UMBC recognizes Marie desJardins for lasting commitment to inclusive computing education

UMBC recognizes Marie desJardins for lasting commitment to inclusive computing education

Marie desJardins, associate dean of the College of Engineering and Information Technology (COEIT) and professor of computer science and electrical engineering, will be leaving UMBC to take up a new position as founding dean of the College of Organizational, Computational, and Information Sciences at Simmons College in Boston.

“What I will remember most about my 17 years here is UMBC’s collaborative spirit. Because of the open environment and commitment to diversity, I’ve been able to work with colleagues across the university on a wide range of initiatives,” desJardins says.

During her tenure at UMBC, desJardins has applied her passion and expertise to implementing programs for students across all disciplines and majors, explains Keith J. Bowman, dean of the College of Engineering and Information Technology (COEIT). “She brought her passion and expertise to UMBC, and has changed the lives of faculty, students, and staff through her work,” Bowman says. “As COEIT’s founding associate dean, she has played a crucial role in establishing how the College operates, with a focus on supporting students at all levels. She has set an incredibly high bar in all areas of her work.”

One of desJardins’ many accomplishments was the development and launch of UMBC’s Grand Challenge Scholars Program, based on the National Academy of Engineering’s (NAE) Grand Challenges for Engineering. The program is open to students who are interested in working on interdisciplinary teams to address pressing challenges facing society. UMBC’s program is distinct because it is open to all majors, bringing together students studying everything from computing and mechanical engineering to the life sciences, social sciences, humanities, and the arts. The Grand Challenge Scholars Program is “a great match with so many things that UMBC and UMBC students are already doing: applied, project-based learning; service learning; entrepreneurial explorations; global involvement; and undergraduate research,” desJardins said of the program when it launched in 2016.

Marie desJardins during an experiential learning activity.

desJardins also reached students across the university through her work with the Honors Colleges, as an Honors Faculty Fellow. This role enabled her to teach a seminar called “Computation, Complexity, and Emergence,” where students from a range of majors shared their perspectives on interdisciplinary topics and learned how subjects they had not previously explored were relevant to their lives. desJardins also served as a chair of the Honors College Advisory Board during her tenure at UMBC.

Beyond her passion for expanding computer science education at UMBC, desJardins has also been steadfast in her work to increase access to computing education for K – 12 students. She has served as the lead principal investigator of CE21-Maryland, a series of projects implemented to increase opportunities for high school students to access computer science education. She was also instrumental in the creation of How Girls Code, an afterschool program and a summer camp at UMBC where girls in elementary and middle school develop computer science skills through engaging activities and learn about careers in the field.

In addition to her writing for academic and technical audiences, desJardins has written numerous articles for the public, including pieces for The Conversation and The Baltimore Sun about the need for computing education for students of all ages. She is particularly passionate about engaging girls and women in computer science.

In a recent op-ed in The Baltimore Sun, desJardins discussed the importance of computer science education in K – 12 schools, both to expand career opportunities for students of all backgrounds and identities and to make sure the world has a chance to benefit from a diverse talent pool in computing fields. “The need for computer science and computational thinking skills is becoming pervasive not just in the world of software engineers, but in fields as varied as science, design, marketing, and public policy,” she wrote.

Marie desJardins, standing at right, addresses high school teachers at the July 2015 CS Matters in Maryland pilot teacher workshop.

desJardins has also worked to support new faculty in her College, as they work to advance their careers, inviting assistant professors and lecturers in COEIT to participate in the Junior Faculty Initiative. The program introduces participants to university resources through units like the Faculty Development Center and Office of Student Disabilities Services. It also supports junior faculty through a series of workshops addressing topics such as time management, mentoring relationships, and conflict management, to acclimate faculty to UMBC.

Across the nation and the world, desJardins has been recognized as a leader in the field of artificial intelligence (AI). Earlier this year, she was named a fellow of the Association for the Advancement of Artificial Intelligence. In 2017, she was included on Forbes’ list of women advancing AI research. UC Berkeley, desJardins’ alma mater, also recently recognized her work to advance her field by presenting her with the Distinguished Alumni Award in Computer Science.

“UMBC has given me so many opportunities to learn, grow, and give back to the community around me, I will be forever grateful,” says desJardins. “No matter where I go from here, I will always consider myself to be part of the UMBC community.”

Adapted from a UMBC News story by Megan Hanks. All photos by Marlayna Demond ’11 for UMBC.

talk: SPARCLE: Practical Homomorphic Encryption, 12pm Fri 4/27

UMBC Cyber Defense Lab

SPARCLE: Practical Homomorphic Encryption

Russ Fink

Senior Scientist
Johns Hopkins University / Applied Physics Laboratory

12:00–1:00pm Friday, April 27, 2018, ITE 237, UMBC

In the newly coined Privacy Age, researchers are building systems with homomorphic algorithms that enable “never decrypt” operations on sensitive data in applications such as computational private information retrieval (cPIR). The trouble is, the leading algorithms incur significant computational and space challenges, relegating them mainly to large cloud computing platforms. We have invented a special-purpose, ring-homomorphic (aka, “fully homomorphic”) algorithm that, owing to some specializing assumptions, trades general-purpose cryptographic utility for linear performance in speed and space.

We will present the cryptosystem and discuss several current challenges. We will also throw in a fun, simple, tactile concept demonstration of PIR for those just generally curious about what all this is, hopefully demystifying how you can enable a server to search for something without knowing what it’s looking for, and without knowing what (if any) results it found.

Russ Fink (UMBC ’10) is a senior scientist at the Johns Hopkins University / Applied Physics Laboratory. His current research interests include private information retrieval, applied cryptography, and cyber security.

Host: Alan T. Sherman,

2018 UMBC Digital Entertainment Conference

2018 UMBC Digital Entertainment Conference

UMBC’s Game Developers Club will hold its 13th annual Digital Entertainment Conference from 11:00-5:00 on Saturday April 28 in the UMBC Commons. Come learn about the game industry from local game developing companies. High school students, college students, aspiring game developers, and game developers are all welcome.

  • Meet professionals in the game industry
  • Learn the latest in game art, code and technology
  • Network with local game developers

Lunch will be provided. You can park in any A, B, or C lot on UMBC Campus. The closest parking garage is the Commons Parking garage on Commons Drive inside the UMBC Hilltop Circle. If you have any questions, send email to

🗣 talk: Classifying Malware using Data Compression, 12-1 Fri 4/20, ITE229

The UMBC Cyber Defense Lab presents

Classifying Malware using Data Compression

Charles Nicholas, UMBC

12:00–1:00pm Friday, 20 April 2018, ITE 229

Comparing large binary objects can be tricky and expensive. We describe a method for comparing such strings, using ideas form data compression, that is both fast and effective. We present results from experiments applying this method, which we refer to as LZJD, to the areas of malware classification and digital forensics.

Charles Nicholas () earned his B.S. in Computer Science from the University of Michigan – Flint in 1979, and the M.S. and Ph.D. degrees in Computer Science from Ohio State University in 1982 and 1988, respectively. He joined the Computer Science Department at UMBC in 1988. His research interests include electronic document processing, intelligent information systems, and software engineering. In recent years he has focused on the problems of storing and retrieving information from large collections of documents. Intelligent software agents are an important aspect of this work. Host: Alan T. Sherman,

The UMBC Cyber Defense Lab meets biweekly Fridays. All meetings are open to the public.

🤖 talk: Where’s my Robot Butler? 1-2pm Friday 4/13, ITE 231

UMBC ACM Student Chapter Talk

Where’s my Robot Butler?
Robotics, NLP and Robots in Human Environments

Professor Cynthia Matuszek, UMBC

1:00-2:00pm Friday, 13 April 2018, ITE 231, UMBC

As robots become more powerful, capable, and autonomous, they are moving from controlled industrial settings to human-centric spaces such as medical environments, workplaces, and homes. As physical agents, they will soon be able help with entirely new categories of tasks that require intelligence. Before that can happen, though, robots must be able to interact gracefully with people and the noisy, unpredictable world they occupy, an undertaking that requires insight from multiple areas of AI. Useful robots will need to be flexible in dynamic environments with evolving tasks, meaning they must learn from and communicate effectively with people. In this talk, I will describe current research in our lab on combining natural language learning and robotics to build robots people can use in the home.

Dr. Cynthia Matuszek is an assistant professor of computer science and electrical engineering at the University of Maryland, Baltimore County. Her research occurs at in the intersection of robotics, natural language processing, and machine learning, and their application to human-robot interaction. She works on building robotic systems that non-specialists can instruct, control, and interact with intuitively and naturally. She has published on AI, robotics, machine learning, and human-robot interaction. Matuszek received her Ph.D. in computer science and engineering from the University of Washington.

🗣️ talk: Human Factors in Cyber Security, 12-1 Fri 4/13, ITE 229, UMBC

The UMBC Cyber Defense Lab presents

Human Factors in Cyber Security

Dr. Josiah Dykstra

Cyber Security Researcher, US Department of Defense

12:00–1:00pm Friday, 13 April 2018, ITE 229, UMBC

Humans play many roles in the effectiveness of cyber security. While users are often blamed for security compromises, human strengths and weaknesses also affect people who perform design, implementation, configuration, monitoring, analysis, and response. The fields of human computer interaction generally, and usable security specifically, have drawn attention and research to some aspects of human factors, but many opportunities remain for future work.

In this talk, I describe several of my research projects related to human factors in cyber security. The first was a study of how individual differences affect cyber security behavior, and active follow-on research to predict users who might become victimized. The second was a study of stress and fatigue in security operations centers, including a new survey instrument for collecting data in tactical environments. The third was a research prototype using augmented reality to assist humans in cyber security analysis, and an analysis of preliminary results.

Finally, I will present and invite discussion about a new idea for improving security by making it “disappear.” Despite decades of tools and techniques for secure development, and valiant work at adoption and usability, it is clear that many users cannot or will not avail themselves of appropriate cyber security options. It may be time to rethink the amount of interaction required for most users, and if hands-off, behind-the-scenes cyber defense should be the norm.

Josiah Dykstra serves as a Senior Executive Service government civilian and Subject Matter Expert for Computer Network Operations research in the Laboratory for Telecommunication Sciences within the Research Directorate of the National Security Agency. His research includes human augmentation, cyber risk assessment, and cyber effects. He is an active collaborator with academic, industry, and government researchers around the country. Dykstra earned the PhD degree in computer science at UMBC in 2013 studying under Alan T. Sherman. Dr. Dykstra is the author of the 2016 O’Reilly book, Essential Cybersecurity Science, Fellow of the American Academy of Forensic Sciences, and winner of the Presidential Early Career Award for Scientists and Engineers.

Host: Alan T. Sherman,

The UMBC Cyber Defense Lab meets biweekly Fridays. All meetings are open to the public.

🗣️ talk: Challenges and pitfalls in big data analysis, 3:30 Thr 4/12 ITE325

CHMPR Distinguished Lecture

Challenges and pitfalls in big data analysis

Yoav Benjamini, Tel Aviv University

3:30-5:00 Thursday, 12 April 2018, ITE 325b, UMBC

I shall warn about the pitfalls resulting from the false assurance that “we have all data at hand”, and discuss the challenges that are not commonly recognised such as the validity and replicability of the analysis results. Examples will be given from our work on the Health Informatics part of the European Human Brain Project, as well as from our studies in neuroscience and genomics.

Yoav Benjamini is the Nathan and Lily Silver Professor of Applied Statistics at the Department of statistics and operations research at Tel Aviv University. He holds B.Sc in physics and mathematics and M.Sc in mathematics from the Hebrew University (1976), and Ph.D in Statistics from Princeton University (1981). He is a member of the Sagol School of Neuroscience, and of the Edmond Safra Bioinformatics Center both at Tel Aviv University. He taught as a visiting professor at Wharton, UC Berkeley and Stanford and is currently visiting Columbia University. Prof. Benjamini is a co-developer of the widely used and cited False Discovery Rate concept and methodology. His current research topics are selective and simultaneous inference, replicability and reproducibility in science, model selection, and data mining. His applied research fields are Biostatistics, Bioinformatics, Animal Behavior and Brain Imaging, and as a member of the European Human Brain Project he is involved in health informatics research. Prof. Benjamini served as the president of the Israel Statistical Association, He received the Israel Prize for research in Statistics and Economics at 2012, and is an elected member of the Israel Academy of Sciences and Humanities.

🗣 talk: Mixed Membership Word Embeddings for Computational Social Science, 12pm Thr 4/5

ACM ​Faculty Talk

Mixed Membership Word Embeddings for Computational Social Science

​Dr. James Foulds, Information Systems, UMBC

12:00-1:00pm ​Thursday​,​ 5 ​April​ 2018, ITE​459,​ UMBC

Word embeddings improve the performance of natural language processing (NLP) systems by revealing the hidden structural relationships between words. Despite their success in many applications, word embeddings have seen very little use in computational social science NLP tasks, presumably due to their reliance on big data, and to a lack of interpretability. I propose a probabilistic model-based word embedding method which can recover interpretable embeddings, without big data. The key insight is to leverage mixed membership modeling, in which global representations are shared, but individual entities (i.e., dictionary words) are free to use these representations to uniquely differing degrees. I show how to train the model using a combination of state-of-the-art training techniques for word embeddings and topic models. The experimental results show an improvement in predictive language modeling of up to 63% in MRR over the skip-gram, and demonstrate that the representations are beneficial for supervised learning. I illustrate the interpretability of the models with computational social science case studies on State of the Union addresses and NIPS articles.

James (a.k.a. Jimmy) Foulds is an assistant professor in the Department of Information Systems at UMBC. His research interests are in both applied and foundational machine learning, focusing on probabilistic latent variable models and the inference algorithms to learn them from data. His work aims to promote the practice of latent variable modeling for multidisciplinary research in areas including computational social science and the digital humanities. He earned his Ph.D. in computer science at the University of California, Irvine, and was a postdoctoral scholar at the University of California, Santa Cruz, followed by the University of California, San Diego. His master’s and bachelor’s degrees were earned with first class honours at the University of Waikato, New Zealand, where he also contributed to the Weka data mining system.

IBM-UMBC Day, 9-3pm April 6

IBM-UMBC Day, 9am-3pm April 6, 2018

9:00am-3:00pm Friday, 6 April 2018
University of Maryland, Baltimore County
Performing Arts and Humanities Building
1000 Hilltop Circle | Baltimore, MD 21250

UMBC is pleased to host the first ever IBM-UMBC Day on Friday, April 6th.

IBM-UMBC Day will create connections and enhance collaboration between UMBC faculty, students, and guests with IBM researchers and thought leaders around topics impacting the future of computing.  Technical talks by IBM and UMBC researchers will include Artificial Intelligence/Watson, Blockchain, Quantum Computing, Internet of Things, Cybersecurity and more. Lunch will be provided, there will be technical demos from IBM and IBM Recruiters will also be present.

Registration no longer required   Please register for the event here.

For questions about the event, please contact Natalie Brianas, Associate Director of Corporate Relations at .

ATTENTION STUDENTS: You do not need to attend the entire day. Please RSVP and participate as you are available. The  IBM Information table will be open from 10:00am-1:00pm in PAHB 124. Career Coaching appointments can be reserved through the UMBC Career Center. We look forward to seeing you there!


*All technical talks will take place in the Concert Hall (PAHB 235).

9:00-9:30 Welcoming Remarks
Keith Bowman, Dean, College of Engineering & Information Technology (COEIT), UMBC
Dave McQueeney, IBM VP of Corporate Technology and Community and Global University Programs
Anupam Joshi, Chair and Professor, Computer Science & Electrical Engineering, UMBC
Yelena Yesha, Distinguished Professor, Computer Science & Electrical Engineering, UMBC
Andy Rindos, IBM Head, RTP Center for Advanced Studies (CAS)

9:30-10:00 Keynote Address: Law, Technology and Public Policy
Michelle Browdy, IBM Senior Vice President of Legal

10:00-10:45 Quantum Computing
Andrew Wack, IBM Q Platform Software Architect, Quantum
Milt Halem, Research Professor, Computer Science & Electrical Engineering, UMBC
Todd Pittman, Professor and Graduate Program Director, Physics, UMBC

10:45-11:25 Cybersecurity
Jeff Crume, IBM Distinguished Engineer, IT Security
Anupam Joshi, Chair and Professor, Computer Science & Electrical Engineering, UMBC

11:30-1:00 Lunch and Networking Break

  • Lunch for Faculty, Staff, and Guests (PAHB 102)
  • Lunch for Students (PAHB 229)
  • Student Research Posters (Lobbies & Atrium)
  • IBM Technical Demos (PAHB 105)
  • IBM Career Coaching & Resume Reviews (PAHB 123)

1:00-1:50 Watson and Cloud
Mac Devine, IBM Fellow and VP of IBM Watson and Cloud Platform
Yelena Yesha, Distinguished Professor, Computer Science & Electrical Engineering, UMBC
Tim Finin,
Professor, Computer Science & Electrical Engineering, UMBC

1:50-2:30 Internet of Things/Cyber-Physical Systems
Tim Hahn, IBM Distinguished Engineer, IoT
Nilanjan Banerjee, Associate Professor, Computer Science & Electrical Engineering, UMBC

2:30-2:55 Blockchain
Roman Vaculin, IBM Research, Blockchain

2:55-3:00 Closing Remarks
Keith Bowman, Dean, College of Engineering & Information Technology (COEIT), UMBC

*The final program will be available at the event.

talk: Cybersecurity as a Team Sport – Understanding Counsel’s Role, 6pm Wed 4/4

The UMBC at Shady Grove Cybersecurity Program Presents

Cybersecurity as a Team Sport – Understanding Counsel’s Role

Allison Bender J.D.

6:00-8:00pm Wednesday, 4 April 2018

The Universities at Shady Grove
Building III (Camille Kendall Academic Center) Room 4230
9636 Gudelsky Drive, Rockville, Maryland 20850

In this presentation by seasoned incident response counsel, Allison Bender, you will gain a risk-informed perspective on the role of counsel in cybersecurity governance and incident response. Also, learn strategies for more effective communication and cooperation with other cybersecurity stakeholders (e.g., IT, IT Security, HR, Communications, business leaders, senior executives and the board); and take away practical tips for prioritizing efforts that help tame the chaos of cybersecurity incident response while maintaining privilege as appropriate.

Allison Bender counsels Fortune 50 companies and startups in a range of industries on cybersecurity and privacy matters in the U.S. and internationally. Drawing from her roots in government, national security, and R&D, she helps clients navigate legal issues associated with emerging technologies and aids clients in strategically managing legal, financial, and reputational cybersecurity risks. Allison translates technical, operational, legal, and policy issues to create practical solutions for clients’ legal challenges. Her cybersecurity and national security preparedness counseling is informed by over 80 incident response efforts. When drafting corporate policies and considering product design options, Allison’s advice is seasoned in the management of breaches involving personal data, intellectual property, payment card information, export controlled technical data, and other regulated information. Her experience also extends to counseling on cybersecurity and national security due diligence in mergers and acquisitions, vendor management, and transactions. From DHS, Allison brings experience in incident response as well as cybersecurity policy, information sharing, liability, and incentives. She was the primary operational legal counsel for the federal response to the Heartbleed vulnerability, the USIS-KeyPoint data breach, and the data breach.

Hosts: Dr. Behnam Shariati () and the UMBC Graduate Cybersecurity Association at USG

The UMBC Graduate Cybersecurity Association at USG is an organization created and managed by UMBC Cybersecurity graduate students at Shady Grove. The mission of Cybersecurity Association is to promote the study of Cybersecurity and to raise Cybersecurity awareness and knowledge in the community through panel discussions, conferences, and Cyber competitions. Also, the Cybersecurity Association aspires to create a supportive and positive learning environment in which every member has the opportunity to network, learn, and grow.

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