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July 1, 2010

Former UMBI Institutes Launch July 1 as Newly Aligned Research Centers at Partner USM Campuses


Mike Lurie
University System of Maryland (USM)
Phone: 301-445-2719

Anthony Lane
University of Maryland, Baltimore County (UMBC)
Phone: 410-455-5793

Adelphi, Md. (July 1, 2010) - Research centers previously aligned with the former University of Maryland Biotechnology Institute (UMBI) officially begin their realignment today with other institutions within the University System of Maryland (USM).

This restructuring, approved by the USM Board of Regents in June 2009, is expected to pave the way for more multi-disciplinary and collaborative research across the system and increase access to outside funding for research. It is also expected to yield a higher level of technology transfer, commercialization, and business start-ups, and thereby advance economic development statewide.

The action followed the recommendations of an ad hoc committee of regents appointed by Board Chairman Clifford Kendall in February 2009 to review UMBI's mission and organization as well as consider alternative organization options.

Following is a summary of the newly created centers, once based at the former UMBI.

*Institute for Bioscience Biotechnology (IBBR). The IBBR is a research collaboration among the University of Maryland, College Park (UMCP), the University of Maryland, Baltimore (UMB), and the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST). The IBBR will build upon the resources and strengths of the former Center for Advance Research in Biotechnology (CARB) at the Universities at Shady Grove (USG, one of the USM's two system-wide regional centers) and the former Center for Biosystems Research (CBR) at UMCP.

Under IBBR's inaugural director, Donald L. Nuss, Ph.D., the center will focus predominantly on three complementary research areas: nanobiotechnology, drug and vaccine discovery, and pathobiology (the study of disease processes). UMCP will have administrative responsibility for the joint research center. The center will be headquartered at USG.

* Institute of Marine and Environmental Technology (IMET). IMET is a joint USM research center at which the University of Maryland, Baltimore County (UMBC); the University of Maryland Center for Environmental Science (UMCES); and UMB will share facilities and resources. The partner institutions will collaboratively advance research and create technologies for the protection and restoration of marine systems and watersheds, sustainable use of their resources, and improvement of human health. Yoni Zohar, Ph.D., a UMBC faculty member, will serve as IMET interim director. Russell Hill, Ph.D., an UMCES faculty member, will serve as IMET interim associate director. The center will be based at the Columbus Center in downtown Baltimore at the former Center of Marine Biotechnology (COMB).

* Medical Biotechnology Center (MBC) at UMB. The MBC is affiliated with the UMB campus, home of the University of Maryland School Of Medicine. The center's research will include health-related aspects of molecular biology and biotechnology, molecular medicine, and molecular genetics. In addition, research here will be enhanced by collaboration with the bioengineering and computational faculty at UMCP. W. Jonathan Lederer, M.D., Ph.D., a professor in the School of Medicine, will serve as interim director. The center will be based at the UMB campus.

* Institute of Fluorescence (IOF). UMBC will have administrative responsibility for this former UMBI institute. Research is centered on the development of new leading-edge and existing fluorescence phenomena to resolve clinically, biologically and industrially important questions, such as technologies to facilitate early and rapid detection of bio-warfare agents. The institute will be based at the Columbus Center in downtown Baltimore. Chris D. Geddes, Ph.D., will serve as director.

* Towson University Center for STEM Excellence. The center's main goal is to provide statewide leadership in supporting the USM's STEM (science, technology, engineering, mathematics) initiatives. This center will integrate Towson University's STEM education programs to establish the Baltimore Excellence in STEM Teaching (BEST) program. It will be based at the Columbus Center in downtown Baltimore.

"With a focus on collaboration--across disciplines and across institutions--and with recognition of the exceptional talent within the UMBI community and the system's other institutions, this action positions USM to take fuller advantage of its system-wide strengths in the biosciences and to fuel the state's knowledge economy even more," said Kendall, the board chair.

A subcommittee of regents in 2009 reviewed UMBI's history and structure. It also solicited the views of individuals and groups, including UMBI administrators, faculty, staff, and graduate students; members of the UMBI Board of Visitors; external scientists and administrators from higher education and government; and representatives from business and economic development organizations.

As a result of its comprehensive review, the committee found that "the organization of UMBI as a geographically dispersed, free-standing entity has created intractable problems." These included the lack of scale of UMBI programs, isolation among UMBI's research centers, lack of a critical mass of graduate and undergraduate students involved in UMBI research, and administrative inefficiencies.

The board directed the USM office to complete the restructuring by June 30, 2010, the end of the 2010 fiscal year. The regents charged USM Chancellor William "Brit" Kirwan to work with the UMBI center directors and the appropriate institutional presidents on memoranda of understanding (MOUs) outlining details of the future operations and collaborations. The chancellor presented the MOUs to the board as they were negotiated during the fiscal year. The first approval occurred in October 2009 and all MOUs were approved by February 2010.

"The launch of these realigned centers provides a tremendous opportunity for the University System of Maryland to increase the volume and impact of its basic and applied research in the biosciences," Kirwan said. "This restructuring has the potential to double the research productivity of UMBI's current assets within five years. Once these assets are joined with activities system-wide, USM will play an even greater role in positioning the State of Maryland as a national and international leader in the biosciences."

Posted by elewis

June 15, 2010

UMBC Computer Science Graduate Selected to Head Johns Hopkins Applied Physics Laboratory

Anthony Lane
Communications Manager
(410) 455-5793

Ralph Semmel, who completed his doctorate in computer science at the University of Maryland, Baltimore County (UMBC) in 1992, has been selected to become the next director of the Johns Hopkins University Applied Physics Lab (APL).

APL, located in Laurel, Md., has close to 5,000 employees conducting and supporting research related to national defense and security.

Semmel, who finished his degree in 1992, focused his dissertation research at UMBC on the problem of how to get information from a database without knowing beforehand how the database is structured.

“He was an extraordinary student,” said James Mayfield, who was Semmel’s thesis advisor at UMBC. “He was not only academically rigorous, but he also accomplished a lot.”

Mayfield, who now works at Hopkins’ Human Language Technology Center of Excellence, said he’s also been impressed with the leadership skills Semmel has shown during his 23-year career with APL.

Semmel will begin his new position July 1, replacing Richard Roca to become the eighth director of APL in the laboratory’s 68-year history.

UMBC President Freeman Hrabowski praised Semmel’s accomplishments.

“We are extremely proud of Ralph Semmel and the leadership role he is taking at one of our nation’s foremost research centers.”

Semmel is a graduate of the U.S. Military Academy at West Point, and he completed master’s degrees at Hopkins and the University of Southern California.

Posted by elewis

May 27, 2010

UMBC President Freeman Hrabowski Receives Honorary Degree from Harvard

Honor Recognizes Impact of Leadership at UMBC and Beyond

Chelsea Haddaway, UMBC
(410) 455-6380

May 27, 2010 – UMBC President Freeman A. Hrabowski, III, is among 10 national and world leaders recognized with honorary degrees at Harvard University’s Commencement exercises in Cambridge, Massachusetts today.

Hrabowski, who has served as UMBC’s president since 1992, received an honorary Doctor of Laws degree from Harvard in recognition of his inspirational leadership of UMBC’s rise as a new model for American higher education and a premier training ground for the next generation of researchers and scholars. Harvard President Drew Gilpin Faust hailed Hrabowski as “a galvanic force in his university’s ascent.”

Among the other honorands at Harvard this year are retired U.S. Supreme Court Justice David H. Souter, former Howard Hughes Medical Institute President Thomas Cech and actress Meryl Streep.

“The respect our colleagues at Harvard have for UMBC as a research university is clear,” Hrabowski said. “This honor reflects on the work of a campus community that celebrates the life of the mind and believes that students from all backgrounds will excel when expected to do so and when given support.” UMBC consistently sends its graduates on to graduate and professional programs and post-doctoral fellowships at Harvard in fields ranging from medicine and science to law and public policy.

Hrabowski’s research and publications focus on science and math education, with special emphasis on minority participation and performance. He currently chairs the National Academies’ Committee on Underrepresented Groups and the Science & Engineering Workforce Pipeline.

He has authored numerous articles and co-authored two books, “Beating the Odds” and “Overcoming the Odds” (Oxford University Press), focusing on parenting and high-achieving African American males and females in science. Both books are used by universities, school systems and community groups around the country.

In 2008, Hrabowski was named one of “America’s Best Leaders” by U.S. News & World Report, which in 2009 ranked UMBC the #1 “Up and Coming” university in the nation and fourth among all colleges and universities in the nation for commitment to undergraduate teaching. In 2009, Time Magazine named him one of “America’s 10 Best College Presidents.”

He serves as a consultant to the National Science Foundation, the National Institutes of Health and the National Academies. He also serves on the boards of the Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Teaching, Alfred P. Sloan Foundation, France-Merrick Foundation, Marguerite Casey Foundation (Chair) and The Urban Institute.

Hrabowski also holds honorary degrees from more than a dozen institutions, including Princeton, Duke, Haverford College, the University of Michigan and Georgetown University.

Click here to see the presentation of the honorary degree.

Posted by brhuber

April 21, 2010

UMBC Included in "Guide to 286 Green Colleges" by Princeton Review and U.S. Green Building Council

B. Rose Huber, UMBC
(410) 455-8117 ,

Leah Pennino, The Princeton Review
(508) 663-5133


Free Guidebook Profiles the Nation’s Most Environmentally-Responsible Colleges & Universities

BALTIMORE, MARYLAND, APRIL 21, 2010 – UMBC is one of the country’s most environmentally-responsible colleges according to The Princeton Review. The nationally known education services company selected UMBC for inclusion in a unique resource it has created for college applicants - “The Princeton Review's Guide to 286 Green Colleges.”

Developed by The Princeton Review in partnership with the U.S. Green Building Council, the “Guide to 286 Green Colleges” is the first, free comprehensive guidebook focused solely on institutions of higher education who have demonstrated an above average commitment to sustainability in terms of campus infrastructure, activities and initiatives.

The Princeton Review's Guide to 286 Green Colleges” looks at an institution’s commitment to building certification using USGBC’s LEED green building certification program; environmental literacy programs; formal sustainability committees; use of renewable energy resources; recycling and conservation programs, and much more.

“One of the key reasons UMBC has been successful in our efforts to be a sustainable campus and to begin to significantly reduce our impact on global climate is that so many students, faculty and staff have come together to work as partners in this effort,” said Lynne Schaefer, vice president of administration and finance. “Our students, faculty and staff are all passionately engaged, serving as wonderful role models for living a more sustainable life.”

Since UMBC President Freeman Hrabowski signed the American College and University Presidents Climate Commitment in 2007, UMBC has worked toward supporting green efforts in campus in a multitude of ways through the Climate Change Task Force. The group is comprised of students, faculty and staff engaged in encouraging sustainability on campus through academics and other initiatives.

The Department of Geography and Environmental Systems offers academic programs in environmental studies and environmental science including master’s and Ph.D. programs focusing on environmental systems, human geography and remote sensing technology. The campus is also the field headquarters for the Baltimore Ecosystem Study, a federally funded urban ecology project. It hosts the Center for Urban Environmental Research and Education, the U.S. Geological Survey’s regional water science center and two NASA centers that research Earth systems and monitor the Earth’s surface and atmosphere.

Other departments that have sustainability-related majors and courses include biochemistry and molecular chemistry, biological sciences, biotechnology, civil engineering, economics, geographic information systems, human context of science and technology, interdisciplinary studies, marine-estarine environmental science, philosophy, physics and public policy.

UMBC regularly participates in green activities including the annual Ecofest, Recyclemania and the National Teach-in (in 2009). Through engagement with Students for Environmental Awareness, these events have been well attended.

“Students and their parents are becoming more and more interested in learning about and attending colleges and universities that practice, teach and support environmental responsibility,” said Robert Franek, senior vice president and publisher, The Princeton Review. “According to our recent College Hope & Worries Survey, 64 percent of college applicants and their parents said having information about a school’s commitment to the environment would impact their decision to apply to or attend it. We created this guide to help them evaluate how institutions like UMBC focus on environmental responsibility so that they can make informed decisions as they move through the college assessment and application process.”

UMBC joins the ranks of outstanding universities and colleges nationwide that are leading the “green” movement through their own special programs and initiatives.

The free Guide can be downloaded at and

How the Schools Were Chosen

The Princeton Review chose the 286 schools included in the Guide based on the “Green Rating” scores the schools received in summer 2009 when The Princeton Review published Green Rating scores for 697 schools in its online college profiles and/or annual college guidebooks. The Princeton Review's “Green Rating” is a numerical score from 60 – 99 that’s based on several data points. In 2008, The Princeton Review began collaborating with USGBC to help make the Green Rating survey questions as comprehensive and inclusive as possible. Of 697 schools that The Princeton Review gave “Green Ratings” to in 2009, the 286 schools in the Guide received scores in the 80th or higher percentile. The Princeton Review does not rank the schools in this book hierarchically (1 to 286) or in any of its books based on their “Green Rating” scores.


Posted by brhuber

March 25, 2010

Chile Earthquake Fact-Finding Mission Finds Building Codes Saved Tens of Thousands of Lives

BALTIMORE -– A fact-finding mission sent to Chile in the aftermath of the most powerful earthquake in recent history determined that Chile’s adoption of California earthquake building codes in the early 1960s likely prevented the deaths of tens of thousands of people but did not prevent the failure of communications in the nation’s healthcare system.

A research team including Rick Bissell, director of the Center for Emergency Education and Disaster Research at UMBC, toured earthquake damaged Chile March 13 to 21 under a “rapid reconnaissance” grant from the National Science Foundation to investigate the effects of earthquake building damage on health care delivery systems. The group was part of a larger team from the Earthquake Engineering Research Institute and included experts from Johns Hopkins University, FEMA, the Chilean Ministry of Health and the Pontificia Universidad Católica in Chile.

The team found that one of the greatest obstacles to uninterrupted healthcare delivery in the aftermath of the earthquake was the complete failure of Chile’s communications system. The nation’s highly-centralized national hospital and public health system had no way to communicate other than through ambulance VHS radio relays established by emergency responders.

“It was very critical to investigate not only why Chile’s buildings held up so much better than in Haiti and many other places, but also to see how the delivery of healthcare and operation of hospitals held up in the immediate aftermath of the earthquake,” Bissell said.

The most important factor was Chile’s adoption of, with California and Japan, earthquake building codes first developed in the 1960s, and regularly upgraded since. Chile, Japan and California are among the most active earthquake areas along the Pacific Ocean basin known as the “Pacific Ring of Fire” for its volcanic and seismic activity.

Although Chile’s earthquake damage was catastrophic, destroying many roads, bridges and the homes of 800,000 people, there were fewer than 500 deaths and 500 injuries thanks to strict building codes and the fortuitous early morning timing of the earthquake, Bissell said.

The team found that no hospital in Chile suffered complete structural failure. The government of Chile reports that of 79 affected hospitals, 54 suffered minor damage, eight suffered major damage and 17 will require a complete rebuild. All affected hospitals lost power, water and communications.

Among the team’s other findings was that Chilean hospitals -- cut off from communications with their superiors -- saved lives without using patient transfer protocols typical of emergency plans for U.S. hospitals that have been damaged. Instead of closing the hospitals and transferring all patients out, all stable patients were discharged, and remaining patients and earthquake victims were moved to undamaged parts of the hospital.

“The U.S. model is to completely evacuate a hospital if it is damaged in an earthquake. But in a major earthquake such as this, thousands of square miles could be impacted, and we need to reconsider our policy of mass patient transfer, and take a stronger look at moving patients to undamaged portions of their hospital, and making room by discharging patients who are stable enough to complete their recovery process at home.” Bissell said.



UMBC's Center for Emergency Education and Disaster Research (CEEDR) provides consulting, training, assessment, and planning services for public safety and emergency management agencies, public health agencies, and private sector organizations.

Posted by kavan

December 14, 2009

Crazy for Politics

A news blog staffed by UMBC students aims to spark high schoolers’ interest in current events.

BALTIMORE - Do you find news and current events dull, boring and confusing?

Too many young people answer yes to that question, says political cartoonist Kevin “Kal” Kallaugher, who has launched a new political news blog aimed at getting high school students to tune-in to current events by using the humor and spirit of political cartooning.

The Web site,, is a daily news roundup edited by Kallaugher and staffed by a team of student bloggers at UMBC. Kallaugher, an award-winning, internationally syndicated editorial cartoonist for publications such as The Baltimore Sun and The Economist, conceived the site as an artist-in-residence at UMBC’s Imaging Research Center.

Using editorial cartoons, digital animation, videos and humorous blog posts about the daily news, USDemocrazy is designed to engage high schoolers in current events, Kallaugher said. Many posts are interactive and allow comments and the blog’s text is optimized so students can easily read it when projected on a large screen.

“We want to create a daily package where teachers can flip on our Web site for just a couple minutes each day and find engaging, unpredictable, accessible and fun material that can help make subjects like social studies more entertaining,” Kallaugher said.

The site launched publicly in October with a visit by Kallaugher to Wheaton High School in Montgomery County, Md., where social studies students have been the first in the nation to test USDemocrazy in the classroom.

Wheaton’s Social Studies Head David Shaffner said the multimedia Web site comes at a perfect time for social studies teachers. Schools across the country are struggling to make social studies relevant in an age of high stakes testing in reading and math and increasing emphasis on science and technology, he said.

“Students today are plugged-in to a more visual, media-rich environment,” Shaffner said. “We need new tools to help us un-lock those brainwaves.”

Kallaugher presented USDemocrazy as the feature speaker at the 2009 National High School Journalism Convention in Washington, D.C. this November. He plans to make presentations to the National High School Model United Nations and the National Council for the Social Studies annual meetings in 2010 to reach more teachers and students. USDemocrazy will also be introduce into the classroom this spring at Kallaugher’s alma mater, Fairfield Prep in Fairfield, Conn.

Kallaugher said the blog’s also a rich education tool for college students.

His team of student writers – which he calls his “vagabonding bloggoteers” – are tasked with populating the blog with daily posts and weekly features.

“I never used to think about getting information from blogs and used to scoff at Twitter,” said UMBC junior Marc Zerfas, a financial economics and statistics major. “Now we pride ourselves as being a sort of gateway drug to current events for people who would never read the news normally.”

Features include a daily cartoon, “What’z Up Today” news roundup and feature story; a weekly “Film Festival” roundup of videos; a weekly humorous photo “Caption Contest”; and a new feature called “Three-and-a-half Questions” highlighting the expertise of people “who are smarter than us,” Kallaugher said.

“We ask a current events expert three questions in their field of interest, plus one extra credit question in an unrelated area,” Kal said.

UMBC political science professor Tom Schaller was the latest expert to answer three-and-a-half questions, featured in an audio slide show:

Interviewed recently in UMBC Magazine, Schaller said that USDemocrazy “is classic Kal: very cheeky, very fun, very visual, and very colorful. Anyone who’s been around Kal for five minutes knows he’s all those things.”

Posted by kavan

October 19, 2009

UMBC Forum Addresses Immigrant Youth Education Challenges

Students at Risk: Helping Latin American Immigrant Youth Succeed

-- Kavan Peterson
phone: 410-455-1896

BALTIMORE - The University of Maryland, Baltimore County (UMBC) is hosting a forum to address academic challenges specific to children of Latin American immigrant families on Friday, Oct. 23 at the World Trade Center in Baltimore from 8:30-10:30 a.m.

Sponsored by the Annie E. Casey Foundation and UMBC's Department of Public Policy and Maryland Institute for Policy Analysis and Research, the forum will focus on the public policy implications of interventions to help immigrant students adapt to and succeed in U.S. schools.

Featuring perspectives on the Latin American immigrant family experience in the U.S., the forum will provide insights relevant to policy makers in Baltimore and other Maryland communities that are home to growing Latin American populations.

The program will include a presentation by UMBC Professors Tim Gindling and Sara Poggio on their recent policy brief Family Separation and the Educational Success of Immigrant Children, which discusses the challenges that Latin American immigrant children face, and how schools can help immigrant students adapt and succeed.

Other speakers include:

Carola Suárez-Orozco, Professor of Applied Psychology, New York University and Co-Director of Immigration Studies@NYU
Hector Torres, President, PROSABER Emergency Management Consulting
Karen Woodson, Director, Division of ESOL/Bilingual Programs, Montgomery County Public Schools

The forum is open to the public but registration is required. For more information, visit or call 410-455-8193.

The Department of Public Policy offers a Master of Public Policy (M.P.P.), and a Ph.D. degree. Our major areas of focus are: educational policy, health policy, legal policy, public management, urban policy, and evaluation
and analytical methods. For more information, visit

The Maryland Institute for Policy Analysis and Research (MIPAR) is UMBC’s center for applied scholarly public policy research. MIPAR links University resources with policy makers in the state and region, conducting policy studies, program evaluations and opinion research on a wide range of topics. MIPAR activities are supported by federal agencies, private foundations, and state and local governments. For more information about MIPAR, visit

Posted by kavan

October 1, 2009

Tracking Global Sources of Local Pollution

The National Academies of Sciences featured satellite pollution-tracking research by UMBC Physics Professor Wallace McMillan in a report released Sept. 29 urging better tracking of global air-borne pollutants.

Using the most advanced methods of atmospheric monitoring and modeling, the report, “Global Sources of Local Pollution,” documents how air pollution can be transported across oceans and continents.

As a member of the science team for NASA's Aqua satellite-based Atmospheric InfraRed Sounder (AIRS), McMillan helped create a video showing plumes of carbon monoxide moving through the atmosphere to illustrate the transport of pollution around the globe.

Obtained using the AIRS, the video shows observations tracking carbon monoxide at 5.5 kilometers above the surface of the Earth. Emissions of carbon monoxide from large fires and from large urban and industrial areas, such as northeastern China, can be seen as they move with weather fronts.
View video in MP4 format
(recommended for Mac users)
View video in WMV format
(recommended for Windows users)

McMillan’s research focuses on global, regional and local measurements of pollution. Ed Olsen at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory animated the video.

Posted by kavan

September 9, 2009

bwtech@UMBC Welcomes StormCenter Communications

NASA Collaborator Finds a Home at UMBC

September 9, 2009

Deborah Shapiro
Marketing Manager

bwtech@UMBC is pleased to welcome StormCenter Communications to its Incubator and Accelerator. The company, which specializes in weather and climate communications technologies, looks forward to expanding its business and taking advantage of the opportunities available at UMBC.

Founded in 2001 by Dave Jones, a meteorologist who once did on-air weather forecasting for NBC4 in Washington, DC, StormCenter Communications develops technologies that enable weather and climate visualization and collaboration for NOAA’s National Weather Service, FEMA and other civilian purposes. The company is currently working with NASA to develop a product that can be used by both TV stations and emergency planning agencies to predict and plan for catastrophic weather and climate events. UMBC’s existing relationship with NASA was a key factor in Jones’s decision to relocate his company: the university ranks 2nd nationally in NASA university research grants and cooperative agreements. bwtech@UMBC’s Goddard Earth Science and Technology Center and Joint Center for Earth Systems Technology are two such collaborations between UMBC and NASA.

Another reason Jones decided to move his company from Howard County to UMBC was the opportunity to collaborate with UMBC faculty on upcoming StormCenter projects and hire UMBC student interns. The chance to interact with and learn from other early-stage company CEOs was also appealing to Jones, as was bwtech@UMBC’s network server capabilities that allow the transmission of large data files.

Establishing residence at the bwtech@UMBC Incubator and Accelerator also allows Jones to fulfill a goal he has had for a while: educating K-16 schools and the community about extreme weather, climate change and their impacts on society. StormCenter has set up a technology showcase room and broadcast studio on the 4th floor of the building and will invite scientists to present to school classrooms and science centers via video teleconferencing. “It’s something I always wanted to do but never had the capability,” said Jones.

“bwtech@UMBC is delighted to welcome StormCenter Communications,” said David Fink, director of entrepreneurial services at bwtech@UMBC. “They are a natural fit with UMBC’s strengths in the sciences and engineering and have much to offer in their field. We look forward to helping them achieve their goals.”

Posted by dshapiro

June 8, 2009

CUERE Wins Grant to Combat Urban Runoff into Bay

BALTIMORE -- UMBC'S Center for Urban Environmental Research and Education (CUERE) is one of 24 projects to receive a total of $12.9 million in grants from the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation to reduce nutrient and sediment pollution to the local streams, creeks and rivers that flow to the Chesapeake Bay.

CUERE received $312,177 to address polluted runoff from compacted soils in parks, school yards, athletic fields, residential lawns and inner city vacant lots in Baltimore City and County. The center and its project partners will develop technical specifications needed to incorporate subsoiling -- a type of deep tilling that breaks up compacted soil, allowing more water to soak in -- around Gwynns Falls, Herring Run, Henry Run and Watershed 263 in Baltimore City.

The grant was awarded through the Chesapeake Bay Stewardship Fund, which provides up to $1 million to innovative and cost-effective projects that dramatically reduce or eliminate the flow of nitrogen, phosphorus and sediment pollution into local waterways and the Chesapeake Bay.

View the full list of grantees here.

Posted by kavan

April 30, 2009

In case of tornado, keep your seatbelt fastened

UMBC emergency expert crafts new tornado guidelines for Red Cross advising people to stay in their car

BALTIMORE -- For 50 years the National Weather Service (NWS) has advised people in mobile homes or driving in the path of tornadoes to abandon their cars or mobile homes and lie flat in a ditch if no other shelter is available.

UMBC Emergency Health Services Associate Professor Rick Bissell recently lead a team of researchers who crafted new public advisory guidelines for the American Red Cross that now advise people who cannot reach a sturdy building to seek shelter in a car and remain there with seat belts fastened and ignition on for the duration of the tornado warning period.

The Weather Channel, which for 20 years has repeated the NWS advice to seek shelter in a ditch, broadcast the new Red Cross public advisory guidelines for tornadoes on April 29. Click here to watch the video.

Bissell heads the Preparedness Sub-Council of the American Red Cross's scientific
advisory council (ACFASP), which recently evaluated the scientific literature behind preparedness and public safety messages related to natural hazards such as tornadoes, hurricanes, wildfires, floods, etc.

After a rigorous literature review, ACFASP found no evidence to support the NWS suggestion that people should lie in a ditch in tornadoes if they cannot find a solid shelter, and significant evidence that automobiles provide substantially more protection than mobile homes or being outside.

The new tornado advisory guidelines recommended by ACFASP were created in consultation with Dr. Tom Schmidlin from Kent State University, one of the nation’s most active tornado safety researchers.

Posted by kavan

April 27, 2009

Historian Gets Guggenheim to Examine Plutonium Cities

Chernobyl is a household word for nuclear disaster; few Americans, however, know the story behind two fate-entwined cities in the U.S. and former U.S.S.R. which each emitted three to four times more radiation than the Chernobyl meltdown.

In April, UMBC History Professor Kate Brown received a 2009 Guggenheim Fellowship to complete her book “Enriched by Plutonium: the tandem history of the secret cities plutonium built,” which aims to put these cities in the cross hairs of human history.

For nearly a half century, the cities of Richland, Wash., and Cheliabinsk-40 in Russia manufactured in secrecy the most volatile and lethal product in human history: Plutonium.

Brown hopes to shatter ideological assumptions cultivated during the Cold War by exploring remarkable similarities between the American and Soviet plutonium cities.

Top secret, highly restricted and socially engineered, these government-run communities developed on parallel paths into model cities. Each received awards for planning, community development and education. At the height of Cold War tension, some politicians feared Richland was too “socialisitic”, while some Soviet officials called Cheliabinsk-40 too “materialisitic” and “bourgeois.” Both suffer a deadly legacy of radioactive contamination.

“I will argue that in creating the means to destroy each other, the two cities came to resemble one another,” Brown said.

Brown has interviewed dozens of residents and plant operators in both cities and has accessed U.S. federal government and Communist Party personal archives. After making one more research trip to the Urals in Russia this summer she plans to complete her book by the end of the Guggenheim Fellowship year.

Sixty-two disciplines and 68 academic institutions are represented by 2009’s Guggenheim Fellows. Since its establishment in 1925, the Guggenheim Foundation has granted more than $273 million in Fellowships to nearly 16,700 individuals, including scores of Nobel, Pulitzer and other prizewinners. Click here for full list of prize winners.

Brown studies and teaches Russian and Eastern European History, focusing on ethnicity and nationalism. Her recent book, A Biography of No Place: From Ethnic Borderland to Soviet Heartland won the American Historical Association's prestigious George Louis Beer Prize. Brown is the recipient of numerous fellowships including the Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars and the Social Science Research Center.

Posted by kavan

January 27, 2009

Erickson School Helps Launch Nation's First Elder ER

SILVER SPRING, Md. -- In partnership with aging experts from the Erickson School at the University of Maryland, Baltimore County, Holy Cross Hospital (Silver Spring, Md.) recently launched one of the nation’s first emergency medical centers designed specifically for older adults.

The Seniors Emergency Center at Holy Cross Hospital opened its doors November 5, 2008, featuring a specially designed environment to reduce patients’ anxiety and risk of falling. After a 90-day observation period and review of patient outcomes conducted with Erickson School researchers, the center becomes fully operational in February.

Erickson School faculty, including internationally renowned geriatrician Dr. Bill Thomas and long term care reformer Dr. Judah Ronch, led a team of researchers in designing the Seniors Emergency Center and providing specialty training in geriatrics for Holy Cross medical staff.

Holy Cross Hospital is part of Trinity Health, the nation’s fourth-largest Catholic healthcare system. Holy Cross provided emergency care to over 12,000 seniors in its emergency centers and admitted over 5,700 to its hospital in 2008. The hospital projects a sharp increase in older patients during the next decade as the nation’s population of older adults increases.

The Erickson School at UMBC offers graduate and undergraduate degree programs in the Management of Aging Services (MAgS) and cutting-edge research through its Center for Aging Studies.

The Washington Post reports: "Serenity in Emergencies."

Posted by kavan

October 13, 2008 Site Explores Crazy U.S. Electoral System

Confused about how an American democracy works? You are not alone.

CONTACT: Kavan Peterson
Phone: 410-455-1896

– Confused about how an American democracy works? You are not alone.

A new Web site – -- designed by Economist magazine cartoonist Kevin “Kal” Kallaugher, artist-in-residence at the University of Maryland, Baltimore County, aims to demystify and explore America’s crazy 50-state democracy in a fun and engaging way.

Designed and hand-drawn by Kal for UMBC's Imaging Research Center, was built and researched by an interdisciplinary team of UMBC students, including visual arts, web design and social sciences majors.

The site features in-depth portraits of all 50 states through exclusive Kal animations, offbeat trivia and factoids and local color from experts in each state. An animated “Uncle Sam” explains idiosyncrasies of America’s democratic system, such as the Electoral College. On the blog, Kal, along with students and faculty from UMBC, will follow America’s electoral process through the presidential race and into the next administration.

The interactive site is compiling first-hand portraits of each state from local experts in history, politics, journalism and humor through its “Crazy Talk” state survey. Click here to take the survey.

Click here to visit and to view Kal's Mission Statement video.

Posted by kavan

August 22, 2008

UMBC Political Correspondent at the Conventions

UMBC's nationally recognized political analyst Tom Schaller will have a front row seat at the Democratic National Convention as a correspondent for Salon. Above, Schaller previews what to expect during the final stretch of the 2008 presidential election.

CONTACT: Kavan Peterson
Phone: 410-455-1896

Nationally recognized political analyst Tom Schaller will have a front row seat at the Democratic National Convention as a correspondent for Salon.

Schaller, an associate professor of political science at the University of Maryland, Baltimore County (UMBC), will be in Denver August 25-29 covering the presumptive nomination of Sen. Barack Obama as the Democratic candidate for president.

Follow Schaller's reports from Salon's political War Room.

Author of “Whistling Past Dixie: How Democrats Can Win Without the South,” Schaller predicts a tight race that will focus on pivotal swing states in the Southwest and upper Midwest.

“The candidate who gets the lion’s share of the vote in the Midwest and the Southwest will be the 44th president,” Schaller said.

Below, Schaller previews what to expect during the final stretch of the 2008 presidential election:

A twice-monthly political columnist for the Baltimore Sun and contributing writer for Salon, Schaller has published commentaries in The New York Times, Washington Post, Los Angeles Times, The Boston Globe, The New York Daily News, The American Prospect, and The New Republic, and has appeared on ABC News, The Colbert Report, MSNBC, National Public Radio's "All Things Considered" and "Talk of the Nation" programs, The Tavis Smiley Show, and C-SPAN's Washington Journal.

Posted by kavan

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