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DEAN’SMESSAGE In one of my prior messages, I described several of our programs that link the arts and humanities with the social sciences and the sciences. Over the past two years, we have implemented the da Vinci Program and the medical humanities minor to broaden curricular opportunities for our students.

LEONIDAS G. BACHAS Dean of the UM College of Arts & Sciences

MAKE A DIFFERENCE Your gift to the College of Arts & Sciences helps us support student scholarships and retain leading faculty. Visit or scan this QR code with your smartphone to find out how your contribution can make a difference.

Through these and other educational programs, and the research conducted by our faculty, we advance knowledge and promote scientific discoveries that help us understand the past and provide innovative solutions to address present and future challenges facing the world. This spring’s issue will leave you amazed by our faculty’s pioneering efforts in both the laboratory and the classroom. A distinctive emphasis of the College is in the interdisciplinary field of neuroscience. The neuroscience major offers our students a comprehensive understanding of the brain and its functions. Working alongside our dedicated faculty, students in this program develop a solid foundation for entry into a wide variety of fields. In 2014, we appointed five new faculty across different departments as part of our “Understanding the Brain” initiative, which builds on the College’s strength in neuroscience research. With about a dozen faculty working in this area, we are developing new imaging techniques and molecular methods to understand neuronal communication processes as well as to explore the relationships among sociocultural factors, cognition, mindfulness, and behaviors. Several faculty members are using photochemistry for biomedical, environmental, and energy applications. I am proud that our professors are on the front lines in investigating and looking

for new applications of this technology. From using tiny nanoparticles to deliver materials into living cells to investigating the creation of more efficient solar materials, their work is shaping the future of nanomedicine, environmental remediation, and energy production. You will also discover the Dauer Electron Microscopy Lab, which is an extraordinary resource, housing a powerful microscope that can magnify materials up to 1.2 million times. Although most major research universities in America have this technology on their campuses, in the College our undergraduate students have access to this electron microscope to conduct original research under faculty supervision. All of this groundbreaking fundamental research will surely change our world. In about three years, a new, state-of-the-art Integrated Science Building will open its doors to our faculty and students to advance research and learning. Please look for information about the new Integrated Science Building in future magazine issues, and follow us on social media for all the latest developments. It will surely be a fitting home for our cutting-edge science. TO LEARN MORE ABOUT THE DA VINCI PROGRAM VISIT: AS.MIAMI.EDU/DAVINCI




Senior Associate Deans Douglas Fuller Angel Kaifer Maria Galli Stampino

Editor/Writer Melissa Peerless

Dean Leonidas G. Bachas

Associate Dean Charles Mallery Assistant Dean Athena Sanders ADVANCEMENT

Assistant Dean of Advancement Jeanne Luis

Director of Communications Papsy Mileti

Editorial Contributor(s) Annette Gallagher Marie Guma-Diaz Raymond Mathews Design and Illustration Christina Ullman and Alix Northrup, Ullman Design Copyeditor Carlos Harrison

Like us on Facebook for photos, news, and events from the College Arts & Sciences is produced in the fall and spring by the College of Arts & Sciences at the University of Miami. Through the magazine, we seek to increase awareness of the College’s activities by telling the stories of faculty, staff, students and alumni. Send comments, requests for permission to reprint material, requests for extra copies and change-of-address notification to: Arts & Sciences, College of Arts & Sciences, P.O. Box 248004, Coral Gables, FL 33124-4620. Telephone: (305) 284-2485. All contents © 2015, University of Miami. Reproduction in whole or in part without written permission is prohibited.

CONTENTS FEATURES 7 | Data Visualization: Painting the Big Picture of Cultural History

8 | Rare Research: In Dauer Electron Microscopy Lab, Undergraduate Students Conduct Groundbreaking Medical Research

10 | Brain Gain: Neuroscience, an Interdisciplinary Field, Explores the Fundamental Questions Related to Brain, Behavior and Neurological Disorders

14 | Let There Be Light: A&S Chemists Research the Potential of Photochemistry

2 | News Briefs

Visit the College of Art & Sciences on the web:

6 | Bookmarks

Past issues of the magazine are available at:

16 | Class Spotlight 18 | Faculty Profile 20 | Philanthropy 22 | Tracking Hurricanes

CLARIFICATION The University of Miami received five stars for LGBT Academic Life from Campus Pride in its 2014 Pride Index. The University’s Overall Campus Pride score is three stars.

24 | A&S Event Calendar ARTS | SCIENCES


NEWSBRIEFS Renowned Kathakali actor Shanmughadas performs on the Lakeside Patio Stage.


KATHAKALI ON CAMPUS MASTERS OF CLASSICAL INDIAN DANCE PERFORM FOR UM STUDENTS On the eve of Diwali – the ancient Hindu festival of lights – three master performers brought the classical Indian dance of Kathakali to UM. Kathakali is a wordless narrative dance set to rhythmic music. Performed exclusively by men, it is known for its elaborate costumes and makeup, detailed hand gestures, and striking facial expressions. It originated in southern India in the 17th century. The Departments of Religious Studies and Theatre Arts co-sponsored the visit of three Kathakali masters from Kerala Kalamandalam Deemed University for Art and Culture – a highly prestigious performing arts institution. Arthi Devarajan, visiting assistant professor of religious studies, said, “Usually when artists of this caliber visit the U.S., their goal is to stage full-fledged, ticketed concerts and performance events for the purpose of entertainment. But here, we have an opportunity to hear these artists speak about their work, explain the nuances of the tradition, and 2 SPRING 2015

Maxim Kontsevich, distinguished professor in the Department of Mathematics, at the Breakthrough Prize ceremony.

answer questions that further the research interests and goals of UM community members who work across disciplines.” In addition to a performance on the Lakeside Patio Stage and a pre-show lecture/ demonstration on Kathakali technique, the masters provided a class for dance students in the Department of Theatre Arts. During the lecture, Professor V. Kaladharan described – and actor Shanmughadas demonstrated – the 24 hand gestures and nine facial expressions used to tell stories in Kathakali. “Each part of the body and face is trained separately. Then all the parts are integrated,” Kaladharan said. Kathakali actors begin training at about age 12. Shanmughadas is able to play both male and female roles. It takes him three to four hours to apply his intricate makeup and costumes. Performances focus on Hindu mythologies of gods, goddesses, and sacred figures, bringing the characters to life on the stage. “Kathakali is the interplay of the celestial and the terrestrial,” Kaladharan said.

Maxim Kontsevich, distinguished professor of mathematics in the College of Arts & Sciences, was one of five recipients of the inaugural Breakthrough Prize in Mathematics. Kontsevich – who splits his time between UM and the Institut des Hautes Études Scientifiques outside Paris – received the prize and a $3 million cash award at a ceremony last fall. The Breakthrough Prize in Mathematics was launched in 2014 by Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg and venture capitalist Yuri Milner. It aims to honor “the world’s best mathematicians,” recognize advances in the field, and promote excitement about math. According to the Breakthrough Prize Foundation, Kontsevich was recognized “for work making a deep impact in a vast variety of mathematical disciplines, including algebraic geometry, deformation theory, symplectic topology, homological algebra and dynamical systems.” A citizen of both France and his birth country, Russia, Kontsevich earned his Ph.D. from the University of Bonn (Germany) in 1992. His work focuses on the intersection of math and physics, particularly “knot theory.” In his acceptance remarks, Kontsevich said, “For me, one of the most fascinating features of mathematics is the duality between space (geometry) and time (algebra). It is a constantly developing liaison, starting in the past with Cartesian coordinates, complex numbers, spectra in algebraic geometry, automorphic forms, and continuing now with homotopy, a new way of thinking, and with numerous infinite-dimensional challenges coming from theoretical physics.” College of Arts & Sciences Dean Leonidas G. Bachas said, “I am honored to have a mathematician of Professor Kontsevich’s caliber in our College. He is a stellar researcher whose work is making a difference.” In 2013, Kontsevich won the Breakthrough Prize in Applied Physics. He also took home the 2012 Shaw Prize in Mathematical Sciences, an international award that honors significant advances in math, and carries a monetary award of $1 million. Throughout his career, he has won numerous other prizes, including the Henri Poincaré Prize (1997), the Fields Medal (1998), and the Crafoord Prize (2008). The Breakthrough Prize Foundation also awards annual prizes in Life Sciences and Fundamental Physics. Milner said his goal is to make careers in science as “cool and lucrative” as those in business, sports, and entertainment.


A KEY DISCOVERY Anthropologist Leads Excavation of Ancient Trash Heap in Islamorada Roger Sierra, a senior anthropology major, had a chance to get his hands dirty last semester. He joined Traci Ardren, professor and chair of the College’s Department of Anthropology, for an archaeological excavation in Islamorada in the northern Florida Keys. The dig site – a midden, or trash heap, where indigenous ancient people disposed of their food waste and other debris – was at the end of a 20-minute hike through Brazilian pepper trees and other dense shrubbery. The midden is roughly the size of a football field. Ardren believes that a small village existed on the site, which is close to the water, between 600 A.D. and 1300 A.D. Even before testing and analysis, the artifacts uncovered there are providing clues about the inhabitants. “The local people traded in canoes and ate wild food. They used shells to make tools, but did not eat many shellfish. They were not agriculturalists,” Ardren said. The majority of items are bones – likely from fish, turtles, snakes, and other reptiles – along with some shells and ceramic pieces. Many thousands of indigenous people were living in South Florida when the Spanish arrived in the early 1500s. The Calusa, who lived mostly on the Gulf Coast, exercised political domain over the area. However, Ardren said, the remains uncovered on Islamorada show little similarities with Calusa culture. “They seem more like the prehistoric occupants of the Everglades,” she said, adding that the artifacts are well preserved in the oily, organic soil of the midden. For the Islamorada excavation, Ardren is collaborating with colleagues from the University of Georgia and the University of Oregon.

The bones will be cleaned and sent to Georgia, where a graduate student who is a zooarchaeologist (an expert in studying animal remains) will identify them to the species level. The shells will go to Oregon, and Ardren and her students will work on carbon dating and performing other analysis on the pottery shards. For his senior research project, Sierra is analyzing a collection of artifacts donated to the Department of Anthropology, which were excavated from Stock Island (the island just east of Key West). “The Islamorada artifacts are extremely similar to the Stock Island artifacts,” Sierra said, adding, “The Keys are very under-researched. There are an incredible amount of sites, and you can learn so much about the people.” However, the weather, the mosquitoes, and the difficulty obtaining permits are barriers to exploring this area. Sierra will present a paper on his findings at the Society for American Archaeology meeting in San Francisco in April 2015.

Inset: Senior anthropology major Roger Sierra takes measurements during a dig in the Florida Keys. Above right: Dense faunal material unearthed in an ancient midden in the Florida Keys.




E N G L I S H | J U D A I C S T U D I E S | B I O L O G Y | I N T E R N AT I O N A L S T U D I E S | B I O L O G Y


New Digital Holocaust Theater Catalog Finds its Home at UM From plays created in Jewish ghettos and concentration camps during World War II to contemporary works, theater has played an extraordinary role in Holocaust awareness and education. For the first time ever, information about more than 580 theater works from around the world relating to the Holocaust has been collected and organized into a user-friendly digital resource – the Holocaust Theater Catalog (HTC). The National Jewish Theater Foundation (NJTF) selected UM’s Sue and Leonard Miller Center for Contemporary Judaic Studies and the College of Arts & Sciences’ George Feldenkreis Program in Judaic Studies to house the HTC. “(We) are deeply honored to serve as the home of the unique Holocaust Theater Catalog and to make it electronically available to the world,” said Dr. Haim Shaked, director of the Miller Center and the Feldenkreis Program. “It fills a gaping void in Holocaust remembrance projects and constitutes an important building block in the educational work of the Center and Program.” Each play’s entry includes its title and author, a plot synopsis, prominent production(s), experiences chronicled, publisher, rights holder, country of origin, language, cast breakdown, and more. The HTC is a living document, continuously refined, updated, and grown through the inclusion of new material. In a video on the HTC website, noted Holocaust scholar Michael Berenbaum says: “The goal of the theater is to re-humanize (the victims) – to give them a name, a voice, a narrative, a story. If the goal of the Nazis was to dehumanize, theater is the counter testimony, the counterweight.” Dr. Eugene Rothman, associate director for academic development and senior fellow at the Miller Center and faculty in the College’s Judaic Studies program, manages the Holocaust Survivors Support Internship Program. This unique learning opportunity pairs students with Holocaust survivors living in South Florida. The partners meet bi-weekly for two semesters and then work together to create legacy projects sharing the survivors’ experiences. “Time is marching on and soon survivors will no longer be available,” Rothman said, calling them “the heart of effective Holocaust education.” “Theater may create a sense of living history, giving students a sense of having been there, and an emotional effect that cannot be given through written words,” he added. The development of the Holocaust Theater Catalog was funded by grants to the NJTF by the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation and private donors. It is available at Above: A scene from The Soap Myth, a filmed play included in the Holocaust Theater Catalog. The central online repository of information about Holocaust-related theater is housed at UM in the College’s George Feldenkreis Program in Judaic Studies and the Sue and Leonard Miller Center for Contemporary Judaic Studies.

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Biology Professor Stars in Smithsonian Channel Film on Speciation A new documentary film, Islands of Creation, is giving Smithsonian Channel viewers an opportunity to share a voyage of discovery with J. Albert C. Uy, the Aresty Chair in Tropical Ecology in the College’s Department of Biology. J. Albert C. Uy, the Aresty Chair in “The documentary is about my long- Tropical Ecology in the Department term work in the Solomon Islands, of Biology, examines a tropical bird understanding how new species in the Solomon Islands. Copyright evolve,” Uy said. “We are following Day’s Edge Productions. populations of birds on the verge of becoming new species to understand the origin of species.” Specifically, the movie follows Uy as he documents speciation – the process by which new species arise – in monarch flycatchers, a group of birds that seem to be in the act of evolving. While the film’s subject is quite complex, viewers will not need a scientific background to enjoy its captivating story and gorgeous imagery. The Solomon Islands are a volcanic archipelago located northeast of Australia, covered with mangroves and emerald forests and surrounded by cobalt-blue water. “The purpose of the film is to entertain a large audience, to teach them about an amazing biological process, and to introduce them to an inspiring scientist doing fascinating work in science and conservation,” said Nate Dappen, the award-winning photographer and filmmaker behind the movie. Co-owner and director of Day’s Edge Productions, a visual media company focusing on science, nature, conservation, and adventure, Dappen traveled with Uy to film on location. Both Dappen and co-owner and director Neil Losin are accomplished scientists. Losin studied the evolution of territorial behavior in Florida’s lizards while earning his Ph.D. from the University of California, Los Angeles. Dappen earned his Ph.D. from the Department of Biology at UM, where he worked closely with Professor Uy. The film is funded by a grant from the National Science Foundation, which also supports Uy’s research. J. Albert C. Uy, the Aresty Chair in Tropical Ecology in the Department of Biology, and his team prepare for a day of research in the Solomon Islands. (Copyright: Day’s Edge Productions.)


Nobody ever told Allie Graham that science is for boys. “My family just supported me,” said Graham, a Ph.D. student in the Department of Biology, adding that a family friend who was a paleontologist was a strong role model. Ultra-organized and energetic, Graham is conducting her research in the lab of Kushlan Chair in Waterbird Biology and Conservation Kevin McCracken. She is using tissue samples from Andean waterfowl to determine how their genes adapt to their high-altitude environment. This involves large-scale data sequencing of the birds’ genomes. She speaks enthusiastically about her work, explaining, “I have always been fascinated with birds.” Graham has also taught genetics courses at UM. She took the initiative to introduce new methods, such as bioinformatics, and research opportunities into her labs, aiming to give students (many of whom are pre-health) experiences that will help them in their future studies and careers. She skillfully explains the student research projects she designed. One investigates the genetics behind the bitter taste receptors on the tongue, and another addresses the genetic consequences of domestication

Top and Bottom: South Florida Girl Scouts visit UM to earn their Naturalist Badges.


“My experience in Girl Scouts was so important to me, I wanted to give back.” in dogs. Both were meant to convey the importance of basic research, in combination with medically relevant topics. Her re-tooled labs have been extremely successful, and many of her strategies were adopted across the Department of Biology. “I thought about what really would have interested me as an undergrad,” Graham said, adding, “There is amazing support and resources for grad students at UM.” Graham earned the Outstanding Teaching Assistant award for the department last year, and it is clear that she is proud of bringing meaningful innovation to the classroom. But she truly lights up when she talks about scientific outreach – particularly her work with the Girl Scouts of Southeast Florida. Each April, Graham organizes a Naturalist Badge Day, which brings 50 young girls aged 8 to 11 (Brownies and Juniors, in Girl Scout lingo) to campus for a day of discovery. The Brownies group focuses on bugs. They view a presentation on different classes/orders of bugs, make insect masks, examine various insect specimens under a microscope, visit the Gifford Arboretum to observe insects in their natural environments, and talk to UM faculty who use insects to answer biological questions. In its activity on flowers, the Juniors group learns about the parts of a flower and gathers specimens in the Arboretum. They then return to the lab, where they create corsages and home-made perfume from the flowers they collected. They discuss the biology of why flowers smell good (or bad), and interact with UM faculty who are expert botanists. “Even if the girls do not become scientists, they gain an appreciation for nature and for being outdoors,” Graham said. She launched the Naturalist Badge Day event in 2014, and will replicate it in April 2015.

“We had a great experience. It was so much fun,” Graham said, adding, “Their enthusiasm makes all the difference.” About a dozen UM graduate students and faculty participate in the activity. Most are women, providing accessible examples for the girls. “Scientists are real people. I try and portray myself as a scientist, but also as a regular person,” Graham said. “You don’t have to be a genius – you just have to have the enthusiasm.” Graham herself was a Girl Scout for more than ten years, earning a Silver Award, the second-highest honor possible, which recognizes recipients’ accomplishments in scouting, their community, and their personal lives. “My experience in Girl Scouts was so important to me,” Graham said. “I wanted to give back.” Before coming to UM in 2012, Graham helped teach the Genetics and Evolution Laboratory at Duke University. While at Duke, she participated in a badge event for local Boy Scouts. She built upon that program to design the Naturalist Badge Day program for Girl Scouts here in South Florida. Graham earned her master’s degree from the University of North Carolina at Greensboro, and her B.Sc. from RandolphMacon Woman’s College. She received a Maytag Fellowship to study at UM, which includes full tuition remission and a stipend for three years. She expects to complete her Ph.D. in six years, and then plans a career in academia. The Naturalist Badge is part of the Girl Scouts’ Generation STEM initiative, which aims to close the gender gap for girls in the fields of science, technology, engineering, and math. It offers STEM activities that are relevant to everyday life for scouts of all ages. ARTS | SCIENCES



Viviana Díaz Balsera, Editor Modern Languages and Literatures Brings together 13 essays by leading scholars from various disciplines to explore Spanish influence in Florida’s past, present and future.


Interdisciplinary collection for scholars and students interested in the connections between myth and scripture, featuring examples from the Ancient Near East, Hebrew Bible, New Testament, and Greco-Roman world.


Karl Gunther History

Synthesizes current thinking on Africa, offering students the most realistic portrait available of modern Africa.


Argues that 16-century English evangelicals were calling for radical reforms, examining the nature of early English Protestantism.



Patrick McCarthy, Editor English Scholarly edition of Malcolm Lowry’s “lost” novel, In Ballast to the White Sea, includes textual notes.


Donald Spivey History Presents the biography of Milton L. Olive, III, the first African American awarded the Medal of Honor in the Vietnam War. 6 SPRING 2015

Dexter Callender, Editor Religious Studies

Richard Grant Geography and Regional Studies

Jennifer Ferriss-Hill Classics

Mary Lindemann History Analyzes the ways in which three major economic powerhouses (Amsterdam, Antwerp, and Hamburg) developed dual identities as “communities of commerce” and as republics over the course of the 18th century.

Amanullah De Sondy Religious Studies


and the old ComiC tRadition

Demonstrates that many of Roman Satire’s most distinctive characteristics derived from ancient Greek Old Comedy.


Makes a vital contribution to debates surrounding Islamic masculinities.

Roman SatiRe

JennifeR l. feRRiSS-hill


Guido Ruggiero History Offers a rich and exciting new way of thinking about the Italian Renaissance as both a historical period and a historical movement.


Hugh M. Thomas History Provides insights on the secular clergy – priests and other clerics outside of monastic orders – an influential and powerful group in European society during the central Middle Ages.

CHAOMING SONG Assistant Professor of Physics




uantifying the history of culture, and representing this phenomenon visually, isn’t easy. There are thousands of individual stories, across thousands of years, to consider – and some historical conditions are nearly impossible to measure. Dr. Maximilian Schich, associate professor of arts and technology at The University of Texas at Dallas, brought together a team of network and complexity scientists to create and quantify a big picture of European and North American cultural history. A key member of the group is University of Miami physicist Chaoming Song. Schich and his fellow researchers reconstructed the migration and mobility patterns of more than 150,000 notable individuals over a span of over two millennia. These include, for example, Greek lawmaker and poet Solon, who was born in 637 B.C. in Athens and died in in 557 B.C. in Cyprus. By connecting the birth and death locations of each individual, and drawing and animating lines between the two locations, Schich and his team helped to foster understanding of large-scale cultural dynamics. Song, an assistant professor of physics in the College of Arts & Sciences, is a co-author of the study – “Historical Patterns in Cultural History” – which was published in the prestigious journal Science last fall. The study includes a five-minute animated movie that begins in 600 B.C. and ends in 2012. The interdisciplinary scientific journal Nature posted the video on its website, where it was viewed more than 125,000 times. Song focuses his research on the intersections of statistical physics, network science, biological science, and computational social science. An expert on exploring broad patterns behind petabytes of data, Song’s role in the cultural history project was primarily data analysis and model development.

"My research approach is mainly based on statistical physics, a subbranch of physics that helps to understand the connections between macroscopic phenomena and microscopic details," Song said. The researchers consulted three databases to collect birth and death data, which they used to track migration networks within and out of Europe and North America, revealing a pattern of geographical birth sources and death attractors. Schich said, “The study draws a surprisingly comprehensive picture of European and North American cultural interaction that can’t be otherwise achieved without consulting vast amounts of literature or combing discrete datasets. (It) functions like a macroscope, where quantitative and qualitative inquiries complement each other.” Song added, “The resulting network of locations provides a macroscopic perspective of cultural history, which helps us retrace cultural narratives of Europe and North America using largescale visualization and quantitative dynamical tools, and to derive historical trends of cultural centers beyond the scope of specific events or narrow time intervals.” Other findings show that despite the dependence of the arts on money, cultural centers and economic centers do not always coincide, and that the population size of a location does not necessarily point to its cultural attractiveness. In addition, the median physical distance between birth and death locations changed very little, on average, between the 14th and 21st centuries, from about 214 kilometers (133 miles) to about 382 km (237 miles). The visualization of birth-death network dynamics offers a meta-narrative of cultural history: Europe 0-2012 CE. [Final still of Movie S1 in Schich et al.] Copyright: Maximilian Schich & Mauro Martino, 2014




In Dauer Electron Microscopy Lab, Undergraduate Students Conduct Groundbreaking Medical Research


Although he’s only in his third year of undergraduate studies at UM, Sumedh Shah, a biology major, is already conducting groundbreaking research on glioblastoma – an aggressive form of brain cancer that killed his father • Shah uses a powerful electron microscope – capable of magnifying objects up to 1.2 million times – to view the cancer cells up close, and to see how their structures differ from normal cells.

he electron microscope allows us to cut a single layer of cells into segments just 60 nanometers thick,” he said. A nanometer is one-billionth of a meter. Shah added that the technique requires extreme precision, eye-hand coordination, and time. Shah is honing these skills in the Techniques in Electron Microscopy course, taught by Jeffrey Prince, an associate professor of biology in the College of Arts & Sciences. “This class is a reward for hard-working students,” Prince said. “They have to be responsible and willing to put in the time and effort. The intent of this class and laboratory from the beginning has been to provide UM students with a trait that allows them to be heads above all other applicants for a professional position.” Prince and his students invited UM President Donna E. Shalala and Vice President for Student Affairs Patricia Whitely to the lab to learn about their research and how the electron microscope is expanding the horizons of science.

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Junior Sumedh Shah shares his research on glioblastoma, an aggressive form of brain cancer, which killed his father. He uses an electron microscope to determine how the cancer cells differ from normal cells.

“Our work is complementary with what is going on at the medical school. What is unique is that we can look at cells directly. This is a piece of the puzzle that is very relevant today.” ERIC KEEN, JUNIOR Prince said, “This class is not a show and tell; it is hands-on. And for the last 30 years, students have stepped up and done it – with excellence.” Shah – who serves as Prince’s teaching assistant – is enrolled in the Honors Program in Medicine, through which he will earn both a B.S. in biology from the College of Arts & Sciences and an M.D. from the Miller School of Medicine in seven years. Two more of Prince’s students are also working on innovative collaborative research projects. Senior Neville Patel is investigating Charcot-Marie-Tooth (CMT) disease, an inherited neurological disorder that affects about 1 in 2,500 people in America. Involving both motor and sensory nerves, CMT causes weakness in the foot and lower leg muscles. Patel examines the genes that cause CMT with the electron microscope. He is applying to medical schools for fall of 2015, and is an author on a paper that has been submitted to the journal Nature Genetics. Senior Mateusz Graca has been working with the electron microscope since he was a first-year student. He is studying retinitis pigmentosa, an inherited degenerative eye disease that can cause blindness. Researchers at UM’s Bascom Palmer Eye

Inset: UM President Donna E. Shalala enjoys student research presentations in the Dauer Electron Microscopy Lab. Above: Students in the Techniques in Electron Microscopy course pose for the annual class picture, with a special guest – UM President Donna E. Shalala.

Institute identified the gene that causes retinitis pigmentosa in 2011; Graca is examining those cells with the electron microscope, seeking a cure. When Graca was interviewing for medical school for fall of 2015, his research experience was a significant advantage. He said, “An interviewer asked about my background as an applicant. I told her about this research. The interviewer was very impressed by this experience.” Other current students are: pre-med sophomore Natalie Flores, who will be taking over Graca’s research when he graduates; junior Elizabeth Guirado, who plans to earn Left to Right: Third-generation 'Cane Mason Schecter shares an image he created using the electron microscope. Junior Elizabeth Guirado describes her research using the electron microscope.

a joint D.M.D./Ph.D. in dentistry; junior Eric Keen, who received honorable mention for a 2014 Goldwater Scholarship; first-year student Kasey Markel, who said that the electron microscopy lab was a major factor in his decision to attend UM and will be helping Shah with his research next semester; junior Katelyn O’Neill, who will also be working on retinitis pigmentosa research; senior Dominika Swieboda, who is planning to pursue a Ph.D. in microbiology; and sophomore Mason Schecter, a third-generation ’Cane majoring in biology, physics, and chemistry. Keen said, “Our work is complementary with what is going on at the medical school. What is unique is that we can look at cells directly. This is a piece of the puzzle that is very relevant today.” He is interested in virology, and will be using the electron microscope for his ongoing research on viruses that attack bacteria. President Shalala congratulated the students on their work, adding, “I think you are all privileged to be able to participate in such a class.” Shah concurred. “This class has made my time at UM worth it,” he said.



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10 SPRING 2015




Multidisciplinary Neuroscience Major Provides Undergraduate Research Opportunities

Understanding how the nervous system controls our behavior and mental processes represents a major challenge in science. In the 1960s, the field of neuroscience was created to approach this complex organ system from a variety of approaches. > Neuroscience is an interdisciplinary field that brings together researchers and clinicians from the biological sciences, psychology, chemistry/biochemistry, physics, engineering, and medicine to explore fundamental questions related to brain, behavior, and neurological disorders.

THE FACILITY CLOCKWISE FROM TOP > Neuroscience Building Exterior > Wet Lab > Surgery Room

ver the past 40 years, universities around the world have addressed the need to train the next generation of neuroscientists by creating graduate and undergraduate programs in this area. The University of Miami formally created the university-wide Neuroscience Ph.D. Program in 1992, and established the undergraduate neuroscience major in the College of Arts & Sciences as an interdisciplinary program of study in 2001. The neuroscience major offers a variety of options for students interested in learning about the brain. 2013 neuroscience graduate Joaquin Jimenez, who is now enrolled at UM’s Miller School of Medicine, said, “It tackles a range of topics from philosophical questions as intangible as the nature of human consciousness to mechanistic biological questions about how neurons find their targets during development.” He added that neuroscience “attracts people with diverse interests and unique perspectives.” Director of Undergraduate Academic Services for the Department of Psychology (UASP) Sean Kilpatrick agreed that neuroscience majors are a special group. “They are very committed to academics, and interested in learning,” he said. The neuroscience major is an interdisciplinary program that allows students to investigate issues related to the brain and the central nervous system. It draws faculty and research opportunities from various departments in the College of Arts & Sciences (most notably psychology and biology), the Miller School of Medicine, and the Rosenstiel School of Marine and Atmospheric Science. Over 100 faculty members are involved with the program, both teaching and overseeing student research and training projects. Students must take 130 credits to graduate, including such courses as Introduction to Psychology, Genetics, and Neuroscience Laboratory. Sophomore neuroscience major Mary Connolly said the program drew her to UM. “It was one of the main reasons I applied,” she said. ARTS | SCIENCES


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CL O CKWI SE FR O M T O P >Assistant Professor of Psychology Jennifer Britton and her team in front of the fMRI scanner. > A neuroscience major presents her work at the annual ACC Meeting of the Minds, a conference that brings outstanding undergraduate researchers from throughout the Atlantic Coast Conference together to present their original research.

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There are about 280 students in the program, which is open to 72 students per year. The size is limited by the available space for the required senior-level lab class. “We keep the class size small,” said Kilpatrick. “Students get more personalized attention from faculty.” Acceptance to the major is competitive, with a minimum 1300 SAT/30 ACT score required. Dr. Helen Bramlett, an associate professor in the Miller School Department of Neurological Surgery and the Miami Project to Cure Paralysis, heads the neuroscience program. “It gives students a broad view of biology and psychology – and also chemistry, math, and statistics,” she said. Neuroscience students begin their time at UM with two special classes: FACT and FORUM. These two courses – which are run by the UASP office – combine academics with advising in a unique way. During the first semester of their first year, they take FACT: Freshman Advising Contact Term. Through this unique course, they meet weekly with Kilpatrick, an Academic Advisor, and a Peer Advising Liaison. The result of these sessions is a roadmap to guide the student to graduation. It helps neuroscience majors develop viable graduation plans, allowing them to determine when to take mandatory courses and how to fulfill other requirements from UM and beyond (for example, when they will sit for the MCAT medical school entrance exam). Second semester brings FORUM: Faculty Overview of Research and Undergraduate Mentoring, which exposes students to the latest neuroscience research literature and trends. Each week, students meet with a faculty researcher, and learn to analyze research and critically evaluate scientific articles. They have an opportunity to interact closely with faculty and learn how to get involved in research, while continuing to monitor progress toward their graduation requirements. Bramlett said the FORUM class is an important resource for neuroscience students. “The broad array of research papers shows students what they can do. It opens their minds to the variety of what is out there in neuroscience,” she said, adding that lively discussions often take place in class. Undergraduate research is an emphasis within the neuroscience program, with students encouraged to seek out opportunities during the school year and the summers. “Research makes what students learn in class tangible,” said Kilpatrick. “It brings it to life.”

Research Support for Neuroscience Majors The College of Arts & Sciences Beyond the Book/Lois Pope program provides support for undergraduate neuroscience majors who wish to participate in summer research projects at UM. Endowed by UM Trustee Lois Pope, the program is designed to foster undergraduate research and allow students to work extensively in a research laboratory with a UM faculty member. These faculty serve as mentors to the students with whom they collaborate. Students in the program receive a stipend and on-campus housing. In exchange, each is expected to work full-time for 10 weeks during the summer and to present research results at the Research, Creativity, and Innovation Forum or Neuroscience Day.

Andrew Mudreac, a sophomore neuroscience major, is working with Assistant Professor of Psychology Jennifer Britton on her study on anxiety in children. “They presented us with opportunities and ways to get involved early,” he said. Britton works in the new, state-of-the-art Neuroscience Building, featuring an on-site fMRI machine. Medical student Jimenez worked at the Lemmon-Bixby Lab of the Miami Project to Cure Paralysis for most of his undergraduate career. His experience helped him select a specialty in medical school. “Now I’m in medical school in a combined M.D./M.S. in Genomic Medicine Program,” he said. “Neuroscience really cemented my desire to continue on to medicine. Besides a good background in everything nervous-system-related – which has come in handy in med school – the neuroscience major and research experience promote the use of critical thinking skills that are of value in virtually any profession.” Many neuroscience majors are pre-health, and a number go on to Ph.D. programs. Some enter the job market, doing research or working in biomedical, pharmaceutical, or other industries. Kilpatrick has recently partnered with UM’s Toppel Career Center to bring specialized advising services to neuroscience majors. This includes bringing a staff member from Toppel to the psychology advising office once per month, and organizing networking events. Merissa Goolsarran graduated with a neuroscience degree in 2013. She is currently working as a research associate in the lab of Dr. Amishi Jha, associate professor of psychology and director of contemplative neuroscience for the UMindfulness initiative, conducting research on mindfulness and its “possible effects on attention, mood, and memory.” Goolsarran is applying to social work programs for fall 2015. “This doesn’t seem like a field that most neuroscience majors would go into, but I want to be a social worker who has a deep understanding of the types of interventions and drugs that my clients might encounter as part of their treatment plans,” she said. “The research methods I learned while at UM will also help me evaluate potential clinical trials or new findings in the literature.” “The neuroscience major helped me find my path,” Goolsarran added. “It is a challenging major that is ideal for those students who are looking to push themselves and be part of a cutting-edge field of science.”

THE CANE BRAIN PROJECT Neuroscientist Dr. Amishi Jha Teams Up with ’Canes Football to Investigate the Effect of Mindfulness Training on and off the Field When the ’Canes prepared for their 2014 football season, there was a new aspect to their training program. In addition to conditioning, team drills, and other activities, the team practiced mindfulness – with each player focusing attention on his present-moment experience and observing his thoughts and feelings without judgment. This was the first step of the Cane Brain Project, an innovative program aimed at determining if mindfulness might help protect college football players’ brains. Dr. Amishi Jha, associate professor of psychology and director of contemplative neuroscience for the UMindfulness initiative, is leading the Cane Brain Project. “The question we ask is if mindfulness training – which has been found to benefit high-stress groups like soldiers, Marines, CEOs, and college students – can help student athletes in their academic and athletic performance,” she said. A recent study showed that the hippocampus, a part of the brain necessary for memory, is reduced in size in college football players, especially those who have had concussions. Separate research found that mindfulness training may actually increase gray matter density in this area. Jha worked with 105 members of the football team, delivering a four-week training course to all participants. About half (56) received mindfulness coaching, while the other group focused on relaxation techniques. Mindfulness practices included four guided instruction sessions tailored to their experiences as college athletes. The relaxation group used visualization, listening to pleasant music, and other methods. All players were assigned daily homework, 12 minutes of listening to guided recordings. Early results show that mindfulness group members were better able to sustain focus than those in the relaxation group. This is particularly true for students who practiced mindfulness more frequently. They also self-reported decreased levels of stress and anxiety. UM Football Head Coach Al Golden said he is thrilled to be partnering with Jha for this project. “Mental health is a vital, yet often overlooked, component of academic and athletic achievement. Our football program is excited about mindfulness training and enhancing student-athlete focus, stress management, working memory, and improving the overall competitive environment here at the U.” Wide receiver Phillip Dorset. Neuroscientist Dr. Amishi Jha is working with the football team to determine how mindfulness training impacts players’ performance on the field and in the classroom.





>> photochemistry

Professor of Chemistry Vaidhyanathan Ramamurthy – also known as Murthy – is a pioneer in the field of photochemistry – the chemical reactions, and physical behaviors, that occur when atoms or molecules absorb light. > During a still-thriving research career that has spanned close to 40 years, Murthy has investigated the use of light to induce chemical reactions. Specifically, he places molecules in very small spaces and shines light on them; the confined area limits the molecules’ reactivity, preventing the chemical reactions from producing unwanted side products. This work holds promise for development of light-based energy sources that are clean and renewable. > On sabbatical this year, Murthy has taken his photochemistry expertise across the globe. He spent two months in Tokyo as an International Fellow of the Japan Society for the Promotion of Science, and four months in India as a Fulbright-Nehru Distinguished Chair. In Japan, Murthy served as an advisor to the All Nippon Artificial Photosynthesis Project for Living Earth (AN APPLE), an initiative aimed at creating cost-effective solar energy solutions. > He is also furthering photochemistry in his role as a senior associate editor of Langmuir, a premier journal published by the American Chemical Society. > Several other faculty members in the College are engaged in photochemistry research – with broad applications.

DR. MARC KNECHT Associate Professor of Chemistry

DR. FRANCISCO RAYMO Professor of Chemistry and Director of the Laboratory for Molecular Photonics Professor Francisco Raymo designs tiny nanocarriers that facilitate energy transfer within cells.

Associate Professor Marc Knecht uses light to break down PCBs. RESEARCH DESCRIPTION:

Knecht uses metal oxide nanoparticles to degrade environmental pollutants using light. “The nanoparticles absorb the light and then they generate reactive species that degrade pollutants,” Knecht said. By putting metal nanoparticles on the surface of metal oxides, he is able to drive two reactions simultaneously. R E S E A R C H A P P L I C AT I O N :

Knecht is working toward sustainable approaches to environmental cleanup, creating mechanisms that can break down polychlorinated biphenyls, or PCBs, into less toxic substances. They could potentially be used to treat contaminated lakes, ground water, sediments, and more. S T U D E N T I N V O LV E M E N T:

Knecht’s research is being used in the College’s innovative integrated chemistry/biology labs for first-year students. The initiative – funded by the Howard Hughes Medical Institute – allows students in basic science courses to engage in authentic open-ended research. Instead of replicating experiments to achieve known results, they are on a true path to discovery. The students work with Knecht’s metal oxide particles, studying their properties as a function of their shape and their toxicity on C. elegans worms.

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Raymo’s research focuses on the use of fluorescent probes to monitor processes at the cellular level. “Our molecules are designed to switch from a nonfluorescent state to a fluorescent form under illumination at an appropriate wavelength,” he said. He recently published a study in the Journal of the American Chemical Society on his work with nanoparticles that “swim” through the watery environment surrounding cells and then pass through membranes to transport materials into living cells. Just 15 nanometers in diameter, the nanocarriers facilitate energy transfer within cells. The acceptors, which receive the energy, emit a fluorescent glow. R E S E A R C H A P P L I C AT I O N :

Raymo’s nanocarriers have the potential to allow scientists to detect cancer cells, and then deliver drugs directly to these bodies, preventing damage to other cells. “The ability to deliver distinct species inside cells independently and force them to interact exclusively in the intracellular environment can evolve into a valuable strategy to activate drugs inside cells,” said Raymo. S T U D E N T I N V O LV E M E N T:

Raymo works extensively with students in his lab. “Most of the experiments are done by graduate students,” he said, adding that undergraduates also work with him each semester.

DR. AMY SCOTT Assistant Professor of Chemistry

Assistant Professor of Chemistry Amy Scott sets up the laser technology she uses to measure electron speeds.


Scott’s research combines chemistry, biology, and materials science to study photochemical reactions relevant to solar energy conversion. She uses a laser to measure how quickly electrons travel when they move between molecules, resulting in charged particles. “When we hit molecules with light, electrons move from donor molecules to acceptors,” she said, adding that these reactions are measured in femtoseconds, the unit equivalent to 10-15 seconds. R E S E A R C H A P P L I C AT I O N :

“Today’s solar energy utilization relies on silicon-based photovoltaic technology, which converts photon energy to electrical energy,” Scott said, adding that such solar devices are efficient, but very expensive to process. She is investigating how organic materials can be used to develop cheap, simple photovoltaic materials; cur-

DR. JAMES WILSON Assistant Professor of Chemistry

rently, organic solar materials are only about 10 percent efficient. “The future of solar energy is developing solar paints for vehicles, solar shingles for rooftops, and spray-on solar ink for small device applications,” she said. “But continued fundamental research is needed for decreasing cost and improving efficiency for nextgeneration devices.” S T U D E N T I N V O LV E M E N T:

Scott involves students at the high school, undergraduate, graduate, and post-doctoral levels in her research. Last summer, she organized a summer research program for high school students from groups underrepresented in the sciences. She has two undergrads working in her lab, one of whom operates the sophisticated femtosecond laser. “All students/postdocs have independent research projects that they are involved in, which may require synthesis, spectroscopy, or other physical measurements that we perform in my laboratory,” she said.


Wilson’s research focuses on fluorophores, fluorescent chemical compounds that emit light. “We make small probes that are capable of mimicking biomolecules found in cells,” he said. The probes bind to proteins, usually found on cell surfaces, and “turn on” when they are stuck to their targets. They remain inactive when they are not bound, eliminating the need to rinse away unbound probes or otherwise perturb the cells. “The real challenge for us is combining molecules that should function as a reporter (the fluorescent part) with structures that function like the native biomolecules (the recognition element).” R E S E A R C H A P P L I C AT I O N :

Assistant Professor James Wilson creates probes that allow for some exploration of living cells.

“Broadly speaking,” Wilson said, “we would like for our probes to provide information about what is going on in a cell. ‘Can we see it?’ is the big question that we always ask.” He adds that much of what

researchers know about cells is derived from analysis of dead cells, but his probes are allowing some exploration of living cells. For example, they can be used to screen for drugs, or to investigate how tumors develop resistance to treatment. S T U D E N T I N V O LV E M E N T:

Wilson works extensively with students. “Graduate and undergraduate students are key to my research group. So much of their work relies on their persistence or ability to tackle a problem from a different angle,” he said. Wilson’s lab is synthesis heavy, with 90 percent of work involving producing molecules. Students are charged with this task. He added, “I truly believe that working with students, explaining reactions and the importance of our work helps to guide my overall research goals. They challenge me frequently with questions about the purpose, best route, best application of our research.” ARTS | SCIENCES


CLASSSPOTLIGHT Unique Collaboration Between College of Arts & Sciences and Schools of Medicine, Nursing Prepares Students to Train Future Health Professionals


standardized •

patient training

Perfect THE


Ms. Rubin averts her eyes, afraid to hear what the doctor has to say. She’s just returned to her job as a high-school math teacher, after surgery and an aggressive course of chemotherapy to treat colon cancer. The last two weeks, however, she has felt more tired than ever before, with bouts of severe abdominal pain. Her doctor attends to her diligently. He asks questions and reviews the results of her CT scan. After a 10-minute consultation, he has bad news for Ms. Rubin: her cancer has spread to her liver. And … cut!


s. Rubin is not a real person. She is the fictional patient played by students taking their final exam for Standardized Patient Training, a unique collaboration between the College of Arts & Sciences’ Department of Theatre Arts, the Miller School of Medicine, and the School of Nursing and Health Studies. Standardized patients (SPs) are healthy people who have been trained to realistically portray a fictionalized patient in order to help medical and nursing students hone their diagnosis skills and their clinical manner. The role-playing is an important tool for medical education. SPs learn to communicate the fictionalized patient’s medical history, subtext, personality, physical infirmities, and emotional state to medical students – using improvised dialogue and physical movement. The Standardized Patient Training class is designed to provide an introduction to the acting skills and physiological knowledge needed to become an effective standardized patient – and to help students in various fields hone their interpersonal skills. Although it is offered through the Department of Theatre Arts, pre-health students could take the class to learn more about “the other side” of the health care equation. 16 SPRING 2015


Maha McCain, a faculty member in the College of Arts & Sciences Department of Theatre Arts who teaches acting, directs the course. “SP work isn’t a performance – it’s an interactive experience, with all participants knowing that they are playing along with a fictional scenario,” she said, adding that the “patient” and the student move through the scene together “to practice the dynamics of interpersonal communication.” She likens standardized patient work to improvisational theatre. “You’re given pieces of information that act as inspiration to develop your character, relationship to other characters and your environment, but you and a partner have to make up the actual dialogue. Working like that requires an intense amount of focus and creativity to make the interaction look and feel as believable and natural as possible.” For the final, students enrolled in Standardized Patient Training memorized a six-page document containing the patient history for “Mr./ Ms. Rubin.” It is incredibly detailed, noting (among other information) that the patient owns a cat, had a tonsillectomy at age nine, and takes vitamins daily. The students participated in two one-on-one sessions with a volunteer medical student who evaluated their words, gestures, facial expressions, and other non-verbal cues. They looked for a convincing portrayal of the patient, and for consistency between the two sessions. “It has to be standardized,” said Stephen Di Benedetto, chair of the Department of Theatre Arts. Alexis Rondon is a sophomore English major minoring in theatre, pursuing the pre-health track. She said the class helped her hone her improvisational skills. “You can’t just go in with the information from the case history,” she said. “You have to be the character, and give it real depth. Make them 3D, not 2D.” She added, “You give it your personal flair, but you need to be true to what the person was actually going through.” The exams took place in the nursing school’s state-of-the art M. Christine Schwartz Center for Nursing Education. Students and their


3 “doctors” met in startlingly realistic models of emergency rooms, and all sessions were recorded for later review by McCain. Di Benedetto said, “This is an extraordinary interdisciplinary collaboration in the conception and execution of a novel form of theatre training.” He added that there are five regional medical training centers that employ professional standardized patients, a potentially untapped job market for theatre arts graduates. The course was the brainchild of Dr. Alex Mechaber, senior associate dean for undergraduate medical education and associate professor of medicine at the Miller School of Medicine. “Several schools around the country have employed professional actors in their SP programs. I thought it would be unique to train theatre arts students for these roles while helping to provide a service for our medical students,” he said. Mechaber added, “Effective SPs are ones who can truly simulate real patient scenarios, mimicking patients seen in the clinical environment. Accurate portrayal of patients is a crucial element.” The United States Medical Licensing Examination Step 2 Clinical Skills Exam – which all future doctors are required to pass – uses standardized patients to evaluate students’ “bedside manner.” McCain said, “The goal is to help the med personnel treat the patient as a respected and valued individual, and to be receptive to the patient’s emotions, whether spoken or expressed non-verbally (physically).” She teaches the course on the Coral Gables campus. Dr. S. Barry Issenberg – director of the Michael S. Gordon Center for Research in Medical Education, associate dean for research in medical education and the Michael S. Gordon Professor of Medicine and Medical Education – and Assistant Director of Curriculum and Technology Development Dr. Hector Fabio Rivera met regularly with McCain to bring the medical perspective to the class. Dr. Rivera and Dr. Ross Scalese, assistant director of research and technology at the Gordon Center, served as guest lecturers for the class. Dr. Rivera called the final exercise “a reverse OSCE” (objective structured clinical evaluation) – since the medical students were evaluating the SPs. “From the perspective of the patients, the students understand why certain questions are being asked,” he said. “They can learn what to expect from their physician or health-care provider.”

4 He added that pre-health students can gain unique and valuable insights into the training they will receive at the graduate level in medical school. The introductory Standardized Patient Training Class will be offered each fall semester, and an intermediate course will be available each spring. Di Benedetto said, “We hope that the class will appeal to students across programs so that they can fulfill general education requirements at the same time as gaining exposure to medical training exercises.” He added that he expects to broaden the partnership between the College’s Theatre Arts Program and the Schools of Medicine and Nursing to develop additional joint offerings. “This collaboration allows us to offer a broad range of students an exposure to the ways in which performance training can be used in other fields. It provides us with the opportunity to demonstrate that art and science can collaborate in innovative ways that are beneficial to both disciplines.” >> Alexis Rondon portrays “Ms. Rubin” during her final exam for the Standardized Patient Training course. 2 >>Students and faculty involved in the Standardized Patient Training course. Front, left to right: Dr. Hector Fabio Rivera, Chris Suglia, Casey McGillicuddy. Middle, left to right: Richard Tema, Maha McCain, Dr. Alex Mechaber. Back, left to right: Ryan Williams, Ana Taimani, Dr. Stephen Di Benedetto. 3 >> Joshua Smith prepares for his final exam for the Standardized Patient Training course. 4 >>Casey McGillicuddy portrays “Ms. Rubin” during her final exam for the Standardized Patient Training course. 1








200 there are more than

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who hail from


um's campus


represents almost


of the



i s a s i g ni f ic a nt

trade partner to the u . s . and europe

OTÁVIO BUENO Professor and Chair, Philosophy

B. CHRISTINE ARCE Assistant Professor of Spanish, Modern Languages and Literatures

Styles of scientific reasoning and their impact on understanding of scientific practice (collaboration with researchers at the University of São Paulo)

Comparative work on cultural relativity, race, and death and dying in Brazil and Mexico

MERIKE BLOFIELD Associate Professor, Political Science Brazilian politics and its impact on women and social policy

STEVEN F. BUTTERMAN Associate Professor of Portuguese, Modern Languages and Literatures

CALEB EVERETT Associate Professor, Anthropology Psycholinguistic research with Amazonian tribes, exploring how language impacts human thought

Brazilian literature, the Brazilian LGBTQ community in Florida (with researchers at the University of São Paulo)

TRACY DEVINE GUZMÁN Associate Professor of Latin American Studies, Portuguese, and Spanish, Modern Languages and Literatures Indigenous cultures and policies that address questions of nation-building statehood

J. MIGUEL KANAI Assistant Professor, Geography and Regional Studies

DOUGL AS O . FULLER Senior Associate Dean and Professor, Geography and Regional Studies Space-time dimensions of malaria and dengue fever in the Amazon region

Urban and regional development in Brazilian Amazon social policy


WILLIAM C. SMITH Professor, Political Science Political economy of Brazil in relation to social transformation


LOUIS HERNS MARCELIN Associate Professor, Anthropology Health outcomes and challenges facing the urban and rural poor in Brazil and elsewhere in Latin America


Nutrient cycling through tropical vegetation and the origins of plant species in Brazil

Industry, production, race and class in Brazil ARTS | SCIENCES


Sergio M. Gonzalez, Senior Vice President for Advancement and External Affairs, Adriana Verdeja, Senior Director of Development, Jill Deupi, Beaux Arts Director of the Lowe Art Museum, Cristina Krislav, Vice President of Beaux Arts, Donna E. Shalala, President of UM, Kristen Munroe, Immediate Past President of Beaux Arts, Rebecca McCarron, President of Beaux Arts, Leonidas G. Bachas, Dean of the College of Arts & Sciences.

A Strong P-ART-nership Lowe Art Museum Receives $1.5 Million Gift from Beaux Arts Honoring a 63-year-strong partnership, Beaux Arts – the Lowe Art Beaux Arts President Becky McCarron said she is proud of the Museum’s founding support group – has provided a $1.5 million gift to organization’s long tradition of philanthropy and community service at the museum. the museum. This generous donation enabled the creation of the position: “These funds come as a result of hard work from members past and Beaux Arts Director and Chief Curator of the Lowe Art Museum. The and we know the Lowe will benefit greatly from our gift, which– Honoring a present, 63-year-strong partnership, Beaux Arts endowment will also support innovative programming, community will benefit Beaux Arts as well. This is such a wonderful opportunity for the Lowe ArttheMuseum’s founding group – has outreach, facility upgrades, and other projects at the Lowe. Lowe and Beaux Arts, and we are support ecstatic that this endowment will “Through events such as their spectacular annual Beaux Arts live in perpetuity,” she said. a $1.5College million to the museum. Festival and so much more, the members of Beaux Artsprovided have been of Arts &gift Sciences Dean Leonidas G. Bachas, said, “This critical supporters of the Lowe’s educational and cultural mission in generous gift further cements the long, successful partnership between South Florida,” said Sergio M. Gonzalez, UM’s senior vice president for Beaux Arts and the Lowe. The support of Beaux Arts has been critical university advancement and external affairs. “Their efforts have allowed to the Lowe’s success in being a cultural resource to our students and the Lowe to grow and flourish since 1952; we are grateful for all that they South Florida for more than 60 years, and we look forward to continuing have done and continue to do.” that relationship under the leadership of Dr. Jill Deupi.” This gift positions the Lowe to realize its vision as a world-class arts The development of the Lowe’s highly regarded collection of more education and cultural institution, building on the University’s commitment than 19,000 objects may be attributed to the continued generosity of to taking the museum to the next level of excellence – and the recent partners such as Beaux Arts. The Lowe Art Museum excels not only as a appointment of acclaimed art historian Dr. Jill Deupi as its director. vibrant center for teaching and research, but also as a foremost cultural “For more than 60 years, Beaux Arts has played a critical role in institution for Miami’s diverse community and the city’s many visitors the Lowe Art Museum’s long-term success by helping us to grow our from around the world. collections, expand our facilities, and enhance our programming,” “I am looking forward to building an even brighter tomorrow with said Deupi. “This remarkable donation affirms Beaux Arts’ the help of Beaux Arts and each and every one of their members,” commitment to furthering the educational and outreach mission of said Deupi. the museum.” 20 SPRING 2015


Major Gift Helps Autism Center E X P A N D A D U LT S E R V I C E S The University of Miami-Nova Southeastern University Center for Autism and Related Disabilities (UM-NSU CARD) received a generous donation of $100,000 from the Daniel Jordan Fiddle Foundation (DJFF) to support its programs and services for adults living with autism. UM-NSU CARD is a state-funded resource and support program in the College’s Psychology Department dedicated to improving the lives of individuals with autism and related disabilities, including deafblindness and pervasive developmental disorders. CARD provides services to more than 8,500 individuals with autism spectrum disorders and their families each year. CARD’s Daniel Jordan Fiddle Foundation Transition and Adult Programs initiative will unite the two organizations’ shared vision: to create and expand replicable models that provide opportunities for adults living with autism to have the best possible lives. The Fiddle Foundation is the nation’s first non-profit organization focused on adults living with autism spectrum disorders. “We are thrilled to collaborate with CARD (and Executive Director) Dr. Michael Alessandri, a visionary in the field of autism for over 25 years who has created innovative transition, employment and recreational programs that benefit thousands of people in Florida – and we look forward to addressing additional needs, including housing, with the support of DJFF,” said DJFF Founder and President Linda J. Walder. Alessandri – who also serves as assistant chair and clinical professor of psychology and pediatrics in the Psychology Department – noted that CARD’s funding from the Department of Education is restricted to individuals who are in school; this makes the support from DJFF crucial, as CARD is mandated to provide lifespan services. He added that 41 percent of CARD’s current clients are over the age of 16. Researchers estimate that 500,000 individuals will reach age 21 and “age out” of government-sponsored autism programs over the next decade.

“We are grateful to the Daniel Jordan Fiddle Foundation for its generous gift to CARD. It will help support our existing programs and help stimulate exploration, discussion, and action on a range of solutions for housing, employment, health care, and legal issues,” Alessandri said. CARD will use the funding to explore innovative approaches to communitybased leisure programming (peer-to-peer social opportunities, art programs); longterm solutions for full community inclusion for adults living with autism; workshops addressing legal, financial, and self-advocacy initiatives; and more.

Researchers estimate that 500,000 individuals will reach age 21 and “age out” of government-sponsored autism programs over the next decade.

Linda J. Walder (second from left), founder and president of the Daniel Jordan Fiddle Foundation; and Dr. Michael Alessandri (far right), executive director of CARD and professor of psychology, with staff and clients of CARD’s Daniel Jordan Fiddle Foundation Transition and Adult Programs initiative. ARTS | SCIENCES






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Westinghouse Credit Corporation, and founded a Thomas N. Silverman, PA, a boutique tax and estate planning/litigation law firm in Palm Beach Gardens, FL. He is a past Chairman of the Probate and Guardianship Committee of the Palm Beach County Bar Association. He also serves as President of the Kantner Foundation. CHRIS FELVER, A.B. ’69, a filmmaker and

NENO JOHN SPAGNA, A.B. ’51, is one of

Florida’s pioneer urban planners. He served as Planning Director for Hollywood, Manatee County, Collier County, and the City of Naples (a position from which he recently retired at the age of 85). Spagna earned several degrees after leaving UM, including a Ph.D. from Nova University. At UM, Spagna received the National Geographic Society Student Cartography Award. A highlight of his days on campus was the opportunity to meet Dr. Gilbert H. Grosvenor, then-President of the National Geographic Society and a member of the UM Board of Trustees, and his wife Elsie May Bell (daughter of Alexander Graham Bell) at their Biscayne Bay home, the Kampong.


_______________________________ JAMES C. STAUBACH, Colonel, US Army

Retired, A.B. ’67, published a book: The Magic City Captured by Miami Vice, Scarface, Movies, and Burn Notice, a guide to 80s locations and culture. A native Miamian and a graduate of UM’s Army ROTC Program, Colonel Staubach is retired after 39 years of commissioned service. He is interested in hearing from classmates. THOMAS N. SILVERMAN, A.B. ’68, psychology,

recently published Estate Planning for the Florida Resident (Fifth Edition). After graduating from UM, he earned a J.D. from Duquesne Law School and an L.L.M. from Harvard Law School. Silverman served as in-house counsel to

22 SPRING 2015

photographer, has published seven books of photography, most recently Beat. He has been a part of the American photography and videography scene for over 20 years. Felver's work has been featured in numerous international exhibits, including the New York Public Library, the Fahey/Klein Gallery of LA, the National Gallery of Art in Washington, DC, and the Centre Pompidou in Paris. He recently directed and produced the documentary Ferlinghetti: A Rebirth of Wonder. His newest collection of photographs, American Jukebox, has been published by Indiana University Press. It includes over 240 photographs from tours and encounters with musicians over the past 25 years. From Doc



Watson to John Cage and Sonny Rollins to Patti Smith, this collection celebrates the tapestry and diversity of musical styles that make up the American sonic landscape. Caught in action on the stage or posed, Felver captures these musicians and composers in their musical element, revealing the face behind the rhythms, beats, and melodies that have punctuated American musical culture. ED TASSINARI, M.A. ’69, history, Ph.D. ’82, Inter-

American Studies, is Associate Professor of History and coordinator of the American History survey course program at State University of New York-Maritime College, Fort Schuyler, Bronx, New York. His association with SUNY Maritime began with the first of seven summers working on the college’s training vessel, Empire State, in 1975. During those years, the ship made ports of call in England, Ireland, Scotland, Denmark, Sweden, Spain and Italy, and was the host ship for Operation Sail activities in 1976 and 1986. He has published in the Dictionary of Literary Biography, Scribner’s Encyclopedia of American Lives, and Baseball Research Journal and has been a member of the Chess Journalists of America, Society of American Baseball Research and the International Boxing Research organization.

CURT SMITH, A.B. ’70, history, was elected in a landslide to the County

Commission for Brevard County, Florida. This was his first venture into politics after retiring as a Maaco Autopainting owner of 27 years. He captured 63% of the vote in a three-person race. Curt ran as a fiscal conservative from the business world with 40 years of private sector experience. He will be joining four other commissioners to oversee the county’s $1-billion budget. While at UM, Curt was a member of the SAE fraternity.

DR. PAUL K. JAHR, A.B. ’72, M.Ed. ’74, was

named as one of the 125 Most Influential People and Programs at Georgia College & State University. Georgia College is celebrating its Quasquicentennial (125th Anniversary), having been founded as the sister institution to Georgia Tech in 1889. Jahr retired in 2013 as the Associate Vice President for Student Affairs.

NANETTE SUE AVERY, B.F.A. ’76, announces

the publication of her latest book, Orphan in America. Bringing back to the 21st century an epic novel of substance and style, Orphan in America is a compelling fiction that follows three generations across vast distances and the impact of a dark and unfamiliar episode of America’s past; the Orphan Train. Nanette currently resides in Brentwood, Tennessee.

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The College of Arts & Sciences and the South Florida literary community lost a giant with the passing of Lester Goran in February 2014. Goran taught at UM for 53 years, and founded the College’s Create Writing Program. Alumni, friends, and colleagues gathered to pay tribute to Goran and his legacy by launching a special edition of Mangrove Literary Journal on Friday, October 24, 2014. Many of Goran’s former students are now accomplished authors, who read from their works at the event. Pictured guests: Chantel Acevedo, Melissa Burley, Margaret Cardillo, Crissa-Jean Chappell, Terrence Cheng, M. Evelina Galang, Matthew Asprey Gray, Daisy Hernandez, Judy Hood, Mia Leonin, Chauncey Mabe, Paul Perry, Michelle Richmond, Emily Villela.

_______________________________ ANA V. NAVARRO, A.B. ’93, participated as a contributor to a December

BRADLEY FEUER, B.S. ’80, J.D. ’90, has been

appointed Assistant Regional Dean for Kansas City University of Medicine and Biosciences. Dr. Feuer already serves as Assistant Dean for Clinical Education at Nova Southeastern University, and Regional Director of the Palm Beach Consortium for Graduate Medical Education (a multi-facility academic medical center with 124 accredited training positions in seven postgraduate training programs based out of four hospitals affiliated with HCA Healthcare). Dr. Feuer also serves as Chief Surgeon and Medical Director of the Florida Highway Patrol. J. RODOLFO ALFONSO, A.B. ’81, psychology/

Spanish, recently published a book of Poetry in Spanish, Poemas y Reflexiones (Poems and Reflexions). His poetry is about life, nature and God. The book is at University of Miami Library and Cuban Heritage Collection. NORMAN M. WAAS, A.B. ’83, J.D. ’86, was

recently elected International Vice President for Zeta Beta Tau Fraternity (ZBT). ZBT was founded as the Nation’s first Jewish fraternity in 1898 and has been on campus at UM since 1946.


_______________________________ JEFFREY SCOTT JACOBS, B.S. ’90, M.D. ’93, was

recently elected President of the Florida Society of Anesthesiologists.

CARL COFIELD, B.F.A. ’92, won the NAACP theater

award for Best Director and Best Production for his work on One Night In Miami. In addition, he was nominated for an AUDELCO award for Best Director for Dutchman, which ran in New York City. He received his M.F.A. from Columbia University and lives in NYC with his wife Marina and their two sons. LEYZA BLANCO, A.B. ’93, J.D. ’96, a shareholder

at GrayRobinson, has been selected to join the International Academy of Trial Lawyers. This honor is by invitation only and nominated by a current member of the academy.

10th town hall meeting on marriage equality in Florida. Freedom to Marry, Equality Florida, and SAVE hosted the meeting on the heels of a federal court announcement that it will not extend a stay on marriages for same-sex couples in Florida, to discuss what’s next in the Sunshine State and how – and when – the U.S. Supreme Court will bring nationwide resolution to the question of marriage equality. Ana also appears regularly on CNN as a political contributor. JENNIFER “JENNA” COLVIN, A.B. ’97, J.D. ’00,

has joined the University of North Georgia (UNG) in Dahlonega, Ga., as university counsel. Her appointment was effective September 1. In this newly created position, Colvin becomes the chief legal affairs officer for the university and will advise the university administration on legal and policy issues.


_______________________________ MARTHA R. MORA, A.B. ’00, has been appointed

as Commissioner of the Hispanic National Bar Association’s (HNBA) Latina Commission. The appointment is effective for one year, ending at the HNBA Annual Convention in Boston, Massachusetts in September 2015. ANNE HARPER, B.F.A. ’04, graphic design, is

a creative director, recording artist and entrepreneur on a dynamic creative path. Her background in visual art sets a foundation for the multidisciplinary approach she brings to her projects spanning the disciplines of music, art direction, fine art and business. Anne released her first EP, Smooth Out the Lines, in 2011 and her full-length album, Unstill Life, was released in late 2014. She believes in the power of art and design to enrich lives and nurture the human spirit. For more information, visit NICOLE LAING, B.F.A. ’04, is Director of Marketing,

Advertising and PR at Lake Worth Playhouse.

DANIEL I. PEDREIRA, B.A.I.S. ’06, released his

first book, El Último Constituyente, a biography on former Cuban Senator Emilio “Millo” Ochoa, the last surviving member of the 1940 Constitutional Convention.


has joined the law firm of GrayRobinson, P.A. as an associate. Mr. Strassman will practice in the areas of State and Federal criminal defense, as well as complex civil litigation. ALEX ADES, A.B. ’12, political science, is a

first-year Ph.D. student in politics at Princeton University. A Foote Fellow, Ades graduated from UM in just two years. He then earned an interdisciplinary M.A. in the Social Sciences from the University of Chicago, before returning to UM to work as a research assistant in the Department of Political Science. He taught a course in the M.P.A. program, “Public Administration and Politics in a Diverse Society.” He is specializing in political theory, studying the relationship between religion and democracy. TATIANA DANIEL, A.B. ’13, has joined Griffin

& Company, Inc. as Account Coordinator. As account coordinator, Daniel provides support to all account teams, assisting with writing, editing and client research. She is also involved in social media, strategic planning and coordination of account activities. ALANNA SAUNDERS, B.F.A.

’14, musical theatre, starred as Tiger Lily in NBC’s production of Peter Pan Live!. Saunders said: “Everything about this opportunity is amazing. I get to work alongside incredible and incredibly talented people and idols. It’s going to be a live performance on NBC, I was chosen to be a principal in this amazing production, and the opportunities that this will create are only the beginning! All of that while doing what I love? There’s absolutely nothing better.” A seasoned stage actress, she starred in Gypsy and A Chorus Line at the Connecticut Repertory Theatre; at UM, she took leading roles in Metamorphoses and Floyd Collins. ARTS | SCIENCES




A&S EVENTS MAY intercontinental miami

CARD Tropical Nights Gala Event: May 9, 2015 Enjoy a festive evening of fine food, drinks, music and dancing to raise autism awareness. Join the University of Miami-Nova Southeastern University Center for Autism and Related Disabilities (CARD) in acknowledging the tireless efforts of those working to empower and serve the autism community in South Florida. Tropical Nights allows CARD to maintain and expand its services in the face of constituency growth and budget cuts. CARD serves more than 8,500 individuals with autism spectrum disorders and their families each year. Programs include support groups for family members, social activity groups for clients, specialized summer and surf camps, and conference scholarships for clients, family members, and professionals. For more information about Tropical Nights, please visit


SEPTEMBER college of arts & sciences gallery

2015 Incoming Graduate Exhibition Exhibition: August 25 – September 18, 2015 Reception: September 11, 2015


The Department of Art & Art History presents the annual show by incoming M.F.A. students. Works on display include photography, sculpture, ceramics, painting and more. The College of Arts & Sciences Gallery is open Tuesday through Friday, 12:00 noon – 4:00 p.m. Admission is free. For more information, visit the Department of Art and Art History at

special lecture

center for the humanities

Henry King Stanford Distinguished Professor Lecture: Frans de Waal, Professor of Primate Behavior, Emory University Event: October 8, 2015 Frans B.M. de Waal is the C.H. Candler Professor of Primate Behavior at Emory University and Director of the Living Links Center at the Center for the Advanced Study of Ape and Human Evolution. de Waal is an expert on morality in animals. His research focuses on primate social behavior, including conflict resolution, cooperation, inequity aversion, and empathy. He is the author of over one dozen books, including most The lecture is open to the public and free of charge. For more information, recently The Age of Empathy: Nature’s Lessons for a visit Kinder Society and The Bonobo and the Atheist.

DECEMBER lowe art museum

college of arts & sciences

Alumni Weekend and Homecoming 2015 Event: November 5 – 8, 2015 Whether you graduated from the College 5 years ago or 65 years ago, you can revisit your days at the U through Alumni Weekend and Homecoming. The weekend will feature special milestone reunions for the classes of 1965 (50th), 1990 (20th) and 2005 (10th) – and opportunities to connect on Alumni Avenue. Don’t miss the Homecoming Game versus the Virginia Cavaliers on Saturday, and the spectacular fireworks display over Lake Osceola. For more details, visit or email

24 SPRING 2015

Liliane Tomasko: Mother-Matrix-Matter Exhibition: October 29, 2015 – January 31, 2016 Swiss painter Liliane Tomasko is noted for her enigmatic, softly painted canvases that hint at human presence, need, and desire. They present the familiar as something unknown, blurring the boundary between abstract and concrete. Tomasko studied at London’s Royal Academy of Arts.

Admission to the Lowe Art Museum is $10 for adults, and $5 for students and senior citizens. Admission is free for UM students, faculty and staff. For more information, visit



W O R L D - C L A S S



pav e

the path

to bright


The UM College of Arts & Sciences educates and inspires the next generation of leaders, critical thinkers, innovators, creators and entrepreneurs. Your support will enable the Dean to enhance learning experiences that help our students make their dreams a reality. YOUR SUPPORT WILL DIRECTLY IMPACT TODAY'S STUDENTS.

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TH E N & N O W



2015 Copyright: Ray Fisher

Copyright: Jenny Abreu

ELECTRON MICROSCOPES Electron microscopes use beams of charged particles to create images. They are capable of much higher magnifications than light microscopes, allowing researchers to see significantly smaller objects in finer detail. In 1951, just 13 years after the invention of the first practical electron microscope, UM faculty took advantage of the new technology on campus, which had the ability to magnify images 50,000 times. Professor of Physics Claude F. Carter used the scope to view viruses.

Today, the College of Arts & Sciences’ Dauer Electron Microscopy Lab hosts an electron microscope, which is capable of magnifying images 1.2 million times. Students are using this sophisticated technology to investigate cancer, eye disease, and other conditions at the cellular level. Please see page 8 for more information on the Dauer Electron Microscopy Lab, and UM President Donna E. Shalala’s recent visit to the lab to learn about students’ research projects.

Arts & Sciences Spring 2015  
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