GRIT-X 2016

Global. Research. Innovation. Trends. Excellence.


Performing Arts & Humanities Building : Linehan Concert Hall

Date & Time

September 17, 2016, 2:00 pm4:30 pm


See links to individual talks below:

Session 1:
Session 2:
Session 3:


GRIT-X is a series of presentations to celebrate the achievements of UMBC’s alumni and faculty. The program is structured as three distinct 30-minute sessions, where select groups of alumni and faculty will describe interesting and important aspects of UMBC’s impact in the areas of research, scholarship and creative achievement. You can join any individual GRIT-X session or stay for all three. The event is organized and sponsored by the Office of the Vice President for Research and the Office of Institutional Advancement.


This event is part of UMBC's 50th anniversary Celebration Weekend. To attend this and other events, you will need to register at this link.

2:00 pm –  Welcome – Karl V. Steiner – Vice President for Research

2:05 pm –  Moderator – Scott Casper, Dean, College of Arts, Humanities and Social Sciences

 ○  Kiirstn Pagan (Theatre ‘11) and Katie Hileman (Acting ‘12) – Co-Founders, Interrobang
 ■  When Your Art Becomes Your Business
It all started with a dream shared among four UMBC Theatre grads. A little over two years later that dream has been realized with the small, but high quality, award-winning Interrobang Theatre Company that will be producing their seventh show later this year.  How did we get started, why did we choose to make our mark in Baltimore, and what are the elements of the collaboration between art and business that is necessary in growing a successful theatre company?

  ○  Lee Blaney – Assistant Professor, Chemical, Biochemical & Environmental Engineering
  ■  Our Environment is on Drugs
Literally. The antibiotics, pain relievers, sunscreens, and fragrances that we use on a regular basis end up going down the toilet, sink, or shower. During wastewater treatment, these “contaminants of emerging concern” are not completely removed and, therefore, get discharged into the environment. In fact, we have detected antibiotics in Baltimore streams, as well as hormones and sunscreens in Chesapeake Bay oysters and mussels. How important is this issue, and how can we ameliorate this problem?

  ○  Tyson King-Meadows – Associate Dean, College of Arts, Humanities and Social Sciences and Associate Professor, Political Science, and Affiliate Professor, Africana Studies
  ■  Why the Color of Your Canary Matters for Democracy
How voters evaluate auditory and visual stimuli has implications for democracy far beyond the ballot box. What voters hear, what voters see, and who voters hear and see speaking, impacts how they react. Consequently, how citizens react to cries of injustice and to warnings about policy impacts can be affected by factors both related and unrelated to the content of speech. Yet, many voters insulate themselves from contrarian information sources and reject sources deemed inauthentic. Also, aesthetic character is often privileged over information content, and aesthetic character is often used as a proxy for authenticity. The end result is a less vibrant policy space and a less empowered citizenry.

2:35 pm –  Break

3:00 pm –  Moderator – William LaCourse, Dean, College of Natural and Mathematical Sciences

  ○  Rebecca A. Adelman – Associate Professor, Media and Communication Studies
  ■  Beyond the Checkpoint: Rethinking Citizenship and Surveillance
“If you see something, say something.”  Superficially, this ubiquitous mandate reveals the security state’s intention to reduce citizens to obedient spectators who collude in the work of surveillance.  Does this represent a new expansion of state power?  Yes, but not only; the American visual culture of the Global War on Terror is complex and multifaceted.  In practice, "see something, say something" actually reveals a limit to state control over the visual.  Moreover, the ambiguity of these ‘somethings’ opens up a range of possibilities for creative and political spectatorship overlooked in conventional analyses of surveillance.  

  ○  Vanderlei Martins – Professor, Physics and Joint Center for Earth Systems Technology (JCET)
  ■  Reaching for the Skies - Sun, Pollution, Clouds and Climate
Clouds and aerosols, in particular man-made pollution, contribute the largest uncertainty to our understanding of Earth’s ever changing energy budget and its effects. UMBC is working at the heart of this question with several projects to measure and model the effect of man-made pollution on Earth’s energy balance and precipitation. In particular, UMBC has developed the HARP micro satellite (the size of a loaf of bread) for launch in early 2016 as a prototype for future satellite and aircraft missions that will simultaneously measure aerosol and cloud properties to better characterize their interaction and effects on Earth’s climate and precipitation.

  ○  Lee Boot – Director, Imaging Research Center (IRC)
  ■  A Grand Visualization Challenge: Putting Humpty Together Again
The ways we visualize knowledge and information both reflect and influence how we think about the world. For centuries, phenomenal achievements in science have been the result of exploring and describing our world in specific, abstract, and isolated pieces. Unfortunately, the enormous challenges we’re left with now seem consistently to resist being understood or solved that way. UMBC’s Imaging Research Center is tackling the grand challenge of visualizing these challenges the way they really are: vast, messy, and, quite possibly, beautiful.

3:30 pm –  Break

4:00 pm –  Moderator – Julia Ross, Dean, College of Engineering and Information Technology

  ○  Karsonya Wise Whitehead (LLC ‘09) – Associate Professor, Loyola University
  ■  From ReSearch to MeSearch: Finding Ways to Add Your Voice to the Wind of Social Memory
For fourteen years, Karsonya Wise Whitehead has been writing letters to her sons and charting every step of their development—from the womb through their toddler years, from elementary school to middle school, from making friends to meeting girls, from understanding Trayvon Martin to marching for Freddie Gray. From writing about her fears about 9-11 to her ongoing conversations with them about #BlackLivesMatter, every letter and note provides insight into what it means to be a black mother raising black boys in a race-conscious, post-racial America. Let’s examine the power of the written word; the ways in which we navigate parenthood; how mesearch becomes research; and, why it is important for us to share our stories, to speak our truth, and to add our voices to the wind of social memory.

  ○  Govind Rao – Director, Center for Advanced Sensor Technology (CAST) and Professor, Chemical, Biochemical & Environmental Engineering
  ■  Inventing Tomorrow at UMBC
Let’s talk about disruptive innovation. Advances in technology and globalization have created the perfect storm of major societal and environmental change. Health care is a basic need, yet at many levels costs are exploding to make it unaffordable. Ironically, from a purchasing power parity point of view, developed and developing country residents face similar challenges. We will discuss two ends of the spectrum as case studies – 1) manufacturing complex medicines from a suitcase size device and 2) developing a cardboard incubator. These technologies of tomorrow are transformative UMBC inventions that have the potential of saving millions of lives.

  ○  Thomas Schaller – Professor, Political Science
  ■  Teaching Politics in an Era of Civics Decline
Civics education is disappearing from our high schools, and America is both more politically polarized and more multi-ethnic than ever. In this climate, how should we teach college students about politics and its significance to their lives?

4:30 pm –  GRIT-X Concludes