UMBC ranked as one of the world’s top universities for geosciences

UMBC has been ranked one of the top universities in the world for geosciences in the 2015 Performance Ranking of Scientific Papers for World Universities.

This recognition is released by the National Taiwan University Ranking (NTU Ranking), based on the production and impact of scientific papers by faculty in specific disciplines.

Geosciences at UMBC made headlines recently when UMBC’s Joint Center for Earth Systems Technology (JCET) partnership renewed its cooperative agreement with the NASA Goddard Space Flight Center, bringing up to $46 million to JCET and UMBC over the next five years.

LorraineRemerEarlier this summer, the American Geophysical Union (AGU) announced it would recognize Lorraine Remer, physics professor and JCET researcher, as an AGU fellow at their Fall Meeting in San Francisco.

This is a tremendously prestigious honor, as only 0.1% of members are elected as AGU fellows. Fellowships are given to AGU members who have made exceptional contributions to Earth and space sciences.

Upon receiving the honor, Remer said, “I am hoping that my election to AGU Fellow will help the broad scientific community become better aware of the excellent Earth science research taking place at UMBC.”

Renetta Tull shortlisted for GEDC Airbus Diversity Award

Renetta TullRenetta Tull, associate vice provost for graduate student development and postdoctoral affairs, is one of ten impressive candidates shortlisted for this year’s GEDC Airbus Diversity Award.

The GEDC Airbus Diversity Award honors people and projects worldwide that “have encouraged students of all profiles and backgrounds to study and succeed in engineering.” This year’s shortlist includes scholars from Germany, South Africa, Australia, Canada, the United Arab Emirates, and the United States.

Tull’s profile in the GEDC/Airbus announcement reads:

Renetta Tull leads the PROMISE Alliance for Graduate Education and the Professoriate (AGEP), a program that has grown to include a global STEM diversity and inclusion initiative. This aims to build a global engineering workforce capacity through focused attention on increasing the numbers of future engineering faculty from underrepresented groups.

Partnering with programs like ADVANCE for women faculty, and programs that broaden participation in engineering, PROMISE trains undergraduate and graduate students, postdoctoral fellows, and early-career faculty. The initiative has resulted in a significantly increased pipeline of underrepresented alumni and engineering program participants.

Learn more about Renetta Tull’s work and #ThinkBigDiversity through her blog, and watch Tull’s nomination video to learn more about her inspiration:

The Global Engineering Deans Council (GEDC) is an international network of engineering deans working to advance engineering education, research and service. The organization notes, “The importance of diversity and inclusion in the engineering education community is a consistent theme in the GEDC’s conversations on improving the quality of engineering and engineering education.” Airbus Group is a global leader in aeronautics, space and related services, and is a corporate member of the GEDC.

Three finalists will be selected from the shortlist and announced at the IE Reinventing Higher Education conference in Madrid, Spain, October 19-20, 2015. They will also be invited to present their project before a distinguished jury at the annual GEDC conference, on December 1, 2015, in Adelaide, Australia.

*Update: Renetta Tull has been named a finalist for this award.

UMBC joins National STEM Collaborative supporting opportunities for underrepresented girls and women

Philip RousResponding to the underrepresentation of minority women in STEM fields, UMBC has joined a new national collaborative committed to supporting educational opportunities for girls and women of color in STEM.

The White House Council for Women and Girls announced the formation of the National STEM Collaborative at a special event at the White House on September 15, 2015 (watch video).

In addition to UMBC, the consortium, led by Arizona State University, consists of 19 institutions of higher education and nonprofit partners, including Amherst College, City College of New York, Diné College, Maricopa Community Colleges, Spelman College, University of Alabama, University of California-Riverside, and Harvard University.

In response to the announcement Provost Rous said, “Our participation in the consortium reflects UMBC’s established national reputation for supporting students from all backgrounds. At the national level, it provides an opportunity to share the best practices and innovative ideas we have developed to promote greater educational opportunities for women of color who are underrepresented in many fields, including the STEM disciplines.”

Over the next 3-5 years the collaborative will focus on providing analysis and information on best practices to support women and girls in STEM in educational settings; develop networking resources to help talented students enter and persist in STEM programs; and determine best practices to support women of color transitioning from community college to four-year university STEM programs.

The National STEM Collaborative emphasizes, “Our mission is not to simply populate the STEM pipeline with more women of color. Rather we seek to provide institutions, students, leaders, corporations, and organizations the skills and resources to change the pipeline to be more equitable for more underrepresented women.”

Sarah Jewett, STEM Transfer Student Success Initiative, Discusses Workforce Prep on WalletHub

In a ranking of the nation’s community colleges, WalletHub asked experts about changes in the higher education landscape. Sarah Jewett, executive director of the STEM Transfer Student Success Initiative, spoke about whether community colleges shoud focus on preparing students for the workforce or a four-year institution.

Sarah Jewett headshot“Both community colleges and universities can benefit from collaborative inter-institutional partnerships in which everyone shares the responsibility for helping students to develop a robust and realistic set of academic and career options,” Jewett said. “Early exploration of majors and fields, active participation in experiential learning opportunities, sustained development of  goals and plans, and transitional support can enhance the success of all students.”

Read Jewett’s response on WalletHub.

Mehdi Benna, CSST, Confirms Presence of Neon in Moon’s Exosphere

Mehdi Benna, a Center for Space Science and Technology planetary scientist, is the lead author of a paper confirming the presence of neon in the Moon’s exosphere. The paper was published in Geophysical Research Letters and has received widespread international media attention.

Mehdi BennaIn the paper, Benna describes observations from NASA’s Lunar Atmosphere and Dust Environment Explorer, known as LADEE. Though many have suspected that the Moon’s exosphere contained neon, Benna’s paper is the first to confirm its presence. “The presence of neon in the exosphere of the moon has been a subject of speculation since the Apollo missions, but no credible detections were made,” Benna said. “We were very pleased to not only finally confirm its presence, but to show that it is relatively abundant.”

Benna spoke to Discovery News about the importance of the finding, saying, “It’s critical to learn about the lunar exosphere before sustained human exploration substantially alters it.”

Additional Media Coverage:
NASA’s LADEE spacecraft finds neon in lunar atmosphere (Astronomy Now)
NASA spacecraft finds glowing neon gas on moon (Zee News)
Nasa Ladee Probe Finds Neon in the Moon’s Atmosphere (NDTV Gadgets)
Radical! Neon Found on the Moon (
The moon has a NEON atmosphere: Ladee spacecraft confirms presence of the gas for the first time (Daily Mail)
NASA spacecraft finds glowing neon gas on moon (Bharat Press)

Lorraine Remer, JCET, Honored as American Geophysical Union Fellow

Lorraine Remer, research professor of physics and at the Joint Center for Earth Systems Technology, will become an American Geophysical Union (AGU) fellow at their Fall Meeting in San Francisco. AGU is an international scientific society of geophysicists. This is a tremendously prestigious honor, as only .1% of members are elected as AGU fellows.

LorraineRemerFellowships are given to AGU members who have made exceptional contributions to Earth and space sciences. Remer is the only 2015 fellow from Maryland and will be honored at the AGU Fall Meeting in December.

“Election to AGU Fellow is a tremendous and unexpected honor,” Remer said. “I am hoping that my election to AGU Fellow will help the broad scientific community become better aware of the excellent Earth science research taking place at UMBC.”

Alycia Marshall ’95, Mathematics, Wins National STEM Award

Alycia Marshall ’95, mathematics, was named one of 100 Inspiring Women in STEM by Insight into Diversity for her work with the Engineering Scholars Program at Anne Arundel Community College (AACC).

alycia-marshallMarshall drew on her experience working with Meyerhoff Scholars at UMBC to start the Engineering Scholars Program at AACC with help from a National Science Foundation grant. As the principal investigator for the program, Marshall was instrumental in connecting underrepresented students with scholarships, mentoring, and support services.

Read “AACC professor selected for national STEM award” on Eye on Annapolis.