Week of 1/7/13
The Year Ahead 2013: John Broderick
(Inside Business, January 4, 2012)
President, Old Dominion University
In the upcoming year, I think higher education will have to continue to formulate new solutions and ideas to balance access and affordability with economic realities. From President Obama to government at the state and local levels, there is an important conversation happening about tuition costs and student debt.
At Old Dominion University, we have focused on this issue for many years because of the uniqueness and diversity of our student population. Our tuition continues to be the lowest of the state's doctoral institutions and we have initiated programs to provide our students campus employment opportunities and financial literacy skills.
Gov. Bob McDonnell and the General Assembly have recognized our efforts and supported them with additional funding, but state resources are not limitless. Therefore, finding the right balance to ensure everyone has access to higher education is a conversation that must be ongoing.
In 2013, Old Dominion will be expanding our programs and degrees awarded in the important areas of science, technology, engineering, math and health, STEM-H. Old Dominion is currently third in the commonwealth in awarding STEM-H degrees. There is a national shortage of STEM-H graduates in the country and these degrees lead to high-paying jobs, both of which are important components to growing the Hampton Roads and Virginia economies. Obviously, our athletics moving to Conference USA is another development, as well as strengthening our joint efforts with Eastern Virginia Medical School in public health.
Modeling and simulation continues to be a major influence in the Hampton Roads economy. When the Joint Forces Command was disbanded, there was considerable worry. But Old Dominion and the region's M&S industry have for the past decade been focused on diversifying modeling and simulation research away from its beginning domain of military applications into a host of multidisciplinary fields - from transportation to health care to emergency preparedness. (More)
Expectant dads' mental health linked to kids' behavior
(USA Today, January 7, 2013)
The mental health of a child's mother during pregnancy is widely considered a risk factor for emotional and behavioral problems later in the child's life. Now a new study finds that the father's mental health during the pregnancy also plays a role.
The study of nearly 32,000 children in Norway, reported today in Pediatrics, is the largest yet to suggest that a risk for future mental health problems in young kids may be identified early on by examining the prenatal mental health of the fathers.
It found that children whose fathers scored highly for psychological distress, depression and anxiety at week 17 or 18 of the baby's gestation had higher levels of emotional and behavioral difficulties at age 3, including disruptive behavior, anxiety and problems getting along with other children. ...
Only 3% of the fathers in the study had high levels of mental health problems, so these findings don't mean that every child with a depressed father will have problems, says James Paulson, an associate professor of psychology at Old Dominion University in Norfolk, Va. "But when this is viewed across a large population, the effects of prenatal paternal distress are a substantial public health problem." Paulson, who studies depression in families, was not involved in the new study.
In the past decade, "Researchers have learned that paternal postpartum depression presents many of the same risks to developing children that are well-documented in maternal postpartum depression," says Paulson. The new study "found that depression in fathers during pregnancy poses risks that are similar to postpartum depression - a finding that mirrors what we know about depression in pregnancy for mothers, but which hasn't previously been documented in fathers. (More)
Researching storms to prepare for the next one
(Opinion, The Virginian-Pilot, January 6, 2013)
Severe storms such as Hurricane Sandy, which ravaged northeastern coastal and urban areas in October, are fairly low-probability, high-impact events. They are characterized as a "public risk" because the impact is broad-based, overwhelming and viewed as beyond the control of the individual.
While the hazard itself is beyond individual control, actions that can substantially lessen one's vulnerability are well known.
Two widely accepted strategies to mitigate personal vulnerability are evacuation from the region to avoid injury during the storm and the hardship in its aftermath, and flood insurance coverage to make a household's personal property whole again.
Surprisingly, citizens have adopted neither of these strategies enthusiastically, thus substantially increasing their exposure and vulnerability.
Ongoing research at Old Dominion University is beginning to untangle the factors that contribute to citizens' perceptions of risk, as well as the social, economic and cultural constraints that keep residents from preparing adequately for an impending storm.
For example, we now know that people make evacuation and sheltering decisions as a family, taking into consideration the circumstances and wishes of extended family members and friends. Assessments of impending risk, how to prepare for storms and what resources to draw upon are made within these networks. Further, the medical needs and fragility of family members are critical factors that tie entire households to shelter in place. ...
Joshua Behr and Rafael Diaz are professors at the Virginia Modeling, Analysis and Simulation Center at Old Dominion University. They are researching the complexity of population behaviors in a severe storm and the ability of medically fragile and vulnerable populations to prepare for and recover from such an event. (More)
Economic indicators for Hampton Roads
(Inside Business, January 4, 2012)
Professors Vinod Agarwal and Gary Wagner, members of the Old Dominion University Economic Forecasting Team, have provided the following information about the local economy.
General Economic Activity
Comparison of information for 2012 through October to the same time in 2011 shows that:
* The size of the labor force and the number of workers employed has increased, which has resulted in a lower unemployment rate from 7.0 percent to 6.5 percent, according to the Census Bureau's household survey in the Current Population Survey.
* There is also evidence of job growth of 0.6 percent, based on the Current Establishment Survey, which is a survey of payroll jobs.
* New auto registrations are up 12 percent, taxable sales are up 2.6 percent, and hotel revenues are up 4 percent.
* Performance of the Port of Virginia has also improved - general cargo tonnage has increased by 10.4 percent and 20-foot equivalent container units, or TEUs, have increased by 7.6 percent. (More)
Root of socioeconomic impact on hypertension pinpointed
(Medwire News, January 7, 2013)
People who earn a low wage have a greater risk for hypertension than their counterparts with a higher income, especially women and those aged 25-44 years, research suggests.
J Paul Leigh (University of California Davis Medical School, USA) and Juan Dy (Old Dominion University, Norfolk, Virginia, USA) say their study suggests that wages specifically are a major contributing factor in the established association between low socioeconomic status and increased risk for developing hypertension.
"By isolating a direct and fundamental aspect of work that people greatly value, we were able to shed light on the relationship between socioeconomic status and circulatory health," commented Leigh in a press statement. "Wages are also a part of the employment environment that easily can be changed. Policymakers can raise the minimum wage, which tends to increase wages overall and could have significant public health benefits."
The analysis of 5651 household heads and their spouses over the three time periods 1999-2001, 2001-2003, and 2003-2005 was limited to working adults between 25-65 years of age. Anyone with hypertension during the first year of each time period was eliminated from the final sample (n=17,295). (More)
Life, liberty and the pursuit of raw milk
(The Virginian-Pilot, January 7, 2012)
It's a scorching summer morning, and David Crane is standing with arms stretched wide in the middle of a pasture.
He steps cautiously toward a stubborn cow, cajoling her to move out of the heat and into a shady patch a few hundred feet away.
"Come on, girl," he says quietly, almost whispering. "It's OK."
The cow bucks suddenly, knocking the husky middle-aged farmer off-balance and onto the ground in a cloud of dust. Crane hops back up, pats the dirt from his blue jeans and moves in again, arms wide, toward the cow.
"She's bigger," Crane says, smiling. "But I'm right." ...
It's a long and winding drive from Norfolk to Ivor, but it's one that David Crane was ready to make by 1998.
The Old Dominion University graduate was eager for some peace and quiet after half a lifetime in the city. He found it in a 21-acre plot of land about an hour west of his hometown. (More)
'Leader in Me' program bearing fruit at St. Matthew's
(The Virginian-Pilot, January 5, 2013)
Students at St. Matthew's Catholic School are quickly learning that leaders lie within each of them.
The private school, with 581 students in pre-kindergarten through eighth grade, is a 2011 U.S. Department of Education Blue Ribbon School.
Last year, they welcomed a new principal, Lou Goldberg. He, in turn, initiated a new program, The Leader in Me.
Goldberg, a retired Navy commander, is no stranger to St. Matthew's Catholic School. Both of his daughters attended it.
Goldberg said he has taken his share of classes, training and more, some during his 21 years in the service as an intelligence officer. He earned one of his master's degrees, in education, from Old Dominion University.
But it was The Seven Habits of Highly Effective People, based on the work of best-selling author Stephen Covey, that had the most impact on Goldberg, both professionally and personally, when he took the five-day program in 1997.
"It was about talking and listening to people, character building, leadership and more," said Goldberg. "This one course stuck with me." (More)
KEEPING IT HERE Buying into local education smartens and strengthens a region
(Inside Business, January 3, 2012)
Will Harcum of Williamsburg had cut his teeth, then his muscles, on the family farm. He'd wrestled in high school, then at college in North Carolina for a while. But the full-time academic setting hadn't fueled a fire between his physical and intellectual strengths and his interests.
In 2008 Harcum reconsidered an offer to attend The Apprentice School, where he could wrestle his rivals in the gymnasium and dominate a stimulating academic/employment schedule between the campus's classrooms and Newport News Shipbuilding facilities. He'd re-engage - and therefore, reinvest - within his hometown communities while participating in a world-class specialty-training environment within one of the most vital manufacturing entities in the region, the nation and the world. ...
EDUCATION CREATES JOBS
Hampton Roads' colleges and universities contribute significantly to the local economy, via employment, student spending, housing, community partnerships and industry advancements born of research and development. Authors of Old Dominion University's 2012 State of the Region Report called Eastern Virginia Medical School "an increasingly important economic force" for the area, citing an annual economic impact of approximately $800 million. EVMS's contributions have included the creation of more than 10,500 jobs and the growth of region-wide health and education initiatives, major research centers and international acclaim, specifically in the area of biomedical research.
ODU has "tremendous impact" as well, Agricola said. He then praised "all the (colleges and) universities" market-wide, adding that Tidewater Community College's custom-designed programs make it a "premier workforce development institution." (More)
Pill Could Join Arsenal Against Bedbugs
(The New York Times, January 1, 2013)
A common deworming drug can be used to kill bedbugs.
Dr. Johnathan M. Sheele, Eastern Virginia Medical School
It was a visit to a cousin in New York City two years ago that inspired Thang D. Tran, a medical student at Eastern Virginia Medical School, to volunteer to become a human booby trap in the war on bedbugs. ...
Ivermectin is not cheap. In the United States, a typical adult dose of Stromectol is about $40, and no generic version is sold legally. A year's supply of Heartgard for a big dog can cost more than $100.
But, Dr. Sheele said, that pales beside the price of multiple visits by a team of exterminators.
He got interested in bedbugs, he said, because they plagued so many of his Norfolk, Va., emergency room patients.
"I even had one patient come in with a baggie full of them," he said. "As a physician, there's nothing you can do for them except give them Benadryl and steroids for the itching."
He knew about ivermectin's power to kill skin parasites because he had done a fellowship in international emergency medicine, he said.
His school provided financing but was nervous about letting him officially import bedbugs to campus, so he had to borrow the lab of a tick researcher at Old Dominion University. (Mr. Tran remembers it as humid and redolent of lab rats.) (More)
Earth's oldest fossils found in Western Australia
(Yahoo News India, January 3, 2012)
In a new study, researchers have discovered traces of bacteria that lived a record-breaking 3.49 billion years ago, a mere billion years after Earth formed.
If the find withstands the scrutiny that inevitably faces claims of fossils this old, it could move scientists one step closer to understanding the first chapters of life on Earth. The discovery could also spur the search for ancient life on other planets.
According to Nora Noffke from Old Dominion University in Norfolk, these traces of bacteria a, the Sydney Morning Herald reported.
Unlike dinosaur bones, the newly identified fossils are not petrified body parts. They're textures on the surfaces of sandstone thought to be sculpted by once-living organisms.
Today, similar patterns decorate parts of Tunisia's coast, created by thick mats of bacteria that trap and glue together sand particles. Sand that is stuck to the land beneath the mats and thus protected from erosion can over time turn into rock that can long outlast the living organisms above it.
Finding the earliest remnants of this process required a long, hard look at some of the planet's oldest rocks, located in Western Australia's Pilbara region. (More)
It's a new year and a new Art Walk
(The Daily Advance (Elizabeth City, NC), January 2, 2013)
It's a new year and another First Friday Art Walk.
It's typical for things to slow down right after the holidays so it's nice to move into a new year with that monthly stroll celebrating the arts in Elizabeth City. ...
In the Jenkins Gallery you'll get the opportunity to see two guest artists from Virginia, Nancy Wall and Valerie Spivey.
Wall is a member of the Chesapeake Bay Art Association and has lived in the Tidewater area for the past 20 years. Wall is known for her paper sculptures.
Primarily self-taught, this artist has been teaching students her style of paper sculpting for years. According to reviews from the Virginia area, her style is, "contemporary with a touch of whimsy."
Showing alongside Wall is Valerie Spivey, a Hampton Roads area painter.
Spivey is a recent graduate with a BFA in graphic design and painting from Old Dominion University. It was her senior project that launched Spivey into what might be considered her signature style, portraits of children at play.
"Since then, people are my favorite subject to paint," writes Spivey in her artist's statement. "Every time I sit down to paint someone, I feel I learn more about them." (More)