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CMNS News - June 2014

Vol. 4, No. 6 June 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:


The following CMNS faculty members have been promoted, effective July 1:

  • Paulo Bedaque, Professor, Physics. Research interests: lattice field theory and quantum chromodynamics.
  • Ramani Duraiswami, Professor, Computer Science. Research interests: audio and computational acoustics, scientific and statistical computing, and computer vision.
  • Jeff Foster, Professor, Computer Science. Research interests: programming languages and software engineering.
  • Ki-Yong Kim, Associate Professor, Physics. Research interests: the intense, ultrafast laser interaction with atoms, molecules, solids and plasmas.
  • Vincent Lee, Associate Professor, Cell Biology and Molecular Genetics. Research interests: host-pathogen interactions of Pseudomonas aeruginosa, an opportunistic pathogen.
  • Wolfgang Losert, Professor, Physics. Research interests: the dynamic properties of complex systems at the convergence of physics, materials science and biology.
  • Kevin McIver, Professor, Cell Biology and Molecular Genetics. Research interests: molecular mechanisms by which pathogens regulate their virulence repertoire in response to host signals.
  • Antoine Mellet, Professor, Mathematics. Research interests: the study of transport phenomena and the analysis of nonlinear partial differential equations of elliptic and parabolic types.
  • Karen Melnick, Associate Professor, Mathematics. Research interests: differential-geometric aspects of rigidity, Lorentz geometry and conformal pseudo-Riemannian geometry.
  • Garegin Papoian, Professor, Chemistry. Research interests: understanding complex biological phenomena based on fundamental physical and chemical principles, including DNA packing in cells and cellular cytoskeleton and motility.
  • Joshua Singer, Associate Professor, Biology. Research interests: understanding how the output of a neural circuit reflects the behaviors of the individual synapses and neurons that compose it.
  • Arpita Upadhyaya, Associate Professor, Physics. Research interests: understanding how cellular mechanics and physical forces enable a cell to sense and respond to its physical environment.
  • YuHuang Wang, Associate Professor, Chemistry. Research interests: new chemical and physical phenomena at the very small length scale and nanostructured interfaces.
  • Ning Zeng, Professor, Atmospheric and Oceanic Science. Research interests: climate change and climate variability on time scales ranging from seasonal-interannual to glacial-interglacial cycles.

The National Socio-Environmental Synthesis Center (SESYNC), funded through an NSF grant to the University of Maryland, seeks proposals by graduate student teams for independent synthesis research that brings together social and environmental data in novel ways to address critical socio-environmental research questions. Visit for complete details. Proposals must be submitted by July 30, 2014.


Sarah Eno (Physics) has been named a University of Maryland Distinguished Scholar-Teacher. Eno, a particle physics researcher on the CMS experiment at CERN's LHC, is a devoted educator who has served for the last two years as the Associate Chair for Graduate Education and established a physics lab staffed mostly by undergraduates, who learn how to build and operate photodetectors and gain priceless "real-world" experience.

Steve Rolston (Physics) has been chosen as the recipient of the Kirwan Undergraduate Education Award for 2014, in recognition of his outstanding achievement in engaging undergraduates (majors and non-majors alike) in science education, emphasizing its applicability and importance in everyday life. The prestigious award recognizes a faculty member who has made exceptional contributions to the quality of undergraduate education at the university.


Steven Anlage (Physics, JSI and Maryland NanoCenter), DOE-Chicago, $180,000, "Microscopic Investigation of Materials Limitations of Superconducting RF Cavities."

Ian Appelbaum (Physics, JSI and Maryland NanoCenter), NSF, $120,000, "Harmonic Detection of the Majorana Fermion in Narrow Bandgap InAsSb."

Shuvra Bhattacharyya (UMIACS and ECE), Maryland Procurement Office, $142,096, "Dynamic Dataflow Methods for Wireless Communication Systems."

Sandra Cerrai (Mathematics), NSF, $107,832, "Asymptotic Problems for Stochastic Partial Differential Equations."

James Gates and Sonali Shukla (Physics) with Andrew Elby (Education), NSF, $400,000, "Focus on Physics."

Thomas Haines (Mathematics), NSF, $284,000, "Integral Models and Endoscopy for Shimura Varieties with Deeper Level Structure."

Kayo Ide (AOSC, IPST and CSCAMM), NOAA, $1,000,000, "Observing System Simulation Experiments (OSSEs)."

Ki-Yong Kim (Physics and IREAP), DOE-Chicago, $150,000, "Generation, Imaging, and Control of Ultrafast Electrical Currents and Radiation."

David Mosser (Cell Biology & Molecular Genetics), MedImmune, $575,250, "Identifying Regulatory Macrophages during Inflammatory Diseases."

Ricardo Nochetto (Mathematics), NSF, $198,126, "Nonlinear Multiscale Phenomena: Analysis, Control, and Computation."

Garegin Papoian (Chemistry & Biochemistry and IPST), NSF, $476,741, "Mechanochemistry of Actin Networks.

Surjalal Sharma (Astronomy), University of Maryland-Baltimore County, $185,700, "GPHI – Goddard Planetary Heliophysics Institute."

Peter Shawhan (Physics and JSI), NSF, $120,000, "Enabling Multi-messenger Astrophysics in the Advanced LIGO Era at JSI."

Nicholas Schmerr, Saswata Hier-Majumder and Vedran Lekic (Geology), NSF, $127,806, "Collaborative Research: Investigating the Nature of the Subcontinental Upper Mantle."

Lawrence Sita (Chemistry & Biochemistry), NSF, $517,000, "Catalytic Metal-mediated Small Molecule Fixation."

Aravind Srinivasan (Computer Science and UMIACS), NSF, $450,000, "Randomized Algorithms and Stochastic Models."

David Thirumalai (Chemistry & Biochemistry and IPST), NSF, $797,637, "Topics in Protein and RNA Folding Dynamics."

David Van Horn (Computer Science and UMIACS), University of Utah, $303,635, "Scalable and Precise Abstractions of Programs for Trustworthy Software."

Kai Yang (AOSC), NASA-Goddard Space Flight Center, $187,279, "Continuation of Long-term Sulfur Dioxide EDR with the NPP Ozone Mapping and Profiler Suite Nadir Mapper (OMPS)."


On June 9, at NASA's Wallops Flight Facility, an official agreement was signed into effect for the new Mid-Atlantic Coastal Resiliency Institute (MACRI): nine agencies and universities have agreed to partner together to help local and regional leaders make coastal communities more resilient to climate change. "At ESSIC we are very pleased to join with our colleagues at NASA Wallops and such a strong set of regional partners to tackle the challenges of resiliency in the mid-Atlantic," said Antonio Busalacchi (AOSC, Director ESSIC and Chair of the UMD Council on the Environment (ConE). ... Wallops is situated in a unique location with an equally unique set of observational resources that can be used to benefit the citizens of the region. We look forward to potential opportunities to collaborate under MACRI."

More than 200 people attended the day-long Maryland Cybersecurity Symposium on June 10 to explore the latest trends and best practices in cybersecurity research and education. The 3rd annual symposium joined faculty and students from the Maryland Cybersecurity Center (MC2) with experts from other academic institutions, the private sector, government agencies, and more.

Nine undergraduates from across the country are collaborating this summer with researchers in the Maryland Cybersecurity Center (MC2), working with MC2 faculty mentors and UMD graduate students on projects ranging from studying personal data collection to examining software crashes. The projects - spread out over nine weeks - are intended to teach students how to build team skills, organize their time and conduct research, culminating with a capstone symposium where the teams will give presentations on their activities and research results.

Leila de Floriani (UMIACS) has been appointed editor-in-chief of IEEE Transactions on Visualization and Computer Graphics (TVCG) – considered the foremost journal in the field. De Floriani will provide editorial oversight to the TVCG journal, which is published monthly and focuses on cutting-edge computer graphics and visualization techniques, systems, software, hardware, and user interface issues.

Sankar Das Sarma (Physics), Najib El-Sayed (Cell Biology & Molecular Genetics and UMIACS), Mihai Pop (Computer Science and UMIACS) and Jeremy Selengut (UMIACS), are included on Thomson Reuter's newly launched list of Highly Cited Researchers, a compilation of influential names in science. These researchers earned the distinction by writing the greatest numbers of reports officially designated by Essential Science Indicators as Highly Cited Papers—ranking among the top 1 percent most cited for their subject field and year of publication—between 2002 and 2012.

David Inouye (Biology) will be a lead author of an assessment of pollinators, pollination and food production for the United Nations' new Intergovernmental Science-Policy Platform on Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services (IPBES). Inouye will work with scientists from eight other countries on the report.

Jim Gates (Physics) was a panelist at the Cheltenham Festival (UK), June 7-8, when he and fellow panelists discussed "the big unanswered questions about the universe" and gave a talk on "the Nature of Reality." He gave a talk, The Future of the Universe" that evening at the Mathematical Institute, Oxford. On June 11, Gates was an invited speaker, "The ABEGHHK'tH Revolution," at the String-Math 2014 conference, held at the University of Alberta, Edmonton.

Astronomy graduate student Maggie McAdam won first place for her oral presentation at the Clay Mineral Society Meeting. McAdam spoke on the topic of "Spectral Trends in Aqueously Altered CM/CI Meteorites."

Victor Yakovenko (Physics and JQI) has been named, by a 2014-2015 Philip Merrill President Scholar in CMNS, the faculty mentor who has made the most impact on academic achievement. This highly selective program funded by the Philip Merrill family recognizes academic excellence of UMD students and the important role of their mentors. In addition to the seniors, the program also honors the UMD faculty and school teachers selected by the students themselves,


L. J. Alvarado, R. M. LeBlanc, A. P. Longhini, Kwaku Dayie (Chemistry & Biochemistry) et al., "Regio-Selective Chemical-Enzymatic Synthesis of Pyrimidine Nucleotides Facilitates RNA Structure and Dynamics Studies," ChemBioChem, Early online, June 20.

Shaon Chakrabarti, Michael Hinczewski and D. Thirumalai (Chemistry & Biochemistry and IPST), "Plasticity of hydrogen bond networks regulates mechanochemistry of cell adhesion complexes," PNAS, June 24.

C.G. Davis, Carter Hall, S. Slutsky and Y.R. Yen (Physics) et al., (The EXO-200 collaboration) "Search for Majorana neutrinos with the first two years of EXO-200 data," Nature, June 4.

Margaret K. Seeley-Fallen, Lisa J. Liu, Melanie R. Shapiro, Wenxia Song (Cell Biology & Molecular Genetics) , Arpita Upadhyaya (Physics and IPST) with colleagues from NIH, the Maryland Regional College of veterinary Medicine and Baylor College of Medicine, "Actin-binding protein 1 links B-cell antigen receptors to negative signaling pathways," PNAS, early edition.

Aaron Hagerstrom (Physics & IREAP), Thomas Murphy (IREAP and ECE), Rajarshi Roy (Physics, IPST and IREAP) with colleagues Louis Pecora (US Naval Research Laboratory) and Francesco Sorrentino (University of New Mexico), "Cluster synchronization and isolated desynchronization in complex networks with symmetries," Nature Communications, June 13.

Jack Hellerstedt, Jacob Tosado and Paul Syers (Physics graduate students), Johnpierre Paglione and Michael S. Fuhrer (Physics) with colleagues from Monash University, the Australian Synchroton (Victoria), La Trobe University (Australia) and NIST, "Air-Stable Electron Depletion of Bi2Se3 Using Molybdenum Trioxide into the Topological Regime," ACS Nano, June 9.

Jonathan Hoffman, Jeffrey Grover, Pablo Solano, P. R. Kordell, J. D. Wong-Campos, Luis Orozco, Steve Rolston (Physics, JQI and NIST) and S. Ravets (CNRS Universite Paris-Sud), Ultrahigh transmission optical nanofibers, AIP Advances, 4, 067124 (2014).

Nur Hasan and Anwar Huq (Maryland Pathogen Research Institute), Rita Colwell (Cell Biology & Molecular Genetics, UMIACS) with colleagues, "Occurrence in Mexico, 1998–2008, of Vibrio cholerae CTX+ El Tor carrying an additional truncated CTX prophage," PNAS, early edition.

Nicole LaRonde and Irene Kiburu (Chemistry & Biochemistry and UM Marlene & Stewart Greenbaum Cancer Center) et al., "Dominant Rio1 kinase/ATPase catalytic mutant induces trapping of late pre-40S biogenesis factors in 80S-like ribosomes," Nucleic Acids Research, Early online June 19.

Xiangying Meng and Patrick Kanold (Biology) with Joseph P.Y. Kao of the University of Maryland School of Medicine, "Differential Signaling to Subplate Neurons by Spatially Specific Silent Synapses in Developing Auditory Cortex," Journal of Neuroscience, June 25.

Joshua Schneider, Kanna Nakamura (Mathematics) and Dionisios Margetis (Mathematics, IPST, CSCAMM and Maryland NanoCenter), "Role of chemical potential in relaxation of faceted crystal structure," Physical Review E, June 19.

Mathieu Touboul and Richard Walker (Geology) with colleagues from Wilhelms-Universitat Munster and ETH Zurich, "Protracted core formation and rapid accretion of protoplanets," Science, June 6.

Ting Xu (Maryland NanoCenter and NIST) with Henri Lezec (NIST), "Visible-frequency asymmetric transmission devices incorporating a hyperbolic metamaterial," Nature Communications, June 17.


Research conducted by Laura Blecha (Astronomy) with colleagues Marion Dierickx and Abraham Loeb (Harvard) was the subject of a Nature News article, June 3. Their study simulated a compact dwarf galaxy, Messier 32, crossing the outer edge of Andromeda's disk, with the resultant collision creating Andromeda's spiral structure. Their paper, posted on arXiv, is due to appear in Astrophysical Journal Letters.

Computer Science graduate student Adam Bazinet was quoted in GenomeWeb, June 20, in a story on the, a UMD and University of Arizona computing service – a publicly available gateway for high-throughput, maximum likelihood phylogenetics analysis power by grid computing. is the collaborative work of Michael Cummings (Biology and UMIACS), Adam Bazinet; Derrick Zwickl (University of Arizona) and Charles Mitter (entomology).

Dennis Bodewits and Tony Farnham (Astronomy) were quoted in Astronomy Magazine, June 20, in a story on the comet Siding Spring and its close approach to Mars on October 19. Bodewits and Farnham used Swift's Ultraviolet/Optical Telescope to observe the comet and found it poses minimal danger to three spacecraft orbiting Mars (Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter, Mars Express and the Mars Atmosphere and Volatile EvolutioN). Media coverage included, CanIndia News, Space Daily, Science World Report, New Delhi TV and Space Ref.

The International Sun-Earth Explorer 3 (ISEE-3) was the subject of an article in the New York Times, June 15. One of the prime instruments on the spacecraft is the Ion Composition Instrument (ICI). As co-principal investigator, Michael Coplan (IPST) had the responsibility for the design, construction, assembly, calibration and integration of the ICI into the spacecraft. Coplan made final inspections of the instrument on the gantry before launch and attended the lift-off on August 18, 1978. The major components of the ICI were fabricated in the machine shop of IPST and the assembly and initial calibration were done in Coplan's laboratory with student participation. Tom Skillman (1978 M.S. Computer Science), a graduate student at the time, did much of the programming of the instrument under the supervision of NASA technicians.

Jennifer Golbeck (Computer Science and iSchool) was quoted in IT World, June 3, in an article on online data, social media and data mining.

Graduate student Jonathan Hoffman (Physics), who works in the lab of Steven Rolston and Luis Orozco (Physics and JQI), was quoted in Nature World News, June 18, in an article on their recently published paper in AIP Advances (see above). The researchers presented a procedure for making ultra-high transmission optical nanofibers. Media coverage included Photonics, Laboratory Online, The Herald and Nanotechnology Now.

Media coverage continues for Birdsnap, a free electronic field guide for identifying birds and developed by David Jacobs (Computer Science and UMIACS) with Peter Belhumeur (Columbia University). The app was developed using computer vision and machine learning to explore new ways of identifying bird species. Coverage included Scientific American, Daily Mail, Science Codex, OZY, EarthSky and the Audubon Magazine.

Ted Jacobson (Physics and JSI) was quoted in a June 18 Scientific American article on the theory of spacetime being a superfluid.

Jonathan Katz (Computer Science and UMIACS) was quoted in The Washington Times, June 12, in a story on protecting yourself from hackers. Katz, who is Director of the Maryland Cybersecurity Center, said "Criminals look around and try to find an insecure network. They'll go for the weakest link by scanning hundreds of commercial sites. You don't want to be one of the weak ones."

Brett Kent (Entomology) and his team of undergraduates were mentioned in a Washington Post article on Sharkfinder, June 11. Sharkfinder, a program aimed at finding fossil shark, skates and ray, allows middle and high school students and citizen scientists the opportunity to search through concentrated fossil-bearing media to find and report shark fossils. The fossils are then sent to Kent's lab for analysis, where his team determines whether or not the finds are actual fossils.

Undergraduate student Roger Lin (Biochemistry) was interviewed by the Baltimore Sun, June 9, on his planned August trip to Guatemala working with a nonprofit program, A Broader View. Lin will be helping at a medical center in Xela, the second largest Guatemalan city located in the Sierra Madres.

Computer Science graduate student Andrew Miller was quoted in Coin Desk, June 12, in a story on Permacoin – a modification to Bitcoin that repurposes its mining resources to achive a more broadly useful goal: distributed storage of archival data. The Permacoin project is led by Miller and includes Elaine Shi and Jonathan Katz (Computer Science and UMIACS), Ari Juels (cornell tech) and Bryan Parno (Microsoft Research). Additional media coverage included Register, New Scientist, WinBeta and Coin Telegraph.

Christopher Monroe (Physics and JQI) was quoted in a Nature/News article, June 15, about recently published research on building a worldwide network of atomic clocks. "... If you have more clocks in the network, it just makes it a better machine." On June 5, Monroe was quoted in a Photonics article on the pursuit for quantum computing. "A single atom is an easy quantum system to control ... but 1030 atoms connected is so big, it loses its 'quantum-ness' and behaves like a classical system."

Raghu Murtugudde (AOSC and ESSIC) contributed an article to LiveScience's Expert Voices: Op-Ed & Insights, June 11, on the human response to climate change. "... But human response to slowly unfolding emergencies — like climate change — may be akin to that of a frog in a pot of water being heated slowly." On June 18 he was quoted in The Hindu in an article on El Nino. "..We need to be able to forecast the monsoon without relying totally on the predictability of El Nino."

David O'Brochta (Entomology) published an article in Entomology Today, June 11, on recently reported research by Christina Schulte et al. on the creation of a honey bee containing a "foreign" gene.

Dennis Papadopoulos (Physics and Astronomy) was interviewed by the Voice of America, June 14 and by NPR, June 10, on the US Air Force shutting down the High Frequency Active Auroral Research Program (HAARP). "... They want to bulldoze it, which is really atrocious to me. It's like burning the Alexandria Library." Additional media coverage included NBC News, Scientific American and WABE 90.1.

Michael Raupp (Entomology) was interviewed by NPR, June 16, in a segment on U.S. Customs and Border Protection officers searching for invading species in imports of grain. David Ng (2001 B.S. Environmental Science and Policy), a Supervisory Agricultural Inspector, was also interviewed.

Steve Rolston (Physics and JQI) was interviewed by The Atlantic, June 4, for an article on the intelligence community's interest in quantum computing. "... Because of the laws of quantum mechanics, you can develop ways to communicate with people that are provably secure. It doesn't mean that people can't listen in, but it means you would be able to tell."

Philip Smyth (UMIACS) was quoted in the Wall Street Journal, June 17, in an article on ISIS. Smyth was the author of a policy brief for the Washington Institute for Near East Policy. "In sum, many of the Shiite Islamist forces fighting in Iraq operate as part of Iranian proxy groups that have been attached to ISF and Iraqi army units. Some even operate as a direct part of these official Iraqi military forces." Additional media coverage included The Guardian, Business Insider, Jerusalem Post and the Voice of America.

V.S. Subrahmanian (Computer Science and UMIACS) was interviewed for an article in Defense One, June 11, on tracking terrorist groups.

Kaci Thompson (Associate Director, HHMI Programs) was quoted in the HHMI Bulletin, Vol. 27, No. 2, in an article on "flipped" classrooms. "..There are some faculty who are very interested in adopting new things and jump in with both feet, and then there are some who are more hesitant. ... It's a coalition of the willing."

Dennis VanEngelsdorp (Entomology) was quoted in the Buffalo News, June 21, in an article on habitat loss contributing to the decline of bees. On June 16, he was quoted in The News & Observer (Raleigh) in a story on the use of an insecticide called neonicotinoids, and its affect on bee colonies. "The jury is still out." Other media coverage includes The Times and Democrat, The State, The Herald-Mail and the Press Herald.

Victor Yakovenko (Physics and JQI) described his econophysics work in the episode "Is Poverty Genetic?" of the TV series "Through the Wormhole with Morgan Freeman" on the Science Channel, June 4. See the schedule at


Please check your email inboxes in mid-July for a survey requesting your opinion on the college's Odyssey Magazine ( The web-based survey will improve the effectiveness of the magazine to better serve your needs. Thank you, in advance, for helping to make Odyssey Magazine even better.

T. Charles Clancy (2006 Ph.D. Computer Science, advisor Bill Arbaugh) is a member of the "Star Network" of Mach37, a Herndon-based incubation program for cyber-security companies. The network is made up of individuals who mentor startups in the program. Clancy, who is Director of Virginia Tech's Hume Center for National Security and Technology, co-founded Optio Labs, Federated Wireless and Stochastic Research.

Thuy Le (1995 Ph.D. Chemistry) was named one of 50 Woodrow Wilson New Jersey Teaching Fellows – a competitive program that attracts talented, committed individuals with backgrounds in the STEM fields into teaching in high-need New Jersey secondary schools. "... I found that, when teaching college courses, we don't really prepare high school students to be successful in science and technology classes in college."

Willie May (1977 Ph.D. Chemistry) has been appointed Acting Director of NIST as of June 13. In his most recent position as associate director for laboratory programs, May was responsible for the operations of NIST's 7 laboratories.

Brent Tully (1972 Ph.D. Astronomy) was awarded the 2014 Gruber Foundation Cosmology Prize. This prize honors leading cosmologists, astronomers, astrophysicists or scientific philosophers for theoretical, analytical, conceptual or observational discoveries leading to advances in understanding the universe. The prize will be presented to Tully and his co-winners on October 1 at Yale University.



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. Norma Andrews, 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. Rajarshi Roy, Director
IREAP – Dr. Thomas Murphy, Director
MPRI – Dr. David Mosser, Director
SESYNC – Dr. Margaret Palmer, Director
UMIACS – Dr. Amitabh Varshney, Director