Recent CALS Spotlights

  • Arizona Assurance, the University of Arizona's promise to financially support Arizona families experiencing barriers to higher education, is graduating its third cohort of students on Saturday.

    The donor-supported institutional financial aid and student retention program helps ensure that low-income Arizona students can get a UA education debt-free.

    The program's third graduating class began in 2010, earning their degrees within four years, representing a promise the UA made to the state in 2008 that it would support low-income Arizona families so students could have an opportunity to graduate without student loans.

  • With underrepresented minority students comprising 17 percent of all graduate students, the University of Arizona's graduate student body is now the most ethnically diverse among all peer Association of American Universities institutions.

    As of this past fall, 17 percent of the UA's graduate enrollment of more than 7,400 students were underrepresented minority students.

    In 2002, underrepresented minority students comprised 12 percent of overall graduate student enrollment. By 2013, that number grew 41 percent. Since 2002, the percentage increase in enrollment for African Americans at the UA was 70 percent. For American Indian students it was 52 percent and for Hispanic students it was 28 percent.

  • High-throughput phenotyping, a new area of research, is key to achieving progress in crop improvements. And in order to make future advancements, there is a need for training graduate students and scientists in this emerging field.

    “Over the past decade, we have seen phenomenal advancements in crop genomics enabled by developments in high-throughput DNA sequencing. This automated technology in the laboratory has made understanding the genetics of crop plants very tractable,” said Jesse Poland, assistant professor in Plant Pathology at Kansas State University.  Unfortunately, these same advancements in high-throughput automation have not been realized in the field for the physical appearances of the crop such as height, disease resistance or grain yield.

    Thirty-five researchers, graduate students and industry representatives from around the world participated in an innovative field-based phenotyping workshop at the Maricopa Agricultural Center in Maricopa, Ariz., April 7-10, 2014.

  • Kids are usually told to not throw their food.

    But this year, in a nationwide 4-H youth science experiment, kids across the country will not only be encouraged to throw their food, they’ll be taught how to build a rocket to launch it into the sky.

    Arizona 4-H, a program of Cooperative Extension in the University of Arizona College of Agriculture and Life Sciences, has won a competition among state 4-H organizations to design a science experiment for the 4-H 2014 National Youth Science Day, happening Oct. 8. Along with national recognition, the Arizona team receives a $20,000 cash prize.

  • Arizona Project WET is challenging families and student groups to make new discoveries about nature with the help of smartphone technology.

    The project's Discovery Program, recently installed at Phoenix's Rio Salado Habitat Restoration Area, encourages visitors to embark on one of four color-coded QR code journeys intended to spark questions about their local natural environment.

    "We want people to explore and think through a question that starts with 'I wonder …' and then hopefully learn something new about the nature in their own community," said Kerry Schwartz, Arizona Project WET director. "The Discovery Program presents a unique opportunity for students, teachers and families to think through questions about their surroundings in a systematic, scientific way by taking advantage of a new technology."

  • Professor James Knight is a big believer in the maxim that little things mean a lot.

    That’s what students say they’ll miss most now that he’s retiring as one of the University of Arizona’s most popular educators.

    Balloons, bouquets and best wishes greeted the professor’s last lecture Wednesday at the campus where he spent much of his career.

    "I don’t think I’ve ever met anyone who cares more about his students," said sophomore Ethan Reiter, 20, a Texan majoring in biomedical science.

  • A University of Arizona professor is headed to Spain this fall to focus on developing a model for collaboration between researchers, stakeholders and citizens – an undeveloped concept in areas of Europe. At the UA, and in the U.S., the idea has been institutionalized through Cooperative Extension. 

    Barron Orr, professor and geospatial extension specialist in the School of Natural Resources and the Environment, within the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences, has won a  Marie Curie Actions International Incoming Fellowship, a prestigious fellowship that allows scholars from outside Europe to contribute unique and novel ideas to European nations, encouraging multidisciplinary collaborations.

    “2014 is the hundred-year-anniversary of the act of Congress that created Cooperative Extension,” said Orr. “We’ve institutionalized the connection between science and stakeholders over the past one hundred years.”

  • Because they are considered to be among the nation's top students in science, technology, engineering and mathematics – the STEM fields – 22 University of Arizona students and alumni have been selected to receive funding through a highly competitive National Science Foundation fellowship program.

    Nationwide, 2,000 students earned awards under the NSF's Graduate Research Fellowship Program, the largest graduate fellowship program of its kind in the nation. Currently, the UA has 50 fellows, the largest number in its history.

    The fellowship is an important, highly competitive grant program for advanced students in STEM fields, providing an annual stipend of $32,000 and a $12,000 allowance to fund tuition and fees for graduate education and research over a three-year period. The UA Graduate College provides additional funding to cover the balance of tuition, fees, student health insurance and a UA travel grant.

  • While working toward advanced degrees, UA graduate students are producing new knowledge and products and forming companies that address significant challenges facing our state, nation and world.

    These dedicated students engage in groundbreaking research, scholarship and outreach that often begins to have a real impact before they've even left the UA. When they graduate with their advanced degrees in hand, they are poised to continue making a difference in the way we think about everything from science to business and more.

    After graduating, some of these students will continue to work in academia, while others will go into industry or choose to serve their communities in different ways, like joining the Peace Corps. The UA is consistently among the nation's top producers of Peace Corps volunteers.

  • University of Arizona Cooperative Extension is celebrating 100 years of serving Arizonans through programs designed to support agriculture, business, community health, the local economy and more.

    On May 8, 1914, Congress signed the Smith-Lever Act, establishing the Cooperative Extension Service as a national priority. The act created a unique educational partnership between the U.S. Department of Agriculture and the nation's land-grant universities to extend research-based knowledge through a state-by-state network of extension educators.