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Schoolteacher Bones Up on Anthropology at UA

Wed, 07/22/2015 - 3:39pm

In a small lab, surrounded by the skeletons of thousands of animals, Alex Ruff sifts through bags of teeth that chewed their last meal centuries ago.

The Marana High School science teacher is looking for answers about what cows, sheep and goats were eating and drinking in southern Arizona after Spanish missionaries first introduced the animals to the area in the late 1600s.

Ruff is a recipient of the Arizona Partners in Science Award from the Tucson-based Research Corporation for Science Advancement. Given to about 50 recipients between 2009 and 2013, the awards provided summer research opportunities for high school science teachers in partnership with faculty at Arizona universities.

Ruff's two-year award has allowed him to team up with UA anthropologist Barnet Pavao-Zuckerman and UA anthropology graduate student Nicole Mathwich to study livestock teeth and bones from the mid-1700s to the early 1800s, collected from a variety of southern Arizona sites over the years.

Ruff is conducting the bulk of his research at the Arizona State Museum's Stanley J. Olsen Laboratory of Zooarchaeology, which houses about 4,500 animal skeletons from across North America. Much of what he learns in the lab, he works to incorporate in his high school classrooms during the school year to help his students get excited about science.

This summer, Ruff is working with UA researchers to conduct isotopic analysis on livestock teeth. The researchers will drill into the enamel and extract samples from the teeth. Those samples will be run through a mass spectrometer to determine their chemical composition, which will provide information about the animals' food and water sources in the 18th and 19th centuries in an area where water was scarce.

The goal is ultimately to reconstruct Native American ranching practices of the past in southern Arizona.

"We want to reconnect what we're doing with cattle now to what the natives were doing with the animals when they were first incorporated," Ruff said. "Water management is the most crucial thing here. How did the natives manage their water usage with these animals, and is there something we can learn and do now that would be similar?"

For Ruff, a 2006 UA graduate, the partnership with the UA has been an opportunity to learn new skills and participate in activities that are far removed from his day job. Last summer, for example, he had the unique opportunity to in an archaeological excavation of the Tohono O’odham settlement of Guevavi, just north of the U.S.-Mexico border.

Ruff's work at the UA also has provided him with new tools to use in his classes at Marana High, just outside of Tucson, where he teaches biology and forensic science.

Ruff started the school's forensic science courses in an effort to "catch the 'CSI' wave," using the popular television show to get students interested in science. His work in the UA's zooarchaeology lab fits in well with his courses.

Since he started his work at the UA, he has brought animal bones from the Arizona State Museum's collections into his forensic science classes to teach students what they can learn from bones, such as how bones grow and what that can reveal about an animal's age.

The bones even inspired a "wing night" assignment in which students were tasked with analyzing the remains from a hot-wing dinner to determine how many unique chickens contributed to the meal.

Ruff also has brought some of his students into the UA lab for tours.

"They like it because it's hands-on," he said. "They can actually see the bones and see how bones grow."

Pavao-Zuckerman, Ruff's mentor and associate curator of zooarchaeology at the Arizona State Museum, said Ruff's enthusiasm has been wonderful to see.

"Working with Alex has been amazing. He's so grateful to be here, and so excited and motivated," said Pavao-Zuckerman, an associate professor in the UA School of Anthropology. "To be able to get involved in research like this is something high school teachers don't often get to do, and they should."

Ruff said partnering with the UA, and being able to connect his students with the campus through his research, has been a welcome opportunity. He hopes to publish his research findings and to present them in his classes as well as at the Research Corporation for Science Advancement's conference in January.

"To be a science teacher and to be able to get out of the classroom and work out in the field like this is really cool," he said.

Editor: dougcarrollWriter: Alexis BlueByline: Alexis BlueByline Affiliation: University Relations - CommunicationsHeader image: YesNo Image: Subheading: Alex Ruff takes the skills he learns in a UA lab back to his high school forensic science classes.Include in UANow: yesInclude in Olympic Coverage: noFeature on Olympic Page: noUANow Image: Includes video: 

H.S. Students Get Jump Start on Research

Wed, 07/22/2015 - 3:19pm

High school seniors Parthib Samadder and Helena Hurbon stopped attending class months before their May graduation at BASIS Tucson North High School. But not only did they graduate — they’re bound for Ivy League universities.

Samadder and Hurbon swapped their traditional senior-year classroom instruction for a hands-on experiential learning project in the University of Arizona's Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering, or ECE. Samadder used origami to design a solar-powered robot, working with professor Kathleen Melde. Hurbon studied bionics and bacteria with associate professor Wolfgang Fink, who has a joint appointment in the Department of Biomedical Engineering.

Samadder and Hurbon were two of 57 Tucson-area BASIS seniors doing internships with universities and companies around the nation as part of the BASIS Senior Research Projects Initiative. BASIS, founded in 1998 to make U.S. students more globally competitive, includes publicly funded charter schools in Arizona, Texas and the District of Columbia.

"Experiential learning is key to understanding what engineering is all about," Melde said. "We must introduce high school students to the impact that engineers are making — and that they can make — in the world."

Melde predicted that this type of learning-by-doing research soon will be the norm in preparing high school students for engineering careers.

"This next generation isn’t as afraid of failure," she said. "If a student doesn’t know how to do something, they’ll figure out a solution by Googling it, watching a tutorial on YouTube or reaching out to an expert. Student-led research projects play off of that natural desire to discover and solve problems, and that is what engineering is all about."

These kinds of projects also expose students to the rigors of academic research, said James Kittredge, a college counselor at BASIS Tucson North.

"There’s always an advantage in researchers educating the younger generation," he said. "Even if the benefit isn’t immediate, companies and institutions like ECE are taking a long view in cultivating an educated workforce."

Hurbon’s mentor, Fink, incorporates this long view in his research programs.

"As part of my research, I engage students of all levels, starting from high schools, all the way to undergraduates, to graduate students," said Fink, recently appointed the 2015 da Vinci Fellow by the UA College of Engineering for outstanding research and teaching.

Samadder explored how origami conceals mathematical principles that have applications for engineering and real life.

"In engineering, origami allows an object to be sheetlike at its destination but small for the journey," said Samadder, who worked with Melde to design a solar-powered robotic device using principles of origami for a compacted form.

With his newly gained skills in soldering, circuit design and antenna testing and exchanges with graduate students in Melde’s lab, Samadder said he is prepared for any challenges he might face in his engineering program at Yale University.

"Dr. Melde’s lab has amazing graduate students who are happy to help students like me access resources to pursue a wide variety of projects," he said. "ECE is a great place for high school students to explore their research interests and decide what fields they want to go into."

Hurbon, whose career goal is to improve bionics for war veterans, researched the connection between bacterial growth and human prosthetics.

Her project involved using differential equations to model bacterial growth, studying physical factors — such as temperature and moisture content — that contribute to bacterial growth, and exploring bacterial prevention practices.

Hurbon worked in the Visual and Autonomous Exploration Systems Research Laboratory, where Fink is developing robotic rovers for exploring planets and hand-held tools for examining patients’ eyes.

The experience was an eye-opener for her.

"With research, you see how things are actually useful," Hurbon said. "You’re not just learning equations to learn them. You’re learning them to do something good in the world.

"Having research experience before college certainly puts you in an elite few, and I am so grateful for that. I am also incredibly grateful to have worked with Dr. Fink. Engineering is a collaborative effort, and I saw that each time I worked with him."

Hurbon was accepted into Eckerd College’s 3-2 sequence program, in which she will earn two bachelor’s degrees within five years: a physics degree from Eckerd College and an engineering degree from Columbia University.

Editor: dougcarrollByline: Sydney DonaldsonByline Affiliation: UA College of EngineeringHeader image: YesNo Image: Subheading: Tucson seniors pursue their interests in solar power and bionics in the UA's electrical and computer engineering labs before starting their undergraduate studies. Include in UANow: yesInclude in Olympic Coverage: noFeature on Olympic Page: noUANow Image: Includes video: 

iPlant Taming the 'Big Data Beast'

Wed, 07/22/2015 - 12:55pm

In an era of unprecedented scientific discovery, researchers are generating more data than ever before. But do scientists have access to enough technological firepower to turn this mountain of data into tangible results?

Many biologists worry that the future rise in genomic data will strain the computational resources of the discipline beyond its capacity to store, analyze and distribute large datasets. However, University of Arizona assistant professor and iPlant Collaborative co-principal investigator Eric Lyons is much more optimistic.

"We are ready to meet this challenge today," Lyons said.

The UA-headquartered iPlant Collaborative is a National Science Foundation-funded cyberinfrastructure project providing computational support to life science researchers in the form of secure data storage, services for data analysis, and the underlying infrastructure to share datasets among collaborators anywhere in the world with an Internet connection.

"Currently, we are managing 1.1 petabytes of user data, broken into 88 million data objects with associated metadata. More than half of these datasets are shared among two or more users," Lyons said. "People can input huge datasets and easily share and collaborate from anywhere on the planet."

In addition to helping direct the iPlant Collaborative, Lyons is an assistant professor in the UA's College of Agriculture and Life Sciences and a member of the BIO5 Institute.

In a recent study published in PLoS Biology, the authors discuss technologies they predict will be needed to address future computational challenges posed by genomics, including a need for tools for data acquisition, storage, distribution and analysis.

The article's argument is timely, Lyons said.

"We’re generating data on a massive scale because the technology to generate it is becoming faster, cheaper and more available," he said.

The iPlant Collaborative, founded in 2008, has established an infrastructure to handle the projected rise in genomic data and any large datasets inherent to the life sciences, while providing an array of platforms, services, tools and training resources, empowering data scientists in all disciplines.

Originally created for plant science research, iPlant borrowed concepts and technologies from other disciplines, including astronomy and physics. Now, Lyons said, "those groups are looking to see what iPlant has done in terms of broadening inner connections so they can take best practices we've pioneered addressing biological problems back to their communities, thereby completing the cycle of scientific sharing."

When it comes to the problem of data storage, Lyons believes that storing process data may be more feasible, and more valuable to science in the future, than attempting to store all raw data generated. Michael Schatz, an associate professor of quantitative biology at Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory and adjunct assistant professor of computer science at Stony Brook University, and one of the PLoS Biology study authors, agrees with Lyons.

"In genomics, it’s going to be really important to think about aspects such as data compression, and the different analyses that need to take place," Schatz said. "I think that's where iPlant is going to play a role, providing data storage, compute resources and technological interfaces — making massive amounts of computer resources usable to specialists in high performance computing."

And if dataset numbers and sizes, in genomics and other disciplines, skyrocket in the future as predicted?

"We're always keeping our eyes on the future," Lyons said. "We realize that in life sciences, the problem of big data is immense. iPlant has worked, and will continue working, with existing cyberinfrastructure projects regardless of the science discipline and technologies used, to be prepared for the future."

Editor: dougcarrollWriter: Shelley LittinByline: Shelley LittinByline Affiliation: iPlant CollaborativeHeader image: YesNo Image: Subheading: The UA-headquartered iPlant Collaborative is ready to handle the projected rise in genomic information, turning raw data into scientific breakthroughs.Include in UANow: yesInclude in Olympic Coverage: noFeature on Olympic Page: noUANow Image: Includes video: 

Banner – UMC Tucson Ranked Among Nation's Best

Wed, 07/22/2015 - 12:32pm

Banner – University Medical Center Tucson has been ranked among the best hospitals in the nation in geriatrics, nephrology and pulmonology in U.S. News & World Report’s 2015-2016 Best Hospitals ratings. A "high performing" designation was awarded in seven other medical specialties.

The publication also rated Banner – University Medical Center as the best hospital in the Tucson metro area and the No. 3 hospital in Arizona behind the Mayo Clinic and Banner – University Medical Center Phoenix, its sister hospital.

The annual U.S. News Best Hospitals rankings, now in their 26th year, were released Tuesday. They recognize hospitals that excel in treating the most challenging patients.

"We are pleased that U.S. News has recognized the caregivers, educators and researchers at Banner – University Medical Center Tucson for their focus on patients and for producing outstanding outcomes. It takes an entire team to garner results like these," said Tom Dickson, chief executive officer of Banner – University Medical Center Tucson.

The Tucson academic medical center, which became part of nonprofit Banner Health in March, was ranked 38th in the medical specialty of geriatrics, 41st in nephrology and 49th in pulmonology out of nearly 5,000 hospitals surveyed across the country.

The magazine also rated the hospital as "high performing" in seven specialties: cancer, diabetes and endrocrinology, gastroenterology and GI surgery, gynecology, neurology and neurosurgery, orthopedics, and urology.

For 2015-2016, U.S. News evaluated hospitals in 16 adult specialties and ranked the top 50 in most of the specialties. Less than 3 percent of hospitals that were analyzed for Best Hospitals 2015-2016 were nationally ranked in even one specialty.

"A Best Hospital has demonstrated expertise in treating the most challenging patients," said Ben Harder, chief of health analysis at U.S. News. "A hospital that emerged from our analysis as one of the best has much to be proud of."

In rankings by state and metro area, U.S. News recognized hospitals that perform nearly at the level of their nationally ranked peers in one or more specialties, as well as hospitals that excel in multiple common procedures and conditions.

U.S. News publishes Best Hospitals to help guide patients who need a high level of care because they face particularly difficult surgery, a challenging condition or extra risk because of age or multiple health problems. Objective measures such as patient survival and safety data, adequacy of nurse staffing and other data largely determined the rankings in most specialties.

The specialty rankings and data were produced for U.S. News by RTI International, a leading research organization based in Research Triangle Park, North Carolina. U.S. News used the same data, as well as the new Best Hospitals for Common Care ratings, first published in May, to produce the state and metro rankings.

The rankings are available at http://health.usnews.com/best-hospitals and will appear in the U.S. News "Best Hospitals 2016" guidebook, available in August.

Editor: dougcarrollByline Affiliation: University Relations – CommunicationsHeader image: YesNo Image: Subheading: Medical specialties in geriatrics, nephrology and pulmonology are placed in the top tier by U.S. News & World Report.Include in UANow: yesInclude in Olympic Coverage: noFeature on Olympic Page: noUANow Image: Includes video: 

UA to Boost Cardiac Rescue in India

Tue, 07/21/2015 - 5:11pm

The Emergency Medicine Research Center at the University of Arizona College of Medicine in Tucson and Phoenix is positioned to help improve survival rates from cardiac arrest in India.

M.S. Ramaiah Medical College, M.S. Ramaiah Memorial Hospital, MSR Advanced Learning Centre, the University of Illinois, Chicago, and Medtronic have announced the launch of HeartRescue India. The program is a first-of-its-kind, $4.4-million collaborative effort that supports community-based demonstration projects designed to expand access to life-saving interventions for cardiovascular events such as heart attack and sudden cardiac arrest. The Arizona Emergency Medicine Research Center, or AEMRC, at the UA in Tucson and Phoenix is the technical adviser on the project.

The HeartRescue India partners convened at M.S. Ramaiah Memorial Hospital in Bangalore, India, with representatives from government and medicine to launch a bold and unique initiative aimed at dramatically improving survival from the leading cause of death in India: acute cardiovascular disease.

The HeartRescue Global Project is a $14 million international effort to improve survival from acute cardiovascular disease through implementation of integrated systems of care, including community responders, emergency medical dispatch systems and hospitals.

The HeartRescue project is funded through the fundraising arm of Medtronic.

"Over the past five years, our partnership with Medtronic Philanthropy has resulted in many discoveries and most importantly thousands of lives saved from sudden cardiac arrest in Arizona," said Dr. Bentley Bobrow, a Distinguished Professor of Emergency Medicine and associate director of the Arizona Emergency Medicine Research Center in Phoenix. "We are confident that the models to improve emergency cardiovascular care and save lives will have an enormous global impact."

"We know this effort will save many lives in India and beyond as the project expands," added Dr. Daniel Spaite, associate director of the AEMRC in Phoenix.

Editor: dougcarrollByline Affiliation: UA College of Medicine Extra Info: 
  • India has the largest cardiovascular disease burden of any country in the world. Heart attack claims between 4 million and 5 million people annually.
  • 10.3 percent of all deaths (700,000 cases annually) are due to sudden cardiac arrest.
  • 25 percent of those deaths involved people younger than 50.
  • For more about the Arizona Emergency Medicine Research Center: http://emergencymed.arizona.edu/aemrc/
Header image: YesNo Image: Subheading: Community-based projects via Emergency Medicine Research Center are designed to expand access to life-saving interventions.Include in UANow: yesInclude in Olympic Coverage: noFeature on Olympic Page: noUANow Image: Includes video: 

Mentors, Partnership Make for Good Business

Tue, 07/21/2015 - 10:59am

Photo: Chris Scott - Focus Scout

Very seldom do individuals succeed entirely on their own.

Alexander the Great had his mentor Aristotle.

Mahatma Gandhi found inspiration in Gopal Krishna Gokhale.  

Charles Stewart Rolls partnered with Sir Frederick Henry Royce.

Stevie Nicks had the rest of Fleetwood Mac.

You get the picture.

No matter your goal as an individual — whether you are trying to find a cure for Alzheimer's, run for president or be the first human on Mars — it is important to find others to aid and accompany you in your journey.

One of the most vital pieces to the puzzle of success is finding an influential mentor — or, even better, mentors. Selecting guides is often a task with no set instructions, but in my experience, there are some general rules to follow: 

  • Find someone who has experience living out the reality that you are dreaming of.
  • Seek counsel from those who enjoy teaching and are glad to share their wealth of knowledge.
  • Don't force yourself into the life of a prospective mentor. Often, a wise tutor will find you first.
  • Many mentors can provide you with inspiration through day-to-day interactions and discussions, rather than by establishing a formal relationship.

However, it is important to let someone know if they are inspiring you. Positive influence often goes unnoticed by the person providing inspiration, and gratitude for it will lead to more valuable relationships and resources. 

Your primary mentors may change as time passes and your interests and experiences develop, but it is important to maintain those relationships. I have been mentored, and I also have mentored others. Many of my mentors may not have known how much of an impact they had on me, but their interests, lifestyles and personalities will influence me for years to come.

Another essential asset to reaching your goals is partnership.

Recently, I was lucky enough to collaborate with a young woman in the film industry for a project at Aztera, the Tucson-based technology development company where I am interning this summer.

Film and videography is something that has always interested me, and I learned a great deal about the producing, directing and editing processes that are required to create a professional video. I helped write the script for the video, which was an instructional video for Instant BioScan (one of our partner companies) on how to use their product. The experience started a new relationship between a quality videographer and Aztera, leading to discussions of future work to benefit both parties.

Partnering with other companies can provide a startup with access to necessary resources and knowledge in order to move a venture forward. Forming a partnership is usually a win-win situation.

For instance, Intel can sponsor a startup with the necessary software and electronics to develop a proposed product, as long as the startup agrees to use Intel's technology inside its product for an agreed-upon number of years. The materials and resources benefit the startup in this situation, while Intel gets to put its signature on a new innovation and promising company, extending its web of influence.

In general, partnerships lead to deeper development of ideas. Different personalities working side by side leads to fostering levels of complexity and creativity while generating and expanding upon ideas.

Collaboration is even more beneficial when it's interdisciplinary.

Rather than encouraging two employees in the marketing department to partner on a project, a company should partner a marketing specialist with an engineer. This leads to cross-disciplinary productivity. The marketing professional learns firsthand details on the product or service that is being marketed, leading to more effective communication to customers. The engineer gains insight into the customer, which may lead to influenced decisions during product development down the road.

In general, it is a good idea to seek out interaction with other humans (being lonely is boring).

Connections are important in the world of business. Young entrepreneurs need mentors to guide them toward a promising future, and seasoned executives seek partners to further strengthen existing foundations. Think of who inspires you in your day-to-day life, or who might feed off of your actions for inspiration, and explore a simple relationship with them. It just might lead to a successful partnership, inside the vocational environment or outside of it.

Andrew Granatstein, an Honors College student studying aerospace engineering who is also a student in the McGuire Entrepreneurship Program, is one of four students selected as a 2015 UANews student columnist. The columnist initiative was launched in June by UANews and provides students the opportunity to share insights about the work and research they will be doing over the summer in various parts of the United States and abroad. It's the UA's 100% Engagement in action, and the students' experiences will prepare them to be real-world ready upon graduation.

Categories: Teaching and StudentsThis is a Wildcat Corner feature: Images: Tags: 2015 UANews Student ColumnistStudentsStudent Life.Byline: Andrew Granatstein, 2015 UANews Columnist |UANow Image: Editor: dougcarrollInclude in UANow: yesDate of Publication: Tuesday, July 21, 2015Medium Summary: Through his summer internship with Aztera, Andrew Granatstein recently had an opportunity to see the importance of collaborative work. Feature on Front: NoShort Summary: For startup aspirant Andrew Granatstein, collaboration makes the business world go round. Send to Never Settle Site: 0UA in the News Spotlight: Includes video: 

'Astronomical Art' at Flandrau

Fri, 07/17/2015 - 6:26pm

Visions of alien spacecraft, planetary discovery and strange new moons are part of a new exhibit, "The Heritage of Astronomical Art in Arizona," on display through Aug. 30 at the Flandrau Science Center and Planetarium on the University of Arizona campus.

The exhibit is sponsored by the Tucson chapter of the International Association of Astronomical Artists, or IAAA. The IAAA is a nonprofit organization whose members implement and participate in astronomical and space art projects, promote education about space art, and foster international cooperation in artistic work inspired by the exploration of the universe.

Members whose work is part of the exhibit include Earl Billick, Adam Block, Marilynn Flynn, William Hartmann, Theresa Hentz, Dinah Jasensky, Simon Kregar, Pamela Lee, Kim Poor, Mark Prusten, Michelle Rouch, Jim Scotti, Reid Silvern and Matthew Stricker.

Flandrau's hours are 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday through Thursday, 9 a.m. to 10 p.m. Friday, 10 a.m. to 10 p.m. Saturday and noon to 5 p.m. Sunday. For more information, call 520-621-4516. 

Video Thumbnail: Category(s): Arts and HumanitiesScience and TechnologyYouTube Video:  Heritage of Astronomical Art Video of Heritage of Astronomical Art Feature Sticky: OffFeature on Front: NoMedium Summary: Check it out: Arizona is home to many talented astronomical artists, and the UA's Flandrau Science Center and Planetarium is displaying the work of several.UANow Image: Date of Publication: Monday, July 20, 2015Send to Never Settle Site: 0Includes video: The story include video

Collaboration Deepens Between UA and Japan

Wed, 07/15/2015 - 7:09pm

A strengthened collaboration between the University of Arizona and Japan’s Institute of Space and Astronautical Science and the University of Tokyo was the result of a trip overseas earlier this month by a delegation from the UA and the Arizona Board of Regents.

The UA and ISAS are part of parallel missions designed to bring back asteroid samples that could hold clues to the formation of the solar system and the origin of life-seeding molecules on Earth. The UA leads the OSIRIS-REx mission under a contract with NASA. ISAS, which is part of the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency, or JAXA, leads the Hayabusa 2 mission.

Hayabusa 2, the successor to the first asteroid sample mission ever undertaken, in 2005, is already en route to the asteroid 1999JU3. It will be exploring that space rock at the same time that OSIRIS-REx, scheduled to launch in a little more than a year, will be exploring the asteroid Bennu.

Representatives of the two missions met last fall on the UA campus. But the recent visit has taken the relationship to another level, according to Tim Swindle, head of the UA’s Department of Planetary Sciences and Lunar and Planetary Laboratory, who went on the weeklong trip and said he envisions UA representatives and the Japanese shuttling back and forth every few months.

Also on the trip from the UA were President Ann Weaver Hart; Kimberly Andrews Espy, senior vice president for research; Mike Proctor, vice president of global initiatives; Jon Dudas, senior associate to the president; Buell Jannuzi, head of the Department of Astronomy; and Dante Lauretta, principal investigator for the OSIRIS-REx mission.

Eileen Klein, president of the Arizona Board of Regents, and Greg Patterson, vice chair of ABOR, also were part of the delegation.

The trip provided another example of how the UA has extended its global reach. In recent months, the University signed an agreement to be the preferred higher-education partner for Expo 2020 Dubai. It maintains other robust education and research-based partnerships with agencies and organizations in Mexico, Latin America and Cuba.

Swindle said that in addition to the things that the two asteroid missions will learn from each other, there is the possibility of working more closely on identifying other missions. Another collaboration will involve the UA’s Steward Observatory and the University of Tokyo Atacama Observatory, or TAO, in work on a 6.5-m infrared telescope.

However, OSIRIS-REx and Hayabusa 2 are front and center for now.

Hayabusa 2 "will get there a little before OSIRIS-REx gets to Bennu," Swindle said. "But both missions will be at their asteroids at the same time. As Dante Lauretta puts it, the Japanese are jumping off the cliff first."

The missions could yield similar data from similar asteroids, but they are tricky.

"The sampling will be difficult," Swindle said. "Each mission has the ability to try more than once. The Japanese will learn, and we’ll learn from watching them. We’ll share nuts and bolts on analyzing data."

Editor: dougcarrollByline Affiliation: University Relations – CommunicationsHeader image: YesNo Image: Subheading: Recent overseas visit by a University delegation indicates that the relationship will extend beyond the parallel asteroid-sample missions of OSIRIS-REx and Hayabusa 2.Include in UANow: yesInclude in Olympic Coverage: noFeature on Olympic Page: noUANow Image: Includes video: 

Museum Fellow Immersed in Native Artifacts Case

Wed, 07/15/2015 - 3:15pm

Native American fellow Alexandra Nahwegahbow (left), PEM Curator of Native American Art and Culture Karen Kramer and Native American fellow Ashley Tsosie-Mahieu (Photo: Allison White/PEM)

For my friends who have known me while I worked at the Arizona State Museum this year, they have heard me talk about "museum emergencies." If I were to set up a lunch date with a colleague or friend, I would make sure to be in close proximity to ASM in case a "museum emergency" arose. Often, I probably was being overly dramatic or perhaps feeling (unwarranted) self-importance. However, as with any job, there were times when I was essentially on call or just needed to be nearby in case one of my supervisors needed assistance.

Over the past few weeks at the Peabody Essex Museum, or PEM, in Salem, Massachusetts, the Native American Art and Culture Curatorial staff — as well as PEM senior administrators — underwent what I would consider a bona fide museum emergency.

For the past 75 years, PEM has been housing more than 1,100 artifacts for the Andover Newton Theological School, or ANTS, including 158 works attributed to Native American and Native Hawaiian cultures.

While ANTS has been in legal possession of this collection, it recently demanded that the artifacts be returned, removing them from PEM's protection and making them inaccessible to the Native tribal nations for whom they represent. Communication between the school and museum indicates that the school intends to auction off these artifacts to private individuals for profit.

The situation gets more complicated because it may involve the Native American Graves Protection and Repatriation Act, or NAGPRA, a federal law requiring institutions who receive federal funding to enter into a dialogue about the possible return of specific cultural items and human remains to affiliated, federally recognized American Indian tribes or Native Hawaiian organizations. ANTS may receive federal funding; if it does, it may not be in compliance with NAGPRA, as it has not yet submitted any summaries or inventories of its collection (PEM is not responsible for doing so on its behalf). If ANTS does not receive federal funding, the only issue at hand would be the sale of these items.

Because PEM is committed to treating Native American and Native Hawaiian peoples, communities and cultures equitably — in addition to obeying federal law — PEM staff, including my supervisor Karen Kramer, curator of Native American art and culture, has been diligently sending out email and snail-mail communications to more than 200 Native American tribal leaders representing approximately 120 of the 560-plus federally recognized tribal nations within the U.S.

Since many of the cultural items in the ANTS collection are not necessarily affiliated with one specific tribal nation, this was no small undertaking. We searched the national NAGPRA database for hours trying to locate all of the tribal nations who may be affiliated with particular items and who would be interested in having their ancestral belongings protected and/or repatriated (no human remains are in the collection).

After sending out notices to the tribal representatives, we have received much positive feedback. Many tribal officials who responded can claim cultural affiliation to particular items and are interested in challenging ANTS' possession and sale of their cultural items. Many of these tribal representatives have written official letters to ANTS administration and to the national NAGPRA office, requesting that the ANTS sale be promptly investigated and that the office look into whether ANTS receives federal funding.

Only time will tell the outcome of this delicate situation. It is up to national NAGPRA to make the determination whether ANTS must comply with NAGPRA. Federally recognized tribes can work to build a case that their tribal nations are affiliated with particular items and that the items are culturally significant, but ultimately national NAGPRA must declare that ANTS is subject to NAGPRA and whether the school is in compliance. 

As a Native person, it is incredibly important for me to make sure that the appropriate tribal representatives are notified of this situation. It is imperative that tribal and community leaders know that their cultural items are in danger of being exploited and misused and that they have the power to prevent the sale of any sacred item — and also the capacity to have those items returned to them.

This museum emergency occurred in the midst of our planning and preparation for PEM's major "Native Fashion Now" exhibition, which involves selecting mannequins and mounts for close to 100 artistic works, creating the interactive digital artist moodboards, and conceptualizing the design and look of the galleries. Kramer and I had to drop everything we were working on and focus on our museum emergency for several days.

Featured clothing is by Orlando Dugi, a designer in the upcoming PEM exhibition "Native Fashion Now," which will open in November 2016. (Photo: Larry Lamsa via Flikr)

If anything, this experience has taught me what it's like to roll with the punches and exude grace under pressure. Under Kramer's wing, I have begun to understand more and more the everyday stresses and rewards of being a curator at a major museum. Providing Native American students with practical museum experience is one of the primary goals of the PEM fellowship. It doesn't get any more practical than a legitimate museum emergency.

For more specific information on allegations of failure to comply with NAGPRA, visit the national NAGPRA site.

Ashley Tsosie-Mahieu, a doctoral student in the UA's American Indian Studies program, is one of four students selected as a 2015 UANews student columnist. The columnist initiative was launched in June by UANews and provides students the opportunity to share insights about the work and research they will be doing over the summer in various parts of the U.S. and abroad. It is the UA's 100% Engagement initiative in action, and the experiences will prepare the students to be real-world ready upon graduation. 

Categories: Social Sciences and EducationTeaching and StudentsThis is a Wildcat Corner feature: Images: Tags: 2015 UANews Student ColumnistStudentStudent LifeByline: Ashley Tsosie-Mahieu, 2015 UANews Student Columnist |UANow Image: Editor: dougcarrollInclude in UANow: yesDate of Publication: Wednesday, July 15, 2015Medium Summary: Ashley Tsosie-Mahieu, a doctoral student in the UA's American Indian Studies program, tries to make sense of a legitimate "museum emergency" in Massachusetts.Feature on Front: NoShort Summary: Ashley Tsosie-Mahieu encounters a legitimate "museum emergency" as an intern. Send to Never Settle Site: 0UA in the News Spotlight: Includes video: 

UA Surgeon Taking on 'Medjacking'

Wed, 07/15/2015 - 11:56am

It's the stuff of prime-time TV drama: Terrorists hack into a vice president's pacemaker and assassinate him with electrical shocks to the heart.
 
While the storyline is a work of fiction, the potential for "medjacking" — or malicious medical device hacking — is real.
 
Dr. David G. Armstrong, professor in the University of Arizona Department of Surgery, is joining forces with the U.S. Department of Homeland Security, the U.S. National Security Council, NASA and other government agencies and industry leaders to create strategies to keep the world safe from medjacking.
 
Armstrong, a podiatric surgeon and the director of the UA's Southern Arizona Limb Salvage Alliance, is the lone medical academician on the Cybersecurity Standard for Connected Diabetes Devices Steering Committee, which meets for the first time July 20 and 21 in Bethesda, Maryland.
 
The UA is well-represented on the committee with the inclusion of Hsinchun Chen, a UA Regents' Professor and the Thomas R. Brown Chair of Management and Technology in the UA Eller College of Management, who also is director of the UA Artificial Intelligence Lab.
 
While devices associated with diabetes are the initial focus, Armstrong said the committee is expected to examine the security of other medical devices.

"As connected devices become more pervasive and powerful, the potential for malicious medical device hacking is becoming increasingly real," Armstrong said. "Medical devices — insulin pumps, pacemakers, artificial hearts, left ventricular assist devices, artificial pancreas constructs — are susceptible to the same unintentional or intentional and nefarious interruption and invasion as are bank accounts, ATM machines and credit-card devices.”
 
While medjacking currently exists in the imagination and in laboratories, Armstrong said it is only a matter of time before the issue "comes front and center."
 
"No one really thinks about these things until there is catastrophic failure," he said. "These sorts of hacks are definitely feasible, and reasonably clever people without a lot of resources can do some serious damage. We are trying to get out in front of this problem."
 
The challenge for the Cybersecurity Standard for Connected Diabetes Devices Steering Committee is to mitigate danger without stifling innovation. Armstrong said patients must be confident in the safety of their medical devices, and companies must be secure that they are investing millions of dollars in technology that is safe from cyberattack.
 
The committee will examine how key elements included in embedded systems within devices can make them less susceptible to failure or malicious or unintentional breech.
 
The committee was formed after Armstrong collaborated on the manuscript "The Regulation of Wireless Devices for Performance and Assurance in the Age of 'Medjacking'" with UA cardiologist Dr. Marvin J. Slepian, professor of medicine and biomedical engineering and a member of the Sarver Heart Center; David N. Kleidermacher, BlackBerry chief security officer; and Dr. David Klonoff, a California diabetologist who chairs the Diabetes Technology Society. The manuscript, currently under review by medical publications, proposes setting guidelines for medical device cybersecurity and would be the first in medical literature to use the term "medjacking," Armstrong said.
 
With manuscript in hand, Klonoff helped establish the Cybersecurity Standard for Connected Diabetes Devices Steering Committee. Members include representatives from Homeland Security, the U.S. National Security Council, the U.S. Food & Drug Administration, NASA, the National Institute of Standards and Technology, the National Institutes of Health and the U.S. Department of Defense. Also on the committee are industry leaders from Bayer, BlackBerry, Medtronic and Sanofi, as well as academic engineers and mathematicians.
 
Armstrong predicts efforts could inspire collaboration among UA faculty resulting in invention, intellectual property and new businesses.

"The greater story is this falls right into the UA's Never Settle strategic plan, wherein clinicians and scientists come together with people from industry and the government to innovate and develop the next generation of technology to help people navigate their world and make life better," he said.
 
Discussion has swirled around the concept of medjacking for years.

"Since at least 2012, we have been talking about the impending merger of medical devices with consumer electronics," Armstrong said. "Even the most advanced medical devices are similar to the things we have in our pockets or in our hands — iPhones, tablets, home computers."
 
For that reason, we all have various IP addresses in or on us, which can make us susceptible to cyberattack. "These are all parts of what we call the 'Internet of Things,'" Armstrong said.
 
The conversation heightened in December, when brothers-in-law Armstrong and Kleidermacher, the new chief security officer for BlackBerry and one of the world's top experts in embedded systems security, discussed the issues while walking their dogs.

They looped Slepian and Klonoff into the conversation during that same walk, and the collaboration took off.
 
"We want guidelines in place so we can assure people that their medical devices are safe," Armstrong said. "Medjacking will ultimately have its 15 minutes of fame, but we are trying to get out in front of those 15 minutes so we can focus on the promise and not the peril."

Editor: dougcarrollWriter: Jo Marie BarkleyByline: Jo Marie BarkleyByline Affiliation: UA Department of SurgeryHeader image: YesNo Image: Subheading: Dr. David G. Armstrong has joined an elite committee studying medical device cybersecurity.Include in UANow: yesInclude in Olympic Coverage: noFeature on Olympic Page: noUANow Image: Includes video: 

On the Battlefield of Alzheimer's

Tue, 07/14/2015 - 6:16pm

The early 1970s was a time of precipitous change: The Beatles were breaking up; Vietnam was exploding; four students were killed and nine wounded during a protest at Kent State; the Watergate scandal emerged; and the lead singer of the Doors, Jim Morrison, was found dead in a bathtub in Paris.

Bye-bye, Miss American Pie.

At Fairfield University in Connecticut, the Jesuit school where I studied for two years, I vigorously demonstrated against the war and a surfeit of inequalities that sadly linger. Right or wrong, we shut down the school, then spent months on the road in an unremitting door-to-door campaign to edify on our principles.

As baby boomers, we first played by the rules, then broke the rules, then made new rules. We took no prisoners. Battle fatigued, I was looking for a way out. I found it at Gates Pass. The view from this rocky, chiseled crest of the Tucson Mountains — about 3,000 miles and, culturally, a planetary system away from Cape Cod's Great Outer Beach where I roamed as a boy, a place, Henry David Thoreau said, one can stand and put all of America behind him — was, and still is, soothing to the soul.

I came to the University of Arizona in 1970 to study history, government, psychology and journalism, and to put all of America behind me.

The quiet innocence of the Tucson Basin, as sunset floods the valley, is piercing to the mind. Lined with a platoon of inspiring saguaro cactus that stand like soldiers on the watch, with the Santa Catalina Mountains to the northeast, the Rincon Mountains to the east and the Santa Rita Mountains to the south, it boasts idyllic thinking weather for a confused person trying to find himself amid the folly of the real world.

Today, 42 years later, I am still confused.

At age 59, I was diagnosed with early-onset Alzheimer's disease after a serious head injury that doctors say unmasked a disease in the making. Years ago, I had a front-row seat as Alzheimer's devoured my maternal grandfather and my mother. Now it's coming for me. And so I'm pushing back like a battering ram against the stereotype that Alzheimer's is merely the horrid, inevitable final stage. While the end stage is devastating, the beginning and middle stages are a lonely, painful journey, the long kiss goodbye that often begins 15 to 20 years before diagnosis, with vile symptoms akin to having a sliver of your brain shaved off every day.

Alzheimer's robs one of self; it infantilizes. This could be your story someday. Don't assume it won’t. The numbers don't lie. More than 5 million Americans have been diagnosed with Alzheimer's or a related dementia, and about 35 million people worldwide — numbers expected to triple in years to come.

And today, I'm getting even with Alzheimer's — not for me, but for my children, for you and your children, and for all those who will face this demon prowling like Abaddon.

Read Greg O'Brien's full story, "On the Battlefield of Alzheimer's," on the UA Alumni Association's site. O'Brien graduated from the UA in 1972. He was a journalist for more than three decades, and in 2014 he published "On Pluto: Inside the Mind of Alzheimer's," which offers a first-person account of an investigative reporter embedded in the mind of the disease, chronicling the progression of his condition.

Categories: HealthThis is a Wildcat Corner feature: Images: Tags: AlumniByline: Greg O'Brien |UANow Image: Editor: dougcarrollInclude in UANow: yesDate of Publication: Friday, July 17, 2015Medium Summary: When veteran journalist and UA alumnus Greg O'Brien was diagnosed with Alzheimer's disease, he fought back with one of his strongest weapons: his ability to tell and share stories. Feature on Front: NoShort Summary: UA alumnus Greg O'Brien writes about how he copes with Alzheimer's disease. Send to Never Settle Site: 0UA in the News Spotlight: Includes video: 

Old Main Receives LEED Certification

Tue, 07/14/2015 - 12:01pm

The Old Main renovation project at the University of Arizona has received yet another important award: The building has been certified LEED silver by the U.S. Green Building Council. 

Old Main, at 123 years the oldest building in Arizona to receive LEED certification, joins numerous other LEED-certified buildings at the UA.

"Achieving a LEED Silver certification on this historic and iconic building is a very significant achievement, accomplished through the dedication and diligence of our entire design and construction team," said Peter Dourlein, the UA's assistant vice president of Planning, Design and Construction.

LEED certification is a globally recognized mark of achievement in green building design and construction.

"This is yet another great example of the University's leadership and commitment to sustainability," Dourlein said.

The Green Building Council provides an independent, third-party review and verification of how sustainable or green a building is designed and constructed. Other UA buildings, and their certification, include:

  • The Student Recreation Center, which has a LEED platinum rating.
  • UA residence halls Árbol de la Vida and Likins, which each achieved LEED platinum certification.
  • The Arizona Biomedical Collaborative at the Phoenix Biomedical Campus, which has a LEED gold rating.

The $13.5 million Old Main renovation project was completed in May 2014. The historic structure was stabilized, restored and brought up to current code compliance with modernized building systems that increased the building's energy efficiency. The useful and functional life of Old Main has been extended and the building has been restored to prominence in the Tucson community.

"Some of the major energy users in any institution are buildings," said Rodney Mackey, associate director of Planning, Design and Construction at the UA.

"The University of Arizona has a deep commitment to sustainability, so by pursuing LEED certification, we are striving to meet a level of sustainability that might otherwise not be a focus," Mackey said.

Old Main's renovation was led by the UA and teams from architectural firm Poster Frost Mirto Inc. and design-builder Sundt Construction Inc.

"There was an enormous amount of effort put in by all members of the team to get us to this point," Mackey said. "The UA, Poster Frost Mirto and also Sundt — all are passionate about sustainability, so it was a perfect synergy of interests. We are very pleased, very proud of the fact that we have achieved LEED silver."  

In addition to LEED certification, the renovation project already had received these awards:

  • The 2015 Governor's Heritage Preservation Grand Award
  • The Tucson-Pima County Historical Commission's Historic Preservation Award
  • Design-Build Institute of America's Western Pacific region Design-Build award
  • The National Award of Merit in Rehabilitation, Renovation and/or Restoration from the Design-Build Institute of America 
Editor: dougcarrollByline Affiliation: University Relations - CommunicationsExtra Info: 

Read more UANews.org coverage of Old Main:

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KEYS Unlocks STEM Success

Mon, 07/13/2015 - 7:12pm

The KEYS High School Summer Internship Program provides hands-on research opportunities to talented students from diverse backgrounds. By introducing the students to all facets of science research at the University of Arizona, KEYS — which stands for Keep Engaging Youth in Science — fosters knowledge, skills and confidence and helps with the formulation of degree and career goals.

KEYS interns enroll at no tuition cost during their summer break for a week of intensive laboratory and science literacy training, followed by six weeks in the lab of a UA researcher.

The program, which began in 2007, is an example of the UA's focus on accelerating student interest in science, technology, engineering and mathematics — the STEM fields. It is co-directed by staff at the BIO5 Institute and the Southwest Environmental Health Sciences Center at the UA College of Pharmacy, relying on financial support from foundation, corporate and UA sponsorships, as well as contributions from individual donors.

KEYS concludes annually with a research showcase, where students present their results to their families, UA scientists and program sponsors.  This year's showcase will be at 9 a.m. Friday at Banner-University Medical Center Tucson.

Video Thumbnail: Category(s): Science and TechnologyTeaching and StudentsYouTube Video:  KEYS High School Summer Internship Program Video of KEYS High School Summer Internship Program Feature Sticky: OffFeature on Front: NoMedium Summary: Go inside the summer internship program that brings high school students to the UA campus to discover what science research is all about.UANow Image: Date of Publication: Monday, July 13, 2015Send to Never Settle Site: 0Includes video: The story include video

Thinning Is In: UA Works to Tame Wildfires

Mon, 07/13/2015 - 3:23pm

Nearly $3.5 billion is spent annually in fighting wildfires that claim lives, destroy homes and scorch the land.

Wildfires today are burning twice as many acres than they were 40 years ago, according to federal officials. Contributing to the devastation in Arizona are dense forests of spindly trees that cause fires to rage out of control.

Thinning the forest is critical in preventing wildfires, and University of Arizona Cooperative Extension, part of the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences, is working with landowners to thin ponderosa pines on their land and implement other fire-wise practices.

"The biggest problem we have is too many trees," said Tom DeGomez, regional specialist and area agent for UA Cooperative Extension in Coconino and Mohave counties in northern Arizona.

"The denser the forest is, the more likely a crown fire is to occur, sweeping through the tops of trees," DeGomez said. "All of the big, devastating fires in Arizona since the Dude Fire in 1990 have been crown fires."

A crown fire advances with great speed along the tops (or crowns) of trees, often independent of a ground fire.

Since 2002, Cooperative Extension has worked with about 525 landowners in Coconino County to thin trees on 2,800 acres, in most cases by removing half the trees.

"This is absolutely preventing forest fires," DeGomez said.

When trees densely populate the land, they compete for water, sunlight and nutrients, making them weak in a state plagued by drought. Thinning trees creates healthier pines that are less susceptible to fire and better protected from the tree-killing bark beetle.

Cooperative Extension agents meet with residents to educate them about the importance of thinning trees and other strategies to reduce the likelihood of dangerous fires. Through federal grants, Cooperative Extension helps landowners in Coconino County with half the cost of tree thinning, which averages about $1,000 an acre.

On average, an acre of Coconino County forest is home to 300 spindly ponderosa pines, averaging about 8 to 14 inches in diameter. With more water, light and room to grow, pines can grow to up to three feet in diameter.

"Our main goal is to get these forests back to where we were in the 1850s, dominated by large old trees," DeGomez said.

Century of Decline in Forest Health 

Northern Arizona forests were a timber gold mine in the 1800s. Starting in about 1880, robust, towering trees were thinned through logging.

"That’s what built Phoenix and the railroads and everything else in the state," DeGomez said.

In 1907, a U.S. Forest Service Experimental Station was set up outside of Flagstaff, in large part to determine why new trees were not growing on the cleared lands.

"But in 1918 and 1919, we had an amazing seed crop and we had amazing weather," DeGomez said. "Most of the forest you see when you come above the rim — those trees were born in 1918 and 1919."

The forests were not thinned as they should have been, and some acres now have as many as 1,500 trees — "some the size of your forearm, all nearly 100 years old," DeGomez said.

The dense forest makes for tall, slender trees that are susceptible to spreading a crown fire.

Cooperative Extension, which takes the UA's land-grant mission to every county in the state, educates forest dwellers about the benefit of thinning trees.

"What’s important is for a neighbor to see another neighbor’s property get thinned," DeGomez said. "Sometimes property owners think we just want to kill all their trees. Then they see the property across the street get thinned, and they think, 'Wow, that looks really good.'

"The other thing that happens is more grasses will come up, more wildflowers will come up, because more sunlight is reaching the forest floor and the beautification of the forest is amazing."

Wayne Marx, who lives in the heavily wooded Sherwood Forest Estates in Williams, initially was resistant to having his trees thinned.

Coming from Tucson, the thought of removing a tree "was like cutting off a limb of my own," Marx said. But after realizing the benefits and working with Cooperative Extension and others, he removed 400 trees from his two-acre property over three years.

"It has a more open feeling," said Marx, now fire chief for his neighborhood’s volunteer fire department. "The fire danger is way down, and now that sunlight can get in, it has encouraged the natural grasses. We have even more wildlife."

Agents work with landowners to implement other fire prevention practices, including keeping yards clear of debris, incorporating appropriate landscape plants a safe distance from buildings, cleaning gutters, making sure limbs from flammable trees are not near homes, and keeping firewood at a safe distance.

Efforts in Navajo County

Stephen Campbell, area associate agent for Cooperative Extension in Navajo County, said fire-prevention strategies are being carried out through the Community Wildfire Protection Plan.

"We’re not going to prevent forest fires entirely, but I think the most important aspect that is going on right now is education," Campbell said. "People are buying into the process at the community level, within homeowners associations and within communities that are embedded in the forest."

He gave the example of the White Mountain Summer Home Association and its board of directors, which developed guidelines that include tree thinning and other fire-prevention practices.

"Residents are probably the most critical element that you have in forest fire prevention," Campbell said. "When you have a resident who implements a process on their property that is going to break up the continuity of the fuel on the ground and take out fuel that carries the fire into the tops of trees, and they talk to neighbors about it — that is where you make a difference."

Editor: dougcarrollByline: Gabrielle FimbresByline Affiliation: UA College of Agriculture and Life SciencesExtra Info: 

For more about thinning practices for forest health and fire prevention, see http://extension.arizona.edu/sites/extension.arizona.edu/files/pubs/az13....

 

Header image: YesNo Image: Subheading: Cooperative Extension agents show Arizona landowners that a strategy of thinning their ponderosa pines contributes to a healthier, safer forest.Include in UANow: yesInclude in Olympic Coverage: noFeature on Olympic Page: noUANow Image: Includes video: 

Pluto Returns to Public Popularity

Mon, 07/13/2015 - 12:32pm

On Tuesday, NASA's New Horizons mission spacecraft is set to reach Pluto and will send back the first-ever close-up photos of the famous dwarf planet. 

To celebrate this astronomy milestone, the University of Arizona's Flandrau Science Center and Planetarium, in collaboration with the Lunar and Planetary Laboratory, is hosting "Pluto Week," which will include a live video feed of NASA's New Horizons "Phone Home" event, talks, laser light shows and film screenings.

Bill Plant, UA Flandrau Science Center exhibits director, and Michael Magee, senior technical director at Flandrau Science Center, share some of the most interesting tidbits about the once-classified planet.

"Pluto: Another Global View," an artist's concept of Pluto. (Image: NASA/Johns Hopkins University Applied Physics Laboratory/Southwest Research Institute)

What is Pluto?

For many years, Pluto was known as the ninth planet and the most distant one in the solar system. 

But in 2006, astronomers reclassified Pluto as a dwarf planet because they realized that there were several other similar-size objects in deep orbit around our sun. 

How long does it take to get to Pluto?

The time it will take the New Horizons spacecraft to reach Pluto is around nine years.

Its speed of over 36,000 mph makes it the fastest spacecraft to leave Earth's orbit. That's more thaan 100 times faster than your average jet airliner.

Pluto is not a particularly hospitable place, with temperatures hovering around minus-375 degrees Fahrenheit.

"New Horizons" (Photo courtesy of the Flandrau Science Center)

Could there be life on Pluto?

Alan Stern, NASA New Horizons principal investigator, explains that the surface of Pluto is extremely cold.

"But inside the planet, as you go deeper and deeper and the pressure increases from the ice and rock that's above you, the material does reach a temperature, where, if there's water-ice, it can liquefy and become an ocean on the inside of Pluto, much like Europa and other worlds that we’ve discovered," Stern says.

"And if there's an ocean, then there’s a possibility of biology."

Size comparisons (Image courtesy of Flandrau Science Center)

Say cheese!

Pictures sent back from the New Horizons spacecraft will take about 4.5 hours to reach Earth, traveling at the speed of light.

The closest star beyond our solar system is more than four light-years away. 

How large is Pluto?

Pluto is much smaller than Earth, and even smaller than the moon.

Pluto is about two-thirds the size of Earth’s moon, but it is the largest object in the Kuiper Belt, a band of rocky objects that orbits the sun at the edge of the solar system and is named after Gerard Kuiper, the astronomer who founded the Lunar and Planetary Lab at the UA. Also, Pluto has less than 1 percent of the mass of the Earth.

So, if you weigh 180 pounds on Earth, you would weigh only 11 pounds on Pluto.

Pluto and Charon (Image: NASA/Johns Hopkins Applied Physics Laboratory/Southwest Research Institute)

Pluto's moons

We know that Pluto has five moons, but it could have even more. In fact, three of Pluto's moons were discovered only in recent years.

Pluto's moon Charon is more than half the size of Pluto itself, which led astronomers to originally classify the Pluto-Charon system as a "double planet."

Scientists also considered them "binary planets" because the smaller Charon does not actually orbit around Pluto; rather, Pluto and Charon orbit a common gravitational center.

Contact: Michael Magee at mvmagee@ns.arizona.edu; for more information about Flandrau Science Center and Planetarium, visit www.flandrau.org or call 520-621-4516.

Categories: Science and TechnologyThis is a Wildcat Corner feature: Images: Tags: ResearchEducationByline: UA Flandrau Science Center |Editor: dougcarrollInclude in UANow: 0Date of Publication: Monday, July 13, 2015Medium Summary: As New Horizon provides the closest-ever flyby of the dwarf planet, the UA campus community is celebrating the occasion. Feature on Front: YesShort Summary: As we prepare to see the first-ever detailed "close-up" images of icy Pluto, this is what we know about it. Send to Never Settle Site: 0UA in the News Spotlight: Includes video: 

UA Researchers Reveal Elusive Molecule

Sat, 07/11/2015 - 1:06pm

Scientists at the University of Arizona have discovered a mysterious molecule with a structure simple enough to make it into high school textbooks, yet so elusive that chemists have argued for more than a century over whether it even exists.

And, like so many important discoveries in science, this one started out with a neglected flask sitting in a storage fridge, in this case in the lab of Andrei Sanov, a professor in the UA's Department of Chemistry and Biochemistry.

Sanov and two of his students report the first definitive observation and spectroscopic characterization of ethylenedione, or "OCCO," representing two carbon monoxide molecules chemically bound together. According to the researchers, the interest in this deceptively "simple" compound is fueled by many reasons: from its assumed role as a fleeting intermediate in a flurry of chemical reactions to its alleged properties as a wonder drug.

Forgoing the past synthetic strategies that relied on the manipulation of neutral species, two students in Sanov’s laboratory created OCCO from its negatively charged ion and used a highly advanced technique called photoelectron imaging spectroscopy to analyze the product. This technique uses laser pulses to eject electrons from molecules, effectively yielding "a portrait of the molecule viewed from within," as Sanov put it.

The results confirm the existence of the elusive species and reveal its important fundamental properties, with implications not only for the basic understanding of so-called radical molecular species, but also industrial processes and potentially even atmospheric chemistry and climate modeling.

Molecule Has Vexed Generations

Chemists have pursued the OCCO molecule off and on since 1913, when its existence was first suggested. In the 1940s, at a particularly controversial turn in OCCO's history, it was claimed to be the active component of Glyoxylide, a purported antidote for a long list of afflictions, from exhaustion to cancer. The claims were classified as fraud by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, because the wonder drug proved to be nothing but water. Nonetheless, to this day the myth of Glyoxylide as a "lost" cancer remedy continues to be perpetuated on the Internet.

According to Sanov, one of the motivations for pursuing ethylenedione is the elegant fundamental puzzle that the molecule presents: Most students with elementary chemistry education can draw the straightforward structure, O=C=C=O. Over the years, the anticipated existence of OCCO also has been backed by predictions of sophisticated theory. However, all past studies failed to provide conclusive experimental evidence that ethylenedione exists — and therein lay the puzzle.

"We are not talking about some complex compound here," Sanov said. "This is a small molecule with only four atoms and an 'obvious' structure. Shouldn't modern science be able to tackle it?"

The key to the mystery is the unstable nature of the OCCO, which tends to split into two carbon monoxide (CO) fragments after half a nanosecond or so. OCCO is what chemists call a diradical. Radicals and diradicals play exceptionally important roles in controlling the mechanisms and outcomes of chemical reactions, involved in all aspects of life, industry, technology and environment.

"Radicals and diradicals are all around us," Sanov said. "Think of them as molecules with unpaired electrons that are 'underemployed' and looking for action. This means that they are eager to react, because the making and breaking of chemical bonds is controlled by electrons. A radical is a molecule that has one such 'underemployed' electron. A diradical has two."

From a spectroscopist’s point of view, OCCO's properties leave the molecule with no reason to evade detection, he explained.

"And yet, it had never been observed, neither as a substance nor as a transient species, despite a century-long history of attempts," Sanov said.

A Nearly Forgotten Flask 

Until now. More precisely, until the day when Andrew Dixon, a soon-to-be fifth-year doctoral student in Sanov's lab and the lead author of the paper, opened the fridge and spotted a flask labeled "Glyoxal."

"We started with a general interest in diradical systems and as part of those experiments, we decided to purchase some glyoxal, a precursor that is widely used in industrial applications but has not been explored as a potential synthesis molecule because its high water content makes it very difficult to work with," Dixon said. "Once we had bought it, we looked at it and I remember thinking, 'Oh man, this has 60 percent water. Let's figure this out some other day.'"

During a conversation with a colleague, Dixon became aware of a compound that functions as a "molecular sieve," stripping the glyoxal solution of its high water content.

"Once we had it in the gas phase so we could analyze it in our mass spectrometer, it turned out to be a good sample to work with, giving nice signal intensity," Dixon said. "We tried to find a name for the molecule that we were making, and a Wikipedia search pulled up ethylenedione. That's when we noticed it was something new." 

"We tried to rule out every other possible solution," said co-author Tian Xue, who will be a senior undergraduate student in the fall, "to make sure it wasn't some other anion that could pose as OCCO."

To snap a "portrait" of the elusive species, they then unleashed lasers of short duration and precisely defined energies onto the molecules they produced.

"We can create a beam of ions, and as they travel into the mass spectrometer, different molecules travel at different speeds, which allow us to separate out our ion of interest," Dixon explained. "In our window of interest, we can pulse the laser right when the expected OCCO anion is passing through."

Using the laser pulses, Dixon and Xue were able to shoot off excess electrons from the stable anion of ethylenedione. They then captured photoelectron images of the quantum states of the resulting neutral OCCO at the very beginning of the molecule’s lifespan, which lasts only about half a nanosecond.

"This seems very short by human standards, but is in fact a long lifetime in the molecular realm," Sanov said.

'Unknown Player' in Atmosphere? 

In light of the fact that glyoxal, OCCO's precursor molecule, plays a big role in atmospheric chemistry, Dixon speculates on the possibility that OCCO itself might also play a role, with potential implications for the modeling of atmospheric processes.

"Given that glyoxal, its precursor, is a known pollutant and byproduct of combustion processes, whether man-made or natural, and given that OCCO seems to be a trivial molecule to create in our methodology, it is possible that it too could result from such processes, which, if true, could make it an unknown player in the atmosphere," Dixon said. "And if you don't know there is a species that you should be accounting for, your model will never be completely correct."

"One important result of our work is the end of the long-standing controversy surrounding the existence of this molecule," Sanov said. "The theoretical predictions were correct — the transient OCCO diradical does exist. We have finally found it."

Editor: dougcarrollWriter: Daniel StolteByline: Daniel StolteByline Affiliation: University Relations – CommunicationsHeader image: YesNo Image: Subheading: A long-standing chemistry puzzle has been solved, with potential implications ranging from industrial processes to atmospheric chemistry. Include in UANow: yesInclude in Olympic Coverage: noFeature on Olympic Page: noUANow Image: Includes video: 

Researchers Probe Contemplative Topics

Fri, 07/10/2015 - 3:58pm

Scientific and public interest in the impact of contemplative practice has rapidly grown, generating an abundance of questions about meditation, yoga and similar traditions.

To serve as a forum for dialogue between scientists and practitioners, University of Arizona graduate students of psychology Tucker Peck and Autumn Wiley-Hill in 2008 founded the Arizona Meditation Research Interest Group, or AMRIG, to promote interest in interdisciplinary meditation research and dissemination of meditation-related findings to the UA community.

AMRIG, a graduate-student-led organization of the UA consisting of faculty and students, as well as members of the Tucson community at large, seeks to answer a range of questions, such as:

  • What can these practices reveal about human neurobiology, human behavior or the nature of consciousness?
  • What are the implications of these practices for clinical science or education?
  • How can traditional contemplative practices add to our understanding of modern science?

Since AMRIG's inception, more than a half-dozen graduate students in the UA Department of Psychology have conducted dissertation research on topics related to contemplative science, with six of these students receiving funding for their work through the Mind and Life Institute's Varela Award.

Wiley-Hill received a Francisco J. Varela Award to fund her research on the effects of mindfulness meditation on self-control failure. This work has led to several local presentations, including one at the Mind and Life Summer Research Institute, and also dissertation research on attention bias modification. Wiley-Hill is finalizing her work for publication.

Peck's research focuses on how meditation affects the sleeping brain, as well as short-term and long-term changes in brain waves associated with meditation. His research also was funded by a Varela Award and is under review for publication.

Deanna Kaplan, AMRIG’s president and a doctoral student in the Department of Psychology, investigates the processes and outcomes associated with practicing meditation in people's everyday lives. Kaplan has presented preliminary findings about the behavioral manifestations of mindfulness at the Mind and Life Summer Research Institute. She also is developing a smartphone app in collaboration with the organization HopeLab that will enable research about the immediate and cumulative effects of different kinds of contemplative practices on mood and state of mind.  

Deanna Kaplan (Photo: Beatriz Verdugo/UANews)

Clinical psychology doctoral student Angelina Polsinelli is studying the cognitive, emotional and functional associations of mindfulness in older adults. Polsinelli also is developing an objective measure of mindfulness, a project funded by the Mind and Life Institute's 1440 award. Polsinelli was the 2015 recipient of AMRIG's Marlatt-Salzberg Travel Grant Competition. The annual competition assists students and early-career scholars in pursuit of the scientific study of contemplative practice. Named for G. Alan Marlatt and Sharon Salzberg, whose speaking engagements supported the grant, the award funds the recipient's attendance at an academic conference related to contemplative science. The competition is open to students, postdocs, staff and alumni of all Arizona state universities.  

Lindsey Knowles is a clinical psychology student working with assistant professor of psychology Mary-Frances O'Connor in the Grief Loss and Social Stress Lab. Knowles recently received a Varela Award to use a mindfulness-based intervention to study yearning and grief-specific rumination as mediators of grief outcomes in bereaved individuals. 

Early on, AMRIG hosted speakers from the local community and its board members prepared presentations for the group.

AMRIG's core aim is to continue to support contemplative science research on campus by providing a forum for sharing ideas with UA researchers as well as teachers and practitioners in the Tucson community. The group continues to sponsor lecture and discussion events, and it also offers on-campus secular meditation classes.

With growing and consistent attendance, AMRIG has branched out to invite speakers and teachers from beyond Tucson. Speakers address a breadth of subjects relevant to the cross-fertilization of modern science and contemplative practice. They include established professionals as well as students who come to present their research ideas for interdisciplinary feedback.

On July 19, the group will host a daylong workshop, "Equanimity: The Balance Born of Wisdom,” with Sharon Salzberg, a writer and meditation teacher and also co-founder of the Insight Meditation Society in Barre, Massachusetts. The workshop will help ground the practice of equanimity, which can be experienced as a spacious relationship with impermanence, through discussion and guided meditation. Salzberg is a regular contributor to The Huffington Post and is the author of several books, including the New York Times best-seller "Real Happiness: The Power of Meditation."

Al Kaszniak, the recently retired head of the UA Department of Psychology, speaks at an AMRIG event during the spring semester of 2015. (Photo Beatriz Verdugo)

Also, AMRIG offers a six-week "Introduction to Mindfulness" course each semester, taught by group board member Blake Ashley (Kaishin), who also teaches meditation for the Tucson Community Meditation Center, the city of Tucson and Pima County Employee Wellness Programs. AMRIG co-sponsors the UA Student Wellness Conference, a series of presentations and workshops designed to introduce University students to secular meditation, yoga and breathing practices, as well as the scientific research behind such practices.

As interest in contemplative science and its role in education grows at the UA, AMRIG hopes to provide other forums for discussing and building ideas and sharing findings. AMRIG’s connections to the Tucson community position it well to serve in this role. 

Deanna Kaplan is a doctoral student in the UA Department of Psychology. Kaplan also serves as president of the Arizona Meditation Research Interest Group. Autumn Wiley-Hill is a doctoral candidate in the Department of Psychology and co-founder of AMRIG. To learn more about AMRIG or to get involved, visit the group's website or Facebook page. Also, email azmeditationresearch@gmail.com with a request to be added to the group's listserv. 

Categories: Campus NewsSocial Sciences and EducationThis is a Wildcat Corner feature: Images: Tags: StudentsResearchEducationOutreachByline: Deanna Kaplan and Autumn Wiley-Hill, the Arizona Meditation Research Interest GroupEditor: dougcarrollInclude in UANow: 0Date of Publication: Friday, July 10, 2015Medium Summary: A research group launched by UA graduate students supports contemplative science research on campus. Feature on Front: NoShort Summary: What are the benefits of yoga and meditation? A student-led research group seeks answers. Send to Never Settle Site: 0UA in the News Spotlight: Includes video: 

A Dream 3.7 Billion Miles in the Making

Thu, 07/09/2015 - 4:04pm

In January 1986, as NASA's Voyager 2 space probe flew by Uranus and radioed the first close-up images of the hazy green gas giant back to Earth, a little girl was watching the images on the TV screen, mesmerized.

At the time, Veronica Bray was 5 and had no idea that she would one day join the University of Arizona Lunar and Planetary Laboratory, or LPL, as an associate staff scientist. She didn't even know that the job of a planetary scientist existed. What she did know was that she wanted to do "something spacey with rocks" some day.

"I pictured myself standing in mission control while images were coming down from a world no one had ever seen," she says, "and I was the only one in that room and the first human to see those pictures."

In 1989, Voyager 2 reached Neptune, Bray had turned 8 and her vision had solidified.

"The giant gas planets had caught my attention," she remembers. "I wanted to know, 'Why does Uranus look green? Why does Neptune look blue? What is it that creates that difference?'"

'King of the Kuiper Belt'

Fast forward 25 years, and Bray finds herself as close to fulfilling her childhood dream as she ever will be. As a science team member of NASA's New Horizons mission, Bray is part of what some have called "the final frontier" in solar system exploration. On Tuesday, New Horizons will zip past Pluto, taking the first close-up images of what formerly was known as the ninth planet from the sun but now is officially classified as a dwarf planet.

Scientists such as Bray, however, prefer to refer to Pluto as "King of the Kuiper Belt," and there certainly is nothing small about this mission.  

The Kuiper belt is a vast region of space that stretches way beyond the orbit of Neptune and is believed to contain remnants from the formation of the solar system.

"Think of the Kuiper belt as the 'comet version' of the asteroid belt," Bray says. "While the asteroid belt contains objects that are mostly rocky, the Kuiper belt contains objects that are mostly icy. It's where the short period comets come from."

Even though the Kuiper belt is often pictured as myriads of chunks tumbling through space, the region consists mostly of empty space.

"The objects are so far apart that they don't impact each other often enough to accrete to form a planet," Bray says.

After spending almost 10 years traversing a 3.7-billion-mile abyss of space that would take more than six millennia to complete in a car driving 65 mph, the New Horizons spacecraft will reach the Pluto system — consisting of the King and five lesser moons known as Charon, Hydra, Nix, Styx and Kerberos — on Tuesday, allowing humankind to watch a fuzzy ball turn into an actual world.

During the two weeks of New Horizons flying through the Pluto system, the science team will gather each morning at the mission headquarters at Johns Hopkins University's Applied Physics Laboratory to make sure the mission gathers as much scientific data as possible. For Bray, the mother of a 4-month-old, this means dialing in every morning at 5 a.m. Arizona time.

Craters Tell a Story

In lieu of sufficient NASA funding, Bray was able to join the mission team thanks in large part to a professional development grant funded by LPL. As one of the experts in impact cratering, she will help interpret scans of Pluto's surface for evidence of craters.

"Because I do computer simulations of impacts, I tend to think of the process visually," she says. "I see it happening in my simulations, and that allows me to interpret the shape of crater a bit differently from someone who, say, looks only at images taken of actual craters."

The team will use data from two cameras aboard the New Horizons probe, the Long Range Reconnaissance Imager, or LORRI, and the Multispectral Visible Imaging Camera, or MVIC.

Scientists know that Pluto has water ice and methane ice, and, depending on the time of year, a thin coating of nitrogen ice, which wafts off to become its atmosphere once the dwarf planet travels through the warmer reaches of the solar system on its 248-year trip around the sun.

Asked about what to expect in terms of craters dotting — or missing from — Pluto's icy crust, Bray shrugs and says, "I don't really know, because the impact velocity in the Pluto system is much slower than in the inner solar system."

The farther objects are from the sun, the slower they orbit, Bray explains. Because of that, and because Pluto is small and has weak gravity, objects don't accelerate as much before they hit, resulting in crater-formation dynamics that could be very different from what they are around larger bodies and closer to the sun.

"If there were no, or few, craters on Pluto, it would mean it is active enough to be reshaping itself," says Bray, who has been working with icy craters for a long time, studying them on Earth, the moon, Mars and the icy moons of Saturn. "I'm hoping to see a crater on Pluto that will upset everything we think we know about them."

Solving a Rubik's Cube

Already, it's all hands on deck for the New Horizons team, but once the spacecraft begins beaming back data from its encounter with Pluto and its moons, the scientists will scramble to make sense of the incoming information.

"We want to get an idea of the age of the surface units we will see as quickly as possible," Bray says. "We'll compile the image data into a large mosaic, and we'll mark out the different geologic units that we recognize. As soon as we get data from the composition team, we can draw units based on not only what they look like but also what their composition is, and then we will count craters and assign approximate ages to the different parts of the surface."

Once stereo images become available, Bray and her team will be able to create terrain models and measure how deep the craters are, revealing clues about Pluto's surface consistency and how the impact velocity affects the depth of craters.

"I'll be struggling to pull out the information about what made the craters as they are," Bray says. "If there is any subsurface activity, the heat flow will make the craters shallower. Figuring out what makes a crater look like it does is like solving a Rubik's Cube."

Because Pluto and its largest companion, Charon, probably formed during a cataclysmic impact event, Pluto is expected to have leftover heat in its presumed rocky core. That heat, and the heat from radioactive decay of elements in its core, could potentially melt water underneath the dwarf planet's frozen shell, resulting in geysers on the surface. Such cryovolcanism also has been observed on Neptune's moon Triton, a suspected captured Kuiper belt object and currently our best analogy to Pluto.

"Pluto is the last world in our solar system that we have not yet imaged up close," Bray says, "and this time, I can stand in mission control and watch."

Editor: dougcarrollWriter: Daniel StolteByline: Daniel StolteByline Affiliation: University Relations – CommunicationsAdditional Keywords:  Header image: YesNo Image: Subheading: UA planetary researcher Veronica Bray will help unravel the mysteries of Pluto after NASA's New Horizons spacecraft beams back the first-ever close-up pictures of the dwarf planet. Include in UANow: yesInclude in Olympic Coverage: noFeature on Olympic Page: noUANow Image: Includes video: 

A Preview of Pluto Week

Wed, 07/08/2015 - 5:01pm

For years, Pluto was known as the ninth planet and the most distant one in the solar system. But in 2006, astronomers reclassified Pluto as a dwarf planet because they realized that there were several other similar-size objects in deep orbit around our sun. Pluto is about two-thirds the size of the Earth’s moon, but it is the largest object in the Kuiper Belt, a band of rocky objects that orbits the sun at the edge of our solar system. The Kuiper Belt is named after Gerard Kuiper, the astronomer who founded the Lunar and Planetary Lab at the University of Arizona.

On Tuesday, NASA’s New Horizons spacecraft will reach Pluto, and soon it will send back the first-ever close-up photos of the famous dwarf planet. The UA's Flandrau Science Center and Planetarium, in collaboration with the Lunar and Planetary Lab, will celebrate the milestone by hosting Pluto Week, including the premiere of "Exploring New Horizons," a new FullDome planetarium show about the New Horizons mission.

The show’s premiere will be at 5 p.m. Tuesday, followed at 6 by a live NASA event next door at the Lunar and Planetary Lab, when the New Horizons spacecraft will re-establish contact with mission control. Then on Saturday, a special Summer Science Saturday event at LPL will feature family-friendly activities and lectures about Pluto, dwarf planets and asteroids.

Other showings of "Exploring New Horizons" at Flandrau are scheduled for 3 p.m. Wednesday and Thursday; 7 p.m. Friday; noon, 5 and 8 p.m. Saturday; and 3 p.m. Sunday. For more information about Pluto Week: http://flandrau.org/events/pluto-week.  

Video Thumbnail: Category(s): Science and TechnologyYouTube Video:  Flandrau Pluto Week Video of Flandrau Pluto Week Feature Sticky: OffFeature on Front: NoMedium Summary: Historic close-up photos of the dwarf planet are expected soon, and the UA's Flandrau Science Center and Planetarium is celebrating with the show "Exploring New Horizons."UANow Image: Date of Publication: Wednesday, July 8, 2015Send to Never Settle Site: 0Includes video: The story include video

Dancer Finds Body-Earth Connection

Wed, 07/08/2015 - 12:57pm

UA junior Elizabeth Sutton dances in the beautiful studios at Perry-Mansfield, a performing arts school. (Photo: Elena Carter)

"Elizabeth, I have a feeling we’re not in Tucson anymore," I thought to myself.

Steamboat Springs, Colorado, felt just as foreign as the Land of Oz must have felt to Dorothy and Toto. Instead of the rocks and desert of the Southwest, there were lush green trees, deep blue skies and mountainous landscapes perched approximately 6,695 feet above sea level. The start of this new experience was somewhat terrifying, yet exciting at the same time.

After a four-hour bus trip from Denver International Airport through the mountains, I took a look around what would be my home for the next two weeks: the 102-year-old Perry-Mansfield Performing Arts School and Camp, home to a summer dance program that is rich in history. Famous alumni include Dustin Hoffman, Agnes de Mille, Merce Cunningham and Jessica Biel. The camp started off training dancers, but now the programs include dance, theater, creative writing and equestrianism. The setting is remote: Students stay in cabins nestled in the woods and spend their days perfecting their art while immersed in nature.

While I was hesitant about this new camp lifestyle, I jumped in enthusiastically at the start of the first day of dance classes. I knew that pushing through the uncomfortable times would help me grow by leaps and bounds.

Students travel from across the country to participate in summer intensives at Perry-Mansfield. (Photo courtesy of Elizabeth Sutton)

I went through rigorous dance training every day in the dance studios of Perry-Mansfield, looking out onto the beautiful landscape of Colorado through floor-to-ceiling windows. I started my mornings with Pilates, and then took ballet and modern technique classes. After lunch, I took jazz and partnering classes, followed by rehearsal for approximately five hours every evening, often ending at 9. In our rehearsals, we constructed a nine-minute piece and eventually performed the dance in the final showcase on the last day of camp. I am proud to say that I had the honor of performing a solo and a duet with Ryan Dervin, a fellow dancer from the University of Arizona, during the nine-minute production.

Every day I was exhausted and my body could barely keep up, partly because the altitude made it hard for me to get enough oxygen. It pushed my body to its physical and mental limits, and as a result I am stronger than ever before.

Being at Perry-Mansfield allowed me to work with and learn from a varied group of professionals in the field of dance. My teachers included Thang Dao and Roger C. Jeffrey, both Juilliard-trained dancers who currently work as choreographers in New York.

 

UA students Ryan Dervin and Elizabeth Sutton dance in the mountains of Steamboat Springs, Colorado. Both are completing an intensive there at Perry-Mansfield. (Photo: Missy Daiker)

I also got to work with Tammy Dyke-Compton, an assistant professor at the UA School of Dance. She is an alumna of Perry-Mansfield and has been a teacher there for five years. It was her recommendation of the program that encouraged me to attend, along with five other UA dancers. Attending this camp enabled me to network with choreographers and dancers in the hope of working with them again in the professional world.

In addition to dancing, I went riding through the mountains on a horse named Trout. During camp, I also got the opportunity to watercolor, roast marshmallows and make s'mores, visit the scenic town of Steamboat Springs and go hiking in the wilderness.

One of my favorite activities was visiting the famous Strawberry Park Hot Springs, a natural whirlpool bath created by geothermal heat. While sitting in the hot springs, I was able to look around at the beautiful woods and when day turned to night, it was so dark that I could stare into the sky at a seeming infinity of stars. The experience was magical.

I am so grateful for having had the opportunity to train at Perry-Mansfield this summer. It helped me grow in my dance technique, in my artistic voice, and as a young artist following her dream.

Elizabeth Sutton, a junior in the UA School of Dance, is one of four students selected as a 2015 UANews student columnist. The columnist initiative was launched in June by UANews and provides students the opportunity to share insights about the work and research they will be doing over the summer in various parts of the United States and abroad. It is the UA's 100% Engagement in action, and the students' experiences will prepare them to be real-world ready upon graduation.

Categories: Arts and HumanitiesTeaching and StudentsThis is a Wildcat Corner feature: Images: Tags: StudentsStudent Life2015 UANews Student ColumnistByline: Elizabeth Sutton, 2015 UANews Student Columnist |UANow Image: Editor: dougcarrollInclude in UANow: yesDate of Publication: Wednesday, July 8, 2015Medium Summary: UA dance major Elizabeth Sutton completes intensive training at a Colorado performing arts school and camp whose alumni include Dustin Hoffman and Jessica Biel. Feature on Front: YesShort Summary: UA dance major Elizabeth Sutton has been in Colorado for rigorous training this summer. Send to Never Settle Site: 0UA in the News Spotlight: Includes video: 

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