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Updated: 2 hours 37 min ago

And Now ... Commencement 2015!

Mon, 05/11/2015 - 12:18pm

More than 4,000 graduates and about 40,000 guests have registered to attend the University of Arizona's Commencement, the 151st such ceremony in the University's history.

UA President Ann Weaver Hart will confer degrees upon more than 5,600 eligible graduates in the 2015 graduating class, which includes more than 4,200 bachelor's degrees, 1,000 graduate degrees and 300 professional degrees.

The ceremony will be held Saturday at Arizona Stadium. Doors open at 5:30 p.m., and the ceremony will begin at 7:30. Arizona Public Media will live-stream the ceremony. More information on the live stream is available online.

The keynote address will be delivered by Jon Huntsman Jr., the former Utah governor who ran for president in 2011-2012 and now runs a nonpartisan organization, No Labels, which works across partisan lines to focus on fixing America's most pressing problems. Huntsman is expected to speak about how collaboration and common sense can get government moving again.

In addition to Huntsman, six others will receive honorary degrees: Betsy Bolding, a community volunteer; P. Andrew Groseta, an Arizona rancher; Peter W. Salter, founder and retired CEO of Salter Labs; Sarah Smallhouse, president of the Thomas R. Brown Foundations; Will Humble, division director for health policy and evaluation for the Center for Population Science and Discovery at the Arizona Health Sciences Center; and Brenda Milner, founder of the Montreal Neurological Institute.

Also during the ceremony, several students will be presented with awards.

The recipients and their awards:

  • Vincent Redhouse, a member of the Navajo Nation, whose degree is in philosophy, politics, economics and law, will receive the Provost Award.
  • Amanda Ehredt, who has earned degrees in history and psychology, and Stephanie Kha, who has earned a biochemistry degree, each will receive the Robert Logan Nugent Award.
  • Economics degree recipient Carolina Ramirez and Stephanie Zawada, who is receiving a biochemistry degree, each will receive the Robie Gold Medal.
  • The Merrill P. Freeman Medal will be awarded to business management degree recipient Alex Huhn and Jennifer Sedler, who will receive a physiology degree. 

The Alumni Achievement Award is being given to Gary Harper, who earned a mechanical engineering degree from the UA in 1971. The Alumni Achievement Award is the highest honor bestowed by the UA Alumni Association.

Editor: dougcarrollByline Affiliation: University Relations - CommunicationsWhat: UA's 151st CommencementWhere: Arizona Stadium, 1 National Championship DriveWhen: Saturday, 7:30 p.m.; doors open at 5:30 Extra Info: 

MEDIA NOTE: Members of the media who would like to attend the Commencement ceremony must RSVP by 5 p.m. on May 13 by emailing La Monica Everett-Haynes at


The UA's 151st Commencement ceremony will be held May 16 at 7:30 p.m. at Arizona Stadium. More information about the ceremony is available online for 2015 graduates and also family members and other guests.


More information about the UA's spring Commencement ceremony and the convocation events is available online:


Header image: YesNo Image: Subheading: The UA will hold its 151st Commencement ceremony on Saturday, with former Utah Gov. Jon Huntsman Jr. as the guest speaker before an audience of thousands.Include in UANow: yesInclude in Olympic Coverage: noFeature on Olympic Page: noUANow Image: Includes video: 

Class of 2015: Apple Doors Open for UA Grad

Fri, 05/08/2015 - 10:40am

Photo: Paul Tumarkin, Tech Launch Arizona

Like many millennials, Nikolas Gelo has always been fascinated with computers. But for Gelo, who graduates this month with his bachelor's degree in computer science from the University of Arizona's College of Science, everything has lined up.

After Commencement, he’ll be moving to Cupertino, California, to start a new career with Apple Inc.

Q: So computers are just everywhere and part of daily life. What’s the fascination?

A: As a kid growing up in Phoenix, I've been messing around with computers for as long as I can remember. My dad is a graduate of the UA, with a degree in electrical engineering, and his ability to design and build electronics fascinated me with computers early on.

When I had my own, I’d usually break them trying to get them to do something they weren't designed to do. Then I’d have to figure out how to fix them myself. I remember having my first cellphone — a Motorola Razr — and bricked the phone while trying to modify the phone’s firmware so I could put custom ringtones on it or change the layout of the menus. I was unsuccessful in my first few attempts but eventually got it working again.

As I got more and more comfortable messing around with my electronics, I moved on to hacking my Playstation 2 so that I could play modified Guitar Hero games that I burned onto DVDs that contained custom songs that I wanted to play. Because I loved modifying electronics to make them do what I wanted, it was inevitable that I would study computer science.

Q: What has your experience been like doing research and being an inventor at the UA?

A: I've been working and doing research in civil engineering with Hongki Jo and Jae-Hong Min in the Smart Structure Systems Laboratory. Our work has focused on developing an iPhone app that tracks the dynamic displacement of objects by observing their movement with the smartphone's camera. It's not an app for general consumers. It's mainly for engineers to use as they monitor structures or develop new products, helping them to evaluate the strength and integrity of designs and materials.

With Dr. Jo and Dr. Min, I've been working as an iOS developer and undergraduate researcher learning how computer vision techniques can be applied to civil engineering problems like monitoring the movement of structures. Along with developing this technology, we’ve been working with Tech Launch Arizona on the possibilities of patenting and commercializing it. Because our solution to monitoring dynamic structural movement is much less expensive than other techniques, like using high-precision lasers, we reached out to Tech Launch Arizona to introduce our innovative technology to the market and learn how we can solve engineering problems. It's been really interesting learning the practical and business sides of how we can bring research out to the world. 

Q: What will you be doing in Cupertino?

A: I found out I got the job this past March, which was really exciting. I'm going to be working with Apple's Audio Visual API team, also known as the Camera Software Group. We’re the team that makes the APIs — the application programming interfaces — that allow programmers to develop camera apps for Apple products. 

Q: What are you most excited about in taking the Apple job?

A: I just want to make a difference with what I do, and do what I love. In this case, I'm excited to develop products that millions of people will use. To know that a piece of code that I wrote is running on iPhones that people use every day is awesome. Ultimately, I want to build something great.

Q: Outside of computer-related opportunities, what else have you participated in at the UA?

A: Since my freshman year here, I have been active with both my fraternity, Alpha Sigma Phi, and a rock band I play in called Something Like Seduction. Being elected fraternity president of over 100 members my junior year, playing dozens of shows all throughout Arizona and California, and programming iPhone apps has kept me busy enough as an undergrad here at the UA.

The UA's 151st Commencement ceremony will be held Saturday at 7:30 p.m. at Arizona Stadium. More information about the ceremony is available online for 2015 graduates and also family members and other guests.

Categories: Science and TechnologyThis is a Wildcat Corner feature: Images: Tags: StudentsStudent LifeByline: Paul Tumarkin, Tech Launch Arizona |Editor: dougcarrollInclude in UANow: 0Date of Publication: Tuesday, May 12, 2015Medium Summary: New UA grad Nikolas Gelo will work with Apple Inc. as an iOS developer, an outgrowth of his lifelong fascination with computers.Feature on Front: YesShort Summary: New UA grad Nikolas Gelo will work with Apple Inc. as an iOS developer, an outgrowth of his lifelong fascination with computers.Send to Never Settle Site: 0UA in the News Spotlight: Includes video: 

Alumni-Owned Company Awarded $100K Grant

Thu, 05/07/2015 - 3:30pm

University of Arizona alumni entrepreneurs Ricardo Hernandez and John Jackson of Grafted Growers, LLC have been awarded a $100,000 Phase I USDA-SBIR grant. Small Business Innovation Research grants support technology innovation by providing federal research funds to help grow small, technology-based businesses.

With the award, the two are working in collaboration with Chieri Kubota from the School of Plant Sciences and Murat Kacira from the Department of Agriculture and Biosystems Engineering at the UA, as well as with team members from the Arizona Center for Innovation and Tech Launch Arizona. The multidisciplinary team will commercialize novel crop-production strategies that got their start — and are continuing to develop — through UA research.

The company received the USDA-SBIR grant for its use of innovative methods and equipment for planting, growing and harvesting food crops. In addition to helping improve the process and resource efficiency associated with growing vegetable transplants, these same methods can be utilized for improving agriculture, horticulture and floriculture operations. The goal is to create a sustainable indoor growing system, or SIGS, that will produce affordable, higher-quality grafted vegetable transplants with fewer resources — such as water, fertilizers and pesticides — while maintaining a smaller land footprint than existing greenhouse and open-field agriculture systems.

Hernandez received his Ph.D. from the School of Plant Sciences, and Jackson received his M.B.A. from the Eller College of Management. As they were pursuing their academically separate studies, they met in the highly ranked McGuire Program for Entrepreneurship, where they began collaborating on their idea for Grafted Growers.

The commercialization potential of the project is high because the growing systems and their output (high-quality vegetable transplants) can be commercialized as unique, innovative products for different markets. With the ban of methyl bromide, an ozone-depleting fumigant, the adoption of grafted vegetable plants by hydroponic growers and field growers for increased vigor and disease resistance is growing. It has a market size of $2 billion a year in tomato transplants alone. Additionally, the indoor farming market is booming and the availability of affordable, functional indoor growing systems is limited.

"The SBIR Program is a critical piece in the puzzle of converting scientific knowledge into impactful products and services that address problems facing American industries," Jackson said.

Grafted Growers hopes to become the only closed-system, globally local supplier of high-quality grafted vegetable transplants to U.S. and international growers of specialty crops.

The grant also represents a win for the UA, Tech Launch Arizona and the state. This past year, TLA started SBIR/STTR Tech House, a program designed to drastically increase the region's economic competitiveness by putting the power of research behind new and small businesses. STTR stands for Small Business Technology Transfer. 

Under the leadership of TLA, the University has set a goal to increase competitiveness and become one of the top 10 regions per capita in the nation.

Jen Watson leads the SBIR/STTR Tech House program for TLA.

"Grafted Growers did an excellent job building a team with complementary skills and creating a winning proposal," Watson said. "TLA’s SBIR/STTR Tech House is available to assist companies in connecting to resources and partners that will help them improve their chances of being successful at SBIR/STTR.”

More information on the connections and services available through SBIR/STTR Tech House is at

Along with his entrepreneurial efforts with Grafted Growers, Jackson also serves as manager of business intelligence at TLA.

Editor: dougcarrollByline: Paul TumarkinByline Affiliation: Tech Launch ArizonaHeader image: YesNo Image: Subheading: Grafted Growers, which had its start in the UA's McGuire Program for Entrepreneurship, has been recognized for its use of innovative methods and equipment for planting, growing and harvesting food crops.Include in UANow: 0Include in Olympic Coverage: noFeature on Olympic Page: noUANow Image: Includes video: 

Future Is Now at Engineering Design Day

Wed, 05/06/2015 - 5:51pm

Behind a Plexiglas window in a wooden box about the size of a cupboard, a light bulb went on. Like a snake that had spotted an unsuspecting mouse, a robotic arm mounted on the box's ceiling homed in on the light and darted toward it.

"In our mock-up, we use the scenario of a laundry room on an aircraft carrier," explained Ben Subeck, a senior in mechanical engineering at the UA College of Engineering. "The light bulb is where a fire would have broken out."

Subeck was part of a team of more than 400 UA engineering seniors exploring untapped applications for robotic technology as part of their senior capstone project, an engineering students' version of a "thesis." His team developed a theoretical networked system of firefighting robot arms installed on naval ships, where robotic technologies have not yet been installed on a significant scale. Once the robot detected a fire with its heat-sensitive camera, it could alert a remote operator, who would then position the firefighting arm and put out the fire, explained Huy Le, an electrical engineering student who was part of the team, which was sponsored by Raytheon Missile Systems.

Subeck's and Le's team presented their project during Engineering Design Day on Tuesday in the in the Grand Ballroom of the UA's Student Union Memorial Center, along with 79 teams that dived into industry-sponsored capstone design projects for a year of research, planning, design, building and testing real-world applications of engineering and problem-solving.

The teams demonstrated their projects for faculty, students, industry sponsors, corporate recruiters and professional engineer-judges, competing for nearly 30 cash prizes totaling more than $18,000, which were announced at the end of the Design Day event. Prizes recognized the best and most innovative designs, student teamwork and project sustainability. A "fish out of water" prize recognized students who succeeded even after their project dropped them in uncertain territory. The prize money came from a who’s who of industrial sponsors, including Edmund Optics, Honeywell, Raytheon, Sargent Aerospace & Defense, Texas Instruments and W.L. Gore and Associates.

Award-winning projects ranged from designing a robotic vehicle to keep soldiers safe from small, improvised explosive devices to an autonomous aircraft monitoring the spread of invasive buffelgrass; from a smartphone-integrated gun lock to a wireless fluid sensor that could dramatically improve the care for patients suffering from excess spinal fluid accumulation; and a 3-D printed, patient-specific stent to prevent abdominal aortic aneurysm, which causes 13,000 deaths in the United States annually.

"Design Day is the most exciting event I attend each year," said Christopher Lynn, an engineer with Tucson Electric Power who served as a mentor to an award-winning team that designed, built and tested a prototype unmanned aerial vehicle — commonly known as a drone — that one day could replace costly in-person inspections of power lines, which frequently require the use of helicopters. The project, "Building a Smarter Grid," won the Bly Family Innovation in Energy Production award, at $1,500 the largest prize for which the student teams competed during the event.

"The success of events like Design Day comes from years of continuous improvement in engineering education at the UA," Lynn said. "The success of our project is due to the professionalism and commitment to excellence of this team. TEP is thrilled with the results of the capstone process and we are currently planning to submit another project in the fall."

Engineering Design Day also provides a venue for employers to meet promising UA talent. Partnering with the College of Engineering on design projects gives employers opportunities to try out students for a year on a real-life project, explore new technologies and bring back-burner projects to life. Some students leave the event with job offers; others take the entrepreneurial route and launch their Design Day projects as commercial ventures.

While many engineering programs in the U.S. have their graduates complete some sort of capstone project, the UA's ENG 498 course is unique in that it brings together students from many disciplines to solve engineering challenges as a team, said College of Engineering Dean Jeff Goldberg.

"Take the top-prize-winning project for example, the Robotic Ordnance Neutralizer," he said. "If you only had electrical engineers on that team, you could design the concept but never build the actual device. You need mechanical engineers to figure out how to get the device to move over rugged terrain, how big the motors have to be and how to integrate them into the structure. The ability to bring in different disciplines is absolutely critical."

Design Day marks the end of that process, with students giving a final report to a panel of judges who are like external customers. In addition to sponsors from industry who mentor the students on their projects, the college brings in experienced engineers to help students when they get stuck.

"We offer this class to give students a free swing at what it's like when they go to work someplace," Goldberg said. "Even if they don't quite succeed, they won't get fired. The course is our number one strategy of getting students workforce ready."

Goldberg said the course costs between $400,000 and $500,000 — almost all of it provided through fundraising.

"Design Day also is a great way for us to show middle school and high school students the really cool stuff that engineers do and get them interested in that career," he added.

The value of the course, according to graduating senior Le, is "being able to apply what we learn in class in a real tactile manner. This project forces you to work with other engineers, such as systems engineering, mechanical, computer and electrical engineering, and closely mimics what you would encounter in the real world."

For Le and Subeck, the hard work has paid off already. They are set to continue their work with firefighting robots on Navy ships as employees of Raytheon, the Tucson-based high-tech defense company.

Editor: dougcarrollWriter: Daniel StolteByline: Daniel StolteByline Affiliation: University Relations – CommunicationsHeader image: YesNo Image: Subheading: UA students present their solutions to technology's challenges of the future, highlighting a process of tinkering, setbacks and perseverance — just what engineers face in the real world.Include in UANow: yesInclude in Olympic Coverage: noFeature on Olympic Page: noIncludes video: 

UA Grads Put a Ring on It

Wed, 05/06/2015 - 4:53pm

When thousands of University of Arizona graduates step off campus later this month, they will go forth and continue representing their alma mater.

And hundreds of those graduates choose to represent the UA by wearing the official class ring.

Jostens Inc. is the UA's vendor for the class ring, and 12 models of the ring exist. The biannual UA Ring Ceremony will be held May 11, hosted by the UA Alumni Association, UA BookStores and Jostens. Event information is available online. Graduates who have elected to attend the ceremony will receive an RSVP to the event, where they will be presented with their ring.

You can check out photos from the 2014 Ring Ceremony on Facebook.

Jostens also is hosting ring events at the UA BookStore on May 12-15 from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. and on May 16 from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. Those interested in learning more about the ring events should contact the UA BookStore.

The origin of the college class ring is rooted in professional football and military history.

The current iteration of Arizona's official ring was designed 13 years ago by a committee of representatives from the UA Alumni Association and the UA BookStores, said Michael Rattler, the territory sales representative for the Jostens College Division.

Rod Cleveland, past chair of the UA Alumni Association, was a member of the committee that gave inspiration for the final design of the official ring. Cleveland served on the association's national board from 1996 to 2005, and as chair for a one-year term beginning in 2003.

"I was honored that they'd asked me," said Cleveland, a 1963 graduate of the UA. Cleveland's own class ring was a bit more simple: It carries the UA seal, an image of the mascot, the year UA was established (1885) and a few other features.

"I thought 'Bear Down' should really be present, and I liked including Old Main," Cleveland said, adding that he and other members of the committee wanted the redesigned ring to stand not only as a symbol of the campus — its beauty, location and impact — but that it also should have elements indicating the UA's uniqueness.

The history Jostens maintains on the ring notes that it carries either a cardinal red or navy blue stone representative of the UA's official colors, and it has a number of other symbolic features:

  • The block "A," which adorns the top of the ring and is meant to represent the annual tradition of painting "A" Mountain in Tucson. 
  • "Bear Down," the UA's fight song, encircles the top of the ring.
  • Old Main is featured on one side of the ring. 
  • The University seal is presented on another side of the ring, meant as a reminder of academic achievement and future success. 
  • The campus cactus garden is also featured with Old Main and, with several planet specimens represented, is meant to symbolize campus diversity. The palm trees and cacti represent the state's geography and the beauty of the campus.
  • The Wildcat mascot is located on the inside of ring. 
  • Students have the option to have their graduation year engraved on the ring.

"Everyone was like-minded about what we wanted to appear on the ring," Cleveland said. "It was hard to include everything, but we agreed on the final."

Another tradition is associated with the ring: Bearers wear the ring with the "A" facing toward them before they graduate from the University. This is meant to serve as a reminder about their goals. During the Commencement ceremony, students shift their rings so that the block "A" faces outward, an indication of their success.

Photos by Jacob Chinn/UA Alumni Association

The UA's 151st Commencement ceremony will be held May 16 at 7:30 p.m. at Arizona Stadium. More information about the ceremony is available online for 2015 graduates and also family members and other guests.

More information about the UA's spring Commencement and convocation events is available online:

Categories: Campus NewsThis is a Wildcat Corner feature: Images: Tags: AlumniByline: University Relations - Communications |UANow Image: Editor: dougcarrollInclude in UANow: yesDate of Publication: Wednesday, May 6, 2015Medium Summary: Some of the symbolism of the UA's class ring may surprise you. Do you know which way the block "A" should face? Read on.Feature on Front: NoShort Summary: Some of the symbolism of the UA's class ring may surprise you. Do you know which way the block "A" should face? Read on.Send to Never Settle Site: 0UA in the News Spotlight: Includes video: 

How to Build Your Best Resume

Wed, 05/06/2015 - 2:59pm

For the modern employee, the traditional resume no longer works.

Professional resume writer and UA alumnus Geoff Coon earlier this year shared his advice during a webinar, held in partnership with the UA Alumni Association, on how to produce a strong resume.

Coon will offer another webinar focusing on ways to expand a professional network and create a LinkedIn profile that attracts recruiters. The session will be held May 20, from 5:30-6:30 p.m. MST, and registration information is available online.

During his resume-writing workshop, Coon spoke about the common myths associated with resumes, and also offered suggestions on how to produce a strong, modern resume.

Why do we need resumes?

The curriculum vitae is used almost exclusively in academia, where applicants may have multiple programs and projects running simultaneously over a period of time. In that case, multipage documents are perfectly acceptable, Coon said. 

For most everyone else, the resume is the way to go.  But even for those who are producing a standard resume, it is perfectly acceptable to write beyond one page, Coon said. In fact, "99 percent of the time" it won't be a problem at all. However, job seekers should keep text to two pages.

Coon warns: If you have it in mind that a resume's sole purpose is to land you a job, rethink its function.

"If you are getting interviews and call-backs, then the resume is working for you," Coon said.

What about having multiple resumes?

"The short answer is no," he said.

"Having a good summary section will allow you to have a good base and a foundation from which to build. It's always good to tweak on a case-by-case basis," he said, "but really, the goal will be one resume that you can use confidently use for all of the jobs you are targeting."

This is especially important. Coon said that while the perception in industry is that you have 15 to 30 seconds to impress a recruiter or hiring manager, you actually have only about six seconds. For that reason, be attentive to the resume's real estate.

"It shouldn't leave out or limit any achievements," Coon said.

Building a resume

First, determine your goals, Coon suggests.

"It is important to determine before you go into it what you want out get out of it, and out of the process. If it is done correctly, it will be more successful for you in the long run," Coon said.

Think about a career and not just a job, he said. To start, keep a list of "what you love about your current job and what you hate about your current job." Also, keep a list of what skills you would like to develop.

These lists should help identify the best jobs while you are on the market. "This is really going to help you determine what you want to do," Coon said.

Each resume should have a headline, summary paragraph, key accomplishments, core skills with a list of core competencies (bulleted), professional experience, a list of accomplishments and, lastly, education.

If you do not have the requisite skills, or are making a career change, consider focusing on your transferable skills, or those abilities that easily translate to other positions, Coon said. He also suggests looking at your job requirements and touching upon them in ways that translate into skills.

"Think about quantifiable," he said. For example, if you manage projects under budget or ahead of schedule, this can be translated into achievements.

For students, Coon recommends taking applied classroom experiences and projects and translating them as professional experiences, broken down by skill set or area of focus.

About those applicant tracking systems

Applicant tracking systems, which rank applications, can ruin your chance for landing an interview.

Coon said it is best not to get too creative with section titles. For example, call work experience what it is, "work experience," and accomplishments "accomplishments."

"It is important that your resume is formatted so that ATS programs can extract all the information," Coon said.

That means no text boxes, no tables and minimal graphics overall.

What to keep, what to toss

Coon says it's a myth that people should put every single job they have ever held on their resumes.

"For someone who might be more entry level, that could be the case. For someone who has 20 to 30 years of experience, it's impossible to believe you should include everything. The general rule of thumb would be 15 years."

What about a strong objective? Coon's advice: Don't write one. The objective has no place on a resume anymore.

"The real estate on the page is very valuable. Do not spend any time talking about the role you are applying for. Talk about how you align with the role," Coon said.

That's why every resume must have a strong summary section, detailing not only a person's individual experience but also which skills listed in the job posting that a person possesses.

The summary paragraph is an "elevator pitch on paper," he said. "Show in six seconds the value you are adding to the company, what separates you from all of the other applicants and how closely you align with the role."

Analyze the job posting, looking for the core aspect of the role, and look for trends between job postings and if you see the same key phrase. That probably indicates a transferable skill.

Don't know how to address gaps? Coon says it depends on the amount of time — a month for about every $10,000 you make. Thus, if you were making $50,000, it is acceptable that it took you five months to find a job. You can also add training and consulting work to fill in those gaps.

Keep in mind:

  • Not everything put in a job posting is vital for you to focus on.
  • Don't copy and paste from a job description — that's a red flag.
  • When applying for a job, keep the core responsibilities in mind, and compare your role to those responsibilities as a baseline.
  • Don't just apply for 20 or 30 jobs. Identify jobs that are a good fit, and apply to those.
  • You don't need to list your month of employment, but if you are applying via an online service, be sure to include that information so that it is captured by applicant tracking systems.
  • Don't just list your job description. Show results of your work. 
  • It's OK to use fonts such as Calibri and Arial (Times New Roman is not required). It varies with each font, but 10 point is usually the minimum font size.
  • Don't rely on resume templates. Build your own.
  • Don't add the street address for jobs.
  • Don't list your reasons for leaving current or prior positions.
  • Don't add your former manager's name and/or contact information, or references. If employers want that information, they can ask for it.
  • Having a LinkedIn profile is just as important as having a strong resume, but ensure that the two are not identical.

More information about the Alumni Association's online career workshops is available online. Also, the UA's Career Services offers resume support for students and alumni. More information is available online.

You can find more advice via a blog maintained by Coon and his colleagues:

Geoff Coon, who earned his creative writing degree from the UA in 2007, is professional resume writer and a LinkedIn expert who has worked with thousands of clients to provide targeted career services and career marketing documents. Coon holds the Certified Professional Resume Writer designation through the Professional Association of Resume Writers and Career Coaches, and the Certified Advanced Resume Writer designation from Career Directors International. In 2008, Coon founded Resume Platform and has built the company into a full-service resume writing and career marketing firm. Coon also earned a master's degree in new media from DePaul University. You can connect with him on LinkedIn.

Categories: Teaching and StudentsThis is a Wildcat Corner feature: Images: Tags: EducationStudentsStudent LifeAlumniByline: University Relations - Communications |UANow Image: Editor: dougcarrollInclude in UANow: yesDate of Publication: Friday, May 8, 2015Medium Summary: Take it from an expert: Here are the must-haves for a resume. Feature on Front: YesShort Summary: Take it from an expert: Here are the must-haves for a resume. Send to Never Settle Site: 0UA in the News Spotlight: Includes video: 

Guaranteed Tuition Rates Extended

Tue, 05/05/2015 - 6:14pm

Current University of Arizona undergraduate students wishing to opt in to the University’s Guaranteed Tuition Program will be able to do so at last year’s tuition rates, in the wake of the approval Monday of the UA’s tuition proposal for 2015-2016 by the Arizona Board of Regents.

The Guaranteed Tuition Program provides students with a constant tuition rate for eight continuous fall and spring semesters. It was introduced last year to help make the cost of a college education more predictable for students and their families. The benefit to students and their families is that it protects them from sudden spikes in tuition, enabling them to estimate and budget for college expenses more accurately.

The 2014-2015 program froze annual tuition and fees at $10,957 for resident students and at $29,421 for nonresidents through the 2017-2018 academic year. Those rates remain available to current undergraduates wishing to opt in, and they apply only to the number of semesters remaining toward a total of eight. Upcoming juniors who are nonresidents could save as much as $2,000 by opting in.

Those who do not opt in to the program will pay $10,872 and $30,025, respectively, for 2015-2016 — increases of 2.8 percent and 5.8 percent over what they paid for 2014-2015.

Freshman and transfer students in 2014-2015 were automatically enrolled in the program and are not required to take further action. New undergraduates also will be enrolled automatically, locking in their annual tuition and fees at $11,403 for residents and $32,630 for nonresidents for four years.

An optional program locking in tuition and fees is being made available to new UA South undergraduates at $8,993 for residents and $32,125 for nonresidents for up to four years. The program is optional because many UA South students are on campus for two and a half years or less. UA South students who do not opt in will pay $8,559 and $29,521, respectively, for 2015-2016.

Continuing students on the main campus will be able to opt in to the Guaranteed Tuition Program through Aug. 21. UA South students will be able to opt in starting in July and ending Aug. 21. More information about the program is available at

The Registrar's Office is available to answer questions about eligibility for the Guaranteed Tuition Program at
 The Bursar's Office can assist with questions regarding the program’s costs or payments at

Editor: dougcarrollByline Affiliation: University Relations - CommunicationsHeader image: YesNo Image: Subheading: The UA's continuing undergraduate students are still able to lock in at 2014-2015 rates for annual tuition and fees, and they have until Aug. 21 to do so.Include in UANow: yesInclude in Olympic Coverage: noFeature on Olympic Page: noUANow Image: Includes video: 

Part 4: UA, Now What?

Tue, 05/05/2015 - 2:17pm

It's nearing the last hurrah for seniors, who talked about their post-UA future at the recent Alumni Association Grad Bash.

Video Thumbnail: Category(s): Campus NewsTeaching and StudentsYouTube Video:  UA Now What? Grad Bash Part 2 Video of UA Now What? Grad Bash Part 2 Feature Sticky: OffFeature on Front: NoMedium Summary: It's nearing the last hurrah for seniors, who talked about their post-UA future at the recent Alumni Association Grad Bash.UANow Image: Date of Publication: Wednesday, May 6, 2015Send to Never Settle Site: 0Includes video: The story include video

Regents Approve UA Tuition Plan

Mon, 05/04/2015 - 7:15pm

The Arizona Board of Regents has voted to approve the University of Arizona tuition proposal, which means current students in the guaranteed tuition program will see no increase in tuition or mandatory fees and continuing students can opt in to the plan at the lower rate. The vote came at Monday's meeting of the board, which was conducted via video conference from the state's public university campuses in Tucson, Tempe and Flagstaff.

"We’re appreciative that the regents recognized the thoughtful approach our administrators and student leaders used to develop a tuition plan that keeps college costs predictable for families but also invests in an exceptional educational experience only a top-tier institution such as the University of Arizona can offer," said UA President Ann Weaver Hart. "As one of the leading research universities in America, we provide students with opportunities and career options that simply are not available anywhere else."

Incoming students will be enrolled in a guaranteed tuition program that locks in their tuition and mandatory fees for four years, with a resident rate of $11,403 and a nonresident rate of $32,630.

Continuing UA students will have the option of enrolling in the 2014-2015 guaranteed tuition plan with tuition and fees frozen at $10,957 for resident students and $29,421 for nonresidents through the 2017-2018 academic year.

Continuing undergraduate students who choose not to opt in to the guaranteed tuition plan will pay resident tuition and mandatory fees of $10,872 and nonresident tuition and mandatory fees of $30,025, an increase of 2.8 percent and 5.8 percent, respectively.

Graduate students would see an increase in mandatory fees and tuition of 2.8 percent for residents to $12,048 and a 5.8 percent increase for non-residents to $30,370.

At UA South, continuing resident undergraduates would pay $8,559, an increase of 2.8 percent, and nonresident undergraduates would pay $29,521, a 5.9 percent increase over last year. An optional guaranteed tuition plan that locks in tuition and mandatory fees will be available to new UA South undergraduate students. Under the plan, incoming undergraduate students could pay a resident rate of $8,993 and nonresident students would pay $32,125 for up to four years. It is an optional program because many UA South students are on campus for two and a half years or less.

The UA also recommended a 3.5 percent increase in resident tuition and a 4.3 percent increase in nonresident tuition for the Colleges of Medicine in Tucson and Phoenix, which would bring resident tuition to $30,284 and nonresident tuition to $50,527.

Elected student leaders participated extensively on the tuition committee with the UA’s provost, chief financial officer, senior vice president for student affairs and enrollment management, and faculty representatives to help shape the tuition plan.

The UA introduced guaranteed tuition to keep college costs more stable and predictable for Arizona students and parents who had seen tuition double when state support fell dramatically over the last several years of the recession. The guaranteed tuition plan is adjusted for each incoming class and applies to both resident and nonresident students.

"The U of A is a phenomenal value," said Andrew Comrie, the University's provost and senior vice president for academic affairs. "It's still among the very best deals in American higher education.

"We were hopeful (the regents) would support our proposal, and we're very pleased that they did."

Tuition plans for Arizona State University and Northern Arizona University also were approved by the regents.

Editor: dougcarrollByline Affiliation: University Relations - CommunicationsHeader image: YesNo Image: Subheading: Current students in the guaranteed tuition program will see no increase in tuition or mandatory fees.Include in UANow: yesInclude in Olympic Coverage: noFeature on Olympic Page: noUANow Image: Includes video: 

UA Prof Receives UNESCO Appointment

Mon, 05/04/2015 - 4:40pm

David Pietz, who directs the Global Studies Program at the University of Arizona, has been appointed to serve as the inaugural UNESCO Chair on Environmental History.

The position was created this year at the UA as part of a long-term project to explore best practices to manage water resources in a changing world.

Pietz, of the UA College of Humanities, is the first person to hold the chair position, which is one among numerous chairs addressing varying issues on behalf of UNESCO, the global peace-building organization within the United Nations. UNESCO's chairs program was founded to promote international inter-university cooperation and networking, and it currently involves more than 650 institutions in 124 countries.

Pietz's initial focus as a UNESCO chair will be on the "Water and Indigenous Peoples" project, a research and teaching project.

"The Water and Indigenous Peoples project comports with UA's strategic research and teaching emphases in environmental studies, water, food and agriculture, and global health," said Pietz, also a UA associate professor of East Asian studies. "The UNESCO chair will bring deserved recognition of UA's tradition of excellence in these research arenas."

Pietz said the project also will advance research themes of the College of Humanities in significant ways, particularly around cultural understanding and through the enhancement of international and intercultural relations.

"We, in the College of Humanities, are so proud to have Pietz with us as the UNESCO chair," said Mary Wildner-Bassett, dean of the College of Humanities.

"His important work, which has been recognized by this very prestigious designation, brings together the studies of humanities related to traditions, cultures and languages with important work in and for the environment," Wildner-Bassett said. "His membership on and contributions to our faculty, and in his additional role as director of the interdisciplinary Global Studies major program, are prime examples of the intellectual and applied synergistic work accomplished by many in the college."

Much of Pietz's scholarly work has been focused on long-term continuity and change in China's water management on the North China Plain, which has been experiencing a water deficiency.

With a doctorate in modern Chinese history from Washington University, Pietz's research interests are in environmental history and the history of technology in China and East Asia. His work focuses on long-term continuity and change in China's water management on the North China Plain. 

His publications include "Engineering the State: The Huai River and Reconstruction in Nationalist China" and "State and Economy in Republican China: A Handbook for Scholars." His newest book, "The Yellow River: The Problem of Water in Modern China," was published in early 2015 by Harvard University Press. 

Pietz's current research on resource management in China has been supported by grants from the National Science Foundation, the National Endowment for the Humanities, the Mellon Foundation, the American Philosophical Society and the Institute for Advanced Studies at Princeton University.

In collaboration with co-principal investigator Dorothy Zeisler-Vralsted, a political science professor at Eastern Washington University, Pietz will lead the Water and Indigenous Peoples project.

"Population growth, expanding per capita consumption, increasing pollution and the compounding effects of climate change have made global access to clean water resources a global social, economic and political concern," Pietz wrote in the project statement.

"The marginalization of indigenous peoples by colonial and national impulses has been further exasperated by the pressures of increasingly nationalized and globalized resource endowments. Faced with increasingly scarce water resources, indigenous communities have also progressively seen their traditional relationship with water resources circumscribed by legal institutions and frameworks that have displaced traditional practices that often defined the basis of social and economic welfare."

The research project involves an exploration of the historical trajectory that defines the contemporary relationship between indigenous peoples and water in a variety of cultural contexts, ranging from indigenous peoples in the Pacific Northwest and the Southwest to other indigenous and largely marginalized peoples living in Africa, the Middle East, Central Asia and Central and South America.   

"Our regional study of the traditional and transformation of water practices of the peoples of the Pacific Northwest in the United States will be embedded in a context of the comparative experiences of indigenous peoples' relationship with water around the globe," Pietz said.

The project's teaching component is centered on the creation of a certificate in water governance, which initially will be delivered to tribal nations in the Pacific Northwest through a distance education infrastructure. After initial development and delivery to regional partners, Pietz and Zeisler-Vralsted plan for the certificate program to be offered internationally.

The project also will lead to the launch of an annual symposia,  providing a forum for exchange and avenues to incorporate policy actors. Project directors will work to establish a network of partners, involving faculty and graduate students.

"The creation of a global collaborative network can provide pathways to further research collaborations in multiple areas," Pietz said.

Editor: dougcarrollByline Affiliation: University Relations - CommunicationsHeader image: YesNo Image: Subheading: The UNESCO Chair in Environmental History has been awarded to David Pietz to promote research and teaching focused on the history of global environmental change. Include in UANow: yesInclude in Olympic Coverage: noFeature on Olympic Page: noUANow Image: Includes video: 

Runner Elvin Kibet Found Her Way at UA

Mon, 05/04/2015 - 1:17pm

You must run 3,000 meters — about two miles — in nine minutes. And do it at an elevation of 7,000 feet.

That was the task that stood between Elvin Kibet getting from Eldoret, Kenya, to Tucson and the University of Arizona.

First, a little background.

Associate head coach James Li of the UA track and field program often makes recruiting visits to Kenya. He knew of the Kibet family because of two of Elvin's athletic sisters: Silvia won the silver medal in the 5,000 meters at the 2009 IAAF World Championships, and Hildah was a marathoner who was ranked in the top 10 in the world.

Elvin graduated from high school but didn't know what her next step would be. Going to a university in Kenya is far different from attending one in the U.S. A student's grades determine which universities will extend an invitation. 

"I missed an A-minus once," Kibet said. "By just a little bit I missed it. I just considered myself a failure. I thought, 'I'm so done now.'"

Her sisters thought she should try running. Some people run so well that they go to America to compete in school, they told her. The option was intriguing.

One of Elvin's sisters was married to a man named Hugo, who knew Olympian Bernard Lagat, who trains with Li. That is how the dots got connected. Hugo got Li's email address, contacted him and said that Elvin was interested.

"(Li) said, 'She's never run before, but she's interested? Yeah, OK, she better run a 3K in nine minutes.' I just laughed and said, 'OK, let's look at another option,'" Kibet recalled.

But her sisters wouldn't let her give up so easily. Silvia thought that if she could run a 5K in less than 15 minutes, then Elvin could do it in 17 minutes. That translates roughly to a 9-minute 3K.

Li already was heading to Kenya to check out another athlete, Lawi Lalang. In the email exchange with Hugo, Li said there would be a time trial with four people.

A 9-minute 3K is very fast. Kibet ran it in 11 minutes.

"I brought my video camera and recorded her running," Li said. "I watched it over and over. I just liked her ease, how effortless her mechanics were. There was just untapped potential there. She had no real training at that point. I thought, 'Here's another chance I’ll take.' It wasn’t an easy decision."

It took him a month to decide before he sent an email to Kibet, offering a full athletic scholarship to attend the UA.

And that's how Elvin Kibet left behind Eldoret, located on the equator.

"Where I grew up was very basic," said Kibet, one of 10 children. "We would go to the river to get water. We would go to the forest to get wood for fire. We did a lot of farming. My parents had goats and sheep and cows. We would just go to school, come back, do chores, clean the house and tend to the livestock. It was very basic.

"When I landed in Tucson, I had a bag about the size of a backpack. I saw Coach Li and he asked where the rest of my stuff was. You know, where my big bag was. I told him that all my stuff was right here in this bag. He just kind of laughed. He didn't really know what to say."

Kibet, now a senior, said that she finally felt comfortable after her second year at the UA, especially after connecting with others from Kenya. Li was able to lure Lalang to Arizona and Stephen Sambu was already on campus. Sambu and Lalang were the only people with whom Kibet could speak Swahili, her native language.

Then there was the training, which was another foreign language to her.

"When I got here, the training was just unbelievable," Kibet said. "They would go out for a long run and run for 90 minutes. I had never run for more than 15 minutes. It was so hot and I was so impressed with their work. It took me so long to accept long runs. But in time, it made me stronger."

And so much better. She became a six-time NCAA All-American, a three-time Mountain Pacific Sports Federation All-Academic honoree, a four-time Pac-12 Conference All-Academic honoree and the 2013 Pac-12 Cross Country Scholar Athlete of the Year. She holds the UA women's record at 5,000 meters (15:36.08) and has the second-fastest time at 10,000. Her brother, Collins, followed her to the UA, joining the men's team in 2013.

"Why I run is because I want to make a difference in my society," Kibet said. "I come from a really humble background. I look back and if it was not for the people who stepped up in my life and helped me, the people who gave me shoes, training programs, scholarships, I wouldn’t be who I am today."

Kibet, who will compete for the Wildcats in this weekend's Pac-12 meet in Los Angeles, plans on running for the next two years after she completes her college eligibility at the UA in June. She wants to attend graduate school to study global health and maternal and child care.

"Part of why I run is to be a voice for those people who don't have a chance," she said. "I want to be a really good runner and then be able to start these programs in Kenya or Africa or wherever. I want to help people, especially women and children. Getting a public health degree for me was perfect."

Eventually, Kibet wants to return home.

"We have a saying in Kenya: Charity begins at home," she said. "I will go back and start there. I plan on empowering women and young girls. I can be a witness and show them that I left the house. I went to university in America. I think I can be so inspirational. I want to empower women to be independent. I think that if women are independent and have things for themselves, our society can be different."

The UA was the spark she needed.

"This is like my home," she said. "I'm going to cry when I leave here." 

Editor: dougcarrollWriter: Sean CollinsByline: Sean CollinsByline Affiliation: Arizona AthleticsHeader image: YesNo Image: Subheading: The native Kenyan wasn't well-trained when she came to the U.S., but she will leave the UA as one of the best distance runners in school history — and with big plans for the rest of her life. Include in UANow: yesInclude in Olympic Coverage: noFeature on Olympic Page: noUANow Image: Includes video: 

UA Student to Help Rebuild in Nepal

Mon, 05/04/2015 - 1:16pm

Barely one week after a 7.8-magnitude earthquake in Nepal caused at least 6,000 confirmed deaths and leveled countless structures on April 25, a Nepali graduate student in civil engineering at the University of Arizona is returning to her Himalayan home to help rebuild.

"My city is destroyed, but my family is safe," said Ulina Shakya, a doctoral student from Nuwakot, Nepal, who learned on April 29 that she had received an internship to put her engineering skills to work helping victims of the quake. 

Two days later, she was bound for Kathmandu.

Shakya’s internship is sponsored by BuildChange, a nonprofit organization that has built and retrofitted structures in Haiti and other seismic hotspots.

She is joining an international contingent of engineers gathering in Kathmandu, where their work will include inspecting houses so that displaced residents can safely return home. Shakya hopes to draw on her professional contacts as a former engineer in the country and on her seismic engineering training at the UA. Fluent in Nepali, she will serve as a translator for the team. 

Shakya came to the United States in 2013 specifically to conduct earthquake engineering simulation research with Robert Fleischman, associate professor of civil engineering at the UA. 

As soon as Fleischman learned of the Nepal disaster, he was on the phone, finding a way for his Nepali graduate student to return home.

"I first learned about BuildChange when I performed earthquake reconnaissance in Haiti and had been in touch with the group’s CEO, Elizabeth Hausler," Fleischman said. "When the recent earthquake hit Nepal, I contacted Elizabeth, which led to Ulina getting an interview and — as occurs in these post-disaster settings — quickly turned into an internship and a position on the lead team going to lay the groundwork for assisting in the rebuilding effort. BuildChange is an excellent organization making a real difference in the world. I am very happy that Ulina is getting this opportunity."

Shakya is attending the UA on a scholarship from the Schlumberger Fellow Faculty for the Future program, which helps women from underdeveloped countries gain education and training abroad. As part of her fellowship requirements, she is a teaching assistant in civil engineering and engineering mechanics.  

Her graduate research has included a semester at the University of California, San Diego, where she helped construct and test a floor-anchorage system that Fleischman is developing in research sponsored by the National Science Foundation’s Network for Earthquake Engineering Simulation. 

"Ulina entered our Ph.D. program directly from her undergraduate work and one year of engineering work in Kathmandu but has picked up skills quickly," Fleischman said. "She is serious, warm, genuine and has a calming effect on any group she works with. She was extremely well-liked by the research group at UCSD, faculty and students alike."  

Shakya had planned to continue her shake table research this summer in a lab at Lehigh University. Instead, she’ll learn about the effects of severe shaking on structures in a much more dramatic way. It will be her first time working in an earthquake-ravaged region.

"My greatest concern is that I have so little time in which to do so very much," she said.

Her internship will last through May. She plans to remain in Nepal for the rest of the summer, doing whatever she can to help and spending time with family and friends.

Because her own home in Kathmandu received major damage from the quake, she will stay at a friend’s home — a concrete structure that was spared. 

Editor: dougcarrollByline: Jill GoetzByline Affiliation: UA College of EngineeringHeader image: YesNo Image: Subheading: Ulina Shakya is applying her engineering skills where they’re most urgently needed — in her country, after the devastating earthquake of April 25. Include in UANow: yesInclude in Olympic Coverage: noFeature on Olympic Page: noUANow Image: Includes video: 

UA Program Secures Land-Rights Win in Belize

Fri, 05/01/2015 - 5:01pm

The Indigenous Peoples Law and Policy Program of the University of Arizona's James E. Rogers College of of Law has achieved another groundbreaking legal victory, this time before the Caribbean Court of Justice.

In a final resolution of the Maya land rights case before the highest court for Belize, the Caribbean Court of Justice affirmed the existence of Maya customary land tenure, significantly advancing the developing worldwide jurisprudence on indigenous peoples’ rights to lands and resources.

The Caribbean Court of Justice recently announced its judgment affirming the 2013 holding of the Court of Appeal of Belize that the Maya indigenous people of southern Belize have rights to the lands they customarily have used and occupied. In the judgment, the court affirmed that these traditional land rights, belonging to some 38 Maya villages spread out over most of Belize’s Toledo District, constitute property within the meaning of the provisions of the Belize Constitution that generally protect property free from discrimination.

For more than a decade, the IPLP Program has worked with Maya leaders and representative organizations to secure Maya rights to their traditional lands and resources. The judgment of the Caribbean Court of Justice is based on a novel legal theory developed by UA Regents’ Professor James Anaya, the co-director of the IPLP Program, in collaboration with the Montana-based Indian Law Resource Center. That theory, drawn from an evolving body of domestic and international precedents and published in the inaugural 1998 issue of the Yale Human Rights and Development Journal, was adopted by the Belize Supreme Court in 2007 and 2010 and upheld by the Court of Appeal of Belize in 2013.

IPLP attorneys Seánna Howard, Maia Campbell and Marina Waters, along with IPLP students participating in the College of Law’s International Human Rights Advocacy Workshop, worked with Anaya on the Belize case. Staff and students conducted research, helped draft court documents and traveled to Belize to assist in coordinating efforts with the Maya leaders and local counsel Antoinette Moore, who was retained by the IPLP Program to argue the case before the courts of Belize. Also assisting as local counsel in the later stages of the litigation was Monica Magnusson, who is the first licensed Maya attorney in Belize. Moira Gracey, an alumnus of the IPLP Program and now a practicing attorney, joined the IPLP team to take a leading role in developing the case as it made its way through the lower courts to the Caribbean Court of Justice.

"This judgment of the Caribbean Court of Justice sets an important precedent worldwide, building upon ever-greater recognition of the rights of indigenous peoples internationally," Anaya said, explaining that the judgement "reinforces the international standard that indigenous peoples have collective property rights based on their own customary land tenure systems, even when they do not have a formal title or other official recognition of those rights, and that states are bound to recognize and protect those rights."

Complementing and informing the domestic litigation, the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights, an agency of Organization of American States, issued a report in 2004 finding in favor of Maya land rights in Belize in terms similar to the recent judgment. The IPLP Program, which, along with the Indian Law Resource Center, litigated the case before the Inter-American Commission, also has assisted Maya leaders to raise the land-rights issue to United Nations bodies.

The Caribbean Court of Justice order, entered into on consent of the parties, requires the government of Belize to take measures to identify and protect Maya property and other rights arising from customary land tenure and to abstain from interference with these rights unless consultation occurs in order to obtain Maya consent. This means that the government of Belize may not issue any leases, grants, permits, concessions or contracts to lands or resources authorizing logging, petroleum, mineral extraction or any other activities that would affect Maya property rights.

With this final recognition and protection of rights by the highest court in Belize, the Maya people can refocus their attention on governance-building and strengthening their communities, a process that will guide other indigenous nations.

The IPLP Program provides training and promotes research on issues concerning indigenous peoples worldwide. It offers legal assistance to indigenous peoples and their communities in matters before domestic and international human rights forums. 

Editor: dougcarrollByline Affiliation: UA James E. Rogers College of LawHeader image: YesNo Image: Subheading: Judgment of the Caribbean Court of Justice in favor of the Maya indigenous people was based on a legal theory developed by UA professor James Anaya.Include in UANow: yesInclude in Olympic Coverage: noFeature on Olympic Page: noUANow Image: Includes video: 

Part 3: UA, Now What?

Fri, 05/01/2015 - 2:35pm

It may have been the last Bear Down Friday for these seniors, but the future looked bright as they celebrated at the UA Alumni Association Grad Bash.

Video Thumbnail: Category(s): Campus NewsTeaching and StudentsYouTube Video:  UA Now What? Grad Bash Part 1 Video of UA Now What? Grad Bash Part 1 Feature Sticky: OffFeature on Front: NoMedium Summary: It may have been the last Bear Down Friday for these seniors, but the future looked bright as they celebrated at the UA Alumni Association Grad Bash.UANow Image: Date of Publication: Monday, May 4, 2015Send to Never Settle Site: 0Includes video: The story include video

Low-Allergen Soybean Could Have High Impact

Fri, 05/01/2015 - 1:55pm

In the United States, nearly 15 million people and 1 in 13 children suffer from food allergy. In Arizona alone, every classroom contains at least two children with a food allergy.

Soybeans are one of the eight foods regulated by the Food Allergen Labeling and Consumer Protection Act, or FALPA. Soybean is a major ingredient in many infant formulas, processed foods and livestock feed used for agriculture. Soybeans contain several allergenic and anti-nutritional proteins that affect soybean use as food and animal feed.

A decade-long effort by University of Arizona scientists Monica Schmidt and Eliot Herman and University of Illinois scientist Theodore Hymowitz has yielded a new soybean with significantly reduced levels of three key proteins responsible for both its allergenic and anti-nutritional effects. The work is described in a paper published online in the journal Plant Breeding.

"We have created a low-allergen and low anti-nutritional inhibitor soybean using conventional breeding methods," said Herman, a professor in the UA School of Plant Sciences and a member of the BIO5 Institute.

Back in 2003, Herman, then at the U.S. Department of Agriculture, made national headlines when he and his colleagues addressed P34 as the soybean's key allergen, and genetically engineered it out of the crop. Although the new soybean may have been less likely to cause allergic reactions, testing was impeded by its transgenic production especially in key applications such as infant formula.

To circumvent the issue, Herman, Schmidt and Hymowitz set out to create a similar soybean using conventional breeding methods. After screening 16,000 different varieties of soybean for the desired trait, they found one that almost completely lacked the allergen P34. The team stacked the P34 null with two varieties previously identified by Hymowitz that lacked soybean agglutinin and trypsin inhibitors, proteins that are responsible for the soybean's anti-nutritional effects in livestock and humans.

"We really believed in this goal and wanted to produce an enhanced soybean that could be used," Herman said. "That became the motivation for using conventional breeding rather than the transgenic approach."

After nearly a decade of crossbreeding each variety to the soybean reference genome called Williams 82, the team has produced a soybean that lacks most of the P34 and trypsin inhibitor protein, and completely lacks soybean agglutinin. Beyond these characteristics, the soybean is nearly identical to Williams 82. They've dubbed the new variety "Triple Null."

"We think this will be embraced by many, whether they prefer conventional breeding or transgenic methods of food production," said Schmidt, an assistant professor in the School of Plant Sciences and a member of the BIO5 Institute. "It can be grown organically, with pesticides, and although conventional itself it could be transformed to add other producer or consumer traits."

In collaboration with scientists at Purdue University, tests are planned to evaluate the efficacy of the low-allergen soybean in swine. The Purdue team has bred a line of swine that develops a strong allergenic response very similar to that of human infants allergic to soybean formula. The swine studies will enable testing of Triple Null and enable new approaches to mitigate soybean allergies in humans.

"Food allergy is a huge and growing problem for children. In Arizona, teachers are required to undergo training in how to respond to an emergency situation where a child has a significant response to an allergen exposure," Herman explained. "We hope this work will offer a new approach to developing low-allergen foods and help to bend down the curve of growing food allergy."

Triple Null also has applications for livestock and agriculture with soybean being the primary global input of vegetable protein for animal feed. A growing use of soybean is in aquaculture, which produces more than 50 percent of consumed seafood, with this number expected to rise to 75 percent by 2030. Before soybean is used in feed, it must undergo a heating process to eliminate anti-nutritional proteins such as trypsin inhibitors and soybean agglutinin that add to cost — the very components that Herman, Schmidt and Hymowitz have effectively eliminated.

"All over the world, people are consuming more meat," Herman said. "At the current rate, we'll have to more than double the amount of animal feed by the year 2050. This means that several hundred million more tons of soybean will need to be processed before it can be fed to animals." By preemptively knocking out the anti-nutritional components of soybean, the researchers hope Triple Null can eliminate the need for extra processing and make creation of animal feed more efficient, potentially developing a raw soybean as animal feed.  

"By the year 2050, animal feed needs are expected to rise 235 percent," Schmidt said. "We're hoping that our soybeans can help with this. It's great to know that they can have an impact."

Editor: dougcarrollWriter: Raymond Sanchez Byline: Raymond SanchezByline Affiliation: NASA Space Grant Intern, University Relations – CommunicationsHeader image: YesNo Image: Subheading: Scientists from the UA and University of Illinois have created a new variety of low-allergenic soybean, and it could make the creation of animal feed more efficient.Include in UANow: yesInclude in Olympic Coverage: noFeature on Olympic Page: noIncludes video: 

Genetic Factors May Affect Exercise Benefit

Fri, 05/01/2015 - 12:55pm

Resistance exercise has well-known health benefits, but the magnitude of those benefits may differ according to an individual’s genetic make-up. Women with a high genetic risk of obesity may benefit less from resistance exercises than those at a lower genetic risk, according to research published in the International Journal of Obesity.

"With the recent identification of body mass index–associated genetic variants, it is possible to investigate the interaction of these genetic factors with exercise on body composition outcomes," said lead researcher Yann Klimentidis, assistant professor of epidemiology at the University of Arizona's Mel and Enid Zuckerman College of Public Health.

Klimentidis and colleagues analyzed genetic markers of 148 women between the ages of 30 and 65 years old who participated in a yearlong randomized trial called the Bone Estrogen and Strength Training, or BEST, study. During the trial, 84 participants were asked to engage in supervised, high-intensity resistance training and moderate-impact, weight-bearing exercises for 75 minutes, three days a week, for 12 months.

During the trial, participants were asked to take calcium supplements, but not to change their diet otherwise, and dietary intake was recorded at random intervals. A genetic risk score for obesity for each participant then was calculated based on 21 genetic markers thought to affect body weight. The authors found that participants with a low genetic risk score for obesity benefited most from the exercise regimen, at least when it came to weight and body composition outcomes. This included a reduction in weight, total and percentage body fat, and abdominal fat.

"This doesn’t mean that resistance training is futile for women with higher genetic risk for obesity. It means those with lower genetic risk just benefited more," explains Jennifer Bea, assistant professor at the UA College of Medicine – Tucson. "We have previously shown that the resistance training was important for these women in many other ways, including improved bone density. Like most interventions, exercise is not a one-size-fits-all proposition. People with higher genetic risk scores for higher BMI may benefit more from aerobic training, for example."

The study found weight-loss response to resistance exercise, including changes in body composition, differs according to an individual’s genetic risk for obesity.

The authors suggest that further studies in other populations be undertaken, with a focus on other health-related outcomes using other genetic variants. Further research also is needed to identify the molecular and physiological mechanisms that these genes are involved in, and to determine optimal weight-management strategies based on an individual’s genetic profile.

The BEST study was conducted by Timothy Lohman, professor emeritus in the Department of Physiology, and Scott Going, professor in the Department of Nutritional Sciences, at the UA.

Editor: dougcarrollByline Affiliation: UA Mel and Enid Zuckerman College of Public HealthHeader image: YesNo Image: Subheading: Resistance training isn't necessarily futile for women with higher genetic risk of obesity, UA researchers point out. Those with lower risk simply might have more to gain.Include in UANow: yesInclude in Olympic Coverage: noFeature on Olympic Page: noUANow Image: Includes video: 

Anivax Licenses UA-Developed Poultry Vaccine

Thu, 04/30/2015 - 5:52pm

Anivax and the University of Arizona have announced an agreement to license several technologies developed in a broad-based collaborative effort between the UA and Arizona State University. The license is for a revolutionary Campylobacter food safety vaccine designed to be administered to poultry to reduce colonization by the bacteria and ultimately lower the incidence of human disease and associated conditions.

The team of inventors includes individuals from both institutions, including: Bibiana Law, associate research professor in the UA School of Animal and Comparative Biomedical Sciences, College of Agriculture and Life Sciences and Anivax’s chief science officer; Alexandra Armstrong, assistant research scientist in the UA School of Animal and Comparative Biomedical Sciences, Food Safety Consortium chair and Anivax’s VP of research; Michael Anderson, Anivax’s VP of products with 25 years of vaccine commercialization experience; and Roy Curtiss III, of the Biodesign Institute at Arizona State University

Over the past week, Anivax has signed licenses with both the UA and ASU, with each license covering multiple pieces of intellectual property, or IP, and each being an essential ingredient of the novel vaccine process. ASU provided the IP for the delivery mechanism — known as the "vector" — for the Campylobacter antigens. The antigens were discovered at the UA, and thus required a separate license.

The license for the UA IP was facilitated by Tech Launch Arizona, the cabinet-level office of the university dedicated to commercializing the inventions emanating from research. Tod McCauley, licensing manager for Tech Launch Arizona and the UA College of Agriculture and Life Sciences, helped negotiate the UA license. According to McCauley, "This team is comprised of the leading Campylobacter researchers in the world. It has been exciting to watch the group take important steps towards commercialization."

Campylobacter jejuni infection is one of the most commonly identified bacterial causes of acute gastroenteritis worldwide, surpassing Salmonella. In the United States, it causes an estimated 1.3 million human health-related cases costing over $1 billion in health care costs each year. In developing countries, Campylobacter species are an important cause of childhood morbidity. The most important post-infectious complication of campylobacteriosis is Guillain-Barré syndrome, an acute disease of the peripheral nervous system that affects approximately 4,500 people in the United States each year.

Sherry Hoskinson, director of Tech Launch Arizona’s Wheelhouse, notes that the Anivax license is a direct result of combining university technology, researchers and business partners to create a solution.

"The UA license to Anivax and ensuing new investment and job creation are direct results of several programs implemented by Tech Launch Arizona at the UA," Hoskinson said. "We have worked diligently to create mechanisms to foster professional networks; improve relationships with UA colleges; recruit business leaders through our Commercialization Partners program; and refine cutting-edge technology with Proof-of-Concept funding. Anivax is a success story for everyone involved."

Anivax CEO John Buttery, who is also a UA alumnus with a B.S. in Finance and an M.B.A. from what is now the Eller College of Management, said, "Tucson is the ideal location for a new venture like Anivax. I am fortunate to be working with the UA, ASU and our expert team of research professionals to create a world-class vaccine for Campylobacter."

Added Law: "We will use the platform to deliver our C. jejuni antigens. Preliminary trials have demonstrated a Campylobacter reduction in poultry of up to 4 logs with various constructs of the vaccine."

According to Armstrong, "Successful vaccination of chickens would potentially lead to compliance with the new USDA performance standards for Campylobacter in chickens, resulting in significant reduction of human illnesses."

Editor: dougcarrollByline: Paul TumarkinByline Affiliation: Tech Launch ArizonaExtra Info: 

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UA Scores Highest for Grads' Financial Prospects

Thu, 04/30/2015 - 3:57pm

The University of Arizona received the highest scores in the state in a new measure of students' prospects for high-paying careers. The scores were released Wednesday by the Brookings Institution’s Metropolitan Policy Program.

The UA’s scores in the three categories measured were the highest among Arizona’s four-year universities, followed by Arizona State University (Tempe campus) and Northern Arizona University.

The scores take into account graduates’ midcareer salaries, rates of student loan repayment and what the report’s authors call occupational earnings power, which is the average salary of the college alumni’s occupations. The scores for the three state universities were:

  • Midcareer Salaries: UA 77, ASU 66, NAU 28.
  • Student Loan Repayment: UA 59, ASU 50, NAU 32.
  • Occupational Earnings Power: UA 85, ASU 72, NAU 31.

The numbers provided for each area were:

  • Midcareer Salary Median: UA $85,700, ASU $83,900, NAU $71,100.
  • Student Loan Repayment Rate for 2011-2014: UA 93.94 percent, ASU 92.37 percent, NAU 90.9 percent.
  • Average Salary for Alumni Occupations: UA $66,653, ASU $65,942, NAU $63,110.

The California Institute of Technology had the best scores overall, with 100, 91 and 100.

"College is a major investment for individuals and the taxpayers who subsidize it," Brookings Fellow Jonathan Rothwell, a co-author of the report, said in a statement. "So, the public has a huge stake in promoting quality. No ratings system can capture everything about a college that matters, but these data can shed some light on how colleges compare in their contributions to student success and, hopefully, spark further research with even better data."

The complete Brookings report, "Beyond College Rankings: A Value-Added Approach to Assessing Two- and Four-Year Schools," can be accessed at:

Editor: dougcarrollByline Affiliation: University Relations - CommunicationsHeader image: YesNo Image: Subheading: A new Brookings Institution report assigned scores based on graduate salaries and earning power, and the UA's were the highest among Arizona's state universities.Include in UANow: 0Include in Olympic Coverage: noFeature on Olympic Page: noIncludes video: 

An Investment in Different Disciplines

Thu, 04/30/2015 - 2:28pm

Photo: Beatriz Verdugo/UANews

Why would anyone want to double major in the humanities and a STEM field?

People ask Aretha Raiwe this question often. 

As a double major in Africana studies and veterinary science at the University of Arizona, Raiwe often gets puzzled looks when she speaks her dual passion: studying other cultures and helping animals. 

Asked if she can successfully navigate both academic spheres, she responds: "I am combining the two in order to hone my strengths. I want to learn how to better communicate. The best vets are those who can empathize and communicate with clients of all backgrounds."

After taking an Africana studies class as a freshman, she realized that she liked the material and was intrigued to learn more about race relations and issues affecting gender and class.

Raiwe was born in Lagos, Nigeria, and raised in the U.S. At the age of 7, she and her brother immigrated to the U.S. to join their mother, who had finished her psychiatry residency in New Jersey. From there, the family moved to Mississippi, where Raiwe finished middle and high school before moving to Tucson to begin her studies at the UA.

Growing up riding horses, Raiwe always knew she had a soft spot in her heart for helping animals. Veterinary science seemed the logical next step. It was her study in the humanities that allowed her to find her voice.

"In my science classes, you're not debating — you learn and regurgitate proven facts and information," she says. "But with humanities, you get to apply your own voice and perspective to the material. Your voice is in every essay you write."

Raiwe is learning that there is much she wants to experience and say about the world. She plans to return to Nigeria in the summer of 2016 to visit family and learn more about her heritage.

"I think it's important to get beyond our borders," she said.

Raiwe also is interested in exploring the possibility of working internationally in the veterinarian field. In the meantime, she has a full schedule of classes, working, volunteering and completing her internship as a College of Humanities Ambassador.  

"It's very important to me to serve the community," she said, describing her weekly volunteer shift at the Sister Jose women's homeless shelter.

So what does she hope to gain from both of her majors?

Her science background will enable her to pursue a goal of specializing in veterinary medicine for large animals, such as horses, cows and pigs.

And her humanities background?

"It's hard to teach people skills in a science class," Raiwe said. "My humanities classes give me a chance to speak, analyze and think critically."

Categories: Arts and HumanitiesScience and TechnologyTeaching and StudentsThis is a Wildcat Corner feature: Images: Tags: StudentsStudent LifeByline: University Relations - Communications |Editor: dougcarrollInclude in UANow: 0Date of Publication: Friday, May 1, 2015Medium Summary: Although Aretha Raiwe has a soft spot for animals, she has found her voice in the humanities.Feature on Front: YesShort Summary: Although Aretha Raiwe has a soft spot for animals, she has found her voice in the humanities.Send to Never Settle Site: 0UA in the News Spotlight: Includes video: 

Meet the Beetle that Packs a Machine Gun

Thu, 04/30/2015 - 11:49am

If you thought that a beetle with a machine gun built into its rear end was something that only exists in sci-fi movies, you should talk to Wendy Moore at the University of Arizona.

Many beetles secrete foul-smelling or bad-tasting chemicals from their abdomens to ward off predators, but bombardier beetles take it a step further. When threatened, they combine chemicals in an explosive chemical reaction chamber in their abdomen to simultaneously synthesize, heat and propel their defensive load as a boiling hot spray, complete with "gun smoke." They can even precisely aim the nozzle at the attacker.

Moore, an assistant professor in the Department of Entomology at the UA College of Agriculture and Life Sciences, just published a paper together with a multidisciplinary team of scientists that not only reveals the beetle's firing apparatus in never-before-seen detail, but also solves a long-standing mystery of how the animals achieve their insane rapid-fire capabilities.

"Understanding how these beetles produce – and survive – repetitive explosions could provide new design principles for technologies such as blast mitigation and propulsion," said the lead authors of the study about the motivation for their research. The study was led by doctoral student Eric Arndt and Christine Ortiz in the Department of Materials Science and Engineering at Massachusetts Institute of Technology in Cambridge.

Arndt and Ortiz teamed up with Moore to study the anatomy of the beetle's reaction chamber, which is constructed of cuticle, a composite of chitin, proteins and waxes. The sturdy material, which also makes up the exoskeleton of insects, protects the beetle from the toxic chemicals, high temperatures and high pressures during explosions.

However, the mechanism of the bombardier beetle's spray pulsation had not been understood because previous studies, relying on external observations, could not probe what exactly happens inside the reaction chamber of the chemical gun.

"Twenty-five years ago, a team of scientists from Cornell University and MIT discovered that each blast from the bombardier beetle is actually a series of extraordinarily fast micro-pulses," Moore said. "What wasn't known is what causes each discharge to be pulsed, like a machine gun. Previous researchers suggested that the pulses were caused by muscle contractions or by a fluttering of the exit duct during the explosions."

Using enzymes that digest away muscle and fat, Moore could clean the reaction chamber and examine it with optical microscopy in detail as never before. While studying the shape of the reaction chamber, she noticed that some regions of the chamber wall were thin and not as strong as others, and that one region near the mixing valve looked particularly thin. She predicted that this thin cuticle would be displaced by the force of the reactions in such a way that it would impinge upon the valve, temporarily shutting off the flow of reactants.

To investigate this hypothesis, the team decided to directly observe the internal dynamics of spray pulsation in live beetles of the species Brachinus elongatulus, a species found in riparian habitats throughout southern Arizona.



The team took hundreds of Brachinus beetles to Wah-Keat Lee, a synchrotron scientist who at the time was with the Advanced Photon Source at Argonne National Laboratory in suburban Chicago, to study them with ultrafast X-ray imaging. A co-author of the study who is now at Brookhaven National Laboratory, Lee helped set up an experiment to obtain X-ray video of beetles firing their smoking rounds at up to 2,000 frames per second.

Moore and her collaborators set up the beetles in a tightly sealed room next to the synchrotron -- a particle accelerator that can produce intense X-rays.

"We could manipulate the beetles remotely using robots from a radiation-free control room, while the X-rays penetrated the beetle abdomen, allowing us to visualize the discharges inside," Moore said.

The easiest and least invasive method to get a bombardier beetle to fire is by grabbing one of its legs with forceps. To get usable footage, the researchers had to precisely coordinate the remote handling of the beetles, the X-ray source and the high-speed videography.

"The X-ray source is very intense, but it doesn't kill the beetles," Moore said. "For each experiment we had to cool the beetle down, carefully set it up in the observation chamber such that the X-ray beam was aimed precisely at the defensive glands, seal the doors, walk over to mission control, flip the switch to allow the X-ray beam to enter the room, and use robotic manipulators to remotely touch the beetle's leg so it would blast. In some cases, just turning the radiation on caused them to blast."

Of 500 beetles, the researchers were able to record 30 discharges from 14 individuals, enough to provide high-definition, high-speed video of what happens inside a bombardier beetle's reaction chamber when it goes off. Moore and her collaborators observed how the beetles regulate the ultrafast micro-pulses, something that had never been achieved before.

It turns out the pulses are generated in a passive way, not through an active process involving muscle contraction, as had been hypothesized before. As the chemicals pass through a valve into the reaction chamber, they mix with enzymes and explosively liberate oxygen gas, water vapor and heat, propelling a hot, noxious spray down the nozzle and out the exit pore. Each explosion inside the chamber forces a highly elastic region of the chamber wall -- the thin cuticular area Moore found in her earlier dissections -- to expand and impinge on the valve that separates the two chambers, temporarily cutting off the flow of reactants and resulting in a pulsed delivery.

"It turns out the expansion membrane of the reaction chamber acts as a passive closure mechanism, which is something that had not been described or even predicted before this study," Moore said. "We also discovered that the chamber's anatomy varies between female and male beetles."

While it is still not completely clear why it might be beneficial to the beetle to have a pulsed delivery, Moore suspects that dividing the spray into very short, rapid pulses allows the beetle to sustain the energy of the blast and its small body size at the same time.

"By having a pulsed delivery, these small beetles produce a relatively large amount of defensive spray, which they can aim precisely and with great force and speed," Moore said. "This is truly one of the most remarkable and elegant defensive mechanisms documented to date."

Funding information: Use of the Advanced Photon Source was supported by the U.S. Department of Energy (DE-AC02-06CH11357). This work was supported by the MIT Institute of Soldier Nanotechnologies (W911NF-13-D-0001), MIT Center for Materials Science and Engineering (Contract No. DMR-08-19762), National Security Science and Engineering Faculty Fellowship (N00244-09-1-0064 to Christine Ortiz); National Science Foundation (DEB-0908187 to Wendy Moore), and the U.S. Department of Energy (DE- SC0012704).



Editor: Daniel StolteWriter: Daniel StolteByline: Daniel StolteByline Affiliation: University Relations – CommunicationsHeader image: YesNo Image: Subheading: Scientists discovered how bombardier beetles manage to fire rapid bursts of a searing hot chemical mix at predators or other creatures that harass them.Include in UANow: yesInclude in Olympic Coverage: noFeature on Olympic Page: noIncludes video: