Kimberly Moffitt analyzes Republican presidential debate, discusses the impact of social media on student activism

Following the November 10 Republican presidential debate on Fox Business Network, Kimberly Moffitt, an associate professor of American studies, was a guest on the Baltimore Sun’s “Roughly Speaking” podcast to provide reaction and analysis. Other guests on the podcast hosted by Dan Rodricks included Melissa Deckman, chair and professor of political science at Washington College, and Peter Jensen from the Baltimore Sun editorial board.

The segment covered a range of topics, including how candidates received more equal air time than prior debates and were given a chance to cover differences in several significant policy issues.

“There has been so much attention drawn to the two front runners that often times it appeared that Trump and Carson were receiving a lot more air time,” Moffitt observed. “In this particular debate, it seemed that there was a cross section of being able to hear the different voices and also to hear about those divides in terms of immigration, higher education, and whole notion of the family…those pieces I had not heard before, and it was simply because we had the opportunity to hear from so many of the candidates.”

Listen to the complete “Roughly Speaking” podcast on The Baltimore Sun website.

Also this past week, Moffitt joined ABC 2 Baltimore on November 12 for a segment on the role of social media in college protests. She discussed how social media can promote both positive and negative outcomes.

“What we see social media doing is helping to advance student activism and movements across the country, but it also has its negative side affects, especially what we see with people responding to these student activists,” explained Moffitt.

Watch the full segment on ABC 2’s “In Focus” program.

WEAA’s Marc Steiner Show broadcasts UMBC Critical Social Justice Week keynote panel

The Marc Steiner Show aired a special two-hour broadcast November 2 that was a recording of UMBC’s Critical Social Justice Week keynote panel “Baltimore in Action: Always Rising.” Marc Steiner moderated the panel which featured several prominent social justice activists and leaders from across Baltimore to discuss a range of issues currently impacting the city. Topics discussed included the city’s rich history of social justice and activism and the power of community organizing in addressing challenges.

Guests on the panel included  Rev. Dr. Heber Brown, III, pastor of Pleasant Hope Baptist Church and executive director of Orita’s Cross Freedom School; Dr. Marisela B. Gomez, physician, community activist and author of Race, Class, Power, and Organizing in East Baltimore: Rebuilding Abandoned Communities in America; Tawanda Jones, activist and sister of Tyrone West, who was killed by Baltimore police in July 2013; Jacqueline Robarge, founder and director of Power Inside, a project of Fusion Partnerships; and Kwame Rose, social activist and hip-hop artist.

Critical Social Justice: Baltimore 365 was held October 19-23 at UMBC. The initiative was coordinated by the Women’s Center with Student Life’s Mosaic: Center for Culture and Diversity. Critical Social Justice Week aims to explore social justice in both theory and practice from academic, activist, and artistic perspectives. This year’s event explored ways to cultivate deep and lasting commitments to Baltimore City.

UMBC students help veterans with PTSD combat insomnia with new app

MyBivy team_HackDC HackathonUMBC students Damola Adediran ‘17, computer science, and Sarah Kirby ‘16, computer science, were members of a standout team at the 2015 HackDC Hackathon that won top prize in the “Best Mobile Application for Clinicians” category, for their app “myBivy.”

This year’s HackDC Hackathon challenged competitors to build a mobile app to help veterans with post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) deal with insomnia, which is common within this population.

The myBivy app tracks veteran’s heartbeat and movements to detect night terrors, and over time works to help prevent them. The app allows veterans to observe their sleep patterns and to share the data collected overnight with their doctor.

The 36-hour-long Hackathon, held September 25-27, gave teams a chance to work on developing their apps by collaborating with clinicians, veterans, and veterans’ families and friends, who offered feedback on what information the veterans want to track.

Adediran’s job on his team was to communicate with clinicians about how the app would best serve the veterans, and to debug the app throughout the development phase.This was Adediran’s second Hackathon, and he says it was extremely empowering. He describes it as, “something I’ve never experienced before.”

In addition to a cash prize, the team will use funds collected on their Kickstarter page to develop, test and launch the myBivy app by the spring of 2016. For more information about the myBivy app and team, visit the Kickstarter page.

Business Insider ranks UMBC one of the 50 most underrated colleges in America

Business Insider has placed UMBC at #32 on a list of the 50 most underrated colleges in America.

The site combined the PayScale ranking with those produced by U.S. News & World Report to discover colleges and universities with a large disparity between their college rank and their salary rank.

The group ranked more than 1,000 colleges and universities based on their reputation and graduates’ mid-career salaries, paying particular attention to schools with lower U.S. News rankings but stronger than expected career salaries.

Lee Blaney explains how technology can transform pollutants in chicken manure into a valuable product

Lee_Blaney_headshotWhile manure is often used as fertilizer for crops, regulations designed to protect the environment do not allow farmers to use untreated manure on fields that already saturated with elements like phosphorus. Lee Blaney, assistant professor in the department of chemical, biochemical and environmental engineering, is developing new technologies in his lab to remove phosphorus from agricultural waste, such as chicken litter, to transform it into two highly valuable products: processed animal litter that can be used as fertilizer and chemicals that can be sold to farmers with land that is deficient in rather than saturated with particular nutrients.

Blaney explains in a new Voice of America video that he sees this challenge as an opportunity to turn agricultural waste into a product that is profitable, and does not pollute the environment. His thought process is to ask “What’s in there? Can we extract it and turn it around into a valuable product?”

VOA video_Lee BlaneyFor updates on the work of the Blaney Lab, see their website and Twitter.

Renetta Tull presents LSAMP program as model for improving STEM education in high schools

Renetta TullRenetta Tull, associate vice provost for graduate student development and postdoctoral affairs, presented at the Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM) Learning for All forum supported by the National Science Foundation (NSF) on November 9, 2015. She discussed the University System of Maryland’s Louis Stokes Alliance for Minority Participation (LSAMP) program at the forum, which kicked off a week of events aimed at improving STEM education, particularly at the high school level.

In her speech, Tull discussed mentoring models and messaging that have been successfully implemented in UMBC’s Meyerhoff Scholars Program. This nationally recognized program provides holistic support to academically exceptional students who intend to pursue doctoral degrees in STEM, with a goal of increasing the diversity of future leaders in STEM fields.

Tull also presented LSAMP students as “Nobel Laureates and STEM leaders of the future.” She shared the idea that STEM models should allow students to see themselves as long-term STEM contributors and leaders, beyond receiving their undergraduate degrees. The LSAMP program was featured as an example of a successful NSF project supporting diversity that can be adapted at the high school level.

Information shared during the forum will also be presented at the Next Generation High School Summit at the White House on Tuesday, November 10. The focus of the forum and summit is next generation high schools. For more information, see the White House event website.

Anthony Johnson to chair national advisory board promoting diversity in physics

Anthony Johnson, professor of physics and computer science and electrical engineering, has been named chair of the American Physical Society (APS) Bridge Program’s National Advisory Board (NAB). Johnson was involved with the Bell Labs Cooperative Research Fellowship Program for Minorities, a precursor to the APS Bridge Program, in the 1970s. He shares,. “The Bridge Program had its genesis with the Bell Labs Diversity Program, which I participated in, and thus it was quite an honor to be nominated Chair or the APS Bridge Program’s NAB.”

The Bridge Program was created in 2013, funded by the National Science Foundation and the APS, to increase the number of physics PhDs awarded to underrepresented minority students, defined as African Americans, Hispanic Americans, and Native Americans. The APS Bridge Program aims bring the percentage of underrepresented minority students who receive PhDs closer to the percentage of underrepresented minority students who receive bachelor’s degrees, he explains. Through the Bridge Program, the APS has created a national network of doctoral-granting institutions that provide mentoring for students completing PhD programs.

Johnson is a fellow of the APS and served on the APS Executive Board from 2013 to 2014. In 1996, he received the APS Edward Bouchet Award, which promotes the participation of underrepresented minorities in physics by recognizing a distinguished minority physicist who has made significant contributions to physics research.

Of his new role on the NAB, Johnson says, “As chair, I will be involved in the programmatic aspects of achieving the program’s goals, as well as preparing for a second round of funding from the NSF and other entities to continue these good works.”

For more information the APS Bridge Program, see the APS website.