Our College will likely remember Spring 2020 most vividly for the impact of COVID-19. Faculty members, staff, and students rose to the challenge of teaching, learning, and working remotely, and connecting online in meaningful ways. And administrators worked to protect their staff's health while maintaining critical research facilities. Still, we have a great deal to celebrate this year that goes beyond our community-minded response to the pandemic.
Programs that will change the face of science
This year saw CNMS receive significant funding for new programs and student success initiatives. For example, the National Science Foundation awarded UMBC $2.8 million todevelop and launch a new environmental science master’s degreeprogram focused on diversifying the environmental science workforce. The team behind this grant is led by biologist Tamra Mendelson and Chris Swan, an ecologist in the College of Arts, Humanities, and Social Sciences.
The STEM BUILD program also successfully renewed its funding for five more years. This program is an NIH-funded initiative administered by CNMS with the goal of diversifying the biomedical workforce. STEM BUILD offers financial support, research training, and a supportive community for students from all backgrounds interested in pursuing graduate school in biomedical fields. Students in STEM BUILD were featured prominently in UMBC News articles aboutURCAD andthe class of 2020.
Neurobiologist and director of the MARC U*STAR Scholars program Phyllis Robinson also received anew $7.7 million NIH grant for URISE. MARC funding is coming to an end this spring, after more than twenty years. The URISE program will offer all the same benefits to students, like financial support, advising, and research development, plus some additional programming.
CNMS research: Quantum computer chips to outer space
This year also saw significant research and creative achievements from students and faculty. Two CNMS studentsreceived Goldwater Scholarships. Tagide deCarvalho received an international art prize for herstriking image of a water bear, which was featured in Smithsonian magazine.
Joshua Brown, Ph.D. ’18; Mike Summers, chemistry and biochemistry; 15 undergraduates; and two high school studentspublished breakthrough findings on HIV in Science. Kevin Omland’s teamidentified a new species of robin in the South Pacific. Matt Pelton, physics, and Marie-Christine Daniel, chemistry and biochemistry, received fundingto develop light-driven computer chips that will process information at incredible speeds.Katherine Seley-Radtke received a Fast Grant to test antivirals for their efficacy against COVID-19.And so much more.
In a very exciting development, a CubeSat carrying an instrument designed and built at UMBClaunched into space in November. HARP is a product of UMBC’sEarth and Space Institute, led by physics professor Vanderlei Martins and composed of students, faculty, and researchers in physics, engineering, and math. After a decade in the making, the CubeSat is now sending back data about tiny particles in the atmosphere that contribute to air quality and climate. A UMBC team is already hard at work on HARP2, scheduled to launch in 2023.
This spring, the college also honored the following faculty members for their achievements in research, teaching, and mentorship:
Carl S. Weber Excellence in Teaching Award – Terrence Worchesky, physics
Adjunct Faculty Excellence Award – Nandita Dasgupta, mathematics and statistics
Early Career Faculty Excellence – Bedrich Sousedik, mathematics and statistics
Mid-Career Faculty Excellence – Songon An, chemistry and biochemistry
Excellence in Teaching - Cynthia Wagner, biological sciences
Active Learning Inquiry Teaching Certificate – Can Ataca, physics, and Justin Webster, mathematics and statistics