About Dinah Winnick

Communications Manager for Social Sciences at the University of Maryland, Baltimore County

Justin Jacobs, Statistics Ph.D. Student, Receives Presidential Early Career Award in Science and Engineering

Justin Jacobs, a doctoral candidate in statistics at UMBC, has won the prestigious Presidential Early Career Award in Science and Engineering (PECASE). This is the highest honor bestowed by the U.S. government on science and engineering professionals in the early stages of their independent research careers, and recognizes Justin’s work with the intelligence community.

Director of National Intelligence James Clapper presents UMBC's Justin Jacobs with PECASE honor.

Director of National Intelligence James Clapper (far right) presents UMBC’s Justin Jacobs (center right) with his PECASE plaque.

Justin received the award from Director of National Intelligence James Clapper on January 23, 2014, and he will be recognized by President Obama in a ceremony at the White House later this month.

At UMBC, Justin is being co-advised by Anindya Roy and John Zweck (now at UT Dallas), and plans to graduate this May. His dissertation is titled, “Density Estimation on Differential Manifolds.” He is completing his Ph.D. while employed with the National Security Agency.

President Clinton established the PECASE award program in 1996. The White House website notes, “Awardees are selected for their pursuit of innovative research at the frontiers of science and technology and their commitment to community service as demonstrated through scientific leadership, public education, or community outreach.” Learn more about PECASE and this year’s recipients in this White House Press release.

Congratulations, Justin, for this is a remarkable achievement!

UMBC Celebrates University System of Maryland’s 25th Anniversary with Prizes

Join UMBC in celebrating the 25th anniversary of the University System of Maryland (USM). “Like” the USM Facebook page and submit an entry form by March 24th for a chance to win prizes!

Twenty–five entrants who complete and submit this form will be selected at random to receive a USM 25th anniversary prize pack. These winners will be entered into the drawing for the grand prize: a NOOK Simple Touch® GlowLight® AND four autographed books written by UMBC faculty and staff:

  • Beating the Odds: Raising Academically Successful African American Males, Freeman A. Hrabowski III, Kenneth I. Maton, and Geoffrey L. Greif
  • Plutopia: Nuclear Families, Atomic Cities, and the Great Soviet and American Plutonium Disasters, Kate Brown
  • The City of Devi, Manil Suri
  • Curious Behavior: Yawning, Laughing, Hiccupping, and Beyond, Robert R. Provine

Already “like” USM on Facebook? Post or “like” a message on the USM timeline and you could be selected to win.

Campus closed 3/13/2014 due to water pressure issue

To: The UMBC Community
From: Rusty Postlewate, Assistant Vice President, Facilities Management

Early this morning we detected reduced water pressure on campus. Upon investigation, we found that there was a problem with the Baltimore City water main that supplies the campus. There appear to be line breaks as well as malfunctioning valves on the water main.

Discussions with personnel from the City Department of Public Works indicated that the restoration of service could take a prolonged period of time. The buildings on the higher levels of campus were already experiencing low pressure water problems early this morning. As time progressed, and water demand increased, pressure continued to diminish and buildings on lower levels began losing water service.

Based on sanitary conditions that started to develop and concerns about operation of life safety systems, it was considered prudent to close the campus.

Resident students should look for communications from UMBC Residential Life for updates on services in the residential community.

Additional information will be provided through the UMBC homepage and text alert system as it becomes available. There is an expectation that repairs will be completed today.

Please use caution on campus walkways during salt shortage

Dear UMBC Students, Faculty and Staff,

I hope you have been safe and warm during this latest storm.

Due to an unusual number of storms this year, the mid-Atlantic region is experiencing a severe and widespread salt shortage. I am writing to share the challenging news that the State Highway Administration (SHA) has closed down salt distribution due to lack of supply, which means UMBC will not be able to replenish our supply to our regular levels.*

In preparation for our return to normal operations tomorrow, grounds staff and contractors are hard at work clearing walkways. However, due to a shortage of both road salt and calcium for walkways, and the need to conserve these materials during the de-icing process, they will likely not be able to fully clear the pavement across campus.

We anticipate patches of snow and icy areas sporadically across the campus. Please do your best to come prepared for winter conditions, and please take great care as you navigate campus in the morning. If you encounter an area that is in particular need of clearing, please contact 410-455-2550 or workorder@umbc.edu.

The SHA has indicated they hope to receive a salt shipment on Thursday, which we hope will enable us to replenish our supply. Until then, we ask for your patience and caution.

Thank you,
Lynne Schaefer
Vice President for Finance and Administration

*Update (3/14/2014): UMBC has received questions today about its relationship to the State Highway Administration regarding salt distribution, and therefore is providing more detailed information for better clarity, and to acknowledge the supportive partnership we have with SHA.

Each year, UMBC purchases its salt through a statewide contract. The State Highway Administration has generously agreed to store that salt in its facilities and to distribute it to UMBC as needed. This is a great benefit to UMBC because it means the campus doesn’t need to build its own storage facility.

Due to the significant number of extreme weather events this winter, UMBC has exhausted the salt it purchased and stored at the SHA facility. UMBC has ordered additional salt, but due to shortages across the country, it has not arrived.

As our grounds staff prepared for Sunday and Monday’s weather event, we requested a loan of salt from the State Highway Administration supply. In the past, when salt has been available, the SHA has been able to make such loans. However, it was not able to provide additional salt on Monday due to a lack of supply. The State Highway Administration was able to provide us a loan of 15 tons of salt from its supply today, March 4.

Manil Suri, Mathematics, Writes Washington Post Op-Ed

ManilSuriHeadShotIn a Washington Post op-ed titled, “Court ruling ignores India’s rich heritage of diversity,” UMBC mathematics professor Manil Suri critically examines the Indian Supreme Court’s recent decision to reinstate a 19th-century law criminalizing homosexual acts (Section 377), a law which had been repealed by a lower-court decision in 2009.

In his analysis, Suri draws attention to how the ruling “criticized previous judges for relying too much on foreign precedents in their ‘anxiety to protect the so-called rights of LGBT persons.’”

Suri argues that the foreign imposition in this case is actually the statute itself. He notes: “The statute was passed in 1860 as part of Britain’s colonization of India. Other former British colonies, from Malaysia to Jamaica, have the same law on their books, also labeled Section 377.” He concludes, “India needs to be reminded of its rich heritage of diversity, its historically liberal attitude toward variations in human behavior.”

You can read Suri’s full op-ed here.

Hilltop Presents on ACA’s Impact on Small Business

Hilltop Senior Regulatory and Policy AdvisorMaansi Raswant, Maansi Raswant, JD, gave a presentation titled The Affordable Care Act’s Impact on Small Business to the Catonsville Chamber of Commerce on October 30, 2013 at the Charlestown Retirement Community.

In the presentation, Raswant gave an overview of the basic provisions of the Affordable Care Act (ACA) and described health reform implementation in Maryland; described the ACA mandates for coverage (who needs to have it and who needs to provide it); and discussed how to determine whether an employer is considered a large or small employer, how to purchase coverage through exchanges, new benefits of and requirements for health plans, and how tax credits will be allotted. Access the full presentation here.

Raswant is a member of Hilltop’s Health Reform team, which provides essential support to Maryland’s Health Benefit Exchange as it implements health reform. For more information, go to www.hilltopinsitute.org/hrr.cfm.

Roy Meyers, Political Science, on PolitiFact

Roy Meyers (UMBC)In an October 1st tweet, U.S. Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz suggested the current federal government shutdown will result in “$10 billion in costs to the economy per week.” Is that accurate? PolitiFact consulted with UMBC political science professor Roy T. Meyers to find out.

The $10 billion figure Wasserman Schultz quotes is from the White House, which itself acquired the estimate from an August report from Goldman Sachs. To check this figure, PolitiFact went back to Meyers’ analysis of the 1995-96 government shutdown, which was estimated to cost $1.4 billion (mainly in back pay to furloughed workers). However, Meyers shares, you can’t simply add inflation to that figure to come up with an estimate for today, because of differences between the current shutdown and the previous one.

“This one is going to be bigger in terms of daily costs…,” Meyers told PolitiFact. “The economy is weaker. It can’t handle as much of a shock as it could handle in ‘95-’96.”

PolitiFact concluded that Wasserman Schultz’s statement was “mostly true.” Read their full analysis online. Meyers also contributed to PolitiFact’s analysis of Newt Gingrich’s recent statement that shutdowns are “a normal part of the constitutional process.”

Thomas Schaller, Political Science, Op-ed in The Baltimore Sun

Tom Schaller“The federal government has shut down,” reads a new Baltimore Sun op-ed by political science professor Thomas F. Schaller. “And it’s the Republicans’ fault — period.” In contesting the House Republican’s use of legislation funding the federal government to block or alter the Affordable Care Act and its implementation, Schaller notes:

The Constitution clearly establishes that a bill becomes a law if it passes both chambers of Congress and is signed by the president or if his veto is overridden by two-thirds supermajorities in both chambers. In 2010, Democrats in Congress passed, and President Barack Obama signed, the Affordable Care Act. [...] The Constitution’s legislative process remains available to those who want to repeal it, of course. If unable to do so now, they can try to win elections and push to replace the law at some future point.

Schaller suggests members of the U.S. House of Representative who identify with the Tea Party have rejected this process. Read the full op-ed at the Baltimore Sun.

Roy Meyers, Political Science, in The Hill, Washington Post, Le Monde, on NBC News and More

Roy Meyers (UMBC)The threat of a government shutdown has become a reality and political science professor Roy Meyers is again in the news describing the direct and indirect costs of this action.

NBC News shared Meyers’ finding that the 1995-65 closure of national parks, monuments and battlefields alone cost businesses and local governments $295 million by preventing seven million park visits.

In MSNBC coverage of the shutdown, Meyers shared the importance of not just accounting for all of those costs, but also for those that are less measurable. “The real costs are really not in terms of consumer confidence or any of the standard measures in macroeconomics or even the federal budget,” he said. “The real costs are in trust in government and belief that government officials are paying attention to the real issues of the country.”

Read these articles to learn more:

Washington Post: Day One of the government shutdown: Now what?
Le Monde: Quel sera le coût du blocage budgétaire américain
Pew: How much might a government shutdown cost? Plenty, history says
The Hill: Small percentage of lawmakers served during 1990s government shutdown
NBC News: Why a government shutdown could be a pricey proposition
MSNBC: Taxpayers pick up bill if government shuts down
Politifact: Ted Cruz says ‘a strong bipartisan majority’ in the House of Representatives ‘voted to defund Obamacare’

Update: Meyers has also written a blog post for the London School of Economics on the shutdown: “Congress should be a venue for deliberation and compromise over policy, but the shutdown shows that Washington’s budget process is broken.”