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Title: #SPA80for80: Eric Eikenberg, SPA/BA ’98
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Abstract: As chief executive officer of the Everglades Foundation, Eric Eikenberg fights with a fervor often reserved for lobbyists and political operatives.
Topic: Alumni
Publication Date: 12/17/2014
Content:

Eric Eikenberg can’t understate the importance of the world around him.

As chief executive officer of the Everglades Foundation, Eikenberg fights with a fervor often reserved for lobbyists and political operatives. For those that know him, this is no surprise.

Long before heading the prolific environmental organization, he was playing baseball around the edges of the vast watershed. His high school alma mater, Marjory Stoneman Douglas High, was named after the prominent environmental folk hero and author of the influential book, The Everglades: River of Grass

When Eikenberg began his studies at AU, however, he was more interested in the lure of politics than the mire of environmentalism. In four years of undergraduate studies, he completed five internships—ranging from work at the Heritage Foundation think tank; to serving as a page at the Republican convention in San Diego in 1996; and even interning in the office of House Majority Leader Dick Armey.

Immediately following his graduation in 1998, Eikenberg returned to Florida to manage a state legislative campaign of a dear friend. That previous winter break, Eikenberg gained many of the skills necessary to run a political campaign when he took Profs. James Thurber and Candy Nelson’s intensive two-week course, the Campaign Management Institute. 

“All the consultants, all those experts came in during a condensed, intense period of time to explain the nuts and bolts of campaigning," says Eikenberg. "Being able to carry that out six months later in an actual state legislative race was exciting.” 

In 2000, Eikenberg ran another campaign for U.S. Rep. Clay Shaw, a man he would later serve as chief of staff until the Congressman’s departure from Congress in 2006. In 2012, after a stint as a federal and state lobbyist, hedge fund billionaire Paul Tudor Jones tapped him to lead the nonprofit Everglades Foundation. 

Jones praised Eikenberg from the outset. “He has a deep understanding of what it takes to achieve success both in Washington and Tallahassee and he has the leadership skills that will help the Foundation continue to be at the forefront of Everglades restoration.”

For one well-versed in the high-octane sport of politics, environmentalism has brought on a new set of challenges. Rehabilitation efforts are often hindered in bureaucratic delay and inaction. Restoration of the Everglades is no exception, especially since it carries the largest price tag of any environmental project in history. Eikenberg, however, knows the stakes of this battle, and is prepared to fight for it.

“Water is the new oil. The minute you lose control of it, you’re finished.”

#MySPAHistory

“I often look back fondly on my time at AU. The belief that public service is an admirable profession was solidified during my course work in the School of Public Affairs. The knowledge gained, inspired me to experience first hand public policy and politics through multiple Capitol Hill internships during my four, memorable years at AU.”

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Title: #SPA80for80: Joe Vidulich, SPA/BA ’08
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Abstract: A 2008 graduate of the School of Public Affairs, Joe Vidulich maintains strong ties to the AU community as an advocate for alumni and students alike through the Alumni Board.
Topic: Alumni
Publication Date: 12/17/2014
Content:

Joe Vidulich embodies Eagle pride.

A 2008 graduate of the School of Public Affairs, Vidulich maintains strong ties to the AU community as an advocate for alumni and students alike through the Alumni Board.

"I joined the Alumni Board because I want to make sure the AU alumni experience is just as good as – if not better than – the student experience, and show alumni that their time at AU doesn't end after when they receive their diploma,” he said.

Recognizing the need to build a support system for student veterans, Vidulich helped shepherd a financial gift from D.C. area freemason’s to established a graduate position to research best practices to support veterans in higher education.

Vidulich serves as the vice president of government relations for the Fairfax County Chamber of Commerce, which represents over 500,000 employees in Northern Virginia. He leads the chamber’s efforts to advocate for pro-business policies in a number of key industries, including transportation, healthcare, and public-private partnerships. Building on his experiences as student body president, and an alumnus of SPA’s Campaign Management Institute and Public Affairs and Advocacy Institute, Vidulich educates lawmakers and public officials on the importance of a robust business community.

“SPA taught me how to be an advocate for the causes I care about,” said Vidulich. “The School of Public Affairs provides for its students the tools necessary to be successful in your professional life.”

Another former student body president, Patrick Kelly, praised his predecessor. “There are very few individuals more selfless than Joe. American was made better by Joe when he was an undergrad and he continues to only do the same now as an alumnus.”

#MySPAHistory

"I fell in love with the campus and the spirit of the community. I saw that SPA really believed that given the tools and the knowledge, you can change the world. Every day, I use the skills taught to me by SPA’s faculty, some of the best experts in their fields, to advocate and shape policy to make a better Virginia for my companies and the people who work for those companies."

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Title: Spotlight on the International Development Program
Author: Antoaneta Tileva
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Abstract: Spotlight on the International Development Program
Topic: International
Publication Date: 12/17/2014
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The International Development Program (IDP) at American University is one of the best established development programs in the United States. For over 35 years, it has trained students to participate effectively in driving socio-economic, political, and environmental change throughout the world. The program's primary focus is the improvement of opportunities for the world's poor and disenfranchised. It has one of the largest concentrations of faculty both teaching and researching international development, and has approximately 1200 alumni in development-related positions around the world. We asked Vidya Samarasinghe, director of the ID program, to tell us more.

What is the core vision/mission of the International Development program?

The International Development (ID) program at SIS is one of the best-established programs of international development in the United States. It has one of the largest concentrations of faculty both teaching and researching international development, and has approximately 1,200 alumni in development-related positions across the globe. 

The primary goal of the program is to train students to understand and improve the opportunities of the world’s poor and disenfranchised. The core focus of the curriculum is to train students to alleviate poverty and global inequality. The International Development program emphasizes that development is a problem of values and politics as well as technical issues.  

How is the program unique? 

The International Development program draws upon a multitude of academic disciplines and combines scholarly input with practical application in order to produce a curriculum that makes our students uniquely competent to work in field-oriented settings, as well as in organizations and government institutions. A unique feature of the curriculum is to produce scholar-practitioners of international development. This is facilitated by our faculty members, who bring to the classroom their scholarly research and field work experience from different parts of the Global South. The grounded nature of the curriculum showcases the significant people-oriented feature of the program. The ID program offers a set of core courses and a variety of elective courses and concentrations that would fit the interests of varied cohorts of students and prepare them for professional careers.

The International Development program also has an affiliated program called the Development Management (DM) program. The focus of the curriculum in DM is to train students in management of international development initiatives.  

What are things your program does to further your students professionally? 

In common with other master’s level programs at SIS, the ID program is a professional program. We emphasize skills that enable students to be highly competitive in the job market. The curriculum includes particular skills institutes that are taught by professionals in the field. The students in the International Development program may choose among four capstone options, which include the substantial research paper (SRP), the applied substantial research paper, an MA thesis, or school-wide practica, where students work as a team with clients in selected organizations to produce evaluations, research, and policy papers. The DM curriculum incorporates a management practicum for students enrolled in the program.  

Describe the students in your program.  

The ID program has more than one hundred graduate students in any given year. The typical student would have at least two years of work experience after college. The program attracts both U.S . students and international students. Among the U.S. students, the program attracts a significant number of returned Peace Corps and AmeriCorps volunteers. We welcome international students from across the globe. Our cohort of students brings to the classroom a unique blend of diverse experiences and interests. One of the most significant aspects of the ID student body is the International Development Program Student Association (IDPSA). The association organizes the highly popular Friday Forums, where panels on important development topics are discussed. The IDPSA has a mentorship program for the first year cohort and also organizes other events.  

Tell us about your own research and areas of expertise. 

My research is focused on gender and development, and international migration and development. I have done fieldwork-based research in South Asia, particularly in Nepal, Sri Lanka, and Cambodia in South East Asia, and the Philippines and Japan in East Asia. My research is focused on women’s work, politics, migration, and the supply and demand side of female sex trafficking.  

Learn more about the International Development program.

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Title: AU 2030: Benjamin Stokes
Author: Gregg Sangillo
Subtitle:
Abstract: Incoming SOC professor looks for civic engagement through games.
Topic: Research
Publication Date: 12/17/2014
Content:

*This is part of an ongoing series that focuses on the AU 2030 project. American University has invested significant resources in key subject areas that cut across schools and departments. This includes two subjects covered below: persuasive gaming and urban studies.

People often talk about how technology is an isolating force in modern life. Why sit in a crowded multiplex theater with other people when you can stream the movie alone on your iPad at home? But through his research, incoming American University School of Communication professor Benjamin Stokes has found ways that new technology and civic engagement can feed off each other. In fact, mobile technology and games can strengthen communities and play an integral role in urban revitalization.

"The intersection around civic media that is partly online and partly face-to-face is really exciting," Stokes said in an interview earlier this year.

The Human Side

If you're going to meet a friend at a neighborhood restaurant, you could obviously use Google Maps on your phone to locate the address. Yet with new kinds of games, community engagement through technology can become even more sophisticated and beneficial. And Stokes has found that the intersection of digital and human worlds often breeds the most productivity.

"The technology makes it possible with phones. We're bringing the Internet back into the physical world. And it's not just 'anywhere, anytime,' which was kind of the early model of mobile media," he explained. "I think actually the most powerful stuff with civics is resisting that, and saying it's 'somewhere, sometime.'"

Games can be effectively designed to incorporate real-life experiences, he said. "The current moment with games is that increasingly the design is shifting toward the human side, and the hard challenge is thinking about how it works with people in their everyday lives," he said.

Faculty Forum

In November, Stokes expanded on some of these ideas in a Faculty Research and Projects Forum at the School of Communication. It's critically important to focus on the distinct needs of certain local economies, he said. Yet digital games launched online are often universal, failing to address specific neighborhood challenges.

He singled out a game called Macon Money, which took place during a fixed time period in 2010-2011 in Macon, Georgia. The game involved bonds that were worth real money at local businesses. "They wanted to target businesses that were in the community that had been there for a while," he said.

Each participant got half a bond and had to find a matching person who possessed the other half. "[It] was very strategic in deliberately giving some of the bonds to one zip code, and giving a different set of the matching bonds to another [zip code], so therefore encouraging a cross-pollination across some of those socio-economic lines," he said, which included college students and residents who lived downtown.

"Sixty-three percent of the people who matched said they were very unlikely to have met the person otherwise. Even though Macon isn't a huge city, it's still bringing people together who wouldn't have otherwise connected," Stokes said.

Macon Money promotional video:

He added that during the game, some interactions moved from a physical space to an online Facebook forum. "There's an ecology that brings people together that's not purely digital or purely physical. And in fact it's the ability to go back and forth across these spaces that makes for a successful game and project."

Marching to His Own Beat

A theme surfaces when listening to Stokes. These days, we're not strictly online or offline most of the time. With mobile technology, we reside somewhere in between.

Stokes's background also defies easy characterization. He was born in Montana and grew up in Ashland, Oregon. To some extent, he was a traditional gamer like his friends. But he also took an interest in design around learning systems, and in high school he built online virtual field trips for kids. "I worked with an elementary school to have them map their neighborhood," he recalled.

He earned his undergraduate degree in physics from Haverford College. But he also dabbled in music: While studying abroad in Senegal, he played the djembe drum—and he remains a big fan of West African music today.

Before getting into academia, he co-founded Games for Change and served as a program officer at the MacArthur Foundation. He eventually earned his Ph.D. from University of Southern California, and he's now working on a post-doc at University of California, Berkeley.

He'll start at AU's School of Communication in the fall of 2015. He's a civic media research fellow in the Center for Media & Social Impact, and he'll be part of the AU Game Lab. Similar to other faculty members with the Game Lab, he believes in the power of games to enact meaningful change.

When people donate money or volunteer, they frequently don't see the results of their efforts, he said. "Games are all about giving people pretty immediate feedback about how their actions had an impact."

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Title: #SPA80for80: Valerie Merahn Simon, SPA/BA ’94
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Abstract: CLEG major and participant in the inaugural SPA Dean's Leadership program, Valerie Merahn Simon was exposed to career options at SPA that she had never considered before.
Topic: Alumni
Publication Date: 12/16/2014
Content:

Valerie Merahn Simon arrived at American University intending to pursue a career in law. Her decision to major in Interdisciplinary Studies (Communications, Law, Economics and Government) and her participation in the inaugural class of the SPA Dean’s Leadership program expanded her skill sets and exposed Simon to career options she had never before considered.

Following her passion for public affairs and policy, Simon began working in the National Press Building for a media monitoring service, tracking and analyzing the news. Over the course of the next 10 years, she rose to become senior vice president of BurrellesLuce and a member of the 126-year-old company’s executive committee.

Simon currently leads the in-house advertising agency at Plymouth Rock Assurance where she is responsible for all marketing communications, brand management, advertising, market research, public relations, content marketing, video production and events. Under her leadership, the team has achieved a GUINNESS WORLD RECORDS® title for the Most Pledges to a Safety Campaign as part of company’s efforts to stop distracted driving, A Telly Award and 5 MarCom awards.

“I am particularly grateful for the mentors who offered me guidance during my time at AU, including President Kerwin, who was then dean of SPA, and Bill Sweeney, a founder and director of the Campaign Management Institute at American University,” said Simon.

Their influence inspired her to continue the tradition of mentoring students. In 2009, Simon became the co-founder of #PRStudChat, a dynamic community of public relations professionals, educators and students who share a common goal; to leverage social media in a meaningful way that will help bridge the gap between the academic and professional environments. The trending Twitter chat recently celebrated a 5th anniversary, and has included professors and students from universities around the globe, as well as industry professionals such as Wikipedia founder Jimmy Wales, former Kodak CMO Jeffrey Hayzlett, and digital leader Brian Solis.

#MySPAHistory

“As a CLEG major, my economics courses helped me to develop an appreciation for data and analysis and gave me confidence in areas I had never before embraced. My communications courses honed my abilities to use that data and analysis to create and share powerful stories. Beyond the development of skill sets, the School of Public Affairs instilled in me a commitment to service, an enthusiasm for learning and the certainty that I can, and will, make a difference.”

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Title: #SPA80for80: Dr. John Boyer, SPA/PhD ’89
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Abstract: After nearly 40 years of experience in healthcare, in both public and private sectors, Dr. John Boyer continues to look fondly on his experiences at SPA.
Topic: Alumni
Publication Date: 12/16/2014
Content:

After nearly 40 years of experience in healthcare, in both clinical and administrative settings, and in both public and private sectors, Dr. John Boyer continues to look fondly on his experiences at the School of Public Affairs. Indeed, he credits SPA with giving him the tools necessary to succeed in his professional life.

“I was able to immediately put so many of the skills and approaches to work, and bring the literature to bear on my day-to-day job,” says Boyer.

Boyer graduated from SPA in 1989, earning a PhD in public administration and public policy. Since that time, he has continued to stay in touch with his dissertation committee members, Neil Kerwin, James Thurber, and Laura Langbein. As a longstanding member of the SPA Dean’s Advisory Council, he also keeps connected with the university and other faculty such as Barbara Romzek and Bill LeoGrande.

Today, Boyer continues using the skills and knowledge earned at SPA. Since 1995, he has worked at MAXIMUS, a leading international provider of business services to government agencies in the areas of health care, child welfare, employment and education. A publicly traded company (NYSE: MMS), MAXIMUS is comprised of more than 13,000 employees worldwide, and assists individuals, children and families lead happier, healthier lives. During his tenure with the firm Boyer has led the Health Services practice, founded the MAXIMUS Center for Health Literacy, and established MAXIMUS Federal Services, a wholly owned subsidiary, where he served as Chairman of the Board of Directors for nine years.

Boyer now leads the MAXIMUS Charitable Foundation which, twice each year, awards cash grants to organizations across the nation that promote personal growth and community development. He is also the vice chair of the advisory board of Health eVillages, a non-profit organization that assists healthcare professionals practicing medicine in the world’s most challenging clinical environments by providing them with the latest in mobile healthcare technology. He is the treasurer and a member of the board of directors of the Parkinson Foundation of the National Capital Area, and he serves on the leadership council of The Robert F. Kennedy Center for Justice and Human Rights, which last year awarded him their coveted Ripple of Hope Award.

Before joining MAXIMUS, Boyer worked in the Pentagon for six years as director, Health Services Financing Policy in the Office of the Assistant Secretary of Defense (Health Affairs). He also served on active duty in the U.S. Navy Medical Department for twenty-four years, in many clinical and administrative positions.

In addition to his doctoral degree from AU, he holds a master’s degree in management from the Naval Postgraduate School, a master’s degree in nursing from New York Medical College, and a bachelor’s degree in mathematics education from Illinois State University.

Looking back on his first degree, Dr. Boyer laughs, “Now how many times have I really needed differential equations?”

#MySPAHistory

“My education at AU was one of the best. In my later life—the career paths I chose—the AU experience was truly helpful. The School of Public Affairs truly enabled me to do a much better job in my work life.”

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Title: Nuclear Studies Institute: Teaching for Peace
Author: Alyssa Röhricht
Subtitle:
Abstract: Historian Peter Kuznick, Nuclear Studies Institute director, mines the past to provoke dialogue.
Topic: Humanities
Publication Date: 12/15/2014
Content:

For the past 25 years, history professor Peter Kuznick has been focusing on a topic that most people would rather not touch: nuclear war. 

“One of the sad things for me,” he says, “is that nobody talks about nuclear history in the United States, and students don’t really learn about it.” 

This is mainly what prompted Kuznick to found the Nuclear Studies Institute at AU in 1995—50 years after the bombing of Hiroshima and Nagasaki. Its mission is to educate the public about the history of nuclear weapons and the nuclear arms race. 

Kuznick was also inspired by AU alumna Akiko Naono, whose grandfather was killed in the Hiroshima bombing. During the institute’s inaugural summer, he worked with Naono and fellow history professor Valerie French to host an exhibition of artifacts from Hiroshima and Nagasaki, the first such exhibit outside of Japan. Officials in the two cities were eager to find an alternative venue after the Smithsonian Institution cancelled its planned Enola Gay exhibit under political pressure from Congress and veterans groups. 

The AU exhibit, which included personal objects, like the lunchbox of an 11-year-old girl who was vaporized in the bombing, endeavored "to grapple honestly with the moral and military implications of the atomic bombings, including the fact that they knowingly opened the door to potentially ending all life on the planet," says Kuznick. 

Since that first summer, Kuznick, who directs the institute, has led AU students on an annual study-abroad trip to Kyoto, Hiroshima, and Nagasaki, during which they live, travel, and study with students and professors from two Japanese universities. The educational and cultural exchange is often a deeply emotional and sometimes life changing experience for students. 

This past summer,there was the added element of celebrity,when Academy Award-winning director Oliver Stone, Kuznick's collaborator on the New York Times best-selling book and 12-part Show-time television series The Untold History of the United States, joined the trip. 

"In Japan, we are looked upon as America's peace university," Kuznick explains. 

AU was selected to serve as the center of next year's events in the United States commemorating the 70th anniversary of the bombings. The American University Museum at the Katzen Arts Center will display 6 of the 15 renowned Hiroshima Panels, a series of large murals by internationally acclaimed artists Iri and Toshi Maruki. 

The works, which have not been shown in this country for decades, depict the suffering of the bombing victims. Kuznick likens them to Pablo Picasso's painting Guernica and describes the figures depicted in the murals as "ghosts walking through hell." 

While the murals are controversial and haunting, says Kuznick, they provide a springboard to get people talking about our history—the bad as well as the good. 

"This is essential. Countries have to face their historical responsibility, and educating the public about our past is the first step."

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Title: Three JoLT Fellows Named at American University
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Abstract: AU Game Lab students will help define and develop disruptive leadership in media and journalism.
Topic: Communications
Publication Date: 12/15/2014
Content:

Exploring Game Design and Systems Thinking as a Path to Disruptive Media Leadership

Three fellows have been named to the inaugural JoLT program cohort at the American University School of Communication, bringing a range of digital, journalism and academic skills to the innovative initiative.

In announcing the fellows, Dean Jeff Rutenbeck pointed to their unique mix of creative, entrepreneurial and broadcast backgrounds, which he called ideal for the program funded with a $250,000 grant from the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation.

The JoLT initiative, launching in January 2015, is aimed at defining disruptive leadership in media and journalism as graduate students study the fields through the lens of game design theory and systems thinking.

The collaboration builds on the university’s new Master’s of Game Design, kicked off in 2014 as a joint program of the SOC and the College of Arts and Sciences.

The fellows, Kelli Dunlap a Psy.D with a focus on mental health and game research, Joyce Rice, an interactive illustrator and storyteller, and Cherisse Datu, most recently of Al Jazeera English, have been awarded full fellowships to the MA in Game Design while they explore journalism and media leadership.

AU Game Lab Director Lindsay Grace says he was thrilled “by the high caliber, deep curiosity and broad diversity of all the applicants. The fact that the three selected fellows are women is wonderful. It continues to demonstrate the momentum of our programming. The fellows reflect the character of the American University Game Lab - interdisciplinary, creative, socially engaged and well-versed in games.“

Meet the Fellows

Kelli Dunlap, who holds a doctorate in clinical psychology with a focus on technology and mental health, is active in the gamer community. JoLT leadership was impressed with her commitment to explore psychological and social change through games, and with her academic roots in the persuasive play community. She has been published in the Games for Health journal for her work at the Washington, D.C., Veterans Affairs hospital and was awarded a $10,000 scholarship for her work in gaming and mental health.

In her role as lead video editor for Al Jazeera English’s social media program, The Stream, Cherisse Datu has seen traditional broadcast news change and innovate within the span of a few years. Datu’s industry perspective and experience working across media platforms earned her a spot in the final three. She was attracted to JoLT by her life-long love of games and desire to use media to drive change and engage users.

Joyce Rice is an expert illustrator and interactive designer who specializes in sequential storytelling, interactive content, and publication design. She's the cofounder and Creative Director of Symbolia, a media organization that crafts intriguing narratives that merge illustration and interactivity with top-notch journalism. In addition to publishing a bimonthly digital magazine, Symbolia works with a variety of media partners including American Public Media and the L.A. News Group. Rice’s passion for experimental storytelling and desire to explore the intersection of games and news media made her a top pick of academic leaders.

Rutenbeck says he believes the mix of professional backgrounds will benefit the program. “Each is impressive in her own right, and as a group, they will act as a catalyst to both shape and advance the goals of JoLT.”

The three funded Fellows simultaneously will earn a Master’s of Art in Game Design while working to reorganize the way media are communicated, analyzed and produced from a leadership perspective. This includes participating in two D.C.- based summits, the American University Game Lab and a host of forward-thinking iterations on leading change in media engagement.

In addition, the School of Communication will soon name three professional fellows who will take part while working to drive change within their organizations. Those fellows are expected to be named in the near future.

About the American University School of Communication

The School of Communication at AU is among the nation’s top communication schools, with researchers, students and programs focusing on the intersection of media, technology and society. Located in the nation’s capital, American University is a leader in global education, enrolling a diverse student body from throughout the United States and 140 countries.

About the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation

Knight Foundation supports transformational ideas that promote quality journalism, advance media innovation, engage communities and foster the arts. The foundation believes that democracy thrives when people and communities are informed and engaged. For more, visit www.knightfoundation.org.

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Title: #SPA80for80: Mike Panetta, SPA/BA ’93 and SPA/MA ’94
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Abstract: Mike Panetta is an award-winning public affairs campaign strategist who specializes in using digital and social media for creative issue advocacy and grassroots activism.
Topic: Alumni
Publication Date: 12/15/2014
Content:

Mike Panetta is an award-winning public affairs campaign strategist who specializes in using digital and social media for creative issue advocacy and grassroots activism.

As a founding partner of Beekeeper Group, he provides strategic direction to the firm's overall growth and development and leads a number of the firm’s non- profit, trade association, and political clients. Mike also directs Beekeeper Group's embrace of mobile communications through the development of its Lobby Day mobile app. His work has been recognized with top honors from the American Association of Political Consultants, the Public Affairs Council, and George Washington University’s Institute for Politics, Democracy and the Internet.

In November 2006, Panetta was elected to Washington, DC’s city-wide position of U.S. “Shadow” Representative, and served in this role for 3 terms until January 2013. Panetta continues to be a leading voice in the fight for District of Columbia statehood and voting representation in the U.S. Congress.

Panetta graduated from AU’s School of Public Affairs in 1993 with a BA in political science, and earned his MA in political science in 1994.

#MySPAHistory

“I was always impressed with how SPA combined traditional academics with real world experiences in public affairs. As students we had amazing exposure to thought leaders and experiences on both the 'political' and 'science' sides of American government.”

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Title: #SPA80for80: Julian Bond
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Abstract: Julian Bond brings to SPA a proud history as a leader in the civil rights movement, a voice for social activism, and a facilitator of peace movements all across the country.
Topic: On Campus
Publication Date: 12/15/2014
Content:

Julian Bond brings to the School of Public Affairs a proud history as a leader in the civil rights movement, a voice for social activism, and a facilitator of peace movements all across the country.

He was an early advocate of marriage equality. His most recent arrest was at the White House in opposition to the Keystone Pipeline.

Bond joined SPA in the 1990’s as a distinguished adjunct professor of government. His classes—an honors course focusing on the oral history of the civil rights movement, and an advanced study of the politics of civil rights—are continuously filled with students excited to learn from an historic icon. 

He frequently engages with students outside of the classroom as well. Last autumn, for example, he joined National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP) CEO Benjamin Jealous for a University Honors Program “Tea Talk” to discuss the evolution of race relations in the United States. When one student compared Jealous to rock star Bono, Jealous responded, “If I’m Bono, then professor Bond is John Lennon.”

Bond’s involvement with the NAACP began in Atlanta, where he served as local branch president. He was elected chair of the NAACP’s national board in 1998, a position that he held until 2010. 

A commitment to public service and championing civil rights began early in Bond’s college career. As a student at Morehouse College, he helped found the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee (SNCC) and soon became its communications director. He served 20 years in the Georgia House and Georgia Senate, drafting more than 60 bills that became law. In 1968 he became the first African American nominated as Vice President of the United States by a major party before voluntarily withdrawing his name from the ballot because he was too young to potentially serve as president.

He has earned a wealth of accolades and written extensively throughout his career. Time magazine named him one of America’s top 200 leaders. The Library of Congress named him a living legend. Bond has hosted America’s Black Forum, Saturday Night Live and has narrated numerous documentaries, including the award-winning Eyes on the Prize series. He has commentated on NBC’s Today Show and was the author of Viewpoint, a nationally syndicated newspaper column. A collection of his essays is published under the title A Time to Speak, A Time to Act. Other poems and articles have appeared in several publications, including The Nation, Life, and New York Times.

#MySPAHistory

“After teaching at many fine schools, the students I am closest to are those I met and taught at SPA. We have developed lasting and continuing relationships.”

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Title: AU Game Lab Presents Pop-Up Video Game Arcade at Smithsonian
Author: Patty Housman
Subtitle:
Abstract: More than 4,000 people attend pop-up indie event.
Topic: In the Community
Publication Date: 12/15/2014
Content:

There was something for everyone at Indies in the Middle at the Smithsonian American Art Museum on December 7. The event transformed the museum’s atrium into a one-day pop-up indie arcade, filled with video games of all kinds. 

More than 4,000 people of all ages stopped by to play new indie games, classic arcade games, educational games, shoot ’em up games, games for social change, virtual board games, and even meditative Zen games. 

“Visitors learned that games are more than Super Mario Brothers, Halo, and Call of Duty,” said Lindsay Grace, director of the AU Game Lab and Studio and associate professor at the School of Communications. “They experienced games that experiment with emotion, affection, storytelling, history, politics, and more. The indie games we selected helped to open people’s eyes to the wide variety of games being made today.”  

 

The Indies in the Middle and the AU Game Lab and Studio 

Four organizations worked together to produce the indie arcade: the American University Game Lab, a joint venture between the College of Arts and Sciences and the School of Communication; the International Game Developer's Association (IGDA); gaming festival organizer MAGFest; and the Smithsonian American Art Museum.  

AU’s prominent role in the event demonstrates the strong growth of the AU Game Lab, said Grace. “In just 15 months, the Game Lab went from an idea on paper to a key collaborator in one of the Smithsonian American Art Museum’s most successful games events. Thanks to AU’s institutional support, the Game Lab has become a central resource in developing the games community in the DC metro area and beyond.”  

The arcade focused primarily on video games created in the mid-Atlantic area. Independent game developers from DC, Baltimore, and Philadelphia brought some of the most cutting-edge examples of their newest and most exciting work. Participants got to meet the developers, play lots of games, and even learn how to create their own games. 

"We wanted to bring attention to indie games in our region and give the public an opportunity to meet game developers in person," said Chris Totten, AU Game Lab's artist-in-residence and chair of the Washington, DC, IGDA chapter. 

“When I was growing up, games seemed to be made by mystery guys who lived far away,” Totten explained. “This is no longer true, and we want the general public to meet real, local people just like them who make games. We want them to know that they can make games too—and that they can express themselves through games they create.”  

 

Old Games, New Games, and Classes 

One of the surprises of the pop-up arcade was the wide diversity of the games created in the mid-Atlantic region. Highlights included Alum, a point-and click narrative adventure game; Dr. SpaceZoo, which lets players save animals from aliens; Lord and Ladies, an indie-produced virtual board game; Let There Be Life, a meditative game with hand-painted watercolor artwork; and, Flutterbombs, which gives users a virtual reality helmet and lets them shoot through the sky as a butterfly.  

The AU Game Lab presented several games of their own. Totten shared Dead Man’s Trail, described by gaming review website VGW as “a truly innovative approach to the zombie apocalypse by combining Oregon Trail-inspired travel gameplay with Diablo-style dungeon crawling.” Arcade participants also lined up to play Grace’s Big Huggin’ game, which challenged users to hug a giant teddy bear to help the on-screen bear get past various obstacles. 

Totten and Grace said that the arcade showed the public that video games aren’t just for entertainment anymore. Many are educational, and they can change the way people think about social and political movements and events. “Participants played social impact games, designed to change the way we understand topics as diverse as immigration or the culture of native Alaskans,” said Grace.  

At the same time, participants could play plenty of classic arcade games like Asteroids, Pac-Man, Tron, Star Wars, Donkey Kong, Nintendo’s Duck Hunt, and more. Also throughout the day, the Hirshhorn Museum’s ArtLab+ presented workshops for children and adults on making their own simple video games and 3D characters.

 

Video Games: A Growing Part of American Culture 

This is not the first time that video games have been featured at the Smithsonian American Art Museum. The indie arcade follows the success of the museum’s 2012 Art of Video Games exhibition. The exhibit, which celebrated video games as an art form, broke attendance records and is still traveling to other museums across the nation.  

The Smithsonian first approached Totten and the AU Game Lab to help in developing educational programming for its current Watch This! New Directions in the Art of the Moving Image exhibition, which features multimedia digital art. From there, the idea for a pop-up arcade grew into reality, as Totten worked to get the mid-Atlantic IGDA chapters involved. 

“The support by the Smithsonian American Art Museum demonstrates an institutional acceptance of the creative efforts in game-making as art,” said Grace. “Games are being recognized as more than mere entertainment, but as an expressive, culturally relevant medium. Games, in all their forms, are overcoming the same hurdles as other popular forms of media. Like various forms of music (e.g. rock, rap, or techno), games are emerging from the niche of geek culture to integral elements of everyday life.” 

 

The Future: More Pop-Ups, More Collaboration 

Totten said that the arcade’s success laid the groundwork for future collaborations with the Smithsonian and other museums. Grace added that the Game Lab is already thinking about planning a similar event for 2015. “Visitors can expect more of what made this year great, and some new elements that provide a national perspective on the creative efforts of game makers across the nation.”

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Title: #SPA80for80: Professor Taryn Morrissey
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Abstract: Taryn Morrissey, assistant professor at the School of Public Affairs, works to examine and improve public policies for vulnerable children.
Topic: On Campus
Publication Date: 12/15/2014
Content:

Taryn Morrissey, assistant professor at the School of Public Affairs, works to examine and improve public policies for vulnerable children.

From January 2013 to August 2014, she served as senior advisor to the deputy assistant secretary for human services policy in the Office of the Assistant Secretary for Planning and Evaluation (ASPE) at the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS). While at HHS, Morrissey helped to craft and implement the President’s Early Learning and Ladders-to-Opportunity Initiatives, strengthening and expanding early education and anti-poverty programs.

Back on campus, Morrissey recently led a group of AU researchers in a study of the relationship between high food prices for fresh fruits and vegetables and elevated Body Mass Index (BMI) levels in young children in low- and middle-income households.

“There is a small, but significant, association between the prices of fruit and vegetables and higher child BMI,” Morrissey said about the research, which was published in the journal Pediatrics in February 2014.

In 2011, Morrissey and colleagues from the University of Chicago and Cornell University released a study on associations between childhood obesity and mothers’ work schedules that raised international media interests and concerns.

She saw the results as an opportunity to understand the underlying issue of work-family balance. “Parents face constraints of long work hours, varying schedules, and family demands that make food shopping, meal preparation, and other activities difficult,” she explained. “If we can shed light on these constraints and the many factors that contribute to child BMI, we can help parents balance work and family demands and promote healthy weight among their children.”

Morrissey earned a PhD in developmental psychology from Cornell University in 2008, with a minor in social and health systems planning. She was a 2008-2009 American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS)/Society for Research in Child Development (SRCD) Congressional Fellow, and was subsequently hired as a health policy advisor on the staff of the U.S. Senate Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions (HELP) Committee, first for Sen. Edward Kennedy and then for Sen. Tom Harkin, where she helped craft the Affordable Care Act (ACA).

#MySPAHistory

“One of the many virtues of an SPA education is that the school truly values real-world policy and administrative experience among its faculty and students—and produces students who go on to make meaningful impacts.”

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Title: Greetings from Chip Griffin
Author:
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Abstract: Greetings from Chip Griffin
Topic: Alumni
Publication Date: 12/12/2014
Content:

All good things must come to an end. This month marks the end of my two years of service as AU Alumni Board President -- so this will be my last message to my 120,000 fellow Eagles around the world.

I have enjoyed my time working with other volunteers, as well as the faculty, staff, and leadership of our university. I'm proud of the success that our graduates have when they leave campus and start or continue their careers. I'm proud of the contributions that our alumni make to support the education of the current generation of students -- and how those students thank those donors in return.

But I'm perhaps most proud of the time and effort that so many alumni volunteers put in to helping the AU community continue to grow and prosper. During my time as AUAB President, I have had the pleasure of meeting and working alongside volunteers from diverse backgrounds, spanning the full-breadth of AU's academic programs. 

I'm pleased to say that I will be leaving you in great hands. Andrea Agathoklis Murino, SPA-CAS/BA '98, served as vice president of the AUAB for the past two years and is one of the most dedicated, enthusiastic Eagles that I know. Among other places, you'll find her at many AU basketball games -- including some on the road! She will provide excellent leadership for the alumni community.

Although my service as AUAB President is coming to a close, I look forward to remaining an active volunteer and supporter of American University. And I'm sure I will continue to see many of you at events on campus and off.

- Chip
Tags: Alumni,Alumni Board,Alumni Newsletter,Alumni Relations,Alumni Update
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Title: CEP Now Accepting Nominations for William K. Reilly Awards for Environmental Leadership
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Abstract: Two awards will be given—one for an individual in government (local, state, tribal or federal) and the other for an individual in the non-profit or business sector.
Topic: Environment
Publication Date: 12/12/2014
Content:

The Center for Environmental Policy at American University’s School of Public Affairs is seeking nominations for the William K. Reilly Awards for Environmental Leadership.

The second annual Reilly Awards, named in honor of one of the most respected leaders in U.S. environmental policy, will be given at a ceremony during Earth Week in April at American University in Washington, D.C.

“The Center for Environmental Policy is focused on improving environmental governance in the United States and finding innovative approaches to the most pressing environmental challenges,” said executive director Dan Fiorino. “We want to recognize people who are making a difference to improve environmental outcomes.”

Nominations for the awards can be submitted here by January 31, 2015.

The Reilly Awards recognize the accomplishments of outstanding environmental leaders who have demonstrated innovation and effective problem-solving while engaging diverse interests and encouraging future environmental leaders.

Two Reilly Awards will be given—one for an individual in government (local, state, tribal or federal) and the other for an individual in the non-profit or business sectors. The nominations will be evaluated against the following criteria:

  • Provided effective leadership over a sustained period of time in environmental, energy, or sustainability issues in the United States;
  • Contributed to innovations in environmental solutions or new approaches to environmental, natural resources or energy policy;
  • Demonstrated the ability to engage and inspire others in achieving significant results;
  • Worked across the public, private, and non-profit sectors to solve problems in an inclusive and bi-partisan manner; and
  • Inspired or mentored early-career professionals.

Reilly was Administrator of the Environmental Protection Agency under President George H. W. Bush. In 2010, he was appointed by President Barack Obama as co-chair of the National Commission on the BP Deepwater Horizon Oil Spill and Offshore Drilling to investigate the oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico. 

Decisions about the awards will be made by a subcommittee of the Program Advisory Board of the Center for Environmental Policy.

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Title: Maryland Delegate & AU Alumna Visits Campus CLASE
Author: Vanessa Moyonero
Subtitle:
Abstract: Ana Sol Gutierrez addressed AU students’ & housekeeping staffs’ monthly cultural exchange.
Topic: On Campus
Publication Date: 12/12/2014
Content:

On December 3, AU students and campus housekeeping staff gathered in the basement of the Kay Spiritual Life Center for their monthly meeting of CLASE—a student-led program that pairs the two groups in linguistic and cultural exchange. This particular meeting, however, featured a special guest: Maryland State House delegate Ana Sol Gutierrez.

Addressing the small crowd, Gutierrez asked, “Who else is from El Salvador?” All but one of the campus cleaning staff in attendance raised their hands.

Gutierrez first heard about the American University organization at a vigil supporting Central American immigrant children, when CLASE president and current AU senior Vanessa Moyonero spoke about the program, which helps ARAMARK cleaning staff practice English and prepare for the U.S. citizenship exam.

“Many students at AU go out into the D.C. community to help improve conditions without realizing that there are plenty of issues that require attention on campus, in their own residential building even,” she explained.

Incoming club president Gabriel Garcia invited Gutierrez to join CLASE—which stands for Community of Learns Advancing in Spanish and English—for one of their monthly lunches, organized by fellow members Catalina Calachan, Roshan Thomas, Miriam Jackson, Amy Wetmore, and Carlos Vera. Many from the group were excited to see the state delegate, recognizing her from appearances on Latino television channels such as Univision and Telemundo.

Ana Sol with CLASE students.

“As a Salvadorian, I am honored to be here and hear you speak to us,” said Mercedes Fonseca, an ARAMARK employee.

“I can tell Ana Sol Gutierrez is a good person. She spoke beautifully and had a lot to say about everything. She really seems to want to help people,” said Olga Blanco, another ARAMARK worker.

Gutierrez still prides herself on being Salvadorian, even after having lived in the U.S. since she was 5 years old, and in her comments she was quick to note that the Washington, D.C., area holds the second largest Salvadorian population in the country after Los Angeles.

Aside from being a state elected official, Gutierrez is also an AU alumna, having completed her graduate studies in the then-named Center for Information Technology with concentrations in scientific and technical information systems and computer science. She worked as a systems engineer for firms including Booze Allen and Lockheed Martin before serving at the federal level as deputy administrator of Research and Special Programs Administration in the Department of Transportation during the Clinton administration. She even wrote code for the Hubble Space Telescope.

Her career in politics began in 1990, when she served on neighboring Montgomery County’s Board of Education. After noticing the stark difference in dropout rates between white and Latino high school students, she decided to work to improve public schools and in doing so became the first Salvadoran elected to U.S. public office.

After eight years on the Board, she realized that most decisions took place on a state level and ran as a candidate for Maryland State Delegate. Her election to Maryland State Government in 2002 marked the first election of a Latina in the Maryland General Assembly. “Being a legislator gives me an international view of our world…. I refuse to be parochial,” Gutierrez said.

Ana Sol with CLASE Aramark workers.

During her talk with CLASE, she also encouraged current citizens and those pursuing citizenship to exercise their right to vote, saying, “My motivation is fighting for people’s voices to be heard but to do that you need to vote and to be willing to speak out.”

Her journey from grassroots advocacy to the state level mirrors the efforts of CLASE, whose student participants graduate with hopes of affecting change in many different areas of social justice. This fall semester, the program involved 26 tutors and 21 tutee workers, with nine of those employees studying for the Naturalization Exam.

As ARAMARK employees often go unacknowledged—a common issue for cleaning staff in the “invisible” work force—CLASE creates bonds between them and students. Through CLASE’s unique tutoring program, AU students communicate with the employees and learn more about their lives, culture, families, and day-to-day challenges.

For the past two years Moyonero has been tutoring Paulina Ruiz, an El Salvador native and 26-year AU worker. The two have formed an unbreakable friendship. “I look forward to tutoring Paulina because she is like a family member I have looking out for me at school,” she explained. “If the weather is really cold one day she will cancel our session because she doesn’t want me to get sick.”

Former AU student Melissa Mahfouz co-founded CLASE in 2008, connecting it to a central focus on campus. “Social justice is a theme that unites most AU students,” she said. “We felt it was ironic that those who could benefit the most from activism—the cleaning and cafeteria staff—were excluded from the AU community.”

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Title: #SPA80for80: Loren Duggan, SPA/BA ‘00
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Abstract: Throughout his career, Loren Duggan has learned from mentors – and then trained a new generation of reporters and analysts – to help demystify the legislative process.
Topic: Alumni
Publication Date: 12/12/2014
Content:

Throughout his career, Loren Duggan has learned from mentors – and then trained a new generation of reporters and analysts – to help demystify the legislative process.

“So much of what happens on Capitol Hill can be opaque, whether it's a question of process or figuring out what a particular bill would do if it became law. Working with an analyst or reporter and helping put out the best content we can every day is very rewarding.”

Duggan spent nearly a decade at Congressional Quarterly, where he was able to make major contributions to its legislative tracking service. He became a writer for House Action Reports (HAR), which provides non-partisan analysis of legislation scheduled for consideration by the U.S. House of Representatives.

When the longtime editor of HAR retired, Duggan was given the opportunity to take the position and continue the HAR’s legacy. “I was able to learn from great mentors at CQ and then train another generation of reporters and analysts to continue the company's traditions.”

In early 2011, Duggan joined Bloomberg Government (BGOV), where he serves as Director of Legislative Analysis, providing senior leadership and helping to shape BGOV's legislative coverage.

He helps shape the congressional coverage for a data and analysis product aimed at government professionals. He also helped launch Congress Tracker, which started as a blog but soon expanded to include legislative summaries and other coverage of the legislative process. 

A recent highlight was moderating a panel two days after the election with five former members of Congress.

“Most of my career has focused on following the legislative process, as well as legislation under consideration, and then presenting it to readers to help them understand what's happening. I love hearing from a reader that our coverage helped them do their job.”

Duggan attributes his ability to uncover what's happening on the Hill and in the two chambers to the world-class education he received at American University.

During his time at the School of Public Affairs, Duggan participated in several areas of student government: in the General Assembly, as a member of the Board of Elections, and for two years working with the Kennedy Political Union.

He also found his internships very rewarding, serving in a Senate office and abroad in London with a member of the House of Commons. He encourages current SPA students to take advantage of internships in the same way. “They will give you real-world experience and expose you to new people. If you're on the fence about a path in your career, do more than one.”

#MySPAHistory

"I had several SPA professors who focused their career on Congress, and it's clear that they influenced my career path. Those classes laid the foundation for my own interest in Congress."

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Title: #SPA80for80: Professor Elizabeth Suhay
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Abstract: An expert in American politics, Professor Suhay brings to her scholarship a unique curiosity about how the formation of political opinions.
Topic: On Campus
Publication Date: 12/12/2014
Content:

Liz Suhay joined the School of Public Affairs in the fall of 2014 as an assistant professor in the Department of Government. An expert in American politics, Suhay brings to her scholarship a unique curiosity about the formation of political opinions.

“I’m fascinated by Americans’ political opinions because their origins—media, peers, personality, and values—are so varied and complex,” said Suhay.

Her research often digs into the philosophical questions surrounding political identities and ideologies. In one provocative publication, “Does Biology Justify Ideology?” she questions underlying assumptions about political ideologues’ beliefs about “nature vs. nurture.” Unwilling to accept conventional wisdom, Suhay and co-author Toby Jayaratne uncover complex differences between political conservatives and liberals in this arena, building a nuanced understanding of the connections between citizens’ views of government and their beliefs about the causes of human difference.

A frequent contributor at conferences and workshops, Suhay has presented her work to panels all across the country. Since 2010, she has presented her research at the American Political Science Association annual conference five times, including this last August in Washington, DC.

She is the author or co-author of five refereed journal articles and two invited contributions, which include: “Forging Bonds and Burning Bridges: Polarization and Incivility in Blog Discussions about Occupy Wall Street” in American Politics Research and “Explaining Group Influence: The Role of Identity and Emotion in Political Conformity and Polarization” in Political Behavior. She also is co-editor (with James N. Druckman) of “The Politics of Science: Political Values and the Production, Communication, and Reception of Scientific Knowledge,” a forthcoming special issue of The Annals of the American Academy of Political and Social Science.

Suhay comes to SPA after serving as an assistant professor in the Department of Government and Law at Lafayette College, which included a year as a visiting scholar at the University of Pennsylvania’s Annenberg School of Communication. She received both her BA and her PhD from the University of Michigan.

#MySPAHistory

"My time at SPA thus far has been incredibly rewarding…and busy! SPA is a perfect fit for me. As a professor and social scientist, I strive to teach well and produce high-quality research, but I also want to make sure my courses and research projects tackle pressing social and political issues."

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Title: AU Professor Constructs Model of Receptor Protein Linked to Human Growth
Author: Rebecca Basu
Subtitle:
Abstract: Biochemistry Prof. Stefano Costanzi's model provides an important visual as researchers work to uncover possible treatments for growth-altering conditions.
Topic: Science
Publication Date: 12/11/2014
Content:

A study published in the New England Journal of Medicine reveals the role of a receptor protein derived from a gene that has been linked to human growth. Co-author Stefano Costanzi, Ph.D., an assistant professor of biochemistry at American University, developed the three-dimensional computer model of the receptor that appears in the study.

"As the study reveals the receptor's role in growth, it may ultimately lead to the development of drugs to treat those affected with conditions that alter growth, such as gigantism or dwarfism," Costanzi said. "The construction of the model is an initial step in that direction. We are well-positioned to identify molecules that can activate or block the receptor, which is how a drug discovery endeavor starts."

Collaborative work

The work was led by researchers at the Eunice Kennedy Shriver National Institute of Child Health & Human Development (NICHD) of the National Institutes of Health (NIH), under Scientific Director Constantine Stratakis, M.D., D.Sc., the lead investigator and the study's senior author, and involved a total of 51 authors from the United States, Belgium, France, India, Canada, Italy, Russia, the United Kingdom and Australia.

Their investigation led to the discovery of a receptor linked to gigantism in children and acromegaly in adults, a rare disorder resulting from excessive growth hormone production in the pituitary gland. Patients with gigantism have a larger body stature and increased height, and muscles and organs may be enlarged.

The receptor derived from the gene belongs to a 'superfamily' of signaling proteins called G protein-coupled receptors (GPCRs). GPCRs are common targets to which many drugs bind to exert their action. Hence, a large percentage of the marketed drugs act through GPCRs, including those for the treatment of allergies, depression, anxiety, psychotic disorders, thrombosis, high blood pressure and many other conditions. GPCRs are activated –or turned on, like a light switch -- by a wide range of natural molecules produced by the body, such as neurotransmitters and hormones. This triggers a cascade of events leading to a biological response.

In the case of the gene linked to human growth -- called GPR101 -- researchers discovered that excessive growth occurs when it is overly activated. This finding makes the receptor derived from GPR101 a potential target for drugs to stimulate or reduce human growth, and Costanzi's computer model illustrates the putative three-dimensional structure of the target. To construct the model that appeared in the study, Costanzi based his work on the structure of another member of the GPCR superfamily.

"This is possible because the members of the GPCR superfamily closely resemble one another. In particular, I used as the template a receptor naturally activated by adrenaline," Costanzi explained. "I chose that structure because, among those available, it is the one that best reflects the activated state of the receptor, and therefore is likely to resemble the conformation adopted by GPR101 that leads to the stimulation of growth."

Leader in the field

Costanzi has been at the forefront of GPCR modeling. In 2008, with a single author article published in the Journal of Medicinal Chemistry, he was the first to demonstrate that accurate models of GPCRs could be constructed. Later the same year, he confirmed the same concept by succeeding in the first blind assessment of GPCR modeling. Scripps Research Institute researchers organized the assessment, asking scientists from all over the world to submit computer models of a receptor for which the researchers were establishing the structure. The models had to be submitted before the unveiling of the structure. Subsequently, the Scripps researchers compared the models with the structure, and Costanzi's were the most accurate of all those submitted.

"After the discovery of the function of a receptor, computational modeling can greatly assist the quest for molecules that can modulate its activity," Costanzi said. "As more structural data on GPCRs becomes available and further information on their physiological role is unveiled, modeling will likely play an increasingly more significant role in drug discovery and development."

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Title: The Digital Experience
Author: Gregg Sangillo
Subtitle:
Abstract: American magazine launches a versatile new app.
Topic: Technology
Publication Date: 12/11/2014
Content:

When you open American magazine's new app on your iPad, you'll see a visually arresting image. As part of the cover story on the impacts of the 1964 Civil Rights Act, there's an animated simulation of President Lyndon Johnson's pen signing the landmark bill into law. This is just a taste of what you'll discover with this new app, and reading American magazine can now be a full-fledged digital experience.

Value Added

This sleek, user-friendly app was launched in November and it can be downloaded for free in the iTunes Store. It's now available in iPad and Android versions. This next technological step creates a variety of new avenues for editorial content.

"We wanted this to be an enhanced version of the magazine. With some of these [articles], we only have 200 words or less of text, but there's so much more story there," says Adrienne Frank, senior editor for American magazine. "So I think it gives us more flexibility to expand on some of the stories that we tell."

The app enables the use of slideshows, audio clips, time-lapse videos, and animation. For instance, in a story on AU alums who work at the National Aquarium in Baltimore, the app features a video showing a catfish surgery. To supplement a profile of a Capitol Hill staffer, a fun video is included with 12 rapid-fire questions for her.

With some publication apps, you get a literal translation of what's already on the page. But the goal of this project was to offer new features and added value to the print version.

"We had to work to make it special, because we initially thought we would pretty much do a website. But we didn't think a website would be as dynamic or as impressive as we needed it to be," says Kevin Grasty, assistant vice president for creative services in University Communications and Marketing.

New Designs, Broader Reach

American magazine, published by American University, reaches some 120,000 people—mostly AU alumni but also parents of current students and friends of the school. This new app could help the magazine attract an even wider audience. Reading habits keep changing, and many people now prefer consuming content on their tablets or phones. "I think it's broadening the reach of the magazine," says Frank.

With the digital component, American will be able to use analytics to assess the popularity of certain stories. "We'll know exactly what people are clicking on or what they skip or what they like. And that will help us as we're working on future issues," Frank adds.

They designed the app in landscape (or horizontal) orientation to help accommodate the large format photography used in the publication's layout. "We have a lot of imagery that bleeds. And so because we don't have advertisements in the magazine, this particular landscape format would serve our content better," Grasty says.

A Deeper Dive

Grasty handled a lot of the administrative and licensing work for launching the app. "I feel like I'm still a newbie. I only knew enough to get us through this process," he says. "Now I have to do a deeper dive to really understand all of what we can and should be doing."

Frank describes this venture as a challenging—but ultimately exciting—learning experience. "I've been a print journalist for 18 years—about half of my life has been print. So to think about translating that into something that people can view on an iPad was really daunting," she says. "But it's just this great opportunity to really be creative, and do something different."

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newsId: 45F50083-5056-AF26-BEA8642456AAE5DE
Title: Professor’s Book Examines Governance in Nigeria
Author: Antoaneta Tileva
Subtitle:
Abstract: Using the case study of Nigeria, Assistant Professor Carl LeVan‘s new book explores how political actors and the policymaking process shape government performance.
Topic: International
Publication Date: 12/11/2014
Content:

What are the conditions for good governance in Africa, and why do many democracies still struggle with persistent poverty?

Using the case study of Nigeria, Assistant Professor Carl LeVan‘s new book, Dictators and Democracy in African Development: the Political Economy of Good Governance in Nigeria, explores how political actors and the policymaking process shape government performance.  

Drawing on a historical study of Nigeria since independence, the book argues that the structure of the policymaking process -- by which different policy demands are included or excluded -- explains variations in government performance better than other commonly cited factors, such as oil, colonialism, ethnic diversity, foreign debt, and dictatorships.  

LeVan, an expert on comparative political institutions, democratization, and African security, links the political structure of the policy process to patterns of government performance. He shows that the key determinant of performance is not the status of the regime as a dictatorship or a democracy, but the structure of the policymaking process by which different policy demands are included or excluded.  

By identifying political actors with the leverage to prevent policy changes, he demonstrates how these “veto players” affect the performance of two broad categories of public policy: goods and benefits enjoyed at the national level and those at a local level. 

“Many African countries grapple with questions of inclusion and the scope of participation in the government. But if inclusion undermines one category and advances another, that is very much a dilemma. I called it a Madisonian dilemma, since I used the work of James Madison as a theoretical framework,” he says.  

This “Madisonian dilemma” has important implications for African countries struggling with the institutional tradeoffs presented by different regimes.  

LeVan’s research shows that the number of veto players reliably predicted government performance between 1960 and 2007. Regimes with more veto players had higher inflation, bigger budget deficits, and larger student/teacher ratios. However, these regimes also restrained spending on goods characteristic of patronage. 

The book challenges conventional explanations that blame ethnicity, oil, foreign debt, and other factors for public policy performance. “Far too often, we focus on constitutions and parliaments; my research shows that institutions matter when people make them matter,” LeVan says. 

By showing differences across regimes, LeVan’s book demonstrates that the structure of the policymaking process matters. 

LeVan’s career spans academia and policymaking. Prior to joining academia, he worked for U.S. Representative John Conyers (D-MI) and then as the National Democratic Institute’s country director in Nigeria. He is a frequent commentator on African politics.  

Follow Carl LeVan on Twitter at @Dev4Security.

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Title: Not For the Faint of Heart: Whistleblower Impresses Difficulties of Fraud Investigation
Author: Laura Herring
Subtitle:
Abstract: Whistleblower Cynthia Cooper impresses the need for ethical behavior in her speech at the Annual Lecture on Fraud and Forensic Accounting.
Topic: Business
Publication Date: 12/10/2014
Content:

Good people can make bad decisions.

They don't correct the cashier when they receive too much change. They can drive home after one drink too many at dinner. Or they can keep quiet when something seems wrong.

Good people keeping quiet is how individuals become complicit in crime, particularly white-collar crime, according to Cynthia Cooper.

Cooper, a former vice president of WorldCom and a fraud whistle blower, shared this assertion at Kogod's Annual Lecture on Fraud and Forensic Accounting last month.

"Not standing up to pressure from above and going along with improper requests is the first step down the path," Cooper said. "And when individuals don't have their own moral code, their own sense of ethical behavior to stand on, that's when bad decisions can have lasting effects."

Blowing the Whistle

In 2002, Cooper led her team of internal auditors at WorldCom, the largest long-distance telephone provider at the time, in uncovering billions of dollars' worth of fraud. Their investigation and findings turned out to be the largest case of corporate fraud in U.S. history to that point.

According to Cooper, taking the lead on an investigation at her own company, headquartered in her own hometown of Clinton, Mississippi, was one of the most difficult things she's ever done.

"These people [we investigated] weren't strangers. They were members of our community; our neighbors, members of our church," she said. "It made it difficult to separate our emotions from the facts, but that’s what we had to do."

Learning to trust the facts and to develop a personal code of conduct is what got Cooper through the investigation and its fallout. It's this personal code that she impressed upon the audience more than anything else.

"Just like corporations have mission statements, so should individuals," Cooper said. "It's important to think about what you want your life to mean and use that to define your values and live by them."

"When people go against their personal values, that's when their lives start to unravel from the inside. That's what we see happen in so many cases of white collar crime."

Rethinking Fraud

Cooper's frank discussion of life as a whistleblower and how she found herself leading an investigation as an internal auditor opened the eyes of several in the audience.

"Before tonight I'd always assumed I'd get my CPA [license]," said Jessica Castrignano, BSA/MSA '16. "But now I'm going to look into getting a Certified Fraud Examiner [license] as well."

Castrignano wasn't the only student to begin rethinking career options. First-semester accounting student Sahilen Shah, BSBA '17, had never given much thought to the roles of internal auditors or even accountants beyond tax season.

"It was really fascinating to see such tangible applications of accounting and especially of a type of accounting I had never heard of before," she said.

Getting young people to start asking questions and be interested in uncovering the truth is Cooper's goal.

"My hope is that [my talk] is just the beginning of the conversation," she said. "This is the next generation of fraud examiners and accounting professionals; we need them to keep thinking about these hard decisions."

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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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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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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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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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