Briefly Noted

Chemistry Professor Awarded Science Fellowship in Japan

By Betty Chinea
Special to UM News


Rajeev Prabhakar

CORAL GABLES, Fla. (February 15, 2017)—Rajeev Prabhakar, a chemist at the University of Miami College of Arts and Sciences, is no stranger to spending time in a foreign country.

Originally from India, he earned his Ph.D. in Sweden and is accustomed to discovering and acclimating himself in different cultures, which is why Prabhakar had no reservations about visiting Japan—for the second time in his career. But this excursion is more business than pleasure.

Recently, Prabhakar received news that he was awarded a prestigious fellowship from the Japan Society for the Promotion of Science (JSPS) as a visiting professor.

Selection for this coveted fellowship is an honor not lost on Prabhakar. Only 25 percent of applicants are accepted and each must have a host professor in Japan who applies for them.

“It is very exciting,” said Prabhakar. “The Japanese are very advanced in science and they have a strong research culture.”

Prabhakar, who began his journey February 15, will visit multiple universities in Japan through March 9, including the University of Tokyo, Kyoto University, Fukui Institute for Fundamental Chemistry, Institute of Transformative Bio-Molecules, Nagoya University, and Hokkaido University.

The purpose of the fellowship is to establish research collaborations with Japanese scientists from the institutes and universities, and help advance and expand Prabhakar’s current research at UM, which is primed to fundamentally advance the design of artificial enzymes, biomaterials, antimicrobial peptides, and drugs for neurological disorders.

“It will be very beneficial to interact with some of the leading researchers in these areas and explore innovative ideas of mutual interest,” said Prabhakar.

The importance of Prabhakar’s research is underscored by JSPS’s full support of his visit. Along with collaborating and forming new connections with Japanese researchers, he will be presenting research seminars as a visiting professor.

For more than 80 years, the JSPS has initiated and carried out a vast array of programs that are essential to promoting scientific research. The organization has developed as a research and support organization designed to advance research and foster talented researchers for generations to come.

The fellowship also supports UM President Julio Frenk’s vision for UM as an innovation hub, connecting, collaborating, and building knowledge with organizations and researchers beyond our borders.

“I am hopeful that the JSPS fellowship will help me to expand the research we are already doing here and start something new and interesting while building ties between UM and leading Japanese universities,” said Prabhakar.


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University Receives Five CASE Awards

UM News

CORAL GABLES, Fla. (February 10, 2017) —The Division of University Advancement received five awards, including a National Platinum Award of Excellence for its outreach to graduating students, at the Council for Advancement and Support of Education’s (CASE) District III awards ceremony in Nashville last week.

As part of the "Senior Sendoff" iniiitve, the inaugural commencement ball was held in 2016.

Part of the “Senior Sendoff” initiative, the inaugural Commencement Ball was held in 2016.

The Office of Alumni Relations won the Award of Excellence in the category of Best Practices in Alumni Relations for its “Senior Sendoff” initiative, a comprehensive, multi-channel program launched in 2015 to engage graduating students and convey the importance of philanthropy while they are still on campus. The Senior Sendoff program includes a “Senior Day at the Rat,” a commencement ball, and the distribution of “alumni cards” during cap-and-gown pick-up.

Alumni Relations also received the Grand Award in the category of Engagement Project, Event, or Program, and a Special Merit Award for Best Practices in Alumni Relations for its outreach to alumni during UM President Julio Frenk’s inauguration. Managed by the UM Alumni Association, the weeklong series of events aimed at exciting alumni about UM’s sixth president included ’Canes Communities Inauguration Tip-Off Parties, an alumni-owned/operated businesses initiative, corporate inauguration gatherings, inauguration kits, and a promotional UM video, among others.

University Communications was recognized with two Special Merit Awards, including one in the events category for ’Cane Talks, the lively 10-­minute presentations by UM scholars and leaders introduced as a new tradition during Frenk’s inauguration. It submitted this entry on behalf of staff in several areas of University Advancement, the ’Cane Talks committee, and other individuals who worked on the event. The second merit award, for graphic design in the periodical category, went to UM Libraries’ “Access: Reflections on Discovery and Growth at the UM Library.’’

Covering 68 categories, the CASE District III Awards recognize the best practices in advancement in nine states.


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Renowned Photographer Shares Talents

The University of Miami welcomes renowned photojournalist and documentarian Susan Meiselas as a Distinguished Presidential Fellow and 100 Talent.

By Andrew Boryga
UM News


Susan Meiselas

CORAL GABLES, Fla. (February 10, 2016)— Susan Meiselas has traveled the world as a documentary photographer for over 40 years.

Her photography has transported people to the rubble and destruction of lower Manhattan on 9/11, to Nicaragua’s popular insurrection during the late 1970s, to a village in El Salvador destroyed by the country’s armed forces in the early 1980s, and to witness the photographic history of Kurdistan, which was presented in book and exhibition form in 1997.

Meiselas said she believes documentary photography is “an engagement with the world.” Now she will share that engagement, her experience, and her talent with the University of Miami community as one of its 100 Talents, one of the University’s Roadmap to Our New Century initiatives,introduced by President Julio Frenk.

As a Distinguished Presidential Fellow with the College of Arts and Sciences, Meiselas is actively engaging and interacting with students and collaborating with faculty across multiple disciplines. Her visit will culminate in a public lecture at the Newman Alumni Center on March 21.

So far, Meiselas’s time on campus has found her in photography and sculpture classrooms in the College’s art department, where she has shared her expertise on topics such as the history of war photography and how to make a living as an artist.

Meiselas said she hopes to help inspire photography students by answering questions and sharing her own experiences. But above all, she hopes to encourage them to get out, take risks, and not be afraid to make mistakes, while moving from skills training to working on their own in-depth projects.

“You only truly learn by doing it yourself,” she said.

The challenge for photographers, she added, is to help viewers of their work become engaged with people and issues that may be foreign to them.

To welcome Meiselas to campus, the College and the School of Communication hosted a special screening of her 1991 documentary Pictures from a Revolution, which  features the photographs Meiselas took during the Nicaraguan popular insurrection and follows her search a decade later to find and hear from the people in the photos.

Seventy-one of those photos were published in her hardcover book, “Nicaragua June ’78—July ’79,” which was published before she returned to the country and co-produced and directed the documentary with Alfred Guzzetti and Dick Rogers.

“It all begins with the photo and the relationships with the collaborators with whom the film is created. Filmmaking includes more collaborators, where photography is more of an isolated experience,” Meiselas told the nearly  100 students, faculty, staff and community members who attended the screening.

Her photos captured the fall of the Somoza regime and the revolution subsequently won by the Sandinistas in 1979. Since the images represent the various factions and lives of people who participated in the revolution in and out of battle, Meiselas wondered how they fared post-revolution. The film tells the story of those she could find, with Meiselas showing them their photo and asking about their lives since.

After the screening, Meiselas, Tom Lopez, professor of art and art history, and Bill Rothman, professor of cinema and interactive media, had a lively discussion about her process. “The film was constrained by trying to find only the people in the photos of the book,” said Meiselas.

This fall, Aperture re-issued the book to coincide with the 40th anniversary of her first trip to Nicaragua in 1978. The third release includes an augmented reality (AR) function, “Look and Listen” app which allows the reader to experience some of the images via two-to-four minute clips from Pictures from a Revolution as she returns to the same locations with the people she photographed. The AR app will be shared when she explores her work in professor Kim Grenfeder’s interactive class at the School of Communications in March.

What other activities Meiselas will be involved with is still evolving, but she plans to continue to engage students and faculty across departments in the hope that some of her experiences can complement their studies.

Miami has not been a subject for Meiselas; most of her previous encounters with the city have been  traveling through it to get to destinations throughout Latin America.

However, Meiselas said she is honored to be joining the University of Miami and is excited to dig deeper into the “multiplicity of lives” that she said Miami’s vibrant immigrant community cultivates.

Meiselas got her own start while teaching photography in an elementary school in the South Bronx during the 1970s. During that period, she became intrigued by a traveling “Girl Show” and the women who performed a striptease at small town carnivals and fairs in the Northeast. For three years during her summer breaks, Meiselas followed the women and the men they performed for from town to town. Her photographs evolved into her first book, Carnival Strippers, with images and stories she recorded at that time.

Her work has been published in The New York Times and Time Magazine, and she has had solo exhibitions in Paris, Madrid, Amsterdam, London, Los Angeles, Chicago, and New York. She is a winner of the Robert Capa Gold Medal and in 1992 was named a MacArthur “Genius” Fellow. Her work is included in American and international collections.

Alexandra Bassil contributed to this report.

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Poster Winners from the 8th Annual Postdoctoral Fellows Research Day Announced

The Postdoctoral Programs Office held its 8th Annual Postdoctoral Fellows Research Day at the Miller School of Medicine’s Lois Pope LIFE Center on Friday, February 3, when the research posters of 39 presenters were available for viewing and discussion. Faculty judges who evaluated the posters awarded the top honors to the following postdoctoral fellows:

1st place: Priyanka Maiti, Ph.D.
Title of Research: “Elucidating the role of GTPases OBGH1 and OBGH2 in mammalian mitoribosome assembly”
Faculty Mentor: Dr. Antonio Barrientos

2nd place: Akhilesh Kumar, Ph.D.
Title of Research: “Ate1-mediated posttranslational arginylation is essential for stress response regulation and mutagenesis suppression”
Faculty Mentor: Dr. Fangliang Zhang

3rd place: Jianping Li, M.D./Ph.D.
Title of Research: “ASXL2 is required for normal hematopoiesis and loss of Asxl2 leads to myeloid malignancies in mice”
Faculty Mentor: Dr. Feng-Chun Yang

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Toppel Career Center Congratulates Finalists for 2017 Toppel Awards

The Toppel Awards recognize outstanding students, faculty, staff, alumni, employers, and recruiters for their commitment to career education and personal career development. Toppel is excited to share the finalists for each award category on our Toppel Awards page. Winners will be announced at an awards ceremony on Tuesday, February 21. Thank you for your nominations!

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