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Pioneering Breakthrough: Unmanned Aircraft Delivers Organ for Successful Kidney Transplant in Maryland

April 26, 2019
Contacts: 

Natifia Mullings, 301-405-4076

COLLEGE PARK and BALTIMORE, MD— In a first-ever advancement in human medicine and aviation technology, a University of Maryland (UMD) unmanned aircraft has delivered a donor kidney to surgeons at the University of Maryland Medical Center (UMMC) in Baltimore for successful transplantation into a patient with kidney failure. This successful demonstration illustrates the potential of unmanned aircraft systems (UAS) for providing organ deliveries that, in many cases, could be faster, safer, and more widely available than traditional transport methods.

The landmark 2.8 mile flight was a collaboration between aviation and engineering experts at the University of Maryland; transplant physicians and researchers at the University of Maryland School of Medicine (UMSOM) in Baltimore; and collaborators at the Living Legacy Foundation of Maryland. 

“This whole thing is amazing. Years ago, this was not something that you would think about,” said the kidney recipient, a 44-year-old Baltimore resident who spent eight years on dialysis before undergoing the transplant procedure.The patient was discharged from UMMC on Tuesday. 

Maryland faculty and researchers believe this prototype organ transport blazes a trail for the use of UAS to expand access to donated organs, improving outcomes for more people in need of organ transplants. 

“This history-making flight not only represents a breakthrough from a technological point of view, but provides an exemplary demonstration of how engineering expertise and ingenuity ultimately serve human needs—in this case, the need to improve the reliability and efficiency of organ delivery to hospitals conducting transplant surgery,” said Darryll J. Pines, Ph.D., UMD, dean of the A. James Clark School of Engineering and Nariman Farvardin Professor of Aerospace Engineering. “As astonishing as this breakthrough is from a purely engineering point of view, there’s a larger purpose at stake. It’s ultimately not about the technology; it’s about enhancing human life.”

Added Joseph Scalea, MD, assistant professor of surgery at UMSOM, project lead, and one of the surgeons who performed the transplant at UMMC, “As a result of the outstanding collaboration among surgeons, engineers, the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA), organ procurement specialists, pilots, nurses, and, ultimately, the patient, we were able to make a pioneering breakthrough in transplantation.” 

The many technological firsts of this effort include: a specially designed, high-tech apparatus for maintaining and monitoring a viable human organ; a custom-built UAS with eight rotors and multiple powertrains to ensure consistently reliable performance, even in the case of a possible component failure; the use of a wireless “mesh” network to control the UAS, monitor aircraft status, and provide communications for the ground crew at multiple locations; and aircraft operating systems that combined best practices from both UAS and organ transport standards.

“We had to create a new system that was still within the regulatory structure of the FAA, but also capable of carrying the additional weight of the organ, cameras, and organ tracking, communications and safety systems over an urban, densely populated area—for a longer distance and with more endurance,” said Matthew Scassero, MPA, director of UMD’s UAS Test Site, part of the A. James Clark School of Engineering. “There’s a tremendous amount of pressure knowing there’s a person waiting for that organ, but it’s also a special privilege to be a part of this critical mission.”

Prior to the April 19th organ delivery flight, the Maryland partners worked together to develop and test the UAS by first successfully transporting saline, blood tubes, and other materials, and then by transporting a healthy, but nonviable, human kidney. These test flights were preceded in 2016 by the state of Maryland’s first civil unmanned aerial delivery of simulated medical cargo, a collaborative effort between UMD’s UAS Test Site and the University of Maryland Shore Regional Health in Easton, Maryland, to illustrate how the use of UAS could radically change medical care and impact the lives of real people.

“This major advance in human medicine and transplantation exemplifies two key components of our mission:  innovation and collaboration,” said E. Albert Reece, MD, Ph.D., MBA, Executive Vice President for Medical Affairs, University of Maryland Baltimore, and the John Z. and Akiko K. Bowers Distinguished Professor and Dean, University of Maryland School of Medicine.  “Innovation is at the heart of our focus on accelerating the pace and scope of discovery, where research can rapidly transform medicine.  At the same time, collaboration is the key to our success in providing discovery-based medicine—both in conducting research and in delivering the highest quality patient care.”

Designing a UAS Organ Delivery System

To create a UAS designed to carry an organ and provide real-time monitoring of its condition, Scalea partnered with several medical technology companies to design and develop the Human Organ Monitoring and Quality Assurance Apparatus for Long-Distance Travel (HOMAL; patent pending). It measures and maintains temperature, barometric pressure, altitude, vibration, and location (via GPS) during transportation and transmits the information to the smartphones of transplant personnel.

The needed unmanned aircraft and operating systems were designed by UMD UAS Test Site engineers to meet the rigid medical, technical, and regulatory demands of carrying a donor organ for human transplantation. 

“We built in a lot of redundancies, because we want to do everything possible to protect the payload,” said Anthony Pucciarella, director of operations at the UMD UAS Test Site. These safeguards included backup propellers and motors, dual batteries, a backup power distribution board, and a parachute recovery system (in case the entire aircraft fails). 

Advancing Transplantation through UAS Transport

Transportation logistics are often the most complicated part of the organ transplant process—and how long an organ remains viable throughout travel is a major issue. Transport methods typically involve expensive chartered flights or rely on variable commercial flights, and occasionally result in an organ left on a plane or other delays that destroy the organ’s viability.  These current transport methods also don’t adequately cover many parts of the county, such as rural or geographically remote areas, which limits access in these areas both to organ donations and organ transplants. 

“For more than 25 years, the University of Maryland Medical Center has provided cutting-edge care in organ transplantation,” said Mohan Suntha, MD, MBA, President and CEO of the University of Maryland Medical Center in Baltimore. “Our Transplant Program cares for patients who come from our local community, the state and the nation, many of whom have been turned away at other hospitals, because we have the skill, talent and knowledge to advance even the most complex transplant cases, often times not just improving but saving lives.” 

According to the United Network for Organ Sharing, which manages the organ transplant system in the United States, in 2018 there were nearly 114,000 people on waiting lists for an organ transplant; about 1.5 percent of deceased donor organ shipments did not make it to the intended destination; and nearly four percent of organ shipments had an unanticipated delay of two or more hours.

“There remains a woeful disparity between the number of recipients on the organ transplant waiting list and the total number of transplantable organs. This new technology has the potential to help widen the donor organ pool and access to transplantation,” said Scalea. “Delivering an organ from a donor to a patient is a sacred duty with many moving parts. It is critical that we find ways of doing this better.”

Beating the organ transplant clock is a key responsibility of U.S. organ procurement organizations, including project collaborator The LLF. “The University of Maryland UAS project is incredibly important,” said Charlie Alexander, Chief Executive Officer of The LLF, noting that the work is at the proof-of-concept stage. “If we can prove that this works, then we can look at much greater distances of unmanned organ transport. This would minimize the need for multiple pilots and flight time and address safety issues we have in our field.”

DISCLOSURE: Dr. Scalea is founder of a private data analytics company, Transplant Logistics and Informatics. Funding for this research was provided by the Maryland Technology Development Corporation (TEDCO) with additional resources from the UAS Test Site, UMSOM, UMMC, the University of Maryland, Baltimore, Office of Technology Transfer, and the City of Baltimore

REFERENCES: 
Scalea et al. Am J Transplant. 2019 Mar;19(3):962-964
Scalea et al. IEEE J Transl Eng Health Med. 2018 Nov 6;6:4000107

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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 57 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 School of Medicine
Now in its third century, the University of Maryland School of Medicine (UMSOM) was chartered in 1807 as the first public medical school in the United States. It continues today as one of the fastest growing, top-tier biomedical research enterprises in the world—with 43 academic departments, centers, institutes, and programs and a faculty of more than 3,000 physicians, scientists, and allied health professionals, including members of the National Academy of Medicine and the National Academy of Sciences and a distinguished recipient of the Albert E. Lasker Award in Medical Research. With an operating budget of more than $1 billion, UMSOM works closely in partnership with the University of Maryland Medical Center and Medical System to provide research-intensive, academic, and clinically-based care for more than 1.2 million patients each year. UMSOM faculty, which ranks as the 8th highest among public medical schools in research productivity, is an innovator in translational medicine, with 600 active patents and 24 start-up companies. The School works locally, nationally, and globally, with research and treatment facilities in 36 countries around the world. Visit: medschool.umaryland.edu  

About the University of Maryland Medical Center
The University of Maryland Medical Center (UMMC) is comprised of two hospitals in Baltimore: an 800-bed teaching hospital – the flagship institution of the 14-hospital University of Maryland Medical System (UMMS) – and a 200-bed community teaching hospital, UMMC Midtown Campus. UMMC is a national and regional referral center for trauma, cancer care, neurosciences, cardiac care, diabetes and endocrinology, women’s and children’s health, and has one of the largest solid organ transplant programs in the country. All physicians on staff at the flagship hospital are faculty physicians of the University of Maryland School of Medicine. At UMMC Midtown Campus, faculty physicians work alongside community physicians to provide patients with the highest quality care. UMMC Midtown Campus was founded in 1881 and is located one mile away from the University Campus hospital. For more information, visit www.umm.edu.

 

 

UMD Researchers Kill Foodborne Bacteria with Electrified Air

April 25, 2019
Contacts: 

Samantha Watters 301-405-2434

COLLEGE PARK, Md. – The 10-state Salmonella outbreak announced this week by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), is an example of foodborne illnesses that the CDC says sicken tens of millions of people and kill several thousand each year. But what if it was possible to easily kill potentially harmful bacteria on fruits and vegetables, without harming the food or the environment?

University of Maryland researchers are working on a plasma-based technology that could provide consumers, restaurants and food processors with a low-temperature microwave-like machine to kill pathogens, while bypassing significant problems associated with existing washing or treatment methods. Such problems include massive water use, inadvertent spread of contamination, creation of antimicrobial resistance, and chemical residues left on food.

In a paper published in Plasma Processes and Polymers, researchers from the A. James Clark School of Engineering and the College of Agriculture and Natural Resources reported that 99 percent of E.coli on the surface of fresh produce were killed by one minute of a process called “etching and surface modification.”

Their method uses what is essentially electrified air, to damage the outer membrane of bacteria on food, killing them. But the process, which doesn’t involve heat, has no known impact on produce itself.

“We can use electrical energy to produce this [plasma] state from air, and the reactive species generated have very strong impacts on pathogens where they can etch part of their outer membranes and change them biochemically,” said co-author Gottlieb Oehrlein, professor of materials science and engineering with a joint appointment with the Institute for Research in Electronics and Applied Physics.

Plasma is already used in the healthcare industry to sanitize surgical tools, and clinical trials in dermatology have also been performed for the treatment of chronic skin diseases. The plasma is concentrated—almost like a tiny blowtorch—but cold to the touch.

“Microscopically the bacteria surface is bombarded by these exotic plasma species. This leads to material removal and surface modification,” said Pingshan Luan, Ph.D. ’18, lead author on the paper. “Once the composition is changed, the bacteria cell wall loses its functional and structural integrity.”

The technology could have great advantages over other means to kill bacteria, said co-author Rohan Tikekar, an assistant professor of nutrition and food science, eliminating risks associated with antimicrobials and even washing.

“The washing process is a double-edged sword,” he said. “It makes produce look appealing and removes dirt, but if it is not done properly, water becomes a carrier for this small amount of bacteria to spread to a larger batch of produce. You may start out with, say, 10 lettuce heads that are contaminated, and with improper washing, you might end up with 10 tons of lettuce that is contaminated.”

Their plasma food sanitation process potentially could be used at an industrial scale, in restaurants and dining halls, or even at the level of individual consumers.

The researchers are planning further testing, such as how the device affects the nutritional value of food. However, because it only works on a thin layer at the surface, they expect little impact, and consumers could one day have an effective safety measure that Oehrlein said would be as easy as “flipping a light switch on and off.”

 

UMD to Celebrate the Opening of the Brendan Iribe Center for Computer Science and Engineering

April 23, 2019
Contacts: 

Natifia Mullings, 301-405-4076 

Exterior shot of Iribe CenterCOLLEGE PARK, Md. – The University of Maryland will celebrate the opening of the new state-of-the-art Brendan Iribe (ee-REEB’) Center for Computer Science and Engineering on Saturday, April 27, 2019. The Iribe Center will be a hub for technology at the heart of a new innovation district, among high-tech companies, government agencies and institutional colleagues. Bringing together the university's top-ranked Department of Computer Science and its renowned Institute for Advanced Computer Studies (UMIACS), the Iribe Center will support groundbreaking research and education in virtual and augmented reality, artificial intelligence, robotics, computer vision, machine learning, data science, and more.

Six floors of specialized labs, classrooms, auditoriums, offices and a fully equipped maker space offer unprecedented opportunities for students and faculty to innovate bold new applications for computer science.  The new facility is made by possible by a $30 million gift from UMD Alumnus and Oculus Co-Founder Brendan Iribe’s $30 million gift, and a $3.5 million gift from UMD Alumnus and Oculus Co-Founder Michael Antonov.

WHO:

  • Larry Hogan, Governor, State of Maryland
  • Thomas V. Mike Miller, Jr., President, Maryland Senate
  • Robert Caret, Chancellor of the University System of Maryland
  • Wallace D. Loh, President, University of Maryland
  • Brendan Iribe, Co-Founder, Oculus 
  • Michael Antonov, UMD Alumnus and Co-Founder, Oculus 
  • Amitabh Varshney, Dean, UMD College of Computer, Mathematical, and Natural Sciences
  • Jamie Matthews, UMD Alumna and Computer Science Graduate Student

WHAT:

  • Celebration Ceremony of the Brendan Iribe Center for Computer Science and Engineering.
  • Interactive demonstrations in virtual reality, robotics, and 3D printing.
  • This event is closed to the public and open to pre-credentialed media. 

WHEN:

Iribe Center Celebration Ceremony is Saturday, April 27 at 10 a.m.

TV Cameras need to be in place for security sweeps by 8 a.m.  

Media please plan to arrive by 9:15 a.m.

Post-ceremony interactive demonstrations are from 11 a.m.  - 1 p.m.

Please note: this event will take place on Maryland Day, the university’s open house showcasing hundreds of events across campus, happening from 10 a.m. – 4 p.m. 

WHERE:

The Brendan Iribe Center for Computer Science and Engineering at the University of Maryland: 8125 Paint Branch Dr, College Park, MD 20742

Media check-in is on Floor G of the Brendan Iribe Center, near the general event registration table

Visit maps.umd.edu for a campus map

PARKING: Free parking upon request. Public transportation is encouraged. 

RSVP: Media must RSVP by Thursday, April 25 at 6 p.m. to mediainfo@umd.edu

 

 

UMD Announces Landmark Grants for Sustainability Fund Projects

April 22, 2019
Contacts: 

Andrew Muir 301-405-7068

COLLEGE PARK, Md.– The University of Maryland’s Office of Sustainability recently announced University Sustainability Fund grants approved for 2019. The Fund provides grants to students, faculty, and staff for the implementation of projects that will improve sustainability on campus or in the local community.

This funding cycle marked a landmark year for the Sustainability Fund, with more grant money distributed than ever before: a grand total of $450,633. It also included the largest grant ever allocated from the Fund for a single project: $150,000 for the Ocean Friendly Campus: UMD Plastic Waste Reduction, Phase 2 project from Dining Services with support from the University of Maryland Center for Environmental Science, Sustainable Ocean Alliance, and Student Sustainability Committee. It also included the first time students voted to use Fund money to invest in carbon offset projects to neutralize emissions from undergraduate student commuting.

“This year’s funding cycle resulted in campus support for many excellent initiatives and exciting sustainability projects,” said Scott Lupin, director, Office of Sustainability. “The undergraduate student initiative, with support from the SGA, to offset undergraduate student commuting emissions and the Ocean Friendly Campus project to reduce single-use plastics particularly stand out. The grants also support many other quality projects including research efforts that may have valuable long-term benefits to the campus. The university should be proud of what this Fund has accomplished.”

2019 Grants approved by the Sustainability Fund Review Committee and the University Sustainability Council include:

  • Ocean Friendly Campus: UMD Plastic Waste Reduction, Phase 2: $150,000
  • Algal “Terp” Scrubber: $61,570
  • Eliminating the Climate Impact of Undergraduate Student Commuting Emissions: $50,000
  • A Smart, Connected, and Sustainable Campus Community: $42,710
  • Net Zero Energy Retrofit Initiative: $29,000
  • Weather Technology HVAC Strategy for Stamp: $25,000
  • Pro Moss Treatment of ERC Cooling Tower, Cold Water & Hot Water Loops: $24,000
  • Terps vs. Pros Sustainable Food Challenge: $20,000
  • Lewisdale Elementary School Flooding Prevention and Courtyard Restoration: $13,500
  • Maryland Food Collective Dishwasher: $6,206
  • Hydraze: $5,000
  • Creating A UMD Sustainability Video: $5,000
  • South Hill Exterior Water Bottle Fill Station: $5,000
  • GEMstone Team NO SALT: $3,722
  •  Bicycle Recycle Program: $3,500
  • Banners to Bags: $3,000
  • Using Macro Algae to Remove Heavy Metals from Water: $855

The Plastic Waste Reduction project represents significant action the university is taking to address the worldwide issue of plastic pollution. Through the grant, Dining Services will replace approximately 1.3 million plastic items including bags, utensils, and straws in campus cafes and shops with recyclable or compostable alternatives. Dining Services also aims to reduce the number of paper bags used on campus by encouraging customers to use reusable bags and providing one complimentary reusable bag for every student who lives on campus, paid for by the Sustainability Fund.

“By making changes to our resident dining model, we have already been able to remove over six million pieces of disposable products from the resident dining waste stream every year,” said Colleen Wright-Riva, director, Dining Services. “Students are eager for the next step and this grant will enable us to extend our plastic reduction efforts to include retail outlets: the cafes and convenience shops. Using this generous grant, and partnering closely with the SGA and RHA, we will bring about an impactful decrease in the amount of disposable plastic used on this campus. This is an exciting opportunity and we are grateful to the Sustainability Fund for facilitating this important work.”

Another landmark project includes Eliminating the Climate Impact of Undergraduate Student Commuting Emissions. This project is the first time the Student Government Association (SGA) has voted to use Fund money to purchase carbon offsets to reduce greenhouse gas emissions associated with commuting. Undergraduate commuting emissions represented 7 percent of UMD’s carbon footprint in 2017 and 100% of those emissions will be offset for 2018 and beyond.

"The Sustainability Fund has always inspired a commitment to climate action, since the first student-driven Renewable Energy Credits purchase in 2010,” said Amelia Avis, director, student sustainability committee. “Today, in light of an increasingly urgent need to reduce global carbon emissions, the student body is continuing our commitment to address climate change with the tools available to us. Our hope is the entire university community will join us in our efforts."  

Other grants approved this cycle include the Algal “Terp” Scrubber from the UMD chapter of the American Ecological Engineering Society, which could introduce an innovative stormwater treatment technology to campus; the Stamp Student Union’s Weather Technology HVAC Strategy to make the building’s heating and cooling system responsive to outside temperature and humidity; a digital video series Terps vs. Pros Sustainable Food Challenge created by students in the School of Public Health; and a grant for the Department of Transportation Services to create a more robust campus bicycle recycle program.

Since 2011, the University Sustainability Fund has granted $2.6 million to 137 sustainability projects. For more information: sustainabilityfund.umd.edu

The University of Maryland, Office of Sustainability supports and advances environmental performance, economic prosperity and social equality through sustainable policies, practices and curricula for the campus community. Contact: Andrew Muir, Communications Manager, Office of Sustainability, 301-405-7068.

 

 

 

Climate Change Can Undermine Children’s Education and Development in the Tropics

April 20, 2019
Contacts: 

Elizabeth Green 410-919- 9141, Lee Tune 301-405-4679

 

COLLEGE PARK, Md.  Climate change is already resulting in increases in the number and strength of extreme weather and climate events such as heat waves, droughts and flooding. Now a new UMD-led study finds that in tropical regions of the globe exposure to extremes of heat and precipitation during prenatal and early childhood years could make it harder for children to attain secondary school education, even when they live in better-off households.

 

University of Maryland researcher Heather Randell, lead author of the study, and co-author Clark Gray, of the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, found that climatic conditions can affect education attainment in tropical countries in multiple ways. In Southeast Asiaa region that historically has high heat and humidityexposure to higher-than-average temperatures during prenatal and early childhood has a harmful effect on schooling and is associated with fewer years of attending school.  In West and Central Africa, and Southeast Asia, lower rainfall in early life is associated with lower levels of education and higher rainfall with higher levels. And in Central America and the Caribbean, children who experienced higher than typical rainfall had the lowest predicted education.

 

“If climate change undermines educational attainment, this may have a compounding effect on underdevelopment that over time magnifies the direct impacts of climate change,” the authors write in the study, which was published in the April 15, 2019, issue of the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (PNAS).  “As the effects of climate change intensify, children in the tropics will face additional barriers to education.”

 

Randell conducted the synthesis study as a postdoctoral fellow at the University of Maryland's National Socio-Environmental Synthesis Center in Annapolis. She and Gray investigated the links between extreme temperature and precipitation in early life and educational attainment in 29 countries in the global tropics. These results suggest an additional way climate change could undermine gains in socioeconomic development, particularly among the world’s most vulnerable populations; and the researchers say their work has implications for determining vulnerability to climate change and development trajectories.

 

“While these results may not be directly related to schools, they are important factors in early life that affect a kid’s school trajectory,” said Randell. “People rarely think about how kids’ education is directly linked to climate. But this is really important given the extent that climate change is impacting extreme weather events.

 

Although the authors expected that children from better educated households would fare better, they found instead that, even for better-off households in the tropics, climate change could erode development and education gains.

 

Randell explained that as children in the tropics feel the intensifying effects of climate change, they will face additional barriers to education and this is more evidence of the varied social impacts of climate change. Policies to safeguard children in these exposed populations, for example making sure pregnant women and young children can get relief from high heat and humidity, or providing heat or drought tolerant crop varieties, could limit long term impacts of climate change.

 

Randell and Gray’s PNAS paper builds on their earlier study published in 2016 in Global Environmental Change that found how climate variability competes with schooling in Ethiopia and could lower adaptive capacity for generations.

 

University of Maryland Graduation Rate Among Top Ten for Public Institutions in the Nation

April 19, 2019
Contacts: 

Jennifer Burroughs 301-405-4621

  

COLLEGE PARK, Md. – The University of Maryland has been recognized as one of the ten public institutions in America’ with the best six-year graduation rates by The Chronicle of Higher Education. UMD’s graduation rate was ranked No.10 nationally among over 500 public institutions of higher education.

Overall, public colleges graduated nearly 60 percent of full-time students who started in 2011 within six years. The University of Maryland graduated 85.4% of bachelor degree seeking students in 2017.

The Chronicle of Higher Education assessed degree-granting U.S. colleges that are eligible to participate in Title IV federal financial-aid programs and that have at least 50 students in the degree-seeking cohort. Six-year graduation rates reflect the percentage of first-time, full-time, bachelor's-degree-seeking students who enrolled in 2011 and completed bachelor's or equivalent degrees at the same institution by August 31, 2017.

The full list from The Chronicle of Higher Ed for colleges with the best and worst 6-year graduation rates for 2017 can be found here.

 

Two University of Maryland Faculty Elected to American Academy of Arts and Sciences

April 17, 2019
Contacts: 

Jennifer Burroughs 301-405-462 

 

COLLEGE PARK, Md. – Two University of Maryland faculty members have been elected to the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, one of the nation’s oldest and most prestigious honorary societies. Michele J. Gelfand, Distinguished University Professor, psychology,  and Frances E. Lee, distinguished scholar-teacher of government and politics, are among the more than 200 new members in Academy’s 239th class who are being recognized for their accomplishments in academia, business, government, and public affairs.

Their election brings the total number of UMD faculty who are members of national academies to 58. The American Academy of Arts and Sciences was founded in 1780 by John Adams, John Hancock, and others who believed the new republic should honor exceptionally accomplished individuals and engage them in advancing the public good. According to the Academy, its dual mission remains essentially the same with honorees drawn from increasingly diverse fields and whose work focuses on the arts, democracy, education, global affairs, and science.

Gelfand’s work on negotiation, justice, workplace diversity, cultural influences on conflict, and cross-cultural psychology has earned wide recognition. She has been published in top journals including Science, The Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, Academy Management Review, Annual Review of Psychology, and many others. As both a Distinguished University Professor and Distinguished Scholar-Teacher, Gelfand has written and edited several books including Rule Makers, Rule Breakers: How Tight and Loose Cultures Wires Our World, Values, Political Action and Change in the Middle East and the Arab Spring, The Handbook of Negotiation and Culture, and multiple volumes of Advances in Culture Psychology. In addition to being a member of the Board of the National Academy of Sciences, Gelfand has also received numerous honors and prestigious invitations including the Outstanding Contributions to Cultural Psychology Award from the Society for Personal and Social Psychology and the Annaliese Research Award from the Alexander von Humboldt Foundation.

Lee, a thought leader in government, public policy, legislative politics and political institutions, is the award-winning author of Beyond Ideology: Politics, Principles and Partisanship in the U.S. Senate. Lee also is the coauthor of Sizing Up The Senate: The Unequal Consequences of Equal Representation and the comprehensive textbook, Congress and Its Members. Her books have received national recognition, including the American Political Science Association’s Richard F. Fenno Award for the best book on legislative politics, and the D. B. Hardeman Award—presented by the Lyndon Baines Johnson Foundation for the best book on a congressional topic—in both 1999 and 2009. She is co-editor of Legislative Studies Quarterly, a scholarly journal specializing in legislatures and her research has also appeared in numerous journal outlets.

Gelfand and Lee join other distinguished individuals elected this year, including artist Mark Bradford, journalist James M. Fallows (The Atlantic) former First Lady Michelle Obama, business leader Charles H. Robbins (Cisco Systems) actress and playwright Anna Deavere Smith, and many others to round out the cohort of more than 200 notable individuals.

“One of the reasons to honor extraordinary achievement is because the pursuit of excellence is so often accompanied by disappointment and self-doubt,” said David W. Oxtoby, president of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences. “We are pleased to recognize the excellence of our new members, celebrate their compelling accomplishments, and invite them to join the Academy and contribute to its work.”

The new class will be inducted at a ceremony in October 2019 in Cambridge, Massachusetts.

The full list of the newly elected members is available at www.amacad.org/newly-elected-members-2019.

UMD Engineers Create Fresh Route to Fresh Water

April 17, 2019
Contacts: 

Melissa L. Andreychek 301-405-0292

COLLEGE PARK, Md. – About a billion people around the world lack access to safe drinking water. Turning salty water into drinkable water can help to fill this essential need. But traditional desalination systems are far too expensive to install and operate in many locations, especially in low-income countries and remote areas.

Now researchers at the University of Maryland’s A. James Clark School of Engineering have demonstrated a successful prototype of one critical component for affordable small-scale desalination: an inexpensive solar evaporator, made of wood. The evaporator generates steam with high efficiency and minimal need for maintenance, says Liangbing Hu, associate professor of materials science and engineering and affiliate of the Maryland Energy Innovation Institute.

The teams design employs a solar-driven evaporation technique known as interfacial evaporation because it localizes this solar energy driven conversion of water to vapor at the air/liquid interface. This technique “shows great potential in response to global water scarcity because of its high solar-to-vapor efficiency, low environmental impact, and portable device design with low cost,” Hu says. “These features make it suitable for off-grid water generation and purification, especially for low-income countries.”

Interfacial evaporators are made of thin materials that float on saline water. Absorbing solar heat on top, the evaporators continuously pull up the saline water from below and convert it to steam on their top surface, leaving behind the salt, explains Hu, who is senior author on a paper describing the work in Advanced Materials.

However, over time salt can build up on this evaporative surface, gradually degrading performance until it is removed, he says.

Hu and his colleagues minimized the need for this maintenance with a device made out of basswood that exploits the wood’s natural structure of the micron-wide channels that carry water and nutrients up the tree.

The researchers supplement these natural channels by drilling a second array of millimeter-wide channels through a thin cross-section of the wood, says Yudi Kuang, a visiting scholar and lead author on the paper. The investigators then briefly expose the top surface to high heat, which carbonizes the surface for greater solar absorption.

In operation, as the device absorbs solar energy, it draws up salty water through the wood’s natural micron-wide channels. Salt is spontaneously exchanged from these tiny channels through natural openings along their sides to the vastly wider drilled channels, and then easily dissolves back into the water below.

“In the lab, we have successfully demonstrated excellent anti-fouling in a wide range of salt concentrations, with stable steam generation with about 75% efficiency,” says Kuang.

“Using natural wood as the only starting material, the salt-rejecting solar evaporator is expected to be low-cost,” adds research associate Chaoji Chen. The evaporator approach also is effective in other types of wood with similar natural channels. The researchers now are optimizing their system for higher efficiency, lower capital cost, and integration with a steam condenser to complete the desalination cycle.

Hu’s lab also recently developed another solar-heated prototype device that takes advantage of carbonized wood’s ability to absorb and distribute solar energy—this one created to help clean up spills of hard-to-collect heavy oils. “Our carbonized wood material demonstrates rapid and efficient crude oil absorption, as well as low cost and scalable manufacturing potential,” says Kuang, lead author on a paper about the research in Advanced Functional Materials.

“Wood is an intriguing material scaffold, with its unique hierarchically porous structure, and it is a renewable, abundant and cost-effective resource,” Hu says. “In our lab, the fundamental understanding of biomaterials (especially wood) leads us to achieve extraordinary performance that is competitive with widely used but non-sustainable materials.”

Other new wood-based materials created in Hu’s lab include light and effective “nanowood” insulating materials; transparent wood; “super wood” that is 12 times stronger and 10 times tougher than natural wood, and potentially could replace steel, titanium or carbon fiber in certain applications; and a wood-derived flexible membrane used to create a heat-to-electricity device.

Read past releases below about other poyrwood-based technologies being developed at UMD.

UMD Researchers’ Wood-based Technology Creates Electricity from Heat (March 2019)

UMD Researchers Create Super Wood Stronger Than Most Metals (Feb. 2018)

A Battery Made of Wood? (August 2016)

 

Wood Windows are Cooler than Glass (June 2013)

 

Two University of Maryland Scholars Named 2019 Guggenheim Fellows

April 17, 2019
Contacts: 

Lee Tune 301-405-4679

College Park, Md. – Two University of Maryland scholars—a literary scholar and a computer scientist— have been named 2019 Guggenheim Fellows, chosen on the basis of prior achievement and exceptional promise.

Mohammad T. Hajiaghayi, the Jack and Rita G. Minker Professor of Computer Science, and Gerard Passannante, associate professor of English, were among the 168 scholars, artists and writers chosen this year from a group of almost 3,000 applicants. They join a long list of past UMD Guggenheim Fellows that includes groundbreaking historian of slavery Ira Berlin, a Distinguished University Professor; physicist Michael E. Fisher, a Distinguished University Professor and Regents Professor who received two Guggenheim Fellowships (1970 & 1979);  professor of theatre Heather S. Nathans; quantum chemist, Millard Alexander, a Distinguished University Professor; and engineer/physicist Katepalli Sreenivasan.

Awarded by the John Simon Guggenheim Memorial Foundation, the fellowships are primarily awarded to those in the creative arts and humanities. These awards recognize those “who have demonstrated exceptional capacity for productive scholarship or exceptional creative ability in the arts," and provide grants of six to 12 months so recipients can freely pursue their work.

Hajiaghayi is one of 132019 awardees whose work is based in the natural sciences. He will receive $50,000 over 12 months to continue his research on algorithms for big graphs and game theory. Hajiaghayi’s algorithms—which are used by companies like Google and Amazon—analyze data sets with trillions of connections while accounting for user objectives and incentives.

“I want to keep working on solving real-world problems essentially,” Hajiaghayi says. “These technology companies will help me do that because they have huge datasets that you can’t find anywhere else.”

His algorithms also help process large datasets on devices with a limited amount of fast memory—a smartphone or tablet, for example—or devices that are connected to a relatively slow external data source. 

In 2016 Hajiaghayi was a part of a team of computer scientists from the University of Maryland, Stanford University and Microsoft Research that was the first to solve a game theory scenario known as “Colonel Blotto” that had vexed researchers for nearly a century.

Passannante studies European literature and culture from the 14th to the 18th century—from the verses of the poet Petrarch to the philosophy of Immanuel Kant. He is especially interested in how ideas travel. His recent honors include both the new Guggenheim Fellowship and an American Council of Learned Societies (ACLS) Fellowship to support his research on how contemporary ideas about scale, or the relative size or extent of something, have roots in ancient and early modern arguments about the order of the universe. In his project, "God is in the Detail," Passannante will explore a variety of literary and philosophical discussions of scale—for example, ancient arguments about cosmic order, Hamlet’s musings on infinity,  the discovery of calculus and the bodies of insects as seen through a microscope.

"It's about the history of the strategies we have for confirming that the world is secure and orderly—that 'everything’s fine'—in spite of what experience might say to the contrary," says Passannante. "It’s about finding evidence of order in the very smallest of things."

The phrase "God is in the detail" suggests that the divine is evident in even the smallest of things. Passannante chose it as the title of his project because it speaks to how questions of scale are caught up in questions about the order of the universe. He sees similar patterns emerging in contemporary thought, especially discussions of global warming.

"We live in a moment of profound ecological crisis, but we are dismayingly good at reassuring ourselves by finding order in small things," he said. "I want to create a historical lens through which to see our own practices of interpretation in another light."

The inspiration for Passannante's Guggenheim and ACLS project came while writing his recently published second book, "Catastrophizing: Materialism and the Making of Disaster," which traces the literary and philosophical history of catastrophizing, or imagining the worst. The book touches on everything from Leonardo da Vinci's musings on the destructive forces of nature to the doomsday predictions of Renaissance astrologers.  

"I was struck by the way ideas about scale were connected to ideas about the nature of God," he says. "I wanted to understand how and why people argued historically that God is present in even the smallest of things and how they translated this claim into a feeling."

Established in 1925, the Guggenheim Memorial foundation has awarded more than $360 million to over 18,000 people. Hajiaghayi, Passannate and the other 2019 fellows will be honored next month at a reception in New York City.

8th Annual Good Neighbor Day Returns With Its Largest Volunteer Count

April 12, 2019
Contacts: 

Golshan Jalali, 301-405-0043

COLLEGE PARK, Md. – The University of Maryland, the City of College Park and The Maryland-National Capital Park and Planning Commission (M-NCPPC) will host the 8th Annual Good Neighbor Day on Saturday, April 13, 2019 at 8:30 a.m. This day of service begins with an opening ceremony held at the College Park Community Center and continues at several service projects that unify Greater College Park to achieve the common goal of beautifying shared community spaces.

“The support we receive for this event is remarkable. Each year we have more and more volunteers interested in participating, which has allowed us to make big impacts in our shared community,” states Sarah D’Alexander, event producer of Good Neighbor Day.

Beginning as a Christmas in April event in 2011, the Good Neighbor Day initiative has developed into a well-known community-wide day of service. Growing from fifty participants in the first year, the 8th Annual Good Neighbor Day anticipates 900 volunteers, the largest number in the event’s history. In addition to UMD students, staff, faculty, and alumni, volunteers will include elected officials, city residents, and community youth uniting to complete over 20 service projects throughout the Greater College Park community.

Since 2012, Good Neighbor Day has gathered more than 2,100 volunteers to complete 50 service projects. The annual food drive has collected approximately 10,000 pounds of food to benefit the UMD Campus Pantry and the College Park Community Food Bank.

“It is great to see families taking part in caring for the environment and teaching their children the value in doing good and being engaged in the community,” says Gloria Aparicio Blackwell, Director of the Office of Community Engagement.

This year, projects will include community cleanups, tree planting at Lake Artemesia, meal packing with Terps Against Hunger, free translation services to community organizations through Terps Translate, landscape enhancement at Paint Branch Elementary, invasive species removal at Sentinel Swamp Sanctuary, and more.

For more information and to register for Good Neighbor Day, visit goodneighborday.umd.edu.

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