Dean Prado Named ‘Research Exemplar’

UM News

Prado photo

Guillermo “Willy” Prado

Graduate School Dean Guillermo “Willy” Prado, an internationally known expert in effective intervention strategies for at-risk youth, has been named a “research exemplar” by The Research Exemplar Project at Washington University School of Medicine.

Prado, the Leonard M. Miller Professor of Public Health Sciences and director of the Division of Prevention Science and Community Health, was nominated for the honor in the Biomedical Science Division by UM’s John Bixby, vice provost for research.

“Dr. Prado’s career provides a clear example of the close relationship that exists between research integrity and research quality,” Bixby said. “He combines excellence in both management and mentorship of his research team with high-quality, high-impact research.”

Funded by an NIH career development grant awarded to Alison Antes, assistant professor of medicine at Washington University School of Medicine (WUSM), The Research Exemplar Project is a partnership with WUSM’s Professionalism and Integrity in Research Program, directed by James DuBois.

Their project, which aims to honor and enable others to learn from high-impact researchers who maintain an impressive reputation for professionalism and research integrity, yielded many outstanding nominations. A review panel narrowed down the nominees to a cohort of biomedical research exemplars and a cohort of STEM research exemplars.

Each of the exemplars was interviewed by WUSM researchers to identify and share their practices for leading research teams. Research exemplars also received a personalized award and are featured on the project website.

Prado, who earned his Ph.D. in epidemiology and public health and his Master of Science in statistics from UM, has focused his research on strategies to prevent obesity, drug use, and HIV infection in at-risk youth, particularly Latino youth. Over his career, he has received an estimated $75 million in funding (as principal investigator or co-principal investigator) from such agencies as the National Institute on Drug Abuse and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

As his bio on the exemplar website notes, “Colleagues view him as a role model for junior faculty, for Latino faculty, and for high standards of data analysis and interpretation in public health and epidemiology. They commend his leadership in developing a university-wide program in the Responsible Conduct of Research and describe him as thoughtful, fair, and insistent on high ethical standards at all times.”


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Carpool to Campus Using the RideFlag App


New transportation technology that is good for your pocket and the environment is now available. To facilitate your commute to campus use the RideFlag app and find your next carpool ride.

RideFlag, the University of Miami’s new carpool on-demand mobile app makes carpooling to campus a great option by providing you local carpool matches in real time and allowing you to schedule future carpool rides. Download the RideFlag app and register with your UM email. All your information is kept private.

RideFlag is building the UM Circle of Commuters, consisting of members of the UM community who download the application to find carpool matches. You may choose to ride with a carpooler from the UM Circle.

To learn how to schedule your next ride click here or follow instructions below:

  1. Enter your destination and get instant carpool matches, or schedule future rides.
  2. You decide with whom you ride.

When you return your parking permit and utilize any mode of transportation other than the single occupant vehicle, you are eligible for the following benefits:

  1. Eight daily parking passes.
  2. Free parking on campus during fall, winter, spring and summer breaks
  3. Six taxi vouchers annually, by registering for Emergency Ride Home (ERH) with the South Florida Commuter Service

Download the app now on Google Play or the Google App Store or, for more information, contact mxr1598@miami.edu or 305-284-1547.




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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.


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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.

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Log Your Community Service Hours by July 15

Has your department, course or organization volunteered or provided service to a local, national or global community this past academic year? If so, please consider documenting and reporting the service completed between July 2016 and June 2017 by filling out the UM Campus Community Service Record form on OrgSync by 5 p.m. on Saturday, July 15.

The Butler Center for Service and Leadership is looking to collect this data to continue highlighting the thousands of hours University of Miami students, staff and faculty contribute to the local, national and global communities every year. In 2015-16 alone, UM contributed over 157,000 collective hours of community service. As a result, the University has been recognized with honors and awards, such as the President’s Higher Education Community Service Honor Roll and the NASPA Lead Initiative on Civic Learning and Democratic Engagement.

By filling out the form on OrgSync, the Butler Center will be able to obtain a more accurate measure of the University’s service to our communities.

For questions or comments, please contact the Butler Center for Service and Leadership at leadandserve@miami.edu or 305-284-4483.

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