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UMD Chosen as U.S.-China Strong Partner in Goal to Have 1 Million U.S. Students Learning Mandarin by 2020

October 3, 2016
Contacts: 

Vivian Hayward 301-405-4312

COLLEGE PARK, Md. – The University of Maryland has been chosen as one of the implementation partners for the “One-Million Strong” initiative led by the U.S.-China Strong Foundation (USCS), a nonprofit organization that seeks to ensure the next generation of U.S. leaders is equipped to engage effectively with China. The foundation has set a current target for the number of American K-12 students learning Mandarin to one million by 2020.

The University of Maryland’s Mandarin Center for Chinese Language Teacher Certification and Development will help to implement this goal by preparing Chinese language teachers toTeaching Mandarin teach in elementary, middle, and high schools throughout the U.S. In addition to growing and preparing PreK-12th grade Chinese language teachers, the center has also assisted the Department of Teaching and Learning, Policy and Leadership in the College of Education by cultivating several doctoral students to become Chinese language instructors in higher education and Chinese language researchers.

"The One-Million Strong Initiative is an important component of preparing American K-12 students for a globalized world. We are proud to support this initiative and further enhance the competitiveness of the State of Maryland's workforce," said Nathaniel Ahrens, Director of China Affairs. "The University of Maryland's Center for Chinese Language Teacher Certification and Development will continue to train and develop the teachers who will form the backbone of this effort."

According to a U.S.-China Strong news release, there are approximately 200,000 U.S. K-12 students learning Mandarin and more than 300 million English language learners in China. The One-Million Strong campaign seeks to increase U.S. K-12 students learning Mandarin five-fold by 2020.  This initiative was first announced in 2015 by Presidents Barack Obama and Xi Jinping.  The campaign’s three pillars are:
•    Endorsing widely-accepted Mandarin curricular norms at the K-12 level.
•    Doubling the number of Mandarin language teachers in the United States through expanded teacher training and teacher certification. UMD’s Mandarin Center for Chinese Language Teacher Certification and Development is one of five organizations partnering with U.S. - China Strong on achieving this goal.
•    Engaging technology platforms to ensure the accessibility of Mandarin language learning, particularly in underserved communities around the country.
One Million logo
One Million Strong is the second such presidential initiative led by the US-China Strong Foundation. It builds on President Obama’s 2013 “100K Strong” initiative to have 100,000 Americans studying in China by 2014, a goal that was not only achieved, but surpassed.

$2.1 million from the State of Maryland will Match Private Donations for Two Endowed Chairs at UMD

September 30, 2016
Contacts: 

Abby Robinson, 301-405-5845

COLLEGE PARK, Md. – The University of Maryland’s College of Computer, Mathematical, and Natural Sciences (CMNS) will receive $2.1 million from the state’s Maryland E-Nnovation Initiative (MEI) to match private donations establishing two endowed chairs in the college: one in the life sciences and the other in computer science.

The initiative, which launched last year, is designed to spur private donations to universities for applied research in scientific and technical fields by matching such donations.

The Andrew and Mary Balo and Nicholas and Susan Simon Endowed Chair, created by the couples with a joint gift of $1 million, will receive a $1 million MEI match. The Elizabeth Stevinson Iribe Endowed Chair, created by Iribe with a gift of $1.5 million, will receive a $1.1 million MEI match. This year’s MEI funding adds to the $2.1 million CMNS received from the initiative in 2015.

“I am extremely grateful to the state of Maryland and our donors, Elizabeth Stevinson Iribe, Andrew and Mary Balo, and Nicholas and Susan Simon, for their generous gifts,” said UMD President Wallace D. Loh. “Combined, these gifts will help accelerate the transformation of our campus and our state into a center for exploring solutions for human health and expanding resources for further developing our nationally ranked computer science program.”

Andrew Balo (B.S. ’70, microbiology) and Nicholas Simon (B.S. ’76, microbiology), two Terps turned successful biotech entrepreneurs, teamed up Nicholas and Susan Simon. Photo courtesy of Nicholas and Susan Simon.to create the university’s first endowed chair in the life sciences—without ever meeting each other. This new endowed chair will strengthen the college’s ability to recruit an outstanding life sciences faculty member with a focus on human health and/or disease.

“The thought behind it was that we needed a bigger commitment if we really wanted to bring on a top-notch faculty member and really enhance the life sciences at the University of Maryland,” said Simon. “We decided to come together and pool our resources to enable the dean to bring on a professor of even higher stature than he had envisioned.”

Simon has more than 30 years of experience in the biopharmaceutical industry, including at Genentech, where he was vice president of business and corporate development. There, he played an integral role in the acquisition, development and approval of the company’s blockbuster cancer products Rituxan, Avastin and Herceptin. Today, he is managing director of Clarus, a health care investment firm he co-founded in 2005.

Today, Balo is executive vice president of clinical, regulatory and quality at Dexcom, a startup that developed a continuous glucose monitoring device for people withMary and Andrew Balo. Photo by Cheri Meadows. diabetes. He’s widely regarded as an industry expert in regulatory and clinical strategies and has served on many Food and Drug Administration advisory panels. Balo also helped bring other new medical devices to the market, including a neurological cooling device, mechanical and tissue-based heart valves, pacemakers, pacing leads and a 3-D electrophysiology mapping device.

“We embraced the opportunity to give back to the university that enabled us to get to where we are today in our careers,” said Balo. “We hope our gifts will enable future life science students at Maryland to have even more opportunities than we did and to become leaders in the health sciences.”

The second chair that will receive MEI funding is the Elizabeth Stevinson Iribe Endowed Chair, which is currently held by Samir Khuller. Khuller serves as chair of the Department of Computer Science, which ranks No. 16 in the world according to the 2015 Academic Ranking of World Universities.Elizabeth Stevinson Iribe and Brendan Iribe. Photo by John T. Consoli.

This year’s MEI match to Iribe adds to the two she received last year. In 2015, she donated $526,562 to create the Paul Chrisman Iribe Endowed E-Nnovate Professorship in virtual reality, which received an equal match from the state and is named for her brother to honor his leadership of the family. In addition, she contributed $526,562 to establish the Reginald Allan Hahne Endowed E-Nnovate Professorship in computer science, which received an equal match from the state and honors her son’s high school computer science teacher.

As the Department of Computer Science begins searches to fill these two new professorships, construction is beginning on the Brendan Iribe Center for Computer Science and Innovation—a cutting-edge research, education and entrepreneurship facility for computer science at UMD that is expected to open in 2018. The new building became a reality thanks to a $31 million gift from Elizabeth’s son, Brendan, a UMD alumnus and co-founder and CEO of Oculus.

“I couldn’t be happier that all of my donations have been matched by the state to amplify their impact,” said Iribe. “I hope others will take advantage of this wonderful program to bring more outstanding faculty to College Park.”

Last year, the MEI provided matching funding for a third endowment at UMD. The Michael and Eugenia Brin Endowed E-Nnovate Chair, funded by a gift of $1.05 million from the Brins with an equal amount from the state, will support a chair in applied math. Michael, a professor emeritus of mathematics, joined the UMD faculty in 1980 and retired in 2011. Eugenia is also retired following a career as a climate and weather forecasting scientist at NASA. They are the parents of Sergey Brin ’93, co-founder of Google.

In two years, the MEI has provided $12.5 million in funding to leverage $13.7 million in private donations to UMD; the University of Maryland, Baltimore; The Johns Hopkins University; Morgan State University; and Washington College. The funding can be used to pay salaries of newly endowed department chairs, staff, and support personnel in designated scientific and technical fields of study; fund related research fellowships for graduate and undergraduate students; and purchase lab equipment and other basic infrastructure and equipment.

“The groundbreaking research these universities are conducting and the bright young minds they are nurturing is helping to fuel Maryland’s economy and keep our state on the cutting edge of technology and discovery,” said Commerce Secretary Mike Gill. “We are proud to partner with these world-class institutions and look forward to seeing the fruits of the new professorships and research chairs for years to come.”

To read more about the Andrew and Mary Balo and Nicholas and Susan Simon Endowed Chair, visit https://cmns.umd.edu/news-events/features/3661.

To read more about UMD's 2015 MEI awards, visit https://cmns.umd.edu/news-events/features/3227.

UMD Researcher Awarded $1.8M to Develop Innovative Methods to Teach Foundational Math Skills

September 30, 2016
Contacts: 

Audrey Hill, 301-405-3468

COLLEGE PARK, Md. Kelly S. Mix, Ph.D., chair and professor at the University of Maryland College of Education, received a $1.8 million grant from the National Science Foundation to develop innovative methods to teach children place value concepts. The four-year award supports research to develop an effective way to teach kindergarten and first grade students this important foundational math concept.

“Understanding place value concepts is one of the most important mathematic skills for elementary school students to attain,” said Mix, chair of the Department of Human Development and Quantitative Methodology.Kelly Mix, chair of the Department of Human Development and Quantitative Methodology “Past research demonstrates that children who have a weak mastery of place value struggle with achievement in math throughout elementary and middle school.”

Mix, along with co-awardee Linda Smith, Ph.D., professor at Indiana University Bloomington, will develop and evaluate educational materials that take a novel approach to teaching young children place value concepts. This approach leverages principles from cognitive science to help children better align the structures in place value symbols, which should ultimately lead to deeper understanding of these concepts.

Place value works by representing units and counts; each place (i.e. the spatial position of digits) represents a base-10 unit (ones, tens, hundreds, etc.). The researchers will design and test educational materials that help students to understand not just that a two-digit number is smaller than a three-digit number, but also, for example, that the number 42 is equivalent to four tens and two ones—its base-10 syntax.

“By making base-10 syntax explicit to children when teaching place value, our expectation is that children will be better prepared to attempt advanced calculations,” Mix said.

In a series of three studies, researchers will recruit more than 700 K-2 students and provide them with instructional materials and activities that teach them to understand the relationship between written numbers (i.e. 22), number names (i.e. twenty-two) and physical quantities (such as 22 rocks), as represented in Figure 1. These experiments will help assess the effectiveness of this method in teaching young children place value concepts and on overall math achievement.
Figure 1
Based on the results of these studies, the researchers will refine and make available free, teacher-friendly instructional materials to educators.

Mix, a former elementary school teacher, focuses her research on the development of mathematical cognition and number concepts in young children.

UMD Scientists Help Develop New Drought Early Warning Tool

September 28, 2016
Contacts: 

Matthew Wright 301-405-9267

COLLEGE PARK, Md. – Farmers, ranchers, and water resource managers in North America will have more time to prepare for potentially damaging drought conditions thanks to a new Corn shows the affect of drought in Texas on Aug. 20, 2013. USDAearly warning product now available online.

Developed by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) and its partners, including the University of Maryland, The Evaporative Stress Index (ESI) provides drought warnings several weeks ahead of most other currently available drought indicators. By detecting the advance signals of plant stress, including dry soils, decreased plant transpiration and warming land temperature, ESI can raise the alarm before plants visibly dry out and lose their green appearance.
 
This new drought index (ESI) – part of NOAA’s GOES Evapotranspiration and Drought Product System (GET-D) – integrates satellite observations of land surface temperatures from NOAA’s Geostationary Operational Environmental Satellite (GOES) with vegetation information from the NOAA/NASA Visible Infrared Imaging Radiometer Suite (VIIRS). Researchers then use these observations to estimate water loss due to evaporation from the soil surface, as well as water that evaporates, or transpires, from the leaves of plants.
 
 “When vegetation is already turning brown, it’s too late. ESI is able to see the onset of vegetation stress before it gets to this state,” said Christopher Hain, an assistant research scientist at UMD’s Earth System Science Interdisciplinary Center (ESSIC) who played a key role in transitioning ESI from the research phase to NOAA operations. “There are other tools that estimate the potential for drought stress by measuring rainfall, wind speed, heat or other parameters. But ESI directly measures the actual stress on plants.”

The new product represents many years of research and support by NOAA, NASA, the University of Maryland, the U.S. Department of Agriculture, the University of Wisconsin, and the National Drought Mitigation Center.
 
The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) began developing ESI in the late 1990s under the direction of Martha Anderson, a research scientist at USDA’s Agricultural Research Service. Hain began collaborating with Anderson’s team in 2008 as part of his doctoral research at the University of Alabama in Huntsville. From the start, Hain’s main task was to help integrate ESI into NOAA’s research program, with the eventual goal of transitioning the tool from research to operations. Hain continued in this role when he joined ESSIC and the Cooperative Institute for Climate and Satellites-Maryland (CICS-MD) in 2010, with help from ESSIC/CICS-MD postdoctoral researcher Li Fang and former faculty research assistant Zhengpeng Li.

NASA contributed funds for the research phase, and after ESI showed promise as a useful tool for decision-makers, NOAA stepped in to continue building out ESI as an operational product, with UMD/ESSIC managing the development of the system and serving as a central point of collaboration for NOAA, NASA, USDA and end user partners.
 
“The University of Maryland was responsible for building this system out and transitioning it to operations at NOAA,” Hain said. “When scientists develop a new tool from a research project, there is no guarantee that it will always be available unless it has operational support. And during the research phase, much effort focuses on hindcasting to determine how well the product’s predictions matched real observations. Even the best tool is not useful until it is operationally available to help make useful predictions for the end user.”

Transitioning from aGOES evapotranspiration and drought composite map research project to NOAA operations provides end users with a robust support environment so that farmers, ranchers and other stakeholders have access to timely and reliable data, Hain explained.

“As a researcher, your work is only as good as someone else’s ability to use it. So for any effort like this, operational use is the ideal end goal,” Hain added. “Getting to this point with ESI is a testimony to its need in the drought community. NOAA essentially decided ESI is a useful product that was worth making available to the community.”

The GET-D system’s early warning potential shows great promise for rapid onset droughts, also called flash droughts. Flash droughts reach their peak intensity within weeks and usually occur during the growing season, whereas typical droughts can take months or even years to develop. Their quick onset makes flash droughts particularly devastating to farmers and ranchers who have less time to respond to the damaging conditions.

During the devastating 2012 Central Great Plains flash drought, ESI developers observed, for the first time, a rapid change in the ESI in real time. Although ESI was still in the research phase at this time, the observations served as strong evidence that ESI could provide valuable early warning to farmers, ranchers and water managers. The ESI outperformed other indicators by several weeks, suggesting moderate to severe drought conditions well before the U.S. Drought Monitor, for example.

“Droughts are one of the most common and devastating natural disasters, affecting communities across our nation,” said Mark Svoboda, co-founder of the U.S. Drought Monitor. “This new product will help communities spot and prepare for flash droughts, which come on quickly and take a heavy toll on businesses and the public.”
The team of scientists involved in developing the ESI emphasizes that this new product is just a first foundational step toward a global drought monitoring product. With several large global end-users requesting information, researchers hope to eventually expand the ESI to cover the entire world.

ESI development was funded in part by the NASA Applied Sciences Program, as well as the NOAA Modeling, Analysis, Predictions, and Projections and Societal Applications Research Programs.

UMD Researchers Team Up to Study Cybercrime Victimization over Smartphone Devices

September 27, 2016
Contacts: 

Sara Gavin  301-405-1733

COLLGE PARK, Md. – As advancing technology allows people to email, shop and even pay bills directly from their smartphones, are users setting themselves up to be easy targets for cybercrime attacks?

Researchers from the Department of Criminology and Criminal Justice and the Fraunhofer Center for Experimental Software Engineering at the University of Maryland are teaming up to try and answer this question and determine which factors make smartphone users most vulnerable to cybercrime. The research team was recently awarded a $500,000, two-year grant from the National Science Foundation (NSF) to support its scientific activity on this project. 
David Maimon, associate professor of criminology and criminal justice
“In the past, the bad guys focused on targeting computer users because desktop and laptop computers were so prevalent. Nowadays, everybody has a smartphone and so it seems the  bad guys have found a new playground for their malicious activities,” said David Maimon, an associate professor of criminology and criminal justice, and one of the project’s Principal Investigators.

According to Maimon, people open themselves up to cyberattacks through their phones in four distinct ways: by visiting suspicious websites; downloading applications that contain malicious software; opening email attachments and clicking on links sent through text messages from unknown senders; and utilizing unsecure, public Wi-Fi networks to access personal information, such as a bank account.

To give the researchers better insight into common smartphone behaviors, research scientist Lucas Layman and his team from the Fraunhofer Center for Experimental Software Engineering at UMD developed an application that collects data from smartphone users who volunteer to participate in a study. The application will allow researchers to tell when, where and how often these smartphone users talk, text, email, listen to music, surf the internet and more. It will also provide information on what types of wireless networks users are accessing, how secure those connections are, and where they are being made.

Lucas Layman, UMD computer scientist“This research is an exciting fusion of social science and computer science research. We are unobtrusively collecting behavioral data from a large number of participants using cutting edge smartphone technologies and data mining techniques, all while preserving the users’ privacy,” Layman said.

Researchers hope to recruit approximately 200 participants for the study. After Layman’s team collects the smartphone data, Maimon will pair the information with questionnaires completed by participants about their personal characteristics, as well as records from the U.S. Census Bureau and neighborhood maps provided by Google Street View. 

“Appending all this information together will allow us to pinpoint some of the environmental and individual factors that determine a person’s susceptibility to cybercrime over a smartphone,” Maimon said. “By doing this type of research, we hope to find ways to educate smartphone users with respect to the security-related issues that are out there as well as guide smartphone developers’ efforts to develop more secure devices in the first place.”

The NSF award number for this project is 1617301.

MD Professors & Alumnus Named 2016 Thomson Reuters Citation Laureates for Science of Chaos Work

September 26, 2016
Contacts: 

Abby Robinson 301-405-5845, Lee Tune 301-405-4679

COLLEGE PARK, Md. – Two professors and an alumnus from the University of Maryland have been selected as 2016 Thomson Reuters Citation Laureates in physics. The Citation Laureates program, begun in 2002, uses a variety of criteria, including scientific research citations, to identify the most influential researchers who are likely to win a Nobel Prize. To date, 39 researchers named Citation Laureates later won a Nobel Prize. 

The 2016 Citation Laureates include Edward Ott, UMD Distinguished University Professor in the Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering, Department of Physics, and the Institute for Research in Electronics and Applied Physics; Celso Grebogi, UMD alumnus and former UMD faculty member, now the Sixth Century Chair in Nonlinear and Complex Systems at the University of Aberdeen in Scotland; and James A. Yorke, UMD Distinguished University Professor Emeritus in the Department of Mathematics, Department of Physics, and the Institute for Physical Science and Technology.

The computer generated image of a pedulum's chaotic motion. Yorke, Ott and Grebogi are long-time leaders in chaos science – the study of complex (nonlinear) dynamic systems. Chaos research has led to advances in such diverse disciplines as biology, economics, meteorology, chemistry, engineering, fluid mechanics and physics, to name just a few.

Thomson Reuters says its Citation Laureates are “researchers whose advances have earned quantifiable esteem and wielded unusually strong influence in the scientific community. This impact is manifestly illustrated by the high quantity of citations to their work – with each citation representing a direct mark of influence and significance as judged by the research community.”

Ott, Grebogi and Yorke received the Thomson Reuters honor for their description of a control theory of chaotic systems that came to be known as the “OGY method,” after the order their last names appeared in their paper describing the method. That paper, which has been cited 4,087 times according to the Web of ScienceTM, was published in the journal Physical Review Letters in 1990. It is one of some 80 papers on chaos science that the three have authored together.

“Different people have different research goals, said Yorke. “One of mine is to have an impact on the way other people work by providing them with interesting new ideas. Perhaps being named being named Citation Laureate is recognition that my collaborators and I are succeeding in that goal.”

While most researchers try to avoid chaos in physical, chemical or biological systems altogether, Ott, Grebogi and Yorke developed a method to control chaos in such systems and even improve system performance. The basic idea begins with the significant observation that an infinite number of unstable periodic orbits are embedded in a chaotic attractor. To employ the OGY method, one selects an unstable orbit that yields improved performance and stabilizes it by applying small system perturbations to the attractor. However, the perturbation must be tiny compared with the overall size of the attractor to avoid significant modification of the system’s natural dynamics.

“Our method renders an otherwise chaotic motion more stable and predictable,” said Ott. “It was also the first method to take advantage of the attributes of chaotic dynamics and use them for a specific purpose.”

Researchers have used the OGY method to control chaos in a variety of systems, including turbulent fluids, oscillating chemical reactions, magneto-mechanical oscillators and cardiac tissues.

“We are excited, but certainly not surprised, that University of Maryland faculty members and alumni are considered to be in the running for the Nobel Prize in physics,” said Jayanth Banavar, dean of the College of Computer, Mathematical, and Natural Sciences at UMD. “Professors Ott, Grebogi and Yorke have authored classic works in the field of chaos theory, with far-reaching impact in areas including meteorology, the life sciences, computer science and economics.”

Two UMD physics faculty members previously won the Nobel Prize in physics: Distinguished University Professor William Phillips in 1997 and College Park Professor John Mather in 2006. In addition, UMD alumnus Raymond Davis Jr., B.S. ’37, M.S. ’39, chemistry, received the Nobel Prize in physics in 2002.

“To appear in the 2016 Citation Laureates is a great honor,” said Grebogi. “While we are delighted to be included, it is unlikely that we can compete this year against the Laser Interferometer Gravitational-Wave Observatory (LIGO) gravity experiment, the first direct detection of gravitational waves and a result long awaited since Einstein’s prediction of gravity waves in 1916. It is, nevertheless, a privilege to have our work—which opened up a whole new area of research and changed philosophically our way of thinking about chaos—considered in the same company as such a significant breakthrough in physics.”

 “Highly-cited papers turn out to be one of the most reliable indicators of world-class research, and provides a glimpse at what research stands the best chance at being recognized with a Nobel Prize,” said Jessica Turner, global head of government and academia, Intellectual Property and Science, Thomson Reuters.

About UMD’s Citation Laureates
Edward Ott received his bachelor’s degree in electrical engineering from The Cooper Union in 1963, and M.S. and Ph.D. degrees in electrophysics from The Polytechnic Institute of Brooklyn in 1964 and 1967, respectively. In 1968, he joined the faculty at Cornell University and came to UMD in 1979. He is a fellow of the IEEE, the American Physical Society, the World Innovation Foundation, and the Society for Industrial and Applied Mathematics.

Celso Grebogi, M.S. ’75, Ph.D. ’78, physics, remained at UMD as a faculty member from 1981 until 2001, with appointments in the Department of Physics, Department of Mathematics, Institute for Plasma Research, and Institute for Physical Science and Technology. After serving as professor at the University of Sao Paulo’s Institute of Physics, he joined the University of Aberdeen in 2005. He is a fellow of The Royal Society of Edinburgh, the Brazilian Academy of Sciences, the World Academy of Sciences, the American Physical Society, and the Institute of Physics.

James A. Yorke, Ph.D. ’66, mathematics, came to UMD in 1963 as a mathematics graduate student and joined the faculty as an assistant professor in 1967. In 2003, he was awarded the Japan Prize, one of the most esteemed science technology prizes. He is a fellow of the American Physical Society, the American Association for the Advancement of Science, the American Mathematical Society, and the Society for Industrial and Applied Mathematics.

About the University of Maryland
The University of Maryland 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 37,000 students, 9,000 faculty and staff, and 250 academic programs. Its faculty includes three Nobel laureates, three Pulitzer Prize winners, 56 members of the national academies and scores of Fulbright scholars. The institution has a $1.8 billion operating budget and secures $550 million annually in external research funding. For more information about the University of Maryland, visit www.umd.edu

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UMD Celebrates Homecoming Week 2016

September 23, 2016
Contacts: 

Lee Tune, 301-405-4679

COLLEGE PARK, Md. – The University of Maryland will host its annual Homecoming Week from Sunday, September 25 - Saturday, October 1, 2016. UMD’s campus-wide celebration will offer dozens of Fearless and family-friendly events, including alumni gatherings, artistic performances, service projects and athletic competitions.

Homecoming Week will kick off on Sunday, September 25 with a Terps Against Hunger Homecoming Service Project from 10:30 a.m. – 8:45 p.m. at the XFINITY Center. Volunteers from across campus and the local community will work together to package 400,000 meals that will be donated to local food banks and pantries to reduce food insecurity. Also on Sunday, Women’s Soccer v. Northwestern begins at 1 p.m.

UMD Homecoming graphicOn Tuesday, September 27, the Homecoming Juke Joint event – featuring music, poetry readings, movies and games – will be held in the Adele H. Stamp Student Union, Grand Ballroom, from 8:00 p.m. - 11:00 p.m. 

On Wednesday, September 28, the Black Alumni Association and The Network Success Student Initiative will host the second annual Gift of Giving Gala, as part of the Whittle Johnson Promise to support and advance the education and professional development of African-American students at UMD. Designed to create meaningful networking opportunities among students and alumni and to promote scholarship, the gala is at the College Park Marriott Hotel from 6:30 p.m. to 9:30 p.m. Registration required. https://giftofgivinggala.splashthat.com/

On Thursday, September 29 Student Entertainment Events (SEE) will host the annual Homecoming Comedy Show (tickets required) featuring T.J. Miller, with very special guest Damon Wayans Jr.

On Friday, September 30, UMD will host Terp Carnival on McKeldin Mall, offering rides, games, prizes and entertainment for students and families alike from 4:00 p.m. – 8:00 p.m. Alumni in town will also have the opportunity to reconnect with fellow Terps and learn about upcoming Alumni Association events and volunteer opportunities.  UMD will host a fireworks and laser light display at 7:50 p.m. on McKeldin Mall. The university would like to invite the surrounding community to enjoy the fireworks and to be advised of increased noise on the evening of September 30. 

Finally, throughout the day on Saturday, October 1, dozens of alumni and student organizations will host Homecoming tailgates and gatherings, including the Alumni Zone Tailgate hosted by the UMD Alumni Association from 12:30 p.m. – 3:00 p.m. at the Samuel Riggs IV Alumni Center. These events will lead up to the Homecoming football game against the Purdue Boilermakers (kick-off at 3:30 p.m.) at CapitalOne Field at Maryland Stadium.

To view the full Homecoming Week schedule, visit http://homecoming.umd.edu/calendar. Follow the celebration and join in on social media with #UMDHomecoming.

Following Launch of $75 Million Initiative Making UMD the Nation's First Do Good Campus, Terps Against Hunger to Celebrate One Million Meals Packed

September 23, 2016
Contacts: 

Katie Lawson 301-405-4622

Congressman Chris Van Hollen to assist UMD community at Homecoming service event in packing nutritious meals for local children and families in need

COLLEGE PARK, Md. – Days after announcing a $75 million initiative that makes the University of Maryland the nation’s first Do Good campus, UMD will host an annual service project to kickoff Homecoming Week 2016. The event will mark one million meals packaged by Terps Against Hunger, a UMD student-led grassroots campaign to fight local hunger and a winner of the 2016 Do Good Challenge at the university.
 
Maryland Congressman Chris Van Hollen will join the university community in packaging nutritious, non-perishable meals for children and families in the region. Starting as a UMD student service project, the annual event has expanded to include faculty, staff, alumni, parents, and local community members in efforts to do good and combat local hunger.
 
WHAT: 
UMD, Terps Against Hunger and the university community, joined by Maryland Congressman Van Hollen, will participate in a service project to package meals for local children and families in need.
 
This is the first UMD service event since the university launched the Do Good Institute to train the next generation of Do Good leaders and establish the University as the first Do Good college campus in the country. Support for Do Good programs is expected to top $75 million from individual and family philanthropy, state funding, corporate and foundation grants, and university resources.
 
WHO:                  
•    Wallace D. Loh, President, University of Maryland
•    Chris Van Hollen, Congressman, Maryland’s 8th District
•    Thousands of Terps Against Hunger volunteers from the UMD and surrounding community
•    Robert C. Orr, Dean, School of Public Policy
•    Robert T. Grimm, Jr., Director of the Do Good Institute
 
WHEN: 
Sunday, September 25, 2016
Congressman Van Hollen appearance and one millionth meal celebration:
12:30 p.m. – 1:30 p.m.
*Note: Service event runs from 10:30 a.m. – 8:45 p.m., media avail begins at 12:30 p.m.
 
WHERE:
XFINITY Center, University of Maryland
8500 Paint Branch Drive, College Park, MD 20740
For directions, visit http://www.umterps.com/ViewArticle.dbml?ATCLID=208131345
 
PARKING:          
Parking will be available in Lot 9 adjacent to XFINITY Center.
Visit http://maps.umd.edu/map/ to view the campus map.
 
MEDIA RSVP:    
Media interested in attending should contact Katie Lawson at 301-405-4622 or lawsonk@umd.edu.

UMD-Led Team Cracks 60-Year Code Through Discovery of Enzyme that Optimizes Plant Life

September 22, 2016
Contacts: 

Graham Binder 301-405-9235, Lee Tune 301-405-4679

College Park, MD -- A UMD-led team of researchers has answered a question that scientists have been pondering for 60 years: Exactly how do plants turn off the action of the vital plant growth hormone auxin?

It turns out the answer is an enzyme now identified and characterized for the first time by scientists from the University of Maryland’s College of Agriculture and Natural Resources (AGNR) and from the Agricultural Research and Development Center of The Ohio State University, The researchers published their findings this week in a paper in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (PNAS).

Auxin is the determining factor in how a plant grows, develops and responds to the environment.  Scientists have long known the processes of synthesis and breakdown by which plants optimally regulate the amount and effects of the hormone. However, what has been unknown until now is what enzyme or enzymes catalyze the breakdown, or oxidation, of auxin. 

Led by UMD’s Jun Zhang, a recent AGNR PhD graduate from plant science and landscape architecture, and Wendy Peer, Ph.D., an assistant professor in AGNR’s department of environmental science and technology, the research team used a combination of biochemistry, genetics, molecular biology, physiology and metabolomics (the study of small molecules found in plant cells and fluids) to show the primary breakdown enzyme is dioxygenase of auxin oxidation (DAO).Image Credit:  INRA and Jean Weber Under Creative Commons License - https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0/

This is promising new knowledge for horticulturalists and farmers. Controlling when and where and how much auxin is active via DAO could lead to new ways to improve plant growth and productivity. This could have wide-ranging effects in crops from improving drought stress to increasing biomass. Benefits for the nursery industry include improved rooting of cuttings from tomatoes to trees.

Zhang and Peer and colleagues used a small flowering plant or weed called Arabidopsis as their plant model for this research. In this plant, they were able to showcase the inactivation of auxin by way of DAO, facilitating the process of that turns auxin off. Prior to these findings, the enzymes that catalyze this process and how they work to maintain hormone balance and influence plant growth only had been hinted at in studies of apple trees and rice plants.

“We are excited about solving this puzzle at last,” says Peer. “Our goal is to address the world food crisis in the face of climate change. Understanding and then controlling the activity of this essential plant hormone is one of the keys to doing just that.”

Their paper in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (PNAS) is titled “DAO1 catalyzes temporal and tissue-specific oxidative inactivation of auxin in Arabidopsis thaliana.”

This is one of three papers published together on this subject with UMD and Ohio State demonstrating the biochemistry, genetics, physiology, and metabolomics of DAO; Umeå Plant Science Centre, Sweden, showing auxin metabolomics, genetics and physiology; and the University of Nottingham, UK, modelling DAO functions in auxin homeostasis in roots.

Image is by INRA and Jean Weber Under Creative Commons License. Link (link is external) to original photo in Flickr Commons.

University of Maryland Hosts 2nd Annual Terp Farm Fall Harvest Festival

September 21, 2016
Contacts: 

Allison Lilly Tjaden 301-314-1016

COLLEGE PARK, Md. – The University of Maryland will host the 2nd annual Terp Farm Fall Harvest Festival on Friday, September 23, 2016 at Terp Farm, a collaborative project between UMD Dining Services, the College of Agriculture & Natural Resources, and the Office of Sustainability.

Terp Farm occupies five acres at UMD’s Upper Marlboro agriculture research facility located 15 miles south of College Park, Md. Formerly the campus’ tobacco research farm, the Upper Marlboro site has transformed into a research facility for diverse crops and now hosts the production of vegetables and cut flowers for campus. Terp Farm places a particular focus on harvesting vegetables for preparation and consumption in UMD dining halls and catering functions. Produce is also donated to food-insecure members of the campus through the Campus Pantry program and nearby communities. From an educational perspective, Terp Farm embodies the University’s land-grant mission as an accessible resource for the student body, providing regular opportunities for hands-on farming, learning and training.Terp Farm_Fall Harvest Festival_2016_Flyer

“We were humbled and thrilled by the success of the inaugural festival, and knew we had to make this a yearly event to expose greater numbers of the University community to the amazing things happening at Terp Farm,” said Allison Tjaden, Assistant Director of New Initiatives for Dining Services and manager of Terp Farm. “Terps growing food for other Terps, the built-in educational opportunities for our student body, and the deep history rooted in this research facility make this such a special opportunity for all to experience. Plus, free food, free transportation, and games certainly sweeten the deal!”

This fall-themed event will feature food made with fresh ingredients grown at Terp Farm, a live performance from the Hayley Fahey Band, farm tours, pumpkin painting and information tables and activities provided by the College of Agriculture & Natural Resources.
UMD faculty, staff and students are invited to attend the Terp Farm Fall Harvest Festival on Friday, from 2 to 6 p.m. Free transportation to and from Terp Farm will be provided on the day of the festival. Shuttles provided by the Department of Transportation Services will be leaving from the side of The Stamp Student Union at Union Lane every half hour from 2:00 pm until 4:30 and returning from the farm every half hour from 3:15 until 6:15.

The address is 2005 Largo Road, Upper Marlboro, MD 20744. Free parking will be available at the farm. 

Please visit the Terp Farm Fall Harvest Festival event page for additional information.

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