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How Longhorned Beetles Find Mr. Right

10 hours 6 min ago

A longhorned beetle’s sexy scent might make a female perk up her antennae. But when the males of several species all smell the same, a female cannot choose by cologne alone.

For these beetles to find a mate of the right species, timing is everything, according to research from a University of Arizona-led team.

"We found that beetles that produce the same pheromone are active at different times of day — and that beetles that are active at the same time of day produce different pheromones," said lead author Robert F. Mitchell, a UA research associate in the Department of Neuroscience and the Center for Insect Science.

In addition, the team found that some of the beetle species that used the same pheromone stayed true to their species by segregating their mating activity by season of the year.

Many animals use chemicals called pheromones to communicate.

"Smell is an underappreciated sense in people — but when you talk about insects, many 'see' their world in chemicals," said Mitchell, a fellow in the Postdoctoral Excellence in Research and Teaching Program. "The most common thing they say with pheromones is, 'I’m looking for a mate.'"

Scientists generally expect each insect species to have its own signature perfume to attract suitable mates. When an insect emits its unique sexual attractant, potential suitors can come a-courting from hundreds of yards away.

However, the family of longhorned beetles presents a puzzle: Many species use the same pheromone, Mitchell said. The situation seemed to contradict the generally accepted idea of one species-one pheromone.

Once the team figured out the various beetle species sent out their scent signals during different parts of the year and at different times of the day, it all made sense, Mitchell said.

"Our research provides a framework for understanding how insects that produce the same pheromone can produce separate signals," he said.

Research on insect pheromones has practical applications, Mitchell said.

"Pheromones are promising alternatives to pesticides as a means of monitoring and controlling pests," he said.

For example, by baiting traps with the appropriate pheromone, scientists can detect pest insects and monitor their movements. In the Western U.S., pheromones are used to combat a longhorned beetle known as the California prionus that is a pest on hops, Mitchell said.

Using pheromones also can reveal the presence of destructive invasive species such as the Asian longhorned beetle. 

The research team’s paper, "Cerambycid beetle species with similar pheromones are segregated by phenology and minor pheromone components," is featured on the cover of the May issue of the Journal of Chemical Ecology. (A list of the authors is at the end of this story.)

As part of his doctoral research at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, Mitchell studied the chemical attractants for dozens of species of longhorned beetles native to deciduous forests of eastern North America. The beetles bore into the woody stems of dead shrubs and trees.

He later focused on 11 species all attracted to the same chemical. When he and his colleagues put traps baited with that pheromone out in the woods, after 24 hours the traps contained "a big multi-species party."

Initially, Mitchell and his colleagues were baffled. Such a multi-species party didn’t make sense, he said, because mating outside one’s species doesn’t result in viable offspring.

"We asked, 'How do they tell each other apart if they’re all producing the same thing?'" he said.

The team had been using traps that collected all the beetles attracted in a 24-hour period.

Senior author Lawrence M. Hanks learned about a rotating trap that could separate beetles by the time of day they entered the trap. That setup allowed the scientists to test whether different species were attracted only at certain times of day.

By using the rotating traps, the researchers found some species visited primarily in the daytime, some came in the early evening and some came at night. Other experiments revealed that the 11 species also searched for mates at different times in the spring.

Finally, the team found that species completely overlapping in time would add additional scents that put off other species while attracting their own.

Some exotic longhorned beetles such as the Asian longhorned beetle have been introduced to the U.S. in packing materials such as wooden pallets.

The scientists write in their paper that if an invasive species used the same pheromone as a complex of native species, the chemicals emitted by the natives might prevent the invaders from finding suitable mates.

"Our native beetles might be unwittingly defending us against invaders," Mitchell said.

Mitchell’s co-authors are: Peter F. Reagel, now of USDA APHIS PPQ, Laredo, Texas; Joseph C. H. Wong and Linnea R. Meier, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign; Weliton Dias Silva, University of São Paulo, Brazil; Judith Mongold-Diers, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign; Jocelyn G. Millar, University of California, Riverside; and Lawrence M. Hanks, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign.

Alphawood Foundation of Chicago, the U.S. Department of Agriculture, the National Institutes of Health (5K12 GM000708-15) and CAPES-Foundation-Brazil funded the research.

Editor: dougcarrollByline: Mari N. JensenByline Affiliation: UA College of ScienceExtra Info: 

Related websites:

UA Department of Neuroscience


Center for Insect Science

Header image: YesNo Image: Subheading: Smelling good is just part of what some beetles must do to find a mate. They have to exude the proper perfume at the right time of day and right season of the year, a UA-led team found. Include in UANow: yesInclude in Olympic Coverage: noFeature on Olympic Page: noUANow Image: Includes video: 

Eller MBA Students Raise Donations for Turkish Nonprofit

Tue, 05/26/2015 - 5:41pm

In between sipping Turkish tea and visiting the Blue Mosque in Istanbul, students in the Eller College of Management's Evening MBA Program had time to learn about a local nonprofit and became inspired to support its mission.

As part of the program's Global Business Perspectives course, 16 students traveled to Istanbul in March to visit a variety of organizations and learn more about how international businesses operate. One of the organizations they visited was Kadın Emegini Degerlendirme Vakfı, also known as KEDV, or the Foundation for the Support of Women's Work.

Established in 1986, KEDV is a nonprofit, nongovermental organization with the mission of improving women's leadership throughout Turkey by supporting grassroots efforts to improve the quality of their lives and communities.

During the visit, students learned how KEDV assists women by providing mentoring, business education and micro-loans for entrepreneurial ventures. In turn, the foundation aims to develop more stable, prosperous communities throughout Turkey.

According to the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development, only 30 percent of Turkish women have paid work. Since it was founded, KEDV has supported thousands of women in developing their small businesses and leadership skills to enhance the country's workforce.

Nathan Podsakoff, an associate professor in Eller's Department of Management and Organizations, said many of the students were inspired by their visit to KEDV. After returning to the U.S., he posed a challenge for them to donate funds to the organization, saying he would match donations, dollar for dollar, up to $500.

In the end, the students donated $959, and Podsakoff decided to increase his matching limit.

"The evening MBA students crushed my expectations in a very positive way," Podsakoff said. "As a result, $2,000 has been collected and will be sent to help this very worthy organization fund more micro-loans for women-owned businesses."

Podsakoff said that once the micro-loans are made, KEDV will send profiles of the businesses that have been helped so that the students will know how their donation was put to work in Turkey.

"I think we ... should help them (KEDV) in their mission," Podsakoff said.

Kelly Raach is one of the students who went on the trip and attended the business visit to KEDV. She said she found the work being done by the organization motivational.

"Being able to learn how this nonprofit organization is able to overcome cultural obstacles to enable women to innovate and sustain gives rise to the important work being done — to change lives," Raach said. "Turkey was by far one of the most interesting places that I have been able to visit, and to see the work being done by KEDV was truly inspirational."

Categories: Teaching and StudentsThis is a Wildcat Corner feature: Images: Byline: University Relations - Communications |UANow Image: Editor: dougcarrollInclude in UANow: 0Date of Publication: Wednesday, May 27, 2015Medium Summary: The organization helps women via mentoring, business education and micro-loans for entrepreneurial ventures.Feature on Front: NoShort Summary: The organization helps women via mentoring, business education and micro-loans for entrepreneurial ventures.Send to Never Settle Site: 0UA in the News Spotlight: Includes video: 

Strengthening Higher-Ed Ties Between US, India

Tue, 05/26/2015 - 12:50pm

With one of the fastest-growing economies and the second-largest population in the world, India represents major collaborative opportunities for Arizona, says Mike Proctor, the University of Arizona's vice president for global initiatives.

"You can't ignore places like India," he said. "It's an incredible, dynamic place. And we have to think through a more comprehensive relationship structure."

Proctor made his first visit to the country in March as part of the Fulbright program. Fulbright Scholarships allow students, faculty and staff to travel to other countries to participate in a variety of education-related activities.

Proctor's Fulbright visit was facilitated by the United States-India Educational Foundation, an organization that works to promote mutual understanding between India and the U.S. through educational exchanges of scholars, professionals and students.

While in India, Proctor met with higher-education leaders throughout the country, traveling to Delhi, Chennai and Kolkata. He visited with representatives from the University of Delhi, Stella Maris College, O P Jindal Global University, and many other private and public institutions to learn about the strengths and challenges of India's higher-education system.

"So many of the critical needs and central challenges that they're facing align with strengths of our institution, from higher-education administration to water to linguistics and public health," Proctor said. "There's a huge need to provide access to higher education to a really large number of people. How do they solve that, and how do we help contribute to that solution?"

Proctor said his visit clarified several ways in which the UA could help advance higher-education initiatives in India. For example, he said the UA could lend its expertise in the country's development of a new technical university and new accreditation standards for state-funded universities. He added that a collaborative service-learning program in which U.S. students could travel to India to work in communities alongside local college students could be developed.

India is often cited by business and industry leaders as one of the world's strongest emerging markets and is one of the BRICS countries — Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa — distinguished by large, fast-growing economies. Proctor said this is just one of the many reasons the U.S. should explore potential collaborative opportunities with the country.

"There were some really fascinating things going on at some of the universities," he said. "We can learn a lot from India."

Proctor said that the UA Office of Global Initiatives is working to develop long-term strategies to maintain relationships with various countries around the world, including India.

"One of the key things is, we have to figure out how to be more effectively and sustainably engaged in some of these critical regions," Proctor said.

"We have a lot of collaborations across campus that are very organic," he said. "Some of them are very strong. And there's no architecture to that, which is fine. But those relationships wax and wane with funding and the interest of faculty. Part of what we're trying to do with multiple regions is build an architecture around a set of relationships, so there is some continuity."

Beyond student recruitment, Proctor said these relationships allow the UA to both develop and share its expertise in water, food security, public health and cultural interaction. In turn, the state benefits from shared learning experiences that result from international partnerships.

"The UA is a hub in a global knowledge network, and the things that we're good at are the things that are important to the rest of the world right now," Proctor said. "Is there a deeper experience that can be drawn from working more closely with other countries? That answer is always yes."

Editor: dougcarrollByline: Amanda BallardByline Affiliation: University Relations - CommunicationsExtra Info: 

UA students and employees can learn more about Fulbright opportunities by visiting the University's Fulbright Portal at


Header image: YesNo Image: Subheading: Mike Proctor, the UA's vice president for global initiatives, recently met with higher-education leaders throughout India during a visit facilitated by the United States-India Educational Foundation.Include in UANow: yesInclude in Olympic Coverage: noFeature on Olympic Page: noUANow Image: Includes video: 

UA Poverty Field Workshop Presents Findings

Fri, 05/22/2015 - 3:24pm

More than 100 community members, city officials and nonprofit organizers turned out recently to hear University of Arizona students from the Poverty in Tucson Field Workshop present the results of their semester-long efforts to collect data from low-income households across Tucson.

The Poverty in Tucson Field Workshop is a partnership involving the UA College of Social and Behavioral Sciences, the Mayor’s Commission on Poverty, and local nonprofits such as Habitat for Humanity Tucson, the Community Foundation for Southern Arizona and the Community Food Bank of Southern Arizona. The results were presented at a community forum at Habitat for Humanity.

"Tucson has a high and unfortunately persistent problem with poverty, with about 25 percent of our city population living below the poverty threshold," said Brian Mayer, associate professor in the UA School of Sociology, who teaches the workshop course along with sociology graduate student Julia Smith. Mayer is also a fellow in the Agnese Nelms Haury Program in Environment and Social Justice.

"Even though we know (about the problem), we wanted to learn more about what the lives were like of low-income Tucsonans," Mayer said. "How are these households coping and what strategies are they using?"

Over seven weeks, the students knocked on 2,000 doors and completed 257 surveys in eight neighborhoods designated by the census as having high poverty rates. More than half their sample lived in "extreme poverty," which means an income of less than half the poverty threshold.

During the forum, Mayer gave a short summary presentation, and groups of students explained posters representing their findings. (Posters can be viewed here.)

"A lot of the people in our sample were working full time or part time. Also, a large number were fairly well educated," Mayer said. "One thing we talked about in class was the myth of the unemployed welfare recipient, that most people are just at home living off the government."

The leading source of struggle for respondents was housing costs.

"When we asked people to prioritize their expenses, if No. 1 was rent, food was very rarely in the top five," Mayer said. "It says we are doing a pretty good job with food assistance."

Even so, about one-third of the extreme poor were regularly skipping meals.

Several students commented about how impressed they were by the resourcefulness of the people with whom they spoke.

"I was surprised by how resilient people were," said Sarah Schwartz, a student in care, health and society and in nutritional sciences. "People were really struggling, but they were happy and doing what they could."

The percentage of interviewees who were not using government or charitable assistance was one of the biggest surprises for the group. Almost 25 percent of those living in extreme poverty did not use government assistance. The main government support used by respondents was SNAP, or Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program.

Among the extreme poor, more than half reported never receiving any type of nonprofit or charitable funding.

"Most weren’t using them because they weren’t aware of them," said Brandon Peacock, a student in the class. "When we gave them the information sheet, they were seeing the names of these organizations for the first time. We saw a very low percentage of people who had attempted to get help from a nonprofit organization and were turned away."

Mayer said the plan is to interview the same households next year, and he invited local nonprofits to add their names to the service provider list and to help him craft future questions.

In addition to helping collect data that can be used to improve the lives of the poor, the Poverty in Tucson Field Workshop is part of the UA’s commitment to the goal of 100% Engagement.

"I liked that we actually received hands-on experience," said Chantelle Figueroa, a sociology and psychology major. "It wasn’t just sitting in the classroom. We were able to talk to people."

Editor: dougcarrollByline: Lori HarwoodByline Affiliation: UA College of Social and Behavioral SciencesHeader image: YesNo Image: Subheading: Many in the sample of eight high-poverty Tucson neighborhoods were employed, and the leading source of struggle was the cost of housing.Include in UANow: yesInclude in Olympic Coverage: noFeature on Olympic Page: noUANow Image: Includes video: 

UA to Host Latino Group's Summit

Thu, 05/21/2015 - 1:06pm

Latinos in Heritage Conservation, a new group aimed at promoting Latino leadership and engagement in historic preservation, will hold its inaugural national summit on Friday and Saturday at the University of Arizona.

The gathering will bring together more than 60 preservationists, scholars and community advocates from across the country to discuss key issues in the field and set the course for the budding organization. The purpose of the event, which will take place on the UA campus and at the Pima County Housing Center, is to establish a clear vision to advance efforts to recognize, protect and support Latino cultural heritage in communities throughout the country.

The summit will open with a roundtable discussion moderated by renowned Chicana historian Antonia Castañeda about the state of Latino heritage conservation in the United States. Additional speakers include: Yolanda Chavez Leyva, Museo Urbano, University of Texas, El Paso; Sarah Gould, Institute of Texan Cultures and the Westside Preservation Alliance (San Antonio); Lydia Otero, UA Department of Mexican American Studies; Julianne Polanco, Lend Lease and the California State Historical Resources Commission; Raymond Rast, Department of History at Gonzaga University and American Latino Scholars Expert Panel; Daniel Serda, inSITE (Kansas City); and Edward Torrez, BauerLatoza (Chicago).

Members of the Latinos in Heritage Conservation organizing committee will present a draft mission, vision and goals for the organization. Maribel Alvarez of the Southwest Center at the UA will guide summit participants through a series of sessions to help determine organizational priorities for the next three to five years.

On Saturday, Otero and Marc David Pinate, executive director of the Tucson-based Borderlands Theater, will present a lunch keynote. They will share information about a new place-based play produced by Borderlands, titled "Barrio Monologues." The production is based on Otero’s book, "La Calle: Spatial Conflicts and Urban Renewal in a Southwest City."

Summit attendees will have the opportunity to visit and learn about Tucson’s Latino heritage during a guided tour of Barrio Viejo, including a stop at El Tiradito Wishing Shrine, and Mission San Xavier del Bac.

Local sponsors and partners include the Tucson Historic Preservation Foundation; the Drachman Institute and the Graduate Certificate Program in Heritage Conservation of the UA's College of Architecture, Planning and Landscape Architecture; and the Pima County Housing Center.

Editor: dougcarrollByline Affiliation: University Relations — CommunicationsExtra Info: 

For more information about Latinos in Heritage Conservation, visit

Header image: YesNo Image: Subheading: The two-day gathering will convene preservationists, scholars and community advocates from across the country for a discussion of heritage issues.Include in UANow: 0Include in Olympic Coverage: noFeature on Olympic Page: noIncludes video: 

Giant Mirror Presents a Unique, Oversize Load

Wed, 05/20/2015 - 4:54pm

The only telescope mirror ever made that combines two mirrors in one piece of glass left the University of Arizona's Richard F. Caris Mirror Lab on Monday, where it had spent the past seven years in various stages of production.

At 7 a.m., the lab's hangar-like gates slid open and made way for the 27-foot mirror, tucked away inside a custom-made steel crate, suspended from a crane. Over the course of an hour, employees of the Phoenix-based company Precision Heavy Haul lowered the crate and mirror, with a combined weight of 56 tons, onto a flatbed trailer-truck that would haul the $20 million payload to a storage facility close to the Tucson airport in the wee hours of the next morning.

The mirror will form the centerpiece of the Large Synoptic Survey Telescope, or LSST, a revolutionary observatory slated to go up in Cerro Pachón in Chile. After the National Foundation approved funding for the LSST last year, the telescope will see first light in 2019 and begin full science operations in 2022.

The LSST is designed to scan large swaths of night sky quickly and repeatedly to capture what astronomers call "variables," which are exploding stars, passing asteroids and other highly variable, dynamic or short-lived phenomena in the universe. Equipped with a 3-billion-pixel digital camera — the largest to date — the LSST will provide time-lapse digital imaging of faint astronomical objects across the entire sky, promising a deep and changing view of the cosmos.

In the past, people looked at the heavens as something that never changed, hence the name "firmament," explained Dennis Zaritsky, deputy director of the UA's Department of Astronomy and Steward Observatory.

"Now we know that the LSST will discover millions of variable objects and cosmic events every single night," he said. "Some are stars that get brighter and dimmer. Others will be new things that we don't even know about yet — in the thousands — and we'll have to figure out how to decide which ones to go after."

One such program, ANTARES, is currently underway. In a joint effort between the UA's Department of Computer Science and the National Optical Astronomy Observatory, scientists are developing computer algorithms capable of monitoring the flood of incoming data, flagging events and observations that could be of special interest to astronomers.

"The LSST touches on a wide range of fields, not just astronomy," Zaritsky said. "It will enable us to do completely new astronomy, new computer science and new data science."

The data generated by the LSST will be made publicly available, allowing professional and amateur astronomers to quickly follow up on discoveries made by the scanning telescope with other instruments for more detailed study. UA astronomers have an edge over colleagues elsewhere in the world because they have access to other telescopes, such as the Large Binocular Telescope in southeastern Arizona and planned new ones such as the Giant Magellan Telescope that will enable them to follow up the most interesting discoveries from the LSST.

The LSST mirror is expected to remain in storage for about two years before it will be sent on its journey to Chile. To protect the one-of-a-kind dish against bumps during transport, it is mounted to an inner frame that is connected to the outer crate through "air springs," which resemble glorified tires, and other shock absorbers.

Cast in 2007, the LSST mirror is the latest of 18 large mirrors produced by the UA's lab. The mirror consists of a specially formulated and extremely pure variety of borosilicate glass, which — similar to the familiar Pyrex glassware of household use — stands out for its resistance against swings in temperature. Because of their special honeycomb design developed by UA Regents' Professor and Mirror Lab director Roger Angel, the UA's mirrors can be extremely lightweight relative to their large size. This allows for smaller and more lightweight supporting structures, keeping down the construction and operating costs of the observatories in which they work. 

Zaritsky is convinced that the LSST will revolutionize the way we look at the sky.

"There are a few programs that use small telescopes to find variables, but those don't cover the whole sky and they don't operate as systematically as the LSST will, all night long and all the time," he said. "With the LSST, we will be able to do truly systematic, comprehensive studies of those phenomena on scales from seconds to decades. There is nothing else like that."

Editor: dougcarrollWriter: Daniel StolteByline: Daniel StolteByline Affiliation: University Relations – CommunicationsHeader image: YesNo Image: Subheading: After years of polishing to perfection, the mirror slated to form the heart of the Large Synaptic Survey Telescope, expected to revolutionize our view of the cosmos as a place of constant change, has left the UA's Richard F. Caris Mirror Lab.Include in UANow: yesInclude in Olympic Coverage: noFeature on Olympic Page: noUANow Image: Includes video: The story include video

Program Builds Resiliency in Veterans

Wed, 05/20/2015 - 4:10pm
Date of Publication: Thursday, May 21, 2015

Graduate Fellows Receive Thousands in Funds

Wed, 05/20/2015 - 11:59am

Nine University of Arizona students representing the fine arts, humanities, and social and behavioral sciences have been named Graduate Fellows.

In its fifth year of advancing interdisciplinary research, the UA Confluencenter for Creative Inquiry has awarded the students a total of nearly $45,000 for the 2015-2016 academic year.

"In almost five years, the Confluencenter has become a superconnector: a force in bringing people and ideas together," Javier Durán, director of the Confluencenter, said during a joint presentation of the Graduate Fellowships and Faculty Collaboration Grant awards.

"The creative research, collaboration, interdisciplinary inquiry and community engagement projects that we support are changing the academic landscape at the University of Arizona," Durán said. "It is an honor and a privilege as director to witness and facilitate the research efforts of my colleagues as they dispel the myth of the rigid, siloed institution."

The center also unveiled the 2015 Arizona Journal of Interdisciplinary Studies, which bridges the arts, social sciences, humanities and science through the showcase of students' interdisciplinary work.

Among the fellows are Anabel Galindo, a doctoral student in the Department of History, who is mapping the historical movement patterns and settlements that Yaquis have followed since the last decades of the Spanish rule and into the mid-20th century. Her project is titled "Mapping Yaqui History: Mobility, Labor and Identity."

Christina Greene, a doctoral student in the UA School of Geography and Development, explores the physical and social dimensions of drought through the words and images of people living and working in drought-impacted central California. Greene's project, "Drought, Livelihoods and the Food System: Exploring Drought Narratives in California," uses Web-based storytelling to share new perspectives about drought impact and relief.

And in the School of Anthropology, doctoral student Angela Storey traces how residents of informal settlements narrate their struggles to secure access to basic services. Storey's project, "Everyday Infrastructure: Documenting Struggles for Water, Sanitation and Electricity in Cape Town's Informal Settlements," highlights the experiences of people trying to secure basic necessities.

Other fellows, and their projects, are:

Gabriel Higuera, a doctoral student of Mexican American Studies, is organizing an interdisciplinary, multi-institutional event: the "UA High School Student Symposium on Ethnic Studies."

Carolina Kitagawa, through "Como 8 Horas," is composing a time-based performance art piece that examines underrepresented voices in Tucson and Los Angeles. Kitagawa is a Master of Fine Arts student.

William White is a doctoral student in anthropology and his project, "Archaeology at the Confluence of Race: The River Street Public Archaeology Program," explores the remains of a working-class, interracial neighborhood in Boise, Idaho.

Jeffrey Wilson, a doctoral student of geography and development, is creating "Geography and the Graphic Novel," which explores the experiences of Detroit residents battling Type 2 diabetes and housing insecurity.

Christopher Yutzy, a doctoral student in anthropology, has created a communications nexus involving a magazine, "Revista PROVOZ," a website for digital content and also WhatsApp groups. The resources enable residents of the Grande Bom Jardim slum in Brazil to share information and establish avenues for free speech. Yutzy's project is titled "Improving Information Access in Urban Slums: Social Technology as a Practical Alternative to Clientelism."

Manuel Martín Barros and Joaquin Perez-Blanes, doctoral students of Spanish and Portuguese, will visually and textually narrate the experiences of migrants crossing the U.S.-Mexico border and the role amulets have played in their journeys. While the migrants' identities remain anonymous, an examination of objects they carried for good luck will be exhibited to build a better understanding of how migrants maintained hope in their crossings.

Editor: dougcarrollByline Affiliation: University Relations - CommunicationsHeader image: YesNo Image: Subheading: The UA Confluencenter for Creative Inquiry is funding several Graduate Fellowships during the 2015-2016 academic year. Include in UANow: yesInclude in Olympic Coverage: noFeature on Olympic Page: noUANow Image: Includes video: 

Polishing Off a Mirror

Tue, 05/19/2015 - 5:47pm

The only telescope mirror ever made that combines two mirrors in one piece of glass departed the University of Arizona's Richard F. Caris Mirror Lab on May 18 after spending seven years in various stages of production.

The mirror will form the centerpiece of the Large Synoptic Survey Telescope, or LSST, a revolutionary observatory slated to go up in Cerro Pachón in Chile. After the National Foundation approved funding for the LSST last year, the telescope will see first light in 2019 and begin full science operations in 2022.

The LSST mirror is expected to remain in storage for about two years before it will be sent on its journey to Chile. To protect the one-of-a-kind dish against bumps during transport, it was mounted to an inner frame connected to an outer crate through "air springs," which resemble glorified tires, and other shock absorbers.

Video Thumbnail: Category(s): Science and TechnologyYouTube Video:  LSST Mirror Transport Video of LSST Mirror Transport Feature Sticky: OffFeature on Front: NoMedium Summary: It's no small triumph shipping a 20-ton telescope mirror, which recently was completed at the UA's Richard F. Caris Mirror Lab and loaded for transport. See how it was done.UANow Image: Date of Publication: Wednesday, May 27, 2015Send to Never Settle Site: 0Includes video: The story include video

New Insights Into Drivers of Earth's Ecosystems

Tue, 05/19/2015 - 5:11pm

Hidden among Earth's vast oceans are some of the most vital organisms to the health of delicate ecosystems. Tiny ocean microbes produce half of the oxygen we breathe, and they are important drivers in chemical reactions and energy transfers that fuel critical ecological processes.

Much like other organisms, marine microbes are susceptible to viral infections that can alter their metabolic output, or even kill them. For example, certain ocean viruses invade algae and take control over the photosynthetic process, which replenishes the oxygen we breathe. Others simply kill off vast amounts of organisms, putting a cap on the biomass that can support food webs in the world's oceans.

A new study from an international team led by UA scientists Matthew Sullivan, Jennifer Brum, Simon Roux and Julio Cesar Ignacio Espinoza draws on viral genome data to explain how oceanic viral communities maintain high regional diversity on par with global diversity. The findings may help researchers to predictively model the virus-microbe interactions driving Earth's ecosystems.

The paper is one of five landmark studies borne from the Tara Oceans Expedition featured this week in a special issue of the journal Science. Sullivan is scheduled to discuss the work this week on the National Public Radio program "Science Friday."

"We established a means to study viral populations within more complex communities and found that surface ocean viruses were passively transported on currents and that population abundances were structured by local environmental conditions," said Sullivan, associate professor in the Department of Ecology and Evolutionary Biology and a member of the BIO5 Institute. The work was completed with the assistance of a Gordon and Betty Moore Foundation Investigator grant, a highly prestigious award given to researchers focused on environmental science and conservation.

Sullivan's work is part of the Tara Oceans Expedition, a global effort to understand complex interactions among ocean ecosystems, climate and biodiversity. For the past 10 years, the Tara Oceans research vessel has traversed more than 180,000 miles across all of the world's oceans, collecting biological samples and information about the oceans' physical parameters such as depth, temperature and salinity.

"The Tara Oceans expedition provided a platform for systematically sampling ocean biota from viruses to fish larvae, and in a comprehensive environmental context," Sullivan said. "Until now, a global picture of ocean viral community patterns and ecological drivers was something we could only dream of achieving."

To assess geographical diversity in marine viral communities, Sullivan and his team looked at double-stranded DNA viral genomic sequence data, or viromes, and whole viral community morphological data across 43 Tara Oceans expedition samples. The samples were globally distributed throughout the surface oceans (only one deep-sea sample) and represented diverse environmental conditions.

Specifically, Sullivan and his team were interested in the previous observation that the diversity of ocean viruses at any given site was as high as that observed globally. Such high local and low global diversity had been observed a decade ago, and scientists proposed a seed-bank hypothesis to explain it. This hypothesis suggests that high local genetic diversity can exist by drawing variation from a common and relatively limited global gene pool. Local-dominant communities consist of viruses that are influenced by environmental conditions, which affect their microbial hosts and indirectly alter the structure of the viral community. These communities serve as the low-abundance "bank" for neighboring locations, as they are passively transported by way of ocean currents.

Since viruses lack universal genes that could be used to identify global community patterns, Sullivan had to employ different techniques to study viral communities. The first approach involved looking at viral particles themselves, and comparing morphological characteristics such as capsid size and tail length.

"This is the low resolution way to do things — viruses that appear identical may have completely different genomes," Sullivan explained. "The fact that all viruses don't share a single common gene calls for some clever approaches to investigating viral diversity."

Next, the researchers cataloged viral populations in terms of the proteins they shared in common, in a process called protein clustering. This allowed them to establish core genes that were shared across the viral communities studied. Finally, Sullivan and his team looked at the distribution of viral populations, the majority of which had not been previously characterized, across all of the Tara Oceans sample sites.

When they investigated the distribution patterns, they found that the directionality of viral population flow closely corresponded to that of ocean currents, affirming the seed-bank hypothesis.

"Ocean virus-microbe interactions have a huge impact on global biogeochemistry," Sullivan said. "As they destroy microbial cells, they change the forms of nutrients available to other, larger organisms in ocean ecosystems. This recycling of nutrients through viral lysis is an important pathway that regulates how the oceanic ecosystem functions. Viral infections simultaneously reduce the amount of nutrients and materials available to larger organisms by killing microbial cells, but also stimulate microbial activity through the release of organic matter and nutrients, which provides increased biomass available for larger organisms including fish."

Sullivan's findings stem from key advances in methodology, including the ability to systematically collect biological samples on a global scale and pushing the analysis of marine viral characteristics into the realm of the quantitative.

"Up until recently, the methods used to study virus-microbe interactions were often qualitative," Sullivan said. "With this study, we have made great quantitative advances. The goal now is to determine how our quantitative estimates can be used to build predictive models."

Sullivan emphasized the uniqueness and importance of working with the Tara Oceans team.

"This is an incredible new way of doing science," he said. "At Tara Oceans, we are united by a common goal rather than a common funding source. These first papers show the world that we're capable of doing science at this scale, and yet they represent just the tip of the iceberg of what is hidden in these vast data sets. We've got years of work ahead of us."

Sullivan and his lab also contributed to three other papers in the special issue. Those three papers explore the global ocean microbiome and plankton interaction networks, as well as how plankton communities change across a key ocean circulation choke point off South Africa.

Editor: dougcarrollWriter: Raymond SanchezByline: Raymond SanchezByline Affiliation: NASA Space Grant Intern, University Relations – CommunicationsHeader image: YesNo Image: Subheading: A UA-led international team has uncovered new information about the ways marine viruses and microbes interact on a global scale.Include in UANow: yesInclude in Olympic Coverage: noFeature on Olympic Page: noIncludes video: 

Go Backstage at Commencement

Mon, 05/18/2015 - 7:01pm

There's nothing quite like the way the UA does Commencement, and UANews videographer Bob Demers distills the best of the big day into three minutes of fun and fireworks at Arizona Stadium.

Video Thumbnail: Category(s): Campus NewsYouTube Video:  UA 2015 Commencement Video of UA 2015 Commencement Feature Sticky: OffFeature on Front: NoMedium Summary: In case you missed the festivities, and even if you didn't, we went behind the scenes at Arizona Stadium to capture the setup, the show and (of course) the pyro.UANow Image: Date of Publication: Monday, May 18, 2015Send to Never Settle Site: 0Includes video: The story include video

Graduation a Major Milestone for NFL Player

Mon, 05/18/2015 - 3:11pm

It’s a long way from the streets of Houston to the Grand Ballroom of the Student Union Memorial Center at the University of Arizona, but Earl Mitchell prepared for the trip.

He prepared for it back when he played school in the summer with his older sister, using textbooks from their real school. She was the "teacher" and their grandmother was the "principal."

He prepared for it in return visits to the UA campus long after his time as a football player for the Wildcats had ended. There was unfinished business — six classes toward a degree in social behavior and human understanding — and he is the type who sees things through to completion.

And he prepared for it in one small but significant way, buying a frame for a diploma and a graduation photo that would sit empty in his home, a constant reminder of his final destination.

Mitchell crossed his own goal line last week to the surprise of no one who knows him, walking across the stage at Thursday night’s convocation for the UA’s Colleges of Letters, Arts and Science before a capacity ballroom crowd. He also participated in Saturday night’s Commencement at Arizona Stadium.

With his muscular, 310-pound athlete’s body shrouded by a blue gown, he blended in with the rest of the graduates and received relatively little fanfare — which is just the way he likes it.

"He’s really, really regular," says his sister, Sekeyla Watts, on hand to witness her little brother’s big occasion along with their mother, Lisa Mitchell.  "It comes from us. We’re a plain family. Simple people."

There’s nothing plain, however, about the line of work Earl Mitchell is in. This fall, he will begin a sixth season of collision-filled Sunday afternoons in the National Football League — high-risk, physically demanding labor for which the Miami Dolphins are compensating him well at the age of 27. He was excused from the team’s offseason workouts to attend graduation.

Mitchell, a defensive tackle who began at the UA as a tight end, signed a four-year, $16 million contract with the Dolphins a little more than a year ago, with $9 million of it guaranteed. After being selected in the third round of the 2010 player draft, his first four seasons in the league were with his hometown Houston Texans.

Two Ambitions in Mind

It’s safe to say that he has one of the highest-paying jobs in the Class of 2015. But Mitchell insists he came to the UA out of high school with no designs on a pro career, wanting only to play major-college football and earn his degree. He says he never envisioned doing one without the other.

Although he was a co-captain of the 2009 team as a senior, his sincerity won people over long before that.

"Earl is one of those guys everyone has been rooting for since he got here," says Marisol Quiroz, who has seen 12 years’ worth of student-athletes come and go at the UA as a learning specialist and assistant director for CATS Academics.

"In our office, everyone is so excited for him. He’s the same guy he was as a freshman. He’s humble, grounded and hardworking. He’s respectful of everyone, and he’s appreciative of those who worked with him. He’s grateful for this."

Before the second semester of his senior year at the UA, Mitchell made what he describes as one of the hardest decisions of his life, leaving school to begin training full time in preparation for the NFL Draft. He was "on a roll" with his studies, he says, and it wasn’t easy to walk away.

He knew even then that many players in those circumstances never return to college to finish their coursework. He resolved to be one who did, no matter how challenging and inconvenient it might be for him.

"The very first time I came back (on campus), that’s when I realized how tough it is," Mitchell says. "You don’t have the academic tutors like you used to. You don’t have the services you had as a student-athlete, and you have to push yourself to do well in your courses."

From his childhood in Houston, he was familiar with tough. At the age of 10, he and a cousin were witness to the robbery of a store.

"It was tough in our neighborhood," Lisa Mitchell says. "Ever since then, he said, 'I’m going to do better than that.'"

Then, at 14, he lost his 77-year-old grandmother, Narnie Mitchell, to heart failure. She was the one who was certain from the size of little Earl’s hands that someday he would be a football player, and she presciently sewed an NFL quilt for him. The two of them were very close.

"She just wanted me to be successful, that's the only thing she ever preached to me, just to be a man," Earl says. "That's how I try to approach every situation. I try to take ownership and make sure I do everything the right way.

"She was an amazing woman, and she's a lot of the reason I am the way that I am."

Learning to Keep Going

His mother was no slouch as an encourager, either. Lisa recalls a youth league football game in which Earl had taken an especially hard hit.

"He just laid there on the bench," she says, "and I asked him, 'You still want to play football?' He didn’t say anything. He just laid there. Then he jumped back up and ran out on the field."

There will come a time when he won’t go out on the field anymore, and Earl Mitchell knows this. Already, his preparation for that day has begun.

"Everyone says the NFL stands for Not For Long," he says. "So you want to make sure that you have something you can rely on and say that you accomplished when the game is done. When you get the opportunity to get your degree, you should take advantage of it.

"I wanted my younger family members to see this. There are a lot of players in the league right now who are constantly thinking, 'Should I finish or not finish?' I kind of wanted to encourage them, too.

"It was definitely worth it. It always was a dream of mine to graduate with a college degree."

Editor: dougcarrollByline: Doug CarrollByline Affiliation: University Relations - CommunicationsHeader image: YesNo Image: Subheading: More than five years after leaving the UA, Earl Mitchell returned to campus with his mother and sister for Commencement, celebrating the completion of a longtime goal.Include in UANow: yesInclude in Olympic Coverage: noFeature on Olympic Page: noUANow Image: Includes video: 

A Celebratory Night for Graduates

Mon, 05/18/2015 - 1:22pm
Date of Publication: Monday, May 18, 2015

UA Poll: Arizonans Concerned About Global Warming

Mon, 05/18/2015 - 12:58pm

A large majority of Arizona residents believes the world’s temperature has been rising and that global warming will be a serious problem for the nation if nothing is done to curb it, according to a survey conducted by the University of Arizona’s Institute of the Environment and Stanford University.

The survey also found that more than 70 percent of Arizonans support government action to reduce global warming, and a majority of state residents believes people are at least partly to blame for the planet’s warmer temperatures. 

"The survey findings show that the people of Arizona are aware of and interested in climate change and that they understand there are policy decisions that can be made to address it," said Jonathan Overpeck, co-director of the Institute of the Environment and a co-author of the survey.

According to the poll, more than half of Arizonans believe global warming has caused more droughts and storms around the world, and more forest fires and heatwaves in the state.

The survey of 803 adult Arizona residents was conducted by telephone in November and December 2014 by the independent polling company Abt SRBI to better understand Arizonans’ views on climate change and how those views vary depending on age, gender, ethnicity and political affiliation. The goal, the researchers said, is to use the information to better tailor UA research and outreach to the concerns and needs of Arizona residents.

"There have been quite a few national surveys on climate change, but their samples have been too general to provide detailed results on attitudes within Arizona," said Diana Liverman, who also co-directs the Institute of the Environment and co-wrote the survey with Jon Krosnick, professor of communication, political science and psychology at Stanford University and an expert on such surveys.

"We were able to ask questions specifically relevant to Arizona to examine responses from different groups within the state, and we provided the option to respond in English or Spanish," Liverman said.

The survey shows that Arizonans’ views on global warming generally are not substantially different from those of the rest of the nation, although state residents are more concerned than the American public that the impact of climate change will hurt them personally.

"As a scientist and extension specialist who is asked to give many talks to Arizonans on the topic of climate, I have wondered what they know and think about the issues," said Gregg Garfin, deputy director for science translation and outreach at the institute. "This survey shows the majority of Arizonans seem to be concerned about climate change, which is pretty much in line with the majority of U.S. residents."

Most Arizona residents believe action by the state to reduce global warming will help the state economy or have no effect, and 23 percent believe it will hurt it. An overwhelming majority of Arizonans favor the federal government giving companies tax breaks to produce more electricity from renewable sources such as water, wind and solar power.

"The University of Arizona has done a great service by using the science of survey research to give state residents an opportunity to express their beliefs about what has been happening to the Earth and what they want government to do and not do on this issue," Krosnick said.

There are some significant differences in views among different populations in Arizona. Compared to other ethnic groups, Hispanics are more concerned about the impact of global warming, and they more heavily favor policies such as cap and trade and government action to limit emissions. More women than men support government action to prepare for the effects of global warming, and 97 percent of young adults (ages 18 to 35) support government laws or tax incentives to reduce power-plant emissions.

More agreement was found across political parties than might be expected. Democrats and independents (82 percent and 76 percent) are more likely than Republicans (59 percent) to believe the Earth’s temperature has been going up over the last century.

In addition, 91 percent of Democrats, 75 percent of independents and 59 percent of Republicans believe the federal government should limit greenhouse gas emissions from U.S. businesses, and they express similar views about whether the Arizona government should limit greenhouse gas emissions from state businesses.

For more information, go to

Editor: dougcarrollByline: Stephanie DosterByline Affiliation: UA Institute of the EnvironmentHeader image: YesNo Image: Subheading: Results of independent survey will be used to tailor UA research and outreach to the concerns and needs of the state's residents.Include in UANow: yesInclude in Olympic Coverage: noFeature on Olympic Page: noUANow Image: Includes video: 

Class of 2015, You Will Be Missed

Mon, 05/18/2015 - 11:28am
Date of Publication: Monday, May 18, 2015

Commencement Was a Family Affair

Mon, 05/18/2015 - 11:17am

There are countless proud moments in a parent's life.

From a child's first steps to the first day of school and beyond, these moments compose the richly rewarding experience of parenthood.

On Saturday, the families of more than 5,600 University of Arizona students celebrated another major milestone at the University's 151st Commencement. Thousands of families gathered from near and far to honor the new graduates and help them commemorate their accomplishments.

"There are a lot of beaming moms and dads and grandparents in the audience," said keynote speaker Jon Huntsman Jr. during his speech. Huntsman is the former Utah governor who now runs a nonpartisan organization, No Labels, which works to address the country's most pressing problems.

He also is a father to seven children and said he understands the love, support and pride associated with being a parent. To the family members in the audience, Huntsman said, "It's your day, too."

"It's days like today when you see your child growing into the person you always hoped they'd become that make it all worthwhile," he said.

About 30,000 people attended the festivities, filling the stands in Arizona Stadium to cheer on the graduates.

Although they were born three years apart, brothers Christopher Real and Stephen Real both graduated from the UA on Saturday. Christopher earned a degree in journalism, Stephen a degree in history. Their family, including a grandfather who came from California to attend Commencement, was excited to help the brothers celebrate.

"I'm just very proud," said their mom, Cindy. "I think that's what makes this so special — seeing them both graduate together."

Nathaniel Hamilton, who graduated from the College of Social and Behavioral Sciences with a degree in public administration, had several members of his family fly to Tucson from the East Coast to celebrate.

"We're just a proud family from Maryland," said his mother, Tracey Gray.

Hamilton's father, Levent Gray, said he was proud to see his son's dedication to his schoolwork pay off, calling the occasion "phenomenal."

Yvonne Ng's mother said she was happy for her daughter, who graduated with honors from the College of Pharmacy.

"It's one of the biggest accomplishments in her life," she said. "I'm very proud."

Alexandra Caplan's family also was excited to see her put on a cap and gown to receive degrees in physiology and Middle Eastern studies from the UA.

"It's just wonderful," said her mom, Leslie. "Especially after seeing her put in four years of a lot of hard work — a lot of blood, sweat and tears."

Caplan's father, David, added that he is pleased his daughter will be a Wildcat for life.

"We're very proud of her," he said. "We think she made a great decision to come to the UA."

Photos by John de Dios/UANews

Categories: Campus NewsThis is a Wildcat Corner feature: Images: Tags: Student LifeStudentsAlumniByline: Amanda Ballard |UANow Image: Editor: dougcarrollInclude in UANow: yesDate of Publication: Monday, May 18, 2015Medium Summary: Families came from near and far to celebrate with the new graduates, using words such as "special," "phenomenal" and "wonderful" to describe the occasion.Feature on Front: YesShort Summary: Families came from near and far to honor the new graduates at the UA's 151st Commencement.Send to Never Settle Site: 0UA in the News Spotlight: Includes video: 

UA's Miller to Coach U19 Team for US

Thu, 05/14/2015 - 12:39pm

Sean Miller, the head coach for men’s basketball at the University of Arizona, has been selected as head coach of the 2015 USA men’s U19 team.

Miller replaces previously announced USA U19 head coach Billy Donovan, who withdrew after accepting the head coaching position with the NBA’s Oklahoma City Thunder. Miller’s assistant coaches will be Providence head coach Ed Cooley and Miller’s brother, Archie Miller, head coach at Dayton and a former UA associate head coach. 

The USA will defend its gold medal at the U19 World Championships, which will be held June 27 through July 5 in Greece.

Sean Miller and Cooley were on the U.S. sideline as assistant coaches at the 2014 Americas U18 Championships, where the USA qualified for the 2015 U19 World Championships. USA Basketball has age-group teams at 16, 17, 18 and 19, in addition to the national team of NBA players that competes in international competition including the Olympic Games.

"The appointments of Sean Miller, Ed Cooley and Archie Miller to lead the USA Basketball men’s U19 team gives that group of players three of the most successful teachers in college basketball," Jim Boeheim, chair of the USA Basketball Junior National Team Committee, said in an announcement about the appointments. "All three coaches have taken their respective programs to an elite level, and now they will combine their talents to have the U19 group prepared for a gold-medal run."

In 11 seasons as a college head coach, Sean Miller has compiled a 283-99 career record for a .741 winning percentage. In six seasons at the helm of the UA program, he has posted a record of 163-52, including 79-29 in Pac-12 Conference play.

In 2014-15, Arizona finished 34-4, winning the second-most games in program history, and captured Pac-12 regular-season and tournament titles en route to a second successive NCAA Elite Eight appearance — a feat accomplished only once before in program history.

Prior to the UA, Miller spent five seasons as head coach at Xavier. He also was part of USA Basketball as a player. As a member of the 1991 World University Games team, he averaged 5.3 points and 2.5 assists per game in winning a gold medal.

"I am honored to be named head coach of the USA men’s U19 team," Miller said. "It is exciting to be coaching such a talented group of young players, as well as working alongside a great coaching staff. I look forward to the responsibility and challenges that lie ahead in our journey to win the gold medal at the 2015 U19 World Championships."

Editor: dougcarrollByline Affiliation: University Relations - CommunicationsHeader image: YesNo Image: Subheading: USA Basketball's team will defend its gold medal at the World Championships this summer in Greece.Include in UANow: 0Include in Olympic Coverage: noFeature on Olympic Page: noUANow Image: Includes video: 

Video Highlights UA-Led Research on Human Evolution, Climate

Wed, 05/13/2015 - 8:22pm

A new documentary provides insight into how ancient climate affected human evolution. The video, available on YouTube, focuses on the research conducted by the University of Arizona-led Hominin Sites and Paleolakes Drilling Project, an international collaboration of geologists, anthropologists and climate scientists.

UA Distinguished Professor of Geosciences Andrew Cohen and his colleagues have been studying the connections between climate and human evolution in Africa’s Rift Valley for more than a decade.

"Of the more than 10 species of hominins that have existed on Earth, all have gone extinct except ourselves," said Cohen, director of the project. "Some of these extinctions may have been due to climate change, and this may have important implications for the future of our own species."

More than 100 scientists from 11 countries are part of this unprecedented project to understand the environmental context of human origins, he said.

"A Human Climate," the documentary made in 3-D by Earth Images Foundation, tracks the scientists as they investigate the climate that prevailed when key hominin fossils such as Lucy and Turkana Boy were alive. Hominins are the group of organisms that includes humans and our fossil near-relatives and ancestors.

The researchers extracted sediment from dry lake beds near important ancient hominin fossil and archaeological sites in Kenya and Ethiopia.

Lake beds can supply a record of the past environment, because a variety of environmental materials, including pollen and animal remains, are deposited on the bottom of lakes year after year. 

To obtain ancient sediment from the depths of dry lake beds, the scientists used a drill rig that collected continuous sediment cores in 10-foot segments, from as deep as 940 feet below the Earth’s surface. Some of the cores contain lake sediments as much as 3.5 million years old.

The scientists are using data from the sediment cores to reconstruct climate and ecological changes in eastern Africa.

The documentary, which features interviews with many of the researchers, shows the researchers drilling for sediment in Kenya and Ethiopia and also collecting hominin fossils near the drill sites.

By analyzing fossil pollen, charcoal and lake organisms in the cores, the team is reconstructing the ecosystems that early humans lived in and depended upon. UA geosciences faculty member Owen Davis and several UA graduate and undergraduate students are some of the researchers analyzing the cores.

"We’re just starting to analyze the drill cores," Cohen said. "We expect the drill cores are going to provide us with a lot of new information about African climate over the last 3.5 million years of human evolution."

In addition to the field team, the project includes researchers who can model the region’s paleoclimate and environment. The international modeling team, led by Joellen Russell, a UA associate professor of geosciences, also includes UA geosciences faculty members Jon Pelletier and Jianjun Yin.

The computer models will reveal the atmospheric and landscape processes underlying past environmental change in Africa and how the resources early humans relied on would have responded to those climate changes.

The researchers anticipate their findings will transform our understanding of how environmental and climate change affected the evolution of our ancestors and also have implications for humans today.

The National Science Foundation, National Environmental Research Council of the U.K., the International Continental Drilling Program and DFG (Germany Research Foundation) funded the research. 

Editor: dougcarrollByline: Alicia Saposnik and Mari N. JensenByline Affiliation: UA Department of Geosciences and UA College of ScienceExtra Info: 


"A Human Climate"

Documentary about the Hominin Sites and Paleolakes Drilling Project (HSPDP)


Hominin Sites and Paleolakes Drilling Project


Andrew Cohen


Earth Images Foundation

Header image: YesNo Image: Subheading: "A Human Climate," a 14-minute documentary about research in Africa's Rift Valley, can be seen on YouTube. The film was made in 3-D and will be shown at several museums in the U.S., Ethiopia and Kenya. Include in UANow: yesInclude in Olympic Coverage: noFeature on Olympic Page: noUANow Image: Includes video: 

Old Main Wins State, Regional Awards

Wed, 05/13/2015 - 6:03pm

The planning, design and construction team responsible for the most comprehensive renovation of Old Main in the building's history received four awards during May.

On May 15, the team was presented with a 2015 Governor's Heritage Preservation Award, which is granted in partnership by the Arizona State Historic Preservation Office and the Arizona State Parks in recognition of those that "represent outstanding achievements in preserving Arizona's prehistoric and historic resources."

"Whenever you produce a project, you always hope for the best and strive to complete all of the goals. Old Main is the oldest University building and an icon. To be honored is gratifying," said Rodney Mackey, associate director of Planning, Design and Construction at the UA.

"We wanted the building to be beautiful, and we wanted people to be proud of it," Mackey said. "All of that is demonstrated through these awards."

During the awards ceremony, which was held during the annual Arizona Historic Preservation Conference, it was announced that Old Main also had won the Grand Award.

"The beautiful restoration of Old Main has allowed it to reclaim its rightful place as the hub of the UA campus and as a source of pride to everyone in our community," said UA President Ann Weaver Hart. "Rodney Mackey, Corky Poster and the many other people who helped make their vision a reality richly deserve accolades for the building’s preservation and design."

Earlier in the month, the team received the Tucson-Pima County Historical Commission's Historic Preservation Award. The award recognized the team's exceptional work on the building's shell, exterior, verandas and central hallways. The commission praised the team's work in bringing the building to its original grandeur, while also incorporating 21st-century standards of energy efficiency.

Also, the Old Main project won a Design Build Award granted by the Design-Build Institute of America's Western Pacific region, which encompasses Arizona, California, Hawaii and Nevada. The team will be honored Thursday at a banquet to be held in Newport Beach, California.

"All members of the project team should be very proud to have been a part of such an exemplary project," the institute noted in its congratulatory letter.

Mackey also credited the work of Lorna Gray, who served as construction project manager for Planning, Design and Construction. 

"We partnered up from the very beginning to deliver the project, and the project would not be what it is without her involvement," said Mackey, who served as the design project manager.

"It was a fantasy project for every single one of us, like a culmination of an entire career," Mackey said of working on the restoration. "We are very gratified that the building is being recognized. That's pretty powerful."

Editor: dougcarrollByline Affiliation: University Relations - CommunicationsHeader image: YesNo Image: Subheading: The iconic campus building received several honors during May in acknowledgment of its renovation and restoration. Include in UANow: yesInclude in Olympic Coverage: noFeature on Olympic Page: noUANow Image: Includes video: 

Giffords, Kelly to Speak at Law School Graduation

Wed, 05/13/2015 - 3:03pm

Former U.S. Rep. Gabrielle Giffords and her husband, retired NASA astronaut Capt. Mark Kelly, will be featured speakers at the centennial commencement of the University of Arizona James E. Rogers College of Law.

The ceremony will be held from 2 to 4 p.m. Saturday. Doors open at 1 and the public is invited. Parking on the UA campus during graduation weekend is free.

Student-elected speakers include Trevor Hill and Heather Goodwin, members of the Class of 2015. 

At total of 183 degrees will be conferred to graduating law students, with 149 students earning the Juris Doctor degree. An additional 27 will receive advanced law degrees in the specialty areas of indigenous peoples law and policy, or IPLP, or international trade and business law, or ITBL. Seven will receive the new Master of Legal Studies diploma, a degree intended for those who do not need to practice law but want to advance professionally with foundational legal education. Four undergraduate students — the first to graduate with the nation’s only Bachelor in Law degree — will be recognized at the ceremony and formally receive their degrees at the UA’s Commencement on Saturday evening.

"As we observe the law college’s 100 years of public and professional service, it is a special honor to welcome Congresswoman Giffords and Captain Kelly," said Marc L. Miller, dean of the law school. "They are both models of what it means to serve, and even in the face of daunting challenges they continue to serve and inspire us."

As the youngest woman ever elected to the Arizona State Senate, Giffords represented her Tucson community in the Arizona Legislature from 2000 to 2005, and then in Congress from 2006 to 2012.

In Congress, she worked extensively on issues of border security, energy independence, and the needs of military families and veterans. She consistently was ranked as one of the most centrist legislators in Congress.

On Jan. 8, 2011, at an event in Tucson with her constituents, Giffords was shot in the head from close range and critically injured. In stepping down from Congress in January 2012, she said, "I will return, and we will work together for Arizona and this great country."

A third-generation Tucsonan, Giffords holds a master’s degree in regional planning from Cornell University and a bachelor's from Scripps College, where she was awarded a William Fulbright Scholarship to study for a year in Chihuahua, Mexico.

Kelly is a retired Navy combat veteran, test pilot and NASA astronaut. As a naval aviator, Kelly made two deployments to the Persian Gulf on the aircraft carrier USS Midway and flew 39 combat missions in Operation Desert Storm. He attended the U.S. Naval Test Pilot School, has logged more than 5,000 hours in more than 50 different aircraft, and has over 375 carrier landings.

Kelly is the winner of several awards, including the Defense Superior Service Medal, Legion of Merit and Distinguished Flying Cross. He was selected as an astronaut in 1996 and flew his first of four missions in 2001 aboard the space shuttle Endeavour, the same craft that he commanded on its final flight in May 2011. Kelly has spent more than 50 days in space and is one of only four individuals to have visited the International Space Station on four different occasions.

He received a bachelor's degree in marine engineering from the U.S. Merchant Marine Academy and a master's in aeronautical engineering from the U.S. Naval Postgraduate School.

In 2013, Giffords and Kelly founded Americans for Responsible Solutions as a way to encourage elected officials to stand up for safer communities. They maintain a busy schedule of public appearances and speaking engagements, and are involved with several national and community organizations.

Editor: dougcarrollByline Affiliation: UA James E. Rogers College of LawHeader image: YesNo Image: Subheading: College will confer 183 degrees in its centennial commencement, and the class includes the first four students to receive the nation's only Bachelor in Law degree.Include in UANow: 0Include in Olympic Coverage: noFeature on Olympic Page: noIncludes video: