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Unexpected Wood Source for Chaco Canyon Great Houses

Mon, 12/07/2015 - 11:07am
Extra Info: 

Related websites:

Christopher Guiterman

https://sites.google.com/site/chguiterman/

 

UA Laboratory of Tree-Ring Research

http://ltrr.arizona.edu/

Story Contacts: 

Researcher contacts:

Christopher Guiterman

UA Laboratory of Tree-Ring Research

520-230-2341

chguiterman@email.arizona.edu

 

Jeffrey Dean

UA Laboratory of Tree-Ring Research

520-621-2320

jdean@ltrr.arizona.edu

 

Thomas Swetnam

UA Laboratory of Tree-Ring Research

575-829-4649

tswetnam@ltrr.arizona.edu

 

Media contact:

Mari N. Jensen

UA College of Science

520-626-9635

mnjensen@email.arizona.edu

Research from the UA Laboratory of Tree-Ring Research shows a switch in wood source corresponds with the flourishing of Chacoan culture.

The wood in the monumental "great houses" built in Chaco Canyon by ancient Puebloans came from two different mountain ranges, according to new research from the University of Arizona Laboratory of Tree-Ring Research.

The UA scientists are the first to report that before 1020, most of the wood came from the Zuni Mountains about 50 miles to the south. The species of tree used in the buildings did not grow nearby, so the trees must have been transported from distant mountain ranges.

About 240,000 trees were used to build massive structures, some five stories high and with hundreds of rooms, in New Mexico’s arid, rocky Chaco Canyon during the time period 850 to 1140. The buildings include some of the largest pre-Columbian buildings in North America.

"The casual observer will see hundreds and hundreds and hundreds of beams sticking out of the walls. There’s wood all over the place in these structures," said lead author Christopher Guiterman. "They’re built out of stone and wood."

To figure out where the trees for the beams had grown, Guiterman used a method known as dendroprovenance that had not been used in the American Southwest before.

By 1060, the Chacoans had switched to harvesting trees from the Chuska Mountains about 50 miles to the west.

The switch in wood sources coincides with several important developments in Chacoan culture, said Guiterman, a doctoral candidate in UA’s School of Natural Resources and the Environment.

"There’s a change in the masonry style — the architectural signature of the construction. There’s a massive increase in the amount of construction — about half of 'downtown Chaco' houses were built at the time the wood started coming from the Chuska Mountains," he said.

By reviewing archaeological records, the team found other materials coming to Chaco from the Chuskas at the same time.

"There’s pottery and there’s chipped-stone tools — things like projectile points and carving devices," he said.

The new research corroborates previous research from the UA that used the chemistry of Chaco Canyon beams to figure out that Chuska Mountain trees were a wood source.

Guiterman, UA Regents’ Professor Emeritus Thomas Swetnam and UA Professor Emeritus Jeffrey Dean will publish their paper, "Eleventh-Century Shift in Timber Procurement Areas for the Great Houses of Chaco Canyon," in an upcoming issue of the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

The Western National Parks Association and the National Park Service funded the research.

To learn how ancient people interacted with Southwestern forests, Guiterman and Swetnam decided to study the wood used in Chaco Canyon buildings.

Guiterman wondered if the annual growth rings of trees could reveal the origin of beams. Doing such a study also would test the results from the chemical method of determining the wood's source.

He decided to try the dendroprovenance technique, which has been used in Europe to figure out the source of wood in artifacts.

Guiterman had the necessary materials at hand: Laboratory of Tree-Ring Research founder A.E. Douglass and his student Emil Haury collected wood from ancient Puebloan structures and nearby mountain ranges throughout the Southwest starting in the 1920s and used the material to date the great ruins of the Southwest. 

Douglass’ and Haury’s dated samples are archived in the laboratory’s basement, along with wood collected all over the Southwest ever since by legions of archaeologists, including dendroarchaeologist Dean.

The laboratory’s archives contain cardboard box after cardboard box after cardboard box — all carefully labeled — of wood samples. Guiterman said there are more than 6,000 wood specimens from Chaco Canyon great houses alone.

"We pulled stuff out of the archive that hasn’t been looked at in 30 or 40 years," he said. "It was pretty cool to open those boxes."

The annual growth rings in trees reflect regional climate: Rings are wider in good growing years and thinner in bad ones. The patterns of thick-and-thin rings in trees that grow in the mountain ranges that surround Chaco Canyon are similar because the climate is the same.

However, each mountain range has slightly different conditions. Therefore, growth patterns of trees from one mountain range are not identical to those of trees in nearby ranges.

To pinpoint the origin of a tree that became a building beam, the dendroprovenance method requires finding a strong match between the tree-ring patterns in a beam and the average tree-ring patterns from trees of the same age known to be from a particular mountain range.

It sounds easy, but the work is painstaking. Guiterman had to compare the patterns on 170 individual beams with archived tree-ring patterns from seven different nearby mountain ranges.

The task took him four years.

Swetnam said, "We think this is a powerful new method to use in the Southwest. We tested the method using modern trees and could determine their source of origin with 90 percent accuracy."

More than 70 percent of the 170 timbers were from the Zuni or Chuska mountain ranges. Guiterman said the 11th-century switch to the Chuskas coincided with an expansion of the Chacoan culture and indicates the cultural importance of that mountain range. 

"We’re learning more and more about what these people did so long ago and how they utilized and interacted with their environment," he said.

One possible next step, Guiterman said, is looking for the source of beams in other ancient Puebloan structures in the region. 

Category(s): Science and TechnologyMari N. JensenDecember 7, 2015UA College of Science

'Happy Meal Effect' Helps Adults Forgo Big Portions

Wed, 12/02/2015 - 12:59pm
Story Contacts: 

Martin Reimann

UA Eller College of Management

520-621-7479

reimann@email.arizona.edu

The UA's Martin Reimann and colleagues discovered that adults often will abstain from larger portions when given the choice of a smaller portion paired with a modest non-food bonus.

It's no shocker that McDonald's wins in global fast food sales, but you might be surprised to learn that it is also the world's largest toy distributor, supplying more than 1.5 billion playthings annually via the iconic Happy Meal.

Fat- and salt-laden calories aside, Happy Meals enchant children. As a result, one in 10 dollars spent at McDonald's goes to smaller-portion meals.

Could the same principle be leveled at America's obesity crisis? In other words, would people opt to eat less if food were paired with some non-ingestible bonus? Martin Reimann of the University of Arizona's Eller College of Management recently showed that they would.

In a series of seven experiments, Reimann and co-investigators Antoine Bechara and Deborah MacInnis of the University of Southern California demonstrated repeatedly that kids and adults often will pass on larger portions when given the choice of a smaller portion paired with a very modest non-food bonus. In fact, just the possibility of getting a "prize" incentivized people to forgo larger portions.

In one experiment, 78 percent of sixth-graders passed up a full sandwich when given the option to take a half-sandwich plus a pair of dollar-store earbuds. In another, university staff and students were significantly more likely to choose half-portion lunches when they were paired with the mere chance of winning a $100 gift card or 10,000 frequent-flier miles.

Altogether, converging results showed not only that non-food incentives reliably encourage people to choose smaller portions but also that:

  • For rewards not guaranteed, knowing the odds of winning can be less motivating than simply knowing winning is a possibility, even when the odds are relatively good.
  • The same reward can remain motivating time and again, and it was for three days running in one experiment that used the chance to win a gift card or frequent-flier miles.
  • Participants choosing smaller portions don't "make up" those forgone calories by eating more later or the next day.
  • Smaller portions paired with bonuses or potential prizes activate the same reward, desire and motivation areas of the brain that "light up" for full-size portions, revealed by fMRI testing.

The experiments also yielded some notable anomalies. For example, schoolchildren asked to choose between pictures of a full-size portion or a half-portion plus a toy chose the latter significantly more often, except when the foods in question were chicken nuggets or cookies. In those cases, choices were almost evenly split, perhaps because both foods have high sugar content when factoring in the sweet dipping sauces that usually accompany nuggets.

In another experiment, while hunger level, age and body mass index had no significant effect on who chose full- versus half-plus-prize portions, gender did have a significant effect, with women more likely to choose full-size portions. Yet another experiment showed that while the possibility of winning money was always motivating, $10 and $50 sweepstakes prizes had exponentially greater impact, but a $100 prize was no more motivating than $50.

Overall, however, the takeaways are clear: Non-food rewards — guaranteed and uncertain, in both hypothetical and real situations — make people significantly more likely to choose less food.

For Reimann, an assistant professor of marketing at Eller and founding editor of the Journal of Neuroscience, Psychology and Economics, that fact swings open a compelling door of possibilities for personal and social change.

"Overconsumption makes people unhealthy and unhappy," he said. "Yet trying to regulate consumption by law threatens people's sense of freedom to choose. If non-food rewards, even small and uncertain ones, can be just as engaging at a neurochemical level, then restaurants can potentially motivate healthier choices without jeopardizing sales, and consumers have more paths to avoid overeating.

"In general, these studies open up a whole new matrix of ways we might begin to change unhealthy food cultures and behaviors."

Results of the seven experiments on non-food incentives appear in two articles by Reimann in collaboration with USC's Bechara, a professor of psychology, and MacInnis, vice dean for research and strategy and professor of marketing.

"Leveraging the Happy Meal Effect: Substituting Food With Modest Nonfood Incentives Decreases Portion Size Choice" appeared in the Journal of Experimental Psychology: Applied, Vol. 21 No. 3. "Can Smaller Meals Make You Happy? Behavioral, Neurophysiological and Psychological Insights Into Motivating Smaller Portion Choice" will be published in a forthcoming issue of the Journal of the Association for Consumer Research.

Category(s): Business and LawSocial Sciences and EducationDecember 2, 2015UA Eller College of Management

'Happy Meal Effect' Helps Adults Forgo Big Portions

Wed, 12/02/2015 - 12:59pm
Story Contacts: 

Martin Reimann

UA Eller College of Management

520-621-7479

reimann@email.arizona.edu

The UA's Martin Reimann and colleagues discovered that adults often will abstain from larger portions when given the choice of a smaller portion paired with a modest non-food bonus.

It's no shocker that McDonald's wins in global fast food sales, but you might be surprised to learn that it is also the world's largest toy distributor, supplying more than 1.5 billion playthings annually via the iconic Happy Meal.

Fat- and salt-laden calories aside, Happy Meals enchant children. As a result, one in 10 dollars spent at McDonald's goes to smaller-portion meals.

Could the same principle be leveled at America's obesity crisis? In other words, would people opt to eat less if food were paired with some non-ingestible bonus? Martin Reimann of the University of Arizona's Eller College of Management recently showed that they would.

In a series of seven experiments, Reimann and co-investigators Antoine Bechara and Deborah MacInnis of the University of Southern California demonstrated repeatedly that kids and adults often will pass on larger portions when given the choice of a smaller portion paired with a very modest non-food bonus. In fact, just the possibility of getting a "prize" incentivized people to forgo larger portions.

In one experiment, 78 percent of sixth-graders passed up a full sandwich when given the option to take a half-sandwich plus a pair of dollar-store earbuds. In another, university staff and students were significantly more likely to choose half-portion lunches when they were paired with the mere chance of winning a $100 gift card or 10,000 frequent-flier miles.

Altogether, converging results showed not only that non-food incentives reliably encourage people to choose smaller portions but also that:

  • For rewards not guaranteed, knowing the odds of winning can be less motivating than simply knowing winning is a possibility, even when the odds are relatively good.
  • The same reward can remain motivating time and again, and it was for three days running in one experiment that used the chance to win a gift card or frequent-flier miles.
  • Participants choosing smaller portions don't "make up" those forgone calories by eating more later or the next day.
  • Smaller portions paired with bonuses or potential prizes activate the same reward, desire and motivation areas of the brain that "light up" for full-size portions, revealed by fMRI testing.

The experiments also yielded some notable anomalies. For example, schoolchildren asked to choose between pictures of a full-size portion or a half-portion plus a toy chose the latter significantly more often, except when the foods in question were chicken nuggets or cookies. In those cases, choices were almost evenly split, perhaps because both foods have high sugar content when factoring in the sweet dipping sauces that usually accompany nuggets.

In another experiment, while hunger level, age and body mass index had no significant effect on who chose full- versus half-plus-prize portions, gender did have a significant effect, with women more likely to choose full-size portions. Yet another experiment showed that while the possibility of winning money was always motivating, $10 and $50 sweepstakes prizes had exponentially greater impact, but a $100 prize was no more motivating than $50.

Overall, however, the takeaways are clear: Non-food rewards — guaranteed and uncertain, in both hypothetical and real situations — make people significantly more likely to choose less food.

For Reimann, an assistant professor of marketing at Eller and founding editor of the Journal of Neuroscience, Psychology and Economics, that fact swings open a compelling door of possibilities for personal and social change.

"Overconsumption makes people unhealthy and unhappy," he said. "Yet trying to regulate consumption by law threatens people's sense of freedom to choose. If non-food rewards, even small and uncertain ones, can be just as engaging at a neurochemical level, then restaurants can potentially motivate healthier choices without jeopardizing sales, and consumers have more paths to avoid overeating.

"In general, these studies open up a whole new matrix of ways we might begin to change unhealthy food cultures and behaviors."

Results of the seven experiments on non-food incentives appear in two articles by Reimann in collaboration with USC's Bechara, a professor of psychology, and MacInnis, vice dean for research and strategy and professor of marketing.

"Leveraging the Happy Meal Effect: Substituting Food With Modest Nonfood Incentives Decreases Portion Size Choice" appeared in the Journal of Experimental Psychology: Applied, Vol. 21 No. 3. "Can Smaller Meals Make You Happy? Behavioral, Neurophysiological and Psychological Insights Into Motivating Smaller Portion Choice" will be published in a forthcoming issue of the Journal of the Association for Consumer Research.

Category(s): Social Sciences and EducationDecember 2, 2015UA Eller College of Management

'Fires of Change' Exhibit Brings Illumination

Wed, 12/02/2015 - 9:52am
Extra Info: 

Learn more about fire art with "Untamed Art: The Story of the World’s Most Famous Fire Painting," presented by Stephen Pyne. The presentation will be at 5 p.m. Thursday, Dec. 3, and is included with UAMA admission.

Eleven artists explore fire-science research in a much-anticipated showing at the UA Museum of Art that will run through April.

Fire is a powerful symbol in art, able to convey destruction and power but also passion and the potential for change.

The "Fires of Change" exhibit, now at the University of Arizona Museum of Art, brings this symbolism to life. From large installations made from trees to charcoal drawings made from ash collected at various fire sites, the impact of wildfires on forests feels almost tangible in the exhibit space.

The exhibit's 11 artists worked with the Southwest Fire Science Consortium to learn about wildfire management before creating their pieces.

"This project had a very factual basis," said David Chorlton, a Phoenix poet involved in the exhibit. "It led me to re-understand fire and even nature."

"The exhibition should inspire audiences to think critically about the increase in severity, size and number of wildfires in the Southwest," says James Burns, director of UAMA.

Artists have chosen different mediums to express their visions. In addition to Chorlton, the participating artists are Kathleen Brennan of Taos, New Mexico; Julie Comnick of Prescott; Bryan David Griffith of Flagstaff; Craig Goodworth of Newberg, Oregon; Jennifer Gunlock of Los Angeles; Saskia Jorda of Scottsdale; Helen Padilla of Flagstaff; Bonnie Peterson of Michigan; Katharina Roth of Sedona; and Steven Yazzie of Phoenix.

The artists spent a week in 2014 in fire science boot camp with the Southwest Fire Science Consortium and the Landscape Conservation Initiative, learning about the impact of wildfire in northern Arizona. They then spent the year creating original works based on their experiences. The Flagstaff Council for the Arts partnered with the consortium and the initiative to produce the exhibit. 

Why choose art as the medium to educate the public about fire?

John Tannous, executive director of the Flagstaff Council for the Arts, believes the destructive properties of fire are closely tied to our cultural perceptions.

"With Smokey Bear telling people that fires need to be stamped out, for example, we've built up a negative culture of fire," Tannous says.

The exhibit is an attempt to change that view in light of research done over the past 20 years, which suggests the opposite — that fire is "as essential to the forest as breathing," says Donald Falk, associate professor in the UA School of Natural Resources and the Environment. 

The negatives go beyond simply giving fire a bad name. Tannous says they have led to fire-suppression policies that seriously damage forest landscapes.

"Low-severity fires reduce the fuels in the forest and kill the small seedlings and weaker trees, keeping the forest open for healthier growth," Falk explains.

Without these low-severity fires, Falk says, when fires do break out they burn much stronger, damaging the forest and threatening the nearby human population. This can be seen near Flagstaff, where the exhibit originally showed, as well as in Tucson, particularly in the Sky Island forests.

Much fire research has come out of the UA, through the work of Falk and the world-renowned Laboratory of Tree-Ring Research.

Burns recognized this when he agreed to showcase the exhibit, which will run at UAMA through April 3.

"It is a good fit for the University of Arizona, given the ground-breaking climate and fire-science research done here," he says.

Category(s): Arts and HumanitiesRebecca PeifferDecember 2, 2015NASA Space Grant Intern, University Relations - Communications

'Fires of Change' Exhibit Brings Illumination

Wed, 12/02/2015 - 9:52am
Extra Info: 

Learn more about fire art with "Untamed Art: The Story of the World’s Most Famous Fire Painting," presented by Stephen Pyne. The presentation will be at 5 p.m. Thursday, Dec. 3, and is included with UAMA admission.

Eleven artists explore fire-science research in a much-anticipated showing at the UA Museum of Art that will run through April.

Fire is a powerful symbol in art, able to convey destruction and power but also passion and the potential for change.

The "Fires of Change" exhibit, now at the University of Arizona Museum of Art, brings this symbolism to life. From large installations made from trees to charcoal drawings made from ash collected at various fire sites, the impact of wildfires on forests feels almost tangible in the exhibit space.

The exhibit's 11 artists worked with the Southwest Fire Science Consortium to learn about wildfire management before creating their pieces.

"This project had a very factual basis," said David Chorlton, a Phoenix poet involved in the exhibit. "It led me to re-understand fire and even nature."

"The exhibition should inspire audiences to think critically about the increase in severity, size and number of wildfires in the Southwest," says James Burns, director of UAMA.

Artists have chosen different mediums to express their visions. In addition to Chorlton, the participating artists are Kathleen Brennan of Taos, New Mexico; Julie Comnick of Prescott; Bryan David Griffith of Flagstaff; Craig Goodworth of Newberg, Oregon; Jennifer Gunlock of Los Angeles; Saskia Jorda of Scottsdale; Helen Padilla of Flagstaff; Bonnie Peterson of Michigan; Katharina Roth of Sedona; and Steven Yazzie of Phoenix.

The artists spent a week in 2014 in fire science boot camp with the Southwest Fire Science Consortium and the Landscape Conservation Initiative, learning about the impact of wildfire in northern Arizona. They then spent the year creating original works based on their experiences. The Flagstaff Council for the Arts partnered with the consortium and the initiative to produce the exhibit. 

Why choose art as the medium to educate the public about fire?

John Tannous, executive director of the Flagstaff Council for the Arts, believes the destructive properties of fire are closely tied to our cultural perceptions.

"With Smokey Bear telling people that fires need to be stamped out, for example, we've built up a negative culture of fire," Tannous says.

The exhibit is an attempt to change that view in light of research done over the past 20 years, which suggests the opposite — that fire is "as essential to the forest as breathing," says Donald Falk, associate professor in the UA School of Natural Resources and the Environment. 

The negatives go beyond simply giving fire a bad name. Tannous says they have led to fire-suppression policies that seriously damage forest landscapes.

"Low-severity fires reduce the fuels in the forest and kill the small seedlings and weaker trees, keeping the forest open for healthier growth," Falk explains.

Without these low-severity fires, Falk says, when fires do break out they burn much stronger, damaging the forest and threatening the nearby human population. This can be seen near Flagstaff, where the exhibit originally showed, as well as in Tucson, particularly in the Sky Island forests.

Much fire research has come out of the UA, through the work of Falk and the world-renowned Laboratory of Tree-Ring Research.

Burns recognized this when he agreed to showcase the exhibit, which will run at UAMA through April 3.

"It is a good fit for the University of Arizona, given the ground-breaking climate and fire-science research done here," he says.

Category(s): Arts and HumanitiesRebecca PeifferDecember 2, 2015NASA Space Grant Intern, University Relations - Communications

Embracing Health on the Pascua Yaqui Reservation

Tue, 12/01/2015 - 10:54am
Story Contacts: 

Faith Schwartz

UA College of Agriculture and Life Sciences

520-621-7205

faithpschwartz@email.arizona.edu

The UA's Garden Kitchen is a "seed to table" program that teaches community members how to grow, buy, properly store and cook nutritious, low-cost food.

The sterile commercial kitchen at the Pascua Yaqui Health Center comes alive with the sound of clanking spoons in stainless bowls, and young people’s laughter, one Wednesday evening a month.

It's part of a monthly healthful cooking class put on by the University of Arizona Cooperative Extension's "Garden Kitchen" on the Pascua Yaqui Reservation. The classes are free and open to any Pascua Yaqui tribal member.

Instructional specialist Erika Alvarez packs up her ingredients and heads out to the reservation, teaching the class at 5:30 p.m.

"I think that it's extremely important for people to have the tools to control what goes into their bodies, especially in Native American communities, where diabetes is such a huge health risk," Alvarez says.

"For the reservation, here, this program is part of the diabetes prevention program," says Holly Bryant, a registered dietitian with the Pascua Yaqui Tribe and director of the Wellness Center.

The Wellness Center, where the class is held, also is home to a gym. It hosts fitness programs such as walking classes, so it is part of a bigger picture of disease prevention on the reservation.

According to the American Diabetes Association, American Indians and Alaska Natives are more than twice as likely to have diabetes compared with non-Hispanic whites. And, at nearly 16 percent, they have the highest age-adjusted prevalence of diabetes among all racial and ethnic groups in the U.S.

"So this is all in the name of diabetes prevention I share the philosophy of the Garden Kitchen: If individuals are more comfortable cooking with whole grains, vegetables and fruit, and if they're more comfortable in the kitchen, then they're more likely to incorporate those things into their daily life and their family's life," Bryant says.

One mother, Margarita Andrade, takes her daughters — Yasmine, 9, and Micaela, 6 — to almost every class.

"They have been coming since the beginning," Andrade says. "They haven't really missed a class. They like to try different foods. I'm trying to introduce them to a variety of foods, not just our traditional foods."

The girls also take a traditional foods class, and their mother likes what they're learning through the Garden Kitchen.

"Healthy alternatives are really good," Andrade says.

The Garden Kitchen team uses demonstrations, cooking lessons and gardening education at its building, located in South Tucson.

"I like teaching because it's very satisfying to share what I know and see how it makes a difference in somebody else's life," Alvarez says.

Category(s): Campus NewsSocial Sciences and EducationFaith SchwartzDecember 4, 2015UA College of Agriculture and Life Sciences

Embracing Health on the Pascua Yaqui Reservation

Tue, 12/01/2015 - 10:54am
Story Contacts: 

Faith Schwartz

UA College of Agriculture and Life Sciences

520-621-7205

faithpschwartz@email.arizona.edu

The UA's Garden Kitchen is a "seed to table" program that teaches community members how to grow, buy, properly store and cook nutritious, low-cost food.

The sterile commercial kitchen at the Pascua Yaqui Health Center comes alive with the sound of clanking spoons in stainless bowls, and young people’s laughter, one Wednesday evening a month.

It's part of a monthly healthful cooking class put on by the University of Arizona Cooperative Extension's "Garden Kitchen" on the Pascua Yaqui Reservation. The classes are free and open to any Pascua Yaqui tribal member.

Instructional specialist Erika Alvarez packs up her ingredients and heads out to the reservation, teaching the class at 5:30 p.m.

"I think that it's extremely important for people to have the tools to control what goes into their bodies, especially in Native American communities, where diabetes is such a huge health risk," Alvarez says.

"For the reservation, here, this program is part of the diabetes prevention program," says Holly Bryant, a registered dietitian with the Pascua Yaqui Tribe and director of the Wellness Center.

The Wellness Center, where the class is held, also is home to a gym. It hosts fitness programs such as walking classes, so it is part of a bigger picture of disease prevention on the reservation.

According to the American Diabetes Association, American Indians and Alaska Natives are more than twice as likely to have diabetes compared with non-Hispanic whites. And, at nearly 16 percent, they have the highest age-adjusted prevalence of diabetes among all racial and ethnic groups in the U.S.

"So this is all in the name of diabetes prevention I share the philosophy of the Garden Kitchen: If individuals are more comfortable cooking with whole grains, vegetables and fruit, and if they're more comfortable in the kitchen, then they're more likely to incorporate those things into their daily life and their family's life," Bryant says.

One mother, Margarita Andrade, takes her daughters — Yasmine, 9, and Micaela, 6 — to almost every class.

"They have been coming since the beginning," Andrade says. "They haven't really missed a class. They like to try different foods. I'm trying to introduce them to a variety of foods, not just our traditional foods."

The girls also take a traditional foods class, and their mother likes what they're learning through the Garden Kitchen.

"Healthy alternatives are really good," Andrade says.

The Garden Kitchen team uses demonstrations, cooking lessons and gardening education at its building, located in South Tucson.

"I like teaching because it's very satisfying to share what I know and see how it makes a difference in somebody else's life," Alvarez says.

Category(s): Campus NewsSocial Sciences and EducationFaith SchwartzDecember 4, 2015UA College of Agriculture and Life Sciences

UA to Emphasize Tribal Health and Economic Development

Mon, 11/30/2015 - 2:06pm
Story Contacts: 

Keith James

UA Department of American Indian Studies

520-621-7108

keithjames@email.arizona.edu

The Department of American Indian Studies is on the cusp of expansion, with Keith James having recently joined to take the lead.

Keith James, who began his stint as the new head of the University of Arizona Department of American Indian Studies this fall, is leading the effort to expand curricular and program offerings to better prepare students to meet the needs of tribal communities.

With a focus on tribal health and indigenous entrepreneurship, James is aiming to build on existing strengths at the UA that complement workforce development priorities of native nations. 

The UA's AIS department, which joined the College of Social and Behavioral Sciences in 2014, is on the cusp of expansion. This past summer, the department added a bachelor's degree in American Indian studies, making the UA the first and only university in Arizona to offer bachelor's, master's and doctoral degrees in the discipline. The UA also is the only university in the Southwest to offer the three degrees and a joint M.A./J.D. degree.

Now James is working to ramp up the bachelor's degree program by adding new classes and revising graduate courses so that undergraduates also can enroll.

"I want to see the strengths of the graduate program duplicated at the undergraduate level and new strengths at the undergraduate level that filter up to the graduate program," said James, who has a goal of visiting all 22 Arizona tribal nations before the end of the academic year.

James also envisions adding several new concentrations. For instance, in response to feedback from tribal communities, one of his priorities is to create a Bachelor of Science program with concentrations in tribal health and indigenous entrepreneurship. 

The tribal health concentration will help provide a workforce prepared to tackle health issues, such as diabetes, that affect indigenous populations.

"Tribes may have a hard time seeing how a very general B.A. will address their priorities, so I’m emphasizing concentrations that will provide skills that the tribes see as priorities," James said. "I want them to see AIS as a good unit to partner with, send students to, and collaborate with on research and applied projects."

For James, coming to the UA is a homecoming of sorts, bringing him back to the university where he received his doctoral degree in social psychology and organizational behavior in 1986. In fact, James credits his time at the UA, where he encountered many native students and faculty, with increasing his interest in working with native groups.

Of Haudenosaunee ("Iroquois Confederacy") descent, James has worked with indigenous communities all over the world on topics that include community and economic development, educational programming and environmental sustainability. He led the startup of a statewide Alaska Native/Native American psychology program for the University of Alaska. He also was program officer with the National Science Foundation, where one of his duties was working with tribal colleges.

James joined the UA from Portland State University, where he was a professor of industrial/organizational psychology and indigenous nations studies. His research is focused on native community sustainability and American Indians' perceptions of science and technology. He also researches creativity and innovation in the workplace, organizational diversity and organizational cybersecurity.

"I am delighted that Dr. James has joined the UA and is going to be establishing a much stronger foundation for American Indian studies," said Karen Francis-Begay, the UA's assistant vice president for tribal relations.

James also is working with the UA Native American Research and Training Center and the Arizona Health Sciences Center on the tribal health concentration, looking for opportunities to collaborate on courses. He sees the concentration as creating a pipeline of students for graduate programs in health sciences.

The indigenous entrepreneurship concentration, a collaboration with the UA Eller College of Management, is needed to address the stilted economic development often found in tribal areas.

"The tribes have historically tended to do more top-down economic development, and that hasn’t created enough opportunities to meet the needs of members," James said. "There is a lot of interest in doing more bottom-up business development."

To help build that program, John Paul Jones III, dean of the College of Social and Behavioral Sciences, last month signed a memorandum of understanding with Michael Hawes, executive director of the Canadian Fulbright Foundation, to have a Canadian Indigenous Entrepreneurship Faculty Fellow join the AIS department for each of the next five years. As part of a joint hire with the McGuire Center for Entrepreneurship in the Eller College of Management, AIS also will be adding a faculty member who will focus on Indian/indigenous entrepreneurship.

Frances-Begay said she is excited that James is forging internal partnerships and building on existing strengths at the UA to help tribal communities. She says the indigenous entrepreneurship concentration "goes to a critical need that many of these communities have."

James also is trying to expand collaborations with the tribal colleges and separately met with representatives from Tohono O’odham Community College and Diné College. The latter is a community college run by the Navajo Nation.

"He's getting out in the field and really developing a new vision for the department," said Frances-Begay, who has accompanied James on some of these trips. "I see so much amazing work he's already doing."

Category(s): Social Sciences and EducationLori HarwoodDecember 2, 2015UA College of Social and Behavioral Sciences

UA to Emphasize Tribal Health and Economic Development

Mon, 11/30/2015 - 2:06pm
Story Contacts: 

Keith James

UA Department of American Indian Studies

520-621-7108

keithjames@email.arizona.edu

The Department of American Indian Studies is on the cusp of expansion, with Keith James having recently joined to take the lead.

Keith James, who began his stint as the new head of the University of Arizona Department of American Indian Studies this fall, is leading the effort to expand curricular and program offerings to better prepare students to meet the needs of tribal communities.

With a focus on tribal health and indigenous entrepreneurship, James is aiming to build on existing strengths at the UA that complement workforce development priorities of native nations. 

The UA's AIS department, which joined the College of Social and Behavioral Sciences in 2014, is on the cusp of expansion. This past summer, the department added a bachelor's degree in American Indian studies, making the UA the first and only university in Arizona to offer bachelor's, master's and doctoral degrees in the discipline. The UA also is the only university in the Southwest to offer the three degrees and a joint M.A./J.D. degree.

Now James is working to ramp up the bachelor's degree program by adding new classes and revising graduate courses so that undergraduates also can enroll.

"I want to see the strengths of the graduate program duplicated at the undergraduate level and new strengths at the undergraduate level that filter up to the graduate program," said James, who has a goal of visiting all 22 Arizona tribal nations before the end of the academic year.

James also envisions adding several new concentrations. For instance, in response to feedback from tribal communities, one of his priorities is to create a Bachelor of Science program with concentrations in tribal health and indigenous entrepreneurship. 

The tribal health concentration will help provide a workforce prepared to tackle health issues, such as diabetes, that affect indigenous populations.

"Tribes may have a hard time seeing how a very general B.A. will address their priorities, so I’m emphasizing concentrations that will provide skills that the tribes see as priorities," James said. "I want them to see AIS as a good unit to partner with, send students to, and collaborate with on research and applied projects."

For James, coming to the UA is a homecoming of sorts, bringing him back to the university where he received his doctoral degree in social psychology and organizational behavior in 1986. In fact, James credits his time at the UA, where he encountered many native students and faculty, with increasing his interest in working with native groups.

Of Haudenosaunee ("Iroquois Confederacy") descent, James has worked with indigenous communities all over the world on topics that include community and economic development, educational programming and environmental sustainability. He led the startup of a statewide Alaska Native/Native American psychology program for the University of Alaska. He also was program officer with the National Science Foundation, where one of his duties was working with tribal colleges.

James joined the UA from Portland State University, where he was a professor of industrial/organizational psychology and indigenous nations studies. His research is focused on native community sustainability and American Indians' perceptions of science and technology. He also researches creativity and innovation in the workplace, organizational diversity and organizational cybersecurity.

"I am delighted that Dr. James has joined the UA and is going to be establishing a much stronger foundation for American Indian studies," said Karen Francis-Begay, the UA's assistant vice president for tribal relations.

James also is working with the UA Native American Research and Training Center and the Arizona Health Sciences Center on the tribal health concentration, looking for opportunities to collaborate on courses. He sees the concentration as creating a pipeline of students for graduate programs in health sciences.

The indigenous entrepreneurship concentration, a collaboration with the UA Eller College of Management, is needed to address the stilted economic development often found in tribal areas.

"The tribes have historically tended to do more top-down economic development, and that hasn’t created enough opportunities to meet the needs of members," James said. "There is a lot of interest in doing more bottom-up business development."

To help build that program, John Paul Jones III, dean of the College of Social and Behavioral Sciences, last month signed a memorandum of understanding with Michael Hawes, executive director of the Canadian Fulbright Foundation, to have a Canadian Indigenous Entrepreneurship Faculty Fellow join the AIS department for each of the next five years. As part of a joint hire with the McGuire Center for Entrepreneurship in the Eller College of Management, AIS also will be adding a faculty member who will focus on Indian/indigenous entrepreneurship.

Frances-Begay said she is excited that James is forging internal partnerships and building on existing strengths at the UA to help tribal communities. She says the indigenous entrepreneurship concentration "goes to a critical need that many of these communities have."

James also is trying to expand collaborations with the tribal colleges and separately met with representatives from Tohono O’odham Community College and Diné College. The latter is a community college run by the Navajo Nation.

"He's getting out in the field and really developing a new vision for the department," said Frances-Begay, who has accompanied James on some of these trips. "I see so much amazing work he's already doing."

Category(s): Social Sciences and EducationLori HarwoodDecember 2, 2015UA College of Social and Behavioral Sciences

The UA's Treasury of Exotic Trees

Mon, 11/30/2015 - 12:44pm
Story Contacts: 

Tanya Quist 

UA Campus Arboretum

520-621-1582

tquist@email.arizona.edu

The Campus Arboretum is home to hundreds of plants from around the world, some of which cannot be found anywhere else in Tucson.

The University of Arizona is known not only for its academic excellence and strong athletic program, but also for its sizable collection of unique trees.

Take the Cassia fistula, for example, commonly called the Golden Shower tree. Its abundant, bright-yellow blossoms are embraced by many in its native habitat of India and Southeast Asia, making it the state tree of Thailand.

Or perhaps the Crescentia alata, commonly called the Calabash tree. Native to Central America and the Mexican tropics, its fruit has anti-inflammatory properties and is often hollowed out and then dried to serve as drinking vessels — or even musical instruments.

Both of these species are one of a kind on the UA campus and do not grow anywhere else in Tucson.

They are just two examples of the hundreds of unique tree species on campus, some of which are part of microclimates.

"We have plants that represent every continent that has trees," says Tanya Quist, director of the UA Campus Arboretum.

This diversity bolsters the UA's research opporutunies, and it also has symbolic value for Quist.

"This biological diversity mimics the cultural diversity we want to welcome at the University as a land-grant school," she says. "Really, the land-grant mission is about being inclusive, extending University resources out to the community and the world at large."

But how did so many exotic trees come to be on our campus in the first place?

The story begins back in the late 19th century with the opening of the school.

From the beginning, the University imported various trees for research. Originally, the goal of this research was economic development through agriculture. Over time, the focus shifted to urban development and resource conservation.

"Trees from around the world were tested on campus either to see if they could be introduced into the state as an agricultural commodity or if they could provide some urban forest in our growing cities," Quist explains.

"And those that were not successful, we have the only one of its kind. That's the short version of how we got all these crazy trees here."

Category(s): Campus NewsRebecca PeifferDecember 2, 2015NASA Space Grant Intern, University Relations - Communications

The UA's Treasury of Exotic Trees

Mon, 11/30/2015 - 12:44pm
Story Contacts: 

Tanya Quist 

UA Campus Arboretum

520-621-1582

tquist@email.arizona.edu

The Campus Arboretum is home to hundreds of plants from around the world, some of which cannot be found anywhere else in Tucson.

The University of Arizona is known not only for its academic excellence and strong athletic program, but also for its sizable collection of unique trees.

Take the Cassia fistula, for example, commonly called the Golden Shower tree. Its abundant, bright-yellow blossoms are embraced by many in its native habitat of India and Southeast Asia, making it the state tree of Thailand.

Or perhaps the Crescentia alata, commonly called the Calabash tree. Native to Central America and the Mexican tropics, its fruit has anti-inflammatory properties and is often hollowed out and then dried to serve as drinking vessels — or even musical instruments.

Both of these species are one of a kind on the UA campus and do not grow anywhere else in Tucson.

They are just two examples of the hundreds of unique tree species on campus, some of which are part of microclimates.

"We have plants that represent every continent that has trees," says Tanya Quist, director of the UA Campus Arboretum.

This diversity bolsters the UA's research opporutunies, and it also has symbolic value for Quist.

"This biological diversity mimics the cultural diversity we want to welcome at the University as a land-grant school," she says. "Really, the land-grant mission is about being inclusive, extending University resources out to the community and the world at large."

But how did so many exotic trees come to be on our campus in the first place?

The story begins back in the late 19th century with the opening of the school.

From the beginning, the University imported various trees for research. Originally, the goal of this research was economic development through agriculture. Over time, the focus shifted to urban development and resource conservation.

"Trees from around the world were tested on campus either to see if they could be introduced into the state as an agricultural commodity or if they could provide some urban forest in our growing cities," Quist explains.

"And those that were not successful, we have the only one of its kind. That's the short version of how we got all these crazy trees here."

Category(s): Campus NewsRebecca PeifferDecember 2, 2015NASA Space Grant Intern, University Relations - Communications

Ancient Genetic 'Baby Boom' of Conifers Uncovered

Mon, 11/30/2015 - 12:14pm
With a newly devised search tool to guide them, the UA's Mike Barker and his colleagues have acquired insight into the speciation of conifers.

Pines, firs, junipers, cedars, redwoods, yews, spruces: These are but a few trees belonging to an enormous and morphologically diverse group of plants known as conifers.

In turn, conifers are the largest group of gymnosperms — plants known for their exposed seeds, which are unprotected by fruit.

For years, people have been interested in sequencing gymnosperm genomes because of their economic importance. Conifers are the the world’s primary source of lumber. From an evolutionary perspective, scientists also wanted to understand what gymnosperm genomes look like compared with those of flowering plants, or angiosperms, their sister lineage from which they diverged between 350 million to 380 million years ago.

Two years ago, a group of scientists succeeded in sequencing the Norway spruce genome, a significant feat because the spruce’s genome is seven times that of a human’s.

"These genomes are massive," says Mike Barker, assistant professor of ecology and evolutionary biology at the University of Arizona. "That alone means sequencing is expensive and complicated."

Plant genomes can become large through a couple of different mechanisms, Barker says.

For one, plants often speciate through polyploidy, meaning they have more than two paired sets of chromosomes and can pass on multiple complete sets of genetic information to their offspring. "Polyploid speciation, or whole genome duplication, doubles the genome in one instant," Barker says. 

The other key way that genome size evolves in plants is through stretches of repetitive DNA, or transposable elements, that copy themselves, or take advantage of replication in the cell to copy themselves inside the cell, as well. "There’s a whole ecosystem of these in genomes, and their populations can expand within genomes," Barker says.

But what caught Barker’s attention regarding the Norway spruce, he says, is why the genome is so massive and yet previous genomic research showed an absence of polyploidy in the ancestry of contemporary gymnosperms. So, he and his colleagues developed an algorithm called the multi-taxon polyploidy search tool, or MAPS, to look for ancient polyploidy events in sequenced genomes.

"MAPS is a new way of inferring these ancient polyploidy events," Barker says. "A polyploidy doubles everything at one time, so you look for this big burst of gene duplication in the history. The bursts show up as peaks (in a graph) when you look at the age distribution of genes. They are sort of like a genetic 'baby boom' that leaves a significant signature of gene birth across millions of years."

MAPS leverages these data. Instead of seeing polyploidy events in only one species at a time, we can see them in multiple species in a shared framework. It allows us to simultaneously look at the history of shared gene duplications in all their descendant lineages.

By looking at the history of those shared gene duplications, Barker found that within the conifers there are two whole-genome duplications that no one expected to find, because polyploid speciation is so rare among contemporary conifers.

"Polyploid speciation may have been more common among ancient seed plants and conifers hundreds of millions of years ago, as we observed two rounds of polyploid speciation in their ancestry," Barker says. "Although there are some conifers that are recent polyploids, such as the redwoods, the last time most conifer genomes duplicated was around the same time the dinosaurs appeared. It is not clear why there has been so little successful polyploid speciation since these ancient genome duplications."

Now Barker and his colleagues are further exploring the legacy of whole gene duplications. In other lineages, they have found that some types of genes are more likely to be retained following polyploidy than other types of duplications, but they’re not sure why. And they’ll be using MAPS to explore paleopolyploidy across the tree of life.

"We hope to gain a better understanding of how polyploidy and these genetic baby booms have contributed to the diversity of life," Barker says.

The researchers' results are published online in Science Advances.

Category(s): Science and TechnologyRobin TricolesNovember 30, 2015University Relations – Communications

Ancient Genetic 'Baby Boom' of Conifers Uncovered

Mon, 11/30/2015 - 12:14pm
With a newly devised search tool to guide them, the UA's Mike Barker and his colleagues have acquired insight into the speciation of conifers.

Pines, firs, junipers, cedars, redwoods, yews, spruces: These are but a few trees belonging to an enormous and morphologically diverse group of plants known as conifers.

In turn, conifers are the largest group of gymnosperms — plants known for their exposed seeds, which are unprotected by fruit.

For years, people have been interested in sequencing gymnosperm genomes because of their economic importance. Conifers are the the world’s primary source of lumber. From an evolutionary perspective, scientists also wanted to understand what gymnosperm genomes look like compared with those of flowering plants, or angiosperms, their sister lineage from which they diverged between 350 million to 380 million years ago.

Two years ago, a group of scientists succeeded in sequencing the Norway spruce genome, a significant feat because the spruce’s genome is seven times that of a human’s.

"These genomes are massive," says Mike Barker, assistant professor of ecology and evolutionary biology at the University of Arizona. "That alone means sequencing is expensive and complicated."

Plant genomes can become large through a couple of different mechanisms, Barker says.

For one, plants often speciate through polyploidy, meaning they have more than two paired sets of chromosomes and can pass on multiple complete sets of genetic information to their offspring. "Polyploid speciation, or whole genome duplication, doubles the genome in one instant," Barker says. 

The other key way that genome size evolves in plants is through stretches of repetitive DNA, or transposable elements, that copy themselves, or take advantage of replication in the cell to copy themselves inside the cell, as well. "There’s a whole ecosystem of these in genomes, and their populations can expand within genomes," Barker says.

But what caught Barker’s attention regarding the Norway spruce, he says, is why the genome is so massive and yet previous genomic research showed an absence of polyploidy in the ancestry of contemporary gymnosperms. So, he and his colleagues developed an algorithm called the multi-taxon polyploidy search tool, or MAPS, to look for ancient polyploidy events in sequenced genomes.

"MAPS is a new way of inferring these ancient polyploidy events," Barker says. "A polyploidy doubles everything at one time, so you look for this big burst of gene duplication in the history. The bursts show up as peaks (in a graph) when you look at the age distribution of genes. They are sort of like a genetic 'baby boom' that leaves a significant signature of gene birth across millions of years."

MAPS leverages these data. Instead of seeing polyploidy events in only one species at a time, we can see them in multiple species in a shared framework. It allows us to simultaneously look at the history of shared gene duplications in all their descendant lineages.

By looking at the history of those shared gene duplications, Barker found that within the conifers there are two whole-genome duplications that no one expected to find, because polyploid speciation is so rare among contemporary conifers.

"Polyploid speciation may have been more common among ancient seed plants and conifers hundreds of millions of years ago, as we observed two rounds of polyploid speciation in their ancestry," Barker says. "Although there are some conifers that are recent polyploids, such as the redwoods, the last time most conifer genomes duplicated was around the same time the dinosaurs appeared. It is not clear why there has been so little successful polyploid speciation since these ancient genome duplications."

Now Barker and his colleagues are further exploring the legacy of whole gene duplications. In other lineages, they have found that some types of genes are more likely to be retained following polyploidy than other types of duplications, but they’re not sure why. And they’ll be using MAPS to explore paleopolyploidy across the tree of life.

"We hope to gain a better understanding of how polyploidy and these genetic baby booms have contributed to the diversity of life," Barker says.

The researchers' results are published online in Science Advances.

Category(s): Science and TechnologyRobin TricolesNovember 30, 2015University Relations – Communications

UA to Expand Arabic Language Training for ROTC

Mon, 11/30/2015 - 11:40am
Story Contacts: 

Christian Sinclair

UA Center for Middle Eastern Studies

520-621-5450

christian.sinclair@arizona.edu

The University has received a $500,000 grant to extend Project GO, a U.S. Department of Defense initiative coordinated by the Center for Middle Eastern Studies.

The University of Arizona, the only institution in the country funded to offer advanced Arabic language training for ROTC students, will extend the program for another year.

To do so, the UA has received a $500,000 grant through Project Global Officers, known as Project GO, a U.S. Department of Defense initiative aimed at improving the language competency, regional expertise and intercultural communication skills of ROTC students.

Project GO at the UA is coordinated by the Center for Middle Eastern Studies and draws on the knowledge and expertise of CMES and the School of Middle East and North African Studies.

The Center for Middle Eastern Studies, which is a Title VI National Resource Center, works with the leaders of each ROTC service branch at the UA, which includes the Army, Air Force and Navy.

"Project GO is an outstanding program here at the University of Arizona," said Col. Brian Donahoo, commander of the Air Force ROTC. "It provides our cadets with much-needed critical language skills, cultural immersion and a chance to compete for study-abroad scholarships. This training and experience are invaluable and serve our cadets well when they commission as officers in the Air Force."

With the Project GO Advanced designation, the UA has solidified its position as having one of the best Arabic programs in the country.

The UA also is one of five universities selected to be an Arabic Flagship Program. The Arizona Arabic Flagship Program, directed by Sonia Shiri, prepares students to reach superior-level fluency in Arabic. The School of Middle East and North African Studies also is currently developing a major in Arabic.

Anne Betteridge, director of the Center for Middle Eastern Studies, says the UA has one of the most holistic Arabic programs in the country. For ROTC members, the program offers:

  • Academic-year courses
  • 14 fully funded scholarships for the UA's eight-week summer study-abroad program in Jordan (three of which are for Project GO Advanced)
  • 10 scholarships for the UA's summer program in Tucson
  • Two scholarships for semester-long advanced opportunities with the UA's Moroccan partner, the Arab-American Language Institute in Morocco. The scholarships are available to ROTC students from any university in the country.

During the academic year, the School of Middle East and North African Studies offer courses, language partners, tutoring and other assistance to help the ROTC students in the program succeed.

This semester, 17 ROTC students are taking Arabic classes at the UA through the Project GO initiative. In addition to standard Arabic, the UA teaches three dialects: Levantine, Egyptian and Moroccan. The UA also offers various levels of Arabic each semester, which gives students the opportunity to start the program at any point.

To teach students about Middle Eastern culture, the Arabic programs offer a variety of activities throughout the year involving dance, music, food and film. Last year, the group staged a mock Syrian wedding.

"When we have meals, it is not just about giving the students Middle Eastern food, but also about teaching them how to eat it, how to be polite," said Christian Sinclair, assistant director of the Center for Middle Eastern Studies and director of the Project GO program.

The training provided by Project GO makes ROTC students eligible for further scholarships and allows them to be commissioned as linguists, which gives them higher levels of pay.

Kaitlynn Williams, a UA political science major and a member of Air Force ROTC, said she applied because she wanted to learn a new lanugage.

"The program has provided me the opportunity to learn a language I never planned on learning and the experience of traveling to a foreign country (Jordan) I never planned on visiting," Williams said. "It has allowed me to expand not only my language abilities, but my cultural understanding as well."

Category(s): Teaching and StudentsLori HarwoodDecember 4, 2015University Relations - Communications

UA to Expand Arabic Language Training for ROTC

Mon, 11/30/2015 - 11:40am
Story Contacts: 

Christian Sinclair

UA Center for Middle Eastern Studies

520-621-5450

christian.sinclair@arizona.edu

The University has received a $500,000 grant to extend Project GO, a U.S. Department of Defense initiative coordinated by the Center for Middle Eastern Studies.

The University of Arizona, the only institution in the country funded to offer advanced Arabic language training for ROTC students, will extend the program for another year.

To do so, the UA has received a $500,000 grant through Project Global Officers, known as Project GO, a U.S. Department of Defense initiative aimed at improving the language competency, regional expertise and intercultural communication skills of ROTC students.

Project GO at the UA is coordinated by the Center for Middle Eastern Studies and draws on the knowledge and expertise of CMES and the School of Middle East and North African Studies.

The Center for Middle Eastern Studies, which is a Title VI National Resource Center, works with the leaders of each ROTC service branch at the UA, which includes the Army, Air Force and Navy.

"Project GO is an outstanding program here at the University of Arizona," said Col. Brian Donahoo, commander of the Air Force ROTC. "It provides our cadets with much-needed critical language skills, cultural immersion and a chance to compete for study-abroad scholarships. This training and experience are invaluable and serve our cadets well when they commission as officers in the Air Force."

With the Project GO Advanced designation, the UA has solidified its position as having one of the best Arabic programs in the country.

The UA also is one of five universities selected to be an Arabic Flagship Program. The Arizona Arabic Flagship Program, directed by Sonia Shiri, prepares students to reach superior-level fluency in Arabic. The School of Middle East and North African Studies also is currently developing a major in Arabic.

Anne Betteridge, director of the Center for Middle Eastern Studies, says the UA has one of the most holistic Arabic programs in the country. For ROTC members, the program offers:

  • Academic-year courses
  • 14 fully funded scholarships for the UA's eight-week summer study-abroad program in Jordan (three of which are for Project GO Advanced)
  • 10 scholarships for the UA's summer program in Tucson
  • Two scholarships for semester-long advanced opportunities with the UA's Moroccan partner, the Arab-American Language Institute in Morocco. The scholarships are available to ROTC students from any university in the country.

During the academic year, the School of Middle East and North African Studies offer courses, language partners, tutoring and other assistance to help the ROTC students in the program succeed.

This semester, 17 ROTC students are taking Arabic classes at the UA through the Project GO initiative. In addition to standard Arabic, the UA teaches three dialects: Levantine, Egyptian and Moroccan. The UA also offers various levels of Arabic each semester, which gives students the opportunity to start the program at any point.

To teach students about Middle Eastern culture, the Arabic programs offer a variety of activities throughout the year involving dance, music, food and film. Last year, the group staged a mock Syrian wedding.

"When we have meals, it is not just about giving the students Middle Eastern food, but also about teaching them how to eat it, how to be polite," said Christian Sinclair, assistant director of the Center for Middle Eastern Studies and director of the Project GO program.

The training provided by Project GO makes ROTC students eligible for further scholarships and allows them to be commissioned as linguists, which gives them higher levels of pay.

Kaitlynn Williams, a UA political science major and a member of Air Force ROTC, said she applied because she wanted to learn a new lanugage.

"The program has provided me the opportunity to learn a language I never planned on learning and the experience of traveling to a foreign country (Jordan) I never planned on visiting," Williams said. "It has allowed me to expand not only my language abilities, but my cultural understanding as well."

Category(s): Teaching and StudentsLori HarwoodDecember 4, 2015University Relations - Communications

TLA Asset Demo Program Readies Inventions

Tue, 11/24/2015 - 4:40pm
Story Contacts: 

Paul Tumarkin

Tech Launch Arizona

520-626-8770

pault@tla.arizona.edu

Technologies ineligible for traditional research support are eligible for asset demonstration funding. Projects begin with a clear scope of work that is divided into milestones, with incremental funding awarded when milestones are met.

In his lab at the Department of Chemistry and Biochemistry at the University of Arizona’s College of Science, assistant professor John Jewett made a surprising discovery in his quest to understand and neutralize the dengue fever virus.

Jewett and his team happened upon a unique class of molecules called triazabutadienes, which demonstrate remarkable bonding behavior in water. This inspired Jewett to branch into the material chemistry world and solve a problem associated with underwater adhesives.

Simply put, it’s hard to make materials stick together under water — unless you have a reaction engineered for that specific purpose.

"We discovered a novel method of synthesis for bonds in aqueous solutions," Jewett explains. "These material applications are not really a focus in our group, but it’s always cool, as a chemist, to find a new way to make something on the macro scale based on a deeper understanding of molecular interactions."

This sort of serendipitous outcome from research is exactly what Paul Eynott, Tech Launch Arizona's licensing manager for the College of Science, keeps an eye out for. After Jewett brought the discovery to his attention, Eynott worked closely with him to identify a commercial use and, in partnership with TLA business intelligence unit manager John Jackson Sr., connected him with Jim Butler, a UA alumnus and graduate of the Eller College of Management now serving as CEO of HJ3 Composite Technologies.

"Our experience with TLA has been very professional," Butler says. "Their team is focused on supporting Dr. Jewett’s proof-of-concept, which helps greatly improve our commercialization efforts." 

With funding from TLA's Asset Demonstration Program (previously known as the Proof of Concept Program), Jewett and Butler are putting the underwater adhesive tech to the test, analyzing its potential for use in underwater construction and repair. The potential value of the adhesive in repairing critical and fragile submerged structures, such as the nation’s dam systems, is enormous.

This facilitation of both technological development and economic growth is a direct realization of the strategies outlined in the UA's Never Settle strategic plan and President Ann Weaver Hart’s drive for the University to adopt innovative practices based on transparency and to reward productivity, effectiveness and entrepreneurship.

The Asset Demonstration Program is the keystone in this process. It has resulted in the availability of $1.1 million to be deployed in fiscal year 2016 toward the development of technology such as Jewett’s adhesives, and in fields as diverse as non-opioid pain relief drugs, high-performance capacitors, mine safety technology, augmented microscopes, alternative battery formulations, emotional intelligence software and cardiovascular therapy.

The program has been shepherded by Sherry Hoskinson, TLA's director of business resources. When TLA began, it was one of the organization’s first major programs, offering competitive awards of about $40,000 each.

While program awards are now non-competitive, only those technologies ineligible for traditional research support are eligible for asset demonstration funding. Such technologies are generally in their infancy in terms of market readiness. To ensure success and consistent movement toward the goal, funded projects begin with a clear scope of work that is divided into milestones, with incremental funding awarded when those are met.

"In our first year, we thought we’d get about 20 applications. We got 46, which was exceptional," Hoskinson says. "Since then, we’ve broadened the program from just proof of concept to full asset demonstration, bringing technologies much closer to commercialization. The response from the UA inventor community has been fantastic.

"The current program isn’t formulaic. It represents a commitment to take a promising science that our inventors and advisers tell us could align with market drivers — and, through the technology development work, demonstrate the veracity and strength of that alignment." 

Asset demonstration strategically supports the work of UA inventors. To bring their technology closer to market readiness, additional resources such as in-depth market analyses from TLA’s business intelligence team and the expertise of executives- and entrepreneurs-in-residence are brought in to help guide the inventor’s next steps.

Jewett’s underwater adhesive is an example of the processes TLA facilitates, highlighting the strength of the office’s approach. In general, the progression of an innovation from lab bench to licensed technology; its development from an idea to a novel and promising market-ready product; and the potential for future economic impact are all carefully guided by TLA and the network of local and national alumni and business advisers it brings into the tech ecosystem.

"It has been an interesting three-year ride to see the creation and evolution of the advisory network and the asset demonstration program come together as resources in our technology commercialization toolbox," says David Allen, vice president of TLA. "We will continue to hone these resources as we deploy them across a wide array of inventions and technology concepts being generated by the UA’s highly creative faculty."

Category(s): Science and TechnologyPaul TumarkinNovember 24, 2015Tech Launch Arizona

TLA Asset Demo Program Readies Inventions

Tue, 11/24/2015 - 4:40pm
Story Contacts: 

Paul Tumarkin

Tech Launch Arizona

520-626-8770

pault@tla.arizona.edu

Technologies ineligible for traditional research support are eligible for asset demonstration funding. Projects begin with a clear scope of work that is divided into milestones, with incremental funding awarded when milestones are met.

In his lab at the Department of Chemistry and Biochemistry at the University of Arizona’s College of Science, assistant professor John Jewett made a surprising discovery in his quest to understand and neutralize the dengue fever virus.

Jewett and his team happened upon a unique class of molecules called triazabutadienes, which demonstrate remarkable bonding behavior in water. This inspired Jewett to branch into the material chemistry world and solve a problem associated with underwater adhesives.

Simply put, it’s hard to make materials stick together under water — unless you have a reaction engineered for that specific purpose.

"We discovered a novel method of synthesis for bonds in aqueous solutions," Jewett explains. "These material applications are not really a focus in our group, but it’s always cool, as a chemist, to find a new way to make something on the macro scale based on a deeper understanding of molecular interactions."

This sort of serendipitous outcome from research is exactly what Paul Eynott, Tech Launch Arizona's licensing manager for the College of Science, keeps an eye out for. After Jewett brought the discovery to his attention, Eynott worked closely with him to identify a commercial use and, in partnership with TLA business intelligence unit manager John Jackson Sr., connected him with Jim Butler, a UA alumnus and graduate of the Eller College of Management now serving as CEO of HJ3 Composite Technologies.

"Our experience with TLA has been very professional," Butler says. "Their team is focused on supporting Dr. Jewett’s proof-of-concept, which helps greatly improve our commercialization efforts." 

With funding from TLA's Asset Demonstration Program (previously known as the Proof of Concept Program), Jewett and Butler are putting the underwater adhesive tech to the test, analyzing its potential for use in underwater construction and repair. The potential value of the adhesive in repairing critical and fragile submerged structures, such as the nation’s dam systems, is enormous.

This facilitation of both technological development and economic growth is a direct realization of the strategies outlined in the UA's Never Settle strategic plan and President Ann Weaver Hart’s drive for the University to adopt innovative practices based on transparency and to reward productivity, effectiveness and entrepreneurship.

The Asset Demonstration Program is the keystone in this process. It has resulted in the availability of $1.1 million to be deployed in fiscal year 2016 toward the development of technology such as Jewett’s adhesives, and in fields as diverse as non-opioid pain relief drugs, high-performance capacitors, mine safety technology, augmented microscopes, alternative battery formulations, emotional intelligence software and cardiovascular therapy.

Of that $1.1 million in available funding, TLA has awarded a total of $400,000 so far this fiscal year.

The program has been shepherded by Sherry Hoskinson, TLA's director of business resources. When TLA began, it was one of the organization’s first major programs, offering competitive awards of about $40,000 each.

While program awards are now non-competitive, only those technologies ineligible for traditional research support are eligible for asset demonstration funding. Such technologies are generally in their infancy in terms of market readiness. To ensure success and consistent movement toward the goal, funded projects begin with a clear scope of work that is divided into milestones, with incremental funding awarded when those are met.

"In our first year, we thought we’d get about 20 applications. We got 46, which was exceptional," Hoskinson says. "Since then, we’ve broadened the program from just proof of concept to full asset demonstration, bringing technologies much closer to commercialization. The response from the UA inventor community has been fantastic.

"The current program isn’t formulaic. It represents a commitment to take a promising science that our inventors and advisers tell us could align with market drivers — and, through the technology development work, demonstrate the veracity and strength of that alignment." 

Asset demonstration strategically supports the work of UA inventors. To bring their technology closer to market readiness, additional resources such as in-depth market analyses from TLA’s business intelligence team and the expertise of executives- and entrepreneurs-in-residence are brought in to help guide the inventor’s next steps.

Jewett’s underwater adhesive is an example of the processes TLA facilitates, highlighting the strength of the office’s approach. In general, the progression of an innovation from lab bench to licensed technology; its development from an idea to a novel and promising market-ready product; and the potential for future economic impact are all carefully guided by TLA and the network of local and national alumni and business advisers it brings into the tech ecosystem.

"It has been an interesting three-year ride to see the creation and evolution of the advisory network and the asset demonstration program come together as resources in our technology commercialization toolbox," says David Allen, vice president of TLA. "We will continue to hone these resources as we deploy them across a wide array of inventions and technology concepts being generated by the UA’s highly creative faculty."

Category(s): Science and TechnologyPaul TumarkinNovember 24, 2015Tech Launch Arizona

TLA Asset Demo Program Readies Inventions

Tue, 11/24/2015 - 4:40pm
Story Contacts: 

Paul Tumarkin

Tech Launch Arizona

520-626-8770

pault@tla.arizona.edu

Technologies ineligible for traditional research support are eligible for asset demonstration funding. Projects begin with a clear scope of work that is divided into milestones, with incremental funding awarded when milestones are met.

In his lab at the Department of Chemistry and Biochemistry at the University of Arizona’s College of Science, assistant professor John Jewett made a surprising discovery in his quest to understand and neutralize the dengue fever virus.

Jewett and his team happened upon a unique class of molecules called triazabutadienes, which demonstrate remarkable bonding behavior in water. This inspired Jewett to branch into the material chemistry world and solve a problem associated with underwater adhesives.

Simply put, it’s hard to make materials stick together under water — unless you have a reaction engineered for that specific purpose.

"We discovered a novel method of synthesis for bonds in aqueous solutions," Jewett explains. "These material applications are not really a focus in our group, but it’s always cool, as a chemist, to find a new way to make something on the macro scale based on a deeper understanding of molecular interactions."

This sort of serendipitous outcome from research is exactly what Paul Eynott, Tech Launch Arizona's licensing manager for the College of Science, keeps an eye out for. After Jewett brought the discovery to his attention, Eynott worked closely with him to identify a commercial use and, in partnership with TLA business intelligence unit manager John Jackson Sr., connected him with Jim Butler, a UA alumnus and graduate of the Eller College of Management now serving as CEO of HJ3 Composite Technologies.

"Our experience with TLA has been very professional," Butler says. "Their team is focused on supporting Dr. Jewett’s proof-of-concept, which helps greatly improve our commercialization efforts." 

With funding from TLA's Asset Demonstration Program (previously known as the Proof of Concept Program), Jewett and Butler are putting the underwater adhesive tech to the test, analyzing its potential for use in underwater construction and repair. The potential value of the adhesive in repairing critical and fragile submerged structures, such as the nation’s dam systems, is enormous.

This facilitation of both technological development and economic growth is a direct realization of the strategies outlined in the UA's Never Settle strategic plan and President Ann Weaver Hart’s drive for the University to adopt innovative practices based on transparency and to reward productivity, effectiveness and entrepreneurship.

The Asset Demonstration Program is the keystone in this process. It has resulted in the availability of $1.1 million to be deployed in fiscal year 2016 toward the development of technology such as Jewett’s adhesives, and in fields as diverse as non-opioid pain relief drugs, high-performance capacitors, mine safety technology, augmented microscopes, alternative battery formulations, emotional intelligence software and cardiovascular therapy.

Of that $1.1 million in available funding, TLA has awarded a total of $400,000 so far this fiscal year.

The program has been shepherded by Sherry Hoskinson, TLA's director of business resources. When TLA began, it was one of the organization’s first major programs, offering competitive awards of about $40,000 each.

While program awards are now non-competitive, only those technologies ineligible for traditional research support are eligible for asset demonstration funding. Such technologies are generally in their infancy in terms of market readiness. To ensure success and consistent movement toward the goal, funded projects begin with a clear scope of work that is divided into milestones, with incremental funding awarded when those are met.

"In our first year, we thought we’d get about 20 applications. We got 46, which was exceptional," Hoskinson says. "Since then, we’ve broadened the program from just proof of concept to full asset demonstration, bringing technologies much closer to commercialization. The response from the UA inventor community has been fantastic.

"The current program isn’t formulaic. It represents a commitment to take a promising science that our inventors and advisers tell us could align with market drivers — and, through the technology development work, demonstrate the veracity and strength of that alignment." 

Asset demonstration strategically supports the work of UA inventors. To bring their technology closer to market readiness, additional resources such as in-depth market analyses from TLA’s business intelligence team and the expertise of executives- and entrepreneurs-in-residence are brought in to help guide the inventor’s next steps.

Jewett’s underwater adhesive is an example of the processes TLA facilitates, highlighting the strength of the office’s approach. In general, the progression of an innovation from lab bench to licensed technology; its development from an idea to a novel and promising market-ready product; and the potential for future economic impact are all carefully guided by TLA and the network of local and national alumni and business advisers it brings into the tech ecosystem.

"It has been an interesting three-year ride to see the creation and evolution of the advisory network and the asset demonstration program come together as resources in our technology commercialization toolbox," says David Allen, vice president of TLA. "We will continue to hone these resources as we deploy them across a wide array of inventions and technology concepts being generated by the UA’s highly creative faculty."

Category(s): Science and TechnologyPaul TumarkinNovember 24, 2015Tech Launch Arizona

Spicy New Arthritis Treatment Moves to Clinical Trials

Tue, 11/24/2015 - 3:00pm
Extra Info: 

Those interested in more information on the turmeric study or in becoming involved in the clinical trial can contact Dr. Janet Funk at botanicals@email.arizona.edu

Story Contacts: 

Lisa Romero

BIO5 Institute

520-626-9598

lisaromero@bio5.org

A UA research team studying the anti-inflammatory impact of turmeric is moving the project out of the laboratory and into patient testing.

Turmeric, a golden-hued spice native to Asia, has been used for centuries in the Indian-based healing practices of Ayurveda to treat many ailments, including arthritis, stomach problems, poor circulation and skin diseases. Although the spice has long been recognized for its anti-inflammatory benefits, the mysteries behind how it actually affects the human body largely have remained unsolved until now.

Dr. Janet Funk, a University of Arizona associate professor of medicine and nutritional sciences in the College of Medicine, has been working to crack the code behind turmeric’s medicinal potential for several years.

"When we first started researching turmeric, it had not yet been studied scientifically in order to discover whether it actually worked as an arthritis treatment," said Funk, also a member of the UA’s BIO5 Institute and Cancer Center.

Funk and her research team decided to primarily focus on turmeric’s effects on rheumatoid arthritis, or RA. They were able to demonstrate that the chemicals in turmeric were highly effective in blocking the body’s inflammatory response — a helpful bit of medicinal knowledge not only for the treatment of arthritis, but also for other complications of inflammation, such as stroke. While these were excellent results, the next trick was to figure out which molecules were doing the real work and creating those desired effects, as well as which molecules might cause concerning toxicities.

Rheumatoid arthritis is a chronic autoimmune disease that causes the body’s defense system to attack itself. When RA flares, tissues around joints become inflamed, resulting in in swelling, pain, joint destruction and disability. RA disproportionately affects women, and there is no known cure.

While prescription medications such as Humira and Celebrex are used to treat RA, Funk was interested in finding out if turmeric could be equally as effective without as many corresponding side effects.

During its investigational studies, the UA team found that turmeric did, in fact, work just as well as commonly prescribed medications in blocking arthritic inflammation.

"In our experimental studies, we found out that turmeric inactivates a protein that is essentially the commander of a 'fleet' of inflammatory proteins made by the body," Funk said. "When you block this protein, the fleet does not sail.

"Interestingly, the same protein is also a master regulator of bone breakdown, which is also a problem in RA, so turmeric’s blockade of this protein is sort of a two-for-the-price-of-one situation in RA."

Now that they have identified turmeric’s biologically active spicy compounds and their intracellular targets in experimental models, Funk and her team are moving the project out of the laboratory and into the clinic in order to study turmeric’s effects in people. 

The team successfully competed for funding from the National Institutes of Health, the agency that will oversee the clinical trial of 45 patients suffering from RA. The study will compare the effects of varying doses of turmeric dietary supplements alongside an inactive placebo over the course of a month, and is seeking to enroll individuals with RA whose symptoms are not well controlled on methotrexate, a common first-line treatment for the disease.

"We are calling it the CLaRA study, which is short for a title that includes turmeric’s botanical name (Curcuma longa L in Rheumatoid Arthritis)," Funk said. "We hope that this name will bring to mind both Clara Barton, a health care pioneer in an era when most medicines were plant-based, and claro, which means 'clear' in Spanish, since we believe this study will help to clarify exactly what role this botanical may play in modern-day arthritis treatment."

The goal of this small study is to lay the groundwork for a larger and longer treatment trial that also would take place in Arizona.

Bringing to light the potential that natural remedies can play in modern medicine was the core catalyst to Funk’s turmeric study. Funk says that had it not been for NIH funding provided to the UA about a decade ago to create a large botanical research center, she would not have had the resources to conduct her study.

Barbara Timmerman, a Regents’ Professor and natural products chemist, was the driver behind that original grant and headed the botanical research center.

There have been many contributors to the turmeric study. Funk even mentioned a time when the turmeric root on which her team conducted tests was cultivated at the UA, in a greenhouse atop the roof of a parking garage.

"Ongoing research projects require teams of talented UA faculty, students, and staff with complementary areas of expertise, ranging all the way from biostatisticians to pharmacologists to clinicians," Funk said. "It takes a village to move research all the way from the lab bench to the bedside. The UA is our village.”

With the RA clinical trial soon underway, Funk is also focused on expanding the impact turmeric may have to other diseases.

"One of the exciting things about studying ancient treatments using modern tools is that once you figure out how they work, you sometimes realize that they might also be useful for the treatment of entirely different diseases," she said. "From learning how turmeric affects bone in our early arthritis work, we realized that turmeric might also be useful in blocking bone metastasis in women with advanced breast cancer."

Funk is now testing this theory by starting to examine bone effects of turmeric in breast cancer. She also is collaborating with Thaddeus Pace, assistant professor in the UA College of Nursing, who is examining the ability of turmeric to reduce fatigue in women undergoing chemotherapy and radiation treatment for breast cancer in a small pilot study, with the goal of laying the groundwork for future trials in women with breast cancer.

Category(s): HealthNovember 24, 2015BIO5 Institute

New WEST Center to Address Water Issues

Tue, 11/24/2015 - 11:04am
Story Contacts: 

Lucio Guerrero

UA Office for Research & Discovery

520-621-3513

luciog@email.arizona.edu

The $5.5 million facility, built by Pima County, will bring together industry, government and academia for the development of new technologies.

Leaders from the University of Arizona, Pima County and city of Tucson were on hand for the grand opening of the WEST (Water & Energy Sustainable Technology) Center — a new, state-of-the-art facility that will enable UA researchers, public officials and business leaders to work together in developing new technologies that will help communities deal with water scarcity and re-use.

The $5.5 million center, built by Pima County, represents an important partnership — among few in the nation — that brings together various stakeholders to help solve the issues of water and water usage. The center represents a working partnership involving Pima County, Tucson Water, numerous industrial partners and the UA. Researchers from the UA’s College of Agriculture and Life Sciences and College of Engineering will be working on site at the facility.

"WEST has established a unique public/private/academia partnership tackling the issue of water scarcity and the dwindling resources. This project brings the strength of UA research and pairs it with industry experience," said Kimberly Andrews Espy, senior vice president for research at UA. "By partnering, we can look at solving the problem together, collectively."

Located within Pima County’s new water reclamation facility, Agua Nueva, near Interstate 10 and West El Camino del Cerro, WEST also is adjacent to reclaimed water recharge basins and constructed wetlands, all of which are part of the water reclamation campus and play an important part in the research being conducted in WEST laboratories.

"Addressing high-quality water resource availability for our region is necessary to assure our community’s long-term viability, and Pima County’s investment in our wastewater treatment facilities is a major step in that direction," said John Bernal, deputy county administrator for Pima County. "WEST will bring together public- and private-sector capabilities to explore improved methods for further securing our water future."

With about 25 percent of the U.S. currently affected by drought, the WEST Center is poised to answer some of the nation’s biggest questions about sustainable water and energy use. Research at the new facility also may lead to new technology regarding the re-use of potable wastewater.

"The WEST Center will target the water-energy nexus by ensuring a supply of safe drinking water to meet community needs for the foreseeable future, while meeting sustainable energy requirements," said Ian Pepper, co-director at WEST and a UA professor of soil, water and environmental science.

"In addition, the WEST Center aspires to not only become a global leader in new water and energy technologies but also focus on creating additional jobs and economic development in the region, while simultaneously providing advanced educational and training opportunities," said Shane Snyder, co-director at WEST and a UA professor of chemical and environmental engineering.

By finding ways to better society while also promoting economic growth in Arizona, WEST Center research also fits the UA’s Never Settle strategic plan.

"The UA has a long-standing history as a leading academic institution in the multifaceted study of water," Espy said. "The WEST Center advances our standing by providing state-of-the-art facilities that enable our faculty and partners to develop and demonstrate the technologies necessary for water security."

Category(s): Science and TechnologyNovember 24, 2015UA Office for Research & Discovery

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