Summer is off to a busy start at the University of Arizona. While most of our students are away, this is the time of year when many UA colleges and programs reconnect with partners in the community through conferences, outreach events, and other activities.
Earlier this week, the UA's Water Resources Research Center (WRRC) held its annual conference, "Indigenous Perspectives on Sustainable Water Practices." The conference, which took place in Chandler, was hosted by the WRRC in partnership with the Gila River Indian Community. In July, UA Cooperative Extension will join the Arizona Farm Bureau and other organizations to hold the 19th annual Arizona Women in Agriculture Conference. That event will be followed in August by the 42nd annual Arizona Rural Health Conference, which is being presented by the Center for Rural Health at the Mel and Enid Zuckerman College of Public Health.
I also have exciting news about another important partnership. Construction is set to begin on the Giant Magellan Telescope (GMT), a project that involves 11 international partners, including the UA. The GMT will collect more light than any other telescope in history through a unique design that includes seven mirrors. The UA is making all of those mirrors plus one spare. See the video linked to in this issue to learn about another major telescope project we are involved in, the LSST.
Also, the University's partnership with Banner Health has just reached another milestone: the builders have been selected for an 11-story tower at Banner – University Medical Center and work is expected to begin late this year and be completed in 2019.
Finally, I am happy to share news about Old Main, the UA's first building and the heart of our campus. Last month, the team responsible for its renovation was presented with a 2015 Governor's Heritage Preservation Award, which is granted by the Arizona State Historic Preservation Office and the Arizona State Parks in recognition of projects that "represent outstanding achievements in preserving Arizona's prehistoric and historic resources." The team also won a Design Build Award in the Western Pacific region of the Design-Build Institute of America. Those involved in the planning, design, and construction did a wonderful job and it is gratifying to see their efforts being recognized and rewarded.
By examining one of the worst weeds in the West, UA scientists have made an important finding about the battle between native and non-native plants: When native plant species drop in numbers, imported species not only take root but, in some cases, undergo an evolutionary change that turns them into invasive species. The scientists used the yellow star-thistle in their research, a plant that is more successful here in the U.S. than in its native range in Eurasia.
Two UA alumni entrepreneurs have been awarded a $100,000 Small Business Innovation Research grant to work with University researchers and Tech Launch Arizona to commercialize novel crop-production strategies. While they were students in the McGuire Program for Entrepreneurship, Ricardo Hernandez and John Jackson came up with the idea for Grafted Growers, a company that has been recognized for its use of innovative methods and equipment for planting, growing and harvesting food crops.
Residents and fellows from Banner – University Medical Center Phoenix shared the results of their research during the annual Academic Excellence Day, held at the UA College of Medicine – Phoenix. Nearly 100 poster presentations were exhibited from residents, fellows and attending physicians from eight Phoenix-area hospitals. Among the winners this year was 2013 UA College of Medicine – Phoenix graduate Megan Hunt.