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Second Instrument Delivered for OSIRIS-REx Mission

Wed, 07/08/2015 - 12:37pm

An instrument that will explore the surface of a primitive asteroid in search of water and organic materials has arrived at Lockheed Martin for installation onto NASA’s Origins, Spectral Interpretation, Resource Identification and Security-Regolith Explorer, or OSIRIS-REx.

The OSIRIS-REx Visible and Infrared Spectrometer, or OVIRS, instrument measures visible and near infrared light from the asteroid Bennu that can be used to identify water and organic materials. NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, Maryland, built the instrument. 

"The delivery of OVIRS to the spacecraft means the mission now has the capability to measure the minerals and chemicals at the sample site on Bennu," said Dante Lauretta, principal investigator for OSIRIS-REx at the University of Arizona. "I greatly appreciate the hard work and innovation the OVIRS team demonstrated during the creation of this instrument."

OVIRS, a point spectrometer, will split the light from Bennu into its component wavelengths, similar to a prism that splits sunlight into a rainbow, but over a much broader range of wavelengths. Different chemicals have unique spectral signatures by absorbing sunlight and can be identified in the reflected spectrum. The spectra provided by the instrument will help guide sample site selection.

"Through the team's efforts, OVIRS has become a remarkably capable instrument, which we expect to return exciting science from the asteroid Bennu," said Dennis Reuter, OVIRS instrument lead from Goddard.

After thorough testing with the spacecraft on the ground, the instrument will be powered on for check-out shortly after launch, with first science data collected during the Earth gravity assist in September 2017.

OSIRIS-REx is the first U.S. mission to return samples from an asteroid to Earth for study. The mission is scheduled for launch in September 2016. It will reach its asteroid target in 2018 and return a sample to Earth in 2023.

The spacecraft will travel to Bennu, a near-Earth asteroid, and bring back to Earth a sample of at least 2.1 ounces for study. The mission will help scientists investigate the composition of the very early solar system and the source of organic materials and water that made their way to Earth, and improve understanding of asteroids that could impact our planet.

"The OVIRS team has met all of their technical requirements," said Mike Donnelly, OSIRIS-REx project manager at Goddard Space Flight Center. "This is another step in completing the spacecraft and sending it on its way to rendezvous with the asteroid Bennu."

NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, Maryland, provides overall mission management, systems engineering and safety and mission assurance for OSIRIS-REx. Lauretta is the mission's principal investigator at the UA. Lockheed Martin Space Systems in Denver is building the spacecraft. OSIRIS-REx is the third mission in NASA's New Frontiers Program. NASA's Marshall Space Flight Center in Huntsville, Alabama, manages New Frontiers for the agency's Science Mission Directorate in Washington, D.C.

Editor: dougcarrollByline Affiliation: University Relations – CommunicationsHeader image: YesNo Image: Subheading: A spectrometer that will help the UA-led OSIRIS-REx mission team select a suitable sampling site on asteroid Bennu has arrived at Lockheed Martin's spacecraft assembly facility, ready to be integrated into the nascent spacecraft. Include in UANow: yesInclude in Olympic Coverage: noFeature on Olympic Page: noIncludes video: 

Doctors to Get Better Access to Digital Data

Tue, 07/07/2015 - 7:31pm

The National Institutes of Health has awarded a $1.3 million grant to researchers at the University of Arizona to develop open-source software that will enable health care professionals and scientists to manage biomedical big data in digital form.

The advanced data compression software for the first time puts digitized biomedical data in a format and size that doctors, pathologists and other health care workers with limited resources and in remote locations will be able to access, analyze and store. Usable digitized data means quicker second opinions and diagnoses for patients.

"Advances in image compression technology for biomedical big data are essential to advance biomedical diagnostics and research and to save more lives," said Ali Bilgin, UA assistant professor in the departments of Electrical and Computer Engineering and Biomedical Engineering and principal investigator of the project. "We are in the middle of a global transition to digitization of biomedical data, and there’s a lot of it out there — but in files too large to be transmitted, stored or retrieved."

Samples from a single patient over a lifetime can add up to a terabyte of data — enough to fill an entire hard disk, a huge amount of data that most pathology labs cannot handle.

The award is one of the first of 15 research projects funded through the NIH Big Data to Knowledge, or BD2K, Initiative, the agency announced in June. The NIH identified data compression as one of the initiative’s key focus areas and gave the UA project ("Development of Software and Analysis Methods for Biomedical Big Data in Targeted Areas of High Need") an impact factor of 11, the agency’s second-highest possible ranking.

"Data compression software has the potential to address some of the most significant data storage, computing and sharing challenges facing biomedical researchers," the NIH said in its announcement.

Task-Specific Data Compression

The UA-developed software will compress the size of slide images up to 100 times without losing any detail or resolution from the original slide images. Bilgin’s team is working with previously scanned digital images of slide samples from breast cancer patients, but the software will be applicable for a broad range of diseases.

"The medical community has been working to digitize biomedical data for some years, but to date the data has had little real effect on health care," Bilgin said. "Most labs are not equipped to receive or use the millions of gigabytes of information from data such as DNA sequence data or protein structure data. Our software will provide access to these files despite their huge size."

Perhaps most revolutionary, the new software will compress the digital images in specific ways for specific tasks.

"A pathologist may want to determine if an image indicates cancer. A research scientist might be more interested in identifying different categories of cancer cells in the sample," Bilgin explained. "Our technology will tailor the size and format of the digital image that is transmitted so a user doesn’t receive a whole lot of data they don’t need."

It should be a first, he said.

"Although it has been long recognized that image quality should be task-based, we know of no previous attempts to compress images for specific tasks," Bilgin said. "This is an entirely new way to think about image compression."

Engineering Better Biomedical Technology

Image compression was the subject of Bilgin’s dissertation at the UA, from which he received his doctorate in electrical and computer engineering in 2002. Although he started out as an electrical engineer, he said, "I quickly realized that all of these skills I’d gained as an engineer could be applicable to problems in medicine."

Michael Marcellin was his graduate adviser and is co-investigator of the NIH-funded study. Marcellin, a Regents' Professor in the Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering and the UA College of Optical Sciences, was a major contributor to JPEG2000, the standard image compression coding system used today and the one that will be used in the biomedical image compression research.

Other participating UA researchers include Elizabeth A. Krupinski, professor and vice chair of medical imaging and associate director of the Arizona Telemedicine Program, and Amit Ashok, assistant professor of optical sciences and electrical and computer engineering. Researchers at Ohio State University, including Metin Gurcan, associate professor of biomedical informatics, also are participating.

Krupinski said the research has major implications for telemedicine, which uses electronic communications to transmit medical information, often to remote locations, to improve patient health.

"The use of telemedicine and the volume of associated digital images in health care are expanding exponentially," she said. "Many of these images, such as whole-slide pathology images, are extremely large and difficult for users to navigate through. Dr. Bilgin’s task-specific compression techniques will make navigation more efficient and diagnostic interpretation more effective."

Second Opinions in Seconds

When a patient requests a second opinion today, pathologists send the patient’s slide sample to another laboratory to prepare bioassays for the second doctor. The process can take days. The UA-developed software will transmit review-ready data in minutes or seconds, allowing users to view digital images and share information about them over vast distances in real time.

"This will help patients more quickly get second opinions and reduce the chances of diagnostic errors," Bilgin said.

It also will advance biomedical research and discovery.

"Let’s say a pathologist sees a large cluster of a certain type of cell in their digital image," Bilgin said. "They can use the new software to request all digital pathology samples with a similar cellular feature. This has tremendous potential for increasing our ability to quickly identify disease."

Editor: dougcarrollByline: Jill GoetzByline Affiliation: UA College of EngineeringHeader image: YesNo Image: Subheading: With $1.3 million and a top-priority ranking from the National Institutes of Health, UA College of Engineering researchers are developing data compression software to make biomedical big data universally available. Include in UANow: yesInclude in Olympic Coverage: noFeature on Olympic Page: noUANow Image: Includes video: 

UA Startup to Develop Cancer Treatment

Tue, 07/07/2015 - 5:30pm

University of Arizona startup company Synactix Pharmaceuticals Inc. has licensed a novel cancer treatment technology developed through research at the UA College of Pharmacy.

The agreement comes on the heels of other recent technology startups out of the UA, including SinfoníaRx (College of Pharmacy), Anivax (College of Agriculture and Life Sciences) and Metropia (College of Engineering).

Under the leadership of Hong-yu Li, company president and a professor in the College of Pharmacy, and Brendan Frett, vice president, a 2014 graduate of the college and a postdoctoral researcher in Li’s lab, the company is forming its management team and raising funds.

To protect the invention and start the new company, Li and Frett worked with Tech Launch Arizona's assistant director of biomedical and life sciences licensing, Rakhi Gibbons, and the entire team at TLA, the office of the UA that commercializes inventions emanating from research to create social and economic impact.

"This is a great example of the cutting-edge research taking place at the UA," Gibbons says. "We’re excited to have the opportunity to work with such individuals that endeavor to bring new treatments to patients."

Arising out of studies focusing on highly targeted treatments, Synactix has zeroed in on a dual kinase inhibitor that blocks two factors involved in cancer survival: oncogene addiction and vascular growth. The inhibitor is able to simultaneously block the RET proto-oncogene and the VEGF receptor. When these signaling proteins are blocked, tumor growth and tumor vascularization are quickly halted.

In essence, the drug simultaneously starves and obstructs tumor growth by preventing blood vessel formation and oncogene signaling.

"We are very excited to be one step closer to providing this treatment to the patient in need," Li says. "We still have a formidable push to reach our research goals, and the UA has provided resources necessary to streamline development."

For Frett, the experience has served as a use course in the business of pharmaceuticals.

"As I was finishing up my Ph.D., I was in the process of starting Synactix," he says. "I have learned that science and business are very different but complementary concepts, and it’s crucial to identify the interdependence between the two. We have a great opportunity to enhance treatments for human disease, and we are excited and enthusiastic for what the future holds."

"The College of Pharmacy has a long history of entrepreneurial and spinoff companies, including Cylene, Niadyne and, of course, our highly successful SinfoníaRx," says Lyle Bootman, dean of the college. "This newest firm is another example of the strength of our faculty, not only as teachers and researchers but as innovators dedicated to advancing science and technology to directly benefit patients. This is great example of how a university stimulates the economy in the state and the local region."

The pathways of Synactix’s treatment play a key role in medullary thyroid cancer, which is an orphan disease — one that provides little incentive for the pharmaceutical industry because of a low market potential. The orphan indication will be used initially as an advantage to show safety and efficacy in clinical trials, with the intent to expand to other indications as positive results develop. 

The treatment provides advantages over current therapies by targeting multiple, cooperating pathways. The drug was designed using medicinal chemistry polypharmacology, or MCP, a concept to engineer drugs capable of simultaneously targeting multiple causes of a human disease.

This year, Synactix submitted an STTR grant for $299,976 to continue its research and develop its product. The grant has been selected for probable funding by the National Cancer Institute and is currently under intent to award, putting Synactix in a lineup of UA Small Business Innovation Research/Small Business Technology Transfer collaborations linked to TLA’s SBIR/STTR Tech House, an initiative supported by a partnership with the Tucson community, designed to maximize the success of SBIR/STTR funding across the southern Arizona region.

The company is in negotiations with investors to help fund an FDA Investigational New Drug package to complete its IND in the United States and open channels to international markets.

Editor: dougcarrollByline: Paul TumarkinByline Affiliation: Tech Launch ArizonaHeader image: YesNo Image: Subheading: Drug by Synactix Pharmaceuticals starves and obstructs tumor growth by preventing blood vessel formation and oncogene signaling.Include in UANow: yesInclude in Olympic Coverage: noFeature on Olympic Page: noUANow Image: Includes video: 

'Soil, Not Dirt' a Digital Journey

Mon, 07/06/2015 - 5:20pm

To Rebecca Lybrand, calling soil "dirt" is simplistic and diminishes its importance to plants, animals and humans. So why is soil, the foundation of life, constantly being referred to as "dirt"? 

That simple question turned into a career for Lybrand, now a soil scientist at the University of Arizona. She received her Ph.D. from the UA’s Department of Soil, Water and Environmental Science in 2014. She also received the 2014 Climate Assessment for the Southwest, or CLIMAS, Climate & Society Graduate Fellowship. 

Lybrand’s CLIMAS project centered on creating two short films that documented her research in the Santa Catalina Mountains. The films showcase four of her field sites, which span 4,000 feet of elevation gain. The sites differ in temperature, precipitation and vegetation, all of which have remarkable impact on the characteristics of the soils. 

The film previewed here, "Soil, Not Dirt," uses a first-person perspective to relay a scientific story (click here to watch the full-length version). The other film is in third person, similar to a science documentary.

Lybrand didn’t have much experience with shooting footage or editing video prior to working on the project. Her inspiration came from mountain biking, during which she has used a GoPro camera to film her adventures on the trails. She is a fan of attention-grabbing, professionally produced mountain biking documentaries.

"I always thought that the videos were really engaging and even people who don’t mountain bike enjoy watching them," Lybrand said.  "I kept thinking, 'This is the way to present science, in a fun and interactive way.'

"Everyone is always interested in the different types of outreach work that you do and in knowing that you are able to communicate to interdisciplinary teams of scientists and the public. Having this concrete visual representation of my research is a great product."

Video Thumbnail: Category(s): Science and TechnologyYouTube Video:  Soil, Not Dirt Video of Soil, Not Dirt Feature Sticky: OffFeature on Front: NoMedium Summary: Watch a short trailer about UA soil scientist Rebecca Lybrand's video for her postdoctoral fellowship, a project connecting soils, plants and climate. UANow Image: Date of Publication: Monday, July 6, 2015Send to Never Settle Site: 0Includes video: The story include video

UA Aids Survival From Cardiac Arrest

Mon, 07/06/2015 - 3:56pm

Arizona is saving more lives from cardiac arrest, and advances made in the state can be attributed directly to research at the University of Arizona.

From the "Stayin’ Alive" video produced by the Sarver Heart Center to efforts by the Arizona Emergency Medicine Research Center, the state’s efforts are a model of new national recommendations.

The center is part of the UA College of Medicine in Tucson and Phoenix. And two professors from the center — one based in Tucson, the other in Phoenix — were part of a select group chosen by the Institute of Medicine to formulate strategies to increase the survival rates of cardiac arrest victims.

That panel released its recommendations last week.

"Arizona is well ahead in the implementation of some of these recommendations, including the establishment of a registry, educating the public and the improvement of the emergency response systems," said Dr. Cara Christ, director of the Arizona Department of Health Services and a 2005 graduate of the UA College of Medicine.

"We have already seen many lives saved through our efforts with first responders and the hospital emergency rooms."

That is important, as the Institute of Medicine says cardiac arrest strikes almost 600,000 people nationwide each year, with only a fraction surviving. It’s the third-leading cause of death in the U.S. behind cancer and heart disease.

But Arizona already has increased that survival rate, said one of the co-authors of the national report, Dr. Bentley Bobrow, UA professor of emergency medicine and co-director of the Arizona Emergency Medicine Research Center–Phoenix.

"Over the last 10 years, we have saved more than 2,500 lives from cardiac arrest and we’ve quadrupled our survival rate in Arizona," said Bobrow, also the medical director for the Arizona Department of Health Services' Bureau of Emergency Medical Services and Trauma System. "When we started 10 years ago, it was dismal, like it is in lots of places."

Bobrow and Dr. Arthur B. Sanders, UA professor of emergency medicine and a member of the Arizona Emergency Medicine Research Center–Tucson and the Institute of Medicine, were part of the 19-member national panel that released its recommendations in a report titled "Strategies to Improve Cardiac Arrest Survival: A Time to Act."

The recommendations include a call to improve data collection, educate the public on administering CPR and using automated external defibrillators and enhance emergency response systems.

Bobrow noted that 15 people die daily in Arizona from cardiac arrest.

"It is a real public health problem, but it doesn’t have to be a death sentence — we can save people from cardiac arrest," he said. "It just takes these communities to train the public to understand the issues and the 911-EMS systems to implement these strategies to deliver rapid, high-quality care."

For Jose Garcia, a Phoenix-area resident, that lifesaving care came on Oct. 4, 2013, when he went into cardiac arrest at his home. Luckily his wife, Gina, a Phoenix police detective, knew how to perform chest compression-only CPR.

"In my case, I wasn’t aware of what I have," Garcia said of his rare heart condition. "Even if you don’t think you are a candidate for cardiac arrest and you don’t have heart disease in your family — I didn’t have any history of that in my family — it can happen to anybody at any time. But as long you are prepared, I am a prime example that you can definitely survive cardiac arrest."

In Arizona, the Resuscitation Research Group of the UA's Sarver Heart Center, including Drs. Gordon Ewy and Karl Kern, pioneered efforts to improve survival in Arizona and make Arizona a leader nationally in the treatment of patients suffering cardiac arrest, Sanders said.

The research group developed several free education resources for the general public and specific groups, which can be found at The Sarver group developed the chest compression-only protocols, and its "Stayin' Alive" video showing how to perform CPR has been seen more than 6 million times. More information also can be found at

"It is important that the public and leaders from our communities take actions that can significantly improve survival," Sanders said. "First, we need to take ownership of the public health issue. As a public, we need to ask: What is the survival rate for cardiac arrest in our communities and hospitals? How does this compare to other communities and hospitals? 

"Second, we and members of our family need to learn CPR and use it when called upon. Third, we need to support our communities and leaders to work to consistently improve survival from cardiac arrest."

The Institute of Medicine, which is part of the National Academy of Sciences, provides independent, objective, evidence-based advice to policymakers, health professionals, the private sector and the public.

Effective treatment for cardiac arrest demands an immediate response from an individual to recognize cardiac arrest. Call 911, start CPR and use an automated external defibrillator. Decreasing the time between the onset of cardiac arrest and the first chest compression is critical.

Although the terms often are used interchangeably, cardiac arrest is not the same as a heart attack. Cardiac arrest is when the heart stops due to a disturbance in its electrical activity that results in loss of mechanical function. The person almost instantaneously loses consciousness. A heart attack occurs when blood flow to an area of the heart is blocked by a narrowed or obstructed coronary artery.

Editor: dougcarrollByline: Al BravoByline Affiliation: UA College of Medicine-PhoenixExtra Info: 

Recommendations from the Institute of Medicine report:

  • Establish a national registry of cardiac arrest to monitor performance, identify problems and track progress.
  • Educate and train the public on how to recognize cardiac arrest, contact emergency responders, administer CPR and use AEDs, as well as facilitate state and local education departments to include CPR and AED training as middle- and high-school graduation requirements. 
  • Enhance performance of EMS systems with emphasis on dispatcher-assisted CPR and high-performance CPR.
  • Develop strategies to improve systems of care within hospital settings, including setting national accreditation standards related to cardiac arrest for hospitals and health care systems.
  • Adopt continuous quality improvement programs for cardiac arrest to promote accountability, encourage training and continued competency, and facilitate performance comparisons within hospitals and EMS and health care systems.
  • Expand research in cardiac arrest resuscitation and promote innovative technologies and treatments.
  • Create a national cardiac arrest collaborative to unify the field and identify common goals.
Header image: YesNo Image: Subheading: The Sarver Heart Center and the Arizona Emergency Medicine Research Center have contributed to a state survival rate that has quadrupled over the last 10 years.Include in UANow: yesInclude in Olympic Coverage: noFeature on Olympic Page: noUANow Image: Includes video: 

UA Offers Early Training in Cybersecurity

Mon, 07/06/2015 - 1:53pm

After a successful pilot, a cybersecurity training camp developed at the University of Arizona and other institutions in the U.S. has been expanded to dozens more this summer with support from the National Security Agency and the National Science Foundation.

"GenCyber," a new partnership between the NSA and NSF, is a summer camp geared toward informing youths and their teachers about the emergent field of cybersecurity. 

The UA, along with universities in several other states, offered camps last summer, designing and building programs for expanded implementation. This year, 43 camps are being offered across the nation — in states that include Alaska, California, Illinois, Florida and New York — and the NSA and NSF intend to grow the program to 200 camps by 2020. 

"This camp is about multiplying interest in cybersecurity," said William T. Neumann, a UA professor of practice in the Department of Management Information Systems, who leads the camp.

"Arizona GenCyber: A Career Awareness and Skills Capability-Building Cyber-Security Camp for Secondary Students and Teachers" will be held at Biosphere 2 from Sunday through July 18 and July 26-Aug. 1.

All told, 50 students and 10 teachers from schools across Arizona, including Tucson Unified, Vail, Sahuarita, Amphitheater, Tempe and Flowing Wells school districts, will attend the GenCyber camp. The program also will include Native American students and teachers from the Camp Verde district in central Arizona.

The UA camp, with student and faculty collaborators and mentors from computer science, management information systems, and electrical and computer engineering, provides exposure to the discipline and skills required to enter the field of cybersecurity. Participants will learn about cybersecurity theories and threats, deception, personal computing, cloud computing, privacy issues, social media platforms, mobile development and the UA's field-related programs. Students also will be organized into teams to complete experiential learning activities, such as a daily programming laboratory and a U.S. Cyber-Patriot-based competition, which will be facilitated by the undergraduate peer-mentors.

Teachers were selected to be involved in the UA camp to inform them on ways to incorporate cybersecurity in their curricula.

"Many times teachers are the front-line advisers," Neumann said. "Teachers have amazing influence on young people, so when they see that brilliant math student, they can let them know that cybersecurity is yet another choice available to them."

In addition to NSA and NSF support, the UA's GenCyber this year also received funding from the Wells Fargo Foundation and the Panhuise Foundation, allowing students and teachers to participate at no cost.

"It is very rewarding that based on our first year, both the Wells Fargo and Panhuise foundations decided to support our program. They are recognizing what the University brings to the table and that this camp offers very important skills for young people to have," Neumann said. 

"With the support of our sponsors, we are able to offer these students thousands of dollars in scholarships to study cybersecurity. This is a very exciting opportunity we can offer to the state of Arizona."

Beyond the UA, GenCyber summer camps will be held at 29 universities in 18 states this year, reaching thousands of middle- and high-school students.

"It is important to seize the imagination of young people who have an interest in this field, showing them the challenges and opportunities that await them," Steve LaFountain, dean of the NSA's College of Cyber, said in a statement. 

Innovations in computing, networking and software development have led to significant changes in the ways people gather and document information and also engage with others.

"GenCyber camps help interested young people — from every corner of the United States and from diverse backgrounds — gain some incredible experience in this ever-changing field," LaFountain said. "High standards and the issue of compliance are equally important. In addition to preparing young people to excel in tomorrow's workforce, we are teaching students the ethics of security so they learn how to be better citizens in cyberspace."

The UA is especially well positioned to train in cybersecurity, given its research-based expertise and programs.

Neumann co-facilitates GenCyber with Salim Hariri, professor of electrical and computer engineering and UA site director for the NSF's Center for Cloud and Autonomic Computing. Hariri, whose research involves using autonomic computing to better manage and protect cyber resources, has received awards for his innovative work in cybersecurity.

In 2013, the NSF awarded Eller College of Management researchers two grants amounting to $5.4 million to address significant cybersecurity research and education challenges around the globe. Hsinchun Chen, Regents' Professor and Thomas R. Brown Chair in Management and Technology in Eller's Department of Management Information Systems, is principal investigator on both projects.

Earlier this year, U.S. News & World Report ranked the UA's Department of Management Information Systems in the Eller College third in the U.S. among graduate information systems programs. Also, the UA has been designated as a National Center of Academic Excellence in Information Assurance Education since 2009 and recently had the designation renewed through 2021.

Neumann said the summer camp is also a way to acquaint students with options at the UA.

"We are part of a larger STEM initiative," he said. "If we do not get students to take interest in cybersecurity, we want them to be interested in the underpinnings of the profession — mathematics, computer science and engineering."

Editor: dougcarrollByline Affiliation: University Relations - CommunicationsHeader image: YesNo Image: Subheading: For the second year, the University is hosting a cybersecurity camp for high school students through a program sponsored by the National Security Agency and the National Science Foundation.Include in UANow: yesInclude in Olympic Coverage: noFeature on Olympic Page: noUANow Image: Includes video: 

Professor-Student Team Brings Awareness to Virus

Thu, 07/02/2015 - 2:36pm

Felicia Goodrum, a University of Arizona associate professor of immunobiology and member of the BIO5 Institute, has spent the last 20 years researching viruses. Most of that time has been devoted specifically to the cytomegalovirus, or CMV, one of eight human herpesviruses infecting 60 to 99 percent of adults worldwide.

CMV infects most people early in life, but in healthy individuals it causes no symptoms and is controlled by the immune system. However, in those with compromised immune systems, or when passed from a mother to an unborn child, the virus can have devastating consequences.

To raise awareness of the risks involved with being a carrier of the CMV virus, and to provide tips to prevent passing it on, Goodrum and Bre Eder, a UA undergraduate student in the Mel and Enid Zuckerman College of Public Health, developed a unique cross-disciplinary collaboration. Over the course of the last year, the two have worked together to create educational materials targeting the lay public as well as the medical community. The materials also will be used to educate at-risk groups.

CMV poses a substantial risk to a developing fetus. More babies are born infected with CMV than are born with Down syndrome, fetal alcohol syndrome, neural tube defects or Toxoplasma gondii. One in five children born with CMV will suffer permanent disability including hearing loss, cognitive deficits, cerebral palsy, and other defects. Because of this, the Institute of Medicine has ranked the development of a CMV vaccine as a matter of the highest priority because of the number of lives it would save and disabilities it would prevent. Despite this, few women are even aware of CMV.

Eder was unfamiliar with the virus and its potential impact until she attended an open house for the Department of Immunobiology held at BIO5. After touring Goodrum’s lab, Eder became excited about the research taking place and expressed interest in contributing. Soon after, she began her senior internship in the Goodrum lab, learning about basic research studying a human virus and taking on the challenge of increasing public awareness of the congenital CMV infection.

The unique collaboration has allowed for an undergraduate student to gain hands-on experience working with a world-class researcher on a grand health challenge — an opportunity that has proved valuable for both and serves as an example of 100% Engagement at the UA.

"Exploring CMV under Dr. Goodrum has been one of the most beneficial and humbling experiences of my college career," Eder said. "Aside from having the chance to meet such a passionate and personable group of scientists and experience scientific research firsthand, I’ve been able to interact with families of children born with CMV, policymakers and nonprofit organizations to help increase knowledge of this preventable virus."

Goodrum said she has benefited from employing a student focused on public health in her lab.

"A new and powerful way to more closely bind biomedical research to the people it impacts," she said, "is for researchers to partner with public health experts who can assist in the dissemination of knowledge, and increase awareness of public health threats as well as the critical role that research plays in public health.

"Education will go a long way in preventing congenital infections with devastating effects, and I’m excited that my collaboration with Bre allowed us to further that goal."

Goodrum and Eder were able to design and exhibit posters, flyers and brochures, as well as to present this year at Science City at the Tucson Festival of Books and at the 10th annual Frontiers in Immunobiology/Immunopathogenesis symposium poster session. In addition, they produced a public service announcement focused on knowledge and prevention.

Goodrum said that the idea of interdisciplinary collaboration encouraged by the UA, and specifically the BIO5 Institute, was what facilitated her and Eder’s work together.

"Science is very much a social study," she said, "and when you are able to incorporate the perspective of a diverse set of disciplines into your research, you are seeding an environment conducive for the pursuit of education and knowledge, which is what the Goodrum lab, and BIO5, is all about."

Editor: dougcarrollByline: Lisa RomeroByline Affiliation: BIO5 InstituteHeader image: YesNo Image: Subheading: The curiosity of public health student Bre Eder led to an internship with immunobiology professor Felicia Goodrum on the cytomegalovirus and its potentially devastating effects.Include in UANow: 0Include in Olympic Coverage: noFeature on Olympic Page: noUANow Image: Includes video: 

Fusing Chemistry and Commerce

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

Text by Paul Tumarkin, Tech Launch Arizona

The Department of Chemistry and Biochemistry in the University of Arizona’s College of Science has long been a powerhouse in research and is now its leading producer of intellectual property through a working relationship with Tech Launch Arizona.

Prior to the UA’s Never Settle academic and strategic plan, the College of Science disclosed about two dozen inventions per year. Then, in 2012, UA President Ann Weaver Hart brought Vice President David Allen aboard to lead TLA and build a culture around innovation and commercialization. The unit was tasked with bringing the inventions emanating from University research to market, creating social and economic impact.

The 45 faculty members in chemistry and biochemistry, or CBC, are now producing about 50 invention disclosures — about one-fourth of all disclosures TLA receives — and one startup company per year. Over half of those disclosures become provisional patents. And over half of those provisionals are converted to full patent applications.

In short, the research and inventions of CBC faculty are making their way into the world, which is how tech transfer is supposed to work.

"In a department this big, there are always people who say that they want an idea to go to the next level," says Roger Miesfeld, head of CBC. "It’s the mindset of the entrepreneurial faculty member that moves things toward commercialization."

CBC historically has been a catalyst for impact by bringing such research to market. Companies such Selectide (predecessor to Sanofi) and GlycoSurf are prime examples of startups that emerged from entrepreneurial faculty.

TLA helps faculty protect inventions through the patent process and turn them into intellectual property. That IP is then licensed to existing companies or startups, and the UA receives royalties in exchange for use of the knowledge.

"TLA has streamlined the whole process," Miesfeld says, "and now that natural entrepreneurial spirit of chemists and biochemists can be manifested at the University of Arizona."

At the urging of Paul Eynott, TLA’s licensing manager embedded in the College of Science, Miesfeld decided to try the process himself.

"We had a compound that, when we put it into female mosquitoes, it made the blood go into her crop (where nectar is usually stored) instead of her stomach and she died," Miesfeld says. "We said, 'That’s a really weird drug and it does something we’ve never seen before.' So we went to Eynott and asked if he could do something with it."

Today, two years on, Eynott has helped to patent the molecule, and the UA is in negotiations with a multinational chemical company to license the IP.

Among the other CBC faculty success stories are:

Jon Njardarson

Jon Njardarson has literally put a new learning tool in the pockets of organic chemistry students around the world. In collaboration with the Office of Instructional Assessment, Njardarson developed Chemistry by Design, an elegant mobile app that helps in learning organic chemistry. He is working with TLA to commercialize the app.

"There’s nothing more satisfying to a scientist than sketching out an idea and seeing it realized," Njardarson says.

Katrina Miranda

Katrina Miranda studies a class of molecules called nitrogen oxides, focusing on the treatment of breast cancer. The disease has touched a number of people in her life.

When it comes to drug development, academic research can only go so far, she says. For a drug to go out for medical use, it must be patented and then licensed to a company that can afford to shepherd it through clinical trials. Miranda is working with TLA on a patent and starting a company to make her invention more attractive to a pharmaceutical firm.

"TLA has helped me figure out what I can do," she says. "I’m certainly not a business person. I’m a chemist. I’m a scientist. So they’ve been helping me go through that process and think about the business side."

Michael Heien

Michael Heien is delving into the role of neurochemistry in depression, learning, heart disease and memory. Through sensors developed in his lab, he and his graduate students are learning about brain chemicals involved in modulating disease states in collaboration with psychologists and pharmacologists.

"We have probes (fibers that can be inserted into brain tissue) that we’ve modified that makes them resistant to biofouling," Heien says. "We’ve come up with some coatings to make these sensors really phenomenal in their ability."

Heien and TLA have filed a patent for the invention, whose use extends to aircraft manufacturers.

"You can coat carbon fibers and get better adhesion to the polymers used in building aircraft parts," Heien says. "That’s not something we would normally think of in our research."

John Jewett

John Jewett set up his lab to understand the dengue virus through the use of techniques in chemical biology. His research focused on looking for small molecules to understand how the virus interacts.

In researching the pure chemistry of the virus, Jewett and his team were looking at chemicals called trezebutadienes and phenols. On their own in the air, these molecules don’t bond together, but Jewett found they get sticky in water.

"Even in our first conversation where I brought this idea up to Paul from a chemical perspective, he started asking things like, 'What could you use this for? Could it be used for this or that or something else?'" Jewett recalls.

Patents have been filed for the technology for applications such as fixing cracks in deep water oil pipelines.

Video Thumbnail: Category(s): Science and TechnologyYouTube Video:  UA Chemistry and Biochemistry Leads Research to Marketplace Video of UA Chemistry and Biochemistry Leads Research to Marketplace Feature Sticky: OffFeature on Front: NoMedium Summary: The UA's Department of Chemistry and Biochemistry, led by Roger Miesfeld, provides a textbook example of how research is brought to market via Tech Launch Arizona.UANow Image: Date of Publication: Wednesday, July 1, 2015Send to Never Settle Site: 0Includes video: The story include video

An Intern's Postcards From Tanzania

Wed, 07/01/2015 - 4:51pm

A view of Mount Kilimanjaro from the airplane. The mountain, located in Tanzania, rises as the highest peak on the African continent.

Although I've been in Dar es Salaam, Tanzania, for two weeks now, I still feel as if I have yet to arrive.

This part of Africa is different from the one I know and love. It includes a huge house on the Msasani Peninsula a block away from the Indian Ocean, access to running water, flushing toilets, electricity, swimming pools, microwaves, Snickers bars, rice milk and, yes, even espresso.

The last time I lived in Africa, I was a Peace Corps volunteer in Kenya. PCVs are expected to live as host country nationals do, using the same public transportation options, shopping in the same food markets, and having the same access to natural resources and infrastructure. Because PCVs live alongside local residents who are trying, through various grass-roots initiatives, to develop and improve their communities, PCVs are directly involved in projects and spend hours in people’s homes, businesses, schools and farms.

It is said to be good luck if you wash your face with water from the well located at the Kaole ruins, which contain a mosque and graves.

When I was a PCV, I lived in the village and didn't have running water — I collected rainwater or went to the nearest bore hole. I didn't have electricity. I shared one small solar panel with a neighbor and had just enough power to run my radio. And I certainly did not have a flushing toilet, swimming pool or espresso.

Working with the United States Agency for International Development, on the other hand, is a completely different experience. USAID is part of the U.S. Foreign Service, and while they are, like the Peace Corps, focused on development work, USAID staffers do so at much higher management and political levels than PCVs do.

Traveling through Dar es Salaam, a port city in Tanzania that is one of the fastest-growing cities in Africa.

This means that USAID staff (and interns) live in big cities rather than small villages. We coordinate with host country governments, gather and assess data, design large-scale development projects, and contract them out to nongovernmental organizations that do the on-the-ground implementation of projects.

This contrast has helped USAID to earn the nickname "Peace Corps for adults," and it’s no surprise that a large percentage of USAID staffers were Peace Corps volunteers at some time in their youth.

Leishara Ward works with Joseph Kaiza in Tanzania.

While USAID is an American organization, do not think of it as a patriarchal holdover of colonialism, where the Americans come in with absurd and inappropriate solutions to the "poor African" problems. Argue the political pros and cons of the U.S. providing foreign aid to developing countries all you want, but the fact remains that the majority of USAID staff members in this country are Tanzanian nationals.

These professionals work side by side with very few Americans in the office, creating, tracking and managing programs that research suggests will help to alleviate extreme poverty, boost the overall national economy and public welfare, and build a strong middle class.

A tour of the ruins of a 13th-century mosque, located in Kaole in Tanzania.

I'm learning about how USAID operates, with Tanzanians providing the long-term institutional memory for the organization, while Americans provide the governmental hierarchy, financial and technical oversight, and cultural liaison services.

I'm also getting more comfortable with the concept of living like an expat in an environment where most residents in this society cannot afford to do so.

Packed in the van and ready to tour.

Tanzanians who work for American organizations such as USAID are paid wages that are set by the market rate in Tanzania for their given positions, while Americans are paid wages set by the market rate in the U.S. for our given positions. Unfortunately, the difference in pay between the two can be drastic and a source of tension between the groups.

On the other hand, it would be extremely difficult to staff American positions in a diplomatic mission overseas if they were not offered a competitive employment package compared to what might be offered in the States. If we want the best and the brightest representing our country to other national governments — and I would argue that we do — then we have to pay them well.

Leishara Ward visits the grave of a 13th century relative of a sultan, located at the Kaole ruins.

This internship is giving me a new perspective on the cultural rift that this socioeconomic divide creates between expats and their host country counterparts, and it’s good to see upper management taking it seriously. Within the last month, Tanzanians working at USAID received a raise and are currently shopping for health insurance.

Personally, I just feel lucky to be here and to participate in the process. I hope to make a career with USAID after graduation, and I expect that what I'm learning at the UA will prepare me for this job — especially as a program officer at one of the overseas missions. 

From the historic German fort, you can see settlements below.

For now, I’m really enjoying the privilege that I have to live in this amazing country and still have access to some of my favorite creature comforts from home.

Leishara Ward at a 19th-century German fort in Tanzania.

Photos courtesy of Leishara Ward; Portrait by John de Dios/UANews

Leishara Ward, who is in the Master's in Public Administration program in the School of Government and Public Policy while working toward a certificate in collaborative governance, is one of four students selected as a 2015 UANews student columnist. The columnist initiative was launched in June by UANews and provides students the opportunity to share insights about the work and research they will be doing over the summer in various parts of the United States and abroad. It is the UA's 100% Engagement in action, and the students' experiences will prepare them to be real-world ready upon graduation.



Categories: Social Sciences and EducationTeaching and StudentsThis is a Wildcat Corner feature: Images: Tags: StudentsStudent Life2015 UANews Student ColumnistByline: Leishara Ward, 2015 UANews Student Columnist |UANow Image: Editor: dougcarrollInclude in UANow: yesDate of Publication: Wednesday, July 1, 2015Medium Summary: Leishara Ward previously served as a Peace Corps volunteer in Kenya and is currently working with USAID in Tanzania, and she says the experiences are very different.Feature on Front: NoShort Summary: Leishara Ward compares experiences working in Kenya and Tanzania. Send to Never Settle Site: 0UA in the News Spotlight: Includes video: 

UA Launches College-Access Initiative

Wed, 07/01/2015 - 4:09pm

An initiative designed to increase the number of low-income, first-generation students who enter and complete college will launch in five Tucson high schools in the fall, staffed by recent University of Arizona graduates.

The work of the College Advising Corps, a 15-year-old nonprofit organization whose educational partners include some of the nation’s premier public and private universities, was introduced to Tucson educators at a breakfast on the UA campus last week.

"We’ve been looking at ways of increasing college access," said Kasey Urquidez, the University’s dean of undergraduate admissions. "Building a pipeline to higher education is something we are committed to."

The new program is seen as another way for the UA to continue the steady growth it has experienced in minority student enrollment over the past 30 years. That number has increased at a rate of about 1 percent per year, to 37.5 percent last fall.

The UA already has demonstrated success with Hispanic students, who represent nearly 60 percent of minority enrollment at the University. The six-year graduation rate for Hispanic students is comparable to that of the overall student population, and the retention rate has been climbing since 2010, to more than 80 percent, which bodes well for the future.

The Advising Corps, which has the financial backing of several large corporations and foundations, will place full-time advisers in Flowing Wells, Amphitheater and Sunnyside high schools, plus two high schools in the Tucson Unified School District that are still to be determined.

The advisers will begin a month of training next week under program director Catalina Carlos, who already was on staff at the UA. They will assist students at all four grade levels with an assortment of college-readiness tasks and activities that overloaded school guidance counselors often have little time to administer.

Areas of focus will include college academic requirements, the admissions process, financial aid, entrance exams, parent orientation and campus visits. A comprehensive, data-rich evaluation will be produced at the end of the academic year.

The UA will be the only Advising Corps-affiliated university in Arizona, and it is committed to the program for at least two years.

"A college-educated workforce has never been more important to the state of Arizona," said Melissa Vito, the UA’s senior vice president of student affairs and enrollment management. "The College Advising Corps program will reach more high school students about what it takes to continue their education."

Other prominent universities in the program include Duke, North Carolina, Michigan, Texas, USC and the University of California, Berkeley. According to the Advising Corps, high school students who work with its advisers are 30 percent more likely to apply to a four-year institution of higher education and 24 percent more likely to be accepted.

"By assisting more students and their families with college information early and throughout high school, we will continue to grow the college-going rate for all populations, including first-generation and underrepresented students," Urquidez said.

Krystal Price, who graduated in May from the UA in nutritional sciences, will work as an adviser at Flowing Wells High School and said she can’t wait to get started.

"Sometimes (high school students) have so many aspirations and no idea where to start," said Price, herself a first-generation college student who graduated from Mountain View High in the Marana Unified School District.

"I want to be part of providing the route. A big obstacle is confidence: 'Can I do this?' That holds a lot of kids back. They need to see themselves as being able to do it."

The principal at Flowing Wells, Jim Brunenkant, attended the kickoff event and said the school has publicized its commitment to send 100 percent of its students on to postsecondary education or training. Last spring’s graduating class was at 93 percent, he said.

Steve Holmes, the new superintendent of the Sunnyside Unified School District, said the Advising Corps program "aligns well with our vision" and should relieve some of the burden shouldered by guidance counselors, of whom fewer than a half-dozen may serve as many as 2,200 students.

He said the one-to-one meetings that advisers will conduct with some students have the potential to be game changers.

"We’re hoping to tailor those visits so that the conversations are targeted," Holmes said. "The adviser can really focus on 'How can we get you ready for college?'"

The new program follows a six-year Gear Up grant for college preparation that ended in 2010, according to Rudy McCormick, the UA’s director of early outreach. That grant placed cohort limitations on grade-level access, he said, but the Advising Corps initiative does not.

"These schools with advisers will look different than the ones that don’t have them," McCormick said. "This is one more person to get involved and bring in new ideas. The emphasis is to build on the college-going culture."  

Editor: dougcarrollByline: Doug CarrollByline Affiliation: University Relations — CommunicationsExtra Info: 

For more information about the College Advising Corps, go to 

Header image: YesNo Image: Subheading: Five recent University graduates have been selected as advisers for the College Advising Corps, with the goal of building a pipeline to college for underserved high school students.Include in UANow: yesInclude in Olympic Coverage: noFeature on Olympic Page: noUANow Image: Includes video: 

100% Engagement Initiative Ready for Prime Time

Wed, 07/01/2015 - 12:35pm

At a time when job hunting or getting into graduate school is more competitive than ever for freshly minted college grads, the University of Arizona is enhancing student learning by providing formally documented, experiential education through its newly launched 100% Engagement initiative.

The 100% Engagement initiative is an important component of the UA's Never Settle strategic academic and business plan that promises all undergraduate students an opportunity to gain hands-on experience in their chosen field before they graduate. These opportunities, which are a central component of students' education at the UA, include internships, externships, research projects, creative activities, service learning and community volunteerism, and other hands-on learning activities.

The UA's 100% Engagement policy is unique in that students will have their experiences formally documented on their transcripts. Starting in the fall, students will be able to graduate with an "Engaged Learning Experience" notation on their official transcripts.

The initiative is designed to enhance the quality of students' education, improve student retention and graduation rates, and generate skilled, qualified graduates who are sought by the best employers and postgraduate programs.

"The UA is committed to engaging students by developing programs that integrate experiential learning into their everyday education," said Vincent Del Casino, vice provost of digital learning and student engagement and associate vice president for student affairs and enrollment management.

"Our students are already some of the most sought-after students in the country. The UA's 100% Engagement initiative builds on the great tradition of experiential learning at the University by expanding student access to applied learning in and beyond the classroom."

The UA's newly created Office of Student Engagement recently launched a website to explain how the policy works and provide resources for students, faculty and staff. The website can be found at

Each Engaged Learning Experience is tied to one Engagement Activity and one Engagement Competency. Activities will be part of formally approved for-credit curriculum or noncredit experiences. Competencies are designed to describe the focus areas of expertise gained by a student's participation in the activity.

Engagement Activities include: Community Partnership, Creative Expression, Discovery, Entrepreneurship, Intercultural Exploration, Leadership, and Professional Development.

Engagement Competencies include: Civic and Community Responsibility; Diversity and Identity; Global and Intercultural Comprehension; Innovation and Creativity; Interdisciplinarity; Professionalism; and Sustainability.

To further enhance the 100% Engagement initiative, the UA established its Institute for Career Readiness and Engagement last year to connect students with employers. The institute is funded through the Office of the Governor's Workforce Development grant program. It provides students with early career coaching programs and help in identifying internships and job opportunities.

In addition, the Office of Student Engagement has invested in 14 new engagement staff positions in the academic colleges to support the growth of the initiative.

For more information about 100% Engagement at the UA, visit

Editor: dougcarrollByline: Amanda BallardByline Affiliation: University Relations - CommunicationsHeader image: YesNo Image: Subheading: The UA's newly created Office of Student Engagement recently launched a website to explain how 100% Engagement works and to provide resources for students and employees.Include in UANow: yesInclude in Olympic Coverage: noFeature on Olympic Page: noUANow Image: Includes video: 

UA Historian Studies Revolutionary War Veterans

Tue, 06/30/2015 - 11:20am

On July 4, 1822, Lewis Spencer, an aging veteran of the Revolutionary War, commemorated independence by doing something he had long hesitated to do: He drafted a petition to the Virginia legislature asking for a pension.

"Your petitioner," Spencer wrote, "lost his eyes, in defence of his Country; whose happiness he is unable to behold; in whose prosperity he cannot participate; whose blessings he cannot share; but whose independence, glory and transcendent fame he is left to admire in poverty and utter darkness."

The lives of Spencer and other Revolutionary War veterans with disabilities will be explored in a book by Ben Irvin, an associate professor in the University of Arizona Department of History who is an expert in that period of U.S. history.

Tentatively titled "'I Still Have an Independent Spirit': Veterans' Disability After the Revolutionary War," the book will examine the social construction of disability in the founding era of the United States, and it also will delve into issues of masculinity, class and government bureaucracy. Irvin will write during the 2015-2016 academic year, when he takes residence at Washington College in Chestertown, Maryland, as the Patrick Henry Writing Fellow.

The title of the book is inspired by Moses Rollins, a Revolutionary War veteran who bound himself into three years of indentured servitude to pay for his medical care and later was able to have his leg amputated because a "good many" of his neighbors "throwdd in" to pay for the operation. When Rollins finally applied for a disability pension in 1812, he explained his previous reluctance: "I have both fought and bled for the Independence of our Country, and I still have an independent spirit."

Irvin began his research for the book in 2009, when he discovered a large number of online pension files underutilized by historians.

At the same time, he forged a friendship with Michael Rembis, a former graduate student who helped create the Disability Studies Initiative at the UA. Rembis, currently an associate professor of history at the University of Buffalo and president of the Society for Disability Studies, introduced Irvin to the social model of disability, which says disability does not arise from physical conditions but from the way it is accommodated. That would serve as an important framework for Irvin's research.

Access to Pension Records

Irvin said historians have tended to focus on federal pension records, most of which were created in the 1820s, when the government began awarding poverty pensions.

However, he wanted to examine soldiers such as Spencer and Rollins, who delayed applying for a pension, and also those who were badly impaired and required financial assistance right away. To do that, he needed access to the state pension records of the 1770s and 1780s.

With funds from the Magellan Circle, the donor society that supports the UA College of Social and Behavioral Sciences, Irvin hired two undergraduate students to help him wade through online records.

As his project advanced, he realized he would need to do field research.

Last year, with the help of research fellowships, including the Emilia Galli Struppa Fellowship at the Virginia Foundation for the Humanities, Irvin traveled to Charlottesville, Virginia; Chicago and Boston to review pension records, receiving a crash course in 18th-century field medicine from the Harvard University medical library along the way.

In his book, Irvin will argue that the earliest U.S. pension administration shaped veterans' disability in a number of ways.

A pension applicant had to testify under oath that he no longer could earn a living, which, according to the gender norms of the day, was the most fundamental obligation of manhood.

"By predicating aid on lost breadwinning capacity, Revolutionary pension legislation challenged the veteran's sense of masculine attainment," Irvin said. "As a result, many veterans, like Moses Rollins, faced the prospect of a pension with shame."

Irvin also notes that the way the government determined the pension amount accentuated class distinctions among impaired veterans. Benefits were computed not only by the extent of the injury but also by salary and rank, which was a reflection of social stature. By contrast, in 1793 France's National Convention ensured that enlisted men earned pensions at the same rate as high-ranking officers.

"The U.S. government grafted the individual's class onto his very limbs and organs," Irvin said. "For example, Col. John Greene, who lost the use of his right arm, earned a pension of 100 pounds. Meanwhile, Pvt. John Morris, who lost the use of that same limb, earned a mere 18 pounds." Some states paid pensions in pounds, where one pound translated into $3.33. Veterans were expected to pay for their medical expenses out of their annual pensions.

Irvin's book also will explore the way conflict between state and federal statutes wreaked havoc on veterans'  pension allocations and impacted how veterans experienced disability.

In 1776, the Continental Congress urged the states to create disability pensions for soldiers injured in the war. But because at that time Congress had no power to tax, it asked the states to pay for and administer the pensions.

Different States, Different Systems

Thirteen states meant 13 different pension systems. States broke down partial disability in different increments and had inconsistent application procedures. For example, in Virginia, veterans had to be examined by a doctor, whereas in Massachusetts veterans applied to a commissioner of pensions, a political post held by John Lucas, who earned his living as a "master baker." In Massachusetts, veterans also were granted pensions for diseases that stemmed from battle, such as rheumatism — a benefit that the federal government would restrict.

To promote a uniform entitlement for veterans, the Confederation Congress established a new schedule of monetary awards in 1785, resulting in a drastic redistribution of funds. For example, Pvt. James Davenport, who had a musket ball lodged in his left ankle, formerly received a pension of 24 pounds, but after the reform of 1785 his pension was cut to six pounds, reducing him "to the mortifying and disgraceful situation of begging."

"Slowly government centralized and standardized the pension system, but every time the new federal government took a misstep, the veterans felt it," Irvin said.

In another example, in 1792 the federal government created the Invalid Pensions Act, which was then repealed due to a tussle over the separation of legislative and judicial powers. "In the meantime, a bunch of veterans were thrust into limbo," Irvin said.

Irvin hopes his book will provide historical context for present-day veterans’ health care administration as well as illustrate how pension bureaucracies at times obstruct relief.

"This project also dispels romantic myths about the American Revolution," Irvin said. "By recovering the bodily histories of ordinary young men who enlisted in the Continental Army, it demonstrates that the Revolutionary War was, like all wars, a devastating event."

Editor: dougcarrollWriter: Lori HarwoodByline: Lori HarwoodByline Affiliation: UA College of Social and Behavioral SciencesHeader image: YesNo Image: Subheading: In a forthcoming book, UA associate professor Ben Irvin will examine the long-ago history of veterans' disability benefits in the U.S., noting widespread inequities in the aftermath of war. Include in UANow: yesInclude in Olympic Coverage: noFeature on Olympic Page: noUANow Image: Includes video: 

2 From UA Solve Public Health Issue, Win Competition

Tue, 06/30/2015 - 10:53am

With no treatment available to prevent the spread of chikungunya, a viral disease transmitted to people by mosquitoes, dozens of teams competed in the CHIKV Challenge to develop the most accurate predictions for cases of the disease for all Western Hemisphere countries and territories.

Hosted by the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency, which commissions advanced research on behalf of the U.S. Department of Defense, the international competition was launched to accelerate the development of new infectious-disease forecasting methods. 

The competition culminated in a win for the University of Arizona.

UA mathematics professor Joceline Lega and collaborator Heidi Brown, an assistant professor of epidemiology in the Mel and Enid Zuckerman College of Public Health, took first place and a $150,000 prize, which will support their ongoing collaboration.

All told, 11 winners were named, receiving a total of $500,000 in prize money, representing institutions that also included the University of Southern California, Johns Hopkins University and the University of Massachusetts.

The win exemplifies the collaborative work of Lega and Brown, the UA's efforts to create proactive measures to minimize the spread of viruses and also the University's interdisciplinary emphasis for solving grand challenges both locally and internationally.

"Our model is extremely simple, which was at first quite surprising," Lega said, adding that she and Brown are now trying to determine if the approach could be used for other epidemics.

Chikungunya, considered a growing public health and national security risk, has been detected in Africa, Southern Europe, Southeast Asia and also islands in the Indian and Pacific Oceans, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reports.

In 2013, the disease was reported for the first time in the Caribbean, the CDC also reported. The Pan-American Health Organization has reported, as of May, nearly 1.4 million suspected cases and more than 33,000 confirmed cases of the virus, noting that it is swiftly spreading in the Western Hemisphere.

"There are two reasons I study these diseases: One reason is because of the public health impact and the other is because of the intellectual challenge," Brown said.

"You can look at number of cases: over a million chikungunya cases in this one outbreak alone, or the 50 to 100 million dengue infections estimated by the World Health Organization to occur each year," Brown said. "If you consider for each of these cases the physical burden, the economic burden on the individual, community or country, if you consider the efforts into vector control — these diseases are having a huge impact globally." 

Consider the burden of the West Nile virus. Brown cited research indicating that costs associated with U.S. hospital care and deaths as a result of the West Nile virus, as reported to the CDC, reached about $778 million during a period spanning 1999 to 2012. 

During the CHIKV Challenge, scientists and researchers representing 38 institutions were called to produce ways to accurately predict when and where chikungunya — which can result in a fever, joint and muscle pain, swelling, rashes and other symptoms — might appear.

Like the other teams, Lega and Brown were provided weekly reports from the Pan-American Health Organization to develop their predictions, which were then tested against future reports from the organization. Lega and Brown were able to estimate the number, duration and peak of chikungunya cases that occurred in 2014 and 2015 in the Caribbean.

By design, CHIKV Challenge participants were allowed to update their predictions every month as they learned from experience — a challenge structure that sped development of better methods. On average, the top participants succeeded in doubling the accuracy of their predictions every two months relative to their initial forecasts.

"From a mathematical modeling perspective, it was a unique opportunity to develop a model that was based on real data," Lega said.

Brown said mosquito-borne diseases are especially difficult due to the complexity of their systems.

"We try to model the interactions between mosquitoes, pathogens and humans — each adapting, evolving, changing their behavior by both the behavior of the other and the environment in which these interactions exist. Add to that a changing climate," Brown said.

"Any headway we can make in predicting the number of cases, when cases will peak, when an outbreak will end, or how severe an outbreak will be is helpful in reducing the disease burden."

Editor: dougcarrollWriter: La Monica Everett-Haynes and Gerri KellyByline: La Monica Everett-Haynes and Gerri KellyByline Affiliation: University Relations - Communications and the Arizona Health Sciences CenterHeader image: YesNo Image: Subheading: Through a cross-college collaboration, a UA team has won an international competition for its work developing methods for advanced forecasting of infectious disease. Include in UANow: yesInclude in Olympic Coverage: noFeature on Olympic Page: noUANow Image: Includes video: 

'A False Sense of Urgency' About Asteroid Danger

Mon, 06/29/2015 - 2:39pm

If there were a way to label an asteroid after its discoverer, one out of every two space rocks tumbling about in our neighborhood of the solar system would have a big red-and-blue "A" on it. And that's because of 12,700 known near-Earth asteroids, 5,800 were discovered through the Catalina Sky Survey, an asteroid detection program founded in 1998 at the University of Arizona's Lunar and Planetary Laboratory.

To make sure humanity doesn't go the way of the dinosaurs, the Asteroid Day initiative has chosen June 30 to raise awareness — and funds — for asteroid detection programs. UANews spoke with Eric Christensen, director of the Catalina Sky Survey and staff scientist at LPL, about the real and imagined dangers of incoming rocks from outer space.

If we are to believe the Asteroid Day initiative, a mere 1 percent of about 1 million asteroids capable of destroying a city have been discovered. Is that true?

Statements like these have a grain of truth, but are extremely misleading at the same time. Population models suggest that there are about 1 million "Near-Earth Objects," or NEOs, down to around 50 meters in diameter, and yes, we have only seen about 1 percent of them. But the majority of these, while classified as NEOs because they can approach the Earth to less than 45 million kilometers — more than 100 times the distance to the moon — pose zero risk of impact. Zero. Their orbits just do not intersect the orbit of the Earth. Even for the small subset of these million objects that can potentially impact the Earth, they will strike a random place on the planet when their time comes, hundreds or thousands or millions of years down the road. Only a small fraction of the Earth’s surface is populated, so it’s just very unlikely they will impact directly over a city. We’ll most likely end up with an airburst over the ocean, or another Tunguska-like event that just knocks down a bunch of trees.

Where do we stand with respect asteroids vs. Earth? Are we doomed?

NASA was directed by Congress in 1998 to find 90 percent of asteroids measuring 1,000 meters or more. The impact of an object that size would have global consequences, potentially extinctions. It would lift up a tremendous amount of pulverized rock and water vapor into the atmosphere, causing an effect similar to nuclear winter, where the amount of sunlight that reaches the Earth would be diminished for several years, severely disrupting the global food chains. NASA-funded surveys like the Catalina Sky Survey; the Spacewatch Project, which was initiated at the UA in 1984; and other surveys have discovered almost 13,000 NEOs. The original goal to find the 1-kilometer objects has been met, giving us the confidence to essentially rule out a civilization-ending impact in the foreseeable future. The remaining risk posed by smaller NEOs continues to drop as more and more of those objects are discovered. NASA is now mandated to push the search down to smaller sizes, to NEOs measuring 140 meters or larger, which is about the size of a football stadium. An impact by an asteroid of that size would have significant regional consequences, potentially affecting an area the size of a small country or so. We believe that our inventory of objects in that category is only about 25 percent complete, so there is still significant work to be done.

Where do asteroids come from?

Asteroids are primitive remnants from the birth of the solar system. Most of the asteroids we know about harmlessly orbit the sun in relatively stable orbits in the main asteroid belt between Mars and Jupiter. Scientists have cataloged over 800,000 main-belt asteroids, but the full population down to small sizes likely reaches into the hundreds of millions. Under the influence of Jupiter's gravity, some asteroids are nudged into the inner solar system, where they become NEOs. On timescales of millions of years, NEO orbits are unstable, and most of them end up smashing into a planet or evolving back into more distant orbits.

What are the actual risks of a devastating asteroid impact?

Impacts of 1-kilometer asteroids happen maybe once per half-million years. Impacts of objects in the 140-meter range statistically happen every 10,000 years or so. We are not talking about events that happen on timescales of human lifetimes here, which makes the real risk a little difficult to understand. Risk is expressed in terms of predicted losses to human life and infrastructure, integrated over millions of years. Some people will spin these numbers into comparisons that sound like an asteroid is likely to kill you or someone you love, and that it's something you need to have a visceral fear of. I try to gently steer people away from that. The chances of a major impact within our lifetime or the lifetimes of our children is extremely low, but it’s easy to focus on the drastic consequences rather than the tiny probabilities.

The individuals behind Asteroid Day call for discovery efforts to be stepped up a hundredfold. Is that necessary to keep us safe?

I think there is a false sense of urgency to find every potential impactor as soon as possible. Pushing the survey completeness to smaller diameters will incur greater and greater costs, to address smaller and smaller risks. I see no reason to try and find every last one of the millions of 10-meter NEOs that will harmlessly explode in the Earth's atmosphere should they ever come our way. It would be nice to detect a few of these prior to impact, and CSS has demonstrated that this is actually possible with our current set of telescopes. But finding every single 10-meter NEO in the solar system would be a multibillion-dollar effort, and if the ultimate goal is to protect and improve human lives, then there are a lot of other things we could be doing right now with that kind of money that have immediate and guaranteed benefits for society.

How are asteroids discovered?

The business of discovering asteroids is pretty routine: We use wide-field telescopes to scan the skies, night after night, looking for things that move. Ten years ago, CSS was discovering NEOs at a rate of 300 per year. Last year, we discovered more than 600. Most of that improvement has been due to more sophisticated software. We are currently replacing the cameras in our two survey telescopes to cover more sky, and we have refurbished a one-meter telescope next to the one on Mount Lemmon, which will be mostly used for follow-up observations. One of the great benefits of searching for NEOs is that there is a tremendous amount of insight from incidental science. For example, we have detected hundreds of thousands of the main belt asteroids. Having a complete catalog of main belt asteroids allows planetary scientists to probe the development, evolution and dynamics of the solar system.

How long will it take to find the remaining objects of 140 meters or more?

At the current pace, it would probably require several more decades. NASA was given this mandate in 2005, with a deadline of 2020, but the funding necessary to complete the job has not yet been entirely allocated. With the current suite of one- to two-meter class telescopes, we are not optimized to efficiently detect the smaller asteroids at the necessary rate. The smaller they are, the fainter they are. To find the smaller objects with small telescopes, you have to wait until they are close to the Earth and favorably placed. Part of this is a waiting game — the fainter you can go, the more opportunities you have for discovery and the faster the work goes. In order to complete the goal on a timescale of 10-15 years, it would require significant new assets to be developed, including an infrared space-based survey telescope and additional large ground-based telescopes.

Could there be larger asteroids or comets out there that we don't know about?

It's possible, but we have a reasonably good understanding of the flux of long-period comets into the inner solar system. Remember that near-Earth space is a very big place and that Earth makes for a tiny target. So the risk of an impact with a long-period comet is low, only about 1 percent of the risk represented by asteroid impacts. Considering that we have found about 95 percent of the one-kilometer-plus sized objects, and every single one has been shown unambiguously to not be dangerous for the next 100 years, I would argue that the risk from the last remaining few percent of large asteroids is very small. I'm not saying the risk is zero — after all, that's why we are doing this work. But the risk has to be framed in a responsible way. I think we can do so without resorting to calling them "city killers," or expressing their hypothetical impact energies in terms of Hiroshima bombs. 

Where does the UA-led OSIRIS-REx mission fit in with asteroid science?

The OSIRIS-REx mission combines a tremendous amount of asteroid science into one mission. The sample-return aspect of the mission is perhaps the most exciting, but we’ll also get direct measurements of asteroid surface properties, and we get a chance to study some of the very subtle perturbing forces that act on asteroids. When we take telescopic observations of asteroids from Earth, we can make inferences about their size and composition, but the only way to really know is to go there, study it up close and bring back a sample to analyze in our laboratories. This closes the gap between what we know about meteorites and what we infer about asteroids from telescopic observations. The mission also has implications for planetary defense. Bennu, the target asteroid, is one of the most hazardous objects we know of, though "hazardous" in this case means it has less than a 0.04 percent chance of impact in 160 years.

What are the chances of successfully diverting a rock in space that's headed our way?

Usually, an object that is going to hit the Earth will almost hit the Earth many times before the final impact. One of the most hazardous asteroids we know about is Apophis, whose impact predictions are very sensitive to the previous encounters with Earth. Let's say we discovered an object tomorrow that could hit the Earth in 2050. We might only estimate at discovery time that there is a 1-in-10,000 chance of impact, but with repeated observations that number can shrink or grow. So the question is, at what point do you launch a mission to better characterize the object or try to mitigate the threat? There are several feasible ideas being explored that could potentially divert an asteroid enough to avoid an impact. The simplest of these is the "kinetic impactor" approach, which is just a fancy way to describe a spacecraft that would run into an asteroid at high speed. An asteroid’s orbit doesn’t need to be drastically altered in order to avoid an impact — the arrival time at Earth just needs to be sped up or slowed down by a few minutes. As long as a potentially impacting asteroid is discovered and characterized with several decades of lead time, there is a good chance that we will be able to divert it.

Editor: dougcarrollWriter: Daniel StolteByline: Daniel StolteByline Affiliation: University Relations – CommunicationsHeader image: YesNo Image: Subheading: Do asteroids deserve their nasty reputation? On the occasion of Asteroid Day, Eric Christensen, director of the UA's Catalina Sky Survey, talks about the odds and consequences of an asteroid wreaking havoc on Earth.Include in UANow: yesInclude in Olympic Coverage: noFeature on Olympic Page: noUANow Image: Includes video: 

Campers Learn About Food, Fitness

Fri, 06/26/2015 - 8:29pm

The Healthy 2 B Me Wellness Camp, designed for children ages 7-10 and in grades 2-5, teaches aspects of wellness that include nutrition, cooking and exercise.

The annual camp, sponsored by the University of Arizona's Mel and Enid Zuckerman College of Public Health, is conducted at the UA Recreation Center in three one-week sessions. Students from the college work as camp counselors.

Campers engage in yoga, Zumba, dance and swimming, and they hear from experts on sun safety, dental health and hygiene while participating in team-building experiences. They also prepare their own healthful food.

The idea to start a wellness camp for children was a mission for Dr. Iman Hakim, dean of the College of Public Health.

"The camp is designed to teach kids at an early age the importance of proper nutrition and physical activity while having fun at the same time," Hakim said. "My hope is that the children will learn skills that will last a lifetime. Like how to cook and to identify tasty vegetables, and how to keep good oral hygiene.

"Maybe the children will pass along these good habits to their children someday. Instilling healthy lifestyle practices at an early age is one more approach toward fighting childhood obesity."

Video Thumbnail: Category(s): HealthTeaching and StudentsYouTube Video:  Healthy 2 Be Me Video of Healthy 2 Be Me Feature Sticky: OffFeature on Front: NoMedium Summary: Teaching "skills that last a lifetime" is the goal of the Healthy 2 B Me Wellness Camp, which brings children to the UA campus every summer.UANow Image: Date of Publication: Friday, June 26, 2015Send to Never Settle Site: 0Includes video: The story include video

OSIRIS-REx’s First Instrument Arrives for Integration Into the Spacecraft

Fri, 06/26/2015 - 12:36pm

A journey that will stretch millions of miles and take years to complete begins with a short trip to a loading dock.

The first of five instruments for a spacecraft that will collect a sample from an asteroid and bring it back to Earth has arrived at the Lockheed Martin Space Systems facility in Littleton, Colorado, for its installation onto NASA’s Origins Spectral Interpretation Resource Identification Security-Regolith Explorer, or OSIRIS-REx, spacecraft.

Led by the University of Arizona, OSIRIS-REx is the first U.S. mission to fly to, study and retrieve a pristine sample from an asteroid and return it to Earth for study. Scheduled to launch in September 2016, the spacecraft will reach its asteroid target in 2018 and return a sample to Earth in 2023. The mission will allow scientists to investigate the composition of material from the very earliest epochs of solar system history, providing information about the source of organic materials and water on Earth.

The OSIRIS-REx Thermal Emission Spectrometer, or OTES, will conduct surveys to map mineral and chemical abundances and to take the asteroid Bennu’s temperature. OTES is the first such instrument built entirely on the Arizona State University campus.

"It is a significant milestone to have OSIRIS-REx’s first instrument completed and delivered for integration onto the spacecraft," said Dante Lauretta, principal investigator for OSIRIS-REx at the UA's Lunar and Planetary Laboratory. "The OTES team has done an excellent job on the instrument and I deeply appreciate their scientific contribution to the mission. OTES plays an essential role in characterizing the asteroid in support of sample-site selection."

OTES is one of five instruments from national and international partners. These instruments will be key to mapping and analyzing Bennu’s surface and will be critical in identifying a site from which a sample can be safely retrieved and ultimately returned to Earth.

"OTES, the size of a microwave oven, has spent the last several years being designed, built, tested and calibrated," says Philip Christensen, OTES instrument scientist at ASU. "Now OTES is shipping out for the solar system."

The instrument will be powered on shortly after the OSIRIS-REx spacecraft begins its two-year trip to the asteroid Bennu. On arrival at Bennu, OTES will provide spectral data for global maps used to assess potential sample sites. It will take thermal infrared spectral data every two seconds and will be able to detect temperatures with an accuracy of 0.2 degrees Fahrenheit. It also will detect the presence of minerals on the asteroid’s surface.

The OSIRIS-REx Camera Suite (OCAMS) consists of three cameras that will image the asteroid Bennu during approach and proximity operations. Scientists and engineers at the UA's Lunar and Planetary Lab designed and built OCAMS to image Bennu over nine orders of magnitude in distance, from one million kilometers (more than 620,000 miles) down to two meters (6.5 feet). PolyCam, the largest camera of the OCAMS suite, is both a telescope — acquiring the asteroid from far away while it is still a point of light — and a microscope capable of scrutinizing the pebbles on Bennu's surface. MapCam will map the entire surface of Bennu from a distance of three miles, and the Sampling Camera, or SamCam, is designed to document the sample acquisition. The OCAMS instrument suite is scheduled to be installed on the spacecraft in September.

The OSIRIS-REx Laser Altimeter, or OLA, will scan Bennu to map the entire asteroid surface, producing local and global topographic maps. OLA is a contributed instrument from the Canadian Space Agency.

The OSIRIS-REx Visible and Infrared Spectrometer, or OVIRS, measures visible and infrared light from Bennu, which can be used to identify water and organic materials. The instrument is provided by NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center.

A student experiment called the Regolith X-ray Imaging Spectrometer, or REXIS, will map elemental abundances on the asteroid. REXIS is a collaboration between the students and faculty of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and Harvard College Observatory.

"The next few months will be very busy as we begin integrating the instruments and prepare for the system-level environmental testing program to begin," said Mike Donnelly, OSIRIS-REx project manager at NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, Maryland.

NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center provides overall mission management, systems engineering and safety and mission assurance for OSIRIS-REx. The UA's Lauretta is the mission's principal investigator. Lockheed Martin Space Systems in Denver is building the spacecraft. OSIRIS-REx is the third mission in NASA's New Frontiers Program. NASA's Marshall Space Flight Center in Huntsville, Alabama, manages New Frontiers for the agency's Science Mission Directorate in Washington, D.C.

Editor: Daniel StolteWriter: Daniel StolteHeader image: YesNo Image: Subheading: The first of five instruments that will map and analyze asteroid Bennu as part of the UA-led OSIRIS-REx mission has arrive at the Lockheed Martin Space Systems facility and awaits integration into the spacecraft structure. Include in UANow: yesInclude in Olympic Coverage: noFeature on Olympic Page: noUANow Image: Includes video: 

Vets Who Delayed Education Choose UA Online

Thu, 06/25/2015 - 1:29pm

Military personnel and veterans are benefiting from the University of Arizona's expansion of academic programs offered entirely online.

"Having access to online education is ideal for veterans who may have interrupted their education to join the military so that they could serve our country," said Vincent J. Del Casino Jr., vice provost of Digital Learning and Student Engagement.

"They may also be far from home, so UA Online now provides these military veterans access to a world-class UA education," he said.

The UA offers more than 40 online graduate-school degrees and certificates. Also, this spring the UA announced the introduction of 23 undergraduate degree programs offered under the UA Online campus. Additional programs have since been added, and the University is currently registering students.

All told, the UA offers online programs in areas and disciplines that include information science, health care, social services, early childhood education, business administration, Africana studies, statistics, psychology, public health, industrial engineering, communication, informatics, meteorology and sustainably built environments.

Military veteran Patricia Urquidi Alexander, who enlisted in the U.S. Air Force immediately after graduating from high school in 1978, decided to enroll in the UA College of Nursing's Online RN to MSN Clinical Systems Leadership program.

"The experience has been phenomenal," said Alexander, who began her coursework in January. "It has been challenging, but great."

The program will enable Alexander, who lives in Pennsylvania, to graduate in December 2016. She said the program's timing was ideal, and having the credentials to match her current work, as a regional chief nursing officer, was essential.

"I'm pursuing this degree for myself, which is the greatest motivator of all," Alexander said.

In addition to the degree programs, the UA offers support for students who have been or currently are affiliated with branches of the military.

In 2013, U.S. News & World Report named the UA a top-25 institution in its support of military veterans. This year, the publication ranked the College of Nursing No. 32 among the Best Online Graduate Nursing Programs for Veterans.

The UA has numerous student-led clubs and organizations supporting the needs of veterans. Also supporting them are the Disability Resources, Adaptive Athletics and campus ROTC programs and the GI Bill's education benefits assistance.

The UA was the first in the nation to launch a center specifically for military veterans pursuing health science degrees: the VETS Center at the Arizona Health Sciences Center. Additionally, the UA is a partner institution with the Pat Tillman Foundation, which provides scholarships to student veterans.

The prestige and reputation of the UA attracted veteran Maurice Jones, who now works for the Department of Defense in Germany. Jones joined the military in 2001 and, after years of service, he relocated to Arizona, where he began teaching intelligence.

Jones began studying at Cochise College before transferring to UA South in Sierra Vista to complete the organizational leadership program.

"It is a perfect fit for my personality and interests. I see it as a perfect blend of business and the psychology behind it," said Jones, who is finalizing his coursework this semester. He plans to continue a career in military intelligence abroad.

Jones credited the teachings and support of Brandy A. Brown, assistant professor and program director, and the way UA courses have been structured for dialogue and interaction, along with the use of instructional technology, in helping him feel connected to his coursework and the campus.

He said Brown "has helped me to completely overlook the fact that the program is online — I have felt like I was in a classroom," said Jones, who has taken online courses at other institutions in the past. "Now there is certainly a sense of accomplishment having completed my bachelor's degree and being a Wildcat."

Maj. Pedro Oblea Jr., who earned his Doctor of Philosophy in Nursing from the UA in May, chose the UA over other schools because of its ranking and the reputation of the faculty.

Currently stationed in Texas, Oblea will relocate in July to Germany, where he will serve as a nurse scientist, a highly specialized position within the U.S. Army Nurse Corps.

"This is my dream job," said Oblea, who was born and raised in the Philippines and originally joined the U.S. Army in 2003. He credits Terry A. Badger, professor and division director of community and systems health science in the UA College of Nursing, for his academic success.

Oblea, who twice has been deployed overseas, decided to focus his dissertation research on the effects of short-term separation on the behavioral health of military wives. He received the Outstanding Ph.D. Dissertation Award during the college's convocation ceremony.

While in Germany, he will  conduct research on active-duty personnel and their families.

"There is so much research about long-term separation. The problem is that there is a huge gap in our understanding of what happens with short-term separation," said Oblea who, while at the UA, has an opportunity to present his research in Switzerland. Oblea found that military wives experienced depression in ways similar to those whose partners were away from longer periods of time.

"They do have depression. They do have stress. At least now we have a baseline research that the military can use for addressing the problem," said Oblea, whose intention is to continue research while advancing efforts to build resiliency in military personnel and their families.

The Congressional Research Service in 2013 reported that the U.S. government spent about $4 billion in providing mental health care for active-duty military personnel during a period that spanned 2007 and 2012.

"The military spends so much on behavioral health. If we can tackle this problem preventively, my research would be helping," he said. "I want to thank my university, especially the College of Nursing. I would say that I am fully prepared and can compete with the best of the Ph.D. graduates."  

Editor: dougcarrollByline Affiliation: University Relations - CommunicationsHeader image: YesNo Image: Subheading: Across the nation and around the world, military personnel and veterans are earning their higher-education degrees through UA Online. Include in UANow: yesInclude in Olympic Coverage: noFeature on Olympic Page: noUANow Image: Includes video: 

Why Business Needs Strong Marketing, Communication

Wed, 06/24/2015 - 2:54pm

Photo: Chris Scott - Focus Scout

It's funny how I am so easily able to communicate my passions and experiences via writing, but sometimes struggle to do so with friends and family.

Communication is vital to the sustained growth of any relationship, whether personal or professional.

Spouses must communicate their thoughts to each other.

Engineers must be able to effectively communicate their design and its functions to their peers, partners and superiors.

A company needs strong communication with its customers to have any chance at success. Especially now, companies need to have an up-to-date, sleek website, as well as a strong social media presence, to stay ahead with their marketing efforts. Like any relationship, communication keeps companies afloat and, during the past month at Aztera, I have helped customers with digital marketing — that is, helping them reach their own customers through effective digital communication.

Also, I recently have had the chance to start overlapping my two backgrounds in aerospace engineering and entrepreneurship.

Aztera has partnered with one of the leading solar energy providers in the photovoltaic industry and has been engineering products to increase the efficiency of solar cells. A new direction that our partnership is taking involves using small unmanned aircraft systems — also known as UASs or drones — to monitor solar farms from the sky. Our approach is to use infrared imaging systems to scan and survey solar panels to identify inefficiencies.

With new Federal Aviation Administration rules and regulations around the commercial use of unmanned aircraft systems, many entrepreneurs are forming companies that utilize remarkable UAS technologies for a variety of purposes. The applications are abundant. In agriculture, drones are used to survey crops and provide growers with useful data. In mining, they are used for search and rescue missions. They also are used in the photography and film industry, and even in the parcel and postal industry.

I have been tasked with drafting our company's petition for exemption under the FAA's Section 333, which "provides operators who wish to pursue safe and legal entry into the National Aerospace System a competitive advantage in the UAS marketplace." That should in turn provide immense economic benefits. This process entails communicating to the FAA how our proposed use of a specific UAS will benefit the public as a whole and provide an equal or greater level of safety in operating our drone as the current rules and regulations do.

Again, successfully communicating our need for exemption to the FAA will lead to a petition being granted for commercial operations of our UAS to proceed. Poor communication will lead to resubmitting a petition — and a loss of vital time and, in turn, cash flow.

The ability to communicate outside of your comfort zone is crucial to success in the engineering and business worlds. Take networking, for example, which is one of the most important skills that a person can possess, no matter your field of specialty. On a Friday night, you and your friends go out to a bar. After the first round, a woman sits down beside you. Through introduction, you learn she is the CEO of a company that manufactures bathroom appliances, including showerheads. It just happens that you are part of a startup team that has designed a next-generation, smart showerhead, and you are looking for a partner to license the technology to. The situation requires you to communicate your team’s idea on the spot in a non-professional setting.

Honing personal communication skills will lead to being better prepared for such spontaneous instances — and perhaps even to life-changing opportunities. I know that I have room for improvement in this area, and most others probably do, too.

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

Categories: Business and LawTeaching and StudentsThis is a Wildcat Corner feature: Images: Tags: StudentsStudent Life2015 UANews Student ColumnistByline: Andrew Granatstein, 2015 UANews Columnist |UANow Image: Editor: dougcarrollInclude in UANow: yesDate of Publication: Wednesday, June 24, 2015Medium Summary: Andrew Granatstein is working to ensure that his company is approved for commercial operations of small unmanned aircraft systems, or drones. Feature on Front: NoShort Summary: Andrew Granatstein writes about his experience at Aztera. Send to Never Settle Site: 0UA in the News Spotlight: Includes video: 

New Major in American Indian Studies at UA

Wed, 06/24/2015 - 2:35pm

To be more competitive in the field of American Indian studies, and to attract students who are invested in addressing issues affecting tribal nations, the University of Arizona has launched a new bachelor's degree program in the field.

The new undergraduate degree program makes the UA the first and only university in the state to offer bachelor's, master's and doctoral degrees in the discipline.

"We are excited to launch the B.A. degree, which will provide undergraduates an opportunity to learn about the resiliency, traditions and creativity of contemporary Native communities," said John Paul Jones III, dean of the UA College of Social and Behavioral Sciences.

"With our faculty's research strengths in sustainability, social justice issues and community development, the new B.A. is the logical extension of the UA’s historic and contemporary efforts to work with Native American communities to meet their needs," Jones said.

The UA's Department of American Indian Studies is committed to leadership, self-determination and American Indian sovereignty on tribal lands and strives to develop a strong understanding of the history, lands and cultures of American Indians and Alaska Natives. 

Since 1982, American Indian Studies has conferred more 350 degrees through the American Indian Studies Graduate Interdisciplinary Program. In July 2014, the American Indian Studies program joined the College of Social and Behavioral Sciences, becoming an academic department and setting the stage for the creation of the undergraduate program.

The new degree program has a curricular focus on the history, politics, culture, economics, natural resources and environments of Native communities in the U.S. The program also addresses regional workforce development needs by preparing Native American and non-Native students for jobs in tribal organizations, government agencies, nonprofit entities and private businesses where employees need to understand the unique Nation-to-Nation relationship that American Indians have with the federal government.

By the time students have completed their bachelor's degree in American Indian studies, they will understand the diversity of U.S. tribes' historic experiences and contemporary contexts. They also will be able to critically analyze scholarly information, treaties, government documents, legal decisions and stories; effectively communicate information both orally and in writing; understand respectful, ethical research protocols within American Indian communities; and demonstrate skills needed for careers working with or on behalf of American Indians.

Students also may gain professional development and leadership experience through community-based research and grant writing.

In alignment with the UA's commitment to 100% Engagement, the undergraduate program is designed to give students real-world experience working with Native American communities. Students will be required to complete a community-service-based internship and will assist organizations such as tribal colleges, schools, social organizations and health agencies.

"Many people are not aware of the political and economic organization of tribes," said Ofelia Zepeda, interim head of American Indian studies. "Students in AIS would potentially be better positioned in serving a reservation community. For instance, law enforcement on the reservation requires an understanding of the unique aspects of jurisdiction policies for tribes."

The bachelor's degree in American Indian studies also supports the UA's land-grant mission. As a public-supported land grant institution, the UA has a responsibility to serve all citizens of the state.

Arizona is home to 22 federally recognized tribes, and Native Americans represent five percent of the state population. American Indians, however, represent less than two percent of incoming freshmen and an even lower percentage of graduates.

The new B.A. program will offer a course designed to strengthen undergraduate student success rates by addressing social and academic issues that may impact the college experience. Additionally, having a curriculum focused on American Indian and Alaskan Natives topics could serve to attract not only Native students but anyone interested in the historic and contemporary lives of Native people. 

"The need to attract and retain American Indian students through graduation is particularly compelling in Arizona," Zepeda said.

Editor: dougcarrollByline Affiliation: UA College of Social and Behavioral SciencesExtra Info: 

To learn more about UA programs and initiatives related to American Indian issues:

Header image: YesNo Image: Subheading: The new undergraduate degree program makes the UA the first and only university in the state to offer bachelor's, master's and doctoral degrees in the discipline.Include in UANow: yesInclude in Olympic Coverage: noFeature on Olympic Page: noIncludes video: 

Summer Camps With a Focus

Wed, 06/24/2015 - 1:53pm
Date of Publication: Wednesday, June 24, 2015