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UA to Establish Center for Mexican Studies

Thu, 06/18/2015 - 4:17pm

As part of Arizona Gov. Doug Ducey's inaugural visit to Mexico, University of Arizona President Ann Weaver Hart and the Universidad Nacional Autónoma de México, or UNAM, have signed a memorandum of understanding to establish a new Center for Mexican Studies at the UA.

Earlier this year, Hart announced that the Universidad Nacional Autónoma de México, which translates to the National Autonomous University of Mexico, had selected the UA to serve as the site of a branch center that would be focused on fostering collaborative research.

"The UNAM Center for Mexican Studies at the UA will be a unique expression of the depth of our relationship with one of Latin America's premier research institutions," Hart said.

UNAM is known as one of the top universities in Latin America for academic excellence. Its main campus is located in Mexico City, although it serves more than 345,000 students across its campuses throughout Mexico. Of that number, 110,000 are enrolled in an affiliated high school system.

This week's visit is Ducey's first to Mexico since taking office. During his visit, the governor also met with various officials and business leaders in an effort to identify ways to enhance economic and diplomatic relationships between Arizona and Mexico.

According to a study commissioned by the Arizona Office of Tourism and conducted by the UA Eller College of Management Economic and Business Research Center, visitors from Mexico contribute $7.3 million to Arizona's economy per day.

Since 2007, the UA has operated an office in Mexico City. It was created to help encourage collaboration between the University and businesses in Mexico. The UA's Office of Western Hemispheric Programs was created the same year and is dedicated to identifying collaborative opportunities between the University and agencies in Canada, Mexico and Latin America.

In addition to the UNAM Center of Mexican Studies, the UA has collaborated with multiple Mexican institutions on various projects. For example, a binational research consortium on arid lands was established in partnership between the UA's Mexico City office and the National University of Mexico. The consortium is funded by Mexico's National Council for Science and Technology, also known as CONACyT, the country's equivalent of the National Science Foundation.

Editor: dougcarrollByline Affiliation: University Relations - CommunicationsHeader image: YesNo Image: Subheading: The UNAM Center for Mexican Studies at the UA will be focused on fostering collaborative research.Include in UANow: yesInclude in Olympic Coverage: noFeature on Olympic Page: noUANow Image: Includes video: 

Celebrating Black History Every Day

Thu, 06/18/2015 - 2:05pm

What year was President Barack Obama's first inauguration? 2009.

What is the name of Jada Pinkett-Smith's band? Wicked Wisdom. 

In 1863, who issued the Emancipation Proclamation symbolically freeing all slaves? Abraham Lincoln. Two years later marked the beginning of Juneteenth, which is now the oldest known event established to commemorate the end of slavery in the U.S.

Kysha and D'Anna Mounia

These are the types of questions presented in the mobile app Quiztory, launched by University of Arizona alumna Kysha Mounia and her sister, D'Anna Mounia.

As the nation prepares to celebrate the 150th anniversary of Juneteenth, the Mounias are continuing their commitment to bolster educational resources that expand public knowledge about the contributions and achievements of African-Americans. In fact, "This Day in Quiztory," which will air during Juneteenth celebrations on June 19, will air on iHeartRadio with American actor Tom Wright narrating. The segment will be available online.

Quiztory, originally launched during Black History Month, is "a little bit of pop culture mixed with a little bit of history," Kysha said. The app, which tests what users know about African-Americans in music, politics, athletics, science and pop culture, is available for OS and Android mobile devices.

"We definitely benefited from launching the app during Black History Month, but it is our belief that the information we are providing should be considered important every day, not just one month per year," said Kysha, president of Creative Educational Products, who graduated from the UA in 1998 with a degree in communication. "We hope it will be used as a tool to help establish a connection between the youth of today and their history."

Through Creative Educational Products, launched in 2013, the Mounias also introduced "This Day in Quiztory," by which they share narratives about significant events in African-American history. They also have created the Quiztory Ambassador Program, engaging students, and have begun connecting with teachers across the nation to help them amplify their teachings on African-Americans.

Ultimately, the two are working to train people to be advocates for African-American history, Kysha said.

Kysha is a 16-year veteran in television production, working on documentary programs such as Fox Sports Net's "Beyond the Glory" and BET's "American Gangster." She is currently the supervising producer on the TV One series "Unsung" and its spin-off series "Unsung Hollywood," which has won four NAACP Image Awards.

D'Anna has spent more than 15 years working in digital media and marketing. She has managed several music artists and is currently serving the advertising and digital media departments for Premiere Networks' nationally syndicated shows, including "The Steve Harvey Morning Show," "On Air With Ryan Seacrest" and "On With Mario Lopez."

Photos courtesy of Kysha Mounia

Kysha Mounia is president of Creative Educational Products, Inc. She may be reached at 818-621-5482 or

Categories: Social Sciences and EducationThis is a Wildcat Corner feature: Images: Tags: AlumniEducationByline: Kysha Mounia |Editor: dougcarrollInclude in UANow: 0Date of Publication: Thursday, June 18, 2015Medium Summary: UA alumna Kysha Mounia has collaborated with her sister to expand educational resources across the U.S., focusing on the contributions of African-Americans. Feature on Front: NoShort Summary: UA alumna Kysha Mounia helped Creative Educational Products with a focus on student engagement. Send to Never Settle Site: 0UA in the News Spotlight: Includes video: 

New Operations Team for UA Presents

Thu, 06/18/2015 - 12:16pm

UA Presents, the University of Arizona's professional performing arts group, has contracted with the Nederlander Organization to oversee operations and marketing starting July 1.

Jory Hancock, dean of the UA's College of Fine Arts who also oversees UA Presents, said the move will enhance the organization's ability to focus on the season's programming and fundraising by supporting its staff with a proven management team.

"The Nederlander Organization and Broadway in Tucson general manager Lendre Kearns have extensive experience and a track record of success in presenting shows and reaching audiences. Under the UA Presents banner, our audiences will continue to enjoy world-class performing artists and a diverse array of artistic events. This new relationship gives UA Presents the best of both worlds — strong marketing and management combined with exciting programming," Hancock said.

Kearns will oversee day-to-day operations of UA Presents and all productions hosted in Centennial Hall. Broadway in Tucson has called Centennial Hall home for the past two years, presenting its programming in collaboration with UA Presents. In addition, UA Presents and Broadway in Tucson have undertaken several successful co-presentations, including "American Idiot," "Alton Brown" and "Carol Burnett."

"The UA Presents staff who support production, along with the front of house personnel, are truly the best in the business. It is a pleasure to work with the Centennial Hall team, knowing that artists will receive the best technical and production support possible and that audiences will be treated with respect and courtesy," Kearns said.

UA Presents has offered southern Arizona a diverse menu of performing arts and artists for more than 75 years. The Nederlander Organization is a Broadway producer of plays and musicals; owns and operates theaters in New York, London, Chicago and seven other cities: and presents Broadway tours in nine markets. It has been bringing Broadway national tours to Tucson since 2004.

Editor: dougcarrollByline Affiliation: University Relations — CommunicationsHeader image: YesNo Image: Subheading: The Nederlander Organization has "a track record of success," says Jory Hancock, dean of the UA's College of Fine Arts.Include in UANow: yesInclude in Olympic Coverage: noFeature on Olympic Page: noUANow Image: Includes video: 

A Bear Down Throwdown

Wed, 06/17/2015 - 5:47pm

There's no offseason for men's basketball at the University of Arizona, or at least a very short one, and this compilation of dunks from the 2014-2015 season will make you forget the scorching heat outside.

Video Thumbnail: Category(s): SportsYouTube Video:  University of Arizona Wildcats 2015 Dunk Fest Video of University of Arizona Wildcats 2015 Dunk Fest Feature Sticky: OffFeature on Front: NoMedium Summary: There's no basketball offseason at the UA — even the NBA champion Golden State Warriors have Wildcats — and this compilation of dunks from last season keeps the highlights coming.UANow Image: Date of Publication: Wednesday, June 17, 2015Send to Never Settle Site: 0Includes video: The story include video

Two From UA Appointed Regents' Professors

Wed, 06/17/2015 - 3:54pm

Two University of Arizona professors have received the highest honor bestowed on faculty in the Arizona state university system.

The appointment of Bruce Tabashnik and Julia Clancy-Smith as Regents’ Professors, approved recently by the Arizona Board of Regents, brings to 99 the UA’s number of Regents' Professors since the designation was created in 1987. The honor is reserved for faculty scholars who have achieved national and international distinction for their work.

In addition, Vicente Talanquer has been named as a University Distinguished Professor for his contributions to educational excellence and undergraduate education. Henrietta "Etta" Kralovec and Frans Tax have been named as University Distinguished Outreach Faculty for their sustained commitment to community and academic outreach.

Formal ceremonies will take place in the fall.

Regents’ Professors

Bruce Tabashnik

Bruce Tabashnik

Tabashnik, professor and head of entomology in the UA’s College of Agriculture and Life Sciences, has served as head of the Department of Entomology since 1996 and is a member of the BIO5 Institute. He previously was a faculty member at the University of Hawaii and earned his doctorate at Stanford University.

He has spent decades conducting pioneering research on strategies to delay insect resistance to proteins produced by the soil bacterium Bacillus thuringiensis (Bt) that kill some key insect pests but are not toxic to most other organisms, including humans and even most beneficial insects.

Tabashnik has served as an editorial board member for six scientific journals and provided more than 700 reviews of grant proposals and manuscripts for eight granting agencies and 82 journals. His funded extramural research grants total more than $9 million, and he has co-authored a patent licensed to a major corporation. 

Tabashnik was elected a fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Science in 2010 and a fellow of the Entomological Society of America in 2007, which also honored him with the Excellence in Integrated Pest Management Award in 1992.

Julia Clancy-Smith

Julia Clancy-Smith (Photo courtesy of Center for Contemporary Arab Studies, Georgetown University)

Clancy-Smith, an award-winning history professor, teaches about modern and early modern Africa and the Middle East.

She has received numerous fellowships and awards, including the National Humanities Center's Research Fellowship in North Carolina; a fellowship with the Institute for Advanced Study at Princeton University's School of Social Science; and a research fellowship with the Woodrow Wilson Research Center in Washington, D.C.

Clancy-Smith has authored and co-authored several award-winning books, including "The Modern Middle East and North Africa: A History in Documents," "Mediterraneans: North Africa and Europe in an Age of Migration, c. 1800-1900" and "Rebel and Saint: Muslim Notables, Populist Protest, Colonial Encounters (Algeria and Tunisia, 1800-1904)."

"Mediterraneans" won the 2011 French Colonial Historical Society Book Award and the 2011 Phi Alpha Theta History Honor Society Award.  Clancy-Smith also has published numerous journal articles, book chapters, encyclopedia entries, and reviews for books and films.

University Distinguished Professor

Vicente Talanquer

Vicente Talanquer

Talanquer’s research centers on the improvement of chemistry education and science teacher preparation.

Talanquer is co-principal investigator on the UA's grant for the STEM Undergraduate Education Initiative. In 2013, the UA was selected by the Association of American Universities as one of eight project sites funded by the Leona M. and Harry B. Helmsley Charitable Trust to usher in drastic improvements to instruction and learning in science, technology, engineering and mathematics, the STEM fields.

Talanquer has published more than 50 articles in peer-reviewed journals and 10 textbooks, four of which are used by elementary school science students throughout Mexico.

For his work, he has earned several awards and prizes, including the 2012 James Flack Norris Award for the Outstanding Teaching of Chemistry from the Northeastern Section of the American Chemical Society; the UA's Five Star Teaching Award in 2006; and the UA College of Science's Early Career Teaching Award in 2004.

University Distinguished Outreach Faculty

Henrietta "Etta" Kralovec

Henrietta "Etta" Kralovec

Kralovec is an associate professor of teacher education and director of the secondary education program at UA South.

In 2011, she received a $2.2 million Department of Education grant for the UA's Transition to Teaching program, which prepares STEM teachers for Title I schools in Arizona's Cochise and Santa Cruz counties. The teaching initiative is designed to encourage interested professionals in a shift toward a teaching career.

Kralovec has received numerous awards and honors, including a Fulbright Fellowship in 1996 to establish a teacher education program at Africa University in Zimbabwe. In 2014, she received a faculty travel grant from University South Foundation to support her travel to Finland, where she worked with educators to identify best practices to aid in students' academic success.

Kralovec's research interests include innovation within alternative teacher certification programs for schools along the U.S.-Mexican border and the impact of military service on learning to teach.

Frans Tax

Frans Tax

Tax is a professor of molecular and cellular biology in the School of Plant Sciences and a member of the BIO5 Institute. His research areas include cell and developmental biology, genetics and epigenetics, and genomics, bioinformatics and systems biology. 

Tax's research is focused on plant development, especially stem cells and their differentiation into specialized cells, as well as the application of developmental genetics to crop plants. To understand signaling events that take place in development, he analyzes the phenotypes of plants mutant for individual or multiple receptors. His lab has identified key roles for specific receptors during radial patterning in early embryogenesis, during the formation of lateral roots, in the formation of fruit organs from stem cells within the fruit, in the development of vascular tissues and in the process of cell elongation. In addition, Tax is interested in developing approaches to isolate mutants in these receptors to manipulate the architecture and physiological responses of crop plants.

Tax is the co-editor of "Receptor-like Kinases in Plants: From Development to Defense," published in 2012. He has a bachelor’s degree in zoology from the University of North Carolina and a Ph.D. in genetics from the University of Washington.

Editor: dougcarrollByline Affiliation: University Relations — CommunicationsHeader image: YesNo Image: Subheading: Entomologist Bruce Tabashnik and history professor Julia Clancy-Smith bring the University's total to 99 for nearly 30 years. In addition, Vicente Talanquer, Henrietta "Etta" Kralovec and Frans Tax have been named Distinguished Professors.Include in UANow: yesInclude in Olympic Coverage: noFeature on Olympic Page: noUANow Image: Includes video: 

Students Can Earn CALS Nutrition Minor Online

Tue, 06/16/2015 - 6:01pm

The University of Arizona College of Agriculture and Life Sciences is now offering online courses for its nutrition minor during each summer and winter session.

Over the course of more than one summer, a student can complete the required 18 units, the equivalent of six classes, from a list of 10 approved courses in the UA Department of Nutritional Sciences.

"The minor provides an opportunity for a student to learn more about a topic that permeates into many different disciplines, as well as everyday life," said Kelly Jackson, assistant professor in the UA Department of Nutritional Sciences.

Topics covered include principles of human nutrition in health and disease, nutrition and the life cycle, bioactive compounds and food additives, food safety, sports nutrition, and food and culture.

Minoring in nutrition can help students add breadth and depth to their majors or increase their overall skill sets. Common majors that pair well with a nutrition minor are in the public health or life sciences fields, such as veterinary science, physiology or biochemistry.

However, nutrition has the ability to be relevant to many fields. For example, a journalism student could use a nutrition minor to specialize in health and wellness writing for magazines, or a public health student could use the minor to go into community nutrition education.

"The nutrition principles presented in the minor can also be applied to the everyday lives of students and their families, making this a very practical minor," Jackson said.

Editor: dougcarrollWriter: Monique GarciaByline: Monique GarciaByline Affiliation: UA College of Agriculture and Life SciencesExtra Info: 

The nutrition program is tailored mostly for completion during summer and winter sessions. Only three of the 10 online courses approved for the minor are offered during regular fall and spring semesters. Anyone can take these online courses for credit through the UA Outreach College, but only degree-seeking UA students can declare nutrition as an actual minor. Current students do not need to meet with an adviser to declare a minor prior to registering for courses.

More information about the program is available online.


Students who are interested in the program can contact Michelle Mendoza at and Ashlee Linares-Gaffer at

Header image: YesNo Image: Subheading: The versatile minor can be added through online courses taken outside of the traditional fall and spring semesters. Include in UANow: yesInclude in Olympic Coverage: noFeature on Olympic Page: noIncludes video: 

We Must Tell the True Story of Native Americans

Tue, 06/16/2015 - 10:31am

The drive from Moline, Illinois, to Salem, Massachusetts, was much less leisurely than the trip from Tucson to Moline. My mother, sister Cydney and I piled into the car and had two days to make a 1,200-mile drive with threats of 60 mph winds and hail.

I thought about all of the "Indian stuff" I saw along the way, particularly place names that obviously have been borrowed from Native languages. I wondered about the depth to which the general population understands the origins of those place names — and if the general population acknowledges the peoples from whom those names derive.

We arrived safely in Salem the night before the first day of my Peabody Essex Museum (or PEM) Native American Fellowship orientation and had dinner with the three other fellows and the coordinators of our summer program.

The other fellows and I became fast friends — the kind of friends you intuitively know will have a long-lasting impact on your life.

Jordan Dresser, of the Northern Arapaho Tribe from Wyoming, already has been given three nicknames within our group. That is a very positive sign in Native communities, given that teasing is cultural currency.

The youngster of the group, Halena Kapuni-Reynolds (Kanaka Maoli), who is Native Hawaiian and from Hawai’i, has become a parental figure of sorts, making sure that everyone is fed and feels comfortable and welcome in any situation.

Lastly, there is Alex Nahwegahbow (Anishinaabe and Kanien’keha:ka) from Manitoulin Island in Ontario, Canada. Nahwegahbow almost feels like the twin I never had. From our personal tastes to our scholarly pursuits, we are kindred spirits.

On our first day of orientation, PEM staff welcomed us with a blessing by Elizabeth James Perry (Aquinnah Wampanoag) and Leah Hopkins (Niantic/Narragansett), who are representatives of local tribal nations. The two women honored us with gifts of greeting, inviting us to be guests on their homelands. In this gesture of gifting, there is a tacit agreement that we will uphold their standards of dignity and respect while we’re here.

In addition to receiving this warm welcome, PEM staff took us on tours of Salem's historic downtown and waterfront, and even went above and beyond to take us to pick up groceries and other necessities.

Throughout our orientation week, each of us had the privilege of sitting down and talking with Dan L. Monroe, the Rose-Marie and Eijk van Otterloo Director and chief executive officer of the Peabody Essex Museum, about our aspirations for our fellowship work. He imparted words of wisdom that will guide us in our time at PEM, which was founded in 1799.

At the end of our orientation week, we participated in our first of nine leadership workshop sessions that focus on professional development within museums, including sessions on effective communication, cultural interpretation and exhibit design.

We also began work in our assigned departments.

As the Curatorial Fellow in Native American Art and Culture, I have the honor of working with the esteemed Karen Kramer, PEM's curator of Native American Art and Culture. Like being able to work and live with Nahwegahbow, Kapuni-Reynolds and Dresser, working with Kramer already feels like a serendipitous and synchronous relationship.

At the conclusion of our orientation week, I reflected on the trip from Tucson to Salem. I contemplated the erasure of Native peoples from those landscapes, and the subsequent erasure of Native peoples from popular culture and mainstream consciousness. While that seems like quite the downer, it really isn't.

I sat there, smiling, confined to the car, anticipating that I would be going to a place to do work that says, "Hey, mainstream America, we're still here." That we as Native people — we, as four Native American fellows — can, and will, be able to talk about our cultural items and tell our own stories from our lived experiences. That I am going to a place where Native people can interpret those cultural items and stories for the benefit of the museum and for the world. And that we fellows can do that on our own terms.

And that is exactly what PEM is giving us the opportunity to do.

Photo: John de Dios/UANews

Ashley Tsosie-Mahieu is one of four students selected as a 2015 UANews student columnist. The columnist initiative was launched in June by UANews and provides students the opportunity to share insights about the work and research they will be doing over the summer in various parts of the U.S. and abroad. It is the UA's 100% Engagement initiative in action, and the experiences will prepare the students to be real-world ready upon graduation.

Categories: Social Sciences and EducationTeaching and StudentsThis is a Wildcat Corner feature: Images: Tags: StudentsStudent LifeByline: Ashley Tsosie-Mahieu, 2015 UANews Student Columnist |UANow Image: Editor: dougcarrollInclude in UANow: yesDate of Publication: Wednesday, June 17, 2015Medium Summary: As a Peabody Essex Museum fellow, UA graduate student Ashley Tsosie-Mahieu will have opportunities to discuss Native cultural items and narrate indigenous experiences.Feature on Front: YesShort Summary: Ashley Tsosie-Mahieu says the Native story must be reinterpreted accurately. Send to Never Settle Site: 0UA in the News Spotlight: Includes video: 

UA Initiative to Aid Large Brazilian City

Mon, 06/15/2015 - 2:31pm

The mayor of Brazil's fifth-largest city is turning to a familiar source for help with an array of urban challenges.

Roberto Cláudio Rodrigues Bezerra is only 39 — not even 10 years removed from his postgraduate studies at the University of Arizona — and he acknowledges that his hands are full in leading Fortaleza, the state capital of Ceará, located in northeastern Brazil.

Although Brazil has had a national health care system in place for nearly 30 years, Roberto Cláudio says resources have been lacking to improve its quality. One-fourth of his city's budget goes to health care and the pressures placed on it by a high crime rate, drug addiction and traffic safety problems. A recent measles outbreak also underscored the city's limitations.

Fast-growing Fortaleza, with a population of 2.6 million and 21 miles of coastline, is also Brazil's second-most inequitable city, and the gulf between rich and poor is widening. Fortaleza was one of the host cities for soccer's World Cup in 2014.

"We have to give priority to the poorest neighborhoods of the city," Roberto Cláudio said in a recent visit to the UA's Mel and Enid Zuckerman College of Public Health, from which he holds a master's degree in public health (2002) and a doctorate in epidemiology (2006).

"That's not magic. That takes time. A major priority is to improve the quality of life in the poorest neighborhoods of the city, and that takes a multidimensional approach.... We must destroy the Berlin Wall of shame that separates the rich city from the poor city."

Assistance is coming in the form of I3For, an initiative involving the University of Fortaleza, the city and the UA. The initiative will involve research, community development, an innovation ecosystem that connects to industry, and a partnership of the universities. Mike Proctor, the UA's vice president for global initiatives, has been working with Roberto Cláudio on the details.

"There are research projects and faculty (at the UA) with expertise and knowledge in areas of our interest," Roberto Cláudio said. "That will be part of the collaboration."

Roberto Cláudio, who has been in office for two and a half years, said the job of mayor "is a major honor but also a major responsbility." During his tenure, he said he has implemented policies and programs in education, infrastructure, the economy and areas of social concern. Although he originally had planned to be a doctor, he gravitated to public health while at the UA and then to public service upon his return to Brazil. He is a native of the country's northeastern region.

"I got involved (in politics) to defend what I had studied," he said. "Some progress has been made, but things had deteriorated so much. No one solves a local health care problem in four years."

Describing Fortaleza's challenges as "very profound," Roberto Cláudio said the initiative with the UA is unusual.

"It will be one of few international collaborations to address a city's problems," he said. "We are very hopeful about the outcomes."

Editor: dougcarrollByline Affiliation: University Relations — CommunicationsHeader image: YesNo Image: Subheading: Fast-growing Fortaleza, whose mayor is UA alumnus Roberto Cláudio Rodrigues Bezerra, will receive assistance directed by the University's Office of Global Initiatives.Include in UANow: yesInclude in Olympic Coverage: noFeature on Olympic Page: noUANow Image: Includes video: 

Students Serving Students

Sat, 06/13/2015 - 6:48pm

University Emergency Medical Services, or University EMS, serves the University of Arizona campus and its students, faculty, staff and visitors. Operations run seven days a week, 24 hours a day, during the fall and spring semesters.

University EMS, which began as a student club a few years ago, responds primarily on an EMS-equipped golf cart. The organization has members from all majors, ranging from physiology and nutrition to education and communications. All units responding to medical emergencies on campus consist of two Arizona-certified emergency medical technicians.

University EMS operations are based out of the Kaibab-Huachuca Residence Hall, where crews receive 911 call information from the UA Police Department communications center. On the scene, immediate basic emergency medical care is provided until the Tucson Fire Department or Southwest Ambulance arrives to further treat and transport the patient. Monthly continuing education courses are held and weekly mock drills are performed to keep members current on protocols.

University EMS also provides contract medical standby services at campus events and functions.

For more information, email

Video Thumbnail: Category(s): HealthTeaching and StudentsYouTube Video:  University EMS Video of University EMS Feature Sticky: OffFeature on Front: NoMedium Summary: Meet a crew from University EMS, which started as a club and now provides around-the-clock emergency medical services for the UA. UANow Image: Date of Publication: Monday, June 15, 2015Send to Never Settle Site: 0Includes video: The story include video

'Tough Phase' for Cotton Growers, UA Dean Says

Fri, 06/12/2015 - 12:07pm

Shane Burgess has an answer for those who say it’s time to drop cotton from Arizona’s "five C’s" for the demands it places on water resources.

Not so fast.

Although farmers planted more than 161,000 acres of cotton in Arizona in 2013 — the second-highest total for any crop in the state — irrigated farmland actually has decreased in recent decades with improvements in technology and crop engineering.

That’s not to say that the state’s cotton farmers aren’t concerned. Burgess, dean of the University of Arizona’s College of Agriculture and Life Sciences, was the keynote speaker at a recent conference of the Arizona Cotton Growers Association in Flagstaff and picked up on the farmers’ anxiety in the meeting’s one-word theme: "Survival."

"They’re going through a tough phase, but they’ve been through tough phases before," Burgess said. "They’re hoping the cycle will come back up."

Federal officials are saying Arizona’s water deliveries from the Colorado River via the Central Arizona Project may be cut as soon as next year. That doesn’t bode well for agriculture, which uses about 70 percent of the state’s water.

A recent story by the investigative website ProPublica, headlined "Holy Crop," took the position that federal dollars are propping up water-wasting Arizona cotton farmers.

However, Burgess said Gov. Doug Ducey got it right when Ducey said the state’s stewardship of water has been exceptional over the years.

"Water has been important (to Arizona) forever," Burgess said. "It has been the story since the Hoover Dam was built.

"It’s not an all-of-a-sudden problem. This is a well-managed issue in Arizona. But in California, it’s a problem."

The disappearance of the $17.1 billion that agriculture contributes to Arizona’s economy isn’t something residents should be rooting for, Burgess said. For example, Yuma County, where the UA has a strong Cooperative Extension presence, ranks in the top 0.5 percent of U.S. counties in total crop sales — and the top 0.1 percent in vegetable and melon sales and lettuce acreage.

But Arizona farmers are businesspeople first and growers second, Burgess said.

"Their business is land," he said. "They’ll produce whatever is the smartest thing for them. Sometimes that’s cotton. Other times it’s alfalfa, cattle or building houses. They’ll use (the land) for its highest and best use."

Burgess said Cooperative Extension, which has brought UA research into rural communities throughout the state for decades, plays a significant role in agriculture’s infrastructure.

"Agriculture is an industry that uses bio and information technologies," he said. "We take direct risks at the University (in research) that private industry can’t afford to take. If they pay off, industry picks them up, and this directly contributes to Arizona’s economic growth. No other Arizona university does this."

Editor: dougcarrollByline Affiliation: University Relations — CommunicationsHeader image: YesNo Image: Subheading: Shane Burgess says they're not water wasters, noting that irrigated farmland in Arizona actually has decreased in recent decades.Include in UANow: yesInclude in Olympic Coverage: noFeature on Olympic Page: noUANow Image: Includes video: 

UA Center Studies Climate-Civilization Link

Thu, 06/11/2015 - 5:31pm

How did long-gone peoples respond to changing environments in their homelands? How did catastrophic events impact human populations? What conditions allowed empires to rise and triggered their collapse, and what can today's societies learn about the future?

A new interdisciplinary research center bringing together faculty from the University of Arizona's School of Anthropology, Laboratory for Tree-Ring Research, Accelerator Mass Spectrometry Laboratory and Department of Geosciences is poised to shed light on how people in the Mediterranean — often referred to as the cradle of civilization — dealt with shifting weather patterns, deluges and droughts, and dearth and abundance.

The establishment of the Center for Mediterranean Archaeology and the Environment, or CMATE, builds on a legacy of more than 75 years of cross-disciplinary collaboration between the world's founding laboratory for dendrochronology and colleagues in the School of Anthropology (currently celebrating its centennial year), geosciences and other units at the UA. Dendrochronology is the science of dating wood based on its growth rings­.

The creation of CMATE was celebrated in a special joint issue of the journals Radiocarbon and Tree-Ring Research, both housed at the UA.

By combining different perspectives and methodologies for reconstructing the past, the goal is to assemble a continuous, high-resolution chronology of the Mediterranean region spanning multiple millennia. Such a chronology will help researchers gain a greater and more highly resolved picture of past human and environmental interactions in the cradle of Old World civilizations.

"In addition to improving our understanding of the development of Mediterranean civilizations, CMATE aims at improving and transforming the region into the world’s premier 'observatory' for the study of human-environment interactions in deep time," said CMATE director Steven Kuhn.

"Just as the present may provide a key to understanding the past, understanding the past may provide the key to future predictions," said Charlotte Pearson of the Laboratory for Tree-Ring Research, the associate director of CMATE, who also is affiliated with the School of Anthropology. "Why did some civilizations decline and some endure? How were past societies impacted by natural events such as droughts, forest fires, volcanic eruptions, tsunamis or earthquakes, and over what time frame? Those are the kinds of questions we want to answer."

Parallels between the Mediterranean and the American Southwest allow the CMATE scientists to apply decades of expertise in connecting tree-ring research to archaeology and climate research, according to Pearson. For example, both regions share the occasional appearance of droughts at critical moments in history, which needs investigation. Other aspects are very different.

"In the Mediterranean, we don't have trees like 'Prometheus,' bristlecone pines that are up to 5,000 years old, growing undisturbed in remote locations," Pearson said. "There, people have cultivated and populated the land, practiced agriculture, cut down trees, built structures, gone to war with each other and so forth. Therefore, the wood they left behind is disturbed. It's a cultural record of wood, so we have shorter sequences of tree rings with gaps for some critical periods that we are constantly working to fill."

Accordingly, scientists visualize the Mediterranean as a complex puzzle, and solving it requires the collaboration of several disciplines.

"We can get one part of the picture with tree-ring science, another with archaeology or geology, and another with radiocarbon dating," Pearson said. "CMATE brings together just that combination of expertise, knowledge and skills to form a bigger, better, composite image."

The UA experts contributing to the CMATE Special Issue are pioneering fresh chronometric approaches such as analyzing signatures of Earth's magnetic field recorded like timestamps in ancient fired ceramic structures (Eleni Hasaki in the School of Anthropology with collaborators from the University of Thessaloniki, Greece).

"In recent decades, our European colleagues have constructed extensive archaeomagnetic databases that facilitate the dating of fired ceramic artifacts, from metal furnaces to pottery kilns and bread ovens," Hasaki said. "They join forces with archaeologists to refine dates of artifacts and sites over wide chronological horizons. Closely-dated activities enrich our understanding of a variety of topics, from craft technologies to human interaction within social and commercial networks."

Others are applying radiocarbon dating to figure out that hackberries found in Neolithic trash heaps in Turkey were left behind there about 12,000 years ago (Jay Quade of the Department of Geosciences and Mary Stiner of the School of Anthropology).

By unlocking the stories hidden in the tree rings of wood that once was part of cargo ships and harbor pilings excavated in what today is the Turkish capital of Istanbul, associate research professor Tomasz Wazny of the Laboratory of Tree-Ring Research discovered that the wood was hauled in over large distances around the Black Sea.

Other tree-ring research professors, Ramzi Touchan and David Meko, are starting in the present and working back in time, reconstructing the first detailed histories of drought across the Mediterranean and North Africa over the last 2,000 years. Meanwhile, Valerie Trouet is investigating the regional and global forcing on Mediterranean climate. Just as in the Southwest today, drought is becoming a pressing issue in the Mediterranean. It also was a big issue in the past.

One such time was the so-called 4.2 kiloyear event — a period of unusual drought so named because it started about 4,200 years ago. It is the subject of the lead article in the special issue authored by Malcolm H. Wiener, an internationally acclaimed prehistorian and member of the CMATE steering committee who recently received the Gold Cross of the Order of Honor by the Hellenic Republic for his contribution to the study of Aegean prehistory.

"Around that time, the pyramid-building in Egypt ceased, and carvings show emaciated figures, hinting at a famine," Pearson said.

But the changes described by Wiener were not limited to the Mediterranean and Near East.

"China appears to have undergone major fluctuations in this broad general time period, although the dates are still somewhat uncertain," Wiener said. "Human history has been marked by major episodes of climate change, pandemics — perhaps climate-related — and human response including migrations, sometimes accompanied by independent innovations such as the widespread appearance of bronze weapons and of sailing vessels." 

Wiener currently is working on a publication on the collapse and revival of Mediterranean and Near Eastern societies at the end of the Bronze Age.

Said Pearson: "Much debate surrounds questions like whether climate really did cause the collapse of ancient empires. The further you go back in time, the fuzzier things become, and the only way we can get answers is to pull together lines of evidence from multiple disciplines and arrange them in a chronologic framework that is as precise and accurate as possible."

Editor: dougcarrollWriter: Daniel StolteByline: Daniel StolteByline Affiliation: University Relations – CommunicationsExtra Info: 

Read the story about "Prometheus," the world's oldest known tree, here.  

Header image: YesNo Image: Subheading: The Center for Mediterranean Archaeology and the Environment brings together experts from a variety of disciplines to solve some of the most pressing mysteries of how civilizations, past and present, cope with changes in their environment.Include in UANow: yesInclude in Olympic Coverage: noFeature on Olympic Page: noUANow Image: Includes video: 

For Father's Day, 5 Ways Dads Matter

Thu, 06/11/2015 - 4:29pm

The bond between mother and child has long been recognized as critical to children's development, but what about Dad?

Increasingly, scientists have turned their attention to the role of fathers in the family. It's a timely topic, as an estimated one-third of U.S. children grow up in homes without their biological dads, according to the U.S. Census Bureau.    

At the University of Arizona, researchers are investigating the role of fathers under the Fathers, Parenting and Families Initiative, a research and education effort within the Frances McClelland Institute for Children, Youth, and Families. The McClelland Institute is housed in the John and Doris Norton School of Family and Consumer Sciences, part of the University's College of Agriculture and Life Sciences.

One of the unique offerings born from the initiative is an innovative UA general education course dedicated entirely to the topic of fathering. Taught by husband and wife Dieter and Netzin Steklis, the class, called "Men, Fatherhood and Families: A Biocultural Perspective," looks at fatherhood across a variety of species and cultures and throughout different periods of history.

In honor of Father's Day this weekend, the Steklises and other campus researchers weighed in on a few of the ways dads can make a difference.  

They provide life lessons during playtime.

For more than 20 years, the Steklises have observed the behaviors of mountain gorillas in the wild and have drawn some compelling connections between gorilla and human dads, especially in the way that they play.

Dads in both species, the Steklises say, often engage in "rough and tumble" play with their little ones — think playful wrestling or tossing toddlers in the air. It turns out this may offer more than fun and giggles; the Steklises believe this style of play may help train children in emotional regulation.

"Emotional regulation is reacting in an appropriately emotional way — not over-responding or under-responding — and it takes learning," said Dieter Steklis, professor at UA South and a UA affiliate professor of psychology and adjunct professor of family studies and human development.

When dads roughhouse with their kids, it's in a controlled and safe environment, and although Dad is larger and stronger than the child, the child learns that he or she is not in danger and they don't need to overreact with fear in the situation, Dieter Steklis said.

They influence choices about sex.

Bruce Ellis, the John and Doris Norton Endowed Chair in Fathers, Parenting and Families, has conducted research on how fathers influence sexual behavior in their teenage daughters.

His published findings show that girls who receive lower-quality fathering tend to engage in more risky sexual behavior in adolescence, while higher-quality father-daughter relationships seem to be uniquely protective against risky sexual behavior.

In a current study, Ellis and Danielle Delpriore, a postdoctoral research associate in the Norton School, are looking into the topic even further, studying sisters whose parents divorced and whose father moved out of the home.

Although the research is still in progress, the expectation, Delpriore said, is that older sisters, who spent more time with a high-quality live-in father, may engage in fewer risky behaviors than their younger sisters.

They breed good fathers.

Research suggests that young boys who grow up with good fathers have a more positive attitude about fatherhood when they eventually become dads themselves.

Henry Gonzalez, a UA doctoral candidate in family studies and human development, studied this idea specifically in Hispanic families, and found that biological dads aren't the only men who can have this sort of impact.

Gonzalez found that the presence of an involved biological father or a strong father figure — such as a grandfather, uncle or godfather — influences how Hispanic boys think about fathering when they grow into adults, making it more likely that they will become engaged fathers themselves.

"The American family structure is changing, so we should account for different types of men other than biological fathers helping to raise a child," Gonzalez said.

Gonzalez presented the findings in Philadelphia earlier this year at the biannual meeting of the Society for Research in Child Development, along with Melissa Barnett, UA associate professor of family studies and human development.

They support Mom.

There's no question that being a parent is a daunting job, especially for those who must do it alone.

An involved father not only has the potential to positively impact a child but also to help relieve the burden on the mother, contributing to her happiness, well-being and ability to be a better and more balanced parent herself.

"We know becoming parents is highly stressful, and we know the quality of parenting varies by the quality of the parents' relationship," said Netzin Steklis, a lecturer in family and consumer sciences. "The first way you can help a child have good developmental setting is by having a good quality relationship that includes supportive co-parenting."

Which leads to the next way that dads matter.

They are relationship role models.

Healthy mother-father relationships can set a positive example for young children as they prepare to join social settings themselves, according to research.

Dads are just one half of the equation, of course, but they are an important one, researchers say, as children observe and emulate their parents' behaviors, whether it's on the playground, in the classroom or in their own romantic relationships in the future.

"It can affect their social relationships — how they get along with peers and how they treat the opposite sex," Netzin Steklis said.

Editor: dougcarrollWriter: Alexis BlueByline: Alexis BlueByline Affiliation: University Relations - CommunicationsHeader image: YesNo Image: Subheading: UA researchers weigh in on how dads can make a difference, from imparting life lessons to serving as role models.Include in UANow: yesInclude in Olympic Coverage: noFeature on Olympic Page: noUANow Image: Includes video: 

UA Grad Leads STEM Teaching Fellows

Thu, 06/11/2015 - 11:58am

Lisa Kist, who earned her master's degree from the University of Arizona College of Education's Teachers in Industry in 2012, leads a team of teachers from Tucson's Gridley Middle School that has been selected to be part of the inaugural Trustey STEM Teaching Fellows.

The Trustey Family STEM Teaching Fellows is a nationally competitive program offered by the University of Notre Dame Center for STEM Education to improve the quality of science, technology, engineering and mathematics instruction and learning.

Ronald W. Marx, dean of the College of Education, lauded the work of Kist, now a teacher at Gridley, and April Knippen, a professional development participant who works with Kist at Gridley.

"They have used their connections with industry afforded by their studies to help Gridley develop a truly outstanding STEM education program," Marx said. "Notre Dame's selection of the Gridley team members as Trustey STEM Teaching Fellows is recognition of the national leadership that we are developing in southern Arizona in STEM education."

The team of Gridley teachers was chosen as Trustey STEM Teaching Fellows as part of a cohort consisting of 10 school teams and 35 teachers, selected from eight states across the nation.

"Your cohort represents a wide range of contexts, experiences and student populations," Matthew Kloser, director of the Notre Dame Center for STEM Education, wrote in a letter announcing the honor.

Trustey STEM Teaching Fellows receive paid travel, lodging and meal expenses for summer institutes and retreats, along with a $6,000 stipend. Fellows receive 100 hours of professional development and training in STEM teaching, learning, assessment and leadership. The group also has access to content-specific instructional coaching.

Teachers in Industry, a partnership with Tucson Values Teachers, combines paid summer industry work experiences for STEM teachers in local businesses with either a master's degree in education or professional development credits. For three summers, teachers are hired by local STEM-related businesses and paid at industry levels for their work. 

"The teachers bring their real-world experiences back into their classrooms while building in-depth and practical knowledge of the workplace," said Julia Olsen, director of Teachers in Industry, which is available in southern Arizona, the Phoenix area and via distance access for teachers in rural areas.

Teachers in Industry recently was identified by Change the Equation, a national group of 100 CEOs, as one of the leading STEM education programs in the nation.

Colleen Niccum, a Tucson Values Teachers board member, also lauded the work of Kist and Knippen.

"Lisa and April best exemplify how both schools and businesses benefit from a program like Teachers in Industry,” said Niccum, a retired Raytheon executive who helped create the Teachers in Industry program.

"As a result of her summer work experience, Lisa brought virtual design technology from Raytheon into a new virtual reality classroom, which inspires students to pursue career paths that could lead them to jobs at Raytheon or other high-tech companies — exactly the result we hope to achieve with STEM education programs."

Editor: dougcarrollByline Affiliation: UA College of EducationExtra Info: 

For more information about the Teachers in Industry program, contact director Julia Olsen at or 520-621-5682. For more information about Tucson Values Teachers, contact Marian Salzman, the executive chair, at 520-327-7619 or 646-361-1837.

Header image: YesNo Image: Subheading: Led by alumnae Lisa Kist, a team of teachers from Tucson's Gridley Middle School has been selected to be part of the inaugural Trustey STEM Teaching Fellows. Include in UANow: yesInclude in Olympic Coverage: noFeature on Olympic Page: noIncludes video: 

Dusty Secrets Could Help Asthma Sufferers

Wed, 06/10/2015 - 4:39pm

Researchers in the University of Arizona's BIO5 Institute have entered into a collaboration with Johnson & Johnson Consumer & Personal Products and Janssen Biotech Inc. to leverage foundational discovery research aimed at determining environmental factors that underlie asthma and allergies.

The project's goal is to identify compounds present in dust in the farm environment that may be protective against asthma. Findings from this study could lead to the development of medicines to prevent the disease.

While asthma is known to have a genetic component, the recent dramatic increase in its prevalence across westernized countries cannot be due to this factor alone, suggesting that environment plays a major role. Asthma, the most prevalent childhood disease, affects more than 278 million people worldwide and predisposes individuals to a range of serious consequences later in life. Yet, current approved therapies address only symptoms and do not halt disease progression.

"This important study seeks to determine which environmental factors predispose for — or protect against — respiratory diseases like asthma," said Dr. Fernando Martinez, UA Regents’ Professor of Pediatrics and director of both the BIO5 Institute and the Arizona Respiratory Center. "As a result, we will know which exposures ought to be avoided, and which natural environmental products could be transformed into medicines that promote lung health and prevent asthma."

Principal investigators on the study include Martinez, as well as Dr. Donata Vercelli, professor of cellular and molecular medicine in the UA College of Medicine, and Shane Snyder, professor of chemical and environmental engineering, who holds joint appointments in the UA Colleges of Agriculture and Life Sciences and Public Health. All are BIO5 members.

The critical nature of early childhood environmental exposures in asthma development has been well documented in previous studies that revealed strong protection against asthma in children raised on traditional animal farms in Alpine Europe and in the United States. Children exposed to farm life early on, specifically those coming in contact with livestock, hay and silage, show a much lower prevalence of asthma (1.4 percent) compared with almost 12 percent among children from non-farming environments.

Recent studies by Martinez, Vercelli and collaborators showed that similar differences in asthma prevalence are found in two unique U.S. farming populations, the Indiana Amish and the South Dakota Hutterites. While both communities share a lifestyle known to affect asthma risk, the Amish live on single-family traditional farms and use horses for work and transportation, whereas the Hutterites live on large, communal farms and embrace modern farming technology. Interestingly, the percentage of Amish children suffering from asthma is much lower (5.2 percent) than the 15 percent of Hutterite children.

In collaboration with Johnson & Johnson Consumer & Personal Products and Janssen immunology scientists, the UA researchers will conduct studies using dust samples obtained from Amish and Hutterite communities, with the aim of identifying which specific compounds may be protective against asthma or allergies.

The team is uniquely poised to tackle this study. Its work began in 2012, when collaborators Dr. Mark Holbreich in Indianapolis and Carole Ober at the University of Chicago collected airborne house dust samples in Amish and Hutterite homes. Studies using a mouse model of asthma that was developed in Vercelli's lab then revealed that inhalation of Amish dust extracts was sufficient to strongly protect the mice from asthma-like changes in the lungs. Even more striking, administration of Amish dust extracts suppressed genes that underpin allergic lung inflammation, whereas gene activity in mice exposed to Hutterite dust remained unchanged.

"Although we don't know what substances in dust are responsible for these effects, it is likely that it is not a single compound," Vercelli said. "Rather, we expect a complex mix, because the effects we see are extremely pronounced."

One of the goals of the collaboration is to dissect the biological responses triggered by exposure to the "protective" compounds in dust to learn what the mechanisms are, so they can inform the development of new therapies, she said. Although too early to tell at this stage, possible findings include agents that protect against existing asthma and agents that prevent asthma.

"What we see in reality in the farming population is prevention," Vercelli said. "It's not like they develop asthma, and once they have it, it gets milder. They just never get it.

"We are hoping to find a protective agent, and whether this is something that can also be used to treat existing asthma, we have to see."

While studies have shown that asthma begins early in life, data also suggest that environmental exposure is probably important throughout life, Vercelli explained. "There is something to be said for maintaining that environmental pressure. This has not been studied very carefully, and it is is something we are going to learn from this study."

The study hinges on the team's interdisciplinary expertise and technology, with Vercelli and Martinez focusing on the clinical aspects and Snyder bringing to the table technology and expertise in analyzing particulates and dust.

"Finding the links between genetic disposition and environmental triggers makes the pairing of clinical practice and basic research all the more important," Martinez said. "Interdisciplinary, translation-minded entities like the BIO5 Institute and the Arizona Respiratory Center encourage colleagues from different backgrounds to collaborate on ideas and protocols that address both scientific and clinical applications. The UA is focused on creating the type of environment, facilities and collaborations needed to make outcome-based research a reality."

Johnson & Johnson Innovation, LLC will highlight the collaboration as one of its new alliances with life science companies and research institutions around the globe to explore early-stage innovation just ahead of the BIO International Convention, to be held June 15-18 in Philadelphia.

Editor: dougcarrollWriter: Daniel StolteByline: Daniel StolteByline Affiliation: University Relations – CommunicationsHeader image: YesNo Image: Subheading: In the first study of its kind, researchers in the UA's BIO5 Institute have set out to identify compounds in dust samples from Amish farming communities that could prevent asthma.Include in UANow: yesInclude in Olympic Coverage: noFeature on Olympic Page: noUANow Image: Includes video: 

Fellow Prepares for 'Best Decade' of Life

Wed, 06/10/2015 - 10:58am

Photo: John de Dios/UANews

Yá’át’ééh! Shi éí Ashley Tsosie-Mahieu yinishyé. Honágháahnii eí nishłį dóó biligáana báshíshchíín. Áádóó Ashiihi éí da shicheii dóó biligáana éí da shinálí. 

Hello! My name is Ashley Tsosie-Mahieu. I am One-Who-Walks-Around Clan born for White Man (specifically Belgians and Croatians). My maternal grandfather is Salt Clan and my paternal grandfather is of the White Man (specifically Belgians).

The above is how Dinè (Navajo) people introduce ourselves in Dinè bizaad, the Navajo language, and is a way for Navajos to identify our relationships to others based upon our clan system. Navajo culture is matrilineal, so my first clan is my mother's clan passed down from her mother, and so on. My clans are how I identify myself in relation to my family, and they are something that can never change about me as a person.

In the academic world, I am a doctoral student in the Department of American Indian Studies with a concentration in American Indian education. I am also working toward a certification in higher education.

During the 2014-2015 academic year, I had the pleasure of working at the Arizona State Museum as a graduate research assistant in three divisions: American Indian relations, education and exhibits. My experience at the museum directly led me to an incredible summer opportunity at the Peabody Essex Museum in Salem, Massachusetts. Out of a highly competitive application process, I was selected to be the Curatorial Fellow in Native American Art and Culture.

In addition to having the privilege of earning this prestigious fellowship, I also was able to take this opportunity to drive cross-country from Tucson to Salem with my sister, Cydney, to visit both sides of our family. Cydney and I left Tucson just as the Old Pueblo was approaching uncomfortably warm temperatures. After winding our way through the majestic White Mountains and Salt River Canyon, we made our way to Dinè Bikèyah, the Navajo Nation, to visit our relatives.

Once we arrived on Navajo lands, John Denver's "Country Roads" came on the radio. I teared up reminiscing about the numerous summers my mom, sister and I drove from the opposite direction — from Illinois to Arizona — and my mom would play that song on cassette or CD the moment the Rocky Mountains came into view. It's a song that will forever conjure feelings of going home, whether that home is Dinè Bikèyah, Illinois, Tucson or elsewhere. 

Although Cydney and I were only on the Navajo Nation for a short 24-hour visit, we hiked down Canyon de Chelly in Chinle, Arizona, with our cousins and had lunch with our grandparents, Nelson and Rosalie Tsosie.

As we were about to leave town, Papa Tsosie left us with wise words as he always does, explaining to his "million-dollar grandchildren" the importance of Navajo kinship systems, what it means to be Honágháahnii and that we should always have a positive attitude and never feel sorry for ourselves, regardless of our circumstances.

We left Many Farms, Arizona, with those words in mind and drove through southern Colorado and the snow-capped tops of Wolf Creek Pass late into the night, finally seeking sanctuary in Pueblo, Colorado. We were able to enjoy a five-mile run along the Arkansas River and a boat cruise along the Pueblo Riverwalk before the final push to Moline, Illinois, where both of our parents and the majority of our father's side of the family reside.

During our four days in Moline, my sister and I spent most of our time with our parents and other family members. I celebrated my 30th birthday surrounded by my father's side of the family. It was the perfect introduction to what I anticipate will be the best decade of my life. And it's all beginning with a remarkable journey to the East Coast.

Stay tuned for the next part of my trip that details my travels from Illinois to Massachusetts, orientation to PEM, and meeting the three other PEM Native American Fellows.

Ashley Tsosie-Mahieu is one of four students selected as a 2015 UANews student columnist. The columnist initiative was launched in June by UANews and provides students the opportunity to share insights about the work and research they will be doing over the summer in various parts of the United States and abroad. It is the UA's 100% Engagement initiative in action, and the experiences will prepare the students to be real-world ready upon graduation.

Categories: Teaching and StudentsThis is a Wildcat Corner feature: Images: Tags: StudentsStudent LifeEducationByline: Ashley Tsosie-Mahieu, 2015 UANews Student Columnist |Editor: dougcarrollInclude in UANow: 0Date of Publication: Wednesday, June 10, 2015Medium Summary: Ashley Tsosie-Mahieu is serving as the Curatorial Fellow in Native American Art and Culture at the Peabody Essex Museum in Salem, Massachusetts.Feature on Front: NoShort Summary: Ashley Tsosie-Mahieu is a fellow at the Peabody Essex Museum in Salem, Massachusetts.Send to Never Settle Site: 0UA in the News Spotlight: Includes video: 

Startup Aspirant Combines Business, Aerospace Engineering

Wed, 06/10/2015 - 10:39am

Photo courtesy of Andrew Granatstein

As my fourth and final year of undergraduate studies fast approaches, I am becoming increasingly aware that attending college at the University of Arizona was the best decision I made during my first 20 years of life.

I came out of high school knowing exactly what I wanted to do after college and what I wanted to study, but my path toward those goals has constantly adapted. My goal has always been to start my own private space corporation and to make my mark on this world by taking humanity to other worlds. This point in history is the perfect time to do just that.

With creative minds like Elon Musk, Richard Branson and Jeff Bezos — to name a few — innovative space companies are popping up all over the world and injecting momentum into the blossoming industry that is the private space sector. To join these titans in the industry, I need to gain a unique set of skills, both technical and business-related, in order to understand the ins-and-outs of space travel technologies and subsequently take these technologies to the international (and perhaps someday interplanetary) market.

This summer, I will be interning at Aztera, a Tucson-based technology development company. I will start building the unique skill sets of experiences and know-how that are necessary to succeed in the technology startup world.

But let me back up a few steps.

I grew up in Wenatchee, Washington, a unique town also known as the "Apple Capital of the World" because of its abundance of orchards and impact on the tree fruit industry. My free time was spent boating and kayaking on the beautiful lakes and rivers in the area, snowboarding in the mountains and over the ridges, and playing sports.

In high school, I discovered an affinity for math and physics, and I eventually fell in love with the concept of outer space, the final frontier. When searching for colleges, I made it a priority to apply to schools where I could escape the perennial gray winters while taking advantage of unique opportunities and a top-tier education to reach my goals.

The UA stole my heart as soon as I visited campus. Deciding to attend school out of state was a very easy decision with regards to personal growth, but also an extremely emotional decision with regards to leaving my home scenery, close friends and loving family.

I knew I wanted to major in aerospace engineering in the Honors College and I was pre-admitted to both when deciding to attend the UA on scholarship. During my freshman year, I quickly realized I wanted to continue taking post-required math classes, so I signed up for the minor in mathematics. Then, during my sophomore year, I further realized that I might not want to be an engineer for my entire career. I discovered that while I was studying aerospace engineering to garner the technical background necessary to launch a space company, I needed to supplement that with strong business acumen.

Luckily for me, the UA has one of the most prestigious entrepreneurship programs in the country in the McGuire Entrepreneurship Program. I was admitted for my junior year. Through the program, I went from zero business knowledge to being the general manager of my team's water monitoring and conservation company, H2knOw. I gained skills in management, financial modeling, marketing, writing a business plan, leadership and networking to go along with my "rocket science" background.

The program taught me the skills necessary for the next steps of my journey: interning at Aztera and working on my co-founded venture, H2knOw.

This summer, I will be working closely with other startup ventures that Aztera is managing and developing by helping to take new, proprietary technology to the market and using existing technology in original, innovative ways. I will get to work with technologies as diverse as unmanned aerial vehicles and solar energy, and in industries such as optics and digital marketing. I also will be pushing the product development of H2knOw's first viable product so that we can apply for patents and approach investors and potential customers.

During these next two months, I will get to share my experiences with you and hopefully serve up a hot plate of inspiration along the way.

Andrew Granatstein is one of four students selected as a 2015 UANews student columnist. The columnist initiative was launched in June by UANews and provides students the opportunity to share insights about the work and research they will be doing over the summer in various parts of the United States and abroad. It's the UA's 100% Engagement in action, and the students' experiences will prepare them to be real-world ready upon graduation.

Categories: Campus NewsTeaching and StudentsThis is a Wildcat Corner feature: Images: Tags: StudentsStudent LifeEducationByline: Andrew Granatstein, 2015 UANews Student Columnist |Editor: dougcarrollInclude in UANow: 0Date of Publication: Wednesday, June 10, 2015Medium Summary: Andrew Granatstein shares why he chose to study at the UA and what he hopes to gain from working this summer for a Tucson-based technology development company. Feature on Front: NoShort Summary: Andrew Granatstein will work this summer with a technology development company. Send to Never Settle Site: 0UA in the News Spotlight: Includes video: 

Measuring 'Hearing Flexibility'

Tue, 06/09/2015 - 6:47pm

I am fascinated by the act of communicating with speech. 

I have an idea in my head and I want to get it into your head, so I make a bunch of weird movements with my mouth in order to cause a pattern of changes in the air pressure around my head. These changes flow toward you on a wave and result in minute movements of molecules sitting in your ear canal. These movements result in vibrations of the ear drum, the ossicles (tiny bones in the ear that you may have learned as the hammer, anvil and stirrup), then the basilar membrane and finally the smallest of movements of little hairs (stereocilia) that lead to the firing of auditory nerve fibers. 

Then your brain has to decode these neural responses into the idea that was in my head.

This is an amazingly complicated process, yet one that occurs with such ease it can become easily taken for granted.

Of course, there are times when it becomes apparent how difficult the task of communication actually is, such as when there is substantial background noise (as in a restaurant) or if the speaker has a strong accent. 

Listeners appear to differ substantially in their ability to understand speech in these challenging conditions. 

Of course, some individuals have even greater obstacles to understanding speech, such as profound hearing loss. 

One of the marvels of modern medicine has been the development of the cochlear implant — a bionic ear — that can be used by those individuals with deafness or a profound hearing loss. The bionic ear receives sounds from the surrounding environment through an external microphone and transfers them directly to the auditory nerve as electrical impulses. The result is far from clear speech, akin to a harsh whisper. 

While the bionic ear has helped many people, there also are substantial differences in how well people perform listening to speech through these devices. This leaves one to wonder why there are such large individual differences in people's abilities to understand speech in challenging listening situations, whether they have normal or impaired hearing.

My dissertation research focuses directly on this question of explaining the variation in people's ability to understand degraded speech. In particular, I have used a simulation of the sound that comes from a cochlear implant to degrade speech and present it to individuals with normal hearing. 

This allows me to look at variability in performance without any differences in hearing ability or possible co-existing neural problems.

My hypothesis is that these differences in speech performance are related to our general ability to shift attention to aspects of sound that are reliable in a particular listening environment.  The proposal is that this ability varies in the human population and people who are high in this "hearing flexibility" will be better at dealing with speech in noise, foreign accents, rapid speakers, and … the degraded sounds from the bionic ear.

We currently do not have a standard way of measuring "hearing flexibility." That is one of my goals for my dissertation and the work that will follow my hopefully successful defense of the dissertation.

Such a measure may prove to be useful for predicting outcomes for the use of hearing aids and cochlear implants. In addition, it will begin to shed light on how all of us manage to comprehend each other most of the time despite the innumerable challenges of communicating with sound.

Kathy Carbonell is a doctoral candidate in the UA's Department of Speech, Language and Hearing Sciences. Carbonell's dissertation co-chairs are Huanping Dai, an associate professor in the Department of Speech, Language and Hearing Sciences, and Andy Wedel, an associate professor in the Department of Linguistics. Carbonell anticipates that she will complete her program at the UA in December 2015. After graduation, she plans to continue developing her current line of research and pursue either a postdoctoral position or an academic position that would enable her to teach.  

Photography: Beatriz Verdugo/UANews

Categories: Science and TechnologySocial Sciences and EducationTeaching and StudentsThis is a Wildcat Corner feature: Images: Tags: StudentsStudent LifeResearchEducationByline: Kathy Carbonell, UA's Department of Speech, Language, and Hearing Sciences |UANow Image: Editor: dougcarrollInclude in UANow: 0Date of Publication: Friday, June 12, 2015Medium Summary: Cochlear implants are examples of bionic ears, says Kathy Carbonell, a doctoral student in the UA Department of Speech, Language and Hearing Sciences. Carbonell intends to inform future research on how people are able to understand speech.Feature on Front: NoShort Summary: UA doctoral student Kathy Carbonell studies how people are able to understand speech. Send to Never Settle Site: 0UA in the News Spotlight: Includes video: 

4 Students Selected as UANews Columnists

Tue, 06/09/2015 - 3:39pm
    Andrew Granatstein is serving as an intern this summer with Tucson-based Aztera, a technology development company. (Photo: John de Dios/UANews)   Elizabeth Sutton is a junior in the UA School of Dance. She will attend two summer intensives in the U.S. (Photo courtesy of Elizabeth Sutton)   Ashley Tsosie-Mahieu was selected as part of a fellowship with the Peabody Essex Museum in Massachusetts. (Photo: John de Dios/UANews)   Leishara Ward with her children, Zawadi Ng'ang'a (right) and Devante Mungai. (Photo: John de Dios/UANews)  

To amplify student voices and share the University of Arizona experience with a broad audience, four students have been selected to participate in a new columnist initiative during the summer.

The UANews Student Columnist initiative will provide a platform for undergraduate and graduate students to share their summer experiences working and conducting research.

Students applied to serve as columnists and were selected through a competitive process. Applicants were required to be in good academic standing and have an internship, research position, training or other work solidified at least through the summer of 2015. The four finalists were selected based on their academic success and future promise.

The selection committee members were:

  • Pete Brown, director of communications for the College of Engineering.
  • La Monica Everett-Haynes, senior communications manager for University Relations, Communications.
  • Lisa Romero, senior director of communications and public affairs for the BIO5 Institute.
  • Paul Tumarkin, marketing and communications manager for Tech Launch Arizona.

Members of the first cohort of UANews student columnists are:

Andrew Granatstein

Granatstein, an Honors College student studying aerospace engineering, intends to one day launch his own private space corporation.

Granatstein will spend the summer serving as a business associate intern for Aztera, a technology development company that worked with the UA's Tech Launch Arizona to expand TLA's Wheelhouse Arizona, a network of business and product experts from a variety of industries. Tucson-based Aztera offers solutions in technology development, prototyping, manufacturing, equipment testing, and the commercialization of inventions and discoveries.

Granatstein is also a student in the McGuire Entrepreneurship Program, where he is developing skills in management, financial modeling, marketing and other competencies, which he said complement his background in engineering.

"At the culmination of my senior year, I will receive my Bachelor of Science in aerospace engineering as well as the irreplaceable, non-quantifiable education I received in entrepreneurship from the Eller College of Management," he said.

Elizabeth Sutton

Sutton is a junior in the UA School of Dance, one of the top dance programs in the country. Also, she is a communications major who is studying business administration.

"I have enjoyed every second of my experience at the UA, and plan to make the most of the two years I have left," Sutton said.

Prior to her time at the UA, Sutton participated in dance competitions and in numerous stage performances, including the WNBA Sparks halftime show, the Power of Youth and Dancescape in Los Angeles. She also has spent several summers training with renowned choreographers at various summer intensives, including the California State Summer School for the Arts, SoulEscape, Hubbard Street Dance Chicago and River North Dance Chicago. 

This summer, Sutton will complete two intensives, which are rigorous, immersive training programs.

First, she will attend the Perry-Mansfield summer intensive in Steamboat Springs, Colorado. The premier training organization offers competitive programs, drawing dancers from across the U.S. and abroad.

Sutton then will attend the Hubbard Street Dance Chicago summer intensive in Chicago. The preparatory program is designed for pre-professional and early-career dancers.

Ashley Tsosie-Mahieu

Tsosie-Mahieu (Navajo) is a doctoral candidate in the American Indian Studies program.

She is one of four fellows to be selected to work with the Peabody Essex Museum in Massachusetts, and she will serve as the Curatorial Fellow in Native American Art and Culture, working closely with Karen Kramer, the curator of Native American art and culture.

Living with other fellows at Salem State University during the summer, Tsosie-Mahieu will work on forthcoming Native American exhibits and programs. She also will conduct research and participate in outreach under the Native American Graves Protections and Repatriation Act.

The two main exhibits with which she will assist are "Native Fashion Now," a traveling exhibit of Native American fashion from the 1950s to the present, and an exhibit on the late T.C. Cannon (Kiowa/Caddo), an influential Native artist of the 1960s and '70s. Both exhibits will debut at the museum at the end of the year. 

Tsosie-Mahieu also will visit other museums in the region, including those in Boston and New York.

Leishara Ward

Ward is in the Masters in Public Administration program in the in the School of Government and Public Policy and also working toward a certificate in collaborative governance.

With more than 11 years of professional experience working in government, both in the U.S. and in Africa, Ward has a background in regional development. She is also a Peace Corps Coverdell Fellow, having volunteered in Kenya. 

This summer, Ward will serve as a public administration intern with the U.S. Agency for International Development. She will be stationed in Tanzania, working with the U.S. Embassy. During her time abroad, Ward will help the Tanzania office establish a monitoring and evaluation program for its development projects.  

"After spending 2.5 years as a Peace Corps volunteer in Kenya, one year processing refugees for the U.S. Resettlement Program in Africa and nine years as a regional transportation planner with the state of California, I decided it was time to go back to school," Ward said.

The first columns are available online:

The student columns will appear on the UANews blog,, through mid-August.

Editor: dougcarrollByline Affiliation: University Relations - CommunicationsHeader image: YesNo Image: Subheading: Four UA students, representing the UA's 100% Engagement initiative, will spend the summer writing about their work with a technology development company, the Peabody Essex Museum in Massachusetts, summer initiatives with dance companies and U.S. Agency for International Development in Tanzania.Include in UANow: yesInclude in Olympic Coverage: noFeature on Olympic Page: noUANow Image: Includes video: 

Cinnamon Component Prevents Colorectal Cancer in Mice

Mon, 06/08/2015 - 7:21pm

Research conducted at the University of Arizona College of Pharmacy and the UA Cancer Center indicates that a compound derived from cinnamon is a potent inhibitor of colorectal cancer. 

Associate professor Georg Wondrak and professor Donna Zhang, both of the College of Pharmacy's Department of Pharmacology and Toxicology, recently completed a study in which they proved that adding cinnamaldehyde — the compound that gives cinnamon its distinctive flavor and smell — to the diet of mice protected the mice against colorectal cancer. In response to cinnamaldehyde, the animals’ cells had acquired the ability to protect themselves against exposure to a carcinogen through detoxification and repair. 

"This is a significant finding," said Zhang, who, along with Wondrak, is a member of the UA Cancer Center. "Because colorectal cancer is aggressive and associated with poor prognoses, there is an urgent need to develop more effective strategies against this disease." 

Added Wondrak: "Given cinnamon’s important status as the third most consumed spice in the world, there’s relatively little research on its potential health benefits. If we can ascertain the positive effects of cinnamon, we would like to leverage this opportunity to potentially improve the health of people around the globe."

Wondrak's and Zhang’s study, "Nrf2-Dependent Suppression of Azoxymethane/Dextrane Sulfate Sodium-Induced Colon Carcinogenesis by the Cinnamon-Derived Dietary Factor Cinnamaldehyde," has been published online and will appear in a print issue of Cancer Prevention Research. 

A story about the cinnamaldehyde study appears on the College of Pharmacy’s website. 

The next step in the research is to test whether cinnamon, as opposed to cinnamaldehyde, prevents cancer using this same cancer model. Because cinnamon is a common food additive already considered safe — it’s not a synthetic, novel drug — a study in humans may not be too far off. 

Wondrak outlined questions to investigate going forward: "Can cinnamon do it, now that we know pure cinnamaldehyde can? And can we use cinnamaldehyde or cinnamon as a weapon to go after other major diseases, such as inflammatory dysregulation and diabetes? These are big questions to which we might be able to provide encouraging answers using a very common spice." 

Editor: dougcarrollByline: Karin LorentzenByline Affiliation: UA College of PharmacyHeader image: YesNo Image: Subheading: When cinnamaldehyde, the compound that gives cinnamon its distinctive flavor and smell, was added to the diet of mice, it protected them against exposure to a carcinogen. Include in UANow: yesInclude in Olympic Coverage: noFeature on Olympic Page: noUANow Image: Includes video: 

Increased Trade With Mexico Called Vital

Mon, 06/08/2015 - 4:07pm

Arizona exported $8.6 billion worth of goods to Mexico in 2014, a 22 percent increase from the previous year — and one of the highest export growth rates in the U.S.

It’s a bright spot for the state, as post-Great Recession growth continues to lag behind expectations.

At the annual "Breakfast With the Economists" event recently, George Hammond, director of the Economic and Business Research Center in the University of Arizona's Eller College of Management, and Roberto Coronado, assistant vice president and senior economist at the Federal Reserve Bank of Dallas-El Paso, offered context for those figures to a crowd of more than 330 southern Arizona business and public policy leaders.

Last year, the Arizona-Mexico Commission, along with the Arizona Commerce Authority, Arizona Department of Transportation and Arizona Office of Tourism, partnered with Eller’s Economic and Business Research Center to launch the Arizona-Mexico Economic Indicators website, The site focuses on Arizona’s trade with Mexico, assessment of the role of Arizona’s border ports of entry in the U.S.-Mexico border region, and monitoring of key indicators of Mexico’s economy.

"Mexico is the third-most important trading partner for the U.S. and the top export partner for all border states," Coronado said.

Overall, U.S.-Mexico trade flows reached record-high levels in 2014 at more than $530 billion, representing exports plus imports. Forty-one percent of Arizona’s merchandise exports go to Mexico.

Coronado’s presentation at the June 3 event focused on Mexico’s improvements to macroeconomic policy and its structural reforms, as well as its economic outlook, with particular focus on the border region.

"After a strong recovery from the so-called Great Recession, Mexico’s economy entered a soft patch since the second half of 2013," Coronado said. "Mexico’s economy has been gaining momentum since the second half of 2014, but growth has been moderate at best."

Arizona’s economy is likewise characterized by slow growth, but there’s a good chance that growth will improve, Hammond said. "And trade with Mexico matters in our state’s overall economic health," he said.

At 41 percent, Mexico dwarfs Arizona’s other top export partners, which include Asia (25 percent), Europe (18 percent) and Canada (10 percent).

In 2014, minerals and ores became Arizona’s top export commodity to Mexico, surpassing both computer and electronic products, and electrical equipment and appliances, the latter being Arizona’s long-standing top exports.

Over the last 10 years, the minerals-and-ores share of total exports to Mexico rose from 0.2 percent in 2004 to 26.6 percent in 2014.

"A large part of that is copper," Hammond said.

Hammond noted one development to keep an eye on: the impact of the rapidly rising value of the dollar on exports.

"The dollar is up roughly 20 percent over the year against major currencies," he said. "More importantly for Arizona, the dollar is up significantly against the peso."

Exports are driven by exchange rates, relative prices and relative income trends. "So a rapidly rising dollar means that Arizona goods and services become more expensive to Mexicans," Hammond said. "Accordingly, Mexican goods and services become less expensive to Arizonans. That is a recipe for slower Arizona export growth, all other factors remaining the same."

Editor: dougcarrollByline: Liz Warren-PedersonByline Affiliation: UA Eller College of ManagementHeader image: YesNo Image: Subheading: The country dwarfs Arizona's other trade partners with a share of more than 40 percent, although growth of both economies has been only moderate since the Great Recession.Include in UANow: yesInclude in Olympic Coverage: noFeature on Olympic Page: noUANow Image: Includes video: