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MD Dept. of the Environment Secretary Grumbles visits UMBC

Visit focuses on impact of environmental research, teaching

October 27, 2015 5:00 PM
Maryland Department of the Environment Secretary Ben Grumbles visited UMBC on October 7, 2015, to learn about the university's longstanding commitment to environmental sustainability through research, teaching, and campus operations.

Claire Welty, director of UMBC's Center for Urban Environmental Research and Education (CUERE), who served with Secretary Grumbles on the National Research Council's Water Science and Technology Board, introduced the secretary to UMBC student researchers. They included geography and environmental systems (GES) master's student Marina MetesKwabena "Kobby" Gyimah-Asante '16, chemical engineering; and Clare Maffei '16, GES, who together discussed interests ranging from subsurface hydrology modelling to UMBC's community garden. 

Dorothy Borowy, GES Ph.D. student, described her work with GES Professor Chris Swan on the Maryland Green Prisons Initiative and her focus on "the ecology of plants in urban communities, which are unique because they are built to serve the needs of one species: humans." Even with pressures against plants in urban environments, Borowy explained, "we see a great diversity of plant species" in urban lots — even more than in surrounding suburban areas.

UMBC President Freeman Hrabowski emphasized how "the environment is such an important theme on our campus" by introducing Secretary Grumbles to new university green spaces, including the Administrations Building's green roof, redesigned campus entrance highlighting native plant species, stormwater retention pond by the Albin O. Kuhn Library, and LEED Gold certified Performing Arts and Humanities Building.

Hrabowski and Grumbles also discussed opportunities for students interested in sustainability issues, with Hrabowski noting, "So many UMBC students in a number of majors understand the importance of these environmental issues and go on to careers in that area, including as leaders at state agencies."

Grumbles shared his sense of universities' important role in cultivating solutions to environmental challenges and the young leaders who will go on to make those fresh ideas a reality. "Intellectual capital is a hugely powerful tool," he shared — a tool that can connect "scientists, experts in the community, and businesses," along with students who will be the next generation of environmental leaders.

“Environmental science is a major research focus here at UMBC,” Vice President for Research Karl Steiner told the secretary, “and as a campus we are focused on research that matters - to our community, to Maryland and to the world.”

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