Students for 2019-20

February 19, 2020
Contacts: 

Hafsa Siddiqi, hafsa@umd.edu, 301-405-4671

COLLEGE PARK, Md. - The University of Maryland has been recognized as a top producer of Fulbright students by the U.S. Department of State’s Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs for 2019-2020. UMD was ranked among 45 top-producing research institutions in the nation. 

For the 2019-2020 academic year, 14 UMD students were awarded Fulbright grants, giving them the opportunity to conduct research, exchange ideas and contribute to finding solutions to important international problems. Over the past five years, more than 50 UMD students and scholars have accepted the prestigious Fulbright grants. 

Each year, the Fulbright Program awards approximately 8,000 grants annually. Roughly 1,900 U.S. students, 4,000 foreign students, 1,200 U.S. scholars and 900 visiting scholars receive awards, in addition to several hundred teachers and professionals. More than 380,000 “Fulbrighters” from over 160 countries have participated in the program since its inception in 1946. 

The full list of the top producers can be found in the online edition of The Chronicle of Higher Education

University of Maryland Breaks Ground on New City Hall in Partnership with City of College Park and Terrapin Development Company

February 14, 2020
Contacts: 

Ryan Quinones, rquinones@collegeparkmd.gov 240-487-3508, City of College Park 

Hafsa Siddiqi, hafsa@umd.edu 301-405-4671, University of Maryland

COLLEGE PARK, Md.--The University of Maryland (UMD), in partnership with the City of College Park, and Terrapin Development Company (TDC), broke ground on a new 96,000-square-foot mixed-use office building on February 14, 2020. 

The joint effort between the university and the city is unprecedented. The building will be anchored by the City of College Park City Hall and Council Chambers, with a large public plaza for residents and visitors. 44,000-square-feet of the available office space will be reserved for university use. The final component of the project will be 7,000-square-feet of ground-floor retail fronting the plaza that will be managed by Terrapin Development Company. 

This unique project is under construction on the 7400 block of Baltimore Avenue, previously the home of the College Park City Hall building at 4500 Knox Road, as well as several suites of retail on Baltimore Avenue. The new space is slated for a grand opening in late summer 2021. 

“Not only will this building be an important addition to the College Park renaissance, but it will be highly symbolic,” said University of Maryland President Wallace D. Loh.  “Our partnership with our neighbors has never been closer than it will be in this shared building. It is the culmination of years of a strong working relationship.”

“Our new City Hall building represents a new era for the City,” said Mayor Patrick Wojahn, “with opportunities for new and better ways to serve College Park residents, including a new meeting space and transparent City Council Chambers. It also represents a new era for the partnership between the City of College Park and the University of Maryland and an opportunity for a newly revitalized downtown College Park."

This project is one of the latest developments within the Greater College Park initiative, a cooperative effort to shape College Park into one of the nation’s premier college towns. The Greater College Park effort is realized through the linkage of dynamic academic spaces, creation of a public-private research hub and a dynamic and vibrant community. 

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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. As one of the nation’s top producers of Fulbright scholars, its faculty includes two Nobel laureates, three Pulitzer Prize winners and 58 members of the national academies. 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 City of College Park 

Situated just minutes from the nation’s capital, the City of College Park is home to the University of Maryland, the world’s oldest continuously operating airport and a wide variety of shops, restaurants, attractions and recreational opportunities. The City is comprised of more than 32,000 residents that reside in diverse settings from historic neighborhoods to luxury student housing complexes. For more information about the City, visit www.collegeparkmd.gov.

About Terrapin Development Company 
Terrapin Development Company (TDC) is a joint venture real estate and economic development entity created by the University of Maryland, College Park and the University of Maryland College Park Foundation. TDC's mission is to create long term value for its members while transforming Greater College Park into a vibrant, diverse and walkable community that attracts the best faculty, staff and students, and galvanizes a culture of research and entrepreneurship.

When Frogs Die Off Snake Diversity Plummets

February 12, 2020
Contacts: 

Kimbra Cutlip 301-405-9463

COLLEGE PARK, Md. – The global loss of amphibians is having negative impacts on snakes according to a new study by researchers from the University of Maryland and Michigan State University. 

Since 1998, scientists have documented the global loss of frogs and other amphibians. More than 500 amphibian species have declined in numbers, including 90 that have gone extinct, due to the fungal pathogen Batrachochytrium, commonly known as chytrid. 

The new study, published in the February 14, 2020, issue of the journal Science, shows for the first time ripple effects on snakes of this amphibian die off. The findings reveal that after chytrid swept through a remote forest in Panama, decimating frog populations, the number of snake species scientists detected declined dramatically, causing the snake community to become more homogenized. 

“This study highlights the invisibility of other changes that are occurring as a result of losing amphibians,” said Karen Lips, a professor of biology at UMD and a co-author of the study.

Many snakes rely on frogs and frog eggs as part of their diet, so the researchers expected a decline in frogs to impact snake populations. But the slithery reptiles are notoriously cryptic and difficult to study in the wild. How snakes fare following a chytrid epidemic was mostly a matter of conjecture until this study. 

Lips and her colleagues compared seven years of survey data collected in a national park near El Copé, Panama, before the 2004 chytrid outbreak caused mass amphibian die-off, with six years of survey data collected after the die-off. 

“Comparing the after with the before, there was a huge shift in the snake community,” Lips said. “The community became more homogeneous. The number of species declined, with many species going down in their occurrence rates, while a few species increased. Body condition of many snakes was also worse right after the frog decline. Many were thinner, and it looked like they were starving.” 

The researchers cannot say exactly how many snake species declined because snake sightings are rare in general. Some species were only seen once in the pre-chytrid surveys. The researchers could not confirm that a species had disappeared just because it was absent in the post-chytrid surveys. However, over half of the most common snakes (those observed more than five times throughout the total study) had declined in occurrence rates after the frog die-off. Further statistical analysis of the data confirmed a considerable drop in species diversity.

Researchers are confident the changes they observed in the snake community were due to the loss of amphibians and not some other environmental factor. The study area is in a national park with limited impacts from habitat loss, development, pollution or other phenomena that might affect snake populations directly. The remoteness of the El Copé research site and the fact that Lips had been conducting annual surveys in the years prior to the chytrid epidemic combined to provide a rare window into the rapid changes in an ecosystem following the catastrophic loss of amphibians.

“This work emphasizes the importance of long-term studies to our understanding of the invisible, cascading effects of species extinctions,” Lips said. “Everything we watched changed after the frogs declined. We have to know what we are losing, or we run the risk of undermining effective conservation.”

In addition to Lips, authors include UMD alumni Elise Zipkin (Ph.D ‘12, biological sciences) now at Michigan State University, and Grace DiRenzo (Ph.D. ‘16, biological sciences) now at the U.S. Geological Survey.

The research paper “Tropical snake diversity collapses after widespread amphibian loss,” Elise F. Zipkin, Graziella V. DiRenzo, Julie M. Ray, Sam Rossman, Karen R. Lips, was published in the February 14, 2020, issue of the journal Science. 

This work was supported by the National Science Foundation (Award Nos. EF-1702635, PRFB-1611692, DEB-0717741, DEB-0645875, IBN-0429223, IBN-0429223, and IOB-0519458). The content of this article does not necessarily reflect the views of this organization.

UMD Science Major Wins Prestigious Churchill Scholarship

February 4, 2020
Contacts: 

Chelsea Torres 301-405-5204

COLLEGE PARK, Md. – Senior Tanay Wakhare from the University of Maryland’s College of Computer, Mathematical, and Natural Sciences (CMNS) has been awarded a 2020 Winston Churchill Scholarship, which offers him full funding to pursue a one-year master’s degree at the University of Cambridge in the United Kingdom.

Nationally, 15 students in the sciences, engineering or mathematics receive Churchill Scholarships annually. Four UMD students have received the award since 2018 and five total since its inception in 1963. The scholarship—valued at around $60,000—covers all educational fees and provides living and travel allowances.

“Tanay is already making his mark on the field of mathematics, through his achievements in the classroom as a student and teacher and through his research,” said CMNS Dean Amitabh Varshney. “The Churchill Scholarship will offer him unique opportunities to deepen his interests in math and computer science.”

Wakhare—a mathematics and computer science double degree student who is a member of the University Honors program in the Honors College and a Banneker/Key Scholar—will pursue a Master of Philosophy degree in advanced computer science.

The Churchill Scholarship will allow Wakhare, a 2018 Goldwater Scholar, to join the Artificial Intelligence (AI) Group in the Computer Laboratory at the University of Cambridge. There, Wakhare will work with University Senior Lecturer Thomas Sauerwald in the field of graph algorithms.

“I think that a lot of fundamental AI breakthroughs have occurred within the last decade, and that it has the potential to really change society,” Wakhare said. “It’s a place where my mathematical research background can be put to good use.”

While a student at Quince Orchard High School in Gaithersburg, Maryland, Wakhare worked in the Applied and Computational Mathematics Division at the National Institute of Standards and Technology. When he traveled to Florida to attend the 2016 International Conference on Number Theory, he met Christophe Vignat, a professor of physics at the Université Paris-Saclay and an invited professor of mathematics at Tulane University. 

Since that chance meeting, Vignat and Wakhare have collaborated on several papers on number theory and combinatorics—a branch of mathematics that focuses on counting.

“Tanay is an exceptionally talented young mathematician—by far the best student I have ever met in my career,” Vignat said. “He has a very promising future in mathematics.”

Wakhare has published 12 research papers, submitted eight papers for publication and is preparing two additional papers for publication. 

He has also taught multiple Student Initiated Courses—known as STICs—on number theory. The STICs program allows UMD students to design and teach for-credit courses with a faculty member’s guidance.

“Professors have their areas of expertise, but students also have really niche, very relevant knowledge,” Wakhare said.

In fall 2017, he began teaching the Department of Mathematics’ first STIC, the “Mathematics of Ramanujan,” about an Indian pioneer in number theory. While the topic may sound complex to a non-math major, Wakhare developed the course to make it more approachable to peers from all majors. He went on to teach other STICs such as “Proofs from the Book” and “The Mathematics of Erdos,” both on the study of counting. 

“Tanay is a genuine phenomenon, a force of nature—the definition of a fearless Terp,” said Richard Bell, a UMD associate professor of history who serves as the university’s faculty advisor for United Kingdom fellowships. “The award of the Churchill Scholarship is well-deserved recognition for one of the brightest and most gifted young mathematicians working today.”

After his time at Cambridge comes to an end, Wakhare plans to earn his Ph.D. and pursue a research career.

 

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University of Maryland Recognized as a Recipient of the 2020 Excellence in Academic Libraries Award by the Association of College and Research Libraries (ACRL)

January 29, 2020
Contacts: 

Adrienne Lim, ailim@umd.edu 301-405-1668

COLLEGE PARK, Md. - The University of Maryland has been announced as one of three recipients of the 2020 Excellence in Academic Libraries Award by the Association of College and Research Libraries (ACRL). Sponsored by ACRL and GOBI Library Solutions from EBSCO, the award recognizes the staff of a college, community college, and university library for programs that deliver exemplary services and resources to further the educational mission of the institution.

“My colleagues and I are thrilled and grateful to receive this prestigious award from ACRL,” said Adriene I. Lim, dean of libraries at the University of Maryland. “We strive to ensure that our values of compassion and inclusion drive our strategies and that a culture of innovation informs the design of our library programs and services. For this reason, it’s even more of an honor and validation when other library leaders recognize our work, because they know the dedication and resourcefulness it takes to advance those aspirations every day.”
The University of Maryland Libraries, recipient in the university category, was selected for its contributions to digital humanities scholarship and its engagement with students, faculty, and outside partners.

“The University of Maryland Libraries stand out amongst their peers for the development of a robust library staff culture of innovation, as well as their extensive collaborations and engagement with the university’s core curriculum, students, and faculty,” said Cheryl Middleton, chair of the 2020 Excellence in Academic Libraries Committee and associate university librarian for research and scholarly communication at Oregon State University. “The influence and impact of the libraries’ partnerships can be seen throughout the institution.”

“The libraries successfully built a relationship with the Student Government Association that resulted in increased funding to the library along with a successful crowdfunding campaign that resulted in $13,000 from the student body to support the Top Textbooks Program,” Middleton continued. “Additionally, the $60 million ‘Fearless Fundraising Campaign’ the library is participating in to endow library fellows, digitization, archivists, and the Top Textbooks Program illustrates their ongoing commitment to sustaining digital services in the future.”

The libraries’ contributions to the university’s digital humanities scholarship are illuminated by numerous projects and programs. Through its GIS and Spatial Data Center, the library has facilitated a student mapathon of buildings and roads in international disaster areas as part of a broader humanitarian effort to assist Doctors without Borders and is working to create a virtual wayfinding app to link coordinates with library rooms, services, and call numbers to help users find what they need. 

“I am delighted that ACRL can highlight the many contributions that academic libraries make to their institutions,” said ACRL Executive Director Mary Ellen K. Davis. “This year’s recipients demonstrate a clear commitment to student success and equity, a creative and inventive approach to developing innovative programs, and engagement with their local and campus communities. Receiving an Excellence in Academic Libraries Award is a tribute to each library and its entire staff for outstanding services, programs, and leadership.”
The libraries are also conducting numerous digitization efforts of its special collections, including historic Maryland newspapers, AFL-CIO newspapers, back issues of its student newspaper, rare audio recordings of community-based radio stations from the National Federation of Community Broadcasting Archives, and materials related to Alice in Wonderland. Additionally, since 2005 the libraries have partnered with the National Diet Library of Japan to preserve and provide digital access to publications issued in Japan during the first four years of the Allied Occupation from 1945-1949.

Each library will receive $3,000 and a plaque, to be presented at an award ceremony held on each recipient’s campus.

Additional information on the award, along with a list of past recipients, is available in the awards section of the ACRL website.

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. As one of the nation’s top producers of Fulbright scholars, its faculty includes two Nobel laureates, three Pulitzer Prize winners and 58 members of the national academies. The institution has a $2.1 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 ACRL

The Association of College & Research Libraries (ACRL) is the higher education association for librarians. Representing more than 10,000 academic and research librarians and interested individuals, ACRL (a division of the American Library Association) develops programs, products and services to help academic and research librarians learn, innovate and lead within the academic community. Founded in 1940, ACRL is committed to advancing learning, transforming scholarship, and creating diverse and inclusive communities. Find ACRL on the web, Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and YouTube.
 
About GOBI Library Solutions from EBSCO

GOBI® Library Solutions from EBSCO offers more than 17 million print and e-books to academic, research and special libraries worldwide. From streamlining workflows to partnering with library staff, GOBI Library Solutions is committed to providing the best solution for libraries’ acquisition, collection development and technical service needs. For more than 40 years, the mission has remained same—to partner with libraries in providing access to the broadest selection of scholarly content available. For more information, visit the GOBI Library Solutions website at: gobi.ebsco.com.

 
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University of Maryland and Prince George's County Public Schools Announce Partnership Focused on School Improvement

January 28, 2020
Contacts: 

Audrey Hill, University of Maryland College of Education, audreyh@umd.edu, 301-405-3468

Gabrielle Brown, Prince George's County Public Schools, gabrielle.brown@pgcps.org, 301-952-6378

COLLEGE PARK, Md The University of Maryland College of Education and Prince George’s County Public Schools (PGCPS) announced a new institutional partnership that focuses on K-12 school improvement issues through a range of initiatives. The PGCPS/UMD Improvement Science Collaborative will work to prepare excellent school teachers and leaders, support efforts for school improvement, advance teacher preparation programs and take a new approach to connecting research to practice.

While UMD and PGCPS have a long-standing relationship of collaborating on individual projects, this new three-year agreement represents a shared long-term institutional commitment to working together on school improvement.

Prince George’s County Public Schools CEO Dr. Monica E. Goldson and UMD College of Education Dean Jennifer King Rice signed the agreement. UMD President Wallace Loh and Dr. Segun Eubanks, director of the College’s Center for Educational Innovation and Improvement (CEii), and other distinguished guests gathered today at the PGCPS Sasscer Administration Building to support and celebrate the signing of this significant partnership.

“We are committed to the success of Prince George’s public school students and teachers, and this new partnership will extend our relationship and help achieve these goals,” said University of Maryland President Wallace D. Loh.  “We will become partners in classroom innovation and professional leadership training. It will also help increase the pipeline of Prince George’s students to the university.”

“As the state’s flagship public university, the University of Maryland is uniquely positioned to support Prince George’s County Public Schools in our efforts to improve teaching and learning,” said Dr. Monica E. Goldson, CEO, Prince George’s County Public Schools. “We are grateful for the university’s continued partnership as we work to enhance academic excellence and opportunities for higher learning across the school system.”

CEii will serve as the planning hub for the PGCPS/UMD Improvement Science Collaborative, which is based on improvement science principles that bring together researchers and experts in co-equal partnership with practitioners and school leaders to create evidence-based approaches to solving pressing school issues.

“Through this partnership, we are working to solve tough problems in schools, from addressing achievement gaps in math to high rates of absenteeism,” Dr. Eubanks said. “We are committed to research that is directly relevant to local schools’ needs, as they identify them.”

One innovative part of the partnership is a dual appointment model, where university faculty hold joint appointments in the school district, and district leaders serve on the university faculty as visiting professors or fellows. This model exists in very few locations in the country, Dr. Eubanks said, and further reflects the commitment to transform K-12 education.

The Collaborative will also focus on the preparation of high quality teachers and leaders, in line with the recommendations of the Kirwan Commission, which examined Maryland K-12 education practices, policies and funding to improve students’ college and career readiness.

“The Kirwan Commission has underscored the importance of addressing school improvement in Maryland,” Dean Rice said. “At the University of Maryland College of Education, we are excited to be on the leading edge of this work through the design of innovative teacher and leader preparation programs that are responsive to the needs of our local school systems. Through this partnership, we will create a pipeline of highly effective and diverse educators who are prepared to address issues and challenges germane to PGCPS.”

The Collaborative’s projects—some new, some pre-existing—include:

  • Doctorate of Education in School System Leadership Program – in this innovative, practice-based Ed.D. model, PGCPS school system leadership work collaboratively to address a problem in their school system.
  • School Improvement Leadership Certificate Program – the second class of PGCPS teachers will complete the certificate program in June 2020.
  • Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Teaching Project – participation in the Improvement Leadership Education and Development (iLEAD) project.
  • Professional Learning Opportunities for UMD and PGCPS Faculty/Staff.
  • A Postdoctoral Network – the Network will bring together Ed.D. program graduates, along with UMD faculty and other PGCPS school leaders, to continue to address school issues and improve student outcomes in Networked Improvement Communities.
  • Data Sharing and Joint Publication.
  • High Quality Teacher and Leadership Preparation Programs – furthering the work of the Kirwan Commission, which focused on improving Maryland K-12 education, UMD will work to improve teacher preparation programs to meet PGCPS’ workforce needs.
  • Dual Appointments between PGCPS and UMD.
 
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UMD-led Study Named Most Impactful Paper Published in the Journal Science in 2019

January 24, 2020
Contacts: 

Kimbra Cutlip, 301-405-9463, Lee Tune 301-405-4679

COLLEGE PARK, Md. – The American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS) awarded its 2019 Newcomb Cleveland Prize to University of Maryland entomologists Raymond St. Leger, Brian Lovett and seven West African collaborators for their study of the use of a transgenic fungus to rapidly kill malaria mosquitoes.

The prestigious award is given to the authors of the most impactful paper published in AAAS’s flagship journal Science during the previous year. The winning paper is chosen based on the quality of the scholarship, innovation, presentation, and the likelihood of influencing the field and wider interdisciplinary significance. 

This winning study is the latest step in years of work led by St. Leger to develop and test genetically engineered fungi to fight insect-borne diseases, particularly those such as malaria, dengue and Zika carried by mosquitoes.

“We’re looking for papers that change the way people think about science,” said Holden Thorp, editor-in-chief of the journal Science and chair of the judging panel. “I think when it comes to a problem like malaria in a location like Burkina Faso, this was a new way of thinking about that problem. We felt that the careful way the experiments were done was very important. And I think that in terms of the public health, in terms of the science itself, in terms of the way it was rendered, it was a superb study from start to finish.”

The study, led by Lovett, St. Leger and their colleagues Abdoulaye Diabate and Etienne Bilgo from the Institut de Recherche en Sciences de la Santé and Centre Muraz in Burkina Faso, described the first trial of a transgenic approach to combat malaria mosquitoes ever to be tested outside the laboratory. The researchers first genetically modified a naturally occurring fungal pathogen to deliver a lethal, insect-specific toxin to mosquitoes. They then tested the fungi in a screened enclosure in Burkina Faso called a “MosquitoSphere,” which was specially designed to mimic conditions of a rural village. The study showed that treatment with the engineered fungi killed roughly 75% of insecticide-resistant mosquitoes and caused an established population of mosquitoes to collapse within 45 days.

According to Thorp, the AAAS award selection committee felt that using a mosquito-specific fungal pathogen was an extremely creative idea. They were impressed by both the careful way the experiments were done and the fact that the researchers carried the study all the way from the idea phase to providing proof that the idea can work.

“It’s hard enough to get a research paper into Science, but for it to be judged the most impactful paper of the year is astonishing, and it suggests they feel the same way we do about this work and its potential,” said St. Leger, a Distinguished University Professor in the Department of Entomology at UMD.

Lovett, who was awarded his Ph.D. in entomology from UMD in 2019 for conducting this research, was equally thrilled to receive the prize.

“It is an incredible honor for my Ph.D. work to be recognized by AAAS with the Newcomb Cleveland Prize,” Lovett said. “To have this prestigious scientific society describe our biotechnology as most promising is a testament to the interdisciplinary and application-focused approach of our international team.”

The project built on decades of creative, highly innovative work by St. Leger that has resulted in numerous new methods and discoveries which contribute to our understanding of infection in general, as well as providing surprising new strategies to combat insect pests.

“As the first transgenic malaria intervention validated outside the laboratory, this study required us to resolve not just scientific issues but many other considerations,” St. Leger said. “We had to gain support from NIH and the approval of the local agencies. Gaining regulatory permission from the National Biosecurity Agency in Burkina Faso was itself regarded as a groundbreaking accomplishment.”

St. Leger credited Lovett’s “can-do” collaborative approach for keeping the project on course through negotiations with various stakeholders and for accomplishing the important local education and training required for the study to succeed.

“The social and regulatory considerations are important aspects of this type of work that are under-supported and under-recognized in science generally,” Lovett said. “So, receiving validation from AAAS is encouraging.”

According to Thorp, the comprehensive approach of combining rigorous science with careful social and regulatory planning helped this research paper rise to the top of the year’s selections.

“A big part of what [the prize committee] focused on was the awareness that the researchers had of the way this study related to the location and regulatory interests that they had to take care of, and it made us feel really good to know that all of that was carefully registered,” Thorp said. "That’s why I say that the professionalism and the way this was done from top to bottom was really striking.”

For more information about this UMD-led research, read these 2019 and 2017 releases about the work:

In addition to St. Leger and Lovett, prize awardees include the following co-authors from the Institut de Recherche en Sciences de la Santé and Centre Muraz in Bobo-Dioulasso, Burkino Faso: Professors Abdoulaye Diabate and Roch K. Dabire, postdoctoral fellow Etienne Bilgo, graduate students Souro Abel Millogo, Issiaka Sare, Edounou Jacques Gnambani and Technician Abel Kader Ouattarra.

The award-winning research paper “Transgenic Metarhizium rapidly kills mosquitoes in a malaria-endemic region of Burkina Faso,” Brian Lovett, Etienne Bilgo, Souro Abel Millogo, Abel Kader Ouattarra, Issiaka Sare, Edounou Jacques Gnambani, Roch K. Dabire Abdoulaye Diabate and Raymond J. St. Leger, was published in the journal Science on May 30, 2019. 

This work was supported by the National Institutes of Health (Award No RO1-AI106998). The content of this article does not necessarily reflect the views of the organizations. 

 

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