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CMNS News - February 2015


Vol.5, No. 2         February 2015
The College of Computer, Mathematical, and Natural Sciences
Jayanth Banavar, Dean                  Mary Kearney, Editor


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



CMNS Pi Day celebration
Tuesday, March 10, 1:00-2:00pm
Yorke Rotunda of the Mathematics Building
Along with the pies, we’ll have a recitation of the numerals of Pi in honor of this noteworthy year: 3.1415…



Eugenie Clark, Professor Emerita of Biology and founder of the Mote Marine Laboratory in Southwest Florida, died on February 25 in Sarasota, Florida. Clark, known as the “shark lady,” earned her Ph.D. from New York University and joined the Zoology faculty at the University of Maryland in 1968, officially retiring in 1992. Returning to the Mote Lab in 2000 as Senior Scientist and Director Emerita, she continued the groundbreaking research she started 60 years ago. Read more about Clark here.  Art Popper (Biology) wrote a tribute to Clark and The National Geographic published a biography here.

Rex Snodgrass (1960 M.S. Physics, 1963 Ph.D. Physics) died on February 22 at his home in Asheville, NC. After graduation, Snodgrass, who earned his B.S. at Harvard College, spent a postdoctoral year at the Sorbonne, Paris. As an experimental physicist, he worked at the National Bureau of Standards, University of Connecticut, and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. He pursued learning all his life; after retirement he taught cosmology and physics classes at the College for Seniors at UNC Asheville.



Three faculty members and three alumni were awarded 2015 Sloan Fellowships, February 23. These two-year $50,000 fellowships are awarded annually to 126 researchers in recognition of distinguished performance and unique potential to make substantial contributions to their field.

  •  Jacob Bedrossian (Mathematics and CSCAMM). Bedrossian’s research focuses on stability and mixing in fluids and plasmas, and includes calculus of variations and pattern formation in solid mechanics, qualitative properties of Patlak-Keller-Segel models and its variants for the collective motion of microorganisms, and scientific computing with a focus on moving geometry and computational fluid dynamics.

  • Mohammad Hafezi (JQI, IREAP and ECE). Hafezi’s research interests include the theoretical and experimental investigation of strongly correlated systems and topological physics, nano-photonics and optomechanics, and hybrid quantum systems.

  • Vladimir Manucharyan (Physics and JQI). Manucharyan’s research interests include low-temperature experimental solid-state physics with an emphasis on making, measuring and manipulating superconductivity-based individual quantum systems.

  • Michael Schatz (2008 M.S. Computer Science, 2010 Ph.D. Computer Science, advisor Steven Salzberg), Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory, NY. Schatz applies quantitative insights to diverse problems, ranging from methods of assembling plant and animal genomes from raw DNA sequencing data to the analysis of large data sets generated in studies of people with diseases such as cancer and autism.

  • Andrew Snowden (2004 B.S. Mathematics), Department of Mathematics, University of Michigan. Snowden earned his Ph.D. from Princeton in 2009 under Andrew Wiles who proved Fermant’s Last Theorem.

  • Cole Trapnell (2005 B.S. Mathematics and Computer Science, 2010 Ph.D. Computer Science, advisor Steven Salzberg), Department of Genome Sciences, University of Washington. Trapnell studies cell differentiation, reprogramming and cell-cell communication and develops technologies to help identify genes that regulate these processes.

Mikhail Anisimov (IPST) and Michael Raupp (Entomology) have been selected to receive 2015 University System of Maryland (USM) Regents’ Faculty Awards, for Excellence in Scholarship, Research, or Creative Activity and for Excellence in Public Service respectively. This is the highest honor that the University System of Maryland Board of Regents bestows to recognize exemplary faculty achievement. 

Undergraduate students Shannon Kirby (General Biology), Lakshmi Kirkire (Cell Biology & Genetics and Spanish), Jenifer Mallinoff (Environmental Science and Policy, concentration in Wildlife Ecology and Management) and Aaron Solomon (Cellular Biology & Genetics, minor in Computing Science) were selected to receive the Cory Undergraduate Scholarship award for the Spring 2015 semester. The scholarship was established by friends and family of Ernest N. Cory, who served as head of the Department of Entomology and Zoology from 1914-1956.

Catherine Plaisant (UMIACS) was elected to the Association for Computing Machinery Special Interest Group on Computer-Human Interaction (ACM-SIGCHI) Academy for her pioneering work in human-computer interaction and information visualization. 

Chemistry & Biochemistry graduate student Huong Vu, with co-authors Shaon Chakrabarti, Michael Hinczewski and Dave Thirumalai, received a Student Research Achievement Award for his poster “Effect of Force and Discrete Step-size on the Velocity Distribution of Processive Molecular Motors” at the 59th Annual Meeting of the Biophysical Society, February 7-11.



Bob Adler, Guojun Gu, Huan Wu and Martina Ricko (ESSIC), NASA-Goddard Space Flight Center, $165,770, “Global Variations of Extreme Precipitation, Floods, and Landslides.”

Drake Deming (Astronomy), NASA-Goddard Space Flight Center, $112,406, “Optimal Observational Diagnostics for Transiting Exoplanetary Atmospheres.”

Philip Johnson and Bill Fagan (Biology), NIH, $249,000, “Population Genetic Inference from the Adaptive Immune System.”

Thomas Kocher (Biology), USDA-National Institute of Food and Agriculture, $270,000, “Closing the Tilapia Genome Assembly.”

Nicholas Schmerr (Geology), NSF, $160,435, “Collaborative Research:  Detecting Seismic Anistropy in the Upper Mantle and Upper Mantle Transition Zone.”

YuHuang Wang and Morihiro Okada (Chemistry & Biochemistry), DOE-Advanced Research Projects Agency-Energy, $474,597, “Melt Epitaxy of Carbon; A Silicon-inspired Approach to Next-generation Electrical Wires.”

Wade Winkler (Cell Biology & Molecular Genetics), University of Texas-Health Science Center at Houston, $177,520, “Post-initiation Regulatory Mechanisms Controlling Ethanolamine Utilization.”



Steven Anlage (Physics) is co-organizing a conference in honor of his late colleague, Richard Prange (Physics), entitled “Quantum Correlated Matter and Chaos: A workshop in Honor of the Life and Work of Richard Prange.”  The conference will be held at the Max Planck Institute for the Physics of Complex Systems in Dresden, Germany, June 2015. Anlage is organizing the conference with two former Prange colleagues, Shmuel Fishman (Technion) and Günter Radons (TU Chemnitz). In addition to assistance from the Max Planck Society, they have obtained funding from ONR Global to support the meeting. Further information is available on the conference web site:

Rita Colwell (UMIACS) has been appointed to lead a review of Smithsonian ethics and disclosure policies governing the conduct of sponsored research and publication to ensure they meet the highest standards. Colwell is past director of the National Science Foundation, a member of the National Academy of Sciences, and a past member of the Smithsonian’s National Museum of Natural History’s advisory board.

Ted Einstein (Physics) wrote an invited review chapter “Equilibrium Shape of Crystals,” published in Handbook of Crystal Growth, Fundamentals, 2nd ed., edited by T. Nishinaga (Elsevier, Amsterdam, 2014), Vol. 1A (Thermodynamics and Kinetics), chapter 5. A reformatted version appears at arXiv 1501.02213.

Jack Minker (Computer Science and UMIACS) recently contributed an invited chapter to the “Handbook of the History on Logic, Volume 9, Computational Logic.”  The chapter, co-authored with Dietmar Seipel (University of Würzburg) and Carlo Zaniolo (UCLA), provides a detailed history of deduction in databases, beginning with its inception in the late 1950s. This includes syntax, semantics, implementations and applications.

Peter Shawhan (Physics and JSI) was an invited speaker at the Third Annual Symposium of the Innovative Area on Multi-messenger Study of Gravitational Wave Sources, in Hiroshima, Japan, February 19-21. He spoke about LIGO/Virgo plans for gravitational wave observations and rapid alerts.

Jacob Taylor, Stephen Jordan and Carl Williams (JQI,Joint Center for Quantum Information and NIST) are part of a study group that recently authored a report identifying challenges in quantum information science (QIS), particle physics and computing. The group was charged to identify grand challenges, opportunities and gaps in research at the intersections of QIS, particle physics, and computing, including exploiting quantum systems, probing innovative future technologies, and using QIS as a window to the universe.

Dennis vanEngelsdorp (Entomology) is featured in the short film “The Collectors:  Beekeeping,” which was screened at the 2015 Sundance Film Festival, January 22-February 1, Park City, Utah.



Andriy Anishkin (Biology) et al., “Major diversification of voltage-gated K+ channels occurred in ancestral parahoxozoans,” PNAS, February 17.

Hailong Bai and Laurent Montési (Geology), “Slip-rate-dependent melt extraction at oceanic transform faults,” Geochemistry, Geophysics, Geosystems, February 6.

Sindhuja Devanapally, Snusha Ravikumar and Antony Jose (Cell Biology & Molecular Genetics), “Double-stranded RNA made in C. elegans neurons can enter the germline and cause transgenerational gene silencing,” PNAS, February 17.

James Drake (Physics, IPST and IREAP) et al., “Magnetized jets driven by the sun: the structure of the heliosphere revisited,” The Astrophysical Journal, February 19.

Melodie French (Geology) et al., “Micromechanisms of creep in clay-rich gouge from the Central Deforming Zone of the San Andreas Fault,” Journal of Geophysical Research: Solid Earth, February 9.

David Harris (Mathematics) et al., “A new method for estimating species age supports the co-existence of malaria parasites and their mammalian hosts,” Molecular Biology and Evolution, February 18.

Kristina Hopkins (SeSYNC) et al., “Assessment of Regional Variation in Streamflow Responses to Urbanization and the Persistence of Physiography,” Environmental Science & Technology, February 9.

Anwar Huq (Maryland Pathogen Research Institute) and Rita Colwell (UMIACS) et al., “Diagnostic approach for monitoring hydroclimatic conditions related to emergence of West Nile virus in West Virginia,” Frontiers in Public Health, February 12.

Joshua Isaacs (Physics) et al., “Systematic averaging interval effects on solar wind statistics,” Journal of Geophysical Research: Space Physics, February 21.

Madhura Joglekar (2014 Ph.D. Mathematics) and James Yorke (Mathematics, Physics and IPST), “Robustness of periodic orbits in the presence of noise,” Nonlinearity, February 4.

William Lau (ESSIC) et al., “Robust Hadley Circulation changes and increasing global dryness due to CO2 warming from CMIP5 model projections,” PNAS, February 23.

Chengxi Ye (Computer Science) et al., “Network analysis suggests a potentially ‘evil’ alliance of opportunistic pathogens inhibited by a cooperative network in human milk bacterial communities,” Nature Scientific Reports, February 5.

Hongbin Yu (ESSIC and NASA) et al., “The fertilizing role of african dust in the amazon rainforest: a first multiyear assessment based on CALIPSO lidar observations,” Geophysical Research Letters, February 24.



Satindar Bhagat (Physics) was mentioned in the Greater Kashmir, February 3, in an article on fighting corruption with the zero rupee note: an idea conceived by Bhagat in response to bribery demands.

Michael Boylan-Kolchin (Astronomy and JSI) was quoted in an article in New Scientist, February 19, on recently published research observing galactic halos with scattered light. “…Since we haven't yet detected dark matter directly, it's important to constrain its properties in as many ways as possible."

James Drake (Physics, IPST and IREAP) was quoted in Nanowerk, February 19, in an article on recently published research (see Journal Articles) suggesting that the sun’s magnetic field controls the large-scale shape of the heliosphere much more than expected. “…So imagine you wrap your toothpaste tube very tightly with a lot of rubber bands, and they will squeeze the toothpaste out the end of your tube."  Media coverage included Business Standard and

Physics graduate student David Hucul was interviewed on NPR, January 30, for a segment on quantum entanglement.

Vanessa Frias-Martinez (Computer Science) and Paul Torrens (UMIACS and Geography) were quoted in Scientific Computing, February 6, in an article on Big Data, snow and transportation decisions made by individuals. “…By carefully analyzing sets of big data, we can build realistic motifs of neighborhoods and behaviors, while also protecting the privacy of the individual pieces of data that contributed to those motifs.”  The story was picked up by The Irish Times, February 16.

Keryn Gedan (Biology) was mentioned in The Frederick News-Post, February 13, in an article on students from the University of Maryland’s Partnership for Action Learning in Sustainability program presenting their recommendations for a more sustainable Frederick. Gedan guided some of the projects.

Research conducted by Anwar Huq (Maryland Pathogen Research Institute) and collaborator Rita Colwell (UMIACS) was featured in the NIH Fogarty International Center’s newsletter in an article titled Sari cloth can filter cholera from water, research show,” February edition. “…It doesn't require any money or sophisticated training and the women bringing water to the house enthusiastically used the filtration, once the benefit was explained to them." Five years later, a follow-up study showed about one-third of participants continued to filter water as trained.

Christopher Jarzynski (Chemistry & Biochemistry and IPST) wrote the commentary for Nature Physics-Insights, February 3, titled “Diverse phenomena, common themes.” The same issue of Nature Physics contains a research article co-authored by Kihwan Kim and Haitao Quan, former CMNS postdocs, on a trapped-ion experiment that tests a prediction made by Jarzynski. Kim, who worked with Chris Monroe (Physics) and Quan (who worked with Jarzynski) first met here at Maryland, and then met again in Beijing where they are faculty members at neighboring universities.

Jonathan Katz (Computer Science and Maryland Cybersecurity Center) was featured on Federal News Radio, February 6, discussing how cybercriminals carry out attacks. Katz spoke about the different ways hackers like Lizard Squad can penetrate an agency’s network.

William Lau (ESSIC) was quoted in the Los Angeles Times, February 23, in an article on recently published research (see Journal Articles) investigating changes in the Hadley Circulation and their connections to increased global dryness. “…We are finding the region of drying exactly coincides with the places where we are now seeing this worldwide drought and wildfire happening.”

Yuri Lima (Mathematics) was quoted in a Bloomberg Business article, February 11, about an interview with Tim Cook, CEO of Apple, and the ‘law of large numbers.’  “…If you keep flipping a coin and recording the results, you should get heads half the time and tails half the time […] this wouldn't generally apply to corporate earnings unless the results were truly random.”

Raghu Murtugudde (AOSC and ESSIC) was quoted in India Climate Dialogue, February 7, in an article on monsoons, variation in sunlight and climate change. “…There was a correlation between sunspot cycles and the Indian monsoon and some mechanistic hypothesis has been proposed. But the percentage of explained variance does not permit the discarding of climate change effects.”

Sidney Pierce (Biology emeritus) was quoted in The Washington Post, February 5, in an article on the sea slug, Elysia chloroctica, ‘stealing’ genes from the algae on which it feeds. The research was published in The Biological Bulletin, December issue. “…This is a naturally occurring example of gene therapy working perfectly. None of it should work, but here it does.” Media coverage included the Daily Mail and Discovery News.

Trey Porto (JQI) authored an article in Nature Physics, News and Views, February 16, discussing recently published research by Lin Xia et al. on quantum distillation.

Michael Raupp (Entomology) was interviewed by NBC, February 3, on traveling, bed bugs and bringing them home. “…If you want to make sure you're not bringing any bugs home, the first thing you should do after a trip is place your clothes in the dryer on medium heat for about 30 minutes.”  On February 19 he was interviewed by WTOP on the effects of our cold weather will have on gardens later this year.

Barbara Thorne (Entomology) authored a Pest Control Technology magazine article, February 26, on conehad termites which have invaded the Fort Lauderdale, Florida metropolitan area.

Research conducted by Hongbin Yu (ESSIC and NASA) et al. (see Journal Articles) was featured in the Los Angeles Times, February 24, in an article on African dust fertilizing the Amazon rainforest. “… If you don’t have this African dust transport to the Amazon, in 10 years, or in 100 years, the Amazon will have lost a lot of phosphorous.”  Media coverage included Discovery News, Huffington Post, The Weather Channel, Time and Wired.

Media coverage continues for Yezhou Yang, Cornelia Fermuller (UMIACS) and Yiannis Aloimonos (Computer Science and UMIACS) on their development of robotic systems that are able to teach themselves. The robots are able to learn the intricate grasping and manipulation movements required for cooking by watching online cooking videos. New coverage includes IEEE Spectrum, Live Science, National Monitor, Tech Times, The Independent, Voice of America, USA Today and the Washington Post.



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UMD Science Alumni Network Annual Meeting
Guest Speaker:  Jordan Goodman, Physics and JSI and 1973 B.S., 1975 M.S. and 1978 Ph.D. Physics
Date:  March 12, 2015
Location:  Physical Sciences Complex Lobby
To register, visit here.
All CMNS alumni are welcome to attend this free event.

Bay Area Terps - Annual Alumni Networking Reception
Featured Speaker:  Brendan Iribe, Co-Founder and CEO of Oculus VR
Date: March 19, 2015
Location:  Computer History Museum, Grand Hall, 1401 N. Shoreline Boulevard, Mountain View, CA
To register, visit
All Bay-area University of Maryland alumni are welcome to attend this free event.

Richard Dasheiff (1972 B.S. Physics) published an article in Science, February 20, titled “A Career’s Twisting Road.” Dasheiff, who earned his M.D. at the University of Maryland, Baltimore in 1976, is a neurologist in Dallas, TX.

Tanya Dastyar (2013 B.S. Computer Science) was part of a team of Microsoft researchers who built a new kind of tracking system to prevent special needs children from going missing and helping them if they do.  Called Lighthouse, the prototype won a first place award in 2014’s Global Startup Battle.

Marten denBoer (1976 M.S., 1979 Ph.D. Physics, adviser Robert Park) has been elected provost of DePaul University in Chicago by its board of trustees beginning July 1. Previously denBoer served as provost and vice president for Academic Affairs at California State Polytechnic University, Pomona.

Jason Green (2011 B.S. Biological Science) is founder and chief executive officer of Edenworks, an organization that is leading the urban agriculture movement in New York City. Using aquaponics technology, the organization grows the freshest food and fish possible on the roofs of New York City buildings and delivers to local restaurants and other food related businesses. Previously Green Jason engineered virtual reality rehabilitation systems for patients with brain damage.

Jordan Horowitz (2010 Ph.D. Physics, advisor Christopher Jarzynski) et al., published an article in Nature Physics, February 3. Horowitz is a Postdoctoral Research Fellow in the Department of Physics, University of Massachusetts-Boston.

Rebecca Kazim (1995 B.S. Biological Sciences) was quoted in Prevention, February edition, in an article on drinking aloe juice for improving the look of your skin. “…It probably doesn't directly affect your skin, but anything that improves your overall health could potentially improve your appearance.”

John Nance (2013 B.S. Geology) was lead author of the article “Preserved macroscopic polymeric sheets of shell-binding protein in the Middle Miocene (8 to 18 Ma) gastropod Ecphora” published in the inaugural issue of Geochemical Perspectives Letters, the new peer-reviewed journal of the European Association of Geochemistry, January 20. Nance, et al., have found “beautifully preserved” 15 million-year-old thin protein sheets in fossil shells from southern Maryland.

D.J. Patil (2001 Ph.D. Applied Mathematics, advisor James Yorke) has been appointed chief data scientist in residence for the White House, focusing on health care data. Patil will “…work on the Administration’s Precision Medicine Initiative, which focuses on utilizing advances in data and health care to provide clinicians with new tools, knowledge, and therapies to select which treatments will work best for which patients, while protecting patient privacy.” Media coverage included Computerworld, Federal News Radio, Gigaom and Wired. An informative video can be viewed here.

Paul Sekhri (1981 B.S. Zoology) has been appointed to the Board of Directors of Enumeral Biomedical Holdings, February 23. Sekhri is President and Chief Executive Officer and a member of the Board of Directors, Lycera Corporation. Previously he was Senior Vice President, Integrated Care at Sanofi, Group Executive Vice President at Teva Pharmaceutical Industries and was Operating Partner and Head of TPG Biotech.

After exhibiting at International CES, TalkLocal, founded by Gurpeet Singh (2003 B.S. Computer Science), Manpreet Singh (2003 B.S. Finance) and Amandeep Bakshi (2007 B.S. Electrical Engineering), has launched a new mobile app on iPhone and Android. The app features audio task descriptions, GPS for finding businesses nearby, and user profiles. See the press kit here. The company is located in College Park, MD.

Rakesh Vohra (1985 Ph.D. Applied Mathematics, advisor Saul Gass) was quoted in a BBC article, February 18, describing ‘game theory.’ “…Game theory revolutionised the study of economics."





Astronomy Department – Dr. Stuart Vogel, Chair
Atmospheric and Oceanic Science Department – Dr. James Carton, Chair
Biology Department – Dr. Bill Fagan, Chair
Cell Biology & Molecular Genetics Department – Dr. Jonathan Dinman, Chair
Chemistry & Biochemistry Department – Dr. Janice Reutt-Robey, Chair
Computer Science Department – Dr. Samir Khuller, Chair
Entomology Department– Dr. Leslie Pick, Chair
Geology Department – Dr. Roberta Rudnick, 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. Christopher Jarzynski, Director
IREAP – Dr. Thomas Murphy, Director
MPRI – Dr. David Mosser, Director
SESYNC – Dr. Margaret Palmer, Director
UMIACS – Dr. Amitabh Varshney, Director