VIRTUAL REALITY GROWS UP / 1 6 FEMALE WWII PILOT’S FINAL MISSION / 20 NBA STARS’ SECRET WEAPON / 30
SPRING 2016 / Connecting the University of Maryland Community
THE WAITING GAIN HOW “WASTED” TIME SHAPES OUR LIVES PG.26
L E T T E R F ROM T H E E X E C U T I V E DI R E C T OR SPRING 2016 / VOL. 13, NO.3
PU BLISH ER
Peter Weiler VICE PRESIDENT, UNIVERSIT Y RELATIONS ADVISERS
Brian Ullmann ’92 ASSOCIATE VICE PRESIDENT, MARKETING AND COMMUNICATIONS
Amy Eichhorst EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR, ALUMNI ASSOCIATION
Margaret Hall EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR, CREATIVE STRATEGIES MAGAZIN E STAFF
Lauren Brown UNIVERSIT Y EDITOR
John T. Consoli ’86 CREATIVE DIRECTOR
Hailey Hwa Shin ART DIRECTOR
Liam Farrell Chris Carroll Karen Shih ’09 WRITERS
Natalie Koltun ’16 EDITORIAL INTERN
Kelsey Marotta ’14 DESIGNER
Gail Rupert M.L.S. ’10 PHOTOGRAPHY ASSISTANT
Jagu Cornish PRODUCTION MANAGER
Submit and read letters to the editor at terp.umd.edu.
ON LIN E
FACEBOOK .COM /Univof Maryland TWITTER.COM /Uof Maryland VIM EO.COM /umd YOUTU BE .COM /UMD2101
The University of Maryland, College Park is an equal opportunity institution with respect to both education and employment. University policies, programs and activities are in conformance with pertinent federal and state laws and regulations on nondiscrimination regarding race, color, religion, age, national origin, political affiliation, gender, sexual orientation or disability. A story in the Winter 2016 issue about the renaming of the football stadium mistakenly stated that former UMD president Harry Clifton “Curley” Byrd built McKeldin Library. Our apologies for the error.
spr i ng is a t i m e of r e n e wa l a n d gr ow t h , a time to welcome change. And spring is always an exciting time on campus; a time when we celebrate our new graduates as they move on to another stage in their lives. In early May, the Alumni Association welcomed seniors to the Moxley Gardens at the Samuel Riggs IV Alumni Center, their alumni home on campus. Their degrees will be officially conferred at Commencement, where the words of Kevin Plank ’96, ceo and founder of Under Armour, are bound to inspire them. Not only does he embody the Terp spirit of entrepreneurship, but he also gives back to umd and its students through philanthropy and service as a trustee. This spring, 2,881 other alumni and friends supported the university through Giving Day, donating a record $380,000 for scholarships and programs across campus. Terps also give back to their communities. Throughout April, the Alumni Association’s academic, regional and affinity alumni networks organized service events here in College Park and around the country. By being part of Terp Service Month, hundreds of alumni in approximately 30 locations supported community food banks and animal shelters, participated in neighborhood cleanups and raised funds for cancer research through road races. Our alumni leaders also help host social events that inspire Maryland pride. I was excited to be part of the nyc Terps men’s basketball game-watch party, which also included newly admitted students and their parents. I also cheered on the Terps with several hundred alumni and fans with my local network, the Annapolis Terps. In addition, our alumni groups run Terp Professional Networking events, tours of historical sites and Terp-owned businesses, and outings to cultural experiences. I’d like to thank those of you who are donors, alumni leaders and mentors, as well as all who participate in Alumni Association opportunities every year. To get more involved, or just gather with fellow Terps, visit alumni.umd.edu or contact me at email@example.com. The Alumni Association is committed to its mission “to connect, cultivate, and channel the power of Terps to enrich themselves and advance the university,” and we look forward to your participation! Go Terps!
T U R N I M AG I N AT I O N I N T O I N N OVAT I O N
02 / F resh Source 07 / P roduce With Purpose
CO R R EC TI O N :
COVER “THE WAITING GAIN” ILLUSTRATION BY HAILEY HWA SHIN
Boldness is as essential to the human experience as color and music and chocolate. It’s at the heart of wonder, of surprise and delight, and of change. It’s pulsing in the veins of anyone with a vision, who dares to be different, who believes that the impossible really isn’t. The world needs this boldness. It needs grand, radical, eye-popping ideas and the people with the courage and conviction to bring them to life. At Maryland, it looks like this: Why yes, we should give students $10,000 to donate to charity to teach them about philanthropy. Or, let’s bring in a feminist punk band to start a conversation on gender roles. Or, how about we advance artificial intelligence by teaching robots how to cook by watching YouTube? Where can boldness take us next? Every issue of Terp features stories that show how the university turns imagination into innovation. In this issue, we further highlight those efforts with a symbol ( ). We do the same in other issues on our efforts to discover new knowledge, inspire Maryland pride and transform the student experience.
Amy Eichhorst Executive Director, Alumni Association
16 / N ot Playing Games 18 / C enTerpiece
08 / V irtual Connection
3 0/ T he Insider’s Outsider
13 / S afety Cells
36/ Parting Shot
14 / G oogle With a Grain of Salt
CONTENTS SPRING 2016 / VOL. 13, NO. 3
More than 70 years after becoming one of the first women to fly military missions, the late Elaine Danforth Harmon ’40 has been at the heart of a battle to determine who deserves burial at Arlington National Cemetery.
$10M Grant Taps Into Nontraditional Irrigation Water
New Arts, Food, Innovation Hub on the Menu
Ask Anne CLASS ACT
BY CHRIS CARROLL
Produce With Purpose
COVER STORY: THE WAITING GAIN
C AMPUS LIFE
Don’t dismiss waiting as a mere nuisance, says an American studies professor. It’s shaped human history, love and war for tens of thousands of years.
Throw in the Towel? Try the Javelin
Reclaiming Their Voices INNOVATION
BY K AREN SHIH ’09
Formula for Good Health
Aqueous Tech Could Take the “Boom” Out of Batteries
THE INSIDER’S OUTSIDER
Idan Ravin ’92 never played a minute of college or pro basketball. That doesn’t matter to the nba players who he makes even better.
Google With a Grain of Salt
Not Playing Games CENTERPIECE
BY LIAM FARRELL
Facing a New Reality PARTING SHOT
FEARLESS B O LD. FU N . S M A RT. CU R I O US . PRO U D. Find new stories every week at terp.umd.edu. RECENT WEB E XCLUSIVES THAT YOU MAY HAVE MISSED :
• The suspicions of former EPA engineer Leo Breton M.S. ’90 eventually helped reveal the Volkswagen emissions scandal. • Shelly Peiken ’79, once a distressed Miss Maryland, flourished instead as a songwriter for pop stars. • Sara Lasko ’13 clicked her heels together—and now stars in the national tour of “The Wizard of Oz.” NOW YOU CAN ADD TERP STORIES TO THE APPLE NEWS FEED ON YOUR SMARTPHONE OR TABLET! JUST VISIT APPLE.COM/NEWS AND SEARCH FOR TERP.
NEW ARTS, FOOD, INNOVATION HUB ON THE MENU FOOD, THE ARTS AND EDUCATION will come together next
spring in a vibrant new center in College Park. The Baltimore development firm War Horse, owned by Scott Plank ’88, has partnered with UMD to repurpose the vacant garage behind the Hotel at the University of Maryland. The company will transform the building into a restaurant, stage, culinary-education kitchen, offices and other collaborative spaces indoors and out for UMD students, faculty and the broader community. It will be the latest addition to the more than two dozen projects so far in the Greater College Park initiative. The building boom includes new academic spaces; amenities such as housing, the hotel and arts venue MilkBoy + ArtHouse; and new public-private partnerships expanding research and innovation—all extending beyond the campus’s traditional boundaries.
“I’m thrilled to be back on campus using the tools I learned at Maryland to build a fun and exciting platform for artists and entrepreneurs to collaborate,” says Plank, who is also the brother of Under Armour founder and CEO Kevin Plank ’96. This new project will be modeled after two other recent War Horse redevelopments, Belvedere Square in North Baltimore and the Hall SF in San Francisco, both of which meld dining and the arts in neighborhood gathering places. The 9,000-square-foot building will be revitalized in two phases, starting with the August opening of the grassy courtyard, with a grill, chairs and tables, and games that encourage outdoor dining, meeting and play. Next year, new garage doors will allow the outside in, with a covered patio, an additional 200 to 300 seats, a restaurant, a teaching kitchen, and studio recording and performing space with the potential to expand academic connections with the campus.
Fresh Source $10M Grant Taps Into Nontraditional Irrigation Water climate change could make brutal droughts like the one gripping California more common, endangering the capacity of agriculture to feed a growing population. Developing alternative—and potentially eyebrow-raising—sources of water for farmers is the focus of conserve, a new multidisciplinary, federal Center of Excellence led by Amy Sapkota, associate professor of applied environmental health, and funded by a $10 million U.S. Department of Agriculture (usda) grant. “We’re out of water in key food production areas, and need to be very creative in harnessing nontraditional irrigation water sources that can be
safely used to grow our food,” she says. That means finding farm-based methods to clean up lower-quality water from streams, recycled agricultural water and even effluent from wastewater treatment plants, Sapkota says. Using such sources currently on crops eaten raw could increase foodborne disease risk, but umd, University of Delaware and usda researchers are testing a low-cost filter that uses sand and recycled iron to eliminate microorganisms as well as inactivate chemicals, Sapkota says. conserve collaborators at the University of Arizona, meanwhile, are cleaning water with ultraviolet light and ozone microbubbles, she says.
“We’ve shown that these technologies work effectively in the lab, and now we’re ramping it up to see if they’re feasible in larger settings,” including small farms around the country. umd collaborators include researchers in engineering, agriculture, microbiology and chemistry. Researchers from elsewhere, including the University of Maryland, Baltimore, will focus on legal and regulatory issues of using nontraditional water, and consumer reaction to food grown with these sources. “Will people purchase it?” she says. “First, we need to ensure that these foods are safe to eat, and then understand and address the potential barriers for social acceptance.”– cc
RENDERING COURTESY OF WAR HORSE; PURDUE AGRICULTURAL COMMUNICATION PHOTO BY TOM CAMPBELL
ASK ANNE Questions for Anne Turkos, the university archivist
I LOVE WATCHING GYMKANA PERFORM! HOW LONG HAS IT BEEN A STUDENT GROUP AT MARYLAND? —jeanne yang ’07
A: The exhibition gymnastics troupe is celebrating its 70th anniversary this year. Gymkana’s routines mix traditional competition gymnastics events like parallel bars, still rings and vaulting with more experimental acts like chair balancing, ladders and the crowd favorite ring of fire. Student members perform at Maryland basketball games, at local schools and for the troops—they even made it to the semifinal round of “America’s Got Talent” in 2011.
Q: WHO ARE SOME OF THE MORE REMARKABLE UMD
Q: MY GRANDFATHER, LIKE MANY OTHERS AT THE TIME, HAD TO LEAVE COLLEGE TO FIGHT IN WORLD WAR II. HOW DID THAT WAR AFFECT UMD? —timothy creech ’09, ph.d. ’15 A: World War II had a profound impact on almost every aspect of umd. Many male students, faculty and staff enlisted or were drafted, which allowed the women remaining to move into leadership positions. For example, Jackie Brophy became the first female editor-in-chief of The Diamondback in 1944. The university held a full schedule of classes year-round, pushing students to graduate in 2.5 years to support the war effort. Research and training were redirected to war-related topics such as increased food production, foreign language expertise and improved airplane and battleship construction. Students planted a victory garden, collected scrap paper and conducted blood, war bond and Community War Fund drives. Athletic competition continued in football, men’s basketball and boxing, but with fewer participants, and spring sports disappeared entirely from 1943–45. Following wwii, enrollment tripled within three years because of the G.I. Bill, and housing shortages led 880 men to bunk on the floor of Reckord Armory.
GRADS? THE YOUNGEST? THE OLDEST? THE ONE WITH THE MOST DEGREES? —becca starer ’13 A: The oldest graduate was Henrietta Spiegel ’89, who received an English degree at age 85. On the other end of the spectrum, Charles Fefferman ’66 earned degrees in both math and physics at age 17. (He went on to earn his doctorate from Princeton at age 20, and at 22, become the youngest full professor in the University of Chicago’s history.) As for the most degrees, Sandra Laake is one of three Terps who earned five. Hers, unusually, were all bachelor’s degrees, earned from 1967–2000 in art, education, history, social studies and English.
Questions may be sent to firstname.lastname@example.org or @UMDarchives on Twitter. ONLINE lib.umd.edu/univarchives | BLOG umdarchives.wordpress.com | FACEBOOK University of Maryland University Archives
PHOTOS COURTESY OF GYMK ANA AND UNIVERSIT Y ARCHIVES; SPIEGEL PHOTO BY JOHN T. CONSOLI
SPRING 2016 TER P
ALUMNI PROFILE / FLORENT GROBERG ’06
Team First UMD Grad Receives Medal of Honor
for Afghanistan Heroism RETIRED ARMY CAPT. FLORENT GROBERG ’06 remembers having almost no time to make the decision that changed his life, saved many others’ and earned him the nation’s highest award for valor. Groberg was in charge of security in August 2012 for a group of U.S. officers walking to a routine meeting in Afghanistan’s northeastern Kunar province when he noticed a man emerge from a building and bizarrely walk backward toward them.
CLASS NOTES Submit your class notes and read many more at terp.umd.edu. Groberg yelled out and immediately charged the man. As he flung him to the ground with help from Sgt. Andrew Mahoney, he felt—as he’d feared—a suicide vest beneath the attacker’s clothes. “It’s such a short story,” he says. “It was eight seconds from the time I ID’d the guy to the explosion.” The insurgent’s bomb detonated when he hit the ground, releasing a deadly spray of ball bearings that ripped away part of Groberg’s left calf. The blast threw him 15 to 20 feet and caused a traumatic brain injury as well. (Mahoney was less severely injured, and later received the Silver Star.) Another suicide bomber they hadn’t spotted detonated almost concurrently, and together the blasts killed four Americans. Nevertheless, Groberg’s self-sacrificing takedown stopped the bombers from penetrating into the heart of the troop formation and causing greater carnage. A brigadier general who watched it unfold later compared Groberg’s action to throwing himself on a grenade to save his comrades. Old friends at Maryland were shocked when they heard about the attack, but not surprised by Groberg’s actions. “He was always a team-first kind of guy,” says Andrew Valmon, head coach of Maryland’s track and field and cross-country teams. Groberg, a talented middle distance runner who earned a spot in the UMD record book for the 3,000-meter race, competed in most team relays even though it had the potential to increase his individual race times, Valmon says. The lessons of leadership and service began sinking into him at Maryland, says Groberg, a criminology and criminal justice major and former auxiliary campus police officer at UMD. “You could say I learned about brotherhood, and about having to learn to follow before you can lead,” he says. “But when I got to the military—that’s such a different organization than anything else. You are responsible at a young age for the lives of many other people.” Groberg, son of an American father and French-Algerian mother, spent his childhood in France and became a U.S. citizen in 2001. He’d long been focused on an Army career before joining in 2008. He built a reputation as a formidable soldier, said Brig. Gen. James Mingus, who put him in charge of his personal security detachment. “I hand-picked him based on personal observations and recommendations from his chain of command,” Mingus said in an Army press release. “Flo was and is a dynamic and powerful leader.” Next, he planned to join the elite 75th Ranger Regiment and hoped eventually to graduate to the Army’s Delta Force, which shares the military’s most secret and difficult missions with SEAL Team 6. “For an infantry soldier, that’s as high as you can aim,” he says. Groberg clung to the hope of returning to the battlefield as he recovered from his injuries at Walter Reed National Military Medical Center in Bethesda, enduring over 30 surgeries before finally accepting medical retirement. Today he’s a Department of Defense civilian who quietly wears a bracelet inscribed with the names of the men who gave their lives on what he calls “the worst day of my life.” In November, President Barack Obama placed the Medal of Honor around Groberg’s neck at the White House. Groberg, the president said, displayed the true meaning of courage in those eight decisive seconds—“not being unafraid, but confronting fear and danger and performing in a selfless fashion. He showed his guts, he showed his training, how he would put it all on the line for his teammates.”—CC
TOP AND BOTTOM ROW PHOTOS COURTESY OF RETIRED U. S. ARMY CAPT. FLORENT GROBERG; MIDDLE ROW PHOTOS BY JOHN G. MARTINEZ AND EBONI L . EVERSON-MYART; FLAG PHOTO BY JOHN T. CONSOLI
HAILEY JONES ’16 will follow graduation with a 4,000-mile, cross-country bike ride to support Bike & Build, a nonprofit benefitting affordable housing. The bioengineering major, who took four service trips while at UMD, will travel from Connecticut to California over 10 weeks. CONSTANCE ILOH ’09 was named to Forbes magazine’s 2016 “30 Under 30” list in the education category. A postdoctoral fellow and assistant professor at the University of California, Irvine, she presented her research on underserved college students at last year’s White House summit on education excellence for African Americans. “Nine Women, One Dress,” a novel by Huffington Post contributor JANE L. (LEVENBAUM) ROSEN ’87, will be published by Penguin Random House on July 12 in at least eight languages. The Hollywood Reporter calls it “‘Love Actually’ meets ‘Sex and the City’ as the little black dress of the season brings together the intersecting stories of nine women looking for love in NYC.”
Cruise the Italian Riviera or the Rhine River. Explore the elegant sites of Paris or Rome. Discover the marine life in the Alaskan seas. Choose your adventure when you travel with the University of Maryland Alumni Association.
I TRAVEL ALUMN For details on its 2016 travel program and to make your reservation, visit umaa.umd.edu/travel/2016
ALUMNI PROFILE / JIMMY ROBERTS ’79
Golden Moments Terp Broadcaster Shares Stories of Olympics Past veteran sportscaster jimmy roberts ’79 is heading to his 16th Olympics this summer in Rio de Janeiro, and he is in no way bored—few events can match the drama of thousands of athletes from around the world taking their shot at realizing lifelong dreams. “It’s one of the very few things that really gets your pulse elevated,” he says. “There is an urgency, and it’s palpable.” Roberts recently talked to Terp about a few standout memories from the quadrennial center of the sporting universe. The 1980 Winter Olympics in Lake Placid, N.Y., wasn’t only the occasion of the famed “Miracle on Ice” hockey game between the plucky U.S. squad and a heavily favored Soviet team. It was also where Roberts saw what he believes is the “single greatest athletic achievement of all time.” On an outdoor track at a nearby high school, American speed skater Eric Heiden won five gold medals in races ranging from 500 to 10,000 meters, an accomplishment Roberts compares to a runner taking gold in everything from the 100-meter dash to the marathon. “It’s just incomprehensible,” he says. Roberts thinks little compares to the grit of speed skater Dan Jansen, a talented American who overcame personal and professional heartbreak to finally earn gold in 1994. The perennial favorite was dogged in the Olympics by uncharacteristic mistakes and slow finishes; he might be best
known for competing in 1988, just hours after his sister died of leukemia, only to fall in the first turn and fall again in a race a few days later. But in his fifth games, he overcame a slip during Lillehammer’s 1,000-meter race and won, taking a victory lap with his baby daughter, who was named for his sister. “It’s the only time I’ve ever cried covering an event,” Roberts says. Sports are not immune to the outside world, and the Olympics are no different. Roberts remembers seeing the winter paradise of the 1984 Sarajevo Olympics complex turned into a war zone a decade later, and the patriotism-infused 2002 opening ceremony in Salt Lake City, just a few months after the 9/11 attacks. Roberts stood next to the cauldron as the 1980 U.S. men’s hockey team lit the torch. “The roar was just remarkable,” he says. “It was just magical.” In the 2000 Sydney Summer Olympics, Eric Moussambani of Equatorial Guinea was given a “wild card” entry into the 100-meter freestyle swim as part of the effort to encourage participation from developing countries without using qualifying times. When two other competitors in his heat false-started, Moussambani—who had never swum in a regulation pool before—doggy-paddled in front of the world’s savviest swimming fan base. Roberts, whose coverage of the story won an Emmy, says the erstwhile swimmer’s efforts won the crowd’s hearts. “The people had been laughing at first, but then they kind of embraced him,” he says. “By the time he’s finishing, he’s getting a standing ovation.” One of Roberts’ favorite memories has less to do with an athletic event than its location. He covered the shot put contest at the 2004 summer games in Athens, held at the same stadium where the Olympics began in 776 B.C. In the spirit of the place, the competition used no grandstands, electronics or artificial lighting. “I got an opportunity to stand in the spot where the very first sporting event happened,” he says. “I’m a sports reporter—who gets a chance to do that?”–lf
CLOCKWISE FROM TOP LEF T: SALT LAKE TRIBUNE; DUTCH NATIONAL ARCHIVES; COURTESY OF SHUTTERSTOCK; COURTESY OF DAN-JANSEN .COM; VINCE CALIGIURI; ROBERTS PHOTO COURTESY OF NBC UNIVERSAL
ALUMNI PROFILE / EVAN LUTZ ’14
Produce With Purpose Alum Fights Food Waste With “Ugly” Fruits and Vegetables WE’RE SPOILED AS SHOPPERS. We’re accustomed to dazzling displays of brightly hued fruit and crisp greens. We expect our produce to look perfect. But what about the fruits and vegetables that are misshapen, discolored and just plain puny, the estimated 6 billion pounds of fruits and vegetables that never make it to store shelves and are unceremoniously dumped instead? “If we’d follow our taste buds, not our eyes, we’d know that food doesn’t have to look good to taste good,” says Evan Lutz ’14, CEO and co-founder of Hungry Harvest. His subscription-based produce delivery service has a high-minded mission (or three): to salvage “ugly” surplus produce, thereby reducing food waste, employ homeless men and women to package the containers, and donate one meal to a local food bank for each box delivered. Since its 2014 launch, the Howard County, Md., company has recovered more than 500,000 pounds (and donated an additional 185,000) of unattractive or excess produce that local farmers would have otherwise tossed. In January, Lutz pitched his business on ABC’s reality show “Shark Tank,” and celebrity investor Robert Herjavec bit with a $100,000 infusion of cash.
PHOTO BY JOHN T. CONSOLI
Within three weeks, the company tripled in size to nearly 1,900 weekly subscribers, and the business expanded along the East Coast—from the D.C. area to Philadelphia and New York. Lutz plans to launch in Pittsburgh, Richmond, Boston, Miami and Chicago by 2018. Along with building healthier communities, Lutz aims to propel Hungry Harvest to become the nation’s largest produce delivery service in 10 years. Lutz came up with his vision while volunteering with the Food Recovery Network his senior year. Launched by UMD students to fight food waste by reclaiming dining hall fare, the nonprofit has ballooned to 170 campuses nationwide. He also sold “ugly” and surplus produce from Recovered Food CSA outside the Stamp Student Union,
eventually growing a weekly clientele of nearly 500 students. Sara Herald, associate director of social entrepreneurship at the Dingman Center for Entrepreneurship, mentored Lutz to a third-place finish in the 2014 Do Good Challenge, a campus competition that encourages students’ social entrepreneurship. “If you’re going to be a successful entrepreneur that’s set out to change the world like he has, you have to have that audacity and bold vision,” she says. Hungry Harvest, Lutz says, is centered on the term “conscious capitalism.” “We’re a for-profit company, but we want to do that the right way. Giving back to society doesn’t cost us any more, so why wouldn’t we?” he says. —NK
SPRING 2016 TER P
Virtual Connection Professors Test New Tech to Teach, Reach Students
remember the times you raced to reach a professor’s office hours to turn in a paper or ask a question, only to find the door locked? Today, office hours for some savvy faculty members at umd aren’t just in their office. Or limited to any particular hours. They’ve found that students who grew up with Google and have only distant memories of the first iPhone expect instant and constant communication. umd-provided email accounts and its Enterprise Learning Management Systems (elms), an online space to post assignments and grades, aren’t enough. The answer: to meet students where they are, on Snapchat, Reddit and other apps and platforms. “These technologies have the potential to really enhance classroom engagement and conversation and can potentially get more people involved,” says information studies Assistant Professor Jessica Vitak, an expert on social media privacy and relationship issues. But “you need to make sure there’s something that social media is providing above and beyond the alternate channels.” She uses Twitter and Google only as classroom tools, carefully shielding her digital accounts from her students. But others are diving headfirst into the technological current.–ks
SNAPCHAT Computer science lecturer Nelson Padua-Perez’s introductory courses attract hundreds of students, who are divided into 10 lab sections. “It is difficult for me to see what is happening on each one,” he says. “However, I thought that students could Snapchat what was going on.” Using the image-sharing app, popular among students because messages disappear after a few seconds, started as a one-off attempt to motivate his students to pay attention and for him to understand what they were up to outside of his classroom—but it brought him enough insight that he plans to keep using it.
PIAZZA As one of only three women in her computer science classes in India, Pooja Sankar M.S. ’04 found it difficult to ask questions. So in 2009, she created Piazza, an online platform to help students learn from each other, with simple ways to input math and computer science symbols and formulas. Today, a million students use it at more than 1,200 schools worldwide. “This is nicest for students who live off campus and can’t form study groups easily, as well as students who work late at night, as I’m not up then” and can’t respond to their questions, says math lecturer Kate Truman.
ILLUSTRATIONS BY KELSEY MAROTTA
REMIND Community health senior lecturer Sue Reynolds is on campus only two days a week, so she wants to be as accessible as possible for her students. Her solution is the Remind app, which easily lets the whole class know an assignment’s impending deadline or even if traffic will delay her arrival. Students download it, then text a class code to join the group. Why the app over text messages? Students and professors can keep their phone numbers private. (Reynolds also texts, however: If students have a project that requires several rounds of revisions, she says, “I’ll take a picture of it and send it to them so they can see the corrections. They’re getting the turnaround that much sooner.”)
REDDIT Few people use their real names in the sprawling world of Reddit’s message boards, so it’s a little surprising to see “JustinWyssGallifent” appear on the UMD page. Wyss-Gallifent, a math senior lecturer, primarily addresses administrative questions, like disputes about grades or how quickly they should expect professors to return assignments. He sometimes looks at threads on unrelated topics too, which “provides great insight into the students as people, not just students,” he says. “I think it’s made it easier for me to communicate with them.”
“I firmly believe that the only way technology really works is if you build the class around the technology,” says journalism Associate Professor Ron Yaros, who developed his own custom app that aggregates news, links to class blogs, schedules appointments, administers quizzes and more. “I’ve eliminated the more traditional aspects of the class,” he says. “I don’t use PowerPoint presentations because all the slides appear on their mobile devices. That way, they won’t be on another site, and they’ll interact with the class a lot more.”
FOR PROFESSORS LESS DIGITALLY PROFICIENT THAN YAROS, HELP IS ON THE WAY. As the chair of the new Learning Technology Working Group on campus, he says, “We’re working to understand the needs of professors and begin to prioritize what the university can support, instead of everyone doing their own thing.”
SPRING 2016 TER P
Throw in the Towel? Try the Javelin Former Soccer Standout Gets Second Shot as College Athlete
NO WONDER JILL MALONEY M.P.P. ’17 BELIEVED her athletic dreams were over: She’d battled months of numbness and pain before being diagnosed with a spinal condition that ended her competitive soccer career, then she landed in the hospital again for heart surgery. But less than two years later, the former University of Georgia (UGA) and Irish national team goalie has traded her gloves and ball for a more than 7-foot-long pole, competing in javelin for the Terps’ track and field team. “I’m really proud I’ve made it back,” says Maloney. “To get here and have a team… it was very surreal. I kept crying because I was so happy.” The Alpharetta, Ga., native was a U.S. Youth Soccer Olympic Development Program standout in high school. When a hand injury caused the U.S. to lose interest in her, she headed to Ireland (where her grandfather was born) and played throughout Europe and in the 2010 U-17 Women’s World Cup. Heavily recruited by colleges, Maloney arrived at UGA in spring 2013 after graduating early from high school. But one day after a routine practice dive, she recalls, “I felt a pop in my neck and my back hurt.” The discomfort persisted until a few weeks later, when she awoke in the middle of the night with her hands and feet completely numb. Instead of competing with the Bulldogs, she spent her first year at UGA undergoing MRIs , EKGs and nerve testing as doctors weighed diagnoses from multiple sclerosis to a tumor. They finally settled on spinal stenosis, a narrowing of the space in the spine that puts pressure on the spinal cord and nerves. It has no treatment or cure, and any future attempts to block a ball could potentially paralyze her, so she was medically disqualified in May 2014. To console Maloney, her father suggested she try the javelin, since a family friend could help train her. After just a few weeks of throwing, she signed up for her first meet and was thrilled to be back on the field, even if she placed last. Her body betrayed her again, however, as her heart began to pound erratically. She spent a summer undergoing testing, unable to practice, before having surgery for irregular arrhythmia. When she was cleared to compete, she hit her best-ever distance—36.65 meters, or about 120 feet—the walk-on standard for many schools. Determined to use her last two years of eligibility, she completed her undergraduate degree in just 2.5 years, then applied to graduate programs at colleges with track and field programs. Her perseverance won over Assistant Coach Roland Desonier, who says she’s always early to practice and a great influence on her teammates. “If you’re a good athlete with a good attitude, I can help you make something happen.” At Maryland, Maloney balances training with policy classes and research, including many trips to Washington, D.C., to visit embassies and agencies. She hopes to work in nuclear nonproliferation. For now, being on the field with new teammates is all she needs. “When they gave us all that stuff that said, ‘Maryland,’ I was like, ‘I made it,’” she says. “Probably the best day of the year.”–KS
Reclaiming Their Voices UMD, Baltimore High School
Students Explore Race and Urban Unrest Through Art the vulture hunches menacingly over the room. Its outstretched wings, shaped by long black feathers and metal wiring, span more than five feet. Fixed atop its head is a security camera. Its prey is the black youth of Baltimore, as this scavenger is a piece of art crafted by students to express their feelings about the police presence in the city, particularly during last spring’s unrest. The vulture is just one part of a contemporary art exhibit by advanced graphic design students from the University of Maryland and high schoolers from the city’s Augusta Fells Savage Institute of Visual Arts. “Youths have unique stories to articulate, but their message resonates
PHOTOS BY JOHN T. CONSOLI
with people of all “Yet a lot of people think UMD graphic design students met with high generations,” says Audra us kids don’t really schoolers from the Buck-Coleman, assistant understand what hapAugusta Fells Savage professor of design. pened. But we were there. Institute of Visual Arts “Art can reach people in We saw it, lived it and every two weeks in a unexpected ways.” went to school right in UMD studio to work on pieces for the exhibit. She launched the the middle of all of it.” project after watching media Other components of coverage of riots that followed Freddie the exhibit include a wall of 1,300 names Gray’s death. She says news outlets’ of those who, based on the students’ accounts focused almost exclusively research of newspapers, crime reports on violence and destruction, which and databases, died from police brutality generalized the city’s youth population in the city since 1960; a chalkboard as criminals. asking, “Who are you? And who are Producing the exhibit, running you not?” to spark conversation among through Aug. 28 at the Reginald F. Lewis museum visitors; and videos of students Museum in Baltimore, gave the 25 dancing, rapping and sharing poetry Augusta Fells students an opportunity, about their experiences. she says, to “reclaim their narratives” by Genesis Henriquez ’16, creative sharing their stories surrounding the director for umd’s part of the project, city’s turmoil. says the exhibit humanizes abstract Catania Nolan, a junior at Augusta topics like race and class and allows high Fells, helped create posters that show school students to discuss these hotbed only quotes from city officials and news issues in a constructive, artistic manner. articles until placed under a black light. “I hope that people who come to the Then changes to the quotes appear, exhibit really understand where these reflecting the students’ perspective. students are coming from, and how “Our story is more than just what it’s empowering them to speak up,” was in those news stories,” Nolan says. she says.–nk
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Formula for Good Health Researcher Pursues Link Between Infants’ Calcium Intake, Adult Maladies the battle for kids’ health starts much earlier than a preschool argument over French fries or carrot sticks, according to UMD research. In fact, determining the right level of nutrients for infants could hold the key to avoiding adulthood struggles with osteoporosis, obesity and diabetes. Chad Stahl, professor of animal and avian sciences, has been studying how
different levels of calcium in infancy can affect the development of bone marrow stem cells, which change into varied biological functions, and bones in piglets, which are effective stand-ins for human babies. In a study published in The Journal of Nutrition, Stahl fed them three modified baby formulas (adequate, deficient and excessive) and found that the 30 percent swing in calcium between them—an amount in human terms that is less than a single calcium supplement pill—changed bone composition and stem cell behavior. Piglets on the deficient diet had thinner bones with less minerals and stem cells that were more likely to turn into fat than bone. Piglets on the excessive diet had the healthiest immediate
results, with the strongest bones and mineral growth. The research, which mirrors what Stahl has found with phosphorus, underlines the importance of finding the optimal amount of calcium for early life. In a generation, he says, we may make huge health gains with changes to baby formula that would cost less than a penny and make no difference in flavor or consistency. The next step for researchers is to study the longer-term effects of a diet with larger amounts of calcium to see if it can help prevent diabetes and obesity and limit the creation of fat cells. “Understanding what is going on early in life is more critical than we have thought,” Stahl says. “Now we are talking about the fine tuning of nutrients.”—LF
ILLUSTRATION BY KELSEY MAROTTA
Safety Cells Aqueous Tech Could Take the “Boom” Out of Batteries burning hoverboards lit up the last holiday season. Before that, it was lap-blistering laptops and f lammable phones. The problem is lithium-ion batteries. Nothing else on the market packs as much energy, making them perfect for electricity-hogging devices. But they’re inherently unstable, ready to vent toxic gas, catch fire or even blow up if punctured or overcharged. “It’s why airlines don’t let you check them in luggage,” says Chunsheng Wang, associate professor of chemical and biomolecular engineering. “It’s like carrying a small bomb.” But now Wang and his collaborator, Army Research Laboratory senior research chemist Kang Xu, are closing in on technology to produce lithium-ion batteries that are both powerful and inherently fire-safe because these socalled “aqueous” batteries contain water. While aqueous lithium-ion batteries themselves aren’t new, Wang and Xu changed the chemistry—mainly by adding lots of salt—to produce one that’s more powerful than any before. In a paper published last fall in the journal Science, they showed off a battery that delivers 2.3 volts, rather than the normal 1.5. If they can increase output to close to 3 volts—and Wang believes they will—aqueous lithium-ion batteries may be viable replacements for conventional battery technology in many applications.
The killer app would be electric car batteries, Wang says. Automakers are working to tap into the power of lithiumion chemistry, which has far more punch than standard nickel-metal hydride battery packs. But current batteries have been blamed for a spate of recent car fires, and even caused the temporary grounding of Boeing’s newest airliner. The batteries Wang and Xu are developing might be a perfect fit—if they can pump up the power a bit more. “If we succeed in increasing the energy density, people will no longer say this is only for small devices with low energy requirements,” he says. “It will have a huge future in safety-critical applications.”–cc
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Google With a Grain of Salt Journalism Researchers Scrutinize Search Results “google” might be synonymous with “online search”—but don’t blindly trust its results this presidential election season, say UMD journalism researchers. “People question stories they hear about in the media, they question television advertisements and things the candidates themselves say,” says lecturer Sean Mussenden M.Jour. ’00. “But there’s a perception that Google is likely to deliver less biased information when that’s not the case.” He’s working with Daniel Trielli M.Jour. ’16 on a team led by Assistant Professor Nicholas Diakopoulos to analyze Google’s search results (favored by more than two-thirds of Americans, according to comScore) for the candidates running in the 2016 primary races. Their initial study, which surveyed the first page of search results for 16 candidates on several days in December, showed an apparent bias favoring Democratic candidates. More positive
results appeared on the first page for U.S. Sen. Bernie Sanders, for example, while U.S. Sen. Ted Cruz received more negative results. While Google is deliberately opaque with its algorithms, these results suggest that it favors official and social media pages—and candidates who aren’t prioritizing search engine optimization might be losing out. Sanders’ positive results on the first search page included multiple links to his official site, Facebook profile, Twitter feed and YouTube account. Cruz, on the other hand, had just a Facebook profile and two official website links. The rest of the results were news stories, which skewed negative. Now, “the question is what kind of news does Google rank?” says Diakopoulos. “What is the distribution of support or opposition across all news articles on a candidate? If Google only knows about The New York Times,
Politico and maybe 50 other outlets, that’s the news world according to Google, but obviously we know that’s not the full reflection of reality.” Though their initial methodology required crowdsourcing the analysis of hundreds of pages and tagging them as positive or negative to establish a baseline, their goal now is to design a program to scan more pages automatically, perhaps daily or hourly. They hope to have a prototype working by the two nominating conventions in July. “We don’t know how those positivity ratings change over time and how that relates to other measurements of public perception of the candidates,” Trielli says. “If we investigate further and see these connections, maybe Google favorability is indicative of a candidate rising in the polls in a couple weeks. If we have a tool that can map that, we can make journalists better prepared for those shifts.”–KS
ILLUSTRATION BY HAILEY HWA SHIN
FACULTY Q&A / LUCY DALGLISH
I think this is not entirely our students’ fault. This generation has been raised to have the best, to be protected. They all were in situations where they were all “special.” In the grand rush to provide stem education, with No Child Left Behind, all these other initiatives, civics education has been virtually eliminated from America’s elementary and secondary schools. STUDENTS HAVE DEFENDED RESTRICTING PRESS ACCESS AS NECESSARY FOR PRODUCTIVE DIALOGUE AND SAFEGUARDING VULNERABLE PEOPLE. DO YOU AGREE, OR DOES THAT BLUR THE LINE BETWEEN BEING PROTECTED AND BEING SHELTERED?
IS THERE A FREEDOM OF EXPRESSION CRISIS IN HIGHER EDUCATION?
I hope not. My generation was, “How dare you shut me up, I have a right to speak.” This generation is more, “Leave me alone.” We’re a much more multicultural society than 30 years ago when I was in college, and the only way we’re going to be able to manage this is if we’re talking to each other. We can’t just withdraw into our own little factions. We’re not going to survive as a country.
ARE RELATIONSHIPS WITH PARENTS AND SCHOOL CURRICULUM THE MAIN SOURCES? OR ARE THERE INFLUENCES FROM THE OUTSIDE WORLD AS WELL?
Talk About the Passion Lucy Dalglish, dean of the Philip Merrill College of Journalism, has made a career of fighting for free speech, whether as a media lawyer, reporter, editor or head of the Reporters Committee for Freedom of the Press. Now she thinks there’s a new First Amendment battleground: higher education. Last year saw a wave of campus protests that sprouted from racial controversies but often featured sideshow battles with the press, from students and faculty at the University of Missouri attempting to remove a photographer from a public quad to Smith College activists mandating explicit support from media before granting access to a sit-in. Dalglish talked to Terp about these clashes and how the best way to combat offensive speech is with more speech.–lf
It’s coming from a lot of places. Look at Congress— they can’t even behave in civil fashion toward each other. As you’re growing up, you model behavior for our young people. And you know who’s really losing out, particularly on campuses and places like this? The conservative students. Where do you think a kid that was promoting the Second Amendment would get to on this campus? We are preparing these students to be our future leaders and citizens, and they need to know how to engage in public discourse.
PEOPLE COMPARE TODAY’S ACTIVISM TO THE 1960S, WHEN STUDENTS ALSO STORMED ADMINISTRATION BUILDINGS AND ENGAGED IN CIVIL DISOBEDIENCE. HOW ARE STUDENT PROTESTERS TODAY MAKING DIFFERENT CHOICES?
Back then, student activists would do anything they could to get media attention. The more attention to what they were saying, the better. I want to hear what all these current students have to say. But if you’re just going to retreat to your own little meeting rooms and just let things boil and stew where everybody feels safe talking to each other, how are you going to learn? How are you going to grow?
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Not Playing Games UMD Research Elevates Virtual Reality Beyond Entertainment the room might be the strangest you’ve ever seen—soaring and palatial, with walls covered in a bizarre selection of portraits. Directly ahead is a photo of Taylor Swift, with one of Shrek to the right. Turn around to face the hawkish visage of inventor Nikola Tesla. This isn’t a weird dream, but a virtual reality (VR) environment constructed by computer science Ph.D. student Eric Krokos and viewed through an advanced virtual reality headset. He’s testing the hypothesis that people can better recall visual information—like whose virtual portrait hangs where in the room—in realistic-looking environments, rather than when viewed in two dimensions on a flat screen. “People are good at dealing with information spatially, but putting it on a screen makes it more abstract,” Krokos says. “Can we leverage a virtual reality headset to improve someone’s memory?”
An answer in the affirmative will have major implications for the fields of education and training. And it will illustrate how umd researchers are helping virtual reality—now driven by gaming and entertainment—grow up a little. After years of anticipation, VR hit the mainstream in recent weeks with the release of Facebook’s Oculus Rift headset. You need only to try the device to understand gamers’ excitement. Most of us will never drive a Formula One car or face a mob of zombies while low on ammo, but the full audiovisual immersion afforded by the Rift and competing headsets that Sony and htc are releasing this year almost make it feel like we are. Virtual reality game sales should reach $496 million in 2016, according to the global information firm ihs, and soar from there. But Maryland researchers working in a unique computer visualization lab called the Augmentarium (see pg. 18) are convinced the technology has more profound uses.
MEDICAL PHOTO COURTESY OF R ADAMS COWLEY SHOCK TRAUMA CENTER; RIF T PHOTO COURTESY OF OCULUS VR
Virtual reality and its cousin, augmented reality—which overlays computer imagery on the real world using a heads-up display like Google Glass—could revolutionize schooling, medicine, public safety and more. “The companies developing the technology are focused where the money is now,” says Amitabh Varshney, director of umd’s Institute for Advanced Computer Studies (umiacs). “We’re focused five or 10 years into the future, asking how we can use it to have a significant societal impact in critical areas.” For instance, would cities be safer if police officers watching a disorienting array of security monitors could slip on a headset for a 3-D virtual view of the city stitched together from myriad camera feeds? umiacs is testing just such a system outside the A.V. Williams Building using existing security cameras. “The point is to present visual information in a more understandable way,” Varshney says. “Instead of a person appearing and disappearing on different screens, which is confusing, the system follows him.” Medicine is another area that may be ripe for a virtual revolution. umiacs researchers are working with doctors at the R Adams Cowley Shock Trauma Center at the University of Maryland Medical Center in Baltimore to make training films more visceral and instructive.
umiacs researcher Sujal Bista ’05, M.S. ’10, Ph.D. ’14 last year filmed an abdominal surgery using a camera array that allows viewers to switch perspectives to see around intrusions like a doctor’s hand and view the surgery more closely. Future filming will use more capable camera setups, focusing on rare surgeries normally unseen by students. It’s the closest thing possible to participating in delicate procedures, Varshney says. And using ultrasound, researchers are aiming to give doctors the power to look at patients and virtually see inside them, with real-time images projected on heads-up display glasses. “The effect of much of the current imaging technology has been to drive us away from patients, even though we would prefer to be with the patient and focusing on them,” says Dr. Sarah Murthi of Shock Trauma. “Hopefully, what something like this will do is bring us back to the patient and away from the computer.” Gaming is a great showcase for the technology, but Murthi hopes people understand how much more practical its uses can be. “Being able to develop this technology for medicine depends on it being broadly accepted in society for uses beyond entertainment,” she says. “If we’re soon using it for navigation and many other practical things, the momentum from that could absolutely lead to a revolution in medicine.”– cc
A G R OU N DBR E A K I N G BU I L DI N G
NEWSDESK UMD faculty share their expertise with the media:
These communities become dumping grounds because they’re the avenues of least resistance. I call it contamination without representation.
SACOBY WILSON, PUBLIC HEALTH, ON A NEW STUDY THAT FOUND HEAVY INDUSTRIAL POLLUTERS TEND TO CLUSTER IN LOW-INCOME AND MINORITY COMMUNITIES, IN THE HUFFINGTON POST, FEB. 3
“I could see Trump being a failed nominee, and the whole thing being a debacle for them with lasting consequences. They would probably lose the Senate, then they would lose the Supreme Court.” DAVID KAROL, GOVERNMENT AND POLITICS, ON THE RISKS OF A CIVIL WAR IN THE REPUBLICAN PARTY, ON CNN, MARCH 4.
“[Heroin-assisted treatment] does reduce crime rates—very substantially. And I think that would probably be the case here.” The Brendan Iribe Center for Computer Science and Innovation will be UMD’s new hub for advances in VR and AR when it opens near the main entrance to campus in 2018. On Maryland Day, the university broke ground on the building, named for the Oculus VR co-founder and CEO and Terp who donated $30 million for its construction. The building will feature labs, makerspaces and classrooms that encourage collaboration in multidisciplinary computing fields like cybersecurity and artificial intelligence.
NEWSDESK ILLUSTRATION BY KELSEY MAROTTA
PETER REUTER, CRIMINOLOGY AND CRIMINAL JUSTICE, ON MARYLAND LEGISLATION TO START A PROGRAM USING HEROIN TO TREAT ADDICTS IN BALTIMORE, IN THE BALTIMORE CITY PAPER, APRIL 6.
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FACING A NEW REALITY RESEARCHERS ARE DEVELOPING new ways to look
at the world in the Virtual and Augmented Reality Laboratory, or Augmentarium. The lab features a large 3-D display wall, virtual and augmented reality headsets, interaction sensors, infrared cameras and eye-tracking systems. This technology puts UMD scientists and engineers on the ground floor of burgeoning research into virtual and augmented reality. Projects include new ways to observe child development, innovative navigation guides that overlay social media data on real-world locations and visualization tools that help astronomers understand how galaxies form.
PHOTO BY JOHN T. CONSOLI
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Pioneering Maryland Aviator’s Family leads push for WWII Recognition
MATERIALS COURTESY OF THE HARMON FAMILY; BOEING DRAWING COURTESY OF AVIASTAR.ORG
Then, in her senior year, she saw an ad in The Diamondback seeking volunteers for the U.S. government’s new Civilian Pilot Training Program. “That was the first thing I had seen that really interested me,” she recalled in an interview decades later. Underage and certain her mother would never approve, she got her father’s permission for flying lessons at College Park Airport. The pilot’s license she received after months of training opened the door to greater adventure in 1944 when the now-married Elaine Harmon entered the Women’s Airforce Service Pilots (wasp), the first group of American women to fly military missions. The organization was unceremoniously disbanded later that year and the jobs taken over by men before the women could be sworn into the military, as originally planned. Nevertheless, she and others fought for and won recognition from Congress of the wasps as war veterans in 1977. Harmon, 95, died last April planning her final act as a wasp— inurnment of her ashes at Arlington National Cemetery, where the remains of fewer than 20 of her old colleagues have been placed. Today, however, Harmon’s ashes remain tucked away in her daughter’s closet in Silver Spring, Md. Thanks to a new reading of the 1977 law by the Army, the gates of the nation’s most hallowed cemetery were closed to wasps a month before she died. “I’m glad my mother never learned about this,” Terry Harmon says. “She had fought so hard for the wasps over the years. It’s a matter of honoring and preserving their legacy, not so much having her own place there.” In denying her a place, the Army resurrected questions about who deserves a resting place at Arlington and what it meant to serve decades ago when strict gender roles severely limited women’s options. (By contrast, the Pentagon last year opened all military occupations to women.) Army officials have pointed out that the 624-acre cemetery overlooking the Potomac River is short on space, but wasp supporters question how the urns of a few more wasps could be a burden.
granted to their male counterparts. They saw no combat, but 38 wasps died while flying. Their families, not the military, bore the cost of bringing their bodies home for burial. Harmon’s family has pushed to overturn the decision, backed by widespread media coverage and a petition on change. org that had gathered 175,000 signatures by mid-April.The pressure appears to have worked. A bill introduced by a bipartisan group of women legislators to overturn the decision unanimously passed the House of Representatives in March, and the Senate was expected to approve similar legislation this spring to make room for the wasps in Arlington. “If they were good enough to fly for our country, risk their lives and earn the Congressional Gold Medal,” said U.S. Sen. Barbara Mikulski (D-Md.), a sponsor of the bill, “they should be good enough to be laid to rest at Arlington Cemetery.”
Whether they’d actually be good enough was an open question when the Women Airforce Service Pilots organization was born in 1942 to help fill a demand for pilots as the war intensified across Europe and the Pacific. Army Air Forces brass decided the thousands of female aviators in the United States could ferry planes stateside from factories to ports, help with pilot training and even tow the airborne targets for anti-aircraft gunners in training. The women who joined were told they would eventually be commissioned as military officers.
“They saw it as an experiment—can women do this?” says Kate Landdeck, an associate professor of history at Texas Woman’s University who has studied the wasps throughout her career and knew Harmon well. “And when they realized, ‘Oh, they can,’ then it was, ‘Well, let’s see what else they can do.’” It quickly became clear that wasps were more than a novelty. They could be relied on to deliver planes cross country faster than many men “because they didn’t have their little black books with them,” Harmon laughingly told an interviewer with the Women Veterans History Project in 2006. When some male pilots balked at flying the new B-29 bomber after frequent engine fires, Paul Tibbets, an officer overseeing its development (and eventual pilot of the Enola Gay, which dropped the first atomic bomb) turned the plane over to the wasps. “While they were being trained, they had a fire in the engine, and they handled it, no problem,” Harmon said. “So the men eventually decided, you know, if women can do it, we can, too.” Nearly 1,100 eventually earned their wings, collectively flying 77 kinds of airplanes 60 million miles during World War II, Landdeck says. They frequently did the same jobs as male military pilots but were paid nearly 20 percent less and got none of the insurance or benefits
Elaine Harmon learned of the wasps in a 1943 Life magazine article, and ached to sign up. She’d graduated from umd with a degree in microbiology, one of the few degree fields she said were open to women beyond teaching and nursing. But the lab jobs she’d held were dull. “I never really knew what I wanted to do,” she said in a 2006 interview with the Women Veterans Historical Project, joking, “I’m still trying to figure out what I would like to have as a career.” At first, the 35 hours of flying time from her lessons while enrolled at umd were too few to qualify for wasp training, but Army officials later eased stringent entrance requirements. Her husband, Robert Harmon, was repairing military aircraft in the Pacific at the time. His father had been a prominent World War I pilot, and a brother was a bomber pilot, but a heart defect kept Robert out of the military. He urged his 24-year-old wife to follow her own heart and join.
MATERIALS COURTESY OF THE HARMON FAMILY
Her mother was another story. Convinced the program was not only dangerous but the province of “loose women,” she opposed her pilot lessons from the start and refused to correspond with her daughter throughout the time she served. Elaine Harmon reported for training in March 1944 at Avenger Field near Sweetwater, Texas. Half of each day was spent in ground school on subjects like meteorology and the principles of navigation. The other half was spent learning to fly military planes. She was initially put off by the brash attitudes of many of the young women she encountered. “I’m not going to like these women,” she recalled thinking. “They’re so confident and full of themselves.” But the training class soon bonded in the way only military units can. On a training run over Munday, a small Texas town that was home to a class member with whom she’d become close friends, she engaged in her only instance of “Top
Gun”-style hotdogging. She decided to fly low and give the residents a wakeup call. “I got to buzzing, and I thought, oh, this is great fun,” she said. “I kept buzzing and buzzing, and I looked over, and there was an instructor.” She returned sheepishly to base, worried she’d be expelled. The only problem was, the instructor who’d spotted her antics didn’t know who was flying the plane—only that it was a member of a training group where everyone’s name began with an H. When he confronted the instructor in charge of her own group, Harmon’s squeaky-clean reputation saved her. “It could have been House, Hershey or Hughes, but it could never have been Harmon,” her instructor said. Unsure who to blame, they dropped the matter.
wasps lived under the code of martial discipline, marching in formation, making their beds tight enough to bounce a quarter, and submitting to inspection. “It was strictly military.” Harmon said in 2006. “We went to bed at night with taps, and we got up in the morning with reveille.” Their civilian status caused some deviations from military norms. For instance, women who failed the training were responsible for paying their own way home, so the others passed a hat
to help with train tickets. They had no regular training uniforms or laundry service, either. After a hard day in the Texas heat, caked with sweat and dust, they trudged into the shower wearing their flight suits—made for men and often comically oversized—to spray off the grime. Harmon finished training in November 1944 and reported to Las Vegas Army Air Field, where her main job was to ferry male pilots into the air whose view of the outside world was obscured so they could practice instrument flying. Interactions with airmen were professional, with no hazing or abuse, Harmon said. Nevertheless, the work she and other wasps often did was the kind male pilots considered beneath them. But the wasps, aware they were doing something quietly revolutionary, were far less jaded than the men. They relished what flying time they could get, and many hoped for long-term military careers, says another wasp, Bernice “Bee” Falk Haydu of Florida. “Where else could I go and fly these big, wonderful airplanes?” she says. But forces in Washington had already dashed those hopes by the time Harmon reached Las Vegas. Army Air Forces commander Gen. Henry “Hap” Arnold had long
supported including women in what would soon become a separate service branch, the U.S. Air Force. But as enemy air forces crumbled, the need for pilots shrank, says Landdeck of Texas Woman’s University. Male civilian pilot instructors were losing their draft-deferred jobs as a result, and facing the prospect of being sent into combat. They wanted wasp jobs, and they took their concerns to receptive legislators on Capitol Hill, she says. Harmon particularly remembered misogynistic attacks from influential newspaper columnist Drew Pearson. “He wrote these articles about us where he would make statements like, ‘These are million-dollar glamour girls wasting the taxpayers’ money,’” she said in 2006. “He never bothered to investigate what we had done.” Congress rejected Arnold’s proposal to militarize the wasp program, which was ordered to disband by Dec. 20
with none of the ceremony that typically accompanies the dissolution of a military unit. Harmon was able to catch a military flight, and then took a train home to Baltimore, where it was as if she’d never flown for the military at all.
Many years later, former wasps around the country were surprised by news stories in 1975 announcing women would be admitted to the Air Force Academy. For the first time, journalists intoned, American women would fly military planes. It’s like we’d never existed, Harmon realized. She’d spent three decades raising four children in Colesville, Md., both with her husband and after he died in 1965, but she still had a military pilot’s spunk and tenacity. The reports spurred her and others to action. “We started trying to find each other,” she said. “I got in touch with a few I knew,
and they knew some others, and everybody was doing this all over the country.” Harmon and other wasps had long rued obeying the Army’s order not to cause a fuss when the organization was disbanded in 1944. Now they were determined to get the recognition— as well as important benefits like Veterans Administration health care— that had been denied them. The effort was assisted by Washington lobbyist Bruce Arnold, Gen. Hap Arnold’s son, and Sen. Barry Goldwater (R-Ariz.), who’d flown with wasps. Harmon, treasurer for the campaign, believed the tipping point might have come when a group of them showed House Speaker Tip O’Neill an album with one of the honorable discharge certificates they’d all received. “He said, ‘That’s just like mine. These women are veterans,’” Harmon recalled. With veteran status attained in 1977, Harmon spent her later years speaking to journalists, schoolchildren and
MATERIALS COURTESY OF THE HARMON FAMILY; ARLINGTON NATIONAL CEMETERY PHOTO BY © 2011 CRYSTAL BORDE
historical researchers, making sure no one ever forgot about the wasps again. And her taste for excitement never flagged: She went bungee jumping in her late 70s and celebrated her 87th birthday with a ride in the kind of trainer she’d flown in the 1940s.
Elaine Harmon died in April 2015 after a long battle with breast cancer. Terry Harmon had already begun planning her mother’s Arlington funeral when she learned that outgoing Army Secretary John McHugh had concluded that the law granting wasps veteran status qualifies them for Department of Veterans Affairs-run cemeteries, but not the Army-administered Arlington. For families and surviving wasps, it was the latest display of systemic disrespect. Most, like Bee Haydu, always planned to be buried near home. But some, like Harmon, wanted to act on their belief that wasps should be represented in Arlington. “They lived under military orders, they fought, they lost their lives—they were military in everything but name,” Haydu says. “And they deserve to be honored and remembered like other veterans.” McHugh’s move sparked a backlash online and on Capitol Hill. Rep. Martha McSally (R-Ariz.), a retired Air Force colonel who was the first American woman fighter pilot to fly in combat, took up the cause and drove the legislation that now looks certain to reverse the decision. Even the Army appears to be on board, with acting Army Secretary Patrick Murphy recently backing the legislation before Congress. After a year’s delay, Terry Harmon is again planning a funeral. “It was my mother’s wish to be placed in Arlington, but also her wish that we not make a big fuss over her,” her daughter says. “We had to put one of those wishes aside to make sure the legacy of the wasps was honored. But I think she’d be incredibly proud her children and grandchildren took this up for her and for all of them.”
that we notice only when it becomes a nuisance. We order through an app to avoid more minutes in a Starbucks line; schedule the first doctor’s appointment of the day to head off delays; grab a flight with a squeaker of a connection to keep from spending an extra second in the airport. But what if we’ve been thinking about waiting all wrong? “We like to imagine our futures and reflect on our pasts, but we are so rarely in the present—or if we are, it’s a struggle to get there. Waiting is one of those experiences that puts us in the present,” says American studies Associate Professor Jason Farman, who’s writing a book on the subject. “I’m interested in human perception… how we actually experience time. If our true nature is waiting, as the Zen Buddhists say, then what does it say about us that we try to eliminate it out of our lives?” Waiting provides a unique perspective into a culture’s views on relationships and knowledge, he says. The expectations and emotions we feel as we wait—decades or months or milliseconds—color the messages we receive. Farman, a digital technology expert, offers a glimpse, from the dawn of civilization right up to our current, instant-gratification society, of how evolving technologies have changed our relationship with the waiting game. 26
before written language or papyrus or vellum, the aboriginal people of Australia transmitted messages from tribe to tribe via message sticks. These foot-long,
came from its source. Hair or feathers could be attached for
often intricately carved and painted batons conveyed diplomatic
identification. For the first time, a shout across a village wouldn’t
missives or friendly greetings, serving as both a mnemonic device
suffice. These tools connected people who weren’t face-to-face,
for the carrier to interpret and as proof that the message indeed
and as a result, waiting for responses became commonplace, as an essential part of the process that connected societies across distant lands.
by looking toward the heavens. Then came water clocks and incense sticks, candles and hourglasses. Even as clock towers were erected in the centers of great cities, time remained a fluid thing for the average person, varying from village to village, home to home. But the invention of wearable time—pocket watches and wristwatches became popular during the 16th century and World War I, respectively—and trains, which could travel vast distances in a day and prompted the creation of time zones, led to more exacting standards of timeliness. “Being able to have a watch on us and wearable time, it really changed how we understood time, and had expectations about what being on time meant,” Farman says. “The experience of duration shifted with those objects: commerce, labor, punch clocks and breaks—the regimentation of time really changed.”
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These innovations raised expectations among the millions of soldiers fighting the Civil War that they could regularly communicate with the families they left behind. Before then, a soldier’s family might not know where he was or whether he even lived until he returned home. In the Revolutionary War, only the wealthiest could send mail, which might take months to arrive. But by the Civil War, hearing nothing could inspire anxiety, if not all-out panic. “Why have you been so remise [sic] in writing to me, have I offended you in any way?” wrote Lottie Putnam to her Confederate sweetheart on March 8, 1864, not knowing he’d been captured. “I beg you, implore you, beseech you, entreat you to tell me why you have not written, and why you have obliterated me from your memory.” (They later reunited and married.) At the top, President Abraham Lincoln was the first to use the telegraph to instantly contact generals, during the Battle of Gettysburg. It turned out, Farman says, that they preferred waiting. “This was the first time the president was right in your ear, and many of them felt insulted by that presence.”
a complaint of being “hangry” would get you nowhere. The slang term, meaning hungry to the point of angry, was born of the convenience of 24-hour marts, cheap snacks and prepackaged food. But just a few generations back, even the simplest meal required planning hours, days or even weeks in advance. The animals had to be raised and slaughtered and the plants to be planted and harvested; fires had to be lit and water had to be carried; meat needed to be chopped and vegetables to be washed. And that was before the cooking even began. The era of fast food—popularized not just by McDonald’s but also TV dinners and the invention of the microwave—changed all that. Today, speed remains the standard throughout the U.S., where a 2011 Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development study found Americans spent just 30 minutes a day preparing and cleaning up meals, compared to more than an hour in Turkey and India. In many parts of the world, hours are set aside for each meal, and the time between courses is part of the experience to be savored. The slow-food movement wants to bring that back to the U.S., urging people to embrace waiting for seasonal ingredients and taking time to cook, chat and pay attention to the dishes and the people around you. 28
uncharted territory, Farman says, we imagine their plights in distant lands, whether they’re sailors setting off from ancient Greece; Lewis and Clark across the Pacific Northwest; or soon, the first humans to Mars. Our scope of the world broadens with each week or year they’re gone, as we envision where they could be. During the Apollo 8 mission on Christmas Eve in 1968, astronauts on the first manned lunar orbit lost radio contact with Houston for 32 minutes when they traveled to the “dark side” of the moon. The millions who watched were captivated. Were there massive craters or mountain ranges we couldn’t see? Creatures of lunar folklore—or aliens? What stories would they tell upon their return? “We create narratives about their journey, about the new world, about people falling off the end of the world,” Farman says. It’s the waiting period that brings society together, as shared ignorance begets new ideas—and eventually, shared knowledge.
Subscriptions have surpassed 7 billion—one for every human on Earth. And since 2009, we’ve been more likely to send a text than make a call. “It seemed bizarre to me,” says Farman, who studied umd students to find out why. The intrusiveness of ringing a person, instead of a place, pushed them to the more passive medium, he discovered, and the timing of their response often signified the nature of their relationship. For example, they tended to reply more quickly to an acquaintance, like someone calling to set up a meeting for a class project or an interview, rather than friends or family members who were checking in. Farman says, “It’s kind of counterintuitive, but it means, ‘I don’t have to respond right away because you know me.’ Built into that relationship is that you know I care enough that I’ll respond when I get a chance.” Japanese teenagers think differently, he says. They send blank text messages to their significant others to test their devotion: how quickly they’ll respond with another blank text. The longer the time lag, the more the sender fills it with meaning. “It’s called “flash messaging,” and it’s like a little nudge across distances,” says Farman. “There’s absolutely no content. The content is time. The content is waiting.”
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NBA All-Star Carmelo Anthony works out under the watchful eye of Idan Ravin ’92.
PHOTO COURTESY OF PETER READ MILLER, SPORTS ILLUSTRATED AND GETT Y IMAGES; T YPE ILLUSTRATION BY KELSEY MAROTTA
IDAN RAVIN ’92 NEVER PLAYED A MINUTE OF COLLEGE OR PROFESSIONAL BASKETBALL— BUT THAT DOESN’T MATTER TO THE NBA PLAYERS HE MAKES EVEN BETTER BY LIA M FA RRELL
CARMELO ANTHONY WAS NOT HAVING A GOOD NIGHT. The New York Knicks forward spent the first minutes of a February game against the Boston Celtics missing jump shots and struggling to defend Jae Crowder, a powerful player six years younger and sans Anthony’s recurring knee problems. Then Anthony’s elbow brushed Crowder’s face, causing enough contact—or acting, according to the ensuing boos of Knicks fans crowding Madison Square Garden—to draw a flagrant foul and send Anthony and his coach, Derek Fisher, into paroxysms of rage against the referee. Fisher’s tantrum earned a technical foul, but Anthony—whose reputation for maturity has waxed and waned in his 13-year career—quickly cooled from exasperation to mild annoyance. The All-Star came back in the next quarter and whipped a pass across court to a teammate for a three-pointer, closing off an early Celtics run; about a minute later, he grabbed a rebound and sank a jumper to put the Knicks ahead. It was exactly what Idan Ravin ’92 predicted would happen. He has never played a minute of college or professional basketball, but Ravin has been Anthony’s personal trainer and consigliore since 2003, putting the superstar through a regimen of physical and mental exercises designed to make him a top competitor. Known as the “Hoops Whisperer,” Ravin has harnessed intense focus and love of sport to transcend a traditional religious childhood, leave behind an erstwhile law career and break into the sanctum of professional athletics. With a blend of unorthodox drills and inspirational aphorisms, he has tutored dozens of the world’s best, including LeBron James, Stephen Curry and Chris Paul. Ravin’s image as Horatio Alger in Air Jordans has captured the attention of everyone from basketball-centric SLAM magazine to The New Yorker. “I never dreamed that basketball would take me to what I call this unimaginable life I live today,” he says. “I just knew I loved something.”
Ravin grew up in pre-tony Potomac, Md., the son of devout immigrants from Israel and Russia who taught the Old Testament and Holocaust studies in Jewish schools. Surrounded by religion and ritual, he chafed at the thought of a traditional path like law or medicine and frequently prayed that God would not let him turn out ordinary. Ravin fell in love with basketball in middle school, from a pragmatic perspective as much as an artistic one. Without much money or access to coaching, and with few close friends nearby, he found joy in the communion of a ball and hoop. He stared at the photos of jump shots in Sports Illustrated to figure out how to play. He made up his own drills, dribbling between parked cars to learn how to keep the ball close and practicing in the coldest weather so his numb hands would make everything more difficult. Persistence was always part of Ravin’s character, says his younger sister, Aynat ’96, and it was reinforced by a hardworking household where “‘almost’ doesn’t count.” “He has always been a very determined individual,” she says. “He always knew what his passion was. But I don’t think at a young age he knew how to get there.” Ravin played varsity ball at Charles E. Smith Jewish Day School in Rockville, but had a thorny relationship with his coach and wasn’t in a program that got the attention of college recruiters. He tried out for Maryland’s team as a freshman walk-on and made the final round of cuts, but ultimately missed out. At the time, the failure seemed like a rebuke to Ravin’s faith, that the promise of Proverbs 10:4— “A slack hand causes poverty, but the hand of the diligent makes rich”—was an empty one. Now, he sees it as a defining moment.
Ravin has gone from athletic obscurity to shepherding the careers of basketball’s best.
PORTRAIT BY JUSTIN STEELE; PAUL PHOTO COURTESY OF GETT Y IMAGES AND LAYNE MURDOCH
“Had I made the team, maybe that would have been the closure I needed to put the ball away,” he says. “It also forced me to continue to forge my own path.”
Ravin kept chasing the game while at Maryland. He went to playgrounds all over the Washington area, searching for the best competition in one of the nation’s basketball hotbeds. But “real” life eventually intruded—he graduated with degrees in finance and marketing, enrolled in California Western School of Law and later began working as a lawyer. His 2015 memoir, “The Hoops Whisperer,” chronicles the winding path his life took from there, as Ravin could never settle into law or let basketball go. Under the stress of billable hours and the guise of community service, he coached a youth YMCA team, putting them through the same drills he had made up as when he was their age. After three unhappy years, he resigned from the law firm and moved back to his parents’ home. While job searching and reading self-help books, he volunteered to help friends from his playground days prepare for playing basketball overseas. Although he eventually gave law another chance and worked at a D.C. firm, he couldn’t give up those evening and weekend sessions at the gym, no matter the cost of leaving the office early. He had fallen in love with practice, and his enthusiasm was contagious. Word spread through the close-knit local basketball community, and Terps like Steve Francis and Juan Dixon showed up at the gym. Ravin was eventually laid off from his D.C. law job, causing as much relief as anxiety. And after years believing “work” only meant a laborious
Ravin has a stable full of all-star talent like Chris Paul, right.
slog for cash, a check from former Duke star and NBA Rookie of the Year Elton Brand after a few training sessions became the final push through that misconception. “For a very long time, I was a zero-star chef, and then I became a one-star chef, a two-star chef, and hopefully these days I am a five-star chef,” he says. “Every day I get a check for my work, I’m as surprised as the first time.” Although his client list has grown and his lifestyle now includes traveling with players on private jets and appearing in commercials for Nike and Degree, Ravin, who lives in New York but spends much of his time on the road, has worked to keep his one-on-one training consultancy grounded and discreet. He avoids networking and marketing, preferring wordof-mouth to business card exchanges (in fact, he has no business cards), and he searches for the simplest, most isolated gyms possible to whittle the game to its purest form. Some players he sees for a single session, others become long-term clients; he chooses not to chase, and leaves it up to them. The workouts are generally short and intense, built around the mood of the athletes. He conducts drills at a fast pace to simulate games and improve conditioning, and keeps his voice conversational, steady and devoid of colorful language. David Halberstam wrote in “The Breaks of the Game” that pro basketball is a “curious amalgam of great skill, great ego and great anxiety,” and Ravin addresses all three of those spheres. Most important is creating a space where spectacular athletes are allowed to fail. “The key is to make them great basketball players,” he says, “not just people who can touch the backboard with the tip of their nose.” So when he worked out LeBron James, Ravin— whose 6-foot, 175-pound frame is dwarfed by his clientele’s—didn’t just stand there in awe of the perfectly constructed athlete; he ripped apart the superstar’s dribbling, tapping James’ chin every time his eyes drifted down to the ball and planting his forearm in the two-time champion’s grill to keep him steady. In one of his sessions with the towering Dwight Howard, Ravin spent an entire 45-minute session trying to get him to jump rope without clipping it on his feet or the ground.
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“You have to be firm but loving. Tough but fair. Difficult but not annoying. A teacher but not selfrighteous. There’s a lot of dancing,” he says. “I’m a maverick, I feel. I’ve bucked the system. But I know they still have to play in the system.”
Ravin says no NBA player has quizzed him on his 40-yard-dash time or dunking ability. The only people who care about conventional qualifications, he says, are the “institution” of professional coaches, trainers and assorted hangers-on. It’s a complex position, rife with the land mines common to big-time money and big-time athletics. Players need to protect and maximize their livelihoods, while coaches need commitment to a collective plan and team to protect theirs. As an outsider in an insider’s world, Ravin is where those motives collide. Perhaps unsurprisingly, a half-dozen teams contacted by Terp declined to make their players available for this article. Ravin readily admits he can be “abrasive,” but contends he is anything but unappreciative to be associated with professional basketball. “I know people have called me difficult,” he says. “That’s OK. That’s just being opinionated and being passionate, but never not gracious or grateful for this life.” His book recounts an illustrative episode of the tightrope Ravin walks. When Ravin introduced himself to Hall of Fame Coach Larry Brown, then coaching the Charlotte Bobcats, Brown bristled at how Ravin was working with players on his roster without express permission. (“If you want to learn how to develop players,” Brown said, according to Ravin, “you need to attend my practices.”) “Traditionally, the NBA’s been an insular world,” says Chris Ballard, a senior writer at Sports Illustrated who wrote about Ravin in his 2009 book, “The Art of the Beautiful Game.” “Setting him apart even more, he lacked the pedigree that teams like to see from outside trainers.” Ballard says this dynamic is starting to change, and some players even have an outside group of specialists to help them, but Ravin’s “approach— holistic, almost mind-body—is relatively rare.” “Like many, I was skeptical at first, but Idan has a way with players—calm but authoritative, always on their side while also challenging them,” he says. “And when it comes down to it, in the NBA the only thing that matters is whether something works, and sometimes, even whether a player believes something works.”
“I KNOW PEOPLE HAVE CALLED ME DIFFICULT... BUT NEVER NOT GRACIOUS OR GRATEFUL F0R THIS LIFE.” IDAN RAVIN ’92
Ravin’s initiative doesn’t stop at the borders of a basketball court. He is in constant communication with players on a perpetually buzzing phone, going to lunch with them, attending their games and award ceremonies and weddings, and even, in the case of Miami Heat forward Amar’e Stoudemire, accompanying them on excursions to the Holy Land. Not surprisingly, his relationship to a game is different from a fan’s, as he roots less for teams than for his players. So when Anthony and the Knicks lost to the Celtics on that February night in Manhattan’s beating basketball heart, the result itself wouldn’t have mattered much to Ravin. (It mattered plenty to the “institution”—after a streak of losing nine in 10 games, Fisher was fired.) For as poorly as Anthony shot, Ravin would have been heartened by how his friend spent halftime methodically practicing his free throw so that in the third quarter, he sank a pair to keep the Knicks close. It wasn’t until the game’s waning minutes, when the Celtics pulled away and team desperation took over, that Anthony started attempting ill-advised shots and committing bad fouls. “You can make shots the wrong way and you can miss shots the right way,” Ravin says. “We redefine what winning is.” Now in his mid-40s, Ravin doesn’t play much basketball anymore, but when he went back home for Hanukkah last year, he joined his mother on a visit to the local Jewish community center to swim. Afterward, he stopped in the gymnasium where he had spent so many hours as a kid, and hoisted some shots. The rims were the same; the floors were the same; the gym even smelled the same as it did when he was falling in love with a bouncing ball and the sound of it swishing through a net. “Never would that 11-year-old boy have ever envisioned that he would transcend five universes to be somewhere else,” Ravin says. “I’m not supposed to be here.” TERP
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