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UA Students Selected as Mexico City Visiting Scholars

Thu, 03/17/2016 - 1:05pm
University Relations - Communications |Today

Omar Contreras (left) with Celina I. Valencia, Gudelia Rangel and Eduardo Gonzalez-Fagoaga. (Photo courtesy of Celina I. Valencia)

After being selected by the Binational Border Health Thematic Network to serve as visiting scholars in Mexico, University of Arizona graduate students Celina I. Valencia and Omar A. Contreras helped develop best practices for public health policy for the country's southern border with Guatemala.

Now they are helping to inform an initiative involving Mexico and Guatemala that will address health priorities in the region.

Valencia and Contreras, students in the Public Health Policy and Management section at the UA Mel and Enid Zuckerman College of Public Health, utilized Mexico's northern border "Healthy Border 2020" as the framework for policy and practice to effect positive changes to health outcomes.

Contreras and Valencia collaborated with public health researchers from the Secretaria de Salud and El Colegio de la Frontera Norte to develop a strategic framework based on the health priorities for southern Mexico, which included epidemiological surveillance of chronic and infectious diseases and the identification of national and global partnerships for the advancement of positive health outcomes. 

"I am thankful to the Binational Border Health Thematic Network for the opportunity to apply research and international health policy to improve health outcomes among the migrant population in the Guatemala-Mexico border," Contreras said.

The network is an academic network comprised of experts from the 10 border states to improve public health conditions on the U.S.-Mexico border, funded by the National Council of Science and Technology of Mexico, known as CONACYT.

Also working in partnership with Dr. Cecilia Rosales, an assistant dean at the Mel and Enid Zuckerman College of Public Health, as well as others within the college, both helped envision approaches to help reduce health inequities in the region.

To serve as visiting scholars, students are recommended by members of the network; in this case, Rosales and the students were selected based on their skills and contributions to the public health arena. Valencia brings experience in academic research, scientific inquiry and quantitative analysis; Contreras' expertise in epidemiological methods, coalition building, stakeholder engagement and program implementation were well suited for the collaboration.

"We value our strong and continued partnership with Dr. Rosales, and the knowledge that both Celina and Omar brought to the team early in their doctorate careers helped catapult this important and critical work with the southern Mexico border and Guatemala," said Gudelia Rangel of the Secretaria de Salud in Mexico.

Valencia and Contreras will continue their binational collaboration with Mexican and Guatemalan government sectors and nonprofits to implement the strategic framework they developed, and to guide the development of "Healthy Border Sur 2020," which is an initiative between the two countries. The framework will be designed to address health priorities, specifically to reduce the burden of disease in the bordering region.

"The useful insights of the social, economic and structural forces shaping the lived experiences of migrants in the Guatemala/Mexico border region are critical building blocks for useful interventions to effect positive changes to health outcomes," Valencia said.

Additionally, Valencia and Contreras were introduced to various national and global data banks of Mexico and Guatemala for baseline assessments.

HiRISE: 45,000 Mars Orbits and Counting

Wed, 03/16/2016 - 4:48pm
Extra Info: 

Click here for a gallery featuring some of HiRISE's most stunning shots, revealing the surprisingly active face of the Red Planet. 

Ten years ago on March 24, the UA-built camera began taking the most detailed images of the Martian surface to date. Since then, the camera has become the world's eye on Mars, bringing us detailed vistas of landscapes ranging from strangely alien to earthly familiar.

True to its purpose, NASA's Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter, or MRO, the spacecraft that began orbiting Mars a decade ago, has delivered huge advances in knowledge about the Red Planet.

According to NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory, MRO has revealed in unprecedented detail a planet that held diverse wet environments billions of years ago and remains dynamic today. MRO carries, among other instruments, the High Resolution Imaging Science Experiment, or HiRISE, camera, designed and operated by the Lunar and Planetary Lab at the University of Arizona. 

One example of the orbiter's major discoveries was published last year, about the possibility of liquid water being present seasonally on present-day Mars. It drew on three key capabilities researchers gained from this mission: telescopic camera resolution, to find features narrower than a sidewalk; spacecraft longevity, to track seasonal changes over several Martian years; and imaging spectroscopy, to map surface composition.

"Our views of both ancient and modern Mars have changed dramatically in the past decade," says Alfred McEwen, principal investigator of HiRISE. "Now we know that hydrated minerals are common in ancient bedrock, many sand dunes are active, that carbon dioxide frost rather than water is carving gullies, and there is water in other seasonal flows."

Other discoveries have resulted from additional capabilities of the orbiter. These include identifying underground geologic structures, scanning atmospheric layers and observing the entire planet's weather daily. All six of the orbiter's science instruments remain productive in an extended mission more than seven years after completion of the mission's originally planned primary science phase.

The Arrival at Mars

On March 10, 2006, the spacecraft fired its six largest rocket engines for about 27 minutes, slowing it down enough for the gravity of Mars to catch it into orbit. Those engines had been used only once before, for 15 seconds during the first trajectory adjustment in the seven-month flight from Earth to Mars.

For its first three weeks at Mars, the spacecraft flew elongated, 35-hour orbits ranging as far as 27,000 miles from the Red Planet. During the next six months, a process called aerobraking used hundreds of carefully calculated dips into the top of the Martian atmosphere to gradually adjust the size of the orbit. Since September 2006, the craft has been flying nearly circular orbits lasting about two hours, at altitudes from 155 to 196 miles.

The spacecraft's two large solar panels give MRO a wingspan the length of a school bus. That surface area helped with atmospheric drag during aerobraking and still cranks out about 2,000 watts of electricity when the panels face the sun. Generous power enables the spacecraft to transmit a torrent of data through its main antenna, a dish 10 feet in diameter. The total science data sent to Earth from MRO — 264 terabits — is more than all other interplanetary missions combined, past and present.

"The HiRISE team at the UA developed routines to automatically process the raw data into beautiful images, within hours of when the data is returned," McEwen says. 

Lockheed Martin Space Systems of Denver built the spacecraft with the capability to transmit copious data to suit the science goals of revealing Mars in great detail.

For example, the HiRISE camera has returned images that show features as small as a desk anywhere in observations that now have covered about 2.4 percent of the Martian surface, an area equivalent to two Alaskas, with many locations imaged repeatedly. The Context Camera, or CTX, managed by Malin Space Systems of San Diego, has imaged more than 85 percent of Mars, with resolution showing features smaller than a tennis court. The Compact Reconnaissance Imaging Spectrometer, or CRISM, built and operated by Johns Hopkins University Applied Physics Laboratory in Laurel, Maryland, also has imaged nearly 80 percent of the planet in multiple visual-light and infrared wavelengths, providing composition information at scales of 100 to 200 yards per pixel.

Data from MRO has improved knowledge about three distinct periods on Mars. Observations of the oldest surfaces on the planet show that diverse types of watery environments existed, some more favorable for life than others. More recently, water cycled as a gas between polar ice deposits and lower-latitude deposits of ice and snow, generating patterns of layering linked to cyclical changes similar to ice ages on Earth.

Watching Mars Change

Dynamic activity on today's Mars includes impact events, avalanches, dust storms, seasonal freezing and thawing of carbon dioxide sheets, gully formation, sand migration and summertime seeps of brine.

"This mission has helped us appreciate how much Mars — a planet that has changed greatly over time — continues to change today," said MRO project scientist Rich Zurek of JPL in Pasadena, California, which manages the mission.

MRO provides three types of crucial support for rover and stationary lander missions to Mars. Its observations enable careful evaluation of potential landing sites. They also help rover teams choose routes and destinations. Together with NASA's Mars Odyssey, which has been orbiting Mars since 2001, MRO relays data from robots on Mars' surface to NASA Deep Space Network antennas on Earth, multiplying the productivity of the surface missions.

Recently, the mission has begun investigating areas proposed as landing sites for future human missions in NASA's Journey to Mars.

"The Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter remains a powerful asset for studying the Red Planet, with its six instruments all continuing capably a decade after orbit insertion," Zurek said. "All this and the valuable infrastructure support that it provides for other Mars missions, present and future, make MRO a keystone of the current Mars Exploration Program."

Just this week, another orbiter blasted off the Earth, slated to join MRO in orbit around Mars by mid-October: The ExoMars Trace Gas Orbiter, or TGO, a collaboration project of the European Space Agency, or ESA, and Russia's Roscosmos State Space Corporation. The UA's HiRISE team is supporting the Colour and Stereo Surface Imaging System, or CaSSIS, for science planning software development, data processing and science analysis.

NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory contributed to this story.

Category(s): Science and TechnologyMarch 23, 2016University Relations - Communications

UA Campus Pantry Has a New Home

Wed, 03/16/2016 - 10:24am
Extra Info: 

How the pantry works:

  • During distribution events, UA students and employees are asked to arrive at the information desk, located on Level 2 of the Student Union Memorial Center.
  • The next distribution events will be held on April 15, April 29 and May 6 from noon to 3 p.m.
  • Students and employees need only to show a CatCard. No fee is required.
  • Individuals will be escorted to the Campus Pantry to stock up on food staples and fresh produce, while supplies last.
What: UA Campus Pantry Ribbon-CuttingWhen: March 21 at 1 p.m. Where: Student Union Memorial Center, 1303 E. University Blvd.Story Contacts: 

Sara Rohde

Arizona Student Unions

520-441-4425

sararohde@email.edu

Chet Phillips

Associated Students of the University of Arizona

cfp@email.arizona.edu

The Arizona Student Unions has donated space for the student-run, nonprofit Campus Pantry.

From its beginnings in a tiny room in El Portal to cramped quarters off campus in Babcock Hall, the University of Arizona's Campus Pantry now has a designated space in the Student Union Memorial Center, creating new possibilities for improving food security and garnering resources.

Arizona Student Unions executives surprised University of Arizona Campus Pantry co-founder Berkley Harris with a new home — a discreet room in the Student Union. 

The space also is offered rent-free with utilities paid to help University students who are dealing with food insecurity needs.

Last November, Chet Phillips, sustainability coordinator for the Associated Students of the University of Arizona, initiated introductions that would lead to the new space. Thanks to the efforts of Todd Millay, Arizona Student Unions' interim executive director, UA senior executive chef Michael Omo and Kim Celeya, the warehouse supervisor, a large storage room in the Union's lower level was cleared, freshly painted, shelved and stocked with donations in preparation for the surprise reveal to an unaware Harris.

"Arizona Student Unions is proud to partner with UA Campus Pantry to extend its reach, build more synergies and provide strong support to help address food insecurity on our campus," Millay said. "The entire division of Student Affairs is behind this effort and Berkley. We’re proud to simply be a part of this process and help a group who has worked selflessly for years to meet other needs. They are inspiring."

A ribbon-cutting event for the Campus Pantry's new location will be held March 21 at 1 p.m. Harris and Melissa Vito, the UA's senior vice president for Student Affairs and Enrollment Management, are slated to cut the ribbon. Attendees are asked to bring an imperishable item to donate.

"Food insecurity is a reality that more and more of our students experience," said Vito, also vice provost for Academic Initiatives and Student Success.

"Years ago, students initiated a campus pantry. It depended on the generosity of the community to provide food and was only open a few hours a week, with no cold food options," Vito said. "As I met with student leadership this year, I realized that this is a growing issue for our students and one that we needed to do more to address. I met with our Student Union leadership, who immediately and enthusiastically engaged to help create a more permanent, more fully stocked, centrally located place on campus. We are thrilled to take this huge step forward in addressing food insecurity on our campus through the UA Campus Pantry."

Campus Pantry, a nonprofit that was chartered in 2012, anticipates expanding services in its new location as funding is granted through the UA Green Fund, the Graduate and Professional Student Council and also donations from the campus community and local food retailers. Arizona Student Unions suppliers, the Whole Foods location on East River Road and Time Market have pledged continuing support with fresh produce contributions.

Harris said that while she has been working with the Arizona Student Unions for months and knew plans existed to support the pantry, she did not know the extent of that support.

"I didn't realize how dedicated they were to supporting our efforts. Needless to say, I was extremely surprised by the generosity of the new space and donations from the Union," said Harris, who is studying public health and also public management and policy.

"The UA Campus Pantry couldn't be more grateful for this new space and support. It means a lot to the future of our nonprofit, but more importantly it means a lot to the students and staff who rely on our services. I cannot wait to see how this new space helps the pantry grow and serve more of the Wildcat community."

Category(s): Campus NewsSara RohdeMarch 16, 2016Arizona Student Unions

UA Tops $606 Million in Research Activity

Tue, 03/15/2016 - 4:09pm
Story Contacts: 

Lucio Guerrero

UA Office for Research & Discovery

520-621-2336

luciog@email.arizona.edu

The University, ranked as one of the nation's top 20 public research universities by the National Science Foundation, also saw an increase in individual faculty research activity.

The University of Arizona's research activity topped $606 million for fiscal year 2015, surpassing the previous year's total by nearly $20 million.
 
"This increase in the UA's research expenditures demonstrates that our strategies to expand research and innovation at the University are working," said UA President Ann Weaver Hart. "I am constantly inspired by the ingenuity and dedication of the faculty and staff who drive the UA's research output, particularly for their ability to do so at such a high level of quality and intensity despite historic challenges in securing funding.
 
"With this wonderful news, I am confident that the UA will continue to support Arizona's innovation economy and provide a world-class educational experience rooted in outstanding research and scholarship."
 
Along with the increase in total research activity, UA faculty also saw an increase individually. In FY2015, faculty averaged $388,000 each in research activity.
 
"Increasing research activity really is a collective effort — starting with researchers who submit winning grants to students and staff who do so much of the research at our facilities," said Kimberly Andrews Espy, UA senior vice president for research. "This increase means we will continue to be one of the state's premier research partners for industry and government, while also creating a wonderful research experience for our students that will prepare them for their future careers."
 
Ranked by the National Science Foundation as one of the nation's top 20 public research universities, the UA has maintained its status with a dynamic strategic plan, Never Settle, emphasizing growth and development.
 
In November 2015, the Arizona Board of Regents reviewed and approved UA's performance-based benchmarks for 2025, one of which is to reach three-quarters of a billion dollars in research expenditures in the next decade.
 
Among the largest awards in FY2015:

  • $5.6 million for research in finding similar planets to Earth (NASA)
  • $3.8 million for identifying non-pharmacologic methods for enhancing sleep in PTSD (U.S. Army Medical Research Acquisition Activity)
  • $3.1 million for a study of biomarkers in ovarian cancer (National Cancer Institute)
Category(s): Campus NewsScience and TechnologyMarch 15, 2016UA Office for Research & Discovery

How Far Will the Wildcats Go? Try 2,600 Miles

Tue, 03/15/2016 - 2:51pm
What: UA men's basketball in NCAA TournamentWhen: 6:20 p.m. MST Thursday; telecast on TNT Where: Providence, Rhode IslandThe UA's first-round game in the NCAA Tournament is about as far from the friendly confines of McKale Center as it can get. It's a 39-hour drive from Tucson to Providence, Rhode Island.

Can the University of Arizona men's basketball team go the distance in the NCAA Tournament?

In one sense, the Wildcats already have. Their first-round game Thursday night in Providence, Rhode Island, is the farthest anyone can remember them traveling in the tournament — about 2,600 miles one way.

For fans, that's quite a difference from first-round games in Portland, Oregon, last year and San Diego in 2014. Round-trip commercial flights to Providence this week were going for more than $1,000.

"It becomes cost-prohibitive for people," acknowledges Ryan Hansen, vice president and chief operating officer for Tucson's Bon Voyage Travel, which has handled travel packages for UA fans for 30 years. 

Hansen, a UA alumnus, has been with the agency for almost five years after working in a variety of capacities for Arizona Athletics. He also is a radio commentator for Wildcats basketball, and he was just as in-the-dark as the team and its followers before the tournament's pairings were made official on Sunday afternoon.

"I was down at McKale Center with the (coaching) staff, waiting for our name to pop up," he says. "Then the fire drill started."

The announcement that the Wildcats were headed east as the No. 6 seed in South Region touched off a frantic 36 hours of preparations for Bon Voyage. With the UA allotted less than 500 tickets for Thursday's game, those wearing red and blue in the 12,400-seat Dunkin' Donuts Center probably will consist of well-heeled donors and Northeastern alumni. Wildcats senior Kaleb Tarczewski is from Claremont, New Hampshire, and at 160 miles that qualifies as nearby.

The Wildcats, who departed on Tuesday, have made it past the first weekend in their last five NCAA appearances. Louisville, Kentucky, will be their destination on March 24 if they do so again. In Providence, they will need to defeat the winner of the Vanderbilt-Wichita State play-in game and then the winner of the Miami (Fla.)-Buffalo game.

Hansen says UA fans have taken a wait-and-see approach to air travel in recent years when postseason play rolls around. The Pac-12 Conference tournament was in Los Angeles before moving to Las Vegas in 2013 — both driveable locations. The last two West Region finals were in Southern California — ditto. And the team has made the Sweet Sixteen or Elite Eight so many times over the years that fans seem to be holding out for a trip to the Final Four, which the Wildcats haven't reached since 2001.

"We had two charter planes full (with reservations) before the Wisconsin game last year," Hansen says.

Alas, the UA's 85-78 loss to the Badgers in the West Region final in Los Angeles, with a Final Four berth at stake, kept the team and its fans at home.

Travel snafus incurred by the team and its entourage can be overrated, according to Hansen. In 1997, the Wildcats arrived in Birmingham, Alabama, about eight hours late after their charter plane had been delayed in Canada. They still defeated No. 1-ranked Kansas, 85-82.

"It was a setup for us to lose," Hansen says, "and yet that was possibly our biggest win in history. The stars weren't aligned, but sometimes it's what happens between the lines (on the court)."

Longtime UA fans know what happened after that: The team, which lost nine games that season — one more than this year's team — went on to defeat Providence, North Carolina and Kentucky and win the national championship.

Category(s): SportsMarch 15, 2016University Relations – Communications

Open Access Causes Disruption of Status Quo

Mon, 03/14/2016 - 8:50am
With each bringing a unique perspective, four open-access proponents address a contentious subject affecting scholarly publications.

Open access, or OA, journals — scholarly publications that are made available to all, free of charge and with unrestricted use — have shifted the paradigm when it comes to research.

Before the advent of the Internet, there was just one way to publish research, and that was through scholarly journals that charge a subscription fee to readers. Many, such as Nature and Science, still operate this way today.

These days, with more than 10,000 open-access journals in operation, it is becoming increasingly common to publish research this way. But even so, the OA movement remains contentious in academia, and it continues to evolve.

"There is no free lunch in life." –Nirav Merchant

Albrecht Classen, Distinguished Professor of German Studies at the University of Arizona, serves as the editor-in-chief for Humanities, an open-access journal established in 2012.

While many OA journals avoid charging their readership by instead charging researchers for publication, Humanities is free for readers and offers free publication for researchers, who must first have their papers approved through its "extremely intensive, rigorous" peer-review process. Peer review is the process by which researchers working in the same field evaluate one another’s work.

"If I pay for my research to be published, I feel I am compromising my scholarly standards," Classen says. "In this model, everyone who is a researcher can freely develop ideas, without financial constraint."

Classen is a purist in this regard. He once agreed to serve on the editorial board of an Italian journal to skirt its $130 publishing fee for one of his research articles, "on principle."

But Humanities faces financial trouble and is in danger of having to revert to the traditional paywall model of closed-access journals. Classen and fellow editors recently wrote a proposal for a sizable grant that could sustain Humanities, and they are waiting on a response.

"I have a different point of view," says Nirav Merchant, director of the UA's Arizona Research Laboratories. Merchant is also the principal investigator behind CyVerse, a National Science Foundation-funded data management platform. "The reality is, you have to pay the bills. There is no free lunch in life. Nothing is zero cost."

Merchant has published his own research in PLOS ONE, a peer-reviewed, open-access scientific journal with some 85 new articles published daily. To publish in PLOS ONE, researchers pay about $1,500 per article in "article processing charges," or APCs.

Richard Amini, assistant professor of emergency medicine at UA, says, "Funding really is the biggest challenge with open access. Some institutions pay their physicians to publish as an incentive, and some institutions pay for any open-access publications. Previously at the UA, we had neither."

Now, UA Libraries has an open-access publishing fund, which Amini has utilized, calling it "very helpful."

While Classen is dubious of the pay-to-publish structure, Merchant defends its integrity, saying, "It's peer-reviewed, and researchers don't pay for the peer review. Only after being accepted, you pay for publication."

Shane Burgess, dean of the UA's College of Agriculture and Life Sciences and editor of the open-access journal BMC Genomics, agrees.

"I have reviewed and edited for open- and closed-access journals," Burgess says, "and I have experienced not a single difference in the rigor of the peer-review process. There is absolutely no difference between the quality of the work that is published."

"Citations are king right now." –Richard Amini

Aside from finances, the quality of the work is another point of contention for researchers in today's publishing environment.

Asked why he believes open-access journals are viewed negatively by some, Classen conjures a hypothetical scenario in which a faculty member up for tenure publishes high volumes of low-quality research in open-access journals simply to demonstrate to the committee that he or she is prolific.

Classen does not believe this is reason enough to reject the OA movement.

Burgess calls the hypothetical scenario "flat-out impossible," adding that "it's a myth that open-access journals are easy to get into."

In fact, Burgess believes some faculty actively avoid publishing in OA journals in the belief that a tenure committee might frown upon it. But as someone who sits on such committees, he does not.

Meanwhile, Amini isn't even sure that it's all about quantity of publications anymore: "We're in an era in research publication where citation of your manuscripts is almost more important than publication numbers. It's not so much about the volume. It's more about the quality, and quality is being measured by how often your work is cited. Citations are king right now.

"If someone is trying to download my manuscript and it is free versus 20-plus dollars, my open-access manuscript will be more likely to be cited," Amini concludes.

At the same time, scholarly journals are assigned impact factors — another contentious subject in the world of academia. An impact factor is supposed to measure a given journal's relative importance in its field — although many call it a poor measure — and it is calculated based on the average number of citations received per paper published in the journal during the two previous years.

"Because of the way the open-access journals work, it's very hard for them to get as high an impact factor as some of the closed-access journals," Burgess says. In some fields, including biology and bioinformatics, OA journals have some of the highest impact factors, but today this is the exception to the rule.

In 2014, Nature, a closed-access journal, had an impact factor above 40. PLOS ONE’s hovers just above 3.

"I'd like to see the creative disruption that this is making move to creative destruction of the old way." –Shane Burgess

Classen, Merchant, Amini and Burgess all agree on one thing: Regardless of whether the academic community at large is ready to give OA journals the level of legitimacy each believes they deserve, disruption of business as usual is a good thing for research.

"For most people, open access means you have free access to the publication. To me, that's a very small piece of the bigger picture. Being able to reproduce results is where the real strength of open access is," says Merchant, adding that platforms such as CyVerse will be integral in making this happen. CyVerse does this by publishing OA data and computations.

There are a number of more broad benefits to OA journals, Burgess says: "Anybody in any country can access these papers at any time. A second benefit is that, (by moving toward OA), we can save students money, and we would do that by spending less of the university's budget on subscriptions to journals. A third benefit is that, currently, all journals rely primarily on the free labor of faculty to do peer reviewing. This way, everybody who is doing the work gets to see all of the work, and can maintain the rights to their intellectual property."

Closed-access journals often gain the rights to the content in a research article when they publish it. With OA publishing, there are ways to protect intellectual property, including "libre OA," wherein authors have usage rights that are maintained under creative commons licenses.

"We have an obligation to share our knowledge." –Albrecht Classen

Ultimately, perhaps more than anything else, OA proponents at the UA argue that making their research openly accessible does a service not only to the research community, but to the public.

"Open access publishing paves the way for researchers to collaborate effectively, while maximizing accessibility of their work and furthering discoveries in the ever-evolving research environment,” says Kimberly Andrews Espy, senior vice president for research at the UA. “These types of open access portals give UA researchers a wider audience and exposure."

Says Classen: "Open access is exactly what scholarship should be about. Our research should be made available to the public. We have an obligation to share our knowledge."

Category(s): Campus NewsEmily LitvackMarch 14, 2016UA Office for Research & Discovery

Report: Science Can Estimate Climate Change's Role

Fri, 03/11/2016 - 4:22pm
Story Contacts: 

Kathy Jacobs

UA Institute of the Environment

520-405-7395

jacobsk@email.arizona.edu

Stephanie Doster

UA Institute of the Environment

520-626-3451

scdoster@email.arizona.edu

A committee of climate experts that includes the UA's Kathy Jacobs says that it is possible to attribute changes in the frequency or severity of some extreme weather events to climate change.

A National Academies of Sciences committee that includes a University of Arizona professor has produced a report tackling the commonly asked question: Did human-induced climate change cause a specific flood, drought or other extreme-weather event?

"While a definitive answer to whether climate change caused a particular event cannot usually be provided because natural variability almost always plays a role, it is now possible to assess whether human-caused climate change has influenced the intensity or frequency of some types of extreme weather events," said Kathy Jacobs, director of the UA’s Center for Climate Adaptation Science and Solutions at the Institute of the Environment.

"So a better way to ask this question is: To what extent was the event intensified or weakened because of climate change?" said Jacobs, who led the third National Climate Assessment and is also a professor in the Department of Soil, Water and Environmental Science.

The National Academies Committee released the report, "Attribution of Extreme Weather Events in the Context of Climate Change," on Friday. The report evaluates the rapidly growing science of event attribution, examining the degree to which extreme events such as heat waves, droughts, cyclones and extreme precipitation can be linked to human-caused climate change.

Recently developed scientific methods allow for estimation of how the intensity, duration or frequency of an event has been altered by climate change and provide information that can be used to assess and manage risk, guide climate adaptation strategies, and determine greenhouse gas emissions targets, according to the report.

The most dependable attribution findings are for those events related to an aspect of temperature, for which there is little doubt that human activity has caused an observed change in the long-term trend.

"We are more confident that extreme events related to temperature are influenced by climate change than other types of extremes," Jacobs said. "This has implications for the Southwest because temperature has a direct relationship to impacts on river flows and soil moisture. The relationship between anthropogenic climate change and some extreme droughts is an important conclusion for this region and the people who live here."

Because increasing concentrations of greenhouse gases are affecting the entire planet's climate system, scientists cannot rule out some influence of climate change on any individual extreme event, Jacobs said. But each event has a variety of possible natural and human-related causes.

Attributing extreme events in the context of climate change can be approached from different scientific perspectives, Jacobs said. One approach is a statistical analysis of the likelihood of such events occurring in the absence of climate change, based on our understanding of the frequency and intensity of such events in the past. Another way to evaluate the human footprint on extreme events is to use models to study the physics of individual events and compare them to previous analogous events.

"We have the greatest confidence in attributions that are based on sound physical principles, a good long-term observation record, and when computer models can accurately reproduce the extreme event," said committee chair Adm. David W. Titley, a professor of practice in meteorology at Pennsylvania State University. Titley also works with the UA in a project funded by the U.S. Department of Defense to identify climate-related impacts on and adaptation options for military installations.

Until recently, scientists were reluctant to link climate change to any single weather event. But their understanding of climate and the forces that drive extreme events has improved, and methods used in event attribution have advanced, Jacobs said. Still, the committee wrote, more research is required to increase the reliability of event attribution, ensure that results are presented clearly, and better understand smaller-scale and shorter-duration weather extremes such as hurricanes and thunderstorms.

Concerns about the increasing costs of extreme events has spurred strong public interest in understanding the underlying causes of the events.

"Event attribution is important because of its relationship to managing risk," Jacobs said. "Human behavior can either exacerbate or mitigate the impacts of extreme events, and that is why understanding the social and ethical issues, as well as the science, of extreme events is such an important research need."

Category(s): Science and TechnologyStephanie DosterMarch 11, 2016UA Institute of the Environment

UA's Space Expertise Seen as Key for US Security

Thu, 03/10/2016 - 4:06pm
Story Contacts: 

Lucio Guerrero

UA Office for Research & Discovery

520-621-2336

luciog@email.arizona.edu

A new UA research initiative in space object behavioral sciences, headed by Moriba Jah, is regarded as vital to a deeper understanding of global issues.

With its recently launched research initiative focused on space object behavioral sciences, the University of Arizona is uniquely positioned at the forefront of a field that has implications for national security.

"We can't look at space as a peaceful sanctuary any longer," said Air Force Maj. Gen. Roger Teague, who spoke Thursday on the UA campus after a panel discussion moderated by U.S. Rep. Martha McSally (R-Ariz.), a retired Air Force colonel who serves on the House Committee on Homeland Security.

"Space is becoming increasingly congested and contested," Teague said. "We need a good understanding of our operational environment in order to ensure our way of life."

The 90-minute panel discussion included Moriba Jah of the UA, Mica Endsley of Situational Awareness Technologies, Susan Lederer of NASA, Michael Bartone of Intelligence Advanced Research Projects Activity and Travis Blake of Lockheed Martin Corp. All brought extensive knowledge of space object behavioral sciences, or SOBS, and perspective on where the nascent field appears to be headed.

Jah, an aerospace engineer and astrodynamicist who has been a spacecraft navigator for NASA missions to Mars, is the newly appointed director of the UA initiative, which was announced in January and is part of the University's Defense and Security Research Institute. SOBS is the examination of objects in space, and it includes locating satellites, studying the movement of objects and managing space traffic.

"More and more nations are getting involved in space these days," Jah said, mentioning Nigeria and Venezuela as two of the newer players. "Many do not have the capabilities of the United States. There's an educational component that's missing, like having a driver's license without driver education."

Jah said "a whole different physics is required for this," adding that he expects the U.S. and research-driven institutions such as the UA to take the lead in SOBS. However, he cautioned against a one-size-fits-all mindset.

"People all over the world don't behave the same way," he said, "so why would we expect behavior in space to be uniform? There are cultural and societal influences. We can do ourselves a great favor by understanding this."

The panel said agreed-upon "rules of the road" are needed in SOBS and said the Inter-Agency Space Debris Coordination Committee, whose 14 member agencies include NASA, is a start. But not all information is meant to be shared, even in a cooperative global environment.

"It's not that we're going to give away our national security secrets," Blake said. "But we have to find a way to walk into the new age of space exploration. The discussions are happening, and that's the first step."

Blake said much can be learned from the maritime domain, which also went through a phase of sporadic data and limited tracking ability. He said the space domain has lagged because of its sheer distance from Earth — "It's out there and we can't see it," he said — but added that this is changing rapidly because of technology and the advancement of commercialization.

Lederer noted that one spacecraft impacted by an object the size of a grapefruit can yield thousands of pieces of debris.

"You have to have a feel for what you're looking at," she said. "In our office, the goal is to understand the population of orbital debris."

Teague, an Arizona native, said space power is at the heart of every U.S. military operation and that the UA's recognized expertise in space sciences never has been more important. 

"Space security requires significant research and development," he said, "and that's why (the military) will continue to reach out to our national laboratories and to academia.

"The new research headed up by Dr. Jah is exactly the type of support we need. It's a team game. There is no shortage of issues, and (space is) valuable real estate."

Category(s): Science and TechnologyDoug CarrollMarch 10, 2016University Relations – Communications

Science City: State's Largest's STEM Event

Tue, 03/08/2016 - 6:22pm
Extra Info: 

To plan your Science City experience and for up-to-date information on all tours, talks and activities, visit Science City online at www.sciencecity.arizona.edu and follow on Twitter and Facebook @TFOBScienceCity. Festival admission and Science City open houses/tours are free to the public.

What: Science CityWhen: Saturday and Sunday, March 12 and 13Where: Tucson Festival of Books, UA MallStory Contacts: 

Lisa Romero

BIO5 Institute

520-626-9598

lisaromero@bio5.org

Hosted by the UA's BIO5 Institute, the College of Science, and the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences, it gives visitors to the Tucson Festival of Books the opportunity to learn about research and experience innovation.

Compelling, educational activities are planned for Science City on Saturday and Sunday at the annual Tucson Festival of Books on the University of Arizona campus.

The UA’s BIO5 Institute and College of Science are hosting Science City in association with the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences, in partnership with the Arizona SciTech Festival and with the continued support of other community and business sponsors.

Science City’s themed "neighborhoods" include the Science of Everyday Life, the Science of the Natural World, the Science of Tomorrow, the Science of Food, the Science of You, and this year’s new addition: the Science in Art. In these neighborhoods, more than 90 participant groups will showcase interactive demonstrations and engaging hands-on activities, by which science enthusiasts can learn about advancements in STEM-related fields.

Faculty, students, staff and volunteers from UA programs such as Biosphere 2; the Lunar and Planetary Laboratory; the Museum of Art; the School of Mind, Brain and Behavior; the Health Sciences Center; and Agricultural and Biosystems Engineering will share their passion for science, technology and innovation.

Additionally, representatives from physics, ecology and evolutionary biology, and the Richard F. Caris Mirror Lab will open their doors to the public in an open-house format.

Science City visitors will be able to:

  • Watch photography develop before their eyes, courtesy of the Center for Creative Photography.
  • Explore the wave and vibration patterns of musical instruments, as demonstrated by the UA Mathematics Roadshow.
  • Discover how spin creates stable motion through the use of drones, choppers and gyroscopes with the UA physics department.

  • Witness a volcano eruption, staged by the UA Department of Geosciences.
  • Learn about Tucson’s venomous creatures and get a temporary scorpion tattoo at the UA VIPER Institute booth.
  • Play computer games to understand how scientists apply computers to farming and medicine alongside the School of Animal and Comparative Biomedical Science.
  • Build a paper rocket and launch it with help from UA 4-H and Raytheon.
  • See desert creatures at the Arizona-Sonora Desert Museum live animal show.

In addition, UA researchers will share their work with interactive presentations on the Science Café stage, and renowned science authors will talk about their books and trending science topics on the Science Stage. Some of the highlights:

  • "Science Careers: Finding Your Niche in Nature," with speakers Mary Kay Carson, Kevin Bonine and Alaina Levine. 
  • "The Greatest Movie Ever Made: The Large Synoptic Survey Telescope," with speaker Steven Kahn.
  • "The Science of Shakespeare: A New Look at the Playwright’s Universe," with speakers Don Falk and Chris Impey.
  • "The Augmented Human: How Technology is Changing What Makes Us ... Us," with speaker Dr. David G. Armstrong.
Category(s): Teaching and StudentsMarch 8, 2016University Relations – Communications

Colorado River Flows Reduced by Warmer Spring Temps

Tue, 03/08/2016 - 5:11pm
Extra Info: 

Related websites:

Connie Woodhouse

http://geography.arizona.edu/user/connie-woodhouse

UA School of Geography and Development

http://geography.arizona.edu/

UA Laboratory of Tree-Ring Research

http://ltrr.arizona.edu/

Story Contacts: 

Researcher contact:

Connie Woodhouse

UA School of Geography and Development

520-626-0235

conniew1@email.arizona.edu

Media contact:

Mari N. Jensen

UA College of Science

520-626-9635

mnjensen@email.arizona.edu

A UA-led study, the first to examine the instrumental historical record, discovers that temperature has played a larger role in stream flow and in exacerbating drought since the 1980s.

Warmer-than-average spring temperatures reduce upper Colorado River flows more than previously recognized, according to a new report from a University of Arizona-led team.

Although climate models have suggested that spring temperatures affect stream flow, this study is the first to examine the instrumental historical record to see if a temperature effect could be detected, said lead author Connie Woodhouse, a UA professor of geography and development and of dendrochronology.

"Forecasts of stream flow are largely based on precipitation," Woodhouse said. "What we’re seeing since the 1980s is that temperature plays a larger role in stream flow and in exacerbating drought."

The bulk of stream flow in the upper Colorado comes from snowpack. However, temperatures during the "runoff season" of March-July can have a significant impact on the amount of water that ends up in the river, the researchers found. The team studied the records of temperature, cool-season precipitation and stream flow for the years 1906 to 2012.

"In certain years temperature became a very strong influence. It was a bit of a surprise," Woodhouse said. "If we have a warmer spring, we anticipate that the river flows will be less relative to the amount of snowpack." 

Seven Western states and Mexico use water from the Colorado River for agriculture and for cities. Major U.S. cities that use Colorado River water include Denver, Albuquerque, Salt Lake City, Phoenix, Tucson, Las Vegas, Los Angeles and San Diego.

The team’s paper, "Increasing Influence of Air Temperature on Upper Colorado River Streamflow," is scheduled for online publication in Geophysical Research Letters today at http://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1002/2015GL067613/full.

Woodhouse’s co-authors are Gregory Pederson of the U.S. Geological Survey in Bozeman, Montana; Kiyomi Morino of the UA Laboratory of Tree-Ring Research; Stephanie McAfee of the University of Nevada, Reno; and Gregory McCabe of the USGS in Denver. The U.S. Department of the Interior’s Southwest Climate Science Center funded the research.

From her previous work with water managers in the region, Woodhouse knows they are interested in how temperature affects stream flow in the Colorado River.

She and her colleagues wanted to determine how Upper Colorado River Basin winter precipitation, March-July temperatures and November soil moisture levels influence annual streamflow at Lees Ferry, Arizona.

For each year from 1906 to 2012, the U.S. Bureau of Reclamation estimates natural upper Colorado River flow based on data recorded from streamgages at Lees Ferry. At that location, Colorado River streamflow reflects water that has drained from the upper basin, which includes Colorado, Wyoming, Utah and New Mexico.

Using the streamflow data, the researchers identified six droughts that occurred in the Upper Colorado River Basin from 1906 to 2012. A drought was defined by consecutive years with below-average streamflow punctuated by no more than one year of normal or above-average flow.

The drought periods were: 1931-1940, 1950-1956, 1959-1969, 1972-1977, 1988-1996 and 2000-2012.

For average winter precipitation and March-July temperatures for the Upper Colorado River Basin, the research team turned to a database that provides climatological data at very high spatial resolution for locations all over the U.S. The database goes back more than 100 years.

Soil moisture records don’t exist very back far into the 20th century. Therefore, the team used a hydrologic model, which is based on modern observations, to generate annual averages for November soil moisture going back to 1906.

The team found November soil moisture had only a small effect on streamflow.

The researchers found that winter precipitation and average runoff-season temperatures varied from drought to drought.

"The 1950s was the driest period, but also the coolest," Woodhouse said. "In contrast, the most recent drought of 2000 to 2012 was the warmest, but only moderately dry."

If the temperatures during the runoff season — March to July — were cooler than average, streamflow was higher than expected on the basis of winter precipitation alone, the team found. However, when runoff-season temperatures were above average, streamflow was less than expected on the basis of winter precipitation. 

During and since the 1980s, average Upper Colorado River Basin temperatures during the runoff season have been increasing.

"If we have a warmer spring, we can anticipate that the flows will be less relative to the amount of snowpack," Woodhouse said. "What we’re seeing is not just the future — it’s actually now. That’s not something I say lightly."

For at least the past decade, climate models have indicated that warming temperatures have an increasing effect in modulating streamflow, she said. The team’s findings, which are based on real, observed data, mirror the predictions of the climate models.

Category(s): Science and TechnologyMari N. JensenMarch 9, 2016UA College of Science

2 UA Researchers Named Sloan Fellows

Tue, 03/08/2016 - 3:02pm
Extra Info: 

Fellowships are awarded in eight scientific and technical fields: chemistry, computer science, economics, mathematics, evolutionary and computational molecular biology, neuroscience, ocean sciences, and physics. To qualify, candidates must first be nominated by fellow scientists and subsequently selected by an independent panel of senior scholars on the basis of a candidate’s independent research accomplishments, creativity and potential to become a leader in his or her field.

Since the beginning of the program in 1955, 43 Sloan Fellows have earned Nobel Prizes, 16 have won the Fields Medal in mathematics, 68 have received the National Medal of Science, and 15 have won the John Bates Clark Medal in economics.

The complete list of this year's winners is available online

Story Contacts: 

UA Office for Research & Discovery

520-621-3513

Two UA faculty members are among 126 researchers selected from across the U.S. and Canada, the Alfred P. Sloan Foundation announced recently.

University of Arizona faculty members Matthias Morzfeld and Eduardo Rozo are among the 126 researchers awarded 2016 Sloan Research Fellowships, awards granted to distinguished early-career researchers. They are the first Sloan Foundation winners at the UA since 2011, and this is the first time that two UA faculty have been awarded the prize in the same year since 2002.

The fellowships are awarded annually in recognition of individuals who maintain distinguished performance and have the potential to make substantial contributions to their respective fields. 

"Getting early-career support can be a make-or-break moment for a young scholar," said Paul L. Joskow, president of the Alfred P. Sloan Foundation. "In an increasingly competitive academic environment, it can be difficult to stand out, even when your work is first rate. The Sloan Research Fellowships have become an unmistakable marker of quality among researchers. Fellows represent the best of the best among young scientists."

The fellowships come with $55,000 over the course of two years, to be used to further the research of each recipient.

"I am honored to receive this award," said Morzfeld, an assistant professor of mathematics. "I believe that receiving a Sloan Research Fellowship makes my work and results visible to a broad group of scientists, and the associated research money is a great help to pursue my immediate research goals."

Morzfeld's research focuses on applied and computational mathematics. He regularly collaborates with colleagues in atmospheric sciences and geophysics, and is currently working to develop new algorithms for more accurate weather forecasting.

Rozo, an assistant professor of physics and experimental cosmologist, is interested in the origin and evolution of the universe. In particular, he studies dark energy, the little-understood substance that drives the accelerated expansion of the universe.

"I am delighted and humbled to see that people in my field have found my contributions to our collective enterprise worth recognizing," Rozo said, "and I look forward to the opportunity to continue working toward unraveling the mystery of the dark energy."

"What a great accomplishment for both of these researchers," said Kimberly Andrews Espy, the UA's senior vice president for research. "Being named a Sloan winner is a testament to the great work they are doing and the quality of UA’s research faculty. I congratulate both Matthias and Eduardo for this excellent recognition."

Category(s): Science and TechnologyMarch 8, 2016UA Office for Research & Discovery

Behind the Scenes at the Center for Creative Photography

Mon, 03/07/2016 - 5:05pm
Conservators such as Jae Gutierrez treat UA photos with tender loving care, making sure the materials will be available to future generations.

An unframed, black-and-white photograph of Jae Gutierrez is tacked up on the wall behind her desk. A colleague snapped it a couple of years back. 

Gutierrez herself isn't prone to shooting photos, but when she does, she says they're mostly of family. She is more interested in preserving them. Gutierrez is the Arthur J. Bell Senior Photograph Conservator at the University of Arizona's Center for Creative Photography.

"As a conservator, it's my responsibility to preserve photographic materials and ensure they're available for future generations to learn from — be it through exhibitions or for researchers or for UA classes that are coming here for print viewings," Gutierrez says.

"Ideally, preservation is about how we provide the right environment, the right handling guidelines and the right display guidelines to ensure that photographs are accessible but not damaged during access."

The center's photographic collection is vast, numbering over 90,000 fine prints and approximately 5 million archival objects. Photographs by Ansel Adams, Lola Alvarez Bravo, Imogen Cunningham, Louise Dahl-Wolfe, Barry Goldwater, Aaron Siskind, Garry Winogrand and Mildred Mead make up only a tiny fraction of the collection.

So, conservation is essential.

Conservators typically specialize in preserving a specific kind of object: paintings, furniture, books, textiles, sculpture, electronic media and, of course, photographs.

"What conservators do is get to know the materials in their discipline to understand how those materials might age and change over time, and if they're damaged, we might be able to repair them," Gutierrez says.

That's why when it comes to preserving photographs, Gutierrez is especially interested in plastics. Plastics have been used throughout the history of photography. Some are used to support photographic images, some are used to mount photographs on, and others are used to hold photographic images.

In fact, back in the 19th century, union cases — cases molded from sawdust, shellac and dye, and formed under high heat and pressure — allowed people to hold, display or carry with them a daguerreotype, the earliest photographic process.

"Union cases provided a way to protect these very fragile images that were easily scratched and abraded and easily tarnished by pollutants in the atmosphere," Gutierrez says. "Cases provided an early preservation technique that created a microenvironment to keep these photographs safe."

However, the type of photographic plastic with which people probably are most familiar is the film used for negatives, Gutierrez says. The earliest film used to support photographic images is a plastic known as cellulose nitrate. Cellulose nitrate deteriorates over time and is very flammable, which is why film manufacturers switched from producing cellulose nitrate to cellulose acetate in the mid-20th century.

Gutierrez says for some photographic negatives, the only way to preserve them is to put them in a cool, dry dark environment, where deterioration is slower compared with what would occur at room temperature.

"Ideally for film-based collections, you would have a freezer," Gutierrez says, and that is what the center has.

"We have a walk-in freezer that’s kept at 22 degrees Fahrenheit and 40 percent relative humidity," she says. "It's really important that you not only control the temperature but you control the humidity, because it's temperature and humidity that will drive these deterioration processes. Every 5 to 10 degrees that you can reduce your storage environment temperature, you expand the lifetime of your film-based materials."    

Lately, the use of transparent acrylic supports has been on the rise to create face-mounted photographs. Face-mounted photographs, often large, are photographs in which the image side of a photographic print is permanently adhered overall to an acrylic sheet.

"As conservators, we have to care for that plastic surface," Gutierrez says.

Photograph conservators must become knowledgeable not only about the photographic image but about the kinds of acrylics and adhesives used to affix photographs to acrylic surfaces in case repair or restoration is needed.

As a matter of fact, working with acrylic, flexible films, resin-coated papers and other photographic plastics will be discussed March 16 and 17 during the "Plastics Associated With Photographic Materials" symposium on the UA campus. The symposium is hosted and organized by the center's conservation department in collaboration with the Foundation of the American Institute for Conservation of Historic and Artistic Works. Conservators, conservation scientists and members of the UA community will be in attendance. There is a special registration rate of $50 for UA affiliates. 

"Conservation is important because the field's goal is to preserve cultural heritage," Gutierrez says. "Photographs tell us about time, history and events and allow us to understand our history, others' history and each other better."

Category(s): Arts and HumanitiesRobin TricolesMarch 7, 2016University Relations - Communications

UA Computer Scientists Push for Code Sharing

Mon, 03/07/2016 - 4:31pm
Code that supports computer systems research does not always accompany its publication, which can keep others from repeating the experiment — a cornerstone of the scientific process.

There are no Erlenmeyer flasks in Christian Collberg’s lab, nor Bunsen burners or centrifuges. But there is a laptop computer, the hardware that makes the research of Collberg and University of Arizona colleague Todd Proebsting possible.

By contrast, what makes their research impossible is this: fellow scientists who are unwilling or unable to share their source code and data. Sharing that information allows computer scientists to repeat others’ experiments, an idea analogous to keeping log books in the wet sciences, such as biology.

After all, reproducibility is a cornerstone of the scientific process, and in essence it allows researchers to gain confidence in others’ work. What's more, sharing research artifacts allows researchers to build on others’ work to avoid needless replication of research and to advance science, a process known as benefaction.

After being unable to obtain code and data from a group of researchers, Collberg and Proebsting, both UA professors of computer science, wanted to learn more about how and when computer systems researchers share — or don’t share — their code and data. So the two launched a study to find out.

Collberg, Proebsting and an array of undergraduate and graduate students examined 601 peer-reviewed papers from the Association for Computing Machinery conferences and journals. They tried to locate each of the papers’ source code through the peer-reviewed paper, through Web searches, through source-code repositories or through author queries.

The researchers then looked at something they termed "weak repeatability rate" — that is, whether authors made available buildable source code or confirmed that the code was buildable. They found the weak repeatability rate fell between 32 and 54 percent.

In other findings, Collberg and Proebsting found no significant difference in repeatability rates of National Science Foundation-funded versus non-NSF-funded research. But they did find that authors from industry had a relatively lower rate of repeatability, and authors from academia had a relatively higher rate.

Also, they noted that authors’ published code doesn’t necessarily correspond to the version that was used to produce their results.

The results of their study are published in the March issue of Communications of the Association for Computing Machinery.

With the results from their study in mind, Collberg and Proebsting formulated two "modest proposals" to improve sharing, repeatability and benefaction.

The first proposal would require authors at the time of submission to inform conference organizers or journal editors as to whether they plan to share their code and data, and their answer should allow journal reviewers to consider that factor when they recommend acceptance or rejection of a paper.

"In some ways, sharing your code and data seems redundant," Proebsting says. "You’re publishing your work. You’re sharing your work. You’re sharing your conclusions. You’re sharing what you did. But there’s this one other part: Science has always said you’re supposed to share your methods, and we’re taking that to the logical extreme."

The researchers' second proposal would call on funding agencies to encourage researchers to request additional funds for repeatability. Computers, operating systems and commercial software change over time and need updating to function properly, and so does research software.

However, professors and graduate students don't have the time to fix old code or help other researchers use their code, so they need engineers whose full- time job is to help with maintenance, Collberg says.

"But it’s probable that money given toward reproducibility actually pays for itself because if, for example, I get to build on your software, I’m not investing time rebuilding it myself," Proebsting says. "Perhaps not only may I build on it, but someone else may build on it, too. So while funding reproducibility may initially look like an expense, it may pay off fantastically well in the long run."

Category(s): Science and TechnologyRobin TricolesMarch 15, 2016University Relations - Communications

First Folio Fights Off Agents of Decay

Mon, 03/07/2016 - 3:30pm
Extra Info: 

Shakespeare's First Folio has been at the Arizona State Museum on the UA campus since Feb. 15. The exhibition will close on Tuesday, March 15.

For nearly a month, the Arizona State Museum's associate conservator, Teresa Moreno, has taken great pains to safeguard the book that gave us Shakespeare.

Since the First Folio arrived for a public exhibition at the University of Arizona's Arizona State Museum, associate conservator Teresa Moreno has been caring for the 400-year-old book.

Unbeknownst to most who visit the First Folio exhibit, which concludes Tuesday, the task of keeping "the book that gave us Shakespeare" from deteriorating so many centuries after it was published requires unparalleled expertise and discipline.

Such expertise is available on the UA campus in only two places: the Arizona State Museum and, more recently, the Center for Creative Photography.  Both institutions feature conservation laboratories that are directed and run by specially trained and uniquely qualified professional conservators.  Moreno joined the faculty at the Arizona State Museum in 2002 and is a member of the museum’s Preservation Division.

In fact, the museum was selected as the state's one host site for the First Folio exhibition because of its long history of commitment to the conservation and preservation of material culture. In 2008, the museum received the National Preservation Award for demonstrated excellence and outstanding commitment to the preservation and care of collections. The award was presented jointly by the American Institute for Conservation of Historic and Artistic Works and by Heritage Preservation. 

In addition, the museum is home to two officially designated national treasures: its collections of Southwestern American Indian pottery and basketry. The museum’s pottery collection also has been designated as an official State Treasure.

Moreno played a key role in helping to bring the First Folio exhibit to the UA and to the Tucson community. She provided detailed environmental and security data and completed the facilities report required by the Folger Shakespeare Library as part of the application process. Her knowledge of preventive conservation and her intimate familiarity with the historic museum building helped to secure the UA’s place in the yearlong tour of the First Folio across the country.

In order to protect and preserve the Folio, Moreno has been closely monitoring the exhibition environment to mitigate what she referred to as "agents of decay," or things that could cause damage. In the field of art conservation, environmental monitoring is a critical component of preventive conservation. She has been monitoring for:

  • Temperature and relative humidity: Organic materials such as paper, board, cloth and leather, of which the Folio is made, are subject to deterioration through exposure to fluctuating temperatures and humidity levels. Excessively low humidity levels, such as we experience in the Sonoran Desert, can cause organic materials to dry out and become brittle. High levels of humidity can cause organic materials to swell and expand. Likewise, high humidity coupled with high temperatures can lead to mold growth. 
  • Light: Organic materials are particularly susceptible to irreparable damage induced by prolonged exposure to high levels of light. Visible light, along with infrared and ultraviolet, must be controlled and/or eliminated from the gallery environment to prevent light-sensitive materials and objects from fading or from becoming brittle over time. This is why museum exhibitions usually are so dimly lit and prohibit flash photography. 
  • Pests: Cockroaches, silverfish, firebrats and certain types of beetles all are things you don’t want coming near your 400-year-old book of Shakespearean plays.
  • Pollutants: Pollutants in the museum environment are considered to be any reactive chemical compound, whether present in a gaseous, liquid or particulate state, that can interact with the materials the museum collections are made of and that can accelerate their chemical and physical deterioration. Harmful pollutants include organic acids, sulfur containing species, formaldehyde-based compounds, and anything containing chlorides or nitrogen oxides.

Moreno said the most insidious agents of all are humidity and temperature.

To minimize deterioration during the Folio’s installation here in the Arizona climate, conservators from the Folger Shakespeare Library, working with the temperature and humidity data collected and provided by Moreno over the course of the last year, determined the optimal temperature and relative humidity at which the Folio would be exhibited during its stay.

The exhibition case in which the Folio is displayed was custom made for the tour. The case is designed to be airtight and to have the environmental conditions set by the Folger. The interior of the case is conditioned using silica gel, and it is monitored using both a standard mechanical thermo-hygrometer and a digital environmental datalogger. Moreno has downloaded the environmental data three times a week and sent it to the conservators at the Folger.

Moreno explained that the Arizona State Museum took additional measures such as switching out halogen lamps and replacing them with LEDs. This avoids UV exposure and cuts down on heat emitted by halogens.

Caroline Bedinger, director of visitor relations and manager of 2016 programs at the Folger Shakespeare Library, said, "We had every confidence that the Arizona State Museum could not only safely exhibit the book, but could do so as part of an incredibly memorable Shakespeare celebration for Arizona."

Category(s): Arts and HumanitiesCampus NewsEmily LitvackMarch 10, 2016UA Office for Research & Discovery

Shipwrecks, Tree Rings Reveal Caribbean Hurricanes

Mon, 03/07/2016 - 1:10pm
Extra Info: 

Related website:

http://trouetlab.arizona.edu/

Story Contacts: 

Researcher contacts:

Valerie Trouet

UA Laboratory of Tree-Ring Research

520-626-8004

trouet@ltrr.arizona.edu

Languages spoken: English, French, Dutch, German

Grant Harley

Grant.Harley@usm.edu

Marta Domínguez-Delmás

mardodel@gmail.com

Languages spoken: English, Spanish 

Media contact:

Mari N. Jensen

UA College of Science

520-626-9635

mnjensen@email.arizona.edu

A UA researcher and her colleagues found a lull in Caribbean hurricanes during the Golden Age of Piracy corresponds to a low in sunspot activity.

Records of Spanish shipwrecks combined with tree-ring records show the period 1645 to 1715 had the fewest Caribbean hurricanes since 1500, according to new University of Arizona-led research. The study is the first to use shipwrecks as a proxy for hurricane activity.

The researchers found a 75 percent reduction in the number of Caribbean hurricanes from 1645-1715, a time with little sunspot activity and cool temperatures in the Northern Hemisphere.

"We're the first to use shipwrecks to study hurricanes in the past," said lead author Valerie Trouet, an associate professor in the UA Laboratory of Tree-Ring Research. "By combining shipwreck data and tree-ring data, we are extending the Caribbean hurricane record back in time and that improves our understanding of hurricane variability."

Although global climate models indicate hurricanes will be more intense as the climate warms, those models are not yet good at making regional predictions, Trouet said. Learning more about how hurricanes correlated with climate for the past 500 years may lead to better regional predictions of hurricanes.

"We're providing information that can help those models become more precise," she said.

What is now the U.S. National Hurricane Center did not begin keeping records of Caribbean hurricanes until 1850, she said. Researchers have used lake sediments to develop a record of hurricanes over the past centuries, but these data provide only century-level resolution.

The new research provides an annual record of Caribbean hurricanes going back to the year 1500 — shortly after Christopher Columbus first reached the Caribbean.

Ship traffic between Spain and the Caribbean became commonplace. Spain kept detailed records of the comings and goings of ships — at the time, ships returning with gold and other goods provided the income for the Spanish kingdom. Storms were the major reason that ships wrecked in the Caribbean.

Figuring out how climate change affects hurricane activity is important for emergency management planning. For U.S. hurricanes from 1970 to 2002, other investigators estimated the damages cost $57 billion in 2015 dollars.

The team's paper, "Shipwreck Rates Reveal Caribbean Tropical Cyclone Response to Past Radiative Forcing," is scheduled to be published online by the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences this week.

Trouet's co-authors are Grant Harley of the University of Southern Mississippi in Hattiesburg and Marta Domínguez-Delmás of the University of Santiago de Compostela in Lugo, Spain.

The University of Southern Mississippi, the National Science Foundation, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and an Agnese N. Haury Visiting Scholar Fellowship supported the research.

Trouet and her coauthors hatched the idea for the study while sitting on the patio of Tucson's Hotel Congress. The three scientists were attending the Second American Dendrochronology Conference, which was held in Tucson in 2013.

Harley mentioned he had tree-ring records from the Florida Keys that went back to 1707 — and that the tree rings revealed when hurricanes had occurred. The growth of trees is retarded in years with hurricanes. That reduction in growth is reflected in the tree's annual rings.

Domínguez-Delmás, a dendroarchaelogist, figures out when Spanish ships were built by retrieving wood from shipwrecks and dating the wood. Trouet wondered whether the tree-ring record of Florida hurricanes could be combined with shipwreck data to create a long-term history of Caribbean hurricanes.

The team discovered that a book used by treasure hunters, Robert F. Marx's book "Shipwrecks in the Americas: A Complete Guide to Every Major Shipwreck in the Western Hemisphere," had a detailed record of Caribbean shipwrecks. The team also used "Shipwrecks of Florida: A Comprehensive Listing," by Steven D. Singer.

The books, combined with ship logs, allowed the researchers to compile a list of Spanish ships known to have been wrecked by storms during the hurricane seasons of 1495-1825. The team found that the hurricane patterns from the shipwreck database closely matched Florida Keys tree-ring chronology of hurricanes from 1707-1825.

In addition, the team compared the Florida Keys tree-ring records to the systematic recordings of hurricanes from 1850-2009. Again, the patterns matched.

When they overlapped the shipwreck data with the tree-ring data, the researchers discovered a 75 percent reduction in hurricane activity from 1645-1715, a time period known as the Maunder Minimum.

"We didn't go looking for the Maunder Minimum," Trouet said. "It just popped out of the data."

The Maunder Minimum is so named because there was a low in sunspot activity during that time. Because Earth receives less solar radiation during lulls in sunspot activity, the Northern Hemisphere was cooler during the Maunder Minimum than in the time periods before or after.

Learning that a lull in Caribbean hurricanes corresponded to a time when Earth received less solar energy will help researchers better understand the influence of large changes in radiation, including that from greenhouse gas emissions, on hurricane activity.

Having better predictions about how anthropogenic climate change affects hurricane activity is important because hurricanes are so destructive and have big societal impacts, Trouet said. She anticipates the new findings will help improve future hurricane predictions under a changing climate. 

Category(s): Science and TechnologyMari N. JensenMarch 7, 2016UA College of Science

The American Novel in the 21st Century

Mon, 03/07/2016 - 10:13am
Extra Info: 

For information about the Tucson Festival of Books and a complete schedule of events, click here

What: Tucson Festival of BooksWhen: Saturday, March 12, and Sunday, March 13Where: UA MallIn advance of the Tucson Festival of Books, three UA professors discuss the form's evolution through the Internet era and consider its place in the current cultural landscape.

For generations, the novel has been among the most versatile and illuminating modes of creative expression.

The very best novelists — Steinbeck, Baldwin, Twain, Fitzgerald, O'Connor, Hemingway, Vonnegut, Pynchon — tested the boundaries of this form of communication. Their novels endure as a prism through which to experience the societal conditions that influenced their creativity.

For everyone who loves literature — either writing or reading it — the idea of "The Great American Novel" is a vital topic of conversation.

With more than 130,000 book lovers preparing to celebrate the written word at the seventh annual Tucson Festival of Books at the University of Arizona next weekend, three University of Arizona professors discuss ways in which the novel has shifted and evolved over the years, where it fits into a saturated entertainment landscape, and which contemporary works may one day be included in the Great American Novel conversation.

Fenton Johnson is an associate professor of creative writing at the UA and author of the new novel "The Man Who Loved Birds," as well as the reprinted novels "Crossing the River" and "Scissors, Paper, Rock," all three recently issued by University Press of Kentucky.

Homer Pettey is a professor of English, film and literature with the UA. He serves as the general/founding editor for two scholarly book series, "Global Film Studios" and "International Film Stars," for Edinburgh University Press.

Scott Selisker is an assistant professor in the UA Department of English who teaches courses on American literature and digital humanities. His research examines the roles of science and technology in post-1945 American culture.

What is the first novel that comes to mind that deeply impacted you, either on an emotional or technical level?

Johnson: Lewis Carroll's "Alice in Wonderland/Through the Looking-Glass," both profound books (but especially the latter) about death and dying and human resilience and humor in the face of mortality.

Pettey: William Faulkner's "The Sound and the Fury," which I read when I was a junior in high school.

Selisker: The first thing that comes to mind on an emotional level is Toni Morrison's "Song of Solomon," which I read in college and have taught several times. Its ambiguous final line still gets me. The "technical" part of the question is interesting, too — when I was a senior in high school, I really connected with James Joyce's "A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man," and I was excited about the challenge of reading "Ulysses." I'd been a prospective math and engineering major at that point, but the experience of trying to figure out "Ulysses" played a big role in my switch to majoring in liberal arts and eventually English.

How has the novel evolved in the information age?

Johnson: We have more ways of telling our stories, and more ways of getting them into the hands of those who want to read or hear or see them. But the heart and purpose of our storytelling — our engagement with the "eternal verities" (William Faulkner) — is unchanged.

Pettey: If there has been a progression, then it would be with the expansion of world literature available, even in this country, which has a terrible record of translating foreign novels, unlike France, Germany and Japan.

Selisker: The novel has more competition than ever. Some novels are incorporating the forms of the information age. Books like Mark Danielewski's "House of Leaves," which resembles the 1990s Internet in its formal experiments, or Jennifer Egan’s terrific "A Visit From the Goon Squad," which features a great short story told as a PowerPoint diary written in the future. Novelists like William Gibson and Neal Stephenson even gave us terms and ideas like "cyberspace" and "avatar." In that case, you could even say the information age has evolved with the novel.

Is it possible for a traditional novel to have the same impact on the wider culture as it once did?

Johnson: Readers of serious fiction have always been a small subset of readers as a whole, and thus an even smaller subset of the culture. But stories and storytelling achieve their impact not at the level of whole societies but in the hearts and minds of particular readers and writers. I'm not writing for "society," but for the dedicated reader who wants to suspend disbelief for many hours and emerge more thoughtful, maybe even in some small way changed. In this way, novels remain our most powerful form of storytelling, because no other medium, not even movies, demands such total, unreserved engagement of two hearts and minds.

Pettey: Has there ever been a traditional novel? "The Tale of Genji," "Tom Jones," "Justine," "Quo Vadis?," "The Maltese Falcon," "The Bridge on the Drina," "El Señor Presidente," "Beloved," "A Personal Matter," "Red Sorghun" — are they "traditional"?

Selisker: I think traditional novels are continuing to influence our world in big ways. I've argued in my scholarship, for instance, that George Orwell's "1984" has had a huge impact on the ways we talk about politics, about propaganda and surveillance, and the differences between democracy and totalitarianism, freedom and un-freedom. An interesting pattern to me is that a fair number of the "biggest" very recent books, in terms of readership, franchise size and wide cultural impact, have been children's or young-adult books: "Harry Potter," "The Hunger Games," "Twilight," and even an adult book that started as "Twilight" fan fiction, "Fifty Shades of Grey."

When discussing the concept of The Great American Novel, should that conversation be broadened to include serialized forms of storytelling, such as "The Sopranos" or "The Wire"? Or should that conversation remain focused on writing that isn’t attached to a visual element?

Johnson: I got hours of enjoyment and distraction from "The Sopranos" and "The Wire." In both cases — as with virtually all their viewers — I could and did switch them off to tend to cooking, or answer the phone, or head to the gym. When I encounter a really good novel, that external world falls away and it's just the writer, me, and the writer's world and my reactions to it.

No TV program possesses our consciousness like a good novel. Perhaps that is why, while Dickens' novels were instrumental in reform of orphanages and workhouses in 19th-century England, I don't see "The Wire" as having achieved any lasting impact on our misbegotten "war on drugs." Maybe it’s too soon to make that judgment. I'd like to think so. Whatever it takes.

Pettey: For me, the Great American Novel is García Márquez's "One Hundred Years of Solitude," so we need to expand the concept to include all of the Americas first before extending it to television series.

Selisker: Yes, I think that conversation should be broadened. In many senses, the novel occupied the same cultural roles in, say, the 19th century, as television did in the mid-to-late 20th century. We might say that serial television in the 21st century is in a similar place to the novel in the early 20th century. In part because of pressure from other media forms, television is experimenting boldly with the forms and kinds of stories it can tell. In fact, I’m teaching Season 1 of "The Wire" in my graduate course on networks in contemporary literature.

Are there any modern novels you believe will be subject to deeper examination in English courses in the future, the way this generation studies "The Grapes of Wrath" or "The Adventures of Huck Finn"?

Johnson: Virtually all of Toni Morrison, of course. James Baldwin, whose novels are underrated. Certain of the gay writers of the 1980s — Alan Holinghurst comes to mind. Maybe Colm Toibin, but once we pass 2000, we're too close to our own biases to let time do its filtering thing. Marguerite Yourcenar? Chinua Achebe? Louise Erdrich? J.M. Coetzee? The selection, I'm happy to say, is too vast for me to winnow down.

Aspects of the novel that are superior to all other technologies: durability, portability, ease and simplicity of production. You can take it to the beach, on the bus, to the doctor's office. My new novel, "The Man Who Loved Birds," as well as the reprints of my earlier novels, are on acid-free paper — meaning that, of all technologies that abound today, they’re the most likely to be available to the scholar of 400 years hence. What does that mean? Who can say? But a reader wanting to know what it was like to live through the AIDS plague may be able to pick up "Scissors, Paper, Rock," just as I pick up "Middlemarch" to glimpse into life in rural 19th-century England. In both cases, I find great comfort in seeing that, though the landscapes have dramatically changed, the ways and means of the heart remain consistent.

Pettey: I seek out new works from world literature, since I tend to find contemporary American fiction shallow and self-indulgent.

Selisker: Absolutely. I'm re-reading David Foster Wallace's "Infinite Jest" for its 20th anniversary this spring, and I think many scholars already see that as a major novel of our generation, worthy of plenty of attention and rereading. (It starts in Tucson, actually, in the Dean's Office in Modern Languages.)

I think Toni Morrison's place in the canon is already very certain. I like Ursula K. Le Guin, too. One thing that’s exciting for me is that at least some of this canon formation takes place in the classroom — the books that really resonate with students will be the ones that professors continue to teach and write about, and the ones students will recommend to their friends, and that may in the future have a similar status to "Moby-Dick" or "The Great Gatsby." That deeper examination of fiction takes place outside the classroom, too, though, as we can see from the large contemporary followings of writers like Wallace, Joyce, and even readers of young adult fiction who write fan fiction and are inventing other new ways to interact with literature.

Category(s): Arts and HumanitiesNick PrevenasMarch 7, 2016University Relations - Communications

Literary Journals for Fairy Tales? Believe It, the UA Has 2 of Them

Mon, 03/07/2016 - 9:00am
Extra Info: 

"The Power of Fairy Tales" at the Tucson Festival of Books will provide an interpretive reading of fairy tales put on in conjunction with Fairy Tale Review and Tiny Donkey literary magazines.

For more about the Tucson Festival of Books: http://tucsonfestivalofbooks.org/

What: “The Power of Fairy Tales” at the Tucson Festival of BooksWhen: Sunday, March 13, 10-11 a.m.Where: College of Social and Behavioral Sciences Tent, on the UA Mall next to the UA Bookstore tent (No. 162)Story Contacts: 

Kate Bernheimer

UA Department of English

520-621-1780

kbernheimer@email.arizona.edu

Tucson Festival of Books visitors can learn about the world of fairy tale publishing through the work of students and faculty in the UA Department of English.

If your exposure to fairy tales is limited to the sanitized versions popularized in Disney movies, you might be surprised to learn that there is a literary journal on fairy tales housed at the University of Arizona.

Founded in 2005 by Kate Bernheimer, an associate professor in the UA Department of English, Fairy Tale Review is an annual literary journal dedicated to publishing new fairy tales and to helping raise awareness of fairy tales as an international, innovative art form.

"The future of fairy tales depends on a new generation of readers, editors and authors who love these strange, beautiful stories, and I relish the opportunity to teach and mentor undergraduates and graduate students on behalf of the tradition," Bernheimer said. "I learn as much from my students as I hope they learn from me. I am delighted to discover, every semester, that contemporary fairy tales are alive and well at the University of Arizona.”

Fairy Tale Review and a recent offshoot, Tiny Donkey, attract about 20 student volunteers who are intrigued by fairy tales and interested in the world of publishing. Both provide students with an engaged learning experience before graduation, which is one of the hallmarks of a higher education and part of UA President Ann Weaver Hart's 100% Engagement initiative.

"Working with students on Fairy Tale Review is one of the best parts of my job," Bernheimer said.

Joel Hans, an Master of Fine Arts student in creative writing at the UA, is the managing editor and the prose editor. Jon Riccio, a recent Master of Fine Arts graduate, is the poetry editor. Several other students serve as associate editors, and even more are readers. And the editorial assistants, about 15 of them, are undergraduates.

"I work on Fairy Tale Review because I genuinely love it," said Hans, whose work with the journal was supported by a prestigious Graduate Incentives in Growth Award before that program was discontinued last year. "I know it's a beloved journal. If it disappeared, there would be a big gap in the literary world."

Hans said he didn't realize how much of an influence fairy tales had on his personal writing until coming to the UA and working with Bernheimer. "She helped reveal to me how fairy tales permeate so much of our culture," he said.

The 12th and most recent issue of Fairy Tale Review, "The Ochre Issue," will be released in two months. The journal is available from the publisher, Wayne State University Press, in print and in e-book versions, as well as on the academic database JStor. Hans estimates that almost 2,100 prose, poetry and art submissions were received for the issue, and 32 will be published.

Submissions may be innovative retellings of a traditional fairy tale or a brand-new story that utilizes "fairy tale craft," such as abstraction, emotional flatness and normalization, which is when something strange happens in a fairy tale but the characters don't comment on the strangeness.

Fairy Tale Review tries to reach beyond the fairy tales of the Brothers Grimm and Hans Christian Andersen to embrace stories inspired by fairy tales from Japan, Africa and India.

"Fairy tales have sort of been dominated by the Disney approach, which is a perfectly fine approach," Hans said. "But we think there is still a lot of room for innovation. We are trying to show that fairy tales can also be dark and gritty and politically active."

Hans said that students helping with Fairy Tale Review learn valuable skills such as a "sense of the writing community and the level that people are writing at. The work also helps them get used to critically reading a text and evaluating its effectiveness in a short period of time."

Undergraduates also can build up publication credits on their resumes by submitting stories to Tiny Donkey, which was launched last year. Tiny Donkey is an online journal of short-form (up to 400 words) fairy tale nonfiction. At least every other published piece is produced by an undergraduate student.

Tiny Donkey is the brainchild of Wren Awry, an undergraduate major in creative writing, who came up with the idea while doing an internship with Fairy Tale Review. Awry's interest in fairy tales was ignited in Bernheimer's course ENGL 248B, "Introduction to Fairy Tales."

"I am interested in the connection between fairy tales and things in the world, between fairy tales and history and science and memoir," Awry said.

Tiny Donkey is expanding this year, adding a contest, an editor's post and monthly interviews with authors, scholars and actors who work with fairy tales in various ways.

Tiny Donkey is an example of how students can bring their ideas to the table, Hans said.

"If students are interested in fairy tales and interested in publishing, they can come to us," he said.

Added Awry: "I've heard Kate refer to it as a fairy tale incubator, a place for ideas to grow and develop."

Category(s): Teaching and StudentsUA College of Social and Behavioral SciencesMarch 9, 2016UA College of Social and Behavioral Sciences

UA Experts Say Apple-FBI Case Portends Future

Fri, 03/04/2016 - 12:27pm
Extra Info: 

Read Derek Bambauer's recent post about the Apple-FBI case here.

Story Contacts: 

Catherine Brooks

UA Center for Digital Society and Data Studies

520-621-3565

cfbrooks@email.arizona.edu

In the digital age, we can expect matters of privacy and security increasingly to be front and center, according to a panel discussion sponsored by the new UA Center for Digital Society and Data Studies.

Four experts on privacy and security from the University of Arizona weighed in on the headline-grabbing battle between Apple and the FBI in a panel discussion, generally agreeing that such a technological tug-of-war was inevitable — and that it provides a preview of what's to come in the digital age.

The FBI wants Apple to break into the iPhone 5c used by one of the suspects in the recent terrorist shootings in San Bernardino, California. Apple has refused, saying the software that would need to be built for such a task could end up in the wrong hands, compromising civil liberties and personal data protection. 

Derek Bambauer, a professor in the UA's James E. Rogers College of Law, said the case is noteworthy for what it isn't about. It isn't about password encryption, surveillance or a single iPhone, he said.

It's about something much bigger, he said.

"The FBI and the Department of Justice have picked this case because it has great facts to establish a precedent," said Bambauer, who studies Internet law, intellectual property, Internet censorship and cybersecurity.

Bambauer was joined on the panel Thursday on campus by Suzanne Weisband, associate professor of management information systems; Steven Rains, associate professor of communication; and Yotam Shmargad, assistant professor of information. All four are part of the faculty advisory board for the new UA Center for Digital Society and Data Studies.

Lee Rainie, director of Internet, science and technology research at the Pew Research Center, participated via Skype from Washington, D.C.

Rainie called the case "a big, hairy issue" and said American opinion about it has been a moving target. Initially, he said, about half of those polled took the government's side and nearly 40 percent Apple's side. But don't take those numbers to the bank.

"This is going to end up in Congress' lap," he predicted. "It used to be that Americans were more afraid of government intrusions. But now many feel the government and big corporations are part of the same package."

Shmargad agreed with Bambauer, saying that the government could bypass Apple and hack the phone itself — but it doesn't want to.

"They want to go to court and win," Shmargad said, "and then be able to dictate a lot of decisions by referencing this case."

Rains, describing himself as a social scientist, said to expect the floodgates to open on matters of privacy and security in the coming years.

"If someone asks 'Who are you?', one thing you probably wouldn't say is 'I'm a data-producing machine,'" Rains said. "But our data has value to people. We've become less aware of the privacy trade. The next phase is when all of our devices become Internet-enabled.

"We're sharing personal information in exchange for goods, and that raises a number of important questions."

Rains called the case "a huge PR win" for Apple, regardless of how it turns out.

"It shows they're 'fighting for you,' they're about the consumer," he said. "It allows them to drive home a point that they're not a huge company, they're just a philanthropic organization that happens to make a lot of money. If they don't fight this, it undermines what they stand for."

Weisband said the case connects on a deeper level with the public because we consider our cell phones to be an extension of ourselves.

"Your phone is a lot of your identity," she said. "It becomes a part of you. We like it being encrypted. Taking a piece away is worrisome to the general public."

Category(s): Campus NewsScience and TechnologyDoug CarrollMarch 4, 2016University Relations – Communications

Drought in Eastern Mediterranean Worst of Past 900 Years

Thu, 03/03/2016 - 3:51pm
Story Contacts: 

Researcher contacts:

Benjamin Cook

NASA

212-678-5669

benjamin.i.cook@nasa.gov

Kevin Anchukaitis

UA Department of Geosciences

520-626-8054

kanchukaitis@email.arizona.edu

Media contacts:

Mari N. Jensen

UA College of Science

520-626-9635

mnjensen@email.arizona.edu

Ellen Gray

NASA

301-286-1950

Ellen.t.gray@nasa.gov

Studies from the UA Laboratory of Tree-Ring Research prove crucial to recognizing the drought's severity.

The recent drought that began in 1998 in the eastern Mediterranean’s Levant region is likely the worst drought of the past nine centuries, according to new research from a team that includes three University of Arizona scientists. The Levant comprises Cyprus, Israel, Jordan, Lebanon, Palestine and Syria.

In addition to identifying the driest years, the researchers discovered patterns in the geographic distribution of droughts in the Mediterranean. The new work contradicts previous research that suggested when the eastern Mediterranean was dry, the western Mediterranean was wet — and vice versa.

"Our work definitely shows that when there’s drought in the eastern Mediterranean there’s also drought in the western Mediterranean," said co-author Kevin Anchukaitis, an associate professor in the UA School of Geography and Development and in the UA Department of Geosciences. "And when it’s wet in one part of the region, it’s wet all over."

Knowing the range of natural variation in the occurrence of droughts in the Mediterranean will let scientists identify droughts that are made worse by human-induced global warming. The research is part of NASA's ongoing work to improve the computer models that simulate climate now and in the future.

"To understand drought in the region, we have to understand the patterns," Anchukaitis said. "We have a very large network of tree-ring chronologies stretching from Morocco to Turkey and from Spain to Syria. They allow us to identify simultaneous moisture deficits in a way that can’t be done without this precision."

The researchers reconstructed the Mediterranean’s drought history by studying the annual rings of trees, which are thin in dry years and thick in years when water is plentiful.

To better understand how severe and how frequent Mediterranean droughts have been in the past, the researchers used the Old World Drought Atlas. The atlas is a compilation of records of tree rings from trees both living and dead from all over the region, including northern Africa, Greece, Lebanon, Jordan, Syria and Turkey.

The vast majority of the tree-ring data from the region was collected over the years by UA co-authors Ramzi Touchan and David Meko and their collaborators, Anchukaitis said. Both Touchan and Meko are research professors of dendrochronology at the UA Laboratory of Tree-Ring Research.

"This analysis is only possible because of Ramzi’s long work in the region," Anchukaitis said.

By combining those data with existing tree-ring records from Spain, southern France and Italy, the researchers reconstructed patterns of drought geographically and through time over the past millennium.

The team’s paper, "Spatiotemporal drought variability in the Mediterranean over the last 900 years," is published online in the Journal of Geophysical Research-Atmospheres, a publication of the American Geophysical Union.

Additional authors are lead author Benjamin Cook of NASA Goddard Institute for Space Studies in New York City and Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory in Palisades, New York, and Edward Cook, also of Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory.

The National Science Foundation, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, and NASA funded the research.

"The magnitude and significance of human climate change requires us to really understand the full range of natural climate variability," Benjamin Cook said.

"If we look at recent events and we start to see anomalies that are outside this range of natural variability, then we can say with some confidence that it looks like this particular event or this series of events had some kind of human-caused climate change contribution."

Between the years 1100 and 2012, the team found droughts in the tree-ring record that corresponded to those described in historical documents written at the time. According to Benjamin Cook, the range of how extreme wet or dry periods were is quite broad, but the recent drought in the Levant region, from 1998 to 2012, stands out as about 50 percent drier than the driest period in the past 500 years — and 10 to 20 percent drier than the worst drought of the past 900 years.

Having such a large area covered allowed the science team not only to see variations in time, but also geographic changes across the region.

"Both for modern society and certainly ancient civilizations, it means that if one region was suffering the consequences of the drought, those conditions are likely to exist throughout the Mediterranean basin," Anchukaitis said of the team's findings.

"So you have the potential for large-scale disruption of food systems as well as potential conflict over water resources."

In addition, the science team found that when the northern part of the Mediterranean — Greece, Italy, and the coasts of France and Spain — tended to be dry when eastern North Africa was wet, and vice versa. These east-west and north-south relationships helped the team understand the ocean and atmospheric conditions that lead to dry or wet periods in the first place. 

Category(s): Science and TechnologyEllen Gray, NASA Earth Science News TeamMarch 3, 2016and Mari N. Jensen, UA College of Science

3 to Debate Security, Safety, Personal Privacy at UA

Thu, 03/03/2016 - 2:54pm
Extra Info: 

On March 24 at 7:30 p.m., the School of Journalism is hosting a screening of "Citizenfour" at The Loft Cinema, followed by a conversation with Glenn Greenwald.

"Citizenfour," which won the Academy Award for Best Documentary last year, details how Snowden, a former contractor for the National Security Agency, revealed classified documents to "Citizenfour" director Laura Poitras and Greenwald.

The movie is the fifth in the "Journalism on Screen" series, sponsored by the School of Journalism in conjunction with the College of Social and Behavioral Sciences, The New York Times, the Arizona Inn and The Loft.

For more information: http://journalism.arizona.edu/citizenfour

Story Contacts: 

UA College of Social and Behavioral Sciences 

520-626-0606

communitymatters@email.arizona.edu

Noam Chomsky, Glenn Greenwald and Edward Snowden will discuss the balance between individual liberties and national security at March 25 event at Centennial Hall.

The competing stresses posed by balancing government intrusion and individual rights in pursuit of a safe society will be the topic of "A Conversation on Privacy," a panel discussion featuring MIT professor Noam Chomsky, journalist Glenn Greenwald and former NSA subcontractor Edward Snowden presented by the University of Arizona College of Social and Behavioral Sciences on March 25.

Chomsky and Greenwald will appear in person, while Snowden will videoconference from Russia.

Snowden and Greenwald sparked an international conversation about government overreach and individuals' right to privacy when Greenwald published top-secret documents in the British newspaper The Guardian that Snowden stole while he was employed as a subcontractor for the National Security Agency. Chomsky is one of the leading public intellectuals in the United States and has argued that mass surveillance sacrifices civil liberties yet does not make the country safer. The panel will address some of the most serious challenges to individual freedom, including these:

  • How do we balance individual liberties while trying to protect our security? Who are we trying to protect and who gets hurt?
  • Where do we draw the line between individual freedom and the needs of the government? Should we allow warrantless information-gathering on Americans if it means protection from attacks? Who makes sure the line is defended?

Nuala O'Connor, president and CEO of the Center for Democracy and Technology, will act as moderator for the discussion. She is an expert in both technology and national security. She was the first statutorily appointed chief privacy officer in federal service when she joined the Department of Homeland Security in 2003.

"Concerns about individual liberties and government overreach are at the center of a national conversation on privacy that was ignited when Edward Snowden began leaking NSA documents in 2013," said John Paul Jones III, dean of the College of Social and Behavioral Sciences. "Whether you think Snowden is a patriot or a traitor, he has brought attention to one of the biggest unresolved questions of the new digital society: How, in a democratic society, can we balance privacy and security?"

Academic sponsors for the event include the UA Center for Philosophy of Freedom, UA School of Journalism, UA Center for Digital Society and Data Studies, UA School of Information and UA Department of Linguistics.

"A right to privacy is part of living in a free country. In an era of unprecedented data-collecting about all aspects of our lives, government overreach cannot be ignored," said David Schmidtz, director of the UA Freedom Center.

David Cuillier, director of the School of Journalism and past president of the Society of Professional Journalists, helped put together the panel.

"The genesis of the event was all about journalists exposing government shenanigans and engaging Arizonans in a live discussion about our freedoms vis-a-vis our security," Cuillier said. "Journalists have a duty to hold government accountable, as our Founding Fathers insisted. Without the Greenwalds of the world, questioning and challenging, how are we going to get better and remain grounded in what is right and principled?"

The college's Downtown Lecture Series in the fall will broaden the conversation on privacy and include topics such as physical surveillance (for example, drones and Google Glass) and explore how we can balance people's concerns over privacy with the power of big data to advance precision health and economic growth.

"A Conversation on Privacy" will be held from 5-7 p.m. on March 25 in UA Centennial Hall, 1020 E. University Blvd. Tickets (assigned seating) will be $15 for the public and $5 for UA students with a CatCard. Tickets will go on sale at 10 a.m. on March 11 at the Centennial Hall box office, online or by phone (those buying by phone will incur a $10 charge). For more information: sbs.arizona.edu/privacy.

The event is made possible by the Don Bennett Moon Foundation, with additional support from the Center for Democracy and Technology. It is presented in collaboration with the UA Center for Digital Society and Data Studies, UA Center for the Philosophy of Freedom, UA Department of Linguistics, UA School of Information and UA School of Journalism.

The College of Social and Behavioral Sciences will arrange several overflow sites at the UA where the event will be streamed live. Tickets for the overflow locations are free and will be given out at the door. There will be no live Q&A at the event, but the public can submit questions and vote for its favorite before the event at 2Shoesapp.com/privacy.

Category(s): Campus NewsMarch 3, 2016UA College of Social and Behavioral Sciences

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