Published April 19, 2021 in UMB SPOTLIGHT

MPower Day in Annapolis showcases University of Maryland Strategic Partnership initiatives for members of the legislature such as Del. Keith Haynes of Baltimore.
MPower Day in Annapolis showcases University of Maryland Strategic Partnership initiatives for members of the legislature such as Del. Keith Haynes of Baltimore.

The University of Maryland Strategic Partnership: MPowering the State (MPower) has fostered hundreds of collaborations that are growing Maryland’s innovation economy, advancing interdisciplinary research, creating opportunities for students, and addressing the state’s most critical issues while launching the combined research enterprise into the upper echelon of national rankings.

The partnership combines the extraordinary resources of the state’s largest public research engines — the University of Maryland, Baltimore (UMB) and the University of Maryland, College Park (UMCP) — to strengthen and serve the state of Maryland and its citizens. Created in 2012 and formalized by the University of Maryland Strategic Partnership Act of 2016, MPower exemplifies strength in collaboration. The partnership demonstrates what happens when you connect people, ideas, and a wealth of complementary strengths in education, research, and technology.

In January 2021, the University of Maryland achieved its highest ranking ever in the National Science Foundation’s Higher Education Research and Development (HERD) surveyplacing 14th overall nationally and eighth among all public universities in research and development spending for Fiscal Year 2019. For the first time, UMB and UMCP were linked together as one research enterprise in the ranking, with combined research expenditures of $1.1 billion.

The 2016 law paved the way for UMB and UMCP to combine research offices, aligning not only research initiatives, but also infrastructure and leadership under one vice president for research, Laurie E. Locascio, PhD, MSc, who was appointed to the position in 2018.

“Our University of Maryland research enterprise provides the opportunity for us to engage in exciting new areas of research that combine the strengths of experts in Baltimore and College Park to take on the world’s greatest challenges,” Locascio says. “This HERD ranking reflects our status as a thriving and powerful research engine.”

More than a number, the ranking reflects Maryland’s standing as a world-class research enterprise. In turn, it attracts talented scientists and scholars to the state and draws the attention of business and industry, stimulating new partnerships, investments, and companies.

UMB and UMCP conduct advanced research jointly in a broad array of fields, including:

  • Police-community relationships and expanding research and training
  • Neuroscience, virtual and augmented reality, biomedical devices, and data analytics
  • The opioid epidemic in Maryland and the United States

Recent cross-campus research initiatives also have responded to COVID-19 and the threat of future pandemics. The teams address the pandemic from multidisciplinary angles including medicine, engineering, pharmacy, and social and behavioral science, and they are working to improve acceptance of vaccines among minority communities, develop new rapid testing methods, and better understand the SARS-CoV-2 spike protein.

The strategic partnership has created more than 20 academic collaborations; a successful joint tech transfer and commercialization office; and 25 programs and centers including the Institute for Bioscience and Biotechnology Research, the Maryland Blended Reality Center, the Center for Brain Health and Human Performance, and the Support, Advocacy, Freedom and Empowerment (SAFE) Center for Human Trafficking Survivors.

Recent achievements are summarized in the 2021 MPower brochure.

For more information, visit mpower.maryland.edu.

Adrianne Arthur

Adrianne Arthur is the executive director of the University of Maryland Strategic Partnership and assistant vice provost for MPower initiatives.