GRIT X TALKS


– Good afternoon everybody. Okay, and happy birthday UMBC. Come on, you can do this a little louder. (laughs) (audience cheers) Now that’s the group. I’m Karl Steiner. I’m the vice president
for research here at UMBC and really glad to see you all coming in and already in the seats for
part of the big celebration this weekend. We’re here in the Earl and
Darielle Linehan Concert Hall and if I were Freeman, I’d ask everybody to give a great hand to the Linehans for helping us build
this beautiful facility. And I wanna welcome you
to this very first session in our inaugural GRIT-X forum. And I’m sure you all knew
that last month and last year already what GRIT really stands for. Global Research Innovation Trends. And then we added excellence to it. I think that’s really part
of what UMBC’s all about. We started the planning for this event nine, ten months ago when we got ready for the 50th anniversary and the idea was really
a way of sharing much of the research, the scholarship,
and the creative achievement that’s going on at this campus. Not just by our faculty,
but also by our many alumni. How many of you are alumni in the room? Awesome. Welcome back. (applause) You already know that the
program is organized into three sessions, 30 minutes
each with three speakers at ten minutes each. And we’ll hold them to that. But we really wanted to
put a program together that gives you during those 30 minutes a little bit of a glimpse
of the diversity of programs and of really groundbreaking
impactful research and the many thought-provoking topics that many of our alumni and our
faculty are working on. So you can stay for the one session, we would love it for you
to come back to the second and to the third session, in between you have a break. You can stay in here and talk to people or go across to the quad,
to the various activities across the street here. So, this first GRIT-X
session will be moderated by one of our deans. All of them will be moderated
by any of our three deans so this first one will
be Dr. Scott Casper, who is the dean of the
College of Arts, Humanities, and Social Sciences. Please help me welcome Scott to the stage. Here you go, Scott. – Thanks Karl. (applause) – Oh, you have your own mic. – Yes. Thanks Karl and welcome, or if you
are an alumnus or alumna, welcome back. We’re thrilled that you’re here
for these very first GRIT-X talks at UMBC. This first panel is very exciting. It features two alumni from theater, one professor who is an
environmental engineer and a professor who is
a political scientist. A great representation of the
variety of strength at UMBC. I would like to introduce
our first pair of speakers, Kiirstn Pagan, who graduated
with her BA in Theater in 2011, is a photographer, marketer,
manager, and general champion for the arts in Baltimore. She earned her BA in Design and Production from theater at UMBC in 2011. She, alongside other UMBC alumni formed The Interrobang
Theater Company in 2014. It’s a small theater
company focused on offering professional opportunities
for young theater artists and establishing Baltimore as a vital city in the contemporary theater scene. Kiirstn also works full time
at Baltimore’s Everyman Theater as the graphic designer
and video producer. Kiirstn often takes on graphic design, marketing, consultation,
and photography projects when she’s not working for
Everyman and Interrobang. And in her limited spare time, it’s hard to imagine having spare time with all those occupations
and opportunities, Kiirstn enjoys showering, eating Chipotle, petting kittens, and organizing things. Her partner in presentation
today is Katie Hileman, who is the artist director
and founding member of the Interrobang Theater Company and a very proud BFA Acting
grad from UMBC in 2012. At Interrobang, Katie has
worked as a writer, director, and actor. Acting credits with
Interrobang include Kermoor, which is a co-production with
the Strand Theater Company. I would note also that
Kermoor was written by one of our theater faculty, Susan McCully. Heavy Hor d’oeuvres and Scab. Most recently, Katie and
the Interrobang Theater team had the privilege of touring Kermoor with UMBC’s Girl Parts Productions performing at Fringe New York City, a very competitive Fringe
festival to get into. Outside of Interrobang, Katie has worked with many local theaters, including Rep Stage,
Single Carrot Theater, Iron Crow Theater, Force
Collision, EMP Collective, and Rainbow Theater Project. So it’s a pleasure to
welcome Kiirstn Pagan and Katie Hileman, who will be talking about when art becomes your business. Kiirstn and Katie. (applause) – Thanks Scott. – Thanks. – Thank you. – Hello everyone. – Hi. – How’s everyone doing? (audience cheers) Good. My name is Katie Hileman. I’m the artist director of the Interrobang Theater Company. – And I’m Kiirstn Pagan, and I’m the managing director of the Interrobang Theater Company. – And we’re here today
to tell you the story of how we started our very
own theater company in Baltimore. – And the story actually
starts right here at UMBC. We all went to UMBC and we first met when we worked on a little
show called Las Meninas, which the theater department
did in the fall of 2010. I was the stage manager. Katie was an actor in the show, as well as our other
co-founders David Brasington, Jessie Poole, and Brady Whealton. And this was an important
show because we all met for the first time. We went through a huge tour with the show and it was cool. It was successful. And I graduated in 2012
after the whole Las Meninas thing happened and I went on to work at Center Stage, a professional theater
in downtown Baltimore and Katie. – I graduated with my
BFA in acting in 2012 and I didn’t do anything
with my degree post-college. I thought theaters would
be lining up to hire me ’cause I had just done this amazing show professionally before I even graduated, but that turned out to not be the case. It turns out that acting is really hard. But what I did do is I
did read a lot of scripts. And in the summer of 2013, I read a script called
Scab by Sheila Callaghan. I had sort of been going
through all of her plays. I discovered her while
I was a student at UMBC and totally fell in love with her, so I was just going through her canon and I came across Scab
and it really struck me in particular because all I
could do was picture myself and my friends in all of the roles. It’s a really relatable,
really compelling script and so I thought to myself, we have to do this. So I reached out to my friends who also were not doing
anything post-graduation and I said, let’s do this. Let’s put on a show. Why not? So we all got together and
started to plan a production and as you can see, there’s a lot to take into consideration, almost too much for five actors who have never really
been on the other side of the table to take on, so I decided I needed help, so I reached out to the best and brightest theater professional I knew, Miss Kiirstn Pagan. – So, when Katie contacted me, I had been working at
Center Stage doing marketing and so that was sort of my expertise. And as we talked more and more
about producing this show, we quickly realized that we didn’t want to just produce a show, that we really wanted to create a company where we could do more shows
like this in the future and offer opportunities like the ones we were creating for ourselves for other students coming out of academia to conquer. – So the first two things
we needed were a name and a mission. The name actually came really easily. A member of our company Jessie Poole had this word and this symbol
in mind, an interrobang. And an interrobang is
this symbol right here, it’s a punctuation mark. It’s a combination of an exclamation point and a question mark and it basically represents what those two punctuation marks, those feelings that they invoke, bringing them together. And we really liked that
because not only is it like a fun word to say and people are wondering what that’s about but it’s really representative of the work that we’re trying to do in Baltimore and I guess the feelings that we want our audiences to have
when they leave our shows. – So, once we figured out a name, we needed to determine a mission. We needed to figure out what
we wanted this company to do and so we had a little bit of practice from the Capstone class that we took as a part of our theater
education here at UMBC and so we can up with three major tenets that we wanted to focus on. The first is producing new
and contemporary plays. We want to provide
challenging opportunities for young artists and theater makers emerging from academia, and we wanted to do all
of this in Baltimore. – A big question we get
asked all the time is why Baltimore. You know, why not DC where
the theater scene is huge, it’s I think one of the
largest in the nation. But we love Baltimore. We see it as a place of potential and a place for growth. It’s a place where artists
are doing their art because they feel passionate about it. It’s not because they’re
trying to get a lot of money or get a lot of people to come see it. They’re doing the work
because they want to and we really respond to that. It’s also a place that’s
really receptive to new and interesting work and so when we arrived and said hey, we’re a new theater company, everyone welcomed us with open arms and we’re really proud
to be a part of that Baltimore theater community. It’s also just, you know, a little cheaper to produce in Baltimore
which is really nice when you’re just starting out. – So once we had our name
and we had our mission, we got an email. We got a website domain, we filed for articles of incorporation. We opened a bank account and then we started to
fill out the forms for our 501(c)(3) nonprofit status and once we got to this point, everything felt very real and serious but cool and exciting because we start talking about terms like president and vice president and secretary and treasurer and by-laws and that was kind of
scary but also super cool. So once we laid this
foundation of a company, of a business for theater, we turned our attention
back to Scab, to the art, and we started to
assemble a team of people to help make this happen. I had met a woman named Lola Pierson while I was an intern at Center Stage who is a director in Baltimore. She read the script, was totally on board with
working with us on it and she actually runs
her own theater company in Baltimore and they happened
to have their own venues so we were able to work
out a deal with Lola to produce Scab at her venue, which is a church in Station
North in Baltimore City. – But we still had no money to speak of because we were brand new. We all made pretty sizable loans up front. We all accepted that that was something that would have to happen
to get things started, but obviously we wanted
to make that money back and it’s also nice to make a
little extra too, if you can. So we decided to have a cultivation event. Our company member David Brasington’s aunt was generous enough to
open up her home to us and we built a theater in it, in her living room with
lights and everything and we did a couple of scenes from Scab. We served some hors d’oeuvres, we talked to some potential donors and people were really receptive and really generous and
we were able to purchase a light board off of that event, which was a big deal for us and we were also able to fund the show. – So then we do Scab and we have our tech rehearsals, we open the show, and
people come to see it. We get a really nice write-up
in the Baltimore Sun, just sort of introducing
us as a new company in the theater scene and people see the show, like we have good audiences
and people seem to like what we’re doing and most importantly, we make enough money to pay our loans back to ourselves plus a little bit more to
pay ourselves small stipends for the work that we did and we had enough money
to continue producing, so we did. – So, since Scab, we’ve done six shows. Most recently and most
notably was Kermoor, by UMBC professor Susan McCully. That was a huge collaboration
between ourselves, UMBC, and the Strand Theater and during its run in November 2015, it was a part of the DC Women’s
Voices Theater Festival, which is a huge initiative
for women playwrights in the DC Baltimore area. It was a part of Charm
City Fringe that year and we actually just got back
from doing it in New York as a part of NYC Fringe in August and that was very exciting. – Yes. Yeah, it was. So, here we are now,
about three years later, six shows in, roughly
580 likes on Facebook, 550 followers on Twitter, so what’s next? Well, we don’t really know, to be perfectly honest. But what we do know is
that theater at its heart is a collaborative art form with lots of different artists
of lots of different mediums coming together to produce
a thrilling live experience and we found that founding
and managing Interrobang takes that same energy. – But art can’t exist
without the business. One side can’t exist without the other. It’s almost like the Interrobang itself, it represents two things coming together to make something new,
exciting, and different. So, while we’re obviously still learning, we’re really lucky to have
had UMBC be with us every step of the way and we’re really, really proud to have gone to an institution
that continues to care for and foster their artists
even after they graduate. – So, thank you. – Thank you. (applause) – Thank you, Kiirstn and Katie. Our next speaker is Dr. Lee Blaney. Dr. Blaney joined UMBC in 2011 as an assistant professor
in the Department of Chemical, Biochemical, and
Environmental Engineering. Since that time, he has established an exciting research
program that’s focused on environmental issues important to Maryland and
the Chesapeake Bay watershed. We’re all very confident that
Lee landed at the right place because his work is
quite definitely gritty. Many of his projects involve
treatment of waste water and animal manure and for that reason,
he likes to tell people that he has the best
smelling lab on campus. Today, Lee is going to tell us about the work that his group is doing to understand the occurrence and fate of contaminants of emerging concern to the environment. His talk is entitled, “Our
Environment is on Drugs.” Please help me welcome Dr. Lee Blaney. (applause) – Our environment is on drugs. Our environment is on drugs. Literally. Think about it. Everything that we use has
to go somewhere, right? Trash goes to a landfill
or an incinerator, bottles and cans get recycled. But what about all the other
things that we use every day? What about the caffeine in our coffee? What about the sunscreens and fragrances in our personal care products. What about the antibiotics
in the medicine that we take? Where do these things
go after we use them? Well, the answer is simple. They go into the sewer system and they ultimately make their way to a waste water treatment plant. Now, our waste water treatment plants have really been designed to handle more tradition contaminants. Things like solid particles
and organic carbon. Nutrients like nitrogen and phosphorous. So, some of these specialty chemicals, like those sunscreens or antibiotics don’t always get fully
removed during our waste water treatment process. And therefore, they get
discharged into the environment. So, like I said, our
environment is on drugs. Okay, for the last five years or so, our group has been trying to
measure the concentrations of those drugs in the environment. Okay, and this is actually
quite a challenging task because these chemicals tend to be present at pretty low concentrations. Okay, we’re often dealing
with concentrations that are less than 100
nanograms per liter. Okay, this is roughly
equivalent to one hundred parts per trillion. Okay, one hundred parts per
trillion might be a little bit difficult to kind of visualize. So I want you to think
about the number of people that have ever existed. Not just the number of people that are on the planet right now, but the number of people
that have ever existed. Okay, that number’s estimated
at around 100 billion people. Okay, so to measure 100
nanograms per liter, we need to be able to
essentially identify one person throughout all of history. Okay, a pretty challenging task. But with some of our
partners, both in Maryland, throughout the rest of the country, and even around the world, we’ve collected environmental samples to measure the concentrations
of some of these drugs in the environment. And we’ve really focused on
three classes of contaminants. Antibiotics, hormones, and sunscreens. Okay, and let me tell you why. First, the World Health
Organization has warned that this century, the 21st century may be the start of a post-antibiotic era. Okay, it actually takes longer right now to develop and test and get a new drug out onto the market than it does for resistance
to that antibiotic to first appear. Okay, now there’s a lot of reasons why antibiotic resistance occurs, but we think that low
levels of antibiotics in the environment play a critical role. Okay, some of those
hormones and sunscreens that I mentioned, these are what’s known as
endocrine disrupting chemicals. And endocrine disrupting
chemicals can cause developmental malformations. They can also cause interference
with reproductive systems and so the presence of
these in the environment, especially at low
concentrations is concerning because if we start messing
with the reproductive systems of different species, that might have cataclysmic effects up and down the food chain. So for all of these reasons, we’re interested in the antibiotics, hormones, and sunscreens
in the Chesapeake Bay, in our backyard. Okay, now for the last five years or so, we’ve been measuring
antibiotic concentrations around the Baltimore area streams. What we’ve actually found
is in most of the samples that we pull, we identify at least one antibiotic. Okay, so these are really everywhere. But recently, we started saying, okay, well what about in
the Chesapeake Bay itself? This is a large body of water, it’s very dilute. Do we find antibiotics
in the Chesapeake Bay? And what we found actually surprised us because we found pretty
high concentrations of these antibiotics. Okay, so for example, Norfloxacin, this is Fluoroquinolone antibiotic that’s used to treat
urinary tract infections. We detected it at concentrations
around 100 nanograms per liter. Okay, that’s that concentration we were talking about earlier. And for us, this is actually
quite a high concentration and this is in the Chesapeake Bay. But we also found other antibiotics and we also found other antibiotics from different classes. And this is concerning to us because if we have all of these
different antibiotics that we use for different infections getting into the environment, will that cause the development of multi-drug resistant bacteria? This is a very big public health question. This is something that
we’re interested in. Now, our antibiotics
are pretty hydrophilic. That means they like to
exist in the water phase. But the hormones and sunscreens
are more hydrophobic, and one of our concerns
with hydrophobic chemicals is that they can accumulate
in the tissue of organisms. So when we were doing that sampling in Baltimore area streams, we also collected some crayfish. So we took these crayfish
and we analyzed them for the presence of the hormones and the sunscreens that
we’re interested in. And sure enough, we
detected these contaminants of emerging concern. In particular, we measured
a synthetic hormone, 17-alpha Ethynylestradiol. This is the active ingredient
in the birth control pill in crayfish tissue. We also detected the sunscreen Oxybenzone. So all these chemicals
that we use every day, like I said earlier, they
have to go somewhere. They’re going into our aquatic environment and some of them are accumulating
in aquatic organisms. Right now, we’re looking into the toxicity and the impacts of this
accumulation a little bit more in the crayfish model. Okay, but when we were doing
the Chesapeake Bay sampling, we also collected some oysters. This is definitely an important part of the Chesapeake Bay economy. So we collected these oysters
and we also analyzed those for our contaminants of emerging concern. We found a naturally-occurring
hormone, Estrone, although it can also come from
waste water treatments plants and agricultural operations. We also detected two sunscreens, so Oxybenzone again and Homosalate. So if you have any personal care products that have an SPF number on them, a sun protection factor, take a look at the backside of the bottle, look at the active ingredients. I would bet Oxybenzone or
Homosalate is one of them. So these molecules are
in a lot of the products that we use every day and again, because we’re using them, they have to go somewhere. Now, our data in the Chesapeake Bay is still a little bit
preliminary at this point, but what we’re hoping to
do in the next year or so is to actually expand this analysis out so we can think about
throughout different parts of the bay. You know, where are these
concentrations higher, where are they lower, and how can we start thinking about remediating this problem. So how can we remediate this problem? Well, we really think that
a comprehensive approach is needed. We need to design green
drugs that can, you know, be easily degraded in the environment or in our waste water treatment plants. We need to think about
personalizing our medicine so that we’re not using
more medicine than we need and sending more out into the environment. We need to think about
better drug disposal options and we also need to think about
better waste water treatment and this is one of the areas where my group has really
paid a lot of attention. What we try to do is we focus on processes that systematically degrade
some of these contaminants. It’s actually quite challenging and one of the things that we found when we were doing this is while we’re trying to systematically degrade one contaminant, we’re always forming something else. And so for example, we do a
lot of work with antibiotics. What we recently showed is that when we’re degrading one antibiotic, we can actually form other antibiotics, and sometimes those other antibiotics are actually stronger, they’re more potent than the one that we started with. So if we’re not careful, we can actually make the situation worse. Okay, so this is where our
group is really putting a lot of effort these days, to really thinking about when we’re treating these molecules, what are we creating and how can we make sure
that we’re removing some of the toxicity threat associated with not
just the parent molecule but also all the other ones that are being generated in solution. Okay, so at the end of the day, we really think that antibiotics and some of these endocrine
disruptors like hormones and sunscreens are really important, especially in a sensitive
ecosystem like the Chesapeake Bay because of the threat
from antibiotic resistance and some of these endocrine
disruption impacts that we see throughout different species. Our environment is on drugs. Let’s give it the help that it needs. Thank you. (applause) – Thank you, Lee. Our third presenter,
Dr. Tyson King-Meadows, is an associate professor in the Department of Political Science an affiliate associate professor in the Department of Africana Studies, and affiliate faculty member in the UMBC School of Public Policy and most recently, an associate dean in the College of Arts,
Humanities, and Social Sciences. He conducts research in the area of African American leadership, voting rights, political attitudes, and behavior and American institutions. His work includes Devolution
and Black State Legislators and When the Letter Betrays the Spirit: Voting Rights Enforcement
and African American Participation from Lyndon
Johnson to Barack Obama. Dr. King-Meadows’s research has benefited from a number of prestigious fellowships and research grants, including a 2012/2013 American Political Science Association Congressional Fellowship, where he worked as a full time staffer for the U.S. House of Representatives Committee on the Judiciary. Dr. King-Meadows is
also a former president of the National Conference of
Black Political Scientists. He has spent more than two decades working with local, national, and
international organizations on projects related to civic engagement and good governance. Dr. King-Meadows’s talk today is entitled, “Why the Color of your Canary
Matters for Democracy.” Dr. Tyson King-Meadows. (applause) – Good afternoon. – [Audience] Good afternoon. – These events for the
50th anniversary are great, aren’t they? You having a good time? – [Audience] Yes. – There are two major themes
that run through the weekend that are relevant to what I
wanna talk to you about today. The first is community. How do we build community, how do we sustain community. And how do we recognize
our common interests. The second is context. By celebrating what
happened 50 years ago today, we learn more about our own democracy. By putting yesteryear and
today in conversation, we learn about our common interests and our unique interests. My research addresses
how people understand their common interests, specifically I’m interested
in political coalitions and how they form. And what the formation
of those coalitions mean for democracy. You know, some days some
people say that right now, we’re interested in destroying coalitions instead of building them, but that’s another subject. Democracy needs coalitions to survive. The key question in forming coalitions is how do we get people to
recognize their common interests? How do we get people to build community? In 2002, democratic theorists
Lani Guinier and Gerald Torres wrote a book called The Miner’s Canary which is essentially about community. In that book, they say race
is like the miner’s canary. See, the miner took a canary down because the canary’s fragile respiratory system would collapse long before a
human’s respiratory system. So, the canary in distress
would tell the miner that there was toxic fumes and it was too poisonous to continue. So what Lani Guinier and Torres say is that racialized
minorities are just like the miner’s canary. Their distress tells non-minorities that there’s something
toxic about the environment. So in this regard, the miner’s
canary is a diagnostic tool and a prescriptive source. While this is a very attractive theory, I think it loses something
about how race works. It also loses an understanding
about how information acquisition and information
processing actually works. And so, if you think about it, this relationship of trust
actually needs two things. One, the miner has to
trust the canary’s signal. The miner’s canary has
to be able to signal to the miner something’s dangerous. And two, the miner has
to trust the intentions of the canary. My contention is that race interprets in particular ways signals. In other words, the
ways in which race work help to frame signals in particular ways. And the damage to that is
that race does something difficult to this relationship of trust. And so when that happens, not only is the signal distorted, but the diagnosis and the
prescription is undermined. And I base this based on two
ways politics of race work. One, people hear and see
race and think differently based upon what that think they hear. And two, race often acts as
a proxy for and shaper of partisan identity. You know, black equals democrat, white equals republican. So imagine if the miner is
listening for the signal. Imagine if the canary is
otherwise thought of as suspect or foreign or inauthentic. So, the miner listens for the signal and the miner says, hey, I’m anti-bird, I’m so pro-human, I’m anti-everything else. Or the miner says I’m anti-canary. It’s not that you’re a bird, it’s the type of bird that really matters. Or the miner’s a colorist and says, I’m anti-yellow. Or the miner could say all three. I’m disinclined to believe any bird on this particular subject but especially a yellow canary. So imagine the difficulty the canary has in convincing the miner
to accept the diagnosis and the prescription. Well, let’s think about how
this works in real life. In a 1992 experiment,
what they did is showed black and whites response
to this statement. Now, this statement is
unambiguously about race and about government and about intentions and so, what they did is they varied who they attributed the statement to. In this case, the black
canary is Jesse Jackson, Clarence Thomas. And what you see is that blacks, the black miners, are more likely to listen
to the black canary. They also did this with a white canary. In this case, it would be Ted Kennedy and the 41st president, George Bush. What you see that white
canaries, white miners, that dyad is much more persuasive. You say, hey, people hear race, they hear intention. They also did this in 2003. A group of scholars
simply called individuals on the phone and asked them
political knowledge questions, I mean basic questions,
like I teach in Poli-100. How many Supreme Court judges are there? Right. So, individuals who thought
that they heard a black canary, you didn’t see any differences. Okay. They heard the canary, they
didn’t see any differences. They heard race, but they
answered the question. But when a white canary, when they perceived that
the person on the phone was white, black respondents had a
different understanding of what the intention was. And so their scores went down. These authors used the
theory of stereotype threat to say these blacks who were on the phone with the white canary felt pressure. They believed that they were being judged or evaluated so they answered incorrectly. They did this because they
didn’t want to conform to white expectations
about black intelligence. So they answered less correctly. And it’s statistically significant. The authors say the problem is they heard race and heard intention. Now, there’s a ton of
research that has confirmed stereotype threat and implicit bias and its impact in decision making. So, what my research
assistants and I have done over the years is we’ve done
a variety of experiments, both textual experiments
where we don’t show anybody and visual experiments
that I’m gonna talk about. The first experiment is
when we were thinking about voting rights. So all we did is we put
together an experiment where republicans and
democrats were signalling as canaries that there was something toxic in the environment and we call that toxic thing registration fraud or voter fraud. And what you see here is that if a democrat
heard a republican canary, they were less likely to say the DOJ needs to do something about it. So democratic canaries were much more, much more persuasive
than republican canaries. We even controlled for
attitudes towards voter ID laws. And here, you see once again, that republican canaries are
less likely to be persuasive. So you see a toxic environment, there’s registration fraud and republicans are not
listened to as much. We did another experiment, another text experiment where we simply said, okay, you’ve got candidates
who are talking about racial and income inequality. Who’s gonna talk? So we had a text experiment
where you tell them the candidates black or you don’t tell the candidates anything, or the candidate’s a woman or the candidate is white. And what you see here is that
black canaries are punished. They are told not to talk
about racial inequality and not to talk about income inequality. But white canaries are
encouraged to squawk about inequality. White canaries said, hey,
talk, talk, talk, talk, talk. Black canaries, not so much. We did another experiment. This is where we designed
fictitious commercials featuring fictitious candidates talking about race, talking about gender, talking about income. Different types of inequality. All we varied was the race and the party of the candidate. Now, the biographies
were exactly the same. Exactly the same. Here, in this experiment, is a democratic candidate
talking about racial inequality and the visuals, the visuals are there to
prime individuals about race. We also measured racial resentment, and we also measured attitudes towards government inequality. So they’re hearing and seeing race. Now, here are our findings, just for the racial inequality stimulus. Now, we’re in Baltimore, so if you think of the dots
sort of like swimmers, right, what you see is racial inequality, if an individual candidate
is black or white, what you see here on this slide is that when you’re swimming further, that means that you’re
more likely to support. And these are democratic candidates and these are democrats. So we took the republican respondents out. And what you see here is that the white candidate
is swimming faster than the black candidate. And black attitudes or
anti-black attitudes also matter here. And what you see here, is that simply the black candidate is being punished for discussions of racial inequality. We also have results for
other types of inequality. But we don’t blame race. We don’t blame race. What we blame is selective attention. What we actually focus on
as a group of human beings. Selective exposure, the
kind of news sources that we think about, and segregation, the intentional, political, socioeconomic and spacial separation of people who don’t look like us. Canaries who don’t look like us. So in this case, even though
the canary’s sending a signal, the miner says, wait, did
I select a yellow canary? Did I select this yellow canary? And in the end, it really doesn’t matter because in the end,
there are always signals about our peril. And if we don’t pay attention to them, at the end, we’re all
going to be worse off. And so I leave you with this. What color is your canary? Thank you. (applause) – Thanks. Wasn’t that awesome? So I invite you all,
first of all, thank you, or help me thank all the
speakers of this first session. (applause) And I invite you all, you have a good solid 25 minutes off, so the speakers actually
stayed to their 10 minutes except Scott, Scott and I took five minutes up front, so that’s how it’s gonna be. We wanna see you back here in 25 minutes for the next round, which
starts at three o’clock. Thanks very much. (applause) I wanna welcome you to that second session for GRIT-X. Some of you have been in
the first session already, and I see some new faces in the audience, really glad to have you. And obviously, we gave
a new meaning to GRIT, Global Research Innovation
Trends and Excellence is the way we spell it
in the research office. We’ve been planning for this
event for about nine months now and really had the goal of
sharing with the community that’s visiting this weekend much of the research, the scholarship, and the creative achievement
that’s going on in our campus and really some of the amazing
alumni and faculty successes that we can share with you today. We have, as you may know from the program, three 30-minute sessions. Ten-minute talks by three speakers in each of the sessions and then there’s a break
and we hope to see you back for our third session at four o’clock. After you had a chance
to go over and maybe relax a little bit out
on the really amazing parking lot across the street. So, our second session
will be moderated by Dean William LaCourse, who’s the dean of the College of Natural and Mathematical Sciences and please help me
welcome Bill to the stage. Thanks very much. (applause) – Well, this is definitely empowering to be on this stage. Bill LaCourse, Dean of the College as Karl said here. I’m excited to be here
to do a GRIT-X talk, to moderate this for you. What we’re talking about is
a journey out of darkness. When we think of science and other venues, everything we do begins with observation. That’s what good science is all about. That’s how we learn,
that’s how we do things. And we observe the world around us. And then if we want to go beyond what our human limitations are, we’ll take that to the next
step with technology, right, we make microscopes to see what is small, we make telescopes to see what’s out far. We have things that are digital to send communication
all around the world. And so now that we have all of this information coming at us, right, all of this ability to see with all the spectrum to other things. We’re gonna get three
viewpoints on observation. One, we’re being observed
all the time, right, there are cameras all the way, you go past speed cameras, they’re on posts. We’re gonna get some viewpoints on that from Rebecca A. Adelman. She is Associate Professor,
Media and Communication. She’s gonna talk about
Beyond the Checkpoint, Rethinking Citizenship and Surveillance. And then we’re gonna look up into the sky and look down at the clouds and look down at the weather and see why things are
happening the way they are with Vanderlei Martins,
a professor in physics, and the Joint Center for
Earth Systems Technology. He’s reaching for the skies. Sun, pollution, clouds, and climate. He might be able to tell us why storms are so strong nowadays. And then, Lee Boot, director
of the Imaging Resource Center, A Grand Visualization Challenge: Putting Humpty Back Together Again. We have so much information coming at us, and I don’t know about you, I started off life with picture books. An image translates a thousand words. How do you take all this data
and put it into one place so it’s understandable. And so what I want to do
with the introductions in the beginning is to have these individuals
come in one after another. It’s their time. It’s your time to listen
to what they have to say and so that’s it for me. I’ll see you at the end. (applause) – Thank you. Good afternoon. So, in August 2003, I set off a walk-through metal detector at the New Orleans airport and
no one could figure out why. They x-rayed my sandals, searched my bag, sent me through again and again, always with the same result. They scanned me with a
handheld metal detector and I set that off, too, a couple of times. They called for reinforcements and a uniformed-crowd
descended to escort me away from the public space of the checkpoint and through an unmarked
door into a room furnished with a metal desk, metal chairs, a dangling overhead light. A sheriff appeared and
asked if there was anything I wanted to tell them. There wasn’t. A TSA officer asked why I was setting off the metal detectors. I had no idea. They questioned and
wanded me simultaneously, the alert of the device
undermining my every protestation that I wasn’t hiding anything. They took turns, alternating between the metal detector and direct physical inspections. And the device alarmed at every pass but their manual pat
downs revealed nothing. They began asking me to
remove articles of clothing and became more aggressive
in their questioning. An hour into this routine, they were getting impatient, and I was getting nervous. I had no idea what would happen, but I sensed that the
officials didn’t either, having repeated their
protocol over and over again without making any progress. Finally, someone suggested
maybe they should try another metal detector. This time, silence. My captors magically
transformed, becoming warm, jovial, almost maternal. Their machine confirmed
mutely but emphatically that we were on the same side. And our lopsidedly intimate interactions had made us part of the same system. They returned my clothes,
my shoes, and carry-on. As they guided me toward the door, they informed me that they
would have to prepare a report but would be sure to note how patient and agreeable I’d been. One woman put her hand on my shoulder and thanked me. She smiled kindly and said,
“You’ve really done a service “for your country today.” Now, at the time, this
sentiment struck me as absurd and even insulting. I couldn’t see how my
compliance benefited the country and I didn’t really think I
had done much of anything. I imagined myself as the passive victim of an overzealous security state and this depiction is partially accurate. Scholars like Rachel Hall and Lisa Parks have observed how various
checkpoint technologies and practices render
passengers transparent or see-through and demand compliance in
exchange for mobility. But my vulnerability
was only half the story. And focusing only on the
power of the officials overshadows my essential
participation in this interaction. Which in turn illuminates
the contingency and fragility of even the intense securitization that followed September 11. I had no metal on my person, much less anything dangerous, but the machines malfunctioned, repeatedly. This triggered a response that
wasted the time and energy of six government employees and hence potentially kept them from investigating other actual threats. The search of my baggage and my body turned up nothing and neither did their questions because there was nothing to uncover. They encountered impasse after impasse. My cooperation was the
only thing that went right. The grateful TSA agent
revealed unwittingly how heavily the national
security state relies on its citizens to partner
in the work of surveillance. Indeed, even when surveillance
technologies work properly, they don’t directly
guarantee public safety. So apart from the jerkiness
imparted to their motions by the security cameras themselves, this footage from the early
morning of September 11, 2001 shows the soon-to-be hijackers of American Airlines Flight 77 moving easily through Washington Dulles
International Airport as they prepared to fly that
plane into the Pentagon. Among the first hijackers to
arrive, Khalid al-Mihdhar, clears security with only a brief delay and walks away with
his chin tilted upward, his mouth slightly open, maybe a smile, maybe a grimace, maybe nothing at all. At one point, though,
the poor image quality makes his expression inscrutable. He raises his head and
seems to look directly at the camera but betrays
no apparent reaction to it. Faintly visible some minutes later is the flashing red alert
light on the walk-through metal detector, set off by Nawaf al-Hazmi. His movements as he raises his arms, pivots, and raises them
again are strangely graceful and he is impassive as the
screener moves the wand through the air around his body. Moments later, he turns
to collect his bag, casting only the briefest
look back at the man who has cleared him to
move into the terminal to board his flight. Although the unblinking cameras performed their task faultlessly by clearly capturing
the hijackers on screen, by doing nothing more than that, they also failed in a fundamental way and marked the limit of
what surveillance alone could accomplish. The footage these cameras generated, which was apparently unremarkable at the moment of its creation, became agonizingly
meaningful in retrospect and illustrated that
if images were to serve any purpose at all for the besieged United States, they could do so only through aggressive and deliberate action on
the part of actual people and organizations that wield them. The impotence of the
surveillance recording demonstrated that the
state’s survival hinged on the abilities of its agents and allies, not just to passively collect images, but to interpret, manage,
and actively use them. Consequently, the state
would have to count on its citizens to say
something if they happened to see something. That ubiquitous mandate revealed the state’s awareness of
its visual incapacities and deficiencies but also
signaled its intention to redefine citizenship as
active visual engagement, not just passive acquiescence. And so, the TSA, the Department
of Homeland Security, and their partner agencies have tried to make
surveillance commonplace but also fun. For example, in 2015,
Homeland Security launched a multimedia Protect
Your Every Day campaign to re-invigorate its see something, say something initiative. The radio spots, videos, and
posters feature everyday folks, who identify themselves
as teachers, barbers, and firefighters, and encourage their fellow
citizens as follows. Quote, “It’s when you experience
a moment of uncertainty, “something or someone’s behavior
that doesn’t seem right, “these are the moments to take a pause “because if something doesn’t feel right, “it’s probably not. “It isn’t about paranoia or being afraid. “It’s about standing up and
protecting our communities, “one detail at a time “because a lot of little
details can become a pattern. “We trust our instincts, they
say, just like you should, “because only you know
what’s not supposed to be “in your every day.” The commercials conclude
with an instruction to report those little out-of-place
details to the authorities and situate this practice
as a part of a daily routine as unremarkably necessary
as getting a haircut or sending your child to school. Now, at the same time,
these agencies are infusing a new comedic sensibility into their work. Of course this development
would have been unthinkable in the immediate
aftermath of September 11, and it also sits awkwardly
alongside the absolute seriousness of what’s at stake, which is enforced of course by the establishment of
no-joking zones at airports where you can be
prosecuted for even joking about bombing or terrorism. Here, though, the visual joke
of the elephant on the train, or the cartoonist reference to x-ray specs enact a whimsical form of conscription of everyday citizens into watchfulness on behalf of the state. Even the notoriously humorless TSA has gotten in on the act. Most notably through
its active maintenance of an Instagram feed. Now, some of the visual
content here is rather dully bureaucratic or
straightforwardly patriotic, and of course the feed
is crowded with images that justify the agency’s existence, as in its photos of the large quantities of concealed weapons it
intercepts every day. But alongside this predictable content are images designed to entertain. These include photos
of their working dogs, looking alert and friendly, interspersed with gratuitously cute images of traveling pets going through security and amusing photos of the weird things people try to sneak onto planes. However, the unquestionable
highlight of the feed is the content generated
by its Ask TSA feature, whereby curious travelers can take a photo of a questionable item and
get the official answer on whether it can be
checked or carried on. Now, many of the queries
seem designed to poke fun at the TSA, mock the
arbitrariness and restrictiveness of its policies. But the TSA responds gamely, providing detailed
instructions on how people can safely transport things
like sticks of butter, cans of gefilte fish, gladiator helmets, headlights, taxidermied animals,
mummified human remains, and whole pies. And it works. In 2015, Rolling Stone
rated the TSA fourth out of the top 100 Instagram feeds behind Kim Kardashian, National
Geographic, and Rihanna. It has nearly half a million followers. Of course, Ask TSA helps
to normalize controversial security measures and
diffuse public animosity toward the agency, of
which there is quite a bit. But it also makes explicit the
kind of citizen participation on which security increasingly depends. Thank you. (applause) – So you can see here how surveillance can have
a lot of different meanings and how we interpret it and now you’re gonna probably
look at it differently when you go through the
airport scanner next time. Next we have Vanderlei
Martins is gonna talk us a lot about the satellite
imagery and types of works that he does (mumbles). – Good afternoon, everybody. I’m a professor in the physics department and I’ll tell you a
little bit about our work with the sun, pollution,
clouds, and climate and the relationship between these things. So when you have sunlight reaching the top of the atmosphere, Earth’s atmosphere, so part of that sunlight
gets reflected back to space. But part of that sunlight gets absorbed by Earth’s atmosphere or gets
absorbed by the surface on Earth and contributes
to warm the planet. So that’s the energy driving force that keeps our planet as we know it today. Now, part of that energy
that gets reflected back to space does not
contribute for warming up the planet. And the part that’s
absorbed by the atmosphere, warms up the atmosphere of our planet. So I will focus on
these two topics in red, so the light reflected back to space, and the energy of the
sun that gets absorbed by our atmosphere. So that light is reflected by
particles in the atmosphere and by clouds. Now, we all have heard
about greenhouse effect and climate change,
global warming in general and the effect of CO2. So by adding CO2 to the atmosphere, we are increasing the greenhouse effect and we are making our atmosphere warm. So I just wanna use that as an example ’cause I wanna give you
another perspective, a little bit more information on that. So, the CO2 effect, the greenhouse effect, is on the order of two
watts per square meter, so that’s what’s warming up the planet due to human pollution. The other components of the
atmosphere, clouds and particle pollution in the atmosphere, the main effect that they
have the solar lights to reflect that solar light back to space. And that has in general,
the opposite effect. So that would have an effect
of cooling the planet, of cooling Earth because of the energy that gets reflected back to space. Now, a gas-like CO2 when you disperse that to the atmosphere, it gets homogeneous
distributed very quickly and goes around the globe and everywhere you have more
or less the same concentration, more or less the same effect. Clouds, as you know,
when you look at the sky, they are very variable and
you see very different clouds in different locations,
different times of the day and they change all the time. And so are the aerosols, or the pollution that we
have in the atmosphere, that we produce. So when those particles are
admitted to the atmosphere, they don’t get homogeneous very quickly in the atmosphere so they travel, they can travel very long distances as you can see with the
dust coming from Africa and going all the way across the Atlantic and reaching the Americas. Or as you can see with
biomass burning in the Amazon that can travel and go to the
ocean and mix with sea salt, so those particles can
also travel long distances but they’re very, very variable and you can see here
several examples of that, so sea salt, in regions
of high wind speed, biomass burning in Africa and
the Amazon in South America. Sulfate pollution particles
in the Northern Hemisphere and of course those particles
are emitted everywhere but they have high
concentrations in some regions and they travel around the globe, so they have very, very variable effect. Now, those particles directly
affect clouds on Earth, so there would be no clouds on Earth if it wasn’t for particles and suspension in the atmosphere. So every single cloud, every
single droplet in the clouds on the Earth’s atmosphere is formed around the pollution particle. I shouldn’t say pollution
because natural particles also. So you have particles emitted for instance by forests, by oceanic particles that are in the atmosphere. Water vapor will condense
around those particles and will grow as cloud
droplets and will form in the clouds that we know. Now, because those particles are essential for cloud formation on Earth, they also control the cloud properties. So, here if I have a case
where the atmosphere is clean and you have particles but
a very low concentration of particles, the cloud droplets will form and they will grow much larger, so you’re gonna have large cloud droplets and that’s the first thing
that’s needed for precipitation, that the particles can grow
large enough and rain and fall. Now, as you add pollution
to the atmosphere, as you add more particles
to the atmosphere, you have now more particles to share that water vapor, to share the water, and as a result, you have
clouds with smaller droplets, much more numerous cloud droplets but much smaller sizes. Smaller sizes reflect more light so you have now more
light being reflected back to space and contributing
to that cooling effect that I was talking about before. So as a result, you have brighter clouds due to the excess of pollution, excess of particles that
you have in the atmosphere. Now, for the same reason,
because now you have smaller droplets in the clouds, it takes longer to rain or it’s more, the clouds are less efficient in terms of producing precipitation. So the clouds will live longer, again contributing for
reflecting more radiation back to space but to also affect the water cycle and will take longer for
a cloud to precipitate, so we’re basically changing
that whole balance. And then finally, also by
adding those particles, the cloud, because of
the smaller droplets, have now the opportunity to grow deeper and you have much deeper convection, much taller clouds. We have measured clouds in the Amazon that are up to ten miles in depth and then you have ice particles
on the top of the clouds and the storms can grow stronger and there are many effects
that come from that that we don’t understand very well. So I’m giving you here some
examples of this effect on how we are as humans
changing our environment and producing huge effect around us but we don’t really completely
understand its effects. So because of that, as part
of our work here at UMBC, we have proposed and we
have now been developing a small satellite that
should address this type of questions. And this is the HARP satellite, which is designed to measure clouds and to measure aerosol pollution, measure both together and help us to answer
these type of questions. So HARP is actually a small satellite so it’s the size of a loaf of bread. So it’s a very tiny satellite
and if you have a chance today, this afternoon, after the talks, swing by the physics building. In the first floor, we have
the satellite there exposed so you can see a real
model of the satellite with the right size,
with all the properties in the building, and we have other demonstrations
there for you to see. So, you can see here on the hands of one of our engineers here at UMBC, so the instrument that
does all the measurements, so it’s a very tiny
camera that has a lot of important properties
and can measure things, like you see all the yellow
drawings below the satellite so seeing the clouds in the atmosphere from many different perspectives to make those measurements. So this is a real piece of
hardware that was designed and built here at UMBC
as a model for future, bigger satellites, so we’d like to go from the loaf of bread size of satellites that
we are developing today to these measurements to a scuba size of
satellite where we can do all the measurements that we need. Not really because I just
want a bigger satellite, but because we can add more measurements and we can have more
things done simultaneously. So then what are we doing here? So as I was saying before, so the science behind our HARP satellite is to look at pollution
and trophogenic particles produced by man and
emitted to the atmosphere that are affecting our environment, that are affecting clouds, that are affecting precipitation and you study how all
those process happens. So those are things that
we are doing here at UMBC, in collaboration with other institutions including NASA Goddard. And just as an example, so when you look at a cloud or when you take a picture of a cloud with your camera you see the image that
you have on the top there, so you see the white clouds
with their variability, with their distribution. But when HARP, when our
satellite look at clouds, HARP doesn’t see that. HARP sees the image that you have below. So HARP sees all these colors, HARP sees all these rainbows because of the way the
instrument is developed, so that’s designed so that we can tell what are in the clouds and we can measure things like this that tells us the size of the droplets inside the clouds, that tells us the pollution
around the clouds. And we can measure
simultaneously the clouds and the pollution around it. So, this is a small satellite that we have been developing here at UMBC but we have very great ambition and it’s a small satellite that will make lots of measurements and we have our students involved, our faculty involved, and we really have a great ambition for these measurements and for the future. Thank you. (applause) – I wonder if you’re ever gonna look at clouds again the same, right, they still have the same beauty, but you know, they challenge us. So now it’s my pleasure to
introduce Lee Boot to the stage. He’s gonna talk about
visualizing knowledge in many different forms, so we’re gonna delve into
the mind of the artist and it’s gonna see the
magic of (mumbles), so. – Thank you. (applause) Hi everyone. How you doing? (audience mumbles) Good. The Imaging Research Center is artists, software engineers, and
people from all disciplines working together to determine how we can use information technologies to increase the impact
of valuable knowledge. Technology can be a beautiful thing. Let’s do a brief review. Fire, oh, solved the cold problem. And beautiful to look at as well. Roofs. I’m bald. Roofs, brilliant. Can we have a round of
applause for roofs please? Show some love for roofs. (applause) But our new information technologies, our phones for example, while they give us amazing
access to astounding amounts of information, that capacity fails to
translate into real progress on our biggest challenges. Essentially, they’re not doing for us what these great technologies
did for our ancestors, even though we know how to prevent most of the chronic diseases that
cause premature death, we know how to solve climate change, we know how to reduce
poverty with education. And the experts are
delivering this information from on high but it’s not helping. Why? Let’s think about the way we represent and structure information
for just a minute. The book is the gold standard, very detailed, right, but did you ever notice that
books only show two pages at once? What about all the rest
of the information? And your phones show all
this discreet, tiny pieces, all these tiny pieces of information but they’re completely unconnected and you look at it
through this tiny window which disconnects you from everybody else. Powerpoint in the worst. When you see this slide, there’s no trace of any other slide that is in the deck. You have to remember those
connections yourself. The web is the same way. You look at what’s on one webpage and you tab away to another web page and the one you were looking at is gone. Poof. It disappears. When it comes to making the
connections between information, you’re on your own. So that leads detectives in movies and TV to make these things that
the writers call crazy walls. Looks like my… I don’t know where my microphone is. Can you guys all hear me? – [Audience] Yes. – I love these crazy
wall things they have. This is the one from Homeland. But on a more serious note, Stanley McChrystal, the
General from Afghanistan, was forced to make this Powerpoint slide to try to describe to his troops, the kinds of human and difficult and messy complications that they were dealing with in Afghanistan and this slide, him trying to deal with
the technology limitations earned him a New York Times article called “We’ve Met the Enemy
and It Is Powerpoint.” (laughter) Modern people aren’t
supposed to think this way. It makes you crazy. It’s culturally counter-intuitive. It’s counter culture, counter cultural to think
in terms of connections and context. We like singular, we
like the elevator pitch, we like the silver bullet solution, one thing at a time, the single pill that cures all ailments. It’s a kind of Myopia and the question is are the
things that we can’t see blindsiding us? For example, that would example why health treatments that
look great in the lab or in a clinical trial don’t translate into clinical practice. Or why we can come up
with amazing vaccines and again, tell the people
to take them from on high and people refuse. We’re failing to take into
account the human factors like culture, identity,
and human emotions, like anger and mistrust. Things that are a little messy, a little complicated, and we tend to keep off the table. But our information technologies don’t just divide up information. They divide up people, too. So we spend our lives in echo chambers, hoping that our side will win, even though we know that political problems
require relationship-building to solve. So, our information technologies and the way we represent
and structure knowledge breaks everything up and in my opinion, our
civilization is having a humpty-dumpty moment. So the Imaging Research
Center is looking at this as a grand challenge and
two recent computer science graduates, Boris Boyko and Jeremy Neil, have tried to address it with a framework, a new software framework that’s actually pretty simple. This is a 3D virtual space and the ground plain is a Google Map and ideas are things, very sophisticated terminology, things. Things can be the thing, there is a factor, a piece of knowledge, things can be any color, any shape, they can be shiny, you can
name them anything you want, and you can put a bunch
of them in the same space and you can draw the
connections between them in explicit ways. You can make them children
and parents to one another. So you can mimic the way an outline works and you can connect them to the map using latitudinal and longitudinal data. So to try out this software, and for other reasons
that we care deeply about, we have a project called
the Art of Transformation and that’s UMBC staff,
faculty, and students working with community organizations and community residents in Baltimore to try to develop culture-based solutions and approaches to community development. Culture-based solutions are not the norm so it’s an exciting project. What you’re seeing here is
a feature of the software. It allows you to do tours
through visualization models and this is the one we’ve
created for the project. So you see Baltimore City
and a bubble above it that says challenges and opportunities. The challenges and
opportunities of Baltimore City can’t be dealt with one at a time. You can’t just deal with education and not deal with transportation, public health, or crime. These things are all connected. Everybody knows they’re connected but this is the only place
that you can see them as connected. As you go up to 40,000 feet, that’s a metaphor we use in this software, you see ideas that are more abstract and more conceptual but nonetheless, impact those
more close to the ground factors down below. So we interviewed people in the community over a period of time to try to understand what creates something that
social psychologists call a psychological sense of community of what we’re calling,
the soul of a community. And what they said helped
us build this model and of course, we shared
it back with the community. What they said was that the
local economy, local businesses in particular are incredibly important, locally-owned businesses that they patronize. And the arts create a sense of community, they create a glue, a social glue and there’s a kind of
magic, synergistic triangle between these factors, local economy, arts, and
the soul of a community. The way they described it was
using these kinds of terms. Love, support, sense of
place, pride, et cetera. And what’s great about
what Boris and Jeremy have done here is in this software model, you can hear the words
of the community members, the real stakeholders in this situation, describing what their ideas were. You just click on one of the things, up comes a media card, you click and you’d be able to hear Denise Johnson if the sound was on, but I’m just trying to demonstrate the software here. And really get a sense that
this entire enterprise, where university people
and community people are working hand in hand
is a collaborative effort without a real hierarchy. And this is a public piece of software, so instead of the experts
sort of telling people again, from on high, what the
valuable information is, anybody can go into this software and they can participate
and they can build models and they can add their own media. So this is just a framework. This is a very early experiment. We wanted to find out what happens when you put ideas into a virtual 3D space where you have more room. And you don’t have to be reductive and we can be comprehensive and inclusive. Thank you very much. (applause) – Wasn’t this awesome? Another round of applause
for our three speakers in the second session. (applause) And we hope to see you
back in about 25 minutes for round three, the third one of our three sessions that we have today, where we have such topics as From ReSearch to MeSearch, Inventing Tomorrow, and Teaching Politics in
an Era of Civics Decline. So, have a few minutes, our speakers are gonna come out. You can talk to them in
person while they’re hanging with you and then we
hope to have all of you, most of you back here in about 25 minutes. Thanks very much. Good afternoon. – [Audience] Good afternoon. – Some of you have been here already so you know the drill, but really glad to see, how many of you have been here to some of the earlier sessions? – (Audience member cheers) – I love that! And some of you are
here for the first time. You may not have been
in this building before. This is the very beautiful Earl and Danielle Linehan Concert Hall and as I said, in the
earlier two sessions, if Freeman would be standing here, he would ask all of you to give a hand to Earl and Danielle. Can we just do that? (applause) GRIT-X. Global Research Innovation
Trends and Excellence. That’s how we spell GRIT in this session when we talk about the impact and the really incredible
achievements of our faculty and of our alumni over the last, well, five decades now. We’re highlighting probably
more the last two decades, to be quite frank. We’ve already had two
great sessions of about 30 minutes each, three talks
in each of the sessions and you will now be
participating in the last of our three sessions today for GRIT-X, so in order for us to keep
the program on schedule, and to really get to the
faculty and the alumni that speak, it’s really my honor to
introduce the moderator for this third session, that’s Julia Ross, Dr. Julia Ross, who’s the dean of the College of Engineering
and Information Technology. Help me welcome Julia. (applause) – Good afternoon. – [Audience] Good afternoon. – So, thank you all for coming here today for our third session of GRIT-X and I have to tell you I’m so impressed to see so many people here when there’s all these
competing events on campus, so many exciting things happening around the 50th anniversary, so we’re just thrilled to
have you here on campus and really thrilled that
you chose to spend some time with us, listening to
our fantastic faculty and alumni here this afternoon. So let me get right to it and
introduce our first speaker to you, we’ve got a great lineup today that I think really shows you
both the breadth and depth of the impact UMBC is having. Our first speaker is Dr.
Karsonya Wise Whitehead. She’s an associate professor of communication and African American Studies at Loyola University of Maryland. She’s an award-winning curriculum writer and lesson-plan developer, an award-winning former Baltimore City middle school teacher and a three-time New York Emmy-nominated documentary filmmaker, so she’s done all kinds
of interesting things. She received her degree from UMBC in language literacy and culture in 2009. She’s the author of a number of books, articles, opinion editorials, and is an in-demand motivational speaker and prolific blogger, a guest commentator on WYPR, and a frequent guest host
of the Mark Steiner Show on WEAA. Please join me in welcoming
Dr. Karsonya Wise Whitehead to the stage. (applause) – Thank you. So I consider myself to be a MeSearcher and I have been training for this all my life. I got my first journal at the age of nine and with the seriousness
of a nine-year-old, I begin to document all
the important things in my life, mostly boys, but talking about my hair and complaining a lot about my parents. And I continue writing about myself, kind of like navel-gazing, because I felt that I was
probably the most important person in the world. I look back at my journals from
when I was eleven years old and somehow or another, I
was absolutely convinced that the world revolved around me and I would say things like, people are too stupid to figure it out, and when they realize how important I am, the world is going to change. Well, I kept doing this MeSearch and when I got into college, my advisor said, you know,
what do you want to major in? I said, I wanna major in me. Can you do that? (laughter) And he said, we don’t
give BAs in navel-gazing but you probably should go into history. He said you should put down the diaries and pick of archival research and so I became a historian and I continued that
through my BA and my MA, thinking about my PhD and then 15 years ago, something incredible happened. I woke up about 3am in the morning. It was my third time
getting up that evening and I said, at this point, I think something’s happening to me. Something’s changing and I realized that somebody had chosen me to be their mother. And I said, wow, I’m going to be a mother and I was upset about that ’cause I said, I don’t
want to have children. And so I did what I always do. I started writing at 3am in the morning and I wrote a letter to my son in my womb, and I said, you’re not gonna change me. You’re not gonna make
me into a better person. I’m gonna remain who I am. You want my attention? You need to yell to get it. Because you’re just a passenger in my body as I go about my life. And so, every day I started
writing something to him. So the next day, it’s like, okay, I found out that you
don’t like when I eat Cheetos and I don’t understand that
’cause that’s my favorite food, already you’re bending my
will to suit your life. And so I begin writing and writing and writing, every chance I have, I would
write my oldest son a letter and then he was joined by his brother and so I begin writing them letters when they were in the crib and I would tape it to the wall, so when they roll over and they’re crying, they can see my words, though they can’t read them, they’ll know they’re there and I would stick them
underneath the mattress and I would tape them to their bottles so that when their nanny took them out, she would have something to read to them. And as they got older, I begin putting letters in their shoes, and putting them in their coats and they would put on their robes and there’d be a letter in the pocket. And they’d head off to school and there’d be more letters there, every letter started with “Dear boys, “I just want to tell you
how important you are.” And “Dear Boys, you’re superheros
but you have your capes “underneath your clothes.” And “Dear boys, I have
the best job in the world. “I get to mother you. “And even though I haven’t
learned how to mother myself, I’m working on doing that for you.” And so, one letter became ten, ten letters became 15, and when my oldest son who’s now 15, when he turned 14, I
realized I had 30 journals of letters to my sons. And I said, we should
do something with this, we should publish this. I think the world wants
to see what I’m doing. And it became my book
Letters to my Black Sons and it became for me, my research. So four things that I’ve learned. The first one is curiosity. And that first thing
that was birth for them and watching themselves grow up on paper actually started here on this campus. When I was working on my PhD, we met Dr. Freeman Hrabowski and he told my boys a
story and they were five and six years old and he said how he would
wake up every morning and look in the morning and say, “Good morning, Dr. Hrabowski,” from the time he was ten years old all the way up. (laughter) People remember this
story about Dr. Hrabowski. So, I thought that was an amazing story. The next morning, my boys woke up and I heard them in the room. “Good morning, Dr. Whitehead, “the White House is calling you.” And “Good morning Dr.
Whitehead, Amtrak wants you.” And I said, this is amazing, I went in the room and said, okay, I know why Amtrak is calling, I get that, but why is the White House calling? And my oldest son said, Mommy, the world’s just fallen apart, they need me. Well, then the White House
is calling your name. You need to continue. So I begin to document their curiosity and whenever they would
forget who they are, whenever they would fall off the path, I would slip them another letter. I’m like, this MeSearch
is taking over my life. I also had this period of discovery, where they taught me things about myself. One of my favorite stories
is from my youngest son, when he was four years old. He was upstairs in his room playing, and I heard him. At some point, he sneezed out loud, and he yelled out, “God bless you, Amir!” And so I brought him
downstairs and I said, “Amir, you know, you’re by yourself. “When you sneezed, why did
you say God bless you Amir?” And he said, “Mommy, sometimes
when you’re by yourself, “you gotta bless yourself.” I’m like, you do. Sometimes, when you’re by yourself, you gotta bless yourself. And so this discovery
process for me is finding out about myself through them. So every time I struggled
with my research, the work I do at my university, every time I struggle when
I’m talking about 19th century black women, and every time I stumble
with the writer’s block, I pick up one of those
letters I wrote to them, to remind myself that even
if nothing else sticks, I have something living in front of me, words that will continue beyond me that I’m pouring into my boys. There’s also this moment of documentation because they picked up the
writing process as well. I’ve taught them how to
write and record everything about their lives. I often joke and say
that in some households you have a college fund, in my household we have a therapy fund, because one day they’re gonna say, Mama, you wrote everything about us, we need to see someone and figure out what was so
important about our lives that you could not stop writing. And why is it that you often say, “Nothing stops bad behavior
faster than a pencil.” Because I know if you start acting up, I’m gonna write it down, and a year from now we’re
gonna talk about it. That’s how I give my
lectures for bad behavior, but watching them birth
their own activism. I saw that a lot during
this whole protest movement with Freddy Gray and they documented every
day up on their wall what was happening. And when I marched with
them for ten days straight, coming home, and all of us
pulling out our journals and writing about what happened and then we would share those notes, like I do with my colleagues to see whose version of the
story is the right version and when did these things happen to us. So this discovery and documentation is also birthing the
writing genius in them. And then finally, this
notion of interpretation, trying to make sense of it all. Why is it that people don’t understand that MeSearch is just as significant, just as important, and I
would argue in some ways, more monumental, more life-changing than simple research. Because the words that
I’m pouring into my sons, that eventually got
poured out into a book, are able to touch people beyond me. It’s amazing because
people do and have read my book about this 19th century
black woman, Emily Davis. And they’ve enjoyed it. But when people read
Letters to my Black Sons, and they see my love for my
sons poured out onto the page, it is a different experience. It’s a different way of connecting. It’s a way of taking the
research off of the page and putting it into your lives. So the ongoing MeSearch with me is continuing with the letters. It’s publishing the book
Letters to my Black Sons, Raising Boys in a Post Racial America, going with my boys, we went through the 30 journals and picked out the best ones. We then did RaceBrave. My sons asked me if I could
write poetry every day about what was happening in Baltimore. That became my third book, RaceBrave, new and selected works. All about the poetry that we created throughout the protest time, and then writing letters again and reminding them every
step of the way that you might forget who you are, you might forget your voice, if you ever have that moment, I know that you will, call me. Because we can get the journal from whatever year you’re talking about. We can pick it up and we
can find how you overcame every single obstacle and we can help you find
your way back to yourself. Thank you so much. (applause) – Wow. So I now understand that one
of my most important jobs is getting the introductions done quickly so that you can, you know, go on to these amazing speakers. Our next speaker’s Dr. Govind Rao, he’s a professor of chemical, biochemical, and environmental engineering here at UMBC and he’s been
a faculty member since 1987. He was actually one of the
founding faculty members of the department and he founded the Center for Advanced Sensor Technology in 2006 and has been serving
as its director ever since. Dr. Rao’s research is targeted towards disruptive innovation. He’s all about disruptive innovation. The sensors developed by
Dr. Rao and his colleagues in CAST have led to paradigm shift is bioprocess technologies. They enable (mumbles) processing. Recently, the Rao lab has
also developed a noninvasive sensor technology for neonatal monitoring. The current focus of their work is developing next-generation manufacturing technology that’s aimed at producing
protein-based therapeutics at the point of care. Think therapeutics on demand. The major effort at CAST
and something that I know is near and dear to Dr. Rao’s heart is the application of sensor
technology to reduce healthcare costs and to close disparity gaps by making innovative, low-cost devices for use in low-resource settings. And Dr. Rao and his colleagues
have a number of patents, many of which have been licensed. He’s won many, many national awards, too many for me to list today, and when you hear this next talk, you’ll understand why. (applause) – Thank you. Thank you very much. It’s great to be here and it’s a real privilege to stand here and talk about what I’ve been doing at UMBC for about 29 years. I chose this rather presumptuous title so I could spell GRIT. (laughter) and I wanna dedicate this
talk to Michael Hooker, who was the president when I came to UMBC and this is a historical picture. That’s me, that’s Michael Hooker, and this is Michael
Hooker’s other gift to UMBC, Freeman Hrabowski. (laughter) And so that pretty much
rewrote our history. I’d like to start with this. This is a question I
usually ask my students, and most people say
it’s a map of the world but aren’t quite able to
identify what it represents. This represents the
number of people who live on less than a dollar a day. And if you think about that, at that point, it’s just survival that you’re thinking about, forget healthcare, and it’s easy to look at a map and lose the emotional connection, so I’ve taken some photographs
that Renée Byer took of the actual people and their stories. This is a Guatemalan washer woman, who makes a living by doing laundry. She herself is handicapped, but looks after her children. This is a little girl in Zimbabwe, who gathers electronic
waste to recycle the copper from printed circuit boards and the reason you see tears
trickling down her cheeks is because she suffers from malaria, so she’s always in constant pain. These are two surviving children from a migrant camp in India. Their younger siblings
died of malnutrition. So clearly, there’s an
enormous amount to be done to alleviate the suffering at this level and the other alarming statistic that I learned later,
about five years ago, is that there’s a terrible
problem of infant mortality in these low-resource settings. This is a busy slide. Go back with one thing
that you can remember. Every ten seconds, a baby dies. That’s bad enough, but what’s more tragic is that it’s preventable. And the leading cause is pre-term births, when a premature baby is born, they’re just too small, they’re not able to keep themselves warm. And so they basically freeze to death. And this is again, something
that’s a real tragedy that’s easy enough to prevent by means of pretty much coming up with a replica of what Mom provides. Mom is always ready to
heat, cool, feed the baby, and this is what sparked an idea in terms of creating a low-cost incubator that, like Mom, would
work 24/7 off the grid and have both heating and cooling capacity and I’m really fortunate
in that I have access to free workforce of
extremely talented engineers. So I set these out as class projects and students come up
with different designs. We took it one step further and I was able to get seed
funding for these designs and part of that involved
coming up with these designs and a prototype, so the
students built many prototypes, and one of which they
settled on ultimately was made of cardboard. But we didn’t want to
do something top-down so part of the funds were
used to take a field trip to India and look at the rural
healthcare scenario there. And what was amazing, this whole incubator project
has become a love story. People just drop what they’re doing, they want to be involved and want to help. These are extremely distinguished
busy people in India, one is a president of a
university with 150,000 people. This other person is the equivalent of a Congressional Medal of Honor winner, who serves free clinics
for nine million people. So they took us on a trip
and this is what happens when a baby is born. The way they keep the baby
warm is with a table lamp and so we can certainly do better, so what we did was showed
our cardboard design to a group of nurses and midwives and got their feedback
to refine the design. And this was also groundbreaking because they said, “No
one’s ever asked us before.” Most of the solutions come top-down, so working from the bottom up, we came up and then we had to partner with the commercial manufacturer. Many things in academia fail because there’s no mechanism to take it to the ultimate customer. You need innovation, you need the business
community to work with you and we were very fortunate
that India’s largest neonatal equipment
manufacturer readily agreed to partner with us and part of the reason was
because nobody’s making any money on this. It’s really a labor of love. We had a patent that UMBC returned to me and I let it expire. So now everything is in the public domain. The need for these
incubators in India alone is about 300,000 a year. This entire company’s
manufacturing capacity is 2,000 a year. So given the gap, they
were happy to help us to come up with a low-cost solution. This is something that I got last week. It is the prototype that’s under test and interestingly enough, it has the UMBC logo on it, and the first production
run was of 50 units. How cool is that? To celebrate our 50th anniversary. So, this is going, in a couple of weeks, into clinical trials, and it’s
a very bittersweet moment. I think this will impact
millions of people but I’m nervous because
we’re asking mothers to trust us with their
most precious possession, their infant, to make sure
that these incubators are safe. So if you wanna help, send a prayer. That would really be
something that we could use. Okay, this is about the developing world and low-resource environment. Incidentally, what’s
interesting is it comes back full circle. Someone told me after Hurricane Sandy, we could have used these in New York when the power went out. So who knows? Someday what you do
outside comes back to you. Let’s switch gears to
what’s going on here. We are in deep trouble. You’re probably seeing all the headlines about even Obamacare running into trouble because we’re running out of money. And if you look at the projections, there’s really very
little discretionary money going to be left and
everything’s going to be going into healthcare and against this, now, we’re talked about people
who live on a dollar a day or under. Now, these are United States
government statistics, if you make more than 50 bucks a day, you’re considered high-income. That, for a family of four, is about 80,000 a year. And think about it. So that’s about enough to make you sure that you’ll get dinner tonight, you’ll just have to
choose Mexican, Italian, or whatever, but that’s about it. God forbid you run into a situation where you need treatment for cancer. Turns out, cancer’s about
to eclipse heart disease as the number one killer in America and the treatments are
incredibly expensive. So if you have insurance,
you might get someone to cover it and even then, the deductibles are going up. But look at this number. About $10,000 a month is what you need. And part of the reason
for these exploding costs is the cost of manufacturing
these medications. And what we’re doing in our other project is to replace a traditional
large pharmaceutical plant that would be about the
size of this building, cost a billion dollars, and it essentially looks
like a supersized brewery, with fermentation tanks that are producing medicines
that cells produce. And we’re trying to replace that with a briefcase-sized device that will produce your
medicines at the point of care. So if you’re a diabetic, someday, you’ll be able to make your own insulin at your own home. And this is just proof that
we’ve actually achieved this target. This is funded by DARPA, they’re the people who
have created the GPS and the internet. They give you these impossible challenges and it is just an absolute joy to report that we’re ahead of schedule and we’ve done the first demonstration of a platform. The brains behind the
operation is Dr. Jeffrey Ling, who came up with this concept, and we were very
privileged that the person who pushed the button was
Lieutenant Colonel Robert Mabry. He’s the medic who was the real-life hero from Black Hawk Down. So the whole lab was
taking selfies with him. And this is just a video that shows you, it’s sped up of 20 minutes
compressed into 20 seconds. This is the protein as
it’s being manufactured and purified on a column and when it comes out, someday, you’ll be able to
inject that into a patient, right by the bedside. So this is a remarkable project and it’s a privilege to be part of this, but what really made all this possible is this diversity that
I discovered at UMBC. That’s me in about 1992,
and that’s the lab. Steve Alton was a plant physiology PhD. Jeff Sipior was a chemistry PhD. Shabbir Bambot was a
chemical engineer PhD, all sharing the same office. That was one thing, but the other part of the equation. Steve was a devout Jew, Shabbir was a devout Shiite Muslim. So he had a prayer rug
rolled under the lab bench, and Jeff was a spitting image, he had long, flowing
hair, looked like Jesus, the image you see, but he’s atheist, so God has a sense of humor. (laughter) and so it was just an incredible
mix of people and ideas and it’s so very
different from the America that we see in the papers today. So I hope things don’t slide backwards. This is where we need to be. And the lab now has grown quite a bit, thanks to DARPA, with the same diversity, people from multiple countries, Iran, Iraq, Philippines,
China, India, Cameroon, you name it. So I’m hoping that we continue
to make positive change for the rest of the world
and harness the ingenuity of all these people and really make transformational change possible. Thank you very much. (applause) – Thanks, Govind. Our next speaker is Dr. Thomas Schaller, who’s a professor and chair of the Political Science
Department here at UMBC. He’s now in his 19th year here and teaches courses in
American Government, including the American Presidency, interest groups and lobbying, and campaigns and elections. He’s the author of a number of books and a former political
columnist for the Baltimore Sun. He’s published commentaries
in some little-known venues, the Washington Post, the New York Times, Los Angeles Times, the Boston Globe, just to name a few, and has appeared on
some little-known shows, ABC news, the Colbert Report, NPR, All Things Considered, and Talk of the Nation on PBS. And Talk of the Nation,
PBS, the Travis Smiley Show. Since 2004, Dr. Schaller’s given lectures on American politics and elections in more than 20 countries on behalf of the U.S. State Department. I think you’re in for
a treat with this one. (applause) – Thanks, Lisa. Good afternoon everybody. – [Audience] Good afternoon. – I have the challenging task
of following Kay and Govind and that’s quite a task, give how impressive they are. I’m gonna try to talk today about how you make a citizen, which is something we don’t
really often think about, but I have to, to a certain degree, as part of my job. So my talk today is about Civic Lessons: Teaching Politics in an Era of Civics Decline. Now, I have three college degrees. I’m the first person on
either side of my family to complete even a bachelor’s degree and I have a PhD in political science and you heard all that
other stuff about me. But that frankly makes
me no more qualified than probably most of you in the room to build a bridge or fix a cavity, do your taxes or become
the most successful basketball coach, male or female in division one college
basketball history, and yet, you wouldn’t ask a non-expert to do any of those things, but we asked non-experts every day, certainly every four
years, every two years, to have input into our government. We’re about to have a
presidential election. Every four years, we say it’s
the most important election in our lifetimes. That’s probably not true, although this is a pretty
important one, I would argue. We’d be foolish to have
non-experts do tasks that require expertise and yet the curse or blessing, depending on how you want to look it, of a democracy, is that
every single citizen, regardless of how familiar
they are with politics and policy, whether
they have been a citizen for just a month and
recently moved to the country and recently gained their citizenship or recently turned 18 or they’ve been voting
in presidential elections and have run for president. All have a singular
opportunity and obligation to participate in our government
and select our leadership. So how do we get our
student citizens, right? The vast majority of whom
are, like really most of us, to a certain degree, non-experts, but are qualified by birthright, how do we get them to take
this responsibility seriously? Now let’s back up and talk about what
those students are like when they arrive in my Poli-100 class. Poli-100 is Introduction
of American Government. It’s required of all majors, but I have students from
all different departments and different programs and majors because it’s a social science requirement, so I have engineers and
art history students and theater and dance
and you name it, right. According to the Annenburg
Public Policy Center in a 2014 poll, only about a third of
Americans can tell you the three branches of government, about a third can name all three, and a third can name one or two. Only about one in four Americans know that it takes a two-thirds vote to override a presidential veto. Only one in five Americans, one in five Americans incorrectly think that a five-four Supreme Court decision can be overturned by Congress and reconsidered by the courts. So we’re flunking high school civics and in fact, a recent study in 2010, which they do a panel
study of fourth graders and then eighth graders and twelve graders every four years, shows that we’re seeing some progress but we have kind of a
middling civics education and persistent socioeconomic
and racial disparities in terms of that performance. Look carefully here at the scale, you can see the top 120 points and the bottom 110 or 120
points are cut off this graph, so it looks like it’s a high score, but it’s really in the middle range, and you can see significant difference in civics knowledge
between white students, eighth, twelve, and fourth
grade taken across time and black students as well as out race gap between
white and Hispanic students. Not much of a difference on gender. Young girls are actually
eclipsing young boys now, but you can see on the right, and this is also sort
of an overlap or a proxy for the previous slide since there are significant socioeconomic
differences between white Americans and non-white Americans. You can see that those who are eligible for free lunch or a subsidized lunch have less civics information than essentially more affluent students. So our students arrive, and these are, in some cases, more affluent and better
educated students. I don’t even want to
think about the students who don’t get into UMBC
and don’t ever end up or take a Poli-100 class, even among these students, we have a big civics gap here. Meanwhile, of course, I don’t think I have to explain this, if you turn your TV on or your radio on for about two minutes, right now, we have a very polarized country. And I could show you 20
different graphs that indicate that, and that’s true on both a
mass level among voters, and it’s true among elites. I could show you charts
that show the polarization of voting in the Senate
and voting in the House. We even have an almost
record number of unified state legislatures ’cause the red states are becoming redder and the blue states are becoming bluer. Here’s just one measure, partisan polarization and the approval rating of presidents. You can see that republicans
with the red line approve of republicans presidents more and democrats approve of them less, but the key thing to look at this as you look from left to right is look at how big the
beige area’s getting. The two most polarizing
presidents in American history are Barack Obama and George W. Bush, which means you either think
they’re the most polarizing in terms of their politics, even though Bush ran as a uniter, not a divider, and Obama ran as no black
America, no white America, no red America, no blue America, only the United States of America. Either they’re the most
polarizing presidents in American history, which I don’t think is true, or the country is basically more polarized than it’s ever been, which I do think is true. In fact, when you look at who votes and who gives to campaigns, people, we don’t even
trust each other anymore. If you ask democrats if they
have a mostly unfavorable view of republicans, they turn out at about 46%, but if they have a very unfavorable view, they turn out at 58%, 12 points more. Same for republicans. Those with a very unfavorable view of the other side turn out at
18 percentage points higher. So we have a very polarized country and we have a civics
deficit for young people and frankly for people over 18 and non-college freshmen as well. And of course we have a very
diverse country right now. 56.4%, that is the share
of our freshman class that’s non-white. So we have people coming from
all different backgrounds, all different experiences, race, gender, obviously, religious backgrounds,
political identities. So, how do you reach this
group of civics-challenged, that’s a polite way to put it, freshmen, some of whom aren’t really in your class because they’re planning on becoming a political science major, but they really have
aspirations of becoming an electrical engineer. How do we encourage this
civics-challenged group? My answer is sort of take the ideological and partisan politics out of it. They’re gonna figure all that stuff out for themselves anyway. I try to just do two things in Poli-100. And I was raised a Catholic family with a German-American father and an Italian-American mother, who was the under secretary of guilt in the Carter administration, so I know a little
something about using guilt to try to compel people to do things. And the first thing I tell these students is you’re lucky to be in that chair. There’s a fixed number of chairs, either here or throughout the system, not everybody gets a seat, right, and this education, even
if you’re working hard, even if you paid full-freight, many of them of course have scholarships based on need and other sorts of talents. Even if you paid full-freight,
you or your parents, you’re still getting a
subsidized degree, right. The USM budget is about
10% of the state budget and UMBC’s is 10% of that, so a penny, one percent of every dollar that Maryland tax payers
spend goes right here to UMBC. And your degree, yes, it’s gotten more expensive than when I was an undergraduate and tuition was $750 for a
full 12 courses or higher full time load in the SUNY
system where I went to school. And the payout is there, too. The difference in lifetime earnings between a person with a bachelor’s degree and a person with a high school degree is just shy of a million dollars. And if you think about the compound value of investing that, right, you don’t just get it all at the end when you retire, you’re earning that across time, that’s the different
between being a homeowner and a homerenter. That’s the difference
between being able to put something away for
your retirement and not. So I tell students, despite
the quality of the education you’re getting in this class right now, you’re getting a million-dollar degree. And you are. The second way, I can’t prove this
because I haven’t surveyed all the faculty. I think I’m the only
faculty that actually shows his tax returns on a PDF on the screen, and I do. And with the exception of
my social security number, I show them the numbers. I tell them they have to
be invested in the system because the political economy, the decisions that your government makes, we talk mostly about national
politics in Washington, but Annapolis, or whatever your respective state legislate, they affect your life. They affect your life greatly. So I show them, for example, where I can take money pre-tax, up to, I think the current federal limit is $16 or $17,000 and put it into my 403B savings and invest those taxes instead
of paying taxes on it now and take it as cash. I show them how the
home mortgage deduction, I can deduct my taxes in
the city of DC where I live, and I deduct the interest on my mortgage and how much that saves me, how much the government is subsidizing my condominium in Washington DC. And then we talk about those things. We talk about how the
number one and number two tax preferences, the things
that the government spends the most on, in tax deductions, are the employer credit, to subsidize healthcare, that’s about $260 billion a year, okay, and the home mortgage deduction which is about another 90 billion, a third of a trillion dollars every year, the government spends, for people who by definition own a home and have a job. And then we take a look at, well how much is it spending on people who don’t have a job or don’t have a home or maybe have neither? So they’re gonna be politically
invested in the system, the decisions that they make
are gonna affect their lives and I try to get them from their wallets, from their pocket books to think about maybe you own something back to the state and maybe you better be paying attention to what the state does because it’s gonna affect you and your family and your livelihoods for the rest of your life. Thank you. (applause) (mumbles) One more thanks to Kay
and to Govind and to Tom for their presentations. Please. Okay. (applause) That ends our GRIT-X
program for this year. The house of GRIT awaits
you across the hall. Our speakers will come out, either through that exit sign here, through that door, or on the top, you have a change to catch
up with them one on one, but again, you know, we
went from outer space to inner space, we went from MeSearch
to Homeland Security, we went from putting humpty
dumpty back together again to so many other topics. I hope you had a chance to go to more than just the one
session that you’re in but we hope also to be able to show you the really broad variety
that makes up research and scholarship and creative achievement here at UMBC. Welcome back to campus for all our alumni and thanks for all the community members of UMBC for being here. Enjoy the rest of the day and come back tomorrow for another day of our 50th anniversary. Thanks very much. (applause)

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