New College screening film about Japanese internment camps during WWII

Minori Yasui film screeningOn October 21, 2016, the Japanese American Citizens League (JACL) will be showing two screenings for the film, “Never Give Up! Minoru Yasui and the Fight for Justice.” The screenings will take place at ASU’s West campus, with the first beginning at 3:00 p.m. in Lecture Hall 110, and the second beginning at 7:00 p.m. in KIVA Lecture Hall.
The film, “Never Give Up! Minoru Yasui and the Fight for Justice” is based on the life of an American hero and first Japanese American attorney, Minoru (Min) Yasui. The film follows his life, particularly during World War II and the U.S. War Relocation Authority concentration camps. Yasui played a key role in winning reparations and an apology from the government for the injustices faced by Japanese-Americans for the incarceration of more than 120,000 individuals. The film features the injustices Yasui faced including his own arrest, where he spent nine months in solitary confinement. However, this did not stop him as Yasui continued to fight hard to defend the human and civil rights of for all ethnic minorities as well, including religious minorities, children and the elderly, among other minority groups. Yasui went on to implement and oversee numerous programs and organizations to serve their communities.
The screening of this film is free and open to the public. For more information on the film, click here.

Pre-health program at New College gives ASU grads leg up in med school applications

Unique research on bees conducted by ASU graduate students at West campus has opened new doors for their future.
Adam Lowe, a recent ASU alumni and new scholar at University of Queensland-Ochsner, and Zackary St. Peter, an ASU biology graduate and a current graduate scholar at Georgetown University’s College of Medicine, had the opportunity to research and document the various types of native bees in Phoenix and their preferred floral host relationships. The research was conducted under the supervision of New College faculty member, Dr. Jennifer Foltz-Sweat, research that is set for publication, and helped Lowe and St. Peter stand out from their peers while applying for medical school.
President Obama’s Pollinator Initiative Act was a key inspiration in their research. This initiative focused on increasing crops to alleviate world hunger by restoring pollinator life and interaction. Dr. Foltz-Sweat and her team had set the goal of the project to evaluate the dynamics of pollinator interactions within urban landscapes present in southwest Phoenix. Prior to the research, Dr. Foltz-Sweat and Zackary collected data from a manuscript based on pollinator networks from a previous study in order to build the baseline data for the bee species community. From this information, the team was able to construct a representation of plant-pollinator networks.
Next, the research team focused primarily on the native bees and compared them based on the biodiversity, urbanization, and sustainability present in four particular locations: two at the dense urban landscape the ASU West campus, and the other two at the semi-natural landscape at Piestewa Peak. The team strategically used a protocol of pan trapping and aerial netting by placing traps in an “X” formation and created a plant list. They would net native bees and note its flower, then used their findings to compare the bees in the two communities and see how the variation of the landscape affected the community composition.
Bee Ecology graph from New CollegeIt was discovered that the dense urban landscape surrounding Arizona State University at the West campus had greater bee species diversity compared to the semi-natural landscape at Piestewa Peak. The graph below shows the impact the local flowers have on bee inhabitants. It was evident that the diversification of flowers is key in maintaining a stable and desired pollinator network. Furthermore, it was noted that when an environment is interrupted or urbanized, there is a negative impact to the community. In conclusion, the native bee community is able to maintain its diversity in the face of the growing urbanization as long as there are adequate floral resources available. A potential solution to sustaining the pollinator network would be to increase the variety of floral resources in the areas that are constantly being interrupted or urbanized.
St. Peter and Lowe agree that the Life Science program was a resourceful and amazing opportunity. Adam states this project is a great way to connect with your field, believing that undergraduate programs shouldn’t just be about meeting the requirements to get a degree, but it is a time to take advantage of the opportunity to learn as much as possible. He continues on to say that New College’s Life Science program (now the Biology B.S. degree program) allows students to choose from a wide range of electives anywhere from animal behavior to the human environment. These are the electives that blossomed the desire for him to take part in this research with Dr. Foltz-Sweat. Adam strongly believes “this kind of opportunity can only be achieved with a program like the one offered at New College.” As for Zach, the West campus was not only convenient in location, but the students and overall environment influenced him to take as many classes as possible on this particular campus. Additionally, he was able to sit down with Sue. LaFond, Pre-Health Advisor at New College, who provided the assistance he needed to begin his medical application process. LaFond played a key role in his application timeline, giving him the necessary support from beginning to end.
“I can honestly say that I would not be in medical school without the help of Ms. LaFond…[she] should be contacted by any ASU student interested in medicine.”
For more information on the New College of Interdisciplinary Arts and Sciences at ASU’s West campus, or the numerous research opportunities available to pre-health students, click here.

Erika Camacho Featured by the American Mathematical Society (AMS)

ASU New College associate professor Erika Camacho.
ASU New College associate professor Erika Camacho.
This year the American Mathematical Society (AMS) is showcasing the contribution of 31 Hispanic and Latino Mathematicians for Hispanic Heritage Month with the “Lathisms (Latin@s and Hispanic in the Mathematical Sciences)” project. Dr. Camacho is honored to be featured in this project for October 18th.  Many of the other mathematicians featured in this project are also active members of the Society for the Advancement of Chicanos and Native Americans in the Sciences (SACNAS) . See http://lathisms.org . Every day at midnight, the mathematician of the day is revealed and paragraph describing this mathematician’s research, a short bio and a statement made by the featured mathematician about Latin@s and Hispanics in science is also revealed.

Exploring Opposing Sides of the Abortion Ethics Issue

Author Bertha Manninen's bookDr. Bertha Alvarez Manninen, Associate Professor, School of Humanities, Arts, and Cultural Studies examines ethics, applied ethics, philosophy of religion, and philosophy and film. Her most recent journal publications include articles in: Journal of Religion and Film, Kennedy Institute of Ethics, Journal of Bioethical Inquiry, Hypatia, and Journal of Medical Ethics. Her 2014 book Pro-Life, Pro-Choice: Shared Values in the Abortion Debate (Vanderbilt University Press) explores ways in which individuals on the opposing sides of the abortion ethics issue can come together and build upon some commonly shared values.

Help Solve a Critical Problem of Our Time

Theresa Devine, MFA Director of the Studio 4 Gaming Innovation within the School of Humanities and Cultural Studies theresa-devineis an accomplished artist with an award winning body of work. Theresa is currently drafting a submission for the 100 & Change MacArthur Foundation Grant challenge, which will Award $100 Million to Help Solve a Critical Problem of Our Time. She is spear heading an ambitious proposal to dismantle the cultural norms and prevailing perceptions, attitudes, and, ultimately, policies and procedures that perpetuate the oppression of persons with an ambulatory disability (PWAD). Theresa has organized a multidisciplinary team of scholars and community experts, including Lance Greathouse and Janis Greenhouse, the co-founders of Wheelchair Labs. Appearances, articles and interviews of their innovations, inventions and wheelchair works include appearances on ABC TV’s Shark Tank, PBS Horizon, National Geographic’s Mad Scientists, Discovery Channel, History Channel’s Invention USA, and Science Channel’s Underground Science. Other Team Leads of this project, include: Dr. Prasad Boradkar (Industrial Design), Dr. Troy McDaniel (Human Computer Interface), Dr. Robert Farr (Psychology), Dr. Kurt Johnson (Disability Studies), Dr. Natasha Behl (Assistant Professor, Social and Behavioral Sciences), Dr. Dijiang Huang (Computer Science)

Balancing Ralph Waldo’s Regionalism with Cosmopolitanism

Dr. Christopher Hanlon, Associate Professor, School of Humanities, Arts, and Cultural Studies, recently published three christopher-hanlonchapters in separate collections of contemporary transatlantic literary scholarship. “Emerson’s Atlantic States” appears in The Edinburgh Companion to Atlantic Literary Studies (eds. Clare Elliot and Leslie Eckel, Edinburgh UP, 2016) and focuses on Ralph Waldo Emerson’s balancing of regionalism with cosmopolitanism. “Under the Atlantic,” included in The Handbook of North American Transatlantic Studies (ed. Julia Straub, de Gruyter, 2016), examines the floor of the Atlantic as a geography that preoccupied a generation of U.S. and British poets whose interest in subaquaceous space responded to the advent of the Atlantic telegraph. And “On Transatlantic Simultaneity and Misunderstanding Telegraphy, which appears in Nineteenth-Century Culture and Transatlantic Intellectual Networks” (ed. Erik Redling, de Gruyter, 2016) draws out a tendency to misconstrue the nature of nineteenth-century information technology—its workings, its capabilities, its mechanics—alongside a literary tradition that enshrined such misunderstandings with giddy forecasts of the technology’s probable future impact.

The impact of sampling on big data analysis of social media

Dr Kuai Xu, Associate Professor, School of Mathematical and Natural Sciences, is studying the impact of sampling on big data analysis of social media by focusing on case studies of flu and ebola. With collaborators Dr. Feng Wang (Associate Professor, School of Mathematical and Natural Sciences), Dr. Xiaohua Jia (City University of Hong Kong) and Dr. Haiyan Wang (Professor, School of mathematical and Natural Sciences), they published their findings at The 58th IEEE Global Communications Conference (GLOBECOM 2015), the flagship conferences of the IEEE Communications Society. The communications-societyexplosive growth of online social networks in recent years have generated massive amount of data-sets in user behaviors, social graphs, and contents. Given the scale, heterogeneity, and diversity of such big data, sampling becomes a simple and intuitive approach to reduce the size of the data-sets for collecting, measuring, and understanding users, behaviors and traffic in online social networks. In their paper, they quantify the impact of random sampling on the analysis of online social networks with Twitter streaming data as a case study. In addition, they design different sampling strategies including community sampling and strata sampling, and evaluate their impact on a broad range of behavioral characteristics of online social networks. Their experimental results show that community sampling has the minimum impact on tweet distributions across users and the structure of retweeting graphs, while achieving the similar data reductions as random and stratified sampling.

Dr. Becky Ball’s 7th Field Season in Antarctica Funded by NSF

antDr. Becky Ball, assistant professor in the School of Mathematical and Natural Sciences, recently completed her 7th field season in Antarctica. Her National Science Foundation (NSF) funded project includes collaborations with the University of New Mexico, University if Western Sydney and the British Antarctic Survey. The Antarctic Peninsula is experiencing rapid environmental changes, which will influence the community of organisms that live there. Dr Ball studies soil biology (including bacteria, fungi, and invertebrates) responsible for many important processes that sustain ecosystems, such as nutrient recycling. Dr. Ball was accompanied by an undergraduate student from New College for Interdisciplinary Arts and Sciences to sample the soil community at many sites along the Antarctic Peninsula to discover how the community changes with environmental conditions from north to south. Her work with help us to understand more about the ways in which plant cover and climate conditions influence soil biodiversity and will allow predictions of how communities will respond to future changes such as climate warming and invasive plant species.

Groundbreaking Research in Preventing Degenerative Diseases of the Eye

Journal of Theorical BiologyDr. Stephen Wirkus, associate professor and interim associate director, School of Mathematical and Natural Sciences, recently published a journal article “Quantifying the Metabolic Contribution to Photoreceptor Death in Retinitis Pigmentosa via a Mathematical Model” in the Journal of Theoretical Biology. Co-authors are ASU colleague Erika Camacho and world-renowned researchers at the Institut de la Vision in Paris, Drs. Thierry Leveillard and Jose-Alain Sahel as well as experimentalist Dr. Claudio Punzo of the University of Massachusetts Medical School. This work is groundbreaking in that it begins to provide a mathematical foundation for understanding key interactions between types of photoreceptors and may lead to approaches that can prevent degenerative diseases of the eye.