Fall 2023

A collage with an illustration of a yellow butterfly with white flowers, and photographs featuring people studying, talking, and celebrating together. Blue, green, yellow, and red shapes decorate the collage.

Living in vivid color—Kate Feller, Ph.D., is pushing boundaries in biology research and teaching

The shower was full of mantis shrimp. Bubblers burbled and the cranky crustaceans skulked in their tanks, looking for things to punch with their famously fast strikes. Complicated electronics for measuring brain activity stood sentinel beside the bed in the next room. And out on the balcony, Kathryn Feller, Ph.D. ’14, biological sciences, was wearing a respirator and gloves, working with nasty chemicals.  In other words, it was another day of fieldwork as a behavioral neuroscientist—a career Feller has embraced after a journey of self-exploration that took her to surgical operating theaters, drama summer camps, and a range of research… Continue Reading Living in vivid color—Kate Feller, Ph.D., is pushing boundaries in biology research and teaching

Illustration by Rebecca Bradley, featuring colorful overlapping hands grabbing for wine glasses and mugs over a green picnic blanket.

Grab a Seat at the Table

These days, it’s tempting to grow numb to the polarization of society and the breakdown in public discourse and to retreat into our silos of solidarity. But a liberal arts education has the potential to offer an antidote to these seemingly inevitable fates—through modeling and practicing empathy. At UMBC, students are invited to the table to share their stories and listen to their peers. These acts of educational hospitality help Retrievers find their why and pursue the public good. It’s the first day of class. You’re looking around, bright-eyed and a little nervous, and then your instructor smiles at the… Continue Reading Grab a Seat at the Table

a woman in a black dress outfit stands outside

The long shot—4-time Olympian Cleopatra Borel ’02 inducted to Athletics Hall of Fame

Cleopatra Borel had no athletic aspirations when she arrived in Baltimore from Trinidad and Tobago in 1997. She enrolled at what was then Coppin State College on the advice of her high school math teacher, a Coppin alum. Powerfully built and an eager learner, Borel quickly developed in the throwing events and broke Coppin’s shot put record early in her tenure there. After the Eagles’ coach left the program, UMBC offered Borel an athletic scholarship and she made the move to Hilltop Circle. Borel ’02, interdisciplinary studies, flourished both academically and athletically at UMBC. She earned All-America honors (top eight)… Continue Reading The long shot—4-time Olympian Cleopatra Borel ’02 inducted to Athletics Hall of Fame

Fever dream, a band, practices in a lecture hall

Biology department members create an experiment of note—a band called Fever Dream

Before you let your imagination run wild, we’re going to go ahead and temper whatever expectations you may have upon hearing the phrase “biology band.” Nobody is banging on a centrifuge in lieu of drums. Test tubes aren’t lined up as a makeshift xylophone. The final rock flourish is not a shattering of beakers. In fact, when the band members of Fever Dream get together, they leave biology in the lab and concentrate on what matters—the music.  “We are incredibly lucky to be able to do important research on the topics that we are interested in while at the same… Continue Reading Biology department members create an experiment of note—a band called Fever Dream

on a rehearsal stage, one actor straddles another actor holding a wooden stake in her hand

How to plan a successful stage battle

Van Helsing straddles the vampire, brandishing her cross and wooden stake. The undead—mouth and shirt stained with blood—had just confessed to a brutal kill when the vampire slayer brings down her stake. A half second delayed, a comically small amount of blood spurts from the wooden prop. Van Helsing, played by Franchesca Parker ’25, acting, and the rest of the group in the theatre rehearsal space titter at the anticlimactic moment. Tessara Morgan Farley, production stage manager, and Sierra Young ’23, the fighting and intimacy director, immediately jump in to triage a better death for the vampire, Lucy (played by… Continue Reading How to plan a successful stage battle

a group of alumni award winners stand together on a stage

Alumni Awards 2023—Making impact through relationships

On the stage of the 35th annual Alumni Awards, awardees and their nominators repeated a shared theme: the freedom and flexibility to grow at UMBC—not alone—but in community. Presented by the Alumni Association Board of Directors, the event recognizes inspiring alumni in a range of fields, as well as a rising star and an outstanding faculty and staff member. Rehana Shafi, recipient of the inaugural staff award, emphasized that she was only able to do so much “with so many.” Shafi, director emerita of the Sherman Teacher Scholars Program, said: “This work, this way, isn’t an individual endeavor….Impact happens inside… Continue Reading Alumni Awards 2023—Making impact through relationships

a group of people in Minnie Mouse ears jumps in front of an exhibit that says Mirror, Mirror

Embarking on ‘Happily Ever After’ 

By Roni Rosenthal For those who grew up—or still are—spellbound by movies like Beauty and the Beast, Toy Story, and The Lion King, you are part of what some historians dub the “Disney Generation.” Your childhood joins forces with a collective nostalgia that weaves Disney’s enchanting tales into our very own identities. In a country with many competing cultural icons, Disney—for better or worse—remains a singular unifying brand for anyone who spent their childhood in the U.S. Smithsonian museum specialist and curator Bethanee Bemis ’09, history and anthropology, M.A. ’11, history, is an expert in weaving narratives with identity and… Continue Reading Embarking on ‘Happily Ever After’ 

a compilation of three headshots

Welcoming new campus leaders

Renique Kersh might not have been able to spend her first few days physically on campus, but the new vice president for student affairs wanted her students and colleagues to know they were on her mind. So, in late August, as she juggled dropping her sons off at school and navigating a move from Boston, Kersh sent along photos as a travel diary on social media so that the UMBC community could take this journey with her.  “To say it’s been a blur is an understatement, but as I shared with my team, I am all in,” said Kersh, previously… Continue Reading Welcoming new campus leaders

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