Category Archives: Notable News

UMBC Faculty Provide Perspective and Reflect on Recent Events in Baltimore

In response to recent events that have transpired in Baltimore over the last several days, several UMBC faculty have engaged in thoughtful reflection and dialogue in the news around the complex challenges facing the Baltimore community. The substantive commentaries come from different viewpoints and add various perspectives to the ongoing conversation of the past week’s events.

John Rennie ShortIn The Conversation, School of Public Policy Professor John Rennie Short wrote about three background factors that should be considered when asking why the violence and riots took place in response to the death of one young man: the momentum of the police brutality narrative, the lack of trust between police and minority black populations, and the stifled economic opportunities and limited social mobility of many inner-city residents. “This country needs to address structural issues of poverty and economic opportunity as well as immediate concerns of how we make the streets safer for all our citizens,” Short wrote.

Kate DrabinskiKate Drabinski, lecturer of gender and women’s studies, wrote about decades of disinvestment in Baltimore and uneven development that have disadvantaged largely low-income communities. “One of the dangers of seeing the riot as an event is precisely this danger of losing historical perspective about the ways the neighborhoods burning on television are the very ones that have been cut off from the growth of the city’s downtown core,” she wrote. Drabinski was also featured in a Bicycling Magazine article about her observations of Monday’s events.

Kimberly MoffittKimberly Moffitt, an associate professor of American studies, examined Baltimore City Schools and the important element of focusing on the mental health needs and frustrations of many students. “Now we are faced with the next generation of marginalized youth who demand to be heard, even as they are seen as counterproductive by those who continue to ignore their physical, academic, and psychological needs to be successful in an educational setting,” Moffitt explained. She also participated in a roundtable discussion on Southern California Public Radio about her thoughts on this issue.

Rita TurnerRita Turner, a lecturer of American studies, wrote an article for The Conversation that focused on environmental health issues: “Environmental injustice may seem like a secondary issue in the face of massive police brutality, poverty, and civil uprising, and I don’t suggest that it should preempt conversations about other forms of systemic racism. But as we talk about the devaluing of black lives and black bodies that has taken place in Baltimore and across the country and the world, we cannot ignore the ways that this manifests in a subtle and constant disregard for the health of marginalized communities,” she wrote.

Sue-Goodney-Lea__2013-239x300In a Baltimore Sun op-ed, Suzanne Lea, an adjunct professor of sociology, wrote about an in-depth study she conducted with her students to examine trends in police deadly force incidents that have occurred in the Baltimore/DC area over the last 25 years. The column outlined five key findings from the research, including the vast majority of incidents occurred early in an officer’s career. “Too often, without a video, police officers are exonerated via internal investigations based on rules that prioritize officers’ accounts. Let’s start collecting the data we need to track and systematically examine such incidents and use it to challenge and improve upon our policing until it fully reflects the integrity of our American ideal of equality under the law,” Lea wrote.

Amy BhattIn the Huffington PostAmy Bhatt, an assistant professor of gender and women’s studies, examined the question “what does it mean to be safe?” In her article, Bhatt discussed her experience living in the Federal Hill neighborhood and provided a closer look at discussions of property, race, and resources in light of recent events. “When we talk about safety, we need to look beyond our neighborhoods and ask how we decide who stays safe and who does not,” she wrote.

Tom SchallerIn his column in the Baltimore Sun, Thomas Schaller, professor and chair of political science, discussed the impact of inequality on the past week’s events. “Rather, the fact of social protest is prima facie evidence of political disgruntlement, and of an extant imbalance between those who wield power and those subjected to it. When these inequities persist and have no other form of expression, there will be unrest. And in this case, those suffering from Baltimore’s power imbalances are disproportionately black.”

Chris CorbettChristopher Corbett, professor of the practice of English, wrote a column in Reuters in which he discussed his observations and experience living in Baltimore for 35 years after moving from Maine. In his article, “Baltimore’s truth in Freddie Gray’s life and death,” Corbett examined the history and current state of many of the city’s neighborhoods in the context of the events of the last several days.

Jana Kopelentova Rehak, a visiting professor of anthropology, recently published an article on her applied anthropology collaborative project in Baltimore in partnership with Habitat for Humanity to address urban inequality, poverty, and health in relation to housing.

To read the complete news coverage, click below:

Baltimore riots: the fire this time and the fire last time and the time between (The Conversation)
Why Baltimore burns for Freddie Gray (Baltimore Sun)
Baltimore’s truth in Freddie Gray’s life and death (Reuters)
Baltimore cyclist catches riots in action (Bicycling Magazine)
Keeping ‘Us’ Safe in Baltimore (Huffington Post) 
Freddie Gray: death by legal intervention (Baltimore Sun)
The slow poisoning of Freddie Gray and the hidden violence against black communities (The Conversation)
Baltimore could become key election issue (The Philadelphia Tribune)
Black and young in Baltimore: a roundtable discussion (KPCC Radio)
With little choice, O’Malley defends Baltimore tenure (Washington Post)
Mayor Martin O’Malley Versus Governor Martin O’Malley (Governing)
Riots invoked as lobbying tool (Baltimore Sun)
Media coverage and politics (Midday with Dan Rodricks) 
Practicing urban anthropology in Baltimore

This post originally appeared in UMBC Insights.


Kaye Whitehead ’09 Ph.D., LLC, in the News

In the weeks following the death of Freddie Gray and the protests in Baltimore, members of the UMBC community have sought to engage in thoughtful reflection, dialogue, and service around the complex social and economic challenges facing our Baltimore community—and communities across the nation. Read about a contribution from one of our graduate alums.

WhiteheadKaye Whitehead ’09 Ph.D., language, literacy, and culture, has been a key voice in conversations about Freddie Gray’s death, the Black Lives Matter movement, and police brutality. In an article on PROMISE, Dr. Whitehead discusses her experience at the front lines of the peaceful protests in Baltimore and provides primary accounts from the people living the “Baltimore Uprising” on a daily basis. She has also been working on a book entitled Letters to My Black Sons: Raising Boys in a Post-Racial America. She was interviewed by WYPR about Freddie Grey and how his death fits into police brutality.

Read more from PROMISE here. Listen to the full interview here.

This was originally posted in Retrievernet, UMBC’s Alumni Community.

Claudia Pearce ’89 M.S., ’94 Ph.D., Computer Science Featured in UMBC Magazine


Computers can crunch mind-boggling arrays of data. They can even win quiz shows. But are there more powerful applications of this analytical power yet to come? Claudia Pearce ’89 M.S., ’94 Ph.D., computer science, is the Senior Computer Science Authority at the National Security Agency (NSA). The winner of UMBC’s Alumna of the Year Award in Engineering and Information Technology in 2014, Pearce is diligently seeking the answer to that question.

Claudia PearceWatson is IBM’s Deep Question Answering system. You might recall that when Watson was put to the test against human contestants on the television quiz show, Jeopardy!, the system successfully bested its competitors in providing questions to answers whose associated question was already known. (And won $1,000,000.)

But like any game, Jeopardy! has its rules – and its limits. Along with my colleagues and others in the field who study big data and predictive analytics, I’ve been wondering whether the techniques implemented in Watson could be used as a powerful knowledge discovery tool to find the questions to answers whose associated questions are unknown.

Subspecialties in the fields of computer science and statistics such as knowledge discovery, machine learning, data mining, and information retrieval are commonly applied in medicine and in the natural and physical sciences – and increasingly in the social sciences, advertising, and cybersecurity, too. (It’s often called “computational biology” or “computational advertising.”)

And as the scope of computational practices has increased, the resources needed to perform it have shrunken tremendously. Ten years ago, massive computation was primarily in the areas of physics, astronomy, and biology, where petabytes of data were collected and analyzed using massive high performance computing systems. The advent of Cloud computing technologies –and their increasing public availability – now allows institutions, companies, and users to rent time for large-scale computation without the enormous costs of creating and maintaining supercomputers.

Additionally, programming and data storage paradigms have evolved to make use of the inherent parallelism in many domain applications. This trend has created new applications for computer science that provide individuals and organizations access to a plethora of online information in real time.

Real-time data sources spur not only social media, but online commerce, video streaming, and geolocation. Wireless technologies and smartphones put that information in the palm of our hands.

The power and speed of these technologies have aided the machine learning and data mining techniques at the heart of analytics, from retrieval of simple facts to trends and predictions. Advertising applications, for instance, analyze your click stream and cookies so that ads tailored to your interests appear as you browse in real time.

Yet the process of developing and maintaining analytics has its costs. First, there is labor. It usually requires teams of people to identify and solve problems in various domains. Analysts (who are usually experts in their subject) develop a collection of research questions in their discipline. They are teamed with statisticians, computer scientists, and others to develop and write programs to put the data in a usable form and create machine learning applications, tools, and algorithms. This combination of data and programming combines into analytics designed to answer a question in a given line of inquiry.

Continue reading more here:

Marla Streb ’91, M.S., Marine Estuarine Science Featured in UMBC Magazine

If there were such a thing as extreme sports fairy tales, Marla Streb ’91, M.S., marine estuarine science, would be fairy godmother of that daredevil realm.

Marla StrebOnce upon a time, at the relatively advanced age of 28, Streb walked away from a career as an AIDS research biologist and fashioned herself into a world champion mountain bike racer and gravity goddess.

As a career move, it was akin to selling your master’s degree in marine-estuarine environmental science for a handful of magic beans, but Streb made it work – and marvelously.

Before her transformation, Streb rode bicycles as a hobby. She says her commute by bike as a student from her apartment in downtown Baltimore to UMBC was a fun way to exercise and “to maybe help the planet a little bit” along the way.

Continue reading more here:

Two UMBC Grad Students Place at Cangialosi Business Innovation Competition

The second annual Cangialosi Business Innovation Competition (CBIC) was held on Thursday, April 23. The CBIC allows graduate and undergraduate students from UMBC the chance to plan a start-up and is coordinated by the Alex. Brown Center for Entrepreneurship through a gift from Greg Cangialosi ’96, English. The award offers teams cash awards, as well as a membership to Betamore, an incubator and educational facility in Federal Hill co-founded by Cangialosi.

This year, seven teams were chosen out of 28 applicants to present their business ideas to a panel of three judges, including Ed Chalfin, co-chair of the Baltimore Angels, Kelly Trumpbour, founder of See Jane Invest, and Demian Costa, partner of Plank Industries.

From left: Patrick Wheltle, Robert Oehrli, Greg Cangialosi, Michael Gardner, Annah Seo

From left: Patrick Wheltle, Robert Oehrli, Greg Cangialosi, Michael Gardner, Annah Seo

Michael Gardner ’17, information systems, and Nathan Hefner won the first place award of $5,000 by presenting NeighborhoodNet, a software platform for creating and managing community association websites. Patrick Wheltle ’87, emergency health services, and Robert Oehrli ’14, mechanical engineering, and ’15 M.A.T., technology education, placed second with Baltimore Emergency Medical Technology, an electronic triage tag that can be used in mass casualty accidents to help save more lives. Annah Seo ’13, psychology, and M.P.S., industrial/organizational psychology, won the third place award by presenting PiVot, an app that would let students and professionals independently assess their abilities and interest to explore career paths.

This post originally appeared in UMBC Insights.

Craig Saper, LLC, Co-Edits New Publication on Critical Studies in the Humanities

Language, Literacy, and Culture (LLC) Professor and Director Craig Saper, with contributions to the manuscript preparation and index from LLC doctoral students Felix Burgos and Kevin Wisniewski, has co-edited and introduced a new book Electracy: Gregory L. Ulmer’s Textshop Experiments (2015).


According to a description on the book’s website, “‘Textshop’ in the title refers to a pedagogy for teaching rhetorical invention, with application to any form of production of texts or works in Arts and Letters fields, or for teaching creative thinking in general. More specifically this book provides background and context for the published work of Ulmer, filling in gaps between his books, and showing the genealogy of Ulmer’s innovative approach to media education.”

Growing out of the book, Burgos and Wisniewski have started a peer-review scholarly journal on Textshop Experiments. To learn more about the project, click here.

This post originally appeared in UMBC Insights.

Kristerfer Burnett ’11 MPP, Public Policy, Honored on The Daily Record’s “20 in their Twenties”

Kristerfer Burnett ’11 M.P.P., Public Policy, is honored on The Daily Record’s “20 in their Twenties” list. “20 in their Twenties” honors those who have had promising starts to their careers while in their twenties.

The Daily Record

Click here for the full list of honorees.