From Groundbreakings to Breakthroughs: Read Our Top Stories of 2021

2021 has been a noteworthy year for the College of Computer, Mathematical, and Natural Sciences (CMNS). CMNS students, faculty and staff members resumed on-campus life while continually making adjustments to ensure health and safety during the pandemic.

From breaking ground on the new leading-edge Chemistry Building to discovering how the sun impacts the internal composition of planets, there has been an abundance of news to share this year. As 2021 comes to a close, take some time to revisit our most-read stories of the year and discover some that you may have missed.

1. When Tyrannosaurs Dominated, Medium-sized Predators Disappeared – Geology’s Thomas Holtz conducted a study showing that medium-sized predators all but disappeared late in dinosaur history wherever Tyrannosaurus rex and its close relatives rose to dominance. In those areas—lands that eventually became central Asia and Western North America—juvenile tyrannosaurs stepped in to fill the missing ecological niche previously held by other carnivores.

(Left-right) Naveen Raman, Ela Rockafellow and Sanketh Andhavarapu. Photos courtesy of same. Click image to download hi-res version.

2. Three Science Terps Named 2021 Goldwater Scholars – Sanketh Andhavarapu, a sophomore biological sciences and neuroeconomics (individual studies) dual-degree student; Naveen Raman, a junior computer science and mathematics double major; and Ela Rockafellow, a junior physics major were awarded the scholarships, which encourage students to pursue advanced study and research STEM careers.

3. In Perfect Sync – Computer Science Ph.D. candidates Soheil Behnezhad and Mahsa Derakhshan met in high school, married and share parallel paths. They accepted assistant professorships in the Khoury College of Computer Sciences at Northeastern University.

4. History-making Mathematician Finds Fulfillment in Inspiring Others – Tasha Inniss and two of her classmates were the first Black female mathematicians to earn Ph.D.s from UMD.

5. First Clear View of a Boiling Cauldron Where Stars are Born – A UMD-led team of astronomers used NASA’s SOFIA telescope to capture high-resolution details of a star nursery in the Milky Way. 

Chemistry & Biochemistry Building Groundbreaking, August 2021. Credit: John T. Consoli. Click image to download hi-res version.

6. UMD Breaks Ground on New Chemistry Building – Leading-edge facility will enable new discoveries and transformational research and innovation for the Department of Chemistry and Biochemistry. 

7. Five Computer Science Graduates Turned Internships into Full-time Jobs– Students took advantage of on- and off-campus resources to advance their careers and secure full-time positions ahead of graduation. 

8. Why Does Mercury Have Such a Big Iron Core? Magnetism! – Geology’s William McDonough helped show that proximity to the sun’s magnetic field determines a planet’s interior composition.

9. Senior Veeraj Shah Named 2021 Gates Cambridge Scholar – Shah plans to use the scholarship toward a Ph.D. in public health and primary care at the University of Cambridge. Following his Ph.D., Shah plans to earn his M.D. at the Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai in New York City.

10. NSF Graduate Research Fellowships Awarded to 13 Science Terps – The college’s awardees include five current graduate students, four current undergraduates and four recent alumni.

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 8,000 future scientific leaders in its undergraduate and graduate programs each year. The college's 10 departments and six interdisciplinary research centers foster scientific discovery with annual sponsored research funding exceeding $250 million.