As coastal communities continue to rebuild in the wake of Hurricane Sandy, scientists at this week’s annual meeting of the American Geophysical Union offer some encouraging news: The storm did not seriously damage the offshore barrier system that controls erosion on Long Island. Long-term concerns remain about the effects on the region of sea-level rise, pollutants churned up by the storm within back-barrier estuaries, and the damage closer to shore, but in the near-term, Long Island residents can rebuild knowing that Hurricane Sandy did not significantly alter the offshore barrier systems that control coastal erosion on the island.
The findings are based on pre-storm survey data compared with post-storm data acquired through a collaborative rapid response science mission to the south shore of Long Island led by scientists at The University of Texas at Austin’s Institute for Geophysics, Adelphi University, Stony Brook University and other institutions in the New York metro area. The purpose of the mission, conducted last January, was to assess the post-Sandy health of the offshore barrier system that protects the New York Harbor and southwestern Long Island region against damage from future storms.
The team conducted marine geophysical surveys of the seafloor and shallow subsurface to map the sedimentary impact of the hurricane on the beach/barrier systems of selected bay, inlet and nearshore areas of portions of the south shore of Long Island.
Using a CHIRP (compressed high-intensity radar pulse) sonar system and an even higher frequency seafloor mapping system supplied by Stony Brook University, the scientists used two research vessels to profile the seafloor and upper sediment layers of the ocean bottom. They surveyed three representative segments of the shoreface that protects Long Island, each segment about 15 meters deep, one mile offshore and roughly six square miles in size.
The storm, they found, did not significantly erode these sampled segments of shoreface.
“The shape of the bedforms that make up the barrier system did not change a whole lot,” said co-principal investigator John Goff of the Institute for Geophysics. “Where we might have expected to see significant erosion based on long-term history, not a lot happened — nothing that ate into the shoreface.”
“The sand largely took the blow,” added co-principal investigator Jamie Austin of the Institute for Geophysics. “Like a good barricade, the barrier system absorbed the significant blow, but held.”
This was not the case in other storm-ravaged zones the Texas team has surveyed. When Hurricane Ike hit Galveston in 2008, the storm significantly disrupted the thin finer-grained sediment layer offshore, removing material underneath the shoreline in a way that exacerbated long-term problems of erosion.
Compared with Galveston, Long Island has a greater abundance of sand in its overall system. The storm churned up much of this sand and moved bedforms, but the scientists speculate that the greater abundance of sand helped the offshore barriers maintain their overall shape and integrity as erosional barriers.
Tempering this good news, the survey team also found evidence the storm brought new pollutants into the waters off Long Island. Heavy metals were detected in a layer of mud that the storm deposited offshore. Beth Christensen of Adelphi University traced the metals back to muds from Long Island’s South Shore Estuary Reserve, which has a long history of pollution from industry and human habitation.
By this summer, natural forces had dispersed the layer of mud offshore, and the concentrations of toxic chemicals were not high enough to be an immediate concern, said Christensen.
“But if we continue to see more events like Sandy, we’ll see the introduction of more and more muds from the estuary,” said Christensen, “adding additional toxins to an already stressed system.”
Continued sea-level rise will also create more pressure on the barrier system, heightening problems onshore. With higher sea level, all of the onshore effects of a storm like Sandy will go up, Goff said.
“In the long-term, if sea level gets high enough, the barrier system has no choice but to retreat and move landwards,” exposing the shoreline to increased erosion, said Goff. “But at least for the present, there’s no evidence of that being imminent.”
The mission was the sixth rapid response science mission funded by the Jackson School of Geosciences at The University of Texas at Austin. (The Institute for Geophysics is a research unit within the Jackson School.) The missions place geoscientists on the scenes of natural disasters as quickly as possible to measure the often vanishing traces of hurricanes, earthquakes, tsunamis and other disasters.
“The faster we get out into the field to measure Earth’s response to naturally destructive events, the better we can relate data to the disasters,” said Austin.
A video on the Hurricane Sandy rapid response mission is available at http://youtu.be/2UZIgisyjy8.
Yes, that was a Lady Gaga tune you heard emanating from the Tower bells, perhaps followed by “Happy Birthday” and then a Bach minuet.
The carillon—the instrument used to play the bells—may be an ancient apparatus with origins in the 1600s, but in the hands of the students in the UT Guild of Carillonneurs, it swings easily between Baroque and “Bad Romance,” folk and “The Final Countdown.”Current student director Austin Ferguson (center) with past guild officers Jacy Meador (left) and Camellia Onn. [Via The University of Texas Guild of Carillonneurs on Facebook.]
In December they play holiday music, although student director Austin Ferguson often sneaks it in before Thanksgiving. They take requests via Twitter (#PlaytheTower), perform special concerts and pick songs to match the day’s events (“The Sound of Music” on Julie Andrews’ birthday). The students have played memorial recitals for the Texas A&M bonfire victims, the Boston Marathon bombings and 9/11.
Every set begins with the Welsh folk song “Ash Grove” and concludes with “The Eyes of Texas.”
The bells are a beloved campus tradition, although few get to see or play them, perched high in the Tower and spanning 4.5 octaves. With 56 bells, UT’s carillon (called the Kniker Carillon) is the largest and heaviest in Texas, with the low B flat 2 bell weighing in at 7,350 pounds and the high G7 a mere 20 pounds.
In room 3002, 55 steps up from the Tower’s observation deck and past a series of guarded doors and narrow passages, the guild members sit at the carillon’s organ-like console, striking a system of batons and pedals that ring the bells mounted in a chamber above.A panoramic view of the Tower bells. [Via The University of Texas Guild of Carillonneurs on Facebook.]
The students come from many backgrounds. Ferguson is a music theory and government/pre-law junior, while other current guild members are studying oboe, computer science, business, Arabic and environmental science. They are members of an exclusive group that includes alumnus carillonneur Tom Anderson, who still plays today, 61 years after he first started as a music student in 1952.
Membership to the guild is granted only after passing two rounds of a semester-long audition and weekly lessons. The guild abides by an official constitution and is not to exceed nine members at any time.
They are devoted to the instrument and tend to seek out other carillons to play when traveling. Ferguson even has a bell tattooed on his left ankle.
So the next time you step outside on campus, pay close attention. You never know what you’re going to hear.WATCH: A few of our favorite carillon performances
This story is part of our yearlong series “The Creative Campus,” which showcases student creativity.
The University of Texas at Austin has risen to 21st place in Kiplinger’s Personal Finance’s list of 100 best values in public colleges for 2014. The ranking cites four-year schools that combine outstanding education with economic value.
In Kiplinger’s 2013 report, The University of Texas at Austin had been ranked 27th.
“Kiplinger’s Best Value ranking is one I am always proud of, so I’m delighted to see the leap we have made in this list,” said President Bill Powers. “We have said for years that UT Austin is an outstanding value. It is nice to have a respected organization like Kiplinger’s recognize and quantify that.”
The annual public school rankings appear in Kiplinger’s February 2014 issue, which goes on newsstands Dec. 31 and is now online.
Kiplinger’s reviews such measures as admission rates, the percentage of students who return for sophomore year, the student-faculty ratio and the four-year graduation rate. The rankings also examine tuition and fees, financial aid offerings and average student debt at graduation.
“This year’s top 100 schools have made admirable strides to maintain academic integrity and standards while meeting the financial needs of their students,” said Janet Bodnar, editor of Kiplinger’s Personal Finance.
The University of Texas at Austin also ranks 46th in academic reputation among the top national universities and 16th among the public schools in the 2014 U.S. News & World Report magazine’s survey of undergraduate programs. At the graduate level, 40 university programs and specialties rank in the top 10 nationally. Eighteen others rank in the top 25.
The Center for World University Rankings ranks UT Austin 26th, and the Times Higher Education ranks the university 25th in the world.
UT Austin also is one of 17 schools nationwide awarded an “A” for core curriculum by The American Council of Trustees and Alumni via WhatWillTheyLearn.com.
Kiplinger’s: UT Austin among America’s Best Values (Tower Talk, President Bill Powers’ blog)
Kiplinger’s ranks the top 100 four-year schools that combine outstanding education with economic value. The journal factors in admission rates, percentage of students who return for their sophomore year, student-faculty ratio, and four-year graduation rate. The rankings also examine tuition and fees, financial aid offerings, and average student debt at graduation.
A university is only a good value if it provides a high-quality education. UT Austin currently ranks 27th in the world according to Times Higher Education and 26th in the world according to the Center for World University Rankings. We should take great pride in these assessments.
This story is part of our yearlong series “In Pursuit of Health,” covering medical news and research happening across the university.With management input from McCombs School of Business senior lecturer Kristie Loescher, an Austin emergency room reduced its average door-to-doctor time to under 30 minutes, and the percentage of patients who gave up and left was sliced in half.
In a corner of downtown Austin in 2011, the emergency department at Brackenridge Hospital was facing a problem common to many older, inner-city hospitals: too many patients in too little space with too little time.
“It wasn’t sized for the number of patients coming through there,” says Kristie Loescher, senior lecturer in management at the McCombs School of Business, who formerly spent 14 years as a hospital administrator.
A key reform in the business of health care: Providers are taking management ideas from unexpected sources of inspiration, such as assembly lines.
As a Level 1 trauma center, the department couldn’t turn any patient away. But incoming cases might wait four hours to see a nurse, sometimes spilling over into hallways. Surveys showed that 7 percent left without any treatment, and satisfaction scores were down in the 18th percentile.
Under recent rules from Medicare and Medicaid, low satisfaction ratings could result in financial penalties. So could high rates of readmission, if patients didn’t get proper treatment.
With input from Loescher, the hospital reinvented its ER. In the process, it illustrated a key reform in the business of health care: Providers are taking management ideas from unexpected sources of inspiration, such as assembly lines.Find the Bottleneck
Critical chain theory, first published in 1984 by Israeli physicist Eliyahu Goldratt, shows managers how to get the highest levels of production from an assembly line. The advice: Zero in on the tightest bottleneck in the chain. Then adjust the other stages of the process, to make the bottleneck run at top capacity.
“When you’re looking at efficiency in a system, you don’t care about the efficiency of each part of the system,” Loescher explains. “Focus on the scarce resource, and make sure that scarce resource is always working,”
At Brackenridge, a team of doctors and nurses, led by emergency services director and School of Nursing instructor Kevin Craven, determined the scarce resource was beds. The team reorganized both procedures and room layouts to ensure that no bed would ever go empty. Staff could migrate from one role to another, depending on need, which inspired the name Flex-Flow.
Under Flex-Flow, a check-in nurse would take vital signs and move a patient to the first available bed in under five minutes. Within 30 minutes, a triage nurse would collect a full medical history and direct a patient to the right room and doctor. After testing, the patient would await results in a newly created continuing care waiting room. The bed was freed for the next patient in line.
At each stage, a nurse would inform the patient what to expect next, and how long it would take. “Communication goes a long way,” says charge nurse and 2007 nursing graduate LaTashia Kiel, who worked with Loescher to write up the program’s results. “Even when things are crazy busy, when we try to explain to the patient what is going on, we see their symptoms calm down.”Satisfaction Improving
The program was launched in January 2012. By December, it was showing results. The average door-to-doctor time was cut to under 30 minutes. The percentage of patients who gave up and left was sliced in half, to 3 percent.
Meanwhile, patient satisfaction climbed. December surveys showed 48 percent of patients rated staff as excellent, up from 33 percent a year before. Compared to other hospitals, Brackenridge now scores in the 50th percentile.
Flex-Flow’s ultimate goals are still higher: to lift satisfaction scores into the 75th percentile, and have fewer than 1 percent of patients leave without treatment. In the meantime, Loescher and Kiel hope the program can be a model for other hospitals, as health care reform pushes them to become more efficient.
The health care industry “thinks it’s so different from other businesses that it often doesn’t pay attention to their lessons,” says Loescher. “Critical chain theory is not new. But it’s new to health care.
“Flex-Flow cut through a lot of traditional lines and focused on what was really important. It’s making sure people get the care they need and focusing resources on the people who need it the most. And in the end, it’s also more cost-effective. Doing things right is usually also doing things more cost-effectively.”
This story is part of our yearlong series “Eyes on Innovation,” which explores UT’s world-changing ideas, fascinating discoveries and new ways of doing things.Joshua Baer, Capital Factory founder and Longhorn Startup mentor, welcomes participants to 2013 Longhorn Startup Demo Day. [Photo courtesy of the Center for Lifelong Engineering Education]
For one night in December Mark Cuban left the Dallas Mavericks’ sidelines and a took a break from Shark Tank to hear pitches from student entrepreneurs in the Longhorn Startup Program.
The fifth annual Demo Day, held Dec. 5, had a packed house in the LBJ Auditorium to hear a conversation between Cuban and Bob Metcalfe, professor of innovation at the Cockrell School of Engineering and director of Longhorn Startup. RetailMeNot CEO Cotter Cunningham also took the stage, and 14 student startups made presentations.
“The difference here from Shark Tank is that you have to have sales,” Cuban said. “But other than that, I would say some of the pitches I saw here tonight were better than ones I’ve seen on Shark Tank.”
Cuban discussed his past experiences with business, from his teenage years when he sold stamps to his current ownership of the Dallas Mavericks, reported The Daily Texan. He also gave advice to entrepreneurs.
Biomedical engineering senior Ani Sharma told The Daily Texan that through the Longhorn Startup Program he learned what it takes to put together and commercialize a product. “I want to hear the feedback people give me as we look to move our business forward,” he said. At Demo Day, Sharma presented the startup MicroMulsion, a new technology for cell culture research.
During the semester, Longhorn Startup Lab students not only work on developing their startups (which they must already have in progress before applying to the program), they also participate in lecture series and networking events, as well as receive hands-on mentoring from hand-picked entrepreneurs and experts.
Check out a Storify collection of tweets, photos and other posts from the evening’s events.
[&amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;lt;a href="//storify.com/CockrellSchool/longhornstartup-demoday2013" target="_blank"&amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;gt;View the story "Fifth @LonghornStartup Demo Day inspires &amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp; impresses" on Storify&amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;lt;/a&amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;gt;]
The university congratulates our 2013 fall graduates!
Fall Commencement will take place on Saturday, Dec. 7 and Sunday, Dec. 8. Convocation ceremonies by schools and colleges will honor about 3,064 students who will receive degrees at the end of the fall semester.
The graduating students include about 2,322 undergraduates, 576 students receiving their master’s degrees, 148 doctoral students and 18 law students.
In honor of graduates receiving their degrees during the 2013 Fall Commencement ceremonies, the Tower will be lit orange with “13” displayed in the windows on each side. It will remain lit throughout the evening Saturday, Dec. 7, and again Sunday, Dec. 8.
In addition to official convocation and graduation ceremonies, other celebrations will honor graduating students. These include:
- The Great Texas Exit, an open house event hosted by the Texas Exes alumni for members of the fall class and their families at the Etter-Harbin Alumni Center, 2110 San Jacinto Blvd. The event is from 5 to 7 p.m. on Dec. 6.
- The fall Latino Graduation Ceremony, sponsored by the Latino Leadership Council, will be held at 3 p.m. on Dec. 8 in the Student Activity Center. Graduates should arrive by 1:30 p.m. The ceremony provides Latino graduates, along with their parents, family and friends, an opportunity to celebrate their success and accomplishments at the university.
Fall graduation activities do not include a university-wide commencement ceremony. More information about fall convocations for individual colleges and schools is available online.
Join us as we celebrate the remarkable achievements of the class of 2013. Hook ‘em!
2013 Fall College, School and Department Convocation Schedule
2013 Fall Commencement Website
Fall Graduates to be Honored Dec. 7 and 8 at The University of Texas at Austin (UT News)
Congratulations, New Graduates (Tower Talk, President Bill Powers’ blog)
Share your fall commencement memories using the hashtag #UTgrad.
On Saturday, 3,244 students will enter the next phase of their Longhorn careers, graduating and so becoming Texas Exes. I welcome the families of our new graduates to the Forty Acres, and I celebrate with them this momentous event in the lives of their children, brothers and sisters, spouses, and in some cases, parents.
New graduates, I look forward to seeing what you do with the education you received here. At UT Austin we say “What starts here changes the world,” and we mean it. The Eyes of Texas — and of the world — are upon you, so make the most of your lives. Stay in touch with your classmates, your professors, your deans, and with me, and come back often to visit your alma mater.
Congratulations to all of our graduates and to all of their loved ones who have helped them reach this point. And Hook ’em Horns!
Due to inclement weather, The University of Texas at Austin will open at 10 a.m. today, Friday, Dec. 6. Classes scheduled for before 10 a.m. today have been rescheduled for the same time Monday, Dec. 9.
Updates and additional information about special events scheduled for today will be posted online at www.utexas.edu/emergency/. As the situation progresses, updates specific to closure and reopening will be available through local media, the emergency web page, and by calling the university’s general information number, 512-232-9999.
The university community is shocked and saddened by the death of Ronnie Smith in Benghazi. Ronnie was a proud Texas Ex who earned a master's degree in chemistry at The University of Texas at Austin in 2006. He was an enthusiastic and outgoing student. His death is a tragedy for the campus and our nation.
Department of Defense Panel to meet at UT Austin to Review Military’s Systems Involving Adult Sexual Assault
Event: An independent panel will convene at The University of Texas at Austin to discuss the systems used in the investigation, prosecution and adjudication of crimes involving adult sexual assault and related offenses under military law.
When: Dec. 11 and 12 from 8:20 a.m. to 6 p.m. each day.
Where: Multipurpose Conference Room 207 of the San Jacinto Residence Hall, at the corner of San Jacinto Boulevard and 21st Street.
Background: Issues and suggestions discussed or brought to the attention of the panel during the meeting will be considered in developing recommendations to improve the effectiveness of systems in the military dealing with adult sexual assault issues.
“We are pleased to welcome the Response Systems Panel to The University of Texas at Austin for this important meeting” said Noël Busch-Armendariz, associate dean for research at the School of Social Work and director of the Institute on Domestic Violence and Sexual Assault. “Our research indicates that the professionals in the response systems need better tools and strategies to more effectively address the pervasiveness and complexity of this crime. This public meeting and the ultimate panel recommendations to Congress will shift the military response. These recommendations will be a pivot toward justice for victims and accountability for offenders.”
The format for the meetings will be a discussion among panelists including secretary of defense appointees and congressional appointees.
The public may submit written comments and requests for oral presentations by emailing the deputy staff director (email@example.com) at least five business days prior to the meeting. All written comments will be treated as public documents. Upon prior written request, oral presentations by members of the public will be permitted each day during the last 15 minutes of the meeting, on a first-come basis. For more information, visit http://responsesystemspanel.whs.mil.
The Response Systems Panel held previous public meetings in Washington, D.C., this year during June, September and early November.
Panel members appointed by the secretary of defense include the Honorable Barbara S. Jones, U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York (retired); Mai Fernandez, executive director of the National Center for Victims of Crime; Former U.S. Rep. Elizabeth Holtzman of New York; Vice Adm. James Houck, U.S. Navy (retired); and Brig. Gen. Colleen McGuire, U.S. Army (retired).
Congressional appointees include Harvey Bryant, commonwealth’s attorney of Virginia Beach; Brig. Gen. Malinda Dunn, U.S. Army (retired); Col. Holly Cook, U.S. Army (retired); and Professor Elizabeth Hillman of the University of California's Hastings Law School.
The University of Texas at Austin and Texas A&M reignited their rivalry on the gridiron Nov. 17, and this year the stakes were … lower than ever.
After the final official showdown on Thanksgiving night in 2011 (Texas 27, Texas A&M 25), students started missing the rivalry. So this year the UT Student Government extended an offer to the Aggies for a duel where it counts: on the intramural fields.
Watch footage of the showdown in all its glory, courtesy of the Longhorn Network:
Battle-tested warriors from each school’s top men’s, women’s and coed flag football teams descended upon Caven Clark Field on a sparkling Austin afternoon. The national anthem was sung. Flags were velcroed. Hammies were stretched. Ponytails tightened.For school and country. [Photo: Eric Park]
The game announcer put things in perspective as the competitors took the field: “Today’s three games match the top flag football teams from The University of Texas at Austin and Texas A&M University. The university winning at least two of the three games will take home the SHOWDOWN TROPHY.”
There were no cheerleaders directing the crowd of roughly 200, only moms in homemade T-shirts. Instead of a Gatorade bath, the winners would be doused in very small amounts of bottled water.On the battlefield. [Photo: Eric Park] The crowd goes wild. [Photo: Eric Park]
There were burnt orange T-shirts and unfortunate “TU” chants. End zone dives and devastating interceptions. First up: the Lady Longhorns trounced their Aggie counterparts 19-0. A 26-6 UT coed win followed. With the trophy now secured for the Longhorns, all that remained was the men’s final.
It was a hard-fought battle, but in the end the Aggies emerged victorious with a 14-12 win.The enemy is cornered. [Photo: Eric Park]
Regardless of the score or who kept the trophy (Texas), the Lone Star Intramural Showdown gave old rivals — and friends — a good-spirited reunion.
“These are people that we went to high school with, people that we have mutual friends with that we’re playing against, so for our schools there’s a lot of pride on the line,” UT Student Government president Horacio Villarreal III told the Texas A&M student newspaper before the event. “There’s a lot of different factors in it that make it incredibly intriguing.”
Villarreal and Texas A&M student body president Reid Joseph spent much of the day together, swapping stories and cheering on their fellow students in the games they coordinated. “It was really neat to see two leaders from rivalrous schools show such respect and good nature towards each other,” said Alayna Alvarez, a UT journalism junior and Student Government communications director.
— Soncia Reagins-Lilly (@MotherDean) November 17, 2013
And so, with the rivalry renewed and the Longhorn champions in place, the students returned to their respective campuses and then home for Thanksgiving to watch their teams play other schools. The Lone Star Intramural Showdown will resume in the spring for a basketball tournament in College Station. But for now, once again, it’s Goodbye to A&M.
Texas Parents Outstanding Students Alexandra Arambula and Clark Plost enjoy a game-time spotlight with Gage Paine, vice president for Student Affairs, on Nov. 2.
Among the more than 50,000 students on campus, certain individuals emerge as leaders, making a lasting impression on their peers and the university. This year’s Texas Parents Outstanding Student Awards showcase two such students: seniors Alexandra Arambula and Clark Plost.
With their impressive academic records, selfless service, strong leadership and impeccable character, Arambula and Plost personify the university’s motto, “What Starts Here Changes the World.” They were honored Nov. 1 at the 62nd annual Celebration of Leadership Dinner, hosted by Texas Parents, part of the Division of Student Affairs, and the Office of the President.Alex Arambula: Researcher and Mentor
Arambula is completing her final year in biomedical engineering and Plan II with a pre-med concentration. Always interested in a medical profession, she became intrigued by research after attending a high school engineering summer camp at UT Austin.
“When I graduated high school, my classmates basically said I should go out and cure cancer,” she said in a video shown at the awards ceremony. “Coming into UT I was really excited about that.” She joined Professor George Georgiou’s lab at UT Austin and has worked with a therapeutic enzyme that can treat some forms of methionine-dependent cancers.
Another of her passions is guiding others. “I was a FIG mentor for three years and I have been a senior preceptor for the PLUS (Peer-Led Undergraduate Studying) Program,” she added. “Mentors have been a really important part of my life, so any way that I can give back to others that way is something that I love to do.”
Arambula, who maintains a 4.0 grade point average, also worked with a local hospice and Camp Kesem, a camp for children whose parents are affected by cancer. She says those experiences have been pivotal in her life and she ultimately hopes to integrate technical and humanistic medicine in the field of clinical research. “I think combining my passion for research with my passion for relationships as a physician is somewhere that I would like to see myself,” she said.
Arambula’s also a Normandy Scholar and involved in the Plan II Pre-Medical Society, LeaderShape-Texas, Tau Beta Pi and the Engineering Chamber Orchestra where she plays piano.Clark Plost: A Calling to Service
Plost is a management information systems and pre-dental student who admits he had a challenging freshman year as he struggled to find his place. Then his father was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer, and Plost took a leave of absence for a full academic year to serve as one of his father’s primary caregivers. He returned to UT Austin with a renewed since of resilience, commitment and passion, noting “I found my niche with the Texas Wranglers.”
As the student organization’s president, he served as a Board Member of Easter Seals of Central Texas and led a project that brought more than 1,000 underserved Austin kids to university men’s basketball games. Clark currently serves as the president of Texas Round Table, an officer in Students for Texas Athletics and the chairman for the Fourth Annual Texas Wranglers Horns Helping Horns Golf Classic. The tournament has raised more than $60,000 for the program in the past three years.
“Here at Texas, the biggest way I’m able to say thank you to everyone here is to give back,” Plost said in his video. “I can give, give, give and never be able to give back everything Texas has given me.” After graduation, he plans to pursue a career in dentistry, with an eye toward continuing his service of others.
“My dream is to have two offices, one in the city and one in a rural area where I could go every so often and provide care for people who are unable to access good dental care,” he said.Outstanding Student Award finalists Michelle Moon, Holland Finley, Alex Arambula, Clark Plost, Brian Mbah and Michael “Ugeo” Williams are honored at the 62nd annual Celebration of Leadership Dinner Nov. 1.
Several years ago, I helped establish a network of more than 20 leading public research universities and partner organizations including the Association of American Universities, the Forum for the Future of Higher Education, the Association of Public and Land-grant Universities, and Lumina Foundation to share ideas, best practices, and discuss policy solutions to common institutional challenges. The leaders of these great institutions recognize that we can accomplish more together than we can alone. This partnership creates discussion and new collaborations across the institutions.
Today the UT Austin campus welcomes representatives from several Public Flagships Network partners including the AAU, the APLU, Michigan State University, Ohio State University, Pennsylvania State University, University of Kansas, University of Maryland, University of Minnesota, and University of Pittsburgh. Together we’ll discuss how best to inform current higher education policy discussions to create more opportunities for educational innovation and how better to define and communicate the value of America’s great public research universities.
I’m proud that this group is strong and growing, and I welcome these members to the Forty Acres.
What starts here changes the world.
His culinary skills “are limited to eggs over easy and granola bars out of a package,” but that doesn’t stop finance professor Stephen Magee from hosting first-year MBA students in his home for Thanksgiving lunch every year. Many are international students experiencing their first American Thanksgiving.Every year MBA students gather at the home of finance professor Stephen Magee for Thanksgiving and a taste of home away from home.
Magee’s fiancée handles the cooking, with help from Green Mesquite BBQ or Whole Foods. The meal always includes traditional turkey and dressing, gravy, green beans and sweet potatoes. While students feast, Magee entertains with stories from his three decades at UT.
It’s a fitting tradition for Magee, who is described by one student as someone who “In one breath [will] teach us how to calculate the profit maximizing price a firm should charge for its product, and in the next he’ll be encouraging us to be good to our families.”
Asked why he does it, Magee recalls his days as a Ph.D. student at MIT in Boston, miles away from his home in Lubbock. A fellow Texan there reached out to Magee, offering home-cooked meals, mentorship and a sense of home. “Texas is an even more remote galaxy for many of our international students,” Magee says. “I do this so students can feel the warmth of home during a holiday in which they are separated from family.”
In a finding of relevance to the search for life in our solar system, researchers at The University of Texas at Austin’s Institute for Geophysics, the Georgia Institute of Technology, and the Max Planck Institute for Solar System Research have shown that the subsurface ocean on Jupiter’s moon Europa may have deep currents and circulation patterns with heat and energy transfers capable of sustaining biological life.
Scientists believe Europa is one of the planetary bodies in our solar system most likely to have conditions that could sustain life, an idea reinforced by magnetometer readings from the Galileo spacecraft detecting signs of a salty, global ocean below the moon’s icy shell.
Without direct measurements of the ocean, scientists have to rely on magnetometer data and observations of the moon’s icy surface to account for oceanic conditions below the ice.
Regions of disrupted ice on the surface, known as chaos terrains, are one of Europa’s most prominent features. As lead author Krista Soderlund and colleagues explain in this week’s online edition of the journal Nature Geosciences, the chaos terrains, which are concentrated in Europa’s equatorial region, could result from convection in Europa's ice shell, accelerated by heat from the ocean. The heat transfer and possible marine ice formation may be helping form diapirs, or warm compositionally buoyant plumes of ice that rise through the shell.
In a numerical model of Europa’s ocean circulation, the researchers found that warm rising ocean currents near the equator and subsiding currents in latitudes closer to the poles could account for the location of chaos terrains and other features of Europa’s surface. Such a pattern coupled with regionally more vigorous turbulence intensifies heat transfer near the equator, which could help initiate upwelling ice pulses that create features such as the chaos terrains.
“The processes we are modeling on Europa remind us of processes on Earth,” says Soderlund, where a similar process has been observed in the patterns creating marine ice in parts of Antarctica.
The current patterns modeled for Europa contrast with the patterns observed on Jupiter and Saturn, where bands of storms form because of the way their atmospheres rotate. The physics of Europa’s ocean appear to have more in common with the oceans of the “ice giants” Uranus and Neptune, which show signs of three-dimensional convection.
“This tells us foundational aspects of ocean physics,” notes co-author Britney Schmidt, assistant professor at the Georgia Institute of Technology. More importantly, adds Schmidt, if the study’s hypothesis is correct, it shows that Europa’s oceans are very important as a controlling influence on the surface ice shell, offering proof of the concept that ice-ocean interactions are important to Europa.
“That means more evidence that the ocean is there, that it’s active, and there are interesting interactions between the ocean and ice shell,” says Schmidt, “all of which makes us think about the possibility of life on Europa.”
Soderlund, who has studied icy satellites throughout her science career, looks forward to the chance to test her hypothesis through future missions to the Jovian system. The European Space Agency’s JUICE mission (JUpiter ICy moons Explorer) will give a tantalizing glimpse into the characteristics of the ocean and ice shell through two flyby observations. NASA’s Europa Clipper mission concept, under study, would complement the view with global measurements.
Soderlund says she appreciates the chance “to make a prediction about Europa’s subsurface currents that we might know the answer to in our lifetimes — that’s pretty exciting.”
Research funding was provided by the Institute for Geophysics, part of The University of Texas at Austin’s Jackson School of Geosciences.
Nursing Researchers Receive $2.2 Million NIH Grant for Multiple Sclerosis Cognitive Rehabilitation Study
Alexa Stuifbergen, dean of The University of Texas at Austin School of Nursing, and Heather Becker, a research scientist at the school, have received a $2.2 million National Institutes of Health (NIH) grant to continue their study on improving the quality of life for people coping with multiple sclerosis (MS), particularly those with cognitive impairments.
“The effects of MS on cognition is thought to occur in 50 to 75 percent of persons with MS and are increasingly recognized as potentially the most disabling symptom of the disease,” Stuifbergen said. “Strategies to assist persons with MS to manage cognitive issues are desperately needed since the related impairment has major effects on work, family and social life.”
The purpose of the longitudinal study is to test an innovative eight-week intervention: Memory, Attention and Problem Solving Skills for persons with MS (MAPSS-MS). In a recently completed exploratory study by Stuifbergen and Becker with 61 participants, MAPSS-MS showed promise as a means to improve memory, use of compensatory strategies, and performance of cognitive and instrumental activities of daily living. The new study comprises 180 people with MS across multiple sites in Dallas/Fort Worth, Houston and San Antonio.
“To our knowledge, we were the first investigators to test a theoretically and empirically derived cognitive rehabilitation intervention that integrates the powerful effects of group interventions with individual home-based computer-assisted training,” Becker said. “If effective, the intervention will represent a new and feasible approach to solving a serious, debilitating problem commonly experienced by persons with MS.”
More than 400,000 people in the United States and 2.5 million worldwide live with multiple sclerosis, an unpredictable disease of the central nervous system and the most common neurological disease of young adults. Preventing long-term disability, said Stuifbergen, is the most important goal of treatment, although work on empirically based treatment of cognitive deficits is in its infancy.
“Chronic disabling conditions like multiple sclerosis have profound and pervasive effects on the lives of millions of Americans,” Stuifbergen said. “Although rarely addressed, the need for cognitive rehabilitation exists for many persons with MS and may be a key factor to preserve quality of life.”
Alexa Stuifbergen, dean of The University of Texas at Austin School of Nursing, and Heather Becker, a research scientist at the school, have received a $2.2 million National Institutes of Health (NIH) grant to continue their study on improving the quality of life for people coping with multiple sclerosis (MS), particularly those with cognitive impairments.
AUSTIN, Texas — After a national search, the Division of Student Affairs at The University of Texas at Austin has selected Mulugeta Ferede as the new executive director of the University Unions. Ferede will oversee student development and engagement activities that include Campus Events + Entertainment, business and food services, and facilities management for the University Union, Student Activity Center, Hogg Auditorium and Student Services Building.
“Ferede brings a successful track record of working at university student unions for nearly 20 years, most recently at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. We look forward to the energy and new ideas he will bring to our campus community,” said Gage E. Paine, vice president for student affairs.
“This position provides leadership and strategic vision for some of the most trafficked spaces on campus while integrating the student experience and our academic mission. Ferede has the skills and talents to carry out this important goal through collaboration with our diverse body of students, faculty and staff,” noted Soncia Reagins-Lilly, senior associate vice president for student affairs and dean of students.
Ferede brings a diverse range of experience to The University of Texas at Austin. As the senior associate director of the Illini Union for the past eight years, he oversaw the expanded role and presence of that union on campus. That included the reorganization and modernization of practices related to programs, facilities, retail sales and food service. Throughout all of his work, Ferede maintains a focus on financial stewardship and a tradition of service and student development.
“I am excited to become a Longhorn and spend my days on the Forty Acres. The commitment to providing high-quality programs, facilities and services supports the educational mission of the university,” said Ferede. “I look forward to working with our students and campus community to collectively lead the premier student union operation in the nation.”
Ferede will begin his new position Jan. 21. He takes the place of William Andrew “Andy” Smith, who will help Ferede in the transition to his new role. Smith is retiring after 27 years of service.
Ferede received his bachelor’s degree in management and his master of business administration from Emporia State University.
Jazz Appreciation students will learn about the contributions of legends like Louis Armstrong (above), Charlie Parker and John Coltrane.
When professor Jeffrey Hellmer kicks off his Jazz Appreciation class on Jan. 21, he’ll have a few more students than he usually takes on in a semester. More than 10,000 people have enrolled in Hellmer’s free online class, one of nine massive open online courses (MOOCs) offered by UT during the 2013-14 academic year.
*Ok, while we can’t actually say “world’s largest” definitively, a reasonable online search did not turn up proof of another class that tops it. So we’re claiming it.
Like Introduction to Globalization, Ideas of the Twentieth Century and others before it, the Jazz Appreciation MOOC will be hosted by edX, an online nonprofit learning initiative whose other members include Harvard, MIT, the University of California at Berkeley, Wellesley College and Georgetown University.
Students can audit the course or participate in all the course activities and pass an evaluation to earn a certificate.
Considered to be America’s greatest original art form, jazz music is notable for innovation, creativity, and a close relationship with societal transformation. From the course description:
Jazz emerged during a time of tremendous change and upheaval in American society; this course will discuss how its evolution both reflected and contributed to those changes.
Much more than a lecture series, Jazz Appreciation weaves in musical performances and examples that will deepen your understanding of the musical process and develop your ability to identify and analyze different jazz eras and great jazz soloists. It also incorporates cutting-edge adaptive learning technology that will allow you to practice your new knowledge and skills, at your own pace, until you reach mastery.
Join this course to enhance your enjoyment of jazz by developing an informed understanding and deep appreciation of the art.
Hellmer is director of Jazz Studies in the Butler School of Music, is a University Distinguished Teaching Professor and a two-time finalist in the Great American Jazz Piano Competition. Graduate students Alex Heitlinger, Gianni Bianchini and Daniel Dufour will join Hellmer as instructors.
The UT students competed against seven other teams from the U.S., Germany, China and Australia during the real-time, non-stop, 48-hour challenge. The competition is designed to introduce the next generation of students to the high-performance computing community.
The University of Texas winning team members are:
- Eric Dawson (biology);
- Jim Given (computer science, mathematics);
- Reid McKenzie (computer science);
- Julian Michael (computer science, physics);
- Suvamsh Shivaprasad (computer science); and
- Zachary Tschirhart (computer science, aerospace engineering, mathematics).
The team was coached by Rosales-Fernandez, John Cazes and John Lockman from the university’s Texas Advanced Computer Center (TACC), and two of last year’s team members served as student advisors: Michael Teng (computer science) and Andrew Wiley (computer science, electrical engineering).Nvidia.]