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UA Ranked Second in the Nation for Physical Sciences Research Funding

Wed, 03/19/2014 - 13:08

The University of Arizona is first in astronomy in a national ranking of 539 public and private universities for research expenditures and second in the physical sciences, according to data from the National Science Foundation Higher Education Research and Development Survey.

The report, which compares higher education institutions in terms of their research expenditures in astronomy including space exploration, physics and chemistry for the 2012 fiscal year, places only the California Institute of Technology higher than the UA in R&D expenditures overall.

Of $4.8 billion being spent in physical sciences, UA scientists appropriated almost $179 million in research grants and contracts from federal, state and private sources to create new knowledge or advance new technologies in 2012.

Overall, R&D spending at U.S. universities in all fields of research – mostly science, but also engineering, education, law and others – totaled $65.8 billion in fiscal year 2012. Out of 539 universities, the UA ranks No. 29 for scientific research expenditures across all fields.

These fiscal statistics represent an indirect measure of the capability of the University to perform high-caliber research, because most grants and contracts are awarded if they pass muster in a highly competitive and selective peer-review process. 

UA plays in the same league as Caltech, Johns Hopkins

According to Tim Swindle, department head and director of the UA Department of Planetary Sciences/Lunar and Planetary Laboratory, the UA has been ranked between No. 20 and 30 across R&D expenditures in all science areas for the last 10 years; has traded the top three places in the Physical Sciences category with Caltech and Johns Hopkins; and has been first in astronomy – represented at the UA by Lunar and Planetary Sciences and the Department of Astronomy and Steward Observatory – every year during that period.

"It is important to note that most of that money has been won in national competitions for grants and contracts, which means that our peers and the funding agencies are recognizing the UA's continuing strength," Swindle said. "From an economic perspective, most of the money spent on research actually goes to pay salaries and buy equipment, so we're creating jobs in Arizona."

These efforts include optical sciences, another leading area of research and innovation at the UA. Recent projects at the UA College of Optical Sciences include shaping and polishing the mirror for the Advanced Technology Solar Telescope. When completed, it will be the largest mirror ever pointed at the sun.

"We have an appetite for doing big science that often spans the whole campus," said Thomas Koch, dean of the College of Optical Sciences. "That’s one of the exciting things that really draws people to the UA."

According to the National Science Foundation, R&D expenditures are just one indicator of the research activity and productivity at a university. A higher amount of expenditures compared with peer institutions generally means a higher number of awards received in that field, or a higher dollar value of the awards – both of which can be signs of a robust research program. Other indicators would be the number of research faculty in a field, numbers of proposals and awards, publications, patents as well as licenses, and such.

"The UA is a leader in physical sciences research, with extraordinary projects such as the OSIRIS-REx asteroid sample return mission, mirrors for the world's largest telescopes, and instruments for the Large Hadron Collider," said Jennifer Barton, interim vice president for research at the UA. "These worldwide impacts are also felt here at home, creating opportunities for student engagement and a boost to the Arizona economy. The economic impact of space sciences alone is over $250 million per year."

According to the UA Annual Research Report for fiscal year 2013, the University increased its overall ranking to No. 29 among all universities included in the report (private and public) and No. 19 when private universities are excluded.

Research undertaken at the UA furthers and fulfills one aspect of the University's mission, “to provide a comprehensive, high-quality education that engages our students in discovery through research and broad-based scholarship,” the report noted, concluding that "every dollar spent on research is returned several-fold in benefits to the University, the community and future generations."

As a result of its strong research programs and expenditures on research, the economic impact of the UA research enterprise to the state is $1.2 billion and 8,728 jobs, according to a recent study performed by consulting firm Tripp Umbach.

UA scientists in astronomy and planetary exploration are world-renowned for taking on projects such as building the world's largest and structurally most advanced telescope mirrors, imaging the surface of Mars in unprecedented detail, and developing a robotic spacecraft bound for a potentially hazardous asteroid in order to retrieve a sample.

Strength in research – commercializing technology

The high volume of research activity at the University also impacts economic development in Arizona, both by creating a talented workforce and also directly through innovations that can be commercialized. Tech Launch Arizona, led by Vice President David Allen, focuses on assessing and commercializing inventions developed during the course of such research. During the current fiscal year, TLA has worked with faculty to file 82 unique patent applications, and turn innovations from the College of Pharmacy, the College of Electrical and Computer Engineering, the Department of Lunar and Planetary Sciences and the Department of Mathematics into startup businesses.

UA College of Science Executive Dean Joaquin Ruiz said: "We continue to show the world the powerhouse strength that we have in astronomy, planetary sciences, chemistry and physics. I am very proud to be part of an institution that has produced such quality on a consistent basis."

The data for this report were compiled through the Higher Education Research and Development Survey by the NSF's National Center for Science and Engineering Statistics. The survey is the primary source of information on R&D expenditures at U.S. colleges and universities.

Editor: Daniel StolteWriter: Daniel StolteByline: Daniel StolteByline Affiliation: University CommunicationsHeader image: YesNo Image: Subheading: Of more 539 universities ranked for research and development (R&D) expenditures in the physical sciences –astronomy, optics, physics and chemistry – the UA comes in second and number one for astronomy. Include in UANow: yesInclude in Olympic Coverage: noFeature on Olympic Page: noUANow Image: 

Arizona Poetry Out Loud Finals Held at UA for First Time

Tue, 03/18/2014 - 16:44

The annual Poetry Out Loud state final was held at the University of Arizona for the first time during the Tucson Festival of Books. The Arizona Commission on the Arts partnered with the UA Poetry Center to administer the nationwide program in Arizona, where high school students compete by memorizing and reciting famous poems of their choosing. The winner, Matthew Kaplan, will continue on to the national final in Washington, D.C., with the chance to win a $20,000 scholarship.

Video Thumbnail: Category(s): Arts and HumanitiesRelated Story Link: Arizona's First Poet Laureate Visits UA CampusUANews Asks: What’s Your Favorite Childhood Book?YouTube Video:  Arizona Poetry Out Loud Contestant Advances to National Finals Video of Arizona Poetry Out Loud Contestant Advances to National Finals Feature Sticky: OffFeature on Front: NoMedium Summary: The UA Poetry Center helped administer the program, in which high school students competed by memorizing and reciting famous poems of their choosing. Arizona's poet laureate, Alberto Alvaro Rios, speaks about the importance of poetry in this video.UANow Image: Date of Publication: Tuesday, March 18, 2014

First Case of March Madness Reported in Tucson

Mon, 03/17/2014 - 11:54

The University of Arizona College of Nursing has reported the first confirmed case of March Madness in 2014. Each year, this highly contagious, seasonal condition affects tens of thousands of people in the Tucson area. Please share this breaking news with family, friends and colleagues.

Video Thumbnail: Category(s): SportsYouTube Video:  First Case of March Madness Reported in Tucson Video of First Case of March Madness Reported in Tucson Feature Sticky: OffFeature on Front: NoMedium Summary: The University of Arizona College of Nursing has reported the first confirmed case of March Madness in 2014. Each year, this highly contagious, seasonal condition affects tens of thousands of people in the Tucson area. Please share this breaking news with family, friends and colleagues.UANow Image: Date of Publication: Monday, March 17, 2014

UANews Asks: What’s Your Favorite Childhood Book?

Wed, 03/12/2014 - 16:37

In anticipation of the Tucson Festival of Books, we asked UA students to tell us about their favorite childhood books. Find out which stories they loved in this video. And catch the Tucson Festival of Books this weekend on the UA campus. More information can be found at http://tucsonfestivalofbooks.org.

Video Thumbnail: Category(s): Arts and HumanitiesCampus NewsYouTube Video:  UANews Asks: What's Your Favorite Childhood Book? Video of UANews Asks: What's Your Favorite Childhood Book? Feature Sticky: OffFeature on Front: NoMedium Summary: In anticipation of the Tucson Festival of Books, happening on the UA campus this weekend, we asked UA students to tell us about their favorite childhood books. Find out which stories they loved in this video. UANow Image: Date of Publication: Wednesday, March 12, 2014

Artists Draw from Life, Nature, Science on Tumamoc Hill

Mon, 03/10/2014 - 10:23

Tumamoc Hill is an important landmark for scientific research, a popular hiking destination and a fascinating archeological and historical site. In addition, it is now the subject of a book of poems and sketches inspired by and produced on the hill itself. The book, "This Piece of Earth," is a collaboration between poets, sketch artists and Paul Mirocha, an illustrator and Tumamoc’s artist in residence. 

Video Thumbnail: Category(s): Arts and HumanitiesScience and TechnologyYouTube Video:  Artists Draw from Life, Nature, Science on Tumamoc Hill Video of Artists Draw from Life, Nature, Science on Tumamoc Hill Feature Sticky: OffFeature on Front: NoMedium Summary: Tumamoc Hill is an important landmark for scientific research, a popular hiking destination and a fascinating archeological and historical site. In addition, it is now the subject of a book of poems and sketches inspired by and produced on the hill itself. The book, "This Piece of Earth," is a collaboration between poets, sketch artists and Paul Mirocha, an illustrator and Tumamoc’s artist in residence. UANow Image: Date of Publication: Monday, March 10, 2014

Black History Month: A Professor and Student Discuss Being Black in Academia

Thu, 02/27/2014 - 15:16

Assistant professor Bryan Carter sits down with PhD candidate Dee Hill Zuganelli for a frank discussion on what it’s like to be black in academia. Topics include the importance of community, the challenges of being different, and practical advice on how to support other minorities in academia. 

For more UA 2014 Black History Month coverage, view:

 

Video Thumbnail: Category(s): Social Sciences and EducationTeaching and StudentsYouTube Video:  Black History Month: A Professor and Student Discuss Being Black in Academia Video of Black History Month: A Professor and Student Discuss Being Black in Academia Feature Sticky: OffFeature on Front: NoMedium Summary: Assistant professor Bryan Carter sits down with PhD candidate Dee Hill Zuganelli for a frank discussion on what it’s like to be black in academia. Topics include the importance of community, the challenges of being different, and practical advice on how to support other minorities in academia. UANow Image: Date of Publication: Thursday, February 27, 2014

Students, Recent Alums Honored for Academics and Service

Fri, 02/21/2014 - 10:55

Twelve UA students and alumni were honored as Pillars of Excellence by the UA Office of the President, the UA BookStores and the Honors College for making important contributions, both on and off campus, during a reception last week.

Photo credit: Andrew Ling

The honorees include:

Rachel Delozier, an art history and Classics major in the Honors College, has studied abroad in Florence, Italy. Fluent in Italian, she has extensive archaeological field experience in Italy as well as in Greece and now interns at the UA Museum of Art.

Graduating senior and Flinn Scholar Leah Edwards, a double major in political science and environmental and water resources, was as a 2013 Udall Scholar for her leadership on campus and beyond. Edwards chairs the Students for Sustainability Waste Reduction Team and also serves as an Undergraduate Fellow for the School of Government and Public Policy, a NASA Space Grant intern adviser and as an intern for the Water Resource Research Center. 

Daniel Fried, a Flinn Scholar, has conducted research all over the world, including Germany and Japan. With majors in computer science, mathematics and information science, Fried has co-authored several publications, and his excellence as a researcher and scholar led to his selection as a 2013 Goldwater Scholar. He also is one of only 14 students nationwide selected for the 2014 Churchill Scholarship.

Eric Hansen, a chemistry and mathematics major, is a 2013 Goldwater Scholar and a 2013 Astronaut Foundation Scholar. Hansen has a long list of research experiences, including work with the Armstrong group at the UA and the Northwestern International Institute of Nanotechnology Research Experience for Undergraduate.

Benjamin Horn, a senior studying biology and German, has extensive experience as a researcher, a teaching assistant and a volunteer at the UA Cancer Center's Orange Grove Cancer Center. Currently undertaking research in medical humanities with a focus on Germany, Horn is teaching the German language at local elementary schools.

Stephanie Kha, a junior studying biochemistry, plans to attend medical school. Kha has a broad range of interests and involvements, including conducting research at the Arizona Cancer Center, serving as director of the ASUA Student Health Advocacy Committee and founding the UA Music and Medicine Club. Kha is also a violinist with the Strings Attached String Quartet. 

Benjamin Malisewski, a junior studying management information systems and sports management, is a student marketing intern for the athletics department. Malisewski is also a student-athlete, serving as team captain for the UA men’s volleyball club team. He also serves as a professional development associate for the team.

A December 2013 UA graduate, having earned her music education degree, Stephanie Marts plans to become a vocal music teacher. While at the UA, performed in the Symphonic Choir and was the Wildcat Outreach Choir director. She also served as president of the American Choral Directors Association undergraduate chapter in 2012-2013.

Erin Menefee is an accomplished student-athlete who has participated on the UA Women’s Cross Country and Track teams for four years. Menefee and her team came in second at the NCAA National Championships in the fall of 2013. A nutritional sciences major, Menefee is extensively involved in the athletic community, serving on the Student Athlete Advisory Committee and mentoring incoming athletes through the Peer Athletic Leader program. She earned All Academic First Team honors in the Pac-12 Conference in both cross country and track.

Mark Ryan, who earned his history degree December 2013, has a deep commitment to social justice. Ryan is heavily involved in political endeavors, and he has a firm commitment to nonprofits that work with neglected, homeless and hungry populations in Arizona. He is leading a project to create and distribute nutrition bars to homeless individuals. 

Paul Thomson, who is studying acting and Africana studies, has performed in four shows with the Arizona Repertory Theatre, including roles in two Shakespeare works. Thomson is the current star and host of a series of Campus Health educational videos, which target UA students and promote healthy choices. A Flinn Scholar, Thomson is a mentor through Big Brothers Big Sisters of Tucson and tutors athletes through the CATS Academics program.

Danny Vazquez, who graduated with his degree in physiology in December 2013, combines an excellent academic record with a wide range of additional interests. Vazquez is an accomplished ballroom dancer who was a leader in the UA Ballroom Dance Club.  A volunteer in the University of Arizona Medical Center Emergency Department, he served as a resident assistant for three years and also has extensive experienced as a tutor. 

To learn more about the other honorees, read:

Categories: Teaching and StudentsThis is a Wildcat Corner feature: Images: Tags: StudentsStudent LifeResearchEducationByline: University Communications |UANow Image: Editor: La Monica Everett-HaynesInclude in UANow: 0Date of Publication: Friday, February 21, 2014Feature on Front: NoShort Summary: One dozen students have been named UA Pillars of Excellence.

Giant Magellan Telescope Poised to Enter Construction Phase

Thu, 02/20/2014 - 17:44

The Giant Magellan Telescope project has successfully passed two major reviews, completing its detailed design phase and positioning the project to enter the construction phase. Taking advantage of the world's most advanced mirrors – designed and built at the University of Arizona –  the 25-meter telescope will have more than six times the light-gathering area of the largest telescopes today and 10 times the resolution of the Hubble Space Telescope.

Scientists will use the GMT to explore distant and potentially habitable planets around other stars, to explore the Universe in the first billion years after the big bang, and to probe the mysteries of dark matter, dark energy and massive black holes. It will be located at the Las Campanas Observatory in Chile, atop a remote mountain peak in the Chilean Andes.

During a weeklong review in mid-January, an international panel of experts examined the design of the giant telescope, including its complex optical systems and precision scientific instruments. This panel was made up of experts involved in building telescopes around the world. The panel concluded the project meets the technical readiness required to proceed to construction. Immediately following the design review, a team of construction experts signed off on the project’s cost estimate and management plan.

Richard Kurz, former Project Manager for the Atacama Large Millimeter/submillimeter Array and chair of the external panel that reviewed the GMT project noted that the panel enthusiastically recommended that the GMT project "proceed as rapidly as possible to construction." ALMA, which stands for Atacama Large Millimeter/submillimeter Array, is an array of 66 radio telescopes located in the dry and cloudless Atacama Desert in Chile.

Wendy Freedman, chair of the GMT Organization's Board of Directors and Director of the Carnegie Observatories, said the reviews were critical milestones required by the GMTO board to proceed with the construction phase.

"Along with the successful casting of the first three 8.4-meter primary mirrors and the leveling of the mountaintop in Chile, each step brings us closer to construction," Friedman said.

As in most telescopes, the primary mirror is the heart of the telescope and its properties dictate much of the telescope design. The UA's Steward Observatory Mirror Lab developed a unique fabrication process resulting in a lightweight honeycomb glass structure. Not only are these mirrors the largest ever made – and light enough to float in water – but they also are very stiff and quickly adjust to changes in nighttime air temperature, all of which results in sharper images. GMT's third mirror was unveiled just this past December.

Like other mirrors produced by the Mirror Lab, the GMT mirrors are fabricated in a process called spin casting, thereby achieving the basic front surface in the shape of a paraboloid. A paraboloid is the shape taken on by water in a bucket when the bucket is spun around its axis; the water rises up the walls of the bucket while a depression forms in the center.

In the case of the GMT, however, six mirrors will be arranged around a seventh in the center, in a design called off-axis, thus serving as off-axis segments of one giant mirror. This design requires the shape of the outer mirrors to be asymmetric in profile. Picture the spinning bucket of water again, but with the depression forming off to one side this time.

Because of their off-axis design and asymmetrical shape, these mirrors are more challenging to polish, and to measure, than any telescope mirror made before. The mirror surface must match the ideal off-axis shape to an accuracy of 25 nanometers, or one-millionth of an inch. The GMT project recognized the need to demonstrate this capability as early as possible. The first off-axis mirror was completed in October 2012.

"Finishing the first GMT mirror is a huge milestone for the Mirror Lab," said Buddy Martin, a project scientist at the Mirror Lab and for the GMT, and an associate research scientist in the UA College of Optical Sciences. "This project builds on all the technology we've developed over 25 years for many telescopes, but required new methods and equipment that extend the state of the art in several ways. We now have all the technology in place to make the rest of the GMT mirrors."

Measuring 360 square meters, or about 3,900 square feet, the GMT's seven mirrors combine to form an area just a bit smaller than a basketball court.

"This is an exciting time for space sciences at the UA as we look forward to the completion of GMT and its ability to enable exploration of Earth-type planets around nearby stars to the most distant galaxies," said Buell Jannuzi, head of the UA Department of Astronomy and Steward Observatory. "Being part of what will be the world's leading ground-based telescope will continue the UA's leadership in astronomy and astrophysics in the coming decades."

Board members representing the partner research institutions that make up the GMT consortium will meet this summer to review the construction plan.

Mirror production at the Mirror Lab is well underway with three of the off-axis mirrors cast and in various stages of grinding and polishing, and the center mirror expected to be cast in early 2015. The GMT will become operational and begin collecting data in 2020 will begin in 2020.

GMTO manages the GMT project on behalf of its international partners: Astronomy Australia Ltd., The Australian National University, the Carnegie Institution for Science, Harvard University, the Korea Astronomy and Space Science Institute, the Smithsonian Institution, Texas A&M University, the University of Arizona, the University of Chicago, and the University of Texas at Austin.

Editor: Daniel StolteWriter: Daniel StolteByline: GMTO/UANewsByline Affiliation: University CommunicationsHeader image: YesNo Image: Subheading: Featuring the world's most advanced mirror design – developed at the UA – the Giant Magellan Telescope has cleared its design phase and now heads in to production.Include in UANow: yesInclude in Olympic Coverage: noFeature on Olympic Page: noUANow Image: 

Black History Month: COM Admissions Director Reflects on Two Inspirational Figures

Thu, 02/20/2014 - 16:01

In honor of Black History Month, UANews is asking African American students and employees about people who were influential and inspirational to them. In this video, Tanisha Price-Johnson, the director of admissions at the College of Medicine, shares her thoughts on two people who played a role in her decision to pursue a career in higher education.

For more UA 2014 Black History Month coverage, view:

Video Thumbnail: Category(s): Campus NewsHealthRelated Story Link: Black History Month: UA Dancer Reflects on Two Inspirational FiguresUA Black History Month Events Explore Blackness, Race Around the WorldYouTube Video:  Black History Month: COM Admissions Director Reflects on Two Inspirational Figures Video of Black History Month: COM Admissions Director Reflects on Two Inspirational Figures Feature Sticky: OffFeature on Front: NoMedium Summary: In honor of Black History Month, UANews is asking African American students and employees about people who were influential and inspirational to them. In this video, Tanisha Price-Johnson, the director of admissions at the College of Medicine, shares her thoughts on two people who played a role in her decision to pursue a career in higher education.UANow Image: Date of Publication: Thursday, February 20, 2014

A Road Map – and Dictionary – for the Brain

Tue, 02/18/2014 - 10:18

When you're talking about something as complex as the brain, the task isn't any easier if the vocabulary being used is just as complex. An international collaboration of neuroscientists has not only tripled the number of identified brain structures, but created a simple lexicon to talk about them, which will be enormously helpful for future research on brain function and disease.

Nick Strausfeld and Linda Restifo, both professors in the Department of Neuroscience at the University of Arizona, worked with colleagues in Japan who led the project, and colleagues in Germany and in the UK to produce a comprehensive atlas of neuroanatomical centers and computational centers of the insect brain. In the process, the team identified many previously unknown structures. By providing the research community with a unified system of terminology, they set the stage for a systematic effort to elucidate brain structures and functions that carry over to functions of the human brain.

An article about the work appears in the scientific journal Neuron, regarded by many as one of the flagship publications of neuroscience; the online version includes an 80-page data supplement. The data will be publicly available within 6 months and include hundreds of images and 3-D video animations – amounting to an invaluable resource that will enable neuroscientists to work more efficiently, compare their results and obtain more meaningful interpretations.

"This effort provides a three-dimensional road map for describing structures for all insect brains, and enables comparisons with other arthropods," said Strausfeld, director of the UA Center for Insect Science. "It has huge value in describing network relationships between computational centers in the brain."

The project is timely as the U.S. and Europe have embarked on ambitious initiatives – President Barack Obama's BRAIN initiative and the European Union's Human Brain Project – to produce a dynamic picture of the brain that shows how individual cells and complex neural circuits interact in time and space.

In their efforts to develop strategies to explore the inner workings of the human brain, likely the most complex structure in the solar system, scientists have relied on studying the brains of model organisms such as fruit flies because their structures are simpler and easier to study in experiments.

Arthropods – insects, spiders, crustaceans and their kin – have advanced biomedical research ranging from the anatomical and molecular underpinnings of behavior to the biochemical causes of addiction. Because of their shared evolutionary history deep in time, vertebrates including humans likely share many of neuroanatomical features and functional centers in the brain with invertebrates. Studying neurological processes in arthropods can significantly help us to understand how all brains work.

The processes leading to Parkinson's disease, for example, are extremely difficult to investigate in humans, but research with fruit flies has yielded valuable information that could help neurologists develop therapeutic strategies.  

As a result of this joint effort to catalog and map the insect brain, this group of scientists has discovered that the pinhead-sized brain of a fruit fly has more than 50 anatomically distinct centers approaching a complexity until now only recognized in animals such as fish or mice.

"There are fascinating parallels," Strausfeld said. "By recognizing discrete centers in the insect brain, we will better understand how elaborations of the brains of insects and vertebrates might relate to each other despite more than 600 million years of divergent evolution."

For example, the olfactory bulbs in vertebrates are very similar to the olfactory lobes in crustaceans. The same goes for the visual system: Color, shape, motion and texture are similarly processed in vertebrates and insects, although very different aspects of the visual world are perceived by a fly compared with  those perceived by a monkey or a human, Strausfeld explained.

The study was led by Kei Ito, an associate professor in the Department of Computational Biology at the University of Tokyo. His group used a technique called confocal fluorescence microscopy to create virtual "slices" revealing the fruit fly brain architecture down to single cells.

Five years and 1,200 emails later, the project now provides neuroscientists with the same terms to describe specific parts of brains of insects and crustaceans. "We are setting a new standard that really enables communication," the UA authors agreed.

"We now have a very detailed understanding of the distribution of neurons in discrete centers and the connections amongst them," Strausfeld explained.

"The complexity of insect behavior is increasingly recognized by the genetics community to allow us to model various human diseases," said Restifo, who also is professor of neurology in the UA College of Medicine and member of the UA BIO5 Institute. "These tiny, but now well-defined, regions we see in the insect brain probably have particular neurons with particular connections driving certain behaviors that are becoming ever more important in studying behavior like aggression or addiction." 

Restifo explained that combining the expanded behavioral repertoire of humans with that observed in insects makes a strong case for using model organisms such as the fruit fly, Drosophila, in the quest for new drugs.

"In some ways, insects are going to be even more useful than rodent models," she said. "In some cases, efforts to get to the cause of a disease by disrupting gene function in mice fail to provide answers because even though the genetic mutation matches that of the human disease, the physiological effects don't."

To be meaningful, any study of complex nervous systems requires concepts and terminology uniformly agreed upon by the research community.

Neuroscientists have long known that anatomically distinctive regions are clues to how the brain is organized, but different terms have been in use for the same structure in different – or even within the same – species.

"In reality, a rose by any other name is more like a Tower of Babel," Restifo said. "There has been enormous confusion."

Strausfeld, who published the first atlas on the insect brain in 1976 – and, together with Ito and colleagues in Germany, the first National Science Foundation Online Atlas of the Drosophila Brain – established much of the initial nomenclature. The UA Center for Insect Science also was instrumental in supporting the efforts that led to the study's publication. Strausfeld said an important driver of the present project was the need to establish the appropriateness of specific terms and names for neural structures across arthropod brains.

"Nothing quite like this has been done before," he said. "Scientists studying the brains and behavior of birds had come to an agreed-upon nomenclature, but we were trying to find common ground across many species that may be more distinct from each other in terms of evolutionary divergence. Thus, adding to the enormity of the task was the goal of agreeing on terminology that would 'fit' for all insects and be applicable to crustaceans."

"Developing a standardized nomenclature is important because it facilitates cross-fertilization of work done using different insect species," said Gerald Rubin, vice president and executive director of the Janelia Farm Research Campus of the Howard Hughes Medical Institute. "Pulling this together required a lot of work, scientific insight and historical knowledge; it was a real service to the field."

The authors on the paper are: Kei Ito, Kazunori Shinomiya and Masayoshi Ito (University of Tokyo), J. Douglas Armstrong (School of Informatics, University of Edinburgh), George Boyan (Ludwig-Maximilians-University, Munich), Volker Hartenstein (University of California, Los Angeles), Steffen Harzsch (University of Greifswald, Germany), Martin Heisenberg (Julius-Maximilians-University of Würzburg, Germany), Uwe Homberg (Philipps-University of Marburg, Germany), Arnim Jenett and Julie Simpson (Howard Hughes Medical Institute at Janelia Farms, Va.), Haig Keshishian (Yale University, New Haven, Conn.), Linda Restifo (UA), Wolfgang Roessler (Julius-Maximilians-University of Würzburg, Germany), Nicholas Strausfeld (UA), Roland Strauss (Johannes-Gutenberg-University of Mainz, Germany) and Leslie B. Vosshall (Rockefeller University, New York).

 

Editor: Daniel StolteWriter: Daniel StolteByline: Daniel StolteByline Affiliation: University CommunicationsExtra Info: 

Watch "A Fight Club for Flies" to see how changes in one gene in just three neurons turn a docile fruit fly into aggressive bullies.

Header image: YesNo Image: Subheading: By providing a standardized nomenclature for the architecture of insect brains, UA neuroscientists will help improve studies of human brain function and disease. Include in UANow: yesInclude in Olympic Coverage: noFeature on Olympic Page: noUANow Image: 

Statewide Economic Impact

Wed, 02/12/2014 - 17:27
Medium Summary: The University of Arizona is employing the power of the infographic to convey key data points and information about the University. This first infographic visually tells the story of the UA's economic value to the state, including the work-readiness of graduates, state tax base impact, federal research funding and innovation, and jobs. Date of Publication: Wednesday, February 12, 2014Story images: Infographic:  UA_StatewideEconomicImpact.jpg

Biosphere 2 Opens Its Doors, Beaches and 'Lung' to Artists

Wed, 02/12/2014 - 16:02

Poets and writers had the opportunity to spend two days working and writing inside Biosphere 2 during the Poetic Field Research Performance Weekend. The artists had access to locations within the massive structure such as the desert biome, the "lung," the human habitat, the beach and the Landscape Evolution Observatory, B2’s flagship experiment for understanding how Earth’s landscapes respond to climate change. The project is supported by the UA Green Fund, the Biosphere 2 Institute, the Institute of the Environment, the School of Geography and Development, and the UA Poetry Center.  

Video Thumbnail: Category(s): Arts and HumanitiesScience and TechnologyYouTube Video:  Biosphere 2 Opens Its Doors, Beaches and Lungs to Artists Video of Biosphere 2 Opens Its Doors, Beaches and Lungs to Artists Feature Sticky: OffFeature on Front: NoMedium Summary: Poets and writers had the opportunity to spend two days working and writing inside Biosphere 2 during the Poetic Field Research Performance Weekend. The artists had access to locations within the massive structure such as the desert biome, the "lung," the human habitat, the beach and the Landscape Evolution Observatory, B2’s flagship experiment for understanding how Earth’s landscapes respond to climate change.UANow Image: Date of Publication: Wednesday, February 12, 2014

Capturing our Landscape, The View from Above

Tue, 02/11/2014 - 12:54

Aerial photographer Adriel Heisey, known internationally for offering a sky-view perspective of natural and built landscapes, is showcasing his work at the UA.

The Arizona State Museum is hosting "From Above: Images of a Storied Land," offering a bird's-eye view of historical landscapes and archaeological sites. The exhibition, curated by Archaeology Southwest, will be open through Sept. 20 at the Arizona State Museum.

For a brief look at Heisy's 60 large-format, high-definition aerial images, check out these images:

Photography credit: Beatriz Verdugo

 

Categories: Campus NewsThis is a Wildcat Corner feature: Images: Tags: The ArtsEducationOutreachByline: University Communications |UANow Image: Editor: La Monica Everett-HaynesInclude in UANow: 0Date of Publication: Friday, February 14, 2014Medium Summary: Known internationally for his photographic study of historical landscapes and archaeological sites, Adriel Heisey's aerial photography offers a unique sky-view perspective of the landscape and environmental relationships. The Arizona State Museum is showing "From Above: Images of a Storied Land," an exhibition of Heisey's work. Feature on Front: NoShort Summary: The UA is hosting the work of famed aerial photographer Adriel Heisey.

Mathematical Model Developed by UA Physicists Could Help Treat Lyme Disease

Thu, 02/06/2014 - 15:58

Lyme disease is often evident by a bull's-eye rash on the skin. But it's hard to tell from the rash whether the infection is recent, therefore making it difficult to detect the disease early, when antibiotic treatment is most effective. In the Feb. 4 issue of Biophysical Journal, researchers including University of Arizona physicists describe a new model that captures the interactions between disease-causing bacteria and the host immune response that affect the appearance of a rash and the spread of infection.

"Our findings are important because they connect how the rash looks with the behavior of the bacteria in our body," said co-author Charles Wolgemuth, an associate professor in the UA departments of physics and molecular and cellular biology.

Wolgemuth and graduate student Dhruv Vig, a graduate student in the UA Department of Molecular and Cellular Biology, developed a fairly simple mathematical model that can account for the growth and appearance of a Lyme disease rash and might be used to predict the densities of the disease-causing bacteria in relationship to the rash as a function of time during spreading.

In many cases, patients with Lyme disease develop a rash with a bull’s-eye appearance. The model reveals that in these cases, the rash begins as a small and uniform rash. Activation of the immune response is strongest at the center of the rash and clears most, but not all, of the bacteria from the center within about one week. However, bacteria at the edge of the rash continue to spread outward, further activating the immune response away from the edge. Therefore the rash grows, but the center becomes less inflamed. As time progresses, though, the bacteria resurge at the center, leading to the characteristic bull’s-eye pattern. For a video animation of the computer simulation click here

By revealing that the bacteria and immune cell populations change as a rash progresses, the model may help guide Lyme disease treatment. "The model that we have developed can be used to predict how the bacteria move through our bodies and how they are affected by therapeutics," explained Wolgemuth.

To that end, the researchers simulated the progression of different rash types over the course of antibiotic treatment. They found that for all types of Lyme disease rashes, bacteria were cleared from the skin within roughly the first week; however, the dynamics of disappearance of the rash varied depending on the type of rash with which the patient presented. For example, while bull’s-eye rashes resolved within a week of treatment, uniform rashes tended to be present even after four weeks, likely due to prolonged inflammation. Such differences suggest that there may not be a one-size-fits-all treatment regimen for resolving Lyme disease and its effects on the body.

Wolgemuth also noted that there are a number of similarities between the bacterium that causes Lyme disease and the bacterium that causes syphilis. "Therefore, it is likely that this model will also be applicable to understanding syphilis, as well as potentially other bacterial infections."

Editor: Daniel StolteByline: University CommunicationsExtra Info: 

This research was supported by National Institutes of Health grants No. R01GM072004 and No. GM0884905.

Header image: YesNo Image: Subheading: A computer simulation of Lyme disease rash might help doctors better predict the spread of the bacteria in the early stages when antibiotics are most effective. Include in UANow: yesInclude in Olympic Coverage: noFeature on Olympic Page: noUANow Image: 

NASA's Next-Generation Space Telescope is Coming Together

Mon, 02/03/2014 - 15:10

An infrared camera designed with University of Arizona know-how has joined three other instruments at NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center. Together, they form NASA's James Webb Space Telescope, which will peer farther into the universe's history than any telescope to date.

The arrival at Goddard and the "marriage" of all of JWST's science instruments was celebrated Monday with a special event including NASA Administrator Charles Bolden and U.S. Sen. Barbara Mikulski of Maryland.

At $400 million, NIRCam – which stands for Near Infrared Camera – is one of the largest sponsored research projects ever completed at the UA. The instrument will function as the central imaging component of JWST, which will replace the Hubble Space Telescope toward the end of this decade. Designated one of the space agency's three highest mission priorities, the Webb telescope is a joint project of NASA, the European Space Agency and the Canadian Space Agency.

NIRCam was designed, built and tested by a UA team and the Lockheed Martin Space Systems Advanced Technology Center in Palo Alto, Calif., and uses advanced infrared detector arrays from Teledyne Imaging Systems. The project is under the leadership of Principal Investigator Marcia Rieke, who is a Regents' Professor at the UA Department of Astronomy and Steward Observatory.

NIRCam's delivery to Goddard Space Flight Center marks the first time all of James Webb's instruments have come together. "We are excited that NIRCam is about to be integrated with the Webb telescope hardware," said Jeff Vanden Beukel, Lockheed NIRCam program director. "Next, it and the other instruments will be tested to prove their ability to function as a unit."

"Completing all of the instruments is one of the most daunting milestones for a large science mission," said George Rieke, husband of Marcia Rieke and a Regents' Professor in the UA's astronomy and planetary sciences departments. "Reaching this milestone keeps the telescope on schedule for launch in late 2018."

As JWST's prime camera, NIRCam will make it the most powerful space telescope ever built, enabling it to peer deeper into space and further back in time than any other instrument before. With its 6.5-meter (21-foot) mirror, JWST will explore the most distant objects in the universe.

The instrument operates out to wavelengths about 10 times longer than visible light to search for the first galaxies that formed in the universe. Because of the cosmic redshift, the further a galaxy is from Earth, the faster it moves away from us, stretching its light toward longer, "redder" wavelengths – into the infrared light spectrum where NIRCam will survey for candidates.

"The other instruments on JWST can then probe these objects in detail to test if we are really catching them when they were so young," Marcia Rieke explained. "The instrument can also peer through the clouds of gas and dust that hide the first stages when stars and planets are born and will provide insights to how planetary systems around distant stars form and evolve."

"NIRCam embodies many cutting-edge technologies, such as the infrared detector arrays themselves, a complex optical system based on lenses rather than the mirrors used in most infrared instruments, and devices to measure the optical performance of the JWST telescope and allow adjustments to keep it operating correctly."

George Rieke heads the science team overseeing another JWST instrument, MIRI, or Mid-Infrared Imager, which was built in a collaboration among 10 European nations, led by Gillian Wright of the United Kingdom Advanced Technology Center, and NASA (through the Jet Propulsion Laboratory).

Delivered to Goddard Space Flight Center in 2012, MIRI has now been mounted in the JWST instrument module and recently operated flawlessly in the first round of low-temperature testing under environmental conditions mimicking those found in deep space, where JWST will be operating.

"MIRI extends the wavelength range of JWST to 28 microns, about 50 times redder than visible light and in the range where planets outside our solar system, very young stars and star-forming galaxies are bright," said George Rieke.

Buell T. Jannuzi, director of the UA's Department of Astronomy and Steward Observatory, said: “NIRCam is an outstanding example of the transformational technology that can be produced through the successful partnership of NASA, industry and research universities. I am extremely proud of the central role Professor Marcia Rieke’s team and the University of Arizona have played in this partnership."

Editor: Daniel StolteHeader image: YesNo Image: Subheading: Built in part with UA know-how, the prime camera of the James Webb Space Telescope is being mounted into the nascent telescope structure to begin testing for the conditions of space.Include in UANow: yesInclude in Olympic Coverage: noFeature on Olympic Page: noUANow Image: 

Who Won't Take Their Medicine?

Thu, 01/30/2014 - 16:21

UA associate professor of anthropology Susan J. Shaw and UA assistant professor of pharmacy Jeannie Lee have received $1.48 million from the National Institutes of Health to study factors that impact medication adherence among residents in Massachusetts, where state law mandated that nearly every resident receive a minimum level of health care insurance coverage.

The grant is a follow-up to a previous NIH award to Shaw to study how health literacy varies among different cultural populations in one particular Massachusetts city: Springfield. Shaw’s earlier work has indicated that medication adherence is likely to be impacted by patients’ culture-based beliefs about their medications, as well as by changing costs associated with health care reform.

Over the next four years, Shaw and Lee will examine factors that may influence medication adherence, such as culture-based beliefs about health, health literacy, and changing patient costs in five ethnic groups in Springfield: African-American, Hispanic and white residents as well as Vietnamese and Russian immigrants.

"Massachusetts initiated health care reform in 2006, so they have a few years' experience ahead of all the other states," said Shaw, of the UA's School of Anthropology. The state has faced expanding costs associated with providing health insurance for more people health insurance reform that the rest of the nation has yet to confront, and can serve as an exemplar state for implementing the Affordable Care Act, she said.

"As Massachusetts initiated health care reform and expanded the enrollment of their publicly supported health insurance programs,” Shaw said, the state simultaneously embarked on cost-control measures to mitigate some of the rising costs associated with publicly supported health insurance.

One common cost-control measure used by insurance companies is changing the list of medications that are covered by insurance plans, said Shaw, which can mean that patients' medications might change if certain prescriptions are no longer covered by insurance.

For example, a different brand of medication may be given in place of the original prescription but with different instructions on how the medication needs to be taken, Shaw explained. “It may be the same active ingredient in the medication and the same total dose, but with different instructions for the patient. That change could affect how well patients can stay on their medications."

Additionally, individuals hold personal beliefs about their medication needs that can be strongly influenced by their cultural background, Shaw noted.

"As an anthropologist I'm especially interested in how people think and feel about their medications," she said. "People may have fears and anxieties about their medications that can vary depending on their cultural backgrounds. We use in-depth interviews to try and uncover the range of factors that shape peoples' medication usage."

For example, she explained, some people feel that taking their prescriptions allows them to live a healthy life, while others may fear dependence on any long-term medication.  

"Some people have this idea that one or two medications is good but over a certain number of them is bad, so they only take the first two prescribed medications. I'm interested in the ways that people make those decisions, which are often completely inexplicable to their physicians," Shaw said.

"Many times health providers are dumbfounded as to why patients adhere to some medicines and not to others," added Lee, who is an assistant professor in the UA's College of Pharmacy and College of Medicine. "It's great for the clinical world to have this information and use it to educate the patient to overcome those barriers to medication adherence."  

Health literacy – or patients' ability to understand and act on their providers' instructions regarding health – is an issue that pharmacists and clinicians commonly confront in administering patient care, Lee said.

"My interest as a pharmacist is getting the patients to take their medications properly to improve their health," she said. "We invest a lot of resources to develop new and better drugs. But if patients don't use them properly, they don't work."

"Often patients don't fully understand their conditions or medication labels as written," Lee said. "Making those connections and helping people understand and adhere to their medications may achieve more for the patients' health than developing new drugs."

Shaw and Lee will work with data analyst Josephine Korchmaros, director of research methods and statistics at the UA's Southwest Institute for Research on Women in the College of Social and Behavioral Sciences, and with the Caring Health Center at the Springfield, Mass., study site.

"Ultimately we will have a set of recommendations that primary care providers can implement in their practices to help patients adhere to their medication regimens," Lee said.

"It's a really informative project for clinicians," she added, "and it's a good partnership to have an anthropologist like Susan to inform us about our patients' cultural beliefs and health literacy so that we can use that information to better care for those patients."

Writer: Shelley LittinByline: Shelley LittinByline Affiliation: University CommunicationsHeader image: YesNo Image: Subheading: UA anthropologist Susan J. Shaw and UA pharmacist Jeannie Lee have been awarded $1.48 million from the NIH to study medication adherence and health literacy.Include in UANow: yesInclude in Olympic Coverage: noFeature on Olympic Page: noUANow Image: 

UA Celebrates the Year of the Horse with Festival

Thu, 01/30/2014 - 14:20

To ring in the Chinese new year and celebrate the year of the horse, the Confucius Institute at the University of Arizona hosted a festival at Centennial Hall. Performances at the Chinese New Year Festival included traditional and contemporary dance, martial arts displays, children’s choirs and music by the Purple Bamboo Ensemble, the performing group of the UA Asian Music Club.

Video Thumbnail: Category(s): Arts and HumanitiesYouTube Video:  UA Celebrates the Year of the Horse with Festival Video of UA Celebrates the Year of the Horse with Festival Feature Sticky: OffFeature on Front: NoMedium Summary: To ring in the Chinese new year and celebrate the year of the horse, the Confucius Institute at the University of Arizona hosted a festival at Centennial Hall. Performances at the Chinese New Year Festival included traditional and contemporary dance, martial arts displays, children’s choirs and music by the Purple Bamboo Ensemble, the performing group of the UA Asian Music Club.UANow Image: Include in Olympic coverage: noInclude in UANow: yesDate of Publication: Thursday, January 30, 2014

Design Tech Showcase Reveals Secrets Behind the Magic of Theater

Tue, 01/28/2014 - 15:18

On Jan. 18, advanced design and technology students in the School of Theatre, Film and Television held a showcase of their work for fellow students,  professors and industry professionals. The displays included scale models of set designs, intricate costumes, trick and movable props, and pieces that have actually been used on stage in Arizona Repertory Theatre productions.

Video Thumbnail: Category(s): Arts and HumanitiesYouTube Video:  Design Tech Showcase Reveals Secrets Behind the Magic of Theater Video of Design Tech Showcase Reveals Secrets Behind the Magic of Theater Feature Sticky: OffFeature on Front: NoMedium Summary: Advanced design and technology students in the School of Theatre, Film and Television held a showcase of their work for fellow students, professors and industry professionals. The displays included scale models of set designs, intricate costumes, trick and movable props, and pieces that have actually been used on stage in Arizona Repertory Theatre productions.UANow Image: Include in Olympic coverage: noInclude in UANow: yesDate of Publication: Tuesday, January 28, 2014

01/16/14: OSIRIS-REx and Planetary Society Launch 'Messages to Bennu' Campaign

Wed, 01/15/2014 - 17:46
UANow Feature Content: OSIRIS-REx and Planetary Society Launch 'Messages to Bennu' CampaignNonprofit Started by UA Doc Provides Low-Cost Medical DevicesMind-Blowing Beauty of Mars' Dunes: HiRISE PhotosArizona's Aaron Gordon Named USA Basketball 2013 Male Athlete of the YearUA in the News: Jaguar tracks found in the Santa Ritas, says conservation group and UA geneticistNew Program Aims to Address Older Adults' Mental Health

OSIRIS-REx and Planetary Society Launch 'Messages to Bennu' Campaign

Wed, 01/15/2014 - 16:13
NASA's OSIRIS-REx mission and The Planetary Society invite people from around the world to submit their names to be etched on a microchip aboard a spacecraft headed to the asteroid Bennu in 2016.   The "Messages to Bennu!" microchip will travel to the asteroid aboard the agency's Origins-Spectral Interpretation Resource Identification Security Regolith Explorer, or OSIRIS-REx, spacecraft. Led by the University of Arizona, the robotic mission will spend more than two years at the 1,760-foot (500-meter)-wide asteroid. The spacecraft will collect a sample of Bennu's surface and return it to Earth in a sample return capsule in 2023.   The OSIRIS-REx mission comes with the largest grant ever awarded to the UA. The endeavor is budgeted for more than $800 million, plus the launch rocket, which is supplied by NASA. For the first time in space exploration history, a university will send a spacecraft to return pristine samples of a carbonaceous asteroid with known geologic context. Such samples are critical to understanding the origin of the solar system, Earth and life, according to Dante Lauretta, a professor in the UA Department of Planetary Sciences and the principal investigator of the OSIRIS-REx mission.   The returned sample also will provide insight into the future exploration of asteroids for resources and economic development, and the data collected at the asteroid will aid in the threat assessment of future asteroids that are headed towards Earth. The UA leads the mission, NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center provides project management, and Lockheed Martin builds the sampling mechanism and spacecraft.   "I'm thrilled to be able to share the OSIRIS-REx adventure with people across the Earth. To Bennu and back!" Lauretta said. "It's a great opportunity for people to get engaged with the mission early and join us as we prepare for launch in 2016".   Bill Nye, CEO of The Planetary Society, said: "Through this campaign, we'll put your name aboard a spacecraft that will travel to an asteroid and back, making you an active participant in humankind's exploration of the Solar System. How cool does that sound? At the Planetary Society, our mission is to engage the citizens of Earth in space exploration and the Messages to Bennu! campaign fits right in with this belief."   Participants who "like" the mission on Facebook will receive updates on the location of the spacecraft from launch until sample return and be kept abreast of mission progress and late-breaking news.   Those who submit their names to the Messages to Bennu! campaign will be able to download and print a certificate documenting their participation in the OSIRIS-REx mission. This campaign runs until Sept. 30.   To submit your name to the Messages to Bennu! campaign, visit The Planetary Society's campaign website.

 

Editor: Daniel StolteExtra Info: 

To watch "321Science" videos about the mission and asteroids, visit the OSIRIS-REx YouTube Channel.

Header image: YesNo Image: Subheading: Members of the public are invited to submit their name to be carried aboard the OSIRIS-REx Spacecraft for a round-trip voyage to asteroid Bennu and back to Earth.Include in UANow: yesInclude in Olympic Coverage: noFeature on Olympic Page: noUANow Image: