The University of Arizona

Campus News

Subscribe to Campus News feed
Updated: 1 hour 56 min ago

Growing Their Own School Lunch

Fri, 11/21/2014 - 11:30
Date of Publication: Friday, November 21, 2014

UA Researchers Connect Insomnia, Higher Death Risk

Thu, 11/20/2014 - 20:43

An association among persistent insomnia, inflammation and mortality has been found by a University of Arizona research team led by Arizona Respiratory Center faculty members Dr. Sairam Parthasarathy and Dr. Stefano Guerra.

The team analyzed data from a long-running UA respiratory study, the Tucson Epidemiological Study of Airway Obstructive Disease, which began in 1972 and has followed participants for decades. The data showed that chronic insomnia was associated with higher levels of inflammation in the blood and a 58 percent increase in risk of death.

Insomnia — difficulty falling asleep, staying asleep or waking too early — is a common medical complaint that affects about 20 percent of U.S. adults. Chronic insomnia is estimated to occur in about half of those individuals.

The UA researchers found that, unlike intermittent insomnia, chronic or persistent insomnia that lasted for at least six years was associated with mortality. Moreover, they found that greater levels of inflammation (measured by a biomarker in blood called C-reactive protein) and a steeper rise in such biomarkers of inflammation were associated with the persistence of insomnia and death.

Although other researchers previously have found an association of insomnia with death, whether this association holds true for both chronic and intermittent insomnia remains unknown. Moreover, many underlying mechanisms for why chronic insomnia may lead to death have been suggested but not been shown.

"An enhanced understanding of the association between persistence of insomnia and death would inform treatment of the at-risk population," said Parthasarathy, lead author of the study. "We found that participants with persistent insomnia were at increased risk of dying due to heart and lung conditions independent of the effects of hypnotics, opportunity for sleep (as distinguished from sleep deprivation), sex, age and other known confounding factors."

Said Guerra, the senior author for the study: "Although there were higher levels of inflammation and steeper rises in inflammation in individuals with persistent insomnia when compared to those with intermittent or no insomnia, more research into other pathways by which persistent insomnia may lead to increased mortality needs to be explored. Such biomarker-based research could potentially help advance precision science in predicting future clinical outcomes in patients with insomnia.” 

The study, “Persistent Insomnia Is Associated With Mortality Risk,” has been published online in the American Journal of Medicine (

Parthasarathy is associate professor of medicine in the Division of Pulmonary, Allergy, Critical Care and Sleep Medicine of the Department of Medicine, UA College of Medicine – Tucson; medical director of the Center for Sleep Disorders at the UA Medical Center-University Campus; associate director of Sleep and Circadian Sciences at the Arizona Respiratory Center; and program director of the Sleep Medicine Fellowship Program.

Guerra is research associate professor of medicine in the Division of Pulmonary, Allergy, Critical Care and Sleep Medicine of the Department of Medicine, UA College of Medicine – Tucson. He also holds appointments in the UA Mel and Enid Zuckerman College of Public Health and the UA College of Pharmacy’s Southwest Environmental Health Sciences Center, is an associate member of the UA Cancer Center, and is affiliated with the CREAL Centre and Universitat Pompeu Fabra in Barcelona, Spain.

In addition to Parthasarathy and Guerra, researchers who contributed to the study included Dr. Fernando Martinez, director of the Arizona Respiratory Center and director of the UA BIO5 Institute, Regents’ Professor, and Swift-McNear Professor of Pediatrics; and Arizona Respiratory Center members Monica Vasquez, biostatistician; Marilyn Halonen, UA professor emerita of pharmacology; Dr. Stuart Quan, UA professor emeritus of medicine and Gerald E. McGinnis Professor of Sleep Medicine, Harvard Medical School, Boston; and Richard Bootzin, UA professor of psychology and psychiatry, and member of the UA Evelyn F. McKnight Brain Institute.

Editor: dougcarrollWriter: Jean SpinelliByline: Jean SpinelliByline Affiliation: AHSC Office of Public AffairsHeader image: YesNo Image: Subheading: A respiratory study spanning more than 40 years shows that chronic insomnia is associated with higher levels of inflammation in the blood and mortality.Include in UANow: 0Include in Olympic Coverage: noFeature on Olympic Page: no

2 Couples Make Major Donations to Precision Health

Thu, 11/20/2014 - 17:18

Two couples have taken a serious interest in a priority of University of Arizona medical research and practice, making major gifts to support the precision health program of the Arizona Health Sciences Center.

Longtime UA donors Bruce and Patricia Bartlett gave $1 million to the UA Foundation to support precision health, indicating an expanded portfolio of philanthropic interests for the California couple. Shortly after that, Grant and Michelle Senner made their first major gift of $280,000 to the foundation, establishing the Senner Endowment for Precision Health.

Precision health, also referred to as personalized medicine, is one of the priorities outlined in the UA's “Never Settle” strategic plan. Precision health uses genetic profiles to guide decisions about diagnosis, prediction, treatment and prevention of disease. By combining the power of individual genetic information with large clinical data sets, UA researchers and clinicians can gain a deeper understanding of a person's health and better recognize and classify nuanced aspects of disease.

Arizona’s unique demographics present opportunities for research involving elderly, Hispanic and Native American populations, as well as the impact of living in an arid environment. These aspects are complemented by the UA’s nationally regarded programs in bioengineering, optical sciences, environmental science, speech and hearing, and cognitive and behavioral sciences.

The Bartletts grew to love and support the UA when their son, Ben, was a student, eventually contributing $2 million to the SALT Center, which resulted in the naming of the Patricia A. Bartlett Building that houses it. The center inspires students with learning and attention challenges to succeed. As former educators, the Bartletts said they were impressed with the UA from the start and always intended to remain involved.

Their commitment to precision health sciences developed after meeting Dr. Joe G.N. "Skip" Garcia, UA senior vice president for health sciences, and hearing his vision for what could be achieved.

"It really, truly is the medicine of the future," said Patricia Bartlett, who has had friends affected by breast cancer, one of many diseases that can be diagnosed and treated by precision health.

The Senners say they always planned to support the UA one day — but neither envisioned making a major gift before age 40, as they have done.

"Precision health can revolutionize the practice of medicine and population health management," Grant Senner said. "The challenge remains to help ensure it fulfills its promise."

Grant Senner graduated with honors from the UA in molecular and cellular biology in 1997 and went on to earn his medical degree from the UA College of Medicine – Tucson in 2004. He originally intended to pursue a career as a clinician but decided to become a medical administrator and to advocate on behalf of his physician colleagues. He is the director of special projects and strategic initiatives for the Arizona Health Sciences Center and the Center for Population Science and Discovery.

Michelle Senner, a Tucson native, works for her family’s company, Truly Nolen of America Inc., as director of marketing and advertising. In her office, she keeps a framed picture of herself as a toddler standing next to a miniature version of the signature yellow-and-black Truly Nolen “mouse car.” She graduated with an M.B.A. from the UA's Eller College of Management in 2001 and was awarded the Eller Spirit Award for outstanding contributions to the business school community.

"Grant and I always planned to give back to our alma mater," she said. "The Senner Endowment for Precision Health supports one of the most innovative initiatives within the University that we’ll see in our lifetime."

In March, Dr. Kenneth S. Ramos was appointed associate vice president for precision health sciences at AHSC. Internationally recognized in genomics and predictive biology, environmental and molecular medicine, and toxicology, Ramos is responsible for developing precision health strategies and approaches to health outcomes and health-care delivery. He also leads the development of personal diagnostics and therapeutics for complex diseases, including cancer, cardiopulmonary disorders and diabetes.

"We thank the Bartlett and Senner families for their tremendous generosity and unwavering support of the precision health initiative at the University of Arizona," Ramos said. "Under Dr. Garcia’s outstanding leadership, we seek to push the boundaries of medicine to find new cures for disease, build infrastructure needed for the future practice of health care, and, most importantly, provide our patients the best possible care known to contemporary science."

The Bartletts and the Senners share a vision for seeing the precision health program thrive and touch lives.

"I’d like to see the UA recognized for its precision health work on a national scale," Bruce Bartlett said.

"The talent and drive are here," Grant Senner said. "We knew the time was right to support this groundbreaking program, which is vital for the University’s trajectory and the future of precision care."

Both gifts are part of Arizona NOW, the UA’s $1.5 billion comprehensive fundraising campaign, with priorities to support students, research and innovation, as well as the UA’s public reach.

Editor: dougcarrollByline: Stephanie BalzerByline Affiliation: UA FoundationHeader image: YesNo Image: Subheading: The cutting-edge field is one of the priorities of 'Never Settle,' using genetic profiles to guide decisions about diagnosis, prediction, treatment and prevention of disease.Include in UANow: yesInclude in Olympic Coverage: noFeature on Olympic Page: noUANow Image: 

New Platform Takes Science to the Clouds

Thu, 11/20/2014 - 11:56

Scientists and engineers in all disciplines can now store, share and analyze data through Jetstream, the first all-science cyber-computing platform, a $6.5 million project funded by the National Science Foundation. The iPlant Collaborative based at the University of Arizona’s BIO5 Institute will play an important role in development and operation of Jetstream.

"iPlant has more than five years' experience providing cloud-based analyses," said Nirav Merchant, co-principal investigator of the iPlant Collaborative, director of Bio Computing at Arizona Research Laboratories and a member of the BIO5 Institute. "We will bring our expertise to run and manage the underlying cloud infrastructure, making it accessible and easy to use for researchers in all science disciplines."

Cloud computing, in which individuals can use an integrated network of remote servers hosted on the Internet to store, manage, process and analyze data, has provided a much-needed capability for highly-customized, scalable analysis platforms that make possible large-scale and integrated data processing for science and engineering research today.

Jetstream will be a new, interactive cloud-based system designed to provide a usable interface with the scalability and flexibility to serve an expanded community of researchers benefiting from resources in the NSF’s eXtreme Digital, or XD, program. XD’s mission is to explore new approaches to deliver computational infrastructure resources to a diverse community of scientific researchers and education professionals.

Atmosphere, a platform of the iPlant Collaborative at the UA, will manage the cloud resources and provision projects between the remote servers at Indiana University and at the Texas Advanced Computing Center at the University of Texas, Austin.

Atmosphere is a multicloud orchestration platform that provides an easy-to-use web interface for researchers to manage their cloud-based data sets and analyses, and has driven wide adoption of cloud-based capabilities through the iPlant Collaborative.

"Atmosphere allows users to effectively manage their analyses using cloud resources," Merchant explained. "With its web-based interface, users can launch new analyses, share data and collaborate using a reproducible and scalable computing environment. This capability is unique to Atmosphere and is directed toward domain users, who typically are not well-versed with cloud platform capabilities."

By providing a software platform that allows scientists to easily use and manage cloud resources, Atmosphere has greatly increased the adoption of cloud computing in research applications by researchers less accustomed to interacting with a cloud-computing environment, but for whom the computational capacities of cloud environments are essential.

In addition to managing project provisioning and user interface with cloud environments for the nearly 46,000 early adopters expected to use Jetstream, Atmosphere will host the test and development facilities for the new NSF project.

"As one of the largest public science clouds, Jetstream will provide new opportunities to test and scale Atmosphere across large, geographically distributed deployments of open-source clouds,” said Edwin Skidmore, assistant director of infrastructure for the iPlant Collaborative. "We expect to discover more efficient ways to do science within the cloud, given the diversity of the scientific and engineering community that will rely on Jetstream for their computational needs."

The iPlant Collaborative is an NSF-funded project based at BIO5 that includes partners at TACC, Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory and the University of North Carolina at Wilmington. Originally funded as a cyber-infrastructure project for plant sciences research, the collaborative has expanded its capacities to provide computing platforms for all life sciences research.

Since January 2011, iPlant Atmosphere has managed production cloud services for iPlant.

"We have seen overwhelming demand for our cloud platform from researchers and educators alike," Merchant said. "With Jetstream, we now have an avenue for our users needing more capacity. Jetstream provides the opportunity to take best practices from our experience customizing cloud infrastructure for life sciences to a broader national community."

Editor: dougcarrollWriter: Shelley LittinByline: Shelley LittinByline Affiliation: iPlant CollaborativeHeader image: YesNo Image: Subheading: The iPlant Collaborative headquartered at the UA's BIO5 Institute will manage the interface for Jetstream, the NSF’s first all-science computational facility allowing researchers to store, manage, share and analyze their data on virtual computing machines in a cloud-based environment.Include in UANow: yesInclude in Olympic Coverage: noFeature on Olympic Page: noUANow Image: 

UA's Rice Symposium Tackles 'People Question'

Thu, 11/20/2014 - 11:38

Among the most pressing issues facing the world today is how to grow enough food to feed a human population that will expand by more than two billion in the next 35 years without exhausting resources and destroying the environment.

Rice will play an essential role in the quest to solve this "9 Billion People Question." Rice is, and will continue to be, the primary source of food/calories for half the world and many rapidly growing regions.

The University of Arizona is home to innovative research and scientists committed to forging new paths to make sure that a crisis is averted and the situation is improved for future generations.

Several hundred of the world’s top scientists spent this week at the UA participating in the 12th International Symposium on Rice Functional Genomics, or ISRFG.

This year’s symposium marked a significant milestone. It was at the ISRFG meeting held at the UA 10 years ago that the International Rice Genome Sequencing Project celebrated the completion of the rice genome. This was the first genome completed for any crop plant, and to date it remains the highest-quality reference genome, impacting the fields of plant biology and agriculture.

The UA’s Rod Wing, director of the Arizona Genomics Institute, and Bud Antle, Endowed Chair Professor in the School of Plant Sciences, Ecology and Evolutionary Biology, served as co-chairs of this year’s symposium.

The implications of the 2004 landmark were scientifically complex but applicable to other genome sequencing projects.

"We learned how many genes rice have and their order across its 12 chromosomes," Wing said. "The rice genome provided an unlimited set of genetic markers that could be used to map agriculturally important genes related to yield, grain quality, biotic (diseases) and abiotic (drought, heat, salt) stresses, for example."

The genome opened the door for the cloning of hundreds of important genes for understanding plant biology, evolution, and domestication that informed the sequencing of other cereal genomes, such as maize, sorghum, barley and wheat.

The goal was to ensure that further work could be translated into practical solutions that rice breeders could use to improve and stabilize the world food supply for generations to come.

This year’s symposium focused on recent breakthroughs in structural, functional and evolutionary rice genome biology and breeding — pushing current scientific knowledge to address the need of sustainably increasing crop yields and global food security.

A series of sessions was aimed at capitalizing on biological resources and new discoveries to design a new age of crop plants that have less of on environmental footprint (plants that use less water, fertilizer, pesticides) but are higher yielding and more nutritious. There also was discussion on promoting collaborative research opportunities across the world.

In addition, collaborators devised a set of strategic plans to promote a campaign for $9 billion to help solve the 9 billion people question. This effort will focus on raising funds to create and staff  a half-dozen collaborative, green science and technology centers across the globe to perform coordinated research aimed at creating the next generation of crops that will feed the world's population in a sustainable way.

The Arizona Genomics Institute, housed in the UA’s BIO5 Institute, specializes in building a physical map of a genome, which will allow scientists to locate and identify genes that can improve and strengthen crops and increase yield, creating strains of crops that make up 60 percent of a person's diet. 

Editor: dougcarrollByline: Lisa RomeroByline Affiliation: BIO5 InstituteHeader image: YesNo Image: Subheading: Rice will remain the primary source of food for half of the world, but the world's population is expected to grow by more than two billion in the next 35 years.Include in UANow: 0Include in Olympic Coverage: noFeature on Olympic Page: no

App Could Be Your Map for Solving Traffic

Wed, 11/19/2014 - 12:09

An invention by a University of Arizona professor to increase the efficiency of transportation systems while easing traffic congestion has received a patent with the assistance of Tech Launch Arizona, the UA's commercialization arm.

Yi-Chang Chiu, an associate professor of civil engineering at the University, received the patent for the "active traffic and demand management system" he created. Chiu also is the founder of Metropia Inc., a Tucson-based startup with roots in the UA and an exclusive license to the patent.

The technology involves a citywide "ecosystem" connecting commuters, businesses, employers and governmental agencies to help drive improvements in metro mobility.

An essential element is Metropia’s mobile app, which gives commuters advanced traffic prediction and vehicle-routing technology so that they can make choices to help alleviate traffic by changing their traditional travel routes and times. Those who make smarter and safer travel decisions earn rewards that are provided by community and business partners in participating cities.

Chiu began as a professor at the UA in 2006. The idea for incentivizing commuters to travel at different times to help balance traffic load moved from definition of the initial problem and idea in 2011 to what is quickly becoming a key platform for an advanced urban traffic solution. Tech Launch Arizona was instrumental in helping to protect the intellectual property and guide the patent application to completion.

Chiu said that the UA was "the seed that was able to jumpstart the whole thing," as his journey from associate professor to company founder and tech entrepreneur has all taken place during his time at the University.

He originally pitched his idea in May 2011 at Startup Tucson’s incubator event, Startup Weekend, winning second place. Building on this momentum and initial seed funding from various sponsors, the concept has evolved into a thriving, innovative company with more than a dozen employees and offices in New York City and Austin, Texas.

Chiu explains the mission of Metropia as "a new way of thinking of how we manage our urban transportation in the future," one that calls for all community stakeholders to contribute to tackling traffic congestion.

Doug Hockstad, director of technology transfer at the UA, says that this is the kind of impactful technology that has the potential to bring about change.

"Dealing with traffic is a huge pain point for our modern world," Hockstad says. "Helping a great UA faculty member like Dr. Chiu to develop and commercialize this kind of technology is another example of how UA research is making its way out into the world and improving lives."

The patent itself can be found at

The latest news on Metropia's technology is posted on a blog at

Editor: dougcarrollByline: Paul TumarkinByline Affiliation: Tech Launch ArizonaHeader image: YesNo Image: Subheading: A UA-developed technology that gives commuters incentives to help improve traffic flow has received a patent with the aid of Tech Launch Arizona.Include in UANow: yesInclude in Olympic Coverage: noFeature on Olympic Page: noUANow Image: 

Eller College's Dean Named President of UNLV

Tue, 11/18/2014 - 18:38

Len Jessup, dean of the Eller College of Management at the University of Arizona, has been selected as the 10th president of the University of Nevada, Las Vegas, the Nevada System of Higher Education Board of Regents announced today following a special meeting.

"I am honored to accept the presidency of UNLV and am excited about the goals the regents have set for the university going forward," Jessup said.

Jessup, an alumnus of the UA, joined the Eller College as dean in 2011 from Washington State University, where he served for a decade in leadership positions including dean of the business school and president of the university’s foundation. Before joining WSU, Jessup was a faculty member in management information systems at Indiana University.

During his time at the Eller College, Jessup led the development and implementation of an ambitious strategic plan aimed at improving the business school’s quality, impact, rankings and reach.

"We are very proud of and excited for Dr. Jessup. This is a wonderful opportunity for an incredibly competent and innovative leader," said Andrew Comrie, UA senior vice president of academic affairs and provost. "We will, of course, miss his expert leadership of Eller that led to many important and impactful advances for the college and the University. We wish him well and look forward to witnessing the many expected successes he will achieve at the University of Nevada, Las Vegas."

Jessup’s tenure marked growth and innovation for the Eller College. The college’s operating budget increased from $48.8 million to $60.6 million over the fiscal years 2011-2014, due to increased enrollment, student fees, philanthropy and new initiatives such as Eller Executive Education. Over the period of 2010-2014, Eller undergraduate enrollment increased 12 percent and graduate enrollment increased 32 percent. Graduate enrollment growth is due in part to the launch of new Online M.B.A. and Online Master’s in MIS programs.

In October, the Eller College announced $6 million in new commitments from the Eller and McClelland families of Phoenix and the Diamond family of Tucson. These gifts join 11 other commitments of $1 million-plus toward the $65 million Eller College goal for Arizona NOW: The Campaign for the University of Arizona. The college has raised $45 million of that goal to date. 

In 2013, Eller hired a team of career coaches and launched one-credit courses for freshman and sophomore students designed to prepare them to understand how their skills fit into the context of business. The coaches help students develop career plans so that they are better positioned to secure internships, particularly in competitive industries. These activities and more, offered through the college’s Professional Development Center, were funded by a student-approved fee and support the 100% Engagement pillar of UA President Ann Weaver Hart’s “Never Settle” strategic plan.

Jessup also was instrumental in the creation of Tech Launch Arizona, a new UA entity focused on moving inventions and intellectual property from the lab to the marketplace. In addition to serving on the TLA board from the beginning, he recruited its leader, David Allen.

Jessup serves on the board of the UA Health Network, which is set to merge with Banner Health in January 2015, and as a member of the Southern Arizona Leadership Council. At SALC, Jessup has been a champion of the MAP Dashboard Project, a collaboration involving the organization, Eller’s Economic and Business Research Center, and the Community Foundation for Southern Arizona. The goal of the project is to measurably improve southern Arizona through data-driven collective civic action and education. The MAP Dashboard Project is set to launch at year’s end.

During Jessup’s tenure, the Eller College also launched Eller Economic Development, a Chase-supported initiative that offers classes and workshops in English and Spanish to South Tucson small-business owners. The program also engages students with small-business clients to work on consulting projects such as accounting best-practice recommendations.

The college also has seen significant increases in rankings during Jessup’s leadership. In the most recent U.S. News & World Report surveys, Eller undergraduate programs moved up to No. 22 overall and No. 11 among public business schools. The Eller Evening M.B.A. program shot up 21 spots to No. 25, and the Full-Time M.B.A. program ranked No. 23 among public programs and No. 48 overall.

Jessup is active in the Association to Advance Collegiate Schools of Business, the industry’s accreditation body. In addition to serving on accreditation review panels for peer schools, Jessup is one of 17 leaders worldwide to serve on its Continuous Improvement Review Committee. He is a member of the advisory council for the AACSB industry magazine, BizEd, and has presented on the changing business model for higher education at multiple AACSB-hosted conferences.

"I am a passionate alum of the UA at the Eller College," Jessup said. "My time here serving as dean has been among the most rewarding in my professional career, and so the prospect of moving on is bittersweet."

His transition to the UNLV presidency will begin after the holidays. Over the coming weeks, Comrie will be meeting with Eller leadership and faculty on a transition plan.

Editor: dougcarrollByline Affiliation: Eller College of ManagementHeader image: YesNo Image: Subheading: UA alumnus Len Jessup joined the college as its leader in 2011 and oversaw an ambitious strategic plan aimed at improving its quality, impact, rankings and reach.Include in UANow: yesInclude in Olympic Coverage: noFeature on Olympic Page: noUANow Image: 

Computer Training Becomes Family Affair

Tue, 11/18/2014 - 14:30

Most of us take emailing and surfing the Internet for granted. But for some Tucsonans, working on a computer is about as familiar as walking on the moon. 

The University of Arizona student chapter of the Society of Hispanic Professional Engineers, or SHPE, has been working for 15 years to change that through La Familia, its annual free computer training workshops. The 2014 daylong event, designed primarily for older members of the community whose first language is not English, was held Oct. 25 on the UA campus.

"La Familia is about helping members of our community overcome their fear of technology and discover how computers can enrich their lives," said Michelle Gutierrez, La Familia vice president and a junior engineering student. "Many attendees are middle-aged moms whose children have grown and now have time to pursue personal and professional interests. Increasingly, that means having to use a computer."

La Familia is one reason the UA SHPE chapter recently won two awards at the national SHPE conference. The chapter beat more than 300 other chapters nationally to receive the 2014 SHPE Outstanding Community Outreach Award. The Wildcats also won the Regional Outstanding Chapter Award for Region 2, which includes 37 student chapters in Arizona, southern California, southern Nevada and Hawaii.

The La Familia attendees, nearly all Spanish-speaking, ranged in age from 30 to 80. For many, it was their first time on the UA campus. SHPE volunteer Dana Cordova, who earned his bachelor’s degree in aeronautical engineering in 2014 and works for Northrup Grumman, traveled from Sierra Vista with his mother, Debra Cordova-Paul, attending to learn Microsoft Excel. Several SHPE members’ aunts and a grandmother also were at the workshops.

Many of their questions were about basic things: how to turn on a computer, use a mouse or save a file. But this year, attendees’ questions reflected increased awareness of the power, and the risks, of the Internet.

"We received many more inquiries about firewalls, computer viruses and the safety of online banking," Gutierrez said.

In opening remarks, James Valenzuela, who received his bachelor’s degree in systems and industrial engineering from the College of Engineering in 1992 and is now an operations senior industrial engineer at Raytheon, emphasized that technology should be embraced, not feared. When he told his listeners that their smartphones were actually computers, many expressed surprise. His primary message: "Technology is your friend. Take advantage of it to improve your life."

Valenzuela expressed his deep and personal connection to UA/SHPE, explaining that his late brother, John, had founded the chapter 30 years ago and was its first president. John left the College of Engineering to join the Tucson Police Department and was killed in the line of duty a year later. James subsequently enrolled in the college and became the chapter’s second president.

"Until I die, I feel it is my responsibility to carry on my brother’s legacy of increasing educational and professional opportunities for people in our community," said Valenzuela, a motivational speaker and student mentor whose awards include the 2014 President’s Volunteer Service Award from President Barack Obama.

"SHPE students are part of my family," he said. "I am extremely proud to support this organization."

After hearing from Gladys Amaya, who earned her bachelor’s degree in systems and industrial engiuneering in 2013 and is a construction manager at Intel, the attendees broke out for computer workshops in labs around campus. 

Student volunteers led workshops in English and Spanish on such topics as the basics of typing, how to use office software, how to set up an email account in Gmail and how to use Google’s search engine to browse the Internet. This year’s program also included a professional workshop on how to prepare and post a resumé and search and apply for jobs online.

“La Familia is a wonderful example of our students’ dedication to community service,” said College of Engineering Dean Jeff Goldberg. “SHPE has led programs to inspire and educate the public on STEM topics for years. With La Familia, it empowers people at a more basic level, by teaching them the fundamentals of computers and the Internet —and potentially transforming their lives.”

IBM has been a core supporter of La Familia and other UA/SHPE programs for years. Volunteers from the company included Michael Hernandez, who leads IBM community outreach at the UA Science and Technology Park; Wanda Ronquillo; Marilynn Franco, who received a bachelor’s degree in civil engineering in 2005 and master’s degree in business administration from the UA Eller College of Management in 2012; and Carlo Saba, who earned his bachelor’s degree in business administration/management information systems from the Eller College in 2007.

Other La Familia supporters include the UA College of Engineering; Associated Students of the University of Arizona; the Society of Hispanic Professional Engineers; RISE Equipment and Recycling Center, which donated some computers that were raffled; and El Paso, Texas-based All Trades Electrical.

The Society of Hispanic Professional Engineers is the nation’s top organization motivating Hispanics to pursue careers in the STEM subjects — science, technology, engineering and math. The UA chapter also presents several STEM-related programs for local youth and teens. Its next one is Science Day for middle-school students on Nov. 21. 

Editor: dougcarrollByline: Jill GoetzByline Affiliation: UA College of EngineeringHeader image: YesNo Image: Subheading: Some Tucson residents on the UA campus one recent Saturday were not attending a Wildcats game or arts performance. They were learning how to use a computer, from a student group recently honored for its outreach efforts. Include in UANow: yesInclude in Olympic Coverage: noFeature on Olympic Page: noUANow Image: 

Wildcat Review: Arizona Wildcats Make Us Proud

Tue, 11/18/2014 - 09:11

Arizona student-athletes had a momentous week with major feats of athleticism and national awards.

But did you know that kicker Casey Skowron's family came down from Phoenix for the football game against Washington, or that junior forward Brandon Ashley is recovering well from his injury?

Here's a review of some of the week's highlights and more information about your Arizona student-athletes.

Skowron's Redemption

Photo courtesy of Arizona Athletics

In Arizona football's game against USC earlier in the season, all eyes were fixated on redshirt junior kicker Skowron as he missed what was then the biggest field goal of his career.

Fast-forward five weeks and it all comes down to Skowron again. This time, Arizona is attempting to cap off a comeback against Washington. The Wildcats are down by two points going into the final minutes of play, and ultimately Skowron kicks a field goal to bring the Wildcats ahead by one point as time expires.

On Monday, the league office announced that Skowron was named the Pac-12 Special Teams Player of the Week after his performance against the Huskies, which included two field goals and his first career touchdown, scored on a fake field goal.    

Skowron's family came down from Phoenix, and one of his cousins from back east flew in to visit and was in attendance.

"Saturday was awesome for me. I was able to spend some quality family time, which was really nice," Skowron said.

After the game-winning field goal, he said, "My phone was blowing up. It was fantastic, but more importantly we got the win. Everyone on the team played hard for 60 minutes and we never gave up."

Skowron, who didn't originally begin as a football player, burst onto the scene this season and has provided the UA with a reliable kicker. He initially began as a member of Arizona’s club soccer team before helping out the women's soccer team as a practice player and eventually becoming the team's student manager. A few weeks into the soccer season, however, Skowron decided he wanted to give football a try. He tried out for the team and made it.

The Phoenix-area native has converted 17 of 24 field-goal attempts and is 41-for-41 on point-after-touchdown opportunities. Additionally, his 98 points scored this season leads all Pac-12 kickers. 

Women's Soccer Wins in NCAA Tournament

Photo courtesy of Arizona Athletics

The Wildcats, participating in their first NCAA Tournament since 2005, defeated Oklahoma State, 1-0, to earn their third NCAA Tournament victory in the program's history.

Senior forward Alexandra Doller received a pass close to the goal from a teammate in the 78th minute and shot the ball past the Cowgirls' goalkeeper.

"The thing I'm happiest with is that Doller had some chances and wasn't able to finish them off," Amato said. "But she stuck with it. She wasn't discouraged, she kept putting herself in good positions and she stuck with it. It paid off for her, and that’s what it takes to be a striker at a high level. She's tough."

Doller, a junior-college transfer, joined the program last year and finished the season as the second-ranked goal scorer on the team in her first year as a Wildcat.

Arizona Volleyball Setter Earns Pac-12 Honors

Sophomore setter Penina Snuka was named the Pac-12 Defensive Player of the Week on Monday after leading the 14th-ranked Wildcats to wins against then-No. 10 Oregon and Oregon State. Snuka, the niece of professional wrestler and actor Dwayne Johnson, provided Arizona with the defense necessary to secure its biggest win of the season against the Ducks.

Over the two games, Snuka totaled 51 digs and 80 assists.

"I can't say enough about Penina and her willingness to sacrifice her body," Rubio said. "The team is a reflection of her. She dictates the flow and the attitude of the team, so we are fortunate to have her leading us."

Snuka is the third Arizona student-athlete to receive the weekly award this year.

Trio From Men's Basketball Named in Wooden Preseason Top 50

Photo courtesy of Arizona Athletics

Junior forward Ashley, sophomore forward Rondae Hollis-Jefferson and freshman forward Stanley Johnson were chosen from the UA in the John R. Wooden Award Preseason Top 50, the Los Angeles Athletic Club announced this week. The list denotes the 50 frontrunners in competition for the prestigious award, which will not be announced until April. 

Ashley, instrumental in the Wildcats' historic 21-0 start last season, brought tears to fans' eyes when he collapsed on his left foot in Berkeley last February – marking an end to his season and sidelining him for eight months. He said being forced to sit out has made him a hungrier player.

"Having to sit out that long made me realize that nothing in life is guaranteed," Ashley said at Arizona Basketball's Media Day last month. "I was that close to having my career over. For so many years, I've taken basketball for granted. It made me realize that I can’t take this for granted anymore. I’ve returned hungry, and I need to seize all of the opportunities that I have."

In the UA's first two nonconference wins this season, against Mount Saint Mary's and Cal State University-Northridge, Ashley sprang back to action and contributed heavily to Arizona's dominance, averaging 17 points and 4.5 rebounds per game while shooting with 81.3 percent accuracy.

Last year, Hollis-Jefferson earned Pac-12 All-Freshman Team honors and put up 9.1 points and 5.7 rebounds per game. He also led the team with an average of 1.1 blocks per game.

So far this year, the 6-foot-7 native of Chester, Pennsylavania, has impressed, coming in as a sixth man off the bench. He has averaged 14.5 points and six rebounds.  

Johnson is one of seven freshmen on the Wooden list and comes into Arizona's program highly touted and decorated, boasting three gold medals with USA Basketball. In the UA's opening weekend, he lived up to expectations, providing the Wildcats with an average of 12.5 points per game. Against CSUN on Sunday, the native of Fullerton, California, scored 17 points off 7-for-10 shooting while adding three rebounds and a block.

Notable Mentions

Junior backstroker Bonnie Brandon was a critical component in the Arizona women's swimming team's victorious effort against UCLA in Los Angeles. Brandon helped the Wildcats remain undefeated as the UA topped the Bruins 155-145. In addition to being part of a decisive 400-yard medley relay team, the nutritional sciences major also picked up first-place finishes in the 100-yard backstroke and 100-yard freestyle.

Categories: SportsThis is a Wildcat Corner feature: Images: Tags: StudentsStudent LifeAthleticsByline: Evan Rosenfeld, University Relations, Communications |Editor: dougcarrollInclude in UANow: 0Date of Publication: Wednesday, November 19, 2014Medium Summary: Arizona's Wildcats piled up the victories in the last week, and some were recognized nationally. Feature on Front: NoShort Summary: Arizona's Wildcats piled up the victories in the last week, and some were recognized nationally. Send to Never Settle Site: 0

UA Investigates Fraternity for Conduct Violations

Mon, 11/17/2014 - 10:29

University of Arizona officials have placed Sigma Alpha Epsilon fraternity under an interim suspension of recognition and launched an investigation into reported violations of the University’s student code of conduct.

Effective immediately, the fraternity, more commonly known as SAE, must cease all activity on the UA campus, pending the outcome of the investigation. An interim suspension of recognition is initiated when an organization is deemed to potentially present a substantial risk to the members of the University community.

The investigation concerns allegations that chapter members engaged in acts of discrimination and assault against members of the Alpha Epsilon Pi fraternity. SAE members have been directed to have no contact with AEPi members pending the outcome of the investigation.

The SAE chapter will have the opportunity to respond to any findings of conduct violations. The chapter’s national office is aware of the allegations, Kendal Washington White, dean of students, said.

The UA maintains an online listing of Greek organizations under judicial review to help students and families evaluate fraternities and sororities. It can be found at and is updated each semester.

Editor: dougcarrollByline Affiliation: University Relations - CommunicationsHeader image: NoNo Image: Subheading: Sigma Alpha Epsilon is placed under interim suspension after reported violations of University's student code of conduct.Include in UANow: 0Include in Olympic Coverage: noFeature on Olympic Page: no

The Answer Is Blowing in the Intergalactic Wind

Fri, 11/14/2014 - 12:08

Astronomers from the University of Toronto and the University of Arizona have provided the first direct evidence that an intergalactic "wind" is stripping galaxies of star-forming gas as they fall into clusters of galaxies. The observations help explain why galaxies found in clusters are known to have relatively little gas and less star formation when compared to non-cluster or "field" galaxies.

Astronomers have theorized that as a field galaxy falls into a cluster of galaxies, it encounters the cloud of hot gas at the center of the cluster. As the galaxy moves through this intracluster medium at thousands of kilometers per second, the cloud acts like a wind, blowing away the gas within the galaxy without disturbing its stars. The process is known as ram-pressure stripping.

Previously, astronomers had seen the very tenuous atomic hydrogen gas surrounding a galaxy get stripped. But it was believed that the denser molecular hydrogen clouds where stars form would be more resistant to the wind. "However, we found that the molecular hydrogen gas is also blown from the in-falling galaxy," said Suresh Sivanandam of the Dunlap Institute at the University of Toronto, "much like smoke blown from a candle being carried into a room."

Previous observations showed indirect evidence of ram-pressure stripping of star-forming gas. Astronomers have observed young stars trailing from a galaxy; the stars would have formed from gas newly stripped from the galaxy. A few galaxies also have tails of very tenuous gas. But the latest observations show the stripped, molecular hydrogen itself, which can be seen as a wake trailing from the galaxy in the direction opposite to its motion.

"For more than 40 years, we have been trying to understand why galaxies in dense clusters have so few young stars compared with ones like our Milky Way galaxy, but now we see the quenching of star formation in action," said George Rieke, a Regents' Professor at the UA's Department of Astronomy and Steward Observatory. "Cutting off the gas that forms stars is a key step in the evolution of galaxies from the early universe to the present."

The results, published in the Astrophysical Journal, are from observations of four galaxies. Sivanandam, Rieke and his wife and colleague, Marcia Rieke, also a Regents' Professor at the UA's Department of Astronomy and Steward Observatory, already had established that one of the four galaxies had been stripped of its star-forming gas by this wind. But by observing four galaxies, they have now shown that this effect is common.

The team made its analysis using optical, infrared and hydrogen-emission data from the Spitzer and Hubble space telescopes, as well as archival ground-based data. The team used an infrared spectrograph on the Spitzer telscope because direct observation of the molecular hydrogen required observations in the mid-infrared part of the spectrum—something that’s almost impossible to do from the ground.

"Seeing this stripped molecular gas is like seeing a theory on display in the sky," Marcia Rieke said. "Astronomers have assumed that something stopped the star formation in these galaxies, but it is very satisfying to see the actual cause."

After Spitzer's expected end of operations later this decade, astronomers will observe the most distant objects in the universe with the James Webb Space Telescope, or JWST, currently under construction and planned for launch in late 2018. Like Spitzer, JWST will use technology developed at the UA: a mid-infrared-wavelength camera developed by George Rieke and a near-infrared-wavelength camera developed by his wife.

Marcia Rieke has been heralded for the international effort that she has led on the Spitzer space telescope to conduct very deep surveys at far-infrared wavelengths, which will allow astronomers to trace the history of star formation back in time 10 billion years. She is the principal investigator for the near-infrared camera, or NIRCam, on the JWST, the largest space telescope ever conceived. NIRCam will study infrared light.

Together with her husband, who led one of the instrument-developing teams on the Spitzer telescope project, Marcia Rieke co-authored a paper on the infrared interstellar extinction law — one of the most cited papers in all of astronomy. Many of her most-cited papers on radiation from galactic nuclei and starbursts in colliding galaxies are considered classics in the field.

Editor: dougcarrollByline Affiliation: University Relations – CommunicationsHeader image: YesNo Image: Subheading: Using observation data from the Spitzer and Hubble space telescopes, UA astronomers help solve the mystery of why galaxies produce fewer stars when they occur in clusters. Include in UANow: yesInclude in Olympic Coverage: noFeature on Olympic Page: noUANow Image: 

Campus to Celebrate International Education Week

Fri, 11/14/2014 - 10:55

Film screenings, lectures and performances are part of the festivities taking place across campus as the University of Arizona celebrates International Education Week, Nov. 17-21.

A joint initiative of the U.S. Department of State and the U.S. Department of Education, International Education Week will be celebrated on campuses across the country to express the benefits of international education and exchange.

"International Education Week gives campus and the broader Tucson community the opportunity to see and understand what the UA does in this space," said Mike Proctor, UA vice president for global initiatives. "We are a particularly globally relevant University. ... We are a unique hub in a global knowledge network. International Education Week becomes an opportunity to express the global role of this University."

International Education Week will kick off at the UA on Monday with a symposium, "Global Higher Education: Innovative Opportunities, Outcomes and Pathways." Keynote speaker Stuart Holliday, president and CEO of Meridian International Center, will discuss the role of the U.S. in international education. Holliday is also the former U.S. ambassador for special political affairs for the United Nations.

"It's a tremendous opportunity and we're really honored by his presence, both in terms of his historical role as ambassador and also his current activity with Meridian," Proctor said.

The symposium also will cover topics related to study-abroad program development and support of international students and faculty.

A full schedule of International Education Week events at the UA is available on the Office of Global Initiatives website.

Some of the other highlights include:

  • "Myth Busters: Academic Advisors & Study Abroad" discussion on Monday, 10:15-11 a.m., in the Student Union Memorial Center Copper Room.
  • "Integrating Study Abroad Into Your Curriculum" discussion on Monday, 11:15 a.m.-noon, in the Student Union Memorial Center Copper Room.
  • The Global Excellence Awards Reception on Monday, 3-5 p.m., at the Student Union Memorial Center South Ballroom.
  • "Excuse My French" film viewing on Monday, 7-9 p.m., in the Marshall Building, Room 476.
  • "Placebo or Belief? Religion and Health in the 21st Century" presentation on Tuesday, 5-6 p.m., in the Poetry Center's Rubel Room.
  • Tai Chi Happy Hour on Wednesday, 5:30-6:30 p.m., at the College of Nursing, Room 117.
  • "Around the World in 7.5 Minutes" presentation on Wednesday, 6-8 p.m., on the Rooftop of the Level Apartments, 1020 N. Tyndall Ave.
  • A Closer Look Book Club discussion on "The Forever War" on Thursday at 6 p.m. in the UA Poetry Center's Rubel Room.
  • Study abroad photo and video contest reception on Thursday, 4-6 p.m., in the Student Union Memorial Center's Union Gallery.
  • "Baroque Christmas Music From Around the World" performance by Veni Emmanuel on Saturday at 1 p.m. in the School of Music's Holsclaw Hall. Tickets are $5 and can be purchased here.

For more information about International Education Week, visit

Editor: dougcarrollByline: Amanda BallardByline Affiliation: University Relations - CommunicationsHeader image: YesNo Image: Subheading: The UA will celebrate the benefits of international education and exchange during International Education Week, Nov. 17-21.Include in UANow: 0Include in Olympic Coverage: noFeature on Olympic Page: no

UA Superfan Jane McCollum: She's With the Band

Fri, 11/14/2014 - 10:30

Jane McCollum never attended the University of Arizona, but she bleeds red and blue as much as any proud alumnus, whether she's working on logistics for a Bear Down Friday pep rally or hosting the UA marching band at a tailgate party at her home.

McCollum, one of the University's most loyal fans and supporters, is the general manager of the Marshall Foundation, named for Louise Foucar Marshall, who became the UA's first female professor in 1898.

The foundation, which manages the Main Gate Square retail area adjacent to the UA, donates about $1.3 million a year to local nonprofit organizations, with about half of that money going to the UA to support need-based undergraduate scholarships and various University programs.

"The Marshall Foundation has been invaluable to the University of Arizona and the Tucson community," says James H. Moore Jr., president and CEO of the UA Foundation. "Louise Foucar Marshall determined to make education accessible, and in that spirit the Marshall Foundation has become one of University’s longest-standing philanthropic supporters, providing for student scholarships and funding faculty members. It has been a leader in the cultural and economic development surrounding the University, including the revitalization of Main Gate Square and the corridor from the UA to downtown. This is philanthropy that benefits the entire community."

In her role with the Marshall Foundation, McCollum works with Main Gate Square merchants on property management matters ranging from leasing to maintenance, and she coordinates with the foundation's board on charitable giving. She also works with University and community partners on events held in Main Gate Square, including the UA's Bear Down Friday pep rallies.

With Main Gate Square's proximity and ties to the UA, McCollum is frequently involved in conversations and collaborations with campus representatives. However, her personal connection with the University began long before she joined the Marshall Foundation in 2003.

It was 1984 when McCollum moved to Tucson with her husband, David Buck, to escape the cold winters of Illinois.

She had left behind a job teaching high school English and journalism, and in her desert home she quickly discovered two new loves: a career in real estate and property management, and the UA.

"The minute we moved to Arizona, we knew that the energy and the heart of Tucson was at the University of Arizona. We could feel it," she says.

These days, McCollum is rarely far from campus. When she leaves her office, tucked away in a historic building on University Boulevard, she heads to a home located just a short walk from McKale Center. And when she has free time, she often can be found on campus with her husband, checking out an exhibit, public lecture, concert, theatrical performance or sporting event. The couple is never without season tickets to UA football, basketball and softball. They even followed their beloved Wildcats to bowl-game appearances in Albuquerque, New Mexico, and Shreveport, Louisiana, in 2012 and 2013.

"I'm a big fan. I go to every game, I stay to the end and I scream," McCollum says.

In addition to being an avid sports fan, McCollum also is a music lover, and she and her husband have made several donations to the Pride of Arizona marching band.

Before all UA home football games, the couple opens their home to band members and friends for what have become tailgate parties of epic proportions, drawing as many as 100 guests and featuring menus that go far beyond burgers and dogs. This season's parties have had an "Eat the Opponent" theme. For example, when the UA played the USC Trojans, attendees were invited to bring Greek dishes, and when the Wildcats took on the Colorado Buffaloes for homecoming, it was all about bison meat. 

McCollum also logs some teaching time at the UA. Every semester, she guest lectures in the University's "Heritage and Traditions" class, educating students about the Marshall Foundation and its unique history and ties to the UA.

"When I'm teaching 'Heritage and Traditions,' I tell them the University is the best thing about Tucson. It gives us all the best things we have and is overwhelmingly what drives our economy," she says. "There's a soul that exists in Tucson that's much older than the University, but the University elevated Tucson, in my opinion."

One might also call McCollum an unofficial recruiter for the UA. She successfully convinced two nieces and a nephew to come to the University.

Although she earned a degree from Butler University, many would agree she has earned the status of honorary Wildcat. And she hopes more people will come to love the UA as much as she does.

"We don't always appreciate the gem that is here and don't take advantage of it. When I hear people say, 'There's nothing to do in Tucson,' I tell them, 'Go to the University of Arizona.'"

Editor: dougcarrollByline: Alexis BlueByline Affiliation: University Relations - CommunicationsHeader image: YesNo Image: Subheading: The general manager of the Marshall Foundation knew as soon she moved to Arizona 30 years ago that the UA was "the heart of Tucson."Include in UANow: yesInclude in Olympic Coverage: noFeature on Olympic Page: noUANow Image: 

Viruses: Tiny Teachers of Biology

Thu, 11/13/2014 - 17:07

Imagine that an invisible, microscopic invader has found its way into your body and hijacked the cellular machinery that keeps you healthy. Inhabiting the gray area between living and nonliving, the invader can only reproduce once it makes its new home inside of your cells, eventually causing you to fall ill. How do physicians and scientists combat this uninvited guest?

Viruses long have been the subjects of scientific study, and researchers have uncovered just as many new questions as answers. The National Institutes of Health recently awarded two 5-year, $1.8 million grants to scientists Felicia Goodrum and Samuel Campos of the University of Arizona's BIO5 Institute for their research into the fundamental nature of two common but devastating viruses affecting millions of people worldwide.

Goodrum, an associate professor in the Department of Immunobiology at the UA College of Medicine, studies human cytomegalovirus. CMV is transmitted through contact with saliva and urine and to a developing fetus during pregnancy, and it will infect 60 to 70 percent of the U.S. population by the age of 40.

The virus is capable of inhabiting every type of cell in the human body, and it will remain with its host for his or her entire life. In most people, the virus stays dormant unless they are immunocompromised. This means that people who are elderly, have recently had an organ transplant or suffer from other diseases of the immune system such as AIDS are at the highest risk for developing symptoms. In those afflicted, CMV can cause liver failure, retinal inflammation and bowel inflammation.

"CMV is a master of our biology in that it infects most healthy people without any sign of disease," Goodrum said. "Viruses do not necessarily need to make us sick to ensure their survival."

The most devastating effects of CMV are seen in its transmission from mother to child during pregnancy, affecting one in 150 live births in the U.S. CMV is the leading cause of birth defects and can result in cerebral palsy, seizures, vision impairment, hearing loss and intellectual disability.

According to Goodrum, the remarkable thing about CMV is its ability to induce and suppress its activity in response to cues from its host. Although antiviral drugs exist to treat CMV while it is active and replicating, there are no methods for targeting the infection in its dormant state, and there is no vaccine.

Goodrum and her team recently discovered a molecular switch that helps the virus suppress its own replication or pull itself out of dormancy based on environmental cues. Goodrum’s goal is to uncover the viral genes that CMV uses and the cellular processes targeted by these factors to control its own persistence.

"We need to better understand CMV’s complex relationship with its host," Goodrum said. "If we could develop a drug that inhibited reactivation of the virus, we could prevent replication and disease."

Campos, an assistant professor in the Department of Immunobiology, is investigating a virus known as human papillomavirus, or HPV. Transmitted primarily through sexual contact, HPV affects 79 million people in the U.S., and that number is growing at a rate of 14 million per year.

With more than 150 different types, HPV is so common that most sexually active men and women will become infected at some point in their life. While many people contract HPV without ever experiencing any symptoms, others develop genital warts and even cancer. HPV 16 and 18 account for 75 percent of cases of cervical cancer. Taken together, HPV infections are responsible for about five percent of cancer cases worldwide.

Campos wants to understand how HPV delivers its viral genome to a host cell nucleus so the virus can replicate. Specifically, he is interested in studying the structure and function of a protein called L2, which helps the virus ferry its genetic material across the host cell membrane. Campos explained that L2 is very similar among all types of HPV, suggesting that it may hold the key to creating better therapies and vaccines against infection.

"If we can understand the structure and function of L2, we could potentially apply this to the development of low-cost therapeutic compounds that would inhibit its action," he said. "We may even be able to someday create an L2-based pan-vaccine that would elicit protection against all types of the virus."

Moving the entire viral genome into a host cell is no easy feat, and precisely how L2 accomplishes this is not yet fully understood. Understanding these subcellular pathways is important because there are many different types of cellular alarm systems that normally detect invading viruses and alert the immune system. L2 may have evolved to quietly navigate the viral genome through these pathways without tripping many alarms.

If this is the case, then the way HPV infects cells may contribute to evasion of the immune system and viral persistence, increasing the risk of cancers developing down the road. The longer the infection is allowed to linger, the greater the cancer risk.

Both Goodrum and Campos emphasized the importance of basic research and the fundamental mechanisms of human biology that can be uncovered by studies like these.

"CMV is an amazing model to study viral persistence," Goodrum said. "Not only does it not cause disease in otherwise healthy people, it acts on cellular processes that are also important in cancer growth. It can teach us a lot about human biology."

"So many biology fundamentals have been learned from studying viruses, important discoveries that researchers were never expecting to find," said Campos, who explained that a host cell protein involved in HPV genome trafficking called gamma secretase also is implicated in Alzheimer’s disease. "This is why basic research is important — you never know what you might uncover."

Editor: dougcarrollWriter: Raymond SanchezByline: Raymond Sanchez, NASA Space Grant Science Writer internByline Affiliation: University Relations - CommunicationsHeader image: YesNo Image: Subheading: The National Institutes of Health has awarded two $1.8 million grants to UA researchers investigating two common but devastating viruses that affect millions of people worldwide. Include in UANow: yesInclude in Olympic Coverage: noFeature on Olympic Page: noUANow Image: 

Europe's Comet Chaser Provides Test Data for UA's OSIRIS-REx Mission

Thu, 11/13/2014 - 16:41

In a guest column, Dante Lauretta, who is leading the UA's OSIRIS-REx NASA mission, writes about the achievement of the European Space Agency's Rosetta, which became the first mission to successfully land a spacecraft on the surface of a comet. The Philae lander detached from Rosetta on Nov. 12, landing on the comet seven hours later. The landing has made planetary exploration history, Lauretta says.

Photo copyright: European Space Agency

The OSIRIS-REx team in Tucson gathered together to watch the coverage of the landing.

We put the live stream from European Space Agency TV on the big screen in our Southwest Meteorite Auditorium, grabbed some bagels and coffee, and prepared to cheer on our European colleagues during this historic event. 

I arrived at 8 a.m. to view the broadcast.

Over the past couple of years, the OSIRIS-REx team has developed a productive collaboration with the Rosetta operations team. A delegation from our mission has traveled to Darmstadt on several occasions to discuss navigation challenges, landing-site selection and science operations challenges. We watched with baited breath while our friends and colleagues in Germany waited anxiously for the signal from Philae indicating a successful landing.

The expected time for contact came and went, and no signal was detected.

At this point, I really started to empathize with our friends overseas. I flashed forward four years, to the time when OSIRIS-REx will descend down to the surface of Bennu to collect the sample. I had to get up out of my chair and I began to pace around the room. I started to think about all of the implications for our mission if the lander failed to contact the Rosetta spacecraft. First and foremost, I would have to deal with the media inquiries. I started reviewing some talking points just in case.

Fortunately, we soon saw our colleagues erupt in cheers. We knew that they had received the landing signal. They had done it. They had become the first team to successfully land on a comet!

Immediately I began to think about the interaction of Philae with the comet surface. Was the surface compliant enough to absorb most of the energy of contact? Or, did they hit the surface and bounce back off into space, only to come down at another location? As the information unfolded, it became clear that the latter scenario had occurred.

From a navigation perspective, this landing was a huge success. They were able to compensate for all of the gravitational and non-gravitational forces that would influence the lander trajectory and deploy for an on-target landing.

This is an area where OSIRIS-REx stands to gain from the Rosetta experience. We face very similar challenges in accurately navigating the spacecraft around Bennu. In addition, we have to design a similar trajectory to send the entire vehicle down to the surface to collect the sample. The good news is that we are designing our system to bounce off the surface. Rosetta's experience confirms a fundamental aspect of our mission design!

Overall, ESA has achieved an historic scientific and engineering milestone. The data already returned from this mission have revolutionized our understanding of comets ... and they are just getting started.

Read Lauretta's full column, "The Rosetta Mission's Philae Landing – An OSIRIS-REx Perspective," online.

Categories: Science and TechnologyThis is a Wildcat Corner feature: Images: Tags: FacultyResearchEducationByline: Faculty, Research, EducationEditor: dougcarrollInclude in UANow: 0Date of Publication: Friday, November 14, 2014Medium Summary: Dante Lauretta, who is leading the UA's OSIRIS-REx NASA mission, writes about the achievement of the European Space Agency's Rosetta. Feature on Front: YesShort Summary: Dante Lauretta, who is leading the UA's OSIRIS-REx NASA mission, writes about the achievement of the European Space Agency's Rosetta. Send to Never Settle Site: 0

Do You Need a Junk-Food Intervention?

Thu, 11/13/2014 - 10:30

What if your social media network — the actual interface, not your followers — could tip you off to a personal risk for developing a preventable medical condition, then help you figure out ways to improve your lifestyle?

University of Arizona computer science and nutritional science researchers are working on that exact issue, determining ways to enhance artificial intelligence capabilities to predict certain chronic, yet preventable, health conditions based on a person's social media activity.

"It is very simple to tell people that there are risks associated with poor eating, but there is no reason for people to trust us or a robot," said Mihai Surdeanu, an associate professor in the School of Information: Science, Technology, and Arts.

Surdeanu acknowledged the challenge with early detection: Many people are ill-informed about their own risk and subsequently do not change their eating habits or level of physical activity.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, in its 2014 report, noted that about 29.1 million Americans are living with diabetes, and 8.1 million of those people are estimated to be undiagnosed, resulting in more than $245 billion in costs each year. The agency also reports that an estimated 86 million Americans who are at least 20 are at high risk of developing Type 2 diabetes.

Surdeanu and his collaborators found in an earlier study that the way people talk about food in social media carries an important predictive power. The team members believe social media presents a critical space for the future of preventative medicine. 

"We could plan interventions through social media by carefully placing ads, or by connecting people with others," Surdeanu said. "This is a very exciting area in machine learning, which is about explaining to humans what machines know."

Surdeanu is a member of the UA team that recently completed an extensive analysis about how Twitter followers from different U.S. regions talk about food. The team released findings in mid-October, noting that Twitter followers often reference brisket in Texas, caviar in California, the tamale in Arizona and grits throughout the southern U.S. Such regional language cues proved to be strong predictors of a community's risk for diabetes.

The UA researchers presented their earlier findings and article, "Analyzing the Language of Food on Social Media," during the IEEE International Conference on Big Data 2014, which was held at the end of October in Washington, D.C. Media outlets across the country picked up on the story, with some even using U.S. maps to show each state's most-talked-about food.

Other team members are: Daniel Fried, a research assistant in the UA School of Information: Science, Technology, and Arts, who was the main author of the paper as an undergraduate student majoring in computer science and SISTA; Stephen Kobourov, a computer science professor; Melanie Hingle, an assistant professor of nutritional sciences; and Thienne Johnson, a research associate in computer science and also electrical and computer engineering.

In the earlier study, the team relied on CDC and National Institutes of Health data to evaluate national hot spots for the prevalence of people who are overweight and who have diabetes. Drilled down from 3.5 million tweets, the team evaluated 562,547 tweets, resulting in a model to predict who could have a higher risk for the illness. 

In the second phase of the project, which is currently underway, the team is switching from evaluating the risk of communities to focusing on individuals. For now, the team is evaluating a group of individuals who have a prominent social media presence, including actors, comedians, writers, athletes and chefs.

The team plans to gauge a person's level of activity based on the types of hashtags they use in their posts — for example, #laziness versus #cycling — and by further analyzing their social media presence through the analysis of additional text, images and videos. Relying on existing nationwide survey data associated with the prevalence of Type 2 diabetes, the team is developing a model that would then estimate a person's likelihood of developing the condition.

The team also is running a parallel analysis, recruiting hundreds of individuals to share information about their specific condition of health to determine the viability and potential impact of analyzing social media data.

The next step is figuring out interventions. The team will evaluate the effectiveness of ad placement, diet visualizations, and the use of quizzes and games.

"What is great about social media is that you have the ability to reach millions of people at once," Surdeanu said. "It's better than the small fraction of people who would actually get help by seeing a physician at a doctor's office."

The team also noted limitations with the study, acknowledging that social media habits do not present a full picture of a person's habits. Despite the limitations, the team believes the implications carry hefty impacts for public health, education, science, and social sites and mobile apps.

"This has been such an interesting project, exploring data to see how people are eating, what they are eating and how that changes over time," Fried said. "The project could help lower the rate of preventable diseases like diabetes.

"Maintaining a healthy lifestyle takes effort, and if it's possible to use this technology to make people aware of risk factors in their own lives as well as the alternative options they have available, it should make it easier for people to make healthier choices."

Like Fried, Surdeanu is intrinsically motivated to continue the research because he wants to see positive change in public health.

"We are not talking about redoing the health-care system," Surdeanu said. "Even if we see people make improvements with a tiny bit more physical activity and diet, that helps."

Editor: dougcarrollWriter: La Monica Everett-HaynesByline: La Monica Everett-HaynesByline Affiliation: University Relations - CommunicationsHeader image: YesNo Image: Subheading: When you tweet about your addiction to sweets or post images of triple-decker burgers, does that say something about your health? A UA team is exploring the connection.Include in UANow: yesInclude in Olympic Coverage: noFeature on Olympic Page: noUANow Image: 

Moving Ideas to Market Becomes the UA Way

Wed, 11/12/2014 - 17:28

It was one year ago that University of Arizona President Ann Weaver Hart presented "Never Settle," the UA’s strategic plan, to the Arizona Board of Regents.

One important priority of the plan is the expansion of research and discovery to ensure the institution's future success and also to benefit communities through the creation of new knowledge and the expansion of inventions taken to market.

To support that charge, and to build a dynamic "commercialization ecosystem" throughout campus, the UA has revised its intellectual property policy and its promotion and tenure policy to enhance commercialization activities while also ensuring that the University is more inclusive about the type of scholarship that is rewarded.

"Our researchers continue to come up with innovative and amazing ideas and technologies. The translation and commercialization assistance that we can provide to realize that research into marketable solutions fits very well with the Never Settle plan," said Kimberly Andrews Espy, the UA's senior vice president of research. "These revisions will provide even more incentive for our researchers to continue to explore the realm of what’s possible."

Through Never Settle and the mission of Tech Launch Arizona, which are more closely aligned with the approval of these policies, such activities will not merely continue but grow, said David Allen, TLA’s vice president. "The University is undergoing an important transformation in this arena," Allen said.

The promotion and tenure policy was revised to consider not merely commercialization but other technology transfer activities as part of the tenure process.

"I'm very enthusiastic about departments having the option to include items like patents and inventions in the broad range of possible scholarly activity that they will consider for promotion and tenure," said UA Provost Andrew Comrie. "It is important for the UA to be inclusive and progressive in the types of scholarship that advance the institution."

During fiscal year 2014, TLA worked with UA researchers to disclose 188 inventions, create 11 startup companies and file 167 patents. All told for the 2014 fiscal year, the work of TLA and its partners led to $1.6 million in revenue from intellectual property activities.

To help expand involvement and awareness, TLA hosts regular workshops to inform faculty, researchers and students about the commercialization process. TLA just completed a five-workshop series in October, and it will be offering a similar "Invention to Impact" series again in the spring.

Additionally, the Commercialization Advisory Network was launched. The network now has upward of 800 experienced domain experts, entrepreneurs, investors and others to help researchers identify and act on potential impacts of their inventions.

One recent example is an innovative way to grow vascularized human tissue — an advance that has applications in testing potential drug therapies and the development of treatments for cardiovascular disease — which recently was licensed and commercialized. TLA facilitated the development of the exclusive license agreement between the UA and Angiomics Inc., which is based in Louisville, Kentucky.

Another example: A peptide that helps people produce photo-protective melanin to prevent skin cancers was developed by UA Regents' Professor Emeritus of Chemistry and Biochemistry Victor J. Hruby and the Peptide Group in the Department of Chemistry and Biochemistry. In September, the UA licensed the invention to Teleost Biopharmaceutical, a company based on the invention, which is now moving its headquarters from Colorado to Tucson to partner long-term with the original UA inventors. 

Such activities also benefit communities around the state.

Flagstaff-based Senestech and SinfoníaRx in Tucson are growing their operations in Arizona, creating high-tech, high-wage jobs. SinfoníaRx — a provider of personalized medication management, in only its second year of operation — is hiring graduates from the UA College of Pharmacy, keeping talent in Tucson.

To further accelerate growth, TLA launched the Catapult Corporation, also called "Cat Corp," to provide early-stage capital to the most promising startup companies emerging from UA researchers. Tucson’s Thomas R. Brown Foundations pledged to match up to $2.5 million raised to initiate the donor-funded organization.

In the coming year, the Arizona Board of Regents has set goals for TLA that include delivering 190 invention disclosures, 17 patents and 10 new companies.

"In almost all cases, faculty want impact, and often that comes in the form of adding to a body of knowledge," Allen said.

"We need to move that knowledge forward into the marketplace. In almost all cases it has to be protected. For a licensee to invest tens to hundreds of millions, they need protected IP in order to obtain a return on their investments."

Lynn Nadel, Regents' Professor of Psychology and Cognitive Science and chairman of the Faculty Senate, said the policy improvements would have a long-term tangible impact.

"Whether or not our move contributes to a broad culture change is hard to predict," Nadel said, "but it should change the culture at the UA in positive ways, better connecting what we do to what the public needs."

Editor: dougcarrollByline Affiliation: University Relations - CommunicationsExtra Info: 

Have an idea for a product or a company and need information or support? Contact Doug Hockstad, technology transfer director for Tech Transfer Arizona, at or 520-626-1720.

Header image: YesNo Image: Subheading: Policies on intellectual property and promotion and tenure have been revised to accelerate commercialization activities across the University. Include in UANow: yesInclude in Olympic Coverage: noFeature on Olympic Page: noUANow Image: 

UA Research Spawns Eco-Friendly Cement Substitute

Wed, 11/12/2014 - 15:10

When he was a Ph.D. student in the University of Arizona Department of Soil, Water, and Environmental Science, David Stone won a student innovation competition with the invention of an eco-friendly substitute for Portland cement.

The U.S. Patent and Trademark Office issued a patent for the UA invention in 2013, and today, in collaboration with Tech Launch Arizona, Stone has licensed the technology from the UA and is starting a company called Iron Shell to commercialize his invention.

The invention, called Ferrock, uses the waste steel dust from industrial processes to create a cement-like material that is sustainable, strong and environmentally superior to conventional cement. Cement is the binder in concrete, which also includes aggregate such as sand and gravel.

Along with turning a waste product that usually ends up in landfills into a useful product, Ferrock has another —perhaps even greater — environmental advantage. Annually, 4 billion metric tons of cement is made worldwide for use in concrete, and for every ton of cement manufactured, approximately one ton of carbon dioxide is released into the atmosphere.

Conversely, Ferrock hardens only when exposed to high concentrations of carbon dioxide, which is absorbed and trapped, making it a carbon negative material. This greenhouse gas diffuses into the wet mixture and reacts with the iron, creating iron carbonate and becoming part of the material’s mineral matrix.

Lab testing shows that Ferrock is significantly stronger than Portland cement in compressive strength and several times stronger in flexural strength, meaning it can take more stress before bending and breaking. It also has superior resistance to cracking. Because hardening is caused by the rusting of iron dust, it is well-suited for use in salt water and other environments that are too corrosive for regular cement.

"This all started from an accidental discovery in a lab, which is actually the way it usually goes," Stone says. "That was back in 2002, and I included as much as I knew in my doctoral dissertation.  But the work goes on. It has taken years to get just a basic understanding of the chemistry involved. But this shouldn’t be surprising, since scientists are still trying to figure out Portland cement and they’ve had 200 years.

"I am into this for the long haul. Time is on our side, since in this era of global warming unsustainable processes like cement manufacture will have to give way to greener alternatives."

Doug Hockstad, Tech Launch Arizona’s director of tech transfer, is excited by the prospects for Iron Shell.

"The technology stands to impact the world in a variety of ways," Hockstad says, "including both reduction of carbon dioxide production and sequestration of other carbon dioxide production, as well as recycling of waste products such as steel waste and in some cases, recycled glass. For all that, this represents an amazing engineering achievement that has the potential to create a great, positive impact on the environment.”

Stone says TLA's role has been substantial.

"Scientist inventors are not exactly known for their business skills, but (TLA) believed in me from the beginning and felt that I should play a central role in the commercialization effort," he says. "They then demonstrated this belief by giving my own startup the exclusive license to the patent and the right to sublicense. The terms were very generous and demonstrated that they think this commercialization effort will succeed. Beyond that, they have continuously aided my efforts to find business advisors, get the expertise I need and build a team."

Editor: dougcarrollByline: Paul TumarkinByline Affiliation: Tech Launch ArizonaHeader image: YesNo Image: Subheading: Ferrock uses uses the waste steel dust from industrial processes to create a cementlike material that is sustainable and stronger than conventional cement.Include in UANow: yesInclude in Olympic Coverage: noFeature on Olympic Page: noUANow Image: 

College Embeds Have Fingers on Research Pulse

Wed, 11/12/2014 - 12:57

Transforming an idea to reality can be an intimidating, complex process. Fortunately for University of Arizona innovators, Tech Launch Arizona is on hand to help.

Tech Launch Arizona, also known as TLA, helps move inventions, technologies and intellectual property out of the laboratory and into the marketplace. To help make the process even easier, TLA has worked to create close connections between UA colleges and its services.

Currently, TLA has six embedded licensing managers, each of whom is partnered with a UA college. While all have offices at TLA, each also has a home in the colleges where they spend half their time, interacting with faculty, researchers and students on a day-to-day basis, keeping their fingers on the pulse of research.

These professionals — experts in intellectual property who are well versed both in the business and technical sides of their fields — work with faculty and researchers to identify the potentially valuable inventions that might emerge during the course of research and development.

"All we want is for people to have that awareness when something might be an invention, and just call us," says David Allen, TLA's vice president. "We're here to provide our service to the entire UA."

TLA has embeds in the College of Science, the College of Engineering, the College of Optical Sciences, the College of Medicine, the Eller College of Management, and the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences.

However, TLA provides services to researchers across the UA campus regardless of field of study.

Should anyone within the UA community develop an invention, or even have an inkling that they might have a potentially commercially valuable idea, they should contact the licensing manager within their college — or just call TLA — and talk it over.

For more information, visit

Editor: dougcarrollByline Affiliation: University Relations - CommunicationsHeader image: YesNo Image: Subheading: Currently, Tech Launch Arizona has six embedded licensing managers, each of whom is partnered with a UA college.Include in UANow: yesInclude in Olympic Coverage: noFeature on Olympic Page: noUANow Image: 

Clues Revealed About Hidden Interior of Uranus

Wed, 11/12/2014 - 12:22

By re-analyzing images that NASA's Voyager-2 spacecraft took 28 years ago, University of Arizona astronomer Erich Karkoschka has teased out hidden features in Uranus' atmosphere that reveal an unexpected, strange rotation pattern and point to the possible existence of an unusual feature inside the planet's interior. The findings shed light on the interior structures of giant gas planets, not only of Uranus, a planet for which observational data are sparse, but also those of the many extrasolar planets that are being discovered.

When Voyager-2 flew by Uranus in January 1986 and sent the first close-up images back to Earth, it revealed a giant, pale blue icy ball that lacked the stunningly detailed, colorful bands and swirls of Jupiter, Saturn and Neptune. No more than eight faint features could be tracked, all located in the southern hemisphere. Only one of the eight features was located in the southern half of the southern hemisphere. Images taken with the Hubble Space Telescope and the largest telescopes on Earth did not reveal any feature there. The southern half of Uranus' southern hemisphere seemed to be the blandest region in the outer solar system.

The animation below, provided by Karkoschka, shows Uranus as Voyager-2 saw it during its fly-by in 1986, superimposed with the new look of the giant gas planet as a result of this study.

By teasing out subtle differences from the information contained in Voyager's images, Karkoschka discovered previously unseen features in Uranus' atmosphere, revealing that Uranus' southern hemisphere rotates unlike any region observed on the giant gas planets before. Karkoschka presented his findings at the meeting of the Division for Planetary Science of the American Astronomical Association in Tucson.

"Some of these features probably are convective clouds caused by updraft and condensation," said Karkoschka, a senior staff scientist at the UA's Lunar and Planetary Laboratory. "Some of the brighter features look like clouds that extend over hundreds of kilometers."

Your browser does not support HTML5 video.

A gas giant's observable atmosphere extends less than one percent of the planet's radius. Knowledge is limited about the more than 99 percent beneath it. In the absence of a visible surface, scientists rely on atmospheric features to determine the rotation periods of gas giants. The picture is complicated by atmospheric circulation patterns that vary with latitude and may or may not be in sync with the planet's core rotation rate.

"What we're really looking at when we observe the giant planets are their thick atmospheres," Karkoschka explained. "Cloud features tracking winds move mostly east or west at a speed depending on the latitude. Once we know the wind speed or rotational period at each latitude, we know the circulation of the planet's atmosphere."

In 1665, Giovanni Cassini performed the first rotational measurement of a giant planet when he tracked the Great Red Spot on Jupiter. Over the last three and a half centuries, astronomers have pinned down essentially the complete circulation of Jupiter and Saturn and about 75 percent for Uranus and Neptune. Karkoschka's new work fills in the remaining 25 percent for Uranus. 

"All previous observations of the giant planets indicated that these planets rotate in a regular way, meaning the rotational rates in their respective southern and northern latitudes are about the same," Karkoschka said. "My analysis suggests rotational rates in the high latitudes of Uranus are highly asymmetrical, with some southern latitudes possibly rotating as much as 15 percent faster than their northern counterparts."

Karkoschka found several sharp kinks in the rotational profile, defying all previous observations and theoretical considerations.

"The unusual rotation of high southern latitudes of Uranus is probably due to an unusual feature in the interior of Uranus," he said. "While the nature of the feature and its interaction with the atmosphere are not yet known, the fact that I found this unusual rotation offers new possibilities to learn about the interior of a giant planet."

Astronomers have tried to find clues about the interior of the giant planets, but little is known so far. Signals at radio wavelengths have indicated the rotation of the magnetic field of the giant planets, which likely reflects the rotation of the deep interior core. However, these data do not reveal much about the interior structure. Additional clues have come from measurements of the giant planets' gravitational fields, but data are extremely sparse. Karkoschka's detailed rotational measurements of Uranus may help determine the interior structure of Uranus fairly accurately by eliminating some of the proposed models of the planet's interior.

Your browser does not support HTML5 video.

This animation shows the differential rotation of previously unseen atmospheric features in Uranus's southern hemisphere. (Credit: Erich Karkoschka)


"Most of the more than a thousand planets discovered around other stars are similar in size to Uranus," Karkoschka said. "They are too far for us to be able to measure their rotational profiles for the foreseeable future, but with an improved knowledge about Uranus, we might be better able to draw conclusions about their interior structure."

Uranus is an oddball in the solar system. Its rotational axis is tilted by almost 90 degrees, like a spinning top lying on its side. One lap around the sun takes about 85 years. Uranus' spring equinox in 2007 marked the beginning of a 43-year long period of darkness for the south pole and its surroundings, hidden from Earth's view. It seemed that the southern half of Uranus southern hemisphere was destined to stay a bland spot in the solar system — a region of unknown winds for decades to come.

Karkoschka did not want to wait that long. He experimented with different processing techniques and developed pattern recognition software until previously unseen features popped out. The largest improvement came when he stacked 1,600 images on top of one another to account for various possibilities of the rotation of Uranus. In the end, dozens of features became visible where only a single one was known before. The features were scattered all over the southern half of Uranus' southern hemisphere so that its detailed circulation pattern finally became known. All these features, except the one previously known, are of very low contrast and become visible when the contrast is enhanced 300 times.

Karkoschka's work illustrates the scientific value that can be gleaned from data that have been around for a long time, available to anyone with Internet access. He had similar success when he investigated 13-year-old Voyager images of Uranus’ surroundings and discovered the satellite Perdita.

"The computer memory necessary to process 1,600 images was not available at the time Voyager took these images," Karkoschka said. "As computers and calibration methods get better, we can now do this kind of work, at a tiny fraction of the cost necessary to send a spacecraft to a planet."

This work was supported by NASA (grant #NNX12AI68G) and was made possible by individuals involved in NASA's Voyager project, which is still collecting data 37 years after launch.

Editor: dougcarrollWriter: Daniel StolteByline: Daniel StolteByline Affiliation: University Relations – CommunicationsHeader image: YesNo Image: Subheading: Long believed to be one of the blandest regions of any of the giant gas planets, the southern hemisphere of Uranus indicates a flurry of previously unknown atmospheric phenomena, hinting at an unusual feature in the interior of the planet.Include in UANow: 0Include in Olympic Coverage: noFeature on Olympic Page: no