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The Blurred Line Between Borrowing and Copying in Pop Music

Wed, 04/15/2015 - 10:55am

In the late 1970s, urban radio stations played Marvin Gaye's "Got to Give It Up" so much that for many, the song captures the sound of soul at the time.

In the summer of 2013, the Robin Thicke and Pharrell Williams song "Blurred Lines" received even more radio play, driven in part because of the two risqué videos made to promote the song (one where the models wore clothes, and one where they did not).

The two songs sounded so similar that the Internet was abuzz with accusations that Williams and Thicke stole the earlier single, and rumblings began of a suit being brought by Gaye's family.

Williams' and Thicke's lawyers offered a pre-emptive, reportedly six-figure settlement, which was rejected by the Gaye family. Then, Thicke and Williams sued the Gaye estate seeking declaratory relief. That is, they sued the family asking them to relinquish the right to say that "Blurred Lines" infringed upon the Gaye recording. The family immediately countersued and in March won a $7.4 million verdict against Williams and Thicke, in a case that likely will shape popular music copyright law for decades to come.

At the heart of the case is an attempt to define just how much influence one song/recording can have on another.

Music copyright focuses on melody and lyrics, or existing recordings. Most popular music in the 20th century uses a relatively small palette of chord progressions and formal structures, so that when a songwriter composes, chances are that they are simply repeating patterns heard elsewhere. In effect, many modern popular songs sound exactly like. See, for example, the Axis of Awesome's "4 Chord Song":

Most rhythmic patterns and chord progressions in popular music are too commonplace to ever be viewed as original, but melodies and lyrics can still be arguably distinct.

Likewise, a recording that contains a combination of musical elements — a drum pattern, bass melody, chord progression — can be seen as unique. The use of existing recordings as a component of a new recording mostly concerns the practice of sampling.

Sampling entered popular music through hip-hop in the 1970s and '80s.

Early hip-hop DJs used multiple turntables to blend several vinyl records into a musical background for community events. As hip-hop culture entered the popular music industry as rap music, the practice of assembling new songs built upon pieces of existing recordings was well-established. At around the same time, affordable digital devices called "samplers" entered the marketplace (from which the practice takes its name). A sampler takes an existing recording of sound and allows that sound to be modified, repeated, or looped and extended. Hip-hop DJs, in many cases, became songwriters and producers who approached making a new song as a process of assembling and modifying existing recordings. Sampling has since become a central technology for popular music's production.

But "Blurred Lines" does not sample "Got to Give It Up," nor does it reuse the melody.

Although loosely one might link the lyrical content of the two songs as being from the same tradition, the now-gentle-seeming Gaye euphemisms are a far cry from the explicit, arguably pro-date-rape lyrics of "Blurred Lines."

So, why did a jury choose to award the Gaye family $7.4 million, and what will this do to songwriting in popular music?

Williams' and Thicke's lawyers, knowing that a team of musicologists could easily demonstrate no melodic/lyric/sampling connections between the recordings, felt safe allowing this case to go to trial — something most copyright lawyers never allow.

What the lawyers did not account for was that the style of Gaye's late-1970s soul music, which Williams and Thicke regularly credited as influential, might be enough of a link for a jury to suspect it was copied.

The two songs sound similar because one attempts to replicate the style of the other. Both songs use many of the same instruments, playing in the same way, and the latter recording attempts to capture the feel of the first recording.

Imitation might be the sincerest form of flattery, but I suspect it will be awhile before a major record company allows for a sonic homage to an older artist to proceed without written permission first.

Brian Moon is an assistant professor and coordinator for music in general studies at the University of Arizona Fred Fox School of Music.

Categories: Arts and HumanitiesThis is a Wildcat Corner feature: Images: Tags: FacultyResearchThe ArtsByline: Brian Moon, UA Fred Fox School of Music |Editor: dougcarrollInclude in UANow: 0Date of Publication: Wednesday, April 15, 2015Medium Summary: Brian Moon, an assistant professor and coordinator for music in general studies at the University of Arizona Fred Fox School of Music, explains the legal changes with the pop single "Blurred Lines," and how music sampling has complicated the music industry. Feature on Front: NoShort Summary: What went wrong with "Blurred Lines?" Brian Moon explains. Send to Never Settle Site: 0UA in the News Spotlight: Includes video: 

What Floats Your Boat?

Tue, 04/14/2015 - 7:05pm

UA engineering students hosted the American Society of Civil Engineers Pacific Southwest Conference recently, drawing more than 1,000 students from 18 universities to test their technical, teamwork and creative skills in various competitions over several days.

A highlight was the concrete-canoe races, held at Silverbell Lake before an enthusiastic crowd. The annual event challenges students' knowledge, creativity and stamina, while showcasing the versatility and durability of concrete as a building material.

This year's ASCE finals will be held at Clemson University in June. In 2007, the national winner, the University of Wisconsin, traveled to the Netherlands to represent the United States in the Dutch Concrete Canoe Challenge.

Video Thumbnail: Category(s): Science and TechnologyYouTube Video:  Concrete Canoe Races Video of Concrete Canoe Races Feature Sticky: OffFeature on Front: NoMedium Summary: In a recent competition of student engineers at the UA, it was concrete, and the atmosphere on race day was hard to beat.UANow Image: Date of Publication: Wednesday, April 15, 2015Send to Never Settle Site: 0Includes video: The story include video

How Food Shapes Who We Are

Mon, 04/13/2015 - 4:53pm

Whether it is the Norwegian krumkake served during Christmas time, family gatherings around dim sum during the Lunar New Year or the preparation of croquembouche for weddings in France, food shapes not only our biology but also our social and cultural lives.

In an exploration of food, the University of Arizona School of Anthropology is presenting a cluster of events held April 23-25, which coincides with National Food Month.

"Food is central to the story of the human condition," said Diane Austin, director of the UA School of Anthropology.

In the School of Anthropology, the study of food and nutrition is explored from many angles and methods, from archaeologists documenting how people lived and prepared food thousands of years ago to applied anthropologists tackling food insecurity around the globe today.

One of the events, "The Human Appetite: A Symposium on Food and Anthropology," will be held April 24 featuring student and faculty researchers. Post-doctoral researcher Ashley Stinnett will discuss the art of heritage butchery; graduate student Victoria Moses will talk about early Roman animal sacrifice and consumption; and graduate student Amanda Hilton will speak about farming practices among the Ndee Bikiyaa farm project.

Also during the symposium, Ivy Pike, an associate professor of anthropology, will discuss diet and identity among East African pastoralists; Mamadou Baro, an anthropology professor, will cover food insecurity in the Sahel; and Maribel Alvarez, a fellow with the Agnese Nelms Haury Program in Environment and Social Justice, will explore the narratives of the revival of white Sonoran wheat.

"Food engages our senses, evokes a sense of place and offers a means for nurturing," Austin said. "Our efforts to obtain it and how we think about it have structured human life from our earliest beginnings to the present day."

Austin explained that food is so essential to the study of humans that it finds its way into most UA anthropologists' work, past and present. For instance, take the narrative of how we grow, discard and eat food.

Since the 1930s, UA archaeologists and students have been excavating University Indian Ruins, a Hohokam site in the eastern Tucson basin. Researchers estimate the site was inhabited by the Hohokam people between A.D. 1200 and 1450, or later. By studying this and similar sites, archaeologists are able to unravel how these agriculturalists were able to use irrigation to grow corn, beans, squash and cotton.

In the 1970s, UA archaeologists pioneered the field of garbology, the study of modern trash. Led by the late Professor William Rathje, the Garbage Project found that the average American wastes as much as 25 percent of their food, a statistic that still gets cited.

Even food consumption can be studied in a variety of ways by anthropologists.

Baro and Tim Finan, researchers with the Bureau of Applied Research in Anthropology at the UA, focus on access to food.

Baro aims to reduce poverty and hunger, especially in sub-Saharan Africa, and works with local communities to determine their own sustainable livelihood solutions.

And last January, Finan was at Dadaab and Kafuma refugee camps in Kenya, which are run by the United Nations, to help evaluate food distribution and to develop ways of increasing people's ability to obtain food. Finan also works with Food for Peace, a U.S. government-sponsored food security program.

Finan also is heavily involved in designing and evaluating school feeding programs. He sees the anthropologist as providing a key role in the grand challenge of combating hunger and poverty.

"Anthropologists can help us understand the cultural influences that enhance or constrain consumption and access to food," Finan said. "They can help us understand how communities and local households make decisions around food. When people receive food, do they sell part of it?  Do they share it with their neighbors? There is no other discipline that interviews people at the local level, that moves systematically among households, trying to determine what factors are affecting food security."

Alvarez explores how people define themselves and others through daily food habits, traditions and practices.

As the director of the Southwest Folklife Alliance, which runs Tucson Meet Yourself, Alvarez also is involved in food from a community engagement perspective.

In her current research, Alvarez explores regional cooking and agriculture in Sonora, Mexico, and is involved in the revival of the use of Sonoran wheat by artisan bread makers.

Alvarez became interested in why we eat flour tortillas in northern Mexico and the Southwest when "90 percent of the tortillas in the world are corn tortillas."

"Anthropology is about humanity, about illuminating the human condition," she said, "and food is essential not only for our survival, but also to our human relationships."

Editor: dougcarrollByline Affiliation: University Relations - CommunicationsExtra Info: 

The School of Anthropology events coinciding with National Food Month are:

  • April 23: Steven Raichlen, a multi-award winning author, journalist, lecturer, television host, and novelist, will host "Up in Smoke: The History of Barbecue" 7-8:30 p.m. in Room 100 of the Social Sciences Building, 1145 E. South Campus.
  • April 24: "The Human Appetite: A Symposium on Food and Anthropology," a panel showcasing the work of anthropology faculty and graduate students, will be held 1-4 p.m. in Room 216 of the Emil W. Haury Anthropology Building, 1009 E. South Campus Dr.
  • April 24: "Eating in the Southwest: Native Foods Fundraising Dinner" will be held at the University Indian Ruin, 2799 N. Indian Ruins Road, beginning with a tour at 6 p.m. Dinner will be served at 7 p.m. Tickets are $150; $75 is tax-deductible. Registration is required and available online.
  • April 25: "10,000 Years of Eating in the Southwest" will be held 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. on the lawn of the Arizona State Museum, 1013 E. University Blvd. The food fair includes demonstration booths, tours to local sites important to Tucson’s culinary heritage, live music specialty dishes prepared by University Avenue restaurants.


Additional event information is available online.

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Alumnus and Ex-Governor Raúl Castro Dies

Fri, 04/10/2015 - 6:22pm

University of Arizona alumnus Raúl Héctor Castro, who overcame hardship and discrimination to become Arizona's only Mexican-American governor and a U.S. ambassador, died Friday in San Diego at the age of 98.

Castro had many ties to the UA, including his graduation from the James E. Rogers College of Law, his support of a scholarship fund in the Center for Latin American Studies in the College of Social and Behavioral Sciences, and his donation of a manuscript collection to the University.

"Governor Castro had an amazing life — if there’s an 'American Dream' story, he epitomized it," said John Paul Jones III, dean of the College of Social and Behavioral Sciences.  "If you ever had a chance to meet Raúl Castro, your time would be filled by many amazing and often funny stories of a life lived fully. I will always remember him for his courage, humor and zest for life."

Born in Sonora, Mexico, in 1916, Castro was one of 14 children. His family moved near Douglas, Arizona, in 1926, and Castro attended Douglas High School, where he played football, edited the school newspaper and graduated with honors.

Castro attended Arizona State Teacher’s College (now Northern Arizona University) on a football scholarship, graduating in 1939, the same year he became a U.S. citizen. He applied for a teaching position in Douglas but was denied because the school board voted not to hire teachers of Mexican descent. Disappointed, he stowed away in railroad boxcars and traveled the country.

Castro eventually found employment as a foreign service clerk for the U.S. State Department in Sonora, where he often was the U.S. representative for Americans jailed in Mexico. The experience motivated him to apply to the UA College of Law. He taught Spanish at the UA while in law school and graduated with a J.D. degree in 1949. 

After graduation, he practiced law for five years, was a Pima County attorney from 1955-59, and served as a judge of the Pima County Superior Court from 1959-64. President Lyndon B. Johnson appointed him as U.S. ambassador to El Salvador from 1964-68 and as ambassador to Bolivia from 1968-69.

Castro made history in 1974 when he became the first and thus far only Mexican-American to be elected Arizona governor. After completing two years of his four-year term, he was chosen by President Jimmy Carter as ambassador to Argentina, a post he held until 1980, when he returned to Arizona to resume practicing immigration law and international law until his retirement in 2003.

"Raúl Castro’s life story is one that continues to inspire us. It is narrative about perseverance, overcoming adversity, the value of hard work and the power of education," said Marc L. Miller, dean of the James E. Rogers College of Law. "Even beyond that, his is a story about how to lead compassionately, with dignity and grace, never ceasing to look for opportunities to make things fairer and more just for others. His civic and professional accomplishments attest to his lifelong interest in improving the lives of others, and in building a caring society."

In 2005, Castro donated his manuscript collection to the UA Center for Latin American Studies. His papers, housed in Special Collections at the UA Libraries, include official documents, photos and memorabilia from his entire career.

"We are honored to preserve Raúl Castro’s papers in Special Collections, where they are available to Arizona citizens and scholars worldwide," said Karen Williams, dean of University Libraries.

Williams noted that portions of Castro’s papers have been digitized and a Web exhibit is available for viewing at In addition, a physical exhibit of Castro’s papers is on display in the Special Collections reading room, as part of a legislative exhibit that recognizes key government leaders who have made significant impact.

In 2008, the UA Center for Latin American Studies and the Raúl H. Castro Institute at Phoenix College partnered to create a documentary on Castro, titled "Raúl H. Castro: Two Cultures, Many Challenges," which was directed by Sy Rotter and LuisCarlos Romero-Davis, a UA alumnus, and produced by Alberto Moore and Ginny Healy.

Castro also lent his name and financial support to a scholarship for undergraduate students in the Center for Latin American Studies. The Raúl H. Castro Scholarship Fund is awarded annually to outstanding UA students who study Latin America and are engaged in service learning.

"Raúl Castro was an important supporter of the Center for Latin American Studies," said Linda Green, director of the center. "He loved meeting LAS students and sharing stories of his younger days. And those who were fortunate enough to hear his stories couldn’t help but be inspired by his grit and success in the face of tremendous odds. We are proud to carry on his legacy through the Raúl H. Castro Scholarship."  

In 2009, a floor-to-ceiling portrait of Castro was unveiled on the Heritage Wall in the Lewis and Roca Lobby at the James E. Rogers College of Law.

At the event, Castro said, "I owe my allegiance and heart to the University of Arizona law school. Getting a law degree was paradise from heaven. It made my whole life different."

Castro has received other accolades from the UA and Tucson community, notably a Lifetime Achievement Award from the James E. Rogers College of Law, a Lifetime Achievement Award from the UA Hispanic Alumni Association and the Legacy Award from the Tucson Hispanic Chamber of Commerce last fall.

To learn more about Castro, see photos and post on the message board, go to

Editor: dougcarrollByline Affiliation: University Relations - CommunicationsHeader image: YesNo Image: Subheading: Graduate of UA law school overcame obstacles to reach the highest levels of government in Arizona and as a U.S. ambassador to three countries.Include in UANow: yesInclude in Olympic Coverage: noFeature on Olympic Page: noUANow Image: Includes video: 

UA Bolsters Opportunities for Online Students

Fri, 04/10/2015 - 5:23pm

This fall, the University of Arizona will launch its first General Education Academy, which is expected to enhance student learning for those enrolled in the recently launched UA Online campus.

The General Education Academy will include the fully online composition courses, and to lead the introduction of such courses the University has hired Susan Miller-Cochran, currently an English professor and director of the First-Year Writing Program at North Carolina State University.

Miller-Cochran will begin her post as director of the UA's Writing Program in July.

The announcement of Miller-Cochran's hiring comes shortly after the launch of UA Online, a distinct digital campus that is expanding statewide and national access to UA degrees. Through UA Online, the University is registering students for 21 new undergraduate degree programs, which join a slate of more than 40 online graduate school degrees and certificates the University has offered. 

"I have been working with the design and development of online writing classes since 1998, and I'm thrilled to be joining the team at the UA in July as we launch a new online writing program," Miller-Cochran said. Her research focuses on instructional technology, writing and writing program administration, and she has published dozens of books, book chapters, articles and other publications in her field.

"The emphasis that the UA has put on excellence in teaching and learning online is what drew me to this program," Miller-Cochran said, "and I look forward to working with the faculty teaching online writing courses to develop courses that are inclusive of a diverse student population and provide students the best opportunity for success."

The UA also will be hiring a visiting scholar in writing to help oversee other core elements of the online writing program, a faculty member in Spanish to support students who require second-language training as part of their fully online degree program.

The focus on online learning is an elemental part of the University's land-grant mission and Never Settle, the UA's academic and business strategic plan, which calls for a rapid expansion of student online access.

The UA's mission aligns with Arizona Board of Regents goals to improve higher-education attainment by 2020, and nationwide priorities to expand higher-education degree access, particularly to time- and place-bound students.

"The University of Arizona is the premier research university in the Southwest," said Vincent J. Del Casino Jr., vice provost of Digital Learning and Student Engagement.

"When we considered building UA Online for undergraduate students, we knew we wanted to bring the best teaching and research faculty to the University of Arizona to help us build a world-class, fully online campus," Del Casino said. "Susan Miller-Cochran is already a leader in her field in teaching of writing online. We are incredibly excited to have her leadership, not only in the Department of English and in the Writing Program, but as part of the UA Online student experience."

Digital Learning as a Movement

A team of UA Writing Program faculty has spent the spring semester experimenting with hybrid introductory writing courses — a split between online and face-to-face interactions — in preparation for moving the courses fully online this fall during the launch of the General Education Academy.

During a summer session, faculty also will pilot online offerings of English 101 and 102, as well as 109H, a section that is open to students in the Honors College.

Also, in addition to composition courses, the UA will launch fully online entry-level courses this fall in subjects that include Spanish, astronomy, music and history.

But it is not enough merely to offer courses online. Faculty must be appropriately trained and equipped with innovative approaches that will enhance engagement for online students, said Gretchen Gibbs, a professor of practice in the Office of Instruction and Assessment, who has been training faculty as they move from hybrid to online models.

"There is a perception that students born after 1992 were suddenly born with a chip in their heads," Gibbs said. Yet, faculty must rethink curriculum design, figure out how to develop a strong social presence, facilitate discussion and maintain engagement, and also deal with issues of privacy.

"They are sitting with these difficulties and wrestling with the challenges," said Gibbs, also the professional development assessment coordinator for online instruction.

Also, the UA's staged approach to offering courses online — moving from the traditional in-person model to a hybrid model before moving fully online — is unique move and has multiple intentions.

This approach ensured that other online offerings were not disrupted and that faculty were able to shape the courses during development while simultaneously testing instructional models, said Amy C. Kimme Hea, the outgoing director of the UA's Writing Program and an expert in computers and composition and writing program administration.

"The model to involve faculty in building the courses is really important in terms of the shift to online education," said Kimme Hea, who recently was appointed to serve as the UA's associate dean for instruction in the College of Social and Behavioral Sciences.

"The benefit we have is involving faculty in research and in curricula design across the program. That provides a much stronger foundation moving forward, and has distinguished the General Education Academy from other online enterprises."

Flipping the Traditional Classroom

Sean Bottai, a course director and lecturer in the UA Department of English, is a member of the team imagining new possibilities for learning interactions, activities and tools that could be used to move writing courses to a fully online environment. The team also is collecting data on performance and success to help improve online courses into the future.

For now, Bottai has been teaching a hybrid English 102 course that focuses on rhetorical analysis. Students in his course analyze controversies and must devise public arguments around topics they are learning about, such as those associated with popular music and cultural representations via video.

"The No. 1 thing I want them to be able to do in their writing is to express an informed opinion. I want them to not just be clear communicators, but credible communicators," Bottai said.  

Over the semester, Bottai said he has found that the skills he is strengthening, such as engaging students in discussion and modeling behaviors, are applicable no matter the classroom space.

He acknowledges the challenge with teaching certain courses, such as English, in an online environment. But he has found that introducing peer-to-peer interactions, incorporating more free flow writing exercises, adopting video and images in instruction, and even engaging students in annotation projects online encourages students to rethink how they engage via the Internet.

"My approach to designing activities has changed," Bottai said. "This has reminded me how important all activities are in moving toward a goal the class is trying to meet, and I've become more technologically empowered."

In some ways, adopting new models in an online environment makes it easier to capture the attention, imagination and interest of students, he said.

"My natural inclination is to situate what we are doing in the present, contemporary moment, but by helping them do things they already know how to do — find song lyrics online, find an article about a contemporary musical artist, watch a video on YouTube," Bottai said. "I find that they are already confident in the online environment, but these are tools that can help them to achieve academic success."

Kimme Hea said that while offering fully online courses, particularly in general education, is fairly new territory for institutions of the UA's rank and profile, such a move is necessary to meet local and nationwide demands for higher education.

"This is a cultural shift for us, and it is a cultural shift across the country," Kimme Hea said. "What we are doing is not common for a program of our size and scope — a large, public research institution. Nationally, this is still a pretty rare phenomena."

Editor: dougcarrollByline Affiliation: University Relations - CommunicationsHeader image: YesNo Image: Subheading: The University is developing best practices for online instruction while moving general education courses online, to increase access for students who have little chance of pursuing a UA degree in person. Include in UANow: yesInclude in Olympic Coverage: noFeature on Olympic Page: noUANow Image: Includes video: 

Parking Program Puts Citizenship Ahead of Fines

Fri, 04/10/2015 - 4:48pm

Students who recently have received a parking citation on campus may be able to have the fine significantly reduced or waived entirely, thanks to a new diversion program adopted by the University of Arizona.

Under the new program, certain parking violators have the option to participate in an online educational program to reduce or eliminate their citation fee. Students are eligible to participate in the program once in an academic year, and the program does not apply to City of Tucson citations.

The idea behind the program is that educating drivers on UA parking policies creates better campus citizens. The learning experience of completing the program is more meaningful than simply paying a fine, says Mark Napier, associate director of operations for Parking and Transportation Services.

"It occurred to me that I'm going to touch hundreds if not several thousands of people a year by the unfortunate event of them getting some kind of parking citation," Napier said. "But could that be an opportunity?"

Napier said that fines collected from parking citations generate less than 5 percent of Parking and Transportation Services' annual revenue.

"We could really use this as a positive educational outlet to share information with students that we really would like them to know," he said.

The free program, which takes about two to three hours to complete, utilizes a workbook format in which participants review various University websites to answer questions. Napier worked with the UA's Campus Health Service and Dean of Students Office to develop content for the program.

The program is organized into four sections: University Knowledge; Being a Better University Citizen; Campus Health; and Parking and Transportation. Topics cover a variety of information, including the University's land-grant mission, Campus Health resources, student code of conduct and parking regulations on campus.

Napier, who also is chairman of the UA Appointed Professionals Advisory Council, said that he was inspired by the traffic school diversion programs most communities use for driving violations, in addition to a call by UA President Ann Weaver Hart for the campus community to get more involved with the UA.

"I've heard her talk a lot about making people feel more embedded in the University and increasing our sense of community," Napier said. "You're going to come out of this program knowing a whole lot more about our University and knowing how to be a better University citizen."

Although the program is currently targeted at students, Napier said an employee-focused program may be created later, based on demand.

A primary reason for the program, Napier said, is to help ease the strains faced by students.

"A parking ticket is just another strain," Napier said. "We can reduce some of that strain by giving them an option ... to reduce or waive their fine by going through this program. We hope they come out of the program more knowledgeable."

If you are a student who has received a citation that qualifies for the diversion program and you are interested in participating, send an email request to Include the words "Diversion Request" in the email subject line and provide your name, student ID number and citation number in the body of the email.

For more information about how to handle a citation and to view the violations that are eligible for the diversion program, visit the Parking and Transportation Services website.

Editor: dougcarrollByline: Amanda BallardByline Affiliation: University Relations - CommunicationsHeader image: YesNo Image: Subheading: Thanks to a new diversion program, UA students may be able to get their parking citation fee significantly reduced or waived entirely.Include in UANow: yesInclude in Olympic Coverage: noFeature on Olympic Page: noUANow Image: Includes video: 

How Twitter Can Help Predict Emergency Room Visits

Fri, 04/10/2015 - 3:24pm

Twitter users who post information about their personal health online might be considered by some to be "over-sharers," but new research led by the University of Arizona suggests that health-related tweets may have the potential to be helpful for hospitals.

Led by Sudha Ram, a UA professor of management information systems and computer science, and Dr. Yolande Pengetnze, a physician scientist at the Parkland Center for Clinical Innovation in Dallas, the researchers looked specifically at the chronic condition of asthma and how asthma-related tweets, analyzed alongside other data, can help predict asthma-related emergency room visits.

Ram and her collaborators — including Wenli Zhang, a UA doctoral student in management information systems, and researchers from the Parkland Center for Clinical Innovation — created a model that was able to successfully predict approximately how many asthma sufferers would visit the emergency room at a large hospital in Dallas on a given day, based on an analysis of data gleaned from electronic medical records, air quality sensors and Twitter.

Their findings (PDF), to be published in the forthcoming IEEE Journal of Biomedical and Health Informatics' special issue on big data, could help hospital emergency departments nationwide plan better with regard to staffing and resource management, said Ram, the paper's lead author.

"We realized that asthma is one of the biggest traffic generators in the emergency department," Ram said. "Often what happens is that there are not the right people in the ED to treat these patients, or not the right equipment, and that causes a lot of unforeseen problems."

Over a three-month period, Ram and her team collected air quality data from environmental sensors in the vicinity of the Dallas hospital. They also gathered and analyzed asthma-related tweets containing certain keywords such as "asthma," "inhaler" or "wheezing." After collecting millions of tweets from across the globe, they used text-mining techniques to zoom in on relevant tweets in the ZIP codes where most of the hospital's patients live, according to electronic medical records.

The researchers found that as certain air quality measures worsened, asthma visits to the emergency room went up. Asthma visits also increased as the number of asthma-related tweets went up. The researchers additionally looked at asthma-related Google searches in the area but found that they were not a good predictor for asthma emergency room visits.

By analyzing tweets and air quality information together, Ram and her collaborators were able to use machine learning algorithms to predict with 75 percent accuracy whether the emergency room could expect a low, medium or high number of asthma-related visits on a given day.

The research highlights the important role that big data, including streams from social media and environmental sensors, could play in addressing health challenges, Ram said.

She and her team hope that their findings will help them create similar predictive models for emergency room visits related to other chronic conditions, such as diabetes.

"You can get a lot of interesting insights from social media that you can't from electronic health records," Ram said. "You only go to the doctor once in a while, and you don't always tell your doctor how much you've been exercising or what you've been eating. But people share that information all the time on social media. We think that prediction models like this can be very useful, if we can combine various types of data, to address chronic diseases."

Ram is co-director of the UA's INSITE Center for Business Intelligence and Analytics in the Eller College on Management. The INSITE Center focuses on predictive analytics through the use of data from a variety of sources, including social media, sensors, mobile applications and Web-based platforms.

Health care — and how various forms of data can be used to address health-care issues — is a key area of interest for the center.

Big data analysis already has been used to predict the spread of contagious disease. The Google Flu Trends Web service, for example, estimates when and where flu will spread based on analysis of flu-related Google searches.

The model developed by Ram and her collaborators is different in that it focuses on a chronic condition. 

"People often end up in the emergency room not necessarily for contagious diseases but for complications resulting from chronic conditions like asthma or diabetes or cardiac problems, which cost a lot to our health care system," Ram said.

More than 25 million Americans are affected by asthma, which accounts for approximately 2 million emergency department visits, half a million hospitalizations and 3,500 deaths annually, incurring more than $50 billion in direct medical costs, Ram and her collaborators write in their paper.

Although hospitals can make risk predictions about when individual asthma patients might return, based on medical histories, the model created by Ram and her collaborators makes predictions at the population level.

"The CDC gets reports of emergency department visits several weeks after the fact, and then they put out surveillance maps," Ram said. "With our new model, we can now do this in almost real time, so that's an important public health surveillance implication."

Ram's co-author Pengetnze said the research represents a creative new approach to population health.

"The multidisciplinary collaboration in this study combines clinical expertise, health services knowledge, electronic health records, and non-traditional big data sources to address the major health challenge that is asthma," she said. "This multifaceted approach could have important implications for the timeliness of public health surveillance, hospital preparedness and clinical workflows, first for asthma then for other burdensome chronic conditions like childhood obesity, Type 2 diabetes, and cardiovascular diseases, to name a few."

With the first phase of their research complete, Ram and her team now plan to expand the asthma study to 75 hospitals in the Dallas-Fort Worth area.

"We've got really good results," Ram said, "and now we're working on building even more robust models to see if we can increase the accuracy level by using more types of datasets over a longer time period."

Editor: dougcarrollWriter: Alexis BlueByline: Alexis BlueByline Affiliation: University Relations - CommunicationsHeader image: YesNo Image: Subheading: A UA-led team of researchers created a model that was able to predict with 75 percent accuracy how many asthma-related emergency room visits a hospital could expect on a given day.Include in UANow: yesInclude in Olympic Coverage: noFeature on Olympic Page: noUANow Image: Includes video: 

$1M Gift From Regent, Family to Cancer Center

Fri, 04/10/2015 - 2:49pm

A member of the Arizona Board of Regents has made a $1 million gift to the University of Arizona Cancer Center in Phoenix.

Regent Dr. Ram Krishna and his wife, Dr. Meera Krishna, made the gift in memory of Meera Krishna's sister, Dr. Mandira Jalajakshi, who was a physician practicing in England when she died in 2012.

The gift will go toward the construction of the University of Arizona Cancer Center at St. Joseph's Hospital and Medical Center/Dignity Health outpatient facility, which will offer comprehensive cancer services, including infusion, radiation oncology, diagnostic imaging, endoscopic/interventional radiology, patient wellness and support services, a prevention center, clinical lab space and several specialized cancer clinics.

The five-story, 220,000-square-foot facility — a partnership between the UA and St. Joseph's Hospital and Medical Center/Dignity Health — is under construction on the Phoenix Biomedical Campus in downtown Phoenix and expected to open in September.

"We are very grateful for the generous support of Drs. Ram and Meera Krishna for the University of Arizona Cancer Center's new facility in Phoenix," said UA President Ann Weaver Hart. "The UA is committed to serving the Phoenix area as part of our land-grant mission. To do so, we are focused on expanding our presence and partnerships there. With this new facility, we will be able to provide patients in Phoenix access to the world-renowned resources of the University of Arizona Cancer Center."

The Krishnas' two daughters graduated from the UA — one with an undergraduate degree and a law degree and the other with a dual degree in medicine and public health. And one of the girls was born at Banner – University Medical Center Tucson, formerly the UA Medical Center. Ram Krishna said he and his wife wanted to give back to the school their children attended while supporting UA medical education and research.

"I was very impressed with President Hart's vision, and we wanted to give back," said Ram Krishna, an orthopedic surgeon who has a private practice in Yuma. "Education and research in the medical field are very important to us."

In recognition of the Krishnas' gift, a space in the new center will bear the name of Mandira Jalajakshi and serve as a memorial honoring her work as a physician.

Editor: dougcarrollByline Affiliation: University Relations – CommunicationsHeader image: YesNo Image: Subheading: The donation from Dr. Ram Krishna and his wife, Meera, will help with the construction of an outpatient facility at the center, scheduled to open in September on the Phoenix Biomedical Campus.Include in UANow: yesInclude in Olympic Coverage: noFeature on Olympic Page: noUANow Image: Includes video: 

Accelerating Universe? Not So Fast

Fri, 04/10/2015 - 11:33am

Certain types of supernovae, or exploding stars, are more diverse than previously thought, a University of Arizona-led team of astronomers has discovered. The results, reported in two papers published in the Astrophysical Journal, have implications for big cosmological questions, such as how fast the universe has been expanding since the Big Bang.

Most importantly, the findings hint at the possibility that the acceleration of the expansion of the universe might not be quite as fast as textbooks say. 

The team, led by UA astronomer Peter A. Milne, discovered that type Ia supernovae, which have been considered so uniform that cosmologists have used them as cosmic "beacons" to plumb the depths of the universe, actually fall into different populations. The findings are analogous to sampling a selection of 100-watt light bulbs at the hardware store and discovering that they vary in brightness.

"We found that the differences are not random, but lead to separating Ia supernovae into two groups, where the group that is in the minority near us are in the majority at large distances — and thus when the universe was younger," said Milne, an associate astronomer with the UA's Department of Astronomy and Steward Observatory. "There are different populations out there, and they have not been recognized. The big assumption has been that as you go from near to far, type Ia supernovae are the same. That doesn't appear to be the case."

The discovery casts new light on the currently accepted view of the universe expanding at a faster and faster rate, pulled apart by a poorly understood force called dark energy. This view is based on observations that resulted in the 2011 Nobel Prize for Physics awarded to three scientists, including UA alumnus Brian P. Schmidt.

The Nobel laureates discovered independently that many supernovae appeared fainter than predicted because they had moved farther away from Earth than they should have done if the universe expanded at the same rate. This indicated that the rate at which stars and galaxies move away from each other is increasing; in other words, something has been pushing the universe apart faster and faster.

"The idea behind this reasoning," Milne explained, "is that type Ia supernovae happen to be the same brightness — they all end up pretty similar when they explode. Once people knew why, they started using them as mileposts for the far side of the universe.

"The faraway supernovae should be like the ones nearby because they look like them, but because they're fainter than expected, it led people to conclude they're farther away than expected, and this in turn has led to the conclusion that the universe is expanding faster than it did in the past."

Milne and his co-authors — Ryan J. Foley of the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, Peter J. Brown at Texas A&M University and Gautham Narayan of the National Optical Astronomy Observatory, or NOAO, in Tucson — observed a large sample of type Ia supernovae in ultraviolet and visible light. For their study, they combined observations made by the Hubble Space Telescope with those made by NASA's Swift satellite.

The data collected with Swift were crucial because the differences between the populations — slight shifts toward the red or the blue spectrum — are subtle in visible light, which had been used to detect type Ia supernovae previously, but became obvious only through Swift's dedicated follow-up observations in the ultraviolet.

"These are great results," said Neil Gehrels, principal investigator of the Swift satellite, who co-authored the first paper. "I am delighted that Swift has provided such important observations, which have been made toward a science goal that is completely independent of the primary mission. It demonstrates the flexibility of our satellite to respond to new phenomena swiftly."

"The realization that there were two groups of type Ia supernovae started with Swift data," Milne said. "Then we went through other datasets to see if we see the same. And we found the trend to be present in all the other datasets.

"As you're going back in time, we see a change in the supernovae population," he added. "The explosion has something different about it, something that doesn't jump out at you when you look at it in optical light, but we see it in the ultraviolet.

"Since nobody realized that before, all these supernovae were thrown in the same barrel. But if you were to look at 10 of them nearby, those 10 are going to be redder on average than a sample of 10 faraway supernovae."

The authors conclude that some of the reported acceleration of the universe can be explained by color differences between the two groups of supernovae, leaving less acceleration than initially reported. This would, in turn, require less dark energy than currently assumed.

"We're proposing that our data suggest there might be less dark energy than textbook knowledge, but we can't put a number on it," Milne said. "Until our paper, the two populations of supernovae were treated as the same population. To get that final answer, you need to do all that work again, separately for the red and for the blue population."

The authors pointed out that more data have to be collected before scientists can understand the impact on current measures of dark energy. Scientists and instruments in Arizona will play important roles in these studies, according to Milne. These include projects led by NOAO; the Large Synoptic Survey Telescope, or LSST, whose primary mirror was produced at the UA; and a camera built by the UA's Imaging Technology Lab for the Super-LOTIS telescope on Kitt Peak southwest of Tucson. Super-LOTIS is a robotic telescope that will use the new camera to follow up on gamma-ray bursts — the "muzzle flash" of a supernova — detected by Swift.

Editor: dougcarrollWriter: Daniel StolteByline: Daniel StolteByline Affiliation: University Relations – CommunicationsHeader image: YesNo Image: Subheading: A UA-led team of astronomers found that the type of supernovae commonly used to measure distances in the universe fall into distinct populations not recognized before. The findings have implications for our understanding of how fast the universe has been expanding since the Big Bang.Include in UANow: yesInclude in Olympic Coverage: noFeature on Olympic Page: noIncludes video: 

Ecosystem Metaphor May Apply to Humans

Thu, 04/09/2015 - 6:54pm

The world today is more intimate and tightly wound together than ever before. Organizations are linked together in a variety of ways, allowing relationships to form and resources to be exchanged.

Matt Mars of the University of Arizona College of Agriculture and Life Sciences and Judith Bronstein from the UA College of Science have teamed up to better understand the natural properties of the networks that tie together human actors and organizations. The U.S. Department of Defense is interested in their research as a way to analyze terrorist networks.

"Today’s society doesn’t work in isolation," Mars said. "It’s becoming easier to show who’s connected to who, but knowing how one organization affects another remains a particularly difficult challenge. What actors and groups keep a network together? Who is expendable?"

The researchers are using an organizational ecology model, drawn originally from the biological sciences, to study how groups form and interact. Bronstein's research focuses on cooperation and insect networks, and Mars' focuses on charter schools and other human systems.

To gain more insight, Mars and Bronstein are looking at the opportunities and limitations of viewing such networks from the perspective of an "organizational ecosystem metaphor."

Traditionally used in the study of networks of interacting species in nature, the ecosystem model increasingly is being employed in other disciplines to predict how different groups thrive, interact and extend their influence, or fail.

The work of Mars, an assistant professor of agricultural leadership and communication in the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences, and Bronstein, a University Distinguished Professor of Ecology and Evolutionary Biology, stems from an initial collaboration that included Bob Lusch, Muzzy Professor of Entrepreneurship and professor of marketing in the UA's Eller College of Management.

"Ecological terms have been popping up in the nonscientific literature more and more — symbiosis, ecosystem, things like that. Some of these are really powerful concepts," said Bronstein, a member of the UA’s BIO5 Institute. "Could ecological concepts and analyses enrich fields like business, education and policymaking by suggesting new and testable hypotheses, for instance, about what makes systems stable or fragile? We've become convinced that they can."

According to Mars, there is a need for a better understanding of how organizations and actors connect and function within complex environments.

Interest by Department of Defense

The U.S. Department of Defense Office of Net Assessment agrees. After reading a paper by Mars, Bronstein and Lusch, the office invited Mars and Bronstein to discuss the organizational ecosystem metaphor during a counterterrorism workshop in January in Alexandria, Virginia.

The office is looking for new ways to study how the systems that support and create violent instability come together — and how they fall apart.

"It was an engaging and challenging conversation," Mars said. "Terrorism is a global problem, so they want to understand the systems that are being put together and how they form and keep connections, and want to be able to forecast how that’s going to change over the next 10 years."

Mars and the ecologist Bronstein want to keep it relevant to both the human and biological sides.

"The metaphor tries to take principles from biological systems that are parallel to human systems and give you different ways to understand how human systems function, how they thrive or how they fail," Bronstein said.

For example, Bronstein and Mars are studying the emergence of the Arizona charter school system, and how different systems affect the success or failure of the schools within. The UA Center for Insect Science initially funded this interdisciplinary project.

"You can understand the charter school system as an ecosystem, where schools are species, and these schools have partnerships with other species," Mars said. "They may compete, but they share an environment that is structured by common policy and resource pools. The overarching goal is for schools to thrive rather than fail, and using the ecosystem model is an effective way of understanding the environment that largely determines success and failure."

Within the agricultural education department, the model also holds promise for looking at local and regional food systems.

"Exploring local food systems as ecosystems is just one example of how the metaphor may connect to agriculture, but its application is really diverse, so you can go from charter schools, to terrorists, to food systems," Mars said.

Looking for Tools to Use

Once the metaphor has been fully developed, then it has the power to become a decision-making tool.

"That’s why the DOD wants to talk to us," Mars said. "They want tools."

"Our college has always contributed to America’s national security primarily by ensuring a safe and abundant food supply," said Shane Burgess, vice president for veterinary sciences and Cooperative Extension and CALS dean. "But today, we’re taking this one step further and using the principles of biological networks to address the immediate national security threat we all face: world terrorism."

Following the Net Assessment meeting, Mars and Bronstein have been invited to develop an essay that explores some of the potential ways in which the ecosystem metaphor may influence counterterrorism strategy and policy. If published, it will be distributed to policymakers in Washington, D.C.

"It is very exciting to know that the work we are doing at the University of Arizona could have a positive impact on the nation's effort to prevent organized violence and bring greater stability to the world," Mars said. 

Editor: dougcarrollByline: Susan McGinleyByline Affiliation: College of Agriculture and Life SciencesHeader image: YesNo Image: Subheading: UA researchers have attracted the attention of the Department of Defense by looking at how organizational ecology may relate to human networks — and even to terrorist organizations.Include in UANow: yesInclude in Olympic Coverage: noFeature on Olympic Page: noUANow Image: Includes video: 

Two Programs Focus on Effects of Abuse

Thu, 04/09/2015 - 4:59pm

In recognition of Sexual Abuse Awareness Month in April, Arizona Public Media is airing special programming on the WORLD Channel that features stories of resilience from survivors of sexual violence and domestic abuse.

"Family Affair" and "The Perfect Victim," which are new episodes of the acclaimed independent film series "America ReFramed," serve to raise awareness for the prevention of sexual abuse, as well as to highlight the victims’ capacity for perseverance in the face of trauma.

"Family Affair" tells the story of Chico Colvard as he seeks to understand his family’s calamitous past. Some 30 years after an accident uncovered the repeated emotional, physical and sexual abuse of Colvard’s three sisters at the hands of their father, he seeks to grasp the truth about the horrors of his childhood, the man at the center of those horrors and the ability of his sisters to forgive. "Family Affair," which premiered on April 7, will repeat Saturday at 8 p.m. and Sunday at midnight.

"The Perfect Victim," which will air Tuesday at 6 p.m., features four women incarcerated for killing their abusive husbands, and the efforts to win their freedom. Raped, abused and nearly killed by their spouses, these women chose finally to fight back — and were sentenced to life in prison. After a battle of a decade and a half, and a collective 85 years in Missouri's prison system, the women appeal for justice to be done and a second chance at the lives taken from them.

Cox Cable subscribers can find WORLD on Channel 83; Comcast subscribers can find it on Channel 203. For those using an antenna, WORLD is at Channel 27.3.

Editor: dougcarrollByline Affiliation: University Relations - CommunicationsHeader image: YesNo Image: Subheading: "Family Affair" and "The Perfect Victim," part of an independent film series, focus on sexual violence and domestic abuse during Sexual Abuse Awareness Month.Include in UANow: 0Include in Olympic Coverage: noFeature on Olympic Page: noUANow Image: Includes video: 

Behind the Plate: A Catcher's Perspective

Thu, 04/09/2015 - 4:48pm

In baseball, the role of a catcher requires both mental and physical talents. The position is demanding. A skilled catcher must be capable of complex statistical analysis, have lightning-fast judgment and have highly developed organizational and leadership skills.

A catcher is the only player that is positioned to see the entire field of play. He is the most powerful person on the diamond. He triggers virtually every action by calling the pitches. He must be aware of every aspect of the game at all times. He has to keep the score, the inning and the number of outs in mind. He must know what the ball-strike count is, who's up to bat, and what the hitter has done in previous at-bats and against certain pitches. The outcome of the game could turn on any of these things.

Riley Moore of the Arizona Wildcats used to find all of that decision making to be overwhelming, back when he took a more passive approach to catching.

"It was difficult for me earlier on in my college career," Moore said. "As a freshman coming into this program with a bunch of older established guys and knowing that the catcher's position requires leadership, it was hard for me because I was coming in as a passive catcher knowing that this wasn't my program, it was the older guys'." 

Now, as a senior, he has a different perspective about his role on the team.  

"As a catcher, you're a leader trying to control the game and control your players," Moore said. "You have to take a more active role and really take ownership of your program if you want to be successful."

Decisions and situations that once seemed daunting to him have gained clarity over the course of his Wildcat tenure. 

Moore explained that as you spend more time within the program, the decisions — be they running different bunt defenses, positioning fielders or calling out where pitches should be thrown — become second nature and nearly instinctive. 

"I'm 100 percent positive that they aren't always the right decisions, because nobody's perfect — we're all human — but I'm not hesitating anymore in making those crucial decisions, and to the best of my judgment I make the decisions I believe will benefit the team," he said.  

Head coach Andy Lopez said that Moore provides solid leadership and does a good job of handling the pitching staff.

"He understands his role, and his intangibles are exceeding anything we were really asking of him this year," Lopez said. "He knows what has to be done to win."

One facet of the game that Moore emphasizes is his defense. Baseball is a sport in which the defense controls the pace of the game.

The offense waits for the defense to deliver a pitch. The combination of a sly catcher and a crafty pitcher has the power to shape the outcome of the game.   "Whether it's just from receiving or throwing and being able to call a good game for the pitchers, that's where I would say the real foundation of a great catcher comes from," he said.  "Anyone can learn how to hit, but being a sound defensive catcher, not many people have the mental aspects — the calmness, poise and the confidence — to know which pitches to call, what situations are going on and what previous pitches you've called in setting up the current and past batters.

"It's a game within a game," Moore added. "You've got to be pretty tough mentally behind the plate because you have to distinguish between all aspects of handling a pitching staff and other position players while strategically working to outwit an opposing batter." 

Catching combines the mental aspects of the position with brute physicality. It's a difficult position to play, and it includes blocking pitches with your body on occasion and squatting all game.

"It's hard on your legs and you get tired, so physically you have to be strong and stable, and mentally you just have to be tough, knowing that it's a grind and really prioritizing what you have to do for those nine innings," Moore said.

Moore has shown defensive improvement every year, going from a .971 fielding percentage in his freshman season to .984 as a sophomore and .997 last season. This year, the native of Santa Barbara, California, has committed only one error behind the plate and possesses a .305 batting average, with nine extra-base hits including three home runs. 

"I try to work on every aspect of the game because I know I'm not the best at everything," Moore said. "There are only a couple people on this planet who are the best, and they're getting paid millions of dollars to play professional baseball."

In college baseball, pitch calls usually are decided by coaches and not by catchers. However, in more recent games, Lopez has given Moore greater opportunity to call games and have an even more impactful role. 

"It's been great," Lopez said. "I'm always looking forward to catchers doing that, because they're going to eventually have to do that in pro ball." 

Moore said that he has enjoyed the extra responsibility.

"I find myself being able to call a good game and knowing what pitches to call on certain hitters," he said. "It's really fun."

Editor: dougcarrollWriter: Evan RosenfeldByline: Evan RosenfeldByline Affiliation: UA News Student Associate, University Relations - CommunicationsHeader image: YesNo Image: Subheading: UA senior Riley Moore is always involved in the game, and the constant action and decisions are what he loves about the position he plays for the Wildcats. Include in UANow: 0Include in Olympic Coverage: noFeature on Olympic Page: noIncludes video: 

The Art and Science of the Environment

Wed, 04/08/2015 - 5:49pm

Kejun Li asks a question: What does a credit card have in common with tree rings?

The answer is in Li's art — spiraling, archival digital-art prints he created by smearing an expired credit card in the style of Chinese brush paintings. The prints directly mimic the cross section of a tree and its rings in a way that is so striking and precise that people have asked Li, a graduating University of Arizona Master of Fine Art student, whether his works are actually X-rays.

The pieces in the "Plastic|Wood" series, which are part of a new timely — and, in some ways, timeless — exhibition organized by UA artists and scientists, also highlight the similarities and contrasts between a manufactured and natural world.

Indeed, that is the focus of "Marking Time to a Changing Climate," now on display at the UA's Bryant Bannister Tree-Ring Building, home of the Laboratory for Tree-Ring Research.

The exhibition was coordinated by UA School of Art professor Ellen McMahon in collaboration with David Breshears, a professor in the School of Natural Resources and the Environment, to encourage imagination, questioning and discovery around scientific matters.

"Breshears (and) many others studying the effects of climate change are deeply concerned about what they're finding," McMahon said, noting the work of Breshears and his collaborators.

The team found that 40 to 80 percent of the piñon pine trees in the Four Corners area died off between 2002 and 2003. In 2014, Breshears was among the researchers who contributed to a climate change assessment released by the White House and the U.S. Global Change Research Program detailing how changes in the climate pose current problems.

"Scientists need to keep their objectivity to keep their credibility. Artists don’t have those constraints and are free to work with the data," McMahon said. "This is mutually beneficial, as artists can reach people in ways scientists can't."

Thus, the project propels a conversation about two important contemporary themes: the need to make evident the changes — even subtle ones — that are occurring in the environment, and the promise of an ongoing interdisciplinary movement that is drawing stronger connections between the arts and science.

"Bringing artwork to a place where so many visitors come to learn about science is a great opportunity to bring up questions about how art and science effect us in different ways," said McMahon, who is also a member of the Art and Environment Network initiated by the Institute of the Environment, a network of UA faculty members exploring issues related to the many intersections between art and the environment.

"My hope is that projects like these will help people understand through firsthand experience the importance of both art and science in determining what they think, how they feel and finally how they choose to act," she said.

McMahon's 8-foot piece includes 275 hemispheric images of healthy ponderosa pine trees and also dead piñon pine and juniper forests. The images were captured over the last several years by Breshears and his team of researchers and used by the team in its forest mortality research.

The images were not captured for artistic purposes, but McMahon reimagined them as works of art and organized them into a sequential narrative to help raise awareness of recent accelerated forest die-off due to drought, insect damage and warming temperatures in the Southwest.

In addition to Li and McMahon, School of Art graduate students Thomas Saffle and Jesse Chehak also contributed works, some of them new, to be installed in the building. The photographs, prints and paintings are located in the main lobby and in various locations throughout the building, and are scheduled to be in place for about a year.

Saffle produced a 14-foot behemoth tree painting and monotype oil paints that bring to mind monsoons and other extreme weather conditions.

"These artworks are paired especially well with the department, which is focused on extreme climate and weather research," said Saffle, a Master of Fine Arts student graduating in May.

"Getting to show your art in a setting as nice and interesting as the lab is great," he said. "Having work with natural phenomena and then hanging in a center that focuses on the study trees and extreme weather feels like a perfect fit for me as an artist and hopefully for those working there as well."

Li took a UA dendochronology course last year in preparation for the project.

"A credit card is like a recorder of our lives, and a tree ring is a recorder of nature. Each tree ring contains a large quantity of information and so does a credit card," Li, a graduate student in visual communications, said about his prints.

"I'm interested in making connections between these two different kinds of information, the natural and the artificial," he said. "I was pleasantly surprised to discover that, with a single sweep, tree rings could be imitated so accurately including early wood, fire scars, false rings, fungus and so on.” 

McMahon is teaching an art design and environmental science course in the fall and intends to engage her students in projects that address issues such as those embedded in the exhibition.

"My collaboration with Dave Breshears and his team has deepened my investment in forest die-off as I internalized and engaged it through my cultural and individual identity as an artist and designer," McMahon said. "I think the interaction is beneficial and enriching for the artists and the scientists, and I am very motivated to bring the two disciplines together."

Editor: dougcarrollWriter: La Monica Everett-HaynesByline: La Monica Everett-HaynesByline Affiliation: University Relations - CommunicationsExtra Info: 

"Marking Time to a Changing Climate" is on display, with works installed at various locations within the UA's Bryant Bannister Tree-Ring Building. 


Several works are visible in the lobby and may be viewed during business hours, 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday through Friday. Other works may be offered on tours of the building, or by special arrangement. For more information, contact Ellen McMahon, a UA School of Art professor, at

Header image: YesNo Image: Subheading: UA School of Art professor Ellen McMahon and David Breshears, a professor in the School of Natural Resources and the Environment, organized an exhibition to encourage imagination, questioning and discovery around scientific matters.Include in UANow: yesInclude in Olympic Coverage: noFeature on Olympic Page: noUANow Image: Includes video: 

Classroom Innovator: Barnet Pavao-Zuckerman

Wed, 04/08/2015 - 4:49pm

To get to the classroom of Barnet Pavao-Zuckerman, you need a vehicle, good directions and some enthusiasm for playing in the dirt. Especially the last part.

Pavao-Zuckerman, an associate professor in the University of Arizona’s School of Anthropology, oversees the UA’s archaeological field school at Mission Guevavi, on the Santa Cruz River an hour south of Tucson.

The field school, in its third season, combines training in excavation and analysis of material remains from several prehistoric and historical contexts in and around the 18th century Mission Los Santos Ángeles de Guevavi, located within Tumacácori National Historic Park.

"It absolutely is a classroom," says Pavao-Zuckerman, who is also associate director of the School of Anthropology, celebrating its centennial this year.

"I love what I do, and I want the students to love what I do," she says. "To me, there’s no greater thrill than telling a big story about the past from tiny bits of bone fragments you find in the ground. That’s what gets me up in the morning."

The field school is part of a collaborative project involving the UA, the National Park Service and Desert Archaeology Inc. Students learn excavation methods, advanced mapping techniques, curation and analysis of artifacts, archaeological interpretation, and archaeological ethics and legal mandates.

"This is practical, hands-on experience," Pavao-Zuckerman says. "You have to be here and put trowel to ground to understand the techniques and the special control and the context.

"You have to test to see if this is something you want to do with the rest of your life."

Video Thumbnail: Category(s): Social Sciences and EducationTeaching and StudentsYouTube Video:  Classroom Innovator:Barnet Pavao-Zuckerman Video of Classroom Innovator:Barnet Pavao-Zuckerman Feature Sticky: OffFeature on Front: NoMedium Summary: Roll up your sleeves and visit the UA's archaeological field school at Mission Guevavi, an hour south of Tucson, the latest in our series on classroom innovation. UANow Image: Date of Publication: Wednesday, April 8, 2015Send to Never Settle Site: 0Includes video: The story include video

UA Vet Med Program to 'Break the Mold'

Wed, 04/08/2015 - 3:08pm

A veterinary medical education program unlike any other in North America is being created at the University of Arizona College of Agriculture and Life Sciences, with an innovative curriculum that will create jobs, student opportunity and build the state’s economic prosperity.

"We’re going to break the mold and create the first of a (new) generation of veterinary education programs designed for the 21st century," said Dr. Bonnie Buntain, the new coordinator of the UA’s Veterinary Medical and Surgical Program.

"We will provide an exceptional education at a cost that is lower than any other school in North America," said Buntain, a pioneer in veterinary medicine who previously served as a consultant in developing the UA program. Most recently, she helped establish a vet school at the University of Calgary.

The UA program, which will be the state’s only public veterinary medical education program, was approved by the Arizona Board of Regents last September on the heels of a $9 million gift from the Kemper and Ethel Marley Foundation. The program will launch in August 2016.

Prospective students from Arizona and beyond have expressed interest in the hybrid, innovative, year-round program, which is designed to meet the demands of rural areas for veterinarians and to allow students to graduate on firmer financial ground.

"We will at least halve the cost of a D.V.M. education compared to other public programs, and quarter the cost compared with private programs — all while increasing educational content by almost 40 percent,” Buntain said.

According to Buntain, many students today will graduate with more than $300,000 in student-loan debt from schools that cost up to $61,000 annually.

"This is a non-sustainable debt when the typical starting salary is $60,000," she said. "These salaries are even lower in rural areas of the U.S. which have a veterinarian shortage. We plan to have the best value for the money here in Arizona, a unique package of educational opportunity that will also have people working as D.V.M.'s up to four years sooner than any other program. This will be the first of the next generation of U.S. programs for our newest colleagues facing challenges that none of us faced."

In addition to private practice, UA graduates will be competitive for positions in federal, state and local government in food safety and security, biomedical research and other areas.

Buntain brings experience well beyond a private equine practice, having held several positions during her 17 years in the federal government, including chief public health veterinarian and founding director of animal production food safety staff in the Food Safety and Inspection Service.

Satellite Facilities Across State

The UA’s hybrid clinical rotations call for students to receive clinical training not only in satellite University facilities statewide but also in private and public facilities with practicing veterinarians.

In December, the University purchased the Ames Animal Care Facility in Douglas, Arizona, to be one of four satellite locations. The building houses the city of Douglas and Cochise County animal shelters. Other facilities will be in Yuma and Pinal counties and in the Verde Valley.

The model exemplifies UA’s 100% Engagement initiative by providing every student with real-world, hands-on experience beyond what is typically available.

Education will be based on core competencies developed in three areas: commerce, human and animal interdependence, and One Health, which includes the central role D.V.M.'s have in diagnosing and preventing public health disasters due to the spread of diseases shared by animals and humans, such as flu, SARS and even Ebola.

The college is partnering with Arizona veterinarians and members of other industries that employ D.V.M.'s, including a clinical advisory group, to develop the competencies that graduates must have.

Among the partners is Dr. Mary Kay Klein of Southwest Veterinary Oncology.

"Shane Burgess is coming at this from a whole new perspective and is addressing the issues that have become stumbling blocks for students to become veterinarians," Klein said of the college's dean.

"Ultimately what all of us look for in new graduates is the ability to logically take a problem, assess it, and generate a list of differentials and make a concise and specific treatment plan. We want problem solvers and logical thinkers, with all the tools and knowledge they need to be successful and the ability to put that knowledge to use in a clinical setting."

She finds one concept that will be developed to be particularly intriguing: a D.V.M. who is also a licensed nurse practitioner. She said such a person could help rural areas lacking in health care providers for humans and animals.

Because the program is designed from the outset to change as the state’s needs change, it will provide "what the state needs, what students need and what consumers need," Klein said.

The program also is partnering with shelters, including the Humane Society of Southern Arizona and the Hermitage No-Kill Cat Shelter.

Maureen O’Nell, CEO of the Humane Society of Southern Arizona, has been involved in planning for more than a year. HSSA is Tucson’s oldest and largest locally supported animal welfare agency.

"We have a very significant training arena for students," O’Nell said. "We have a lot of animals here every single day with a myriad of health issues. It’s a very stressful environment for our animals. They come with just about any condition you can think of, and on top of that, they have been abandoned. Shelter medicine is very complex."

'It Doesn't Get More Real'

She said the experience also will expose students to pet owners who have limited resources, as well as to animal cruelty — experiences that could serve them well in their profession.

"It doesn’t get more real than this," O’Nell said. "You see everything. I’d love to see students want to be in shelter medicine. This is part of our world."

Buntain said the UA program will open its application period in the spring of 2016.

"We want to attract exceptional people interested in all careers that D.V.M.'s can have, such as the exploding bioscience economy, global commerce in animals and their products, retail, biomedicine and public health — as well as typical practice," she said. 

Editor: dougcarrollByline: Gabrielle FimbresByline Affiliation: College of Agriculture and Life SciencesHeader image: YesNo Image: Subheading: An innovative curriculum, scheduled to launch in August 2016, will address a shortage of veterinarians in rural areas, offer practical experience and keep costs to students much lower than the norm.Include in UANow: yesInclude in Olympic Coverage: noFeature on Olympic Page: noUANow Image: Includes video: 

ARS Tribute to Honor Late UA Alumnus

Tue, 04/07/2015 - 7:28pm

Jeffry Jahn (Photo: Chris Richards)

For decades, University of Arizona alumnus Jeffry Jahn's energy and passion for choral arts inspired his singers and audiences alike.

In honor of his memory, the Arizona Repertory Singers will present "How Can We Keep From Singing?," a concert featuring a nostalgic retrospective of Jahn's favorite choral works performed by ARS during his 25-year tenure as music director and conductor. Jahn died unexpectedly in February.

"Maestro Jahn was a very beloved conductor. I understand that he was passionate about choral music and his love of sharing it with others," said Elizabeth Schauer, associate director of choral activities and an associate professor at the UA's Fred Fox School of Music.

"My former students who encountered him were moved by him and drawn to him through his work," Schauer said. "Those who sang for him had a great connection with and appreciation of him.  I know he inspired his singers to love the masterworks of our art, and to aspire to bring their best to it."

The April 19 performance will be held at 3 p.m. at Catalina United Methodist Church, 2700 E. Speedway Blvd. Nadeen Jahn, Jahn's wife and the ARS interim music director, will conduct, and the concert will feature pieces that include Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart's "Laudate Pueri," Claude Debussy's "Trois Chansons" and Lorenz Hart's "Isn’t It Romantic."

The performance is free and open to the public as a gift to Tucson, honoring Jahn's belief that ARS sings for the public, not for itself. 

"Although we are profoundly heartbroken by his untimely death, we are immeasurably blessed by the many years that Jeffry graced our community as a musician, mentor, educator, composer, humorist and generous-hearted friend," said John Neve, president of the ARS board of directors.

"Jeffry's personal sentiment was 'life is a song that must be sung,' so it is only fitting that we honor his memory with a performance featuring his favorite pieces that we performed under his direction over the past 25 years," Neve said.

Jahn took the helm of ARS in 1990, shortly after earning his doctoral degree from the UA School of Music. He remained connected with his alma mater, often supporting students and also involving students and employees in ARS. 

ARS blossomed under his gifted musical direction; it became Tucson's premier vocal choral ensemble and developed one of the largest performing repertories in the nation, with more than 350 diverse pieces.

Jahn contributions to Tucson's music community also will be honored by his induction into the Tucson Musicians Museum as part of its grand-opening celebration, to be held Sunday. Tucson Mayor Jonathan Rothschild is expected to attend the ribbon cutting.

Categories: Arts and HumanitiesThis is a Wildcat Corner feature: Images: Tags: FacultyEducationOutreachByline: Arizona Repertory Singers |Editor: dougcarrollInclude in UANow: 0Date of Publication: Wednesday, April 8, 2015Medium Summary: UA alumnus Jeffry Jahn was known for his energy and passion for choral arts, and he inspired a generation of singers and audiences alike. Feature on Front: YesShort Summary: UA alumnus Jeffry Jahn was known for his energy and passion for choral arts. Send to Never Settle Site: 0UA in the News Spotlight: Includes video: 

E-Week: Fun, Games and Brains

Tue, 04/07/2015 - 4:58pm

University of Arizona Engineers Week, or E-Week, the annual celebration of creativity, competition and charity organized by the Engineering Student Council, takes place on and around the UA campus from Friday through April 18.

Cerebral to celestial, gritty to elegant, athletic to absurd, E-Week events share a common goal: to spread the magic and meaning of engineering to as many people as possible.

"E-Week is a great way to promote engineering to the campus and the community," said College of Engineering Dean Jeff Goldberg. "It shows that engineers can improve society and help people, and have some fun while they do it. And it’s a great opportunity to get kids interested in a career in engineering."

All are welcome at E-Week contests, which showcase the talents of UA student engineers, raise awareness about engineering education and raise funds for those in need.

"This should be the biggest E-Week we’ve ever had at the UA, with 28 engineering student clubs participating," predicted Ericka Tucker, Engineering Student Council president. 

The more student clubs participate in E-Week, the more they can help the Tucson community. Clubs compete for points based on their participation and performance at each E-Week event, including community service events, and clubs with the most points win prizes at E-Week closing ceremonies. So they’re especially motivated to attract and interest as many people as possible.

E-Week events include the Rube Goldberg contest, in which student teams design and build elaborate contraptions to perform simple tasks. Rube Goldberg was a Pulitzer Prize-winning cartoonist, inventor and engineer, whose comical inventions still influence popular culture and have inspired generations of UA engineers to overdesign in his name.

Later in the week, mining engineering students show off their machine-wielding skills at another popular E-Week event, a rock-drilling competition outside Old Main. Engineering students also will face off at Engineering Jeopardy; Lego, Jenga and egg-drop competitions; and softball and kickball tournaments.

E-Week organizers have teamed up with a new club, UA Students for the Exploration and Development of Space, for a first-ever E-Week event, Yuri’s Night, where amateur astronomers will set up telescopes on the UA Mall for community members to scan the night sky.

At week’s end, students will kick out the jams at the Engineers Ball, a classic E-Week gala resurrected last year after a long hiatus.

The capstone community outreach and public service effort for E-Week is a canned-food drive to benefit the Campus Pantry, which serves UA students, staff and their families. Organizers aim to collect 6,000 pounds of food, and Jeff Goldberg has pledged $1,000 in matching funds.

Because the pantry can hold only 500 pounds of food, the UA chapter of the professional engineering fraternity Theta Tau Chi has volunteered to store overflow at its house.

"It’s just one example of how UA engineering students join forces at E-Week to help members of the community," Tucker said. "The giving-back portion of Engineers Week is by far the most important."

Editor: dougcarrollByline: Jill GoetzByline Affiliation: UA College of EngineeringWhat: E-WeekWhere: UA campusWhen: April 10-18Extra Info: 

For a calendar of E-Week events:!eweek2015/cah4


Header image: YesNo Image: Subheading: From rock drilling and Rube Goldberg competitions to stargazing on the UA Mall and a crowning ball, the UA's College of Engineering promises good times for a good cause. Include in UANow: yesInclude in Olympic Coverage: noFeature on Olympic Page: noUANow Image: Includes video: 

UA Honors Asian American Heritage

Mon, 04/06/2015 - 6:28pm

To recognize and celebrate the contribution and heritage of Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders, the University of Arizona is hosting speakers, performances, movie nights and a graduation ceremony leading into Mays. 

The UA's Asian Pacific American Student Affairs and its partners are putting on events that follow two main themes: "Making Waves" and "Telling Our Stories."

"A common message in Asian American Pacific Islander culture is promoting that the key to success is to not make waves and just do work silently," said Dan Xayaphanh, program director for Asian Pacific American Student Affairs.

"This message has furthered the passive Asian stereotype and has fostered an invisible population," Xayaphanh said. "This month, we want to dispel this message and teach about the issues Asian Pacific American students are facing and celebrate the waves that are making them visible."

The month's events include:

  • April 17: The AACA Talent Show will be held from 6-9 p.m. in Room 350 of the Modern Languages Building, featuring the talents of students and community members.
  • April 18: The Aileen Esteban Primero Basketball Tournament will be held from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. in the UA Recreation Center's South Gym to benefit the scholarship endowment fund.
  • April 18: Troy Osaki will host a slam poetry workshop on masculinity, to be held from 11 a.m. to noon in Gallagher Theater. At 5 p.m., Osaki, winner of the 2012 Youth Speaks Seattle Grand Slam, will present a spoken-word performance.
  • April 23: Solo performer Elizabeth Liang will present "Alien Citizen: An Earth Odyssey" about growing up as a dual citizen of mixed heritage. The event will be held at 7 p.m. in the Kiva Room of the Education Building.
  • May 9: The Lotus Laureate Graduation Convocation will be held at 5:30 p.m. in the South Ballroom of the Student Union Memorial Center. The event will honor the achievements of Asian Pacific American students who will be graduating in May. 

In addition to these events, Xayaphanh and his team are collecting students' stories through the Asian Pacific American Student Affairs website.

"By students telling their stories, we hope to showcase their individualism and unique identities and break down stereotypes like the model minority myth," Xayaphanh said. The stories will be shared and displayed during the Lotus Laureate Graduation Convocation.

"We hope this month will be a catalyst in breaking Asian American Pacific Islander stereotypes throughout campus," he said, "and acknowledging the uniqueness of our students."

Editor: dougcarrollByline Affiliation: University Relations - CommunicationsHeader image: YesNo Image: Subheading: Asian Pacific American Student Affairs is sponsoring a series of events in honor of Asian Pacific American Heritage Month, with the themes of "Making Waves" and "Telling Our Stories." Include in UANow: yesInclude in Olympic Coverage: noFeature on Olympic Page: noIncludes video: 

UA App Designed to Help Women Quit Smoking

Mon, 04/06/2015 - 4:30pm

See Me Smoke-Free, the first multibehavioral mobile health (mHealth) app designed to help women quit smoking, eat well and get moving, is now available for free at the Google Play Store.

The Android phone app, officially released March 30, uses guided imagery to help women resist the urge to smoke, while encouraging them to make healthful food choices and increase their physical activity. The app can be downloaded at

See Me Smoke-Free was developed by a multidisciplinary research team headed by Judith S. Gordon, associate professor and associate head for research with the Department of Family and Community Medicine at the University of Arizona College of Medicine – Tucson.

The goal of See Me Smoke-Free is to provide an overall sense of well-being and self-efficacy, Gordon said.

"We want women to recognize that they are strong, they are beautiful, they are powerful and they’re in control of their lives," she said. "And that they can use the app to engage in a healthier lifestyle. That includes being smoke-free."

The app is designed specifically for women, with input from women smokers, because studies have shown that women experience challenges such as weight gain when they quit smoking. That may make quitting more difficult for women than it is for men, Gordon said.

The main component of the app is a guided imagery program, which consists of several audio files. Guided imagery is an enhanced visualization technique that encourages users to imagine themselves smoke-free and capable of dealing with cravings.

In addition to sight imagery, the app prompts women to use all of their senses for a fully immersive experience. For example, users are guided through a farmers’ market, where they imagine seeing, smelling and tasting their favorite fruit or vegetable.

Users are prompted to use the guided imagery files daily. The app also allows users to access additional information and resources on quitting, eating well and being physically active; record achievement of their daily goals; and display how many days they have gone without smoking, the intensity of their cravings over time and how much money they have saved. Users receive daily motivational messages and tips for living a healthy lifestyle, and they get virtual awards for meeting their goals and engaging with the app.

"The reason we developed this as an Android app is twofold," Gordon said. "First, Android currently has the largest market share of smartphone operating systems. Second, we know that people with lower incomes are more likely to use Androids, and they are more likely to smoke."

See Me Smoke-Free was developed as part of a two-phase study. Participants are needed for the second phase of the study, which will evaluate the app. Additional information about the app and the research study is available at the website,

"A multi-behavioral intervention such as ours requires experts from a variety of fields," Gordon noted.

The study team includes Melanie Hingle, assistant professor with the Department of Nutritional Sciences, UA College of Agriculture and Life Sciences, and the Canyon Ranch Center for Prevention and Health Promotion at the UA Mel and Enid Zuckerman College of Public Health; Thienne Johnson, research associate with the Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering, UA College of Engineering, and the Department of Computer Science, UA College of Science; and Peter Giacobbi, associate professor with the College of Physical Activity and Sport Sciences and the School of Public Health at West Virginia University. Jim Cunningham, an epidemiologist with the UA Department of Family and Community Medicine, is the study’s methodologist and statistician.

See Me Smoke-Free is funded by a two-year, $366,400 National Cancer Institute grant.

Editor: dougcarrollWriter: Jane EriksonByline: Jane EriksonByline Affiliation: UA College of Medicine – TucsonHeader image: YesNo Image: Subheading: Guided imagery is used to help women resist the urge to light up while encouraging them to make healthful food choices and increase physical activity.Include in UANow: yesInclude in Olympic Coverage: noFeature on Olympic Page: noUANow Image: Includes video: 

Dressed for Success

Mon, 04/06/2015 - 3:53pm

What's a few days of wearing a tie or a skirt if it helps to set up the rest of your life?

University of Arizona students who participated in the recent Spring Career Days on campus didn't need to be persuaded. With more than 200 companies descending on campus for two days to recruit for internships and full-time positions, there was ample incentive. In fact, a "Dress for Success" fashion show put on by Dillard's drew more than 250 students — and even had a waiting list.

It was all part of a concerted effort by the Office of Career Services to position UA students for their next step.

"It's critically important for us to connect our students with (career) opportunities," said Eileen McGarry, executive director of career services and student engagement at the UA. 

Half of the employers, McGarry said, were from Arizona. But 26 other states also were represented.

"They're looking for broad-based skills, for communication skills and analytical skills," McGarry said, and an employer summit discussed those very things.

McGarry had three pointers for students who wanted to ace the test: Dress professionally, have a 30-second introduction at the ready, and show that you've done your homework on a prospective employer.

Video Thumbnail: Category(s): Campus NewsTeaching and StudentsYouTube Video:  Career Services Spring Fair Video of Career Services Spring Fair Feature Sticky: OffFeature on Front: NoMedium Summary: Employers descended on campus for two days of recruitment for internships and full-time positions, and the UA's Office of Career Services had all bases covered.UANow Image: Date of Publication: Monday, April 6, 2015Send to Never Settle Site: 0Includes video: The story include video