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CMNS News - November 2013

Vol. 3, No. 12 November 2013
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:


On Wednesday, December 11, the University of Maryland will host Scholarship Day, the first-ever, 24-hour giving challenge to support student scholarships. The need is great. Without additional support, UMD students will face significant unmet financial need this year. Supporters can choose from 17 scholarship options, including schools and colleges and programs such as Student Veterans. On Scholarship Day, go to this site for real-time results and opportunities for additional funding:

Collaborative Research with SESYNC Postdocs: The National Socio-Environmental Synthesis Center (SESYNC) seeks Research Collaborators (PhD required) who are interested in mentoring incoming SESYNC Postdoctoral Fellows and co-developing socio-environmental synthesis research projects with them. Collaborators must have demonstrated expertise in the social, natural, or computational sciences with sufficient research experience to provide intellectual mentoring to Postdoctoral Fellows, and ideas suitable for research collaborations using synthesis methods (data integration, quantitative or qualitative analysis, modeling, etc.). We welcome Collaborators from universities, NGOs, government agencies, and other research institutions. Please visit complete details.


Two (2) CMNS faculty are among the 388 new Fellows named by the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS). New Fellows will be recognized on Saturday, 15 February, at the AAAS Fellows Forum during the 2014 AAAS Annual Meeting in Chicago, IL:

Lyle Isaacs (Chemistry & Biochemistry and Maryland NanoCenter) for distinguished contributions to supramolecular chemistry, particularly the development of cucurbit[n]uril molecular containers and self-sorting systems.

Ross Salawitch (AOSC, Chemistry & Biochemistry and ESSIC) for advancing our understanding of ozone chemistry and Earth's climate through harmonized measurements and models.

Millard Alexander (Chemistry & Biochemistry and IPST) has been selected to receive the Herschbach Medal (Theory) to be presented at the 2015 meeting on the Dynamics of Molecular Collisions. The award, named after the 1988 Chemistry Nobel Laureate, is for outstanding contributions to the field of molecular dynamics.

Computer Science undergraduate contestants Scott DellaTorre, Dylan Ladwig, Rizeng Zheng (Computer Science and Mathematics) and reserve member Ashton Webster, with coach Mohammad Hajiaghayi (Computer Science and UMIACS), placed 2nd at the ACM Mid-Atlantic Programming Contest, November 2, advancing to the 38th Annual World Finals of the ACM-International Collegiate Programming Contest, Ekaterinburg, Russia. The 2nd team from UMD, Melika Abolhasani, Anu Bandi, Milad Gholami and reserve member Alex Alberg, placed 9th. This year the Mid-Atlantic contest had 190 teams participating,

Rita Colwell (CBMG and UMIACS) has been awarded the 2013 Sigma Xi William Procter Prize for Scientific Achievement. The prize included a $5,000.00 grant for research to a young scientist of Colwell's choosing - Arlene Chen, a doctoral student in the CBCB, is the recipient. The Prize is awarded annually to a scientist who has made an outstanding contribution to scientific research and has demonstrated an ability to communicate the significance of this research to scientists in other disciplines. Colwell also received the Distinguished Service Award from the National Association of Biology Teachers, delivering the keynote address at their annual meeting in Atlanta, Georgia, November, 2013.

Dale Fixsen (Astronomy) has been awarded NASA-Goddard's Robert H. Goddard Honor Award for individual outstanding scientific achievement. The award recognizes his many accomplishments over the years as a member of Goddard's Observational Cosmology group.

Sydney Levitus and Rachel Pinker (AOSC) have been elected Fellows of the American Meteorological Society. Levitus was also named the recipient of the 2014 Verner E. Suomi Award for pioneering work in climate science by analyzing and computing the ocean's heat content and making oceanographic data readily available to the scientific community.

Francesco Tombesi (Astronomy) recently received an "Award Special Mention," Physics, Chemistry and Astrophysics section during the 2013 Italian Scientists and Scholars of North America Foundation (ISSNAF) award ceremony held at the Embassy of Italy. Tombesi, whose research interests are in the field of high energy astrophysics, made a 15 minutes presentation regarding his work.


Robert Adler, Guojun Gu and Yudong Tian (ESSIC), NASA-Goddard Space Flight Center, $150,000 in additional funding bringing the total amount to $846,360, "Uncertainties in Global and Regional Precipitation Using the GPCP and TMPA Data Sets."

James Carton (AOSC), NOAA, $110,000, "Development of a Local Ensemble Transform Kalman Filter for Ocean Data Assimilation at NCEP."

Rama Chellappa (UMIACS, ECE and Computer Science), John Benedetto (Mathematics) and Larry Davis (Computer Science and UMIACS), Rice University, $145,774 in additional funding bringing the total amount to $1,085,111, "MURI-Opportunistic Sensing for Object and Activity Recognition."

Wojciech Czaja, John Benedetto and Morgan McLean (Mathematics), Defense Threat Reduction Agency, $353,948 in additional funding bringing the total amount to $703,276, "Methodologies for Autonomous Radiological and Multi-mode Information Collection."

Jonathan Dinman (CBMG), George Mason University, $174,999 in additional funding bringing the total amount to $249,999, "Interactions of Alphaviruses with the Host microRNA Processing Machinery."

Sridhar Hannenhalli (CBMG and UMIACS), Kan Cao (CBMG) and Michelle Girvan (Physics, IPST and IREAP), Carnegie-Melon University, $150,062, "Algorithms for Managing Uncertainty in Chromosome Conformation Capture."

Bruce Kane (Physics and JQI), Maryland Procurement Office, $333,333 in additional funding bringing the total amount to $4,010,063, "E-VERIFY; Quantum Computing Research."

Alan Kaufman, Igor Puchtel and Roberta Rudnick (Geology), Arizona State University, $218,231, "FESD Type I: The Dynamics of Earth System Oxygenation."

Carlos Machado (Biology), University of Arizona, $132,483 in additional funding bringing the total amount to $411,625, "Oryza Genome Evolution."

Atif Memon (Computer Science and UMIACS), Air Force Research Laboratory, $123,939, "Specialized Binary Analysis for Vetting Android Apps Using GUI Logic."

Chris Monroe (Physics and JQI), Duke University, $246,940 in additional funding bringing the total amount to $1,893,731, "Modular Universal Scalable Ion-tap Quantum Computer (MusiQC)."

Donald Perlis (Computer Science and UMIACS), Dana Nau (Computer Science and ISR) and Michael Cox (UMIACS), Office of Naval Research, $150,000 in additional funding bringing the total amount to $615,000, "Self-tasking and Learning Under Crisis."

Mihai Pop (Computer Science and UMIACS), University of Pittsburgh, $124,991, "Pathogenesis of Obstruction/Emphysema and the Microbiome (POEM) in HIV."

James Purtilo (Computer Science), Office of Naval Research, $125,000 in additional funding bringing the total amount to $431,943, "Improved Cyber Security Via Decentralized Intrusion Detection and Dynamic Reconfiguration."

Elizabeth Quinlan (Biology), NIH-National Eye Institute, $292,448 in additional funding bringing the total amount to $983,958, "Synaptic Plasticity in Young Versus Ages Visual Cortex."

Eun-Suk Seo (Physics and IPST), NASA-Goddard Space Flight Center, $708,810 in additional funding bringing the total amount to $3,416,447, "Approaching the Cosmic Ray Knee with the CREAM Balloon-borne Experiment."

Aravind Srinivasan, Lise Getoor (Computer Science and UMIACS) and Jennifer Golbeck (Information Studies and UMIACS), Virginia Polytechnic Institute & State University, $411,937, "E-VERIFY: Learning and Predicting Ties in Social Networks."

Gregory Sullivan (Physics), University of Wisconsin-Madison, $171,740 in additional funding bringing the total amount to $735,484, "IceCube Neutrino Observatory Maintenance and Operations."

Arpita Upadhyaya (Physics and IPST), NSF, $117,857 in additional funding bringing the total amount to $382,545, "Collaborative Research: Regulation of Cellular Mechanics by Crosslinked Actin Networks."


UMD will launch a new research center focused on the study of a wide range of tobacco products and their impact on public health with approximately $19 million awarded to the university from the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and the National Institutes of Health (NIH). Computer Science and UMIACS faculty members Amitabh Varshney and Mihai Pop are members of an interdisciplinary research team working to provide "safe and rapid cleaning, analysis, storage and availability of the vast amounts of genomic and other data collected" by this research project. Varshney and Pop will leverage their expertise in High Performance Computing and Computation Biology to support a secure, interactive database for this data.

UMD is ranked fourth among the 14,384 research institutes worldwide participating in remote sensing research, according to a recent article in the journal Scientometrics. The University's performance is tied primarily to the strength of the Department of Atmospheric and Ocean Science (AOSC), the Earth System Science Interdisciplinary Center (ESSIC) and the Department of Geographical Sciences, which is housed in the College of Behavioral & Social Sciences. Their remote sensing efforts place an emphasis on interdisciplinary research, both internally and externally with government organizations and academic institutions around the world.

On Wednesday November 13, 2013, The Maryland Cybersecurity Center and the National CyberWatch Center hosted the "Annual Cool Careers in Cyber Security for Girls Workshop," where 300 middle school girls had the opportunity to work as investigators for a day by solving a cyber crime scenario. Trevea Brady, Software Engineer at Lockheed Martin, provided a keynote address where she discussed her educational experiences and offered advice for the girls as they pursue interests in STEM fields (science, technology, engineering and math). This event was organized by the Maryland Cybersecurity Center and the National CyberWatch Center, with support from Lockheed Martin and the National Science Foundation (NSF).

Norma Allewell (Cell Biology & Molecular Genetics) with co authors Linda Narhi (Amgen) and Ivan Rayment (University of Wisconsin-Madison) have published Molecular Biophysics for the Life Sciences, Springer. The book is a foundational volume in the Springer series Biophysics for the Life Sciences, edited by Norma Allewell. Other volumes in the series include Biophysical Approaches to Translational Control of Gene Expression (editor, J Dinman), Single Molecule Studies of Proteins (editor, A F Oberhauser), Biophysics of RNA Folding (editor, R Russell), and Biophysics for Therapeutic Drug Development (editor, L Narhi)

Steven Anlage (Physics and ECE) was the Zepler Institute International Lecture speaker, Optoelectronics Research Centre, University of Southampton, UK, on November 25, with a talk entitled "Superconducting Quantum Metamaterials." On November 21, he gave the talk "Nonlinear Time-Reversal in Wave Chaotic Systems," at the Theoretical Physics Colloquium, Institute for Theoretical Physics, Technical University of Dresden, Germany.

Phil Arkin (AOSC and ESSIC) and Guojun Gu (ESSIC) presented talks at the 6th International CLIVAR Climate of the 20th Century Workshop held in Melbourne, Australia, November 5-8. Arkin, who also served as chair of the day-2 Precipitation and Variations session, presented a talk entitled, "Centennial-scale Changes in Large-Scale Precipitation in Observations and Models." Gu's presentation was entitled, "Global Precipitation Change and Long-Term Climate Variability during the 1900-2010 Period."

Charon Birkett (ESSIC) gave two live webinars this month as part of the NASA Applied Remote Sensing Training (ARSET) program. The audiences were primarily from Asia and South America and included local agency officials, water resources managers, and students. The topic of interest was remote sensing of surface waters. The webinars were given with the aim of outreach, education and capacity building.

Antonio Busalacchi (AOSC and ESSIC) was among the invited attendees at a signing of an MOU between NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center and the State of Maryland. The event which was hosted at the NASA-GSFC Visitor Center, included participants Senator Barbara Mikulski, Governor Martin O'Malley and Goddard Center Director Chris Scolese. The MOU will pave the way in attracting high tech companies to Maryland that will be key in enabling both future missions of NASA and the economic future of Maryland.

Rita Colwell (CBMG and UMIACS) will chair the 9th Advisory Board, RIKEN, Japan. RIKEN is Japan's largest comprehensive research institution renowned for high-quality research in a diverse range of scientific disciplines.

Quickmailcheck, a company founded by Computer Science undergraduate student Sam Feldman, received the 2nd Place Award and the Audience Choice Award at the Dingman Center for Entrepreneurship's Pitch Dingman Competition. Feldman is CEO and Founder. The company provides a service that allows users to access their email via text message without the need for a smart phone interface or the Internet.

Charles Fenster (Biology) has been elected a Board Member of the American Institute of Biological Sciences (AIBS), effective January 1, 2014. AIBS provides the biological sciences community and various government and non-government clients with services and programs ranging from scientific peer-review of grant programs to various initiatives in undergraduate science education, science policy, and scientific communications, including publication of the highly regarded science journal BioScience.

David Inouye (Biology) was one of six invited speakers at the conference "Search for new paradigms of ecology for 21st Century," National Institute of Ecology (NIE), Seocheon, South Korea, November 22-23. The speakers, from Japan, China, Indonesia, Australia and the U.S.A., were asked to help plan future directions for research at the NIE. The event included a field trip to the DMZ, which is now an important conservation area. Inouye also presented a seminar for the Maryland Native Plant Society, October 29, about how native wildflowers are responding to climate change, based on his long-term research at the Rocky Mountain Biological Laboratory.

Chemistry & Biochemistry graduate student Fred Nytko was featured in a short video produced by Chemical & Engineering News (C&EN) on "Getting LinkedIn to a Job." C&EN followed Nytko for six months as he grew his professional network.

Catherine Plaisant, Ben Shneiderman (Computer Science and UMIACS) and their research team received a Distinguished Paper Award at the American Medical Informatics Association Conference in Washington D.C., November 20. The award was given to only 5 full-length research papers out of the 330+ papers submitted to the conference. The award winning paper is entitled "Twinlist: Novel User Interface Designs for Medication Reconciliation."

Three new books have been published in the Springer Handbook of Auditory Research, founded and edited by Arthur Popper (Biology). The series now has 49 volumes covering all aspects of hearing from basic science to clinical applications. The new volumes are entitled: Deafness, The Lateral Line System and Insights from Comparative Hearing Research.

Raymond St. Leger (Entomology) was an invited speaker at the 62nd Annual Meeting of the American Society of Tropical Medicine and Hygiene held in Washington, November 13-17. His talk was entitled "Using a fungus to combat malaria." He was also an invited speaker at the Workshop on Alternative Biological and Genetic Control Technologies for Malaria, organized by the Foundation for the National Institutes of Health in Washington DC, November 18.

Ellen Williams (Physics) has been nominated by President Barack Obama to head the Advanced Research Projects Agency Energy (ARPA-E), a branch of the Department of Energy that funds high-risk, high-pay-off research. Currently on leave from the University of Maryland in College Park, Williams has been chief scientist for oil-and-gas giant BP since 2010. From 1996 to 2009, she directed the University of Maryland Materials Research Science and Engineering Center.

Victor Yakovenko (Physics and JQI) was an invited speaker at the University of Waterloo, Canada where he talked about his econophysics research. He later participated in a workshop "Mathematics for New Economic Thinking" at the Fields Mathematics Institute, Toronto, Canada, October 31-November 2. The workshop was sponsored by the Institute for New Economics Thinking, of which Yakovenko is a grant recipient.


The IceCube Collaboration, which includes the UMD 12-person team led by Greg Sullivan (Physics), "Evidence for High-Energy Extraterrestrial Neutrinos at the IceCube Detector," Science, November 22.

Wai Lim Ku (Physics graduate student), Michelle Girvan (Physics, IREAP and IPST) and Edward Ott (Physics, IREAP and ECE) with colleagues from the Dana-Farber Cancer Institute and the University of New Mexico, "Modeling the Dynamics of Bivalent Histone Modifications," PLOS One, Vol. 8, Issue 11, November 2013.

Sang Bok Lee (Chemistry & Biochemistry) with colleagues from the Korea Advance Institute of Science and Technology and the University of California, Santa Barbara, "High Quality Reduced Graphene Oxide through Repairing with Multi-layered Graphene Ball nanostructures," Nature/Scientific Reports, November 19.

Ed Shaya (Astronomy) and alumnus R. Brent Tully (1972 Ph.D. Astronomy), "The Formation of Local Group Planes of Galaxies," Monthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society, October 23.

Jeffrey Sosa-Calvo (Entomology graduate student, advisor Charles Mitter) with colleagues, "Cyatta abscondita: Taxonomy, Evolution, and Natural History of a New Fungus-farming Ant Genus from Brazil," PLOS One, Vol. 8, Issue 11, November 2013.


Research conducted by Michael Hinczewski (IPST) and Dave Thirumalai (Chemistry & Biochemistry and IPST) with a colleague from Denison University was highlighted in Nature Physics: Research Highlights, "Walk the Line," November 2013. The article referred to their PNAS paper, "Design Principles Governing the Motility of Myosin V," published online October 7.

Thomas Holtz (Geology) was mentioned in a National Geographic story, November 26, on "Pearl" – a dinosaur found in eastern Montana during the summer which Holtz helped identify as a Caenagnathid oviraptorosaur. He was quoted in Nature News, November 12 in an article on a theory proposed at the annual meeting of the Society of Vertebrate Paleontology (October 30-November 2) that the proto-bird Archaeopteryx was in the midst of losing its ability to fly. On November 8 he was quoted in a Science News & Analysis article on new evidence presented at the annual meeting on snake inner ears, continuing the debate on whether or not the first snakes crawled on land or swam in the water.

Raghu Murtugudde (AOSC and UMIACS) published an Op-Ed & Insights article in LiveScience, November 27 on climate change communication. He was interviewed on NBC News, November 11, about global warming making storms stronger, commenting that although the total number of yearly storms may not increase, more category 4 and 5 storms are likely. Murtugudde also spoke with WTOP FM 103.5 investigative reporter Nick Iannelli, about the surprisingly quiet 2013 Atlantic Hurricane Season and the possible reasons behind the inactivity.

Astronomy graduate student Alice Olmstead's poster on Astrobites is featured in the Autumn 2013 edition of Mercury Magazine, the publication of the Astronomical Society of the Pacific. Olmstead presented an overview of Astrobites - a blog targeted at undergrads which summarizes the very latest astronomical research and also offers career guidance. Her poster's content is on pp. 2-3 of this excerpt from the Magazine.

Ross Salawitch (AOSC, Chemistry & Biochemistry and ESSIC) was quoted in a Nature/News article on a paper by Francisco Estrada, et al. entitled "Statistically derived contributions of diverse human influences to twentieth-century temperature changes." The paper discussed how the 1987 international treaty on ozone-depleting chemicals also helped to slow global warming, and tied the effects of human influenced activities to both downturns and rises in greenhouse gas emissions.

Greg Sullivan (Physics), as leader of the UMD 12-member team of the IceCube Collaboration, was quoted extensively in the media regarding the Collaboration's success in observing 28 very high-energy neutrinos that constitute the first solid evidence for astrophysical neutrinos from cosmic accelerators. Coverage included The Guardian, Baltimore Sun, Science World Report, Irish independent and RedOrbit.

Jessica Sunshine (Astronomy) was quoted in Nature News, November 18, in an article on NASA cancelling work on two Advanced Stirling Radioisotope Generators (ASRGs). "We spent a lot of money and time on ASRGs and there was incredible new science they were going to enable."

Physics graduate student Sylvia Zhu was quoted in Astronomy Magazine and Red Orbit, November 22, on NASA's Swift Gamma-ray Burst Mission and the Gamma-ray Burst Monitor (GBM) aboard NASA's Fermi Gamma-ray Space Telescope capturing a blast of light from a dying star in a distant galaxy on April 27. The explosion, designated GRB 130427A, is one of the brightest ever seen. "...We thought the visible light for these flashes came from internal shocks, but this burst shows that it must come from the external shock, which produces the most energetic gamma-rays."


Paul Capriolo (2006 B.S. Computer Science), Chief Executive of Social growth, participated in a Washington Post on-line chat with Elana Fine (UMD Dingman Center for Entrepreneurship), November 3. In June 2013 Capriolo, who was a speaker at the recent Computer Science 40th Anniversary celebration, was named the winner of the Maryland Region Ernst & Young "Entrepreneurs of the Year 2013-Emerging" award. He co-founded Social Growth Technologies (SGT) with Patrick Jenkins (2006 B.S. Computer Science and Mathematics) in 2009, and in May 2010 the company was the top winner at the 5th annual Cupid's Cub Business Challenge.

John Degnan (MS 1970; PhD 1979 in Physics) gave an invited keynote address entitled "Impact of SLR (Satellite Laser Ranging) Technology Innovations on Modern Science" at the 18th International Workshop on Laser Ranging held in Fujiyoshida, Japan from November 11-15, 2013. Dr. Degnan was a junior member of the NASA team that made the first laser range measurements to the Beacon Explorer 22B satellite in 1964 and led SLR technology development at Goddard Space Flight Center from 1979 through his NASA retirement in 2003. He is currently Chief Scientist at Sigma Space Corporation in Lanham, MD, where he designs advanced 3D imaging lidars for airborne and space-borne platforms.

Rob Kniaz (2001 B.S. Computer Science) is a co-founder behind a new venture capital fund, Hoxton Ventures, which will focus on early-stage investments across Europe, with a strong connection to helping their companies bridge the divide between Europe and the U.S. A December 4 article on Hoxton can be found at After graduating from UMD, Kniaz worked at Intel then joined Google in 2004. Prior to Hoxton Ventures, Kniaz was an Associate at Fidelity Ventures, London, UK.

Ana Maria Rey (2004 Ph.D. Physics, advisors Charles Clark and Ted Kirkpatrick) was profiled by the National Science Foundation: Discovery. Rey's research, developing mathematical models describing the behavior of ultra-cold atoms, is funded by the NSF. Rey is a theoretical physicist and fellow of JILA, a joint institute of the University of Colorado, Boulder and NIST.

David Trone (1988 B.S. Computer Science and 1995 M.B.A.) has joined MKM Partners as Managing Director, Director of Research and Research Analyst covering banks and brokers. Previously he was Managing Director at JMP Securities. MKM Partners has headquarters in Stamford CT.




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