Arkansas Scientists to Gather for Health Research Retreat

By Erin McGuinness

The Razorback Reporter

Experts in nutrition and health will meet for the first Arkansas Nutrition, Obesity and Health Research Retreat, Oct. 25-27, at the Don Tyson Center for Agricultural Sciences.

Jamie Baum, assistant professor of nutrition in the Department of Food Science, teamed with Sean Adams, the director of the Arkansas Children’s Nutrition Center, and Rudy Nayga,  UA distinguished professor and Tyson Chair in Food Policy Economics, to organize the event.

Partners from the Fayetteville and Little Rock campuses, including the Center for Human Nutrition, UA System Division of Agriculture Research and Extension, UofA at Fayetteville, UofA for Medical Sciences, Arkansas Children’s Nutrition Center and Arkansas Children’s Research Institute will attend.

The organizers invited 22 scientists who have had successful research programs in the area of nutrition, obesity, health and exercise and have established collaborations with other researchers in the state, Baum said.

This is the first time that researchers from Fayetteville and Little Rock will gather for this retreat, she said.

“To get institutions like that together under one roof to support a common theme like this is kind of unusual, and it’s a really great thing for the state of Arkansas,” Adams said.

The gathering is intended to create collaborative research within the state on issues ranging from obesity to exercise and food insecurity, or a lack of access to nutrition.

Last year 34.7 percent of adults in Arkansas were overweight and 35.9 percent were obese, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

“We realized we need to bring people together to help start solving this problem and sharing our research to create more outcomes that would help Arkansans,” Baum said.  

Scientists and participants will meet Wednesday and get an overview. The Thursday program is open to faculty and administrators from the campuses, food industry employees and government officials who are interested in the topics. Researchers will present studies that they have conducted in the state.

Kevin Fitzpatrick, UA sociology professor and director of the Community and Family Institute, is presenting his research, called Assessing Food Insecurity, Weight Status and Health Among Northwest Arkansas Youth.

Food insecurity is related to nutrition and obesity because it describes a lack of access to nutritious food, Fitzpatrick said. His research focuses on food insecurity for children in northwest Arkansas, including Fayetteville and Springdale.

Fitzpatrick’s research on homelessness, as showcased in Community and Family Institute Reports, also will be included in brief, he said.

Fitzpatrick conducted a food insecurity survey in Springdale High and Owl Creek School in Fayetteville, the responses of students are incorporated into his presentation.

 “I’m really feeling like (our presentation) is really the only one that’s going to be focused on food insecurity and why that is important when we talk about nutrition and health,” he said. “If we don’t have access to food, that’s a problem, and if we don’t have access to good food, that’s another level to the problem.”

On Friday scientists will have a chance to develop ideas for federal grant funding. The research projects in need of grants also will be presented. There are three sources of grants, including the UofA, UA System Division of Agriculture Research & Extension and UAMS, though the amounts have not been decided yet. Experts in these fields from around the country have agreed to review and choose up to four winners, Baum said.

The six partners will award grants to establish collaborative research projects on nutrition, obesity and health in the state of Arkansas.

“The most powerful effect and impact of the research is really going to come from when all of these disciplines are melded into teams that can address quite complicated probes, such as obesity, diet quality and exercise,” Adams said.

Next year, the organizers hope to have a second retreat where people who received grants at the retreat can present their findings and research, Baum said.

If the retreat is successful, Baum hopes to turn this into an annual event – possibly a regional conference where Arkansas researchers can build connections with scientists in other states, she said.

“I really have a feeling that this trickle down from this conference within the state is going to be very positive,” she said.

Liquor, drug-related police reports take a dive

By Chase Reavis
The Razorback Reporter

Reports of liquor- and drug-related arrests and violations decreased at the UofA between 2015 and 2016, according to the 2016 Jeanne Clery Disclosure of Campus Security Policy and Campus Crime Statistics Report.
Law mandates that all universities and colleges that participate in federal financial aid programs release the Clery Report annually, which gathers statistics of crime, institutional policies, crime prevention, and sexual assault among other things, according to the UAPD website.
Most of the crimes reported in the Clery Report show that the UofA’s reported crime has remained consistent over the years, Capt. Gary Crain said. The three exceptions to that are liquor law arrests, burglary and motor vehicle theft.
Liquor law arrests increased significantly in the past few years, Crain said. This is because of the change in Arkansas law that allowed police to arrest anyone under 21 years old with alcohol in their body.
In 2012, police made 31 liquor law arrests. On average, the number of liquor law arrests climbed 76.4 percent per year since then, but then the numbers took a dip between 2015 and 2016 by 25.3 percent, from 154 to 115 arrests.
“Before the change, a person underage who was contacted by police was not arrested if there was no container on their person,” Crain said. “After the change, the aroma of an alcoholic beverage on the breath was enough to make the arrest.”
Liquor law violations referred to school officials for disciplinary action decreased by nearly 45 percent from 693 in 2015 to 384 in 2016 despite no known change in policy, Crain said.
Burglary reports dropped by about 18 percent from 2015 to 2016, dropping from 17 to 14 reports. In 2014, UAPD received 29 reports of burglary.
Crain said he owes this decrease to heightened security in residence halls, students becoming proactive in locking their doors and video surveillance installed throughout the university.
“Burglary was most often a crime of opportunity,” Crain said. “Doors were left unlocked and sometimes people took advantage. That does not happen as often anymore, and when it does, there is a good chance video surveillance leads to a suspect.”
Motor vehicle theft has trended upward over the past year, Crain said, but in 2016, there was an 18 percent decrease from 2015, dropping from 44 reports to 36.
An increase in motor scooters on campus explains that trend, Crain said.
There was a nearly 18 percent decrease in sex crimes reported to UAPD, dropping from nine to seven reports between 2015 and 2016, according to the report. In 2014, UAPD received five sex crime reports, showing an average increase over the three years of nearly 29 percent.
Rape is an underreported crime, Crain said in an email.
“Whether or not crimes occurred on campus and went unreported I cannot say for sure,” Crain said. “In the past, we have received reports of rape a year or longer after the crime occurred, so that’s an indicator that it could be underreported on campus as well.”
Reports of domestic violence to UAPD increased by 25 percent between 2015 and 2016, from 12 to 15 reports. In 2014, UAPD received seven reports of domestic violence, showing a trend of about 48 percent growth per year.

UA Bridges the Gap with Veterans

By Veronica Torres
The Razorback Reporter

The more than 1,300 students who have a military affiliation are working with UA officials to ease their college transition through outreach and assistance.
Erika Gamboa, director of the Veterans Resource and Information Center relates service members’ introduction to university life to that of students without military affiliation.
Many students without military affiliation seek help from counselors in high school and some learned through university tours and through their own experience.
Most students affiliated with the military, however, come from active duty, Gamboa said.
Senior James LaRocco came to the university after serving in the Army.
All students experience similar application hurdles, regardless of their military status; figuring out how to pay for school and enrolling in classes, for example.
There are generally two types of military affiliates, active duty and reserve.
Active duty refers to someone who is in the military 24/7 with a normal contract of four years, but some retire, Gamboa said.
LaRocco served on active duty for nine years and was deployed three times.
Students communicate with faculty so as to stay on track with school to not get behind, Gamboa said.
Sometimes professors have good communication sometimes they have not so good communication, Larocco said.
LaRocco is a physical education teacher intern and his professor has been helpful an open line of communication, he said.
In regard to paying for school, the university uses two GI Bills to help students, and the UofA is a yellow ribbon school.
“The Yellow Ribbon GI Education Enhancement Program (Yellow Ribbon Program) is a provision of the Post-9/11 GI Bill that allows veterans to attend private schools and graduate programs costing more than the state tuition cap,” according to the New GI Bill website. “Under the program, participating colleges and universities must offer a veterans-only scholarship which the VA will then match up to the full cost of tuition and fees.”
Students also are eligible for financial aid from the university. Applicable students are given $1,000 from the university and the VA matches that to lower tuition cost by $2,000, Gamboa said.
The Veterans Resource and Information Center has multiple partnerships across campus and Fayetteville to help students in other ways.
The center works with Counseling and Psychology Services, the Center for Education Access and Veterans Affairs and mental health counselors outside of the university.
They have created different groups since the beginning in 2009, but have a student veterans’ Registered Student Organizations on campus. The RSO has a small turnout but is hoping to grow. The RSO has approximately 150 members with five active members, said senior Derrick Calhoun II, president of the group and a Marine veteran.
“We do have the support, not just from us but from different departments and different students, wanting to help students,” Gamboa said.

Library to add new storage building to free up space for students

By Alex Nicoll
The Razorback Reporter

All she wanted to do was prepare for her thermodynamics test.
Anxiety mounted in junior Genesis Espinoza’s mind as she worked her way, floor by floor, through David W. Mullins Library, spending 20 minutes searching a spot that she could spread out and study her materials.
Study space was so sparse, she stopped going altogether started going to Bell Engineering Center instead, she said.
Espinoza’s frustration is a common one, she said. To help rectify this problem and to go along with a national trend, the renovation underway at Mullins will include more study space for multipurpose uses.
Over 40 percent of Americans said they think libraries possibly should move library stacks to make room for more meeting spaces or tech centers, 24 percent of people said libraries definitely should move stacks. Fifty-seven percent said libraries should definitely have more comfortable spaces, according to a 2016 study from the Pew Research Center.
“The way people use the main library has changed so significantly,” said Carolyn Allen, UA dean of libraries.
One way library officials have tried to push Mullins toward this growing trend is by building the 27,000-square foot storage building off Hill Avenue in south Fayetteville that will be able to hold an estimated 1.8 million volumes, according to the UA libraries’ website. Moving these materials out of Mullins will free up space to go toward group-study areas.
The collections the UofA receives have increased, Allen said. That, coupled with the growing UA enrollment, has led to a need for more study space in the library.
When enrollment reaches 30,000, which is the maximum that Chancellor Joseph Steinmetz wants, the library will need 3,000 to 3,400 more seats, Allen said.
One plan will include space for lectures and programs as well as independent study when it is not in use by a class or group, Allen said.
Besides more study space, other renovations for Mullins will include updated fire sprinklers, HVAC system, lights and asbestos abatement.
The renovation to Mullins is scheduled to begin by fall 2018, and be completed by January 2020. The estimated cost – $16.5 million – will be paid for by bonds, said Daniel Clairmont, director of engineering and construction for Facilities Management.
The storage building will be three times as large as the one in use on campus. The proposed site will have larger preservation space and will have better quality-control options including temperature gauges, moisture-control barriers and pest-repellent measures that will prolong the shelf life of the university’s collections, Allen said.
Three library staff members will work in the storage building and shuttle materials to Mullins from the building Mondays through Saturdays.
Discussion about getting new library storage began in 2007, but it was not until two years later that UA officials conducted a cost study to assess a complete renovation and expansion of Mullins. The price tag was heftier than officials realized, at $84 million.
“That was way out of the ballpark,” Allen said.
Instead of a full-scale renovation, Allen and other UA officials decided to make modest changes over the course of the last five to seven years. Some of these changes included reducing the size of the reference collection, adding computers to the periodicals room and creating more open bays for study space.
“We’ve done all we can do to the existing space without tearing down walls,” Allen said.
The current renovation and new storage building did not come to fruition until around 2015, Allen said.
The building is being built and is scheduled to be completed by July 2018, according to the libraries’ website. The cost to complete the building is $14.6 million, which will be paid with bonds, Clairmont said.
Espinoza was excited about the prospect of having more space to study, she said.
“It will be a very great idea,” Espinoza said. “I think there will be many students who’ll like it.”

Jennifer Lin speaks in Digital Media Lab, journalism class

Photo by Alex Nicoll
Jennifer Lin, former international reporter for the Philadelphia Inquirer, speaks to students in the Digital Media Lab on Oct. 12.
Photo by Alex Nicoll
Jennifer Lin listens to Professor Gerald Jordan during her visit to the School of Journalism and Strategic Media on Oct. 12. Lin and Jordan are former colleagues who worked together at the Philadelphia Inquirer.
Photo by Chase Reavis
Jennifer Lin gives a presentation to Assistant Professor Kara Gould’s Media And Society class Oct. 12. She spoke about her book, Shanghai Faithful.