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UA assistant professor selected as one of 12 national scholars

Mon, 10/13/2014 - 13:35
Date of Publication: Friday, October 10, 2014 Organization : KOLD-TVCategory(s): HealthOther Story Image: Short Summary: Sheila Gephart, an assistant professor in the UA College of Nursing, is one of 12 educators to be named a Robert Wood Johnson Foundation Nurse Faculty Scholar. Include in Olympic coverage: noFeature on olympic page: noMedium Summary: Sheila Gephart, an assistant professor in the UA College of Nursing, is one of 12 educators to be named a Robert Wood Johnson Foundation Nurse Faculty Scholar.

4-H Students Have a Blastoff With UA-Designed Experiment

Mon, 10/13/2014 - 12:51

It's not every day that NASA scientists ask kids to design and launch rockets that could deliver food to inhabitants on a storm-ravaged, isolated Pacific island.

On Oct. 8, thousands of young students across the country took up that challenge as part of 4-H's 2014 National Youth Science Day. The event is held annually to encourage student involvement in STEM-related fields. Each year, 4-H'ers nationwide participate in the same science experiment.

"4-H is more than cows and cooking," said Kirk Astroth, director of Arizona 4-H Youth Development. "Everything we do is about science. We try to keep up with the changing needs and interests of kids – we teach app development, photography, GPS and rocketry."

This year's experiment, called "Rockets to the Rescue," was designed by UA Cooperative Extension and Arizona 4-H Youth Development, in collaboration with the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences' Department of Nutritional Sciences, the College of Engineering, the College of Education, the UA STEM Learning Center, Flandrau Science Center & Planetarium, Northern Arizona University's Center for Science Teaching and Learning, Raytheon Inc. and the Arizona Center for Afterschool Excellence.

More than 900 Rockets to the Rescue events were registered, including several in Italy and the United Kingdom.

Nearly 100 4-H'ers participated in National Youth Science Day at the UA's Campus Agricultural Center. At the event, they were challenged by NASA scientists to design rockets that could safely deliver high-energy food to a starving population stranded on a fictional, typhoon-ravaged Pacific island.

"Rockets to the Rescue teaches kids about aerospace engineering, nutritional sciences and consumer economics," Astroth said. "This is much bigger than any of our previous experiments – it really grabs kids' imaginations."

The fictional scenario took a very real turn when typhoon Haiyan struck the Philippines last November, a month after Rockets to the Rescue was conceived. Aid workers struggled to get adequate nutrition to survivors on isolated islands. The death toll exceeded 6,000.

"When people think about starving populations, they think about food shortages, but it's more of a food-delivery issue than it is a quantity issue," Astroth said. "We wanted the kids to think about how they could safely deliver food to people while it's still fresh."

At the start of the event, teams of two were formed and given about 20 minutes to design their rockets using simple materials such as PVC pipe, paper, tape, string, cotton balls and plastic bags. Aside from a few basic instructions, 4-H'ers were free to create their rockets in any fashion.

The young engineers had to consider variables such as the rocket's launch angle and weight, as well as the nutrient density and cost efficiency of the payload.  The rockets were then launched at a target 30 feet away.

"In this experiment, there's no right answer," explained Eric Larsen, a Pima County 4-H Youth Development agent who aided in the experiment's design. "There are millions of possibilities. We're not prescribing kids the right way to do it, we're asking them, 'What do you think is the right way?' Then we let them find the answer themselves."

Before launching, each team had the opportunity to present its rocket design to the rest of the group and explain how it intended to reach the target. The exercise reflected how real scientists and engineers have to communicate their designs and experiments to others.

Then came the big launch. Dozens of multicolored rockets of all shapes and sizes soared across the Agricultural Center's livestock arena. After each launch, 4-H'ers recovered their rockets and returned to the drawing board, altering their designs to make them more effective. After a few rounds of experimentation, nearly every team was hitting the target.

"This truly is inquiry-based learning," Astroth said. "Letting the kids have the experience before you tell them what to do is how you stimulate creativity."

This year's event also collaborated with NASA's Armstrong Flight Research Center in California as part of an agency-wide Summer of Innovation program. The goal of the program is to engage and train the next generation of STEM leaders. Armstrong's director of education, Karla Shy, worked with Astroth and colleagues to develop the experiment and attended the Oct. 8 event at the UA.

"It's amazing to see the kids thinking through the problem and discovering what they can do," Shy said. "They change one variable at a time, and they keep getting better and better."

Astroth and Shy emphasized that the most effective way to bring STEM education to as many students as possible is to train other educators. Astroth, who has trained 150 4-H leaders in Arizona alone, recently traveled to New York to train YMCA directors to host events at more than 200 different sites. He even made a trip to Nepal to perform the Rockets to the Rescue experiment with local youth and their leaders.

The 4-H experience offers youth access to world-class UA faculty and facilities, Astroth said. He said he hopes eventually to offer college credit through 4-H activities for those interested in attending the UA.

"4-H is your first class from the University of Arizona," he said.

The organizers' enthusiasm was matched by that of the participants.

"Experiments like this keep you on your feet and keep you thinking," said Elizabeth Young, 17, who hopes to attend the UA next year. "4-H is a great program. There's something for everyone."

"I've always had a thing for rockets, they're really cool," said Rory Maciulla, 10, who also has participated in photography projects and raising livestock. "4-H is a really good thing. There's so many things I like to do. I'm definitely going to keep coming back."

Editor: dougcarrollWriter: Raymond SanchezByline: Raymond Sanchez, NASA Space Grant internByline Affiliation: University Relations - CommunicationsHeader image: YesNo Image: Subheading: Thousands all over the United States and in Europe participated in a rocket experiment for 4-H National Youth Science Day.Include in UANow: yesInclude in Olympic Coverage: noFeature on Olympic Page: noUANow Image: 

A New Map to Medical School

Fri, 10/10/2014 - 20:09

Lacy Manuelito grew up in Fort Defiance, Arizona, on the Navajo Nation, knowing that she wanted to be a doctor. The first in her family to graduate from college, she holds a bachelor’s degree in family relations and human development from the University of New Mexico.

Now married with a 3-year-old daughter, she is gearing up for the medical school admissions test that will determine whether her dream will come true. Manuelito is one of 10 students enrolled in a new program at the University of Arizona College of Medicine — Tucson to help some of the brightest and most deserving students reach their goal of becoming doctors.

Called P-MAP,  for Pre-Medical Admissions Pathway, the one-year program is open to students who have not had the educational and economic advantages that help students get accepted to medical school and cope with its rigorous curriculum. Yet their character, commitment and academic record make them outstanding candidates. P-MAP was launched in May by the Office of Diversity and Inclusion at the UA College of Medicine — Tucson.

“We know these students are very bright,” says Dr. Francisco Moreno, deputy dean for diversity and inclusion. “We know they are going to serve their communities well. We know they are going to be awesome role models. They just may not have had the opportunities or the different kinds of experiences that our admissions committee wants to see.”

P-MAP is open to students who are Arizona residents, with preference given to those who are socioeconomically disadvantaged, first-generation college students, from rural or border communities, or enrolled in Indian tribes. Preference also is given to students who speak Spanish or Navajo, the most commonly spoken Native American language in Arizona. Most P-MAP students meet more than one of these criteria.

Students who complete the P-MAP coursework and score highly on the medical college admissions test are guaranteed admission to the UA College of Medicine — Tucson in August 2015.

P-MAP illustrates the college’s strong emphasis on increasing the diversity of its students. Two of the first 10 students are immigrants from Africa, three are Hispanic, three are Native American, and two are Native American and Hispanic.

Of all the under-represented minority groups, Native Americans face the most severe shortage of physicians, says Dr. Carlos Gonzales, professor of family and community medicine and assistant dean for medical student education, who is of Mexican and Pascua Yaqui descent. The first in his family to go to college, Gonzales is the mentor for P-MAP students.

“There is tremendous need for Native American physicians who understand the culture and are sensitive to the needs of the population,” he says. “In my view, this is one of the best things this college has ever done.”

Says Manuelito: “I definitely want to go back to the (Navajo) reservation. The turnover rate of doctors on the reservation is very frustrating. There is very little continuity of care, and that’s been my motivation for wanting to be a doctor there.”

Sylvestor Moses, a member of the San Carlos Apache tribe, is a single parent with a 10-year-old son, joint doctorates from the UA in biochemistry and molecular and cellular biology, and experience in cancer research. He now wants to be a doctor.

“I believe that in becoming a physician, I not only can provide health care to my San Carlos Apache community, but I can serve as a role model for our Apache youth,” he says.

Moses was accepted for P-MAP because he has been out of school for several years and, despite his research background, he has had no opportunity to volunteer in a clinical setting — experience that medical school applicants are expected to have. He also will mentor the P-MAP students who are studying for a health-related master’s degree — an important asset for students wanting to enter medical school.

Marisela Mariscal is a member of New Mexico’s Pueblo Laguna tribe and also of Hispanic descent. Raised in Tucson, she is the first in her family to get a college education, holding a bachelor’s degree in physiology from the UA. She has known since high school that she wanted to be a doctor.

“I am interested in working on Native reservations, but I’m passionate about working with underserved populations in general,” Mariscal says. “Too many people can’t afford to get treated or get regular checkups. I experienced that growing up.”

P-MAP is funded in part through a U.S. Health Resources Services Administration grant that pays for a counselor and other needed staff and makes some scholarships possible. Donors will be critically important to P-MAP.

“All 10 of our students are very desirable applicants for medical school,” Moreno says, “but we don’t have enough money to provide scholarships for all our students.”

The Tucson-based Stoklos Family Foundation has provided scholarships for the college’s Native American students for more than 12 years — and has provided scholarships for some of P-MAP’s first 10 students.

“I think this is a great investment in our future,” Michael Stoklos says.

Additional support will be needed when the P-MAP students enroll in the UA College of Medicine — Tucson. For some of the Native American students, financial aid will come from their tribes or the U.S. Indian Health Service. But all 10 P-MAP students will be pressed to cover the cost of their medical education — which will amount to $150,000 or more by the time they graduate in 2019. Student loans are an option, but they impose a huge debt on new doctors.

Larry Testasecca of Louisville, Ky., loves Arizona and is a passionate supporter of Native American students who attend the UA and want to enter medicine and other health-related professions. He also is a P-MAP supporter.

“I believe this is not a handout but a hand up for these young students,” he says. “I am honored to be a donor to this program.”

For more information about P-MAP, visit the To learn how you can help support P-MAP, contact the UA College of Medicine Office of Development, 520-626-2827, or email

Editor: dougcarrollWriter: Jane EriksonByline: Jane EriksonByline Affiliation: UA College of Medicine – TucsonHeader image: YesNo Image: Subheading: P-MAP program of UA's College of Medicine addresses student diversity and a physician shortage among minorities, particularly Native Americans.Include in UANow: yesInclude in Olympic Coverage: noFeature on Olympic Page: noUANow Image: 

Alison Deming Celebrates 'the Long Story of Human Life'

Fri, 10/10/2014 - 19:04

Alison Hawthorne Deming turns back into a student when she reads writers such as Rachel Carson, James Baldwin and Joan Didion. Environmentally inclined or otherwise, they have influenced the University of Arizona creative writing professor.

She wonders: How do they create the self as a character in the work? How do they frame the personal journey within a cultural context? How do they combine science smarts with a sensual engagement with experience? 

Those are some of the details that Deming seeks to absorb from the masters, but readers would do well to visit her own work and see such questions answered with grace and skill.

Deming's "Zoologies: On Animals and the Human Spirit," an essay compilation, was released on Oct. 1 by Milkweed Editions. Since her first book, the Walt Whitman Award-winning "Science and Other Poems" in 1994, she repeatedly has returned to the complicated bond between people and their planet.

“I have a Ripley’s Believe-It-or-Not relationship with science,” Deming says. “Reading (science) or hanging out with people who do science keeps me going. And in this time of so many diminishments to nature and culture, science is necessary to understand our situation and work toward a more just and sustainable future.

“As a writer, my intentions are not didactic. That's for the classroom. But my writing is fed by the excitement I find in research—intellectual adventuring—and I want that energy of discovery to be apparent in the work and to become contagious in my readers.”

"Zoologies" expounds on wildlife in all its dizzying diversity: crane broods and ant colonies, felines foreign (cheetahs) and familiar (house cats), species that make up the tragicomedy of our imperiled environmental heritage.

The compilation "continues my fascination with the long story of human life and its relationship with our fellow creatures on the planet,” Deming says. “It asks: What is the place of animals in the human imagination? How have art and science, mythology and religion, all contributed to our understanding of animals? In terms of craft, the book explores the short essay as a form, bringing some of poetry's compression to bear upon prose.”

The book, her 10th, already has garnered favorable reviews. Novelist Scott Russell Sanders referred to the text as “artful essays” penned by “a brilliant guide in a dark time.” Publishers Weekly wrote: “Deming’s writing is both precise and intricate, allowing her to gracefully transition from natural history to memoir. This articulate compilation is highly recommended for lovers of words and nature.”

Deming’s earlier work received a Pushcart Prize and two fellowships from the National Endowment for the Arts. She recently completed a book of poetry, "Stairway to Heaven," and is working on what she calls “a cultural memoir” of her grandmother and great-grandmother, who worked as dressmakers in New York in the Gilded Age (late 19th century).

Both of those projects are typical of her investment in the past and appreciation for a diversity of forms.

“To be a writer is to try to convey what it's like to be alive at this time in history as opposed to any other,” Deming says. “We're part of that long continuity, just as we're part of the long story of evolution. And some consolation, some freedom from the burdens of self, comes from knowing such things, from writing one's way into them.”

Deming recently was named as one of the inaugural Agnese Nelms Haury Chairs in Environment and Social Justice. The initiative, which recognizes top faculty whose work involves the environment, social justice and/or the Southwest, is part of a broader program under the Haury banner that will "foster the kinds of interdisciplinary scholarship and community engagement that can really make a difference in this time of great challenge,” Deming says.

Although Deming is not directly involved this year, several others from the UA College of Humanities are part of Humanities Week from Oct. 13-17. Faculty will deliver talks heavily focused on women and gender issues. Topics range from the femininity of Japanese Harajuku girls to images of cosmopolitan women during the German Weimar Republic. For more information on Humanities Week, click here.

Editor: dougcarrollWriter: Candice ChildressByline: Candice Childress Byline Affiliation: College of Social and Behavioral SciencesHeader image: YesNo Image: Subheading: Her new essay compilation, "Zoologies: On Animals and the Human Spirit," is already getting positive reviews for the UA author and creative writing professor.Include in UANow: yesInclude in Olympic Coverage: noFeature on Olympic Page: noUANow Image: 

Barney Frank to Speak at UA College of Law

Fri, 10/10/2014 - 17:44

"Why We Need More Government and How We Can Pay for It" will be the subject of the 2014 McCormick Lecture to be given by former U.S. Rep. Barney Frank at 5:30 p.m. Oct. 16 at the James E. Rogers College of Law on the University of Arizona campus. 

The event, hosted by the J. Byron McCormick Society for Law and Public Affairs, is free and open to the public. Space is limited, and registration is required at 

Frank served as a congressman from Massachusetts for more than three decades, starting in 1981. An outspoken and respected legislator known for his keen sense of humor, Frank played a key role in some of the most important legislation of the country's recent history, including the repeal in 2011 of "don't ask, don't tell," the official U.S. policy on service by gays and lesbians in the military instituted by the Clinton administration in 1994.

As chair of the House Financial Services Committee from 2007 to 2011, Frank helped craft the compromise bill to slow the tide of home mortgage foreclosures in the wake of the subprime mortgage crisis, as well as the subsequent $550 billion rescue plan and the landmark Dodd-Frank Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act — the sweeping set of regulatory reforms named partly after Frank and signed into law in July 2010, to prevent the recurrence of the financial crisis.

Frank also led the passage of the Credit Cardholders' Bill of Rights Act, a measure lauded by consumer advocates, and fought to preserve affordable rental housing, as well as to reduce military spending in favor of providing for important quality-of-life needs at home.

Frank graduated from Harvard University in 1962 and went on to pursue a Ph.D. He left before completing the degree to take a position as chief assistant to Boston Mayor Kevin White in 1968. Frank won a seat in the Massachusetts Legislature in 1972 and went on to become a national leader of the LGBT rights movement, introducing the state's first two gay-rights bills in 1973.

Priority seating in Ares Auditorium is available for members of the McCormick Society, invited guests and law students with confirmed reservations. An informal reception will follow Frank's talk, which is scheduled for one hour.

Byline Affiliation: University Relations - CommunicationsWhat: Barney Frank lecture, "Why We Need More Government and How We Can Pay for It"Where: Ares Auditorium, James E. Rogers College of Law, 1201 E. Speedway Blvd.When: 5:30-6:30 p.m. Oct. 16Header image: YesNo Image: Subheading: Longtime Massachusetts congressman played a key role in some of the country's most important legislation of the past 10 years.Include in UANow: 0Include in Olympic Coverage: noFeature on Olympic Page: no

What's the Future of International Higher Ed?

Fri, 10/10/2014 - 15:37

Technology and student exchanges are key to the future of international higher education, according to education, government and industry representatives who met at last week at a UA-hosted conference.

The University of Arizona Office of Global Initiatives hosted the 16th Consortium for North American Higher Education Collaboration Conference Oct. 8-10 to identify ways higher education institutions, governments and businesses can work together to address global challenges.

Also known as CONAHEC, the consortium is a nonprofit network of approximately 180 higher-education institutions from the United States, Canada and Mexico, as well as a select group of institutions from around the world. Its mission is to foster academic collaboration among institutions, organizations and agencies of higher education in Canada, Mexico and the United States. CONAHEC also promotes linkages between North America and higher-education entities around the world.

"My view is the conference went really well," said Mike Proctor, UA vice president for global initiatives. "There's really an awakening of the importance of global relationships in higher education. There's much more sustenance taking place now. Governments are mostly working with higher education to facilitate interactions. This conference was a great expression of that."

The conference coincided with the CONAHEC's 20th year of operation, and the next 20 years of international higher education was a big focus of many discussions.

On Friday, a panel of representatives from organizations in the United States, Mexico and Canada discussed their thoughts on the future of higher education during the conference's closing plenary session.

"We all know we live in a rapidly globalizing world," said Maurits van Rooijen, president of the Compostela Group of Universities, a nonprofit organization based in Spain that promotes and executes collaborations between higher-education institutions around the world. "Higher education, with simple common sense, cannot be immune to globalization. ... On the contrary, we should not want to be immune to that. We should be at the cutting edge of it."

Van Rooijen emphasized that collaborations among universities across the globe will be necessary to help students succeed.

"A major theme, obviously, for the next 20 years plus is globalization," he said. "It's not a fashion, it's not something which will pass by. Higher education and globalization will have to have direct interaction if we as educators want to stay relevant to what is happening in the world. ... Together, we are stronger than as individual institutions."

John E. Fowler, assistant director of the State University of New York Center for Collaborative Online Learning, said that student exchange programs still prove to be the most common way for institutions to encourage their students to get international experience, although improving access to such programs will be key in the future.

"As we've heard throughout the couple of days here, study abroad remains the flagship activity that we go about to bring those international perspectives to our students," Fowler said. "The vast majority of our students do not get such an experience. ... We also look towards bringing international students onto our campuses to internationalize our campus environment, but we all know there's challenge inherent in getting them to interact on a deep level with our local student populations."

In addition to study-abroad programs, technology also will prove crucial to helping students secure such experiences.

"I feel quite strongly that the influences of technology on how we deliver education – how we deliver international education – is still in its infancy," he said. "We think, as we look forward to the next 20 years, that technology can really be a transformative power in the way we deliver international education to our students."

Editor: dougcarrollByline: Amanda BallardByline Affiliation: University Relations - CommunicationsHeader image: YesNo Image: Subheading: Last week, the UA Office of Global Initiatives hosted the 16th Consortium for North American Higher Education Collaboration Conference to identify ways for higher-education institutions, government and business to address global challenges.Include in UANow: 0Include in Olympic Coverage: noFeature on Olympic Page: noUANow Image: 

UA Tech Park Celebrates 20 Years, Looks to Future

Thu, 10/09/2014 - 19:06

A rich history that includes the late billionaire Howard Hughes and software giant Microsoft was celebrated recently by the UA Tech Park, but the focus of the sprawling site on Tucson's southeast side remains squarely on the future.

What began in 1994 with a regional economic development mission has since turned its attention to facilitating the testing, evaluation and demonstration of new technologies. In 2013, with the initiation of Tech Launch Arizona to enhance the University of Arizona's technology commercialization efforts, the Office of University Research Parks was renamed Tech Parks Arizona and incorporated as a component of TLA.

It's a different place from years ago, when the land at Interstate 10 and Rita Road was purchased from IBM (which had acquired it from the Hughes estate) and Microsoft was an early tenant. But in the last 10 years, Tech Parks Arizona has incubated almost 100 companies, and its associate vice president, Bruce Wright, says to expect that pace to accelerate.

In the wake of the Tech Park's recent 20th anniversary celebration, Wright put the past and future in perspective.

What has been the highlight of Tech Park's first 20 years?

"We have played an important role in advancing technology and commercialization. The tech parks have been a major regional employment center and contributed significantly to the local economy."

What excites you most about what's happening now?

"We're aligned with the University's Never Settle plan and initiatives, and we're integrated well with Tech Launch Arizona and its road map. We're aggressively trying to recruit in six key areas: advanced energy, both renewable and solar; agriculture, arid lands and water technology; biosciences, including medical dignostics and devices; defense and security, including border and homeland technology; intelligent transportation systems and smart vehicles; and mining technology, analytics and chemistry.

"Cutting across those are some larger themes: imaging, big data, sustainability and advanced manufacturing. There's an intersection, and you find areas where we have identifiable research strengths."

If you had to give an "elevator speech" for the tech parks, what would it be?

"We have really evolved around product development, and we offer that as a value proposition to companies and also to our faculty and students. We say to companies that we've created 'interactive ground.' We offer market access to the Mountain West, the ability to advance through product development, and a connection to the University and its research enterprise."

Editor: dougcarrollByline Affiliation: University Relations - CommunicationsHeader image: YesNo Image: Subheading: 'Interactive ground' has been created, says its associate vice president, and incubation and product development will grow from that soil.Include in UANow: 0Include in Olympic Coverage: noFeature on Olympic Page: no

Student Leaders Hosting Early Polling Station at UA

Thu, 10/09/2014 - 14:10

Students and employees will be able to cast their ballots for the 2014 general election on campus — and in advance of election day on Nov. 4.

The Associated Students of the University of Arizona is collaborating with Pima County to host an early voting site on the third floor of the Student Union Memorial Center, 1303 E. University Blvd. Open to voters in any district, the polling station will be in Room 325W through Oct. 31, operating from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m.

Voters will also be able to drop off mail-in ballots at the polling station.

"The early voting polling site in ASUA is the final piece of our efforts to engage our students, campus and community," said Issac Ortega, president of ASUA and an Eller College of Management student. "We have been hard at work registering the public on campus and providing opportunities for the community to hear from candidates themselves. Now we invite everyone to walk through our doors and exercise their right to vote."

The availability of the polling station is part of ASUA's "Our Voice, Our Vote 2014," a campaign focusing on voter registration, education and mobilization.

"It is extremely important to get people out to vote because the candidates we select represent us and make decisions that directly affect our communities," said Hannah N. Sager, an Eller College student and presidential chief of staff for ASUA.

"At ASUA, we are charged with the task of representing student voices, and putting an early voting site on campus allows us to do just that," Sager said.

For more information about the early voting site, call ASUA at 520-621-2782.

For more information about the election, visit the Pima County Elections Department site.

Editor: dougcarrollByline Affiliation: University Relations - CommunicationsHeader image: YesNo Image: Subheading: An early voting site on the third floor of the Student Union Memorial Center will be available to students and employees through Oct. 31. Include in UANow: yesInclude in Olympic Coverage: noFeature on Olympic Page: no

UA on Collaboration's Cutting Edge

Wed, 10/08/2014 - 19:09

Two events this week, one in Mexico and the other in Arizona, brought into sharp focus the University of Arizona’s efforts at the vanguard of cross-border collaboration.

The Arizona State Trade and Investment Office opened in Mexico City on Tuesday, symbolic of a renewed commitment to help businesses on either side of the border tap into new markets.

An Arizona delegation, which spent three days with Mexican business and government officials as part of the occasion, included Teri Lucie Thompson, the UA’s senior vice president for university relations and chief marketing officer, and Kim Sabow, the University’s assistant vice president for state relations. The state’s expertise in advanced education, bioscience and aerospace — all strengths of the UA — was mentioned prominently.

Also this week, representatives from higher education, government and industry agencies across the United States, Mexico and Canada convened Wednesday in Tucson to discuss collaboration opportunities as part of the 16th Consortium for North American Higher Education Collaboration Conference, hosted by the UA Office of Global Initatives. "The Next 20: Pathways, Partners, Paradigms," which runs through Friday, will focus on how to address global challenges.

"The culture ... of this region is about solving problems," said Mike Proctor, UA vice president for global initiatives. "We have representatives from Saskatchewan to San Luis Potosí and a little bit further from both directions. Sonora is right in the middle. It's an appropriate place to be for the Consortium for North American Higher Education Collaboration."

The Consortium for North American Higher Education Collaboration, known as CONAHEC, is a nonprofit network of approximately 180 higher-education institutions from North America, as well as a select group of institutions from around the world.

“We're delighted this event is associated with the University," said UA Provost Andrew Comrie. "We have deep ties (with Mexico). Our relationship with CONAHEC really shows how we want to connect that all the way across the continent, from Canada all the way down through Mexico."

Tucson Mayor Jonathan Rothschild attended CONAHEC's welcome reception and discussed the importance of the UA forming close-knit international collaborations.

"As the world becomes more economically integrated and interdependent, it makes sense that our institutions of higher learning become more integrated and interdependent, and more focused on the skills and knowledge required in a global economy," he said.

"It has been my observation, particularly through the University, that colleges and universities are working more closely than ever with industry and with each other to ensure the technical skills they are teaching are what's needed in the workplace. “The University, its discoveries and the spin-off companies they create are major assets for our community. ... Working together, we have a lot to offer — not only each other, but the world — as a border-manufacturing region."

During this week's conference, participants will network and set the agenda for the future of higher-education collaboration in North America. They also will examine ways that partnerships among higher education, government and the business sector can be formed to address international issues — from preparing future citizens and workforce professionals for a more globalized world to addressing grand challenges and promoting sustainability.

The UA has worked recently on several projects that promote cross-border collaboration with Mexico.

According to data provided by the UA Office of Global Initiatives, the University had 43 sponsored Mexico-related research projects and five study-abroad programs in Mexico in 2013. During the 2012-13 fiscal year, the UA hosted 96 visiting faculty and scholars and 149 students from Mexico.

Through the UA Office of Early Academic Outreach in Santa Cruz County, the UA has partnerships with the Nogales manufacturing community. In addition, the Bi-National Consortium on Shared Arid Lands was launched in April 2013 between the UA and Mexico’s National University. The mission is to improve the wellbeing of the people of the Southwestern United States and Northwestern Mexico through fundamental research and education on dry land sustainability and adaptation.

The UA Department of Astronomy and Steward Observatory has worked with astronomy groups at the Instituto Nacional de Astronomia, Optica y Electronica, located in Puebla, Mexico, and the Instituto de Astronomia, Universidad Nacional Autonomia de Mexico, based in Mexico City, to construct a 6.5-meter infrared telescope located at the San Pedro Martir site operated in Baja California.

The UA has had a satellite office in Mexico City since 2007. The office was established to help encourage collaboration between the UA and businesses in Mexico as part of the Office of Western Hemispheric Programs, also established in 2007 and dedicated to identifying collaborative opportunities between the University and agencies in Canada, Mexico and Latin America.

The state first opened a trade office in Mexico City in 1992. In 2000, the office was moved to Guadalajara, where it remained for 11 years before closing. Arizona has maintained a joint office in Hermosillo with the Arizona-Mexico Commission, and that will remain open.

Trade between the United States and Mexico generated more than $760 in imports and exports last year, including $14 billion between Arizona and Mexico.

Reports from UANews staff, The Arizona Republic and the Associated Press contributed to this story.

Editor: dougcarrollByline Affiliation: University Relations - CommunicationsHeader image: YesNo Image: Subheading: Opening of Arizona trade office in Mexico City and meeting of North American institutions in Tucson underscore University's strengths.Include in UANow: yesInclude in Olympic Coverage: noFeature on Olympic Page: noUANow Image: 

A Main Event for Campus Icon Old Main

Wed, 10/08/2014 - 18:34

Old Main, the University of Arizona building with arguably the longest-standing and fondest memories of resilience and love, was officially reintroduced during a formal ceremony held Wednesday on its steps.

UA students and employees, community members, elected officials and Arizona Board of Regents members attended a celebration event and ribbon cutting, culminating with a tour of the building — consistently described as the center of the UA universe. 

In restoring Old Main, which had fallen into extreme disrepair and was at risk of being lost, the University preserved a visible symbol of its heritage and strength, said UA President Ann Weaver Hart.

"This is such a wonderful thing to be here together," Hart told the crowd. "We are extremely grateful that this building is here. I want to tell you to be sure to come back here and make it more and more a part of your life."

The celebration included a traditional tribal blessing led by Austin Nunez, chairman of the San Xavier District and a member of the UA president's Native American Community Council. With the celebration event held on the east side of the building, Nunez said that was compatible with Tohono O'odham traditions.

"It's significant to the O'odham," Nunez said. "We welcome the sun and the light that comes into our house for the day."

Old Main represents the University's own daybreak, a sign of its origins and impact.

"Old Main is probably one of the most gorgeous buildings I have seen in my entire life," said Issac Ortega, president of the Associated Students of the University of Arizona. "Old Main pretty much represents all of us."

During the event and subsequent tour of Old Main, visitors learned about the architecture and renovation and also that the 123-year-old building is the keeper of innumerable stories, said Melinda Burke, the UA Alumni Association president and vice president for alumni relations.

The building was the first at the UA — and also the first in the Arizona state university system. It has provided space for classrooms, campus tours, a photo darkroom, numerous campus offices, the first home of what is now the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences, and the crowning of the homecoming king and queen.

"There are thousands of stories of Old Main," Burke said, adding that the building, given its history and continued significance, is a central part of the alumni experience. "This is truly where our alumni were born."

Turning to Hart, Burke said: "It is so wonderful what you are doing here. I know future generations will continue to sit on these steps and create their own memories of Old Main."

Once dilapidated and worn, Old Main's two-level veranda, its dressed-stone foundation, its brick columns and its iconic metal roof have been replicated with modern materials or fully restored. The upgrade is the most comprehensive in its history.

Also, the building's central cruciform hallway and restored-height ceilings are roomier and mark a return to the elegance of the original design by James Creighton, Old Main's first architect. Today, the cruciform gallery houses a public exhibition space, showcasing artwork and artifacts from museums across campus.  

In keeping with its original territorial architectural design, the building's upgraded features include sustainable and technological improvements that will enable Old Main to serve the campus for generations to come. The building is now designed to be 10 percent more energy efficient than the baseline for a project of this type, and it currently meets the LEED certification standards of the U.S. Green Building Council.

The approximate cost of the project was $13.5 million, of which about $3 million in funds have been raised, said James H. Moore Jr., the UA Foundation president. Donations may be made online, via the UA Foundation's site.

"Our donors support this building because it is a symbol of the UA experience," Moore said. "We stood before you one year ago and said we would save Old Main. Today's Old Main stands as a tribute to the UA's past and is a testament to its future."

Editor: dougcarrollByline Affiliation: University Relations - CommunicationsExtra Info: 

Members of the campus and community at large are encouraged to share photos and stories of Old Main via #OldMainUA on Twitter. Photos and stories also can be shared via email for an opportunity to be included in a spotlight.


Related coverage:

Header image: YesNo Image: Subheading: Celebration and ribbon cutting formally reintroduce the newly renovated, 123-year-old building to the UA and community. Include in UANow: yesInclude in Olympic Coverage: noFeature on Olympic Page: noUANow Image: 

UA Planetary Scientists, Japanese to Trade Hard-Rock Stories

Wed, 10/08/2014 - 17:44

In the fall of 2016, an Atlas-V rocket will pierce through the atmosphere and leave Earth's gravity behind. After the engine has burned up its fuel, the nose faring will open to release its payload, the space probe OSIRIS-REx.

Silently, the robotic explorer will slip into the cold void of space, unfold its solar panels and embark on a two-year journey into deep space to find its destination: Bennu, a slowly rotating space rock about a third of a mile in diameter cruising around the sun somewhere between Earth and Mars.

On its lonely trip to the asteroid, OSIRIS-REx won't be alone. Hundreds of millions of miles away, another automated explorer sent from Earth will be hovering above the surface of 1999JU3, another space rock of similar size and type as Bennu. That spacecraft, named Hayabusa2, is set to launch in November this year. 

The University of Arizona leads the OSIRIS-REx mission under a contract with NASA, while Hayabusa2 is led by the Institute of Space and Astronautical Science of the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency, known as ISAS and JAXA. Both missions are designed to bring back samples from their targets, primitive carbonaceous asteroids that are thought to contain organic matter and water and hold valuable clues to the formation of the solar system and the origin of life-seeding molecules on Earth.

"Both spacecraft will venture into far-away and unknown territory, and for the most part, they will be on their own," said Dante Lauretta, principal investigator of the OSIRIS-REx mission and professor in the UA Lunar and Planetary Laboratory. "But when you're out there, it's good to know you're not alone and you can depend on each other."

On Oct. 3, a team led by ISAS Director General Saku Tsuneta visited the UA to explore opportunities for collaboration on asteroid sample return missions led by Japan and the United States. The meeting included Masaki Fujimoto, ISAS director of solar system exploration, as well as Shogo Tachibana and Harold Connolly, the scientists who oversee the sampling process and curation for Hayabusa2 and OSIRIS-REx, respectively.

During a meeting with UA President Ann Weaver Hart, representatives of both space missions discussed opportunities to engage students from many different backgrounds — not only in the STEM fields but also in business, the arts and communications — as well as the general public.

"Both NASA and JAXA share a keen interest in opportunities for future scientific collaboration," Lauretta said. "It's a great opportunity because operations for both missions will go on simultaneously."

JAXA's Hayabusa2 is the successor of the Hayabusa mission, the first asteroid sample return mission ever undertaken. Hayabusa touched down on asteroid Itokawa in late 2005. Despite a few nail-biting moments caused by unforeseen events at the asteroid that were brilliantly solved by engineers and scientists, Hayabusa managed to capture sample particles and return them to Earth in 2010.

"I'm a huge fan of the Hayabusa mission," Lauretta said. "We learned an enormous amount from that mission —it changed our whole perspective on OSIRIS-REx. Our Japanese colleagues helped themselves to plan Hayabusa2 and to reduce the risk and the challenges of that mission, but they helped us without even realizing it. We studied their mission intently, we studied their asteroid, their processes and procedures, we took away the best, and we improved areas where we thought we could reduce risk even more. In many ways it fed into the success of our mission, and I'm very thankful for the pioneering work that they did."

In addition to hosting members of each other's mission teams, NASA and JAXA plan to exchange fractions of the samples collected by the two spacecraft.

"Our scientific objectives are quite similar," Tachibana said. "We want to get samples that record a long history of our solar system, from its beginning to its present state. At the same time, we hope our target asteroids have some degree of difference from each other. Being able to make a comparison between the two and obtaining two samples at about the same time are quite important in learning about the processes in the solar system. We want to know: What is common? What is unusual? What is unique?"

"I think this is just the starting point," Tsuneta said. "We have a very close collaboration between Hayabusa2 and OSIRIS-REx, both huge undertakings. In this economical situation, one country cannot do everything usually. This meeting is not a single event, it is the basis for future collaboration."

According to Lauretta, the two missions have enjoyed a shared sense of adventure rather than a rivalry.

"I celebrate every mission that goes out into deep space to explore the solar system," he said. "Space is a really big place. There is more than enough room for everybody."

Lauretta pointed out that the scientific return from two missions is more than the two combined.

"It's quadruple or higher, because all of a sudden, you get to do cross-comparisons and intellectual activities that wouldn't be permitted with a single mission," he said. "Working together makes both our missions better."

Editor: dougcarrollWriter: Daniel StolteByline: Daniel StolteByline Affiliation: University Relations - CommunicationsHeader image: YesNo Image: Subheading: Representatives of the Hayabusa2 asteroid sample return mission visited the UA to meet with their colleagues on OSIRIS-REx and explore how the two projects can benefit each other.Include in UANow: yesInclude in Olympic Coverage: noFeature on Olympic Page: noUANow Image: 

To-Do List for Visitors During Family Weekend

Wed, 10/08/2014 - 11:57

Photo credit: Patrick McArdle/UANews

Families from everywhere nation will convene at the University of Arizona for Family Weekend, a three-day celebration of Wildcat pride that gets kicked off on Friday.

The Family Weekend calendar is full of must-do events, including a golf tournament, a chili cook-off, educational programming, fitness classes, a pep rally and, of course, the Wildcats' football game against the University of Southern California on Saturday night.

For those who may have planned an extended stay, here's a short list of things to do – on and beyond campus:

For the Culture Hounds

The UA's newly renovated Old Main reopened at the start of the academic year. Be sure to check out the exhibition space on the second floor, which includes artwork and artifacts from the Arizona State Museum, the UA Museum of Art, the Center for Creative Photography, the Mineral Museum and UA Special Collections.

Photo credit: Ken Sterns

For the Sports/Outdoorsy Types

Two popular inner-city spots with UA ties are Tumamoc Hill and Sentinel Peak, commonly known as "A" Mountain.

Photo credit: FJ Gaylor

Nearly 100 years ago, UA football fans whitewashed an "A" on the side of the mountain. Today, the site is a popular place from which to view the city, day or night.

Tumamoc Hill is an important landmark for scientific research, as well as an archeological and historical site. The hill also is a popular hiking destination, offering a three-mile round-trip hike and a near-360-degree view of Tucson and surrounding areas.

Photo credit: Norma Jean Gargasz/UANews

For the Food Lovers

Visiting Tucson pretty well requires that you eat a Sonoran hot dog at a local restaurant or hot dog stand.

Photo credit: Maiden D'Shade

For a more diverse range of foods, including vegan, vegetarian and locally-sourced food items, visit Tucson Meet Yourself, an annual festival celebrating the culture, food, tradition and arts of southern Arizona and northern Mexico. Founded more than four decades ago by UA folklorist and anthropologist James "Big Jim" Griffith, the event is organized and supported by many UA employees and also local artists, performers, organizations and businesses. While you're there, check out the many new additions to the downtown.

Photo courtesy of Tucson Meet Yourself

Also, be sure to check out restaurants opened and owned by UA alumni, including Frost Gelato and Barrio Bread Company.

For the Intellectual Types

If you are looking for a road trip, take a scenic drive up Mount Lemmon. In addition to the many trails and the small town of Summerhaven, you will find the Mt. Lemmon SkyCenter, which offers programming for people of all ages.

Another road-trip candidate is the Boyce Thompson Arboretum, a museum of living plants. The arboretum, which the UA helps to manage, is hosting a number of educational events, including its Fall Plant Sale, desert walks, workshops, lectures and more. Talk about perfect timing: Beginning Oct. 11, UA students and employees carrying a CatCard, or another form of University identification, won't have to pay the usual entrance fee to gain admission.

A trip closer to home involves visiting Biosphere 2 and Kitt Peak, two essential laboratories for UA scientific research. In 2009, the UA's Biosphere 2 made the Life Books list of one of the "50 Must-See Natural and Man-made Marvels," alongside other structures that include the Eiffel Tower, Sydney Opera House and the Hubble Telescope.

To learn more about Family Weekend, visit the UA's aggregate social site.

Photo credit: Patrick McArdle/UANews

Categories: Campus NewsThis is a Wildcat Corner feature: Images: Tags: EducationOutreachThe ArtsByline: University Relations - Communications |Editor: dougcarrollInclude in UANow: 0Date of Publication: Wednesday, October 8, 2014Medium Summary: For those visiting the UA for Family Weekend who might be on an extended stay, check out these things to do when you wrap up campus festivities.Feature on Front: NoShort Summary: For those visiting the UA for Family Weekend who might be on an extended stay, check out these things to do when you wrap up campus festivities. Send to Never Settle Site: 0

Football Game, Events Mark UA's Family Weekend

Wed, 10/08/2014 - 11:51

Thousands of University of Arizona students will show off their campus, and Wildcat spirit, when their parents and families visit for an annual event held this week.

Family Weekend brings families together to enjoy in the school spirit of the University, with dozens of social events planned. 

Also, the University on Oct. 9 will launch an aggregate site that will house information about Family Weekend. Students, families and other visitors are encouraged to share their photos and stories using #UAfamily.

During Family Weekend, the Wildcats will take on USC at Arizona Stadium. The Oct. 11 football game will begin at 7:30 p.m. and will be broadcast on ESPN2.

Arizona is 5-0 for the first time since 1998.

Also, the Wildcats this week ranked in the Associated Press Top 25 list for the first time since 2012, placing at No. 10. With the upset of No. 2 Oregon last week, the UA has defeated an Associated Press Top 25 team seven times since 2005, and in three straight seasons now under head coach Rich Rodriguez. Also, Arizona is one win shy of achieving bowl eligibility for the sixth time in the last seven seasons.

Other events planned for Family Weekend include: the Parents & Family Association's annual golf tournament, a fundraising event that will this year support the UA's Think Tank; Bear Down Friday, a pep rally to be held on Main Gate Square, which includes free entertinament, games and specials; the Bear Down Bash, a family-friendly carnival featuring a zip-line, bungee, trampoline and rock climbing wall; and the Wildcat World Fair and Expo, a fundraiser for UA student-led clubs and organizations. All event details are available online.

Also, a number of educational and informative events have been planned, including:

Oct. 10

  • Tours will be provided of the Laboratory of Tree-Ring from 9 a.m. to noon at the Bryant Bannister Tree Ring Building. Visitors will have a chance to see and learn about some of the oldest trees in the world and also engage in a number of hands-on activities.
  • The Writing Program will host its National Day on Writing event tent at the Alumni Plaza, located south of the UA Administration Building. The 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. event will include giant Bananagrams and magnetic poetry boards.
  • Wet UA Department of Astronomy is hosting a stargazing event at the Steward Observatory 7-10:30 p.m. Visitors will be able to view Mars, Uranus, Neptune, the stars, nebulae and galaxies through the 21-inch Raymond E. White, Jr. Telescope in the historic Steward Observatory dome.

Oct. 11

  • Outdoor Adventures will be hosting a bird watching hike at 8 a.m. The hike is an opportunity to learn about how Southern Arizona is at the crossroads of a huge variety of environments and climates, and is one of the best locations in the world for bird watching. The hike costs $45 for students and $55 for others. Additional information is available online.

Oct. 12

  • Visitors will be able to learn how to properly zip down a zip line in this challengee course on the proper use of harnesses and helmets, and also techniques like walking on wires and climbing up cargo nets. The 10 a.m. class costs $30, and the class will be held at the Rincon Vista Sports Complex, 2300 E. 15th St. More information is available by contacting Kate McHugh, the Outdoor Advenatures program coordinator, at 520-621-4443 or
Editor: dougcarrollByline Affiliation: University Relations - CommunicationsWhat: Family Weekend Where: Various locationsWhen: Oct. 10-12Extra Info: 

More information about Family Weekend is available online:


Also, students, families and other visitors are encouraged to share their photos and stories using #UAfamily.

Header image: YesNo Image: Subheading: In addition to the football game against USC and numerous social events, Family Weekend features a number of events designed to educate, inform and engage visitors. Include in UANow: 0Include in Olympic Coverage: noFeature on Olympic Page: noUANow Image: 

The Role of Religion and Secularism in Public, Political Spheres

Tue, 10/07/2014 - 15:21

Consider the emergence and growth of ISIS, clashes in India's Gujarat state and the Supreme Court ruling on Abercrombie & Fitch's "religious bias" over the hijab — all recent headlines conjoining religion and culture.

The importance of studying these topics grows from distinct situations on many continents, from the post-9/11 politics of religion and "civilizational clashes" in North America to the status of Muslim immigrants in the European Union.

Equally important is the question of religion and citizenship after the Arab Spring protests in Israel, Palestine and the Middle East, which recently led to the unexpected formation of the Islamic State, or the evolving place of Confucianism and Buddhism in the wake of Chinese economic expansion.

Housed at the University of Arizona, RelSec (Religion, Secularism and Political Belonging) is contributing to scholarship on the changing status of religion and secularism by examining their relationship to political belonging in a global age.

Political belonging is an especially valuable entry point into the religion/secularism debates. Why? Because it happens on many different scales: at very local social commitments, including family, kinship networks or subcultures; around grand nation-building projects; among complex international scripture-reading communities; and also in digital social networks that engage in politicized religion.

RelSec's aim is to establish a global frame for translocal study, using the question of political belonging to stoke discussion of the stakes of religion and secularism across geography and governments.

RelSec brings American and European scholars into a sorely needed dialogue with scholars from the Middle East, China and other parts of the world.

It was 14 months ago that English scholar Lee Medovoi and his family left the forests and rain of Portland, Oregon, for Tucson — and only a slight change in climate.

The UA English department brought on Medovoi as its new department head, tasking him to strengthen an already successful department. In the short span of a year, he has forged scholarly partnerships with faculty from more than a dozen UA departments and programs. And, with him, Medovoi brought a $250,000 Mellon/CHCI grant to fund RelSec, his ambitious transdisciplinary project.

RelSec brings together researchers from around the world to examine the global resurgence of religion in the public sphere and a related sense of secularism's increasing fragility.

Scholars from Tel Aviv, Utrecht, Hong Kong and the United States join the diverse team from the UA. Medovoi collaborates in Tucson with Karen Seat, an associate professor and director of the Religious Studies Program; Peter Foley, an associate professor and director of the Institute for the Study of Religion and Culture; and numerous other faculty members representing disciplines in the social sciences and humanities.

Since its inception, RelSec has brought close to one dozen internationally distinguished academics to Tucson, representing a host of different disciplines, including gender and sexuality studies, religious studies, history, Romantic and Postcolonial literary studies, and philosophy. Recently, Faisal Devji, director of the Centre for Asian Studies at Oxford University, presented on the global war on terror, fielding questions on the rise of ISIS.

This month, RelSec is hosting a series of events:

Oct. 15: Timothy Brennan, a professor of cultural studies, comparative literature and English at the University of Minnesota, will speak in the Kiva Room of the Student Union on the topic of "Secular Spirit." The 1-3 p.m. talk is free and open to the public.

Oct. 16: Brennan also will hold a workshop on his most recent book, "Borrowed Light: Vico, Hegel, and the Colonies," published this year. The 10 a.m.-noon event also will be held in the Kiva Room.

Oct. 24: Eric Santner, the Philip and Ida Romberg Distinguished Professor in Modern Germanic Studies at the University of Chicago, will hold a workshop on selections from his most recent book, "The Royal Remains," published in 2011. The 10 a.m.-noon event will be held in Room 451 of the Modern Languages Building. Santner will deliver a public lecture, “The Weight of All Flesh: On the Subject of Political Economy,” from 3-5 p.m. in the Ventana Room of the Student Union. Santner's research focuses on the intersection of literature, philosophy, psychoanalysis, political theory and religious thought. He has taught at Princeton and been a visiting fellow at various institutions, including Dartmouth, Washington University, Cornell and the University of Konstanz.

Categories: Campus NewsSocial Sciences and EducationThis is a Wildcat Corner feature: Images: Tags: Guest PostAcademicsResearchEducationOutreachByline: Lee Medovoi and Peter Nicholas Figler, UA Department of English |Editor: dougcarrollInclude in UANow: yesDate of Publication: Friday, October 10, 2014Medium Summary: Housed at the UA, and with events planned this month, the RelSec project involves researchers from around the world on scholarly discussions about the role of religion and secularism in the public sphere.Feature on Front: YesShort Summary: The RelSec project at the UA engages scholars around the world in discussions about the role of religion and secularism. Send to Never Settle Site: 0

High Drama, Comedy at UA's Marroney Theatre

Fri, 10/03/2014 - 13:41
Date of Publication: Wednesday, October 8, 2014

Health, Wellness Practices Highlighted by Chinese Culture Festival

Fri, 10/03/2014 - 13:15

The recent Chinese Culture Festival, organized by the Confucius Institute at the University of Arizona, featured lectures and workshops on acupuncture and food therapy by clinicians and researchers from Beijing University of Chinese Medicine and Henan University of Traditional Chinese Medicine.

The lecture series was attended by Andrew Comrie, the UA's senior vice president and provost; Iman Hakim, dean of the Mel and Enid Zuckerman College of Public Health; and Weiheng Chen from the consulate general of the People’s Republic of China in Los Angeles.

The third annual festival opened with Confucius Institute Day at the Tucson Chinese Cultural Center, which attracted more than 1,000 K-12 students and their parents, along with community members.

During the festival, faculty from the UA Department of East Asian Studies presented lectures on Confucius, Chinese public time-telling and Yellow River civilizations. An “Evening With Chinese Music” concert at Crowder Hall concluded the festival, with performances by Chinese musicians, the UA Purple Bamboo Ensemble and the Tucson Sino Choir.

The National Committee on U.S.-China Relations, in collaboration with the Carter Center, will conduct the eighth annual "China Town Hall: Local Connections, National Reflections" program. A live webcast and Q&A with former U.S. President Jimmy Carter will take place at 4 p.m. Oct. 16 in Chavez 111, to be followed at 5 by a lecture by Rian Thum, author of "The Sacred Routes of Uyghur History."       

Editor: dougcarrollByline Affiliation: University Relations - CommunicationsHeader image: YesNo Image: Subheading: Lectures, workshops, music part of third annual event of the UA's Confucius Institute.Include in UANow: 0Include in Olympic Coverage: noFeature on Olympic Page: noUANow Image: 

Biodiversity Is More Than Just a Numbers Game

Fri, 10/03/2014 - 13:09

Ever since the exploits of the European explorers and naturalists of the 17th and 18th centuries revealed a stunningly rich biodiversity in the tropics compared to the temperate regions of the world, biologists have wracked their brains over what causes this diversity. A research effort led by University of Arizona ecologists has now unearthed unexpected answers and helped found a new discipline — functional biogeography — in the process.

While the sheer number of species that live in rainforests and other tropical habitats is larger than farther north or south, it turns out that when taking into account their functions — in other words, what species do for a living — the temperate regions actually show a greater diversity of functions.

The results of the new approach are published in a special issue of the journal PNAS. Functional biogeography is an emergent discipline focused on understanding the geographic distribution of the forms and functions — the traits — of organisms, with the goal of helping scientists and managers better predict the origin of biological diversity and how ecological communities respond to climate change.

"It has long ago been proposed that the higher species diversity in the tropics could be explained by a larger number of habitats available for the organisms living there," said Christine Lamanna and Cyrille Violle, both recent Ph.D. and postdoctoral researchers in the laboratory of Brian Enquist and the leading authors of the special issue. "While appealing, this hypothesis has not yet been tested in plants partly due to a lack of available data. Surprisingly, we found the greatest diversity of functions in the temperate regions."

Building on a unique database compiled by an international group of researchers, the Botanical Information and Ecology Network, or BIEN, analyzed data containing more than 20 million data entries of species occurrence and information about ecological functions for each species. The authors compared the diversity of functions carried out by species — as a proxy of the diversity of available habitats — in the tropics and in the temperate zones.

"Biogeography is the study of geographic distribution and history of species across the globe," explained Enquist, whose research team led the effort. "Functional biogeography does the same, but the focus is on the origin and implications of the global distribution of how organisms function.

"If we want to understand how ecosystems function, we have to go beyond cataloguing species and where they occur," said Enquist, who is one of the principal investigators of BIEN and a professor in the UA's Department of Ecology and Evolutionary Biology. "As we want to be more predictive, especially with changes in climate, land use and human needs such as agriculture and sustainable forestry, we need to know how those systems work."

Plants vary widely in their ecological strategies, he explained. Weedy species, for example, tend to produce a lot of small seeds; they grow quickly, die quickly and don't invest many resources into their leaves or other tissues.

Similarly to geneticists who no longer catalog and study individual genes but entire genomes, ecologists apply functional biography to very large spatial scales that combine large amounts of data sources describing the various traits of species.

The iPlant Collaborative, housed at the UA's BIO5 Institute, has been critical for this research, Enquist said.

Enquist's team used several big data approaches and applied them to trait data and species distribution data from all of North and South America, to make inferences about functional biodiversity from the tropics to the temperate zones. The tools and data infrastructure provided by iPlant helped the researchers to quickly collect and analyze the data.

"It wasn't until recently that we have had access to all this data on not only where species occur and what they are, but also to their traits and the ecosystems they thrive in," Enquist said. "And with new tools to analyze those large datasets, we can measure traits in large quantities — for example, wood density, seed size, how tall a plant is and so forth. All of these functional traits result from underlying genes, but they also tell us how an organism works and in what types of environments it can occur."

Using this approach, Enquist's team, which in addition to Lamanna also included Benjamin Blonder, Brad Boyle and Vanessa Buzzard, was able to go back to all the different theories put forth as to why there are more species in the tropics, and evaluate them with regard to their assumptions on functional traits.

"Our study assesses the biodiversity gradient in a completely different way," Enquist said. "We looked at the diversity of functions — in other words, what plants do — and how these traits differ as we go from species-rich to species-poor environments. What we found blew us away. The results didn't clearly match any ecological theory."

While the study revealed that temperate latitudes trump the tropics with regard to the diversity of ecological functions, the question of why more species live in the tropics remains a mystery — for now, Enquist said.

"It may be that a combination of different proposed theories that we already have can explain the latitudinal species diversity," he said, "but it is clear that we still have a long way to go to fully understand how diversity changes across broad climatic gradients."

Editor: dougcarrollWriter: Daniel StolteByline: Daniel StolteByline Affiliation: University Relations - CommunicationsHeader image: YesNo Image: Subheading: A new look at one of ecology’s unsolved puzzles — why biodiversity is higher in the tropics compared with colder regions — revealed that while this long-recognized pattern holds true for the sheer number of species, it does not for how different species make a living. Include in UANow: yesInclude in Olympic Coverage: noFeature on Olympic Page: noUANow Image: 

UA Moves Up in World University Rankings to No. 86

Wed, 10/01/2014 - 13:13

The University of Arizona is ranked No. 86 in the annual Times Higher Education World University Rankings for 2014-15, representing a jump of nearly 20 places from the previous year. The UA was ranked No. 103 among 400 universities in 2013-14.

The Times Higher Education World University Rankings are among the most comprehensive global rankings, using 13 performance indicators to examine a university’s strengths against all of its core missions — teaching, research, knowledge transfer and international outlook. This year’s rankings, released on Oct. 1, employed the same methodology used since 2011-12.

The performance indicators are grouped into five areas:

  • Teaching: the learning environment (30 percent of overall ranking score)
  • Research: volume, income and reputation (30 percent)
  • Citations: research influence (30 percent)
  • Industry income: innovation (2.5 percent)
  • International outlook: staff, students and research (7.5 percent)

"The Times Higher Education World University Rankings present a picture that reflects the scholarly excellence of our faculty and research at the University of Arizona,” UA Provost Andrew Comrie said. “It is an honor to be included among the world’s premier institutions of higher education. With our Never Settle academic and strategic plan in place, we feel that the best is yet to come.”

The UA provides competitive research and academic programs in astronomy, entrepreneurship, environmental sciences, integrative medicine, optics, tribal and indigenous law, and many other disciplines of critical importance to local and global communities.

Phil Baty, editor of the Times Higher Education World University Rankings, said: “Top-quality universities come in many different shapes and sizes, and there is no single model of excellence. With this in mind, the Times Higher Education World University Rankings are carefully designed to capture excellence in teaching and research against a university’s own mission and its own unique profile.”

View the complete results at

Editor: dougcarrollByline Affiliation: University Relations - CommunicationsHeader image: NoNo Image: Subheading: Teaching, research and citations heavily weighted in ranking of No. 86, a jump of nearly 20 places.Include in UANow: 0Include in Olympic Coverage: noFeature on Olympic Page: noUANow Image: 

Ready for a Super-Fast Internet? UA Scientists Are Fast at Work on It

Wed, 10/01/2014 - 13:12


Removing barriers along the way to a blazingly fast Internet is the declared goal of scientists at the University of Arizona College of Optical Sciences who are leading an international consortium tasked with developing new technology to make it happen.

In 2008, the National Science Foundation gave a five-year, $18.5 million grant to establish an engineering research center (ERC) that is based at the UA and united with other universities in a collaboration known as the Center for Integrated Access Networks, or CIAN.

The NSF recently approved funding for the second half of the project, totaling about $17 million, more than half of which goes to the ERC at the UA. Each year, the center also receives roughly $2 million in support from corporate sponsors and an additional $1 million from other agencies.

"Our goal with CIAN is to remove the bottleneck of the Internet so the entire network becomes more scalable," said Nasser Peyghambarian, director of the ERC and professor in the College of Optical Sciences. "In other words, more users can access it at higher speed, lower cost and lower energy consumption."

As the number increases of end users accessing the Internet with computers and mobile devices, the network has to grow, become faster or both.

"It's not going to expand indefinitely, so we have to create new technologies to be able to handle that growing demand," Peyghambarian said. 

The key to accomplishing that goal lies in developing a hybrid architecture that marries electronics and optics, and that is exactly what Peyghambarian and his colleagues are working on at the ERC.

"As an end user right now, you have to rely on electronics for the information you are trying to send or receive through the Internet," Peyghambarian explained. "Your computer and smartphone are electronic devices. They send electronic signals into the data superhighways of the Internet, and those have always been fiber-optic networks. But the optical signals are being transformed back into electronic signals at the receiving ends. The goal of CIAN is to bring optics closer and closer to the end user."

"People want more information going to their homes," added Daniel Kilper, a research professor of optical sciences and CIAN's administrative director. "Tomorrow's Internet no longer is about the information superhighway, it's more about information Main Street or information neighborhood — fiber-optics all the way to the home."

Daniel Kilper, CIAN's administrative director, explains how optical components such as tiny laser mirror arrays modulate high-speed electronic signals to create a faster Internet. (Photo: Bob Demers/UANews)  

To achieve that new kind of capability and bandwidth going to individual users, scientists and engineers have to reduce the cost and energy consumption of the photo-electronic components. One of the key technologies developed by CIAN involves arrays of miniaturized mirrors to control laser pulses that in turn modulate high-speed electronic signals, a process known as optical circuit switching.

"We develop new photonic integrated circuits using a technology called silicon photonics," Kilper said. "We can take all these bulky optical components here and put them onto a chip, and then we can start to integrate that optical chip with the electronic chip, either side by side or even potentially on the same chip to gain efficiency, reduced cost and reduced power consumption so that these devices can be mass-produced and go out to individual users.

"With today's commercially available systems you can already achieve transmission rates of 400 gigabits per second, but we're looking at a terabit and beyond," Kilper said.

The research at CIAN has garnered much industry interest, attracting 20 industry affiliates ranging from hot startups such as Calient and Bandwidth10 to industry heavyweights including Fujitsu, Texas Instruments, Intel and Samsung.

CIAN doesn't focus on the research alone but plays an important role in education at several levels. Graduate students have gone on to apply their expertise in companies working on making the faster Internet a reality. Some have founded their own companies specializing in integrated optical-electronic circuits; others have embarked on careers at other universities.

In educating students, CIAN follows the guidelines of Engineer of 2020, an initiative spearheaded by the National Academy of Engineering to equip engineering graduates with the skills and knowledge they need to succeed in emerging and future markets.

"Future graduates need to have new capabilities that go beyond engineering," Peyghambarian said. "They need to be entrepreneurs, and they have to come up with new ideas, so we train our students and put them in workshops to become entrepreneurs of the future."

In addition to its core funding, CIAN has attracted renewed and additional funding for two three-year programs bringing research experience to undergraduates (REU) and teachers (RET), with a special emphasis on minorities and underserved communities including Native Americans, Hispanics and African-Americans.

"We have been engaged in outreach to Indian reservations, where education and outreach have been received really well," Peyghambarian said. "In addition, we have a program for veteran education, funded by NSF specifically for that purpose."

"CIAN illustrates the remarkable diversity of optics and photonics applications pursued by the College of Optical Sciences," said Dean Thomas Koch. "Our college has a culture of being able to successfully meld basic research, teaching and service to industry, allowing us to offer an unparalleled educational experience for our students. Our faculty and students constantly push the boundaries of what's possible through discovery and innovations, with breakthroughs in the applications of light that impact virtually every field of science and industry."

UA's national partners in CIAN are the University of California San Diego; the University of California Los Angeles; the University of Southern California; California Institute of Technology, the University of California Berkeley; Columbia University and Cornell University in New York; Norfolk State University in Virginia; and Tuskegee University in Alabama. International partners are Aalto University in Helsinki, the University of Eastern Finland, the University of Darmstadt in Germany and the Korea Advanced Institute of Science and Technology in Daejeon, South Korea.

Editor: dougcarrollWriter: Daniel StolteByline: Daniel StolteByline Affiliation: University Relations - CommunicationsHeader image: NoNo Image: Subheading: Daniel Kilper and the College of Optical Sciences are leading an effort to develop a technology that marries electronics with optics. Include in UANow: yesInclude in Olympic Coverage: noFeature on Olympic Page: noUANow Image: 

New Digital Archive Details Challenges for Mexican Journalists, Migrants

Tue, 09/30/2014 - 17:53

An innovative, open-access archive documenting personal stories of journalists who have been silenced, and also government processes that cannot be videotaped or photographed, is being introduced at the University of Arizona.

Called "The Documented Border," the digital archive includes original border-related research material collected and curated by UA faculty along the U.S.-Mexico border, representing a unique resource for researchers, scholars and others interested in developing a deeper understanding and awareness of the border and its people.

"Although a few academic libraries have border studies archives, this project is producing a collection of material simply not found anywhere else," said Verónica Reyes-Escudero, the borderlands curator at Special Collections. The goal of the archive, she said, is to grow with new content.

An opening event and exhibition, which is free and open to the public, will be held from 6:30-8:30 p.m. Oct. 8 in Room 120 of the Integrated Learning Center, 1500 E. University Blvd., to offically launch the digital archive. Luis Alberto Urrea, a Mexican-American poet, novelist, essayist and author of the national best-seller and Pulitzer Prize finalist "The Devil's Highway," is the keynote speaker.

A book signing and reception will follow Urrea's talk at Special Collections, 1510 E. University Blvd.

In addition to Reyes-Escudero, the digital archive's contributors include Celeste González de Bustamante and Jeannine Relly of the Center for Border and Global Journalism and the School of Journalism; Lawrence Gipe of the School of Art; and Erika Castaño, a digital archivist with the UA Libraries. The yearlong collaborative project was funded by the UA's Confluencecenter for Creative Inquiry.

The exhibit, which opened Oct. 3 and will be on display through Dec. 19, and the digital archive will incorporate art, oral history, media testimonies and archival preservation along the border.

The publicly available digital archive — from which the sketches and audio in the physical exhibit were selected —includes original research material donated to Special Collections by González de Bustamante, Relly and Gipe. Initial contributions include more than 35 interviews with journalists and human-rights activists who cover northern Mexico and who report under threats of violence, an environment that has led to self-censorship.

In the study, "Silencing Mexico: A Study of Influences on Journalists in the Northern States," published in November 2013, Relly and González de Bustamante found that many Mexican journalists face a daily fear of intimidation threats and assassinations, ranking Mexico as one of the most dangerous places in the world for reporters to work.

"They are witnesses to activities and uncovering information that these groups do not want to be made public," Relly said after the study was published in the International Journal of Press/Politics. "And that's one of the reasons that they've become targets." 

The UA School of Journalism has launched several programs and initiatives to help build relationships with Mexican universities and to encourage the field of journalism south of the border. Efforts include sharing syllabi, organizing club activities and working on collaborative reporting, published by media such as the Border Journalism Network, a website that features students' multimedia news projects about the border.

Also, the new digital archive includes a collection of 32 sketches of migrants being processed in accelerated Operation Streamline court proceedings. As photography is prohibited in federal court, these sketches are perhaps the only visual representation of the people involved in these proceedings.

In addition to the research material, the exhibit includes archival material selected from Special Collections' extensive borderlands collections.

Aengus Anderson, the digital media producer for the UA Library, produced a video on the project:

Editor: dougcarrollByline Affiliation: University Relations - CommunicationsWhat: "The Documented Border" Where: UA Special CollectionsWhen: On display through Dec. 19Extra Info: 

"Historical Perspectives on Central American Immigration," by Martha Few, an associate professor in the UA Department of History, will be held Nov. 5, 6-8 p.m. in Special Collections.

Header image: YesNo Image: Subheading: The UA Libraries will host a new exhibition and event to launch a digital archive of "The Documented Border," which is part of a larger project involving journalism and art faculty and digital archivists. Include in UANow: yesInclude in Olympic Coverage: noFeature on Olympic Page: no