e-Veritas Archive | April, 2017

Haiti After Hurricane Matthew

UM and INURED Assess Next Steps in Haiti with Local Leadership from Most Affected Areas
Special to UM News

From left are Louis Herns Marcelin, Mayor Georges Simon, Toni Cela, and Karl Jean-Louis.

From left are Louis Herns Marcelin, Mayor Georges Simon, Toni Cela, and Karl Jean-Louis.

CORAL GABLES. Fla. (April 27, 2017)–Officials from Haiti, including a representative from the president’s office and a mayor from one of the regions devastated by Hurricane Matthew, attended a Town Hall at the University of Miami last Thursday to discuss the findings of a three-month study of community assets and resources available for recovery and reconstruction.

Conducted by Louis Herns Marcelin, associate professor of anthropology and chancellor of Haiti’s Interuniversity Institute for Research and Development (INURED), and Toni Cela, postdoctoral fellow at UM and coordinator of INURED, the study aimed to determine the impact of the disaster on affected communities, assess their perceived needs, and identify and map local resources and assets that are critical for recovery and reconstruction.

Co-funded by the Center for Haitian Studies, Project Medishare, and INURED, the study was unveiled at the town hall attended by Isnel Pierreval, from the Haitian president’s office; Gandy Thomas, the consul general of Haiti in Miami; Georges Simon, the mayor of Anse d’Hainault; and INURED Vice Chair Dr. Guy Noel. The meeting was co-sponsored by the University of Miami Institute for Advanced Study of the Americas (UMIA) and UM’s College of Arts and Sciences.

Kate Ramsey, faculty lead for Hemispheric Caribbean Studies at UMIA, opened the town hall. “We are very pleased to be able to share the findings of this important study conducted in the southern region of Haiti after Hurricane Matthew,” said Ramsey.

In her welcome remarks, Felicia Marie Knaul, director of UMIA, called the study “an extraordinary example of our scholarship that transcends academic research and touches the lives of many. We are very grateful that UM has been able to be part of it.”

Marcelin and Cela elaborated on the multidisciplinary and participatory method used in the study, which included ethnography, asset-access mapping, community leader and household surveys, as well as historical and political analysis. “While we acknowledge the vulnerabilities of these communities, they do have assets and resources that can be built upon to help them get back on their feet,” said Marcelin.

Their study revealed that health, access to food, and agricultural production are some of the major issues in the affected regions. “We partnered with Project Medishare to conduct a health intervention that allowed us to collect the epidemiological data needed,” Cela said.

The eye of Hurricane Matthew passed directly over the cities of Dame Marie and Anse d’Hainault, where Mayor Simon said the study has helped tackle critical issues. But he noted that mayors’ offices are ill-equipped to address these type of events. “Three months after the hurricane, no one can really work, particularly farmers,” Simon said.

Audience members, including those from the Haitian diaspora, the current president of the UM Haitian student organization Planet Kreyol, and other scholars, were genuinely interested in the next steps and recommendations on how to become more involved in the country’s reconstruction. “While there are challenges, there are opportunities. We have the challenge to make a difference,” Pierreval said.

In turn, Karl Jean-Louis, executive director of the Observatoire Citoyen de l’Action des Pouvoirs Publics en Haïti (OCAPH), a civil society organization in Haiti strongly involved in the recovery and reconstruction of the country, added that the study has become a tool to influence government action. “We facilitated a meeting with the prime minister to share the findings of the report, and also shared it with the president of the Health Commission of the Senate,” he said.

Thomas, the consul general of Haiti in Miami, recognized the work of UM scholars. “I would like to thank the University of Miami for contributing to finding solutions to public issues in Haiti. We are looking forward to building partnerships with UM and Haitian universities,” he said.

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Hurricanes Hit the Streets for the Largest-Ever Miami Corporate Run

UM News

MIAMI, Fla. (April 28, 2017) – With a future ophthalmologist leading the way, nearly 2,000 University of Miami employees donned running shoes last Thursday and hit the streets of downtown Miami for the 33rd running of the Mercedes-Benz Miami Corporate Run. John Hinkle, a first-year resident at the University of Miami’s Bascom Palmer Eye Institute who competed in cross-country and track at Yale and attended medical school at Penn, covered the 3.1-mile course in a blistering 15 minutes 46 seconds, outrunning the entire field of 28,104 men and women from 846 companies—an event record—to capture first place. UM’s contingent of 1,982 employees was the second largest team in the field, which started the race amid a shower of colorful confetti. UM’s Central Billing Office won the President’s Cup Challenge for having the largest UM team—117 registered participants. View the slideshow.

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Recognition for ‘White Sand Black Beach’


Greg Bush and Florida’s first lady, Ann Scott, at the Florida Book Awards ceremony.

Greg Bush, an associate professor of history, has won a prestigious silver Florida Book Award for non-fiction for his book about a pivotal struggle in Miami’s civil rights history, White Sand Black Beach: Civil Rights, Public Space and Miami’s Virginia Key.

Bush, who was honored with other winning authors from across the state in Tallahassee last month, said he never imagined his life would be consumed largely by “what I learned from our history as I became an advocate (and organizer) trying to preserve and enhance the public spaces along Miami’s waterfront.”

In White Sand Black Beach, Bush chronicles the unique story of Miami-Dade County’s “black” beach, the current state of Miami’s public waterfront, and the potential to stimulate civic engagement. As he notes, environmentalists, community leaders, and civil rights activists have come together recently to revitalize Virginia Key, which was begrudgingly designated as a beach for African-Americans in 1945 after activists protested Jim Crow-era laws that denied blacks access to the recreational waterfront.

The beach became a vitally important gathering spot for African-American families and represented a tangible victory in the continuing struggle for civil rights in public spaces. But, as white leaders responded to desegregation by decreasing attention to and funding for public spaces in general, the beach was largely ignored and eventually shut down.

Bush was one of more than 200 writers to compete for the awards, which recognize, honor, and celebrate the best books about Florida published in the previous year. The competition is coordinated by the Florida State University Libraries with assistance from across the state.

For more information on the full list of winners, visit the Florida Book Awards

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SEEDS: Reproducibility in Science

Special to UM News


Panelists discuss one of the greatest challenges in contemporary science—the failure to reproduce or replicate research results.

MIAMI, Fla. (April 25, 2016)—One of the greatest challenges in contemporary science—the failure to reproduce or replicate research results—was tackled by a first-ever symposium that linked reproducibility and the responsible conduct of research.

The SEEDS “You Choose” Awards and the Miller School’s Institute for Bioethics and Health Policy presented “Reproducibility in Science: Writing, Data and the Growth of Knowledge” on April 24 at the Mailman Center for Children Development, with a keynote talk by Elizabeth Iorns, Ph.D., founder and CEO of the California-based Science Exchange and co-director of its Reproducibility Initiative.

“It is rare and reassuring to see institutional leadership take such a supportive role” in fostering reproducibility, Iorns said during a subsequent panel discussion with John Bixby, Ph.D., vice provost for research and professor of pharmacology and neurological surgery; Dushyantha T. Jayaweera, M.D., executive dean for research and research education and professor of medicine; and Joyce M. Slingerland, M.D., Ph.D., associate director for translational research at Sylvester Comprehensive Cancer Center, professor of medicine, and director of the Braman Family Breast Cancer Institute.

The program was chaired and the panel was moderated by SEEDS grant recipient Joanna Johnson, Ph.D., director of writing in the College of Arts and Sciences, who described her work on a project that identifies poor, boastful, and hedging scientific prose as a potential contributor to failures of reproducibility.

What has been called a “crisis” in science, repeated failures to reproduce complex and costly experiments is thought to be an obstacle to public trust in science, especially worrisome in times of budget uncertainty.

Iorns discusssed ways of measuring and incentivizing reproducible research, and included results from the first replication studies published by the Reproducibility Project: Cancer Biology. Iorns was an assistant professor at the University of Miami before starting Science Exchange in 2011. Bixby, Jayaweera, and Slingerland addressed efforts at UM to improve reproducibility and made clear that such efforts are an important component of the responsible conduct of research—and a key element of National Institutes of Health compliance rules for academic institutions.

SEEDS (A Seed for Success) “You Choose” Awards support investigator-initiated activities that enhance the awardee’s community and career. The event was co-sponsored by the Miami Clinical and Translational Science Institute.

For more information about SEEDS, please contact Marisol Capellan, SEEDS manager, at mailto:mcapellan@miami.edu.


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Gauging Justice Reform in Mexico

David Shirk

David Shirk, director of Justice in Mexico

By Michael R. Malone
UM News

CORAL GABLES, Fla. (April 28, 2017)–Judges, prosecutors, public defenders, and police are overwhelmingly optimistic that Mexico’s new justice system will boost public trust, increase efficiency, and reduce corruption in the system, according to a new report presented Tuesday at the University of Miami Institute for Advanced Study of the Americas.

David A. Shirk, director of Justice in Mexico, a research and public policy program based at the University of San Diego, provided his insights and an overview of “Justice Barometer 2016: Insider Perspectives on Mexico’s Criminal Justice System,” as part of the Institute’s Research Lunch Series.

“With Justice in Mexico, we’re trying to put our finger on the justice system to know its deficits and strengths,” explained Shirk, an associate professor of political science and international relations. This latest survey, which builds on a series of reports launched in 2009, gauged the perspectives of 700 judges, prosecutors, public defenders, and police across Mexico. The survey is the first of its kind to gauge the perceptions of the “operators” of the system itself.

In June 2016, Mexico completed an 8-year transition that revamped its judicial process from an inquisitorial model – a cumbersome process that presumes guilt and is based on written method – to an oral proceedings model, one presuming innocence and similar to that followed in the United States.

Ninety percent of the operators believe the system needed to be reformed and that the New Criminal Justice System (NSJP in Spanish) will create greater trust in authorities and improve efficiency for a country where only a small percentage of crimes are ever reported.

“What stands out most [in looking at justice in Mexico] is the problem of impunity,” Shirk said. While crime and violence have increased over the past decade in Mexico – figures tripled for the period 2007-11 – only about 1 percent wind up being prosecuted.

Features of the NSJP are overwhelmingly well received with 95 percent of all operators preferring oral proceedings over previously implemented written methods. Eighty percent of all operators believe the new system will reduce corruption; NSJP reduces the potential for forced confessions obtained with no public defender present and places greater importance on physical evidence from crime scenes.

Shirk said that, to his knowledge, no surveys have been conducted of police in the U.S. to gauge their impressions of the U.S. justice system and suggested that grad students looking for riveting research areas might explore this arena.

Shirk, the graduate director of the University of San Diego’s Master’s Program in International Relations, has presented the findings of the study several times in Mexico. Representatives from the Mexican Consulate attended his talk.

To view the report, visit www.justiceinmexico.org.

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