Ellen D. Williams and Dylan Taylor will speak at the University of Maryland College of Computer, Mathematical, and Natural Sciences December Commencement Ceremony. The ceremony will be held on December 19, 2018, at 6:30 p.m. at the Xfinity Center on campus.
Williams is a Distinguished University Professor in the Department of Physics and the Institute for Physical Science and Technology at UMD, where she works at the interface of energy technology and policy. Before returning to UMD in January 2017, she was the director of the Advanced Research Projects Agency-Energy, ARPA-E, which advances high-potential, highimpact energy technologies that are too early for private-sector investment.
Prior to Senate confirmation for her role in ARPA-E, Williams had been the chief scientist at BP (2010-2014) and a Distinguished University Professor at UMD. At the university, she established an internationally recognized research program in experimental surface science, exploring fundamental issues in statistical mechanics and nanotechnology. She also founded and led the university’s interdisciplinary Materials Research Science and Engineering Center from 1996 to 2009.
Williams has a distinguished history of professional service, including chairing the development of the National Academy of Sciences report on “Technical Issues Related to the Comprehensive Nuclear Test Ban Treaty” and providing extensive technical advice to the U.S. government, primarily through the Departments of Energy and Defense. She is a member of the National Academy of Sciences; a foreign member of the Royal Society (London); and a fellow of the American Physical Society, American Vacuum Society, and American Academy of Arts and Sciences. Williams has also been recognized by awards from the American Physical Society and the Materials Research Society.
Taylor is graduating with a bachelor’s degree in biological sciences with a specialization in microbiology and minors in astronomy and physics. He has completed an Honors College Citation in Integrated Life Sciences, and he is a member of the microbiology honor society Sigma Alpha Omicron.
Taylor has been engaged in several research projects during his time at the University of Maryland. He was a member of UMD’s 2015 International Genetically Engineered Machine (iGEM) competition team, which won a gold medal for its work in antibacterial-independent transformation and for building a functioning PCR machine out of a hair dryer and a soda can. Later, Taylor spent time at the University of Florida Space Plants Lab where he worked on technologies to grow crop plants in space as part of the EDEN ISS project under the European Union’s Horizon 2020 Program. These technologies are currently being tested in Antarctica where they are growing food for researchers. Taylor is currently working on campus in the Center for Bioinformatics and Computational Biology developing algorithms to help create marker gene capture chips for metagenomic samples.
In addition to his research and academic achievements, Taylor has dedicated a large portion of his college career to Gymkana, a performance gymnastics team and outreach organization that operates out of the university’s School of Public Health. The group travels to elementary and middle schools around Maryland, putting on shows for students and spreading a message of healthy living. Elected to serve as treasurer and then president of the group, Taylor led the troupe on numerous outreach events in the community and has helped countless team members overcome personal boundaries to achieve their goals.
Taylor plans to pursue a Ph.D. and hopes to one day run his own lab characterizing extremophiles and helping to define bounds on the conditions that are suitable for life here on Earth and beyond.
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About the College of Computer, Mathematical, and Natural Sciences
The College of Computer, Mathematical, and Natural Sciences at the University of Maryland educates more than 9,000 future scientific leaders in its undergraduate and graduate programs each year. The college’s 10 departments and more than a dozen interdisciplinary research centers foster scientific discovery with annual sponsored research funding exceeding $175 million.