I hope you had a chance over the holidays to reconnect with family and friends, celebrate the successes of 2014, and reflect on the things that are most important to you in the year ahead.
As we begin 2015, students are back on campus this week for the start of classes and we are gearing up for a busy and productive spring semester. As we do, I would like to invite you to two of the events on campus this month that will showcase our students and faculty and promise to be inspiring and thought-provoking.
The first is on Jan. 24, when our Undergraduate Biology Research Program will hold its 26th annual conference. During this model program, undergraduates participate in mentored, self-directed projects that involve inquiry, design, investigation, research, scholarship, and discovery. Their work culminates at this conference, where the students present their work at a poster session.
The second event is Jan. 26, when the College of Science kicks off its lecture series "Life in the Universe." Over the course of seven lectures, this series explores the universe at molecular, biological, planetary, and cosmic scales to ask: What is life and how do we recognize it? Some of the UA's most distinguished faculty members will lead the presentations, including Dante Lauretta, professor in the Department of Planetary Sciences and the leader of OSIRIS-REx, the biggest NASA mission the UA has ever undertaken; Christopher D. Impey, University Distinguished Professor of Astronomy; and Timothy D. Swindle, head of the Department of Planetary Sciences and the Lunar and Planetary Laboratory.
We're also looking forward to a year of community engagement. With that in mind I would like to bring your attention to a guest editorial, authored by Shane Burgess, dean of the UA's College of Agriculture and Life Sciences, that was published recently by The Arizona Republic. In it, Dr. Burgess writes that efforts to thin forests in northern Arizona are worthy of funding because they save lives, prevent millions of dollars in damages, and boost biodiversity. You can read his piece here.
More stories about ways that University of Arizona faculty and students are making a difference in the lives of the people of Arizona and beyond can be found below.
A team from the University of Arizona and eight Southwestern electric utility companies has built a pioneering Web portal that provides insight into renewable energy sources and how they contribute to the region’s electricity grid. The tool will help utility companies better understand the long-term impact of renewable energy on the power grid and inform ways that these resources can be integrated in the future in the most cost-efficient and reliable way for consumers.
A new course aligned with the UA's 100% Engagement initiative will give students experience in a research project with value to our community. This spring, students in the "Poverty in Tucson Field Workshop" course will collect, analyze and present data on local community issues related to poverty. The class is a continuation of a collaboration among the College of Social and Behavioral Sciences, the city of Tucson and local nonprofit groups through the Mayor's Commission on Poverty.
Whether coping with physical ailments, contentious home lives or arduous semesters, we all have techniques to offset the hardships in our lives. But can we expand those methods and become better people in the process? Through a generous gift from the Arizona Friends of Tibet, the University of Arizona College of Social and Behavioral Sciences is positioned to explore this question through the newly launched Center for Compassion Studies – the nation's first formalized collegiate center for compassion studies.