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Arizona Now Campaign Co-Chairs Prove Opposites Really Do Attract

Thu, 05/15/2014 - 13:07

It may not seem like a 6-foot-2-inch CEO and avid sports fan from Phoenix would have a whole lot in common with a Tucson philanthropist who stands just above 5 feet tall and loves attending dance performances (or Science lectures).

Yet Jeff Stevens and Sarah Smallhouse have a lot more in common than meets the eye – most notably a passion for promoting and advancing the University of Arizona through generous time and financial commitments.

Because of their dedication, Stevens and Smallhouse were asked to serve as co-chairs for the UA's Arizona Now fundraising campaign. The campaign, which aims to raise $1.5 billion in gifts and commitments, is the largest fundraising campaign in the University's history.

Arizona Now has three main areas of giving, which are enhancing the student experience, supporting innovative thinkers like faculty and researchers, and expanding the UA's reach, including improving the UA experience for community members in Arizona and around the world. Funds will go toward supporting the UA's Never Settle strategic plan initiatives, which aim to advance UA research, boost the state's economy and provide real-world experiences to all students. The UA has already raised $859 million through donations that came in before the campaign's public phase. (Read more about the Arizona Now campaign in this UANews article and see highlights from the launch in this video.)

In the days leading up to the April 11 launch of the Arizona Now campaign, Stevens and Smallhouse bonded over their belief that the UA has much to offer on a local, state and global scale.

"We are polar opposites in so many ways," Stevens said. "But I think that's what makes Sarah and I such a great team. I'm very excited about the role of co-chair. I feel like our goals are very achievable. It's going to take a lot of work, but I think we've got the right people in the right places to make it successful."

As co-chairs, Stevens and Smallhouse will serve as spokespeople for the UA during the course of the campaign and serve as the face of the campaign alongside UA President Ann Weaver Hart.

"We wanted co-chairs who could lead by example and be credible," said James H. Moore Jr., president and chief executive officer of the UA Foundation, a comprehensive development program that generated more than $151 million in private gift and grant support for the University last fiscal year.

Stevens is president and CEO of Western Refining and Western Refining Logistics, based in El Paso, Texas. In 2009, Stevens and his wife, Sharon, gifted $10 million to Arizona Athletics, which was the single largest gift in the history of UA athletics.

Stevens said he's motivated to give back to the UA to make a difference for future generations of Wildcats. The Arizona Now campaign is the perfect opportunity to highlight some of the outstanding people and programs that make the UA so unique, he said.

"My time and my wife's time at the UA was very special to us," Stevens said. "I think it's important for us to give back because we received so much when we were there." Stevens met his wife at the UA in the 1980s while he was pursuing his bachelor's degree in communication.

Moore said he feels Stevens was a perfect choice to help lead a campaign that will take the UA to another level of excellence.

"He's a hands-on guy, he loves to win and he wants to be successful," Moore said. "He is willing to go out and be an active champion to try to get others to follow. That is going to be important for us in this campaign, having somebody who is willing to really get in the trenches with us."

Smallhouse is no stranger to the philanthropic trenches, either. She is the daughter of Thomas Brown, who launched and sold the technology company Burr-Brown Corp. and established the family's commitment to philanthropy.

In addition to serving as the Arizona Now campaign co-chair, Smallhouse is also chair of the UA Foundation's board of trustees and is on the Thomas R. Brown Foundation's board of trustees. The Brown Foundation has supported multiple UA colleges and departments through endowments in areas including engineering, business and science, and in support of various aspects of campus life including scholarships, research, faculty and the new engineering innovation building.

"Sarah is extremely well-connected in this community," Moore said. "She also has a tremendous rapport with a number of deans and faculty members on campus. She, her sister Mary and several of her Brown Foundation board members have been actively involved with a variety of campus programs and colleges for years."

To be an innovation company at the very leading edge of technology is not an easy thing, and a lot of the engineers that worked in the company came out of the UA, Smallhouse said.

"The way I look at being co-chair of the campaign, this is all icing on the cake," Smallhouse said. "This is the really fun stuff. It's about digging into what's happening on campus, making new friends, learning about research and getting to explore with potential donors about where their interests might align. I'm a people person, and the whole proposition is exciting to me."

Byline: Amanda BallardByline Affiliation: University Relations - CommunicationsHeader image: YesNo Image: Subheading: UA alumni Sarah Smallhouse and Jeff Stevens have united over their passion and support of UA initiatives by serving as co-chairs for the University's largest-ever fundraising campaign.Include in UANow: yesInclude in Olympic Coverage: noFeature on Olympic Page: noUANow Image: 

Hot Rods Overtake UA Mall

Mon, 05/12/2014 - 15:36
Date of Publication: Monday, May 12, 2014

Engineering Design Day Showcases Innovative Student Projects

Fri, 05/09/2014 - 12:58
Date of Publication: Friday, May 9, 2014

Vito Testifies on UA Student Vets Programs Before Congressional Subcommittee

Thu, 05/08/2014 - 10:40

The University of Arizona is committed to helping student veterans pursuing higher education, a UA official told a congressional subcommittee today.

Melissa Vito, senior vice president for student affairs and enrollment management and vice provost for academic initiatives and student success, testified before the House Committee on Veterans' Affairs Subcommittee on Economic Opportunity, sharing with subcommittee members and other panelists how the UA has increased its student veteran services over the last several years.

"At the University of Arizona, we recognize and appreciate the commitment and sacrifices made by our men and women who serve and have served in the armed forces, and are committed to making a college education a reality," Vito told the subcommittee, which invited the UA to participate in the hearing, titled "Defining and Improving Success for Student Veterans." (The full text of Vito's testimony is available here.)

Of the 40,621 students attending the UA, 1,317 are veterans. Between 2008 and 2013, the student veteran population doubled from 178 to 355 and usage of the center the UA created for veterans – called the Veterans Education and Transition Services Center – increased by 31 percent from fall 2012 to fall 2013, to more than 10,000 visits during that academic year.

The VETS Center was opened in 2008 to provide services specifically for student veterans. Originally located in Old Main, it moved to the Student Union Memorial Center in 2009 as demand rose.

The UA opened a second VETS Center on April 9 at the Arizona Health Sciences Center. The first of its kind in the nation, the new center provides support for veterans who are working toward degrees in health sciences.

"The VETS Centers offer individualized service to improve the experience of all veterans attending the University of Arizona," Vito said. "We provide a step-by-step 'in-processing' or 'on-boarding' guidance for student veterans who are applying or have been recently admitted to the institution. The VETS Centers foster a USO atmosphere, allowing veterans to study, relax and engage with other student veterans who have walked in their same boots."

Vito also discussed the UA's Disability Resource Center, which provides transitional resources to veterans. It received a congressionally directed Department of Education grant in 2008 and "since then has been a leader for disabled veterans in higher education, producing research-based best practices for use on college campuses," Vito said.

In 2012, the UA Department of Disability Studies in the College of Education, the Disability Resource Center and the UA's Veterans Education and Transition Services office obtained a grant from the Paralyzed Veterans of America to design an adaptive athletics and college learning camp for veterans with spinal cord injuries.

"Building upon the success of the project, we obtained another grant in 2014-2015 to replicate the college-learning component including the VETS Center and the Supportive Education for Returning Veterans curriculum," Vito said.

The classes within the SERV curriculum are compatible with the GI Bill and help new student veterans learn to navigate campus and integrate their military experiences into their college experiences. They are only offered to veterans.

The SERV program, Vito said, "has resulted in overall retention rates of over 90 percent for those student veterans enrolled in SERV classes versus 70 to 80 percent retention for those who have not taken SERV classes."

She also credited the efforts of the DRC for its research and engagement with student veterans. The center "has expanded our understanding that many veterans arrive on campus with a new injury or disability, and are often unfamiliar with the resources available to them," Vito said.

"As we explore what measures still need to be taken to ensure our student veterans are accomplishing their academic goals, I ask you to consider that the first six months of transition are crucial, and it is exactly that transition our Supportive Education for Returning Veterans program takes aim at addressing," Vito said.

Other officials who testified included: Michael Dakduk, vice president of Military and Veterans Affairs with the Association of Private Sector Colleges and Universities; William Hubbard, vice president of External Affairs with the Student Veterans of America; Ricardo Torres, president and CEO of the National Student Clearinghouse; and Thomas Ross, president of the University of North Carolina.


Editor: Pila MartinezByline Affiliation: University Relations - CommunicationsExtra Info: 

Andrea Smiley




Cody Nicholls

VETS Center


Header image: YesNo Image: Subheading: Senior Vice President Melissa Vito outlined the UA's efforts to support student veterans, including the VETS Centers on the main campus and the Arizona Health Sciences Center campus.Include in UANow: 0Include in Olympic Coverage: noFeature on Olympic Page: no

New Uniforms Mean Less Confusion at UAMC

Tue, 05/06/2014 - 15:18

The University of Arizona Health Network is celebrating International Nurses Week, May 6-12. This also marks the first week of a new uniform standard at the UA Medical Center. Under a new policy, scrubs are color coded according to a staff member's role, so that all the nurses wear the same color, all the physical therapists wear another, and so on. The practice is aimed at making it easier for patients and their families.

Video Thumbnail: Category(s): Campus NewsHealthYouTube Video:  New Uniforms Mean Less Confusion at UAMC Video of New Uniforms Mean Less Confusion at UAMC Feature Sticky: OffFeature on Front: NoMedium Summary: The University of Arizona Health Network is celebrating International Nurses Week, May 6-12. This also marks the first week of a new uniform standard at the UA Medical Center. Under a new policy, scrubs are color coded according to a staff member's role, so that all the nurses wear the same color, all the physical therapists wear another, and so on. The practice is aimed at making it easier for patients and their families.UANow Image: Date of Publication: Tuesday, May 6, 2014

Spring Season Blooms Allergies: May is National Asthma and Allergy Awareness Month

Mon, 05/05/2014 - 17:33

Recent advisories from the Pima County Department of Environmental Quality on the potential for elevated levels of wind-generated particulate matter serve as a reminder that May is National Asthma and Allergy Awareness Month.

"Every day is National Asthma and Allergy Awareness Month for me," said Dr. Tara Carr, assistant professor of medicine and director of the Adult Allergy Program for the Division of Pulmonary, Sleep and Critical Care Medicine at the University of Arizona College of Medicine – Tucson. Carr also is a clinician with the University of Arizona Health Network, seeing patients at the UA Medical Center – University Campus.

Carr is an expert in allergic rhinitis, or inflammation and irritation of the mucus membrane inside the nose; chronic rhinosinusitis; asthma; immunodeficiency; urticarial, or hives; angioedema, or swelling under the skin; anaphylaxis, or whole-body allergic reaction; and drug allergy. She conducts research on the role of immunodeficiency in chronic rhinosinusitis and asthma inflammation and treatment.

Carr and other experts at UAMC offer relief during the spring allergy season.

The Sinus and Allergy Clinic at the UA Health Network is the only facility in southern Arizona that offers a coordinated approach to nasal and sinus problems, providing the opportunity to see ear, nose and throat specialists and a board-certified allergist on the same day, speeding up the testing, diagnosis and treatment of nasal and sinus problems. In April, the Joint Commission informed the UAMC – University Campus that it had passed certification on disease-specific care for pediatrics asthma having earned a "Gold Seal of Approval" a year ago – one of only nine asthma programs in the U.S. to receive the designation at the time.

The Arizona Respiratory Center, a UA Center of Excellence, has a team of internationally renowned physicians, scientists and scholars seeking to understand and eradicate respiratory diseases.

The Valley Fever Center for Excellence offers assistance to patients and owners of companion animals who are seeking help with their Valley Fever infections. The center also offers services to health care professionals, scientists and others interested in learning more about this disease.

The Division of Pulmonary, Allergy, Critical Care and Sleep Medicine at the UA Department of Medicine houses several clinical programs and active pulmonary/critical care fellowship training programs. Physicians integrate clinically meaningful research, educational activities and patient-centered initiatives serving the hospitals and specialty clinics of the UA Health Network, the Tucson Veterans Administration and the community. In conjunction with the Arizona Respiratory Center, the division offers state-of-the-art research opportunities for patients, trainees and faculty members.

Some tips for the allergy season:

  • Monitor pollen and mold counts and stay inside when they're high.
  • After working or playing outdoors, take a shower, wash your hair and change your clothes.
  • Keep windows and doors shut at home and in your car during allergy season.
  • Use air conditioning, which cleans the air.
  • Avoid mowing the lawn or raking leaves or debris. If you have to do these chores, consider wearing a mask.
  • Take allergy medications as prescribed and start using them before symptoms begin. Be careful when using over-the-counter allergy medications because they can cause problems with sleeping and alertness.

Allergy vaccinations are another option. They slowly introduce your body to allergens so it learns to tolerate them rather than triggering an allergic reaction. These vaccinations can reduce symptoms of many allergies, prevent the development of new allergies and, in children, stop allergies from progressing to asthma.

Editor: Pila MartinezByline Affiliation: Arizona Health Sciences CenterHeader image: NoNo Image: Subheading: Research clinicians at the UA Medical Center offer relief during the spring allergy season.Include in UANow: yesInclude in Olympic Coverage: noFeature on Olympic Page: no

Building on Old Main’s Sustainable Foundation

Fri, 05/02/2014 - 15:28

Old Main was green before it was cool. As the restoration of the UA's first and oldest building continues, it's interesting to note that the building's exterior shows very little wear thanks to the sustainability-minded architect who drew up the plans for Old Main. Those features included shady porches that protected the core from more than a century of intense sun and drenching monsoons. They worked so well that the many of the original windows are in pristine condition. Architects are following in the footsteps of the original builders throughout the building’s restoration by bringing the lighting, cooling and electrical systems into the 21st century while keeping the charm of architect James Miller Creighton’s original vision.

Video Thumbnail: Category(s): Campus NewsRelated Story Link: Red, Blue and Green: Old Main Renovation Reflects UA Commitment to SustainabilityOld Main Renovation Reveals Hidden SecretsYouTube Video:  Building on Old Main's Sustainable Foundation Video of Building on Old Main's Sustainable Foundation Feature Sticky: OffFeature on Front: NoMedium Summary: Old Main was green before it was cool. As the restoration of the UA's first and oldest building continues, some features have proved to be in great condition, thanks to the sustainability-minded architect who drew up the plans for Old Main.UANow Image: Date of Publication: Friday, May 2, 2014

Innovation Deficit

Wed, 04/30/2014 - 13:35
Medium Summary: This infographic illustrates the "innovation deficit," the term used to describe the gap between needed and actual investments in research and education. While research and development spending in the U.S. continues to decline, other countries have dramatically increased theirs. Over the past 10 years, South Korea has increased its research and development spending by nearly 50 percent and China by nearly 90 percent.Date of Publication: Wednesday, April 30, 2014Story images: Infographic:  Close-the-Innovation-Deficit-Infographic.png

Playing Pool with Carbon Atoms

Wed, 04/30/2014 - 13:03

A University of Arizona-led team of physicists has discovered how to change the crystal structure of graphene, more commonly known as pencil lead, with an electric field, an important step toward the possible use of graphene in microprocessors that would be smaller and faster than current, silicon-based technology. 

Graphene consists of extremely thin sheets of graphite: when writing with a pencil, graphene sheets slough off the pencil's graphite core and stick to the page. If placed under a high-powered electron microscope, graphene reveals its sheet-like structure of cross-linked carbon atoms, resembling chicken wire.

When manipulated by an electric field, parts of the material are transformed from behaving as a metal to behaving as a semiconductor, the UA physicists found.

Graphene is the world’s thinnest material, with 300,000 sheets needed to amount to the thickness of a human hair or a sheet of paper. Scientists and engineers are interested in it because of its possible applications in microelectronic devices, in hopes of propelling us from the silicon age to the graphene age. The tricky part is to control the flow of electrons through the material, a necessary prerequisite for putting it to work in any type of electronic circuit.

Brian LeRoy, UA associate professor of physics, and his collaborators have cleared a hurdle toward that goal by showing that an electric field is capable of controlling the crystal structure of trilayer graphene – which is made up of three layers of graphene.

Most materials require high temperatures, pressure or both to change their crystal structure, which is the reason why graphite doesn't spontaneously turn into diamond or vice versa. 

"It is extremely rare for a material to change its crystal structure just by applying an electric field," LeRoy said. "Making trilayer graphene is an exceptionally unique system that could be utilized to create novel devices."

Trilayer graphene can be stacked in two unique ways. This is analogous to stacking layers of billiards balls in a triangular lattice, with the balls representing the carbon atoms.

"When you stack two layers of billiards balls, their 'crystal structure' is fixed because the top layer of balls must sit in holes formed by the triangles of the bottom layer," explained Matthew Yankowitz, a third-year doctoral student in LeRoy's lab in the Department of Physics in the UA College of Science. He is the first author on the published research, which appears in the journal Nature Materials. "The third layer of balls may be stacked in such a way that its balls are flush above the balls in the bottom layer, or it may be offset slightly so its balls come to lie above the holes formed by triangles in the bottom layer."

These two stacking configurations can naturally exist in the same flake of graphene. The two domains are separated by a sharp boundary where the carbon hexagons are strained to accommodate the transition from one stacking pattern to the other.

"Due to the different stacking configurations on either side of the domain wall, one side of the material behaves as a metal, while the other side behaves as a semiconductor," LeRoy explained.

While probing the domain wall with an electric field, applied by an extremely sharp metal scanning tunneling microscopy tip, the researchers in LeRoy's group discovered that they could move the position of the domain wall within the flake of graphene. And as they moved the domain wall, the crystal structure of the trilayer graphene changed in its wake. 

"We had the idea that there would be interesting electronic effects at the boundary, and the boundary kept moving around on us," LeRoy said. "At first it was frustrating, but once we realized what was going on, it turned out to be the most interesting effect." 

By applying an electric field to move the boundary, it is now possible for the first time to change the crystal structure of graphene in a controlled fashion.

"Now we have a knob that we can turn to change the material from metallic into semiconducting and vice versa to control the flow of electrons," LeRoy said. "It basically gives us an on-off switch, which had not been realized yet in graphene."

While more research is needed before graphene can be applied in technological applications on an industrial scale, researchers see ways it may be used.

"If you used a wide electrode instead of a pointed tip, you could move the boundary between the two configurations a farther distance, which could make it possible to create transistors from graphene,” Yankowitz said.

Transistors are a staple of electronic circuits because they control the flow of electrons.

Unlike silicon transistors used now, graphene-based transistors could be extremely thin, making the device much smaller, and since electrons move through graphene much faster than through silicon, the devices would enable faster computing.

In addition, silicon-based transistors are being manufactured to function as one of two types – p-type or n-type – whereas graphene could operate as both. This would make them cheaper to produce and more versatile in their applications.

The other contributors to the research paper, "Electric field control of soliton motion and stacking in trilayer graphene," include Joel I-Jan Wang (Massachusetts Institute of Technology and Harvard University in Cambridge, Massachusetts), A. Glen Birdwell (U.S. Army Research Laboratory, Adelphi, Maryland), Yu-An Chen (MIT), K. Watanabe and T. Taniguchi (National Institute for Materials Science, Tsukuba, Japan), Philippe Jacquod (UA Department of Physics), Pablo San-Jose (Instituto de Ciencia de Materiales de Madrid) and Pablo Jarillo-Herrero (MIT).

The study appears in the advance online publication of Nature Materials.

Editor: elizabethbakerWriter: Daniel StolteByline: Daniel StolteByline Affiliation: University Relations - CommunicationsHeader image: YesNo Image: Subheading: UA physicists have discovered how to change the crystal structure of graphene. The finding could lead to smaller and faster microprocessors.Include in UANow: yesInclude in Olympic Coverage: noFeature on Olympic Page: noUANow Image: 

Project Diversifies Voices in the National Public Sphere

Fri, 04/25/2014 - 12:08

The University of Arizona College of Social and Behavioral Sciences worked in partnership with community leader Ann W. Lovell, as well as the Women’s Foundation of Southern Arizona, to bring a project to Tucson that trains women to share their expertise and insights through editorials, a forum typically dominated by men.

The college introduced The OpEd Project to Tucson, launching the inaugural Arizona Public Voices Fellowship Program in 2013. The OpEd Project was established by New York City-based journalist and author Katie Orenstein to improve the quality and range of voices presented in public discourse by training women in editorial writing while also advancing them as thought leaders in their respective fields.

Since The OpEd Project was founded in 2008, women's representation in an index of top opinion forums has increased nationally by 40 percent. A full report of those numbers is available here.  

In Tucson, the yearlong fellowship is in line with the project and a national movement to create space for a greater variety of voices.

"There is a remarkable lack of diversity in highly respected editorial outlets, and there’s also a lot of junk and noise to be found on the Web," said John Paul Jones III, dean of the UA College of Social and Behavioral Sciences.

The OpEd Project notes that only 17 percent of The Wall Street Journal’s contributors are women. 

"The Arizona Public Voices Fellowship Program can hopefully improve the diversity and quality of information and discussion, and ultimately decision-making, not only in Southern Arizona, but nationally," Jones said.

The OpEd Project is based on a "mentor-editor" system that pairs participants with more than 85 professional writers. Work produced by participants has been seen and heard in outlets such as National Public Radio, Newsweek and the Washington Post.

Some participants of the national program have gone on to earn the Pulitzer Prize and write best-selling books. Others are professors at distinguished journalism schools.

Through the Tucson program, UA faculty members, local business leaders and community organizers have been trained in editorial writing. Those involved in the 2013-2014 program have produced more than one dozen editorials – published in local, national and international news outlets – covering topics related to college access, the need to support young women of color, fascist iconography in the Middle East and early brain development.

Diana Liverman, UA Regents’ Professor of Geography and Development, co-director of the Institute of the Environment and recent Guggenheim Fellow awardee, is one of the program's participants.

"The OpEd Project has helped me overcome my reluctance to use my 'public voice' in the media, to identify news hooks, to personalize my writing to make it more interesting, and to expand what I might write about," said Liverman, who has published two editorials.

Liverman wrote "Why Sun Belters Should Resist the Winter Weather Gloat" on the relationship between seemingly disparate local climates, which appeared in the Huffington Post.

Her second piece, on the symbolism surrounding wolves and their decimation in the wild, appeared in the online version of Pacific Standard: "The Wolves in Our Dogs: Are We Trying to Protect the Species Because They’re So Much Like Man’s Best Friend?"

Regina Deil-Amen, an associate professor at the UA Center for the Study of Higher Education, is also a fellow.

An expert on college student transitions who also explores strategies, challenges and success among lower-income university students, Deil-Amen also published a piece in the Huffington Post about the marketing of college to low-income families by for-profit institutions.

Jones said he was especially interested in helping to bring the OpEd Project to Tucson because of its fit with the public outreach mission of the UA. He and his team worked to involve women researchers in not only in the social sciences but also education, agriculture, medicine and other disciplines.

By involving University faculty, the program is intended to help them "become more impactful by taking their research-informed views to a public audience and thereby influence discussions and even policy," Jones said.  The effort has connected UA faculty with thought leaders in business, government and the non-profit sectors in Tucson.

"One key data point struck me as we discussed this project. I heard that no man has ever turned down the opportunity to do a live TED Talk, but many women have," he said. 

Some very accomplished women have difficulty accepting the fact that they are experts, or that their views might be welcomed in public conversations, Jones also said. 

"This self-silencing has a deep and complex history. We need to address it not by discounting men’s opinions, but by seeking ways to diversify and amplify the voices of those who are contributing to public debate," Jones said.

"Plus, even when women acknowledge that they are experts in a field, and even when they want to contribute, they seldom are provided the kind of specialized training that leads them to enter the public discussions with editorials in prestigious newspapers," he added. "That’s what OpEd provides – not the opinion itself or the research to back it up, but the training to take the implications of research into the public sphere."

Other 2013-2014 Tucson area fellows are:

  • Patti Caldwell, executive director of Our Family Services, has served locally, regionally and nationally in social services and social justice organizations since the late 1970s.
  • Ana Christina da Silva Iddings, associate professor of language, literacy and culture at the UA. She has been recognized for her teaching and work with Hispanic children and their families.
  • Dr. Mindy J. Fain, a professor at the UA College of Medicine and the executive director of practice innovation at the Arizona Health Sciences Center.
  • Judith Gans, Immigration Policy Program manager at the UA Udall Center for Studies in Public Policy. 
  • Isabel G. Garcia, Pima County legal defender and co-chair of the Coalición de Derechos Humanos, a Tucson-based grassroots organization that promotes respect for human and civil rights for those in the border region of the Southwest.
  • Maura Grogan has spent the past 20 years as an independent consultant, working with for-profit, nonprofit clients, native nations and native-focused enterprises.
  • Leila Hudson, associate professor and director of graduate studies for the UA School of Middle Eastern and North African Studies.
  • Daisy M. Jenkins is president of Daisy Jenkins & Associates, specializing in human Resources consulting and executive and developmental coaching.
  • Jill Koyama, assistant professor in educational policy studies and practice whose work focuses on inequities and injustices that inform and are constructed by education policy.
  • Ann W. Lovell, president of the David and Lura Lovell Foundation and executive director of The Valley Foundation. She is a certified public accountant with more than 30 years of experience in business, focusing on financial accounting and tax consulting.
  • Suzanne McFarlin, executive director and executive leadership coach for Greater Tucson Leadership, is a board certified coach specializing in executive and leadership coaching. Ellen McMahon, UA art professor.
  • Ann M. Mastergeorge, associate professor of family studies and human development and chair of the Early Childhood Initiative at the UA. She is a developmental scientist with expertise in typical and atypical development and trajectories in early childhood.
  • Colleen Meyer Niccum, vice president of education policy for the Southern Arizona Leadership Council, has invested more than 30 years of service as a communications executive and education advocate.
  • Laura Shaw, senior vice president of marketing and communications for Tucson Regional Economic Opportunities, has nearly 30 years of experience in strategic planning, messaging, marketing, communications and media relations.
  • Elise Collins Shields is the founder and chief executive officer of CommonWell Institute International, Inc., a nonprofit organization engaged in peace building, conflict transformation and creation of economic sustainability for women in conflict and post-conflict countries.
  • Sarah Smallhouse, president of the Thomas R. Brown Foundations. Smallhouse also chairs the UA Foundation board and serves on several other boards.
Editor: La Monica Everett-HaynesWriter: La Monica Everett-Haynes and Candice ChildressByline: La Monica Everett-Haynes and Candice ChildressByline Affiliation: University Relations - CommunicationsExtra Info: 

The OpEd Project will be holding a one-day session in Tucson on editorial writing. The June 28 event will be held 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. and is open to the public. Event details, registration costs and other information is available online. For more information, contact Laura Penny, executive director of the Women’s Foundation of Southern Arizona, at


A selection of editorials published since the launch of the Arizona Public Voices Fellowship Program:


Daisy Jenkins


Leila Hudson


Sarah Smallhouse


Ann M. Mastergeorge


Jill Koyama


Maura Grogan


Ana Christina DaSilva Iddings


Header image: YesNo Image: Subheading: The UA College of Social and Behavioral Sciences has brought The OpEd Project to Tucson. The national media outreach campaign trains women thought leaders to produce editorials. Include in UANow: yesInclude in Olympic Coverage: noFeature on Olympic Page: noUANow Image: 

Top Students in STEM Earn National Fellowships

Thu, 04/24/2014 - 16:38

Because they are considered to be among the nation's top students in science, technology, engineering and mathematics – the STEM fields – 22 University of Arizona students and alumni have been selected to receive funding through a highly competitive National Science Foundation fellowship program.

Nationwide, 2,000 students earned awards under the NSF's Graduate Research Fellowship Program, the largest graduate fellowship program of its kind in the nation. Currently, the UA has 50 fellows, the largest number in its history.

The fellowship is an important, highly competitive grant program for advanced students in STEM fields, providing an annual stipend of $32,000 and a $12,000 allowance to fund tuition and fees for graduate education and research over a three-year period. The UA Graduate College provides additional funding to cover the balance of tuition, fees, student health insurance and a UA travel grant.

"NSF fellows are anticipated to become knowledge experts who can contribute significantly to research, teaching and innovations in science and engineering," the NSF noted in a prepared statement. "These individuals are crucial to maintaining and advancing the nation's technological infrastructure and national security as well as contributing to the economic wellbeing of society at large."

Past recipients of the fellowship program include Nobel Prize winners, former U.S. Secretary of Energy Steven Chu and Google co-founder Sergey Brin.  Benjamin Blonder, who just finished his doctorate in ecology and evolutionary biology at the UA and founded the UA Sky School, was a recipient in 2010. In March, the White House named Blonder a Champion of Change.

"This isn't just for people who will be really good bench scientists," said Georgia Ehlers, fellowships and community engagement director in the UA Graduate College. "Students who have volunteer experience and bring their science to the community do especially well applying for this program."

The UA has a strong support system to help students through the application process, Ehlers said.

"To me, that is a point of attraction for students. Also, you see many of the same faculty and advisers mentoring students," she said, noting that the majority of recipients receive support through the Graduate College's structured programs for foundation fellowship applicants.

Of the 22 recipients, the 11 current students are:

  • Benjamin Rackham, astronomy graduate student
  • Richard Lee Johnson, geography graduate student
  • Molly Bloom, linguistic anthropology graduate student
  • Nicole Fischer, animal behavior graduate student
  • Casey David Mackin, a computational science and engineering undergraduate
  • Diana Knyazeva, chemistry graduate student
  • Margaret Landis, planetary sciences graduate student
  • Jose Miguel Rodas, family studies and human development graduate student
  • Joshua Scholl, ecology and environmental biology graduate student
  • Andrea Stevens, geosciences graduate student
  • Jessica Doehrmann, optical sciences graduate student

The number of UA students in the program is expected to grow in the coming months, as recipients select the schools where they will pursue graduate studies.

Rodas spent more than three months working on his application. "Receiving this fellowship means a lot to me. It means that my work is worthy of being recognized and implemented for further study."

His research focuses on ways cultural and societal influences shape family dynamics. In particular, he is working to understand how the the college environment shifts family dynamics for Hispanic students.

"It gives me a great satisfaction knowing that the foundation recognizes that this is an issue that is affecting our society," he said.

Johnson, a master's student in the School of Geography and Development, said the fellowship serves as validation of his work.

"It's the holy grail of graduate student funding. It offers extraordinary support to pursue our research interests and goals," Johnson said.

Johnson, a former Peace Corps volunteer and current Coverdell Peace Corps Fellow, investigates land dispossession in rural Guatemala resulting from migrant deportation and debt, especially as families increasingly take out risky, high interest loans to fund the move from Guatemala to the U.S.

"Land and houses are commonly used for loan collateral. So, when recent arrivals are detained and deported, or perish in the desert, they leave their families with astronomical debts and the very real threat of collateral seizure in places with extremely limited economic opportunities," Johnson said.

"Unsurprisingly, many of those who are deported to Guatemala with debts have no other recourse but to try to make it to the U.S. again, where they will be able to earn enough to pay off their initial loan," he said. "My research indicates that, contrary to their supposed objectives, border security and deportation policy and practice in some instances may actually drive migration. They aggravate a situation they allegedly seek to resolve."

Landis is a UA doctoral student studying planetary science with a research focus on impact cratering, especially on Mars. Ultimately, she plans to continue her research while also engaging in public outreach and education.

"Answering questions about Mars helps us to have a better understanding of how terrestrial planets can vary and change with time, which of course will lead to insights about the Earth," Landis said.

Landis said the fellowship will serve as both a positive affirmation and a window for new opportunities. 

"Having this experience early in my graduate career is very useful," she said. "On a more personal level, I've gotten confirmation that my ideas as a scientist make sense and can be articulated well, and that the NSF is behind me and my future science."

Editor: La Monica Everett-HaynesWriter: La Monica Everett-HaynesByline: La Monica Everett-HaynesByline Affiliation: University Relations - CommunicationsExtra Info: 

The next application deadline for the National Science Foundation Graduate Research Fellowship Program is in November 2014. The Graduate College offers workshops and other support for those applying for the program. The application is open to seniors and graduate students in the first and second years of their program. For more information, contact the college at 520-621-3471.

Header image: YesNo Image: Subheading: Nearly two dozen UA students have earned funding through the prestigious federally-funded Graduate Research Fellowship Program. Include in UANow: yesInclude in Olympic Coverage: noFeature on Olympic Page: noUANow Image: 

Tucson Mayor Celebrates Earth Day with UA’s Campus Arboretum

Tue, 04/22/2014 - 14:16

The UA Campus Arboretum hosted an Arbor Day event on April 22 to celebrate campus and community leaders for their excellence in promoting stewardship and conservation of urban trees. Tucson Mayor Jonathan Rothschild spoke about the city of Tucson’s 10,000 Trees Campaign and members of the arboretum taught attendees how to select and care for trees in the desert climate. Attendees also were given a special tour of the the wide variety of trees found on the UA campus. For more information visit:

Video Thumbnail: Category(s): Campus NewsYouTube Video:  Tucson Mayor Celebrates Earth Day with UA's Campus Arboretum Video of Tucson Mayor Celebrates Earth Day with UA's Campus Arboretum Feature Sticky: OffFeature on Front: NoMedium Summary: The UA Campus Arboretum hosted an Arbor Day event on April 22 to celebrate campus and community leaders for their excellence in promoting stewardship and conservation of urban trees. Tucson Mayor Jonathan Rothschild spoke about the city of Tucson’s 10,000 Trees Campaign and members of the arboretum taught attendees how to select and care for trees in the desert climate. Attendees also were given a special tour of the the wide variety of trees found on the UA campus. For more information visit: Image: Date of Publication: Tuesday, April 22, 2014

Project Reduces Homecoming's Environmental 'Pawprint'

Tue, 04/22/2014 - 13:38

Project Pawprint used innovative research and student engagement to enhance the sustainability of the biggest UA event held every year: Homecoming. During Homecoming 2012, students involved in Project Pawprint collected baseline data related to the environmental impact of the event's energy usage, travel and accommodations, food and materials. For Homecoming 2013, they used that data to reduce the impact by setting up more carpooling and public transportation options and helping food vendors switch from Styrofoam to paper plates so that composting could be an option.

Find out more about Project Pawprint here. To learn more about Homecoming, which marks its centennial this year, visit the Homecoming website.

Video Thumbnail: Category(s): Campus NewsYouTube Video:  Project Reduces Homecoming's Environmental 'Pawprint' Video of Project Reduces Homecoming's Environmental 'Pawprint' Feature Sticky: OffFeature on Front: NoMedium Summary: Project Pawprint used innovative research and student engagement to enhance the sustainability of the biggest UA event held every year: Homecoming. UANow Image: Date of Publication: Tuesday, April 22, 2014

UA Researchers are Creating Better Thermal-Imaging Lens From Waste Sulfur

Fri, 04/18/2014 - 12:24

Sulfur left over from refining fossil fuels can be transformed into cheap, lightweight, plastic lenses for infrared devices, including night-vision goggles, a University of Arizona-led international team has found.
The team successfully took thermal images of a person through a piece of the new plastic. By contrast, taking a picture taken through the plastic often used for ordinary lenses does not show a person’s body heat.
"We have for the first time a polymer material that can be used for quality thermal imaging – and that's a big deal," said senior co-author Jeffrey Pyun, whose lab at the UA developed the plastic. "The industry has wanted this for decades."
These lenses and their next-generation prototypes could be used for anything involving heat detection and infrared light, such as handheld cameras for home energy audits, night-vision goggles, perimeter surveillance systems and other remote-sensing applications, said senior co-author Robert A. Norwood, a UA professor of optical sciences.
The lenses also could be used within detectors that sense gases such as carbon dioxide, he said. Some smart building technology already uses carbon dioxide detectors to adjust heating and cooling levels based on the number of occupants.
In contrast to the materials currently used in infrared technology, the new plastic is inexpensive, lightweight and can be easily molded into a variety of shapes, said Pyun, associate professor of chemistry and biochemistry at the UA.
The researchers have filed an international patent for their new chemical process and its application for lenses. Several companies have expressed interest in the technology, he said.
Norwood and his colleagues in the UA College of Optical Sciences tested the optical properties of the new lens materials and found they are transparent to mid-range infrared and result in lenses with high optical focusing power.
The team's discovery could provide a new use for the sulfur left over when oil and natural gas are refined into cleaner-burning fuels. Although there are some industrial uses for sulfur, the amount generated from refining fossil fuels far outstrips the current need for the element.
The international team's research article, "New infrared transmitting material via inverse vulcanization of elemental sulfur to prepare high refractive index polymers," is published online in the journal Advanced Materials.
Pyun and Norwood's co-authors are Jared J. Griebel, Dominic H. Moronta, Woo Jin Chung, Adam G. Simmonds, Richard S. Glass, Soha Namnabat, Roland Himmelhuber, Kyung-Jo Kim, John van der Laan and Eustace L. Dereniak of the UA; Eui Tae Kim and Kookheon Charof Seoul National University in Korea; and Ngoc Nguyen and Michael E. Mackay of the University of Delaware.
Research funding was provided by the American Chemical SocietyPetroleum Research Foundation, the U.S. National Science Foundation, the National Research Foundation of Korea, the Korean Ministry of Education, Science and Technology, the State of Arizona Technology Research Initiative Fund and the U.S. Air Force Office of Scientific Research.
Norwood said the new plastic is transparent to wavelengths of light in the mid-infrared range of 3 to 5 microns – a range with many uses in the aerospace and defense industries.
The new lenses also have a high optical, or focusing, power – meaning they do not need to be very thick to focus on nearby objects, making them lightweight.
Depending on the amount of sulfur in the plastic, the lenses have a refractive index between 1.865 to 1.745. Most other polymers that have been developed have refractive indices below 1.6 and transmit much less light in the mid-range infrared, the authors wrote in their paper.
Pyun and colleagues reported their creation of the new plastic and its possible use in lithium-sulfur batteries in 2013. The researchers have filed patents for that technology as well and several companies are interested.
Pyun and first author Griebel, a UA doctoral candidate in chemistry and biochemistry, were trying to transform liquid sulfur into a useful plastic that could be produced easily on an industrial scale.
The chemists dubbed their process "inverse vulcanization" because it requires mostly sulfur with a small amount of an additive. Vulcanization is the chemical process that makes rubber more durable by adding a small amount of sulfur to rubber.
To make lenses, Griebel poured the liquid concoction into a silicone mold similar to those used for baking cupcakes.
"You can pop the lenses out of the mold once it's cooled," he said. "Making lenses with this process – it's two materials and heat. Processing couldn't be simpler, really."
The team's next step is comparing properties of the new plastic with existing plastics and exploring other practical applications such as optical fibers

Writer: Mari JensenByline: Mari JensenByline Affiliation: College of ScienceHeader image: YesNo Image: Subheading: A UA-led research team has developed a new use for the sulfur left over from oil and natural gas refining: made into a plastic polymer, the material can be made into cheap and lightweight lenses for infrared-light detection devices. Include in UANow: yesInclude in Olympic Coverage: noFeature on Olympic Page: noUANow Image: 

Arizona Now

Wed, 04/16/2014 - 09:59

Arizona Now, the largest campaign in the University of Arizona's history, aims to reach a $1.5 billion fundraising goal. The public phase of the campaign was launched on April 11 with events such as lectures from researchers, tours of key campus buildings and labs. There was also the Expo of Excellence, which showcased student and researcher projects. 

Video Thumbnail: Category(s): Campus NewsRelated Story Link: UA’s Arizona Now Campaign Aims to Raise $1.5 BillionYouTube Video:  Arizona Now Video of Arizona Now Feature Sticky: OffFeature on Front: NoMedium Summary: Arizona Now, the largest campaign in the University of Arizona's history, aims to reach a $1.5 billion fundraising goal. The public phase of the campaign was launched on April 11 with events such as lectures from researchers, tours of key campus buildings and labs. There was also the Expo of Excellence, which showcased student and researcher projects. UANow Image: Date of Publication: Wednesday, April 16, 2014

Research Proves Children Retain More Information When They've Napped After Learning

Tue, 04/15/2014 - 19:04

Sleep is essential in helping young children apply what they learn, according to new research by Rebecca Gómez, associate professor in the UA Department of Psychology. In this Q&A, she talks about her new work, which she presented at the Cognitive Neuroscience Society annual meeting in Boston on April 8 as part of a symposium on sleep and memory.

Dr. Gómez, in a nutshell, what is the goal of your research?

I look at how learning unfolds over time, with the goal of understanding how children learn overall. If we understand how infants and young children learn, if we understand the mechanisms of how the brain develops and supports learning, we will be in a better position to understand when learning goes awry. And obviously it is interesting in itself to understand how the brain develops. You have these little babies who are completely helpless when they're born, and by a year of age, they know words, they're standing and taking their first steps. How does the brain support that change? That's a mystery and the overall goal is to understand how they learn things like language and how memory develops over time.

Why do children as young as 6 months start forming rules about language, but don't talk for another year-and-a-half or so?

They can't. For one thing, their vocal apparatus is not developed enough, which is why we as adults have trouble understanding little kids when they start talking. It takes practice to articulate words. But through work by other researchers, we know that kids actually learn the meaning of some vocabulary as early as six months. At that age, they have a vocabulary of anywhere from 25 to 50 words. They learn common words like, say, hands and feet; they just can't articulate them.

They can understand the word "feet"?

They can. If you say 'feet,' they know what feet are; we can test that. They understand the meaning of very common things, which is remarkable. They are learning a lot about language long before they are ever taught. It's amazing. Less than 20 years ago, we didn't know kids could learn so rapidly and understand a lot more than they can say.

What experiments do you use in your research?

In our studies, the children listen to a made-up language they have never heard before. It's an artificial language with certain rules about how words are ordered, just like in a real language. The children listen to that for a short period of time, and then we test them by giving them new sentences from the artificial language that adhere to the rules, and sentences that violate the rules. We measure whether they can discriminate those two different types of stimuli.

Your study subjects can't express themselves like adults can. How do you work around that?

During the learning phase, the child is playing quietly while we expose them to recorded, spoken "sentences" of the artificial language over loudspeakers. They'd hear, for example, "Vot kicey jic. Pel wadim rud. Pel kicey rud." During those 8 minutes, they just get involved in their own thing, or they crawl around or play with toys. It is so amazing that all the while, they are learning. For the test, we take them to a booth where they are seated on their parent’s lap. To start the trial, we flash a light in front of the infant to get his or her attention. Then a light will flash off to the side, and as soon as the child looks in that direction, we start playing the language sample from that same side. We stop playback when the child looks away for two seconds. We do that for the duration of the test trials, and there will be an equal number of what we call legal test trials – following the grammar rules of the artificial language – and illegal test trials, where the rules are violated. We measure the average times of how long they keep their head turned toward the stimulus before they turn away.



In this research video, Rebecca Gómez’s team uses an established testing method known as the head-turn preference procedure to test subjects who are unable to express themselves verbally. 

What do you find?

The children listen longer to a legal string of words and turn away sooner when they hear an illegal string of words. They are discriminating between the two.

Why do you use an artificial language?

Because kids know so much about their language by the time we see them. So we have them listen to things they have never heard before if we want to study learning.

You just returned from a conference where you presented exciting results. Can you tell us more?

We found that sleep allows children to combine sentences that they hear spoken by other speakers. When we learn a language, we understand it regardless of who is talking to us. So one question we had was would children be able to generalize across talkers? If we gave the children three samples spoken in one female voice, and three examples spoken in a different female voice, they couldn't generalize when we tested them right after learning. But they can after sleep. It's like mom giving you a few different language examples, and grandma giving you a few other ones. Could you combine everything you were hearing? When we test the infants right after the learning phase, they don't seem to be able to do this, but after they nap, they can. This tells us that sleep is really critical for that learning to happen. The other important finding is that for generalization of language rules, even children as old as 3 years, an age when many of them transition out of naps, sleep seems to be really important for them to be able to generalize.

Does your research tell us about the role of sleep in adult learning?

It's still not completely understood why learning a second language is so difficult for adults. I think this work tells us it's the neural structures that kids have when they are very young that cause them to learn language in a very different way. A structure in our brain, the hippocampus, is critical for processing and storing new memories. In young children, the hippocampus is not completely connected with the other brain regions that are critical for learning. We think that young children learn more with their cortex. This makes them exceptionally good at learning the subtleties of sound patterns. As they become adults, the hippocampus takes over. This is a powerful, rapid-learning organ that may not be as dedicated to pattern learning as to other kinds of learning. Because learning the sounds of language, how they are distributed and ordered requires pattern learning, this could partially explain why we learn languages differently as adults.

Editor: Daniel StolteWriter: Daniel StolteByline: Daniel StolteByline Affiliation: University Relations - CommunicationsExtra Info: 

Interested in having your child contribute to science? If your child is between the ages of 3 and a half months and 3 and a half years, please contact the University ofr Arizona Child Cognition Lab at 520-626-0278 or visit the lab's website


Header image: YesNo Image: Subheading: Sleep is essential in helping young children apply what they learn, according to new research by Rebecca Gómez, associate professor in the UA Department of Psychology. In this Q&A, she talks about her new work, which she presented at the Cognitive Neuroscience Society annual meeting in Boston on April 8 as part of a symposium on sleep and memory.Include in UANow: yesInclude in Olympic Coverage: noFeature on Olympic Page: noUANow Image: 

Bobbi Brown Speaks at UA Global Retailing Conference

Mon, 04/14/2014 - 15:56

The University of Arizona's Terry J. Lundgren Center for Retailing hosted its 2014 Global Retailing Conference at Loews Ventana Canyon Resort April 10-11. About 300 people attended, including UA students and industry professionals. Speakers included UA alumnus and Macy's CEO Terry Lundgren, as well as Ken Langone, co-founder of Home Depot, and Bobbi Brown, founder of Bobbi Brown Cosmetics. For a full list of speakers and more information, visit

Video Thumbnail: Category(s): Business and LawRelated Story Link: UA Global Retailing Conference Announces 2014 PresentersYouTube Video:  Bobbi Brown Speaks at UA Global Retailing Conference Video of Bobbi Brown Speaks at UA Global Retailing Conference Feature Sticky: OffFeature on Front: NoMedium Summary: The University of Arizona's Terry J. Lundgren Center for Retailing hosted its 2014 Global Retailing Conference at Loews Ventana Canyon Resort April 10-11. About 300 people attended, including UA students and industry professionals. Speakers included UA alumnus and Macy's CEO Terry Lundgren, as well as Ken Langone, co-founder of Home Depot, and Bobbi Brown, founder of Bobbi Brown Cosmetics. For a full list of speakers and more information, visit Image: Date of Publication: Monday, April 14, 2014

Photo Gallery: Arizona Now and Spring Fling

Mon, 04/14/2014 - 14:16
Date of Publication: Monday, April 14, 2014

UA Scientists to Begin Construction on NASA Spacecraft that will Visit Asteroid in 2018

Thu, 04/10/2014 - 14:08

NASA has given the OSIRIS-REx mission, led by the University of Arizona, the go-ahead to begin building the spacecraft, flight instruments, ground system and launch support facilities. OSIRIS-REx is the first U.S. mission slated to send a spacecraft to a near-earth asteroid and collect samples.

The mission will focus on finding answers to basic questions about the composition of the very early solar system and the source of organic materials and water that made life possible on Earth. It will also aid NASA’s asteroid initiative and support the agency's efforts to understand the population of potentially hazardous near-Earth objects and characterize those suitable for future asteroid exploration missions.

The UA got the thumbs up on April 9 after a successful Mission Critical Design Review (CDR) for NASA’s Origins Spectral Interpretation Resource Identification Security Regolith Explorer (OSIRIS-REx). The review was held at the Lockheed Martin Space Systems Company in Littleton, Colo., April 1-9. An independent review board, comprised of experts from NASA and several external organizations, met to review the system design.

"Successfully passing mission CDR is a major accomplishment, but the hard part is still in front of us – building, integrating and testing the flight system to meet our tight launch window," said Mike Donnelly, OSIRIS-REx project manager at NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, Md.

"It marks a major shift in our mission," said Ed Beshore, a scientist at the UA Lunar and Planetary Laboratory and Steward Observatory, who is the mission's deputy principal investigator. "For all of us involved with OSIRIS-REx, it is a transition from designing the mission to implementing it. It means we are now cutting metal, building a spacecraft and writing software."

OSIRIS-REx is scheduled to launch in the fall of 2016, rendezvous with the asteroid Bennu in 2018 and spend a year studying the asteroid before collecting a sample of at least 2 ounces (60 grams) of surface material and returning it to Earth for scientists to study in 2023.

NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center will provide overall mission management, systems engineering and safety and mission oversight for OSIRIS-REx. The UA will lead the effort, provide the camera system and science processing and operations center. Lockheed Martin Space Systems in Denver will build the spacecraft. OSIRIS-REx is the third mission in NASA’s New Frontiers Program, which is managed by the Marshall Spaceflight Center.

"The OSIRIS-REx team has consistently demonstrated its ability to present a comprehensive mission design that meets all requirements within the resources provided by NASA," said principal investigator Dante Lauretta, a professor at the UA's Lunar and Planetary Laboratory. "Mission CDR was no exception. This is a great team. I know we will build a flight and ground system that is up to the challenges of this ambitious mission."

At the UA's Michael J. Drake building, staffing levels have ramped up to full capacity with the construction of the spacecraft's camera system and building the Science Processing Operations Center (SPOC). The Drake building is also where the office of the principal investigator (PI) is headquartered.

"The PI office is fully engaged in planning mission operations and ensuring the scientific integrity of the mission as well as overseeing the cost and schedule performance of the project," mission PI Lauretta said. "This office also will lead the analysis of the sample after the spacecraft returns it to the Earth in 2023."

"Missions like OSIRIS-REx consist of two major elements: the flight system – spacecraft and instruments – and the ground system," Beshore explained. "The CDR is as much an approval of our ground system as of the spacecraft."

Ground System Vital to Mission’s Success

"Once the spacecraft flies, it is under the control of the ground system," Beshore explained.

Ground system operations include planning scientific observations, designing and implementing spacecraft navigation, verifying that the spacecraft is safe at all times during its journey, programming the commands that control the spacecraft and transmitting them over the Deep Space Network, and retrieving data from the spacecraft, processing and analyzing it.

"Many ground system activities will take place right here in Tucson," Beshore said. "We will decide where we want to go, what data we want to acquire, and how to process the data once it starts coming down from the spacecraft."

Along with activity on the ground, the mission already is delivering considerable economic benefits to Arizona's economy. The camera system engineering and fabrication teams are fully operational, and SPOC is close to planned staffing levels. KinetX, a company based in Tempe, Ariz., is tasked with navigating the spacecraft, while the thermal emission spectrometer, OTES, is being built by Arizona State University, also in Tempe.

The public can follow mission progress on the OSIRIS-REx website and the PI blog, as well as on Facebook and Twitter. As part of its public engagement effort, people around the world are invited to submit their names to be etched on a microchip and placed aboard the spacecraft. After signing up with the  “Messages to Bennu” campaign, participants are able to download and print a certificate documenting their participation in the OSIRIS-REx mission.

OSIRIS-REx is the second NASA mission led by the UA. In May of 2008, the UA's Phoenix Mars lander touched down near the north pole of Mars, in the first Mars mission ever led by a university. Phoenix confirmed and examined patches of the widespread deposits of underground water ice and found evidence suggesting occasional presence of thawed water. The UA also operates the HiRISE camera onboard NASA's Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter, which has photographed the surface of the red planet in stunning detail. Other NASA missions involving UA scientists include the Cassini spacecraft studying Saturn and its moon Titan, the JUNO mission to Jupiter and the MESSENGER spacecraft orbiting Mercury.

Editor: Daniel StolteWriter: Daniel StolteByline: Daniel StolteByline Affiliation: University Relations - CommunicationsHeader image: YesNo Image: Subheading: The UA-led OSIRIS-REx asteroid sample return mission successfully passed NASA's Mission Critical Design Review, allowing the endeavor to proceed from the planning and design stage to building the spacecraft and developing the ground system in preparation for launch in 2016.Include in UANow: yesInclude in Olympic Coverage: noFeature on Olympic Page: noUANow Image: