In the Spotlight: May 1, 2015

Kudos to these faculty, staff and students

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  • NAU received a $245,000 grant from the National Science Foundation for a project titled “Human Impacts on the Colorado Plateau: Placed Based Research and Training” by principal investigator Amy Whipple and co-principal investigator Theodore Martinez. The funds will support the training of students by expert mentors from biology, forestry and environmental sciences. The 10-week training program during the summers of 2015-2017 will provide support for tribal and community college students on their path to becoming scientists.
  • Nancy Wonders, professor of criminology and criminal justice, gave an invited lecture at the University of Coruña Faculty of Law where she spoke on borders, global inequalities and harm. Wonders also was interviewed by Spain’s fourth largest newspaper, La Voz de Galicia, about the refugee crisis in Europe.
  • Diane Vosick, director of policy and partnerships at the Ecological Restoration Institute, was in Washington this week with Coconino County Supervisor Mandy Metzger and representatives from the Grand Canyon Trust, the Nature Conservancy, Campbell Global and Good Earth Power. The group met with Arizona’s senators to discuss 4FRI’s accomplishments and next steps. Vosick also appeared before the House Committee on Natural Resources, Subcommittee on Federal Lands at an oversight hearing titled, “The Devastating Impacts of Wildland Fires and the Need to Better Manage our Overgrown, Fire-prone National Forests.”
  • NAU’s Native American Cultural Center has been awarded LEED Gold status from the U.S. Green Building Council. The building, completed in 2011, integrated Native American design and sustainability principles throughout the design and construction phases of development. The building currently serves as a one-of-a-kind gathering place for Native American students and organizations from Arizona tribes.
  • NAU’s online program has been ranked among the 50 Best Online Colleges for 2015 by The website evaluated many factors including academic excellence, scholarly strength of faculty, online teaching methods, tuition costs, reputation, awards, financial aid and range of degree programs offered.
  • Jut Wynne, assistant research professor in the Department of Biological Sciences, was a co-author on a paper titled,“Collembola of Rapa Nui with descriptions of five endemic cave-restricted species,” published in Zootaxa. The article describes five new species of springtails, small soil dwelling insects, known to occur only on Rapa Nui.
  • Beth LaCour, faculty in Extended Campuses, has been selected as a Taliesin 2015-2016 Artist-in-Residence. As artist-in-residence, LaCour will reside in Wisconsin for the month of July working and living in historic buildings originally designed and built by architect Frank Lloyd Wright who established the Taliesin Fellowship in 1932.
  • Twenty-one students gave presentations on their year-long NASA Space Grant-funded projects at the Arizona Space Grant Consortium Undergraduate Research Internship Program held in Tempe on April 18. Students presenting at the symposium included:
    • Erin Bailey, senior, computer science: “Sparking an interest in STEM” (Mentor: Margaret Vanderberg, computer science)
    • Brian Barandi, senior, physics and astronomy: “Breaks in radial stellar surface brightness in spiral galaxies” (Mentor: Deidre Hunter, Lowell Observatory)
    • Ian Beagles, senior, physics and astronomy: “Star formation in interacting galaxies” (Mentor: Lisa Chien, physics and astronomy)
    • Matt Belus, senior, biological sciences and environmental studies: “A decade of increased temperature affects soil fungal communities” (Mentor: Bruce Hungate, biological sciences)
    • Colton Bennett, sophomore, environmental studies: “Energy education” (Mentor: Mansel Nelson, ITEP)
    • Ryan Buckingham, senior, computer science: “Development of a spectrophotometric data reduction pipeline” (Mentor: Gerard Van Belle, Lowell Observatory)
    • Sheamus Carbone, junior, biomedical science and physics and astronomy: “The effect of cryogenic freezing on Chymotrypsin” (Mentor: Matthew Gage, biochemistry)
    • Caitlin Chapman, senior, biological sciences: “The importance of biogeography in determining species response to climate change” (Mentor: Neil Cobb, biological sciences)
    • Heather Charles, sophomore, physics: “Mineral abundance estimates and distribution derived from Mars dune field” (Mentor: Timothy Titus, USGS Astrogeology Science Center)
    • Larrea Cottingham, senior, biology: “The effect of a stand replacing fire on ectomycorrhizal fungi inoculum potential” (Mentor: Catherine Gehring, biology)
    • Sierra Ferguson, junior, physics and astronomy: “Search for central pit craters on Saturn’s icy moons” (Mentor: Nadine Barlow, physics and astronomy)
    • Rene Horne, junior, environmental sciences: “Remote sensing analysis of an invasive plant in Glen Canyon” (Mentor: Temuulen Sankey, informatics and computing)
    • Wilson Lough, junior, mathematics and physics: “The unimodular determinant spectrum problem” (Mentor: Jeff Rushall, mathematics and statistics)
    • Benjamin Luginbuhl, senior, biochemistry: “Agar-derived carbon aerogels for electrode enhancement in structural supercapacitors” (Mentor: Cindy Browder, chemistry and biochemistry)
    • Tressa Mackin, senior, physics: “Real-time surface profiling of industrial materials using digital holography” (Mentor: Christopher Mann, physics and astronomy)
    • Darienne Nez, senior, biological sciences: “Arizona crustaceans in extreme environments: Effects of elevated CO2 and arsenic in Montezuma Well” (Mentor: Stephen Shuster, biological sciences)
    • Leonard Peshlakai, senior, electrical engineering: “Repeat-accumulate codes with modified iterative decoding algorithms” (Mentor: Sheryl Howard, electrical engineering)
    • Daniel Raggio, senior, astronomy and geophysics: “Modeling heat transfer from Enceladus’ Tiger Stripes” (Mentor: Oleg Abramov, USGS Astrogeology Science Center)
    • Kailey Roberts, senior, biology: “Science writing and public outreach” (Mentor: Randy Wilson, Arizona Daily Sun)
    • Justin Wilgus, senior, geology: “The mystery of transverse aeolian ridges on Mars” (Mentor: Paul Geissler, USGS Astrogeology Science Center)
    • Nuria Wright-Garba, senior, physics and astronomy: “Star formation in the Tadpole disrupted galaxy” (Mentor: Lisa Chien, physics and astronomy)