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UA Announces Tuition Plan for 2016-2017

Fri, 03/18/2016 - 12:33pm
Extra Info: 

The complete tuition and fee proposal can be found at:

More than three-quarters of undergraduate students at the University will see no increase in what they pay to attend, according to the tuition proposal made to the Arizona Board of Regents.

There will be no increase in tuition and mandatory fees for 78 percent of University of Arizona undergraduates whose tuition and mandatory fees are locked in under the UA’s Guaranteed Tuition Plan. President Ann Weaver Hart presented the UA’s 2016-2017 tuition and fee proposal to the Arizona Board of Regents.

The proposed plan for new undergraduate students would lock in tuition and mandatory fees at $11,769 for Arizona residents and $34,967 for nonresidents. The rates would not change for all four years of continuous enrollment.

"More than three-quarters of undergraduate students at the University of Arizona will see zero increase in what they pay to attend," Hart said. "The guaranteed tuition program is an important part of the University’s commitment to student success, and students and families tell us that it is a very real benefit for their financial planning and college completion."

From the beginning, the tuition-proposal process involved the presidents of the undergraduate and graduate student governments working extensively with the provost, chief financial officer, senior vice president for student affairs and enrollment management, and faculty representatives, Hart said.

Student leaders agreed to the priorities set in Never Settle, the University’s strategic plan, which is improving academic outcomes, increasing the research portfolio and creating positive impacts for Arizona and the nation.

Approved by ABOR in November 2013, Never Settle sets out initiatives to enhance student success, increase sponsored research funding in strategic areas important to Arizona and boost the number of college graduates in the state. Academic program improvements include offering every student a significant engagement opportunity outside the classroom, building on the launch of UA Online degree programs and introducing majors with high growth potential for graduates in Arizona.

"Very few student leaders from other universities across the country have the opportunity to sit in the tuition discussions or be involved in setting the rate for tuition. Both Sarah Netherton from the Graduate and Professional Students Association and I had the opportunity to work with our University's leadership and recommended a tuition and fee increase at less than 3 percent," said Manuel Felix, president of the Associated Students of the University of Arizona. "That is a win for both students and parents."

Other elements of the tuition proposal include:

  • For those students who declined to enroll in the guaranteed tuition program, the UA has proposed a $299 (2.8 percent) increase for resident students and a $1,745 (5.8 percent) increase for nonresidents for mandatory fees and tuition.

  • For graduate students, the change in mandatory fees and tuition together will be an increase of 2.80 percent ($355) for residents and 5.80 percent ($1,765) for nonresidents. A pilot tuition guarantee program was offered last year to selected master’s degree students at the request of student leadership. No students chose to enroll in this program.

  • At UA South, continuing resident undergraduates would pay $8,803, an increase of 2.9 percent, and nonresident undergraduates would pay $31,265, a 5.9 percent increase over last year.

The Arizona Board of Regents has scheduled a public hearing for 5 to 7 p.m. on Tuesday, March 29, to discuss the tuition recommendations made by the three state universities. The UA main campus site will be the Gallagher Theater in the Student Union Memorial Center. The UA South site at Sierra Vista will be in the Academic Technology Building, B153 Lifesize Room 220.

On Thursday, March 31, from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m., the Arizona Board of Regents will host a tuition workshop where the university presidents will present their proposals in person. The meeting will be held at the ASU Memorial Union, Turquoise Room. The meeting will be live-streamed.

On Thursday, April 7, at 10:30 a.m., the Arizona Board of Regents will vote on tuition and fees at a videoconference at the Arizona Board of Regents office in Phoenix. The UA will present the videoconference in the Old Main boardroom, Room 227.

Category(s): Campus NewsMarch 18, 2016University Relations – Communications

Five UA Graduate Programs Ranked Among Top 10

Thu, 03/17/2016 - 5:31pm
Audiology program joins four others in the most recent rankings by U.S. News & World Report.

University of Arizona graduate programs in management information systems, rehabilitation counseling, speech-language pathology and earth sciences retained their top-10 status in the 2017 Best Graduate Schools rankings from U.S. News & World Report. The UA's audiology program moved into the top 10.

Included this year were first-ever rankings for Doctor of Nursing Practice programs. Among 149 DNP programs nationally, the UA College of Nursing was ranked No. 28. The college’s master’s programs were ranked No. 30 among 259 master’s programs nationally, up from No. 38.

The nursing rankings reflect the two largest programs at the UA College of Nursing, both offered online, as well as its on-campus master’s degree program:

  • In the online DNP program, more than 300 students are pursuing advanced-practice specialties in nurse anesthesia, family, pediatric, adult-gerontology acute care and psychiatric mental health.
  • Nearly 400 working registered nurses are seeking advancement as clinical systems leaders in the online Master of Science in Nursing Clinical Systems Leadership program.
  • The Master of Science for Entry to the Profession of Nursing (MEPN) program, offered on-campus in both Tucson and Phoenix, is an accelerated, 15-month program for students who hold a university degree in another field and want to become registered nurses.

In January, the College of Nursing was ranked No. 23 among the Best Online Graduate Nursing Programs by U.S. News.

In the rankings of research-intensive medical schools, the UA College of Medicine – Tucson improved to No. 63 from No. 67, consistent with the University's emphasis on research expansion — and significant when considering the overall decline in federal research funding nationally.

The annual Best Graduate Schools rankings are based on two forms of data: expert opinions about program excellence and statistical indicators that measure the quality of a school’s faculty, research and students in six areas of study (business, education, engineering, law, medicine and nursing). 

Periodically, U.S. News also ranks programs in the sciences, humanities, health and other areas. These rankings are based on ratings by academic experts only. 

Here are the U.S. News rankings for the UA:

  • Management information systems (5)
  • Rehabilitation counseling (6)
  • Speech-language pathology (7)
  • Earth sciences (7)
  • Audiology (9)
  • Pharmacy (16)
  • Sociology (20)
  • Public health (25)
  • Nursing/DNP (28)
  • Nursing/master's (30)
  • Clinical psychology (31)
  • Library and information studies (33)
  • Public affairs (34)
  • Economics (36)
  • Biological sciences (38)
  • Physics (39)
  • Law (40)
  • Computer science (40)
  • Psychology (40)
  • Chemistry (41)
  • Mathematics (41)
  • History (46)
  • Political science (48)
  • English (52)
  • Education (55)
  • Engineering (55)
  • Art (55)
  • Business (60)
  • Medical research (63)
  • Primary-care medicine (74)
Category(s): Campus NewsMarch 17, 2016University Relations – Communications

UA Students Selected as Mexico City Visiting Scholars

Thu, 03/17/2016 - 1:05pm
University Relations - Communications |Today

Omar Contreras (left) with Celina I. Valencia, Gudelia Rangel and Eduardo Gonzalez-Fagoaga. (Photo courtesy of Celina I. Valencia)

After being selected by the Binational Border Health Thematic Network to serve as visiting scholars in Mexico, University of Arizona graduate students Celina I. Valencia and Omar A. Contreras helped develop best practices for public health policy for the country's southern border with Guatemala.

Now they are helping to inform an initiative involving Mexico and Guatemala that will address health priorities in the region.

Valencia and Contreras, students in the Public Health Policy and Management section at the UA Mel and Enid Zuckerman College of Public Health, utilized Mexico's northern border "Healthy Border 2020" as the framework for policy and practice to effect positive changes to health outcomes.

Contreras and Valencia collaborated with public health researchers from the Secretaria de Salud and El Colegio de la Frontera Norte to develop a strategic framework based on the health priorities for southern Mexico, which included epidemiological surveillance of chronic and infectious diseases and the identification of national and global partnerships for the advancement of positive health outcomes. 

"I am thankful to the Binational Border Health Thematic Network for the opportunity to apply research and international health policy to improve health outcomes among the migrant population in the Guatemala-Mexico border," Contreras said.

The network is an academic network comprised of experts from the 10 border states to improve public health conditions on the U.S.-Mexico border, funded by the National Council of Science and Technology of Mexico, known as CONACYT.

Also working in partnership with Dr. Cecilia Rosales, an assistant dean at the Mel and Enid Zuckerman College of Public Health, as well as others within the college, both helped envision approaches to help reduce health inequities in the region.

To serve as visiting scholars, students are recommended by members of the network; in this case, Rosales and the students were selected based on their skills and contributions to the public health arena. Valencia brings experience in academic research, scientific inquiry and quantitative analysis; Contreras' expertise in epidemiological methods, coalition building, stakeholder engagement and program implementation were well suited for the collaboration.

"We value our strong and continued partnership with Dr. Rosales, and the knowledge that both Celina and Omar brought to the team early in their doctorate careers helped catapult this important and critical work with the southern Mexico border and Guatemala," said Gudelia Rangel of the Secretaria de Salud in Mexico.

Valencia and Contreras will continue their binational collaboration with Mexican and Guatemalan government sectors and nonprofits to implement the strategic framework they developed, and to guide the development of "Healthy Border Sur 2020," which is an initiative between the two countries. The framework will be designed to address health priorities, specifically to reduce the burden of disease in the bordering region.

"The useful insights of the social, economic and structural forces shaping the lived experiences of migrants in the Guatemala/Mexico border region are critical building blocks for useful interventions to effect positive changes to health outcomes," Valencia said.

Additionally, Valencia and Contreras were introduced to various national and global data banks of Mexico and Guatemala for baseline assessments.

HiRISE: 45,000 Mars Orbits and Counting

Wed, 03/16/2016 - 4:48pm
Extra Info: 

Click here for a gallery featuring some of HiRISE's most stunning shots, revealing the surprisingly active face of the Red Planet. 

Ten years ago on March 24, the UA-built camera began taking the most detailed images of the Martian surface to date. Since then, the camera has become the world's eye on Mars, bringing us detailed vistas of landscapes ranging from strangely alien to earthly familiar.

True to its purpose, NASA's Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter, or MRO, the spacecraft that began orbiting Mars a decade ago, has delivered huge advances in knowledge about the Red Planet.

According to NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory, MRO has revealed in unprecedented detail a planet that held diverse wet environments billions of years ago and remains dynamic today. MRO carries, among other instruments, the High Resolution Imaging Science Experiment, or HiRISE, camera, designed and operated by the Lunar and Planetary Lab at the University of Arizona. 

One example of the orbiter's major discoveries was published last year, about the possibility of liquid water being present seasonally on present-day Mars. It drew on three key capabilities researchers gained from this mission: telescopic camera resolution, to find features narrower than a sidewalk; spacecraft longevity, to track seasonal changes over several Martian years; and imaging spectroscopy, to map surface composition.

"Our views of both ancient and modern Mars have changed dramatically in the past decade," says Alfred McEwen, principal investigator of HiRISE. "Now we know that hydrated minerals are common in ancient bedrock, many sand dunes are active, that carbon dioxide frost rather than water is carving gullies, and there is water in other seasonal flows."

Other discoveries have resulted from additional capabilities of the orbiter. These include identifying underground geologic structures, scanning atmospheric layers and observing the entire planet's weather daily. All six of the orbiter's science instruments remain productive in an extended mission more than seven years after completion of the mission's originally planned primary science phase.

The Arrival at Mars

On March 10, 2006, the spacecraft fired its six largest rocket engines for about 27 minutes, slowing it down enough for the gravity of Mars to catch it into orbit. Those engines had been used only once before, for 15 seconds during the first trajectory adjustment in the seven-month flight from Earth to Mars.

For its first three weeks at Mars, the spacecraft flew elongated, 35-hour orbits ranging as far as 27,000 miles from the Red Planet. During the next six months, a process called aerobraking used hundreds of carefully calculated dips into the top of the Martian atmosphere to gradually adjust the size of the orbit. Since September 2006, the craft has been flying nearly circular orbits lasting about two hours, at altitudes from 155 to 196 miles.

The spacecraft's two large solar panels give MRO a wingspan the length of a school bus. That surface area helped with atmospheric drag during aerobraking and still cranks out about 2,000 watts of electricity when the panels face the sun. Generous power enables the spacecraft to transmit a torrent of data through its main antenna, a dish 10 feet in diameter. The total science data sent to Earth from MRO — 264 terabits — is more than all other interplanetary missions combined, past and present.

"The HiRISE team at the UA developed routines to automatically process the raw data into beautiful images, within hours of when the data is returned," McEwen says. 

Lockheed Martin Space Systems of Denver built the spacecraft with the capability to transmit copious data to suit the science goals of revealing Mars in great detail.

For example, the HiRISE camera has returned images that show features as small as a desk anywhere in observations that now have covered about 2.4 percent of the Martian surface, an area equivalent to two Alaskas, with many locations imaged repeatedly. The Context Camera, or CTX, managed by Malin Space Systems of San Diego, has imaged more than 85 percent of Mars, with resolution showing features smaller than a tennis court. The Compact Reconnaissance Imaging Spectrometer, or CRISM, built and operated by Johns Hopkins University Applied Physics Laboratory in Laurel, Maryland, also has imaged nearly 80 percent of the planet in multiple visual-light and infrared wavelengths, providing composition information at scales of 100 to 200 yards per pixel.

Data from MRO has improved knowledge about three distinct periods on Mars. Observations of the oldest surfaces on the planet show that diverse types of watery environments existed, some more favorable for life than others. More recently, water cycled as a gas between polar ice deposits and lower-latitude deposits of ice and snow, generating patterns of layering linked to cyclical changes similar to ice ages on Earth.

Watching Mars Change

Dynamic activity on today's Mars includes impact events, avalanches, dust storms, seasonal freezing and thawing of carbon dioxide sheets, gully formation, sand migration and summertime seeps of brine.

"This mission has helped us appreciate how much Mars — a planet that has changed greatly over time — continues to change today," said MRO project scientist Rich Zurek of JPL in Pasadena, California, which manages the mission.

MRO provides three types of crucial support for rover and stationary lander missions to Mars. Its observations enable careful evaluation of potential landing sites. They also help rover teams choose routes and destinations. Together with NASA's Mars Odyssey, which has been orbiting Mars since 2001, MRO relays data from robots on Mars' surface to NASA Deep Space Network antennas on Earth, multiplying the productivity of the surface missions.

Recently, the mission has begun investigating areas proposed as landing sites for future human missions in NASA's Journey to Mars.

"The Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter remains a powerful asset for studying the Red Planet, with its six instruments all continuing capably a decade after orbit insertion," Zurek said. "All this and the valuable infrastructure support that it provides for other Mars missions, present and future, make MRO a keystone of the current Mars Exploration Program."

Just this week, another orbiter blasted off the Earth, slated to join MRO in orbit around Mars by mid-October: The ExoMars Trace Gas Orbiter, or TGO, a collaboration project of the European Space Agency, or ESA, and Russia's Roscosmos State Space Corporation. The UA's HiRISE team is supporting the Colour and Stereo Surface Imaging System, or CaSSIS, for science planning software development, data processing and science analysis.

NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory contributed to this story.

Category(s): Science and TechnologyMarch 23, 2016University Relations - Communications

UA Campus Pantry Has a New Home

Wed, 03/16/2016 - 10:24am
Extra Info: 

How the pantry works:

  • During distribution events, UA students and employees are asked to arrive at the information desk, located on Level 2 of the Student Union Memorial Center.
  • The next distribution events will be held on April 15, April 29 and May 6 from noon to 3 p.m.
  • Students and employees need only to show a CatCard. No fee is required.
  • Individuals will be escorted to the Campus Pantry to stock up on food staples and fresh produce, while supplies last.
What: UA Campus Pantry Ribbon-CuttingWhen: March 21 at 1 p.m. Where: Student Union Memorial Center, 1303 E. University Blvd.Story Contacts: 

Sara Rohde

Arizona Student Unions


Chet Phillips

Associated Students of the University of Arizona

The Arizona Student Unions has donated space for the student-run, nonprofit Campus Pantry.

From its beginnings in a tiny room in El Portal to cramped quarters off campus in Babcock Hall, the University of Arizona's Campus Pantry now has a designated space in the Student Union Memorial Center, creating new possibilities for improving food security and garnering resources.

Arizona Student Unions executives surprised University of Arizona Campus Pantry co-founder Berkley Harris with a new home — a discreet room in the Student Union. 

The space also is offered rent-free with utilities paid to help University students who are dealing with food insecurity needs.

Last November, Chet Phillips, sustainability coordinator for the Associated Students of the University of Arizona, initiated introductions that would lead to the new space. Thanks to the efforts of Todd Millay, Arizona Student Unions' interim executive director, UA senior executive chef Michael Omo and Kim Celeya, the warehouse supervisor, a large storage room in the Union's lower level was cleared, freshly painted, shelved and stocked with donations in preparation for the surprise reveal to an unaware Harris.

"Arizona Student Unions is proud to partner with UA Campus Pantry to extend its reach, build more synergies and provide strong support to help address food insecurity on our campus," Millay said. "The entire division of Student Affairs is behind this effort and Berkley. We’re proud to simply be a part of this process and help a group who has worked selflessly for years to meet other needs. They are inspiring."

A ribbon-cutting event for the Campus Pantry's new location will be held March 21 at 1 p.m. Harris and Melissa Vito, the UA's senior vice president for Student Affairs and Enrollment Management, are slated to cut the ribbon. Attendees are asked to bring an imperishable item to donate.

"Food insecurity is a reality that more and more of our students experience," said Vito, also vice provost for Academic Initiatives and Student Success.

"Years ago, students initiated a campus pantry. It depended on the generosity of the community to provide food and was only open a few hours a week, with no cold food options," Vito said. "As I met with student leadership this year, I realized that this is a growing issue for our students and one that we needed to do more to address. I met with our Student Union leadership, who immediately and enthusiastically engaged to help create a more permanent, more fully stocked, centrally located place on campus. We are thrilled to take this huge step forward in addressing food insecurity on our campus through the UA Campus Pantry."

Campus Pantry, a nonprofit that was chartered in 2012, anticipates expanding services in its new location as funding is granted through the UA Green Fund, the Graduate and Professional Student Council and also donations from the campus community and local food retailers. Arizona Student Unions suppliers, the Whole Foods location on East River Road and Time Market have pledged continuing support with fresh produce contributions.

Harris said that while she has been working with the Arizona Student Unions for months and knew plans existed to support the pantry, she did not know the extent of that support.

"I didn't realize how dedicated they were to supporting our efforts. Needless to say, I was extremely surprised by the generosity of the new space and donations from the Union," said Harris, who is studying public health and also public management and policy.

"The UA Campus Pantry couldn't be more grateful for this new space and support. It means a lot to the future of our nonprofit, but more importantly it means a lot to the students and staff who rely on our services. I cannot wait to see how this new space helps the pantry grow and serve more of the Wildcat community."

Category(s): Campus NewsSara RohdeMarch 16, 2016Arizona Student Unions

UA Tops $606 Million in Research Activity

Tue, 03/15/2016 - 4:09pm
Story Contacts: 

Lucio Guerrero

UA Office for Research & Discovery


The University, ranked as one of the nation's top 20 public research universities by the National Science Foundation, also saw an increase in individual faculty research activity.

The University of Arizona's research activity topped $606 million for fiscal year 2015, surpassing the previous year's total by nearly $20 million.
"This increase in the UA's research expenditures demonstrates that our strategies to expand research and innovation at the University are working," said UA President Ann Weaver Hart. "I am constantly inspired by the ingenuity and dedication of the faculty and staff who drive the UA's research output, particularly for their ability to do so at such a high level of quality and intensity despite historic challenges in securing funding.
"With this wonderful news, I am confident that the UA will continue to support Arizona's innovation economy and provide a world-class educational experience rooted in outstanding research and scholarship."
Along with the increase in total research activity, UA faculty also saw an increase individually. In FY2015, faculty averaged $388,000 each in research activity.
"Increasing research activity really is a collective effort — starting with researchers who submit winning grants to students and staff who do so much of the research at our facilities," said Kimberly Andrews Espy, UA senior vice president for research. "This increase means we will continue to be one of the state's premier research partners for industry and government, while also creating a wonderful research experience for our students that will prepare them for their future careers."
Ranked by the National Science Foundation as one of the nation's top 20 public research universities, the UA has maintained its status with a dynamic strategic plan, Never Settle, emphasizing growth and development.
In November 2015, the Arizona Board of Regents reviewed and approved UA's performance-based benchmarks for 2025, one of which is to reach three-quarters of a billion dollars in research expenditures in the next decade.
Among the largest awards in FY2015:

  • $5.6 million for research in finding similar planets to Earth (NASA)
  • $3.8 million for identifying non-pharmacologic methods for enhancing sleep in PTSD (U.S. Army Medical Research Acquisition Activity)
  • $3.1 million for a study of biomarkers in ovarian cancer (National Cancer Institute)
Category(s): Campus NewsScience and TechnologyMarch 15, 2016UA Office for Research & Discovery

How Far Will the Wildcats Go? Try 2,600 Miles

Tue, 03/15/2016 - 2:51pm
What: UA men's basketball in NCAA TournamentWhen: 6:20 p.m. MST Thursday; telecast on TNT Where: Providence, Rhode IslandThe UA's first-round game in the NCAA Tournament is about as far from the friendly confines of McKale Center as it can get. It's a 39-hour drive from Tucson to Providence, Rhode Island.

Can the University of Arizona men's basketball team go the distance in the NCAA Tournament?

In one sense, the Wildcats already have. Their first-round game Thursday night in Providence, Rhode Island, is the farthest anyone can remember them traveling in the tournament — about 2,600 miles one way.

For fans, that's quite a difference from first-round games in Portland, Oregon, last year and San Diego in 2014. Round-trip commercial flights to Providence this week were going for more than $1,000.

"It becomes cost-prohibitive for people," acknowledges Ryan Hansen, vice president and chief operating officer for Tucson's Bon Voyage Travel, which has handled travel packages for UA fans for 30 years. 

Hansen, a UA alumnus, has been with the agency for almost five years after working in a variety of capacities for Arizona Athletics. He also is a radio commentator for Wildcats basketball, and he was just as in-the-dark as the team and its followers before the tournament's pairings were made official on Sunday afternoon.

"I was down at McKale Center with the (coaching) staff, waiting for our name to pop up," he says. "Then the fire drill started."

The announcement that the Wildcats were headed east as the No. 6 seed in South Region touched off a frantic 36 hours of preparations for Bon Voyage. With the UA allotted less than 500 tickets for Thursday's game, those wearing red and blue in the 12,400-seat Dunkin' Donuts Center probably will consist of well-heeled donors and Northeastern alumni. Wildcats senior Kaleb Tarczewski is from Claremont, New Hampshire, and at 160 miles that qualifies as nearby.

The Wildcats, who departed on Tuesday, have made it past the first weekend in their last five NCAA appearances. Louisville, Kentucky, will be their destination on March 24 if they do so again. In Providence, they will need to defeat the winner of the Vanderbilt-Wichita State play-in game and then the winner of the Miami (Fla.)-Buffalo game.

Hansen says UA fans have taken a wait-and-see approach to air travel in recent years when postseason play rolls around. The Pac-12 Conference tournament was in Los Angeles before moving to Las Vegas in 2013 — both driveable locations. The last two West Region finals were in Southern California — ditto. And the team has made the Sweet Sixteen or Elite Eight so many times over the years that fans seem to be holding out for a trip to the Final Four, which the Wildcats haven't reached since 2001.

"We had two charter planes full (with reservations) before the Wisconsin game last year," Hansen says.

Alas, the UA's 85-78 loss to the Badgers in the West Region final in Los Angeles, with a Final Four berth at stake, kept the team and its fans at home.

Travel snafus incurred by the team and its entourage can be overrated, according to Hansen. In 1997, the Wildcats arrived in Birmingham, Alabama, about eight hours late after their charter plane had been delayed in Canada. They still defeated No. 1-ranked Kansas, 85-82.

"It was a setup for us to lose," Hansen says, "and yet that was possibly our biggest win in history. The stars weren't aligned, but sometimes it's what happens between the lines (on the court)."

Longtime UA fans know what happened after that: The team, which lost nine games that season — one more than this year's team — went on to defeat Providence, North Carolina and Kentucky and win the national championship.

Category(s): SportsMarch 15, 2016University Relations – Communications

Open Access Causes Disruption of Status Quo

Mon, 03/14/2016 - 8:50am
With each bringing a unique perspective, four open-access proponents address a contentious subject affecting scholarly publications.

Open access, or OA, journals — scholarly publications that are made available to all, free of charge and with unrestricted use — have shifted the paradigm when it comes to research.

Before the advent of the Internet, there was just one way to publish research, and that was through scholarly journals that charge a subscription fee to readers. Many, such as Nature and Science, still operate this way today.

These days, with more than 10,000 open-access journals in operation, it is becoming increasingly common to publish research this way. But even so, the OA movement remains contentious in academia, and it continues to evolve.

"There is no free lunch in life." –Nirav Merchant

Albrecht Classen, Distinguished Professor of German Studies at the University of Arizona, serves as the editor-in-chief for Humanities, an open-access journal established in 2012.

While many OA journals avoid charging their readership by instead charging researchers for publication, Humanities is free for readers and offers free publication for researchers, who must first have their papers approved through its "extremely intensive, rigorous" peer-review process. Peer review is the process by which researchers working in the same field evaluate one another’s work.

"If I pay for my research to be published, I feel I am compromising my scholarly standards," Classen says. "In this model, everyone who is a researcher can freely develop ideas, without financial constraint."

Classen is a purist in this regard. He once agreed to serve on the editorial board of an Italian journal to skirt its $130 publishing fee for one of his research articles, "on principle."

But Humanities faces financial trouble and is in danger of having to revert to the traditional paywall model of closed-access journals. Classen and fellow editors recently wrote a proposal for a sizable grant that could sustain Humanities, and they are waiting on a response.

"I have a different point of view," says Nirav Merchant, director of the UA's Arizona Research Laboratories. Merchant is also the principal investigator behind CyVerse, a National Science Foundation-funded data management platform. "The reality is, you have to pay the bills. There is no free lunch in life. Nothing is zero cost."

Merchant has published his own research in PLOS ONE, a peer-reviewed, open-access scientific journal with some 85 new articles published daily. To publish in PLOS ONE, researchers pay about $1,500 per article in "article processing charges," or APCs.

Richard Amini, assistant professor of emergency medicine at UA, says, "Funding really is the biggest challenge with open access. Some institutions pay their physicians to publish as an incentive, and some institutions pay for any open-access publications. Previously at the UA, we had neither."

Now, UA Libraries has an open-access publishing fund, which Amini has utilized, calling it "very helpful."

While Classen is dubious of the pay-to-publish structure, Merchant defends its integrity, saying, "It's peer-reviewed, and researchers don't pay for the peer review. Only after being accepted, you pay for publication."

Shane Burgess, dean of the UA's College of Agriculture and Life Sciences and editor of the open-access journal BMC Genomics, agrees.

"I have reviewed and edited for open- and closed-access journals," Burgess says, "and I have experienced not a single difference in the rigor of the peer-review process. There is absolutely no difference between the quality of the work that is published."

"Citations are king right now." –Richard Amini

Aside from finances, the quality of the work is another point of contention for researchers in today's publishing environment.

Asked why he believes open-access journals are viewed negatively by some, Classen conjures a hypothetical scenario in which a faculty member up for tenure publishes high volumes of low-quality research in open-access journals simply to demonstrate to the committee that he or she is prolific.

Classen does not believe this is reason enough to reject the OA movement.

Burgess calls the hypothetical scenario "flat-out impossible," adding that "it's a myth that open-access journals are easy to get into."

In fact, Burgess believes some faculty actively avoid publishing in OA journals in the belief that a tenure committee might frown upon it. But as someone who sits on such committees, he does not.

Meanwhile, Amini isn't even sure that it's all about quantity of publications anymore: "We're in an era in research publication where citation of your manuscripts is almost more important than publication numbers. It's not so much about the volume. It's more about the quality, and quality is being measured by how often your work is cited. Citations are king right now.

"If someone is trying to download my manuscript and it is free versus 20-plus dollars, my open-access manuscript will be more likely to be cited," Amini concludes.

At the same time, scholarly journals are assigned impact factors — another contentious subject in the world of academia. An impact factor is supposed to measure a given journal's relative importance in its field — although many call it a poor measure — and it is calculated based on the average number of citations received per paper published in the journal during the two previous years.

"Because of the way the open-access journals work, it's very hard for them to get as high an impact factor as some of the closed-access journals," Burgess says. In some fields, including biology and bioinformatics, OA journals have some of the highest impact factors, but today this is the exception to the rule.

In 2014, Nature, a closed-access journal, had an impact factor above 40. PLOS ONE’s hovers just above 3.

"I'd like to see the creative disruption that this is making move to creative destruction of the old way." –Shane Burgess

Classen, Merchant, Amini and Burgess all agree on one thing: Regardless of whether the academic community at large is ready to give OA journals the level of legitimacy each believes they deserve, disruption of business as usual is a good thing for research.

"For most people, open access means you have free access to the publication. To me, that's a very small piece of the bigger picture. Being able to reproduce results is where the real strength of open access is," says Merchant, adding that platforms such as CyVerse will be integral in making this happen. CyVerse does this by publishing OA data and computations.

There are a number of more broad benefits to OA journals, Burgess says: "Anybody in any country can access these papers at any time. A second benefit is that, (by moving toward OA), we can save students money, and we would do that by spending less of the university's budget on subscriptions to journals. A third benefit is that, currently, all journals rely primarily on the free labor of faculty to do peer reviewing. This way, everybody who is doing the work gets to see all of the work, and can maintain the rights to their intellectual property."

Closed-access journals often gain the rights to the content in a research article when they publish it. With OA publishing, there are ways to protect intellectual property, including "libre OA," wherein authors have usage rights that are maintained under creative commons licenses.

"We have an obligation to share our knowledge." –Albrecht Classen

Ultimately, perhaps more than anything else, OA proponents at the UA argue that making their research openly accessible does a service not only to the research community, but to the public.

"Open access publishing paves the way for researchers to collaborate effectively, while maximizing accessibility of their work and furthering discoveries in the ever-evolving research environment,” says Kimberly Andrews Espy, senior vice president for research at the UA. “These types of open access portals give UA researchers a wider audience and exposure."

Says Classen: "Open access is exactly what scholarship should be about. Our research should be made available to the public. We have an obligation to share our knowledge."

Category(s): Campus NewsEmily LitvackMarch 14, 2016UA Office for Research & Discovery

Report: Science Can Estimate Climate Change's Role

Fri, 03/11/2016 - 4:22pm
Story Contacts: 

Kathy Jacobs

UA Institute of the Environment


Stephanie Doster

UA Institute of the Environment


A committee of climate experts that includes the UA's Kathy Jacobs says that it is possible to attribute changes in the frequency or severity of some extreme weather events to climate change.

A National Academies of Sciences committee that includes a University of Arizona professor has produced a report tackling the commonly asked question: Did human-induced climate change cause a specific flood, drought or other extreme-weather event?

"While a definitive answer to whether climate change caused a particular event cannot usually be provided because natural variability almost always plays a role, it is now possible to assess whether human-caused climate change has influenced the intensity or frequency of some types of extreme weather events," said Kathy Jacobs, director of the UA’s Center for Climate Adaptation Science and Solutions at the Institute of the Environment.

"So a better way to ask this question is: To what extent was the event intensified or weakened because of climate change?" said Jacobs, who led the third National Climate Assessment and is also a professor in the Department of Soil, Water and Environmental Science.

The National Academies Committee released the report, "Attribution of Extreme Weather Events in the Context of Climate Change," on Friday. The report evaluates the rapidly growing science of event attribution, examining the degree to which extreme events such as heat waves, droughts, cyclones and extreme precipitation can be linked to human-caused climate change.

Recently developed scientific methods allow for estimation of how the intensity, duration or frequency of an event has been altered by climate change and provide information that can be used to assess and manage risk, guide climate adaptation strategies, and determine greenhouse gas emissions targets, according to the report.

The most dependable attribution findings are for those events related to an aspect of temperature, for which there is little doubt that human activity has caused an observed change in the long-term trend.

"We are more confident that extreme events related to temperature are influenced by climate change than other types of extremes," Jacobs said. "This has implications for the Southwest because temperature has a direct relationship to impacts on river flows and soil moisture. The relationship between anthropogenic climate change and some extreme droughts is an important conclusion for this region and the people who live here."

Because increasing concentrations of greenhouse gases are affecting the entire planet's climate system, scientists cannot rule out some influence of climate change on any individual extreme event, Jacobs said. But each event has a variety of possible natural and human-related causes.

Attributing extreme events in the context of climate change can be approached from different scientific perspectives, Jacobs said. One approach is a statistical analysis of the likelihood of such events occurring in the absence of climate change, based on our understanding of the frequency and intensity of such events in the past. Another way to evaluate the human footprint on extreme events is to use models to study the physics of individual events and compare them to previous analogous events.

"We have the greatest confidence in attributions that are based on sound physical principles, a good long-term observation record, and when computer models can accurately reproduce the extreme event," said committee chair Adm. David W. Titley, a professor of practice in meteorology at Pennsylvania State University. Titley also works with the UA in a project funded by the U.S. Department of Defense to identify climate-related impacts on and adaptation options for military installations.

Until recently, scientists were reluctant to link climate change to any single weather event. But their understanding of climate and the forces that drive extreme events has improved, and methods used in event attribution have advanced, Jacobs said. Still, the committee wrote, more research is required to increase the reliability of event attribution, ensure that results are presented clearly, and better understand smaller-scale and shorter-duration weather extremes such as hurricanes and thunderstorms.

Concerns about the increasing costs of extreme events has spurred strong public interest in understanding the underlying causes of the events.

"Event attribution is important because of its relationship to managing risk," Jacobs said. "Human behavior can either exacerbate or mitigate the impacts of extreme events, and that is why understanding the social and ethical issues, as well as the science, of extreme events is such an important research need."

Category(s): Science and TechnologyStephanie DosterMarch 11, 2016UA Institute of the Environment