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CMNS e-News May 2012

Vol. 2, No. 6
Please submit items to the editor, Mary Kearney.


Honors and Awards

The College Annual Undergraduate Honors Reception was held Tuesday, May 1, 2012. As well as recognizing students for outstanding academic achievement, Latin Honors and Departmental Honors, the following students were recognized.

Richard Smith, Department of Biology, Neuroscience Program

Katherine Manfred (Chemistry and Physics)

Harley Katz (Astronomy and Physics)
Honorable Mentions: Krzysztof Franaszek and Benjamyn Ward

Rita Colwell (Cell Biology and Molecular Genetics and UMIACS)I was awarded an honorary doctorate, along with the Chairman of the Board of IBM and Daw Aung San Suu Kyi, the newly elected President of Myanmar, by Johns Hopkins University at their commencement on May 24.

Jeanette Davis (Graduate student, MEES) impressed the judges with her talk about sea slugs as a source of anti-cancer compounds at the NOAA-Educational Partnership Program's Education and Science Forum. She won First Prize for the graduate student oral presentation in the "NOAA Healthy Oceans" category. Davis has been working in Dr. Russell Hill's microbiology laboratory at the Institute of Marine and Environmental Technology (IMET). The multi-institution program helps prepare minority students for careers that support the sustainable harvest and conservation of living marine resources. IMET scientists help train graduate and undergraduate students in aquaculture and molecular approaches to enrich their research experience.

Catherine Fenselau (Chemistry and Biochemistry) was selected by the Chemical Heritage Foundation in Philadelphia, and the American Society for Mass Spectrometry, for inclusion in an archive of oral histories of scientists who have led the development of mass spectrometry for chemistry and biochemistry. Two days of interviews and videotaping were conducted, and are being edited for the permanent archive at the Chemical Heritage Foundation.

Megan Johnson (Undergraduate student, Physics and Astronomy) received the University Honors Citation from the University of Maryland. The citation signifies the completion of honors course work at the university. Johnson graduated in May 2012.

Jay Kaufman (Geology) has been elected a Fellow of the Geological Society of America (GSA). GSA members are elected to Fellowship in recognition of distinguished contributions to the geosciences through such avenues as publications, applied research, teaching, administration of geological programs, contributing to the public awareness of geology, leadership of professional organizations, and undertaking editorial, bibliographic, and library responsibilities.

Janice Lin (Undergraduate student, Chemistry) has been offered a Boren Scholarship to pursue intensive language studies, Mandarin, in Taiwan. The Boren Scholarship, a Department of Defense award, provides up to $20,000 for long-term (two semester or longer), language-focused study abroad.

Jenny Wang (Undergraduate student, Biological Sciences and English) was named the Student Medalist for this year's Commencement (May 20). Wang earned 40 credits before becoming a Terp, and she kept up that academic pace on campus. She maintained a 4.0 GPA as she completed degrees in physiology and neurobiology and in English language and literature. After graduation, Wang will focus on applying to medical schools.


Rama Chellappa (UMIACS and ECE) with Yang Ran and Qinfen Zheng, "Method and System for Object Surveillance and Real Time Activity Recognition."

Steven Hutcheson (Cell Biology and Molecular Genetics) with Larry E. Taylor (2005 Ph.D. MEES), Nathan Ekborg (2005 Ph.D. CBMG) and Michael Howard (2004 Ph.D. CBMG) and Ronald Weiner, "Plant Wall Degradative Compounds and Systems."


Alessandra Buonanno (Physics), NSF, $240,000, "In Search of Gravitational Waves: Modeling the Final Moments of Coalescing Compact Binaries."

James Carton (AOSC), NASA-Goddard Space Flight Center, $148,797, "Mesoscale Eddies and their Role in Regulation of High Salinity Pools in the Subtropical Gyres."

Arthur Popper (Biology), Office of Naval Research, $327,915, "IPA – Naval Submarine Medical Research Lab."

Aravind Srinivasan (Computer Science and UMIACS), Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University, $699,870, "E-VERIFY: Learning and Predicting Ties in Social Networks."

Sylvain Veilleux (Astronomy), NSF, $819,457, "MOHSIS: The Maryland OH Suppression IFU System for the Discovery channel Telescope."

What's New

147 undergraduate students from CMNS participated in the College Park Scholars Academic Showcase, May 4. The Showcase highlights practicum research, internship and service-learning projects completed by second-year Scholars providing them with the opportunity to share and discuss their work and experiences with the undergraduate community at the University of Maryland. College Park Scholars is an academic residential community for select freshmen and sophomores. The curriculum and activities for each program -- and for Scholars overall -- provide the interpersonal benefits of a small college paired with the intellectual advantages of a major research university. Each Scholars program is directed by a faculty member appointed by the sponsoring college’s dean and supported by a small staff. 

The Computer Science Department, Institute for Systems Research (ISR) and Institute for Advanced Computer Studies (UMIACS) held a symposium on May 24-25, 2012 to honor Dana Nau's contributions to artificial intelligence on the occasion of his 60th birthday. Researchers from around the world gathered in College Park to celebrate his contributions to automated planning, diagnostic inference, adversarial and game theoretic reasoning, and automated manufacturing.

The Department of Astronomy is holding a “Transit of Venus” special program, June 5, from 5:00pm to 10:00pm. The program will take place at the Stadium Drive garage rooftop. For more information:

The Third Annual CrossTalk Symposium on Host-Pathogen Interactions, jointly sponsored between University of Maryland, Baltimore medical campus and University of Maryland, College Park, will be held on Friday June 15th from 10:30 am to 6:30 pm at the Institute for Biosciences and Biotechnology Research (IBBR) on the Shady Grove Campus. The symposium is centered on talks from NIH T32 training grant students from both campuses, but also includes poster presentations by all interested attendees and plenty of scientific interaction. This year's keynote lecture will be presented by Dr. Phillip Scott, University of Pennsylvania School of Veterinary Medicine, entitled "T cells and Cytokines in Infectious Diseases". There is no registration fee, but please register at and indicate if you would like to present a poster.

The 2012 US Physics Olympiad team training camp will be held in the Physics Department on June 3-25. Sponsored by the American Association of Physics Teachers, the Physics Department, Joint Quantum Institute and the American Institute of Physics, 20 high school students from around the country will undergo rigorous training and further testing. At the end of the training camp, five students and an alternate will be selected to represent the US in the 43rd International Physics Olympiad, Tallinn/Tartu, Estonia, July 15-24.

Norma Allewell (Cell Biology and Molecular Genetics) was the guest speaker at the State Department, Washington, DC on May 22. Allewell, who was awarded a Jefferson Science Fellowship (2011-2012) gave a talk on “From Proteins to the Pacific: Science Diplomacy in East Asia and the Pacific.”

Ramani Duraiswami (Computer Science and UMIACS) gave a colloquium talk at the Department of Computer Science and Engineering, Queen Mary’s University of London, on “Capture and Reproduction of Spatial Sound,” on April 26, 2012. On April 28, he gave an invited talk on “Fast Multipole Methods and Related Algorithms” at the Workshop on Scalable Hierarchical Algorithms for eXtreme Computing (SHAX-C), at the King Abdullah University of Science and Technology, Saudi Arabia.

David Inouye (Biology) was an invited speaker at the 8th Annual Plant Biology Symposium “Plant Reproductive Biology: Genomics to Phenomics” at Harvard University's Arnold Arboretum, May 8. Inouye’s talk was about his long-term research on the flowering phenology of Rocky Mountain wildflowers and their pollinators.

Raymond St. Leger (Entomology) gave an invited lecture at the 2012 Cold Spring Harbor Asia Conference on Infectious Disease Genomics and Global Health Suzhou, China, May 7-11.

Raghu Murtugudde (AOSC and ESSIC) has been selected as a Distinguished Lecturer for the Ocean Sciences (OS) Section of the Asia Oceania Geosciences Society‐AGU (WPGM) Joint Assembly, which will be held from August 13-17 at the Resorts World Sentosa in Singapore.

Jan Sengers (IPST) gave two invited presentations at the 107th Statistical Mechanics Conference, held at Rutgers University, May 6-8, celebrating the scientific accomplishments of Eddie Cohen, Elliott Lieb, and Oliver Penrose. The presentations were entitled “Light scattering and shadowgraph measurements of nonequilibrium fluctuations in fluids" and "Eddie Cohen and some surprises in nonequilibrium statistical physics".

Jonathan Simon (Biology and ECE) has been selected to attend the 10th Annual National Academies Keck Futures Initiative (NAKFI) conference, “The Informed Brain in a Digital World” at the Academies’ Arnold and Mabel Beckman Center, Irvine, CA, November 14–17. The conference will focus the discipline of neuroscience on the challenges and opportunities presented by the digitally connected world.

Jacob Taylor (JQI and NIST) has been nominated as a finalist for the 2012 Samuel J. Heyman Service to America Medal. There are a total of nine medals issued, and Taylor is one of three finalists for the Call to Service Medal. According to the Partnership for Public Service, this award is intended to “recognize a federal employee whose professional achievements reflect the important contributions that a new generation brings to public service.” The nomination specifically cites Taylor’s theoretical research efforts that relate to medical imaging and information transfer protocols. Taylor was profiled in The Washington Post, May 8 as part of a series covering the nominees. The medal recipients will be announced on September 13, 2012.

In The News

Ashok Agrawala (Computer Science and UMIACS) was interviewed by the Washington Post, May 27, on the Escort-M program – a mobile phone app that will link public safety personnel to real-time video and audio from a student's phone, which is expected to be rolled-out within the next two or three weeks. The Escort-M app is an outgrowth of M-Urgency, which allows students, faculty and staff to instantly share video, audio and location information about their emergency with university police dispatchers.

Tony Busalacchi (ESSIC and AOSC) was interviewed by ScienceInsider, May 2, about the release of the National Research Council's (NRC) Committee on the Assessment of NASA's Earth Science Program report, "Earth Science and Applications from Space: A Midterm Assessment of NASA's Implementation of the Decadal Survey," on the ability to monitor the earth via satellite and other tools. Busalacchi is a member of the Committee. On May 4 he was interviewed by the Weather Channel on the same subject. Busalacchi was also quoted in a news segment on WTOP, May 21, on future flooding of the Potomac River and the Chesapeake Bay.

Michael Cummings (Biology and UMIACS) was interviewed by (Spain) when he delivered a seminar at the University of the Basque Country in April. The interview, published in May, focused on his research in bioinformatics and computational biology.

Bonnie Dorr (Computer Science and UMIACS) was quoted in Slate magazine, May 11, in a story on DARPA's Broad Operational Language Translation (BOLT). BOLT is part of DARPA's broader efforts to provide language translation in support of Defense and National Security requirements, ranging from phrase translation to the scanning and translation of large data sets of voice, video and print. Dorr was also quoted in PhysOrg and Network World, May 8, on the launch of DARPA's Deep Exploration and Filtering of Text (DEFT) program, which attempts to create technology to make reliable inferences based on basic text. Dorr, who is serving an IPA tour of duty at DARPA, is the Program Manager for BOLT and DEFT.

James Farquhar (Geology and ESSIC), with first author Harry Oduro (2012 Ph.D. Geology, advisor James Farquhar and now at MIT) and Kathryn Van Alstyne (Western Washington University) published an article in PNAS, May 14, providing a tool for tracing and measuring the movement of sulfur through ocean organisms, the atmosphere and the land in ways that may help prove or disprove the controversial Gaia theory. Media coverage included Wired News, Daily Mail, Science Daily, University Today, Science Codex and Market Watch.

Oscar Greenberg (Physics) was cited in Fermilab Today, May 18, in an article on the "three colors of particle physics." Greenberg proposed the idea that a particle containing three "up" quarks each quarks had a different charge – now known as color.

Doug Hamilton (Astronomy) was quoted in MSNBC, May22, in an article on recently presented research by Rodney Gomes (National Observatory, Brazil) at the American Astronomical Society meeting, May 6-10, which suggested that a planet four times the size of Earth may be skirting the edges of the solar system beyond Pluto. Hamilton was also quoted in Nature News, May 8, in an article on work conducted by Rory Barnes (University of Washington, Seattle) and presented at the same meeting, on a little-considered heating effect which could shrink estimates of the habitable zone of the Milky Way's most numerous class of stars – red dwarfs.

Research conducted by Saswata Hier Majumder (Geology and CSCAMM), Jodi Gaeman (2009 B.S. and 2011 M.S. Geology) and James Roberts (JHU-APL), was the subject of articles in New Scientist and Daily Galaxy, May 29. The study, published in Icarus on May 18, suggests the presence of an ocean within Neptune's icy moon, Triton. If true, this will be the outermost known ocean in our solar system.

Thomas Holtz (Geology) was quoted in Scientific Computing, May 9, in an article on a new study which suggests that dinosaurs may have helped keep an already overheated world warmer with their flatulence and burps 200 million years ago.

Lyle Isaacs (Chemistry and Biochemistry) and Volker Briken (Cell Biology and Molecular Genetics) led a cross-disciplinary team of researchers that designed a molecular container that can hold drug molecules and increase their solubility, opening up the possibility of rehabilitating drug candidates that were insufficiently soluble. The discovery also offers an opportunity to improve successful drugs that could be made even better with better solubility. The findings are published in Nature Chemistry, June issue.

A Joint Quantum Institute Research Team have stored not one but two letters of the alphabet in a tiny cell filled with rubidium (Rb) atoms which are tailored to absorb and later re-emit messages on demand. This is the first time two images have simultaneously been reliably stored in a non-solid medium and then played back. The team, Quentin Glorieux, Graduate student Jeremy Clark, Alberto Marino, Zhifan Zhou and Paul Lett, published their results in Optics Express, May 21. Media coverage has included Technology Review, Science Daily, Daily Mail and USA Today.

Research being conducted by Rebecca Lazarus (Graduate student, MEES) was featured in the Richmond Times Dispatch, April 26. Lazarus collects osprey eggs in the bay-region waters to check for pollutants.

Amy McKinney and David Inouye (Biology) with colleagues from the University of Arizona and the Rocky Mountain Biological Laboratory published an article in the current issue of Ecology on the glacier lilies and the broad-tailed hummingbirds. Their study showed that the glacier lily first blooms some 17 days earlier than they did in the 1970s, and is no longer synchronized with the arrival of the broad-tailed hummingbirds, which depend on the lilies for nectar. Their results support the prediction that migratory species may experience the greatest phenological mismatches at the poleward limits of their migration. Media coverage includes PhysOrg, Kansas City InfoZine and the Summit County Citizens Voice.

Raghu Murtugudde (AOSC and ESSIC) was featured in a videotaped interview by The Nelson Institute for Environmental Studies, University of Wisconsin-Madison, April 30, on sustainability and communicating science. He was also interviewed for Maryland Public Television's Smith Island Thinkport's Saving Smith Island.

Michael Raupp (Entomology) was interviewed on WBAL, May 28, on the seeming disappearance of stink bugs. Raupp stated that they may be massing for a new offensive in gardens and orchards around the region.

Ted Schultz (Entomology and the Smithsonian Institution) was quoted in MSNBC, May 15, in an article on a new study which suggests that a group of fungi-farming ants are not only loyal to a particular species of fungus, but that the relationship is so close it appears the ants and the fungus may evolve together.

UMIACS was featured, and Director of Computing Fritz McCall was quoted, in Campus Technology, May 8, in a story on UMIACS partnering with Triumfant to improve their website's security with Triumfant's anomaly detection and analysis software.

Dennis VanEngelsdorp (Entomology), team member in the Bee Informed Partnership, authored the preliminary report on the latest annual survey conducted by the Partnership, the Apiary Inspectors of America and the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA). Total losses of managed honey bee colonies from all causes dropped to 21.9 percent nationwide for the 2011-2012 winter, a decline of some 8 percentage points or 27 percent from the approximately 30 percent average loss beekeepers have experienced in recent winters. The researchers involved in the survey say they don't know the reason for improved bee survival during the winter, but that the warm winter may have been a contributing factor. Media coverage includes Minnesota Public Radio, The Grower, KVOA Tucson News, PhysOrg and the Wisconsin Ag Connection.

Masato Yoshizawa, Go Ashida and William Jeffery (all Biology) published an article in Evolution (early online version) May 7, reporting on their research comparing two divergent blind cave-dwelling cavefish populations with a sighted surface-dwelling population of the teleost 'Astyanax mexicanus.' From behavioral studies and mathematical evolutionary simulations, they demonstrated that disparity in nuclear and mitochondrial DNA in one of these cavefish populations that has hybridized with surface fish can be explained by paternal inheritance of vibration attraction behavior. Their results suggest that parental genetic effects in adaptive behaviors may be important factors in biasing mitochondrial DNA inheritance in natural populations that are subject to introgression.

Aleksey Zimin (IPST) and Jim Yorke (Mathematics and IPST), members of The Heliconius Genome Consortium, produced the genome sequence for a butterfly that became the basis for a study of mimicry between butterflies: when a non-toxic butterfly's colors mimic those of a toxic one, so that birds will not eat them. The study was published in Nature, May 16, by the Consortium and was featured in Science Magazine's News of the Week, May 18. Media coverage included the Los Angeles Times, RedOrbit, GenomeWeb, Science Daily and PhysOrg.

Abderahmen Zoghbi and Christopher Reynolds (both Astronomy) with colleagues A.C. Fabian (Institute of Astronomy, Cambridge) and E.M. Cackett (Physics and Astronomy Wayne State University, MI), published an article in the Monthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society, May edition, reporting the first detection of reverberation in the iron K band in any active galactic nuclei (AGN). Using data from the European Space Agency's XMM-Newton satellite, the team identified a long-sought X-ray "echo" in the center of the active galaxy, NGC 4151. Media coverage includes MSNBC, Science Daily and PhysOrg.

Alumni News

Jeffrey Blazar (2012 B.S. Biology) is pursuing a Ph.D. in Microbiology at the University of California-Berkeley beginning August 2012.

Massimo Bollasina (2010 Ph.D. AOSC, advisor Sumant Nigam) was the AOSC Seminar speaker on May 10, with a topic of "Multi-faceted forced variability of the South Asian summer monsoon." Bollasina is a Postdoctoral Research Associate at the Geophysical Fluid Dynamics Laboratory, Princeton, NJ.

Donna Croll (1986 B.S. Computer Science) was quoted in the Southern Maryland News, May 25 on the selection of her company, Calvert Systems Engineering, as the 2012 Calvert County Leading Edge Award. Croll founded the company in 2003, is the President and CEO and Chairman of the Board. The company, which became operational in 2005, is an 8(a) WOSB Engineering and Consulting Services firm with operating locations in Maryland and Nebraska. Prior to founding the company, Croll served 15 years as a government civilian employee and completed her Master's degree in Computer Science from Johns Hopkins.

Pablo Echeverria (1980 M.A. Mathematics-Statistics) has been awarded the Camden County College top instructional award, the 2012 Lindback Distinguished Teaching Award, in recognition of his passion for teaching and mathematics. Echeverria is an Associate Professor at the College, where he also developed an international film festival for the College community.

Ching-Ho Fung (1988 M.S. Computer Science) was the subject of a Washington Post article, May 27. Fung, co-founder of Parature, returned as chief executive of the company in May of 2011 after taking a 4-year break. The first angel investor in Blackboard, Fung also helped other start-ups such as Performix, later acquired by IBM.

Ponani Gopalakrishnan (1986 Ph.D. Computer Science, advisor R. Kanal) is Vice President, IBM India Software Labs (ISL) where he oversees product development and technology innovation efforts of a team of several thousand engineers across India. Prior to accepting this position, he was Director, Discovery Solutions in the Information Management division of IBM's Software Group, where he brought together key capabilities in text analytics and data mining in the software product portfolio. Gopalakrishnan has been issued over 20 patents.

Amy Horneman (1990 M.S. Microbiology, 2001 Ph.D. MEES) was quoted in Times-Georgian, May 28, in a story on a strain of bacteria, Aeromonas hydrophila, that caused the flesh eating disease, necrotizing fasciitis, that nearly killed a University of West Georgia student. Horneman is Chief of Microbiology and Molecular Diagnostics, Veterans Affairs Maryland Health Care System's Medical Center.

Alan Karp (1974 Ph.D. Astronomy) is a speaker at the Cornerstone of Trust Conference 2012 – Raising Security IQ, June 6, Foster City, CA with a presentation entitled "Making Applications Easier to Defend than Attack." Karp, who is a Principal Scientist in Hewlett Packard's Intelligent Infrastructure Laboratory and also heads the Virus Safe Computing Group at HP Labs, conducts research on usable security.

Joseph McBrearty (1980 B.S. Chemistry) is Deputy Director for Field Operations, Office of Science, US Department of Energy (DOE) responsible for providing leadership in the strategic planning, management, oversight, and coordination of the SC field operations at the SC Site Offices, as well as the operations support provided by the SC Integrated Support Center and Headquarters offices. McBrearty joined DOE in 2010 after 30 years in the Navy where he served on board four nuclear attack and ballistic missile submarines, specializing in nuclear propulsion and nuclear weapons systems, training, control and safety. He earned his Master's Degree in International Studies from the Naval War College.

Curtis Mobley (1977 Ph.D. Meteorology, advisor Alan Faller) returned to campus May 3 to give an AOSC seminar entitled "Shallow-water Remote Sensing: The Unsolved Problem of Atmospheric Correction." Since 1997 Mobley has held the position of Vice President for Science and Senior Scientist at Sequoia Scientific, Bellevue, Washington. He conducts research on shallow-water airborne remote sensing and ecosystem modeling. Sequoia Scientific manufactures instrumentation and software for environmental monitoring and scientific research and carries out academic research associated with new instrument development and capabilities.

Stephen Ramsey (1996 M.S., 1997 Ph.D. Physics, advisor Bei-Lok Hu) is a Senior Research Scientist, Seattle Biomedical Research Institute, where he investigates the role of macrophages in atherosclerosis, as well as various other collaborations in immunology, vascular biology, lipoprotein metabolism and systems biology. Ramsey studied the nonequilibrium dynamics of quantum fields in curved spacetime for his Ph.D. thesis, which sparked an interest in harnessing the power of large-scale computational approaches to solve complex modeling and analysis of problems.

Vera Smolyaninova (1999 Ph.D. Physics, advisor Richard Greene) published an article in the New Journal of Physics, with co-authors Igor Smolyaninov (Engineering) and H.K. Ermer (Towson University), May 24. The authors reported on the first experimental realization of Farhat's (et. al) 2011 suggestion that arrays of invisibility cloaks may find important applications in low-interference communication, noninvasive probing, sensing and communication networks. Media coverage included BBC News, Physics World, Smart Planet and Next Big Future. Smolyaninova is an Associate Professor, Department of Physics, Astronomy and Geosciences, Towson University.

Paul So (1995 Ph.D. Physics, advisor Ed Ott) was the Physics Department's Applied Dynamics Seminar speaker, May 10, with a topic of "Exact meanfield solution for a network of type-I excitable theta neurons." So, a theoretical physicist specializing in nonlinear dynamics, is a faculty member in the Department of Physics and Astronomy, George Mason University and co-director for the Center for Neural Dynamics at the Krasnow Institute for Advanced Study at the University.

David Stork (1979 M.S. and 1984 Ph.D. Physics, advisor David Falk) is an invited speaker at the "where Computer Vision Meets Art" workshop at the European Conference on Computer Vision ECCV 2012, October 7-13, Firenze, Italy. Stork is Head Scientist at Rambus Labs where he spearheads the development of their computational sensing and imaging initiative.

Cameron K. Weiffenbach (1968 M.S. Chemistry) is an intellectual property lawyer at Miles & Stockbridge, Washington DC metropolitan area. Prior to joining the company, he served as Counsel in McDermott Will & Emery LLP's Washington, D.C. office and was a member of the firm's intellectual property, media and technology department. He held various positions during a more than 30-year career with the United States Patent and Trademark Office. Cameron served as an administrative patent judge at the Board of Patent Appeals and Interferences in the fields of chemical and biotechnology patent applications.