Friday, May 22, 2015



NCUIRE-ing Minds

PHM1114Flash-3-NCUIREA one-of-a-kind program at ASU West gives undergrads the doctoral treatment.

“Undergrads researching treatments for cancer and Alzheimer’s – can you imagine it?”

Lauren Griswold, marketing and media relations manager for ASU West’s New College of Interdisciplinary Arts and Sciences, says this as we walk toward a small classroom laboratory on  campus. We won’t have to “imagine” anything for long – inside the lab, a handful of students wearing purple latex gloves and white lab coats squint at color-coded data on computer monitors against the humming electrical backdrop of the refrigerators, which house human colon cancer cells they’re growing for experiments. Under the guidance of Dr. Peter Jurutka, the students are probing the potential of vitamin D for reducing the risk of colon cancer and mitigating the effects of Alzheimer’s. “By the time the students are leaving the lab, they have worked on their own projects,” Jurutka says. “They have learned a vast number of molecular... techniques, and they’re doing work that one would characterize at the level of a graduate student.” And yet none of the students have a bachelor’s degree.


Read more: NCUIRE-ing Minds

The Wallace Effect

PHM1114Flash-2-WallaceThe late Bill Thompson’s twisted humor pioneered today’s more edgy kiddie fare. Could there ever be another Wallace and Ladmo Show?

Until the very end, Bill “Wallace” Thompson was playing jokes. Irreverent, savagely funny jokes. The kind he turned into ahead-of-its-time comic art, as ringleader of legendary local children’s TV program The Wallace and Ladmo Show, and finally aimed at himself, subverting his own memorial service.


Read more: The Wallace Effect


PHMPF04Valley construction companies compensate for labor shortages with the little-known – and little-understood – H-2B work visa program..

At the height of the economic recession, a perfect storm hit the Arizona construction industry.

The economic downturn, the raids on local businesses by Sheriff Joe Arpaio and, in 2010, the passing of Arizona’s anti-illegal-immigrant measure SB 1070 compounded to cause a mass exodus from the Grand Canyon State of foreign construction workers, according to Raul Leon of Foreman, Inc., a company that helps U.S. employers find qualified guest workers. “60 percent-plus of the workers... were Latinos,” Leon estimates. “A lot of [them] left, and they went to other states that weren’t hit that hard by the recession.”


Read more: Vis-à-Visa

Spit, Polished

PHMPF03A new lab at ASU studies saliva to unlock information on everything from stress to social bonding.

Dr. Douglas Granger sets a timer as I maneuver an oral swab shaped like a foam bullet beneath my tongue. “Can you feel it absorbing?” he asks.


Two rows of lab equipment away, a robot’s green probes pipette saliva samples into vials to be tested for cortisol. The samples might be from Nepalese babies, California sea lions, or subjects in any of the 85-plus studies underway here at the Institute for Interdisciplinary Salivary Bioscience Research (IISBR). Opened last year, this Arizona State University laboratory is an international hub for spit, flown in frozen from collaborating scientists in fields from sociology to immunology.


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Home Grown

PHM1014PF07It was a bullish NFL draft for former Valley prepsters last May, with three local alum snapped up in the first four rounds: Brophy Prep linebacker Trent Murphy (Washington Redskins), Chaparral offensive tackle Taylor Lewan (Tennessee Titans) and Canyon del Oro running back Ka’Deem Carey (Chicago Bears). The downside, if you want to call it that: Only one of the players, University of Arizona product Carey, kept his talents in the state when it came to picking a college football program.


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Incumbents Be Gone

PHM1014PF25Following an unusually brutal primary season for Arizona incumbents, we preview the top open-seat Election Day races to be decided on November 4.

Mark Brnovich vs. Felecia Rotellini
Arizona Attorney General
Backstory: Lame-duck AG Tom Horne’s scandal-plagued term – and subsequent ouster in the 2014 Republican primary – robbed voters of what would have been an intriguing rematch between Horne and Rotellini, the former AG prosecutor he originally defeated to take office in 2010. Enter Brnovich, the former Goldwater Institute watchdog and gaming official who would seem to make up in establishment GOP bona fides what he lacks in vowels.
At Stake: Horne supporters touted his opposition to Planned Parenthood and Tucson’s ethnic studies program; very little chance those fights are taken up by Rotellini... or Brnovich, for that matter.


Read more: Incumbents Be Gone

After-school Specials

Community-driven programs augment public schools’ dwindling arts education.

About 30 elementary-school students, some clad in school uniforms and some in street clothes, swagger across an indoor basketball court before pausing, twirling around in a complete circle and dropping dramatically to the floor, following the lead of three hip-hop dance instructors. In an adjacent room at the Jerry Colangelo Branch of the Boys and Girls Clubs of Metro Phoenix, a handful of students bangs away on African drums, following a music teacher’s audible example. “Tone-tone-tone, bass-bass-bass,” he calls to them, showing them what to do with their hands to mimic his drum sounds. “This is fun,” a girl whispers to her friend with a covert smile, before trying out a new rhythm.


Read more: After-school Specials