Facebook Icon Youtube Icon Twitter Icon Flickr Icon Vimeo Icon RSS Icon Itunes Icon Pinterest Icon

UMD Scientists Find First Clear Evidence of an Upper Level Atmosphere on an Exoplanet

August 7, 2017
Contacts: 

Lee Tune, 301-405-4679

COLLEGE PARK, Md. -- An international team of researchers from UMD, University of Exeter,  NASA and other institutions has found compelling evidence for a stratosphere on an enormous planet outside of the solar system. Previous research spanning the past decade has indicated possible evidence for stratospheres on planets in other solar systems, but this finding on planet, WASP-121b, is the first time that glowing water molecules have been detected—the clearest signal yet to indicate an exoplanet stratosphere.

“When it comes to distant exoplanets, which we can’t see in the same detail as other planets here in our own solar system, we have to rely on proxy techniques to reveal their structure,” said Drake Deming, a professor of astronomy at UMD and a co-author of the study. “The stratosphere of WASP-121b so hot it can make water vapor glow, which is the basis for our analysis.”

The planet, located approximately 900 light years from Earth, is a gas giant exoplanet commonly referred to as a “hot Jupiter.”  The scientists made the new discovery using NASA’s Hubble Space Telescope. The research is published in the August 3, 2017 issue of the journal Nature.

In our solar system all the planets have some kind of atmosphere, but the composition, density and number of layers vary greatly. Earth’s atmosphere has five layers, of which the troposphere is closest to the planet surface and in which temperature falls as the altitude increases. The stratosphere is the next layer and here temperatures increase with higher altitudes, a phenomena also found in the stratosphere of WASP-121b. The last three layers of Earth’s atmosphere are the mesosphere, the thermosphere, and the last layer, the exosphere, which merges with the emptiness of outer space .

To study the stratosphere of WASP-121b, scientists used spectroscopy to analyze how the planet’s brightness changed at different wavelengths of light. Water vapor in the planet's atmosphere, for example, behaves in predictable ways in response to certain wavelengths of light, depending on the temperature of the water. At cooler temperatures, water vapor blocks light from beneath it. But at higher temperatures, the water molecules glow.

The phenomenon is similar to what happens with fireworks, which get their colors when metallic substances are heated and vaporized, moving their electrons into higher energy states. Depending on the material, these electrons will emit light at specific wavelengths as they lose energy. For example, sodium produces orange-yellow light and strontium produces red light.

The water molecules in the atmosphere of WASP-121b similarly give off radiation as they lose energy, but it is in the form of infrared light, which the human eye is unable to detect.

“Theoretical models have suggested that stratospheres may define a special class of ultra-hot exoplanets, with important implications for the atmospheric physics and chemistry,” said Tom Evans, research fellow at the University of Exeter and lead author of the study. “When we pointed Hubble at WASP-121b, we saw glowing water molecules, implying that the planet has a strong stratosphere.”

WASP-121b has a greater mass and radius than Jupiter, making it much puffier. The exoplanet orbits its host star every 1.3 days, and the two bodies are about as close as they can be to each other without the star's gravity ripping the planet apart. This close proximity also means that the top of the atmosphere is heated to a blazing hot 2,500 degrees Celsius – the temperature at which iron exists in gas rather than solid form.

In Earth's stratosphere, ozone traps ultraviolet radiation from the sun, which raises the temperature of this layer of atmosphere. Other solar system bodies have stratospheres, too—methane is responsible for heating in the stratospheres of Jupiter and Saturn's moon Titan, for example. In solar system planets, the change in temperature within a stratosphere is typically less than 100 degrees Celsius. However, on WASP-121b, the temperature in the stratosphere rises by 1,000 degrees Celsius.

Though researchers have not been able to positively identify the cause of the heating they hope upcoming observations at other wavelengths to address this mystery.  

Vanadium oxide and titanium oxide gases are candidate heat sources, as they strongly absorb starlight at visible wavelengths, much like ozone absorbs UV radiation. These compounds are expected to be present in only the hottest of hot Jupiters, such as WASP-121b, as high temperatures are required to keep them in the gaseous state. Indeed, vanadium oxide and titanium oxide are commonly seen in brown dwarfs, ‘failed stars’ that have some commonalities with exoplanets.

NASA's forthcoming James Webb Space Telescope will be able to follow up on the atmospheres of planets like WASP-121b with higher sensitivity than any telescope currently in space.

"This super-hot exoplanet is going to be a benchmark for our atmospheric models, and will be a great observational target moving into the Webb era," said Hannah Wakeford, a research fellow at the University of Exeter and a co-author of the research paper.

 

 

 

University of Maryland Strategic Partnership Breaks Ground on Research and Academics at Cole Field House

August 4, 2017
Contacts: 

Katie Lawson, 301-405-4622

COLLEGE PARK, Md. – The University of Maryland, College Park (UMD) and University of Maryland, Baltimore (UMB) gathered with key partners, elected officials and donors on Wednesday to celebrate the latest milestones in the construction of the new Cole Field House. 

The event marked the completion of the first phase in construction of the new Cole Field House with a dedication of the just completed indoor practice fields; and celebrated the groundbreaking of the second phase of the project, which includes the Center for Sports Medicine, Health and Human Performance, a clinical treatment center and space for UMD’s Academy for Innovation and Entrepreneurship.

Led by University System of Maryland Chancellor Robert Caret, UMB President Jay Perman and UMD President Wallace Loh, the event underscored the importance of Cole Field House in putting the state of Maryland at the forefront of training the next generation of researchers, doctors, athletes and entrepreneurs. Maryland Senate President, Thomas V. Mike Miller, Jr., spoke to emphasize the importance of the University of Maryland Strategic Partnership, and UMD’s head football coach DJ Durkin discussed the world class facilities that UMD’s student athletes will now have access to.

A panel discussion highlighted how Cole Field House will change how we view, prevent and treat traumatic brain injury. The panel, moderated by Chancellor Emeritus of the University System of Maryland, Dr. Brit Kirwan, included Elizabeth Quinlan, Professor, Department of Biology, UMD, and Scientific Co-director, Center for Sports Medicine, Health and Human Performance; Alan Faden, Professor, Department of Anesthesiology, UM School of Medicine, UMB, and Scientific Co-director, Center for Sports Medicine, Health and Human Performance; and Andrew Pollak, James Lawrence Kernan Professor and Chair, Department of Orthopedics, UM School of Medicine Program in Sports Medicine, UMB.

View photos from the event here. 

Photo of ribbon cutting at Cole Field House event

The $196 million project is scheduled to be completed and ready for occupancy in 2019. 

 

 

University of Maryland Statement on August 3, 2017 Death of Contract Construction Worker

August 3, 2017
Contacts: 
Statement from Carlo Colella, Vice President of Administration & Finance
 
The university community is deeply saddened to learn of the death of a construction contractor working on campus today. We extend our heartfelt condolences.
 
The University of Maryland Police Department and Maryland Occupational Safety and Health will investigate the incident. 
 

UMD, UMB Offer First Look into New Cole Field House

July 31, 2017
Contacts: 

Katie Lawson, 301-405-4622

College Park, Md.-- The University of Maryland, College Park (UMD) and the University of Maryland, Baltimore (UMB) will join with key partners to mark the completion of the first phase in construction of the new Cole Field House with a dedication of the recently completed indoor practice fields. The institutions will also celebrate the groundbreaking of the second phase of the project, which includes the Center for Sports Medicine, Health and Human Performance, a clinical treatment center and space for UMD’s Academy for Innovation and Entrepreneurship.

The new Cole Field House will be a state-of-the art facility bringing research, innovation, athletics and clinical practice under one roof. The collaboration at Cole Field House will enable novel and groundbreaking work in brain injury and neuroscience that benefits the State at large.

WHO:

Robert L. Caret, Chancellor, University System of Maryland
Jay A. Perman, President, UMB
Wallace D. Loh, President, UMD
DJ Durkin, Football Head Coach, UMD
Elizabeth Quinlan, Professor, Department of Biology, UMD, and Scientific Co-director, Center for Sports Medicine, Health and Human Performance
Alan Faden, Professor, Department of Anesthesiology, UM School of Medicine, UMB, and Scientific Co-director, Center for Sports Medicine, Health and Human Performance
Andrew Pollak, James Lawrence Kernan Professor and Chair, Department of Orthopedics, UM School of Medicine Program in Sports Medicine, UMB

WHEN:

August 2, 2017
11:00 - Program begins
**Media availability to follow. Requests for interviews should be made in advance of the event.

WHERE:

Cole Field House
University of Maryland
4090 Union Dr., College Park, MD 20742

  • See on a map here
  • Parking will be available in Lot 1. Media should RSVP to secure a parking spot.

Four UMD Students Awarded 2017 Hollings Scholarship

July 31, 2017
Contacts: 

Leon Tune, 301-405-4679

COLLEGE PARK, Md. -- Four University of Maryland students have been awarded the 2017 Ernest F. Hollings Undergraduate Scholarship from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. Rising juniors Logan Kline, Anna Lowien, Cara Schiksnis and Emma Thrift, will each receive up to $9,500 per year for the last two years of their undergraduate career and participate in a 10-week, full-time paid summer internship at NOAA  facility. to gain hands-on educational training experience in NOAA-related science, research, technology, policy, management and education. 

Awarded annually, the Hollings Scholarship program recruits and prepares students for public service careers with NOAA and other natural resource and science agencies, or careers as teachers and educators in oceanic and atmospheric science. This year, NOAA awarded 110 Hollings scholarships to students from 64 universities in 33 states.

UMD awardees include: 

Photo of Logan KlineKline, president of the Environmental Science and Policy Student Association (ENSPire), is an environmental science and policy major with a concentration in Marine and Coastal Management. As ENSPire president, she works to unite ENSP majors by organizing career panels, social events, open forums with esteemed faculty members and fundraisers on behalf of the program. She conducted research in the Wetland Ecology lab under UMD professor Dr. Andrew Baldwin, examining carbon sequestration in restored versus natural wetlands. She also served as a Sustainability Advisor in the Office of Sustainability. This summer, Kline is working as an Interpretation and Environmental Education Intern for Fish and Wildlife at Chincoteague National Wildlife Refuge in Virginia.

 

 

Photo of Lowien

An environmental science and policy (ENSP) major with a concentration in environmental geosciences and restoration, Lowien is a member of the College Park Scholars Science and Global Change program. She conducts research in the laboratory of Michael Evans, an associate professor of geology at UMD. This summer, Lowien is analyzing cellulose from tropical trees in locations that experience changes in rainfall when El Niño and La Niña events occur. Her results will contribute to the study of whether and how human-caused changes in atmospheric composition have impacted El Niño. 

 

 

 

Photo of Cara SchiksnisSchiksnis, an environmental science and technology major with a concentration in environmental health, works in the Aquatic Toxicology Lab on campus. A member of the Gemstone Honors Program, she and her Gemstone team, Oyster, are working to increase populations of oysters in the Chesapeake Bay by designing structures to which developing oysters can attach and grow -- thereby improving the water quality in the bay and supporting a diverse and dynamic bay ecosystem. This summer, Schiksnis is interning at Johnson & Johnson in New Jersey, working with product stewardship to increase the company’s sustainability and minimize the environmental impacts of their products. This fall, Schiksnis will take sustainability classes while studying abroad in Florence, Italy.

 

Photo of Emma Thrift

Thrift, a biological sciences major and intern in the Plant Ecology Laboratory at the Smithsonian Environmental Research Center, studies mycorrhizal fungi that live in plant root systems and are necessary for orchid seeds to germinate. Thrift’s work focuses on how mycorrhizal fungi affect orchid populations, and she hopes to apply the results toward conserving orchids and orchid biodiversity in the wild. Thrift is also a CMNS student and a member of the College Park Scholars Science and Global Change program.

 

Gamma-ray Burst Captured in Unprecedented Detail

July 28, 2017
Contacts: 

Matthew Wright, 301-405-9267

COLLEGE PARK, Md. – Gamma-ray bursts are among the most energetic and explosive events in the universe. They are also short-lived, lasting from a few milliseconds to about a minute. This has made it tough for astronomers to observe a gamma-ray burst in detail.

Image of a gamma ray burstUsing a wide array of ground- and space-based telescope observations, an international team led by University of Maryland astronomers constructed one of the most detailed descriptions of a gamma-ray burst to date. The event, named GRB160625B, revealed key details about the initial “prompt” phase of gamma-ray bursts and the evolution of the large jets of matter and energy that form as a result of the burst. The group’s findings are published in the July 27, 2017 issue of the journal Nature.

“Gamma-ray bursts are catastrophic events, related to the explosion of massive stars 50 times the size of our sun. If you ranked all the explosions in the universe based on their power, gamma-ray bursts would be right behind the Big Bang,” said Eleonora Troja, an assistant research scientist in the UMD Department of Astronomy and lead author of the research paper. “In a matter of seconds, the process can emit as much energy as a star the size of our sun would in its entire lifetime. We are very interested to learn how this is possible.”

The group’s observations provide the first answers to some long-standing questions about how a gamma-ray burst evolves as the dying star collapses to become a black hole. First, the data suggest that the black hole produces a strong magnetic field that initially dominates the energy emission jets. Then, as the magnetic field breaks down, matter takes over and begins to dominate the jets. Most gamma-ray burst researchers thought that the jets were dominated by either matter or the magnetic field, but not both. The current results suggest that both factors play key roles.

“There has been a dichotomy in the community. We find evidence for both models, suggesting that gamma-ray burst jets have a dual, hybrid nature,” said Troja, who is also a visiting research scientist at NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center. “The jets start off magnetic, but as the jets grow, the magnetic field degrades and loses dominance. Matter takes over and dominates the jets, although sometimes a weaker vestige of the magnetic field might survive.”

The data also suggest that synchrotron radiation—which results when electrons are accelerated in a curved or spiral pathway—powers the initial, extremely bright phase of the burst, known as the “prompt” phase. 

“Synchrotron radiation is the only emission mechanism that can create the same degree of polarization and the same spectrum we observed early in the burst,” Troja said. “Our study provides convincing evidence that the prompt gamma-ray burst emission is driven by synchrotron radiation. This is an important achievement because, despite decades of investigation, the physical mechanism that drives gamma-ray bursts had not yet been unambiguously identified.”

Comprehensive coverage of GRB160625B from a wide variety of telescopes that gathered data in multiple spectra made these conclusions possible, the researchers said.

“Gamma-ray bursts occur at cosmological distances, with some dating back to the birth of the universe,” said Alexander Kutyrev, an associate research scientist in the UMD Department of Astronomy and a co-author of the research paper. “The events are unpredictable and once the burst occurs, it’s gone. We are very fortunate to have observations from a wide variety of sources, especially during the prompt phase, which is very difficult to capture.” 

NASA’s Fermi Gamma-ray Space Telescope first detected the gamma-ray emission from GRB160625B. Soon afterward, the ground-based MASTER-IAC telescope, a part of Russia’s MASTER robotic telescope network located at the Teide Observatory in Spain’s Canary Islands, followed up with optical light observations while the prompt phase was still active. 

MASTER-IAC gathered critical data on the proportion of polarized optical light relative to the total light produced by the prompt phase,, providing the crucial link between synchrotron radiation and the prompt phase of this gamma-ray burst. 

A magnetic field can also influence how much polarized light is emitted as time passes and the burst evolves. Because the researchers were able to analyze polarization data that spanned nearly the entire timeframe of the burst—a rare achievement—they were able to discern the presence of a magnetic field and track how it changed as GRB160625B progressed.

“There is very little data on polarized emission from gamma-ray bursts,” said Kutyrev, who is also an associate scientist at NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center. “This burst was unique because we caught the polarization state at an early stage. This is hard to do because it requires a very fast reaction time and there are relatively few telescopes with this capability. This paper shows how much can be done, but to get results like this consistently, we will need new rapid-response facilities for observing gamma-ray bursts.”

In addition to the gamma-ray and optical light observations, NASA’s Swift Gamma-ray Burst Mission spacecraft captured X-ray and ultraviolet data. The Reionization and Transient InfraRed/Optical Project camera—a collaboration between NASA, the University of California system and the National Autonomous University of Mexico installed at Mexico’s Observatorio Astrónomico Nacional in Baja California—captured infrared data. 

The group also gathered radio observations from Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation’s Australia Telescope Compact Array, located north of Sydney in rural New South Wales, and the National Radio Astronomy Observatory’s Very Large Array outside of Socorro, New Mexico.

In addition to Troja and Kutyrev, UMD co-authors of this paper include Adjunct Assistant Professor Brad Cenko and Astronomy Graduate Student Vicki Toy.

This research was supported by NASA (Award Nos. NNX09AH71G, NNX09AT02G, NNX10AI27G, NNX12AE66G, NNH14ZDA001N and NNH15ZDA001N), El Consejo Nacional de Ciencia y Tecnología, Mexico (CONACyT; Award Nos. INFR-2009-01-122785 and CB-2008-101958), the National Autonomous University of Mexico (Award No. IN113810), the University of California Institute for Mexico and the United States-El Consejo Nacional de Ciencia y Tecnología Collaborative Grants Program (UC MEXUS-CONACyT; Award No. CN 09-283), the Russian Science Foundation (Award No. 16-12-00085) and the United Kingdom Space Agency. The content of this article does not necessarily reflect the views of these organizations.

 

New UMD Research Tracks Global IT’s Shift from Cost-Cutting to Revenue-Boosting

July 26, 2017
Contacts: 

Greg Muraski301-892-0973

COLLEGE PARK, Md. - Information technology is often credited for its role in helping companies cut costs. However, new research by University of Maryland Professor Sunil Mithas shows that information technology actually creates increased global profits through increased revenue, not through cost cuts. The findings add perspective to the recent Gartner forecast for global spending on IT to reach $3.5 trillion by the end of 2017.

Firms can use either a revenue-focused or a cost-focused strategy to do business in foreign markets, explains Mithas, professor in UMD’s Robert H. Smith School of Business. The former is driven by investments to enhance competitive agility – to sense and respond to unique preferences and tastes of foreign customers and markets. The latter is driven by efficient supply chains. IT spending can power both strategies, but the key question facing executives, particularly when deciding how to allocate IT spending, is "which side is a greater profit-driver?"

The study, "Information Technology, Revenues, and Profits: Exploring the Role of Foreign and Domestic Operations," appears in the June 2017 issue of Information Systems Research.

Mithas and coauthors Jonathan Whitaker (University of Richmond) and Ali Tafti (University of Illinois-Chicago) studied approximately 300 U.S. publicly traded multinational firms and found that a $1 million increase in IT spending led to a $570,000 increase in foreign revenues and a $200,000 increase in foreign profits (these increases do not include the increases in domestic revenues and profits). Surprisingly, the increase in IT spending did not lead to a reduction in foreign costs.

"This finding suggests that foreign responsiveness plays a more important role in generating foreign profits than does value chain restructuring, even though the latter may look more tempting," Mithas says. Revenue-focused strategies pay off because they may be harder for competitors to copy, he and his coauthors say.

Mithas and his co-authors say global staffing firm Manpower also sought to improve revenue by becoming more responsive. In 2015, Manpower generated 78 percent of its total revenue in 80 countries outside the Americas. And although its IT-driven operating systems were 90 percent uniform, Manpower's director of information systems governance explained that the ability to customize the final 10 percent gave Manpower a competitive advantage in each geography.

The study also notes Mithas' related research, which lays out how a robust IT infrastructure boosts customer satisfaction and organizational capabilities that can contribute to revenue growth.

 

UMD Engineers Invent the First Bio-Compatible, Ion Current Battery

July 24, 2017
Contacts: 

Martha Heil, 626-354-5613

COLLEGE PARK, Md, -- Engineers at the University of Maryland have invented an entirely new kind of battery. It is bio-compatible because it produces the same kind of ion-based electrical energy used by humans and all living things. 

In our bodies, flowing ions (sodium, potassium and other electrolytes) are the electrical signals that power the brain and control the rhythm of the heart, the movement of muscles, and much more.

In traditional batteries, the electrical energy, or current, flows in form of moving electrons. This current of electrons out of the battery is generated within the battery by moving positive ions from one end (electrode) of a battery to the other.   The new UMD battery does the opposite. It moves electrons around in the device to deliver energy that is a flow of ions. This is the first time that an ionic current-generating battery has been invented. 

“My intention is for ionic systems to interface with human systems,” said Liangbing Hu, the head of the group that developed that battery. Hu is a professor of materials science at the University of Maryland, College Park. He is also a member of the University of Maryland Energy Research Center and a principal investigator of the Nanostructures for Electrical Energy Storage Energy Frontier Research Center, sponsored by the Department of Energy, which funded the study.

“So I came up with the reverse design of a battery,” Hu said. “In a typical battery, electrons flow through wires to interface electronics, and ions flow through the battery separator. In our reverse design, a traditional battery is electronically shorted (that means electrons are flowing through the metal wires). Then ions have to flow through the outside ionic cables. In this case, the ions in the ionic cable – here, grass fibers -- can interface with living systems.”

The work of Hu and his colleagues was published in the July 24 issue of Nature Communications.

“Potential applications might include the development of the next generation of devices to micro-manipulate neuronal activities and interactions that can prevent and/or treat such medical problems as Alzheimer’s disease and depression,” said group member Jianhua Zhang, PhD, a staff scientist at the National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases (NIDDK), part of the National Institutes of Health in Bethesda, Md.

“The battery could be used to develop medical devices for the disabled, or for more efficient drug and gene delivery tools in both research and clinical settings, as a way to more precisely treat cancers and other medical diseases, said Zhang, who performed biological experiments to test that the new battery successfully transmitted current to livingcells. 

“Looking far ahead on the scientific horizon, one hopes also that this invention may help to establish the possibility of direct machine and human communication,” he said.

Bio-compatible, bio-material batteries

Because living cells work on ionic current and existing batteries provide an electronic current, scientists have previously tried to figure out how to create biocompatibility between these two by patching an electronic current into an ionic current. The problem with this approach is that electronic current needs to reach a certain voltage to jump the gap between electronic systems and ionic systems. However, in living systems ionic currents flow at a very low voltage.  Thus, with an electronic-to-ionic patch the induced current would be too high to run, say, a brain or a muscle.  This problem could be eliminated by using ionic current batteries, which could be run at any voltage.

The new UMD battery also has another unusual feature – it uses grass to store its energy. To make the battery, the team soaked blades of Kentucky bluegrass in lithium salt solution. The channels that once moved nutrients up and down the grass blade were ideal conduits to hold the solution.

The demonstration battery the research team created looks like two glass tubes with a blade of grass inside, each connected by a thin metal wire at the top. The wire is where the electrons flow through to move from one end of the battery to the other as the stored energy slowly discharges. At the other end of each glass tube is a metal tip through which the ionic current flows.

The researchers proved that the ionic current is flowing by touching the ends of the battery to either end of a lithium-soaked cotton string, with a dot of blue-dyed copper ions in the middle. Caught up in the ionic current, the copper moved along the string toward the negatively charged pole, just as the researchers predicted.

“The microchannels in the grass can hold the salt solution, making them a stable ionic conductor,” said Chengwei Wang, first author of the paper and a graduate student in the Materials Science and Engineering department at the University of Maryland in College Park. 

However, the team plans to diversify the types of ionic current electron batteries they can produce. “We are developing multiple ionic conductors with cellulose, hydrogels and polymers,” said Wang

This is not the first time UMD scientists have tested natural materials in new uses. Hu and his team previously have been studying cellulose and plant materials for electronic batteries, creating a battery and a supercapacitor out of wood and a battery from a leaf.  They also have created transparent wood as a potentially more energy-efficient replacement for glass windows.

Creative Work

Ping Liu, an associate professor in nanoengineering at the University of California, San Diego, who was not involved with the study, said:  “The work is very creative and its main value is in delivering ionic flow to bio systems without posing other dangers to them. Eventually, the impact of the work really resides in whether smaller and more biocompatible junction materials can be found that then interface with cells and organisms more directly and efficiently.”

The research was funded by Nanostructures for Electrical Energy Storage, a DOE Energy Frontier Research Center, and by Intramural Research Program of the NIDDK (DK043304).

Flying Dog Brewery and University of Maryland Partner on Hops Production Initiative

July 21, 2017
Contacts: 

Graham Binder301-405-9235

COLLEGE PARK, Md.-- The University of Maryland (UMD) and Maryland's largest brewery are committed to developing the highest quality ingredients for Maryland beer.

Photo of Hops Trial at Western Maryland Research CenterFlying Dog Brewery and UMD’s College of Agriculture and Natural Resources have engaged in a partnership that will allow them to work side-by-side on the future of beer-centric agriculture in the region. To start, the focus is on hops.

“Hop farming in the state of Maryland continues to grow, and what we appreciate most about the program is the practical approach to the business of beer agriculture,” Matt Brophy, chief operating officer for Flying Dog, said. “It’s equal parts commitment to the development of our existing farms and providing local breweries with the highest quality ingredients.”

Hops used in craft beer production need to meet the same quality standards that are achieved in traditional hop growing regions of the world. Understanding this dynamic, UMD has established a replicated variety trial using 24 varieties of hops at the Western Maryland Research and Education Center (WMREC) in Keedysville, Maryland. The trials will collect critical information on how Maryland’s unique climate affects harvest date, levels of acids and oil in the hops, and any special aspects of profile.

“I am thrilled to be part of a partnership with a business leader in the state that has the foresight to help an entire industry grow using research-based information,” Bryan Butler, extension agent for UMD, said.

The current planting consists of 24 varieties of hops with each variety replicated three times. The first 12 varieties – planted in 2016  – were selected from discussions with academic and industry experts on what might perform well in this area and what was being used by brewers. The second 12 varieties were selected based on an informal survey of Maryland growers and brewers to establish what might be most marketable in this region.

As a land grant institution, the University of Maryland aims to provide information to producers on the viability and marketability of these varieties, as producers will need research-based details on not only varieties, but also disease, insect and fertility management specific to the mid-Atlantic, quality analysis of harvested hops and economic viability of hops as a crop.

To compliment the program, Flying Dog will help fund hop processing equipment for UMD and provide resources to analyze and evaluate each test crop the program harvests. Flying Dog will also develop beers using those hops, eliciting feedback from and exposing craft beer fans to the full potential of local hops.

“One of the most critical components of data collection for this trial is the timing of harvest because it directly affects the value of the crop,” Butler said. “Harvesting must be done consistently, and within a narrow window of time, to ensure maximum production, quality, and comparison of varieties. Flying Dog’s partnership will allow us to invest in a harvester, which will ensure that hops are harvested properly, and that data on each yield is realistic and relevant to growers.”

A culmination of these hop trials will be an annual guide that both UMD and Flying Dog will produce on growing hops in the mid-Atlantic, which will summarize best management practices specific to this region, something Brophy thinks is crucial to the continued growth and development of local hop farms.

UMD will also work with Flying Dog on the East Coast Hop Project, a limited-edition variety pack slated for release in the spring of 2018. It will feature three different beers, each one highlighting a different East Coast hop farm and regionally-viable hop varieties. Black Locust Hops, located in northern Baltimore County, and Pleasant Valley Hops, located in Rohrersville, Maryland, have already signed onto the project.

“By promoting and engaging East Coast hop farms, Flying Dog and UMD hope to accelerate both supply and demand for quality local hops,” Brophy said.

 

UMD’s “It Takes Just One” Student Team Wins National Competition to Curb Violent Extremism Online

July 21, 2017
Contacts: 

Jessica Stark Rivinius, 301-405-6632

COLLEGE PARK, Md.-- A student team from the University of Maryland won first place in the Peer to Peer: Challenging Extremism competition on July 18 at the Ronald Reagan Building and International Trade Center. Led by the Department of Homeland Security (DHS), the competition challenged students from across the nation to develop and execute campaigns and social media strategies to combat violent extremism online.

Photo of It Takes Just One team

The competition team, which included students from UMD’s College of Behavioral and Social Sciences: Tayler Schmidt, Victoria Challenger, Brittni Fine, Marcella Goldring and Elizabeth Streit, competed against 49 other teams, winning $5,000 and the opportunity to work with potential partners from the DHS and EdVenture on their  “It Takes Just One” campaign.

The team’s campaign, aimed at empowering bystanders to intervene and help steer individuals away from radicalization, is derived from the idea that “it takes just one person to care, just one choice to make a difference, and just one action to save a life.” To actualize this idea, the students started a social media campaign, interviewed family members and friends of radicalized individuals and created a “choose your own adventure” style video game.

“We worked hard to give a platform to people who never had a chance to share their stories, and to use those stories to help change the world,” said Fine, a recently graduated psychology major.

“From here we hope to create a network of bystanders of violent extremism, current and past, who are willing to help normalize and destigmatize the conversation surrounding the bystander effect,” Schmidt added.

The idea for the project began in a course offered through the National Consortium for the Study of Terrorism and Responses to Terrorism (START) at UMD. Taught by START Center’s Education Director Katherine Izsak and Executive Director William Braniff, the course challenges global terrorism minor students to develop solutions to issues of radicalization through communities.

“Combining the unique expertise of our START Center professionals with the passion of our students is clearly a winning strategy for combating complex issues such as violent extremism,” said Gregory Ball, Dean of the College of Behavioral and Social Sciences. “These are exactly the kinds of opportunities we want our students to be involved in—developing innovative solutions to problems in the real world.”

The team hopes to improve their educational video game, which will require outside funding and increasing their bystander outreach efforts. Through additional real stories, the “It Takes Just One” team will to continue to encourage those in similar situations to step in and say something to individuals at risk. The idea is that those who did not intervene can offer answers that can be integrated into the video game’s curriculum and future messages.

 

*UMD student, Zane Moses, contributed to this article. 

Pages

Photo of 'first-light' image
November 15
UMD scientists will use powerful new telescope camera for research and education. Read
November 15
Campus-wide initiative earns UMD No. 8 ranking from Princeton Review & Entrepreneur Magazine. Read
November 13
Grip Boost’s patent-pending technology was originally invented by the Complex Fluids and Nanomaterials Group in UMD’s A... Read
November 13
UMD is the first two-time winner of the top prize, and first institution to garner both a category award and the top... Read