Campus News

Syndicate content
Updated: 27 min 17 sec ago

Blog Series: UA Student Navigates Germany, Works to Advance Research

Fri, 08/15/2014 - 10:04

This is the fifth and final post in a University of Arizona blog series about the University's STEM education initiatives and students conducting research abroad.

Photos courtesy of Austin Brown

Austin Brown, a UA undergraduate researcher, is conducting research in Germany thorugh the Biological Research Abroad, Vistas Open! program. Brown is majoring in neuroscience, cognitive science and ecology and evolutionary biology. This summer, his research has been supported by the Howard Hughes Medical Institute.

Q: Why did you decide to get involved in research at the UA?

A: It sort of happened by chance. I was searching for a lab to volunteer in the summer before I started at the UA and Wulfila Gronenberg (an associate professor of neuroscience), who works mostly with bees and ants, welcomed me into his lab. He was very open to me doing whatever I was most interested in, so I ended up catching paper wasps on the UA Mall and conditioning or teaching them to expect a sugar reward when presented an odor. Before that I was actually in an environmental lab, looking at water contaminants. But while in Wulfi's lab, I became intrigued by the complexity of such a small brain, so I've been pursuing research in that field to this day.  

Q: What are you doing in Germany?

A: I am in working in professor Wolfgang Rössler’s neuroethology lab at the University of Würzburg under Martin Strube-Bloss and in collaboration with Johannes Spaethe. Previously, Martin examined the olfactory processing of different odorants in the honeybee using electrophysiology. Different pheromones would be presented to the animal and he would analyze how the brain, particularly the antennal lobes, would respond to and discriminate between the different odors. I am a part of a similar project, but am using bumblebees as a model organism instead to compare. We hypothesize that odorants of similar structure would be processed more similarly than those that are less similar.

Q: Why is this particular area so important to you and your scientific colleagues?

A: I just really like it. I knew it was for me the moment I began doing research independently and found myself reading articles like they were literature, becoming enticed by the findings and conclusions as they spurred my curiosity and imagination. Sometimes I find myself realizing I could never really answer all the questions I thought up, but the prospect is tantalizing.  What I find the most interesting about the brain is that it has taken a multitude of different forms throughout evolutionary time. Though a bee's brain is quite obviously different from our own, I find it intriguing that it can solve the same problems and perform analogous tasks such as complex learning/memory and navigation. By studying the diversity of neural mechanisms that exist in nature I hope to gain an understanding of how this wonderful organ called the brain works in general.

Q: How has your experience at the UA prepared you for your international research?

A: Being in a higher-level learning environment has matured me and made me more adept in conversing on scientific subjects with not only my peers, but professionals with the same interests. I may not have taken any German classes at the UA – I took Latin – but being involved in research has exposed me to the international side of science. And it has developed me further into what I hope to be in the future: not just an American but an international citizen.

Q: What are your plans after completing your undergraduate studies at the UA?

Brown: I plan to take some time to dedicate more hours to the lab and hopefully complete a reputable project worthy of publication in a high-ranking journal. Also, Martin, who spent some time as a post-doc at Arizona State University, has informed me that his old adviser is looking for an up-and-coming electrophysiologist to use Martin's old experimental setup, which I have been trained on while here in Germany. So I may choose to complete a master's degree in Phoenix and then possibly locate to a lab that studies a subject more suited to my interests. So far, though, I am just taking it step by-step and seeing what opportunities present themselves to me, as I had no idea previously that ASU would be possible in my future, being a native Tucsonan Wildcat and all.

Read about other UA students conducting research abroad:

Categories: Campus NewsScience and TechnologyTeaching and StudentsThis is a Wildcat Corner feature: Images: Tags: StudentsStudent LifeUAStemByline: University Relations - Communications |Editor: La Monica Everett-HaynesInclude in UANow: 0Date of Publication: Friday, August 15, 2014Medium Summary: UA undergraduate researcher Austin D. Brown is in Germany conducting research and expanding his knowledge of the brains of insects.Feature on Front: NoShort Summary: UA undergraduate researcher Austin Brown wants to advance what we know about brain processes.

Blog Series: UA Students Studying, Researching Abroad

Mon, 08/11/2014 - 12:16

Under its strategic academic and business plan, "Never Settle," the University of Arizona has underscored its commitment to student engagement by ensuring 100 percent of students have the opportunity to be involved in some form of practical, engaged activity relevant to their future careers.

One of the students who has embraced that concept is UA undergraduate Jordan Richard Brock, who spent his summer in Turkey as part of Biomedical Research Abroad: Vistas Open!, a summer research program that grew out of the UA's Undergraduate Biology Research Program. Since the program was founded in 1992, more than 220 undergraduates have worked in laboratories located in dozens of countries outside of the U.S.

While abroad, Brock shared some thoughts about his experience.

This is the first in a five-part Q-and-A series highlighting the UA's efforts to promote science, technology, engineering and mathematics, the STEM fields, and the work of students like Brock.

Q: What is your current research?

A: I am working in Turkey studying the emerging biofuel crop, Camelina sativa. I am here to present my research at a Turkish Biology Congress, but also to make new collections of wild Camelina species from across Turkey. In previous years, I have traveled to Turkey, Georgia and Armenia to collect wild populations of various Camelina species.

Q: Why is this particular area of research so important?

A: I have been doing molecular phylogenetics in my laboratory at the University of Arizona to understand the evolutionary history of this genus. Because Camelina sativa is an emerging biofuel crop, we are interested in learning about the other species in the genus and how they may be used to further improve Camelina sativa.

Q: Why do you have a specific interest in Camelina sativa, and how has your research supported your studies?

A: I have an academic interest in studying Camelina because my project has allowed me not only to use the knowledge I have learned from my courses but also to build upon it. Lectures and laboratory experience are perfect complements to each other, and without practicing what you learn, eventually you will forget. My professional interest in my research is quite direct; the research I am doing as an undergraduate will help me excel in my future studies. I have been able to learn a variety of valuable laboratory skills but also skills such as analyzing data and critical thinking.

Q: Considering your work abroad, and your time at the UA, how do you feel you are becoming prepared for your future career? 

A: My experience at the University of Arizona has prepared me very well for my international research. Classes such as plant systematics have been extremely helpful in developing my plant identification skills as well as teaching how to properly collect specimens. Furthermore, my principal investigator, Mark Beilstein, is an exceptional teacher, role model and friend; he always leads me in the right direction while giving me confidence to solve problems on my own. In my previous research trips abroad, I was accompanied by my principal investigator, but now I feel comfortable traveling and researching on my own.

Q: What are your long-term plans? 

A: After I graduate I hope to pursue my Ph.D. in plant sciences or plant biology. My ultimate goal is to improve plant productivity and provide plant-based solutions to the world's decreasing arable land and water.

Read about other UA students conducting research abroad:

Photos courtesy of A. Dönmez and Zübeyde Uğurlu

Categories: Campus NewsScience and TechnologyTeaching and StudentsThis is a Wildcat Corner feature: Images: Tags: StudentsStudent LifeResearchUABack2SchoolByline: University Relations - Communications |Editor: La Monica Everett-HaynesInclude in UANow: 0Date of Publication: Monday, August 11, 2014Medium Summary: UA undergraduate researcher Jordan Richard Brock, who has been studying and researching abroad, says that "without practicing what you learn, eventually you will forget." Feature on Front: YesShort Summary: UA student Jordan Richard Brock has been conducting research in Turkey.

Galápagos Hawks Hand Down Lice Like Family Heirlooms, Study Finds

Wed, 08/06/2014 - 13:22

Say what you will about the parasitic lifestyle, but in the game of evolution, it's a winner.

Given that about half of all known species are parasites, biologists have long hypothesized that the strategy of leeching off other organisms is a major driver of biodiversity. Studying populations of Galápagos hawks (Buteo galapagoensis) and feather lice that live in their plumage (Degeeriella regalis), a group led by University of Arizona ecologists and evolutionary biologists has gathered some of the first field evidence suggesting that a phenomenon called co-divergence between parasites and hosts is indeed an important mechanism driving the evolution of biodiversity.

"The idea is really simple," said the study's lead author, Jennifer Koop, who is a postdoctoral fellow in the lab of Noah Whiteman in the UA's Department of Ecology and Evolutionary Biology. "Each time a host population splits into separate populations that potentially become different species, we predict that their parasites could do the same thing."

However, biologists have long struggled to test this hypothesis, as parasites are elusive.

"Often, the evolutionary trees of parasites and their hosts are congruent – they look like mirror images of one another," said Whiteman, who is an assistant professor in EEB, a joint assistant professor in the Department of Entomology and the School of Plant Sciences, and a member of the UA's BIO5 Institute. "But because parasites tend to be inside or attached to hosts, their distributions are difficult to study."

"We found the lice are passed on from mother to babies during brooding, almost like genes," Whiteman said. "They're evolutionary heirlooms, like your family's silverware or engagement ring diamond."

Because the hawks pass on the feather lice from generation to generation, the researchers wanted to know whether the louse populations diverge between populations of hawks and between individual hawks, or whether the populations of the birds and the lice diverged independently of each other.

Remarkably, the findings, which are published in the journal Biology Letters of the Royal Society, revealed that the population structure of the lice matched that of the birds across the archipelago, even though the two are very different species.

"To the lice, each bird is an island, and their populations are very different from bird to bird," Whiteman said. "The same pattern is repeated between bird populations on different islands. It's like Russian dolls."

In other words, the lice living on any one bird and its offspring are more closely related than the lice living on a different bird. As the birds diversify into distinct populations on each island, their parasites diversify with them. The findings help explain the rapid rate of parasite evolution, according to the research team.

"You have to be in the right spot at the right time to see this process happening," Koop said. "Our study empirically demonstrates an important evolutionary process in which the hawks separate into different populations, and the lice living on them do the same."

This process is hypothesized to lead to the formation of different species, in this case different species of hawks and lice, and may explain some of the extraordinary diversity seen among parasites, she said.

The team chose the Galápagos Islands, located 575 miles off the west coast of Ecuador, for the study because the species that colonized the geologically young group of islands have evolved in isolation, making the area an ideal natural laboratory.

"Of all the vertebrate species native to the Galápagos, the Galápagos hawk is the most recent arrival," Whiteman said. "So whatever is happening in terms of evolution of the bird population and the parasite population is most likely in the earliest stages of that process."

In four years of fieldwork on eight major islands, the team caught hundreds of Galápagos hawks – which later were released unharmed – and collected blood samples and feather lice for genomic analysis, in a partnership with the Galápagos National Park. Whiteman said the hawks' lice are specialized on their host species and the feathers they consume, and unable to survive on any other species.

Co-authors Karen DeMatteo and Patricia Parker, both at the Department of Biology at the University of Missouri-St. Louis, then used the DNA from the samples to generate a genetic fingerprint of each population. Parker helped with the fieldwork.

A better understanding of how parasites and their hosts coevolve has implications for biomedical sciences, according to Whiteman. In addition, it can help researchers who study parasites as evolutionary tags of the host species.

"The fact that we were able to work with these birds, which are the top predators in their habitat, and reveal some answers to fundamental questions in biology shows why such places should continue to be preserved," Whiteman said.

The study was supported by grants from the National Science Foundation, the Saint Louis Zoo's Field Research for Conservation, the University of Missouri Research Board, the John Templeton Foundation, a UA Faculty Seed Grant to Noah Whiteman and a National Institutes of Health-PERT postdoctoral fellowship to Jennifer Koop.

Writer: Daniel StolteByline: Daniel StolteByline Affiliation: University Relations - CommunicationsHeader image: YesNo Image: Subheading: A UA-led study provides some of the first evidence for the hypothesis of co-divergence between parasites and hosts acting as a major driver of biodiversity.Include in UANow: yesInclude in Olympic Coverage: noFeature on Olympic Page: noUANow Image: 

The UA Named a Top College by The Princeton Review

Mon, 08/04/2014 - 16:35

The Princeton Review has named the University of Arizona one of the best higher education institutions in the nation for undergraduate education.

The UA is included in "The Best 379 Colleges: 2015 Edition," the annual college guide released by The Princeton Review, a Massachusetts-based education services company known for its test-prep courses, tutoring, books and other student resources.

"The UA community takes great pride in being recognized by The Princeton Review," said UA President Ann Weaver Hart. "We know that our inclusion means that University students are pleased with their overall experience at the UA and see true value in their UA education, whether it's the academic training, career-oriented support or the community aspects of being a Wildcat."

The Princeton Review does not rank the 379 colleges. But it does assign scores between 60 and 99 in several categories. The UA was included in several categories: 96 for sustainability or "green" initiatives; 87 for fire safety; 84 for quality of life; 79 for selectivity; 75 for academics; and 73 for financial aid.

The Princeton Review team relies on a survey of 130,000 students who attend the schools. The 80-question survey asks students to rate their schools on several topics – including the quality of the faculty, library resources, career services, financial aid offerings and social aspects of college – and report on their campus experiences.

"The University of Arizona offers outstanding academics, which is the chief reason we selected it for the book," Rob Franek, the guide's author and The Princeton Review's senior vice president and publisher, said in a prepared statement.

Also based on survey results, UA students reported being "happy" with the institution, saying the UA has "great" career services and lab facilities, while noting the University's "strong commitment to undergraduate research." Students also reported being pleased with campus life and found that the University offers "a place for you to fit in no matter what you want to get out of your college education."

Ultimately, only 15 percent of the nation's four-year colleges – and only four institutions outside of the country – were profiled.

"Every college in our book offers outstanding academics," Franek noted. "These colleges differ significantly in their program offerings, campus culture, locales and cost. Our purpose is not to crown one college 'best' overall or to rank these distinctive schools 1 to 379 on any single topic. We present our 62 ranking lists to give applicants the broader base of campus feedback to choose the college that's best for them."

The Princeton Review's announcement follows the UA's inclusion as a top 100 U.S. institution in Money magazine's "Best Colleges" list. Money also ranked the UA 12th among the top 25 "best colleges you can actually get into."

The Princeton Review considers a variety of factors in its rankings, including student surveys and institutional data from college administrators. The guide includes detailed profiles of each school and ratings in a variety of areas, such as academics, quality of life and financial aid.  

Editor: La Monica Everett-HaynesByline Affiliation: University Relations - CommunicationsHeader image: YesNo Image: Subheading: The UA is included in "The Best 379 Colleges: 2015 Edition." Include in UANow: yesInclude in Olympic Coverage: noFeature on Olympic Page: noUANow Image: 

Photo Essay: UA Journalism Student Shares Experience Covering Politics in D.C.

Tue, 07/29/2014 - 12:29

I was in the White House for about 20 minutes before the magnitude of where I was really sunk in. That was roughly the difference in time between me walking through the door and U.S. President Barack Obama entering the room I was in with other reporters. 

Amer Taleb (Photo credit: Ken Sterns/UANews)

It was a Medal of Honor ceremony, and I was there to photograph it. The endless rows of chairs were full of soldiers and generals; even the U.S. Secretary of Defense was present. But it was the instant that the room fell silent, and I saw the president, that I began to appreciate just how special this moment was.

The photo of President Obama that accompanies this brief essay is from that event, roughly a year ago. The rest of the images were also taken last year, during my political reporting internship in Washington, D.C. with the Scripps Howard Foundation Wire. Every picture has a story behind it, and I can tell you where I was and what was racing through my mind as I aimed the camera and snapped the shutter. All of them carry a very deep, and personal meaning to me.

You may also notice that each image was taken at a political function. Covering politics has played a significant role in my development as a journalist. The power of policymakers and the broad impact of their decisions is a dynamic that has caught my interest since high school.

Heading into the future, whether it be as a reporter or government official, I hope my path is one with a political focus. Who knows, maybe someday I'll be back at a major event in the White House or Capitol Hill. Except this time, instead of being the one taking photos, I'll be on the other side of the lens.

To learn more about Amer Taleb, read: "Remarkable Résumé: UA Student Journalist's Career Includes CNN, NYT Phoenix."



President Barack Obama speaks at the White House during the Medal of Honor ceremony. 

Thousands of people attended the 2013 presidential inauguration.  ​

Chelsea Clinton speaks in Washington, D.C., during the National Day of Service. 

Chuck Hagel, the U.S. secretary of defense, during a confirmation hearing.  ​

Leon Panetta (left), former director of the CIA, and Clint Romesha (right), former U.S. Army staff sergeant, at the Medal of Honor ceremony at the Pentagon.

Plaintiffs after Proposition 8 oral arguments at the Supreme Court.  View from the Supreme Court after Defense of Marriage Act oral arguments.  

Veiw from the Supreme Court after DOMA oral arguments.

Photography Credit: Amer Taleb

Categories: Teaching and StudentsThis is a Wildcat Corner feature: Images: Tags: StudentStudent LifeEducationGuest PostByline: University RelationsEditor: La Monica Everett-HaynesInclude in UANow: 0Date of Publication: Monday, August 18, 2014Medium Summary: Amer Taleb, an award winning UA student journalist, has worked with numerous news organization. In the future, he hopes to work for a reporter or government official. Feature on Front: NoShort Summary: UA journalism student Amer Taleb covered the landmark DOMA and Prop 8 arguments.

Longtime Band Leader Jay Rees Returning to Alma Mater

Mon, 07/28/2014 - 13:11

When Jay Rees began directing the Pride of Arizona Marching and Pep Bands – having just completed his graduate studies at the University of Arizona – he had a revolutionary idea that would drastically change the band's identity, bringing it international fame.

The idea was unconventional: introduce more rigorous demands to professionalize the student experience, and infuse the band's traditional, somewhat militaristic feel with popular and alternative music. It was a risk to build custom arrangements around music by the Red Hot Chili Peppers, Pink Floyd, Radiohead, the Talking Heads and others, and Rees withstood backlash from colleagues across the nation and, at times, his own students.

But as Rees leaving the UA and now heading up University of Miami's marching band, reflections on his nearly 20-year tenure illustrate an unyielding pride in having transformed the band from its purely traditional college marching band to one know for its innovation. 

"People thought I was crazy. A lot of people didn't understand bringing this kind of music into this setting," he recalled.

"But who wants to do what others are doing. It's not challenging and it's not engaging," said Rees, who had directed the band since 1995 and also taught at the UA School of Music. "Now, when people talk about the Pride of Arizona they talk about it because it is unique and it has an identity. And I'm very proud that bands are now playing more unusual music. That wasn't happening in 1995."

Allison Howard, a UA alumna and assistant director of bands, will serve as the interim director while a national search is conducted to find Rees' successor.

Rees, the second-longest-serving band director in UA history, also took his passion and energy to the classroom, where he taught music education, jazz studies and a course in leadership.

"Jay Rees is focused and exigent as a professor, and he trained music education students in his philosophy, procedures and materials and sent them out to build on his work," said Rex Woods, the UA School of Music director 

"He builds an esprit de corps and uses well-timed humor and is in tune with the musical preferences of young people, using that awareness to identify direct entry points for learning," Woods said.

"He expects much of himself and inspires his students to dedicate themselves to excellence that they themselves can measure. Student motivation quickly becomes intrinsic because progress, individual and collective, is vividly evident. He has left a lasting mark on the Pride of Arizona and a challenge to continue to excel."

Rees often involved students in community-based service, believing they were representatives of the UA and state and had a responsibility to connect with the community. Among his students, given his sharp leadership style and open communication, Rees gained a reputation for being equally hard-edged, compassionate and genuine.

"He instilled in us a sense of teamwork and a never-ending desire to reach our highest potential," said UA alumna Karin K. Nolan, who served as a Pride of Arizona baritone and tuba player.

"In an age where 'good enough' sometimes passes, Rees taught us to go back and do it again until it 'can't get any better,'" said Nolan, now the coordinator of field experiences for the UA College of Fine Arts.

Rees, who said he especially loves teaching college students, refused to accept average performance. He worked with his students to reach their potential, holding them accountable for their missteps, often unapologetically.

Rees' efforts to build "a culture of uncommon discipline" within the marching band is chronicled in "Marching Bands and Drumlines: Secrets of Success from the Best of the Best," published in 2009.

"It is my job to push the student, or drag them kicking and screaming, into professionalism. I don't want them to just get a job. I want them to do something they are amazing at doing. I want them to be energized to be great," Rees said.

"I am always honest, and sometimes people don't want that," he said. "But when I tell them, 'That was wonderful,' then that means something."

Lindsay McDonald Johnson, a former Pride of Arizona member who completed a UA nursing degree in 2008, said it was through Rees' teachings that she was able to expand her capacity for hard work, dedication and meeting high expectations.

"One might wonder how a music professor could teach a cardiovascular nurse anything relevant in health care. But throughout my time as a student, a staff member, and a friend, I have not had a mentor quite like professor Jay C. Rees," said Johnson, now a cardiovascular critical care nurse at the University of Arizona Medical Center.

His passion included excitement and heated exchanges at rehearsals and performances alike, Johnson said.

"He holds no emotion back," Johnson said. "Through this, he has formed a unique connection with each of his students and demonstrates what it means to be a leader. He has taught me that if I’m going to do something, I should do it well and care about it. He's a pretty powerful teacher."

UA alumna Kelsi Sullivan, who was involved with the band beginning in 2010 before graduating in 2014, also recalled his excitment, remembering one of the band's performances during her freshman year.

"He was jumping and screaming and slapping the railing, his ponytail becoming undone from pure excitement," Sullivan said. "He is so passionate about everything that he does that sometimes he cannot physically handle how amazing his masterpiece is when it comes to life."

While moving to Miami was a homecoming for Rees – the University of Miami is his alma mater – many said he would be terribly missed in Arizona.

"The mark he has made on students, faculty and music lovers connected with the UA will resonate in the halls of the School of Music for years to come," said UA alumnus Dan Kruse, senior radio announcer for Arizona Public Media. Kruse worked directly with Rees while serving as a percussionist with the UA Wind Symphony.

"Working in the Wind Symphony, I learned a great deal – not only about how to perform the particular piece of music placed before us on a given day – but also about the composer’s intent, the deeper meanings of the music itself, and the tools that were at our disposal to bring those meanings forth," Kruse said. "When that happens, truly happens, the result is a musical experience that is enriching to both the performers and audience members, on a profound and deeply rewarding level."

Jane McCollum, general manager for the Marshall Foundation, meet Rees about 20 years ago while organizing a fundraiser for the UA Bands. The performance gave her goose bumps, she said.

"I still get goose bumps today when I hear the Pride at Bear Down Fridays and in Arizona Stadium," McCollum said.

"When I hear the booming voice of Jay during band camp, I know that students' and other’s lives will be changed forever by this brilliant composer, arranger, choreographer, mentor, teacher, community servant, musician and friend," she said. "Mine has. I will miss that voice. I will miss my friend."

Rees and the band also drew attention for their musical efforts outside the UA.

In 2009, the College Band Directors National Association named the band, which has released a number of CDs and has appeared on the Today's Show and Fox Sports, among the top five in the nation. That was the same year Rees established Sylvan Street, a Jazz group.

In 2006, Pride of Arizona performed a Radiohead set, which drew the attention of The Guardian and the band's singer, Thom Yorke.

In 2001, Rees choreographed about 10,000 citizens into a "live human flag" after Sept. 11. The memorial aired on CNN and was featured in Sports Illustrated.

Although Rees and his wife, Wendy, have moved to Miami, they remain connected to Arizona. Their eldest son is attending Arizona State University and their younger son, who begins his freshman year at the UA this fall, will be a Pride of Arizona member.

Rees' influence will also be evident at Arizona Stadium: He completed arrangements for the 2014-2015 season focusing on the music of Daft Punk, which came at the suggestion of several of his current and former students.

"I love all these student so much, and I want them to be the best ever," Rees said. "I always want to create an environment of excellence and unique talent. And if I have a legacy, it's about the students and the experiences they had."

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

Former students and fans shared their appreciation of Jay Rees in "A Tribute to Outgoing Pride of Arizona Band Director, Jay Rees," featured on the UA blog.

Header image: YesNo Image: Subheading: Jay Rees is leaving the UA after nearly two decades directing the UA's nationally recognized Pride of Arizona marching band.Include in UANow: yesInclude in Olympic Coverage: noFeature on Olympic Page: noUANow Image: 

Support for UA Native American Grad Students Gets Boost With $2.4M Grant

Wed, 07/23/2014 - 10:47

In a multimillion dollar effort to increase the number of Native American students in graduate programs, the Alfred P. Sloan Foundation is continuing funding of a program founded at the University of Arizona. 

The Sloan Indigenous Graduate Partnership will have its funding renewed for three years, enabling the UA and its partner institutions – the University of Alaska at Anchorage and Fairbanks, the Montana University System and Purdue University – to bolster efforts to recruit, retain and graduate Native Americans, specifically in science, technology, engineering and mathematics, the STEM disciplines.

"As we know, STEM education has taken off mostly due to the fact that, as a nation, we want to be competitive in the global arena," said Karen Francis-Begay, UA assistant vice president for tribal relations. "Knowing that we've had very little diversity in the STEM fields, it make sense to invest resources and dollars in targeting students who would be up-and-coming scholars in STEM."

"Knowing that we've had very little diversity in the STEM fields, it make sense to invest resources and dollars in targeting students who would be up-and-coming scholars in STEM."

The majority of the newly awarded $2.4 million will go directly to students in the form of stipends, providing support to an estimated 59 students in master's programs and 20 students pursing doctorates. Of those, the UA expects to have 15 master's students and six doctoral students, said Maria Teresa Velez, associate dean of the Graduate College, who wrote the intial grant for the program in 2003.

The money also will be used by the UA and the three other institutions – all of which adopted the UA program in 2005 after it began at the UA – to launch a national network to connect the Sloan scholars with one another at least monthly while also addressing the unique challenges they face, particularly associated with cultural and social isolation after leaving their home communities, Velez said.

"We will be bringing them together as a community – a network of friends who are pursuing similar goals," said Velez, who leads the Arizona Sloan Indigenous Graduate Partnership program. "That will help them to be a great social support for one another."

According to the Sloan Foundation, American Indians and Alaska Natives make up 1.2 percent of the U.S. population but earned just 0.3 percent of all doctorates in 2012, a decline from the 0.5 percent earned 20 years prior. 

"When it comes to meeting the needs of American Indian and Alaska Native students, Alaska, Arizona, Montana and Purdue are truly exemplary programs," Elizabeth S. Boylan, the Alfred P. Sloan Foundation's program director, said in a prepared release. "Now they're coming together to forge new opportunities and expand their already measurable impact." 

Francis-Begay noted that many Sloan scholars return to work for their tribal nations. Others work with organizations and companies, mostly around environmental issues.

"This investment is significant to tribes' abilities to strengthen their sovereignty, especially when they are up against challenges like growth and economic development within their nations," Francis-Begay said.

The UA has a strong track record of enrolling and graduating Native American students at the baccalaureate, master's and doctoral levels, Velez noted. More than 700 undergraduates and about 200 graduate and professional American Indian students attend the UA, she said, adding that the Survey of Earned Doctorates shows the UA leading the nation in the number of American Indian students graduating with doctoral degrees.

To date, the UA's Sloan program has graduated 40 students with master's degrees and 13 with doctoral degrees, Velez said.

One of the graduates is Nazune Menka (Athabascan/Lumbee), who is interested in doing consulting work around environmental policy, specifically as it relates to tribal issues.

Having already conducted environmental research in New Zealand and Norway, she plans to work in environmental law nationally and internationally.

Menka's interest is rooted in the environmental changes she has witnessed since her youth. Menka recalls her family members surviving on the fish they caught when she was growing up in Anchorage during the 1970s.

The sharp contrast between food access during her youth and the current environmental conditions become evident during an Institute for Tribal Environmental Professionals conference she attended. It was during that conference that elders spoke about a notable shift in the ice season and increases in fish mercury levels. Also, the ice season shift was creating hazardous conditions for humans, she said.

"It wasn't safe to walk on the ice during times when it should have been, and there were deaths," Menka said. "The elders were speaking, and they were crying. I've never seen any elders cry in a professional setting. It really impacted me. I knew that we had to ask questions nobody was asking – that if we didn't do this for ourselves, the likelihood of someone else coming in and demanding solutions was really small."

Having earned her master's degree in environmental science from the UA in May, Menka will begin pursuing a law degree at the University of Hawaii this fall.

For now, she is interning with the Department of Energy in Colorado, where she is monitoring water levels and contaminants in drinking water around mills and mining sites.

"I'm thankful for Sloan. The program has been extremely instrumental in everything I did in graduate school and up to this point, and I appreciate Dr. Velez's support and feel camaraderie with her," Menka said. "Sloan was definitely a game changer for me," Menka said. "I'm happy to move in to this next step in my career having had this opportunity."

Editor: La Monica Everett-HaynesWriter: La Monica Everett-HaynesByline: La Monica Everett-HaynesByline Affiliation: University Relations - CommunicationsHeader image: YesNo Image: Subheading: The money will be used to support American Indian and Alaska Native students pursuing graduate degrees and the UA and three partner schools.Include in UANow: yesInclude in Olympic Coverage: noFeature on Olympic Page: noUANow Image: 

Photo Essay: UA Training the Next Generation of STEM Specialists

Tue, 07/22/2014 - 12:40

This summer, 45 high school students from Tucson, Tuba City, Scottsdale, Phoenix and Nogales took part in an innovative University of Arizona program called KEYS – Keep Engaging Youth in Science. During the seven-week immersion program, the students served as interns alongside faculty members, postdoctoral students and graduate students in various UA laboratories.

Monica Schmidt, an assistant professor in the School of Plant Sciences, supports KEYS intern Melisa Bohlman. (Photo credit: Chad Westover from Biomedical Communications)

The program is one example of the UA's focus on accelerating student interest in science, technology, engineering and mathematics, the STEM fields. During the program, the student interns were trained in bioscience techniques and communication skills, and performed hands-on scientific laboratory research. The KEYS students earned three UA academic credits for their efforts. 

"KEYS is designed to reflect one of the University's primary outreach initiatives: to create pre-college opportunities that attract and retain the best and brightest students to the UA," said Dr. Fernando Martinez, director of the BIO5 Institute at the UA.

Ted Trouard, an associate professor of biomedical engineering, (left) with lab mentor Mike Valdez and Brian Liu, a KEYS intern. (Photo credit: Mark Thaler from Biomedical Communications)

The program is co-directed by staff at BIO5 and the Southwest Environmental Health Sciences Center at the UA College of Pharmacy. It relies on financial support from foundation, corporate and UA sponsorships, as well as contributions from individual donors. Program leaders are currently working to build an endowment to enhance student support under the program.

The program came to a close Friday with the KEYS Research Showcase, where students presented their work to members of their scientific communities, their families and the general public.

"They've learned how to ask questions, develop leadership skills and succeed in a college environment," Kimberly Andrews Espy, UA senior vice president for research, said during Friday's program.

"Programs like KEYS are developed to create a pre-college pipeline for our state's best and brightest students to experience the best and brightest of what the UA has to offer," Espy said, adding that the program's long-term goal is to improve diversity in STEM-related fields. 

KEYS intern Mateo Mahoney presents his research on medical devices during the program's research showcase. (Photo credit: Chad Westover from Biomedical Communications)

Since the program began in 2007, more than 90 UA faculty members have mentored 233 interns, with more than half of the students from backgrounds underrepresented in science careers. Among all KEYS alumni, 78 are still high school students and 155 have gone on to pursue higher education.

"These statistics are important to the UA, important to our state, and important as we look to build our next generation of scientists in order to solve many of the grand biological challenges that lie ahead," Espy said.

Espy said the program also aligns with the UA's "Never Settle" strategic plan. Of note, students gain real-life laboratory experiences, which help them in degree and career choices, Espy said. KEYS also serves as a mentorship opportunity for undergraduates and graduate and postdoctoral students – and students often return to volunteer in UA labs after the KEYS internship ends.

KEYS intern Samantha Andrade (left) speaks with Serrine Lau, director of the Southwest Environmental Health Sciences Center. Andrade works directly with UA researcher Terrence Monks, who shares a lab space and collaborates closely with Lau. (Photo credit: Jeb Zirato from Biomedical Communications)

KEYS enables pre-college students to contribute to ongoing, innovative research at the UA. "They bring an open and enthusiastic perspective and offer fresh ideas that research mentors often apply," she said.

To date, 87 KEYS interns have chosen to attend the UA, with 18 set to enter the University as freshmen this fall. While the majority of students pursue degrees in STEM, some choose to study in programs such as pharmacy and business.
"The top KEYS programmatic goal is to give students real-world experiences that spark scientific curiosity and discovery, which can play a huge role in helping them decide whether to pursue science careers," said Serrine Lau, director of the Southwest Environmental Health Sciences Center.

Dozens of KEYS interns have earned recognition as well as competitive scholarships, including the Wildcat Excellence Award, National Merit Scholarships and Flinn Scholarships.
"I believe that programs like KEYS highlight the very best of the UA in terms of experiential learning opportunities," said Rick Myers, chair of the Arizona Board of Regents and a staunch advocate of the UA program. "Top-performing students from diverse backgrounds who are able to spend quality time on campus and work in laboratories with our world-class researchers while still in high school are far more likely to be excited about returning as undergraduates."

All photos courtesy of Biomedical Communications and the BIO5 Institute at the UA

Contacts: Lisa Romero of the UA BIO5 Institute at 520-626-9598 or; Karin Lorentzen of the UA College of Pharmacy at 520-626-3725 or

Below are images of students working in UA laboratories with principle investigators and lab mentors, and also presenting their work during the KEYS Research Showcase:

UA professor and biomedical engineer Jennifer Barton (left) with lab mentor Weston Welge and KEYS intern Olivia Austin. (Photo credit: Chad Westover from Biomedical Communications)

David Cai, a KEYS intern, presents his research during the recent showcase. KEYS affiliates believe that the ability to communicate science to a non-science audience is an important and valuable skill, so KEYS students participate in weekly workshops and also discuss and present their research. (Photo credit: Chad Westover from Biomedical Communications)

Lab mentor and KEYS Crew member Yurika Isoe and KEYS intern Jazmin Greyeyes work in the Miesfeld Lab, one centered on studying blood meal metabolism in mosquitoes. (Photo credit: Chad Westover from Biomedical Communications)

The 7-week KEYS Internship program is a unique summer opportunity for high school students who have an interest in bioscience, engineering, environmental health or biostatistics.

KEYS interns learn laboratory techniques, practice reading scientific literature, communicate about science and work to improve presentation and writing skills.

KEYS interns learn about cutting edge research at the UA and STEM careers.

KEYS intern Melisa Bohlman presents during the program's poster session, held at the end of the program. (Photo credit: Chad Westover from Biomedical Communications)

KEYS interns work 40 hours a week in UA research laboratories.

Lab mentor Vicki Chu (left) works with KEYS intern Venecia Yazzie. (Photo credit: Chad Westover from Biomedical Communications)

Categories: Science and TechnologyTeaching and StudentsThis is a Wildcat Corner feature: Images: Tags: ScienceEducationOutreachStudentsFacultyStaffByline: University Relations - Communications |UANow Image: Editor: La Monica Everett-HaynesInclude in UANow: yesDate of Publication: Tuesday, July 22, 2014Medium Summary: Aligned with nationwide attention on science, technology, engineering and mathematics, the UA's KEYS program is designed to prepare high school students, most from backgrounds underrepresented in science careers, into STEM. Feature on Front: YesShort Summary: Where are the future scientists? At the UA.

Celebrating Apollo 11 – the UA’s Role in the First Manned Lunar Landing to Space Exploration Today

Wed, 07/16/2014 - 11:13

When the first humans stepped onto the moon on July 20, 1969, they knew they were venturing into the unknown. Some had feared their lander would be swallowed up by bottomless layers of dust as almost nothing was known about the moon surface at the time. But they knew it wouldn't, thanks in large part to groundbreaking research being performed at the University of Arizona's then fledging Lunar and Planetary Laboratory.

When Gerard P. Kuiper founded the laboratory nine years earlier, in 1960, there was some skepticism that humans could visit the moon, let alone another planet.

Now, less than six decades later, and on the 45th anniversary of Apollo 11 – the first manned mission to the moon – UA scientists celebrate the pioneering and pivotal role the UA has held in the explosion of space science research, helping to shape what we know about our universe today.

"The UA has been a part of every NASA planetary exploration mission, and with leadership roles on many of them," said Tim Swindle, director of the UA Department of Planetary Sciences and LPL. "Our graduates and alumni have also been involved in many missions. That is our goal."

William K. Hartmann, a UA alumnus who studied with Kuiper, was instrumental in helping to shape early theories around the origins of Earth's moon and has made other significant contributions to the field of lunar science.

Over the course of his scientific career, Hartmann discovered several impact basins on the moon. During the 1960s, he predicted the age of the lunar lava plains. His predictions were confirmed through samples returned by the Apollo mission.

The Apollo mission also influenced Kuiper while at the UA. He took his students on field trips to places on Earth that he felt were representative of what students might see on the moon or in the solar system, for example Meteor Crater in northern Arizona, dune fields or the extensive lava flows blanketing the Big Island of Hawaii. Those types of instructive field trips continue today.

"During our field trips, students visit planetary analog sites," Swindle said. "It's an important part of our department culture. We can send a robotic spacecraft to places in our solar system and beyond, but we'll never be able to see them as well as we can see places on Earth," he explained. "By comparing those sites using every scientific technique we can think of we can learn what those places out there in space might be like."

In preparation for the Phoenix Mars mission, the first planetary mission led by a university, a UA team traveled to Antarctica to study how the instruments they had developed would work in what is considered the most Marslike environment on Earth.

LPL's legacy of studying places close to home to understand places far away becomes more relevant as more powerful telescopes have begun discovering a growing list of planets orbiting stars other than the sun.

"Kuiper started with the right attitude and what was an unusual approach at the time," Swindle said, "namely turning astronomical objects into places. His guiding idea was to not just obtain higher and higher resolution images, but also figuring out what those images mean, and what those objects would look like if you were standing there. And that is really what we have been doing here at LPL ever since."

And it all began with taking "one small step for a man, a giant leap for mankind.”

A (Very) Brief History of Space Exploration Missions With UA Involvement

1961-1965: The Ranger probes made up an early NASA mission to get new close-up images of the Moon in preparation for the eventual manned missions to the Moon. Kuiper was the principal investigator for the program.

1966-1968: A series of spacecraft named Surveyor acted as first-wave scouts mostly for future Apollo landing sites. LPL's Ewen Whitaker was instrumental in comparing the probes' images of the lunar surface with telescopic images to determine their precise locations.

1972-1973: Pioneer 10 and 11 were launched as initial scouts for the later Voyager probes and the "Grand Tour" of the solar system. Both probes were equipped with UA imaging equipment built by LPL's Tom Gehrels.

1975: The Viking probes collected high-resolution images of the surface of Mars and carried out surface experiments to locate signs of life. LPL's Brad Smith was in charge of the imaging team.

1977: Voyager probes 1 and 2 were initially launched to take advantage of an ideal alignment of the planets, creating a "Grand Tour" of the solar system. Both Voyagers are now on course to exit the solar system, studying the Kuiper Belt, heliosphere and interstellar space.

1978: The Pioneer Venus mission was launched in two separate parts: an orbiter and a multiprobe that was inserted into Venus’ atmosphere.

1980: Using 1.8-meter and 0.9-meter telescopes on Kitt Peak, UA-based Spacewatch explores the various small objects in the solar system, like planetoids, asteroids and comets.

1989: Launch of Galileo, a spacecraft to study Jupiter and its moons.

1990: Launch of Ulysses, designed to examine and study the Sun at close range.

1996: Launch of the Near-Earth Asteroid Rendezvous, or NEAR, spacecraft to study an asteroid close to Earth.

1996: Mars Pathfinder was a two-part craft that, after the Viking probes, was the third NASA mission to successfully land on Mars. LPL's Peter Smith built the Imager for Marts Pathfinder instrument.

1998: In response to a congressional directive, the UA-based Catalina Sky Survey watches for potentially hazardous objects, which in the course of their orbits threaten to collide with Earth. Together, the Catalina Sky Survey and the Spacewatch program have discovered more than half of the known near-Earth asteroids.

1997: Cassini-Huygens was sent to Saturn to study the planet and its multiple satellites. The Huygens lander successfully impacted on Saturn's moon Titan, recording its entire entry and landing via its Descent Imager/Spectral Radiometer, designed and operated by LPL's Marty Tomasko. LPL's Robert Brown leads the science team for the Cassini Visual and Infrared Mapping Spectrometer.

2001: Mars Odyssey, currently the longest-operating robotic spacecraft at Mars, discovered large quantities of frozen water on the red planet, using an instrument designed and built by LPL's Bill Boynton.

2004: Mercury Surface, Space Environment, Geochemistry, and Ranging – or MESSENGER – is the first spacecraft orbiting the planet Mercury, studying the planet's chemical composition, geology, and magnetic field.

2005: Designed to study comet 9P/Tempel, Deep Impact revealed that the comet has a greater composition of dust than ice.

2005: High Resolution Imaging Science Experiment, or HiRISE, is operated by the UA under the leadership of LPL's Alfred McEwen. It's the largest camera to ever go into deep space to collect images of the Martian surface.

2007: The Phoenix Mars Lander mission, under the direction of LPL's Peter Smith, was the first mission to Mars ever led by a university. It was also the first spacecraft to visit one of Mars' enigmatic polar regions

2016: The UA-led Origins Spectral Interpretation Resource Identification Security Regolith Explorer – or OSIRIS-REx – mission, under the direction of LPS's Dante Lauretta, will send a spacecraft to asteroid Bennu and return a sample by 2023.

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

To celebrate the numerous ways in which the University of Arizona helped pave the way for the "giant leap for mankind" made by NASA's Apollo 11 mission, LPL is hosting a free public event about lunar research – past, present and future – on Sunday. For a detailed program, visit the event website at


This feature is part of a UANews series on the UA's contributions to the planetary sciences. Also read:

Header image: YesNo Image: Subheading: For decades, UA scientists have contributed to the research that has shaped our understanding of our solar system and the universe – beginning with the Apollo 11 mission. Include in UANow: yesInclude in Olympic Coverage: noFeature on Olympic Page: noUANow Image: 

UA Engineering Camp Introduces Girl Scouts to STEM

Mon, 07/14/2014 - 14:45

The University of Arizona College of Engineering, in partnership with Girls Scouts of Southern Arizona, held the first-ever Imagine IT, a summer engineering camp for girls that is designed around search and rescue scenarios. The idea behind the camp was to get girls interested in the STEM disciplines – science, technology, math and engineering. Read more about the camp in this UANews story.

Video Thumbnail: Category(s): Science and TechnologyTeaching and StudentsYouTube Video:  UA's Imagine IT Engineering Camp Introduces Girl Scouts to STEM Video of UA's Imagine IT Engineering Camp Introduces Girl Scouts to STEM Feature Sticky: OffFeature on Front: NoMedium Summary: The University of Arizona College of Engineering, in partnership with Girls Scouts of Southern Arizona, held the first-ever Imagine IT, a summer engineering camp for girls that is designed around search and rescue scenarios. The idea behind the camp was to get girls interested in the STEM disciplines – science, technology, math and engineering.UANow Image: Date of Publication: Monday, July 14, 2014

Apollo 11: Reaching for the Moon

Mon, 07/14/2014 - 10:35

This guest column is part of a two-part blog series on UA's involved in the Apollo 11 mission. Also read "Apollo 11: Remembering One of the Most Important Moments in Human History." The package is part of UANews coverage on the UA Lunar and Planetary Laboratory's historic involvement with NASA missions. Also view "A Photographic History of the UA's Role in NASA Missions" and "Next-Generation Researcher Helps Continue UA Space Legacy."

When I was in high school in 1950, my girlfriend and I were walking along the beach on a moonlit night. At that time there were no manmade objects in orbit, and television was in its infancy.  I looked up at the moon and said, "Someday we will land on the moon."

She said I was crazy and that such ideas were only science fiction. Not wanting to upset her and ruin a beautiful evening, I quickly said that I did not mean in the near future but maybe in the futures of my children or grandchildren. She still thought I was crazy, and that was the end of the relationship. In those days the moon was considered an impossible goal, and the phrase "Reaching for the Moon" meant trying to attain the impossible.

UA alumnus Dale Shellhorn, who earned his degree in physics, was responsible for the first Earthrise image from Lunar Orbiter. Shellhorn was working for Boeing at the time.

I participated in the Apollo 8, 10 and 11 missions as a member of the Lunar Operations Working Group. We were responsible for recommending landing sites, science experiments, surface features to photograph from orbit, and determining the exact spot where the astronauts landed. We also studied and analyzed the images of the moon taken from orbit and on the ground.

During the Apollo 11 mission we were assembled in a building at the Manned Spacecraft Center in Houston, Texas. We were in contact with Mission Operation during the orbital insertion and landing of the spacecraft. During the final approach the astronauts determined that the landing site was strewn with numerous boulders that would have damaged the spacecraft upon landing. They continued on trying to find a safe landing site although they were running out of fuel. On the final approach they only had 15 seconds of fuel left. Mission control was counting down the seconds before exhausting the fuel: 15, 14, 13, 12, 11, 10, etc. We were all very nervous and anxious listening to the countdown.

With a sigh of relief they landed safely with only 5 seconds to spare.

We then had to locate their landing site from images televised back to Earth. It took us about a day to find the exact spot. 

I studied the Apollo images from a geologic perspective and briefed the astronauts on the surface features that they should image from orbit. I received an American flag they carried to the moon with the astronauts' signatures and a note of thanks. I also received a NASA certificate of appreciation for participating in the lunar program. The result of my participation resulted in numerous scientific publications.

The Apollo mission that landed men on the moon was one of the greatest and most remarkable achievements in human history. For the first time, humans left their home planet and set foot on another body with a completely foreign and hostile environment. One of the largest television audiences in history watched as humans stepped onto the surface of the moon and began gathering scientific information. This achievement was accomplished with a technology that would be considered primitive by today's standards. Today's laptop computers are orders of magnitude more sophisticated than the computers flown on the Apollo missions.

The legacy of the Apollo missions can be divided into two broad categories; one is psychological and the other is scientific.

Although Lunar Orbiter photographed the moon from lunar orbit, it was not until it photographed it in color that it grabbed people's attention. When the Apollo 8 astronauts photographed the Earth above the lunar surface there was an almost immediate and correct perception by the public that we live on a fragile planet isolated in space. For the first time people could see and easily understand Earth as a small, delicate object surrounded by only a thin, transparent atmosphere that separated them from oblivion. From this time onward the environmental movement has grown and flourished because it is now much easier to perceive how delicate a world we live in, and how easily its environment can be destroyed.

The scientific legacy of Apollo is more tangible. The moon has become a sort of Rosetta Stone of planetary science. The data obtained by Apollo has allowed us to determine the moon's composition, age and history, and these data in turn are used to understand the history of other solid bodies in the solar system. The ages of various lunar surfaces, together with impact crater abundances, have allowed us to date other planetary surfaces.

The Apollo missions were not accomplished without sacrifice, setbacks and loss of life, but that should be expected of any exploration as ambitious and dangerous as Apollo. It is, in fact, remarkable that there were so few setbacks and so little loss of life in such a dangerous undertaking.

We have just begun planning to send humans back to the moon sometime in the next 10 to 15 years. The United States, China, Japan, the European Union and India are already sending unmanned spacecraft to the moon in order to better understand it, and in preparation for human landings. China has stated that they will land humans on the moon in the near future. After almost decades of inaction, humans are finally preparing to revisit the moon.

I believe that 100 years hence historians will look upon this event as the grandest human achievement up to that time, and almost certainly the greatest achievement in the history of the United States.

Robert Strom is a University of Arizona professor emeritus in the Department of Planetary Sciences. Strom has investigated the impact cratering record on the solid bodies in the solar system. Strom also has investigated the possibility of ancient oceans and ice sheets located on Mars using images captured by Viking, the surfacing history of Venus from radar images taken by Magellan and features on Mars that are similar to landforms on Earth.

Categories: Science and TechnologyThis is a Wildcat Corner feature: Images: Tags: ResearchScienceFacultyByline: Robert Strom, the UA Department of Planetary Sciences |Editor: La Monica Everett-HaynesInclude in UANow: 0Date of Publication: Monday, July 14, 2014Medium Summary: UA scientist recalls the moon race on the 45th anniversary of the Apollo 11 landing. Feature on Front: NoShort Summary: UA scientist recalls the moon race on the 45th anniversary of the Apollo 11 landing.

UA South Students Headed for Fall Internships in DC

Wed, 07/09/2014 - 15:56

University of Arizona South students Beatriz Greeno and Juan Andres Espinoza have been selected for the Congressional Hispanic Caucus Institute's Congressional Internship Program.

A total of 28 students from higher education institutions across the nation were selected for the prestigious internship and will spend much of the fall semester working in congressional offices in Washington, D.C. As part of the program, the students will receive leadership training and must engage in community service work. The 12-week internship begins in late August and provides a stipend of $3,730.

"The students will get a rare opportunity to experience our government in action from the inside," said James W. Shockey, dean of UA South. 

"That is invaluable, whatever the individual's chosen career path," Shockey said. "But knowing our students, I have little doubt that they will leave just as big an impression on those they work with in the Arizona delegation, and will represent well the University of Arizona South as well as the communities of Douglas and Nogales."

Another UA student, Karen Lara, a graduate student studying public administration, is currently serving as a summer intern in the office of U.S. Rep. Raúl M. Grijalva.

"It truly is a remarkable opportunity to work in the U.S. House of Representatives at Washington, D.C.," Lara said about her two-month placement this summer.

"I am exposed to the political system and the legislative process in the most valuable way possible," said Lara, who provides tours and interacts with members of Congress, their staff and constituents. She also had has the opportunity to network with legislators, ambassadors, lawyers, business executives, directors of organizations and others.

"This internship program has provided me with the necessary tools and skills to further my professional career in the government sector," she said. "I am thankful for the opportunity to work in such a prominent environment this summer, and I hope that my contributions to Grijalva's office are helpful to the constituents." 

Several other UA students have served with the Congressional Hispanic Caucus Institute as fellows and interns. Alyssa Padilla was placed with the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, then Grijalva's office, in 2010; Tamara Castillon was placed in Grijalva's office in 2012; Jacquelyne Vega was placed in Grijalva's office in 2013.

Greeno aspires to work in law enforcement and would like to be involved in crafting immigration reform policies.

"I can be the person sitting across that desk making decisions. Like I told my husband, I could be the next one," said Greeno, a UA South psychology student in Douglas who transferred to the UA after receiving an associate's degree in criminal justice from Cochise College. 

"I know that this program will prepare me for what it is like in the real world, and that will help me in any kind of situation, personal or professional," Greeno said.

Espinoza, a UA South Santa Cruz student, said his long-term plans are to remain in the U.S.-Mexico border region improving access to education, especially for English language learners, and helping those new to higher education.

In April, he attended the Hispanic Association of Colleges and Universities meeting held in Washington, D.C., where he met government officials and observed legislative sessions in action on Capitol Hill.

Through the Congressional Hispanic Caucus Institute, Espinoza said he looks forward to learning more about community-based research and improving his communication skills, especially in public speaking. He also would like to better understand the inner workings of the U.S. government.

Espinoza – a Cochise College transfer student now studying applied sciences and human services – said he intends to use that knowledge to inform his studies and future career as a social worker.

"There are people who need a lot of help in my community, so I want to start with the community that helped me to grow and gave me support."

Editor: La Monica Everett-HaynesByline Affiliation: University Relations - CommunicationsHeader image: YesNo Image: Subheading: Two UA South students will be spending much of the fall semester in Washington, D.C. serving as congressional interns. Include in UANow: yesInclude in Olympic Coverage: noFeature on Olympic Page: noUANow Image: 

Tips for Preventing Wildfires

Mon, 06/30/2014 - 11:19

As people are gearing up for Fourth of July celebrations, and Arizona remembers the Yarnell Hill Fire a year later, it's important to be reminded of the high fire risk throughout much of the state.

Photo credit: Sam Beebe

As of Thursday, Arizona wildland fires have burned 139,378 acres from 783 human-caused and 50 lightning-caused fires – excluding prescribed fires, said fire expert Gregg Garfin, an assistant professor in the UA School of Natural Resources and the Environment.

The amount of acres burned so far this season already exceeds median acres that generally burn in Arizona throughout the entire fire season, Garfin also noted.

Here are some tips for campers, hikers, homeowners and others.

Pay attention to laws and fire restrictions

Fire restrictions vary throughout the state. Regardless, always check the weather and plan before taking a trip. Always take plenty of water for cooking, drinking and putting out any fires you start. Also, never burn when it is windy out, and never leave a fire unattended. Always check that a fire is out before leaving the area.

To learn more about restrictions, you can call the U.S. Forest Service hotline at 877-864-6985 and find fire restrictions online

And a word of warning: Fireworks and incendiary devices, like exploding targets and ammunition, are not allowed on federal public lands at any time.

Homeowners: Take extra care

Homeowners can plant fire-resistant plants, place wood piles and wooden picnic tables well away from buildings and remove needles and leaves from roofs to help protect homes.

Avoid using high-resin, fire-prone plant materials. Succulent ground covers, flowerbeds, vegetable gardens and broadleaf trees are better choices. Also, be sure to prune branches back at least 15 feet away from structures and keep grasses and lawns short and at least five feet away.

The UA's Cooperative Extension provides more information and tips online.

Be aware of the dangers your vehicle can pose

Avoid pausing or parking vehicles in tall grass or over shrubs, and do not park in areas where vegetation is touching the underside of your vehicle. Also, prevent safety chains and other trailer equipment from dragging, which can create sparks. 

Be preventive when it comes to equipment use

Be aware that mowers, chainsaws, welding torches and other equipment can create sparks, creating a risk for starting a fire. Before grooming your yard, remove rocks – which also can create sparks. Also, use a string trimmer in areas with high grass and weeds, or where many rocks are present.   

Always report wildfires

If you see a wildfire, do not hesitate to call 911.

Sources: Gregg Garfin, UA School of Natural Resources and the Environment; the UA College of Agriculture and Life Sciences; the Arizona Interagency Wildfire Prevention; and Firewise.

Categories: Science and TechnologyThis is a Wildcat Corner feature: Images: Tags: EducationOutreachResearchFacultyByline: University Relations - Communications |Editor: La Monica Everett-HaynesInclude in UANow: 0Date of Publication: Monday, June 30, 2014Medium Summary: Due to prolonged drought, high temperatures and winds, Arizona's forests and desert areas are extremely dry this year. Given these conditions, people are reminded of how to prevent and prepare for wildfires. Feature on Front: NoShort Summary: It's true: You can help prevent forest fires.

Arizona Facing High Fire Danger a Year After Yarnell

Mon, 06/30/2014 - 10:03

Photo courtesy of the Arizona Department of Health Services

It was one year ago that lightning struck and ignited the Yarnell Hill Fire, a devastating wildfire that resulted in the deaths of 19 firefighters who were members of the Granite Mountain Hotshots. This year, a combination of drought conditions, high winds and high temperatures all call for an intense fire season. Predictions indicate above-normal fire potential, and indicators suggest the onset of the monsoon season will be delayed.

Since October, we've had very low precipitation – averaging less than half of average across large portions of the state – accompanied by low snowpack and temperatures that have been well above average.

The combination of these factors, along with bursts of dry winds that are typical for the spring, gives us conditions of above-normal fire potential, which is what the Southwest Coordination Center, the main fire prediction center for our region, predicted beginning in late January.

And the setup for this year's fire season is ongoing drought, which affects every part of the state. The U.S. Drought Monitor characterizes drought in Arizona as severe across most of the state, and as extreme in Yavapai County and much of the southeastern quarter of the state.

As of June 24, Arizona wildland fire totals, not including prescribed fires, were 139,378 acres from 783 human-caused and 50 lightning-caused fires. The total acres burned thus far exceed the median acres burned for the state for the whole fire season.

In southern Arizona, we are just past the median date of peak seasonal fire danger, but the date can vary by two weeks in any given year. Peak seasonal fire danger for northwestern Arizona, including Yavapai County where the Yarnell Hill Fire occurred in 2013, is right now – June 30 through July 1 – according to maps provided by the Southwest Coordination Center. And, earlier this year, the Southwest Coordination Center predicted above normal fire potential for mid-May through mid-July, for the southeast quarter of Arizona, stretching northwest into Yavapai County.

The current "energy release component," which indicates how hot a fire could burn, is very high and is above 2013 levels across much of Arizona. This is just one measure of fire danger commonly used by fire analysts, expressing the potential intensity of a fire given the moisture content of fuels.

While it is not surprising at this time of year to see high short-term fire danger and above normal long-term potential for Arizona fires to require extra outside resources, such as air tankers and teams with highly specialized skills for fighting fires for putting out fires – this year's levels of fire danger are exceedingly high.

Any fire is devastating to the local community, and Arizona fires can have a lingering effect on the landscape, with post-fire effects such as flooding and debris flows. It is notable that we have not suffered an enormous Wallow or Rodeo-Chediski sized fire. The Slide Fire, which burned in Oak Creek Canyon in May and early June, was severe and it occurred in very steep terrain, which increases the chances of post-fire impacts. It is a testament to the fire-fighting community and its heightened preparedness for this year's fire season that the Slide Fire did not consume even greater acreage than the 21,227 acres burned by the fire.

Looking ahead, the arrival of summer monsoon precipitation is the key to putting a lid on Arizona's high fire potential.

However, the monsoon is notoriously difficult to predict. And predicting the arrival of the monsoon is even more difficult. Nevertheless, the Southwest Coordination Center predicts a delay to the start of the monsoon. Based on comparisons with previous years that had conditions similar to 2014, the Coordination Center predicts more reliable monsoon rains east of the Continental Divide, in New Mexico. Center specialists also note that less reliable moisture on the Arizona side of the divide can lead to the possibility of continued significant fire activity into July and possibly August.

See tips on how to prevent wildfires in this post.

Categories: Science and TechnologyThis is a Wildcat Corner feature: Images: Tags: ScienceFacultyResearchByline: Gregg Garfin, School of Natural Resources and the Environment |UANow Image: Editor: La Monica Everett-HaynesInclude in UANow: yesDate of Publication: Monday, June 30, 2014Medium Summary: A combination of drought conditions, high winds and high temperatures means the potential for an intense fire season, UA fire expert Gregg Garfin says in this guest blog.Feature on Front: YesShort Summary: The summer 2014 fire forecast.

Documentary Explores How the UA Helped Land a Man on the Moon

Wed, 06/25/2014 - 14:33

A documentary premiering next week tells the fascinating and surprising stories behind the groundbreaking work that enabled NASA astronauts to successfully touch down on the moon 45 years ago and led to the birth of the University of Arizona's Lunar and Planetary Laboratory in the process.

"Desert Moon" is the brainchild of Jason Davis, who recently graduated from the UA School of Journalism. Together with co-producer Shipherd Reed of the UA's Flandrau Science Center and Planetarium, he dug into the archives and found a surprisingly rich history of the University's involvement in the moon landings.

"I had heard about telescopes that UA scientists used to map the moon, but I didn't' know if there was even enough here to make this film," he said. "Once I started looking into it, I was just shocked to see how much the UA was involved, and it took off from there."

His exploration culminated with the completion of "Desert Moon," which premieres July 4 at the Flandrau Science Center, 1601 E. University Blvd. The film will be screened Mondays and Wednesdays at 2 p.m. and Fridays and Saturdays at 7 p.m.

The film tells the surprising story of renowned astronomer Gerard Kuiper, who came to the UA to study the moon and, with his team of lunar researchers, helped the U.S. get ahead in the space race by landing a man on the moon. In the process, NASA funded the construction of the UA's Lunar and Planetary Laboratory, now a world leader in planetary science, and began a golden age of solar system exploration.

The role that Kuiper and his team of UA researchers played in the moon landing has been obscured by time, but now their story of perseverance and ingenuity has been brought to the screen. Kuiper, the most famous among them, died in 1973, but the documentary features many of the men who worked alongside Kuiper during the heyday of the space race. Kuiper's name lives on, notably in the "Kuiper Belt," a swath of asteroids that orbit the sun farther out than the planets, and in the UA's Gerard P. Kuiper Space Sciences building, which houses the Lunar and Planetary Laboratory.  

"Desert Moon" explain how the groundwork laid by Kuiper and his team helped clear the way for one of the biggest moments in human history.

In 1961, when President John F. Kennedy boldly declared that the United States would land a man on the moon by the end of the decade, nobody knew if it would be possible. Surprisingly little was known about the moon at the time.

"We did not know what the composition of the moon was, we didn't know the physical state of the surface, whether you would sink into dust or whether it was rock," retired UA planetary scientist Robert Strom explains in the documentary.

Similarly, the maps that existed before Kuiper began to systematically map the surface of the moon were hand drawn and not adequate to send astronauts to the moon.

Long before the space race began, Kuiper was already looking for answers. At the University of Chicago's Yerkes Observatory, he published a groundbreaking photographic lunar atlas. To find the best telescope viewing, he looked to the Southwest. At the UA, he established the Lunar and Planetary Laboratory, one of the first planetary science research institutions in the world.

"Kuiper made the decision to make the move from Chicago in 1960, because the Southwest was the new place to be for space scientists," Davis said. "The best telescopes were here, as well as tall mountain ranges, dark skies and dry air."

Kuiper's team created detailed maps of the moon that were used by NASA to search for places where astronauts could land. He became the principal experimenter for the Ranger program, a series of missions designed to send a spacecraft to the moon for the first time and take up-close photos before it crash-landed. In the process, he established one of the first research institutions dedicated to just the solar system.

"Kuiper was visionary in that regard, one of the first to study the moon and the planets," Davis said. "At the time, that just wasn't being done. Today, LPL still is one of the leaders and involved in pretty much every NASA mission to the planets in our solar system."

The young lunar researchers on Kuiper's team were learning geology in order to understand what they were seeing on moon.

"They were the first to make detailed maps of the moon, to chart its many craters, to analyze the first close-up photos and characterize the geology of the lunar surface – all the science we needed before we could land a man on the moon," Davis said.

The research taking place at the Lunar and Planetary Laboratory provided the baseline science needed to land on the moon. Finally, on July 20, 1969 – after many missions to refine the capabilities of the U.S. space program – the Apollo 11 spacecraft landed on the moon, and hours later Neil Armstrong set foot on the lunar surface.

Kuiper's most lasting contribution was institutional. The UA's Lunar and Planetary Laboratory has trained generations of planetary scientists and has participated in every NASA spacecraft mission to explore our solar system. Thanks to the expertise built up by the lab, the UA has the distinction of being the only university to lead two NASA missions: the Phoenix Mars mission that found water at the Martian pole, and the OSIRIS-REx mission to take a pristine sample of an asteroid and return it to Earth for the first time.

The making of the documentary was funded by a NASA Space Grant administered through the Arizona Space Grant Consortium. LPL and the Flandrau Science Center and Planetarium provided additional support.

Watch the trailer:



Editor: Pila MartinezByline: Daniel StolteByline Affiliation: University Relations - CommunicationsHeader image: YesNo Image: Subheading: "Desert Moon" tells the fascinating story of how tenacity and bold thinking led to the founding of the UA's Lunar and Planetary Lab and helped the U.S. win the race to the moon.Include in UANow: yesInclude in Olympic Coverage: noFeature on Olympic Page: noUANow Image: 

NIH Awards UA $2M to Study Recovery of Language After Stroke

Wed, 06/11/2014 - 15:22

An interdisciplinary group of researchers at the University of Arizona has been awarded a $2 million grant from the National Institutes of Health to study language abilities in patients recovering from a stroke. The findings are expected to guide the development of treatments that would help patients regain as much of their language skills as possible.

"Speaking and comprehending language is something we take for granted. But when you think about the complexity of language, it's actually a very complicated process our brain has to carry out," said Stephen Wilson, an assistant professor in the UA Department of Speech, Language and Hearing Sciences and the principal investigator of the study. "There are several brain regions, mostly in the left hemisphere, that we know are important for speech and language. When one of these areas is damaged, you get aphasia."

One of the most common and debilitating consequences of a stroke is the loss of the ability to speak, read or write. Collectively referred to as aphasia, such acquired communication disorders affect about 1 million Americans.

Aphasia comes in many different forms. Depending on which part of the brain is affected, a patient may have difficulty producing spoken or written language, or a patient may speak rather fluently but have trouble retrieving the names for people and everyday objects, or in putting together sentences.

Unlike most previous studies on aphasia, which have looked at the effects of stroke on language six months to a year later, or have relied on a specific imaging technique to image the brain, the UA scientists are going to work with patients in the first three months after a stroke, and will combine language assessments with a comprehensive battery of brain imaging techniques.

"We know that a lot happens in those early days, weeks and months," Wilson said. "The greatest behavioral gains take place during this time – even when patients do not receive treatment – and by looking at the natural recovery process during that time, we can potentially understand more about what neural processes underlie successful recovery."

Depending on the severity of the stroke and the affected regions, the brain is able to restore some or nearly all language functions through rewiring of neural circuits or transferring language-processing tasks to regions unaffected by the stroke. The researchers hope to shed light on why some patients recover most or nearly all language functions, while others make few gains and remain chronically aphasic. A better understanding of the neural processes in successful recovery will improve the accuracy of prognoses. In other words, help doctors better predict the prognosis of stroke patients. This should lead to better medical treatments and behavioral interventions.

"It has been a challenge to study treatment before we understand the natural course of recovery," Wilson explained. "It's not really known whether it's a good idea to start treatment right away or whether it's better to wait."

The UA study will evaluate patients' language performance and simultaneously look at their brains with different imaging techniques to yield the best insight of the brain and how it functions in the wake of a stroke with regard to language tasks.

"If you want to know what is going on in the damaged brain, you have to look at it from all different angles," Wilson said. "We need to bring all of those imaging techniques to bear because any single one of them will show us only part of the picture."

The team will be analyzing the conditions under which patients improve and how quickly it happens, he said.

"In doing so, we hope to understand what is changing in their brain, what is changing in their language, and how those are related."

The five-year grant is administered through the National Institute on Deafness and Other Communication Disorders, which is part of NIH.

Wilson noted the combination of the UA's interdisciplinary academic culture and its world-class medical imaging facility. His department – part of the School of Mind, Brain and Behavior in the UA College of Science – has been ranked among the best in the U.S. for more than 25 years and has long been a leader in the study of stroke and aphasia treatment. This new study complements several research projects being conducted through the department that involve patients later in their recovery.

"This new project will provide a much richer understanding of the early recovery process for individuals, and will inform the rehabilitation work that we implement at later stages," said Pélagie Beeson, one of the collaborators on the study and head of the Department of Speech, Language and Hearing Sciences. Beeson is the lead investigator on a long-running research project focused on the development behavioral treatments to maximize the recovery from spoken and written language impairment after stroke.

Wilson said the UA study could lay the groundwork for clinical trials directed at new treatment strategies.

"Right now it would be hard to do a treatment trial of acute stroke, because we don't have a good sense of the natural course of recovery after stroke," Wilson said. "Things change very rapidly. If you were investigating a potential treatment strategy, and you tested someone one week after the stroke and again three weeks later, you would probably see substantial gains, but right now you wouldn't have any way of knowing whether those gains were due to the treatment or just represented the natural course of recovery."

The project brings together researchers on the language side and the neurology side, along with imaging experts. The co-investigators are Steven Rapcsak and Chelsea Kidwell, both professors in the UA Department of Neurology, and Kambiz Nael, assistant professor in the UA Department of Medical Imaging.

Undergraduates also have played a role, Wilson said.

"We couldn't have made this happen without the work of our outstanding undergraduate research students, who were instrumental in working with patients to gather the pilot data that helped us win this grant."

Writer: Daniel StolteByline: Daniel StolteByline Affiliation: University Relations - CommunicationsHeader image: YesNo Image: Subheading: An interdisciplinary team of UA researchers has received a $2.098 million grant to study recovery of language in the early phase of recovery after a stroke.Include in UANow: yesInclude in Olympic Coverage: noFeature on Olympic Page: noUANow Image: 

Using Engineering to Help an Otter Tweet

Tue, 06/10/2014 - 13:15

Some high school students in the University of Arizona's Engineering 102 course, an adapted version of the required introductory college course, have created projects that are directly helping members of the community. They're participating in Engineering Projects in Community Service High – or EPICS – a program that originated at Purdue University.

With local engineers acting as their mentors, students design, test and build a project throughout their senior year. In the process, they can make a useful product for a local organization and its clients. Along the way, they also make a better-informed decision of whether they want to become engineers.

On April 30, Salpointe Catholic High School hosted an EPICS Showcase on campus for students, parents, mentors and partnering organizations. Four groups of Salpointe seniors demonstrated their creations for local organizations: Ben's Bells, the Physics Factory, AIRES and the Arizona-Sonora Desert Museum.

The largest group, comprising four male and two female seniors, collaborated on a "tweeting otter" project for the Arizona-Sonora Desert Museum. Inspired by the "tweeting honey badger" on South Africa's Johannesburg Zoo website, staff members at the Arizona-Sonora Desert Museum wanted to be able to send tweets from their resident river otter to attract a younger crowd to the website and reach people who are unable to visit the museum. The project included researching and purchasing motion-sensor cameras for installation around the otter's living area; learning the Raspberry Pi system – a low-cost, credit card-sized computer – to enable transmission of the images to an email address; and setting up a Twitter site at the Desert Museum's website where staff could send otter tweets with photos out to the world.

Two students took on a project to help Ben's Bells, which encourages Tucsonans to paint ceramic bells and hang them from trees as a reminder to show kindness. The organization needed an attractive and portable display rack for its merchandise, so Salpointe seniors David Norris and Austin Parslow created a treelike display made of polished wood and rebar.

"I was attracted to EPICS because I wanted to get experience working with a real organization outside of school," Norris said.

Steven Spooner helped create a chaotic waterwheel for the Physics Factory, a nonprofit organization that brings science demonstrations into local schools.

"Our goal is simple," he said. "We want little kids to look at the waterwheel and get the idea that fluid dynamics is cool."

Another group of students was charged with building a strong, safe and portable wheelchair swing for the disabled residents of AIRES, an Arizona-based social service agency. The students received help from Creative Machines, a local art fabrication company. At the EPICS Showcase, students watched their creation in action, when a disabled client of AIRES rode the swing for the first time.

Presiding over the EPICS Showcase was Salpointe science teacher Sarah Streb.

"EPICS is the hardest but most important thing I do as a teacher," she said. "Many of the students develop real-world skills they would not have otherwise developed. They see what it means to work on a project with a real customer, with hard deadlines, and with real-life consequences. They realize they are capable of so much more than they give themselves credit for."

The American Society for Engineering Education recently recognized UA’s Engineering 102 course with the 2014 Best Practices in K-12 and University Partnerships award. Read more here.

EPICS Slideshow


Editor: Daniel StolteWriter: Jill GoetzByline: Jill Goetz for the College of EngineeringAdditional Keywords: epics engr102 salointe, engineering high school tweeting otterHeader image: YesNo Image: Subheading: With teachers, professional engineers and college faculty to mentor them, high school students enrolled in the College of Engineering's introductory engineering course have created projects that are helping the Tucson community.Include in UANow: 0Include in Olympic Coverage: noFeature on Olympic Page: no

UA Engineering Introductory Course for High School Students Wins National Award

Tue, 06/10/2014 - 12:45

Most children enter the world curious and imaginative, seemingly hard-wired to explore and influence their environment. Yet by the time they reach their teens, many lose their zest for making discoveries and testing their mettle – particularly in science, technology, engineering and math, and especially if they are female or members of minority groups.

It's a troubling trend that the University of Arizona is addressing by expanding STEM-related collaborations, curricula and funding opportunities.

One program that's making a big difference can be found at the UA College of Engineering, which for the last six years has offered Engineering 102 – an adapted version of its required introductory college course – to high school students.

The American Society for Engineering Education has recognized the program with the 2014 Best Practices in K-12 and University Partnerships Award. A team from the UA College of Engineering was set to receive the award at the ASEE annual conference, happening this week in Indianapolis.

College-Level Classes in High School

High school teachers teach the course over an academic year rather than one semester. Students who complete the course receive three units of college credit toward a UA engineering degree.

"It’s really valuable for our students to get a taste of the different areas of engineering in a familiar, comfortable setting," said Ben Davis, who has taught at several Arizona schools and on the Hopi and Navajo reservations and now teaches at Sahuaro High in Tucson.

"Activities that might seem dry or overwhelming can become enjoyable and second nature. After finishing a complicated coding project, my students can sit back and say, 'You know what? I can do this!'"

Students design, build, analyze and test a solar oven as their core project for the year. They also work on projects that cover wide-ranging fields of engineering and the sciences and require diverse skill sets. These projects have included solar go-karts and cellphone chargers, duct tape canoes and balsa wood bridges, computer games and software applications, Lego robotics and plastic foam airplanes, and prosthetic hands and artificial heart valves, to name a few.

Students learn that engineering affects many aspects of life and can give meaning to their own lives, whatever their circumstances and interests. 

Many high school students have no exposure to the engineering profession in their families or social circles, said the UA’s Jill Rogers, the course's program coordinator. "They may be daunted by the academic challenges of a university engineering degree and unaware of the opportunities such a degree can provide. A positive engineering experience with excellent instructors in a familiar environment can change that."

Above Average Diversity

The course is the brainchild of Jeff Goldberg, dean of the UA College of Engineering, and Fred DePrez, principal of Hamilton High School in Chandler, Arizona, where the program started in 2008 with 21 students. Since then, it has enrolled more than 1,000 students from 28 high schools in Arizona and one in California. About 23 percent of the students are female. Nationally, women make up about 18.8 percent of students enrolled in university engineering programs, according to a study cited by ASEE.

Thanks to significant partner support, the University can offer the course to high school students at a deeply discounted rate. Among major funders are the Science Foundation Arizona, which has provided $500,000, the Salt River Project, which has given $100,000, and Intel, which provided seed money for the project and more than $125,000 over the last five years. Other funders include Texas Instruments, John Deere and Raytheon.

Strong instructors, supported by UA College of Engineering through workshops and training, are key to the program’s success, said Jim Baygents, the college's associate dean for academic affairs.

Students Rise to the Challenge

Instructors from Tucson-area schools include University High School’s Mike Schmidt, who received the 2013 Southern Arizona Engineering Educator of the Year Award from the local chapter of the Society of Professional Engineers, and Palo Verde High Magnet School’s AnnMarie Condes, who received the same award in 2014.

The general consensus among instructors is that Engineering 102 high school students are exceeding expectations.

"The most surprising thing has been how much the students rise to the level of excellence that has been set for them," Schmidt said.

"They want to be engineers and attend the UA, and they see this as a wonderful opportunity. They come to each project and take it above and beyond anything I would expect," Condes added.

For some students, a highlight is touring the UA College of Engineering facilities and labs.

"They were polishing the mirrors during our tour, and they set up a station for us so we could watch," said Palo Verde student Emilio Martinez, who had never been on the UA campus before visiting the UA’s Steward Observatory Mirror Lab.

For many teachers, the highlight is attending a five-day summer workshop run by the UA College of Engineering at a local resort. At these intensive but informal gatherings, teachers work on projects for possible use in their own classes and share course materials.

"I’ve been to a lot of workshops in my 20 years of teaching, and let me tell you: This is a good one," Condes said. “I love brainstorming with teachers from all over Arizona and even California and getting to experience what they are doing in their courses.”

The teachers' enthusiasm is not lost on their students. Most don't want the course to end.

"In this class, I've discovered I love mechanical engineering – especially making robots and clocks," said Palo Verde student Isaiah Dodds. "If I didn’t have such a long bus ride home, I'd still be here, working on the projects, long after school lets out."

To learn more about other student projects, read the related story on UANews here

Solar Oven Throwdown

What starts out as a flimsy contraption held together by duct tape on the UA campus lawn may one day revolutionize how people prepare meals in less fortunate, remote parts of the world. Watch the slideshow and the video below for more. 


Editor: Daniel StolteWriter: Jill GoetzByline: Jill Goetz for the College of EngineeringAdditional Keywords: solar oven throw down UA engineering 102hsExtra Info: 

See related content:

Header image: YesNo Image: Subheading: The UA College of Engineering’s introductory course for high schoolers is garnering national accolades for its success in getting young students fired up about engineering careers and education. Include in UANow: yesInclude in Olympic Coverage: noFeature on Olympic Page: noUANow Image: 

In Step with the Pride of Arizona

Tue, 06/03/2014 - 12:56

What does it take to achieve excellence? According to Jay Rees, director of the Pride of Arizona Marching Band, it boils down to a willingness to make the sacrifices and do the hard work. Named one of the top five bands in the nation in 2009, the Pride of Arizona knows how to get it done, and they bring the fans to their feet every time.

Video Thumbnail: Category(s): Campus NewsYouTube Video:  In Step with the Pride of Arizona Video of In Step with the Pride of Arizona Feature Sticky: OffFeature on Front: NoMedium Summary: What does it take to achieve excellence? According to Jay Rees, director of the Pride of Arizona Marching Band, it boils down to a willingness to make the sacrifices and do the hard work. Named one of the top five bands in the nation in 2009, the Pride of Arizona knows how to get it done, and they bring the fans to their feet every time.UANow Image: Date of Publication: Tuesday, June 3, 2014

Med Students Learn From High-Tech 'Patients'

Mon, 06/02/2014 - 15:26

The Arizona Center for Simulation and Experiential Learning at the University of Arizona College of Medicine – Phoenix gives students real-life experience with the help of mechanically controlled mannequins. The realistic "patients" can simulate everything from human sweat to lost limbs and childbirth and allow medical students to learn hospital care without fear they're going to hurt or harm a real patient.   

Video Thumbnail: Category(s): HealthYouTube Video:  Sim Lab Final Video of Sim Lab Final Feature Sticky: OffFeature on Front: NoMedium Summary: Students at UA College of Medicine – Phoenix are getting real-life experience with the help of mechanically controlled mannequins. The realistic "patients" can simulate everything from human sweat to lost limbs and childbirth.UANow Image: Date of Publication: Monday, June 2, 2014