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Got Planets? Smaller Stars Are Best Bet

Mon, 02/16/2015 - 16:18

In the search for Earth-size planets, lower-mass stars make for more promising hunting grounds than their sun-like counterparts, a team of University of Arizona astronomers has discovered. 

Stars weighing in at less than half of the sun's mass are twice as likely to possess planets and these planets can be found closer to their host stars, the research team reports in the Astrophysical Journal. The study suggests that scientists looking for planets outside of our solar system — called exoplanets — are more likely to discover Earth-size planets by focusing their search on such lower-mass stars, also known as red dwarfs.

"When you combine the fact that red dwarfs vastly outnumber the sunlike stars in the Milky Way with our finding that those stars have more planets, you realize that most planets waiting to be discovered are going to be found around lower-mass stars," said Gijs Mulders, the lead author of the study. Mulders is a postdoctoral fellow in the UA's Department of Planetary Sciences and Lunar and Planetary Laboratory.

"It seems that lower-mass stars are more efficient at making planets, and we really would like to know why," he added.

The findings were made by systematically analyzing data gathered by the Kepler Space Telescope. Launched in March 2009, Kepler is a space observatory launched by NASA to discover Earth-like planets orbiting other stars. The telescope did this by staring into one small patch of sky for the duration of its first mission, monitoring more than 100,000 stars for tiny dips in light called transits, caused when planets pass in front of them.

"For sun-like stars, we have detected thousands of planetary candidates with Kepler, but less than a hundred for red dwarfs of which fewer have been observed," Mulders said. "We wanted to know: Does it matter around what type of star a planet forms? Apparently it does, and that has implications for detecting Earth-size planets."

Mulders collaborated with Ilaria Pascucci, professor at LPL, and Daniel Apai, professor at the UA's Department of Astronomy and Steward Observatory and LPL. The team took the available data from the candidate planetary systems discovered by Kepler in the first two years and calculated the average number per star through statistical reconstructions. This is a necessary step, as not all planets transit their hosts' stars: Planets farther from their hosts' stars have a lower probability to be detected, while it is easier to discover small planets around smaller stars as they cover a relatively larger part of their surface. Only after this step, the researchers were able to compare the likelihoods of having planets for stars of different sizes and found them to be different.

"Basically, we inferred the number of planets that exist from the small subset observed by Kepler," Mulders said.

Previous studies had found that lower-mass stars had more planets, but only for a small size range (two to four earth radii) and therefore excluded Earth-size planets.

"By including more stars over a much longer observation period, we were able to expand that population by including planets ranging in size from one to four Earth radii," Mulders explained. "In other words, planets whose size is somewhere between Earth and Neptune."

Most of the Kepler systems are very different from our solar system, with the majority of planets discovered occupying very tight orbits around their stars. These so-called super-Earths or mini-Neptunes are often much bigger than Earth, and their orbits range from closer than Mercury's orbit around the sun, to almost as far as Earth's orbit.

Earth-like planets, on the other hand, are expected to be restricted to the habitable zone, where temperatures allow for liquid water to occur.  

"Finding Earth-size planets in the habitable zone is easier around a lower-mass star," Apai said, "and because the star is smaller, the habitable zone of where planets cool enough to sustain life could exist extends closer to the star."

Unlike previous studies, which had lumped together different distances between planet and host star, the new research applied the calculations for planets at different distances from the star, showing that planets have tighter orbits around lower-mass stars. This finding allowed Mulders and his colleagues to draw implications for theories on how planets are born.

"Planets form in protoplanetary disks consisting of gas and dust, and those have an inner dust edge that was thought to correspond with the orbit of the innermost planet," said Pascucci, co-author of the study. "But to our surprise, the idea that planets form in place doesn't match our findings."

Observations show that while the gas disk extends close to the star, the dust portion of the protoplanetary disk is limited to a certain distance from the star because dust grains evaporate once temperatures become too hot. Compared to sun-like stars, the dust disk around a red dwarf reaches much closer to the star, with the gas disk's edge being closer, too, but not by as much.

"The tighter planet orbits around red dwarfs match the location of the gas, which implies that those planets or their building blocks must have formed from dust further out in the disk and then migrated inward," Pascucci said.

Over the course of its second mission, which began in May 2014, the Kepler telescope will peer out into the galaxy at various fields of view.

"Kepler is now looking at stars of even lower masses than before," Mulders said. "This is exciting because it may inform us further on how planets form and why lower-mass stars are so efficient at it. We expect it might more than double the number of known planets around red dwarfs."

Editor: dougcarrollWriter: Daniel StolteByline: Daniel StolteByline Affiliation: University Relations – CommunicationHeader image: YesNo Image: Subheading: In the search for Earth-size planets elsewhere in the Milky Way, lower-mass stars make for more promising hunting grounds, UA astronomers have discovered.Include in UANow: yesInclude in Olympic Coverage: noFeature on Olympic Page: noUANow Image: Includes video: 

Land-Grant Mission Goes South of the Border

Fri, 02/13/2015 - 16:43

Last week, nearly 60 representatives from 19 Mexican universities made a visit to the Tucson Village Farm, located on the University of Arizona's Campus Agricultural Center along north Campbell Avenue.

They were there for more than enjoying the sunshine and tasting the fresh farm produce. They participated in a UA-hosted training for a project to establish a new extension network in Mexico.

The UA is leading the initiative, in partnership with New Mexico State University. The project is called the Red De Extensión e Innovación Nacional Universitaria, also known as Project REINU, and translates to the National University Extension and Innovation Network.

"REINU is ... a collaborative initiative of Mexico's department of agriculture, SAGARPA ... to develop essentially an extension service, but a university-based extension service," said Mike Proctor, UA vice president for global initiatives.

Project REINU will serve Mexico as a national university-based network of scientists and educators to provide resources and educational services across the country. The network will serve as a link between research-based information and communities, as well as youth-based programs similar to Arizona's 4-H Youth Development program.

There currently are six primary universities in Mexico involved. Each university has satellite offices, totaling 19 extension sites in Mexico. Proctor said the goal is to involve 80 universities in Project REINU by 2018.

Paul Gutierrez, an extension specialist for New Mexico State University, said partnering with the UA on project REINU was an obvious choice. Both universities are land-grant institutions, and their border locations mean they are well-prepared to serve Mexico and form strong partnerships with Mexican institutions.

"The partnership with the University of Arizona was very easy," Gutierrez said. "We're all part of the same cultural fabric."

In the U.S., 4-H is the nation's largest youth development organization, and it is the primary youth development program of the Cooperative Extension system of land-grant universities across the country. The UA is Arizona's only land-grant university, and it leads Arizona's 4-H Youth Development program.

The goal of 4-H programs is to prepare young people to make a positive impact in their communities and the world. The program has more than 6 million members nationwide, offering clubs, camps and other youth enrichment programs.

Kirk Astroth is director of the Arizona 4-H Youth Development program, operated within the UA College of Agriculture and Life Sciences' Cooperative Extension.

"In countries like Mexico where there's lots of challenges, young people want to be involved," Astroth said. "They want to be part of the solution. They want to design the future. They don't want to be spectators in democracy."

During the Tucson Village Farm training, which was just one portion of the visitors' weeklong agenda, attendees were able to tour the farm and learn about various aspects of its operations, such as funding and community program development.

There also were more than 100 first-, second- and third-graders from Coronado and Khalsa Montessori schools visiting the farm during the training, allowing the Mexican representatives to see Tucson Village Farm and Cooperative Extension agents "in action."

Astroth has experience building 4-H programs in other countries. He has coordinated programs in Latvia and Lithuania and most recently returned from Nepal, where he also helped formalize a 4-H program. The best practices he has learned from those experiences will help direct Project REINU.

He said 4-H programs have tremendous benefits for nations worldwide because they help to develop a country's youth and future.

"4-H helps those young people develop the leadership skills and practical life skills so that they can have input and influence on the future, direction and course of their country," he said.

Video Thumbnail: Category(s): Social Sciences and EducationYouTube Video:  Project REINU Video of Project REINU Feature Sticky: OffFeature on Front: YesMedium Summary: Representatives of 19 Mexican universities attended a UA-hosted training for a project that will establish a new extension network in Mexico.Date of Publication: Monday, February 16, 2015Send to Never Settle Site: 1Includes video: 

iPlant's Big Data Bridges the Atlantic

Fri, 02/13/2015 - 16:13

High-performance cyber-infrastructure is crossing the Atlantic, thanks to a collaboration between the UA-led iPlant Collaborative and scientists at three United Kingdom universities and The Genome Analysis Centre, or TGAC, in Norwich, U.K.

The initiative known as iPlant UK, which will extend into the United Kingdom the data storage and analytical platforms provided by the iPlant Collaborative, recently was funded at £1.8 million (about $2.7 million) by the Biotechnology and Biological Sciences Research Council, or BBSRC.

"Scientists from all over the world use iPlant to share data and computational methods," said Matt Vaughn, co-principal investigator of the iPlant Collaborative and site lead at Texas Advanced Computing Center, or TACC. "iPlant UK is a natural extension of our platform to support plant scientists in the U.K."

One current bottleneck in life science research is a lack of capacity to share and analyze enormous data files in an efficient, user-friendly way. The life sciences generate huge volumes of data containing untold discoveries, which could help tackle global challenges in medicine, biofuels, biodiversity and agriculture, and problems such as drought tolerance, plant breeding and sustainable farming — if they could be analyzed.

The iPlant Collaborative is a virtual organization funded by the National Science Foundation to provide computational capacity for big data for all life science research.

Harnessing the power of some of the world’s fastest supercomputers, iPlant provides huge cloud-based storage space and a virtual lab bench, which put global life science data and online tools in one place. Users can share datasets and tools to analyze data with as many or as few people as they wish. Tools to analyze data developed by iPlant staff, or built by others, can be shared with the wider community in a similar manner to smartphone apps.

In less than 10 years, the iPlant Collaborative has grown to serve the data storage and analysis needs of more than 18,500 users. The recently awarded BBSRC funding will bring the advanced computing capability provided by iPlant closer to scientists in the U.K. by building an iPlant UK node at TGAC. TGAC provides substantial national capability in computing infrastructure and analysis to the U.K. Thus, it is perfectly situated to provide the foundations for the iPlant UK node.

"iPlant has always operated with the motivation to build the best cyber-infrastructure possible for as many users as we could feasibly support," Vaughn said. "We’ve developed our infrastructure to be flexible and extensible, and it’s exciting to see the BBSRC investing in the iPlant model."

Software tools developed for specific plant science sequencing, systems biology and image analysis projects at the Universities of Warwick, Liverpool and Nottingham will be adapted by a dedicated team of programmers so that they can be integrated into iPlant UK. These will then be made freely and openly available for the wider plant science community to use.

Jim Beynon of the University of Warwick will lead the establishment of iPlant UK along with scientists at TGAC, the University of Liverpool, the University of Nottingham, the University of Arizona and TACC.

A U.K. iPlant node is expected to help spread expertise and best practice between the U.K. and U.S., allow U.K. researchers to provide input for the future direction of cyber-infrastructure for life sciences, and provide an exemplar project to others wishing to establish future international iPlant nodes.

By establishing iPlant UK and promoting access to a resource that allows users to readily store and analyze their data, the project could support a wide range of research, including genome-side association projects exploiting natural variation in crops, predicting biological networks and pathways, and the high-throughput imaging and image analysis services that take researchers one step closer to fully understanding which genes are linked to specific traits in plants.

"iPlant UK users will now have their own dedicated resources for computing, storage, application development and training, while being able to use and build upon the foundation developed by the iPlant team in the U.S.," Vaughn said. "We look forward to working with our collaborators across the Atlantic to help empower U.K. plant scientists to work with large, complex biological data."

Editor: dougcarrollWriter: Shelley LittinByline: Shelley Littin and Robert DawsonByline Affiliation: iPlant Collaborative and BBSRCHeader image: YesNo Image: Subheading: The British government is funding the new initiative, which will extend high-performance cyber-infrastructure to tackle "big data" science developed by iPlant Collaborative, headquartered at the UA's BIO5 Institute. Include in UANow: yesInclude in Olympic Coverage: noFeature on Olympic Page: noUANow Image: Includes video: 

UA 79th in Business Journal Rankings

Fri, 02/13/2015 - 15:03

The University of Arizona came in at No. 79 in a new ranking of 484 of the nation's public universities and colleges from American City Business Journals, announced Thursday. The rankings used the most recent data released by the National Center for Education Statistics and the U.S. Census Bureau's American Community Survey. Arizona State University was ranked No. 70.

The goal of the rankings was to identify the public universities and colleges that offer the best educational experiences to students. The highest marks went to schools with highly selective admissions processes, strong retention and graduation rates, prestigious reputations, affordable tuition and housing costs, diverse faculties and student bodies, and economically robust communities.

The UA's ranking in six categories (five stars is the highest):

  • Selectivity (admissions): 3 stars
  • Advancement (retention and graduation rates): 4 stars
  • Prestige: 4 stars
  • Costs (tuition and room and board): 3 stars
  • Diversity (gender and ethnic composition): 5 stars
  • Community (college degrees and jobs): 2 stars

Earlier in the week, the UA's 100% Engagement initiative was cited in its ranking of 33rd among "The 50 Most Underrated Colleges in America," posted on UA students "not only work hard in the classroom, but 100% graduate with real-world experience related to their degree, whether through an internship, research or community service," MSN said. Business Insider recently published the same rankings, based on information from U.S. News & World Report and PayScale.

Editor: dougcarrollByline Affiliation: University Relations - CommunicationsHeader image: NoNo Image: Subheading: Six key categories were identified among public institutions offering the best educational experiences to students.Include in UANow: 0Include in Olympic Coverage: noFeature on Olympic Page: noIncludes video: 

BIO5 Connects Students With Companies

Wed, 02/11/2015 - 11:38

BIO5 Institute’s annual networking event, designed to facilitate interaction of the next-generation workforce with industry experts for internships, full-time employment and career advice, drew close to 200 University of Arizona students to the Thomas W. Keating Bioresearch Building last week.

BIO5, the Bioindustry Organization of Southern Arizona and industry leader Sanofi co-hosted the seventh annual event, which has successfully connected many UA graduate and undergraduate students in the life sciences, engineering and business to internships and jobs across the state.

In addition to bridging a gap between student and industry employment needs, the format of the event encourages students to talk one-on-one with professionals and former students now working in bioindustry about how to best position themselves for careers. Company representatives and staff from UA graduate programs and career services offer tips and strategies to ease the transition from college to the working world.

Industry partners this year included Aztera, GenoSensor, HTG Molecular Diagnostics, Luceome, Sanofi, Save the Cord Foundation, Ventana Medical Systems, NESCO Resource and the UA’s iPlant Collaborative.

"Our event goes beyond a regular career fair in that it provides an environment that connects academia and industry and allows students to network free from the pressures that are associated with having to make a good impression in ad-hoc interviews with anonymous interviewers," said Uwe Hilgert, BIO5’s director of STEM training.

An additional component this year was a symposium with mini-presentations conducted by industry leaders, designed to engage students about trends in the life and biomedical sciences in areas such as information technology and big data. Breakout sessions offered in collaboration with UA Career Services included a professional communication skills workshop and Q&As with former students who attended this event in years past and went on to internships or careers in bioindustry.

Aligned strongly with the UA’s 100% Engagement initiative, the event offers opportunities for practical application of skills learned by students in the classroom.

"The Student Industry Networking Event helped me find an internship with Sanofi's Research Center in Oro Valley last year," said Sara Hall, a graduate student in biochemistry. "I am so thankful for that opportunity, and I was happy to come back this year and share my experience with fellow students."

Kevin Arreaga, an undergraduate biomedical engineering student, said, "I will be participating in an internship at Ventana Medical Systems this summer, and without BIO5 and the networking event, I may have not have had such an amazing opportunity."

Company representatives also appreciate the opportunity to interact with some of the UA’s most motivated students.

"The Student Industry Networking Event is a unique opportunity for Arizona’s life sciences business community to meet the workforce of the future," said Richard Austin, senior unit manager of the Tucson Innovation Center of Sanofi US. "In particular for Sanofi, it’s a great mechanism to make face-to-face contact with candidates for our robust summer intern program."

"The event is a vital opportunity to connect our biotech leaders with a strong pipeline of well-qualified future engineers, lab technicians, biotech specialists and other top‐flight employees," said Alex Rodriguez, vice president of the southern Arizona office of the Arizona Technology Council. "Without this annual networking event, our regional companies would miss out on a slate of potential new employees they need for future growth and innovation." 

Video Thumbnail: Category(s): Science and TechnologyTeaching and StudentsYouTube Video:  BIO5 Student Industry Networking Event 2015 Video of BIO5 Student Industry Networking Event 2015 Feature Sticky: OffFeature on Front: NoMedium Summary: The BIO5 Institute, rich with industry connections, hosts its seventh annual networking event for students, exemplifying the UA's 100% Engagement initiative.UANow Image: Date of Publication: Wednesday, February 11, 2015Send to Never Settle Site: 0Includes video: 

College of Optical Sciences Raises $12.5M for Scholarships

Wed, 02/11/2015 - 10:30

The University of Arizona’s College of Optical Sciences has successfully completed one of the most ambitious scholarship fundraising campaigns in the University’s history.

More than 270 donors collectively raised $2.5 million in response to a $10 million challenge, establishing 27 new endowed scholarships for optics graduate students, raising the total to 30.

The campaign brings the total new endowed optics scholarship funds to $12.5 million. The news was announced Tuesday in San Francisco at a reception for the SPIE Photonics West, a leading optics industry convention, as the capstone to the college’s 50th anniversary.

James C. Wyant, professor emeritus and founding dean of the college, committed $10 million in scholarship funds in 2013. His vision was to help students through their first — and most challenging — year of graduate study. Then he uniquely structured his gift as a 4-to-1 offer to encourage others to participate. However, no one anticipated that the outpouring of support would happen so quickly.

Each of the new scholarship funds will award a stipend of $20,000 to first-year graduate students, and the University will waive tuition for all 30 of the scholarship recipients.

"Without question, these scholarships will dramatically enhance the college’s ability to attract the very best science and engineering students into optics and photonics, key to producing tomorrow’s leaders in our field," said Thomas L. Koch, dean of the college.  

Since its inception, the college has grown as a center of innovation and interdisciplinary research and today is the largest and most diverse academic optics education and research program in the nation. A prolific producer of intellectual property, it also has brought in a substantial number of the UA’s recent patents and licenses.

"In just over 50 years, the College of Optical Sciences has become a powerhouse of innovation and is a major contributor to the UA's international reputation for research excellence," said UA President Ann Weaver Hart. "It is gratifying to see many of the builders of the college involved in extending its reach through this fundraising campaign. The University will benefit from their generosity for years to come, and we thank them for their vision."

Donors to the scholarship campaign, dubbed Friends of Tucson Optics, or FoTO, include optics alumni and faculty, as well as industry business leaders, an optics industry association and even faculty from other prominent universities. A graduate student, who wishes to remain anonymous, established a scholarship in a war hero’s name, hoping that it would inspire fellow students to courageously pursue excellence in their careers.

Others include James Mayo III, who helped establish the college in 1964 and also became its first graduate. He funded a scholarship in honor of his family. UA faculty member Nicolaas Bloembergen, a 1981 Nobel Prize recipient in physics, also contributed.

John B. Hayes, who received his doctorate from the college in 1984, and his wife, Jane C. Quale, bookended the campaign by funding the first two scholarships. They recently created the 30th.

"Optics is an exciting technology that touches almost everything we do," Hayes said. "Our high-tech world would not be possible without the understanding and technology enabled by optical science. It is a tremendous privilege to support the future generations of optical scientists and engineers who will continue to further refine our understanding of optical phenomena and develop exciting new technologies."

The scholarships contribute directly to the Arizona NOW campaign, which was launched publicly in April 2014 and concludes in June 2018. To date, the campaign is ahead of pace, with more than 70 percent of the goal met. The comprehensive fundraising campaign also is distinguished by its unprecedented scope and its ties to Never Settle, the UA’s strategic plan.

"Jim Wyant has dedicated his career to elevating the UA’s College of Optical Sciences, and today he sets a historic bar as a philanthropist," said James H. Moore Jr., president and CEO of the UA Foundation. "It’s thrilling to see support for students – one of Arizona NOW’s key priorities – transcend what any of us imagined possible in the first year of the campaign’s public launch. We hope this inspires even more donors to set aspirational goals."

Editor: dougcarrollByline Affiliation: UA College of Optical Sciences and UA FoundationHeader image: YesNo Image: Subheading: Total of $2.5 million from recent fundraising campaign is in addition to a $10 million commitment by James C. Wyant, the college's founding dean, two years ago. Include in UANow: yesInclude in Olympic Coverage: noFeature on Olympic Page: noUANow Image: Includes video: 

Roundtable to Address Health Literacy for Hispanics

Wed, 02/11/2015 - 09:21

University of Arizona faculty are co-hosting the Latino Literacy Roundtable to provide an opportunity for scholars and the community to meet about the development of health literacy among Hispanics.

Held in advance of the Tucson Festival of Books, the March 13 event exists to promote strategies that encourage and expand bilingualism and biliteracy.

Tucson Mayor Jonathan Rothschild will open the 2015 event, to be held from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. at the Arizona Historical Society, 949 E. Second St.

The event will feature a poster session and roundtable discussions related to how the UA and local government agencies are addressing health literacy and wellness issues within Hispanic communities. The event is free and open to the public, and registration is required by emailing

"We want the community to know that we have a lot of excellent people here that they can partner with, and who they can go to who have the expertise they need," said Patricia Montiel Overall, the event chair and an associate professor in the School of Information Resources and Library Science.

"Our goal is to help people recognize the positive health notions that Latinos have, and that can be used to move them forward into more healthy lifestyles."

Dr. Francisco A.R. García, a UA Mel and Enid Zuckerman College of Public Health professor and also director of the Pima County Health Department, is this year's keynote speaker. García also is a fellow of the American Congress of Obstetricians and Gynecologists and a diplomat of the American Board of Obstetrics and Gynecology.

The roundtable was founded in 2012 at the UA School of Information Resources and Library Science to highlight literacy issues affecting Hispanic populations across the United States. The event is intended for families, educators, literacy program coordinators, health care professionals and students.

Research indicates that individuals with low health literacy are more likely than others to suffer from preventable illnesses, take medications incorrectly and have poor health.

Overall said a major point of emphasis during the roundtable is the need to consider assets people have in improving their health.

"So often you just hear that Latinos are poor, they don't have health insurance, they don't take care of themselves," Overall said.

"Our focus is on the assets of Latinos, whether it is folks in medical or herbal care, but a lot of people don't think about those things," she said. "But if you start to think about what they do have, you can engage people more. That's a paradigm shift."

Editor: dougcarrollByline Affiliation: University Relations - CommunicationsWhat: Latino Literacy RoundtableWhere: Arizona Historical Society, 949 E. Second St. When: March 13, 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. Extra Info: 

Registration for the 2015 Latino Literacy Roundtable is required, and the registration deadline is March 6. To register, send an email to Patricia Montiel Overall at Lunch will be provided to participants compliments of the UA Libraries.

Partners of the Latino Literacy Roundtable include the UA School of Information Resources and Library Science, the UA Libraries, the UA Department of Mexican American Studies, the Pima County Public Libraries, REFORMA, the city of Tucson, the office of Mayor Jonathan Rothschild, council member Regina Romero, Ricardo Pineda Albarrán of the Mexican Cónsul, the Arizona Historical Society and the Pima County Health Department.

Header image: YesNo Image: Subheading: The Latino Literacy Roundtable, to be held at the UA in March, is an opportunity for scholars and the community to discuss and share ideas about health-related literacy. Include in UANow: 0Include in Olympic Coverage: noFeature on Olympic Page: noIncludes video: 

NBC on Campus to Recruit Journalism Interns

Tue, 02/10/2015 - 15:09

Representatives from NBC Universal’s East and West Coast news divisions visited the University of Arizona last week as part of a recruiting visit to the School of Journalism.

"This was the first time the company’s national news division included the UA on its recruiting route," said Lisa Button, instructor and internship coordinator with the School of Journalism. "The recruiters went all out to spend time with our students in the classroom and at info sessions and interviews. It was an exciting opportunity."

During the two-day visit, two NBC recruiters met with journalism students, both to share what it takes to succeed in journalism and to interview students for a variety of paid NBC internships in New York and Los Angeles.

"Being the university that bred our very own Savannah Guthrie, we wanted to explore the candidate pool at your school," said Nadine Selim, a talent branding specialist at NBC Universal in New York. "We were very pleased and plan to return."

The recruiters attended the "Principles of Journalism" course, a class with 80 students, mostly freshmen, and gave them an overview of what they would need to do to be eligible for an internship at NBC Universal. The guests had lunch with student leaders from various journalism clubs, and they visited with students in the "Beginning TV Reporting" and "Advanced Multimedia" courses. They gave students in the "Cat’s Eye" production class advice on creating effective resumé reels. And they provided interview and other professional development advice to students in the "Media Apprenticeship" class.

"The visit from the NBC recruiters was a great experience and a wonderful opportunity," said Adriana Espinosa, a junior in the major.

The recruiters conducted more than 25 half-hour interviews with students for the many internships the network offers during the school year and summer. The recruiters were looking for students with strong writing skills and a strong work ethic, along with production skills for certain internships. Candidates must be enrolled as students at the time of the internship.

The NBC visit is one of many opportunities that journalism students have to build professional-level experience before they graduate. In the major, students regularly receive opportunities to produce print, online and video stories for publications and media organizations.

The journalism school also provides extensive support for students seeking internships. Every fall and spring, the school holds internship fairs, where students meet individually with recruiters from media organizations including The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal, the Associated Press, The Arizona Republic, the Arizona Daily Star and Arizona Public Media. 

Button also organizes workshops that provide students with critiques of student resumés, reels, cover letters, clips and portfolios.

"These engaged learning opportunities are essential for students to take what they glean from the classroom and apply it to real life," said David Cuillier, director of the School of Journalism. "The students learn more and ultimately help make the world a better place."

Editor: dougcarrollByline Affiliation: University Relations - CommunicationsHeader image: YesNo Image: Subheading: Over two days, UA students receive pointers from the pros on what it takes to succeed in a competitive media environment.Include in UANow: 0Include in Olympic Coverage: noFeature on Olympic Page: noIncludes video: 

Richard Ruiz Remembered for His Passion and Humor

Mon, 02/09/2015 - 15:28

Richard Ruiz, a beloved University of Arizona faculty member and mentor and head of the Department of Mexican American Studies in the College of Social and Behavioral Sciences, died unexpectedly on Friday. He was 65.

In addition to serving as department head for Mexican American studies, Ruiz was a professor in the Department of Teaching, Learning & Sociocultural Studies in the College of Education, with faculty affiliations in the Interdisciplinary Graduate Program in Second Language Acquisition and Teaching and the Program on Comparative Cultural and Literary Studies.

He was an Honors College professor and a Faculty Fellow and faculty adviser to the UA's Chicano/Hispanic Student Affairs, holding weekly office hours to talk to students.

He is remembered by his UA colleagues for his passion, thoughtfulness and sense of humor.

"Richard Ruiz was a remarkable person. Small in stature and quiet of voice, he was a productive and accomplished scholar; a committed and generous citizen of the academy and the world; and a teacher of uncommon ability and an ethical, honorable and kind member of our community," said Ronald Marx, dean of the UA College of Education.

"But beyond all of these important qualities, Richard had a way of combining all of these into a package that somehow was even more. He had a special quality that served to empower others, calm troubled waters and make everyone in his presence feel special and important. In a college and a University with many, many special people, Richard stood above them all."

Ruiz joined the UA faculty in 1986. Before being named head of the UA's Department of Mexican American Studies in 2012, he served as head of the Department of Language, Reading and Culture in the UA College of Education from 1993 to 1999 and as interim head of the Department of Teaching and Teacher Education from 2003 to 2007. Those two departments eventually merged to form the Department of Teaching, Learning & Sociocultural Studies.

Ruiz was recognized internationally for his research and scholarship in language planning and policy development and was a consultant to the governments of Mexico, Australia, Guatemala, Bolivia, the Federated States of Micronesia, the Netherlands Antilles (Aruba and Curaçao), Israel, South Africa, and native communities in the United States and Canada. In 1992, he was recognized for his expertise in educational policy studies when he was named to the Clinton-Gore Education Transition Team.

In 2000, Ruiz was selected as a Distinguished Visiting Professor by the Mexican Academy of Science, and in 2001 he was appointed director of social justice for the American Educational Research Association, or AERA. In 2004, he received the Maria Urquides Laureate Award in the College of Education for his outstanding service to bilingual children.

Ruiz served as editor of the Bilingual Research Journal for three years. He also served on the editorial boards of Urban Education, Teaching Education, Journal of Teacher Education and the Review of Educational Research.

He was involved with numerous committees and boards throughout his career. He served as chair of AERA's Standing Committee on Social Justice and as a member of the National Board of Professional Teaching Standards' English as a New Language Standards Committee; AERA's Minorities, Governance and Special Interest Group Task Forces; and the Multicultural Education Committee of the American Association of Colleges of Teacher Education, to name a few.

Prior to joining the UA, Ruiz received degrees in French literature at Harvard College and in anthropology and philosophy of education at Stanford University. He taught educational policy studies at the University of Wisconsin, Madison for nine years.

Ruiz touched many lives during his time at the UA, and those who worked closely with him say his impact will be long remembered.

"Richard will always be remembered by his quirky and always hilarious sense of humor. But of course he will also be remembered for so many other things: for his passion for social justice and for being on the right side of the struggles for human and civil rights," said colleague Alberto Arenas, associate professor in the College of Education. "For his devotion to the University of Arizona, and always stepping up to the plate when the UA needed him — in the College of Education, Mexican American Studies and elsewhere. For expanding our intellectual horizons and for inspiring us to be better each day. For his commitment to students, which was indefatigable. He was an extremely popular professor and mentor who attracted undergraduate and graduate students from many walks of life."

"Richard was a dear colleague and human being, in so many ways the best of what a professor and department head can be," said Gary Rhoades, head of the UA Department of Educational Policy Studies and Practice. "A lovely combination of gentle and fierce, of uber smart and incredibly well-read … and very down to earth with a direct, simple wisdom. A wonderful, understated wit, with a quintessential chuckle that I will continue to treasure as it echoes in my mind."

Ruiz is survived by his wife, Marie, and two sons.

An altar has been established in Ruiz's memory on the second floor of the Cesar E. Chavez Building on the UA campus, and students, friends and colleagues are invited to bring pictures or to leave items or messages in remembrance.

On Wednesday, from noon to 1 p.m., the UA's Guerrero Student Center in Chicano/Hispano Student Affairs invites those who knew Ruiz to attend the center's "Peanut Butter Jelly Time" informal lunch discussion to share stories and celebrate Ruiz's life in Room 211 of the Chavez Building.

Later on Wednesday, from 3:30 to 4:15 p.m., the Department of Teaching, Learning & Sociocultural Studies invites guests to gather in the fifth-floor hallway of the College of Education Building for the department's regular "Café" event, which Ruiz began as a way for students and employees to gather and get to know one another. All are welcome to attend and share stories, photos or other memorabilia.

Editor: dougcarrollByline Affiliation: University Relations - CommunicationsHeader image: YesNo Image: Subheading: Faculty member and department head, who died last week, was internationally recognized for his research and scholarship in language planning and policy development. Include in UANow: yesInclude in Olympic Coverage: noFeature on Olympic Page: noUANow Image: Includes video: 

College Is More Than a Dream, It's a Plan

Mon, 02/09/2015 - 12:03

Lack of information and financial resources and poor preparation for college remain some of the greatest barriers to higher-education access, particularly for low-income families.

At the University of Arizona, the Office of Early Academic Outreach and Early Recruitment has worked to address those challenges through its College Academy for Parents, serving hundreds of families.

The free program, also known as CAP, has been a resource for more than 800 parents, representing 580 families and 2,085 Sunnyside Unified School District students. Through the program, parents learn about the college planning process and also create a map for their children's educational future.

Now in its 12th year, the program is recruiting parents of SUSD students for a 12-week program that begins Friday. The program is presented in English and in Spanish. Parents have until Feb. 25 to join.

"By the end of the program, our goal is that families will draw upon their own experiences, culture and community to promote educational achievement in their family," said Janette Mariscal Montalvo, CAP coordinator.

Workshops are facilitated by UA staff and faculty and are held Wednesdays, from 6-8 p.m., at Apollo Middle School. The program also provides child care for children, and participating families visit the UA three times over the course of the program.

Montalvo said the mission of the UA's Office of Early Academic Outreach is to increase the number of low-income, minority and first-generation college students. As such, one of CAP's goals is to involve 20 families from each SUSD elementary school annually. About 120 families are expected to participate this semester.

Montalvo said families who complete the program have a greatly improved understanding of college benefits, expectations and preparation requirements.  

The program's assessment results indicated that families, regardless of preferred language, showed statistically significant gains in 25 college knowledge variables, including financial aid processes, college-prep requirements and salary outcomes associated with degrees.

Also, Spanish-speaking parents reported greater average gains than English-speaking parents in 19 of the 25 college knowledge variables.

"The CAP program offers students and their parents a unique experience to begin planning for college from as early as elementary school," said Eugenia Favela, SUSD's superintendent.

"Through hands-on and dynamic on-campus workshops and tours, the CAP staff provide students and their parents informative, practical and enjoyable opportunities to make college attendance an attainable reality," Favela said. "We all appreciate the collaboration between the UA CAP program and Sunnyside, and (the UA's) help in promoting the district's commitment in creating a college-bound culture."

Editor: dougcarrollByline Affiliation: UA Office of Academic OutreachExtra Info: 

Workshops for the UA's College Academy for Parents cover topics that include the benefits of higher education, college planning, transitions from elementary to middle and high school, the importance of parental involvement, financial aid processes and admissions requirements at Arizona's universities.


Registration is now open for College Academy for Parents. Families who are interested in the program should contact Janette Mariscal Montalvo of the UA Office of Early Academic Outreach at 520-626-2300 or


Child care will be provided during College Academy for Parents to children ages K-6; middle- and high-school students are encouraged to attend the academy with their parents and guardians.

Header image: YesNo Image: Subheading: The UA's College Academy for Parents, in its 12th year, has helped hundreds of Tucson-area families prepare their children for college. Include in UANow: 0Include in Olympic Coverage: noFeature on Olympic Page: noIncludes video: 

LGBT Teens Who Come Out at School Have Better Self-Esteem, Study Finds

Mon, 02/09/2015 - 10:40

Gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender adolescents who come out at school have higher self-esteem and lower levels of depression as young adults, compared to LGBT youth who don't disclose their sexual orientation or gender identity at school, according to a new study led by University of Arizona researcher Stephen Russell.

Published in the American Journal of Orthopsychiatry, it is the first-known study to document the benefits of being out during adolescence, despite the fact that teens may experience bullying when they openly identify as LGBT.

Researchers examined data from the Family Acceptance Project, a research, intervention, education and policy initiative at San Francisco State University designed to prevent risk and promote well-being of LGBT children and adolescents.

They found in the project's survey of 245 non-Latino white and Latino LGBT young adults, ages 21 to 25, that respondents experienced victimization and bullying in high school because of their LGBT identity, whether they came out or not.

However, those who were open about their sexual orientation or gender identity in high school reported higher self-esteem and life satisfaction as young adults than those who did not disclose, or who tried to conceal, their sexual orientation or gender identity from others at school. Those who came out at school also reported lower levels of depression as young adults. The results were the same across genders and ethnicities.

The findings are significant as youth are coming out at younger ages, Russell said. LGBT adolescents often are counseled by adults not to disclose their sexual orientation and gender identity in an attempt to protect them from harm, he said. But the new research suggests that may not be the best advice.

"Until now, a key question about balancing the need to protect LGBT youth from harm while promoting their well-being has not been addressed: Do the benefits of coming out at school outweigh the increased risk of victimization? Our study points to the positive role of coming out for youth and young adult well-being," said Russell, director of the Frances McClelland Institute for Children, Youth and Families in the UA's John and Doris Norton School of Family and Consumer Sciences.  

Caitlin Ryan, director of the Family Acceptance Project and study co-author, said the finding has important implications for how adults and caregivers support LGBT youth.

"We know from our other studies that requiring LGBT adolescents to keep their LGBT identities secret or not to talk about them is associated with depression, suicidal behavior, illegal drug use and risk for HIV. And helping them learn about and disclose their LGBT identity to others helps protect against risk and helps promote self-esteem and overall health," Ryan said. "This study underscores the critical role of school environment in influencing LGBT students' risk and well-being into young adulthood."

Russell, a UA Distinguished Professor of Family Studies and Human Development, was inspired to conduct the study after being asked to provide an expert opinion for a suit filed by the American Civil Liberties Union.

The ACLU sued Okeechobee High School in Florida after the school denied students the right to start a gay-straight alliance on campus. School officials had argued that allowing the club would be disruptive and potentially harmful to students. 

The case was settled before going to trial, with the ACLU prevailing. But when ACLU attorneys asked Russell if he could say with absolute certainty that it is better for gay adolescents to come out at school than not, he realized the problematic lack of research on the subject.

Russell said the new findings, showing that being out at school contributes to well-being later on, will be important for educating parents, school officials and others about how to provide the best support and guidance for LGBT students.

"The thing that's encouraging is that we've found being out is good for you," said Russell, who also is the Fitch Nesbitt Endowed Chair in the Norton School, part of the UA College of Agriculture and Life Sciences.

"This is clearly aligned with everything we know about identity. Being able to be who we are is crucial to mental health."

Editor: dougcarrollWriter: Alexis BlueByline: Alexis Blue and Cathy RennaByline Affiliation: University Relations - Communications and the Family Acceptance ProjectHeader image: YesNo Image: Subheading: Despite the risk of being bullied, coming out in high school is better for students' well-being in the long run, according to a new study by UA researcher Stephen Russell. Include in UANow: yesInclude in Olympic Coverage: noFeature on Olympic Page: noUANow Image: Includes video: 

Recent UA Grad's Film Finds International Audience

Fri, 02/06/2015 - 16:31

Since graduating from the University of Arizona last May, Christopher Nataanii Cegielski has gained international attention for a film he produced during his last months at the University.

Earlier this month, Cegielski (Navajo) traveled to Berlin, where his film, "Bloodlines," was screened during Berlinale, the Berlin International Film Festival, one of the world's leading film festivals. It was the first time that a film affiliated with the UA Film and Television Program had been accepted into the festival, and his film was featured in the Generations Section, which drew more than 60,000 people.

"This could not have been possible without the cast and crew, along with the funders who so generously donated their money to make this short film possible," Cegielski said. His trip to Berlin was made possible by support from the Sundance Institute, which recently named him a Sundance Film Festival Fellow. The institute was founded by actor and director Robert Redford more than 30 years ago.

Through Sundance, Cegielski received one of three Time Warner Fellowships, which provides Fellows with mentoring, strategic grants, screenplay readings and in-progress screenings, along with invitations to related programs and events.

"These are great honors — huge honors and accomplishments," said Cegielski, who earned his bachelor of fine arts from the UA School of Theatre, Film & Television and is now living and working in Los Angeles. "I am thankful beyond belief for these opportunities, and am happy and excited to have been recognized. I just want to embrace every moment and enjoy every moment."

Cegielski, who grew up in Flagstaff, Arizona, wrote, directed and produced "Bloodlines," a short film about two adolescent American Indian brothers who set out to kill a wolf to earn their stern father's respect. The UA's film and television program trains emerging filmmakers and storytellers and emphasizes diverse voices.

"Not until the program at the UA did I get serious and begin experimenting with and using the craft," said Cegielski, whose film also received the Film and Television Program's Entertainment Partners Award for Excellence in Producing.

"My two and a half years in the UA film and television program was filled with strong friendships with my peers and faculty members," Cegielski said. "We created a small community of artists and filmmakers that collaborated, competed and pushed each other to produce the strongest work possible."

After the UA, Cegielski received advice from the UA Hanson Film Institute in the development of a film festival entry plan for "Bloodlines." The institute also provided financial support to supplement the budget for film festival submission fees and made introductions for Cegielski to film festival programmers and noted American Indian filmmakers for career advice.  

"Because the institute provides professional development opportunities for students, and with one of the institute's areas of focus being Native American filmmaking, I took note of Chris early on in his studies in the film and television program, and the institute provided him with a number of career development opportunities," said Vicky Westover, director of the Hanson Film Institute.

"It has been exciting to see him develop his talent and confidence as a filmmaker."

"Bloodlines" received its world premiere at imagineNATIVE Film + Media Arts Festival, the premier international film festival for work by indigenous filmmakers, which was held in Toronto, Canada, last October.

"Through this experience, I was able to show my film, work on new projects and make new friends," Cegielski said. "It was the perfect film festival experience."

By being named to the Sundance Film Festival Fellowship, Cegielski was supported in his attendance at year's Sundance Film Festival. There, he was able to participate in screenings, networking events and individually tailored meetings with industry leaders.

"Being at the Sundance Film Festival with the Native Program was an experience of a lifetime," Cegielski said, adding that it was especially encouraging to hear insight from predecessors about ways that he and others could contribute to the fourth generation of native filmmakers.

"The program did an amazing job at giving us every opportunity to become inspired and share our projects with filmmakers from around the world," he said. "In all, the program wanted to push us forward as filmmakers, and that's exactly what they did. Being selected by the program and given this opportunity was an absolute honor."

Cegielski said he would continue producing films that reflect the experience and influence of American Indian populations.

"Filmmaking is arguably one of the best ways to tell stories," he said. "I am trying to find stories I believe should be told."

Editor: dougcarrollWriter: La Monica Everett-Haynes and Vicki WestoverByline: La Monica Everett-Haynes and Vicki WestoverByline Affiliation: University Relations - Communications and the Hanson Film InstituteAdditional Keywords:  Header image: YesNo Image: Subheading: Christopher Nataanii Cegielski, who graduated from the UA last May, has earned a Sundance Fellowship and his film, "Bloodlines," has been screened at two international festivals. Include in UANow: yesInclude in Olympic Coverage: noFeature on Olympic Page: noUANow Image: Includes video: 

Solidarity Week to Focus on Compassionate Care

Thu, 02/05/2015 - 14:44

A week of solidarity for the compassionate care of patients will be celebrated on the Arizona Health Sciences Center campus Monday through Feb. 13. Events are designed to bring together health care faculty members, students and staff throughout the University of Arizona health sciences colleges.

Each year, the Arnold P. Gold Foundation honors National Solidarity Day for Compassionate Care, typically held on or near Valentine’s Day (Feb. 13 this year), by encouraging medical schools, patient-care institutions and other health care organizations around the country to show their support of the importance of kindness to patients. Solidarity Day began at the UA College of Medicine in 2011 in the wake of the shooting involving former U.S. Rep. Gabrielle Giffords.

Students in the UA College of Medicine – Tucson Gold Humanism Honor Society lead the effort on the AHSC campus. The society is the foundation’s signature program, recognizing medical students, residents and faculty members who practice patient-centered care by modeling the qualities of integrity, excellence, compassion, altruism, respect and empathy.

Rachel Manzo, a Class of 2015 UA College of Medicine – Tucson medical student and a member of the Gold Humanism Honor Society, said Solidarity Day "is about putting compassionate care at the forefront, and we’d like to invite everyone affiliated with or interested in patient care to join us."  

These events are scheduled and open to the AHSC community and the public:

Monday, Feb. 9

"A Conversation on Kindness" with Ben’s Bells founder Jeannette Mare: a presentation followed by tile painting for the Ben’s Bells Project, noon to 1 p.m., Kiewit Auditorium, UA Cancer Center. Ben’s Bells "Be Kind" card distribution to hospital units by the Gold Humanism Honor Society.

Tuesday, Feb. 10

"Caring for the Patient Experiencing Homelessness": a presentation by Dr. Adele O'Sullivan, UA College of Medicine – Tucson Alumna of the Year and founder of Circle in the City, noon to 1 p.m., UA COM Room 2117 (lunch provided).

Wednesday, Feb. 11

Art Aloud "Poetry Slam," Arizona Health Sciences Center Library, Java City, noon to 1 p.m. (lunch provided). Ben’s Bells “Be Kind” mural tile installation, 9:30 a.m. to 2:30 p.m., outside Diamond Children’s/Surgery entrances.

Thursday, Feb. 12

"Tell Me More" project: Gold Humanism Honor Society members spend time learning about patients’ lives in order to craft signs for display over their patients’ beds.  

Friday, Feb. 13

"Solidarity Day — The Power of Humanism": human chain connection and luncheon, Arizona Health Sciences Center Plaza, noon to 1 p.m.

Editor: dougcarrollByline: Rebecca Ruiz McGillByline Affiliation: UA Health Sciences CenterHeader image: YesNo Image: Subheading: Students in the UA College of Medicine have planned a week of kindness-oriented activities at the Arizona Health Sciences Center.Include in UANow: 0Include in Olympic Coverage: noFeature on Olympic Page: noIncludes video: 

Aquatic Trilobites Were the First Arizonans

Thu, 02/05/2015 - 13:09

Go back in your imagination millions of years, to a time when much of the American Southwest was a vast ocean teeming with ancient life. Few Arizonans would suspect that their arid desert home once belonged to one of the oldest and most unique aquatic species in the fossil record: the trilobite.

Long before dinosaurs ruled the earth, trilobites ruled the seas. Trilobites first appeared around 521 million years ago and were lost to a mass extinction event that occurred 250 million years ago at the end of the Permian period. Ancient ancestors of modern lobsters and horseshoe crabs, trilobites are one of the earliest known groups of arthropods on record.

More than 20,000 species of trilobite have been documented to date. Although they all share a hard exoskeleton and jointed limbs, the creatures exhibit a stunning array of morphological diversity and ranged from less than an inch to three feet in length.

The creatures also are considered the first to have developed compound eyes like those found in flies and other modern arthropods. Some species had up to 15,000 lenses in a single eye. Since their eyes were composed largely of the mineral calcite, they are well preserved in trilobite fossils, allowing scientists insight into the humble beginnings of one of evolution’s most masterful innovations.

The mystique and intrigue of trilobites go way beyond their unparalleled diversity and alien appearance. Trilobite fossils have provided crucial evidence needed to advance the development of a number of scientific fields, including basic geology, plate tectonics and evolutionary biology.

Remarkably, the evolution of trilobites is extremely well represented in Arizona’s fossil record. Some of the earliest known trilobite species have been found in sedimentary rock layers at the bottom of the Grand Canyon, while the most recent examples of trilobite life have been discovered in its topmost layers. In fact, early trilobite finds in the Grand Canyon were critical in shaping Arizona’s public lands policies, and the state is now considered a hub for hunting trilobite fossils.

To celebrate one of Arizona’s most ancient residents, the Flandrau Science Center and Planetarium on the University of Arizona campus has opened a new exhibit, "Meet the Trilobites: Arizona’s First Inhabitants," which features dozens of high-quality fossils collected from all across the globe.

Robert and Margaret Hazen recently donated many of the specimens on display to the UA Mineral Museum. Robert Hazen, a renowned trilobite collector, is a mineralogist and astrobiologist with the Carnegie Institution for Science in Washington, D.C.

"There’s immense morphological diversity represented in this exhibit," said Jake Skabelund, a trilobite expert who also donated fossils and helped put together the exhibit. "We have specimens on display from nearly every continent."

"The trilobites on display here are truly incredible," said Bill Plant, exhibits director at Flandrau. "They have a lot to teach us about the history of life on Earth."

Editor: dougcarrollWriter: Raymond SanchezByline: Raymond Sanchez, NASA Space Grant Science Writing InternByline Affiliation: University Relations – CommunicationsWhat: 'Meet the Trilobites'Where: Mineral Museum, Flandrau Science Center and PlanetariumWhen: 1601 E. University Blvd.Extra Info: 

Hours: 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday through Wednesday; 9 a.m. to 9 p.m. Thursday; 9 a.m. to 10 p.m. Friday; 10 a.m. to 10 p.m. Saturday; noon to 5 p.m. Sunday. 

Admission: $7 adults; $5 ages 4-17; free for children 3 and younger; $5 for seniors, military and college students with ID.

Information: 520-621-4516

Header image: YesNo Image: Subheading: The creatures are among the oldest known species in the fossil record, and their fossils are found in abundance in the state. Include in UANow: yesInclude in Olympic Coverage: noFeature on Olympic Page: noUANow Image: Includes video: 

Meet the Docs Who Rock

Thu, 02/05/2015 - 10:40

There's no doubt about it: Medical school is demanding. Between studying and working in the hospital, free time can be hard to come by.

But a group of University of Arizona medical students has found a way to take the edge off — with music.

Every Sunday night, the members of the aptly named DocApella gather in student Alex Sandweiss' living to room to take a deep breath in and sing it out.

Whether they're grooving with the Beach Boys or shaking it off with Taylor Swift, they use those Sunday night rehearsals to take a break from their grueling schedules and enjoy their shared love of music.

"In med school, we're stressed," said Sandweiss, who is pursuing a medical degree and a doctorate in pharmacology at the UA. "We've got tons to do in the first couple years with academics — reading textbooks and digital material all day long — and then in the second two years we're in the hospital all day long. We get almost no time, especially those second two years, to ourselves."

DocApella, Sandweiss said, offers a welcome reprieve from academics and also a way for students who may have been involved in music in the past to get back to it.

The group, which was started in 2008, averages between 16 and 20 members — mostly medical students, as well as a couple of faculty members from the College of Medicine – Tucson.

Members come to rehearsals toting their iPads, which are loaded with plenty of sheet music for Top 40 hits and well-known classics.

"I like to pick music that everyone knows and likes," said Sandweiss, who in addition to selecting and arranging songs serves as the "percussion" section for the group, with his convincing beatboxing skills. "I try to go basically by the Billboard Top 10 songs in a given year."

The members of DocApella take their talents to pediatric patients at the UA Medical Center — Diamond Children's and to local nursing homes, where they went Christmas caroling in December. The group also performs at various events at the College of Medicine, including the annual talent show in April, new student orientations and some alumni events.

Although no prior experience is required to sing with DocApella, many members have musical backgrounds that they may have had to set aside for their other college pursuits.

Such was the case for third-year medical student Steven Henglefelt, who played trumpet and French horn and sang in the choir in high school. He decided to join DocApella after seeing them perform when he was still an undergraduate.

"It's been a great study break and a great release and something to do on the side that's a great source of community," he said.

Third-year medical student Christina Zarraga also was involved in music in high school and said she was excited to return to it, singing as a soprano in DocApella.

"It's really nice to just take a break and use a different side of your brain than all the science stuff that we have to do in medicine," she said. "And it's kind of nice, too, because we're kind of like a little family here."

Video Thumbnail: Category(s): Campus NewsHealthYouTube Video:  Docs Who Rock Video of Docs Who Rock Feature Sticky: OffFeature on Front: NoMedium Summary: Aspiring doctors in the UA College of Medicine work hard and play hard, too, talking a break from their studies by singing in DocApella (good name, huh?). UANow Image: Date of Publication: Monday, February 9, 2015Send to Never Settle Site: 0Includes video: 

Alumnus Pledges $1M Matching Gift to Arizona Athletics

Wed, 02/04/2015 - 19:43

University of Arizona alumnus and letter winner Douglas Allred has committed a $1 million matching gift to Arizona Athletics through Arizona NOW, the University’s $1.5 billion comprehensive fundraising campaign.

Allred challenged the athletics department’s development arm, the Wildcat Club, to generate $1 million in new capital campaign donations that he would then match. The target amount was reached during the week of Jan. 12.  This is Allred’s third significant gift to Arizona Athletics after having donated $250,000 on two separate occasions.

"As an alumnus of the University of Arizona and a letter winner, the UA holds a special place in my heart," Allred said. "The education I received and the life lessons I acquired as a member of the football team have served me well throughout my career. In addition, the lifelong friendships I was able to develop during my time at Arizona remain a valuable part of my college experience and are a major factor in why I chose to support the athletics department with this donation."

Allred requested that this gift be directed to the Lowell-Stevens Football Facility and the ongoing debt service associated with the construction of the $72 million building. A critical component in Arizona’s recent success on the gridiron, LSFF opened in the summer of 2013 and put the football program’s facilities on par with its competitors in the Pac-12 Conference and around the nation. The facility is a five-story operations center with strength and conditioning, sports medicine, coaches’ offices, locker rooms, meeting rooms, a players lounge, and equipment and facility service areas. Additionally, LSFF houses the Bear Down Kitchen, which offers food service to all of Arizona Athletics’ student-athletes, including the football program, as well as the general public.

"I greatly admire the leadership of Greg Byrne, Rich Rodriguez, Sean Miller and the other coaches and staff currently working in the department," Allred added. "We’re fortunate to have this group working with Arizona Athletics’ young men and women. I’m happy to be able to invest in the success and continued growth of Arizona Athletics and I hope my contribution will serve the student-athletes and department well."

Allred earned a bachelor’s degree in business and lettered as an offensive lineman for the Wildcats in 1956 and ’57. While in Tucson, he was enrolled in the Naval Reserve Officer candidate program and obtained a commission after graduation. His naval career of three and a half years included shipboard duty and graduation from the Underwater Demolition Team training program. After training, Allred was assigned to UDT II, which would later become Navy Seal Team 5 based in Coronado, California.

"The support of Doug Allred and others like him is what makes Arizona Athletics special," said UA President Ann Weaver Hart. "When former Wildcats provide for the student-athletes of the future, a profound statement is made and our University community is enriched. We are grateful to Doug for this generous gift."

Upon release from the Navy, Allred started his real-estate career at Coldwell Banker & Co. as a commissioned salesman. In 1970, Allred co-founded Lion Property Corp. and served as the firm’s president and chief executive officer for 11 years. In 1981, Lion Property Corp. was dissolved, and Allred formed the Douglas Allred Co., a diversified real-estate firm providing residential and commercial land development, construction, marketing and property management services. The firm has developed over 6,300 multifamily and single-family residential units and more than 5,500,000 square feet of commercial, industrial and retail space.

"I’ve had the chance to get to know Doug over the last few years and you can tell that he really enjoyed his time as a Wildcat and wants to do whatever he can to help the program," said Rodriguez, the UA's head football coach. "It is people like Doug Allred and their willingness to support not just the football program, but all of Arizona Athletics, that are going to help us continue to grow our programs."

Allred continues to serve on the board of directors of prominent business and community institutions, including the San Dieguito Boys & Girls Club. In addition to generously supporting San Diego’s youth, he is committed to supporting military families through organizations such as the Naval Special Warfare Family Foundation. He has proudly supported the Hubbs-SeaWorld Research Institute, the San Diego Hall of Champions, and the Torrey Pines High School and Rancho Santa Fe Youth booster clubs. Allred has five children and 14 grandchildren.

"We deeply appreciate Doug Allred’s investment in the Lowell-Stevens Football Facility through Arizona NOW," said James H. Moore Jr., president and CEO of the UA Foundation. "Beyond being a fan-friendly venue and a great game-day experience, Lowell-Stevens is a place where student-athletes build resilience, drive, maturity and strength. Doug’s gift is also very special because he is a UA Wildcat investing in his alma mater and the future of our Wildcat athletics program. We couldn’t be more grateful for his generosity and the example he has provided for others to follow."

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 also are 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.

"It’s always a wonderful thing to announce a gift to the athletics department, but there is something special about doing so when the gift is coming from a former student-athlete," said Byrne, the UA's director of athletics. "Doug has been extremely generous to the athletics department over the last several years and we can’t thank him enough for his contribution."

The UA Foundation is a nonprofit corporation dedicated to advancing the University of Arizona and managing Arizona NOW. Managing an existing asset base of nearly $820 million, the UA Foundation has helped generate nearly $3 billion in private funding to support the University.

To learn more about Arizona Athletics’ capital campaign, call 520-621-2582 (CLUB). To learn more about the campaign for the University of Arizona, visit or 

Editor: dougcarrollByline Affiliation: Arizona AthleticsHeader image: YesNo Image: Subheading: Donation by Douglas Allred, a Wildcat football player in the 1950s, will be directed to the Lowell-Stevens Football Facility and its ongoing debt service.Include in UANow: yesInclude in Olympic Coverage: noFeature on Olympic Page: noUANow Image: Includes video: 

UA Leads Effort to Build Mexican Extension

Wed, 02/04/2015 - 19:25

As the state's only land-grant institution, the University of Arizona has led outreach efforts through its Cooperative Extension offices across Arizona. Now the UA is assisting efforts to build a similar network south of the border.

The UA-led project is called the Red de Extensión e Innovación Nacional Universitaria, also known as project REINU. The name translates to the National University Extension and Innovation Network.

Project REINU will serve Mexico as a national university-based network of scientists and educators to provide resources and educational services across the country. The network will provide a link between research-based information and communities, as well as youth-based programs similar to Arizona's 4-H Youth Development program.

Next week, the UA will host nearly 70 representatives from 19 universities in Mexico for training in how to jump-start extension programs there. Participants will visit the Pima County 4-H ropes course, the Tucson Village Farm, the Tucson Garden Kitchen, the Faul Ag-Ventures Farm and the 2,100-acre Maricopa Agricultural Center research farm. 

Mike Proctor, UA vice president for global initiatives, and Kirk Astroth, assistant dean of CALS, are leading the outreach.

REINU is "the development of a youth development program by and for Mexico, with guidance from the UA and examining the U.S. 4-H model," Proctor said.

"The University of Arizona is privileged to serve in this role as U.S. lead in helping Mexico develop a nationwide network for university extension and innovation," he added. "This opportunity comes as a result of literally generations of UA work in Mexico, and a shared vision for deep collaboration in the future. Together, we can work to empower individuals and communities to find new opportunities for education and economic development."

4-H is the largest positive youth development and youth mentoring organization in the U.S., empowering six million young people in partnership with 110 universities — including the UA. It is the youth development program of the nation’s Cooperative Extension System and the U.S. Department of Agriculture. The UA oversees 4-H programs for ages 5 to 19 in all 15 counties in Arizona. 

The Smith-Lever Act of 1914, signed into law by President Woodrow Wilson, established the Cooperative Extension System affiliated with the nation's land-grant universities. The UA's Cooperative Extension links the research and expertise of the University with Arizona's counties, using faculty to staff each extension center and provide resources to communities.

The UA Impact Map, viewable at, shows the University’s statewide impact in a variety of areas, including Cooperative Extension. 

Also next week, the UA College of Agriculture and Life Sciences will host the new president of Nepal 4-H. Lok Raj Awasthi will visit Tucson for three weeks to learn more about the UA's 4-H program. He will participate in several training programs and visit local 4-H clubs and programs as well as the Controlled Environment Agricultural Center.

Editor: dougcarrollByline Affiliation: University Relations - CommunicationsHeader image: YesNo Image: Subheading: Project REINU, another example of the University's reach across the border, is intended to help develop youth-based programs.Include in UANow: yesInclude in Olympic Coverage: noFeature on Olympic Page: noUANow Image: Includes video: 

UA Recognized for Value by Princeton Review

Wed, 02/04/2015 - 15:17

The University of Arizona is one of the nation's best institutions for students seeking superior academics and career preparation and generous financial aid, according to the Princeton Review.

The university is among the 200 schools profiled by the education services company in its newly published book, “Colleges That Pay You Back: The 200 Best Value Colleges and What It Takes to Get In” (Penguin Random House / Princeton Review, $21.99).  The schools also are featured on the Princeton Review's site at

The Princeton Review developed a "return on education" rating for the book. ROE measures 40 weighted data points — everything from academics, cost, financial aid and student debt to statistics on graduation rates, alumni salaries and job satisfaction. The company based its ROE rating on data collected in 2013-14 from surveys of administrators and students at 650 colleges and universities, plus surveys conducted by through April 2014 of alumni of the same schools.

The University of Arizona received an ROE score of 87. The top-ranked public institution, the University of Virginia, received a score of 97 and Arizona State University a score of 85.

In its profile of the UA, editors praised the university for its diversity and quoted students who cited its strong commitment to undergraduate research and opportunities for becoming involved on campus. The profile also reported figures on median salaries of UA alumni, showing the median starting salary as $48,400 and median midcareer salary as $86,900.

Editor: dougcarrollByline Affiliation: University Relations - CommunicationsHeader image: NoNo Image: Subheading: A new book, "Colleges That Pay You Back," spotlights 200 colleges and universities for their high return on education.Include in UANow: 0Include in Olympic Coverage: noFeature on Olympic Page: noIncludes video: 

UA Shares 'Never Settle' Progress With Regents

Wed, 02/04/2015 - 13:21

For each of the major performance measures outlined under Never Settle, the University of Arizona's academic and business plan, the institution has recorded significant achievements since the plan was first presented to the Arizona Board of Regents in November 2013.

In that time, the UA has increased its online degree offerings, transfer-student enrollments, degree attainment and freshman student retention, among other improvements.  

"When I started 2.5 years ago, I received some very clear messages from all of you about the University of Arizona and our relationship with Arizona, and where you wanted us to go," UA President Ann Weaver Hart said, presenting the plan's first progress report to ABOR on Thursday.

"We are extremely proud of what we will present here today about the University of Arizona," Hart said. "We are laser-focused on this plan, and focused on the outcomes."

The UA also saw substantial growth in donor support and research expenditures, and it has expanded its local and global partnerships.

"While we are building these relationships hewn from traditions, they are not traditional," Hart said. "They are strategic, they are multilateral and multigenerational, so that when we are long gone from this institution, the partnerships will continue around the world."

Never Settle was launched in response to ABOR's goals for 2020. In presenting the progress report, Hart and other leaders reaffirmed the UA's priorities and actions associated with driving economic prosperity and identifying solutions for contemporary grand challenges that affect communities worldwide. 

At the end of the UA's presentation, Mark Killian, chair of the board, lauded Hart and her team for the University's achievements.

"It is fantastic what these universities are doing, and we appreciate all that you do," Killian said. "Those are not just words; we see a dynamic occurring in Arizona that will lift us to the next level, so, on behalf of the board, we express our deep gratitude for your work."

UA Increases Academic and Experiential Offerings

Since the launch of Never Settle, the UA has initiated and implemented a strategy for student achievement, with a focus on offering more tailored, career-focused experiences.

The institution has begun a 100% Engagement initiative, redesigned numerous core classes and enhanced faculty professional development to improve teaching and learning.

UA leadership reported other key improvements, noting changes between the 2009 and 2014 academic years that featured: 

  • The largest entering class in UA history for a total undergraduate enrollment of 32,987, up from 29,719.
  • An increase in online degree programs, from 220 to 300. 
  • An improvement in the six-year graduation rate, from 57.2 percent to 60.3 percent. 
  • An increase in bachelor's degrees awarded, from 5,914 to 6,370.

The UA has expanded the number of its articulated programs with colleges and improved its freshman-to-sophomore retention rate and its graduation rates. Also, more than 400 new internships have been introduced with major companies such as Apple and General Mills, representing a growth of 13 percent in the last year.

"The big picture is that we have made progress on all of our goals," said Melissa Vito, senior vice president for Student Affairs & Enrollment Management.

Vito also noted that, for the first time in nine years, the UA has seen an increase in Arizona residents transferring to the University from in-state colleges. She acknowledged that while the increase is modest, it remains an important increase. "I feel like we have turned a corner," she said.

Regent LuAnn Leonard congratulated the UA for its improvements in student success.

"I want to commend you for the pieces you are implementing to provide more internships and real-life experiences so students can apply what they are learning when they are in jobs," Leonard said. 

Andrew Comrie, the UA's provost and senior vice president for academic affairs, said the University's improvements in student success can be attributed to the reinvention of student engagement and faculty teaching practices. 

"We can't create a more engaging experience for our students until we make sure that what we teach and what they learn is on a positive upward trajectory," Comrie said.

UA research indicates that in classes where faculty have adopted teaching strategies that encourage active participation in learning, students see better academic performance — at nearly an entire letter-grade difference — compared to those in traditional classes. 

"It's this kind of data that persuades peers to look at what is happening with these new initiatives and to adopt new teaching approaches," which is what is currently happening campuswide, Comrie said.

Strategies for Expanding Research Implemented

UA competitiveness for research funding increased with the development of centralized research support services and also promises greater activity at the commercialization end of the "innovation ecosystem."

"In all of our subjects — from art, literature, and gender and women's studies to chemistry and optics — we are solving grand challenges in surprising ways," Hart said. "We expect our faculty are innovating to solve problems."

Since the launch of Never Settle, the UA also has seen improvements in research and development:

  • For the current academic year, nearly $588 million in funding from state and federal governments, along with other funding sources, was spent on UA research, with more than 3,200 active research projects.
  • New research awards increased from 834 in 2013 to 931 in 2014.
  • The total funding from new awards is up 53 percent, from $203 million in 2013 to $310 million last year.
  • In 2014, Tech Launch Arizona executed 72 licenses, filed for 167 patents and created 11 startup companies — all increases over 2013.
  • Sponsored research awards for the Arizona Health Sciences Center increased 7 percent, from $103 million to $110 million.

"The results are impressive," said Kimberly Andrews Espy, the UA's senior vice president for research.

"Our bottom-line results are quite clear: Innovation at the University of Arizona has created substantial economic development," Espy said. "The UA's innovation ecosystem is speeding tangible benefits to Arizona."

Optics, space systems, and population and precision health remain among the preeminent research strengths for the UA. 

For example, the recently launched UA Defense and Security Research Institute complements, and is meant to amplify, the state of Arizona's ranking as No. 5 in the nation for defense and security-related industries.

Also, Regents' Professor Hsinchun Chen leads the Cybersecurity Scholarship-for-Service known as AZSecure, one of the largest grants of its kind awarded by the National Science Foundation. The program will train about 40 undergraduate and graduate students in advanced cybersecurity and information assurance for government and industry jobs.

Related to health, UA researchers have received several large grants, including $45 million for brain-focused research to address neurological disorders that affect more than 1 billion people around the world. UA researchers are working on techniques, medication and therapies meant to reduce cardiac arrest, lower instances of cancer and diabetes, and cure valley fever. 

"We are excited about the expansion of our biomedical, clinical and translational research portfolio. Through our community-based research engagement and public-private partnerships, AHSC is on a positive trajectory for increasing research success and impact," said Dr. Joe "Skip" Garcia, senior vice president for health sciences.

Regent Rick Myers said the UA was reporting on achievements that he and others would like to see happen more often at each of the state institutions. 

"This is great, and this is what we need more of. To do more of this, we need more of these bright researchers, and we need space for them to do this work," Myers said.

"If we are going to be this economic engine for the state, and continue to be this solution provider for the state — addressing problems and making it a better place to live — we absolutely need to invest."

Partnerships Lead to Fiscal, Economic Benefits

From an institutional perspective, the UA will continue its investment.

The UA is leveraging new partnerships and expanding fundraising to bring new capabilities and prestige to the University and communities throughout the state.

"We face many challenges: how to feed 10 billion people on our planet, how to harness land and water resources, and how to live disease-free," Espy said. "These challenges cannot be solved by a single discipline or approach. We are focusing on building teams with interdisciplinary grants and bringing people together to create solutions."

One example of an important and new global partnership was established this year. The UA recently signed an agreement to be the preferred higher-education partner for Expo 2020 Dubai.

"The UA will be a major player," Hart said, adding that the University will be engaged in master planning around research, collaborations, infrastructure design and management, among other incentives. 

"I cannot overstate how important it is that we are the university that is partnering with Dubai," Hart said. "This is an example of our core strengths and our responsibilities as a 21st-century super land-grant institution, and our commitment across the globe." 

The UA maintains other robust education and research-based partnerships also with agencies and organizations in Mexico and Latin America and, recently, Cuba. One such example is the establishment of the National Autonomous University of Mexico Center for Mexican Studies at the UA. The center was launched in partnership with the Universidad Nacional Autónoma de México, an influential research institution throughout Latin America.

Additionally, the UA has seen major improvements in donor support, the redesign of institutional budgeting and expanded efficiency measures. Of note:

  • Arizona NOW, the UA's capital campaign, has raised $1.15 billion toward a goal of $1.5 billion, with restricted funds designated specifically for endowed professorships, scholarships, student programs and infrastructure improvements.
  • The merger of the UA Health Network and Banner Health is leading to improved medical services and additional support for medical research and education. The UAHN-Banner merger is expected to be completed on Feb. 27.  
  • The UA has seen $5 million in annual savings through energy and facility improvement.

Gregg Goldman, the UA's senior vice president and chief financial officer, said future progress on Never Settle depends on several assumptions, including increased financial support from the state, continued growth in extramural research funding and private giving, and continued financial oversight for operational efficiencies and savings.

"The decline in state support poses a huge risk to the overall success of our plan," Goldman said. "In the areas under our control, such as competing for research funding and philanthropy, we have delivered."

Editor: dougcarrollByline Affiliation: University Relations - CommunicationsHeader image: YesNo Image: Subheading: In the first progress report to the Arizona Board of Regents on the strategic plan, UA President Ann Weaver Hart highlights major achievements in student success, research and economic development. Include in UANow: yesInclude in Olympic Coverage: noFeature on Olympic Page: noUANow Image: Includes video: 

Classroom of 11,000 Awaits UA Professor

Wed, 02/04/2015 - 11:03

It makes sense to have an astronomy professor teach a class that is expected to be attended by thousands.

No one knows the meaning of "vast" quite like someone who studies outer space, right?

The free, six-week class is "Astronomy: Exploring Time and Space" and the instructor is Chris Impey, a University Distinguished Professor who is no newcomer to online teaching. For the past two years, he has taught "Astronomy: State of the Art," the University of Arizona's first massive open online course, or MOOC. That course, delivered online through video lectures, PowerPoint slides, discussion and live Q&A sessions, has been offered via the training platform Udemy. 

The new class is the University's first with Coursera, an educational technology company that has been partnering with U.S. colleges and universities since its launch three years ago. Impey expects enrollment to hit 11,000 by the time class launches at midnight on Feb. 15.

UANews asked Impey about the class and his preparations.

What has been the biggest challenge in pulling this together? How did you go about it?

It was a long road to get here, not counting creating the course. I first approached Daphne Koller and Andrew Ng at Coursera in April 2012 with the idea of the UA joining the partnership, but they said they were a small company with limited capacity. In January 2013, I got the green light from Koller to start the negotiations and it took nearly two years of to-and-fro with the lawyers and senior administration to get us signed on. When I saw that the deal was going to happen, I started working on my course, shooting video to make a greatly enhanced version of my testbed course on Udemy. Coursera has a far superior data environment to Udemy, so it's much easier to track and motivate student engagement. And many lessons have been learned by their large instructor community.

Who do you think will be attracted to the course?

It's well known that most of Coursera's clientele is older students with bachelor's degrees, rather than 18- or 19-year-old first-time students, so I expect a mature and motivated audience. The word of mouth among amateur astronomers will lead many of them to sign up. Pre-enrollment right now shows that half are outside the U.S., with 150 countries represented. The ability (of MOOCs) to serve worldwide audiences with high-quality content is one of their greatest strengths.

How will you teach to 11,000 students? What do you hope they will take away?

The core material is video lectures and online quizzes. Completing and doing well on the quizzes is required for a completion certificate. I also have three outside projects and three peer-reviewed writing activities that they will do. I'm intrigued to see how peer review of written work by that many students will work! We'll be using live sessions, the course discussion threads and social media — Facebook, Twitter — to keep an active presence in the course. I hope the students take away the extraordinary progress being made in astronomy on a wide spectrum of topics — exoplanets, black holes, star birth, distant galaxies, dark matter — and see how the complexity of the universe is underpinned by a small set of physical laws. 

How will this be different from the Udemy course?

The Coursera course has about 18 hours of video, almost twice as much as used for Udemy. The Udemy class has no quizzes or activities or other assignments, so it is much more basic. I can get much richer data from Coursera and intend to publish research on what aspects of course design facilitate greater engagement and higher completion rates. The Udemy course is continuing and has 23,500 enrolled, so my online total will be approaching 35,000.

What do you see as the benefit to the University?

The benefit to the UA is partnership in a vibrant community of online instructors and peer universities learning important lessons about how to teach online. My course is the first, but there will be others. I view the Coursera experiment as a transition to a fully featured online course that could eventually be taken for a fee, with transferable college credit earned.

Editor: dougcarrollByline Affiliation: University Relations - CommunicationsExtra Info: 

For information about "Astronomy: Exploring Time and Space," the UA's first online course via Coursera, taught by Chris Impey:


For a 2013 UANews story about Impey's first online course:

Header image: YesNo Image: Subheading: Chris Impey will use a variety of online and social-media tools in teaching "Astronomy: Exploring Time and Space," the University's first collaboration with the educational technology company Coursera. The course starts on Feb. 15.Include in UANow: yesInclude in Olympic Coverage: noFeature on Olympic Page: noUANow Image: Includes video: