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University of Maryland Strategic Partnership to Lead New USM COVID Research & Innovation Task Force

April 23, 2020

Natifia Mullins  301.405.4076, Lee Tune 301-405-4679

COLLEGE PARK, Md. – Laurie Locascio, vice president for research at the University of Maryland, College Park (UMCP) and the University of Maryland, Baltimore (UMB), was named chair of the University System of Maryland (USM) COVID-19 Research and Innovation Task Force.  Charged by USM Chancellor Jay A. Perman, the University of Maryland Strategic Partnership—the enhanced collaboration between UMCP and UMB—will facilitate the new USM Task Force to leverage and mobilize systemwide research and innovations and to engage policymakers, business leaders, and the entrepreneurial community in addressing the state’s COVID-19 pandemic. 

"There is no time more important for collaborative research,” Locascio said. “This pandemic demands that researchers pull together resources and our best thinking to tackle the challenges before us, and we feel the urgency of the task at hand. Together, researchers across the University System of Maryland will work to serve our state, our region, and our world."

Four strategic activities will guide the task force: 1) mobilize resources for positive impact; 2) prepare the USM long-term to address future pandemics and other crises; 3) build awareness of the system’s research and development projects centered on COVID-19; and 4) foster R&D collaborations within and outside the system.

Projects are already underway at UMB, UMCP, and across the system that are advancing the discovery and development of COVID-19 solutions: medical interventions and protocols; virology and vaccine research; engineering solutions; and IT, informatics, and artificial intelligence projects that can inform and accelerate the state’s public health strategy.

Experts across the USM are also influencing Maryland’s policy response and guiding the region’s understanding of the disease and its impacts. The USM COVID Research & Innovation Task Force will engage with business and industry to exchange ideas and help the USM move its expertise to scale in meeting both the health and economic challenges associated with the COVID-19 pandemic.

“Innovation is what we do. But we can do it bigger, better, and stronger if we do it together,” Perman said. “That’s what Maryland’s people deserve, and that’s where our focus is. Therefore, we’re establishing this system-wide task force to steer this essential work—to make sure that the full power of the USM can be applied at this critical moment in time.

The task force will include Perman, UMB Interim President Bruce Jarrell, UMCP President-Designee Darryll Pines, and University of Maryland, Baltimore County Vice President for Research Karl Steiner, UMB School of Medicine Associate Dean of Research and Administration Terry Rogers, and USM Vice Chancellor for Communications and Marketing Timothy McDonough. Senior staffing for the task force will be provided by USM Vice Chancellor for Economic Development J. Thomas Sadowski.

For the full release about the USM COVID Research & Innovation Task Force, visit USM’s Newsroom


University of Maryland, College Park & University of Maryland, Baltimore Fund New Collaborative Research to Advance Medical Science

April 22, 2020

Lee Tune 301.405.4679, Hafsa Siddiqi 301.405.4671

COLLEGE PARK, Md. – The University of Maryland, Baltimore (UMB) and the University of Maryland, College Park (UMD) are funding new cross-campus research projects as part of a new joint program that seeks to solve big health care challenges through joint research that draws on the institutions world leading expertise in medicine and artificial intelligence.

The below research awards are the first in a joint UMB-UMD program that will fund big research initiatives that draw on the fields of artificial intelligence and medicine. Known as AIM-HI (AI + Medicine for High Impact), the program was launched a year ago by Vice President for Research Laurie Locascio, Ph.D., in partnership with Deans from both campuses and support from both Presidents.  Locascio is Vice President for Research for both UMD and UMB.

"The AIM-HI program unites unique strengths from both campuses in pursuit of breakthrough efforts that will impact and improve human health,” said Vice President for Research Laurie Locascio.   These teams of investigators are partnering to address major healthcare challenges.  I have big expectations for what these teams will be able to accomplish and the impact that it will have on Marylanders and around the world."

The new grants support UMD-UMB teams that are investigating new ways of tackling major medical challenges in four areas: chronic pain, mental health, aging and age-associated diseases, and neonatal opioid withdrawal syndrome. 

"The AIM-HI program represents some of our best research collaboration, leveraging our strengths to address real-world healthcare challenges. Not only will this partnering of expertise in medicine and computer science yield new knowledge and new treatments, but it will also lead to countless new collaborations, as we all see what is possible when we work together,” said UMB President Bruce Jarrell

AIM-HI supports research with strong potential to contribute major scientific discoveries, secure sizable additional external funding and, ultimately, to lead to meaningful improvements in the quality of the lives of people in Maryland, the region and the nation through improved patient care or treatment. Through the AIM-HI program, these first four awards in total will receive up to $1.8 million in funding over three years.

“With these projects, we are developing new technologies and approaches to relieve some of the most painful and difficult ailments that afflict people in the state,” said University of Maryland President Wallace D. Loh. “The progress we make will demonstrate the power of partnership--the edge that our institutions working together can deliver to Maryland and beyond.”

The AIM-HI 2020 awardees

Development of a predictive multi-omics platform for the study of aging and age-associated diseases

UMB researchers: Maureen Kane, School of Pharmacy-Pharmaceutical Sciences; Marta Lipinski, School of Medicine-Anesthesiology and the Shock, Trauma and Anesthesiology Research (STAR) Center; Jace Jones  School of Pharmacy-Pharmaceutical Sciences

UMD researcher: Michael Cummings, College of Computer, Mathematical and Natural Sciences (CMNS) - Biology

The research seeks to develop an analytical framework to identify predictive functional relationships between changes in different metabolic parameters during aging. The ultimate goal is to generate testable hypotheses about mechanisms contributing to aging under normal and disease conditions and identification of appropriate interventions.


Precision Therapy for Neonatal Opioid Withdrawal Syndrome

UMB researchers: Seth Ament, School of Medicine-Institute for Genome Sciences & Department of Psychiatry; Dina El Metwally School of Medicine - Department of Pediatrics, and Director of the University of Maryland Medical Center’s Neonatal Intensive Care Unit (NICU); Amber Beitelshees, School of Medicine - Program for Personalized and Genomic Medicine & Department of Medicine; Asaf Keller School of Medicine - Chair of the Department of Anatomy & Neurobiology

UMD Researchers: Margret Bjarnadottir, Robert H. Smith School of Business, Department of Management Science and Statistics; Ritu Agarwal, Robert H. Smith School of Business Interim Dean and Chair of Information Systems

The ultimate research goal is to improve clinical decision making in the treatment of neonatal opioid withdrawal syndrome (NOWS). The opioid epidemic has led to dramatic increases in prenatal opioid exposure. Our current tools do not allow us to predict which babies will develop withdrawal or how they will respond to treatment. To address this urgent clinical challenge, the team will develop clinical and genomic biomarkers to predict withdrawal and treatment response in a unique, racially diverse cohort at UMMC and affiliated hospitals. 


A Multi-Stage Machine Learning Framework for Prioritization in Mental Health Risk Assessment

UMB researcher: Deanna L. Kelly, School of Medicine, Psychiatry, Maryland Psychiatric Research Center

UMD researchers: Philip Resnik, College of Arts and Humanities, Linguistics and University of Maryland Institute of Advanced Computer Science (UMIACS); Carol Espy-Wilson, A. James Clark School of Engineering, Electrical and Computer Engineering; John Dickerson, College of Computer, Mathematical, and Natural Sciences, Computer Science, and UMIACS

This project seeks to lead a basic shift in how to think about machine learning in mental health by treating the dominant paradigm of individual-level classification or regression not as an end in itself, but rather as providing necessary components in a broader framework, where the central need is to prioritize available resources effectively, given real-world resource constraints. Machine learning is poised to have a large impact on our ability to identify people who are suffering from mental health problems. And mental illness is one of the most significant challenges in healthcare: in economic terms alone, mental illness exceeds cardiovascular diseases and is also more than the projected cost of cancer, chronic respiratory diseases, and diabetes combined. An increased ability to identify people who need help is going to add an influx of new cases that require assessment and potentially action of some kind, significantly increasing stress on a mental health ecosystem that cannot easily scale up. 


Tackling Chronic Pain: Machine Learning-Enabled Biomarker Discovery and Sensing

UMB Researchers: Robert Ernst, School of Dentistry - Microbial Pathogenesis; Richard Traub, School of Dentistry - Neural and Pain Sciences; Alison Scott School of Dentistry - Microbial Pathogenesis

UMD Researchers: Pamela Abshire, Clark School of Engineering - Electrical and Computer Engineering and Institute for Systems Research; Reza Ghodssi, Clark School of Engineering -  Electrical and Computer Engineering and Institute for Systems Research; Behtash Babadi, Clark School of Engineering - Electrical and Computer Engineering and Institute for Systems Research

This multidisciplinary research team is uniquely positioned to make important contributions to understanding chronic pain in the gastrointestinal (GI) tract by advancing the scientific understanding and technology of biomarker analysis. The proposed research will use an animal model of comorbid pain hypersensitivity that combines orofacial pain and stress to induce chronic visceral pain hypersensitivity to collaboratively search for novel, localized biomarkers associated with GI pain by: 1) mass spectrometry imaging as well as proteomic, lipidomic and RNA sequence analysis; 2) miniaturized, multiplexed biochemical sensors to measure localized biomarkers in rats; 3) machine learning approaches to facilitate mass spectrometry imaging analysis and correlation of factors across multiple sensing modalities. This work also could serve as proof-of-concept for future developments in data-driven healthcare.


University of Maryland Announces Plans to Celebrate 2020 Spring Graduates

April 20, 2020

Katie Lawson 301-405-4622,


COLLEGE PARK, Md. - The University of Maryland today announces its three-part plan to celebrate 2020 spring graduates amid the global coronavirus pandemic. Revealed to the campus community today in a letter from UMD President Wallace D. Loh, the special arrangements include a virtual commencement celebration on May 22, 2020, to recognize graduates through an engaging, multi-platform program; complimentary tickets to a Maryland Football game on Sept. 12, 2020; and the opportunity to participate in the university’s winter commencement ceremony on Dec. 20, 2020. 

Presided over by Loh, the virtual campus-wide commencement ceremony will be streamed live across multiple platforms on May 22, 2020, at 1:00 p.m.and include remarks from Citrupa (Kat) Gopal ‘20, a biological sciences major, and Majority Leader Steny H. Hoyer '63. The university will also confer honorary doctorates to Hiram Whittle ‘52, the first African-American male undergraduate student admitted to UMD in 1951, and Elaine Johnson Coates ‘59, the first African-American female student admitted in 1955. Individual colleges and schools will also host their own virtual commencement ceremonies on May 22, featuring remarks from Deans and displaying the names of every graduate.  

“While this semester has not turned out how any of us expected, we are still making plans to recognize and celebrate the accomplishments of the graduates of the spring class of 2020,” said Loh. “We all look forward to commemorating this upcoming graduating class. And I look forward to standing with them, another proud "graduate" of the spring class of 2020 of the University of Maryland.”  

The university is collaborating with student groups and leaders across campus on plans for commencement. “As a graduating senior, I am heartbroken that commencement will not occur the way I’ve envisioned it for the past four years,” said Student Body President Ireland Lesley '20. “I know that many of my fellow graduating seniors feel the same way. However, I am grateful that we will get the chance to celebrate our experience and achievements at UMD together. During such an uncertain time, I appreciate the Administration taking time to collect and listen to student feedback before making this decision.” 

“During these challenging and uncertain times, it is a great honor to address the Spring 2020 graduates of the University of Maryland, College Park,” said Majority Leader Steny H. Hoyer '63. “I know this year’s celebrations will look a bit different, but I look forward to joining together with the UMD family to recognize the achievements of our graduates and wish them well as they enter the next phase of their lives.” 

As House Majority Leader, Hoyer is the second-ranking member of the House Democratic Leadership and plays a key role in shaping House Democrats’ priorities and bringing legislation to the Floor. It was at UMD that he began a journey that would lead to him becoming the first Marylander in history to serve in this role. Hoyer continuously works to bring federal resources home to Maryland’s Fifth District, which includes College Park. He is a strong advocate for the university’s expansion of research and teaching and an avid supporter of Maryland Athletics. 

Maryland Athletics will provide complimentary tickets to graduates and guests to the home football game on Sept. 12, 2020. In addition, spring graduates are invited to attend and participate in the winter commencement ceremony, which will take place on Dec. 20, 2020. The university will continue to closely monitor guidance from state and local leaders, the USM chancellor, and public health officials and will announce additional details when they are available, keeping the health and safety of the university community as the top priority.  

Throughout the remainder of the semester, the university will be calling on graduates to share photos, videos and messages of memories, experiences and hope with fellow Terps using the hashtag #UMDgrad for the opportunity to be included in the virtual commencement ceremony. Students will also be encouraged to engage live on social media during the virtual ceremony on May 22.  

Additional information about commencement will be shared with graduates and added to​ as it becomes available.  


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 59 members of the national academies. The institution has a $2.1 billion operating budget and secures more than $1 billion annually in research funding together with the University of Maryland, Baltimore. For more information about the University of Maryland, College Park, visit 

UMD Researchers Develop Platform To Track Social Distancing Compliance

April 13, 2020

Robert Herschbach 410-245-8959

COLLEGE PARK, Md. — Many Americans are still not following physical distancing guidelines issued by state and federal authorities that are designed to slow the spread of the novel coronavirus disease (COVID-19). The percentage of people staying home nationwide increased from 20% to 35% at the onset of COVID-19 in mid-March but then stagnated at 35% for three weeks, despite skyrocketing new COVID-19 cases. Erratic compliance is just one of the trends registered by a new interactive analytics platform developed by researchers at the University of Maryland’s A. James Clark School of Engineering that measures the impact of COVID-19 on mobility, health, the economy, and society. 
The UMD researchers are making their data and findings, which are updated daily, available to the public in order to help public officials make informed decisions. The first phase of the project focused on how physical distancing measures are affecting mobility behavior, spread of COVID-19, and local economies.   
“Our goal is to not only produce new and compelling data, but to truly inform and support decision-makers with the best available data and interactive analysis tools,” said Maryland Transportation Institute (MTI) Director and Herbert Rabin Distinguished Professor Lei Zhang, who leads the project. “Government agencies need to improve the effectiveness of physical distancing and stay-at-home orders by educating the general public, increasing enforcement, working with employers and communities, and supporting vulnerable populations who may encounter challenges in meeting social distancing requirements.”
Government stay-at-home orders have had a positive, but limited, impact on mobility behavior, the platform shows. The highest increase in the percentage of people staying at home during the week after a statewide order, in comparison to the week before the order, belongs to New Jersey (13%), followed by New York (11%), Illinois (11%), California (11%), and Michigan (10%). Government orders had virtually no impact on the percentage of people staying home in Kentucky, Maine, South Carolina, Pennsylvania, and Missouri. On average, a government order has resulted in just a 4.3% change in mobility behavior.
The District of Columbia and New York state have the highest percentage of people who are staying at home in the nation, but that percentage has stagnated around 54% for the District of Columbia and 49% for New York for weeks, even after shelter-in-place restrictions were imposed, the UMD platform shows. The total number of trips per person has dropped by 22% nationwide. Among all the trips still being taken, however, fewer than 14% are trips to and from work. The majority of the trips taken are still for non-work purposes. Meanwhile, inter-county and out-of-town trips still comprise a significant portion of all trips, at 25% nationwide. 
“Government advisories and stay-at-home orders have not accomplished the expected change in mobility behavior, according to our data analysis,” Zhang said. “Those who are able to adopt social distancing practices already did so before government intervention. Those who cannot or do not want to stay at home show significant behavior inertia and render government stay-at-home orders much less effective than expected.”
Using anonymized and aggregated location data from mobile devices and other sources, the new impact analysis platform provides daily updates, going back to January 1, 2020, on variables that include a social distancing index, percentage of people staying at home, visits to work and non-work locations, out-of-county trips, trip distance, and relationship between mobility behavior and COVID-19 cases. The results are aggregated and scaled to the entire population of each county and state. 
Center for Advanced Transportation Technology (CATT) Laboratory Director Michael Pack is the project co-lead. “This is just phase one of our analysis,” Pack said. “We plan on rolling out new statistics, correlated data, information visualizations, and other tools to the platform daily to enable more insights and discoveries.” 
The mobility metrics are being paired with healthcare data, sociodemographic data, unemployment numbers, and business establishment data, building a richer set of metrics that aid in understanding how COVID-19 is affecting our society and how to design and implement policies on social distancing, economic stimulus, and protecting vulnerable populations.
“COVID-19 is a complex challenge with broad-ranging impact,” said Clark School Professor Darryll J. Pines, who will become president of the university in July after 11 years as dean of the Clark School. “One of our strengths at UMD is our ability to bring together knowledge from varied disciplines—in this case, transportation engineering, public health, data analytics, and economics—to address problems that are complex by nature.”
The platform can be accessed at For more information, contact the project team at MTI and CATT Lab are both affiliated with the Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering in the A. James Clark School of Engineering at UMD. The UMD team benefits from collaboration with various data providers, including a COVID-19 International Data Collaborative led by Cuebiq and cloud computing support from Amazon. 


Construction to Begin on Mixed-Use Development in Downtown College Park

April 10, 2020

Natifia Mullings, 301-852-0090
Katie Gerbes, 443-504-9037

COLLEGE PARK, Md.— Bozzuto Development, along with partners Terrapin Development Company and Willard Retail, are thrilled to announce that construction has started on a grocery-anchored, mixed-use community featuring upscale residences, restaurants and retail at the southern gateway of Downtown College Park. 

Located within an Opportunity Zone at the intersection of Baltimore Avenue and Calvert Street (7150 Baltimore Ave), this redevelopment will anchor a new, dynamic district in Downtown College Park. The project is a signature piece of the University of Maryland’s Greater College Park initiative to revitalize the area by creating a vibrant downtown community, a public-private research hub, and dynamic academic spaces. 

Beginning with the original vision and RFP issued by the University of Maryland Foundation in 2015, the intent has always been to deliver an energetic and ambitious mix of retail spaces and residences at this important site within the heart of College Park. The closing and groundbreaking are the results of many remarkable partnerships, including Prince George’s County and The City of College Park, both of which provided financial assistance to ensure the economic feasibility of the project. Financing also includes a construction loan with Bank of America and PNC Bank. 

The community will deliver a 61,000-square-foot retail environment anchored on each end by attractive grocer and fitness uses, as well as 650 parking spaces. 

In assembling parcels owned by various parties, including College Park Shopping Center who will also be a partner in the project, the development team was able to extend Calvert Street to create two appropriately scaled blocks linked by an amenity bridge that sits above a pedestrian-oriented retail street. Importantly, Calvert Street extends directly to the College Park Metro (current Green/Yellow Line and upon delivery, the Purple Line) just ½ mile from the redevelopment.  

Set above an active retail streetscape, the multifamily experience with its 393 apartments will be on-par with the urban residences of Washington, D.C., differentiated by a softness and warmth throughout spaces that flow inside and out—characterized by natural materials, botanical art, and greenery. Upon entering the spacious art-filled lobby, an impressive amenity experience leads up a grand staircase, across a co-working amenity bridge, and straight toward a lush pool courtyard that is wrapped by highly designed social and wellness spaces. 

The design of the amenities flows seamlessly into a verdant courtyard, creating the lush sense of a botanical garden, reinforcing a sense of wellness and connectivity. This biophilic design draws upon the University’s founding as an agricultural college, linking the current evolution of College Park to its rich history. 

“We are proud to partner with Bozzuto Development and Willard Retail to help enrich and revitalize Downtown College Park. This new development will not only provide quality housing options for students, but it will also serve the Greater College Park community with essential retail amenities.” Ken Ulman, President, Terrapin Development Company. 

UMD Community Raises Over $162K for Student Crisis Fund

March 30, 2020

Hafsa Siddiqi 301.405.4671

In a time of crisis, the University of Maryland community—alumni, faculty, staff and more—came together to lend a helping hand to students struggling financially as a result of the unprecedented hit from COVID-19, raising over $162,000 since launching a campaign for the University’s Student Crisis Fund on March 25.

The UMD Student Crisis Fund provides immediate assistance to any student who faces an unanticipated emergency financial need. In a typical week, the Division of Student Affairs fields two to five applications from students seeking emergency funds. With the COVID-19 pandemic causing many Maryland students to be hit hard by the campus disruptions, the Division is now averaging 70 desperate requests a day, with a record 231 flooding the office on March 20, as students seek help to continue their education and maintain their living arrangements. 

From March 11 to 24, the Division distributed $240,000 to close to 700 students representing every college and school. With the Fund nearly depleted, the public campaign has sought much-needed support from the Maryland community to replenish funds. The community answered and rose to the challenge. Since March 11, the university has distributed nearly $379,050 to 803 students. 

Aid is still needed for students during this difficult time. For more information on how students have been impacted, please read the latest on Maryland Today and consider a donation by visiting Giving to Maryland.

Parenting Through the COVID-19 Pandemic

March 25, 2020

Hafsa Siddiqi 301-405-4671

Andrea Chronis-Tuscano is a clinical psychology professor from the College of Behavioral & Social Sciences at the University of Maryland who specializes in parenting and parent mental health. She offers these tips for families navigating the COVID-19 pandemic:

Children and families in our society are constantly on the go and the current state of affairs is certainly unsettling for us all. However, we as parents set the “emotional tone” for our families. Children take cues from their parents regarding how to respond to stress. Although it may be a challenge, parents need to find a way to stay calm amongst this chaos. How do we do this when we, too, may naturally feel anxious regarding the uncertainty surrounding COVID-19, and disconnected due to recommendations about social distancing? At a time when there is so much we cannot control, we need to focus on those things we can control. Know that you are not alone in your struggles and keep these simple messages in mind as you rise to meet this unprecedented challenge:

Model and practice self-care. Things like maintaining some level of daily structure and routines is important for parents and children alike. First and foremost, keeping regular sleep routines are so important to our overall well-being. The amount of sleep we get affects our moods and abilities to manage stress. Further, sleep-deprived parents have a harder time staying calm and sleep-deprived children have a harder time regulating their behaviors. Other routines like taking our daily shower, eating meals at roughly the same time, and getting some exercise each day will help us (and our children) to feel more settled.

Allow yourself (and your child) to have some feelings of stress and anxiety. It is natural for both you and your child to feel some anxiety and stress during this time, and to miss going to work or school. If your child expresses an emotion, let them know that that is natural and that everyone is feeling that way right now.

Avoid setting unrealistic expectations. Being stuck at home for the unforeseeable future seems like a great time to be productive in terms of new work and home projects, doesn’t it? Wrong! Parents who are fortunate enough to be working from home are also charged with taking care of their children who are home from school. Complex homeschooling schedules and activities are circulating on social media, but parents need to be realistic about what they can accomplish on both fronts (work and family). It's important to avoid comparing yourself to others, who might not have it as together as their Facebook posts would like to suggest! Your main goal right now is to keep your family feeling safe and calm. Anything else is gravy. 

Make plenty of time for fun. When the weather cooperates, families need to get outdoors as much as possible. Fresh air and exercise benefit us all! When weather or social distancing mandates interfere with that plan, there are also plenty of indoor activities that can elevate our moods: reading a book, practicing meditation or yoga, or watching a Netflix series. Rarely do we have as much free time to spend as a family so take out the board game that is collecting dust on the shelf, do a puzzle, or cook together. Parents and children may want to generate a list of fun activities to do together during this time to distract from what is happening in the outside world and build deeper connections.

Stay socially connected. One of the hardest aspects of the COVID-19 pandemic is the recommendation regarding social distancing. We are social creatures and derive so much enjoyment from our social interactions. Our children who are home miss their friends. We may also have elderly relatives or friends we have not been seeing to reduce exposure. Regular videochats (using FaceTime, Google Hangouts, Skype, Zoom or WhatsApp) are a great way to stay in touch and connected.

Seek help when needed. For people who are really struggling with anxiety and depression, most mental health professionals are providing teletherapy services to allow people to get help through their smart phones, tablets or computers. Contact your health care practitioner for guidance on how to use these services and don’t be afraid or ashamed to seek help when you are truly feeling overwhelmed.

Finally, be kind to yourselves and try to have as much fun as possible with this rare gift of family time.


About the University of Maryland, College Park
The University of Maryland, College Park is the state's flagship university and one of the nation's preeminent public research universities. A global leader in research, entrepreneurship, and innovation, the university is home to more than 40,000 students,10,000 faculty and staff, and 280 academic programs. As one of the nation’s top producers of Fulbright scholars, its faculty includes two Nobel laureates, three Pulitzer Prize winners and 59 members of the national academies. The institution has a $2.1 billion operating budget and secures more than $1 billion annually in research funding together with the University of Maryland, Baltimore. For more information about the University of Maryland, College Park, visit:

UMD Researchers Use Simulation Tool to Observe Molecular Behavior

March 25, 2020

 Robert Herschbach 410-245-8959

COLLEGE PARK, Md. – From targeted drug delivery to oil extraction, engineers are finding ways to use miniscule particles, known as nanoparticles, that can interact with substances in various ways, such as causing them to adhere. Doing so requires an understanding of how the particle surfaces behave—and that can be tricky, given the submicroscopic scales involved. Often, conventional experimental methods aren’t able to deliver sufficiency precise data.

Researchers at UMD, led by associate professor of mechanical engineering Siddhartha Das, have been utilizing a simulation tool to model the behavior of individual atoms and molecules. With this approach, “we’re able to obtain unprecedented levels of atomistic detail for problems of great engineering and biomedical significance,” Das said.

The team has now published key findings in the journal Matter, a Cell Press publication. A paper appearing in the journal details how Das and the research team—which also includes Dr. Peter W. Chung, Parth Rakesh Desai, Sai Ankit Etha, Turash Haque Pial, Harnoor Singh Sachar, and Yanbin Wang—were able to employ molecular dynamics to simulate, with unprecedented atomistic detail, the behavior of long, charged molecules (often known as polyelectrolytes or PEs) when they are attached to surfaces and attain configurations that resemble the bristles of our toothbrushes. 

Such architectures are known as PE brushes. “What PE brushes do is modify the properties of the surfaces in order to create the desired interactions. This is called ‘functionalizing the surfaces,’” Das said.

Such ‘functionalization’ is used to attribute a variety of capabilities to surfaces, such as nanochannel walls or nanoparticle surfaces, for applications ranging from sensing and rectification to drug delivery and oil recovery. 

“This is one of the earliest studies to probe the intriguing behavior of PE brushes with such a remarkable level of atomistic resolution,” Das said. “It allows us to provide an unprecedented description of the ions and water molecules with atomistic resolution: this enables a better understanding of the behavior of the PE brushes, which in turn will help us to significantly improve the different applications where the PE-brush-grafted surfaces are employed.”

Their work has broad relevance to scientists seeking to manipulate various kinds of surfaces and particles so they can be used for different purposes—for example, water harvesting, in which rain and moisture is collected for human use, or in recovering oil from tiny niches inside rocks. Scientists developing treatments for cancer also seek to manipulate the surfaces of submicroscopic particles in order to use them in identifying sick cells.

Through running their simulations, the team observed two specific phenomena: an “ultraconfinement effect,” leading to changes in distribution, structure, and properties, and a water-in-salt-like scenario, in which water molecules become replaced by molecules from the brushes.

Das wrote the paper together with Sachar, a PhD student in the mechanical engineering department. Sachar and fellow doctoral student Pial ran the simulations, while the data was analyzed by PhD students Desai, Etha, and Wang, and by Chung, an associate professor of mechanical engineering. The Deepthought2 High-Performance Computing cluster provided computational support.


Their work was supported by a grant from the U.S. Department of Energy. The paper will be published on Volume 2, Issue 6 of the journal, with a publication date of June 3, and is currently available online at


UMD Graduate Programs Receive High Rankings by U.S. News & World Report

March 18, 2020

Tiffany Blossom,, 301-405-4535

COLLEGE PARK, Md. --  University of Maryland schools, colleges and programs were recognized in the U.S. News & World Report in its 2021 Best Graduate School rankings released yesterday. The following UMD programs and specialties ranked in the Top 10 in the nation: counseling/personnel services (No. 1, College of Education & College of Behavioral and Social Sciences), homeland/national security (No. 4, School of Public Policy), educational psychology (No. 5, College of Education), higher ed administration (No. 10, College of Education), information systems (No. 10, Robert H. Smith School of Business), and audiology (No. 10, College of Behavioral and Social Sciences).

Here are this year’s highlights:

  • The College of Education & College of Behavioral and Social Sciences hold one top 5 joint ranking: counseling/personnel services (No. 1).
  • The College of Education holds another top 5 ranking: educational psychology (No. 5) and eight top 20 rankings: counseling/personnel services (No. 1), education psychology (No. 5), higher ed administration (No. 10), special education (No. 14), secondary teacher education (No. 16), education policy (No. 17), curriculum and instruction (No. 19), and elementary education (No. 19).
  • The College of Behavioral and Social Sciences also holds two top 20 rankings: audiology (No. 10) and speech-language pathology (No. 16).
  • The School of Public Policy holds one top 5 ranking: homeland/national security (No. 4) and three top 20 rankings: homeland/national security (No. 4), public finance & budgeting (No. 11), and international global policy (No. 12).
  • The A. James Clark School of Engineering holds four top 20 rankings: aerospace (No. 12), computer (No. 14), electrical (No. 14), and mechanical engineering (No. 17). 
  • The Robert H. Smith School of Business holds one top 20 ranking: information systems (No. 10).

The U.S. News 2021 Best Graduate Schools listing evaluates graduate programs across six major disciplines in business, education, engineering, law, medicine, and nursing, including specialties in each area. The rankings are based on expert opinions about program excellence and statistical indicators that measure the quality of a school’s faculty, research output, and student achievement. According to U.S. News, the data for the rankings in all six disciplines came from statistical and reputation surveys sent to tens of thousands of academics and professionals, conducted in fall 2019 and early 2020.

While not every program is ranked each year, UMD still retains several top 20 graduate programs rankings from previous cycles:

  • The College of Behavioral and Social Sciences holds one top 5 ranking: criminology (No. 1), ranked in 2018.
  • The College of Arts and Humanities holds one top 5 ranking: african american history (No. 2), ranked in 2017.
  • The College of Information Studies holds one top 10 ranking: best library and information studies programs (No. 8) ranked in 2017.
  • The College of Computer, Mathematical, and Natural Sciences holds two top 20 rankings: physics (No. 14) ranked in 2018 and computer science (No. 16) ranked in 2018. 

The full U.S. News & World Report’s Best Graduate School rankings are available here, with UMD’s complete graduate rankings listed here


University of Maryland Announces No Classes on Friday, March 13, 2020

March 12, 2020

Due to the evolving COVID-19 outbreak, UMD will begin spring break one day early. Classes and exams will be held tonight. Classes are canceled and administrative offices are closed Friday, March 13, 2020. Residence Halls will close as previously scheduled on Friday, March 13, 2020 at 7:00 PM. Additional information is forthcoming. 


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