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UA Superfan Jane McCollum: She's With the Band

Fri, 11/14/2014 - 10:30

Jane McCollum never attended the University of Arizona, but she bleeds red and blue as much as any proud alumnus, whether she's working on logistics for a Bear Down Friday pep rally or hosting the UA marching band at a tailgate party at her home.

McCollum, one of the University's most loyal fans and supporters, is the general manager of the Marshall Foundation, named for Louise Foucar Marshall, who became the UA's first female professor in 1898.

The foundation, which manages the Main Gate Square retail area adjacent to the UA, donates about $1.3 million a year to local nonprofit organizations, with about half of that money going to the UA to support need-based undergraduate scholarships and various University programs.

"The Marshall Foundation has been invaluable to the University of Arizona and the Tucson community," says James H. Moore Jr., president and CEO of the UA Foundation. "Louise Foucar Marshall determined to make education accessible, and in that spirit the Marshall Foundation has become one of University’s longest-standing philanthropic supporters, providing for student scholarships and funding faculty members. It has been a leader in the cultural and economic development surrounding the University, including the revitalization of Main Gate Square and the corridor from the UA to downtown. This is philanthropy that benefits the entire community."

In her role with the Marshall Foundation, McCollum works with Main Gate Square merchants on property management matters ranging from leasing to maintenance, and she coordinates with the foundation's board on charitable giving. She also works with University and community partners on events held in Main Gate Square, including the UA's Bear Down Friday pep rallies.

With Main Gate Square's proximity and ties to the UA, McCollum is frequently involved in conversations and collaborations with campus representatives. However, her personal connection with the University began long before she joined the Marshall Foundation in 2003.

It was 1984 when McCollum moved to Tucson with her husband, David Buck, to escape the cold winters of Illinois.

She had left behind a job teaching high school English and journalism, and in her desert home she quickly discovered two new loves: a career in real estate and property management, and the UA.

"The minute we moved to Arizona, we knew that the energy and the heart of Tucson was at the University of Arizona. We could feel it," she says.

These days, McCollum is rarely far from campus. When she leaves her office, tucked away in a historic building on University Boulevard, she heads to a home located just a short walk from McKale Center. And when she has free time, she often can be found on campus with her husband, checking out an exhibit, public lecture, concert, theatrical performance or sporting event. The couple is never without season tickets to UA football, basketball and softball. They even followed their beloved Wildcats to bowl-game appearances in Albuquerque, New Mexico, and Shreveport, Louisiana, in 2012 and 2013.

"I'm a big fan. I go to every game, I stay to the end and I scream," McCollum says.

In addition to being an avid sports fan, McCollum also is a music lover, and she and her husband have made several donations to the Pride of Arizona marching band.

Before all UA home football games, the couple opens their home to band members and friends for what have become tailgate parties of epic proportions, drawing as many as 100 guests and featuring menus that go far beyond burgers and dogs. This season's parties have had an "Eat the Opponent" theme. For example, when the UA played the USC Trojans, attendees were invited to bring Greek dishes, and when the Wildcats took on the Colorado Buffaloes for homecoming, it was all about bison meat. 

McCollum also logs some teaching time at the UA. Every semester, she guest lectures in the University's "Heritage and Traditions" class, educating students about the Marshall Foundation and its unique history and ties to the UA.

"When I'm teaching 'Heritage and Traditions,' I tell them the University is the best thing about Tucson. It gives us all the best things we have and is overwhelmingly what drives our economy," she says. "There's a soul that exists in Tucson that's much older than the University, but the University elevated Tucson, in my opinion."

One might also call McCollum an unofficial recruiter for the UA. She successfully convinced two nieces and a nephew to come to the University.

Although she earned a degree from Butler University, many would agree she has earned the status of honorary Wildcat. And she hopes more people will come to love the UA as much as she does.

"We don't always appreciate the gem that is here and don't take advantage of it. When I hear people say, 'There's nothing to do in Tucson,' I tell them, 'Go to the University of Arizona.'"

Editor: dougcarrollByline: Alexis BlueByline Affiliation: University Relations - CommunicationsHeader image: YesNo Image: Subheading: The general manager of the Marshall Foundation knew as soon she moved to Arizona 30 years ago that the UA was "the heart of Tucson."Include in UANow: yesInclude in Olympic Coverage: noFeature on Olympic Page: noUANow Image: 

Viruses: Tiny Teachers of Biology

Thu, 11/13/2014 - 17:07

Imagine that an invisible, microscopic invader has found its way into your body and hijacked the cellular machinery that keeps you healthy. Inhabiting the gray area between living and nonliving, the invader can only reproduce once it makes its new home inside of your cells, eventually causing you to fall ill. How do physicians and scientists combat this uninvited guest?

Viruses long have been the subjects of scientific study, and researchers have uncovered just as many new questions as answers. The National Institutes of Health recently awarded two 5-year, $1.8 million grants to scientists Felicia Goodrum and Samuel Campos of the University of Arizona's BIO5 Institute for their research into the fundamental nature of two common but devastating viruses affecting millions of people worldwide.

Goodrum, an associate professor in the Department of Immunobiology at the UA College of Medicine, studies human cytomegalovirus. CMV is transmitted through contact with saliva and urine and to a developing fetus during pregnancy, and it will infect 60 to 70 percent of the U.S. population by the age of 40.

The virus is capable of inhabiting every type of cell in the human body, and it will remain with its host for his or her entire life. In most people, the virus stays dormant unless they are immunocompromised. This means that people who are elderly, have recently had an organ transplant or suffer from other diseases of the immune system such as AIDS are at the highest risk for developing symptoms. In those afflicted, CMV can cause liver failure, retinal inflammation and bowel inflammation.

"CMV is a master of our biology in that it infects most healthy people without any sign of disease," Goodrum said. "Viruses do not necessarily need to make us sick to ensure their survival."

The most devastating effects of CMV are seen in its transmission from mother to child during pregnancy, affecting one in 150 live births in the U.S. CMV is the leading cause of birth defects and can result in cerebral palsy, seizures, vision impairment, hearing loss and intellectual disability.

According to Goodrum, the remarkable thing about CMV is its ability to induce and suppress its activity in response to cues from its host. Although antiviral drugs exist to treat CMV while it is active and replicating, there are no methods for targeting the infection in its dormant state, and there is no vaccine.

Goodrum and her team recently discovered a molecular switch that helps the virus suppress its own replication or pull itself out of dormancy based on environmental cues. Goodrum’s goal is to uncover the viral genes that CMV uses and the cellular processes targeted by these factors to control its own persistence.

"We need to better understand CMV’s complex relationship with its host," Goodrum said. "If we could develop a drug that inhibited reactivation of the virus, we could prevent replication and disease."

Campos, an assistant professor in the Department of Immunobiology, is investigating a virus known as human papillomavirus, or HPV. Transmitted primarily through sexual contact, HPV affects 79 million people in the U.S., and that number is growing at a rate of 14 million per year.

With more than 150 different types, HPV is so common that most sexually active men and women will become infected at some point in their life. While many people contract HPV without ever experiencing any symptoms, others develop genital warts and even cancer. HPV 16 and 18 account for 75 percent of cases of cervical cancer. Taken together, HPV infections are responsible for about five percent of cancer cases worldwide.

Campos wants to understand how HPV delivers its viral genome to a host cell nucleus so the virus can replicate. Specifically, he is interested in studying the structure and function of a protein called L2, which helps the virus ferry its genetic material across the host cell membrane. Campos explained that L2 is very similar among all types of HPV, suggesting that it may hold the key to creating better therapies and vaccines against infection.

"If we can understand the structure and function of L2, we could potentially apply this to the development of low-cost therapeutic compounds that would inhibit its action," he said. "We may even be able to someday create an L2-based pan-vaccine that would elicit protection against all types of the virus."

Moving the entire viral genome into a host cell is no easy feat, and precisely how L2 accomplishes this is not yet fully understood. Understanding these subcellular pathways is important because there are many different types of cellular alarm systems that normally detect invading viruses and alert the immune system. L2 may have evolved to quietly navigate the viral genome through these pathways without tripping many alarms.

If this is the case, then the way HPV infects cells may contribute to evasion of the immune system and viral persistence, increasing the risk of cancers developing down the road. The longer the infection is allowed to linger, the greater the cancer risk.

Both Goodrum and Campos emphasized the importance of basic research and the fundamental mechanisms of human biology that can be uncovered by studies like these.

"CMV is an amazing model to study viral persistence," Goodrum said. "Not only does it not cause disease in otherwise healthy people, it acts on cellular processes that are also important in cancer growth. It can teach us a lot about human biology."

"So many biology fundamentals have been learned from studying viruses, important discoveries that researchers were never expecting to find," said Campos, who explained that a host cell protein involved in HPV genome trafficking called gamma secretase also is implicated in Alzheimer’s disease. "This is why basic research is important — you never know what you might uncover."

Editor: dougcarrollWriter: Raymond SanchezByline: Raymond Sanchez, NASA Space Grant Science Writer internByline Affiliation: University Relations - CommunicationsHeader image: YesNo Image: Subheading: The National Institutes of Health has awarded two $1.8 million grants to UA researchers investigating two common but devastating viruses that affect millions of people worldwide. Include in UANow: yesInclude in Olympic Coverage: noFeature on Olympic Page: noUANow Image: 

Europe's Comet Chaser Provides Test Data for UA's OSIRIS-REx Mission

Thu, 11/13/2014 - 16:41

In a guest column, Dante Lauretta, who is leading the UA's OSIRIS-REx NASA mission, writes about the achievement of the European Space Agency's Rosetta, which became the first mission to successfully land a spacecraft on the surface of a comet. The Philae lander detached from Rosetta on Nov. 12, landing on the comet seven hours later. The landing has made planetary exploration history, Lauretta says.

Photo copyright: European Space Agency

The OSIRIS-REx team in Tucson gathered together to watch the coverage of the landing.

We put the live stream from European Space Agency TV on the big screen in our Southwest Meteorite Auditorium, grabbed some bagels and coffee, and prepared to cheer on our European colleagues during this historic event. 

I arrived at 8 a.m. to view the broadcast.

Over the past couple of years, the OSIRIS-REx team has developed a productive collaboration with the Rosetta operations team. A delegation from our mission has traveled to Darmstadt on several occasions to discuss navigation challenges, landing-site selection and science operations challenges. We watched with baited breath while our friends and colleagues in Germany waited anxiously for the signal from Philae indicating a successful landing.

The expected time for contact came and went, and no signal was detected.

At this point, I really started to empathize with our friends overseas. I flashed forward four years, to the time when OSIRIS-REx will descend down to the surface of Bennu to collect the sample. I had to get up out of my chair and I began to pace around the room. I started to think about all of the implications for our mission if the lander failed to contact the Rosetta spacecraft. First and foremost, I would have to deal with the media inquiries. I started reviewing some talking points just in case.

Fortunately, we soon saw our colleagues erupt in cheers. We knew that they had received the landing signal. They had done it. They had become the first team to successfully land on a comet!

Immediately I began to think about the interaction of Philae with the comet surface. Was the surface compliant enough to absorb most of the energy of contact? Or, did they hit the surface and bounce back off into space, only to come down at another location? As the information unfolded, it became clear that the latter scenario had occurred.

From a navigation perspective, this landing was a huge success. They were able to compensate for all of the gravitational and non-gravitational forces that would influence the lander trajectory and deploy for an on-target landing.

This is an area where OSIRIS-REx stands to gain from the Rosetta experience. We face very similar challenges in accurately navigating the spacecraft around Bennu. In addition, we have to design a similar trajectory to send the entire vehicle down to the surface to collect the sample. The good news is that we are designing our system to bounce off the surface. Rosetta's experience confirms a fundamental aspect of our mission design!

Overall, ESA has achieved an historic scientific and engineering milestone. The data already returned from this mission have revolutionized our understanding of comets ... and they are just getting started.

Read Lauretta's full column, "The Rosetta Mission's Philae Landing – An OSIRIS-REx Perspective," online.

Categories: Science and TechnologyThis is a Wildcat Corner feature: Images: Tags: FacultyResearchEducationByline: Faculty, Research, EducationEditor: dougcarrollInclude in UANow: 0Date of Publication: Friday, November 14, 2014Medium Summary: Dante Lauretta, who is leading the UA's OSIRIS-REx NASA mission, writes about the achievement of the European Space Agency's Rosetta. Feature on Front: YesShort Summary: Dante Lauretta, who is leading the UA's OSIRIS-REx NASA mission, writes about the achievement of the European Space Agency's Rosetta. Send to Never Settle Site: 0

Do You Need a Junk-Food Intervention?

Thu, 11/13/2014 - 10:30

What if your social media network — the actual interface, not your followers — could tip you off to a personal risk for developing a preventable medical condition, then help you figure out ways to improve your lifestyle?

University of Arizona computer science and nutritional science researchers are working on that exact issue, determining ways to enhance artificial intelligence capabilities to predict certain chronic, yet preventable, health conditions based on a person's social media activity.

"It is very simple to tell people that there are risks associated with poor eating, but there is no reason for people to trust us or a robot," said Mihai Surdeanu, an associate professor in the School of Information: Science, Technology, and Arts.

Surdeanu acknowledged the challenge with early detection: Many people are ill-informed about their own risk and subsequently do not change their eating habits or level of physical activity.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, in its 2014 report, noted that about 29.1 million Americans are living with diabetes, and 8.1 million of those people are estimated to be undiagnosed, resulting in more than $245 billion in costs each year. The agency also reports that an estimated 86 million Americans who are at least 20 are at high risk of developing Type 2 diabetes.

Surdeanu and his collaborators found in an earlier study that the way people talk about food in social media carries an important predictive power. The team members believe social media presents a critical space for the future of preventative medicine. 

"We could plan interventions through social media by carefully placing ads, or by connecting people with others," Surdeanu said. "This is a very exciting area in machine learning, which is about explaining to humans what machines know."

Surdeanu is a member of the UA team that recently completed an extensive analysis about how Twitter followers from different U.S. regions talk about food. The team released findings in mid-October, noting that Twitter followers often reference brisket in Texas, caviar in California, the tamale in Arizona and grits throughout the southern U.S. Such regional language cues proved to be strong predictors of a community's risk for diabetes.

The UA researchers presented their earlier findings and article, "Analyzing the Language of Food on Social Media," during the IEEE International Conference on Big Data 2014, which was held at the end of October in Washington, D.C. Media outlets across the country picked up on the story, with some even using U.S. maps to show each state's most-talked-about food.

Other team members are: Daniel Fried, a research assistant in the UA School of Information: Science, Technology, and Arts, who was the main author of the paper as an undergraduate student majoring in computer science and SISTA; Stephen Kobourov, a computer science professor; Melanie Hingle, an assistant professor of nutritional sciences; and Thienne Johnson, a research associate in computer science and also electrical and computer engineering.

In the earlier study, the team relied on CDC and National Institutes of Health data to evaluate national hot spots for the prevalence of people who are overweight and who have diabetes. Drilled down from 3.5 million tweets, the team evaluated 562,547 tweets, resulting in a model to predict who could have a higher risk for the illness. 

In the second phase of the project, which is currently underway, the team is switching from evaluating the risk of communities to focusing on individuals. For now, the team is evaluating a group of individuals who have a prominent social media presence, including actors, comedians, writers, athletes and chefs.

The team plans to gauge a person's level of activity based on the types of hashtags they use in their posts — for example, #laziness versus #cycling — and by further analyzing their social media presence through the analysis of additional text, images and videos. Relying on existing nationwide survey data associated with the prevalence of Type 2 diabetes, the team is developing a model that would then estimate a person's likelihood of developing the condition.

The team also is running a parallel analysis, recruiting hundreds of individuals to share information about their specific condition of health to determine the viability and potential impact of analyzing social media data.

The next step is figuring out interventions. The team will evaluate the effectiveness of ad placement, diet visualizations, and the use of quizzes and games.

"What is great about social media is that you have the ability to reach millions of people at once," Surdeanu said. "It's better than the small fraction of people who would actually get help by seeing a physician at a doctor's office."

The team also noted limitations with the study, acknowledging that social media habits do not present a full picture of a person's habits. Despite the limitations, the team believes the implications carry hefty impacts for public health, education, science, and social sites and mobile apps.

"This has been such an interesting project, exploring data to see how people are eating, what they are eating and how that changes over time," Fried said. "The project could help lower the rate of preventable diseases like diabetes.

"Maintaining a healthy lifestyle takes effort, and if it's possible to use this technology to make people aware of risk factors in their own lives as well as the alternative options they have available, it should make it easier for people to make healthier choices."

Like Fried, Surdeanu is intrinsically motivated to continue the research because he wants to see positive change in public health.

"We are not talking about redoing the health-care system," Surdeanu said. "Even if we see people make improvements with a tiny bit more physical activity and diet, that helps."

Editor: dougcarrollWriter: La Monica Everett-HaynesByline: La Monica Everett-HaynesByline Affiliation: University Relations - CommunicationsHeader image: YesNo Image: Subheading: When you tweet about your addiction to sweets or post images of triple-decker burgers, does that say something about your health? A UA team is exploring the connection.Include in UANow: yesInclude in Olympic Coverage: noFeature on Olympic Page: noUANow Image: 

Moving Ideas to Market Becomes the UA Way

Wed, 11/12/2014 - 17:28

It was one year ago that University of Arizona President Ann Weaver Hart presented "Never Settle," the UA’s strategic plan, to the Arizona Board of Regents.

One important priority of the plan is the expansion of research and discovery to ensure the institution's future success and also to benefit communities through the creation of new knowledge and the expansion of inventions taken to market.

To support that charge, and to build a dynamic "commercialization ecosystem" throughout campus, the UA has revised its intellectual property policy and its promotion and tenure policy to enhance commercialization activities while also ensuring that the University is more inclusive about the type of scholarship that is rewarded.

"Our researchers continue to come up with innovative and amazing ideas and technologies. The translation and commercialization assistance that we can provide to realize that research into marketable solutions fits very well with the Never Settle plan," said Kimberly Andrews Espy, the UA's senior vice president of research. "These revisions will provide even more incentive for our researchers to continue to explore the realm of what’s possible."

Through Never Settle and the mission of Tech Launch Arizona, which are more closely aligned with the approval of these policies, such activities will not merely continue but grow, said David Allen, TLA’s vice president. "The University is undergoing an important transformation in this arena," Allen said.

The promotion and tenure policy was revised to consider not merely commercialization but other technology transfer activities as part of the tenure process.

"I'm very enthusiastic about departments having the option to include items like patents and inventions in the broad range of possible scholarly activity that they will consider for promotion and tenure," said UA Provost Andrew Comrie. "It is important for the UA to be inclusive and progressive in the types of scholarship that advance the institution."

During fiscal year 2014, TLA worked with UA researchers to disclose 188 inventions, create 11 startup companies and file 167 patents. All told for the 2014 fiscal year, the work of TLA and its partners led to $1.6 million in revenue from intellectual property activities.

To help expand involvement and awareness, TLA hosts regular workshops to inform faculty, researchers and students about the commercialization process. TLA just completed a five-workshop series in October, and it will be offering a similar "Invention to Impact" series again in the spring.

Additionally, the Commercialization Advisory Network was launched. The network now has upward of 800 experienced domain experts, entrepreneurs, investors and others to help researchers identify and act on potential impacts of their inventions.

One recent example is an innovative way to grow vascularized human tissue — an advance that has applications in testing potential drug therapies and the development of treatments for cardiovascular disease — which recently was licensed and commercialized. TLA facilitated the development of the exclusive license agreement between the UA and Angiomics Inc., which is based in Louisville, Kentucky.

Another example: A peptide that helps people produce photo-protective melanin to prevent skin cancers was developed by UA Regents' Professor Emeritus of Chemistry and Biochemistry Victor J. Hruby and the Peptide Group in the Department of Chemistry and Biochemistry. In September, the UA licensed the invention to Teleost Biopharmaceutical, a company based on the invention, which is now moving its headquarters from Colorado to Tucson to partner long-term with the original UA inventors. 

Such activities also benefit communities around the state.

Flagstaff-based Senestech and SinfoníaRx in Tucson are growing their operations in Arizona, creating high-tech, high-wage jobs. SinfoníaRx — a provider of personalized medication management, in only its second year of operation — is hiring graduates from the UA College of Pharmacy, keeping talent in Tucson.

To further accelerate growth, TLA launched the Catapult Corporation, also called "Cat Corp," to provide early-stage capital to the most promising startup companies emerging from UA researchers. Tucson’s Thomas R. Brown Foundations pledged to match up to $2.5 million raised to initiate the donor-funded organization.

In the coming year, the Arizona Board of Regents has set goals for TLA that include delivering 190 invention disclosures, 17 patents and 10 new companies.

"In almost all cases, faculty want impact, and often that comes in the form of adding to a body of knowledge," Allen said.

"We need to move that knowledge forward into the marketplace. In almost all cases it has to be protected. For a licensee to invest tens to hundreds of millions, they need protected IP in order to obtain a return on their investments."

Lynn Nadel, Regents' Professor of Psychology and Cognitive Science and chairman of the Faculty Senate, said the policy improvements would have a long-term tangible impact.

"Whether or not our move contributes to a broad culture change is hard to predict," Nadel said, "but it should change the culture at the UA in positive ways, better connecting what we do to what the public needs."

Editor: dougcarrollByline Affiliation: University Relations - CommunicationsExtra Info: 

Have an idea for a product or a company and need information or support? Contact Doug Hockstad, technology transfer director for Tech Transfer Arizona, at or 520-626-1720.

Header image: YesNo Image: Subheading: Policies on intellectual property and promotion and tenure have been revised to accelerate commercialization activities across the University. Include in UANow: yesInclude in Olympic Coverage: noFeature on Olympic Page: noUANow Image: 

UA Research Spawns Eco-Friendly Cement Substitute

Wed, 11/12/2014 - 15:10

When he was a Ph.D. student in the University of Arizona Department of Soil, Water, and Environmental Science, David Stone won a student innovation competition with the invention of an eco-friendly substitute for Portland cement.

The U.S. Patent and Trademark Office issued a patent for the UA invention in 2013, and today, in collaboration with Tech Launch Arizona, Stone has licensed the technology from the UA and is starting a company called Iron Shell to commercialize his invention.

The invention, called Ferrock, uses the waste steel dust from industrial processes to create a cement-like material that is sustainable, strong and environmentally superior to conventional cement. Cement is the binder in concrete, which also includes aggregate such as sand and gravel.

Along with turning a waste product that usually ends up in landfills into a useful product, Ferrock has another —perhaps even greater — environmental advantage. Annually, 4 billion metric tons of cement is made worldwide for use in concrete, and for every ton of cement manufactured, approximately one ton of carbon dioxide is released into the atmosphere.

Conversely, Ferrock hardens only when exposed to high concentrations of carbon dioxide, which is absorbed and trapped, making it a carbon negative material. This greenhouse gas diffuses into the wet mixture and reacts with the iron, creating iron carbonate and becoming part of the material’s mineral matrix.

Lab testing shows that Ferrock is significantly stronger than Portland cement in compressive strength and several times stronger in flexural strength, meaning it can take more stress before bending and breaking. It also has superior resistance to cracking. Because hardening is caused by the rusting of iron dust, it is well-suited for use in salt water and other environments that are too corrosive for regular cement.

"This all started from an accidental discovery in a lab, which is actually the way it usually goes," Stone says. "That was back in 2002, and I included as much as I knew in my doctoral dissertation.  But the work goes on. It has taken years to get just a basic understanding of the chemistry involved. But this shouldn’t be surprising, since scientists are still trying to figure out Portland cement and they’ve had 200 years.

"I am into this for the long haul. Time is on our side, since in this era of global warming unsustainable processes like cement manufacture will have to give way to greener alternatives."

Doug Hockstad, Tech Launch Arizona’s director of tech transfer, is excited by the prospects for Iron Shell.

"The technology stands to impact the world in a variety of ways," Hockstad says, "including both reduction of carbon dioxide production and sequestration of other carbon dioxide production, as well as recycling of waste products such as steel waste and in some cases, recycled glass. For all that, this represents an amazing engineering achievement that has the potential to create a great, positive impact on the environment.”

Stone says TLA's role has been substantial.

"Scientist inventors are not exactly known for their business skills, but (TLA) believed in me from the beginning and felt that I should play a central role in the commercialization effort," he says. "They then demonstrated this belief by giving my own startup the exclusive license to the patent and the right to sublicense. The terms were very generous and demonstrated that they think this commercialization effort will succeed. Beyond that, they have continuously aided my efforts to find business advisors, get the expertise I need and build a team."

Editor: dougcarrollByline: Paul TumarkinByline Affiliation: Tech Launch ArizonaHeader image: YesNo Image: Subheading: Ferrock uses uses the waste steel dust from industrial processes to create a cementlike material that is sustainable and stronger than conventional cement.Include in UANow: yesInclude in Olympic Coverage: noFeature on Olympic Page: noUANow Image: 

College Embeds Have Fingers on Research Pulse

Wed, 11/12/2014 - 12:57

Transforming an idea to reality can be an intimidating, complex process. Fortunately for University of Arizona innovators, Tech Launch Arizona is on hand to help.

Tech Launch Arizona, also known as TLA, helps move inventions, technologies and intellectual property out of the laboratory and into the marketplace. To help make the process even easier, TLA has worked to create close connections between UA colleges and its services.

Currently, TLA has six embedded licensing managers, each of whom is partnered with a UA college. While all have offices at TLA, each also has a home in the colleges where they spend half their time, interacting with faculty, researchers and students on a day-to-day basis, keeping their fingers on the pulse of research.

These professionals — experts in intellectual property who are well versed both in the business and technical sides of their fields — work with faculty and researchers to identify the potentially valuable inventions that might emerge during the course of research and development.

"All we want is for people to have that awareness when something might be an invention, and just call us," says David Allen, TLA's vice president. "We're here to provide our service to the entire UA."

TLA has embeds in the College of Science, the College of Engineering, the College of Optical Sciences, the College of Medicine, the Eller College of Management, and the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences.

However, TLA provides services to researchers across the UA campus regardless of field of study.

Should anyone within the UA community develop an invention, or even have an inkling that they might have a potentially commercially valuable idea, they should contact the licensing manager within their college — or just call TLA — and talk it over.

For more information, visit

Editor: dougcarrollByline Affiliation: University Relations - CommunicationsHeader image: YesNo Image: Subheading: Currently, Tech Launch Arizona has six embedded licensing managers, each of whom is partnered with a UA college.Include in UANow: yesInclude in Olympic Coverage: noFeature on Olympic Page: noUANow Image: 

Clues Revealed About Hidden Interior of Uranus

Wed, 11/12/2014 - 12:22

By re-analyzing images that NASA's Voyager-2 spacecraft took 28 years ago, University of Arizona astronomer Erich Karkoschka has teased out hidden features in Uranus' atmosphere that reveal an unexpected, strange rotation pattern and point to the possible existence of an unusual feature inside the planet's interior. The findings shed light on the interior structures of giant gas planets, not only of Uranus, a planet for which observational data are sparse, but also those of the many extrasolar planets that are being discovered.

When Voyager-2 flew by Uranus in January 1986 and sent the first close-up images back to Earth, it revealed a giant, pale blue icy ball that lacked the stunningly detailed, colorful bands and swirls of Jupiter, Saturn and Neptune. No more than eight faint features could be tracked, all located in the southern hemisphere. Only one of the eight features was located in the southern half of the southern hemisphere. Images taken with the Hubble Space Telescope and the largest telescopes on Earth did not reveal any feature there. The southern half of Uranus' southern hemisphere seemed to be the blandest region in the outer solar system.

The animation below, provided by Karkoschka, shows Uranus as Voyager-2 saw it during its fly-by in 1986, superimposed with the new look of the giant gas planet as a result of this study.

By teasing out subtle differences from the information contained in Voyager's images, Karkoschka discovered previously unseen features in Uranus' atmosphere, revealing that Uranus' southern hemisphere rotates unlike any region observed on the giant gas planets before. Karkoschka presented his findings at the meeting of the Division for Planetary Science of the American Astronomical Association in Tucson.

"Some of these features probably are convective clouds caused by updraft and condensation," said Karkoschka, a senior staff scientist at the UA's Lunar and Planetary Laboratory. "Some of the brighter features look like clouds that extend over hundreds of kilometers."

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A gas giant's observable atmosphere extends less than one percent of the planet's radius. Knowledge is limited about the more than 99 percent beneath it. In the absence of a visible surface, scientists rely on atmospheric features to determine the rotation periods of gas giants. The picture is complicated by atmospheric circulation patterns that vary with latitude and may or may not be in sync with the planet's core rotation rate.

"What we're really looking at when we observe the giant planets are their thick atmospheres," Karkoschka explained. "Cloud features tracking winds move mostly east or west at a speed depending on the latitude. Once we know the wind speed or rotational period at each latitude, we know the circulation of the planet's atmosphere."

In 1665, Giovanni Cassini performed the first rotational measurement of a giant planet when he tracked the Great Red Spot on Jupiter. Over the last three and a half centuries, astronomers have pinned down essentially the complete circulation of Jupiter and Saturn and about 75 percent for Uranus and Neptune. Karkoschka's new work fills in the remaining 25 percent for Uranus. 

"All previous observations of the giant planets indicated that these planets rotate in a regular way, meaning the rotational rates in their respective southern and northern latitudes are about the same," Karkoschka said. "My analysis suggests rotational rates in the high latitudes of Uranus are highly asymmetrical, with some southern latitudes possibly rotating as much as 15 percent faster than their northern counterparts."

Karkoschka found several sharp kinks in the rotational profile, defying all previous observations and theoretical considerations.

"The unusual rotation of high southern latitudes of Uranus is probably due to an unusual feature in the interior of Uranus," he said. "While the nature of the feature and its interaction with the atmosphere are not yet known, the fact that I found this unusual rotation offers new possibilities to learn about the interior of a giant planet."

Astronomers have tried to find clues about the interior of the giant planets, but little is known so far. Signals at radio wavelengths have indicated the rotation of the magnetic field of the giant planets, which likely reflects the rotation of the deep interior core. However, these data do not reveal much about the interior structure. Additional clues have come from measurements of the giant planets' gravitational fields, but data are extremely sparse. Karkoschka's detailed rotational measurements of Uranus may help determine the interior structure of Uranus fairly accurately by eliminating some of the proposed models of the planet's interior.

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This animation shows the differential rotation of previously unseen atmospheric features in Uranus's southern hemisphere. (Credit: Erich Karkoschka)


"Most of the more than a thousand planets discovered around other stars are similar in size to Uranus," Karkoschka said. "They are too far for us to be able to measure their rotational profiles for the foreseeable future, but with an improved knowledge about Uranus, we might be better able to draw conclusions about their interior structure."

Uranus is an oddball in the solar system. Its rotational axis is tilted by almost 90 degrees, like a spinning top lying on its side. One lap around the sun takes about 85 years. Uranus' spring equinox in 2007 marked the beginning of a 43-year long period of darkness for the south pole and its surroundings, hidden from Earth's view. It seemed that the southern half of Uranus southern hemisphere was destined to stay a bland spot in the solar system — a region of unknown winds for decades to come.

Karkoschka did not want to wait that long. He experimented with different processing techniques and developed pattern recognition software until previously unseen features popped out. The largest improvement came when he stacked 1,600 images on top of one another to account for various possibilities of the rotation of Uranus. In the end, dozens of features became visible where only a single one was known before. The features were scattered all over the southern half of Uranus' southern hemisphere so that its detailed circulation pattern finally became known. All these features, except the one previously known, are of very low contrast and become visible when the contrast is enhanced 300 times.

Karkoschka's work illustrates the scientific value that can be gleaned from data that have been around for a long time, available to anyone with Internet access. He had similar success when he investigated 13-year-old Voyager images of Uranus’ surroundings and discovered the satellite Perdita.

"The computer memory necessary to process 1,600 images was not available at the time Voyager took these images," Karkoschka said. "As computers and calibration methods get better, we can now do this kind of work, at a tiny fraction of the cost necessary to send a spacecraft to a planet."

This work was supported by NASA (grant #NNX12AI68G) and was made possible by individuals involved in NASA's Voyager project, which is still collecting data 37 years after launch.

Editor: dougcarrollWriter: Daniel StolteByline: Daniel StolteByline Affiliation: University Relations – CommunicationsHeader image: YesNo Image: Subheading: Long believed to be one of the blandest regions of any of the giant gas planets, the southern hemisphere of Uranus indicates a flurry of previously unknown atmospheric phenomena, hinting at an unusual feature in the interior of the planet.Include in UANow: 0Include in Olympic Coverage: noFeature on Olympic Page: no

A Visual Journey to Bennu, the Target of OSIRIS-REx

Wed, 11/12/2014 - 10:35
Asteroid Bennu, the target of OSIRIS-REx, NASA's first mission to a pristine carbonaceous asteroid that may hold clues to the origins of life in our solar system, took center stage on Nov. 12 at the AAS' Division for Planetary Sciences meeting in Tucson. The mission's principal investigator, Dante Lauretta, unveiled a video animation chronicling the history and evolution of Bennu, and presented a review paper summarizing what scientists have learned about Bennu during 12 years of astronomical observations.    The talk included the first public viewing of "Bennu's Journey," an animation created by NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center that highlights the asteroid and the mission for non-technical audiences. "Bennu's Journey" takes the viewer on a visually stunning exploration to the origins of asteroid Bennu and its travels that take it past the Earth every six years.    "We have taken the scientific results of the ground-based observing campaign and combined the data with results obtained through computer simulations, to make the animation," said Lauretta, a professor of planetary science in the University of Arizona's Lunar and Planetary Laboratory.    The product, scheduled for public release on Nov. 18, is Goddard's first animation in the new 4k standard, providing images with four times the resolution of high-definition TV. Movie posters, wallpapers and the movie itself (after Nov. 18) can be downloaded from the OSIRIS-REx mission website.   "Our review paper summarizes the results of an extensive campaign to determine the physical, geological and dynamical properties of Bennu and provides the fundamental scientific motivation for the mission and explains what we're hoping to learn," Lauretta said. "The great value of an asteroid sample return lies in the knowledge that the sample is pristine and we know exactly where it came from. This is in sharp contrast to meteorites, which come to Earth from unknown origins, are altered by their trip through the atmosphere and exposed to the elements before they are found."    Scheduled for launch in the fall of 2016, OSIRIS-REx will rendezvous with Bennu in 2018, swoop down onto the asteroid's surface, collect a sample and return it to Earth in 2023. The OSIRIS-REx mission promises to help scientists address some basic questions about the composition of the very early solar system, the source of organic materials and water that made life possible on Earth, and to better predict the orbits of asteroids that represent collision threats to the Earth.    "Our knowledge of Bennu's orbit allows us to assess its impact hazard," Lauretta said. “Bennu is one of the most Potentially Hazardous Asteroids with an approximate 1-in-2,700 chance of impacting the Earth in the late 22nd century."    In 2135, Bennu will pass 300,000 kilometers (186,411 miles) over the surface of the Earth, well inside the orbit of the moon. The highest probability for a planetary impact is with Venus, followed by the Earth. In the statistically most likely scenario, the asteroid will end its dynamical life by falling into the sun within the next 10 million years. There also is a chance that Bennu will be ejected from the inner solar system after a close encounter with Jupiter.   Bennu is a primitive carbonaceous asteroid, thought to contain organic matter and water and hold valuable clues to the formation of the solar system and the origin of life-seeding molecules on Earth.    "We infer that Bennu is an ancient object that has witnessed more than 4.5 billion years of solar system history," Lauretta said. "Its chemistry and mineralogy were established within the first 10 million years of the solar system's formation."    Bennu likely came into existence in the inner main asteroid belt between Mars and Jupiter as an individual asteroid within the past 700 million to 2 billion years, as a result of a collision shattering its parent body, an asteroid believed to be 100-150 kilometers wide (60-90 miles).    Classified as a rubble-pile asteroid, Bennu acquired its spinning-top shape — common of many near-Earth asteroids — as a result of changes in its rotational angular momentum over time, including closer encounters between Bennu and planets such as Earth or Venus that shifted rubble and smaller particles to pile up near the equator.    "These wide-scale resurfacing processes may have brought fresh material to Bennu's surface, unaltered by cosmic rays, solar wind and impacting particles, making it especially valuable scientifically," Lauretta said.    The review paper will be published as part of a special issue of the journal Meteoritics & Planetary Science dedicated to Michael J. Drake, former head of the UA's Department of Planetary Sciences and Lunar and Planetary Laboratory and father of the OSIRIS-REx mission. Drake died in September 2011, having committed the last seven years of his life to making the OSIRIS-REx mission a reality. He established an international team, led the by the UA along with Goddard Space Flight Center and Lockheed Martin, to propose an asteroid sample return mission to NASA.  Editor: dougcarrollWriter: Daniel StolteByline: Daniel StolteByline Affiliation: University Relations – CommunicationsHeader image: YesNo Image: Subheading: The public gets to meet Bennu, the target asteroid of the UA-led OSIRIS-REx mission, with an upcoming movie highlighting the asteroid and what it takes to grab a sample of the stuff the solar system is made of. Include in UANow: yesInclude in Olympic Coverage: noFeature on Olympic Page: noUANow Image: 

Wildcat Review: Homecoming Win, Football/Women's Basketball This Week

Mon, 11/10/2014 - 15:25

Wildcat fans have much to celebrate. 

Last week, Arizona football took the win against Colorado during the UA's 100th Homecoming. This week, the team hosts Washington with kickoff scheduled for 1:30 p.m. at Arizona Stadium. Gates open at noon. If you are unable to attend the game, it will be broadcast live on FOX. 

More major news this week: Arizona's soccer team was selected in the field of 64 teams to play in the NCAA tournament. The Wildcats' first-round matchup will be against Oklahoma State on Nov. 14 at the Cowgirl Soccer Complex in Stillwater, Okla.

Additionally, UA women's basketball begins its 2014-15 season with an exhibition game against Concordia University on Nov. 11 at 3 p.m. at McKale Center. 

Arizona defeats Colorado in 100th Annual Homecoming Football Game

In Arizona's homecoming football game on Saturday, the Wildcats improved their season record to 7-2 (4-3 Pac-12) after routing the Buffaloes 38-20 at Arizona Stadium. Freshman quarterback Anu Solomon completed 21 of 38 passes for 211 yards and four touchdowns. Solomon also ran for a career-high 117 yards in the UA's victory.  

"We're happy to get that one and I'm proud of our guys," Arizona head coach Rich Rodriguez said in a press release. "Colorado is a well-coached football team that played hard. After the first play, our offense settled down and got some turnovers. Anu Solomon really competed and ran the ball well. His running was probably the difference for us offensively."

Arizona caused four forced turnovers against Colorado — the most since forcing five against USC in 2011.  

Sophomore linebacker Scooby Wright III was the key to Arizona's defense. He led all tacklers with 10 while recording a sack and two tackles for loss of yards. Sophomore running back Samajie Grant caught six passes for 83 yards and two touchdowns, while freshman running back Nick Wilson rushed for a game-high 153 yards on 21 carries.

Men's Basketball Kicks Off Season With Win Over Cal Poly Pomona

The No. 2-ranked Wildcats trailed the Cal Poly Pomona Broncos for most of the first half. But the team quickly figured things out, making the necessary adjustments to improve their shooting and defense en route to a 67-51 exhibition victory in front of 10,000 fans Sunday evening at the recently renovated McKale Center.

Five players recorded double-digit points in a balanced effort for the UA. Junior guard Gabe York, junior center Kaleb Tarczewski and freshman forward Stanley Johnson scored 12 points each. York was was 2-for-6 from three-point range and contributed six rebounds (two of which were offensive), dished out three assists and had a steal. Tarczewski snagged six rebounds and was 2-for-3 from the free-throw line. Johnson grabbed three rebounds and had three assists and a steal in his first collegiate performance. 

Junior forward Brandon Ashley and sophomore forward Rondae Hollis-Jefferson added 10 points each. Ashley, who was one of Arizona's most versatile players a year ago, played in his first live-action game since a foot injury in February. He subsequently picked up where he left off, shooting 4-for-6 from the field, pulling down seven rebounds and recording two steals, a block and an assist over a team-high 29 minutes. 

Arizona head coach Sean Miller said he scheduled this game knowing the team would be facing a matchup zone. He said the experience of playing against a zone will benefit the Wildcats later in the nonconference season. 

"You didn't sense that we came out as a team filled with confidence," Miller said. "I was happy with our defense. When you have 23 assists, that means you shared the ball well, (and we had) only 12 turnovers. I think we did a good job there, especially for as early as it is."

Softball Finishes Fall Season Undefeated

Arizona softball concluded its fall season with a 7-1 win over Scottsdale Community College on Nov. 5 at Hillenbrand Memorial Stadium.

Sophomore pitcher Michelle Floyd received the start and did not disappoint, tossing four scoreless innings and only allowing one hit while striking out five and walking two. 

Offensive onslaughts in the third and fifth innings saw run-scoring doubles from seniors Kellie Fox and Chelsea Goodacre and a three-run home run off the bat off sophomore utility player Katiyana Mauga — her fourth of the fall. 

Overall, the Wildcats posted a record of 8-0 this fall and outscored their opponents by 112-9.

Volleyball Shows Strength and Tenacity in Bay Area Split

Arizona volleyball lost a five-set battle, 3-2, to top-ranked Stanford in Palo Alto on Nov. 7.

The Wildcats won the second and fourth sets. Senior outside hitters Madi Kingdon and Taylor Arizobal paced the UA's offense. Kingdon compiled 25 kills and showed her defensive ability with a career-high 30 digs against the Cardinal, becoming the seventh player in program history to record 30 digs in a match. Arizobal contributed 13 kills, with eight of those coming in Arizona's second-set triumph. 

The Wildcats traveled across the bay to face against Cal, still hungry and restless for a win. Arizobal and Kingdon again dominated the offensive stat sheet. Kingdon totaled 19 kills to accompany 17 digs, while Arizobal amassed a season-high 17 kills on 25 swings. Arizobal's .600 hitting percentage stands as her career high. Senior libero Ronni Lewis and sophomore setter Penina Snuka each contributed 15 digs in helping the UA limit the Golden Bears to a .183 hitting percentage. 

Notable Mention 

The women's golf team placed fourth at the Pac-12 preview at Nanea Golf Club in Kona, Hawaii, last week. Arizona's 889 score over the three-round tournament translated to 13 strokes above par. Junior Lindsey Weaver was the Wildcats' top finisher, tying for fifth place overall with a score of 218.

Categories: Campus NewsSportsThis is a Wildcat Corner feature: Images: Tags: AthleticsStudetnsStudent LifeByline: Evan Rosenfeld, University Relations - CommunicationsEditor: dougcarrollInclude in UANow: 0Date of Publication: Monday, November 10, 2014Medium Summary: Last week, five UA teams combined for a 4-2 record. Feature on Front: NoShort Summary: Last week, five UA teams combined for a 4-2 record. Send to Never Settle Site: 0

Tech Launch Arizona Looks to the Future

Mon, 11/10/2014 - 12:28

Tech Launch Arizona was established early last year to ensure that good ideas developed by University of Arizona researchers do not live and die in laboratories or grow dusty on bookshelves but enter the market for public benefit.

In its first full fiscal year of operations, TLA executed 39 exclusive licenses and options for 72 total licenses overall; filed 167 patents; aided faculty inventors in 188 invention disclosures; helped create 11 startup companies; received 24 patents; and supported the funding of 19 proof-of-concept projects.

Such accomplishments include a UA researcher licensing a technology developed for an eco-friendly substitute for cement, an exclusive license agreement for a company that is improving natural skin cancer prevention and the launch of the Defense and Security Research Institute, which will establish more partnerships between the UA and industry. 

"Fiscal year 2014 was our first full year with a complete team, new procedures and new programs in support of securing and protecting UA intellectual property and licensing it to existing and new companies," said David Allen, vice president of TLA.

"We have continued to build upon the previous new approaches and success of last year, and every indication is that this fiscal year we will appreciably exceed the performance of last," Allen said. "We are pleased with the way the University and technology business community has stepped up to become involved and help."

Allen noted that the UA in 2012 established 55 objectives, and many of those goals have been met. In the coming year, the Arizona Board of Regents set goals for TLA that include delivering at least 190 invention disclosures, 17 patents and 10 new companies.

Also, TLA will continue to develop the Catapult Corporation, which invests in new companies based on UA-born technologies. The unit also will host a two-day summit during the spring, bringing together 50 thought leaders in university technology commercialization from across the country. TLA also will initiate a long-term financial strategy to leverage the returns generated from the Tech Parks.

Related to such activities, the in-house language often evoked is that TLA is "creating an innovation ecosystem" involving partners across the city, in business and industry and also within the general community.

In doing so, TLA supports UA researchers as they patent, license and market new intellectual property, moving technologies into the marketplace. TLA also negotiates agreements with companies, whether they be startups or existing, and it cultivates and maintains relationships with partners capable of leveraging knowledge and talent at the UA.

To expand the number of UA researchers engaged in intellectual property activities, TLA developed a guide to help researchers evaluate their inventions, and it maintains a steady calendar of workshops and other events to develop the entrepreneurial activity across campus. TLA also has embedded intellectual property experts in colleges across campus, providing easier access for faculty to learn about copyright, trademark and patent strategies, and helping them through the process of protecting their inventions.

In support of student researchers, TLA has introduced several internship and fellowship programs for those interested in learning about and engaging in entrepreneurship, startup development and the technical side of commercialization. 

Also part of TLA is Wheelhouse, the University's new-ventures group, which connects researchers with business leaders to take new technologies to market, with a focus on startups.

Given the UA's expansive and diverse research enterprise, having a robust network to provide key guidance and timely industry insights helps move along inventions, said Wheelhouse director Sherry Hoskinson.

"The Wheelhouse network provides TLA with access to in-depth understanding on groundbreaking technologies. That represents a human capital diversity that cannot be purchased, and is a remarkable resource," Hoskinson said.

Hoskinson said the continued growth of commercialization activities would aid not only the UA but the broader community.

"UA commercialization activities play important and very distinct roles at the University in strengthening the overall research environment, attracting and retaining top-quality faculty and students as well as making economic and social contributions," Hoskinson said.

"The impact of a globally competitive regional economy is essential for a healthy community today. No one can argue the impact on lives and well-being by the life-changing inventions and discoveries that are available for use because a solid commercial pathway was envisioned and enabled."

Editor: dougcarrollByline Affiliation: University Relations - CommunicationsHeader image: YesNo Image: Subheading: After a successful first full year, the UA's commercialization arm is poised to create even more partnerships with industry. Include in UANow: yesInclude in Olympic Coverage: noFeature on Olympic Page: noUANow Image: 

Baby Photos of a Scaled-Up Solar System

Mon, 11/10/2014 - 10:22

Scientists at the University of Arizona have discovered what might be the closest thing to "baby photos" of our solar system. A young star called HD 95086 is found to have two dust belts, analogous to the asteroid and Kuiper belts in the solar system, surrounded by a large dust halo that only young planetary systems have.  

Similar dust structures also are found around another, slightly older star, HR 8799, where four massive planets occupy the large gap between the two belts. HR 8799, the first star found to host four directly imaged planets, is often referred to as a younger and scaled-up version of our solar system. Finding another star similar to HR 8799 suggests a common model for how stars form planets and how their planetary systems evolve.

The ages of these systems span an interesting period, about 10 million to 90 million years, when terrestrial planets form and giant planets settle down to their final configuration in our solar system, the team reports.

"We think HD 95086 is a snapshot of what our solar system might have looked like when it was only 10 million to 20 million years old," said Kate Su, an associate astronomer in the UA's Department of Astronomy and Steward Observatory and lead author of the paper.

Using data from NASA's Spitzer Space Telescope and ESA's Herschel Space Observatory combined with detailed simulations, the researchers found HD 95086 and HR 8799 each has a vast disk halo of fine dust, suggesting enhanced collisional activities in their Kuiper-belt-like belts. This is an expected behavior for systems that are experiencing dynamical settling of gas giants and possibly late formation of giant ice planets.

The large gap between the warm and cold belts in HD 95086, HR 8799 and some other nearby older systems such as debris disk twins Vega and Fomalhaut is an excellent signpost for multiple, yet-to-be-discovered planets, according to the research team.

HD 95086 and HR 8799 are located 295 and 129 light-years from earth in the constellations of Carina and Pegasus, respectively. 

"The HD 95086 system, with its young star hosting at least one planet of about five Jupiter masses along with massive asteroid and Kuiper-like debris belts, is a promising target for planet hunting," Su said. "Both systems are very similar, except the HD 95086 has more dust, which is in line with theories of planet formation and leads us to believe it is the younger of the two. By looking at other systems like these, we can piece out how our solar system came to be."

"There have to be more planets than have been discovered to make a gap that is this big," said Sarah Morrison, a co-author of the paper and a Ph.D. student in the UA's Department of Planetary Sciences, who ran computer models to constrain the possibilities of how many planets are likely to inhabit the system, what their masses could be like and where their orbits could be. "We think that the system is a prime candidate for direct imaging campaigns to find those planets."

Knowing where additional planets could be and how massive they are in HD 95086 is of great advantage for scientists who are looking for the dim signatures of planets near a bright star.

"By knowing where the debris is plus the properties of the known planet in the system, we can get an idea of what other kinds of planets can be there," Morrison added. "We know that we should be looking for multiple planets instead of a single giant planet."

"These two stars are at a stage in their evolution when we think many interesting events happened in our solar system, such as the formation of our moon and initial trigger of the late heavy bombardment," said Renu Malhotra, professor in the UA Department of Planetary Sciences and one of the study's co-authors. "The processes we see going on in these other systems can be correlated to observations made in our solar system and provide a look back at our own history.

"One of the outstanding questions about our solar system has been, 'Why is the space between the planets so empty?' We know that over long periods of time, the planets' gravity can clear the debris. Systems like HR 8799 and HD 95086 offer the opportunity to observe dynamical processes that occurred very long ago in our own solar system."

The researchers presented the findings at the Division for Planetary Science Meeting of the American Astronomical Society held in Tucson, Arizona, from Nov. 8-15.

Other coauthors in the paper include Zoltan Balog at the Max-Planck Institute of Astronomy- Heidelberg, Paul Smith and George Rieke in the UA's Department of Astronomy and Steward Observatory. 

Editor: dougcarrollWriter: Daniel StolteByline: Daniel StolteByline Affiliation: University Relations - CommunicationsHeader image: YesNo Image: Subheading: UA astronomers have discovered two dust belts surrounded by a large dust halo around young star HD 95086. The findings provide a look back at what our solar system may have resembled in its infancy. Include in UANow: 0Include in Olympic Coverage: noFeature on Olympic Page: no

UA Taking 100% Student Engagement to New Levels

Fri, 11/07/2014 - 16:47

In an increasingly competitive job market, the University of Arizona is finding innovative solutions to help students build their resumés and ensure they graduate workforce-ready.

Most recently, the University established the Institute for Career Readiness and Engagement. The institute, which will connect students with experiences and employers like never before, was made possible by the Office of the Governor, which selected the UA to receive funding through the Workforce Development Grant program.

Last year, the UA announced its 100% Engagement initiative — an important component of its Never Settle strategic and academic business plan – which promises all undergraduate students an opportunity to gain real-world, hands-on experience in their chosen field before they graduate.

These experiences, whether they are gained through internships, a formal research project or other opportunities, will allow students to apply their classroom learning in real-world settings and will be officially recorded on the students' transcripts.

The new institute will support the 100% Engagement initiative by working proactively with employers to connect students with internship and job opportunities.

"The Institute for Career Readiness and Engagement is uniquely designed to build a strong bridge between our students and Arizona employers," said Eileen McGarry, executive director of Career Services and Student Engagement. "It will build students' awareness of opportunities in their state, enhance their confidence and professional readiness for engaging in these opportunities, and directly connect them to employing organizations that can launch their careers."

McGarry said the institute will expand early career coaching programs to give students a head start on developing job-market insight and career plans. These programs will help students identify their areas of interest, and then use that information to match them with potential career paths.

The institute also is designed to enhance the UA's Internship Readiness Program, which provides resources for sophomores and juniors through an eight-week series on how to approach an internship search. The program helps students get comfortable with networking, job hunting, polishing their resumés, and refining their interview and leadership skills.

The UA is currently seeking a director of employer initiatives for Career Services. This position will be based in Phoenix and work to develop relationships with community leaders and key employers in Maricopa County in order to complement efforts already in place in southern Arizona. The director's goal will be to build opportunities for student internships and other career-related experiences, such as tours or job shadowing.

In addition, the Institute for Career Readiness and Engagement will benefit the state as a whole by working to keep more grads in Arizona.

"By focusing on early awareness and connections to employers in Arizona through tours, job shadowing and internships, employers will be able to more easily build a pipeline to talent, and students will develop opportunities to remain a part of Arizona's workforce after graduation," McGarry said. "Strengthening our workforce will attract new business and grow Arizona's economy."

Editor: dougcarrollByline Affiliation: University Relations - CommunicationsHeader image: YesNo Image: Subheading: The new Institute for Career Readiness and Engagement will connect students with real-world experiences, internships and employers.Include in UANow: 0Include in Olympic Coverage: noFeature on Olympic Page: no

Safer Conditions for Mine Workers?

Thu, 11/06/2014 - 20:21

Every day miners from Arizona to South Africa delve deeper and deeper into the Earth, where mine temperatures can exceed 175 degrees Fahrenheit, in search of valuable metals.

With a five-year, $1.3 million interdisciplinary research project funded by the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health, or NIOSH, researchers in the UA College of Engineering and Mel and Enid Zuckerman College of Public Health are forging new technologies to more efficiently reduce temperatures in these mines, better protect workers from exposure to extreme temperatures, and potentially save mining companies millions of dollars in energy costs. 

“This project will provide solutions that are both economical and environmentally sustainable,” said Moe Momayez, the project’s principal investigator and associate professor and associate head of UA mining and geological engineering.

In one of the project’s efforts, the engineers are working to transform mine tailings, finely ground leftovers of ore extraction that are stored above ground at mine sites, into insulation to cool the air deep below. 

“We are recycling a ubiquitous mine waste byproduct and turning it into something useful,” Momayez said.

Momayez and co-investigator Krishna Muralidharan, assistant professor of materials science and engineering, are developing a new form of shotcrete to reduce heat transfer from the extremely hard, highly heat-conductive rock in underground metal mines. Shotcrete, a form of liquid concrete sprayed at high velocity to insulate and strengthen surfaces, is used in many industries. But this is the first time it has been created from mine tailings to use for heat management in underground mines. 

Mine operators will be able to convert the tailings into shotcrete in their mills and apply it underground, without ever having to store it. Stored mine tailings can release byproducts into the environment through dust emissions or leakage into groundwater. Converting the tailings into a useful product on site will eliminate risks associated with storing the materials, and the new shotcrete is safe for workers underground, Momayez said. 

While Momayez examines geothermal heat transfer and air flow in hot underground metal mines, Muralidharan analyzes mine rock and tailings at a more fundamental level. The team conducts much of its research at Resolution Mine, a copper mine near Superior, Arizona, where workers descend as much as 7,000 feet below Earth’s surface and  often are exposed to temperatures of 135 degrees and higher.

“This is basic science, with potentially widespread practical applications,” said Muralidharan, adding that the new shotcrete could even be used above ground to insulate houses and other structures. “We are building models to understand the atomic structure of the material and how we can alter it to create something that is porous and has low thermal conductivity, yet still strong enough to use as an integral part of a ground support system and to withstand disruptions like drilling and blasting.” 

Researchers in the College of Public Health, led by co-principal investigator Eric Lutz, director of the UA Mine Safety and Health Programs, are focusing on the human factor.

“Human reaction to heat exposure is very complex,” said Lutz, an assistant professor. “From high school athletes who experience heat stroke to factory workers who suffer heart attacks, we don’t have a very good measure of heat’s effects on the human body and individuals’ thresholds for withstanding heat — particularly in the workplace.”

The researchers are monitoring miners’ body temperature, blood pressure and other health indicators under various work conditions at the Resolution Mine to determine how individuals react to heat exposure and are developing additional technologies, such as more effective cooling vests, to better protect miners in the high temperatures.

The NIOSH grant supports up to seven master’s and doctoral engineering students. At least one undergraduate also is participating. 

Mara Erhardt, a mining engineering junior in the UA Honors College, is reading up on geothermal heat conduction, shotcrete and the modeling software she will be using in the study. Later, she will begin working on large-scale modeling and synthesis of the new insulation material. 

“As an undergraduate, I haven’t had much exposure to computer programming and modeling. This is a wonderful opportunity that will open new doors for me after I graduate,” she said, adding, “It’s particularly rewarding to be part of a project with such immediate applications in places like the Resolution Mine.”

Editor: dougcarrollByline: Jill GoetzByline Affiliation: UA College of EngineeringHeader image: YesNo Image: Subheading: UA mining and materials science engineers are finding ways to convert mine tailings into insulation for cooling hot metal mines deep underground.Include in UANow: 0Include in Olympic Coverage: noFeature on Olympic Page: no

Glaciers' Retreat Documented in Book From UA-Led Project

Thu, 11/06/2014 - 19:39

Taking their name from the old Scottish term glim, meaning a passing look or glance, in 1994 a team of scientists began developing a worldwide initiative to study glaciers using satellite data.

Twenty years later, the international GLIMS (Global Land Ice Measurements from Space) initiative observes the world's glaciers primarily using data from optical satellite instruments such as ASTER (Advanced Spaceborne Thermal Emission and Reflection Radiometer) and Landsat.

Jeffrey S. Kargel, senior associate research scientist in the UA Department of Hydrology and Water Resources, coordinates the GLIMS project.

The project’s research, which confirms the shrinking of the world’s glaciers in unprecedented detail, is published in the new book “Global Land Ice Measurements From Space.”

“This is the most comprehensive report on glacier changes ever done,” said Kargel, lead editor of the book. “There is a lot of material in this book that has not been published anywhere else.”

More than 150 scientists from all over the world have contributed to the book.

Other editors are Gregory J. Leonard, a UA assistant research scientist in hydrology and water resources; Michael P. Bishop of Texas A&M University in College Station; Andreas Kääb of the University of Oslo in Norway; and Bruce Raup of the National Snow and Ice Data Center in Boulder, Colorado.

Other UA scientists who contributed to the book are Regents’ Professor of Hydrology and Water Resources Victor R. Baker and Roberto Furfaro, an assistant professor of systems and industrial engineering.

While the shrinking of glaciers on all continents is already known from ground observations of individual glaciers, by using repeated satellite observations GLIMS has firmly established that glaciers are shrinking globally. Although some glaciers are maintaining their size, most glaciers are dwindling. The foremost cause of the worldwide reductions in glaciers is global warming, the team writes. 

The book has 25 regional chapters that illustrate glacier changes from the Arctic to the Antarctic. Other chapters provide a thorough theoretical background on glacier monitoring and mapping, remote sensing techniques, uncertainties, and interpretation of the observations in a climatic context. The book highlights many other glacier research applications of satellite data, including measurement of glacier thinning from repeated satellite-based digital elevation models and calculation of surface flow velocities from repeated satellite images.

These tools are key to understanding local and regional variations in glacier behavior, the team writes. The high sensitivity of glaciers to climate change has substantially decreased their volume and changed the landscape over the past decades, affecting both regional water availability and the hazard potential of glaciers. The growing GLIMS database about glaciers also contributed to the Fifth Assessment Report of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, issued in 2013. The IPCC report concluded that most of the world’s glaciers have been losing ice at an increasing rate in recent decades.

More than 60 institutions across the globe are involved in GLIMS. The GLIMS glacier database and GLIMS website are developed and maintained by the National Snow and Ice Data Center at the University of Colorado in Boulder. The World Glacier Monitoring Service in Zurich also is a core institution of GLIMS.

Editor: dougcarrollByline: Mari N. JensenByline Affiliation: UA College of ScienceExtra Info: 

GLIMS website:

For book highlights:

Header image: YesNo Image: Subheading: 'Global Land Ice Measurements From Space' presents an overview and detailed assessment of changes in the world’s glaciers by using satellite imagery.Include in UANow: 0Include in Olympic Coverage: noFeature on Olympic Page: no

Endowment to Honor Wildcat 'Connectors'

Thu, 11/06/2014 - 14:32

A campaign has been launched to create an endowment to honor the lasting legacy of Stella and Marvin "Swede" Johnson, the ultimate team of Wildcat connectors.

The University of Arizona Alumni Association announced the campaign for the Stella and Swede Johnson Alumni Endowment, called "Swede's Dream," during the 100th Homecoming.

"Homecoming has always been an important weekend in the Johnson family — like a family holiday," said Lynn (Johnson) Engel, a 1976 UA graduate and daughter of the Johnsons. "Announcing this endowment at Homecoming 100 is a special way to celebrate my father's belief that people make up the University, they are the University."

During the silent phase of raising money for the endowment, 90 percent of the past chairs of the UA Alumni Association Governing Board participated in giving. 

The endowment has pledges and gift commitments totaling more than $400,000 supporting UA Alumni Association programs, which serve more than 260,000 UA alumni, including an alumni career services program, the Student Alumni Ambassadors, faculty recognition opportunities, expanded chapter programming across the country, greater investment in Arizona Alumni Magazine and enhanced alumni support across campus.

"Daddy always said, 'It's not buildings and it's not curriculum and courses and colleges. It's people — faculty, staff, students, friends, and alumni who care for each other and about this University,'" Engel said.

Swede Johnson served as president of the Alumni Association from 1958 to 1963, and his wife, Stella, accompanied him around the country meeting Wildcat alumni. Before the proliferation of mobile and digital technology, Swede Johnson could be found in airport phone booths with a pocket full of quarters, calling friends and creating a Wildcat social network from the ground up.

Fifty years ago, the Johnsons dedicated themselves to a lifetime of cultivating and nurturing Wildcat connections. Today, the Stella and Swede Johnson Alumni Endowment embodies that dedication.

Engel is a founding donor to the endowment, along with: Stella Johnson, a 1950 UA graduate; Karen (Johnson) Riebe, a 1981 graduate and  daughter of the Johnsons; Sidney "Jack" McDuff, a 1951 UA graduate and a close family friend; and William "Billy" Chavira, a two-time UA graduate (he earned degrees in 1992 and 1996) and a UAAA governing board chair who served for a one-year term beginning in 2011.

Engel, who served as the UA Alumni Association Governing Board chair for a one-year term beginning in 2012, also said the endowment was created to advance the UA by connecting, engaging and cultivating Wildcats for life.

"The UA has always been family," Engel said.

The Marvin D. "Swede" Johnson Building, on the northwestern corner of Speedway Boulevard and Cherry Avenue, houses the Alumni Association and UA Foundation.

"Nothing would please my parents more than knowing the Alumni Association is making a difference in the lives of students, faculty, staff, and alumni at their beloved University — it is my mom and dad's heart and soul," Engel said.

Editor: dougcarrollByline: UA Alumni AssociationByline Affiliation: UA Alumni AssociationExtra Info: 

To discuss giving opportunities, contact Scott Koenig, director of development for the Alumni Association, at 520-403-5624 or

Header image: YesNo Image: Subheading: Decades ago, Marvin "Swede" Johnson began building the UA's alumni network, one handshake at a time.Include in UANow: 0Include in Olympic Coverage: noFeature on Olympic Page: no

Astronomers Explore Nature of Cosmic Debris

Thu, 11/06/2014 - 11:19

Astronomers using NASA's Hubble Space Telescope have completed the largest and most sensitive visible-light imaging survey of dusty debris disks around other stars. These dusty disks, likely created by collisions between leftover objects from planet formation, were imaged around stars as young as 10 million years old and as mature as more than 1 billion years.

"It's like looking back in time to see the kinds of destructive events that once routinely happened in our solar system after the planets formed," said survey leader Glenn Schneider of the University of Arizona's Department of Astronomy and Steward Observatory. The survey's results appeared in the Oct. 1 issue of the Astronomical Journal.

Once thought to be simply pancakelike structures, the unexpected diversity and complexity of these dusty debris structures strongly suggest they are being gravitationally affected by unseen planets orbiting the star. Alternatively, these effects could result from the stars' passing through interstellar space.

The researchers discovered that no two "disks" of material surrounding stars look the same.

"We find that the systems are not simply flat with uniform surfaces," Schneider said. "These are actually pretty complicated three-dimensional debris systems, often with embedded smaller structures. Some of the substructures could be signposts of unseen planets."

The astronomers used Hubble's Space Telescope Imaging Spectrograph to study 10 previously discovered circumstellar debris systems, plus MP Mus, a mature protoplanetary disk of age comparable to the youngest of the debris disks.

Irregularities observed in one ringlike system in particular, around a star called HD 181327, resemble the ejection of a huge spray of debris into the outer part of the system from the recent collision of two bodies.

"This spray of material is fairly distant from its host star — roughly twice the distance that Pluto is from the sun," said co-investigator Christopher Stark of NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, Maryland. "Catastrophically destroying an object that massive at such a large distance is difficult to explain, and it should be very rare. If we are in fact seeing the recent aftermath of a massive collision, the unseen planetary system may be quite chaotic."

Another interpretation for the irregularities is that the disk has been mysteriously warped by the star's passage through interstellar space, directly interacting with unseen interstellar material.

"Either way, the answer is exciting," Schneider said. "Our team is currently analyzing follow-up observations that will help reveal the true cause of the irregularity."

Over the past few years, astronomers have found an incredible diversity in the architecture of exoplanetary systems — planets are arranged in orbits that are markedly different than found in our solar system.

"We are now seeing a similar diversity in the architecture of accompanying debris systems," Schneider said. "How are the planets affecting the disks, and how are the disks affecting the planets? There is some sort of interdependence between a planet and the accompanying debris that might affect the evolution of these exoplanetary debris systems."

From this small sample, the most important message to take away is one of diversity, Schneider said. He added that astronomers really need to understand the internal and external influences on these systems, such as stellar winds and interactions with clouds of interstellar material, and how they are influenced by the mass and age of the parent star, and the abundance of heavier elements needed to build planets.

Although astronomers have found nearly 4,000 exoplanet candidates since 1995, mostly by indirect detection methods, only about two dozen light-scattering, circumstellar debris systems have been imaged over that same time period. That's because the disks are typically 100,000 times fainter than, and often very close to, their bright parent stars. The majority have been seen because of Hubble's ability to perform high-contrast imaging, in which the overwhelming light from the star is blocked to reveal the faint disk that surrounds the star.

The new imaging survey also yields insight into how our solar system formed and evolved 4.6 billion years ago. In particular, the suspected planet collision seen in the disk around HD 181327 may be similar to how the Earth-moon system formed, as well as the Pluto-Charon system over 4 billion years ago. In those cases, collisions between planet-size bodies cast debris that then coalesced into a companion moon.

The Hubble Space Telescope is a project of international cooperation between NASA and the European Space Agency. NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, Maryland, manages the telescope. The Space Telescope Science Institute (STScI) in Baltimore conducts Hubble science operations. STScI is operated for NASA by the Association of Universities for Research in Astronomy Inc., in Washington, D.C.

Editor: dougcarrollWriter: Daniel StolteByline Affiliation: University Communications and Ray Villard/Space Telescope Science InstituteHeader image: YesNo Image: Subheading: A UA-led survey of planetary systems finds unexpected diversity and complexity in the Milky Way, likely the result of destructive events.Include in UANow: yesInclude in Olympic Coverage: noFeature on Olympic Page: noUANow Image: 

Kassers Donate $1M to UA, Add to History of Charitable Giving

Thu, 11/06/2014 - 10:49

Longtime University of Arizona supporters I. Michael and Beth Kasser have committed $1 million to Arizona Athletics through Arizona NOW, the University's $1.5 billion comprehensive fundraising campaign, as a naming gift for the sports medicine center in the Lowell-Stevens Football Facility.

Previously, the Kassers donated naming gifts for the Kasser Sports Medicine Center in McKale Center and the Kasser Family Pool, home of the nationally prominent Arizona men's and women's swimming and diving programs.

"The support of longtime partners like the Kassers is absolutely critical for the success of the Arizona NOW campaign and for the future of the University," UA President Ann Weaver Hart said.

"The generosity of Mike and his family has resulted in state-of-the-art facilities that enable our world-class student-athletes to perform even better and achieve even more," Hart said. "This new gift will play a major role in making the Lowell-Stevens Football Facility one of the nation’s best sites for our student-athletes."

Mike Kasser and his family have a lifelong connection with sports and fitness. Kasser's father, Alex, played soccer and ran track in high school in Hungary, later playing soccer for the professional Puegeot team in France during his college years.

"His favorite Latin quote was 'mens sana in corpore sano,' a healthy mind in a healthy body," Kasser said.

Also, Kasser and his wife met at the Yonkers Marathon in New York.

"We were marathoners and Ironman triathletes in the 1980s and 1990s, and through personal experience, we appreciate how a well-equipped sports medicine center enhances the health of an athlete," Michael said.

"That is why we wanted to be involved in the sports medicine facility in McKale and the pool. With LSFF opening, there was another opportunity to support Arizona Athletics and the University of Arizona through the new sports medicine facility," he said, adding that he has been "extremely pleased" with the leadership of Hart; Greg Byrne, the UA's director of athletics; and others.

"I believe that the Arizona NOW campaign is going to help transform the University, so I'm proud to be involved," Kasser said.

The sports medicine center in LSFF is used primarily by the football program to help further the health and well-being of those student-athletes, allowing the Kasser Sports Medicine Center in McKale to devote resources to other programs.

Complete with state-of-the-art amenities, LSFF's sports medicine center consists of four private treatment and exam rooms, an X-ray machine, two HydroWorx underwater treadmills, a walk-in cold tub, a multiperson sit-in warm whirlpool, and equipment specific for modalities and rehabilitation.

"Mike and his family have been so generous to the athletics department and we can’t thank them enough for their support," Byrne said. "From the sports medicine facilities to the pool, the Kassers have been instrumental in the success of Arizona Athletics and have helped us remain competitive from a facilities standpoint with our counterparts in the Pac-12 and across the country."

The Kassers also have been devoted supporters of the 1885 Society, a leadership group that provides unrestricted support to the University through the President's Fund for Excellence, as well as supporters of Arizona's College of Science.

Improvements to campus facilities is an integral part of Arizona NOW, which was launched in April 2014. With support from donors such as the Kassers, the campaign already has surpassed the $1 billion mark in the first year of its public launch.

"Mike and Beth are philanthropists who give in many ways," said James H. Moore Jr., president and CEO of the UA Foundation.

"This most recent gift is another example of their kind and altruistic nature," Moore said. "They give because they care and they believe it is important to help others. During his service on the UA Foundation Board of Trustees, Mike was also one of our thought leaders. We can’t thank the Kassers enough for their generous hearts and their passion for the UA.”

Kasser is the CEO and president of Holualoa Companies, a real-estate investment company with interests in residential and commercial real estate in the Northeast, Southwest, Hawaii and Europe. He started Holualoa in 1985 when he moved with his wife to Hawaii, where they competed in several Ironman Triathlons. As Holualoa grew, the Kassers left Hawaii in 1994 for Tucson. Holualoa is the title sponsor of the Tucson Marathon and its various events in early December.

Mike Kasser has been heavily involved in community activities during his career. He served as chairman of the Salary Commission for the County of Hawaii for three years. He has been a trustee or board member of the UA Foundation, the UA College of Science, the C-Path Institute, the Downtown Tucson Partnership, the Arizona Theatre Company, the Tucson Museum of Art, the American Hungarian Foundation, the Kona Hawaii Family YMCA, the Aloha Performing Arts Center and the Kasser Art Foundation. He also has served as an educational counselor for the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and as a member of its Corporation Development Committee. He is currently a member of the MIT Music and Theatre Arts Visiting Committee.

A graduate of MIT with bachelor's and master's degrees in chemical engineering, Kasser earned his doctorate of chemical engineering from the University of Grenoble in France, and a master's of business administration from Harvard Business School. The Kassers have two children, Violet and Mikey.

Editor: dougcarrollByline: Arizona AthleticsByline Affiliation: Arizona AthleticsExtra Info: 

Arizona Athletics receives no state appropriations or student fees, but does receive 315 tuition waivers annually, authorized by the Arizona Board of Regents. Tuition waivers are also granted to Arizona State University and Northern Arizona University.


The athletics department is responsible for the cost of room, board and books to supplement the tuition waivers and is responsible for generating revenues to cover the department’s annual operating costs and budgetary obligations.


Additionally, all funds required for new facilities and renovations are provided through the continued support and generosity of athletics department ticket buyers and donors.

Header image: YesNo Image: Subheading: I. Michael and Beth Kasser have committed a $1 million naming gift to Arizona Athletics and the sports medicine center in the Lowell-Stevens Football Facility.Include in UANow: yesInclude in Olympic Coverage: noFeature on Olympic Page: noUANow Image: 

Medicine Alumna of the Year Adele Marie O'Sullivan

Wed, 11/05/2014 - 18:00

Leading up to the UA's 100th Homecoming, we are highlighting UA alumni who are being honored by their colleges with alumni of the year awards.

Her religious community, the Sisters of St. Joseph, led Adele Marie O'Sullivan to the UA to study toward becoming a "sister doctor" with a career focused on caring for the poor and homeless.

In 1996, O'Sullivan found that there was no place for respite care for the homeless once they were released from a hospital. She had just become medical director of Maricopa County’s Health Care for the Homeless clinic in downtown Phoenix.

O'Sullivan began to rally support from St. Joseph's Hospital and Medical Center and Hospice of the Valley. She also petitioned support from the Arizona Diamondbacks and Arizona Cardinals. She reached out to numerous other faith, philanthropic and business organizations, eventually opening Circle the City, a 50-bed medical respite center. The center opened in 2012, and O'Sullivan now serves as medical director and president for the nonprofit, which also provides job counseling and other support. Today, 70 percent of its patients leave for permanent housing and employment.

O’Sullivan will receive the UA College of Medicine's Alumna of the Year award.

Categories: HealthThis is a Wildcat Corner feature: Images: Tags: AlumniByline: University Relations - Communications and the Alumni Association |Editor: dougcarrollInclude in UANow: 0Date of Publication: Wednesday, November 5, 2014Medium Summary: Adele Marie O'Sullivan will receive the UA College of Medicine's Alumna of the Year award.Feature on Front: NoShort Summary: UA alumna Adele Marie O'Sullivan has worked to ensure that the homeless receive adequate care. Send to Never Settle Site: 0

UA Scientists to Feature Prominently at Gathering

Wed, 11/05/2014 - 16:59

Science from the inner solar system to Pluto and beyond to planets circling other stars will be showcased in three news conferences and a seminar for science writers at the 46th meeting of the Division for Planetary Sciences of the American Astronomical Society, Nov. 9-14 at the JW Marriott Starr Pass in Tucson.

More than 800 astronomers and planetary scientists are expected to convene to hear some 600 prize and invited talks, short oral talks and poster presentations on new developments in planetary science from both ground- and space-based studies.

Fewer than three percent of all submitted abstracts were selected for the conference news briefings, with University of Arizona scientists to be featured prominently. They will present the latest results on exoplanet systems, Uranus and Bennu, the target asteroid of the UA-led OSIRIS-REx sample return mission.

These UA scientists will present at news briefings held at the times listed below. (All findings are embargoed until the time of presentation.) 

  • Kate Su, associate astronomer in the UA's Department of Astronomy and Steward Observatory, will report on the discovery of two dust belts, analogous to the asteroid and Kuiper belts in the solar system, surrounded by a large dust halo around a young star called HD 95086. News briefing: noon Monday, Nov. 10.
  • Sarah Morrison, a Ph.D. student in the UA's Lunar and Planetary Laboratory, will present results of computer models to constrain the possibilities of how many planets are likely to inhabit the HD 95086 system. News briefing: noon Monday, Nov. 10.
  • Dante Lauretta, principal investigator of OSIRIS-REx and UA professor of planetary sciences, will unveil a video animation chronicling the history and evolution of Bennu, the target asteroid of the OSIRIS-REx mission, and present a review paper summarizing what scientists have learned about Bennu during 12 years of astronomical observations. News briefing: noon Wednesday, Nov. 12.
  • Erich Karkoschka of the LPL has revisited images of Uranus taken by NASA's Voyager-2 space probe 28 years ago and will present his discovery of previously unseen features in the atmosphere of Uranus. News briefing: noon Wednesday, Nov. 12.

In addition to the presenters selected for news briefings, many more UA scientists, mainly from the Department of Astronomy and the LPL, will discuss their latest research findings with their peers in the scientific community. For a full program, visit the conference website or download a PDF of the program here.  

Public lecture: Astronomical blunders and cosmic bloopers

Brother Guy Consolmagno, SJ of the Vatican Observatory, which is affiliated with the UA's Steward Observatory, will give a free public lecture at the UA's Centennial Hall at 7 p.m. Thursday, Nov. 13. His presentation, "Discarded Worlds: Astronomical Ideas That Were Almost Correct," will explore what lessons can be learned from scientists throughout history whose ideas about our own world and others turned out to be wrong — sometimes hilariously, sometimes heartbreakingly. 

A graduate of the LPL, Consolmagno is the 2014 recipient of the DPS Carl Sagan Medal for his decades-long track record of communicating planetary science to the public while maintaining an active science career. He occupies a unique position within the profession as a credible spokesperson for scientific honesty within the context of religious belief. He has authored or edited six books, with "Turn Left at Orion" (with Dan Davis) in its fourth edition of publication. That book alone has had an enormous impact on the amateur astronomy community, engendering public support for astronomy.

In addition to writing books, he is a dynamic popular speaker, giving 40 to 50 public lectures every year across both Europe and the United States, reaching thousands of people. He regularly gives interviews on BBC radio shows on planetary science topics and has hosted his own BBC radio show. As a Jesuit Brother, Consolmagno has become the voice of the juxtaposition of planetary science and astronomy with Christian belief, a spokesperson who can convey  how religion and science can coexist, as exemplified in his most recent book, "Would You Baptize an Extraterrestrial?"

"The DPS meeting is one of the biggest meetings of the year for our organization, and it's appropriate for it to be in Tucson, since we are a world center for planetary sciences, between LPL, Steward and the Planetary Science Institute," LPL director Tim Swindle said. "In fact, two of the officers, and nearly half the members of the governing committee of the DPS, are graduates of LPL."

Meetings of the American Astronomical Society are not public events. All attendees must register at the applicable rate; registration types are structured to cover all situations. The only exceptions involve sessions or other activities 
specifically noted as being open to the public, such as public talks or star parties held in collaboration with local amateur astronomers.

More information about the 46th DPS meeting is available at the conference website, where a PDF of the full program is available. 

Editor: dougcarrollWriter: Daniel StolteByline Affiliation: University Relations - CommunicationsHeader image: YesNo Image: Subheading: UA astronomers will present some of their discoveries at the world's largest convention of planetary scientists. A lecture at the UA's Centennial Hall is open to the public.Include in UANow: 0Include in Olympic Coverage: noFeature on Olympic Page: no