Alums in the News: Kinde, Banerjee

Happy Tuesday, everyone! Let’s see which of our alums have made the news this week.

benyamBenyam Kinde ’10, M18, biological sciences, was recently featured in a homepage profile on Harvard Medical School’s news site. Kinde, an M.D./PH.D. candidate at Harvard, is perhaps best known for his research on the MECP2 protein, which has a role in the neurodevelopmental disorder Rett syndrome. The profile discusses his parents’ influence on him and his brother, Isaac Kinde ’05, M13, biological sciences, his research career, and how he hopes to mentor young scientists in his father’s homeland of Ethiopia.

poulomiPoulomi Banerjee ’16, health administration and policy, was featured in a Baltimore Sun story about adjusting math requirements for liberal arts students. Banerjee, who took statistics over calculus at UMBC to fulfill her graduation requirements, said the former discipline has proven to be helpful in her current line of work as a program assistant for the Division of Student Affairs: “I think it’s great that they’re allowing that option for students. I couldn’t imagine not having that option.” Current student body president Bentley Corbett-Wilson ’17, music, was also interviewed for the article.

Head to to send us your updates!

Around the Horn: Photos from the Alumni Awards, The Golden Ball, and Grit & Greekness

While September 19 may have come and gone, our 50th anniversary celebration is far from over, and we’ve had a busy couple of weeks to prove it! Here’s a brief recap of our most recent 50th events.

2016 Alumni Awards

On Thursday, October 6, we celebrated the achievements and contributions of a stellar group of alumni (who you can read about here) at the Earl and Darielle Linehan Concert Hall. UMBC News has the full recap, but you can see a few  of our favorite photos from the event below.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

The Golden Ball

The Visual Arts department held their 50th anniversary celebration on Saturday, October 15, beginning as an exhibition and open house during the day and carrying on into the evening as an elaborate costume party. From vintage tintypes and an anamorphic chalk drawing of True Grit to some truly wild Bauhaus-era getups, The Golden Ball was a feast for the eyes all around. Tim Nohe, professor of visual arts, provided us with some snapshots of the day’s events, with help from Charles Myers.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

Grit & Greekness Alumni Celebration

Elsewhere on Saturday, generations of Greek life alumni gathered at the Institute for Marine and Environmental Technology (IMET) to celebrate the past 50 years and look ahead into the future. “It was incredible getting to reconnect with sisters[,] meet sisters from the past, and talk about how things changed or stayed the same!” said Poulomi Banerjee ’16, health administration and policy, a Phi Sigma Sigma alumna who also spoke at the event.

The evening featured a special musical performance by Rob Manfredi ’88, computer science, and Tim Marsh, and culminated in a step show by the brothers of Phi Beta Sigma and the sisters of Delta Sigma Theta. “The energy was infectious and it seems like everyone had a wonderful time,” said Stanyell Odom, UMBC’s director of alumni relations.

She continued: “For many, it was their first time attending an alumni event and we hope that each and every alum remembers that UMBC will always be their home and that there are many ways to stay connected with a place that holds such a special place in their hearts.”

Check out a slideshow from the evening below. (All photos by Marlayna Demond ’11.)

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

Head to the alumni website to update your contact info and get up to date on all our alumni gatherings!

Alums in the News: The Brothers Dzirasa

Happy fall, and happy return of the Alums in the News feature! Here’s a brief update on the goings-on in a very accomplished UMBC family…

Kafui Dzirasa ’01, right, on a panel with President Barack Obama and Atul Gawande at the White House Frontiers Conference. Photo by Tracy Certo.

Kafui Dzirasa ’01, M8, chemical engineering, spoke alongside President Barack Obama on the Presidential Panel on Brain Science and Medical Information at the White House Frontiers Conference in Pittsburgh last week. Dr. Dzirasa, now a researcher and professor at the Duke University School of Medicine, received a Presidential Early Career Award for Scientists and Engineers earlier this year for his work with neural pacemakers. You can watch the stream of the event here.


Delali Dzirasa ’04, third from left, takes a selfie with his Fearless Solutions team on stage at the awards ceremony. Photo by Stephen Babcock.

Delali Dzirasa ’04, computer engineering, and his software company, Fearless Solutions, took home the Design/Dev Firm of the Year award at this year’s Baltimore Innovation Week. Fearless, formerly housed at bwtech@UMBC, was recognized for their work on a federal program that helps small businesses in Historically Underutilized Business (HUB) zones.

Any professional or personal accomplishments you’d like to share with us? Head to Retriever Stories today.


50th Anniversary Weekend 2.0: Visual Arts Golden Ball and Grit & Greekness Alumni Celebration

Miss our 50th Anniversary Celebration Weekend back in September? Never fear, because tomorrow, Saturday, October 15, we’ve got not one, but two chances to celebrate our 50th year in style!


On-campus from 11 a.m. to 9:30 p.m., check out the Visual Arts department’s Golden Ball, a day-long exhibition culminating in a lavish, Weimar Bauhaus-style costume party. Come in costume and enjoy a cash bar, free snacks, and the company of your fellow Visual Arts alumni. Admission is free, but do let us know if you’ll be attending here.


Meanwhile, at the Columbus Center in downtown Baltimore, our Grit & Greekness Alumni Celebration kicks off at 8 p.m. Reconnect with your brothers and sisters, and hear special remarks from Dr. Hrabowski and generations of Greek Life alumni, as we honor the legacy of UMBC’s fraternities and sororities. With an open bar, heavy hors d’oeuvres, and plenty of dancing, it’s bound to be a singular event. Register here!

Be sure to share the memories you make at these events on Retriever Stories, or by using the #UMBC50 hashtag on Facebook or Twitter. We can’t wait to celebrate with you again!

Check out the rest of our calendar, update your contact information, and find out how you can get involved with our alumni community here.

Alumni Awards 2016: Dr. Kimberly Moffitt, College of Arts, Humanities, and Social Sciences

The 2016 Alumni Awards Ceremony is just hours away, and for our last profile, we’d like to introduce you to this year’s Outstanding Faculty Award recipient. Dr. Kimberly Moffitt is an associate professor in the Department of American Studies and the Language, Literacy, and Culture Ph.D. Program here at UMBC, but as we’ll see below, those are just two of the many ways she’s contributed to both our campus and the city of Baltimore.

k-moffit_headshotAs a professor of American studies, Dr. Kimberly Moffitt’s academic interests encompass several aspects of the American experience, from representations of marginalized populations to Black hair and body politics, typically viewed through the lens of the media and popular culture. She also heads the University Faculty Senate, and has recently joined the faculty of Language, Literacy, and Culture Ph.D. program, which she says both helps her to stay engaged in the research process and to cultivate the next generation of academics. Her current projects include an exploration of the ways diverse children are portrayed in Disney media, as well as an edited volume on the TV series Scandal. Dr. Moffitt is also an active and vocal presence in local Baltimore media, frequently appearing on WYPR and WEAA-FM’s The Marc Steiner Show, and contributing op-eds to the Baltimore Sun. In addition, she is the founding parent and board member of the Baltimore Collegiate School for Boys Public Charter School.

When asked what she admires about her students, Dr. Moffitt can sum it up in one word: “GRIT!” She appreciates the chance to work with strongly gifted students who work to balance academics with their other responsibilities, but who also “recognize the need for support along the way.” She fondly remembers the last day of her first Seminar on Black Hair and Body Politics in the fall of 2010, when students decided to stick around her office after dropping off their final papers. They discussed current events, class topics, plans for the holidays. “I felt like the mother hen for the first time in my academic career,” she says, “surrounded by 20+ students…not yet wanting to leave the ‘nest’ of the classroom and our shared experience, and me not ready to let them fly free, relinquishing that special moment.”

Join us for the Alumni Awards Ceremony TONIGHT at the Earl and Darielle Linehan Concert Hall.

Alumni Awards 2016: Joseph Jones, Jr. ’06, Social Work

In the weeks leading up to the 2016 Alumni Awards Ceremony, we’ll be profiling each honoree in detail here on the blog. This year’s distinguished alum in the Social Work category is Joseph Jones, Jr. ’06, social work, founder and CEO of Baltimore’s Center for Urban Families.

j-jones_headshotThe Center for Urban Families (CFUF), the Mondawmin-based nonprofit founded by Joe Jones in 1999, seeks to provide services to Baltimore’s most marginalized citizens, ranging from job training and placement to responsible fatherhood initiatives. Jones says his time at UMBC was instrumental to building his organization, as it put him in touch with “an extended network of influential thought leaders and other stake holders” and taught him a whole new way to look at Baltimore’s potential as a city. In particular, he cites both Dr. Freeman Hrabowski’s inspiring leadership and Dr. James Bembry’s methods class as key influences on his career path. Thanks to what he learned here, he’s since re-engineered the organization to provide more than just job connections, but to help create career paths and work with several generations of the families they serve. In the midst of the 2008 financial crisis, Jones led CFUF through a successful $8 million capital campaign, something he considers to be the proudest achievement of his career.  In addition to his work with the Center, Jones has served as an advisor to the past three presidential administrations, most recently serving on President Barack Obama’s Task Force on Fatherhood and Healthy Families. He’s recieved an honorary doctorate from Morgan State University, as well as a Walter Sondheim Public Service Award.

Join us for the Alumni Awards Ceremony on Thursday, October 6, at the Earl and Darielle Linehan Concert Hall.

Alumni Awards 2016: Ruby Lu ’94, Economics

In the weeks leading up to the 2016 Alumni Awards Ceremony, we’ll be profiling each honoree in detail here on the blog. This year’s distinguished alumna in the Social and Behavioral Sciences category is Ruby Lu ’94, economics, co-founder of the venture capital firm DCM China.

r-lu_headshotRuby Lu is one of the earliest investors in her home country’s technology sector. Part of that pioneering spirit comes from the education she received at UMBC, and she cites several professors as influences throughout her undergraduate career, including her nominator, Dr. David Mitch. “Professor Mitch took a personal interest in my development throughout my years in UMBC,” she says. “Seeing how much he enjoyed books really inspired my love for them.” She also says that Dr. Freeman Hrabowski, then in the earliest days of his presidency, “was and is way ahead of his time in terms of investing our university in innovation…It is common wisdom now that Silicon Valley is successful. However, our president was leading us in that endeavor back in the early ’90s when I was a student.” After graduating, Lu pursued a master’s degree in international economics from the Johns Hopkins School of Advanced International Studies and in 2005, she co-founded the Beijing-based venture firm DCM China. Her investment in China’s e-commerce, software, and healthcare industries has helped to grow companies and create over 300,000 skilled jobs. She says her proudest achievements are “building a leading venture capital firm before venture capitalism became a thriving industry in China,” as well as being a part of that industry’s development. She is currently working to establish a cross-border tech fund to focus on artificial intelligence and applying data science to healthcare.

Join us for the Alumni Awards Ceremony on Thursday, October 6, at the Earl and Darielle Linehan Concert Hall.