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A newsletter for the UMD graduate community


Message from the Dean
It was a cold Tuesday morning in the fall when I sat down with our newest Institute for the Recruitment of Teachers (IRT) cohort for breakfast.  It was my first opportunity to meet these exceptional group of underrepresented graduate students.  In the middle of our discussions, Dominique Young, a promising doctoral scholar in the English Department said something that resonated with me: “The University of Maryland feels like it could be an academic home away from home.”
This statement captures what graduate education ought to be – a dwelling or sanctuary for scholarly pursuit.  In practical terms, the Graduate School must commit to a holistic enhancement of the student experience - continue building professional and career development programming; increase the recruitment and support of our diverse student body especially for underrepresented and underserved graduate student populations; and expand collaborations with academic and service units to build a strong, cohesive and inclusive graduate community.
You have been in Dominique’s shoes. The academic excellence, the cutting-edge research, the world-class faculty and access to interdisciplinary and interinstitutional intellectual collaboration, is what brought you both to the University of Maryland’s Graduate School.  It is our comprehensive graduate student experience, however, that will sustain her through her studies. And you, our esteemed alumni, are the evidence of its ultimate success. 
We ask for your continued support and guidance as we work with you and the campus community to excite, elevate and enrich the lives of graduate students.
Jeffrey Franke
Interim Dean
Graduate School Giving Opportunities
Participate in University of Maryland Giving Day on March 8.
Thank you for supporting graduate education!


Alumnus Ashok Kulkarni, and his wife Ranjana, have graciously offered a challenge gift to support our Giving Day efforts. For every alumnus or friend who makes a gift to the Graduate School on Giving Day, the Kulkarnis will make a $100 matching gift, up to 50 donors. That could mean an additional $5,000 to the Graduate School to support fellowships, student support services, and diversity initiatives!

First Student Success Symposium

On January 18, the Graduate School hosted its first daylong event focusing on graduate student success. Drawing approximately 90 graduate students and postdocs, this event, “Invest in Your Future: A Graduate School Success Symposium,” featured an entire day of workshops on a variety of topics, including career development, funding, writing and research, and time and stress management.

This event was organized as part of the Graduate School’s recent efforts to expand its holistic support for graduate students and postdoctoral scholars. This support includes a range of career and professional development services for doctoral students, and additional training and resources for students trying to secure external funding, as well as the Graduate School’s graduate writing initiatives.

The entire event was free and open to graduate students and postdocs from all programs and departments. The workshops were designed to be hands-on and interactive, with participants being able to apply new knowledge immediately to their academic work or professional preparation.

While many of these workshops are held periodically during the academic year, this event was designed as an opportunity to allow students to attend multiple workshops in a single day during winter session when graduate students have fewer obligations on their time. In addition, the large single-day event gave students and postdocs the opportunity to network with a large group of their peers across programs.

More online

UMD Doctoral Graduate Honored in Dissertation Competition

Adam Behrens, a 2015 PhD graduate from the Fischell Department of Bioengineering, has been given honorable mention in the 2016 Council of Graduate Schools (CGS)/ProQuest Distinguished Dissertation Award in Mathematics, Physical Sciences and Engineering for his dissertation, titled “Polymeric Materials for Hemostatic and Surgical Sealant Applications.” Behrens’s dissertation was selected among the top 3 from more than 45 dissertations from institutions throughout the United States and Canada. The dissertations are judged by a panel of judges from the graduate dean community with expertise in the fields being judged.

Behrens, who was advised by Peter Kofinas, professor and associate dean, conducts research on how polymers can be used by surgeons and first responders to stop bleeding, repair hernias, and make other surgical repairs. He is now a postdoctoral associate with the Langer Lab at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT). His dissertation also won the Graduate School’s Distinguished Dissertation Prize and the Dean’s Doctoral Research Award from the Clark School of Engineering.

The CGS/ProQuest Distinguished Dissertation Award honors scholars whose dissertation represents original work that makes an unusually significant contribution to its field. Two awards are given annually in two different broad areas (biological sciences; social sciences; mathematics, physical sciences and engineering; and humanities and fine arts). Individuals must be nominated for these awards by a member institution.

Behrens was also one of five UMD alums recently named to the 2017 Forbes 30 Under 30 list. Read the full release online.

Ashok and Ranjana Kulkarni Spotlight

Alumnus Ashok Kulkarni (PhD, ’76, computer science), and his wife Ranjana, have a long history of educational philanthropy. The private family foundation they founded, the Kulkarni Foundation, has helped build two schools for underserved youth in rural India and supported vocational training for physically challenged children, as well as a scholarship program at Ashok Kulkarni’s undergraduate alma mater, the Indian Institute of Technology (IIT).

Since 2013, the Kulkarnis have funded the Graduate School’s Kulkarni Foundation Summer Research Fellowship for UMD doctoral students who are graduates of IIT. This summer fellowship enables students who are nearing or have recently achieved candidacy the ability to concentrate fully on their research for the summer.

The Kulkarnis have now extended their support to the Graduate School with a new gift to support the McNair Graduate Fellows program. McNair Graduate Fellowships are awarded to outstanding doctoral students who participated in a Ronald E. McNair Postbaccalaureate Achievement Program as an undergraduate. The McNair Program is a national program funded by the Department of Education designed to increase the numbers of students from historically underrepresented and underserved backgrounds who complete doctorates.

Ashok Kulkarni was recognized as the Graduate School’s 2016 Distinguished Alumnus by the University of Maryland Alumni Association at its annual gala in October.

Pictured: Ashok and Ranjana Kulkarni and Interim Dean Jeffrey Franke and three of the 2016 Kulkarni Foundation Summer Research Fellows.

Did You Know...?
After the Graduate School’s founding in 1919, the first graduate degrees outlined in the university’s 1919-20 catalog included the M.S. and Ph.D. in Agriculture and the Natural Sciences, the M.A. in Liberal Arts, Education, and Home Economics, and the Ph.D. in Liberal Arts.
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