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University of Maryland Strategic Partnership Announces Prestigious MPower Professorships

Six professors from University of Maryland, Baltimore & University of Maryland, College Park awarded $150,000 each over three years to fund groundbreaking research projects


Sara Gavin

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The University of Maryland Strategic Partnership: MPowering the State (MPower) announces the appointment of six professors, three from the University of Maryland, Baltimore (UMB) and three from the University of Maryland, College Park (UMCP), as MPower Professors. The MPower Professorship recognizes, incentivizes, and fosters collaborations between faculty who are working together on the most pressing issues of our time.

To be considered for the MPower Professorship, faculty must demonstrate collaboration on strategic research that would be unattainable or difficult to achieve by UMB or UMCP acting independent of one another and must embrace the mission of MPower — to collaboratively strengthen and serve the state of Maryland and its citizens.

Each professor will receive $150,000, allocated over three years, to apply to their salary or to support supplemental research activities. These funds recognize, enable, and support strong collaborations between faculty in the joint research enterprise between UMCP and UMB.

“The MPower Professors have shown incredible dedication and commitment to collaboration, innovation, and discovery. Their work to solve major challenges and positively impact the lives of others is bolstered by this investment,” said UMB President Bruce E. Jarrell, MD, FACS.

“The six professors selected for this honor are each working across disciplines to address the most complex challenges facing society today, bridging research and scholarship between institutions to foster innovation that will impact citizens in Maryland, across the country and around the world,” said UMCP President Darryll J. Pines.

The 2022 MPower Professors are utilizing the latest advancements in computer science, machine learning and augmented reality to revolutionize medical care, linguistics and neuroscience; developing enhanced understanding and treatment for cancers, fungal infections, and a range of diseases; investigating cutting-edge approaches and new materials to regenerate human tissue; and examining the relationship between agriculture, energy and water to create a safer and sustainable global food supply.

The 2022 MPower Professors are:

John P. Fisher, PhD, is the Fischell Family Distinguished Professor, Distinguished Scholar-Teacher, and Chair of the Fischell Department of Bioengineering in the A. James Clark School of Engineering at UMCP. Dr. Fisher is also the Director of the National Institute of Biomedical Imaging and Bioengineering/ NIH Center for Engineering Complex Tissue that aims to create a broad community focusing on 3D printing and bioprinting for regenerative medicine applications. As the Director of the Tissue Engineering and Biomaterials Laboratory, Dr. Fisher’s group investigates biomaterials, stem cells, bioprinting, and bioreactors for the regeneration of lost tissues, particularly orthopedic and soft tissues. Dr. Fisher received his PhD in bioengineering from Rice University, MS in chemical engineering from the University of Cincinnati, and BS in chemical engineering and biomedical engineering from the Johns Hopkins University. Dr. Fisher completed a postdoctoral fellowship at the University of California Davis Medical Center in orthopedic surgery.

Mary Ann Jabra-Rizk, PhD, is a Professor in the Department of Oncology and Diagnostic Sciences at the University of Maryland School of Dentistry. She is also an adjunct professor in the Department of Microbiology and Immunology at the University of Maryland School of Medicine. She has a broad background in investigating the virulence factors in the opportunistic fungal pathogen Candida albicans, and the host and pathogen factors that play a role in the transition between colonization and infection. Her lab has several ongoing projects pursuing different aspects of the Candida pathogenesis, including biofilm formation, drug resistance, and fungal-bacterial interactions in biofilm. Dr. Jabra-Rizk received her PhD in microbiology and immunology from UMB. Earlier she earned a BS degree in medical technology, also from UMB, and a BS degree in medical laboratory medicine from the American University of Beirut.

Sarah B. Murthi, MD, FACS, is a Professor of Surgery, in the University of Maryland School of Medicine, and an attending physician at the R Adams Cowley Shock Trauma Center, and Director of the Critical Care Ultrasound Program . She is Director of the new Center for Medical Innovations in Extended Reality known as MIXR, located at UMB. The Center is developing virtual reality, augmented reality, and other immersive media technologies for use in clinical trials and eventually, for widespread use in medical care. Dr. Murthi’s research includes implementing innovative extended reality medical displays that could improve bedside procedures. She helped develop and test an augmented reality prototype that overlays ultrasound, CT, and video data directly on a patient. She received her Doctor of Medicine from the University of Medicine and Dentistry of New Jersey, Robert Wood Johnson Medical School, and a bachelor’s degree in Biology from Rutgers University.

Philip S. Resnik, PhD, MS, is a Professor of Linguistics in the UMCP College of Arts & Humanities and holds a joint appointment as Professor in the University of Maryland Institute for Advanced Computer Studies (UMIACS). He is also an affiliate professor in the Department of Computer Science in UMCP’s College of Computer, Mathematical, and Natural Sciences. Resnik's research focuses on computational modeling of language that brings together linguistic knowledge, domain expertise, and machine learning methods. His current work emphasizes applications in computational social science and scientific research questions in computational cognitive neuroscience. Dr. Resnik holds two patents and has authored or co-authored more than 100 peer-reviewed articles and conference papers. In 2020, he was named a Fellow of the Association for Computational Linguistics. Dr. Resnik received his PhD and MS in Engineering in Computer and Information Science from the University of Pennsylvania; and a BA in Computer Science from Harvard University.

Amy R. Sapkota, PhD, MPH, is a Professor of Environmental Health Science, in the Maryland Institute for Applied Environmental Health at the UMCP School of Public Health. She also serves as Director of the CONSERVE Center of Excellence, and Director of the UMD Global Stewards Research Traineeship program funded by the National Science Foundation. Dr. Sapkota's research focuses on ensuring the safety of agricultural and municipal water reuse and understanding the impact of environmental microbial exposures on the human microbiome. She has published over 90 journal articles and has secured or helped to secure more than $44 million in external funds. Dr. Sapkota was a Fulbright Scholar in Nepal. She earned a Doctor of Philosophy in Environmental Health Sciences from the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health, a Master of Public Health in Environmental Health Sciences from Yale University, and a bachelor’s degree in Biology from UMCP.

David J. Weber, PhD, is a Professor in the Department of Biochemistry and Molecular Biology at the University of Maryland School of Medicine, with a joint appointment as Professor of Chemistry and Biochemistry in the UMCP College of Computer, Mathematical, and Natural Sciences. He is Co-Director of the Institute for Bioscience and Biotechnology Research, based at the Universities of Shady Grove. In addition, Dr. Weber is the Director of the Center for Biomolecular Therapeutics and Director of the Maryland Center for Advanced Molecular Analysis. His research examines the structure, function, and inhibition of potential therapeutic targets in cancer, diabetes, heart disease, and infectious disease. He had a major role in developing highly collaborative and world-class structural biology resources that integrate basic and translational science. He earned his PhD in Chemistry from the University of North Carolina and received a BA in Chemistry from Muhlenberg College.

In November 2021, eight faculty were named the inaugural cohort of MPower Professors, representing the fields of behavioral and social sciences, engineering, medicine, nursing, pharmacy, and public health. They are: Luana Colloca, MD, PhD, MS, University of Maryland School of Nursing; Rao P. Gullapalli, PhD, MBA, MS, University of Maryland School of Medicine; Christopher M. Jewell, PhD, MS, A. James Clark School of Engineering; Deanna L. Kelly, PharmD, BCPP, University of Maryland School of Medicine; Cheryl L. Knott, PhD, MA, FAAHB, University of Maryland School of Public Health; Donald K. Milton, MD, Dr PH, University of Maryland School of Public Health; Joseph Richardson, PhD, MA, University of Maryland College of Behavioral and Social Sciences; and Yihua Bruce Yu, PhD, University of Maryland School of Pharmacy.

About the University of Maryland Strategic Partnership: MPowering the State
The University of Maryland Strategic Partnership: MPowering the State is a collaboration between the state of Maryland’s two most powerful public research institutions: the University of Maryland, Baltimore (UMB) and the University of Maryland, College Park (UMCP). It leverages the sizable strengths and complementary missions of both institutions to strengthen Maryland’s innovation economy, advance interdisciplinary research, create opportunities for students, and solve important problems for the people of Maryland and the nation. Working together, UMB and UMCP achieve innovation and impact through collaboration.

The University of Maryland Strategic Partnership Act of 2016 strengthened and formalized the structured relationship between UMB and UMCP, which began in 2012. The law deepens the alliance and enables UMB and UMCP to pursue even greater transformative change and impact, far surpassing what each institution could do independent of the other.

About the University of Maryland, Baltimore

The University of Maryland, Baltimore (UMB) was founded in 1807 as the Maryland College of Medicine, which now stands as the nation’s oldest public medical school. In response to growing social and cultural needs, UMB’s mission has evolved and grown tremendously. Widely recognized as a preeminent institution, UMB serves as the academic health, law, and social work university of the University System of Maryland and is guided by a mission of excellence in education, research, clinical care, and public service.

UMB is a thriving academic health center combining cutting-edge biomedical research, exceptional patient care, and nationally ranked academic programs. With extramural funding totaling $682 million in Fiscal Year 2021, each tenured/tenure-track faculty member generates an average of $1.5 million in research grants each year. The 3,123 faculty members conduct leading-edge research and develop solutions and technologies that impact human health locally and around the world. World-class facilities and cores, as well as interprofessional centers and institutes, allow faculty to investigate pressing questions in a highly collaborative fashion. As a result, the more than 7,200 students, postdocs, and trainees directly benefit from working and learning alongside leading experts as they push the boundaries of their fields.

About the University of Maryland, College Park

The University of Maryland (UMD) is the state's flagship university and a leading public research institution, propelled by a $1.3 billion joint research enterprise. Located four miles from Washington, D.C., the university is dedicated to addressing the grand challenges of our time and is the nation's first Do Good campus. It is driven by a diverse and proudly inclusive community of more than 50,000 fearless Terrapins. UMD is a top producer of Fulbright scholars and offers an unparalleled student experience with more than 300 academic programs, 25 living-learning programs and 400 study abroad programs. Spurred by a culture of innovation and creativity, UMD faculty are global leaders in their field and include Nobel laureates, Pulitzer Prize winners and members of the national academies. For more information about the University of Maryland, visit

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