Persistence Pays Off for UA Electrical and Computer Engineering Grad Student

Jerrie Fairbanks

Jerrie Fairbanks didn’t let rejection stop him.

Fairbanks, a fifth-year electrical and computer engineering graduate student, applied for the Achievement Rewards for College Scientists program in previous years but never received it.

This year, Fairbanks was one of the 16 University of Arizona graduate students to be named an ARCS scholar. With scholars coming from the colleges of science, engineering, optical sciences and medicine, he is the only one from the College of Engineering.

Read the rest here at the UA’s College of Engineering website. 

UAMC orthopaedic surgeon saves lives, helps improve soccer field in Honduras

Published February 10, 2013 – Arizona Daily Wildcat

It was the medical team’s first night in Honduras and, after the long trip, the team members just wanted to sleep.

They were woken up at 1 a.m. Confused and tired, they put on their scrubs and rushed to the operating room.

A 17-year-old boy had been brought in, his thumb nearly amputated from a machete. The medical team included Dr. Joseph Sheppard, a University of Arizona Medical Center orthopaedic surgeon.

The boy was quiet and in shock. The sight of his bloody hand shocked everyone out of their fatigue.

Read the rest here at the Arizona Daily Wildcat. 

UA Program for Excellence in Academic Advising accepts student nominations

Published February 5, 2013 – Arizona Daily Wildcat

Recognizing advisers who go beyond recommending classes is one method the UA has implemented to improve academic advising across campus.

“We’re trying to recognize excellence and find places that are doing things that students are responding to, and growing those,” said Roxie Catts, director of the Advising Resource Center and coordinator of Undergraduate Academic Advising.

Read the rest here at the Arizona Daily Wildcat.

Refugees in Tucson: Overcoming the Language Barrier

Though many Tucsonans aren’t aware, Tucson has one of the largest populations of resettled refugees in the United States. Nearly 62,000 refugees have relocated to Tucson in the last 10 years.

This map shows the the 8 countries where most of Arizona’s refugees are from.


Click here to take a closer look at the map.

Though they face many obstacles when adjusting to life in a new country, many refugees have said that one of the hardest things to deal with in their move was the language barrier. The issue, however, is more complex than simply not being able to speak English.

Screen Shot 2012-12-02 at 3.52.45 PM

Abdullahi Omar is a refugee from Somali. Though he knew English when his family moved to the United States, he still says there were colloquialisms and other aspects of the language that he didn’t understand.



Bushra is a refugee from Iraq. Though she did live in other countries such as Jordan before moving to the United States, the resettling was still a challenge. She said its important for refugees to go out into the community to learn the language. One of the reasons she thinks its easier for young people to learn English is because they have to go to school, they have to spend time immersed in the language. However, that doesn’t come without it’s problems. Here she talks about her son’s struggles in a school that didn’t offer ESL classes.


Screen Shot 2012-12-02 at 3.53.47 PM

Sareos Gedi is a refugee from Somalia. She came to the United States with her husband and two children, leaving behind three children and her mother in Africa. She came to the states with no knowledge of English. After just a few weeks, she had to go to the hospital and deal with medical problems, all while not being sure what was going on because of her limited English. But through hard work and dedication she learned the language and is now a US citizen.


However, there are many organizations willing to help refugees. Ishkashitaa Refugee Network and the Arizona Language and Transportation Services are two organization that ESL teacher Grace Green works with. These organizations not only offer ESL classes and translator services, but Ishkashitaa helps provide refugees with jobs through their fruit gleaning program and ALTS transports refugees to important appointments.

At the University of Arizona, Professor Cindi Gilliland created the Arizona Resource Connection. This club gives students the opportunity to put their business skills to use while helping refugees find jobs and raising money to fund projects both in Tucson and outside the country.

Life with a prosthetic arm

Principles of Multimedia Blog Post 4

A Future Reset is a New York Times video about Cpl. Sebastian Gallegos who lost his arm while in Afghanistan.

I thought the opening segment of the video was great. It captured my attention immediately and made me want to watch the rest of the video to learn about Gallegos’s experience.

For me it also illustrated why my professor advises to begin up a video up an interview with b-roll. In this instance though the b-roll didn’t really match up with what was being said, it was dramatic and flowed well with the piece.

The one thing I didn’t like about this was the three or four still photographs that were inserted throughout the video. I felt like while they were very compositionally well put together, the pictures just seemed like too much of an abrupt break from the movement of the other video clips.

I also liked that Todd Heisler, the photographer and videographer ventured outside of Gallegos’s house and accompanied him as he went kayaking. I thought the added variety of the subject matter added more depth to the piece.

The accompanying article written by James Dao also has a beginning that I enjoyed, a dramatic opening describing how Gallegos realized he was missing an arm.

Ambitious web design for feature articles

Principles of Multimedia Blog Post 3

The internet has forever changed how journalists publish quick and to-the-point updates. In such a fast-paced society where time is limited and news organizations are battling to get the story first, Twitter has become an essential journalism tool.

But changes in long form blogging are happening as well.

An article written by Kevin Nguyen from the Nieman Journalism Lab published earlier this month brought to my attention an interesting new approach to web design.

Sites like The Verge and Pitchfork are creating beautiful layouts to showcase their stories in an aesthetically pleasing and uniquely ambitious way.

Pictures and illustrations appear and move across the screen as you scroll down the page. It feels similar to looking at a magazine article but more interactive. It doesn’t feel as if you’re reading an article. As Nguyen describes, it does feel like you’re experiencing it.

The Verge’s homepage itself is eye catching with colors utilized in a way that I have yet to see on any major news site.

One particular piece I enjoyed from The Verge was their cover story feature ‘Glitter on the Dark” about Bat for Lashes’ Natasha Khan. The photos change as you scroll and simulate movement. I feel like this creative technique presents Khan more effectively than a simple still image can.

Another interesting pieces to check out include: The Long, Strange Trip of Dock Ellis by ESPN about a baseball player who pitched an incredible game while on LSD.

Though the sites are new, it feels like they’re at the forefront of a substantial change in the way journalists present their longer pieces of work online. Journalism has already evolved into more than simply black words on a white page. Now it’s time to evolve into more than simply black words on a white screen.

Journalism on Tumblr

Principles of Multimedia Blog Post 2

I’ve reached that point in the semester where time and motivation are winding down but deadlines and assignments are becoming even more relentless. There are only a few more weeks separating me from the blissful unscheduled days of winter break yet these last few weeks may prove to be my downfall. I’ve been hitting constant roadblocks of unreturned calls and last minute interview cancelations for the last two big journalism assignments I have and I’m starting to lose hope in pulling everything off on time.

I’ve been trying to avoid the distractions of social media sites but as a journalism student it’s nearly impossible. I’m literally required to tweet for class. So while twitter has become a new form of procrastination for me, tumblr still remains my go to website for wasting time.

But amid hipster photographs of flowers and cute gifs of cats are news posts.

Though tumblr may not be as convenient as twitter is for fast minute to minute news updates it has it’s own advantages.

Tumblr is designed to display pictures so it has more capabilities in that sense and can allow for longer photo explanations and captions.

However, it’s very easy to manipulate posts on tumblr. Reblogging a post gives a lot of freedom for editing content and reposting can make it difficult to trace the source of information.

One of the best news tumblrs I follow are the Reuters blogs. Reuters has three different tumblrs; one on general news, one focused on politics, and one for pictures.

The blogs are fairly new; photography and politics began in October and April, respectively. This perhaps is the biggest challenge of news organizations on tumblr. Many are new and breaking into the tumblr community to gather a following may be difficult when the majority of people are on the website with the expectation to look at pictures of their favorite actors or find funny memes.

However, I think that if news organizations embrace tumblr the way they’ve embraced twitter, it could once again change the way we practice journalism especially in the areas of multimedia and photography.

Franz Strasser and St. Louis’s dividing line

Principles of Multimedia Blog Post 1

While working on my audit project for Ethics class tonight, I stumbled upon an interesting journalist. Franz Strasser is a reporter and videojournalist with BBC News. His work has been nominated for Emmys.

Based out of Washington, D.C. he spends a lot of his time traveling across the United States and reporting on stories he encounters.

The one that I liked in particular is called ‘Crossing a St. Louis line that divides communities.’

The element that stood out for me in this video was his use of graphics and text to help tell the story of how this street symbolizes a distinct racial and economic separation for that community.

I thought the graphics displaying the differences in median home value and median household income across Delmar were very effective in illustrating the economic differences between the neighborhoods with straight facts. I also liked the moment where Strasser took some straight on footage of Delmar, drew a line down the screen and showed the statistics for how many people on either side of the street had bachelors degrees.

There were some instances, however, where for a few seconds the side by side videos weren’t cohesive together and the transitions were a little awkward. It did work in some parts with images matching up to illustrate what a person was talking about but I think it might’ve flowed more smoothly if he’d simply cut to the B roll footage while the audio of the interview played in the background.

A look at the Peter Howell Neighborhood

Advanced Reporting Assignment 1: Neighborhood Profile


TUCSON, Ariz. – Security signs are everywhere. Young Alarm. CCS Systems. Central Alarm. ADT. Protection One. Upon first impression, you’d think that Peter Howell was just another neighborhood living through the common belief that midtown Tucson is a crime-ridden area.


Its residents however, don’t feel like crime is any more predominant in their area than anywhere else in Tucson.


Chris Brooks, the president of the Peter Howell Neighborhood Association, says that the belief of there being a lot of property crime in the area is just a misconception.


Commercial areas surround Peter Howell along the edges. According to Brooks, that is where most criminal activity takes place. “When you get inside the neighborhood, it isn’t so bad,” said Brooks.


Peter Howell became a neighborhood in 1951. Evo DeCancini, attorney general of Arizona and a Justice of the Arizona Supreme Court, decided to develop suburbs on land he owned in Tucson to accommodate a boom in the population.


“What really boomed Tucson was World War II,” said Jim Turner, historian and former resident of Peter Howell. The bases and factories brought many people to Tucson. After the war, returning GIs and the baby boom continued to contribute to a huge housing shortage.


Turner moved into the neighborhood in 1951 when he was two years old. In the 50s, the community was full of young people and their families. “With the baby boom they couldn’t build grade schools fast enough. Almost every house had kids my age,” he said. “Halloween was just nuts. It was like hundreds of kids came by your house at Halloween.”


Turner, who also spent some time working as a journalist, recalled an interview with his grade school principal Al McQuary six years ago. McQuary used to warn his teachers about being impressed by their students’ high test scores. “He told them that ‘it’s not the quality of your teaching. These kids all come from upper middle class professional families. Their parents are lawyers, judges, engineers, dentists.’ ”


The neighborhood Turner remembers was full of highly educated, predominantly white, middle class families.


Peter Howell does remain predominately white, with 80 percent of residents being Caucasian, about 3 percent higher than the rest of Tucson.


However, it isn’t as young as Turner remembers. According to data from the 2010 U.S. Census, only a fifth of homes in the neighborhood have children. In comparison, nearly a quarter of homes in Tucson have children.


Though Turner no longer lives in the neighborhood, he hasn’t moved far from his childhood home. The small Scotts pine tree his grandfather planted in the 50s now towers at nearly 60 feet, marking his old home. When asked about his thoughts on the neighborhood today he said, “Rundown.”


It no longer has the same pristine up keeping that he remembers from his youth. Where there was desert landscaping in medians, now there are weeds. Where the streets were smooth, now they’re cracked.


Josephine Thoman has lived in the neighborhood her whole life. She, too, has watched it change and grow through the years.


Thoman has many fond memories of living in the neighborhood. She remembers the old YMCA, when there was only one drugstore in the area, and “when El Con was really a mall.”


She gestures down the street. “The way the streets were built, when it rained there would be so much water.” The children took advantage of that and floated down the makeshift river in whatever they could find. “Some kids went all the way to the river but I never did that. I stopped at 5th Street because I had to walk home.”


She points to a house across the street. “The woman that lived there, when we were trick-or-treating made us sing a song for candy.”


“Everyone knew everyone,” she said. “It was a lot of fun growing up.”


Beneath the idyllic sounding conditions, Peter Howell does have a history with crime. Elizabeth Quinn, the neighbor Thoman remembers, was murdered in her home. Quinn was found beaten to death in her home on East Kilmer Street in 2007. The case was never solved.


The Pied Piper of Tucson, a famous serial killer, also left his mark on the neighborhood.


“Charles Schmid was known as the Pied Piper of Tucson because he had so many followers. And he and his followers were wild. He decided he’d like to know what it was like to kill somebody,” Turner said.


According to Turner, in 1964 Schmid tricked Alleen Rowe into going into the desert under the ruse of going to a party. Instead, he murdered her.


Schmid’s girlfriend Gretchen Fritz witnessed the crime. During a messy breakup between the two, Fritz threatened to expose Schmid. He then took Gretchen and her sister Wendy to the desert and murdered them.


Though his victims lived just outside of the Peter Howell neighborhood, many of the residents still knew Gretchen and Wendy Fritz. “My girlfriend at the time was a good friend of Gretchen’s,” Turner said.


“We thought they ran away to California because in 1966, everyone was running away to California,” Turner said. “Kids would go away in the summer and they’d come back with surfer haircuts.”


Schmid was eventually sent to prison for the murders. Despite successfully escaping once, he was caught and upon his return to prison was stabbed to death.


Despite past instances of violence, residents today are happy with the state of their neighborhood.


Rick Woodruff, 52, has lived in the area for 11 years. He was attracted by the central location but over the years, he’s appreciated the quiet neighborhood and amiable neighbors.


“It’s a good neighborhood to walk in,” Woodruff said. Though Peter Howell lacks sidewalks, the streets are wide and the neighbors friendly. “Once the sun goes down people come out to walk their dogs.”


As the sun sets, some residents emerge from their houses with their dogs leashed. The sun no longer beats down and the light breeze makes the Tucson heat bearable. Most smile and wave as they walk by.


“There is something that makes Peter Howell unique but I can’t quite put my finger on it.” Woodruff said. When asked what he would change about the neighborhood he simply replied, “Nothing.”