newsId: 6A02EED2-FA6E-7357-C5A1BE883BBEEA38
Title: Green Roofs Keep Pollutants out of Urban Waterways
Author: Rebecca Basu
Subtitle:
Abstract: Professor’s research shows green roofs capture pollution while reducing energy use.
Topic: Research
Publication Date: 04/17/2014
Content:

Rooftop gardens, or green roofs, are known to reduce energy use in buildings and catch stormwater runoff, but new research from American University shows that green roofs also absorb pollutants. The research, which takes on an area that previously has not been explored widely by scientists, has implications for how cities can improve the health of their rivers, streams and estuaries.  

“The potential is that institutions and businesses could reduce their pollution footprint,” said Stephen MacAvoy, assistant professor of environmental science at AU. “If large numbers of green roof systems were installed throughout Washington, D.C., they would contribute greatly to keeping harmful nutrients and suspended solids found in runoff from entering the city's waterways.”

MacAvoy works with D.C. Fire & Emergency Medical Services, which received a $300,000 grant for installation and monitoring of green roofs at its fire stations, financial analysis of energy savings and incentives, and research on the ecological impacts.

Significant Pollutant Capture

On the rooftop at D.C.’s Engine 12, green roof panels cover approximately 2,200 square feet. Instead of soil, a new kind of foam technology by the company Aqualok holds plants. MacAvoy and his students conduct chemical analyses, and after five storms over seven months, their results showed significant capture of pollutants, specifically suspended solids of 78 percent and nitrates by up to 82 percent. In fact, the green roof systems became more effective as time passed. After seven months, they were absorbing more pollutants than at the beginning.

Fewer pollutants entering the Anacostia River, a key waterway in the Mid-Atlantic region, is significant. D.C. has declared it wants the Anacostia "fishable and swimmable" by 2032, and reducing sediments and nutrients will help achieve this goal. “Bacteria and algae rob the river of oxygen, and low oxygen kills most invertebrates. Sediments clog fish gills and bury bottom-dwelling life forms and fish eggs,” said MacAvoy.

Fire Stations = Ideal Subjects

Keen on going green, D.C. Fire & EMS conducts sustainable projects such as collecting rainwater and rooftop gardens. Fire stations provide ideal subjects since green roofs can cool the floor directly below the roof. Each station is a two-story building with a non-air conditioned ground floor garage and a heavily air-conditioned second-floor dormitory. Results comparing utility data on Engine 12 from 2013 and 2012 showed a 5 percent annual reduction in electric consumption after installation of the green roof.

The setup is fairly simple: Pans collect untreated runoff and flow through green surfaces of planted roof panels, unplanted roof panels and a ground-level "bioswale," which looks like a large square rain barrel stuffed with plants (grasses and ferns). Plant varieties growing in a three-to-four inch thick foam matrix capture and absorb nitrogen from rainwater. MacAvoy’s analysis shows fewer suspended solids and nitrates are leaving the bioswale as well. This year, the research will be expanded to include three more green roofs of both foam and soil.

A Model of Best Practices

“At D.C. Fire & EMS, we play an active role in practicing sustainability. Through our efforts with green roofs, we hope to determine a kind of ‘best practices’ approach that can benefit residents, businesses and our colleagues in the municipality, for which kind of green roofs work best,” said D.C. Deputy Fire Chief David Foust. “Green roofs must yield economic benefits and ecological performance to be truly effective and desirable for property owners and municipalities.”

With help from Glenn Williamson, owner of Amber Real Estate LLC, and civil engineers, an economic assessment on energy savings and potential stormwater credits will be done when the project concludes next year. The assessment will provide an estimate of stormwater credits that could be received through public incentive programs and how water fees could be reduced.

“The idea is for businesses or institutions to know clearly what must be invested up front and what kind of actual returns can be generated to repay or offset that investment,” Williamson said.

All of the economic and environmental findings will be reported back to the grantor, the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation. MacAvoy and Williamson also have been invited to present the findings at the annual Cities Alive sustainable building conference in Nashville later this year.

“Fewer chemicals entering our waterways is crucial to ecosystem health,” MacAvoy said. “People want to live in nice, clean cities, and greening our cities must be a priority for all of us.”

Tags: College of Arts and Sciences,Environment,Environmental Science,Media Relations
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newsId: 614E3063-BC30-BA1C-A9AEEE32CEAA42D1
Title: Exploring the Science of Sports
Author: Abbey Becker
Subtitle:
Abstract: Visit AU faculty and students at the USA Science and Engineering Festival April 26 and 27.
Topic: Science
Publication Date: 04/17/2014
Content:

While many visitors descend on D.C. in April to see the cherry blossoms, it will likely be for a different reason on April 26 and 27. The USA Science and Engineering Festival will take over the Walter E. Washington Convention Center for a weekend of science, engineering, technology, and math-inspired exhibits, workshops, and hands-on activities aimed at people of all ages. American University will run a booth for the third time this year, with a “Science of Sports” theme. Past years’ themes included the “Physics of Music” and “Science in the Kitchen.” 

The effort this year is supported by the departments of biology, chemistry, public health, physics and athletics. Various faculty, staff, and students contribute to the preparation of AU’s exhibit, and students will staff the booth at the event. “We’re committed to STEM outreach, and the best way to get strong science students at AU is through this kind of event,” says physics professor Nate Harshman, who led the event the past two years. “It’s something that responsible and future-minded scientists should do. It creates a more scientifically literate population.” 

The AU booth will showcase the collaboration between the departments toward science-based sports demonstrations. Public health is bringing Jell-O molds in the shape of small brains that can be used to observe what types of materials best protect this vital organ. Booth visitors can clip on fingertip pulse monitors brought by the Biology Department to measure their pulse and level of oxygen in their blood before and after they run in place for a few seconds. AU will also provide Styrofoam heads with acceleration sensors to illustrate how concussions can be prevented with helmets. 

This year, Nancy Zeller, director of the biology teaching labs at AU, is leading the university’s participation, with help from Harshman. She was involved in the planning for one of the festivals two years ago. “We calculated that about 1,500 people came by our booth. That means 1,500 people were excited about American University science,” she says. “It was a great way to advertise that science is a very important part of AU.” 

But attending the festival isn’t just about getting the AU science word out; it’s an opportunity for AU students to have a hand in promoting science education. “A lot of our students feel that STEM outreach is really important,” says Harshman. “And the students have a really good time. It’s fun to see them work to communicate complex information to a lay audience. These young kids see them as ‘big kids,’ so it’s funny to see the kids’ eyes light up and the students’ eyes light up.” 

Faculty members encourage students to be part of the festival to strengthen the AU science family’s unity. “We want students to know that they’re an integral part of this community. We’re trying to offer as many opportunities as possible for students to get involved,” says Zeller. “Our students are great teachers and talented scientists.” 

If students are planning to attend graduate school, volunteering at the festival can help them show they have a continuing interest in the dissemination of science information. “Graduate schools want to see that students are committed to the broader endeavors of science,” says Harshman. “Outreach demonstrates that they’re committed to broader impacts and that they embody the ethical standard of scientists.” 

The hands-on methods that AU brings to the festival helps students connect with the event’s attendees, particularly in an increasingly tech-driven world. “It can seem like our technology really is like magic, and that’s something we want to avoid,” says Harshman. “We want them, even if they don’t become scientists, to realize that people do these things. We want them to know that science, engineering, and math are fun and are great ways to be curious as a job.”

Tags: Biology,Biology Dept,Chemistry,Chemistry Dept,College of Arts and Sciences,Physics,Physics Dept,Public Health,Athletics
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Title: Jesse Reed, BSBA '16, Leads Championship Basketball Team in Points and GPA
Author: Max Chilkov
Subtitle:
Abstract: Jesse Reed, BSBA ’16, earned Patriot League Scholar-Athlete of the Year award on his way to leading the Eagles the their first NCAA Tournament birth since 2009.
Topic: Business
Publication Date: 04/17/2014
Content:

The life of a college basketball player is far from simple. Finding a way to balance practice, weight lifting, film sessions, and games can mean athletes barely have time to sleep, much less study.

But Jesse Reed, BSBA '16, makes it look easy. The leading scorer on this season's Patriot League Championship team—leading to American's first NCAA Tournament birth since 2009—Reed also proved himself a leader off the court, earning the Patriot League Scholar-Athlete of the Year award.

New Season, New Goals

After a disappointing 2012-2013 season, finishing with a record of 10-20, few believed the Eagles had any chance of competing for a Patriot League title in 2013-2014. With Mike Brennan replacing long-time head coach Jeff Jones and the loss of key seniors, the season seemed to be defined by uncertainty before it even began. Preseason rankings predicted the Eagles would finish at the bottom of the league, but Reed and his teammates had different plans.

"We were upset about [the rankings], but at the same time we didn't prove anything," said Reed. "It's understandable that they picked us last but we just used it as motivation."

The sophomore recommitted himself to his craft, improving his scoring average from 3.7 points per game to a team-leading 13.8.

Reed's maturation proved essential, applying concepts from Coach Brennan and from his schoolwork to self-improvement, athletically and academically. 

"I felt more comfortable with the position I was in and just being able to slow things down, not try to force things and let them come to me," he said.

Scholar-Athlete of the Year

For a college athlete to be successful on the court, he or she must be diligent off of it. The Patriot League Scholar-Athlete of the Year award honors players for high academic achievement.

"I was shocked at first; I had no idea I would even be eligible for [the award]," he said. "But to receive it was a tremendous honor."

No stranger to hard work, Reed's upbringing taught him the value of education: "My parents instilled in me from day one: academics first."

But Reed has worked hard to juggle the two, attributing his successes to late nights in the library and sacrifices in other aspects of his life. But in the end, it's all been worth it to him.

"Being a college athlete, being able to balance sports and school…gives you a sense of self-pride," Reed said. "Knowing that you can handle this, there's not much you can’t handle."

Finding Support at Kogod

As much as Reed's life centers around basketball, "Kogod is a great place to be," he said. "I go [to the business school] a lot more to do my studying than the library, because there is a sense of comfort."

As an athlete, Reed has been able to apply the skills and habits he's developed on the court to help him academically, citing commonalities between sports and business school.

"In the Kogod School of Business… you have to be able to interact with people, lead an audience or a group," he said. "That's what you have to do in sports."

Sights on Next Year

Reed isn't dwelling on his achievements. Everything that he's been able to do has only inspired him to do more in his remaining two years at AU.

"Getting that taste of success makes you want to have success everywhere," he said.

Athletically, Reed hopes he and his fellow Eagles can continue to dominate the Patriot League, bringing home next year's trophy as well.

But Reed refuses to let his championship aspirations distract him from his post-graduate career. He intends on maintaining his stellar GPA and having a job offer upon graduation, if a professional basketball career isn't an option.

As for next season's hardware, Reed hopes to follow fellow AU Eagle Alexis Dobbs and her back-to-back Scholar-Athlete of the Year awards by securing a second of his own.

"What [Alexis] did was unreal. For her to show that it's possible to [be a good student and athlete] but you got to keep up the hard work, makes you want to achieve it."

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newsId: FCC6DC9A-BD94-8619-49ECFE6DD71D8312
Title: Talk on School Violence Fifteen Years After Columbine
Author:
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Abstract: Lynn Addington, an associate professor in the Department of Justice, Law & Criminology, suggested that the Columbine incident constituted a cultural shift in how the public viewed school violence.
Topic: Research
Publication Date: 04/15/2014
Content:

Lynn Addington, an associate professor in the Department of Justice, Law & Criminology, presented the talk, “Cops, Cameras and Students Under Surveillance: The Long-term Effects of Columbine and Deadly School Violence," as part of Georgia Southern University's 2nd Annual Criminal Justice Lecture on April 10.

Addington said that while the shootings at Columbine High School in 1999 were not the first act of deadly school violence in the United States, the incident constituted a cultural shift in how the public viewed school violence.

“This change occurred largely due to the pervasive and graphic media coverage spurred by cable news channels and the emerging role of the Internet as a news source,” she said.

The fear and concern generated by Columbine, she said, prompted a rash of demands for greater safety, including the use of visible security measures in public schools. However, relatively little is known even now, she said, about the use of school security across grade levels or about schools that opt to use particular measures, such as cameras or metal detectors.

“Critics argue the overzealous use of security measures in relatively safe schools can negatively impact students and their school environment,” said Addington. “In contrast, advocates point to the necessity of these same measures in troubled schools struggling with serious violence.”

Tags: Justice, Law & Society
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Title: Bridging Wikipedia's ‘GLAM’ Gap
Author: Rick Horowitz
Subtitle:
Abstract: Professor Andrew Lih's students spread public knowledge, dodge social-media pitfalls.
Topic: Journalism
Publication Date: 04/15/2014
Content:

Professor Andrew Lih presented at SOC’s Faculty Forum Wednesday, April 16, discussing the growing interaction between social media and traditional forms of knowledge sharing. View the full presentation: “Is K the New J? Wikipedia's Role in Knowledge for the Public Interest."

Wikipedia: It’s the scourge of teachers in classrooms everywhere; professors prohibit so much as a passing mention in a footnote.

Wikipedia: It’s the nightmare that haunts academics, professional researchers and other highly credentialed experts; they want absolutely nothing to do with it.

True? Or does somebody need to edit those sentences? Update them? Perhaps they’d be more accurate in the past tense.

And if that’s the case, a large share of the credit goes to Andrew Lih.

Professor Lih, Associate Professor of Journalism now completing his first year at American University School of Communication, studies the intersection of new media, journalism and technology. He’s one of a handful of the country’s go-to experts on Wikipedia—the online encyclopedia entirely written by volunteers.

The focus of Lih’s research: the impact of social media on the spread of “public knowledge.” But he does more than just study the subject; with the help of several dozen AU students this semester and last, he’s building some of the first bridges between two very different, and often highly contentious, knowledge communities.



On one side of the divide: the cogitate, curate, take-your-time, expertise-matters-above-all forces of traditional scholarship.

And on the other: the hurry-up, put-it-up, everyone-gets-a-shot, we’re-all-equals-here forces of a more “democratic,” more collaborative tomorrow.

Two groups, with two ways of looking at the world, and at the way information flows. But, it turns out, two groups with a growing number of interests in common. Which is how Lih’s students regularly find themselves working with some of Washington’s most important “GLAM” institutions (“Galleries, Libraries, Archives, and Museums”), helping them share their vast stores of knowledge with broader audiences than they’d ever thought possible. Audiences that these institutions have come to realize they want to—and need to—reach.

Among the notable participants in this cross-pollination of tradition and tech: the Smithsonian Institution’s American Art Museum, Museum of the American Indian; the National Archives; and the Library of Congress.

Making a Change

The chance to make that cross-pollination happen was a large part of what lured Lih to the nation’s capital, and to SOC.

“I don’t think I could do this in any other city in the world,” he explains. “Maybe London. Every other week you can visit a top-notch cultural institution.”

In Washington, he says, visitors to the National Mall can ask themselves, “‘What do I want to see today? Whales? Spaceships? Asian art? Matisse? Or I can do all four!’”

WikipediaRevolutionIn previous postings, the one-time engineer at the famed Bell Labs (and founder of one of the country’s first dot-coms, back in 1994) created the new-media program at Columbia University’s Graduate School of Journalism, and then helped launch the University of Hong Kong’s Journalism and Media Studies Centre—this, at a moment when Asia’s Internet growth was just starting to take off.

He also spent time in Beijing (where his wife was working for The Wall Street Journal), getting a good look at what happens when a government tries to censor the Internet. It was in Beijing, too, that Lih started to write The Wikipedia Revolution: How a Bunch of Nobodies Created the World’s Greatest Encyclopedia. That 2009 book recounted Wikipedia’s modest origins and explosive growth, and speculated on what the expanding social-media landscape might mean for the future direction of public knowledge.

Then it was back to the States, to USC. And then, in the fall of 2013, the move to Washington.

But it was London, interestingly, that may have provided something of a role model for this current phase of his work; it was there in 2010 that the venerable British Museum first created the position of “Wikipedian in Residence”, thus recognizing the growing influence of social media in general, and of the world’s largest collaborative online encyclopedia in particular.

Warming up to Wikipedia

Attitudes toward Wikipedia among museum administrators “turned a corner” at that moment, Lih recalls. “‘We shouldn’t be fighting it,’ they’d say. Furthering its mission furthers our mission.’”

Museum curators, he says, were “really fascinated. ‘We know what should be in the articles, but we don’t understand the norms of how to do it’ on Wikipedia.’”

Enter the “edit-a-thon.”

Museum folks knew their collections. Students—Lih’s and others—had a better grasp on some of those Wikipedia norms. Their assignment, every Tuesday afternoon: to digest the facts about the various exhibits, the various holdings—whether those facts came to them in neatly organized folders, or by following their own sparks of personal interest right into the galleries—and then figure out the most effective ways to convey that information to the hundreds of millions of Wikipedia visitors.

In some cases, it might simply mean an expansion of an existing Wikipedia entry; in others, starting an entirely new entry from scratch. In some cases, the words are all that matters; in others, why not a photograph of that sculpture? Of that mask? Or instead of just describing it, why not a video clip showing people actually using sign language?

Scanathon
“I don’t think I could do this in any other city in the world,” Lih explains. “Every other week you can visit a top-notch cultural institution.” 


Internet culture—and Wikipedia is hardly an exception—can often be quirky, fiercely independent, borderline crotchety. Newbies aren’t always welcomed. Women aren’t always welcomed. It’s a place where one’s identity is often created in opposition to traditional scholarship and its ivy-covered, peer-reviewed value system. A place, Lih concedes, where “the tenured professor has been treated much more shabbily than the 13-year-old.”

So Lih also schools his students on how to navigate the sometimes- intimidating processes and personalities of Wiki culture. Occasionally it even takes a phone call from Lih to one of Wikipedia’s editors, asking for a bit more patience as a student new to that culture fleshes out the bare outlines of an entry; after all, a quick slapdown is no way to encourage the next generation of contributors.

Filling the Gap

According to Lih, Wikipedia fills a critical need. Beyond the scholar/volunteer divide he’s committed to bridging, there’s a second divide that has long attracted Lih’s attention, too: the one between the speed (but also the ephemeral, disposable nature) of daily journalism, and the depth (but also the sluggishness, the caution) of the academic and museum worlds.

For most of two decades, he explains, “My big question was: “How does the Internet change all that? How do we fill in the gap between the news that’s happening now, and what gets saved and remembered about it later?

“We see news happening, and then there’s the archives. There was no one place for-until Wikipedia.”

Wikipedia, says Andrew Lih, provides something that’s never been possible before: “A storehouse of knowledge that works at the speed of human achievement. A continuous working draft of history.”

Tags: School of Communication,Journalism (SOC),Arts Management,Education,Research,Washington DC
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Title: Mandi Stewart Named Penn Social Impact Doctoral Fellow
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Abstract: Mandi Stewart received a prestigious fellowship that brings together doctoral students to critically examine issues in the nonprofit sector.
Topic: Achievements
Publication Date: 04/14/2014
Content:

Mandi Stewart, a doctoral student in the Department of Public Administration and Policy, has been chosen as a 2014 Penn Social Impact Doctoral Fellow.

This prestigious fellowship brings together a small number of doctoral students to critically examine issues in the nonprofit sector, typically in the areas of nonprofit management, volunteerism, international civil society, social entrepreneurship and philanthropic studies.

Fellows work for four weeks under the direct guidance of Dr. Peter Frumkin, a highly respected nonprofit scholar, to generate a publishable research article.

“This is a wonderful opportunity for Mandi,” said Edmund Stazyk, assistant professor & PhD coordinator in the Department of Public Administration and Policy.

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newsId: 34CD26DA-AEF8-9F46-512C5CFBC46DA46F
Title: 5 Cool Research Tools
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Abstract: The AU Library wants to make your research easier and more rewarding. Here are five of the terrific tools that we offer to make your academic life a little simpler.
Topic: On Campus
Publication Date: 04/11/2014
Content:

We are on a mission to make your research easier and more rewarding. Below we've listed five terrific tools that we offer to make your academic life a little simpler.

  • Zotero, Mendeley, and EndNote

    1. Free Citation Software

    Programs like EndNote, Mendeley, and Zotero make it simple to grab citations throughout your research process and format them as needed. These citation managers can retrieve citations as you research, generate a bibliography, and help you maintain your own database of citations used throughout your academic career.

    Check out our Citation Style Guide to learn more and find the best program for you!

  • Poster Printer

    2. Poster Printer

    Our large format printer is perfect for creating professional looking posters for presentations, fairs, or projects. We have compiled a selection of helpful poster creation resources, including websites with downloadable templates, poster dos & don’ts, and design tips. Visit the Library website to explore these resources. You can also email us at autechservices@gmail.com to make an appointment for printing or request more information.

  • LibX

    3. LibX

    LibX American University Edition browser extension provides direct access to your Library's resources. This allows you to search our collections through an adaptive, configurable search box. LibX offers a “magic search” feature, which locates electronically available and accessible copies of articles through Google Scholar. Take LibX for a test drive on our research page and then scroll down to “other research tools”.

  • 3d printed model

    4. 3D Printer

    Create scale models, small props for films or photographs, or generate design prototypes with 3D printing at the library. Now located on the Lower Level, directly across from the Technology Services Desk, this is an inexpensive and fun way to test out your ideas. Let your imagination run wild and then email us at autechservices@gmail.com to make a reservation. For more information, visit our website.

  • BrowZine

    5. BrowZine

    This app can turn your tablet (or one checked out from Technology Services) into a bookshelf of your most-used journals! BrowZine works by organizing the articles found in Open Access and subscription databases, uniting them into complete journals, then arranging these journals on a digital newsstand. The result is an easy and familiar way to browse, read, and monitor scholarly journals across the disciplines. BrowZine is available for free download from the App Store or Google Play Store. Once downloaded, select American University and login with your credentials.

Want more great tips about our resources and tools? Stop by to talk to one of our Reference and Research Assistance Librarians today!

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Title: 2014 Mathias Student Research Conference Winners Announced
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Abstract: Undergraduates, graduates, and doctoral students win at 24nd annual Student Research Conference.
Topic: Research
Publication Date: 04/11/2014
Content:

Professional Presentations

The winners of this category receive funding that will cover the cost of three days attendance at a professional peer-reviewed national conference at which the student is presenting. Two students have been awarded this prize in 2014:

 

Cerebellar Grey Matter Correlates with Early Language Delay in ASD
Anila D'Mello
, PhD Candidate, Behavior, Cognition, and Neuroscience

Between a Rock and a Hard Place:
Untold White Desegregation Narratives from Oxford, Mississippi
Anna Kaplan
, PhD Candidate, History

 

Oral Presentations

Best Oral Presentation in the Arts and Humanities by a Freshman or Sophomore

The Variation of Educating through "Whiteness" in
the Movies Freedom Writers and Stand and Deliver
Estephanie Amaro
, Sophomore, American Studies

 

Best Oral Presentation in the Arts and Humanities by a Junior or Senior (tie)

Composition and Geopolitical Readings of Andrea del Verrocchio's Christ and
Saint Thomas at the Orsanmichele
Gennie Stegner-Freitag
, Junior, Art History

Performing Domesticity, Practicing Rebellion:
Gender and Power Theory in the Grimms' Fairy Tales
Lilly Mcgee
, Senior, Literature

 

Best Oral Presentation in the Arts and Humanities by a Graduate Student

Beyond Humansim: Fra Angelico, Giovanni Dominici,
and The Mocking of Christ at San Marco
Brittney Bailey
, MA Candidate, Art History

 

Best Oral Presentation in the Sciences by a Junior or Senior

Computational Analysis of the Riemann Zeta Function
Andreas Wiede
, Senior, Mathematics

 

Best Oral Presentation in the Sciences by a Graduate Student

Using the Fractional Logit Model to Assess the Impact of Transportation-Related Particulate Matter Pollution on the Abundance of Epiphytic Communities: What's Not to Lichen?
Joshua Wayland
, MA Candidate, Global Environmental Policy
Shea T. Caspersen, MA Candidate, Environmental Science

 

Best Oral Presentation in the Social Sciences by a Freshman or Sophomore

Uganda and the Democratic Republic of Congo: Children at War
Toby McCarrol
l, Sophomore, History

 

Best Oral Presentation in the Social Sciences by a Junior or Senior (tied)

Information Rigidity in Macroeconomic Forecasts: An International Empirical Investigation
Jonathan Wallen
, Senior, Mathematics and Economics

Music and the Afghan Refugee: Identity, Memory, and Place
Sydney Krieck
, Senior, Music & Anthropology

 

Best Performance

Hiroshima through the Eyes of Three Girls
Fu Hamabe
, Senior, International Studies

 

Poster Presentations

Best Poster in the Sciences by a Freshman or Sophomore (tied)

Society's Perspective on Fruits and Vegetables and the Affects of Luminescent Food
Nina Kaplan
, Freshman, Undeclared
Sarah Kravetz, Freshman, Undeclared
Andrew Long, Freshman, Undeclared

Vaccines and Socioeconomics
Andrew Episcopo
, Sophomore, Undeclared
Hannah Lappin, Freshman, Undeclared
Alix Braun, Freshman, Undeclared

 

Best Poster in the Sciences by a Junior or Senior

Temporal Sensitivity of the Chromatic Visual System
Venice Cowardin
, Senior, Mathematics

 

Best Poster in the Social Sciences by a Junior or Senior

Evaluation of Participation Barriers for Child and Adult Food Care Program (CAFCP) in Community Child Care Homes
Tahmina Ahmed
, Senior, Public Health
Maram Alfi, Senior, Public Health
Jessica Gioe, Senior, Political Science & Public Health
Amanda Lynen, Senior, Public Health
Diana Williams, Junior, Public Health & Sociology

 

Best Poster in the Social Sciences by a Graduate Student

Taste Tests Increase Vegetable Consumption in DC Schools
Devin Ellsworth
, MS Candidate, Health Promotion Management

 

Best Poster in the Social Sciences by a Freshman or Sophomore

The Correlation Between Sexual Health Awareness and
Availablity of Resources on DC College Campuses
Morgan Grant
, Freshman, Undeclared
Karl Laubacher, Sophomore, Undeclared
Julia Norman, Freshman, Undeclared
Roshan Thomas, Sophomore, Undeclared
Julia Eigner, Freshman, Undeclared

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Title: Terrorism Expert Wins Morton Bender Prize
Author: Dave DeFusco
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Abstract: Joseph Young, an expert on terrorism and homeland security at American University’s School of Public Affairs, has been awarded the Morton Bender Prize.
Topic: Achievements
Publication Date: 04/10/2014
Content:

Joseph Young, an expert on terrorism and homeland security at American University’s School of Public Affairs, has been awarded the Morton Bender Prize.

The prize recognizes the important research and professional achievements of a newly tenured associate professor, and is designed to facilitate the faculty member’s progress toward full professor.

“Joe Young is an extraordinary scholar, teacher and colleague,” said Dean Barbara Romzek. “He embodies the type of passionate researcher and high-achieving scholar that the Morton Bender Prize seeks to recognize.”

Young will receive the prize at the Faculty Recognition Dinner on Sunday, April 27. It is the second time in as many years that a faculty member from the School of Public Affairs has been awarded the prize. David Pitts, chair of the Department of Public Administration & Policy, was last year’s recipient.

Since receiving his doctorate five years ago, Young has authored or co-authored 24 peer-reviewed publications prominent in the field. His research focuses on political violence; transnational and domestic terrorism; interstate war; human rights; foreign aid; and civil war and insurgency.

His paper, “Lying About Terrorism,” which he co-authored with two students in the School of Public Affairs, will be published in Studies in Conflict and Terrorism in May. It explains why terrorists strategically avoid truthfully claiming responsibility for an attack.

Young serves as an investigative and research affiliate with the University of Maryland’s National Consortium for the Study of Terrorism and Responses to Terrorism, and has been a recipient of many grants. In 2009, he received a National Science Foundation Minerva grant for a project titled, “Terror, Conflict Processes, Organizations and Ideologies: Completing the Picture.” He is a regular contributor to the blog, Political Violence @ a Glance, and an associate editor of the International Studies Quarterly blog.

He was instrumental in developing the curriculum for a master’s concentration in Terrorism and Security Policy, and a master of science degree in Terrorism and Homeland Security Policy that will debut in the fall. Both are offered by the Department of Justice, Law and Criminology.

“Joe has been a scholarly dynamo, an exceptional teacher and an involved and genial colleague,” said Jonathan Gould, chair of the Department of Justice, Law and Criminology. “He richly deserves this award.”

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Title: Student Health Center Reaccreditation Reaffirms Quality Care
Author: Patrick Bradley
Subtitle:
Abstract: AU’s Student Heath Center continues as the only AAAHC-accredited college health center in D.C.
Topic: Achievements
Publication Date: 04/10/2014
Content:

Seal of Approval

AU’s Student Health Center has a new tiny, rectangular sticker on its front window. Even though it’s small enough to miss in passing, the logo on that sticker speaks volumes about the university and its commitment to the student body.

In fact, it says specifically that the Accreditation Association for Ambulatory Health Care believes AU’s SHC offers a host of quality services to its student clients. It’s the AAAHC’s job to scrutinize the center’s work and compare it with a national standard.

Dean of students and assistant vice president of Campus Life Dr. Rob Hradsky helped oversee the rigorous process that saw the SHC earn highest reaccreditation honors for the third time. He’s thrilled, but not surprised, to see these results, which will keep the SHC accredited for the maximum three-year period.

“Whenever you have someone external to the university who is looking objectively at how this center is functioning provide their stamp of approval and say, ‘Wow, you’re really doing a great job, and not only that—we think you’re doing things that others could benefit from hearing about,’ that’s a great feeling,” he explained.

After nearly eight years in the field of college medicine, new SHC medical director Dr. David Reitman can’t agree more with the association’s conclusions.

“They not only said that we were doing a good job but gave us the highest level of commendations,” he shared. “We were not only meeting but exceeding expectations for a student health center and the quality of care students receive here.”

Better & Better

For SHC’s associate director for administrative services Edythe-Anne Cook, the reaccreditation process allows the center to constantly raise the bar for itself, as it has to adapt to AAAHC’s evolving standards of care.

“We’re always striving to improve ourselves and make the services we offer students better,” she said.

Some of those improvements have and will include expanded appointment times, an online medical records and appointment system, and more evening hours catering to students’ busy class and internship schedules.

Hradsky counts Reitman himself as a piece of the improvements.

“He really understands our particular population and the needs of college students. Aside from being a physician who’s demonstrated excellence in the many roles he’s had, including leading pediatric emergency departments,” he said. “He’s brought a real focus on understanding the needs of our student population.”

Watch & Learn

With Reitman on board and the reaccreditation achieved, the SHC also has secured a full staff of fully credentialed health practitioners. According to Reitman, it’s not only just a fully credentialed staff; it’s a group of people passionate about college health.

“People that work in college health enjoy it,” he said. “You’re working with a great group of students and staff that are committed to keeping students healthy. …Everyone who’s on our staff really wants to be here, and they really love the work.”

Cook includes herself as part of that passionate group. Having served the SHC for the past nine years, she still loves seeing students develop and mature through their visits to the center.

For her, health care is an important facet of AU’s living-learning experience.

“You get to watch students learn and grow,” she explained. “By the time that they’re graduating, they know about health insurance and how to navigate health care on their own. That’s the thing so many of us like about the work.”

Hradsky notes that the SHC also helps AU fulfill an important strategic goal: provide students with an unsurpassed undergraduate education and experience.

As the only Washington, D.C., college health center accredited by AAAHC, the SHC is certainly doing its part in fostering a group of wonks that will change the world.

“We recognize that, in order for a student be successful academically, they need to feel well and live a healthy lifestyle,” Hradsky said. “We want to make sure that when we consider student health, we’re looking at it broadly so that we can support their ultimate goal of getting a solid education and graduating from a strong institution.”

Tags: Campus Life,Campus News,Office of Campus Life,Student Affairs,Student Health Center,Student Issues,Student Life,Students
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Title: New York Alumni Among AU's Most Engaged
Author: Daniel Mularz, CAS/MA ’13
Subtitle:
Abstract: Three alumni volunteers share why it’s an exciting time to be an AU alumni in NYC.
Topic: Alumni
Publication Date: 04/10/2014
Content:

As graduation approaches, New York City alumni volunteers Ashley Rose Stumbaugh, Kogod/BSBA ’12, Jason Gold, SOC/BA ’05, David Teslicko, SIS/BA ’09, WCL/JD ’12, and the 10,570 American University alumni from New York City look forward to welcoming new graduates and sharing with them all the exciting engagement opportunities NYC offers AU alumni.

David, who is currently a member of the NYC Young Alumni Chapter, was initially drawn to American University for its focus on international studies and public affairs. “Visiting AU sealed the deal for me, as I instantly appreciated the unique atmosphere of the campus,” he says. After graduating from American University’s School of International Service and then the Washington College of Law, David began working for a judge on the court at the Court of International Trade. Like most New Yorkers, David is constantly enthralled by the buzz of activity the city has to offer. As president of the NYC Young Alumni Chapter, he works to create buzz of his own by putting together a variety of programs throughout the year.

David says that one event he and many other young alumni look forward to each year is AU’s Back to School Night. The event invites recent alumni who just moved to the city to meet with current alumni in New York in an effort to foster the growth of the AU community there. Other events include AU happy hours, museum tours, and presidential receptions. David says he remains engaged with the university because it shaped the person he is today. He finds the NYC alumni network to be filled with other individuals who share the passion he has for American University and looks forward to attending alumni events in the city to learn how other alumni are making a difference professionally as well as in their communities.

Another young alumna, Ashley Rose Stumbaugh, is currently social media manager for the Young Alumni Chapter and promotes many of the upcoming NYC engagements alongside David. She says fellow alumni often joke with her that it’s counter intuitive to have a “financial gal” working the social media campaign. A nod to AU’s liberal arts education, Ashley has put together a number of successful social media campaigns, including a series called, “Eagles Who Soar," to introduce NYC young alumni to the chapter board members. Ashley is always looking for fun ways to share the stories of fellow alumni and uses social media like Facebook to highlight the many engagements New York City offers AU alumni. She shared that during the month of March many young alumni were excited by the success of the AU basketball team and came to support the team at viewing parties for the Patriot League Championship and NCAA tournament. Despite a tough loss, she says alumni still had a fun time showing school spirit and cheering on their AU Eagles.  

Ashley knows many NYC alumni are also looking forward to the upcoming summer events, including another season of AU kickball and the upcoming AIDS Walk in May. Being a financial professional, she particularly enjoys engaging with students at the NY Finance Network trip and site visit. As a young alumna, Ashley understands the importance of networking and looks to help AU Finance students any way she can with internships or job opportunities. She explains, “The most rewarding thing to me is seeing a student who I met with on a site visit or exchanged emails with over coffee succeed in landing an awesome internship. I get to feel like I had a tiny part of their success.”

Site visits in New York City for students interested in media and marketing have also been a popular engagement opportunity. Each winter, students interested in the field of media and marketing take a trip to New York and experience the inner workings of the businesses they hope to be part of after graduation. Jason Gold, director of scripted production at AMC and a member of the Entertainment and Media Alumni Alliance, arranged for AMC to host its first ever site visit in January. “I enjoy passing along all the knowledge I’ve gained back to students who will be joining me in the workforce,” says Jason. He often stresses to students and recent graduates that, while the television and media industries are not easy to break into, they should not to give up. “Make connections and know that you need to start from the bottom and work your way up,” Jason adds, saying he remains connected to his classmates and fraternity brothers through many alumni events in NYC.  

All three of these active New York alumni feel a need to pay it forward to students. These Eagles of the Big Apple cannot stress enough the importance of student-alumni connections and still live by their alma mater, “Once an Eagle, Always an Eagle.” David says, “AU wasn’t the kind of school where students succeed simply by showing up to class and hanging out in the dorms the rest of the day. I frequently find that I am relying on skills, lessons, and connections that I thought would be relevant and ultimately it has led to a far more memorable and exciting life.”

Tags: Alumni,Alumni Newsletter,Alumni Relations,Alumni Update
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Title: BleakHouse Press Honors Outstanding Writers
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Abstract: BleakHouse Publishing, an independent, not-for-profit press devoted to social justice, hosted its annual awards ceremony to honor the most outstanding BleakHouse writers of the year.
Topic: Achievements
Publication Date: 04/08/2014
Content:

BleakHouse Publishing, an independent, not-for-profit press devoted to social justice, recently hosted an annual awards ceremony to honor the most outstanding BleakHouse writers of the year.

The ceremony featured readings from Chandra Bozelko's new book, Up the River, and from Zoe Orfanos' new book, An Elegy for Old Terrors; the launch of Tacenda Literary Magazine; the presentation of literary awards for best book, play, short story, essay, poems and artwork, and the Social Justice Advocacy Award, and the naming of the Victor Hassine Memorial Scholars, Distinguished Writers and Artists Guild and BleakHouse Fellow.

The press, founded in 2006 by Robert Johnson, editor and a professor of justice, law and criminology, publishes creative writing that sheds a humane light on men and women entangled in the justice system. Many of its published writers are current or former prisoners. American University students and alumni play active roles at the press as staff members, poets, bloggers and creative thinkers.

"The creativity and resilience of our authors reveal an often unacknowledged side of incarcerated Americans," said Johnson. "Seeing criminals through a softer lens, the works we publish raise questions about our system’s harshest punishments." 

Johnson said BleakHouse explores a range of topics, "all of them hopeful variations on the bleaker qualities of human existence"--from addiction, to violent crime, to the existential challenges of everyday life. "There is no issue bearing on the human condition—that to live is to suffer—that BleakHouse contributors will not engage," he said.

BleakHouse Awards

Aubrey Rose, BleakHouse Fellow for academic year 2013-2014, with Alexa Marie Kelly, BleakHouse Fellow for academic year 2014-2015, and Robert Johnson.

BleakHouse Awards

Zoe Orfanos reads from her new book with BleakHouse, An Elegy for Old Terrors.

BleakHouse Awards

Joanna Heaney and Nora Kirk, recipients of the Victor Hassine Memorial Scholarship, with Robert Johnson.

BleakHouse Awards

Sonia Tabriz, Liz Calka, admitted to the Distinguished Writers and Artists Guild, with Robert Johnson.

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Title: See What We Have to Offer at the Music Library
Author:
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Abstract: The AU Music Library is home to a range of materials and services available to all students. With a collection that includes musicals on DVD; over 10,000 CDs; scores; and music magazines, we have something for everyone.
Topic: On Campus
Publication Date: 04/08/2014
Content:

Everyone already knows that the AU Library is the place for DVDs, reference help, comfy chairs, and printing. BUT, did you know that the AU Library also has a Music Library?

Across Massachusetts Ave. from main campus in the Katzen Arts Center, the Music Library is worth the walk for anyone with even a casual interest in music.

Our collection includes thousands of scores for you to look through and borrow, so if you’re starting to learn to play an instrument, we can find music appropriate for any skill level. If you haven’t touched that trumpet since high school band, and are looking to get back into it, we have a terrific selection of Popular, Classical, Jazz, and Musical scores. With practice scores for all ability levels, we can help you refine your already polished technique—or take a stab a teaching yourself how to play. No, you don’t need to be a music-major or even be taking classes in the Department of Performing Arts—if you go to AU, you can borrow from us.

The Music Library also has over 10,000 CDs. We know you stream stuff and YouTube things. (We do too!) But sometimes CDs are great—for sound quality, for album artwork and notes, and for having the whole thing. We have a lot of classical and jazz CDs, as well as classic rock, hip hop, pop, world, and folk. You can borrow up to 5 CDs at a time, keep them for a week, and return them to us or the borrowing desk in Bender Library.

Our music collection is only the tip of the iceberg. We also have DVDs of musicals (borrow for class or for fun), selected scripts (find the perfect monologue for your next audition), and computers with specialized software including Finale. We have a selection of magazines, from mainstream music industry big-hitter Billboard to the UK’s premiere experimental music magazine, The Wire, plus a comfortable reading area for relaxing in between classes.

Our greatest asset, though, is our staff. We’re all into, and love to talk, music—styles, bands, records, and more. There’s tons of music out there, clickable and in your face, but sometimes it’s nice to just talk to someone about music and what you’re into. That’s where we come in. 

Curious? You are always welcome to visit us in Katzen First Floor. During the semester, we’re open Monday–Thursday 9am–8pm, Friday 9am–5pm, and Saturday 11am–4pm.

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Title: Taking Advantage of the SIS Backyard
Author: Stephanie Block
Subtitle:
Abstract: Washington, D.C. is the hub for the nation’s foreign policy. AU’s School of International Service (SIS) is an arm’s length away from some of the most influential embassies, world leaders, and agencies in the world.
Topic: International
Publication Date: 04/08/2014
Content:

Washington, D.C. is the hub for the nation’s foreign policy. AU’s School of International Service (SIS) is an arm’s length away from some of the most influential embassies, world leaders, and agencies in the world.

SIS graduate students and alumni now have access to the powerful “SIS backyard” via a new student-alumni engagement event series that takes participants behind the scenes at some of the top international relations organizations. Stephanie Block, SIS associate director of alumni relations, collaborated with the AU Career Center, the AU Alumni Association, the SIS Alumni Chapter, and the SIS Graduate Student Council to develop SIS Industry Days, an event series that occurs four to six times a year.

Essentially a series of adult field trips, SIS Industry Days gives students and alumni inside access to organizations that conduct foreign policy. The site visits include meetings with AU alumni that work for the employer, panel discussions, behind-the-scene tours, and networking over food and beverages with other alumni, students, and employees.

“Our SIS Industry Days events symbolize our commitment to an interdisciplinary approach to the study of international relations,” says SIS Dean Jim Goldgeier. “It provides access to our local, outstanding institutions, maximizing opportunities for students and alumni.”

The series launched at the State Department in spring 2013, followed by visits to the World Bank, the National Counter Terrorism Center (NCTC), and the United States Institute of Peace (USIP). Each organization allows for a different size group and offers a unique itinerary of activities.

The State Department provided an intimate group with small discussions throughout the day, a tour, and concluded with a seated lunch, while the World Bank event featured four AU SIS alumni panelists, a question and answer session, and a networking reception.

The NCTC event was a half-day of mini-presentations by NCTC AU alumni employees—some of the nation’s top terrorism analysts—along with a surprise visit from the Center’s director, Matthew Olsen. The highlight was a behind-the-scenes tour of the Operations Center.

Most recently, the series wrapped up for the school year at USIP lead by SIS alumna, and acting USIP president, Kristin Lord, SIS/BA ’91.

“Integrating work into the educational experience magnifies the impact of both,” says Brian Rowe, AU Career Center Director of Experiential Learning. “Giving students the opportunity to put theory into practice enables them to contextualize what they have learned academically.”

Block is now exploring possible events at the Pentagon, the Department of Homeland Security, the Woodrow Wilson Center, US Agency for International Development, and maybe even trips to New York City and Boston and elsewhere for the 2014-15 school year.

Be sure to bookmark the AU Alumni Events Calendar, which lists upcoming events.

If you are an alumnus/a interested in hosting an SIS Industry Days event at your employer, please e-mail sisalum@american.edu.

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Title: SIS Shines at ISA Convention
Author: Mana Zarinejad
Subtitle:
Abstract: Dozens of SIS faculty and students recently returned from the 55th annual convention of the International Studies Association.
Topic: International
Publication Date: 04/08/2014
Content:

Dozens of SIS faculty and students recently returned from the 55th annual convention of the International Studies Association (ISA), the largest organization dedicated to the study of international affairs, with more than 6,500 scholars from around the world.

The 2014 convention, titled "Spaces and Places: Geopolitics in an Era of Globalization," took place March 26-29 in Toronto and featured 1,000 panel presentations from scholars and students, including approximately thirty SIS faculty and one dozen doctoral students who attended to present their research.

The highlight of the annual convention is the presidential address, led this year by SIS Professor and UNESCO Chair in Transnational Challenges and Governance Amitav Acharya, who assumed the presidency of ISA during the convention. Acharya is the first non-Western president of the association in its fifty-five-year history.

Fittingly, Acharya challenged his colleagues during his address to think beyond the Western perspective when contemplating theories of international relations and to consider his concept of non-Western international relations theory, which he and colleague Barry Buzan of the London School of Economics published in an edited volume of the same name in 2013. Acharya's speech resulted in a standing ovation from the large convention audience and was followed by a reception in his honor.

SIS also hosted a reception during the four-day conference that included alumni and accepted graduate students living in and around Toronto, who had an opportunity to meet with current SIS graduate students and faculty.

Other highlights of the annual convention included:

  • The Peace Studies Section of ISA honored SIS Professor Abdul-Aziz Said with the Distinguished Scholar Award for his long-time contribution to the field of peace and conflict studies.
  • The Theory Section of ISA honored SIS Associate Dean for Undergraduate Studies Patrick Thaddeus Jackson with its inaugural best book award for his book, The Conduct of Inquiry in International Relations.
  • The Ethnicity, Nationalism, and Migration Studies Section of ISA honored SIS Associate Professor Christine Chin for her book, Cosmopolitan Sex Workers.
  • The International Communication Section of ISA elected SIS Assistant Professor Craig Hayden as its new Program Chair-elect, which will enable him to ascend to Chair of the section one year later.
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Title: Baby Steps in Toddler Gaming
Author: Caitlin Friess
Subtitle:
Abstract: The results of the AU Association for Computing Machinery’s Baby Steps: A Game Jam for Toddlers event.
Topic: Science
Publication Date: 04/08/2014
Content:

In the rising tide of toddler-friendly tech, it can be hard to tell what games actually appeal to tiny consumers. Simple swipes, primary colors, and pop-culture twists were all central themes in the AU ACM Baby Steps: A Game Jam for Toddlers hackathon, held at AU on March 21-23. Three teams from the university’s chapter of the Association for Computing Machinery competed against one another in a friendly 48-hour dash. Each team, consisting of three to five students with coding and graphic design skills, designed and built a tablet-friendly game aimed at toddlers aged three to six.

The focus on toddlers came from computer science professor Michael Black, the faculty supervisor for the AU ACM. Black came upon the idea after purchasing a child-specific tablet for his three-year-old daughter and finding it unsatisfactory.

“When you buy these tablets they come pre-loaded with all this spyware and manufacturer products that really don’t work for this kind of device, especially for children,” Black says.

Hackathon events such as this are a common phenomenon among universities and often involve teams from different universities competing against one another. AU ACM’s experience with these events made it easy for them to coordinate their own AU-specific weekend, according to club president James Matthews.

“It’s an interesting challenge to design for,” Matthews says, “Ordinarily you’re making a game and the trick is to balance the complexity, the level of difficulty, with how well you are able to understand the game itself. Those challenges still apply, but on a very different scale. It has to have few enough moving pieces and simple parts so four or five year olds can understand what’s going on.”

The teams also wanted to make sure their scope of ideas could be accomplished in one weekend at a casual pace without forcing members to sit and code for 36 straight hours. Instead, teams worked between 12 and 24 hours to finish their entries.

“There are hackathons where you do that,” says club treasurer Dri Torres, “So we put teams and ideas together on Friday and started hacking on Saturday morning.”

The final judging of the Android-optimized games took place on March 23 at 1:00 p.m., in a room full of toddler judges, their parents, and the hopeful teams. Each child was given a chance to play the games while their parents observed and filled in rubrics rating such qualities as the child’s interest in the game, how easy it was to play, and how it handled on the devices.

The scores were incredibly close, all ranked on a 75-point scale. In first place, with a score of 75 was Brite Lite, a reinvention of the old 1967 game Lite Brite optimized for tablet and web. Kids using the app piece together little colored dots to form an array of images, either on their own or using one of 20 templates.

Second place went to Toddler Selfie at 73 points. This app-only game was designed to capture a picture (or “selfie”) of the toddler through the device’s camera and break it into a puzzle on the screen that the child could piece together. There are two modes: “easy” with six pieces, and “hard” with 24.

The third place team came in a single point behind team two with 72 points. Alphabet Snake is another reinvention of an old classic and encourages toddlers to piece together the alphabet in the correct order without running their “snake” into itself as the line grows longer.

Each of the games created by the teams will soon be up and running on Google Play.

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Title: Kogod Network 2014
Author: Laura Herring
Subtitle:
Abstract: Annual career development event connects Kogod students, alumni, for mock interviews and networking.
Topic: Business
Publication Date: 04/08/2014
Content:

The annual Kogod Network, the largest networking event of the year for the full Kogod community, took place on Wednesday, April 2, hosted by the Kogod Center for Career Development (KCCD).

More than 90 students participated in mock interviews with 25 interviewers, a combination of campus recruiters, alumni, and friends of the school. For the first time, interviews were conducted via Skype and telephone as well.


Kogod Network 2014 from Kogod School of Business on Vimeo.


At a reception following the interviews, approximately 200 current undergraduate and graduate students, alumni, and other members of the Kogod community mingled to discuss their roles in business.

"Kogod Network is the epitome of what we as a business school community are all about: building relationships," said Arlene Hill, director of the KCCD. "This is the only event we have where all of the Kogod community—students, alumni, faculty, and staff—come together to reconnect and meet new people."

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Title: Merging Theatre and International Relations
Author: Abbey Becker
Subtitle:
Abstract: Jeff Gan ’14 finds his sweet spot at the junction of theatre and international relations.
Topic: Arts
Publication Date: 04/07/2014
Content:

When Jeff Gan arrived at AU, he declared a major in international relations in the School of International Studies. Like many of his fellow students, he wanted to work at the State Department and join the Foreign Service. But then he caught a bug that altered his path. 

On a whim, Gan joined the University College, a small-group learning and living community for first-year students. Participants share an on-campus “residential neighborhood” and attend an intensive seminar together, which for Gan’s cohort was Theatre: Principles, Plays, and Performance. 

Gan had done some theatre in high school, and he had made some new theatre friends through the program, so he decided to take a few theatre courses on the side. “I thought I’d be a theatre minor at most,” he says. 

But the more classes he took, the more he discovered professors he really liked, and he developed a passion for the art. 

Gan noticed that he had begun to look at international relations through a cultural lens—and at theatre through an international perspective. A cultural context, he discovered, enriched his understanding of history—and vice versa. And so Gan decided to declare a second major: theatre. 

“The more I got into the liberal arts curriculum, the more I realized there were more options that could give me a broader reach,” he says. “I could touch economics, politics, the arts, literature, and sociology through this art form.” 

It didn’t take long for Gan to become a part of AU’s small and intimate performing arts community, where everyone is on a first-name basis. “We have regular meetings as an entire department, initiated by Professor Sybil Williams,” he says, “and we hold informal freshman-senior gettogethers every month to address concerns, offer advice, even play Apples to Apples.” 

Gan knew he loved theatre, but he wasn’t sure where his second major might lead. His revelation, he says, came in Cara Gabriel’s theatre history class. Gan approached his teacher after class one day and told her, “I really enjoyed this—how can I do more of this kind of thing?” She told him that he could be a director or an academic—or look into dramaturgy. It turns out he didn’t have to look long or far. 

Gan went to see theatre professor Carl Menninger, who was directing the show Bare: A Pop Opera, and he asked how he could get involved in the production. Menninger suggested that he be the dramaturge. And that is how Gan discovered his path. 

“You get to form this very passionate relationship with the text,” he says. “Some directors say that their experience feels like giving birth—you pour so much of yourself into it. With dramaturgy, you’re really involved with the process, but it’s less emotionally draining.” 

Research is at the center of dramaturgy, which satisfies Gan’s insatiable curiosity. “You get to reach into subjects that aren’t necessarily about drama,” he says. “I get to do a lot of historical research. For one of the shows I did, I devoted three hours to researching the postage system in Weimar Germany, and I loved it.” 

Gan has long been a fan of the performing arts, but now he understands them on a deeper level. “Every live performance is unique. You’ll never have the same confluence of audience and actors or have the cues called in the exact same way,” he says. “It’s a really beautiful and very brief relationship between the audience and the performance that can’t be replicated.” 

Gan’s enthusiasm for theatre and his passion for research have not gone unnoticed by his professors or the directors he’s worked with. 

“Jeff is perfectly suited to life in the theatre because he is something of a Renaissance man,” says professor Meghan Raham. “He has a truly curious mind and is eager and able to synthesize ideas and information from seemingly disparate disciplines into a central idea. Jeff’s interest in everything makes him particularly valuable as a collaborator, and he also manages somehow to be quite likeable while knowing a lot about everything—an even more unique trait. I can’t wait to see what the world looks like once he takes over.” 

While world domination doesn’t seem to be part of his agenda, Gan hopes eventually to follow in the footsteps of those who have inspired him most: his theatre professors. “I want to expose as many people as possible to theatre,” he says. “I believe in its power, and I want to help build a sustainable consumer base for the arts.”

Tags: Performing Arts,Performing Arts Dept,Students,International Relations
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newsId: 9C2F647D-AC72-5672-3813868C62A468EB
Title: The “L” Word
Author: Gregg Sangillo
Subtitle:
Abstract: Despite the negative stereotypes, AU professors and students explain the merits of lobbying.
Topic: Government & Politics
Publication Date: 04/04/2014
Content:

The K Street lobbying industry is sometimes labeled a fourth branch of government. Yet despite possessing Washington’s most valued currencies—power, influence, and actual currency—lobbyists also have an image problem. They’re in the cross hairs of the public, inclined to hate all things Washington. They’re also derided by politicians—the same ones who employ future lobbyists while often preparing for lobbying careers of their own.

But are lobbyists being unfairly targeted? After all, the right to petition your government is protected under the First Amendment. Yet how exactly a lobbyist exerts influence on legislation and regulatory policy is the main point of contention. American University’s School of Public Affairs (SPA) explores some of the gray areas through the Public Affairs and Advocacy Institute (PAAI), part of the Center for Congressional and Presidential Studies (CCPS). School of Public Affairs professor James Thurber started PAAI, and SPA professor Patrick Griffin is currently PAAI’s academic director.

The institute is an intensive, two-week course that examines major aspects of lobbying and political influence. Additional advanced workshops are offered in specific lobbying areas, such as direct mail and grassroots.

“We don’t shy away from the controversy that surrounds lobbying, some of which is well-founded in dealing with the scandals that have emerged. But we also talk about the reforms that are being generated and implemented,” says Griffin, who served in the Clinton White House as assistant to the president for legislative affairs.

Thurber also organized an international “Conference on Lobbying Reform in the U.S. and the E.U.,” which took place on March 17th and was cosponsored by the School of Public Affairs and the School of International Service.

Loopholes and Corruption

The idea behind the conference was to compare and contrast how lobbying is handled in the United States and Europe. In an interview, Thurber talks about resistance to lobbying reforms on both sides of the Atlantic. Europeans rely largely on voluntary transparency from their lobbyists, and while the U.S. has regulations in place, Thurber says enforcement has been weak.

Some U.S. reforms were enacted in 2007 following the scandal of disgraced super-lobbyist Jack Abramoff (“Casino Jack”), but Thurber still sees a system that’s been corrupted. 

With worries about violating the law, many lobbyists have de-registered as a way to avoid scrutiny. “If you registered and then you break the law, you can go to jail. If you don’t register, there are no consequences for it,” Thurber says. Some senior government relations professionals consider themselves “advisers” or “consultants,” which enables them to evade lobbying registration. 

Thurber says some rules, including restrictions on flight travel with members of Congress, are too narrow in scope.

“There can’t be a registered lobbyist in the plane. But the CEO of Boeing can be in the plane, and he gives all the money. The lobbyist doesn’t,” Thurber explains. 

Thurber also describes lavish spending and aggressive lobbying that would make House of Cards’s Remy Danton blush. 

“There were probably 26 different corporations and law firms that bought townhouses on Capitol Hill. What are those about? Those are about a member of Congress being able to walk across the street, go into the townhouse, and have a fundraiser. And then go back and vote,” Thurber says. “[They’re] going back to the floor and voting on issues that the people who held the fundraiser for them are interested in. And that’s a scandal.”

In Defense of Lobbying

Yet AU students also learn the merits of lobbying and advocacy. “I wouldn’t be involved in teaching lobbying if I didn’t think it was an honorable and important profession. I think it’s a very sophisticated one. It takes a lot of thinking and doing to be effective at it,” Griffin says.

Griffin believes citizens have gotten a skewed view of lobbying from both political leaders and the press. “It becomes a whipping boy. And I think the public is not served by that. People need to know what makes sense about the role of lobbying and advocacy, and what needs to be carefully monitored. We’ve never had that discussion. It’s just kind of stupid, one line bumper sticker comments.”

Though Thurber criticizes aspects of lobbying, he encourages his students to consider it as a profession. “We’re producing people who are going to go out and advocate,” he says. “We have the right to do this. It’s a profession. And we should produce professional people who have internal codes of ethics and know the law.”

Career Plans

Politically-minded AU students are certainly exploring careers on K Street. Demetrios Festa is a senior political science major set to graduate in May. He’s also currently a public policy intern with Patton Boggs, giving him the chance to observe savvy lobbyists in action. 

“I’ve been able to work hands-on and develop not only communication skills, but just learn more about the process,” Festa says.

Festa is planning to attend law school in the fall, but he’s strongly considering a career in lobbying after he finishes school. He took the PAAI course with professor Griffin. “He brought in all sorts of different speakers and took us to visit all different types of firms, and that really provided a more in-depth look into the field,” he says.

“It was one of the best classes I’ve taken at AU.”

Awesta Sarkash is earning her master’s degree in political science in the School of Public Affairs. Taking the PAAI course bolstered her interest in lobbying, and now she hopes to land a job in the field.

“When I took that class, we had to develop a lobbying plan regarding a particular issue. And in our case, it was comprehensive immigration reform. And you have to get a lot of data, you have to get a lot of research, you have to do polls and surveys,” she explains.

This same campaign forced her to deal with a real-world dilemma that many lobbyists confront: arguing for a cause you don’t necessarily agree with. “It’s smart because I’m for immigration reform, but I was on the team that was against it. So you have to be creative,” she says.

Sarkash is well-aware that the term lobbying has a pejorative connotation, but she feels it’s easy to combat the negative stereotypes. “All it really takes is like a two-minute conversation about what lobbying really is, that we’re granted that right by the Constitution,” she says. “It’s here for a reason. We have lobbying because people have specific interests, and they need a connection to Congress and to be able to influence policy. It’s because citizens don’t have that many outlets.”

More Voices

Now citizens are finding more and more outlets for advocacy. The traditional image of the lobbyist is a well-dressed man hobnobbing at the Palm Restaurant for corporate interests. But plenty of lobbyists fight for charitable causes, such as ensuring veterans’ care or eradicating child poverty. And through technological advances, a greater number of people can have their voices heard in Washington. 

An AU alumna, Caroline Goncalves earned her undergraduate degree in political science from SPA, and she’s now getting her master’s in public policy there as well. She’s currently working as associate director of federal advocacy for the American Speech-Language-Hearing Association. She notes how technology has transformed the lobbying world.

“I think social media has actually been a huge, huge game changer. We ask our members to tweet or Facebook their members of Congress,” says Goncalves. “It’s really hard as a smaller association to get face time with a member of Congress. But if you can get their attention on one little thing, perhaps they have a personal connection to something we’re talking about.”

“It’s empowering,” Thurber says. “And a bunch of young people who have an idea about something can really get organized.”

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newsId: CF13E936-F466-79DF-E1A0EC0EC87D2F0A
Title: PEERS Take a Stand on Sexual Assault Prevention
Author: Patrick Bradley
Subtitle:
Abstract: One student group represents a campus united in support.
Topic: On Campus
Publication Date: 04/04/2014
Content:

Standing

Speaking at the front of a room full of young men last fall, Kirsten Franzen was anxious. “I was really nervous,” Franzen recalled. “It was for a fraternity, and there are a lot of stereotypes around fraternities. I didn’t know what it was going to be like.”

Franzen, a junior in the School of International Service, was conducting her first workshop on sexual assault, relationship violence, and stalking. As a member of Peer Educators for the Elimination of Relationship & Sexual Violence—or PEERS—she’s dedicated to raising awareness around these issues and promoting an end to them.

Daniel Rappaport, AU’s sexual assault prevention coordinator, heads the 15-member group through the Wellness Center. Under his weekly instruction, Franzen and the others earn academic credits while learning how to facilitate workshops and affect change on campus.

To him, though necessary, sexual assault often isn’t an easy topic to approach. He lauds Franzen for standing up. “It’s such an admirable and courageous thing for students to devote their time and energy, for at least two semesters, to making this issue a significant part of their life with the intention to help others,” he said.

Educational Push

PEERS, now in its third year on campus, isn’t the only program at AU addressing sexual assault education. In fact, according to associate dean of students Michelle Espinosa, 96% of incoming AU freshmen experience education on the topic either at Eagle Summit summer orientations or the online Haven program.

But, as chair of the university’s faculty and staff Sexual Assault Working Group, Espinosa wants to build upon that figure. “It’s a very strong number of students that have participated. What we’re really interested in targeting now is the ongoing education,” she said. “What are we doing to back that up throughout the academic year and throughout all four years that students are here?”

Part of that expanded education and attention has come through Rappaport himself. His position began as part-time in 2010; now he serves students as a confidential victim advocate and prevention educator on a full-time basis.

He believes the changes send a message about the university. “It shows a dramatic and significant improvement in not only trying to prevent sexual violence, dating violence, and stalking,” he said, “but ensuring that students have a confidential resource who specifically works with those issues, ensuring that students are receiving the care from the university that victims of those crimes deserve.”

Throughout April’s National Sexual Assault Awareness Month, Rappaport and scores of AU student groups, offices, and departments are hosting events across campus to keep a spotlight on the issue, which disproportionately affects college students.

A Safe Space

Franzen will host a number of workshops for fraternities, sororities, and residence halls this month. And this time, she’s looking forward to it.

Her first nerve-riddled presentation for the fraternity? “It was great. The guys were really active and really well versed in the issues,” she explained. “It was just a really positive experience for me. Ever since then, I’ve just been like, ‘Yeah! Workshops!’”

The rest of PEERS echo her enthusiasm. After all passing the competitive application process to join and completing fall training, the group’s efforts landed them an invite to present their approach at a regional conference.

Espinosa’s not surprised. Aside from the group, she sees the student culture on campus as one that takes issues like this one head on. “It speaks to how our students recognize the importance of this issue for themselves and their peers,” she said, “and I think it speaks to the university’s leadership appreciating how important this issue is to the safety of our students and their academic success.”

With the nerves of her first workshop behind her, Franzen anticipates a lifetime beyond campus of making this issue central to her personal life. Other PEERS members plan to pursue law degrees and advocacy work, but she views the skills she’s gained from the group as valuable, no matter what the career.

“My goal, personally, is to incorporate this into my everyday life and make sure that people around me feel like I’m a safe space and confidential resource for them to talk to, just to carry that with me wherever I go,” she said.



Check out AU’s calendar of events for Sexual Assault Awareness Month.

Tags: Campus Life,Campus News,Office of Campus Life,Wellness,Wellness Center,Women's Initiative,Women's Issues,Women's Resource Center,School of International Service
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newsId: C86CD2AE-E917-E9DF-8EA2C2F60F5154F2
Title: Chemistry Professors Improve Furniture Smoldering Test
Author: Rebecca Basu
Subtitle:
Abstract: Results show that current test can severely underestimate smoldering-combustion propensity in real furniture
Topic: Research
Publication Date: 04/04/2014
Content:

American University chemistry researchers and scientists at the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) discovered a way to improve a test that gauges how well upholstered furniture can resist smoldering combustion to delay the possible onset of fire. The research results are available online in the scientific journal, Polymer Degradation and Stability.

In the United States, fires in which upholstered furniture is the first item ignited account for about 6,700 home fires annually and result in 480 deaths, according to the National Fire Protection Association. These fires can be started from an open-flame source, such as a candle, or from a smoldering source, such as a lit cigarette or incense.

In the smoldering test, two foam pieces about two-inches thick are covered with fabric and placed in a wooden frame to replicate a small-scale version of seat and back cushions. It mimics a scenario where furniture foam sits on a non-air-permeable substrate (e.g. the wooden frame). A cigarette (certified to burn consistently) is placed in the frame’s crevice. To pass the test, the lit cigarette should not cause sustained smoldering of the fabric or the underlying foam.

A More Realistic Smoldering Test

Household furniture typically includes open wooden frames and springs, which enhance air flow through foam and increase the propensity for smoldering.

The researchers changed the frame design to allow for air flow by including wire mesh to separate the foam pieces from the wooden frame. Their design better represented real furniture and provided a more realistic simulation of smoldering. In the process, they also identified foams that could be used for better smoldering consistency.  

“Our goal is to help regulators develop a more realistic smoldering test. Our results show that the current test can severely underestimate smoldering propensity in real furniture,” said Mauro Zammarano, research assistant professor of chemistry at American University and NIST researcher. “We recommend that regulators who administer the test consider creating gaps in the frame design to increase air flow.”

Modified Cellulose as “Green” Flame Retardant

The finding of the improved smoldering test came about as AU associate professor of chemistry Doug Fox, Zammarano, and their colleagues work to design non-toxic “green” flame retardants.

The team focuses on molecular chemistry research using ingredients from natural materials such as cellulose. Cellulose, the most abundant polymer on Earth, is an effective reinforcing fiber for polymer composites, but it is extremely flammable. Fox’s team modifies cellulose, often with phosphates or silicon-containing compounds. Modified cellulose acts as a flame retardant and a reinforcing phase, so that when blended with plastics, the fire resistance of the composite increases without weakening, as is often the case with other flame retardants.

Effective flame retardants in furniture delay time for ignition and the spread of flames, and the researchers envision a future where industry embraces green flame retardants. Currently, there are few options for affordable flame retardants that are effective, and the ones available are increasingly unpopular because of potential toxicity issues.

California Regulations Are Key

In recent years, scientific studies have linked exposure to flame retardant chemicals in furniture with negative health effects in people. Because of the concerns, last year lawmakers in California voted for a change to the state’s nearly 40-year-old flammability standards. Lawmakers ended the requirement for an open-flame test for filling materials in upholstered furniture. (The open-flame test, unlike the smoldering test, often required the use of flame retardants to pass.)

California’s regulations are key because many foam manufacturers follow them for the entire U.S market rather than make separate products for California. The end of the open-flame test, however, hasn’t meant all manufacturers have ended the use of flame retardants, which is why Fox’s group pushes on to create a green solution.

“While manufacturers are no longer required to use flame retardants, some in the furniture industry still place them in foam due to concerns over potential lawsuits, possible reinstatement of open flame tests, or to satisfy the needs of European or commercial products, which still require a level of flammability reduction,” Fox said.

High Profile Fires Show Value of Flame Retardants  

The role of flame retardants in fire safety is seen in recent, high-profile fires.

The 2003 fire that killed 100 people at The Station Night Club in Rhode Island started when pyrotechnics—part of the act of the headlining band Great White—ignited soundproofing material. When NIST scientists conducted an experiment using pyrotechnics to ignite soundproofing material containing flame retardants, the soundproofing material did not catch fire.

In the airline crash of Asiana flight 214 in July 2013 in San Francisco, people survived in part because flame retardants delayed the time it took for the plane to catch on fire, providing people minutes, not seconds, to escape, Fox added.  

While Fox and his team focus on creating green flame retardants used in furniture, the research could have wider industry applications. In addition to furniture, flame retardants are used in products that must meet flammability standards, including electronics, insulation and textiles. 

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newsId: A775946C-BE26-99F8-F3BCFAFAB8B5203E
Title: Juggling NBC, SOC All in A Day’s Work for Grad Student
Author: Adrienne Frank
Subtitle:
Abstract: Aspiring filmmaker juggles classes, career.
Topic: Student
Publication Date: 06/03/2009
Content:

Joe Bohannon grew up on environmental films.

“I would travel from Antarctica to outer space – all from my seat in the theater. I would get woozy from the aerial shots, but I also fell in love with film and filmmaking,” he recalls.

Now, as a grad student in the School of Communication (SOC), Bohannon, 41, is making his childhood dream a reality.

“This is the next chapter in my career evolution and my personal journey,” said the MFA student.

Bohannon works as an operations manager and producer for NBC News in Washington – a gig that not only informs his work in the classroom, but allows him the flexibility to juggle classes and extracurricular activities.

“I wanted to continue to work while I learned,” said Bohannon, who’s been with the network since 1993, covering everything from the Emmys to the White House. “I wanted to learn the theory, while still refining my skills. You can always learn how to light things or do audio a little better.”

The Fairfax, Va., resident has also honed his skills through SOC’s Center for Environmental Filmmaking (CEF). Along with CEF director Chris Palmer, Bohannon has shot a documentary on the Chesapeake River for Maryland Public TV; mingled with alligators in the Florida Everglades; and shot atop glaciers in the Alaskan wilderness.

“I experienced things I never would’ve imagined – things I couldn’t have learned just sitting in a classroom,” says Bohannon, who also traveled to five states to help a classmate shoot a documentary about parrots, A Place to Land. He served as director of cinematography and sound technician on the film, which won a Student Academy Award.

And while he says it’s tricky to juggle school and work – “it’s difficult to wear so many hats when you’re just one person” – Bohannon wouldn’t trade the experience for anything.

“Being able to go to untouched areas of the world to practice your craft is just amazing.”

Tags: Students,School of Communication,Center for Environmental Filmmaking,Film and Media Arts,American Today
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newsId: AA1092CC-B2AC-A672-86893E068F4707D1
Title: When Eagles beat the mighty Hoyas
Author: Mike Unger
Subtitle:
Abstract: Before he become an NBA coach, Ed Tapscott led the Eagles to a historic win over the Hoyas.
Topic: Alumni Profile
Publication Date: 02/24/2009
Content:

Before he was one of the 30 coaches at the pinnacle of professional basketball, Ed Tapscott '80 led AU to one of its biggest basketball wins.  

Tapscott, now  head coach of the NBA's Washington Wizards, was on the sideline 26 years ago when his unheralded Eagles shocked the college basketball world by taking down the mighty Georgetown Hoyas.  

Despite coming off back-to-back 20-win seasons, AU was a prohibitive underdog to a Georgetown team ranked fifth in the nation and stocked with future NBA all-stars. Those Hoyas teams didn't just beat their opponents, they scared them into submission. But AU refused to be intimidated.  

"We knew we could play with them," says Gordon Austin, who scored some huge buckets for AU that night. "Coach Tapscott treated it like it was a normal game. He made the point to respect them, but not to fear them. We started off playing very well, and they were not. They were playing right into our hands, shooting long jumpers—and we were getting all the rebounds."  

AU took a double-digit lead into the locker room, but Georgetown mounted an expected second-half comeback that AU scrambled to hold off. When the final buzzer sounded, the scoreboard read American 62, Georgetown 61. 

 "I was happy to see that clock wind down to zero, that's for sure," says Tapscott, who went on to a long and distinguished career as an NBA executive before taking over the Wizards head coaching job earlier this season. "It was a wonderful moment for our program. I think it gave us some sense of appreciation at AU that basketball could play a significant role on campus."

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newsId: 904CB299-B701-6AFB-82BEFC5174731C76
Title: Marine ghostbusters
Author: Sally Acharya
Subtitle:
Abstract: Biology professor provides solutions for marine debris.
Topic: Research
Publication Date: 02/19/2009
Content:

This is a ghost story that starts with a fishing net that gets loose from its moorings. It drifts in the ocean, entangling sea turtles, trapping seals, snagging fish that act as bait to lure other fish, which are trapped in their turn. Or maybe it damages a fragile coral reef.

Fortunately, that's not the end of the story. Science has its ghostbusters, and they're in pursuit of these derelict nets known as ghost nets, along with the wildlife-killing garbage dumped at sea by freighters and fishing fleets.

The ghostbusters are people like marine biologist and AU environmental science professor Kiho Kim, who goes after marine debris as a member of the Ocean Studies Board of the National Research Council. Their weapons are data, meetings, long hours analyzing research, and ultimately, a national report and testimony to Congress on the changes needed in marine policy and regulations.

The sight of marine debris is familiar to Kim, who spots it whenever he dives around the coral reefs that are the focus of his research. "Every time I go diving, I come back up with a pocket full of weights and lines," he says.

Some of it washes into the sea. A plastic bottle chucked into a clump of water weeds by a Georgetown fisherman can end up in a sea turtle's belly. "Plastic can lacerate intestines. Animals can choke, or their intestines can be blocked up so they can't eat any more," Kim says.

On weekend cleanups at a seemingly pristine Georgetown park he's led AU students to do what they can, in practical ways, to stop trash on the shoreline from washing into the seas.

 But the debris problem, particularly in the ocean, is too big to eliminate with weekend actions. That's why Kim and his colleagues have spent almost two years examining the situation and, in the end, proposing specific solutions.

The National Research Council is, in essence, the research arm of the federal government. Its Ocean Studies Board includes experts in a variety of areas, such as lawyers who looked at regulations, along with some leading marine biologists—including Kim.

The council's report called for the United States and the international maritime community to adopt a goal of zero discharge of waste, a goal that could be closer to reality thanks to a series of policy and regulation changes recommended by Kim and his colleagues.

And that could make a real impact in saving the seas from the specter of wildlife-killing debris.

Adapted from the article "Report to Congress: Tackling Marine Debris," American magazine, Winter/December 2008.

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newsId: 90250D3F-F30A-9C1A-890D7ADAF416E8A8
Title: Saving the Dead Sea in Israel
Author:
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Abstract: Gidon Bromberg is restoring an ecosystem with Jews, Christians, and Muslims.
Topic: International
Publication Date: 02/19/2009
Content:

 The Dead Sea is dying.

With each passing year the sea's depth drops by 1.2 meters, almost 4 feet, yet Gidon Bromberg refuses to consider its demise inevitable. His goal: the ecosystem will be restored, and it will be done by Jews, Christians, and Muslims working in concert.

In a part of the world with no shortage of problems, the environment often takes a back seat. It has a champion, however, in Bromberg, WCL/LLM '94. Working from a blueprint he developed at AU, he has devoted his life to restoring the Jordan River valley.

"There is no place on the planet similar to the Dead Sea," Bromberg says from his office in Tel Aviv, Israel, where he runs the organization EcoPeace. Stunningly beautiful, the Jordan valley has desert, mountains, green oases, and a heritage 12,000 years old. "For all three religions the river has a high importance, and yet we've completely destroyed it."

The sea's main water source is the Jordan River, today in a great state of peril. Littered with sewage, agricultural runoff, and pilfered of its water primarily for use in farming by Israel, Jordan, and Syria, the river's diversion is directly responsible for 70 percent of the Dead Sea's water level decline. The rest stems from mineral mining.

The Dead Sea was 80 kilometers long a half-century ago, about 50 miles. Today, it's only 31 miles long and shrinking fast.

Bromberg's Washington College of Law thesis on the environmental implications of the Middle East peace process intrigued many people around Washington, leading to a conference on the topic in Egypt and the founding of EcoPeace.

Today, its 38 staff members and hundreds of volunteers work in offices in Tel Aviv, Bethlehem in the Palestinian West Bank, and Amman, Jordan, lobbying governments to adopt environmentally favorable policies and trying to stimulate public awareness of the ecosystems at the grassroots level.

"He's committed to bringing Palestinians, Jordanians, and Israelis together to see how they can cooperate," says Nader Al-Khateeb, EcoPeace's Palestinian director. "He's a citizen of this region and cares for its future."

Like the obstacles to peace, the prospects of rejuvenating the Jordan River and the Dead Sea are daunting, yet Bromberg is convinced both can be achieved.

"The environment is a great impetus for peace building," he says. "What we do in our work is turn things around and look at how we could all benefit if we cooperate."

Adapted from the article "Saving the Dead Sea," American magazine, spring 2007.

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