e-Veritas Archive | September, 2010

Exploring blue holes

In a National Geographic-sponsored presentation augmented with vivid images of his deepwater dives into the Bahamas’ famed blue holes, Rosenstiel School Associate Professor Kenny Broad last Saturday gave a standing room-only audience at UM’s Storer Auditorium an in-depth look at these mysterious caverns, which could shed new light in fields such as natural history, microbiology, and climate change.

Kenny Broad discusses the scientific importance of blue holes at last Saturday's National Geographic-sponsored program.

On Saturday, September 25, the University of Miami became only the fifth university to be visited by National Geographic as part of its Young Explorers program. By 7:15 p.m. not one seat was left in Storer Auditorium for the scheduled 7:30 lecture by National Geographic Society (NGS) and North Face explorers John Francis, VP of Research, Conservation and Exploration at NGS; Kenny Broad, NGS Emerging Explorer and UM professor; and North Face athlete Peter Athans, who were on the Coral Gables campus to describe and share footage from adventures both underwater and in exotic locales around the globe.

The evening’s free, standing-room-only public presentation was the culmination of a daylong workshop for South Florida students, also held at UM. National Geographic’s Young Explorer grants support 18-to-25-year-olds in their pursuit of research, exploration, and conservation-based field projects. “We chose the University of Miami because of its long history with the National Geographic Society, which has awarded 51 grants to 21 scientists, beginning as far back as 1960,” said Francis. “Interdisciplinary approaches, like those of UM’s Leonard and Jayne Abess Center for Ecosystem Science and Policy, have grown significantly in recent years, yielding new ideas and exciting one-of-a-kind projects to support.”

Read the full story

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USpeak series gets under way

University of Miami alumnus and Jamaican-born poet Geoffrey Philp kicked off USpeak’s second season with the debut of his poetry collection Dub Wise on Friday, September 24 at the Oasis Deli in the Whitten University Center. More than 115 young writers and poets welcomed Philp home 28 years to the day from his last reading at UM, some stepping up to the mic and reading their own poetry. The next USpeak will feature an all-star alumni reading and open mic on Friday, October 8 at the Oasis Deli. An initiative of the Creative Writing Program, USpeak is a series of literary events featuring a local writer from the University of Miami or greater Miami literary community. Audience members are also invited to step up and share their poems, stories, and music.

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The power of pink

With a pink fire truck and firefighters outfitted in pink shirts, Guardians of the Ribbon rolled onto the University of Miami’s Coral Gables campus last Thursday on its Pink Heals Tour, supporting women and raising awareness about cancer.

UM student Rose Aviles writes a message to her stepmother on the side of Tonya, the Pink Heals fire truck that visited the Coral Gables campus last Thursday.

By Robert C. Jones Jr.

Covered from its chrome bumper to its rear taillights with inspirational messages from cancer survivors and those who have lost loved ones to the disease, the big, pink fire engine rolled onto the University of Miami’s Coral Gables campus last Thursday, coming to a stop on the patio-style area known as The Rock as a curious crowd of onlookers gathered around.

Among the first to add her thoughts to the truck’s message-cluttered exterior was 23-year-old Rose Aviles, a junior in UM’s School of Communication. With marker in hand, Aviles scrawled a sentence to her stepmother, Mildred, telling her “you are the inspiration and motivation of my life.” Mildred had recently lost her mother to breast cancer, and Aviles was proud of the way she endured through the devastating loss of someone so close.

For the next two hours, dozens of others—students on their way to classes, employees on their lunch breaks—would scrawl similar messages on the truck, one of seven pink fire engines that are symbols of the Guardians of the Ribbon, a group of firefighters who travel the country on Pink Heals tours to raise awareness about cancer.

“We’re here for all forms of cancer and all women,” said Glendale, Arizona, firefighter Dave Graybill, who founded the nonprofit organization three years ago. “I wanted to create a program to celebrate women, because my mother, who is healthy, raised me to give and to take care of our women at all cost. I wanted to wage war, like we’re waging war all over the world, against a terrorist called cancer.”

Graybill buys his fire trucks from eBay auctions, painting them in the signature color of breast cancer awareness and naming each one after a woman he has met who has either died of cancer or survived the illness.

Tonya, one of seven pink fire trucks in the Pink Heals fleet, is covered with message from cancer survivors and the cancer stricken, as well as people who have lost loved one to the disease.Tonya, the truck that rolled onto campus Thursday as part of the Pink Heals’ Miami stopover, is named for a firefighter’s wife from Tyler, Texas,  who lost her battle with cancer.

“It’s become the Vietnam War Memorial in the battle against cancer for women,” Graybill says of the vehicle. “When I hand a pen to a woman, or a man, who wants to sign a message on it, it’s about her and her battle with cancer.”

Among the signees: A woman with seven different types of cancer, a 60-year survivor, and a 3-year-old girl with brain cancer.

Graybill wants to add more fire trucks to his fleet, with the ultimate goal of sending a truck and a firefighter to any city anywhere in the nation to give a hug to a woman facing a diagnosis of cancer.

His organization doesn’t accept donations, but travels to charitable events all over the country, helping local organizations raise money that stays within the community. He and the other firefighters who drive the trucks use their vacation time for touring, selling T-shirts to pay for fuel.

At Thursday’s Pink Heals event on the UM campus, cancer-focused student organizations representing Up ’til Dawn, which benefits St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital, and Relay for Life, which aids the American Cancer Society, set up displays and passed out literature.

Arizona firefighter Dave Graybill, who founded Guardians of the Ribbon and its Pink Heals Tour, speaks during last Thursday's tour stop on campus.

Members of the women’s basketball and soccer teams stood as one group, passing out flyers promoting their upcoming “pink” games, at which they will don pink uniforms in recognition of breast cancer awareness and then auction off their jerseys to raise funds for cancer research.

Maria Brown, a freshman small forward on the basketball team, said she attended the event to honor her late grandmother, who died of ovarian cancer three years ago. “Anything dealing with cancer, I feel it’s important to show up,” she said.

Brittney MacDonald, a senior defender on the soccer team, echoed Brown’s sentiments, saying she planned to sign a message on the truck for her friend Wendy, whose mother is a cancer survivor.

UM junior Genevieve Stack, the service chair for Zeta Tau Alpha sorority, organized a team of students who passed out pink ribbons, breast self-examination shower hanger cards, and brochures reminding women to get a mammogram.

Stack also coordinated a yogurt-eating contest, collecting the pink lids from empty Yoplait yogurt containers that will be rinsed and mailed to the company, which has committed to donate 10 cents to Susan G. Komen for the Cure for every lid sent in.

Sophie Egea, manager of research for the Braman Family Breast Cancer Institute at Sylvester, was on hand to discuss important studies under way at the institute that offer hope for breast cancer patients. “We promote translational research because we want to shorten the time it takes for science to go from the bench to the bedside,” Egea said. “And that translates into better care and better treatment options for patients in a shorter time period.”

Egea described a clinical trial now under way at Sylvester focusing on a particularly aggressive form of breast cancer—estrogen receptor-negative breast cancer—that affects younger women. The trial combines a regular hormone therapy with a new inhibitor that slows down a particular molecular pathway in this subtype of breast cancer.

Ten firefighters from the City of Coral Gables Fire Rescue Department, which partnered with the Pink Heals Tour on its Miami visit, also attended the event, wearing pink shirts that read “Supporting Cancer Victims” while selling pink hats, T-shirts, and wrist bands.

“It’s in the blood of firefighters to stand up for those who can’t stand for themselves,” said Hope Gibbs, division chief in charge of professional standards and the liaison for her department’s Pink Heals partnership. “Everyone has been affected by cancer in some way or another, whether it’s a friend or family member who’s gotten the disease.”

With his Miami stop complete, Graybill took his pink fire truck to Florida’s west coast, for stops in Tampa, Sarasota, and Fort Myers. The trucks, he said, always draw attention. “It’s the color that represents the most important people in our lives—our women.”

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Passing the Bar

University of Miami School of Law celebrated the admission of 95 graduates into the legal profession last Thursday, September 23, at a ceremony held in Storer Auditorium on the Coral Gables campus. More than 250 family, friends, and members of the Miami Law community witnessed Florida Supreme Court Justice R. Fred Lewis, a 1972 graduate of the University of Miami School of Law, former chief justice, and founder of Justice Teaching, swear in the recent graduates.

Recent School of Law graduates being sworn in.

Results of the July 2010 Florida Bar examination were announced last Monday. Miami Law graduates taking the Florida Bar Examination for the first time scored an impressive 86 percent pass rate. The overall pass rate for first-time test-takers was 79.2 percent. A total of 270 UM first-time test-takers passed the July 2010 exam, the highest number from any school. Fewer than one percent separated the top three ranked schools: University of Florida (86.8 percent), Florida State (86.2 percent), and UM (86 percent).

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Architectural Dream Team

Two student design teams from the University of Miami’s School of Architecture are the third- and fourth-place winners of the inaugural “Dream Dallas Home Design Competition,” announced the Texas Chapter of the Institute of Classical Architecture and Classical America and the Dallas Area Habitat for Humanity. This competition offered an opportunity to create a new design for a single-family Habitat for Humanity home for low-income homeowners. The School of Architecture’s third-place team included Michael Poupore, Sandro Rastelli, and Tsvetan Sirakov, while the fourth-place team included Kaitlin Christian, Nathan Poon, and Kyle Vreeland. Professor Frank Martinez coordinated the teams. Pictured from left to right: Nathan Poon, Kaitlin Christian, Dallas Mayor Tom Leppert, Tsvetan Sirakov, Michael Poupore, and Sandro Rastelli. Student Kyle Vreeland was in Rome at the time of the picture.

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