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UA Researchers Unlock the Mysteries of Wound Healing

Thu, 03/12/2015 - 11:51pm

Researchers at the University of Arizona have discovered what causes and regulates collective cell migration, one of the most universal but least understood biological processes in all living organisms.

The findings, published in Nature Communications, shed light on the mechanisms of cell migration, particularly in the wound-healing process. The results represent a major advancement for regenerative medicine, in which biomedical engineers and other researchers manipulate cells’ form and function to create new tissues, and even organs, to repair, restore or replace those damaged by injury or disease.

"The results significantly increase our understanding of how tissue regeneration is regulated and advance our ability to guide these processes," said Pak Kin Wong, associate professor in the Department of Aerospace and Mechanical Engineering in the UA College of Engineering and lead investigator of the research.

"In recent years, researchers have gained a better understanding of the molecular machinery of cell migration, but not what directs it to happen in the first place," he said. "What, exactly, is orchestrating this system common to all living organisms?"

Leaders of the Pack

The answer, it turns out, involves delicate interactions between biomechanical stress, or force, which living cells exert on one another, and biochemical signaling.

The UA researchers discovered that when mechanical force disappears – for example at a wound site where cells have been destroyed, leaving empty, cell-free space – a protein molecule, known as DII4, coordinates nearby cells to migrate to a wound site and collectively cover it with new tissue. What's more, they found, this process causes identical cells to specialize into leader and follower cells. Researchers had previously assumed leader cells formed randomly.

Wong's team observed that when cells collectively migrate toward a wound, leader cells expressing a form of messenger RNA, or mRNA, genetic code specific to the DII4 protein emerge at the front of the pack, or migrating tip. The leader cells, in turn, send signals to follower cells, which do not express the genetic messenger. This elaborate autoregulatory system remains activated until new tissue has covered a wound.

The same migration processes for wound healing and tissue development also apply to cancer spreading, the researchers noted. The combination of mechanical force and genetic signaling stimulates cancer cells to collectively migrate and invade healthy tissue.

Biologists have known of the existence of leader cells and the DII4 protein for some years and have suspected they might be important in collective cell migration. But precisely how leader cells formed, what controlled their behavior, and their genetic makeup were all mysteries – until now.

Broad Medical Applications

"Knowing the genetic makeup of leader cells and understanding their formation and behavior gives us the ability to alter cell migration," Wong said.

With this new knowledge, researchers can re-create, at the cellular and molecular levels, the chain of events that brings about the formation of human tissue. Bioengineers now have the information they need to direct normal cells to heal damaged tissue, or prevent cancer cells from invading healthy tissue.

The UA team's findings have major implications for people with a variety of diseases and conditions.  For example, the discoveries may lead to better treatments for non-healing diabetic wounds, the No. 1 cause of lower limb amputations in the United States; for plaque buildup in arteries, a major cause of heart disease; and for slowing or even stopping the spread of cancer, which is what makes it so deadly.

The research also has the potential to speed up development of bioengineered tissues and organs that can be successfully transplanted in humans.

About the Study

In the UA Systematic Bioengineering Laboratory, which Wong directs, researchers used a combination of single-cell gene expression analysis, computational modeling and time-lapse microscopy to track leader cell formation and behavior in vitro in human breast cancer cells and in vivo in mice epithelial cells under a confocal microscope. 

Their work included manipulating leader cells through pharmacological, laser and other means to see how they would react.

"Amazingly, when we directed a laser at individual leader cells and destroyed them, new ones quickly emerged at the migrating tip to take their place," said Wong, who likened the mysteries of cell migration and leader cell formation to the processes in nature that cause geese to fly in V-formation or ants to build a colony.

Wong and his co-authors, UA College of Pharmacy professor Donna Zhang and four current and former UA Engineering graduate students, reported their findings in the Nature Communications article "Notch1-DII4 Signalling and Mechanical Force Regulate Leader Cell Formation During Collective Cell Migration." The study was supported by a $1.5-million National Institutes of Health Director’s New Innovator Award and funding from the National Cancer Institute. Wong and Zhang are both members of the UA's BIO5 Institute.

Editor: Daniel StolteWriter: Jill GoetzByline: Jill GoetzByline Affiliation: College of EngineeringHeader image: YesNo Image: Subheading: A multidisciplinary research team discovers how cells know to rush to a wound and heal it – opening the door to new treatments for diabetes, heart disease and cancer. Include in UANow: yesInclude in Olympic Coverage: noFeature on Olympic Page: noUANow Image: Includes video: 

UA Mars Scientists Capture Image of Sci-Fi Landing Site

Wed, 03/11/2015 - 1:22pm

Mark Watney, the hero featured in the best-selling book "The Martian" by Andy Weir, becomes marooned on Mars after his crewmates scramble to make an emergency departure following a dust storm tearing through their base. In his struggle for survival, Watney sets out to get to the landing site of "Mars Pathfinder," a robotic NASA spacecraft consisting of a lander and a rover that explored the surface of the red planet in 1997 in order to obtain a means of communicating with Earth.

Using the HiRISE camera aboard NASA's Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter, which has been examining Mars with six instruments since 2006, the team acquired images of a large region on Mars called Acidalia Planitia, which includes the site where Watney's crew touched down in their spacecraft named Ares 3.

"Stranded astronaut Mark Watney spends most of his time at the Ares 3 landing site in southern Acidalia Planitia," said Alfred McEwen, a professor in the University of Arizona Lunar and Planetary Laboratory and principal investigator of the HiRISE mission. "The book describes Acidalia as flat and easy to drive over — he even drives (a rover) to the Pathfinder landing site and back."  

However, as the HiRISE images revealed, this region of Mars is actually far more diverse, interesting and hazardous to drive over than depicted in the novel, according to McEwen.

Taken from an altitude of about 294 kilometers, or 182 miles, the image shows an area close to the Ares 3 landing site as shown in a map in the beginning of the novel. Many mounds are visible, including two large, crater- or volcano-like features that dominate the image. The mounds in the picture probably are ancient volcanoes, created by interactions between lava and water, or perhaps formed from the eruption of muddy sediments. 

"We take images of this region because we want to get higher resolution of the region to better understand if these are indeed old volcanoes," said Ari Espinoza of the HiRISE mission team. "The image was acquired as a 'routine' image, not necessarily based on the book. However, the reason for our caption does come from the book. So, it's really just fortuitous: one of those 'Here’s the Hollywood version, but what does it really look like?' kind of things."

"Much of Acidalia Planitia is covered by dense fields of boulders up to several meters high that would be difficult to drive around," McEwen said. "There are also fissures associated with giant polygons, with steep rocky slopes that would be impassable. There are elongated fields of dense secondary craters where the surface is extremely rough at scales near the size of the rover."

When Watney travels into Arabia Terra, it is described as much rockier than Acidalia, but the opposite is generally true: Much of Arabia is dust-mantled and smooth at the scale of a rover.

"People commonly assume that 'smooth' at the large scales of kilometers means 'smooth' at small scales like meters to tens of meters," McEwen said. "We frequently see the opposite on Mars: Large, flat, low areas are more wind-scoured, removing fine materials and leaving rocks and eroded bedrock."

Editor: dougcarrollWriter: Daniel StolteByline: Daniel Stolte and Alfred McEwenByline Affiliation: University Relations - Communications and HiRISEExtra Info: 

See a large overview photo of Acidalia Planitia on the HiRISE Website

Header image: YesNo Image: Subheading: Images taken by the UA-led HiRISE mission reveal that the setting of the best-selling novel "The Martian" is far from being the featureless plain described in the book. Include in UANow: yesInclude in Olympic Coverage: noFeature on Olympic Page: noUANow Image: Includes video: 

Could Man's Best Friend Be Man's Best Medicine?

Wed, 03/11/2015 - 12:23pm

Most dog owners will tell you their furry friends make them feel good emotionally. But the health benefits of owning a dog may not end there.

Researchers at the University of Arizona are recruiting participants for a study exploring whether dogs can improve human health by having a probiotic effect on the body. The research will focus specifically on dogs' effect on the health of older adults.

"We've co-evolved with dogs over the millennia, but nobody really understands what it is about this dog-human relationship that makes us feel good about being around dogs," said Kim Kelly, an anthropology doctoral student and one of the primary investigators on the study. "Is it just that they're fuzzy and we like to pet them, or is there something else going on under the skin? The question really is: Has the relationship between dogs and humans gotten under the skin? And we believe it has."

The study is the first conducted under the UA's new Human-Animal Interaction Research Initiative, part of the Frances McClelland Institute for Children, Youth and Families in the John & Doris Norton School of Family and Consumer Sciences. The initiative aims to bring together researchers across disciplines to explore the mutual benefits of human-animal relationships for health and well-being.

Dogs and 'Good' Bacteria

The human digestive system is home to more than 500 different types of bacteria, both "good" and "bad." Probiotics often are called "good" or "helpful" bacteria because they help keep the intestines healthy and assist in digesting food; they also are believed to help the immune system. Foods such as yogurt, as well as supplements, can help enhance probiotics in the body.

Kelly, along with her collaborators in the UA Department of Psychiatry, the UA Norton School of Family and Consumer Sciences, the UA School of Animal and Comparative Biomedical Sciences, and the University of California at San Diego, will explore whether living with a dog encourages the growth of positive microorganisms in the human gut — enough to improve physical and mental health in older adults.

"We essentially want to find out, is a dog acting like yogurt in having a probiotic effect?" said Kelly, who also is a principal research specialist in the Department of Psychiatry and program coordinator for the Human-Animal Interaction Research Initiative.

Existing research shows that dogs and their owners share much of the same gut bacteria over time. In addition, some studies have shown that dogs enhance immune functioning in children, reducing the risk for immune disorders, such as asthma and allergies.

"We think dogs might work as probiotics to enhance the health of the bacteria that live in our guts. These bacteria, or 'microbiota,' are increasingly recognized as playing an essential role in our mental and physical health, especially as we age," said Dr. Charles Raison, principal investigator for the study and a UA professor of psychiatry in the College of Medicine.

"We know that not all bacteria are good. We can get very sick from the 'bad' bacteria, and modern medicine has done a wonderful job of protecting us from various diseases that are created by these bacteria," said Raison, also a professor of family and consumer sciences. "But unfortunately, by eliminating the bad bacteria we've started eliminating the 'good' bacteria, too."

Participants in the study, which is being conducted in partnership with the Humane Society of Southern Arizona, will be paired with a canine companion from the humane society and live with the dog in their home for three months.

At the beginning of the study, researchers will non-invasively evaluate the human participants' gut bacteria, diet, physical activity levels and immune function. The dogs' gut bacteria and physical activity levels also will be measured via non-invasive means. Follow-up evaluations will take place after one, two and three months to look for any positive impacts on gut microflora in either the humans or the dogs. Researchers also will note any changes in the mental health and emotional well-being in both the humans and the animals.

Study participants must be age 50 or older, in good general health, not have taken antibiotics in the past six months, and not have lived with a dog for at least six months. Participants will be able to identify what type of dog they would like and will be able to adopt the dog at the end of the study, but that isn’t a requirement for participation. Food and veterinary care for the dog will be provided during the study period.

Those interested in participating in the study should email  

Study First in Series of Projects

Anecdotal evidence abounds about the benefits of human-animal relationships. And research has shown that people who own dogs are happier, less stressed and even less likely to die of heart disease. Yet there is limited scientific research on why these relationships are so beneficial.

The dog study is just the first in a series of projects under the UA's Human-Animal Interactions Research Initiative designed to gather scientific data in this area.

The Human-Animal Interaction Research Initiative, or HAIRI, was started by UA husband-and-wife researchers Dieter and Netzin Steklis, who are co-investigators on the dog study and who teach at UA South and in the Norton School of Family and Consumer Sciences in the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences.

"Our emphasis with HAIRI is first to bring good rigorous science to understanding the relationship between humans and non-human animals," said Netzin Steklis, a lecturer in family and consumer sciences. "Then we can use that to contribute to the education of, for example, future veterinarians or family therapists or the pet industry. We want to extend this research into practice through education and outreach."

Additional research projects in the works under HAIRI include a study exploring scientific reasons why horses seem to have positive therapeutic effects on children with autism, and a study looking at whether humans' attitudes toward animals might be considered as a unique dimension of human personality.

The Steklises, who have devoted much of their careers to observing the behaviors of wild gorillas and who lead the UA's Primate Studies Field School in Rwanda, hope to develop HAIRI into a leading research and education center in the field of human-animal interactions.

"What's driving most of our work is our love of animals, our interest in animal behavior, and how co-evolutionary processes have shaped our minds and the minds of animals," said Dieter Steklis, professor at UA South, and a UA affiliate professor of psychology and adjunct professor of family studies and human development. "We've had experiences, personal and scientific, with many non-human animal species — wild, tame and domesticated. For now we have our own horses and dog, but we've always had a variety of animal friends in the family. Through HAIRI, we want to bring together collaborators from all different areas of expertise to work on these important projects that will inform our future relationships with animals."

Editor: dougcarrollWriter: Alexis BlueByline: Alexis BlueByline Affiliation: University Relations - CommunicationsExtra Info: 

Those interested in participating in the study can find out more at or by emailing

Header image: YesNo Image: Subheading: A study of the interaction between humans and dogs is the first for the UA's new Human-Animal Interaction Research Initiative.Include in UANow: yesInclude in Olympic Coverage: noFeature on Olympic Page: noUANow Image: Includes video: 

Historic Day for Doctor of Nursing Practice Students

Tue, 03/10/2015 - 4:21pm

More than 60 students in the Doctor of Nursing Practice online program at the University of Arizona College of Nursing participated Monday in the college’s first White Coat Ceremony.

During the event, students representing 12 states received their white coats and affirmed their commitment to providing compassionate health care as future advanced nurse practitioners specializing in either family, pediatric, adult-gerontology acute care or psychiatric mental health.

Originally designed by the Arnold P. Gold Foundation as a way to welcome new medical students into the profession, White Coat Ceremonies were extended in 2014 to schools of nursing to welcome advanced-practice students.

"Nurse practitioners are essential to our health care system, particularly in primary care, where we are facing a significant and growing provider shortage," said Joan Shaver, dean of the UA College of Nursing. "Especially in rural and underserved areas, nurse practitioners are often the only health care provider."

NPs have been providing primary, acute and specialty health care to patients of all ages and walks of life for nearly half a century. Practicing in hospitals, emergent/urgent care, community-based clinics and in collaborative and solo practices, they work with patients to uncover disease and manage acute and chronic conditions and bothersome symptoms to achieve optimal health and wellness. They assess and diagnose, including ordering and interpreting diagnostic tests; initiate and manage treatments, including prescribing medications; refer to specialists, if needed; and provide health coaching for patient recovery and health-related self-care.

According to the American Association of Nurse Practitioners, more than 205,000 NPs are licensed in the United States. In 2012, more than 80 percent of NPs were educated for primary care practice. Studies show that NPs can expertly deliver 80 to 90 percent of care provided by primary care physicians. Primary-care NPs are significantly more likely than primary-care physicians to practice in urban and rural areas, provide care in a wider range of community settings, and serve a high proportion of uninsured patients and other vulnerable populations.

Although the Institute of Medicine has recommended that NPs be able to practice to the full extent of their education and training, the scope of practice for NPs varies by state, ranging from full autonomous practice authority (such as in Arizona) to restricted practice, requiring physician oversight of diagnoses, treatment plans and prescribing by NPs (via collaborative agreement or supervision).

Editor: dougcarrollByline: Janelle DrumwrightByline Affiliation: UA College of NursingHeader image: YesNo Image: Subheading: Originally designed to welcome new medical students into the profession, White Coat Ceremonies were extended in 2014 to schools of nursing to welcome advanced-practice students.Include in UANow: yesInclude in Olympic Coverage: noFeature on Olympic Page: noUANow Image: Includes video: 

'Z-Factor' to Explore Sleep, Learning Link

Tue, 03/10/2015 - 10:01am

In middle school, children either develop an affinity for math and science or begin believing they do not possess the mental agility necessary to succeed in subjects such as algebra and geometry.

Those subjects are important early entry points if youth are to eventually become nurses, physicians, software developers, engineers, business intelligence analysts and other high-in-demand specialists.

A University of Arizona team is working to circumvent that lost interest, targeting students before they even reach middle school — and involving their families — while also addressing another pervasive challenge in education: students' poor sleeping habits.

To drive interest in the science, technology, engineering and mathematics fields, the team has received nearly $1.2 million in funding through Innovative Technology Experiences for Students and Teachers, or ITEST, a program of the National Science Foundation.

The UA-led team is launching "A Sleep Education Program to Improve STEM Education in Elementary School," referred to as "Z-Factor."

"We believed it important to target students earlier in their educational experiences before their STEM interests and sleep habits decline," said Michelle Perfect, an associate professor in the UA College of Education's Department of Disability and Psychoeducational Studies.

Perfect and co-principal investigator Janet M. Roveda, an associate professor in the UA Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering, are leading the interdisciplinary initiative.

Partners include the UA College of Nursing, the Arizona Respiratory Center, the Medical School Division of Sleep Medicine at Harvard University, and the Southern Arizona Research, Science and Engineering Foundations. Also, the Science and Math Improvement Institute will conduct the external evaluation to ensure an independent review.

Over the next three years, more than 500 fourth- and fifth-grade Catalina Foothills School District students will use tools and technology developed by the UA-led team, tracking their sleeping habits in a scientific inquiry and analysis project.

The students will follow sleep science lessons the team is developing in conjunction with the Biological Sciences Curriculum Study, a national leader in science education, which could then be used in schools nationwide.

"The Z-Factor project will provide our teachers, students and parents with an incredible opportunity to participate in an interactive and interdisciplinary STEM curriculum around the sleep habits of young children, using state-of-the art technology to track sleep habits over time and investigate connections to academic and behavioral performance in the school setting," said Mary Jo Conery, associate superintendent of the Catalina Foothills School District.

"We are looking forward to this extraordinary collaborative effort that addresses an important health issue that is personally relevant to our students' lives."

Parental Involvement Seen as Vital

The involvement of families is notable.

"As a psychologist, a family systems perspective is integral to the education and health of children," Perfect said.

The team's work is informed by evidence-based research suggesting that parental involvement is essential to help boost a child's development, and to ensure that home conditions are set to support student learning.

"Many science projects do not help parents understand what is happening, preventing disconnections between the school and home, and they don't necessary teach children how to refine a process," Perfect said. "The parents are not just checking off a box of homework completion. They are co-investigators. They are actively involved in their child's school and their learning."

The project also is driven by an ever-growing body of literature indicating that students take a greater interest and are retained in STEM at higher levels when they are actively engaged in projects that have real-world applications.

And with nationwide data indicating that the U.S. is not graduating enough STEM degree recipients at the undergraduate level to remain globally competitive, and other research indicating that students lose interest in science and math before high school, the team intends the project to inspire students to follow STEM education and careers.

Students also will benefit from learning experiences outside of the classroom by way of field trips, webinars and visits with STEM professionals, among other activities.

"Students need role models. They need to know that there are individuals with disabilities, with minority backgrounds, who are English-language learners — and that they are all in STEM," Perfect said.

The team will investigate whether students involved retain an interest in STEM one year after their initial involvement.

Thus, the project offers an important and concerted focus on family, health, community-building and education, Perfect said.

"We hope the families will stay involved with their children, and we want to develop a curriculum that is alive and has more meaning," Perfect said. "To do that, we need to look at what they are learning not only in the classrooms, but outside of schools."

A Solution-Oriented Effort

Whereas many other STEM-focused research projects tend to focus on a single issue a time — such as limitations with in-class instruction, necessary improvements to student learning and engagement, or challenges associated with technology — Z-Factor addresses each of these issues through an innovative approach.

"ITEST's mission is to look at ways to instill STEM interest," Perfect said.

"The majority of proposals focus on middle school, high school or college," she said, "but we are focusing on elementary school students, which is the point before they develop worsening sleep habits and before they lose interest in STEM."

Field testing is set to begin in the spring of 2016, and the team will implement the program in fourth- and fifth-grade classrooms in the fall of 2016. Expansion plans include a second school in the Catalina Foothills district starting in the fall of 2017, and the dissemination of workshops in Tucson-area schools and others nationally.

The team also will provide professional development to the district's teachers involved in the project, to support teaching strategies and practices that align with the Next Generation Science Standards. Outreach to district families will emphasize parental involvement in children’s learning.

"This project would not be possible without scientists, educators, psychologists, statisticians," Perfect said.

Perfect and Roveda developed the proposal with Stuart Quan, of the Harvard Medical School Division of Sleep Medicine, and Charlotte Ackerman, a Catalina Foothills School District teacher.

Roveda said the team is developing interactive educational software and curricula to be used with Web-based and mobile technology, developing avatars for the mobile app students will use. Teachers also will have access to training on ways to adopt the educational software.

"We will facilitate the use of the tools and measurement gadgets, which will help students understand their sleep or other activities," Roveda said. She also noted that the team will be tracking parental involvement.

Students and their families will then be able to gather and analyze information about sleeping patterns, recording their data via mobile devices. The data, which will be secured and protected, will be used for in-school and at-home activities, thus creating direct connections between educators and families, the school and the home.

The focus on sleep is intentional.

The American Academy of Pediatrics has reported that children do not get enough sleep, which adversely effects school performance and other qualities of life. The problem is of such great nationwide concern that the association, in a policy statement released in 2014, deemed this a public health issue.

"Sleep insufficiency is a public health burden because it is a contributing factor in vehicle motor accidents, mental health problems, substance use, poorer performance on standardized tests, lower grades in school, diabetes risk and complications, and the obesity epidemic," Perfect said.

"Educators and clinicians often overlook the impact of unaddressed sleep problems when conducting evaluations or designing interventions. Since sleep is relative to everyone's life, using sleep as the conduit to incite interest in STEM also has the advantage of infusing sleep science into curriculum aligned with state and federal standards."

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

STEM-focused organizations with an interest in partnering with the Z-Factor team should contact Michelle Perfect at 520-626-1128 or

Header image: YesNo Image: Subheading: By looking at the connection of the two, a UA-led project has significant implications for STEM recruitment and retention, as well as family engagement and teacher development.Include in UANow: yesInclude in Olympic Coverage: noFeature on Olympic Page: noUANow Image: Includes video: 

UA Research Reveals Smaller Illicit Drug Supply

Mon, 03/09/2015 - 10:15pm

Cocaine producers have yet to recover from a federal restriction on a chemical critical to the drug's production, according to an international research team led by James Cunningham, an epidemiologist with the Department of Family and Community Medicine at the University of Arizona College of Medicine – Tucson.

After the restriction about eight years ago, the United States experienced a 35 percent decrease in cocaine purity, a 32 percent decrease in cocaine seized and a 100 percent increase in cocaine price — all indicators of a major downward shift in the drug's supply.

The restriction by the Drug Enforcement Administration targeted sodium permanganate, a cocaine "choke chemical" that is central — and difficult to replace — in the cocaine production process. Sodium permanganate began to be commercially mass-produced around the early 2000s, primarily in the United States, without controls or restrictions. Cocaine supply began increasing at that time and continued rising until December 2006, the point when the restriction required that large-volume sales of the chemical be approved by the DEA.

The same study also tested whether impacts occurred at the times of three previous chemical control restrictions. In December 1989, the U.S. government placed restrictions on potassium permanganate, another cocaine choke chemical mass-produced in the U.S. Immediately after that restriction, cocaine supply dropped sharply. In 1992 and 1995, restrictions were imposed on sulfuric acid, hydrochloric acid and methyl isobutyl ketone (a solvent), all of which commonly are used in cocaine production but do not reach the level of choke chemicals. These restrictions also were associated with immediate drops in cocaine supply, but not as large as those associated with sodium permanganate and potassium permanganate.

Cunningham noted that sodium permanganate and potassium permanganate are oxidizing agents that have numerous legitimate commercial uses, including municipal water and wastewater treatment, metal processing, and air and gas purification.

"The goal of chemical controls is to reduce supply and thus the drug’s use," Cunningham said. In fact, according to the National Survey on Drug Use and Health, the number of people in the U.S. reporting current cocaine use dropped from 2.42 million in 2006, nearly a year before the December 2006 restriction, to 1.54 million in 2013 — a 36 percent decline.

Cunningham and colleagues previously published the first studies showing that controls on chemicals needed to produce methamphetamine and heroin also have impacted supplies of those illicit drugs.

"Large-scale production of the big three drugs — cocaine, methamphetamine and heroin — requires massive amounts of selected commercial chemicals. Research indicates that controls on these chemicals can lessen the drugs’ supply," Cunningham said. "Costs of implementing the controls typically are minor, for both the government and the chemical companies involved."

The study used a quasi-experimental research design called "interrupted time series analysis" to test whether impacts occurred in association with the chemical restrictions. The series consisted of monthly measures of purity, seizure amount and price for cocaine and other drugs. Data came from the federal government’s System to Retrieve Information From Drug Evidence (1987-2011).

The study, "U.S. federal cocaine essential ('precursor') chemical regulation impacts on U.S. cocaine availability: an intervention time–series analysis with temporal replication," was published March 5 online before it printed in the scientific journal Addiction (

In addition to Cunningham, researchers who contributed to the study include Russell C. Callaghan, associate professor, Northern Medical Program, University of Northern British Columbia, Prince George, B.C., Canada; and Lon-Mu Liu, professor, Department of Economics and Public Economics Research Center, National Taiwan University, Taipei, Taiwan.

Editor: dougcarrollWriter: Jane EriksonByline: Jane EriksonByline Affiliation: UA College of Medicine – TucsonHeader image: YesNo Image: Subheading: After restrictions on a chemical critical to the production of cocaine, the U.S. experienced a 35 percent decrease in the drug's purity, a 32 percent decrease in the amount seized and a 100 percent increase in its price.Include in UANow: 0Include in Olympic Coverage: noFeature on Olympic Page: noIncludes video: 

Making the Most of a Museum

Mon, 03/09/2015 - 7:30pm

Museums are not always known as spaces that encourage active, hands-on participation, but the University of Arizona Museum of Art is working to redefine the contemporary museum. 

To commemorate its current exhibitions, including featured works by Andy Warhol and Salvador Dalí, the UAMA hosted Friday Night Art on March 6. "Beauties: The Photography of Andy Warhol" and "Salvador Dalí: Our Historical Heritage" remain open, along with exhibits featuring works from the museum's permanent collection. 

The event also featured a live DJ, dancers, lectures and an art scavenger hunt. Museum goers also were able to contribute to the production of a shared work, a surrealist method involving a single rotating composition. 

Organizers said the event was intended to introduce museum patrons to the varied works housed at the museum, some of which have been produced by world-renowned artists, and to illustrate that the museum is a vibrant, living organization that presents art and activities for people of varying backgrounds and experiences.

Video Thumbnail: Category(s): Arts and HumanitiesYouTube Video:  Friday Night Art Video of Friday Night Art Feature Sticky: OffFeature on Front: NoMedium Summary: The UA Museum of Art turned the tables on the typical staid museum experience, involving music, dance and even a scavenger hunt as part of Friday Night Art. UANow Image: Date of Publication: Monday, March 9, 2015Send to Never Settle Site: 0Includes video: The story include video

UA Places Five Graduate Programs in Top 10

Mon, 03/09/2015 - 6:46pm

Five University of Arizona graduate programs rank among the nation’s top 10, according to U.S. News & World Report’s 2016 edition of Best Graduate Schools, which was released today.

The University’s graduate program in management information systems, or MIS, housed in the Eller College of Management, moved up two places from the previous year, ranking third among all universities, both public and private. It is ranked No. 1 among public universities.

"Moving up two spots at the very top of the rankings is quite an accomplishment, and it is great recognition of the outstanding job we do in and out of the classroom," said Paulo Goes, Salter Professor and the department head of MIS. "We have the best faculty teaching our students leading-edge concepts of big-data analytics, cybersecurity and IT development in an environment full of real-world experiences enabled by our industry partners. We are proud of our graduates, who continue to be in high demand for employment at top companies."

Also ranking in the top 10 were UA graduate programs in speech-language pathology (5), rehabilitation counseling (6), earth sciences (7) and pharmacy (10). An additional 15 programs were ranked in the top 40 for their respective areas of study.

"The across-the-board excellence of the University of Arizona is reflected in the U.S. News graduate school rankings," said UA President Ann Weaver Hart. "Our Never Settle strategic plan has brought greater focus to our efforts at a time of enormous funding challenges. Without question, our faculty have been more resourceful than ever at preparing students for the future."

Notable gains also were made from the previous year by primary-care medicine (up 40 spots to 42), engineering (up six to 49) and education (up five to 43).

The annual rankings are based on two forms of data — expert opinions about program excellence and statistical indicators that measure the quality of a school’s faculty, research and students in five areas of study (engineering, medicine, law, business and education). 

Periodically, U.S. News also ranks programs in the sciences, humanities, health and other areas. These rankings are based on ratings by academic experts only. The UA’s speech-language pathology and pharmacy programs have ranked among the top 10 for more than 20 years.

Here is the list of U.S. News rankings for the UA:

  • Information systems (3)
  • Speech-language pathology (5)
  • Rehabilitation counseling (6)
  • Earth sciences (7)
  • Pharmacy (10)
  • Entrepreneurship (11)
  • Audiology (12)
  • Educational psychology (16)
  • Sociology (20)
  • Online M.B.A. (29)
  • Part-time M.B.A. (33)
  • Library and information studies (33)
  • Fine arts (36)
  • Economics (36)
  • Public affairs (37)
  • Nursing (38)
  • Biological sciences (38)
  • Physics (39)
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Editor: dougcarrollByline Affiliation: University Relations - CommunicationsHeader image: YesNo Image: Subheading: Program in management information systems, housed in the Eller College of Management, is ranked third by U.S. News & World Report among all colleges and universities — and first among public institutions.Include in UANow: yesInclude in Olympic Coverage: noFeature on Olympic Page: noUANow Image: Includes video: 

Former President of Ireland to Speak at UA

Mon, 03/09/2015 - 5:09pm

The former president of Ireland, Mary Robinson, will present a talk, "Everybody Matters: Climate Change and Human Rights," at 6 p.m. Thursday in Centennial Hall on the University of Arizona campus. Admission is free.

Robinson, who served as the first woman president of Ireland from 1990 to 1997 and as United Nations high commissioner for human rights from 1997 to 2002, will discuss the importance of including the most vulnerable populations of the world in solutions to climate change.

"Climate change threatens lives and livelihoods around the world," said Diana Liverman, co-director of the UA’s Institute of the Environment. "The University of Arizona has dozens of faculty and students working on society and climate change. The southwestern U.S. is a region where climate change will have disproportionate impacts on poor, indigenous and other often-disadvantaged people. I am thrilled Mrs. Robinson accepted our invitation to speak on this topic."

Robinson’s talk is presented in conjunction with the Tucson Festival of Books. Her 2013 book, "Everybody Matters: My Life Giving Voice," will be on sale in Centennial Hall ($18 paperback, $26 hardcover).

In 2005, Robinson was named a "Hero and Icon" as one of Time magazine’s top 100 men and women whose "power, talent or moral example is transforming the world." As a U.N. special envoy on climate change and president of the Mary Robinson Foundation – Climate Justice, she works to seek justice for those who are particularly vulnerable to the impacts of climate change, especially the poor and marginalized, and to improve the record on human rights and environmental governance around the world.

She is a founding member of the Council of Women World Leaders and a member of the Elders, a group of world leaders founded by Nelson Mandela who contribute their wisdom, independent leadership and integrity to help make the world a better and more peaceful place. 

Trained as a lawyer, Robinson is the recipient of numerous honors and awards, including the Presidential Medal of Freedom from President Barack Obama and the Amnesty International Ambassador of Conscience award. 

Robinson’s visit — her first to Arizona — is sponsored by the Agnese Nelms Haury Program in Environment and Social Justice. The program supports individuals and activities that seek to understand and convey the challenges facing society in a world at risk from environmental change and loss of natural and cultural diversity. 

"Mary Robinson is the perfect choice to honor Mrs. Haury’s interests in environment and social justice and her commitment to international cooperation," Liverman said. "Mrs. Robinson has been a tireless advocate for human rights and a role model in international leadership, most recently on climate change. She is particularly concerned about how climate change will affect the most vulnerable and on ensuring an ethical response. I heard her speak at a recent international conference and she is inspiring."

Editor: dougcarrollByline Affiliation: University Relations - CommunicationsWhat: Mary RobinsonWhere: Centennial Hall, UA campus When: 6 p.m. Thursday, March 12Header image: YesNo Image: Subheading: Mary Robinson will talk about the connection between climate change and human rights at Centennial Hall.Include in UANow: yesInclude in Olympic Coverage: noFeature on Olympic Page: noUANow Image: Includes video: 

NSF Division Director Sizes Up UA's STEM Initiatives

Mon, 03/09/2015 - 3:53pm

Just weeks after France Córdova, director of the National Science Foundation, visited the University of Arizona to learn about the institution's renowned research and teaching, the agency's division leader for undergraduate education toured the campus. 

Susan Singer, who leads the NSF's Division of Undergraduate Education, was at the UA this week to speak about nationwide efforts to increase student interest and retention in the science, technology, engineering and mathematics, or STEM, fields.

Representing one of the most important federal funding agencies in the U.S., Singer shared her enthusiasm for the UA's STEM activities, particularly those launched under the Association of American Universities initiative to improve undergraduate STEM education. The AAU is an association of 62 leading research universities in the U.S. and Canada.

"The exciting thing about the AAU grant you have is that you have frontier scientists doing amazing things, and you have people on the cutting edge of education research," Singer said Monday, speaking during a seminar titled "Vision and Change in Undergraduate Education."

Dozens of UA students, faculty and administrators attended the talk, during which Singer detailed the federal government's plan for catalyzing STEM education. Ultimately, the nation must improve STEM teaching for the benefit of driving the nation's global competitive advantage and economic strength, Singer said.

In 2013, the UA became one of eight institutions in the U.S. to be named an AAU partner in a major nationwide initiative, funded by the Leona M. and Harry B. Helmsley Charitable Trust, that is reshaping how students learn and how faculty teach in STEM.

In the same year, the UA's Never Settle strategic plan was launched. Among other priorities, the plan encourages the campus community to reimagine student engagement, involving all students in applied experiences to be better prepared for the workforce.

Singer's three-day visit was part of a continuing effort to share the growing importance and impact of the UA's STEM-related activities. 

"Our goal for Dr. Singer's visit was to receive feedback on our project," said Gail Burd, the UA's senior vice provost for academic affairs and principal investigator on the UA's AAU grant.

During her visit, Singer observed UA Distinguished Professor Paul Blowers and John Pollard, the UA's director of general chemistry, teach courses redesigned under the AAU initiative. Modeled on active-learning principles, both documented evidence that students in the redesigned courses are retained in STEM and perform better than those who do not.

After visiting Blowers' class, Singer said: "I thought, 'Wow, I could have been an engineer if I had been taught that way,'" later noting that merely adopting emergent technologies will not necessarily drive student interest or success in STEM.

"Students need to encounter a problem and get curious first, like the chemistry class I attended earlier. Then we need to let them get to the solution," she said. "That is a terrific way to learn."

In many ways, the UA's STEM activities align with many priorities and concerns that Singer detailed during her seminar. 

Singer reported nationwide data indicating that the U.S. is falling behind other countries in degree attainment for individuals ages 24 to 44, and that those from the lowest socioeconomic backgrounds have not seen notable growth in attainment for a period dating back to the 1960s.

"We really need everybody to be contributing productively in our society. But something is shifting pretty rapidly.... There is a huge pool of people out there whose talents we are not using," Singer said, adding that another national imperative is to improve science literacy for all.

"Together, we really need to push hard to create a globally competitive workforce. It is important to have a scientifically literate populace. It's not just about producing more scientists and engineers."

Singer also spoke about ways by which innovative institutions are helping to improve degree attainment, particularly in the STEM fields.

Such institutions, Singer said, are creating a "blurring of boundaries" by blending face-to-face instruction with technology-enhanced learning environments, formal and informal learning, and academic teachings with civic engagement.

"Some of you are already all over this," Singer said.

Singer also emphasized that enhancing the STEM fields is not only about driving more students toward related degrees, but also changing the way students engage with the disciplines.

"We need to develop flexible, fluid learners," she said. Therefore, she said, it is essential that faculty rely on emergent, evidence-based teaching practices to ensure improved academic outcomes for students.

Also during her visit, Singer learned about ways the UA is training STEM faculty to experiment with new approaches to teaching, to help foster collaborative classroom environments. In this effort, students are seen as teaching-learning partners, and faculty regularly bring real-world data and experiences to the classroom so that students can develop solutions for current challenges.

Deb Tomanek, the UA's associate vice president for instruction and assessment, said she and others were especially grateful that Singer emphasized the importance of relying on learning-sciences research to develop and adopt new teaching practices.

That's what AAU STEM project faculty are doing at the UA, she said. 

"It is important for all of us, as educators, to inform our decisions about how to teach with what is known about how our students learn," said Tomanek, also the co-principal investigator on the UA's AAU grant and a molecular and cellular biology professor. "Dr. Singer's presentation and the time she spent talking with us here at the UA elevated the importance of the message that our project works so hard to deliver. 

"Time and time again, evidence-based teaching approaches have been shown to result in better learning for STEM students than traditional lectures. We just need to keep working to implement these effective approaches in more classrooms. When a high-level NSF person like Dr. Singer delivers the same message, what a great day for undergraduate STEM education at the UA."

Editor: dougcarrollWriter: La Monica Everett-HaynesByline: La Monica Everett-HaynesByline Affiliation: University Relations - CommunicationsHeader image: YesNo Image: Subheading: Susan Singer, who leads the Division of Undergraduate Education of the National Science Foundation, visited the University this week to learn about STEM initiatives. Include in UANow: yesInclude in Olympic Coverage: noFeature on Olympic Page: noUANow Image: Includes video: 

Hacking Away With the UA

Mon, 03/09/2015 - 12:31pm
Date of Publication: Wednesday, March 11, 2015

Statement from University of Arizona President Ann Weaver Hart regarding FY16 Budget

Sat, 03/07/2015 - 12:22pm

UA President Ann Weaver Hart released the following statement in response to the state's budget approval:

"I am deeply disappointed with the size of the cuts to higher education in the budget just passed by the Arizona Legislature. All of us at the UA believe universities are a major economic driver for our state and are critical to our future. The innovations and human talent generated by our great universities have shaped and will continue to shape the solutions to grand challenges faced by all of us. These cuts will have devastating effects on the University of Arizona, but we will continue to strive for excellence and serve the students who are at the heart of that future.
"While the reductions in state support will require tremendous sacrifice and change, we appreciate the hard work of our elected officials—as well as the tremendous support from our alumni and the business community—and hope that we can work together on a long-term plan for stable funding that includes a strong role for higher education in Arizona."

Editor: La Monica Everett-HaynesByline Affiliation: University Relations - CommunicationsHeader image: YesNo Image: Subheading: UA President Ann Weaver Hart has released a statement on the new budget. Include in UANow: yesInclude in Olympic Coverage: noFeature on Olympic Page: noIncludes video: 

UA Tech Park Has Major Regional Impact

Thu, 03/05/2015 - 4:18pm

Tech Parks Arizona has released a new study documenting the economic impact of the University of Arizona Science and Technology Park (UA Tech Park) and its significant contributions to Pima County’s economy. 

The report indicates that the UA Tech Park and its resident companies have an annual economic impact of $2.33 billion on the county’s economy.

UA Tech Park tenants generated $106 million in state and local taxes in 2013.

The study also reflects that the 1,300-acre Tech Park is a center for high-wage jobs. The average wage of a worker at a UA Tech Park tenant was $91,145, which is about twice the Pima County average of $46,363.  In 2013, these tenants paid $567.5 million in direct wages to their employees.

The UA Tech Park remains one of the largest employment centers in the Tucson region, hosting 45 companies and organizations that employ nearly 6,500 skilled workers and drawing employees from throughout the region — not only from areas and neighborhoods immediately adjacent to the park.

Biannually, UA Tech Park tenants are surveyed to quantify the impact that the Tech Park has on the economy. The current study, authored by independent consultant Vera Pavlakovich-Kochi, analyzes the economic and tax revenue impact of the UA Tech Park in Pima County for the calendar year 2013. The full report can be accessed online.

For the past 20 years, Tech Parks Arizona has helped to advance UA technology innovation and commercialization through the UA Tech Park. In doing so, it has contributed in significant ways to the economic development of southern Arizona and the Tucson metropolitan area. The park’s contribution to the region extends far beyond the number of tenants, wages paid or tax revenue generated. Its primary impact is in helping to advance new technology that expands and diversifies the local and state economies. 

Over the past few years, the UA Tech Park has emerged as a major center for the testing, evaluation, demonstration and application of University and industry-generated technology. Validating technology concepts before they reach the market is a critical need of both industry and University researchers. 

"I think we're capturing national and international attention with the results we've had," said Bruce Wright, associate vice president for Tech Parks Arizona, noting that three Israeli companies have applied to come to the Tech Park. "We want to grow even more employment and opportunity. ... This is a work in progress, and we're making good progress."

Editor: dougcarrollByline Affiliation: Tech Parks ArizonaHeader image: YesNo Image: Subheading: Study reveals an annual economic impact of $2.33 billion on the economy of Pima County, and the park is a center for high-wage jobs.Include in UANow: 0Include in Olympic Coverage: noFeature on Olympic Page: noIncludes video: 

Lovers of Learning to Unite at Book Fest

Thu, 03/05/2015 - 12:25pm

If you can find it in a book, you probably will find it at the Tucson Festival of Books, one of the nation's largest book festivals.

Held at the University of Arizona, the free festival will include panel discussions by best-selling and emerging authors, a literary circus, culturally diverse programs, a poetry venue, exhibitor booths and two youth contests.

The festival also includes Science City, which promotes literacy in science, technology, engineering and mathematics, and an author pavilion, a venue for visitors to meet with more than 200 authors.

Festival authors will represent genres that include poetry, culinary arts, business and leadership, philosophy, youth writing, sci-fi, horror, thrillers, memoirs, romance, health and nature, and other topics. Festival presenters include:

  • Mitch Albom, the best-selling author of "Tuesdays With Morrie" and "The First Phone Call From Heaven." Albom is also a screenwriter, playwright and journalist.
  • Award-winning photographer Jackie Alpers. 
  • Dave Barry, a Pulitzer Prize-winning author and columnist, who wrote a nationally syndicated humor column.
  • Noam Chomsky, who will speak at a special event sponsored by the UA College of Social and Behavioral Sciences in partnership with the festival and The Nation magazine, which is celebrating its 150th anniversary. "A Conversation With Noam Chomsky" will include an interview with John Nichols, the Washington, D.C., correspondent for The Nation.
  • Jenny Han, the young-adult author of the New York Times best-selling series "The Summer I Turned Pretty."
  • J.A. Jance, the New York Times best-selling author of the "Joanna Brady" series.
  • Bernice L. McFadden, author of eight critically acclaimed novels, including "Glorious," which was featured in O, The Oprah Magazine and was a finalist for the NAACP Image Award.
  • Amy Tan, author of the "The Joy Luck Club" and "The Kitchen God's Wife." Tan's most recent book, "The Valley of Amazement," was released last year.
  • Emmy Award winner Alan Zweibel, an original "Saturday Night Live" comedy writer who also has worked on television shows, including "Monk" and "Curb Your Enthusiasm."
  • Award winner Luis Alberto Urrea, the best-selling author of 16 books, including "The Devil's Highway" and "The Hummingbird's Daughter."

The Tucson Festival of Books supports organizations that are working to improve literacy rates in southern Arizona, including Reading Seed, Literacy Connects and UA literacy outreach programs. Since 2009, the festival has contributed more than $1 million to such organizations. In addition to its contribution to literacy, the festival also generates more than $3 million for the local economy.

"Giving back to promote literacy is the real success of the festival," Bill Viner, chief executive officer of Pepper Viner Homes and one of the festival's founders, said in a statement. "Literacy is the foundation of building a strong, vibrant community, and the Tucson Festival of Books is proud to play a role in ensuring vital literacy programs are available."

Editor: dougcarrollByline Affiliation: University Relations - CommunicationsWhat: Tucson Festival of BooksWhere: Locations surrounding the UA MallWhen: 9:30 a.m. to 5:30 p.m., Friday and Saturday, March 14 and 15Extra Info: 

Need help navigating the Tucson Festival of Books? Information is available online:

  • Event schedule
  • Author list
  • Parking and the festival map (Note that the UA's Second Street Garage is reserved for presenting authors and sponsors; no public access to the garage will be offered. Also, use of public transportation is strongly encouraged. The SunTran bus system and SunLink streetcar provide convenient options to parking at the UA.)
  • Online tickets for select venues
  • Access for individuals with disabilities
  • Food vendors
  • Follow the festival on social media: via Twitter using @TFOB; on Facebook; and on Instagram
  • To make a donation
  • For more information, call 520-621-0302


Header image: YesNo Image: Subheading: The annual Tucson Festival of Books, a community-wide celebration of literature on the UA campus, generates more than $3 million for the local economy. Include in UANow: yesInclude in Olympic Coverage: noFeature on Olympic Page: noUANow Image: Includes video: 

Laser Day Lights Up Young Crowd

Wed, 03/04/2015 - 3:42pm

Dozens of children huddle around a thin, purple laser bouncing back and forth inside of a transparent plastic tube, as a student volunteer explains that this tube is what makes the Internet possible. In the next room, a pickle is being electrocuted as a way to demonstrate how streetlights work, while just around the corner kids are lining up to gaze down a seven-foot kaleidoscope.

These were a few of the scenes at the UA College of Optical Sciences' Laser Fun Day, an annual STEM outreach event held on Feb. 28 on the University of Arizona campus. The event is organized by the UA Student Optics Chapter, or SOCk, in affiliation with the International Society for Optics and Photonics, or SPIE, and The Optical Society, two of the largest and most prestigious professional societies in the field of optics.

"When most people hear about optics, they think of eyeglasses or lasers," said Benjamin Cromey, vice president of SOCk and an undergraduate in the College of Optical Sciences. "We want to bring people here and show them that optics is involved in every aspect of daily life — from medicine to the Internet connection that lets you pull up that cat video on your phone."

Consisting of 25 demonstrations, the event required 110 volunteers to coordinate. While most of those were students, representatives of Raytheon, Edmund Optics and the Society of Hispanic Professional Engineers also hosted demonstrations. Laser Fun Day attracted more than 1,400 attendees of all ages.

This year has been declared by the United Nations as the International Year of Light, a global effort to raise awareness about the importance of optical sciences and light-based technologies. To celebrate the occasion, Laser Fun Day focused on five key areas where optical science has the most transformative power: communications, health, agriculture, energy and education.

"Optics is everywhere, in so many different ways," Cromey said. "The goal of Laser Fun Day is to showcase just how impactful the optical sciences can be."

Indeed, the demos spanned a wide variety of fields, ranging from a model eye illustrating the effects of aging on vision to a photo op with an infrared camera where people could see the warmest parts of their faces. It also was possible to learn how a 3-D television works, explore the bizarre effects of a parabola-shaped funhouse mirror and visualize the displacement of air by a flame using a technique called Schlieren imaging.

By far the biggest hit at the event was its signature laser maze, which recently was redesigned thanks to a grant from SPIE. Participants in the laser maze had to navigate their way through a complex network of lasers in an otherwise pitch-black room, calling to mind a scene out of a science-fiction movie.

Cromey and other student volunteers, who conducted surveys showing that more than half of the crowd had never before been exposed to the optical sciences, emphasized that the most important aspect of the event is to open young minds to the possibilities of light science.

"Without outreach events like this one, some students might never get exposed to optics," said Cromey, who first discovered a love for optical science in high school. "For me, the most rewarding part is seeing the look of awe on kids' faces the first time they see themselves through an infrared camera or look down a giant kaleidoscope. It's a fantastic sight to see and makes all the months of work worth it."

Editor: dougcarrollWriter: Raymond SanchezByline: Raymond Sanchez, NASA Space Grant InternByline Affiliation: University Relations – CommunicationsHeader image: YesNo Image: Subheading: The College of Optical Sciences' annual STEM outreach event draws an audience of more than 1,400 for a glimpse inside the world of light-based technology.Include in UANow: yesInclude in Olympic Coverage: noFeature on Olympic Page: noUANow Image: Includes video: 

Science City Adds Pi to the Menu

Wed, 03/04/2015 - 3:42pm

A diverse, excitement-filled Science City lineup awaits visitors as the University of Arizona prepares to share science with the masses at the annual Tucson Festival of Books on March 14 and 15.

Visitors to Science City will experience the connection between their daily lives and advances in science and learn about groundbreaking research being done at the UA. The Tucson Festival of Books is the fourth-largest book festival in the world, but it is the only one to incorporate science as a key component.

The UA’s BIO5 Institute and College of Science are the co-hosts of Science City in association with the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences, in partnership with the Arizona SciTech Festival, and with the continued support of the primary sponsor, the Helios Education Foundation, and other valued community and business sponsors. Science City is the state's largest STEM event.

Science City’s themed "neighborhoods" include the Science of Everyday Life, the Science of Tomorrow, the Science of You and the Science of the Natural World. Across these neighborhoods, 80 participating groups will feature engaging, hands-on activities and interactive demonstrations for science lovers of all ages to learn about innovations in health, science, engineering and technology.

Faculty, students and volunteers from UA programs such as Biosphere 2; the OSIRIS-REx asteroid sample return mission; the Arizona Science of Baseball; Insect Discovery; Family and Consumer Sciences; Biomedical Engineering; Geosciences; the School of Mind, Brain and Behavior; Plant Sciences; the Arizona Genomics Institute; Planetary Science; the Office of Sustainability, and others will be on hand to share their passion for science.

In addition to Science City’s four neighborhoods, this year also will feature a Science of Pi (π) zone in recognition of Super Pi Day — 3/14/15, the date that comes closest to the mathematical representation of pi (3.141592653 ...). A celebratory Super Pi kickoff activity will start at 9 a.m. on March 14.

From robots and insects to explosive demonstrations to enriching tours and talks, Science City is filled with wonders. To start building your Science City 2015 must-see list, here are some suggestions:

  • Get up close and personal with some of our friendly neighborhood wildlife friends at the Arizona Sonora Desert Museum Live Animal Show at 11:30 a.m. daily on the Science Stage.
  • Experience the power of pi by maneuvering Buffon’s needles, a hands-on way to estimate pi by using just toothpicks and parallel lines, by making a visual representation of pi with colors or by designing your own bouncy ball in the Science of Pi neighborhood.
  • Watch volcano eruption simulations (at 11 a.m. and 1 and 3 p.m. daily) as demonstrated by the Geosciences Department.
  • See the newly opened trilobite exhibit or a show in the new FullDome theater at the Flandrau Science Center and Planetarium.
  • Meet a scientist at the Science Café, which will feature talks by world-class UA researchers on diverse topics including African rice, Jupiter’s moons, mountain women, aneurysms, DNA sequencing, wearable technology and game-based therapies, and innovative veterinary care.
  • Make and launch your own bottle rocket.
  • Enjoy yummy insects, mushrooms and other culinary "treats."
  • Extract DNA at the BIO5 Institute

  • Get a scorpion tattoo at the VIPER Institute 
  • Eat ice cream made with liquid nitrogen at the Chemistry Club booth.
  • See the largest museum insect collection in Arizona during tours Saturday at 9:30 and 11:30 a.m. and 1:30 and 3 p.m.
  • Hear from two UA physicians, Dr. Peter Rhee and Dr. Richard Carmona, about prevention and innovation that can preserve health and extend human life at 2:30 p.m. Saturday on the Science Stage.
  • ‪Share the excitement of discovering and following asteroids and learn about the upcoming OSIRIS-REx asteroid sample return mission at the Lunar and Planetary Laboratory booth.

UA open houses and tours that will run throughout the weekend include the Richard F. Caris Mirror Lab; the Flandrau Science Center and Planetarium, the Laboratory of Tree-Ring Research; the Campus Arboretum; the Physics Department; the Insect Collection; the Museum of Natural History, Ecology and Evolutionary Biology; and the Herbaria.

For up-to-date information on all tours, talks and activities, visit Science City online at and follow on Twitter and Facebook @TFOBScienceCity. Festival admission, parking, and Science City open houses and tours are free.

Editor: dougcarrollByline: Lisa RomeroByline Affiliation: BIO5 InstituteWhat: Science CityWhere: Tucson Festival of Books, UA MallWhen: 9:30 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. March 14 and 15Extra Info:

Header image: YesNo Image: Subheading: The largest STEM event in the state represents a two-day community celebration of science, imagination and literacy on the UA campus.Include in UANow: yesInclude in Olympic Coverage: noFeature on Olympic Page: noUANow Image: Includes video: 

Leading the Way on Never Settle: Jon Dudas

Tue, 03/03/2015 - 4:38pm

When Jon Dudas first went to work for the U.S. government, his plan was to stay in Washington, D.C., for just two years. Two quickly turned into 15 and Dudas ultimately left his government career in 2009, having served the previous five years as undersecretary of commerce for intellectual property and director of the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office.

By that time, Dudas had long had his eye on Arizona. His grandparents, parents and brothers already had moved to the state, and when his oldest son eventually decided to attend the University of Arizona, Dudas knew it was time for him to head west, too.

Dudas transitioned to a career in academia when he assumed the role of senior associate to the president and secretary of the university last summer. In his position, he acts as a liaison between the UA and the Arizona Board of Regents and works to ensure that board members, as well as members of the greater community, understand the value of the UA to the state. Dudas reports directly to President Ann Weaver Hart and works closely with her and other campus leaders.

Prior to directing the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office, Dudas served as the counsel for legal policy and senior floor assistant to Speaker of the U.S. House of Representatives Dennis Hastert, and as staff director and deputy general counsel of the U.S. House Judiciary Committee.

Following his U.S. government tenure, he served as the president of FIRST, a nonprofit organization that aims to inspire children to pursue majors and careers in the STEM — science, technology, engineering and math — fields. He also was a partner in the law firm Foley & Lardner LLC, where he specialized in international intellectual property strategy and policy.

Throughout his career, innovation has been a central theme, and Dudas says the UA's role as a leading innovator in the state is part of what makes the University "an easy place to love."

Video Thumbnail: Category(s): Campus NewsYouTube Video:  Never Settle-Jon Dudas Video of Never Settle-Jon Dudas Feature Sticky: OffFeature on Front: NoMedium Summary: As senior associate to President Ann Weaver Hart, he acts as a liaison between the UA and the Arizona Board of Regents.UANow Image: Date of Publication: Wednesday, March 4, 2015Send to Never Settle Site: 0Includes video: 

'Romeo & Juliet' Has Distinct UA Flavor

Tue, 03/03/2015 - 2:35pm

The internship program that the University of Arizona's School of Theatre, Film & Television has with the professional Arizona Theatre Company has been part of a mutually beneficial partnership for several years. 

And this year's production of "Romeo & Juliet" boasts nine UA School of Theatre, Film & Television students — the largest number of students in an Arizona Theatre Company production to date.

Five ensemble members are getting the broadest exposure that the UA is able to offer a group of theatre students, said Kevin Black, an associate professor of practice in the School of Theatre, Film & Television, who is also a member of the production in the role of Juliet's father.

The students are Sterling Boyns, Hunter Hnat, Paul Thomson, Silvia Vannoy and Brenna Welsh. Also, students Bryn Booth, Abigail Harms, David Hentz and Brian Klimowski are understudies for the ensemble members.

Vannoy, a UA senior, is the understudy for Lady Capulet and Juliet. She also sings and plays musical instruments during the production.

In addition to the current students, UA theatre alumni are working behind the scenes.

"This is just one example of what's possible between our school and this regional theatre in the state of Arizona," Black said. "For the students to be able to create roles, action and to be part of the company is a tremendous educational benefit. And the students get credit, too."

Black said he is pleased to see the students exceed the expectations of the professionals surrounding them.

"The students are admired a great deal by the rest of the company," Black said. "They're doing stellar work, which confirms that the standards they have and that they were taught at the University of Arizona are working." 

Black said he believes the students' talent stems from a program that has been tested, refined and designed for each student to grow and obtain Actors’ Equity membership.

The production, along with its student ensemble, will travel to Phoenix at the end of March.

Also involved is an associate professor in the School of Theatre, Film & Television, Brent Gibbs, artistic director for the UA's Arizona Repertory Theatre. Gibbs is a certified teacher and fight director with the Society of American Fight Directors, and he is the fight choreographer for the production.

David Morden, an assistant professor in the UA school and an actor, was hired for the role of voice and speech coach for the production.

"There are major contributions coming from the University of Arizona to this production," Black said. "This is a prime example of a great collaboration."

Editor: dougcarrollWriter: Lisa PierceByline: Lisa PierceByline Affiliation: UA School of Theatre, Film & TelevisionExtra Info: 

"Romeo & Juliet" will run through March 21 in Tucson. For tickets, visit the Arizona Theatre Company online, or call 520-622-2823 in Tucson and 602-256-6995 in Phoenix.

Header image: YesNo Image: Subheading: A record nine students from the School of Theatre, Film & Television are part of the Arizona Theatre Company production, which runs through March 21 in Tucson before going off to Phoenix. Include in UANow: yesInclude in Olympic Coverage: noFeature on Olympic Page: noIncludes video: 

Banner – University Medicine to Transform Care

Mon, 03/02/2015 - 5:12pm

The merger of the University of Arizona Health Network and Banner Health, considered a new model for providing medical services, research and education, is now complete.

Finalized on Friday, the Banner – University Medicine division is one of the most recent pivotal outcomes of Never Settle, the UA's strategic plan, and is expected to transform the health care landscape in Arizona. The merger also makes Banner Health the largest private employer in Arizona, with more than 37,000 employees.

"This merger is revolutionizing academic medicine and will benefit the entire state of Arizona," said UA President Ann Weaver Hart.

"The nation's health care industry is witnessing accelerating change, which is being felt in Arizona with the demands resulting from the aging of the population, greater need for doctors and increased health care costs," Hart said. "Banner – University Medicine will be on the forefront of helping our state address these challenges, and as the UA's clinical partner for our two medical schools it will allow us to extend our mission to both advance medical education and transform health care to meet new and existing demands."

Key elements of the finalized merger include: 

  • The Banner – University Medicine division, a health system anchored in Tucson and Phoenix, providing an Arizona-based, statewide health system to Arizonans.
  • Three hospitals, which have undergone name changes:
    • The University of Arizona Medical Center – University Campus is now Banner – University Medical Center Tucson.
    • The University of Arizona Medical Center – South Campus is now Banner – University Medical Center South.
    • Banner Good Samaritan Medical Center in Phoenix is now Banner – University Medical Center Phoenix.
  • An expansion of medical center capabilities for complex academic/clinical programs, such as transplantations, neurosciences, genomics-driven precision health, geriatrics and pediatrics.
  • A $500 million injection of capital to support construction and renovations of the 44-year-old medical center on North Campbell Avenue in Tucson over the next several years.
  • A $300 million endowment to provide a $20 million annual revenue stream to advance the UA's clinical and translational research mission.

Banner Health has had a long history of affiliation with the Arizona Health Sciences Center and its Colleges of Medicine in both Tucson and Phoenix. Over the decades, hundreds of UA medical school graduates have furthered their medical education in residencies at Banner – University Medical Center Phoenix, formerly Banner Good Samaritan.

Now, under aligned leadership and working toward a single goal of creating nationally ranked academic medical centers, the new division will support the growing needs of the UA Colleges of Medicine in Tucson and Phoenix.

Among other collaborations, Banner's three academic medical centers and UA College of Medicine faculty will oversee graduate medical education for about 1,000 physicians statewide each year in a variety of residency and fellowship programs. All eligible programs are accredited by the Accreditation Council for Graduate Medical Education, which establishes exacting national standards for approval and assessment of graduate medical education programs.

"We are convinced that our private/public partnership will help play a lead role in the transformation of health care in our state and beyond," Hart said. "This is a formula that can elevate both the quality and management of care for our state's citizens along with the reputation of Arizona as a national leader in health care."

Rebecca Ruiz, a UA information specialist coordinator, contributed to this story. 

Editor: dougcarrollByline Affiliation: University Relations - CommunicationsHeader image: YesNo Image: Subheading: A groundbreaking agreement between the University of Arizona Health Network and Banner Health is now complete, resulting in the Banner – University Medicine division, a comprehensive new model for academic medicine. Include in UANow: yesInclude in Olympic Coverage: noFeature on Olympic Page: noUANow Image: Includes video: 

'Body Smart Day' at UA

Mon, 03/02/2015 - 3:56pm

The University of Arizona observed National Eating Disorders Awareness Week with its own Body Smart Day, which was Feb. 25.  

The Body Smart Fair, held on the UA Mall in front of Old Main, celebrated "every body" and individual uniqueness. Student organizations participated in interactive activities and giveaways that promote positive body image, support intrinsic self-worth, or elicit acknowledgment of gratitude and kindness. Healthy Body Image surveys were conducted by student volunteers. The information from the surveys contributes to a national database for statistics on body image and eating disorders.  

Body Smart Day is an annual event coordinated by the Body Smart Initiative, a UA student-led program of the Campus Health Service, with the mission of enhancing self-worth and positive body image among UA students.

Video Thumbnail: Category(s): Campus NewsHealthYouTube Video:  Body Smart Day 2015 Video of Body Smart Day 2015 Feature Sticky: OffFeature on Front: NoMedium Summary: Student-led initative promotes positive body image, and the program's annual fair on campus celebrates uniqueness and self-worth.UANow Image: Date of Publication: Monday, March 2, 2015Send to Never Settle Site: 0Includes video: