Week of 9/30/13
Sea Level Rise Accelerating For US East Coast --- fastest rise in the world
(Investor Village, Sept. 25, 2013)
This summer the North Carolina Senate passed a bill banning researchers from reporting predicted increases in the rate of sea level rise. But the ocean, unbound by legislation, is rising anyway - and in North Carolina this rise is accelerating, researchers reported here yesterday (Nov. 6) at the annual meeting of the Geological Society of America.
On the coast of North Carolina and at other so-called "hotspots" along the U.S. East Coast, sea levels are rising about three times more quickly on average than they are globally, researchers reported during a session devoted to sea level rise.
That's the fastest rise in the world.
"What we're seeing here is unique," said Asbury Sallenger, an oceanographer at the U.S. Geological Survey in St. Petersburg, Fla.
And this rise is accelerating, said Tal Ezer, a researcher at Old Dominion University in Norfolk, Va.
His colleague, Larry Atkinson, said computer models suggest that if this acceleration continues at the same pace, the rise along the East Coast - from North Carolina to Massachusetts - could be 5.3 feet (1.6 meters) by 2100.
Sea levels on this stretch of land have climbed as much as 1.5 inches (3.7 centimeters) per decade since 1980, while globally they've risen up to 0.4 inches (1.0 cm) per decade, according to a study by Sallenger published in June.
Why is the rise accelerating? Researchers said it's due in part to the sinking of land in the mid-Atlantic, a process called subsidence.
Also, warming oceans have decreased the flow rate of the Gulf Stream, a current that ferries warm water from the Caribbean and Gulf of Mexico northeast across the Atlantic.
With a less intense Gulf Stream, water is backed up toward the shore, causing sea level rise.
Differences in coastal geography, temperature and salinity (salt content) cause different rates of rise along the East Coast, Atkinson said. (More)
University of Maryland Leads New National Center for Strategic Transportation Policies, Investments, and Decisions
(Hal Eisner/PR Newswire, Sept. 27, 2013)
The University of Maryland was selected in a national competition to lead a two-year, $11.3 million new National Center for Strategic Transportation Policies, Investments and Decisions. The University of Maryland consortium includes Arizona State University (ASU), Louisiana State University (LSU), Morgan State University (MSU), North Carolina State University (NCSU), Old Dominion University (ODU), and the University of New Orleans (UNO).
The University of Maryland National Center for Strategic Transportation Policies, Investments and Decisions (NCSTPID) is one of only five National Centers that were selected in this nationwide competition and the only one with a focus on the U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT) strategic goal of "Economic Competitiveness."
The theme of the TPID Center will be "Strategic Transportation Policies, Investments and Decisions for Economic Competitiveness." The Center will conduct research and provide education and technology transfer related to this theme, and will directly support the U.S. DOT's strategic goal of economic competitiveness with consideration for other relevant strategic goals, such as safety and environmental sustainability.
"With the growing volume of traffic, an aging infrastructure and a need for smarter, more seamless movement of freight, this new UMD-led center will offer informed guidance on how best to invest precious transportation dollars," says University of Maryland President Wallace Loh. "I am very proud that our engineering expertise and leadership has been recognized in this tangible way."
The expected total funding level for the first two years for this center will be around $11.3 million, of which about $5.65 million are federal and the rest is matching funds. The University of Maryland Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering Transportation Program has a distinguished history in transportation research and education, and the NCSTPID award is a recognition of the contributions of the program's faculty to the state-of-the-art in transportation research and education. (More)
Norfolk school aims for investment in early education
(Delayed Quotes/The Virginian-Pilot, Sept. 29, 2013)
A new early childhood center planned in the Park Place neighborhood looks, from an architect's rendering, like a typical school. But when it opens next fall, it will be tasked with the unusual mission of educating policymakers as well as children.
A product of Elevate Early Education, a statewide advocacy group, the E3 School is part of an effort to grow public investment in preschool.
President Barack Obama is pushing for universal preschool and, closer to home, Norfolk school officials are working to expand the division's pre-K offerings.
The new school's advocates hope more comprehensive research will help build a case for additional support. The 12,000-square-foot center -- funded by $10 million in philanthropic support, mostly from private donors -- aims to serve about 100 kids and employ 26 teachers and staff.
Lisa Howard, Elevate Early Education's president, also served as president of Smart Beginnings South Hampton Roads, a successful nonprofit that worked to improve child care. As part of the E3 school, Howard wants to partner with Norfolk Public Schools to track how students enrolled in the pre-K program do over time. The results, she said, will prove "investment in early childhood education is the best investment in our education system."
It's easy to find critics of some early childhood programs like Head Start, but the National Institute for Early Education Research wrote that pre-K does produce "substantial long-term gains" for students enrolled in high-quality programs.
Faculty members at Old Dominion University also are researching the issue through the newly launched Virginia Early Childhood Policy Center, a program organizers say is the only one of its kind in the state.
The policy center is compiling existing information on early childhood programs and services in a report that can be shared with educators and legislators.
Right now the availability of information on early learning programs varies, making it hard to measure Virginia's offerings and effectiveness, said Peter Baker, one of the center's directors.
Over the years conversations about early childhood have changed, said Angela Eckhoff, the policy center's other director. There's no longer much debate over whether kids should go to preschool. Now it's all about quality and access. (More)
Are Entrepreneurs Born or Made?
(Entrepreneur, Sept. 19, 2013)
It's an age-old question: Are entrepreneurs a special breed, born into this world with a drive and need to succeed that most of humanity lacks, or can they can be created through education, experience and mentorship? We spoke to two academics who have strong opinions on the matter.
That question has taken on urgency recently. In the past five years, multiple studies have indicated that there may be an "entrepreneur gene"--or at least that people with certain genetic characteristics and personality traits are more likely to be successful entrepreneurs than others. In his 2010 book Born Entrepreneurs, Born Leaders, Scott Shane, professor of entrepreneurial studies at Cleveland's Case Western Reserve University, suggests that genes don't just influence whether a person will start a business; they may even determine how much money a person will earn. In other words, some people are born to be alpha wolves, and the rest will work in the mailroom. ...
We asked two prominent and opinionated researchers to weigh in on the question. James V. Koch is a board of visitors professor of economics and president emeritus at Old Dominion University in Norfolk, Va. He's also co-author with James L. Fisher of the 2008 book Born, Not Made: The Entrepreneurial Personality, which argues that many entrepreneurs are simply wired that way, giving them a natural advantage in the business world. Julian Lange is a senior professor of entrepreneurship at Babson College in Wellesley, Mass. His research in the past five years indicates that exposure to the ideas and lessons of entrepreneurship can have lasting effects on students, even if they are not "natural" entrepreneurs.
We asked each of them to make their case.
James V. Koch
Old Dominion University
What did you think about entrepreneurship education vs. natural ability before doing research for your book?
I think my view, being an academic, was that we can teach [entrepreneurship] and do it well. I was a bit surprised at the scientific literature that suggested heredity has a good deal to do with personality and behavior. When I began to look at the literature, virtually every reputable scientist sees it as interaction of heredity and environment.
Some personalities are much more favorable for entrepreneurship. It is an important thing, and it really constrains and influences outcomes. As a consequence, if you want to know who's most likely to be an entrepreneur, don't go to a business school and see who has taken entrepreneurship courses.(More)
Former player on ODU's first football team dies
(Obituary, The Virginian-Pilot, Sept. 29, 2013)
William "Bill" Abrams, 101, died on Sept. 17 at the Beth Sholom Home in Virginia Beach. To say he had a rich, long life would be an understatement.
Born in Bayonne, N.J., Abrams moved to Norfolk in 1921. He grew up in Brambleton and attended Henry Clay Elementary School and Ruffner Junior High School.
"It wasn't the easiest time or place to live, but we had diversions," Abrams said at his 99th birthday party. "It was always attractive to skip school when Babe Ruth came to town."
After starring in football and baseball at Maury High School, he attended the Norfolk Division of the College of William and Mary (now ) in 1930 and played on the school's first football team.
The players were not yet Monarchs or the Big Blue; they were the green and gold Braves. The football program ended after the 1940 season.
In 2010, Abrams sat down with three generations of his family to tell his story.
"He never said much about it," daughter Norma Butler said of Abrams' collegiate football career. "He talked more about baseball."
Indeed, Abrams also played on the school's first baseball team. Later, he was a first baseman and outfielder for the Norfolk Tars. (More)
ODU plans College of Continuing Education
(The Virginian-Pilot, Sept. 27, 2013)
Old Dominion University plans to establish a College of Continuing Education, joining a crowded marketplace of educational institutions serving nontraditional students trying to get a leg up in the workforce.
The new college, approved Thursday by the university's governing Board of Visitors, is slated to begin operations in the spring semester. It will most likely be housed on ODU's satellite campus in Virginia Beach, Provost Carol Simpson told the board.
The move was spurred by growing competition from institutions such as Virginia Tech, the University of Virginia, George Washington University and various for-profit schools, Simpson said.
The new college will offer both credit and noncredit courses in collaboration with ODU's six existing academic colleges. Most will be taught online.
The courses will be taught by nontenure-track faculty. Students will receive certificates upon successful completion. Tuition will vary, based on cost and market demand, Simpson said.
The college will market its offerings to regional, national and international audiences. A key targeted demographic will be those making career transitions, such as former military personnel entering the civilian workforce.
Potential subjects include cybersecurity, homeland security, instructional technology, business analytics and environmental management, Simpson said. A number of existing courses will be folded into the new college. (More)
Sea-Level Rise: A Slow-Motion Disaster
(Video, Center for American Progress, Sept. 25, 2013)
Sea-level rise is a slow-moving threat that presents a tremendous risk to some of America's most populous cities. The Center for American Progress visited Norfolk, Virginia, a city on the front lines of the fight against rising seas, to talk to residents and community leaders about their efforts to save the city and learn to live with the water. One thing is clear: Doing nothing is not an option.
(Larry Atkinson, Slover Professor of Oceanography at Old Dominion University, and co-director of ODU's Climate Change and Sea Level Rise Initiative, is featured in the piece.) (More)
ODU's prescription for growth
(Editorial, The Virginian-Pilot, Sept. 26, 2013)
Old Dominion University is a huge and growing presence in Norfolk. It employs thousands and teaches thousands more. It's a destination for sports fans and a locus for cultural arts.
Like any big neighbor, ODU has been the target of criticism from folks who live nearby. The past few weeks show signs that the school intends to improve that relationship and that it has a ways to go.
According to the school's newly unveiled master plan, ODU's physical expansion into nearby neighborhoods appears at an end. Last weekend police fanned out into those neighborhoods to crack down on student rowdiness, always a sore spot and one that had grown more difficult to ignore in recent years.
As always, follow-through will make all the difference, but signs from the university's leadership - including President John Broderick - may give neighbors reason for optimism.
The school's master plan is ambitious and continues the school's effort to raise its profile in every possible way - academically, athletically, artistically - even as it concentrates on the campus' physical plant.
"The conceptual plan does not call for expanding the campus beyond its current boundaries, instead gaining capacity by building taller structures - up to six stories," reported The Pilot's Bill Sizemore. "Much of the new construction would occur in the University Village area east of Hampton Boulevard, where ODU previously acquired land for expansion." (More)
The Houses that Microbes Build
(Astrobiology Magazine, Sept. 25, 2013)
Of the various rock structures built by microbes, stromatolites may be the most famous. These gorgeous layered formations are found in shallow bodies of water. They typically grow upward in the shape of domes, columns, or cones that can reach meters in height and thickness. As the oldest evidence for life in the fossil record, they provide insights into the early evolution of life on Earth, and serve as potential "biosignatures" when looking for life elsewhere.
But stromatolites also have a lesser-known relative, a less flamboyant two-dimensional counterpart--which may be much more widespread. In many cases, the microbal communities don't grow upward as columns or mounds, but instead build a flat deposit that can cover an area from a few millimeters to many kilometers.
"These planar structures occur everywhere--in lakes, rivers, and marine environments," says Nora Noffke, a biogeologist at Old Dominion University who has studied them for many years. "They're very common, and have also been widely distributed throughout the earth's entire history. But because they're often buried in the sediments, you really have to know what to look for in order to see them--they're not easy to detect."
Noffke recently co-authored a paper with Stan Awramik, a biogeologist at the University of California, Santa Barbara, who is a world-leading expert on stromatolites. The manuscript, published this month in a journal of the Geological Society of America, describes how each structure forms, highlighting their differences and similarities. (More)
Questioning ODU's plan
(Letter, The Virginian-Pilot, Sept. 26, 2013)
Re 'ODU's vision for its future' (front page, Sept. 21): Old Dominion University's master plan deserves no better than a grade of 'Incomplete.'
The plan includes construction of a huge new stadium on the doorstep of two neighborhoods, and the school hasn't held a single neighborhood or civic league briefing about the plan.
David Harnage, ODU's chief operating officer, said, 'We're not here to create trauma for people.' However, a lot of people living in Larchmont and Edgewater feel traumatized. They do not know what this will do to their daily lives, the value of their life's investment in their homes, their ability to come and go to their homes on football weekends, their safety, or what will happen the other 45 weekends of the year. They want to support ODU but not at the expense of their own well-being.
At the very least, ODU owes the surrounding neighborhoods a study of the impact the proposed stadium will have. We need information about the effects on real estate values, real estate tax revenues for the city, crime, traffic control, parking enforcement, litter and trash collection, and noise and light pollution.
All this will be happening after we endure the disruption for two or three years of the demolition of the existing apartments and construction of the new stadium.
This plan will affect all of Norfolk in some manner, from demands on city services to reduced income from real estate taxes to traffic on its major and secondary streets, to maintenance of its infrastructure. ...
William and Margaret Ballard, Norfolk (More)
Hunt for horror
(The Virginian-Pilot, Sept. 26, 2013)
Christina Marshall amazed the judges with her acrobatic skills and bloodcurdling screams.
No, she wasn't a contestant for a new reality TV show.
Marshall was auditioning for Hunt Club Farm's 25th annual Halloween festival.
"Would anyone care to make a wish in my well of death?" the 18-year-old screamed - with an added cackle and gory laugh. "A penny will do you no good, but an arm or a leg would!"
At auditions that started Aug. 29, Hunt Club's barn was filled with scary people who tried to frighten the judges. Marshall had high hopes of landing a part-time position because the 25th annual event is expected to attract thousands of thrill-seekers Oct. 4 through Halloween night.
Haunted hayride manager Kathy Parsons said she needed agile folks with voices loud enough to be heard over tractor noise.
Bonnie Pruitt , who co-manages the "Field of Screams" knew who she was looking for to patrol the zombie-filled, dark corn maze. "You've got to be creepy, up close and personal in somebody's face," she said.
Mistress of the graveyard Rhonda Rowe said she wanted people with good screams, bizarre movements and an imposing presence for the "Village of the Dead."
When Old Dominion University senior Erika Schaubach hopped on stage, it was obvious she'd practiced her screaming.
The Great Neck resident volunteered last year, and was promoted to a paid role as a gory Goldilocks, she said. (More)
Va. Beach councilman: Mosque threatens security
(The Virginian-Pilot, Sept. 26, 2013)
Councilman Bill DeSteph on Wednesday called a mosque the City Council approved a threat to national security and alleged it has ties to the Muslim Brotherhood.
DeSteph was the only council member to vote against the mosque Tuesday night. He said he obtained information that showed funding for the facility came from the Mosque and Islamic Center of Hampton Roads in Hampton, which he alleged has connections to the Muslim Brotherhood.
In an interview Wednesday, DeSteph would not say what the connection was or how he obtained the information, but he said he passed it to the federal government.
"The individuals that need to know about it know about it," DeSteph said. ...
Richard Scott Saunders, who leads the Virginia Beach chapter of ACT, claimed in an email Wednesday that two trustees of the Hampton mosque - Jamal Badawi and Ahmad Sakr - have ties to the Muslim Brotherhood. Neither man lives in Hampton Roads.
Ahmed Noor, the third trustee of the Hampton mosque, denied Saunders' claim. Both men are esteemed Islamic scholars, he said, adding that Sakr has spoken at the Vatican.
When the mosque was founded in 1983, Noor said the trustees and directors made certain to stay far from associations with the Muslim Brotherhood. They were critical of how the Brotherhood married politics and faith, and felt the organization forced religion on others. Since then, Noor said, they've disapproved of the group's use of violence and domination in Egypt.
If the mosque found out either Sakr or Badawi were with the Muslim Brotherhood, "they would be removed from our board of trustees," said Noor, an engineering professor at Old Dominion University. (More)
Adventures in eating: A taste of the Middle East
(The Virginian-Pilot, Sept. 25, 2013)
Chemical weapons. Jihadists. Civil war. Daily, it seems, news from the Middle East delivers images of shell-pocked cities with bodies in the streets.
And then, at my desk, a cookbook beckons, "Modern Flavors of Arabia." Lush color pictures show gilded pots of honey-colored tea, sea bass baked in spirals of grape leaves and star-shaped breakfast bread flecked with fresh thyme.
These images of the Middle East startle me. It's where crisp, green salads drizzled with pomegranate dressing and lamb chops braised in lemon juice are served family style to smiling guests.
The cookbook's 200 pages - by Suzanne Husseini, host of an Arabic cooking show - hint at a region brimming with heartfelt hospitality and humanity.
A few days later, three Saudi Arabian women in headscarves arrive at my door - Aroob Al Sahhaf, 19, Bayader Alsayegh, 23, and Afnan Saed, 21.
The Old Dominion University classmates have come to share the flavors of their homeland, which they've packed into an oversized Juicy Couture shopping bag.
Laura Ray, who teaches at ODU's English Language Center, makes the introductions, lilting names that twist my tongue. (More)
ODU's continuing service
(Letter, The Virginian-Pilot, Sept. 25, 2013)
The ODU Faculty Wives organization was founded by Virginia Webb, wife of Lewis Webb (Old Dominion University's first president) in 1950. The organization has prospered throughout the years by offering various services to the university.
As we continued to promote ODU, we found that many individuals in Hampton Roads wanted to join us in our efforts but were excluded because they were not faculty wives. Some years ago, we changed our name to focus on everyone who wanted to support our university through service and fellowship. The name 'ODU Faculty, Wives, and Friends' reflects who we are.
Our membership now includes residents of the surrounding communities of Larchmont, Ghent and Colonial Place and extends to Virginia Beach and throughout the Hampton Roads area, including Newport News and North Carolina.
ODU does much to involve the community through its valuable enrichment programs, as Karen Meier, assistant vice president of community engagement at ODU, stated in 'ODU: Commited to the community' (letter, Sept. 22). As firsthand observers of those programs, we are proud to acknowledge our community outreach in doing the same. It behooves us all to seek out the many services that ODU has offered to the community.
Juanita Raisor, Virginia Beach (More)
Cost of flood insurance poised to rise for thousands
(The Virginian-Pilot, Sept. 21, 2013)
Mother Nature has spared U.S. coastal cities from devastating hurricanes this season, but some local homeowners should brace themselves nonetheless.
The cost of flood insurance for thousands of properties in South Hampton Roads soon could go up - significantly in some cases.
Subsidies that have kept insurance costs down for many homeowners across the country will be phased out beginning Oct 1. And those discounts no longer will be transferable from owner to owner, which will add hundreds or thousands of dollars to the annual out-of-pocket costs for buyers of such homes.
On top of that, the Federal Emergency Management Agency is redrawing flood zone boundaries. Houses that aren't in a flood zone now might find themselves on the riskier side of the line once the maps are finalized in 2014. Those homes will have to be insured against flooding. ...
There is a chance the rate changes could work in a homeowner's favor. Elevation certificates might show that some residents have been paying more than they should have been, and their rates will drop. Some who are now in a risky zone might wind up in the clear when FEMA's insurance rate maps come out next year.
But the reverse is much more likely. And if that's the case, the changes could drag on Hampton Roads' real estate market, which already has been struggling under the weight of military spending cuts.
"There's no question about it. It will have some negative impact on the housing market," said Vinod Agarwal, professor of economics at Old Dominion University. (More)
No ink below the elbow or knee? Army to introduce new tattoo policy
(WTKR-TV, Sept. 23, 2013)
No more "Soldier's Cross." No more "Warrior Ethos" and no more tattoos period below the elbow or knee.
According to the Pentagon newspaper "Stars and Stripes," that's the word straight from the Command Sergeant Major of the Army, as he prepares to enact strict new tattoo regulations in the next 30-60 days.
"It's going to affect a lot of people. Everyone I know has tattoos, and they are showing everywhere," said Justin Jones, a potential new recruit.
With the new tattoo policy, the Army would become even stricter on their ink than other branches of service. ...
"I think it crosses a lot of people off the list to join," said Sean Fitzgerald, a senior at ODU thinking about joining the military.
And Fitzgerald himself is one of them. He has a small tattoo of his initials on his forearm, and never thought it would be a problem in joining the military until now.
"Now it affects me joining certain branches," said Fitzgerald. (More)
Using STEM to create new teachers
(Letter, The Virginian-Pilot, Sept. 24, 2013)
RE 'TEMPER the STEM emphasis' (Shawn Day Sunday Forum column, Sept. 22): This column about job prospects for STEM graduates and desirable workplace skills propagated several misconceptions.
The headline implied incorrectly that students earning degrees in science, technology, engineering and math are deficient in critical-thinking skills compared with graduates who earn other degrees. STEM graduates are problem-solvers, and critical thinking is at the very heart of all such disciplines.
The idea that, as the column says, 'job-specific skills can be learned at work,' also is profoundly wrong. Just because a new hire can 'think critically' in one field does not mean that he or she should be trained from scratch to work in a STEM field. Would you want such a trainee to work as a chemist in the lab that determines whether your drinking water is safe, or to work as a geologist to determine whether a new hospital site is located on an active fault line?
Students in every discipline learn to think critically about a particular body of knowledge, and I know from experience that our STEM graduates at Old Dominion University, for example, work hard throughout their college careers practicing doing just that.
The column fails to point out that there is a critical need for STEM graduates who are prepared to be educators. For many decades, science and education faculty members at ODU have worked together to prepare many students with STEM degrees to be highly qualified math or science teachers, most of whom are still working across the nation in high schools and middle schools. The attrition rate for teachers exceeds the graduation rate, however, so many more STEM teachers are needed nationwide than colleges now produce.
MonarchTeach, a new program at ODU, is designed specifically to allow STEM college majors to 'try out teaching' and see whether they want to consider being STEM school teachers. Eventually, the program will retain larger numbers of these students by providing scholarships and internships and by supporting them with mentors during their first years in the classroom.
Seed money from the state is funding the project for a few years, but like its sister UTeach programs at 34 other universities nationwide, MonarchTeach will need continuing support from benefactors across the region to prosper. MonarchTeach made a great start this summer by recruiting more than 50 incoming students for its inaugural class this fall, and it is on track to at least triple the number of highly qualified STEM teachers graduating from ODU within five years.
Rich Whittecar, Norfolk (More)