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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat


Wildcat achievements in the new year

UA students, faculty making change on local, global and extraterrestrial levels
Griffin Riley
(left to right) University of Arizona President Robert Robbins, Dante Lauretta, and student Keara Burke hold a press conference about OSIRIS-REx on Monday in the Stevie Eller Dance Theatre.

What do asteroids, Greek myths, climate action and “Mean Girls” have in common? They are all pieces of the many accomplishments that University of Arizona students and faculty can boast of in the new year.

At a time in which much of the news surrounding the UA seems negative (see: a financial crisis looming and the departure of a successful football head coach as just some recent headlines), there are still many remarkable things being accomplished by UA students and faculty. 

From groundbreaking scientific discoveries to captivating works of art, members of the campus population continue to contribute to the university and surrounding communities in a variety of ways, making the new year one to look forward to. 

Revitalizing research

The University of Arizona’s ventures into outer space will continue this semester and the foreseeable future with OSIRIS-APEX, an extension of the UA-led OSIRIS-REx mission. Led by Dani Mendoza DellaGiustina, an assistant professor at the University of Arizona’s Lunar and Planetary Laboratory, this mission will use the OSIRIS-REx spacecraft to travel to asteroid Apophis

Part of what drew researchers to Apophis is its expected close encounter with Earth, set to take place on April 13, 2029. OSIRIS-APEX will study the asteroid after this encounter to see how being that close to Earth’s gravitational field affected it

These monumental steps forward in different fields of research support the university’s No. 1 ranking in astronomy and astrophysics, according to the National Science Foundation. 

Commitment to conservation and climate action

In the new year, the UA looks to be continuing past strides made toward reducing its carbon footprint and furthering environmental and climate change research. 

In early January, the university announced the creation of the Lovejoy Center for Bridging Biodiversity, Conservation Science, and Policy. This center, made possible by a $5 million gift from the Thomas Lovejoy Amazon Biodiversity Center, will “advance research, knowledge exchange, and evidence-informed decision-making and host fellowships focused on conservation, biodiversity, and science policy,” according to the Center’s mission statement

This is just one of the initiatives that coincides with the university’s commitment to becoming more sustainable, a commitment exemplified by the UA’s Sustainability & Climate Action Plan. The Action Plan has, since its inception, incorporated feedback from the university community to implement different strategies to achieve zero carbon emissions by 2040 and help combat the climate crisis. The Office of Sustainability website noted that there will be more opportunities for community members to offer their feedback in early February. 

Arizona Artistry: UA students bring compelling stories to life on stage

From compelling performances to engaging art installations, UA Fine Arts students continue to contribute their talent and dedication to the campus community. Last semester, students in the School of Theatre, Film & Television brought many stories to life on stage, including “Jesus Christ Superstar,” “The Laramie Project” and “The Thanksgiving Play.”

“The Laramie Project” brought with it its own loaded legacy and offered those involved the opportunity to convey powerful messages through their performance. The show had a profound impact on not just its audiences, but also the cast and crew that brought the story to life.

“Throughout my time with ‘The Laramie Project,’ I felt how I had previously viewed humanity shift drastically. I saw the way that Matthew Shepard’s story shaped our community and brought together people of all identities,” Hope Niven, an actress in the show and student in the College of Fine Arts, said. “It opened up necessary conversations between people and let us all learn more about each other and what the world has to offer. Greg Pierotti, our director and one of the original writers, brought so much heart to the piece and encouraged us every step of the way.”

Beyond the campus community, TFTV students, graduates and educators are making their mark. Reagan Kennedy (‘22) joined the 2023 North American tour of Mean Girls.

Additionally, the School of TFTV was listed as No. 24 in The Wrap’s ranking of the country’s Top 50 Film Schools, and kept its No. 6 spot among public film schools nationwide. Projects coming from the school in 2024 include “Sweeney Todd — The Demon Barber of Fleet Street,”New Directions Festival,” “Argonautika” and “Much Ado About Nothing.”

“‘Argonautika,’ by Mary Zimmerman, will premiere in March in the Tornabene Theatre. It’s a playful retelling of Jason and the Argonauts, with lots of surprises in store! The season will end with an adaptation of Shakespeare’s ‘Much Ado About Nothing,’Mesa Winder, a UA stage manager in the school of TFTV, said. “These shows are all so different, but they’re all so fun and rewarding to work on! I hope audiences will enjoy them as much as we enjoy creating them!”

Transforming Tucson and beyond

Through research, education and advocacy, UA students and faculty are doing their part to better the Tucson community. 

The UA recently announced the creation of the Hearing Healthcare Assistance Project, which will offer free hearing health care for people age 21 or older without insurance. The project is in partnership with ASU, NAU and the Arizona Commission for the Deaf and the Hard of Hearing.

The UA clinic offers help to community members from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday – Friday. Beyond this project, the university also offers other support services, like classes to learn about your hearing loss and how to communicate if you or your loved ones experience hearing loss.

In a similar, public-health oriented initiative, Team Awareness Combating Overdose is continuing their work of promoting “harm reduction & drug education backed by neuroscience” on campus in the new year, according to the group’s Instagram page

“TACO encourages more open and honest conversations when it comes to drug use, because whether people want to admit it or not, a large majority of young adults are trying new things, whether that be alcohol, cocaine or psychedelics,” Madison Trotter, president of TACO UA, said. “With TACO’s information, you can be more prepared/knowledgeable when presented with different common drug combinations that you may see on a college campus like ours. At TACO, we believe everyone should have the chance to wake up in the morning after a night out, no matter what you partake in.”

UA art students are also taking their talent into the community, with some senior students painting an 80-foot-long mural at the B’Nai B’Rith Covenant House, a senior living center in Tucson. The ART 465 students are responsible for four community art projects during the semester, with this mural at the House being just one of the ways they are contributing their talent to the betterment of the Tucson community.

Recent headlines may not appropriately reflect the impactful research, talent and service coming out of the University of Arizona, but it is there nonetheless. From artists to scientists and everyone in between, the UA community is full of students, faculty and staff dedicated to bettering the world around them.

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