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In Good Company

Two pioneering women on the UM faculty, Joanna Lombard and Giselle Guerra, are honored with In the Company of Women Awards

UM News


Transplant specialist Giselle Guerra, left, and architect Joanna Lombard were honored for their pioneering contributions to, respectively, health and humans services, and research and education.

MIAMI, Fla. (March 14, 2018) – An architect who has studied the impacts of the built environment on the health and well-being of children and elders and a transplant nephrologist whose hard work and vision helped improve patient outcomes at the nation’s second largest kidney transplant program are recipients of Miami-Dade County’s prestigious “In the Company of Women” award, which recognizes outstanding women who have paved the way for others.

Joanna Lombard, professor in the University of Miami’s School of Architecture, and Giselle Guerra, M.D., associate professor of clinical medicine at the Miller School of Medicine and medical director of the kidney and kidney-pancreas program at the Miami Transplant Institute (MTI), are among 13 distinguished South Florida women who, fittingly, received the award on a day—March 8—that celebrates the social, economic, cultural and political achievement of women: International Women’s Day.

Lombard was honored in the category of Research and Education, while Guerra was recognized for her work in the area of Health and Human Services.

From the very beginning of her career, Lombard set herself apart by breaking the professional mold for women. Her bachelor of architecture from Tulane University, master’s degree in architecture from the Harvard Graduate School of Design, and her architecture license were received during a time when men heavily dominated the profession.

She has further distinguished herself with a joint appointment in the Miller School of Medicine’s Department of Public Health Sciences, allowing her to join the fields of architecture, landscape, and public health in her teaching and research.

Guerra, who joined the Miller School faculty 12 years ago, is medical director of the Living Donor Kidney Program at MTI, which she has expanded to give more people life-saving kidney transplant. A collaboration between the University of Miami Health System and Jackson Jealth System, MTI performs about 350 kidney transplants a year—with the best results among large volume centers.

For her work, Lombard collaborates with investigators in UM’s Built Environment, Behavior, and Health Group. In one study, the researchers looked at elementary school-aged boys in Miami’s East Little Havana, investigating whether there was a correlation between their conduct grades and the type of neighborhood block where they lived. What they discovered was that boys who lived in mixed-use blocks had higher conduct grades and performed better in school. The reason?

“When you have a corner store, more adults looking out for children, more eyes on the street, and more interaction—it’s better for people,” Lombard said. The team also studied Hispanic elders in the same area, finding that those who lived on streets with houses that had balconies, porches, and stoops functioned better both mentally and physically than elders who live without such features.

She and Research Assistant Professor Scott C. Brown represent the School of Architecture and the Department of Public Health Sciences, respectively, as charter members of the American Institute of Architects’ Design and Health Research Consortium, an 11-university initiative aimed at investigating how design affects public health.

Lombard’s work in both architectural design and teaching has garnered numerous awards. She was named among the DesignIntelligence 30 Most Admired Educators for 2013, has twice won the Florida Trust for Historic Preservation’s Outstanding Achievement in the Field of Preservation Education/Media award, and has won numerous faculty honors and awards in architectural design.

Guerra’s passion for patients in need of life-saving transplants and her visionary leadership in increasing their chances of getting and surviving one prompted Carlos A. Migoya, president and CEO of Jackson Health System, to nominate her for the “In the Company of Women” award.

“Dr. Giselle Guerra has dedicated her career to giving hope and the gift of life to patients, who are in desperate need of a life-saving transplant,” Migoya said. “She grew and created two successful transplant programs, in which patients receive a kidney from a living donor. These programs have provided amazing benefits to patients, including shorter waiting time for an organ, and better outcomes and survival rates.”

When Guerra joined MTI in 2008, the kidney transplant program was performing very few transplants from living donors. Recognizing that these transplants are the best option for many patients, she began educating the community and growing the program.

In 2012, Guerra created the Hispanic Kidney Transplant Clinic for pre-kidney transplant patients of Hispanic background. Designed to address cultural fears about living donations, the staff’s Spanish-speaking physicians and nurses educate families on the benefits of living donation. “Many people from all backgrounds are concerned about what it means to be a living donor,” Guerra said. “You can donate one of your two kidneys and still work, exercise, have children and enjoy a normal, healthy life.”

While growing the Living Donor Kidney Program, Guerra felt that there was more to be done to help MTI patients. In 2014, she created the Paired Exchange Program, which allows recipients to receive a better-matched kidney, and speeds up the transplant process. On July 9, 2014, MTI successfully performed Florida’s first three-way paired kidney exchange transplant, involving three donors and three recipients. The next year the MTI team performed Florida’s first four-way paired kidney exchange.

Drawing on her experience, Guerra has assisted transplant centers across the United States, as well as in Argentina and Mexico, in developing living donor and paired exchange programs that can help the 96,000 people in the U.S. waiting for a kidney from a deceased donor.

Through research studies, Guerra has focused on improving the outcomes of transplant patients. Recently, she was appointed principal investigator of a national study that focuses on the mutation of the apolipoprotein L1 gene (APOL1) in African Americans and people of African descent, and how this variant leads to chronic kidney disease. The study, set to start this year, will also look at the outcomes of patients who receive a kidney from a person carrying this mutated gene. The results of this new study will help make improvements in the allocations of kidneys. The study will involve a consortium of organ procurement organizations in Florida and Puerto Rico, as well as 13 other transplant centers in the country.

“As a woman leader in an industry that has been historically led by men, Dr. Guerra has mentored many women,” Migoya said. “Several of her mentees, including a few women, have become medical directors of transplant programs at other hospitals, or have become associate professors of clinical medicine at the University of Miami Health System.”

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‘Smart Cities MIAMI 2018 Presented by Hotwire’ Conference on April 5-6

Day One of the “Smart Cities Miami 2018 presented by Hotwire” conference at UM’s Jorge M. Perez Architecture Center on Thursday, April 5, will explore the convergence of technology, design, and development in the shaping of a new urban landscape transformed by disruptive innovation. Join the Center for Computational Science and the School of Architecture from 11 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. for conversations with social scientists, humanists, engineers, administrators, and citizens, as they contemplate a future of hyper-connected environments and lifestyles. A networking reception from 5:30 to 7 p.m. will follow the conference.

Sponsorship opportunities and a limited number of exhibitor spaces are still available. To inquire, please email [email protected].  Registration link, speakers, and more information can be found at http://ccs.miami.edu/smartcities-2018.

Day Two will feature the “Hacking Main Street” workshop, which will look into the design and development of sensors with a built-in capacity to deliver information at the point of data collection. Workshop participants will team up to ideate and produce a concept related to any domain of public life, from entertainment to sea-level rise to health. Workshop attendance is by selection only. Please visit http://ccs.miami.edu/smartcities-2018 for more information.


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Furniture Design and Fabrication Exhibit

2018Furniture Design Exhibit Flyer


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A Remembrance of Visiting Professor Vincent J. Scully, Jr. on February 19

Dean Rodolphe el-Khoury and the School of Architecture invite the University of Miami community to a remembrance of former Visiting Professor Vincent J. Scully, Jr. at 1 p.m. on Monday, February 19, at the school’s Glasgow Hall.

Scully, who has been described as one of the “world’s greatest influences on architecture,” taught at UM for nearly 20 years after retiring from Yale University. He passed away at his home in Lynchburg, Virginia, late last year, leaving an indelible mark not only on the world of architecture but also  at the School of Architecture, about which he wrote the 1996 book Between Two Towers, which chronicles his support for his new colleagues.

“Arriving just three years after the program became the School of Architecture, his presence among us gave impetus to faculty and students alike to seek a regional identity,” said former Elizabeth Plater-Zyberk, former dean of UM’s School of Architecture, who is now director of the school’s Master of Urban Design Program. “He loved the diversity of Miami culture, its affinity with the Caribbean, and he encouraged us to emphasize these as a distinction. We remember gratefully his demanding intellect, generous mentoring, and outrageous sense of humor.”

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ACCelerating UM Creativity and Innovation

UM News

CORAL GABLES, Fla. (September 30, 2017)—With dozens of national championships in multiple sports, members of the Atlantic Coast Conference, including the University of Miami, are known for their athletic prowess. But like UM, ACC institutions are also leaders in creative exploration and research occurring at the nexus of science, engineering, arts, and design, a fact that the first “ACCelerate: ACC Smithsonian Creativity and Innovation Festival’’ will highlight this month.

ACCeerate-LogoTaking over all three floors of the west wing of the Smithsonian’s National Museum of American History in Washington, D.C., October 13-15, ACCelerate will showcase 15 dramatic and musical student performances and 47 interdisciplinary projects developed by the ACC’s 15 universities to address a host of global challenges.

Chosen by an ACC steering committee and through a peer-review process, the projects include three from UM: the Rehabilitative Lower-Limb Orthopedic Analysis Device (ReLOAD), which uses music to help amputees and others regain or correct their disrupted walking patterns; the Echo Earth Experience, an immersive game that employs virtual reality to enable players to simulate how different species use echolocation to survive; and Digital Mapping of Informal Settlements, which combines drone-based aerial photography and computational methods to document communities that are literally off the map.

For the performances, the Frost School of Music Jazz Band and Jazz Voice Department were selected to perform two tributes to Ella Fitzgerald, commemorating the legendary vocalist’s 100th birthday. Presented in partnership with the Ella Fitzgerald Foundation, the concerts also coincide with the Smithsonian’s recently opened Ella Fitzgerald Exhibit.

The Frost School’s Lab Top Ensemble, comprised of Contemporary Media students who create dynamic electronic music via laptops and other electronic controllers, also were invited to perform at a private reception for the festival.

“This unique event will be a wonderful opportunity for us to exhibit the skills and talents that make UM unique,” William Green, senior vice provost and dean of undergraduate education, said. “We are grateful to the Frost School of Music, the School of Architecture, the School of Communication, the Center for Computational Science, and the Department of Physical Therapy for their participation in this distinctive event.”

More than a year in the making, the first-of-its kind festival will precede the annual meeting of the ACC Academic Consortium, the academic arm of the ACC, from which the idea germinated. At his first ACC meeting as Virginia Tech’s new provost and executive vice president, Thanassis Rikakis proposed the festival, which is being presented by Virginia Tech’s Institute for Creativity, Arts, and Technology and the Smithsonian’s Lemelson Center for the Study of Invention and Innovation.

“The ACCelerate festival is perfectly aligned with the ACC’s vision of being at the forefront in educational achievement and innovation,” said ACC Commissioner John Swofford. “I applaud this outstanding initiative that showcases the incredible work taking place at our 15 member institutions.”

Free and open to the public, the festival’s installations, performances, and talks center around six broad themes: Civic Engagement, Arts and Technology, Sustainability and Environment, Biomimetics, Health and Body, and Making and Advanced Manufacturing.

Part of the Health and Body section, the ReLOAD installation showcases the collaborative work of researchers, students, and clinicians in UM’s Departments of Physical Therapy, Music Engineering, Athletics, and the Miami VA Hospital. Together, they developed a patent-pending device that captures and analyzes the walking patterns of a people who are recovering from a lower-limb injury or amputation, and corrects their gait with bio-feedback and music.

Part of the Biomimetic section, the Echo Earth Experience will feature the virtual reality game that School of Communication students helped develop for Samsung Gear VR. Wearing the virtual reality goggles, players transform into a beluga whale and try their hand at navigating and foraging by using echolocation. Once they master listening to find food, players advance into the next level—avoiding threats.

Part of the Civic Engagement section, the Digital Mapping of Informal Settlements showcases the work of the School of Architecture and the Center for Computational Science, which teamed up to map Las Flores, a sprawling slum outside Barranquilla, Colombia, that was not on any map, or on the minds of community decision makers, and to document historic structures in Nassau, Bahamas using drone-based aerial photography and computational methods.

For more information, visit acceleratefestival.com.





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