Tag Archives: NAU

123rf.com:  Johan Swanepoel

NASA honors NAU for asteroid observations

A team led by David Trilling, associate professor of astronomy at Northern Arizona University, has been selected to receive a NASA Group Achievement Award.

According to NASA, the Spitzer Near Earth Asteroid Team is being recognized “for exemplary science implementation, analysis and execution of the Spitzer 2011 MD and 2009 BD near-Earth Asteroid Observations for NASA’s Asteroid Redirect Mission.” Trilling, NAU post-doctoral researcher Michael Mommert and colleagues from four other institutions participated in the research.

The award will be presented Tuesday, June 30, during a ceremony in California hosted by NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory.

“It is terrific to get this recognition from NASA as a thank-you for the work we did in support of their space mission planning,” Trilling said. “It was a fun a project, and we learned some new important things about asteroids in doing it. To get this acknowledgement from NASA is just icing on the cake.”

The project involved the observation of two small asteroids in support of NASA’s proposed Asteroid Redirect Mission. Trilling explained that NASA originally planned to capture a small asteroid and bring it back to Earth orbit, and the team’s observations helped determine whether either of the two best candidate asteroids would allow for a successful mission.

Trilling said that NASA has since decided not to proceed with capturing an asteroid. Now the plan is to pick up a boulder off of a larger asteroid instead.

“I think our observations of the two small asteroids convinced NASA that the capture plan was too risky,” Trilling said.

Stephen Tegler, professor and chair of NAU’s Physics and Astronomy Department, praised Trilling and Mommert for the importance and prestige of their work, as well as “the general importance of telescope observations in supporting our country’s space program.”

college_students

Universities scramble to balance budgets after state cuts

At Northern Arizona University, Christopher Gass said he and other engineering students looked forward to having a new building to house the 3-D printers, machines such as laser cutters and other technology they need to complete capstone design projects.

But with Arizona’s public universities losing $99 million in state funding in the recently approved state budget, NAU has dropped plans for the building to help absorb that school’s $17 million hit.

“It’s pretty disappointing,” said Gass, who is studying mechanical engineering. “The entire year, they had planned the building down to the room.”

While universities are still formulating plans for the budget year that begins July 1, some details are starting to emerge.

At Arizona State University, President Michael M. Crow said in an interview with The State Press last week that seeking a tuition increase, something he had said wasn’t on the table, is now a possibility because of the depth of ASU’s cut: $54 million.

“Our total cut since 2008 on a per-student basis is above a 50 percent reduction on the public investment,” Crow said. “We’ve already had furloughs, we’ve already had 1,800 layoffs. We already restructured the institution. We have already made massive changes to everything that we are doing.”

Joe Cutter, director and professor of Chinese at the ASU School of International Letters & Cultures, told students in an email that the availability of some courses will be reduced. He mentioned Hindi as an example.

“We don’t have much to cut this time,” the email said. “It is very likely that we will not be able to offer some classes needed by students.”

At the University of Arizona, which faces a $28 million cut, Andrew Comrie, senior vice president for academic affairs and provost, said in an interview that while the funding cuts will be hard to take the school is committed to making it so no group bears the whole load.
“Tuition announcements will be out soon, and we have a proposal that really does not burden the students,” he said. “We’ve had extensive discussions with our student leadership over the last few months, and we’ve had a team-based approach on how we want to set tuition, and I just really want to recognize the leadership role the student played in shaping a budget proposal.”
Tom Bauer, director of the Office of Public Affairs at NAU, said the university wouldn’t be making any cuts to academics.

“We are not spreading this $17 million reduction across everything equally,” he said. “It’s divided on what will best serve students.”

In a letter to students about the cut, NAU President Rita Cheng said all hiring must be “carefully considered,” including her office approving any new positions. It said all travel must be approved by the university’s vice presidents and provost.

“We had been expecting cuts for several weeks, but the higher number significantly changes the scale of all that has been considered thus far,” her letter said.

Crow said ASU’s cut, which amounts to 15 percent per student, reflects an era in which public support for higher education is dwindling lower than ever before. listen

While ASU’s plan had been to reduce expenses in ways that don’t affect students, it might be unavoidable given the scale of the cut.

“We are doing everything we can to not raise in-state tuition,” he said. “We do, however, have an unprecedented financial adjustment that was unanticipated. So we have not made our final thinking on any of this yet.”

Pima Community College, which along with Maricopa Community Colleges lost all of its state funding, is raising in-state tuition by $5 per credit hour to $75.50 and out-of-state tuition by $23 per credit hour to $352 for the upcoming school year. The state eliminated $6.8 million in funding for PCC, which has a budget of $170 million this school year.

“There was already anticipation that funding would be gradually reduced, but not totally cut altogether,” spokeswoman Jodi Horton said.

Ducey said during Thursday’s Arizona Board of Regents meeting that he is going to partner with university presidents to redesign higher education.

The UA’s Comrie said he welcomes the governor’s proposal.

“We’ve had very good discussions with him already,” Comrie said. “We have to be realists of what the budget will look like, and we are partnering on doing that.”

Public university cuts:

• NAU: $17 million (from $118.3 million in fiscal 2015)

• ASU: $54 million (from $349.3 million in fiscal 2015)

• UA: $28 million (from $278.9 million in fiscal 2015)

Source: Joint Legislative Budget Committee

 

bioscience

What would you do with a billion dollars?

Last week, Representative Bob Robson , Speaker pro tempore of the Arizona House of Representatives introduced House Bill 2033 which would create a funding vehicle to enable our universities to maintain and expand our research infrastructure at that level.

At a time when the state is projecting a $500 million budget shortfall in fiscal 2014-15 and projected $1 billion shortage in the following fiscal year, some people might say that making bold investments at a time when dollars are tight is something we cannot afford to do. Yet, if we are truly committed to building a diversified and stronger economy, one that will benefit our state today and into the future, we can’t afford not to.

It was Robson’s bill in 2003 that made $500 million worth of financing available for the construction of new research facilities at our universities including the ASU Biodesign Institute, UA BIO5, Research Facilities at NAU, components of the Phoenix Biomedical Campus, and more. Economic analysis of this initial investment has shown that each dollar invested generated seven dollars in return.

These facilities and the work that occurs within their walls serve as a magnet to attract great talent. These facilities are places where our students gain the practical experience that will enable them to become our future leaders. These facilities are the place where we begin the process of discovery, development, and delivery that leads to the creation of life changing innovations that will benefit people here in Arizona and around the world.

Since the creation of these facilities, Arizona’s Bioscience Industry has grown. Jobs in bioscience related fields have increased by 45 percent, nearly four times greater than the nation. While not every one of these jobs is directly related to our university research infrastructure, all of them depend on both it and the credibility is gives to our growing bioscience sector which in 2014 again moved up in the national rankings.

In 2014, the Flinn Foundation published the second generation of the Arizona Bioscience Roadmap, a renewed commitment and a plan developed collaboratively by leaders from across Arizona. In its opening pages it reads:

“To achieve the Roadmap’s vision, five transformative steps are recommended: make risk capital more readily available to Arizona’s early-stage bioscience firms; boost the research revenues of the state’s research-performing institutions; further develop the research infrastructure at the state universities; attract industry and research anchors; and develop ties to economic partners in neighboring markets. Achieving these steps will require a profound increase in investment, primarily from the private sector but with key public-sector investments playing a necessary and vital role. Going forward, Arizona should continue its strategy to focus resources and efforts on areas where it excels.”

It is not the State of Arizona’s job to accomplish all of these things. It will take all of us, working together, reaching out nationally and internationally, and in ways that are both creative and sustainable.

Representative Robson has again offered us a catalyst for innovation and economic growth. In science, a catalyst is a substance that speeds up a chemical reaction, but is not consumed by the reaction; hence a catalyst can be recovered chemically unchanged at the end of the reaction it has been used to speed up, or catalyze. HB2033 crates an economic catalyst which when it becomes law can generate the energy and economic impact we need to take our economy and our state to new levels of success, and through its design be recovered through the economic gains it will create.

Instead of lamenting on what we don’t have, it’s time to build on what we do. Now is our opportunity, as industry and as Arizonans, to get behind HB 2033 and catalyze strategic investments in Arizona’s future.

Joan Koerber-Walker is President and CEO of the Arizona Bioindustry Association and Chairman of the State Medical Technology Alliance in Washington, D.C.

Lisa Autino joins Caliente Construction

Lisa Autino

Lisa Autino


Caliente Construction welcomed Lisa Autino, CPA, CCIFP as the organization’s new controller on Thursday. Autino will manage the accounting operations, financial community relationships and lead the effort for continuous improvement in the financial and project management platforms of the firm.

Autino began her career in public accounting after graduating from NAU in 1986 with a Bachelor of Science degree in Accountancy.  In 1992 she entered the construction industry as controller for one of the Valley’s major electrical subcontractors and in 2001 became CFO and a minority owner.

Committed to educational and professional organizations and mentoring programs at NAU and in the community, Autino is on the W.A. Franke College of Business (FCB) National Advisory Board for NAU and in 2010 she established a scholarship for undergraduates in the College of Business at NAU. She participates in the Executive Job Shadow Program, BizBlock and in 2011 was nominated and selected to enter the FCB Alumni and Faculty Hall of fame.  Autino currently mentors students in the NAU Business Leadership Program and through St. Vincent de Paul’s One- At- A-Time program. She is also an active member in the Valley of the Sun chapter of CFMA, and has served in every officer role in the organization.

“We are so pleased Lisa has joined our team,” says Caliente’s President Lorraine Bergman. “Her reputation, commitment to community and experience align perfectly with Caliente’s values, culture and future goals.”

wildfire

How Arizona wildfires impact water supply, economy

Arizona is home to the largest contiguous ponderosa pine forest in North America, with a single stand stretching from near Flagstaff all the way to the White Mountains of the east.

And in the last 10 years, 25 percent of it burned, said Patrick Graham, Arizona state director for the Nature Conservancy.

Fire suppression and subsequent cleanup costs have risen far beyond estimated prevention costs, according to studies by the Nature Conservancy, Sierra Nevada Conservancy, the U.S. Forest Service and the Ecological Restoration Institute (ERI) at Northern Arizona University (NAU), among others.

The tourism industry in Arizona, an estimated 20 percent of the state’s economy, is largely dependent on the health of forested lands and other wildlife preserves, a 2007 report by the Governor’s Health Oversight Council stated.

But “wildfires affect the entire state — not just the north,” said Eric Marcus, executive director at the Northern Arizona Sustainable Economic Development Initiative.

A full-cost economic analysis of the 2010 Schultz fire outside of Flagstaff by the ERI revealed the deeper effect of forest fires. More than 15,000 acres of forest were burned, causing an estimated $147 million in economic damage, the report found. An investment of only $15 million could have prevented this catastrophe, said Marcus.

Fire and water

But most of the damage from these wildfires occurs after the fire has been extinguished.

When major wildfires remove the trees and grasses necessary for holding soil in place, a once standard rainstorm can now cause dangerous floods and massive erosion, filling up the reservoirs and ultimately decreasing the carrying capacity of our water supply, said Bruce Hallin, director of water rights and contracts with the Salt River Project.

“These catastrophic wildfires go in and the fire burns so hot that it burns everything,” said Hallin. “It turns it into this wasteland.”

But nothing can hold back sediment from flowing directly into the water supply if a fire were to ignite downstream from the reservoirs, such as the Sunflower fire in 2012. If ash-laden water were to be delivered to processing plants, treatment costs would increase dramatically, thus increasing the price of the water, said Marcus.

The 2002 Hayman fire in Colorado deposited more than 1 million cubic yards of sediment into Denver’s primary drinking water supply. To this day, cleanup is still underway to restore Strontia Springs Reservoir, with costs exceeding $150 million.

“Ultimately, through forest thinning, we don’t want to get to that point,” said Hallin.
One century ago, Arizona’s northern forests were more akin to open grasslands interspersed with towering ponderosas. Ignited by lightning, the grass beneath the trees would carry a smoldering fire along the ground, burning the young trees while only charring the thick bark of the older, more established ponderosas.

Need for thinning

But Arizona’s northern forests have “all departed from the way they were historically,” said Diane Vosick, director of policy and partnerships at ERI.

When grazing came through in the late 1800s and removed all of the grass, fires could no longer move through the forest naturally. Bare soil — which resulted from result over-grazing — allowed the pines to germinate seeds more easily. However, when fires did ignite, the U.S. Forest Service fire policy at the time required any and all fires to be extinguished. This fire policy went unchanged until 1995, allowing millions of young ponderosas and other vegetation to crowd the once-thin forest.

A study conducted by ERI Director Wally Covington found that historically, Arizona’s ponderosa forests contained roughly 25 trees per acre. But now, one acre of forest can contain more than a thousand trees.

“You’ve basically got a big wood pile out there waiting to burn,” said Vosick.

SRP, the water supplier for more than half of Phoenix and nearly all of Tempe, manages eight reservoirs deep within Arizona’s northern region.

“That’s the goal,” said Vosick. “You want fire to do its natural role and to help manage the forests.”

The Four Forest Restoration Initiative, or 4FRI, is a collaborative effort comprised of residents, industry, and the government to restore the Coconino, Kaibab, Apache-Sitgreaves and Tonto national forests through thinning and prescribed burning.

Vosick said that 4FRI hopes to have thinned at least 1 million acres of forested land within 20 years.

However, almost no thinning has taken place in nearly five years since the initiative began.

Seeking a solution

“Forest lands have been managed for the last 20 years through litigation and attorneys, not projects,” said Hallin. Because of these legal barriers, Northern Arizona’s timber industry has all but vanished. So even the lands that have been approved for thinning cannot receive the treatment prescribed because there is no longer any industry to do the work, he said.

“You can make money with big old trees, but we don’t want those trees taken out of the forest,” said Marcus. Private enterprise doesn’t want to invest because no money can be made from the small diameter trees, he said.

The only way to thin the forests in a timely manner is through convincing industry that their investment will not be inhibited by litigation because the federal government can’t do it by itself, Hallin said. “The fact of the matter is, without a successful forest products industry, that entire forest is going to burn.”

SRP, in conjunction with the National Forest Foundation, has created the Northern Arizona Forest Fund, enabling individuals and businesses to invest in restoring the lands that provide them water.

“We don’t need to do more research to know what our problem is; we need to generate public interest in fixing things,” said Marcus.

“You can pay me now, or you can pay me later. But if you pay me now, you pay me a fraction of what you’re going to pay me later and have nowhere near the devastating effects that you’re going to have down the road.”

stk99406cor

TGen and NAU pandemic flu test patent approved

The federal government has awarded a patent to the Translational Genomics Research Institute (TGen) and Northern Arizona University (NAU) for a test that can detect — and assist in the treatment of — the H1N1 pandemic flu strain.

TGen and NAU initially developed this precise, genomics-based test during a significant global swine flu outbreak in 2009.

The newly-patented test, developed at TGen’s Pathogen Genomics Division (TGen North) in Flagstaff, can not only detect influenza — as some tests do now — but also can quickly inform doctors about what strain of flu it is, and whether it is resistant to oseltamivir (sold by Roche under the brand name Tamiflu), the primary anti-viral drug on the market to treat H1N1.

As with other influenza strains, H1N1 flu can over time be expected to show signs of resistance to oseltamivir, and new treatments will be needed to respond to future pandemics.

“The problem with influenza is that it can become resistant to the antiviral drugs that are out there,” said Dr. Paul Keim, Director of TGen North, a Regents Professor of Biology at NAU and one of the test’s inventors. “Because it is a virus, it easily mutates and becomes resistant.”

David Engelthaler, Director of Programs and Operations for TGen North and another of the test’s inventors, said this flu detection and susceptibility test uses a molecular technique that rapidly makes exact copies of specific components of H1N1’s genetic material.

“Many people, including physicians, don’t realize that the pandemic swine flu strain from 2009 is still the most important flu strain out there. This assay is very effective with detecting and characterizing this dominant strain in the U.S. and around the world,” said Engelthaler, the former State Epidemiologist for Arizona, and former State of Arizona Biodefense Coordinator.

The third inventor of the test is TGen North Lab Manager Elizabeth Driebe.

Previously, only the U.S. Centers for Disease Control Prevention (CDC) and a few select labs could look for resistance, using time-intensive technology.

“This new test puts the power in the hands of the clinician to determine if their drugs will work or not. This is really important moving forward as we discover new strains that are resistant to antivirals,” Engelthaler said.

The World Health Organization (WHO) has identified dozens of instances in which H1N1 was resistant to Tamiflu.

At most doctors’ offices, there is no readily available test for H1N1. Such tests generally are conducted by state and federal health agencies, and usually for those patients who require hospitalization and appear at high risk because they have a suppressed immune system or they have a chronic disease.

“Our test measures minute amounts of virus and minute changes to the virus. Not only does it detect when resistance is occurring, but it also detects it at the earliest onset possible,” Engelthaler said.

This new patent — No. US 8,808,993 B2, issued Aug. 19 by the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office — could be licensed for development of test kits or for development of a testing service.

Earlier this year, TGen-NAU celebrated its first joint patent for a genomics-based test that can identify most of the world’s fungal infections that threaten human health.

stem.cell

TGen and NAU celebrate 5-year research pact

Northern Arizona University (NAU) and the Translational Genomics Research Institute (TGen) announced a five-year agreement to promote innovation and quality research benefiting Arizona.

The NAU-TGen Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) implements the allocation of state funding as directed by Governor Jan Brewer and the Arizona Legislature, and reaffirms the commitment of both institutions toward quality research, training and educational opportunities, protection of public health and improved patient care. The Governor and Legislature recommitted state funding support as part of the 2014-15 state budget, recognizing the positive dividends from a viable, competitive bioindustry in Arizona.

“TGen has played a valuable role in developing and advancing Arizona’s bioscience industry,” said Governor Brewer. “From delivering medical breakthroughs and first-rate research — to creating quality jobs and growing our economy — TGen is a shining example of the innovative companies we seek to attract and expand in Arizona. By enhancing the successful partnership between TGen and NAU, we can ensure that both our bioscience industry and our economy will continue to thrive for years to come.”

NAU and TGen also announced today that the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office has approved a patent for a new set of genetically-based tests, jointly developed by NAU and TGen, that accurately identify fungal pathogens that threaten public health worldwide. Broad-based identification of fungi is essential for clinical diagnostics and also for environmental testing. This is the first of many patents anticipated through NAU-TGen collaborations.

The two institutions also are celebrating other joint research, including highly accurate, genetically-based tests for detecting and monitoring Valley Fever, influenza and different types of staph bacteria infections, especially the potentially deadly Methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus, also known as MRSA.

These achievements, and numerous other collaborations underway between NAU and TGen, will be celebrated at 2 p.m. today at NAU’s Applied Research and Development building.

The NAU-TGen developed genetic-based tests allow real-time tests in any location, including laboratories, but also clinics, physician offices, emergency rooms and even field settings. Immediate diagnosis of pathogens is a critical part of TGen’s push for precision medicine, in which patients receive the correct treatments as quickly as possible, speeding their recovery and saving lives.

The genetic-based tests for various pathogens were developed by a team from NAU and TGen that includes Dr. Paul Keim, Director of TGen’s Pathogen Genomics Division (also known as TGen North) in Flagstaff, and a Regents Professor and Cowden Endowed Chair in Microbiology at NAU.

“These advanced diagnostics have far reaching implications for protecting public health, quickly treating patients and lowering the cost of healthcare,” Dr. Keim said. “Through our joint NAU-TGen research, we are continuing to develop tools and technologies that have a great impact on human health.”

This joint effort has generated other intellectual property, stimulated the founding of a startup company, and now generates licensing revenues for both NAU and TGen.

“Our relationship with TGen exemplifies the importance of the biosciences to NAU and to Arizona’s economy,” said NAU President John Haeger. “An important mission of our university is to produce research with direct benefits to the state and to the world, and together with TGen that is what we are accomplishing. We look forward to much more.”

Dr. Jeffrey Trent, TGen President and Research Director, praised President Haeger, Gov. Brewer and the Arizona Legislature for helping ensure TGen’s continuing role in stimulating local research that directly benefits Arizona patients.

“We are enormously grateful to Governor Brewer and the state Legislature, particularly the leadership, for their continuing confidence and support in us,” said Dr. Trent. “In addition, as demonstrated by the leadership and cooperation of President Haeger, Dr. Keim and NAU, there is no question that these types of collaborations between universities and research institutions can result in significant commercial applications.”

Rita Cheng

Cheng succeeds Haeger as NAU president

The Arizona Board of Regents has approved the selection of Rita Cheng as president of Northern Arizona University.

The vote came during a special board meeting Wednesday in Phoenix.

Cheng has been the chancellor of Southern Illinois University in Carbondale since mid-2010. She’ll begin as NAU’s 16th president on Aug. 15.

The regents will be looking to Cheng to increase enrollment at the university that serves 26,000 students at dozens of campuses statewide and online.

Cheng will earn an annual base salary of $390,000 under her three-year contract. She’ll also get yearly allowances of $10,000 for a vehicle and $50,000 for housing.

Cheng succeeds John Haeger, who served 13 years as NAU president. He plans to remain at the school as a professor in higher education leadership and governance.

97501388

Cole Real Estate Investments, Inc. Announces Tender Offer

Cole Real Estate Investments, Inc., (NYSE: COLE), formerly known as Cole Credit Property Trust III, Inc., announced today that it has commenced a modified “Dutch auction” tender offer to purchase for cash up to $250 million in value of its shares of common stock on the terms and subject to the conditions described in its Offer to Purchase dated June 20, 2013. Under the terms of the tender offer, the company intends to select the lowest price, not greater than $13.00 nor less than $12.25 per share, net to the tendering stockholder in cash, less any applicable withholding taxes and without interest, which would enable the company to purchase the maximum number of shares having an aggregate purchase price not exceeding $250 million. Stockholders may tender all or a portion of their shares of common stock. Stockholders also may choose not to tender any of their shares of common stock. If the tender offer is oversubscribed, shares will be accepted on a prorated basis, subject to “odd lot” priority. The company intends to fund the purchase price for shares of common stock accepted for payment pursuant to the tender offer, and all related fees and expenses, from available cash and/or borrowings under the existing senior unsecured credit facility.

The tender offer and withdrawal rights will expire at 5:00 p.m., New York City time, on August 8, 2013, unless the tender offer is extended or withdrawn. If stockholders elect to tender shares of common stock, they must choose the price or prices at which they wish to tender their shares and follow the instructions described in the Offer to Purchase, the related letter of transmittal and the other documents related to the tender offer filed with the Securities and Exchange Commission.

paying_for_online_education

NAU Introduces Personalized Learning

Ushering in a new chapter in 21st century higher education, Northern Arizona University (NAU) announced the launch of its Personalized Learning program, offering accredited, competency-based online bachelor’s degrees for just $5,000 a year. Initial degrees include Computer Information Technology, Liberal Arts and Small Business Administration. Students can begin the application process at www.nau.edu/personalizedlearning.

“Personalized Learning marks a watershed moment in higher education,” said John Haeger, president of Northern Arizona University. “As the first public university to launch this kind of competency-based program, Northern Arizona University is opening an entirely new level of access to a respected university education.”

Unlike standard online courses that offer repackaged content from traditional classrooms, or today’s popular MOOCs (Massively Open Online Courses), NAU’s Personalized Learning program enables students to earn a bachelor’s degree online in a time- and cost- effective manner by crediting their existing knowledge and tailoring coursework to their learning preferences.

“Personalized Learning takes the learning objectives of traditional college coursework and reorganizes them to be more engaging and applicable to today’s workplace,” said Fred Hurst, senior vice president, NAU-Extended Campuses and creator of Personalized Learning. “This program is about creating a skilled and inspired adult workforce with the necessary critical thinking skills that meet the demands of employers.”

carbon

TGen, NAU awarded $2 million to study biodiversity

Potential connections between the biodiversity of soil microorganisms and the carbon cycle will be studied by the Translational Genomics Research Institute (TGen) and Northern Arizona University (NAU) under a $2 million grant from the National Science Foundation (NSF).

The TGen-NAU project was one of 14 recently awarded a grant by NSF under the Dimensions of Biodiversity program.

“The work will test the idea that biodiversity is a fundamental driver of the carbon cycle, connecting microbes to the entire Earth system,” said Dr. Bruce Hungate, Professor of Biology and a Director in NAU’s Merriam-Powell Center for Environmental Research.

The project will investigate “a surprising response” to changes in soil carbon levels: When new carbon enters the soil, a chain reaction leads to the breakdown of older soil carbon that otherwise would have remained stable, Dr. Hungate said.

“Current theory does not explain this chain reaction,” Dr. Hungate said. “The project will explore new dimensions connecting the diversity of the tree of life with the carbon cycle.”

TGen’s role in the project leverages advances in metagenomic sequencing — spelling out the DNA code of microbial samples from the environment  —made by Dr. Lance Price, Director of TGen’s Center for Microbiomics and Human Health, and Dr. Cindy M. Liu, a medical doctor and researcher at both TGen and NAU, who now works for Johns Hopkins University.

“This project is a natural extension of our efforts to understand how the human microbiome responds to injuries, surgeries and chemicals,” Dr. Price said. “Here, we’re investigating how the planet’s microbiome responds to excess carbon inputs, which may in turn loop back to negatively affect public health.”

The work is important, Dr. Hungate said, because soil carbon is a major reservoir in the global carbon cycle, storing about three times the amount of carbon contained in the atmosphere as carbon dioxide. Some soil processes promote carbon storage, locking it away in stable forms, resistant to decay.

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TGen’s Keim named AZBio’s 2012 Bioscience Researcher of the Year

TGDr. Paul Keim, Director of the Pathogen Genomics Division of the Translational Genomics Research Institute (TGen) and the Cowden Endowed Chair of Microbiology at Northern Arizona University (NAU), will receive the 2012 Bioscience Researcher of the Year award from the Arizona BioIndustry Association (AZBio).

“Dr. Keim was nominated by members of the Arizona Bioscience Community and selected by an independent, statewide panel of leaders for this recognition of his research and innovation in the field of pathogen genomics and microbiology,” said AZBio President and CEO Joan Koerber-Walker.

His award will be presented at the 7th annual AZBio Awards on Oct. 23 at the Phoenix Convention Center. An industry showcase and student discovery session are scheduled from 3-5:30 p.m., and the awards gala is from 6-9 p.m.

“AZBio’s recognition of Dr. Keim is extraordinarily well deserved,” said TGen President and Scientific Director Dr. Jeffrey Trent. “Paul’s unique achievements in interpreting the microbial genomes of pathogens — both those that naturally cause disease, but also those made into weapons by terrorists — are of profound importance.  His research, coupled to his dedications to his students and to the cause of public health globally, place him in the upper echelon of premier scientists, and puts Arizona on the map in this critical growing area of research.”

Dr. Keim is a world-renowned expert in anthrax and other infectious diseases. At TGen and NAU he directs investigations into how to bolster the nation’s biodefense, and to prevent outbreaks — even pandemics — of such contagions as flu, cholera, E. coli, salmonella, and even the plague.

“Our science has been completely transformed by the rapid advancements of technology. Now, TGen’s job is to rapidly advance our science to make great impacts on human health. We have that ability, therefore, we feel that we have that responsibility,” said Dr. Keim, a Professor at TGen and Regents Professor of Microbiology at NAU.

Dr. Keim also is Director of NAU’s Microbial Genetics & Genomics Center, a program that works with numerous government agencies to help thwart bioterrorism and the spread of pathogen-caused diseases.

Since 2004, he has been a member of the federal government’s National Science Advisory Board for Biosecurity (NSABB). He helped draft national guidelines for blunting bioterrorism while elevating ethical standards and improving the quality of scientific research. Dr. Keim’s work at the NSABB includes recently serving two years as the acting Chair.

While TGen this year celebrates a decade of progress, TGen’s Pathogen Genomics Division, also known as TGen North in Flagstaff, is celebrating five years of protecting human health though genomic investigations of some of humankind’s most deadly microbes.

“Paul Keim’s work ranges broadly — from plague in prairie dogs, to cholera in Haiti,” said NAU Provost Laura Huenneke. “Here at NAU, literally hundreds of students, both undergraduate and graduate, have participated in that research and launched from there into successful careers. His research group has also grown into the strong partnership between the university and TGen North — a huge economic development dividend for Flagstaff.’’

Flagstaff_NAU_Skydome

NAU poised to set enrollment records

Based on the first week of student registration, Northern Arizona University’s Mountain Campus appears to be on track for another year of record enrollment.

A university spokesman says the incoming freshman class totals about 4,100 and enrollment in Flagstaff is up by 700 to 18,200.

Both of those marks would be records.

Statewide, enrollment at NAU is expected to top 26,000 students.

The Arizona Daily Sun says the official count will come on the 21st day of classes at NAU.

StemCellSciCamp08_5619

Nearly $1 billion infused into Arizona’s economy from universities’ research

Last year, nearly $1 billion was infused into Arizona’s economy as a result of research at Arizona’s public universities, according to the recently released Arizona Board of Regents 2011 research report. The report details research expenditures as well as the economic, social and scholarly impact that results from research in the Arizona University System, indicating a significant positive impact on the state through new jobs, knowledge and dollars reinvested in the community.

“Research at Arizona State University, Northern Arizona University and the University of Arizona provides a tremendous benefit to our community and the world around us,” said Regent Rick Myers, chair of the Arizona Board of Regents. “Research leads not only to transformational discoveries that directly benefit the people of this state and beyond, but it generates jobs, facilitates partnerships, reinvests dollars into the community, attracts top faculty talent, and makes the undergraduate learning experience more rich through instruction and hands-on learning with elite faculty. Research at our universities is a very complex but extremely successful enterprise and its international reputation is a point of pride for our state.”

Last year, the Board of Regents adopted a series of performance metrics to manage and measure university and system productivity and progress in four key areas, including research excellence. Research metrics measure progress in total research expenditures, number of doctoral degrees awarded, number of invention disclosures transacted, number of patents issued, intellectual property income and national public research university ranking. In fiscal year 2011, the research enterprise met or exceeded the enterprise goals in invention disclosures, U.S. patents issued, intellectual property income, and start-up companies. Research expenditures fell just short of reaching the 2011 goal of $1,009.3 billion by $12.7 million. The universities are implementing measures to ensure the 2012 goal of $1,045.6 billion is met.

Through research activity at the universities, millions of dollars are reinvested annually into the community. In 2011, Arizona’s public universities generated nearly $1 billion in research expenditures, dollars that become purchases and lead to employment within Arizona.

Medical School

Medical School In Phoenix Has Its Largest Class

Eighty students will arrive this week for classes at the University of Arizona’s medical school in Phoenix.

Those students represent the largest class since the university’s College of Medicine established a downtown Phoenix campus five years ago.

The students soon will share the newly opened health sciences education building with Northern Arizona University students studying to become physical therapists and physician assistants.

The campus is scheduled to expand later this year with the groundbreakings of a 250,000-square-foot University of Arizona Cancer Center and a privately funded biotech lab next to the building anchored by the Translational Genomics Research Institute and International Genomics Consortium.

The Arizona Cancer Center is slated to become the campus’ first clinical presence with a scheduled groundbreaking later this year.

For more information on University of Arizona’s medical school, visit their website medicine.arizona.edu.

Hilltop And McConnell, AZRE September/October 2011

Education: Hilltop And McConnell, NAU


HILLTOP & MCCONNELL: PRIVATIZED STUDENT HOUSING AT NORTHERN ARIZONA UNIVERSITY

Developer: American Campus Communities
General contractor: Hardison/Downey Construction, Inc.
Architect: Todd & Associates
Location: NAU campus, Flagstaff
Size: 434,058 SF

Hilltop and McConnell are two student housing projects combine for 1,126 beds in 419 units. The $60.6M project will consist of two separate developments: a modern residence hall called McConnell (550 beds) and a student townhouse community called Hilltop (576 beds). Subcontractors include Hilty’s Electric, Dial Mechanical, Associated Cement Contractors and TKO. Expected completion is 3Q 2012.

AZRE Magazine, September/October 2011
Native American Cultural Center, AZRE March/April 2011

Public: Native American Cultural Center

NATIVE AMERICAN CULTURAL CENTER

Developer: Northern Arizona University
Design Builder: Brignall Construction
Architect: Studio Ma
Size: 12,000 SF
Location: Knoles/McCrearey Dr., Flagstaff

The $4.85M Native American cultural center will be housed at NAU’s North Campus. It will include large gathering rooms, student meeting rooms, director and graduate offices, student lounge areas and conference rooms. Subcontractors include Midstate Mechanical, JF Ellis, SEACON Electric, Skyce Steel, Bold Framing, Ignace Brothers and Kinney Construction Services. Expected completion is 3Q 2011.

AZRE March/April 2011
black history month 2011

Companies Devote Time To Black History Month

As we kick off Black History Month, Arizona companies devote time for sharing, caring and supporting ethnic communities. Employers understand the importance of spreading the love and have done so with educational scholarships, funding for schools and free entertainment.

USAA

United Services Automobile Association (USAA), an investment and insurance company, offers specific educational opportunities during this month. Classes on leadership skills, how to take control of finances and programs that support growth and opportunity are provided.

Payless  ShoeSource

Payless ShoeSource, a national shoe distribution company, offers the Inspiring Possibilities Scholarship Program, which supports the future of African American and other minority youth. Beginning Feb. 1, Payless will sell a limited-edition I believe accessory for $3. This accessory will be available online at Payless’ website and in 800 stores nationwide. The store will donate a minimum of $35,000 to the scholarship program. The program is designed to distribute about a dozen scholarships to African American and other minority youth for the 2011-2012 seasons.

Barnes and Noble

Barnes and Noble, the world’s largest bookseller, is honoring Black History Month with special events and promotions. They will have story-telling events, various speakers, tables with books for all ages, including picture books and autobiographies. An April Harrison tote bag will be sold; proceeds will go back into ethnic communities. Special pricing will be in place this month to support the learning, economic, social and political growth of African Americans. black history 2011, Flickr, See-ming Lee

Quicken Loans

Quicken Loans, the largest online loan servicing company, is giving away more than $20,000 in scholarships. Five years ago, Quicken Loans started giving away one of six scholarships ranging from $1,000 to $10,000 to each winner. The money goes to the child’s school of choice to help promote education and spread Black History. Joined with Fathead, a leading brand in sports and entertainment graphic products, they allow children to go online and register for the scholarships by stating why Black History Month is important.

Arizona State University

Arizona State University (ASU) celebrates Black History Month many ways, but the big talk is John Legend coming to ASU’s Tempe campus Feb. 8 for a free concert to anyone with a SunCard. Legend will have a brief discussion on what Black History means to him before signing some of his songs. Two free tickets are available to ASU students, faculty and staff.

AP and Associates/Phoenix International Raceway

AP and Associates, creator of the Checkered Flag Run in Arizona, will have celebrity appearances, NASCAR race, activities and major sponsors for inaugural event hosted by Second II None Motorcycle Club at the Talking Stick Resort and Casino and Phoenix International Raceway (PIR).  There will be over $50,000 in prizes and a chance to accompany PIR President Bryan Sperber to the trophy winner. They will be highlighting the diversity that motorcycle enthusiasts have along with supporting organizations that work to benefit local African American communities in both Phoenix and Scottsdale.

Northern Arizona University

Northern Arizona University (NAU) features a list of Black History events throughout the month. Men’s Basketball vs. Montana State will have Black Student Union students sitting together to show their support for NAU’s men and women basketball teams. Step Afrika is a step show, an art form born at African American fraternities, at the university for free. Apollo Night with Keedar Whittle, a reenactment of the historic Apollo Theatre, will show famous Black historic moments. And  month-end closing barbecue, sponsored by Coconino County African American Advisory Council, will have free food.


Black History Month is a time for everyone to get together and enjoy a piece of history that leads to a brighter future. For more information on Black History, visit http://www.infoplease.com/black-history-month/.