Page 1



College of Chemical & Life Sciences / University of Maryland / Spring 2010

In this issue

Predicting Change, Protecting Biodiversity Evolutionary Lessons in Hearing Teaming Up Against Malaria Big Challenges, Nanoscale Solutions

From the Dean Dear Alumni, Friends, and Colleagues: On July 1, after serving the college for a decade as dean, I will be stepping down and assuming the position of Interim Vice President for Research. The past decade has been an exciting and rewarding time for the college and for me, professionally and personally. The college has grown in strength and excellence as we have focused our research, academic, and outreach programs through three cycles of strategic planning, and emphasized transparency, equity, communication, inclusiveness, and teamwork in our day-to-day work. Our most important accomplishment is undoubtedly the recruitment of more than 60 very talented faculty members, primarily in the areas of our strategic research initiatives—environmental sustainability, genomics, host-pathogen interactions, nanoscience/ biomaterials, and sensory neuroscience. We can also take great pride in our new facilities, most notably a new $69M Bioscience Research Building, a $23M Chemistry Teaching Wing, more than $8M in renovations of existing facilities, and several new core facilities housing sophisticated research instrumentation. New institutes and centers empower our research enterprise—the Maryland Pathogen Research Institute and the Centers for Bioinformatics and Computational Biology; Biomolecular Structure and Organization; and Comparative and Evolutionary Biology of Hearing. Annual funding for sponsored academic and research programs has grown to more than $30M ($275K/faculty FTE). Four faculty members are members of the National Academy of Sciences, one is a member of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, and many others have won major international, national, or university awards. Ongoing innovation in undergraduate education has been a hallmark of the college, fostered by continuous support from the Howard Hughes Medical Institute and several grants from the National Science Foundation. Our student body is diverse and talented; CLFS students regularly win major national scholarships and fellowships, and compete successfully for admission to prestigious graduate and professional programs. Their numbers have swelled from 2,015 in 2000 to 2,887 in 2010, and total student credit hours have grown by 37%. We made a transformational change in our graduate programs in the biological sciences in 2009 by reorganizing them to create an umbrella graduate program with four concentration areas that received more than 700 applications this spring. Graduate programs in chemistry and biochemistry have gained strength, and are known nationally for their success in recruiting and graduating members of under-represented groups. Several CLFS graduate programs have federally funded training grants that support students and postdocs in specific disciplines, and the college’s growing number of post-docs are benefitting from a new Post-doc Association. We have developed robust communications, information technology, and outreach programs that enable us to connect with friends, alumni, and emeriti faculty members. The college’s Board of

Visitors provides invaluable advice and assistance, and a new alumni chapter is off to a strong start. Support for the Great Expectations capital campaign has been strong, with more than $20M raised to date. As I step down as dean, we are looking forward to a major organizational change that will build on all that we have done together over the past 10 years, and create huge new opportunities. During the past year, the College of Chemical and Life Sciences and the College of Computer, Mathematical and Physical Sciences (CMPS), have been discussing the merger of the two colleges to create a new college, with ten departments—four from CLFS and six from CMPS. This reorganization will greatly expand the intellectual horizons of faculty members and students, increase the visibility and impact of our scientific programs, enhance opportunities for interdisciplinary activities, and eliminate administrative barriers. While a vote in the University Senate will not come until fall, there is every reason to expect that this reorganization will be approved and very successful. I believe that the creation of this new college will be one of the most important and successful events in the recent history of the university, and I look forward to participating in its development. Finally, I want to express a few more personal thoughts. I count myself very fortunate to have had the opportunity to lead a college blessed with unparalleled opportunities and remarkably talented and dedicated faculty, staff, and students. It has been a pleasure to get to know and work with faculty members and staff who were at the university when I arrived, and to recruit new faculty members who will become the next generation of scientific leaders. I have also greatly enjoyed the opportunity to recruit, mentor, and graduate many outstanding students, and to meet and become friends with distinguished friends and alumni. As dean, I’ve had the privilege of working with a great group of people within the college and across campus. I especially want to acknowledge the college’s associate deans and chairs, my fellow deans, the senior leadership of the university, the many accomplished faculty members whom I count as friends, and the college staff, who are as wonderful and dedicated a group as one could find anywhere. Finally, I want to thank my friends and family who have been a tremendous source of strength and support throughout this journey.

Norma M. Allewell, Professor and Dean

Contents 13

Predicting Change, Protecting Biodiversity

How UM Biologists are Deciphering the Impact of Environmental Changes on Ecosystems

Teaming Up Against A Killer


How UM and UMB Scientists are fighting malaria with Advanced Genomics


Big Challenges, Nanoscale Solutions How the Department of Chemistry and Biochemistry is Advancing Nanotechnology

Faculty & Research

Students & Alumni

02 Can We Hear How They Hear?

06 Running with Research

04 New Faculty

20 Priceless Advice

Evolution Informs Auditory Research

05 Faculty Accolades 22 Circle of Discovery

HHMI Research Fellowships Turn Undergrads Into Stellar Scientists

Alumni Inspire Young Scientists on the Path to Success

23 Tracing Our Roots

The Evolution of the Departments

24 Alumni Photo Gallery

Great Expectations 21 Great Expectations Campaign Update

Why do the sensory cells in the human ear “die” as we age, resulting in hearing loss?

Why are birds and fishes able to replace dead sensory ear cells and restore hearing?

Can We Hear How They Hear? Evolution Informs Auditory



Researchers at the University of Maryland Center for Comparative and Evolutionary Biology of Hearing (C-CEBH) are asking questions like these in the search for new ways to protect and improve hearing ability as we age, and to cure deafness and hearing disorders. This group seeks to understand not only how and what we hear, but also how and why hearing evolved. Taking an evolutionary perspective, C-CEBH scientists use a comparative approach to examine hearing in diverse model systems ranging from fishes to birds, alligators, ferrets, and humans. Many of the basic biological principles, such as the function of cells involved in hearing, are similar across vertebrate species, so investigators can select the model that best suits the research question at hand. Supported with research and training grant funds from the National Institute for Deafness and Other Communication Disorders (NIDCD) at the National Institutes of Health (NIH), C-CEBH spans 13 labs in three

college of chemical & life sciences / university of maryland

colleges and four departments: the Department of Biology (Chemical and Life Sciences), the Departments of Psychology and Hearing and Speech Sciences (Behavioral and Social Sciences), and the Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering (A. James Clark School of Engineering). Many of these labs work closely with researchers at the NIDCD. C-CEBH has received an NIH training grant for more than 16 years to support graduate student and postdoctoral researchers, and an NIH Core Center grant that supports interdisciplinary research activities among laboratories. The diverse team of experts in C-CEBH has developed into one of the leading research groups in the world working to advance our understanding of all aspects of hearing, and to train students in auditory neuroscience. Co-Directors Arthur Popper (Biology) and Robert Dooling (Psychology) are both studying auditory hair cells and the ability to recover hearing. Popper’s lab has shown that fishes can not only replace the sensory cells that

How can hearing mechanisms in owls, small reptiles, and insects inspire more sophisticated hearing aids?

die as a result of over-exposure to loud sounds, but, unlike humans, they continue to produce these cells that restore hearing throughout their lives. Dooling’s lab has shown that birds also restore their hearing by replacing auditory hair cells and retaining complex auditory function. Other faculty members are examining how hearing develops and matures. Catherine Carr’s lab (Biology) studies how the auditory part of the brain develops in barn owls and what makes them so good at determining the location of sounds. Katrina MacLeod (Biology) and Monita Chatterjee (Hearing and Speech) are using lessons learned from owl studies to improve the auditory processing mechanisms used in human cochlear implant systems. Owl hearing mechanisms could be incorporated into the microprocessors of future hearing aids to remedy problems in detecting low-frequency sounds. The laboratory of David Yager (Psychology) is exploring insect and frog hearing and applying this information to develop new types of hearing aids. Patrick Kanold’s lab (Biology) is using mice to study brain circuitry involved in early development to gain a better understanding of why we can learn well as children but lose some of this ability as we age. For example, why can children easily learn new languages, while adults

often struggle? With Shihab Shamma (Electrical and Computer Engineering), who is studying mechanisms of adult hearing and plasticity in ferrets, Dr. Kanold is exploring how brain circuitry and learning changes over time. Sandra Gordon-Salant (Hearing and Speech) has demonstrated that decreases in hearing capabilities are related not only to loss of sensory cells, but also to a slowing in the speed by which the brain processes sounds as we age. Another focus of C-CEBH labs is how the brain processes sounds that are detected by the inner ear. Dr. Cynthia Moss (Psychology) studies echolocating bats as a model system to understand hearing and perceptually-guided behavior. Her collaborator, Dr. Timothy Horiuchi (Electrical and Computer Engineering), is using data on bat echolocation to develop neural models of the brain to understand how animals perceive, interact with, and learn about their environment. C-CEBH investigators are also trying to document how noise from human activities is affecting human and animal hearing and health. Work in the Gordon-Salant lab provides insight into how workplace noise affects the human auditory system. The Popper lab has contributed to understanding how increased human activity in the marine environment is affecting aquatic

Praying mantis PHOTOS: David Yager. Bat photo: Cynthia Moss.

life and its survival. The Dooling lab studies on bird hearing are leading to critical questions about how noise from road building and urban development impacts the ability of birds and other wildlife to survive. Whether a matter of survival or quality of life, C-CEBH scientists are optimistic that they can apply insights gained from studying different species to develop new cures for chronic human hearing problems. Future hearing aid technologies may owe their design to a gecko, barn owl, or praying mantis, and to C-CEBH’s broad interdisciplinary and evolutionary approach to the study of hearing.

The Scope / Spring 2010


New Faculty Norma Andrews Kwaku Dayie

Daniel Butts Norma Andrews is professor and chair of the

Daniel Butts is an assistant professor of biol-

Kwaku Dayie is an associate professor of

Department of Cell Biology and Molecular Genetics. She is a cell biologist and molecular parasitologist whose research focuses on the mechanisms of host cell invasion by parasites found in the Amazon basin, specifically Trypanosoma cruzi, which causes Chagas disease, and Leishmania, which causes Leishmaniasis.

ogy. He is a neurobiologist concerned with understanding how the visual cortex processes sensory information. He develops theories of system-level function in the visual and other sensory systems, and works closely with neurophysiologists to design and perform experiments that can guide and/or validate these theories.

chemistry and biochemistry specializing in biophysics and drug discovery. He studies the structure, dynamics, and functions of RNA complexes involved in many biological and disease processes. Dayie’s research has implications for biomedical advances, including the possibility of using RNA molecules to repair diseased cells.

Karen Lips

Paul Paukstelis

Carlos Machado

Karen Lips is an associate professor of biology

Carlos Machado is an associate professor

Paul Paukstelis is an assistant professor of

and director of the graduate program in Sustainability and Conservation Biology. Her research is focused on the conservation and ecology of amphibians and reptiles. She has been describing the geographic and ecological patterns of wild populations of amphibians following die-offs caused by a fungal disease.

of biology. He is an evolutionary biologist interested in understanding how populations and species diverge. He is using population genetic data and functional genomic approaches to study the genetic consequences of evolution in subdivided populations, such as vinegar flies.

chemistry and biochemistry. He is interested in nucleic acid structure and is using x-ray crystallography and other biophysical techniques to explore how proteins can influence RNA structure and to develop DNA-based technologies at the emerging interface between biology, materials science, and engineering.

YuHuang Wang is an assistant professor

YuHuang Wang


of chemistry and biochemistry. He is a nanoscientist working to establish the molecular science of carbon, and the fundamental principles that govern the assembly of nanostructures into ordered solids and functional networks. He is developing double-walled carbon nanotubes that can be used to advance technologies in electronics, energy, and biomedicine.

college of chemical & life sciences / university of maryland

Dayie & Lips photos: John Consoli. Andrews Photo: Loretta Kuo. Others: Faculty.

Faculty Accolades Rita R. Colwell, Distinguished

University Professor, was awarded the 2010 Stockholm Water Prize, the world’s premier award for waterrelated research or policy work. Dr. Colwell’s pioneering research in prevention of cholera and other waterborne infectious diseases has helped protect the health and lives of millions. Her work bridges microbiology, ecology, public health, and computer and satellite technology. Colwell’s use of satellites to track sea temperature changes has enabled her to predict and reduce cholera epidemics. This approach has established a basis for environmental and infectious disease risk assessment around the world. Michael Doyle, professor and chair

of the Department of Chemistry and Biochemistry, and Catherine Fenselau, professor of chemistry and biochemistry, were elected to the inaugural class of Fellows of the American Chemical Society in recognition of their outstanding scientific contributions and service to the society. Dr. Doyle, who has led the department since 2003, specializes in the development of highly selective and efficient catalytic processes for the synthesis of biologically relevant compounds.

Dr. Fenselau’s pioneering research and applications in mass spectrometry has spanned an award-filled career of four decades. William Fagan, professor of

biology and internationally recognized leader in combining math and biology to help solve real-world conservation problems, was recognized as a University of Maryland Distinguished ScholarTeacher for 2010-11. Fagan develops conceptual and quantitative frameworks for dealing with spatial challenges in ecological systems and has projects focused on the ecological recovery of the volcano Mount St. Helens, the migration patterns of gazelles in Mongolia, and the biodiversity of penguins in Antarctica. He also leads an NSF-funded project to improve the mathematical literacy of undergraduate biology students. Frederick Khachik, senior

research scientist in chemistry and biochemistry, received the 2009 Astellas USA Foundation Award from the American Chemical Society for his research on blindness prevention. Khachik’s research focuses on carotenoids, dietary compounds found in fruits and vegetables that accumulate in the retina and can help prevent vision

loss caused by age-related macular degeneration. Khachik developed a process to isolate and purify two of these carotenoids, lutein and zeaxanthin, from marigold flowers and plants, to be used as dietary supplements. A clinical trial is under way at the National Eye Institute. Arthur Popper, professor of

biology and associate dean, received the 2010 University System of Maryland Board of Regents’ Faculty Award for mentoring. The awards are the highest honor presented by the board to exemplary faculty members from the 13 University of Maryland campuses. In response to a study revealing that the campus was losing junior faculty, especially women and minorities, Dr. Popper established a task force to address the problem. Out of this came a guide on mentoring junior faculty and a series of workshops that have helped junior faculty better transition to tenured appointments. Raymond St. Leger, professor of

entomology and a world leader in the study of fungi that attack insects, was recognized as a University of Maryland Distinguished Scholar-Teacher for 2009-10. His research ranges from genomic

analysis of the infection process to genetic engineering of fungus strains to better kill insect pests. His work has been applied to target malaria-carrying mosquitoes, and beetles that destroy coffee crops—all without contaminating the environment as chemical pesticides do. St. Leger was also named the 2009 Society for Invertebrate Pathology Founders’ Lecturer, the highest award given by the group. Devarajan Thirumalai, professor

of chemistry and biochemistry and director of the biophysics graduate program, received a Humboldt Research Award from the Alexander von Humboldt Foundation. Thirumalai’s research group develops quantitative theoretical and computational methods to solve major problems in biophysics. Using principles of statistical mechanics, polymer physics, and numerous computational techniques, this group studies the dynamics of protein folding and aggregation, with applications to diseases such as Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s. In addition to a cash prize, the award supports collaborations with German scientists.

National Academy of Sciences Inducts John Weeks Distinguished University Professor John D. Weeks was elected a member of the National Academy of Sciences (NAS) in April 2009, in recognition of his pioneering work on the static and dynamic properties of crystal surfaces and non-uniform and confined liquids. Membership in the NAS is one of the highest honors a scientist or engineer can receive. Since 1990, Weeks has been a professor in the Department of Chemistry and Biochemistry and the Institute for Physical Science and Technology (IPST). He is widely known as a co-author of the standard theory for uniform simple liquids, and has created key concepts in the modern theory of material interfaces. “This is a long-deserved recognition for a most creative scientist and wonderful colleague,” said Rajarshi Roy, director of IPST. The Scope / Spring 2010


Running With Research HHMI Research Fellowships Turn Undergrads Into Stellar Scientists For almost 20 years, the University of Maryland has received funding through the Howard Hughes Medical Institute (HHMI) to support innovative undergraduate education in the biological sciences. In May 2010, HHMI announced a new four-year, $1.5

million award to the university that continues its support for undergraduate research programs, curriculum and faculty development, and outreach programs for secondary school students and their teachers. Dean Norma Allewell is the director of the program. The long-term support from HHMI has provided several generations of University of Maryland students with the opportunity to participate in rigorous, multidisciplinary scientific research. Students in the undergraduate research fellowship program conduct complex, multi-year research projects under the mentorship of a faculty member and share their results with the scientific

community. The program encourages highly motivated students to immerse themselves in the scientific process and provides exceptional preparation for graduate and professional school. “Those of us who get to know students like this remember them years later because their early ambitions and accomplishments are so great,“ says Kaci Thompson, director, undergraduate research and internship programs. “The students profiled here—Leor, Rich, and Sarah—all exemplify the stellar achievements that the HHMI program aims to foster.”

Alumnus Leor Weinberger Pioneers Radical HIV Treatment Dr. Leor Weinberger (B.S., Biology and Physics, ’98), now assistant professor of chemistry and biochemistry at the University of California, San Diego, showed a unique early ability to connect different disciplines to answer complex research questions. Biology Professor Marco Colombini, who was one of Weinberger’s mentors when he was a University of Maryland HHMI undergraduate fellow, recalls how Weinberger employed his knowledge of mathematics and botany to explore a biophysical research problem related to the formation of cellular membrane channels. “One of Leor’s strengths is in noticing patterns that other people might not pick up on, and what underlying reason might be behind these patterns,” Colombini says. Weinberger’s career since leaving UM shows a pattern of hard work in pursuit of a new paradigm for the treatment of HIV and other viruses, and a variety of awards that recognize the strides he has made in this area. Most recently, he received a prestigious New Innovator Award from the National Institutes of Health to support his work to develop novel antiviral therapies to fight diseases like AIDS and hepatitis C.


Developing vaccines against these diseases has proven exceptionally difficult, so Weinberger is taking a radical approach that could have revolutionary results. His lab is developing transmissible therapies that can pass immunity from person to person. Weinberger’s idea extends and expands upon a recognized benefit that occurs with liveattenuated vaccines: the “passive immunization” of secondary individuals when transmission of a vaccine occurs between people. For example, the vaccine chosen for the current worldwide polio-eradication effort by the World Health Organization is known to sometimes transmit between individuals to ultimately immunize those who were not directly immunized with a dose of vaccine. Weinberger’s work aims to extend this idea to develop therapies with optimized transmission capabilities. “In resource-poor settings, such as subSaharan Africa, antiretroviral drugs against HIV have had very limited success in reducing population-level disease burden, due to issues with treatment access and rollout,” Weinberger says. “If we could develop therapies that can replicate and efficiently spread immunity along with the pathogen (i.e. ‘piggyback’), these

college of chemical & life sciences / university of maryland

Weinberger’s undergraduate research projects were supported by two HHMI Fellowships under the mentorships of Drs. Todd Cooke (Cell Biology and Molecular Genetics) and Marco Colombini (Biology).

transmissible therapies could overcome many of the logistical and behavioral challenges facing current treatment strategies.” Weinberger is optimistic about developing therapies for HIV and a variety of diseases, including cancer, based on his research combining mathematical models and single cell imaging techniques to decipher how genetic circuits work to suppress or enhance the development of disease.

Rich Smith Launched into Advanced Neurobiology as Honors Undergrad

He presented at international conferences, taught electrophysiology to dozens of post-docs, rubbed elbows with Nobel Prizewinning scientists, and is a published scientist—all by the age of 21.

ABOVE: Rich Smith (left) and Dr. Ricardo Araneda (Biology) in the neurobiology lab. Smith aspires to one day lead a lab of his own, investigating neurodegenerative diseases.

Rich Smith, who received a bachelor of science in neurobiology and physiology in May 2009, ran with research opportunities as an undergraduate, and hasn’t stopped running. Smith joined Assistant Professor Ricardo Araneda’s neurobiology lab during his sophomore year, as the professor’s first undergraduate student. In Dr. Araneda’s first semester at the University, he and Smith set up his electrophysiology lab together. Araneda’s research focuses on how the brain dynamically controls olfaction, providing insight on the nervous system’s role in shaping how and why we smell during different conditions. The lab also studies adult neurogenesis of cells in the olfactory system—a novel model for studying cell death associated with neurodegenerative diseases, such as Alzheimer’s. “Rich is very smart and hardworking,” says Araneda. “He was very quick to learn the techniques we use in the lab. In a short time I was able to trust him with some of the projects we work on, one of which became his biology honors thesis.” Smith quickly gained experience in whole cell electrophysiology, a technique where electrodes are used to measure the changing electric properties of the cell. His experience in the technique led Araneda to bring him along, two years in a row, as a teaching assistant for a summer course at the Woods Hole Marine Biological Laboratory, an international center for research, education, and training in biology.

A key factor to his growth and success was receiving an undergraduate research fellowship from the Howard Hughes Medical Institute. “The funding enabled me to focus on my research project, try new experiments in the lab, and travel to conferences to present my work,” Smith explains. His GPA rose to a 4.0 since he started research, and he graduated with high honors from the Biology Department’s honors program. “Every undergrad should have to do research,” he says. “It helped me to bring my book-learned understanding of science together with bench research, and now I’m a neurobiologist and physiologist.” Smith appreciates Araneda’s mentorship, which allowed him to take ownership in the lab, with guidance. “I was given a responsibility, and that made the difference.” Since graduation, Smith’s research venture continues at Maryland, where he is a Ph.D. student in biology, and serves as a teaching assistant for the cellular neurophysiology course. His research on the adrenergic system was published in the Journal of Neurophysiology as an undergraduate, and another first-author manuscript is in review at the Journal of Physiology. Smith is excited about his thesis project, in which he hopes to bridge the gap between neuromodulation and neurodegenerative diseases.

The Scope / Spring 2010


Sarah Peitzmeier apparently requires no more than two hours’ sleep. That’s one professor’s theory for how the 20-year-old senior conducts complex research on the role of milk proteins in modulating autoimmune diseases, plays Chopin’s sonatas on the piano with breathtaking accuracy, and also finds time to prepare fine French pastry, volunteer at a sexual assault hotline, and maintain a 3.99 grade point average. The accomplishments of Peitzmeier, a double major in cell biology and molecular genetics and music performance graduating this spring, extend well beyond Maryland, with her recent selection as a finalist for the 2010 Rhodes and Marshall scholarship programs. Two of the nation’s most competitive scholarships, they both cover all expenses of graduate study in the United Kingdom. As a sophomore, Peitzmeier received an HHMI undergraduate research fellowship, which gave her the opportunity to conduct research in immunology in the lab of Ian Mather, a professor of animal and avian sciences. Her first project was cloning DNA, and she continued to work 10 hours per week there, studying the relationship between certain milk proteins and the development of diseases like multiple sclerosis. Her independent work in Mather’s lab earned Peitzmeier a $7,500 Barry M. Goldwater scholarship in 2009, a national award for undergraduates who excel in math, engineering, and the sciences. She was also chosen as the 2010 University Medalist, the highest academic honor bestowed on a graduate. “Of the more than 20 undergraduates that have completed independent research projects in my laboratory over 33 years, I would place Sarah at the top,” says Mather. At Mather’s suggestion, Peitzmeier applied for an internship in Scotland, where she has spent one month each of the past two summers in the neuroimmunology lab of Christopher Linington at the University of Glasgow. She stayed with Linington and his family while overseas, and discovered each had a passion for the culinary arts as well as science. A trip to Paris last summer with her own family convinced Peitzmeier to enroll in a semiprofessional pastry program. Her experiences as an online volunteer for a national sexual assault hotline and a peer advocate for a sexual assault response and prevention program at the university continue to influence her interest in science. “I am interested in research on how gender-based violence affects HIV epidemiology,” she says. She is looking at a graduate program at Harvard, where she hopes to work with top researchers in the field of human rights and health. As for how she balances her many pursuits, Peitzmeier suggests that her scientific and creative sides complement one another, like yin and yang. “I approach my music scientifically,” she says, “while playing the piano or making classic French pastries recharges me to think creatively about what I am doing scientifically.” 8

college of chemical & life sciences / university of maryland

As an HHMI Fellow, Peitzmeier conducted research in immunology.

University Medalist Sarah Peitzmeier Tackles Science with Creativity As a piano performance student, Peitzmeier performed a selection of works from Bach, Schubert, Mozart, and Chopin for her senior solo recital.

Teaming Up

against a Killer

How UM and UMB Scientists are fighting malaria with Advanced Genomics

The Scope / Spring 2010


College of Chemical and Life Sciences evolutionary biologist Michael Cummings didn’t know much about malaria in 2007. Then he met Christopher Plowe, a professor of medicine and chief of the Malaria Section in the University of Maryland School of Medicine’s (UM SOM) Center for Vaccine Development. Plowe was looking to better understand the malaria parasite’s genetic diversity, and attended the Workshop on Molecular Evolution that Cummings directs at the Marine Biological Laboratory in Woods Hole, Mass. “Malaria parasites mutate and evolve so quickly,” says Plowe, “that developing drugs and vaccines is like chasing a moving target.” Cummings, an associate professor of biology, had already been using statistical and computational techniques to map the evolution of DNA sequences in a variety of organisms, including plants, flatworms, butterflies, and the tuberculosis bacterium. After meeting Plowe, he decided to take on an even more daunting challenge—tracking the molecular evolutionary genetics of malaria. From that fortuitous meeting three years ago, Cummings’s and Plowe’s efforts have blossomed into a multi-institutional partnership that is using advanced bioinformatic tools to combat malaria, a disease that sickens an estimated 250 million people each year, killing close to a million of them. “Applying a molecular evolutionary perspective to the study of the malaria parasite is giving us new information about why it has been so challenging to develop an effective malaria vaccine,” says Cummings, who is also associated with the university’s Center for Bioinformatics and Computational Biology. “This research collaboration has the potential to narrow the targets for vaccine development and offer new ways to prevent and treat malaria.” Treating malaria has become an increasing challenge because the parasite has become resistant to most commonly used drugs. To address this, Plowe—who is also a Howard Hughes Medical Institute (HHMI) Investigator—developed diagnostic tools that can detect whether malaria parasites that are making people sick are resistant to standard malaria drug regimens. These rapid molecular tests are being used worldwide to ensure that people receive the optimal drugs to combat their malaria infection. Plowe is also working to develop a vaccine against malaria, a daunting and elusive goal. Collaboration sparks progress

Plowe and colleagues Shannon Takala, assistant professor of medicine at the UM SOM, and Mahamadou Thera, a professor of parasitologymycology at the University of Bamako, Mali, have been working together on malaria research studies for several years. They have seen the public health impact of malaria firsthand and have dedicated their careers to taking on this formidable adversary. In search of new tools to advance her research, which is funded by a grant from the National Institutes of Health (NIH) Multidisciplinary Clinical Research Career Development Program, Takala also went to study with Cummings at his Workshop on Molecular Evolution in Europe. Thera attended the workshop held in Massachusetts. Energized by their working sessions with Cummings at his interna-

Malaria’s Extreme Genetic Variability This map shows the global and regional genetic variability of a single protein within the malaria parasite. The geographic differences suggest that malaria vaccines might need to be tailored for each region. Scientists from the University of Maryland and the University of Bamako, Mali are testing a vaccine based on this protein. The pie charts show frequencies of the variants in (A) South America, (B) Mali, West Africa, (C) Nigeria, (D) India, (E) Thailand, and (F) Papua New Guinea. Each variant is indicated by an eightletter code representing its amino acid sequence. From Extreme Polymorphism in a Vaccine Antigen and Risk of Clinical Malaria: Implications for Vaccine Development. Shannon L. Takala, et al. Science Translational Medicine 14 October 2009 1:2ra5. Reprinted with permission from AAAS.

tionally renowned course, the three malaria researchers brought this molecular evolutionary biologist onto their team, and secured a seed grant from a program designed to facilitate collaborations between the University of Maryland, College Park and Medical School campuses. They reconvened in Baltimore and in College Park to explore how to apply Cummings’ bioinformatic tools to their vaccine development efforts. “What Michael does is very different than anyone in the molecular epidemiology field,” says Plowe. “It is very powerful and very useful.” Chasing a moving target

Takala led the team, which included Plowe, Cummings, Thera, and research colleagues based in Mali, and sought to examine the diversity of the parasite population in human beings, and how this correlates to clinical outcomes. Their focus was on a particular protein—AMA1—found in the genome of the deadliest of the malaria parasites, Plasmodium falciparum. This antigen has been found to stimulate the human immune response associated with clinical protection from malaria infection, and is considered a promising target for vaccine development. The problem is that the evermutating parasite displays an amazing genetic diversity, even within this single protein. “There is no one AMA-1,” explains Thera. “The parasite develops various forms in order to not be recognized by the human immune system. If you design a vaccine based on one form, you may not be successful.” The research team tested malaria parasites from 100 children in Bandiagara, Mali over a three-year period. The children, ages six months to 20 years, all experienced multiple malaria

infections, which is unfortunately all too common in rural Africa. Among more than 500 separate malaria infections the children experienced throughout the study, the research team found 214 distinct types of the AMA-1 protein. “The genetic diversity we found in the AMA-1 protein was so high that these children could not have an effective immune response to multiple malaria infections,” says Cummings. This was the first study to look in depth at the variability of the AMA-1 protein and relate it to the individual patient’s risk of clinical malaria illness. “Children were more likely to get sick when they had changes in certain parts of the protein than others,” explains Takala. This information helped to narrow down the immunologically important targets for a vaccine, but explains why it has been and continues to be so challenging to develop one. BEginning to see the light

This international research team continues its quest to outsmart the world’s most complicated and deadly parasite. Together the researchers are able to confront questions that would be impossible to tackle alone. These questions include how to stop the spread of drug resistance and how to predict how the parasite may change so that more effective drugs and vaccines can be developed. The group is searching for ways to stop the spread of resistance to a class of anti-malaria drugs (artemisinins) derived from a Chinese herb. These have been extremely successful in treating malaria that has become resistant to the traditional drug regimens. Cummings is playing a key role in pinpointing where resistance is coded in the parasite’s genome. The goal of eradicating malaria worldwide remains fraught with challenges, but collabora-

tions like these suggest that more lives will be saved. As scientists track the parasite’s every move, and get better at predicting how it will evolve, better monitoring and treatment strategies are emerging. “This collaboration has really been a good winning team,” says Thera. “Before, vaccines were developed like you were working in a dark room, but these new tools that came out of the molecular evolution workshop will help guide the direction for appropriate vaccine development. Progress will be coming at a much faster pace now. We’re beginning to see the light.” scope

“What Michael does is very different than anyone in molecular epidemiology. It is very powerful and very useful.” —Christopher Plowe

PHOTOS, First page, clockwise from top left: Michael Cummings (Photo: Shawn Wright); Christopher Plowe with a child who participated in the study (Photo: christopher Plowe); electron micrograph image of Anopheles Mosquito; P. Falciparum (Photos: CDC Public Health Library). Previous page, top to bottom: Michael Cummings with his Workshop on Molecular Evolution class in Czech Republic (Photo: Michael Cummings); Chloroquine, a common malaria drug; Shannon Takala and physician colleagues in Mali. (Photo: Shannon Takala).

The Scope / Spring 2010







Fagan lab researchers Heather Lynch and Evan Grant count Gentoo penguins on Petermann Island, Antarctica. Photo: Steve McLean.





ow UM Biologists Are Deciphering the Impact of Environmental Changes on Ecosystems

To postdoctoral researcher Heather Lynch, population shifts among penguins on the Antarctic Peninsula aren’t simply a matter of black and white. While the effects of rising temperatures on the Earth’s southernmost point are well documented—melting sea ice and increasing wet snow—the impact of those changes on penguin survival is still unclear. For the past four years, Dr. Lynch has been working in Biology Professor William Fagan’s lab and in Antarctica with a nonprofit research group to study penguin populations and create mathematical models that may explain how climate changes benefit some species over others. Lynch is one of several College researchers who study the dynamics of populations of plants and animals to understand, and possibly one day predict, the impacts of habitat changes on those organisms. That understanding is critical to making conservation decisions about population survival, on small and large scales.

The Scope / Spring 2010


In the past 50 years, Antarctic temperatures have increased 4 to 5 °C.

Winners and Losers

In the past 50 years, mid-winter temperatures along portions of the Western Antarctic Peninsula have increased 4 to 5 °C, and the relative populations of gentoo, Adélie, and chinstrap penguins appear to be changing in step with the climate. Gentoo penguins, usually more northern breeders, are not only surviving—their numbers are increasing—and their range is expanding southward. Ice-loving Adélies, on the other hand, are declining on the Western Peninsula, except in the most southern areas, which have yet to lose significant amounts of sea ice. Chinstraps are declining all along the Antarctic Peninsula. Lynch is applying the skills she’s learned in Dr. Fagan’s world-renowned lab to figure out why. Fagan and his research team create complex theoretical models combining biology and math to help solve real-world conservation problems, and have projects focused on insects on the Mount St. Helens volcano, fish in India, and gazelles in Mongolia. The penguins intrigued Lynch, who linked up with the Antarctic Site Inventory. Scientists at the Maryland-based nonprofit Oceanites have spent the past 16 years on this project traveling up and down the Peninsula on eco-tourism


cruise ships, hand-counting penguin nests and chicks. For another phase of the project, funded by the National Science Foundation (NSF), the researchers lived in tents on Petermann Island to study penguin reproductive success during the November-to-March austral summer. There are many reasons why one species of penguin could be thriving and the others are not. Gentoo penguins are more aggressive than Adélies in establishing new colonies, and this gives them an advantage as snow melt opens up new breeding habitat. The balance of krill and fish the penguins feed on has changed with melting sea ice—okay for the gentoo, not so good for the Adélie and chinstrap. Lynch’s statistical models discovered an important component to the way in which climate change may benefit some species over others. “The one thing no one had looked at before, and turns out was important, was the mean monthly temperature right before the start of the breeding season,” Lynch says. “Gentoo penguins are flexible enough to get a jump-start on breeding when the spring is unusually warm, but Adélies are not. This may give the gentoos an advantage as the temperatures get warmer on the Peninsula.”

college of chemical & life sciences / university of maryland

Lynch’s analysis will be important in conservation decisions for popular Peninsula tourist landing sites like Petermann Island. More than 40 ships bring 40,000 eco-tourists to the area in the warmer breeding months, and those numbers are increasing. How will that human activity add to the already changing habitat at that critical time? “These penguins—Adélies, gentoos, and chinstraps—are not, as yet, of conservation concern when you look at overall worldwide population numbers,” says Lynch, “but I think they can be viewed as ‘canaries in the coal mine’ when it comes to climate change and anthropogenic effects on the Antarctic Peninsula.” Melting Snow

When Biology Professor David Inouye started counting wildflowers in Colorado’s Rocky Mountains in 1973, he wanted to know how the abundance of flowers affected his primary research interest, the bumblebees that live at high altitudes. As his original plan to count the flowers for just one season extended into a second and a third year, and on to today, Dr. Inouye’s data started to show that something was changing up on the mountain—the climate was warming.

High altitude climates are changing most quickly, and can show us what the future may bring at lower altitudes.

It was a discovery that would shift the primary focus of Inouye’s research from a population of bees to understanding what the changing habitat was doing to the ecosystem in that mountain meadow. “At higher altitudes,” says Inouye, “there’s only one major environmental event that determines timing of the flowering—when the snow pack melts.” About 10 years ago, Inouye began to see that the snow was melting earlier in the season. As a result, the flowers at the Rocky Mountain Biological Laboratory field station in Crested Butte were blooming earlier. “I leave College Park for Colorado after May commencement every year, and used to get there before the flowering. I no longer arrive before the flowering starts, which now happens as early as the middle of April.” What has not changed, however, is the region’s final frost, an event that sets off a ripple effect. The frost, typically occurring around June 10, kills buds on the earlier blooming plants, which leaves fewer or no flowers and nectar for pollinators, and fewer seeds for next year’s crop—and the animals that eat seeds. “There now is good evidence from my work that there is significant ongoing climate

change, and there are effects on mountain ecosystems,” says Inouye. With an NSF grant funded in 2009, Inouye is starting to look at whether the changes are affecting pollinator numbers and phenology, the timing of seasonal events. Inouye has been active in applying his research to conservation. With the Nature Conservancy, he has talked with land managers about how to use his data to plan for climate change. He’s involved in the USA National Phenology Network, which encourages people like gardeners and birdwatchers to contribute observations about when plants bloom and migratory birds arrive to the network’s website. He also envisions that his research could help protect our food supply. “High altitude climates are changing most quickly, and can provide insights into what the future may bring at lower altitudes. The information we’re gathering about the increased frequency of frost damage to mountain wildflowers may also serve as an early warning for agriculture.”

Top Photo: In Colorado’s Rocky Mountains, the timing of snow melt determines other seasonal events such as when wildflowers bloom. Above: Dr. David Inouye has been studying plants and their pollinators in the Rocky Mountains since 1972. Photos: David Inouye. Opposite page Left: Breeding chinstrap penguins at Baily Head, Deception Island, Antarctic Peninsula. Photo: ©2010 Ron Naveen/Oceanites. Opposite page right: Gentoo penguins may be the climate change “winners” as their numbers are increasing. Photo: Heather Lynch.

The Scope / Spring 2010


one-third of the world’s amphibians are in decline, and many may be extinct.

Killer Fungus

Biology Associate Professor Karen Lips is counting and studying creatures in several very different habitats—from frogs in the tropics of Panama to salamanders in the Great Smoky Mountains. But her research centers on a worldwide crisis—the devastation of entire populations of amphibians by a killer fungus. In the past 30 years, nearly one-third of the world’s amphibian species have declined in numbers, and many may be extinct. Pollution, climate change, and other environmental factors have contributed to these losses, but Lips and her colleagues have discovered a far more deadly and fast-moving killer, the fungus Batrachochytrium dendrobatidis (Bd). The fungus thrives in the same cool, wet surroundings that frogs and salamanders prefer, and changes in climate can influence the rate that Bd spreads and the intensity of infection Bd causes. The fungus spreads like wildfire through naïve populations, wiping out over half the species and over 75 percent of the individuals at a given site within four months. “The rate of spread in Central America is about 22 kilometers per year,” says Lips, who has been researching frog extinctions for 20 years. “At that rate, we have less than five years before all healthy sites will be lost from Central America.” 16

Like Inouye and Lynch, Lips is looking at habitat and biology to find clues that might help her understand why one species survives and another dies. “My team is piecing together data from different sites,” Lips says. “By analyzing patterns of decline among species and across sites, and understanding how the disease works, we hope to predict future declines of populations at other sites and long-term changes in the ecosystem.” Lips’ study site in the Great Smoky Mountains National Park could shed light on the effect the fungus may have had on several species of Appalachian salamanders. “We’re just starting to uncover what happened years ago,” Lips says. Using museum specimens, Lips and her students recently noticed that Appalachian salamanders suffered significant declines 20 years ago, and followed a similar pattern to what she has seen in Panama. They think the fungus caused those declines, and that the remaining species hold the secret to survival. Lips can use that information to design studies in Central America where declines are occurring now, and predict how those declines will turn out. There are also major ecosystem impacts from the amphibian extinctions. “Once amphibians are eliminated from an ecosystem, everything else changes,” says Lips. “Snakes

college of chemical & life sciences / university of maryland

disappear, algae grows, and sediments accumulate and affect water quality. We don’t know yet how many of these changes are irrevocable.” Lips’ findings are helping conservationists make decisions about how to protect amphibians. She is working with the Defenders of Wildlife to petition federal agencies to require that amphibians coming into the U.S. through trade be tested for the fungus before they leave their home country. But Lips acknowledges the complexity of the threat posed by the fungus, and that to have any real chance of saving species, solutions must transcend isolated conservation efforts in one country or one habitat. “You can save all the habitat you want, but if the climate is changing or diseases are moving around, you may not be able to protect species,” Lips says. “We’re in a new era. Conservation as usual is not enough to address the current threats to wildlife.” scope

Frog photo: Andrew Young ©2009 wnet.org. Karen Lips Photo: John Consoli.

Big Challenges Nanoscale Solutions How the Department of Chemistry and Biochemistry is Advancing Nanotechnology

John Fourkas’s group developed a technique to track the uptake of gold nanoparticles into tumor cells. A human vascular endothelial cell glows blue (false color) after treatment from a functionalized gold nanoparticle developed by Phil DeShong’s lab. This image is taken from the work of M. Dowling, L. Li, J. Park, G. Kumi, A. Nan, H. Ghandehari, J.T. Fourkas, & P. DeShong; submitted to Bioconjugate Chemistry.

Nano. By now, you are probably familiar with this diminutive word. Nanotechnology seems to be pervading our lives, engendering visions of a future that some find ominous and others thrilling. To some, nanotechnology conjures visions of a sci-fi future with self-replicating nanorobots that wreak havoc on humans, and mind-controlled weapons run amok. Others point to the promise of nanotechnology to deliver advances that will make life easier and better—faster computers, stronger materials, more effective disease treatments, and inexpensive and efficient energy systems. But what exactly is nanotechnology, and how will it affect our lives?

The Scope / Spring 2010


The “nano” in nanotechnology refers to the nanometer, a unit of measure that is about 100,000 times smaller than the width of a human hair. Colloquially, nano has come simply to mean small, as in Apple’s tiny iPod. To a scientist, a nanometer is roughly the dimension of a small molecule with a few dozen atoms. Since chemistry is the science of molecules, large portions of chemistry overlap with nanoscience; however, nanotechnology typically deals with objects that are tens to hundreds of nanometers across. Nanoscale particles have unique physical and chemical properties that differ from those of bulk materials, because new physical principles come into play when the distance scale is in the range of 10-100 nanometers. Nanotechnology relies on the ability to reproduce nanostructures and combine them into functional assemblies that can communicate with the world on a human scale. Faculty members in the Department of Chemistry and Biochemistry are taking advantage of nanotechnology to develop new and improved applications in areas such as health, electronics, energy, and optics.

to a tumor and not to every other cell in the body, we can avoid side effects.” The third key element of nanoscale therapeutics is targeted release of the drug only after a nanodelivery vehicle reaches its target. Both Lee and DeShong are exploring drug release strategies that depend on the fact that tumors often have a different acidity than the rest of the body. It is also important to be able to verify that therapeutic particles have reached their intended location in the body, both to ensure their effectiveness and to avert any potential health risks from circulating nanosize particles. Lee’s group is working on embedding tiny magnetic particles in their nanoscale drug delivery devices so that their presence can be monitored using MRI technology. DeShong’s group is taking advantage of the special optical properties of gold nanoparticles to image their delivery into cells using a technique developed in Professor John Fourkas’s group. “With this technique, we can monitor where the gold particles are going and how fast, and tell how many went into the tumor,” DeShong says. “We know that the targeting system works.”

Carbon nanotubes will make a broad range of technologies possible— from denser computer chips to sensors that can detect bioweapons.

Targeting Drug Delivery

Associate Professor Sang Bok Lee and Professor Phil DeShong are exploring different strategies for the delivery of drugs and other therapeutics using highly specialized nanostructures that they have designed and created. In the human body, very small particles (on the scale of nanometers) tend to be cleared from the bloodstream quickly, which limits the effectiveness of many drugs. Particles that are 200 nm or larger are also quickly removed from the bloodstream by the kidneys and liver. However, there is a “magic” range of sizes between these two limits in which particles can circulate for relatively long times. But getting nanoscale delivery devices to stay in the bloodstream for long enough to do some good is only the first part of the battle that Dr. Lee and Dr. DeShong face. The second step is to get the nanostructures to accumulate in the region of interest (such as a tumor). In some cases, accumulation occurs naturally because tumors have many blood vessels. In other cases, a molecular “zip code” is attached to the nanoparticle to assist a process called targeting. DeShong and collaborators are working on the development of targeting molecules that can send therapeutic nanoparticles to desired locations. “Some very effective anti-cancer drugs are extremely toxic,” explains DeShong. “If we can deliver that drug



all e-w




tub ano


ubl ’s do

g uan


Fabricating Nanostructures

Properties of electrical conductivity and chemical reactivity also differ in the nanoscale range, and researchers are exploiting this to develop technologies for everything from electrical circuits for computers to fuel cells. Assistant Professor YuHuang Wang’s group focuses on developing “double-walled” carbon nanotubes. Each of the tubes can be thought of as tiny, rolled-up sheets of graphite (the material in pencil “lead”). The advantage of the double-

college of chemical & life sciences / university of maryland

ng Wa

walled nanotubes is that the outer nanotube can react with chemicals that increase the solubility of the nanotube, while the inner nanotube is protected and retains its original chemistry. The carbon atoms in a nanotube can be arranged in more than 100 different ways, and each structure has its own unique properties. For many potential applications, it is desirable to be able to separate the nanotubes based on structure, and Dr. Wang is pioneering a method that will use lasers and DNA to attain this goal. Once

John T. Fourkas in his lab. Photo: John Consoli.

the nanotubes have been separated by structure, he will employ a “cloning” technique that he helped develop to mass-produce nanotubes of a single structure. His work promises to make a broad new range of technologies possible, employing carbon nanotubes to develop denser computer chips or sensors that can detect bioweapons. Professor Bryan Eichhorn’s group is using metallic nanoparticles to advance energy technologies, including fuel cells and solar cells, taking advantage of the fact that the nanoparticles have different catalytic activities than bulk samples of the metal. The catalytic activity can also be tuned through exquisite control of the positioning of the metal atoms; for instance, researchers can create nanoparticles in which one type of metal is on the inside and another is on the outside, a structure that can have a profound influence on chemistry. These novel nanocatalysts enable new chemistries to be used in fuel cells and solar cells, and can increase their energy efficiency. Professor Michael Zachariah takes a different approach to creating nanostructures. His group produces nanoparticles in a hot environment, such as a flame. With this technique scientists can exert precise control over the structures that they fabricate. They can combine different types of nanoparticles together into structures with new functions, and can even create materials such as nanoporous glass (think of a glass “sponge” with nanoscale holes), that could be used for drug delivery. Professor John Fourkas’s group uses polymers to fabricate structures with nanoscale features. The technique they use is called photopolymerization. If you have ever received a composite filling at the dentist (the type in which a

The FabLab at the Maryland Nanocenter is a research cleanroom that supports nanofabrication. Photo: Prakash Patel.

viscous liquid is injected into the hole that has been drilled in a tooth and then an ultraviolet light is used to cure it), then you have first-hand experience with photopolymerization. Rather than hardening the polymer all at once, the Fourkas group uses a tightly focused laser to harden it one point at a time. This approach allows them to build complex, three-dimensional devices with feature sizes as small as 1/2000th of the width of a human hair. They are exploring applications of this technology in sensing, optics, and electronics. Fourkas is also studying nanoscale liquids and their applications. Imagine taking a liquid and putting it in a beaker that is only a few molecules across, so that virtually every molecule touches the surface of the beaker. These surface contacts can change the properties of the liquid radically, and have implications for applications in catalysis, separations, lubrication, and even oil recovery. Advancing Energy Science

Lee, Wang, and Professor Janice Reutt-Robey are playing a key role in a university-wide initiative to advance energy technology, the Energy Frontier Research Center. Funded by the U.S. Department of Energy, this center is focused on developing the next generation of electrical energy storage systems that can not only store more energy, but deliver more power and recharge much faster than existing devices can. These improvements will enable new, green solutions to energy storage in smaller, lighter packages. Led by Clark School Professor Gary Rubloff (Materials Science and Engineering and Institute for Systems Research) as director, and Lee as associate director, the Maryland

research team includes faculty from three colleges—the A. James Clark School of Engineering, Chemical and Life Sciences, and Computer, Mathematical, and Physical Sciences—who are part of the University of Maryland Energy Research Center (UMERC) and the Maryland NanoCenter. Maryland is joined by university and federal laboratory partners at the University of California, Irvine; Sandia National Laboratory; the University of Florida; Los Alamos National Laboratory; Yale University; and others. The faculty group from Chemistry and Biochemistry is focused on improving supercapacitors, which are energy storage devices capable of delivering high power, although they generally cannot store energy as well as batteries. These devices can be used in electric vehicles, for solar systems, and for small electronics, such as cell phones. The researchers are developing nanostructured materials that enable extremely fast ion transport, which is crucial for moving electrical currents and power. To accomplish this, they are combining different materials known for their electrochemical properties. “By mixing two or three different materials to make a single nanoparticle, we can maximize the function from each,” Lee says. “This can make it possible to distribute energy without interruption or to quickly scavenge renewable energy from sunlight and wind turbines.” While it may take another 10 years before these largescale technologies are on the market, Lee says this research could be applied to small devices such as fast-charging cell phones or portable biomedical devices in the next five years. scope

The Scope / Spring 2010


Priceless Advice

Bill Waugh (center) shares tips and tricks for breaking into a career with the federal government. Andrea Morris pictured at left.

Alumni Inspire Young Scientists on the Path to Success

“Alumni who participate find the experience as energizing as the students do.”


—Andrea Morris

Assistant Dean for Development and Corporate Relations

Biology major Ian Porter wants to be a doctor. He was discouraged about the possibility of getting into medical school back in the fall of 2009, and then he attended Alumni Advice Day for pre-medical and predental students. “The most beneficial part about Alumni Advice Day was being able to see my future self,” he says. “I realized that these successful alumni had goals similar to mine when they were at my point in the journey. I gained momentum from that day.” Providing the momentum to help an undergrad make the leap to medical school, or a graduate student to obtain a professional research position is the hallmark of the College’s Alumni Advice Day program. Established in 2007 by the Reed-Yorke Health Professions Advising Office and the College’s Alumni Relations Office, Alumni Advice Day has evolved from a program directed toward students interested in the health professions to also engage students with diverse career interests. The program brings alumni professionals to campus who can inspire young scientists and provide guidance to propel them on their career path. “Alumni Advice Day is a wonderful way for our alumni to contribute to the university community,” says Andrea Morris, assistant dean for development and corporate relations. “Those who participate find the experience as energizing as the students do.”

college of chemical & life sciences / university of maryland

Recent Alumni Advice Day events have included one focused on careers in federal service and another, geared toward post-doctoral researchers, that highlighted non-academic career paths for Ph.D.s. Both of these events drew alumni from organizations as diverse as the Food and Drug Administration, the Department of Homeland Security, and the National Institutes of Health. Most of the Alumni Advice Day events have focused on scientific careers, but the College has also held one focused on professions in the field of law in conjunction with the Clark School of Engineering, Behavioral and Social Sciences, the Pre-Law Advising Office, and the UM Career Center. At the Alumni Advice Day session highlighting federal service careers, Bill Waugh (B.S., Microbiology, ’71, M.S., Entomology, ’74), who is a toxicologist with the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), shared tips and tricks for breaking into a career with the federal government. “I have found working for the EPA quite rewarding,” he says. “I was happy to participate in Alumni Advice Day because I think it is important to give people insights on how to market themselves. Students should be encouraged to start thinking about it even at orientation.”

Great Expectations Campaign Update The College of Chemical and Life Sciences gratefully acknowledges the generous support of our alumni and friends that enables our students and programs to succeed and thrive. Below is a sampling of gifts provided during the past several months as part of Great Expectations, The Campaign for Maryland. Rattner Family Scholarship

Rattner Scholarship Recipients Many students in the Biological Sciences program at the Universities at Shady Grove have received Rattner Scholarships, including (left to right) Bo Han, Haoming Pang and Puja Giri.

Francesco Barone Scholarship Patrizia Barone (’78) provided scholarship funds through the Fear the Turtle Sculpture Auction in 2006, and recently established a scholarship in honor of her father.

Founded by alumnus Dr. Steve Rattner (B.S., Chemistry, ’77), this scholarship supports undergraduate students with demonstrated financial need, particularly transfer students, or those who are the first generation of their families to go to college. Dr. Rattner, who now has two successful local dental practices, created this scholarship to acknowledge the University of Maryland’s role in supporting his success as an undergraduate. Francesco Barone Scholarship

Dr. Patrizia Barone (B.S., Chemistry, ’78) established a scholarship for undergraduate students in chemistry and biochemistry in honor of her father. Barone is a new member of the Department of Chemistry and Biochemistry’s Board of Distinguished Advisors. She has demonstrated her long-standing commitment to the university by providing career development talks to students and volunteering at Maryland Day. Reid Evans Menzer Memorial Graduate Award

Dr. Robert Menzer and his wife, Sara Lee Menzer, established the Reid Evans Menzer Memorial Graduate Award to support deserving graduate students in the Marine-Estuarine-Environmental Sciences (MEES) graduate program. This award is a tribute to their beloved grandson, who died at age 14 in a tragic skateboarding accident in 2006. Robert Menzer was the founding director of the MEES program in 1978 and remains an active supporter. Parmar Family Scholarship

Reid Evans Menzer

Drs. Mandip (B.S., Zoology, ’89) and Simmi Parmar created the Parmar Family Scholarship for undergraduate students with financial need, with a multi-year pledge in 2009. “We were both recipients of scholarships during our college days and realize the importance of being there for other students in need,” explained Mandip. Drs. Mandip and Simmi Parmar are practicing physicians in Salisbury, Md.

Bruce Jarvis Student Support Fund

Founded by Dr. Catherine North (B.S., Chemistry, ’82), in honor of a favorite faculty mentor, Dr. Bruce Jarvis, who arrived at the University of Maryland in 1967 and served as chair of the Department of Chemistry and Biochemistry from 1993-98. Dr. North endowed the fund this year so that it will provide support for graduate and undergraduate students in perpetuity. Gandy Endowment for the National Organization for the Professional Advancement of Black Chemists and Chemical Engineers (NOBCChE) student chapter

Dr. Winston Gandy (B.S., Chemistry, ’82) endowed the University of Maryland student chapter of NOBCChE in honor of his wife, Michele Gandy. This gift will support the chapter’s outreach efforts, recruitment, and tutoring program. The Department of Chemistry and Biochemistry became NOBCChE’s first educational partner in 2008, and has been a nationwide leader in recruiting and supporting black faculty members and students. Dr. Gandy is an Atlanta-based cardiologist and a trustee of the University of Maryland College Park Foundation. Norma M. Allewell Macromolecular Structure Laboratory Endowment

College of Chemical and Life Sciences Dean Norma Allewell recently committed to endowing the Macromolecular Structure Laboratory in her estate. Laboratory endowments provide ongoing support for researchers including the purchase of equipment and materials not covered in grants or special upgrades. Allewell has a distinguished record of accomplishment in molecular biophysics, including serving as President of the Biophysical Society in 1993, and the Macromolecular Structure Laboratory is the perfect legacy for her. ARCS Foundation Scholarships

The Achievement Rewards for College Scientists (ARCS) Foundation provided support for students in the Department of Chemistry and Biochemistry. The ARCS Foundation, a national all-volunteer, all-women organization, provides scholarships to outstanding students pursuing degrees in natural science, medicine, and engineering. Graduate students Stephanie Sherrill and Seth Thomas received scholarships, along with undergraduate Ankush Khullar.

The Scope / Spring 2010


Circle of

Discovery Cepko


The College of Chemical and Life Sciences’ Circle of Discovery honors members of the University of Maryland community for their visionary leadership and outstanding research in the biosciences and chemistry. These four scientific leaders were inducted in 2009. The 2010 inductees are Distinguished University Professor John D. Weeks and Dr. Philip J. Provost (Ph.D., Microbiology, ’61). Their pioneering accomplishments are celebrated in a display in the Bioscience Research Building to inspire current and emerging generations of scientists at the University of Maryland.



Constance Cepko

Rita R. Colwell

Elisabeth Gantt

George H. Lorimer

Inducted for her contributions to our understanding of the development of the central nervous system and diseases that result in blindness.

Inducted for her discovery of the environmental source of Vibrio cholerae and her leadership in research on cholera in Bangladesh and on emerging water-borne infectious diseases worldwide.

Inducted for her pioneering work in understanding quantum efficiency and excitation migration paths in photosynthesis in bacteria and algae.

Inducted for his work on the mechanism of RuBisCO, the enzyme that fixes CO2 in photosynthesis, and on the chaperonin proteins that assist RuBisCO in forming its threedimensional structure.

Dr. Constance (Connie) Cepko studies cellular mechanisms involved in the development of the central nervous system, focusing on the retina and why photoreceptor cells die in many forms of retinal degeneration. Her work is paving the way for new treatments for macular degeneration, the leading cause of blindness in older adults. Cepko is professor of genetics and ophthalmology at Harvard Medical School, and a Howard Hughes Medical Institute investigator. She was inducted into the National Academy of Sciences in 2003 and serves on the College of Chemical & Life Sciences’ Board of Visitors. She received her Ph.D. in biology from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, and her B.S. in biochemistry and microbiology from the University of Maryland.


Dr. Rita Colwell’s pioneering research in prevention of cholera and other waterborne infectious diseases has helped protect the health and lives of millions. Her work bridges microbiology, ecology, public health, and computer and satellite technology. Colwell’s approach has established a basis for environmental and infectious disease risk assessment now used around the world. Colwell is Senior Advisor and Honorary Chairperson of Canon U.S. Life Sciences, and was the first woman to serve as Director of the National Science Foundation (NSF). Colwell was inducted into the National Academy of Sciences in 2000 and is a Distinguished University Professor at the University of Maryland. She holds a B.S. in bacteriology and an M.S. in genetics from Purdue University, and a Ph.D. in oceanography from the University of Washington.

college of chemical & life sciences / university of maryland

Dr. Elisabeth Gantt’s research investigates how plants maximize the absorption and utilization of light energy, focusing on intracellular supramolecular complexes which house light-harvesting proteins. She discovered invaluable information about the photosynthetic apparatus of red and bluegreen algae. Gantt was inducted into the National Academy of Sciences in 1996. She is a Distinguished University Professor at the University of Maryland and was a recipient of the University of Maryland’s Board of Regents Faculty Award in 2002-2003 for Excellence in Research/Scholarships/Creative Activity. She holds a Ph.D. from Northwestern University and a B.S. from Blackburn College, both in biology. She became a professor at the University of Maryland in 1988.

Dr. George H. Lorimer, pioneered the study of the structure, assembly, activation, and reaction mechanism of RuBisCO, the key enzyme in photosynthetic carbon fixation, and the role of chaperonins in protein folding. Lorimer directs the Center for Biomolecular Structure and Organization, which focuses on fundamental protein research related to biomedical applications. Lorimer was inducted into the National Academy of Sciences in 1997 and is a Distinguished University Professor at the University of Maryland. Dr. Lorimer earned his Ph.D. at Michigan State University and did post-doctoral work at the Max Planck Institute in Berlin, Germany.

18 19

19 50

194 8

0 192

194 6


2 192

194 4














19 5


1 19 19 14

54 19

19 12

56 19

58 19

190 8

0 196


190 6

1904 1902

2 196

1964 1966


1 9 00 1898 1896 1894

1968 1970 1972 1974


1890 1888


1978 1980


1886 4 188 2 188

1982 198 4



19 88

80 18





19 90

78 18



18 6 8

186 6













8 199

2 200









0 200

187 0

18 7


96 19



94 19


76 18


19 92

18 7



19 10












The Scope / Spring 2010




Kelly Blake, Editor Loretta Kuo, Graphic Design Contributing Writers Kelly Blake John T. Fourkas Loretta Kuo Ellen Ternes Tom Ventsias


On the Cover Courting chinstrap penguins at Baily Head, Deception Island, Antarctic Peninsula. Chinstrap populations are declining all along the Antarctic Peninsula. Photo: Š2010 Ron Naveen/Oceanites.

College of Chemical & Life Sciences Leadership Deans and Directors Norma Allewell, Dean Robert Infantino, Associate Dean Arthur N. Popper, Associate Dean Lisa Bradley, Assistant Dean, Student Services Olcan Hollister, Assistant Dean, Finance Andrea E. Morris, Assistant Dean, Development and Corporate Relations Joelle Presson, Assistant Dean, Undergraduate Academic Programs Kelly E. Blake, Director, Communications David Dalo, Director, Facilities Mike Landavere, Director, Information Technology Gili Marbach-Ad, Director, Center for Teaching and Learning Katerina (Kaci) Thompson, Director, Undergraduate Research and Internships Stephan Silipigni, Associate Director, Development and Alumni Relations


Department Chairs Norma Andrews, Cell Biology and Molecular Genetics Michael P. Doyle, Chemistry and Biochemistry Charles Mitter, Entomology Gerald Wilkinson, Biology

The Scope magazine is published by the College of Chemical and Life Sciences. Letters to the editor are welcomed. Send correspondence to chemlife@umd.edu.


07 09

College of Chemical & Life Sciences Office of Communications 2313A Symons Hall University of Maryland College Park, MD 20742 Tel: 301.405.8203 Fax: 301.314.9949 chemlife.umd.edu Š2010 College of Chemical & Life Sciences University of Maryland

Photos: Andrea Morris, Kelly Blake, Loretta Kuo.


Alumni Photo Gallery




01 (Left to right) Danita Nias, AVP of alumni relations and development, Drs. Steve and Fran Rotter (both B.S., Zoology, ‘82). Steve is president of the UM Alumni Association. 02 Debbie Weinstein (M.S., Microbiology, ‘83), associate director of MPRI, and Microbiology Professor Emeritus Raymond Doetsch (Ph.D., Microbiology, ‘48). 03 Fourth Annual Young Alumni Game Watch. (Left to right) Walter Bender (B.S., Engineering, ‘09), Elizabeth Eden (B.S., Biology, ‘09), Coordinator of Undergraduate Admissions Counseling and Recruitment Eden Garosi, Novlette Akinseye (B.S., Biology, ‘09) 04 Amel Anderson, former assistant dean of administration for the college, and Dr. Winston Gandy (B.S., Chemistry, ‘82), UM College Park Foundation trustee. 05 Charles Thomas “Tom” McMillen (B.S., Chemistry, ‘74), 2009 Alumnus of the Year, and Dean Norma Allewell. McMillen will be inducted to the Alumni Hall of Fame, June 2010. 06 (Left to right) Al Boyd, associate professor emeritus of chemistry and biochemistry, Joel Muse, Jr. (Ph.D., Chemistry, ‘68), Michael Doyle, professor and chair of chemistry and biochemistry. 07 March 2010 Alumni Association Chapter Meeting attendees. 08 Alumni Advice Day: Alternative Careers with a Ph.D. panelists. (Left to right) Tom Ng (B.S., Biochemistry, ‘89), Ruchi Mehta (Ph.D., Molecular Biology, ‘00), Dean Norma Allewell, Suzanne Sensabaugh (B.S., Zoology, ‘89), Shannon Carroll (Ph.D., Microbiology, ‘01), Teresa McTigue (B.S., Zoology, ‘84). Tom is president of the College’s Alumni Association Chapter; Teresa is treasurer. 09 Alumni Advice Day: Federal Service panelists. (Left to right) Robert Infantino, associate dean, Lt. Eric Johnson (B.S., Biology, ‘97), Donna Eisenberg (B.A., Psychology, ‘81), Betsy Read-Connole (M.S., Microbiology, ‘92, Ph.D.; Molecular and Cell Biology, ‘00) Andrea Morris, assistant dean of development and corporate relations, Bill Waugh (B.S., Microbiology, ‘71; M.S., Entomology, ‘74). Betsy is secretary of the College’s Alumni Association Chapter. 10 Biology Professor Emeritus Douglas Gill (center) celebrated 38 years of service to UM at his retirement party with friends and alumni, including Beverly A. Mock (left), (Ph.D., Zoology, ’83), Cancer Genetics Section, NIH, and Timothy G. Halverson (right), (Ph.D., Zoology, ’83), Glaxo Smith Kline Pharmaceuticals. 11 (Left to right) Wade Miller (B.S., Chemistry, ‘71), member of the Chemistry Department’s Committee of Distinguished Advisors, and Dr. Nick Ellyn (B.S., Zoology, ‘71).

08 11

The Scope / Spring 2010


College of Chemical & Life Sciences Off ice of the Dean 2300 Symons Hall University of Maryland College Park, MD 20742

New Weapons in the War Against Pathogens Learn how scientists at the Maryland Pathogen Research Institute are working to diagnose, treat, and prevent the spread of pathogens. Synergy at Work, a video showcasing collaborations between leaders in bioengineering, bioinformatics, and the life sciences at the University of Maryland, explores how these strategic partnerships are leading to new ways to fight viruses, bacteria, and parasites—the pathogens that cause disease. Visit chemlife.umd.edu/synergyatwork or email mpri@umd.edu to receive a DVD copy.

“Diseases know no global boundaries and we have to be prepared to fight them wherever they may exist.”

—Dr. David Mosser director of the Maryland Pathogen Research Institute

Profile for University of Maryland School of Public Health

The Scope, Spring 2010  

A publication for friends and alumni of the College of Chemical & Life Sciences, University of Maryland.

The Scope, Spring 2010  

A publication for friends and alumni of the College of Chemical & Life Sciences, University of Maryland.