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Arizona Science

Arizona Science explores the latest scientific research and technological innovations taking place in Southern Arizona and at the University of Arizona. Catch Arizona Science each Friday during Science Friday on NPR 89.1. SUBSCRIBE TO PODCAST Newest | Previous

Episode 63: Archaeological Finds at the Altar of Zeus on Mt Lykaion, Arcadia

Since 2004, Dr. David Gilman Romano has been the co-director, with Dr. Mary Voyatzis, of an interdisciplinary UA team excavating the mythological birthplace of Zeus in Acadia, Greece. The sanctuary of Zeus at Mt. Lykaion is perched on a mountain-top with the altar at the peak and with an ancient stadium and hippodrome nearby where ancient athletic contests were held. The excavators have discovered evidence of human activity there going back to 4,000 years BC. The altar is covered by layers and layers of ash from the burned bones of animals dedicated to Zeus. Recently, in the ash in the middle of the altar, the excavators made an amazing discovery of a full human skeleton burial, apparently that of an adolescent male, in a supine position oriented east-west and surrounded by field stones to the north and south. The excavators have preliminarily proposed an 11th century BC date for the burial based on pottery evidence found near the skeleton but will conduct Carbon 14 testing of the skeleton to determine the true date. An open question is whether scientific study of this skeleton will reveal evidence for human sacrifice which is known from ancient literature to be associated with Mt. Lykaion.

IN THIS EPISODE

David Gilman Romano, Ph. D., Nicholas and Athena Karabots Professor of Greek Archaeology in the UA's School of Anthropology and Co-Director of UA's Mt Lykaion Excavation and Survey Project in Arcadia, Greece.
Leslie Tolbert, Ph.D., Ph.D., Regents' Professor in the UA's Department of Neuroscience

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Episode 62: Flood Risks in the Southwest

Once flowing year round, Tucson's Rillito River now runs primarily during the monsoon season. In 1983, the biggest flood in the last 100 year's hit Tucson and ripped out stream banks along the Rillito, the Santa Cruz and many of the region's washes. Vic Baker is considered a leading expert and pioneer in the field of flood research and has spent much of his career studying superfloods. He says superfloods aren't just bigger versions of small scale floods - they behave differently. They release huge amounts of energy in a brief period of time, leading to turbulence that causes erosion and sediment transport that are vastly different from that experienced in small scale floods.

IN THIS EPISODE

Vic Baker, Professor of Hydrology and Atmospheric Sciences at the UA
Tim Swindle, Ph.D., Director and Head of the UA's Lunar and Planetary Lab

LISTEN

Episode 61: Soft as a Rock: Tectonic Stretching of the Earth's Crust

REPEAT. Geological fieldwork is unlocking details of the creation of the Basin and Range Province in which Tucson sits. The Basin turns out to be an exceptional natural laboratory for studying what happens when the earth's crust undergoes profound hyper-stretching. Hyper-stretching can cause parts of the crust that were buried 10 to 15km deep to be brought to the earth's surface. Ancient rocks are abundant in the sky islands bordering Tucson, in our canyons and mountains, indicating that Southern Arizona was a high elevation plateau before the stretching began. 30 million years ago we could have rafted from a Southern Arizona 'plateau highlands' to what is now Utah! But then, earthquake-by-earthquake, from 25 million years ago to just a moment (5 million years) ago, the plateau sank. This discovery has radically undone the perception that major mountain systems result only from tectonic shortening and buckling of the earth's crust. Today, hyper-stretching like that in our region is happening in Greece, offering a new laboratory for study of this phenomenon in action.

IN THIS EPISODE

George Davis, Regents Professor in Geosciences and Provost Emeritus at the U of A
Leslie Tolbert, Ph.D. Regents Professor in the U of A's Department of Neuroscience

LISTEN

Episode 60: Combating the "Silent Killer" of Women

Ovarian cancer is considered to be the most deadly gynecological cancer in the United States. Nearly 70 per cent of women diagnosed have advanced ovarian cancer because there are few early symptoms and no effective screening techniques. UA Researcher Jennifer Barton is trying to improve the odds for women. Dr. Barton is leading a two year project funded by the National Cancer Institute to identify imaging biomarkers of ovarian cancer. Dr. Barton's lab is building optical endoscopes for early detection. This tiny flexible endoscope, or fallopscope, is a wandlike imaging device that combines several optical imaging techniques to detect ovarian cancer in the fallopian tubes, where many researchers believe the cancer originates.

IN THIS EPISODE

Jennifer Barton, Ph.D., Professor of Biomedical Engineering and Interim Director of the UA's BIO5 Institute
Tim Swindle, Ph.D., Director and Department Head of the UA's Lunar and Planetary Lab

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Episode 59: Increasingly Detailed Predictions of the Severity of Hurricane Seasons

Dr. Rubin Zeng uses his expertise in global climate-related processes at the interfaces between land, atmosphere and ocean to predict the severity of hurricane seasons. He explains that hurricanes in the north Atlantic Ocean start with atmospheric disturbances over North Africa, including the Sahara Desert. Those disturbances roil westward by tradewinds in the Tropics and Subtropics, churning up the surface layers of the Atlantic Ocean and eventually spinning clockwise as they collide with the west-to-east winds in the cooler temperate zone and, on occasion, creating hurricanes. With huge amounts of data from satellites and from land-and-ocean-based instruments, Dr. Zeng and his colleagues are becoming increasingly expert at seasonal hurricane prediction - but available computing power limits the ability to run global models with the accuracy needed to predict the details of individual hurricanes far in advance. Regarding Arizona's weather, Dr. Zeng comments that El Nino is not a very good predictor of winter storms, which are affected also by other climate processes such as the multi-decadal variability over the Pacific and Atlantic Oceans.

IN THIS EPISODE

Rubin Zeng, Professor of Hydrology and Atmospheric Sciences and Director of UA's Climate Dynamic and Hydrometeorology Center
Leslie Tolbert, Ph.D., Regents' Professor in the University of Arizona's Neuroscience Department

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Episode 58: Exploring the Outer Reaches of the Solar System

A massive and new telescope called "ALMA" located in the Chilean Andes is providing researchers with never before seen observations of distant gassy discs that show how giant gas planets form along with their stars. As young stars form, they suck up dust and gas around them, and the remaining material spins into a flat, rotating disk. Planets start out as small clumps in that disk which collide with other small clumps, adding to their masses. Dr. Kratter's research focuses on the formation of planetary systems and says the complex ALMA Telescope will aid scientists in discovering young multiple star systems in the outer reaches of the solar system. Astronomers say the technology that makes ALMA possible only came into existence in the past few years and that it can be upgraded with even more powerful receivers that could probe deeper into space during its 30 year life span.

IN THIS EPISODE

Kaitlin Kratter, Assistant Professor of Astronomy at the University of Arizona
Tim Swindle, Ph.D., Director and Head of the UA's Lunar and Planetary Lab

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Episode 57: Calling All Scientists: Let's Deal with Your Data

Over the last decade, the life sciences have benefited from new, highly quantitative technologies, from super-resolution microscopy to DNA sequencing, that enable acquisition of data at ever faster rates. In response to the resulting avalanche of data, information technology has made transformational advances, including the development of cloud and high-performance computing, large scale data management systems and high-bandwidth networks. All of this allows scientists to design "data expeditions" and a new level of large-scale analysis efforts - but managing these massive datasets, from acquisition to analysis to archiving, requires interdisciplinary collaborations with teams of experts from across the country, or across continents. CyVerse, funded by the National Science Foundation, is a virtual organization led by the University of Arizona to fill a niche created by the new computing epoch. CyVerse provides life scientists with powerful computational infrastructure to handle huge datasets and complex analyses, enabling data-driven discovery and broad international collaboration. Nirav Merchant, CyVerse co-principal investigator, discusses some of the challenges and many opportunities associated with empowering scientists to build and manage global communities and collaborations.

IN THIS EPISODE

Nirav Merchant, M. S., Director of UA's BioComputing Facility and co-Principal Investigator of the CyVerse Project
Leslie Tolbert, Ph.D., Regents' Professor in the UA's Department of Neuroscience

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Episode 56: High Tech Safety Systems for Cars of the Future

REPEAT. Researchers at the University of Arizona are working with Arizona Transportation officials on new "connected vehicle" technology. Right now, the testing is taking place in Anthem, Arizona and is part of a national effort to develop safety systems for autos. The technology will allow the cars to talk to each other and share information about where they are and where they're going. Larry Head, a professor of systems and industrial engineering at the University of Arizona, is part of the research group and explains how it works.

IN THIS EPISODE

Larry Head, Professor of systems and industrial engineering at the U of A
Tim Swindle, Ph. D., Director and Department Head of the U of A's Lunar and Planetary Lab

LISTEN

Episode 55: How Astronomy and the Arts Interact

Richard Poss is an Associate Professor in Astronomy and former Director of the Humanities Program at the University of Arizona. He is sometimes described as the resident humanist at the Department of Astronomy. Dr. Poss teaches courses on the history of astronomy and the relations between astronomy and the arts. His research examines the role of astronomical themes in European Poetry, and he has published articles on Petrarch, Dante. Walt Whitman and the exploration of Mars. In this segment, Ross describes the opportunities he has experienced at the University of Arizona allowing him to merge the disciplines of Art and Science.

IN THIS EPISODE

Richard Poss, Associate Professor in the UA's Astronomy Department
Tim Swindle, Ph.D., Director and Head of the UA's Lunar and Planetary Lab

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Episode 54: The Care and Feeding of Honeybees To Sustain Our Nation's Food Security

In the U.S., we import about 19% of the food we eat; the other 80% is grown here. More than a third of agricultural production relies absolutely on the pollination of crop plants by honeybees. When honeybee populations are threatened, so are the crops they help produce.The crops include apples, cherries, berries, melons and almonds. Almond production alone in the U.S. requires 1.6 million bee colonies! To keep pace with their needs, growers depend on a cadre of professional beekeepers, who move their hives from region to region around the country, to meet the pollination schedules of many crops, in a process that can be called "precision pollination." At this moment, bees are picking up tiny mites that infect them with viruses that can kill whole colonies - and the Carl Hayden Bee Lab, under the direction of Dr. Hoffman, is working to beat the infestation by developing pest management that is tailored to bee mites through detailed knowledge of bees' nutritive needs and the basic biology of both bees and the mites.

IN THIS EPISODE

Gloria DeGrandi-Hoffman, Ph.D., Research Leader and Director of the U.S. Department of Agriculture's Carl Hayden Bee Lab in Tucson, Arizona, and Adjunct Scientist in the UA's Department of Entomology
Leslie Tolbert, Ph.D., Regents' Professor in the UA's Department of Neuroscience

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Episode 53: A New Way for NASA and Others to Access Near-Space

The Tucson based company World View already has more than 50 near space flights under its belt. They are routinely flying commercial payloads to the edge of space for a variety of government, commercial and education customers. In addition to offering passenger flights, the company will also offer rapid deployment to support disaster recovery and first response, weather forecasting and surveillance for the U.S. military. World View's Chief Scientist Alan Stern, who was also principal investigator for NASA's Pluto bound Horizon mission says World View can offer short or long duration flights at high-altitude for low cost. In the future, World View will begin taking passengers up to an altitude of 100-thousand feet from their Spaceport Headquarters in Tucson. Those flights will allow tourists to see the curvature of the earth and the blackness of space.

IN THIS EPISODE

Alan Stern, Chief Scientist and co-founder of World View
Tim Swindle, Ph.D., Director and Department Head of the UA's Lunar and Planetary Lab

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Episode 52: The Brain's Systems for Learning and Memory

Early in his career, Dr. Lynn Nadel helped to reveal the role of the brain's hippocampus in encoding a "cognitive map" of where are bodies are in space. Very quickly, he and his colleagues came to realize that there are many different memory systems. One, called episodic memory, relies on that cognitive map, while others, such as semantic memory, do not. His ongoing research continues to demonstrate exciting aspects of the creation, storage, and retrieval of episodic memories. Because the hippocampus continues to develop into early childhood, it is particularly susceptible to deleterious impacts of stress and of genetic variations, such as occur to produce Down Syndrome. Dr. Nadel's work aims to help us understand how such changes in the hippocampus affect memory, and how they might someday be alleviated.

IN THIS EPISODE

Lynn Nadel, Ph.D. Regents' Professor in Psychology
Leslie Tolbert, Regents' Professor in Neuroscience at the University of Arizona

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Episode 51: Computer-Assisted Surgical Training

Minimally invasive surgeries reduce recovery time and postoperative pain. However, in these procedures surgeons lose many of the tactile and visual cues that they rely on in conventional surgery. Dr. Rozenblit, an expert in complex computer-based system design, is collaborating with surgeons to develop a computed-aided surgical trainer that will physically guide trainees' instruments during practice sessions through assistive force and augmented reality displays. They expect that, by enhancing "situational awareness," computer-guided practice will speed up learning, reinforce good "habits" and techniques, and discourage inferior ones, leading ultimately to better surgical outcomes, and improved patient safety.

IN THIS EPISODE

Jerzy Rozenblit, Ph. D., University Distinguished Professor in Electrical and Computer Engineering
Leslie Tolbert, Ph. D. Regents' Professor in the UofA's Neuroscience Department

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Episode 50: Forecasting Arizona's Monsoon

A team of University of Arizona Scientists is reporting that climate change will increase the ground water deficit for four economically important aquifers in the Western U.S. The researchers found that the monsoon is changing as our temperatures rise year after year allowing the air to hold much more moisture, adding fuel to the monsoon storms. The higher temperatures mean more extreme storms, perhaps less frequent but more intense. The new report integrates knowledge about groundwater in the U.S. West with scientific models that show how climate change will affect the region. The Southwest is expected to become hotter and drier and aquifers in the southern tier of the West are all expected to see slight to significant decreases in recharge as the climate warms.

IN THIS EPISODE

Christopher Castro, Atmospheric Science Professor at the University of Arizona
Tim Swindle, Ph.D., Director and Department Head of the UA's Lunar and Planetary Lab

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Episode 49: The Emergence of a Modern Division of Labor in Hunter-Gatherer Societies of the Upper Paleolithic

Archaeological evidence shows us that, half a million years ago, early hominins were accomplished big-game hunters. In those societies, women's economic activities would have revolved around the men's work of hunting. But by about 50,000 years ago, during the Upper Paleolithic, early humans in Eurasia started supplementing their meat intake with a broad spectrum of small animals and probably plant matter. Division of labor and specialization of duties of all sorts emerged, providing significant roles for women, children and the elderly. With that, human societies were significantly restructured, and the complementary economic roles of men and women that are typical of today's hunter-gatherers appeared. These socioeconomic changes gave Upper Paleolithic humans a demographic advantage over the Neanderthals, and the replacement of Neanderthal groups was inevitable.

IN THIS EPISODE

Mary Stiner, Ph.D, Regents' Professor in the University of Arizona School of Anthropology
Leslie Tolbert, Ph.D. Regents' Professor in the UA's Neuroscience Department

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Episode 48: Rules of the Road are Needed in Outer Space

Along with asteroids and comets, there are some 500-thousand pieces of space junk flying around in outer space at speeds up to 17-thousand miles an hour. Roughly 21-thousand of these pieces of space junk are larger than a softball and even a fleck of paint from an old rocket can do serious damage when it hits something going that fast. A UofA research initiative called Space Object Behavioral Sciences or SOBS, headed by Moriba Jah will examine objects in space, including locating of satellites and studying the movement of objects and managing space traffic. SOBS is considered a very important area of study within the space sciences because military, civil and commercial systems in more and more countries have become heavily reliant on satellites for day-to-day operations. Take for example, GPS navigation. Millions of people with smartphones rely on apps like Google Maps, without realizing that it is powered remotely by satellites in space.

IN THIS EPISODE

Moriba Jah, Director of the UofA's space object behavioral sciences initiative. He received his doctoral degree in aerospace engineering sciences from the University of Colorado
Tim Swindle, Ph.D., Director and Department Head of the UofA's Lunar and Planetary Lab

LISTEN

Episode 47: Children Need Their Naps

Young children learn rapidly about the world around them. Rebecca Gomez has discovered that sleep patterns profoundly affect that learning. Both infants and 3 year olds who take a nap immediately after a novel experience remember the experience the next day, whereas children who do not sleep do not. Her research suggests that daytime naps are critical for the first steps in memory stabilization in young children, because the brain structures for the first steps of memory are still developing. Those first steps are essential for the more permanent stabilization of memories that occurs during nighttime sleep.

IN THIS EPISODE

Rebecca Gomez, Department of Psychology at the University of Arizona
Leslie Tolbert, Ph. D., Director and Head of the UofA's Lunar and Planetary Lab

LISTEN

Episode 46: OSIRIS-REx has Begun its Epic 7 Year Long Mission to the Asteroid Bennu

After a picture perfect launch last week, OSIRIS-REx is on the way to study the Asteroid Bennu and return to Earth in 2023 with a sample for analysis. Heather Enos, who has been with OSIRIS-REx since 2008, is now the mission's new Deputy Principal Investigator. Heather has worked on other space missions in different capacities including business, science and engineering. Her focus with this mission will be on operations and says that now that the launch has taken place the teams involved will be very busy testing to make sure all systems are operating as designed. Heather attended the launch of OSIRIS-REx and gives a first person account of what she saw and the excitement she felt.

IN THIS EPISODE

Heather Enos, Deputy Principal Investigator - OSIRIS-REx
Tim Swindle, Ph. D., Director and Head of the UofA's Lunar and Planetary Lab

LISTEN

Episode 45: Past Climates Can Help to Inform Water Resource Management in the Western U.S.

Knowledge of the range of climate conditions over past centuries can shed light on the conditions we may expect in the future, under natural climate variability alone. This information can be useful for making decisions about resource management today. By studying the growth patterns of trees as recorded in the tree-ring record going back 1300 years, Connie Woodhouse, Professor in the School of Geography and Development at the University of Arizona, has found that precipitation and temperature have had complex impacts on water resources in the Colorado River Basin. She shares her findings with water resource managers, and is helping to train students to facilitate the integration of climate science into resource management.

IN THIS EPISODE

Connie Woodhouse, Ph.D., Professor in the School of Geography and Development
Leslie Tolbert, Ph. D. Regents' Professor in the Neuroscience Department at the UofA

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Episode 44: Yeast Cells May One Day Have a Role to Play in Developing Treatments for Diseases like Alzheimer's

Yeast cells can sometimes reverse the protein misfiling and clumping associated with diseases such as Alzheimer's, Parkinson's Huntington's and other incurable human neurodegenerative diseases. The new research from the University of Arizona, contradicts the idea that once prion proteins have changed into the shape that aggregates, the change is irreversible. The finding suggests artificially inducing stress responses may one day help develop treatments for diseases associated with misfiled prion proteins.

IN THIS EPISODE

Tricia Serio, Professor and Head of the UofA's Department of Molecular and Cellular Biology
Tim Swindle, Ph.D. and Head of the UofA's Lunar and Planetary Lab

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Episode 43: Arizona at the Forefront of New National Program on Individualized Healthcare

We do not all develop illnesses or respond to medical treatments in the same ways. Recent studies indicate that our individual genetic makeups, our varied lifestyles, and the environments in which we live and work all have an impact on how our bodies react. Dr. Ojo in UA Health Sciences is leading the UA component of a major national initiative aimed at revolutionizing how we treat and prevent disease. Under the federal Precision Medicine Initiative, UA and Banner doctors and scientists will join others around the country to collect and analyze information from one-million or more diverse volunteers, notably including American Indian/Alaskan Native and Hispanic/Latino individuals. Study participants will provide blood samples for DNA testing and data about their health histories, lifestyles, and environmental exposures, and will "have a seat at the table" in decisions about the type of research, return and use of research results. Analysis of the data will provide important new insights into factors that can be controlled to improve individual health and healthcare decisions.

IN THIS EPISODE

Akinlolu Ojo, M.D., Ph.D., M.B.A., Professor of Medicine and Public Health and Associate Vice President for Clinical Research and Global Health Initiatives
Leslie Tolbert, Ph.D. Regents Professor in the U of A's Department of Neuroscience

LISTEN

Episode 42: What the Earth's Climate History Can Tell Us About Climate Change and Seasonal Rains

The Horn of Africa has become increasingly drier in sync with the global and regional warming of the last century at a rate unprecedented in the last 2,000 years according to new research. Since there are no permanent lake basins and scarcely any trees in the region, Jessica Tierney and her colleagues took regional temperature and precipitation records from deep-sea sediment cores in the Gulf of Aden which show that twentieth-century drying in the area is unusual in the context of nearly 2,000 years of rainfall and that is linked with recent warming trends. Tierney has also explored the Sahara region which once enjoyed regular rainfall and was covered in vegetation before drying out some 5,000 years ago in just a century or two. That finding provides evidence that climate shifts can happen suddenly.

IN THIS EPISODE

Jessica Tierney, Associate Professor at the UofA's Department of Geosciences
Tim Swindle, Ph.D., Director and Department Head of the UofA's Lunar and Planetary Lab

LISTEN

Episode 41: Soft as a Rock: Tectonic Stretching of the Earth's Crust

Geological fieldwork is unlocking details of the creation of the Basin and Range Province in which Tucson sits. The Basin turns out to be an exceptional natural laboratory for studying what happens when the earth's crust undergoes profound hyper-stretching. Hyper-stretching can cause parts of the crust that were buried 10 to 15km deep to be brought to the earth's surface. Ancient rocks are abundant in the sky islands bordering Tucson, in our canyons and mountains, indicating that Southern Arizona was a high elevation plateau before the stretching began. 30 million years ago we could have rafted from a Southern Arizona 'plateau highlands' to what is now Utah! But then, earthquake-by-earthquake, from 25 million years ago to just a moment (5 million years) ago, the plateau sank. This discovery has radically undone the perception that major mountain systems result only from tectonic shortening and buckling of the earth's crust. Today, hyper-stretching like that in our region is happening in Greece, offering a new laboratory for study of this phenomenon in action.

IN THIS EPISODE

George Davis, Regents Professor in Geosciences and Provost Emeritus at the U of A
Leslie Tolbert, Ph.D. Regents Professor in the U of A's Department of Neuroscience

LISTEN

Episode 40: Recent Research at the University of Arizona to Prevent Asthma in Children has Been Published in the New England Journal of Medicine

REPEAT. Asthma, the most prevalent chronic childhood disease, affects more than 278 million people worldwide. Environmental factors are implicated in the recent and dramatic rise in asthma cases observed in westernized countries. Growing up on farms has been linked to a significantly lower prevalence of childhood asthma, and, in a report published by the New England Journal of Medicine this week, the U of A's Donata Vercelli and her colleagues report that a key component of the farm environment is the high level of microbes present in house dust on certain farms. By comparing the environments of Amish and Hutterite farm children, who have similar genetic backgrounds and lifestyles but live on different types of farms and have different incidents of asthma, they discovered that the traditional Amish farms, where livestock is kept in barns close to the house, provide sustained exposure to microbes that stimulate the immune system in ways that decrease the susceptibility to asthma. Amish farm dust also protects experimental mice from asthma-like symptoms. The results reported this week are exciting in that they lay the groundwork for the identification of protective environmental products and the development of effective strategies for preventing asthma.

IN THIS EPISODE

Donata Vercelli, Ph.D. and Professor of Cellular and Molecular Medicine at the University of Arizona
Leslie Tolbert, Ph. D., Ph.D Regents' Professor in the University of Arizona's Department of Neuroscience

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Episode 39: Hi-Rise Camera Still Sharing Images from Mars, Ten Years After Launch

For ten years now, The High Resolution Imaging Science Experiment or Hi-Rise has been photographing hundreds of images from targeted areas of Mars in unprecedented detail. It is the most powerful camera ever sent to another planet and has been observing the martian surface in greater detail than had been previously possible. Locating future landing sites on Mars is one of the main functions of Hi-Rise. Dr. Alfred McEwen, planetary geologist at the University of Arizona and principal investigator for Hi-Rise says that in addition to locating future landing sites, Hi-Rise images are giving scientists incredible photos of the surface of Mars at resolutions never before seen of objects one-meter size as well as detailed views of gullies, channels and other science targets.

IN THIS EPISODE

Dr. Alfred McEwen, planetary geologist at the University of Arizona and principal investigator for Hi-Rise
Tim Swindle, Ph.D., Director and Department Head of the UofA's Lunar Planetary Lab

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Episode 38: Turning Invertebrate Brain Revolution on its Head

Studies of brain evolution typically rely on interpreting observations of the brains of species that currently exist. Dr. Nick Strausfeld, Regents' Professor in Neuroscience, has studied the fossil traces of ancient brains and is using their characteristic arrangements to take a new look at the evolution of anthropods. He finds that the three major types of brains that are hallmark's of todays anthropods already existed over half a billion years ago. Brain structures such as those that underlie the selection of responses to environmental stimuli appear to have evolved early complexity to provide behavioral repertoires that met the challenge of diverse environments that arose early, even before the Cambrian explosion.

IN THIS EPISODE

Nicholas J. Strausfeld, Ph.D., Regents's Professor in the U of A's Department of Neuroscience and Director, Center for Insect Science
Leslie Tolbert, Ph. D., Regents' Professor in the University of Arizona Department of Neuroscience

LISTEN

Episode 37: High Tech Safety Systems for Cars of the Future

Researchers at the University of Arizona are working with Arizona Transportation officials on new "connected vehicle" technology. Right now, the testing is taking place in Anthem, Arizona and is part of a national effort to develop safety systems for autos. The technology will allow the cars to talk to each other and share information about where they are and where they're going. Larry Head, a professor of systems and industrial engineering at the University of Arizona, is part of the research group and explains how it works.

IN THIS EPISODE

Larry Head, Professor of systems and industrial engineering at the U of A
Tim Swindle, Ph. D., Director and Department Head of the U of A's Lunar and Planetary Lab

LISTEN

Episode 36: A New Window on Cancer

Biopsy, or physical removal of tissue, followed by a pathologists evaluation of a prepared slice of the tissue is a standard of care in the diagnosis of many diseases. But emerging methods that take an "optical biopsy" offer a new approach -- basically taking the microscope to the tissue rather than the tissue to the microscope. Dr. Arthur Gmitro, Department Head of Biomedical Engineering, describes research at the University of Arizona on the development and use of a confocal microendoscope that takes detailed in-situ images of tissues in real time to allow faster and potentially earlier diagnosis of cancer at the cellular and even molecular levels.

IN THIS EPISODE

Arthur Gmitro, Ph.D. Professor and Head of Biomedical Engineering, Professor of Medical Imaging and Optical Science and Co-Director of the Cancer Imaging Center at the U of A's Cancer Center
Leslie Tolbert Ph. D., Regents' Professor in the University of Arizona's Neuroscience Department

LISTEN

Episode 35: The Zika Virus and its Threat to the U.S.

The growing threat of the Zika virus which is spreading in Latin America continues to make headlines ahead of the Summer Olympics in Rio. In the U.S., researchers from across the country including Kacey Ernst from the U of A's Mel and Enid Zuckerman College of Public Health are looking at areas in the U.S. which might see a spike in Zika cases as the summer weather warms. To combat any potential outbreaks of Zika in the U.S., mosquito experts like Ernst, are recommending that the public remove standing water to help eliminate breeding grounds, wear insect repellant and use screens on windows and doors to keep the mosquitos from entering homes.

IN THIS EPISODE

Kacey Ernst, Associate Professor and infectious disease epidemiologist and the U of A's Mel and Enid Zuckerman College of Public Health
Tim Swindle, Ph.D., Director and Head of the U of A's Lunar and Planetary Lab

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Episode 34: New Ways to Use Sound

Combining theoretical, modeling/simulation and experimental approaches, Materials Science and Engineering Professor Pierre Deymier is developing news ways of manipulating sound waves. He and his colleagues have discovered that when sound passes through particular media, its properties change. One can make flat lenses for focusing sound, or make forms of sound that propagate in one direction, but not in opposite direction. These properties and others are being harnessed in new applications as diverse as attenuating noise pollution, ultrasound imaging and making sound-wave-based diodes for computer chips.

IN THIS EPISODE

Pierre Deymier, Ph. D., Professor and Head of the Department of Materials Science and Engineering at the University of Arizona
Leslie Tolbert, Ph.D., Regents' Professor in the U of A's Department of Neuroscience

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Episode 33: Flying at Mach 5 or Faster Can be a Pretty Hot Ride

The brave new world of hypersonic vehicles for space exploration is upon us. But to protect these aircraft from extreme heat at speeds of Mach 5 or more, new and sophisticated thermal protection systems that don't vaporize at high temperature are needed. And that's where Dr Corral comes in. She is among a handful of scientists around the globe working to come up with the next generation of thermal protection systems for hypersonic flight that exceeds five times the speed of sound at more than thirty-two-hundred miles an hour. Dr. Corral's research focuses on providing thermal protection for the sharp maneuverable edges of the aircraft which is the most vulnerable to high heat.

IN THIS EPISODE

Erica Corral, University of Arizona Associate Professor for Material Science and Engineering
Tim Swindle, Director and Department Head of the U of A's Lunar and Planetary Lab.

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Episode 32: Rejuvenating and Repairing the Aging Brain with Stem Cells

Parkinson's disease affects more than one million people in the United States and there are no current treatments to slow or prevent the disorder. Lalitha Madhavan, Assistant Professor of Neurology at the University of Arizona, uses stem cell technology as a unique tool to probe the adaptive capacities of the brain. She is especially interested in harnessing the power of stem cells to stimulate brain repair in age-related neurological disorders such as Parkinson's disease.

IN THIS EPISODE

Dr. Lalitha Madhavan, Assistant Professor of Neurology at the University of Arizona
Leslie Tolbert, Ph.D Regent's Professor at the University of Arizona's Department of Neuroscience

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Episode 31: Final Preparations are Underway for the September 2016 Launch of OSIRIS-REx

OSIRIS-REx is a University of Arizona-led mission that will visit the asteroid named Bennu, obtain a sample from its surface and return it to earth. Launch of this first U.S. mission to return samples of an asteroid to earth is set for a September 2016 launch. Ed Beshore, deputy principal investigator at the University of Arizona says there is still a lot of work and coordination to complete before liftoff but that all systems are looking good. The mission promises to help scientists address some basic questions about the composition of the very early solar system. Ed Beshore, Deputy Principal Investigator for the University of Arizona-led OSIRIS-REx mission.

IN THIS EPISODE

Ed Beshore, Deputy Principal Investigator for the University of Arizona-led OSIRIS-REx mission
Tim Swindle, Ph.D. Director and Department Head of the UA's Lunar and Planetary Lab

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Episode 30: What Role Does the Environment Play in Diseases Like Asthma?

Researchers are investigating a recent dramatic rise in asthma cases in westernized countries and the role that the environment may have in that increase. Asthma, the most prevalent childhood disease, affects more than 278 million people worldwide and is known to have a genetic component. Doctor Donata Vercelli is conducting research at the University of Arizona to try to determine if there are specific environmental compounds that may be protective against asthma and other allergies. The hope is that those environmental compounds could one day be turned into medicines that promote lung health and prevent asthma.

IN THIS EPISODE

Donata Vercelli, Ph.D. and Professor of Cellular and Molecular Medicine at the University of Arizona
Leslie Tolbert, Ph. D., Ph.D Regents' Professor in the University of Arizona's Department of Neuroscience

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Episode 29: Immune to Aging

Janko Nikolich-Zugich, Professor and Head of the University of Arizona's Department of Immunobiology, explores how and why our immune systems become less effective as we get older. Janko suggests that many of the diseases associated with aging are closely linked to our immune responses to infections. Professor Nikolich-Zugich is working to develop ways not just to protect but also to boost and rejuvenate our immune systems across our lifespans.

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Janko Nikolich-Zugich, Professor and Head of the Department of Immunobiology at the University of Arizona
Leslie Tolbert, Ph. D., Ph.D Regents' Professor in the University of Arizona's Department of Neuroscience

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Episode 28: A Common Brain Parasite May Help Treat Brain Disorders

A single cell parasite called - Toxoplasma gondii - is found throughout the world in both humans and some animals. But very few of those with the toxoplasma parasite show any signs of a disease known as taxoplasmosis because a healthy person's immune system usually keeps the parasite from causing illness. Research now being conducted at the University of Arizona is looking into how this common parasite might help in treating brain disorders like Multiple Sclerosis, Alzheimers and stroke.

IN THIS EPISODE

Anita Koshy, Assistant Professor in the University of Arizona's Neurology Department
Tim Swindle, Ph. D., Director and Department Head of the University of Arizona's Lunar and Planetary Lab

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Episode 27: The Role of Microorganisms in Making Life Livable on Planet Earth

Discussions around climate change tend to focus on rising temperatures and sea levels but a key player often missing from the conversation are the earth's microbes. These microorganisms living both in our bodies and in the earth's crust keep our bodies and our planet healthy but they are being threatened by human activity. Dr. Raina Maier says that over billions of years these microorganisms created just the right conditions on the planet to support higher forms of life and eventually humans. Today, these essential microbes are being threatened by human creativity and scientists are concerned about how the microbes will respond to modern life.

IN THIS EPISODE

Raina Maier, Ph.D. and Professor of Environmental Microbiology in the University of Arizona's Department of Soil, Water and Environmental Science
Leslie Tolbert, Ph. D. Regents' Professor in the University of Arizona's Department of Neuroscience

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Episode 26: Fossil Hunting in One of the Most Age Diverse Regions of Eastern Africa

An area of eastern Africa, known as the Great Rift, has yielded many historic fossil treasures in the past. Earlier this year, UA Professor Jay Quade was the chief geologist on an exciting exploration to Ethiopia to unravel the age and environment of sedimentary deposits containing early humanoid fossils. Over millions of years, the geologically active area of Eastern Africa, has been breaking away from the main continent and as the land shifts, the earth's crust thins and water collects in areas that were once lakes. Over time, erosion and sediment expose fossils that can only be found by patient observation.

IN THIS EPISODE

Jay Quade, Professor of Soil Geochemistry with the University of Arizona's Department of Geosciences
Tim Swindle, Ph. D., Director and Department Head of the University of Arizona's Lunar and Planetary Lab

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Episode 25: International Cooperation Among Scientists to Meet Major Global Challenges

As Foreign Secretary of the National Academy of Science, University of Arizona Neuroscience Professor John Hildebrand represents the United States in international conversations that defy political differences. John is a critical member of an international network of scientific leaders who collaborate to assess major global challenges and to provide evidence-based advice to governments on how to address those challenges across international borders. Timely issues requiring particular attention today include pandemics, the decreasing availability of water and clean air, and the inadequacy of a well-trained science and engineering workforce.

IN THIS EPISODE

John G. Hildebrand, Ph. D. Regents' Professor, University of Arizona's Department of Neuroscience and Foreign Secretary of the National Academy of Science in Washington, D.C.
Leslie Tolbert, Ph. D. Regents' Professor in the University of Arizona's Department of Neuroscience

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Episode 24: Understanding the Secrets of the Universe

Associate Dean of Science Elliott Cheu is fascinated by the rules governing the elementary particles that compose the universe. Through the UA's involvement with the world's largest elementary particle collider, the Large Hadron Collider, since almost its inception, Professor Cheu and his colleagues are helping LHC to produce data that may tell us about why the Higgs Boson weighs as much as it does, and lead to an understanding about the mysterious dark matter that inhabits nearly 25% of the Universe. Current work at the UA also is helping to explore the capabilities at the LHC so that up to 100 times more data can be collected.

IN THIS EPISODE

Elliott Cheu, Ph. D., Professor of Physics and Associate Dean at the College of Science.
Leslie Tolbert, Ph. D. Regents' Professor in the University of Arizona's Department of Neuroscience

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Episode 23: Astronomers Search for Planets Outside our Solar System

For generations, humans have wondered about the possibility of what might exist outside our solar system. With the help of new technologies, astronomers have intensified their efforts to find exoplanets, which exist outside our solar system. Travis Barman, Associate Professor at the University of Arizona's Lunar and Planetary Lab explains the process behind how scientists discover these so-called young planets and how the planets form. And Barman talks about what he describes as a recent and fascinating discovery.

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Travis Barman, Associate Professor at the University of Arizona's Lunar & Planetary Laboratory
Tim Swindle, Ph.D., Director and Department Head of the U of A's Lunar and Planetary Lab

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Episode 22: Advances in Hydroponic Crop Production for Extreme and Diverse Environments

Climate change is projected to have significant impacts on food production and supply in some parts of the world. One day, space missions to the moon will need to be able to provide astronauts with a supply of fresh food and right now researchers are working at hi-tech greenhouses at the South Pole that are growing fresh vegetables. Gene Giacomelli, Director of the Controlled Environment Agriculture Center at the University of Arizona discusses the advances in hydroponic crop production within controlled environments to sustainable meet the demands for food production.

IN THIS EPISODE

Gene Giacomelli, Ph. D. and Director of the Controlled Environment Agriculture Center at the University of Arizona
Leslie Tolbert, Ph. D. Regents' Professor in the University of Arizona's Department of Neuroscience

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Episode 21: Gravitational Waves

In February, researchers announced that they had made the first detection of gravitational waves from a black-hole merger more than a billion light years from Earth. Sam Gralla, Assistant Professor of Physics at the University of Arizona says the discovery occurred nearly 100 years after Albert Einstein predicted such waves or ripples as part of his general theory of relativity. And that the finding launches the field of gravitational-wave astronomy, in which scientists will "listen" to the waves to learn more about the Universe.

IN THIS EPISODE

Sam Gralla, Assistant Professor of Physics at the University of Arizona
Tim Swindle, Ph. D., Director and Department Head of the University of Arizona's Lunar and Planetary Laboratory

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Episode 20: Earth Transformed

The 2016 University of Arizona College of Science Lecture Series explored Climate Change and its impacts. No longer merely abstract projections for the future, instead, they are on-going and growing challenges for both humans and many of the natural systems upon which we depend. Globally, changes in the oceans, ice sheets and atmosphere provide clear fingerprints of human causes, but also important lessons for society to learn as we seek solutions.

Joaquin Ruiz, Dean of the University of Arizona College of Science moderates a one-hour conversation about this important topic featuring speakers from the series. All the panelists are distinguished faculty at the University of Arizona:

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Joellen L. Russell, Associate Professor of Geoscience
Russell Monson, Louise Foucar Marshall Professor of Ecology and Evolutionary Biology and the Laboratory of Tree-Ring Research
Kacey Ernst, Associate Professor, Epidemiology ans Biostatistics, College of Public Health
Kim Ogden, Professor, Chemical and Environmental Engineering, College of Engineering
Jonathan Overpeck, Thomas R. Brown Distinguished Professor, and Regents Professor, Departments of Geosciences and Atmospheric Sciences, College of Science, Co-Director, Institute of the Environment

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Episode 19: Biochemical Approaches to Safe and Selective Control of Mosquito Borne Diseases

Mosquitos are human disease vectors that transmit pathogens through blood feeding. These human pathogens include the malarial parasite, Dengue and yellow fever viruses, West Nile and Zika viruses. Over 3,000 mosquito species are known worldwide, yet only a handful transmit human pathogens. Roger Meisfeld Ph. D. discusses biochemical approaches to safe and selective control of mosquito borne disease and why these viruses spread so quickly in high density urban areas. His research group is using modern technologies, from bioinformatics to molecular genetics, to tackle this serious - and very timely issue.

IN THIS EPISODE

Roger Miesfeld, Ph. D. Head of the Chemistry and Biochemistry Department at the University of Arizona
Leslie Tolbert, Ph. D. Regents' Professor in the University of Arizona's Department of Neuroscience

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