Marine layer clouds.

Marine layer clouds.

Some call the University of Arizona the research capital of Arizona, and with all of the innovative studies and important work being done at the university, it’s a difficult point to argue. The UA isn’t the only hotbed of research in the region, though, check out another edition of our local science news roundup:

Cloudbusting. NASA recently granted $30 million to fund a University of Arizona-led project studying the interactions between aerosols and clouds. The five-year grant will allow Armin Sorooshian, professor of chemical and environmental engineering and the project’s principal investigator, to continue his research into tiny aerosol particles’ effects on our climate and air quality. The investigation will focus on the critical role “marine boundary layer clouds” over the Atlantic Ocean play on our planet’s energy balance. Two NASA research aircraft will gather data from above, below and within the clouds. The funding comes from NASA’s Earth Venture-class program, which funds projects investigating important, but not-well-understood aspects of Earth’s systems. “I am deeply humbled by the opportunity to lead this NASA mission to reduce uncertainty about human-caused effects on the atmosphere, specifically interactions between aerosol particles and clouds,” said professor Sorooshian.

Arizona Center For Drug Discovery Established. The UA College of Pharmacy recently established the Arizona Center for Drug Discovery, with plans of connecting UA researchers to pharmaceutical partners to advance drug research and collaboration throughout Arizona, and researching “novel disease intervention findings beyond the laboratory setting.” The Center will work with multiple academic programs in pharmaceutical companies to develop project concepts, technology, and disease models. If all goes according to plan, the Center will help build a multi-year research plan for delivering effective medicine. The Center was established in unison with the College of Pharmacy’s recent start of an expansion and renovation of the 35-year-old Skaggs Pharmaceutical Sciences Center. 

Arizona STEM Adventure Announced. The Southern Arizona Research, Science and Engineering Foundation recently announced the information for its annual “Arizona STEM Adventure” event. This event allows for students from fourth to eighth grade to explore STEM career paths by examining real-life science from real-life scientists. Exhibitors and event hosts, including Raytheon, IBM, and Pima Community College, will help show over 1,000 Southern Arizona students career fields from engineering, biology and more. This year’s recently announced Arizona STEM Adventure will be held on Friday, Nov. 16th.  For more information, visit azstemadventure.org

The Biological “Big Data” Revolution. Sourcing information from across the nation, citizen scientists are helping to teach the future of biology. “Citizen science” is the concept of collecting and analyzing data by members of the general public, typically as part of a collaborative project with professional scientists. And it is now happening at local colleges. Wendy Clement, associate professor of biology at The College of New Jersey, is working with UA’s Katy Prudic and Jeffrey Oliver to design a college course that brings citizen science data into the classroom. When asked to identify butterfly species, their host plants, and how their environment might change, university students used data uploaded to iNaturalist, a social network that citizen scientists use to record observations about local species. By using iNaturalist, the students were able to outsource the gathering and organization of data, allowing course curriculum to move faster and with more efficiency. Clement, Prudic and Oliver hope their classroom ideas will help other educators involve students in citizen data science.

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