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University of Maryland SAFE Center, PGPD Receive Joint $1.3M Grant to Assist Human Trafficking Victims

October 25, 2017

Mary T. Phelan410-706-3803

COLLEGE PARK, Md.-- The University of Maryland Support, Advocacy, Freedom and Empowerment (SAFE) Center for Human Trafficking Survivors and the Prince George’s County Police Department (PGPD) have received a joint three-year grant totaling more than $1.3 million from the U.S. Department of Justice Office for Victims of Crime and Bureau of Justice Assistance to coordinate work to fight human trafficking in Prince George’s County, Md. 

Photo of SAFE CENTER logo“The human toll of trafficking has terrorized families and victims across Maryland for years. Fully addressing and combatting human trafficking requires an all-hands-on-deck approach,” said Maryland Sen. Chris Van Hollen, a member of the Appropriations and Budget Committees. “This grant will allow the SAFE Center and the Prince George’s County Police Department to continue their crucial partnership battling this crisis. I’m glad to see national recognition of the outstanding work this team accomplishes, and I will continue to support funding to back anti-human trafficking initiatives at all levels across Maryland and the country.”

Prince George’s is one of only two counties in the country to receive the grant, which was created to enhance collaboration between service providers and law enforcement within human trafficking task forces. The Prince George’s County Human Trafficking Task Force (PGCHTTF) brings together law enforcement, social services, government agencies, and community organizations to combat human trafficking.

“Human trafficking is unacceptable in this county or anywhere and it will never cease until we commit ourselves to thwarting this horrible mistreatment of innocent people,” said Prince George’s County Executive Rushern L. Baker, III. “Since taking office, my administration has taken this issue head on through the great work of our Human Relations Commission, Prince George’s County Police Department, State Attorney’s Office and other agencies, that are combatting human trafficking.  In addition, we created the Prince George’s County Human Trafficking Task Force to bring together various partners committed to putting an end to this unthinkable treatment of people.  This grant will go a long way in assisting our efforts to eliminate human trafficking throughout this county, state, and region.  I want to thank the Department of Justice, our Congressional delegation and the University of Maryland for their partnership and fiscal support of our efforts to eradicate these inhumane acts from our communities.”

"This grant will enable the SAFE Center and our partners to provide the full range of services human trafficking victims so desperately need to rebuild their lives. It will also help get traffickers off the streets so they cannot continue to rob our community’s most vulnerable members of their freedom and dignity,” said Ambassador Susan Esserman, JD, SAFE Center founder and director.  She is a visiting faculty member in the University of Maryland School of Social Work, the University of Maryland Francis King Carey School of Law and the University of Maryland School of Public Policy.

The grant award is evidence of the commitment and resolve of organizations and agencies combating human trafficking in Prince George’s County, as well as the significant work of the PGCHTTF. It will amplify the task force’s multidisciplinary collaboration and coordinated approach to identify victims of all forms of trafficking; address the individualized needs of victims; and investigate and prosecute sex and labor trafficking cases at the local, state, and federal levels. 

In addition to lead service grantee SAFE Center, direct service collaborators include FAIR Girls, Amara Legal Center, and other members of the PGCHTTF that provide services to trafficking survivors. 

Law enforcement grantee PGPD is joined by law enforcement partners including the Prince George’s County State’s Attorney’s Office, the Department of Homeland Security, Homeland Security Investigations, and the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the District of Maryland. 

Prince George’s County Police Chief Hank Stawinski III said he was “proud that the Department of Justice and the Bureau of Justice Assistance have acknowledged the progressive and effective police work being done collaboratively in Prince George's County and I look forward to advancing that work with these much appreciated funds.”

Added Prince George’s County State’s Attorney Angela Alsobrooks, “Human trafficking is a crime that is negatively impacting so many and tearing families apart. This grant will enhance our joint efforts to arrest and prosecute those who prey on innocent young women and children, while also helping us to better serve the needs of our victims.”

“Receiving this grant is a testament to the efforts of County employees and volunteers on the Task Force who have worked long and hard since 2013 to restore victims, educate the public and to show traffickers that we are dead serious about combatting human trafficking in all its forms.” said Michael Lyles, PGCHTTF chairman.

The University of Maryland SAFE Center for Human Trafficking Survivors is the first university-based comprehensive direct services, research, and advocacy center on human trafficking. Its mission is to provide survivor-centered and trauma-informed services that empower human trafficking survivors to heal and reclaim their lives, and to help prevent trafficking and better serve survivors through research and policy advocacy. The SAFE Center plays a leadership role in the PGCHTTF and the community. Through in-house services and collaborative partnerships, the SAFE Center provides comprehensive legal, case management, mental health, primary medical, and economic empowerment services to U.S. and foreign-born adult and child survivors of sex and labor trafficking. 

An initiative of the University of Maryland, College Park (UMCP) and University of Maryland, Baltimore (UMB) through its formal partnership for innovation, University of Maryland Strategic Partnership: MPowering the State, the SAFE Center draws on the wide range of disciplines of both universities to address human trafficking. 

UMD Researchers Develop Stable, Robust Li-ion Battery Chemistry

October 23, 2017

Katie Holland Doyle301-405-0379

COLLEGE PARK, Md.-- Researchers at the University of Maryland (UMD) have partnered with the John Hopkins Applied Physics Laboratory (APL) and the Army Research Lab to develop an enhanced Li-ion battery that is able to maintain its mechanical integrity under adverse conditions including bending, cutting and liquid submersion. This work is a follow-up to past UMD/ARL collaborations focusing on salt-water-based battery chemistry. Earlier this year, the team revealed the creation of a 4.0-volt aqueous Li-ion battery, based on a water-in-salt concept, capable of powering household electronics. The research was published in Joule this past September.

Photo of Li-on BatteryLithium-ion (Li-ion) batteries power the lives of millions of people every day via mobile phones, laptop computers, iPods and hybrid automobiles. Although reported to be volatile, this battery chemistry remains popular due to its high energy density, quick recharge rate and ease of transport.  

“UMD and ARL have explored several anode and cathode combinations that can be used within the stability window of our electrolyte,” said Chunsheng Wang, a professor in the UMD Department of Chemical and Biomolecular Engineering. “By collaborating with UMD & ARL, we are starting to transition this technology into novel battery architectures and demonstrate its practical true potential,” said Kostas Gerasopoulos, senior research scientist and principal investigator at APL.

In their most recent work, “Flexible Aqueous Li-ion Battery with High Energy and Power Densities,” the team inserted a salt water electrolyte in polyvinyl alcohol (PVA) solution to create a gel polymer electrolyte (GPE). This GPE was then combined with a material called lithium vanadium fluorophosphates, or LiVPO4F, which was utilized as both the anode and cathode, to create an incredibly stable and flexible battery. Over the last few years, LiVPO4F has frequently been used as the cathode in an organic electrolyte Li-ion, but this is the first time it’s been used in aqueous electrolyte symmetrical batteries. 

“What makes LiVPO4F attractive for us is that it can be used as both anode and cathode within the stability window of the water-in-salt GPE, or alternatively, it can be matched with other high-voltage cathodes to achieve high energy density,” said Chongyin Yang, a UMD ChBE assistant research scientist and first author of the paper.

Photo of Li-ion

The most amazing attribute of this newfound technology is its robustness. “The cell can withstand cutting and continue to operate in an open cell condition without malfunction,” said Kang Xu, electrochemistry team leader and fellow at ARL. “To the best of our knowledge, this feature has not been previously reported for battery chemistries,” the team stated in their report. “The stability of the water-in-salt electrolyte in the air was also confirmed by monitoring the weight retention of water-in-salt GPE when exposing the electrolyte to air at room temperature for 20 days.” 

This research was published in Advance Materials. To view a video demonstration of the battery, click here.

University of Maryland School of Public Policy Wins Inaugural Voinovich Public Innovation Challenge

October 20, 2017

 Kaitlin Ahmad, 301-405-6360

COLLEGE PARK, Md.-- The University of Maryland School of Public Policy won the inaugural Voinovich Public Innovation Challenge at the Network of Schools of Public Policy, Affairs and Administration (NASPAA) Annual Conference on October 13 for Maryland’s Do Good Campus. The pitch competition, established to honor the memory of Senator George V. Voinovich, encourages champions of creative problem-solving approaches to social innovation in education. The award is sponsored by NASPAA, an international association of nearly 300 universities with schools and programs in public policy and public affairs, and Ohio University’s Voinovich School of Leadership and Public Affairs. 

The University of Maryland School of Public Policy, NYU Robert F. Wagner Graduate School of Public Service and the LBJ School of Public Affairs University of Texas Austin were selected as the three finalists for the award prior to the conference. Presenting the Do Good Campus on behalf of the School at the final pitch competition, was Robert T. Grimm Jr, director of the Do Good Institute and the Levenson Family Chair in Philanthropy and Nonprofit Leadership in the School.  

University of Maryland’s Do Good Campus is a new, scalable model for higher education that is driven by the School’s Do Good Institute, and its results. Launched in 2016, the Do Good Campus builds on initial efforts, including an annual campus-wide Do Good Challenge which has produced a number of powerful and impactful social ventures and projects working to address issues, such as hunger, poverty and health disparity. Two past Challenge alums have been named to the Forbes’s list of Top 30 Social Entrepreneurs Under 30. The Do Good Campus approach busts down traditional academic silos and makes social impact education a core element of all students’ experiences from orientation to graduation. 

Grimm said, “What makes our approach innovative is it harnessing the power of a campus and working across every school – from engineering to the arts and humanities for example – to create opportunities for student engagement and impact. This model creates an on-ramp that can lead students from any major through a process of experiencing, learning and developing skills to innovatively create efforts that produce transformational results.”

Finalists were given 10 minutes to pitch their idea and then answered questions from the panel of judges who are experts in social innovation, nonprofit management and public sector value creation. Following the pitches, the judges unanimously selected UMD School of Public Policy and its Do Good Institute as the winner of the competition for its Do Good Campus model. 

The first annual Senator George Voinovich Public Innovation Challenge was open to all NASPAA-affiliated student groups, faculty and administrators across the United States and in 14 countries around the globe.  

60th Anniversary of Royal Visit to University of Maryland

October 18, 2017

Jennifer Burroughs, 301-405-4621

COLLEGE PARK, Md. -- This Thursday marks the 60th anniversary of Her Royal Highness The Queen of England’s visit to the University of Maryland and her first experience at an American college football game. 

The Queen of England at UMD

While on a tour of the United States and Canada in 1957, HRH Queen Elizabeth II and Prince Phillip, Duke of Edinburgh sat among students and fans to watch UMD compete against the University of North Carolina at the football stadium, now known as the Capital One Field at Maryland Stadium. 

A brief recap found in the 1958 Terrapin Yearbook describes the event: 

“A ‘Royal’ atmosphere produced a royal game today as the spirited Terps struck for three second half touchdowns to defeat Jim Tatum and the favored North Carolina Tar Heels 21-7. Queen Elizabeth and Prince Phillip, Duke of Edinburgh, were among the 45,000 fans who packed Byrd Stadium to see the Terps score an upset.”

Additional media resources from The Queen of England’s visit to the University of Maryland can be found here: go.umd.edu/paq 


University of Maryland to Celebrate Homecoming 2017 Week of October 22

October 18, 2017

Natifia Mullings, 301-405-4076

COLLEGE PARK, Md.-- The University of Maryland will welcome thousands of students, alumni, families and friends to campus to celebrate Homecoming 2017. Held from October 22-29, Homecoming week offers a wide variety of events and activities to bring together the UMD community and features several longstanding university traditions. 

Highlights for this year’s Homecoming include: 

  • Homecoming Football Game
    Saturday, October 28, 3:30 p.m. at Capital One Field at Maryland Stadium
    The University of Maryland football team celerbates its 125th season with a homecoming matchup against Indiana University.

  • Terp Carnival 
    Friday, October 27 from 4 to 8 p.m. at McKeldin Mall
    UMD’s iconic McKeldin Mall is transformed into a carnival with food, inflatables, games and prizes and a fireworks show. 

  • Homecoming Comedy Show 
    Thursday, October 26, 8 and 10:30 p.m. at Ritchie Coliseum
    Two (already sold-out) comedy shows will feature Hasan Minhaj, “Daily Show” senior correspondent and host of the 2017 White House Correspondents’ Dinner. 

  • Homecoming Service Project 
    Sunday, October 22, 2017 from 9 a.m. to 9 p.m. at Ritchie Stadium
    UMD student organization Terps Against Hunger, in partnership with the Department of Fraternity and Sorority Life and other student groups, will host its fourth annual UMD Homecoming Community Service Event, where volunteers will help package 300,000 meals for local families in need. To register, click here

For a full list of Homecoming 2017 events and activities, click here






UMD Solar Decathlon Team Takes 1st Place in the U.S., 2nd Place in the World

October 18, 2017

Melissa Andreychek301-405-0292
Chris Cestello Hinojosa,  301-405-6286 

DENVER, Co.-- The University of Maryland’s entry into a competition sponsored by the U.S. Department of Energy that challenges collegiate teams from around the world to design and build energy-efficient, solar-powered houses took second place overall and was the top design from the United States. UMD’s entry, resilient Adaptive Climate Technology (reACT), seeks to improve sustainability in four ways and includes a hydroponic garden, “living walls” within its courtyard, modular living elements, predictive automation, and design elements that simplify future upgrades to the house. Designed by an interdisciplinary team of students, the prototype house beat 10 collegiate teams from around the globe. UMD has placed in the top two each time it has competed in this international competition in the last 10 years (2007, 2011, 2017), with a first place win for its WaterShed house in 2011. 


Photo of reACT team

The two-year process—which spans from concept drawings to the construction of a physical house—culminates in a 10-contest competition lasting nine days, this year in Denver. Competitions included evaluations of each home’s performance, design, sustainability, and market appeal. This is the first year that teams are eligible for cash prizes; UMD will bring home $225,000. 


“This prestigious competition engages students from across the country and internationally to develop the skills and knowledge to become the next generation of energy experts,” said Linda Silverman, director of the Solar Decathlon. 


reACT intertwines Indigenous knowledge systems with western scientific thinking to create a structure that represents both thought processes. Team Maryland worked closely with the Nanticoke Indian Tribe, who, for millennia, have harvested the resources of the Delmarva Peninsula while minimizing waste and impact. With the goal of creating a space for First Americans to be self-sustaining and revive their traditional ways, reACT incorporates modern advances to provide the best atmosphere for growth. 


“From the crops grown to the herbs and spices used as medicines in the hydroponics system, this will allow natives to live away from their traditional lands and still be able to utilize the knowledge passed down from generation to generation. To be able to utilize every drop of water collected and not waste this sacred resource is a huge plus for our people,” says Kyle Harmon, Nanticoke Councilman and reACT mentor. “Awareness to our footprints we leave on this Earth helps us ensure that we leave this place better off for our children and the next generation of people to inhabit Turtle Island.” 


reACT went beyond the solar-powered requirements of the Decathlon, capitalizing on the talents of UMD students to devise innovative features:

  • Modular construction: kit-of-parts allows endless design configuration in size, climate & budget.
  • A mechanical core: high-performance, interactive, environmentally sensitive automated system.
  • A GreenCourt, a marriage of a greenhouse and a courtyard, is the social heart of the house.
  • Gardens and food production: plants support each other creating food webs.
  • A solar attic uses the sun to heat water, dry clothes, and even cook food. 

UMD’s winning team includes students from the School of Architecture, Planning and Preservation, the A. James Clark School of Engineering, the College of Agriculture and Natural Resources, the College of Education, and programs in several other disciplines campus-wide.

The only Solar Decathlon entry in the D.C.-Maryland-Virginia region, reACT is the university’s fifth entry in the history of the Solar Decathlon competition. reACT will return to UMD where it will continue to be used as a research and education center, showcasing projects with regional industry and professional stakeholders.




Photo of reACT Photo of reACT  











University of Maryland Statement on Hate Indictment in Stabbing Death of Second Lt Richard Collins III - October 17, 2017

October 17, 2017

Katie Lawson, 301-405-4622

The Collins family remains in our thoughts, following their tragic loss last May. This is especially true today as the prosecution of this senseless crime moves through the criminal justice system.

UMD Researchers Contribute to First-ever Direct Observation of Neutron Star Merger

October 17, 2017

Matthew E. Wright, 301-405-9267

COLLEGE PARK, Md.-- On August 17, 2017, scientists made the first direct observation of a merger between two neutron stars—the dense, collapsed cores that remain after large stars die in a supernova explosion. The merger is the first cosmological event observed in both gravitational waves—ripples in the fabric of spacetime—and the entire spectrum of light, from gamma rays to radio waves. 

University of Maryland researchers from the Department of Physics and the Department of AstronomyPhoto of neutron star merger played key roles in detecting both the gravitational and light signals of the historic event, and co-authored several research papers published on October 16, 2017.

Gravitational waves from the merger arrived first at the twin Laser Interferometer Gravitational-wave Observatory (LIGO) detectors, located in Hanford, Washington, and Livingston, Louisiana, and the newly operational Virgo detector, located near Pisa, Italy. Less than two seconds later, the Gamma-ray Burst Monitor on NASA’s Fermi Gamma-ray Space Telescope detected a short burst of gamma rays.

A rapid analysis of these signals enabled the LIGO and Virgo teams to locate the signal in a region covering less than 0.1 percent of the total sky area as viewed from Earth. Astronomers around the globe then directed more than 70 space- and ground-based telescopes toward the event for follow-up observations.

For a full account of the observations, click here.  


UMD Athletic Director Kevin Anderson Announces Sabbatical, Damon Evans to Assume AD Duties

October 16, 2017

Katie Lawson, 301-405-4622

COLLEGE PARK, Md.-- Today, University of Maryland Athletic Director Kevin Anderson announced that he is taking a six-month professional development sabbatical. Damon Evans, the Executive Director, Chief Financial Officer and Chief Operating Officer of Athletics, will fulfill Anderson’s duties during the sabbatical.

Damon Evans joined the university in 2014. Since that time, he has overseen the day-to-day operations of the department, its finances and compliance functions along with other key areas. Evans will assume all of the leadership functions of UMD Athletics and report directly to President Wallace D. Loh.

The text of Anderson’s announcement is included below:


DATE: 10/16/17

FROM:          Kevin Anderson
TO:               Athletics senior staff and head coaches
SUBJECT:    Professional development sabbatical

Dear Colleagues,

During the past several weeks, I have received a tremendous response from across the nation to the Washington Post article that highlighted my work with our student-athletes through “Kicking it with Kevin.” This experience has led me to consider where I want to focus my energies at this point in my career.

To this end, the University of Maryland has granted me the opportunity to remain in my position of Athletic Director while I take a six-month professional development sabbatical to engage in various projects focusing on leadership development, including work with a broad coalition of groups focused on issues of equity, student athlete activism and inclusion in college athletics and working with the NACDA / John McLendon Minority Scholarship Foundation.

I will also continue my personal participation on certain NACDA and NCAA Committees. While on sabbatical, the regular duties of running the department will be performed by an administrator to be selected by President Loh.

Please share this news with staff members in your areas.   


Kevin Anderson
Athletic Director

UMD Receives $8 Million to Combat Hearing Loss in Older Americans

October 16, 2017

Sara Gavin, 301-405-1733

COLLEGE PARK, Md.—The National Institute on Aging awarded more than $8 million to the University of Maryland to develop an innovative approach for addressing hearing loss and communication challenges that affect millions of older Americans. The five-year, multidisciplinary research project will combine expertise from the College of Behavioral and Social Sciences, the A. James Clark School of Engineering, the College of Computer, Mathematical, and Natural Sciences and the Center for Advanced Study of Language

Photo of elderly man with cochlear implant“Cross-disciplinary collaboration, by its nature, allows researchers to develop creative solutions to the multifaceted grand challenges facing society today,” said UMD Vice President for Research Laurie E. Locascio. “The results of this research have the potential to positively affect the lives of so many people, and exemplifies the University of Maryland’s mission to perform rigorous scientific research with transformative impact.”

The overarching goal of the research will be to examine processes at the neural level that cause auditory and speech perception difficulties with aging, and to determine whether the brain can be effectively “rewired” through auditory and cognitive training to overcome these hearing and speech obstacles. To achieve this aim, the UMD research team will focus on three distinct projects:

  • Project 1 will examine whether neurons in the auditory cortex of the brain can be reorganized through specific training exercises.
  • Project 2 will assess the effectiveness of focused strategies in helping people process acoustic signals, including rapid speech—a common obstacle for senior citizens.
  • Project 3 will combine cutting-edge neuroimaging techniques—such as magnetoencephalography (MEG) and pupilometry—to measure the brain’s ability to form new neural connections following auditory and behavioral training.

“There are many training programs designed to help people deal with hearing loss as they get older,” said Professor Sandra Gordon-Salant from the Department of Hearing and Speech Sciences, who will serve as the overall project’s lead investigator. “What we don’t know is how well these training programs work and if they result in a true rewiring of the brain. We’re thrilled to have compiled this dynamite team that will help provide answers to these important questions.”

According to a recent publication by the National Academies of Science, Engineering and Medicine, nearly half of all Americans 65-years-old and above struggle with age-related hearing loss. That percentage climbs to 63 percent for people older than 70. Combined with data from the U.S. Census Bureau, that means roughly 25 million older Americans are currently dealing with hearing loss—a number likely to increase to 35 million by the year 2030. The biggest communication complaint of those with age-related hearing loss is difficulty understanding speech in challenging situations, which often leads to isolation and depression.

“We think that as the population ages, they’re going to be more demanding about solutions to their problems,” Gordon-Salant said. “Hearing aids are beneficial but they can’t do it all. There is a tremendous need for effective training programs and this research has the potential to transform the nature of rehabilitative services for millions of older people with communication problems.”

Gordon-Salant will be joined on the UMD research team by:

  • Shihab Shamma, Department of Electrical & Computer Engineering and Institute for Systems Research
  • Patrick Kanold, Department of Biology and Institute for Systems Research
  • Jonathan Fritz, Institute for Systems Research
  • Matthew Goupell, Department of Hearing & Speech Sciences
  • Samira Anderson, Department of Hearing & Speech Sciences
  • Jonathan Simon, Department of Electrical & Computer Engineering, Department of Biology, and Institute for Systems Research
  • Stefanie Kuchinsky, Center for Advanced Study of Language
  • Didier Depireux, Institute for Systems Research
  • Edward Smith, Department of Psychology


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