April 1, 2003, Vol. 2, No.7


April 1, 2003, Vol. 2, No. 7



Funds of Knowledge

NSF Early Career Development Awards

A Virtual Bookshelf

Symposium on MEMS and NEMS Materials and Fabrication Technologies
Graduate Student Appreciation Week


“The cell keeps on making the fat, and the droplets get bigger and bigger.  In some of the cells it looks like there’s been a nuclear explosion.  The bottom line is that if you completely knock out this gene, you profoundly affect lactation.”  Ian Mather, professor of animal and avian sciences, is summing up his career-long struggle to pinpoint the function of a gene involved in the production and secretion of mammalian milk.

At parturition, milk contains a high percentage of antibodies.  It is called colostrum.  By the time lactation has been established, the milk possesses all the proteins normally associated with it, such as caseins, which help to give it its familiar whiteness, and alphalactalbumin, which is required for lactose synthesis.  These two are unique to the mammary glands.  In addition, milk consists of ions, like sodium, potassium and chloride; antibodies; fat; and a great deal of water.  Most of the proteins are made in the cells and secreted by exocytosis from the cells’ surface.  Everything then comes out as milk.

Another unique aspect of the mammary gland is the way in which it secretes fat (fat, in this case, being the cream fraction of the milk).  Fat is made in the base of the cell on the surfaces of intra-cellular membranes.  It then “gets dumped” into the cytoplasm as droplets.  These droplets subsequently coalesce together.  Some of them grow no bigger.  But others get very large indeed.  In fact, “you look at some of the droplets,” marvels Dr. Mather, “and you wonder how they ever got out of the cell.”  Each one moves up to the apical region of the cell, and each acquires a membrane coat as it is secreted from it.

It is the membrane coat that prevents the cream from turning into butter.  “When you make butter, you’re actually stripping the membrane from the fat, so that all the droplets come together to form a mass of butter,” explains Dr. Mather.  “The part that goes into the surrounding liquid is butter milk.  So people who drink buttermilk are actually drinking a concentrated suspension of membranes from a lactating cow’s udder.”

Dr. Mather decided to figure out the specific mechanism that causes the formation of those membrane-coated droplets.  He assumed from the outset that proteins were at work because of their ubiquity.  The major protein in the membrane in cows (although not in mice) is butyrophilin (BTN).  “If I’d been working in a medical school instead of academia,” Dr. Mather notes parenthetically, “and I’d been working with mice from the beginning, I never would have noticed this protein.”

Several groups in Europe and the U.S. observed BTN in milk-fat droplets indirectly by a method called freeze-fracturing.  They froze mammary tissue and cleaved it with a knife.  The knife goes through the interior of cell membranes, splitting it in two, thus exposing the two internal surfaces of the membranes through the cell.  The groups found that with secreted lipid droplets, the protein coat is present in a decidedly ordered array, implying the presence of a protein complex with a highly defined structure.  BTN makes up about 40 percent of the total protein in the milk of Holstein cows.  “You can’t help but look at the abundance of this protein and think ‘What’s that doing there?’” says Dr. Mather.  As the coat material is protein, it was assumed that at least some of the coat material was BTN.

Way back in 1990, Lucinda Jack, a research associate in Dr. Mather’s laboratory, was the first to clone and sequence the BTN gene.  The group was looking for evidence of some kind of trans-membrane protein that could act as a scaffold, one that sits in the membrane with “a nice, fatty-loving tail” that interacts with the fat droplets.  What they found was certainly a trans-membrane protein.  It had a single span.  The cytoplasmic area, though, was disappointingly water-loving rather than fat-loving.  They then proposed an explanation: maybe the tail was interacting with other proteins and the other proteins were binding the lipid droplets to the plasma membrane surface.

Over the years, Dr. Mather was often advised by colleagues to give up his work on BTN because it was probably a “boring, very ordinary gene” that had no obvious relevance to the dairy-, or to any other industry.  He would brush aside these warnings, however, insisting that “if it’s unique to lactating mammals, it’s got to be doing something relevant.”

He decided to mutate the BTN gene in mice by removing part of the gene so that BTN protein was no longer expressed in the tissue.  Such mutant mice are commonly known as “knock-out mice” and are used by scientists to determine the function of many genes in mammals.  The promoter which controls gene expression was removed from the BTN gene and from the part that initiates gene transcription, as well as other parts of the gene.

The initial result of the knockout was that the mice tended to lose their litters.  The team cross-fostered the pups with other mothers.  “Mice are very good in this respect,” says Dr. Mather. “They easily accept the litter from another mother.”  The new-borns from the “knockout” mothers apparently were unable to extract the milk from the gland.  But when older pups (aged about 4 or 5 days) were put with a “knockout” mother, they were able to suckle enough milk, apparently either because they had already seen milk or because they had better sucking power.  They survived, although they were rather weak. “But then, between days 15 – 20 (we typically wean on day 21), we lost almost all of them,” he says.

The team turned their attention from the pups to the milk from the “knockout” mice.  They compared the amount of fat in the milk from “wild type” (normal) mice with that from the “knockouts” and found that the milk from the “knockouts” contained 50 percent more fat than that from the wild-type mice.  In the heterozygote (those with one copy of the mutated allele) some of the fat droplets were bigger, though the cells were still in reasonable working order.  But in the “knockout” mice the droplets were huge – some over 50 times bigger in volume.  Yet somehow they continued to get out of the cell. “It’s almost like the cell blows up,” says Dr. Mather, “We’ve clearly inhibited normal secretion.  The fat is still made in the cell, though.  That was one surprise.” 

Another remarkable outcome of the milk from the “knockouts” was that the lipid droplets are no longer enclosed in an intact membrane coat.  It is almost as though a hole has been made in the apical membrane and the lipid comes out like toothpaste being squeezed out of a tube.  Because of the lack of a complete membrane, the droplets fuse together in one big glob.  It is rather like putting fat down a drain.  The ducts in the tissue gradually block up.  “It’s a good demonstration of why you need the membrane,” adds Dr. Mather.  “Without it the mouse is actually making mouse butter in the tissue.”

Dr. Mather and his group have taken a comparative approach wherever possible in doing this research.  In addition to mice, they have worked with guinea pigs (which give more milk than mice, are easier to milk, and have larger glands, thus providing a great deal of tissue for analysis, but which are expensive to keep and have a long period of gestation).  At times the group has also used sheep, goats, cows, pigs, rabbits, rats, and human donors.

Shortly after the group cloned the BTN gene in 1990, a group in Germany found a second gene that was very similar to BTN in one region of the sequence.  This second gene encodes a protein that sits on the myelin nerve sheath and is known as MOG (for myelin oligodendrocyte glycoprotein).  MOG is of unknown function, but it happens to be a major target for auto-antibodies in patients with the neurological disease known as multiple sclerosis (MS).  Injection of MOG into rodents and non-human primates induces an MS-like condition, in which the nerve is infiltrated with MOG-specific immune cells and is irreversibly damaged by auto-antibodies to MOG.

Intriguingly, there is a long-standing, and previously unexplained, correlation between the incidence, reported in many countries, of MS and the consumption of liquid cow’s milk.  The causative agent appears to be in the fat fraction of milk (cream), raising the exciting possibility that the identity of the factor is BTN.  The German group at the Max Planck Institute, headed by Dr. Christopher Linington, in collaboration with Dr. Mather’s group, recently showed that immunization of rats with bovine BTN causes a sub-clinical inflammatory and autoimmune response to myelin.  However, if the rats are exposed to fragments of BTN by nasal aerosol, they are protected from MOG-induced disease.  These results strongly suggest that exposure to BTN may modulate immune responses to MOG and either precipitate autoimmune disease or induce tolerance.

“The other story behind all this,” continues Dr. Mather, “is that BTN is one of a whole family of BTN-like genes.  This family is in a region at the chromosome level where many of the genes involved in the immune system are located.  We don’t know the functions of any of the other BTN-like proteins.”  Dr. Mather is currently the recipient of a Graduate Research Board Distinguished Faculty Research Fellowship and is planning a sabbatical leave at Cambridge University in the U.K. where he will delve further into this aspect.

“If anyone had told me 30 years ago when I was a graduate student in North Wales that today I’d be knocking genes out in mice and that we’d be involved in projects on the origin of MS, I wouldn’t have believed them,” he exclaims.


A Miscellany of Projects for which Faculty Members Have Recently Received Research Funds

The Center for Institutional Reform and the Informal Sector (IRIS) received a contract for $3,490,297 from the United States Agency for International Development to improve the reliability of administrative law in Bosnia and Herzegovina, both within and outside court systems.  The director of the project is Albie Ashbrook.  It covers the three-year period beginning October 2002.

The National Science Foundation (NSF) has granted Michael Brown, professor and chair, Philip Piccoli, associate research scientist, and Tim Johnson, visiting research associate, all in the Department of Geology, $360,460 for their study of petrogenesis of high-pressure and ultra-high-pressure granulites from the Brasilia Fold Belt in Minas Gerais and Goias, Brazil.  The orogenic core of the Brazilia Fold Belt is composed of a metamorphic complex representing rocks of the Earth’s lower continental crust exposed at the surface.  The recent discovery that rocks in the southern part of the Belt record high pressures indicates that the crust was over-thickened at the time of its formation, comparable to the modern Himalayas.  Further, the discovery of ultra-high-temperature rocks south of Brazilia indicates that the lower crust had partially melted, similar to the modern Andes and Tibet.  This study contributes to an understanding of how the lower continental crust behaves during the formation and destruction of mountain belts.

Shawn Bushway, assistant professor of criminology and criminal justice, is the principal investigator of a grant received in September 2002 for $134,000 from the National Institute of Justice to study how the characteristics of individual offenders, such as their criminal history, type of crime, etc., might be interpreted differently by different actors in the criminal justice system (e.g., prosecutors and judges).

Many cells in nature have a built-in self-destruct mechanism, known as apoptosis.  To help him seek an understanding of how the molecular machines that drive the life processes in cells work, Marco Colombini, professor of biology, has received a four-year, $844,000 grant from the National Institutes of Health (NIH), beginning in December 2002, to study the implications for apoptosis of channel formation by ceramides, one of those kinds of molecular machines.  So far, this project has already garnered him three firsts:  He has demonstrated that lipids such as ceramides can form channels.  This is the first time that a lipid has been shown to form stable channels in membranes.  Such an ability is usually the property of membrane proteins.  Secondly, these channels are probably the largest membrane channels ever described, allowing the flux of proteins as large as 60,000 daltons.  Finally, ceramide channels are the first pathways identified that are large enough to allow the mingling of proteins from two cellular compartments, resulting in the initiation of the self-destruct mechanism in these cells.

In addition, Dr. Colombini has received a four-year, $300,000 grant from the same agency.  It is sub-contracted to his research laboratory from the Children’s Research Institute for his work on the molecular basis of ornithine transcarbamylase deficiency and related disorders.   

An analysis of germline cyst formation in Drosophila is being conducted by Margaret de Cuevas, assistant professor of cell biology and molecular genetics, with the support of a two-year grant for $150,000 which she received in February 2003 from the March of Dimes.

Jocelyne DiRuggiero, assistant professor of cell biology and molecular genetics, received a three-year, $330,000 grant, beginning September 2002, from the Human Frontier Science Program for a study of the initiation of DNA replication in Archaea.

The National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) has appointed Douglas Hamilton, associate professor, and Kevin Rauch, research associate, both in the Department of Astronomy, principal investigators on a three-year grant totaling $147,000, beginning in March 2003.  The award supports their investigation of the origin and evolution of planetary satellites using HNBody, their software package for simulating planetary systems.

The geochemistry of metal and metalloid thioanions is being studied by George Helz, professor of chemistry and biochemistry, with the support of a three-year, $370,000 grant which he received from the NSF, beginning in January 2003.  Assisting Dr. Helz on the project are graduate students Alfred Addo-Mensah and Carla Coyne.  The group wants to understand the transport of hazardous materials, like arsenic, in anoxic ground-waters.  They also want to use trace elements to reconstruct the historical decline of estuaries like the Chesapeake Bay.

David Inouye, associate professor of biology, is the recipient of a five-year grant totaling $300,000 which he received in January 2003 from the NSF in support of his long-term research at the Rocky Mountain Biological Laboratory (RMBL).  Dr. Inouye has worked at RMBL since 1971, and many of his projects on the population biology and flowering of wildflowers there have extended for 31 years (and through a series of graduate students).  Work on the new grant will focus on the effects of climate change on the timing of seasonal events, which seem to be changing rapidly.

The NSF has awarded Katherine McComas, assistant professor of communication, together with Craig Trumbo and Shanna Swain, both of the University of Missouri, a $259,623 grant for a study of risk communication and public participation during the investigation of cancer clusters.  This three-year project (2002-2005) analyzes the social and psychological circumstances surrounding citizen-initiated investigations of cancer clusters.  It examines the communication procedures that state health department officials use to communicate information about cancer clusters.  In particular, it focuses on the use of public meetings to disseminate knowledge about cancer risks in these communities.

An evaluation of the genetic underpinnings of gentamicin-induced vestibular dysfunction is being undertaken by Stephen Roth, assistant professor of exercise physiology, aging, and genetics, and John Jeka, associate professor of kinesiology, with the help of a $350,000 grant from NIH, beginning in March 2003.  A significant fraction of individuals who receive gentamicin, an antibiotic used for severe infections, lose balance function and are significantly impaired in their ability to perform physical tasks.  This grant provides funding to explore the possibility of a genetic basis for this susceptibility. 

Sergei Sukharev, assistant professor of biology, has received a three-year, $100,000 grant from NASA for his project on the mechano-sensitive ion channels in bacteria.

An Alfred P. Sloan Foundation Fellowship has been awarded to Robert Walker, assistant professor of chemistry and biochemistry.  He is one of 117 researchers nationwide to receive one in 2003.  The Foundation awards these fellowships to recognize and support young scientists and scholars.  The project on which Dr. Walker is working concerns the surfaces of liquids.  More specifically, research in the Walker group seeks to identify how chemistry at liquid surfaces differs from processes occurring deep in solution.  This research marries nonlinear optical methods with systematic control of surface properties in order to characterize interfacial polarity.  Dr. Walker’s group recently developed a new family of molecules – dubbed “molecular rulers” – that enable his team to measure the widths of various solid/liquid interfaces.


Since the list published in the February 2002 issue of this newsletter, the National Science Foundation (NSF) has honored nine more UM faculty members with Faculty Early Career Development (CAREER) Awards, given to junior-level university faculty to emphasize the importance the NSF places on integrating research and education activities in academic careers.  The latest honorees, all assistant professors, are:

Pamela Abshire, electrical and computer engineering, for “Physical Information Efficiency for Sensing, Communicating, and Computing,” begun February 2003

William Arbaugh, computer science, for “Active System Management,” begun September 2002

Roger Azevedo, human development, for “the Role of Self-Regulated Learning in Students’ Understanding of Science with Hypermedia,” begun June 2002

Rajeev Barua, electrical and computer engineering, for “Synthesis-Assistance and Compilation Software for Embedded Systems,” begun February 2002

Reza Ghodssi, electrical and computer engineering, for “InP-based Micro-Electro-Mechanical Systems (MEMS) for Optical Microsystems,” begun February 2002

James Roberts, measurement, statistics and evaluation, for “Expanding the Applicability, Utility and Popularity of Item Response Theory Models for Unfolding,” begun June 2002

Elizabeth Smela, mechanical engineering, for “Development of Advanced MEMS Actuator Technology for Microrobotics,” begun March 2003

Konstantina Trivisa, mathematics, for “Systems of Conservation Laws and Related Models in Applied Sciences – Math Awareness and Outreach,” begun February 2003

Min Wu, electrical and computer engineering, for “Signal Processing Approaches for Multimedia Security and Information Protection,” begun February 2002


A sampling of new books, etc. recently authored by faculty members, and news about books

The American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics commissioned a book entitled The Airplane: A History of Its Technology, in celebration of the 100th anniversary of powered flight.  The book is authored by John Anderson, professor emeritus of aerospace engineering and now curator for aerodynamics at the National Air and Space Museum.  It was published by the American Institute of Aeronautics in December 2002.

The Museum Tusculanum Press of the University of Copenhagen, Denmark, has just published Noctes Atticae; Articles on Greco-Roman Antiquity and Its Nachleben, Presented to Jorgen Mejer on his 60th Birthday.  Contributions to this Festschrift include:

“Sulpicia and the Valerii: Family Ties and Poetic Unity,” by Judith Hallett, professor and chair of classics;

“Guy Butler’s Demea – An Enlightenment Post-Colonial Medea,” by Susan Joseph, who earned her M.A. from the Classics Department and a Ph.D. from Catholic University, where she has been a visiting instructor in classics for the past year;

“Reflections on the Shape of the Greek Stadium,” by Hugh Lee, associate professor of classics;

“Seneca and Socrates,” by Gregory Staley, associate professor of classics.

Axel Kleidon, assistant professor, and Steven Prince, professor, both in the Geography Department, contributed chapters to a book entitled Global Desertification: Do Humans Cause Deserts? edited by J. F. Reynolds and M. Stafford Smith.  The book was published by Dahlem Workshop Reports of the Free University of Berlin, Germany, in August 2002.  Climate, particularly drought, is obviously a controlling influence, and it is equally certain that humans and their activities have caused desertification in some places.  A great deal of disagreement exists, however, as to the causes and extent of this land degradation, and consequently about how much of its impact on human well-being is manageable.

The Business Russian Project, developed by a team at the American Council for Teachers of Russian (ACTR), led by Maria Lekic, associate professor of Asian and East European languages, has won the annual book prize at this year’s national conference of the American Association of Teachers of Slavic and East European Languages for the best contribution to language pedagogy in the discipline for the year of 2002.  It marks the first time in the Russian/East European field that an on-line publication has won this award.  The publication is a Web-based language-learning project developed jointly by the Maryland Institute for Technology in the Humanities, and a team at ACTR working at Russnet.  Russnet is a Russian-language field resource center which provides Russian-language learning services and products, e.g., language modules, courses, materials, in-service teacher training, databases, discussion forums, and gateways to other Russian language resources.

Robert Levine, professor and director of graduate studies in English, is the editor of a book entitled Martin R. Delany: A Documentary Reader.  Delany has been called “The Father of Black Nationalism.”  Published by the North Carolina Press this year, the book offers readers a chance to discover, or rediscover, Delany in all his complexity.

The Rhetorical Presidency, Propaganda, and the Cold War, 1945-1955, by Shawn Parry-Giles, assistant professor of communication, has been selected as one of the “Outstanding Academic Titles for 2002” by Choice, a leading reviewer of books and monographs for academic libraries.  The book was one of only seven in Communication selected for this award.  It was published in 2001 by Praeger Publishers.  To be selected as an outstanding academic title, a book must display overall excellence in presentation and scholarship, importance relative to other literature in the field, and distinction as a treatment of a given subject.  Choice concluded in their review that “Rekindled enthusiasm for [propaganda] measures since 9/11 makes this fine book timely as well as relevant.”

Acoustic Communication is the title of a recently published book edited by Andrea Megela Simmons of Brown University, Arthur N. Popper, professor of biology and director of the Neuroscience and Cognitive Science Program, and Richard Fay of Loyola University of Chicago, all of whom also contributed chapters to it.  It is volume #16 in the “Springer Handbook of Auditory Research (SHAR)” series published by Springer-Verlag.  The series is a definitive set of books on auditory neuroscience, and 15 more volumes are in various stages of preparation. 

Roland Rust, chair of marketing in the R. H. Smith School of Business, together with co-authors Katherine Lemon of Boston College and Valarie Zeithaml of the University of North Carolina, are the only winners of the 2002 Berry-American Marketing Association Book Prize for the Best Book in Marketing, for their book entitled Driving Customer Equity: How Customer Lifetime Value is Reshaping Corporate Strategy.  The book was published by The Free Press in 2000.  The award is given to “exceptional marketing books that have set the standard for excellence and that were published within the previous three years.”

The Role of Social Capital in Development is a recent book edited by Christiaan Grootaert of the World Bank, and Thierry van Bastelaer, director of integrated financial services in the Center for Institutional Reform and the Informal Sector (IRIS).  It was published by Cambridge University Press in 2002.  The book demonstrates the pervasive impact of social capital – the institutions, relationships, attitudes, and values that govern interactions among people - in many aspects of development.  Social capital improves rural development through more effective common resource management; it enhances access of poor households to services both in rural and urban areas; and it is a key factor in coping with conflict and political transition. 


Date: Friday, April 11, 2003

Time: 7:30 a.m. – 6:00 p.m.

Location: Inn and Conference Center, University of Maryland

This is the Spring 2003 Special Topics Symposium sponsored by the MEMS Alliance, a networking group of companies, universities, and government laboratories in the Washington, DC, metropolitan area.  The keynote address will be given by Roger Howe of the University of California, Berkeley, who will speak on “How to Mix Micromechanics and Microelectronics.”  There will be talks by other noteworthy experts.  In addition, UM faculty and students, who are part of this alliance, will be presenting their work in a poster display throughout the day. 

To obtain further information, and to register, go to:



Henrique Andrade, who is now a research associate, together with Alan Sussman, assistant professor, both in the Computer Science Department, and Joel Saltz and Tahsin Kurc, who are both former faculty members in the same department and are now faculty members in the Biomedical Informatics Department at the Ohio State University, won the award for the Best Student Paper at the IEEE’s American Computing Machinery 2002 Supercomputing Conference held in November 2002 in Baltimore.  Dr. Andrade was a Ph.D. student in the Computer Science Department while he was working on the research for the paper.  It demonstrated a method for efficiently evaluating complex data analysis queries in a grid environment.  This work essentially suggests a collaborative architecture for leveraging the processing capabilities and input/output resources available in widely distributed environments for optimizing the execution of multiple complex database queries.  Dr. Andrade’s supervisor was Dr. Saltz.

Communicator Awards: Three UM graduate students won awards for the documentaries that they submitted to this international competition for television industry professionals.  The documentaries were produced in the Philip Merrill College of Journalism under the guidance of Lee Thornton, holder of the Eaton Chair of Journalism.  The students were Adrienne Felton and Homeyra Mokhtarzada, who won Awards of Distinction in the Cable TV/Documentary category, and Guy Bagley, who received an honorable mention.

Ms. Felton’s winning entry, entitled Greenbelt, is a historical documentary about Greenbelt, MD, one of three “green” towns developed under, and at the order of, the administration of President Franklin Delanore Roosevelt.  Ms. Felton wrote, produced, edited and narrated the documentary.

Ms. Mokhtarzada’s entry, The Pen, traces the history of the Baltimore penitentiary, the nation’s oldest facility of its kind.  Ms. Mokhtarzada was given access to an entire vault of historical documents.  She wrote, produced and edited the documentary.

Mr. Bagley’s entry recounts the history of Morgan Park, a Baltimore neighborhood that has been the home of many Black literary and historical figures, including W.E.B. DuBois.  The piece was narrated by Jason Newton, a 2001 graduate of the College, who is a reporter and anchor at WBOC-TV in Salisbury.

Of the 3,242 entrants in the competition from 49 states and 9 nations, fewer than 20 percent were recognized, most with honorable mentions.  The students’ achievements are particularly remarkable, says Dr. Thornton, because “documentaries of this quality usually have a sizeable budget, to say nothing of a large crew of cinematographers, lighting experts, sound experts, etc.  These students, by contrast, were ‘one-man bands’.”

Lonnie Fullerton and Milagros Ponce de Leon were the UM’s first Master of Fine Arts students to participate in the annual portfolio reviews of theatrical scenic designer Ming Cho Lee at New York’s Lincoln Center.  This event gives emerging artists the opportunity to meet at length with many of the nation’s most influential directors and designers.

Olaf Jensen, an M.S. student in the Marine, Estuarine and Environmental Sciences Program, was awarded a German Academic Exchange Service (DAAD) Fellowship by the German Federal Government for research at the Technical University of Braunschweig during winter 2002-2003.  The research focused on predictive habitat modeling of blue crab in the Chesapeake Bay.  Mr. Jensen, who is currently working with the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s (NOAA) Biogeography Program, holds a prestigious Sea Grant Knauss Fellowship for 2003.  He is now based at the NOAA office in Silver Spring, MD.  His thesis research, which is supervised by Thomas Miller, associate professor at the Chesapeake Biological Laboratory, and is funded by Maryland Sea Grant, centers on the application of geostatistics to estuarine systems.

Yoo Ah Kim, and Yung-Chun Justin Wan, graduate assistants working for their Ph.D. under Samir Khuller, associate professor of computer science, are the authors, together with Dr. Khuller, of a winning paper to be presented at the 2003 Symposium on Principles of Database Systems, organized by the Association of Computing Machinery.  The symposium will be held in San Diego in June 2003.  The paper won the 2003 Best Newcomer Paper Award.  It is entitled “Algorithms for Data Migration with Cloning.” 

The L’Oreal e-Strat Challenge:  A team of MBA students from the R. H. Smith School of Business, consisting of Gokce Ataman, Hans-Joachim Schuetze, and Koutayba Yamak, has qualified for the semi-finals in “The Challenge,” as it is known.  The team, dubbed the XCeed team, is now one of 25 U.S. teams in this international competition organized by the cosmetics company L’Oreal.  L’Oreal, which is based in 140 countries, had over 17,000 students from 80 countries register for the Challenge.  A final 827 teams were selected to compete, with 87 teams representing the top business schools in the United States, three of them from Smith School.  The XCeed team has been invited to submit a business plan in addition to its final round of decisions concerning such items as advertising tactics and budgets, marketing tactics and budgets, production capacity, and new brand launches.  Based on these, ten winning teams from around the world will be selected to meet in Paris on April 22 for the finals.

Marcel Pruessner, a graduate research assistant in electrical and computer engineering, has been awarded a $15,000 ARCS (Achievement Rewards for College Scientists) Foundation Fellowship for the 2003-2004 academic year.  Mr. Pruessner, whose advisor is Dr. Ghodssi is working on optical switching and III-V MEMS (Micro-Electro-Mechanical Systems).

Leah Siskind, a Ph.D. student and an NIH predoctoral fellow in the Biology Department, won the Young Bioenergeticist award given by the Bioenergetics Subgroup of the Biophysical Society at its meeting held in San Antonio, Texas, in March 2003.  She won the award for her research on channel formation by the pro-apoptotic sphingolipid ceramide.  Ms. Siskind’s advisor is Dr. Colombini.


Date: Tuesday, April 8th

Time: 2:30 p.m.

Location: Multi-Purpose Room in St. Mary's

The School of Languages, Literatures, and Cultures will hold its first-ever Graduate Forum.  The purpose of this event is to recognize the achievements of all the students in the School who are nearing the end of their graduate studies.  The program will feature presentations by four students on the results of their thesis or dissertation research.  A reception will follow.  More information about the Graduate Forum may be obtained from Dr. James Lesher at ext. 5-6464 or jlesher@deans.umd.edu.


From Tanya Nagle, GRID Director

  The 13th annual Graduate Research Interaction Day (GRID) 2003 will be held on two days this year: April 10 and 11.  More than 120 graduate researchers will present their work on topics spanning widely diverse disciplines.  All members of the UM community are invited to attend any of the sessions, as well as the GRID luncheon and keynote addresses on April 10 (luncheon fee is $10 per person).  Please make time to observe the fascinating and enlightening research our graduate students have been developing!  No advance registration is necessary.

Judges Needed!

GRID is also in need of faculty and staff judges to evaluate the researchers’ presentations.  Your input is invaluable to the growth and development of Maryland’s graduate research community!  Beyond that you will have the opportunity to witness firsthand the value of an interdisciplinary exchange of ideas and research from the best and brightest that UM has to offer.  There are numerous time slots available to accommodate any schedule.  Judges will receive complimentary admission to the GRID luncheon on April 10.  To volunteer, please visit http://www.gsg.umd.edu/GRID/JudgesRegistration.html.

Please direct all questions, comments and concerns to Tanya Nagle, GRID director, tnagle@gradschool.umd.edu, or refer to the website.


This is the week each year when assistantship-providers, graduate departments and others on campus show their appreciation for our graduate students.  During this week we are working with the Graduate Student Government to sponsor the second of these annual events.  Take a Student to Lunch during Graduate Research Interaction Day (April 10th and 11th).



2003-2004 Graduate Student Government Elections

Elections will take place on http://www.testudo.umd.edu from April 8 to April 15, 2003.

Your chance to make UM a better place for graduate students.

Visit http://www.gsg.umd.edu for more information.

Please e-mail questions or concerns to elections@gsg.umd.edu or call 301-405-6708.

Hiking in Shenandoah National Park

Date: Saturday, April 19, 2003

Time: 8:00 a.m. – approximately 6:00 p.m.  Meet at the Outdoor Recreation Center

Cost: $35.00.  Space is limited.

Spend the day hiking Old Rag Mountain in Shenandoah National Park.  Old Rag Mountain is one of the highest peaks (3,291 ft) in the Blue Ridge Mountains in northern Virginia.  Its bald summit commands a spectacular view of the Piedmont to the east and the Shenandoah Valley to the west.  The cost covers the fees for two experienced trip leaders, transportation, equipment needed for the hike, and entrance fees.  Please bring your own bag lunch.

To sign up, contact Zaneeta E. Daver at zaneetadaver@yahoo.com.

Deadline to register: April 11, 2003.

Shear Madness at the Kennedy Center

Date: Saturday, May 11, 2003, 7:00 p.m.

Cost: $17.00 ($34:00 value).  Limited number of tickets available

The comedy whodunit Shear Madness has performed in the Theater Lab for approximately 8,500 performances, making it the third longest-running play in the history of the American theater.  (Its sister productions in Boston and Chicago are #1 and #2.)  Washington’s Shear Madness takes place in present-day Georgetown, in the Shear Madness Hair Styling Salon at 3229 P Street, N.W.  The mixture of audience sleuthing and up-to-the-minute improvisational humor delights both Washingtonians and visitors alike.

For tickets, contact Zaneeta E. Daver at zaneetadaver@yahoo.com.

Deadline to register: April 4, 2003.

Graduate Student Specials

  • GRAD Tuesdays – Grab your fellow grad students and head on over to the Cornerstone Bar and Grill for Grad Tuesdays!  Graduate students who show their graduate student ID on Tuesday nights between 5:00 p.m. and closing-time will receive a 25 percent discount on their check (excluding cigarettes and items that are already on special, e.g., happy-hour drinks or bar food specials).
  • GRAD Fridays – Please join your fellow graduate students every Friday at the Santa Fe Café for Grad Pub.  Graduate students receive all night free admission with grad student ID.  Live music, drink specials and a huge buffet.  For directions, click on http://www.santafecafe.com/map.html.

Some of the above news items have been excerpted, with kind permission, from web pages owned by the Center for Institutional Reform and the Informal Sector (IRIS), the Geography Department, the Philip Merrill School of Journalism, and the R. H. Smith School of Business.

Research Frontiers at the University of Maryland is issued monthly throughout the semester by the Office of the Vice President for Research, University of Maryland, College Park, MD 20742.  Vice President for Research: J. Dennis O’Connor.  Editors: Associate Vice President for Research Timothy Ng, and Pam Solomos.  This newsletter may be viewed online at http://www.umresearch.umd.edu.  Suggestions for future news items may be sent to this this mailbox.