e-Veritas Archive | March, 2013

Urban Farmer Will Allen Leads a Food Revolution

UM alumnus Will Allen speaks at the BankUnited Center Fieldhouse.

UM alumnus Will Allen speaks at the BankUnited Center Fieldhouse.

As a collegiate and professional basketball player, Will Allen always wanted to guard the best player and take the potential game-winning shot. Today Allen’s desire to challenge himself has shifted to a different goal: helping the world build sustainable food systems in the face of staggering population growth.

Allen, who was the first African-American student-athlete to play basketball for the University of Miami, started and now leads Growing Power, an urban agricultural organization based in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, that produces affordable and healthy food for what he calls “food swamps,” urban regions where the only access to food is a local corner store or fast food restaurant. Read the full story

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Scholarship Ceremony Honors UM’s Best and Brightest

Black Student Scholarship Reception

UM President Donna E. Shalala with proud scholarship recipients.

A grimacing disabled athlete on a recumbent bicycle crossing the finish line at Miami’s ING Marathon. High school baton twirlers demonstrating athleticism and skill at a Martin Luther King Jr. parade. The Brooklyn Bridge at midday, its support cables reaching upward and outward like a spider’s web. And a commuter gazing out the window of a New York City bus. Read the full story

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UM Geologists Hope to Solve Evolutionary Mystery of Corals

One of the greatest mysteries of modern coral reefs is how they evolved from ancient corals. A critical knowledge gap has long existed in the record of coral evolution. This evolutionary gap occurs during a period of dramatic fluctuations in sea level and changes in Earth’s climate between 1 and 2 million years ago. During this period, many “old” corals went extinct, and modern reef corals emerged.

To fill this key temporal gap and understand the evolutionary and ecological transition to modern Caribbean reefs, the National Science Foundation (NSF) has funded a University of Miami research team to study corals along the southern coast of the Dominican Republic. It is one of the few areas that contain a record of coral reefs from this period of climatic change.

“Our preliminary fieldwork has indicated that the Dominican Republic contains rocks that bridge this critical reef evolution gap,” said James Klaus, lead investigator and assistant professor in the Department of Geological Sciences in UM’s College of Arts and Sciences. “The Dominican Republic is a valuable site because it was submerged for a long period of time and has now been uplifted to make the coral-rich deposits accessible.”

As part of the two-year, $250,000 grant, Klaus’s research team will work to pinpoint the evolutionary transition from the now-extinct coral Stylophora to modern reefs dominated by the genus Acropora (staghorn and elkhorn corals) as well as to evaluate how reef ecosystems respond to climate change.

“These corals work in concert to construct the reef edifice and, just below the living surface, form the underlying limestone rock,” said co-investigator Ali Pourmand, assistant professor in the Division of Marine Geology and Geophysics at UM’s Rosenstiel School of Marine and Atmospheric Science. “To geologists and paleontologists, these limestones represent just the latest growth, and what lies beneath may provide clues to both the past and future of coral reefs.”

Fundamental to the study is the ability to determine the age of the corals. To help with this age assessment, the team will utilize a recently established geochemical laboratory that couples a laser sampling device and mass spectrometer to produce high-precision age dates of the corals.

“Being able to tell time in these rocks is our biggest challenge,” said Donald McNeill, co-investigator of the project and senior scientist in the Division of Marine Geology and Geophysics at the Rosenstiel School. “We need to put the evolutionary changes in a time context to link them with sea level and climate changes that were happening both locally and globally.”

The research team will develop an integrated model of coral reef development for the critical time gap that controls for factors of climate change, sea level, tectonics, and the maximum growth rate of dominant reef builders. The findings will provide a valuable record of tropical climates and the growth of coral reefs.

 

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Mothers’ Sensitivity Helps Language Development in Children with Hearing Loss

Children with cochlear implants who receive positive regard and emotional support from their mothers develop language skills at a faster rate than those with less sensitive parents, almost “catching up” to children with normal hearing, according to a study by a University of Miami psychologist.

“I was surprised that maternal sensitivity had such strong and consistent effects on oral language learning,” said Alexandra L. Quittner, lead investigator of the study and director of the Child Division in the Department of Psychology in UM’s College of Arts and Sciences. The results of her study, one of the largest and most representative on the effects of parenting on young deaf children who wear cochlear implants, are published in the Journal of Pediatrics.

“The findings indicate that pediatric cochlear implant programs should offer parent training that facilitates a more positive parent-child relationship and fosters the child’s development of autonomy and positive regard,” Quittner said.

Her study investigated the role of parental behavior in language growth for deaf children. Maternal sensitivity was measured in videotaped interactions with the child and defined as the degree to which a mother expressed positive regard for and emotional support of the child.

The study included 188 children between the ages of five months and 5 years with severe to profound hearing loss. In addition to analyzing the effects of maternal sensitivity on language development, the study looked at the impact of cognitive and language stimulation. Parent-child interactions observed and coded included free play, puzzle solving, and an art gallery task with five posters mounted at different heights on the walls of the playroom.

The largest improvements in language development were observed in children whose parents displayed high sensitivity. Language stimulation was also an important predictor of language gains but was most effective when delivered in a sensitive manner. Deaf children with sensitive parents had only a one-year delay in oral language compared to 2.5 years among those with less sensitive parents.

This cohort of deaf and hearing children has now been followed for approximately eight years post-implantation. The National Institutes of Health recently funded the competitive renewal, allowing the researchers to follow them for another five years into adolescence. It will focus on their cognitive and social development as well as their academic achievement.

Contributing to the study are the UM Cochlear Implant Team, including the director of the Barton G Kids Hear Now Program; Ivette Cejas, assistant professor, Department of Otolaryngology; David Barker, assistant professor at Brown University; John Niparko, chair of the Department of Otolaryngology at the University of Southern California (USC); Laurie Eisenberg, clinical professor at USC and the House Ear Institute; and Emily Tobey, professor at the University of Texas in Dallas.

 

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Applications Being Accepted for Resident Faculty Position

Applications are now being accepted for a resident faculty associate master position on the University of Miami’s Coral Gables campus. Reporting to the senior vice provost and dean of undergraduate education, the resident faculty associate master serves as a positive and visible member of a residential college community. The master’s primary role is to provide academic advising and academic mentoring to resident students.  In addition, the master collaborates with college staff to help plan and implement educational, academic, social, and cultural programs while serving as a role model, advisor, and leader in the residential community.

Qualifications
Candidates should preferably be a full-time faculty member and have a minimum of two to three years of university teaching experience and demonstrated experience in academic advising and mentoring. Applicants should be student centered, innovative, capable of collaborating with residence life staff, willing to work with students and build sustainable links between curricular and co-curricular experiences, and have a knowledge and understanding of a large urban research university. Candidates also should be familiar with the University of Miami’s residential college system, the educational mission of the University, issues facing today’s college students, and be able to relate and communicate with college students. They should possess strong interpersonal and communication skills and the ability to work effectively with students and residential college staff.

How to Apply
1. Review the Resident Faculty Request for Proposal at the Department of Housing and Residential Life website at www.miami.edu/housing.

2. Submit a resume/curriculum vitae.

3. Submit a proposal no longer than five pages describing the following:

a) strategies for providing resident students with effective academic advising and mentoring;

b) suggestions for initiatives that have a defined educational purpose and can achieve meaningful and assessable educational goals;

c) how you would collaborate with residential college staff to enhance student learning, development, and academic success;

d) how you would work effectively with other faculty in the residential colleges to improve student learning and academic success.

Completed applications must be received by Friday, April 19. Please send completed applications: Senior Vice Provost and Dean of Undergraduate Education, 240 Ashe Building, Coral Gables, Florida 33146, or via email to srembold@miami.edu.

 

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