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Six New MPower Professors Announced

Each Awarded $150K to Pursue Collaborative Research on Major Societal Challenges

By Maryland Today Staff

Testudo statue framed by red leaves

The MPower Professorship program leverages the combined research strengths of the University of Maryland, College Park and the University of Maryland, Baltimore to solve the grand challenges of our time.

Photo by Stephanie S. Cordle

The University of Maryland Strategic Partnership: MPowering the State on Friday announced the appointment of three professors from the University of Maryland, College Park (UMCP) and three from the University of Maryland, Baltimore (UMB) as MPower Professors. The professorship recognizes, incentivizes and fosters collaborations between faculty who are working together on the most pressing issues of our time.

To be considered for the MPower Professorship, faculty must take on strategic research that would be unattainable or difficult to achieve by UMB or UMCP alone, and must embrace MPower’s mission to serve the state of Maryland and its citizens. Each professor will receive $150,000, allocated over three years, to apply to their salary or to support supplemental research activities.

“The MPower Professors have shown incredible dedication and commitment to collaboration, innovation and discovery. Their work to solve major challenges and positively impact the lives of others is bolstered by this investment,” said UMB President Bruce E. Jarrell, M.D.

“The six professors selected for this honor are each working across disciplines to address the most complex challenges facing society today, bridging research and scholarship between institutions to foster innovation that will impact citizens in Maryland, across the country and around the world,” said UMCP President Darryll J. Pines.

The 2022 MPower Professors are using the latest advancements in computer science, machine learning and augmented reality to revolutionize medical care, linguistics and neuroscience; developing enhanced understanding and treatment for a range of infections and diseases; investigating cutting-edge approaches and new materials to regenerate human tissue; and examining the relationship between agriculture, energy and water to create a safer and sustainable global food supply.

The 2022 MPower Professors are:

John P. Fisher

John P. Fisher is the Fischell Family Distinguished Professor, Distinguished Scholar-Teacher and chair of the Fischell Department of Bioengineering in the A. James Clark School of Engineering. Fisher is also the director of the National Institute of Biomedical Imaging and Bioengineering/NIH Center for Engineering Complex Tissue that aims to create a broad community focusing on 3D printing and bioprinting for regenerative medicine applications. As director of the Tissue Engineering and Biomaterials Laboratory, Fisher’s group investigates biomaterials, stem cells, bioprinting and bioreactors for the regeneration of lost tissues, particularly orthopedic and soft tissues.

Mary Ann Jabra-Rizk

Mary Ann Jabra-Rizk is a professor in the Department of Oncology and Diagnostic Sciences at the University of Maryland School of Dentistry and an adjunct professor in the Department of Microbiology and Immunology at the University of Maryland School of Medicine. She has a broad background in investigating the virulence factors in the opportunistic fungal pathogen Candida albicans, and the host and pathogen factors that play a role in the transition between colonization and infection. Her lab has several ongoing projects pursuing different aspects of the Candida pathogenesis, including biofilm formation, drug resistance and fungal-bacterial interactions in biofilm.

Sarah B. Murthi

Sarah B. Murthi, M.D. is a professor of surgery in the University of Maryland School of Medicine, an attending physician at the R Adams Cowley Shock Trauma Center and director of the Critical Care Ultrasound Program. She also directs the new Center for Medical Innovations in Extended Reality, known as MIXR, located at UMB. The center is developing virtual reality, augmented reality and other immersive media technologies for use in clinical trials and, eventually, for widespread use in medical care. Murthi’s research includes implementing innovative extended reality medical displays that could improve bedside procedures. She helped develop and test an augmented reality prototype that overlays ultrasound, CT and video data directly on a patient.

Philip S. Resnik

Philip S. Resnik is a professor of linguistics in the UMCP College of Arts and Humanities and holds a joint appointment in the University of Maryland Institute for Advanced Computer Studies (UMIACS). He is also an affiliate professor in the Department of Computer Science in the College of Computer, Mathematical, and Natural Sciences. Resnik's research focuses on computational modeling of language that brings together linguistic knowledge, domain expertise, and machine learning methods. His current work emphasizes applications in computational social science and scientific research questions in computational cognitive neuroscience. Resnik holds two patents and has authored or co-authored more than 100 peer-reviewed articles and conference papers. In 2020, he was named a fellow of the Association for Computational Linguistics.

Amy R. Sapkota

Amy R. Sapkota is a professor of environmental health science in the Maryland Institute for Applied Environmental Health at the School of Public Health. She also serves as director of the CONSERVE Center of Excellence and of the UMD Global Stewards Research Traineeship program funded by the National Science Foundation. Sapkota's research focuses on ensuring the safety of agricultural and municipal water reuse and understanding the impact of environmental microbial exposures on the human microbiome. She has published over 90 journal articles and has secured or helped to secure more than $44 million in external funds.

David J. Weber

David J. Weber is a professor in the Department of Biochemistry and Molecular Biology at the University of Maryland School of Medicine, with a joint appointment as professor of chemistry and biochemistry in the College of Computer, Mathematical, and Natural Sciences. He is co-director of the Institute for Bioscience and Biotechnology Research, located at the Universities at Shady Grove, director of the Center for Biomolecular Therapeutics and director of the Maryland Center for Advanced Molecular Analysis. His research examines the structure, function and inhibition of potential therapeutic targets in cancer, diabetes, heart disease and infectious disease. He had a major role in developing highly collaborative and world-class structural biology resources that integrate basic and translational science.



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