UMBC Students, Faculty continue to excel in STEM research

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.

Black UMBC Graduates are more likely to pursue doctoral studies in STEM than any other U.S. University

As one of the country’s most diverse universities, UMBC takes pride in nurturing students of all races, genders, cultures,  and backgrounds. This environment encouraged our BIPOC students, especially Black students, to understand their value and shoot for the stars. 2016 Graduate Kizzmekia Corbett became the first Black woman to ever create a vaccine, with her role as the leader of the NIH team that developed the Moderna vaccine. UMBC’s Meyerhoff Scholars program, which is committed to diversity in STEM,  has seen over 1,100 students graduate and move on to earn Masters and Doctorate degrees in STEM over the years. This program has also paved the way for other top universities to increase their STEM enrollment while still catering to the needs of BIPOC students. Universities like Howard University, the University of California Berkeley, and the University of Florida have all made efforts to replicate the Meyerhoff Scholars program and have seen an increase in STEM graduation rate in BIPOC students.

UMBC Students pave the way for innovations in the field of retirement policies

Heather Quach ‘23, and Victor Li ‘23, took home the grand prize in the IOme (I Owe Me) Challenge, a challenge for entrants to introduce their ideas on how to solve financial and retirement issues. Their winning essay, titled “Improving Retirement: The Role of Education and Innovation” focused on the ‘three pillars of retirement’ – Social Security, employer-based retirement plans, and individual savings plans – and introduced a fourth pillar; health. The duo found that the more education one had, the more access they had to the four pillars of retirement. Through winning this national competition, Quach and Li were able to present their ideas to the Women’s Institute for a Secure Retirement (WISER) at a forum they hosted in June. Congrats, Heather and Victor!

NASA and the Department of Energy grant Physics Ph.D. students with competitive research awards

Friends, and housemates, Noah Sienkiewicz and Nathan Myers began their graduate studies in Physics together in 2017. Since then, the pair has started work with NASA and the Department of Energy, respectively. Sienkiewicz is working alongside his colleagues at UMBC and NASA on the HARP2, an instrument that will launch into outer space in 2024 as a part of the PACE mission. Through his work, NASA granted Sienkiewicz with the Future Investigators in NASA Earth and Space Science and Technology (FINESST) Fellowship, which will fund his Ph.D. studies for the next three years. Myers, working with the U.S. Department of Energy (U.S. DOE), is partnered with the country’s top scientists at the Los Alamos National Laboratory in New Mexico to research innovative quantum computing. The U.S. DOE is funding an 11-month  experience at the Los Alamos National Laboratory for Myers, who looks forward to a new start and fresh ideas from his colleagues. Congrats, Noah and Nathan!

UMBC Researchers make COVID-19 tests more accessible 

UMBC Engineering faculty are heading a team of researchers looking to make COVID-19 tests that are the most accurate, have the fastest result turnaround, and at the most affordable price point all in one test. Dipanjan Pan, professor of chemical, biomedical, and environmental engineering developed two diagnostic tests that can quickly and affordably detect COVID-19 in individual patients. Pan said, “I’m delighted to know that my lab has received FDA registration and certification as a development site for the electrochemical AntiSENSE COVID-19 Test. A leading global molecular diagnostic company, RNA Disease Diagnostics, Inc. has received a worldwide exclusive license from UMBC and the University of Maryland, Baltimore (UMB) to commercialize the test.” This research has also made national headlines in leading scientific journals such as the May 2020 and October 2020 editions of ACS Nano, and an April 2021 article published in Nature Protocol.

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