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Agree to Disagree: Why Teams Perform Better with Divergent Perspectives

May 17, 2018
Contacts: 

Gregory Muraski, 301-405-5283

COLLEGE PARK, Md. - Team members aren’t always going to agree with leaders’ goals and strategies — but that’s not necessarily a bad thing. In certain circumstances, having disagreement among teams, and the discourse that this disagreement elicits, can translate into success for certain types of teams who are tackling complex problems, according to researchers from the University of Maryland’s Robert H. Smith School of Business, University of Florida’s Warrington College of Business, and Michigan State University's Eli Broad College of Business.

The researchers studied multiteam systems (MTS) — or teams of teams — that take on complex projects or crisis situations, such as new product launch teams, natural disaster emergency response teams or major accident scene patient-care teams.

Multiteam systems are complex, and with so many teams involved conventional wisdom suggests it's best for all parties to agree on strategy and goals quickly. The researchers —  Trevor Foulk, assistant professor, University of Maryland, Klodiana Lanaj, associate professor, University of Florida, and John Hollenbeck, professor, Michigan State University — found otherwise. 

MTS are often structured with a leadership team that coordinates the actions of several component teams. Due to the complex nature of these systems, teams coordinate via planning and goal-setting, and receive their tasks from a leadership team. These large, complex interdependent teams have to plan for risk because they are dealing with high-stakes projects. They need to weigh the costs and rewards involved in any possible course of action to figure out which strategy to pursue. 

The research, which was recently published in the Academy of Management Journal, reveals that multiteam systems actually perform better — by engaging in less unwarranted risk behaviors and more aspirational behaviors — when component teams disagree with leadership teams about of how much risk the MTS should take. Foulk said this is likely because agreement may spark premature consensus, whereas disagreement causes all parties involved to express ideas, opinions, and concerns that may ultimately lead the team to consider better options.

“There is comfort in agreement and shared views, but the leadership team should be particularly wary of rapid consensus during the planning process because the research shows this can result in lower performance and lower aspirational behavior,” said the researchers.

They believe if leaders see team members agreeing too quickly, they should challenge their decisions to elicit different perspectives.

To keep people from simply going along with the leadership team, Foulk said leaders shouldn’t reveal their goals during the planning session. They should urge team members to speak up first and voice diverse perspectives during planning and goal setting, rather than too quickly agreeing on a strategy. Leaders also need to be patient because the benefits of different perspectives may take time to emerge, said the researchers.

University of Maryland Launches $1.5 Billion Campaign

May 14, 2018
Contacts: 

Katie Lawson, 301-405-4622 

COLLEGE PARK, Md. - The University of Maryland has launched a $1.5 billion campaign, Fearless Ideas: The Campaign for Maryland. The fundraising campaign will focus on elevating and expanding the university’s mission of service, enhancing academic distinction and bolstering UMD’s leading-edge research enterprise.  

Campaign event: synapto students at event“We build students' dreams—our dreams—one scholarship, one faculty member, one hands-on experience at a time,” said University of Maryland President Wallace D. Loh. “I encourage you to join in our ascendant journey. Together, we will build our fearless future.”

In concert with the university’s strategic plan, Fearless Ideas: The Campaign for Maryland will support the university’s continued ascent as a world-class public research university. Gifts and pledges totaling $902 million have already been received toward the goal to-date, including milestone gifts from the A. James & Alice B. Clark Foundation, Brendan Iribe, Kevin Plank, Barry and Mary Gossett, the Robert H. Smith Family Foundation, Emilio Fernandez, and an anonymous donor to launch the Do Good initiative. 

The $1.5 billion goal will support students, faculty, research, arts and athletics through four key priority areas:

  • Fearless Ideas will discover new knowledge through new investments in our world-renowned faculty with new endowed chairs, professorships, fellowships and deanships across campus.
  • Fearless Ideas will inspire Maryland pride with broad support for innovative programs and capital projects that deliver on our land-grant mission of service to the state and nation, and bolster a vibrant campus with community impact through state-of-the-art facilities.
  • Fearless Ideas will transform the student experience with more scholarships to expand access and affordability, and innovative co-curricular programs for students like action learning, study abroad, research opportunities, internships and externships.
  • Fearless Ideas will turn imagination into innovation by expanding pioneering programs in entrepreneurship, social innovation and creative thinking, and by amplifying our impact as the nation’s first Do Good campus.

“We are excited to embark on this ambitious fundraising campaign that will transform our university, enabling us to solve the biggest problems facing our world today,” said Jackie Lewis, UMD’s vice president for university relations. “I am grateful for our generous supporters who recognize that investing in our students, faculty and university today means setting the pace for the future of philanthropy for generations to come.” 

The campaign is led by generous co-chairs:Campaign co-shairs

  • Alma G. Gildenhorn '53, Philanthropist;
  • Barry P. Gossett '62, Principal, Gossett Group;
  • Brendan Iribe, Co-founder, Oculus VR; (Honorary Co-chair)
  • William E. “Brit” Kirwan, Chancellor Emeritus, University System of Maryland;
  • Karen B. Levenson '76, Educator;
  • Kevin A. Plank '92, Founder, CEO and Chairman, Under Armour; (Honorary Co-chair)
  • Michelle Smith, President, Robert H. Smith Family Foundation; and
  • Craig A. Thompson '92, Partner, Venable LLP.

The campaign co-chairs released a joint statement in support of Fearless Ideas: The Campaign for Maryland

“We're proud of all that the University of Maryland has accomplished as one of top public universities in the country and globally. The case for support for the University of Maryland is simple: by being part of Fearless Ideas: The Campaign for Maryland, we educate the next generation of global leaders when we fund the students, faculty, arts, research and athletics of our state's flagship university. We serve our state, the nation and world in our quest to discover new knowledge. As a Do Good campus, we believe investment in education at the University of Maryland sparks a lasting effect that carries on for generations.”

Supporters of the university gathered on May 11 to mark the campaign’s launch with the opportunity to see all the university has to offer, and interact with some of UMD’s most innovative and forward-thinking students and faculty. Photos and videos are available at https://go.umd.edu/fearlessideasmedia.  

To learn more about Fearless Ideas: The Campaign for Maryland, visit fearlessideas.umd.edu

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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 56 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 University of Maryland College Park Foundations Inc. 
The University of Maryland College Park Foundation was established in support of the university’s goal to become one of the top research universities in the nation. Dedicated specifically to the University of Maryland, College Park, the foundation provides opportunities for alumni, friends, corporations and charitable foundations to support directly the mission and strategic priorities of the university.

 

UMD Study Uncovers Germ Cell Findings with Implications for Disease Research

May 11, 2018
Contacts: 

Samantha Watters, 301-405-2434

COLLEGE PARK, Md. – A UMD-led, multi-institution team of researchers has discovered new mechanisms that dictate the development of germline cells — precursor stem cells that become either eggs or sperm depending on whether they end up in ovaries or testes. Their findings ultimately could help advance research to combat cancers, viral diseases, male infertility and other health issues.

Stem cells, types of undifferentiated cells that have the ability to develop, or differentiate, into specific cell types such as egg, sperm, muscle or nerve cells, are at the forefront of new knowledge for understanding and fighting diseases. However, the mechanisms by which stem cells, and particularly germ cells, differentiate are still incompletely understood.  Germ cells are the only cell type capable of passing genetic information on to the next generation.

Published in Stem Cell Reports, the new study examined in chicken germ cells, mechanisms that factor into germ cell development and gene expression. In particular, it looked at DNA methylation, an essential mechanism for environmental (epigenetic) impacts on cell differentiation. UMD Professor Jiuzhou Song, Ph.D., department of animal and avian sciences, College of Agriculture and Natural Resources, and colleagues uncovered DNA methylation patterns associated with genes responsible for cancers and viral infections. 

Also discovered were markers in chickens used to identify male germ cells, uncovering how environmental factors-- epigenetics--affect these cells and providing significant insight into causes of and possible treatments for, male infertility in animals, including humans. These findings unlock possibilities for future animal and human health research in these areas, and also set the stage for chickens as a more prominent model organism for stem cell research. 

Stem cell research has applications for treating cancer, heart disease, neurological disorders like Alzheimer’s disease, diabetes, and even injuries. These cells can replicate and replace damaged tissue, so understanding their development is important to the future of this work. Epigenetic factors that affect the way genes are expressed, can also play a large role in cell and tissue development, and no studies have previously looked at the mechanisms at play in germline stem cell development and how epigenetics play a role. 

“From genome to phenome as it is called is a very complicated process for different gene networks to create the trait you see in an animal or human. The activity of key genes is the same or similar in common cell types, but the activity of other genes may differ completely among species, especially for the roles of stem cells,” explained Professor Songs. “Looking at these mechanisms helps to decode genes, understand complex traits, and develop future treatment plans to better understand animal and human health.”

The epigenetic markers identified in this study are unique to chickens, which are an up-and-coming animal model that is in many ways ideal for the study of epigenetics, stem cells, and developmental research.

“Most people still think of mice when they think of animal models that support animal and human health research. But regulatory elements are quite similar between the chicken and human genome. In fact, the genetic similarity between a human and a chicken is about 60%. The development of chickens is rapid, easy to see, and easy to manipulate, making them very unique compared to other animal models. They are ideal for developmental and stem cell research because you can easily observe egg growth and the development process in real time,” says Song.

Song said he is devoted to this animal genetics work, with its connections to human health in mind, but is also thinking about the broiler chicken industry and overall animal welfare. “This work provides a deeper understanding of developmental mechanisms in chickens that lead to healthier chickens and humans,” said Song. “The applications and need for epigenetic stem cell research is great, and chickens are a great model for this work.” 

                                                  

 

 

 

 

Former Vice President Al Gore to Deliver Speech at UMD’s 2018 Spring Commencement

May 11, 2018
Contacts: 

Katie Lawson, 301-405-4622

COLLEGE PARK, Md. – More than 7,500 University of Maryland students will receive their degrees at the spring 2018 commencement ceremony on Sunday, May 20, 2018. 

This year’s spring commencement will feature an address from former Vice President and Nobel Peace Prize recipient Al Gore. University of Maryland President Wallace D. Loh will also take the podium to congratulate the graduates and Michelle Sauer, graduating with a B.A. in English language and literature, and secondary education, will deliver the student remarks. 

WHO: 

  • University of Maryland President Wallace D. Loh
  • Former Vice President Al Gore
  • Student Commencement Speaker Michelle Sauer
  • Class of 2018 University of Maryland Graduates

WHEN:

Sunday, May 20, 2018

  • Processional – 12:20 p.m.
  • Ceremony – 1 p.m.

*Media check-in will begin at 11 am. Media should arrive by noon prior to the processional*

WHERE:

Xfinity Center, University of Maryland, College Park
Xfinity Center is located on Paint Branch Dr. near the intersection of Paint Branch Dr. and Route 193 (University Blvd.) Click here for directions. 

PARKING/CHECK-IN:

To ensure parking and access to the commencement ceremony, media must RSVP by May 18 to mediainfo@umd.edu. Upon RSVP, further parking instructions will be provided. 
Risers and a mult box will be available to media.

LIVE VIDEO STREAM:

The ceremony will be streamed live on the University of Maryland’s YouTube channel: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-0ZOP5slg5k

 

For more information, visit www.commencement.umd.edu.

 

 

A New Model for Communication in Plant Cells

May 4, 2018
Contacts: 

Matthew Wright, 301-405-9267

COLLEGE PARK, Md. – A UMD-led study published in the journal Science sheds new light on how plants communicate within cells using a protein that closely resembles a protein that in animals plays a role in communications between nerve cells.

May 4 Science CoverAlthough plants lack a true nervous system, previous studies have shown that plants need these proteins, called glutamate receptor-like proteins (GLRs), to do important things such as mate, grow, and defend themselves against diseases and pests.

In the current study, researchers working with pollen cells from a flowering weed native to Europe, Asia and Africa (Arabidopsis thaliana), found that these GLR proteins form the basis of a complex communication network inside individual plant cells. 

The research, which could inform many new studies of cell-to-cell communication in plants and animals alike, is featured on the cover of the May 4, 2018, issue of Science. Researchers from the University of Maryland, the Instituto Gulbenkian de Ciência in Portugal and the Universidad Nacional de Autónoma de México authored the study.

The similarities between the animal nerve proteins (glutamate receptors) and the similar GLR plant proteins suggests that the two proteins date back to a common ancestor—a single-celled organism that gave rise to both animals and plants.

“Why should plants have receptors like the ones that make neurons work? Our results support the idea that individual plant cells have a level of autonomy that animal cells do not,” said José Feijó, a professor of cell biology and molecular genetics at UMD and the senior author of the study. “Each plant cell has its own immune system, for example. And they have more communication channels to deal with the fact that they are stuck in place. Every flowering plant has more GLRs than animals have glutamate receptors. Our proposed model for plant cell communication suggests one reason for this abundance of GLRs.” 

Further progress toward decoding plant communication could result in reliable tests to diagnose diseases, nutrient deficiencies and other maladies in plants, Feijó said. Such measures could help to ensure food security, as climate change and other stressors begin to take a toll on major agricultural crops. 

Elaborating a two-protein process

The new findings suggest that GLRs rely on another group of proteins, called “cornichon” proteins, to shuttle GLRs to different locations in plant cells and to regulate activity of the protein within each cell.

With the help of cornichon proteins, GLRs act as valves that carefully manage the concentration of calcium ions—a vital aspect of many cell communication pathways—within various structures inside the cell, the study found. 

“Calcium concentration is one of the most important parameters inside all cells. It is so well regulated that it allows cells to encode information. Put another way, calcium is the lingua franca of cell communication,” said Feijó, noting that calcium is also vital to the function of animal neurons. “Our results suggest that GLRs play a role in this basic communication system in plants, and we also propose a mechanism for how the system works in plant cells.”

Feijó noted that there are some important differences between GLRs and their counterparts in animal neurons. 

To begin with, glutamate—the most common neurotransmitter in the human brain—does not play a major role in the plant system. Also, while glutamate receptors are known to sit on the outer surface of animal neurons, some of Feijo’s earlier experiments suggested that GLRs might instead be located on various structures inside plant cells. 

“This would be the only way to consistently explain the results we were getting,” Feijó said. “Our results suggest that GLRs are indeed redistributed to other compartments inside plant cells, forming a complex network that cooperates to regulate calcium concentrations and enable calcium signaling. This is a novel insight that opens completely new avenues to understand calcium signaling in plants.”

Feijó and Michael Wudick, a postdoctoral researcher in cell biology and molecular genetics at UMD and lead author of the paper, suspected that plant cells use a specific mechanism to control the locations of GLRs throughout the cell. This led Wudick to investigate cornichon proteins, which are linked to the activity of glutamate receptors in animals. 

In their experiments with Arabidopsis pollen cells, Feijó’s team found that cornichon proteins actively shuttled GLRs from one location to another within the cell, enabling various compartments inside the cell to maintain different calcium ion concentrations. Cornichons also act as gatekeepers for GLRs, switching the receptor molecules off and on like a valve in response to changing conditions inside the cell. 

Feijó also noted that a deeper understanding of GLRs could reveal new insights into animal glutamate receptors and their defects, which could be the cause of some neurodegenerative conditions. 

“Some researchers have suggested that neurodegeneration is caused by over-active glutamate receptors. This is not settled, but there are some conditions in both humans and dogs that have been linked to mutations in glutamate receptor genes,” Feijó said. “It is possible that our model could help investigate these conditions. The advantage is that our protocol is very easy to use.”

This work was supported by the U.S. National Science Foundation (Award Nos. MCB 1616437/2016 and MCB 1714993/2017), the Fundação para a Ciência e a Tecnologia (Award Nos. PTDC/BEX-BCM/0376/2012, PTDC/BIA-PLA/4018/2012, SFRH/PD/70739/2010 and SFRH/PD/70820/2010), the Consejo Nacional de Ciencia y Tecnología (Award No. 220085), and the Dirección General de Asuntos del Personal Académico-Universidad Nacional Autónoma de México (Award No. IN-203817). The content of this article does not necessarily reflect the views of these organizations.

 

 

 

UMD Renews Commitment to Comprehensive Diversity and Inclusion Efforts

May 3, 2018
Contacts: 

Katie Lawson, 301-405-4622

COLLEGE PARK, Md. - The University of Maryland will begin implementation on the recommendations of the Joint President Senate Inclusion and Respect Task Force, renewing and expanding its commitment to diversity and inclusion. The Task Force’s recommendations, endorsed by the University Senate and approved by UMD President Wallace D. Loh, include a comprehensive diversity and inclusion initiative that centers on nine key areas: university values; prevention and education; hate/bias incident response; centralization; communication; evaluation and assessment; free speech and freedom of expression; current policies and guidelines; and resources and implementation. 

"We can and will make our campus more inclusive and respectful of every person's human dignity," said University of Maryland President Wallace D. Loh. ​"We'll do this together, based on our core values of excellence and equity, on our commitment to civil discourse and academic freedom, and with the additional resources needed. The job of implementing the recommendations of the Joint Task Force belongs to all of us." 

“All public universities are wrestling with balancing the rights of free speech and academic freedom with the values of diversity and inclusiveness. The task force has carefully crafted a cutting-edge conduct policy, free speech statement, and values statement that we believe protect all of those rights and values,” said Lucy Dalglish, one of the three co-chairs of the task force and dean of the Philip Merrill College of Journalism. 

“It was vitally important for us to listen to a variety of voices from our campus community. These rich conversations were incredibly valuable and directly informed our recommendations to create a more inclusive and respectful campus,” said Warren Kelley, another co-chair and assistant vice president in the Division of Student Affairs.

Key highlights of the task force recommendations include: 

  • Adopt a university values statement that will be ingrained into the culture of the university and the experience of all members of our community. Values outlined in the statement include building a community that is: united, respectful, secure and safe, inclusive, accountable, and empowered and open to growth.
  • Approve the proposed Policy on Threatening and Intimidating Conduct, which would prohibit "threatening or intimidating acts motivated in whole or in part because of an individual or group's actual or perceived protected status."
  • Adopt a statement on free speech values, which outlines the importance of promoting and protecting free expression, while considering the consequences that may result from hate speech. 
  • Conduct biennial climate surveys of faculty, staff, and students to better understand individual experiences in a variety of dimensions. The results of the university’s first campus climate survey, which took place in February 2018, show that while the majority of respondents feel welcome at the university, there are differences based on one’s racial or other personal identification. The survey’s findings can be found here.
  • Develop a comprehensive prevention and education initiative on diversity, inclusion and respect for faculty, staff and students consisting of a blend of mandatory and voluntary programming. 
  • Develop a comprehensive communication strategy that centralizes resources and prominently disseminates information related to equity, diversity, and inclusion to the entire campus community in a manner that is transparent, timely, and sensitive to all constituents. 

The President’s Office has directed campus leadership to begin working on the recommendations immediately. Some of this work is already underway or builds upon existing efforts, while other items will take longer to plan and implement.

To view the Task Force’s full report, visit: https://go.umd.edu/inclusion-respect-recs

 

Terp Thon and Symbiont Health Announced as 2018 Do Good Challenge Winners

May 3, 2018
Contacts: 

Kaitlin Ahmad, 301-405-6360

COLLEGE PARK, Md.-- The University of Maryland’s School of Public Policy and its Do Good Institute has announced the winners of its 7th Annual Do Good Challenge. Terp Thon and Symbiont Health placed first in the competition, winning $5,000 each for their Do Good ideas. 

Founded by DGI and sponsored by Morgan Stanley Private Wealth Management, the Do Good Challenge supports the university’s culture of philanthropy, innovation and entrepreneurship, and gives student groups that are making a social impact on campus, in the community, and globally an opportunity to pitch their Do Good project or venture to an audience and panel of judges for a chance to win a share of more than $20,000. 

Terp Thon presenting at 2018 Do Good ChallengeTerp Thon, who won first place in the project category, raises funds and awareness for patients and their families at the Children’s National Health System. Throughout the year, the organization hosts various awareness campaigns, events and fundraising activities, including their annual dance marathon where students stand for 12 hours (a typical nurses’ shift) in support of current and former patients. All of the funds raised by the group provide patients and families with superior medical care and an array of support programs to enhance their hospital experience. Over the years, the group has raised more than 4 million dollars for families in need. 

First place in the venture category and a previous Do Good Challenge competitor, Symbiont Health has developed an enhanced medical alert system to help accelerate the response and rescue of elderly persons who fall and lose consciousness. The device and alert system detects falls through motion sensors and gyroscopic technology. The student group is working to expand its services by implementing a mesh networking system for WiFi routers to better track patient behaviors in real-time, with vital diagnostic information.

“The UMD Do Good Campus is pioneering a new model. We take what students are passionate about and give them the skills and tools to change the world,” said Director of the School of Public Policy’s Do Good Institute Robert T. Grimm Jr. “Maryland is the destination if you want to change the world for good.”

This year, six student groups competed as finalists in the Do Good Challenge, including Terp Thon, Symbiont Health, Nourish: Mommy and Me, Scholars Promoting and Revitalizing Care (SPARC), Recyclify, and Synapto. SPARC and Synapto won second place and $2,500 for their projects, while Norish: Mommy and Me and Recyclify won third place and $1,000 each to further their ideas.

Additional awards were presented at the event. SPARC received the Audience Choice Award, winning an extra $2,500. Two semi-finalist teams who earned the most “Do Good Dollars” during the showcase before the finals, were given the opportunity to give a lightning pitch on stage. Flush X was awarded first prize and $750 and Preventing Sexual Assault won second prize and $500 for their efforts.

To learn more about the Do Good Challenge and this year’s finalists visit www.dogood.umd.edu.

 

UMD- Led Research Team Awarded New $2.37M DOE Solar Power Tech Project

May 3, 2018

COLLEGE PARK, Md. – University of Maryland engineers will lead a new Department of Energy (DOE) research project aimed at lowering the cost of solar energy systems by advancing the technology of  microinverters -- devices that convert the direct current (DC) electricity generated by solar cells into the alternating current (AC) electricity used in homes and on the electrical grid.

Solar panels on Regents Drive GarageA. James Clark School of Engineering Associate Professor Alireza Khaligh, department of electrical and computer engineering and the Institute for Systems Research, is the principal investigator for a new three-year, $2.37 million DOE cooperative agreement: “Compact and Low-Cost Microinverter for Residential Systems.” UMD Mechanical Engineering Professor Patrick McCluskey is the co-principal investigator. The team also includes Patrick Chapman, Ph.D., SunPower Corporation, San Jose, Calif.; and Assistant Professor Fariborz Musavi, department of electrical engineering, Washington State University Vancouver.

The $2.37 million award includes funding from the DOE and a 20 percent awardee cost share from the participating collaborators. The project is one of nine projects DOE recently announced as part of its goal to cut the cost of solar energy system power electronics in half by 2030. Together, the projects are worth a total of $20 million. More information about the DOE's Advanced Power Electronics Design for Solar Applications program can be found at www.energy.gov/eere/solar/advanced-power-electronics-design-solar-applications-power-electronics.

In its announcement the DOE said that hardware innovations are critical to address solar photovoltaic (PV) reliability challenges and drive down the cost of installing and maintaining a PV solar system. Power electronics, which convert electricity from one form to another, are the critical link between PV arrays and the electric grid. Advances in power electronics can help grid operators rapidly detect and respond to problems, protect against physical and cyber vulnerabilities, and enable consumers to manage electricity use. Advanced solar power electronics can help deliver power safely, integrate PV with storage controls, and ensure power reliability.

“We are excited to be a part of revolution in the solar PV industry,” said Khaligh who directs UMD’s Maryland Power Electronics Laboratory.

Khaligh’s team will focus on developing a new generation of residential system microinverters using emerging gallium nitride (GaN) semiconductors. The new microinverters will have reduced costs of manufacturing and enhanced reliability thermal management and packaging. The resulting products will be commercialized by SunPower, a market leader in high performance PV systems technology for residential, commercial and power plant applications.

“There is remarkable potential for power electronics technologies to improve the reliability and flexibility of solar energy on the grid,” said Daniel Simmons, the DOE's principal deputy assistant secretary for the Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy. “These projects represent a critical step in exploring the potential grid services such advanced technologies can provide.”

The nine research projects also will help the DOE accelerate the penetration of low-cost PV systems in the U.S.; enhance U.S. international competitiveness in this important field; and create more U.S. technology and manufacturing jobs.

About the DOE Solar Energy Technologies Office

The U.S. Department of Energy Solar Energy Technologies Office supports early-stage research and development to improve the affordability, reliability and performance of solar technologies on the grid.

UMD Emerges as State Leader in 2018 RecycleMania Competition

May 2, 2018
Contacts: 

Andrew Muir, 301-405-4621

Richie Recyclemania SignGreen Terps sign upTestudo next to Recycling bin

 

COLLEGE PARK, Md. -- The annual RecycleMania competition among colleges and universities nationwide has concluded, and this year, the University of Maryland surpassed its 2017 results in almost every major category.

Highlights from the 2018 competition include:

  • No. 1 in the state of Maryland with a 49% recycling rate (an improvement from 44% in 2017);
  • No. 1 in the state of Maryland and No. 13 nationwide for the Total Recycling category, generating 922,603 pounds of recycling (an improvement from 808,676 pounds in 2017);
  • The university recycled 9,468 pounds of sensitive documents for shredding and 5,462 pounds of electronics during an all-campus shredding and electronics recycling event in March. 

The 2018 tournament featured 300 schools participating from 46 states in the United States, the Districtof Columbia and Canada, with an enrollment of 3.6 million students. Participating colleges and universities are ranked in various categories according to how much recycling and food waste they divert from the landfill over two months.

Throughout the competition, the university saved 861 metric tons of CO2 over an eight-week period, comparable to keeping over 169 cars off the road or the energy consumption of 75 households during this period of time.

“Once again, the University of Maryland posted great results for RecycleMania,” said Bill Guididas, Assistant Director, Administrative Services, Facilities Management. “One of the notable outcomes this year was the fact that while the percentage of waste recycled went up, the total volume of waste generated went down.  The focus on avoiding single use plastics and using reusable items has had a positive impact on the waste that we generate. “

Outreach and education efforts included a sensitive document shredding and e-waste event, educational activities at residence halls as a part of the Green Terp and Green Chapter programs, and the fifth annual “Recycle This!” video contest. This year’s winner was student, Nisha Seebachan ’19, for her video, “Why Recycling is Not a Trend; It’s Actually Important.” 

“RecycleMania provides us with an opportunity to engage with colleges around the importance of recycling and to encourage them to make the act of recycling a part of their daily routine,” said Helen Lowman, president and CEO, Keep America Beautiful. “Our goal with programs like RecycleMania is that these recycling behaviors stick with the participants throughout their lives and in turn, they educate their family and friends about the value of recycling and composting.”

For a sumary of UMD’s RecycleMania performance visit http://recyclemania.umd.edu 

 

UMD Leads Study on Improving HPV Vaccination Rates Among African-American Adolescents

April 30, 2018
Contacts: 

K. Lorraine Graham, 301-405-2782

COLLEGE PARK, Md. — The University of Maryland (UMD) has received a $2.2 million grant from the National Cancer Institute at the National Institutes of Health to develop effective communication strategies to improve human papillomavirus (HPV) vaccination rates among African-American adolescents. 

HPV is the most commonly sexually transmitted infection in the United States. If left untreated, it can cause a variety of cancers, but it is easily prevented through a vaccination. The best time to be vaccinated is between ages 11 and 12, which means that the decision to vaccinate or not is made by parents or caregivers. 

“This vaccine is especially controversial because parents, regardless of race, fear it will encourage their children to become sexually active sooner—even though there is no evidence to support that concern,” said Xiaoli Nan, professor of communication in UMD’s College of Arts and Humanities and director of UMD’s Center for Health and Risk Communication.

Nan will lead a cross-disciplinary research team that includes co-investigators Cheryl Holt and Min Qi Wang from UMD’s School of Public Health and Shana Ntiri and Clement Adebamowo from the University of Maryland School of Medicine (UMSOM). The team will develop and test communication strategies to encourage African-American parents to allow their children to receive the HPV vaccine. The study builds on research she began in 2011, which found that African-Americans’ historical mistrust of the medical community as well as negative views on vaccines partially contribute to the low vaccination rates.

"By bringing together an innovative team of investigators working across disciplinary boundaries and campuses, this ambitious project supports the goals of our strategic partnership with the University of Maryland, Baltimore,'" said Bonnie Thornton Dill, dean of the College of Arts and Humanities at UMD. "When communication scholars, public health experts and doctors from Maryland's most powerful public research institutions collaborate we can solve important health problems facing the state and the nation."

The research team will partner with several pediatric clinics in Baltimore to develop and test communication strategies to motivate the parents of African-American adolescents to allow their children to be vaccinated. Through focus groups and interviews, the team will learn more about the children who visit the clinics and their parents. This knowledge will help the researchers determine the best way to talk to individuals about the HPV vaccination. 

After creating and thoroughly testing several messages, they will determine which one is the most persuasive and how best to deliver it. Is it more persuasive for people to read a brochure on their own or to have a conversation with their pediatrician? Are parents more motivated by messages that talk about the positive benefits of getting the vaccine or the negative consequences of not getting it? These are the kinds of questions that the team will test and study.

"We are excited to expand our collaborative research with the University of Maryland through this project that is at the intersections of the humanities, public health and medicine,” said E. Albert Reece, executive vice president for medical affairs at the University of Maryland, Baltimore, John Z. and Akiko K. Bowers distinguished professor and dean of UMSOM. 

By using research methods that draw on the humanities, social sciences and medicine, the team will ultimately make evidence-based recommendations for doctors, nurses and public health officials about how to communicate with African-American parents about the HPV vaccine. 

Nan believes that understanding how we communicate with each other and what motivates us to take action is a key element of understanding human nature, and that knowledge can be harnessed to promote positive social change.

“Nearly 50 percent of cancer cases can be prevented through lifestyle changes,” says Nan. “Communication science is an interdisciplinary research practice that can promote positive changes in health behaviors and save lives.” 

Nan is an expert in health and risk communication, studying how communication strategies influence health-related decisions. Research shows that African-Americans are more likely to develop--and die from-- cancer than others, partly because they are less likely to have access to adequate care and often face racism when they do receive care. Her research focuses on cancer prevention in medically underserved communities where people do not have access to adequate healthcare because of social and economic inequalities. 

 

 

 

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