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CMNS News - February 2014

Vol. 4, No. 2 February 2014
The College of Computer, Mathematical, and Natural Sciences
Jayanth Banavar, Dean Mary Kearney, Editor

Honors and Awards:
What's New:
Journal Articles:
In the News:
Alumni News:


Christopher Jarzynski (Chemistry & Biochemistry and IPST) has been named the Director of IPST, effective July 1, 2014. "He brings to the position an exceptionally distinguished scientific career and a broad understanding of science and technology," said Dr. Rajarshi Roy, current IPST director.

Pi Month Celebration and Circle of Discovery Award Presentation
Tuesday, March 11, 2014, 11:30am-12:30pm
Math Colloquium Room
Dilip Madan, University of Maryland Alumnus (Economics Ph.D. '71, Mathematics Ph.D. '75) and Professor of Finance at the Robert H. Smith School of Business will speak on the importance of mathematics in business and finance.

The DC Regional Innovation Corps (I-Corps) program is now accepting university research teams from the DC, MD, and VA area for the 5-week Lean LaunchPad, technology commercialization and customer development workshop beginning March 24th. UMD is the lead institution running the NSF-funded program, and as such, teams from UMD will be given priority in this program. Interested teams can learn more and apply at Feel free to contact or (240) 319-9594 if you have any questions.


Biology undergraduate student Andre DeSouza, mentored by Ricardo Araneda (Biology), has received a 2014 Howard Hughes Medical Institute (HHMI) Exceptional Research Opportunities Program (EXROP) award. DeSouza will be working with Dr. Richard Axel at Columbia University, who received the Nobel Prize for Physiology and Medicine in 2004. The program links the resources of HHMI's Science and Science Education departments to provide bright, motivated undergraduate students and groups traditionally underrepresented in the sciences with outstanding summer research experiences.

Computer Science Graduate students Snigdha Chaturvedi (advisor Hal Daume) and Kotaro Hara (advisor Jon Froehlich) have been awarded 2014 IBM Ph.D. Fellowships. These fellowships honor exceptional students worldwide who "have an interest in solving problems that are important to IBM and fundamental to innovation." Chaturvedi's research areas of interest include Machine Learning, Data Mining, and Information Abstraction, while Hara's research focuses on Human Computer Interaction and using crowd-sourcing to solve accessibility issues.

Catherine Fenseleau is the recipient of the 2014 Eastern Analytical Symposium Award for Outstanding Achievements in Mass Spectrometry. "...Her contributions to mass spectrometry and its biomedical applications have been recognized by awards from the American Chemical Society, the International Mass Spectrometry Foundation, the American Society for Mass Spectrometry, the Eastern Analytical Symposium, the Pittsburg Conference, American Society for Pharmacology and Experimental Therapeutics, Human Proteome Organization and others."

James Gates (Physics) was chosen, by the students and faculty of the Harvard Foundation, to receive the 2014 Scientist of the Year Award. The award, recognizing internationally noted scientists for their remarkable scientific achievements and for promoting initiatives that serve to increase diversity in all areas of science, engineering and mathematics, will be presented on March 28 by the President of Harvard University, the dean of Harvard College and the director of the Harvard Foundation.

Computer Science Graduate student Rajiv Jain, along with co-authors Douglas Oard (UMIACS and ISchool) and David Doermann (Computer Science and UMIACS), were awarded the Best Student Paper Award at the 21st Document Recognition and Retrieval Conference, February 5-6, for their paper "Scalable ranked retrieval using document images".

Jimmy Lin (UMIACS and iSchool) has been awarded the University System of Maryland (USM) Board of Regents 2014 Faculty Award for Research, Scholarship and Creative Activity, for his early research on question answering and later applications to the clinical domain at the National Library of Medicine (NLM). More recently, as part of his sabbatical at Twitter, he has contributed to production services designed to surface relevant content to users (e.g., search and recommendations) as well as analytics infrastructure to support data science on petabytes of data.

Elaine Shi (Computer Science and UMIACS) has been awarded a Sloan Research Fellowship for 2014. Granted by the Alfred P. Sloan Foundation, the award identifies 126 early-career scientists based on their potential to contribute fundamentally significant research to a wider academic community. Shi, whose research is focused on oblivious computation and integrates cryptography, compilers, and hardware for secure cloud-based computation, is also affiliated with the Maryland Cybersecurity Center.

Anne Simon (Cell Biology & Molecular Genetics) has been elected a Fellow of the American Academy of Microbiology. The 2014 Fellows, elected in recognition of their records of scientific achievement and original contributions that have advanced microbiology, will be recognized during the 114th ASM General Meeting in Boston, MA, May 20.

Biology Graduate student Richard Smith (advisor Ricardo Araneda) has been awarded a position with the USA delegation (less than 10 spots for USA grad students), sponsored by MARS corporation and ORAU, to attend the 64th Lindau Nobel Laureate Meeting, Lindau, Germany, June 2014. 30-40 Nobel Laureates are expected to meet with around 600 young researchers to share their knowledge, establish new contacts and discuss relevant topics such as global health, the challenges to medical care in developing countries or future research approaches to medicine. More information at
James Yorke (Mathematics and IPST) received an honorary Ph.D. from the Universidad Rey Juan Carlos, Madrid, February 3, as " of the most prominent in the field of physics and the man who coined the term 'Chaos Theory' in the international scientific literature."


Bob Adler (ESSIC), NASA-Goddard Space Flight Center, $120,380 in additional funding bringing the total award to $245,380, "A TRMM/GPM Composite Climatology of Surface Precipitation."

David Blough (Chemistry & Biochemistry) and Rossana Del Vecchio (ESSIC), NSF, $500,441, "Relating the Optical Properties of CDOM within the Ocean Basins to Source and Structure."

Antonio Busalacchi (AOSC and ESSIC), NASA-Goddard Space Flight Center, $334,835 in additional funding bringing the total award to $9,344,034, "Collaborative Earth System Science Research between NASA/GSFC and UMCP."

Caren Chang (Cell Biology & Molecular Genetics), NSF, $251,926 in additional funding bringing the total award to $507,187, "Molecular Genetic Dissection of Calcium Signaling in Plants."

Richard Greene, Ichiro Takeuchi and Johnpierre Paglione (Physics and Maryland NanoCenter), Air Force Office of Scientific Research, $650,000 in additional funding bringing the total award to $5,250,000, "Empirical Search for New Superconductors."

Christopher Hain (ESSIC), NASA-Goddard Space Flight Center, $128,335, "Linking Remote Sensing Data and Energy Balance Models for a Scalable Agricultural Insurance System for Sub-Saharan Africa."

Patrick Kanold (Biology), NIH-National Institute of Deafness and Other Communication Disorders, $321,480, "Neuronal Circuits and Plasticity of Neonatal Auditory Cortex."

Katrina MacLeod (Biology), NIH-National Institute of Deafness and Other Communication Disorders, $357,366 in additional funding bringing the total award to $1,722,294 "Neural Mechanisms of Sound Intensity Coding."

David Mosser and Najib El-Sayed (Cell Biology & Molecular Genetics), NIH-National Institute of General Medical Sciences, $259,920 in additional funding bringing the total award to $548,720, "Regulatory Macrophages and the Host Inflammatory Response."

Lee Mundy (Astronomy), NASA-Goddard Space Flight Center, $355,132 in additional funding bringing the total award to $30,850,041, "The Goddard Center for Research and Exploration in Space Science and Technology."

William Phillips (Physics, JQI, IPST and NIST) and Gretchen Campbell (JQI and NIST), Office of Naval Research, $150,000 in additional funding bringing the total award to $166,000, "Applications of Cold, Quantum-degenerate Atomic Gases."

Amitabh Varshney (Computer Science and UMIACS), Maryland Procurement Office, $1,972,997, "E-VERIFY: LTS DO 0010: the Joint Center for Quantum Information and Computer Science (QISC)."

Wade Winkler (Cell Biology & Molecular Genetics), NSF, $223,401 in additional funding bringing the total award to $836,309, "Investigation of Antitermination in Firmicutes."

Wenlu Zhu (Geology), NSF, $112,406 in additional funding bringing the total award to $429,535, "CAREER: Experimental Investigation of Failure Modes and Mechanics of Earthquakes."


The Physics Department was ranked 13th of the top 25 U.S. physics programs for "best return on investment" by . Only universities included in the Academic Ranking of World Universities top 25 ranking for physics were included in the list.

Biological Science's undergraduate and UMD women's soccer rising junior Rachelle Beanlands, with teammate Lauren Berman, were among the 48 student-athletes named to the All-ACC Academic Team. Beanlands started all 20 games in goal for the Terps in 2013 and earned four solo shutouts and shared two others.

Jonathan Dinman (Cell Biology & Molecular Genetics), with Towson-based Birich Technologies LLC, is one of 15 teams the Maryland Industrial Partnerships (MIPS) program named in their latest round of funding. Dinman and Birich Technologies will develop gene-silencing technology as both a research tool and potential cancer therapeutic.

Three faculty members from Chemistry & Biochemistry and IPST are invited speakers at the 2014 American Conference on Theoretical Chemistry (ACTC): Chris Jarzynski, Garegin Papoian and John Weeks. ACTC, held every 3 years since 1972, will be held in Telluride, CO, July 20-25. More info at:

Raghu Murtugudde (AOSC and ESSIC) is an invited speaker at the Neils Bohr Institute, University of Copenhagen's Summer School, "An Introduction to the Earth-Life System." The school, limited to 12 Ph.D. students in fields related to climate and biogeochemistry, will take place in Bornoe, Sweden, July 7-11.

Jan V. Sengers (IPST) gave an invited seminar on "Thermal Fluctuations in Nonequilibrium Thermodynamics" at the KULeuven in Belgium on February 19, 2014.


Jayanth Banavar (Physics), Todd Cooke (Cell Biology & Molecular Genetics) with colleagues from the Ecole Polytechnique de Lausanne and the Universita di Padova, "Form, function, and evolution of living organisms," PNAS, February 18.

Jayanth Banavar (Physics) with colleagues from the Ecole Polytechnique de Lausanne, Università di Trento, Universita di Padova and Princeton University, "Evolution and selection of river networks: Statics, dynamics, and complexity," PNAS, February 3.

Drake Deming (Astronomy) and Astronomy Graduate student Ashlee Wilkins et al., "The Emergent 1.1-1.7 Μm Spectrum of The Exoplanet Corot-2b as Measured Using the Hubble Space Telescope," The Astrophysical Journal, February 21.

Stephen Eckel, Jeffrey Lee, Fred Jendrzejewski, Charles Clark, Christopher Lobb, William Phillips and Gretchen Campbell (JQI and NIST) with colleagues from Georgia Southern University, "Hysteresis in a quantized superfluid 'atomtronic' circuit," Nature, February 13. The article was featured on the cover, which was designed by Emily Edwards (JQI).

Daniel Gruner (Entomology) et al., "Eutrophication weakens stabilizing effects of diversity in natural grasslands," Nature, February 16 .

Eric Haag (Biology), "The Same but Different: Worms Reveal the Pervasiveness of Developmental System Drift," PLOS Genetics (Perspective), February edition.

Patrick Kanold (Biology) Amal Isaiah (Kanold Lab and UM-Medical) and Biology Graduate student Adam Jones with colleagues at Johns Hopkins University, "Crossmodal Induction of Thalamocortical Potentiation Leads to Enhanced Information Processing in the Auditory Cortex," Neuron, February 5.

Jacek Klos (Chemistry & Biochemistry) with colleagues from the Institute of Physics, Nicolaus Copernicus University in Poland and the Weizmann Institute of Science, Israel "Observation of the isotope effect in sub-kelvin reactions," Nature Chemistry, Published online February 5.

Wolfgang Losert (Physics, IREAP and IPST) and Graduate student Chenlu Wang with colleagues from the NIH Center for Cancer Research, "Dictyostelium Cells Migrate Similarly on Surfaces of Varying Chemical Composition," PLOS One, February edition.

Roman Shcheerbakov (Astronomy and JSI), "The Properties and Fate of the Galactic Center G2 Cloud," The Astrophysical Journal, February 10.

Roman Shcheerbakov and Christopher Reynolds (Astronomy and JSI) with colleagues from the University of Alabama, "Modeling Hot Gas Flow in the Low-Luminosity Active Galactic Nucleus of Ngc 3115," The Astrophysical Journal, February 20.

Nicholas Schmerr (Geology) with colleagues from the University of California, Los Angeles, "Changes in Seismic Anisotropy Shed Light on the Nature of the Gutenberg Discontinuity," Sciencexpress, February 27.


Robert Adler (ESSIC) was quoted in Nature-News, February 25, in an article on the launch of the Global Precipitation Measurement (GPM) Core Observatory Satellite.

Dorothy Beckett (Chemistry & Biochemistry) was profiled in the February edition of the Biophysical Society Newsletter. "...I love the surprises that result from research, because they force me to think in ways that I could not have contemplated." Beckett is President of the Biophysical Society.
Gretchen Campbell (JQI and NIST) was quoted in Nature-News, February 12 , in an article on 'atomtronics.' "....Atomtronics has so far been largely theoretical, but it holds potential for developing entirely new quantum devices."

Bill Dorland (Physics and IREAP) was mentioned in The New Yorker article "A Star in a Bottle" March 3 edition. The article discussed the history, design and cost of the International Thermonuclear Experimental Reactor (ITER).

Ralph Ferraro (ESSIC) was interviewed by Space News, February 11, regarding the launch of the Global Precipitation Measurement (GPM) Core Observatory Satellite. With Ferraro, ESSIC faculty members Robert Adler and Christopher Kidd are principal investigators of the NASA Precipitation Measurement Missions (PMM), which conducts research in support of the NASA Tropical Rainfall Measuring Mission (TRMM) and GPM projects. The satellite was successfully launched from Japan on February 27, 2014.

Research conducted by Patrick Kanold (Biology) et al. and published in Neuron, February 5 (see Journal Articles above), was covered by the media, including Nature, BBC, Scientific American, USA Today and The Telegraph. Their research showed that the brains of adult mice can be re-wired to compensate for a temporary vision loss by improving their hearing.

William McDonough (Geology) was quoted in Science, February 7 edition, in an article on China building the Jiangmen Underground Neutrino Observatory (JUNO), with groundbreaking expected later this year and a completion date of 2019.

Christopher Monroe (Physics and JQI) was quoted in Time magazine, February 17, in an article entitled "The Quantum Quest for a Revolutionary Computer."

AOSC Undergraduate, Michael Natoli, was featured in the Harford County's online news source, "The Dagger," February 27. At the request of Harford County Emergency Operation Center Director, Natoli spent several hours at the Harford County Department of Emergency Services conducting meteorological projections for snowfall during the recent severe weather event.

Margaret Palmer (Entomology and SESYNC) was the subject of a Science (News Focus) article, "The Mountaintop Witness," February 7. The article discussed Palmer's work on the effects of mountaintop mining and the National Socio-environmental Synthesis Center (SESYNC).

Mike Raupp (Entomology) was interviewed by WTOP, February 22 and WJZ, February 25, on the effect of the polar vortex on stink bugs. "...One of the things we believe is that several of the southern species of pests that have penetrated our region over these very mild winters have gotten beaten back."

Ben Shneiderman (Computer Science and UMIACS) with Marc A. Smith (UCLA), Lee Rainie (Pew Research Center), and Itai Himelboim (University of Georgia) co-authored a report, published by the Pew Research Internet Project, on their 6-year effort with the free open-source network analysis and visualization tool NodeXL ( The study offers a topographical "map" of Twitter users, visually identifying six distinct structures in the social networking system's online discussions of a wide range of topics. Media coverage included PBS News Hour, Daily Mail, Tech Times, LiveScience, PC Magazine and Time. Shneiderman also published a letter in Science, February 14, entitled "The Big Picture for Big Data: Visualization and, in the February 7 edition, he reviewed the book "Medical Illuminations."

Thomas Snitch (UMIACS) was the author of an article in The Telegraph, February 13, on the illegal wildlife trade and the use of drones in the battle against poachers. "...Last year, 1,004 rhinos were killed in South Africa alone, and more than 25,000 elephants were killed by poachers across Africa." Snitch is Executive Officer of the UN Wildlife Enforcement Monitoring System, United Nations University, Tokyo.

Dennis vanEngelsdorp (Entomology) was interviewed by The Real News, February 14 on insecticides and the decreasing bee population. "...Generally I would argue that most homeowners do not need to use pesticides, herbicides, fungicides, or insecticides. I mean, why do we need the perfectly green lawn with no dandelions? Dandelions are an exciting addition to your lawn. It makes it prettier. And it's pollinator-friendly. It helps bees out."

James Yorke (Mathematics and IPST) was profiled in Tendencias Cientificas" February 24, on being awarded an honorary Ph.D. from the Universidad Rey Juan Carlos, Madrid. Coverage included a 4-minute segment by Spanish National TV featuring Yorke on chaos, emphasizing his double pendulum, the weather and stock market. He was also interviewed by Ciencia xplora, a Spanish TV channel.


On February 18 the University of Maryland was the victim of a sophisticated computer security attack that exposed records containing personal information. That database contained 309,079 records of faculty, staff, students and affiliated personnel from the College Park and Shady Grove campuses who have been issued a University ID since 1998. . If you have any questions, please contact us at Updates will be posted to this website:

Bay Area Alumni Networking Reception
March 20, 6:30pm-9:00pm
Computer History Museum, Mountain View, CA
Speaker: Shayan Zadeh 2002 M.S. Computer Science, Co-Founder and CEO of Zoosk, Inc.
For information and to RSVP go to:

Three (3) CMNS alumni were awarded 2014 Sloan Fellowships. These two-year fellowships are awarded yearly to 126 researchers in recognition of distinguished performance and a unique potential to make substantial contributions to their field.

• Kristopher Karnauskas (2007 Ph.D. AOSC, advisor Tony Busalacchi), Massachusetts Institute of Technology/Woods Hole Oceanographic Institute,

• Benjamin Langmead (2009 MS, 2012 Ph.D. Computer Science, advisor Steven Salzberg), Johns Hopkins University, and

• Jared Speck (2002 B.S. Mathematics), MIT, Math,

Squarespace Inc., founded by alumnus Anthony Casalena (2005 B.S. Computer Science) ran its first Super Bowl advertisement titled, "A Better Web Awaits," to broadcast the company's mission to a broader audience. On February 15 The Oregonian reported that Squarespace had chosen Portland for a customer-service office, opening in the spring, with plans to hire dozens of employees in 2014 and hundreds within the next few years.

Oculus VR, a company led in part by three UMD alumni, Chief Software Architect Michael Antonov (2001 B.S. Computer Science), the late Andrew Reisse (2001 B.S. Computer Science and Mathematics) and Chief Executive Officer Brendan Iribe, won the 2014 Tech Crunch "Crunchie" award for Best Hardware Startup of the Year.

Leif Ellingson (2007 B.S. Mathematics) will be awarded a Texas Tech Alumni Association New Faculty Award for 2014 at the Texas Tech University Faculty Honors Convocation, April 22, 2014. Criteria for the award include a maximum of four years total as faculty member, student evaluations, innovative teaching activities, initiation of research creative activities, and interaction with students. Ellingson earned his Ph.D. in statistics from Florida State University in 2011.

V. Raymond Ferrara (1970 B.S. Zoology) has been named the new Chair of the Board of Directors for Certified Financial Planner Board of Standards, Inc. Currently president and CEO of ProVise Management Group, Ferrara has served on the Board of Directors of Eckerd Youth Alternatives, West Central Florida Council Boy Scouts of America and the University of Maryland Foundation. He is the recipient of the Lifetime Achievement Award from the Tampa Bay Financial Planning Association.

Matthew Knight (2008 Ph.D. Astronomy, advisor Michael A'Hearn) was quoted in the article Astronomy: Death of a comet, Nature (News Feature), February 19 discussing the fate of comet ISON. As the comet approached the Sun, it surprisingly shattered. Some explanations for this include the small size and the Oort cloud origin of ISON. Knight was at Kitt Peak in Arizona to view ISON the morning of close approach when he realized that the comet would not survive passing the Sun.

Chris Moore (2011 Ph.D. MEES, advisor Mark Castro), with colleagues, published an article in Nature, February 6, "Convective forcing of mercury and ozone in the Arctic boundary layer induced by leads in sea ice." Moore, who was profiled subsequently in the Parkersburg News and Sentinel, February 16, is an Assistant Research Professor, Division of Atmospheric Sciences, Desert Research Institute, Reno, Nevada.

Joseph Naft (1992 B.S. Computer Science) has been named Director of the University's Maryland Industrial Partnership Program (MIPS). MIPS, a program of the Maryland Technology Enterprise Institute, accelerates innovation in Maryland by funding collaborative R&D projects between companies and the University System of Maryland faculty, bringing technology programs closer to market.

Kartik Sheth (1997 M.S. and 2001 Ph.D. Astronomy, advisor Stuart Vogel) was quoted in the Huffington Post, February 24 in an article on a recent report on how the Milky Way Galaxy got its spiral shape. Sheth, who was not involved in the research, is quoted as calling the research "...another useful piece of information in understanding the detailed assembly of [galactic] disks." At UMD, Sheth was a volunteer for the Office of Human Relations and has continued to work on diversity and equity issues, publishing an article in the November 21 edition of Nature (Careers) entitled "The Grey Zone of Ethics."

Donald Welch (1998 Ph.D. Computer Science, advisor Jim Purtilo) has been reappointed to the Michigan "State 9-1-1 Committee" by Governor Rick Snyder. The committee promotes the successful development, implementation and operation of 911 systems throughout Michigan. Welch is President and CEO of Merit Networks.




Astronomy Department – Dr. Stuart Vogel, Chair
Atmospheric and Oceanic Science Department – Dr. James Carton, Chair
Biology Department – Dr. Bill Fagan, Chair
CBMG Department – Dr. Norma Andrews, Chair
Chemistry & Biochemistry Department – Dr. Janice Reutt-Robey, Chair
Computer Science Department – Dr. Samir Khuller, Chair
Geology Department – Dr. Roberta Rudnick, Chair
Entomology Department– Dr. Leslie Pick, Chair
Mathematics Department – Dr. Scott Wolpert, Chair
Physics Department – Dr. Drew Baden, Chair
CSCAMM – Dr. Eitan Tadmor, Director
ESSIC – Dr. Tony Busalacchi, Director
IPST – Dr. Rajarshi Roy, Director
IREAP – Dr. Thomas Murphy, Director
MPRI – Dr. David Mosser, Director
SESYNC – Dr. Margaret Palmer, Director
UMIACS – Dr. Amitabh Varshney, Director