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Expert on African-American genetics shifts his focus

Mon, 09/29/2014 - 16:40
Date of Publication: Monday, September 29, 2014 Organization : The Chronicle of Higher EducationCategory(s): Science and TechnologyOther Story Image: Short Summary: Rick A. Kittles will study Native Americans in leading the division of population genetics at the UA’s Center for Applied Genetics and Genomic Medicine.Include in Olympic coverage: noFeature on olympic page: noMedium Summary: Rick A. Kittles will study Native Americans in leading the division of population genetics at the UA’s Center for Applied Genetics and Genomic Medicine.

UA Center: When Disaster Strikes, Preparedness Is Key

Fri, 09/26/2014 - 16:02

Imagine this: You work at a community health center. It has been more than 110 degrees for five straight days, the power in your building is out and 50 people in the clinic waiting room are seeking medical attention.

What do you do?

Through trainings and mock scenarios, the Mountain West Preparedness & Emergency Response Learning Center at the University of Arizona's Mel & Enid Zuckerman College of Public Health helps prepare organizations for emergencies such as this.

The center, also known as MWPERLC, has trained thousands in emergency preparedness since it was established in 2005. It largely serves the health-care workforce, including state, county and tribal health departments in Arizona, Montana, Nevada, Utah, Colorado and New Mexico. In addition, the center has provided strategic guidance and services to schools, law enforcement agencies and non-governmental organizations.

“We as a community need to be prepared to help each other out. You can only help others if you’ve prepared yourself first, if you’ve taken the initiative,” said Mona Arora, a senior research specialist at the center.

MWPERLC offers online training in various aspects of emergency response, ranging from mass care to medical countermeasures.

The center also develops and conducts face-to-face trainings and emergency exercises, designing and facilitating functional exercises that allow an agency and its employees to simulate the response and rapid problem-solving skills needed to manage a hypothetical emergency.

"It makes it more realistic. It adds the pressure factor into it, that real-time response," Arora said.

Earlier this month, which is National Preparedness Month, Arora and colleagues led a training with the Marana Health Center, using the afrementioned extreme weather scenario.

The health center employees responded through a tabletop exercise, in which they had to answer the question, "If this were to happen in real life, what would Marana Health Center be doing?"

The health center exercise was limited to a tabletop discussion. If it had progressed to a functional exercise, participants would have received mock phone calls from other agencies, simulating escalating conditions and requesting needed actions.

"They'll actually be role playing," Arora said. She said MWPERLC has used UA students and trained staff members to make phone calls and create the feel of a real emergency situation.

"What we do is set the stage," Arora said.

MWPERLC works closely with public health professionals, but it also works with the UA community.

"We do work with the University as a whole to bring people together, to bring different departments together to make sure everybody is on the same page as to what their roles and responsibilities are (in the event of an emergency)," Arora said. "Moreover, we work together as a team when such a situation arises."

In 2009, when the H1N1 virus outbreak struck Arizona, the center played a critical role in bringing together different UA departments and students to distribute seasonal flu vaccinations.  The center worked with units such as Campus Health; the Colleges of Public Health, Pharmacy and Medicine; the UA Police Department; Parking & Transportation; Life & Work Connections and others.

Forty-three student volunteers from various disciplines helped the UA Campus Emergency Response Team Mass Clinic Planning Subgroup set up a “drive-through POD,” or point of dispensing. They administered 500 vaccinations in three hours to individuals, who were able to remain in their vehicles.

The planning subgroup saw the mass immunization as an opportunity to implement and test  a “mass clinic” plan that it had been developing. This was the first time it was able to test the plan.  

“It was a success because we were able to train a lot of people,” Arora said. “Having the campus community train on our plans helps us as an institution better prepare and respond to a public health emergency.”

MWPERLC offers many different trainings and services through funding from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. (Read more about the CDC grant in this UANews story.)

Agencies can request training support from the MWPERLC. The center will adapt its workshop curriculum to meet an agency's specific needs.

Arora says the benefit of emergency preparedness is being able to use the knowledge and skills gained to help others, be they co-workers or family members.

“In the bigger scheme of things, that’s what community resiliency is all about,” Arora said.

Brenda Granillo, the program director, says the community “plays a vital role in emergency planning and strengthening the nation’s overall level of preparedness.”

“The more we engage our communities, the better we can understand their real-life safety and sustaining needs and their motivations to participate in emergency-management-related activities prior to an event.”

For more information on the center, visit

Editor: Alexis BlueWriter: Brittney Smith Byline: Brittney Smith Byline Affiliation: University Relations - CommunicationsHeader image: YesNo Image: Subheading: The UA's Mountain West Preparedness & Emergency Response Learning Center has trained thousands in emergency preparedness.Include in UANow: 0Include in Olympic Coverage: noFeature on Olympic Page: no

A New Method for Healing Hearts

Fri, 09/26/2014 - 14:05

In a cutting-edge new clinical trial, the University of Arizona's Dr. Zain Khalpey is using tissue from the human placenta to help heal hearts after surgery.

Khalpey, a cardiothoracic surgeon, has been applying amniotic tissue, which has powerful anti-inflammatory and anti-scarring effects, to human hearts since last year.

He was the first in the world to practice the technique, which he says appears to significantly reduce risk for postsurgical complications such as atrial fibrillation, or abnormal heart rhythm.

Between 27 and 40 percent of heart surgery patients develop postoperative atrial fibrillation, which reduces blood flow and increases the risk of stroke and other serious complications.

The irregular heart rhythm usually begins three to six days after surgery and is thought to be caused by postsurgical inflammation, said Khalpey, an associate professor in the UA Department of Surgery and surgical director of the Heart Transplant and Mechanical Circulatory Support Program at the UA Medical Center.

In an effort to reduce inflammation – and thereby risk for atrial fibrillation – Khalpey applies an amniotic membrane patch to the area of the heart where the surgery was performed. The patch is made from the inner layer of the placenta, which supplies blood and nutrients to the baby in the womb, and is rich in anti-inflammatory proteins.

"This is an anti-inflammatory blanket that sits on top of the heart, and it basically cools it down," Khalpey said.

The technique seems to be working.

Early clinical results suggest that the patch may reduce the risk for postsurgical atrial fibrillation to less than 10 percent. Khalpey will explore the patch's effectiveness further in a new two-year clinical trial looking specifically at patients who have undergone coronary artery bypass surgery.

The patch, which is biodegradable and dissolves as the patient heals, also helps prevent scarring, which is especially helpful in long-term cardiac patients who may require additional surgeries in the future, Khalpey said.

The amniotic tissue comes from female donors who have had a caesarean birth. Since the tissue doesn't provoke the vigorous antibody response that transplanted organs do, immunosuppressant drugs aren't needed, Khalpey said.

Because of its anti-inflammatory and anti-scarring effects, amniotic tissue has been used by surgeons for years to promote healing of eye wounds and other surface wounds, especially diabetic wounds.

But it never had been used on hearts until now.

"With this patch," Khalpey said, "you are potentially minimizing postoperative atrial fibrillation, which leads to a lower incidence of postoperative strokes, morbidity and mortality and eventually leads to shortening a patient's hospital stay."

Editor: dougcarrollWriter: Alexis BlueByline: Alexis BlueByline Affiliation: University Relations - CommunicationsHeader image: YesNo Image: Subheading: A UA surgeon is exploring how amniotic tissue, with its anti-inflammatory and anti-scarring properties, may help prevent complications after heart surgery.Include in UANow: yesInclude in Olympic Coverage: noFeature on Olympic Page: noUANow Image: 

Using the Force: UA Police Officer Completes NASA Project

Thu, 09/25/2014 - 13:40

One night on patrol at the Posada San Pedro residence hall on the University of Arizona campus, UA Police Officer Andrew Lincowski found himself stopping to help a student in need. This was not the kind of aid that police officers normally perform: Lincowski was summoned to assist with physics homework.

If this seems unusual for an on-duty officer, that's because it is. Lincowski is also an undergraduate student at the UA studying physics and astronomy, and recently he completed a summer-long internship at NASA.

The possibility of finding life-sustaining planets beyond our solar system has long captured the public's imagination, and the search is intensifying among today's top scientists. This past summer, Lincowski joined leading scientific minds at NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center in the investigation.

Lincowski traveled to Greenbelt, Maryland, over the summer as a NASA intern. Out of several hundred participants in the internship program, Lincowski was one of only 16 nationwide recipients of the prestigious John Mather Nobel Scholarship, offered by the National Space Grant Foundation. During his stay, he participated in a project affectionately called "Finding the Needles in the Haystacks," otherwise known as the Haystacks Project.

"Haystacks is all about searching for Earth-like, extrasolar planets," says Lincowski. "This work is enabling us to determine what else is out there."

The existence of extrasolar planets, or exoplanets, wasn't confirmed until 1988. Since then, more than 1,800 exoplanets have been discovered. The goal of Haystacks is to create high-fidelity models of extrasolar planetary systems to help scientists identify exoplanets and investigate them for signs of life.

"These models will be the inputs for detailed simulations of exoplanet observations with future NASA missions, including ones capable of finding truly Earth-like planets," explains NASA scientist Aki Roberge, principal investigator on the Haystacks Project and a mentor to Lincowski.

Spotting the dim light that corresponds to a far-away exoplanet is a colossal undertaking. One of the most effective ways to determine what an Earth-like planet might look like is to study the properties of our own solar system. Lincowski's role in the Haystacks Project was to create a model of how our solar system would appear if observed from far away.

Lincowski's efforts on Haystacks will inform the development of the Advanced Technology Large-Aperture Space Telescope, a NASA flagship mission planned for launch between 2025 and 2035. ATLAST will scan the stars for signs of life beyond our own solar system, and provide scientists with new insights into the underlying physics governing our universe.

"Andrew did an amazing job on the project this summer, showing great independence and persistence," Roberge says. "I think Andrew is a born scientist. He combines intelligence and discipline with valuable skills in writing and communication."

When he's not preoccupied unraveling the mysteries of the cosmos, Lincowski can be found in uniform, serving protecting his fellow students as an officer in the UA Police Department.

After Lincowski graduated with an accounting degree from the UA in 2006, he began working for a homebuilder. When the housing market crashed, he decided that he'd had enough of accounting and joined the Tucson Police Department. He hopes to one day work for the FBI and investigate financial crimes.

Ultimately, his interest in mathematics and the origins of the universe led him back to the UA in 2011 to begin his studies in physics and astronomy. In the spring of 2012, he transferred from TPD to UAPD.

"I loved it," Lincowski says. "UAPD is different than city or town agencies — they truly partner with the community."

Since then, he has managed to juggle a full academic course load and a demanding career as a campus police officer. He says the role of UAPD is far more diverse than people might realize.

"It's important to educate students and faculty about law and safety," says Lincowski, who also serves as a UAPD liaison to the Posada San Pedro residence hall. "We spend a lot of time on public outreach, and teaching people how to prepare for and deal with emergencies."

Brian Seastone, chief of police at UAPD, calls the department's commitment to community-oriented policing "total engagement."

"At the University, you can go from responding to a fire alarm to talking to a Nobel laureate — it's an incredible place to work," Seastone says. "We don't want officers just going out there and patrolling, we want them getting involved in the campus community.

"We are very fortunate that we have not only Andrew but a number of officers and civilian employees that are going to school, so they can see the student side of campus life and bring it back to UAPD. It makes us a better department."

When considering a drastic career change, Lincowski said it was important to be well rounded, have a financial plan, and be mentally and physically prepared to make the transition.

"You have to jump in with both feet, and be prepared for the long haul," he says. "You can't slack."

After the completion of his studies, Lincowski hopes to attend graduate school and complete a Ph.D. in astrophysics. He'd like to study high-energy physics, the origins of the universe, and the fundamental nature of matter and energy.

"Physics and astronomy are relatively far removed from the normal perception of most people, but everyone's technology is based on physics," Lincowski says. "We are at a point where computing technology is not going to progress much further without understanding and employing quantum mechanics. Advanced physics is required to continue to develop technology, even in biology and medicine."

Lincowski hopes that his efforts will help the public understand the importance of STEM education and increase awareness of scientific advancements.

"They say that civilizations are measured by their art and science," he says. "These things increase the quality of our lives, and move us forward as a species."

Editor: dougcarrollWriter: Raymond SanchezByline: Raymond SanchezByline Affiliation: University Relations - CommunicationsHeader image: YesNo Image: Subheading: University of Arizona Police Officer Andrew Lincowski joined planetary scientists at NASA this summer to search for exoplanets that might have the potential to harbor life. Include in UANow: yesInclude in Olympic Coverage: noFeature on Olympic Page: noUANow Image: 

What's Your State's Most Unusual Food Topic?

Wed, 09/24/2014 - 21:00
Date of Publication: Monday, September 22, 2014 Organization : People magazineCategory(s): HealthOther Story Image: Short Summary: The authors of a UA study were able to figure out some fun factoids about eating across the country.Include in Olympic coverage: noFeature on olympic page: noMedium Summary: The authors of a UA study were able to figure out some fun factoids about eating across the country.

Live Bugs Tell of a Bug's Life at Insect Festival

Wed, 09/24/2014 - 14:03

Ask any entomologist, and you might be told that bugs rule the world. Each year in September, they certainly rule the show during the Arizona Insect Festival. Now in its fourth year, the event has the University of Arizona Student Union Memorial Center crawling with an estimated 5,000 people, wanting to learn about insects, interact with them and marvel at their incredible diversity.

"Insects play very important roles — for example, as recyclers of biological matter and in pollination ecology — and they're a hugely important resource in the form of prey to larger animals, so they're key to many ecosystem processes that hold everything together," said Wendy Moore, an assistant professor in the UA Department of Entomology and one of the organizers of the festival.

Insects are among the most diverse groups of animals, accounting for more than half of all known living organisms. Southern Arizona is one of the most diverse areas for arthropods — insects, spiders and their kin — in the United States, according to Moore, who is the curator of the UA's insect collection and runs the "arthropod zoo" at the festival.

"The Southwest is extraordinarily rich in arthropod species," Moore said, "and that's partially due to the fact that we're in the sky island region with so many different elevations for arthropods to exist in. In addition, this region is a confluence for faunas from the North, the South and the deserts."

The UA Center for Insect Science brings together researchers and students from several departments, including entomology in the UA College of Agriculture and Life Sciences and ecology and evolutionary biology and neuroscience in the College of Science.

"Together we form this great, world-renowned collection of researchers of arthropods that makes the UA a leader in arthropod research," Moore said.

"The students are an essential part of the festival, because to put on a party like this, it really takes a village. And our students are some of the most enthusiastic participants that we have. They are integral in designing and running every single booth, and in doing the interactions. It's a great opportunity for them to engage with the public and talk about their research."

About 20 booths at the Sept. 21 event offered visitors a glimpse into various aspects of insects. There were plenty of opportunities to get up close and personal, from caterpillar- and roach-petting stations to the microscopes revealing the inner workings of bug brains, from live specimens of the world's most painful stinging insect (the tarantula wasp) to more environmentally friendly ways to fight insect pests.

Bruce Tabashnik, head of the entomology department and a world-renowned expert in studying insect resistance to genetically engineered crop plants, said: "This festival is a great opportunity to show people what integrated pest management is all about. We are well-known for linking with farmers and really anyone who is concerned about controlling insects, in environmentally friendly ways that are sustainable and don't poison people or other living things. We're interested in advancing any knowledge about insects, and to use that information to improve the lives of the people of Arizona and the world."

Editor: dougcarrollWriter: Daniel StolteByline: Daniel StolteByline Affiliation: University Relations - CommunicationsHeader image: YesNo Image: Subheading: UA students brought the hidden world of insects to the community at the annual event, which showcases the Southwest as a hotspot of arthropod diversity. Include in UANow: yesInclude in Olympic Coverage: noFeature on Olympic Page: noUANow Image: 

Bad Behavior: Personal Choice or Unintended Outcome?

Fri, 09/19/2014 - 14:56

What is the source of bad behavior? I believe the answer lies in the dialogue created at places such as the University of Arizona's Center for Leadership Ethics at the Eller College of Management.

The UA center is engaged in education involving ethical practices at both the high school and college levels and solving ethical behavior issues, which have been trending in the wrong direction. The center also actively discusses unethical behavior and the positive impact that addressing these behaviors will have on our society. In short, the center is committed to changing a current societal shortcoming by educating early and setting the right examples.

Regardless of whether unethical behavior is a choice or an unintended consequence, its existence generally harms not only innocent people but also industries, schools and governments. Unethical behavior has an impact on the integrity of systems and industries. We don't need to look any further than the sub-prime mortgage crisis, Ponzi investment schemes, falsified corporate financial reporting and government scandals to see the evidence of this.

So where does my interest in ethics come from? I have chosen a profession that is highly regulated, or perhaps even overregulated.

I say this with a complete understanding that the primary argument for high regulation is ethics-based. But what is ethical behavior?

There was a time when ethical behavior simply meant that you treated people well, did not steal, did not lie and did not cheat. You simply practiced professionalism and worked diligently. If you did these things, you performed your job in an "ethical" manner. Today, the industry has shifted into a hypervigilant regulation of lawyers and their law firms, one that stretches beyond the above-described ethics code.

What has changed?

Studies show that unethical behavior is often accepted and practiced by both high school and college students in the form of cheating, plagiarism and even taking medications to obtain a testing advantage. Some would argue that this happens because schools and parents have failed to give students a strong, clear message that these behaviors are wrong and will not be tolerated. But maybe this conclusion is too simplistic.

In an April 20, 2011, op-ed piece published in The New York Times, "Stumbling Into Bad Behavior," authors Max Bazerman and Ann Tenbrunsel state that unethical conduct occurs because "people are unconsciously fooling themselves. They overlook transgressions — bending a rule to help a colleague, overlooking information that might damage the reputation of a client — because it is in their interest to do so." Bazerman and Tenbrunsel argue that when people are busy at work and life, we fail to even notice that a decision has an ethical component, which allows us to "behave unethically while maintaining a positive self-image." I also believe that this failure to consciously evaluate decisions with the ethical component in mind allows normally ethical people to accept the unethical behaviors of others.

With a prevalently tolerant attitude toward unethical behaviors, it's easy to see its impact on adults in their professional work environments: professional athletes attempting to cheat by using performance enhancing drugs; a job applicant lying on an application; or a company CEO who falsifies financial statements to satisfy Wall Street expectations.

So will increasing the punishment for unethical behavior at a young age change a student's perspective before entering the workforce? I can certainly think of modern-day examples where this is not the case. State bar associations disbar lawyers every year for acting unethically, and this isn't enough of a deterrent to change behavior. In fact, in the same op-ed piece referenced above, Bazerman and Tenbrunsel state that fines and penalties can actually increase the undesirable behaviors they are designed to discourage: "With no penalty, the situation was construed as an ethical dilemma; the penalty caused individuals to view the decision as a financial one."

So if the threat of punishment or a clear negative outcome isn't enough to change behavior, what will? Quite simply, programs such as the UA's Center for Leadership Ethics at Eller.

Doug Zanes is the owner and responsible attorney for Zanes Law, a personal injury law firm established in Arizona in 2003. Zanes, who has invested more than 17 years practicing law, is a newly appointed member of the advisory board member at the University of Arizona Eller College of Management's Center for Leadership Ethics. With a three-pronged focus on research, education and outreach, the center works to advance improvements in organizational ethics. The Center for Leadership Ethics consists of scholars with diverse interests pertaining to leadership ethics who are committed to improving the ethical culture of organizations.

Categories: Business and LawThis is a Wildcat Corner feature: Images: Tags: Guest PostEducationOutreachByline: Doug Zanes |UANow Image: Editor: dougcarrollInclude in UANow: 0Date of Publication: Friday, September 19, 2014Medium Summary: What's the source of unethical behavior and why don't punitive measures prevent it from happening? In this guest column, Doug Zanes, a newly appointed member of the advisory board at the UA Eller College of Management's Center for Leadership Ethics, explains the challenges.Feature on Front: NoShort Summary: Is unethical behavior a choice?

'Arizona Illustrated' to Feature Inspirational UA Student

Thu, 09/18/2014 - 19:28

The inspirational story of Samir Madden, a UA junior who is a congenital quadruple amputee, will be featured on "Arizona Illustrated," airing at 6:30 p.m. Sept. 21 on PBS 6.

As president of the International Child Amputee Network, Madden works to increase awareness of children with limb differences in schools and classrooms. He teaches and mentors on issues of self-esteem, bullying and acceptance. He is studying history and religious studies at the UA.

Two additional Tucsonans will be featured in the broadcast: Tamara McKinney, program director of the Reading Seed, and Tom Kramkowski, dropout prevention specialist and Youth on Their Own liaison.

McKinney is an advocate for reading proficiency and literacy in the K-3 student population. Reading Seed trains volunteers to work with struggling readers on motivation, phonemic awareness, phonics, vocabulary, fluency and comprehension.

Kramkowski works to identify, guide and assist at-risk teens in the Tucson Unified School District. Many of the students with whom he works lack the support of a caring adult and have no permanent residence or consistent home environment.  

Madden's story also is one of 14 that will be broadcast nationally as part of "American Graduate Day 2014," which will air from 8 a.m. to 3 p.m. Sept. 27 on PBS 6. UA President Ann Weaver Hart will introduce the program.

"American Graduate Day 2014," hosted by author and U.S. Army veteran Wes Moore, will celebrate the exceptional work of individuals and groups across the country who are helping youth stay on track for college and career success. This year’s topics include early education, caring consistent adults, more and better learning, special needs, STEAM, dropout prevention and re-engagement, career readiness and college completion.

The program will be anchored by a series of 14 one-minute profile pieces that spotlight individuals around the country who are keeping students on the path to graduation.









Byline Affiliation: University Relations - CommunicationsWhat: 'Arizona Illustrated'Where: PBS 6When: 6:30 p.m. Sept. 21Header image: YesNo Image: Subheading: Samir Madden, a junior studying history and religious studies who is a quadruple amputee, is the subject of a profile by Arizona Public Media.Include in UANow: 0Include in Olympic Coverage: noFeature on Olympic Page: no

100% Student Engagement Series: Boeing Internship Provides Inside View of Management

Thu, 09/18/2014 - 18:42

The University of Arizona is committed to ensuring that every student integrates and applies learning via internships, jobs, research and other opportunities relevant to the real world. This is the last in a five-part UANews series detailing industry-related experiences UA students have completed.

Ryan Mooney, a UA senior studying finance in the Eller College of Management, has long been interested in the aerospace industry and decided to pursue an internship with the Boeing Company because of its "highly respected reputation and its innovative products that connect people around the world."

Mooney said he gained an inside view of how commercial airplanes are manufactured. He also learned more about the everyday business aspects of operating a major global corporation.

As his 12-week internship came to a close, Mooney shared a bit about his experience.

Q: Tell us about your responsibilities.

Mooney: I worked on the 787 Final Assembly Finance team and some of my responsibilities included providing production support teams with financial products and cost management tools. I also helped in the financial forecast for the third quarter for customers, and quantified risks and opportunities for support teams that would be incorporated into the forecast. Lastly, I was responsible for selecting a summer project. I had to independently investigate a solution to a current issue on the 787 program and present my finding to managers and team members.     

Q: What are some of the most important things you learned in the course of the internship? 

Mooney: Some of the most important things I learned throughout my internship include the importance of adapting to a team environment. Working with other members on my finance team and support team managers was an essential component to providing the necessary financial data. Communication was another important aspect of my internship. During staff meetings, I was responsible for communicating the weekly breakdown of financial data for support team managers. Lastly, I learned to take advantage of the resources that Boeing provided for interns, which included informational interviews with managers, intern speaker series, interns tours and other developmental resources that helped to give interns a sense of pride for working at Boeing.     

Q: How will you apply what you have learned? 

Mooney: I will apply what I learned both in class and in my future career after college. No matter the industry, communication and teamwork are critical skills that lead to success. My experience at Boeing gave me an idea of the hard work it takes to excel in a large business and the importance of collaborating with colleagues in order to accomplish the goals expected to succeed in any business or industry.  

Categories: Campus NewsTeaching and StudentsThis is a Wildcat Corner feature: Images: Tags: StudentsStudent LifeEducationOutreachByline: University Relations - Communications |Editor: dougcarrollInclude in UANow: 0Date of Publication: Friday, September 19, 2014Medium Summary: Ryan Mooney, a UA senior studying finance, completed an internship with Boeing. Feature on Front: NoShort Summary: Ryan Mooney, a UA senior studying finance, completed an internship with Boeing.

100% Student Engagement Series: UA Student Lands Macy's Internship

Thu, 09/18/2014 - 16:33

The University of Arizona is committed to ensuring that every student integrates and applies learning via internships, jobs, research and other opportunities relevant to the real world. This is the fourth in a five-part UANews series detailing industry-related experiences UA students have completed.

Natalie Sanchez with Terry J. Lundgren, the CEO of Macy's (and a UA alumnus).

Natalie Sanchez, a journalism senior with a minor in fashion, worked this past summer with Macy's Merchandising Group in New York City as a private brands marketing intern. 

Sanchez said she was "truly blessed" for gaining the internship with the company, which provides merchandising services to a broad range of popular brands, including Kenneth Cole, Jones New York, Liz Claiborne and Nine West. She won the internship after interviewing Terry J. Lundgren, the CEO of Macy's and a UA alumnus. Sanchez's interview with Lundgren is available online.

Sanchez shared with us about her experience with Macy's.

Q: Why did you want to work with the Macy's Merchandising Group? 

Sanchez: Prior to interviewing the CEO, I didn’t consider having a career in retail, since I am a journalism major. But when the opportunity arose, I knew I would be foolish not to take it. During my interview, I specified that I wanted to do marketing because of the marketing experience that I gained last fall with Tucson Fashion Week. I knew I could implement my journalistic skills in video, writing and communications to be a successful asset.

UA students took part in a 5K run to raise money for the Ronald McDonald House New York. From left: Codey Villanue, Stephanie Ho, Natalie Sanchez and Stephanie Mcllroy.

Q: What were your responsibilities?

Sanchez: My responsibilities started off initially small, but as I spoke with my supervisor about ideas that I wanted to implement that is when it took off. My main focus soon centered around making corporate videos and I was even able to teach the team a thing or two. What was really exciting is that one of the videos that I edited was shown at a conference for all of the Macy's district managers to see. And if I couldn't solve a problem myself, I would ask my office team for help. They were extremely kind and provided me with much insight about their experience with the company.

Q: What have you learned in your experience? 

Sanchez: I was also placed into a group with five other interns. We were assigned a case study from the company and had to come up with a solution to present before the executives. It taught me that not everyone works at the same pace and may also not be as organized. But I loved this aspect of the internship because in order for us to find a solution it required detailed research from within the company's databases, and also external marketing databases. Something else that was great about this was the opportunity to talk with VPs about the marketing strategy I wanted to implement. So I learned a lot about the company, made connections and learned how to work with others who are successful but may have different work habits than myself.

Q: How do you envision that your summer internship will help you, academically and professionally? 

Sanchez: The internship taught me to be more understanding when working with others, since everyone works at a different pace. Professionally, I made a lot of connections in Macy's and know this will help me substantially in the future. Networking is key and is the main reason I obtained this internship. It also showed me when it is necessary to take a step away from work and to finish the task the next day instead of frequently staying later.

Q: If you could share advice with other students, what would you emphasize? 

A: Anything can happen. I work with the Arizona Opera from time to time, and something can happen unexpectedly onstage or where a recasting is needed last minute. Regardless of these obstacles, the show must go on. The same goes with the corporate world. I also appreciated the fact that Macy's Inc. is immersed in many different charities. Volunteering is important to me, and I am happy to see that even a large corporation values helping others. Mr. Lundgren is a truly inspiring and vibrant man, and I'm grateful I could interview him and intern with his company.

From left: Stephanie Ho, Terry J. Lundgren, Natalie Sanchez, Codey Villanue and Stephanie Mcllroy

Categories: Teaching and StudentsThis is a Wildcat Corner feature: Images: Tags: StudentsStudent LifeEducationResearchOutreachByline: University Relations - Communications |UANow Image: Editor: dougcarrollInclude in UANow: 0Date of Publication: Thursday, September 18, 2014Medium Summary: Natalie Sanchez spent most of her summer in New York City, interning with Macy's Merchandising Group. She was hired for the position after interviewing Terry J. Lundgren, Macy's CEO. Feature on Front: NoShort Summary: Natalie Sanchez spent most of her summer in New York City, interning with Macy's Merchandising Group. She was hired for the position after interviewing Terry J. Lundgren, Macy's CEO.

100% Student Engagement Series: UA Journalism Program Led to Newspaper Gig

Wed, 09/17/2014 - 17:29

The University of Arizona is committed to ensuring that every student integrates and applies learning via internships, jobs, research and other opportunities relevant to the real world. This is the third in a five-part UANews series detailing industry-related experiences UA students have completed.

Justin Sayers with his family at the UA commencement ceremony in May 2014.

Having earned his bachelor's degree in journalism from the UA in May, Justin Sayers spent part of his summer serving as a sports copy editor with the Hartford Courant, a newspaper in Connecticut.

While at the Courant, Sayers was responsible for editing sports stories for accuracy, grammar and style. In the deadline-prone environment, Sayers said he had to "adapt to the fast pace of a real-life newsroom. I've been able to learn a lot about copy editing, which has actually helped me become a better writer and better journalist."

Sayers returns to the UA this fall to begin the master's degree program in journalism, and his long-term professional plan is to work for a newspaper as a reporter. He offered insights about his summer experience.

Q: How did you land your summer internship?

Sayers: I got my internship for the summer through the UA's School of Journalism. When I was a junior, one of the representatives from the Dow Jones News Fund came to talk to my class about applying to the internship the following year.

Q: What was it about the position that captured your interest?

Sayers: I was interested in the internship because I've always had an interest in sports journalism, but never had the chance to do hands-on work in the field. I've already had a lot of experience with writing and reporting, so editing seemed like something I wanted to try. Luckily for me, I was accepted and was able to make myself more well-rounded this summer.

Q: How do you envision that your summer internship will help you in the future?

Sayers: I definitely think that this internship helped me both professionally and academically. I feel that I was able to gain a leg up on my peers by taking part in a unique opportunity. I feel the experiential learning prepared me for finding a job because it gave me a good sense of the industry I'm going into. And I decided to pursue a master's degree in journalism because I felt that one extra year for a second degree was an opportunity I could not pass up. My sister spent five years after graduating from college with a history degree working to become a dietitian, so she persuaded me when she heard that I could get a second degree that quickly. Also, anything to get me a leg up on my peers in the job hunt is a plus.

Q: What were some of the standout moments for you?

Sayers: The moments that stood out were the positive reinforcement that I received from my superiors. They let me know when I made mistakes, but did it in a constructive way, making sure that I learned from them. Also, I think the fact that everybody seemed upset when I left showed that I was able to assimilate myself into the newsroom during my short time there.

Q: What advice would you provide to other students?

Sayers: I definitely think that internships are the best way for students to prepare themselves for going out into the real world. Classes are important, but you can only talk about something so much without actually doing it. Being able to learn while also gaining experience is an opportunity that students should never pass up. It also allows you a little more freedom than jumping into a job you know nothing about right after college.

Categories: Teaching and StudentsThis is a Wildcat Corner feature: Images: Tags: StudentsStudent LifeEducationOutreachByline: University RelationsEditor: dougcarrollInclude in UANow: 0Date of Publication: Wednesday, September 17, 2014Medium Summary: UA journalism student Justin Sayers spent most of his summer working as a sports copy editor. Feature on Front: NoShort Summary: UA journalism student Justin Sayers spent most of his summer working as a sports copy editor.

The Life of Old Main, From Dawn Until Dusk

Wed, 09/17/2014 - 15:26
Date of Publication: Wednesday, September 17, 2014

100% Student Engagement Series: Interning in TV in D.C.

Tue, 09/16/2014 - 17:18

The University of Arizona is committed to ensuring that every student integrates and applies learning via internships, jobs, research and other opportunities relevant to the real world. This is the second in a five-part UANews series detailing industry-related experiences UA students have completed.

Chelsea Hemphill, a UA journalism senior, served as a FOX 5 intern in Washington, D.C., working for the network covering news for the D.C. area and also the Maryland and Virginia region.

Hemphill was tasked with a broad range of responsibilities, including taking viewer calls, queuing news tips for the news desk, finding potential news stories and conducting interviews in the field.

Q: What was it about the position that captured your interest? 

A: Working as an intern at FOX 5 was a dream come true because I was able to get hands-on experience going out in the field and I was able to work alongside reporters, which is a special treat. They kept it completely honest about how the news industry is. There was an ongoing joke almost every employee would say: "FOX is where you go to die." I first thought this was an insult, but it was actually a term of endearment because people who work for FOX usually stay there until they retire. They do it for all the right reasons, especially because it is a top-20 market. I also was excited for the challenge to show my supervisors that I could be of assistance to them.

Q: What did you learn during your experience? 

A: This was an interesting job because I never knew how essential the viewer was in finding original stories to cover. I also would call to schedule interviews for future stories, go out in the field to get interviews, help assist photo shoots and help escort guest appearances. Then, above all else, it was my duty to get good practice working on standups and putting together packages. Also, the main thing I learned was that anchors and reporters go with the flow. They never know when some aspect of the show is going to malfunction. And because it is all live, they really are winging it almost every time they go on air. 

Q: How do you envision that your summer internship will help you, academically and professionally? 

A: As an intern, it's hard to come into the newsroom without a set plan of what you would like to accomplish. But if you show your determination early on, the news desk editor and reporters will give you stories to help them with. And that's where the real fun begins. This internship has definitely prepared me for my broadcast journalism classes. What I was taught at the station are some of the things I will be learning this next semester. On a professional level, it helps with networking. 

Categories: Teaching and StudentsThis is a Wildcat Corner feature: Images: Tags: StudentsStudent LifeEducationResearchOutreachByline: University Relations - Communications |Editor: dougcarrollInclude in UANow: 0Date of Publication: Tuesday, September 16, 2014Medium Summary: UA journalism student Chelsea Hemphill spent her summer in Washington, D.C., learning the ins and outs of broadcast news with FOX 5.Feature on Front: NoShort Summary: Chelsea Hemphill served as a summer intern at Fox 5 News in Washington, D.C.

Meteorite That Doomed Dinosaurs Remade Forests

Tue, 09/16/2014 - 13:50

The meteorite impact that spelled doom for the dinosaurs 66 million years ago decimated the evergreens among the flowering plants to a much greater extent than their deciduous peers, according to a study led by UA researchers. The results are published in the journal PLoS Biology.

Applying biomechanical formulas to a treasure trove of thousands of fossilized leaves of angiosperms  — flowering plants excluding conifers — the team was able to reconstruct the ecology of a diverse plant community thriving during a 2.2 million-year period spanning the cataclysmic impact event, believed to have wiped out more than half of plant species living at the time.

The researchers found evidence that after the event, fast-growing, deciduous angiosperms had replaced their slow-growing, evergreen peers to a large extent. Living examples of evergreen angiosperms, such as holly and ivy, tend to prefer shade, don't grow very fast and sport dark-colored leaves.

"When you look at forests around the world today, you don't see many forests dominated by evergreen flowering plants," said the study's lead author, Benjamin Blonder, who graduated last year from the lab of UA Professor Brian Enquist with a Ph.D. from the UA's Department of Ecology and Evolutionary Biology and is now the science coordinator at the UA SkySchool. "Instead, they are dominated by deciduous species, plants that lose their leaves at some point during the year."

The study provides much-needed evidence for how the extinction event unfolded in the plant communities at the time, Blonder said. While it was known that the plant species that existed before the impact were different from those that came after, data was sparse on whether the shift in plant assemblages was just a random phenomenon or a direct result of the event.

"If you think about a mass extinction caused by catastrophic event such as a meteorite impacting Earth, you might imagine all species are equally likely to die," Blonder said. "Survival of the fittest doesn't apply — the impact is like a reset button. The alternative hypothesis, however, is that some species had properties that enabled them to survive.

"Our study provides evidence of a dramatic shift from slow-growing plants to fast-growing species," he said. "This tells us that the extinction was not random, and the way in which a plant acquires resources predicts how it can respond to a major disturbance. And potentially this also tells us why we find that modern forests are generally deciduous and not evergreen."

Previously, other scientists found evidence of a dramatic drop in temperature caused by dust from the impact. Under the conditions of such an "impact winter," many plants would have struggled harvesting enough sunlight to maintain their metabolism and growth.

"The hypothesis is that the impact winter introduced a very variable climate," Blonder said. "That would have favored plants that grew quickly and could take advantage of changing conditions, such as deciduous plants."

Blonder, Enquist and their colleagues Dana Royer from Wesleyan University, Kirk Johnson from the Smithsonian National Museum of Natural History and Ian Miller from the Denver Museum of Nature and Science studied a total of about 1,000 fossilized plant leaves collected from a location in southern North Dakota, embedded in rock layers known as the Hell Creek Formation, in what at the time was a lowland floodplain crisscrossed by river channels. The collection consists of more than 10,000 identified plant fossils and is housed primarily at the Denver Museum of Nature and Science.

By analyzing leaves, which convert carbon dioxide from the atmosphere and water into nutrients for the plant, the study followed a new approach that enabled the researchers to predict how plant species used carbon and water, shedding light on the ecological strategies of plant communities long gone, hidden under sediments for many millions of years.

"We measured the mass of a given leaf in relation to its area, which tells us whether the leaf was a chunky, expensive one to make for the plant, or whether it was a more flimsy, cheap one," Blonder explained. "In other words, how much carbon the plant had invested in the leaf."

In addition to the leaves' mass-per-area ratio, Blonder and his coworkers measured the density of the leaves' vein networks.

"When you hold a leaf up to the light, you see a pattern of veins running through it," Blonder said. "That network determines how much water is moved through the leaf. If the density is high, the plant is able to transpire more water, and that means it can acquire carbon faster.

"By comparing the two parameters, we get an idea of resources invested versus resources returned, and that allows us to capture the ecological strategy of the plants we studied long after they went extinct."

Evergreen plants are more likely to invest in leaves that are costly to construct but are well-built and last a long time, Blonder explained, while the leaves of deciduous plants tend to be short-lived but offer high metabolic rates.

"There is a spectrum between fast- and slow-growing species," he said. "There is the 'live fast, die young' strategy and there is the 'slow but steady' strategy. You could compare it to financial strategies investing in stocks versus bonds."

The analyses revealed that while slow-growing evergreens dominated the plant assemblages before the extinction event, fast-growing flowering species had taken their places afterward.

The National Science Foundation awarded Blonder a graduate research fellowship to pursue this research. Additional funding was provided by the Geological Society of America.

Blonder said he was inspired to pursue the research project after seeing a lecture on paleobiology at the UA.

"I had a strong interest in how plants function based on their leaves, and I was fascinated to learn about applying those biomechanical principles to reconstruct ecological functions of the past," he said. "When you hold one of those leaves that is so exquisitely preserved in your hand knowing it's 66 million years old, it's a humbling feeling."

Writer: Daniel StolteByline: Daniel StolteByline Affiliation: University Relations - CommunicationsExtra Info: 

His passion for science, nature and education led Benjamin Blonder to create SkySchool, a project that has won him recognition as a White House Champion of Change.


Header image: YesNo Image: Subheading: The impact decimated slow-growing evergreens and made way for fast-growing, deciduous plants, UA researchers say, and that provides an explanation for those fall colors. Include in UANow: yesInclude in Olympic Coverage: noFeature on Olympic Page: noUANow Image: 

UA Student Leaders, Arizona Public Media to Co-Host Gubernatorial Forum

Mon, 09/15/2014 - 18:20

The Associated Students of the University of Arizona, the student governing body, and Arizona Public Media, the local PBS station based at the UA, are co-hosting a Sept. 21 public forum with candidates in Arizona's November gubernatorial election.

Candidates from four political parties — Doug Ducey for the Republican Party, Fred DuVal for the Democratic Party, Barry Hess for the Arizona Libertarian Party and JL Mealer for the Americans Elect — have been invited to participate in the 90-minute forum, which is free and open to the public (tickets are required). The forum will begin at 6 p.m. and end at 7:30.

"It was important for ASUA to partner with Arizona Public Media on this forum to ensure that the outreach got to all corners of Arizona," said Issac Ortega, president of ASUA, the representative student voice of more than 41,000 UA students.

Moderators will be Lorraine Rivera, host of AZPM's "Arizona Week" and Joey Fisher, editor-in-chief of the Arizona Daily Wildcat. The event will be captioned.

UA students and the public are encouraged to submit questions for the candidates using #OurVoiceOurVote or at

"We want to provide a high-quality event where candidates would be asked about questions important to both students of the University of Arizona and the Tucson community," Ortega said.

"The governor affects the lives of all the students at the University of Arizona and across the state, so I really hope that both students and the public gain some perspective on the solutions the candidates for Arizona's next governor have to offer," he said. "Also, and more importantly, I hope that the community will take to the polls and weigh in on the next leader of our state." 

Event rules

  • No containers, bottles, cans, large bags, backpacks or parcels will be permitted. All personal items are subject to search.     
  • No outside food or drink will be allowed in the hall.
  • No campaign banners, signs, literature handouts or other campaign paraphernalia will be allowed in the hall.
  • No roving photography will be allowed during the forum. No flash cameras and no motor-driven cameras.
  • Photographers, including media representatives, will be allowed to take photos of the candidates through each candidate’s opening and closing statement.
  • Please show respect for those who have come to share in the experience. Individuals who engage in inappropriate or disruptive behavior may be removed from the premises. Security will be on site.

Tickets required

Tickets are required and are available for pick-up at these locations (limit four per request):

  • The UA Visitor Center, 811 N. Euclid Ave.
  • The UA BookStore at the Student Union Memorial Center, 1209 E. University Blvd.
  • The A-Store at Main Gate, 845 N. Park Ave.

General parking

Parking is free to the public at the Tyndall Avenue Garage at the intersection of East Fourth Street and North Tyndall Avenue. The UA's interactive campus map is available online:

Shuttles to Centennial Hall will be available at the east side exit of the Tyndall garage beginning at 4:30 p.m. and up to 45 minutes after the conclusion of the forum.

Editor: dougcarrollByline Affiliation: University Relations - CommunicationsWhat: Gubernatorial Candidate ForumWhere: UA's Centennial Hall, 1020 E. University Blvd.When: Sept. 21. Doors open at 5 p.m., forum begins at 6.Extra Info: 

For ease of access, a wheelchair accessible shuttle will be available to and from the Tyndall Avenue Garage, along with a drop-off area on the north end of Centennial Hall. Shuttle service begins at 4:30 p.m. and resumes 45 minutes after the event.  


To make arrangements for a sign language interpreter, contact Catherine Mazzola at the Disability Resource Center at or 520-621-3268.


The forum will be streamed live at and will be broadcast on these AZPM channels:

  • PBS 6: Sept. 22, 5-6:30 p.m.; Sept. 25, 2:30-4 p.m.; Sept. 26, 10-11:30 p.m.; and Nov. 2, noon-1:30 p.m.
  • WORLD: Sept. 22, 9-10:30 p.m.; Sept. 29, 3-4:30 p.m.; Nov. 1, 5-6:30 p.m.
  • The UA Channel: Sept. 22, 8-9:30 p.m.; Sept. 29, 6-7:30 p.m.; Nov. 2, 6-7:30 p.m.
  • NPR 89.1 FM – Sept. 22 at 7 p.m.
Header image: YesNo Image: Subheading: ASUA and Arizona Public Media are co-hosting a Sept. 21 public forum with candidates in Arizona's November gubernatorial election.Include in UANow: 0Include in Olympic Coverage: noFeature on Olympic Page: no

When Job Loss Equals Weight Gain

Mon, 09/15/2014 - 16:41

Unexpected job loss is one of the most stressful life events a person can experience, and it affects much more than one's pocketbook. It might also lead to weight gain, research suggests. 

Studies have indicated that unemployed people tend to have a higher body mass index, on average, than those who are employed. A new University of Arizona study will look at why that might be.

Patricia Haynes, assistant professor of psychiatry in the UA College of Medicine, has been awarded a five-year, $3.1 million grant from the National Heart, Lung and Blood Institute, part of the National Institutes of Health, to study the link between job loss and weight gain. She will look specifically at how post-job-loss changes in sleep and social rhythm — a person's daily routine — might affect weight.

"The idea is that unemployed individuals have had a disruption of their daily routine, which is like losing an anchor in the time structure of their day," Haynes said. "Their social rhythm becomes disrupted, which may then impact their biological rhythms and sleep, and increase the propensity towards excessive caloric consumption."

While existing data suggests that insufficient sleep can lead to changes in appetite and satiety hormones, few studies have examined that relationship in a real-world setting, Haynes said.

Haynes developed the idea for the study after listening to National Public Radio. A story about unemployment and the recession was immediately followed by a separate, unrelated story about the country's growing obesity problem. It occurred to Haynes that the two issues might be connected.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention estimates about 65 percent of Americans are now overweight or obese. Research suggests that the obesity rate increased during the recession, but the cause for the increase is not entirely clear. Haynes believes that poor sleep quality and disruptions to people's daily routines after job loss could be largely to blame.

Haynes and her research team will follow 250 recently unemployed people over an 18-month period, using smartphones to capture information about participants' daily behaviors in real time. For example, participants might be prompted, via a message on the phone, to report on how they slept the night before, what kind of exercise they did that day or what activity they are doing at any given moment. Select participants also will be asked to take and submit photos of the food they eat. All participants will undergo weight and nutrition assessments in the lab.

Haynes is partnering with the Arizona Department of Economic Security's Unemployment Insurance Administration to identify potential study participants — people who involuntarily lost their jobs within six months of enrolling in the study.

She expects that some study participants will be more vulnerable to weight gain than others. Those hardest hit by the job loss might engage in more sedentary activities, such as watching TV or eating unhealthy foods, she said. At the same time, there may be a subset of more resilient people who see job loss as an opportunity to devote more time to exercising or improving their health.

Haynes also is interested in exploring the effects of re-employment — that is, how a person's sleep, daily routine and weight is impacted if he or she finds new employment during the course of the study.

Haynes hopes that the results of her study will inform health and weight interventions and programs for the recently unemployed.

"Sleep and social rhythms are highly amenable to change by behavioral intervention," she said. "Therefore, these data will help us determine whether typical weight-loss programs might be enhanced by also targeting sleep and social rhythms."

Dr. Ole Thienhaus, professor and head of the Department of Psychiatry in the UA College of Medicine, said the study could have a broad impact.

"Unemployment, chronic sleep restriction and obesity are highly prevalent social and public health issues," he said. "I anticipate that the results of this study will be of high relevance to a large segment of the U.S. population."

Haynes is a behavioral sleep medicine specialist and clinical psychologist who studies insomnia, stress and how people's daily behaviors affect sleep. As director of the UA's Stress and Trauma Recovery Clinic, her research includes studies looking at sleep and post-traumatic stress disorder.

Her collaborators on the unemployment study include Emily A. Butler, associate professor of family studies and human development in the UA College of Agriculture and Life Sciences; Duane Sherrill, professor of biostatistics in the UA's Mel and Enid Zuckerman College of Public Health; Graciela Silva, assistant clinical professor of nursing in the UA College of Nursing; Cynthia Thomson, UA professor of public health and director of the Canyon Ranch Center for Prevention and Health Promotion; Dr. Stuart F. Quan, professor emeritus of medicine, pulmonary and critical care medicine in the UA College of Medicine and the Gerald E. McGinnis Professor of Sleep Medicine at Harvard Medical School; George W. Howe, professor of psychology and psychiatry at George Washington University; and Nirav Merchant, director of information technology for Arizona Research Laboratories at the UA.

Editor: dougcarrollWriter: Alexis BlueByline: Alexis BlueByline Affiliation: University Relations - CommunicationsHeader image: YesNo Image: Subheading: Patricia Haynes in the UA College of Medicine has been awarded $3.1 million to study the relationship between unemployment and putting on pounds.Include in UANow: 0Include in Olympic Coverage: noFeature on Olympic Page: noUANow Image: 

'My Students Taught Me': Fulbright Scholar Back From Pakistan

Thu, 09/11/2014 - 16:49

After spending five months in tumultuous Islamabad, Adele Barker says the experience has changed her outlook on education, her work and life.

Barker is a professor in the University of Arizona Department of Russian and Slavic Studies, and was selected as a Fulbright Scholar to teach and write in Islamabad, the capital city of Pakistan. Fulbright Scholarships allow scholars to travel to other countries for a variety of educational activities such as university lecturing, research, graduate studies and teaching.

Barker was one of only two Fulbright Scholars to work in Pakistan.

Pakistan has seen increasingly violent rallies and protests against the country's government, based in Islamabad. For this reason, Barker was kept under strict security restrictions during her entire stay.

"The security around me was very, very tight," Barker said. "But it was also something I knew about before I went there. In my case, because I write, I simply adjusted my vision downwards to accommodate the smaller world in which I was placed."

During her time abroad, she taught graduate students at Fatima Jinnah Women University, located in Rawalpindi, approximately a 40-minute drive from Islamabad. She taught courses on contemporary American women writers and 19th-century Russian literature, primarily focusing on Leo Tolstoy's classic novel "Anna Karenina."

"I tell you, if there's any way to break down barriers, it's by sitting in a room talking about a text," Barker said. "I didn't realize it, but I wasn't winning any popularity contests when I arrived. All but one of my students had never met an American, and had never been taught by an American. Their opinion of me was initially formed by many of the U.S. government's missteps in Pakistan. Fortunately, our time together in the classroom created a space where I became more than the representative of U.S. policy."

Barker said that she never felt her safety was threatened, although she witnessed public rallies, and the Pakistani military became a pervasive presence on the streets of Islamabad during her time there.

"Essentially, everyone in a city of any size in Pakistan is moving about with the Pakistani military on every street corner and road," she said. "It is a country in which anyone becomes a target because of the random nature of the violence. Islamabad in particular saw some very tough times in 2008, the bombing of the Marriott Hotel being just one example, and as a result businesses, government buildings and even private residences are heavily guarded, indeed sandbagged today. The memory of those times still reverberates over there today."

Barker spent much of her free time learning the local language of Urdu, reading contemporary Pakistani novels, visiting her local market and learning to cook the local cuisine, including her new favorite dish called saag, or Pakistani spinach.

She received permission for the Fulbright Commission to take evening walks with her neighbor in one of the large parks in Islamabad.

"Teach me Pakistan,” she told him. "And he did, six kilometers a night."

Because she wasn't allowed to travel far, her students became her window to Pakistan.

"They were my key to the culture," Barker said. "They taught me. I had never lived in an Islamic society. I was fascinated. ... I remember during my last week there, it was Ramadan. I was cooking iftar – that's the meal you cook to break the fast. As I was serving it, I realized everybody in this country was having the exact same meal at the exact same time. I found that notion very compelling.  For me, it was the antidote to much commonly voiced opinion that sees the country as descending irrevocably into chaos."

Barker, who is also a writer, is working on a writing project about her experience, and hopes to return to Pakistan soon  – ideally with more freedom to move about the culture.

"I was in the middle of my writing project and I had to come back," she said. "My work over there isn't done. My (Pakistani) colleagues and friends said 'Don't give up writing, you must write about this country, because we would like you to correct the impression that many Americans have of who were are.' I knew I wanted to do this."

While she readjusts to American culture and starts a new academic year at the UA, she hopes her students appreciate the opportunity they have to receive an education.

"I can't claim to have any scholarly expertise on Pakistan, but what I have is the unique experience – which I hope to repeat – of being able to teach in the Pakistani classroom and to teach young Pakistani women, for whom there is really a high risk in certain parts of that country if they want to get an education," she said.

"I think the greatest thing I bring back from my students is the great motivation from every young person I met to get an education, to get it right and really do something with it. When you live on the edge, as they do over there ... you take nothing for granted."

Editor: dougcarrollByline: Amanda BallardByline Affiliation: University Relations - CommunicationsExtra Info: 

For more information about the Fulbright Scholars program at the UA, visit the Office of Global Initiatives website.

Header image: YesNo Image: Subheading: Adele Barker, UA professor of Russian and Slavic studies, recently returned from teaching in Islamabad for five months. She was one of only two Fulbright Scholars selected to travel to Pakistan.Include in UANow: yesInclude in Olympic Coverage: noFeature on Olympic Page: noUANow Image: 

"What I Wish I Had Known as a Freshman"

Wed, 09/10/2014 - 18:45

Reflecting on their time as undergraduate students, three University of Arizona Regents' Professors say that collaborative work is underrated, humanities and history courses are indeed valuable, and mistakes can be a great teacher.

That’s just some of the wisdom imparted by Diana Liverman, Regents' Professor of Geography and Development and co-director of the UA Institute of the Environment, who is currently on sabbatical; Toni Massaro, Dean Emerita of the UA James E. Rogers College of Law; and Pierre Meystre, a Regents' Professor of Physics and Optical Sciences and director of the UA Biosphere 2 Institute. UA alumni also talk about their experiences and share advice in "Career After College: Alumni Share Tips for New Students."

Q: What tips would you share with today's students to help them succeed in the academic environment? 

Liverman (left): Try to turn up to most of your classes and spend some of the time listening to what's being said instead of taking notes on your computer or checking social media. In smaller classes, ask questions, and never begin your comment with “This is probably a stupid question but ...” Remember, there really are no stupid questions! Go to exam study sessions and form study groups.

Massaro (right): Make your academic ends the first priority. A lot of things are available in college that are exciting and important to the experience: making new friends, exploring autonomy, balancing school and social life. But the classroom and academic work should be your first priorities in order to make the most of the opportunity to grow intellectually.

Meystre: Embrace your ignorance. Learn to be comfortable with not knowing the answer, but then don't stop until you have it figured out. Don't be afraid to ask questions, even simple questions. Questions that may seem simple can lead to profound answers. And chances are that others don't know, either, and will be happy that somebody asks — or they will know the answer, and then they'll be able to help you. Also, be open to unexpected opportunities and challenges.

Q: What do you wish you had known when you were a freshman? 

Liverman: That so many opportunities would open up for me as an environmentalist and woman during my lifetime. When I was a freshman, there were no “green” careers, and it was tough for a woman to succeed in the environmental arena. Second, that working in a group — rather than competing — can help you be a success. And third, that I didn't have to find a husband my first year at college (that's what my grandmother thought I should be focusing on). It is much more fun to look around, travel the world and find someone later.

Massaro: That the humanities and history courses would so enrich my entire life. I wish I had taken a lot more of them, even as a science major.  

Meystre (left): That one should not be afraid to make mistakes. Being overly cautious can be paralyzing, and one often learns more from failures than from success. And for a curious mind, what can possibly be more boring and uninteresting than having things run just as expected?

Q: What would you have done differently?  

Liverman: I would do study abroad. I would do internships and/or volunteer for local environmental or other organizations. I would take more science.

Meystre: I don’t think much about that. I don't find it particularly useful to obsess about "missed opportunities." We have just one ride and may as well enjoy it.

Q: What turned out to be your best move? 

Liverman: Helping a visiting professor with her research one summer. She then invited me to take a master’s degree with her in Canada.

Massaro: Taking Bergen Evans' world literature course.  A Northwestern classic, and the best course I took in college. And then choosing law school for my graduate work.

Meystre: Picking a great field of study. Physics is extraordinarily beautiful and exciting. It challenges you at every turn and always hits you with new surprises, with profound questions ranging from the origin of the universe to the nature of reality, and with practical applications that can have a significant societal impact.

Q: What was your most career-determining stroke of luck or serendipitous event?  

Liverman: Getting an internship at the National Center for Atmospheric Research in Boulder, Colo., and persuading climate scientist Stephen Schneider to supervise me. He set me on my path to becoming a researcher, mentored me for many subsequent opportunities. 

Massaro: A conversation with an undergraduate professor my senior year of college telling me "You ought to go to law school," even though she had been steering me to her own graduate/Ph.D. program the previous three years. Her shift helped me take the big leap professionally (and personally). And then, at the end of law school, two professors encouraged me to apply for a law-teaching job after my time in practice. I was extremely fortunate to have teachers who took such a keen interest in all of their students.  

Meystre: There are too many to count. Most lucky perhaps was picking a specialization that was not very fashionable at the time but that turned out to become very hot, and also being at the right place at the right time.

Q: Anything else you’d like to share?  

Liverman: You will make the most amazing friends in college who will see you through all the ups and downs of life. Look for ways to meet new people, not always like you, and it will change your life.

Massaro: Make the most of this moment, knock on your teachers' doors and enjoy your classmates. They can be your best teachers, too. Raise your hand. Be curious. Then "pay it forward" by helping others with their studies or volunteering in the community. There is no better way to learn than to teach others.

Meystre: Don't forget to have fun. If you don't, maybe you are not doing what you should be doing.

Diana Liverman's expertise and research interests focus on the human dimensions of environmental change, connecting earth and social sciences to understand challenges of drought and climate change, climate policy, climate change communication, food security, land use and international environmental governance. Liverman has advised a wide range of government committees, non-governmental organizations and businesses on climate issues. The first woman to serve in the position, Toni Massaro is also one of the longest-serving UA deans in recent history. Massaro, who holds the Milton O. Riepe Chair in Constitutional Law, has been with the college since 1989 and is an expert in civil procedure and constitutional law. And originally from Switzerland, Pierre Meystre, who joined the UA in 1986, has developed theory that has profoundly influenced all aspects of quantum optics, according to Nobel Prize winners in that field. He was named Regents' Professor in 2002.

Categories: Teaching and StudentsThis is a Wildcat Corner feature: Images: Tags: FacultyResearchStudent LifeByline: Daniel Stolte, University Relations - Communications |UANow Image: Editor: La Monica Everett-HaynesInclude in UANow: yesDate of Publication: Wednesday, September 10, 2014Medium Summary: UANews asked three University of Arizona Regents' Professors about what they would do today to get the most out of their college experience if they were to be undergraduate students again. The title of Regents' Professor is the highest of faculty rank at state universities in Arizona.Feature on Front: YesShort Summary: UANews asked three University of Arizona Regents' Professors about what they would do today to get the most out of their college experience if they could be undergraduate students again.

Don’t Underestimate Your Mind’s Eye

Mon, 09/08/2014 - 16:29

Take a look around, and what do you see? Much more than you think you do, thanks to your finely tuned mind's eye, which processes images without your even knowing.

A University of Arizona study has found that objects in our visual field of which we are not consciously aware still may influence our decisions. The findings refute traditional ideas about visual perception and cognition, and they could shed light on why we sometimes make decisions -- stepping into a street, choosing not to merge into a traffic lane -- without really knowing why.

Laura Cacciamani, who recently earned her doctorate in psychology with a minor in neuroscience, has found supporting evidence. Cacciamani's is the lead author on a co-authored study, published online in the journal Attention, Perception and Psychophysics, shows that the brain’s subconscious processing has an impact on behavior and decision-making.

This seems to make evolutionary sense, Cacciamani said. Early humans would have required keen awareness of their surroundings on a subliminal level in order to survive.

"Your brain is always monitoring for meaning in the world, to be aware of your general surroundings and potential predators," Cacciamani said. "You can be focused on a task, but your brain is assessing the meaning of everything around you – even objects that you’re not consciously perceiving."

The study builds on the findings of earlier research by Jay Sanguinetti, who also was a doctoral candidate in the UA Department of Psychology. Both studies go against conventional wisdom among vision scientists.

"According to the traditional view, the brain accesses the meaning – or the memory – of an object after you perceive it," Cacciamani said. "Against this view, we have now shown that the meaning of an object can be accessed before conscious perception.

"We're showing that there’s more interplay between memory and perception than previously has been assumed," she said.

Cacciamani asked participants in her study to classify nouns that appeared on a computer screen as naming a natural object or artificial object by pressing one of two buttons labeled "natural" or "artificial." For example, the word "leaf" indicates an object found in nature, while "anchor" indicates a man-made or artificial object.

But before each word appeared on the screen, the computer flashed a black silhouette that – unknown to participants – had portions of natural or artificial objects suggested along the white outside regions (called the "ground" regions) of the image. Participants were not told to look for anything in the silhouettes, and they were flashed so quickly – 50 milliseconds – that it would have been difficult to notice the objects in the ground regions even if someone knew what to look for. Participants never were aware that the silhouette’s grounds suggested recognizable objects.

Cacciamani measured how well study participants performed at categorizing the words as natural or artificial by recording speed and accuracy.

"We found that participants performed better on the natural/artificial word task when that word followed a silhouette whose ground contained an object of the same rather than a different category," Cacciamani said.

This indicates that the brain accessed the meaning of the objects in the silhouette’s grounds even though study participants didn’t know the objects were there, she said.

"Every day our visual systems are bombarded with more information than we can consciously be aware of," Cacciamani said. "We're showing that your brain might still be accessing information without your conscious awareness, and that could influence your behavior."

Cacciamani's study was co-authored by Mary Peterson, Cacciamani' primary adviser and a UA professor of psychology and cognitive science as well as director of the UA's Cognitive Science Program, and by Sanguinetti and Andrew Mojica, recent graduates of the Department of Psychology's doctoral program. After graduation, Cacciamani will take a position as a postdoctoral fellow at the Smith-Kettlewell Eye Research Institute in San Francisco. The study was funded by a National Science Foundation grant.

Editor: La Monica Everett-HaynesWriter: Shelley LittinByline: Shelley LittinByline Affiliation: University Relations - CommunicationsHeader image: YesNo Image: Subheading: UA study finds that objects in our visual environment needn’t be seen in order to impact decision making. Include in UANow: yesInclude in Olympic Coverage: noFeature on Olympic Page: noUANow Image: 

Doctoral Candidate Produces Cover Image for Journal

Thu, 09/04/2014 - 15:14

A stunning image of green fluorescent protein-expressing cancer cells intertwined with red blood vessels, containing a fluorescent dye, has brought the work of a fifth-year UA doctoral candidate into sharp focus.

Rachel Schafer (Photo credit: Beatriz Verdugo/UANews)

With a Nikon confocal microscope with heightened optical resolution, and using a high-magnification, 40X objective lens, Rachel Schafer captured the image that landed on the cover (right) of BioTechniques, an international journal.

"It is enjoyable to see my hard work come to fruition through this publication and be well-received within the research community," said Schafer, who is in the biomedical engineering program. "The publication and feedback received pave the way for cancer research studies using the model to be performed in the lab."

Schafer caught the image for an article she co-authored with researchers Hui Min Leung and Arthur F. Gmitro, both of the UA. The article, "Multi-modality imaging of a murine mammary window chamber for breast cancer research," was published in the July issue of BioTechniques.

The image, which was selected for the August edition, captures individual cancer cells and the network of small blood vessels from one location in a tumor, Schafer said.

"The image is one example of the multiple imaging technologies we applied to this unique cancer model," she said. "We aimed to expand the imaging capabilities applied to this type of cancer model and, in so doing, highlight the potential of the model for use in cancer studies."

The ability to combine multiple imaging capabilities enables researchers to gather information at different scales, aiding the analysis of tissues.

"The optical sectioning capability of confocal microscopes allowed a series of images to be acquired at sequential depths into the tissue," Schafer said. "These multiple slices through the tissue were combined to create the single maximum intensity projection image seen in the cover image."

Categories: Science and TechnologyThis is a Wildcat Corner feature: Images: Tags: StudentsResearchEducationOutreachByline: University Relations - Communications |UANow Image: Editor: La Monica Everett-HaynesInclude in UANow: yesDate of Publication: Thursday, September 4, 2014Medium Summary: Rachel Schafer, a fifth-year doctoral candidate in the UA biomedical engineering program, has made it to the cover of BioTechniques, an international journal focused on the technical aspects of research in biotechnology. The journal featured Schafer’s image on its August cover.Feature on Front: YesShort Summary: An image by UA student Rachel Schafer is on the coverage of BioTechniques.