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.

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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.

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Division of Professional Studies at UMBC Seeking Marketing Graduate Assistant

Job Title:

Marketing Graduate Assistant for the Division of Professional Studies at UMBC.

Typical Duties:

  • Manage data entry and maintain large amounts of data
  • Assist with department reporting initiatives through research and analysis of data, and present findings through clear reporting
  • Assist with email marketing campaigns, including: maintaining email schedules, testing emails, overseeing email distributions and managing email lists
  • Assist in gathering content for social media marketing
  • Help maintain various myUMBC accounts by regularly posting content
  • Occasionally designing flyers and hand-outs and distribute flyers across campus
  • Represent the department at various in-person events
  • Assist/participate in other day-to-day marketing projects, such as survey production, office organization and brainstorming sessions


  • An outgoing and responsible graduate student, or senior who plans to stay at UMBC for graduate school
  • Organized, efficient and able to manage several projects simultaneously
  • Efficient at using the internet and other resources for research
  • Capable of compiling and presenting research to the marketing team
  • Capable of writing and communicating clearly
  • Have a basic understanding of marketing
  • Skills in graphic design, writing or past experience in social media marketing a plus

The chosen candidate can begin during spring/summer 2015 at an intern status. Full graduate assistant position offered starting Fall 2015. Interested candidates can email by 5/11/15: No in-person applications accepted.

About the Division of Professional Studies:

The Division of Professional Studies at UMBC offers a variety of high-quality master’s, graduate certificates, special courses and non-degree training programs. Building on UMBC’s strength in cutting-edge research and academic excellence, these programs provide relevant skills, knowledge and credentials in high-demand areas of study.

Graduate Student Innovation in Involvement Grant

The GSA is releasing a call for applications for our second bi-annual Graduate Student Innovation in Involvement (GSII) Grant.


The GSII grant should help to enhance graduate student involvement and presence at UMBC; both for the betterment of shared communities and grad students themselves. The goal of this grant is to fund programs and initiatives which cross-cut a variety of university agents (undergraduates, faculty, departments, etc…) and our extended communities (Catonsville, Baltimore, Maryland, etc…).  Successful grants will serve to connect and grow these various communities through graduate student ambassadorship.  These grants will help to reshape the role of the graduate student in both academia and society for the betterment of all.  This is a competitive grant, awarded twice annually, that would allow the GSA executive board to provide targeted funding to other graduate student leaders who have interesting and innovative ideas or initiatives that will help enhance graduate student culture at UMBC.


Successful proposals should achieve one (or more) of the following goals:

  • Seek to expand the role of graduate students within the university.

  • Enhance intercultural and interdisciplinary endeavors which build communication and relationships with members of the inner-UMBC community.

  • Promote academic ambassadorship through graduate student interactions between departments, colleges, and with external communities.

  • Generate summer and winter session student activities or events to build UMBC into a bustling “year-round campus”.

Grant awards are at maximum $5000 with two grants awarded per year. Proposal expenses have to be justified by a line-item budget breakdown.  Simply requesting the maximum funds without reasonable justification is not acceptable.  The executive board reserves the right to adjust budgets to align with university policies.

The grant submission deadline for fall and winter grants is on May 30th, 2015.
More information about how the requirements for this grant and how to apply for it can be found on our website

On-Campus, Paid Summer Sustainability Internships

UMBC Sustainability Matters is pleased to announce that we will have two internship opportunities to help UMBC become more sustainable this summer:

Outreach & Graphic Design Intern:

We are looking for a student who is passionate about sustainability, persuasive marketing, photography and/or graphic design to help design and implement marketing materials to expand campus sustainability awareness efforts. Outdoor interpretative signs, indoor prompts, and display materials are examples of projects which will be assigned. This position will report to the Sustainability Coordinator. Must be able to commit to at least 10 hours per week.

Research & Grant Writing Intern:

This student will assist in researching and compiling funding sources, grants, and opportunities for renewable energy, energy efficiency, and effective behavior change tactics for UMBC. This information will be used in efforts to update UMBC’s Climate Action Plan and assist in carbon emissions reductions initiatives. They will also have the opportunity to assist in writing grant applications. Must be able to commit to at least 10 hours per week.

If these opportunities interest you, please submit a cover letter stating your interests and qualifications, your resume, and a writing or design sample (depending on which internship you would like to peruse). If you know of any current UMBC students who might be interested, please pass this along.

Must be able to work at least 10 hrs/week in the office during office hours (between 9am-5pm). Weekly one hour meetings with the sustainability coordinator are required. Candidates should be able to work both independently and collaboratively. Interns will also be asked to assist in outreach to students, staff and faculty as needed. An hourly wage will be provided, and earning academic credit for internships is possible.

In Fall of 2015 we will also be seeking an Eco-Ambassador Coordinator intern as well as new Eco-Ambassadors.

For more information please contact:

Tanvi Gadhia
Environmental Sustainability Coordinator
Room 930, Administration Building, UMBC
410-455-3896 |

GSA CV/Resume Writing Workshop (4/29)

On behalf of the GSA Senate Professional Development Committee, we would like to invite all graduate students to attend the upcoming CV/resume writing workshop that will be held on April 29, 2015 (Wednesday), at 5:30pm in UC 310.
GSA Resume Writing Workshop
Ms. Susan Hindle from the UMBC Career Services Center will be giving tips on how to effectively write a resume/CV, which will be beneficial to all graduate students, especially if they are in their last year of their graduate study and are already in the process of applying for jobs.
Please forward to any graduate student that might be interested in attending. Enjoy this great opportunity, as well as good food!
Thank you very much and see you all on the 29th!
Best regards,
GSA Senate Professional Development Committee
Wednesday, 4/29/15, 5:30 pm, UC310

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.