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A Visual Journey to Bennu, the Target of OSIRIS-REx

Wed, 11/12/2014 - 10:35
Asteroid Bennu, the target of OSIRIS-REx, NASA's first mission to a pristine carbonaceous asteroid that may hold clues to the origins of life in our solar system, took center stage on Nov. 12 at the AAS' Division for Planetary Sciences meeting in Tucson. The mission's principal investigator, Dante Lauretta, unveiled a video animation chronicling the history and evolution of Bennu, and presented a review paper summarizing what scientists have learned about Bennu during 12 years of astronomical observations.    The talk included the first public viewing of "Bennu's Journey," an animation created by NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center that highlights the asteroid and the mission for non-technical audiences. "Bennu's Journey" takes the viewer on a visually stunning exploration to the origins of asteroid Bennu and its travels that take it past the Earth every six years.    "We have taken the scientific results of the ground-based observing campaign and combined the data with results obtained through computer simulations, to make the animation," said Lauretta, a professor of planetary science in the University of Arizona's Lunar and Planetary Laboratory.    The product, scheduled for public release on Nov. 18, is Goddard's first animation in the new 4k standard, providing images with four times the resolution of high-definition TV. Movie posters, wallpapers and the movie itself (after Nov. 18) can be downloaded from the OSIRIS-REx mission website.   "Our review paper summarizes the results of an extensive campaign to determine the physical, geological and dynamical properties of Bennu and provides the fundamental scientific motivation for the mission and explains what we're hoping to learn," Lauretta said. "The great value of an asteroid sample return lies in the knowledge that the sample is pristine and we know exactly where it came from. This is in sharp contrast to meteorites, which come to Earth from unknown origins, are altered by their trip through the atmosphere and exposed to the elements before they are found."    Scheduled for launch in the fall of 2016, OSIRIS-REx will rendezvous with Bennu in 2018, swoop down onto the asteroid's surface, collect a sample and return it to Earth in 2023. The OSIRIS-REx mission promises to help scientists address some basic questions about the composition of the very early solar system, the source of organic materials and water that made life possible on Earth, and to better predict the orbits of asteroids that represent collision threats to the Earth.    "Our knowledge of Bennu's orbit allows us to assess its impact hazard," Lauretta said. “Bennu is one of the most Potentially Hazardous Asteroids with an approximate 1-in-2,700 chance of impacting the Earth in the late 22nd century."    In 2135, Bennu will pass 300,000 kilometers (186,411 miles) over the surface of the Earth, well inside the orbit of the moon. The highest probability for a planetary impact is with Venus, followed by the Earth. In the statistically most likely scenario, the asteroid will end its dynamical life by falling into the sun within the next 10 million years. There also is a chance that Bennu will be ejected from the inner solar system after a close encounter with Jupiter.   Bennu is a primitive carbonaceous asteroid, thought to contain organic matter and water and hold valuable clues to the formation of the solar system and the origin of life-seeding molecules on Earth.    "We infer that Bennu is an ancient object that has witnessed more than 4.5 billion years of solar system history," Lauretta said. "Its chemistry and mineralogy were established within the first 10 million years of the solar system's formation."    Bennu likely came into existence in the inner main asteroid belt between Mars and Jupiter as an individual asteroid within the past 700 million to 2 billion years, as a result of a collision shattering its parent body, an asteroid believed to be 100-150 kilometers wide (60-90 miles).    Classified as a rubble-pile asteroid, Bennu acquired its spinning-top shape — common of many near-Earth asteroids — as a result of changes in its rotational angular momentum over time, including closer encounters between Bennu and planets such as Earth or Venus that shifted rubble and smaller particles to pile up near the equator.    "These wide-scale resurfacing processes may have brought fresh material to Bennu's surface, unaltered by cosmic rays, solar wind and impacting particles, making it especially valuable scientifically," Lauretta said.    The review paper will be published as part of a special issue of the journal Meteoritics & Planetary Science dedicated to Michael J. Drake, former head of the UA's Department of Planetary Sciences and Lunar and Planetary Laboratory and father of the OSIRIS-REx mission. Drake died in September 2011, having committed the last seven years of his life to making the OSIRIS-REx mission a reality. He established an international team, led the by the UA along with Goddard Space Flight Center and Lockheed Martin, to propose an asteroid sample return mission to NASA.  Editor: dougcarrollWriter: Daniel StolteByline: Daniel StolteByline Affiliation: University Relations – CommunicationsHeader image: YesNo Image: Subheading: The public gets to meet Bennu, the target asteroid of the UA-led OSIRIS-REx mission, with an upcoming movie highlighting the asteroid and what it takes to grab a sample of the stuff the solar system is made of. Include in UANow: yesInclude in Olympic Coverage: noFeature on Olympic Page: noUANow Image: 

Wildcat Review: Homecoming Win, Football/Women's Basketball This Week

Mon, 11/10/2014 - 15:25

Wildcat fans have much to celebrate. 

Last week, Arizona football took the win against Colorado during the UA's 100th Homecoming. This week, the team hosts Washington with kickoff scheduled for 1:30 p.m. at Arizona Stadium. Gates open at noon. If you are unable to attend the game, it will be broadcast live on FOX. 

More major news this week: Arizona's soccer team was selected in the field of 64 teams to play in the NCAA tournament. The Wildcats' first-round matchup will be against Oklahoma State on Nov. 14 at the Cowgirl Soccer Complex in Stillwater, Okla.

Additionally, UA women's basketball begins its 2014-15 season with an exhibition game against Concordia University on Nov. 11 at 3 p.m. at McKale Center. 

Arizona defeats Colorado in 100th Annual Homecoming Football Game

In Arizona's homecoming football game on Saturday, the Wildcats improved their season record to 7-2 (4-3 Pac-12) after routing the Buffaloes 38-20 at Arizona Stadium. Freshman quarterback Anu Solomon completed 21 of 38 passes for 211 yards and four touchdowns. Solomon also ran for a career-high 117 yards in the UA's victory.  

"We're happy to get that one and I'm proud of our guys," Arizona head coach Rich Rodriguez said in a press release. "Colorado is a well-coached football team that played hard. After the first play, our offense settled down and got some turnovers. Anu Solomon really competed and ran the ball well. His running was probably the difference for us offensively."

Arizona caused four forced turnovers against Colorado — the most since forcing five against USC in 2011.  

Sophomore linebacker Scooby Wright III was the key to Arizona's defense. He led all tacklers with 10 while recording a sack and two tackles for loss of yards. Sophomore running back Samajie Grant caught six passes for 83 yards and two touchdowns, while freshman running back Nick Wilson rushed for a game-high 153 yards on 21 carries.

Men's Basketball Kicks Off Season With Win Over Cal Poly Pomona

The No. 2-ranked Wildcats trailed the Cal Poly Pomona Broncos for most of the first half. But the team quickly figured things out, making the necessary adjustments to improve their shooting and defense en route to a 67-51 exhibition victory in front of 10,000 fans Sunday evening at the recently renovated McKale Center.

Five players recorded double-digit points in a balanced effort for the UA. Junior guard Gabe York, junior center Kaleb Tarczewski and freshman forward Stanley Johnson scored 12 points each. York was was 2-for-6 from three-point range and contributed six rebounds (two of which were offensive), dished out three assists and had a steal. Tarczewski snagged six rebounds and was 2-for-3 from the free-throw line. Johnson grabbed three rebounds and had three assists and a steal in his first collegiate performance. 

Junior forward Brandon Ashley and sophomore forward Rondae Hollis-Jefferson added 10 points each. Ashley, who was one of Arizona's most versatile players a year ago, played in his first live-action game since a foot injury in February. He subsequently picked up where he left off, shooting 4-for-6 from the field, pulling down seven rebounds and recording two steals, a block and an assist over a team-high 29 minutes. 

Arizona head coach Sean Miller said he scheduled this game knowing the team would be facing a matchup zone. He said the experience of playing against a zone will benefit the Wildcats later in the nonconference season. 

"You didn't sense that we came out as a team filled with confidence," Miller said. "I was happy with our defense. When you have 23 assists, that means you shared the ball well, (and we had) only 12 turnovers. I think we did a good job there, especially for as early as it is."

Softball Finishes Fall Season Undefeated

Arizona softball concluded its fall season with a 7-1 win over Scottsdale Community College on Nov. 5 at Hillenbrand Memorial Stadium.

Sophomore pitcher Michelle Floyd received the start and did not disappoint, tossing four scoreless innings and only allowing one hit while striking out five and walking two. 

Offensive onslaughts in the third and fifth innings saw run-scoring doubles from seniors Kellie Fox and Chelsea Goodacre and a three-run home run off the bat off sophomore utility player Katiyana Mauga — her fourth of the fall. 

Overall, the Wildcats posted a record of 8-0 this fall and outscored their opponents by 112-9.

Volleyball Shows Strength and Tenacity in Bay Area Split

Arizona volleyball lost a five-set battle, 3-2, to top-ranked Stanford in Palo Alto on Nov. 7.

The Wildcats won the second and fourth sets. Senior outside hitters Madi Kingdon and Taylor Arizobal paced the UA's offense. Kingdon compiled 25 kills and showed her defensive ability with a career-high 30 digs against the Cardinal, becoming the seventh player in program history to record 30 digs in a match. Arizobal contributed 13 kills, with eight of those coming in Arizona's second-set triumph. 

The Wildcats traveled across the bay to face against Cal, still hungry and restless for a win. Arizobal and Kingdon again dominated the offensive stat sheet. Kingdon totaled 19 kills to accompany 17 digs, while Arizobal amassed a season-high 17 kills on 25 swings. Arizobal's .600 hitting percentage stands as her career high. Senior libero Ronni Lewis and sophomore setter Penina Snuka each contributed 15 digs in helping the UA limit the Golden Bears to a .183 hitting percentage. 

Notable Mention 

The women's golf team placed fourth at the Pac-12 preview at Nanea Golf Club in Kona, Hawaii, last week. Arizona's 889 score over the three-round tournament translated to 13 strokes above par. Junior Lindsey Weaver was the Wildcats' top finisher, tying for fifth place overall with a score of 218.

Categories: Campus NewsSportsThis is a Wildcat Corner feature: Images: Tags: AthleticsStudetnsStudent LifeByline: Evan Rosenfeld, University Relations - CommunicationsEditor: dougcarrollInclude in UANow: 0Date of Publication: Monday, November 10, 2014Medium Summary: Last week, five UA teams combined for a 4-2 record. Feature on Front: NoShort Summary: Last week, five UA teams combined for a 4-2 record. Send to Never Settle Site: 0

Tech Launch Arizona Looks to the Future

Mon, 11/10/2014 - 12:28

Tech Launch Arizona was established early last year to ensure that good ideas developed by University of Arizona researchers do not live and die in laboratories or grow dusty on bookshelves but enter the market for public benefit.

In its first full fiscal year of operations, TLA executed 39 exclusive licenses and options for 72 total licenses overall; filed 167 patents; aided faculty inventors in 188 invention disclosures; helped create 11 startup companies; received 24 patents; and supported the funding of 19 proof-of-concept projects.

Such accomplishments include a UA researcher licensing a technology developed for an eco-friendly substitute for cement, an exclusive license agreement for a company that is improving natural skin cancer prevention and the launch of the Defense and Security Research Institute, which will establish more partnerships between the UA and industry. 

"Fiscal year 2014 was our first full year with a complete team, new procedures and new programs in support of securing and protecting UA intellectual property and licensing it to existing and new companies," said David Allen, vice president of TLA.

"We have continued to build upon the previous new approaches and success of last year, and every indication is that this fiscal year we will appreciably exceed the performance of last," Allen said. "We are pleased with the way the University and technology business community has stepped up to become involved and help."

Allen noted that the UA in 2012 established 55 objectives, and many of those goals have been met. In the coming year, the Arizona Board of Regents set goals for TLA that include delivering at least 190 invention disclosures, 17 patents and 10 new companies.

Also, TLA will continue to develop the Catapult Corporation, which invests in new companies based on UA-born technologies. The unit also will host a two-day summit during the spring, bringing together 50 thought leaders in university technology commercialization from across the country. TLA also will initiate a long-term financial strategy to leverage the returns generated from the Tech Parks.

Related to such activities, the in-house language often evoked is that TLA is "creating an innovation ecosystem" involving partners across the city, in business and industry and also within the general community.

In doing so, TLA supports UA researchers as they patent, license and market new intellectual property, moving technologies into the marketplace. TLA also negotiates agreements with companies, whether they be startups or existing, and it cultivates and maintains relationships with partners capable of leveraging knowledge and talent at the UA.

To expand the number of UA researchers engaged in intellectual property activities, TLA developed a guide to help researchers evaluate their inventions, and it maintains a steady calendar of workshops and other events to develop the entrepreneurial activity across campus. TLA also has embedded intellectual property experts in colleges across campus, providing easier access for faculty to learn about copyright, trademark and patent strategies, and helping them through the process of protecting their inventions.

In support of student researchers, TLA has introduced several internship and fellowship programs for those interested in learning about and engaging in entrepreneurship, startup development and the technical side of commercialization. 

Also part of TLA is Wheelhouse, the University's new-ventures group, which connects researchers with business leaders to take new technologies to market, with a focus on startups.

Given the UA's expansive and diverse research enterprise, having a robust network to provide key guidance and timely industry insights helps move along inventions, said Wheelhouse director Sherry Hoskinson.

"The Wheelhouse network provides TLA with access to in-depth understanding on groundbreaking technologies. That represents a human capital diversity that cannot be purchased, and is a remarkable resource," Hoskinson said.

Hoskinson said the continued growth of commercialization activities would aid not only the UA but the broader community.

"UA commercialization activities play important and very distinct roles at the University in strengthening the overall research environment, attracting and retaining top-quality faculty and students as well as making economic and social contributions," Hoskinson said.

"The impact of a globally competitive regional economy is essential for a healthy community today. No one can argue the impact on lives and well-being by the life-changing inventions and discoveries that are available for use because a solid commercial pathway was envisioned and enabled."

Editor: dougcarrollByline Affiliation: University Relations - CommunicationsHeader image: YesNo Image: Subheading: After a successful first full year, the UA's commercialization arm is poised to create even more partnerships with industry. Include in UANow: yesInclude in Olympic Coverage: noFeature on Olympic Page: noUANow Image: 

Baby Photos of a Scaled-Up Solar System

Mon, 11/10/2014 - 10:22

Scientists at the University of Arizona have discovered what might be the closest thing to "baby photos" of our solar system. A young star called HD 95086 is found to have two dust belts, analogous to the asteroid and Kuiper belts in the solar system, surrounded by a large dust halo that only young planetary systems have.  

Similar dust structures also are found around another, slightly older star, HR 8799, where four massive planets occupy the large gap between the two belts. HR 8799, the first star found to host four directly imaged planets, is often referred to as a younger and scaled-up version of our solar system. Finding another star similar to HR 8799 suggests a common model for how stars form planets and how their planetary systems evolve.

The ages of these systems span an interesting period, about 10 million to 90 million years, when terrestrial planets form and giant planets settle down to their final configuration in our solar system, the team reports.

"We think HD 95086 is a snapshot of what our solar system might have looked like when it was only 10 million to 20 million years old," said Kate Su, an associate astronomer in the UA's Department of Astronomy and Steward Observatory and lead author of the paper.

Using data from NASA's Spitzer Space Telescope and ESA's Herschel Space Observatory combined with detailed simulations, the researchers found HD 95086 and HR 8799 each has a vast disk halo of fine dust, suggesting enhanced collisional activities in their Kuiper-belt-like belts. This is an expected behavior for systems that are experiencing dynamical settling of gas giants and possibly late formation of giant ice planets.

The large gap between the warm and cold belts in HD 95086, HR 8799 and some other nearby older systems such as debris disk twins Vega and Fomalhaut is an excellent signpost for multiple, yet-to-be-discovered planets, according to the research team.

HD 95086 and HR 8799 are located 295 and 129 light-years from earth in the constellations of Carina and Pegasus, respectively. 

"The HD 95086 system, with its young star hosting at least one planet of about five Jupiter masses along with massive asteroid and Kuiper-like debris belts, is a promising target for planet hunting," Su said. "Both systems are very similar, except the HD 95086 has more dust, which is in line with theories of planet formation and leads us to believe it is the younger of the two. By looking at other systems like these, we can piece out how our solar system came to be."

"There have to be more planets than have been discovered to make a gap that is this big," said Sarah Morrison, a co-author of the paper and a Ph.D. student in the UA's Department of Planetary Sciences, who ran computer models to constrain the possibilities of how many planets are likely to inhabit the system, what their masses could be like and where their orbits could be. "We think that the system is a prime candidate for direct imaging campaigns to find those planets."

Knowing where additional planets could be and how massive they are in HD 95086 is of great advantage for scientists who are looking for the dim signatures of planets near a bright star.

"By knowing where the debris is plus the properties of the known planet in the system, we can get an idea of what other kinds of planets can be there," Morrison added. "We know that we should be looking for multiple planets instead of a single giant planet."

"These two stars are at a stage in their evolution when we think many interesting events happened in our solar system, such as the formation of our moon and initial trigger of the late heavy bombardment," said Renu Malhotra, professor in the UA Department of Planetary Sciences and one of the study's co-authors. "The processes we see going on in these other systems can be correlated to observations made in our solar system and provide a look back at our own history.

"One of the outstanding questions about our solar system has been, 'Why is the space between the planets so empty?' We know that over long periods of time, the planets' gravity can clear the debris. Systems like HR 8799 and HD 95086 offer the opportunity to observe dynamical processes that occurred very long ago in our own solar system."

The researchers presented the findings at the Division for Planetary Science Meeting of the American Astronomical Society held in Tucson, Arizona, from Nov. 8-15.

Other coauthors in the paper include Zoltan Balog at the Max-Planck Institute of Astronomy- Heidelberg, Paul Smith and George Rieke in the UA's Department of Astronomy and Steward Observatory. 

Editor: dougcarrollWriter: Daniel StolteByline: Daniel StolteByline Affiliation: University Relations - CommunicationsHeader image: YesNo Image: Subheading: UA astronomers have discovered two dust belts surrounded by a large dust halo around young star HD 95086. The findings provide a look back at what our solar system may have resembled in its infancy. Include in UANow: 0Include in Olympic Coverage: noFeature on Olympic Page: no

UA Taking 100% Student Engagement to New Levels

Fri, 11/07/2014 - 16:47

In an increasingly competitive job market, the University of Arizona is finding innovative solutions to help students build their resumés and ensure they graduate workforce-ready.

Most recently, the University established the Institute for Career Readiness and Engagement. The institute, which will connect students with experiences and employers like never before, was made possible by the Office of the Governor, which selected the UA to receive funding through the Workforce Development Grant program.

Last year, the UA announced its 100% Engagement initiative — an important component of its Never Settle strategic and academic business plan – which promises all undergraduate students an opportunity to gain real-world, hands-on experience in their chosen field before they graduate.

These experiences, whether they are gained through internships, a formal research project or other opportunities, will allow students to apply their classroom learning in real-world settings and will be officially recorded on the students' transcripts.

The new institute will support the 100% Engagement initiative by working proactively with employers to connect students with internship and job opportunities.

"The Institute for Career Readiness and Engagement is uniquely designed to build a strong bridge between our students and Arizona employers," said Eileen McGarry, executive director of Career Services and Student Engagement. "It will build students' awareness of opportunities in their state, enhance their confidence and professional readiness for engaging in these opportunities, and directly connect them to employing organizations that can launch their careers."

McGarry said the institute will expand early career coaching programs to give students a head start on developing job-market insight and career plans. These programs will help students identify their areas of interest, and then use that information to match them with potential career paths.

The institute also is designed to enhance the UA's Internship Readiness Program, which provides resources for sophomores and juniors through an eight-week series on how to approach an internship search. The program helps students get comfortable with networking, job hunting, polishing their resumés, and refining their interview and leadership skills.

The UA is currently seeking a director of employer initiatives for Career Services. This position will be based in Phoenix and work to develop relationships with community leaders and key employers in Maricopa County in order to complement efforts already in place in southern Arizona. The director's goal will be to build opportunities for student internships and other career-related experiences, such as tours or job shadowing.

In addition, the Institute for Career Readiness and Engagement will benefit the state as a whole by working to keep more grads in Arizona.

"By focusing on early awareness and connections to employers in Arizona through tours, job shadowing and internships, employers will be able to more easily build a pipeline to talent, and students will develop opportunities to remain a part of Arizona's workforce after graduation," McGarry said. "Strengthening our workforce will attract new business and grow Arizona's economy."

Editor: dougcarrollByline Affiliation: University Relations - CommunicationsHeader image: YesNo Image: Subheading: The new Institute for Career Readiness and Engagement will connect students with real-world experiences, internships and employers.Include in UANow: 0Include in Olympic Coverage: noFeature on Olympic Page: no

Safer Conditions for Mine Workers?

Thu, 11/06/2014 - 20:21

Every day miners from Arizona to South Africa delve deeper and deeper into the Earth, where mine temperatures can exceed 175 degrees Fahrenheit, in search of valuable metals.

With a five-year, $1.3 million interdisciplinary research project funded by the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health, or NIOSH, researchers in the UA College of Engineering and Mel and Enid Zuckerman College of Public Health are forging new technologies to more efficiently reduce temperatures in these mines, better protect workers from exposure to extreme temperatures, and potentially save mining companies millions of dollars in energy costs. 

“This project will provide solutions that are both economical and environmentally sustainable,” said Moe Momayez, the project’s principal investigator and associate professor and associate head of UA mining and geological engineering.

In one of the project’s efforts, the engineers are working to transform mine tailings, finely ground leftovers of ore extraction that are stored above ground at mine sites, into insulation to cool the air deep below. 

“We are recycling a ubiquitous mine waste byproduct and turning it into something useful,” Momayez said.

Momayez and co-investigator Krishna Muralidharan, assistant professor of materials science and engineering, are developing a new form of shotcrete to reduce heat transfer from the extremely hard, highly heat-conductive rock in underground metal mines. Shotcrete, a form of liquid concrete sprayed at high velocity to insulate and strengthen surfaces, is used in many industries. But this is the first time it has been created from mine tailings to use for heat management in underground mines. 

Mine operators will be able to convert the tailings into shotcrete in their mills and apply it underground, without ever having to store it. Stored mine tailings can release byproducts into the environment through dust emissions or leakage into groundwater. Converting the tailings into a useful product on site will eliminate risks associated with storing the materials, and the new shotcrete is safe for workers underground, Momayez said. 

While Momayez examines geothermal heat transfer and air flow in hot underground metal mines, Muralidharan analyzes mine rock and tailings at a more fundamental level. The team conducts much of its research at Resolution Mine, a copper mine near Superior, Arizona, where workers descend as much as 7,000 feet below Earth’s surface and  often are exposed to temperatures of 135 degrees and higher.

“This is basic science, with potentially widespread practical applications,” said Muralidharan, adding that the new shotcrete could even be used above ground to insulate houses and other structures. “We are building models to understand the atomic structure of the material and how we can alter it to create something that is porous and has low thermal conductivity, yet still strong enough to use as an integral part of a ground support system and to withstand disruptions like drilling and blasting.” 

Researchers in the College of Public Health, led by co-principal investigator Eric Lutz, director of the UA Mine Safety and Health Programs, are focusing on the human factor.

“Human reaction to heat exposure is very complex,” said Lutz, an assistant professor. “From high school athletes who experience heat stroke to factory workers who suffer heart attacks, we don’t have a very good measure of heat’s effects on the human body and individuals’ thresholds for withstanding heat — particularly in the workplace.”

The researchers are monitoring miners’ body temperature, blood pressure and other health indicators under various work conditions at the Resolution Mine to determine how individuals react to heat exposure and are developing additional technologies, such as more effective cooling vests, to better protect miners in the high temperatures.

The NIOSH grant supports up to seven master’s and doctoral engineering students. At least one undergraduate also is participating. 

Mara Erhardt, a mining engineering junior in the UA Honors College, is reading up on geothermal heat conduction, shotcrete and the modeling software she will be using in the study. Later, she will begin working on large-scale modeling and synthesis of the new insulation material. 

“As an undergraduate, I haven’t had much exposure to computer programming and modeling. This is a wonderful opportunity that will open new doors for me after I graduate,” she said, adding, “It’s particularly rewarding to be part of a project with such immediate applications in places like the Resolution Mine.”

Editor: dougcarrollByline: Jill GoetzByline Affiliation: UA College of EngineeringHeader image: YesNo Image: Subheading: UA mining and materials science engineers are finding ways to convert mine tailings into insulation for cooling hot metal mines deep underground.Include in UANow: 0Include in Olympic Coverage: noFeature on Olympic Page: no

Glaciers' Retreat Documented in Book From UA-Led Project

Thu, 11/06/2014 - 19:39

Taking their name from the old Scottish term glim, meaning a passing look or glance, in 1994 a team of scientists began developing a worldwide initiative to study glaciers using satellite data.

Twenty years later, the international GLIMS (Global Land Ice Measurements from Space) initiative observes the world's glaciers primarily using data from optical satellite instruments such as ASTER (Advanced Spaceborne Thermal Emission and Reflection Radiometer) and Landsat.

Jeffrey S. Kargel, senior associate research scientist in the UA Department of Hydrology and Water Resources, coordinates the GLIMS project.

The project’s research, which confirms the shrinking of the world’s glaciers in unprecedented detail, is published in the new book “Global Land Ice Measurements From Space.”

“This is the most comprehensive report on glacier changes ever done,” said Kargel, lead editor of the book. “There is a lot of material in this book that has not been published anywhere else.”

More than 150 scientists from all over the world have contributed to the book.

Other editors are Gregory J. Leonard, a UA assistant research scientist in hydrology and water resources; Michael P. Bishop of Texas A&M University in College Station; Andreas Kääb of the University of Oslo in Norway; and Bruce Raup of the National Snow and Ice Data Center in Boulder, Colorado.

Other UA scientists who contributed to the book are Regents’ Professor of Hydrology and Water Resources Victor R. Baker and Roberto Furfaro, an assistant professor of systems and industrial engineering.

While the shrinking of glaciers on all continents is already known from ground observations of individual glaciers, by using repeated satellite observations GLIMS has firmly established that glaciers are shrinking globally. Although some glaciers are maintaining their size, most glaciers are dwindling. The foremost cause of the worldwide reductions in glaciers is global warming, the team writes. 

The book has 25 regional chapters that illustrate glacier changes from the Arctic to the Antarctic. Other chapters provide a thorough theoretical background on glacier monitoring and mapping, remote sensing techniques, uncertainties, and interpretation of the observations in a climatic context. The book highlights many other glacier research applications of satellite data, including measurement of glacier thinning from repeated satellite-based digital elevation models and calculation of surface flow velocities from repeated satellite images.

These tools are key to understanding local and regional variations in glacier behavior, the team writes. The high sensitivity of glaciers to climate change has substantially decreased their volume and changed the landscape over the past decades, affecting both regional water availability and the hazard potential of glaciers. The growing GLIMS database about glaciers also contributed to the Fifth Assessment Report of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, issued in 2013. The IPCC report concluded that most of the world’s glaciers have been losing ice at an increasing rate in recent decades.

More than 60 institutions across the globe are involved in GLIMS. The GLIMS glacier database and GLIMS website are developed and maintained by the National Snow and Ice Data Center at the University of Colorado in Boulder. The World Glacier Monitoring Service in Zurich also is a core institution of GLIMS.

Editor: dougcarrollByline: Mari N. JensenByline Affiliation: UA College of ScienceExtra Info: 

GLIMS website:

For book highlights:

Header image: YesNo Image: Subheading: 'Global Land Ice Measurements From Space' presents an overview and detailed assessment of changes in the world’s glaciers by using satellite imagery.Include in UANow: 0Include in Olympic Coverage: noFeature on Olympic Page: no

Endowment to Honor Wildcat 'Connectors'

Thu, 11/06/2014 - 14:32

A campaign has been launched to create an endowment to honor the lasting legacy of Stella and Marvin "Swede" Johnson, the ultimate team of Wildcat connectors.

The University of Arizona Alumni Association announced the campaign for the Stella and Swede Johnson Alumni Endowment, called "Swede's Dream," during the 100th Homecoming.

"Homecoming has always been an important weekend in the Johnson family — like a family holiday," said Lynn (Johnson) Engel, a 1976 UA graduate and daughter of the Johnsons. "Announcing this endowment at Homecoming 100 is a special way to celebrate my father's belief that people make up the University, they are the University."

During the silent phase of raising money for the endowment, 90 percent of the past chairs of the UA Alumni Association Governing Board participated in giving. 

The endowment has pledges and gift commitments totaling more than $400,000 supporting UA Alumni Association programs, which serve more than 260,000 UA alumni, including an alumni career services program, the Student Alumni Ambassadors, faculty recognition opportunities, expanded chapter programming across the country, greater investment in Arizona Alumni Magazine and enhanced alumni support across campus.

"Daddy always said, 'It's not buildings and it's not curriculum and courses and colleges. It's people — faculty, staff, students, friends, and alumni who care for each other and about this University,'" Engel said.

Swede Johnson served as president of the Alumni Association from 1958 to 1963, and his wife, Stella, accompanied him around the country meeting Wildcat alumni. Before the proliferation of mobile and digital technology, Swede Johnson could be found in airport phone booths with a pocket full of quarters, calling friends and creating a Wildcat social network from the ground up.

Fifty years ago, the Johnsons dedicated themselves to a lifetime of cultivating and nurturing Wildcat connections. Today, the Stella and Swede Johnson Alumni Endowment embodies that dedication.

Engel is a founding donor to the endowment, along with: Stella Johnson, a 1950 UA graduate; Karen (Johnson) Riebe, a 1981 graduate and  daughter of the Johnsons; Sidney "Jack" McDuff, a 1951 UA graduate and a close family friend; and William "Billy" Chavira, a two-time UA graduate (he earned degrees in 1992 and 1996) and a UAAA governing board chair who served for a one-year term beginning in 2011.

Engel, who served as the UA Alumni Association Governing Board chair for a one-year term beginning in 2012, also said the endowment was created to advance the UA by connecting, engaging and cultivating Wildcats for life.

"The UA has always been family," Engel said.

The Marvin D. "Swede" Johnson Building, on the northwestern corner of Speedway Boulevard and Cherry Avenue, houses the Alumni Association and UA Foundation.

"Nothing would please my parents more than knowing the Alumni Association is making a difference in the lives of students, faculty, staff, and alumni at their beloved University — it is my mom and dad's heart and soul," Engel said.

Editor: dougcarrollByline: UA Alumni AssociationByline Affiliation: UA Alumni AssociationExtra Info: 

To discuss giving opportunities, contact Scott Koenig, director of development for the Alumni Association, at 520-403-5624 or

Header image: YesNo Image: Subheading: Decades ago, Marvin "Swede" Johnson began building the UA's alumni network, one handshake at a time.Include in UANow: 0Include in Olympic Coverage: noFeature on Olympic Page: no

Astronomers Explore Nature of Cosmic Debris

Thu, 11/06/2014 - 11:19

Astronomers using NASA's Hubble Space Telescope have completed the largest and most sensitive visible-light imaging survey of dusty debris disks around other stars. These dusty disks, likely created by collisions between leftover objects from planet formation, were imaged around stars as young as 10 million years old and as mature as more than 1 billion years.

"It's like looking back in time to see the kinds of destructive events that once routinely happened in our solar system after the planets formed," said survey leader Glenn Schneider of the University of Arizona's Department of Astronomy and Steward Observatory. The survey's results appeared in the Oct. 1 issue of the Astronomical Journal.

Once thought to be simply pancakelike structures, the unexpected diversity and complexity of these dusty debris structures strongly suggest they are being gravitationally affected by unseen planets orbiting the star. Alternatively, these effects could result from the stars' passing through interstellar space.

The researchers discovered that no two "disks" of material surrounding stars look the same.

"We find that the systems are not simply flat with uniform surfaces," Schneider said. "These are actually pretty complicated three-dimensional debris systems, often with embedded smaller structures. Some of the substructures could be signposts of unseen planets."

The astronomers used Hubble's Space Telescope Imaging Spectrograph to study 10 previously discovered circumstellar debris systems, plus MP Mus, a mature protoplanetary disk of age comparable to the youngest of the debris disks.

Irregularities observed in one ringlike system in particular, around a star called HD 181327, resemble the ejection of a huge spray of debris into the outer part of the system from the recent collision of two bodies.

"This spray of material is fairly distant from its host star — roughly twice the distance that Pluto is from the sun," said co-investigator Christopher Stark of NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, Maryland. "Catastrophically destroying an object that massive at such a large distance is difficult to explain, and it should be very rare. If we are in fact seeing the recent aftermath of a massive collision, the unseen planetary system may be quite chaotic."

Another interpretation for the irregularities is that the disk has been mysteriously warped by the star's passage through interstellar space, directly interacting with unseen interstellar material.

"Either way, the answer is exciting," Schneider said. "Our team is currently analyzing follow-up observations that will help reveal the true cause of the irregularity."

Over the past few years, astronomers have found an incredible diversity in the architecture of exoplanetary systems — planets are arranged in orbits that are markedly different than found in our solar system.

"We are now seeing a similar diversity in the architecture of accompanying debris systems," Schneider said. "How are the planets affecting the disks, and how are the disks affecting the planets? There is some sort of interdependence between a planet and the accompanying debris that might affect the evolution of these exoplanetary debris systems."

From this small sample, the most important message to take away is one of diversity, Schneider said. He added that astronomers really need to understand the internal and external influences on these systems, such as stellar winds and interactions with clouds of interstellar material, and how they are influenced by the mass and age of the parent star, and the abundance of heavier elements needed to build planets.

Although astronomers have found nearly 4,000 exoplanet candidates since 1995, mostly by indirect detection methods, only about two dozen light-scattering, circumstellar debris systems have been imaged over that same time period. That's because the disks are typically 100,000 times fainter than, and often very close to, their bright parent stars. The majority have been seen because of Hubble's ability to perform high-contrast imaging, in which the overwhelming light from the star is blocked to reveal the faint disk that surrounds the star.

The new imaging survey also yields insight into how our solar system formed and evolved 4.6 billion years ago. In particular, the suspected planet collision seen in the disk around HD 181327 may be similar to how the Earth-moon system formed, as well as the Pluto-Charon system over 4 billion years ago. In those cases, collisions between planet-size bodies cast debris that then coalesced into a companion moon.

The Hubble Space Telescope is a project of international cooperation between NASA and the European Space Agency. NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, Maryland, manages the telescope. The Space Telescope Science Institute (STScI) in Baltimore conducts Hubble science operations. STScI is operated for NASA by the Association of Universities for Research in Astronomy Inc., in Washington, D.C.

Editor: dougcarrollWriter: Daniel StolteByline Affiliation: University Communications and Ray Villard/Space Telescope Science InstituteHeader image: YesNo Image: Subheading: A UA-led survey of planetary systems finds unexpected diversity and complexity in the Milky Way, likely the result of destructive events.Include in UANow: yesInclude in Olympic Coverage: noFeature on Olympic Page: noUANow Image: 

Kassers Donate $1M to UA, Add to History of Charitable Giving

Thu, 11/06/2014 - 10:49

Longtime University of Arizona supporters I. Michael and Beth Kasser have committed $1 million to Arizona Athletics through Arizona NOW, the University's $1.5 billion comprehensive fundraising campaign, as a naming gift for the sports medicine center in the Lowell-Stevens Football Facility.

Previously, the Kassers donated naming gifts for the Kasser Sports Medicine Center in McKale Center and the Kasser Family Pool, home of the nationally prominent Arizona men's and women's swimming and diving programs.

"The support of longtime partners like the Kassers is absolutely critical for the success of the Arizona NOW campaign and for the future of the University," UA President Ann Weaver Hart said.

"The generosity of Mike and his family has resulted in state-of-the-art facilities that enable our world-class student-athletes to perform even better and achieve even more," Hart said. "This new gift will play a major role in making the Lowell-Stevens Football Facility one of the nation’s best sites for our student-athletes."

Mike Kasser and his family have a lifelong connection with sports and fitness. Kasser's father, Alex, played soccer and ran track in high school in Hungary, later playing soccer for the professional Puegeot team in France during his college years.

"His favorite Latin quote was 'mens sana in corpore sano,' a healthy mind in a healthy body," Kasser said.

Also, Kasser and his wife met at the Yonkers Marathon in New York.

"We were marathoners and Ironman triathletes in the 1980s and 1990s, and through personal experience, we appreciate how a well-equipped sports medicine center enhances the health of an athlete," Michael said.

"That is why we wanted to be involved in the sports medicine facility in McKale and the pool. With LSFF opening, there was another opportunity to support Arizona Athletics and the University of Arizona through the new sports medicine facility," he said, adding that he has been "extremely pleased" with the leadership of Hart; Greg Byrne, the UA's director of athletics; and others.

"I believe that the Arizona NOW campaign is going to help transform the University, so I'm proud to be involved," Kasser said.

The sports medicine center in LSFF is used primarily by the football program to help further the health and well-being of those student-athletes, allowing the Kasser Sports Medicine Center in McKale to devote resources to other programs.

Complete with state-of-the-art amenities, LSFF's sports medicine center consists of four private treatment and exam rooms, an X-ray machine, two HydroWorx underwater treadmills, a walk-in cold tub, a multiperson sit-in warm whirlpool, and equipment specific for modalities and rehabilitation.

"Mike and his family have been so generous to the athletics department and we can’t thank them enough for their support," Byrne said. "From the sports medicine facilities to the pool, the Kassers have been instrumental in the success of Arizona Athletics and have helped us remain competitive from a facilities standpoint with our counterparts in the Pac-12 and across the country."

The Kassers also have been devoted supporters of the 1885 Society, a leadership group that provides unrestricted support to the University through the President's Fund for Excellence, as well as supporters of Arizona's College of Science.

Improvements to campus facilities is an integral part of Arizona NOW, which was launched in April 2014. With support from donors such as the Kassers, the campaign already has surpassed the $1 billion mark in the first year of its public launch.

"Mike and Beth are philanthropists who give in many ways," said James H. Moore Jr., president and CEO of the UA Foundation.

"This most recent gift is another example of their kind and altruistic nature," Moore said. "They give because they care and they believe it is important to help others. During his service on the UA Foundation Board of Trustees, Mike was also one of our thought leaders. We can’t thank the Kassers enough for their generous hearts and their passion for the UA.”

Kasser is the CEO and president of Holualoa Companies, a real-estate investment company with interests in residential and commercial real estate in the Northeast, Southwest, Hawaii and Europe. He started Holualoa in 1985 when he moved with his wife to Hawaii, where they competed in several Ironman Triathlons. As Holualoa grew, the Kassers left Hawaii in 1994 for Tucson. Holualoa is the title sponsor of the Tucson Marathon and its various events in early December.

Mike Kasser has been heavily involved in community activities during his career. He served as chairman of the Salary Commission for the County of Hawaii for three years. He has been a trustee or board member of the UA Foundation, the UA College of Science, the C-Path Institute, the Downtown Tucson Partnership, the Arizona Theatre Company, the Tucson Museum of Art, the American Hungarian Foundation, the Kona Hawaii Family YMCA, the Aloha Performing Arts Center and the Kasser Art Foundation. He also has served as an educational counselor for the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and as a member of its Corporation Development Committee. He is currently a member of the MIT Music and Theatre Arts Visiting Committee.

A graduate of MIT with bachelor's and master's degrees in chemical engineering, Kasser earned his doctorate of chemical engineering from the University of Grenoble in France, and a master's of business administration from Harvard Business School. The Kassers have two children, Violet and Mikey.

Editor: dougcarrollByline: Arizona AthleticsByline Affiliation: Arizona AthleticsExtra Info: 

Arizona Athletics receives no state appropriations or student fees, but does receive 315 tuition waivers annually, authorized by the Arizona Board of Regents. Tuition waivers are also granted to Arizona State University and Northern Arizona University.


The athletics department is responsible for the cost of room, board and books to supplement the tuition waivers and is responsible for generating revenues to cover the department’s annual operating costs and budgetary obligations.


Additionally, all funds required for new facilities and renovations are provided through the continued support and generosity of athletics department ticket buyers and donors.

Header image: YesNo Image: Subheading: I. Michael and Beth Kasser have committed a $1 million naming gift to Arizona Athletics and the sports medicine center in the Lowell-Stevens Football Facility.Include in UANow: yesInclude in Olympic Coverage: noFeature on Olympic Page: noUANow Image: 

Medicine Alumna of the Year Adele Marie O'Sullivan

Wed, 11/05/2014 - 18:00

Leading up to the UA's 100th Homecoming, we are highlighting UA alumni who are being honored by their colleges with alumni of the year awards.

Her religious community, the Sisters of St. Joseph, led Adele Marie O'Sullivan to the UA to study toward becoming a "sister doctor" with a career focused on caring for the poor and homeless.

In 1996, O'Sullivan found that there was no place for respite care for the homeless once they were released from a hospital. She had just become medical director of Maricopa County’s Health Care for the Homeless clinic in downtown Phoenix.

O'Sullivan began to rally support from St. Joseph's Hospital and Medical Center and Hospice of the Valley. She also petitioned support from the Arizona Diamondbacks and Arizona Cardinals. She reached out to numerous other faith, philanthropic and business organizations, eventually opening Circle the City, a 50-bed medical respite center. The center opened in 2012, and O'Sullivan now serves as medical director and president for the nonprofit, which also provides job counseling and other support. Today, 70 percent of its patients leave for permanent housing and employment.

O’Sullivan will receive the UA College of Medicine's Alumna of the Year award.

Categories: HealthThis is a Wildcat Corner feature: Images: Tags: AlumniByline: University Relations - Communications and the Alumni Association |Editor: dougcarrollInclude in UANow: 0Date of Publication: Wednesday, November 5, 2014Medium Summary: Adele Marie O'Sullivan will receive the UA College of Medicine's Alumna of the Year award.Feature on Front: NoShort Summary: UA alumna Adele Marie O'Sullivan has worked to ensure that the homeless receive adequate care. Send to Never Settle Site: 0

UA Scientists to Feature Prominently at Gathering

Wed, 11/05/2014 - 16:59

Science from the inner solar system to Pluto and beyond to planets circling other stars will be showcased in three news conferences and a seminar for science writers at the 46th meeting of the Division for Planetary Sciences of the American Astronomical Society, Nov. 9-14 at the JW Marriott Starr Pass in Tucson.

More than 800 astronomers and planetary scientists are expected to convene to hear some 600 prize and invited talks, short oral talks and poster presentations on new developments in planetary science from both ground- and space-based studies.

Fewer than three percent of all submitted abstracts were selected for the conference news briefings, with University of Arizona scientists to be featured prominently. They will present the latest results on exoplanet systems, Uranus and Bennu, the target asteroid of the UA-led OSIRIS-REx sample return mission.

These UA scientists will present at news briefings held at the times listed below. (All findings are embargoed until the time of presentation.) 

  • Kate Su, associate astronomer in the UA's Department of Astronomy and Steward Observatory, will report on the discovery of two dust belts, analogous to the asteroid and Kuiper belts in the solar system, surrounded by a large dust halo around a young star called HD 95086. News briefing: noon Monday, Nov. 10.
  • Sarah Morrison, a Ph.D. student in the UA's Lunar and Planetary Laboratory, will present results of computer models to constrain the possibilities of how many planets are likely to inhabit the HD 95086 system. News briefing: noon Monday, Nov. 10.
  • Dante Lauretta, principal investigator of OSIRIS-REx and UA professor of planetary sciences, will unveil a video animation chronicling the history and evolution of Bennu, the target asteroid of the OSIRIS-REx mission, and present a review paper summarizing what scientists have learned about Bennu during 12 years of astronomical observations. News briefing: noon Wednesday, Nov. 12.
  • Erich Karkoschka of the LPL has revisited images of Uranus taken by NASA's Voyager-2 space probe 28 years ago and will present his discovery of previously unseen features in the atmosphere of Uranus. News briefing: noon Wednesday, Nov. 12.

In addition to the presenters selected for news briefings, many more UA scientists, mainly from the Department of Astronomy and the LPL, will discuss their latest research findings with their peers in the scientific community. For a full program, visit the conference website or download a PDF of the program here.  

Public lecture: Astronomical blunders and cosmic bloopers

Brother Guy Consolmagno, SJ of the Vatican Observatory, which is affiliated with the UA's Steward Observatory, will give a free public lecture at the UA's Centennial Hall at 7 p.m. Thursday, Nov. 13. His presentation, "Discarded Worlds: Astronomical Ideas That Were Almost Correct," will explore what lessons can be learned from scientists throughout history whose ideas about our own world and others turned out to be wrong — sometimes hilariously, sometimes heartbreakingly. 

A graduate of the LPL, Consolmagno is the 2014 recipient of the DPS Carl Sagan Medal for his decades-long track record of communicating planetary science to the public while maintaining an active science career. He occupies a unique position within the profession as a credible spokesperson for scientific honesty within the context of religious belief. He has authored or edited six books, with "Turn Left at Orion" (with Dan Davis) in its fourth edition of publication. That book alone has had an enormous impact on the amateur astronomy community, engendering public support for astronomy.

In addition to writing books, he is a dynamic popular speaker, giving 40 to 50 public lectures every year across both Europe and the United States, reaching thousands of people. He regularly gives interviews on BBC radio shows on planetary science topics and has hosted his own BBC radio show. As a Jesuit Brother, Consolmagno has become the voice of the juxtaposition of planetary science and astronomy with Christian belief, a spokesperson who can convey  how religion and science can coexist, as exemplified in his most recent book, "Would You Baptize an Extraterrestrial?"

"The DPS meeting is one of the biggest meetings of the year for our organization, and it's appropriate for it to be in Tucson, since we are a world center for planetary sciences, between LPL, Steward and the Planetary Science Institute," LPL director Tim Swindle said. "In fact, two of the officers, and nearly half the members of the governing committee of the DPS, are graduates of LPL."

Meetings of the American Astronomical Society are not public events. All attendees must register at the applicable rate; registration types are structured to cover all situations. The only exceptions involve sessions or other activities 
specifically noted as being open to the public, such as public talks or star parties held in collaboration with local amateur astronomers.

More information about the 46th DPS meeting is available at the conference website, where a PDF of the full program is available. 

Editor: dougcarrollWriter: Daniel StolteByline Affiliation: University Relations - CommunicationsHeader image: YesNo Image: Subheading: UA astronomers will present some of their discoveries at the world's largest convention of planetary scientists. A lecture at the UA's Centennial Hall is open to the public.Include in UANow: 0Include in Olympic Coverage: noFeature on Olympic Page: no

'Everybody's Building' Enters New Era

Wed, 11/05/2014 - 15:27

The assignment of restoring Old Main, the 123-year-old centerpiece of the University of Arizona campus, put Corky Poster squarely on the hot seat for a year and a half.

The Tucson architect knew what his firm, Poster Frost Mirto, was getting into. Old Main is like family to the University’s students, faculty, staff and alumni, as well as the community at large, and “suggestions” to Poster about the project were a dime a dozen. As a former interim dean of the UA’s College of Architecture, he was seen as approachable.

“There were 50,000 critics every day who were pretty sure they knew what to do,” Poster says, chuckling. “We had nowhere to hide. It’s everybody’s building, and everybody had an opinion.”

The result, celebrated officially at an open house on Oct. 8 and unofficially at this weekend’s homecoming festivities, is a classy, dignified fusion of old and new that Poster admits he can’t get enough of. He says he walks past and through Old Main every day, pleased to have been involved in such a career-defining project.

His favorite compliment is an unusual one.

“People say, ‘Corky, it looks beautiful, but we’re not sure what you did,’” Poster says. “That, for a restoration, is a great compliment. On the outside, Old Main looks like a better version of itself. And on the inside, people are blown away by the contrast (of old and new).”

That balance, he says, was more challenging to achieve than it looks. The U.S. Department of the Interior has strict guidelines for the restoration of structures listed on the National Registry.

Poster and the Old Main team had to commit to an “honest” restoration, making clear distinctions between the building’s historic and contemporary aspects.

“If you put something new in,” Poster says, “it needs to be clearly new. Clarity is the watchword. Someone should be able to walk in and understand right away what’s old and new. … There can’t be any (architectural) conjecture about what might have been.”

An example, he says, is the railing that encompasses Old Main’s veranda. The original railing is backed by a newer, far-less-obvious version that takes away nothing visually — yet unmistakably separates old from new.

Poster says he hears the most praise for the exterior and interior lighting (“It was so poorly lit outside that you had no sense of the building's profile,” he says) and the roof, which presented the single greatest challenge. The iconic metal roof is actually three roofs in one: fish-scale shingles, double-curved mansard and standing seam.

“In retrospect, we got to exactly the right place with it,” Poster says, recalling numerous meetings devoted exclusively to the roof. “We needed to replace the roof with a product we could afford that looked the same, while meeting all of the standards for safety and water protection.

“It’s perfect, but it took forever to get there.”

The Old Main project had a few anxious moments, and one in particular stands out to Poster.

At a meeting, UA Provost Andrew Comrie spoke of his fondness for a cluster of palm trees on the site, a long-ago gift of gratitude from the government of Iraq for the University’s education of international students. Comrie talked about how he would begin lectures by telling students about the trees.

Aware of plans to remove some palm trees on the building’s west side, Poster silently hoped those weren’t the ones Comrie fancied.

“At the meeting, we all sat there looking at each other,” Poster says. “Nobody said anything. But we were all thinking, ‘I hope they didn’t come down today.’”

As it turned out, they didn’t — Comrie’s beloved trees were in a cluster on Old Main’s northeast side. The palms on the west side survived, too.

Editor: dougcarrollByline Affiliation: University Relations - CommunicationsHeader image: YesNo Image: Subheading: Old Main's restoration presented some challenges for Tucson architect Corky Poster, but the project was a labor of love.Include in UANow: yesInclude in Olympic Coverage: noFeature on Olympic Page: noUANow Image: 

Black Holes Come to the Big Screen

Wed, 11/05/2014 - 12:21

What does a black hole look like up close?

When the sci-fi movie "Interstellar" — hitting theaters this week — wows audiences with its computer-generated views of one of most enigmatic and fascinating phenomena in the universe, University of Arizona astrophysicists Chi-kwan Chan, Dimitrios Psaltis and Feryal Ozel are likely to nod appreciatively and say something like, "Meh, that looks nice, but check out what we've got."

"We want to know what happens near extremely compact objects such as black holes and neutron stars," said Psaltis, a professor of astronomy and physics in the UA's Department of Astronomy and Steward Observatory. "We want to watch as matter fed onto a black hole crosses the event horizon, the point of no return, and disappears.”

To find answers, the group created a monster in the basement of the UA's high-performance computing facility. Harnessing the power of the UA's new supercomputer — nicknamed El Gato — the researchers combined knowledge from mathematical equations and astronomical observations to generate visualizations of an object known by astronomers as Sagittarius A* ("Sagittarius A star"), a supermassive black hole comprising the mass of 4.3 million suns.

Located 26,000 light-years from Earth at the center of our galaxy, Sagittarius A* is tiny to the eyes of astronomers. Smaller than Mercury’s orbit around the sun, it appears about the same size as a grapefruit on the moon. 

The team just published the first major science results obtained using El Gato's unique, massive, parallel-computing capabilities to create visualizations of what a space traveler might see upon approaching SgrA*. The results, published in two reports in the Astrophysical Journal — one focusing on the imaging and the other on the computing — provide some of the groundwork for the Event Horizon Telescope, or EHT, a huge undertaking involving scientists and observatories around the world to take the first-ever picture of SgrA*.

The film "Interstellar," starring Matthew McConaughey and Anne Hathaway, prominently features a black hole, touted as the first visual depictions based on the actual science and mathematics of Einstein's Theory of General Relativity. On some of the renderings, a special-effects team of about 30 experts reportedly spent up to 100 hours of running calculations to create each frame.

"Our team of four here at the UA can produce visuals of a black hole that are more scientifically accurate in a few seconds," said Ozel, also a professor of astronomy and physics at Steward Observatory.

"It's a bit like gaming on steroids," she explained. "El Gato uses a massively parallel architecture of hundreds of graphic processors working side by side, with each node functioning as a renderer in real time."

As part of a collaboration that includes the papers' first author, postdoctoral fellow Chan, and researchers at Harvard University and MIT, the husband-and-wife research team of Psaltis and Ozel developed software algorithms capable of calculating the paths of millions of individual photons in mere seconds as they shoot toward the black hole.

Funded by the National Science Foundation and NASA, the computer simulations are a crucial step before astronomers can start to look for the black hole using the EHT, functioning as a sort of field ID guide of what astronomers should look for once the EHT is up and running.

The EHT will combine radio telescopes across the globe to create a virtual telescope the size of the Earth. These include the UA's Arizona Radio Observatory as well as the South Pole Telescope, outfitted with new receivers built by a group led by UA assistant professor of astronomy Daniel Marrone.

"We wouldn't be able to observe a black hole against a black sky," Ozel said. "Therefore, we look for other telltale signatures telling us about the presence of a black hole."

The gravitational field around a black hole is so immense that it swallows everything in its reach. Not even light can escape its grip. For that reason, black holes are just that: They emit no light whatsoever, and their “nothingness” blends into the black void of the universe.

As matter comes under the black hole's spell of extreme gravity, a cosmic traffic jam ensues, in which gas swirls around it like water circling a drain. As matter compresses, the resulting friction turns it into plasma heated to a billion degrees or more, causing it to "glow" — and radiate energy that astronomers can detect here on Earth.

"Our visualizations show there is a place where photons linger and form a ring outlining the shadow of the black hole," Psaltis said. "That ring of light makes the black hole easier to find than if we were looking for complete blackness. These simulations also help us find ways to distinguish this signature from all this swirling plasma around the black hole."

By imaging the glow of matter swirling around the black hole before it goes over the edge and plunges into the abyss of space and time, scientists can see only the outline of the black hole, also called its shadow.

In addition to providing groundwork for the EHT, the simulations will support NICER, a new NASA mission involving an instrument that will be attached to the International Space Station, to help scientists better understand neutron stars and to test navigation methods for future spacecraft using neutron stars as extremely accurate clocks.

Until EHT is ready to take the first images of what lurks at the center of our Milky Way, astrophysicists will have to get by with gaming on steroids — or going to the movies. 

Editor: dougcarrollWriter: Daniel StolteByline: Daniel StolteByline Affiliation: University Relations – CommunicationsHeader image: YesNo Image: Subheading: The new movie "Interstellar" explores a longstanding fascination, but UA astrophysicists are using cutting-edge technology to go one better. They're working on how to take pictures of the black hole at the center of the galaxy.Include in UANow: yesInclude in Olympic Coverage: noFeature on Olympic Page: noUANow Image: 

Eller Alumna of the Year Sarah Brown Smallhouse

Tue, 11/04/2014 - 18:01

Leading up to the UA's 100th Homecoming, we are highlighting UA alumni who are being honored with alumni of the year awards.

Tucson native and UA alumna Sarah Brown Smallhouse is president of the Thomas R. Brown Foundations, named for her late father.

In the late 1980s, thinking an M.B.A. would help her regardless of the twists and turns of her career, Smallhouse turned to the UA and the Eller College of Management. She recalls highlights of her degree program: writing a business plan for an innovative technology developed at the Environmental Research Lab; traveling to Guangzhou, China, for an exchange trip; and the extraordinary influence of faculty members like Bob Tyndall, who taught the capstone course for the entrepreneurship students.

Four years after completing her M.B.A., Smallhouse became president of the Thomas R. Brown Foundations. The foundations encourage an entrepreneurial mindset and awareness of basic economic principles through strategic partnerships with the UA and a wide range of community organizations, including Science Foundation Arizona, Literacy Volunteers of Tucson and Tucson Medical Center.

Under the leadership of Smallhouse, the foundations partner with and support the UA in myriad ways: endowing the Thomas R. Brown Teaching Fellows Program to prepare economics doctoral students for faculty roles across the country; supporting the Office of Economic Education to help Arizona K-12 teachers learn basic principles of economics to take back to their classrooms; and assisting students and faculty through scholarships and endowed faculty positions in the Departments of Management Information Systems and Economics.

Also, Smallhouse is the immediate past-chair of the UA Foundation's board of trustees, co-chair of the Arizona NOW capital campaign and serves on advisory boards in the College of Engineering and the College of Science. Smallhouse also is a board member of the Southern Arizona Leadership Council and chairs the board of the Southern Arizona Buffelgrass Coordination Center, illustrating the breadth of her community engagement.

Before the UA, Smallhouse earned a bachelor's degree in economics from the University of Washington. She also earned an M.P.A. from the Kennedy School of Government at Harvard University.

In 2008, Smallhouse was named the Tucson Metropolitan Chamber of Commerce Woman of the Year, and in 2012 she received the Thomas L. Swanson Regional Leadership Award from the Pima Association of Governments for her efforts enhancing regional community and promoting cooperation among residents and elected officials.

Smallhouse will receive the Eller College of Management's Alumna of the Year award.

Categories: Business and LawThis is a Wildcat Corner feature: Images: Tags: AlumniByline: University Relations - Communications and the Alumni Association |Editor: dougcarrollInclude in UANow: 0Date of Publication: Tuesday, November 4, 2014Medium Summary: Sarah Brown Smallhouse will receive the Eller College of Management's Alumna of the Year award. Feature on Front: NoShort Summary: UA alumna Sarah Brown Smallhouse has contributed to local and regional development. Send to Never Settle Site: 0

New UA Resources Examine Youth Sexual Health

Tue, 11/04/2014 - 17:06

Since 2010, the Crossroads Collaborative has brought together researchers from across disciplines at the UA and within in the community to generate research and writing on youth, sexuality, health and rights, commonly known as YSHR.

National and local debates on the role of schools and communities in providing sex education to youth periodically surface. Yet youth rarely are invited into these conversations, nor are they usually asked about what a sex-education curriculum relevant to their own experiences might look like,  including what "sexual health" means to them. This can be particularly true of lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and queer youth, whose experiences, ideas, concerns and questions about sex and sexual identity rarely are covered in sex-education curricula.

The latest in the Crossroads Collaborative's series of university-community collaborations toward YSHR offers a timely corrective.

"Let's Talk About Sex Ed," a three-minute video created by Tucson youth, inserts the voice of youth into the conversation around sex education and its relationship with sexual identity and sexual health. It was produced in collaboration between the Crossroads Collaborative and YWCA Tucson’s Nuestra Voz Racial Justice Summer Camp, which was directed by J. Sarah Gonzales.

The video features youth interviewing each other on the topics of sexual expression; sexual and gender identity; sources of information on sex, identity and expression; and how the sex-education curricula in school or after-school programs prepared them for their sexual and relational lives.

Almost all youth interviewed in "Let's Talk About Sex Ed" felt that the poor quality and limited topical expanse of the sex education they had received during their schooling years had inhibited their ability to navigate relationships. Youth narratives in the video also highlighted the importance of developing curricula that recognize youth sexual health to encompass the mental, emotional, social and relational aspects, as well as the physical.

Accompanying the video is the release of "Let’s Talk About Sex Ed: A Study Guide," which is designed to help facilitate in- and out-of-school conversations about sex education. Both the video and the study guide were released during a special, collaborative event held on Oct. 22 at the YWCA Tucson.

The guide offers question prompts drawn from topics raised by youth in the video and an "activities" page designed to catalyze group discussions around sexual identity, expression, choices, preferences and other issues. Ways to access information and community resources are covered.

Designed with flexibility of application in mind, the guide invites youth and adult facilitators to tailor questions and activities to specific populations. The guide includes a glossary of "key terms" that users can make relevant to their own experience.

The guide is designed to help teachers, youth-serving organizations, mentors and youth themselves, so that they are able to facilitate conversations on topics relevant and important to youth.

The study guide was co-authored by: Casely Coan, a graduate student in the Rhetoric, Composition and the Teaching of English program; Crossroads Collaborative postdoctoral associate Leah Stauber; and Adela C. Licona, co-director of the Crossroads Collaborative and an associate professor and director of the RCTE graduate program. The Crossroads Collaborative brings together research from the Frances McClelland Institute, the English Department's Graduate Program in Rhetoric, Composition and the Teaching of English and the Southwest Institute for Research on Women. The collaborative is advancing research, graduate training, public conversation and social change in the area of youth, sexuality, health and rights. 

Categories: Social Sciences and EducationThis is a Wildcat Corner feature: Images: Tags: ResearchEducationOutreachStaffFacultyGuest PostByline: Leah S. Stauber and Adela C. Licona, UA Crossroads Collaborative |Editor: dougcarrollInclude in UANow: 0Date of Publication: Tuesday, November 4, 2014Medium Summary: The UA Crossroads Collaborative has introduced the latest in its series of university-community collaborations aimed at promoting dialogue and innovation in the field of youth, sexuality, health and rights. Feature on Front: NoShort Summary: UA researchers are studying youth, sexuality, health and rights. Send to Never Settle Site: 0

What Sleeping Babies Can Teach Us About Cognitive Development

Tue, 11/04/2014 - 12:02

There are few sights more peaceful than a quietly sleeping infant, and a good night's rest for baby may offer much more than just a respite for weary parents.

University of Arizona researchers are exploring how infants' early sleep quality might affect their cognitive development later on.

Jamie Edgin, a UA assistant professor of psychology, is conducting the "Arizona Sweet Dreams" study, which will track sleep development in typically developing and at-risk infants to determine if early sleep quality is predictive of later cognitive development or an eventual autism diagnosis.

The study has the potential to contribute valuable new knowledge to the sleep research literature.

"Sleep is very important for setting up neural networks and for helping to support early language and behavioral development," Edgin said. "This study could help increase awareness of these links and encourage people to get earlier screenings for sleep problems in children."

Edgin and co-principal investigator Caron Clark, a UA psychology research associate, will track sleep development in two groups of infants. In the first group will be typically developing infants between the ages of 6 and 24 months, a period marked with critical and rapid cognitive development.

In the second group will be infants in the same age range who were either born prematurely, have Down syndrome or have siblings who have been diagnosed with autism. These infants tend to have higher rates of sleep disruptions — such as snoring or frequent night awakenings — and are at increased risk for neurodevelopmental impairment. They also are at greater risk to develop autism.

"If we find that the quality of an infant's sleep predicts whether they are at risk for autism or learning difficulties later in life, then we can initiate intervention strategies early and start to help these children as soon as possible," Clark said.

The infants' sleep will be measured in the home using video monitoring and an actiwatch, a small computerized motion detector worn on the baby's leg that can provide data on when the child falls asleep, how long he stays asleep, his activity during sleep, and how often he transitions between sleep and wake states. Parents also will provide information about their babies' quality of sleep.

In addition, the researchers will gather information about the infants' behavior, language and cognitive development. Sleep assessments and surveys will be repeated once every six months over the two-year study period.

A growing body of research points to the critical role that sleep plays in all facets of life — from our physical health to our mental and emotional well-being. There is strong scientific evidence that knowledge is consolidated during sleep. And studies completed by Edgin's lab at the UA — originally funded by the LuMind Foundation, the Thrasher Research Fund and Research Down Syndrome — have shown that sleep quality in toddlers and school-age children with Down syndrome is strongly correlated with language development. (PDF)

The new study will provide unprecedented data on early sleep patterns in typically developing infants and those at risk for cognitive development challenges.

"We have these correlations at single time points that show language and cognition are relating to sleep," Edgin said. "What we really need to do, and what we are doing in this study, is ask: Can we measure sleep across infancy and preschool across time to get an understanding of how disturbed sleep may drive differences in cognitive development later on?"

Edgin and Clark were awarded Phase I funding for the study through Grand Challenges Explorations, an initiative of the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation designed to support the exploration of bold ideas to address persistent health and development challenges.

"We are so proud to be recognized by such an outstanding organization like the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation," said Kimberly Andrews Espy, UA senior vice president for research. "This type of exploration is a great example of our Never Settle initiative — it's engaging, innovative and collaborative. It's bold ideas like the 'Arizona Sweet Dreams' study that keep the UA at the forefront of research."

Edgin and Clark currently are enrolling infants in the first phase of the study, which will be conducted in Tucson in partnership with the UA's Sonoran University Center for Excellence in Developmental Disabilities.

Edgin said she hopes to add more collaborators and expand the scope of the study in the future.

"We're trying to build as many collaborations as we can because this is a grand challenge not only for us as individual researchers but also for the U of A and the city," she said. "If we come together and demonstrate the importance of this project in the next 18 months, it could be expanded into a larger study to answer these important questions."  

Those interested in enrolling in the study or learning more can send an email to or visit the Arizona Memory Development and Disorders Laboratory website. The researchers also will have an informational display on the UA Mall during homecoming from noon-6 p.m. on Saturday and will be on hand to answer questions.

Editor: dougcarrollByline: Alexis BlueByline Affiliation: University Relations - CommunicationsHeader image: YesNo Image: Subheading: UA researchers Jamie Edgin and Caron Clark were awarded funding for an infant sleep study through through Grand Challenges Explorations, an initiative of the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation. Include in UANow: yesInclude in Olympic Coverage: noFeature on Olympic Page: noUANow Image: 

Honors College Alumnus of the Year Nick T. Spark

Mon, 11/03/2014 - 18:01

Leading up to the UA's 100th Homecoming, we are highlighting UA alumni who are being honored by their colleges with alumni of the year awards.

Nick T. Spark enrolled at the UA as a Flinn Scholar.

In 1990, while pursuing a creative writing degree as an Honors College student, he received an undergraduate research grant and made a documentary short film about Tucson folk artist William Holzman, "Just Puttering Around." The film won a student Emmy Award in 1992. Since then, Spark has received two more Emmys.

While working on a master's degree in film production at the University of Southern California, he was recognized for "Upholding the Promise." Also, his film "The Legend of Pancho Barnes and the Happy Bottom Riding Club," the profile of a 1920s Pasadena society girl who became an adventurer and aviator, won an Emmy in 2009. The film continues to air on public television.

Spark's current project "Right Footed" profiles UA alumna Jessica Cox, who was born without arms. Cox learned to type, drive a car and fly an airplane — all with her feet.

"When I think of the UA, I think of the people who made a difference in my life, and that I never really got to thank them," Spark said. "My friends were always willing to explore the unknown, taking 20 or more units a semester, hefting heavy backpacks. Those academic all-stars challenged me to work harder, sleep less and lift with my legs."

Adding to his portfolio, Spark was a contributing editor to Wings and Airpower magazines, and he has had articles published in the Annals of Improbable Research, Naval History and the Journal of the American Aviation Historical Society. He has appeared on National Public Radio and the PBS program "History Detectives." Recently, he adapted his article "Why Everything You Know About Murphy’s Law is Wrong" into a short book, "A History of Murphy's Law."

After the UA, Spark earned an M.F.A. in film production from the University of Southern California School of Cinematic Arts. 

Spark has been named the Honors College's Alumnus of the Year.

Categories: Campus NewsThis is a Wildcat Corner feature: Images: Tags: AlumniByline: University Relations - Communications and the Alumni Association |Editor: dougcarrollInclude in UANow: 0Date of Publication: Monday, November 3, 2014Medium Summary: Nick T. Spark will receive the Honors College's Alumnus of the Year award during homecoming. Feature on Front: NoShort Summary: Nick T. Spark has received Emmy awards for his work. Send to Never Settle Site: 0

Hiring Interns? Top 8 Tips for Companies

Mon, 11/03/2014 - 10:28

Companies relying on student interns must adhere to eight core best practices, incentives and goals, said Eileen McGarry, the executive director of Career Services at the UA.

McGarry shared her insights during the STEM Internship Business Forum held on campus last week. As McGarry explained:

1. Company leaders must buy in to the internship program. Upper-level support is crucial to a program's success.

2. Supervisor-level personnel must be engaged in the internship program.

3. Assignments to interns must be authentic. Interns must work on projects in which they are able to help solve real-world problems.

4. Interns must receive regular feedback to ensure that they are learning and growing.

5. Companies should adopt a cohort model where possible. It is important that a culture of teamwork is emphasized and that interns feel part of a "culture of inclusion."

6. Interns should be paid for their work and be tasked with working on projects with real-world applications.

7. Accountability must be expected and emphasized.

8. Interns should be trained toward transferring their skills into full-time work in the field.

During the forum, UA President Ann Weaver Hart and Tucson Mayor Jonathan Rothschild, along with representatives from the UA STEM Learning Center announced a new process that will make it easier for businesses to connect with STEM interns. With life scientists, engineers, social science technicians and mathematical scientists being among the STEM positions expected to have the highest demand in southern Arizona through 2020, as reported by UA STEM Learning Center researchers, the UA is increasing support for the STEM fields.

"At Career Services, we are at the front door for talent positions," said McGarry, who urged area businesses to connect with the UA and its partners to identify interns. "There is a whole lot going on on our campus. We will help you get started on this process."

Learn more about UA's STEM initiative by reading "With Seed Planted, STEM Internships Can Grow."




Categories: Business and LawThis is a Wildcat Corner feature: Images: Tags: EducationOutreachByline: University Relations - Communications |Editor: dougcarrollInclude in UANow: 0Date of Publication: Monday, November 3, 2014Medium Summary: Looking for interns? Here are some reminders and suggestions for employers. Feature on Front: YesShort Summary: Looking for interns? Here are some reminders and suggestions for employers. Send to Never Settle Site: 1

The Confluencenter and Being 'Confluential'

Mon, 11/03/2014 - 09:27

Since arriving as visiting scholar at the Confluencenter, casual conversations have more than once raised the idea of a yet-undeveloped concept: confluential.

The term was first coined by Raul Aguirre, a friend of the center and longtime community activist and owner of REA Media, while helping launch CCI's inaugural bilingual venue at the Tucson Festival of Books. Even the idea of a trending Twitter tag #confluential was raised. Javier Duran, the center's director, fully agrees that "being confluential" is at the heart of the center's mission.

But what does it mean to be confluential? Can we turn confluence into an adjective? In other words, in the same manner that influential might be "to possess or exert influence," can we possess or exert confluence?

The word confluence comes from the Latin "confluere," or to flow together. Often used in reference to rivers, as in the confluence of the Mississippi and Missouri rivers, confluence also can simply refer to "an act or process of merging." Merging, or confluence, is something that is certainly needed in the borderspace, as are those individuals, collectives or synergies who might possess or exert such forces — and be confluential. In fact, it goes even deeper, as much of the discourse is so beholden to particular understandings of what or whom is peripheral and precarious and what is central, secure (or to be secured) and at the core.

I’ve already had a chance to attend a couple of events at the UA. One was organized by the School of Art (its VASE Lecture), a provocative and disruptive presentation by Ricardo Dominguez on "Border Art Disturbances: Electronic Civil Disobedience and the Transborder Immigrant Tool." The other was the opening event for the amazing new exhibit and digital archive at the UA: The Documented Border.

Both of these were demonstrations of confluence and being confluential. The Confluencenter has taken on the mantle of being confluential by facilitating, supporting and fostering such projects and presentations. As such, I'm particularly delighted and thankful to be part of the center. However, the projects and presentations, and often those in attendance, are confluential. The diversity of academic disciplines, mediums, identities and ideas in Dominguez's work and The Documented Border testifies to what it means to be confluential.

Finally, in a space such as the borderlands, we should be anything but surprised to find ourselves beginning our reflections (or perhaps returning or revisiting them) with discourse. The notion of what it means to be confluential can be a powerful access point into a field saturated with devastating discourses.

 I look forward to periodically returning to the concept of what it means to be confluential during the course of my months here at the Confluencenter. I’m also excited to continue to make connections and be amazed by the breadth of depth of inquiry and engagement, and to contribute and be a part in whatever small way that I can.

Benjamin J. Muller is the UA Confluencenter for Creative Inquiry's inaugural visiting scholar. Muller was invited because of his distinguished multidisciplinary research on the intersection of borders, borderlands, security and identity, and biometric technology. Given the close proximity of the U.S.-Mexico border, these issues are relevant to the UA and the greater campus. 


Categories: Social Sciences and EducationThis is a Wildcat Corner feature: Images: Tags: FacultyResearchEducationThe ArtsByline: Benjamin J. Muller, UA Confluencenter for Creative Inquiry |Editor: dougcarrollInclude in UANow: 0Date of Publication: Tuesday, November 4, 2014Medium Summary: Can we be "confluential"? Benjamin J. Muller, the UA Confluencenter for Creative Inquiry's inaugural visiting scholar, explains why we must. Feature on Front: NoShort Summary: Can we be "confluential"? Here's one idea about what that means.Send to Never Settle Site: 0