In the Spotlight: April 27, 2016

Kudos to these faculty, staff and students

Do you have a spotlight item to share with the NAU community?

E-mail your announcements to, or use our online submission form.

  • Zachary Smith, Regents’ professor of politics and international affairs, recently had the third edition of his book Environmental Politics and Policy in the West published by the University of Colorado press.
  • Allen Z. Reich, professor in the School of Hotel and Restaurant Management, was one of five academics invited to participate in Conference for Food Protection in Boise, Idaho. The biennial meeting brings together representatives from the food industry, government, academia and consumer organizations to identify and address emerging problems of food safety and to formulate recommendations. Reich will contribute to the FDA’s Division of Human Resource Development regarding the creation of a consistent food safety training process. Approximately 90 percent of the issues voted on and passed at the meetings are incorporated into the FDA Food Code that governs the majority of food and beverage outlets in the United States.
  • Argentina trip
    From left to right: Pablo Sesma, Marta Alicia Juárez de Tuzza, Melissa Armstrong, Liz Grobsmith, Rector Alicia Bardón-Rectora, Christine Meyer, Hugo Fernández abd Roberto Lencina.

    Liz Grobsmith, interim director of the Center for International Education, and Melissa Armstrong, director for the Global Science and Engineering Program, visited the National University of Tucumán on April 21 to establish NAU’s first bilateral exchange agreement in Argentina. The agreement brings long-term sustainability to the initial 100,000 Strong in the Americas project, enabling field course exchange in geology and energy policy. Cultural attaché Christine Meyer joined the signing ceremony representing the U.S. Department of State.

  • Northern Arizona University has been named a Tree Campus USA by the Arbor Day Foundation. The national program honors colleges and universities for effective campus forest management and for engaging staff and students in conservation goals. NAU achieved the honor by meeting Tree Campus USA’s five standards, which include maintaining a tree advisory committee, a campus tree-care plan, dedicated annual expenditures for its campus tree program, an Arbor Day observance and student service-learning project.
  • Jut Wynne, of NAU’s Merriam-Powell Center for Environmental Research, gave a Google Hangout talk for Exploring by the Seat of Your Pants, a program that connects students with guest speaker lessons and virtual field trips around the world. Speaking to six classrooms across Canada and the United States, Wynne discussed planetary cave exploration and fielded questions on cave bugs, bats and what it is like to work underground.

  • Workshop panelistsSchool of Communication faculty members Norman Medoff and Toni DeAztlan-Smith hosted a panel on minority workshops at the Broadcast Education Association. The pair discussed the Andy Harvey Native American Broadcast Journalism workshop that brings 20 high school students to NAU each summer for a week of hands-on radio and TV broadcast training.
  • Students and faculty in the NAU Master of Arts in Teaching English as a Second Language program traveled to Baltimore to host the Master’s Student Forum at the 2016 TESOL International Convention. Second-year graduate students Kevin Hirschi, Jesse Conway and Aysenur Sagdic organized and chaired the student forum alongside faculty advisor William Crawford. The event, a culmination of a year of observation, planning, proposal reviewing and coordination with partner universities, featured 45 paper presentations and 15 poster presentations from graduate students around the world.
  • Belize excavationSenior anthropology major Tia Watkins has received the National Geographic Young Explorers Award to conduct archaeological research in western Belize. The award helps cover field costs for “hard-working, passionate, creative individuals with great ideas.” Working under the supervision of anthropology professor Jaime Awe, Watkins will spend her summer excavating a palace complex at the Belize River Valley site of Lower Dover as part of the Belize Valley Archaeological Reconnaissance Project. Through her research Watkins hopes to determine when the palace complex was constructed, whether the occupants were members of the site’s ruling elite and when the palace was abandoned.
  • Under the direction of associate professor Patricia Murphy, NAU VisualDESIGNLab students are finalizing a comprehensive brand identity project for A New Dawn AZ, a new non-profit established to increase access to comprehensive and restorative dental services. The partnership allows School of Communication students to use their design thinking skills for the greater good. Participating students include Kayla Velasquez, Elana Leifer, Lauren Pantages and George Chi.
  • Thirteen students gave presentations on their year-long NASA Space Grant-funded projects at the Arizona Space Grant Consortium Undergraduate Research Internship Program held in Tucson on April 16. Students presenting at the symposium included:
    • Willy Andrews, sophomore, chemistry and modern languages: “A solid polymer electrolyte for multifunctional material development” (Mentor: Constantin Ciocanel, mechanical engineering)
    • Ian Avilez, senior, physics and astronomy: “Confirming disk presence and determining temperature for young multiple star system TWA3” (Mentor: Lisa Prato, Lowell Observatory)
    • Michelle Barton, junior, geology: “Analysis of geomorphic features and inter-crater bas strata of Hadriacus Cavi, Mars, through large-scale geologic mapping and section correlation” (Mentor: James Skinner, US Geological Survey Astrogeology Science Center)
    • Shyanne Dustrud, senior, chemistry: “Kinetic of phase formation and microstructure of high purity silicon nitride” (Mentor: Mark Hawthorne, ATC Materials)
    • Christopher Gass, senior, mechanical engineering: “Unmanned Aerial System (UAS) for wildlife tracking” (Mentor: Michael Shafer, mechanical engineering)
    • Alexandra Huff, senior, geology: “Placing new constraints on the unexpectedly complex formation of Meteor Crater” (Mentor: Justin Hagerty, USGS Astrogeology Science Center)
    • Kiril Kirkov, junior, anthropology: “Stars for the Future” (Mentor: Rachel Tso, School of Communication)
    • Tracey Lee, senior, applied indigenous studies: “The Federal Clean Power Plan and carbon emissions on the Navajo Nation” (Mentor: Mansel Nelson, Institute for Tribal Environmental Professionals)
    • Etude O’Neel-Judy, junior, physics and mathematics: “Characterizing the evolution of Mars south polar jets and fans using CRISM-THEMIS observations” (Mentor: Timothy Titus, USGS Astrogeology Science Center)
    • Austin Shannon, senior, biomedical science: “Scientific journalism: Its significance and my personal experience” (Mentor: Randy Wilson, Arizona Daily Sun)
    • Annette Sunda, junior, geology: “Effects of sediment source on dune activity, Navajo Nation, Arizona” (Mentor: Lee Amoroso, geology)
    • Tristan Swatts, sophomore, biomedical science: “Noise, instruction, and cognitive performance” (Mentor: Melissa Birkett, psychology)
    • Nathan White, senior, physics and astronomy: “Characterization of layered ejecta blankets in the southern hemisphere of Mars” (Mentor: Nadine Barlow, physics and astronomy)