e-Veritas Archive | June, 2017

Update on the Educational Innovation Initiative

roadmap-updatesEducational Innovation, one of the initiatives of the Roadmap to Our New Century, is designed to foster innovation and experimentation in teaching and learning amid advances in technology and learning science research.

Led by William Green, senior vice provost and dean of undergraduate education, the Educational Innovation action team meets regularly to plan and execute the first steps of the roadmap initiative. The action team includes nine faculty and six students, who represent diverse disciplines and perspectives on our teaching practice, learning science, and a collaborative vision for the next century.

As its first step, the action team is developing and implementing the University’s Quality Enhancement Plan (QEP), an essential component of reaccreditation by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools. The QEP will focus on forms of discussion-based learning, such as, among others, the Harkness Table method. Discussion-based learning promotes content retention, student engagement, deeper understanding and enhances communication and research skills.

To inform the QEP, the action team is designing and conducting faculty and student surveys to understand current experience with and interest in discussion-based learning methods. The team is also examining how classrooms need to change to support discussion-based learning, communicating with other educational institutions that use discussion-based methods, reviewing existing research and planning a faculty development program.

To help advance the QEP and the Educational Innovation initiative, Allan Gyorke, the University’s chief academic technology officer, has been named assistant provost for educational innovation. In this new role, Gyorke will work with the action team to execute the QEP and develop future Roadmap steps, such as the analysis of the faculty and student surveys, the identification and management of faculty resources for teaching and learning, and the coordination of the action team’s work with such University partners as the Office of Classroom Management and the University Libraries.


Posted in NewsComments Off

A Blueprint for Action in Hurricane-Ravaged Haiti

The Haitian government adopts a UM study for its post-Hurricane Matthew recovery and rebuilding efforts.

UM News

Photo courtesy of the Office of President of Haiti

Haitian President Jovenel Moïse convened a meeting of his cabinet and advisors to discuss the report co-funded by Project Medishare and the Center for Haitian Studies.

PORT-AU-PRINCE, HAITI (June 27, 2017)—Proving the value of field research and community input, a report prepared by University of Miami anthropologists who spent three months assessing the assets available to help Haiti’s devastated southern region recover from Hurricane Matthew received the endorsement of the Haitian government this month.

Rather than put the study on a shelf, Haitian President Jovenel Moïse and his Cabinet officially adopted the report’s recommendations as a guide for the government’s intervention in the Grand Sud region, which took the brunt of last October’s Category 4 hurricane, leaving many people with unsuitable housing, destroyed crops, lost jobs and no water system.

“This report is critical because it was done from the ground up,” Moïse said at the June 14 meeting he convened with UM’s scholars, his cabinet and several advisors at Haiti’s National Palace. “It includes Haitian institutions and community members’ perspectives. I read it from beginning to end, and re-read it. The recommendations are succinct and specific to the locales. I can assure you that it will serve as the core guidelines for the government’s policies for reconstruction in the Grand Sud.”

For the study co-funded by Project Medishare and the Center for Haitian Studies, Louis Herns Marcelin, associate professor of anthropology in UM’s College of Arts and Sciences, and the co-founder of Haiti’s Interuniversity Institute for Research and Development (INURED), and INURED coordinator Toni Cela, a postdoctoral fellow at UM, spent three months trekking across some of Haiti’s most remote coastal and inland agricultural communities.

Their goal was to determine Hurricane Matthew’s impact on the region’s communities and livelihoods, assess needs, and identify and map the local resources and assets critical to each locale’s recovery and reconstruction. But the study also had a training mission—to develop more researchers who can tackle Haiti’s problems with science-based facts.

Marcelin oversaw five data-collection teams—four comprised of one INURED supervisor and five local community members who were trained to conduct community-based surveys, and one team of five ethnographers, including two UM public health graduate students of Haitian descent. INURED supervisors also interviewed and facilitated focus group discussions with community leaders and members, and conducted ethnographic observations.

“These communities have been devastated by the hurricane, but they have clear ideas about how to rebuild by capitalizing on their existing assets and resources,” Marcelin told the president and his cabinet at their June meeting. “They want to re-establish their autonomy, not develop dependency.”

The groundwork for the meeting in the National Palace began in late April, when the University of Miami Institute for Advanced Study of the Americas hosted a town hall on the UM campus and disseminated fact sheets from the report, “After Hurricane Matthew: Resources, Capacities, and Pathways to Recovery and Reconstruction for Devastated Communities in Haiti.” The fact sheets were disseminated in partnership with the Observatoire Citoyen de l’Action des Pouvoirs Publics en Haiti (OCAPH), a prominent civil society advocacy in Haiti. Attendees at the town hall from Haiti included Isnel Pierreval, advisor to the Office of the President of Haiti, and OCAPH’s Karl Jean Louis, who strategized with INURED to ensure the final report would reach key people in Haiti who could act on it.

Returning to Haiti in June with the final report, Marcelin mounted a public education campaign with journalists and civil society organizations to shed light on the plight of Hurricane Matthew’s victims and share the recommendations for assisting them—in advance of the government’s 2017-18 budget preparations. He appeared on several radio stations and on live TV with Haiti’s renowned journalist, Anthony Pascal (Konpè Filo).

Soon after, the president’s office convened the meeting with INURED and, along with his cabinet members and advisors, applauded the report for its timeliness—the government plans a caravan to the Grand Sud in early July—and for its science-based recommendations that can inform the government’s reconstruction efforts.

“For a long time now we have been operating in the dark without knowing what these communities truly needed,” said Public Works Minister Fritz Caillot.

Marie Gréta Roy Clément, the minister of health, noted the study provided an in-depth understanding of post-disaster vulnerability to health hazards. “We have heard reports of the skin diseases that emerged after the disaster, but we never understood the proportion and the depth of the problem,” she said.

UM's Toni Cela, right, spent three months in the field assessing the needs and assets of Haiti's Grand Sud region, post Hurricane Matthew.

UM’s Toni Cela, right, spent three months in the field assessing the needs and assets of Haiti’s Grand Sud region, post Hurricane Matthew.

In addition to the establishment of mini health clinics, free schooling for victims and access to potable water, the report’s recommendations include establishing agricultural banks to provide loans to local farmers and other organizations, hiring agricultural extension workers and veterinarians to revitalize crop production and animal husbandry, collaborating with agronomists to identify solutions for pest threats to agriculture and livestock, and securing commitments from international organizations and NGOs to use local materials and local professionals in their rebuilding projects.

In signaling the importance of having sound data informed by local realities, President Moïse implicitly embraced INURED’s chief mission, which is to groom new leaders in Haiti who can research its many pressing social and economic issues and guide public policy to resolve them. As Marcelin, who co-founded INURED in 2007 and serves as its chancellor, has long noted, disaster-prone Haiti has relied too long on the unstudied, quick fixes of international aide to resolve its problems.

“In an ideal world, research should be conducive to the development of public policies and social interventions,” said Cela, who joined INURED after the 2010 earthquake. “It appears that there is the intent from many actors in Haiti to do just that. Both the central and local governments now have a report that can orient the reconstruction of the Grand Sud. Let’s hope that this is a shift of paradigm in the way Haitian society responds to community vulnerabilities and disasters.”






Posted in NewsComments Off

Honoring a Champion for Children

Bernard Perlmutter and Whitney Untiedt, chair-elect  of the Public Interest Section of The Florida Bar

Bernard Perlmutter, with Whitney Untiedt, chair-elect of the Public Interest Section of The Florida Bar

UM News

CORAL GABLES, Fla. (June 29, 2017)—For the second time in his career, Miami Law’s Bernard Perlmutter, a longtime champion of Florida’s most vulnerable children, has received The Florida Bar’s Honorable Hugh S. Glickstein Child Advocacy Award for his many contributions to child law.

“Professor Perlmutter has been at the forefront of advocating for children’s rights for decades, and Florida’s most vulnerable children have benefitted greatly from his work,” the bar said in announcing the award bestowed by its Children’s Rights Committee of the Public Interest Law Section.

A professor of clinical legal education who 20 years ago founded and co-directs Miami Law’s Children & Youth Law Clinic, Perlmutter has represented thousands of abused, abandoned and neglected children, taught countless students to be their advocates, and helped advance and protect child rights by litigating numerous federal and state court class action lawsuits seeking reform of Florida’s foster care system. He was involved in the landmark Florida Supreme Court case that established due process protections, including the right to an attorney and a pre-commitment hearing, for foster children committed by the state to psychiatric facilities.

He’s also been involved in cases challenging the death penalty for juvenile defendants and the shackling of children in juvenile court, and for protecting children’s medical privacy rights in juvenile and family court hearings.

A member of the Florida Bar Commission on the Legal Needs of Children, he has served on the boards of directors of Florida’s Children First, the Florida Immigrant Advocacy Center, the National Association of Counsel for Children Law Office Project Advisory Board, among others.

In addition to the Glickstein Award, which Perlmutter received in 2002, he has received many other honors for his advocacy, including the National Association of Counsel for Children’s Outstanding Legal Advocacy Award, the Clinical Legal Education Association’s Award for Excellence in a Public Interest Law Case or Project, the C. Clyde Atkins Civil Liberties Award from the Greater Miami Chapter of the American Civil Liberties Union, the inaugural Miami-Dade County Children’s Trust Champion for Children Award, and the Mental Health Advocate of the Year Award from the Florida Statewide Advocacy Council.

Posted in Honors, NewsComments Off

Where is Summer Taking You?

Share your photos throwing up the U wherever your ’Cane spirit takes you this summer using hashtag #insideum and you might win @InsideUM’s weekly summer photo contest.

Prizes, courtesy of the allCanes store and HSA Miami, will be announced every Wednesday and the photo with the most likes will be selected every Friday through Friday, July 21.

Posted in InsideUMComments Off

Wonder Women of Science

UM female scientists share some insight on women in science, science in Hollywood and how Wonder Woman is an icon of strength and smarts.

By Jessica M. Castillo
UM News


From right are oceanographer Lisa Beal, cultural neuroscientist Elizabeth Losin, moderator Cara Santa Maria and biomedical researcher Kilan Ashad-Bishop.

MIAMI (June 23, 2017)—With a primary weapon being her lasso of truth, Wonder Woman carries plenty of parallels to what scientists do—search for evidence and truth to help understand the world around them.

How many thousands of future scientists were inspired by Hollywood films Jurassic Park, Star Wars, Twister or Contact? The latest blockbuster superhero movie is no less inspirational.

On June 21, the new Phillip and Patricia Frost Museum of Science kicked off the first installment of the lecture series LIVE@Frost Science by featuring some of Miami’s very own wonder women of science from the University of Miami—oceanographer Lisa Beal, biomedical researcher Kilan Ashad-Bishop and cultural neuroscientist Elizabeth Losin.

The event, called Hollywood Science & the Wonder Women of Miami, featured a discussion on how the strong female persona in the superhero movie is continuing to be a role model for girls and young women.

“Female scientists are themselves like superheroes,” said moderator Cara Santa Maria, a science communicator and host of the podcast Talk Nerdy and co-host of The Skeptics’ Guide to the Universe.

Though there’s been some progress for women in science, she added, these superheroes still have to knock down barriers and shed layers of discrimination in subtle or blatant ways.

“I’ve been going to sea for 20 years and I’ve been on ships where I’ve been the only woman. It hasn’t been easy,” said Beal, associate dean of research and professor of ocean sciences at UM’s Rosenstiel School of Marine and Atmospheric Science. “Considering Wonder Woman’s armor, I was thinking, you have to have some of that armor to get on a ship as a woman, and be in charge.”

Beal, who’s been the chief scientist on research vessels a half dozen times or more, focuses her research on ocean currents and the ocean’s role in climate, specifically climate change.

“It’s really one big ocean and I’m looking at how the different parts of the ocean are connected through currents,” said Beal. “The ocean is not homogenous at all. It’s kind of like a layer cake, and doesn’t look the same either horizontally or vertically.”

The ocean, Beal explained, has taken up 90 percent of the excess energy that society has dumped into the climate system through carbon dioxide emissions. “It’s effectively acting like a buffer for us right now. The climate would be changing even faster if it wasn’t for the ocean.”

 Lisa Beal, right, has led several research expeditions to the Indian Ocean's Agulhas current.

Lisa Beal, right, has led several research expeditions to the Indian Ocean’s Agulhas current.

Beal studies currents like the Gulf Stream in the Atlantic and the Agulhas in the Indian Ocean off the coast of South Africa, the latter holding a special place in her heart in part because it produces some of the fiercest waters in the world. These expeditions are not for the weak-willed and, historically, have included mostly men.

But over the years, more and more women oceanographers are setting out to sea. Beal and her team helped put together a short film, Women in Oceanography, to celebrate the unprecedented number of women who joined an expedition to study the Agulhas in 2013.

In studying heterogeneous parts of the ocean, Beal is working to help answer when, where, and how the energy absorbed by the ocean will be put back into the atmosphere and how this would affect the climate in those regions.

Understanding heterogeneity and diversity is important not just for oceans and climate change resilience, but for societal resilience as well.

Ashad-Bishop, a Ph.D. candidate in biological and biomedical sciences at UM’s Miller School of Medicine, and Losin, director of the Social and Cultural Neuroscience Lab and assistant professor of psychology at the College of Arts and Sciences, both study how disparities and social demographics relate to health.

When Ashad-Bishop, who is African-American, was looking to specialize her research during her graduate program, she learned that young women and African-American women are disproportionately affected by breast cancer.

“Even though white women are more likely to develop breast cancer, black women are more likely to die from it. Obviously, that hit home,” said Ashad-Bishop. “That disparity, and trying to figure out a way to help with the problem, interested me.”

In her cancer research, which is overseen by her mentor, Karoline Briegel, associate professor and researcher at the Sylvester Comprehensive Cancer Center, Ashad-Bishop works to try to “flip a switch so that mice can express a protein that can be treated and ultimately cured—turning the breast cancer from a more aggressive type to a less aggressive and more treatable type,” she said. “The idea of making a problem into something more solvable and treatable is very attractive and what really excites me about my work.”

Though she “belongs to a double minority, and a rarity, in most of the rooms that she frequents,” Ashad-Bishop said she’s never felt isolated and has had strong female mentors and role models, including her mother and graduate advisor.

Elizabeth Losin in Lab

In her lab, Elizabeth Losin, left, poses as a patient receiving pain induction from graduate student Steven Anderson.

Similar to disparities in breast cancer, Losin said, there are disparities in the pain experience. For example, she said, women tend to report more pain than men, and members of certain minority groups tend to report more pain than members of the majority. Losin works to understand the psychological and brain processes that are underlining our everyday social and cultural interactions, which are affected by experiences throughout our lifetimes.

Under the broad umbrella of cultural neuroscience, Losin is currently trying to determine “how social and cultural factors adjust the volume on people’s pain experiences,” she said, “because part of what we think is contributing to those disparities are social and cultural processes that range from experiences people have had throughout their lives, like discrimination, to experiences that they’re having acutely in the doctor’s office.”

As a neuroscientist, Losin uses various tools, ranging from asking a person about their pain experience and physiological tests, to simulating a doctor’s visit and using functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) scans to “really peak under the hood and look at what the brain and body can tell us about differences in pain experiences.”

Studying disparities is certainly important for understanding struggles that women in science still grapple with.

“We don’t see many women leaders or women scientists and so we assume that women are not very good at that,” said Beal. “But learning where some prejudices come from, that it’s cultural and not personal, that is a very powerful thing.”

The more these disparities are acknowledged, the women said, the more we’re empowered to overturn them.

“I haven’t seen many people that look like me in my field, but there’s beauty in the struggle,” said Ashad-Bishop. “Seeing women command the room, or people of color command the room, has felt really good. It makes me feel like I can get there.”

Having female role models is also very important.

“My graduate school mentor had a daughter and I was able to see how she navigated that and I found that really inspirational,” said Losin. “The issue of having kids is there. In academia, it’s hard to make that work. The system is really not designed for there to be a good time to have kids and not have it derail your career.”

Beal said it’s important to come together, to be strong and compassionate about the obstacles that all women face.

“Learning to have each other’s back as women,” said Beal.

After all, it’s what Wonder Woman would do.

Posted in Comments Off

  • Features
  • Tags
  • Popular
  • Subscribe
  • Subscribe to the Veritas RSS Feed
    Get updates to all of the latest Veritas posts by clicking the logo at the right.

    You can also subscribe to specific categories by browsing to a particular section on our site and clicking the RSS icon below each section's header.

UM Facebook

UM Twitter