Here’s a recap of what’s in the news in and around the UMBC campus, originally brought to you by UMBC News.

This news recap is brought to you by UMBC’s Division of Professional Studies, offering a broad array of professionally-focused master’s degrees and certificate programs that address industry needs while anticipating future opportunities.

UMBC Professor earns runner-up honors for prestigious neurobiology prize

Dr. Tara LeGates, assistant professor of biological sciences was named first runner-up for the prestigious, international Eppendorf and Science Prize for Neurobiology, a competition for researchers under 35 that recognizes outstanding neurobiology research. LeGates’ essay was published by Science, which detailed the four years of rigorous research on the neurological basis for reward-seeking behavior. This research done by LeGates may pave the way for more targeted treatments for mental health disorders like depression and addiction. She notes, “In depression, you have a weakening of these synapses, and antidepressants currently on the market act indirectly to restore them. By identifying the specific synapse involved, it would allow for a more targeted approach to treating disorders like depression.” Congratulations on this outstanding accomplishment, Dr. LeGates!

UMBC Duo use math and science to learn how and why cells move

Michelle Starz-Gaiano, associate professor of biological sciences, and Brad Peercy, associate professor of mathematics, have been working together for over a decade to combine their knowledge of math and science in order to learn how and why cells move. Starz-Gaiano notes that scientists like herself have been using the fruit fly in her lab for genetic testing, which has garnered some success, but also some unwarranted challenges. That’s where the collaboration with Peercy comes in. The use of mathematical models have allowed scientists to look at the numbers before diving into a project that could possibly lead to no outcome, thus saving loads of time. Peercy notes that the research being done by these scientists has greatly benefited from the mathematical models he has helped make, but the scientists are sometimes unsure if they will be able to show the findings from the math, biologically. While their research is far from over, they recognize the benefits that combining their unique research skill sets can offer.

UMBC faculty work together to increase telemedicine availability

Helena Mentis, associate professor of information systems (IS) always knew that telemedicine was something important to society, but now with the COVID-19 pandemic, it’s more important than ever. Not enough steps have been taken to educate medical professionals, especially new ones, on how to conduct telemedicine appointments with patients. That’s why Mentis, alongside Andrea Kleinsmith, assistant professor of IS; Anita Komlodi, associate professor of IS; Gary Williams, clinical coordinator in emergency health services; and Christine Yee, former assistant professor of economics, now an economist at Boston University and the Partnered Evidence-based Policy Resource Center to work towards solving this issue. “We began this work with the intention to impact healthcare in the far off future, but as we have seen in the past 6 months, that future is here now,” says Mentis. “Equitable, scalable, and affordable healthcare are of paramount importance and this grant is a huge step in working with our healthcare partners to identify sustainable change.”

The 42nd annual W. E. B. Du Bois lecture will be presented by Dr. Kaye Wise Whitehead

Karsonya “Kaye” Wise Whitehead will present UMBC’s 42nd annual W. E. B. Du Bois lecture on the intersection of COVID-19, systemic racism, and anti-racist action. As a 2009 graduate of the Language, Literacy, and Culture program, an associate professor of communication and African American studies at Loyola University Maryland, as well as being a black woman in America, Dr. Whitehead is more than equipped to present this lecture. “I want to talk about how we can have these difficult conversations not just around race but around antiracism, White supremacy, and police brutality,” shares Whitehead. She also notes that what was happening way back when Du Bois was fighting for the right for black men to vote is the same thing happening now. “What Black America is demanding today is the same as what Du Bois was demanding more than a century ago,” shares Whitehead. “On the eve of 2021 we are still fighting against White supremacy, voter suppression, and police brutality, and fighting for access to the table.” If this interests you, you can Register to attend the 42nd annual W. E. B. Du Bois lecture, to be held virtually on Wednesday, November 11, 2020, 6 p.m. – 7 p.m.

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